Tag Archives: Krycek

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…

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.

Deadalive 8×15: Though he were dead, yet shall he live.


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Merry Christmas to me!

I’ll tell you a secret. Scully is most people’s favorite… Well, Mulder was always my favorite and I’ve been slowly dying during his absence. Lo these many years and I’m starting to think I’ve been in love with the man this whole time. He infuriates me and I can’t live without him. I don’t know if that’s love but it’s close enough.

Scully: He was the last. His father and mother… his sister… all gone. I think the real tragedy, is that for all of his pain and searching,  the truth that he worked so hard to find was never truly revealed to him. [Crying] I can’t truly believe that I’m really standing here.

Skinner: I know. And I don’t truly believe that… Mulder’s the last.

So Skinner thinks Mulder knocked Scully up too, eh?

Well, if he did, it’s a good thing because it means he left Scully with a piece of himself. At least she has some comfort to show for all the time she’s spent on the X-Files, a time that looks like it’s coming to an end.

Deputy Director Kersh smells blood in the water. Mulder is dead and buried and has been for three months. Scully is about to go on maternity leave. And John Doggett was only ever on temporary assignment to the X-Files division. This is a perfect opportunity to close the X-Files for good. Skinner and Scully know it’s about to happen, but there’s nothing they can do to stop it.

Doggett is the one who won’t sit back and watch it happen. Though Doggett’s main impetus isn’t his personal investment in the work, but his emotional identification with Scully. He feels for her. He’s been there. He’s lost someone precious to him and he wants to support her through her grief. He wants to make sure the X-Files will be waiting for her when she gets back.

Kersh tempts Doggett to leave with a promotion… which is puzzling. I thought Kersh secretly didn’t want Doggett to find Mulder? That’s what we were told in “Without” (8×2). Now he’s commending him? He’s not upset that Doggett messed up his or someone else’s nefarious plans?

Perhaps there is no rhyme or reason other than this opportunity is meant to force Doggett to choose between a promising career at the F.B.I. and the trust he and Scully have built. Scully was ambitious once too, and more than once she’s chosen between her career and her personal involvement with the X-Files and with her partner. She can identify with Doggett as much as he can identify with her. But there’s a nagging niggle in the air that however much loyalty Doggett may show to Scully, their relationship will never develop to the degree that Mulder’s did with Scully and Doggett’s loyalty won’t pay off personally the way that Scully’s once did.

I kinda feel bad for Doggett, but then he tries to get in the way of Mulder’s resurrection and that is unacceptable behavior.

Because of course Mulder’s coming back to life! Even Chris Carter, sadist though he is, couldn’t be so cruel as to leave his beloved creation in the grave. Besides, Mulder still has to make an honest woman out of me.

Along with Mulder’s new lease on life there’s new life being breathed into the mythology. Krycek returns and there’s a new game afoot. These abductees are coming back to life for a reason, Krycek knows the reason, and for whatever reason, he’s out to prevent Scully’s baby from coming into the world. For that matter, I’m not convinced that Kryeck ever had a vaccine that would save Mulder. It seems more likely to me, and to Doggett, that the vaccine was a ploy to take out both Mulder and the baby with one stone. The vaccine he destroyed was likely either fake or poison.

Yes, Krycek’s motives are as obscured as ever. But it’s good to have him back. Though I’m afraid that as was the case with the recall of Jeremiah Smith in “This is Not Happening” (8×14), his primary purpose is to provide a link between the old mythology and the new and that he won’t be sticking around. Whatever these abductees are being resurrected for, that’s the future of the mythology.

Another relic of the old, Billy Miles, comes back as… what? Scully says he’s a completely new person, but other than his being in perfect health and having a new outlook on the aliens, I don’t understand why Scully says that. I don’t understand why she so easily believes that a virus caused his resurrection, either.

I also don’t understand why this new virus is so easily combatted. When Mulder and Scully were up against the Black Oil, a sentient form of alien life that would infect its host and either control them or gestate into a mature alien, it couldn’t be treated by any old antivirals. A vaccine specifically designed to counter the virus was necessary and that was awfully hard to come by. After all Mulder’s been through, after all Scully’s been through to find him, bringing him back to normal was as easy as giving him antivirals that weren’t engineered to treat the virus he’s infected with? So this new invasion is treatable with human resources already at hand? Hmm…

All we really learn in this episode is that there is a new virus and it’s turning abductees left for dead into new versions of themselves. Their true nature and purpose remains to be seen. The truth is, considering “Deadalive” marks Mulder’s much anticipated return, I’m surprised we got any new information at all.

Verdict:

All right. Let me be really real. I usually only watch two scenes from this episode: the one where Scully sees Mulder again for the first time and the one where Mulder wakes up. Hidden deep within Season 8, a season many fans threw up their hands and gave up on, are two of the most beautiful moments in the history of The X-Files.

Watching Scully put her hand on Mulder’s chest and feel him breathe again for the first time is just… everything. If you’ve ever lost anyone you cared about then you realize what a dream come true this is. You can actually feel her joy.

And the second scene I almost can’t type about. The look Mulder gives her when he wakes up is almost too beautiful for me to stand. The love is palpable. Palpable. I don’t understand how David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson can act that well. They can’t. No one can. They must’ve been living it in the moment. Thank you for that, you two. Thank you.

Poor Doggett, though. He walks in at just the wrong moment and officially becomes the third wheel. The man just gave up his future at the F.B.I. and laid all his bets on the X-Files only to be immediately displaced and rendered superfluous.

Or is it Mulder my beloved who’s superfluous now?

B+

P.S. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

Minutiae:

Hold up. What is Kersh doing at Mulder’s funeral? Don’t pretend you cared.

Maggie Scully, though, it was good to see her. Too bad we didn’t get to hear her talk.

When she first arrives at the hospital, Scully walks toward Doggett with her hand on her belly like, “You can’t say ‘no’ to a pregnant woman, can you?”

Scully keeps snuggling up to his unconscious form but… Mulder must’ve smelled though, right?

Kersh tells Doggett to drop the case but he’s not really doing anything. Skinner and Scully are.

Krycek… you, sir, are every kind of name in the book. And don’t you touch Mulder’s nameplate! Unclean! Unclean!!

Why did they ever put Mulder and Billy Miles on life support if they were breathing on their own?

