If you read my review of the first episode of The X-Files revisit, then you know I was NOT impressed at all. It felt like series creator/writer/director Chris Carter wanted to a) piss off the Xphile faithful, b) do away with almost every scrap of 9 seasons worth of mythology, and c) force the now rusty Mulder and Scully into a situation they weren’t ready for.
I am so happy to say the second episode in the 6 part mini series is BETTER. Better as in EXACTLY WHAT THE SHOW CAN BE, when the correct writer and director takes the helm. I honestly don’t understand why they didn’t lead with “Founder’s Mutation”. In a facebook discussion with a colleague from The Digital Bits, the question of why didn’t Carter revisit his mess of a first episode after seeing the second and fix the damn thing? There’s no telling with that man, honestly. In a way, his handling of the show can be likened to the many many Whovians who spew vitriol at Moffat for his misuse of characters.
But in the second episode? OUR AGENTS ARE BAAAAACK! That awkward “how do we do this again” feel of the first episode is gone, and it’s like seeing our two best friends after months away. The passing of time is felt of course, but familiarity and banter come crashing back. Bonus points for using brilliant character actor Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica, Stargate) in a minor role. And no monster of the week episode is complete without a scene in Skinner’s office.
Without getting into specific spoilers (even though in reality, there aren’t many to be had in S10E2), this episode held a file cabinet full of callbacks and easter eggs to the early days of the special agents. Things like a creepy janitor passing Mulder and Scully in a hallway as they head towards an investigation, much like Tooms in “Squeeze”, a high pitched tone only certain people can hear causing suicide like in “Drive”, a doctor doing experiments on children with possible cloning of alien DNA like in “Eve”, and a few others that almost fit but not entirely. We could even say “Terms of Endearment” with the parents/stolen babies, and “End Game” with the alien DNA thing.
My partner isn’t a full on Xphile like I am, so I took him on a crash course of scenes right after the episode to show him exactly what I meant by the influences. I was almost expecting the opening scenes of the guy at his computer terminal to tie into “Killswitch Engage”, with the killer AI program being loose on the internet. I REALLY wanted someone to play the song Twilight Time just because. Seeing Dr. Scully back in the autopsy room was something, wasn’t it? She hasn’t done that (that we’ve seen) in so long, I had to pull up the scene in “Bad Blood” with the ‘vampires’ just to laugh. The flashbacks/not real memories Mulder and Scully experience semi-tie into the last three minutes of episode “Existence”.
Thank you THANK YOU to writer/director James Wong for the episode, for the return of my favorite truth seeking tv personalities in such a profound way. If the remaining four episodes are done like THIS one, I won’t complain. Nearly as much. Mostly.