"In 2002, in a change of direction and policy, the FBI closed the X-Files, and our investigation ceased. But my personal obsession did not."
REVIEW: And it's back. Mostly respecting what has gone before, even if it feels the need to undo a lot of it (the live-in relationship from the second film, the Colonization conspiracy, Cancerman's death). Hey, the pieces need to be reset on the table somewhat, and we need to tell viewers who might have never seen, or forgotten, the original series that it was all moot anyway, and bam, they're caught up as quickly as possible. References are made to the past, but it's clear people should be able to follow what arc there is from the simple recaps. But then, I've just watched the entire canon of X-Files; how did it play for viewers who didn't have it all fresh in their heads?
***INTERLUDE TO TALK ABOUT THE OPENING CREDITS*** OH GOD NO THEY DIDN'T CHANGE IT!!!!! WHY!!!????? WHY?????!!!! I've hated that bad video TLC-content opener since I first saw it, and it looks even cheaper coming out of and flowing into the crisp HD look of Season 10! Dare I hope they change it from episode 2? I mean, really, the actors should be age-appropriate in their own credit sequence. ***END TRANSMISSION***
Otherwise, the show looks beautiful. The Roswell crash was an eye-popping surprise. The atmosphere is quite filmic. The colors vibrant (here's hoping some of the episodes are more noir), the camera work modern. The HDness of it all makes some of the make-up a little thick, particularly on Scully and Joel McHale's Fox News-type "hard" news host, Tad O'Malley, and especially sitting next to Mulder who seems to have just rolled out of bed and not made a pit stop at the make-up trailer. A small complaint. And yes, I did say Joel McHale. Last guest star I expected to see. His character wants to blow the whistle on the whole conspiracy - as HE sees it - and by the end, has been put out of commission by government forces. The extreme clean-up shown at the end, more than any argument we hear from him or from Fox "knee-jerk" Mulder, tells me there's some truth to it. But while I like how the fear-mongering in America since 9/11 is wrapped into the story - and how O'Malley is used to mock Fox's own "news" division - the only real, proven truth we get out of this episode is that abductees have been given alien DNA, which includes Scully. But this may mean nothing concrete at this late stage; she's been living with that for decades now and we already knew her baby was part-alien. So we're probably just re-stating the stakes and so forth. Needs to be done after all this time. Shame we're kind of wasting one of only six episodes on it, but there you go. Needs must.
The best bit for me was Mulder's connection to the episode's title. If this is HIS struggle, and I believe it is, it's akin to addiction. Mulder simply can't resist the call of the conspiracy, and certainly not from someone who evidently out-paranois him like O'Malley. Once he's shown proof, and is pushed to making conclusions, he falls off the wagon. And Scully plays the long-suffering friend (we'll call them friends at this point) who wants to be there for him, but can't bear to see him do so. That's HER burden. And by the end, the two of them have indeed come back together to be Skinner's burden; the X-Files are back. Not a task force to investigate this conspiracy mind you, the X-Files. We just have to accept the conceit that after all this, they're still going to waste their time chasing ghosts and monsters and whatnot. Hey, that's the show, and it's back for a limited time, and ultimately, it's just fun to meet up with old friends exchanging cracking dialog and meaningful looks.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Is the simple explanation to the fact the alien conspiracy never made sense that it was ALL a hoax? I don't believe it. Mulder's being misled again, as we've seen too much, and he hasn't seen as much as we have. But if the Bounty Hunter, the killer alien from the movie, the faceless rebels, the black oil, etc. etc. have all been bio-engineered creatures only making LIKE they're extra-terrestrial... No, I still don't buy it. Is there a part of the conspiracy whose only function is to troll FBI agents and make them think the aliens are coming? Because it's hard to see what other motivation there could be. While we're used to the Truth shifting, the return of the Cigarette-Smoking Man is a bit harder to explain. The last time we saw him, he was pulverized before our very eyes by a fireball. Are those burns on his skin enough to justify his survival? Or was he resurrected by some unknown means?
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Or almost. Suffers from being a mytharc recap/repudiation/restatement, but the strength of the first episode is in rediscovering these characters at this later stage in their lives and putting them back on track in a quality production.