Recap of The X-Files premiere and a preview of what’s to come
I have been a die-hard X-Phile since the very first episode way back in 1992, so I was over the moon when I heard it was coming back to TV. Before I get into my recap/review, I just have to say… if you were at all disappointed by the last X-Files movie, fear not. This new season/reboot/whatever of The X-Files takes us back to the show proper. After I watched The X-Files premiere episode, my first thought was, I want to watch it again! Of course, there is always the chance that I am watching it through nostalgic glasses…
The X-Files premiere requires no knowledge of the previous seasons. I will admit, towards the end of the series, I checked out. (I was a teenager and DVRs hadn’t been invented yet.) The show opens with voice-over from Mulder, giving a quick rundown of who he is (FBI agent), why he is obsessed with UFOs (believes his sister Samantha was abducted by aliens when they were kids), what the X-Files are (FBI files dealing with the paranormal and aliens), and how he was paired up with Scully (she is a medical doctor and natural skeptic; she was initially meant to reign Mulder in). I feel like Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are so entwined in pop culture that everyone knows at least the basics.
I almost cried as the credits roll. They are the ORIGINAL credits, except that Mitch Pileggi has been added. Everything else is the original credit sequence, even Mulder and Scully’s season one badge photos.
Okay, enough geeking out. Let’s get to the episode.
Scully has left the FBI and focuses on her career as a surgeon. She gets an unexpected call from Skinner, still at the FBI, looking for Mulder. Scully admits that she can barely get a hold of him (implying that the romantic relationship that was touched on in the last few seasons of the series, and in the film The X-Files: I Want to Believe is officially over). Scully has no trouble reaching him. Tad O’Malley, a right-wing nutjob with a hugely popular web series reached out to Skinner, asking to be put in contact with Mulder. Mulder agrees to meet him, but Scully won’t let him go alone.
The two meet in DC, and it is not clear how long it has been since they have seen each other, but there is just a hint of sexual tension. O’Malley pulls up in a limo and requests that the two agents join him. He is even more paranoid than Mulder: he fears “they” are listening and feels safer in his bullet-proof limousine. O’Malley is a “true believer,” whereas Mulder wants to believe; actual proof is hard to come by. He wants to show them something that will blow open the most evil conspiracy ever. Scully says they have moved on with their lives, to which Mulder, pointedly responds, “Yes we have. For better or worse.”
O’Malley takes them to a farm house in the middle of nowhere, Virginia. They are greeted by a young woman, Sveta, who was the one who recommended O’Malley call Mulder. She remembers him interviewing her and her family when she was a child, as she has been abducted “more times than she can count.” She has deep, round lesions on her belly and claims to have been impregnated by aliens numerous times, each time her fetus being harvested through her belly button. Sveta also insists she has alien DNA, though no doctor has ever tested her.
Cue Scully taking her to the hospital to run a barrage of tests. Sveta also reveals she can read minds and sometimes move things with her mind – though she can’t control it. Scully doubts her, naturally, so Sveta tells her that she knows she and Mulder used to have an intimate relationship; that they have a child together; that Mulder is severely depressed and ultimately that is what broke them up. Sveta becomes defensive when she sees Scully still doesn’t believe her, and points out that she doesn’t know what it’s like to be abducted. Then she looks into Scully’s eyes. “Maybe you do.” It is because of that that Scully, later on, takes a sample of her own blood to be tested.
While Scully and Sveta are doing girl things, Mulder is picked up from Sveta’s house by O’Malley in a helicopter. He is taking Mulder to meet some very paranoid people. Paranoia is a sliding scale in this show, but Mulder is taken to an abandoned hangar with a sack over his head. Once there, behind a faraday cage is an alien replica vehicle. Previous attempts to create similar ships have been met with flame throwers by the government. The ship uses electromagnetic fields, the “energy of the universe,” and gravity warp drive to turn on, light up, and eventually disappear. There is no combustible engine. Mulder is like a kid in a candy store.
That night, O’Malley visits Scully at the hospital to make sure she isn’t upset with being put on the spot with Mulder. She is fine, then O’Malley admits he just wanted to see her again. At the same time, Mulder has gone to Sveta’s house, where she admits that she doesn’t believe the aliens have been taking her babies. She believes it was men, humans, and she saw their faces. She was afraid they would kill her if she told the truth. Mulder immediately calls Scully, who is on a date with O’Malley. She asks the limo to pull over so she can speak to Mulder privately when she hears how manic he is. “We have been misled! What if there is no alien conspiracy? Sveta is the key to everything.” He “can’t do this over the phone” and hangs up on her.
