X-Files season 10 (A kinda review)

Minor spoilers? It’s six episodes , just go watch the damn thing.

 

Five weeks ago, I saw that a show from my childhood, like many nostalgia driven media these days, has been brought back from the grave to appease an aged fanbase. I don’t have a huge value judgement on this, as I fell in love with a certain British T.V show that did this in 2005, despite initially not getting it at all. And it was funny to see interviews with Duchovny and Gillian, almost mocking some of the badness of the old days, or just how cheap they had to be. It is enjoyable to watch stars not oversell their project, to quote Gillian in one interview ‘It could tank.’ Not what you get from stars attached to huge franchise motivated films these days.

 

Now I will admit, I am not a diehard X-Files fan. I had feigning interest in seeing the new movie in 2008, but lost sight of it in the wake of superhero madness of that summer. But seeing the original opening theme being used from the 1990’s brought back a deeply rooted fear factor that the old tune inspired in my pre-adolescent self. Indeed, the X-Files felt like it hadn’t missed a beat. But this show feels like a TV show built in 2016, but made by people teleported from twenty years ago. This might be intentional on the creators’ part to keep some consistency with the show, but to quote James from the Weekly Planet podcast ‘TV has moved on.’ But I think this is important to see, as television simply didn’t have horror, and aside from the Walking Dead, and some off brand ABC wannadrama, it still doesn’t. X-Files tried to deliver scares, mystery, science, and ideas at a time when sitcoms and then reality television was on the rise. With real characters!

 

Perhaps it is my faulty memory, but I feel like that is what made X-Files rise above the rest, despite budget, dated CGI, and potentially tired formulas. The first two new episodes almost jar you right back into the universe, the first getting the Mulder and Scully back together and the second putting them in an X-Filesy situation on the back of their return. Neither Duchovny nor Gillian seem to miss a beat, despite their time away and attempts to get away from these characters. Could there have been a smoother transition from My Struggle I to Founders Mutation? Yes. It was a bit jarring that Mulder and Scully were just back in the FBI on the X-Files. But instead of weighing through elaborate continuity tape, we are just back in the action. Which is perfectly fine. We get layers more to the mythology and potential set ups for where the story goes next.

 

Episodes three is a joy, although I will say the whole ‘Mulder needs convincing of the supernatural’ is a bit sad, considering over the course of 9 seasons, a trip to Antarctica, and the last two episodes, he has seen nothing but the supernatural and extraterrestrial. But it is more a bigger sign that the show worth having back. It was whity to have the monster turn into the human, and the whole ‘you see one you’ve seen ‘em all line’ makes for more of a focus on the character than on the reasons. But episode four goes right for the nitty gritty, in the Philly based with a magically, revenge zombie, killing uptight and unjust city officials. It was a backdrop which to paint Mulder and Scully’s feelings about their son, with the intertwining death of Scully’s mother plot. This made for an excellent emotional trace all the way back to the earlier days of the show, as well as deliver an excellent, albeit overpowered monster of the week.

 

The last two episodes of the season are a bit of a mixed bag. Episode five revolves around Mulder and Scully’s younger doppelgangers, Miller and Einstein. I felt this would have been a bit of a one scene joke, but instead carried into the next episode. Episode five in itself was fine, even funny at times (are the Lone Gunman truly dead?) but I felt it was a shame the creators of the show had to go the Jihadist route in order to have a perpetrator. It is not a terrible commentary on current times, but there could have been other ways of telling this story without dragging that into the X-Files. Then My Struggle II picks up where My Struggle I left off. Many have complained about this episode, and I would share some ire towards it. After episode five I was expecting at least some throwaway line about the recent revival of the X-Files had an impact on the events of this episode, but they didn’t. And everything felt far too rushed. Why not make it seven episodes? Why leave us on a cliffhanger? Why not oversee that the season has a bit more connection? There were only six episodes! But it seems that a season eleven will be in order.

Overall, I am glad to see the X-Files back. I didn’t even know we were missing it. In the waves of superhero and comic inspired media, an old, quirky 90’s franchise I think is what was needed to shake us from what might become a stopper. Maybe it needs a bit more update in direction, and maybe Chris Carter needs to steer more of the overall arc of a six episode miniseries rather than treating it as a smaller season. I want to believe there will be a quality conclusion to the cliffhanger. I want to beleive there will be more to fill out this continuation.  

I want to believe that.

I really do.

 

 

 

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Notes on Determination

 

The one factor between realizing dreams, or breaking hopes: determination.

Determination is what lets you keep going when everything else is burnt out. Brain fried, muscles exhausted, emotions torn up, determination is what makes or breaks everything. Personally, I have a lot of instilled self-sabotage, from the common mix of nature and nurture, that I have strove over the years to overcome. And coming off a half marathon at a personal best, and being in a certain frame of mind to clearly see what got me there, here are some brief, scattered notes on determination.

Determination is the muscle of the spirit. It can get stronger. It can atrophy.  It can be misused, overused, underused, and contorted.  But most of all, like any other muscle, in order to be used, it needs to be developed. Some people have it more naturally than others, and some people are in better environments for it than others.  And some mistake it for arrogance, or use excuses the never use it.

In high school,  I had developed a decent bit of determination through martial arts and regular meditation and ‘spiritual’ practices. Youth didn’t hurt either. Though many will point to martial arts as something that builds focus and discipline, I would say that is more of stereotypical image than anything else. There are lots of people who do martial arts who have no discipline.

