Why I’m Okay with This Latest “X-Files” Ending



Last week, FOX premiered what may be the finale of the “X-Files,” a one-hour episode entitled “My Struggle IV.” If last week’s episode is indeed the swan song for the show, I’m okay with that. Gillian Anderson  insists that she is done with the show.

The episode, written and directed by Chris Carter, focused on the ongoing alien mythology arc, specifically Scully and Mulder’s attempts to track down their son, William, and prevent an alien virus from wiping out humanity. William, it seems, is the key, hence why Mulder and Scully’s longtime foe the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) has been tracking him for years.

I give the episode a B/B-. On the plus side, Mulder has a touching scene with William when he finds him on the run from Syndicate thugs. William showcases his awesome powers, including the ability to make heads explode. However, the episode doesn’t make clear if Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is dead after getting mauled down by a car. William, meanwhile, re-emerges from the river in the final scene after the Cigarette Smoking Man thought that he killed him. If William is still alive, then what does that mean for the alien virus?

The story concludes when both Scully and Mulder find out he’s not really their son, but instead some lab experiment and an alien/human hybrid creature. Instead, we learn that Scully is pregnant by Mulder, so, at long last they can be together and raise their own child. The Cigarette Smoking Man’s story comes to a conclusion, too, after Mulder pumps his chest with a round of bullets and he falls into a river.


“My Struggle IV” is not as satisfying of a finale as season 9’s two-parter entitled “The Truth,” which featured the return of David Duchovny, who was MIA for the previous two seasons. “The Truth” also featured several “X-files” fan favorites who made one more appearance, and it concluded with Mulder and Scully on the run, but ready to face whatever may come next. That said, “My Struggle IV” does provide a decent ending point. Mulder and Scully can be together.  The Cigarette Smoking Man is dead, though, to be fair, he was torpedoed in “The Truth” and somehow survived. The alien virus is thwarted.

Chris Carter recently said he is unsure as to the fate of the show, but “The X-files” is not going to work without Gillian Anderson. “My Struggle IV” should be its swan song.


The Truth Is Still Out There, Apparently



Last night marked the season 11 premiere of “The X-files,” which was brought back to life two years ago in a short, six-episode season that garnered mixed reviews and ended on a major cliffhanger, with the fate of Mulder and Scully uncertain, due to impeneding alien colonization. Thus far, this season has generated positive reviews and is slated for 10 episodes. Last night’s premiere was generally strong and marked the return of some other long-standing fan favorites.

There are some spoilers ahead, so you may want to avoid reading if you haven’t seen the episode yet but plan to.

The premiere was a mythology episode that generally focused on the ongoing alien invasion story line. Well, it turns out that the aliens are no longer interested in planet Earth, due to global warming and waning natural resources. With the alien invasion put on hold, the show’s long-standing big bad, the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), plans to wipe out most of human kind with an alien plague and let the chosen few survive, thus essentially wiping the slate clean. The key to stopping him centers around Mulder and Scully’s son, William, who is poised to be a major figure this season. Near the end of the regular series, we learned that he is part alien and was hidden for his own protection.

The Cigarette Smoking Man had some of the best dialogue during last night’s premiere, dialogue centered around the Trump era. In a show that has thrived on the notion of conspiracy theories, the villain said how truth is now fluid, how nothing is crazy anymore, how it’s so easy to label truth and hard science as fake news. The opening moments of the show featured a relatively powerful voice over by the Cigarette Smoking Man talking about U.S. history and power. This voice over was juxtaposed with images of the moon landing, the JFK assassination, the Clintons, the violence in Charlottesville this past summer at the hands of neo-Nazis, and yes, Trump. The point of this seemed to be that events and politicians will pass, but there will always be a chosen few working behind the scenes to control the outcome of world events. This has generally been the long-standing premise of “The X-files.” The syndicate, a group of shadowy conspirators, were always the real enemy.

Last night’s episode felt fresh and new, while still maintaining general aspects of “The X-files” mythos. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny were great in their reprisal of Mulder and Scully. I look forward to seeing them on screen more together this year.

