The X-Files season finale is full of exploding bodies, uncertainty, and a whole lot of running
After last week’s standalone episode, The X-Files returns to its mythology arc this week with the season finale. “My Struggle IV” starts with William (Miles Robbins) on the run from the government and Mulder (David Duchovny) in a race against time to find him first. To help get the word out about the alien contagion the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) plans to unleash on the population, Scully (Gillian Anderson) leaks information to conspiracy theorist Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale). Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is ordered to get Mulder and Scully under control but instead helps Scully find Mulder.
As Mulder, Scully, the Cigarette Smoking Man, and the former members of the Syndicate close in on William, he becomes more desperate to survive and unleashes devastating powers. After causing his pursuers to explode (literally), he’s confronted by the Cigarette Smoking Man while disguised as Mulder. The Smoking Man shoots William, who he believes is Mulder, in the head. Shortly afterward, Mulder arrives and shoots the Smoking Man numerous times and pushes him into the water, presumably killing him (or making him as dead as he can become anyway…). Mulder and Scully believe they’ve lost William forever but Scully reveals that she’s pregnant with Mulder’s child. Unknown to Mulder and Scully, William is still alive and his future is uncertain.
Despite having the difficult task of potentially concluding the show’s mytharc along with the season, the plot in “My Struggle IV” is surprisingly simple. It’s one long chase sequence with Mulder and the Smoking Man’s men in pursuit of William as he becomes more desperate for survival. The larger conspiracies about the alien contagion and the colonization of space take a back seat in the episode and barely play a role. However, with Tad O’Malley receiving information from Scully, it’s likely that more of the Smoking Man’s plot will come to light and the general public will be made aware of the conspiracy.
Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) plays a small role in helping to track down William but is killed by Skinner in an equally short scene later in the episode. Skinner’s fate is also left ambiguous along with other unanswered questions. Is he dead or merely injured? Will the show continue without Gillian Anderson or is this finally the show’s swan song? In typical fashion for The X-Files, there are a lot of questions and not a whole lot of answers. There is, however, a lot of running and chasing.
Season finales of The X-Files are always a difficult affair. Will we get more of the truth? Will the conspiracy completely unravel into an incoherent mess or will pieces of it suddenly start making sense? How big will the cliffhanger be? “My Struggle IV” is certainly no exception to that end-of-the-season stress. But let’s stop stressing and discuss the episode in our final roundtable of the season!
Vicky (@MrsWilliams1704) – Lifelong X-Files fan, who would sit and discuss the show constantly given half a chance.
Kaiju Ninja (@OfficeSquatch) – Godzilla geek. Gamer. Nerdy about sci-fi, and all things, film and TV.
Soledad (@Solecalvo1) – Physical therapist, sci-fi nerd, X-Files fan for 20 years, smart is sexy.
Trycee (@believeinxfiles) – Hardcore X-Files fan for life.
Anaka (@YngBloodRusher) – Student, animal lover, music/TV/movie nerd.
1. Now that you’ve seen all of season eleven, what are your thoughts on it overall? Would it have been better to have a few more mythology episodes or was the season better off focusing more on standalone episodes?
Vicky (@MrsWilliams1704): I really enjoyed season 11. I loved the ratio of standalone to mythology because really, even though the season was bookended by out and out mythology, it still managed to weave itself through some of the others like “This” and “Ghouli.” The X-Files isn’t The X-Files without the mixture of episodes. They definitely got the balance right, as far as I’m concerned. I know some fans are disappointed by it, but I’m really not. I’ve loved being on his journey one last time.
Kaiju Ninja (@OfficeSquatch): While this episode had cool moments/surprises, overall the “My Struggle” plot for the past few seasons has been lackluster in its story and presentation. The alien conspiracy saga that everyone loves and wants to see has become the weakest part of the series, and I blame Chris Carter sadly. Maybe more episodes of “My Struggle” could’ve helped, but the writing and even the editing just didn’t make these feel like “true” X-Files episodes. The standalone episodes were more entertaining and felt more “X-Files” to me.
