A year ago in another blog pertaining to the then-upcoming revival of The X-Files, I wrote, “Ditch the conspiracy and the aliens, give us some monsters of the week, and sprinkle in a healthy dose of snark, and you’ll be on to something, Chris.”
I stand by that. And after this past week’s episode of The X-Files, I’ll argue it more than ever.
I think by this point everyone knows that The X-Files has two types of episodes: Mytharc and Monster of the Week (MOTW). The latter are concerned with monsters of various types, and they are generally stand alone, self-contained stories that anyone can watch without an extensive knowledge of the series. Mytharc episodes, well, not so much. One needs to know The X-Files to understand those. They are concerned with the overreaching mythology of The X-Files, as their name implies. They deal with the Black Oil, those blasted bees, secret informers with names like Deep Throat and Mister X, and some serious alien abduction issues. They also deal with pregnancies and babies a lot, particularly those concerning Dana Scully.
And they’re boring. Not so much in the beginning, but certainly toward the end of the series, and frankly even now. They take themselves too seriously. They’re clunky and bogged down with so much information that it’s hard to keep up with them, and they just recycle the same themes over and over again. Conspiracy, discrediting Mulder, shutting down (and then reopening) the X-Files. We get it. Oh, and those kids? Yeah, we got that, too. Clones and badness and alien DNA and all still part of the conspiracy and everyone is out to get us. OK. Enough already. Wait. What’s going on, again? That’s how Mytharc episodes feel to me. Despite my love of a few of them, for the most part, when I tune in to The X-Files, I look forward to a Monster of the Week episode far more than a Mytharc one.
Some of my favorite X-Files episodes are “Pusher,” “Squeeze,” “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’,” (though this one likely stands in its own category of completely awesome), “War of the Coprophages,” “Irresistible,” “Syzygy,” “Paper Hearts,” “Small Potatoes,” “Detour,” and “Bad Blood.” I could list more, but this will do. And these have one thing in common. They are all Monster of the Week episodes.
I do love some Mytharc episodes dearly, and one is responsible for my love the The X-Files, as it was the first episode I ever saw. And Lord knows I love me some Krycek, and he tends to only turn up in the Mytharc. So Mytharc episodes aren’t all bad.
Still, overall, I love Monster of the Week episodes best, and this was proved again this week.
Here in the States, the fourth episode of The X-Files six episode miniseries aired this week, and it was a fabulous thing. Not only did the powers that be manage to homage their own history very well, complete with easter eggs for the hard core fans, they made this episode completely stand alone. It’s self-contained and everything The X-Files should be. If someone who had never watched The X-Files wanted to see what all the fuss was about, but didn’t have access to the old episodes, I’d show them this one. It was a thing of beauty.
And it was Monster of the Week.
Completely and totally.
And like the old MOTW episodes, it didn’t take itself too seriously. It didn’t have to worry about all the minutia of the mythology, so it was free to give us quips and snark and all the things that make Mulder and Scully special.
It delivered this in spades.
This shouldn’t be a huge surprise, as it was written by Darrin Morgan, who penned two of my favorites listed above and starred in another, but it was a huge relief after the stodgy nature of the miniseries so far.
The first three episodes of this new miniseries have been decently entertaining, but so very Mytharc. So much focus on the conspiracy and those blasted kids again. Yes, there would be some relief to knowing who is behind the curtain of The X-Files, but it’s been so long since we’ve tried to peak back there that most of us have forgotten why we cared. But we haven’t forgotten “Bad Blood” and its blistering humor, and to see more of that this week with “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was amazing and just so much fun. It felt like home to me (and no, not the X-Files episode of the same name, because that one is just plain creepy and wrong, thanks).
Not only that, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” gave Mulder closure in many ways. I won’t say how, but the last scene of this episode vindicated him and left me with a soft smile on my face that has returned even now just thinking about it.
I loved everything about this episode.
I’ll be watching it again.
And it just might be added to my list of favorites above.
Because it was damn near perfect.
Thank you, Darrin Morgan, and everyone else involved.
Because I think Scully said it best this week, with seven simple words: “This is how I like my Mulder.”
Me too, Scully. Me too.
And you’re not too shabby yourself, sister.
GS Blogger: wabbit