Retconning the Retcon: The X-Files S11x1 “My Struggle III” Review

January 13, 2018 at 10:42 PM | Posted in TV | 2 Comments
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of The X-Files season 11. Read at your own risk!

Every X-Files fan who had seen the cliffhanger at the end of The X-Files season 10 (a.k.a event series) hoped and wished that there would be another season of the show to resolve that abrupt ending. That wish was granted when Fox announced in mid-2017 that there would be an 11th season of the show.

As a long-time fan of The X-Files, I was just as excited and anxious to see another season as the rest of the X-Philes around the world. I think that there were still more stories to tell, particularly when it comes to Mulder and Scully and their son William. It took me a long while to write this review of the season 11 premiere of the show which aired last January 4, but here it is finally.

After the disappointing “My Struggle I” and “My Struggle II” episodes of The X-Files season 10 back in 2016, I had low expectations for the continuation of that story arc. I didn’t expect season 11’s “My Struggle III” to come out any better.

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One of the major disappointments in “My Struggle I” was the fact that series creator Chris Carter decided to ignore the mytharc stories from the show’s original run and put a new twist on it. In “My Struggle I,” the stories about a government cover-up on alien abductions and colonization prominently figured in the show’s original run turned out to be made up by the shadowy government. There were no warring alien factions at all but instead, the government only reverse engineered alien technology obtained from the UFO crash at Roswell and were using it for their own selfish agenda.

In earlier seasons of The X-Files, there were two alien races locked in battle. One race was in league with humans, specifically the Syndicate, with the intent of creating human hybrids and colonizing the Earth while the other race – the faceless aliens – wanted pure colonization. But Carter chose to ignore that established story and retconned everything in “My Struggle I” to add more twist to the already convoluted mytharc story.

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the “My Struggle III” season premiere episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, Jan. 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Robert Falconer/FOX

I watched the season 11 premiere episode titled “My Struggle III” with very low expectations and true enough, I was disappointed yet again. The episode retconned what happened in “My Struggle II.” To recap, “My Struggle II” was about an outbreak of the Spartan virus contracted by humans through anthrax vaccination done by the US government years ago. It was perpetrated by the Cigarette Smoking Man. The episode ended with Scully and Agent Miller looking up the sky while a UFO hovered above them and Mulder was dying inside a car.

In “My Struggle III,” the Spartan virus outbreak never happened – at least not yet. It was all part of Scully’s vision of the future, which she received when she had a seizure while at the X-Files basement office. That seizure was supposedly triggered by William – Mulder and Scully’s son who remained hidden from them and those who wished to harm him. Apparently, William was sending her a message about what’s to happen in the future.

I wasn’t really surprised by this revelation. There were theories scattered all over Twitter before season 11 aired that what happened in “My Struggle II” could  just be all in Scully’s head. And that theory just became real. This theory is a common trope seen on TV and has been used by other shows for years. It’s lazy writing in my opinion in an attempt to rewrite previous episodes with bad writing. And I found it ridiculous that Scully could send a Morse code through her brain while unconscious in a hospital and that Skinner easily cracked it.

One of the things I also dislike in the season 11 premiere episode was Mulder’s excessive voiceover narration. While there were voiceover narrations before in earlier seasons of the show, the current one didn’t feel right. Something about it felt off and misplaced. It was jarring to hear Mulder’s voiceover while he’s driving a car and chasing a bad guy. His tone of voice was melodramatic even during the car chase.

Speaking of voice, what was wrong with Gillian Anderson’s voice in the episode? Her voice sounded husky and unlike Scully. She had the same husky voice as in the season 10 premiere episode. She never sounded like that in earlier seasons. I remember she also used the same husky voice when she played Bedelia du Maurier in Hannibal. I just found that voice distracting that sometimes I could barely hear her.

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But I think the biggest ‘what-the-fuck’ moment in the episode was CSM’s big revelation at the end. When Skinner asked him who William’s real father is, CSM replied that it was him. The episode then showed a flashback scene from season 7’s “En Ami” episode where CSM took Scully on a road trip to obtain a possible cure for cancer. In “En Ami,” Scully woke up to find herself in a bedroom after their road trip. She confronted CSM and accused him of drugging her, in which he denied.

During the original run of The X-Files, there were already theories about this scene where fans suspected that CSM might have done something to Scully while she was asleep. Some fans theorized that William could have been conceived this way. In the season 7 finale “Requiem,” Scully revealed to Skinner that she was pregnant. But the show always hinted in later seasons that it’s Mulder’s son.

Of course, the implication that CSM could have impregnated her with alien DNA mixed with his biological contribution was revolting. I couldn’t believe it myself. I had to rewatch “En Ami” and “Requiem” to look for any indication that this could’ve happened. But I don’t believe it. CSM is known to be a manipulative liar and he could just be lying to Skinner about William’s parentage. After all, the slogan at the opening credits of “My Struggle III” was “I want to lie.”

Carter cleared this controversial reveal in an interview and said that CSM was only a figurative father, not William’s actual father. I think Carter wrote the episode this way for the shock value more than anything else. But it didn’t stop the backlash from angry fans for sure.

I could only hope that the season 11 finale would tie up the loose ends in this mytharc story. And if there will be no more of The X-Files after season 11, I hope the show ends with a bang.


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  1. […] ago called Project Crossroads. Apparently, Scully unwittingly became part of that project when CSM injected her with alien DNA in season 7 which got her pregnant with William. This directly connects to the running myth arc in the series. […]

  2. […] still a father figure nonetheless. I was expecting this to be a lie. After all, the tagline for “My Struggle III” was “I want to lie.” So who does this pertain to now? And the idea that CSM actually […]

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