The X-Files and the Monsters of That Week: Plus One

by thethreepennyguignol

When watching the vastly improved second season of The X-Files revival, it is clear to see the one thing holding it back: Chris Carter. I’ve been criticising the showrunner of one of my favourite works of fiction ever for a long time now; although this is the blog in which Louise continually smashed Steven Moffat when he was running Doctor Who into oblivion, I’m coming for that dunking-on-showrunners crown. Looking at these two revival seasons of the show, not to mention the last proper series and the lousy movie in between – all of the crap stuff was written solely by Carter. The My Struggle episodes are a special kind of awful that only Carter could create, and the same can be said for his one Monster of the Week episode this season, and my last worst-of for this series: Plus One.

Plus One has a brilliant opening, in which a young man sees a version of himself at a concert, a version who appears later in his car and causes it to crash. The doppelganger angle is a brilliant conceit, because there is nothing more creepy than seeing yourself. You are you, so you shouldn’t be standing in front of you, never mind trying to kill you. What does Carter do with this? It’s just a pair of twins playing hangman. WHAT!

I myself am a twin. While the world is harsher on a lot of people, being a twin has its own set of headaches. My brother and I are still, in our thirties, asked if we are related, paired together for criticism when only one of us (usually me) has done anything wrong, asked if we can read each others minds (I don’t need to be a mind reader to know that my brother thinks anyone who asks that question is an idiot), and we have both been told many times by people who call us by the wrong name “well, it doesn’t really matter, does it?” So, let’s just say that the twin thing is a bit of a button, though The Haunting of Hill House gets away with Luke and Nell because….because it’s great, alright?

Not only are Carter’s villains twins, who have such a powerful connection that they can actually kill with it, they are fucking assholes, too. This episode is such a mess that the only reason I can think of that it got made was because of Carter’s name on the door. Genre storytelling has become as space on which the otherness of a person, place, race, and community can be celebrated and investigated. Carter, much like he achieved with the Islamophobic Babylon, just points at the weird thing that he doesn’t understand and says, “what if this thing I know nothing about could kill people?.”It’s the 21st century and we are still allowing fossils like Carter to spew this hot mess all over the place.

But hey – we don’t know what The X-Files has to offer next. Though this might be the end of my little recapping series, I hope that it’s sparked some new or renewed interest in the show for you – and that you’ll stick around to see my hot takes on whatever new stuff the show comes out with.

By Kevin Boyle

(header image via IndieWire)