Tag Archives: Mythology

Requiem 7×22: The hour is at hand.


Requiem262

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mulder: Nothing has been resolved exactly.

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

Mulder: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scully: What are you talking about?

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

Scully: Mulder…

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

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

A moment of silence for my utter destruction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post-Mortem:

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

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

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

A

Sweet Nothings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Is that a lot?

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

Mulder: We could start sharing rooms.

———————

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

Mulder: To where?

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

———————-

Mulder: I think I’m in big trouble.

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

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

Scully: Did you hurt him?

Mulder: I reduced his vision a little bit.

 

Biogenesis 6×22: Who had the audacity for such invention?


Say what now?

Disclaimer: I am in love with Chris Carter. I am in love with The X-Files. I would sooner lose a finger, in fact, let’s make it my thumb, than I would have missed out on watching this series – the whole series – all of it – including the nauseating moments. So please understand that when I complain, and I will complain, I complain with love. Kapish?

Good, because my complaints start right at the beginning. I am so sick of these self-important, perfunctory mytharc opening monologues I’m about ready to curse. And I don’t curse!! I get the idea. I know. This is epic. Epic, epic, epic. All of life is about to be explained. All of life is at stake. J’nough. Let’s move on.

Now, on the more diplomatic side of things, at least we know right out of the gate that the turn The X-Files is taking is grander and more fundamental than any conspiracy created by men merely to hide information. This is the mythology’s new beginning. The Syndicate is dead, the slate has been wiped clean, almost any plot is possible and this is the plot they choose: Aliens as God. The implications are… bottomless. And they’re making my brain hurt.

In its defense, this plot is only overtly going where The X-Files has already gone before. Mulder’s mission to prove the existence of alien life, his quest to find absolute truth, it’s all analogous to a man’s, and mankind’s, search for God. I get that. It’s subtle. It’s good. Sometimes it’s not so subtle. But it’s still good. It’s like a biblical parable; all the more effective for concealing the truth inside a fiction.

But in this bit of fiction, an alien spaceship has supposedly popped up, plain as day on the coast of a well-populated continent, yet no governments take notice. No spy satellites, no missiles are aimed in its direction. No soldiers are sent out to guard it or to confiscate it. Instead, a bunch of independent science nerds have free access to it without having to answer to anyone. The news of this discovery never leaks to the vigilant folks at MUFON. The media never takes notice.

Rubbish. Rubbish, I tell you.

To be honest, the very idea causes my eyes to roll so far into the back of my head they disappear. It took me a while to convince them to come back. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to ignore the mythology aspect of this mythology episode for most of this review.

On to our heroes… Scully is trying to convince Mulder that their job at the F.B.I. is done. After all, they’ve won, haven’t they? The conspiracy is kaput. Never mind that earth is still on the verge of being invaded and humanity is still scheduled to be destroyed, someone else can see to those details. Why can’t she and Mulder move on? Ah, but Scully has forgotten about the most important thing of all, the quest that predates Mulder’s mission to take down the Syndicate’s conspiracy: the search for Samantha. But who can blame her? I’d pretty much forgotten myself and I’m probably not the only one. Which is why this moment is not so covertly placed here, I suspect. Chris Carter needed to remind the audience that there’s a reason Mulder and Scully are still on the X-Files and therefore there’s a reason we’re still watching this show. Some truths have yet to be uncovered.

Meanwhile, some truths are never fully uncovered. Enter Diana Fowley.

We’ll get to more of the eternal mysteries surrounding her character come Season 7, but for now it’s enough just to figure out why, for the love of all that is watchable, Chris Carter felt it necessary to have her strip down in Mulder’s apartment and force us to watch. Since, logically, we can’t really expect that she was about to seduce a man barely well enough to hold a brief conversation, we can only assume that it was meant to get a rise out of the audience. And it certainly got a rise out of this audience. I remember rising to my feet in righteous indignation. (Chris Carter, don’t you make me come out there.)

Wait. Back up. What was she doing in Mulder’s apartment in the first place?

