The X-Files “My Struggle II” Review (2016 Mini-Series Episode 6)

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On the finale of “The X-Files,” things finally came around full circle as Scully figured out the hard way what was really going on with the show’s over-arching conspiracy- to a certain extent, at least- in “My Struggle II.” As one might deduce from that title, this final episode served as a bookend to the first episode of the current revival of the show, “My Struggle”- but hopefully, it wasn’t intended as a series finale, given that ending.

As it stands, had the ratings not been as impressive as they were for the most part (things took a bit of a dip when the show was up against the Grammys, but were otherwise pretty consistent), I can only imagine the uproar that would have erupted had this been the finale of the entire series, but thankfully, with everyone concerned being onboard with doing more, it seems likely that the show will return, whether as another limited- run mini-series or as something more.

That said, there was definitely an outburst of a reaction online, most of it essentially positive, if a bit peeved that this was where they chose to leave things indefinitely, until the show returns, assuming it does, which I think is a safe assumption to make. I suppose my main complaint, as well as most of what I saw online, was that almost the entire show saw Mulder and Scully completely apart from one another, until the very ending, and even then, it ended almost immediately after.

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Still, for the most part, I really enjoyed it in spite of that, thanks to it being so action-packed and intense. As Scully scrambled to try and curb a seemingly out-of-nowhere contagion, Mulder got into a knock-down, drag-out fight with a guy and then had a show down with none other than the Cigarette Smoking Man himself.

In other words, though there was significant distance between the two for the bulk of the episode, both were firmly within their element, as Scully embraced her medical know-how to save the day while Mulder let his emotions reign supreme, as per usual, even at the potential cost of his life. Of course, it would have been a total downer had the show actually ended with Mulder losing his life, which is exactly why I think it ended the way it did- with there still hope, however small.

The main plotline was an anti-vaccination lovers’ nightmare come true, as Scully posited that everyone who received a smallpox vaccine was also injected with alien DNA to…actually, I’m not entirely clear on that. I guess it was to see what might happen, as we saw in “Founder’s Mutation.” Or else to weed out the population so that only those at the top of the food chain were allowed to survive.

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I suppose it depended on how much of the speculation made by Scully, as well as internet doom harbinger Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) that one believed. From the sounds of things, regardless of what was really going on, one thing was undeniably true: there was a sudden outbreak of contagion that was laying people low left and right, flooding hospitals and causing general mass hysteria- but only certain people were affected.

Towards the end, using her own allegedly alien-infused DNA to concoct an antidote, with an assist from Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), Scully was able to make a last-ditch effort to save people before rushing to meet Agent Miller (Robbie Amell), who had finally tracked down a missing Mulder and rushed back to Scully’s neck of the woods to try and save the ailing fellow agent. Of course, his suffering was somewhat self-inflicted, as CSM offered him a way out, which he flat-out refused, but who can blame him there? After all the misery that guy has inflicted upon Mulder and Scully, I can see why he’d say no.

Not doing so, however, was the returning Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish), who met with Scully at one point and confessed that she’d not only known CSM had survived his little “accident,” but had essentially been in cahoots with him since, after he offered her complete immunity from the impending onslaught of the virus that she’s apparently known about since then. Hell, she even served as CSM’s cigarette holder! Well, I guess if you’re going to sell out, go big.

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Scully had no say in the matter, having been inoculated with the alien DNA when she was abducted back in the day, but her seeming loss was society’s gain, as it was her efforts- as well as her blood- that helped formulate the vaccine needed to combat the cabal’s nefarious plans, dubbed the “Spartan Virus.” That done, she broke for the hills- or in search of Mulder, rather.

In the end, she found him, despite some dubious plot machinations- her quelling the near-rioting crowds with the promise of an antidote and a single solitary plea, however heartfelt, was the most incongruous display of dubious reasoning in action this side of Chris Pratt’s character in “Jurassic World” holding up his hands to wrangle a group of velociraptors. It would have been far more realistic had the guy she stopped from looting went: “Who the hell are you and what do you know?” and kept right on with what he was doing.

Then there was Scully managing to get past a sea of traffic with minimal effort, but at least some of that was logical, as she hit the sidewalks for part of it. Still incredibly unlikely, though I get that they had to get her from Point A to Point B somehow. That part was much more forgivable, given what happened next, though, as upon tracking down Mulder and Miller, she rushed towards them on a bridge, telling Miller they had to find her son William sooner than later to help save Mulder and then a UFO arrived and shone down its light on her as the credits proceeded to roll and we were out.

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Yes, it was frustrating, but it was also clear from the way things were going in the run-up to that moment that there was no way in Hell they were going to wrap this thing up in time for the end. So, instead, we got one of the original show’s patented cliffhanger endings, leaving all of us fans hanging in the balance until next time.

Honestly, as much as I see some people bitching about the way they left things, my bigger complaint was how short the season was. I can see where asking them to do a full season would be pushing it especially given the two main leads’ other projects, but I don’t think a solid half-season would have been too much to ask- say a Devil’s Dozen- 13 episodes? Oh well, maybe next time.

But there’s no denying that the entire season was a bit all over the place, not helped by the scattershot way the episodes were rearranged, for whatever reason. I mean, ostensibly it was to space out the “fun” ones from the more serious ones, but really, it ended up doing more harm than good, as the tone of the mini-season was all over the place.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it wasn’t all super-entertaining and great to have the show back, but it was sort of jarring at times. I’m hoping a re-watch of the season in the original order will help matters somewhat, but I’m not sure it will overall, with only six episodes to draw from. So, yeah, more of a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but a complaint nonetheless.

My advice next time would be to do just enough planning- and enough episodes- to establish a consistent feel to the show, while making a more concentrated effort to keep a through-line running for all the episodes in question. Put another way, maybe not follow a really heavy episode with one that seems to act like nothing out of the ordinary happened, like, I don’t know, Scully’s mother DYING?

Once again, I didn’t dislike any of the episodes, and I certainly outright loved the more light-hearted ones. “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” and “Babylon” both featured moments that were vault-worthy, comedically, and the rest all featured something notable in terms of the mythology and genuine character-driven moments. They just tried to pack too much into too little time and as a direct result, it got a little wonky tonally. These things happen.

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But nothing ventured, nothing gained, and like I said, better to have a flawed season than none at all, believe you me. For the most part, I just loved it, and it was so great having Mulder & Scully in my life again after loving the show since its original run back in the day. To me, I’d have to say I enjoyed the mini-series on the whole far more than either of the movies, and I didn’t hate the movies like some fans.

This season felt like a sampler platter for the entire series, a way in for those who maybe didn’t get into it in the first place. Given the solid ratings, mission accomplished. Now it’s time to buckle down and plan the next season out properly, and figure out a way to please both the fans of the overall mythology, and those who lean more towards the case-of-the-week approach. I think even the most die-hard fans will agree with me on that one.

I, for one, though, can’t wait to see what Chris Carter and company come up with next. There are moments throughout this mini-season I won’t soon forget, that’s for sure. From the emotional lows of Scully losing her mom and Reyes giving in to the Dark Side, to the comedic highs of Mulder tripping on shrooms and line dancing and Scully faux-“seducing” a lizard-man, there was truly a wealth of great stuff here. Bring on Season 11!

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What did you think of “The X-Files” season finale? Are you sad it’s over? What did you think of the ending? How about the season as a whole? Did it feel disjointed to you, or were you okay with the ups-and-downs from week to week? Was there anything in particular you found disappointing? What were your favorite moments? What would you like to see in the next season? Sound off on this and more down below, and hopefully, I’ll see you for another season on down the line!