posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 09:35 AM
Oh boy, is this ever going to be difficult to review honestly. And indeed, I may fail profoundly in this task, for as a passionate fan of the series
since its inception back in 1993, I may be completely incapable of unbiased critique here. That said, I can understand why this “mini-season” has
been so critically lambasted, and so warily eyed even by ardent fans. In six episodes, only two (arguably three) touched upon the central “myth
arc,” and the other three were sort of meta satirical takes on deeper themes than their actual premises might initially suggest. The result, on
first inspection at least, is a story that goes nowhere, solves nothing, and explains little, interspersed with frustratingly “silly” one-offs.
I was ready to share that apparent consensus, and perhaps it is only out of the aforementioned bias that I chose to take a second look with an eye
more attuned to metaphor and psychology, but I’m glad I did. Because that’s when this mini-series came to life for me, and transformed into
something a lot more satiating, stimulating, and moving than it would otherwise have been. It’s also possible that the series is just horribly
written and paced, and that I’m seeing something not intended by its creators to be found. But, like the UFO phenomenon as a whole, the truth -
while probably “out there” somewhere - is very much “in here” when it comes to subjective readings of art… and searching for meaning in
amorphous, hard to pin down, anomalous phenomena. So, down the rabbit hole we go.
*SPOILERS FOLLOW THIS POINT*
To truly understand what I THINK Chris Carter and company were going for here, one must first truly digest the episode entitled, “Home Again.”
Because in this episode we find both a perfect example of the subtle “meta” symbolism - an urging by Carter to look beyond this work of fiction,
and at ourselves - as well as the kinds of criticisms the series is unavoidably going to receive if people don’t see it. “Why is the episode
called Home Again - other than taking place in the town it does - when it has nothing to do with the original Home episode narrative?” “Thought
forms? Really?” and, “It was all wrapped up too quickly!” are common complaints I saw about this episode while the season was playing out. I
shared them, until I went back and watched “Home,” and then rewatched “Home Again.”
While narratively detached, there is a symbolic theme running through “Home Again,” and that is, put simply: burial. Putting out of view that
which we do not wish to face or contend with. Especially those we regard as “undesirable” enough to, as Scully and the Trash Man’s creator put
it, “treat like trash.” In the original “Home Again,” the burial was more literal. Here, it is metaphorical. The Trash Man is an idea - the
notion of justice for the indigent and homeless, because no one else in society would secure justice for them. He is the chicken coming home to roost;
the idea that society must ultimately bear the consequences of that which it throws away and forgets. And for Scully, this burial was of William.
While she did what she felt was best for him, she wonders whether she “treated him like trash.” And in so doing, asks society to look at itself
and wonder - who or what are WE treating like trash?
This meta-but-not-entirely-fourth-wall-breaking symbolism is the key to enjoying this mini-season in my opinion, especially as it functions on many
levels and to varying degrees depending upon the episode.
In the premiere, the longstanding conspiracy storyline is reshaped, as we learn that it is not ET working with human beings to colonize the Earth, but
the human syndicate itself merely exploiting alien technology and genetics on their own, working toward an ultimate goal of depopulation. This theory
will not be a new one to online conspiracy theorists and personalities, nor will people like Tad O'Malley (loosely based on Alex Jones) who are more
sensational than truthful, but once in a great while, may stumble upon something salient to actual reality. While people like Jones have no
credibility with me personally due to their repeated appeals to hype and even outright deception to garner viewership, what if someone like him/them
were to one day find a smoking gun? Even Mulder is ready to dismiss O'Malley because of his political ideology… but quickly realizes that he really
has something, and that such partisanship must be put aside in pursuit of the Truth.
While fictionally intriguing, the notion that in the ACTUAL fields of UFOlogy and conspiracy inquiry, a combination of looking where we may not feel
inclined to, a little more rigor, and less divisiveness along ideological lines, may yield better results? That’s something I completely agree with
and find to be quite true. Especially where UFOlogy is concerned. People are very married to the idea that extraterrestrial or interdimensional
entities - usually portrayed as wholly benevolent in abduction lore, despite countless examples of that not necessarily being the case (if indeed such
events happen at all… I remain open mindedly skeptical) - are responsible for sightings and encounters or claims thereof. But it’s worth taking a
hard look at the possibility that such phenomena could be largely man-made… something most who fetishize the field and the weird in general don’t
feel amenable to considering. Because it’s not as comforting or, frankly, attractive or titillating.
That dangerous fetishism towards the paranormal is the theme of another heavily criticized episode, the penultimate “Babylon.” Most reviewers, I
feel, saw this episode as little more than, “That funny one where Mulder had the acid trip,” before going on to critique the unevenness of its
satire when juxtaposed with the more serious moments. Most seem to perceive the real point of the episode to be the race to prevent a terror attack,
with the '___' montage as just an amusing interlude. I disagree with that assessment, personally.
Mulder, in many ways, represents us. And by “us,” I mean those who have a certain attraction to the mysterious and unknown. We come in many
shapes, sizes, and flavors. Some of us are more skeptical. Others are full-on “believers.” Some of us merely “want to believe,” as the
legendary poster says. But all of us share in common some drive to delve deeply and - usually personally - into the realms of the paranormal. Which we
all, on some level, desperately hope - or truly believe - exists. Why? I’m certain the reasons are myriad. But there is a danger in this pursuit.
When we find some answer to a puzzle, however minor, there is something akin to a “discovery hit” that our brains receive. And that small hit is
but a microcosm of the larger satisfaction and comfort conferred by any speculative picture of “what’s going on” some of us construct - and
reconstruct - as time goes on and our interests grow.