Tag Archives: Biogenesis

Season 9 Wrap Up – There’s a lot of crap to cut through.


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Unbreak my heart.

“Working on a demanding show like The X-Files can take its physical toll on a person. I kept at it pretty regularly for the entire nine seasons,” Chris continues. “All I can say is on the last season of the show, I was writing or re-writing a lot and I would take a nap every day. As the season went on, it became two naps a day. Those nine years caught up with me pretty fast.” – LAX-Files, pg. 220

I would love to officially close out this rewatch of Season 9 and say that it was wonderful, tragically underestimated and that it exceeded my expectations. I would love to be able to conclude that our two new leads stole the show in every sense of the expression, that in the history of The X-Files, Season 9 was a new creation; old things had passed away, all things had become new.

But I can’t. I’d be lying. A new creation was what we needed, but it’s not what we got.

I don’t want this to turn into a diatribe on Season 9, and I also don’t want to expend any more mental energy on Season 9 than I have to for the sake of completion. So we’ll focus on a few main things that I think might have made the season better.

We needed a new mythology.

Because, no. Tacking on the Super Soldiers to the old mythology did not suffice.

I listed a series of questions in the review for “One Son” (6×12) that the Syndicate mythology still had left to answer when it ostensibly ended. But as of Season 6, the mythology had already grown way past anything the 1013 staff had originally hoped for and lasted well past what they had originally envisioned. It had grown large and unwieldy and Chris Carter decided to scrap it and do something new rather than dig a deeper hole and make it even more confusing. Um, that was the goal, anyway.

He did something “new” in “Biogenesis” (6×22) with alien gods, but it was still directly related to the mythology we were already familiar with. Then, with Mulder bowing out in Season 8, the Super Soldiers were introduced so that the new team, Doggett and Reyes, would have something fresh and scary to go up against. But the mystery of the Super Soldiers was tied to the mystery of the alien gods – was tied to the mystery of the Syndicate – was tied to the era of Mulder and Scully. We don’t have to play a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with it, either. The Super Soldiers went directly after Mulder and Scully’s baby and are working for the alien colonists that Mulder and Scully are working against. You can’t think of the Super Soldiers without thinking of the history of Mulder and Scully.

By the time we get to Season 9, not only are we more confused than ever by the connections between the conspiracies, but Doggett and Reyes aren’t on their own turf, they’re still effectively playing in Mulder and Scully’s sandbox. They’ve inherited a through-line so convoluted that:

“I looked at what many people had written about the mythology,” Spotnitz said, “and I was alarmed at how many people who are extremely knowledgeable about the show and had followed it religiously had drawn false conclusions and false connections between things… It was an amazingly complicated, sometimes convoluted conspiracy. I’m just astonished people stuck with it for as long as they did.”

But when I say that we needed a new mythology, I don’t just mean a plot that was brand new for Doggett and Reyes and for the audience. I mean we needed a new mythology because this one’s plot was a complete failure. The most interesting thing about it was how hard it bombed.

Please, no more alien gods. No more alien babies. No more god-like alien baby messiahs. And for the love of all that is Scully, if you’re going to write in a miracle child, don’t erase him like you wrote him on a whiteboard. No takesies backsies!

We needed the leads to star in their own show.

I think the plan to attach the fans to Doggett and Reyes by bonding them to Mulder and Scully, while it may have been the only plan available in Season 8, backfired. They became in effect, sidekicks; the less interesting sequel to a massive summer blockbuster.

I do believe they could have stood on their own as characters and that they had their own chemistry as a partnership. Yes, they started off as a reheated rehash of the Skeptic-Believer dynamic, which as I explain in the review for “Daemonicus” (9×3), probably should have stayed unique to Mulder and Scully. But they did prove in episodes like “4-D” (9×5), “John Doe” (9×7), and  “Audrey Pauley” (9×13) that they could hold their own and had the potential to build a unique dynamic. They needed cases that were suited to their strengths as a partnership rather than Mulder and Scully’s strengths. They needed to be free of Scully as the third wheel and free from the shadow of MSR. And they needed a quest all their own.

With Mulder and Scully, they had their marching orders from the Pilot (1×79). We knew why they were here and what they were doing. And while they were waylaid by Monster of the Week pitstops, we knew they were searching for something bigger in the X-Files and that these cases were merely detours or the chance to pick up small pieces of a larger puzzle. And both agents had not only a larger truth to prove or disprove, but they had personal reasons for being invested in their work; Mulder because of his sister and Scully because of her science.

Doggett and Reyes are never given their own mission or personal impetus to investigate the X-Files – No, Doggett’s crush on Scully doesn’t count as a personal impetus, nor does Reyes’ interest in Doggett.

Their fight against the Super Soldiers is an inherited fight. The closest thing Doggett has to a connection with the conspiracy is that an old, somewhat distant friend turned out to be a Super Soldier. Reyes? That her boss and former lover is nebulously aware of a conspiracy that he’s not directly a part of. If we’re being honest, the only reason they’re here is because they’ve become friends with Mulder and Scully. Considering what’s on the line, I don’t think that’s enough.

It was touched on in “Empedolces” (8×17), the idea that Doggett might be here because he wants to prove that there was nothing in the X-Files that could have helped his son. Unfortunately, this was never fully developed as a concept. Reyes’ reasons for investigating are even less developed. She gets “feelings” about cases and has a background in Religion. That makes the X-Files her dream assignment.

A genuine quest all their own, and motivations that carried real emotional weight – those two things could have made a world of difference.

We didn’t need Scully.

We didn’t need Scully or the little uber Scully. They should have run off with Mulder.

Not only did her presence force episodes to take precious time away from developing Doggett and Reyes as characters, her presence also inevitably invited comparison, conscious or not, to the time when Mulder and Scully used to investigate the X-Files. That inevitable comparison inevitably came out in Mulder and Scully’s favor, to the detriment of Doggett and Reyes’ budding partnership.

In fact, episodes like “Trust No 1” (9×8) and “Providence” (9×11) downright turned Doggett and Reyes into Scully’s sidekicks. They became supporting players in the continuing saga of Mulder and Scully instead of leads in their own, less melodramatic drama.

And even when the story had nothing to do with Scully, the script had to make room for her, whether she was useful to the plot or not. Most of the time, she wasn’t.

She spends the majority of the season doe eyes tearily wet with thoughts of Mulder. Either that or she’s crying out, “My baby! My baby!” O Scully, Scully. Wherefore art thou, Scully? What happened to the feisty redhead I once knew? The enigmatic doctor? The lofty example of female intelligence?

Just like that, the legacy of television’s favorite duo is cheapened into a tale of star crossed lovers and their accursed love child.

There has to be an end, Scully.

“If you ask me, we should have ended it two years ago,” Anderson said when the news was announced. “They couldn’t have found two better actors than Robert and Annabeth to take over, but the show was about Mulder and Scully.”

It was about Mulder and Scully and, unfortunately, it never stopped being about Mulder and Scully even when Mulder and Scully were gone. “The Truth” (9×19/20) only confirmed that fact. I second Gillian’s feelings – Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish did an excellent job. The failure of the show wasn’t Doggett and Reyes’ fault. The failure had everything to do with business, the logistics of network television, and most of all, the writing.

In order for Season 9 to have worked, we needed a clean break with the past. We needed two new heroes on a new quest with new perspectives, new dynamics and new enemies. Instead, we got Doggett, Reyes, Skinner, Follmer, Frohike, Langly and Byers playing the dwarves to Scully’s Snow White. (I would have included Kersh, but that’s not seven anymore, is it?)

What we needed, really, was a spinoff. Now, I know very well that wouldn’t have happened, but in an ideal world and all that.

It was just a shame to see this iconic, legendary show that provided so much joy over the years end its run on a low note. Then again… without a proper death, resurrection means nothing. I’m so glad I can look back and say this wasn’t really the end.

