The mini-series season 10 appearance of The X-Files ended on Monday with My Struggles II. The season finale felt a little like a nod to the season two finale of Millennium (Chris Carter’s other odd-ball series featuring the weird and wonderful as well as another “mother” of all conspiracy groups). The season 10 ending, besides being a cliff-hanger of course, also felt a little like a kitchen sink scenario. Carter throws it all in the mixer in the end and leaves us wondering what will come out after.
Peel away all the various mad plot threads; viruses running amok and killing all who do not have the alien DNA, the corruption of the immunity gene and even contrails. What do you have left? The three Carter “Horsemen of the Apocalypse” Dana, Fox and Cigarette Smoking Man. This triangular set of characters who stand above all the madness.
Added to this end game lunacy is aluminum being spread by those contrails, global warming, alien technology, vaccines and not one but a multitude of pandemics all on top of a conspiracy that trumps all others.
The show starts with Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) telling us who she is and a reader’s digest version of her story. In a short time Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) pops back up on the Internet like a whistle blowing “Tad-in-the-box” warning of a global pandemic that will decimate the earth’s population, beginning with those in authority; police, the military, et al.
The first step in this end-game being run by the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) starts with Anthrax vaccines running amok in soldiers with no immunity. Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) goes missing and as the sick increase in number and the hospital staff treating them start succumbing to the various viruses that surround them, Scully and Einstein race to find a cure.
My Struggle II is, in essence, one long race against time. A touch of backstory exposition is added into the mix and director Chris Carter has worked very hard to cover all his bases. There is a small shift in character arc. Dana, for instance, gets her own personal “Deep Throat” via former FBI agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish).
Sidenote: On top of Dana’s step left, Fox is now (as he has been throughout of the season) the new Scully, an almost official “doubting Mulder.”
Back to “Deep Throat” Reyes, she turns out to be more a bringer of news instead of a whistle blower. Reyes’ job is exposition, she reveals who is behind the pandemics sweeping the planet; Cigarette Smoking Man. The former fed also tells Dana that she is safe and that Fox could be as the CSM “loves him” and wants to offer him a chance to be one of the “chosen.”
The X-Files season finale allows Chris Carter, who also wrote the end episode, to bring all his chickens home to roost. Sadly, while the creator manages to touch base with all the X-File “Boogeymen” in terms of alien conspiracy, the episode drags a little.
Certainly enough that, despite the “race against time” scenario on offer, the finale feels a little over-long. This does not, however, detract from the paranoia on offer from the maestro of all things odd and upsetting within Mulder and Scully’s world.
As Dana and Einstein work frantically to come up with a cure, there are a couple of points in their journey where the viewer cannot help but doubt Einstein’s veracity. The younger red-head manages to be healthy for far too long. So long, in fact, that we begin to believe that she is a member of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s entourage.
For all the build up, finding the missing alien DNA, Mulder’s meeting with CSM, Miller trying to save Fox and so on, the end manages to feel a little rushed. Although kudos to Carter for working Mulder and Scully’s son into the the finale as a pretty important plot point for future episodes.
The ending, with a “space-ship” hovering over Miller, Dana and a dying Fox seconds after Scully explains about stem-cells (another modern boogeyman) from their son being the only thing that may save her baby daddy from dying, was on-point and clearly leaves an opening for a further season, or two, on the cards.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes moment where William B Davis’ character removes part of his face (also reminiscent of another Vincent Price moment House of Wax) was, perhaps, the highlight of the finale.
The UFO turning up at exactly the right time.
Dana meeting with Reyes a’la Mulder and his own previous “Deep Throat.”
This final episode was a grim reminder that behind all the humor of the middle episodes, Carter’s world is full of death, conspiracy, alien technology, the Cigarette Smoking Man and an end game that only a few will survive.
The end and the beginning of this 10th season were a little morose and glum. In between, each installment contained enough gags and joviality (along with a good portion of nods and winks to older episodes and characters) that some moments felt like finely crafted vaudeville routines.
At the very least, a sort of homage to the old Crosby and Hope “road” pictures. For example, when Agents Miller and Einstein knock on the X-Files office door, in Babylon, the following dialogue takes place:
Agent Miller: “Hello? Anyone down here?”
Scully: “Nobody but the FBI’s Most Unwanted. I’ve been waiting 23 years to say that.”
Fox: “How’d it feel?”
Scully: “Pretty good.”
This little exchange feels like a well rehearsed comedy routine done more for David Duchovny’s benefit than for the viewer’s. (And seriously? If you close your eyes, it does feel like Der Bingle and Hope doing a gag.) The exchange does give the two characters a chance to reconnect though, so it makes a certain amount of sense.
In essence, The X-Files, via My Struggle II, brings us right back to the show’s bare bones, which is these three main characters, the two “good guys” and their main nemesis, Cigarette Smoking Man, and this is as it should be.
After all the original series, with Tooms, “Squeeze,” and all the other oddities of Carter’s verse which included Christmas ghosts and other strangeness aside, was really about UFO abductions and Fox’s search for the truth. A voyage of discovery that tangled Scully, Mulder and Cigarette Smoking Man into a single entity of conspiracy and paranoia.
How fitting that these three are once again tied together in the season’s beginning and finale. Well played Mr Carter, well played, even with the kitchen sink.