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The X-Files: Season 10 (IDW) #21-25 – Elders (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the more disappointing aspects of The X-Files: Season 10 and The X-Files: Season 11 is that it does very little to adapt the mythology to the twenty-first century.

The X-Files is very much a show rooted in the political and cultural context of the nineties. Everything about the show’s first seven seasons reflects the Clinton era, with the series perfectly capturing the zeitgeist in the weird lacuna between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the destruction of the World Trade Centre. At its peak, the show touched on underlying anxieties that are social, political and existential; it asked tough questions about identity in the final days of the twentieth century. As much as Friends or The Simpsons, The X-Files embodied the nineties.

The son becomes the father... And the pseudo-son...

The son becomes the father…
And the pseudo-son…

As such, any revival of The X-Files must face questions of relevance. The X-Files so perfectly captured the spirit of the nineties that removing the series from that context runs the risk of severely damaging it. What makes now such a perfect time for The X-Files? What does The X-Files have to say about contemporary culture? How will the show be tweaked for modern audiences and sensibilities? These are not trivial questions. Any X-Files revival should be more than just a nostalgic “victory lap.”

This question of relevance faced the revival miniseries, but it also faced The X-Files: Season 10. What does The X-Files mean in the modern world? Harris had broached the question in a number of different ways, perhaps most skilfully in his approach to the classic “small town horror stories” that populated the show’s nine-season run. Whereas those stories tended to touch upon themes of globalisation and the erosion of so-called eccentric spaces, Harris used stories like Chitter and Immaculate to explore a growing cultural divide in twenty-first century America.

Cuba libre...

Cuba libre…

However, The X-Files: Season 10 does not work quite as well when it comes to updating the mythology for the twenty-first century. A lot of this is down to the strong nostalgic pull of the nineties mythology. Harris employs a lot of the same elements that were in play while the show was on the air; the same characters, the same dynamics, the same story beats. There were occasional nods towards the changing geopolitical realities, such as the use of black-oil-as-oil in Pilgrims. However, the revived mythology never engaged with the twenty-first century as well as it might.

Effectively serving as the season “finale”, Elders makes the strongest play for relevance yet. It consciously references and evokes the imagery of the War on Terror in its exploration of Gibson Praise’s revived conspiracy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work.

Cross to bear...

Cross to bear…

It is worth reflecting for a moment in the world as it is today, particularly in relation to the politics of paranoia. Information is increasingly a global commodity, and the abuse and exploitation of that information is a cause of great unease to many people. Just as The X-Files: Season 10 was hitting newsstands, it was revealed that the United States’ intelligence organisations had cultivated a culture of surveillance beyond the wildest paranoiac dreams. No matter how concerned people were about the government spying on them, they weren’t paranoid enough.

In June 2013, it was revealed that the National Security Agency was collecting the call records of millions of Verizon users on a daily basis. In August 2013, it was revealed that the NSA had access to every email being sent into (or out of) the United States. In October 2013, it was revealed that the NSA had bugged the phones of over thirty-five world leaders. In December 2013, it was revealed that the NSA was actively intercepting shipments of laptops to install spy malware on them.

Info wars.

Info wars.

Ironically, during the show’s anniversary year, it seemed like The X-Files was more relevant than ever. The spying on Mulder and Scully in episodes like E.B.E. and Gethsemane seemed positively benign compared to the more intrusive methods employed in the twenty-first century. If anything, it seemed like Trust No 1 had been ahead of the curve in voicing its anxieties about post 9/11 surveillance culture. Even Mulder was not paranoid that he could remain one step ahead of this particular government.

However, the parallels are even more striking. Much of this surveillance culture and these abuses of power were revealed by the leaking of classified government information into the public domain. In 2010, Julian Assange published 90,000 records of United States military operations in Afghanistan via Wikileaks. In 2011, Private First Class Bradley (later Chelsea) Manning stood trial for the leak. In 2013 Edward Snowden exposed a lot of the NSA’s dirty laundry to the press.

Chained together.

Chained together.

In a way, Mulder’s dogged pursuit of “the truth” seemed more relevant than ever. For nine years, Mulder and Scully had explored a sinister conspiracy against the American people orchestrated by those in power. The mythology at the heart of The X-Files seems more relevant than ever. In the twenty-first century, it seemed like “the truth” was the best possible defense against an insidious and exploitative surveillance culture that was complicit in horrific violations of privacy and various other crimes. A twenty-first century mythology writes itself.