According to what Fowley says both to Cigarette-Smoking Man over the phone and Scully in person, Mulder called her after he collapsed in the stairwell. Not that I take as gospel a single word she tells Scully, I’m inclined to think that she has no reason to be dishonest with CSM. The puzzle then is why would Mulder call her? Well, he’s already figured out he can’t trust Skinner. Scully’s off hunting Dr. Sandoz. I’d give him the excuse of being out of friends, but where the Lone Gunmen unavailable?

Whatever. He calls her. If trusting her even after she miraculously survives the events of “One Son” (6×12) isn’t proof he’s earned the padded cell he’s finally given this episode, I don’t know what is. Or perhaps he has doubts we don’t get to see?

Now, please bear with me here because I’m about to force you to scroll. Below is a scene from the script of “Biogenesis” that was cut. (Darn those brief 43 minutes). And while I’ll cry along with the purists that since it didn’t air, it’s not canon, I think it helps illuminate some plot points that otherwise remain murky. I’ll go more into detail on my case for its inclusion afterward.

{Editor’s Note: I don’t make this stuff up. You can find my sources here: http://www.mitchpileggi.net/The_X-Files/Libby/ (Click on Season 6 episodes and scroll down to Biogenesis. This is the version I recommend.) And here: http://www.fortunecity.com/lavender/tombstone/178/6x22_cutscenes.html And here: http://members.tripod.com/cactus_ian/xf6x22.html}

FOWLEY: Fox?
A faint clatter from another room gets her attention. She turns to see… Mulder exiting the kitchen past her. He is pale, dazed, disheveled – markedly worse than when we last saw him. He shuffles into the living room, seemingly oblivious to her presence. Fowley watches him pass, shaken by his strung-out appearance.
FOWLEY: Fox..? Are you alright?
Mulder shuffles to the living room window, peers out through the closed blinds. He doesn’t look at her. Silence for a long, uncomfortable beat.
MULDER: Where did you go?
FOWLEY: You were asleep, and I…
She trails off, shrugs. Mulder is still staring out the window. Now, he finally looks to her – pins her with a look, actually.
MULDER: Where did you GO?!
FOWLEY: I… I went home. (Off his silence) Maybe I shouldn’t have.
MULDER: Were you alone?
Fowley eyes him, taken aback by the question.
MULDER: Were you by yourself?
FOWLEY: Yes. Of course. What kind of question is that?
CLOSE – MULDER
We creep in on him as once again we hear strange AUDIO HITS – the disjointed clamor of voices in his head. We recognize FOWLEY’S VOICE rising from the din. We make out words, fragments of phrases: “it’s starting…”, “the artifact…”, he doesn’t suspect…”
Mulder struggles to clear his head.
MULDER: You were talking. Who were you talking to?
By all outward signs, Fowley is puzzled by the question.
FOWLEY: To you. I’m talking to you.
Mulder presses his hand to his temple. The cacophony in his head grows louder. More snippets from Fowley: “not possible…”, “gain his trust…”, “I just left him…”
MULDER: You’re lying.
FOWLEY: I’m lying? (beat) What am I lying about?
Mulder says nothing. Wary, he watches as Fowley moves closer.
FOWLEY: Fox, you’re not well. I think I need to take you to a doctor.
MULDER: I’m not going anywhere with you.
FOWLEY: Fox, please…
She reaches for him. Increasingly paranoid, Mulder pulls away. Another quick AUDIO HIT: the voices rise in a muffled, incomprehensible crescendo.
MULDER: No. Uh-uh. First Skinner and now you. You’ve betrayed me. (louder) You’re here to spy on me aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?!
In a sudden frenzy, Mulder SWIPES everything off the top of his desk, hurling it across the room. Unnerved, Fowley takes a step back. Mulder upends the coffee table, sending books and papers flying.
FOWLEY: Fox, calm down –
Breathing faster now, Mulder turns on Fowley, approaches – angry eyes fixed on her.
MULDER: Tell me the truth…
Nervous, Fowley discreetly unbuttons her jacket. We catch a glimpse of her pistol tucked in its holster.
FOWLEY: You’re not making sense. You need help. (backing off) Please — calm down.
Mulder doesn’t. He keeps advancing.
MULDER: TELL ME! –
A LOUD ELECTRIC SNAP. Mulder winces. His legs give out.
FROM BEHIND MULDER
He collapses to the floor, revealing the STUN GUN in Fowley’s hand. She kneels into frame by his body. Despite what we know of her treachery toward Mulder, we see some glimmer of real concern for him on her face.

