Saturday, June 4, 2011

X-Files--"The Truth"

“The Truth’ is the series finale of The X-Files. Reviewing the series has been the largest project I have undertaken for the Eye. I have covered an episode a day every day since November 15th, 2010. I have taken the good with the bad, though thankfully the former has far outweighed the latter. If asked to name my favorite television series, The X-Files would top the list. Thus it is with great pain I express disappointment with the “The Truth.”

If there is one thing I regret about the series, it is that it limped across the finish line. Do not get me wrong, I liked quite a few episodes of the final two seasons, particularly when they centered on either Doggett or Reyes. I do not have an axe to grind with either character, for that matter. Had Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish been awarded another series with the two playing similar characters, we probably would have just watched their long running series finale this May. But I think overall the final episode of the seventh season, when both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, should have been expanded into a two hour wrap up for the series like Chris Carter was also hoping. The subsequent shift in gears in seasons eighth and nine meandered way too much, causing the show’s decline in popularity and its abrupt, ’we have to end it all now” finale.

There are three major problems with the finale.

The first is how tired the actors appear to be. Duchovny in particular palpably want this to be over. Mulder is the focal point of the episode, yet he is sleepwalking through most of it. Anderson, too, who by all accounts walked off the set and got on a plane to the United Kingdom to never look back, played Scully with the same over the top emotion she has been chewing up scenery with since the eighth season premiere. Patrick and Gish know this finale is not for them, too, and it shows. They are just sort of there, but it is has been that way for about five episodes now, so I am accustomed to seeing their reaction to playing second fiddle to Duchovny and Anderson. It is doubly sad, considering the first fiddlers do not want to play the concert in the first place.

The second problem is the loose ends. The super soldier program is still ongoing. The alien invasion is set for December 22nd, 2012. Doggett, Reyes, Kersh, and Skinner have been exposed as co-conspirators in helping Mulder ultimately escape. Gibson Praise, whom we have known for four years now needs to be kept safe from the Syndicate, is now out in the open. While there was always an assumption a movie or series of movies would follow the series end, it was always assumed to be about the alien invasion. Where is the sense of closure for these characters/ Skinner especially deserves a better fate than to disappear behind a door wherein a super soldier is going to…what? Have him put on trial, too?

Finally, a trial is the big problem with “The Truth.” The plot of the entire episode is Mulder being placed on trial for the murder of Knowles Rohner. The trial features recurring characters from over the seasons, with Mulder hallucinating characters who are dead, to recount the conspiracy from the beginning using budget flashbacks. If you think that sounds like the Seinfeld finale, move to the head of the class, because it is. There is also an underlying commentary how unfair this kangaroo court tribunal is when subtly compared to the proposed Gitmo terrorist trials. Thankfully, the commentary is not too obnoxious, although the strong hint Bush 43 is a super soldier is just plain dumb. I must admit, however, the prosecution made a fantastic case against the X-Files. It is only the discovery the corpse alleged to be Rohner is not him that abruptly ends proceedings for a quick lethal injection execution.

Is ’The Truth” all bad? No. Reyes redeemed her character by being the highest advocate for the truth of Mulder’s crusade. She was even more convincing than Scully, whom a casual observer would think was lying to protect the man with whom she has fallen in love. The Cigarette Smoking Man finally has a convincing death with the flesh burning off his skeleton. At least we know he has finally met his end. The series is book ended with Mulder and Scully in a motel room discussing Mulder’s crusade. In the "Pilot", he explained what he was searching for to a skeptical Scully. In "The Truth,” she admits she believes. It is a nice touch.

The bottom line is the hour long trial in the middle of the episode, which is essentially a clip show explaining the conspiracy to fans who already know it inside and out, is cheap, unnecessary, and drags the finale down. The rest is much better because it is action surrounding the confrontation of the conspirators. There should have been more of that. Emotionalism elevates the finale somewhat. some Mulder and Scully, even if subpar, is better than none because this is goodbye. It is a must see for fans, particularly shippers, but it does not feel like the slam bang, full of action and closure for characters finale an avid X-Phile would hope.

Thus ends The X-Files reviews. If you still have not had enough, I have reviewed I Want to Believe at my movie review blog, Apocalypse Cinema. I considered writing up a concluding post about my thoughts on the series as a whole, but at this point, surely everything that can be said, has been. The Word document with all these reviews tops 300 pages, so I have literally written the book on the show. If I have missed anything you want to know about, feel free to form spring it. Otherwise, onto other things.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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