Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Silver Age The X-Files: Season 10 Meanders Along The Familiar.

The Good: Good performances, Moments of entertainment
The Bad: Poor continuity, Repetitive quality
The Bottom Line: The X-Files - The Complete Tenth Season returns Mulder and Scully to the F.B.I. and their familiar roles with a fairly familiar plot and adversary.

Nothing speaks to me about how little I enjoy something by how long it takes me to actually finish it. Back when The X-Files returned to television for a six-episode limited Tenth Season, my wife bought me the season and it seemed like it would be a slam dunk of a gift. But, alas, two episodes in and I gave up on the season. The bulk of the season remained unwatched, much like my repeated attempts to get through the second season of Revolution and the final season of Parenthood. But, with the eleventh season of The X-Files kicking off, I figured that it was time to bite the bullet and plow through the tenth season of The X-Files.

My only issue with The X-Files going into the tenth season was that it was hard to imagine just what the show had not done already. The X-Files ran for nine seasons with several permutations to the cast, with two feature films - during the series and after - and, despite the slapdash nature of the way the show's fundamental conspiracy was created, its main arcs were pretty well played out. The X-Files (reviewed here!), in its serialized elements, told the story of an F.B.I. team that slowly uncovered an international conspiracy surrounding alien visitors to Earth. Shadowy government agents from around the world worked with aliens to prepare Earth for an alien colonization before agents Mulder and Scully managed to derail their work and stop their insidious plan. The major players in the government conspiracy were all killed and while there were other aliens still infecting or influencing Earth, the show got to the point where the main danger had passed . . . and there were seasons afterward that were awkward filler.

The idea that it had all been done for The X-Files surfaces almost immediately in the tenth season as, once again, it begins to look like the alien invasion conspiracy on Earth is just an elaborate government conspiracy. Fans of The X-Files will easily recall that idea from the entire plotline surrounding Kritschgau, the apparent suicide of Mulder, and the period that found Mulder entirely disillusioned until he was able to use alien-derived technology to help cure Scully's cancer. Scully started as an active disbeliever until her use of the scientific method allowed her to confirm extraterrestrial influence, genetic mutations and previously undiscovered natural phenomenon, like massive fungi. So, The X-Files has done pretty much all it could and it returns for a tenth season, more than a decade after it went off the air, to provide viewers with more of the same, including a pretty standard The X-Files comedy episode.

Opening with the crash in Roswell, New Mexico, 1947, the government coverup of U.F.O.s begins in earnest. Flashing forward to 2015, Doctor Dana Scully is preparing for surgery when she is contacted by Skinner. Skinner uses Scully to get in touch with Mulder, to put him in contact with a conspiracy theorist who has a popular television show. Scully and Mulder meet Tad O'Malley, who brings them to a remote location in Low Moore, Virginia, where they are introduced to Sveta, a former abductee. Sveta tells the former agents about experiments that have been performed repeatedly upon her, including her fetuses being repeatedly harvested by what she believes to be aliens. O'Malley takes Mulder to a facility where Mulder is shown an alien replica craft and Mulder returns to Sveta where she reveals that she believes she has been abducted by government agents, not extraterrestrials. Mulder meets with an old contact, a man who performed medical experiments at Roswell, who helps convince him that alien technology is being used by government agents against the human populace.

Following the murder of Sveta, Mulder and Scully investigate an apparent suicide at Nugenics, a company with Defense Department ties that is experimenting on children. Mulder and Scully then go to Seattle to investigate an apparent werewolf murder. The pair investigates a serial killer, while Scully's mother goes into a coma. Following the death of her mother, Scully finds herself in a precarious place when two young agents approach the agents for help with communicating with a near-death (would-be) suicide bomber.
The season climaxes with a biological epidemic that promises to be the endgame of the new conspiracy against the human race . . .

. . . if Chris Carter and his staff have the will to see it through. The fundamental problem with the tenth season of The X-Files, other than it being criminally short for a season and resurrecting the show's primary human villain yet again, is that when it is not being derivative of its own works, the season treads in the same direction as Christ Carter's other big show, Millennium. The second season of Millennium (reviewed here!) climaxed with a world-ending virus and it was such a powerful move that in order for the show to return for its third season, the writers and producers had to pretty much redefine the scale of what occurred in the second season finale and sweep it under the rug. Millennium exists in the same universe as The X-Files and as the tenth season of The X-Files rushes toward its climax, it builds a cataclysm and begins to undo it, which has a painfully familiar feel to it.

The tenth season of The X-Files is well-performed by its principle cast. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny slide easily back into their well-established roles. Duchovny is low-key as Mulder and Anderson makes her way around the jargon and disbelief Scully is usually saddled with nicely. Lauren Ambrose fits nicely into the universe of The X-Files as Agent Einstein; the show returns with a familiar look and feel to it, allowing viewers to return without feeling like they are watching a different show.

As one might expect, the tenth season of The X-Files is dominated on the character front by:

Fox Mulder - Having become a recluse, he returns to the field and the F.B.I. thanks to Skinner. Convinced that the Sveta is the key to proving that the conspiracy surrounding extraterrestrial influence on Earth, he once again believes himself to be the victim of a massive hoax. But, as he witnesses more technology and medical science than ever before, he comes to believe that alien technology is being used by humans to bring about armageddon,

and Dana Scully - Now a medical doctor as Our Lady Of Sorrows hospital, she tries to do good - assisting surgeons with giving children born without ears new appendages. She remains one of the few people with the ability to easily contact Mulder and when Skinner asks her to, she brings Mulder back to Washington. When she gets genetic proof that both she and Sveta have alien DNA, she becomes committed to returning to the X-Files. She is disturbed when her mother falls into a coma and asks for her estranged brother, as opposed to her. As the cases progress, she comes to believe that humanity stands on the precipice of extinction and that her alien DNA might be the key to either destruction or saving the world!

The tenth season of The X-Files adds surprisingly little to the overall story. In fact, outside Scully and Mulder actually dealing the the death of a parent in a realistic way - the deaths of Mulder's parents were glossed over with cases and conspiracies and the death of Scully's father came as a way for Scully to be vulnerable to a serial killer - the tenth season repeats more than it innovates.

Ironically, The X-Files Season 10 hinges almost entirely upon how it is followed up upon in Season 11. If the season's climax is brushed under the rug, like Millennium, then season ten stands as a disappointing waste of time; if the eleventh season actually ties together the conspiracies and commits to the apocalypse then the tenth season is an important prelude to what Chris Carter has painstakingly built.

For other works from the 2015 – 2016 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Love - Season 1
Agent Carter - Season 2
Orange Is The New Black - Season 4
The Flash - Season 2
Game Of Thrones - Season 6
Grace And Frankie - Season 2
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3
The Walking Dead - Season 6
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 2
Legends Of Tomorrow - Season 1
Jessica Jones - Season 1
Daredevil - Season 2
House Of Cards - Season 4
Rick And Morty - Season 2
Doctor Who - Season 9


For other television set reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2018 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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