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?
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.
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.
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.
*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?
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.