Is everyone done unwrapping presents? Did you eat all of your leftovers yet? Have you finally settled down and picked up some great new reading material? Well, if you haven’t already, I recommend you pick up The X-Files X-Mas Special 2015 and then lay back with some egg nog.
Come to think about it, I didn’t have much egg nog this year and should totally remedy that! Maybe with my 5th read of this great release.
As in previous special editions, this issue contains two stories: this time the main one follows along the The X-Files: Season 11 narrative, and the second is a sneak peek into the upcoming 2nd volume of the prose anthology being curated by Jonathan Maberry, The Truth is Out There which we will review in due time.
For our recap of the X-Mas Special, click on read more.
The Lone Gunmen are back, and I’m so happy. I barely remember the part when they supposedly got killed in the series because the world is just so much better with this trio, but I digress. The boys are in Chesterfuss, IL; it’s Christmas eve and snow covers everything as a narrator waxes poetic about the current state of the seasonal spirit. While the boys have been under the radar, they’ve had to make some odd choices to make ends meet. Frohike is apparently supporting them all by working as a Mall Santa and obviously is “super joyful” about it. Note the sarcasm. Langly peeks out of the battered VW van, presumably having heard a noise, to find a tiny gift wrapped box on the ground. When they open it, after some cautious hesitance from Langly’s knowledge of urban and internet legends, they find a space whistle that used to come in the “Commander Crunch” cereal boxes before the government figured out that it’s tone could crack the communications through the phone company.
But Langly jumps right away to a discovery: the tone flutter that the whistle emits matches a frequency that’s part of the waveform that was transmitted from the Medici-3 satellite. Remember the thing that fell from the sky and Mulder recovered? That one. The message had been incomplete until then, because according to Ringo, it was as if it had been redacted before the satellite crashed. However, now they could complete it. Frohike is already looking forward to being able to profit from this and to not having to continue to deal with brats wishing for presents. Byers on the other hand is cautious about it, he distrusts who could be listening for this message out there. He is of course outnumbered in this voting session.
As they play the message, now complete thank to the whistle, they start hearing weird noises outside that Frohike and Langly get to investigate, and as they step out of the van, a blinding light engulfs them and then they realize that they’re not alone.
When Byers comes looking for them, no one is to be found.
Cut to the moment before the Medici-3 satellite exploded, as a refresher of what happened back in issue #1 of Season 11. The satellite had been experiencing interference and then it exploded.
In the present, Mulder exits a plane in the snow, in Homerton, IL. Last we saw him, Gibson had manipulated the crew of the plane transporting him to DC and one of the marshals guarding him had turned out to be a faceless alien. But now he’s landed safe and sound in this abandoned airport. He finds a gift box as well. Inside, a coat, and in his mind, Gibson’s voice coaxing him to wear the garment. But Mulder is having none of it; he wants to turn himself in and go to Scully.
Before him now, Gibson won’t allow it; the faceless ones are after both of them. The man points out that the syndicate wasn’t the only group after him as a child; Mulder and Scully failed to protect him, something that haunts Mulder as much as he understands that it wasn’t only their fault or responsibility. He appeals to his “humanity”, trying to get through his head that mankind cannot be held accountable for those actions. But Gibson doesn’t really care and informs him that Mulder’s friends are in trouble so it’s in his best interest to suit up and follow him.
Two hours later, the FBI arrives at the site, but Mulder has long left and there are no signs really of what happened. There’s no flight plan, no signs that the plane was in an emergency, and AD Morales is aggravated by the unexplainable situation, specially when there are deaths involved. But Scully finds humor in it, chalking it up to a Christmas miracle. She’s fed up with the cloak and dagger, the avoidance of the subject; they both know that Gibson is involved in this.
One of the agents informs them that the co-pilot killed himself and the rest of the crew and the passenger died of injuries consistent with a plane crash, even though there wasn’t one. And then there’s the presence of the green corrosive that they can’t explain. Scully recognizes it right away, of course.
Cut to the boys; Frohike and Langly have been abducted as you probably guessed, and while the hippie is strapped to the torture chair previously used by Fox Mulder, Melvin is bent over the table also seen in “The Sixth Extinction” - this won’t end well. He’s trying to reach for his pants’ pocket when he realizes that they’re off… and there’s someone behind him… with a thing… that looks suspiciously like a probing instrument of some kind… did I tell you he’s bent over this table? I shall not describe this any further.
Meanwhile, Scully gets ready for bed at some motel in Homerton. Her phone rings and it’s a restricted number. She won’t pick up, until a text message comes through pleading she does. She barks to whoever is on the other end to not call again, but it’s Byers. He explains that he was warned not to contact her, but they’re in a bind as he explains what’s happened. He’s right outside her room and she needs to go with him, much to her skeptical chagrin. Unbeknownst to Scully, AD Morales has witnessed her departure.
Out in Edgerton County, IL, Gibson and Mulder arrive at a roadside diner. The former agent has had it with all the delay in their plans and doesn’t see the point in stopping, but his friend has other motivations. The waitress makes small chat as the news on the TV announce the terrible weather that will be arriving with Christmas Day.
Gibson grabs the woman by the hand, obviously reading her thoughts and she’s already freaking out. She’s an abductee and struggles out of his grasp, drawing the attention of the other customers who notice the struggle going on. A bearded man gets up from his booth but instead of coming to help her, he slithers out of the restaurant.
Meanwhile, Byers and Scully cruise just outside the same county when they capture a signal thanks to a scanner that he crafted to try to locate the boy’s whereabouts. As Scully points out, that whistle was definitely no gift from Santa. Then a strong signal comes in; the boys must be close. Byers rushes, but Scully warns him that they may not be the only ones looking for the abductors.
Back on the ship, now free from their binds, Frohike begrudges Langly for getting them into this mess. As they bicker, Frohike figures out that they can use the whistle to create feedback within that tone they’ve been broadcasting and drive the aliens a bit insane. And so it happens; the boys run nearby while the stunned greys come after them.
Mulder and Gibson walk in the snow as the first questions the younger man’s motivations. He’s sure that the faceless aliens are after him, and Mulder argues that they’re just rebels, but Gibson appears to not even listen. He knows that the ship that took the boys will be there next. Mulder questions what Gibson’s real motivation is when the mysterious bearded man comes speeding out of the shadows on a bike. And he has a flame batton. He’s one of the faceless aliens and even when Mulder pleads with Gibson to not kill this being, Gibson has resolved to do so, claiming that Mulder just doesn’t understand the atrocities that he’s seen. The alien is toast. Gibson brought him there to show him how they work, so they can move forward with his plans. But Mulder has had it, he grabs the baton and demands to know where Langly and Frohike are, and why are the rebels after them.
Just then they hear a noise; somewhere nearby Byers and Scully witness the source of it as well. Up in the ship, Frohike and Langly fear the worst as they’re cornered. Mulder and Gibson can see the ship now, and the latter philosophizes about how stars have always fascinated men. To Mulder’s amazement, this is really happening, a UFO is right there in front of him. Gibson has manipulated enough pieces to get them here.
Gibson knows that he has provoked them and more will come, and he’s prepared for the aftermath. This is apparently his Christmas present to Mulder and he leaves the former agent as he disappears into the woods.
Scully arrives at the scene, surprised that Mulder is there too. They embrace each other, while he’s still in shock after his encounter with Gibson. Byers approaches with the radar, that’s when they hear Langly and Frohike’s voices in the darkness. They seem to be confused as to what just happened. Maybe that’s for the best, given all that probing. Mulder’s memories seem to be murky as well, but he finds an envelope in his new coat and a tape for when he’s “truly ready to believe.”
As they walk back to the diner, and the boys crack a couple of jokes, Mulder and Scully claim that Gibson can’t hear them there… they feel free of his presence in their mind. Scully suggests they seize the moment. But they’re not free: AD Morales appears from the shadows - she’s probably witnessed it all. The narrator begins again; the world as they know it will change, they should enjoy it... “before the current cycle ends… before a new season of our immortal balance can be joined… let them gather their resources and lick their wounds. Allow them their appearances and their holiday lies… our moment is at hand. A new age has already begun to dawn.”
I have to say, this is one of my favorite specials. Perhaps because it didn’t make me go into a brand new reality and I’m already so invested in the narrative of Season 11, maybe because it gives a new depth to what’s been happening to them, definitely not because of the probing… I could have lived without that. Poor guys.
While I made peace with the couple of leaps in the narrative that I would have wanted to be explained further, like why did the aliens return Frohike and Langly, why were they subjects of interest past the fact that they summoned the ship with the tone or how exactly did Morales follow without Scully noticing it… now I have new questions, like how and why is it relevant that the faceless aliens are after Gibson as well. Why is this a game changer? Why did it feel like Mulder almost felt pity for the alien rebels? Could he now be walking the wild line of considering negotiating with these factions for the greater good? This could get interesting.
In terms of characterization, I enjoyed Scully the most this time around. She’s sassy and is taking no crap from an AD Morales whose motivations get murkier by the minute. On the down side, I didn’t enjoy Gibson too much this time. I feel that trying to portray his madness, sometimes it feels too vague for my liking. I also question Mulder’s helplessness at times; I know that Gibson is not a child anymore, and proven enough times he’s a dangerous one, but even when Mulder dared to confront him at the end of the issue, I felt that it should have come a bit sooner. Maybe the guilt just runs that deep.
Unfortunately, the covers this time around weren’t all that inventive, but they do follow the tradition from last year’s covers, with the red ornament. I wish they’d done something more representative. As for the art and colors inside the issue… great as always.
As you may know, this series will go on hiatus while The X-Files Revival is airing. But fear not, it is coming back. So, how many questions will get answered before then? Shoot your questions to