The title card for the Season 10 Finale, "My Struggle II," is shown. It reads "THIS IS THE END."Not sure. Not fine. Not whatever. Fuck you Carter.

Season 10, Episode 6: My Struggle II
Written by Chris Carter, Directed by Chris Carter
First Aired: February 22, 2016


Well, here we are. After all the anticipation, the doubt and fear and hope and excitement, the final puzzle piece of the revival has fallen into place. Unless and until we get information about Season 11, this is it. 

After Babylon I went into this episode with equal measures of hope and hostility. I want to be clear: I had high hopes for this episode. I had high hopes for every episode in the revival, but especially for this one: with no Season 11 confirmed, this could very well be the very last time I ever saw Mulder and Scully. Not only did I want to love this episode, I wanted it to be the best episode of The X-Files ever made.

I’m left feeling so conflicted. Because as an episode, it has its flaws but I kind of like it. But as the last? This episode is the worst conclusion to a twenty-years long story imaginable.

  • So here’s an interview with Chris Carter in which he openly admits that he did not know what the finale was going to look like until he was deep into production. My favorite quote, emphasis mine:
    • “You know, I honestly did not have episode six completely worked out [when we started]. … I was directing episode four, which aired as episode five, and I still didn’t know how the series would end. I came up with it in the middle of that episode. In terms of prepping for the finale, I was very late.”
    • Did it not occur to you that writing the series finale while in the middle of directing another episode might make that episode suffer? Babylon never had a chance.
    • It’s irresponsible. It’s unforgivable, frankly. I understand tight deadlines. I understand unforgiving shooting schedules. I understand letting episodes grow and change as the season goes on.
    • But to not fucking write the last episode of the season…how do you plot the arc of the season?
    • How do you know what you’re going to do with these characters? How do you provide resolution? How do you leave us satisfied but still wanting more?
  • The most galling thing, possibly, is that he really thinks he accomplished all of the above. As he has always done, he thinks the critics are at fault. No mulligans for Mr. Carter.
  • Meanwhile his reputation—and by extension the show’s—has been tarnished.
  • As a season finale, even though it had its problems, I enjoyed My Struggle II. As a series finale? I don’t even know where to start.
  • Actually you know what? I do know where to start. This episode did not end the series; it was an emotional manipulation designed purely to get me to clamor for more X-Files. And I’ll do it; I’ll clamor. Because I love Mulder and Scully and I can’t stand the thought of leaving them like this. That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.
  • All right, let’s get right into it. We start with a ‘Previously, on The X-Files…’ from Carter himself.
  • It took me longer than I want to admit to realize that My Struggle is a reference to Mein Kampf.
  • First question about that reference…why? And whose struggle is this? Because Mulder being compared to Hitler no me gusta. Is it the Cigarette Smoking Man?
  • I really don’t like Tad, guys. I think he oversteps his boundaries far too much. It’s also partly that I just don’t understand what the motivations were for his character.
  • As I said in My Struggle, I don’t think it’s surprising that Scully has alien DNA.
  • Plaidder gives us this re-imagining/fixing of the episode, which I really like and which, like I said of “Acheron,” gives us alternate possibilities for this episode.
  • I know Plaidder wanted CSM to stay dead. I can see the reasoning behind that and I respect it, but I like that he’s back. He’s been compared to Darth Vader, but I think he is the Moriarty to Mulder’s Holmes. And there can be no Holmes without Moriarty.
  • Besides which I rather think that CSM or CGB Spender or Old Smokey or whatever you want to call him is half a metaphor at this point. No matter how hard you fight against corruption it will never truly die. Even if you see a rocket hit it square in the face, somehow the mangy bastard will find a way to survive. You can’t kill the devil.
  • I didn’t realize that I never expected Scully to be able to narrate her own experience until I was pleasantly surprised when it happened. I’m really glad they let her do a voiceover.
  • Oh my God though. This fandom version is hilarious and everything I never knew I wanted in life.
  • (God he’s so hot.)
  • Okay, um. We know who abducted Scully. It was Duane Barry. We would know that even if the episode hadn’t been named after him because he referred to himself constantly in the third person. Like Elmo only creepy and not at all huggable. Also, the episode was named after him.
  • I do actually like the way they’ve (attempted to) sum up the entire conspiracy/mytharc/whatever-whatever in a short monologue. This does a good job.
