The X-Files #290: My Struggle II

"I didn't set out to destroy the world, Mulder. People did."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Monica Reyes is working for the Cigarette-Smoking Man, and Scully works with Einstein to cure an alien plague.

REVIEW: When you only have 6 episodes to work with, there's proportionally more mytharc stuff, which has the virtue of not making you wait around for things to come together, but since the mytharc is a terrible, contradictory mess, I think many viewers would rather they were abandoned entirely. Nevertheless, this season bookend moves at a fast clip, features plenty of answers and surprise guest-stars, and hs an epic, global scope. Well, the latter is actually a little annoying. Much of the X-Files universe is predicated on the featured phenomena never being proven. A plague that attacks the entire world, with fake news coverage, and a final shot of an alien spacecraft above a traffic jam, will require convolutions to deny, especially in the mid 2010s. And the race against the clock to solve TECHNOBABBLE and produce medical miracles in mere hours, the driving beats of the music, the reversible apocalypse going on outside, I felt like I was watching a Doctor Who series finale. Or with Lauren Ambrose there, an episode of the American Torchwood (ugh). Still, they sell the TECHNOBABBLE, and I want to watch Scully and Einstein solving scientific puzzles together.

I was actually surprised to see Einstein and Miller here. They're NOT one-offs? ARE they being groomed for eventual starring roles? This time, they pair off with their older counterpart, and again Einstein shines, while Miller could be just about anyone. But the biggest return here is Monica Reyes... and she's working for the Cigarette-Smoking Man?! Holy crap! I hoped (and dreaded, under the circumstances) she was leading us to Doggett, but Robert Patrick declined to return. Ah well. Might have saved him from being corrupted the way she appears to be. And from her, we get much of the exposition necessary to move the mytharc forward. We now learn everyone who ever received the smallpox vaccine and their descendants have alien DNA that can be triggered to turn into a virus. One effect (can't promise there won't be others) is negating auto-immune response, which causes an unprecedented pandemic. But SOME alien DNA is different, and people like Scully, Reyes and the CSM are "Chosen Elite" whose DNA actually protects them from the chattel's "Trojan virus". As to how it's all been in motion since 2012 (as predicted in the original series), well, no one noticed until it just now ramped up, apparently because Tad O'Malley blew the whistle on them. That's as maybe, Mr. Carter. You might be reaching to make it coherent here.

The episode is low on Mulder, but he does have some strong moments. His fight against one of the CSM's agents shows he's almost as proficient in martial arts as Scully is, not that I believe it. Fight choreography standards on television have changed since the original series aired, but Mulder hasn't ever been this physical, even through the first 5 episodes of this season. Cool, but dubious. His confrontation with his father works much better, with his trademark wry humor and head-headedness winning over the CSM's delusions(?) of grandeur. Or does it? By the end, Mulder needs what only his son could give him, and he can't be found. Carter might have missed an opportunity here in no letting Mulder accept the CSM's invitation to the Conspiracy table. The believer would have become the ultimate insider, and gone up against his own friends, though eventually shown that he was trying to stop the Conspiracy from the inside (especially with surrogates now part of the show, you don't really NEED Mulder and/or Scully). But we'll see where it goes instead. The cliffhanger certainly promises more.

So what IS the trigger that activates the alien DNA? Tad mentions a number of things, but I think that's the gonzo journalist speaking. It could be chem trails, or graffiti (remember the alien ship with script that turned Mulder into a super-psychic?), or microwave transmissions. Or none of them. But not all of them. It's unlikely it will actually be revealed.

Speeds along and has plenty of reveals, but it's at once X-Files by the numbers AND features a climax that doesn't FEEL like The X-Files.


snell said...

A better plot twist, methinks, would be to realize the whole thing is a feint to get Scully to spread her alien DNA throughout the population...

Siskoid said...

I like that!

Just doesn't explain how everyone got sick.

Madeley said...

Maybe a "triggering" virus, benign on its own? Presumably they had to do SOMETHING with all those genetically altered delivery bees that have been forgotten since the movie.

Andrew said...

The alien ship is actually fairly easy to dismiss--it's a copy of the one destroyed at the start of the season.

For a series that was built almost entirely on the chemistry of its two leads and gloppy special effects, this finale was severely lacking in the former. At least Miller and Einstein are likable enough.

Maybe if there's a next time we can see what Jimmy and Yves have been up to.


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