I am more of the opinion it is your outlook on a situation that determines your determination. And this can get contorted with a few good accomplishments leading to overconfidence and underestimation. This is something everyone has and deals with, but I am not sure everyone reflects one the factors behind it.

My determination took a nose dive when I was in university, yet I became more ambitious. Not an uncommon thing to happen, but a dangerous thing at that I remember one very telling moment in university where a professor had basically told me I had all the ability and ambition, but none of the discipline to accomplish my goals. And yet it was not until years later, after university that I realized how large a factor that comes into ones work.

But in order for determination to be built, reasonable goals need to be set and met before you can have the ball rolling for larger goals. Ability and goals matched with determination, not ambition or arrogance. Sometimes hard to tell between the two, but to my mind, determination is clear headed. Not single minded. Not obsessive. Having a broad understanding of your goals, realistic and sane expenditures of time, with decent and reasonable bouts of rest, make all the difference to accomplishing them. And this applies to so much of life, not just running a race, or getting a job, or having a successful project.

So, step out of yourself for a minute, and figure out where your determination is, and go from there!

 

 

 

Lack of journalistic creativity in favor of political theatre.

 

As I am no stranger to taking somewhat controversial stances on politics (or non-political stances as it were) I feel a need to comment on the issue at hand with reporting on said politics. Specifically the seemingly endless reporting on the shape of an election news outlets are churning out on a near daily basis.

I will not name names here, as that would seem like to the thing to do to gain reception. No, I hope to critique broadly opinion pieces masquerading as news. Particularly in reference to the upcoming presidential election nominees, the recent twelve months have been mind-numbingly to dull adrenaline inducing in terms of chatter about what may come. And it’s just that: chatter. Nothing but print noise factories, or the less literate, noise factories of half facts, politiquing, and rumblings about this, that, or the other. Posturing to gain support in the strangest places, from people who know little about candidates outside a small calling card, loud speeches, and awkwardly staged interviews.

Now, since I have taken my somewhat apolitical stance, I have made it tradition that if there is a debate occurring that I do something else productive. Take the 2012 debates between the current president of the United States, and the vaccum cleaner salesman pretending to be a Republican. I chose to mock my then roommate (still friends by the by) about his need to watch the debates by somewhat loudly turning on rock music and getting an abdominal set in, and then going for a run, only to catch what would have been on John Stuart or Stephen Colbert the following week. I can only assume those my age, aside from my roommate, would have done the same. Though probably not everyone would have chosen the athletic routine I did to substitute watching the debates.

 

Seeing I do not live on practical time zones as the current debates, I will save my workout regime for more practical times. But why tell such a long winded and somewhat imp spirited story? Because I felt then, as I do now, that I spent my time more productively by training than seeing the performances made by political candidates to obtain or maintain power. What is worse about the last twelve months of ‘coverage’ of the primaries leading up to the actual election, is that a large portion of articles will be immediately dated and seen as completely wrong headed (much like the endless touting of predictions of big-budget movies based on trailers these days.) This is not to say they are all bad. Some articles attempt to shed light on certain subjects, or bring to task what someone has said, as is the duty of the news.

 

However, I wish there was more focus on the current situation politically, socially, economically, and so forth than on future possible candidates that might do something. And there have been some, but not enough to quite the noise around this parody of politics that is ‘election coverage.’ Hence my hope for a more sober take on current issues from the people wielding the pen at news outlets, to cover more important topics than an endless barrage of maybes, what ifs and whose and whose side now. It makes for great drama, suspense, and even mystery, but it is shit news.

 

Just my two cents.

 

Current Events

As I remember quite well in our Social Studies courses growing up, our teacher insisted that we in some way relay a current event to them every week, Generally these were very flaccid, if not quart-hearted attempts, no more than a two or three paragraphs long. This was an attempt, albeit somewhat inane one, to get students to engage with current situations. I understand now, as a teacher, how hard that can be. But this has given me an idea of doing my own sort of report with relaying to recent events on this blog. I think the point of those current events reports in high school had their point: they were trying to develop the students understanding and outlook of the world. And one thing I have been lacking in recently is developing my own.

It’s time to pay more attention, but not only to notice, and analyze but give some sort of input into the discussion, even if it is a gentle nod.

Forgetting Originality

Whether it be with at movies, philosophical musings, or some languages inability to create new words using their own languages, we are forgetting originality. I say this from someone who sees movies languishing and having a trival year through reboots, adaptations, and sequels, been burnt out from academia milking itself to death, and learning that a lot of Japanese is becoming Japanophied English. But they all speak to the same problem: forgetting originality.

But it is certainly not contained to these fields. Music, popular culture, the making of food, the furthering of the space program (yes, remember when that used to be a thing?), the binary or monolithic politic systems, the domineering convergence of social media and networks, all reeks of unoriginality. And perhaps it is the systematization of many things, the attempts to streamline and simplify things that are creating this creative lack so to speak. Perhaps it is the totalization of things being forced to converge on few or one language, instead of being able to have thought seated several different languages.

Those who have warned against hegemony were quite right. We need originality. We need spontaneity. Our spirits should not be crushed nor our lives be sold off for convenience.

A strangled response to an overshadowing problem, but not my last on this subject.