On that note of hope, here are the final set of awards for the series proper:

Give it Another Shot

Sunshine Days

Gave it Another Shot

Improbable

No More Shots

Provenance

Best Shot

Audrey Pauley

Long Shot

Underneath

Shoot Me

Jump the Shark

Shoot the TV

William

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Providence 9×11: You don’t need to put yourself through this.


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Whew. I’m so relieved to be able to say I like this more than “Provenance” (9×10).

When we last spoke, The X-Files had bitten off more than it could chew in the storytelling department. Does “Providence” aid in digestion? Well, let’s sum up the mythology as stands as of the end of this episode, shall we?

Once upon a time, there was a man with the improbable name of Josepho. Josepho fought in the Gulf War and led a squad of soldiers on a failed mission. All of his men died. Josepho himself was about to die, when he saw men, like angels, throw themselves into what should have been certain death and survive. On that day, Josepho realized that he’d been given a vision, a vision of otherworldly beings come to deliver mankind. And you know he had a vision because he cried blood. Yes.

Josepho took his message to the people and started his own UFO cult. The cult worshipped the aliens as gods who would eventually return to earth to save humankind. Josepho himself heard from “God” on the regular.

Then one day, Josepho learned of a prophecy, either from “God” directly or he read it on one of the Holy-Special-Sacred Spacecraft. The prophecy was similar to the Navajo one alluded to by Albert Hosteen in “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×2), because as you know, Native Americans are automatically closer to “God” than the white man and with indigenous peoples lie the secrets of life.

Albert Hosteen: I was hoping to see your partner.
Scully: He’s missing.
Albert Hosteen: You must save him.
Scully: He’s very ill.
Albert Hosteen: You must find him before something happens not only for his sake, for the sake of us all.

Scully: [Regarding Native American Beliefs and Practices, Chapter 3 – “The Anasazi – An Entire Native American Indian Culture Vanishes Without a Trace – History as Myth and end of the world symbolism. Apocalypse and The Sixth Extinction.”] It’s all here, sir. A foretelling of mass extinction, a myth about a man who can save us from it. That’s why they took Mulder. They think that his illness is a gift, protection against the coming plague.

The prophecy said that there would be a messiah. (FYI: Mulder wasn’t it.) It also said, apparently, that the messiah would bear a strong resemblance to Darth Vader because he could play on either side of the force. If the messiah and his human father lived, the messiah would lead humanity against colonization. If the messiah lived and his father died, he would lead the Super Soldiers in the colonization charge. Ergo, from the point of view of the UFO cult and the Super Soldiers who both want colonization, the father had to die so that the messiah could lead them. Or, if the father remained alive, then the messiah would have to be killed so as to kill the resistance.

And so, Josepho and his people made it their business to try to kill Fox Mulder because, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, William is the “Jesus” of our little Space Soap Opera. The F.B.I. found out about these threats against a former one of their own and sent Agent Comer in undercover to find out what the cult was up to and stop them. Comer heard about the prophecy and witnessed enough to believe it. He also heard that Fox Mulder was dead.

Then, like any sane human being who wants to prevent the end of the world, he made it his personal mission to kill William. After all, if Mulder is dead and William lives then colonization will most certainly take place. However, Comer didn’t count on Scully who went all Psycho Mama Bear on Comer, put brotherman in the hospital, and saved her baby.

If you’re keeping track, this now means humankind is in danger since Mulder is dead and William is alive.

Scully only temporarily saved her baby, however, as he’s then kidnapped by Overcoat Woman. The inventively named Overcoat Woman brought him back to the UFO cult and they just held him and stuff.

Again, if you’re keeping track, she didn’t kill him because they believed Mulder had already been killed and they wanted William alive to lead colonization.

Josepho, who I now pronounce the villain of our tale, called Scully and dangled William’s life in front of her. He and Scully met and he revealed that Mulder was likely still alive, but he wanted Scully to rectify that.

Josepho: If you want to see the boy, you’ll bring me the head of Fox Mulder.
{Editor’s Note: Snort.}

Scully had no intention of doing that so she and Reyes secretly, and rather easily, followed Josepho back to his lair. They arrived right as the Holy-Special-Sacred Spacecraft Josepho had been trying to open activated at William’s cry. Unfortunately for Josepho, the Holy-Special-Sacred Spacecraft liked William but didn’t feel the same about his new friends. “God” killed the cult, left William alive for Scully to find, and flew off into the night.

Is that all vaguely clear? Is the mythology coming together for you?

Now let this sink in: You can disregard almost everything you learned in “Essence” (8×20) and “Existence” (8×21). The Super Soldiers never wanted to kill Baby “Jesus” William. Quite the contrary, they wanted to protect him. Oh, and you can likely discount “Nothing Important Happened Today” (9×1), “Nothing Important Happened Today II” (9×2) and “Trust No 1” (9×8) because while there may be many Super Soldier babies, there is only one messiah. William’s conception was different than the others.

Mulder: [Voiceover] How did this child come to be? What set its heart beating? Is it the product of a union? Or the work of a divine hand? An answered prayer? A true miracle? Or is it a wonder of technology, the intervention of other hands? – “Essence”

Scully: I need to know if it’s really God I have to thank. – “Provenance”

Skinner: [To Krycek] You wanted to destroy her child.
Krycek: I wanted to destroy the truth before they learn the truth.
Mulder: That there’s a God… a higher power. – “Essence”

This plot is crazy, so let’s have a rundown, shall we?

Where did William come from?

Mulder and Scully had sex. And God.

So basically he’s just like everyone else?

Yes. Only with superpowers.

Why did God create William?

Probably because God loves humanity and these aliens attempting colonization are messing with His children. He gave mankind William to save them.

I thought Scully was infertile?

She was. But God gave her back her fertility because… William. Quite likely, the contact she made with the spaceship in “Biogenesis” (6×22) brought her womb back to life. Those ships bring everything else back to life, so why not?

The spaceship made her pregnant?

Sorta kinda. It’s like the virgin birth only it’s nothing like the virgin birth.

And that’s why William has superpowers?

It was an alien influence, yes.

I thought the spaceship belonged to the colonists?

At this point, not much is clear. At no point will it be.

Why did Krycek want to kill William?

Because Mulder was dead/dying in “Deadalive” (8×15) and he wanted to kill William so that he wouldn’t live to usher in colonization.

Then what was Krycek up to in “Essence”?

He really wanted William to live now that Mulder was okay. He was likely telling Mulder the truth, for once. He was on the side of the resistance and was double crossing the Super Soldiers by leading them away from William.

Then what was Krycek up to in “Existence”?

He had likely switched sides yet again, had given up on keeping William safe and had joined up with the Super Soldiers. That’s the only reason he’d be willing to kill Mulder with William still alive out there somewhere.

So the Super Soldiers didn’t kill William at the end of “Existence” because…

Because they want him to lead them.

So then, the Super Soldiers didn’t kill Mulder at the end of “Existence” because…

I don’t know. You got me.

Whew! Okay. There you have it, folks. The “Provenance” of William is that “God” healed Scully and allowed her to conceive for the purposes of “Providence.” He’s living proof that God is at work. It only took nearly three years to make any sense out of what I saw as far back as “Biogenesis.” Strike that, it took me seventeen years. But I was really paying attention this time.

Dear X-Files, I love you. But let’s leave the Space Saga to Star Wars, shall we?

Verdict:

“The Truth” was out there, but it’s been buried under cryptic revelations and misleads for so long that, quite frankly, I care one minced oath less than Rhett Butler.

Even if I did care, the whole thing is hard to believe even within the context of the series. William as the new son of God? Does that seem like too much to you? It is. It’s too much. Mulder and Scully were just a guy and a gal solving cases, fighting spooks and beasties, and searching for the truth in life. Now Mulder and his miracle son are the subject of ancient prophecy and destined to change the fate of the cosmos.

