Skip to main content

The person who controls your son is the person who controls the future.

The X-Files
10: My Struggle IV

(SPOILERS) The title is definitely what it’s been, this four-part “epic” arc, easily taking its less than prestigious place as the series’ worst such (which is saying something). As these things go, My Struggle IV is the best of the quartet, by virtue, if you want to call it that, of it being a non-stop procession of fireworks.


CSM: I promised you a global contagion, Mr Skinner. I’m about to deliver on that promise.

Writer-director Chris Carter delivers in typical style, which is to say he’s all over the place in plot and visual form, sometime hitting his marks, more often veering wildly off target. Initiating proceedings is one of his patented lumpen monologues courtesy of Jackson Bandicamp/William, in which he attempts to make the events of Ghouli fit his unlikely behavioural ab-norms (referencing the “stupid joke on these two girls”). Subsequently, we see the deployment of a number of X-tropes, to varying effectiveness, such as Kirsch threatening to close the X-Files (yawn) and Mulder not being Mulder (that’s small potatoes, though, as it’s an obvious ploy but delivered reasonably effectively).


There’s a whole lot of killing here, as Mulder and Scully attempt to track down William. Not least when Mulder gets trigger happy on a hangar full of Mr Y’s goons, and Mr Y himself, and William going all Scanners (but with exploding body parts as well as heads) in a motel room, with Erika Price written out before she’s made her presence felt (bye, Babs). Such incidentals are quite entertaining. 


Less so is the decision to dispose of Monica Reyes. Whatever your opinion of her presence in the tail end of the original show, nothing justifies the character’s appalling treatment in this return. Gish must be desperate for work (except she’s not), as I can see no other reason she’d agree to such a wretchedly under-served role.


William-Mulder: Would you shoot your own firstborn son?
CSM: I shot my own second born son once.

As for the other deaths… If only Carter would leave well enough alone. For a moment, I hoped he might actually go with a downbeat exit for Spender and Scully’s son, but of course, he can’t. And do I for a moment think he’s going to leave CSM dead? He couldn’t before, so a handy bulletproof vest ought to have done the trick (the proliferation of head shots in every death but his is surely testament to his desire to keep his options open, however feeble they may be). By the look of his floating away, he also possesses a pair of inflatable trousers (Edit: I see it's been suggested to Carter that half the episode is all another of Scully's dreams, which would be enormously lazy on his part and therefore highly feasible.)


Mulder: For so long I believed. What am I now if I’m not a father.
Scully: You are a father.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Another baby Mulder. Good grief. That’ll put the kibosh on worrying about the aging thing. At least, if there’s a Season 12, Scully will be off raising the sprog on her own. The thing is, despite the many issues afflicting My Struggle IV, it’s mostly passable as a sustained chase with lots of distracting bloodshed. You just have to not concentrate on all the egregious continuity and lazy attempts at manipulation. Season 11 then, has been cited by some as a return to form, but the truth is, it’s as patchy as its predecessor, only with a third as much again patchiness for good measure. It really is time to not just infuse the show with fresh blood, but also pension off the old hands.


The Season Ranked:

3. Rm9sbG93ZXJz (Followers)
5. My Struggle IV
6. This
7. Ghouli


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.

Moonraker (1979)
Depending upon your disposition, and quite possibly age, Moonraker is either the Bond film that finally jumped the shark or the one that is most gloriously redolent of Roger Moore’s knowing take on the character. Many Bond aficionados will no doubt utter its name with thinly disguised contempt, just as they will extol with gravity how Timothy Dalton represented a masterful return to the core values of the series. If you regard For Your Eyes Only as a refreshing return to basics after the excesses of the previous two entries, and particularly the space opera grandstanding of this one, it’s probably fair to say you don’t much like Roger Moore’s take on Bond.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

My dear, sweet brother Numsie!

The Golden Child (1986)
Post-Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy could have filmed himself washing the dishes and it would have been a huge hit. Which might not have been a bad idea, since he chose to make this misconceived stinker.

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991)
(SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

When I barked, I was enormous.

Dean Spanley (2008)
(SPOILERS) There is such a profusion of average, respectable – but immaculately made – British period drama held up for instant adulation, it’s hardly surprising that, when something truly worthy of acclaim comes along, it should be singularly ignored. To be fair, Dean Spanleywas well liked by critics upon its release, but its subsequent impact has proved disappointingly slight. Based on Lord Dunsany’s 1939 novella, My Talks with Dean Spanley, our narrator relates how the titular Dean’s imbibification of a moderate quantity of Imperial Tokay (“too syrupy”, is the conclusion reached by both members of the Fisk family regarding this Hungarian wine) precludes his recollection of a past life as a dog. 

Inevitably, reviews pounced on the chance to reference Dean Spanley as a literal shaggy dog story, so I shall get that out of the way now. While the phrase is more than fitting, it serves to underrepresent how affecting the picture is when it has cause to be, as does any re…