Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The X-Files Reopened - My Struggle II - This is the End




Is it?

It seems not.  I'm not calling Chris Carter and the rest of the X-Files team  disingenuous but you don't end a miniseries with a cliffhanger like that unless you have future plans. 

Recently, we've heard from Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and even the president of Fox TV, all saying they'd be amiable to another season of The X-Files.  

I think they know something we don't.  

Of course, the main impediment to renewing the series for next year is getting everyone together.  Apparently scheduling is a big problem.  I don't think we have anything to worry about.  There is no way Fox TV is going to walk away from ratings like the ones they just compiled for the X-Files.  I'm sure they'll bend over backwards to accommodate everyone.  Maybe they'll even offer Anderson an equitable wage.  (They tried to low ball her for this effort.)

So, back to that opening title card, "This is the End."

I'm sure Carter was referring to the apocalyptic turn the series closed out on, not the question whether the series would be back or not.  We usually get, "The truth is out there" to close the opening credits.  It seems Carter wanted to convey how dire things are.



 
Judging by the look on Mulder's face things are pretty dire indeed!

"Ol' Smokey" has unleashed an epidemic upon the world and it looks to be a cleansing of sorts.  Not that the Cigarette Smoking Man is being unkind.  We did bring it upon ourselves.  What with war, melting ice caps, bird die offs etc.  He just hastening the process!

Through Small Pox vaccines, Anthrax inhibitors and other of childhood or adult medicines we've received, we've all been "infected".  

The herd is about to be culled.

Well, almost all of us.




Dana Scully you are a lucky lady.

She is one of the chosen few to survive Smokey's final solution.  I can see his point.  An ardent scientist, a faithful Christian and a dogged investigator.  All invaluable traits for the new world order.  Then again, this new order is pretty cynical.  Ol' Smokey and his cabal don't have much faith in humanity in righting it's own wrongs.

He also must have underestimated that doggedness because it wasn't long before Scully  managed to divine a cure (with a little help from Einstein) and set the anti-apocalypse in motion.

So what of that "anti-apocalypse?"  Let's get to that final scene, the big cliffhanger.


The 14th Street Bridge



This is actually where I wanted to start this blog off with.

The thrilling climax pitting man versus machine.  Hero versus Cabal.  Scully versus traffic.  Oh and by the way, was Agent Miller driving the wrong way if Scully had to catch up with him from behind?  He must have been really sick.  ;)

This was one of the most mythologically laden parts of the episode.  A desperate Scully races against time to save her lover/partner.  Mulder is close to death and it doesn't seem even the IV drip will save him.  Only an infusion of stem cells will rescue our hero and they can only come from his son William!



William better be piloting that mysterious craft above Scully or I would say Mulder would have no chance of surviving that traffic snarl in his condition.

I'm kidding.  Still, how is William going to save Mulder if even Scully doesn't know where he is?

In earlier posts I had invoked the "Chekov's Gun" rule wherein if a gun is introduced early in the story it better go off by the end. 

The William gun did not go off.

Ol' Smokey doesn't have him.  Agent Reyes didn't provide any insight.  Scully doesn't have a clue.  WTF???

He better be aboard that space craft.  (Please don't tell me he is also stuck in the 14th street traffic jam too.)

God, I bet you a quarter no one saw this ending coming.





And what of Scully?





The craft seems to have her directly in it's sites.  Why her?

She does have the cure and if the craft is at the beck and call of the Cabal then she's 2 seconds away from being vaporized.

But where is the green laser that appeared just before Sveta was vaporized? (Episode one.)  They showed us that scene again in the "previously on" segment, deliberately so I'm saying, but no green laser here.

Could it be the real Aliens this time?  God I hope so.  Wouldn't that be a delightful twist.  Especially since their presence seems to have been rewritten in episode one of this season.  Maybe they really are trying to save us from our selves.

What of the intense close up of Scully's eye?




It's oddly reminiscent of the eye we see at the end of every title sequence to open an episode.






See?

I wonder if this was always Scully's eye or did Carter just find a clever way to tie it all in?


Odds and ends

Didn't you love the way the episode opened?



