It’s been two weeks since New York Comic Con and there’s one moment more than any other I experienced that weekend that I still can’t shake. It’s a moment that rekindled a feeling I first experienced back in 1993. That feeling, a unique air of excitement, fear and intrigue led me and a room full of 3,000 true believers to remember; the truth is still out there.
This January, FOX is reopening The X-Files. I was among the few thousand people lucky enough to enjoy a first look at the return episode when it premiered at New York Comic Con. Unlike some convention showings, which tease only parts of a premiere, FOX came ready to share the entire hour-long episode with X-Files creator Chris Carter and actors David Duchovny and Mitch Pileggi in tow.
I’ll share a few details from the episode, but I’m not going to spoil or divulge anything too specific. To do so would be a disservice to the very nature of the show, where unraveling the mystery is all the fun. The X-Files is built upon the premise of government conspiracies, alien cover-ups and the idea that man has a perpetual desire for exploration, always searching for answers to the unknown. What makes the series compelling is not the answers or even the mysteries themselves, but the pursuit of those answers and the characters who do the pursuing.
Those characters are back in a big way, most importantly, FBI agents Mulder and Scully, and their boss Walter Skinner. Joel McHale (Community) also plays a major role in this first episode, making his X-Files debut as smug, conspiracy obsessed television host Tad O’Malley. Tad is the catalyst for bringing Mulder and Scully back together and driving them once more deep into the X-Files.
The opening of the episode serves fans new and old with a quick, albeit sufficient introduction to the series. The echo of Mark Snow’s X-Files theme soon follows over the familiar, unchanged opening credits fans know and love. Just one note was all it took for the entire room to go nuts. This was just one of the many moments of fan service throughout the episode.
Before long, viewers are thrust back into the world of government cover-ups and alien subplots. This first episode wastes no time in dropping its audience in the middle of a skillfully layered conspiracy. The X-Files was always part mystery of the week, part serialized drama, and it looks like the shows return will follow a similar format. As a longtime X-Files fan, I loved this first episode.
As much as The X-Files return is welcomed, it’s also very well-timed when you consider the post Edward Snowden America in which its characters now live. The series is coming back at a time when some of the themes explored during the shows heyday have become the new normal. Government surveillance, most notably drone technology, was an idea explored as a possible cause behind the UFO sightings during the shows original run. Now, drones make a regular appearance on the evening news.
When the panel was asked what prompted the series return, I leaned forward hoping to hear some great political stance against the surveillance of Americans by our own government. Chris Carter, an obvious proponent of the truth, gave a humorous, simple and honest answer; “I got a call from 20th Century Fox saying David was interested in doing it.”
At the end of the day it was refreshing to see that, for Duchovny, the show is as special as it is to the fans. This was the first time he and Mitch Pileggi had seen the premiere, and both said they loved it. They weren’t alone. Panel moderator Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), who hosts “The X-Files Files” podcast, was in awe of the whole thing. Duchovny poked fun, but the reality was that everyone in that room was in awe. The first two questions of the Q&A portion of the panel were followed with tears of joy from their askers.
As the panel began to wind down, one final question was shouted from the crowd; “Will the Lone Gunmen return?” The room erupted as Carter answered an affirmative, and this room of X-Files geeks, trending unusually old for the normal New York Comic Con crowd, left the hall knowing a little more truth than the rest.
The X-Files returns to FOX for a special six-episode event on Sunday, January 24th.