So, the first legitimate teaser trailer for the X-Files revival mini-series has finally dropped from Fox. Even though the new X-Files episodes won’t be hitting the air for another 6 months or so it makes sense that Fox is looking to get the ball rolling on this particular project early. It’s becoming more and more obvious that this is the year Hollywood is waking up to how impactful 1990s nostalgia really is. We’ve already seen 90stalgia make Jurassic World a monster hit and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the same thing again in a few months when that Goosebumps movie comes out. The X-Files stood as one of the defining cultural touchstones of the ‘90s so Fox trying to really build up its return makes a lot of sense especially given the uphill battle the revival is facing story wise.
There aren’t a lot of clues to be found in this new trailer though there are a number of very telling images. We cold open on what appears to be a crashed saucer but it could easily be a jet turbine or some other aircraft. Next there’s a shot of what look like army officers approaching something. This part raises a eyebrow for me as these officers look decidedly anachronistic. Any fan of the X-Files worth their salt knows that the series has always enjoyed period episodes and even traced the origin of the X-Files themselves back to the 1950s in a very enjoyable conspiracy episode. I’m hoping these military guys mean we might be seeing some more flashbacks during the mini-series and maybe even a whole episode set in the past.
These next two shots strike me as the most important; a pair of individuals being dragged away and someone being injected with something. My bet is that the mysterious injection featured here is the Black Oil, a trans-genetic virus from the massive conspiracy plotline that played out from X-Files season 1 through season 5. This seems to clear up a major question a lot of people have had about this X-Files revival for awhile now, specifically: what the focus was going to be. The last time the X-Files came back was in 2008 with I Want to Believe a solid monster of the week type adventure but hardly the kind of grand conspiracy the show thrived on in its heyday. It’s been pretty much assumed by most people that this new mini-series will return to the conspiracy well in some capacity but it’s nice to see it confirmed.
I’m glad to see the focus of the new series is returning to the alien conspiracies but I can’t help but wonder how well that will gel with a modern aesthetic. I like the classic conspiracy X-Files but they worked as well as they did because of their outlandish nature and how non-threatening the world of the ‘90s really was. This is the essential problem an X-Files reboot was always going to face, the fact that government conspiracies now are far less charming and quirky given we’ve spent over a decade dealing with invasive government surveillance and mutating the idea of a conspiracy focused crusader from the hip, suave Fox Mulder to the grungy and creepy likes of Dale Gribble and Truthers.
Additionally I wonder how exactly the conspiracies plot will be continued in the new series. Most people forget this but the central conspiracy of creating a genetic virus to mutate humans into alien slaves and then disperse that virus through a deadly bee weapon was actually concluded in the X-Files season 5 after the success of the inter-season film Fight the Future. I actually think embracing that resolution is probably the best move the X-Files reboot can make as it would lend the series a sense of continuity it never really had before. It’d also be a good way to infuse any new conspiracies with an alien bent rather than having to dive too deep into the pool of government surveillance.
Most of all though, the thing the X-Files reboot should remember most is the role Mulder and Scully were tacitly playing within the world of the show. It’s easy to forget this but Mulder and Scully were essentially a self-investigation from one branch of the government into another. It’d be really something to see the new series cast them in that role, suddenly in charge of an umbrella investigation into the Cabal activities of the show that had been kept so secret for so long.