Times Mulder and Scully Should Have Made Out This Week: “My Struggle II”

Now with more struggle.

Times Mulder and Scully should have made out in “My Struggle II”:

  • I was on duty at my coworker’s apartment when Fox posted the opening scene of this episode during the Super Bowl halftime show and then took it away as soon as the halftime show was over. I watched this scene in her closet. I took my computer into my editor’s closet and watched Scully turn into an alien and then wrote about it and emerged to a world where it was already gone, and I didn’t even get to see Beyoncé. I have never shaken the feeling that experience gave me. Profoundly unsettling.

Where am I

  • “THIS IS THE END” lol jk
  • Never forget that Scully’s out to stop these sons of bitches.
  • WHY does she need the whole back of the car for this tiny bag?

Mulder every morning: Yes babe I’ve seen the cargo space yes I know you could move a body back there yes of course I’d help

  • Scully’s already halfway into a conversation with Mulder before she’s even in the office.
  • Tad O’Malley Is Always Waiting for You

on MindQuad

  • I wish his show were just called SQUAD.
  • “What may seem like science fiction…but is science FACT.” I don’t have a better joke about this line than the line itself.
  • “Agent Mulder’s phone” may be a ridiculous way to answer the phone in the office you’ve been squatting in for 23 years now, but it is an amazing power move. It’s petty and mature. It’s petty because it’s mature. I’ve said this before about Mulder’s nameplate on the office door, but for Scully, hiding herself in Mulder’s name is another act of rebellion: against the side of her that used to chase approval, against an organization that would underestimate her, against Mulder’s self-doubt. He’s the one who needs to reclaim his place; she’s just here to get things done. She really doesn’t seem to mind that this isn’t officially her office (it’s hers to Mulder). But she is damn sure not going to let anyone forget about it either.
  • Answering the phone to Tad O’Malley while watching him online and still making him identify himself is also a baller power move. He sounds so disheartened.
  • Scully two seconds after walking in the door: “What are you doing here and where is Mulder?”

Do you think I joined the Bureau to talk to other people Tad?

  • As it turns out, pairing Einstein directly with Scully—and making the comparison between them less about personality than it is about how Scully’s approach to science has shifted since joining the X-Files—is a much better fit than pairing Einstein with Mulder. After watching Scully stay in the same scientific lane for so long in order to keep Mulder in check, it’s nice to see how she’s evolved: She knows now not to discount her experiences just because they don’t match up with science FACT.
  • That said, America’s relationship with science has changed too, so let’s maybe not bring back the suggestion that the smallpox vaccine was Secretly Evil.

Young Scully Pairs Pastel With Mismatched Prints, As Fashion Intended

  • Oh, and now we’re bringing back anthrax (“the canary in the coal mine”!!!) because “Babylon” apparently didn’t do enough to throw it back to late 2001, which was such a good time for The X-Files and definitely not a direct precursor to its cancellation.
  • VERY cool how Scully keeps her phone in her bra. Another power move somehow.
  • Mulder has a folder on his computer called “Curiosities.”
  • He also has a PHONEFINDER APP activated and prominently displayed on his unlocked computer, apparently? Fox Mulder, who tapes over his webcam? Sounds fake but okay.
  • I love that Scully only cares about evidence until she hasn’t seen Mulder for 12 hours and he’s not answering her texts.
  • She 100 percent knows it’s Monica immediately.

She just wants to hear her say it

Casual and Platonic

  • “Someone who was there for you.” Sure, that sounds like a good person to throw under the bus.
  • This is an oddly stilted greeting and it’s still closer to kissing than Scully and Mulder get in this episode.

  • They’re still doing that thing where one of them sets the intimacy level of how they address each other and the other one matches it. But this time it’s Scully who decides no, they’re first-naming it today. She sounds almost wistful, like she wishes they were still at first-name level and she’s trying to will them back there. It’s almost like she knows they would still be at that point if this episode’s treatment of Monica made any sense at all.

SAME

  • Scully looked. Monica. Up. when she got back to the FBI.

Walk walk hair flip baby

This flashback fisheye is so upsetting to me. Was this episode made on iMovie

  • CSM is “expected to make a full recovery” despite being shot in the face with a rocket launcher.
  • “I thought that you were dead.” You were shot in the face with a rocket launcher.
  • “They haven’t killed me yet, as hard as they may try.” For instance, they SHOT ME IN THE FACE WITH A ROCKET LAUNCHER.
  • This flashback gives us the same Monica—brazenly telling a murderer who may just be the only actually immortal person on this show that she hates his smokey guts—who yelled at a military panel in Mulder’s defense. She may have been the only person less concerned about rocking the boat than Mulder was (Mulder loves this job; he wanted to rock everyone out of the boat and then climb back in). She and Doggett were reflections of Mulder and Scully who didn’t personalize everything quite so much, who just did what they believed to be right because it was right, even if that meant dropping everything to drive a pregnant acquaintance to Georgia and deliver her baby. It would take a lot for Monica Reyes to compromise her standards even enough to go undercover and play the long game (which I’m still hoping is what’s happening). If this were all for William or even Doggett, it might make sense. But we don’t get that explanation. We don’t really get any explanation beyond self-interest. This isn’t even for Scully except to the extent that it allows Monica to survive with Scully.

