Did We Just See the Pilot of X-Files: The Next Generation?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 - 11:18AM
X-Files
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Tuesday, 16 February 2016 - 11:18AM
Did We Just See the Pilot of X-Files: The Next Generation?
Last night's episode of The X-Files, "Babylon," was—disappointing, to say the least. Although it's been a lifelong dream of mine to see Mulder get high on shrooms and line-dance to Billy Ray Cyrus, the plot was completely disjointed, the much-hyped "return" of the Lone Gunmen was nothing more than a big tease, and the treatment of the terrorism storyline was terribly hamfisted and didactic at best and mildly offensive at worst. The episode somehow started off with a young Muslim man carrying out a suicide bombing (because of course he does), takes a wacky doppelgangers/magic mushrooms detour, and finishes with Mulder and Scully explicitly discussing the episode's heavy-handed and simplistic themes, which basically amount to "racism is bad and so is terrorism," and also managed to draw parallels between fraught international relations and the Mulder/Scully relationship, with a shout-out to a "mother's love" (gag) for good measure. It was a mess, and added absolutely nothing to the very complex conversation surrounding this issue.

That being said, I didn't expect the revival to be perfect, and a few decent episodes out of six is probably all we could have hoped for after almost fifteen years. "Mulder and Scully vs the Were-Monster" and, to a lesser extent, "Founder's Mutation" and "Home Again," proved that The X-Files still has stories to tell, even if they're never quite as great as the original series. But a huge part of the enjoyment of the revival is seeing Mulder and Scully together again, which is why the introduction of the Mulder and Scully clones in "Babylon" worries me greatly for a potential season 11.

The introduction of the new agents, Miller and Einstein, didn't bother me too much in itself, and was possibly the least offensive part of the episode (aside from the Mulder trip, of course). Lauren Ambrose and Robbie Amell are both likable, charismatic actors, and they play well off of each other. It was a little disappointing that they were really nothing more than broadly drawn facsimiles of Mulder and Scully, just because that's so very obvious, and the doppelganger aspect wasn't used to its full comedic potential, but their scenes were entertaining enough to watch.

But if this episode was meant as a backdoor pilot for X-Files: The Next Generation, I will not be on board. I would be happy with another season of The X-Files, because no matter how many blunders they make, it will be tough for them to ruin the pleasure of Mulder and Scully's interactions. But the only reason this revival ever seemed like a good idea was the return of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. Miller and Einstein may be more engaging than Doggett and Reyes, but that's a very low bar to clear, and if the powers-that-be are even thinking about continuing without Mulder and Scully, they should just quit while they're ahead.
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