The X-Files: My Struggle II

Case: Mulder is missing then the world goes to hell.

Destination: D.C., South Carolina

"Don't give up on me."

I swooned pretty early on in 'My Struggle II', but not before that exquisite teaser was over. You guys, in my mind, the best thing here is: Chris Carter thinks this (and 'My Struggle') are really compelling. He stands by them completely. So, I say this with all seriousness, what I will take away from this two-parter is that self-delusion actually might work.

I'm not going to fan the flames here though. (Those being the gargantuan devastating issues that befall this finale.) There are very long and detailed reviews out there full of our woes as viewers. Instead, let's go back to the good, like the amazing scrapbook moment of Agent Dana Katherine Scully and her career with the FBI.

Paging Dr. Scully

Awww. Their first autopsy.
I don't think I could ever tire of seeing the badges.

The Syndicate was so brilliant at one time.

I've always thought 'Conduit' is wildly underrated.

R.I.P.

Three shots from 'Memento Mori'. THREE!!!

This serves to remind us the same person who wrote and directed this finale is also capable of this stunning shot.

The monologue put to the photos was also excellent. Totally Carter, on his best day. But I think the opener of this miniseries backed the show, its main characters and the plot into a terrible corner. (Haha, I mean the 'terrible corner' goes back way further than that but let's just work small to big here.) I stand by my previous assertions that what's 2000 times worse than any other problem is that it doesn't make any sense. I'm talking about all the words in the script that come together to form sentences of dialogue! But I digress. Because on some level the show swung for the fences. I mean Carter legitimately pulled the trigger on what was starting out to look a lot like a zombie apocalypse. I have to give credit to him for what looks like an evolution -- there's no turning back from the circumstances of this finale. In other words, he really moved things forward -- in many ways more than he did in 9 seasons. Potentially. We shall see. (Actually, maybe someone should put Kirkman and Carter in a room together and call it a day.)

I want to go back to the good again. I thought Lauren Ambrose and Gillian Anderson made for an engaging pair of agents. In fact, I never even knew that I wanted to see these two actresses together, in scenes, on The X-Files, until now! I don't know if it was constantly shooting them in profile or their red hair, but I was super into them. Even when the dialogue was gruelingly tedious.

This shot is really pretty.
But why in god's name did 'My Struggle II' separate Mulder and Scully save the last five minutes? My confidence can't help but wane when I see Carter not using the lightning in a bottle he has, and always has had. To me, the scenes that fell the flattest were the ones with Mulder, in general, here. I realize there were physical issues afoot challenging him to keep engaged but it definitely didn't work at all to have him apart from Our Lady of Sorrows. I can't finish this thought fully without unraveling the massive collection of knots here. Which, by the way, is my experience throughout this whole review. Dammit, Carter.

The morning after the episode premiered, an article in the NYT came out, interviewing Carter on the finale, the miniseries, and the future of the show. (Click here to read it.) I have an unlimited reserve of tolerance for faulty decisions but not so much for people who don't learn something from their mistakes. Chris Carter and The X-Files walks that line more than any other show I've known. That is my struggle. (C'mon, I had to!)

Other Thoughts

*I am still reeling over the classic opening credits. There are few things that make me as happy in the moment as those have for two decades!

*Annabeth Gish looks amazing.

*As much as I adore Joel McHale, Tad O'Malley did not work for me at all.

*mindsquad.org

*Hey, at least the smallpox theme goes way back.

All the way back to Season Two. 'Anasazi', the train car, alien corpses. "Burn it." Sighhhh.

Quotes

CSM: "You don't give up, do you?"

Scully: "That child will be protected by his inheritance and my alien DNA."

Final Analysis: Dear Mulder and Scully: Please do come back. Do standalone episodes! Find William! Do a movie! Bring the Morgan brothers and James Wong and back the Brinks truck up to the home of Vince Fucking Gilligan, if need be. Let Chris Carter showrun it. Hard to believe, sometimes I am even surprised by it, but my affection appears unwavering still. Yours truly, a very devoted fan.

9 comments:

Dr. Johnny Fever said...

"The Syndicate was so brilliant at one time."

Yes it was. It was scary (we murder people!), it was sad (we sacrificed our own children!), it was smart (we're double-crossing the aliens!), and it had me on the edge of my seat.

Their story didn't always make sense, but you let it slide because the plot twists were gripping. But now... the plot twists (depopulation!) are too obviously straw grasping. They've stopped being something scary and become actors reading lines (including CSM).

ChrisB said...

Once again, my cynicism about this show and about Chris Carter appears to be fully founded. What is it about this man that makes him incapable as a writer of sticking with a theme, or even a story line. He loves the Big Idea and he is able to put some interesting thoughts into his dialogue, but overall, this was simply a mess.

When did Reyes become a coward? WHY does CSM want to wipe out the population? Who will be left for him to have power over? WHY was Scully chosen and not Mulder? Is Mulder CSM's son? Speaking of sons, all this conversation about William and he never shows up?

