And so we've arrived at the end of The X-Files: Season 10. The anticipated episode had everyone at the edge of their seats at times and proved to be controversial as always.
This is our last recap and review for the show for the season, so click after the jump for what we thought of "My Struggle II"
Previously on The X-Files: Season 10… happened. We open with a brief recount of the last five episodes, pertaining mainly to “My Struggle” and how the events in that episode have turned and shifted what we thought we knew about the conspiracy and those behind it. Enter CSM.
“My name is Dana Katherine Scully…” We’re then introduced to her story coming into the FBI, the X-Files, and her gradual disenchantment with what she thought was her mission. We get a glimpse of how her relationship with Mulder’s quest evolved to almost become her own - how it affected her life, how she grew to mistrust those in power, how she became a test subject of the conspiracy. She’s aware of how the men behind it want to control everyone domestically and on a global scale through these means, even when she has questions about their motives and final objectives. When will the takeover plans take place? And how does her recent discovery fit in with this scheme…? Could she be right, that the anomaly could only be classified as alien DNA, as she claims? Let’s ponder about that as we see what we can only interpret as Scully’s nightmare: Her face morphing into a grey ET.
Opening titles begin and here we go. The tagline has changed to: “This is the end.”
Scully arrives late to the FBI; she walks into the basement office, already apologizing because the building’s garage was locked for some reason. But Mulder isn’t there, and when she checks out the open laptop, she finds that Mulder has been browsing Tad O’Malley’s show again. He’s ranting about how six weeks ago they had to go off the air because of threats by people that found his show to be a menace to their agenda. But now he’s back with more accusations that he claims will reveal the truth. The discovery of alien DNA that’s in every American citizen.
Scully is shocked that Tad had the gall to continue spreading these accusations, and on her stunned expression, the phone rings. Startled, she picks up: ”Agent Mulder’s phone…” and Tad is on the line. Don’t get me started on the fact that Dana Scully still doesn’t have a desk.
O’Malley pleads for her to get “there” immediately… where? To Mulder’s house. The place is completely trashed inside. When Scully arrives, he informs her that they’d agreed to meet about a new fact surfacing. She scolds him about his report and the dangerous allegations that he threw in it. He agrees about just how dangerous they are, but sees his actions as the responsible thing to do.
He’s had his own DNA tested, resulting in detecting an anomaly in it. She dismisses it, even when he claims that he had a legitimate doctor verify it, because 90% of everybody’s genome is anomalous. Tad calls her out; she found alien DNA in Sveta, just like Mulder and he said she would. This new course of events has Mulder excited. You can tell that Scully is worried about what Mulder could have done because of this piece of news. She calls the police, even though he’s a federal employee and this should be handled by the FBI... considering just how sensitive certain things in that house must be… but I’m getting sidetracked again.
She meets with Einstein and Skinner in the basement. They have no word from Mulder, and Einstein thinks that he’d have left a note or a voice message, but 1) obviously mini Scully doesn’t know Mulder, 2) I can feel Skinner’s scoff all the way from here, and 3) there’s a reason, according to Scully, that he wouldn’t do that… because he fears her judgement on whether he’s crazy or not. She checked in on Skinner while saying that… hmm, frands have had drinks over just how off the deep end Mulder can get in the past and now. But I digress.
Scully tells them about O’Malley and his claims, and Einstein immediately scoffs at the possibility and the suggestion that they believe that alien DNA has been inserted in the population. Her little laugh is cut off by Skinner who obviously knows better than to doubt in the existence of little grey men… (“Requiem” anyone?) and asks her to be respectful of Scully because she’s talking to a Scientist… a fellow scientist on top of that.
Even when Einstein thinks that they’re entertaining pure science fiction, Scully cannot allow herself to dismiss the facts as she understands them. The younger agent cannot believe that anyone has the ability or the right to tamper with the population’s DNA, but Scully says that’s all fine and dandy, but what if we gave them that ability? Oh, you have so much to learn, young grasshopper.
They drive to Our Lady of Sorrows, AKA, the only hospital where blood for lab tests is taken exclusively in the OR, and yes, also, everyone can go in there in any kind of clothing. Scully is thankful that Einstein is still entertaining her theory. The younger woman assures her that she’s only against pseudoscience and she’d do anything that could help them find Mulder. She should have a conversation with: Doggett, Reyes, Gibson, Skinner, the Lone Gunmen, that one dude the shapeshifter almost choked to death... hell, at this point also Spender, Rohrer, Krycek, Marita, Shadow Man and Billy Miles. We should have invited Einstein to the #XFRewatch… she’d either be running for the hills or buying herself a #TeamMSR t-shirt.
Just then, a young man, seemingly a soldier, approaches them through the crowded lobby, sweaty and dazed, asking for help. As Scully calls for her assistant, I mean her personal nurse, I mean Nurse Sandeep… Einstein spots a black boil on the man’s arm. The nurses take him away to tend to him and to find out what he was exposed to.
Cut to Mulder, who’s struggling to drive and looking pretty beat up and dazed as well. His phone buzzes; Skinner is calling and Mulder lets it go to voice mail. Rude. He steps on the pedal and carries on.
