Take Two: THE X-FILES Season 11 - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Take Two: THE X-FILES Season 11

September 10, 2023 by  

THE X-FILES Season 11

THE X-FILES: L-R: Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the “My Struggle IV” season finale episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, March 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX

On Friday, September 10, 1993, Fox debuted THE X-FILES. Now, ahead of the show’s 30th anniversary, Give Me My Remote is looking back at all 11 seasons (and the two feature films) in a new daily series Take Two.

If you’ve read About Last Night, this will be formatted in a similar way: Each episode will get its own subsection/reaction, though in this case there may be slight spoilers or alluding to what comes ahead in the series. In the event a major spoiler is discussed, there will be a warning to be extra safe. Each Take Two will cover approximately 5 episodes and will wrap up before the show’s 30th birthday.

(I’ll also note how I’m watching the episodes, because some of the streaming platforms have utilized syndicated cuts of this show.)

Today, we’re revisiting season 11!

(Season 11 was viewed via Freevee; the episodes are also available with a Hulu subscription.)

“My Struggle III”:

You know how we worried about Mulder dying and the world maybe ending with “My Struggle II”? Surprise! Almost none of it was real, and it was a vision a collapsed Scully had. 

It’s funny to think Scully’s vision was basically her watching an episode of X-FILES, but it’s also part of why the twist doesn’t land the way it should. If we had just followed Scully throughout the process, you can more easily get away with pulling the wool over the audience’s eyes. As it stands, we got interesting stuff, scenes that should have a lot of weight (Mulder and CSM, most notably) that just…never exist.

Of course, that twist isn’t even the worst of the episode: That’s saved for CSM’s reveal that William is his son. I got Very Angry about this during the “En Ami” review, but it was a deeply unnecessary retcon (even if it was certainly implied at the time he may have done something to Scully that she was unaware of), and I’m not sure if I buy it, because CSM is a freaking liar. (I’ll note that Chris Carter said during a panel this weekend Mulder and CSM are William’s father, and I’ll just…leave that there so my brain doesn’t explode trying to figure it out.)

  • Spender looks a whole lot better now than he did in “William.” Also, it’s interesting—and bizarre—that Scully trusted William’s placement to him versus doing it herself. That’s a whole lot of freaking trust in a dude who misled her to stab her infant with a needle full of…an alleged cure for his abnormalities.
  • Monica being like “I think you’re in love with her” re: CSM and Scully. Uhhh, since when? Like, he clearly felt a God-like joy over the control he has had over her life, but it never read as romantic.
  • Honestly, it’s absolutely chilling to hear CSM talking about how his plans would be considered fake news, and no one is going to be prepared for the thing actually coming. Everything is bad, actually!
  • It’s hard to watch Scully in this episode, frankly, because she’s so clearly impaired…but she’s also not letting that stop her and she’s causing mayhem (including a car crash) in her state, trying to stop the apocalypse she thinks is coming.  
  • Skinner’s absolute frustration at CSM being alive is perfect. (Also, he should have shot the man in the car to free himself, Reyes, and all of us from this hell.)


I absolutely love Mulder and Scully being full-on action heroes in the cold open of this episode. Is it ridiculous? Sure. Is it fun as hell and totally badass? YEP. 

I also really appreciated how the show worked Langley into the storyline. There’s a history of bringing people back to life—and the Gunmen’s death certainly felt real-real, but we never saw their corpses or anything concrete—and as much as I’m not thrilled with how they died, I didn’t want it undone. But it makes sense that Langley would be thinking about AI. (And, again, another episode that feels timely right now.)

  • “Who needs Google when you have Scully?” Exactly, Mulder.
  • Again, I’m not saying it’s entirely plausible the Gunmen could have proactively known to leave a breadcrumb of clues to Deep Throat’s gravesite, but it’s a fun thing to imagine.
  • The FBI being looked at as spooky/as dismissed as Mulder has been would be funny if, you know, the entirety of the last administration didn’t exist in real life.
  • “This guy’s like Hannibal Lecter-levels psycho.” Scully had too much fun faking Mulder’s captivity and it’s a fun (maybe accidental) callback to Mulder pretending to be Hannibal in the original series finale. 
  • (Also: “Why do you operate so well with your hands tied behind your back?” “As if you don’t know.”)
  • It hit me while rewatching this episode that part of why it may appeal to me so much is how much time Mulder and Scully are actually together for the hour. There are other episodes where they’re the primary focus, but I truly don’t know if there’s any episode in the revival that has this much time of them in the same room together?

