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

January 13, 2018 at 10:42 PM | Posted in TV | 1 Comment
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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.

Random Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

December 29, 2017 at 10:24 PM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This post contains major spoilers from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Read at your own risk!

Much has been said and done about Star Wars: The Last Jedi (a.k.a Episode VIII) in recent weeks and I for one, enjoyed the movie very much and didn’t hate it unlike some rabid fans.

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson has reset the button and made everything new. The movie felt fresh and so… today. There were so many fan theories that came out long before The Last Jedi came out and some people were expecting them to come true. And when their theories didn’t materialize in the movie, they got disappointed and have gone crazy with those various online petitions.

I don’t read fan theories of Star Wars because I know most of them are just speculations and possibly won’t even become real. There’s a possibility that I would just set myself for a major disappointment if I invest too much on these theories and expectations. That’s why I didn’t get angry when I first watched The Last Jedi because I saw it with a fresh mind – untainted from those theories that were widespread online.

Was I disappointed that Luke Skywalker died? Or that Rey wasn’t trained enough by Luke when she was in Ahch-To? Of course I was. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the movie. I can understand that Johnson might have deliberately went against the high expectations from fans and did something of the opposite. People expected an epic fight between a real Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren. They expected something similar to The Empire Strikes Back where a young Luke was trained by Yoda. They expected an older Luke of the present to fight with the Resistance along with Rey, Poe Dameron and Finn.

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Instead, they saw a jaded Luke Skywalker who practically became a hermit and refused to help the Resistance fight the First Order. But like what Kylo Ren said in the movie, it’s time to kill the past and start over. I think that’s what Johnson was trying to do. I think he wanted something new out of the franchise – something that would appeal to the generation of today. And yes, that would include a few jokes thrown in (because duh… Marvel movies). At least that’s what my interpretation of his intention.

One of the things I loved about the movie was General Leia’s scenes. Granted that she and the ship’s crew got blown up by the First Order, she still survived and managed to steer the remaining Resistance fighters to a safe haven. It was a delight to see Leia use the Force to propel her injured self towards the destroyed ship. That was the first time I ever saw her use the Force. In the original Star Wars films, it was always the other Jedi who use the Force.

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Some fans are angry that Admiral Ackbar was killed off in that scene with Leia. Honestly I couldn’t care less about Ackbar. Others are mad that Luke gave up on being a Jedi. I may be disappointed that Luke became a curmudgeon but I can see that it could happen, especially after Ben Solo turned into Kylo Ren. It was too much for Luke. He became dejected. He’s a hero with a flaw.

Of course I still have questions about the movie that weren’t answered in The Last Jedi (e.g. what was the backstory of Supreme Leader Snoke? Who were really Rey’s parents? Who will train Rey now that Luke is dead?). But I can only hope that they would be answered when Episode IX rolls out in 2019.

A Stroke of Genius: ‘Loving Vincent’ Film Review

November 6, 2017 at 9:38 AM | Posted in Art, Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
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To create a hand-painted, animated feature film using the style of Vincent van Gogh would seem an impossible task but Loving Vincent successfully did just that. The film Loving Vincent sets itself apart from any animated movie by being the world’s first fully painted feature film.

When I first saw the trailer of this film, I was immediately blown away. The fact that this movie is fully made from 66,960 oil paintings hand-painted by artists from across the globe is a feat in itself. While I don’t know much about Vincent van Gogh or all of his work, I’ve always loved his “Starry Night” painting. I’m also a fan of Impressionist/post-Impressionist art so this added to my curiosity of watching the film.

Loving Vincent is set a year after van Gogh’s death in 1890 and tells the story of a postman named Armand Roulin tasked to deliver a final letter from van Gogh to the painter’s brother Theo. What would be Armand’s simple journey to Auverse-sur-Oise in France ends up being a retelling of the last days of van Gogh. While in Auverse-sur-Oise, Armand gets curious and decides to investigate the death of van Gogh.

What is amazing about this film is the fact that they used some of van Gogh’s famous works as part of the story such as “The Night Café,” “Café Terrace at Night,” and of course “Starry Night.” The characters are also based from van Gogh’s paintings like the portraits of Armand and Joseph Roulin, Adeline Ravoux, Dr. Gachet, “Girl in White,” and “Marguerite Gachet at the Piano.”

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While the ending isn’t fulfilling and feels anti-climactic, the movie presents a somber and melancholic tone that captures the painter’s struggles with mental illness. But this also comes in contrast to the vivid colors of the paintings which the painter is known for. The flashback scenes are done in black and white sketches and in some scenes look almost like a film noir. The end credit is scored aptly with the classic Don McLean song, “Vincent.”

Loving Vincent is a visually stunning film worth watching, especially if you love art.

