The X-Files revival review: First impressions of ‘My Struggle’

If the truth is out there, we can't find it in The X-Files miniseries

more x files revival 2018 the david duchovny gillian anderson fox
When The X-Files wrapped up its nine-season run in 2002, it left more than a few dangling narrative threads regarding the fates of FBI Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and their quest to make sense of a massive conspiracy involving alien visitors and shadowy government agencies. After the 2008 film The X-Files: I Want To Believe did little to tie up those threads, the likelihood of fans getting any sense of resolution seemed improbable at best.

Eight years later, however, The X-Files has found its way back to television in the form of a six-episode miniseries from original series creator Chris Carter that debuted over the weekend.

The first episode of the revival series premiered Sunday, January 24, and pushed Mulder and Scully back into action after receiving a call from their former boss, Walter Skinner (played by original series regular Mitch Pileggi). Titled “My Struggle,” the miniseries’ debut episode didn’t shy away from channeling some of The X-Files‘ most iconic elements — particularly, the series’ reluctance to provide much in the way of answers for the many questions it posed.

Written and directed by Carter, “My Struggle” encapsulates much of what made The X-Files a cultural touchstone of the ’90s. It mines the same sort of cultural paranoia that fueled the original series.

In many ways, “My Struggle” serves as a reminder of both the best and worst of The X-Files.

In many ways, “My Struggle” serves as a reminder of both the best and worst of The X-Files, sparing no opportunity to have Mulder rant about far-reaching conspiracies and the diabolical machinations of forces both human and extraterrestrial while Scully responds with skepticism and, at times, concern for his mental health. The episode stops short of confirming that any answers are in store for fans longing to know exactly what the facts really are with regard to the relationship between humans, aliens, and their potentially intertwined paths, but as always, it suggests that the truth is indeed out there.

Still, even without the promise of answers, “My Struggle” is a welcome return for Mulder and Scully. At times, Duchovny and Anderson feel as if they’re still teasing out the rust in their on-screen interactions, but once they get rolling along it offers a nice reminder of the chemistry between the two stars that gave rise to countless volumes of fan-fiction and speculation.


Series newcomer Joel McHale plays the most prominent role of the fresh faces introduced in “My Struggle,” and his character — a right-wing, Internet video pundit with an agenda that’s equal parts Fox News and Weekly World News — is clearly intended to drag the sensibilities of The X-Files and its protagonists forward into the modern, always-online world. What greater role he’ll play in the miniseries is uncertain at this point, but a meeting between McHale’s character and the conspiracy-hunting Lone Gunmen (who may or may not be still alive in The X-Files universe) already seems like an endlessly entertaining possibility.

Much like the classic, mythology-driven episodes of the original series, “My Struggle” leans heavily on the complicated continuity of The X-Files as it relates to Mulder and Scully’s relationship and the damning truths that always seemed just out of the duo’s reach. However, future installments of the miniseries appear to draw inspiration from the side of the series that often seemed like a counterpoint to the mythology-building storylines: the standalone “monster of the week” stories.

The second episode of the miniseries, titled “Founder’s Mutation,” is written and directed by James Wong, who co-wrote the first season’s memorable, nightmare-inducing episode “Squeeze” (about a mutant serial killer able to stretch and contort his body to stalk his victims). Subsequent episodes feature stories penned by Wong’s writing partner, Glen Morgan, as well as one of the series’ most popular writers, Darin Morgan, the storyteller responsible for the surreal “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’,” as well as fan-favorite stories “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and “Humbug,” among other critically praised episodes.

Given those writers’ roles in upcoming episodes of the miniseries — and the very different way those writers approached the series during its original run — it’s difficult to predict what’s in store for fans as the new miniseries runs its course. All the pieces appear to be in place for The X-Files to give fans everything they want from the return of Mulder and Scully, but as any longtime fan will attest, a big part of the series’ appeal is in not knowing what’s next for its intrepid FBI agents.

And in that respect, the revival of The X-Files has already given fans reason to believe.

Movies & TV

In Avengers: Endgame, Marvel saved its best (and biggest) for last

Marvel Studios concludes its 22-film saga with Avengers: Endgame, the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War and the culmination of more than a decade of movies. It gives fans one of the franchise's most epic and emotional installments so far.
Movies & TV

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer gets 111 million views in just 24 hours

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker's first teaser trailer and plot details have arrived. Here's everything we know about the movie before it premieres in December 2019.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Skip the flowers and sunshine this spring and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

From game consoles to 4K UHD spinners, these are the best Blu-ray players

Streaming may be popular, but the disc isn't dead yet. To get the very best picture and sound quality from your system, you need to be watching Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and these are the best Blu-ray players you can buy.
Smart Home

Not only is Chucky back, he haunts your smart home in Child’s Play reboot

Chucky is a classic horror movie villain dating back more than 30 years and the character is getting reimagined in the new reboot coming in June that gives the evil doll control over smart home functions.
Movies & TV

Final trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters promises a giant monster melee

Legendary Pictures has released the final full-length trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the sequel to 2014's Godzilla, which pits the giant lizard against a host of new monstrous threats.
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what movies and shows are leaving in May 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for May 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Movies & TV

Game of Thrones episode 3 photos look ahead to the Battle of Winterfell

HBO released photos and a video teasing the upcoming third episode of Game of Thrones' eighth and final season. It will feature the long-awaited Battle of Winterfell that pits the show's key characters against The Night King's undead army.
Movies & TV

10 criminally underrated movies on Netflix you owe it to yourself to watch

Netflix's massive selection often makes it hard to find anything to watch other than what's currently trending. To help, we've compiled a list of the most underrated movies on Netflix.
Movies & TV

Sorry, Spielberg. Streaming movies are still eligible for the Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided that, despite complaints from filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, movies that are primarily distributed via streaming services will still be eligible for the 2020 Oscars.

Ambitious but not rubbish: The best Top Gear episodes

Since its relaunch in 2002, Top Gear has become required viewing for any serious gearhead. The great moments from this show may seem too numerous to count, but we've managed to pick some of the highlights from the first 26 seasons.
Movies & TV

It’s official: James Bond 25 pits Daniel Craig against Rami Malek

Daniel Craig will face off against Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek in the still-untitled 25th installment of the James Bond franchise, scheduled to hit theaters April 8, 2020.