“Plus One”:

As Mulder and Scully “get back to [their] bread and butter,” it does feel more like an old-school case than some of the others we’ve seen. This has some parallels to “Fight Club”—though I like this a whole lot more—but…it’s aggressively fine.

The most interesting stuff, both in the moment and the long-term ramifications, is of course the Mulder and Scully scenes. The show hadn’t really addressed the realities of their breakup last season beyond the premiere, and this episode had the exes actually talking about things. No, we don’t dive deep into why the hell they broke up, but Scully seeks out Mulder for comfort. They talk about kids, what would happen if they meet other people. Neither seems willing to put it out there that, hey, maybe they want to be together again—an argument could be made that Scully is scared and Mulder is convinced she deserves better/more—but it’s acknowledging, in a way, they’re in this limbo and something could come into their lives and shake everything up.

(It’s very funny we’ve seen the aftermath of two Mulder/Scully, uh, romantic encounters and NEVER GOT A KISS leading up to it. Just talking and then, uh, implications.)

“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”:

I don’t know if this is my most controversial or second-most controversial opinion about season 11, but I do not enjoy this episode. And I say that as someone who loves Darin Morgan’s writing.

My problem with this really stems from the fact that I think there are two things at play here (Mandela Effect—funny!) and…the MAGA of it all. Maybe this could have been more enjoyable years later. Maybe it could have been funny if the concerns about Trump’s leadership didn’t play out exactly as terrible (and worse) than predicted. But I just can’t laugh at an alien regurgitating his harmful, hateful words.

  • “Confuse THE TWILIGHT ZONE with THE OUTER LIMITS? DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?” Relatable as hell, Mulder.
  • “No. Because my false memory is real.”
  • A case getting in the way of Mulder and Scully’s date is so very them. And I know Scully was sarcastic when she said, “Well, this is romantic” about their stakeout…but it was?! They fell in love while working together. Maybe it’s not fine dining over candlelight, but it’s romantic for them. 
  • Yeah, I could have gone multiple lifetimes without seeing a MAGA hat on this show.
  • “They want you to think all conspiracies are nutty, so you ignore the ones that are true.” Look, again, I understand this mindset, but this is also why the show will not work in 2023. Being a conspiracy nut isn’t being a rebel, it’s being actively harmful. 
  • “I’m Fox freakin’ Mulder, you punks.”
  • I have so many questions about using the final bit of music from IWTB (as Mulder and Scully basically reunite and decide to fight against the darkness together) for Reggie’s final scene.
  • “We’re not alone in the universe, but no one likes us?” – Okay, but this is really the best theory for why the aliens haven’t taken us yet.


This is, hands down, the best mythology-related episode of the revival and it’s not even close. (Full disclosure: This is also the episode I was on set for, so I’ll always have an extra bit of fondness for it.)

William had been such an abstract concept for so many years, that getting to see him as a real person—a real, messy teen involved in a love triangle—is still so wild. (And, yes, I know his name is Jackson, but Mulder and Scully keep calling him William, even to his face, so…it feels like both work?)

But a mess like this is exactly why Scully should have never given up her child to begin with. Presumably, either Spender’s shot didn’t work, wore off, or didn’t fix this element of William’s abnormality. And his adoptive parents were in no way equipped to protect him. They’re all lucky, relatively speaking, this happened at a time when William was old enough to harness his powers and protect himself.

As it is, William fools everyone into thinking he’s dead. That allows for Scully to give a heartbreaking speech to her son’s “corpse,” trying to apologize and explain as much as possible. It’s gutting, it’s gorgeous, and it’s Gillian Anderson’s best work of the revival. It also allows William to get to know his birth mother, briefly, in a way he wouldn’t have in other less-dire circumstances.

  • “Bob?” “Like I wanted to explain Fox for the millionth time.”
  • It’s always interesting when Scully wants to believe and Mulder has to try and temper her expectations. In this case, she’s so sure William is alive and Mulder has to be like, well…
  • Skinner calling Mulder to ask about why the only updates he’s getting are from complaints by other government agencies? It’s 1996 all over again!
  • “You seem like a nice person. I wish I could know you better.” Well, my stupid heart remains crushed by this. We, as an audience, could have guessed that was William, but I’m glad Scully got the confirmation her son spoke that to her, too.


