Last night the first new X-Files episode in almost 14 years aired. This morning I watched that episode, and felt like a teenager again.
It feels like a rollercoaster, this last year. The last few years, in fact, with the XF3 campaign and hints that new work had been written. And then the new series was announced and everywhere my friends – many of whom I met through our love of the show – were tweeting and Facebook: can this be happening? Is this happening? It’s really happening!
This time round we had social media. When The X-Files aired I didn’t have the internet at home. I talked about episodes the day after they aired in school with my friend. At the end of Season 4 I really believed Mulder had died. This year I’ve followed David and Gillian and Mitch, retweeting their tweets and favouriting their Facebook posts. I’ve tweeted @thexfiles and watched gif after gif, and I’ve texted with friends all over the world who were just as excited as me.
I read the reviews, the think pieces that said “The X-Files should not be coming back” and “will it be as bad as the last film” and “the first episode is boring and slow paced”. Good and bad I read them all and not just because my PhD is on The X-Files. I went into I Want To Believe unspoilt but for season 10 I dived in headfirst, and it made me all the more giddy to see my show return.
And it returned, and it was perfect. Yes, there was exposition (the show’s been off air and, let’s be honest, Chris Carter wrote the episode). But there was far less exposition than I had come to expect after reading all the reviews, and less than there has been on some of the original series’ episodes. But above and beond that it felt so true to me. This is Mulder and Scully, world-weary and exhausted and wanting to believe and stepping off that edge and trying to pull back at the same time. This is the heart of the show. Was it aliens or was it men has been going on since season 1, and nothing in My Struggle retcons or reinvents that. There are aliens, and there are men, and there is a conspiracy. And that’s the way it’s always been. But in all of that there’s also Mulder and Scully, circling each other, saving each other. Scully sees Mulder starting to believe when he still denies he can and she tries to save him. Mulder is as desparate to believe as he ever was even though it’s cost him Scully, Scully, who he cannot function without. Because as much as the X-Files was Mulder’s life it was even more of Scully’s. It’s Mulder’s voice we hear in the teaser but it’s Scully we see first, Scully who has always been the viewer’s gateway to the X-Files and to Mulder.
I loved this episode. I loved the cinematography, the VFX, the long glances and the exasperated ‘Mulder’s. The cloaking technology, the nod to Jose Chung, Mark Snow’s score, the texts and tweets and phone calls with friends. Even the exposition. Because this was classic X-Files, original X-Files, X-Files that has grown older and knows that its fans have grown older with it. And watching it, I felt like I was a teenager again.