There is just one problem. The X-Files was never entire sure what to do with “the truth.” Mulder might have pursued the conspiracy, but the show was never entirely sure what he would do if he caught it. Indeed, this becomes something of an issue in the sixth season, following the events of Two Fathers and One Son. The conspiracy was destroyed by the faceless rebels, but what did Mulder do? Did he expose their secrets to the world? Did he reveal the details of the atrocities committed by such men to the public? Did the truth see the light of day?

Frozen in time.

Frozen in time.

The series seemed rather ambivalent on the matter. Certainly, it never seemed like the conspiracy against the human race ever saw the light of day. That sort of revelation would certainly have damaged the show’s verisimilitude. Biogenesis hints at the challenge facing the show in wrapping up the mythology without affording Mulder the chance to expose this secret history. Certainly, The Truth hinges on the idea that Mulder has yet to have his day in the court of public opinion and that he is itching to expose this conspiracy to the world at large. So why doesn’t he?

In some ways, that is the detail that holds The X-Files back at the cusp of the twenty-first century. The show hints at this alternate history of abuse and manipulation simmering beneath the conventional narrative of the twentieth century, but never exposed to the light of day. In contrast, the twenty-first century has moved beyond that to the point where these secrets and lies are exposed to the public via high-profile and well-regarded newspapers. The abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan are not secrets. The surveillance culture of the NSA is not buried.

"No. But we can offer some irony."

“No. But we can offer some irony.”

All of this serves to make Fox Mulder seem curiously outdated. Mulder and Scully might never have been able to hold on to an alien fetus or conclusive undeniable proof of an alien conspiracy. However, they had enough that Mulder could conceivable be sharing that information with the public. Shouldn’t Mulder be shouting this from the rooftops? He would undoubtedly seem crazy, but Mulder has never been too concerned with being considered crazy. Mulder’s defining attribute is his willingness to leap before looking.

This hints at a central tension of The X-Files. Unlike Carl Kolchak, Fox Mulder is a government employee. So it seems strange that so much is leaked to Mulder from figures like Deep Throat and Mister X rather than from Mulder to reporters. As a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mulder is at least partially implicated in any government conspiracy, but any attempt to leak or expose that conspiracy would have the effect of rendering Mulder a traitor to his country and make the character a much more controversial protagonist.

Turns out Mulder was the FBI's most wanted, in the end.

Turns out Mulder was the FBI’s most wanted, in the end.

This is the challenge facing Fox Mulder in the era of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Snowden and Assange are complicated figures, and the morality of their actions is subject to debate and discussion. Certainly, it seems fair to suggest that Scully might have some legitimate qualms about what Snowden and Assange are doing, and what that actually accomplishes. However, given the portrayal of Mulder’s character, it is very hard to believe that Mulder wouldn’t be excited by (and engaged with) that movement.

Any modern adaptation faces the challenge of how Mulder would adapt to that world. The revival series manages in its own way, with My Struggle I suggesting Mulder’s own battles with depression have left him unable to do anything except tape up the camera on his laptop and My Struggle II having the show’s mythology break out of the shadow with a biblical plague and a very public UFO sighting. With Elders, Joe Harris finally offers his own take on that particular piece of twenty-first century politics by turning Mulder into Edward Snowden.

Executive decision.

Executive decision.

There is just one problem with this storytelling decision. It feels like a massive cop out. Indeed, as Harris has summarised the twist in interviews, it seems almost reactionary:

Mulder has been set up. Some questionable choices he made at the beginning of his career are dredged up to discredit him in the age of WikiLeaks and FOIA daylight requests. Secrets are much harder to keep in the era of Edward Snowden and an unbound NSA and other international spying programs.

There is a wry irony in the suggestion that Mulder has been undone by the very transparency that he long championed, and that he has been falsely accused of being a “secrets stealer” in the style of Edward Snowden. However, it also feels ill-judged.

Going it a-Lone.

Going it a-Lone.

There is something quite wrong-headed in the way that Joe Harris plays this out, quite similar to the awkwardness of turning the Lone Gunmen into federal contractors in Believers. The campaign to smear Mulder as a “secrets stealer” works because it is credible, but Elders seems almost paranoid about the very idea of government transparency. The use of Freedom of Information Requests to humiliate Mulder by drudging up his past is a clever twist, but the comic never seems explore the actual implications.

