cancer man

The X-Files: My Struggle Recap

It wouldn’t be an episode of The X-Files without mythology, and this first episode is no different.  Well, perhaps it’s slightly different, given that almost two decades have passed since Agents Mulder and Scully have graced our television screens.  Tonight’s episode begins with a history lesson, one that details Fox Mulder’s quest for the truth.

Mulder talks about his childhood obsession with alien abductions following the disappearance of his sister, Samantha.  In 1993, he says, the FBI brought in a medical doctor, Dana Scully, to debunk his quest for the truth.  While the FBI shut down the X-Files, Mulder’s personal quest for the truth has never ceased.

The quest for information about aliens and alien abductions has taken place since the dawn of time.  UFO sightings have been prevalent since before Roswell, but that cover up has remained as the most famous of the conspiracy theories.  Even as President Gerald Ford released official documents about aliens, nothing has come from any of it.  The quest to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life has been fruitless.

Cue the opening credits.  They’re the same credits from the original series…and they’re awesome.  Tonight’s message: “The truth is out there.”

In the High Desert of Northwestern New Mexico, 1947, a doctor and a man are on a bus.  The doctor wants to know how much longer the trip will take, and the mysterious man says they will arrive shortly. True to his word, they arrive at a crash site.  It’s a giant ship, but it definitely isn’t American.

Dr. Dana Scully is prepping for surgery at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital (where we left her after I Want to Believe) when a nurse tells her that she has a phone call.  On the display is the image of a young boy with no ears, and he’s presumably the patient being prepared for a procedure in the adjacent room.  The caller is insistent; it’s Walter Skinner.

Cut to a clip of Jimmy Kimmel interviewing President Obama.  Kimmel tells the President that the first thing he’d do upon being sworn in is to go and get the secret papers about Area 51 and UFOs. Everyone laughs.  Mulder answers his phone and tells Scully that his “life has become a punchline.”  Scully is clearly Mulder’s lifeline in the world because he has retreated into his little house in the middle of nowhere.  She tells him about Skinner’s call; Skinner wants to know if he has seen a program on “the Net” by a guy named Tad O’Malley.  Mulder finds his show and sees O’Malley ranting about 9-11 conspiracies and how they’re tied to Roswell in 1947.  No, Mulder has not seen this guy.  Scully says skinner wants them to meet, so Mulder tells her to have Skinner set up the meeting.  He also tells her that she’s coming with him.

In Washington DC, Mulder gets out of a car and Scully greets him.  “Uber?” she asks.  Mulder replies that he hitchhiked, which seems to be a joke between them.  She still cares a lot about him, even though they clearly aren’t together anymore.  She says he should get out of his house more often, and he assures her that he’s taking care of himself.  They’re interrupted when a limo pulls up carrying the charismatic—and clearly rich—Tad O’Malley.  Mulder wants to meet where they stand, but O’Malley warns against low flying aircraft that record conversations.

Inside the limo, O’Malley pulls out a bottle of champagne but neither Mulder nor Scully partake.  Scully gets to the point and wants to know how they can help.  Mulder takes note that the windows don’t roll down, and that’s because they’re bullet proof.  Just in case.  O’Malley tells them that he has been studying the UFO phenomenon for a long time.  Mulder says that he just wants to believe, but proof is oddly hard to come by. (That had to make diehard fans crack a smile)  O’Malley says Mulder wrote the book on UFOs with his work on the X-Files, but both Mulder and Scully assert that the X-Files are closed…”for better or for worse,” Mulder adds.  Mulder tests O’Malley’s knowledge about UFO abduction cases and seems to earn Mulder’s respect.  O’Malley is intent on rattling some bigwigs in the intelligence community and he needs some support.  He wants to introduce the duo to someone.

Low Moor, Virginia.  The familiar orchestral tones play in the background as the limo winds its way down a dirt road in the middle of open plains.  They stop at a little house in the middle of nowhere, so far removed that Scully remarks that aliens couldn’t find the place.  O’Malley introduces the house’s resident, Sveta, whose idea it was to contact the former agents.  It turns out that Mulder interviewed her family when she was a little girl, after her first abduction.  Inside the house, Sveta lifts her shirt to reveal scars from where medical tests were done on her.  She also has false memories that we implanted in her head.  While she talks, O’Malley does a “translation” of what her story means.  Scully gives him some side eye and says she is familiar with the terminology.  Sveta says that a lot of the times the implanted memories don’t last the way they should and she can recall what happened.  She was impregnated multiple times and the fetuses were removed before birth.  She also reveals that she has alien DNA, which is something Scully can test.

