content by

Meghan Deans

Reopening The X-Files: I Want to Believe

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
A Major Motion Picture
US Release Date: July 24, 2008

It’s been six years since the series finale of The X-Files and now there’s this movie. And you’re going to see the movie, that’s inevitable. You wouldn’t say you’re looking forward to it, but you’re going to see it. You’re a fan and all. It’s just, it’s been six years. Not to mention ten years since the last movie, can you believe that? Ten years? The release date of Fight the Future is forever burned in your memory; this one you just know is coming out “sometime this summer.” You don’t see the trailer, you don’t read reviews, you don’t even buy advance tickets. You just end up seeing it, one sticky summer day, in the basement of your least favorite theater in town.

[Don’t give up.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “The Truth”

Season 9, Episodes 19 and 20: “The Truth”
Original Airdate: May 19, 2002

I have a confession to make: the word “truth” means nothing to me. I mean—no, I mean—it means something. Like, I know what meaning it has. But after nine seasons of The X-Files, “searching for the truth” seems to me an inert concept. Unmasking your villains, exposing conspiracies, these acts have unmistakable value. But once you’ve done those things, what’s next? Shouldn’t uncovering the truth be the beginning of the work, not the end?

[You won’t give up, even now.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Release”

Season 9, Episode 17: “Release”
Original Airdate: May 5, 2002

“Release” is not an X-File. Which is not so surprising; not every X-File is an X-File. What is surprising is that “Release” is closure, aka basically something the show never ever likes to do ever, because, you know, just in case maybe someday you need to bring back a character and cover him in makeup and have him pretend to be someone else so that you can get rid of that baby that was annoying everyone. Wait, what were we talking about? 

[You should know there’s a real good chance you’re nuts.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “William”

Season 9, Episode 16: “William”
Original Airdate: April 28, 2002

And just when you thought that The X-Files was out of twists, here’s a hell of a one: “Directed by David Duchovny.” Holy what. The man can no longer be bothered to mumble some nonsense about mutant genetics but he’s down to sit in the director’s chair, and also to get a co-writing credit on the script? And what’s more, he seems to be pretty good at directing? Kudos to you, The X-Files, you constantly find new paranormal avenues to explore. Too bad about this baby though.

[They don’t pay me enough.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Jump the Shark”

Season 9, Episode 15: “Jump the Shark”
Original Airdate: April 21, 2002

If you, like me, did not watch The Lone Gunmen—the X-Files spin-off starring our favorite hacker/comic-relief trio—then you, like me, might find “Jump the Shark” to be both baffling and disappointing. If you did watch The Lone Gunmen then I suspect you will find the episode to be simply disappointing. Perhaps the episode’s title is a self-fulfilling prophecy? Or perhaps it’s just not a good idea to resolve your canceled show’s cliffhanger in the context of your almost-canceled show. (Did we learn nothing from “Millennium”?)(No, we didn’t.)

[I cannot make magic with substandard equipment.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Improbable”

Season 9, Episode 13: “Improbable”
Original Airdate: April 14, 2002

There is a lot of God in The X-Files, which is not really a surprise. The X-Files is often a show about explaining the unexplainable. It is also often a show about not being able to explain the unexplainable, and God is handy for that sort of thing. Unfortunately, the show’s Biblical parallels tend to be more exhausting than enlightening—which is why “Improbable” is such a pleasant (dare I say, improbable) surprise.

[There’s no getting rid of me.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Provenance”/”Providence”

Season 9, Episodes 9 and 10: “Provenance”/“Providence”
Original Airdates: March 3 and March 10, 2002

There’s something familiar about “Provenance” and “Providence.” A sprawling two-part mytharc, a UFO cult, a long-haired cult leader, a suspicious man pulling the strings at the FBI, an agent in a coma, bodies burned beyond recognition, a once-buried UFO taking off before anyone can figure out exactly what it’s there for, men who come back to life, and a Messiah. Perhaps you’ve felt that Season 9 was a departure? But perhaps, in fact, Season 9 is just like all the others.

