Existence 8×21: He looks suspiciously like Assistant Director Skinner.


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The final moment of glory notwithstanding, “Existence” left me feeling incomplete then and it leaves me feeling incomplete now. No, I’m not in emotional agony the way I was with “Requiem” (7×22) and for that I am truly grateful. But to be dead honest, in terms of writing, “Requiem” was a more focused and thorough end to the Mulder and Scully era.

On the other hand, this feels like end of Season 7 deja vu. Once again, the finale is written and shot without the series having been renewed. No one knew whether The X-Files would be coming back, only that David Duchovny wouldn’t be. And if The X-Files did come back, there was a possibility it could return without Chris Carter at the helm. Gillian Anderson’s contract was up at the end of Season 8, so she was in negotiations as well.

I remember the news came not long before the finale aired that Chris and Gillian were both coming back. There would be a Season 9 with no Mulder. It was heartbreaking news.

How would they wind this up? What will Mulder and Scully be doing that will explain Mulder’s eventual absence? How does Reyes end up in the basement office with Doggett?

There’s a whole lot mixed into the pot here, but let’s start where we left off last episode.

The Super Soldiers, because now they’re so named, want to eliminate Scully’s baby. The reason for this, according to what we learned in “Essence” (8×20), is that the baby is a perfect human specimen, with no flaws or defects, able to withstand the coming colonization and, through study of it or through future actions of its own, possibly able to aid other humans in resisting colonization.

Why in the heck, then, do the Super Soldiers wait for the baby to be born? Why not just kill Scully outright? I could say maybe they were waiting to make sure the baby was what they thought it was before they killed it and its mother unnecessarily, but they seem awfully cold blooded to me. I don’t see why a large group of them would waste their time sparing Scully when they could get rid of her and figure out what was up with the baby after.

But they do wait. They follow Scully and Reyes to Democrat Hot Springs, GA where Doggett has secretly sent them to hide out. How do the Super Soldiers track them? In a space ship? Through the chip in Scully’s neck? No, they tapped Doggett’s phone.

After ominously surrounding Scully’s birthing bed, both Scully and Reyes impossibly vulnerable and completely outnumbered, a small army of Super Soldiers walks away, leaving Scully and her baby in inexplicable peace.

Here again, we fall back into that convenient plot device where the trouble just melts away and a “miracle” happens. It’s water from the rock, all right.

Scully has cancer. No cancer. Miracle.
Scully is barren. Gets pregnant. Miracle.
Mulder has disease. No disease. Miracle.
Baby is hunted. Not hunted. Miracle.

Deus ex machina has its place, but it’s a place; it can’t take up every seat at the dinner table. “Existence” takes us all the way up to the climax of an impossible situation… only to tell us that it really is impossible and the only way to get our heroes out of it is to magically make it go away.

Oh, you thought the baby was super human? Psych! No, he isn’t. Or is he?

I’ve had enough of the baby game, thank you.

William is special. I know, I know. He’s a regular baby Jesus. That’s why his mother gave birth to him in an abandoned building, why the Super Soldiers stood watch like shepherds, why Mulder followed a light to find him, why the Lone Gunmen were three not-so-wise men bringing gifts. It doesn’t explain why he looks like Assistant Director Skinner, though.

In “Essence”, Mulder indicated that this baby was God’s salvation come to humanity. It’s a bit much. It’s more than a bit much. It’s too much. Though if it had been toned down and handled at a less mythical level, it might have proved interesting this idea of Mulder and Scully’s baby being given to them to fight the fight they couldn’t.

“Existence” has taken a step back from the baby as Messiah, since it appears he’s not what we thought, but he’s still a salvation of sorts. He’s a miracle, given by God, given to Mulder and Scully, given because it’s time for them to rest.

The last several episodes, “Empedolces” (8×17) especially, have set Mulder up to make a choice. He can keep running and running and running, or he can stop. Before, if not him investigating the X-Files and keeping the conspirators on their toes, than who? Now there’s… Agent Doggett?

Doggett: What the hell difference does it really make?
Mulder: It doesn’t make any difference at all. Unless you want to protect Scully and that baby.
Doggett: And then what? How long can you keep this up? How long until the next Billy Miles rears his head? The next threat? The next phantom? You ever stop to ask yourself? All the sacrifice, the blood spilled. You’ve given nearly a decade of your life. Where the hell is it all going to end?
Mulder: I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t.

