I miss Fringe.
I miss it even more now with the reprise of The X-Files, the first two episodes of which left me a little cold.
A lot has happened to the real-life us since the original series left the airwaves, and the script does mention many of those interim events: 9/11, Snowden, terrorism. It’s all there, but then we’re carried back to a crashed UFO in Roswell and it’s as if none of those other events ever happened, or if they did, they weren’t important. And when the principal character Fox Mulder says we’ve been duped all those years, I wanted to say “You should have told me then—I was watching all those years!”
It is a six-part reprise; suspending judgment is always wise. And although the FBI’s Walter Skinner seems a little less imperious than before (and maybe a little chastened), Mulder has lost none of his fire for the truth that remains out there and Scully retains all the skepticism in which each new inexplicable event makes another dent. It’s a shtick that worked for many years, but either they’re tired or we are.
I think it might be on us. In 2002 when the show left the air (Mulder was even then a memory), we’d have been appalled at the thought of a government watching our every move, or wireless companies monitoring our whereabouts, or an American citizen going public with restricted, secret information. Now we’re divided on those issues. In fact we’re just divided. In the nineties we hoped Mulder would find his sister, learn the truth, promulgate it to all of us. We had an engaged middle class with time for thoughts like that. In 2016 our mantra has become “If you see something, say something.” There’s not much time for anything else. Conspiracies? We’re okay with that, as long as our smartphones remain just slightly smarter than we do.
So I miss Fringe, not because it was so much superior, but because it existed in our world with our concerns. The 2016 version of The X-Files may redeem itself before it’s over, and I hope it does. I want to believe, too. We all do. Even if it’s something as simple as you can go home again.