TV and Film

The X-Files: ‘My Struggle II’… One Year On

My Struggle II
Copyright: Ed Araquel/Fox

Seriously Carter another opening monologue?! I get it, it’s Scully’s ‘Struggle,’ and her face morphing into an alien is actually quite cool. But in a forty three minute episode that needs to justify returning to and changing an already convoluted mythology arc, it’s an epic waste of time. And the first example of why the series needs a new showrunner.

I’m so glad that the colonisation actually happened this time and at its best, this episode feels like the third movie. At least that’s something Carter got right.

But like with My Struggle, it’s all rushed. Only this time you could rapidly blink ten times and you’d miss even more. It’s too quick and no tension is built. After finding the sick Soldier, suddenly there’s an epidemic in what feels like a millisecond and then a cure, and then… Well let’s break it down.

What’s really hard to believe is how Scully knows immediately what’s going on and what’s coming next. Only six weeks ago she was shaking her head refusing to believe any of it. Clearly Mulder explained it all to her off screen, so for our viewing delight she explains it all to us and Mini Mulder and Scully.

Speaking of those CW clones, why the hell did Carter bring Einstein and Miller back?! They were fine in my fantasy Darrin Morgan episode (that has no trace of Babylon in it). But bringing them into the actual mythology renders their existence important and it’s not necessary. While they have more to do in this episode, their main purpose is to simply ask Scully questions and for her to respond with expositional answers.

And what’s even worse is that they’re the wrong characters for these scenes – their roles could have been done by Reyes and Skinner.

I liked Reyes and I’m even gutted that Agent Doggett didn’t come back. But working for the Cigarette Smoking Man and protected from the coming virus feels totally out of character. I don’t believe she would be that selfish. And what stuns me more, (I don’t why, it is Chris Carter we’re talking about) is that there was no indication of a motive. But, all would have been forgiven if she’d helped Scully with the vaccine. Oh and while I’m at it, Scully should have then used it on a patient, maybe even the Solider, you know, to see if it worked! But that would involve too much common sense wouldn’t it Carter!

And then there’s Skinner. Aw poor Skinner. For some reason he now runs the FBI despite the fact aliens took it over in the original series finale. Oh sorry, there aren’t aliens now. Regardless, he’s underused in this series. Mitch Pilegi performs he as though as he has no reason to be there. His appearances are basically cameos just to have Skinner back – exactly like in the second movie. But, he should have been the one to search for Mulder, not Miller. And can you imagine him coming face to face with the Cigarette Smoking Man. Missed a trick there Carter! As always.

Speaking of old Smokey  – wow they really needed to explain that one. But they didn’t. Yes Carter you hate to spoon-feeds us, but being bandaged up in a hospital bed is not enough explanation. He literally blew to smithereens in 2002! And now made up of plastic and maybe alien DNA, who the hell knows, he’s back and we can’t question it.

To be fair, William B Davis delivers as always and actually plays him like a psychopath who’s drunk on power. And we finally learn his motivate. After all these years, we finally learn why the hell he’s been involved in this shebang. The idea of him helping to destroy the world because the aliens predicted our downfall actually works and gives some sense of closure. But the new mythology still makes no sense. What about all those aliens we saw years ago. We still have to believe that it was a ‘smokescreen.’

O’Malley is put to no use except for exposition. His videos are blatant attempts to explain the virus and would have been fine had we got know him better as a character.

As for Mulder and Scully, and even Duchovny and Anderson, they really suffer in this episode. He’s beaten up and spends the rest of the episode either pointing a gun at old Smokey before his arms go numb, or on the brink of death. And Saint Scully learns she’s one of the ‘chosen elite’ and uses her alien DNA as a vaccine. It’s a fine solution and she explains the science behind in a way I could understand. But it’s done within the space of five minutes because saving the entire population is obviously a piece of cake.

But once again, they’re seaprated in this episode. They’re chemistry is the only thing that still works 100% and yet they’ve barely been together in any of Carter’s episodes. Here they’re apart until the very last scene.

Oh God, that final scene. My heart raced when she mentioned their ‘child’ and a second later a UFO appears above her head. It’s obviously William. Would he abduct? Or blow her up like Sveta? I got so excited.

And then… cut to the credits. The final shot might as well have been Carter lifting his middle finger.

So not only have they got the audacity to hype up William’s importance throughout this season, and for us not to see him – but we end on a cliff-hanger! A year on, the bafflement is still there. Yes the ratings were high, but there was no guarantee it wouldn’t tank, and they still went ahead and teased us further.

The solution to all these problems? Season 10 should have been a serialised story. This episode is full of the important moments that should happen in the latter half of the Season, but is instead done in one episode.

People have referred to Carter as the George Lucas of the series and it’s not hard to see why.  It’s not just the appalling dialogue; ‘Mulder need stem cells in him right now.’ Even Anderson couldn’t save that one. Or his structure. Or his ability to understand continuity.

For me what really stands out is demonstrated by Carter’s reaction to the unsurprisingly bitter reaction to this episode. In an interview, he admits shock by the fans anger – as this is The X-Files and a cliff-hanger is always what we do.

And this is the problem. Like Lucas, Carter has simply lost touch with the audience and won’t engage with they want. He’s become self-indulgent and his claims of caring about the fans is questioned with what he delivers.

This is the End would have been a great teaser – if it was. One year on, a Season 11 doesn’t seem to be any closer. Scheduling is once again the issue, and it looks as though it’ll be here in either 2018 or 2019. If it happens.

Iif it does return, apart from the hard-core fans, I doubt many viewers will. Carter has let them down for far too long.

If it is the end, it’s frustrating, but for all it’s glaring fault, it’s a much better conclusion to the franchise than the original series finale and the second movie.

I’m looking forward to watching this Season again. But next time, I’ll wear my easily pleased fan glasses.

Score: 2/5

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