Review: ‘The X-Files’ Season 10 Episode 1, ‘My Struggle’ Doesn’t Encourage Our Faith Or Trust

Review: 'The X-Files' Season 10 Episode 1, 'My Struggle' Doesn't Encourage Our Faith Or Trust

Previously, on “The X-Files”…

Well, nine seasons and two movies worth of “X-Files” adventures aren’t necessarily easy to summarize quickly, but our dear old friend Mulder (David Duchovny) does his best with a three-minute opening sequence that covers everything from the abduction of Mulder’s sister to the many hardships experienced by Mulder’s erstwhile partner in life Scully (Gillian Anderson) to a brief history of UFO sightings over the last 60 or so years. 

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW: ‘The X-Files’ Revival Shows Its Age in Season 10 Premiere

EPISODE 2 REVIEW: ‘The X-Files’ Season 10 Episode 2 ‘Founder’s Mutation’ Reminds Us What We’ve Been Missing

This Week’s Dossier

After we see a UFO crash to earth in 1947, we snap back to the present where Mulder and Scully are living separately, and Mulder’s living largely off the grid. But Scully still knows how to get in touch with him, which is how the pair of them end up meeting with “a popular conspiracy theorist web-TV show host” named Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), who, in turn, brings them to meet Sveta (Annet Mahendru), a multiple abductee whose experiences might be the evidence Mulder needs. Of course, that evidence proves elusive, despite Scully returning to do some science — specifically, testing Sveta’s blood as well as her own for evidence that their shared pasts as abductees have led to them.

Mulder and Tad are pretty sure they’ve got the whole alien conspiracy all figured out, but then a terrified Sveta recants her story, Tad goes into hiding and a bunch of stuff gets exploded (including maybe Sveta). We leave things with Mulder and Scully reunited to investigate weird stuff together — and along the way get to the bottom of the conspiracy that could take over the world. 

Wait, Explain It to Me Like I’m Five? 

There’s a secret government conspiracy to take over the world. The bad guys are blowing up stuff and people to keep the truth from getting out. Scully has alien DNA in her system. Their old boss Skinner reopens The X-Files so Scully and Mulder can look into why that is. Oh, and Cigarette Smoking Man isn’t dead after all. Different decade, same ol’ “X-Files.” Sort of. 

Makeout Watch

So, the below photo, provided by Fox publicity several weeks ago, was clearly taken during the shooting of Mulder and Scully’s first scene together in this episode. 

It is, however, a moment that was apparently cut from the final episode. We will be creating the requisite petitions protesting this decision accordingly. Beyond that, we have some vague talk about the end of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, including a veiled reference to “for better or for worse” that (gasp!) could mean they were legally married at some point? One of writer/director Chris Carter’s favorite games is to explain as little as humanly possible about the 20-plus year relationship between his two central characters, which some people might find… frustrating. But, hopefully, this section of our reviews won’t be neglected in weeks to come. 

Some Deep and Relevant Thoughts About Hair

Much was made last summer of the fact that Gillian Anderson, rather than dye her naturally blonde hair back to Scully red, went for a wig. The wig doesn’t look awful, but I suspect it is gonna take some getting used to. (Hopefully not all six episodes of this new season.)

Meanwhile, Mulder’s hair, as befitting his outsider status, has gotten shaggy — something which in theory changes in future episodes (presumably as he gets back into FBI suit-wearing shape). Symbolic haircuts are always fun, so we’ll look forward to that. 

Oh, and Skinner’s got a salt and pepper-ish beard now. It’s working for him, I think. 

Nostalgia Alert! 

Who knows what went into building a replica of the original X-Files office that feels recognizably authentic without many of the trappings we remember fondly (save of course the “I Want to Believe” poster, though Mulder doesn’t treat it particularly kindly). Will Mulder and Scully be working out of that office in weeks to come? Hopefully, yes, though maybe this time they can get Scully a desk of her own. 

