When The X-Files first aired I was still too young for spooky stories, so I only discovered this about two years ago. Over the last couple of years I have been getting season after season and I finished watching the final episode just last week. What a journey it has been! It must have been even more amazing for the people who were actually watching the show over the nine-odd years on TV. So after I have seen it all, what can I say about this long-running supernatural success story?
In The X-Files we follow the two FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they encounter strange and inexplicable cases that can’t always be solved by conventional thinking. And that’s where Mulder’s strong belief in the paranormal and supernatural open new ways. While Scully as a scientist remains sceptic, Mulder’s passion and their experiences together teach her to be open-minded and not reject theories right away. All the while Mulder and Scully are becoming entangled in a government conspiracy that tries to cover up the existence of aliens. But Mulder knows he is on the right track. He is convinced that his sister was abducted by aliens when they were kids, so now he stakes everything to find her again and expose the people responsible for their cruel acts at the same time.
The characters along with the mysteries drive the plot throughout the different seasons. The two agents are so different in their core beliefs and their methods in the beginning, but they soon become an efficient team. As they get to know each other, they learn to trust each other and their character development over the nine seasons is great to watch. I cannot hide the fact though, that sometimes the characters seem to be driven by the script to say or do something that doesn’t quite fit in with who they are. This doesn’t occur very often, though, and just confirms that the show gets so many things right. You wouldn’t notice anything “off” if the character wasn’t set up properly. And for me the characters made the whole series so enjoyable.
Mulder’s obstinacy and wry sense of humour have a great chemistry with Scully’s no-nonsense attitude and her firm-yet-doubting mind-set. The actors also manage to make that special connection to each other that makes watching the series so intriguing. And even the new characters that come in for season 8 and 9 contribute to great character dynamics. I actually warmed up to John Doggett right away. His loyalty, zeal and frankness make him a true asset in the cast of characters. Walter Skinner, Assistant Director and Mulder’s and Scully’s boss, makes for a great helping hand behind the scenes. He’s taking so many kicks and hits, his employees aren’t below insulting and mistrusting him, but he’s always by their side. What a rare ally.
The writing of the show has its highlights and pit falls. Some episodes are pure TV gems and leave you wanting to binge-watch the series to the end. Some episodes are so blatantly obvious fillers that it’s difficult not to skip. I guess it depends on what you want from the series – you will get a weird case in every single episode. But there is good weird (as in intriguing) and there is bad weird (as in confusing or disgusting). The X-Files can get unnecessarily revolting at times. Some ideas alone are horrifying and then seeing an actual script written on messed-up themes leaves you wondering sometimes. Maybe I didn’t quite get the series then – I know it’s supposed to be horror-mystery, but the tone can change from one episode to the next. From conspiracy, to murder-mystery, to body-horror to dream-like weird plots. I prefer some over others, but I guess everyone does have their favourites.
The overall plot of the government/alien conspiracy is what kept most people going over the years, I assume. Apart from the great character dynamics. I think it is no spoiler to say that the ending won’t leave you yelling at your screen, but as it doesn’t manage to tie up all the loose ends it will definitely leave you scratching your head. That doesn’t mean I would discourage anyone from watching it. The twists and turns in the plot are great to follow, even if you do lose sight of what’s going on at some point. I sometimes think the writers did, too. But the suspense is there. You want to know more. You want to know why. And even though not all questions will be answered, enough of them will be answered for you to say “I want to believe”.
It has just been announced that The X-Files are to have a comeback. I am really curious to see how they tie it into the previous series, who will be returning and how the overall tone will have changed. Everyone involved developed since the show finished in the early 2000s, so it is bound to be a different kind of show. I am looking forward to it nonetheless, because I enjoyed watching season 1 to 9 and would definitely do so again after some time. So if you are into conspiracy, mystery and horror in a TV format and have missed the show so far, I strongly recommend you watch it in preparation before the series revival!