Review: ‘The X-Files’ Season 10 Episode 6, ‘My Struggle II’ Brings Us a Bitter End

Review: 'The X-Files' Season 10 Episode 6, 'My Struggle II' Brings Us a Bitter End

Previously, on "The X-Files"…

Mulder and Scully, once upon a time, were FBI agents solving paranormal crimes. They also had a baby together. To protect said baby, they gave him up for adoption 13 or so years ago, and they also stopped investigating paranormal crimes for a while… Until, that is, conspiracy talk show host Tad O’Malley roped them back into the game with stories about alien abductions and the takeover of America. Now, Mulder and Scully have been investigating the weird for the last several weeks, just like old times, until…

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘The X-Files’ Season 10 Episode 5 ‘Babylon’: The Weirdest Double Date Ever

This Week’s Dossier

After an intro narrated by Scully covering the history of the X-Files, the conspiracies it uncovered, and all the terrible things that happened to her along the way (an intro which ends with Scully’s head morphing into an alien head, because subtlety), Scully arrives at the FBI basement office to find Mulder missing. Not only that, but a call from Tad O’Malley brings her to Mulder’s place, which has been trashed. Scully sets out to look for him with the help of Agents Miller and Einstein (from last week’s episode), but she’s also concerned about the presence of anomalous DNA in everyone’s genome and a general increase in illnesses — which she realizes could be the beginnings of a global contagion.

A call from Monica Reyes (who joined the X-Files team back in Seasons 8 and 9, but has not been heard from since) reveals that Reyes is now, under duress, working for Cigarette Smoking Man, who survived being "very badly burned" that time he got blown up by a bunch of rockets in the Season 9 finale and is now planning to "remake the world in his image" via said global contagion, which has escalated dramatically in a matter of hours — to the point of shutting down the whole planet.

Meanwhile, Mulder shows up at Cigarette Smoking Man’s house in South Carolina (he’s been driving there this whole time), but is increasingly sick and eventually collapses while yelling at the old man. Fortunately, Agent Miller did something relatively obvious and used a phone-tracking app to find Mulder, and pulls the super-sick agent away while Cancer Man watches. Scully and Einstein work together to figure out a cure for the disease, and once they do so Scully runs off to meet Miller and Mulder so that she can cure them, too. Finding them in the midst of a congested bridge is maybe a miracle, but when Scully sees Mulder’s really terrible condition she realizes that the real miracle he needs is within their son (who, as a reminder, was given up for adoption over a decade ago and thus his whereabouts are unknown). Moments after that realization… Well, that’s when the UFO swoops in, lighting up Scully and Miller and Mulder with its alien light…

…and end of show.

Wait, Explain It to Me Like I’m Five?

If there’s no Season 11, this show’s legacy is fucked.

Makeout Watch

Confession: We’ve been living in something like a state of fear regarding this episode ever since Fox updated the press site with new photos and not a single one of them featured Mulder and Scully together. Hell, Mulder didn’t even appear once. (Given his condition from his very first appearance, that’s understandable.)

And…look. We admitted last week that maybe we were idiots, to even dare to dream. But even as the clock counted down to 9pm, as Scully rushed to Mulder’s side, that hope persisted.

No one ever said we were particularly sensible, especially when it comes to "The X-Files."

For anyone who is feeling sad, who has come to this section of the review for some comfort and commiseration, here is a GIF.

Some Deep and Relevant Thoughts About Hair

We come to the end of our time with the wig and… Yeah, it worked okay. For the record, at this stage, we’re prepared to declare that the revival did not change one basic fact: Scully’s hair looked its best during the Season 5-6 years. As long as there is Netflix and DVDs, we’ll always have Seasons 5 and 6.

Nostalgia Alert!

There was an awful lot of Cigarette-Smoking Man this week, which was enjoyable on its own level. His particular brand of preening and evil glowering often helped give "The X-Files" some weirdly charismatic edge.

That said, there was something flat about it, perhaps because it seemed to strip CSM of the emotional complexity that he occasionally demonstrated during the original series. Between Davis’ performance and Carter’s writing and directing, his appearance this week shoved him firmly into the category of cartoon villain, which was a disappointment.

But It’s Not 1993 Anymore

Anthrax, anthrax, anthrax! And the cell phones sure are fancier. Though it’d be nice to think that Mulder and Scully have figured out how texting can enable quick, efficient communication in chaotic times. Even our parents have figured out texting at this point, you guys. Get it together. Oh, and also, Mulder left his phone GPS on? Seriously, Mulder? That is easily the most grandpa move this proclaimed conspiracy freak has pulled so far.

