The X-Files: Season 10 Postmortem Thread
February 22, 2016 9:51 PM - Season 10 (Full Season) - Subscribe

As requested in a couple of threads for individual episodes, this thread is here so we can talk about the season as a whole.

So is everyone ready to say goodbye to X-Files for good or what??

Scuttlebutt so far is that ratings were so good that Fox is almost certain to try to renew for more episodes. Uuuugh why did we watch them
posted by town of cats (46 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ironically given the ratings Season 10 is a very good argument for not bringing the X-Files back.

Thing is, we had a pretty good argument a while back the X-Files could still work in the form of Fringe. So what went right there that went wrong here?

The biggest thing I think is Fringe wasn't hampered by being a nostalgia show. It didn't have obligations to drag out a stale mythology that's no longer relevant, it could make its own crazy myths instead. There were no dumb dangling plotlines about DNA babies it felt obligated to revisits. Instead of looking backwards it could move forwards and feel fresh, and in that freshness it could be like the original X-Files in a way this thing couldn't.

Also Carter can't write for shit anymore and Duchovny is a non-acting lump these days.
posted by Artw at 10:35 PM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I still haven't watched the finale but given the initial reactions I've seen I'm not sure I even want to.

But, I mean, there's literally zero chance I won't cave and watch it in the next 48 hours. I am such a chump for this stupid, stupid show. Fool me once, fool me twice...keep on fooling me, because apparently I keep on coming back to X-Files no matter how much I hated the previous season. Blah.

Artw, CC was never a strong writer (nor was DD much of an actor, come to it). I was actually looking back at his record trying to make an argument to myself that any season would have been crap if CC had written fully half of them and was surprised he did actually have a writer credit on something like 75 of the original series' 202 episodes. But he was often a cowriter, and I remember always sort of groaning when I saw he'd written one by himself. Especially if the cold open had "funny episode" music because CC's attempts at humor were pretty much always half-baked or unintentionally offensive.

Anyway. I liked 2/6 episodes of this season and I think most people I've talked to about it have liked the same ones or even fewer than that. Will people keep watching if there's a season 11? Or have we finally learned our lesson?

posted by town of cats at 11:06 PM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

I also haven't watched the finale and probably won't. I thought revisiting this show might be fun, even having mixed feelings about the original show for the second half of its run. But I thought, what the hell - it's been a long time, I like the leads, I like their relationship, let's see what six episodes can do. There can't be filler in six episodes, right? You'd have to have six really top-notch episodes, yeah?

I think production was rushed - the announcement it was happening was less than twelve months ago. Both lead actors were making other shows last year. They were leads in other shows. And while I love Wong & the Morgan brothers - my favourite writers of the original series - it's not like they've really continued to hone their craft over the past decade or so. And Carter never ever improved during the original series and what has he been doing since? Threatening more movies and then bring the show back.

I'd love to see this show run by someone else, but that is never going to happen. Carter needs this show more than his leads do. I'm sure Fox will throw millions their way - and try to offer Anderson less, again. But can a six episode series that costs a lot of money really be worth it for Fox in the long run? Isn't there a point at which, no matter the ratings, it becomes prohibitively expensive?

There was one good episode out of six and even that one was problematic and not really up there with Darin Morgan's best. I mean, he stole the idea from another show he once worked on - so that supports my theory this whole endeavour was pushed into production to fit David & Gillian's schedules. (Thank fuck that the Twin Peaks' revival is being given plenty of time - they've been writing it for years and it's not scheduled to air for another twelve months. I'm impatient, but at least I know they aren't rushing that.)

I won't be coming back. Fool me twice, Chris Carter. Never fool me again.
posted by crossoverman at 12:18 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I liked the were-lizard episode....
posted by FallowKing at 4:28 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

That finale was bad, and Chris Carter should feel bad.
posted by AndrewInDC at 4:38 AM on February 23, 2016 [11 favorites]

That finale last night was horrendous. I want that hour of my life back.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:39 AM on February 23, 2016

A few years back, I wrote the one and only fanfic I've ever written - it was an X-Files/Doctor Who crossover where The Doctor and Mulder meet as strangers in a bar in Georgetown, get totally drunk off their asses on a bottle of Glenfiddich and go on an adventure together. At the end, I flash forward about 20 years - to about, say, now - and have The Doctor pull some strings to get Mulder a job in UNIT. Mulder and Scully are still together, and she declines an invitation to join him because she's got a thriving medical practice; she gets Mulder a vintage SPACE: 1999 lunchbox off eBay as a present for his first day of work.