They wouldn’t have embalmed Mulder. There was no way there was ever going to be an open casket. Nope. Sorry. But one does have to wonder why the F.B.I. didn’t autopsy him. They would have wanted to confirm that he had similar injuries to the previous victim.

Best Quotes:

Kersh: It’s going to be awful crowded down in that X-Files office.

————————

Scully: Agent Doggett, however I felt about you when we first met, you changed my opinion with the quality of your character and of your work. Now, I am thankful to know you and I am thankful for your concern. But no matter what Mulder’s chances are the choice not to open up that grave was wrong. And not because of me personally but as my partner on the X-Files. Now, the truth may hurt but it’s all that matters.

———————–

Betcha thought I was going to transcribe Mulder and Scully’s reunion. Well, I’m not. Watch it. The dialogue is dead without the delivery.

Two Fathers 6×11: Word up.


The truth will out.

I remember really, really enjoying this set of episodes the first time around. Probably because they handhold the audience all the way through the history of the mythology and I needed handholding. Unlike actress Aisha Tyler, I didn’t have a conspiracy flow chart above my television set to keep track of the goings on. An oversight I still regret.

The way the story is framed, with Cigarette-Smoking Man filling in the blanks through exposition, works quite well. Though the way the story was originally set up, told through a series of flashbacks, would have been even better. I’ve just read some of the original script that had to be scrapped because the flashback scenes shot with actors who… didn’t look like 1970s versions of themselves any longer, weren’t as effective as they needed to be. But if it could have played out they way it did on paper, it would have been awesome. Now my heart bleeds a little for the episode that could have been.

The thing is, “Two Fathers” lives or dies by exposition. So if you’re like me and you’ve been dying to know what exactly the mythology’s been about all these years, you’re probably a fan. If you’re among the faster minded, or the more diligently obsessed, there’s a good chance you aren’t hearing anything you didn’t already know and I could see how you might be bored. Me, even the things I’ve already figured out don’t bore me. I love that smug feeling of satisfaction confirmation gives you.

Interestingly enough, CSM isn’t the only one dropping knowledge. Cassandra Spender shows up again having ditched the wheelchair and gained its weight in factual information. Why was she able to pick up so much truth during this most recent abduction when for the past twenty something years the conspirators and/or the aliens had her head filled with lies? Now, not all of her information is accurate, but it’s a far sight more informed than what she so cheerfully preached in “Patient X” (5×13). Maybe her new status as a hybrid has opened up her understanding beyond the human.

Too bad her son is still in the dark. I may be the only one, but I feel bad for Agent Spender, so much so that I wish Mulder would go ahead and be nice to the guy. I mean, over the course of this episode he’s rejected by both parents. His father slaps him. Twice. And his mother comes back from the dead only to ask for Fox Mulder, his bitter rival.

While I doubt Mulder would ever see it this way, it’s partially his own fault that Spender has become the enemy. Maybe if Mulder had been a little nicer to him initially, or tried a little harder to avoid the misunderstanding and miscommunication that occurred between them, Spender wouldn’t have been as susceptible to his father’s machinations. Surely a large part of the initial appeal of doing CSM’s dirty work was the chance to take down Mulder, despite the fact that the glory of that is now wearing thin on Spender. It’s not like his newfound relationship with his father is built on sentiment. What’s love got to do with it? CSM doesn’t want a son, he wants a legacy; he wants to see his power continue on into the next generation. His nepotism in regards to Spender is purely selfish in motive but Spender is to naïve to realize that.

It doesn’t help that Krycek has been assigned to Spender as his sort of “big brother” in the Syndicate universe, showing him the ropes as it were. But Krycek wouldn’t be Krycek if he weren’t working toward his own agenda, which brings me to my next topic…

The eponymous two fathers are Cigarette-Smoking Man (aka C.G.B. Spender) and Bill Mulder. On the surface then, their sons, their competing legacies would be Jeffrey Spender and Fox Mulder. However, I believe there’s a third son here and that’s Alex Krycek, the virtual issue of CSM’s loins.

I’ve long thought of Krycek as CSM’s spiritual successor, and apparently that thought wasn’t lost on Krycek himself either. If you have the DVD, there’s a deleted scene you can watch were Krycek boldly comes to CSM requesting to be his heir apparent. CSM coldly tells him the position has already been filled. CSM’s rejection of Krycek and his resentment of it explains his later manipulation of Spender and his efforts to turn him against his father.

It also puts Krycek’s speech before the rest of the Syndicate into context. That overdone performance was for CSM’s sake, so that he could ingratiate himself. With that in mind, it makes more sense that he would abandon his previous position. Last we saw Krycek, he was for resistance, working secretly with Well-Manicured Man to enlist Mulder to their cause. Not that it’s hard to believe Krycek would suddenly turn without warning. He’ll do whatever he needs to in order to survive. That’s what makes him Kryeck.

Now, I realize that deleted scenes aren’t canon, but this subtext is present in this story arc with or without this scene. This moment just makes Krycek’s motivations clearer and so I’m sorry it had to be cut.

In a way, all three men are the sons of CSM. True, there are suspicions regarding whether or not CSM is Mulder’s father, but either way Mulder is the product of CSM’s schemes and manipulations, schemes that likely go back to Mulder’s introduction to the X-Files and his partnership with Diana Fowley.

Yes, the truth is out there now: Diana Fowley is in cahoots with CSM. The way that Carter and Spotnitz choose to reveal that truth is both startling and gratifying. I knew that woman wasn’t to be trusted! There’s just one huge problem left… how do we convince Mulder?

And the Verdict is…

I don’t feel the same sense of urgency I did watching it way back when, but I still think “Two Fathers” works. Its only stumbling block is that it’s so much easier to entertain by raising answers than by providing them. Fortunately, I’ve been waiting so long for some clear answers and am so invested at this point that the satisfaction I get from hearing concrete facts is entertainment enough.

We’re a good ten minutes into the episode before Mulder and Scully even show up, but it’s well worth the wait. Perhaps feeling guilty over what they’re about to do to us Shippers in part two of this episode arc, Carter and Spotnitz write a classic scene of Mulder/Scully flirtation. Who knew such a short woman could walk into a room all made of legs? I may or may not have rewound this scene about ten times just now.