First of all, this is an emotional confrontation between Mulder and Fowley that, in my humble opinion, needed to happen. After his unwavering integrity, after remaining loyal to her to his own hurt and risking his relationship with Scully even because he refused to turn on a friend, this needed to happen. I actually consider it twice as necessary for the sake of closure than any confrontation between Fowley and Scully.

Second of all, this brief scene reveals a lot about Fowley’s character and I’ve been itching to get inside that woman’s head a little. She knows exactly what’s going with Mulder which means she’s way ahead of him as far as what he’s learned about the aliens/colonists/whomever. That tells me she’s reasonably high up on the conspiracy chain. This is also our first glimmer that she really does care about Mulder. Prior to this she’s been a blank femme fatale, all calculating action with no feeling. Now we see that she’s conflicted and I find it interesting that she’s still afraid to tell Mulder the truth even though she knows he can read her mind.

Third of all, this clears up how Mulder went from lying weakly in bed to winding up a raving maniac in a padded cell. It also explains Fowley’s efforts to keep Scully from seeing him once he’s in that cell, because God forbid he somehow communicated his suspicions about Fowley to Scully. It would have been on.

Fowley and Scully don’t exactly end this episode on the best terms as it is, and I can at the very least say I’m grateful that Season 6 Scully gets to close us out with a bang. She’s already shown us so many different sides of herself this season… Weasel-Me-This Scully, Slap-A-Pimp Scully, Bimbo!Scully, and now Ain’t-No-Holla-Back-Girl Scully. So what triggers this latest incarnation?

Diana throws a couple of digs Scully’s way by implying that she’s in Mulder’s “In Group” while Scully’s in the “Out Group.” “Thank you for coming,” and, “He was asking for you last night” make it sound almost as though Diana’s family and Scully’s just a friend. Yet, self-possessed as ever, Scully is able to ignore all that until…

Fowley: [Mulder] said I was the only one who’d believe him.

One. Lie. Too. Far. Someone must not have told Fowley to watch “Folie a Deux” (5×19). If she had, she would have learned that, “Nobody else on this whole damn planet does or ever will” believe Mulder like Scully. Might he have called Diana because he trusts her too? Sure. But would he have told her she was the only one? Never. And Scully calls her on it immediately in a moment that’s probably the highlight of the episode for me. Long gone is the uncertain, insecure Scully of “The End” (5×20). Good riddance.

And the Verdict is…

I’ve kvetched enough. Now it’s time for me to admit that this episode is actually a lot better than I remember it being. Parts of it I can even say I enjoyed. The action is suspenseful and continuous, the performances are spot on, the images, the music… on a surface level, we’ve had much, much worse.

But as much as I do like watching Mulder lose his mind, and as much as I love that he still calls out for Scully even from the bowels of insanity, it’s the basic premise of “Biogenesis” that’s hard for me to get past.

Are these life-giving aliens the same ones that are about to take human life away? It seems to me that if the alien colonists have had this much power all along, not only would the Syndicate have been pretty useless to them, the whole plan to colonize us is superfluous. They planted us, they can harvest us just as easily. Throw new genetic material into our atmosphere or something, I don’t know. But there’s no longer any need for elaborate machinations; if they have the power of God they can simply use it.

This was why it was better when The X-Files only asked the great questions and didn’t attempt to answer them.

B

Bepuzzlements:

I have a question. How do we know when these spaceships first appeared on the earth? Is there some reason everyone is assuming that these multi-cultural writings pre-date the cultures and religions they document? And in that vein, how do they know that the aliens didn’t copy that information from humans rather than give it? I can’t believe Scully never seriously suggests it. Her brief, “How did the aliens get it?” is a throw away line.

Languages evolve. The Navajo of a hundred years ago isn’t the Navajo of today. So, if I’m to understand this correctly, not only thousands, but billions of years before the Navajo existed the aliens phonetically wrote in their language? Did the aliens give us all our respective languages too?

If our progenitors were alien, if they put us here, why are we trying to thwart their plans? Surely they know better than we do. And, after all, they’re only taking back what’s rightfully theirs.

