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It’s hard for me to breakdown what was wrong with “My Struggle II,” the “season” finale of The X-Files‘s event series because there are so many things to choose from. There was the stilted and laughable dialogue that not even the deftest among the show’s talented cast could save. There were the insane leaps in logic that led Mulder and Scully to the right answers with no real clear explanation for how they got from point A to point D so quickly (if I hear the phrase “alien DNA” again, I may scream). And then there was the mythology, which was already a murky mess prior to this incarnation of the series, that no made almost zero sense. It isn’t hard to imagine Chris Carter just throwing darts at some note cards to decide the fate of the show.
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are talented actors, but watching them in “My Struggle II,” you wouldn’t know it. Duchovny, in particular, seemed lost and almost robotic in his delivery of his lines. Even Joel McHale, who is one of the most charismatic people working in show business, couldn’t make me care about his character. And the failings in the episode’s script were only the tip of the iceberg here. The story itself was a complete and utter mess, with no real care given to explaining the motivations of the characters or how they really fit into the greater conspiracy. And characters didn’t act in character throughout the episode. I mean, on what planet does Mr. Conspiracy Fox Mulder have a Find My Phone app? It was just a mess.
“My Struggle II,” like the two Chris Carter written and directed episodes that came before it (the equally muddled “My Struggle” and the tonal disaster of “Babylon“), just plain didn’t work. And when placed against the much stronger episodes of this shortened six episode season, Carter’s failings as a writer and director are shown in stark relief against the great work of Darin Morgan in “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” or Glenn Morgan in “Home Again.” And that is what I think is the major issue with The X-Files at this stage in the game: Chris Carter.
Like George Lucas and Star Wars, it might be time for the creator of The X-Files to step away from his creation and let other, more capable, hands take it over. That isn’t to say that we, as fans of the series, don’t owe Carter a major debt of gratitude- we certainly do. But if his contributions to the show in its current form are three atrociously written and directed episodes, well, then perhaps it might be time to see what the series’s other successful writers can do with Mulder, Scully, and the rest of the gang. After all, in the hands of the Morgan brothers, the characters were fully realized, the bad guys were interesting, and there were strong emotional stakes at play. Heck, I would watch “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” every week. But when half of a show’s episodes belong on the scrap heap, that’s a problem.
Considering the limited return of The X-Files was a ratings boom for Fox, I’m certain there are already talks in place to discuss when the next batch of episodes can be put together (considering the limited availability of Anderson and Duchovny, it likely won’t be for several years). My hope for a future series would be that it opts to focus more on the show’s strengths (the chemistry between Anderson and Duchovny, the balance in character between Scully and Mulder, and the show’s ability to craft compelling stand alone episodes), rather than its weaknesses (the mythology). Am I glad we were given another chance to spend some time with our favorite FBI agents? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some regrets of my own from the experience.