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!
When The X-Files left our TV screens in 2002 it felt like unfinished business. The final time we actually saw Mulder and Scully was in the poor 2008 movie which felt like nothing more than an extended episode. For many of the loyal fans of the supernatural series, a return to the screens, even for a mini-series of just 6 episodes, was welcome news.
Unfortunately, fans would be forgiven for getting worried when the first episode of season 10 aired. In one sixty minute episode, series creator and episode one writer Chris Carter has to re-introduce the two FBI agents, get them back into the X-Files and then get them involved in a brand new conspiracy worth a new series. This is the first big issue the series runs into and it doesn’t handle it well.
The episode is a mess. It does in one episode what the original run of the series took at least two or three episodes to do and it just feels rushed. We get a new conspiracy, a look at an alien spaceship, dodgy meetings in secluded areas and the worse case of five minute, complete story exposition you’ve ever seen. It is messy and it leaves the audience more than a little worried.
Luckily, Carter manages to waylay those worries by going back to a much better, tried and tested formula of “monster of the week” cases. These all have supernatural elements, ranging from psychic twins, a grotesque garbage man killer and a misjudged story about the afterlife and the effect of magic mushrooms. These are all unique, well-written and funny cases that bring the best element of the series to the forefront, the relationship between Mulder and Scully.
No episode does this better than Mulder and Scully meet the Were-Monster. It is a clever and funny mystery which plays with everything that we know about The X-Files. Mulder is the sceptic, Scully wants to believe and the “monster” is the funniest we have seen in The X-Files for a long time. It is a brilliant guest appearance by Rhys Darby which recalls great guest appearances that the original nine year run of the show enjoyed.
It isn’t just about the guest cast, or the returning characters, which in just a six run series are never anything but extended cameos, but it’s about Mulder and Scully. Their chemistry has never been better and when they start their back and forth about the case, especially over a freshly autopsied corpse, it feels like it is classic X-Files once more.
Gillian Anderson’s Scully even gets a decent story-arc. The death of her mother and the constant referrals back to her son William mean that Anderson gets to stretch her dramatic legs and that this series really feels like a proper instalment of the show, rather than charitable off-shoot or attempt to feel out any possible popularity.
Unfortunately, this leads to the final episode of the six and back to the conspiracy that launched the season. Carter struggles to tell an overly ambitious story in his 60 minutes once again and the rushed, half-coherent conspiracy from the first episode returns. It also does something infuriating for a mini-series with an unsure future – ends on an ambiguous cliffhanger. Hopefully the success of the middle of the series is enough to guarantee a season 11.
Overall, season 10 of The X-Files was a mixed bag but mostly a return to form. This was down to the great “monster of the week” episodes which reminded viewers what The X-Files does best; funny, pacey and very clever storytelling. Mulder and Scully return with the same great chemistry that they always had and this is enough to carry the series, even through a poor conspiracy which is hugely under-written and rushed.
Best Episode – Mulder and Scully meet the Were-Monster: A classic X-Files episode which highlights the best of the series.
Best performance – Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully
Should there be another season? – Definitely but longer than six episodes. Give Carter room to tell a good conspiracy story.
Season Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)