Why does everyone keep throwing the rubbing in Mulder’s face? He tells Scully he thinks it’s the cause of his dissonance, she opens it up and breaks it out. Chuck Burke clearly states that he believes Mulder when he says the rubbing is bothering him, so what does he do? Put it up on the big screen.

Mulder is affected by the rubbing because he was once infected with the Black Oil virus back in “Tunguska” (4×9) where he was also treated by a vaccine for the virus developed by the Russians. In the movie, Scully is also infected with the Black Oil virus and is later given a vaccine that was stolen by the Syndicate from the Russians. Will someone please explain to me why only Mulder is affected? Had the second vaccine been tweaked? Was Scully’s version more effective?

Peanut Gallery:

A room full of monkeys in cages where a scientist is murdered? “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23) much?

Chuck Burke! It’s been a while.

Use of recycled movie music – Yes, we know. Again, this is epic.

Skinner just called Scully “Dana.” Somewhere the Skinner/Scully Shippers rejoice.

Clever – We cut directly from Mulder having an attack to Scully looking like she might be having an attack in the hospital in New Mexico. Then that close-up shot of Scully as she hears… what is it? The alarm? Or is she experiencing dissonance too? Ah, it’s the alarm. But, clever. Very clever.

Come to think of it, it might actually have been more fun to watch Scully lose her mind a la “Wetwired” (3×23).

I think I may have upped this episode’s grade just for the discovery of Dr. Merkallen’s body in the trash compactor.

Ah, Scully. I love your new fashion sense but it seems to me a linen suit isn’t going to serve you well on the beach.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I am just a hired gun for the F.B.I.

One Son 6×12: Two fathers whose paths would converge in a new battle.


They're heeeere!

Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair District of Columbia, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed G-Men take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with Spender’s death fail to bury their parents’ strife…

“The Mulders vs. The Spenders” doesn’t slide down the throat as easily as “The Montagues vs. The Capulets”, but you get the idea. Once upon a time, C.G.B. Spender slept with Bill Mulder’s wife and the universe hasn’t been at peace since. Now their progeny take center stage. By the end of this epic rivalry, or at least the end of this episode, only one son will be left standing.

And it’s not Jeffrey Spender.

As I said in my “Two Fathers” (6×11) review, what Cigarette-Smoking Man/C.G.B. Spender wants isn’t a family, it’s a legacy. You see, he believes his own myth. His sudden nepotism in regards to his son Jeffrey isn’t born out of sentimentality however he may pose. No, he considers himself some kind of noble hero and his chief desire is to watch his myth carry on into the next generation. In this regard his post-mortem jealousy of his old friend Bill Mulder is palpable; even in death his desires are being carried out through the work of his son (Never mind that Mulder’s paternity is still in doubt. Spiritually, he’s a man after his father’s heart.) CSM is out to prove he’s the better man not by actually being the better man but by manipulating his own son into a position of power over Bill Mulder’s son. Till the bitter end he also blocks every attempt by the Syndicate to heed Bill Mulder’s advice of long ago: Don’t sleep with the enemy.

Oh, how he then must have enjoyed tricking Bill Mulder’s son into accepting the fate his father had fought against, the soul-destroying compromise that he had ultimately left the Syndicate in protest of. Of course, he frames it in such away that Mulder would be damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If Mulder takes CSM up on his offer of sanctuary with the aliens and saves himself, he’ll have to live with the fact that he abandoned the rest of humanity to its horrible fate. But to refuse the offer would be to insult his father’s gift, to spit on the sacrifice, the Faustian bargain he once made in order to save his son. Is Mulder willing to live up to his father’s ideals by crushing his father’s efforts? The answer is almost “No.”

If Mulder had compromised himself perhaps Spender could have lived. But considering the title of the episode there’s no way both of them would have survived. It’s too bad because I always rather liked Spender. Yes, he’s a brat. But I always felt that he was fundamentally unlike his father and that if he were ever armed with the truth would probably do the right thing. Now that he’s done it, now that he could become an interesting ally to the cause and his possible kinship with Mulder could be explored, down the trap door he goes. That’s so very like you, Chris Carter.

Thank goodness no one ever really dies on The X-Files.

