(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…