After all, framing Mulder for leaking government information only raises the question of why Mulder has never leaked government information. Sure, Mulder swore an oath to protect his office and the government, but Mulder has hardly been a boy scout. In episodes like F. Emasculata, it seemed like The X-Files was wary of the concept of actually sharing the truth and seemed to accept that some secrets need to be kept, but nine years of government conspiracies invite the reader to wonder why Mulder never even seemed to consider leaking what he knew.

Parting shots.

Parting shots.

Then again, this opens a whole can of worms. In the real world, publicising conspiracy theories about government-sanctioned vaccinations is incredibly reckless and dangerous because those vaccinations actually save lives. However, in the world of The X-Files, it is a matter of record that those vaccinations are part of a sinister plot against the American population. In the real world, 9/11 truthers are a dangerous fringe group. In the world of The Lone Gunmen, they’d probably be right. Tying Mulder to Snowden raises these issues as well.

These are tough challenges for The X-Files to face, but they represent a necessary part of any attempt to bring the series into the twenty-first century. It is interesting to wonder whether these sorts of uncomfortable questions were part of the motivation for disentangling so much of the classic mythology in My Struggle I, even beyond the obvious appeal of having a (relatively) blank slate for new or casual viewers. The X-Files: Season 10 embraced the mythology rather than resetting it, meaning that all of these issues hang over the series.

Nice touch: the opening monologue from Jose Chung's "Doomday Defense" is included in Gibson's info stream.

Nice touch: the opening monologue from Jose Chung’s “Doomday Defense” is included in Gibson’s info stream.

While Harris struggles a bit with the challenge of adapting The X-Files for the WikiLeaks era, he makes a number of small and well-observed nods. In particular, Harris seems to understand that corporate conspiracy is just as important in the twenty-first century as government conspiracy:

In this new “Citizens United” age, where unlimited amounts of so-called dark money anonymously pulls the levels of politics and policy, determining elections and full-tilt lobbying at the scales of representation, the X-Files almost feel quaint. On the one hand, there’s never been so much daylight with so few shadows for secrets to hide. While, on the other, the government has never been so bought and paid for. If the alien colonists only knew how K Street lobbying firms worked, they’d have succeeded in enslaving the Earth years ago!

In many ways, this is a very timely theme for the series. After all, the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan brought to light the sheer scale of private industry’s involvement and influence in modern politics. The entanglements between the Bush administration and those industries was shocking.

Lighten up.

Lighten up.

Harris is not the first writer to realise the potential of this particular storytelling angle. When veteran X-Files producer Frank Spotnitz agreed to write a mythology story for Wildstorm in 2008, he made a conscious effort to build off the mention of private contractors in Redux I and Redux II. When it came to bringing The X-Files into the twenty-first century, it was crucial to understand that states were not the only actors capable of that sort of large-scale manipulation and corruption.

To be fair, Harris seeded this idea as early as Believers. Late in that arc, the Lone Gunmen discover that a massive magnetite pipeline is built and maintained by private contractors inside Yellowstone. However, as with a lot of the plot threads suggested in Believers, that angle was quickly dropped when it became clear that Harris would have to revise his original plans for the comic book mythology. It seems like a lot The X-Files: Season 10 was spent trying to recover from the fact that so much was taken off the table so early in the creative process.

"Wow, you must really have cut a deal on storage space down here, huh?"

“Wow, you must really have cut a deal on storage space down here, huh?”

However, Elders brings some of these ideas back into play with the revelation that Gibson Praise conducts most of his business through a private contractor named Cantus. As an aside, “Cantus” handily translates as the Latin for “sing.” Given that Gibson is using the organisation to restore contact with the colonists, it seems like a wry acknowledgement of the role that music played in making contact with the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Given the influence of that film on The X-Files, it is an organic reference.

Towards the climax of Elders, it is suggested that the FBI is rendered as a slave to these corporate interests. “They’re outsourcing the X-files division?” Skinner challenges Morales. Morales responds, “This is the twenty-first century, Deputy Director. That which is not put away neat and tidy is streamlined by outside agencies with a profit motive.” There is a sense that private interests trump public good. It is a fascinating and bold angle for The X-Files: Season 11, even if Harris doesn’t necessarily follow the idea to its logical conclusion.

Old news.

Old news.