Yep, this is rewatchable television. Great performances all around and a hefty dose of payoff; I love that Chris Carter brings the train cars from “Nisei” (3×9) back. Bringing the story full circle by incorporating the past makes for an easily digestible meal.

Next up, there can only be “One Son” (6×12). Which one will be left standing?

A-

Random Observations:

Skinner’s a bit cold to Spender considering his mother, who he had given up for dead, has just been returned to him and he’s emotionally vulnerable. I know Spender hasn’t exactly endeared himself to Skinner, but still.

Before, the alien rebels looked suspiciously like Brian Thompson’s Alien Bounty Hunter character. Now, they’re somebody entirely new. Same race different face?

I never realized it before, but these two episodes are crucial for understanding how Krycek sees himself in future seasons.

Lingering Questions:

Mulder just hacked into A.D. Kersh’s computer remotely in “Tithonus” (6×9). He couldn’t hack into Spender’s as well? He had to break into his office and risk getting caught?

All the crap Mulder’s pulled this season and walking into Spender’s office without permission is what gets him fired? As it is, the information he accessed on Spender’s computer was for a case Spender asked him to look into.

I didn’t realize Cassandra parted with Mulder and Scully on such affectionate terms. What’s with all the hugging?

Why would the Second Elder open the door for Openshaw after he knows Openshaw’s dead? Why make it easy for the Rebel to kill you?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Hey, homegirl. Word up.
Scully: Mulder, it’s my distinct impression that you just cheated. And that you’re not coming in again today.
Mulder: Oh, Scully, I got game!
Scully: Yeah, you got so much game I’m wondering if you have any work left in you.
Mulder: No, I’m ready to J-O-B, just not on some jagoff shoeshine tip.
Scully: No “jagoff shoeshine tip?”
Mulder: No background checking, jagoff shoeshine tip.

——————-

Cigarette-Smoking Man: I’ve trusted no one. Treachery is the inevitable result of all affairs. Every man believes he has his own good reason.

S.R. 819 6×10: At least you didn’t get your ear bit off.


Call Dr. Scully.

I’m in love with Assistant Director Walter Skinner.

And I know I’m not the only one. For all those who have gone into withdrawal after the admittedly extended period of light-hearted antics that make up the first third of Season 6, we’re about to have four heavy-duty episodes in a row. Sigh no more, ladies. Sigh no more.

Krycek was a deceiver ever. And the official battle between him and Skinner has begun, though it’s been brewing since “The Blessing Way” (3×1) when Krycek and Luis Cardinal put a hurtin’ on Skinner in the stairwell of a hospital. It escalated after Skinner handcuffed Krycek to his balcony in “Tunguska” (4×9) and left him to suffer from exposure. See why revenge is never the answer?

Not that the stoically upright Skinner is a vengeful kinda guy, though it’s clear from his introspective soliloquies in this episode that he doesn’t consider himself any sort of hero.

Well, I do. And Scully’s right, Skinner judges himself too harshly.

Yes, he had to compromise himself early on in his relationship with Mulder and Scully, but it’s obvious Cigarette-Smoking Man had an unpleasant hold on his career, perhaps even wielding blackmail as a weapon. But no sooner does he get the chance than Skinner bucks CSM’s authority and aids Mulder in his quest as early as “Ascension” (2×6). Even before that he showed signs of sympathy. Remember his, “This should have been an X-File” comment in “The Host” (2×2)?

He proved to be Mulder and Scully’s protector in episodes like “End Game” (2×17) where he pummels Mulder’s location out of Mr. X in an effort to save his life and in “Paper Clip” (3×2) when he extorts the safe return of Mulder and Scully out of CSM by threatening to release classified information on the conspiracy. In fact, it’s that episode where Skinner officially crawls out from under CSM’s nefarious shadow. Too bad his hard-won independence doesn’t last long. By the time we reach “Avatar” (3×21), CSM has cooked up a cold dish of revenge framing Skinner for murder. And while Mulder and Scully… and his soon to be ex-wife… deliver Skinner out of that trap, he willingly walks back into CSM’s clutches in “Memento Mori” (4×15) in order to, what else? Save Scully. By “Zero Sum” (4×21) he’s a patsy again, but though his position may be compromised his loyalty never is.

Despite not being much older than they are, Skinner plays the harsh but protective father to Mulder and Scully. He’s willing to get his hands dirty so that they don’t have to, not because his conscience is seared but because the soldier in him is willing to sacrifice to win the war. If Skinner were to die now he would not die in vain. Mulder and Scully would have been dead long ago if not for him.

But not once did it occur to me that Skinner might actually die, no more than I though Mulder might really be dead at the end of “Gethsemene” (4×24), which is the best evidence I can give of Skinner’s unofficial status as the third lead on The X-Files; so indispensable has this character become, this character that was never intended by Chris Carter to be a major role, that it’s hard to take the threat of his death seriously.

I never believed they’d do it, but Chris Carter & Co. did consider it. Mulder and Scully no longer worked under Skinner so he was no longer absolutely vital to the plot and because he had changed over the years from a mysterious and potentially dangerous figure to a stalwart ally, he had become too predictable, too reliable. Fortunately for Skinner lovers, the plot potential in this new hold Krycek gains over Skinner convinced The Powers That Be that interesting things could still be done with the character. Thank heavens because can you imagine Season 8 with no Skinner? ::shudders::

The question is, how does a man as self-sufficient as Skinner, who has already escaped the clutches of CSM himself, wind up with his life in the hands of Ratboy? I confess, I never really understood the plot till now so for those fans as slow on the uptake as I am, here’s a rundown:

It all starts with Tunisia. And if that sets off bells of recognition in your head, it should. If I didn’t know better, I’d say there were some oblique implications here that Syndicate leader Strughold who, as we see in Fight the Future, has his base of operations is in Tunisia, is behind the S.R. 819 conspiracy. That would also explain how Krycek originally got involved since last we saw him in “The End” (5×20) he was working for the Syndicate under the authority of Well-Manicured Man. Since Well-Manicured Man is now deceased (sniffle), it’s safe to say Krycek’s loyalties within the organization have moved on. Or safer to say that his only real loyalty is to himself.

