There is a pessimistic saying when you're out looking for a job in your 20's that all-too-often rings true. It is, "you can't get a job without experience and you can't get experience with a job." In an obscure way, this statement applies to the success of The X-Files. During its initial run, The X-Files survived the growing pains stage of the first season by establishing likable characters, a curiousity-inducing over-arching plot, and a "monster of the week" style of "filler episodes" that could keep the main plot fresh and prevent it from becoming overbearing. After surviving and proving successful, X-Files began to thrive as early on as its second season, when it already began to show evidence of becoming self aware of its own ridiculousness.
And by ridiculousness I mean the absurdity of the reality of many of their cases and often overdramatization of the over-arching plot. It soon became obvious to the writers and actors that this show could only take itself so seriously in order to retain the edge that made it popular. The show began developing its own cliches and repetitive plot points that led to moments and even entire episodes poking fun at the show's own character, plot structure, and design. It has led to some of the more entertaining episodes in the series, and often some of the more highly acclaimed and memorable episodes as well.
It is this self-awareness that made me fall in love with the show. And it is this self-awareness that has left me with an appreciation for the coming-out-retirement bout of six episodes. It was uniformly structured. We got an intro episode explaining the re-opening of the X-Files and continued the alien main plot. It then had four episodes in between that were primarily "monster of the week" style, with a bit of main plot sprinkled in here or there. Then closing out with the alien main plot. As has always admittedly been the case with me, I have a hard time fully delving into the alien plot. I am much more interested and entertained by the "monster of the week" episodes. And in that vein, the new episodes were brilliant.
We had the hilariously over-the-top were-lizard episode, special guest-starring the hilariously awkward Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords fame. We had the terrorist episode, which focused around the young doppelgangers of our famous FBI duo, and a rather humorous scene of Mulder trippin'. And we had the traditional monster episode that was relatively serious throughout, was sandwiched around over-arching plot points, and following the traditional theme of "the X-Files aren't always fully explained or fully resolved, even if the journey has concluded".
There was little not to like about the revisit to the classic scifi/horror show. Yes, it wasn't entirely the same, but in many ways the show managed to grasp what was transcendental about the original seasons and play off of it like it never missed a beat. The bar was set high, but it was also lowered by the episodes sans Mulder and Scully, so with them coming back, we knew we could expect more and it would likely deliver. And here's to them giving us a few more episodes to chew on, sooner rather than later.
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Series Quality: 7/10