Back with the super team of redheads, Einstein draws her blood at the world’s most visited OR. She doesn’t know what this test is going to prove, and while Scully doesn’t want to alarm her, she does tell her of the results of her own DNA tests six weeks ago. She found something unexplainable and by definition, alien. Einstein assures her that she won’t find that anomaly in her DNA. Scully’s point is that no one goes around sequencing their DNA to check on this occurrence, so how would people know if it’s been there the whole time. But why was she even looking, Einstein wants to know. Scully hides a sad smirk, commenting that the young woman knows little of her history and that she’s come to understand that while they both trust science, what they were taught only takes them so far. She explains to the skeptical Einstein how she was given a smallpox vaccine as a child, just like Einstein probably received as well, a standard practice in the US at the time. The agent won’t entertain the idea that the vaccine would be carrying anything other than just the inoculation. But according to Scully this isn’t far fetched; it could be something entering their system that would be passed down hereditarily. Wouldn’t that be an unprecedented violation of the public trust? Einstein asks. “Now you know more of the history I was referring to…” Scully says. Snarky Scully is snarky.
But for what purpose? Scully doesn’t know, but the possibility exists and that’s reason enough to run these tests. Einstein stares in disbelief, but Miller arrives at that moment, sent by Skinner to aid in the search for Mulder. He also tells them that O’Malley’s theories are spreading like wildfire on the Internet.
Cut to Tad’s show; he’s interviewing Dr. Oscar Griffiths (Julian Christopher) - The man claims that the scale of what’s going to develop quickly is massive, a variety of contagions that will become global. Small and otherwise harmless conditions that will plague the population, like AIDS without the HIV. The people’s immune system is decimated because of the same tampering that’s happened to everyone’s genome. According to his theory, the first ones hit by this condition will be the people we depend the most like health care workers, the police, etc.
Einstein cannot believe that they’re entertaining Tad’s paranoid rant, Miller questions his believability, and Scully thinks is all too possible and is already happening. She rushes to meet Sandeep with Miller and Einstein in tow. The soldier with the boil on his arm has grown incoherent according to Sandeep, but they’re still running tests. Scully determines right away that the man will die unless he’s given a dose of intravenous doxycycline. The nurse is confused and so am I (but google is my friend, you know?). It turns out that Scully thinks that the lesions that the soldier has are Anthrax symptoms. The two new agents demand an explanation because this is cause for alarm.
Scully explains that soldiers deployed to Iraq were given vaccines to protect them in the event of biological warfare. But if their immune systems are compromised, the vaccine would turn on them. That “protection” is infecting them. Einstein doubts this is the case and thinks it’s pure speculation, but Scully points out the left arm is where the vaccine is applied and where the man had the lesion. Why else would there be an outbreak? For her, this case is just a sign of worse things to come as a global contagion: measles, mumps, rubella, the flu… somewhere Jenny McCarthy is fist pumping and claiming that somewhat she was right all along. Sit down, anti-vaxxers - you got it wrong.
Scully doesn’t want to wait and see if this is just an exaggeration, as Einstein suggests. The agent would like to wait for the results of her own DNA tests but Scully is stubborn; she already knows what she’s going to find. We’re all aliens, my aunt was right.
Scully gets away from them and tries Mulder again. He’s parked by the side of the road, dozing off, but wakes as he hears an ambulance speed past him. He grabs his buzzing phone, and seems like he’s fighting the urge to pick up. On her end, Scully pleads for him to respond, but he swiftly continues to enforce the Mulder!Ditch™, shakes it off, and continues on his way to the “smiling faces and beautiful places” of Spartanburg, SC. Oh, what do you know… we’ll get there, hold on.
Miller goes off to search on his own; the agent goes to the basement office, contemplates the IWTB poster for a second and I can’t help but think he’s still being a fanboy of this whole operation. He sits by the desk and taps on Mulder’s laptop, finding the live link to Tad’s show.
He’s reporting they’ve been informed military personnel have been presenting with Anthrax symptoms. Way to go, whistleblowers. According to him, this was set in motion by the far reaching conspiracy of men that he’s been denouncing. Miller kills the feed ‘cause really, who can deal with that man anymore? That’s when he spots an icon on the desktop: “phonefinder.biz” (Raise your hand if you already typed that in your browser to see if it would work - o/) - The program opens, and what do you know? This locates Mulder’s phone; he’s already in Spartanburg. Mini Spooky takes the laptop with him and heads out for the hunt. A couple of us said, “tracking the phone is a standard procedure for Espo and Ryan…” and then we realized we’re watching another show. Carry on.
Back at the hospital, Einstein and Scully see how the soldier has deteriorated and the boil is already covering larger areas of his body. More soldiers are coming in sick. Scully knows this is the beginning, but Einstein thinks that they should rule out other possibilities, like a faulty vaccine as has happened in the past. She thinks they should ponder all possible scenarios, even though Scully doesn’t think a faulty vaccine is to blame. They don’t have time to ponder, but Redhead #2 just thinks that Queen Redhead is wrong. And so Scully wishes; that all of this is just a miscalculation and that some part of it explains Mulder’s disappearance, but right now they’re simply screwed.
Einstein wants her to think more about it; she only sees one class of people infected, not a general type attacked by different pathogens. This clicks something for Scully; Einstein is right. The woman explains that Scully’s proposal is that they’re tampering with the population’s immune system by adding something to the DNA but Scully doesn’t know what exactly. She doesn’t know how it’s being triggered or why is it happening now. For Einstein, it doesn’t make sense because shutting down the immune system is a complex biological process that requires the opposite of Scully’s theory: something taken away from the genome, not something added to it.