Back in 1947, the doctor is escorted through the crash site by armed soldiers.  They encounter an alien crawling away from the wreckage with a badly injured leg.  Fear is in its eyes as it sees the soldiers approaching.  The doctor is awestruck, but before he can do anything else, the mysterious man proclaims it a menace and shoots it.  The soldiers start shooting as well until the alien’s body is riddled with bullet holes.  The doctor is horrified at the barbarism.

Scully is preparing to draw Sveta’s blood.  Sveta reveals that she can move things with her mind, but it doesn’t happen at will.  She can tell that Mulder and Scully were a couple, and that Mulder is depressed, and that they have a child together.  Scully was skeptical at first, but she starts to get uncomfortable with Sveta’s truths and she jabs the needle into her arm.  Sveta says Scully can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be abducted, but then she sees the pain in Scully’s eyes and knows that she actually does know what it’s like because it happened to her, too.

A helicopter lands in Mulder’s front yard.  O’Malley greets him and Mulder says that he was right that O’Malley’s quest has made him a rich man.  Mulder’s quest hasn’t been quite as lucrative…  O’Malley warns that the people they’re going to see value their privacy; when they arrive, Mulder has a bag on his head so he doesn’t know where they are.  They’re at a huge warehouse that contains a Faraday Cage that contains an Alien Replica Vehicle.  Garner gives Mulder the tour and says that he’s being shown these things at great risk.  The ship is amazing, like something from Independence Day.  It floats off the ground using Free Energy from the electromagnetic field, technology that has existed for seventy years while oil companies profited.  Suddenly, they flip a switch and the ship disappears.  It’s cloaked using element 115.  Mulder is amazed.

Back in 1947, the doctor retrieves the alien’s dead body.  He covers it before scooping it into his arms.  As he passes the mysterious man, the man says the alien is dead.  The doctor wonders why they brought him out there in the first place.

Scully is drawing her own blood when O’Malley interrupts.  He teases that she’s testing herself for alien DNA and she replies that she has high blood pressure.  Her scrubs are splattered with blood from an earlier surgery.  O’Malley notes the patient’s face on the display, and without ears the child looks alien.  She assures him that it’s a coincidence, and while it’s probably not genetic, the disease that causes children to be born without ears is prevalent among Navaho Indians.  O’Malley asks if Scully is upset that Mulder brought her in on this case, and she admits that her work on the X-Files was some of the most intense and challenging of her career, as was her relationship with Mulder.  O’Malley tells her that he’s also there because he wanted to see her again.

Mulder pays a visit to Sveta in the middle of the night.  He says he hitchhiked.  They sit down and he tells her that he noticed that she hesitated when she answered the question about her abduction.  Sveta says that O’Malley asked the wrong question—she doesn’t actually think she was abducted by aliens; rather she believes that she was abducted by men who used alien technology and who took her babies.  She doesn’t know if she can trust Mulder, but he assures her that she can.  She wonders if he has been working all these years under the same false pretenses, that there has never been an alien abduction problem, but that it has been men all along.

Scully’s phone rings.  It’s Mulder.  She’s in the limo with O’Malley but she answers.  Mulder says he’s been misled after all these years, and that there never has been an alien conspiracy.  Scully has the car pull over so he can explain that perhaps they have been misled all these years.  He says that Sveta is the key to everything.  Mulder doesn’t want to have the conversation over the phone so he hangs up, but we see that he’s still with Sveta.

In Washington DC, Mulder walks into his old office with Skinner.  The office space is still there but the files are gone.  Mulder says that the past will determine the future.  He demands answers from Skinner, but Skinner says that he has always protected Mulder, and that’s why Skinner brought Mulder in on the case.  Skinner says that not a day goes by when he hasn’t wanted to pick up the phone to call Mulder.  Since 9-11, the world has become a very strange place.  Mulder agrees and says that with all of the spying and policing, the world has never been in greater danger.  “Then do something about it, Mulder.”  Mulder dials Skinner’s number.  Now Skinner can reach him.

O’Malley is doing his latest show and he mentions Scully’s work at the hospital.  She tunes in just in time to see it and she sighs in frustration.  The nurse brings in the test results and she asks for them to be retested.  She tells the nurse that she’s waiting for a call from a man named Mulder, and that it’s important.  Then she heads into surgery.