Mulder returns to the FBI, to his old basement office. He is looking for his files, and finds the office has been stripped bare. All that is left are his pencils in the ceiling and an obviously-placed “I Want to Believe” poster in the middle of the floor. I bet you can find sunflower seeds scattered in the corners. Mulder, still manic, blames Skinner for letting them take his files, and feels like he has been “led by my nose through an alley to a dead end.” Skinner tries to calm him by reminding him that he has always looked out for Mulder, and there hasn’t been a day since Mulder left that Skinner hasn’t wanted to call him. Mulder texts Skinner his number before he storms out.
Scully is about to go into surgery the next day when she gets the test results. She asks the nurse to run them again, then tells her she is expecting a call from Mulder. She hasn’t heard from him since his strange, manic call the night before.
Mulder has been at the National Mall, waiting to meet an older man with a bushy beard, who promised Mulder that if he “ever put the pieces together, he would confirm.” Through flashbacks interspersed throughout the episode, we learn that Beardy was an Army doctor who was brought to the Roswell crash site in 1947. The military found a single alien in the crash, badly injured and trying to crawl away from the wreck. The military shoots it dead, stating “it could be dangerous,” much to Beardy’s horror. Beardy takes the now-dead alien, draped in a cloth. Interestingly, no one tries to stop him. Anyway, Mulder now knows that he was being “cleverly manipulated,” that the government has had this alien tech for over 60 years, and it is being used by humans on humans. Mulder wants to tell the world, take the bullet for Beardy, but Beardy isn’t ready. “You are nearly there… Roswell was a smokescreen.” Maddening.
After not hearing back from Mulder all day, Scully is worried, so she goes to Mulder’s house. Mulder greets her on the porch, still manic, ranting that “all these years, we’ve been deceived!” Scully looks ready to put Mulder into a straightjacket when he says the truth is out there, and he’s going to broadcast it. Then Sveta appears at the door, and Scully’s heart drops into her shoes. Mulder is totally oblivious to Scully’s feelings, and insists Sveta is the key, but Scully doesn’t want to hear it – she just wants to leave. Before she can pull away, O’Malley arrives and begs her to stay. Mulder claims he would have invited her, but didn’t think she would come.
The foursome go inside and Mulder starts his craziest rant yet, about a conspiracy bigger than the Manhattan Project. The gist is that aliens were drawn to Earth by our own H-bombs. They were concerned for mankind’s self-extinction and put themselves in harm’s way to prevent it. World leaders gathered to sign off on ultra-secret classified studies and human testing, including human hybridizations and gene editing. The only missing piece is what the government wants to do with all of that. If you thought Mulder sounded crazy, he sounds downright sane compared to the bonkers stuff O’Malley starts spouting. He believes it is leading to the final takeover of America by a multinational group of elites (or perhaps the guvmint). He goes on with details: it will start on a Friday. Digital money will disappear, power grids will go down, made to look like an alien attack. O’Malley plans on going live on tomorrow’s show with this story. Scully just has to shut them up. She warns that this is fear mongering, dangerous, irresponsible, and borders on treasonous. She also informs them that Sveta’s DNA came back as negative for alien strains. With that, she leaves.
The next morning, Scully has returned to the hospital. Before she goes into surgery, she can’t help but check in on O’Malley’s show. Rather than reporting the crazy conspiracy, O’Malley is running a video of Sveta talking to the press. She says that O’Malley put words in her mouth, paid her to create stories. Mulder is watching this too, from his home. “They got to her.” He goes to Sveta’s home, but finds it empty. When Scully finishes her surgery, she goes straight to her computer, and finds that O’Malley’s website has been taken down. All she gets is a 404 error.
Meanwhile, the government has arrived at the ARV bunker and blows it up – including anyone unlucky enough to be working there.
Scully goes to her car and sees “Don’t Give Up” written in the dirt on her back window. Mulder steps out of the shadows and jumps back on the crazy train, talking about a sixth extinction event which will see the rich move off-planet while the poor and huddled masses are killed by the fascist regime. But this time, Scully boards the crazy train – albeit it tentatively. She admits she sequenced both her and Sveta’s genomes, and both were anomalous. “Someone has to stop these sons of bitches,” she mutters, near tears. They both get urgent texts from Skinner.
Sveta has left of her own volition. She is driving down a forested road, when suddenly her car dies in the road. The headlights flicker, and it is all eerily similar to the pilot episode. A green light shoots down through her sunroof, from an alien ship above. Suddenly the car blows up. It is doubtful she made it out alive.
In our final shots, we see Cigarette Smoking Man, still smoking out of the hole in his neck. He gets a phone call: “We have a small problem. They’ve re-opened the X-Files.”
In the player below, you can watch a preview of what’s to come on The X-Files!