But It’s Not 1993 Anymore

Behold Mulder, a man of the year 2016, which we know because apparently he’s learned how to use Uber. (This is something I honestly find a little hard to believe. Any man driven to investigate conspiracies on Mulder’s level ought to at least be a little familiar with that company’s shady underpinnings.)

Fun Ultra-Nerd Fact

For the opening montage, I’m pretty sure they used set photos from the cold open of sixth season episode “Dreamland II,” which featured a quick flashback to young Mulder horsing around with young Samantha. (The Spock costume is a dead giveaway.)

“I’m not going to ask you if you just said what I think you just said, because I know it’s what you just said.” (Most Awkward Quote)

“Mulder, you want to believe! You want so badly to believe!”
“I do believe!” — Scully and Mulder

There are entire scenes of “My Struggle” where the dialogue feels clunky and out of sync with not just our memories of the show’s greatness, but the way real people in the real world talk to each other. But Mulder and Scully’s big blow-up is especially over-the-top, checking off a number of “X-Files” catchphrases without finding any real substance to them. 

Honorable mention, by the way, to the four-minute sequence that’s nothing but B-roll and stock footage accompanying Mulder and Tad shouting at Sveta and Scully explaining the government conspiracy to take over the world. 

“Dear Diary: Today my heart lept when Agent Scully suggested ‘spontaneous human combustion.'” (Best Quote)

“I’m saying someone has to stop these sons of bitches… I don’t know there’s a choice.” — Scully

The promise of these final moments of the episode invokes so much of what we originally loved about “The X-Files”: Namely, Mulder and Scully, working together to fight the darkness. The plot motivations that got us here are at times unwieldy (I’ve never been a government employee, but I’m pretty sure that re-enlisting in the FBI isn’t as simple as it seems here), but that final scene did recapture that old energy, with a modern twist. 

Final Report

There are some actors really giving it their all here. Mahendru is especially committed despite the yo-yo-ing her character undergoes, and while for much of the episode, Mulder and Scully feel out of joint, you don’t get the sense that it’s because Duchovny and Anderson didn’t show up to play. 

Really, what watching this episode reminded me of is the fifth season premiere “Redux I,” which might have been made during the height of the show’s popularity, but was clunky and awkward in many similar ways — including, believe it or not, an extended sequence combining voice-over with archival footage to explain the latest version of the conspiracy. But the follow-up, “Redux II,” was actually a good episode, so maybe that means “My Struggle II” — which is set as the finale for this brief Season 10 — will redeem “My Struggle” to some extent. “The X-Files” at its core is a show about faith and trust, and while “My Struggle” did some damage there, we’re still looking forward to more. 

Grade: C+

READ MORE: ‘The X-Files’ Returns, Or How a TV Show Can Change Your Life

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Comments

delari

This does not seem so far fetched. I have no doubt the government could do this and would do this to the people with no problem. Area 51 never existed they said, but we all know it is there. Them screwing with our dna and possibly even abducting people under the guise of being aliens.. You all hear about the illuminati, youy may want to read up on it. I don’t trust our government one bit. Each president is nothing but a puppet for what the illuminati want. Lincoln and Kennedy did not or were not illuminati approved, and they were assasinated…check it out.

LNC

I saw the premiere at NYCC in October. I noted flaws during the premiere and at times, I felt fatigued by the expository-heavy Mulder monologues. However, overall, I walked out of the room feeling happy and satisfied.

I then watched it live at 10:25 p.m. on Sunday after the football game and I didn’t like it. Prior to viewing it, I had read nearly all of the criticism about the episode. When I watched the episode, I then saw what the critics were complaining about and the flaws of the premiere were magnified for me. I thought to myself, ‘wow–this really does suck.’ But I don’t care, I still watched the second episode, which I LOVED!! I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but I am upset that the show’s critical legacy is undermined with this premiere episode. Back in the ’90’s, my love for reading all of the adulation and praise by critics equaled my love for watching the show.

patrycja

BUT WHAT ABOUT WILLIAM?!

