The X Files is back!

Season 10 Episode 1 `My Struggle`
Reviewed by Chris Arnsby
There are several moments when it seems as if the first episode of the all-new X-Files will collapse under its own weight. Worryingly the first comes right at the beginning. An extended story-so-far monologue which attempts to summarise nine series and two films worth of material while also quietly ignoring some of the less successful moments (Agents Doggett and Reyes we hardly knew ye). This segues into a history of UFO sightings, complete with nice looking faked footage, and ends with the crash at Roswell. It's a relief when the familiar theme and title sequence appear. This does a much better job of reassuring the audience that it's business as usual than a few photographs of Flukeman, or Eugene Tooms. Although the demands of modern television mean that the title sequence is cut short. Bad news for fans of the screaming face, or germinating seeds with the superimposed words paranormal activity.

The next moment comes when Mulder, after a conversation with Sveta, suddenly decides that everything he's believed in is wrong. It is humans rather than aliens who are behind the global conspiracy he has been chasing for years. There's nothing wrong with re-framing the back story like this, the focus of paranoid conspiracy has shifted since the X-Files began in 1992, but its done in a very awkward way and I'm not sure how I feel about the wholesale ditching of the plot line which I associate with the X-Files. Ultimately it just seems unnecessary and confusing. So aliens landed on Earth and left their technology, but now everything else was men pretending to be aliens? Okay. I can cope with that, I guess. It seems unfair to criticise the new X-Files for having what appears to be a confusing and poorly thought through back story when the old series featured shape-shifters trying to stop bees from spreading a genetically engineered something-or-other. I remember some black oil was involved. I think the oil might have been sentient? And there were some faceless alien super soldiers. Man, it's a good job I wasn't given the job of writing the opening story-so-far monologue. If nothing else, having Mulder jump to a spurious conclusion -and be instantly right- on the basis of little to no evidence whatsoever is also something I association with the series.
Lastly there's an awkward monologue form Mulder which attempts to rush the show's new theory of everything past the viewer. This is over-literally directed to the point of parody. The word "drought" is accompanied by a shot dried up field. The word "war" by footage from Iraq. "Pharmaceuticals" by images of pills rolling down a conveyor belt. I can't do much better than quote Scully. "It's fear-mongering isolationist clap-trap techo-paranoia". I'm also slightly at a loss as to why internet conspiracy sensation Tad O’Malley needs to team up with Mulder for proof. This bloke's got his own fully working ARV (Alien Replica Vehicle) or at least he knows some people who have one. Why does he need to search for proof when he could just fly this thing three times round the Washington Monument and land on the White House lawn? Too bad that the ship is blown up by soldiers before this plan occurs to him.
The kindest thing I can say about this episode is that it doesn't commit any new sins. Poorly written rambling monologues, logic leaps, the sneaking suspicion that the back story is being made up on the spot and rewritten as necessarily. At times these were all features of the original run. Ultimately this is a steady, if uninspired start. A better launchpad for a new direction than the second X-Files film. 
 Oh and the Cigarette Smoking Man is back. Apparently he's only slightly less indestructible than the Master in Doctor Who.

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