The X-Files 11×01 jumped right back into the action by creatively resolving last season’s cliffhanger while also raising new questions for our favorite FBI agents to answer
Fans of FOX‘s The X-Files are no strangers to waiting. They had to wait fourteen years for a continuation of the show’s main storyline after its original series finale and another two years to get a follow-up to that season’s shocking cliffhanger. Season eleven of The X-Files picked up roughly where season ten left off. Sort of.
Very early in “My Struggle III” it was revealed that the entire season ten finale (and possibly other parts of the season) was nothing more than a vision that Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) had of the future. Fox Mulder’s (David Duchovny) near-death experience after being infected by the deadly alien Spartan Virus was a possible future. After receiving the vision from her son William, Scully suffered a seizure and ended up hospitalized. With the season ten finale being nothing more than a vision from William, “My Struggle III” immediately set out to lay the groundwork to build towards the prevention of that catastrophic future.
RELATED | 5 Reasons to Watch The X-Files Season 11
When Mulder attempted to confront the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), he instead came face to face with two former members of the Syndicate. They told him of the Smoking Man’s plans to wipe out most of the human race with an alien pathogen. Meanwhile, the Smoking Man and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) confronted Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) in an attempt to win him over to their side. During the confrontation, the Smoking Man revealed that he is the true father of William. However, it was unclear if he’s literally or figuratively the father, and given the source of that information, anything he says should be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism. Mulder and Scully eventually decided that searching for William is critical to helping to stop the Smoking Man’s plans.
“My Struggle III” will likely be a highly divisive episode for long-time fans of the series. Despite giving numerous answers to major questions, the details were murky enough that the answers we were given may turn out to only be partially true or even completely false. The “I want to believe” in the opening credits even shifted to “I want to lie,” which further indicates that the truth may not be what we’ve been led to believe it to be. This thought may comfort, terrify, or even annoy fans (possibly all at the same time).
The X-Files is finally back and as usual, it’s given us a lot to think and talk about. So let’s get right into discussing the episode with this week’s roundtable guests!
Vicky (@MrsWilliams1704) – Lifelong X-Files fan, who would sit and discuss the show constantly given half a chance.
Anaka (@YngBloodRusher) – Student, animal lover, music/TV/movie nerd.
VP (@Vero_Panaro) – Fan of The X-Files
Briana (@sassy_scully) – PR student. Lover of cheese, bacon and all things Scully.
Gigi (@trilliaventuras) – Mom to triplets. Passionate, my glass is either full or not there at all. Sci-fi nerd since before it was cool. Fangirl extraordinaire.
1. What did you think of the show using narration from the Smoking Man to reintroduce the mytharc and characters? Was he an appropriate choice or would you have preferred that someone else reintroduce viewers to the main story?
Vicky (@MrsWilliams1704): I actually really enjoyed having season 11 introduced by the CSM. He’s been such an integral part of the show from the very beginning, such a massive character, that getting to see his version of world history and what he’s done, influenced and faked was brilliant. We’ve had Mulder and Scully’s side of what’s been going on, so for me, CSM was the only logical choice. He’s got the familial connection to Mulder and was responsible for Scully’s abduction, so definitely the right choice.
Anaka (@YngBloodRusher): I thought having Cigarette Smoking Man open the episode was a good call. He’s one of the few constant characters that have been there since season 1, and the main villain. He was the best choice.
VP (@Vero_Panaro): I liked it and I think the selection is appropriate. He’s one of the most important characters.
Briana (@sassy_scully): I don’t like CSM so I wasn’t particularly fond of it. I think a bunch of X-Files fans found it too slow and boring for a while since we knew everything that was being reintroduced. It felt like it dragged on. If I was going to have to sit through a reintroduction then I would have preferred if Mulder or Scully had done it.