One thing I must say, Chris Carter is often accused of having made it up as he went along, but I finally see in this episode that he was planning for the eventuality of these developments as far back as the end of Season 6. There is a plan here. But it’s much harder to follow than the mythology of the early years and even harder to swallow. It’s too crazy, too grand, too epic and too mythic.

Still, it was a crazy, grand, epic, mythic ride while it lasted.

B-

Thoughts:

Who *is* speaking to Josepho?

Where does this cult get the money or the technology for these digs? How did they find what the rest of the world hasn’t? Through whoever or whatever is speaking to Josepho?

The verse Josepho quotes is not from Ephesians, it’s from Ezekiel. We know Scully went to Sunday School so I’m not sure how she got that pop quiz wrong. I realize both books share an “E” but they’re otherwise separated by about three hundred pages and five hundred years. All that effort to find a relatively unknown Bible verse to suit the story and no one checked the reference?

All three of the Lone Gunmen wouldn’t ID the suspect in the same place at the same time.

If they had a tracker on the baby why didn’t Scully try that immediately?

I’m not buying Scully as Jack Bauer. A few seasons ago she was much more believable when she threatened somebody.

If Scully was given her fertility back in “Amor Fati” then the doctors’ reports were most certainly wrong in “Per Manum” (8×8) OR the events of that episode took place before “Amor Fati” in Season 6, which would certainly make more sense in terms of where Mulder and Scully appear to be in their relationship. Raspychick even suggested that in the comments for “Per Manum”.

Scully runs in the darkness yelling for William as she approaches the cult’s base. Shhh, woman! They’ll know you’re coming!

And it’s official: Reyes is a sidekick.

Doggett’s experience in the hospital also underscores the message that there’s a God, Providence, working behind all of this.

Josepho worships the aliens as God, but you see where that left him. Fried, died and laid to the side.

So Toothpick Man, the new Cigarette-Smoking Man, is an alien replicant/Super Soldier. That reveal isn’t as shocking or interesting as it should be.

When did God come to Jesus on a mountain top? I know Satan came to Jesus in the wilderness…

Provenance 9×10: My baby! They’re after my baby!


 

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Because I accentuate the positive.

This is really… not good.

The X-Files’ underwear is showing. Not just right now, these last several seasons have exposed the the show’s weaknesses. Like a tragic Greek hero, the same things that made it great were the same things that caused its eventual downfall. It couldn’t sustain itself indefinitely the way it was.

“Provenance” is concrete proof that Season 9 was doomed to fail. It wasn’t 9/11 turning America off of conspiracies. It wasn’t the viewers that refused to come back after the season premiere. It’s because it wasn’t very interesting. Period.

Now, it tries very, very hard to be interesting. But I don’t care how hard you whisper it, whispering doesn’t make it so.

Back in Season 3 for instance, this style of drama that made up the mythology episodes worked. It was groundbreaking. It was epic. Even now, those old episodes stand the test of time because when you watch those, you feel like it all means something, like it’s all headed somewhere. “Provenance” is a rote exercise in trying to shock and awe the audience with impossible truths of universal import. Without any soul to back the action up it’s all sound and fury, signifying nothing. The emptiness of performance is exposed.

The routine, more or less, goes a little like this.

Impossible event.
Dangled proof.
Rogue F.B.I. agent.
Intensely whispered conversations.
Monumental inferences.
Dangled questions.

The end.

It’s tired to be sure. But like a good old-fashioned Monster of the Week episode, it might still have worked if the material itself was interesting. Too bad it isn’t.

It’s been so long since I’ve watched most of Season 9 that I forgot they did this. I thought we had let this die, but we’re back to the alien gods plot thread from “Biogenesis” (6×22). You know a plot is too weighty and unwieldy when even Gillian Anderson can’t sell it convincingly. The implications of the new era mythology can’t possibly be handled properly in primetime.

But they do try and the scene where Scully gives the rundown on this madness to Reyes, and simultaneously to the audience, is quite possibly the low point of the entire series. It’s all oblique revelations whispered intensely and pregnant pauses that pretend to give birth to meaning but only pass wind. I’ve had enough of watery eyes, shallow breathing and searching glances, thank you. Give me a story I can get excited about!

And for most of it, there’s no score from Mark Snow to take some of the emotional burden off of the actresses who are clearly working hard for their money. All I can hear are these ridiculous words and they don’t stand up on their own. Devoid of clothing they sound worse.

Is The X-Files really going to reveal the secrets to all mysteries and all knowledge? Are they really going to give us “The Truth” as more than a shadowy conspiracy of men and the secrets they hide? No. And since it can’t, it had better stop feigning that it can.

All Mulder’s search ever was was an allegory of one man’s search for God and I understand that. It should have stayed that. It was much more compelling that way. Once upon a time The X-Files was about a guy and a girl chasing ghosts and bringing conspiracies to light. Now it’s all cosmic prophecy and baby messiahs.

Yeah, so, about Baby “Jesus” William… he’s really the problem here.

The plot surrounding him, surrounding his “origins” as the title of this episode would invite us to ponder, is turning Scully stupid. And I don’t just mean she’s making foolish decisions, which she has all season. She’s becoming a truly uninteresting character and that’s making me slightly resentful.

But back to Baby “Jesus” William…

Maggie Scully: I know you’re worried about him, that there are things about him that you just can’t explain. But even if you were to get those answers what would it change?
Scully: Mom, he’s my child.
Maggie Scully: And you have to love him and raise him in spite of everything. Dana, God has given you a miracle. A child that wasn’t supposed to be. Maybe it’s not to question, just to be taken as a matter of faith.
Scully: Mom, I can’t take this on faith. I need to know. I need to know if it’s really God I have to thank.

Herein lies the key issue of this two-parter. It’s not “who” William is but “how” he is. But part of the problem with asking “how” he came to be is that it’s not a question that can be so easily divorced from the issue of his paternity, an issue that was fried, boiled and overbaked in Season 8. Chris Carter is telling us to ask, “How?” but all we can hear is, “Does this mean Mulder’s his daddy or not?” Maybe if the episode were clearer we would hear, “How did Scully become fertile again?

As I said, William is the root of all evil as far as Season 9’s bloated mythology is concerned. And I know what you’re thinking. “If the baby needs to die, why doesn’t somebody just kill the baby?? Yet if you’ll humor me, we’ll wait to discuss him in excruciating detail next episode. That’s when the chaos around him begins to make sense… not good sense, but sense. There is a method to Chris Carter’s madness. It may just be revealed a little too late. The viewing public’s goodwill wears thin.

Verdict:

You know, it’s not just the content of the plot, it’s the way it’s presented. It’s very hard to follow, much crazier than the mythology ever used to be. Where it was vague before, it’s opaque now. Where it was slow to reveal before, it backtracks now. Wait till you see how much it backtracks in “Providence” (9×11)…

Just so long as you understand that all of this is of the greatest import and magnitude. If you don’t hurry up and understand that, they may resort to whispering it even more forcefully.

The MOTW episodes are flagging. The legacy of MSR is on life support. The mythology is shot to pieces.

Pop me on a shish kebab. I’m done.

D

Comments:

Doggett’s a regular Mulder now. Unbridled insubordination, showing up where he has no business being, taking things he has no business taking.

Doggett and Follmer spar like equal rivals, not like a boss and his upstart subordinate.

The travel times are unreal. A man attempts to cross the border one night. Border Patrol finds the rubbings and immediately turns them over the the F.B.I.? The F.B.I. recognizes them as part of an X-File and summons Scully the next morning. Scully warns Doggett and Reyes something’s up. Doggett flies to North Dakota where he finds Follmer already there and working a scene that hasn’t been cleared yet, this despite the fact that Follmer was at the meeting with Scully that morning.

Scully’s rubbings had covered the entire spacecraft? The pile of papers didn’t look that huge.

