If you watched the debut of The X-Files six-episode miniseries on Sunday night, odds are you were disappointed and a little scared to go back and watch old episodes for fear of disrupting good memories that are best left that way. Hopefully you didn’t skip last night’s episode, though — it was a return to form with the same sort of zany horror that made the original run so great.
It wasn’t all good, though — the misfire on the new conspiracy theory arc introduced in the first episode, “My Struggle,” will be in the background of these middle four episodes, even though primarily they’re the same kind of one-off stories that made up the bulk of the show’s episodes in the first place. Monday night’s episode, “Founder’s Mutation,” let Mulder and Scully be Mulder and Scully, and that started bringing back all the right kind of memories. The tinges of humor and drama mixed in with the light horror were great to see after an initial episode that came off more like an explainer.
Of course, the first episode had more problems than just being too exposition-heavy. It’s really difficult to be topical without being cheesy — established series like CSI and South Park did/do it with aplomb because the showrunners now have years and years of experience making it work. Trying to shoehorn in data privacy concerns into the conspiracy mythology of the show felt forced, especially because where pop culture is concerned, the data privacy moment passed with Snowden — not that it’s no longer a concern, but it’s no longer a fresh idea to build a piece of entertainment around. The team might have just been too rusty to pull it off.
But, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny clearly still remember how to just be Mulder and Scully, and the more episodes that focus on them, the better. That’s what we’re all here for, anyway — the mythology can’t be totally ignored, but we’re really just out here for a little bit of ’90s nostalgia. We want to remember things as they were in those times — incidentally, when data privacy was, blissfully, not a concern.