....I'm going to go find the alternate universe where Chris Carter filmed THAT instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:48 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. Season 10 suffered because it couldn't figure out how to deal with its own past.

On one hand, you had plenty of callbacks to previous, loved episodes. On the other, you had a rejection of what the main mythos plot was. There was too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

References don't mean anything if you ignore the context that made them worth referencing. All you get is Mulder trying to work in "The Musings of a..." line into an already convoluted speech. Seriously, Chris, you had our nostalgia all aflutter from the first bars on the opening theme. You don't have to do more than that. What you do have to do, though, is think about what made some of the old stuff so good. Where were the Herzogian "Oh shit, Nature is terrible" themes? The dread of the dark wood and the scare of the snapping branch - that stuff was core to the X Files. Werecreature touched on it, but in a Morganish "Eh. What are you gonna do?" way. How about the grim banality of evil? The bad guys used to be just a bunch of old dudes sitting around a table. Now the only surviving old dude is literally a smoke-breathing monster face.

I get why you'd want to reject the alien civil war/bounty hunters stuff of previous seasons, but in doing so you cast off a lot of mythology and simply did not have the time to rebuild it. Jeff from Community shows up, says "Everything you know is wrong and I have the internet show to prove it." and we're just supposed to be okay with that? "I've rattled a lot of cages!" No, Jeff, you have not. Smoking Man would have shot you if you rattled anything. The final episode had so many cast off references to what would have needed for the final plague-plot to work that it made you wonder why they didn't base some episodes around them. Chemtrails? Sure. Do it. Pandemics? Great! Go for it. False flag operations? Again, do that instead of a tired Them Muslims Is Comin'! retread.

The fault is Carter's. I don't know what devil's deal he made to get this series made, but he paid too much for it. This could have been a nice anthology, a Greatest Hits of talent and tying up a few loose threads. Heck, you could have used it as a vehicle to introduce Einstein and Blando for a reboot/retread series. That would have been fine. But again, trying to dance between the anthology and mythos without committing to either hurt everything.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:01 AM on February 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm someone else who regrets watching this season (ok, the were-lizard ep was fun, but the rest?). For the first time in my life I actually stopped watching last night; about halfway through I realized that I just could not bring myself to care, that I'd rather watch The Walking Dead if I want utterly dumb plots about global pandemics, and that Supergirl is at least always pleasant.

In short, I'm so sad that this season/revival was just a terrible waste of beloved characters and an insulting and lazy trade on fan nostalgia.
posted by TwoStride at 5:54 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Apparently I will watch anything with Gillian Anderson no matter how terrible it is so if there's a season 11 I will grit my teeth. But if it's just mini-Mulder and Scully Jr., forget it.

It says a lot about this season that my favorite episode is the one with rampant transphobia.
posted by desjardins at 7:58 AM on February 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

So is everyone ready to say goodbye to X-Files for good or what??

We got a clear demonstration that the formula still works, and that the Mulder-Scully chemistry stills works, with the original actors. We got an even clearer demonstration that Chris Carter is a fucking hack who has no business putting words on paper or telling stories or being involved in any kind of creative endeavour whatsoever.

The thing is, everybody knew during the first run of the X-Files that Carter was the show's weakest point. Yet somehow they put him at the helm of this revival anyway. It beggars belief.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:08 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Has there ever been a show that went off the air, came back years later, and produced something as good as the show before it was cancelled? Arrested Development didn't. Family Guy didn't. Futurama didn't. And now, The X-Files didn't.

I keep telling the people who won't stop asking for Firefly back to be careful what they wish for.

This was not a good season, and it has made me wonder if it's a particularly bad season of The X-Files, or if it was a normal season of a show whose conventions haven't aged well. Specifically, I'm thinking about all the times this season ended with Mulder and Scully having a conversation that clumsily summed up that episode's themes for the dimmer members of the audience. Was that always a thing? Was it always so ham-fisted and artless?
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:12 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Was it always so ham-fisted and artless?

(Some) TV has gotten better and smarter since the original series aired, and possibly, our expectations have changed along with that.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:36 AM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

I will make one small observation in favor of this current run - Gillian Anderson seems like she's been having a lot of fun revisiting things. Her Twitter feed is full of all sorts of shout-outs to Duchovny and Joel McHale and other folks involved, and she's also had a good laugh over some of the old press photos and other things from the old series (in this tweet, she assembled a series of pictures of Scully in different pantsuits and called it "A rainbow of 'what were we thinking'!")

