The X-Files Season 10 (!!!!!!!!!!!), Episode 1
Posted by Kim
Confession time. The first time I saw “My Struggle”, I was in a room with several thousand X-Philes at New York Comic Con. The energy in the room was ELECTRIC. It was Day Three of the Con and everyone was slightly delirious thanks to the combination of very little sleep, pop culture over-stimulation, and the fact that OMG WE WERE SEEING AN ACTUAL NEW EPISODE OF THE X-FILES AND GETTING TO TALK TO CHRIS CARTER, DAVID DUCHOVNY, AND MITCH PILEGGI AFTERWARDS. It was insane and I will NEVER forget that emotional high. Between that high and the fact that my expectations for “My Struggle” had been drastically lowered thanks to the response from the TCAs, I walked away from the screening having thoroughly enjoyed the episode. Now that I have some distance, I can see “My Struggle” for what it is: a poorly written mess that banks on you being too excited to see Fox Mulder and Dana Scully on your screen to really care.
Don’t get me wrong. When the voiceover began with “My name is Fox Mulder…”, I got chills. When the theme song and the original credits (with the deserved addition of Mitch Pileggi) rolled, I had tears of joy in my eyes. As a fandom, we have waited SO LONG for this. But we can’t let our joy cloud our judgement and this episode was sloppy as hell. Look, I am forever grateful to Chris Carter for the world he created. But like George Lucas, his genius is often best left to ideas rather than execution. The writing of “My Struggle” was awkward and overly expositioned at its best and downright awful at its worst. The porch scene between Mulder and Scully was like bad fan fiction. Did you really have to insert all those catchphrases? I worship at the altar of Gillian Anderson’s acting but even she couldn’t make that scene work. David and Gillian were so disconnected in that scene and it just felt like they were spouting lines at maximum intensity rather than believing in their words. And the whole new conspiracy? To borrow from Sage’s tweets, it felt like Carter just went to Wikipedia and searched for conspiracies for the basis of the plot. Basically, the government is shady as fuck, using alien technology to fuel a planned and calculated Armageddon. People (women mainly) have been repeatedly abducted to be part of experiments and MAYBE their DNA has been fused with aliens for whatever reason. Any proof vanishes when it’s needed most. It’s really a means to an end and that end is getting The X-Files re-opened, because there is no way this arc can be resolved in less than 6 episodes. Alrighty? So let’s just talk about what “My Struggle” did with our beloved characters, shall we? Because really…that’s why we are all here.
Another similarity between George Lucas and Chris Carter is that they both like to rewrite history. Lucas does it by adding Jabba the Hut into A New Hope and Hayden Christensen into Return of the Jedi, both of which are insulting to the original films. Chris Carter does it by ignoring character growth and regressing relationships to a point that is insulting to long time fans. Carter is/was notoriously against the Mulder/Scully romance, despite accidentally writing the greatest and deepest love story of all time, so I’m not SURPRISED that they are broken up. I’m just disappointed. Not that I expected/wanted everything to be puppies and rainbows with Mulder and Scully. They’ve been through and seen too much for that. But what I did expect was for them to be a united front. They are each other’s constants, they are each other’s touchstones. That is CANON. Hell, even at the end of I Want To Believe we had them choosing each other, once again. The movie ended with them LITERALLY sailing off into the sunset. So this “estrangement” nonsense is just that. It’s nonsense. It’s insulting to the characters he created. Are you really telling me that after EVERYTHING they have been through that Scully’s self-diagnosis of Mulder’s depression is the straw that broke their relationship? Sure, Jan.
(Also, I SEE YOU trolling with that “for better, for worse” line, Chris Carter. I don’t appreciate it.)
Look. When you look at it objectively, Scully has every reason to walk away from Mulder. He’s no picnic even without the weight of a massive global conspiracy bringing him down. Scully has lost so much thanks to the fact that on a dreary night in Oregon, she chose to trust Fox Mulder. She’s lost her sister. She’s lost TWO children. She’s lost her fertility. (Yeah, I know those contradict each other BUT THIS IS THE SHOW.) She’s become estranged from siblings, she’s had her career in shambles, and she’s had her personal faith tested. It’s too much for any person to bear. But this is what I love about Dana Katherine Scully. In the face of all of that, time and time again she charged into the darkness after Mulder. She’s ALWAYS chosen him and she’s always chosen the fight that they were in together. Having her estranged from him now is an insult to the character’s legacy. To quote Scully herself, SHE WOULDN’T CHANGE A DAY OF HER RELATIONSHIP WITH MULDER. Except for Flukeman. Again, that’s CANON. So why all of a sudden has Scully decided it’s all too much for her?
Don’t get me started on the Scully/Tad O’Malley dynamic. First of all, Joel McHale, ILYSM but I would love for you to talk to your agent about playing a non-smarmy character for once. It’s a good performance but it basically felt like Jeff Winger in one of his Goldblummy meltdowns. Secondly, are you really telling me that Dana Scully, who can make men wilt with a single arch of her eyebrow, would fall prey to Tad’s “charms” and insincere flattery? Okay. Everything about Scully and Tad is off from the very beginning. He goes straight to calling her Dana as opposed to maintaining a professional distance (Mulder’s FACE though. And I love how he mocks her for that later in the episode). He shows up AT HER WORK just to chat because he wants to see her again and he somehow gets Scully to join him in his car for Champagne. THEN he goes off about her wonderful (I mean it is wonderful, but still) work at the hospital for no apparent reason. It’s all SO WEIRD. The Scully *I* know would have just given him a bitch face from the very first “Dana” and wouldn’t have let him get near her. So I really don’t get what Carter was going for here. Do they have a past? Does Scully DATE? Why are you doing this?