The X-Files S10E06 Recap: 'My Struggle II' [Season Finale] - In Which Chris Carter Loses His Goddamn Mind
Well, that just happened.
After all the hype and a decade-long wait, The X-Files concluded its six-episode revival miniseries on a such a low note that I seriously question why we even wanted to do this to begin with. Despite building a certain amount of confidence with five episodes ranging from decent to fantastic, this finale, "My Struggle II" was so bad that it may have retroactively made those episodes worse, and the final seasons of the main series better. It was so bad that I don't know if I ever want to do it again, at least as long as Chris Carter would be involved.
Carter, the creator of The X-Files and the driving force behind the revival, should actually be ashamed of himself. He had nearly fifteen years to write these stories. Plenty of new material, current events, planetary concerns, and scientific developments to work with. He had everyone from the original series that made it great in the first place; be it the actors, led by Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, or the writers and producers, including the Morgan Brothers and James Wong. He had new ideas, new characters, new concepts to play around with.
And what does he decide to give us? An hour of incomprehensible, sloppy, angering dreck that undoes just about all the goodwill this miniseries and maybe even the show in general had built up with me lately. Capped by a cliffhanger so pointless, so inexplainable that it almost physically made me sick.
The episode picks up with Scully getting to the office to find Mulder absent. A video has been left open on his laptop, the latest from Joel McHale's Tad O'Malley, suggesting the latest doom and gloom is upon us thanks to the #ConspiracyofMan. She simultaneously gets a call from Tad, who's found Mulder's house ransacked. Scully meets with Agent Einstein and Skinner to figure out where he may have gone, but there's almost no time to deal with it, as Tad's video starts to create a panic. He's talking about how people have been injected with alien DNA from birth, how the conspiracy wants to purge the planet of humans and replace them with the elite few.
It seems crazy, but literally by the end of the day, people start getting a plethora of diseases. Anthrax, small pox, you name it, people have it. And for some reason all these already-cured diseases are suddenly incurable, people all these vaccines deteriorated people's immune systems and rendered them vulnerable to death. Someone actually refers to it as "AIDS without the HIV", for some reason. Within the span of literally a few hours, people are dropping dead from these diseases. The conspiracy has mysteriously and inexplicably accelerated their plan to purge the planet, and no one ever bothers to explain why or how, or why now. Instead, Scully and Einstein spend the bulk of the episode developing a vaccine to essentially cure death, a la Star Trek Into Darkness, using Scully's magical alien blood. Which is somehow supposed to cure everything.
Mulder, meanwhile, goes to see the Smoking Man, who for no reason at all vaguely explains to him what he's doing, that he's getting rid of humanity because of global warming. The next scene, Mulder has collapsed on the floor from being sick and the Smoking Man is yelling at him. Miller comes in to take Mulder away, but does nothing about the Smoking Man, even though he doesn't know who he is.
Scully completes the vaccine and sets out to meet Mulder and Miller. She finds them on a busy, gridlocked bridge, somehow, eyes Mulder, and decided he can't be cured without their son's stem cells, but then the aliens come, shine a green light on her and the episode ends.
THIS IS HOW THE EPISODE ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I feel as if I need to point that out for posterity. "My Struggle II" is a thing that actually exists and that I didn't make up. Watching it, I was in utter disbelief. The sloppiness of the writing, the dialog that didn't make any sense; it even seemed as if scenes were missing, as if things were cut out to make the episode even less coherent.
For a show that always prided itself on being cerebral and smart, I just don't get it. How did this happen? How was something as incoherent and mind-numbing as this allowed to get through the scripting process, yet filmed, edited, and aired on national television? It didn't make any sense. Nothing in the plot is explained, Scully's magical alien vaccine doesn't make any sense, despite the technobabble associated to how she developed to it, even the conspiracy behind it is lazily splattered on screen for viewers.
Meanwhile, this new Conspiracy of Man that he set up, which honestly had a semblance of promise in the season premiere, pretty much goes from 0 to 100 without any explanation. We're introduced to this idea of the world being manipulated by a government with access to alien DNA, yet their motivations, their reasons for doing what they do are never explained. They're ignored over most of four episodes for the sake of telling standalone stories, which is fine, but when it comes time for the finale, suddenly they've decided to end the world on a whim. Other than a brief explanation of how the Smoking Man is behind it and how he survived, there's no insight given to any of this. It just happens, and the world is suddenly on the brink of death. And our only window into what's happening is a doctor developing a cure with no resources in a hospital, a man silently seeking out vengeance with no backup, and a conspiracy theorist slowly getting sick on national television.
I'm honestly at a loss for words. Did Carter purposely sabotage his own show? Or was he really capable of putting something together that's this bad? I can't explain what happened, or how it happened. All that I'm left with is what I saw, and that's a really bad episode of television that probably should have never made it to air. If this is what Chris Carter wants his show to be, then I don't want any more of it, cliffhanger or not.
"My Struggle II" gets 0.5 conspiracy theories out of 10.
Notes & Quotes:
- I apologize if that review was as incoherent as the episode itself. There are only so many adjectives I have to describe how bad this was. I'll try to write more about the season as a whole when I calm down in a few days, but for now I'm left questioning a lot of what happened in these six episodes.
- Also that Monica Reyes cameo. How gratuitous was that? She shows up, tells Scully she's been helping the Smoking Mad stay alive for fifteen years, never elaborates on why or how she's doing what she's doing, and simply suggests that Scully can save the day.
- Fifteen years of stuff has happened since The X-Files went off the air. The show used approximately none of that in this miniseries. No insight into what the FBI investigating the paranormal would look like in a post-9/11 world other than a caricature of a terrorist. No scientific or technological advancements other than a couple of dad jokes about cellphones and the internet. The only thing Carter gave us was a line that reeked of anti-vaxxer sentiment, and the villain being sympathetic to global warming. Coupled with how Tad O'Malley is portrayed as a sincere good guy, I seriously wonder if Carter is a staunch republican and used the season to push his agenda. That's really the only explanation.
- Carter is also a terrible director. The fight scene with Mulder wasn't half bad, but many scenes were shot in that confusing and disorienting fishbowl style. Other scenes were clearly left on the cutting room floor despite being necessary for the flow of the episode. The episode itself is very condensed and small despite tackling huge matters. None of this worked.
- Did Carter require every episode to play up on this line? It was just distracting: "I don't believe you." "You don't want to believe."
- Smoking Man to Mulder: "I'll miss you dearly. You made my life worth living."
- Mulder ignores, responds, for some reason: "I'm on the king's throne. Feel's soft, just like the king."