  • So the Old Man never comes back? Aces.
  • Surely I’m not the only one that hates Scully turning into an alien with an all-consuming passion. I understood it when it happened to William in her dream sequence, but I just don’t see Scully turning into a full-blown Reticulan as anything we should be spending our time on.
  • CAN WE JUST TALK FOR A SECOND ABOUT HOW MUCH I HATE THE “THIS IS THE END” TITLE CARD? It’s not funny, and it’s not fair. We as a fandom deserve better than this.
  • I’m seriously just not sure that I believe that Mulder went off into the night without telling her he was leaving. Earlier in the series? Sure. This is something he did to an annoying degree back in the day. But I really think that with their age and maturity at this point that they’re past that.
  • Because characters grow and age and mature, CARTER.
  • Also, we know that splitting them up has been a kink of yours since the early nineties, and that you’ll use any hackneyed, lazy excuse to do it. We’re wise to it. Stop.
  • I love Scully’s eye rolling as she watched Tad O’Malley.
  • Also I’m not clear on this: is O’Malley a YouTube personality? Is he streaming, does he have a cable show? He’s referred to as an internet quack but he has private helicopters and junk.
  • Hahaha also love that O’Malley wants her to recognize his voice but nope.
  • I like O’Malley’s callback to My Struggle when she called his claims irresponsible.
  • Somebody said somewhere that the scene in the wrecked house was supposed to reflect how much it isn’t Scully’s house anymore. I don’t see that. I see a house that’s been roughed up because some asshole attacked Mulder. I am going to find that guy.
  • Why the fuck would Scully refer to him as ‘Agent Mulder?’ They are having Scully say the weirdest fucking shit this season.
  • Wait, how does O’Malley know that Sveta’s DNA turned out to be alien after all? She wouldn’t have told him that. Is the assumption that Mulder told him?
  • “Excited?” Why would we use the term ‘excited’ as short-hand for “afraid that the world is about to end in a mass pandemic?”
  • Seriously, “this has got him excited” sounds condescending, and vaguely like someone got inappropriately or inconveniently turned on.
  • Get a fucking beta-reader Carter. For God’s sake.
  • For a second there I thought Scully was accusing O’Malley of having something to do with Mulder’s disappearance, and I was about to like that angle. But of course not.
  • I get that Skinner’s there when Scully’s concerned and can’t find Mulder. But Einstein? The fuck? I mean my knee-jerk reaction is, why would she know and would she really even care? Why is she invested in finding Mulder? And I say this as someone who grew to like Einstein’s character more over the course of the episode.
  • Also, in the real world Scully would never never NEVAH fucking tell Einstein that Mulder doesn’t trust her judgment OR that he’d worry Scully would think he’s crazy. First of all, she’s not super big on the whole emotional sharing thing. Second, she would never betray Mulder’s trust so casually and totally. I can’t believe they got away with that line.
  • But then I mean they got away with Babylon so what did I expect?
  • Also, “crazy?” If we’re seriously saying that he has clinical depression, I think maybe “crazy” is a word we don’t want to use on Mulder.
  • Ugh, wasn’t it Skinner who reached out to Scully to get in touch with Mulder about meeting O’Malley in My Struggle? Wouldn’t Skinner know about O’Malley’s claims? It’s small and I acknowledge that I’m being petty, but it’s stuff like this that kills a show. It wouldn’t take a lot of narrative effort for Scully to say that O’Malley has been making new or even more outrageous claims. Instead, the line “This man, Tad O’Malley, has been making claims…” makes it sound like Skinner has never heard of him. And I know to a moral certainty that it’s because Carter forgot all about it being Skinner that told them about O’Malley. Because he doesn’t keep track of his shit.
  • Remember when I said that Einstein grew on me? It wasn’t in this scene.
  • Also, I’ve always liked Skinner. Good man defending your Scully.
  • “No one has the right to tamper with your DNA?” Yes, thank you Agent No Shit Sherlock.
  • Also someone suggested a drinking game for this episode involving the term “alien DNA.” I’m noticing how often ‘pure science fiction’ is popping up and hoping I never agree to a similar drinking game. What really grates is that calling everything science fiction used to be Scully’s game, and now it’s Einstein’s—which would be fine with more delicate characterization—but what it feels like here is Carter not realizing how jarring and easily recognizable his writing style is.
  • Knowing what I know now about how rushed this episode was (the writing at least) justifies this feeling vaguely like a first draft. Not as bad as Babylon, which may be the most poorly executed episode in the history of the series (worse even than Teso Dos Bichos, and somehow even more offensive), but still sloppy. Rushed in some places and meandering in others.
  • Poor Mulder.

