The X-Files Season 11: Our Final Thoughts

In lieu of the best and worst roundup we wrote each season while rewatching The X-Files’ original run, we’re going to summarize our thoughts on season 11, just like we did for season 10.

Plus One

20th Century Fox

Radhika: Season 11 of The X-Files has come to a close and overall, I have to say that this season of the revival ended up being much stronger than the last one, with a good chunk of the episodes actually exciting a number of Philes or at least reminding us why we enjoyed the show the first time around. The biggest disappointments for me were the season premiere and finale, though, which could play a large part in future storylines, should the show continue — or could simply end up serving as yet another lukewarm conclusion to Mulder and Scully’s story, much like the original series finale and second movie did.

Overall, I’d say this season was a success despite those episodes, because it accomplished much of what a revival typically sets out to do. While the mythology has become stale for me over time, I really enjoyed the Monster of the Week episodes here (as well as some of the combo MOTW/myth episodes), because while they didn’t necessarily break new ground, they still remained enjoyable to watch while retaining the initial spirit of the show. That served as a reminder that yes, we like spooky stories and we like it when Mulder and Scully are there to investigate them. And that’s what a revival should be able to accomplish. Continue reading

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11×10: My Struggle IV

My Struggle IV

20th Century Fox

“For so long, I believed. What am I now if not a father?” — Fox Mulder

William becomes the all consuming obsession as all factions collide to take control of the future of the human race.

Max: This is it. “My Struggle IV.” The twists and turns of the mythology come down to the miracle child Scully found out she was pregnant with all the way back in “Requiem.” To say that this episode had a lot riding on it is the understatement of the pop culture decade — or at least for the next month or so when Avengers: Infinity War takes up that mantle. X-Philes the world over have become used to a level of disappointment as far as the mythology and later episodes of the series are concerned. Hell, I’m not even sure this post can do justice to all the thoughts stirred up in the wake of what may very well be the last entry of The X-Files in an audiovisual medium, despite thoughts that Chris Carter has to the contrary.

My Struggle IV

20th Century Fox

We all know the drill by now with an episode of the mythology. A whole bunch of stuff happens and it is all so serious. Cabals plot and plan using the global population either as pawns or unwitting guinea pigs. Mulder and Scully ride in to save the day and possibly the whole planet. Here, we have William tell his story of how he went from a happy child to the most wanted teenager ever, to see everything ripped from him as his emerging powers alerted those interested to his location — it is all very X-Men, like the sage truck driver joked. The CSM wants him, Erika Price wants him, and our heroes want to keep him safe, attempting to ameliorate the past seventeen years of history. Continue reading

11×09: Nothing Lasts Forever

“I’m sorry, but we’re looking for Barbara Beaumont.” – Dana Scully
“You really don’t recognize me? I’m Barbara. I’m Barbara Beaumont.” — Barbara Beaumont
“We’re looking for an 85-year-old woman.” — Dana Scully
“Yes, well, I look good for my age, don’t I?” — Barbara Beaumont

Mulder and Scully investigate a case centered around organ harvesting and wind up stumbling across a strange cult.

Nothing Lasts Forever

20th Century Fox

Radhika: Well, this was an odd episode, while also being the type of episode that made me regret the burrito I bit into right as I watched a surgeon lick some pancreas. Did that sentence sound bizarre? Good. Because I wound up watching this episode with a detached sense of bemusement for the most part, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but does indicate the generally disorienting nature of it all.

Mulder and Scully get embroiled in a case seemingly about organ harvesting, but there’s a little more to it than meets the eye, including a cult centered around a former child actress who should be 85 years old (but looks a lot younger) and a doctor, who have seemingly been chomping on organs and also surgically attaching themselves to people to absorb their youth. It’s a bizarre monster of the week involving something of a vampiric youth-obsessed theme, as well as themes of revenge, and it’s also kind of grotesque. It’s probably not the strongest or most logical story in the show’s history, but it also manages to feel like it fits the show despite simultaneously seeming a little wacky (even for a series about the paranormal). So I’m not particularly mad that this is the second-to-last episode of the season (series?), though I’m still a little befuddled by it. Continue reading

11×08: Familiar

“I’m not convinced.” — Fox Mulder
“You sure about that Mulder.” — Dana Scully
“I’m not sure about anything.” — Fox Mulder

After the son of a police officer dies, Mulder and Scully are called to a small town to investigate his death, all while uncovering things long buried.

Familiar

20th Century Fox

Max: With only three episodes left of the season, Radhika and I expressed our interest in wanting to see one really good, creepy Monster of the Week episode before the show signs off — possibly for good. Well, be careful what you wish for, because “Familiar” gave us that and amped the deranged quotient to eleven, giving us a tableaux of violent and eldritch horrors that hearkened back to the days when the strangeness and novelty of The X-Files was still fresh in the minds and imaginations of viewers.