Gigi (@trilliaventuras): I actually liked it. It had to be him. No one else has the inside scoop as he does, even if we can’t believe him. He’s one of the best villains on TV because his intentions have never been clear. Is he really just a pawn, as we were made to believe for years, or is he truly evil all on his own and with his own agenda? The tag line change and him telling us his full name set the mood for the whole episode.
2. Early on we learned that the season 10 finale was part of Scully’s vision of the future. How do you feel about that development? Was it a clever narrative trick or did you feel cheated? Somewhere in-between?
Vicky: Loved that twist. I know it could have ended up cringeworthy (looking at you Bobby Ewing shower dream sequence) but it was the polar opposite to that. Having “My Struggle II” basically be one long premonition was to me, a stroke of genius. I loved seeing where Scully’s visions were coming from. After 15 years of guilt, knowing that it was William creating a psychic link to his birth mother was amazing. I just loved it so so much.
Anaka: I thought it was very interesting the way they did it. I always had my suspicions about last season because the virus outbreak seemed to be too rushed. So it makes sense that it was just a vision. I’m very curious to see what they do with the rest of the season and how much of the vision is actually going to happen.
VP: It was an ingenious narrative trick. We didn’t expect it.
Briana: I’m beyond thrilled that they decided to change the ending. I don’t feel cheated or slighted about that part in any way. I think we were all hoping that the season 10 finale wasn’t real since we all thought it was sh*t in the first place.
Gigi: Even though I can understand the need to do it the way it was done in order to move the story, and in that aspect it was a genius move, I feel absolutely and completely cheated. Who was on that spaceship? Would they find William in time to save Mulder? Would Scully’s DNA really save mankind? Why did Monica betray everyone? So many unanswered questions!
3. The X-Files has adapted to the current political and global climate without directly taking a side. Even the concept of climate change has been worked into the story to explain why the alien colonists didn’t arrive in 2012. How do you think it’s doing so far? Was it a good idea to do that?
Vicky: Personally. I’m not overly impressed with the way that the alien invasion has just been brushed aside. It was such a massive part of “The Truth” in season 9, that I kind of feel cheated that they’ve just disregarded everything that Mulder and Scully fought for. I’m still of the belief that they should have stuck with the original planned invasion and not retconned it into what it is now.
Anaka: I personally am not a fan of bringing real world problems into shows, but I didn’t really mind it at all while I was watching “My Struggle III.” I really appreciate how they don’t take sides on political and environmental problems. Also the way they bring up climate change makes a lot of sense with the story, so I like how they did that.
VP: It’s interesting and it’s a good idea to add the current global level to the series.
Briana: I think that the show could do so much more with the platform they have. Most times you never wanna see a show get political, but in this day and age I think that is what we need in a way. I wouldn’t say what the show has done is a bad thing and I’m curious to see how this will all play out in the rest of the series.
Gigi: This is a very fine line to walk. It can be argued that the X Files has always done this (we have not forgotten the “smallpox vaccine is sort of evil” plot line ) but with the current climate on important issues like global warming and what constitute actual scientific proof, it would’ve done better by staying away from all this.
4. The search for William looks like it will be a central part of the story this season. What do you think the Smoking Man wants him for? Is William part of his grand plan or is the Smoking Man simply attempting to connect with family in his own twisted way?
Vicky: I can’t understand why the CSM wants William so badly. Does his DNA mean that it’s possible to create a vaccine to prevent the Spartan Virus killing people? And because the CSM wants to wipe people off the planet, can William help prevent that? I’m feeling slightly unsure about that whole thing to be honest. I’m just hoping that this is going to be answered throughout the remaining episodes.
Anaka: Honestly I don’t know what Cigarette Smoking Man wants with William. My best guess is that he knows William could be a cure to the virus and he wants to make sure the cure stays hidden. Or maybe like Mulder, he needs his DNA to survive.
VP: I love that this season is centered in William. I think CSM wants him because he’s part of their great plan.
Briana: The Smoking Man wants to use William for selfish reasons. He cares about no one and only wants to find William to use him and then he’ll toss him to the side. That’s CSM’s nature. If he succeeds in finding William, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tossed him to the side after that.
Gigi: First of all let’s remember CSM shot his own son, the one he raised and supposedly loved, in the face. So I don’t believe for one minute he’s doing this for love, even a twisted one. He’s always had ulterior motives and he’s never told what those were. His plan with William (and Scully and Mulder) has to be very specific. He needs something from him (them) that he can’t get any other way.
5. Scully and William share an extremely strong connection that goes well beyond a normal mother/son relationship. How do you think that superhuman connection will impact Scully’s usual healthy dose of skepticism about the paranormal and the unexplained?
Vicky: I think at this point in her life, Scully is way past the point of skepticism. She’s seen and done too much to be naive or ignorant to the paranormal anymore. She’s seen the things William did as a baby as well, so realistically, Scully can’t deny it. The visions she’s been having (being sent by William, maybe?) to me show a clear psychic link between the two that is more than likely a result of both having the alien DNA. It’s going to be interesting to see whether those visions recur over the remaining episodes.
Anaka: I don’t think it will change her beliefs that much. Her skepticism of the unexplainable has been lowered greatly since season 1, in regards to her seeing stuff that most people would never see in their whole life.
VP: I think this will influence Scully’s belief. It will become stronger. I also think this will be essential for them so they can save the world.
Briana: This connection is still a little wild to me. Why after all this time has this connection happened? It’s just another thing that Chris Carter has pulled out of his trusty storyline hat and thrown into a script. At this point, the connection scares me a bit since we don’t know the full extent of it. I feel that Scully will still remain a skeptic yet will still be open to other possibilities as she always has been.
Gigi: Scully has grown so much since we met her, it’s not just that she’s skeptic and doesn’t believe, but that she needs actual proof before she’ll join Mulder in yelling that the sky is falling. Even when she knows it is. So I don’t think her connection with William will really change the way she views the paranormal. She will either believe something or not, based on its own merits.
6. How do you think the truth about William’s parentage will impact Mulder and Scully? Will they still consider him their son? How do you feel about that reveal overall?
Vicky: When CSM made his big reveal, I sobbed! I was heartbroken that he could potentially be William’s father, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I believe he was speaking figuratively and not literally. I believe he did something to Scully in “En Ami” that kickstarted her fertility again, but that William was conceived the old fashioned way with Mulder. So CSM saying he’s William’s father, I don’t believe he means biologically. As far as I’m concerned William will ALWAYS be Mulder and Scully’s. it’s ridiculous to believe otherwise.
Anaka: Personally, I believe Cigarette Smoking Man is lying. He may have done something to Scully that day years ago (like make her able to have kids again, or implant her with alien DNA) but I don’t believe he’s the actual biological father at all. He could be giving Skinner BS just to try and improve the chances of Skinner helping him get to William. Plus CSM did say in the episode that he only has TWO sons. I don’t know if Mulder is the father, or if there even is a father (the father could just be Alien I suppose) but I don’t believe it’s CSM.
VP: I think Mulder and Scully love each other and have been through a lot together. It’s not going to affect their relationship. For them, William is their son.
Briana: Buckle up. This is the worst thing Chris Carter could’ve ever done to the show. Not only was the plot twist disgusting and twisted in every way imaginable, but it was also extremely devastating to the viewers. Chris Carter used this for shock value and then is going to try and fix it in the very last episode. I can’t even begin to imagine the reactions of Scully and Mulder. The two of them have waited years to see THEIR son and as it turns out, he’s really Mulder’s half-brother. Excuse me while I vomit. (It was such a struggle to not cuss in every sentence.)
Gigi: I still believe William is Mulder’s. No way Scully didn’t test him back then when his paternity was a concern (“We were afraid of the possibilities, but the truth, we both know”). CSM says it himself in the intro (“I have two sons”). He thinks he’s god and wants leave some sort of legacy (“to my sons and their sons). So in my opinion there’s no question that Mulder and Scully are the biological parents of William. I know this is a show that dwells in the terrifying, the horrible, the uncomfortable. Medical rape was always a possibility but its confirmation hurts more than I ever thought it would.
7. The mytharc on The X-Files has been filled with many twists and turns over the show’s long history. It’s become increasingly complicated because of that. Do you think “My Struggle III” did a good job continuing that storyline or were you unhappy with the direction it went in?
Vicky: I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. I mean, I hate that the direction they’ve taken the myth arc means that everything that Mulder and Scully fought for over the original run is now basically redundant. Like, what were they even fighting for if it was all just a lie? It kind of makes the classic mythology episodes a bit pointless which hurts because they’re excellent. I would have preferred them to stick with the alien invasion being thwarted by Mulder and Scully.
Anaka: Overall I think they did a pretty good job. It all makes sense. I am kinda upset about the chances that Mulder isn’t the father, but that’s still up on the table at the moment. I did love the rest of the episode though and I think it did a great job of explaining the plot. I was definitely less confused than I was in season 10. It felt more like The X-Files. I’m very interested to see what happens in the rest of the season.
VP: I love the direction the series is going in.
Briana: Chris Carter continues to do an awful job with the mythology arc and I wish he had truly listened to us last season when we all said that he shouldn’t be allowed near the mythology episodes without written consent from the fans. After I spent two (2) hours sobbing last night, I found myself angry and unhappy over the direction HE chose to take the show in. I’m disappointed but truly not surprised at what he pulled last night.
Gigi: I don’t even try to make sense of the mytharc anymore. I just take it as it is presented episode by episode. As usual we were left with more questions than answers. Plus now we have this, new and improved or actually old and the same, syndicate that may unnecessarily complicate things even more. CSM “loves” Mulder and wanted to keep him alive (and by extension, Scully) for about six of the original seasons and now suddenly he wants him dead and just keep Scully and William? My head hurts.
Final Verdict: Despite some murky answers and divisive mytharc-related decisions, Mulder and Scully are back and we can’t wait for them to get back to work
The mythology episodes of The X-Files have long been a major point of contention for fans of the series. Everyone has their own favorite storylines and aspects of the mytharc. Others have grown to hate it. “My Struggle III,” much to the horror or delight of fans, ended up pulling a rather large narrative trick out by making the entire season ten finale (and possibly other parts of the season) a vision delivered to Scully from her son William. The episode had the difficult task of working to clean up years of increasingly complicated mythology episodes while also reintroducing fans to that complexity.
For the most part, “My Struggle III” succeeded in doing that even if the way it did it may not appeal to everyone. William B. Davis once again did an outstanding job portraying the enigmatic and powerful Cigarette Smoking Man. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson slipped back into their roles with relative ease. The new focus on finding William and preventing the apocalyptic vision Scully had should give us plenty of reasons to continue tuning in. While parts of season ten felt a bit shaky and rushed, the premiere of season eleven felt more evenly paced and more like the original run of the show.
Despite the episode doing well to pick up the pieces left by season ten, “My Struggle III” isn’t without its flaws. Some fans may not appreciate the narrative trick of negating last season’s finale. Others have expressed severe discomfort and anger over the decision to suggest that the Smoking Man is William’s real father, which would mean Scully was violated once again. The alien colonization of Earth storyline appears to have been halted as well. The explanation for the aliens abandoning their plans made sense but it’s difficult to not be a bit disappointed to see that aspect of the series abandoned.
Whether the direction “My Struggle III” is taking the main storyline is loved or hated, the show has continued on in the tradition of confusing, infuriating, and exciting fans. Sometimes it’s managed to do all of those things at the same time. Mulder and Scully are once again investigating the unexplained and are now searching for their son. Regardless of where the mythology episodes end up taking us, we’re excited to see how the characters get there.