And then...Scully cellphone rings and hug my pillow… ‘cause, YES!
“Agent Scully? Dana?” The voice asks and Scully doesn’t recognize it and I want to slap her. “I can explain what’s happening.” The voice claims.
“I’m sorry. Who is this?!” Scully asks, and boy is she on alert.
“Someone that was there for you,” the woman at the other end hedges.
“‘There for me, when?” Scully is already freaking out… and so am I, because Whale Songs are playing in my head. And fanfic, so much fanfic that I’ve read - *cough* written *cough* - in the last 13 years.
“When you also needed help.” … Monica Reyes just phoned Scully, we cut to commercials and thank god for iTunes.
The two women meet in a rainy park, somewhere in fake Washington. This was the one day that it actually rained in Vancouver and I believe it is a sign, because even the skies were crying from seeing these two together again.
The guarded approach between the two dissolves when they greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. Monica somberly wishes they were meeting under better circumstances, and that other things were also different about why she’s there today. I watched this scene grinning like an idiot. So what? Sue me.
Monica summoned her because there’s something that Scully needs to know. When she went back to the FBI, Scully looked her up but she found out that she’d been gone for a decade, leaving in a hurry. Monica confirms it, solemn; she’s made certain choices that Scully may not approve of or understand, but that made sense to her at the time.
Cut to a flashback; Monica - presumably in 2006 - walks down the heavily guarded halls of a hospital, showing her badge as she passes every checkpoint. This Monica fangirl is having a moment. She reaches the end of the hall and a man informs her that “someone” requested to speak with her. She shouldn’t be alarmed by his appearance, since he will be making a full recovery. You already know who we’re talking about here… no other than the Cigarette Smoking Man. This guy and the cockroaches will survive the nuclear winter, I’m convinced.
He summoned her because he had an offer to make. Monica describes how he was so badly burnt that they had to reconstruct his whole face. And really, kudos to the SPFX makeup department; that was one disgusting array, as Monica - justifiably shocked at the sight - walked closer when he invited her to come to his side. She was cautious, as anyone would be of a man that got blown up by missiles and still managed to survive.
Anyway… CSM proceeds to start with his usual cocky speech; she thought that he was dead - Yes, Monica. You, and the rest of the fandom - but “Spender, the First” brags about how they haven’t managed yet. He relishes in the disgust in Reyes’ eyes. And it is justified; she’s aware of all the things he’d done and to whom-- she knows what kind of a “man” is before her. Still, he’s never thought of himself as an evil one, and he can say all he wants but she’s clear that he’s a liar.
Back to the park, Scully wants to know what he wanted. Monica painfully admits that he wanted to make a deal with her, one that left her with “very little choice”. She wants Scully to understand why she would change her whole life. At XFN we’ve come up with a list of ideas on how to justify that Monica would have made that choice. They include but aren’t limited to: Doggett in danger, William in danger, Scully in danger… Mulder in danger… in short, something justifiable, but this isn’t what happened and I’m expecting a rich variety of fanfic coming our way. Fangirl fantasy over.
Monica continues to fill her in: in the flashback, CSM waxes poetic about how he can’t kick his nicotine habit, almost begging for a cigarette even in his state. She can’t help him with that but he is actually seeking another type of help in exchange for her life. Monica reminds him it’s a federal crime to threaten an FBI agent, and how he is in no position to be threatening anyone, but CSM is larger than life. He’s the most powerful man in the world. I thought that was the Dos Equis man. But I digress.
Back on the park bench, Monica continues to try and associate the reports of what’s currently going on to her encounter with CSM back then. Scully has no patience for this: how did he threaten Monica? According to Reyes, he threatened her with “the ultimate weapon - the ability to depopulate the planet…” only sparing the life of a few chosen ones. Scully makes the link; he would do so by carrying out the project that tampered with their DNA, with science that according to Monica was acquired in the 50’s and given to them by an alien race. It isn’t as simple as Scully tries to reason; according to Monica it’s not as simple as alien and human DNA mixed.
Jump to some time between 2006 and today. A much recovered CSM commands orders through the phone as Monica puts a cigarette to the hole in his trachea. She spitefully remarks he’s slowly killing himself while he holds the world hostage. He smugly comments that the world will go on, just in his image instead of the gods. He doesn’t think he’s god… as he signals her to give him another hit of the cigarette. In between lines, I infer he’s happy to think he’s probably just playing to be the devil.
“They won’t know what hit them…” he claims. “But their fates were sealed since birth. They were simply puppets.” Monica looks at him in disgust, I want to throw up, and there’s a distinct sound of cringing in the room right now.
“You will die a lonely, old man,” She says with some satisfaction. But he crushes that hope… because he’s ensured that he’s manipulated her enough that she’ll be there right next to him to roll his smokes.
I have to admit I just threw a shoe at the wall and I’m sure Scully would have too. She gets up from the bench, indignant, wondering if Reyes just called her to report on how much of a coward she’s become. NOOOO, I’m literally fake weeping as I write this- no, wait, there was a tear. Don’t fight, unicorns!