Harris does manage to work in a few more contemporary references. When Scully confronts Gibson Praise, she discovers that he has made his home in Guantanamo Bay. It is a nice revelation on a number of levels. Most superficially, it is quite clever to have Mulder and Scully visit “Camp X-Ray” in the same way that it was clever to change the digits on the government strain of marijuana featured in G-23 to point to the letter “X” instead of “M.” It is cheesy, but a little bit of self-awareness goes a long way.

More than that, though, it also lends a nice bit of symmetry to the established mythology. The X-Files is a show that is very much rooted in the gulf that exists between the sixties and the seventies, between the idealism associated with the Kennedy era and the cynicism of the Nixon presidency. Part of that is undoubtedly tied to the Cold War in general and the Bay of Pigs in particular, the disastrous intervention authorised by Kennedy into Cuba and the source of fervent conspiracy theorising.

"Camp X-Ray, geddit? I mean, if we're going to do a comic book, we might as well have a comic book villain, right?"

“Camp X-Ray, geddit? I mean, if we’re going to do a comic book, we might as well have a comic book villain, right?”

More explicitly, Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man suggested that the Cigarette-Smoking Man had been involved in the operation itself. More Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man actually depicts his participation in those events. With that in mind, there is a nice contrast between the failed attempts at military intervention on Cuba in the sixties and the role that the island plays in twenty-first century American politics. It is an example of how times have changed, and perhaps not for the better.

The decision to feature Guantanamo Bay also serves to round out the character arc of the Cigarette-Smoking Man. “I’ve had my adventures on this island,” one clone of the Cigarette-Smoking Man reflects. “And is a man lives long enough, apparently, he sees circles complete.” Harris’ work with the Cigarette-Smoking Man has been one of the most interesting aspects of The X-Files: Season 10, and there is something akin to a character arc in his life as it relates to Cuba. He first visited the country as a would-be imperialist; he is now a prisoner of colonising forces.

Smoke and mirrors.

Smoke and mirrors.

Even beyond all these other reasons to feature Cuba so heavily, the political context of Guantanamo Bay ties back into Harris’ engagement with contemporary political realities. Given that one of the central narratives of The X-Files concerns alien abductions and lost time, it makes sense to visit a detention centre where many of the detainees have been taken without regard to international law and without any real timeline for release or access to due process. It is an effective implied parallel the demonstrates the relevance of The X-Files in the modern world.

Elders acknowledges the parallels in dialogue. Scully is taken to meet with some of the people subjected to experimentation at the camp. Although not detainees of “Camp X-Ray”, their experience is framed in terms that related quite strongly to the War on Terror and tied into Scully’s own abduction experience during the second season. “In you I sense a sister who knows what it is like to be abducted from her plane… then returned… in a different state entirely,” one victim remarks.

"Sorry, it all got very The Sixth Extinction in here for a moment."

“Sorry, it all got very The Sixth Extinction in here for a moment.”

All in all, Elders is a mixed bag when it comes to trying to reconfigure the mythology for the twenty-first century. The use of Cuba and the emphasis on private contractors does feel very modern and relevant, but there is a sense that the comic is not entirely sure how best to adapted to the WikiLeaks era. It is stronger in other areas. As with a lot of Harris’ writing of the mythology, the story feels like something of a wry meta-commentary on the fragile continuity of this comic book continuation.

Harris’ season finale is populated by characters and entities that feel abandoned and neglected, cast aside by narrative expedience. Mulder is haunted by an abductee that he dismissed, and who hung herself in shame. The resurrected conspirators are appalled by their own impotence and the fact that they’ve been abandoned. The First Elder complains, “And so we were returned to serve a new conspiracy… only to find our methods perverted. Our hierarchy was played for a farce.” This is not how things should be.

Respect your Elders.

Respect your Elders.

Perhaps most obviously, there is Gibson Praise. For the first time, Gibson Praise is explicitly identified as the mastermind behind the new conspiracy, although Harris quite skilfully hinted and set up the reveal. Not only were the glasses a nice visual cue when the character first appeared at the end of Believers, but the character’s fascination with chess in Pilgrims further set-up the reveal. Last seen as a witness at Mulder’s trial in The Truth, Gibson is treated as the very embodiment of the forgotten threads of continuity and mythology, brushed aside and forgotten.