Doggett’s stubborn refusal to believe anything is starting to wear a little thin. He’s already seen people come back from the grave. What’s stranger than that? But I realize his stubbornness is meant to challenge Mulder’s stubbornness, to point out the futility of his unending quest.

I understand that’s what this is really about, but after that little speech of his I have my concerns. How can he be in charge of the X-Files when he’s already fed up after a car chase and some gun play? He won’t get very far with that attitude. Thank goodness he has… Agent Reyes?

I actually liked her character better in “Empedolces” when she was tough and insistent in the face of Doggett’s anger and Mulder’s coldness. Here she’s goofy and unsure of herself and not much else.

I haven’t given up on their partnership, though. They’ve shown me enough in previous episodes that I think they might be able to successfully, if not as memorably, run the X-Files. If I wasn’t convinced, that last shot of the two of them defiantly walking out of Kersh’s office sure would have made me curious. That was a great moment and I’m glad they had one.

Speaking of moments, Krycek is gone.

As I said in the last review, Krycek has been feeling less like a fleshed out character lately and more like a convenient plot device. He could push the story whichever way the writers wanted to go because he’s wily like that. The episodes moved forward, but Krycek got lost as what drove his fickle loyalties was based on the writers’ immediate needs instead of the needs of the overarching story. They weren’t taking Krycek’s character anywhere anymore.

Things might have been different if that Krycek-centric episode talked about for Season 7 had materialized somehow. But life is full of disappointments and regrets. It’s also full of satisfying moments and, if Krycek had become tiresome, then at least his death came poetically at the hand of Skinner. It was only right.

My favorite parts of this scene are two-fold and they have nothing to do with Krycek or Skinner.

Mulder’s pulse doesn’t so much as go up as Kryeck threatens him.
As soon as Kryeck’s dead, Mulder’s like, “There’s nothing to see here. Let’s go.”

Mulder is completely nonchalant about the whole thing. Krycek makes one more last ditch effort to get Skinner to turn on Mulder, but there was no tension in that. We all know that Skinner isn’t about to choose Kryeck over Mulder. Ratboy, please.

I haven’t said much about Scully yet and there’s a reason for that. Right when we want to savor as much of Mulder and Scully together as we can, they’re kept completely apart. This is by design, surely. So that the final scene will mean more and we’ll be hungrier for it.

But it’s indicative of another problem. Scully is nine months pregnant – She can’t go out there and fight the monsters with Mulder. Scully is no longer an active participant, she’s the passive center of all activity. She has to be.

I don’t have a problem with Scully being physically vulnerable. That’s just par for the course with pregnancy. My concern is that while it has to happen, it makes Scully less interesting. The full ramifications of this pregnancy storyline are hitting me in the face right when I want to cherish Mulder and Scully’s time together on The X-Files the most. The character of Mulder is leaving just as Scully is least able to fully participate in saying goodbye.

Maybe if the timing had been different, if Scully’s baby had been born earlier, or if Mulder’s return hadn’t been jammed into the last half of the season but had taken place over the course of it with his episodes interspersed. But as I type my wandering thoughts, I’m not sure that would have worked either. This is what I mean when I say “Existence” left me slightly unsatisfied, like I had a wild ride that could have and should have been more comfortable. I’m just not sure what that might have looked like.

I know nothing except that these two people tug at heartstrings I didn’t think I had. Maybe there’s nothing left of the mythology but shreds and tatters. Maybe humpty dumpty can’t be put back together again. But even when the television world is falling apart, Mulder and Scully are my constant, my touchstone.

Verdict:

This is why I said way back in the review for it that “Requiem” was truly the end of the Mulder and Scully era on The X-Files. Yes, the last half of Season 8 brought them back together and appeased my aching heart, but they would never solve a case together the same way again. They’re here, but their bags have been packed and we’ve spent more time watching them move out of the way for the new crew than resolving their own baggage.

But their baggage is now resolved, rushed or not. The mythology is gasping for air, but Mulder has found the truth he needed and he’s gotten back the family he lost long ago.

My babies! Go be happy!

Since Scully has so subtly decided to name the baby after Mulder’s father, I think we can officially put questions surrounding the baby’s paternity to rest. I realize 1013 wanted to save that information for Mulder and Scully’s last moments together and for the season, and potentially series finale. However, the issue artificially dragged on and I, for one, am thrilled that it’s over.

Part of me, a large part of me, wishes this had been the end for Mulder and Scully too, that they had taken their baby and run off. Maybe the way we saw them in I Want to Believe, they’d be living their lives in the middle of nowhere, quietly keeping tabs on the conspiracy and finding a way to thwart colonization but away from the front lines.