Monica assures her that she summoned her to tell her that she’s protected. Because of her history, her abduction, the tests, her DNA - she’s safe. Scully is one of the chosen elite and so is Monica. That was CSM’s offering. Everyone else’s demise has been happening since 2012, and there’s a part of me that’s fist pumping at all the naysayers that cried foul whenever we didn’t get a movie back then and thought that we couldn’t revisit this little deadline.
Scully frantically wants to stop this train, but Monica points out that the science behind this upcoming pandemic is complicated. What about Mulder? Scully asks. And Reyes claims that CSM “loves” him… Sure, he’s his dad after all, right? I believe that Spender is from the parenting school of tough love, though… because Monica tells her that he sent a man to offer Mulder a deal and we cut to one of the best fight scenes this show has ever had.
We’re obviously back to the moment before Tad O’Malley arrived at Mulder’s unremarkable house. Man with leather jacket enters the home - let’s call him Faux Krycek - and right away Mulder surprises him, gun in hand, and ready to deliver a can of whoopass. No, for real, this was a great fight, even though Mulder was losing at times and they really destroyed the place as they punched the hell out of each other.
Faux Krycek overpowers Mulder, and throws him, managing to break his poor kitchen table. He pulls a gun and we all think that he’s gonna shoot. Mulder manages to fool him and turn the tables, pinning the guy’s arm, pointing the gun at him, and demanding to know who sent him. Naturally, we cut to CSM, enjoying a cigarette at his Spartanburg home, as a very rough looking Fox Mulder points a gun to the man’s head. Daddy sent for him and you can’t blame Mulder for being obedient.
Despite actually showing up to his place, Mulder is defiant, saying that he’s not there just because he beckoned him. But really, he is. CSM smugly claims that he controlled him before he even knew of his existence. But who’s in control now? According to the galaxy’s worst father, the one in control is the world itself that’s crumbling around them. Now Mulder knows, he set this disaster in motion. But even though he threatens him, CSM claims it’s too late to be a hero. Mulder doesn’t believe him, but as Spender points out, is it that he just doesn’t want to believe? Despite Mulder’s mistrust, he really just wants to save his life. Mulder refuses to make deals with the Devil, and CSM points out that’s just because he wants to see Scully again. Just the mention of her name boils Mulder’s blood and he swipes CSM’s cig out of his hand, promising more if he dares harm to her in any way. Be still my heart. CSM laughs; every man has his weakness. Mulder has Scully, he has his cigarettes. This makes me a new level of sick, because now Monica is the one rolling his cigarettes and I’m really trying hard not to barf. Also, whatever happened to his weakness with Teena Mulder? You’re one to talk, CSM.
To Mulder, Spender is destroying the world thinking that’s powerful when in reality it’s just sickness. But the man thinks the real sickness would be not deploying this plan. Mulder thinks he’s a psychopath and CSM tries to excuse himself while bringing up just how many other woes humankind in general has brought to the planet. Sure, man… let’s go with that. Even Mulder is like WTF!? So you’re just going to murder all the people … right.
According to CSM, the aliens predicted this because it happened to them as well, only that he conveniently kept this a secret and did nothing about it but plan for a selfish outcome. Spender tries to excuse his inability to do anything by saying that really no one could have stopped this, and so he just planned his end game, setting the time table convenient to him without really manipulating the outcome. Everyone still dies, he claims, and Mulder feels just so inclined to make it happen for him right then and there and points the gun at him again, like he’s done so many times in the past. This guy doesn’t die, he could have just shot him for the pure satisfaction, to see him grow a new head like Leonard Betts or that dude from Men in Black. Anyhow...
Spender doesn’t even flinch. What is he really offering Fox Mulder? A seat at his table, “it would be a shame without you…” he claims, but Mulder still has some principles it seems. This just makes me even madder about Monica, because I’m trying to rationalize so hard why she would make deals. I want to believe that there’s an even more heroic twist to that story. Spender offers even more, to restart the world together, and Scully could join them too. I’m so glad that Mulder expressed my feelings exactly. I would have added a few more expletives though. The thing is that Mulder doesn’t have much time to be brave, he’s sick, and CSM is very aware of it, elated even that he’s at his mercy.
Cut to Tad O’Malley: he’s reporting on the gradual collapse of shelters and hospitals because of the increasing influx of sick people. He denounces the mainstream media who is failing to report how Anthrax has been giving way to flu and bacterial diseases. Additionally, he warns that if anyone spots a series of graffitis in their neighborhoods, they’re most likely the target of DNA tampering by the release of aluminum into the atmosphere via chemtrails that affects humans, triggering a genetic response. The immunity to common germs is breaking down in New York, California, Washington, and various other places across the country, and city hospitals cannot take the load.
At Lady of Sorrows, we come back to Scully at the now overpopulated health center. Sandeep meets her, concerned that they cannot keep up with the number of patients and that they will get sick as well. But Scully is working on a solution, and she needs Einstein for that. The agent has holed up in one of the trauma rooms, scared to even go outside and catch whatever variety of illness is affecting everyone. There’s nothing to do for the people out there, not yet, Scully claims. And Einstein just confirmed with the Center for Disease Control that they’re fighting massive contagions and are at a loss of how to contain them. Einstein’s about to contact the World Health Organization, but Scully needs her help.