Fun Ultra-Nerd Facts

As fans know, noteworthy episodes have always swapped the show’s usual tagline — "The Truth is Out There" — with something new. This week? "This is The End." Of course, Fox is pretty clear that they have no interest in wanting that to be the case, and for God’s sake, that ending! But Chris Carter does love his mind games.

Monica Reyes turning quasi-evil, by the way, might be a point of amusement for fans of the series who never really took to the character during the original series (given how she never really made up for the absence of David Duchovny from the later seasons). She was also a pretty silly character, on balance (to quote at least one good friend of ours, "she solved crimes with her feelings"). But, at this point, getting at all emotional about Reyes leaves us feeling defeated.

"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)

"No one has the right or the ability to tamper with your DNA."
– Agent Einstein


Narrowing this down was legitimately tough because while it was clear that Chris Carter put some heavy lifting into creating some plausible pseudoscience to support this story, that pseudoscience was delivered in the form of some real clunkers. 

It’s always nice to see two ladies of science bantering with each other, and pairing up Scully and Einstein went a lot better than last week’s efforts to pair up Mulder and Einstein. Plus, if anyone deserves a Mini-Me on this show, it’s Scully. But some of this dialogue was rough.

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

"Every man has his weakness. Mine was just cigarettes."
– Cigarette-Smoking Man ("Ol’ Smokey," if you prefer)


This is Cancer Man reminding Mulder about "his beloved Scully" in admittedly an unproductive way, but hey, this was a good line and well-delivered. There weren’t a ton of those tonight.

A Section of This Review Devoted to Unanswered Questions

In the 23 years they were together, why didn’t Scully plant a subcutaneous tracking device on Mulder at any point? It would have saved her a lot of trouble in the long run.

Yeah, it’s been a decade, but why did Scully not immediately recognize the voice of Monica Reyes, the woman who sang whale songs to her while she went through unmedicated childbirth?

Finally, does Chris Carter have a legit idea of where this all goes? (Answer: We don’t think so, but it’ll be interesting to see him pretend otherwise.)

Final Report

Writing this right now, it’s not hard to imagine Chris Carter sitting in his very nice house, enjoying a relaxing beverage of some sort as he cackles to himself. Watching the finale in a vacuum, we have no shortage of frustration with the fact that, after being given six hours of network television in which to play, Carter chose to tell a story with no ending. Instead, he chose to pretend it was the ’90s and that there were plenty of opportunities left for him to play in this sandbox. Which, when you know even a little bit about how difficult it was to get the very, very busy David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson back to Vancouver to do a new season of television, feels flat-out cruel.

This is, at this point, the third time we’ve had to contemplate the idea that the ending we’ve been presented with is the real, true end of "The X-Files." The first time came with what we then called the series finale in 2002. While not a great episode, "The Truth" did end with a lovely scene that alluded to the "X-Files" pilot, but with the added twist of Mulder and Scully united in trying to save the world. The second time, in 2008, was "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," which again, was not exactly satisfying as narrative experiences go, but the film at least had some sort of emotional resolution in its final moments.

This time? "My Struggle II" is so blatantly begging for a follow-up that it feels desperate; the sad sort of desperate that makes you want to look away. Because ultimately, despite what the episode tagline might claim, this isn’t an ending. It’s a hell of a cliffhanger — the sort of season ender that "The X-Files" used to excel at during the 1990s. But it’s not the 1990s anymore. And this, more than anything, proves that Chris Carter is still pretending it is when he really, really shouldn’t be.

It’s not like we regret watching this season. There have been good scenes and great moments over the last several weeks (especially in the episodes not written and directed by Chris Carter). And we still love this show, for all its flaws, including the way it can still drive us insane. But at this point, the roller coaster is clearly shaking apart. And Season 10, on balance, was a disappointing ride.

Episode Grade: C-

Season Grade: C+

READ MORE: The 49 Most Important Characters of ‘The X-Files,’ Ranked

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , , ,


Comments

Bindi

Loved it! I have really missed the characters and the stories. I have continually watched past episodes since the series end with season 9. I was so sad to see it end, but thrilled to hear of a movie follow up, then another. I was so joyously happy to hear of the "season 10", episodes, although disappointed that there were only 6 scheduled, I was willing to take what they offered….., just to see my old xfiles friends again in some different stories, and HOPEFULLY to finally see Scully and Mulder come together WITH their son William. Yeah, I’m a big sap. I’m guilty of dreaming of that happy ending where everyone lives a great life and we see a happy family find each other and flourish. That being said…. I can only say that I would greatly look forward to another "season" of episodes….I’d love to see Scully, Mulder, with the help of their friends and SON kisses those S.O.Bs asses!!!!