Mulder My Struggle II

  • I see a shadow of potential in these conversations between Scully and Einstein. They should be powerful. These two incredibly sharp, badass women comparing notes and gnawing on the problem until they figure it out. Unfortunately this feels too much like they’re just throwing jargon at each other. I don’t feel them connecting to each other or to the material. This episode has so much potential. I mean truly thinking about it, that nefarious forces would sneak the ability to kill billions of people into a vaccine that was supposed to help them, and would in the same way sneak in immunity to those they deemed worthy, all without anyone knowing, is huge. It’s a great idea, and very worthy of the X-Files. But it’s too rushed.
  • Other people have complained that the science isn’t believable/doesn’t make any sense, but I didn’t expect or even want the science to make sense in any real-world way. This is a show about the paranormal. Being able to sequence genomes in ten minutes is fine with me. I wonder if the real frustration is in the characters not connecting to what they’re saying. Also this is hardly the only show in which the science makes no sense or makes huge leaps.
  • What is interesting, or would be if these scenes had any fucking room to breathe, is that Scully has to be both skeptic and believer here. She has to grapple with her steadily increasing belief that Mulder may be right about all of this, but still find ways to prove it in her own way. All while dealing with a constantly sniping Einstein.
  • Sonia Saraiya wrote a review of My Struggle II for Salon that is very tough to read as a fan of the show, but she makes some excellent points.
    • “…Tad’s disturbing side kicks in. He believes in chemtrails, distrusts vaccines, and disseminates this widely; what is worst of all, in a show that spotlights Dana Scully, paragon of reason, is that Carter’s script proves him right.”
    • And the tragedy of it is, I know Carter didn’t mean it in the way that it presents itself. Nor did he mean to be Islamophobic in Babylon. But what we mean and what our work says are sometimes two different things, and it’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen.
  • Einstein saying, “Suddenly Tad O’Malley is the singular voice of authority” is…actually a really good point. I know that it’s weird and kind of a reverse to have an internet quack suddenly stumble on something that really is the truth. But why does it have to be an ultra conservative weirdo?
  • It does feel like Scully’s jumping the gun a little bit here, automatically choosing to believe that it’s the apocalypse. But that’s because the episode doesn’t give her time to gather enough evidence or come to these conclusions naturally.
  • You know, I legit believe that CSM would be hiding out in South Carolina.
  • I also believe that if he was going to engineer a mass pandemic to decimate the world’s population, he’d call it something fucking stupid like the Spartan Virus, and think he was clever. Of course if he really wanted to reference The Illiad, he’d call it the Achaean virus. Because it wasn’t just the Spartans.
  • So am I to believe that Mulder, the man who duct tapes his webcam and has had his computer password protected since the early nineties, doesn’t have his work computer password protected? ‘Kay sure.
  • Damn but those anthrax lesions are nasty.
  • I get what Einstein’s saying, that as doctors they should be ruling everything out. But. I mean. They’re two medical professionals. The hospital is full of other highly qualified medical professionals who are currently treating the patients. They’re not doing jack apart from standing there debating the validity of Scully’s theory. Why can’t they just go with it in case it’s true? To rule it out?
  • So I’ve not seen a single episode of Season 8 and only The Truth in Season 9. Which means I’m not familiar with Monica Reyes in the way most fans are. Still, this whole Reyes business really strikes an off note for me.
  • I guess it’s interesting that both Mulder and Scully have been “close” with a woman who turned out to be working for CSM? Not interesting enough to justify it.
  • How has Scully lost contact with Reyes so completely?
  • Wouldn’t she recognize Reyes’ voice straightaway?
  • Pretty sure that if someone delivered my baby I wouldn’t need them to tell me who they were when they called.
  • And why is Reyes being so cryptic? “Someone who was there for you…when you also needed help.”
  • How about “Hi Dana! It’s Monica. I need to see you.”
  • That’s how humans talk, Carter.
  • Why is it that Reyes and Scully get to cheek touch and Mulder and Scully don’t get to touch each other literally at fucking all this whole Christ-cursed episode?
  • Also I bet Carter would have an aneurism if he realized how fucking homoerotic this whole scene is.
  • And it is. Very. Legitimately, realistically, poignantly.
  • Reyes is gay for Scully. I’d heard rumors and now I understand them.

