A Few Thoughts On The X-Files 10.6 “My Struggle II”


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(WARNING: This review will contain spoilers.)

I have to admit that, after I finished watching the finale of The X-Files “revival,” I felt totally and completely confused.  I wasn’t really sure what I had just seen and I don’t mean that in a good way.  I wondered if maybe, as a relatively new viewer of The X-Files, I simply did not have the necessary background information to follow the episode’s plot.  And then I wondered if maybe I just had not been paying enough attention while I was watching.  Maybe I was too ADD to follow an episode of The X-Files…

So, I rewatched the episode.  I made sure to sit right in front of the TV and to turn on the closed captioning so that I would be able to understand what everyone was mumbling about.  During the second viewing, I came to understand just why exactly I had been so confused.  To say that the editing of My Struggle II was ragged would be an understatement.  It was often difficult to figure out how much time had passed between scenes or where the characters were in relation to one another.  The whole episode felt as if it had been haphazardly constructed, with scenes randomly tossed together.  But then again, that’s been true of the entire season.  Even the better episodes have shared that ragged quality.  The parts, as good as they have occasionally been, have rarely added up to a coherent whole.  I imagine that, if you were a fan of The X-Files before the revival, you might have enough of an emotional commitment, in Mulder and Scully as characters, that you can overlook the revival’s weaker moments.  But for a new viewer, like me, it can get frustrating.

This has been a very uneven season.  Season 10 was made up of 6 episodes, each of which seemed to have a totally different tone and outlook from the other.  There’s been one great episode (Mulder & Scully Meet The Weremonster), one terrible episode (My Struggle), one mediocre episode (Babylon), and two episodes that were above average but nothing special (Founder’s Mutation, Home Again).  For the first 40 minutes or so, I thought that My Struggle II would be another mediocre episode.  But, towards the very end, things started to get better.  After spending most of the episode separated from each other, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson finally got to share a scene.  (The only time that Duchovny and Anderson seem truly invested in their roles is when they’re playing off of each other.  Each brings out the best in the other.)  And the scene ended with a cliffhanger that was so batshit crazy that, almost despite my better instincts, I found myself saying, “Yes, give us a season 11 because I have to know what just happened!”

And really, thank God for that cliffhanger.  A good final scene can make up for so much.  My Struggle II opens with Mulder missing and, it’s a sign of that ragged editing that I mentioned earlier, that I wasn’t sure how long he had been missing or who exactly was aware that he was missing.  It turns out that Mulder’s missing because he’s busy driving to South Carolina so he can confront the Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis), the big villain from the show’s original run.  Apparently, the CSM is aware that humanity is about to be wiped out by an alien plague but he has a cure and he wants Mulder to join him and a few others that he has judged worthy of survival.

Meanwhile, Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) is back!  When we last heard, Tad had vanished and his web site had been shut down.  And yet, at the start of this episode, Tad has suddenly returned and his web site is once again active.  No mention is made of where O’Malley has been and nobody — not even Scully — seems to be curious about the details.  Maybe O’Malley was never really missing in the first place.  It’s hard to tell with this show.

Anyway, the main reason that Tad shows up is so that he can announce, during his podcast, that humanity’s DNA has been corrupted with alien DNA and, as a result, everyone is essentially a walking time bomb.  This, of course, leads to rioting in the streets which is … odd.  I mean, let’s be honest.  He may look like Joel McHale and his show may be surprisingly well-produced but, ultimately, Tad is just a guy with a podcast.  As I watched the original world react to Tad’s podcast, it occurred to me that Season 10 may be airing in 2016 but it still has a 2002 sensibility.

Working with Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), Scully is able to use her DNA to create a cure for the virus.  I’m not sure how that works but, in all fairness to The X-Files, this may be one of those plot points that would make more sense to me if I had watched more of the previous seasons of the show.  By this point, Mulder has returned from confronting the CSM and is on the verge of dying from the virus.  Scully announces that, in order to cure Mulder, they have to get DNA from their son William but she’s not sure where he is and…

AND THAT’S WHEN A BIG OLD FLYING SAUCER APPEARS IN THE SKY ABOVE!

And, as frustrated as I had been with My Struggle II, I cheered a little when that UFO showed up.  Ever since this revival started, I have been predicting that William would return.  Now, I don’t know for sure who is in that flying saucer but seriously, it has to be William, doesn’t it?  I mean, who else would it be?  As frustrated as I have often been with The X-Files, I ended My Struggle II wanting a season 11 because I want to know who is in that flying saucer.

And, ultimately, I guess that has to be counted as a point in the show’s favor.  When a show can be as flawed as The X-Files has been this season and still leave the viewer hoping for more, that has to be considered a success of some sort.

