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The X-Files Recap: My Struggle 4

We have finally arrived…this is the end. While Fox was extremely on about promoting the last episode of season 11 as a “season finale,” for most of us this is a series finale. Again. I can’t tell you how odd it is to have a show you love as much as I love The X-Files to end twice with the same actors and behind the scenes team involved. I guess this is the remake world we live in.

“My Struggle 4” was, well, a struggle. None of these Chris Carter written and directed bookends have been good, let’s face it. My expectations were extremely low already, especially with the “medical rape” situation that we were handed in the season 11 premiere, “My Struggle 3”. My disgust has been well documented in the form of articles, my recap, and various other interviews I’ve done, so I won’t belabor the point. Once again, Scully was sidelined for the entire episode for no apparent reason as Mulder drove his fast Mustang and chased William across three states. William/Jackson monologued over the opening, giving a bit of background growing up with his adoptive parents. His powers started to manifest around age 11, so I guess that whole Jeffrey Spender/magnetite thing either dissipated as he aged or was forgotten about because someone refuses to keep a show bible. Ahem.

Usually in these recaps, I go into a detailed description of what exactly transpired. This one might be a bit short because it was just a lot of driving around and shooting with some yelling. Essentially, Scully got a call from Monica Reyes that William was on a plane headed for Maryland and Mulder rushed off to intercept him, leaving Scully at home for reasons unknown. He didn’t find him at the private jet warehouse, but he did find Mr. Y and, sick of his nonsense, shot him in the head. Mulder also killed several of his private security guards. Scully called him, upset, but also having found something with lottery tickets on the computer? That was unclear. Mulder said he was off to Tennessee to find William for reals, called from the gas station, and Scully kept telling him to listen to her because he was in danger. He didn’t, of course.

Scully meets with Skinner, who was just told by Kersh to fire both Mulder and Scully and close the X-Files. If I have to hear “we’re shutting you down” from this show one more time…they’ve literally been doing this since the end of season 1. Yawn. Scully had apparently been posting some things about the coming contagion to Tad O’Malley’s site, and he ran with it. She called Tad as well, to confirm it. The contagion being released was extremely secondary to all the running and driving Mulder was doing, and it never felt like a threat. Skinner and Scully hop in the car to go find Mulder and William.

In the car, Skinner apparently tells Scully that William is a medical experiment, that she only carried him, that Mulder’s not his father…only we never hear any dialogue saying any of that. We only hear Skinner saying “I have to tell you something” and then Scully quasi-reacting by having everything go silent and buzzy. So…we’re cheated out of a real conversation on that front too.

Like father, like son

Mulder tracks William to a motel via his former girlfriends, and at least gets to hug William and tell him that he’s his father and he is there to protect him. Barbara Hershey rolls up with some thugs and William makes all of them explode. Blood and guts everywhere! He runs away, Mulder calls blonde girlfriend and her sister answers (played by Duchovny’s actual daughter, Maddy West Duchovny, which was nice). She tells him that William’s headed for the docks. Mulder literally passes Skinner and Scully in his midlife crisis Mustang, which he’s been zooming around in the whole ep, and once they park, Scully takes off without a backward glance at Skinner.

Skinner sees the CSM and Monica in a car. He heads toward them, arms raised at first, but then he pulls out his gun. The CSM makes Monica drive toward Skinner, and he shoots, killing Monica. Skinner dives under his own car as the SUV hits. The CSM get outs, bends under the cars to pick up Skinner’s gun, and we see Skinner is not moving. But CSM doesn’t check for a pulse or whatever, so I doubt he’s actually dead. If he were, it would be a shitty way to go.

Scully and Mulder and William are chasing each other around an old sugar factory. Mulder comes up to Scully and says “it’s me” which obviously means it’s William. He tells her to let him go, that William knows that she loves him. Real Mulder yells “SCULLAAYYYY” from behind them, which makes it quite obvious who is the real deal. William runs away again, and as he’s running we see him go from himself to Mulder again, and the CSM confronts him on the edge of the dock. CSM thinks it’s Mulder and shoots him in the head – he falls over into the water and floats away. Real Mulder ain’t having none of that, and shoots the CSM a whole bunch of times in the chest. Finally, Mulder has learned how to pull the trigger.

Baby tummy touch, aka the only good part of this finale

The CSM’s body drifts away as Scully meets up with Mulder on the edge of the dock. She tells him that William was never theirs, Mulder gets very upset. There is a lot of not talking and heavy breathing, and then Mulder says “what am I if I’m not a father” which is kind of nonsense because last week he was standing in front of Scully telling him that he believed in her and them. Anyway. Scully responds with the only good moment in this whole episode, by putting Mulder’s hand on her stomach and telling him that he is, in fact a father, because she’s pregnant, and that it’s impossible but it’s true. They hug, we zoom away from them hugging, and the last scene is William rising out of the water with a bullet hole in his head but he’s alive. The end.

