All for Nothing: The X-Files S11x10 “My Struggle IV” Review

March 25, 2018 at 11:22 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!


At this point, the “My Struggle” story arc in The X-Files revival is already beyond saving. Series creator Chris Carter has made a major mess out of his own mytharc in seasons 10 and 11. His stubbornness to write this revival mytharc himself has caused the franchise a lot – series low ratings, a mired reputation and a lot of angry X-Philes.

The season 11 finale of The X-Files titled “My Struggle IV” was supposed to wrap up the William storyline and tie the loose ends that the show introduced since “My Struggle I.” But instead, we got a feeble attempt to explain away the story. The episode was so problematic that to say it was a big disappointment would even be an understatement.

Before the finale aired, I already set myself for a major disappointment. That’s why I wasn’t even surprised when I first watched it. But there are several plot points I want to highlight, and what I think made the finale such an epic fail.

  1. The New Syndicate

What was the point of introducing Erica Price and Mr. Y as part of The Syndicate only to kill them off so quickly? These two seemed to be part of the top brass but we hardly knew them. And considering the power they held, you would think they would have a pretty tight security at their Purlieu Services facility. But how come Mulder easily got pass the guards and kill Mr. Y? Was it that easy to defeat the Syndicate now?

  1. Mulder Against the Syndicate

Mulder suddenly became a one-man killing machine? I just find it unbelievable that Mulder could easily fought off the guards at Purlieu Services all by himself and got away unscathed, even after killing Mr. Y.

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  1. The Pandemic

Tad O’ Malley, the conspiracy theory nut we first saw in season 10 was back in the finale. Only this time, the pandemic has yet to happen. This is where this plot got confusing. I presumed the scene where Scully warned Tad about the pandemic happened before “My Struggle II” but I could be wrong. But the main question here is what would happen when the Spartan virus strikes in the future?

“My Struggle II” ended with Scully saying that they need William’s DNA to save people from the virus. Through her visions, Scully knew in the season 11 finale that William is still alive after the Cigarette Smoking Man shot him. But how would they find William when Mulder was already dying in that scene and Scully’s supposed to be pregnant with her second miracle baby? This could also mean that CSM survived the multiple gunshots he took from Mulder. If that’s the case, how would they explain CSM’s burnt face? His face was burnt from the missile blast in season 9, and in “My Struggle II,” CSM’s face still showed signs of that burn and he wore a mask to hide it. But in “My Struggle IV,” his face looked completely healed.

If the show gets renewed for season 12 (which I highly doubt), how would they go about that story, especially without Gillian Anderson on board? The season 11 finale left that hanging.

  1. Monica Reyes and Skinner’s Deaths

Monica Reyes might have connived with CSM, but it’s clear from the finale that she was also working against him to help Mulder and Scully. After all the build-up on Monica’s apparent betrayal, we were left with an underwhelming scene of her attempt at redemption. She was fatally shot on the head while in the car with CSM – by Skinner no less. I would have preferred her death to be justified with a grand gesture of redeeming herself, not the way it played out in the finale.

Skinner’s death was also underwhelming. A proper face off with CSM would have been better than him getting run over by a car. Skinner and Monica deserved better than that.

  1. The Elephant in the Room

Chris Carter seemed to have forgotten about the supersoldiers infiltrating the FBI in season 9. The show’s revival series never addressed this important plot. Instead, we had FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh back to hating Mulder and Scully after he mellowed down enough in season 9 to help them escape in the season 9 finale. Why the sudden change of heart? And what happened to the supersoldiers?

As a side note, Kersh also wanted to shut down the X-Files division. This was not a shocker since it’s not the first time the basement office had been shut down. But since the X-Files have been digitized by Purlieu Services, who would be handling them now that Erica and Mr. Y are dead?

