X-Files (2016) season 10, episode 6
"My Struggle II"
WRITERS: CHRIS CARTER, MARGARET FEARON, and ANNE SIMON
DIRECTOR: CHRIS CARTER
AIR DATE: February 22 2016
The limited run of The X-Files comes to an end with "My Struggle II", the title book ending season ten’s first episode and bringing things back to the conspiracy angle in a big way - effectively what appears to be a world ending scenario playing itself out. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, leaving the audience wondering if there might be a resolution to this at some point down the line, or we’re caught up in a whole lot of Big Questions doomed to never be resolved. Series creator Chris Carter directed the episode, with a co-write credit to two doctors, Anne Simon and Margaret Fearon, collaborating with Carter on the story. Given that medicine and science are featured prominently, it’s understandable.
The episode starts with a similar beginning to the first episode of the season - a monologue looking back on the history of the X-Files, this time related by Scully (Gillian Anderson), who has a lot to do throughout the episode. Six weeks after the events of ‘My Struggle’, Mulder (David Duchovny) is missing from the office and his home, having had been watching the broadcast of Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale). Mulder himself is out driving, bruised and rather unwell, and not responding to phone calls - we’re left to wonder through the first half what’s wrong with him.
Scully, Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), and Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) have more than one crisis to deal with. Aside from trying to find Mulder, the agents have a pandemic before them. O’Malley’s prediction that a virus stripping humans of their immune system is about to be unleashed turns out to be true - and what appears to be the end of the world starts to play out.
After the previous episode in which Einstein tended to be acerbic and dismissive, the character is more collaborative - as a scientist, she spends her time working in tandem with Scully on the medical crisis. Scully’s encounter with another character posed a problem for me though as the episode went. Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) returns in this episode; the character was a series regular in seasons eight and nine, an FBI agent who ended up in the X-Files. Rather than simply leave her life since then unanswered, the story does something that compromises her integrity. It’s revealed that she’s gone to work for the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), albeit reluctantly. The role the character conveys in the story could have just been as easily filled by Marita Covarubbias, for example, and having Reyes take orders from the series antagonist, even while she had her own agenda, seemed bothersome.
Scully and Reyes
As for the Cigarette Smoking Man himself? Well, we learn how he survived his apparent end in Season Nine, though he didn’t come through it in one piece. His confrontation with Mulder proves to be interesting for both characters - we see the pure malevolence of CSM, the sneering arrogance of the man, and the contrast of Mulder - his integrity and defiance, even in the face of dreadful illness, rejects the offer being made. Davis started playing the role as a mere walk on in the first season, an anonymous face lurking in the FBI offices, but the character ended up becoming a primary antagonist, a complicated villain pulling the strings. In the process his performance made the character one of the great villains in television history.
As was always the case with The X-Files, it seems things are left off with cliffhangers at the end of a season. Will there be another season? Given the way the episode ends, with some seemingly dire consequences for the world at large and at least one agent in particular... the audience would definitely want some answers about what happens next.
Mulder confronts the Cigarette Smoking Man