It is not Mitch Pileggi’s fault a number of Skinner episodes are, uh, subpar—because his acting is certainly not the issue there or here—but this is a disappointing hour nonetheless. 

First of all, stop me if you’re shocked: the show didn’t handle an episode about the Vietnam War well. There is a really interesting story to be told about trauma and the damage it did—Skinner saying his mistrust in the government stemmed from that experience, for instance, is fascinating—but instead it feels like gratuitous war scenes, including a brutal death. Had they stayed in the present, the episode might have been better, overall.

  • Did love having Kersh back.
  • It’s interesting there’s the implication Skinner’s career stalled because of Mulder and Scully. It’s fair, but interesting given they were gone from the agency for basically 14 years before returning…and Kersh is still in the same place, too.


Like “Forehead,” I’ll echo this is either my most or second-most controversial opinion about season 11: I do not enjoy this episode, either.

On paper, Mulder and Scully versus the Machines could be interesting. But the problem for me is that this doesn’t feel like an episode of THE X-FILES; it feels like BLACK MIRROR.

Now, to be fair, X-FILES can—and has!—taken on technological things. (Even this season, we have “This” to point to.) But part of my disconnect with this episode is that it feels like this particular story would never happen to Mulder and Scully.

Sure, would technology take on Mulder because he didn’t tip the robots? Fine, that’s funny and plausible. But I don’t believe Scully would have a smart home like that, especially given the work she’s done and the tracking that’s been done on her. So that automatically takes at least me out of the episode, because it feels like they’re forcing her into this environment that our Scully would never willingly be in.

I’ll also be blunt that the near-silence of the episode also doesn’t work for me. It would be one thing if the entirety of the episode was sans dialogue, but Mulder and Scully not exchanging a word at their dinner together? Silly. Even if we didn’t hear it, it just doesn’t make sense and it feels like it’s trying so hard to be cutesy versus being authentic. (Like, if you want to make a commentary on tech, you could have just as easily had them sharing a meal and on their phone the entire time, not engaging with what was around them.)

  • “Humans must take care in teaching AI or we will be the ones deleted.” Sigh.
  • “Tell me how I can make your ride more enjoyable?” “Be quiet.” Same.
  • I will not repeat the note I wrote about the current owner of Twitter when his name popped up in a headline.
  • “Why is your house so much nicer than mine?” I know they split, but had Mulder seriously never seen Scully’s house in the months they’ve been working together?!


This episode is creepy, but in a great way. A solid case of the week, made significantly more chilling because multiple kids were killed. (And lured to their death by kid TV figures.) This easily could have been a season 5 episode, and I mean that in the very best way possible.

  • The one thing that really does feel different now versus then is how gruesome the show can be. The point-blank gunshot probably would have been seen from the other angle back during the original show’s run, but this go-round we saw the bullet kill the guy.
  • “You’re my homie.”
  • Every time Mulder talks about William, it breaks my heart a little bit.
  • I’m sorry, even the “good” Mr. Chuckleteeth is haunted and demonic.

“Nothing Lasts Forever”:

A perfectly fine episode. That almost feels like an insult, but after a few of the season 10 episodes, it’s actually probably praise.

While initially Mulder and Scully’s conversation about age feels a bit repetitive—we’ve certainly seen it a few times in the revival—it also ties, more broadly, to their case of the week, with the terrifying steps some people take to stay young. (Note to all: If you think surgically attaching yourself to someone will help your de-aging process, you’ve gone too far.)

But for Mulder and Scully, they’re also, once again, assessing what comes next. They’ve lived in a post-X-Files world, but even then, it’s certainly not like Scully was retired. And as they figure out if they’re together or not, Mulder also makes it clear he wishes Scully got out before she lost all that she has. And while I think it was important for him to express that, I think it’s equally as important that Scully reiterated that it wasn’t what she wanted. They both needed to hear that.

Honestly, all of their scenes at the church were pretty fantastic. Scully opening up about when she found her faith was lovely. It was sad she acknowledged she fled living with Mulder and I do wish we had any context for what happened, but they know. And I may be alone in this, but I love that we don’t know what Scully whispered to Mulder about what she wants. We know the important things: “That’s my leap of faith forward. And I’d like to do it together.”

In some ways, this could be the finale. Their finale. It’s not, but…it might have been nicer.