In the middle of the night, Mulder meets an old man on the National Mall.  The man laments the late hour and says that they shouldn’t be meeting in unsecured environments.  Mulder reminds the old man that he had promised to confirm things once Mulder finally found the truth.  Mulder feels he was being manipulated before, but now he has seen an ARV and he believes that things are being misreported as UFO abductions.  Alien technology is being used against us by men.  The man says that he is a man of medicine but he never knew how his work would be used.  We see flashbacks and learn that the old man was the doctor at the crash site.  The man tells Mulder that Roswell was a smoke screen.

Scully arrives at Mulder’s house and she’s upset that he hasn’t called.  He tells her that after all these years they have been deceived.  She accuses Mulder that she has seen him get this excited before but this will be his undoing.  Sveta appears in the doorway and asks if everything is okay.  Mulder tells her that Sveta is the key.  “You know what you’re doing,” Scully says, and she gets back in her car.

O’Malley arrives and tells Scully to stay because it’s important.  Mulder didn’t think she’d come if it wasn’t important.  Inside the house, Mulder lays out the foundation of how these intellectuals started using alien technology after World War II.  They aliens arrived because they had been drawn by our use of H-bombs.  Over the years, the technology was mined from the downed flying saucers to use the technology on its own people.  Mulder cites the government’s lies: Tuskegee Experiments, Henrietta Lacks.  The government has been hoarding the information so they can control the information.  O’Malley says that the world has been preparing for the take-down of the United States, and it’s happening all around us.  He says it will start on a Friday, when banks have computer problems, and it will follow with electromagnetic pulses to wipe everything out.  O’Malley plans on revealing the truth the following day, and Scully says that it’s irresponsible for them to create fear.  Sveta says it’s important for people to know the truth; Scully informs her that she has no alien DNA.

As Scully prepares for surgery, she quickly checks O’Malley’s show and sees Sveta denying the whole story.  O’Malley says that the government is trying hard to cover up the truth.  The nurse arrives with Scully’s revised test results.  Then she sees that O’Malley’s show is offline.

Mulder hurries to Sveta’s house and sees that she is gone.

Two Hummers burst into the warehouse with the ARV and attach bombs to it.  They drive away as the bombs detonate, destroying the ARV and killing the scientists.

Scully walks to her car and sees “Don’t give up” written in the dust on her car.  Mulder approaches, talking about conspiracies.  Scully can see that Mulder is exhausted.  He says it was a long day at the office.  She says they need to find and protect Sveta because she had her genome sequenced along with her own, because of Scully’s history and the child they share.  Sveta isn’t the only one, and Scully wants to stop these SOBs.  Their phones beep.  It’s Skinner.

Sveta drives along the highway when her car stops.  A ship settles above the car and a piercing green laser shines down on her.  She tries to get out of the car but she can’t.  The car explodes.

Next we see our old friend Cancer Man.  Someone holds a cigarette to his breathing tube.  “We have a small problem.  They’ve reopened the X-Files,” he says.

Well, The X-Files is back, and it’s like seeing an old friend again.

This revival is much grittier, much more visceral than the previous incarnations.  In this post-911 world, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of depression watching as Mulder and O’Malley talked about how much the world has changed.  If only the most pressing matters in the world today revolved around aliens….  At any rate, the show promises to get better and better over the course of the next few episodes.

I’m hooked again.  Are you?

I Want to Believe: The Return of The X-Files

A year ago the possibility of a revival of iconic 1990s drama The X-Files was a likely as finding the Loch Ness Monster.  However, unlike Nessie, there was a movement to bring the “epic global phenomenon” back to the small screen.  No one believed that the stars would align so perfectly, but amazingly enough show creator Chris Carter had been in talks with David Duchovny, who was ready to return as the wryly charismatic Fox Mulder.  Once he was on board, Gillian Anderson agreed to return to the role of Dana Scully, a role she has vocally tried to put behind her.

Tonight we get to see the return of the legendary show whose mythology rivals that of the UK’s Doctor Who.  As we wait for the show to air pending the end of the NFC Championship Game, I started thinking about how the show would be so much different now, with technology being so much more accessible (how many of us had cell phones back when the show aired?) and social media allowing for the truth to be out there so much more than it ever had been before.  Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich says that “As a long form saga, The X-Files was influential—and disappointing” in terms of all of the mythology that seem to go nowhere.  In an era of smart phones and Twitter, think of how many times Fox Mulder could have exposed Cancer Man’s secrets with a simple photo of a dark warehouse full of alien bodies.  It would have been so easy.

Somehow, I don’t think Chris Carter and company will make it so easy.  One thing is for sure: The X-Files is back and the truth is out there.  And…I want to believe that it’s going to be amazing!!!!

Look for my recap of episode one, “My Struggle,” later tonight (after the episode finally airs…thanks, NFC Championship Game….