TV Review: The X Files Season 10 Episode 6 “My Struggle II” (USA, 2016)

After 5 episodes of The X Files we have now reached the Season 10 mini-series finale, “My Struggle II”, the book end to the first episode in the series titled “My Struggle”. It has been a tumultuous ride but we have been treated to some brilliant, some good and some average episodes in this short space of time. But to be honest I’m just glad that we got the show back at all, so I’ll happily take some of the bad with the good, and I hate saying it but this one was one of the average episodes.

*** SPOILERS AND ALIEN DNA AHEAD ***

We start with a trip to the Department of Backstory as Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) takes us through her involvement in the FBI and The X Files right up to this present point in time, surmising that a conspiracy of men is behind a gathering of power, secrets, and alien technology to use for unknown purposes. When Scully is alerted by Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) to a mysterious virus that begins to wipe out people’s immune systems causing people to get deathly ill, it’s up to her with some help from Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) to try and find a cure by extracting Scully’s alien DNA. In the meantime, Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) who is getting quite sick himself, confronts the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B Davis) who offers him a deal, he’ll save Mulder’s life if he offers to join CSM in his new world order. Mulder turns him down just as Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) arrives in time to whisk him back to Scully. The show ends when Scully meets Miller and Mulder on a traffic-blocked bridged to try and give Mulder her bag of magic IV with alien DNA only to realise he’s too sick and needs a stem cell transplant from their son William. At which point they’re rudely interrupted by an alien spaceship (or alien replica vehicle) shining its very bright light right at Scully.

This episode is fairly jumbled up and goes for the “let’s just throw as many crazy paranoid theories at the wall and see what sticks”. It doesn’t really feel cohesive at all, nor does it seem to make much sense at first. But if you boil it down to its simplest points: some shady men (but mostly led by CSM) have released the ‘Spartan Virus’ out into the population, the only people who are “safe” were those who had alien DNA (abductee victims), their plan is to take over the world by destroying infrastructure like military, hospitals, schools etc and create a new world order by ridding the world of the majority of the population.

This all could have been a far more interesting and well planned out conspiracy if writer/director Chris Carter had more episodes up his sleeve to not only flesh it out but to also build the suspense. His co-writers Dr Anne Simon and Dr Margaret Fearon evidently on board to help lend credence to this very heavy science based episode and all the jargon used. This felt more like a fast paced contagion/epidemic type movie rather than a show laying the potential ground work for a new conspiracy arc.

Speaking of laying potential ground work, I’m all for a great cliffhanger, which this one certainly did deliver. But in saying that it very much threw all the cards down on the table under the assumption that Fox would renew the show for another season or possible movie. Without knowing for sure that another season was on its way, it’s a big gamble to leave your two main characters hanging on the brink with no real resolution to the crisis at hand.

For all the negatives about the messy story and conspiracy, there is some genuine character development here. Particularly for Agent Einstein who is beginning to see just how complex and challenging involvement in The X Files is as a scientist. And really it’s the remarkable work and combined brain power of the Science Sisters – Scully and Einstein – who manage to work out how to begin curing people. Then of course we get the return of Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) who appears to have changed allegiances to the dark side with Cigarette Smoking Man. Even though we’re not given any real explanation for her decision, it’s nice to be given a character we can speculate on and make some wild theories about. I won’t deny I’m disappointed that John Doggett (Robert Patrick) didn’t make a return to join her, as their pairing was fairly solid in seasons 8 and 9 of The X Files too. Tad O’Malley was slightly less skeevy in this too, probably because he spends most of his time in his studio broadcasting updates about the epidemic spreading across the country rather than trying to hit on Scully. Also there wasn’t nearly enough AD Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) in this episode, or across the series as a whole, same goes with the fleeting glimpse of The Lone Gunmen we got in the previous episode.

I’ve slowly lost a little faith in Chris Carter and his writing/directing of this series. I appreciate his input into the show, and even moreso love and respect that he brought this show to life. But it seems that his input into this mini-series resulted in average episodes that were too convoluted. Out of the 6 episodes we received it was the three that weren’t written by him that had the best impact and have resonated with me the most, and also held up after repeated viewings (I’ve watched all the episodes a minimum of 3 times each). An argument could be made that the conspiracy and mythology based episodes are always harder to tie the threads together compared to just doing stand-alone “monster of the week” episodes, but surely Carter would be familiar enough with his own show that he could generate something that was engrossing without muddying his own waters.

There’s no denying that the ratings success for the show over the course of the 6 episodes will be very tempting for Fox to renew the series again, though it will be interesting to see in what format. Chris Carter has made it clear he’s happy to keep going, as has both Duchovny and Anderson, but the actors making it clear that they would need the flexibility to continue their other work so most likely would only be open to the idea of another mini-series of 6 or 8 episodes. Plus with Anderson being predominantly based in London, that could also pose an issue. For fans new and old alike it’s just a matter of wait and see what happens. And even if it’s not renewed, there’s always the comic series to read.

Episode Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Series Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The X Files Series 10 is still available to watch on TenPlay via the Channel Ten website.

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Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.

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