Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
Failing to live up to the massive scale this final chapter called for, My Struggle II ends like it began; trying to find its voice. Returning to the straight-faced, conspiracy driven narrative of the revival premiere, My Struggle II concludes the season with a resounding squelch as opposed to the fanfare of angelic horns we were hoping for (if you’re keeping up with the season you’ll get the reference).
It’s funny; my one running complaint this season has been the lack of connectivity between episodes. So when the one installment that actually follows up on a storyline comes, I end up giving it the worst score of the season (spoilers, the episode is not good). My Struggle II is a step down from the premiere and fails to live up to the fun, intrigue or spookiness instilled by the middle chapters.
Apparently the show has been running in real time, as six weeks passed in the real world, Mulder and Scully have been going on one adventure a week building up to this massive event. Only, the event in question doesn’t actually seem like an event at all. Picking up where the conspiracy left off in the premiere, the cigarette smoking man and his cabal of nameless unseen gentlemen have been tampering with people’s DNA since birth. During their tampering, a select group of people were chosen to receive alien DNA, the only cure for the disease they call the Spartan Virus (it’s like AIDS but you just get it when the writers tell you to instead of contracting it through the sex). The CSM wakes up and decides that today is the day humanity will die, and unleashes his virus (there is little to no explanation of how or why, he just does so).
With Mulder succumbing to the disease (or diseases, I don’t even know) and busy having awesome fights with random thugs (very cool fight scene about midway through the episode), it is up to Scully to get to the bottom of things. During this time of worldwide crisis, we as viewers are expected to believe that the only person covering the global epidemic is Tad O’Malley, the Internet fear monger played by Joel McHale. And for such a widespread disaster, the only shots of sick people we get come from a single hospital that isn’t much more crowded than any regular hospital. All of this is to say that the on screen happenings fail to satisfyingly depict the chaos that is implied through the convoluted dialogue. If people are dropping dead, show us people dying. If the entire world is sick, show us more than a single crowded room in a hospital. Also, if there was a global virus spreading faster than any known disease, why are people getting in their cars and leaving? Wouldn’t they all be looking for help at the hospital instead of contributing to gridlock?
Having established that the events of the episode make little to no sense, let’s talk writing. The premiere struggled with capturing the same balance of fun intensity The X-Files was known for. In later episodes, this was largely fixed, with The Were-Monster being the highlight of the season (and my personal favorite TV episode in a long time). My Struggle II brings us full circle to the trudge that was the dialogue of the premiere. Everyone speaks in tortuous science tongue and never actually accomplishes anything. Scully has a secret meeting with old school X-Files alumni Annabeth Gish where literally nothing is revealed. Then, Scully brainstorms ideas for a cure with the returning Agent Einstein. Only, they keep talking in circles to the point that their conversation becomes more time filler and less engaging storytelling. It was great to see Mulder and CSM back in each others lives, but their back and forth amounts to grand gesturing with nothing to back it up. They spit insults at each other and speak of how futile each of their plans is only for Mulder to pass out from exhaustion (which is what I wanted to do, albeit I saw this episode at 3am).
The implied intricacy of this master doomsday plan sounded awesome in My Struggle, I even regarded that aspect as one of the episodes best. Unfortunately, the pay off abandoned any subtlety and went straight for the throat… and missed by a mile. Which brings us to the ending. For those looking forward to getting more X-Files, you’re in luck! The cliffhanger ending was one of the many things I took issue with this week (after this season establishing itself as a master class of the episodic format) but it does suggest that there is more story to tell. Having Scully singlehandedly save the world is a bit preposterous but at least we’ll get to see her freaky alien child if we get another season.
Overall, My Struggle II gets a 5.5/10.
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