Einstein begins to do her version of an apology, accepting that Scully was right about her fears of a pandemic, but Scully recognizes that she was wrong as well about the science behind her own proposal. It’s not the mix with alien DNA that is causing this failure; alien DNA is what Scully has in her and it is all that can save them. The reason everyone is sick has a different cause; the failure of their immune system is being triggered by a separate system in the germ line. It’s part of the sperm and ova, a virus within a virus, that was put there through the smallpox vaccine - this is the Spartan Virus. Because… get it? Get it?
Einstein wants to know where is she getting this… and Scully assures her that this came from “a trusted friend that says it’s not too late to change it.” I’m going to grab on to that “trusted friend” like there’s no tomorrow, Chris Carter.
The plan is to amplify Scully’s DNA and use her alien DNA to create a vaccine to fight the Spartan virus. She swabs her mouth and instructs Einstein to do a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) to achieve this amplification using primers from Scully’s genetic sequence. They don’t have much time, so Einstein rushes out.
Back at the House of the Spartan, Mulder has collapsed because of whatever affliction he’s got going on. CSM tells him that this is not the time to let his pride get in the way, but Mulder is, of course, stubborn as always. Spender kicks the gun away from Mulder while waxing poetic about how ironic it is that the being with the biggest brain is defeated by the smallest microbes… all thanks to the Spartan virus
Sure egomaniac. Mulder thinks he’s crazy and that he’ll be sorry when he’s gone. CSM claims that he’d miss him dearly; he’s made his life “truly worth living…” Oh… fatherhood. No wonder Mulder is so afraid of it.
Mulder crawls to CSM’s empty armchair and jokes about how he’s sitting at the King’s throne and it feels soft just like the King. Was that covert dick joke? CSM doesn’t let it pass taking off the flesh-like mask he’s been wearing and reminding him in the goriest way that he cheated death. Mulder laughs in delirium wishing Scully were there to see the monster he’s become. Spender cruelly remarks that if Mulder dies... he will be all that she’ll have left. Will he then buy her another super ultra low cut dress and take her out to dinner?
Back at the lab Einstein and Scully rush to verify that they’ve extracted what’s needed to make the vaccine but as they hit the gel with the black light they cannot find the part that would help them create the vaccine. It’s just not there. Scully was so sure that they’d find it at chromosome 17 since she saw it when she sequenced her own genome just weeks ago. A sick Sandeep interrupts them - the doctors are all collapsing and she needs to know if she can help.
Meanwhile Tad O’Malley has been locked in with his TV crew and he’s also not looking very healthy. He informs that there are reports of deaths already: soldiers dying of Anthrax and the elderly dying as well because of depleted or non-existent immune systems. This attack on America is also being done via microwave radiation to trigger a system failure. The attack may also be global in scope. He recommends for everyone to stay inside; his crew is suffering as well but they hope that they’ll be safe until there’s a turnaround.
But the scene at Sorrows is grim. Everyone is looking at death’s door and now they’re having power failures. “As if we’re not already in the dark ” Scully snarks sadly.
Einstein tries to regroup. What’s wrong with their calculations? Scully recounts: the Spartan virus removes the ADA gene that without it the immune system simply vanishes and even though Einstein is not getting sick Scully thinks that’s just a matter of time. Without alien DNA she doesn’t stand a chance. But how does the virus remove this gene?
Through a process called CRISPR/Cas9 - RNA and a protein cut the genes at exact locations and right now that’s being used as a weapon. So how does the alien DNA protects from this weapon? It must deactivate it somehow Scully theorizes. But why didn’t they see the alien DNA in the gel they tested? Scully thinks that whoever created this weapon must have foreseen they’d come looking for it and found a way to hide it. But Einstein recoils - they made a mistake; because Scully’s DNA is different they should have taken a bigger sample since she has extra nucleotides.
Back at Spartanburg Miller has arrived and wakes Mulder who’s passed out at CSM’s throne. He’s looking worse and Miller is not looking so hot himself… Mulder tries to persuade him to leave because he thinks there’s nothing to be done and CSM agrees: there’s nothing to be done for anyone. But baby Spooky fears no evil… he’s resolute to leave with Mulder even when Spender tells him that they won’t get too far. He’s planned this carefully. Miller cares none and hauls Mulder off the throne.
My head-canon at this point is that Monica has deserted too. Smoke trails like the roadrunner.
Back at the hospital Einstein is collecting blood from Scully. If they do a PCR with a bigger sample they should be able to see the alien DNA this time around and get an amplification. But Einstein is already falling victim of the virus feverish even when she’s fighting it.
Miller drags Mulder out of CSM’s mansion; the old man follows them half threatening-half contemplative of what’s going on. Miller is bent on saving his hero but Mulder proposes that he saves himself to ask CSM for the cure. Miller doesn’t understand why Mulder didn’t get it from him but that’s what CSM wants to have Mulder at his mercy. Miller gets Mulder in the car and turns to Spender “Who the hell are you anyway?” Oh Miller… I want to sit you down and tell you so many things. “Before he dies tell him goodbye for me.” Spender says and I just can’t with this guy. The agent gets in the car and takes off as Mulder tiredly watches Spender stay behind.
