Monday, January 25, 2016

The X-Files 10x01 "My Struggle" (For Better or For Worse) [Contributor: Lizzie]

"My Struggle"
Original Airdate: January 24, 2016

Is this a dream? I’m still not sure this isn’t a dream. After all, it’s not like I’ve been waiting for new episodes of The X-Files for over thirteen years. And it’s not like the last time we saw any new footage of Mulder and Scully together was eight years ago. Which, some people will say, is nothing. Shows end. You move on.

And you do. But you never really forget your first love, no matter where life takes you.
Cue Sunday night, with my first love(s) coming back to TV in the first of a six-episodes revival that feels both like a present, and entirely too little. But let’s not dwell on the future. At least not now. Let’s take this moment to commemorate the past, celebrate these actors, and to recap all that’s new in the world of The X-Files.


How else, but with a voiceover. I’m aware that many people hated them, but I was always a big fan of the opening monologues, especially when they were Mulder’s. Of course, at 13 years old, Mulder was my-not-so-secret-crush, so if he was speaking, I was listening. And analyzing. And also probably memorizing.

Things haven’t changed as much as I would like to think.

For a hardcore fan of The X-Files such as myself, the voiceover probably wasn’t necessary. But I get it — the show is trying to pick up new fans. At times, that made this episode too heavy with exposition. But don’t despair, X-Files super-fans. At least Chris Carter doesn’t treat us with kid gloves when it comes to the conspiracy stuff.

Because, wow. That was complicated.

In general, this is an episode that tries to be both a pilot and a walk down memory lane, and it succeeds in doing both just as much as it fails.

I can’t speak for new fans, but if I’m confused after watching each and every episode of this show, often more than once, then how does The X-Files expect people to understand new mythology from their convoluted explanation?

Even when it fails, though, this episode still succeeds. It does so because David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have the type of chemistry that can make even cheesy, complicated dialogue work. It works because they both know their characters well enough not to play them as they would have twenty years ago. Because they’re not the same people. Mulder’s been beaten too many times for youthful exuberance. Scully’s lost too much for detached professionalism. This is personal now in a way that, maybe, it’s never been before.

Five more episodes, you say? With these two playing Mulder and Scully, sign me up for twenty.


Mulder and Scully were my first OTP. In fact, Mulder and Scully invented the term OTP. Online fandoms, shipping, and most of the terms we use today can be traced back directly to the early days of The X-Files fandom. When I first heard that after so many years of working towards a relationship, Mulder and Scully would be broken up at the beginning of the revival, I was understandably upset. How could Mulder and Scully break up? That wasn’t even possible. There was something wrong with a world in which Mulder and Scully could willingly choose to not be together.

And yes, there is. There is something wrong. But there also isn’t. When there are monsters and aliens and government conspiracies on TV, you tend to forget that these characters are people — regular people with feelings. You judge them by different standards. And, most of the time, you’re right to do so, because most show-runners don’t dare to have their characters be so... well, real.

That’s what Mulder and Scully are in “My Struggle.” They are real. They were partners for many years. They had a child together. They were a couple. Now they’re broken up. And yet Skinner calls Scully because she’s the only one who knows how to reach Mulder. He practically orders her to go with him. Sure, there’s bitterness over their breakup, especially on Mulder’s side; but above all that, their interactions are clearly colored by the way they feel about each other. Mulder isn’t trying to hide it. Scully isn’t trying to hide it. And I don’t mean they’re not trying to hide it from the world; I mean, they’re not even trying to hide it from each other.

It’s both incredibly mature, and heartbreaking to the extreme. It’s basically Scully saying, “I love you, but I just can’t be with you.” No wonder Mulder’s bitter. That’s literally the worst break-up ever. At the end of the episode, however, Scully’s all in. With the conspiracy, with Mulder, with finally “getting these sons of bitches.” And though there’s no reconciliation — not really — it finally feels like our two favorite agents are back on the same page.

(Basically, if they’re not back together by the end of the revival, I’ll eat my DVDs. All nine seasons’ worth of them.)


I wish I could recap what happened in this episode. Oh, wait. Maybe I can. Aliens? Yes, those exist. Colonization? All a big lie. But who’s lying to us? The government, duh. It’s always the government. What do they want? We’re not sure, but we have five more episodes to find out. That’s basically what happened. No, I’m serious. That’s the recap of about ten minutes’ worth of monologue, both by Mulder AND Tad O’Malley. And, okay, there’s also Sveta. Sveta is a sweet girl who’s been abducted many times. Except not by aliens. Sveta claims she has alien DNA. Scully runs the tests which, of course, come back negative. But Scully seems to have learned something from so many years on this show, so she runs them again, and she also runs her OWN DNA. Because, hey, “alien” abduction.

End result? Both Sveta AND Scully have alien DNA. But Sveta is killed, of course, because this is The X-Files. So we’re down to Scully.


Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but I really liked this episode. It doesn’t come close to some of the best episodes. But it’s not one of the worst, either. Yes, the conspiracy stuff is convoluted, and Mulder goes from A to Z so quickly that whiplash is a real concern, but that’s Mulder. That’s Chris Carter. The saving grace for this episode (and for almost all them, really), is the magic that is Mulder and Scully together. Put those two in the same room and even the cheesiest lines sound better, even the most ridiculous explanations sound more convincing.

The show has been banking on that for ages. It wasn’t about to stop now.

Other things:

  • Mulder, you softie. You kept all those creepy pictures with Scully that I’m pretty sure an alien took, because, wow, great angles. 
  • I’d forgotten how great Gillian Anderson was. How is this even possible?
  • Tad O’Malley needs to stop hitting on Scully right this second or HE is going to become the most hated character in this revival. 
  • I probably shouldn’t be happy that the CSM is back, but hey, nostalgia. I wonder if we’ll ever get a definite answer about whether he really is Mulder’s father. Or if they’ll explain how he survived the explosion. Not that I’m holding my breath on either.
  • Back to Tad, I don’t even understand how he can be hitting on Scully when the woman only has eyes for Mulder. It’s not happening, buddy. Let it go.
  • The Flukeman is sorta creepy, even in pictures.
  • THEY DIDN’T EVEN UPDATE THE PICTURES in the credits. I might have teared up.
  • The first meeting between Mulder/Scully and the way BOTH of them look at Tad like he might be a little crazy is classic. 
  • David Duchovny can still sprout lines like “I only want to believe” and  “Fiction masquerading as facts” with the same conviction as he used to. 
  • All the medical knowledge I have (which comes from many years of watching medical dramas on TV) tells me that there’s no way Scully should be covered in that much blood when she gets out of the OR. 
  • Mulder calling Scully "Dana might not have seemed like the "OH, BURN" moment for casual viewers that it was for me. But, OH. BURN.
  • One good thing about the 23 years that have elapsed? Better special effects.
  • Again, I always wish someone would take Scully to SEE the evidence before it disappeared. Because it always does. 
  • The real X-Files is how these cast members have managed not to age in the past thirteen years. They all look amazing.
  • I’m pretty sure Joel McHale is coming back. I do not want Joel McHale to come back. [Jenn’s Note: YOU TAKE THAT BACK, YOUNG LADY. ... Sorry, my love for Joel McHale trumps a show I’ve never watched.]
The X-Files continues its two-night season premiere event, tonight, Monday, January 25 at 8 PM EST, and will air on that same night and time for the duration of the six-episode revival.


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