The X-Files - My Struggle IV
Now that season 11 of The X Files is officially over, isn't time we all got a collective hug?
Seen above, Mulder and Scully share what seemingly is their final embrace on TV. Gillian Anderson has repeatedly said she won't be back as Dana Scully and despite Chris Carter's reassurances the X Files isn't done, it seems it is.
This final scene on the dock is also the only true emotional beat of the episode. The rest was a pell-mell roller coaster ride of foot and car chases usually culminating in gunfire.
You can't say the X-Files didn't tie up a few loose ends!
As Mulder and Scully hug it out, the bodies of William and the Cigarette Smoking Man drift away into the inky depths.
Only to see William resurface as the episode fades to black as the classic X-Files tones slowly linger.
This seems like a miscalculation. I would have much rather have William choose his own death to add a sense of finality to the whole affair. His sacrifice would have lent closure to a confused and frustrating story line.
He would have freed his erstwhile parents from their constant pursuit in addition to giving Mulder the pretext of finishing off the CSM for the last time. As it is, his ability to survive fatal wounds, see the future or liquefy opponents won't go unnoticed by any future iteration of the X-Files. Not as long as Fox Mulder has anything to do with it.
And how about that head wound? William's alien DNA allows his human brain to keep on functioning despite being shredded by a bullet? Don't say it makes for quick healing either. The bullet hole is still there.
Perhaps the DNA will lead to an accelerated emotional maturation process. As it was, William was totally unable to continue in stealth survival mode without visiting his ex-girlfriends. So, if Mulder can figure that much out, then surely he'd be able to detect any other blips on the William radar.
As for that emotional beat I spoke of to end the episode. It truly resounded as Mulder plaintively confessed, "After all this, what am I if not a father?" That one stung.
Like Scully did in the last episode, Mulder looks at his body work and wonders what he's left behind. This from a man who has chased down government conspiracies, faced down aliens and other beasties and survived his closest friends and allies.
Fortunately, Scully reveals her pregnancy and the weight of the world is lifted from Mulder's shoulders. This reveal was a bit odd in and of itself in that it shows that's not what she whispered to Mulder in "Nothing Lasts Forever." Otherwise, Scully would not have mentioned it here.
What did she whisper? I guess we'll never know. My guess was, she's leaving the FBI.
Did Mulder "Save the world" by finally ridding the planet of the CSM's apocalyptic machinations? I ask because the title of the episode was, "Salvator Mundi" (A painting attributed to Leonardo DaVinci seen above.) which translates from the Latin to, "Saviour of the World". I'm sure CSM fancied himself as such. Like Christ, he kept coming back from the dead. But unlike Christ, he wasn't willing to sacrifice himself. Instead, his plan was to cull humanity in order to save it.
It seems William was the "Salvator Mundi" as he did sacrifice himself only to be immediately resurrected. But, if one is truly to be Christ-like, then one would have to have a plan for humanity in the future. If that's so, then we haven't seen the last of William.
Unless this was the last of the X-Files! Sigh, so frustrating.
The Chris Carter Contribution
Chris Carter has his critics when comes to his writing style. He's either vilified for stilted dialog or a preponderance of exposition. Or both.
Not a problem in this episode!
This was a non-stop actioner. When it reached the mid-way point I thought to myself, "I hope things slow down a bit so we can get some exposition to help raise the stakes for this episode."
Not that I didn't understand what was going on. But it would have helped if the characters gave voice to their motivations so the depth of their feelings were better understood. Cars zooming about and bullets zipping by are all well and good. But give the actors a chance to, well, act. So they are then given the opportunity to understand these feelings and we the audience can share in either their pain or elation.
Carter has been criticized for his portrayal of women also.
It makes me wonder if Gillian Anderson decided to leave the series out of a state of pique. Sure, she could be just tired of playing the character and she was infamously low balled for her salary in 2016.
But, what if Anderson had a problem with the way Scully was portrayed as a mom? Remember her anguish as she lamented losing William back in the episode "Ghouli"? It was real and it was deep.
Fast forward to this episode when Scully learns the truth from Skinner (frustratingly held off screen) and stops Mulder in his tracks by revealing she just, "bore him".
That was pretty jarring. I'm not sure when they filmed this episode as they are typically out of order from the timeline of the normal season. But, Anderson may have read this one through and decided, "That's it, I'm done."
You know, I've always wondered who is the speaker was when we read, "My Struggle". Now I'm thinking it's Gillian Anderson.
Odds and Ends
I'm still lamenting last season's apocalyptic cliffhanger was just a vision. There was so much to work with from there!
Barbara Hershey came back for this? Did she even get a speaking line? (She did, one.) She led a bunch of BDU soldiers around and then got thrown into a blender. What a waste of acting talent.
However, I'm not going to lament the fate of Mr. Y.