When the character was introduced in The End at the close of the show’s fifth season, Chris Carter positioned Gibson Praise as the logical end point of the conspiracy. According to Mulder, Gibson Praise represented the culmination of everything he had worked so hard to find. Gibson Praise was the union of alien and human DNA, a boy with incredible mental abilities who represented the future of the human race. The truth was very much in him. He seemed to foreshadow the more existential twist the mythology would take in episodes like The Sixth Extinction.

Turnign green at the sight...

Turnign green at the sight…

However, Gibson Praise was very quickly forgotten. He did not appear (nor was he mentioned) in The X-Files: Fight the Future, perhaps owing to the fact that the feature film had been written and shot almost a year before he first appeared on the series. When Gibson reappeared in The Beginning, he was promptly written out at the end of the episode. When the character resurfaced two years later in Within and Without, he was no longer treated as such a big deal. He was not the future, but a handy link to the show’s past.

In some ways, Gibson could be read as a “millennial” to Mulder and Scully’s “Generation X.” Gibson’s sense of abandonment and betrayal (of disillusionment and entitlement) arguably mirrors the narrative of an entire generation of young people. Millennials were promised that they were special and exceptional, that they would change the world. Instead, they inherited a world that had fewer opportunities and in which they were effectively rendered anonymous and forgotten.

High Praise indeed...

High Praise indeed…

After all, Gibson Praise is ultimately trying to realise a dream that began with his elders. He is as much a child of Mulder and Scully as Mulder is a child of the Cigarette-Smoking Man and Bill Mulder. Indeed, there is some suggestion Joe Harris essentially drafted in the character of Gibson Praise when William was taken off the table:

“Baby” William Scully is a Chris Carter thing, and he advised against my including him in the comics once, which ultimately led to the better choice of focusing on former child chess genius and alien-addled telepath Gibson Praise as our Big Bad in the Season 10 and Season 11 run. But I know William, and his place in the world with regards to Mulder and Scully all these years after she was forced to give him up for adoption in order to protect him from the forces seeking him is something Chris is very intent on following through on, so we’re going to let that play out a bit more before we even attempt to touch it.

It is not difficult to reimagine The X-Files: Season 10 and The X-Files: Season 11 playing out in a similar manner with William cast in the role of primary antagonist. After all, William was also separated from Mulder and Scully after being promised that he would play an important role in shaping and defining the future of mankind.

You know, family counselling might not be the worst idea...

You know, family counselling might not be the worst idea…

Indeed, this might be the smartest move that Harris makes in re-positioning the mythology for the twenty-first century. In the twenty years since The X-Files began, Mulder and Scully have gone from being the children exposing the sins of their parents to parents in their own right. It makes sense that Mulder and Scully should find themselves, two decades later, working through some of the same conflicts that they had with their own parents. Gibson is dealing with his own sense of disillusionment and disengagement with the world that Mulder and Scully left him.

After all, Mulder and Scully were very much a part of “Generation X.” They were aware of the problems inherited from their parents. Indeed, they had the luxury of exploring and coming to terms with those problems at point of (relative) economic prosperity and global security. There is no small bitterness in the way that Gibson looks at the world that he has inherited, wondering whether Mulder and Scully have actually accomplished anything close to making the world a better place.

Keeping the demons at Bay.

Keeping the demons at Bay.

Gibson is cast very much as a child wrestling with his parents. “I only meant… to make you proud of me!” he tells Scully at one point. He surrounds himself with the familiar as a safe net and comfort zone, resurrecting the conspirators because they remind him of the potential that used to exist. In some ways, Gibson serves to justify the nostalgic trappings of the series around him, perhaps a heightened reflection of the nostalgia driven by millennial movie-goers and television-watchers. Gibson wants things to go back to the way they were; the way they should be.

Perhaps understandably, Harris refuses to condemn Gibson outright. After all, the comic might wryly draw attention to its nostalgic elements by having the Cigaratte-Smoking Man quote dialogue from Two Fathers and One Son, but the series has been just as nostalgic as Gibson. Even outside of the central mythology, The X-Files: Season 10 and The X-Files: Season 11 yearn for the past. Hosts brings back the Fluke Man from The Host, while Home Again offers the long-promised return of the Peacock family from Home.

Burning down the house.

Burning down the house.

