This post is coming much later than I had wanted it to, but I guess it’s at least given me some time to digest the return of my all-time favorite television series and organize my thoughts a bit.
I remember being a 14-year-old who watched this with his mother on the Friday night it premiered. She had been more interested in watching it than I was, but by the end of that pilot episode, I was hooked. A few weeks later, I sat glued to the television as Eugene Victor Tooms made his first appearance in “Squeeze.” This series was unlike anything I had ever seen, and Tooms became a lasting figure in my imagination as an incredible new horror icon.
Following the finale of “The Erlenmeyer Flask,” I sat there stunned, reeling over the death of such an important character who had become a series staple by that point. This was a show where nobody was safe.
Over the summer, my parents bought a summer home roughly five hours north of our primary residence. We spent Friday, September 16, 1994 driving up there after school released for the weekend, moving in boxes and furniture and making the place habitable. I kept my eye on the dashboard clock as we drove, watching the digital display roll over to 8:00 p.m., feeling nervous and agitated, worried that I was going to miss it. Worried that I would miss, for the first time, an episode of The X-Files. And not just any episode either. This was the night of the second season premiere, and I’d been waiting for “Little Green Men” to air practically since the prior season’s finale ended.
I’d been bugging my parents, making sure we prioritized getting the TV hooked up and the VCR, so I could record it in case we were still too busy to watch it live at 9:00 p.m. There was little time to spare, but I recall sitting on the floor and unpacking some boxes of books and movies that I would be keeping at the house, listening to Mulder’s opening narration and then forgetting entirely about my tasks as a violent rainstorm lashed against the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico and a mysterious light filled the station. Oh my god, were the aliens there? Were they going to get Mulder? What was happening?!
I watched it again the next day just so I could soak it all in, and make sure I hadn’t missed anything.
As the season progressed, I found myself lurking a TV board on AOL dedicated to The X-Files, reading other viewers’ speculations, guesses, rumors, synopses copied from TV Guide for future episodes and downloading scanned advertisements and promo art for upcoming episodes.
This series consumed me whole for nine years. To put it simply, I was, obviously, a fan. A big fan. Enough of a fan that I don’t really understand all the hate that the second movie, I Want To Believe, gets burdened with. And although there may be a few redeeming episodes to season 9, I still think the show would have been better served by ending with the season 8 two-parter. I waited years for a third X-Files movie, getting antsy over the impending arrival of December 22, 2012, the date of alien colonization and the rumored storyline for the proposed film. 2012 came and went, but I was still hopeful that The X-Files would not be relegated to television and film history.
And then in 2013, a Season 10 comic book launched from IDW, with Joe Harris on writing duties and Chris Carter attached as ‘executive producer.’ Naturally, I had to follow Mulder and Scully into the funny pages and found myself mostly satisfied. But, damn it, I still needed and wanted to see these two intrepid FBI agents back in action and on-screen.
In March 2015, the six-episode relaunch was announced. I was so freaking overjoyed. I was tweeting about it, liking and sharing Facebook news announcements, and following along with every bit of developing information I could find. Season 9 was a bad memory, but not one so repugnant that it made me any less of a fan. I was exuberant to see how the show would return with both Mulder and Scully front and center.
Weeks before the premier, I bought the season pass on iTunes. Having a four-month old means my likelihood of watching the show as it airs, as I had been able to for the nine years of its initial run, is incredibly slim. And being able to watch it across the two-night premiere that kicked off this week would be damn near impossible. Unsurprisingly, I’ve so far only seen the premiere, “My Struggle,” and haven’t found the time to sit down and watch “Founder’s Mutation.”
But, The X-Files is back. And I am incredibly satisfied. I’m a fan, first and foremost. Maybe too much of a fan to be able to critically examine the series. I just love this world and its characters too much. Right now, I’m just riding high on the emotions of it all. I can’t even adequately express how good, how satisfying, it felt to get caught up again in a Mulder monologue, or his frantic, angry recitation of the latest conspiracy and Scully’s disbelief. I can’t help but feel a measure of excitement over the latest wrinkle Chris Carter and his team of writer’s have introduced to the series’ overarching mythology and the new shape of the alien conspiracy. It’s a switch-up that makes sense and feels timely in our post-9/11, post-Snowden, post-Patriot Act era of NSA surveillance and government overreach. In some ways, 2016 might be even more temporally relevant to the core mission statement of The X-Files – Trust No One.
The X-Files is back, and there’s a certain part of me that feels restored right alongside it. A certain faith that has been resurrected. We’ve been lucky to get another six episodes, but I’m already hoping to see another announcement for a future return. We may be asked to trust no one, but like Mulder, I Want to Believe.