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Warning: major spoilers ahead for the second episode of The X-Files Season 11, called "This."
The X-Files has a long history of finding unexpected ways to bring characters back from seeming deaths, ranging from the Cigarette-Smoking Man not actually dying despite being engulfed by flames to Mulder literally being buried alive and the dug up months later to be revived. Now, in Season 11, the show has found a way to bring back a character who seemed just about as dead and gone as gone could be: Ringo Langley. All three members of the Lone Gunmen seemed pretty definitively dead when they sacrificed themselves to stop a bio-weapon back in Season 9 of The X-Files, and Scully stated early in "This" that their bodies had been incinerated. Nevertheless, Langley managed to reach out to Mulder via smartphone, and the way he pulled it off was pretty crazy.
As it turns out, Langley had figured out a way to make sure that he lived beyond his death way back before he was killed in Season 9. We just didn't know that he'd done it at the time. He and his secret lady love Karah Hamby each uploaded their consciousness to a digital world in which they would begin sentient simulated lives to continue their work once they perished in the real world. It was a surprisingly trusting move from a longtime member of the paranoid Lone Gunmen group, but his desire to live on with Karah motivated him to gamble on the makers of the digital world having altruistic motives. Karah explained what happened to Mulder and Scully like this:
They came to us fifteen years ago with the science and the math to prove that we could live forever. The contract states we can live out our natural lives and we could continue our work after we die... They brought us to a facility and over a two-week period they scanned and copied the salient features of our biological brain. They uploaded us into a simulation. The two minds could never exist at once. Our simulated selves would come into consciousness in that life once we died in this... He entrusted me in case he discovered that they had lied about life in the simulation, and if Richard is reaching out then they must have. We wanted a life eternal together. So we took the deal. But we theorized what to do if it was not what they had offered. How would that life know it was a simulation? There would be cheats. The stars and the moon, they wouldn't be fully realized. The background people wouldn't be fully rendered. They'd constrict the use of technology, of two-way contact to control them. But Richard being Richard hacked a way to reach out.
Unfortunately for Langley and Karah -- who was shot to death shortly after explaining the situation to Mulder and Scully -- the folks behind the simulated world had indeed misled them about what life after death entailed. After the digital Langley was able to make contact once again with the dynamic duo, he explained that those who controlled the world were using the theoretical work of the brilliant minds within the simulation to advance their own nefarious goals in the real world. He revealed that one of the mysterious group's goals was to establish space colonization, which brought Erika Price into the mix. Langley asked Mulder and Scully to destroy the digital world.
After Mulder and Scully managed to infiltrate the building that housed the servers for the digital world, Mulder was captured and taken to Price. She had a reveal of her own, as she explained to Mulder that her group was already using smartphones to map the brains of everybody who used such technology. The population as a whole was being primed to be uploaded after their deaths, which... is super dark. Luckily, Scully had avoided capture, and she ultimately was able to destroy the servers. Sadly, a message from Langley at the end indicates that there's a cache of backup servers somewhere, and the bad guys managed to clean up the evidence before Mulder and Scully could prove anything, but this was still a win for the good guys.
They do still have plenty to worry about and lots more questions to be answered, not the least of which concern the Cigarette-Smoking Man's claim that he's the father of Scully's child. Tune in to Fox on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET to catch new episodes of The X-Files, and don't forget to take a look at our midseason TV premiere guide and 2018 Netflix schedule.