Like most hardcore X-Files fans, I wanted to believe that FOX could revive one of its most successful sci-fi series and apply its themes of government skepticism and the search for the truth to modern times, but the show’s season 11 premiere has further convinced me that this goal is impossible.
In the first episode of year, titled “My Struggle III” (denoting a continuation of “My Struggle” and “My Struggle II,” the first and last episodes of season 10), Mulder and Scully discover just how many people are searching for their son William and they embark on a mission to find out why.
While this plot arc could have been a good way to introduce grown-up William to the X-Files’ audience, its chances of doing so were dashed by the the episode’s shaky writing and weak structure. How, you ask? Well, for starters…
The X-Files Interview: Gillian Anderson Says Scully’s ‘Degree of Skepticism Has Shifted’>>>
Isn’t Mulder Supposed to Be Sick?
The end of X- Files season 10 left our characters in the throes of an epidemic-induced panic, with Mulder hanging by a thread in Scully’s arms. We expected the new season to pick back up at this point, but the writers had other plans, choosing instead to kick the episode off with a series of flashbacks and play off the whole last season as one of Scully’s mysterious premonitions. As a result, “My Struggle III” begins with a dazed Scully being dragged to the hospital by a very not-sick Mulder in the present day.
Who Invited Spender?
Back in season 6, Jeffrey Spender’s character was killed, dying at the hands of his own father, The Smoking Man (who, we learn in this season 11 premiere, is really named “Carl”). He returned in season 9 to testify for Mulder, before disappearing once more into the shadows of forgotten X-Files characters.
Now, with a cleaned up face, Spender has returned. After an unnamed villain briefly chases Spender down in a parking garage, he arrives at Scully’s hospital to break some important news: her son William is being hunted and Spender still won’t tell her where he is. After a quick back and forth, he divulges the name of William’s adoptive parents before leaving the series once again, begging the question: do the writers have bigger plans for Spender or could they not find anyone else to tell Scully that her daughter was in danger?
The Smoking Man Still Isn’t Dead?
Remember in season 7 when Krycek pushed The Smoking Man down a flight of stairs and killed him? And then again, in season 9, when he magically reappeared and died again thanks to an exploding rocket bomb and advanced cancer? Well, in true X-Files fashion, TSM has been revived again, this time, to admit his involvement in humanity’s impending extermination and his intention to round up all the humans worthy of surviving the apocalypse, including Mulder and Scully’s son William.
Scully’s Brain Can Speak Code?
The X-Files has time and time again asked its viewers to suspend their disbelief, but it went a step too far in tonight’s episode when it suggested that the pulsing of Scully’s brain corresponded to Morse Code messages. The suggestion is absurd, even for spooky Mulder, who reacts to Skinner’s observation with skepticism and denial.
Skinner’s Coming Up with the Crazy Theories Now?
Going further out of character, Skinner begins connecting Scully’s brain message – “FIND HIM” – with the sudden interest in their long lost son William, even encouraging the pair to hunt him down. Mulder’s initial rejection of this theory completes the role reversal that we’d never thought we’d see on this show. Scully’s later claims that her son is creating these visions, an idea that has no scientific backing and is therefore very anti-Scully, further cement my suspicion that this episode was penned by creatures from outer space – or at least, by viewers unfamiliar with the X-Files canon.
All of a Sudden, Mulder Decides to Become Dismissive of Scully and the Supernatural?
First, Mulder shakes off Skinner’s very Mulder-esque suggestion that Scully’s brain activity has a deeper meaning. Then, when Scully wakes up from her vision of a worldwide epidemic, Mulder immediately shuts her down, insisting that she’s not in the right state of mind and he needs to talk with her doctor. Any normal person would hear Scully’s ramblings and immediately seek medical attention, but not the Mulder we know.
Why Does the Assassin Following Mulder Immediately Give Up?
When Mulder leaves the hospital to find William, he’s followed by a mysterious car, who trails him through the city streets. Realizing this, Mulder engineers an escape plan, ultimately guiding the car into a busy intersection where it crashes. Rather than continue to pursue Mulder, though, the car returns to its home base, without bothering to check if anyone (in this case, Mulder) is trailing them.
What’s with All the Voiceovers?
The X-Files has always utilized voiceovers to explain its complex mythology, but the voiceovers employed in “My Struggle III” felt more like cheesy segments from Mulder’s diary entries, filled with Fox-like quips and observations. Were the writers pushing for a meta joke here or did they just make a poor attempt to pack one more X-Files callback into this season?
The X-Files Interview: David Duchovny Says the World Is ‘More Receptive’ to Mulder’s ‘Way of Thinking’>>>
What Does “I Want to Lie” Mean?
By the end of the season 11 premiere, we’re left to wonder why the opening title sequence, which usually ends with the classic “I Want to Believe” slogan, instead ends with “I Want to Lie.” Is this a callback to the show’s distrust of government? Or to TSM’s flip-flopping story about working with the aliens? Or about the massive lie that TSM reveals within the episode’s last few seconds? (See below.)
Mulder’s “Son” Is Actually His Half-Brother? What?
Talk about a mic drop. With Skinner holding him at gunpoint, TSM reveals his reason for wanting to locate William: when he drugged Scully in season 7, he impregnated her with his own alien DNA, meaning that William, long believed to be Mulder’s son, is actually The Smoking Man’s. Putting aside the gruesome implications this has regarding consent and Scully’s agency (something often taken advantage of throughout the series), the revelation adds another twist to The Smoking Man and Williams’ already complicated history.
At the end of the X- Files season 11 premiere, we’re left with one question: Do the writers have a larger, unseen resolution to the loopholes opened in this episode? Was there a method to their madness? Or was this episode just as unhinged and inexplicable as Scully’s visions? Let’s hope the truth is out there and we find it in episode 11.2.
The X-Files season 11 airs on Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX. Want more TV news? Like BuddyTV on Facebook.
(Image courtesy of FOX)