I’m with Maggie Scully. Scully doesn’t seem all that interested in actually raising the baby. She keeps defending him as her real son, but then acts like she believes he’s something altogether different.

And if the aliens are God, then shouldn’t you stop fighting against them? But it’s really not clear if they are God or if they’re at war with God and have somehow interfered with the human race.

We can easily dismiss the notion that Mulder’s dead. Not only do we know Chris Carter would never kill him offscreen, but David Duchovny is scheduled to appear in the series finale. So we are unmoved.

The ONLY moment I find worthwhile in this episode is watching Scully hand baby William over to the Lone Gunmen. That’s still not worth my watching this ever again in life.

Essence 8×20: Pissing people off comes with the territory.


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Of course it’s a conspiracy, Scully.

The essence of “Essence” is the question posed by Mulder’s final voiceover on The X-Files: Was Scully’s baby conceived by human intervention, alien intervention, or by a miracle of God?

If that question sounds familiar, it’s because it was the same question posed in “Per Manum” (8×8).

I did warn you they’d drag this issue out, didn’t I?

Scully’s baby has taken over the mythology. It’s the sun that everything else orbits around, for good and for ill. The episode even opens with Scully’s baby shower because, surprise! Scully still has friends. Though I confess I think there a disproportionate number of redheads in the crowd, one of whom is the suspiciously accommodating Lizzy Gill. Lizzy is introduced to Scully by Maggie Scully, who at long last has been written back into the series, as a potential nursemaid. That whole switching prescription pills behind Scully’s back thing should probably disqualify her though.

While Scully’s celebrating with the girls, Mulder is exploring doubts we never knew he had. It looks like Scully filled him in on the events of “Per Manum” and he enlists Doggett in attempting to make absolutely sure that Scully’s baby isn’t actually some alien abomination.

What they find out with the help of Krycek and Lizzy Gill is that Dr. Lev and Dr. Parenti of “Per Manum” fame both worked for the Syndicate. The Syndicate sponsored their experiments on human cloning and alien-human hybridization. Even though the Syndicate is long gone, their money continued and so did the work.

That much I understand, but I’m having trouble understanding how all this fits together with what we already learned in “Per Manum”. So please pardon me while I try to gather my thoughts:

  • Scully sees Dr. Parenti as a fertility specialist.
  • The IVF treatment isn’t successful.
  • Scully gets pregnant, possibly the old fashioned way.
  • Dr. Parenti, with scientists Duffy Haskell and Lizzy Gill, recognizes that Scully’s baby is something special. They monitor her pregnancy.
  • Duffy Haskell poses as the husband of an abductee and visits Scully at the X-Files in order to tip her off about Dr. Parenti’s experiments.
  • Duffy Haskell indicates over the phone to an accomplice, probably Lizzy Gill, that this is all in an effort to gain access to Scully’s baby.
  • Scully is suspicious and has her baby’s health and status verified independently. Everything checks out.
  • Because of Scully’s suspicions, the plan to gain access to Scully by making her suspicious fails. Go figure. Lizzy Gill resorts to posing as a nursemaid instead.
  • Dr. Parenti and Duffy Haskell are both killed by the human replacement version of Billy Miles who is destroying the work of the alien-human hybrid experiments on behalf of the aliens.
  • Lizzy Gill doesn’t confirm or deny experimentation on Scully, but she insists that there’s nothing wrong with Scully’s baby, that quite the contrary, it’s a perfect human with no frailties, and that it wasn’t created in a lab.
  • Lizzy Gill gives no indication of how she could possibly know this.

I still don’t understand how hinting to Scully that there might be something wrong with her baby because of Dr. Parenti would in any way give them greater access to her. Maybe I never will.

I’m not sure Mulder fully grasps the situation either, but Lizzy Gill’s assurances that Scully’s baby is not alien only serve to make him for frightened for Scully and her baby’s safety. Sure enough, Billy Miles is on his way to.. what?

It seems like Billy Miles is going to kill Scully right before Krycek comes and saves the day. But then again, the events of the next episode make me wonder what it was he was really planning to do. We’ll leave that question in the air until next time.

Ah, yes. Krycek. He’s back. I admit that as happy as I am to see him… those old guard villains on The X-Files had a certain something, didn’t they?… I’m growing weary of the way he’s being used. Krycek has always been an enigma, conveniently allying himself with one side and then the other. But since the end of the Syndicate he seems to show up not according to rhyme or reason, but when the story needs a way out or the audience needs to wake up. He’s been reduced to a plot device, an unusually good looking boogey man.

I’m not saying he’s completely useless here. If his intel is to be believed, and all indications is that he’s mostly telling the truth this time, then he’s given us invaluable information on the human replacements. They really are trying to eliminate any attempts at alien-human hybridization and therefore take away our ability to survive the coming colonization. That’s why they killed Dr. Lev, Dr. Parenti and Duffy Haskell.

The replacements also have their sights on Scully’s baby, not because it’s a successful experiment, but because it’s better than that. It’s a miracle. How they know that, we don’t know. But they’re afraid that the human perfection that Scully’s baby represents will present a threat to them and to colonization. And they aren’t the only ones who pose a threat.

Skinner: You wanted to destroy her child.
Krycek: I wanted to destroy the truth before they learn the truth.
Mulder: That there’s a God… a higher power.

Whew! There’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear Mulder utter. It seems that Chris Carter is trying to take the parallels about the search for God hidden in Mulder’s search for the truth and make them overt again, although admittedly and gratefully in a different way from what he tried in “Biogenesis” (7×22). Then the aliens were God, now they have to answer to God. I rather wish he’d taken Mulder’s spiritual evolution somewhere, and this idea that the baby was a gift from God not only to Scully but to humanity, a little further.

Part of what makes me think Carter was headed somewhere along those lines was the naming of these two episodes, “Essence” and “Existence” (8×21). They’re philosophical terms describing more or less “what we are” and “that we are”; in other words, “what is the baby” and “the baby is.” Likely he wanted to get into the baby’s cosmological purpose somehow, but that goal seemed to get lost in the shuffle of Season 9. We’ll get there.

As Doggett points out, Krycek’s words and his actions toward the baby are inconsistent. What else is new, right? I do wish I knew why a man who when we last saw him was planning to Fight the Future then tried to kill the future in the form of Scully’s baby. You’d think he’d try to kidnap it instead. But like I said, Krycek as a character doesn’t make much sense anymore. He was always wily, but he used to make sense.

Mulder believes him enough to entrust Scully to him, though, and that’s enough for me complete insanity.

Verdict:

I was oddly into “Essence” this watch. Season 8 has been hedgingly vague and somber, even for The X-Files. I finally got some answers and some action. I’m still not exactly clear on everything, but I’m clearer.

Considering this is Mulder’s second to last episode, I could still wish he and Scully had more time together. But all hopes of enjoying their teamwork right up until the end are dashed. There’s too much information that needs to be disseminated, too many characters that need to be worked into the plot. Not to mention, Scully’s physically out of commission and Mulder’s officially out of the F.B.I..

We did get a very cute, domesticated moment from the two of them, though. And in front of Agent Doggett, no less!

What always cracks me up, though, is Skinner giving Mulder the “What are your intentions toward my daughter” speech. Mulder tries to do the honorable thing and not say, but by not saying he’s saying. If he weren’t in the running to be the father, he’d just say so.

Somebody, anybody just say so. I’m weary of waiting to hear the official word on where this baby came from. Out with it already.

B+

Cryptic Comments:

So now we know what Doggett does on his days off. He cleans his gun and watches Nascar.

Mulder keeps saying “your baby” and “her baby.” Own it, dude. We know whose bed your boots have been under.

Denise Crosby’s playing doctor again. She was also in “Empedolces” (8×17).

Curiosities:

Mulder and Doggett break into Dr. Parenti’s office and no alarm goes off. That wasn’t a clue that someone was in there?