THE X-FILES: Guest star Miles Robbins in the “My Struggle IV” season finale episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, March 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX

  1. William

Honestly, I never liked William. He’s a terrible kid. He had two girlfriends and has been living the life of a juvenile delinquent. Just because he has supernatural powers he couldn’t understand it doesn’t mean he has an excuse to behave badly. Why did he have to scare the truck driver when he needed him in the first place to get to Norfolk, Virginia? He should have known better that displaying his powers in public would tip off the Syndicate who was after him.

Also, he kept pushing away Mulder and Scully and insisted they couldn’t help him but he wanted his other girlfriend to run away with him? How could his girlfriend help him at all when she’s not even in that position to protect him from the Syndicate?

  1. Cigarette Smoking Man’s Death

I don’t buy CSM’s death for a second. First of all, Mulder shot him multiple times on the chest. For all we know, CSM might have been wearing a bulletproof vest so shooting him on the chest would be useless. It would have been more effective if Mulder shot him on the head to make sure he’s really killed. Besides, CSM unbelievably survived a missile blast in season 9 so it’s highly plausible that he would survive the gunshot wounds.

To be honest, I would actually prefer CSM to stay dead after season 9 ended. He could have just appeared in seasons 10 and 11 in flashback scenes. I would have liked to see a new set of villains introduced in the show instead of resurrecting old ones.

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  1. Skinner’s Revelation to Scully

Practically everyone was expecting to see Skinner tell Scully about William’s real father. But we were robbed of that. Instead the big reveal happened off camera so we didn’t see how Scully reacted on that. I would have liked to see how Scully would take the news.

This also goes to show that CSM was really William’s father – not in the biological sense but still a father figure nonetheless. I was expecting this to be a lie. After all, the tagline of “My Struggle III” was “I want to lie.” So who does this pertain to now?

And the fact that CSM injected her with alien DNA without her knowledge in the “En Ami” episode which resulted in her pregnancy still doesn’t sit well with me.

  1. Scully’s Revelation to Mulder

I’ve read theories online prior to the finale that Scully might be pregnant. This stemmed from the last scene in “Nothing Lasts Forever” episode where Scully whispered something to Mulder. In that scene, Scully said that what she whispered was her leap of faith forward and she wanted to do that together with Mulder.

It was also hinted in the “Plus One” episode where Mulder and Scully stayed at St. Rachel’s Motel while they were solving the doppelganger case. For Catholics, St. Rachel is the patron saint of childless wives. She was the sterile wife of Jacob but gave birth to two sons in her late years.

The pregnancy theory was an unpopular opinion but when I thought about it, I really think it’s possible that Scully could get pregnant. And true enough, in the finale, Scully revealed to Mulder that she’s pregnant and he is the father.

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I know some fans find this ridiculous considering that Scully is 54 and barren. But people are looking at this the wrong way. It has never been a normal pregnancy for Scully even when she was pregnant with William. She was previously abducted and experimented on by the Syndicate. Thus, her reproductive system must have been altered to make this second pregnancy possible.

What I don’t like in this scene was the badly written dialogue. Scully seemed to have dismissed William easily after he was shot by CSM and fell into the water. But what I think she meant when she said that William was only a lab experiment and that she was not a mother to him was that she was trying to explain to Mulder what Skinner told her in the car. She was still reeling from the news that Skinner told her and barely had time to process it.

She was trying to explain to Mulder that she was not a mother to William in the truest sense because she gave him up for adoption. She gave birth to him but she wasn’t able to nurture him. The words just came out wrong. Blame it on how Chris Carter wrote this.

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You could see from the expression on Scully’s face in the end that she was still struggling to accept that fact. What Skinner told her was a lot to process. She was also struggling to let go of William as he asked them to. And she knew deep in her heart that William is alive because she saw visions of the scene in the dock before it happened. This was after she’s done talking with Tad about the pandemic. But I would have preferred that she insisted on finding him still even though he doesn’t want them to.

I know the feedback from fans about the season finale is divisive. And I agree with most fans that the finale was a disaster. The mytharc has been ruined forever by the show’s creator. I may be an MSR shipper and while I’m happy that Mulder and Scully will have their own baby and be together, I don’t watch the show solely to ship them. The mytharc stories still matter to me.

