Chris Carter has a thing for repeating titles, as “My Struggle III” will attest to (and Redux II, The Sixth Extinction II, Nothing Important Happened Today II, etc). He also has a thing for complicated plot lines no one cares about or understands (see the whole “mythology” of The X-Files), and a thing for the word platonic, which, let’s make clear from the get go, has never truly applied to Mulder and Scully.
And yet, despite all of this, and maybe – as always – because Duchovny and Anderson are still around to enchant us and, at times, distract us for what doesn’t make sense, at times it actually feels pretty darn good to have The X-Files back in our TV screens.
Even if this episode is exactly the kind of episode we didn’t really like, even back in the day.
Why, you ask? Well – let’s start at the beginning, shall we? But let us not stop there. Let us unpack all the problems (and the few bright spots) in “My Struggle III”:
WHY START WITH THE CSM?
Is anyone (other than Chris Carter, that is) under the impression we care about the CSM? That we ever have? That the confirmation that he is, indeed, Mulder’s father, means anything to us at this point? That any little part of our excitement about Season 11 has to do with learning more about him? That we want to hear about his …eh …feelings for Scully?
That the right place to pick up after that horrible cliffhanger Season 10 ended on was with a three minute rant about how this man helped shape the world?
For all the things The X-Files does right, and all the things it does wrong, the first three minutes of this episode encapsulate all that Chris Carter does badly as a screen-writer, and even as a show-runner: he believes he knows better, even in the face of hard evidence. People always watched the show in spite of the things he loved about it, not because of them, and yet, over twenty years later, Carter still doesn’t get it. He still wants the mythology to take center stage, Mulder and Scully to remain “platonic” and the show to be all about the horror/gore/suspense.
All these years later, Chris Carter still doesn’t trust his viewers to see the story he wants to tell unless he hits us in the head with it – and that’s why we, in turn, don’t trust him with the characters he created, characters who became iconic despite him, not because of him.
WHY IS SCULLY ALWAYS IN THE HOSPITAL? For that matter, WHY IS SHE ACTING SO UN-SCULLY LIKE?
Is it a fetish for you, Chris? She’s been sick/in the hospital for so much of the run of this show that I don’t even get a thrill at seeing Mulder worried, like I did the first time, like in those Memento Mori days where we took every little hint and made a whole story out of it. Now, though, it’s been too long. We’ve seen it all before. More than once.
For that matter, even a desperate Scully would know better than to get on that car and run around doing absolutely nothing with no actual plan. When characters have to suffer to make plot work, then the plot doesn’t work to begin with, and though you’ve made Mulder do his share of stupid things, it’s always Scully that seems to go OOC for the plot to work.
And that’s without going into the fact that she trusted Spender to hide her son, Spender, of all people. Was I the only one who watched the show and remembers all that Jeffrey Spender did and all the reasons why we shouldn’t trust him, no matter what he says?
Yes, it seems like I am. But hey, I’ve got the DVDs. Just give me an address and I’ll be happy to send them your way.
WAS IT ALL A DREAM? A VISION?
Season 10? The finale? Me, actually thinking this show was good? Me, caring?
It sure seems like it, and at this point, I’m not even feeling pain, just a certain sense of relief. I will continue to watch this train-wreck and Mulder and Scully will always be a part of my fandom life, but Chris Carter doesn’t need to be ever again. We’re breaking up. And we are never, ever, ever getting back together.
And that feels really, really good.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK WAS THAT ENDING?
For all that The X-Files has fucked up in numerous occasions, and for all that Dana Scully, the feminist icon, is a Gillian Anderson creation, not a Chris Carter one, I didn’t think Carter would sink to this low just for the sake of his precious mythology.
Impregnating her, without her consent. REALLY? Is that what we’re going with?
Look, I know this is something we considered after “En Ami,” and something we dismissed because a lot of time had passed and CC didn’t seem the type to actually execute a long-term plan (see Samantha, et all). But here we are, so many years later, realizing that our worst fears have indeed, come to pass.
This is wrong on so many levels I don’t even know what I should focus on. No wonder Gillian Anderson is done with The X-Files. I’m feeling pretty done with The X-Files myself.
Was this needed? No. Was it handled correctly? No. Is this another instance of a man taking away a women’s agency for no reason other than shock value? Yes. Is it rape? YES, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, IT IS. Go look up the word in a dictionary other than the one you’ve been looking up the word platonic in.
Is it intended to be a slap in the face of shippers who didn’t have Mulder and Scully actually together but that at least had them procreating a child? Yes. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how bad this story-line is.
If asked about it, I can almost imagine Carter saying: It is bad. We’re not portraying it as something good. Sometimes these stories need to be told. And yet, the truth no one says is that stories like this rarely need to be told, and if they do, they don’t need to be told just to further a ridiculous plot-line that never, ever, held a light to the character it’s sacrificing to further and they really, really don’t need to be told by a white dude who clearly doesn’t understand the implications
But then again, why am I surprised? This is quintessential Carter. This is quintessential The X-Files. Thankfully there’s only nine more episodes left.
(Even if there aren’t. Who says I’m watching any of this without Gillian Anderson?)
A FEW BRIGHT SPOTS
“I’M GONNA STAY RIGHT HERE”
With the person he cares about most in the world.
These are all old concepts. They’re not surprising. And yet, for The X-Files, the fact that they’re spoken out loud feels like a gift. Mulder loves Scully. He has never said it out loud, not with those words, but right here, it’s almost like he screams it. And we’re listening.
“YOU NEED HIM AND I NEED YOU”
And this is Scully’s I love you, her way of saying what we all know to be true. She doesn’t want to live in a world without Mulder, and that’s what the whole premise of Season 11 is meant to be about, her fight to get the life that she wants, not just with her son, but with the man she choose.
Does Chris Carter believe in happy endings? It feels like we already know the answer to that one, but it’s okay. We’re good at imagining the ending we want – the ending these two deserve.
We’ll get there if we need to. Even if it’s only in our imagination. We’ve done it before.
Other things to note:
- I appreciate the recent Trump pictures, I do. But Trump didn’t make the show more relevant, it was relevant even before Trump.
- The opening still gives me the chills.
- I love you Mitch, I do, but GET THE HELL OUT OF MY CREDITS.
- You don’t belong there.
- Hahaha I want to believe/lie what a clever play on words. *rolls eyes*
- Well, that was jumping from A to Z, Skinner.
- Skinner DOES have a point, though, we’ve seen you believe weirder shit, Mulder.
- It’s kind of a relief that it’s Scully telling Mulder weird shit. At least we know he’s inclined to believe it.
- Why does Mulder have Spender’s number?
- This whole CSM/Scully shit is creepy AF, even for The X-Files.
- People just walk into hospital rooms like nothing in this show.
- HAND ON KNEE. HAND ON KNEE. PLATONIC MY ASS.
- I’ve never been happier that when I realized Mulder and Skinner were really and truly not fighting about Scully. Bless.
- Me at the end of this episode:
The X-Files airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.