Spoiler warning: don’t read this post if you haven’t watched the first episode of the new season yet. In fact, don’t do anything if you haven’t watched the first episode of the new season yet. Don’t you want to count toward the ratings? Do your part for 1013 and watch it now.
I won’t do a full run-down of the episode, though it was pants-peeingly exciting to see the original credits on live TV again. There are already plenty of reviews online, ranging from mainstream critics who drowned in Chris Carter’s exposition-filled monologues to thrilled fans who have learned to swim in such waters.
I want to talk about one moment that pulled the whole episode together for me. It’s when Mulder the Disheveled Hobo lays out his unified theory of everything for Tad, Sveta and Scully.
We’re used to Mulder having some crazy theories. In fact, we’re used to other characters using “You’ve had some crazy theories Mulder, but…” as a preface to dismissing whatever paranoid (though 99% accurate) claptrap he’s decided to buy into this week.
This one goes a little above and beyond, however. To wit, here are the collected works of the new Corporate Conspiracy, according to Mulder and Tad O’Malley:
- All so-called alien abductions were staged by a secret coalition of world leaders who picked up some scrap UFO technology from Roswell et al. and tested it on humans, including alien-human hybridization efforts.
- This shady government/corporate alliance plans to take over the US and then the world.
- Weapons at their disposal include violent uprisings, weather wars, perpetual war, the Patriot Act, militarized police forces, FEMA prison camps, the agriculture and pharmaceutical industries, consumerism, and NSA monitoring of private data.
At first glance, this is a rant worthy of that guy on the subway with mismatched shoes and an open 12-pack of fruit gummies. But really there’s two ways to look at this. One viewpoint is that this conspiracy salad is the only way one could hope to unite X-Files’ sprawling mytharc.
Or — and this is why I liked the scene — Mulder has fallen off the deep end. There’s three reasons why this is cool.
1. We’ve lost our reliable narrator.
You’d think that the skeptic scientist would be the one keeping us grounded, but Scully has two things working against her, neither of which are her fault. One is her inconvenient habit of being absent or semi-conscious when proof of the paranormal is nearby. The other is that Mulder’s gravity-defying leaps of logic almost always turn out to be accurate.
Once the two settled into their comfortable repartee, what that meant for the viewer was that when Mulder is telling Skinner or a roomful of FBI agents that their suspect is a liver-eating mutant or a shapeshifter, the empathetic embarrassment is lightened somewhat. Sure, he looks ridiculous now, but he’ll have the last laugh.
With this last break, we no longer have that comfort. Now he’s just your uncle at Thanksgiving.
2. It fits his continued degradation from the second movie.
As I’ve discussed before, Mulder was not in good shape in X-Files: I Want to Believe. The X-Files closed, prompting Scully to go be a productive member of society and Mulder to hole up in a den, making a nest for himself out of newspaper clippings as though there were no irony in that.
In this new episode, we see that Scully has finally pulled the plug on this relationship, and we even get a bonus diagnosis — endogenous depression. Which I had to look up.
Perhaps Wikipedia is leading me astray, but I do take issue with this diagnosis. Apparently endogenous depression is brought on by chemical imbalances in the brain and is congenital, as opposed to being triggered by major life events. It wouldn’t surprise me the least if among the mysterious brain diseases that Mulder has faced, a predisposition to depression popped up. But I’d also argue that anyone who went from having a mission and a career to becoming a professional beard-grower for 14 years is courting a mental health issue or two.
3. It invites nostalgic recollections of other times he was crazy.