I’m shocked. And angry. And trying to find a way to compute exactly what it is that I just watched and how it fits into my feelings about this year’s X-Files mini-series as a whole.
Writer/creator Chris Carter has now had a third opportunity to provide some closure to The X-Files, after the original series finale back in 2002, and then the second film in 2008. He messed those up, and now here he is again, for the third time, utterly unable to give anything close to a satisfactory conclusion.
Carter is the man who brought Mulder and Scully into our lives and changed the landscape of television forever, but now he has become the show’s greatest liability. His writing is consistently dreadful and, in terms of dialogue in this episode, I felt sorry for poor Gillian Anderson with the heavy-handed nonsense she was required to spout.
That said, there can be little doubt about the show returning at this point – the ratings have been huge and ‘My Struggle II’ ends on a massive cliffhanger.
I want to scream. A cliffhanger. Watching the episode as the minutes ticked away, and Scully was running down the highway to save Mulder, it felt worryingly like wrapping this up was going to be awfully rushed. She reaches Mulder and then, boom, a UFO appears above them… and the episode cuts to black.
This was supposed to be THE episode, the big reveal of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s grand plan, the alien invasion Chris Carter always promised us. Instead we get some nonsense about a super virus that contains all viruses, but doesn’t affect those with alien DNA, being used as population control.
‘My Struggle II’ felt much like giving the middle finger to a fanbase that has stuck around for decades waiting for the big one. Undeniably epic in scale, it felt like the middle act of a script for the long-rumoured third X-Files movie.
With such a short run of episodes, we really didn’t need to spend so much time with Joel McHale’s Tad O’Malley and Agents Miller and Einstein; none of these new characters work and only serve to take focus away from Mulder and Scully. As in ‘Babylon’ last week, Mulder and Scully spend almost the entire episode apart.
As if the episode’s focus wasn’t already far too scattered, even the show’s most die-hard fans can’t have been that fussed about the return of Agent Monica Reyes, who has now joined up with the Cigarette Smoking Man for barely explained reasons. And this happens without a single mention of Robert Patrick’s John Doggett, a character many were hoping to see.
‘My Struggle II’ is a mess and it ultimately makes the whole revival season feel like an incredibly frustrating exercise. It was nice to The X-Files back, to hear that theme music, and see Mulder and Scully running around with torches chasing monsters, but this finale was a struggle too far.
I’m going to end on a very poignant line from the Cigarette Smoking Man:
“This is so unnecessary, Fox.”
Aired at 9pm on Monday 14 March 2016 on Channel 5.
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