End Game 2×17: Did you tell her what she needed to know?


Mulder, say it ain't so!

In the aftermath of Scully’s abduction by the alien Bounty Hunter (her second one just this season), Mulder’s investigative instincts finally start kicking in and he begins to question Samantha’s story. According to her, the clones are aliens. Clones of two original aliens who came to this planet some years back. They’re waiting out human beings so they can possess the planet. Meanwhile, they’re forced to separate themselves because 50 people who look exactly the same living in close proximity to each other would be sure to attract notice. In order to differentiate themselves physically, they’ve been working to hybridize their DNA with human DNA. If it works, they’ll be able to live together as a colony. The Bounty Hunter comes from the original alien race who considers mixing alien DNA with sub-par human DNA anathema.

An interesting story, one that I’m pretty sure we can disregard in its entirety. Moving on… to earlier in the episode…

Y’all have to pray for me. I enjoy watching fake Mulder beat up Scully way too much. I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to give me the thrill it does. That can’t be healthy.

Interesting how Scully knows which Mulder is the fake Mulder. You would think, skeptic that she is, she would assume the Mulder standing in front of her is real since a voice is easier to fake than an entire body. And even though she realizes there are identical men running around, the clones, she has no idea about the shape-shifting alien. That she instinctively realizes the man in front of her is not Mulder and acts accordingly reveals something about her character. She may not always understand what’s going on and she may not believe it, but Scully follows the evidence to wherever it leads her. This must be what Mulder was talking about back in “Squeeze” (1×2) when he says that she “respect[s] the journey.”

For all her bravery in that scene, Scully is obviously afraid. Check out her body language in that scene on the bridge and, in particular, the way she sinks into the seat after she’s released and goes to the car. Vulnerable Scully has made a brief reappearance. And why shouldn’t she? She’s been held hostage by a very large shape-shifting alien.

Here’s the real kicker. Mulder is willing to risk Samantha’s life to get Scully back. Samantha, the younger sister whose disappearance all those years ago tore a part his family and continues to tear at his sanity. This is where my theory comes in. Ready? Let’s go.

After Scully’s abduction, Scully went from being Mulder’s closest friend and ally to being a surrogate Samantha to him. Both women were taken from him and he was helpless to stop it. Both were idolized in his mind, Samantha because she was taken so young, before she was able to do anything truly wrong or to tarnish herself in her brother’s eyes and Scully because she became even more valuable to him once they had been separated through the closure of the X-Files. If in doubt, check the way they moon over the loss of each other for about the first half of the season. There are too many moments in too many episodes to cite. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. Furthermore, now that Scully’s been returned Mulder is noticeably more protective and affectionate. But why brotherly affection? Can’t this just be a budding romance, you say?

Doubtful. Or should I say, starting a romance would take their relationship off of the pedestal that both Mulder and Scully seem to have put it on. They both suffer from idealization of the other to the extreme until we reach Season 3. That’s when the writers decide that they’ve had enough of this honeymoon. But I digress. Suffice it to say that Scully is still too lofty in Mulder’s mind for him to downgrade her to dateable material. It’s true that Mulder occasionally mentions her looks, but in such a benign way that I’m reminded of the things close male friends and relatives say about the women in their lives. No, Mulder ain’t shippin’, he’s trippin’.

My whole, long-winded point is that Mulder is willing to trade Samantha for Scully because the women are of equal worth to him. You might even argue that Scully already means more to him whereas Samantha is a stranger outside of his imagination seeing as how she’s been gone so long, but I won’t be so bold. Again, it’s interesting that while Mulder is upset over losing Samantha he doesn’t show any real regret over his choice and he’s certainly not the angry wreck he was over Scully in “One Breath” (2×8). Part of the reason has to be that deep down he was suspicious of Samantha, her story, and her motives.

But let’s get to the real star of this episode, shall we? The Skin Man. You could have narrowed down the entire episode to two scenes, when Mulder beats up Scully and when Skinner and X beat up each other, and I still would have been happy. There are a lot of fisticuffs flying on The X-Files these days. Anyway, how can you not love a man who takes, and dishes, a beating for Mulder? And with such radical coolness?? Skinner is officially one of the good guys. Welcome to the team, dude.

…And the verdict is:

I daresay it’s this episode arc that actually created the mythology. Before this, the conspiracy was disjointed and far too varied. Any and every strange happening could be and was the result of a government cover-up, often without much rhyme or reason. Scully’s abduction arc hinted at what was possible, but here the show delivers.

Are there any flaws? A few. The scene when Mulder breaks the news about Samantha to his father doesn’t read quite right. I see the sadness in Mulders eyes but I don’t hear it in his voice. Also, Mulder has to break tragic news like that and he makes his dad come to him? Stranger than that, Mulder tells Mr. Mulder that Samantha was demanded in return for a hostage and he doesn’t question that at all.

