MY STRUGGLE: PART 2 -5/10.
The opening episode of the X-Files revival hinted at a new global conspiracy involving a mysterious cabal, Alien DNA, human experimentation and a global pandemic. The subject wasn’t really addressed again until this week’s finale that served as a direct book end to the premiere. The return of the show has been a mixed bag of sorts, while a couple of episodes felt like the X-Files of old others felt almost like fan made parodies. Of this 6 episode run it was actually the season premiere that was my least favourite; the dialogue felt too on the nose, the casting of Joe McHale was way off and the narrative was way too convoluted even by the standards of The X-Files. So as you can imagine I was somewhat trepidatious going into this follow up episode.
Like part 1, this episode starts with a montage explaining the history of the show, this time narrated by Scully. From here we discover that Mulder is missing and the last person to speak with him was Tad O’Malley, that’s right they brought the character back for more overacted, poorly written, expositional monologuing. I am a huge fan of Community, but McHale is just out of place here as is the character he plays, who spends the majority of the episode in his studio explaining what is happening so the producers don’t have to actually show it. It seems O’Malley has uncovered a plan by the cabal to decimate the global population by removing most of the planet’s immunity to bacteria, which he naturally broadcasts online.
Last week we were introduced to Mulder and Scully 2.0 in the Form of Agents Miller and Einstein (Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose), they return here to aid Scully in both the search for Mulder and the investigation of a sudden outbreak of Anthrax amongst military personal. I actually quite like these new agents despite Ambrose being a little too ‘Season 1 Scully Lite’. As the sickness begins to spread around the country Scully receives a call from an old friend who claims to have information about the virus. It turns out to be none other than Agent Reyes, remember her? For anyone that didn’t follow the final seasons of the show, Reyes was one of the Agents brought in to replace Mulder and Scully on the X-Files.
Reyes reveals to Scully that she has been working for the Cigarette Smoking Man since he was horribly disfigured by the fire at the end of Season 9. She claims that he is responsible for a contagion known as the Spartan Virus that will decimate the world’s population, leaving only the chosen few as survivors. Scully is surprised to discover that she is amongst that chosen few; it seems her alien DNA isn’t a part of the infection but rather a form of immunisation. While Scully and Einstein try to isolate her alien genome to create a vaccine, Miller continues to search for Mulder in the most casual way possible; by using the Phone Finder app on his laptop. Actually I am surprised that someone as paranoid as Mulder would own a tracking app, or any app for that matter.
Miller’s search eventually leads him to home of the Cigarette Smoking Man, where a wounded and heavily infected Mulder had been violently summoned by his old nemesis. Mulder spends the majority of the episode sweating profusely and engaged in cliché ridden conversation with Old Smokey. Despite his claims to love Mulder, the Cigarette Smoking man clearly enjoys watching him suffer. He offers Mulder the cure but of course he wants Fox to beg for it, he even goes so far as to threaten Scully but Mulder would rather die than submit to his greatest foe. Miller finally arrives, clearly suffering the effects of the Spartan Virus, he escapes with Mulder while the Cigarette Man happily puffs a cigarette through the hole in his throat.
O’Malley continues to broadcast as America’s infrastructure begins to fail, or at least that’s what he says is happening. With the vaccine in her possession, Scully does her best to get to Miller and Mulder. This proves difficult due to the general panic on the streets, after abandoning her car on a gridlocked bridge she eventually manages to find Miller and Mulder, who is considerably worse for wear. Scully reveals that Mulder is too far gone for the vaccine to be of any use and the only thing that could possibly save him is stem cells from their son William, whose whereabouts are very much unknown. Things go from bad to weird when an alien space craft suddenly appears above them, shining a searchlight directly on to Mulder and Scully… and that’s where the mini-series ends.
While this episode wasn’t as bad as its predecessor it still wasn’t a particularly strong way to end the season. It seemed to be filled with people endlessly talking about the terrible things that were happening elsewhere. The exchanges between Mulder and the Cigarette Smoking Man were enjoyable enough but the Spartan Conspiracy felt somewhat nihilistic for the character and very reminiscent of the cult TV show, Utopia. Scully developing a vaccine to save the world also felt far too big for the show, somewhat ironically in an episode where everything that was supposed to be big felt far too small. Then there was the alien craft, could it be aliens coming to save them or perhaps O’Malley’s friends in another recovered craft? It seems we will have to wait to find out.
The cliffhanger ending makes it pretty clear that Chris Carter intends on coming back to complete the story in some form, be it a movie, mini-series or full season. While the X-Files fan in me would love for that to happen I sincerely hope he ups his game, because season 10 did not live up to expectations. As is often the case, The X-Files lengthy absence from our screens gave its fans plenty of time to romanticise it. We let nostalgia erase all of the show’s flaws until a new season arrived to remind us that everything has its imperfections. Ultimately the X-Files revival did exactly that, it revived The X-Files, warts and all. The dialogue was often silly, the acting was regularly atrocious, but it also had moments of brilliance and that’s why I hope this isn’t the end for Mulder and Scully.
POINTSS OF INTEREST
- Agent Reyes was originally called Agent Millar before Chris Carter decided to change the name. Perhaps he was saving it for season 10.
- We’ve seen a lot of strange things in the X-Files but Scully stopping a riot by politely asking everyone to calm down may be the strangest yet.
- The CG used to show The Cigarette Smoking Man’s disfigured face was very effective, far more effective than the tacky alien shown during the opening montage.
- Each episode of this season has featured some variation of the “I want to believe” tagline. In this episode it was The Cigarette Smoking man shouting “You don’t want to believe!” at Mulder.