So, my final verdict on My Struggle II: Uneven but intriguing when it mattered.  I think the same can be said of Season 10 as a whole.

Will The X-Files return for an 11th season?  Well, if it doesn’t, there will be a lot of disappointed people on twitter.  Assuming the show does return and that William is on that flying saucer, can we all start calling him “Sculder?”

Seriously, I’ve been trying to make Sculder a thing for a while now…

Lovecraft Done Right : “The Thing On The Doorstep”


Trash Film Guru

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It’s no secret to anyone and everyone who follows this site that Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ 12-part comics series Providence has sparked your humble host/author off on a major H.P. Lovecraft kick the likes of which I haven’t been on since my early 20s when I first started getting into his work, and my thirst for HPL-based cinematic offerings is well-nigh insatiable at this point. We’ve taken a look at some of the good (Cool Air) and some of the bad (The Tomb) in recent months around these parts, and I’m pleased to report that just the other night I discovered an unassuming little shot-on-HD no-budget gem that definitely falls under the “good” category : director Tom Gliserman’s 2014 adaptation of The Thing On The Doorstep.

Now, I can’t claim to know much of anything about Gliserman and the other folks behind this project…

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Artist Profile: Benicio (1936– )


Brazilian artist Jose Luiz Benicio de Fonseca (better known as simply Benicio) trained to be a pianist but eventually discovered that his true love was illustration.  Since moving to Rio de Janeiro and starting his career in 1953, Benicio has painted thousands of paperback covers and more than 300 film posters.  The prolific Benicio is best known for painting the covers of a series of books about super spy Brigitte Montfort.

A few of his paperback covers and film posters can be found below.  You can see more of his work at his site.

1600 Pennsylvania AvenueAmerican Organization

Asamblea MortalEl Hombre Que Ya MurioLas Luuvias de KristanarO Telefone Cor De RosaSe Venda Un PaisUma Espia Orbitaz -- A Super Femeaz -- Anna Terraz -- Costinhaz -- Dona Flor

Film Review: The Red Dress (dir by Leif Bristow)


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As I was watching The Red Dress, I found myself thinking that it had to be one of the most deliberately paced Lifetime film that I had ever seen.  It moved slowly, taking its time to tell its story and, as far as I could tell, attempting to build up a certain atmosphere of existential doom.  (In many ways, it reminded me of the trailer for Angelina Jolie’s By The Sea.)  It really wasn’t paced right for TV but that’s probably because it really wasn’t made for TV.

From the occasionally blanked out lines of dialogue to a blurred hint of sideboob, it was obvious that The Red Dress was a theatrical film that somehow ended up making its American premiere on the Lifetime Movie Network.  What would have worked just fine when watched in one uninterrupted 90 minute viewing worked less well when stretched out to two hours and frequently interrupted by commercials for Liberty Mutual Insurance.  The film, itself, frequently plays with time and makes heavy use of flashbacks.  It’s not necessarily a complicated story but it’s still one that requires a bit of concentration.  It’s not always easy to concentrate when you have to deal with a commercial about an insane person who named her car Brad.

As for the story that the movie tells, Patricia (Rachel Skarsten) and Rainer (Callum Blue) are young, rich, married, and maybe in love.  Of course, Patricia did have an affair with Rainer’s business partner, James (Sean Maguire).  And, after Patricia announced that she was pregnant, Rainer did start to feel like “an appendage.”  As for the baby, it died in a mysterious fire that may or may not have been arson.

With Patricia in a deep depression, Rainer suggests that they move to a beachfront house in Malta.  It’s here that Rainer can spend all of his time floating in the pool and Patricia can deal with the constant nightmares that make it impossible for her to sleep.  At times, being in Malta seems to bring the spark back to their marriage.  But then there are other times when Patricia suspects that Rainer is keeping a secret from her.

And then there’s the mysterious girl who Patricia keeps seeing.  The girl seems to always be heading towards a castle that lies in the distance, lit up with a crimson glow that makes it seem like it belongs in a Jean Rollin film or maybe Inception‘s Limbo.  Patricia suspects that the girl may have been kidnapped by the mysterious local hunter, Angelo (John Rhys-Davies).  Rainer, however, seems to believe that the solution to everything is for Patricia to take more pills.

The Red Dress doesn’t really work as a film, largely because Rainer and Patricia are such unlikable characters that you really don’t care what happens to them.  Far too often, they put the idle into idle rich.  As well, the film’s final twist is not as much of a surprise as the film seems to think it is.  You’ll see it coming.  That said, I did like the look of a film.  Malta is a great location and the film takes advantage of that fact.

As for the film’s title, it refers to a dress that Patricia wears in a few of the flashbacks.  And you know what?  It is a really nice dress.