At the lab the two agents have finished the test and the alien DNA shows up in the gel this time. They have to centrifuge it but Einstein is already too sick to continue helping Scully. She’s on her own but Dana pleads with her. They’re going to have a cure; she begs her to not give up on her. Miller calls; he’s driving north with Mulder and neither of them are doing well. They’re going to keep driving up to Washington and Scully will find them wherever they end up.
On her own - because Scully is the master of it all - she manages to figure out how to craft the vaccine off of her own alien DNA and creates IVs for Einstein who’s gotten worse. She sets up the dose for her and leaves some behind so Einstein can replicate it and distribute it amongst the doctors in the hospital. If this solution works they’ll all have alien DNA. “They should all hope to have it. It’s the only hope they have.” Scully claims.
Tad O’Malley struggles to continue his transmissions. They’re getting less reports now that lines of communication are failing since everyone is falling sick. The city is collapsed. Scully tries to make her way through the crowds going insane in the streets looting and in panic. She urges them to get to the hospital and that help is on the way. She texts Tad telling him about the vaccine that could be a miracle… “Don’t give up.” I have that tattooed on my arm does that mean I’m good to go?
She reaches her car and tries to make her way through the streets and sidewalks fighting off the mess that the city has become. Miller and Mulder are stuck on the bridge over the Potomac; it’s packed with cars and people trying to get out of the city. Scully tries to locate them as they communicate via cellphones and when she can’t move anymore she climbs out of the car with the IVs filled with vaccine. Miller gets out of his car as well - he’s looking pretty bad now - they spot each other through the crowd and she rushes to Mulder’s side.
He’s looking like he’s at death’s door.
“Mulder I’m here…” she says trying to appear calm with a sad smile on her face.
“He saved your life… Old Smoky” Mulder comments… “I suppose I should thank him.”
Scully tries to calm him down; they’re going to save his life. Mulder tries to dissuade her - Miller is also in trouble but Scully can save them both. As she gets up and approaches Miller we realize that she’s been trying to remain calm for Mulder’s sake. He’s far worse than she imagined and what she can do right now might not help. He needs something else… He needs stem cells in him right now (she knows she googled this for IWTB ‘memba that?).
Miller wants to know: “Stem cells from who?” Scully explains that they have a child together who would be protected by his inheritance of her alien DNA. Miller is stoked he’s going to go call his BFF about it later I’m sure about how dare his OTP give up their kid... but for now he just wants to know how to get to their son. But... Scully doesn’t know… and then… a blinding light hovers above them.
Hovering over the bridge everyone spots a flying craft shining the beam directly at the trio as it descends slowly closer to them now. What is it? A UFO? An ARV? Mulder stands still as it happens Miller doesn’t react and Scully stares frightened directly into the light… On her beautiful fearful blue eyes… we go into the darkness.
See you in season eleven?
I usually would have been ready to go with my review right after the episode aired but this time it was different for a variety of reasons including life. At the same time I needed time to stew on this. I had the opportunity to sit down with both Chris Carter and Annabeth Gish as I came to write this recap and review. I sat with fellow XFNers that had the opportunity to talk to Anne Simon about the episode and dissect the science behind it and I even have Joselyn Rojas’ take on what we learned in this episode. This was most likely useful and at the same time made preparing for this review one of the most comprehensive moments I’ve had lately.
The thing is that I had all these opportunities to understand… but what about the rest of the audience?
When I live tweeted the episode on February 22nd I did so in a room that was at points as confused as I was by what was going on. But isn’t that the state of affairs with The X-Files most of the time? It is about having a million questions that eventually - one hopes - will be answered.
My gut reaction that day was a straight out “Just… no” that I emailed to a friend right after I finished watching knowing that I would come around to changing my mind upon a second or third view. The thing is - as he pointed out - we shouldn’t have to come around. I was right though I came around but it took me a week writing this recap and going through all of these resources to rationalize and realize what the objective was.
One of the things that remains consistent from my comments about the first episode and that carry to this one as well is that I’m always left hanging like I needed more screen time more time to process. And I’m not alone in this. Talking to fellow filmmakers and editors at that the lack of breathing room was the general complaint. In this episode what I thought it was is a case of having too much to develop in too little time it was also a case of missing important steps along the way that would have made my understanding much clearer. I had to google terms school myself in science that was completely unknown to me and while I appreciate this because I should broaden my horizons… I wonder just how many went about doing this kind of homework as well.
And there’s a basic concept: Show… don’t tell. Or show me while you tell… or at least narrate to me in a way that these complex concepts become so clear that my mind is not occupied trying to discern them missing the next beat on the next scene. We spend a decent amount of time in the episode being told what’s happening or what happened but we don’t see it. I know there are parts where this exposition or philosophical conversations actually make Chris Carter’s writing unique and testament to that are the scenes between William B. Davis and David Duchovny… But those weren’t the meat and potatoes of the episode.
I know there are production limitations and even science factors that would play into what would have made a perfect cinematographic experience. The X-Files left the station long ago when it comes to producing TV. The show has a standard of its own. But I know that a writer a director ...a producer is always fighting time and money. It almost feels unfair to criticize knowing what it entails.
On a first watch you wouldn’t get half of the amazing science that Anne Simon and Margaret Fearon came up with to explain how the human and alien DNA the virus within a virus and the junk DNA are part of this masterful conspiracy.