Not the worst way for the world to end

  • I feel like Reyes yelling at that panel!

  • Mood:

I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU, WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU

  • “You’re one of the chosen elite.” Well we knew that.
  • Mulder erases the whole population and still goes looking for Scully. Scully finds out the whole population is about to be erased and is like, “Okay but what about Mulder?”
  • “He loves Mulder. He sent a man to him.” Oh my God, did no one edit this?
  • Mulder in 2016 fights like someone who’s been on the run and I love that middle-aged badass.
  • “You sent for me. I’m here.”

OKAY

  • “I don’t come when you call.” You…literally just said that you do.
  • Power Move™: slapping that cigarette out of CSM’s hand. It’s petty because it’s not mature.
  • The Smoking Man still doesn’t get it. He compares Scully to his cigarettes: She’s Mulder’s weakness as the cigarettes are his. (Okay buddy, first of all, you think cigarettes are your only weakness? Not power at any cost? Not misogyny and murder? Just the cigarettes? K.) But Scully isn’t Mulder’s weakness. She’s the only reason he’s alive and the reason he keeps fighting—the only name in this scene to get a rise out of him. The bad guys on this show are the people who fail to understand relationships as a form of salvation. Sometimes you put two people in a room together and they don’t tear each other down. It’s tempting to wash your hands of humanity, but The X-Files also argues that it’s too easy, and that it ignores the ways we ourselves are responsible. (I didn’t cause global warming, says the man who smokes 10 packs a day.) Scully and Mulder don’t let themselves off the hook. They keep showing up.

  • The funniest villain defense I have ever heard in my life is “I’m not responsible for the decimation of the megafauna.”
  • And now, chemtrails.

C H E M T R A I L S

  • I have video taken after this finale of a friend slumped over on the couch crying “CHEMTRAILS” while Sia plays in the background.
  • Can you believe The X-Files, a show about shadowy government men who withhold the truth and shape reality as we experience it, playing with our lives so they can hold on to the power they feel slipping away, came back in 2016, and instead of tapping into that reservoir, it decided to attempt relevance by giving credence to anti-vaxxers and chemtrail conspiracy theorists? Those are the exact wrong elements of governmental distrust to tap into right now.
  • Tad:

  • Tad loves an interactive visual presentation as much as Mulder does. No wonder they’ve bonded.
  • At last Scully assumes her rightful place as humanity’s savior.

I’m so proud of you babe

  • This is a good play on Scully’s immortality—she lives on through this vaccine. How does she die? She doesn’t, and neither do we.
  • “I’m on the king’s throne. Feels soft. Just like the king.” [“Bad Blood” voice] OHHHH SH…
  • CSM takes off his face and Mulder’s immediate reaction is to wish Scully were here to deliver a sick burn.

He keeps a diary of her most cutting insults

  • Science but make it fashion

Agent Mulder do you know what the penalty is for an overdue genome sequencing

  • Now Tad says microwave radiation is being used as a trigger. He’s playing right into my mom’s hands.
  • This whole global contagion thing seems a little too obvious for The X-Files, yes? The crises on this show are intimate (someone is taken; someone dies) and intellectual (the people are being lied to). It’s not that you can’t take “the people are being lied to” to its most extreme conclusion and wind up here. It’s just that this story plays better on a smaller scale. It’s most appealing when it deals with a threat that only Mulder and Scully can see.
  • This is a nice shot though.

  • Lots of hot DNA talk in this episode.
  • Einstein has found the way I want to slowly die.

  • It’s sweet the way Scully boosts her morale as she administers the vaccine.
  • You know what? Miller is a good kid and I like him. I’m glad he brought his sexiest car to the apocalypse.
  • Dana Scully stops a riot just by yelling at people to please stop rioting.

Angry Mob, in unison, at the doors of the hospital: The small redhead told us to come.

  • Dana Scully drives on the sidewalk and gets mad that there are people there.

Why are you honking at her? She’s right

  • Look at this tiny savior on the move.

  • AT LAST. FINALLY. IT’S ABOUT TIME.

Here. Showing up. Like always.

Mulder would thank the man who destroyed the world if he spared Scully.

  • Scully and Mulder have always survived as a unit; they save themselves by saving each other. Scully was saved, and that allows her to save Mulder. (I will not be hearing arguments that the other half of this we is Miller at this time thank you.)

