This discussion of My Struggle, the first episode of the new X-Files miniseries, contains multiple major spoilers. It is intended for viewers who have already watched the episode.
I wasn’t a fan of the X-Files when it first aired, but I’ve picked it up a few times on Netflix. Despite not considering myself much of an X-Files fan, I was very excited when I heard about the mini-series I’ve been looking forward to having an opportunity to jump into the fandom.
It started off strong and took an unfortunate turn to the ridiculous at the very end that almost completely overshadowed all the interest the rest of the episode generated.
The performances were solid, from Scully’s exasperation to Mulder’s scruffy rebelliousness to Tad O’Malley’s brand of obnoxious ultra right-wing sensationalism. The actress portraying Sveta, the “alien” abduction victim, offered a convincing performance, straddling the line between conveying how traumatized she’s been and successfully giving the viewer the feeling that she was holding something back.
Overall I came away with impression that the actors were grimly trying to overcome the silly direction the episode careened towards. It’s a pity that their acting had to be good in spite of the script rather than emerging organically from the story.
The big reveal was by far the weakest part of this episode. The entire speech, complete with a frantic montage of various real-world disasters, came out of left field and felt both rushed and forced. While the ship we saw earlier was certainly amazing and opened the door to a lot of questions, the leaps in logic from its existence to a decades-long global conspiracy responsible for virtually every crisis from droughts to the September 11th attacks were so awful they were almost funny, and not in a good way.
Further, I’ve always looked in askance at stories that take real life tragedies and give them a hackneyed chain of fictitious causes. And yet another of my least favorite tropes rears it ugly head when Mulder’s informant refuses to inform because…reasons. While the sage-withholding-knowledge trope is at least partially understandable in some fantasy and more traditional hero’s journey tales, in a story revolving around real-world FBI agents it’s just nonsensical and contrived.
I enjoyed the majority of the episode enough that I’ll continue watching the rest of the miniseries, but I’m hoping fervently the subsequent episodes improve on the disappointing end to the premiere.