As such, it would be somewhat hypocritical for the comic to brutally lay into Gibson’s nostalgia. Ultimately, Endgames offers a somewhat redemptive conclusion to the character’s arc. Indeed, even Elders presents Gibson as a pseudo-tragic figure, a character who was promised the world only to find himself consigned to the footnotes of history. Even as Scully shoots him through the head, there is a sense that she feels no small amount of pity for the young man so desperate to put things back together.

“These past ten years I’ve been left alone… I’ve discovered things… things only I can hear,” Gibson confesses. In some ways, Gibson seems a vehicle for the comic’s anxieties about continuity and history. Will The X-Files: Season 10 and The X-Files: Season 11 be forgotten in the moment that The X-Files returns to television screens? Will the series be rendered irrelevant? Given how much Believers invested in the importance of canon and continuity, does the erasure of the series from continuity represent a crisis of identity for the comic?

Green-eyed monster...

Green-eyed monster…

These are all big questions, and it is fun to see Harris tackle them head-on, with the characters seeming to ruminate on many of the same fundamental questions. It gives The X-Files: Season 10 and The X-Files: Season 11 a decidedly existential bent, which is a nice angle for an X-Files comic. After all, the series spent a lot of time pondering the philosophical and existential crises of the nineties, so it makes sense for the comic book series to hit on many of the same fundamental ideas.

That said, Elders doesn’t quite work. Some of that is undoubtedly down to the fact that this is not the mythology that Harris had planned to write when he sat down to craft Believers early in 2013. However, some of that is also down to the sheer mechanics of how Harris plots the five-part story. Five issues provides a lot of storytelling real estate, but there are quite a few narrative beats to Elders that feel rushed and forced. A lot of important moments happen off-screen or are implied, with lots of necessary information provided by clunky exposition.

"Oh, and by the way, Mulder's the new Snowden. But let's not make a big deal of it."

“Oh, and by the way, Mulder’s the new Snowden. But let’s not make a big deal of it.”

For example, the arc hinges on the falsified evidence that Fox Mulder has become a “secrets stealer.” However, that information is only provided during an exposition scene between Morales and Scully. More than that, the charge is not positioned at the top or the end of a page for maximum impact; it is dropped right in the middle of a larger conversation. Mulder has been accused of leaking government secrets to the press. This is a big deal. This is a huge deal. It is the status quo for The X-Files: Season 11. It should arrive with a bang.

Similarly, Harris ultimately does very little with the cloned Elders. They decide to rebel against Gibson. They ally with Skinner and Scully. However, these sequences feel rather unsatisfying. The First Elder monologues at Skinner while he is tied to a chair. The next time the reader sees Skinner, he is being handed a gold watch as a retirement gift from Morales. Scully is conversing with the Cigarette-Smoking Man about Gibson Praise, when the Elders join the conversation. Then Scully is on her way to Cuba.

"Hm," Skinner thinks. "Perhaps Alex Krycek is right that this is no way to treat a guest."

“Hm,” Skinner thinks. “Perhaps Alex Krycek is right that this is no way to treat a guest.”

In both cases, the amount of set-up feels frustrating given the lack of pay-off. Why do the Elders need to talk to Scully? Surely the Cigarette-Smoking Man is able to convince her to make the leap without them? Similarly, what purpose does it serve to have the Elders speak directly to Skinner? Skinner trusts Mulder and Scully implicitly. He doesn’t need to have the conspirators explain that Mulder is innocent, particularly if Scully is willing to vouch for him. It feels like Elders feels the need to give the eponymous group something to do.

To some extent, it feels like Harris is simply remaining true to the spirit of the mythology. After all, the plotting of The X-Files could be (in)famously obtuse at various points in its nine-season run. However, the best mythology episodes generally worked on strong internal logic. Even as the audience wondered how they might fit into the big picture, adventures like Nisei and 731 or Patient X and The Red and the Black worked on their own terms as thrilling pieces of television that communicated everything essential for the story at hand.

Scorched earth.

Scorched earth.

Elders wraps up The X-Files: Season 10, something of a mixed bag. In some ways, Harris has done an excellent job bringing The X-Files into the twenty-first century; in particular, the use of Cuba is clever and inspired, as is the casting of Gibson Praise as a nostalgia-driven millennial. At the same time, there is a sense that Harris is not entirely sure how best to write Fox Mulder in the age of Edward Snowden. Elders seems to understand the challenges of updating The X-Files for the modern world, even if it does not quite master them.

You might be interested in our reviews of IDW’s “season 10” of The X-Files:

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