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Supporting Actors and Familiar Faces

Although my opinions on the new X-Files remain mixed at the moment, I will say this much – the show’s casting game is still very much on point. The original series had exceptional taste in actors, filling out the guest star ranks with beloved performers, noteworthy character actors, and even a few people who would go on to great things (Bryan Cranston, anyone?). In two episodes, The X-Files has kept this tradition alive.

I may not like the character of Tad O’Malley and think he’s a lousy device instead of a proper character, but I love seeing Joel McHale in a part like this, where he’s allowed to showcase a new side of his onscreen persona. I was also pleased to see Annet Mahendru, who is so fantastic on The Americans, play a key role. And like anyone with good taste, I cheer a little whenever a Hannibal veteran shows up in just about anything, so Kacey Rohl popping up for a few key scenes in “Founder’s Mutation” was a real treat. With the wonderful Kumail Nanjiani (a noted X-Files enthusiast) set to guest star next week, this trend looks to continue. 

However, I truly hope the show eventually finds something for Mitch Pileggi‘s Walter Skinner to do. He may have begun the series as the grumpy ol’ boss, but he eventually evolved into a far more valuable supporting player who deserves more than a single scene each week. And as happy as I am to see William B. Davis back as the (somehow alive) Smoking Man, there better be a damn good reason why he’s still drawing breath.

Looking Ahead

And this is where I look to the future. We’re already one third of the way through the new season and one episode has been downright rotten and the other pretty good. Average that together and you have a fairly disappointing start. Advance buzz suggests that next week’s episode is genuinely strong and a big improvement over what has come before, but it’s still easy to feel a little bummed out. When you have so few hours, every single episode counts.

Thankfully, the next few episodes appear to be additional “monster of the week” one-offs, which is where this show was always at its best. In this free-form space, The X-Files could be funny and experimental. It could try new things, playing with structure and form to deliver genuinely unique hours of television. Before the age of “proper” serialization, The X-Files reveled in the chance to break from its main story and have a good time.

With only a handful of episodes remaining, will the show even have time to get a little silly and break the mold? That’s my biggest concern moving forward, especially since we’ll be back in “mythology” territory soon enough. Since this revival has been so keen on throwing out past mythology and continuity at every turn, these episodes fill me with dread. These are the hours that do not matter. These episodes are the disposable ones, not the one-offs. The X-Files was a great show because it so frequently diverged from its main mythology.

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