[Whatever you do, don’t worry.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “John Doe”

Season 9, Episode 7: “John Doe”

Original Airdate: January 13, 2002

So, I like John Doggett. I actually like him a whole lot. I like him in spite of the fact that his characterization is often inconsistent and that his development has suffered while the show has struggled to find new traction in the post-everything era. He’s as willful as Mulder was, and, like Mulder, has had his life reshaped by a painful loss. How these two men dealt with that grief marks their primary difference. Whereas Mulder drew his strength from that past—structuring his entire career in order to discover the truth about his sister—Doggett has worked hard to move on from his son’s murder.

[Putting it back on again, your one shoe.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Trustno1”

Season 9, Episode 6: “Trustno1”

Original Airdate: January 6, 2002

The X-Files primarily exists in a time and a space of its own creation. In fact, were it not for the ever-evolving cell phones and odd Monica Lewinsky joke, you might think that the show existed in a universe completely independent of our own, one unaffected by politics and world events. On rewatch, this gives the show a particular timelessness, an amplification to the paranoia. “Trustno1,” in contrast, is an episode solidly of its time.

[The forces against us are unrelenting.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Nothing Important Happened Today”

Season 9, Episodes 1 and 2: “Nothing Important Happened Today” Parts 1 and 2
Episode Airdates: November 11 and November 18, 2001

This is a pilot, sort of. A pilot for a new show called Season 9 Of The X-Files, which is a bit of a cheeky title but then again, so is “Nothing Important Happened Today.” Just like a pilot would, these two episodes seek to introduce the show’s themes, characters, and ambitions. And in that respect, it’s a good pilot. We get the new characters, and the new themes, and the new ambitions. Unfortunately, it appears to be a good pilot for a lousy show.

[Would you like to get some air?]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Essence”/”Existence”

Season 8, Episodes 20 and 21: “Essence”/“Existence”
Original Airdates: May 13 and May 20, 2001

If it seems like we keep ending eras, we do. We do keep ending eras. We’ve said goodbye to the Consortium, and we’ve said goodbye to regular appearances from Agent Mulder, and, well, you know. It’s been a lot of change, a lot of goodbyes, and honestly I think we’ve handled it pretty well! But you guys, I hate to break it to you, we’ve got to do it again. We’ve got to say goodbye to the show as we know it, to the show that’s about Mulder and Scully solving cases together. This is it. This is the end of that. Are you ready? Better yet: is the show ready?

[I just felt a contraction.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Vienen”

Season 8, Episode 18: “Vienen”
Original Airdate: April 29, 2001

This is an episode about Fox Mulder and John Doggett, and how the former decided to stop being a jerk to the latter. Was a time when Mulder would never ever stop being a jerk to a tough-jawed interloper like Doggett, but also was a time when the actor playing Mulder wasn’t working super-hard to get off the show. And so. It is not a surprise, to watch Mulder release the X-Files into the care of another. It is, however, a little bittersweet.

[How about a twenty count?]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Three Words”

Season 8, Episode 16: “Three Words”
Original Airdate: April 8, 2001

Before you make yourself crazy about it, the three words are “fight the future.” A few years ago, it was a terrifically nonspecific subtitle for a movie. The future could have been anything, then—the work of the Consortium, the work of the aliens, the work of the aliens and the Consortium together—but with the Consortium gone, and with much of the mutual work wiped out, the future is one thing: invasion.

[You’re being paranoid, Mulder. Even for you.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “This is Not Happening”/”Deadalive”

Season 8, Episodes 14 and 15: “This is Not Happening”/“Deadalive”
Original Airdates: February 25 and April 1, 2001

No, well, actually, it is happening. It’s happening, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Our show is getting older, and more frail. More forgetful, and more—somehow—nonsensical. These two episodes, the episodes in which Mulder returns! should be the boldest, and most wonderful. And somehow instead they are dull, and exhausting, and not half as mysterious as they would like to be.

[Hanging on to life by a thread.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

Reopening The X-Files: “Per Manum”

Season 8, Episode 13: “Per Manum”
Original Airdate: February 18, 2001

What if Scully had always been the believer? What if, and I mean, really what-if, and I mean, what I’m really talking about here is gender. Is about what it’s always meant to this show to have a female skeptic and a male believer, and how that’s changed now that Mulder is gone and Scully believes and Doggett is Doggett. “Per Manum” returns us to one of the show’s classic mytharcs—the eternal mystery of Scully’s womb—and as it does so, with these roles reversed, the division between the new show and the old show appears more startling than ever.

[Can’t keep it a secret forever.]

Series: Reopening The X-Files

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