Saturday, 19 March 2016

TV: The X-Files Season 10 (2016), and Person of Interest Season 4 (2016)

The revival of the X-Files after a gap of fourteen years saw the story dive straight into alien conspiracy theories again in the first (of six) episodes. Scully and Mulder reappear along with Skinner and The Smoking Man, providing a certain "the gang's all here" nostalgic appeal.  One interesting change is that Mulder, who has retreated from the world until being recalled for further investigative work, has now become the sceptic, believing that the conspiracy is not to cover up the existence of aliens, but to obscure the fact that they don't exist. Curiously, I found it very difficult to recall any details of this episode even the day after I had watched it. Perhaps the aliens don't want the truth known – or maybe it's just my memory again!

I was initially a fan of the original series, but lost interest in the later seasons when the writers seemed to be concerned with making the plots increasingly horrific and yucky. Unfortunately, the second to fourth episodes of the new series rapidly follow the same track, with stand-alone horror stories and no more heard about alien conspiracies. This is a pity as the performances – especially by Gillian Anderson – are more nuanced and sophisticated than they used to be, which adds more depth to the stories. I would have much preferred the writers to develop a more consistent narrative thread followed through the season, rather than separate stories which can be seen in any order.

The season returns to top form in episode five with a relatively mundane plot concerning efforts to communicate with a near-to-death suicide bomber. It is remarkable for two reasons: it is superbly written, the philosophical discussion between Mulder and Scully at the end raising it to a new level, and it introduces a another pair of young FBI agents also concerned with investigating the paranormal: Miller and Einstein.

On checking I see that the first and fifth episodes were written and directed by series creator Chris Carter, as was episode six. This is a direct sequel to the first episode, although it's a messier story than the first. In this one, alien DNA injected into humans has an unexpected part to play as a pandemic sweeps around the world, and the final scene is a cliff-hanger.

Clearly the story is intended to continue. Are Miller and Einstein, who also have important roles in the final episode, intended to replace Mulder and Scully in due course? I would have no objections as they are very good – particularly Einstein who is even a red-head! I hope there's a Season 11 some time, it is good enough to continue with.


Person of Interest was also losing its focus (and worse, its sense of humour) at the end of the third season and I lost track of what was going on. So I wasn't feeling too optimistic about the fourth season, but fortunately it started off very well – it's got its mojo back! The usual team – including the Machine, the AI which identifies people of interest to the investigators – have been forced to go underground by the emergence of Samaritan, a dominant rival AI. At the start of the season, the Machine reactivates the team and they set up in business again, very much under the radar. The deadpan repartee between the very diverse characters is top-notch with more smiles-per-minute than many comedies – even their ferocious dog is funny. Very promising so far, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.


Fred said...

I also lost interest in Person of Interest during the third season and stopped watching it.. Perhaps I shall check out Season 4 since the humor seems to have returned.

Anthony G Williams said...

If you enjoyed the early series then I think you'll like this one, Fred.

Fred said...

I found it on Netflix and put it in my queue. Actually Netflix has both Seasons 4 and 5 with S4 being immediately available and S5 in the SAVED category.

Anthony G Williams said...

Glad to hear that there's more to come!