scully and reyes

  • Eurrrrrrgh those shots of CSM all burnt and gooey and bloody are just gross.
  • I like the way theconversation between Reyes and CSM is shot. I really love the closeups on Reyes’ eyes.
  • Of all the characters in this episode, I think Carter is most successful at writing CSM.
    For him to lie there and say, “I’m not an evil man” just strikes me as what he really would say. Also William B. Davis is so good at playing this character. His inflection of the line, “Is it hard to look at me?” makes me feel like he’s almost human. And no matter what horrific, psychopathic, evil things he does, Davis is able to make me believe that CSM truly thinks he’s doing the right thing.
  • “Why did you call me Monica? To tell me what a coward you are?”
  • OUCH
  • Again, seriously: I made a deal with the devil to make sure you had immunity and to get it for myself too! Never mind the oncoming apocalypse, we can live happily ever after, just gals being pals! Oh, you want Mulder to live? Uh…yeah I forgot to ask about Mulder…I think someone drove by to kill him so we could finally be together please kiss me I love you make him an offer.
  • Listen Monica, it’s never gonna happen. I sympathize.
  • But you knew that Scully was never going to let the whole world die.
  • “He loves Mulder.”
  • Is it weird that I believe that, too?
  • The fight scene between Mulder and his assailant is brilliantly shot and choreographed. It’s great.
  • The only problem I have with it is that when I see someone try to hurt Mulder I go into ultra super protective mode and start screaming at my television like a crazy person.
  • Also is this what’s meant by sending someone to offer him a deal? WTF that’s not how you offer a deal.
  • I do unironically love the whole conversation between CSM and Mulder. It’s a really nice callback to One Breath. A reflection of how much they’ve changed, how much between them has changed, and how much hasn’t. It’s also pretty well written, it has to be said. Davis and Duchovny are on point here as well.


  • There is a great moment of eye contact when CSM makes a dig at Scully and he starts to realize that Mulder really isn’t a blustering kid anymore. And that he really isn’t as powerful as he used to be. Then he shifts into disdainful smirking (as is his custom). But that moment is really cool.
  • It’s so amusing to me that CSM tries to act like gives a FUCK about environmentalism, as he sits in his luxurious ass house, smoking cigarettes in front of a wood burning fireplace. Sure.
  • CSM threatening Mulder with hell reminds me of Scully and Boggs talking about that ‘cold dark place’ in Beyond the Sea. CSM, Mulder will never see hell.
  • Yeah…pretty sure Reyes explicitly said that it was too late to stop the pandemic.
  • From here on out I legit like Einstein.
  • “I’m all she’ll have left.”
  • And in that moment we can literally see Mulder resolve to not die.
  • The whole ‘wait I really thought I had alien DNA why isn’t it showing up?!’ is one of the places the episode really meanders. Why even bother with that fakeout when you have only one episode to wrap up the entire series? Also, did you suddenly forget that you had to test Sveta’s DNA twice too?
  • And if Sveta had alien DNA why was she killed?
  • It was because explosions are cool, I bet.
  • I don’t think Carter ever even entertained the possibility that this would be the end.
  • I actually dig Miller here, too.
  • Who’s this “we” the CSM speaks of regarding the planning? Are there other bad guys still around?
  • It’s interesting to me that CSM doesn’t attempt to simply give Mulder the cure while he’s passed out. CSM isn’t big on consent, and I believe him when he says he wants Mulder to live. So why didn’t he just do it? Ah, must be because the episode needs to hinge on Mulder’s peril.
  • Why write well when you could write lazy?
  • I like the shot of Einstein trying so hard not to show Scully how ill she’s feeling, and leaning on the table thing.