Because the threat is still there. There is still evil left to fight. There are still mysteries left to investigate. But that’s Doggett and Reyes’ job now.

B

Whale Songs:

I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed Mulder let himself into Scully’s apartment. Scully’s had the spare key to his since Season 2, but we’ve never seen Mulder with a key to Scully’s apartment before. We can just assume he’s moved in, yes?

Who else thinks Scully knew very well what was what when she says, “Which is what?”, she just wanted Mulder to say it out loud? Show of hands?

Ideally, instead of a Season 9 both tethered to and supported by the legacy of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, I wish Doggett and Reyes had gotten their own clearly delineated mission. The X-Files: The Next Generation, if you will.

During his death scene, when did Krycek stand back up to receive that bullet so perfectly?

I think Krycek had real feelings for Mulder. It’s hard to hate your enemy when he’s that much fun to fight, huh?

Billy Miles has a way of coming back to life on the autopsy table, doesn’t he? Talk about having procrastination issues.

Finally, Scully says out loud that Monica and Melissa are of the same kind. That said, when were Scully and her sister ever “close?”

During that opening scene in the car, Scully’s voice is super modulated, the way it was when she and Mulder were in the car in the “Pilot” (1×79).

Okay, in the last episode, Mulder and Scully flee a menacing Billy Miles before Krycek rescues them by running the Super Soldier over. This episode, we find out that Krycek was allied with the Super Soldiers, or as allied as Krycek can be, and we see the Super Soldiers wait out Scully’s delivery rather than kill her. I can only assume the previous rescue was a trap to get Scully and Mulder to trust Krycek and walk into the hands of the Super Soldiers. But, AGAIN, why go through all that when Billy could have just grabbed her and gotten it over with?

“There was a light. I followed it.” Eye roll.

From the DVD commentary –

“This was David and Gillian’s last scene together and we shot it on the last day of the picture. And as they come together to kiss, you’ll see the camera will pull out the door. And that was the last shot of David and Gillian together. And we wrapped, and David and Gillian stood in that room together alone and held each other for a good five minutes. They didn’t talk, they didn’t move, they just held each other, with tears running down their faces. It was a very touching moment, one I’ll never forget. I think we got the kiss in one take.” – Director Kim Manners

Stop. STOP. I can’t handle it. I can’t take it.

Best Quotes:

Krycek: I could’ve killed you so many times, Mulder. You’ve got to know that. I’m the one that kept you alive… [Voice cracking] Praying you’d win somehow.
Mulder: Then there really is no God.

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23 responses to “Existence 8×21: He looks suspiciously like Assistant Director Skinner.

  1. Pingback: Season 8 Wrap Up – Can’t we just go home and start this all over again tomorrow? | Musings of an X-Phile

  2. “We can just assume he’s moved in, yes?” YES

    “Who else thinks Scully knew very well what was what when she says, “Which is what?”, she just wanted Mulder to say it out loud? Show of hands?” HAND RAISED

    I love everything you said because it’s things I’ve tried to pinpoint about why these episodes always felt a bit off to me. I’ll always enjoy them because, let’s face it, anytime Mulder and Scully are on my screen – I’m good…

    I’ve wondered about the Super Soldier thing with Scully and the baby for so long! They obviously don’t care about killing people, so why not just kill her and take the baby or KILL the baby … i understand trying to create drama from a writing standpoint but it needs to make sense in the overall story and this just …. doesn’t…

    • LOL! knew it couldn’t be just me!

      As for the Super Soldiers, I’m in the middle of Season 9 now and I’m only more confused. I think these scripts were rushed because of contractual drama behind the scenes and not all plots and their consequences could be thoroughly thought through.

      And a Happy New Year to you, Miss!!

  3. Pingback: Nothing Important Happened Today 9×1: Like we got anything better to be doing these days. | Musings of an X-Phile

  4. This episode, and this whole pregnancy fiasco, felt so ridiculous this entire episode that even in the haze of rewatching that final scene ten times I can’t say it was good or worth it. Like Mulder and Scully’s love, this pregnancy should have just hovered in the background. It’s just so hard to believe this because for the whole time before Mulder was returned no one really talked about or seemed to care about this baby. There are so many other ways they could have taken the x files conspiracy, but this magical baby who is the key to saving humanity is a bit far and kind of an overused storyline. It adds this extra layer of drama that ended up feeling silly to me.