When I look back at the early seasons of The X-Files, there have been many great mytharc episodes written by Chris Carter. I first got hooked on the show after watching “Duane Barry” – a mytharc episode written and directed by Carter himself. He also wrote some of my favorite episodes of the show – “The Erlenmeyer Flask,” “Paper Clip” and “Anasazi.” What happened to him now? He has lost his touch on the mytharc.

The mytharc could have been saved if Carter just handed over the reins to the show’s veteran writers like Glen Morgan and James Wong. Both writers have a track record of writing compelling mytharc episodes. And if Frank Spotnitz was available for season 11, I would have liked for him to have written some of the episodes. But Carter is very possessive of his creation and doesn’t seem to want to let the other writers handle the mytharc in the revival.

The X-Files_11x10

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Only time will tell if Fox decides to renew the show for season 12 even without Gillian on board. But if that happens, I won’t be watching it anymore. For me, the show has always been about Mulder and Scully and no one else. It’s a shame that Gillian’s last appearance on the show was tainted with this bad season finale. Season 11 should have ended with a bang and possibly on a positive note.  Now it just left most fans with a bad taste in their mouth.

If The X-Files continues to do season 12, it would further ruin the franchise because we all know Carter would want to write the mytharc episodes himself again. I think if there’s any slight chance to save this revival, it would be for the show to make a third and final movie. But Chris Carter has to step away from it and let the show’s veteran writers write the script.


Age is Just a Number: The X-Files S11x9 “Nothing Lasts Forever” Review

March 16, 2018 at 9:46 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of The X-Files season 11. Read at your own risk!


We’ve all seen it one way or another. An aging actress takes matter into her own hands and subjects herself to surgical procedures just to look younger.

This is the premise of episode 9 of The X-Files season 11 titled “Nothing Lasts Forever.” It tells the story of a ‘60s movie and TV actress named Barbara Beaumont who wants to stay young and beautiful – at all costs.

In this X-File case of the week, Mulder and Scully investigate a murder in the hospital involving surgeons illegally harvesting human organs. Apparently, someone knows about the doctors’ illegal activity and they are ambushed during a procedure. Mulder thinks it’s an X-File but Scully thinks it’s just a regular case of organized crime.

It turns out that human organs are being stolen from the hospital by a cannibalistic cult led by Barbara and her scientist husband Dr. Luvenis.  The cult eats human organs that help them become beautiful and live forever. Barbara and her husband are actually both 85 years old but they look like they’re still in their 30s.

But who’s the vigilante who killed the doctor at the hospital? It’s a young devoted Catholic woman named Juliet whose sister Olivia is a member of the cult. Juliet is trying to save her sister and atoning for her sins by killing those who are involved in the illegal harvesting.

While investigating the case, Scully also reflects on her faith. She’s a practicing Catholic and spends most of her time in this episode inside a church. There’s a lot of whispering in these church scenes between Mulder and Scully that it gets so frustrating because I could barely hear what they’re saying.

Somehow I feel that Scully’s reflections in the church are rather out of place from the rest of the story. I don’t understand what Scully’s story about her brother has to do with the case. And the case itself is banal, despite the blood and gore in the episode. However, Fiona Vroom’s portrayal of Barbara is quite memorable that I don’t think I can ever listen to the song “The Morning After” without remembering that gross and gory scene.

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The only thing that resonates for me about the episode is the final scene between Scully and Mulder. This is the only part in the final church scene that I understand at least:

Mulder: Well, I may not believe in God but I believe in you. Therefore, I speak to him through you. Through the  transitive property of equality. If “A” equals “B,” and “B” equals “C,” therefore, “A” equals “C.” Reason and faith in harmony. Isn’t that why we’re so good together?

Scully: Are we together?  You know, I believed I could protect our son, and I failed. I believed that we could live together, and I fled. I gave up on that, too.

