Jan 25, 2016

Sci Fi Tease

I just saw 'My Struggle', the first episode of the 2016 X-Files miniseries. This show is an exercise in zombie television program (The X-Files) re-animation by Chris Carter, bringing a television program from the 1990s back to life.

Low budget warning:
rubber monster suit sighting.
alien, mutant human or false memory?
In, my previous blog post, written before the start of this 6-episode X-files event, I wondered if Carter would ever move beyond his endlessly repetitive alien conspiracy game and actually create a viable science fiction plot thread for his "X-Files mythology". After episode 1, the answer appears to "no".

Skinner and Mulder face off
Carter did double down on the conspiracy mongering, subjecting viewers to the "charms" of a professional conspiracy monger, Tad O’Malley, who makes his living by asserting that everything happening on Earth since the dawn of the thermo-nuclear age is part of a super-secret conspiracy of human "elites" who are using alien technology to take over the world.

At the end of the episode, the death-defying CSM tells us that the FBI's X-Files investigative unit has been re-activated. By who? Why? Presumably because A.D. Skinner decides to re-start the X-Files, but we are not told why he does so. Oh, right: $$$. And ego. And because we fans asked for it. Until that moment, I had some hope that Chris Carter might take us in a new direction: Scully and Mulder could have returned to paranormal sleuthing without re-activating as FBI agents.

the new 'deep throat'
We've also been equipped with a new "deep throat", a medical doctor who long ago performed tests on a mysterious dead creature. His role is to endlessly tease Mulder (by endlessly saying: 'the truth is out there') in the manner that we saw for years in the original series.

Going into this episode, I had hopes that Sveta might be a Scully analogue for an X-Files: The Next Generation reboot, but it is not clear if she survived the big bang when her car was exploded at the end of episode 1. Worse, she was given no real backstory, so I suspect she was a disposable character who we will never see again. At first, Sveta tells Scully that she has "alien DNA", but that is Tad's idea. Later she she says that it is humans who have been experimenting on her.

Sveta's scars
We poor viewers don't know if Sveta knows about alien DNA because of her telepathic powers or if someone told her to say "alien DNA" as part of a cover story for some hidden conspiracy that might not involve aliens at all.

Will we ever know? Chris Carter would be defeating his own purpose if he ever allowed viewers of The X-Files to understand what is "really going on" with the mythology of the show. As a science fiction fan, I have to try to fit all the hints and false leads into a pattern.

Alien DNA
Is there a possible (no, it need not make sense) science fiction plot here? We are told that Scully sequenced Sveta's DNA (as well as her own DNA) and (based on her behavior) it appears that genome analysis revealed something interesting. Of course, since this is Chris Carter's endless Sci Fi Tease, we are told nothing useful. If there is a plot here, then we have been led to assume that it goes something like this:

1) mythology 1.0: soon after thermonuclear fusion bombs were first detonated by humans in the 1950s, aliens became concerned about human survival and so they became more active on Earth. Humans obtained alien genetic material and advanced technology.

Mulder gets to touch a disappearing 'warp-drive' craft
1.5) mythology 1.5: Secret human "elites" have had access to advanced technology for a long time. Since the 1940s, the "human elites" of Earth find it convenient to use aliens as a cover story whenever their secret activities are revealed (mythology 1.0, above, is just a fake).

2) The "human elites" of Earth have long bred humans and some people have distinct DNA patterns and phenotypes (paranormal abilities). While continuing to develop their secretly-held advanced technologies the "human elites" began a decades-long conspiracy to make use of these paranormal capacities and their advanced technologies to 'take control of the planet', or something. Tune in next week.

Is Sveta abducted or killed?
Will we ever know?
3) Sveta and William are examples of humans with "special DNA" who have paranormal abilities. Can we ever be allowed more than just a glimpse of paranormal abilities before the Men In Black arrive to hide the evidence and erase our memories?

ununpixie dust
Of course, in this scenario, we must also accept the fact that the "super-secret elites" have control of advanced technologies that allow them to erase anyone who gets in their way. Or, at least, erase/jumble their memories.

Mulder: the perfect dupe
The real mystery is why everyone who penetrates the conspiracy of the "super-secret elites" gets erased except our hero, Fox Mulder. Clues come from folks like Sveta and the mysterious dudes who show Mulder the ARV... they all get erased soon after meeting Mulder. The obvious conclusion is that Mulder is used by the CSM to attract folks who might blow the cover off of the great conspiracy. Once they show themselves, then the Men In Black arrive and eliminate sources of leaked information about the conspiracy. Mulder is flypaper.

Chris Carter's Sci Fi Tease
The only real answer to these mysteries is that The X-Files exists as a way to indulge Chris Carter's obsession with subjecting television audiences to endless con$piracie$ that include space aliens and paranormal mysteries. Other folks in Hollywood simply go in other directions, for example, milking the endless human fascination with $ex.

After all these years, Carter's science fiction tease is old and tired. I fear that he is a one trick pony. When Scully could have said something (anything!) about her genome sequencing results, something that would have advanced us from Sci Fi Tease towards Science Fiction, she just stood there. We got nothing. Apparently, Chris Carter has nothing to offer to science fiction fans.

Mulder and Scully: Mission Impossible
Okay, so if we accept that Mulder and Scully are just puppets of the super-secret elite that is taking over the world, then why should we bother to tune in and watch? Given a couple of fun protagonists who look good on screen together, millions of people can switch off their brains and enjoy the banter of the characters. If there is fun and adventure along the way, you don't really ever need to win or even advance your cause from week to week.

Was there any fun in 'My Struggle'? Did Mulder and Scully look good together? They struck me as a brittle and testy divorced couple who could endlessly trade barbed and snide comments while being unable to move on. I guess we are supposed to believe that if they are thrown back into working together than all their troubles will fade away in the glare of the battle to be fought.

Maybe, but why bother? Duchovny and Anderson are not going to be available endlessly. If enough people watch the 2016 mini-series then will Fox finance a season 11 with a new generation of protagonists?

If Scully transforms into an alien then Chris Carter will not have to work around Gillian Anderson's busy schedule. In "season 11" he can have an extra play the role of alien Scully in a rubber suit, or just go the CGI route.

Next: If the whole "alien" shtick only a "cover story" then what is the truth?

Related reading: the mathematics of conspiracy

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