  • Mulder and Scully scaring off other law enforcement is perfect, actually.
  • “Did you get your hair cut?” “Are you kidding me?”
  • “It’s a prayer candle, not a birthday cake.”
  • “I may not believe in God, but I believe in you.” I also love how after Scully’s prayer candle blew out, Mulder lit it back up for her.
  • Mulder and Scully are going to hand things over to the NYC Organized Crime Division?! I know some people they should meet.

“My Struggle IV”:

One of the problems I knew we’d run into with this rewatch project is that we’re ending with this. Part of me hates ending this on a negative note, but this is also where the series left us, so ending anywhere else felt disingenuous.

I struggle with how deep to go into my issues with this episode, because much like “My Struggle II”…I don’t believe most of this episode really happened. Much like the season 10 finale, “MS IV,” we went into a close-up of Scully’s eye at the mid-episode mark…and in the season 10 finale, that close-up was the point where we deviated from what actually happened and went into Scully/William’s shared vision.

Does whether it was real or not remain quasi-moot if this is where the series ends? Maybe. As it is, we kind of have to take it at face value and assume that what happened happened. I don’t expect the show will ever return, but I suppose if it does, that’s a bridge we can cross.

The frustrating thing is there is good here. We get glimpses of William’s life before everything fell apart. We get William and Mulder together*, as Mulder sees the full scale of his son’s powers. We see William once again talking to Scully without her being aware of it.

*While so much of the William journey has understandably been focused on Scully, because she carried him and then raised him for months, I’ve also always been fascinated by the different kind of grief Mulder must have experienced. He missed most of Scully’s pregnancy. He had 48 hours with his son before he had to go on the run, clinging to the thought of him and Scully to sustain him all of that time alone. Then he finally returned and was reunited with Scully, only to find out William was gone. His loss is not more significant, but he doesn’t even really have anything concrete to hold on to.

But…we also get Skinner, CSM, and Reyes being killed. (Maybe.) We get Tad’s terrible journalism (who reveals a source?!) and conspiracy theories. We get them doubling down on CSM as William’s father. We get, uh, Scully’s miraculous pregnancy. We get William’s fake death and Scully minimizing what her son is and was to her. I suppose it’s better than season 10 being the end, but, man, I prefer season 9 or IWTB’s ending. 

  • Happy XF season finale, the X-Files are being closed again!!
  • Kersh asking, “Have you seen the internet?” is very, very funny.
  • “I don’t care if it is true, that’s someone else’s problem.” I have questions, Kersh. Also, how did he survive unscathed after helping Mulder escape?
  • “I promised you a global contagion. I’m about to deliver on that promise.” I’ll take lines that hold up too well for $1000, Alex.
  • “The person who controls your son controls the future.” Okay, but Monica…explain more.
  • Mulder hugging William and saying he’s taller than him…my whole stupid heart, man. 
  • Look, I’m glad Skinner tells Scully about CSM, but WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE TRUSTING A KNOWN LIAR?
  • Relatedly: “I shot my second-born son once.” NOT SOMETHING TO BRAG ABOUT, DUDE.
  • Also, Mulder. We’ve gone over this. CSM SURVIVED AN EXPLOSION AND HIS SKIN MELTING OFF HIS FACE. You don’t shoot him and toss him in the water. You shoot him and then BURN HIS CORPSE. Come on, man, have you never seen a horror film?
  • “He shot him. He shot me.” Well, Mulder seeing his son and himself be killed is sure going to lead to nightmares.
  • (Also, they saw William fake his death before. How are they not skeptical he’s dead-dead this time?)
  • I mentioned this above, but, man, I don’t get Scully suddenly dismissing William’s importance. She carried him. She raised him for months. She was his mother; it’s not saying she’s his mom or his only parent. But this is a loss she has grieved for almost two decades. Dismissing him now is odd. 
  • Similarly, I don’t get what Mulder is saying when he asks, “What am I now if I’m not a father?” It’s not taking away that this has been a part of him since 2001, but at the same time, he’s been an agent and a conspiracy nut trying to find the truth for much longer; he has other elements of his persona.
  • “It’s more than impossible.” Okay, well, as long as we all acknowledge this pregnancy is…something.

And with that, we’ve finished THE X-FILES. Thank you for reading along on this wild and crazy journey.

What did you think of these THE X-FILES episodes?


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