The X-Files is a weird show. If you’re reading this, you don’t need me to tell you that. Bringing it back for two final Event seasons was always going to be tricky. Even if it were an unequivocal return to the series’s glory days, it would always be compared to what came before. Worse, it would be compared to our memories of what came before. The idealized, nostalgia-tinted images of the best moments from the original run of the show. And memories lie to you. They convince you of a world that’s subtly different from the one that actually existed. The present forces you to deal with the reality, which is why it always looks worse than the idealized past. That’s what last night’s X-Files was about. It was a surreal, self-aware parody of the show you remember.The tone is set immediately with a slapsticky black-and-white Twilight Zone imitation. A man runs into a diner, panicking about martians. He tells the waiter that a martian is right outside the window. The waiter says that’s not a window, it’s a mirror. The man inspects the mirror more closely, revealing that he is actually a six-armed martian. And so is the waiter. From there, we go back to color as Mulder returns home from “Squatchin’,” and all I could think of was how much I’d like to go Squatchin’ with Fox Mulder. But soon, he receives a message from an unknown informant and they meet in (where else?) a parking garage. The man, named Reggie, says he’s stumbled on the greatest conspiracy in history: a single man with the power to change peoples’ memories. His proof? That Martian sketch that opened the episode is supposedly the first episode of The Twilight Zone Mulder ever saw. It’s what got him hooked on the show and eventually led him to investigate the paranormal as an FBI agent. That’s how he remembers it anyway.David Duchovny (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)Except that episode never existed. Mulder searches through DVDs, episode guides, internet wikis, but still no evidence that the episode ever existed. When Scully comes to visit, she finds him buried in a pile of his old Twilight Zone VHS tapes. Much like many X-Files fans have done with their own recordings of this show. This entire episode is a delightfully meta-story about the legacy of The X-Files the show. How we remember it, how it actually was and how both versions of the show have changed. And for all the self-examination, the episode never falls up its own ass. It keeps things light and comedic, allowing for some blunt commentary on what a show about two FBI agents means in the Trump era. Multiple times in the episode, characters quote Trump directly. Scully even makes an uncomfortable parallel between Mulder and Trump when she mentions birtherism. Trump’s rise to power began with a conspiracy theory (that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States). Mulder is in a position of authority because he wants to believe in conspiracies, though his are less overtly racist.This episode intertwines nostalgia with Fake News and the Mandela Effect. If you’re new to this whole internet business, the Mandela Effect is basically a bunch of people who misremember something in the same way, so they convince themselves that it’s evidence of either parallel universes or someone messing with their memories. It’s so named because a vocal group of people insists they remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s, when he really became the President of South Africa, had a long and impactful life and died at the age of 95 in 2013. For more about the Mandela Effect and the people who swear by it, read K. Thor Jensen’s Internet Gutter story about it. It’s fascinating. The show ties all three ideas into one, explaining why the Trump administration remember a historic turnout for his inauguration while the rest of us remember a sparsely attended affair. This is all the work of Dr. They. That’s who Reggie is talking about when he says “They” are trying to silence them.Guest star Ryan Hesp, guest star Brian Huskey and guest star Shane Dean (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)The man claims to be the former partner of Mulder and Scully, and we get a montage of an old episode, including the pilot, with Reggie poorly inserted into the scenes. It’s a reference to the show’s own habit of retconning itself by subtly changing lines and inserting characters into flashbacks of previous episodes. The premiere of this very season even did it during the Smoking Man’s revelation. What’s great is that the episode doesn’t try to tie itself to the grander mythology, but it’s not completely a throwaway gag either. Reggie is later revealed to be a mental patient. A former government employee working menial jobs for different agencies, each a greater perversion of democracy in the last. The cubical he’s sitting in doesn’t even change, just the sign on the wall. He goes from a postal worker to drone-bombing a wedding with the DOD, to waterboarding a man with the CIA, and finally listening in on Mulder and Scully’s phone conversations as a member of the NSA. That’s how he knows so much about Mulder and Scully’s past, and was able to insert himself into their old adventures.But it’s not all fake. Dr. They exists. He and Mulder have a long conversation about how he’s manipulating people’s memories to control the future. But even this scene is filled with details that point out how unreal this all is. Dr. They quotes George Orwell, but attributes it to Orson Welles. The whole scene is filmed in front of a very recognizable art piece in Vancouver, with the statues appearing to laugh at Mulder for even trying to make sense of all these mismatched memories. It’s a fourth-wall breaking moment that tells you that nothing about The X-Files is real. It’s not even filmed in Washington D.C. And if the show isn’t real, what does that say about your memories of what it used to be?Guest star Brian Huskey, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)When The X-Files was brought back for these two Event seasons, part of the goal was to tie up some loose plot threads from the original run. To give us some answers. This episode asked if we even want those answers. We came to this show for its scary monsters, its thoughtful sci-fi and its intriguing mysteries. But every mystery becomes less fun when you know the answer. That’s why, in Reggie’s retelling of their final mission together, a Segway-riding alien solves everything. And it sucks. The alien says they’ve been monitoring Earth for years and have decided they want nothing to do with humanity. So they’re going to build a big, beautiful, invisible space wall around our planet. Ha. The alien gives Mulder a book titled “All the Answers,” and he breaks down and cries. With all the answers, there’s nothing to investigate and the X-Files are meaningless. It’s a reminder that, as we search for the truth in the rest of the season, we should enjoy the mystery while we have it. And if the final episode comes and we still have questions, that’s probably a good thing. And in that spirit, the episode leaves us with one final question. As Reggie is being carried away to a mental hospital, Agent Skinner shows up. “Where are those guys taking Reggie?” Stay on target 11 Great TV Shows With Terrible EndingsBuy This Comic: The X-Files: Case Files – Flordia Man #1 Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.