einstein and scully

  • Mulder saying “I’m not gonna make it.”
  • Mulder you never gave up on a damn thing in your life. LOL.
  • Oooo Miller drives a Mustang. I prefer the vintage ones but still.
  • Einstein looks like a little kid curled up on that gurney, it’s actually really vulnerable and well done.
  • For Dana Katherine Scully so loved the world that she saved us from the apocalypse with her DNA.
  • I’m totally comfortable with Scully-as-Jesus. Or is it Scully-as-God? Either way.
  • This whole getting-to-Mulder sequence is a ridiculous waste of time.
  • I get what they’re going for, creating tension and whatnot, and it does create tension effectively. But that’s not the question. The question is, how best do we use fifty precious minutes of screen time to wrap up the season and possibly the series? A long drawn out “where are you? I can’t see you! I’m walking toward you!” scene has no place heree.
  • “We have a child together. That child will be protected by his inheritance of my alien DNA.”
  • Oh God that line is just. I fucking hate that line.
  • Gillian Anderson had to say that line. In public. With the camera rolling. Knowing that people would see it.
  • I am so irritated by the fact that Mulder and Scully are only together for less than fifteen seconds this whole fucking episode, that the dialogue is clunky, that this episode makes NO EFFORT to provide catharsis and closure to the series, that Mulder and Scully aren’t together, that Mulder is at death’s door, and did I fucking mention that Mulder and Scully didn’t even spend any time together in this episode?????
  • Seriously, even when they’re in the same space she spends the majority of her time talking to MILLER.
  • Honestly the appearance of a big ass alien ship that looks beautifully like the one in Deep Throat made no inroads to my consciousness.
  • All I could think was Mulder Mulder Mulder sweet Mulder save Mulder Scully should be hugging Mulder and kissing Mulder.
  • I legit thought I’d got it wrong and this was a two hour episode. Like I’m a huge ridiculous fan of this show and I seriously thought that I must have it wrong, because no professional would put this out there as the possible series finale, right?
  • And what even is the point of the craft? Is Scully getting abducted? Already been done; boring to do it again. Is it an attack? Is it a savior? These are not questions I’m even looking forward to finding answers to. Because I don’t care. All I care about is Mulder and Scully. That’s all any of the audience cares about: Mulder and Scully. We could not give a shit and a quarter about conspiracies, aliens, or fun rewritings of history in which vaccines are evil. Even people who are vehemently against Mulder and Scully being a couple agree with me that the only important thing about The X-Files is Mulder and Scully.
  • Which is why I love this article by Kimberly Roots so much. Roots is much nicer than I am about it, and she’s probably right that the pressures of running the show and writing are what caused the strain.
  • We better get a Season 11. I’ll forgive Duchovny and Anderson if they’d prefer not to go back here again, but I’ll never forgive Carter.
  • Vive Season 11. Vive Mulder and Scully. Vive MSR.

ilu dukes

2 thoughts on “The X-Files: My Struggle II

  1. I am so glad this exists…. This series (in my opinion) had 2 good episodes (Glen and James) and 1 great (Darin you angel) and 3 terrible (Chris Carter). I won’t even get into Babylon because it is literally the worst thing possibly ever and has tarnished the X Files for me. Anyway – My Struggle II – I am so glad you pointed out the relation of the title to Mein Kampf! It really really bothered me since they released the titles of the episodes, so disturbing in so many ways (especially in light of Babylon). I really feel like CC has lost his way with the X Files from the second movie to now, only the Morgan brothers seem to still understand the show. From the storyline? to the characterisations this seemed like a jumbled together lecture about whatever conspiracy theory he felt like throwing at us, seemingly at random. We were fed monologue after monologue about nothing, where was the witty dialogue and subtle reveals? Where was message and tone? And finally where was the respect or continuation of the old mythology?
    It’s only because I love the original series so much that I am so upset I think!

    1. The one comfort I can offer re: MSII is that I saw an interview with CC very recently in which he talked about the inspiration for the ‘My Struggle’ name, and it is not Mein Kampf. It is a German thing which translates as My Struggle, but it is not in any way related to Hitler. So that’s a relief at least!

      I feel you about Carter’s direction. In fact I agree with everything you’ve said. 🙂 I haven’t watched IWTB yet despite my (obvious) over the top fangirling, because I’ve just heard so much about how it puts unnecessary strain on the M/S relationship, which would only make me sad. Carter is…single-minded in his vision, which would be admirable if it wasn’t also self-destructive. I’m thinking of/planning to write a review of Season 10 as a whole and to talk about all this, but it’s taken some time for my thoughts to settle haha.

      But yeah, I think all of the fandom’s anger that’s come from MSI, Babylon, and MSII is rooted in a deep love and protectiveness of the series. That’s a good thing. I’m still holding out hope that there will be more–hopefully a season 11!–and that these issues can be sorted out. Because I am eternally optimistic.

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