I’ve waited almost 20 years for closure from The X-Files. Since 1993, I’ve watched Mulder and Scully investigate the darkest and most unbelievable supernatural phenomena, while plumbing the depths of conspiracy theory insanity to find “the truth.” After all the searching, the waiting, and the peril, do you want to know the ultimate ”truth” of Chris Carter’s epic mystery? The truth is that none of this would have happened had the Smoking Man died of emphysema in the late ’90s like he should have.
Spoilers. Spoilers everywhere.
The truth of The X-Files is that one man with an unimaginable level of autonomy, a small fortune in government funding and a lot of reverse-engineered alien tech he scavenged off a crashed UFO in the ’40s has waited until he was an octogenarian to unleash a bioweapon on humanity that will kill billions and leave the survivors at his will. To what end, you ask? Well, he intends to relocate mankind’s docile remnants to a new, Utopian world built in his image. This cartoonish level of supervillainy is compounded by a needlessly complex and almost ridiculously executed eugenics program that turns his illegitimate rape baby with Scully into a superhuman killing machine full of angst, questions and the expected hormone imbalances that come with puberty. Shoehorn in a pedantic happy ending for Mulder and Scully and a pointlessly open-ended final scene that will never be elaborated upon and all we’ve done is muddy the already murky waters of plot and substance of these long-awaited final seasons.
“But maybe they’ll do another season or a movie to finish it up?”
With Gillian Anderson announcing that she’s finished with the character and most, if not all the secondary cast of supporters and villains being killed off this year, it’s going to be hard, unless the next UFO crash brings us a Zombie virus that resurrects everyone. Although, given the lackluster and, at times, pandering feel of this season, I wouldn’t write it off as being outside the realm of possibility. This year’s episodes have, at times, had that old X-Files spark with witty, intelligent and outright creepy scripts delivering unnerving stories of intrigue and the bizarre. With episodes that could have easily been written into Black Mirror or Channel Zero, coupled with those that were uniquely akin to what the series has been known for, it felt experimental and even desperate, in a way.
In an age of fake news and incredulous data-warping reality every day, the fact of the matter is we’re already living in a globally dystopian and disconnected society, where shadow governments and secret conspiracies would be hard-pressed to find a way to actually disrupt the goings on of our world. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that Mulder’s gray, bobble-headed quasi villainous aliens would hardly be noticed walking around on the streets, unless they managed to garner some sort of viral recognition from the current flavor of the month celebutante. The “truth” is that the Smoking Man’s doomsday scenario would hardly register as a threat to anyone in this growing age of social-justice warriors, whose loyalties are as fickle and pliable as a temperamental toddler. No, the age of everything has ruined the mystery for us. There’s no longer a need to seek out answers or ponder the great questions when a Google search can render those queries obsolete. The magic of The X-Files was the sense of wonder, the questioning of what could be out there and, simply put, it was better left to memory rather than seeing its bloated corpse paraded through our homes, one last time.
Like the iconic poster in Mulder’s office of the UFO hovering over the forest with the caption, “I Want to Believe,” I find myself hoping for more. The season/series finale felt rushed, as if the idea had only been half formed and had been shoved into the spotlight before it was ready. Questions were answered. Eugenics. Bioweapons. A clandestine space program. All of this accomplished through the silence of good people and the general malaise that has washed over us, as a people. The truth is that Scully was, in a moment, as sudden as it was baffling, to put aside all concern for the boy she had obsessed for 17 years over as her son after his “death.” Mulder went on a killing spree and, at the end of it all, seemed to be as exasperated with the revelations about the conspiracy as I was.
The standalone episodes of The X-Files will forever be my favorites. The wit. The subtle observation of human nature. The absolute horror and wonder that exist within the unknown and unexplored reaches of our very souls. But for a series that has always felt aimless with the end game in mind for the far-reaching conspiracy storyline they set up in 1993, a story whose ultimate “truth” has changed with every season, every film and every development created by its showrunner. I’ll continue to enjoy these one-offs and throw-away episodes done throughout the last 25 years, but I will never be able to wrap my head around the idea that all of this, the deaths, the heartache, the pain and the violations of everything that it means to be human, were simply the machinations of an ancient old man who wanted to be king.
The Truth is Disappointing.