But I’ve skipped ahead. I haven’t even discussed how Mulder made it to his fateful conversation with CSM in the first place. To understand how Mulder ended up breaking into Diana Fowley’s apartment and wound up holding CSM at gunpoint, we’ll need to go back a ways to about right here:

Scully: You tell me that Cassandra Spender is the critical test subject, the one who could prove everything. And yet, who is watching over her? Mulder, I can prove what you’re saying or I can disprove it but not when Diana Fowley is keeping us from even seeing her! Mulder, ask yourself why there is no information whatsoever on Special Agent Diana Fowley. Why she would suddenly happen into your life when you are closer than ever to the truth. I mean, you… you ask me to trust no one and yet you trust her on simple faith!
Mulder: ‘Cause you’ve given me no reason here to do otherwise.

:::Gut-Wrenchingly Painful Silence:::

Scully: Well, then I can’t help you anymore.
Mulder: Scully, you’re making this personal.
Scully: Because it is personal, Mulder. Because, without the F.B.I., personal interest is all that I have. And if you take that away then there is no reason for me to continue.

I have to pause after this whole scene because it’s so intense I need a moment to start breathing again. I mean, literally, I was holding my breath. I think I just saw the life of MSR flash before my eyes.

Mulder and Scully have been building to this moment since at least the movie when Mulder literally begs Scully not to quit the F.B.I., not because she still had any love for the institution, or because she had a vested interest in investigating the paranormal, but for him. His sorry behind is the only thing keeping Scully in this dangerous game. I don’t even believe she wants to solve the mystery of her own abduction badly enough to keep going. She made it clear in that hallway that she’d walk away if she didn’t think Mulder needed her. Now he’s risking losing her all over again for the sake of his history with a woman he’s not even close to any longer. Thankfully, by the end of the episode they’ve already tacitly agreed to pretend this moment never happened.

I’m forcefully reminded of “E.B.E.” (1×16), when Mulder angrily blows off Scully’s warnings only to quietly follow up on her suspicions later. Then too Mulder is reluctant to believe that someone he has affection for and history with could be lying to him. Yeah, he wants to believe. He wants to believe in his friends. That’s why he passively allows his former partner Jerry to use him in “The Ghost in the Machine” (1×6), why he refuses to allow Scully to persuade him that Skinner is dirty in “Redux II” (5×3), and why it takes him so long to realize that Deep Throat has his own agenda in “E.B.E.”. Mulder would normally be willing to hang governments with the circumstantial evidence Scully collects on Diana Fowley, but it will take a lot more than evidence for Mulder to turn on someone he feels loyalty toward. It will take absolute proof.

Too his credit, Mulder trusts Scully enough to do some checking on Diana Fowley against his own instincts. Maybe he remembers “E.B.E.” too. Unlike in “E.B.E.”, though, he doesn’t get the chance to prove Scully right. He barely has time to rifle through Fowley’s underwear drawer like a common pervert before CSM arrives and interrupts his investigation. It’s a testament to just how much his conversation with CSM rocks his paradigm that he forgets afterward to question what CSM was doing in Diana Fowley’s apartment in the first place. No, there was no smoking gun buried at the bottom of her lingerie drawer, but that CSM would arrive in the middle of the night looking awfully at home would be enough for Mulder if he were in his right mind.

But a new thought occurs to me: What if Mulder’s suspicions are aroused but he has ceased to care? After all, he’s willing to give up and give in to CSM’s invitation, what does he care if Fowley is in cahoots with him? For a minute there he’s thinking the Syndicate was right all along.

This may be perverse, but I enjoy watching Mulder’s self-righteousness get challenged. He has the liberty of being an idealist, his father did not. What would Mulder have done when faced with the same impossible situation? Would he have stalled for time and lives or would he have resisted openly and tempted annihilation? From the way he so easily falls for CSM’s guilt trip, I’d say he could have gone in either direction. It’s a good thing he has Scully in his life. She’s the kind of friend who won’t let him give up even when he wants to… even after he’s rejected her… again… It’s a theme that will come back again to play in the Season 7 opener.