It kind of feels like someone who went through high school feeling like they were an out of place dork and then moved out of town and grew up some, and now it's years later and they're at the 20-year reunion and you've got them in a corner with the high school yearbook and they're laughing at the goofy pictures and they're thinking "aw, maybe it wasn't that bad."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2016 [11 favorites]

Was it always so ham-fisted and artless?

The Chris Carter episodes were, generally, apart from the pilot and a couple of the very, very early mythology episodes. Most of the rest trended towards being very enjoyable and solid, if occasionally a bit campy, television. And the best class X-Files episodes are definitely up there with the best episodes of television, ever. The FPP with the ranked list is a good starting point. It's got something like 150 entries, and you need to drop down into the 100s before you get anything nearly as bad as what the new season dropped on us.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:26 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

There were several problems trying to update the mythos:
1 - The ubiquitous presence of phone cameras and YouTube.
2 - Popular non-supernatural conspiracies are much more political now.
2a - Many of the mythos' non-supernatural conspiracies have since been embraced by the right wing.
3 - Instead of existing mostly on the fringes, supernatural conspiracies have gone prime time with shows on History, Discovery, Travel and NGeo channels.
4 - The old mythos was such an unbridled mess.

The new series dealt with these problems in some very uncreative and outright hateful ways. For #1, they made it so that it was the government all along. This fed into #2 - "For more information on the X-Files Mythos, go to" #3 was ignored and #4 was made even worse.

It could have been sooo much better. Hell, have them deal with real life versions of the infinite amount of crazy you find on YouTube. "Hey, Mulder! I wanna look into these killer garden gnomes!" "Until they commit a crime in the U.S. it's out of our jurisdiction, Scully." And have the actual Mythos just be one giant Jose Chung type thing where instead of the conspiracy being an onion with a center it's an ouroboros eternally eating itself.
posted by charred husk at 10:55 AM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Why the hell did Joel McHale agree to take that role? Did he owe Chris Carter money or something?

I made it through the finale, but I kept pausing it to see how many more minutes I had to sit through. I don't think I've ever done that before. Yee-ikes.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:27 AM on February 23, 2016

At least I know now that people disliked Carter during the original run, because back in the 90s, I had no forum to bitch about him, so I figured that maybe I was the only one in the world who hated his episodes.

He's really like George Lucas. He had this great idea once. And then he proceeded to drive it into the ground. What I'm saying is, can JJ Abrams take it over now?
posted by crossoverman at 11:38 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Why the hell did Joel McHale agree to take that role? Did he owe Chris Carter money or something?

"Hey, Joel, want to be on the X-Files?"


I mean, as pissed off as I am at Chris Carter right now, I'd sure as hell jump at the chance to be on the show.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

"Hey Charred Husk, wanna be in the X-Files?"


"Great. In this scene you'll be waterboarding a Muslim vaccinologist..."

posted by charred husk at 12:14 PM on February 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

I mostly feel sorry for Kumail Nanjiani.

"Hey Kumail, wanna be on The X-Fi --"
"Okay, but on the next episode there are Muslim terrorists."
*Kumail tweets his disappointment forever*
posted by crossoverman at 3:08 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Has there ever been a show that went off the air, came back years later, and produced something as good as the show before it

I remember watching some kind of sci-fi show once. A big spaceship and stuff, cruising around the galaxy. It had a rocky three-year run, was cancelled, then came back years and years later, revamped, and turned out really good. The name of the show escapes me...
posted by Thorzdad at 3:32 PM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Battlestar Galactica?
posted by Artw at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Of course I'll watch. I'll hate the mytharc stuff worse than ever but Mulder/Scully still works and given more time we might actually get some really good non-CC episodes. Worth it. Now take either David or Gillian out of the equation and I will not watch an episode.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 7:05 PM on February 23, 2016

  1. My Struggle - decent
  2. Founder's Mutation - excellent
  3. Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster - excellent
  4. Home Again - middling
  5. Babylon - poor
  6. My Struggle II - mostly fine, except even expecting to get CHRIS CARTERed I did not expect to be CHRIS CARTERed so hard, having expected that at least the episode would have an ending.

posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:48 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Home Again does okay pretty much entirely by comparison. It's basically half an episode of "what if... Banksy?" and half boring family plot with added DNA baby woo, and barely comes together at the end - in the series proper it would have come in at the low end of the scale.
posted by Artw at 7:54 PM on February 23, 2016

I don't regret the six hours spent watching this, but I could have lived without it. Particularly with the bullshit ending, and I was like "wtf" when the credits started to roll out until I remembered "Chris Carter", then I was "oh, right".
posted by lmfsilva at 2:10 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is probably going to end up being broken up into multiple posts...

