Previously on The X-Files, “My Struggle II”
So we are, after a year and some change of anticipating the return of The X-Files in 2017, reactions were mixed as Scully, Mulder and their associates continued to resist the seemingly inevitable annihilation of humankind. While we received half a story interspersed between wholly unrelated episodes and one helluva head scratcher of a finale, could The X-Files buckle down and recapture the magic it created 25 years(!!!) ago? In the first forty-two minutes of season two, any hope X-Philes had about the renewed potential the beloved series’ sophomore outing may have deflated swiftly.
Firstly, that oddly constructed ending that supposedly revealed the existence of aliens to the public in the midst of a global pandemic? It was all a bad dream! Seriously. Virtually all of “My Struggle II” was mostly written off as a fever dream that razed her synapses to the point that she laid near-comatose in a D.C. hospital. Creator-writer Chris Carter’s installments were arguably the more polarizing episodes of last year’s resurgence; though none of the episodes in the inaugural limited series were devoid of a through-line, the first two “Struggle” installments book-ended the experiment and created a haphazard menagerie of wayward narratives forced into The X-Files’ impassive arc about a vast alien conspiracy.
Would this patchwork design of high concept metaphysics, monsters-of-the-week and the ever present mega conspiracy be prevalent in season eleven? Given the frenzy and volatile pacing of the premiere, The X-Files may be tumbling further down the rabbit hole by coalescing current show history with overworked plot lines from mythology past.
Simply put, nothing about “My Struggle III” felt solid. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson did their darndest to piece together a cogent episode; and the return of Chris Owens as the not-so-deformed Jeffrey Spencer was a pleasant addition to the mania that unfolded Wednesday night.
Just when viewers believe they recovered from the breakneck insanity that’s unfurling before our distressed eyes, Carter drops a whopper of a bomb for what solely appears to be shit’s sake: William Mulder is NOT Fox’s son… he’s the experimental spawn of Cigarette Smoking Man. Not even Maury Povich would have believed the results of this paternity test. I’m certain the handful of X-Philes apologists out there on the fringes will pull some allegorical theory from the aether and claim Fox, Jeffrey and William are some kind of grotesque trinity designed to ensure humanity’s survival against the alien menace. Problem is these aliens – the greys, the bounty hunters, Black Oil, genetically modified bees and wheat, and super soldiers – the series’ enduring harbingers of doom are no longer on the show’s purview.
Even the aliens and their sinister heralds have lost interest in colonizing in this confounding, convoluted earth.
The main problem I believe many of us longtime fans have is a gaping lack of purpose for the show’s revival. Carter finally stripped away the series’ undying story arc about world domination by an ancient, otherworldly force and its various derivatives manifest therein practically a single line uttered by a former conspirator. 9 seasons of preventing the apocalypse… out the window just like that. Granted, this is what some fans wanted to happen (or at very least fine tuned) during the series’ heyday, yet Carter and the writing staff persisted.
Now that Scully and Mulder were given a soft reset in regards to their motivations, the premise of an impending plague – a rather banal and unimaginative device – that is designed to eradicate a majority of humankind seems shaky at best.
I want to believe in this season. Truly, I do.
The truth of the matter is this grand experiment so far hasn’t shown lasting returns as it slowly chips away at the once-elevated nostalgia of X-Files’ original run.