Mulder: If only you’d fled earlier. You know how many times I’ve envisioned that scenario, where you left that basement office before I even needed glasses? You’d have your health, your dog, your sister. You’d be Kersh’s boss at the FBI, and be married to some brain surgeon and have a bunch of kids that you wouldn’t have to give up.

Scully: Mulder, I don’t begrudge you any of those things. That’s not what I was talking about.

Mulder: Well, what are you talking about, Scully? Because I don’t know if any God is listening but I am standing right here, and I am listening. Right beside you. I’m all ears. That’s my choice.

And then the scene shows Scully leaning over to Mulder and whispering something in his ear. Viewers of the episode are not privy to what Scully whispered to Mulder. The internet was abuzz after the episode aired because the final scene could have explained the status of Mulder and Scully’s relationship. When Scully asks Mulder if they are together, Mulder doesn’t answer.

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Are they getting back together or will they stay apart? The scene is further fueled by what Scully says after the whisper:

“That’s not my four-year-old self looking for a miracle. That’s my leap of faith forward. And I’d like to do it together.”

To which Mulder answers:

“I’ve always wondered how this was going to end.”

Considering that this is the penultimate episode, I also wonder how the season will end.


Side Notes

  • So it was Scully who broke up with Mulder after all. I’m guessing she wanted to break away from the darkness and Mulder “chasing monsters in the dark” like what she said in the I Want to Believe That’s why she fled.
  • My guess on what Scully whispered to Mulder would be something like finding their son William and creating a cure for the Spartan virus to save humanity. To me, that would be Scully’s way of saying they should get back together. But there are theories circling on social media that what Scully whispered could be that she’s pregnant with Mulder’s child (they slept together in “Plus One” episode, remember?) and that she wants to keep the baby and raise it with him. This is also plausible in my opinion.
  • I miss the deadpan banter between Mulder and Scully. That’s why it’s so good to see that again in this episode in the scene where Scully asked Mulder about his “bifocals” (or “progressive lenses” as how Mulder puts it).
  • Mulder only noticing Scully’s new haircut after three episodes in with her sporting that hair was hilarious! By the way, I still prefer Scully’s long hair in earlier episodes. It looked natural on Gillian Anderson. The new short hair makes it look obvious that Gillian is wearing a wig.
  • Both Mulder and Scully used to wear glasses in earlier seasons of the show, although we only saw them on rare occasions. In fact, the pilot episode of The X-Files showed Mulder wearing glasses. So Mulder saying Scully leaving the basement office before he needed glasses was an oversight by the show.


Hell Hath No Fury: The X-Files S11x8 “Familiar” Review

March 11, 2018 at 7:26 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of The X-Files season 11. Read at your own risk!


The eighth episode of The X-Files season 11 titled “Familiar” feels like a “back to basics” sort of story as it deals with old supernatural horror, specifically witchcraft. The show has already dealt with this kind of story in its previous seasons. In fact, when I watched “Familiar,” I immediately thought of the show’s old episode “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” where it was also about a witch wreaking havoc in a small town.

“Familiar” treads on the same territory as we see Mulder and Scully investigate the killing of a young boy in a small town in Connecticut. A boy’s body is found in the woods with bite marks of an animal. Mulder suspects a hellhound is responsible for the killing. According to him, a hellhound is a wild dog that guards the gates of hell. Scully thinks it’s the child’s father who might be their suspect, and not a supernatural being.

Eventually though, Scully rules out the dead boy’s father and instead provides the town’s police chief with a profile of the suspect – an adult male with a possible previous criminal record. The dead boy’s father, who is also a cop later finds out about the profile of the suspect and sets out to find him. Mulder still thinks a supernatural being is at work.

What differentiates “Familiar” from “Die Hand Die Verletzt” is that it introduces a character that may possibly be the culprit. And it’s not a witch. It’s a character straight out of a children’s show – a cartoonish character named Mr. Chuckleteeth, who more or less look like a creepy clown. Mr. Chuckleteeth shows up in a scene shortly before someone is about to die.