If this was Carter trying to make a prestige show out of X-Files, he failed miserably. You can't just up the special effects and/or lighting budget. More significant structural updates were needed. There can be standalone episodes, but there has to be more tying it all together. This just felt too "old TV," to the point that Fox was actually able to change the running order.

I don't think I could ever support a franchise being "taken away" from its creator. That said, Carter's writing doesn't seem to be the best of the X-Files. I do like him as a director, though. He takes some interesting chances.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:57 AM on February 24, 2016

But, I mean, there's literally zero chance I won't cave and watch it in the next 48 hours. I am such a chump for this stupid, stupid show.

This was me for Doctor Who, until I finally just had enough of how terrible it is and stopped watching. For those who wish to stop watching the new X-Files, watching the finale will probably help tremendously just like reading through FanFare threads on the lastest Doctor Who episodes helps to confirm that it continues to be absolutely terrible.

The Battlestar Galactica reboot was indeed much better than the original, until about half way through, when it became so terrible (and mirrored the original X-Files in terms of decline during the later seasons) that I cannot recommend it at all in good conscience.

It's as if mainstream producers and writers have seen the advent of specutacular television (The Wire, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Life on Mars, Mad Men, Better Call Saul, Fargo, etc.) and responded by making spectularly terrible shows. The days of Fox shows having any sort of divorce from the overlords who run the corporation are probably long gone.

I don't think I could ever support a franchise being "taken away" from its creator.

It worked for Deep Space Nine, though of course Roddenberry had passed away. Next Generation got a lot better once Roddenberry was gone. The same could be true for the X-Files.
posted by juiceCake at 8:02 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

It worked for Deep Space Nine, though of course Roddenberry had passed away.

I'm not saying it can't lead to an improvement. (see also Stan Lee, George Lucas.) But I'm not going to stump for someone to give up their creation because the fans feel entitled to some particular version of it.

I think the creator of something like this deserves a little more respect than that. I also tend to prefer messy, personal visions over glossy, commercial ones, but that's a matter of taste.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:13 AM on February 24, 2016

Episodes five and six were so poor I really had to evaluate my commitment to this series. Two and three were great and I had hoped that the mini-series had hit its groove. Instead we tumbled into an abyss. I got a text from a cousin after six aired stating that she was going to have to binge season two of Fringe just to get the taint of this experiment off of her. I might do that as well.

In the later seasons (and just about any Carter-penned episodes) when the "I made this" voice came on after the credits, either my wife or I would say "and you should be ashamed. After episode six we practically screamed it.
posted by Ber at 9:06 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

It was just like a microcosm of a real full season of the x-files! That is, 1/3 crap, 1/3 meh, 1/3 pretty cool! And that's almost a formula that can be applied to the separate episodes in and of themselves!

I mean, I can't go all Carter is as bad as Lucas, because, IMO, he ain't. And honestly, the fact that they kept the opening credits exactly the same gave them a hedge (in that if they had changed that, I probably woulda been all I hate this/kill it with fire) - and you know that was all about Carter.

But, as I've said before, I like even bad x-files better than no x-files, so if they do another season, I'll watch it. I watched all six of these, and I can't say it put me off my feed. It's a loop, because it just reminds me to go back and watch good ones on netflix. So?

