"My Struggle III" wasn't a spoof.
If it had been nothing more than a parody of the real thing, then The X-Files Season 11 Episode 1 might have been entertaining.
Unfortunately, it was the real deal, and from the numbing voiceovers to the pointless car chase to some of the most wooden dialogue ever written, Chris Carter also had the audacity to introduce real information and assumedly important characters during the plodding hour.
Picking up right after the "excitement" of The X-Files Season 10 Episode 6, Scully was incapacitated by visions caused by seizures or seizures caused by visions, even with her advanced medical knowledge Scully didn't know what the hell the doctor was on about.
In the end, the only thing she knew for sure was the Cigarette Smoking Man needed William to operate and William was causing her seizure-visions, so no harm would come to at the hands of the former despite the news he's out to end humanity.
Scully is immortal, after all, so is she even human? Nevertheless, all the struggling with My Struggle III and I'll be damned if I know whose struggle it was referring to. Anyone? Voiceovers were all over the place.
And God help David Duchovny, who must have looked at the pages in front of him and wished like the rest of us Chris Carter would refrain from writing on his own and directing an episode.
As you'll discover later during The X-Files Season 11, episodes co-written by Carter are OK. He just falters when writing alone or directing. He needs to step back. Seriously.
My name is Carl Gerhard Bush, and I've been known by many aliases...Cigarette Smoking Man
Everything between Monica Reyes and the newly revealed Carl Gerhard Bush was out of tune. They sounded like first time actors reading for a script written by a junior in high school who would go on to become a car mechanic.
Smoking Man: This is going to end badly.
Reyes: Surely you've taken precautions.
They're talking about ending humanity as if it's nothing. And by nothing I mean there was no emotion in either of their voices throughout the entire hour. Smoking Man has always been an enigma, but in the past, Annabeth Gish has managed to breathe some life, some concern into Reyes. There was none here.
Everybody was out of sorts, if not out of character. It was as if Carter forgot those he loves so much.
Scully and Mulder were not themselves. Even in the worst of times, it wouldn't make sense for Scully to grab her head and wonder "what is happening," but rather to want to take the reins of her own medical care and try to determine what was happening.
Remember the car chase and the frenzied music as Mulder raced for his life? Other than someone was after him, exactly what was the point of the chase? It led to nothing.
He got to meet another member of the "syndicate" who worked closely with his father, also an avid smoker with his own Reyes. I'll call them Brando and Hershey because I didn't catch their names (were they given?), and the big dude was a Marlon Brando knockoff from The Godfather and Barbara Hershey was lifelike.
They shared more news about Mulder's father and his ego the size of the moon -- the landing on which he staged because, well, he could -- and how Mulder's weakness was William, but he should help Brando and Hershey because they want to colonize space.
How that last bit was supposed to come into the story made little sense overall, but at least making little sense fit the theme of nonsense.
Skinner was also being taunted by the real Smoking Man and Reyes, unemotionally, of course. Skinner was a little bit more emotional when he was asked to join the villains in their big plan to kill off humanity. From what I gather, it's because they can.
Skinner: You're asking me to betray them, to betray people that I care about.
Smoking Man [Laughs]: Oh no, I'm asking you to betray the whole human race.
The kicker here was Smoking Man toting a glass vial filled to the brim with the pathogen that will be killing the earth's population, the Spartan Virus it's called according to Scully's visions, in his jacket pocket. No damn kidding. Not in a box, or wrapped in tissue. Oh no.
Smoking Man was cocksure of his glass vial and the contents, even placing it on the very edge of the car's dash while chatting. That's ludicrous. Skinner could have and should have grabbed it. Reyes wouldn't have shot him because hello, he had the virus in his hands.
Smoking Man can barely walk, and he's skipping through a parking just asking to be hit or knocked over, chest first, smashing the virus and ending the world ahead of schedule. Who writes this stuff? Oh, wait...
At least I don't think Skinner fell to the dastardly request to join them. Join them for what, I have to wonder. What do half a dozen people do when everyone else is dead? It sounds like the rest of the syndicate is against Smoking Man now, thinking he's gone nuts.
So much ridiculous drama written only to try to pull off a dramatic Struggle episode and to launch a garbage storyline attempting to upend all that we know to be of Mulder and Scully.
What I really disliked was the line written in to appease everyone who will inevitably ask over the coming four episodes why Mulder and Scully are pretending as if nothing has happened when something as profound as William speaking to his mother through seizure-visions has just occurred.
Mulder: So we just wait? Do nothing?
Scully: We do our work. The truth still lies in the X-Files, Mulder.
What pandering drivel.
At least at that point, I still had hope about one of my favorite couples and what was ahead. It was short-lived.
Skinner: Mulder's not the father. I'm asking. Who's the father?
Smoking Man: I am. William's my son.
You can watch The X-Files online and scour the hour for more clues. You can stop and watch every vision to see if something more pointed was shared, but I don't have the heart for it.
We didn't see what Skinner said to Smoking Man, but I'm iffy on whether he'll be fully on board with the guy even if Skinner acts like he's on Smoking Man's side. Skinner was not in a good place after discovering that horrific 17-year-old secret.
Yet I could see him playing along in the hope he could be there for Scully if she really does have to make the choice.
What we know now, though, is Scully will always choose Mulder because she knows there is no Smoking Man without William. So if The X-Files is to go on without Gillian Anderson as Scully, it will be a series about Mulder with William at his side after the death of the woman they loved, don't you think?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.