I did intend to do proper recaps at the time but I've been too busy / knackered. Since the first episode was three weeks ago and I can barely remember what I did yesterday, don't expect anything intelligent in the way of comments...
My Struggle III
It occurs to me that I never did do a recap of the Season 10 finale, either...
So, the conclusion of the previous season's cliffhanger. Honestly? The resolution here felt like a bit of a cop-out.
I suspect that because season 11 was not guaranteed at the point of writing season 10, there wasn't really a firm plan as to how that cliffhanger was going to get resolved. Back in the day I imagine they wrote end-of-season cliffhangers with the next season's arc already in mind, and indeed the direction of the next episode. In this case it felt like Chris Carter hadn't really thought through how he was going to resolve the massive End Of The World situation he'd written into the finale, and indeed wrote the cliffhanger ending just to mess with us.
My favourite element of that cliffhanger episode was the concept of Special Agent Dr. Dana Scully saving the world (with Agent Einstein) through the Power of Science (and genetics). That seemed like a really great direction for the show to go in, given that its very crux is Scully's level-headed cynicism vs. Mulder's alien conspiracies and search for The Truth. Bringing both of those elements together was just a perfect way to go.
So what we ended up with instead was Scully hallucinating the whole thing. I'm sorry, what?
I was genuinely confused for the first 15 minutes of the episode as to what was going on. For the opening scene between Mulder and Skinner at the hospital I was honestly convinced that it was Mulder who was imagining all that stuff in his virus-induced state, but no, apparently Scully gets premonitions now, and random seizures that have not actually been alluded to since (but I mean, we're only three episodes in, so they might refer to it again later).
Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed it, because it's X-Files and this season is a gift to fans the world over who thought it all ended 15 years ago, but... *sigh* sometimes I worry that Chris Carter has gone full Renwick this time around. Such being the case, I'm glad that other writers have been brought on board this season rather than it being solely placed on CC's shoulders.
Stuff I liked: Spender!! Mulder's insane driving! THAT ENDING BOMBSHELL OH MY GOD.
On that note: I am not 100% convinced that the Cigarette Smoking Man is telling the truth, because that just makes "all things" five million times creepier than it already was and because the thing with CSM is that his entire career (for want of a better word) has been about carefully weaving lies and half-truths so that the edges are completely blurred. And because that is definitely something he would say to destroy Mulder (and indeed Scully) just for the fun of it. Plus, by telilng Skinner he's put him in a massive moral dilemma, which is of course the entire point.
I am intrigued as to how Skinner chooses to deal with that, also - will he do some digging of his own to find out if CSM is telling the truth? Will he just keep it to himself to try and protect his two favourite agents?
I know I commented above that I'm worried about Chris Carter going "full Renwick", but actually, I also noted on Twitter shortly after this episode that the ending demonstrated precisely how to reference past episodes, make them relevant and deliver a gut-punch at the same time. So maybe he's not quite at the same level of God Complex Insanity yet. ;)
I possibly should have been paying attention more during this one so I could work out what on earth the title has to do with the plot...
My memory of the last two seasons is very fuzzy, so I had no idea that the Lone Gunmen were dead (OR ARE THEY?????!!!!111). You'd think I'd remember something like that, and indeed I have a memory of an episode where they were involved in protecting Scully whilst she was giving birth to William, I think maybe? There was definitely a hospital involved and Mulder being on the run. Season 8 was kind of a low point for me because that's when the cast changed - though admittedly I shipped Doggett/Reyes to a degree - and season 9 aired whilst I was at university, so I had a massive catch up during the holidays and thus cannot remember anything about it except "Audrey Pauley" and that Brady Bunch episode...
So yeah... I can't remember when they died, or why, or how, or any of that. Which... almost leads me to believe that it happened when nobody was looking.
Anyway. I loved the opening of this one, with Mulder and Scully asleep on the couch. Although both this episode and last night's have really hammered home how Scully sleeps with one eye open (so to speak), which makes a terrifying amount of sense after the amount of home invasions she's had to live through (and makes Mulder sneaking up on her both cruel and hilarious). I also loved her ninja-style move under the kitchen table, particularly in comparison to the scene later on where Mulder didn't quite have the energy for the fist fight.
I'm sure I said this last season but... Dean Haglund (Langly) has basically not aged. It's terrifying.
The scene in the graveyard was... confusing. It really hasn't helped this season that Channel Five's sound levels are all over the place, in that the show is really quiet and the ad breaks are deafeningly loud, so it's possible I may have missed a lot of important dialogue all around whilst trying to find a happy midpoint. It was nice to see Deep Throat's real name at last, though for a moment I honestly thought they would fail to reveal it at all and leave us all hanging. The date of death on the headstone made me feel old. (1994? Really?).
Actually, the whole episode was confusing. The plot reminded me a lot of Black Mirror (with the whole consciousness-database element) but I'm not really sure who the long-haired assassin was supposed to be. He was clearly wearing some kind of full-face disguise, so... is he meant to be Langly? In which case, why is he attempting to assassinate Mulder and Scully and the scientist whose consciousness he allegedly wanted to spend eternity with? I don't know. It was never explained and the ending just made it even more ambiguous.
Mulder asking whether he could spend forever with Scully's consciousness was really sweet, though. Gah, be still my heart!
I also really loved that little scene in the diner where Scully was half-asleep and jumpy (see above re: sleeping with one eye open) and Mulder was trying to reassure her. It reminded me of the show's earlier days and the various times Scully would fall asleep in the car / on a plane and Mulder would gently mock her for it (a la "I think you drooled on me.")