Krycek is working on his own in keeping Skinner alive. We can assume he wants him alive and at his mercy so that he can use him for his own agenda later. The Syndicate has a man at the F.B.I. in Jeffrey Spender, now Krycek has his own man on the inside, reluctant though he may be.

The original plan was to export this potentially dangerous nanotechnology to Tunisia, and possibly into the hands of Strughold and the Syndicate, under the guise of the World Health Organization. Before that happened, S.R. 819 had to pass inspection by scientist Kenneth Orgel and the F.B.I.’s own Skinner, a safeguard that was usually a mere formality. However, Orgel understands the potential consequences of the nanotechnology falling into the wrong hands and goes to warn Skinner, but is infected to keep him from talking. Skinner too is infected and is supposed to be killed but Krycek intervenes.

From what Mulder says to Skinner at the end of the episode and the surprised look on Scully’s face when Skinner claims not to be able to recognize the bearded man who tried to kill him, it looks like Mulder and Scully are aware that Krycek is behind all this. But they still don’t know what he’s up to and they certainly don’t know why Skinner refuses to give him up. As in the first Skinner-centric episode, “Avatar”, Mulder and Scully’s concern for their former boss is touching. As before, they drive the investigation to save Skinner only this time to better effect because Skinner doesn’t sit passively, fatalistically by while they work. The determination he starts this episode with must make it especially grating on him to have to slip right back into his old compromising ways.

Verdict:

I can’t say I love “S.R. 819” the way I love Skinner himself because though there’s a tangible sense of urgency, the plot is a little obscure and aside from Skinner’s pulsing veins, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. But I do appreciate the potential mythology implications and I welcome the return of Krycek with open arms. I was one of those taken by surprise when he reappeared. Maybe even “Stevie Wonder would see that one comin’”, but I didn’t.

If my memory serves me correctly, and that’s by no means a guarantee, this was the series’ final Skinner-centric episode. That’s rather surprising considering there are three more seasons to go but it makes it all the more irritating that there’s no resolution to what happened to Skinner’s wife Karen, a character both introduced and discarded back in “Avatar”.

I wasn’t looking for anything detailed. A brief mention from a hospital orderly would have sufficed. “The patient is Walter Skinner. Widowed. Works for the F.B.I.” or “Walter Skinner – Divorced. No known relatives. In case of emergency contact Special Agent Dana Scully.” See how easy that would have been?

My only consolation is that I think there could be a cleverly veiled reference to “Avatar” here:

Mulder: This morning, you woke up…
Skinner: I woke up.
Mulder: Alone?
Skinner: Yes. Alone.

Then again, that’s probably wishful thinking on my part.

B+

The Peanut Gallery:

While I don’t think anyone fell for it, those opening moments of the episode where they would have us believe that Mulder is the F.B.I. agent about to die are well done. I quite like the idea of scaring the audience. If only that silly episode preview hadn’t ruined the surprise…

We haven’t seen Senator Matheson since “Nisei” (3×9) and the truth is, I don’t even remember him in it. The connections in congress Mulder so famously depends upon in the “Pilot” (1×79) have all but become obsolete in the current stage of the mythology. However, I’m glad they brought Matheson back one last time, if only to drive home the point that Mulder has fewer people he can trust than even he once believed. That makes the fact that one of his allies is now seriously compromised… and that he doesn’t know it… even more poignant.

Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Senator Matheson were secretly a member of the Syndicate?

It makes me a little sad to think the ear-biting references might be lost on this new generation.

Mulder and Scully are forbidden any contact with Skinner. Don’t they know there are cameras at the F.B.I.?

Parts of the movie score are recycled several times in this episode. And there’s an overhead shot of the highway that looks recycled as well – there’s no way that shot was in a television budget.

I’ve never read the fanfic, but I’m sure the Skinner/Scully Shippers had a field day with this episode.

That abandoned warehouse set is striking. I especially enjoy the lighting when Mulder walks in on the Senator.

I recently found out that Nicholas Lea (Krycek) is about to guest star on Supernatural. That’s an interesting coincidence since both Steven Williams (Mr. X) and Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) have guest starred on that show for a series of episodes. Ah, when fate binds souls together…

This reminds me of the good old days when Scully often stared in wonder and computer screens looking at scientific data that shouldn’t exist.

I dig the “Chinga” (5×10) reference, John Shiban. I dig it.

Best Quotes:

Skinner: I was boxing. I must’ve gotten tagged.
Nurse: Yes, you did. At least you didn’t get your ear bit off. That’s something, right?

——————-

Dr. Plant: Well, the good news is… your dilation’s back to normal. Plus you still have both your ears.
Skinner: I heard that one.

——————-

Dr. Plant: Well, you’re lucky. He’s on a government HMO – no one’s even bothered to handle the samples yet.

Terma 4×10: They’re all honorable, these honorable men.


A White Russian.

Believe it or not, I have only just realized, on what must be at a minimum my 6th viewing of this episode, that Krycek is the one who ordered retired assassin Vassily Peskow on his mission in the first place under the name of Comrade Arntzen… Arntzen being the name Krycek gave when he infiltrated Mayhew’s militia back in North Dakota and set off the chain of events that would lead Mulder to him and eventually to Tunguska.

Is Krycek even Krycek? Is he the American-born son of Russian immigrants turned conspiracy double-crosser or is he a Russian-born Soviet plant named Arntzen who has been lying even to the Syndicate this whole time? My bet is that he’s a Russian who infiltrated the American branch of the conspiracy as a spy. It’s the explanation that best matches his nature.

It makes sense that the Russians would be antagonistic. For one thing, the Cold War isn’t so distant a memory from the point of view of the mid-1990’s. But also, it seems that the Russians, as far as we’ve seen, are the only major world power that’s not at least partially involved in the Syndicate’s machinations. “Anasazi” (2×25) is evidence that the Syndicate’s reach extends to at least all the WWII Axis powers that are clearly in on the game (though admittedly it wouldn’t have been tough to convert Nazis to their cause). The French are a little on the outs as we see in “Piper Maru” (3×15) when they’re scrambling for evidence and information, but there’s no indication of any antagonism. The Russian Bear is another story, however, and Krycek is the perfect face for their stereotyped image.

