After last week’s installment of The X-Files, I was concerned that Chris Carter wouldn’t be able to stick the landing for this six-episode event series.
And that concern, unfortunately, was realized with the muddled mess that was “My Struggle II.”
Beginning things with a voice-over monologue by Scully of things we learned just five weeks ago is not a good sign. Pile on the typical mythology trope of separating our two heroes for much of the episode and then wrapping it all up with little or no closure and a cliffhanger ending and you’ve got — well, you’ve got a mess that was the final few seasons of this show.
Watching the episode on my DVR, I kept pausing things, thinking — oh great, it’s going to run over and I didn’t pad the recording time enough so that I’ll see how this all winds up. Except that Carter wasn’t really interested in giving us resolution so much as he was about trying to keep us on the edge of our seats, not give us any answers and then leave us wanting more.
And dammit, assuming the show does come back in some form, I’ll watch. But I’ll be far more reluctant about it this time. It feels like in five weeks we covered my entire relationship with the series the first time around — enthusiasm at first, slowly replaced by a sense of dread and then just stark disbelief at how poorly things were going.
On many levels, it feels like Carter and company put a lot of balls in the air and dropped a lot of them. Key among them was Mulder’s apparent depression and treatment for it. I felt like this could or should have played a bigger role in the reasons Scully figured Mulder wouldn’t answer a call from her. And that maybe we’d see that Tad O’Malley was feeding Mulder’s off-meds paranoia in his sudden return to his Internet talk show.
So, the entire syndicate plan was to eradicate humanity because the aliens warned them we were destroying our planet. They did this by compromising our immune systems by way of the smallpox vaccines — that is except for a select few who are given alien DNA and will be allowed to survive to do …. well, I’m not exactly clear on that. Among those surviving was, of course, Scully. Among those offered survival was Mulder — who refuses because it’s CSM offering the cure.
Yes, CSM is alive and well. Because apparently a rocket launched at him in a cave just won’t kill him. I’m not quite sure how exactly he survived — and I kept expecting Carter to give us something like CSM had some of the alien/human hybrid DNA in him that allowed him to survive a rocket to the face. Alas, it ended up feeling a lot like Doctor Who in the 80’s when there was literally no death from which the Master couldn’t escape and return a few stories later to cackle with glee over his latest plan. And really all that was missing from CSM in the episode was a Snidley Whiplash mustache for him twist as he cackled and info-dumped his portion of the plan to Mulder.
Meanwhile, Scully finds the cure is hidden inside her and we have to include Einstein and Miller from last week because….well, I guess Carter wants to spin them off into the Next Generation of X-Files. And while Einstein challenging Scully on her increasing paranoia and incredible leaps of logic worked at first, it quickly got old. I can’t help but think if Mulder is cured, he’s going to give Scully a look like “see, it really does get old fast, doesn’t it?”
I haven’t even got to Monica Reyes inclusion in this storyline yet. Now my recall of the final days of the series is fuzzy and maybe when I finish my re-watch this piece of the puzzle will become clearer but I have to wonder — what in the wide, wide world of sports did CSM have on Reyes that would make her help him? I get that part of it is that he wants to ensure her survival and offers to let her be one of the chosen few in the end? But would she choose that and would it be consistent with the character we met in seasons eight and nine? Again, my recall of that era is fuzzy, but I can’t help but feel like Reyes wouldn’t necessarily choose to side with CSM if only her own life were to be saved.
Of course, maybe guilt over that is what led her to become the latest informant to bring Mulder and Scully secret information. I couldn’t help but feel like that it was a really big piece of lazy scripting on Carter’s part here and that he simply had no idea how to put Scully on the right track to the cure without an insider of some kind. And bringing up Clint Howard’s informant from the first part of the season in the opening “catch-up” didn’t help much. I really expected that he might be the one to give Scully the piece of the puzzle she was missing.
Alas, it’s not to be. And then it all ends with our heroes on a bridge, Mulder in bad shape and an alien space shape hovering overhead. Apparently Mulder is so far gone that only William can help him now (which begs the question of why not at least give Miller an IV of the cure before he gets worse or use it to stabilize Mulder long enough to try and track down William). And we’re left wondering if humanity will survive and what the cost might be.
I can’t imagine CSM is very happy at having his new master race plan thwarted. And honestly should it have been that easy to thwart this masterplan that he and the aliens spent fifty plus years putting into motion?!?
Oh, my goodness. I’m really disappointed with how this all turned out.
And now a few random thoughts..
- Watching the finale, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of Chris Carter’s three offerings was recycled from his failed Amazon series. I only watched the pilot and it’s been a while but it feels like the two share some of the same DNA (all joking aside)
- So, only Miller could think of using the phone locator software to find Mulder?!? Come on.
- Anyone else have a feeling that Miller would turn out to be a new version of Krychek?
- I’d gladly give up some of the Tad O’Malley scenes to get more screen time for Skinner
So, that’s about it for now. I’m sure Barry and I will have a LOT to discuss on this one when we record the episode focusing on this one. And maybe with some time and perspective, I’ll come around.
But I honestly don’t think that’s going to happen….