Oh, and that bit where the machine had mysteriously vanished after Scully had unplugged it. Predictable but brilliant. :D (Also Frohike's "Spank Bank" and Scully's thoroughly unimpressed expression. And Mulder's gagging gesture later on when they were trying to break into the facility! "I'm married to the Bureau, bro", indeed...)
I'd almost forgotten about the last scene, where they finally got back to the house and simultaneously gave up on tidying as a lost cause. And Mulder's Ikea comment, obvs.
Okay, so I had already been spoilered for the best line of the episode (the "afterglow" comment) and it didn't take much reading between the lines to figure out what it was in reference to. But I'll get to that in a minute.
I also knew that the episode guest-starred Karin Konoval and initially I thought it was a follow up to the season four episode, "Home", where she played Mrs Peacock. Which would have been epically creepy and brilliant if true, not that it wasn't creepy anyway. I can't work out whether Little Judy or Demon Judy was more terrifying. I'm guessing her Little Judy persona was supposed to be Judy Garland, though I liked that the episode never expressly clarified that point...
That scene where Demon Judy was playing on Scully's insecurities was... ouch. I actually shouted at the screen, "OMG, Scully, you're better than this!" because really, she is - particularly on the Mulder issue because COME ON, like it's not obvious she's the centre of his entire universe. The children issue I totally get, from her perspective (although I know this season is really focusing on the whole William thing and it felt a bit like they were bludgeoning us over the head with foreshadowing), but it still feels really odd, to me, for Scully to be self-conscious about her appearance/age/etc. She's spent most of her career being elbow-deep in monster guts or covered in slime or crawling through dusty tunnels - there's no room for self-consciousness, and she's always been so assertive and not-giving-a-shit in every other aspect.
Such being said, the scene afterwards between Mulder and Scully where she was seeking reassurance was simultaneously ridiculously awkward and very cute - particularly Mulder putting her fears to rest in his traditionally stupid way. Also, the irony does not escape me as to how badly David Duchovny has aged in comparison to Gillian Anderson, and I half-suspect the whole thing was a nod to that.
This actually leads me quite nicely onto That Conversation. My shipper heart is happy, because even now I'm just a fickle and easily-pleased fangirl, but at the same time... good lord, Chris Carter, what even was that? I have never in all my life heard such a clunky and nonsensical conversation, and I am never, ever going to complain that my fade-to-blacks are clumsy again after having to endure that. Seriously, what?
Bits of it were amazing, in fairness. Scully sneaking up on Mulder was incredibly justified (particularly as he did it to her twice - once was fair enough but the second one was just mean - LEARN TO KNOCK, MULDER) and her quiet "Can you hold me?" produced a level of squee that only dogs could hear, quite frankly [insert *hearteyes* emoji]. The spooning was seriously lovely - a gorgeous little throwback to "Requiem" (I think it was that one - the episode just before Mulder disappeared / when Scully found out she was pregnant - I'm guessing the imagery is intentional).
...And then the entire conversation kind of ruined it. It's like CC had too many points he wanted to cover and about two minutes to cram them all in. Plus I really don't understand Scully's comment about "not having anyone to have one [a baby] with", given where and who she's with at that precise moment. Like, I know - she was the one to walk away, but they spent the entire of season 10 slowly drifting back together, and she fell asleep next to Mulder on the couch in the house they used to share only an episode ago. It's really not that complex a jigsaw. If that's really where her biggest insecurity lies, surely that would be the point at which Mulder should reassure her? But no, apparently not. That entire conversation was weird and went nowhere - or at least, did not go anywhere near where it apparently ended up.
Bring back Morgan and Wong, for the love of anything. Their MSR episodes/scenes were always the best, and I feel like they probably would have done that scene more justice.
Nonetheless, "Put a dimmer on that afterglow" will probably go down in MSR history. Actual LOL.
There were some other nice little call-backs as well, in this episode and the last one, but I'm struggling to remember them now. There was that comment about agents fraternising in the same hotel room, which I think was from "Detour" originally. I'm sure there were others but they've fallen out of my brain now.
Another thing I thought was interesting - when the twins were arguing over whether the hangman was Mulder or Scully. Given that Chuckie had only ever met Mulder, of course he would be getting frustrated that the word only had one "L" in it, because he has no idea who Scully is. Judy's motivation in wanting to kill Scully was a bit... non-existent, in truth - I'm not sure if it was just to argue with her brother or because she'd already felt the need to target Scully.
But yeah, the doppelgangers were uber-creepy and I liked that they kept us guessing in that regard over which of them would be targeted. Plus that whole bit with the Dean character and his House of Scary Weapons was great. At first I was all, "Why does this guy have a cupboard full of guns?" (short answer: because America) and then I saw the samurai outfits and swords and was like, "Oh, that's why. LOL." Anyway, it kind of felt like he deserved it after he was creeping on the waitress. Ugh.
As for the final scene - I love that their Silent Communication has reached that point. Seriously. Even through a closed door. :D
Meh, I'm sure I would have had more to say if I'd done the first two write-ups straight away and wasn't perpetually knackered.
In brief health news - I am waiting on an ultrasound appointment of my gall bladder (and liver and spleen) as the GP has concurred the pain is in the right general area. Waiting waiting endless waiting... and back in the NHS referral machine now but if I have to wait more than three months for said scan then I'm going to ask to be referred back into the BMI.
That'll do for now. Over and out!