Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Struggle II

Oh, X-Files. You could perhaps be forgiven for a lackluster premiere, because everyone was just so damn happy to have you back again. But there's no overlooking how unapologetically terrible last night's finale was.

"My Struggle II" was so stuffed with nonsense that it made the premiere's writing look like a masterpiece. Indeed, if it had only been as convoluted, as filled with characters leaping to conclusions without reason or information, as filled with seemingly bad improvisers pulling their next line of dialogue at random from a punch bowl, it would still have been worse for one key reason: it transferred all that behavior to Scully.

In a complete compromise of everything the character of Scully has ever stood for, she jumped off the deep end even more than Mulder, almost even more than the unhinged Glenn Beck parody played by Joel McHale. You just came across someone with a medical problem? In a hospital?! Clearly it's the work of a conspiracy involving alien DNA! The whole thing felt like a two-hour episode from which one hour of vital material had been unceremoniously cut. Why develop a plot when your characters can simply tell it to you?

Again, the worst excesses of the worst "mythology" episodes of The X-Files were on display, as the episode simply moved without any idea of where it was moving to. And this time, the writers literally don't know what's going to happen next, because they chose to end on a cliffhanger, despite having no assurances that they'll ever be able to pick up the story! I'd heard that series creator Chris Carter settled for only six episodes in this limited run because of a narrow window of availability by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. But this ending felt like he was flipping a big middle finger to FOX television for not giving him more episodes.

It was certainly a middle finger to all fans of The X-Files. And not just because of the cliffhanger, but even more so because the episode denied us of the simple pleasure of seeing Mulder and Scully together as a team. (One last time?) What sort of idiocy led to the decision to keep the two main characters completely apart from one another for all but the last minute of the last episode?

This six-episode revival thus winds up being like a delicious sandwich served on moldy bread. We got one wonderful installment out of it, and a couple of decent others... but it was all bookended by two awful, nonsensical episodes that arguably ruined the entire thing. I don't know what else to grade "My Struggle II" but an F, because I can't point to a single saving grace about it. If this is the last of The X-Files, what a sour note to end on. And if it isn't the last of The X-Files, I can't say it's made me look forward to more.

No comments: