Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The X-Files: Episode 6 review

The final episode of The X-Files six-part miniseries aligned the program with the crop of apocalyptic TV dramas that have emerged in recent years.

In a script that could have come from an anti-vaxxer’s fever dream, both Scully and Mulder find themselves on opposite ends of a nationwide outbreak of communicable diseases, caused by mass inoculations during the last century.

The only way to protect against this deadly outbreak is a vaccine created from – you guessed it – alien DNA. Scully and Agent Einstein attempt to use the senior agent’s augmented genetics to treat the so-called ‘Spartan virus’, which attacks an individual’s immune system, leaving people susceptible to fatal infection.

Mulder, meanwhile, is the outbreak’s proverbial ‘canary-in-the-coal-mine’. He’s seriously symptomatic when he breaks into the Cigarette Smoking Man’s home, a man now so disfigured by assassination attempts that he looks like Lord Voldemort with a tracheotomy.

Cigarette Smoking Man reveals his role in the outbreak, but Mulder’s too weak to apprehend him, and must be carried from the premises by Agent Miller, who arrives in time to rescue him from his advancing nemesis.

In the final seconds of the miniseries, there is another overt demonstration of extraterrestrial technology, and a reference to Mulder and Scully’s son, but it’s fair to say that viewers were left with more questions than answers.

This is not unusual in the show’s history, and will serve as a starting point if another season is ordered by Fox.

Commonalities between the eschatology of various religious traditions and the apocalyptic scenario described in The X-Files miniseries may seem far-fetched, but they are similar in one important respect.

In both cases, the fate of world ultimately rests on a solution found outside normal human experience. In religion, it’s divine intervention by a deity; for The X-Files, it’s Scully’s extraterrestrial genetics. The attribution may be different, but the metaphysical implications are the same: humanity just can’t save itself. It needs help.

Overall, I found this miniseries entertaining, if occasionally uneven. There was the sensation of getting caught-up with old acquaintances – a familiar feeling, given this era of reboots.

Whatever seeds were sown by The X-Files in the soil of the pop cultural zeitgeist of the ‘90s has returned to us in 2016.

And the harvest has been good.