And so I wished this episode had been at least an hour and a half. And it wasn’t so much about resolution as Chris Carter inferred was my need… it was more about having the possibility to even understand that there were things that needed resolution. These details breezed so fast past me that it was at times just a placeholder in my head with a label marked “Here be Science”. So if it wasn’t the content as I came to realize upon writing the recap and if I put it on the way it was laid out…. I’m left wondering… was that a good or a bad thing? Is the fact that we’re hit with so many revealing scenes one after the other a problem or actually something we should be thankful for?
It’s hard to dislike an episode that on some level I really really like. And here’s the deal: For years we’ve craved this type of episode. We’ve sat and imagined how it would look like to have Mulder and Scully fight against evil come the end of the world. We imagined Mark Snow’s score we saw the flames go up as they held onto each other were they able to save humanity from destruction or not. I am perfectly aware as well of just how much these are ruminations of our own desires and at the end of the day it’s Chris Carter who’s going to be telling this story.
I wish in hindsight even though I loved “Founder’s Mutation” “Mulder and Scully meet the Were-Monster” and “Home Again” that on some level they had been able to carry me to the steps of “My Struggle II” through those episodes. With only six episodes even if we are ever so hopeful that we’re going to get a season eleven - and who knows if more- I would have preferred that all these details would have been fed to me slowly giving me time to ruminate even to research if that was your objective as a groundbreaking storyteller. Allow me to be part of this and give me a fighting chance at it. Maybe who’s really failing me is the school system and the fact that I barely paid any attention through high school to any other things that weren’t literature art and languages. But that’s just part of my problem with assimilating “My Struggle II”
Another aspect that is left undeveloped is Monica Reyes’ return to this universe. And I don’t think I have to explain that I’m totally biased because I adore this character what’s truly surprising to me is just how many people came out of the woods with pitchforks over this one. On some level it actually made me happy because all of these years I’ve lived with the nagging commentary from people that never truly got the importance and nature of Monica Reyes in The X-Files.
But here comes trouble as Gill Dennis used to say… Did Chris Carter get the importance and nature of Monica Reyes? I’ve tried to figure out if I’m getting caught up between my fangirl and my writer self about this one and truly making a conscious effort to have my own opinion and not the ones that came out of the thirty-something reviewers that hated that Monica sold out to the devil. As much as I’d like to entertain that everyone has flaws and that Monica Reyes is not perfect I don’t know how this character got to the point that she betrayed herself.
Last we saw her Reyes delivered a speech in “The Truth” that was powerful that tolerated no BS from people that wanted to keep them under their thumb. Monica Reyes is a fighter and a righteous one at that. That’s the woman I got to meet while she fought to defend Mulder and Scully sometimes at the expense of her life.
In the thirteen years since we’ve seen her I realized that as much as I allow and believe that Scully and Mulder have changed I should also allow that Monica Reyes has evolved… or devolved. I still have to forgive the missed opportunity of not having Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. And there are two initial problems about Monica’s change: 1) as a simple option: it goes against her operative system. It’s as if you were to tell me: hey I have this PC let’s install Mac OS on it… and don’t worry it will be fine and it makes sense. 2) we’re given the bare minimal explanation and one that quite doesn’t land the punch line about why emotionally this would make sense to the woman that delivered William into this world. I’m slowly walking myself through my problem with this storyline.
When I asked Chris Carter about this he had interesting things to say that even made me crave a spin-off. But that’s the problem… If you had taken the time to a) explain to me just a bit more how Monica Reyes suffered because of her isolation from her support system b) if you had taken the time to tell me where John Doggett is (even if Robert Patrick couldn’t step away from his well earned place at Scorpion) 3) actually pieced together the emotional trail that made Monica decide that an alliance with the devil made sense… even if you don’t deliver the whole plan but the essential pieces that play at the strings of the heart then I would have bought it. If you had told me how that Mac OS now is totally compatible with Bill Gates’ desktop soldiers… oh yeah I would have definitely be at ease. Kudos to you if you got that PC vs. Mac analogy.
The actual problem is that Monica Reyes is offered a deal or threatened into one and if she doesn’t take it - by what we’ve learned so far - the world would end. If she makes the deal we’re led to believe that she’s made immune to the pandemic coming our way. But we’re skipping over something really important: what is the deal? Because right now we’re only learning the threat the reward but not the sacrifice. We’re not learning what they wanted from her. Why is she the one? What does she have to offer back? Why is she so important that Spender couldn’t offer this to any other person? She surely didn’t stay at the FBI so it isn’t about access. It’s not like they needed it anyways. She seems to only be rolling CSM’ smokes and at some point I even entertained the sickening idea that he wanted to secure the multiplication of his spawn - yes I went there - especially since he was getting to the point where maybe this time he’d dodged the bullet (or missile) but could he do it another time?
But then I get to my next step trying to answer my own question: there has to be a great emotional tie to the reason why she decides to give up her life and join CSM. That “something” they want from her has to be more important and permanent than the ability to roll a joint. I do not believe for one second that she would only side with him for her sole survival or even if CSM lied to her saying that he’d kill everyone on the planet if she didn’t because without her friends in her life having betrayed everyone what’s the point? She has to be ensuring survival in terms of specifics other than just herself just like they have a very specific interest in her that has also allowed her to stick around… because really we all know how these people don’t believe in honoring their promises.
