Why does the truth lie within us in the return of The X-Files?
Mulder and Scully are back working together in the rebooted series. But why is the new series built around a conspiracy theory about real men, not little green ones, wonders Ben Dowell?
So it was all al lie. Pretty much every moment of the 1990s X-Files series when Mulder and Scully were alien-chasing was a big fat fib according to David Duchovny’s Mulder in the first episode of the rebooted show.
Well, that is pretty much the main message when the duo are summoned to meet Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) in the opening minutes.
O’Malley is, it seems at first, a wealthy shock jock web-caster who fronts a show called The Truth Squad that peddles the line that the Government is lying to us. All. The. Time.
Yes, he is one of those people who firmly believed that 9/11 was an inside job organised by the "Elites" who are in charge of everything. He is, one gets the impression, a tad strange. And the problem seems to be that Mulder and Scully take him seriously, which means we have to.
The intrigue begins when O’Malley introduces Mulder to a lonely, frightened woman called Sveta (Annet Mahendru) who shows that she may well have been abducted by creatures flying spacecraft.
Except it wasn’t aliens that impregnated Sveta and stole her baby, it was human beings.
But it’s not all that simple. Because the aliens, we learn, have been helping humanity all along. The real menace lies with the humans who have used and developed alien technology from the Roswell Incident and are using it to mastermind their eventual takeover of the earth.
Roswell, we are told, provided technology for fuel-free transport. But of course this was covered up by those who benefited from the “trillions” made in the oil industry, according to Mulder in one of many clunky lines in the series opener. It is all a bit simple-minded. As if creator Chris Carter has realised that X-Files in the internet and information age needs to take on and incorporate crackpot theories that look inward rather than towards the big unknown.
Now of course X-Files fans will know that these were areas that were touched upon in previous series. Human nefariousness was always near or around many of the plotlines in the 1990s. It’s just that Carter appears to have built his whole new drama on this conspiracy theory. It has taken centre stage.
“Claptrap, isolationist, techno paranoia so bogus and dangerous and stupid that it borders on treason”, says Gillian Anderson’s Scully, and we may be forgiven for thinking she has a point. But then she starts to believe her partner.
Now it would be easy to ascribe a post-9/11 analysis onto this. The feeling that the weight of the paranoia which the show feasted on in the 1990s has moved from looking at the stars to examining what individual humans on earth are actually up to.
And certainly that seems to be the big shift between X-Files then and X-Files now.
The truth is out there. Sort of. But the answer lies mainly in the mirror...
I'm not sure I like it.
The X-Files airs on Channel 5 in February