Published on: March 23, 2018
As a longtime devotee of “The X-Files,” I’ve found the new season to be inconsistent, but with flashes of brilliance. I’ll take it.
As you may know, “The X-Files” ran for nine seasons from 1993 to 2002 and spawned a couple of feature films. Then, last year, it came back for a six-episode tenth season, and this year, for a 10-episode eleventh season. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are back as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who bring different - and sometimes varying - levels of belief and skepticism to their investigations of the paranormal.
It is sort of fun to see Mulder and Scully on the case again; in some ways, it is like watching a favorite band play old and familiar hits. While there have been episodes into the series extended mythology about alien invaders and their human co-conspirators, my favorite episodes have been of the stand-alone variety, which play like jazz riffs off a standard tune. There’s also an interesting subtext to the new set of episodes and the repartee between Mulder and Scully; it is almost as if things are so much darker and threatening than they could have anticipated 20 years ago that they have an almost rueful cynicism about it all.
One of the best of this season, or of any season, was “Rm9sbG93ZXJz,” which was a thriller about the impact of technology and A.I. on our lives. The premise was deliciously simple: Mulder and Scully go out for a sushi dinner at a completely automated restaurant, are dissatisfied with the experience and don’t leave a tip. One machine communicates with another machine, which communicates with drones and self-driving cars and robots and all sorts of other increasingly smart and adaptive technologies. Things spin further and further out of control as Mulder and Scully try to disconnect, with less and less luck and under more and more threat.
With everything that we know - and don’t know - about Facebook’s impact on our lives, culture and even politics, it all seems utterly current about where we are and may be going. Even if you are not a fan of the series, it is worth finding via on-demand, iTunes, Hulu or other means - it is terrific, inventive television, with a great “Black Mirror”: vibe.
In some ways, the episode is reminiscent of “Ghosts in the Machine,” a first-season segment of the series that now seems prescient about the role that technology would play in our 21st century lives. And, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” manages to be both sentimental and even revelatory about our two heroes, with whom many of us have grown older and more jaded about whether, even if “the truth is out there,” we’ll ever be able truly to know it.
I have no idea if this season is the end for Mulder and Scully, but I hope not. Duchovny and Anderson, along with creator Chris Carter and a group of talented writers and directors, seem to have plenty left to say. I’d miss them if they were gone.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.