Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The X-Files - S9:E2 "Nothing Important Happened Today II"

[ S9:E1 "Nothing Important Happened Today" <<< Season 9 >>> S9:E3 "Daemonicus" ]

Nothing important happened again today - including thinking of a unique title to use for the second half of this two-parter. Although we do finally learn the significance of said title - it's a neat story (unless it didn't really happen), but at this point, it's too little, too late (and a bit pretentious to boot). As far as I'm concerned, the quality of this episode is on par with the last one - it just continues on in the same vein, without getting better, and without introducing any new plot points that are actually exciting, or resolving in any kind of a satisfactory manner. As an opener to the ninth season, I honestly can't say that I'm very enthused about continuing forward (although I do maintain a thin hope that the freak-of-the-week episodes may be better by not being bogged down by the utterly uninteresting mythology).

Spoiler Warning: There, that's all you really need to know. But if you want to read a long list of gripes I have with this and the preceding episode - gripes that contain spoilers for the show's mythology - then read on.

Now, about that mythology. Apparently, the aliens are investigating new delivery mechanisms for their colonizing virus, and the idea they come upon in this two-parter is to poison the water supply. Which isn't very original (compared to the devilishly brilliant - who cares if it's convoluted? - bee system). I can't help thinking that the aliens are reaching for ideas here, and that they should be better than this. The slow burn, behind the scenes stuff ("a silent weapon for a quiet war") worked when the aliens had a deal with the Syndicate, but with them gone, I don't see why they don't just go all Independence Day already. At the very least, they could use some kind of advanced technology, instead of resorting to lame plans any half-assed criminal mastermind could come up with, and that can be foiled easily enough by two upstart agents at the FBI.

Also, the fact that instead of these alien-human hybrids - or just outright aliens - they're trying to turn the population into more of these Super Soldiers (albeit organic versions, I guess)...I don't know. The X-Files always felt different from other sci-fi shows. But lately it's been feeling more and more like a run-of-the-mill tech geek genre show. I guess maybe that's a symptom of losing much of what made The X-Files what it was - dropping Mulder, and turning Scully into a house mother - and bringing on an actor with a lot of baggage from a competing sci-fi/horror pop culture phenomenon (The Terminator). Regardless, it's lost a lot of its steam. Like, take all this talk of the FBI being involved in a conspiracy, and compare it to the web that Section Chief Blevins weaved in Gethsemane/Redux/Redux II. It was captivating (and believable) then. Now it just feels like unlikely actors playing out parts on a stage.

To be fair, I gotta say I like Cary Elwes. He was one of the great fairy tale heroes of my childhood. But - and not to type-cast him - he really doesn't seem right for a hard-headed Assistant Director at the FBI. That pretty face of his belongs on magazine covers, not sitting behind a desk trying to bury government conspiracies. And this episode has the nerve to try and make Kersh out to be a good guy? For that matter, when was the last time we saw Skinner sitting behind a desk? It's good that he's got more to do on the show now, but his character has changed, and he's lost a lot of what made him who he was. It all contributes to the feeling that this is not the same X-Files we used to watch. We were invested in Mulder and Scully's search for the truth. It meant something to put them in danger. Although I'd hate to see the X-Files project closed, it's hardly the same without Mulder or Scully working on it. And in spite of Robert Patrick's best efforts to endear himself to fans throughout the last season, we're just not invested in Doggett or especially Reyes enough to care whether they get fired or killed, or continue working cases for weeks to come.

Honestly, it's come to a point where I wouldn't feel much of a loss if the series was cancelled once and for all. I mean, even the mythology has lost steam. I'm completely uninterested in Scully's baby. I don't even see what the big deal about it being telekinetic is. We've seen tons of freaks on this show with incredible abilities, and not one of them was the messiah, or an indestructible alien drone, or whatever else we're supposed to be afraid that this baby might be. And while Mulder's abduction meant something last season, his re-disappearance here leaves me feeling apathetic at best, and annoyed at worst. I suppose he's gone into hiding(?), but it just reeks of the tail chasing the dog - dropping Mulder off the show and worrying about explaining it away later, leaving the audience frustrated with non-explanations in the meantime. There's a palpable feeling of the show's writers fumbling about trying to make sense out of David Duchovny's abandonment. And with all the key figures in the conspiracy gone (the Syndicate, Samantha, the Smoking Man, the Alien Bounty Hunter, the Black OilKrycek - I wonder if we'll ever see Marita Covarrubias again, not that she alone would be enough to regurgitate my interest), I just don't care anymore.

Memorable quotes:

Reyes: Can we cut the crap, Brad?
A.D. Brad (because calling him A.D. Brad instead of A.D. Follmer or A.D. Brad Follmer appropriately highlights the ridiculousness of his character): I don't know, can we? There's a lot of crap to cut through.

(Thank you. I didn't want to say it myself).

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