This episode ranks pretty low on the My Struggle scale…I’d argue it was the worst among them. Rock bottom, as it were. Why? Scully. It just all comes down to how poorly Chris Carter has treated Scully since season 8. We somehow made it through season 9 but she was crying all the time, the second movie “I Want To Believe” had her being extremely sad and dour to the point of telling Mulder she wasn’t coming home if he continued to pursue the case the entire film was based on, and in season 10 she was grieving over not raising William, not romantically with Mulder, and the entire season 10 finale was a vision that never happened. This season was much better for Scully, although she did nothing in the premiere (My Struggle 3: Why Are There Three of These Please Shoot Me) except clutch her head and lay in the hospital; then we found out she was raped but she still had no clue. The episodes between then and last week, where she got thrown into the actual garbage, at least gave us some excellent dramatic moments for Scully. She was a badass action hero in “This,” which remains my favorite of the season. Her other standout episode was “Ghouli,” which of course was about her relationship to William.

What it comes down to is that Carter gave Scully nothing to do in what is Gillian’s final episode of the series. That looks an awful lot like spite to me. Anyone who wants to tell me that this isn’t the case, that it’s not true – you are deluding yourself. Wake up and smell the misogyny! I stand by my assertion after the premiere: Carter is now so jealous of Gillian’s power as the female lead, her fan following, and Scully’s significance to women that he can’t help but diminish and reduce her every chance he gets. With what Scully said to Mulder at the end about letting William go was patently ridiculous, as she herself has been shown fretting over him for years now. Her entire character arc over 18 years is gone in a poof of Morley-branded smoke. There are so many expletives in my brain right now to describe Carter that woe betide him should he ever do another convention again.

Plus you think that Scully, and Mulder, wouldn’t dive into that water to save William? They would. She’s a medical doctor, people!

For someone so obsessed with Scully’s lady parts, to the point of making her pregnant again, Carter refused to acknowledge the rape that Scully endured. He physically rendered her mute and lineless and would not let us even hear the words from Skinner, one of the only trustworthy people in Scully’s professional life. The trope of rendering women mute and without agency is so prevalent in literature and television that as a feminist writer and teacher, I am appalled. I am not surprised. But I am well within my rights to be offended on Gillian Anderson’s behalf. All I can say is: girl, you made the right choice.

Before this shitshow of a finale, I took last night to watch some of the episodes and scenes that made The X-Files great. It was great, once. Scully and Mulder remain great characters, perfect foils for one another, and embody one of the best modern romances in TV history. Nothing Chris Carter can do to his own creation can take that away from us. This is truly a case of either dying a hero or living long enough to become the villain – except Scully and Mulder eat villains like him for breakfast. While credit must be given for creating this show and these characters, they quickly spiraled well beyond Carter’s ability to control them. A brilliant, determined woman with multiple degrees who rewrote Einstein before she turned 30 and a fiercely passionate man with a damaged psyche but the will to believe against all odds took us along on their journey, and perhaps now they are free to live their fictional lives beyond the borders of anyone’s control.

Be happy, be free! Credit: Entertainment Weekly, 2016

To Mulder and Scully and David and Gillian (and Mitch and Annabeth) – I’d have given you a better ending, one that would reflect all you’ve gone through over the last 25 years, for these characters that defined your careers and launched you into pop culture notoriety. Hopefully knowing that this weird monster/UFO show-turned-phenomenon that captivated us all because of your characters (not the repeatedly retconned, overblown mythos) was so much more epic than the finale it was given is enough, for both the team that worked on it and the fans that love it.

I have made some excellent friends from this Friday-night-death-slot show that could, and you can bet this won’t be the last thing I write about The X-Files. Thanks to everyone who followed along with my weekly recaps this season, tweeted me funny memes, or just commiserated in feminist solidarity. You know who you are! Now I’m going to sit back and let the fan fiction writers work their magic with what remains – as it was in days of yore, so shall it be now. I urge you to do the same.

All done. Bye-bye.

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Amy Imhoff

Amy Imhoff is a writer and editor who blogs at Shoes and Starships, a geek lifestyle blog that specializes in genre fandom, pop culture, travel, fashion, and feminism. She is a featured convention panelist, podcast contributor, and interviewer. Amy has her masters in literature, enjoys a slightly unhealthy obsession with all things British, and likes to sniff old books. Amy is based outside NYC, where she lives with her husband and two silly cats. Find her freaking out about X-Files and Star Trek @lightstar1013

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