Getting some solid clues regarding Krycek’s backstory is tantalizing enough, but the real scene-stealers of the episode, in my humble opinion, are the darling duo of Well-Manicured Man and CSM. The barely contained antagonism between the two of them is priceless. And for once, CSM has a reason to gloat, an opportunity he relishes since usually he’s the one whose mistakes have to be cleaned up. They’re like foes that are forced to be friends.

Anyway, it would appear that some of the tension between them is caused because not only is Well-Manicured Man’s girlfriend killed, but the implication is that she was targeted because of her research for the Syndicate. She was testing a vaccine against the Black Oil on her convalescent patients. The problem is, the Syndicate wasn’t supposed to have access to the Black Oil, the samples were smuggled out of Russia as we saw back in “Tunguska” (4×9). The Russians, led it seems, by Krycek, decide to put a stop to American progress by wiping out not only those involved with arranging the experiments, but by killing the subjects also eliminating the American stores of Black Oil. This leaves Russia well ahead in the vaccine race.

The American experiments weren’t exactly speeding along anyway, since all they’d managed to do was to force the Black Oil to go dormant in their elderly test subjects. The Russians at least had a vaccine that would expel the Oil even if it didn’t yet protect against reinfection.

Maybe if our national test scores were better?

And the Verdict is…

Just on the sheer weight of its meaty revelations, I actually enjoy “Terma” more than “Tunguska”. Objectively, I’m not sure it’s really a better hour of television, but I certainly get more out of it, especially now that the storyline is finally beginning to make sense to me. Besides, who can resist Mulder sauntering into the Senate hearing to just the right dramatic beat? And who can forget that “tea bag dippin’ hand?”

“He wants you to know the Cold War isn’t over.”

A

P.S. As always, check out http://www.eatthecorn.com/eps/4X09_4X10.htm for some mythology clarification.

P.P.S. Updated to add this because I love it so: http://imadethischriscarter.blogspot.com/2011/09/x-files-4x10terma.html

Annoying Comments:

I love the idea of an older assassin… an assassin who shares his apples and takes the bus. He’s certainly charming enough.

The tagline for this episode, “E pur si muove”, means “And yet, it does move”, which is supposedly what Galileo said what the Inquisition forced him to recant his assertion that the Earth moves around the Sun. No doubt this is meant draw a parallel between our own little Galileo, Agent Mulder, and his, er, enthusiastic stance before the Senate committee. Too bad some of the irrefutable evidence he cited in his speech is now in question. Ah, Mulder. Even when he means well he slides so close to irritating sometimes.

Lingering Questions:

Why did the Syndicate put Senator Sorenson up to this investigation to find out Mulder’s whereabouts if they already knew where he was? I think we’re assume that it’s just to slow up Mulder and Scully’s investigation, but that doesn’t seem like a completely logical step.

Is the version of the Black Oil that we’ve seen in this two-episode arc supposed to be an even more basic form of alien life? The pre-evolutionary version of the more advanced Black Oil that we saw in “Piper Maru” and “Apocrypha” (3×16)? Perhaps this version ended up on earth accidentally via the meteor while the previous version was purposefully sent by the aliens. Or maybe the previous version wasn’t meant to be left on earth either but was a casualty of war… Color me Clueless.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I’m not going to die.
Prisoner: No? Why not?
Mulder: I have to live long enough to kill that man Krycek.

———————

Well-Manicured Man: [Smokes a cigarette]
Cigarette-Smoking Man: That’s a nasty habit. It’s bad for the health.
Well-Manicured Man: Health is the least of my concerns at the moment.
Cigarette-Smoking Man: Yes… [Lights a cigarette] According to reports your… personal Physician suffered a serious riding accident here on your property.
Well-Manicured Man: Dr. Charne-Sayre was murdered.
Cigarette-Smoking Man: By whom?
Well-Manicured Man: If I knew, do you think I’d be standing here talking to you?
Cigarette-Smoking Man: So… you need me now, a man of my capabilities, is that it?
Well-Manicured Man: This was a professional hit.
Cigarette-Smoking Man: Really? And you out here all alone, so vulnerable… Were you sleeping with her? Surely you wouldn’t be so foolish as to put the project at risk for the sake of your personal pleasures?

———————-

Scully: Several of the men on this committee are lawyers. It is my experience that lawyers ask the wrong question only when they don’t want the right answer.

———————-

Mulder: It’s good to put my arms around you… both of them.

Tunguska 4×9: These men, they make it up as they go along.


Shock and awe.

The Black Oil is back, or should I say, the Black Worms have arrived. This time it’s not transporting itself through human carriers, but it’s being excavated and transported within ancient rocks. However creepy its earlier form may have been, this is the first time I think a mythology episode ever tiptoed this close to the horror genre. Those little worms are memorable and fantastic.

I said earlier that a mythology primer is almost necessary to keep track of the various forms of alien and half-alien life we’ve been exposed to. If it would have been nice before it’s vital now. Is this the same Black Oil that we were introduced to in “Piper Maru” (3×15)? That version was decidedly unwormlike, but more than that, it “possessed” human beings to further it’s own agenda, clearly having sentience. It could also use its radioactive properties as a weapon if need be.

This new (same?) version acts more like a basic organism than something highly evolved. When expelled from one person, it makes no effort to jump to the next and so preserve itself. And it certainly doesn’t possess or manipulate anyone. Instead it puts them in a sort of coma, the purpose of which isn’t ever explained.

And what about the Black Oil’s eventually to be revealed version in Fight the Future? Reconciling that incarnation of it to the story at large is a headache I’ll save for another time.

Needless to say that after numerous rewatches, this two-parter still leaves me a tad confused. Okay, I’m lost. That doesn’t completely interfere with my enjoyment of it, though. After all, Krycek’s back and hanging off of balconies and such. Scully’s at her Sculliest in that Senate hearing. And, most of all, I had sorely missed Well-Manicured Man.

On a less satisfying note, you’ll think I’m naïve, but this watch is the first time I realized that Marita Covarrubias was inserted to add some sex appeal to the show. She doesn’t serve much of a purpose outside of that, which is probably why outside of giving Mulder access to a few bits of information, she hasn’t actually done anything yet and we’re already a third of the way through the season. Funny how the show becomes a sensation and then they feel like they have to add a femme fatale to give it some flavor. Wasn’t Scully doing the job just fine?