Graham Wells

I’ve just spent 10days watching every episode of the x.files including all of season (if you can call it a season) 10 I loved every minute of it it’s funny dramatic sad happy it just has everything however if season 10 ends thex.files for good like that I am going to try to win the lottery and pay Cris carter to write a good end they can’t leave it like that they really can’t so PLEASE who ever has the power one more EPP to bring it properly to an end good or bad just don’t leave it like this

Graham Wells

I can’t stop watching

Samrat Nigam

Must also show 1 episode with Alien Astronaut theorists like Von Danikan David Childers n Giorgio Tsukolos etc that’ll be fun

Samrat Nigam

Chris Carter must add more seasons and episodes all full of Alien Conspiracies and other mysteries but it should end with interest. My say they are abducted and taken aboard a UFO by Aliens warped into dimension into Alien home planet.

Maurice

The ‘atmosphere’ that the x-files had, was not here anymore. The acting is fast, too much annoying background music ALL THE TIME and the story lines were a disaster.

I was a true X-Files lover, but this is really embarrassing. I have the feeling that is had to done quick, quick… No suspension building.

For me this was the end. Not worth watching and certainly not worth a next season. This was really the worst X-Files ever.

Not X-Files worthy.

Yuk.

blorp

What happened to the smoking gun guys. They were in the promo videos but I didn’t see them in the series

Aaron

This should have been the first episode. This is everything I enjoyed about the X-Files originally. I don’t need to see aliens in their underwear. With only 6 episodes to spare, some gravitas and a gripping storyline throughout the short season would have had a much bigger impact, IMO.

DarkSoliton

Well, X-Files is always essentially, Chris Carter’s brainchild, love it or hate it. I prefer to enjoy the ride, get a few laughs, follow the mythology at an amused distance…I enjoyed the last episode as well the entire truncated season! NO big deal, just some fun with some old ‘friends’ for better or for worse. It’s still X-Files and I will wait for whatever Carter has next in store.

David Holley

Chris Carter may well be satisfied but I’m not
Being a long time fan I was naturally delighted when i heard the X Files were back (albeit 6 Episodes).
But I’m sorry Chris why in the hell did you include 2 monster of the week episodes in a series with only 6.
Would off being better spent continuing the good work of the first two episodes, which i thought was setting the series up nicely. These 2 episodes to me stopped the momentum of the show and got me wondering how the show was going to be wrapped up within final episodes.
The answer not satisfactory at all, so we are left hanging once again so many loose ends – disappointed
Oh well maybe Mr. Carter can create six episodes in 2029 to properly end the show

lauren flick

I can’t stand that there isn’t one series on television that can give it’s viewers SOME satisfaction. Can we finally see Scully & Mulder as a couple; can we finally get some closure on SOME mythology. I don’t need ‘new younger Mulder & Scully – I just want what I invested so much time into – to somehow ‘pay off.’ On the other hand – this ending was not as frustrating as the epic fail of "How I Met Your Mother" (also re-named as How I Met your Mother – she died – then your Uncle Barney fell in love and I took his wife) All and all a C+ is what I would give the show too b/c I know there WILL be a movie or something to keep me ‘hangin’ on…’

LNC

Even after the disaster known as "I Want To Believe," I clamored for a third X-Files movie, just so The X-Files could redeem itself. While I did not get a movie, I was more than happy about the prospect of a television revival. Even after that mediocre finale, I still want more X-Files. Why? Because I have a weird source of faith that this show will redeem itself. I guess my love for The X-Files is resilient. I can only hope that the stars align and Fox forces Chris Carter to work with Frank Spotnitz or another show-runner, who will ask Carter the tough questions. I’ve accepted the fact that Chris Carter won’t be going anywhere if there’s a season 11, but if he’s paired with another show-runner, then Chris Carter’s worst tendencies can be kept in check.

I look forward to reading your reviews for season 11–good, bad, or ugly (but hopefully, kickass awesome)!

ks

X-files had been dying since the end of season 7. This new series is embarrassing and cringe-worthy. (Nice job, Scully, on the five-minute vaccine!). I couldn’t believe even if I wanted to . . .

Erik

I loved it! Better than ever! Please we want more season.!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *