TV Review: The X-Files - Season 10 Finale "My Struggle II"
Episode 6: "My Struggle II"
Synopsis: The investigations that Mulder and Scully previously began with conspiracy theorist and web-TVshow host Tad O’Malley (guest star Joel McHale) seem to have awakened powerful enemies. A widespread panic begins as people all over the country suddenly start falling gravely ill, and Scully must look within to try and find a cure. Meanwhile, Mulder confronts the man whom he believes to be behind it all, but another figure from Mulder and Scully’s past may prove to be the key to their salvation.
REVIEW: When the series finale of The X-Files aired in 2002, we were teased with the impending alien colonization/apocalypse kicking off in 2012. Well, after the release of a feature film that bore no connection to the series mythology, it didn't seem like we would ever see that promised endgame that Chris Carter had been building towards. Well, after a mixed bag of episodes in this revival run, we finally see the end of days come to fruition in what has to rank as one of the best episodes the show has ever produced. Bringing together everything that has been a hallmark of the show with some action and a massive cliffhanger, The X-Files has proven that it needs to be back on the air in a big way.
Returning to the plot from the season premiere, tonight's finale brings back Joel McHale as Tad O'Malley as the predicted epidemic sweeps over the world. With Mulder missing, Scully is called to his home where O'Malley explains the alien DNA appears to be in everyone's genome as illness begins to sweep across the country. Scully contacts the police and teams with Skinner and Agent Einstein to try and find her partner. Scully heads to her hospital to try and see if her genome will lead to a clue as to what is happening when they encounter the first infected soldiers displaying signs of anthrax. Scully deduces that innoculations are the method of infecting the population but a call from an old friend lends some details to what is actually going on.
In an interesting move, the old friend ends up being Monica Reyes. While Annabeth Gish's character never quite gelled with audiences, making her the assistant to the Cigarette Smoking Man as he unleashes his plan to decimate the world's population is a ballsy move. In fact, Reyes wants to make amends for her deal with the devil by telling Scully that her alien DNA is actually making her immune to the epidemic. Scully then decides to sequence her DNA with Einstein to develop a cure. At the same time, Agent Miller heads to Spartansburg, South Carolina where Mulder is confronting his nemesis. It is there that the two have a showdown. CSM offers Mulder a chance to be a part of the chosen elite but he refuses and begins to succumb to a fever. CSM is just as evil as ever and slides in a reference that this plan has been in the works since 2012, meaning the originally teased date was the beginning of the end rather than the true end.
As Scully continues to watch the world collapse around her, Mulder is barely hanging on. As all of this happens, Tad O'Malley continues to broadcast as he himself begins to fall ill. The tension is palpable in the manner of the best thrillers about viruses and contagion. Chris Carter's script for this episode owes a great deal of thanks to the input from an actual scientific expert, lending some realism to Scully and Einstein's attempts to develop a cure for the diseases surrounding them. It also more organically deals with the series mythology compared to the overstuffed season premiere. You almost forget that Mulder's contact (Rance Howard) and Sveta are barely an afterthought. In fact, this episode thrives with the streamlined and single minded focus.
With the episode careening towards the final fifteen minutes of the hour, I began to feel confident that a cliffhanger was coming. Scully treats Einstein with the IV retrovirus treatment and then rushes to a bridge to meet Miller and Mulder with their own medicine. She finds that Mulder is much worse off than she anticipated and says he will need stem cell treatment from their son William. The only problem is she has no idea where he is. At that moment, a bright light shines down on the trio and we see it is an alien spacecraft, or possibly an alien inspired craft. With hundreds of onlookers witnessing what has been the crux of Mulder's crusade for two decades, it seems apparent that the truth is finally being revealed.
But, as much as the premiere was a Mulder-centric episode, this finale is very Scully focused. The opening teaser was narrated by Gillian Anderson and closed with a very cheesy morphing effect of Scully becoming an alien. The episode opening credits also featured a different tagline, this time displaying "This is the End". But, with the alien craft shining a spotlight, we zoom in to Scully's eye and the hour cuts to black. It is a perfect ending, but feels more like the beginning of the end. Out of all six episodes in this limited run, this was by far the best and one cell of a way to close out the season.
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