Well, let’s get this over with.
Before there was Tim Kring or Damon Lindelof or Steven Moffat or Russell T. Davies, there was Chris Carter. Carter was the ur-genre series showrunner who kept screwing up his own creation by winding up diehard, loyal fans with plotlines, episodes and finales that were complete bullshit.
In the great X-Files tradition, “My Struggle II” is complete bullshit. Of all the frustrating, obtuse and cockamamied things this show has thrown at fans, ending a six part miniseries on a cliffhanger that doesn’t resolve either the major mystery that had been hinted at for the past few epiosde or its own self contained plot probably takes the cake.
“My Struggle II”, written and directed by Carter, acts a sequel to the premiere with its oddball alien DNA subplot and the return of Joel McHale’s Tad O’Malley internet conspiracy theorist character.
Mulder is missing, and neither Scully or Tad O’Malley can get in touch with him. O’Malley wanted to meet with Mulder because he had himself tested for alien DNA and found it in his genome. He posits that “everyone” has had alien DNA put into their genome without their knowledge. Scully tells the young skeptic Agent Einstein that she thinks this alien DNA was put into people’s genomes through a smallpox vaccine. This is Scully talking, mind. O’Malley believes a superbug will exploit this genome and wipe out humanity. Scully and Einstein encounter a man who has been infected by an Anthrax exposure; Scully claims this is how the global contagion makes sense, but she agrees it “makes no sense.”
Meanwhile, a bruised Mulder drives to Spartansburg, South Carolina after he was attacked at his apartment, not answering phone calls from Scully, Skinner or Tad O’Malley.
Scully gets a phone call from Monica Reyes, a major character from late in the original series, who reveals the entire ridiculous plot. It seems that the show’s most famous antagonist, The Cigarette Smoking Man, had survived being incinerated in the original series finale. He coerced Monica into begrudgingly assisting him in his recovery and forced her to leave the FBI. The CSM’s almost comically supervillainous plan is that he will use a biological superbug to kill everyone who hasn’t had their genome mixed with alien DNA. Basically, it’s the opposite of what Tad O’Malley was rattling about: everyone with alien DNA is safe (including Scully), everyone else is going to die.
The CSM wants to personally offer Mulder a deal – it is never mentioned in this miniseries, but near the end of the original show, the CSM was revealed to be Mulder’s real father. Mulder shows up at the CSM’s South Carolina compound and gets into an ethics argument as he starts to fall ill. Einstein’s partner Agent Miller – who found Mulder’s whereabouts through a computer program audaciously called “phonefinder.biz” – pulls Mulder out of the house as they drive to D.C. Tad O’Malley’s program reports of overflowing hospitals as the world-wide “Spartan Virus” superbug takes hold. At Scully’s hospital, Scully and Einstein work to make an antidote from Scully’s blood.
Okay, now this is where the plot gets messy. At this point, you will have probably noticed that there is not enough time for this plot to wrap up nicely. It ends with Scully and Agent Miller racing towards each other as America collapses from the pandemic. They wind up on the 14th Street Bridge on the Potomac River just outside of D.C.. Scully races to Miller and Mulder with the vaccine. Mulder claims he’s too far gone. Scully tells Miller that they need stem cells from her and Mulder’s long-lost son William to save him…
…And then a spaceship shows up right out of nowhere. The camera closes in on Scully’s eye. End of episode.
This six episode miniseries just ended on an abrupt cliffhanger and concluded no plot points.
Ha ha ha.
Ha ha ha ha ha
This is something Torchwood would do, but at least that mess of a show never had the audacity to not even resolve the plot of its season. This miniseries didn’t even have a continuous plot. If he wanted to do a multi-part arc, Carter should have just done a multi-part arc. Yet, that would have been at the expense of all of the good episodes of this miniseries, so to each their own.
“My Struggle II” is bewildering television. It tells a story it simply did not have the time to finish, and will frustratingly rely on a renewal from FOX to complete. We never even find out what happened to William, something that had been hinted at all season long. The worldwide superbug and mass sighting of this spaceship on the 14th Street Bridge are among the show’s most audacious breaks from reality. Again, the entire episode’s plot felt like something Torchwood would do, and I don’t mean that as a good thing.
Speaking of the good things, William B. Davis knocks it out of the park as the Smoking Man, and has lost none of his dark, eerie mystique over the years. Lauren Ambrose also impressed as Agent Einstein, turning a character that could have been a Scully imitation into a surprisingly interesting character. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are just as great as ever. It’s a shame that all of these great actors and their great characters have been utterly wasted by this finale. For me, it doesn’t quite take away from the goodwill that the miniseries gained, but it’s massively disappointing that this miniseries ended with Chris Carter up to his old tricks.
If FOX renews The X-Files – and looking at the ratings and way this thing ended, they’d be foolish not to – I’ll still probably watch that next season, but with none of the optimism I had for this miniseries.
I didn’t review last week’s episode live because it was on the same time as the Grammys, I didn’t get a screener and watching anything on Hulu is a chore. I thought it was fine but incredibly goofy (and not in a good way either). It deserves the polarizing received too. I did think Einstein and Miller were solid, though. I felt introducing “young Mulder & Scully” characters is a bit much, but it was something that was probably inevitable. Besides, they’re probably a contingency in case more X-Files episodes are ordered by Duchovny and Anderson aren’t game (even though by all indication they are totally up for more). I was very disappointed that the much-loved fan favorite characters The Lone Gunmen only appeared in a psilocybin-induced hallucination and were not raised from the dead like all fans hoped.