Making sense of a decade of X-Files mythology in a repeat order of just six episodes was always going to be a tall order. So Chris Carter chose to do it in two episodes instead – the first one of this new series, which was merely not-very-good and a bit confused, then this haggard, flailing mindscrew of a finale in which events moved at lightning speed and no aspect of any plotline made the remotest trace of sense.
In many ways this was a lesson in how not to handle a good idea: deliberately making humankind vulnerable to pandemics is a fantastically scary concept, with the kind of relevance that eluded The X-Files for years at the end of its last run, but one that proved impossible for Carter and co to convey in their allotted 40 minutes.
So, with a limited budget that forced a succession of lumbering American thesps with bags under their eyes to stand in for WORLD DEATH PLAGUE, they set about complicating the issue still further. I lost count of the number of times people were forced to say “Alien DNA” with a straight face – couldn’t they have come up with another name for it, like the “Spartan Virus” that appeared out of nowhere at the 20-minute mark?
Also, if someone could explain what’s going on with the Cigarette Smoking Man developing a bizarrely affected fake-English accent (“Ai just cheinged the taimetebble…”) I would be grateful. Did the Phantom of the Opera mask moment come with a side order of Michael Crawford as well?
If I were going to sum up the last episode of the new X-Files season in a single screengrab (yes, I am already in rehearsal for the death of journalism), I’d give you one very particular image from the last 10 minutes or so of this fabulously confused finale.
After 60 years of plotting and planning, Cigarette Smoking Man – remember, this is the series that ran for nearly a decade with a supervillain known only as Cigarette Smoking Man – has unleashed his wicked scheme to kill off everyone in the world, weakening their immune systems with dodgy vaccines so that he can install himself and his pals as the New, or possibly Dead, World Order.
CSM does, however, propose to spare Dana Scully, Fox Mulder and Agent Monica Reyes, who was in those two dreadful seasons of The X-Files where they replaced Mulder with the T-1000, no doubt because of the soft spot he has for people who have dedicated their whole careers to trying to thwart and outwit him.
But in the nick of time, Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) has an idea. “Alien DNA is all that can save us!” she mutters throatily. “We can use Alien DNA to defeat the Spartan Virus!” And as she tries to extract some Alien DNA from herself with the aid of another auburn-haired sceptic, Agent Einstein – “Our sample’s too small!” they hiss at each other. “More nucleotides! Alien DNA!” – there comes my favourite shot of the entire episode: the moment where Anderson, lit by a stray shaft of light, poses soulfully in her laboratory under a huge sign reading EYEWASH STATION.
14 March 2016 | 3:02 pm
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