“For so long, I believed. What am I now if not a father?” — Fox Mulder
William becomes the all consuming obsession as all factions collide to take control of the future of the human race.
Max: This is it. “My Struggle IV.” The twists and turns of the mythology come down to the miracle child Scully found out she was pregnant with all the way back in “Requiem.” To say that this episode had a lot riding on it is the understatement of the pop culture decade — or at least for the next month or so when Avengers: Infinity War takes up that mantle. X-Philes the world over have become used to a level of disappointment as far as the mythology and later episodes of the series are concerned. Hell, I’m not even sure this post can do justice to all the thoughts stirred up in the wake of what may very well be the last entry of The X-Files in an audiovisual medium, despite thoughts that Chris Carter has to the contrary.
We all know the drill by now with an episode of the mythology. A whole bunch of stuff happens and it is all so serious. Cabals plot and plan using the global population either as pawns or unwitting guinea pigs. Mulder and Scully ride in to save the day and possibly the whole planet. Here, we have William tell his story of how he went from a happy child to the most wanted teenager ever, to see everything ripped from him as his emerging powers alerted those interested to his location — it is all very X-Men, like the sage truck driver joked. The CSM wants him, Erika Price wants him, and our heroes want to keep him safe, attempting to ameliorate the past seventeen years of history. But Kersh is still Kersh, wanting to shut all this nonsense down; all the while Tad O’Malley foments hysteria on his internet show.
Watching the episode, I was really enjoying the adrenaline fueled action sequences, in cars and on foot, something we haven’t had much of in mythology episodes since the revival. There was a definite sense that something momentous was happening. But was what transpired over the course of this episode good, or satisfying? I really cannot venture to say at this point. It is a lot to process — the apparent triple deaths of Skinner, Reyes, and the CSM and our heroes begrudging acceptance that they need to let William go are only the tip of the iceberg. The mythology with this episode has run itself into the ground, with the major antagonists as dead as their so-called designs for the future of humanity. There was a chance in the beginning of this season that the mythology could actually end on a decent note, but it was running on fumes for close to two decades, tonight just made that clear.
I was troubled though by how quickly Scully went from wanting to keep William safe and all of that to this resigned acceptance that she needs to let him go — going as far as to label him a science experiment that she only carried for a little while. I can accept a lot when it comes to The X-Files, this is after all a universe in which there are all sorts of bizarre creatures and happenings, but I cannot accept this. Is she saying this because Skinner managed to tell her the “truth” of William’s paternity before they caught up with Mulder? I’m doubtful of that. This abrupt shift smacks of the need to tie things up with some resonance. And she lets on that she is pregnant again? I find it sad because out of all the trials and tribulations Mulder and Scully had over the years, William was the one good thing to come out of it all. Yes we the viewers know he survived getting shot in the head, but William’s parents have begun the process of letting him go and starting over from scratch with a new child.
And aside from the final scene on the waterfront, there was very little interaction between Mulder and Scully — and what was there was unnatural and strained. For a lot of us — Radhika and myself included — we grew up with these characters, the very least Carter and company could’ve done was give us a bit of the spark that kept us glued to the television screen for all these years.
If anything, this episode crystallized thoughts Radhika and I have had for a while. It was great to have a few more good to great episodes of one of our favorite programs to watch, but the time has come to close the book on The X-Files. All good art needs completion, finality. Let’s not fear the specter of the future but celebrate what we do still have. Plenty of amazing episodes, dozens of indelible characters, and yes, even the most star-crossed couple of federal employees ever. We’ll always have Paris…. or the basement office.
Radhika: The X-Files has had three opportunities (via TV and movies, anyway) prior to tonight’s episode to end its story properly. It has never once ended on a note that has felt truly satisfying. But while I didn’t have particularly strong feelings about “My Struggle IV,” I’d be OK with this being the end because I’m not sure we’ll ever get anything much better. I’m relieved that this episode felt like less of a slog compared to its predecessors. The Jackson/William voiceovers were at least a lot less stilted than Mulder’s voiceovers in “My Struggle III,” and I was able to get drawn into the opening monologue. The pacing, overall, was an improvement.
But like Max, I am also a little perturbed by some choices — keeping Mulder and Scully, two characters that are incredibly compelling as a team, apart for a majority of the episode seemed very strange to me. While I actually liked how season seven’s “Requiem” ended with Scully’s pregnancy, because the episode was so well-crafted as a whole, I just felt confused here. For one, Scully’s a woman who’s had a lot of fertility issues largely due to the experiments performed on her, plus the character is a little older than Gillian Anderson, putting her in her mid-50s. While this may have been done to indicate that she and Mulder really are very much back “on” as a couple and while late-in-life pregnancies aren’t entirely impossible, I just sat there grumpily thinking about how none of it made sense.
And yes, I know that this is a show about aliens and that Scully is apparently an immortal miracle goddess of some kind, but even then, making her pregnant just feels lazy and ties into my theory that the mythology of this show turned into a repetitive ghost of itself a long time ago. How many miracle pregnancies can a woman have over the course of a couple of decades before they become a blatant plot device?
And though I can understand the logic behind why Scully’s willing to let go of William and label him a mere experiment, I agree that the sentiment wasn’t sold on me — at least not in that scene. Maybe there is very little a parent can do for a son like William at that point, and maybe there does need to be a moment for Mulder and Scully to let him go. But I suspect there would be just a little more anguish involved, pregnancy or not. I understand that Scully meant she never raised him the way most mothers are able to raise their children, but her maternal instinct never wavered throughout the history of the show and the grief she has shown in previous years couldn’t realistically come to such an abrupt end.
There were a number of moments that worked for me in this finale, but enough didn’t (to the point where I can’t even be bothered by the prospective deaths of Reyes and Skinner, which is sad, especially in the case of the latter). I am willing to concede that there was some semblance of a beginning, middle and end here, which is a huge improvement over the past couple of “Struggle” episodes, but please — let’s not keep trying to force more of this mythology out anymore. Let me remember this show fondly, which the bulk of this season actually makes it possible to do.
Traditionally, the credits end on a shot with the words “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.” However, in some instances new text emerges.
Our final tagline of the season is “Salvator Mundi,” a Latin expression translating to Savior of the World, an appellation given to Jesus Christ in a series of iconographic paintings over the centuries. This depiction of Christ is usually linked to the Christian apocalypse or end-of-days. Naturally, for our purposes the savior here is William, the miracle child that could save humanity from doom. Recently, a Salvator Mundi painting allegedly done by Leonardo da Vinci sold for over $450 million at auction.
YES, IT’S THAT LADY
West Duchovny — Yes, that is David’s own daughter playing Betty, a schoolmate of one of William’s girlfriends. Will she get into the family business? Time will tell.