The X-Files, season 10 episode 1 “My Struggle”

Two Augusts ago I moved from Massachusetts to Baltimore, to live with my now fiancé. One of the things we decided to do right away was start watching The X-Files. I had watched it through a couple times, but mostly in the background while I drew. We finished our watch-through about a month ago, and tonight the first episode of the new season, fourteen years after its last, premiered. I bring this up to point out that we’re in the position to see this new season in the context of everything that’s come before.

In that view this episode was a complete indulgence in one of The X-Files’s worst habits, having characters react emotionally in a way that moves the plot along but is in response to something they have no knowledge of. This, not its labyrinthian plot, is the source of much of the confusion one experiences when watching the show. Usually it’s not a big deal. This episode however consisted of almost nothing but. Characters yelling at each other as if what was happening was the most important thing ever, complete trust given suddenly, and withholding of information; all of these things happen for no reason, and the effects can be downright comedic. But they’re required to move the episode to its (even still) hasty conclusion.

Like I said. Usually, not a big deal. A lot of the middling reviews I’ve seen for the new X-Files has revolved around the writing, and I rolled my eyes at that. The writing on X-Files has most often been poor. Some exceptions for sure, but it’s never been among the shows strongest offerings. (Which for the record are visuals, performance, and format which, in this episode the former two are non-existent and fine respectively, and the latter has been rendered redundant by The X-Files’s massive influence.) But having now seen the episode I’m no longer rolling my eyes, as it had nothing to offer but The X-Files’s good ol’ dopey writing. Nothing fascinating or weird, no atmosphere, just people talking about something that turned out to be nothing. Decades of history meant to feel like a huge reveal, but is actually a relatively inconsequential thread in the face of the twelve years of history the show previously established.

It might have felt necessary to the creators to catch up old viewers, and introduce new ones, with a hit of pure unfiltered X-Files. But it got lost in X-Filesing so hard that, I would think, it failed both audiences. And anyway, in a couple of years when this is slapped on the end of the previous nine seasons on Netflix none of that will mean shit anyway, and this will look completely ridiculous.

These are problems it stands to reason will not be an issue in the next four episodes, which supposedly will not concern themselves with the overarching plot of The X-Files and focus instead on the done-in-one stories. Those should’t have the pressures to buckle under this one did. I’m looking forward to them. Although I hope they lean off of the CGI.

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