 
A voice over provided by Scully.  We get to see their old I.D.'s.



The Well Manicured Man



A young CSM!




Krycek!  (Remember when his arm got cut off?  Ah, the good ol' days.)

Then there was this.




Yikes!  Scully looked like a cross between ET and Norman Bates' mother at the end.

Okay, here is something I didn't like. 



They separated Mulder from Scully again!

Come on, they are the whole show!  Why keep separating them?





Yes, it gave Scully and Einstein some quality time together.  Without Einstein's insight, Scully never would have found the cure.


Miller got an awesome hero moment too.  Some nice detective work figuring out where Mulder was via the desktop app.  (You'd think someone as paranoid as Mulder would lock down their computer before they left it.  Everyone does in this day and age.)

I've actually warmed up to these two.  They're not so bad.  Ambrose's Einstein can be a little breathless and churlish to boot.  But, she proved to be quick on her feet and good under pressure.  Without her help, one word, apocalypse.

Miller proved he had a spine.  The Smoking Man had a gun on him and he didn't even flinch.  "We're leaving" and they did!

BTW, didn't you think the Smoking Man was going to kill himself once he got back into the cabin?  He sounded pretty morose as Mulder and Miller departed.  "Say goodbye to Scully for me" or something like that.  Goodbye?  I was willing to bet another quarter there was going to be a bang and a flash in the window.  

There's not much left of him anyway.

Exhibit A   

 

Yuck.  How was that for a moment?

On top of Ol' Smokey, all covered with cheese, they blew his whole face off, now he can't even sneeze.

But he can smoke!

  



Thanks for the death stick Agent Reyes.  I have to admit her whole involvement in the conspiracy was a little dense to me.  She had to become the house girl to Smokey so she could learn all the secrets and then pass them along.  What?


And then there was all the exposition between her and Scully.





My God woman, get to the point!  Can you be any more circuitous?  She even teased Scully over the phone.  Tell her what's going on already!  The whole fate of the world thing.  Right?

Therein lies another problem with this episode.  The dialog and exposition.

Too much and a little too wooden.  One could say stilted.  I wanted to hold a gun to somebody just to move things along.

 

Carter wrote and directed this episode as he did the critically maligned first episode.  Draw your own conclusions.  (Still no X-Files without him though!)


So how does the final scene get resolved?


 

Here's my guess.

Days later Mulder wakes up in a hospital bed with Scully by his side.

"Mulder, you're awake!"  "How do you feel?"

"Scully, how did I get here, what happened?" 

"We found that stem cell sample in your pocket and it worked!"

Then of course, cue the opening credits, go to commercial.

Not, "How did you get that sample, where's William???" 

We wouldn't get those answers until 5 minutes to go in the episode.

Next year.  

(I bet you a quarter.)
 



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The X-Files Reopened! - Babylon



Was that a parable?

I get it.  We are the world.  Not only should we speak as one but listen as one too.

The reconciliation of science with faith.  

Love.

Been there done that!



Not that I don't agree with the message.  I certainly do.  It's that we been down this road before.  

So now I guess it is the X-Files turn to preach to the faithful.  (Or heretical as it may be.)

"Babylon" held up the mirror and showed us at our intolerant worst.  It exposed our bigotry, zealotry and bald faced hatred.  It also taught us to be patient, kind and open to suggestion.  

All subjects worthy of exploration.  So why did it seem a little tired or recycled by the X-Files?

Perhaps it is the high expectations we hold the series to.   This is the first time I've felt the impatience others have complained about for this shortened season.  Six episodes and this is what we get? 

No, I'm not down on the X-Files.  Just a little worried.  I would have liked to have been thrown a bone at least on the William front.  When Mulder and Scully got together at the end of the episode I thought for sure their missing son would get a mention.  Especially after Mulder referred to, "Mother love" and the earlier "Pieta" like embrace the mother of would be terrorist, Shiraz, had with her comatose son.   Her faith in him remained unshaken.

Nope.  Now I'm afraid the subplot of William will be forgotten in the last episode.  They wouldn't do that to us would they?  (I have a theory the Smoking Man will get to William in order to blackmail Mulder and Scully into stopping their investigations.) 

