The Cigarette Smoking Man. There were many different ways in which The X-Files season 11 could open, but Chris Carter chose this iconic character. This was a way to reset the series, the story, and remind you of Mulder’s own relationship to him.
Also, aliens. The X-Files is a series where the aliens play into almost everything. The Cigarette Smoking Man should probably celebrate all of his achievements — he’ll feel that he’s right to do so — but really, he should probably just be happy he’s alive given that nasty habit of his.
After this introduction, we move back into the story of our heroes in Mulder and Scully — suffice it to say, this was different. Remember when it was Mulder in danger at the end of season 10? Well, in the opening minutes of season 11 it was Scully whose life was in danger. She was in the hospital, and Mulder found himself scrambling to help her and also dealing with Skinner in the process. They’re both looking for answers, but have different interpretations of what “answers” are. For Mulder, much of this is tied to his son William.
Just in case this wasn’t strange enough for you, we had the conversation — one where Scully woke up to clue Mulder in to everything that she had to say about Mulder, finding William, and that there’s a virus that could one way or another kill them. She also blamed the Cigarette Smoking Man for it. If there was ever a role reversal, this was it: Scully was the one with the conspiracy theory, and Mulder had to be the one to parse together what she was saying and figure out the next move. Her brain was on fire with visions and questions; she didn’t exactly know how to make them stop.
As Mulder started to begin his journey, he received a rather important phone call: Jeffrey Spender. Let’s just say that he’s not the only one searching for William.
Related – Could The X-Files go on without Scully?
Mulder began his search for answers with a theory: Scully was a conduit for the thoughts of someone else. This led him on the X-Files version of a classic car chase, one where he was determined to top two people without even knowing their precise location: The Smoking Man and Monica Reyes. He loved to speak in riddles, and as a result of that wouldn’t fully lift the veil on his plans. We just learned that William is, apparently, his weakness. He also loves to speak now in the way that most people do in 2018 — using the words “fake news.”
While Mulder was on his runaway mission (which lasted seven hours and took him into South Carolina), Scully decided that now was the time to act after learning the name of William’s adoptive parents. Spender paid her a visit with some of this information. She also made it clear to Mulder that his pilgrimage to South Carolina was a part of the vision.
The Smoking Man’s secret
He and Monica were the keeps of information, clues and details that nobody else knew. Mulder was on the way to getting some of that information. He found the home of his father and the end of his chase, and found himself as eager and excited as ever to acquire the clues within. He barged inside, but unfortunately discovered that a different smoking man was within. Basically, this was the X-Files version of “we’re sorry, but your princess is in another castle.”
In the midst of his search for the real Smoking Man, fake Smoking Man disclosed to him that an alien pathogen is out there. The clear indication here is that William is the key to resolving it.
Back with Scully, meanwhile, her own search for clues was going at such a rapid pace that Skinner couldn’t quite keep up. Unfortunately, she also wasn’t able to keep up with herself. She was warned about over-exertion as a result of some of her injuries, but she had ignored those and found herself in need of treatment again. Skinner found himself confronted by the Smoking Man — after thinking they were close by for most of the episode, consider this an impressive bit of trickery!
It was in Skinner’s conversation with the Smoking Man that the real scope of his mission was clear: This virus could wipe out much of the human race — Scully and William had immunity to it. Meanwhile, Fake Smoking Man and Fake Monica had their own plan to bring a select few off the planet. All of this was evil and mustache-twirly, and there were a few moments in here where the show came close to losing us in between Fake Smoking Man, Real Smoking Man, and Skinner being suddenly offered a chance by the latter to betray the entire human race.
Now, the closing surprises
Clearly, there are people who want Scully dead — someone tried it tonight. (Scully’s almost died so many times in this episode she’s virtually the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) Mulder stopped her attacker at the last minute, and Scully was miraculously okay enough after that to have a heart-to-heart with Mulder about some of what’s learned and that William is out there looking after the two of them.
Soon after that, Skinner paid the two of them a visit … and Mulder certainly wondered where he was. This is where we flashed back to Skinner’s discussion with the Cigarette Smoking Man, and where we flashed back further to seventeen years ago. This is when Scully was drugged, and apparently impregnated her with silence.
Here’s the bomb — Mulder is not the father of Scully’s baby. The Cigarette Smoking Man is … with alien DNA.
There are times when The X-Files has a tendency to fall in love with its own mythology. “My Struggle III” tonight certainly had echoes of that. It was a little too crazy at times, but with an ending that shocking (and sad for Scully) we are eager to see what’s coming up next.
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