Nearly fourteen years after its television incarnation ended and a little over seven years since Mulder and Scully were last seen on screen together, The X-Files has returned for a six-episode miniseries event on Fox. It was a long road getting to this point, and while the series stars and creator were all equally enthusiastic about reviving the franchise, scheduling proved to be a significant obstacle. If anything, Gillian Anderson was comparatively reticent about getting back into the ginger wig, having extended commitments to Hannibal on NBC, the Lifetime miniseries War & Peace, and her ongoing role as central character Stella Gibson in the excellent BBC dramatic thriller The Fall. David Duchovny has been busy as well (although if it were a competition, Gillian would probably win). After having wrapped his seventh and final season of the Showtime series Californication, he moved on to the NBC series Aquarius, which pits his detective Sam Hodiak against a young Charles Manson in the late 60s. He released a CD of folksy rock tunes in 2014, which put him on the road with a few limited tour dates. Finally, in the middle of 2015, their schedules aligned to allow for the six-episode event which premiered Sunday evening. After a quick glimpse of the famed Roswell crash in 1947, we catch up with Mulder and Scully in the present day. Scully is still practicing medicine at Our Lady of Sorrows hospital, just as we last saw her in 2008’s film I Want to Believe. Mulder is still living the hermit’s life in the house they had once lived together, but don’t seem to share any longer. They are contacted through AD Skinner at the FBI by a neo-conservative Beltway web-show host named Tad O’Malley. He introduces them to a young woman named Sveda who claims to have been abducted multiple times by men within the US Government in order to perform genetic experiments upon her using DNA harvested from the Roswell alien. As Mulder and Scully get drawn further into the case, they are forced to confront each other and their memories of William, the child they shared but were forced to give up fourteen years earlier in order to protect him from UFO cultists convinced he was some sort of Messianic fulfillment of a prophecy they held dear. Working alongside O’Malley, Mulder uncovers deeper truths about the conspiracy he had pursued for so many years as an agent of the now-defunct X-Files. In light of the events of this episode, Skinner is able to push for the reopening of the X-Files unit, calling Mulder and Scully back into the bureau. Was it worth the wait? The fan inside me who has been avidly following this series since 1993 would like to jump up and down and answer that question by shouting to the heavens that it was everything he could have ever hoped for. But the ever-so-slightly jaded critic feels the need to rear his ugly head and respond with a firm “we’ll just have to wait and see.” The premiere felt like a game of inches. Bumpy, uneven inches. It was necessary after all this time to take pause to reestablish the characters. Because it is a series which has constantly maintained a tenuous footing in its concurrent time (even if only by means of the portrait assortment on the walls of Skinner’s office), this premiere needed to take some time to adjust to the fact that more than seven years have passed since we last saw Mulder and Scully, and those years haven’t been spent on a Caribbean beach. The loss of their child, Mulder’s untreatable seemingly biological depression, and Scully’s need for normalcy have taken a toll on both of them. As we rejoin them, they both seem tired and far less vibrant than ever before, which can’t help but dampen the triumph we, as fans, want to feel at seeing them together again. It isn’t until halfway through the episode that the old chemistry begins to stir. As much as I hate to cast aspersions, much of the stiltedness seems to fall on Scully’s shoulders. She’s cold and standoffish for much of the episode. Mulder’s prods and jabs regarding what would seem to indicate her abandonment of their relationship do nothing to warm her up, either. Give her a British accent, and it would be difficult to tell Dana Scully apart from Stella Gibson for much of the hour. So, yeah, we had to spend some time getting the band back together and establishing a new baseline for the series. Once all these preliminary expositions had been accomplished, it felt like we were finally ready to begin. If one is watching a cooking show, they usually don’t show the part where all the ingredients are collected before the preparations begin, but sometimes that sort of thing is necessary in storytelling. This is not to say that the first half of the premiere was without merit, it just felt uneven and sort of slow to ignite. The highlight of the first half-hour was finally seeing the definitive X-Files version of the Roswell crash. While discussed at varying lengths sporadically throughout the original series, a full accounting of that pivotal historic event have remained shrouded. Clearly these details will factor heavily into this miniseries, as our man on the scene in 1947 Roswell is now acting as Mulder’s new informant. The guy has to be in his late eighties, at least. Mulder’s conversation with the Old Man on the National Mall was the turning point of the episode for me. Maybe it was the direct hearkening to the