“This” feels much more like The X-Files. Written by X-Files alum Glen Morgan, this week’s episode is both parts monster-of-the-week and mythology. While I’d much prefer to have episodes that are solely MOTW instead of continuing this drawn out conspiracy arc, neither one gets in the way of the other and the episode even manages to add a little something extra to the mythology side of things.
Scully and Mulder receive a message from an old friend, Richard Langly (Dean Haglund), one of the Lone Gunmen who died during the original run of the series. Except it’s not exactly him. When he was still alive, Langly and an old girlfriend of his took part in an experiment to extend human life by uploading their minds into a computer simulation. Heaven, Langly says. Some of the details of this are slightly lost on me, but all that matters is that it’s Langly’s computer-simulated mind that reaches out to Mulder through his phone. Apparently, Langly’s the only one to have realized he’s in a simulation (for reasons they don’t really say) and he wants Scully and Mulder to destroy the simulation. Why? Well, that’s where the mythology arc comes in.
The simulation is run by the Russians, but a familiar face is in charge of the operation: Erica Price. We met Erica last week with Mr. Y when the two former Syndicate members asked Mulder to kill the Cigarette Smoking Man. During that conversation, Price and Mr. Y also mentioned that they were planning some space exploration that would eventually lead to everyone leaving Earth. Colonizing space, I believe Erica said. This computer simulation is the way they want to do it. Enter Langly.
The idea that we can upload our minds into a computer as a way to achieve immortality is interesting, and I like the way it’s handled in this episode. It’s also a nice way to bring a dead character back without actually raising them from the dead. Langly’s still Langly, but the death of all of the Lone Gunmen still hurts. But this new conspiracy by Price and Mr. Y is just another example of what makes The X-Files so good. The idea that every time we use a cellphone, the government is uploading part of our brain is a remnant of Big Brother-era paranoia that X-Files takes to a whole new level. Not only is the government listening in on our calls, but they’re taking a part of us with them, too. Combining these big, conspiratorial ideas with the mundane grounds the show.
There are some logic jumps in this episode, however. I don’t buy Mulder and Scully not trusting Skinner. Maybe it’s just the way the scene in the parking garage played out, but I don’t think Mulder and Scully had enough evidence against Skinner to draw their weapons on him. And if Mulder and Scully are supposed to be on the run, the sense of urgency that should have been present, isn’t. After a shootout at Mulder’s house and subsequent escape into the woods, the two can just walk into an FBI building and gain access to an FBI computer, stopping for muffins along the way? The hush-hush from Skinner made it seem like the government was after Mulder and Scully, when really it was private contractors. Still, the order came from the executive branch. Odd.
Regardless, “This” is so much better than last week’s premiere. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are even more on point as Mulder and Scully that I had flashbacks to seasons two and three. Along with the conspiracy side of things, call backs to early seasons, and just an all around sense of fun, The X-Files is back.
- “We’re going to IKEA.”
- “Scully, you looked so adorbs.”
- “And the New England Patriots are here, and they never, ever win.” Langly’s right. That is heaven.
- “What’s after 28? 30.”
- The humor was classic X-Files. Mulder’s disgusted face after that one agent hit on Scully, quickly followed by a Hannibal expression. Mulder and Scully asleep on the couch at the beginning of the episode and at the end.