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The X-Files - My Struggle - Review

The X-Files returned with “My Struggle” written and directed by creator Chris Carter. I’ll admit that when I first saw this episode about a month ago – the joys of screeners! – I was underwhelmed. However, on viewing it again even after an interminable wait for the NFC to finish, I was much more impressed with the episode. Is it The X-Files we left off with? No. Is it vintage X-Files. No. But the problem with expecting something to be as good as we remember it and as good as we remember it being when we first watched is that we are doomed to be disappointed. Nothing ever re-captures that first novelty. It can’t by very definition ever be that new experience again. This X-Files is a mature show – or at least the characters have matured even while some things will never change. Much like Lost, we are never going to get a straight answer because the delight is in the mystery and always being denied that closure of a definitive answer.

The episode begins with a wonderful voiceover by Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) that fills us in on what we need to know about him and the show. He’s been driven to find the truth since his sister went missing. In 1993 the FBI brought in a scientist to debunk his work on the paranormal – Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and in 2002 the FBI closed the X-Files – nicely placing the series in historical context. The opening ends with the crash of what appears to be a UFO. The voiceover ends by asking us Are they really a hoax? Are we truly alone? Or are we being lied to?

The episode begins in the past – the High Desert of Northwest New Mexico in 1947. This flashback is teased out as the story progresses. A doctor (Giacomo Baessato) has arrived at the crash site. Eventually, they come across and alien dragging himself away from the wreckage and the soldiers shoot it without mercy or hesitation, much to the doctor’s dismay. He insists on taking the body away with him. We are left to assume that whatever he did with the body – and its DNA in the past is linked to the mystery that is unfurling in the present.

Scully is now working as a surgeon, helping to restore children who have been born without ears. A condition that is very real by the way. She gets a call from Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) to call Mulder. Mulder has apparently become something of a recluse. Skinner wants Mulder to talk to Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), the man behind Mindquad – a site dedicated to exposing the truth.

Mulder manages to get Scully to meet O’Malley with him, and he takes them both to meet Sveta (Annet Mahendru). She’s a multiple abductee. Mulder doesn’t remember her but she insists that he interviewed her as a young girl after her first abduction. She shows them her scoop marks and then tells them that the aliens made her pregnant several times as well as implanting alien DNA in her through her bellybutton. Mulder asks Scully if the DNA is something she could test for, essentially roping her in deeper.

I liked that the episode used Sveta – who is both telekinetic and telepathic but not all the time – to fill us in on what’s been happening with Mulder and Scully. As Scully examines Sveta and takes her blood, Sveta tells her that she knows Mulder and Scully were once a couple but aren’t anymore. She surmises that Mulder is depressed and that’s what destroyed their relationship. She also knows that they have a child together – but doesn’t mention where the child may be. Sveta also accuses Scully of not knowing what it’s like to be abducted… but then she corrects herself – maybe you do…

O’Malley takes Mulder to his secure facility. Dr Garner (Hiro Kanagawa) shows him the alien ship they have in the Faraday cage. It runs on “free energy,” the energy of the universe – or the force if you’re into Star Wars -  It also has a gravity warp drive. Mulder is very clear about the difference between himself and O'Malley. O'Malley declares himself a true believer, while Mulder says he wants to believe, but actual proof has been very hard to come by...

Meanwhile, O’Malley visits Dana. She’s taking her own blood – to test for how high her cholesterol is. He admires the work she is doing, and she tells him she wanted something completely different from what she did before. She also describes her relationship with Mulder as both difficult and rewarding. O’Malley is clearly interested in her, and when Mulder inevitably calls, she and O’Malley are in his limousine drinking the champagne she’d turned down earlier.

Mulder goes back to Sveta and she admits that she lied because she thought that O’Malley wouldn’t want to hear that it was actually men who took her babies not aliens. Svetta intuitively realizes that Mulder is most worried that the government has been lying to him. When Mulder calls Scully he tells her that they’ve been lied to. He asks her what if there is no alien conspiracy?

Mulder visits the FBI and Skinner lets him into his old office. The pencils are still in the ceiling from Mulder putting them there. The poster we all remember is lying half torn on the floor and Mulder himself finishes the process. The files Mulder is looking for are all gone. Mulder tells Skinner that “they” are controlling the past to control the future. Skinner insists that he called Mulder in the first place because he’s looking out for him. Mulder tells him that they liked to Skinner too.

Skinner reveals that there hasn’t been a day when he didn’t want to call Mulder because the world has become even stranger since 9/11. Mulder remarks that “they” police us and spy on us and tell we’re safer and we’ve never been in more danger.

Scully gets the tests back and they are negative so she orders another round of tests that look at the entire genome. The second test comes back positive for both her and Sveta!

Rance Howard the wonderful character actor – and Ron Howard’s Dad – plays the doctor from the flashbacks in the present. He would appear to be Mulder’s deepthroat for this run of the series. Mulder tells the old man that he had been cleverly manipulated, but he’s seen the tech and has the how. He believes the alien tech was used against them by men. Mulder wants to know what the tests were for. The doctor tells Mulder that he’s a man of medicine and didn’t know how his work would be used. He tells Mulder that he’s nearly there and that Roswell was a smokescreen.

Scully goes to Mulder’s when she can’t get him on the phone. She’s worried about him as a friend and a physician. There’s still that tension between the two of them. Anderson and Duchovny play of each other and their chemistry beautifully. Sveta is at Mulder’s and Scully is not impressed. O’Malley arrives and Scully stays. Mulder explains that alien life forms came to earth, attracted by the Hydrogen bombs. They came to try to keep the humans from self-extermination.

They discuss the possibility of a multi-national takeover of America, disguised to look like and alien invasion. Scully warns that they can’t say these things – it’s close to treason. O’Malley insists he’s going public the next day.

Scully quickly checks the internet the next day before surgery and sees that Sveta has talked to reporters, saying that she lied and that O’Malley put her up to it. Mulder goes to Sveta’s house, but she’s disappeared. Soldiers with now identifying insignia destroy the alien ship. By the time Scully finishes her surgery, O’Malley’s site is gone.

Mulder meets her in the garage. She’s concerned about him because he looks exhausted. She tell him about the DNA. Skinner texts both of them at once. We cut to Sveta in her car and the typical alien abduction scenario. Her car dies, a huge ship hovers overhead while she is scanned. However, it doesn’t end with her being abducted. It ends with the ship blowing up Sveta and her car!

The final scene takes place in a darkened room. There’s a fireplace with the words carpe diem carved above it. We pull back to reveal the Smoking Man (William B Davis). He’s still smoking even though he now has to do it via his throat! He tells whoever is with him that they have a problem. The X-Files have been re-opened!

The limited series continues tonight at 8pm on Fox and then regularly on Monday nights. Look for the return of the Lone Gunman and Annabeth Gish as Monica Reyes coming up in future episodes. I liked the way in which Mulder and Scully seem to carry the weight of the events that have transpired off camera. What did you think of the episode? Favorite line or scene? Were you happy with the storyline? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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