Later, why does Billy Miles leave Mulder and Doggett alive in Dr. Parenti’s office?

Best Quotes:

[As Billy Miles advances toward them]
Scully: Mulder, lock your door.
Mulder: I don’t think that matters much, Scully.

———————

Doggett: What is it exactly we’re looking for being I’m starting to piss a lot of people off, Mr. Mulder?
Mulder: Pissing people off comes with the territory, Agent Doggett. It’s part of working on the X-Files.
Doggett: Well, at the risk of pissing you off I think I’ve wasted about enough of my weekend.
Mulder: Hey, I told you Dr. Lev was a founder of the clinic. Would you like to know who his cofounder was? Dr. Parenti. Agent Scully’s obstetrician through the first two-thirds of her pregnancy.
Doggett: And you think he burned down this clinic?
Mulder: I don’t know, but if I’m the Agent assigned to the X-Files, I sure as hell would want to ask him. Worst it could do is piss him off.

Within 8×1: Nice to meet you, Agent Doggett.


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Hallo from the outside.

Aliens are eliminating evidence. The X-Files department is over budget. Cigarette-Smoking Man is… dead? Krycek’s not. Skinner’s a believer. Scully’s pregnant. Mulder’s been abducted by aliens. Chris Carter got us into this mess, how’s he going to get us out?

And so begins the much maligned Season 8 of The X-Files. I’ll admit I was filled with as much trepidation as anyone at the prospect of a season half without Mulder. Mulder! Chris Carter swore he wouldn’t do The X-Files without David Duchovny, but contract negotiations are a fickle thing. Anyway, there was no way my viewership was about to drop off. I needed resolution. I needed Mulder back.

Scully does too because she’s having his love child. (Boy, I never thought I’d have to type that sentence.) She’s not supposed to be able to get pregnant, so there’s some mystery surrounding that, but Scully seems not to be overly concerned with that right now. Her first priority is finding her baby daddy. Fortunately-Unfortunately for Scully, she and Mulder are still so connected that she’s witnessing his alien torture sessions in her sleep. I’m glad to see that psychic link the two had in “The Blessing Way” (3×1) is still live and intact.

In keeping with Scully’s new position as the Queen of Angst, she’s been given new theme music so that every time she thinks sad thoughts about Mulder we can know about it. It’s good. It’s mournful. Slightly hopeful. It gets old fast. Fast. For those of you who are starting Season 8 for the first time, just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait.

For the sake of interest, Chris Carter can’t let Scully find Mulder too quickly or easily. Here to serve as roadblocks are the newly promoted Deputy Director Kersh, back as the Boss from Hell, and Agent John Doggett, Kersh’s current golden boy who’s been assigned to find Mulder.

We haven’t seen Deputy Director Kersh since “One Son” (6×12), when he was still Assistant Director Kersh and he handed the X-Files back over to Mulder and Scully, and Mulder and Scully back over to Skinner. Kersh was always a bit of a mystery, since he never quite appeared to be a part of the Syndicate conspiracy, yet he was an unsympathetic obstacle who wouldn’t give Mulder and Scully a break. It seemed he was written to thwart them for thwarting’s sake.

And now? Well, he’s here to thwart Skinner. I’m sure of that. Skinner’s a new believer in aliens, and like any good convert, he wants to share his convictions with the world. Kersh has made it clear that if he does his job is finished. Scully can’t afford to lose both of the g-men in her life, so she persuades Skinner to stay in the closet for the time being. We’ll see how this mini drama plays out over the course of the season, because for the life of me I can’t remember.

Kersh is also here to thwart Scully. I’m sure of that too. What I’m not sure of is whether he’s doing it because he’s a grumpy old man who likes to be difficult or whether he’s receiving orders from on high. If he’s receiving orders from someone, who? CSM is dead(?). The Syndicate is dead. Is there a new conspiracy we need to know about? Please let there be a conspiracy…

As for Doggett, I’m not going to get into a comparison of him and Mulder just yet. We’ll wait until he’s officially Scully’s partner. For now, all we know about him is that he’s capable, trusted, and his experience and assignment both put him at odds with Scully.

What I will talk about are the ridiculous ideas that come out of his mouth. Ideas that make no sense. Ideas that we all know Chris Carter put in his mouth just to tick me off. Because he’s a sadist and he enjoys frustrating his fans.

Doggett implies that Scully may not know Mulder as well as she thinks she does and he keeps on implying it. It becomes a theme of the season: Make Scully doubt her relationship with Mulder.

First of all, Doggett is making the same mistake that Diana Fowley made back in “Biogenesis” (6×22). Never question Mulder’s trust in Scully. That kind of crap she can smell without wind.

And then, what? Mulder was dying before he disappeared? What???

Stop it, Chris Carter. You stop it right there.

What in the Good Queen Bess are you trying to do to me now? It’s not enough that Mulder’s gone, you’ve gotta ruin the memories too? Stop retroactively killing what little joy I found in Season 7! He was happy in Season 7! This doesn’t even fit the timeline!

Let me try to get this straight. In Season 7, Mulder and Scully are sleeping together, but she has no idea he’s traveling nearly four hundred miles round trip every weekend. Mulder’s dying of an incurable disease, but devastated as he was when his mother killed herself after hiding her illness, he plans to keep his disease a secret from Scully. Scully and Mulder are happy as clams almost all of Season 7, but what we didn’t know was that Mulder was merely hiding his suffering. He was showing “clear signs of decline” but they didn’t catch that when Mulder went to the hospital in “Signs and Wonders” (7×9) and “Brand X” (7×19), just to name a couple of times. Things are so dire that he already had his name etched on the family grave stone. And all this he manages to hide from Scully, a doctor so brilliant she can diagnose nearly any disease from a single symptom despite never having practiced medicine.

I call revisionist BS.

You know how I know it’s BS?

“You were my constant, my touchstone.”

That’s how I know. So stop trying to mess with my head. Scully doesn’t appreciate it.

But back to Doggett. His practical methods only emphasize the loss of Mulder who is anything but practical. 1013 is taking the “make it hurt good” approach. They don’t merely leave a hole where Mulder once was, or fill said hole with a replacement of the same ilk; they give us someone completely different so that we’ll feel Mulder’s loss more keenly, so that we’ll resent Doggett and resent him but good. They want to heighten our resentment so as to let it run its course as quickly as possible.

If we had to lose Mulder, I think that the characterization of Doggett and Robert Patrick’s approach to playing him was a perfect choice. As I said, I’m going to hold off on discussing his character a little bit until we get to see him on a real X-File, but he serves as a foil to Scully in her current state; Scully, who misses Mulder so much that she’s trying and failing to become him. I guess that’s supposed to be an interesting bit of character development. I find it annoying and easy, which is why it’s too bad that it’s another theme that sticks around for a while.

Scully is emotionally overwhelmed. She’s so desperate for Mulder, she’s falling asleep in his bed in one of the saddest scenes that ever aired on The X-Files. She’s lashing out at Agent Doggett as though resenting him will somehow bring Mulder back. And she’s referring to the basement office as “Mulder’s office.” Huh? Since when?

Mulder’s become a larger presence absent than he ever was in person.

Verdict:

This can only loosely be called a mythology episode. What it really is is an emotional exploration of the aftermath of Mulder’s disappearance. And it’s a setup for a new web of relationships. It also introduces new recurring themes for the season, mostly centered around Scully’s emotional journey. Lastly and only just barely, it leads us into the next chapter of the mythology.

Interspersed we get a few shots of Mulder Torture. I feel bad for him and all, but I told him not to get on that ship.

On top of that, I’m a little concerned that they might not be using David Duchovny’s eleven episodes wisely. But this is just the beginning of the season and only the first in a two parter. They’ll give him much more to do than this. Right? Right?

For all my irritation and misgivings, I’m relieved. I’m relieved to be into the storyline again. I’m relieved to care. At last, something’s at stake.