Everything begins so innocently, two moms taking their children to the local playground to burn off energy, when one of the children, Andrew, sees in the forest one of his favorite television show characters, a rather creepy individual known as Mr. Chuckleteeth. When no one is looking, Andrew follows him into the woods and as a result is found dead hours later when a search party locates his mauled corpse. Enter our heroes, as they immediately set up shop and declare that this is a murder despite the fact that the police are ready to call it a wildlife attack. Naturally, as with all things X-Files, cases aren’t so easily closed. Continue reading

11×07: Rm9sbG93ZXJz

“You suck, Mr. Phone.” — Fox Mulder

The machines rise up against Mulder and Scully in an episode that also revisits Mulder’s tendency to be a very bad tipper.

Rm9sbG93ZXJz

20th Century Fox

Radhika: Before we dive into this week’s discussion, I’d like to start with some shameless self promotion for a podcast Max and I had the honor to be guests on recently — the Not Another X-Files Podcast Podcast! We chatted with the hosts before tonight’s episode aired, but you can mosey on over here to listen to us talk about Season 11, the X-Files’ past and what we hope for in the future. (That is, if you’re interested in experiencing our thoughts outside a written medium).

Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” — which translates to “Followers” in base64. It’s a concept that isn’t particularly new, exploring how dangerous machines might be to us humans, and The X-files has certainly tried to explore it in the past (starting with the less successful “Ghost in the Machine” and also including the flawed but much more enjoyable “Kill Switch”). In an era with shows like Black Mirror and Mr. Robot, this episode isn’t necessarily doing something new. But it managed to feel fresh and different and still appropriate for The X-Files and for that reason, I found it to be one of the more exciting episodes we’ve had this season. Continue reading

11×06: Kitten

“I tried to suppress that mistrust but it gnawed at me. Then you two — you two came along and you taught me not to hide from it but to shine a light directly into the darkest corners.” — Walter Skinner

Upon learning that AD Skinner has gone AWOL, Mulder and Scully dig into his wartime past in search of monsters both real and perceived.

Kitten

20th Century Fox

Max: Mitch Pileggi has been playing Assistant Director Walter Skinner in one form or another for almost 24 years. Throughout, we have seen a man once thought to be a thorn in the side of our intrepid heroes become a staunch ally — and fan favorite. But this episode does remind us that we know precious little about Walter Sergei Skinner outside glimpses from “Avatar,” “Zero Sum,” and his eloquent monologue about his time in Vietnam during Scully’s harrowing road to recovery in “One Breath.” It is this period in his life that rumbles its way back to the surface in this episode, as Skinner’s complicity in some dirty deeds committed by the United States government come back to haunt him.

Kitten

20th Century Fox

Called to the office of Deputy Director Kersh (the mustache is back!!!), Mulder and Scully are grilled as to the whereabouts of their immediate supervisor, a question they actually can’t answer, despite Kersh’s belief otherwise. Their investigation brings them to the small town of Mud Lick, Kentucky, where a number of deaths and mysterious happenings occur in the shadows of Glazebrook, a government-run mental hospital. Wanting to make things right with his former comrade-in-arms John “Kitten” James, Skinner comes face-to-face with John’s son Davey, while our heroes work with a local police officer to track down their boss. Continue reading

11×05: Ghouli

“Maybe I should have had the courage to stand by you. But I thought I was being brave because it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done — to let go and to know that I was going to miss your whole life.” — Dana Scully

Mulder and Scully investigate the strange case of a couple of girls who attack each other, claiming to see a monster, but soon realize that the case is more about them.

Ghouli

20th Century Fox

Radhika: We’re halfway through season 11 and it looks like the writers decided to give us an episode that feels like a Monster of the Week, but is really something of a mythology episode in the end. With its spooky opening, this episode feels somewhat vintage X-Files when it starts, but then it digs into the story of Mulder and Scully’s son, William, and we find ourselves in some mixed-up territory.

Mulder and Scully are looking into an X-File (shortly after Scully has a “waking dream” that mirrors the visions she was having in the “My Struggle” episodes) involving two girls who attacked each other, each claiming to have seen a monster that they insist was the culprit. Both teens have a boyfriend in common — a Jackson Van de Kamp, who Mulder and Scully decide to visit, only to find the boy may have killed himself and his parents in a murder-suicide. But something doesn’t feel quite right, and as Scully realizes they’re in the house she was in during her dreamlike episode, she begins to suspect that the case has something to do with William, the son she gave up years ago. Continue reading