The X–Files finally hits its stride with this season’s second episode.
Let’s back it up for a second.
Previously on The X-Files, Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) return to investigating the paranormal, now without the help of their hacker buddies, The Lone Gunmen, who notably sacrificed themselves to save the world back in Season 9.
Cut to the present, we find Mulder and Scully dozing in front of the TV until Mulder’s cell phone gets a strange message from long-dead Langly (Dean Haglund). Not moments later, three armed gunmen barge in and a firefight ensues, followed by the arrival of the second group of armed men that try to take Mulder and Scully into custody, but the duo escapes.
With Skinner’s (Mitch Pileggi) help, they manage to escape, following a trail of breadcrumbs left by Langly that lead them to Arlington National Cemetery then a secret NSA facility dubbed Titanpointe. With a little bit of cunning ingenuity, Mulder and Scully manage to get into the building, where they find a mainframe that contains great minds working as “digital slaves” to progress science to serve the elite. They take down the computer, theoretically releasing Langly and his fellow “digital slaves”, but the bad guys get away, and Langly appears once again on Mulder’s phone, pleading for him to destroy the backup.
So, what do I think?
This episode was a one-hundred-eighty-degree turn from last week’s “My Struggle III”. At the beginning, “This” felt like a standalone, with a wild shootout happening in Mulder’s home. It quickly takes on a North by Northwest vibe where Mulder and Scully make a run for it from two attackers with ties to the Syndicate and a major conspiracy. It continues to loosely follow Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller, but instead of Cary Grant being trailed by spies from a mysterious organization working for the government, Mulder, and Scully find out that their new enemies don’t just work for the new faction of the Syndicate we were introduced to in the premiere, they also digitized the X Files.
Barbara Hershey’s portrayal of Erika Price is spot on, bringing a deliciously sinister intent to the character and adding to the X-Files mythology. I hope to see more of her in the latter episodes of this season. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Russian baddie. His character came off as one-dimensional and weak. While I have no problem with baddies, I’d prefer them to have a little more substance. But I do have a sneaking suspicion he’ll be back in future episodes, especially if he’s linked to the Syndicate and Erica Price.
“This” was a fantastic episode that managed to put The X-Files on a path to redemption after the mediocre season premiere. It felt like one of the old episodes fans were familiar with, showcasing the chemistry Anderson and Duchovny still has on screen while also giving us a taste of their inner badasses in several well-choreographed fight sequences. Although there were some things that did need work, all in all, “This” captured the feel of the old X-Files.
I’d give this episode a B+.
Photo Credits: Shane Harvey/FOX