With two episodes still to go, we’re nearly through the triumphant return of The X-Files to television — but seeing Mulder and Scully back in the ET-chasing, weirdo-investigating business has already inspired a full range of emotional responses among the show’s fans.
The new and improved X-Files miniseries is a natural step forward for the series, while also acting as a comforting throwback to everything that made it a hit in the first place. And just as with the show’s original nine-year primetime run, some elements are stronger than others. Here’s what to love — and hate — about the show so far.
HATE: The alien apocalypse is at hand, again. And it makes no sense. Again.
If you were hoping that the show’s infuriatingly twisty and opaque mythology might have congealed into something more straightforward this time around… nope. The new series opener, “My Struggle,” could easily have referred to the individual angst of every viewer who tried to make sense of its new, multi-layered conspiracy involving the implantation of alien DNA into unsuspecting humans, by a shadow group of mysterious elites, which is secretly run by the Smoking Man — who’s alive, by the way! Surprise! With only three episodes left to untangle this web of lies and intrigue, you can probably guess right now: They’re not gonna. On the upside, it does set the stage for Mulder and Scully to make this comeback an annual event.
LOVE: Cameos! Oh, the cameos.
The original X-Files was a veritable buffet of famous and familiar faces (Ryan Reynolds, you guys!), and the latest installment has made it a point to ring that same bell. From the inspired casting of Joel McHale as a right-wing conspiracy nut, to the surprise appearance of Hannibal’s Kacey Rohl as a pregnant experimentee, to the return of Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker-Smith as the show’s original paint-huffing nitwits, playing “Hey, it’s that guy!” with each new episode has been a blast.
HATE: It might be a little too Easter eggy.
Some of the show’s attempts at fan service have seriously fallen flat (see: that utterly cringe-worthy “I want to believe!” exchange in the premiere episode), and others feel like complete non sequiturs unless you’ve recently done a full re-watch of the original series from start to finish — which not all of us had time to do, okay? Geez, X-Files. We do have lives.
LOVE: The show still has its sense of humor.
With only six episodes’ worth of content to play with, would Chris Carter dare to devote a week to completely goofing off? Answer: Yes, and it was spectacular. “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was a stellar entry into the show’s annals of total absurdity, complete with hilarious nihilistic musings on the nature of humanity and a delightfully un-CGI monster in terrible underwear.
HATE: Mulder and Scully have lost that lovin’ feeling.
We didn’t go through nine seasons and two movies of will-they-or-won’t-they just to see Mulder and Scully break up, but… ugh, they did. And in the show’s first episode, not only did the central couple of The X-Files struggle to recapture the magic of their working relationship, but David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson had a dismaying lack of chemistry where they used to make sparks fly.
LOVE: …Or have they?
But wait, ’cause there’s hope yet: Despite that early awkwardness, the last two weeks left no doubt that the show has got its groove back — and the scenes between Mulder and Scully have all their original humor and tenderness, and then some. (Not to mention that Mulder is still wearing that red Speedo. MEOW.)
Of course, it’s still too soon to declare the show’s return an out-and-out victory, or to start celebrating the eventual romantic reunion of our beloved agents. But as we pass the halfway point and head into the back stretch, well… yes. I want to believe. I want so badly to believe.