Soledad (@Solecalvo1): I personally loved this season because it combined elements of the original series and added modern ones that felt organic to the show. I think the focus on the standalone episodes was effective because every single one of them had an undercurrent mythology theme that served to complement the “My Struggle” episodes, and added some needed character development for Skinner and CSM. Also, it gave room for M&S to work on their issues as a couple, allowing their dynamic to grow and get stronger in preparation to that last scene, where they were finally allowed to have a second chance to live the life they’d to postpone for decades of pain and loses, at least for some time.
Trycee (@believeinxfiles): This season was one of the best seasons ever. I do not want it to end. I’m hoping that maybe in a few months to a year, Gillian will change her mind and maybe they can have a final season.
Anaka (@YngBloodRusher): You know, I’ve always been a sucker for the mythology episodes, but with seasons 10 and 11 I’ve been leaning more towards the monster of the week episodes instead. But yes, I think they should’ve at least had a two-part season finale. Just to maybe clear a few more things up.
2. Mulder came face-to-face with William for the first time in this episode. Despite their meeting being brief, what do you think of that meeting? Was it satisfying? Underwhelming? Why?
Vicky: I loved their meeting. It was clear when Mulder arrived at the motel that he was desperate to see his son (yes, HIS son) and the look on his face and his body language, never mind his actual words, said so much. He needed to see William. He needed to. He needed to have that conversation with him and try and protect his son like a good father would. William was understandably standoffish with Mulder. He doesn’t know him. He didn’t remember him. But Mulder…he needed that moment. I sobbed my way through it when Mulder pulled William in for a hug.
Kaiju Ninja: Very underwhelming and awkward. I didn’t buy that scene at all. And it was funny when Mulder said he could protect him…and did a great job of doing that, didn’t he? Their first meeting was just weird and I think was kinda poorly handled. I like how William handled his killers, and thankfully, that ended the scene on a more…energetic note.
Soledad: That was one of the scenes I was most looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. It was great watching Mulder look for his son with such desperation and the fact that his first instinct after finding him was to hug him dearly. Until that point, William had been a ghost-like Samantha, and he needs to touch him to make it real. I think Duchovny was great on it. It’s heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time to watch Mulder (who we didn’t actually get to know how much he really wanted to be a father before this point) trying to protect his son and bond with him. It all added to the much-needed character development for both of them.
Trycee: Here was the son he only got to hold just once and spent only one day with. It was hard because William is 17 and so he had a lot of baggage and knew that none of them could protect him. It’s pretty realistic. Reunions are never what you envision them to be.
Anaka: I thought it was a great meeting, and I’m happy it happened. It was super sad knowing that Mulder isn’t actually the father, but I loved how William defended and basically saved Mulder from that raid. That was a super cool scene.
3. Skinner’s fate remains ambiguous but it isn’t looking good. Do you think he’s still alive? If he’s dead, do you think that was a good end for his character? What about the fate of Monica Reyes?
Vicky: Oh my god I was screaming during those scenes. It was 12.45am my time and I was screaming into my cushion so I didn’t wake everyone up. I am praying that Skinner is alive. If he’s dead, I don’t know what I’ll do. Despite the ambiguity surrounding his character this season, ultimately, he’s always been there for Mulder and Scully and if he’s just met his end at the hand of CSM, I’ll be heartbroken. As for Monica, I’m actually so sad she’s dead. She was redeeming herself, she was working against CSM all along and protecting William, Mulder and Scully. I wanted her to get the chance to explain herself. So, so sad.
Kaiju Ninja: Well, I kinda predicted Skinner would sacrifice himself to save Mulder and Scully and apparently…he did? It looks like he’s dead but it appeared to me he jumped and landed right before the cars collided, and he seemed to be lined-up to the length of the car. So I thought he might’ve survived…but he sure appeared dead under the wheels of the car. Unless his legs were just crushed.
