When “The X-Files” first aired in 1993, critics insisted that it would not last more than one season. Now, over two decades, 11 seasons and two feature films later, “The X-Files” is considered by many to be one of the most popular and successful television shows of all time.
Overall, however, the 11th season is a flop.
All of the chemistry between Mulder—played by David Duchovny—and Scully—played by Gillian Anderson—is gone; their interactions are forced and uncomfortable. The dialogue between the two leads is particularly overdone, especially when it pertains to their relationship.
The mythology represented in season 11 relies heavily on a mediocre plot line that had been introduced during season eight: the search for William, Mulder and Scully’s son. William is put up for adoption in order to protect him from the deep state agencies who want to kill Mulder and Scully. William’s story is a plot-line that refuses to wrap itself up—a good portion of season 10 is also dedicated to the question of William’s lingering telepathic connection to his mother.
Scully’s focus on her long-lost child this season makes her almost unrecognizable as a character. Even Anderson’s brilliant acting cannot distract from the horrendously lazy writing that turned episode into a melodramatic soap opera.
Additionally, Mulder and Scully have almost no lighthearted scenes together. The oppressive doom and gloom atmosphere makes each episode feel much longer than the standard primetime slot of 45 minutes.
One of the worst aspects of this season is the portrayal of FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, Mulder and Scully’s superior who is played by Mitch Pileggi. Longtime fan-favorite character, as a villain rather than the ally he had previously been.
This season also relies heavily on blood and shocking violence, giving the show an unwelcome, slasher-flick feel. Moreover, every episode feels inauthentic.
Episode seven, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” is an unnecessary rip off of “Black Mirror.” Mulder and Scully find themselves seemingly isolated in a fully automated world of robot-staffed sushi restaurants and self-driving taxis, which proceed to stalk the FBI duo because Mulder neglects to tip the sushi robots.
Episode eight is a desperate attempt to piggyback on the success of the recent adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. A creepy children’s show character lures a little boy in a yellow slicker to his gruesome death in a foggy, damp forest.
In fact, out of the 10 episodes that made up this season, only one was actually enjoyable.
Episode four, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” isn’t just good, it is fantastic. In the midst of nine other hit or miss episodes, this is the only time it feels like the original show has returned. The dialogue is perfect; Mulder and Scully recapture their old chemistry and the quirky plot line centering on the Mandela Effect, a conspiracy theory linking false memories to alternate realities, was a stroke of comedic genius.
Mulder and Scully deserve an entire season as perfect as the fourth episode. Mulder and Scully deserve better.