Almost fifteen years after its television swan song, and a solid five since the last film, The X-Files is about to return. As a hardcore fan of the show back in the day, I’m pretty excited. Of course, as a fan who made it all the way to the end of the series, I know that my excitement should be tempered. But for now, I'm focusing on the positive: Despite the fact that it’s not back in quite the way I had hoped, The X-Files is back, and the Oriental will host a premiere party on Sunday, January 24. Here are a few things I’m hoping the show will deliver (and one I hope it does not).
1. An update on all those conspiracies
Early on, I was all about the so-called “mythology” episodes of the show, the ones that tied into the giant, shadowy conspiracy about the government, aliens and what was really going on. As the show progressed, that mythology became increasingly muddled, self-contradictory and nonsensical. Eventually it got so bad that I came to dread the conspiracy stuff, but it’s not too late to make it all better (I hope). With the benefit of almost fifteen years of hindsight (the last film had basically no conspiracy elements in it), I’m hoping Chris Carter has come up with a way to clarify his mythology and bring it all together in a way that makes at least partial sense. He’s going to have to do some, at least, since the colonization date — where the aliens reveal themselves and take over for real — was supposed to have been December 2012, and unless the show comes back as a full-blown alien invasion epic (which would be weird, but kind of sweet), that didn't happen. We deserve an explanation, and while they’re at it, they may as well clean up the giant mess they made up as they went along.
2. Some great new monster of the week episodes
I may be asking a little much here, considering there are only six episodes, but I really came to love the so-called “monster of the week” episodes, especially on my rewatch of the series a few years back. Free of all the baggage of the conspiracy episodes, the monster episodes deliver some real horror-style thrills, complete with an ever-so-tortured explanation from Scully as to why it’s all perfectly reasonable and rational. As much as I want that new and improved conspiracy clean up and clarification, I have my doubts they can pull it off. If they can’t, a couple of good monster episodes will go a long way toward justifying the existence of the new run.
3. Recognition of the new, post-9/11 world order
When The X-Files was still on the air, a lot of mundane realities of the post-9/11 world would likely have been deemed “too far-fetched” for the show, from massive, all-encompassing government surveillance and the all-but-open acknowledgement of CIA torture and “black sites” to the ubiquity of drone warfare and all the weirdo “patriot” groups running around. Well, that shit is all real life now, and it would be great if the show acknowledged this. Not only is there the opportunity for some great character moments/jokes — Mulder riffing on how everyone called him paranoid, but all this shit really happened — to tying it all into the conspiracy somehow. Done right, it could add a layer of creepy verisimilitude to the showt. The bottom line is the world we live in is a lot darker than it was when the show was on the air, and as dark as the show could be then, it needs to go even darker to acknowledge the new reality. The trailer suggests that’s the plan, so I’m hopeful here.
4. Some new characters
Mulder and Scully were, and still are, the stars of the show, and rightfully so. They’re great characters, depicted by actors who were all but made for the roles. Still, one of the great strengths of the show was all of the excellent secondary characters, both good and bad (and frequently both at the same time). From the Cigarette Smoking Man and Krycek to the Lone Gunmen and X, these characters added a huge amount of depth to the world of the show. As much as I want to see many of those favorites return, it would be really great if the show could add a few new ones to the mix, as well. Maybe Mulder has a young protege at the FBI who’s been digging through his old files and can’t wait to meet his would-be mentor. Or maybe some crusading up-and-comer who’s staked his reputation on repudiating the X-Files for once and for all is running around. New players in the conspiracy, new FBI agents, new aliens even — if the show doesn’t deliver at least one brand-new, memorable character in its six-episode run, I’ll consider it a disappointment.
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And finally, the one thing I don’t want to see…
5. Mulder and Scully getting together
I know I’m in a minority here, but I have less than zero interest in seeing Mulder and Scully as a couple. The sexual tension and obvious attraction between them gave the show a fair bit of its spark, but all too often, that sparks peters out once “will they or won’t they?” becomes “they did, and they still are!” Maybe the show can avoid it, but why take the chance? More to the point, why bother? Especially with just six episodes to enjoy, I don’t want the show dragged down by the domestic life of Mulder and Scully.