Despite last night’s meager return for The X-Files, I’m still genuinely excited about the rest of the season. I have more faith right now in stand alone X-Files stories than the continuing mythology episodes. “My Struggle III” doesn’t provide many answers to last season’s cliffhanger ending, but it’s still rife with melodramatic dialogue and narration, haphazard plotting, and nonsensical global doom. But hey, they had to wrap this narrative up somehow, right?
Season ten ended with a biological apocalypse on the rise, Mulder dying, and Scully standing in the light beam of an alien spaceship. Everything was chaos, the government conspiracies and experiments merely hinted at in the original series coming to fruition in an instant, all put into motion by the Cigarette Smoking Man (CSM). Scully, desperate not just to save everyone with her own alien DNA, but to also find her son William, whose stem cells would be the only thing to save Mulder… or something. “My Struggle III” course corrects, explaining what we saw were just visions Scully was having of what’s to come. Scully spends most of the hour in the hospital, pleading with Mulder and Skinner to find CSM and to find her son, who she determines is the one who’s sending her the visions. William being the center of everything is a nice way to tie him into the narrative without diverging from the main plot with family drama.
Mulder seems to be on the fence with Scully’s explanation, but circumstances have him inadvertently pursuing fate as he follows someone to South Carolina, same as “My Struggle II.” In one of the better twists of the evening, Mulder does not find CSM, but two other shady people: former Syndicate members who tell Mulder they want him to kill CSM. Meanwhile, CSM and Monica Reyes, whose role in all of this is still unclear, corner Skinner. That biological meltdown of everyone’s immune systems is going to happen and Skinner will be saved, as long as he betrays Mulder and Scully and finds their son. In the same scene, we learn William is actually CSM’s son, flashing back to scenes from the season seven episode, “En Ami,” when CSM and Scully went on a road trip. This is when he apparently impregnated Scully (“With science, Mr. Skinner. Alien science”).
This definitely rates as one of the creepier developments in X-Files history and one I’m not too happy about. It’s more convolution and retconning than the show needs right now, not to mention the ramifications of Scully being violated once again in this show. There’s still a chance CSM is lying. It seems like something he would lie about, but for now the revelation is the one dark spot for me in this new season.
The episode does open with an interesting narration by CSM. It’s mostly him justifying himself about how he’s saving the world, but the images he talks over do the most damage. Stills and clips from Trump’s campaign and inauguration and other recent political rallies bring this consipiracy-minded show into our reality. In our current political climate, this type of poke at the real world gives the events unfolding on screen a little more weight, and in that regard, Chris Carter does a great job. Even though he gets lost in the details, this still feels like a great time for The X-Files.
So what does all of this mean? The idea behind “My Struggle III” was interesting, bringing the shady dealings of the original series on a national scale, but the execution was terrible. Backtracking and a ten-episode order might give the show time to pace it out around the monster-of-the-week episodes. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are still game, much more so than in the first installment of this “My Struggle” series. The energy is there. We’ll see how long it lasts.
- Spender returns! And then disappears. He’s the only who knows where William is, so he’ll probably be back.
- One thing I definitely do not miss — Chris Carter waxing poetry and philosophy in Mulder’s narration. “The sound of drums in my heart” or some nonsense like that.
- After doing away with the events of “My Struggle II,” “My Struggle III” literally ends with Scully and Mulder deciding the only thing to do is wait. A lot of build up, zero follow through. Ah, well. Bring on that episode with forehead sweat in the title.