Things I Liked:
• Immortal Scully
• Scruffy Mulder
• Bearded Skinner
• Phantom of the Opera Smoking Man

Things I Didn't Like:
• Lame use of Lone Gunmen
• Tone-deaf use of stereotypes
• That guy from Community (and I like him!)
• Not enough Krycek
• Total and complete lack of cohesion with the prior mythos

If they do move forward with another series, I'd double the run (12 episodes) and I'd throw a shitload of money at Gilligan to write a double episode. And I'd only let Carter write 2 of the twelve. With those odds, we'd get a 50-50 split on shit vs. pretty cool, kinda like seasons 3 and 4.
posted by valkane at 11:49 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Can we talk about Krycek and the Lone Gunmen? Arguably four of the most popular characters after Mulder, Scully, and Skinner, and yet all we get is a tease. Yes, I know, they're dead. But this is the goddamn X-Files. If CSM can rise like a phoenix, they sure could have come up with something hand-wavy for these four. Or just use the comic book explanation for the Gunmen.
posted by Ber at 12:51 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

That the Lone Gunmen were not made alive again is a good thing. If only they had kept that sort of legitimacy in the writing it might have been much better. If the Lone Gunmen had been in the Who Universe their deaths would have been reversed instantly.

I'm not really seeing the anti-vax thing people are seeing. I understand using a vaccine as a diabolical delivery method would fit right in with the anti-vax bullshit crowd but if we changed any art form to avoid possibly, but not really confirming what some unreasonable (being generous) people believe, that would be sad, but at no point in the episode was it implied that the vaccine's "advertised" purpose was not something that worked.
posted by juiceCake at 3:17 PM on February 24, 2016

I got a text from a cousin after six aired stating that she was going to have to binge season two of Fringe just to get the taint of this experiment off of her. I might do that as well.

I keep thinking it's going to take the entire fourth season of The Americans (due to begin airing next month - yaaaaaaay!) to help me recover from the bad taste and disappointment of this mini-season of The X-Files.
posted by orange swan at 3:26 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

If everyone already had the bad DNA (? whatever) from the smallpox vaccine, then how do the africanized honeybees from the first movie fit in? Ugh I don't know why I am even bothering. This is so much worse than Lost.
posted by gatorae at 7:03 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Gilligan is busy moving forwards, it wouldn't profit him much to go back.
posted by Artw at 8:17 PM on February 24, 2016

I watched this after binging on the double episode of Agent Carter, so I was constantly comparing the two series.

AC has a tight story (basically just the one) over 10 episodes, and it never sags, so much so they even included a dance number, which moved the plot forward, and it made me car about some characters (Mrs Jarvis) even though they had less screen time than Samberley and Rose.

X-Files meandered over six largely pointless episodes, I cared less and less about Mulder and Scully, and by the end I couldn't figure out why anyone was doing any thing (Reyes, working for CSM? Does that even make sense?).

It's almost as if it was a placeholder for X-Files, and not actually The X-Files.

It was an event series. They should have basically followed a single strand from A to Z through all six episodes (sure, aliens, why not?), which would allow them to see different locations (maybe they need help from the FBI, maybe Mulder's been framed for murder again and Scully is trying to save him, and they're on the run, whatever).

Hell, Founder's Mutation had enough fodder alone.

But, no, we have to reset everyone back 10 years and... cram in every last possible reference.


Yeah, I'm going to need to be convinced to watch S11.
posted by Mezentian at 11:25 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I haven't liked a single episode since the first one, and I guess my reaction to that was more nostalgia and imagined potential than I cared to admit at the time. Oh well, I was never a huge X-Files fan so I won't lose any sleep if it doesn't come back or new stuff isn't very good. Sorry to you big fans, wish it could have been better. I know this disappointment when it comes to other shows.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:10 PM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

The finale has just aired here in the UK. And the reaction is - why did the x-files just blatantly steal the main plot line from Utopia (and did a much worse job of it)? Three of many tweets [1] [2] [3].

If you haven't seen Utopia, then it's worth it. Only two series, as it then got cancelled (the awful scheduling and the extreme violence may not have helped the viewing figures). Much missed. And a heck of a lot better quality than this Chris Carter disappointment.
posted by Wordshore at 3:19 PM on March 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Only two series, as it then got cancelled (the awful scheduling and the extreme violence may not have helped the viewing figures)

Which they were going to remake for the US, and it was cancelled.
Utopia was perfect, and needed just a few more episodes.
posted by Mezentian at 2:49 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Utopia did the paranoid conspiracy mashup thing so much better.
posted by Artw at 7:53 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Welp, it's official - there will be a season 11.

And dammit, I admit it - I'll try to watch.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:43 PM on April 20, 2017

I'm a big defender of the last several seasons of The X-Files, but I can't defend this one. Even season 9 was much better than this. There were good moments, but not enough of them, and even when the ointment was at its best there was always a fly in it.
posted by orange swan at 6:06 PM on October 13, 2020

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