She loves him

  • She should have kissed him here. In theory, I don’t mind that Scully and Mulder are separated for so much of this hour; obviously The X-Files is best when they’re together, but I’ve always appreciated how confidently it lets them do their own thing, because they’re confident in each other. Mulder and Scully are just as interesting when they’re fighting for each other as they are fighting beside each other. But the reunion needs to match the build-up.
  • And so it goes for Mulder and Scully’s whole relationship arc this season: Their breakup feels like it was leading to a moment that never came. Because Scully and Mulder were always together in some sense, their romance evolved in ways that mostly went unspoken (they defined their first kiss by what didn’t change between them—the world didn’t end). Breaking them up logically forced their relationship to the forefront in a way it never was in the original series. But this season tried to have it both ways, splitting them up and getting back to business as usual. I appreciated that the monster-of-the-week episodes paid tribute to the way Mulder and Scully’s dynamic is incapable of ever really changing—it only deepens—and I understand that this job pushed them back into old habits. But a season with six episodes doesn’t have the same rhythm as one with 24. You lose the luxury of implication; you have to say it. And this season never did. I still don’t understand what we’re supposed to take as the reason behind the split. Yes, Mulder’s depression was diagnosed as endogenous, but they’ve already got plenty of reasons to be sad, and bringing up William occasionally doesn’t make that connection explicit. It’s for the best that the episode order was shuffled (“Were-Monster” would be a lot less fun if it felt like Scully was just trying to ignore her grief), but it’s frustrating that the story paid Mulder and Scully’s breakup so little attention that it could be reorganized at all.
  • Where was the payoff? Talking nonsense in a field?
  • She should have at least kissed him here.
  • “Agent Miller is also in trouble.” I love this man who met a genie and never made a wish for himself.
  • “He needs stem cells in him right now.” No comment.
  • I’d like to credit to Tumblr user thexfiles with ruining my day by pointing out this “Modern Family camera zoom.”

The level of incompetence in this office is staggering

  • At least we’re acknowledging that they biologically have a child together? I hate that I still have to celebrate that.

What’s the term for a deus ex machina but it’s literally the exact opposite of that? Just a UFO arriving last minute to mess things up

  • I lost years of my life to this cliffhanger. There’s no here here. I understand leaving a few things up in the air—Mulder and Scully will always be out there doing their thing; the world is never fixed; the fight never ends. But after 23 years, it’s reasonable to expect some closure, especially given that every time it seemed possible that The X-Files could end during the later seasons of the original series, the show went out of its way to give Mulder and Scully something they wanted (even in “Requiem,” Mulder gets his proof and Scully gets a baby). At the very least, this episode should leave us with something thematically satisfying: a Big Answer, a Moment for Mulder and Scully, a William reunion. But this is all set-up, and it plays like the only point of it is to guarantee renewal. Sure, we’ve got that renewal, and the promise of a search for William is a good one, but there’s still nothing deeper to this story.
  • They should kiss is what I’m saying.

We’re learning a lot about Gillian Anderson’s eye tonight, which to be honest I don’t mind

  • Okay bye see you on Fox in two years!

Can you believe I took so long with these posts that those two years are now down to less than two days? Here’s to season 11.

11 comments

  1. I’ve had so much fun reading all of your X Files recaps over the last few weeks. And I look forward to your opinions on Season 11.

      1. I think I’ve read some of your stuff on EW over the past year, and I can’t believe I didn’t find this site until early December. You’re SO funny, and really get the show 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for writing these! Every time I watch and re-watch an episode, I always come here after to see what you’ve written. I really appreciate the time you put in, as I know you’re super busy with your work at EW. I’m looking forward to reading your recaps there for season 11! Will you be doing posts on season 11 here or just EW? Fingers crossed the rest of season 11 turns out better than the premier. I’m still rolling my eyes at the stupidity of ‘alien science’!

  3. A rhetorical answer to your rhetorical deus ex machina question: deus ex muckina. Love this blog, looking forward to your take on season 11.

  4. Anxiously waiting for your next installment! Love these. And like another commenter said, I too return to these when I rewatch old episodes. You provide so much depth to the episodes and characters! Thanks for writing these!!

  5. Chris Carter is WAY too fond of cliffhangers, and this one left me in the same place I was at the end of season 4, like WTF??? Except the reason for being in the dark then was that I didn’t have internet access (not until 1998!) and was worried that Duchovny could legit be leaving the show or something. This time? Because they hadn’t even been greenlit for another season or movie! WTF is wrong with you CC?!? I felt so violent lol. *Now* I can actually watch it and enjoy it…but at the time? a summer to wait for answers is one thing, the possibility of never is another 😀 And yes, they totally should’ve kissed. I don’t care how sick Mulder gets, he’d always be up for kissing her.

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