Blackwood

It all moved at a breathtaking pace. The only real problem is that it feels very much like an old-school two parter stuffed into 43 minutes – no doubt a consequence of the reduced running episode order from eight to six. The archive footage sequence was the most exhilarating for me because it tied the whole conspiracy theory into real events to the point where it became plausible, like an Adam Curtis documentary.

KK

C+?? Don’t try to read in more than what’s already there. Episode 1 had more real truths than the last 4 season?!! My god……just let it play out!!

John Calhoun

News flash to Gillian Anderson (and to Julianna Margulies, for that matter): wigs always look like wigs.

Julianne

People are so hyper-critical in ways I can’t comprehend. I have been a massive fan all my life, and I think it was a great opener. It was trying to portray that the years hadn’t been kind to them, and they drifted apart.
David Duchovny said he wanted to start off the first episode like a punch in the face– Just SO much excitement, and I feel that’s what they achieved. Some say say "Too much crammed into this episode," but I feel it really ended up being what they intended.
Some say 2 people are gone from the show already. This is false. That’s not the end of Tad. It’s a confirmed end for Sveta.
Also, "My Struggle II" at the end of this mini-season will feature SCULLY’S struggle from her point of view, whereas this was focused on Mulder’s.

Pastor Glenn Koons

The show is moving slowly ..then we see the ship blow up , a car and then we see The Smoking Man , who really is a great villain. I will watch all of these replays and hope that some of it will come together without the liberal baloney about Fox, Bill O and other leftist clap-trap. Scully looks fine and Mulder is what you would expect, cool and nutty.One wonders if the old doctor will finally explain 1947 and Roswell.

Uncle Joe

Why is the title of the episode the same as Hitler’s autobiography? Don’t tell me that’s just a coincidence.

Also, Gillian Anderson, beautiful as ever, is looking more and more like a Picasso.

Uncle Joe

Uncle Joe

Carolyn Wolfe

I think this first episode was terrific. I think the way they put together all the different conspiracy theories abut the Government takeover of food, Big Pharma, etc. was really moving wit the times. It is a crazy time here in 2016 and I think that Mulder and Scully reflected beautifully the dichotomy of what the public thinks of all these differing conspiracy theories. I liked the over view at the beginning. I think that was necessary in order to see what had progressed over the last 14 years. Mulder was exactly how I remembered him from the movie "I Want To Believe." The awkwardness between he and Scullly was very realistic. I loved the first episode and so wish we would get to see more episode the6 that the mini series will provide!

Milton

I think slowly it will gain momentum. Even though its been soo long they have worked together, the chemistry between them is still there and i hope there more to mystery and suspense and twisted plot in the show…

Dbagga

I think this first episode worked out great as an opener. I mean this is 14 years later, Mulder is seasoned but he’s also been a bit of a hermit and I think that’s where the sleepiness comes from, it’s just this overall, aloneness, and the amount of time that’s passed. I also felt the reaction and chemistry between Mulder and Scully reuniting was spot on. Obviously in 14 years something happened between them but at the same time they’ve obviously been somewhat estranged. So, it’s that kind of awkward but glad to see you, it’s been a minute kind of feeling. But there are plenty of things that damage the score for me, the mentioned getting back in to the FbI thing. I mean do we officially know they come back as agents? Or are they just dressed that way for a more, coming on to help kind of role but in an official capacity? I also felt there was just so much story and so much information crammed too tightly in to this one episode, it was just getting started and a blink of an eye and lots of confusing explanations later the government was in and out and 2 of the new people of the show were gone. I give it a B.

Madeline

he actually seemed more seasoned not sleepy. I think it works better.

John Miller

Duchovny seemed kind of sleepy in this episode. Being as passionate as his character is supposed to be about what’s going on, the performance didn’t reflect that.

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