Here we are. After 11 long seasons, uncountable alien encounters, and enough Mulder bad dad jokes to put real dads to shame (more on that joke later), this series is finally over — at least, for now.
And while the optimistic side of me wanted The X-Files to end on a high note, it instead ended on an insanely off-key note that made the pessimistic side of me swell with satisfaction. Let me lay the missteps out for you, so I can save you all 43 minutes.
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The Format Was an Incomprehensible Disaster
The first minute or so of the episode featured a “Previously On” montage recapping where the season premiere left off: with Mulder in agony on a congested highway, Scully being abducted by aliens and William still MIA during a worldwide contagion. The next few minutes spotlighted William monologuing about his increasingly troubled adolescence and Scully’s admission to Skinner that she shared news about her epidemic visions with the number one conspiracy theorist online. At this point, the creators realized that viewers might understandably be confused, so they threw in a flashback to “15 hours earlier,” a technique that still didn’t help clear up why Mulder and Scully decided to pick up the search for their kid after completely dropping that idea for the past few episodes. A few exploded FBI agents and dramatic chase scenes later, it is the end of the episode and rather than return to the contagion plot that started this episode, the writers decide to completely abandon it, swapping it out for a half-baked idea about Scully being pregnant for real this time. Oh, and then William, who had been shot in the head, resurfaces (because no one ever really dies in this show do they?), and the episode is over.
Scully Inexplicably Gets the Idea of Motherhood All Wrong
Ever since she had to give her son William up for adoption to protect him from outside alien and government forces, Scully has fawned over the idea of reconnecting with him. Ever since he was introduced, Scully has been an entirely different character, with a deeper appreciation for life and family. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t have William in her arms — she felt a kinship with him because she birthed him and cared for him. But in this episode, when Skinner finally bites the bullet and admits to Scully that she was impregnated by the Smoking Man, all of her thoughts about motherhood seem to fall by the wayside. Though she seems to still love him as she chases him through a warehouse at the end, the second he’s shot, she seems disturbingly unaffected as she tells Mulder that he was never hers, thereby crushing Mulder’s father dreams. But not to worry: Scully uses this moment to tell Mulder that she is miraculously pregnant for real, because motherhood only counts when the child has your genes, obviously.
And Mulder Suddenly Questions His Existence
In the same breath, Mulder learns that he is both not a father (of William) and actually a father (of Scully’s newly revealed fetus.) Between those two revelations, he throws his entire identity out the window, asking himself, “If I’m not a father, what am I?” Oh, you know, just a crime-fighting, Oxford-taught brainchild who has wanted to avenge his sister by taking down the corrupt government. Nothing important.
The Primary Plot Mysteriously Disappears
The X-Files has dedicated an extraordinary amount of time to the “My Struggle” origin story series, so you’d think they’d take a second or two to wrap it up in what could possibly be the last X-Files episode ever. But no, instead, they reveal that Scully has slipped information about the contagion to a conspiracy theorist and has refocused her efforts on finding her not-son son. What happened to the sickly Mulder that they teased in the season premiere? Did Scully actually get abducted by aliens? How are she and her son going to stop this epidemic with their magic DNA? Were the writers ever planning on answering any of these questions?
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Oh, and Everyone Dies
Look out, everyone: Mulder’s got a gun. Within the first few minutes of the episode, Mulder, who is investigating a tip that might lead him to William, walks into an airbase and wipes out all of the guards before walking upstairs to destroy a government boss with old science-y information that we’ve all lost track of already. Once Mulder finds his son, their reunion is interrupted by a number of villainous FBI agents — who William promptly explodes with his mind a la that killer tire in Rubber. Then, before you know it, the show is killing main characters off left and right. First, Monica (shot by Skinner), Skinner (crushed by Smoking Man), Smoking Man (shot by real Mulder), and fake Mulder (shot by Smoking Man), who naturally turns out to be a completely alive William just moments later.
And with that, the FBI director declared the X-Files closed, Mulder and Scully trotted off to raise this new baby, and William paddled through the water, waiting for his parents to remember his existence so he can avoid them some more. As someone who has been very impressed with some of the episodes this season, I was disappointed by this finale, which felt more like a found-footage constructed fan video than a professionally produced TV episode.
But maybe I’m being too harsh. What did you think of this season (maybe series) finale?
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