Recaps

The X-Files “My Struggle II” Leaves a Wicked Cliffhanger

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

So, I was coming home from a trip to Canada for Killjoys and Dark Matter (goodies coming this summer!) and found myself unable to watch The X-Files live Monday night. I started it in the Toronto airport, and was really glad I didn’t finish it there because I definitely would have been booted when I got to the end and realized THERE’S NO CLOSURE. And, there was also only one scene with Mulder and Scully together, at the very, very end, which is a complete misread of their audience.

The first clue that this episode was going to be a bit of a different animal is that Carter shared story credit with three doctors. Then we open with an MIA Mulder and a back-on-the-air Tad O’Malley, who’s returned with a Defcon 1 warning about an impending pandemic.  Scully pairs up with Einstein to try to see what they can do, and in a rapid-fire succession of secret revealing, Scully tells Einstein about her alien DNA and they set about working on a vaccine from Scully’s blood–after realizing that not everyone has that component, a redirect from the earlier implication that they were given it. Instead, they were all infected via vaccinations loaded with various viral components.

Scully’s also visited upon by an unexpected blast from the past in Agent Reyes, who tells Scully that she’s essentially been in bed with CSM since he blew himself up all those years ago because he warned her of what was coming and offered her sanctuary from it if she fell in line. Scully is horrified, especially when compounded with the news that she herself was already protected because of her DNA tweaking, but Mulder wasn’t. Reyes tells her CSM sent an emissary to Mulder’s to offer him protection, and Scully already knows that ended badly because she discovered Tad at Mulder’s trashed house.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Then we get the POV of what happened when said emissary arrived at Mulder’s. After they beat the shit out of each other, Mulder drives himself to CSM, but he’s already in the throes of the Spartan Virus that’s designed to weed out the ones who didn’t make CSM’s velvet rope cutline, which was set in motion years ago. By the time he gets there and pulls a gun on CSM, he can barely stand. They get in a few verbal jabs at each other, including CSM telling Mulder he’s the ticket to living a life with his beloved Scully, until Mulder finally collapses.

Thankfully, Miller has been dispatched by Scully to find him, which he does, because, of course, 2016 Mulder would have a find my phone app on his laptop (somehow I don’t think he actually would, but let’s go with it). He locates him, gets him the hell out of there as CSM weirdly tells him to tell Fox goodbye for him, and then drives like a bat out of hell back into the city as Mulder starts to fail.

After an initial DNA check of Scully reveals no alien DNA, she and Einstein take a larger sample and the anomaly reveals itself the same as before. Scully starts a vaccine batch and presumably gets Einstein, who had also started to fail, back on her feet. Then she races to the freeway to find Miller and Mulder, after driving on the sidewalk through downtown and yelling at people to take a break from looting atand whatnot to find a hospital because there is a cure. Tad repeats that same message on his show.

The last ten minutes or so have Scully and Miller on their cell phones trying to find each other. The last scene is a bit like the gridlock evac scenes in ID4, Deep Impact, etc. They get out of their cars and Scully sees Miller and runs to him. By the time she reaches him, she realizes Mulder, who is terribly relieved to finally see her and that she is OK, is past the point of a vaccine being any help. She tells Miller as much, and that Mulder needs stem cells.

He asks how, and she blurts out that she and Mulder have a son together, but she doesn’t know where he is. While Miller’s WTFing that piece of information, one of the stealth not-quite-alien ships zooms in and hovers over them. Then the green spotlight zeroes in on Scully as she looks up at it. And, Fin.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

ARE YOU KIDDING?

Ragey isn’t the exact right word for what I felt. I laughed because I felt like maybe, perhaps, Carter had assumed S11 (or whatever we’re calling the follow-on to this) would’ve already been confirmed so it wasn’t a total rug pull. As of press time, that still hasn’t been announced. There’s also the fact that the infamous title card was changed from “The Truth Is Out There” to “This Is the End,” when it clearly wasn’t.

Aside from rebooting the “OMG they killed Mulder” shenanigans that The X-Files was always very good at wink nudging is the basic fact that we had a fixed set of minutes in which to wrap up this six-episode event, and threatening Mulder’s life again, and separating the two leads, on whom the entire thing hinges, was a disappointing misuse of the precious little time left to complete this story. If this had been a midseason finale, fine, but as a final piece of a six-hour puzzle, no.

My first thought was about how long it might take to bring everyone back together, as Carter expects and hopes to do. Compounding the Duchovny/Anderson availability now is the schedule of the increasingly busy Amell. I have to wonder whether FOX outright released everyone, or whether they’re on a temporary hold post-dated for a fixed four months 2017-ish.

In the New York Times interview with Carter linked above, he says the cliffhanger was always the plan, and that’s unfortunate because I certainly didn’t expect something like that. And my hindsight perception of the series conflicts with his that they always ended on a cliffhanger. I don’t think of the show that way, so that must mean I never felt like the world of the show was genuinely in peril.

In the case of this particular cliffhanger, I’m sure they’ll get out of it some way or another, but until they do, I really don’t want to think of them standing on that freeway, waiting and waiting. I’m sure the “where’s William” thing will resolve pretty quickly because frankly, there’s no point in coming back if we’re going to spend multiple episodes looking for him while Mulder lingers in a comatose state. Hard pass on that scenario.

Let’s judge the season on the five episodes prior, then, shall we? In that context, I’m very happy we came back around to these characters and this world, and that we got the balance of funny/horrifying/procedural/heartbreaking that they do very, very well. I’m glad we confirmed they could come back and recapture all of that, and that Anderson and Duchovny (and Pileggi and Davis) could effortlessly slide back into these roles. I’ll let y’all decide individually whether they should have. My answer to that is yes. I have missed them. I loved having them back.

While we wait to see what’s next, I’ll think of Mulder and Scully holding hands in a field, with Mulder hearing trumpets. I’m good to leave them there.

Thank you for reading! The X-Files six-episode event is on FOX.com, and the nine previous seasons and two films are available on DVD and multiple streaming services.

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