RECAPITATION: This Past Weeks The X-Files Is Worth a Watch

We had some friends over recently that wanted to get a couch. Openly we talked about the different options of attempting to get couches in New York. It’s a hassle and a half moving in the city, even if it is just a couch. We mentioned Raymour and Flanigan as a potential option. Just mentioned it out loud. Our friends may have used our WiFi later to look up Raymour and Flanigan’s website, but that’s all. Later, and still to this day, my fiancee and I receive and see ad’s for Raymour and Flanigan EV.E.RY.WHERE. Out of the blue ad’s began popping up everywhere for the company, from Hulu commercials to Facebook targeted posts. We joke that our computers and smartphones are always listening to us, but is it really that far-fetched today in the age of Siri’s and Alexas? These personal assistants are meant to help us, even anticipate, our every needs. And at its core, that is the theme of this past week’s The X-Files, easily the best of this season.

The pre-title opener has a robotic Bob-like voice (remember Bob?!) reporting the real life story of an AI that Twitter created that was meant to learn from human interaction and quickly spiraled out of control into a racist, xenophobic hate bot because we don’t deserve nice things as a humanity. Of course the alt-right, Nazi’s, and the Ku Klux Klan took over that narrative because it was easy to manipulate in a world where the exceptional Black Panther had a tanked Rotten Tomatoes score before it even premiered. But if these advanced technologies are still in it’s infancy, the question that The X-Files poses is, like a child, what if its learning from watching us?

In essence this episode is a series of Lazzi’s, a term for stock comedic scenes done in Commedia del Arte that i just like better than the word “skits” or “sketches”, but really it’s a loose narrative structure for the majority of the episode all tied around one funny at first gag. Scully orders food from a restaurant, that place then immediately starts following her on social accounts. Mulder skirts out on a tip, I suppose because there are no waiters and robots are the back of house staff, and the table in which he inserted his card suddenly traps it in place. They attempt to leave, finding the doors shut and the restaurant in lock down.

Have I mentioned there has been no dialogue yet?

This is what this season of The X-Files has so desperately needed: an outside the box idea. The X-Files was known for its risk taking back in the 90’s, and this season the show has faltered to make a noticeable impression in peak 2018 television. But here, taking a nod from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, a silent film that appeared well into the sound era. Chaplin was able to make a direct comment on the changing landscape of not only Hollywood, but technology by having the only spoken dialogue come from things and not people. Here to X-Files is experimenting with that, the first line of dialogue being spoken is from a driverless ride share Scully calls after leaving her sushi date with Fox. Mulder too when getting in his car only speaks to his technology, navigating his route home and getting frustrated with his Siri-esque assistant. It’s been a long time since Ive felt one step behind the action in The X Files, but this is keeping me off balance. I have zero clue whats going on, but Im loving it. Was one scene just a prolonged joke about how weird it is that our future holds drones delivering Amazon packages? Yes. Do we run scenarios through our heads where the drones are super scary and plotting our demise, Skynet style? You better goddamn believe it.

The crux of the episode ties back in to a thought you may have had at the beginning of the episode. “Wait, are they just after them because Mulder didn’t tip?” But, surprisingly you are correct. No government conspiracies, black ops, aliens, or yeti...just straight up bad tipping. Though, granted, the sentiment is valid that flashes across Mulder’s phone congratulating him on tipping. We are in a time where machines are learning from human interaction in ways we have yet to see before and our actions could have impact for future generations. We don’t know, that’s what makes science and technology such a goodie bag for genre audiences because the possibilities are as vast as they are terrifying. So Boston Dynamics, we know you're listening, please stop kicking the robots. We’ve seen the videos, we want them to like us. Just, chill. kthxbyeee.

Two choice Notes Quotes:

  • Oof. The star ratings on the Whipz Ride Share is Poor, Middle Class, Rich, BALLIN’!. Fucking top notch, but...woooof.

  • Aww, if only THIS was the episode cyberpunk novelist William Gibson had wrote. But sadly...no.

Jacob Trussell