Then there’s the fact that as much as I enjoy watching Scully hover over Mulder’s hospital bed, the ending feels a bit like a tacked on excuse to put Mulder in danger and have Scully run after him. It’s as if they came up with the idea for the beginning of “Colony” (2×16) and then had to figure out a way to get Mulder in that situation. But that’s only if you watch closely, and I’m not really complaining.

This episode also closes a character arc that’s been haunting Mulder since “Little Green Men” (1×1); he has to decide whether or not to believe that his memories of Samantha’s abduction are real and if looking for the truth is even worth the cost. As of that final line, he’s decided that it is… yet again. In case you miss all this angst, don’t worry, Mulder’s doubts will be back. It’s like his own personal game of whack-a-mole.

A-

Questions:

What is Scully thinking as she hears Mulder yell out “Samantha?” She can’t possibly assume it’s his long lost sister. But I bet she wondered.

If the only way to kill both the Bounty Hunter and the clones is with a wound to the back of the neck, why did the fake Samantha die when she fell off the bridge? I guess we have to accept that the Bounty Hunter stabbed her in the water or on the way down.

If the green, alien blood infects people with a deadly virus, why wasn’t Mulder affected by it back in “The Erlenmeyer Flask”? They left him on the floor, they didn’t put him in cold storage. I can only retroactively assume that he was infected but that he was treated before he was returned.

Why do the clones darkly hint that Mulder has to help them? Why do we never find out what it is they know? And don’t say it’s that Samantha is alive. How can you trust the word of a man who shape-shifts for a living?

Comments:

The Bounty Hunter even cracks a joke like Mulder… as Mulder. Impressive.

The virus goes dormant at cold temperatures. Fast forward to Fight the Future and we can applaud 1013 Productions on their consistency.

Why does the government try to keep the Bounty Hunter from leaving when they’re the ones using him to stop the experiments from being successful? Are Chris Carter & Co. trying to hint that this Alien Bounty Hunter isn’t a part of the government conspiracy but is a lone wolf of sorts? Thinking forward to Season 4, I take back what I said about being consistent.

Please, please, for the love of all that’s lovely in this world, give Scully an excuse to smile more!

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Why does he want to kill you?
Samantha Mulder: Because I know how to kill him.
Mulder: How?
Samantha Mulder: By piercing the base of the skull.
Mulder: That would kill anybody.
Samantha Mulder: Yes, but this is the only way to kill him and it must be precise. I’m fairly sure it will work.
Mulder: Fairly sure?

——————

Mulder: Make yourself at home.
Skinner: What’s going on here, Agent Mulder? Why are all the lights out?
Mulder: Orders from my ophthalmologist.

——————

Mr. X: You wanted to see me?

Mulder: How was the opera?

Mr. X: Wonderful. I’ve never slept better. I don’t like these hasty public meetings, Agent Mulder.

Mulder: I’m sorry. I need your help.

Mr. X: It’s over. The fat lady is singing.

Mulder: I need to know what you know.

Mr. X.: OK. They’re all dead.

——————

Bounty Hunter: If I wanted to I could have killed you many times before.
Mulder: Where is she?
Bounty Hunter: Is the answer to your question worth dying for? Is that what you want?
Mulder: Where is she? Just tell me where she is.
Bounty Hunter: She’s alive. Can you die now?

——————

Scully: Hey. How you feeling?
Mulder: Like I got a bad case of freezer burn. How did I get here?
Scully: A Naval reconnaissance squad found you and choppered you Eisenhower Field. Thanks for ditching me.
Mulder: I’m sorry. I couldn’t let you risk your life on this.
Scully: Did you find what you were looking for?
Mulder: No. No, but I found something I’d thought I’d lost. Faith to keep looking.

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20 responses to “End Game 2×17: Did you tell her what she needed to know?

  1. This is definitely one of those episodes that has everything, it’s action packed, it’s got lots of emotion, leading characters beating each other up, I totally agree with you on this one. My favourite moment, Scully to Skinner.

    “How did you get this information?”
    “Unofficial channels.”

    What a guy.

  2. I read somewhere that in the scene where Mulder falls from the top of the submarine, David Duchovny actually performed that stunt! I went back and watched it, and that was a long way to fall!

    Count me in as far as the Skinner-is-now-Awesome Bandwagon is concerned.

    I suspect that we all enjoyed the evil-Mulder scene because it allowed DD to express a range of tone that we never see Mulder (the character) exercise. It’s truly jarring to see such behavior, and I think it works because DD is truly acting the part the Alien Bounty Hunter, he just happens to look like the Mulder we know and love!

  3. Great episode. IMHO one of the greatest visuals in the entire XF series was the scene where Mulder discovers the submarine conning tower out on the ice. I still cannot believe how the crew pulled that off. It is so realistic.

