The X-Files, Season 11, One Last Struggle

Hnnng.

His future emo album cover.

I'm not going to bother with a plot summary for "My Struggle IV". Suffice it to say, there's a lot of running in this episode. Running in cars, running over buildings, running through warehouses and across docks. So much running, so little plot.

Thank goodness I didn't care about any of these new conspiracy characters, since Mulder and son murdered them all. I don't even remember their names. It's kinda like closure if you gun everyone down before they can do anything interesting, I guess? Otherwise, it seems like none of the "bad stuff" that was foreshadowed at the end of season 10 came to pass. No extra-planetary colonization, no viral contagion, no alien baby saving the world. There was a whole lot of build up to nothing.

Reyes deserved better.

We learn that Jackson's powers are more advanced than were initially depicted in "Ghouli". Apparently he has a long history of abnormal behavior, everything from telekinesis to reviving the dead to literally making peoples' heads explode.

He's also pretty good at parkour, if the countless chase scenes are any indication.

This could have been cute. It wasn't. But I'm gonna look at this picture and pretend it was.

I'd hoped the Mulder/Jackson hug scene would give us a moment of true connection between father and son (something we've never really had) but it came off as creepy. I felt bad for Jackson, being accosted by a total stranger when he's already overwhelmed and on edge. Mulder's words – "You're taller than me. I held you when you were a baby" – are sweet, but…dude, back up. Let the kid breathe.

Most of the episode is wasted on car chases (feat. Mulder and his mid-life crisis Mustang) and guns and exploding heads. Once again, Mulder and Scully are split up for most of the episode, so we can't even fall back on their chemistry to save the day.

Just look at that pregnancy glow. And Scully looks pretty good, too.

Meanwhile, Scully does…basically nothing. She stays back at their house, telling Mulder to "just come back alive" and waiting for him to call. Eventually she ropes Tad O'Malley (WHY?!?) and Skinner into the mess, but why she didn't just go with Mulder in the first place is a mystery.

The episode's only semi-satisfying moment is watching Mulder put several bullets into the Cigarette Smoking Man before pushing him into the bay. I mean, thank fucking god, that's been a long time coming.

Goodbye for now, shriveled potato man.

(I say semi-satisfying, because you'd think being blown apart by a rocket launcher would have been satisfying enough, and yet…here we are.)

Scully's final revelation is the toughest pill to swallow — when she tells Mulder that Jackson was not their son after all, that he was an experiment grown in a lab, and that they have to let him go. It's so wildly out of character, it hurts to hear it.

STOP HURTING MY BABIES CARTER

Consider the connection she had with Emily in season 5, an alien-hybrid child that was also "never meant to be", and who Scully knew for only a fraction of the time she knew Jackson. She never carried Emily in her body or bore her or mothered her for ten months, but she was ready to adopt the girl almost on sight. That Scully seems to have given up by the end of "My Struggle IV," and we're left with a washed-out explanation that boils down to: "Oops."

I can just barely make her explanation work for myself if I don't take her words literally. Sure, Mulder and Scully were never William's parents in the strictest sense of the word. William isn't even William any more; he's Jackson. He's an adopted kid who's lived through more than most in the course of his life, and his biological parents haven't been part of it. The people he's known as his parents for 16 years are dead.

His faaaaace 😭

Perhaps what Scully is trying to say is that she and Mulder need to let go of the idea of William, and the associated guilt. Their anguish serves no useful purpose; they made the choices they made and they have to move on. Jackson himself keeps asking them to let him go. Our children are not ours to keep; as much as we want to believe that they belong to us, they only belong to themselves.

It's rare that I completely disregard canon for purposes other than fic, but in this case, I'm going to: Jackson is Mulder's biological kid. Full stop. I reason that whatever the Cancer Man did to Scully enabled her to get pregnant, and all the alien DNA (ugh) flying around is what caused the evolution of Jackson's special abilities. That's how I'm letting myself sleep at night, at least.

Unfortunately, the way the episode was written, this scene made it sound like Scully had already moved on in the five unending minutes of running between talking to Jackson-as-Mulder and confronting Mulder himself. I could have been 75% more satisfied if she hadn't calmly explained awayΒ the entire William story arc as though it hasn't caused them years and years of pain.

Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

πŸ’”πŸ’”πŸ’”

As for the new pregnancy? The last scene with Mulder and Scully and the "big reveal" hit me in the feels, as ridiculous as the premise is. Their expressions, their voices, the score, the panning out — everything about that scene could have been perfect in the right context, and had it occurred a minimum of ten years earlier. It would have been more powerful had it not come on the heels of Scully declaring her first son a monster, but LALALALALA I can't hear you, Carter!

From a closure standpoint, we're left on a cliffhanger, but the cliff isn't as high up as season 10's, which is a small consolation. Jackson survives, and the majority of the "bad guys" are gone thanks to Mulder's killing spree. We assume the viral contagion has been averted, at least for the time being. We don't know if Skinner or Reyes are still alive (I'm betting the former is, and the latter isn't). The CSM is–oh right, don't care.

The biggest unknown is how a child will impact Mulder and Scully at this point in their lives, but given this show's history with Baby As Plot Device, I kinda hope we never find out. Let's leave that to the fic writers.

I guess what I'm saying is, the finale wasn't half bad, if you ignore 90% of it and do enough mental gymnastics to reshape the other 10% into something palatable.

While drinking. Heavily.

I went into the finale knowing it would be a shitshow, so I'm not surprised. That said, on the whole, season 11 delivered way more enjoyment than I expected. It gave us funny, heartening, and creepy moments that are what made me fall in love with The X-Files in the first place.

If this has to be the end for my favorite characters, I can picture it. I can imagine them eventually reuniting with Jackson (when he calms the fuck down). I can see Mulder and Scully retiring from the FBI and raising a child together. It may not be the happily-ever-after the fans deserve, but it's happy enough.

πŸ˜ƒ+

2 thoughts on “The X-Files, Season 11, One Last Struggle

  1. Yikes. It sounds even worse than I could have imagined. I am so glad I opted out of this mess. If I want an ending to the series, I’ll read fic. Thank God for fic.

    • Caroline says:

      I’m walking around all *giant watery sighs* and what I really need is an epic, Iolokus-level fic to run with whatever plot pieces they can scrape up from the ruins and make sense of it all. I’ll have to settle for re-reading my favorites in the meantime.

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