I review a whole season rather than individual episodes, so there is a chance of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the whole season yet, stop reading now!
I made a bold claim that every tv show should stop after five seasons – The X-Files proves that this doesn’t always have to be the case. The sixth season of the X-Files could very well be the best of the show (so far) because after five seasons and a movie, the show is at its most assured and most self-aware, making it brilliant television.
The first thing to address is the fact that it does follow-on from the movie, making that part of the actual shows history and even plays into the first episode in a huge way. It does a great job of bringing the conclusion of season 5 and the film together and creates a scary, interesting and focused conspiracy episode that blasts opens the season and sets its stall out clearly.
What follows is a mix of episodes that are serious, scary and thriller based, as well as more light-hearted, comedic and downright silly shows too. The more serious episodes are great highlights for the season. The second episode features a younger, pre-Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston and a really bad headache in the episode “Drive,” while Mitch Pileggi’s Skinner gets his customary episode when he is infected with a deadly disease which brings him to the brink of death. These types of episodes demonstrate The X-Files at their best, as fast paced, intelligent thrillers.
Of course, the main draw for a lot of fans is the overall conspiracy. The conspiracy was laid out really clearly, giving almost everything away last season and now we have been introduced to alien/human hybrids, we just get smaller steps towards “the invasion.” There are very good conspiracy episodes this season but you can’t help feeling that something new needs to be injected and after the introduction of a new alien species in the movie and first episodes, it’s a shame that this is never heard of again (for this season at least).
Instead, unusually, the monster episodes are the real triumph of the shows sixth season. You can tell the show is confident with its audience and its style when it attempts some of the more outlandish X-Files cases, for example the Dreamland two-parter which sees Mulder swap bodies with an obnoxious CIA agent (Freaky Friday style) or the episode where Mulder is caught in the Bermuda Triangle and sent back to the Second World War to battle Nazis on a cruise liner. These are just some of the great ideas of this season, which also features a “Groundhog Day” episode and an episode set almost entirely in the past involving a baseball playing alien. They may seem silly and completely at odds with the more serious, conspiracy episodes, but they work.
A huge part of that success is still David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. They are six years into playing Mulder and Scully and so comfortable in the roles that their chemistry and acting seems effortless. They sell the seriousness of key situations, with fear for each others safety or being involved in risky, life-threatening situations. They also know how to convey the humour of their characters, the best example being the episode where the pair go undercover as husband and wife, playing on the chemistry and the outcome most fans would hope for.
As an overall season, it’s definitely one of the best. Season six represents a show at the height of its popularity, writing and acting talent and knowledge of its ability. It finishes well, with David Duchovny getting a fantastic cliffhanger role which makes me even more excited for season 7.
Overall, the sixth season is a great mix of thriller and comedy, conspiracies and monsters. The alien aspect of the show may be stumbling and faltering over the length of the series existence but the monster episodes more than make up for it. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are still as brilliant as ever as the central pair and I can now add season six of the show to my list of series that prove there is still life on tv after five seasons.
Best Episode – Drive; A thrilling and exciting episode with a great ending and a brilliant performance from the future Walter White.
Best performance – David Duchovny as Mulder
Should there have been another season? – Yes, season 6 of The X-Files proves there is still life in the alien saga yet.
Season Rating – 4
(1-3 – awful/avoid. 4-6 – average. 7-8 – good. 9-10 – fantastic.)