    Lots of shipper moments in this story as well. The ones I like are 1) when Scully returns to the bridge and asks Mulder how he could trade Samantha for her and 2) the message Mulder leaves Scully on his computer after he takes off for Alaska (one of the biggest ditches in XF history).

    Finally, I loved your comment about Mulder’s doubt being “… his own personal game of whack-a-mole.” LOL

  4. Thanks for your well written post. Very well said I might add too. I too wish CC and FS were just a bit more consistent wit the story line. They had such a large staff even a larger fan base they could have hired to do research on such important facts.
    Any ideas as to why the BBC only shows the X Files first 2 seasons?

    Thanks.

    • Thanks, Carol!! I’m not too sure what the BBC is up to. I’ve wondered why there’s been nothing new on my DVR too. Perhaps they keep showing the beginning to reel in new fans? They’ve been repeatedly showing FTF and I suspect that’s what that’s about. Or maybe they just haven’t cleared the rights to air the rest of it yet.

  5. omg….I always wondered why Mulder never hesitated at trading Samantha for Scully. You’re comments about the trade being for equal things makes so much more sense now

    • I’m sure his ultimate goal was to save them both, but risking the sister he’d dedicated his life to finding for Scully… that tells you how much she means to him right there.

  6. Agent Venkman

    Hello, I’ve been reading your reviews, find them incredibly entertaining, even if I’m not much of a shipper (I consider myself a shipper-lite, mytharc fan first, which is incredibly frustrating after season 5/ Fight the Future).

    In your flaws you mention William Mulder doesn’t question his son’s decision of giving up Samantha. I always had the impression that Mr. Mulder was well aware that that woman was not the real Samantha. Even in “Colony” Mrs. Mulder is excited to have her daughter back. but dad is not at all. Now, I have to say I absolutely hate season 7’s choices in “Sein und Zeit/Closure” and I don’t remember if those episodes (I avoid rewatching them) explain if William Mulder knew Samantha was dead all along, but it might be possible that he just knew the real Samantha wouldn’t just return by herself, and knock on the front door.

    Which also leads me to believe that Mulder was willing to exchange Samantha’s life for Scully’s, because he might have had some minor suspicion there was something slightly off with her story. There’s a moment where Samantha is explaining him how to kill the ABH where Mulder looks at her like saying “how do you know all this? you are not telling me the whole truth”. Also, when Scully calls him to inform they found Samantha’s corpse, Mulder kinda stops for a second, but it feels like he is able to shake it off rather quickly.

    Sorry for the long post D:

    • Ooh, I like your theory about Bill Mulder already knowing she wasn’t Samantha. Now that you mention it, I feel like when he gets mad at Mulder about giving Samantha up, his focus is more on how much this will upset Teena; he himself doesn’t seem too broken up.

    • I agree that his dad already knew it wasn’t Samantha. He seemed to know that from the beginning. I questioned that his dad didn’t react to the Bounty Hunter’s demand that they hand “Samantha” over, which probably indicates that he knew she was a clone.Otherwise, that’s a very strange development.

  7. Pingback: Closure 7×11: I guess I just want it to be over. | Musings of an X-Phile

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  9. Hi! Discovered your site the other day and have been enjoying your posts, plus all the discussion.

    Just rewatched this two-parter again. Loved the whole conning tower set, and really loved the Skinman’s fight with X in the elevator. And Scully with a fanny pack! Taking the bus.

    The ABH …. Did he go to Earth survival school before hitting the planet? Blending In With Humans 101. Like learning to drive a car, speak English and dress for success. He can drive a car, but seems to crash-land his spaceships a lot. And it seems he can get from Point A to Point B super fast when he needs to. Also, why did he remain shape-shifted as the CIA agent when he was alone, trashing that lab? On the off chance that Scully would see him? Just silly, late night musings of a mythology-watching X-Phile 👽

    • After all this is time, this is *still* one of my favorite two-parters.

      And totally. ABH is not only a master of disguise, he’s so good at impressions he should have been on SNL.

      • This might be my favorite two-parter! But I’ll let you know, definitely, when I complete this rewatch. I don’t even care that Mulder ending up in Alaska was contrived. Scully’s voice breaking when she sees him in the hospital is a version of her vulnerability we see even less often than Mulder’s delicious “Scully-is-threatened-rage.”

  10. I love this two-parter too. It’s a toughie to pick a favorite, though. I’m pretty partial to Nisei/731 too. And Tunguska/Terma. So intense! For three-partners, Anasazi/Blessing Way/Paper Clip gets my vote every time. Whoa! So fantastic, even though some of the Navajo stuff is way off. Guess Chris Carter never read any Tony Hillerman 😎

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