William is generally regarded as one of the better Season 9 arc episodes, in part thanks to the generally golden touch of David Duchovny as director. Unfortunately, it’s every bit as guilty of the season’s failings as previous Scully and bibbee exercises, the only upside being that we’re finally shot of the little urchin at the end. Well, at least until Season 11.
Perhaps most pertinent at this point is that the show has so far strayed from anything remotely intangibly tangible and enticing in terms of the truth being out there as to render it functionally null and void. The greater quest was for secrets revealed. Now we’re trapped in a mundanely messianic domestically dysfunctional squirm. And yet again, there’s a Season 9 arc episode revolving around the absent Mulder. Is the mysterious scarred detainee really Fox? Um-ah. I wonder. Why doesn’t Scully ask to see his little Fox, so she can be certain? The point being, it’s a patently ridiculous string-along (it wasn’t especially persuasive twenty years earlier when Mawdryn Undead tried something similar with Doctor Who, but at least Peter Davison was actually in that story).
So yes, it’s a very silly plot, one the ever-reliable Chris Owens can do little to salvage. If Owens is really good, Anderson is quite awful. It’s no use just saying that her material is terrible. She willingly signed on for this shit, knowing her character was well past its sell by date. Scully is a rotten, miserable, thoroughly unpleasant person throughout most of Season 9, and particularly so here.
Of note is that, despite his debilitated state, Jeffrey does a thoroughly convincing job of giving Doggett a good kicking in the head at the opening. Concussion might be an excuse for the latter’s bright idea that Jeffrey is Mulder, but that’s basically down to him being consistently written as a bit dim. Anyway, come the end, it all turns out right. Jeff de-Jesus-ises little William and he’s perfectly safe and sound forever and ever… well, until Season 11, when CSM will shoot him in the head, and we’ll discover he isn’t their precious bairn at all. How enchanting. Scully giving William up for adoption? Yeah, it suss (“He’ll never be safe…” So you really think someone won’t find him very very easily, regardless of a different name and parents?) But it’s also a relief.