The X-Files Miniseries: Episode 10.01 “My Struggle”
By P.S. Griffin
The X-Files might have concluded its ninth season after 203 episodes with a whimper, however it started with a resounding bang that changed the television landscape forever and kept on banging loudly throughout most of its long run. The six episode miniseries premiere event delivered that bang once again and then some in its premiere episode “My Struggle” written and directed by show creator Chris Carter.
The episode does the job of reintroducing the four main characters whose arcs spanned the breadth of the series. We get a glimpse of where all these familiar faces ended up after the series finale and we witness the current chain of events that propels them back together again. The episode ends with the reopening of the X-Files.
Dr. Dana Scully has been visibly irreparably changed by her time at the X-Files and her relationship with Mulder. Gillian Anderson projects Scully’s profound sense of loss as well as the fragile balance she finally has achieved by saving lives as a surgeon in a rich performance that carries the episode. Her physician persona gives her life both structure and meaning. Ironically this work is creating ears for children with a peculiar birth defect that causes them to look like the little grey space aliens she once chased. She’s clearly going through the motions of living her life, still the observer on the outside, anchored their by her former life and especially by her relationship with her ormer partner Fox Mulder.
As for Mulder, he’s become a shabby shadow of his former self, a solitary Lone Gunman who sits alone his computer feeding an obsession that he believes no one else shares. The world has moved on. More importantly Scully has moved on. She grounded him and gave his life meaning beyond his endless search for the truth. Day by day Mulder just waits to die whilst watching the world go by through the internet without him, knowing his life’s work is now a punchline. The years, the isolation, losing Scully and losing his purposes haven’t been kind to him.
In this episode we meet four new players, a doctor who studied an alien executed at Roswell and documented their biochemistry, a right wing and anti-government talk show host who wants to expose the insidious way the government has systematically lied to and controlled us and a scientist dedicated to sharing alien technology like free energy with the world. The catalyst driving the plot is the talk show host who also believes, trusts no one and knows what the truth out there actually is. He requests a meeting with Mulder and Scully through the FBI because he knows they are the ones to investigate.
We also are introduced to a new case study, an alien abducted with alien DNA who has realized her repeated traumas were caused by human men not aliens. Of course Scully discovers that she has that DNA too. This fact causes her to reinvest in the X-Files. She also realizes that her former partner and lover (husband?) is not in fact crazy (crazy like a.Fox!) despite sounding absolutely bonkers. Throughout most of this episode Scully acted like Mulder’s persistent need to believe was the crutch that kept him mired in mental illness.
As for Mulder he’s revitalized. He knows that the truth is out there. He believes and he definitely trusts no one, not even his new geriatric mole.
By the end of the episode the landscape has changed. Scully is a believer. Mulder has hope. The talk show host appears to be off of the air. The scientist’s work is destroyed by armed men in black. The witness recants and is destroyed seemingly by an alien spaceship armed with laser beams.
Agent Skinner stills fills out that FBI issue suit in an outstanding manner. And he still provides rational, stoic and loyal support for our now ersatz agents.
Cigarette Smoking Lives! And he appears to be hanging on only by his Machiavellian need to rule the world byany means necessary. Even with half a face after his ride in an exploding helicopter in the Series finale and a throat tube to help him breathe, he still exudes menace and he’s still smoking! Of course the Syndicate is still in full swing.
I liked that the reboot reframed the show’s extensive mythology into a government conspiracy supporting the power grab by the,Syndicate, a cabal of the elite for interested in global domination and wealth. Yes, the Alien invasion was a red herring to cover up the actions of a league of extraordinary old gentleman in bespoke suits. Yes, there were alien visitations out of concern about our usage of the hydrogen bomb and our propensity for global war. However they were gunned down by the military and their technology and biochemistry was usurped to be used in support of the Syndicate’s interests against the huddled masses of humanity.. We are talking about the biggest conspiracy and the biggest cover-up ever. One that previously employed Mulder and Scully to support the network of lies through their investigations into the so-called alien conspiracy.
I was the perfect audience for this episode. I was seriously into The X-Files back in the day. I own the entire run of the Series and both movies. I lived for each new episode. I lived the mythology. And herein lies my complaint with this episode. It was everything that an X-Phile like me wanted complete with the slightly updated opening credits that were OH so familiar. However my husband stared blankly when I said I loved it. He knew of The X-Files and has seen some episodes here and there. He’s pretty clueless about the mythology. This episode was just okay for him.
In addition to the far reaching mythology, The X-Files was known for some outstanding standalone episodes. Episodes that worked on a strictly human level, were highly comedic or were outright terrifying. The case of the week in the premiere wasn’t one of these one off masterpieces. It’s an opportunity lost and a real pity. I want this reboot to turn into a new series. I love me some X-Files.
In an atmosphere full of mediocre genre series and far too many superhero shows, the X-Files remains a solid, groundbreaking series that married the genres of police procedural with horror and science fiction. It’s a recipe that has been used successfully elsewhere by shows like Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow and Fringe; however, all ofthose shows should take more than a page from Carter’s magnus opus. He kept the show fresh and alive for far longer than any show should be. I give Supernatural credit of course for its successful reboot of the show to its
Apocalyptic heyday in its eleventh season; however some of the preceding seasons were mytharc lean and it rarely had a standalone episode that resonated the way a truly great X-Files episode did.
The X-Files is the master and Chris Carter once again is showing us how it’s done. Now when is Frank Black from Millennium making an appearance? Millennium was all about powerful secret societies being behind the proverbial curtain.