Later, the cop dad finds the suspect and beat him to a pulp while an angry mob watches. The suspect claims he’s innocent of the boy’s killing but the cop dad and the crowd refuse to believe him. The suspect is shot dead by the cop dad.

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the “Familiar” episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, March 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX

We later find out that the police chief’s wife has put a curse on him using witchcraft after she finds out he’s having an affair with the cop dad’s wife. But the spell backfires as the hellhound or “familiar” she unleashes into the town kills a little boy and even her own daughter. The spell has also summoned fictional characters like Mr. Chuckleteeth to stalk children and lure them into the woods. The police chief’s wife tries to correct her mistakes by casting another spell but it’s already too late.

The episode shows how mass hysteria could cloud people’s judgement and wrongfully accuse those who are actually innocent. While I do agree with Mulder’s argument that suspects should be treated as innocent before being proven guilty, I don’t think it’s unfair to think that a convicted felon will not commit the same crime again.

This episode just doesn’t work for me as it feels like it’s all been done before, which the show already did. The story isn’t new and frankly, witchcraft is a tired trope and the episode doesn’t even scare me at all.


Tipping Point: The X-Files S11X7 “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” Review

March 5, 2018 at 10:20 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of The X-Files season 11. Read at your own risk!


It’s been a while since The X-Files had an episode centered on the dangers of modern technology. In the legacy seasons of the show, we had episodes like “Ghost in the Machine” and “Kill Switch” that tackled on artificial intelligence, virtual reality and how technology can inevitably be a menace to society.

While the show’s central themes may be about government conspiracies, alien abductions and paranormal investigations, it doesn’t shy away from doing tech-centric episodes such as the recent “Rm9sbG93ZXJz.”  The title of the seventh episode itself is a mouthful but it’s not something gibberish. “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” is actually a Base64 code which means “followers.”

This was the episode previously announced during the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January where the only cast would be Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny and no one else. It’s also the episode where the dialogue would be very minimal, at approximately 250 words.

It’s rather bold and risky for The X-Files to take on this kind of episode but it worked surprisingly well. “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” is sleek, fresh and satirical. It’s The X-Files like we’ve never seen before.

In the episode, Mulder and Scully go on a dinner date at a fancy, ultra-modern sushi restaurant where food is prepared by robots. They order food via a tablet and are served by machines. Mulder doesn’t like the food they served so he decides not to tip the machine. That’s when trouble starts.

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They are locked inside the restaurant but eventually managed to get out. They go home separately, with Scully ordering an Uber-like driverless car service while Mulder drives his GPS-enabled car. Thereafter, it seems that whatever they do and wherever they go, the smart machines are after them. With each of them at their homes, they are constantly being pestered by the smart machines.

Scully constantly gets notifications from her smartphone and smart gadgets to either rate their service, buy more products or friend them on social media. And when she refuses, the machines act up. Meanwhile, Mulder gets locked out of his online bank account, stalk by drones and eventually chase out of his home by mini-drones.

The two agents pair up eventually after Mulder visits Scully at her fancy smart home. The machine-stalking stops when Mulder is forced to tip the machine from the restaurant via his smartphone. The story ends with Mulder and Scully eating breakfast at a simple diner with people around them.

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This episode felt like it doesn’t want to be taken too seriously. For one, it doesn’t have much of a plot – just a premise of Mulder and Scully being hunted down by devious AI machines. Secondly, it felt like it exists in a different dimension because some of the scenarios in it just didn’t add up to what we know of the characters.