    Add to that the fact that Mulder and Scully barely interact the who time and I was just really waiting for this one to end. I also found it hard to believe that Mildrr would just let Scully go off and give birth in another state without him. Milder is trusting all of this information from others that the aliens won’t find Scully? What happened to trust no one? I know it was for plot purposes, but this was out of character for Mulder. He would have gone with Scully and personally killed anyone to tried to touch her. Even more so because he seems to be really seeing what’s important in life, which is his new family and not the bigger, massive search for the truth. i don’t know. I’m glad that season 8 is done, but I dread that season 9 is here.

    Happy New Year!!

    • I remember when this aired feeling impatient for the episode to be over with. It wasn’t the shipper in me, either. It was just much ado about nothing. We knew at that point that the M&S era was ending and I just wanted them to have their reunion and end it before the plot made me roll my eyes any harder.

      Looking back, I think there was still a lot of life left in the show, but certain plot choices, burnout, and behind the scenes drama led it irreparably to Season 9.

      The ending was really bittersweet and in a different way from “Requiem”. “Requiem” was sad because I didn’t want it to be over and couldn’t stand the thought. The ride had been so wonderful. “Existence” was bittersweet because not only was it sad to see old friends go, but it was sad that I kinda, sorta wanted to see them go.

  5. Pingback: Nothing Important Happened Today II 9×2: I’ve had my fair share of outrageous conspiracy theories. | Musings of an X-Phile

  6. There was so much bad/embarrassing about this episode’s script: the aliens surrounding the house, the star guiding Mulder, the wise men analogy, the overall attempt at Mary/Scully. Just “divorce-your-I.Q.-while-watching” bad.

    And as with so many episodes, I don’t care because that last scene brings me such total and complete JOY.

    Always thought it was interesting that Scully tells Mulder named William after his father, since her dad was also a William. And her dad made no deals with alien devils, I think Bill Scully should get naming credit priority.

    Why oh why is there no footage of the DD/GA emotional ending hugging??? *sigh* This is a great write up with a few additional details by Kim Manners (R.I.P.): http://gillovny4ever.tumblr.com/post/75935120407/the-last-shot-in-the-picture-was-gillian-handing

    Although I may read some summaries of Season 9, I’ll be getting off this particular train until The End. Reading the summaries of the last two seasons reminds me that I remain thankful I’ve never seen any non-DD/GA opening credits and thankful I stopped watching faithfully before the story telling went so downhill. My memories of the X Files remain focused on the a time when the show was more often better than not, those first few years when fanfic and “shipping” were new, that first season when there were a handful of us on the Delphi bulletin boards chatting with CC and we all fretted over whether XF would be renewed for a second season. Oh, the salad days… #editingforcontent

    • I’m sad to say that “Existence” is just begging to be fast forwarded through. The whole point is the final scene.

      Thanks for that link! I have an appointment this morning but I’m going to check it out after.

      But, hey, I had no idea CC was on bulletin boards back in the day!! I would *LOVE* to have been a fly on that virtual wall. Did he talk about where he was planning to take the show? Oh, man… I wonder what then CC would think of what it all turned into…

      • “Thanks for that link! I have an appointment this morning but I’m going to check it out after.”

        What did you think??? I try to not fall into the gillovny mindset (it is difficult, admittedly…) so I was late in finding that site. When I read it I felt all melty inside. I cheated b/c there is no footage of this blessed event. 😦 (God forbid if there was footage.. then it’d be posted on youtube by that dreadful “Heckyes” person who felt the need to stamp her name all over such precious footage. (Narcissistic much? Grr.)) Did I wander here?

        Oh yeah, so, I’ve yet to find anything on youtube or other internets when anyone asks either of them about this blessed event. MISSION: Next time someone’s at a convention and either is present, please please ask them about this!!!

        “But, hey, I had no idea CC was on bulletin boards back in the day!! I would *LOVE* to have been a fly on that virtual wall. Did he talk about where he was planning to take the show? Oh, man… I wonder what then CC would think of what it all turned into…”

        I was on AOL, Prodigy and Delphi when the show began and there were, like, 20 of us total posting about the series initially. Like me, there were many people on all three services so what appeared to be a hoard were actually a hand full of MSR obsessives. Hilarious!

        I only recall him on Delphi during the first two years because Fox owned the Delphi internet service. (Delphi was text-based, not point and click like Prodigy and AOL ,so it died quickly. I feel so, so very old typing those words….)

        CC was always very vague/never specific about the direction of the series. (In hindsight, not surprising.) Wish I still had those transcripts 😦

        On a side note, during this nascent XF time home Internet access began to propagate when AOL went to $20 per month; other services were charging BY THE HOUR for access… Can you imagine????? MANY CREDIT CARDS DIED TO BRING ME THAT XF INFORMATION….

        And one more side note, the Babylon 5 junkies had a field day because B5’s creator and main (like 90% of the scripts for the entire run) writer, JMS, was constantly online and engaging with fans via usenet. He was truly a pioneer when it came to fan engagement (for good or for ill).

        • I FEEL cheated b/c there is no footage of this blessed event.

          Dear sweet baby jesus on a saltine cracker, why is there not a guest editing function??

        • I agree with both Kim and Chris. Time does seem to stop for them because they go into their own little world.

          Wait, the MSR train was happening Season 1? See. Their chemistry was crazy from the beginning. Everyone knew what the show didn’t.

          MANY CREDIT CARDS DIED TO BRING ME THAT XF INFORMATION….

          You’re hilarious.

          Wow. I haven’t seen Babylon 5, but of course I know of it. That would explain a lot about its popularity.

          I suspect with the advent of Twitter, CC might be wise to stay away… The fandom is real. These kids don’t hold back.

  7. Pingback: Trust No 1 9×8: You can’t do that to me! | Musings of an X-Phile

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  10. Breaking Bad tie-in. The game warden also played Spooge’s woman of “I ain’t no skank” /ATM head squishing fame. Knew it the second I heard her voice.

  11. Pingback: Founder’s Mutation 1×5: You don’t like cats? | Musings of an X-Phile

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  14. Just finished this episode, first time watching this show and I really wish existence would’ve just been the last episode. I haven’t seen the real ending yet, but I just can’t stand the thought of another Mulder-free season. Hell, I could barely pull myself through this one and he came back half way through. I even watched one of the older episodes to cheer me up. While watching season 8 I was very careful about spoilers and I didn’t even know Mulder would be gone so long ( and eventually would be leaving the show in season 9 [insert yelling, crying and childishly blaming David Duchovny for not returning] ) I didn’t (and still don’t) care about Dogget and Reyes, I just wanted to watch Mulder and Scully back solving X-files. I didn’t care for the pregnancy, or the baby, or anything else that kept them apart for what should’ve been their last episodes together!!

  15. I liked the episode but I moronically did not catch the OVERT Jesus references until after I watched it. With that in mind, yeah. It was a bit over the top.

    The last scene was pretty good from a shipper pov but also for the series as a whole as you state it was their last scene together.

    Well, I think there is room for the series to continue but will 1013 and CC do it justice? Onwards to the last season.

  16. I liked Doggett; I thought that he and Scully (once she got over her issues of working with someone other than Mulder) were actually far more effective as an investigative pair than her and Mulder.

    Doggett actually showed some good character evolution over the season; he starts off quite contemptuous of the X-Files and Scully’s claims but gradually comes to believe that not everything has a logical explanation. He certainly seems to highly respect Scully as an agent and becomes very protective of her – in fact, he often seems to be crushing on her and although happy for Scully that Mulder returns, also seems sad about it and not because of the X-Files.

    What I liked about Doggett is that just because he’s seen some things that clearly prove there is more ‘out there’, he doesn’t immediately start believing in everything. He’s a typical straightforward only believing what he sees type of cop and I think it works but he is still fully committed to the investigation in hand.

    I’m another one who thought it beyond strange that Mulder would send Scully off without him to have the baby. Didn’t we just have Mulder saying that he would do everything to protect her and the baby? Why would he think that sending her off without him would do that? Unless he hoped to misdirect ‘them’ by still being seen dashing around DC hunting the ‘super-soldiers’ etc.

    It was funny but this episode I found Scully to be the least convincingly pregnant than previous episodes. She was moving around just a bit too easily for someone who is 9 months pregnant; in the episodes leading up to this, she ‘waddled’ around more with her walk, which (sorry ladies!) is something that heavily pregnant women tend to do, as a natural consequence of having to carry around another being.

    The final moments of the episode are where it should have been left for the Mulder/Scully arc; that was a beautiful scene and if DD wasn’t coming back for season 9, they should have left it without the Scully character too. They could have still used Scully in a consulting capacity for information or even have her performing a test or an autopsy etc but no need to have the ‘everyone is after my baby’ arc or Mulder on the run element.

    The Mulder/Scully scenes were a reminder of why we loved the show but unfortunately the quality of the story arcs had fallen short. When I think of the show, it’s for the earlier seasons rather than the later ones.

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