Season 11 of The X-Files was full of what the show isn’t. There was far too little tenacious case investigations and far too many car chases. There was a lot of running to and running from and very little dialogue. There were too many close-ups of various Ford vehicles and not enough focus on story, plot, or character. And our well-established characters suddenly acted very unlike themselves (Mulder as an ass-kicking ninja assassin?) Ultimately, the season was a thin veneer of a substanceless void that not only missed the forest, it missed all the trees as well.
Chris Carter used to write beautiful, inspiring prose. You wouldn’t have known that from watching this season. The man gave us this heartbreaking inro in “Memento Mori”:
For the first time, I feel time like a heartbeat, the seconds pumping in my breast like a reckoning. The numinous mysteries that once seemed so distant and unreal threatening clarity in the presence of a truth entertained not in youth, but only in its passage. I feel these words as if their meaning were weight being lifted from me, knowing that you will read them and share my burden as I have come to trust no other. That you should know my heart, look into it, finding there the memory and experience that belong to you-that are you-is a comfort to me now as I feel the tethers loose and the prospects darken for the continuance of a journey that began not so long ago, and which began again with a faith shaken and strengthened by your convictions. If not for which I might never have been so strong now as I cross to face you and look at you, incomplete, hoping that you will forgive me for not making the rest of the journey with you.
Or this in The X-Files: Fight The Future:
But you saved me. As difficult and as frustrating as it’s been sometimes, your goddamned strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times over. You kept me honest. You made me a whole person. I owe you everything. Scully, and you owe me nothing. I don’t know if I wanna do this alone. I don’t even know if I can. And if I quit now, they win.
Or this from episode “Max”:
I actually was thinking about this gift that you gave me for my birthday. You never got to tell me why you gave it to me or what it means, but I think I know. I think that you appreciate that there are extraordinary men and women and extraordinary moments when history leaps forward on the backs of these individuals, that what can be imagined can be achieved, that you must dare to dream, but that there’s no substitute for perseverance and hard work and teamwork because no one gets there alone; and that, while we commemorate the…the greatness of these events and the individuals who achieve them, we cannot forget the sacrifice of those who make these achievements and leaps possible.
We got nothing close to that during this season. Instead, we got ten disjointed episodes, ten weak stories, ten lost opportunities to give this show the respectable send-off it deserves. Last season we were introduced to two new FBI agents, Agent Liz Einstein and Agent Kyd Miller, and it felt like that season was a set-up for a future reboot with these two new agents. Thankfully that didn’t happen. This season, and particularly this episode, felt like a set-up to continue the show only with William as the main character. Hopefully, that also won’t happen. No one was ever interested in the William storyline. Scully’s pregnancy was compelling only because it was a confirmation of Mulder and Scully’s romantic relationship. Her miraculous pregnancy, the birth of William, and his special abilities were a plot contrivance that was never interesting in any way. No one tuned in to see what would happen to William. This mindless focus on him has always been puzzling and exhausting. So why would Chris Carter repeat this mistake?
It would have sufficed to have Mulder and Scully exchange simple ‘I love yous’, and to this day I don’t know why that was too difficult for Chris Carter to write. Instead, we had to deal with the red herring that is the William character, who finally, mercifully, was killed off last night, right? Well, no. Of course he wasn’t because this is The X-Files and a bullet to the brain doesn’t mean death (much like being struck by a Hellfire missile didn’t kill the Cigarette Smoking Man.) That brief moment when both William and Cigarette Smoking Man were lifelessly floating in the water was such a huge moment of relief to let those characters go. It was a moment of hope for a clear path forward. Finally, we could move on with a simple future for our beloved characters, right? Wrong. Because Chris Carter doesn’t know how to let go.
In the penultimate episode of this season, Mulder said to Scully “I’ve always wondered how this was going to end.” Well, now we know. It ends with Scully being pregnant. Again. It ends with a storyline we’ve already seen, a storyline we barely tolerated, a storyline we endlessly objected to. We do not need yet another preternatural pregnancy. We’ve been down this path before. What we want, what Mulder and Scully deserve, is a respectful send-off. Let them retire honorably from the Bureau. Let them settle down together, maybe with Mulder opening up a private paranormal investigation service and Scully training young doctors at a nearby hospital. Let Mulder eat sunflower seeds and throw pencils into the ceiling. Let Scully gather her case journal entries and write a wildly successful book. Let them have peace.
This is Ursula’s X-Files swan song. You can chat with her here.