My only real gripe about the premiere, and the show in general, is the way that its creator, Chris Carter, keeps rewriting the main story line. First, the aliens wanted to colonize Earth. Now, they suddenly aren’t interested in that. Is the Cigarette Smoking Man lying about this? Also, how is he still alive? He appeared briefly in season 10, but at the end of season 9, which was meant to be the show’s finale, he was blown up. How did he survive that? I always got the sense that the show’s writers had no idea where the alien mythos story line was going. I  still feel that way after watching the season 11 premiere. It often feels like the writers make up or change the mythos with each season, with no clear end in sight.

With that said, I’m eager to watch the remaining nine episodes, especially the monster-of-the week entries. Gillian Anderson recently said that she doesn’t plan to revive the role of Dana Scully after this season, so this season very well may be her “X-files” swan song. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy watching Mulder and Scully search for the truth once again.







Capitalism, Climate Change, and The X-Files

As a kid, I stayed up on Sunday nights to watch “The X-files” with my dad. Some of the episodes spooked me so much  that I wouldn’t sleep in my bedroom because I had fears I’d be abducted.  I still find the notion that an intelligent life form could invade our bedrooms and snatch us in the middle of the night to be terrifying. I remember an opening from one of  the mid-season episodes in which a father is returned after an alien abduction. His family finds him, pale and motionless, outside of a field, and to this day, I find it one of the most chilling scenes that I can think of in any sci-fi or horror production. I’ve also written about “The X-files” a few times in poetry, especially that skeptic/believer, Scully/Mulder dynamic that drives the show.

And while I enjoyed the monster of the week episodes, I always enjoyed the alien conspiracy arc that factored into each season.  The new season, which, at only six episodes long, was really a mini-series, only featured two alien/conspiracy arc episodes, the opener, “My Struggle” and the finale, “My Struggle II,” which aired last night. I liked the season opener quite a lot and after a 14-year hiatus, I was surprised how well the show writers adapted the series to fit the age of Obama. A new character was introduced, Tad O’Malley, who could be any right-wing conspiracy nut, such as Glenn Beck or Alex Jones. On his internet talk show, he parrots right-wing conspiracies about the government coming to take everyone’s guns and eventually putting us all in white tents. However, he succeeds at convincing Mulder that the aliens aren’t the real bad guys, and the much hyped alien colonization that was supposed to happen in 2012, according to the show’s arc, was all just a smokescreen, a way for the elite to acquire more power by lessening the human population.

This same storyline picks up in the season finale, when the audience learns that the show’s main villain, the Cigarette Smoking Man, did indeed infect the human population with  a disease. Only those he gave a vaccination to will be protected, so essentially the elite get to decide who lives and who dies. Even Mulder starts to succumb to the disease, and his fate is uncertain by the season’s final moments. When Mulder confronts him, in an last-ditch effort to save the human race, the Cigarette Smoking Man tells him that mankind is ultimately doomed and the way we’ve sucked dry natural resources, killed off half the rainforest, and wiped out species through climate change is evidence of that. In his view, he is saving us from ourselves by speeding up our extinction, but it’s more likely he just wants to obtain ultimate power by lessening the population and subjugating the few that survive.

This new conspiracy arc is good stuff, and in the backdrop of Occupy Wall Street, divisions between the rich and poor, civil unrest, and dire climate change reports, it fits. The aliens aren’t the bad guys. The elite in power are the real bad guys.

The season finale and the new conspiracy arc resonated with me in light of two recent books on the fate of human kind and climate change, The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert and This Changes Everything: Capitalism and the Climate by Noami Klein. Both books detail the serious consequences humans have created because of climate change and our quest  to suck up all of the resources we can because we assume we’re entitled to dominate the Earth and everything on it. Each chapter in Kolbert’s book focuses on a different part of the world and one or two species that have gone extinct or are near extinct as a result of humans. The book also details the severe consequences, including possible human extinction, that will come as a result of warming temperatures and carbon we are trapping in the atmosphere and oceans. Klein’s book is more of a critique of capitalism, and its main thesis is that despite the overwhelming science, humans have been reluctant to do anything about climate change because those in power know that it would lead to a profit loss. It would fundamentally challenge the “I” structure of capitalism. We would have to live in a more shared, conscious society. We simply can’t consume like we do now.