Alright, I’m being mean because I’m biased. That strangely affected cadence of hers gets on my nerves. She wouldn’t actually become interesting until Season 5 when they let her hands dirty with conspiracy much. Let’s look forward to it, shall we?

Conclusion:

“They found me in North Dakota” is not a sufficient explanation for how Krycek escaped from that former military silo in which he was so memorably abandoned in “Apocrypha” (3×16). Either a radical militia broke into the silo while on a hunt for supplies and he charmed them with some reasonable explanation for why he was locked in the silo in the first place, or, to hear Terry Mayhew tell it, he escaped and came looking for them. The first scenario seems more likely, but whatever version is closer to the truth at least we can know for sure that Krycek is lying. Why? Because he always lies. Watching him betray Mulder to his torturers in Tunguska is one of his more satisfying double-crosses.

But what is the man really up to? Did Mulder really lead him to Tunguska or the other way around? Who’s he working for now and what’s his agenda?

There should be a lot more to discuss in “Terma” (4×10) when hopefully things will begin to connect. This episode is solid in terms of the experience, but it presents more questions than it answers. That’s partially because it’s the first of a two-part arc, and even more so because it’s a mythology episode.

I’m starting to remember how many threads of the mythology never got woven into the whole

A-

Bepuzzlements:

How did Krycek reach his hand up that high to pull his would-be assassin down over the balcony?

Comments:

Scully’s hair suddenly got shorter. Now she truly has the “Scully cut.”

Krycek is like a brat throwing a tantrum sometimes.

I remember when you could freely enter the gate area of an airport like that.

Best Quotes:

Krycek: They found me in North Dakota. They liberated me on a salvage hunt. Hey, you go underground, you got to learn to live with the rats.
Mulder: I’m sure you had no trouble adapting.

———————-

Krycek: These men, they fear one thing: exposure. You expose him, expose his crimes, you destroy the destroyer’s ability to destroy.
Mulder: The only thing that will destroy this man is the truth.
Krycek: The truth, the truth… There is no truth. These men just make it up as they go along. They’re the engineers of the future. They’re the real revolutionaries.

———————-

Krycek: You can’t leave me out here! I’m going to freeze to death!
Skinner: Just think warm thoughts.

———————-

Mulder: I’m leaving the window rolled down. If I’m not back in a week I’ll call Agent Scully and to come bring you a bowl of water.

Piper Maru 3×15: High Noon in Hong Kong.


I've got a little something in my eye.

The legendary Black Oil makes its first appearance on The X-Files. Huzzah!

Now, I’m as excited as the next Phile about the introduction of new levels to the overall mythology mystery. But I’m beginning to notice a trend where the writers are giving us new information every mythology episode without necessarily providing new answers. We learned about the UFO at the bottom of the ocean in “Nisei” (3×9) and we found out about the disk in “Anasazi” (2×25), but we still haven’t found out what’s on the disk besides the location of the UFO let alone the significance of the downed UFO itself. Instead, Carter and Spotnitz bring in the Black Oil which is more than sufficient to distract us from the fact that we still know nothing. This isn’t a complaint because I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. But I’m starting to understand why cracks in the mythology’s wall expanded in later seasons. Some holes have to be plugged before you can drill new ones.

Apparently the writers are planning to introduce a new foreign power in every mythology episode, just so we’re constantly reminded that this is a global conspiracy. “Paper Clip” (3×2) belonged to the Germans, “Nisei” to the Japanese and now the French make an appearance, the first non-WWII Axis power to do so. What exactly do the French want with the UFO anyway? More than likely, they just want to become “a player”, as CSM would say. Other than that, they don’t seem to have any kind of historical stake in the conspiracy. I suppose that’s why they don’t last long since I don’t believe we ever hear from the French again. We move onto the Russians in Season 4. I’m still wondering why we never hear from the Italians. Too romantic?

But enough rambling. Krycek is back and we have to enjoy him and his sliminess because after this arc we won’t see him again for almost a full season. It looks as though he’s managed to crack the security protocols on that Defense Department disk he ran off with in “Paper Clip”. This means he’s one of the few people in the world who know the scope and scale of the conspiracy outside of the Syndicate. He’s capitalizing on that, literally, by selling the Syndicate’s secrets to the highest bidding government. Meanwhile, no one in the Syndicate outside of CSM knows that Krycek is even alive and that the disk hasn’t been destroyed. Surprise!

On the emotional end of things, Scully finally gets to grieve for her sister Melissa. When Skinner mentions that it’s only been 5 months since her death (another case of 1013 Production’s date smudging) there’s a sense of incredulity I feel every time I hear that. Scully lost her sister but essentially went through the last 12 episodes without showing any signs of loss, sadness or melancholy. Odd, yes But I don’t believe it’s an oversight. Season 3 is the season where not only does the mythology take on a recognizable form and continuing narrative, it becomes distinct, even completely separate from the stand-alone episodes. Except for a passing comment in “D.P.O.” (3×3) where Scully references “all we’ve been through”, Mulder and Scully act as though most major mythology events never happened… until they reach the next mythology episode and things pick up where they left off. It’s not a bad thing, really. It allows the viewer to breathe for stretches of time and just enjoy the more genre specific episodes without worrying about keeping up with overall storyline.

There isn’t much to discuss as far as character development because the mythology is quickly becoming a mini action adventure series within a series where Mulder and Scully, for the most part, are just stand-ins for the audience. They’re there to solve the mystery and don’t have much time to explore their own inner workings, though that starts to change again in Season 4. But I have to give one last note on my man Skinner. We’ve already seen Skinner battle Mr. X on Mulder’s behalf in “End Game” (2×17), now it’s Scully’s turn to earn Skinner a beating. Skinner’s attitude with CSM’s goons is so awesome, but he’s turned into such a noble hero that it’s not surprising when later on the writers decide to put some cracks in his armor with “Avatar” (3×21). Maybe he’s gotten a little too cool for school. I don’t know, but I enjoy it so I don’t care. Skinner’s a bear and Mulder and Scully are his cubs. Play at your own risk.

Final Verdict:

These Season 3 mythology episodes are some of Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter’s best work on the show. They were able to strike the right balance of emotional and thrilling moments. Since this rewatch I’ve made it my mission to understand the ins and outs of the mythology plotline I’m enjoying it even more. But even back when I understood nothing I loved the Black Oil. Who wouldn’t? Throw in a cowardly Krycek and noble Skinner into the mix and I’m sold.