But I am going to gnash some teeth over not seeing his space colonization plan come to fruition. Damn, they even had a vehicle. It's a little space shuttle derivative but at at least it was painted "Bad guy black."
The girls are back in town!
Seen in the topmost picture, Sarah Jeffery returns as Brianna Stapleton and immediately above, Madeline Arthur as Sarah Turner.
I had been tracking their credits on IMDB.com since they appeared in "Ghouli". Originally, I had theorized they would be used as bait to lure William out of hiding. But, it seems he just plain missed them. His return to them is a little odd considering he tells everyone near him what a danger he is.
As I mentioned above, maybe taking a bullet to the forehead will accelerate the maturation process wherein he won't feel the need to put anyone close to him in danger anymore.
(BTW, I had been tracking Zak Santiago's credits on IMDB too. He played Mr. Green in "Ghouli". His return in this episode was just a flashback. Too bad.)
Annabeth Gish had a odd return as Monica Reyes. We were to understand that she was serving as a conduit to Scully to keep her appraised of the CSM's plans. For her character's trouble she was shot by Mulder as Old Smokey tried to run him down. Chris Carter has stated in post episode interviews we don't know if she's dead or not. Leaving open her possible return if any.
Oh, and speaking of alive or dead.
This is how we leave the much beloved Walter Skinner?
The last we see of him is two feet sticking out from beneath the two crashed cars. (When he easily could have run up the steps just to the left.) Carter has left open the possibility Skinner is still alive. But why toy around at all with that?
Surely, Skinner deserves a lot better. Especially after the events of "Kitten". "We're with you" spoke Mulder in that episode and that includes we the fans!
Yes, I'm angry at this. (Mitch Pileggi is having a lot of fun with this on Twitter though.)
Joel McHale's "Tad O'Malley" got his screen time too. I have to admit he's pretty good as the breathless and bloodthirsty O'Malley. His character was under-served in this finale. But he did better than Barbara Hershey!
Any other returning characters?
Of course! The X-Files has gone to great pains to give bit role players another shot in this "final" season. Seen above is actor, Gerry Rousseau, who played "Homeless man". We last saw him in 1994's "Blood" as the "Mechanic".
Mark Acheson played our freaked out Trucker. He was last seen in "Quagmire" from 1996 where he played Ted Bertram.
Long time Producer, Joseph Patrick Finn, served as, "The Watching Man". He produced many of the nineties X-Files episodes and also appeared in 1996's "Confessor" and 1998's "All Souls". He even did an acting turn in 2008's X-File move, "I Want to Believe" as the "Whispering Priest".
West Duchovny appeared as past-her-bedtime Maddy. Her claim to fame in this episode? More screen time and lines than Barbara Hershey! (Yes, the Hershey thing bugged me. Not as much as the Skinner thing. But, it bugged me.)
If I were to give this episode of The X-Files a letter grade I would give it a B- . It wasn't quite "Good" which would have been a straight B. I've cited the lack of exposition and therefore the lack of stakes to get us emotionally involved. The frenetic pace, while adrenaline fueled, was unsatisfying because it really didn't give the episode any meat on it's narrative bones.
Mulder was reduced to a gun happy sure shot (he rarely missed). But at least he got to finish off the CSM at the end and he delivered that great line about being a father that will forever join Mulder and Scully in our hearts and minds.
Especially if we never see them again.
Gillian Anderson did a lot with what little she was given this season. And this was her season! She really shone as an actress in "Ghouli" particularly in the Coroner's room scene. Hopefully, she'll get an Emmy nod for that.
In this episode, they once again separated her from her partner which infuriates me. She was a little breathless in her portrayal and she had to plead with Skinner for help.
She's "Dana Freakin Scully"! She doesn't have to plead with anyone!
What Anderson think of this episode?
Gillian AndersonVerified account @GillianA
Sorry, that's the best that "Blogspot" would embed. But you get the message. She didn't like it either.
Somebody hilariously followed with this...
Ha! (@PuppetMulder gets the credit.)
You know, the whole time-line was a little jarring too. Especially with the flashback and the return to real time. I forgot it was a flashback!
Here is where I stop criticizing one of my favorite shows of all time. Why? Because it's one of my favorite shows of all time!
I went to a Comic-Con in 1998 and saw William B. Davis speak. He was hilarious!
Then there was this gem from the 2016 Boston Comic Con.
She was chatty, patient and um, patient. It had to have been a long day for her and she thanked me as we parted! Me! I was the one floating on air with drool on his chin.
Thank you lady, David Duchovny, (I've got him tracked on SongKick for a concert) Mitch Pileggi, all the rest and Chris Carter too! (Carter signed a copy of the X-File issue of Rolling Stone as a graduation gift for my step-daughter.) There would be no X-Files without Chris Carter so let's not forget that.
Is there an X-Files in our future? Who knows since the purchase of Fox by Disney is still in the works. But look what Disney did for the Marvel movies.
The truth is still out there and....