Oh, what to say? What to say?
Spoilers beneath the cut.
It would be dishonest to say I went into the last episode of season 10 with high hopes, and I’m glad for that, because I would have been severely disappointed after last night’s finale.
First, I’m cool with the global-pandemic-as-pre-apocalypse trope. I’ve written it. I’m pretty sure any fanfic author has written some variation on it. It’s not new, but it can be done well.
…this was not done well.
The pacing was rushed. This could have been two episodes, or a whole arc, taking time to build up to the infection, investigating the whys and hows over the course of the limited series. Scully seems to know exactly what is going on from the start (how???), and can apparently run two PCRs and manufacture enough vaccine to save the world in a matter of hours. Crisis averted!
Alien DNA. Alien DNA. Alien DNA. Say it one more time for the people in the back!
What Scully means when she says “Alien DNA” for the 50th time: “We think you, the viewer, are too stupid to understand anything too complex, so we’ll just keep saying the same thing over and over and over in hopes you don’t realize how terrible this dialog is.”
Or in Reyes’ words: “…the science is complicated!”
Also: This episode is an anti-vaxxer’s wet dream. “Let’s pretend all the vaccines magically come back to life and kill everyone!” Excellent. Fan those paranoid flames.
Agent Reyes as the CSM’s right-hand woman is possibly the least believable part. This is the woman who suggested delivering Scully’s baby to whale song. The woman who stood up for Mulder and his quest in front of a secret military court. There is absolutely no part of her personality that speaks to this level of cowardice, and yet…here we are. Shoehorned into the role of traitor for the purpose of filling a plot hole, I guess.
“You’re one of the chosen elite!”
Speaking of Cancer Man…he needs to die. He was obliterated at the end of season 9, and yet somehow, he survives with third-degree burns and a few missing pieces. Mulder should have shot him. Miller should have shot him. Please, someone shoot him, I am begging you. The dude is a zombie, but if The Walking Dead has taught me anything, it’s that even zombies can’t survive a clean shot to the head.
Why can’t we have a new villain? Surely there are corporations and people out there whose evil deeds warrant having a light shone on them? Hell, one of them is trying to run for president right now! There’s a world of material in the news, but we’re stuck with the guy who can’t seem to kick the habit and his plastic face.
The only part of this episode worth watching was the part where Mulder kicked that mystery guy’s ass. I need more of that in my life. More ass-kicking in season 11, please.
On a selfish note, having your two main characters split up for the entire episode is a big fat bummer. Half the fun is watching Mulder and Scully play off each other, using their strengths as a team, and splitting them up doesn’t give that infamous chemistry a chance to save your shitty plot.
Instead, we get Miller and Einstein again. At least Einstein wasn’t as shrewish, and Miller’s acting was slightly less wooden, but again, I don’t care about these characters yet. They haven’t been given a chance, because you introduced them one episode ago, and at the time they were presented as caricatures. I wasn’t aware I was supposed to take them seriously.
I loved how, at the end, Scully is standing on the bridge with Miller and Mulder’s in the car dying, and Scully’s first response is not to give him the vaccine, but to tell him “I’m going to save your life,” and then stand there and ponder how terrible he looks — I mean he looks really bad, and Dana Scully Medical Doctor MD can tell just how bad by looking at him, that’s how bad he is and how good she is at Medical Doctoring, maybe it’s all that Alien DNA that makes her so good at diagnosing death on sight — and how he needs stem cells from their son (now you realize this, Scully?), and Miller is all, “Uh, TMI,” meanwhile she’s holding the bag of LOL Alien DNA Juice LOL that’s supposed to save Mulder’s life and doing absolutely nothing with it. Inches away from hope, and the poor guy is going to croak because his “estranged” (haha yeah right) partner won’t shut the hell up and give him the IV.
And then, the cliffhanger. As a seasoned X-Files fan, I’m used to being left hanging — I survived the summer of Requiem as a weepy teen mess, after all — but not without knowing there’s something to look forward to. We don’t have that kind of certainty yet. Instead of being excited about what happens next, I’m just…furious. Ragey.
Actually my feelings can probably be best summed up in one tweet:
WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK
— Caroline Moore (@sixhours) February 23, 2016
Has Scully not been through enough? Can we not abduct her again? Can we just…not? With the same tropes, the same tired stories, the mythology that’s become so tangled in itself that it feels like you threw some darts and shuffled the same boring storylines into 45 minutes of barely palatable television?
I hope they bring it back for season 11, but with one massive caveat:
Someone please take this show away from Chris Carter. Please. He gets all the props in the world for creating it, but out of 6 episodes, 3 of them stunk, and all were written by CC. With 20+ episodes per season, it’s expected there will be some stinkers, but with only 6 episodes, you don’t have that kind of leeway.
Am I grateful this revival happened? Absolutely.
Do I want more? Hell yes.
Can they do better? Of course they can.
If Founder’s Mutation, Were-Monster, and Home Again proved anything, it’s that the original actors still got it and the X-Files are more relevant than ever…in the right hands.
They have a world of material to work with here; an epic backstory, the freedom to do almost anything in the supernatural/paranormal realm, in a political climate that’s rife with potential. I can think of dozens of authors who’ve done these characters and their stories justice time and time again. I know it’s possible.
But at this rate, Chris Carter will drive this show into the ground unless someone intervenes. Turn it around, 1013. Hire your best writers and let them have at it.
Thank you for season 10. Now please, if you come back for another season, do it right. Give us a show we can be proud of.