The X-FilesMitch PileggiGillian AndersonGlen Morgan
The X-Files Season 11 ep.2: This
Medium: TV
Year: 2018
Writer/director: Glen Morgan
Keywords: The X-Files, SF
Actor: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Barbara Hershey, Sandrine Holt, Andre Roshkov, Dean Haglund, Dejan Loyola, Dean Friss
Format: 43 minutes
Url: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_(The_X-Files)
Website category: SF
Review date: 22 June 2020
SPOILERS. This episode is hard to discuss without saying what the baddies are doing. A spoiler-free summary, though, is "pretty good".
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Apparently it's a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959), but they don't feel similar to me. Hitchcock made a Sean Connery James Bond film. It's jolly. This, on the other hand, is darker and has Mulder and Scully on the run from people who are theoretically their own colleagues.
Unfortunately this ends up addressing simulated reality inside a computer, which... has been done before. (What's fun is who's inside it.) The X-Files universe contains so much SF that the idea's not immediately absurd, but I didn't buy that you could upload someone through their phone. Cool, yes. Plausible, not really. One also wonders about back-up servers, other data copies, etc.
It still works okay, though. It's perfectly serviceable X-Files nonsense.
The good stuff was earlier. It's unsophisticated, but it knows exactly what it's doing. Russians want to kill Mulder and Scully. They're not investigating so much as just staying alive. Skinner knows the killers, but he can't do anything about it because they're all on the same side. They're from private intelligence companies, you see, which are real and great chunks of the CIA and NSA have indeed been outsourced to third-party contractors. (An example is Edward Snowden, who's mentioned here. He leaked thousands of documents from the NSA's global surveillance program, but wasn't actually an NSA agent.)
Glen Morgan has also said that this season's new villain (Erika Price) loosely draws on Erik Prince, founder of the private military company once known as Blackwater.
I quite enjoyed this episode. It's got attempted murder and shooting. Mulder and Scully can't even enter their office, which leads to the interesting idea of digital X-Files. There's discussion of the US intelligence community in 2018 and its problems. ("The bureau's not in good standing with the White House.") The simulated virtual environment material is a bit silly, perhaps, but a million miles above the My Struggle bar. It's decent telly.