So The X-Files wagged its finger at us and hopefully we listened.  I can't blame this series at having a little fun at our expense and at its own expense too.  It just didn't seem like fertile ground to me.


So, anything else new?



New as in a new generation of the X-Files?

As always, The X-Files gives us a new perspective.  Aside from the mirror The X-Files held up to our society in general we also got a reflection into what a new generation of investigators would be like.

Is this a back door pilot?

Rumors are running rampant (that's what the internet does) that a new generation of the X-Files is being tested out on us.  (What, no abduction and probing?) But if this is true, isn't it a little too on the nose?

I mean, one being the skeptical scientist and the other a free thinking contrarian?

It was funny, yes, for a short while.  But did Agent Einstein have to have the red hair too? 




I like Lauren Ambrose but her character was bit of an ass.  Perhaps she is meant to be callow.  I don't recall Scully being that hurtful towards Mulder.  There is self righteous then there is, well, being an ass.

Not that she didn't get the job done.  She did expose Mulder as being self indulgent.  That whole shroom thing was a figment of his overwrought imagination.  (Wasn't it?)  But even when Fox was at his self-indulgent worst he always retained that puppy dog hurt when proven wrong.

(Quick aside, didn't the whole shroom thing undercut Mulder's "out there" mind set.  If he was able to imagine that whole scenario what else was made up in his head?  His sister?  Please don't mess with the Mulder mythology anymore X-Files.)




And that's what I liked about Robbie Amell's performance as Agent Miller.  He too expressed that little boy hurt when his out of left field belief system was challenged.  Both he and Mulder wear their hearts on their sleeves and no matter how far flung their theories are they sincerely can't understand why no one else buys into them.

Amell and Ambrose will be back as Agents Miller and Einstein in the season finale.  I can only imagine the firestorm of resistance if they are named the new generation of the X-Filers.  (Phew, finally got that pun out of the way!)


Odds and Ends


 

Yes, Agent Mulder was exposed at his self-indulgent worst.  He even deserved it for the way he treated Einstein when he basically told her to sit down and shut up.  (Did he ever treat Scully that way?)

But there was a good reason for Mulder's trip into the fantastic.




In the end, Mulder made several concessions to Scully that he normally wouldn't do.   Call it old age, call it reason, call it love.  Imagine Mulder telling Scully God may have a voice after all and Scully telling Mulder he's been speaking to him all along.

Heady stuff.


 


What?  That's it for The Lone Gunmen?




Darn, I was hoping some sage wisdom from the boys beyond the grave.  At least they seem to be having a good time.





There has been some flak on the interweb about the depiction of Shiraz's grievous head wound.  Sorry my friends that is a pretty accurate depiction of the wounds you suffer when an explosive device goes off that near you.  Anyone that has seen the pictures of ABC's Bob Woodruff knows this to be true.  Thankfully Woodruff has returned to his work but sadly could not assume the mantle of evening anchor that eventually went to David Muir. 




Back to the "On the nose" department.  Einstein lets her hair down just like Scully's near the end.  Sheesh!




Did I say there wasn't a William reference in this episode?

We did get a quarter sighting so that is close.  At least they didn't completely drop the ball.

Hmm, do you suppose that's why Annabeth Gish's Agent Reyes is making a return next week?  Because she has information on the whereabouts of William?

Now that would be cool.





Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The X-Files Reopened! - Home Again



We are now two thirds through this X-Files revival and it is plainly evident this is not a collective tale of government conspiracies, alien abductions or monsters run amok.   It is the tale of a broken family.




The "ghost" of young William, the progeny of both Mulder and Scully, continues to haunt our protagonists.  The depth of which we've only begun to scratch the surface of, but of which becomes more heart rendering with each passing episode.

What a fascinating tact by the X-Files creative team.

While many truly love what The X-Files has brought to the table in it's revival, many other have been apoplectic in it's direction.

I hope the finally get what is going on and don't fill themselves with so much bile that they miss this rare and  precious, I don't know, "gift" and fume off into the darkness like some garbage monster.




