We're less than two weeks from the return of The X-Files Event Series - Second Chapter, the official term given to The X-Files Season 11 by Fox.
Critics received the first five episodes the second chapter, and herein I'll share thoughts on what we've seen so far.
Going by the numbers only, it seems likely the first half of the season will be better than the second, but even then, it should hold up well in comparison to the First Chapter of the Event Series. Here's why.
When speaking with Chris Carter at New York Comic Con, he noted that within the ten episodes we would be receiving three mythology episodes instead of the two. Bookends and one hybrid monster-of-the-week/mythology in the middle.
The problem with that from what I've seen so far is My Struggle III, the premiere of The X-Files Season 11, is by far the most ill-conceived of the five offered for review.
Not only is it unclear who is struggling during the episode, but the ramifications of the latest mythology "updates" could rock the series and fandom in ways never before experienced. Of course, with two remaining mythology installments left during the final five episodes of the season, what's up for grabs is anybody's guess.
What's done could be undone, redone, or reinvented entirely. It's all at the whim of Chris Carter.
Three of the remaining five episodes available for review felt like old times with The X-Files but with characters who have grown to love and respect one another.
It is the first time Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are all in as Scully and Mulder, not because of anything they are doing differently, but because the writing is allowing for it.
The maturing of Mulder and Scully is the best thing about the second chapter, and in the first five episodes, the two are together more often than not, relying on one another hesitation. They're well beyond the period of reuniting, and their partnership is stronger than ever.
There is a wide range of writing, too, allowing for them to have emotional moments topped immediately by the silly, the behavior they became known for so well during the initial nine-season run.
The X-Files Season 11 Episode 2, "This," written and directed by Glen Morgan is a wonderful episode reuniting Scully and Mulder with an old friend in an impossible way. The hour feels like a call-out to Black Mirror reminding Charlie Brooker who held the reins on the past, present, and future long before he entered the race.
The X-Files Season 11 Season Episode 3, "Plus One," is written by Chris Carter and directed by Kevin Hooks and features the return of Karin Konoval who starred as the mother in one of the most frightening hours of television ever aired, The X-Files Season 4 Episode 2, "Home."
While I don't think it will have the same effect as her previous role, her dual role does leave a lasting impression.
The X-Files Season 11 Episode 4, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," is written and directed by Darin Morgan, examining The Mandela Effect, in which large groups of people remember an alternate history. Brian Huskey guests as "Reggie Something," and the crowd will go wild.
It's of a different nature than The X-Files Season 10 Episode 3 and the Were-Monster, but equally as enjoyable. It's easily the highlight of the first five in terms of originality, use of the full scope of the series' history, and the downright fun that's had while watching.
"Ghouli," The X-Files Season 11 Episode 5 is written and directed by James Wong features a modern monster-of-the-week type format that ties into information that could lead Scully and Mulder to their son, William. This, it seems, could be the hybrid, but I'm hesitant to call it that since it's not written by Carter.
If it's not the hybrid mythology hour, it should surely lead into it given the involvement of William. It will be nice to get some continuity because up to this point, things flow quite merrily along after an opener that shakes the foundation of The X-Files.
But the mythology issues are not enough to dampen the spirit here. Not even wondering about an appearance from Barbara Hershey apparently keeping in step with her role on the defunct Damien (woman in a clandestine organization) can turn heads from the strength and cohesion of The X-Files Season 11.
With Anderson announcing she intends to hang up Scully's hat at the end of the season, she has to go out on the very top of her game.
The X-Files Season 11 seems intent on proving the benefits that come with age and experience. It's succeeding.
The X-Files returns to Fox on Wednesday, January 3 at 8/7c.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.