The X-Files Miniseries Review: Episode 6, “My Struggle II”

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Welp, this is it. We made it through this miniseries, everyone, all the way to the bitter end. There’s a lot I want to talk about in this review–its treatment of the main characters, the fact that the plot felt entirely too limited by time constraints, the cop-out of a cliffhanger ending–but let’s start by addressing my feelings about the series finale, “My Struggle II”.

If I had to put my overall state of being after watching that episode in current, GIF-able form, it would be represented by the following:

a literal dumpster fire

Correction. That isn’t how I’m feeling after watching that episode, but it’s essentially an accurate depiction of my overall review. But let’s back up a little first.

From the title alone, one gathers that “My Struggle II” is meant to serve as a bookend to the first episode of the miniseries, picking up the loose ends of what was left dangling after Tad O’Malley’s mysterious sign-off and Sveta’s explodey death by UFO. It looks like Sveta’s death may have stuck but O’Malley is back, though how he’s able to re-emerge to start broadcasting again is beyond me–especially when his first show picks right back up where he left off to tell the whole world about the mysterious strain of alien DNA lurking in their bodies. Scully stumbles upon this video on Mulder’s computer after showing up to an empty office inside the FBI–strangely, as paranoid as Mulder is he doesn’t have his laptop password-protected–but she isn’t able to do much with the discovery that Mulder has also gone AWOL.

No, Scully’s too busy dealing with a sudden outbreak of something called the Spartan virus, which infects people with diseases like anthrax, rhinoviruses and every other nasty thing you can think of. Turns out this is all part of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s master plan for world domination–and at first, Scully suspects that alien DNA may be the cause and informs Agents Miller and Einstein as such. When she’s contacted by former FBI Agent Monica Reyes, however, it takes up way too many minutes for exposition and backstory (precious minutes where Scully and Mulder are still apart) to come around to the reveal that Reyes has been working with CSM, striking a deal to keep herself and Scully removed from the doomed fate of the rest of the world.

There’s a series of cuts and jumps around in time before we finally figure out what happened to Mulder. He’s gone to track down CSM after going toe-to-toe with some random guy who shows up on CSM’s behalf to try and offer Mulder a deal of his own; Miller’s able to track Mulder down by using the equivalent of the Find My Phone app (again, not something I think paranoid Mulder would be caught dead using in this day and age, but whatevs). Everyone’s deteriorating by this point–Mulder, Miller, Einstein–everyone, that is, except for Scully. And it’s then, in a series of blood tests and genome sequencing, that the realization dawns on her–it’s not the alien DNA that’s the culprit behind this widespread outbreak. The alien DNA is in fact the cure–and Scully, having been in possession of the DNA ever since the beginning, is one of the chosen few who can save the world from certain annihilation.

For all intents and purposes, it’s a potentially good twist. We’ve seen Scully haunted by her fears over the alien DNA inside her body, terrified of the possibility that she could have passed on some sinister genetic mutations to the son she and Mulder have together. The piece of herself she’s been rejecting for so long is the piece she has to come to terms with in order to save everyone else. Scully’s abduction was a turning point within the original show; granted, it was engineered partly out of necessity to find an excuse for Anderson to be absent from the show during her maternity leave, but there’s no denying that it shaped the course of The X-Files‘ mythology from then on out. In that regard, “My Struggle II” brings Scully’s story towards some resolution–but the rest of the episode is too messy for it to really make an impact.

On the whole, the miniseries always seemed to suffer most when Mulder and Scully were apart from one another–“Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster” had enough comedic moments that it sort of made up for the separation. But for the show to do it here, in the finale, felt disingenuous and wrong, an insult to both of these characters who have gone the distance together. As I watched the time run out on Monday’s episode, it was disappointing that we didn’t get a single scene with Mulder and Scully sharing the same space until less than five minutes were left. I’m sure the cliffhanger wasn’t completely intended as a final sign-off, but rather Chris Carter’s way of saying, “Your move, FOX.” Given that this was billed as a season finale and not a series finale, it would seem as though there certainly is room for more X-Files–but since the rest of the world has grown up in the absence of Mulder and Scully, I think it might be time for some changes if we do get more episodes. (Fresh blood in the writers’ room, for one.)

Regarding the miniseries as a whole, I don’t regret watching. For all its issues, I appreciated the opportunity to see Mulder and Scully (and Skinner and Reyes) on my TV again, and I don’t really have words to describe the way it felt to see those old credits coming up on-screen every week (albeit with a hashtag in the lower right-hand corner this time around). When it got it right, it got it right, and when it didn’t–well, this six-episode run was never going to detract from my enjoyment of the original show, anyway.

And even if we don’t wind up getting more of The X-Files, if it ends on Scully being the one to save the world–I’m more than okay with that.

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