B

Fish Food:

The new opening credits are a little on the nose, don’t you think?

The teaser was too, but I liked the lead in from the beating heart of Scully’s baby to Mulder’s heart racing as he’s in the clutches of the aliens. And love that Scully is somehow a conduit for them both.

I know they were making a point of it, but that cup of water to Doggett’s face felt good.

Scully, you’re a doctor. Wash your hands in between touching the toilet and wiping your face.

The idea is to find Mulder’s ship. What do they do once they do? Do they climb aboard? Do they call him to come down?

So Skinner’s calling Scully “Dana” now?

Kersh’s reintroduction is delicious. He starts off nice just to be extra cruel.

The way to ingratiate Doggett to the fans is not by using him to drive an arrow through the heart of the memory of what Mulder and Scully once were. Thanks for that. Thank you soooo much.

The jump from spaceship sightings over Arizona to Gibson Praise is a big jump. How does Scully know he’s still in Arizona?

I assume Gibson’s at a school for the deaf so he doesn’t have to listen to people say things they don’t mean.

Best Quotes:

[Morning in Mulder’s apartment]

Scully: [From Mulder’s bed] What are you doing here?

Doggett: I could ask you the same.

Scully: I came by to feed Mulder’s fish.

Doggett: And then you got tired and decided to take a nap.

————————–

Scully: [In front of the fish tank] What do you want to get on me, Agent Doggett? What is it you hope to find?

Doggett: I’m just trying to find Mulder.

Scully: You wouldn’t know where to look. [Searches shelves for fish food]

Doggett: It’s in the desk, middle drawer.

Requiem 7×22: The hour is at hand.


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This is it. We’ve reached “Requiem”, where the mythology temporarily gets its groove back, where Mulder and Scully come full circle from their first meeting seven years ago in that basement office, and the episode where Chris Carter tries to destroy me.

The title is appropriate because, in many ways, this is a funeral. Not to spoil it for any newbies out there, but Seasons 8 and 9 will go down better if you don’t get your hopes up: This is the end of the Mulder and Scully era of The X-Files.*

I didn’t know that when this first aired. Fox had only officially renewed the series for Season 8 about a week before. All fans of the series knew was that David Duchovny had renewed his contract for eleven episodes for the upcoming season and Gillian Anderson’s contract still hadn’t run out. That translated to an expectation, at least in my household… and by “my household” I mean myself because my family is sane… that there would be a short lull for half a season or so and then David would return and things would get back to normal. What I know now that I didn’t realize then is that I was saying goodbye to The X-Files as I knew it.

The thing is, nobody knew. Through the writing and filming of this episode, Chris Carter didn’t know whether this was going to be a season finale, series finale or a lead-in to an ongoing movie franchise. That explains why he wrote “Requiem” in such a way that it could serve any and all purposes, and so that it could destroy me.

Agent Short: But, at the end of the day you’d say aliens are your real focus.

Mulder: That’s the reason I got started, yeah.

Agent Short: Investigating your sister’s abduction and the government conspiracy around it. Both of which have been resolved, correct?

Mulder: Nothing has been resolved exactly.

Agent Short: In this case report here it’s concluded your sister is dead as well as the men who took her. This is your handwriting here on the report, Agent Mulder?

Mulder: Yeah.

Agent Short: So, what exactly is left to investigate?

At long last, 1013 acknowledges the reason for Season 7’s lack of drive. Frankly, Mulder and Scully have little reason to still be in the game. As Agent Chesty Short points out, the main issues surrounding alien life, government conspiracy and the mystery of Samantha’s abduction have all been resolved. Oh, there are a few finer points and loose threads that haven’t been addressed. And there’s that whole upcoming annihilation of mankind thing, not that Mulder and Scully have been acting like Colonization is still on the horizon. They’ve been meandering across America, well, mostly California, flirtatious and carefree as the day is long. If the answers have been found and the conspiracy is dead, then there’s nothing important left to discover in the X-Files. If the world is still in danger of ending, then it’s time for them to take their mission up a notch and leave the routine behind.

Before the F.B.I.’s auditor can make that decision for them, however, Mulder and Scully get a call from Billy Miles, one of the abductees that was at the center of their first case. There’s been another suspicious disappearance. So they head back to the very plausible state of Oregon for the last time on the F.B.I.’s dime and let the waterfall of nostalgic tears begin.

The renewed activity in Oregon means that plans for colonization are still going forward and the Alien Colonists are cleaning house before it does. The abductees were originally taken and experimented on in order to perfect the science needed to create alien-human hybrids – a slave race that could survive Colonization by the alien Black Oil. That plan is out since the Syndicate is dead, so the abductees are now useless and a liability. They’re evidence waiting to be discovered.

Cigarette-Smoking Man, sick unto death, realizes what the Colonists are up to and wants to capture the ship, and the evidence it holds, before they disappear again. His plan is to restart the conspiracy. Since he’s currently immobile, he calls up Marita Covarrubias who we last saw on the verge of death herself in “One Son” (6×12). But we’ll get assume that at some point she was given an effective vaccine against the Black Oil, because here she is. CSM sends Marita to go fetch Krycek from the Tunisian jail he put him in. The fact that he’s in Tunisia is a tantalizing bit of information since it indicates that the leader of the Syndicate, Strughold, is still alive and restarting the conspiracy isn’t just a far-fetched dream.

So our two teams, Mulder and Scully, Krycek and Marita, head out to Oregon. Mulder and Scully have come such a long way since their first case. I broke my unspoken rule of going backwards and rewatched the Pilot (1×79) in order to compare it to this episode. It’s amazing how recognizable the characters are even after all they’ve been through. But the devoted duo that they are in “Requiem” is not the oddly matched teammates we met at the beginning.

Chris Carter is a sucker for bookends and so am I, so we get to see Mulder and Scully retracing their past not only by reconnecting with the people they met at the start of their journey and revisiting locations that are full of meaning, but Carter even brings the little moments back. Once more, Scully shows up at Mulder’s motel door shaken and stirred and he welcomes her in. It’s the same but it’s worlds different. Then, he comforts her awkwardly and tells her his life story, why he became a nut. He lets his guard down and starts to trust her. She stops seeing his ideas as a joke and starts to bond with him. Now… Oh, now… He takes off her shoes, puts her under the covers while he gentlemanly stays on top of them, holds her close and whispers to her that she’s already lost too much by running around with him and he won’t let her lose any more, because David Duchovny is trying to destroy me.

Mulder says in the Pilot that nothing else matters to him except finding the answers he’s looking for. This is not the same Mulder who now says to Scully, “There’s so much more you need to do with your life. There’s so much more than this. There has to be an end, Scully.” Mulder is betwixt and between. He loves Scully, wants the best for her, and some part of him looks like he could use a break from all this running around himself. We already know that finding out about Samantha’s death was a relief to him because it freed him. It’s not a stretch to think he’s ready to move on from hunting aliens as well. On the other hand, his search for aliens, his search for “Truth” with a capital “T”, his search for God… what is his life without it? He’s just a man who wants to know his place in the universe. That’s not wrong. Which part of Mulder will win in this inner struggle remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Krycek is coming up with zilch on this UFO and they’re running out of time before it takes off again. So once both teams make it back to Washington, D.C., Krycek gets Skinner to spring a surprise meeting on Mulder down in the basement office. This is such a perfectly constructed moment because Skinner shoots the breeze with Mulder for a couple of minutes before Krycek and Marita appear in the doorway behind Skinner. It’s a great surprise. Mulder wasn’t too happy about it, though.

Krycek’s aim is to get Mulder back out to Oregon to look for the ship… again. This is where we’d better go back a bit.

