The X-Files #291: My Struggle III

"Civilization a joke, and my plan merely the punchline."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Scully is receiving visions of the coming plague from her son, and Mulder goes out looking for the Cigarette-Smoking Man.

REVIEW: Ugh. Who else is sick of the constantly retconned Mytharc? I sure am. At least if they're all going to be called "My Struggle" (Chris Carter's?) now, it'll be easy to avoid them on subsequent rewatches. It's been two years since the previous season, so even knows what they're talking about anymore? The Season 11 opener uses a lot of voice-over (from two characters, messy) and flashbacks that go back to the original series in an effort to get the audience up to speed, but I can't imagine anyone but hardcore fans making heads or tails of most of it. I'll call that OUR Struggle. All that's really necessary to understand, I guess, is that the Cigarette-Smoking Man (Cancerman for short) wants Scully's son William so he can release a plague (probably because his blood holds the cure), and another faction does too, not to prevent the apocalypse but to control who gets to survive (Mulder doesn't believe in their secret space program, just like I don't want to believe Cancerman faking the Moon landing). And in the final twist, Cancerman reveals William is HIS son, not Mulder's, though it was all done with science, no worries, it's not as icky as it could have been, we swear.

A lot of information is dumped on us through Scully getting psychic visions remotely from William, which is still a damn sight better than Mulder driving around with narration that doesn't really tell us anything new. Whether because they don't want Scully to find her son, or what, assassination attempts are made on Scully's life, which resolves into Mulder cutting a guy's throat with a scalpel as oppose to, you know, shooting him with a gun. It's very odd. Throw in an irritating fake-out played as if Mulder finds Cancerman (how he finds the house is not clear), but his silhouette and Reyes' turn out to be look-alikes, and some lame car action including a tepid chase and no less than two car accidents, and you have a very clunky opener indeed. No wonder the aliens have given up on us.

That last bit, of course, is almost ripped from the headlines. Trump's America is one where the environment is damned, natural resources are too low for the planet to be worth anything, the population can cry fake news at anything out of the ordinary, and Cancerman can justify the culling. It's all a bit on the nose, but consistent. Characters are more prone to believe in conspiracies than in the original series (Scully's doctor believes in psychic phenomena), and even we, as the audience, don't know who to trust anymore. For example, Eistein and Miller, surely groomed to take over the franchise one day, are the ones who find Scully post-accident, so we immediately start to mistrust this coincidence. On the other hand, I have a hard time believing Skinner actually made a deal with the Cancerman in good faith (indeed, I also expect Reyes to turn on him), but Mulder's got to jump to conclusions at the slightest whiff of cigarette smoke. And then Skinner must deny even having the meeting, just so he looks more guilty. Haven't we been down this road with him before?

Given everything that happens, it's hard to believe Mulder and Scully can just "go back to work", but I accept it just so I can get the Mytharc behind me and watch some good ol' one-off mysteries.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Or so they would have you believe. It used to be that little baby William had telekinetic or magnetic powers, which let us think he was a weapon for or against the aliens, especially the dudes with metallic blood. But Spender gave him a shot that counteracted that and made him "normal". Well not so much, but now telepathic teen William, quite beyond the psychic powers, is... what? The key to preventing AND triggering the plague apocalypse? Can only HIS blood synthesize the cure, so Cancerman can't risk releasing the alien virus until he's immunized everyone he needs to for his New World Order? I guess you can't make a serum from someone who's already immune. When DID Cancerman get his inoculation if he didn't have access to William? From the aliens themselves, long ago?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Important revelations aside, this is a mess and a half. The bloated, confounding, self-negating Mytharc stuff just makes me wish they'd started from scratch with a completely new conspiracy/threat, or even relaunched the show with Einstein and Miller directly.


snell said...

The "last season's finale was only a dream/vision and most of it didn't really happen (yet)" was beyond risible, lowering the show to the level of finding Bobby Ewing alive in the shower. When the show no longer plays fair with its viewers because the creator can't find any other way to get out of the corner he painted himself into, it's a low-point in franchise history.

Green Luthor said...

"Who else is sick of the constantly retconned Mytharc?"

I'm pretty sure that's everyone not named "Chris Carter".

At least there are some better episodes so far in season 11. Not all of them, and the finale is supposed to be another Carter-written Mytharc episode, so we already know we'll be going out on a low note. Especially if Gillian Anderson really does make this her final season; I really kind of hope there isn't a season 12 at this point, even if it means the final episode ends up being a stinker.

Siskoid said...

Yes, episode 10 is called "My Struggle IV". I'm watching them once a week from this point on, so about 6 weeks late, but like the previous season, I'm sure I'll end up liking the one-offs (of which there are twice as many) more than those Mytharc things that the X-Files format only SEEMS to demand. But like the old video opening, with the stars in looking decades younger, they just can't seem to ditch it.

If the show does continue, I think Amell and Ambrose should inherit it and make it their own.


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