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The X-Files - My Struggle IV - Review

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The X-Files came to a close, likely permanently, with “My Struggle IV” written and directed by Chris Carter. While it was far from the most satisfying episode this season, of the “My Struggle” episodes, it was by far the one I liked best. It certainly feels like an ending as he killed off all of the villains – and Skinner (Mitch Pillegi)!!! And he gave his heroes – Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) a happy ending. Of course, we don’t actually see Skinner’s face and the Smoking Man (William B Davis) only took shots to the torso, so the door is ajar for them to be not quite dead yet – but Davis is certainly not getting any younger. More to the point, of course, is Anderson’s adamant declaration that she is done with the show.

The episode begins with a reminder of the impending pandemic created by the Smoking Man and his people from an alien pathogen and that William (Miles Robbins) is the key. We then get William’s backstory. He had a happy childhood (Bentley Hixson) – with Mulder and Scully – and then he was adopted. He discovered his powers early and when he was 11 (Chase Nicholson) he sent a bully to the hospital. Of course, the bully likely deserved it.

However, after having to change schools a lot and as he became a teenager (Austin Dunn), he started to become a criminal and ended up in a school for bad kids. He made up stories to tell the therapists he was sent to until a man from the government came and he had to stop it – clearly sensing he was in danger. He was sent home and was more careful because he was being watched until he played a practical joke on two girls (“Ghouli”). After the watching men killed his parents, William went on the run – but he knew he needed answers from his father, who he’d only seen in visions but hated anyway: the Smoking Man. In another vision, he sees the Smoking Man shoot and kill Mulder – a scene which we see again – with a different perspective – at the end of the episode.

After the credits, we pick up the action – but this is Carter, so we don’t get the story completely linearly. We’ll circle back to Mulder at the Timberland Motel. We’ll also circle back to Scully accosting Skinner as he leaves Kersh’s (James Pickens Jr) office. Kersh has been freaking out on Skinner for a viral video from Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) about a conspiracy, citing a government source. Kersh is sure it’s Mulder and shuts down the X-Files, telling Skinner to put a stop to Mulder and Scully. Skinner points out that it might not be fake news – but Kersh (like the current government) doesn’t care.

Skinner tells Scully that he’s been told to take their badges over the O’Malley video. Scully tells him she’s the leak and that they aren’t outrageous claims. Skinner tells her that he can’t help if he doesn’t know what’s going on – and “Kitten” has already filled us in on Skinner’s attachment to the X-Files, so I was already leaning towards trusting him. He doesn’t disappoint when he finally tells Scully the truth in the car on the way to Norfolk.

Scully fills Skinner in and we finally loop back to the beginning of the action 15 hours earlier – which doesn’t really seem like enough time. But we’ll hand-wave that. Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) calls Scully with what seems like a lead. The Smoking Man is outside the car as she speaks and she hurries to finish before he gets in the car, so it would seem that she’s trying to work for the good guys. She tells Scully she thinks that William is on a plane bound for Maryland. She tells the Smoking Man she’s had no word about William, however.

Even though Scully insists that William is not on the plane, Mulder goes after him. Mulder finds Mr Y getting off the plane and going into a hanger. Lots of gun play and fighting later – and Mulder’s still got it! – Mulder corners Y in his office. Y tells him that he couldn’t find William but Mulder’s son has what everybody wants. So Y doesn’t know who the real father is – and naturally can’t just say what it is that everybody wants. Before Mulder can get an actual answer, Y reaches for a gun and Mulder reflexively shoots him in the head. Oops.

Meanwhile, William is being chased through a warehouse. If you watch any of the other shows shot in Vancouver, the warehouse is really, really familiar… but I digress… We get an absolutely fabulous sequence of parkour through the warehouse as William evades his would be captors. He eventually escapes them by jumping into a homeless camp and shapeshifting to look like a resident.

Mulder calls Scully to tell her she was right. She’s found another lead, however, and sends him off to investigate a cluster of lottery winnings. Mulder just misses William at the convenience store where he’s cashed in his latest win, but he’s now just 2 hours behind him. While Mulder is in the store, a man (Joseph Patrick Finn – fun fact, Finn is actually a producer on the show!) puts a tracker on Mulder’s car.

William is picked up by a trucker (Mark Acheson) who warns him about being careful on the road! William proves he can take care of himself by morphing into a shark-monster – which is hilarious! By the time Mulder manages to pull the trucker over, William has already taken off. Which leaves him for the tracker-man to pick up. And that doesn’t work out so well for him when William explodes him!

William is heading to Norfolk to try to get Sarah (Madeleine Arthur) to run away with him. He tells her that he can’t live this way – on the run and alone – and that he’s contemplated suicide. She agrees to meet him at the Timberland.