show’s first season finale that finally put me on secure footing. Remember when Jerry Hardin’s Deep Throat character told Mulder that “Roswell was a smokescreen” in “The Erlenmeyer Flask”? By immediately following this scene with one in which Mulder and Scully finally have a conversation that actually sounds like Mulder and Scully having a conversation, it’s nearly possible to look at the first twenty minutes as a prologue for the rest of the miniseries. Not that the rest of the episode was an entirely smooth ride, but at least it felt like the sort of inconsistency which was common to the X-Files. A Carter script nearly always bore the risk of spinning off into some sort of expository paranoid wasteland, and it very nearly does once Mulder gets his dander up. Thankfully, by that time, Scully has shifted back into typical Scully-ness and drags him back from his personal stratosphere. The real wild card in this episode is Tad O’Malley. I can’t even begin to entertain the possibility of taking this guy at face value. His condescension to Mulder and Scully, even after actively seeking them out for their expertise does nothing to build trust. I’ll be watching to see how his agenda plays out. Could he be trying to use Mulder to gain access to the Old Man? Or is he a tool of the forces he says he’s trying to rally against? Or could it be both? It’s surprising that the basement office hasn’t been touched (even the poster is still on the rubbish pile on the floor) in over a decade. What’s more, Skinner has been unable to find where the X-Files were moved, even though he told Agent John Doggett back in the original series’ finale (“The Truth”) that he was aware of their disappearance and seeking them. Speaking of Doggett, remember how he so carefully rolled up the “I Want to Believe” poster and carried it around with him after the office was gutted in the series finale? And now it’s back on the rubbish pile? Also, wouldn’t someone have taken those pencils down from the ceiling sometime in the last fifteen years? It almost seems like it could be staged to draw Mulder back into the bureau, but I don’t want to believe Skinner would employ such manipulation. The bromantic moment shared between him and Mulder is a pleasantly warm surprise, and I want to believe that Skinner remains the steadfast rock which Mulder and Scully can anchor against. But still, such blatant inconsistency makes me think maybe it’s best to trust no one. Some of the fun of the episode was hunting for Easter Eggs. Apart from Mulder’s nostalgic trip down memory lane during the opening sequence and the Old Man’s restatement of Deep Throat’s words from the first season finale, I personally took note of Mulder’s insistence that he’d never seen anything like the Zero-Point energy craft in the hangar. The snag in that assertion is that this craft is very similar (nearly identical?) to the one he encountered in the original series’ second episode “Deep Throat” after sneaking through the perimeter fence of Ellens Air Force Base in Idaho. Before he is released to Scully at the end of that episode, his memories of the encounter are tampered with by base personnel meaning that he very likely isn’t being coy. He really hasn’t a recollection of ever having seen anything like this craft. Apart from the series regulars, another familiar face appeared in the episode as well. The doctor in the hangar with the Zero-Point Energy craft is played by actor Hiro Kanagawa, who had appeared previously in two relatively early X-Files episodes. He was Peter Tanaka in the second season episode “Firewalker” as well as Dr. Yonechi in season four’s “Synchrony.” He also appeared in four separate roles in as many episodes of the X-File’s sister show Millennium as well as on an episode of the X-Files spin-off The Lone Gunmen. The guy gets around. Overall, the premiere was a promising start, even if it wasn’t a stellar hour of television. The production quality was good, the direction was consistent (if pedantic at times), and the performances were solid. Even if it was hard to swallow Scully’s characterization, Anderson’s portrayal of a woman suddenly being thrust back into a life from which she had walked away was entirely genuine and above reproach. Duchovny slipped into a sort of a rogue version of Fox Mulder, practically mumbling his way through dialogue and being generally disagreeable in that charmingly Mulder way. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the alterations of the series mythology which were introduced in this episode, and will need to learn more before passing judgement. A total retcon isn’t exactly Chris Carter’s style, so I’m willing to trust that there is a method to his madness. If anything, the new information serves to fill some holes left in the evolving mythology of the original show. Ultimately, having the X-Files back is a great thing. Now that Skinner has reopened the division, it’s finally possible to get our two favorite agents neck-deep in some monster-hunting freakiness. And maybe along the way they can uncover a few more details about this pesky little plot against humanity. Maybe they’ll even encounter the man who seems to behind it all, hiding in a cloud of smoke. Like I said before, we’ll just have to wait and see. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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