The X-Files season 11 hit the ground running in a big way, dropping major reveals in the first ten minutes that completely redefine the show's history, and set things up for an exciting (if not mind-bending) eleventh season.
Besides finally revealing the identity and origin of the mysterious "Cigarette Smoking Man," the season 11 premiere also retconned the events of the controversial season 10. Here's how:
The X-Files season 10 finale, "My Struggle II", saw Mulder fatally infected with the alien pathogen and dying on the 14th street bridge as Scully and Miller tried to save him - only for the trio to be approached by a UFO. Needless to say, fans have been eagerly wondering and theorizing where that cliffhanger would lead - but the season 11 premiere quickly smashes fan expectation.
Instead of picking up right after the cliffhanger of season 10, X-Files season 11 opens as if the events of season 10 didn't happen, with Dana Scully found collapsed on the floor from a sudden seizure. When taken to the hospital and questioned, a half-delirious Scully recounts the final events of season 10 to Mulder as a prophecy: apparently the events of season 10 are a potential future timeline, and Scully now has advanced warning of what the fate of both Mulder and the world will be, if the Cigarette Smoking Man has his way.
On the one hand, it's an easy and compelling set up for season 11: Mulder and many other people will die, unless Mulder and Scully prevent the outbreak of the pathogen. On the other hand, though, this twist pretty much invalidates what we saw in season 10. That includes the badly-burned version of the CSM, Mulder's infection, as well as the roles that O'Malley (Joel McHale), Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) and Agent Miler (Robbie Amell) played in the storyline. It also invalidates the UFO cliffhanger by excluding the need for any answers, and the entire nature of Mulder and Scully's son, William.
The overwhelming majority of X-Files fans didn't really enjoy the events of season 10, so this soft-retcon will probably be viewed as a welcome "return to form" move by the showrunners. However, for those fans who invested heavily in watching season 10, and discussing their many fan theories online for weeks on end, this could feel like one of those classic "it was all a dream" cop-outs, that's going to generate a lot of backlash.
Of course, it could all be a red herring: there are already hints that the events of The X-Files season 11 premiere could be taking place in an alternate timeline. Guess we'll see where this goes.
The X-Files season 11 will air Wednesdays at 8/7c on Fox.