The X-Files season 11 episode 2 is as mixed-bag of an episode as there possibly was. You had transmissions, suspicions of a corrupt federal government, Mulder complimenting Scully, and Richard Langley. Or, a version of Richard Langley. Basically, he’s a technological version of him living within a phone and eating hot dogs and listening to the Ramones.
The line of the episode? This: “The New England Patriots are here and they never, ever win.” Good times within Langley’s dream world. Doesn’t that sound ideal? Well … it’s not. Langley lived within the sort of evil Heaven tech Utopia that was really hell disguised as something better. Basically, this episode was The X-Files meets The Good Place. Also, Black Mirror. We haven’t seen a story so next-level or fearful of technology since Charlie Brooker screamed at his own reflection in his laptop.
The biggest issue with The X-Files season 11 episode 2 is that you needed to draw a graph halfway through to really understand what was going on. In between the conspiracies and the tech and Langley turning up in Tech Phone World, the story bit off far more than it could chew within a single episode. This was a 70-minute episode crammed within around 42 minutes. That didn’t work anywhere near as great as we would’ve hoped.
This episode was, by and large, a fun one even in spite of the confusion that popped in. The relationship between Mulder and Scully, for starters, was a little more in line with what we thought of them during the earlier seasons of the show. Plus, at the end of the episode things started to come together. Mulder found himself in a confrontation, and also a lengthy monologue about replacement and the struggle to define various meanings of chaos and control. The computer simulations were necessary in order to simulate the future of humanity. It was a plan. Because Langley reached out to Mulder, it was pretty darn clear what the woman running the program (played by Barbara Hershey) wanted: To stop him, or at least stop her for the time being.
It was clear that Hershey’s character had a plan and had the resources to execute it. Thematically, this episode was a story about life and death, and about someone trying to play God in order to unnaturally extend it. She wanted to create a world in which the best and brightest could move forward and extend humanity. Yes, they were soulless husks in the process. At the end of the day Mulder and Scully found some element of success … some. The biggest victory was knowledge. The aftermath remains more of a mess that Mulder and Scully are going to have to clean up. What was with the surprise appearance with the wig in the closing minutes?
The X-Files season 11 episode 2 was far better than the premiere, largely because there was not some terrible twist at the center of the episode where we learned that William was the Cigarette Smoking Man’s “Child of Science.” Any episode lacking that is going to be better.
This episode took a little while to get going, but once we understand the purpose of Langley and the end goal, it’s an episode of The X-Files we cannot wait to re-watch.
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