And, oh yeah, the filming of the fight scene was deplorable. It looked as if the footage they had was so bad that the editor decided to just speed it all up and maybe we would buy that these two men were fighting so brutally. I actually laughed out loud during that scene.

While the ninth season of this show was not the best, at least it ended. OK, maybe not as we all would have liked, but there was a sense of the story being wrapped up and completed. To end this season on a cliffhanger was a bad choice. Carter's comment in the NYT article about "always ending on a cliffhanger" is coy. He could end on a cliffhanger because he knew he was coming back. No such guarantees now.

Heather -- I give you enormous credit for finding the good in this episode. It was there, but hidden among the truly awful. I agree with your note at the end. If the show comes back, I will watch. But, my all abiding love is waning,

Billie Doux said...

Honestly, I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. I absolutely agree that the best part of this was Gillian Anderson and Lauren Ambrose and their glorious red hair (as I'm sure I've mentioned, Lauren Ambrose was a cast member and one of my favorites on a series I loved, Six Feet Under), but if Scully said "my alien DNA" once, she said it twenty times. Everything they did with Mulder was just frustrating. And you just don't do a revival of a long term series and leave the audience with a cliffhanger! Chris Carter, what's the matter with you?

I kept thinking of Highlander after I saw this episode. I loved Highlander deeply, but people who created and owned the show simply didn't understand what worked about their own property. All of the truly excellent episodes were written by guest writers, and every single movie was a disaster. Chris Carter doesn't understand what works best on his own show. And that was the problem with this six episode revival. They should have given the reins to someone else. Except that they couldn't. It's just too bad.

Heather, congratulations for finding the good to discuss in this episode, as well as the bad. I only hope that the ratings were good enough for some sort of closure episode or movie.

Dr. Johnny Fever said...

Maybe the crime in the revival was the characters are all stuck in arrested development. They needed a new storytelling engine where Mulder & Scully still investigate the paranormal, but don't need to do it from the same FBI basement office as always. Maybe Scully runs a secret clinic that deals with mysterious illnesses. Maybe Mulder is a bestselling author that writes the truth but masks it as fiction to keep himself from being killed. Maybe Skinner is now a PI that hires them on the side. You can still have the characters you love in new scenarios.

What I kept thinking about was Star Trek The Motion Picture. Kirk was an admiral. Spock was on Vulcan. The Enterprise had a new captain. Why? Because things should change! Just because Kirk and the gang were no longer on their 5-year mission didn't mean they weren't still awesome.

Mallena said...

When Annabeth Gish appeared on screen I was happy. Maybe she could save this mess of an episode. Then after her story was told, I had to pause my dvr to have a good cry. It wasn't the cathartic tears like I have every time Sam and/or Dean dies on Supernatural. I realized how much I didn't like this revival and that hurts this long time fan. Darn you Chris Carter! You already separated M & S most of the time in this season and you brought back bad memories of the William story arc. If I drank every time Scully said "what's wrong with my baby" during those seasons, I would have died of alcohol poisoning. Good thing I don't drink. You brought back Cancer Man who should be an advertisement for the tobacco industry. At least don't have him still smoke. At least don't have Reyes help him. The only part I enjoyed about the last X-File seasons was Dogget and Reyes. They were developing a cute relationship and I thought that they were going to end up together. So thanks, Chris Carter. Why don't you just make the mythology even more unintelligible. Wait, you did that also. Will I watch another season? If they have someone else write all the episodes, maybe.

Docnaz said...

Oh, the badges. Kwin and I have copies of those badges. About 16 years ago, we dressed up as Mulder and Scully for Halloween. I wore oneof my suits ( almost all my suits were inspired by Scully's wardrobe at the time) and a red wig and my badge to the nursing home to make my rounds. As I was walking out, an older gentleman who was visiting was walking out beside me. He began talking about "his friend in the bureau" and it became apparent he thought I was an agent despite it being Halloween! I had to tell him it was just a costume.
I have enjoyed this season. Thanks for your hard work Heather. Mulder and Scully Meet the Weremonster has become a classic for me for As for this episode...oh, look at the time...

TJ said...

I think the main problem with the return of this show is that CC is still trapped in the 90s. He tried the same formula but it doesn't work anymore.

Thankfully television has developed since then. (Thank you Buffy!) We just expect more now.

That said, I really enjoyed this revival. Duchovny/Anderson are brilliant actors with great chemistry, but I wish I hadn't seen this last episode that was so full of 90s BS. And I can't help thinking that I'd rather see Anderson in the next season of 'The Fall' instead of this recycled nostalgia.

Heather said...

Loving everyone's comments here.

mazephoenix said...

Sigh. I loved this show once. But this is not why. Why is Reyes a coward all of a sudden? Why is Mulder left at death's door? Why did Miller and Einstein get introduced so late in the game?
Episode 3 was the only necessary one, sorry.
Thanks for the reviews.