So I have reached the question? What’s the point? Is she once again doing all of this sacrificing her life for the sake of those that she loves? Is she securing this access to the devil’s plans because she knew she could protect Mulder Scully and William from the inside something that had been an impossibility when she was left behind at odds with the FBI? Will this unicorn continue to save the day doing so in remorse for what she’s done? Scully seems to have forgiven her… but will we be given the tools to also forgive her ourselves?
Regrettably so I would have preferred that Scully hadn't forgiven her but that we as an audience would had been given something to hold on to that makes her actions and reasoning justifiable and which dscovery would have made a nice arc and tension between these characters. That “show not tell” that I’m missing includes this something that we know would be enough for Scully to forgive her instead of being told as an audience to let her off the hook. Reyes role is pivotal she leads Scully to the cure... so I see why trust had to be achieved in order to pursue this avenue... but skipping over that moment seems like a lost opportunity. It was a moment to open even more doors... not neccesarily resolution.
Both Chris Carter and Annabeth Gish waxed poetic with me about this road to perdition but the truth of the matter is that we’re left with a hole in the plot. A director and a writer give to an actor tools to build their character and theorizing is great… when that comes in some way on the screen. Sadly this isn’t the case for the explanation of the demise of Monica Reyes. And I’m not okay with this.
I’m also dissatisfied as a whole with how little Skinner was involved in the overall season. He was the one to bring them back to the FBI so I expected him to be more involved and to know exactly what happened to him during all those years? I was left hanging hoping for at least one line that would have explained it. Maybe we can have a spin-off with Monica and Skinner where we can finally learn. I’m not being bitter I swear this is a legitimate idea.
One thing I’m really satisfied with was how Einstein and Miller were way more believable than in “Babylon”. Resistance to the new can be damned; these characters made sense in “My Struggle II”. One of our staffers even made the comment of how for her the conversations between Scully and Einstein just made her imagine how these could have been conversations between Scully and Emily… and that just broke my heart.
I have to admit that even when I knew the cliffhanger was coming having had conversations with Glen Morgan and Chris Carter about it I was probably not prepared for the tension of the last ten minutes of the show. I thoroughly enjoyed how big it was and I suppose that this is what Chris Carter envisioned for a third movie. A big gigantic global chaos that would be the shitstorm of all times as Mulder would say.
Throughout the episode I really enjoyed Mark Snow’s work. It heightened everything; I felt the music was a character this time around more so throughout this episode than others. The cinematography and production was also remarkable turning Vancouver in the image of a DC in hell. Also it should be mentioned that after all the research and conversations the respect I have for Anne Simon’s knowledge has grown exponentially despite my complaints about the narrative. I applaud that the show took a stand through varied voices of issues that are current and pressing. They’re not to be dismissed and more people should be taking them as the central and most dramatic problems and not vehicles to be part of a trend. CSM may use global warming as a scapegoat Tad O’Malley might be paranoid… but sadly some of those facts aren’t science fiction.
But now onto the very last scene: William’s part in Mulder’s salvation. As much as they’ve tried to protect the kid from facing these horrors there are two things that we’ve touched upon about the whole situation of his adoption and continuing to not look for him: separation was healthy so they could protect him or the diagonally opposed scenario: by separating… they may have not protected him at all.
Bringing him into the mix by “using” him to save Mulder might seem selfish to some. I’ve already heard it but it’s funny to me that this was always just leading to the inevitable. You can’t escape life and responsibility and that’s something that Glen Morgan touched upon brilliantly in “Home Again”. I hope we dig into this when the time comes because the characters are owed this growth out of experience out of the aftermath of bringing him back into their lives and facing situations they tried to evade.
And so… that light at the end. With the cat out of the bag an UFO or an ARV hovering above the crazed population how do you go back from that? You simply can’t because you’ve evaporated the innocence while the world’s paranoia is at an all time high. Even Mulder is like “oh… crap.” But the real question is… are they (and who’s they?) there to save them? To kill them? Are they there to shower the sick with a version of the vaccine to stop CSM’s plans? Or is this as some have joked around William appearing on cue to save his parents?
I keep imagining what the first episode of season eleven will be like and I can’t wait. I really can’t.
As a wrap up to this revival I would like to say that it’s been a pleasure to have our beloved characters back. I'm very thankful for the whole team at 1013 Productions and FOX for bringing back the show. So it’s hard to say that some things didn’t work for me when they worked for others sometimes it even felt presumptuous to tear certain parts of these episodes apart. There were many wins besides monster ratings. I often asked myself if we were ready to come back to them if the writers were ready if we had rationalized that there isn’t a way to please everyone in this fandom and that isn’t necessarily a showmanship of failure. The revival has been a moment of deep reflection for me as a fan as a writer as an aspiring showrunner.
I am very proud of how this fandom has gathered excitedly and has made every part of the work at XFN an indescribable delight. It put many things into perspective for me and for our staff about our role in this community. I’m very proud of the work put behind bringing Mulder and Scully back because it isn’t an easy endeavor to open the door to sacred grounds… and I’m thankful that all of this happened to us. I’m proud that we’re still groundbreaking I’m thankful for the challenges and looking forward to more.
Just think about this: For everyone that at any point was so emotionally invested in this show in one way or another… we once dreamed of today. Now that we’re here with a possibility of more how does that feel?