Mulder goes to Brianna (Sarah Jeffery) first, and she tells him that William is in big trouble, but he’s talking to the wrong girl. Mulder goes to Sarah – but has to get by her big sister – who I don’t believe we ever saw in “Ghouli.” Fun fact? West Duchovny – David Duchovny’s daughter – plays Maddy! Hilariously, it’s Maddy who doesn’t believe Mulder when he says he’s William’s father… Sarah does, however, and that circles us back to the Timberland Motel, and Mulder knocking on door 7.

William lets Mulder in, and the two have a reasonably satisfying reunion as Mulder engulfs William in a hug after telling him he’s his father and that he’s been looking for him for ages. He tells him that he’s taller than he is. William tells Mulder that he should go because it’s not safe for him. Mulder promises to protect William – but of course he’s got the protection paradigm backwards. William tells Mulder that no one can help him – he’s seen the future and if they catch him, everyone will die.

Mulder tells him that Scully has seen the future too. William wonders why Mulder hasn’t seen it – and it’s a good question. What about the Smoking Man? Does he get visions? No one actually tells Mulder that William isn’t his son. William tells Mulder that he’s just helping them find him – and then Erika Price (Barbara Hershey) bursts in and proves William right. William also proves he doesn’t need protecting by blowing up Price and her goons in truly spectacular, gruesome style. William runs out and Mulder loses him.

Scully and Skinner are still on their way when Mulder calls. He tells Scully that William won’t listen to reason. Scully tells Mulder that she’s on her way – and she’s positive that William will listen to her. Skinner reminds Scully that he was supposed to be taking their badges, but she tells him that this isn’t about the FBI, it’s about their son.

Scully wonders why Skinner would risk his entire career – and he reminds her that they’ve already had this conversation – in the episode “Kitten.” I did like how they tied some of the other episodes in – maybe “Kitten” should count as a mytharc episode – after all it explains Skinner’s attachment to the X-Files. Scully asks who Skinner was on the phone to outside of Kersh’s office – it was the Smoking Man – and it was a pleasant surprise for Skinner to come clean – though we don’t get to hear it.

Mulder calls Sarah for a lead on where William might have gone, and Maddy tells him the old Sugar Factory. Skinner and Scully pass Mulder on the road and turn around and follow him. When they arrive, Scully chases after Mulder into the factory, but Skinner heads for the car that the Smoking Man and Monica are sitting in.

      Monica tries to back up, but the Smoking Man forces her foot on the gas and guns the car at Skinner. He manages to shoot and kill Monica – bad guys are dropping like flies! The Smoking Man apparently manages to crush – and kill – Skinner between the two cars. We see Skinner’s feet – like the Wicked Witch of the East – sticking out under the car, and the Smoking Man – completely unharmed by the crash – takes his gun.

Scully finally catches up with what she thinks is Mulder – but it’s clearly William – or it was to me. “Mulder” tells her that he talked to William, and he knows what he’s afraid of. He tells Scully to let William go because they can’t protect him. He also tells her that William knows she loves him. He then runs away when the real Mulder shows up.

It looks like the Smoking Man has gotten the drop on Mulder as he rushes out of the factory. He wants to know where William is, but Mulder tells him that he’d rather die than tell him. The Smoking Man tells him that he’s William’s “creator” – but doesn’t say father. Mulder questions whether he’d shoot his first born son – and the Smoking Man tells him he killed the second born. He also tells him – as we heard in the opening – that “When I gave you life, I never fathomed the moment I’d have to end it.” Mulder – who seems to have been baiting him all along – says he doesn’t think he can do it. The Smoking Man says, “then, you don’t know me very well” and shoots him – which is exactly what William was counting on.

The real Mulder comes out and pumps the Smoking Man full of bullets – all to the chest, mind! The Smoking Man, seemingly dead, follows “Mulder” into the water. Scully arrives and Mulder tells her that he shot him – because the Smoking Man shot him. Mulder throws his gun in after the bodies. Scully tries to comfort Mulder by telling him that William wasn’t meant to be. Mulder is shocked – he was their son! But Scully continues that William was an experiment, an idea born in a lab. She bore him but she was never a mother to him.

Mulder mourns what could have been. He says that for so long, he wanted to believe – that he was the father? Because then he asks, “What am I now if I’m not a father?” And then Scully lands the bombshell: “You are a father” – and she puts his hand on her belly. She’s pregnant. No offense to Gillian Anderson, but isn’t Scully pretty much past baby years? And it IS more than impossible. Still, we end the series pretty much with the happy parents to be hugging on the dock. I’m kind of ok with them wandering off into the sunset.

The last shot, of course, show William emerging from the water with a gunshot wound still visible in his forehead – headshots for the Smoking Man! But he’s killed everyone connected to the pandemic scheme – hopefully. Can he go off and lead a relatively normal life? It’s the smallest opening to a hint that there could be more, but really, this seems like a good place to stop.

I thought this season was actually a bit stronger than last season. I really enjoyed many of the standalones. It was nice seeing the playful dynamic between Mulder and Scully, and I can imagine them going off to have a happy life together. What did you think of the episode and the season? Are you happy to just let the series go now? Want more? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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