Oh, and that vision of a pilot kept alive by an alien entity banging on his plane window at the bottom of the ocean? Awesome.

A

Lingering Doubts:

That a man Scully new briefly in her past, that she wasn’t even close to, would hold key, first-hand information about the Black Oil situation is a real stretch to me. Carter and Spotnitz really make it work, though, and that flashback scene is effective.

It’s kind of a copout that Krycek was magically able to get the disk translated and copied when it was supposedly impregnable. But, then again, that was only a plot device in “Paper Clip”. In “Anasazi” Scully was able to print out the information to have it translated.

In the “Nisei”/”731” arc it’s hinted that the ship Talapus was on a mission to salvage a UFO and now that’s been confirmed. They salvaged it and CSM had it moved knowing that the disk with the secret of the UFO’s location was on the loose. But if Talapus had already made it to where the Black Oil crash landed with the UFO, why didn’t the Black Oil come up to the surface with one of the men of Talapus instead of staying with the P-51 Bomber? I can only assume that Talapus never sent a man down there but somehow brought it up by purely mechanical means, but that seems a stretch.

Random Tidbits:

A very young Michael Bublé is recognizable as one of the men aboard the submarine Zeus Faber.

I like that the teaser doesn’t necessarily read as a mythology episode. We have no way of knowing if this strange black entity is alien or if it’s just a new, freaky phenomenon that Mulder and Scully will have to investigate.

Best Quotes:

Scully: I’m just constantly amazed by you. I mean, you’re working down here in the basement, sifting through… files and transmissions that any other agent would just throw away in the garbage.
Mulder: Well, that why I’m in the basement, Scully.
Scully: You’re in the basement because they’re afraid of you, of your relentlessness. And because they know that they could drop you in the middle of the desert and tell you “The Truth is Out There” and you’d ask them for a shovel.
Mulder: That’s what you think of me?
Scully: Well, maybe not a shovel. Maybe a backhoe.

————————

Wayne Morgan: What the hell is that?
Mulder: Looks like the fuselage of a plane.
Scully: It’s a North American P-51 Mustang.
Wayne Morgan: Yeah, sure is.
Mulder: I just got very turned on.

————————

Skinner: Who are you guys?
Grey-Haired Man: We work for the intelligence community.
Skinner: Remind me not to move there.

————————

Krycek: I didn’t kill your father.
Mulder: Now you tell me.
Krycek: It wasn’t me.
Mulder: Oh yeah. Then who was it?
Krycek: I don’t know.
Mulder: Either way, Krycek, you’re a liar.

Ascension 2×6: There wasn’t an FBI pathologist available.


Who can it be now?

We open with an amazing teaser. The audience already learned what happened to Scully at the end of the last episode. Now we get to watch as Mulder finds out and realization registers on his face. The look, the gulp… priceless.

Mulder rushes to Scully’s apartment and now the present scene is cut with glimpses of Scully’s kidnapping. Is this Mulder the behavioral profiler surmising what happened? Is he having visions? Or are they just flashbacks so that the audience can see how it all went down? It might be all three. We’ll never really know.

It’s here that we see Mulder and Mrs. Scully together for the first time. And may I say they make an amazing pair. Both in this episode and in the later “One Breath” (2×8), it’s as if Mrs. Scully instinctively gets who Mulder is and isn’t phased by the more troubled side of him. She knows that he cares deeply about her daughter and seems to be a wise, patient woman. She’s also more spiritually aware than Scully and that makes for an interesting family dynamic.

All that and that was just the teaser! Whew!

The rest of the episode doesn’t disappoint either. We learn the depth of CSM and Krycek’s collusion and villainy. Finally Mulder begins to understand that this isn’t happening to Scully because of Duane Barry, it’s happening because of him. Mulder had to be stopped and if the conspirators couldn’t do it be taking him off the X-Files they’d do it by stripping him of his only ally.

The conspirators, however, are finding out that they’ve created a new set of problems. If Mulder is relentless in his pursuit of the truth he’s downright murderous in his pursuit of his friend. The scene where he chokes Duane Barry is powerful. Mulder’s anger is all the more frightening because he’s trying to control it. It’s a still anger, the kind that percolates waiting to erupt. That single blink he takes as he listens to Duane’s explanation is enough to send a tingle down your spine. And if that’s not proof enough he’s just a few loose screws short of crazy, let’s not forget that crazy climb up the tram at 10,000 feet. Clearly Mulder has very few boundaries when it comes to finding Scully.

Mulder has a right to be angry. He lost his sister Samantha to an alien abduction and now Scully has been taken away from him in a similar fashion. Scully, who I more than suspect is a surrogate Samantha to Mulder. And if she wasn’t before, she certainly is now. I’m sure Mulder hadn’t realized how much Scully meant to him.

On top of that, he’s struggling to come to terms with a new reality. Before Mulder thought that the government was just hiding their knowledge of the existence of aliens. Now it’s dawning on him that the government is using the alien abduction set-up to push their own agenda. Duane Barry is a victim of this agenda; he’s like a television and they keep moving the antenna.

If Mulder has one chocolate bar in a sea of vegetables, it’s that he finally gets his beloved X-Files back courtesy of Assistant Director Skinner. Skinner shows that while he’s not a man free to do as he pleases, his sympathies do lie with Mulder and Scully. Are the X-Files truly what “They” fear the most? That remains to be seen, but at the very least Skinner is rebelling against an order from CSM and that’s a start.

We end with Fox Mulder taking on a new position: Keeper of Scully’s Faith. Can he live up to the job?

Sum Total:

This show is getting soooo good! (Excuse me while I squeal like a fangirl).

I was struck this time by how many tiny, tiny moments and facial expressions in this episode are pure gold. They create depth where the story could have read flat. I won’t bore you by cataloging them all, they are legion, but if you feel so inclined go back and take a look. One thing Chris Carter excels at as a director is attention to detail.

I actually enjoy this episode more than “Duane Barry” (2×5). It has more emotional verve, whereas “Duane Barry” was an exercise character exploration and a set up for the rest of Scully’s abduction arc. “Ascension” has death-defying stunts, murder, angst and intrigue.

