The X-Files delights in keeping viewers on their toes, asking dozens of questions and only half-answering half of those … only to turn around a few episodes (or seasons) later and challenge those same notions.
Last night's Season 11 premiere, "My Struggle III," was no different.
But the twist the episode threw at the end was the most talked about and probably the most wild, dividing fans left and right.
In a coercive conversation with A.D. Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) claims that not only is Mulder not the father of Scully's baby, William, but instead that he is, having impregnated a barren Scully with alien technology. It flashes back to Season 7's "En Ami" to show the circumstances surrounding CSM drugging Scully.
William's origins have long been shrouded in mystery — see the episode where he's born and people seem to almost revere him; Scully gives him up for adoption when he shows signs of being superhuman, fearing for what he is and his safety — though Scully and Mulder seem to believe that he belongs to them and is simply an ordinary sort of miracle.
Obviously the Smoking Man is here to burst everyone's bubble, as usual.
But is everything what it seems? As per usual for The X-Files, probably not.
Here are a few reasons to trust no one. Which should always be your default setting with The X-Files anyway.
1. Chris Carter says CSM is not the biological father.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the X-Files creator defended this wackadoodle claim that has not gone over well with fans. "He's the figurative father if he's not the actual father. He didn't rape Scully. He impregnated her with science," Carter told EW. (Clearly Carter has a very narrow definition of "rape" because most people would probably agree that impregnating someone against their will, even with science, is rapey.)
So it's possible that while CSM helped Scully get pregnant by manipulating alien DNA, Mulder is still the actual, biological father.
Besides, does anyone really believe Carter has been planning this since 1999?
2. At the beginning of the episode, CSM says he has two sons: Mulder and Jeffrey Spender.
The episode's opening is a long monologue from the Smoking Man about why he's doing what he's doing (basically trying to eliminate the entire human race). He mentions that he has two sons, "both important to the future" and both working with the FBI. Pretty sure teenage William is not working with the FBI. Also pretty sure that CSM can count to two and three. He could have easily said he had three.
3. CSM also makes a reference to “my sons and their sons.”
As far as we know, Mulder doesn't have any other sons. Ditto for Jeffrey Spender, though we haven't seen a whole lot of him yet, so he may yet have sons. Who else is Mulder's son if not William?
4. In the opening credits, “I want to believe” becomes “I want to lie.”
Well, the fact that they changed up the the opening certainly stands for something. And it was definitely lie. And CSM is nothing if not a liar. Throughout the episode, his lies are highlighted, including making people believe a man walked on the moon.
5. An important plot point from last season was that Mulder needed stem cells from their son to survive the alien virus.
The new episode overwrote a lot of last season's finale, making it all a vision in Scully's head rather than actual events. Still, even in the new reality, she seems convinced that they have to find William in order to save Mulder's life.
Why would Mulder dying be such an important part of the vision, which Scully says "comes from William," if he's nothing to William? Why would finding William be necessary for helping Mulder if he isn't Mulder's? Why couldn't Mulder find any other alien DNA to help?
Even if you believe that William and Mulder are otherwise related, like brothers via the Smoking Man (though see Point 1), it still raises the question of why their relationship is so important that William is the only one who can save Mulder. If he's Mulder's brother, wouldn't Mulder's other brother Spender (who was also extensively experimented on, let's not forget) be easier to find? What about the also-immune dad the Smoking Man, whom Mulder is already chasing? Come to think of it, why have they not even talked about the possibility that someone other than William can save Mulder?
Something makes William special, for sure, and everyone is after him for some reason, but it seems like there are other relatives who would be just as capable of helping Mulder survive if William was Mulder's brother.