Remember that in “Biogenesis” (6×22), Krycek led Mulder and Scully to the discovery of an ancient alien spaceship. He forced Skinner into assigning them the case by threat of death by nanobot. Rubbings from that spaceship are what activated the dormant Black Oil in Mulder’s brain that he was exposed to in “Tunguska” (4×9), effectively turning him into the first alien-human hybrid immune to the possessive effects of the Black Oil. Mulder’s anomalous brain activity nearly killed him.

It’s hard to say for sure since “Biogenesis” was a little fuzzy around the edges, but it’s likely that Krycek was purposefully leading Mulder to that fate. And it’s likely that he’s purposefully leading him toward contact with the aliens now, knowing that they don’t want a specimen like Mulder running loose. Mulder means the potential survival of the human race. This would explain why Mulder passes the forcefield test. It possibly even explains why the ship didn’t take off until Mulder arrived on the scene. Perhaps they were waiting for him to show up.

Krycek, while he wants to survive, doesn’t want to cooperate with the Colonists and he surely wants to stick it to CSM. By giving the Colonists what they want – Mulder – he’s ensuring their departure and the failure of CSM’s plans. Does he have to destroy CSM’s plans before he throws him down the stairs? No. But it’s so much more evil if you take a man’s legacy before you take his life, isn’t it?

For his part, Mulder doesn’t have reason to trust Krycek so I’m not sure why he does. He already believes there’s a spaceship out there, but he’s come home for Scully’s sake. Now he’s going out to find it again because Krycek says CSM’s behind the disappearances. Methinks Mulder doesn’t really need a lot of convincing. He’s concerned about Scully, but this is a man determined to reach out and touch the face of God.

The good news is that this is an excuse for Mulder to gather all the old gang together before he goes. Skinner, the Lone Gunmen, Krycek, Marita, Mulder, Scully… they all stand at a table together in what’s meant to be a tableau of The Last Supper. And Mulder’s our sacrificial lamb, ready to give his very life for the answers. The one thing he won’t sacrifice – Scully.

Mulder: You’re not going back out there. I’m not going to let you go back out there.

Scully: What are you talking about?

Mulder: It has to end sometime. That time is now.

Scully: Mulder…

Mulder: Scully, you have to understand that they’re taking abductees. You’re an abductee. I’m not going to risk…. losing you.

Scully: [Slowly embraces him] I won’t let you go alone.

A moment of silence for my utter destruction.

True to her word, Scully sends their boss in her place and for the second time in recent history, Skinner’s out in the field. Oh, the lost opportunities. He should have been on the ground with Mulder more. It’s amazing how much affection you can palpably feel between their two characters even though they don’t say or do anything openly demonstrative.

Back in D.C., Scully comes to the realization that she’s not the one in danger, Mulder is. The aliens are taking people who experienced the same anomalous brain activity Mulder did. No sooner does she tell the Lone Gunmen this than she faints. Hmm, Scully’s been looking a little off all episode.

In Oregon, Mulder discovers the force field of the spaceship and decides to walk through it. And in a little room in Florida, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I know it doesn’t even make sense. This episode aired fifteen years ago. I know what happens. I know what happens in the end of the series. I know the show is coming back! But I freak the heck out. Every. Time.

Noooo!!! Mulder!!!! You get back over there!!! You idiot!!!!!! What about Scully????????

That fool. And he looks so resigned. And all the abductees look so peaceful and welcoming. What are they looking peaceful about?? Didn’t the aliens torture them?

You deserve it. You deserve to look scared. Of course there’s a Bounty Hunter. They’re going to kill you. Didn’t I tell you to get back over there????

Okay. I have to stop before my brain explodes. Let’s just say I didn’t see Mulder’s abduction coming. You have to warn people before you rip out their hearts and destroy them.

And poor Skinner. He’s left holding the bag. By the time he shows up at Scully’s bedside he’s crying and ridden with guilt for losing Mulder. (It’s not your fault, Skinner. Mulder’s a stubborn jackass. A sweet, irreplaceable, stubborn jackass.) For her part, Scully looks shell-shocked, though not entirely because of Mulder’s abduction.

Scully: [Crying] We will find him. I have to. [Skinner goes to leave] Sir, um… there’s something else I need to tell you. Something that I need for you to keep to yourself. I’m having a hard time explaining it. Or believing it. But, um… I’m pregnant.

Yep. 1013 has done it. I didn’t see it coming, but they’ve done it. I can’t believe it. They’ve left Scully alone and pregnant.

Help. Somebody. The expressions on her face. I can’t. The grief, sadness, fear, incredulity, hope, joy, panic… I can’t. That emotional intake of breath right before the credits. I can’t. Because Gillian Anderson knows how to destroy me.

Post-Mortem:

Dramatically, this is the perfect way to end an era. It even casts me back to the underlying bleakness of the Pilot. But I can’t fully express my relief that it didn’t end here. After all he and Scully have been through, Mulder suddenly disappearing can’t be the end of the story. It just can’t. Yes, I see the poeticism in Mulder becoming the X-File, on becoming the answer to his own questions, in his meeting the aliens, “God” as it were, face to face. But if The X-Files had ended on a note this sad it would have tainted all my memories of the previous seven seasons. I wouldn’t be able to watch episodes like “Pusher” (3×17) without crying. I might not have been able to watch them at all. My emotions are funny like that. As it is, just knowing “Requiem” exists is enough to make me teary-eyed.

But I have to give credit to writer Chris Carter and the whole team for managing to form this episode in such a way that it could just as easily have been a new beginning as an end. And they positively guaranteed that I’d be watching Season 8.

It tore my heart apart, but it’s a good episode. I’d almost give it an A+ but I’m bitter that it destroyed me.

A

Sweet Nothings:

*Or at least it remains the end until January 24th, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Agent Mulder should focus his efforts – truer words have never been spoken. But then we wouldn’t have had a show.

How glad I am to see a Bounty Hunter again, you don’t know.

Why does the Bounty Hunter also seem to have the memories of the people he transforms into? Is it just because he’s spying on them?

When the Bounty Hunter as Detective Miles opens the trunk of his cruiser to toss in the bag of shell casings, it’s a little too obvious they just want us to see the body of the real Detective Miles in there. A small bag like that you’d keep on your person. You wouldn’t risk popping the trunk so that people could see your guilt.

Mulder tells Scully the personal costs of working on the X-Files is too high. What about if the world ends? Hmm? What then?

Why didn’t they go here with the mythology earlier in the season? Or even at the end of last season? They could have answered the questions about Samantha for the season ender/opener, acknowledge that Mulder and Scully’s work was almost done, then launch this era of the mythology.

We never do find out what Krycek stole from CSM that got him thrown in prison. Did it have to do with the spaceship in “Biogenesis”?

Why don’t these UFO crashes ever happen over highly populated areas?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Is that a lot?

Agent Short: A lot? Gas, expenses… the motel rooms alone. By FBI standards these numbers are out of control.

Mulder: We could start sharing rooms.

———————

Agent Short: If you spend so much time and money looking for aliens, responsibly, you should narrow your search.

Mulder: To where?

Agent Short: Wherever they are. It’s not unreasonable. It’s just a matter of reducing your vision.

———————-

Mulder: I think I’m in big trouble.

Scully: Oh, Mulder, how many times have they tried to shut us down?

Mulder: Yeah, but I never actually assaulted an auditor before.

Scully: Did you hurt him?

Mulder: I reduced his vision a little bit.

 

The Sixth Extinction 7×3: Some truths are not for you.


Don't be subtle or anything, Mulder.

It’s tough being a middle child and “The Sixth Extinction” is the somewhat forgotten child sandwiched between two attention-hungry siblings. “Biogenesis” (6×22) is about the origins of the universe while “The Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati” (7×4) contemplates the coming of the messiah. (Grandiose much?) Bracketed by such life-altering concepts, what job is left for “The Sixth Extinction” to take over?

What I like about this one is that it’s more action oriented than either of the other episodes. Between the plagues, the apparitions, the zombie… Chris Carter was clearly trying to bring the show back to its creepy roots and I appreciate that.