The outcome of all this won’t be good. It will lead to strained resources, probably more warfare over such resources, including water, and it will allow the elite to acquire more power, which is what the new X-files arc is getting at.

The new series ends with a metaphor very reflective of our times, an era in which Donald Trump  could end up president of the U.S. because he is playing on the current divisions, paranoia, and strife that exist.  By the closing frame of the season, Mulder and Scully are on a bridge, surrounded by hundreds of infected Americans, struggling to flee the nation’s capital. Mass panic! Meanwhile, Mulder is dying of the virus the Cigarette Smoking Man unleashed, and though Scully’s DNA seems to be a cure, we don’t know if she has enough time to save him. The episode ends with a shot of a UFO hovering over Mulder and Scully, and it is unclear if the craft is there to save them or just wipe out the sorry human race.

Scully’s belief in science and resolve to find a cure before it’s too late resembles Klein and Kolbert’s belief that in the most dire circumstances, human beings can pull through to find solutions to major problems, including climate change, which, like the alien virus, poses a major threat, one that could eradicate human beings and continue taking down a bunch of other species in the process. The series ends with a question mark. Will Scully’s belief in science save Mulder and her fellow humans? Will aliens intervene and save humans from themselves, or will a more intelligent life form just let us die off, and would the Earth be better off without us?

We’ll have to wait until next season to find out.

The Truth Is Still Out There

Last night, I waited in anticipation for the return of the beloved 90s sci-fi show “The X-files.” The first of six new episodes did not disappoint, and in many ways, it set the show’s central mythology on its head. The show also transitioned well to the present time, which I’ll get to later in this post. Warning: major spoilers ahead.

The show picks up years after series finale, which found Mulder and Scully kicked out of the FBI and on the lamb. Since the final episode of season 9, Scully returned to medicine and Mulder, well,  remained Mulder, convinced that the truth is still out there. A right-wing pundit, conspiracy nut, played by Joel McHale, summons the FBI agents back to action when he introduces them to a young woman who claims she has been abducted multiple times and that her babies have been taken by some unknown force. At first, it seemed like the show went back to the basics: an alien abduction story, just like the pilot episode.

There were several wonderful moments in the episode. Despite the writers’ decision to use the opening credits from the 1990s, the show seamlessly transitioned to 2016. Even more so, the writers showed an awareness of the show’s legacy. Early in the episode, Mulder is watching a YouTube clip of President Obama joking with Jimmy Kimmel about big government conspiracy theories and alien cover-ups. Mulder responds, “My life’s become a punchline.”

The episode also blasts right-wing zealots and conspiracy nuts, even taking a shot at Bill O’Reilly. Joel McHale’s character could be Alex Jones, Glenn Beck or any other right-wing nut who has ranted during the Obama administration about big government taking everyone’s guns and putting us all in white tents.  The irony of this is not lost, considering the Fox empire was essentially built because of the success of two major 90s shows, “The Simpsons” and “The X-files.”

At the heart of the show’s return episode is the idea that the elite in power are the ones we should really fear, not bright lights in the sky. It is also possible that the return episode has flipped the show’s entire mythology. By the end of the episode, Mulder is convinced that the shadowy men/conspirators are ones who need to be feared and fought, that their ultimate aim is full-blown control and subjugation. This idea harkens back to the show’s first two seasons, in which the conspirators were the real villains and the threat of alien existence was never certain. In the later seasons, the aliens took focus and planned a colonization of Earth. The mythos became so ridiculous that there was even a story arc about an alien civil war. Last night’s episode felt a little more grounded in reality.

This possible change/direction for the new season makes sense, considering the show has returned in the age of mass economic inequality and growing global tensions. It’s also possible that the writers realized how bloated the alien mythology had become and they wanted to strip things back to the basics. We have five more episodes to find out!

Here are some basic questions I would also like to see answered.

  1. How/why is the cigarette smoking man still alive, considering his fate in the final episode of season 9?
  2. Whatever happened to William, Scully and possibly Mulder’s son? He was briefly mentioned in the episode, but where has he been?
  3. Does Scully have alien DNA?