The X-Files: “My Struggle II” is an epic disaster

I said right at the start of Season Ten that The X-Files is the same as it ever has been, and this continues to be basically true. “My Struggle II” is an hour-long roundup of all the show’s worst tendencies in one place, only without many of the show’s strengths to otherwise recommend it. The fact that it ends on a cliffhanger, with no assurance that it will ever be continued, is just the icing on the cake of overall mediocrity-to-badness that has been every episode of Season Ten except for “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.”

Like “My Struggle,” “My Struggle II” is a mythology episode, wholly devoted to continuing the story that the earlier episode began. The thing is, these two episodes don’t tell a fully contained story at all. They don’t work as bookends for the season because there’s no actual ending here, but there’s also no real narrative symmetry, despite the use of a similar introduction to the episode, this time with a Scully voiceover. A better use of Scully’s voiceover would have been at the end of the episode to bring closure to the miniseries and the show in general, but of course this can’t have happened after a cliffhanger ending like what we got.

The worst part of “My Struggle II,” though, is that it just doesn’t make a lick of sense. The hour manages to feel at once overstuffed and devoid of story, a whole lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Things happen, but they’re so absurd that it’s very difficult to suspend enough disbelief to even accept the basic premise. I could believe in the existence of a conspiracy, but the idea that a shadowy cabal of one percenters would somehow decide to just kill large swaths of humanity in the way that it’s show in The X-Files is just silly. Ultimately, it’s just fantastical, an episode of evil for evil’s sake, to be taken about as seriously as any cartoonish fantasy villain who wants to cover the whole world in darkness or some such nonsense.

Even the smaller events of the episode make little sense. Why are Miller and Einstein still hanging around? Why did the Cigarette Smoking Man save Reyes? Why use programmed diseases (that are usually vaccinated against) to kill people instead of programming in, say, cancer or some other illness that actually has a genetic component? What is the clear liquid Scully is administering to people? Why does Mulder need stem cells? And why does he need stem cells specifically from his and Scully’s son? Why is Tad O’Malley back after disappearing so completely back at the end of “My Struggle,” and why? There are so many questions, but almost no answers.

I was afraid that Season Ten would turn out this way—as a springboard for either more nostalgia-based programming or as a setup for a spin-off series, which seems highly possible at this point, with the return of Miller and Einstein in the finale. It was nice, in a way, to see something huge actually—finally—come of all the conspiracy theorizing the show has done over the last twenty-odd years, but now that the show has gone big, I wish it would go home.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • The reveal of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s face was pretty rad.

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