Soledad: I liked that Skinner never really sold his soul to CSM and somehow remained close to him just to gather information about William to actually help M&S. He actually tried to kill CSM with his own hands and failed, but the sole gesture made him a martyr and kept his honor, which did justice to his character. I personally think he did not die but was very injured. As to Monica, I think she was trying to do the same thing, and tip Scully to help her I think, but her intentions were left more ambiguous than Skinner’s. I think she could be alive too because she’s a hybrid and they tend to be more difficult to kill for their regenerative powers.
Trycee: I think Skinner survived. The bulk of him was under Mulder’s car. So, I think he’s hurt but he survived. Monica was shot in the head and she slumped over. I think she’s dead. And that hurts. I wanted a good ending for her. If there is a season 12, I at least want some flashbacks with her.
Anaka: Sadly, I think he’s dead. I really want to believe (no pun intended) that he is still alive, but like you said it doesn’t look likely. But if he is dead, I’m very satisfied with his death. He died a hero, switching sides to protect Mulder and Scully, he knew where his true loyalties had lain.
4. William exhibited extremely powerful abilities in this episode. He was even able to cause people to explode and survived being shot in the head. Do you think William represents the future of humanity? Or will he bring about humanity’s destruction after all?
Vicky: In my opinion, William is the next step up from the super soldiers from season 8 and 9 and that was why CSM was so desperate to get to him. CSM would absolutely use him to his own ends and keep him as a test subject for the rest of his life, in an attempt to create more like him. William seemed pretty on the level really and would absolutely rail against being a test subject. If CSM were to get his hands on William, he’d inadvertently bring about the end of the world. Being out on his own, he can avoid detection and stay safe. So yeah, I’m pretty confident that humanity is safe.
Kaiju Ninja: I think he’s the weapon to stop the incoming alien threat. A superhuman born with alien DNA to stop the aliens. And I’m sure the government wants to use his DNA to create “super soldiers” to help fight-off the alien invasion.
Soledad: William is the ultimate hybrid because he exhibited telekinetic powers beyond what Molly and Kyd showed us in last season’s “Founder’s Mutation.” His healing powers reminded me of super soldiers, so I think he was a combination of the two. Although he claimed to have a happy childhood, he became a troubled teenager, with impulsive and antisocial tendencies. Maybe these psychological traits come from CSM, but I think he might be easily corrupted by not having the right guidance. I think he’s out of control and could harm innocent people around him by mistake or out of bottled up anger. He could grow up to be a resentful, angry adult and use his power for the wrong reasons and be virtually unstoppable, even become a new archenemy for future generations.
Trycee: We knew that William had the capacity for good or evil. I think it depends on whether or not people will continue to come after him. Did the Syndicate all die? Is CGB dead? If William is left in peace, he will just live his life, I think, which is what he wants.
Anaka: I’ve been debating this. William is clearly kind of insane, let’s be honest. But he knows how dangerous he is and how much of a burden he is on the world. I feel like he’s going to go into hiding and no one will ever see him again, to be honest. He doesn’t want to be poked and prodded, and I think he doesn’t want any innocent person to get hurt because of him.
5. Scully is pregnant, and Mulder is the father! What are your thoughts on that? Is that too convenient for the plot or is it a satisfying and believable direction to head in? Why do you feel that way?
Vicky: I absolutely adored the pregnancy announcement. Loved, loved, loved it. I’m so happy that Scully and Mulder get to go through a pregnancy together and experience everything that goes with it. I cried so much when she held his hand to her stomach. I’m getting emotional again now just thinking about that scene. I just feel that the two of them needed a happy ending and while it may not have been completely happy, knowing that the last time I see my favourite characters on screen, they’re in each other’s arms and pleased about a new baby, well, it takes me to my happy place.
Kaiju Ninja: I personally wish William was their son the whole time and none of this Smoking Man stuff with Scully happened. And if Gillian is leaving and David stays…that’s going to be very odd next season. I don’t know. I like that they’re having a true child but I think this is something that should’ve happened in the first place and all this William stuff shouldn’t have.
Soledad: At first, I thought it wasn’t necessary because they already had a son and the focus was to find William. But when I realized he never was meant be their child in the first place, and after seeing Mulder’s most inner desire to be a father turned to ashes, I thought the pregnancy was needed to give M&S a second chance in life as parents and to truly invest in their relationship, since their crusade was their only focus for so long.
Trycee: It took 3 times for me to watch and realize that CGB really was William’s father. Maybe I was just blocking that part out of my mind. And Scully realizing that her son, really was just an experiment had to hurt. The ultimate insult that CGB could give to Mulder was to experiment and impregnate the love of his life, and then make him think for seventeen years that he was the father of his own brother. That was beyond cruel but not beyond CGB. I am happy they will have a child of their own. They deserve to be happy.
Anaka: I’m super happy that all the theories and rumors were true. Mulder and Scully deserve to have a child and live together as a family. It was the best surprise ending we could’ve gotten, to be honest! I’m hoping they get to live long happy lives together with their child.
6. If the show is renewed for a twelfth season and Gillian Anderson truly isn’t part of that, where do you see the show going next? Should it continue without her? Would it work without the Scully/Mulder dynamic?
Vicky: I don’t want the show to come back without Gillian. I don’t. It didn’t work without David in seasons 8 and 9, not for me anyway. So no, if both of him aren’t involved, I don’t want it. The X-Files is all about Mulder and Scully and to be honest, what would they do? They’re clearly out of the Bureau, they’ve got a baby. How can they go investigating paranormal phenomena with a baby in tow? No. I’m happy with how it’s ended and as much as it kills me to say it, it should be left where it is. However, in saying that, I wouldn’t mind a final movie just to round off all the storylines and have it end with baby Mulder being born.
Kaiju Ninja: As much as I love seeing David and Gillian being on-screen together, I just can’t see them being split again and having replacement partners. If Mulder and Scully’s story ends, then that should be the way to end it…have them become a real family and leave the X-Files, behind. Let someone else take over the X-Files and go against the alien threat. Instead of seeing Mulder or Sully dying I’d rather see them just live happily as a family and have the next generation of X-Files agents take over and continue the fight.
Soledad: I think the last scene was meant like the end of M&S’ journey, leaving room for another one to begin. If the show truly continues, it should be with different characters and a whole new mytharc. Maybe William will become a new nemesis for the next generation. Or maybe in the future, we will see M&S’ true son/daughter confront him to stop from wiping out humanity. Would that work for the audience? That’s the true question since so many fans have come to love this show for the Mulder/Scully romance and watching something outside this plot would be almost inconceivable. We’ll see what happens.
Trycee: No X-Files without Gillian. No.
Anaka: I don’t even think the show could continue without Gillian. I mean how could you just have a show with Mulder? Especially when Mulder and Scully are most likely living together with a child. It just wouldn’t make sense. And they can’t get new agents/characters because let’s be honest, nobody would want to watch that.
7. From the apparent death of the Cigarette Smoking Man to the deaths of the last two known former members of the Syndicate, “My Struggle IV” tied up numerous loose ends in the mytharc yet also left multiple subplots unresolved. If this is the end of the series for real this time, are you satisfied with how it ended? Not satisfied? Why?
Vicky: I know a lot of fans aren’t happy with “My Struggle IV” and I understand why. I get it. But personally, I’m happy with it. I’m happy with how the storylines were closed off and how issues were resolved. No, it wasn’t perfect, but we had 45 minutes to find resolutions, so it was never going to be perfect. The previous three “My Struggle” episodes had been fast-paced from the start, so I didn’t expect anything different from this one. It was everything I wanted it to be. As I’ve said, ending the show with my favourites in each other’s arms is literally how I wanted it to end and that’s what I got, so I’m over the moon with it. But at the same time, I’m extremely sad that it’s all over. What am I meant to do with my life now?
Kaiju Ninja: Even though it would be odd to leave the show with this ending, I think you could end it on a crazy cliffhanger like this. While I was happy to see David and Gillian together again, and there were a couple of decent, very good episodes, there was more disappointment overall. If Scully and Mulder can become a family in a chaotic world then I’m happy with that. I feel their story has been told. Maybe it’s not ending the way we wanted/hoped, but I’m happy they’re still alive and can be a real family. I think Gillian, David, and the rest of the old cast are amazing and truly great people for coming back and putting in so much time and effort for the fans. I admire them.
Soledad: It was satisfying to finally see a more concrete closure for M&S’s arch, but I was waiting for a bit of development about the Syndicate plans, especially Erika Price’s faction. I think its true potential wasn’t completely explored and left a lot unanswered about the stage of the eugenics program being conducted at the time. Also, it wasn’t clear what happened to super soldiers, if they were replaced by this new race of hybrids or if the simulation program is still doing his work. Maybe the point was leaving those mysteries behind so they can be retaken by a new generation, where these hybrids and its technology could become a new menace to humanity in the future.
Trycee: Yes, if this is the end, yes, I’m satisfied.
Anaka: I am very satisfied with the way the series ended. I’m devastated that we’ll never know what happened to Skinner, and I’m sad that’d we’ll never see Mulder and Scully being parents, or what they named their child and such. But overall I’m very content with this ending. It basically wrapped up everything I cared about. But I am curious if the alien virus is still going to happen or not. I guess true to X-Files nature, we’ll never know.
Final Verdict: “My Struggle IV” closes out the season (and possibly the series) in an emotionally satisfying way but leaves large portions of the mytharc open-ended and unresolved
“My Struggle IV” doesn’t waste any time jumping right into the action. The entire episode has a fast-paced, frantic feel to it that really helps to work in its favor. While the season premiere was bogged down with a lot of exposition to get viewers up to speed and consolidate the show’s mythology, the season finale moves along without that burden. The story is simple and executed quite well: find William before the Cigarette Smoking Man and Erika Price (Barbara Hershey) do. Everyone has a role to play even if those roles end up being quite brief for some of the characters. Skinner’s fate remains ambiguous but if he is truly dead, then he went down defending what he believed to be right.
Sadly, Mulder and Scully are led to believe that William is dead but to help balance that out is the revelation that Scully is pregnant, and Mulder is the father. After years of being unable to conceive a child and being the subject of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s disturbing experiments, Scully will finally have a child of her own. Between that reveal and the apparent renewed vow to each other in last week’s episode, the characters are left in a bittersweet place. They might believe William is dead but they can finally let go and have a fresh start together.
With news of Gillian Anderson leaving the show, “My Struggle IV” presumably concludes Dana Scully’s involvement as part The X-Files. To further complicate matters, the show’s fate is up in the air as FOX has yet to renew it and Chris Carter doesn’t want to continue the show without Anderson. That potentially makes “My Struggle IV” not just the season finale but also the series finale.
Several elements of the mytharc are left up in the air or barely mentioned. The Cigarette Smoking Man’s alien contagion is briefly mentioned at a few points but very little is actually done with it in the episode itself. William’s role in that grand plan is also left up in the air. With so many questions left unanswered, fans of the show’s mythology might find the ending emotionally satisfying but otherwise extremely lacking. The episode also has to tie so many elements together that it gives the whole production a rather rushed feel.
Another season of The X-Files has come and gone and this time, Mulder and Scully appear to have finally gotten a bittersweet ending together. They aren’t in danger or on the run. There are many unanswered questions related to the mytharc and major characters were killed off, but if this is the end of The X-Files, “My Struggle IV” provides some resolution to the storyline and its characters. At the same time, it also leaves enough open-endedness to continue the series if FOX and Chris Carter want to do so.