The only complaint I have is that I wish Krycek had more time to spy on Mulder before his true allegiances were revealed. It would have been interesting to see what kind of damage Krycek could have done if Mulder had learned to trust him a little rather than just tolerate him. Most importantly, maybe if Krycek had been along for the ride we wouldn’t have been subjected to the injustice of the next episode.

A

Questions:

How did Krycek and CSM know that his cover was blown? I suppose they assumed that Mulder would notice the cigarettes in the car.

How did Krycek explain how he and the tram operator disappeared on Mulder and that the tram operator was later found killed?

Why didn’t Krycek just stop the machine again when Mulder climbed out of the tram? They could have played stop and start all night.

Randomness:

Mulder has visions of Scully’s abduction the way she later on has of his.

Another parallel is the way that Mulder shows up just a minute too late to save Scully.  Scully has a similar problem when she arrives moments too late to bring Jeremiah Smith to Mulder’s rescue in “This is Not Happening” (8×14).

The scene were Mulder consults the pathologist at Quantico is poignant. You can see that he’s acutely feeling the loss of Scully. It’s Scully who should have been there. Ironically, Scully would have kept him clued in.

The episode opens and closes neatly by bringing Mulder and Mrs. Scully together. And why shouldn’t it? They make a great pair. It’s too bad he never gels with the rest of the Scully clan quite the same way.

Best Quotes:

Krycek: You know, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island, they were all linked to sleep deprivation. The US Department of Transportation estimates that over 190,000 fatal car crashes every year are caused by sleepiness?
Mulder: Did they estimate how many people are put to sleep listening to their statistics?

——————-

Krycek: You know he could have tracked her down with that implant.
Mulder: Well that’s the easiest explanation. It’s also the most implausible.
Krycek: There’s another possibility?
Mulder: Somebody could have given him her address. I don’t know who.

Duane Barry 2×5: A fine thread of sanity.


Let me show you those drill holes!

Is Duane Barry Mulder’s future?

Mulder’s been sliding down a dangerously deluded path for a long time now. He even admitted in “Little Green Men” (2×1) that he didn’t know whether his quest amounted to little more than tilting at windmills. But the whole point of that episode was that it didn’t matter if Mulder was right or wrong as long as he kept going. Now Mulder, similarly to Duane Barry, is at the point where it’s again important to him to prove the truth of what he’s been claiming all these years.

When you think about it, there are quite a few parallels between these two characters. While Duane is eventually used as a patsy by CSM to carry out his dastardly plans in regards to Scully, initially Duane kidnapped his doctor not to make an exchange with the aliens, but to prove to him that he’s been telling the truth all along. Duane wants desperately to be believed. He wants to be understood. Well, so does Mulder. And like Duane, Mulder is willing to go to fantastic lengths to expose the truth. He thinks he’s willing to go to any length, but this episode will test Mulder’s resolve in that regard.

In the end, Mulder is proven right. Duane Barry was telling the truth. But in being validated, Mulder loses Scully. He finds the truth and meets the consequences. Was it worth it? Is the cost too high to find the answers? Is it enough to know you’re right and be right all by yourself? Mulder will be dealing with those questions for the next few episodes.

Of course, these events don’t transpire naturally. Krycek has been sent to spy on Mulder by CSM, presumably to gauge what information he has and were he’s getting it from. Unfortunately for their plans, Mulder is stuck like glue to his old partner Scully and isn’t interested in learning to trust Krycek. That’s a problem because not only do Mulder and Scully have the annoying habit of getting to the bottom of things, but as long as Mulder keeps Krycek out of the loop it’s going to be hard to feed him disinformation. What to do, what to do…

What they do is manipulate Duane Barry through a staged abduction scenario into kidnapping Scully and bringing her to them. It’s clear why they used someone like him. Because of his medical and psychological history, there’s no need to discredit his story. He discredits himself. That’s no doubt why they took him for abductions in the first place.

…And the Verdict is:

This episode is about truth versus delusion and how sometimes you can’t tell the difference. Mulder is sure about Duane, then unsure about Duane, then sure again. Does it matter either way? It does for Mulder because the events of the last several months have weakened his confidence in his beliefs. Even though now he’s surer than ever, soon he’ll learn the cost of that certainty.

Steve Railsback gives a fabulous turn as Duane Barry. His character was set up in such a way that his performance would make or break the episode and I’m glad to say he couldn’t have done a thing better. To be both frightening and endearing is a hard line to walk.

It’s also exciting to see the conspiracy take a diabolical turn this season. Before, the issue was whether they were keeping the secret of alien life from the American public. But this, this is personal. CSM is out to contain Mulder and if he has to hurt him to do it, so be it.

Overall, a great episode that leaves you wondering which lie to believe.

A-

Quirks:

Why didn’t the FBI set up a roadblock once they knew from the police tape what general area of Virginia Duane Barry was in? It’s not like he changed direction on them.

Didn’t the hostage team already assume Duane Barry was dangerous and delusional? Mulder was the only one who believed him even though he knew Duane came out of a mental hospital. I don’t see why the information Scully brought was so earth-shattering.

CSM is controlling Duane Barry, not aliens, which would meant that the government is behind the abductions. If that’s true, how can they do things like stop time? And if they can stop time, shouldn’t they be able to balance the budget?

Thoughts:

Another highlight was that scene where Scully scans Duane’s implant in the supermarket. Americans are being abducted and tagged like so much human merchandise. Only on The X-Files. Also, that old-fashioned “asterisk” scanner brings back memories.

Those alien costumes look like alien costumes. That will make more sense later. Hide a lie within a lie. To hide the aliens, pretend to be aliens.

Did we just hear the very first, “Mulder, it’s me?” I don’t think I heard it in an episode previously, but I could be wrong.

Best Quotes:

Krycek: Is there anything I can do?
Agent Kazdin: Yeah. What’s your name again?
Krycek: Krycek.
Agent Kazdin: Krycek. Have you got your notepad?
Krycek: Yeah. [Takes out notepad.]
Agent Kazdin: Grande, 2% cappuccino with vanilla. Agent Rich?
Agent Rich: [Waves, “No.”]
Agent Kazdin: [Walks off.]
Krycek: [Replaces notepad with disgust.]