By now, we are reaching the point that, even when the series tries to reinvent itself, the season premieres of The X-Files are giving us the distinct sensation of deja vu. One would think that an episode titled The Beginning would be one that might actually have the promise of a fresh start. But there’s so much baggage attached to the series that one wonders why we’re even going through the motions.
And the problem is compounded by Chris Carter. No doubt he believed that the success of the movie would prove a boost to the series audience, when considering that this is the sixth season, one expected that there would be an inevitable drop off. Nevertheless, Carter tries to please the old fans from the last five years, and the new ones from the movies. And he pretty much creates a season premiere guaranteed to alienate – pardon the pun – all of them.
Considering that the last thing we saw in ‘Fight the Future’ was knowledge that the X-Files had been reinstated as a division, one wonders why we are going through the dreck of having another internal review meeting so that Mulder and Scully can be reassigned to it. One can understand Mulder’s frustration as he tries to present his argument, and maybe Carter was trying to channel the fans as well. But it takes a huge step backward when he calls on Scully to back his play – and Scully, who spent the better part of Season 5 gradually becoming a believer, seemingly goes all the way back to Season 2, at least. It’s insulting to the audience, its insulting to the character, and it really doesn’t seem like Carter is taking anybody seriously. When Mulder finally snaps at Scully for not believing in aliens after everything that she’s seen, it should come as a huge moment. Instead, it plays like Carter is just voicing the audience’s frustration.
But one can hardly say Mulder comes away much better from the experience. When the X-Files are reassigned to Agents Spender and Fowley (and we’ll get to that in a minute, believe me), he is understandably and deserved outraged. Mulder. He goes to Arizona to investigate an alien attack with Scully, and Diana seems to go to great lengths to block him. Then she seems to help him later, and spends about half of the episode trying to persuade Mulder that she’s on his side. But when they finally seems to encounter an alien and basically have it cornered, she turns on him so quickly, that we’re not sure what happened. Then we learned that when Fowley reports to OPR, she does everything in her power to bury him and Scully with the FBI. And yet when the whole thing is finished, he still somehow seems to be on his side. Mulder may be able to justify it at first as frustration with Scully, but it will turn into one of the bigger plot holes for Season 6. And frankly, it’s nearly as aggravating as Scully’s return to skepticism.
All of this in itself is bad enough, but what makes it even more degrading is the so called X-File. There is nothing in the alien threat that bears any connection to anything we’ve seen on the series so far. There’s even less linking it to what we see in the movie. So what basically we get is a new twist on the alien, except there’s nothing new about. It bursts out of people’s chest, it has giant claws, its figure makes it look like something out of a James Cameron movie. And there’s nothing remotely resembling a link to anything that we will see again for the remainder of the series.
Right now, the only thing about the whole mess that seems remotely engaging is the return of Gibson Praise. Horribly butchered from brain surgery, we now see that the Conspiracy’s grand plan for him is to… have him try and read the alien’s mind. When he finally manages to sneak into Mulder and Scully’s car, it actually seems like we’re getting somewhere at last, and its particularly interesting that Gibson points out how similar Scully and the Consortium’s concern for his well-being seem to be – they want to use him just for different reasons. There are even more intriguing elements when it’s revealed that Gibson may have DNA similar to that of an alien, and that by extension, every one else’s. But once again, the show drops the ball. We don’t see Gibson for another two years, which is hardly unusual, except that for some reason the Consortium doesn’t ever get around to picking him off, even though he doesn’t do a decent job of hiding.
In the end, the X-Files get reassigned to Spender & Fowley, which would be fine, except we’ve seen something like this happen before back in Season 2. Even then this might be interesting, if we ever saw them in connection with the department, but the entire first half of the season will be spent with Mulder and Scully getting involved in an X-File every week. In which case, why bother separating them from the department at all? Both Chris Owens and Mimi Rogers do their level best with what they’ve been given, but the fact is by this point, we’re going to hate their characters no matter how noble their pursuits, and we’ve got not reason to trust them. Even the scenes of Jeffrey Spender with his father don’t add a great deal to the show, as CSM seems determined to make his son just another pawn on his chessboard.
About the only positive thing you can say about The Beginning is that it’s a better start to the season than Redux was last year. God knows there’s none of that pretentious voice over But frankly, the improvement is so marginal, and so overwhelmingly confusing that one wonders if the whole move has just lead to stagnation. Fortunately, unlike Season 5, things will get much better really quickly.
My Score: 1.75 stars.