Oh this is so much more like it! This is The X-Files I was hoping would come back – an unusual situation which is investigated from two sides of the spectrum leading to a paranormal explanation with links to an overall arc. James Wong recaptures the spirit of the series, both in the script and directorial style, that creator Chris Carter somehow missed in the opener. Duchovny and Anderson are much more engaged – the fact this was shot fifth may have something to do with that – and while I’m sure there will be some who think the “fantasy” sequences are out of place, they add a level to the series that helps the audience, old and new, sympathise with the losses that both Mulder and Scully have experienced.
Yes, in places, it’s as clichéd as the opener, and yes, it does feel a little bit like a Greatest Hits episode, but it feels far more as if The X-Files of old has been looked at through a present-day filter without losing some of the old-style thrills. Birds gathering on a lawn usually isn’t that freaky a sight – but towards the end of this episode, you know exactly what it portends.
We’ve got the gross-out factor back as well: I recognised some of the names of the diseases from which the children were suffering if not the symptoms, and these were presented uncompromisingly. Likewise the deaths at start and end of the episode were similarly stark – as Mulder points out, once seen, it can’t be unseen!
We’ve had two extremes of The X-Files in the first two episodes… and with a Darin Morgan episode next, chances are we’ll be nearer this than the opener.
Verdict: The X-Files reopened properly. 8/10