Times change, people change.  We should rejoice in the decision to pick up where Mulder and Scully are in their lives.  If we were dropped into a wild melee where aliens are abducting people, cars are crashing, shots are being fired and the government is stonewalling the truth it would have been exciting but eminently forgettable.  (Turn on the evening news if you want that.)

Mulder and Scully have always been the heart and soul of this series.  Sure the paranoia and the paranormal have been fun.  But it has been through these two stalwarts that we have been able to pursue the fanciful,  fact check the ridiculous and embrace the sublime.

They are us and we are them.

The greatest mystery in life is life itself.  The eternal question of "why" will always face us. What better way to spend a Monday night than with two people who seek the same truths as us.

On to the episode.

Of Frankenstein, the Monster and William



As this episode progressed I got the distinct feeling we were watching a tale of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.  When Scully chastised the Trashman for not being responsible for his creation I knew we were "Home Again."

I took a class in college called "Horror story" and one of the books we had to read was "Frankenstein."  I loved it and the collective lesson we learned was to be responsible for our creations.  Be it, cars, guns, monsters or children.

That's the point Scully was trying to drive home.  You just can't create something and say, "Well, it's out there now, I can't help what it does."  You have to take ownership of it.  To make it your responsibility.  

To see it through to the end like you would a child.



 
As discussed in many quarters and including this blog, Scully is wracked with guilt over having to send William away.  After being traumatized over losing her own mother and having Margaret call out to her lost son Charlie, it seems Scully is being pushed to the brink.

Quick hypothetical scenario!  Mulder and Scully's work will threaten to expose the Cabal and the Cigarette Smoking Man and his minions will capture young William and force Mulder and Scully to stop their work.

Or else.




Another interesting tie in to the tale of Frankenstein and this episode is the feminist interpretation of Shelly's monster tale.

There are those who think Shelly's own real life tragedy help shape her classic novel.  Shelly's mother died giving birth to Shelly and sadly she also lost her own child when it was born prematurely.  

The issues of guilt are nearly the same explored in "Home Again." 

Post-natal depression has been factored in Shelly's work also.  Some think Shelly created the monster as a way of dispelling her guilt of losing her mother and her own child.  The monster is seen as some sort of "rejected child" in search of a family and only acts out because his need is so great.

Again, very similar to Scully's feeling about William.  One could say Scully is afraid her son will turn into a monster much like the Trashman's did because of his supposed abandonment or rejection.  (Plus there is the terror of him being an alien hybrid.)





Whatever the outcome, I'm betting the story of William will prove to be the climatic end to this abridged season and leave the fandom begging for more.


Odds and Ends



I have a theory about the Quarter and I have to admit it is pretty pedestrian.

If William is half of Mulder and Scully then wouldn't he be a quarter of his grandmother?  That's why she wore the quarter to remind her of him.

I know, it's lame.  I'm working on it.


 

Loved director Glen Morgan's touch in the crossed flashlight beams forming the X as in X-Files.





 Anyone think putting a smiley face on the Tulku will change his murderous disposition?




Especially after seeing the Tulku image mysteriously appear on the wall as the Trashman leaves his "studio" for good.


Oh, and there is this...




Woof.  

With cool efficiency Dana Scully takes down the hapless perp.  Hey, she said she needed to work.  I love way she hands the gun over to Mulder.  It's something they've done a hundred times and Mulder is so non-chalant when he intones, "We're here to see the Trashman."  Whatever you want FBI!

There was some light comedy too.

First we had Mulder telling the Philly cop the suspect couldn't have been a 76er because, "They can't even find the rim."

And there was the way Mulder and Scully walked into the crime scene.




They reveal themselves to the befuddled forensic specialist in classic fashion.




And then share a look when the detective asks them about their experience with all things, "Spooky."




I can't believe people are down on this show.




Finally, I got a real "Beyond the Sea" vibe from this episode especially as Mulder and Scully prepare to disperse her mother's ashes.  Beyond the Sea is when Scully finds out her father has died of a heart attack.  News received from her mother via a phone no less.





The ship making it's way to the sea added to the effect.





Mulder and Scully are left alone to ponder their plight.  Generations of their family disappear before them until the realize they are the family now.  What of their legacy?  What will they leave behind?


Where is William?