Case in point:

  1. There’s no way Mulder and Scully would spend much of their time together fiddling with their smartphones and not talking to each other. It’s not like them to be so immersed in their smartphones.
  2. Scully living in a smart home is so unlike her. The house looked cold, sterile and so different from the one she had in previous seasons. Granted, she might feel more secure with the security features of a smart home given that she was previously attacked in her home in the legacy seasons of the show but years of handling weird and sinister cases at the FBI would show that not even high-tech gadgets can keep you safe.
  3. As an FBI agent, Scully is trained to be on guard at all times about any suspicious activity. A drone sending her a Roomba with no indication of where it came from is suspicious enough and the normal Scully would never have opened the box much less use the Roomba in her home.
  4. Mulder not having been in Scully’s house is unbelievable.

In itself, it’s still a good and refreshing episode because it went on a bold direction that fans have never seen before. And it’s also worth noting that the episode was written by two women, Kristen Cloke-Morgan and Shannon Hamblin – a rarity in the show. This episode served an important lesson to us in this day and age of smart gadgets: that human touch and verbal communication are still better than having smart machines.

Monster from the Past: The X-Files S11x6 “Kitten” Review

February 9, 2018 at 6:51 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!


This has to be the weakest episode of The X-Files season 11 apart from “My Struggle III.” I was actually bored while watching “Kitten.” The episode delves into the past of FBI assistant director Walter Skinner, specifically his time in the Vietnam War as a teen and how that life-changing event affected him years later.

While “Kitten” is a Skinner-centric episode, it still manages to put Mulder and Scully right in the heart of the story. Also, FBI deputy director Alvin Kersh is back and still has misgivings about Mulder and Scully being back at the bureau. The last time we saw Kersh, he helped the duo escape in season 9.

In the episode, Mulder and Scully are summoned by Kersh who tells them to find Skinner. Apparently, Skinner has gone AWOL. Mulder and Scully’s investigation lead them to a small town in Kentucky called Mud Lick. That’s where they found Skinner who is trying to make things right with his old platoon-mate named John “Kitten” James.

There’s no actual monster or supernatural being in this stand-alone episode. The monster that’s been constantly referred to here is just hallucination. Skinner’s time in the Vietnam War exposed him and his friend John to a weaponized gas from a secret military project called MK Naomi. The gas makes a person hallucinate and see “monsters.” However, the gas didn’t seem to affect a young Skinner that time as his exposure was minimal. It’s his friend John who has had a lot of exposure to the gas. A military cover-up led John to be institutionalized years later and Skinner has been racked with guilt since then that he couldn’t help his friend.

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However, instead of finding John in Kentucky, Skinner meets his friend’s son Davey who lives in a nearby forest. Davey turns out to be the “monster” who wants to avenge his father’s sad fate. He dons a cattle skull mask and kills Vietnam veterans around town by luring them into traps.

Davey’s claims of the government using crops to infect the population with the gas is a trope that’s already been done before in the show. It’s not surprising anymore. Remember the infected bees from previous seasons? And honestly, the pacing of the episode is dragging. Even Skinner’s monologue at the end feels like it doesn’t hold much weight.

“Kitten” is underwhelming and anti-climactic. There is no thrill, no sense of danger. The atmosphere of the episode lacks dread or fear. Davey doesn’t even look and sound threatening. The episode just kind of goes by that it feels like a filler more than anything else.

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Open Holes:

  1. If Davey wanted to avenge his father’s misfortune, then why did he hang him to the tree? Was he dead before Davey hang him to the tree?
  2. If Kersh wasn’t happy with Mulder and Scully being back at the bureau, then why didn’t he protest in the first place? Why didn’t he try to prevent it? This was my problem with the season 9 finale when Kersh helped them escape from the corrupted bureau. It just didn’t make sense. Correct me if I’m wrong but as far as I can remember, he was hell-bent on destroying Mulder and Scully in season 9. But towards the series finale, he suddenly helped them escape. Then now, he’s back to hating them. I don’t get it.
  3. So Skinner was already divorced? He used to be married in earlier seasons.
  4. Skinner got out of the hole that quick despite his wound and managed to get ahead of Mulder and Scully to attack Davey? Not buying it.
  5. The mail containing a severed ear just happened to be lying around in Skinner’s home for any intruder to find?
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