I also wholeheartedly welcome the return of Michael Kritschgau. One wonders what his character must have felt when, after all Kritchgau did for him, giving up his job and his reputation to testify for Mulder, Mulder stops listening to him and turns back to his alien ways. Briefly the thought crosses my mind, “Since when was his character involved in Remote Viewing experiments and since when did Mulder know that?” but it’s quickly hushed. Maybe Mulder can read minds from across the city. I don’t care. What’s a plot point or two between friends?

And some might find his scenes in the hospital with Mulder and Skinner boring, but I think they’re a lot of fun. It’s always a treat to see Skinner get in on the action and I believe his heavy presence here is a harbinger of things to come this season. He doesn’t get his own episode, per se, but he comes out from behind his desk in a major way. I’m also surprised to hear him admit so freely his belief that Mulder’s disease is extra-terrestrial and I suddenly realize that while Skinner’s been involved in the mythology of The X-Files since Season 1, he’s always been on the human side of the plot. To my recollection, he’s never said one way or the other whether he believes the Syndicate’s conspiracy was hiding the truth about alien life, though I suppose his support of Mulder all these years is evidence to that effect.

As for Mulder, I’m dying to know what he’s thinking now that he knows what everybody else is thinking. Ultimately, mind reading is a power I wouldn’t want. Some things are better not to know. But I relish the chance to experience it vicariously and watch Mulder waste away in (mostly) silent angst.

I may even have to rethink my position on that cut scene from “Biogenesis” where Mulder confronts Diana Fowley. Yes, that knock-down, drag-out would have been awesome. But if it had happened in the previous episode I would have been robbed of the thrill of realizing that when Mulder says, “They’re coming,” it’s Diana he’s referring to. Oh, how vindicated I still feel to finally know once and for all that he’s onto her.

Now we come to what I think is the most interesting part of this episode, and not just because I’m a Shipper. Carter sets up two scenes of bedside vigil for the dying Mulder, one with Diana Fowley and one with Scully. We’re invited to compare and contrast their reactions to Mulder’s condition, to the answers that he’s found, and the knowledge that he has, even the knowledge of their own thoughts.

Fowley professes her love for Mulder, and since we know she knows that he knows what’s going on inside her head, she must be telling the truth. She also confesses her allegiance to the Cigarette-Smoking Man, which she defends, though at least she has the grace to look a little embarrassed about it. Most importantly of all, she reveals what sounds like her primary motivation: she and Mulder can be together now that he knows the truth.

Maybe it’s just me, but I get the impression that she’s wanted to tell Mulder all of this all along but couldn’t either because to do so would be to betray her mission within the Syndicate or because she knew how Mulder would react and that she’d lose him forever. Now she’s hopeful that since he can see into her motivations and her reasons, he’ll understand and agree and they can walk into colonization hand in hand, two alien-human hybrid lovers together forever.

Does this woman creep anyone else out?

Seriously. I was having flashbacks of Kathy Bates in Misery. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not so cold-hearted that I don’t feel bad for her. But it’s plain now that she’s doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. She loves Mulder, yes, but it’s a selfish sort of love. She doesn’t want what’s best for him, she wants him for herself. All this time she’s been plotting and scheming, or going along with someone else’s plots and schemes, in hopes that one day she could have Mulder for good with out any pesky alien colonization getting in the way.

Since Mulder plays possum the entire time she’s in the room, I’m going to put it out there and say her chances are looking slim. It’s hard to say what Mulder’s thinking at that moment, but the fact that he masks his awareness in front of Fowley tells us all we need to know. However sincere her feelings may be, he can’t trust her; she’s still on the wrong side.

By contrast, we can see Mulder struggling to focus on Scully when he realizes she’s coming into his hospital room. And what does Scully do when she reaches him? Does she pounce on his silence as an open opportunity to confess her love? No. All she does, all she beautifully, perfectly does is beg him to live. That’s it. She just needs him to hang on.

I don’t even need to comment further – the selflessness speaks for itself.

Verdict:

I have to say that “The Sixth Extinction” is better than I remembered. I’m still not and never will be sold on the premise. (Was the aliens’ master plan to throw the world into confusion by inundating them with conflicting doctrines? Is this a Tower of Babel scenario? Create disunity so mankind can’t get up to too much mischief?) It feels absurd in a way that even alien abductions and a conglomerate of rich old men running de-humanizing tests on an unsuspecting public didn’t. Methinks the origin of life is too vast a topic to handle in primetime. But if you’re going to do something, do it well, and the scope of this production ultimately keeps my interest even if I’m not jumping up and down with excitement.

The focus is quickly shifting from God, aliens, and the origins of the universe to Mulder and the personal consequences of his quest. Early on in the episode, even in his tired state, he seems excited about what he is, happy despite all his suffering to have become the proof he’s been searching for all this time. And yet I start to wonder.

Kritschgau: How far should it go?! How far would Mulder go?!

He’s dying. Mulder has proven many times before that he’s willing to die in this fight, to die for his cause, but does he actually want to? Is it possible that even Mulder, trapped as he is in silent torture, has a limit?

Ah, but then just when I find myself ready to get excited at the emotional possibilities… This.

Dr. Ngebe: It is the word of God.

Oh, for the love of…

B+

Comments:

Hmm. Scully’s hair grew and Mulder’s hair shrank.

Mad props to David Duchovny for best performance of a mute paralytic ever.

Whatever else we get or don’t get from this episode, Scully wielding a machete is pretty cool.

Mulder wrote that note to Skinner awfully neatly for a psychotic man writing in his own blood.

I love that brief shot we get of Skinner from the POV of Mulder’s strapped down leg. It emphasizes how vulnerable Mulder currently is.

Scully looks awfully fresh for a woman who’s just come off of a 22-hour flight.

Scully’s continuing monologue in Mulder’s direction reminds me very much of “Memento Mori” (4×15), only this time Mulder’s the one that’s dying.

The last time Scully was confronted in a car by a supernatural apparition of a black man? “Fresh Bones” (2×15). I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that I can say, “The last time.”

Questions:

I wonder why Mulder attacks Skinner in order to give him the note. Perhaps he didn’t want the doctors, and therefore Diana, to know what he was thinking?

Why is Scully’s tent clean from the outside even though it’s a white tent and bugs are sticking to the inside of the material?

Kritschgau is no longer in the military so where did he find or how did he afford this equipment to test Mulder with? And how did they sneak it into the hospital?

When she threatens him with a machete, Dr. Barnes says to Scully, “Word is you’re under suspicion already!” Suspicion of what?? Killing Dr. Merkallen? He was dead before she came on the case. Killing Dr. Sandoz? She was back in D.C. by then. Is this just a haphazard attempt on Dr. Barnes’ part to deflect suspicion off of himself?

Why would Scully go all the way to the F.B.I. to find out if Mulder’s still at the hospital? You’re a doctor. Call the hospital.

Gibson Praise, well over a year ago, described what it feels like to read minds as hearing lots of different radio stations on at the same time in your head, which seems to be exactly what Mulder’s experiencing. I wonder then, why didn’t Gibson experience side effects? Was his body already used to it because he was born that way? Had his ability been triggered by something alien as well? CSM did brain surgery on Gibson back in the day much in the same way that he’s about to do it on Mulder. What would make this surgery a more successful attempt at hybridization? Is it because Mulder was previously infected with the black oil?

Best Quotes:

Scully: He’s not dying.
Skinner: I’m afraid it’s true.
Scully: He’s not dying. He is more alive than he has ever been. He’s more alive than his body can withstand and what’s causing it may be extraterrestrial in origin.
Skinner: I know. But there’s nothing to be done about it.
Scully: [Turns to leave]
Skinner: They’re going to deny you access.
Scully: Maybe as his partner… but not as his doctor.