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The X-Files - My Struggle III - Review

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The X-Files returned with “My Struggle III” written and directed by Chris Carter. In my opinion, this was a Dallas shower scene. For those of you too young to remember, I hope you are at least familiar with the trope. Something we thought had real stakes turns out to be a vision or a dream – or nothing at all? It seems all the provocative questions raised in “My Struggle II” were simply a figment of Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) mind. I’m still looking forward to the new season, but my faith that Carter will ever truly deliver on the mytharc portion of the show is quickly waning to nothing. And yet, when the show is good, it’s great…

I did appreciate how all the “My Struggle” episodes are somewhat structurally similar. This one begins with the Smoking Man (William B Davis) delivering the initial voice over re-cap. I thought it a bold move to link Trump in with the evil cabal. However, I’m not entirely sure how serious we should take the entire thing once we see the Smoking Man overseeing the moon landing being shot on a sound stage – such an old conspiracy theory! I did like that we are getting some insight into the character – though the bit of empathy we may feel for his plea that he’s explaining for his sons wanes as the episode and his intentions roll out.

We come back fairly quickly to Scully’s eye from the last shot, but now she’s on the floor unconscious in Mulder’s (David Duchovny) office. Scully is taken to the hospital where they detect abnormal brain activity. Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) shows up and insists that he can see a message in the abnormal blinking: “Find him.” It’s clear to Skinner that Scully wants Mulder to find their son.

When Scully finally wakes up, she sends Mulder to the Smoking Man to get answers. This really seems to be the contrary episode as Mulder appears to be the only sceptic, finding it hard to believe any of what’s happening. Duchovny’s voice over sounded bored to me – in fact many of the performances in the episode seemed a bit flat, and when faced with that many flat performances, I tend to look at the director.

In the end, Mulder agrees to look into the Smoking Man who he insists is dead. When Mulder is followed upon leaving the hospital, he turns the tables and chases after a man (Mike Dopud) who he thinks is leading him to the Smoking Man in Spartanburg, but who leads him to Mr Y (AC Peterson) and Ericka Price (Barbara Hershey). They are others members of the cabal but have split with the Smoking Man who has gone rogue. They tell Mulder that the aliens aren’t coming – who’d want this planet which is on the brink of self-destruction? Their interest is in space colonization, but they warn Mulder that the Smoking Man is determined to wipe out civilization.

Meanwhile, Scully is visited by Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens) in the hospital. He’d tried to contact Mulder after being attacked by the man Mulder is following who is after William. Scully leaves the hospital against Dr Joyet’s (Anjali Jay) advice, determined to find William. Spender can only tell her that the name of the adoptive parents is Van Camp. While in Mulder’s office, Scully suffers another seizure.

Skinner comes to Mulder’s office looking for Scully, but she gets out, leaving her phone before he arrives. She drives off, has another seizure and gets in a car accident. Luckily, Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) and Miller (Robbie Amell) find her, see the hospital bracelet and return her to Joyet. Joyet calls Mulder to tell him where Scully is.

Mr Y’s man arrives at the hospital and attempts to kill Scully. Mulder arrives in the nick of time and cuts his throat, saving Scully. She knows that the Smoking Man didn’t send the assassin as she is positive that he will never try to hurt her.

Meanwhile, Skinner is ambushed in his car by Reyes (Annabeth Gish) who is working with the Smoking Man to insure her own survival. They are joined by the Smoking Man who offers Skinner his life (immunity) in exchange for selling out the human race. I’m really disappointed that they sure seem to be setting up Skinner to turn out to be a bad guy. The Smoking Man also reveals to super creepy reason he won’t have Scully harmed – she’s the mother of William – who happens to be the Smoking Man’s son – NOT Mulder’s! I’m still holding out hope that this is somehow a twisted fantasy on the Smoking Man’s part…. It’s another disappointing development for me.

When Skinner finally shows up at the hospital, Mulder demands to know where he was. Skinner tries to put him off, but Mulder realizes that Skinner smells like smoke – he’s onto him. The two almost come to blows – push fighting doesn’t count. Skinner storms out, telling Mulder to leave it alone. We can’t be sure what Skinner will do with what the Smoking Man told him. Will he warn Scully of the impossible choice that the Smoking Man plans to give her – to choose between William and Mulder? Will he tell Mulder the truth about William? Will he try to save himself?

And of course, just as we might be on the brink of getting somewhere, we have to slam the breaks on the mytharc storyline. It’s time for some standalone episodes, right? Even though they have the name of the adoptive parents and the Spartan virus could be released at any moment, suddenly, Scully and Mulder have nothing else to do but continue to look for the truth in the X-Files? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have some great standalone stories, but this felt like a bit of a forced pause to me.

What did you think of the episode? Are seasons too short and too far apart now to have such convoluted storylines and cliffhangers? Do you watch X-Files for the mytharc or the X-Files standalones or both? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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