My Memorable Trip to Singapore

September 24, 2017 at 12:56 AM | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment

I just got back from Singapore on a business trip and had such a wonderful time. I’ve never been to Singapore so I was really excited to go there. Granted that my stay there was only for three days, I had hoped to squeeze some personal time to do some sightseeing. And fortunately, I was able to do so.

Singapore at night

It was a good thing that the hotel I’m staying at was very near the Marina Bay, which is one of the major tourist attractions in Singapore. I only had to walk about 15 minutes to reach the place. It was night time when I first went to Marina Bay. I came back to the hotel after work then headed out to explore the area. Too bad I wasn’t able to ride the river cruise or watch the fountain show because I went there a bit late already. But I still had a fantastic time. Never would I have imagined that I would see the Marina Bay Sands for real, and I’m just awed when I saw it.

Marina Bay Sands

I also had the opportunity to visit the famous Orchard Road. But I wasn’t impressed by it and was actually disappointed when I got there. There was nothing much to see there except rows and rows of high-end malls selling branded items. Unless you are keen to shop for expensive things and have the money to splurge, Orchard Road is not worth seeing. For me, going there was just a waste of my time. I did not stay long there.

As a traveler, I’m more interested to see the local culture of the place instead of shopping at modern malls. I’d rather go to museums, cultural spots, art galleries and flea markets than go to the mall. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to the museums in Singapore as I was pressed for time. I was really keen on visiting the ArtScience Museum within Marina Bay but there was just not enough time.

Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

Anyway, I decided to go back to Marina Bay after I went to Orchard Road. My work colleagues in Singapore recommended that I visit Gardens by the Bay, which is just within Marina Bay. Of course, I couldn’t leave Singapore without trying the hawker food stalls there. So I went to Satay by the Bay and enjoyed a local meal there before heading to Gardens by the Bay, which was just a few strolls away.

I had such a fantastic time exploring Gardens by the Bay. The place is really huge and filled with greeneries. I loved it there and would have gone exploring the entire garden but I was in a rush that day because I had to catch my plane back to Manila.

ArtScience Museum in Singapore

Eye of Singapore

Despite of my short stay, I still had a great time visiting Singapore. Here’s hoping that I’ll be back there eventually.

“It’s Just a TV Show,” So They Say

September 10, 2017 at 1:45 AM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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How many of us are glued to the TV screen or computer every week watching our favorite shows and be completely engrossed by the story we are watching? Have you ever shed tears while watching a show or curse and yell at the characters you see onscreen? For some people, TV shows are just a form of entertainment – a past time that they do after a stressful day at work or grueling hours in school. They don’t dwell too much on the story or get invested in the characters of the shows they’re watching.

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But for others, TV shows are more than that. Watching a show can be a life-changing experience for them. While it can be a form of escape for others, for some it can be very influential that it affects their decisions in life. For me, watching my favorite shows is inspiring. It sparks my creativity. It inspires me to be a better writer. That’s why I get annoyed when I read comments online that they find it funny that some fans of a show are so emotionally invested in the story and the characters. They usually say, “It’s just a TV show. You realize they are just fictional characters?”

Well let me tell you that it’s more than just a TV show. I’ve read enough articles, cast interviews and fan comments to know that these shows have had great influence on fans that they became a better person. Some even have launched successful careers based on the fictional characters they’ve watched and loved.

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One fine example of this is The Scully Effect phenomenon. The Scully Effect is attributed to fictional character Dana Scully, a forensic pathologist and an FBI agent from the hit series The X-Files, which I also happen to love. The phenomenon saw female fans of the show pursuing a career in medicine, science or law enforcement after watching Scully on the show.

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While I didn’t pursue a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career, the show still influenced me in the way I view women in society. I look up to Scully and see her as a role model for women. She is strong, smart, independent, can hold on her own and is not afraid to speak her mind. After watching The X-Files for years, I now look for shows with a strong female character in it. I get disinterested with shows or movies with underdeveloped, two-dimensional female characters. I especially get annoyed with shows or movies that have damsel-in-distress or objectified characters in them.

Another example of how life-changing a show can be is the fandom of Orphan Black, collectively known as Clone Club. As a fan myself, I’ve heard so many stories from fellow fans of how much the show mean to them, especially for the LGBT community. Many fans have said the show inspired them to embrace their sexuality and come out. To those who haven’t seen the show, Orphan Black has themes on female empowerment, diversity and inclusivity. Tatiana Maslany, who plays the lead character on the show about clones, also plays other characters, which includes Cosima – a young bisexual student – and a transgender named Tony.

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I’m sure there are other shows out there that have a profound effect on fans. That’s why it’s wrong to assume that TV shows are just a form of entertainment that should be taken lightly. There are many good shows out there that inspire people or spark meaningful dialogues about society, politics, religion, science and many more. And I know there are shows that hire consultants to make the story believable or scientifically accurate. Shows can question or challenge your belief on anything, or it can validate whatever you believe in. That’s how significant they are.

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