The truth was out there for nine years, and then it was gone—more or less—for 14. The X-Files fans, such as myself, were sad to see the show go but had to admit that its eerie magic from seasons one through six(ish) had all but fizzled out by time we said goodbye in 2002. When the second film in 2008 didn’t quite scratch the itch, we all just assumed Mulder and Scully were gone for good. That is, of course, until fan excitement (ahem, #XFiles2015) met the ears of the people involved and a six-episode event series was born.
Of the six episodes, creator Chris Carter wrote and directed three, while some of the series’ finest early writers—James Wong, Glen Morgan, and Darin Morgan—each wrote and directed one. There’s debate as to whether the six episodes were as successful as fans hoped, but with the series now on Blu-ray and DVD, there’s much more to discover (and rediscover) about season 10.
Upon a rewatch, I still think the episodes by the other three writers/directors work the best. James Wong’s “Founders Mutation” is a solid, classic-style X-Files episode with a cool premise about kids essentially being turned into mutants (like in X-Men), and a horrible high-pitched squeal that drives one doctor to jab a thing in his ear. It also has a nice allusion to Mulder and Scully’s son, William, whom Scully gave away during season nine for his protection. Both agents have fantasies/nightmares about what life might have been like if they’d raised him.
Glen Morgan’s “Home Again” is a pretty snazzy and creepy monster-of-the-week story about a giant called Trashman who manifests through street art and kills people who may or may not deserve it. It also has a lot for Scully to do with the B plot dealing with her mother dying and, again, she and Mulder dealing with their son being elsewhere. That’s a big theme for the season on the whole. Morgan and Wong in their episodes gave Scully some of her best material, and it’s no different here.
Glen’s brother Darin Morgan gets the standout best episode of the Event Series, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” a straight-up comedy with Morgan’s unique breed of existential ennui. Mulder, despondent that most monster reports end up being hoaxes these days, convinces Scully to come investigate the report of some kind of giant lizard man. They meet up with animal control (uber fan Kumail Nanjiani) and do indeed see a giant lizard man, one that “shoots blood from out his eyeball.” Turns out, of course, this isn’t the monstrous part about him; the lizard was bit by a human and was turned into a were-person named Guy Mann (Rhys Darby)… and he hates being a human. It’s a hysterically funny episode, and such a wonderful premise, featuring a monster who instinctively knows that he needs to get clothes and a job and can quote Moby Dick.
The Carter episodes are much more troubling. “My Struggle” which begins the season brings Mulder and Scully back together nicely, and even sets up a new alien-government conspiracy involving the Roswell crash, but the presence of a Glenn Beck-esque TV host (Joel McHale) who somehow knows about the actual black helicopters and stuff feels less prescient than some of the earlier seasons’ episodes and more reactionary.
But, “My Struggle,” for all its faults, at least had a consistent tone. Carter’s “Babylon” cannot boast that at all. As our Mikey Walsh said in his excellent review, it goes back and forth between the incredibly serious–suicide bombings–to the absurdly stupid–Mulder getting doped and having hallucinations while at a Texas dance bar. Not even the appearance of the long dead Lone Gunmen in his dream could make up for how badly judged the two halves of this story were, and how unnecessary the two pseudo-Mulder and Scully (Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose) actually were.
I will say, though, that Carter did interesting things with the final episode of the season, “My Struggle II,” which again focuses on Scully. It also has a huge global epidemic stemming from alien diseases, which Scully may be immune to because of her abduction/implant many years earlier. While people fall ill around her, Mulder risks infection himself to confront the somehow-not-dead Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis). The episode also sees the return of Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) who has been backed into a corner. I don’t even mind McHale’s character coming back in this one, nor the other agents’ being involved. And–audacity of audacities–Carter ends it on a cliffhanger. You brazen sod!
So, all in all, not as triumphant a return as it might have been, but still very enjoyable with one true classic and a couple solid entries.
The Blu-ray release, on the other hand, is a must-have for fans of the series. There are three commentary tracks full of information. James Wong and Chris Carter tag-team the “Founders Mutation” commentary, while Carter and writers assistant Gabe Rotter commentate on “My Struggle II.” The best one–of course–is the commentary for “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” which has commentary by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in one session and Darin Morgan and Kumail Nanjiani in another one. Like the episode itself, the commentary is a delight.
On top of that, we are also treated to a 45-minute making-of of the first episode, an hour-22 making-of of the rest of the season, Kumail Nanjiani hosting a look at the nine best monster-of-the-week stories prior to this year, a couple of largely superfluous deleted scenes, a delightful gag reel, and more. It’s a very packed set in terms of extras and it’s the kind of retrospective most studios don’t do anymore and yet it’s exactly why fans will want to buy the set.
The X-Files Event Series Blu-ray is available Tuesday, June 14. You can also get a box set of all ten season on Blu-ray the same day. It’s a good time to be an X-Files fan…again.