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TV Review: The X-Files, Season 10, Episode 1: ‘My Struggle’

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With his first new episode of The X-Files in over a decade, Chris Carter jumped straight back into the thick of things, giving viewers next to no time to catch-up or even to breathe.

Which isn’t a bad thing.

It just means that fans are going to have to do a lot of the guesswork themselves, putting the pieces together to map out what has happened since we last saw Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. But while online fan forums reflect a broad spectrum of questions and concerns, I personally only have three.

The first thing I would like to figure out is what happened to Mulder, to Scully, and to their relationship since. Then I would like to find out what happened to Mulder’s investigation of the truth. And finally, I would like to find out what is currently at the heart of the conspiracy driving the mythology forward.

The X-Files’ Mythology

At this point in time, we only have a one-sided idea of what the government conspiracy is, an idea heavily influenced by Tad O’Malley’s, erm, unique and passionate opinions. It’s easy to see why O’Malley and Mulder hit it off: the pundit sounds just as paranoid, if not more, than the former FBI agent. I can’t help but wonder if O’Malley’s extreme views will help Mulder realise that he should take Scully much more seriously than he does. Actually, no: I hope this is what will happen.

We also meet Mulder’s newest informant in a long, long line of them. This time, it is a medical doctor who was called to the scene of the crash of a UFO. His conscience started hurting the moment he saw an alien for the first time. It was injured from the crash and immediately shot to death by a fedora toting government agent (is the fedora a nod to Fringe?) His guilt only increased as his medical findings were used in ways he was increasingly uncomfortable with, although he didn’t stop contributing to the advancement of the related science. There is something very Bill Mulder about this attitude, and I can’t help but wonder if Mulder is helping in a way his father seek his redemption by helping this particular informant.

It’s all a little muddled, to be honest, even for a show that has muddled its mythology line a few times even in the peak of its glory days. The muddling is all the more muddled that a lot was packed into one episode and the opening sequence didn’t set the tone for the episode like it usually does. I sometimes felt like crucial information was left on the floor of the editing room, cut out to make the episode fit in forty-something minutes. But had this episode been unpacked into an hour and a half instead to explore what was happening, it could have been a lot less confusing. And although I can understand why Carter chose the opening we were treated to, I can’t help but feel that one featuring Sveta being tested on or taken away, Duane Barry-style, would have done a lot more to set the tone.

But then again, I am reminded of the first dozen or so mythology related episodes of the show. They were at times quite muddled and confusing, which turned into one of the driving principles of the show: that pursuing the truth is a convoluted, confusing thing that requires a lot of doggedness to get to the end of.

Fox Mulder

No wonder, then, that Mulder got depressed (if Sveta is to be believed). We had already seen him during the show’s original nine seasons yo-yoing between idealistic and fresh eyed to bitter and at times broken. His ups and downs colored his view of whatever proof would come his way to the extent that he would either immediately conclude it was aliens or would lash out angrily at the thickness of the veils that had been placed around the truth by men like the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Mulder’s actions in this episode make it seem like he wants to go back, at whatever cost, to those days during which he must have felt as alive as Scully told O’Malley she had felt. It’s almost like, desperate to recapture his glory days, he is willing to jump right on the O’Malley bandwagon. And while one can feel grateful that the pundit got a fire lit under Mulder’s you=know-what, one also feels that conditions are ripe yet again for Mulder to be—yet again—led by the nose by where greater forces want him to be led.

It looks like Mulder has not yet learned his lesson, quite unfortunately: that his almost impetuous drive to find the truth, if not tempered with wisdom, will be used against him. This puts him in the very same place he has always been, fighting the same demon that has haunted him since we met him: his narrow-minded view of the truth. He is always willing to throw out of the window everything he has seen and learned at any new lead that seems more solid. I hope these new episodes will see him grow a little, take a step back and evaluate new information in light of everything he has seen and learned over the years, rather than go on a completely new tangent yet again.

Dana Scully

I’m also hoping that Scully will be allowed to move out of the narrow confines her character has been forced to stay in for far too long: the skeptic at all cost. Tired of the darkness and wanting more than the pursuit of the truth at the cost of logic and a scientific approach, I can see how she is in a position to yet again dig her heels deep into the ground to counter Mulder’s impetuousness. But that would be a big mistake; Scully, as a scientist who, during the last seasons of the show, had understood that science as we currently define it can’t explain everything, seems to be in a stronger position than Mulder to find the truth. I hope that Carter and the show’s other writers will not water her down to a parody of her former self at the beginning of The X-Files’ run. I’m hoping that instead, she will be able to more strongly balance out Mulder’s opinions with her more informed, scientific, and thorough view of the truth.

Mulder and Scully

However long their breakup has lasted, “My Struggle” sees Mulder and Scully renew their working relationship. I really hope we won’t have to go back to the old “he believes despite evidence to the contrary, she doesn’t despite evidence to the contrary” routine (although for now it looks like that’s where the show is going). This dichotomy that their views are mutually exclusive has lasted long enough; at this point in time, they are ready to move forward. Perhaps instead, Mulder and Scully’s working relationship could become much more consultative. They are different enough to be able to balance each other out perfectly and get to the truth together much faster.

As for their personal relationship, well, while they still obviously care deeply about each other, there is just as clearly some resentment brewing just below the surface, resentment no doubt related to the state of Mulder and Scully’s working relationship. I don’t think they should be together again unless and until they have figured out how to work together, rather than in opposition to one another.

Final Thoughts on The X-Files Revival

There is both good news and bad news at this point in time: The X-Files’ familiar strengths and weaknesses are both quite present in this episode. For one, Scully and Mulder’s characters don’t seem to have evolved much as individuals. So much hasn’t been explained that it’s at times too confusing and doesn’t help us enough in fitting what we are being shown with what we learned during the show’s initial run. But I, for one, am willing to give Chris Carter a chance, because let’s be honest: I have been waiting for this for a long, long time.

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