TV REVIEW: ‘The X-Files’ – ‘My Struggle: Part 1’/’Founder’s Mutation’

The iconic supernatural procedural returns in nearly full form with two solid first episodes to a promising miniseries.

| January 28, 2016
Photo courtesy of FOX Television

Photo courtesy of FOX Television

In what world would I miss the revival of “The X-Files?”

This one, apparently, as not only did I miss the premiere on Sunday night, flying back from a weekend trip, but I also missed it up until tonight, due to being bogged down by more pressing work in my life, but the time has come to reopen “The X-Files.” I’m a very large fan of the original series that ran from 1993-2002, currently pooling my money together to see if I can afford purchasing the Blu-ray set of the series. When I heard about a reboot of the series, I was flooded with many different feelings and while most of it was excitement, there was an air of trepidation about the revival, if not simply for the disappointment that came with the 2008 film revival “The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” a film that I actually liked, but disappointed loads of fans with its different approach to the material. Going back to the source, “The X-Files” has returned for old and new generations alike to bask in the otherworldly glory that radiates from itself.

But the question remains…how is it?

“My Struggle: Part 1”

Starting the series off, former FBI Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) leads an extended monologue regarding the previous events of the original series and his current stance on whether alien life still exists in his mind. It’s a nice catch up for those out of the loop, but I wanted the meat and fast. Getting through the glorious (unchanged) opening credits sequence, which hit me with a wave of nostalgia, “The X-Files” put us right into the center of the action. Picking up on former FBI Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), arguably one of the most badass television characters ever written, preparing to go into surgery when she is contacted by Mulder, asking her to help take a look at a case that could completely unravel all the work they did in the X-files for all those years.

Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) meet eccentric web-series host Ted O'Malley (Joel McHale) for the first time.

Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) meet eccentric web-series host Ted O’Malley (Joel McHale) for the first time. Photo courtesy of FOX Television.

Back together again, the duo meet Ted O’Malley (Joel McHale), a über right-wing conspiracy theorist made popular by a web show he hosts (seemingly based off YouTuber Alex Jones). O’Malley brings the duo to a house in the country, to meet a woman named Sveta, a young woman claiming she had been abducted by aliens multiple times since childhood, impregnated multiple times and has alien DNA. Mulder questions Sveta about her experiences, but there seems to be a slight hesitance in her story. From there, Scully performs a blood test on her, while O’Malley shows Mulder a piece of information that will change the state of the X-files forever.

I don’t want to give any further away than that, as not to spoil any viewing experiences. I can’t say that “The X-Files” is in full form as it once was, but I can say that “My Struggle: Part 1” is a solid debut for the new miniseries, despite a sometimes gruelingly slow pace. For a six episode miniseries, I had hoped that this pilot would have covered more ground than it did, especially given that the series will also have the typical “monster-of-the-week” episodes as well, I feel as if what was set up here was far too ambitious to fit in six episodes alone, let alone six episodes with differing plot points.

Duchovny and Anderson are as brilliant as ever in the classic roles they’ve made for themselves, eight years have passed since their last reunion and the chemistry is as strong as ever between the two, as if no time has passed at all. McHale makes for a surprisingly good anti-hero as well, proving some more black comedy chops in his work, rather than straight up slapstick humor. With the main focus being on these three, I couldn’t be happier with the performances.

Fix the pacing and we have the makings of a great revival of one of the most iconic series’ of all time. Duchovny and Anderson kill it once again and it’s great to see them back together again. But the wave of nostalgia can only go on for so long before the truth comes out and with only five episodes to go, “The X-Files” better get to stepping. For now, on its own, “My Struggle: Part 1” holds its own very well.

“My Struggle: Part 1″: 3.5/5

“Founder’s Mutation”

Now, things begin to get more interesting, with the second episode “Founder’s Mutation” (which was supposed to air as the fifth episode, but was transferred to second in line), we return to the classic “monster-of-the-week” storylines that have individual storylines apart from the storyline detailed in “My Struggle: Part 1.” Beginning with the haunting suicide of a Department of Defense doctor, Agents Mulder and Scully are called to investigate the situation after the doctor reported hearing noises before committing suicide.

Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) interview a frantic woman, Agnes (Kacey Rohl), at a hospital seeking their help.

Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) interview a frantic woman, Agnes (Kacey Rohl), at a hospital seeking their help. Photo courtesy of FOX Television.

Getting into the storyline, we get back into what made the original series of “The X-Files” wonderful, with compelling supernatural storylines that really do shake you to your core. There were times in “Founder’s Mutation” where I was shocked that they were able to get away with a TV-14 rating, given the incredibly disturbing material present in the episode. But besides scaring us, this episode spoke a wonderful social message about homosexuality, government bureaucracy, childhood disabilities and adoption all packed into a single “monster-of-the-week” episode.

Besides this, this is a pretty standard episode of “The X-Files,” which is much more of a compliment than it sounds. With the diversion from type that we got with both “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” and even with the previous “My Struggle: Part 1,” it was wonderful to return to the formula that made “The X-Files” one of the best procedural dramas ever made in the first place. “Founder’s Mutation” is a hauntingly poetic episode with a wonderful supernatural storyline and great social metaphors throughout about a variety of different topics. Both Mulder and Scully had wonderful opportunities to shine this episode, with a sub-plot surrounding their son given up for adoption. Typically, such a massive deviation from the storyline would bother me, but the small sub-plot here opened up a lot of touching emotion between Mulder and Scully (in separate scenes) and really brought them back as close to each other as they were in the ’90s.

“Founder’s Mutation”: 4/5

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Television

Hunter Heilman Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a senior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Hunter has been the editor-in-chief since May 2016. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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Hunter Heilman Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a senior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Hunter has been the editor-in-chief since May 2016. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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