Verdict:

Yes, the Syndicate era of the mythology has been wrapped up and tied with a bow. But fortunately, there are still questions left to be answered:

  • Who are the Rebels and why are they fighting the Colonists?
  • Where’s Samantha?
  • Are there any Syndicate survivors left besides CSM, Krycek, Marita and Fowley?
  • Is Agent Spender really dead?
  • What exactly is the nature of Fowley’s relationship with CSM? Hmm??
  • Will Gibson Praise and alien junk DNA become a major factor in the mythology?
  • If serving the aliens is no longer an option, can humanity still resist?

It remains to be seen if these dangling threads will all be addressed, but it would seem that rather than building to a confrontation with a shadowy government of powerful men, Mulder is now looking directly at an all out war with an alien race. If anything, the stakes are higher than they were.

And really, it’s about time for a clean house. There was only so long Chris Carter could have dragged out this tale without the rubber band snapping. Any more unanswered questions without some definitive resolution would have been untenable, so Carter decided it was time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. So dies the old guard.

It does seem a great injustice that CSM, the one who for so many years has been responsible for pushing collaboration with the Colonists against his colleagues’ objections, should be the sole survivor of the Syndicate’s holocaust. Despite his claims of noble self-sacrifice for the sake of the next generation, the fact that he murders his own son makes it clear that he’s never been working for anyone’s benefit but himself.

But I would feel bereft if Mulder’s greatest nemesis were to die too. I confess to much satisfaction and relief when I see CSM and Fowley selfishly drive away from El Rico. There’s wiping the slate clean and then there’s breaking the slate altogether – at least we can be sure we haven’t seen the last of Old Smokey.

Love it or hate it, “Two Fathers” marks the most significant turning point of the series. It’s only fault is that it’s a somewhat rushed conclusion to nearly six years worth of build up.

A-

El Rico:

How on earth does Mulder recognize a disheveled Marita from that far down the hallway? When did he get telescopic eyes?
I thought the “date is set” and all that. The Colonists are willing to move up the timetable if an alien/human hybrid is successfully created?

Fort Marlene:

Sure, the cost of these DVDs was astronomic back when I bought them, but being able to rewind a scene where Mulder wanders through the halls of Fort Marlene dressed like Michael Jackson on an off day? Priceless.

Ah, the telltale sign that their relationship has changed: Mulder and Scully are uncomfortable in front of each other naked. That’s never happened before.

I’m actually going to miss seeing Mulder and Scully out in the bullpen. At least there she had a desk.

The scene where Scully confronts Fowley is so tense that my stomach still clenches up over a dozen years later. Now that’s acting.

It looks like the number on Fowley’s apartment door is 66. One more 6 and I would have been satisfied.

We never get a clear picture of who Diana Fowley really is in the conspiracy, but her connection to Tunisia is a good indication that she was working for Strughold, the head of the Syndicate himself.

I love that the mass murder of the Syndicate happens off screen. Hearing their screams in the blackness is more effective than watching them burn could have been.

Despite what he says in “Two Fathers”, CSM had and still does have some feelings for Cassandra. I don’t know if we could categorize it as love, but it’s certainly sentimental. Or maybe the writer in him is just caught up in the poetic tragedy of it all.

What is Krycek, the third son, up to? Like Mulder, he’s late for an appointment to save his own behind. But he’s not busy playing the hero, he’s manipulating the situation for his own profit. He figures that alien fetus will be valuable in the coming war. What good it will do him if he misses his ride and dies? I have no idea. So I can only assume he’s already aware of what the rebels are planning, at least to some extent, even before he goes to fetch the fetus.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: The latest in home security. [Indicating the elaborate series of locks on the Gunmen’s front door]
Frohike: Hey, you get through this, you gotta come through me.

———————

Cigarette-Smoking Man: I remember looking over a gun barrel at you once before, Agent Mulder. You couldn’t pull the trigger then. What makes you think you can do it now?
Mulder: [Cocks gun]
Cigarette-Smoking Man: [Quickly] I came here looking for my son.

———————

Kersh: You have answers now? Why didn’t I hear about those answers before?
Mulder: I’ve had answers for years.
Kersh: Then why didn’t we hear about them?
Mulder: Nobody ever listened.
Kersh: Who burned those people?
Mulder: They burned themselves. With a choice made long ago by a conspiracy of men who thought they could sleep with the enemy, only to awaken another enemy.
Kersh: What the hell does that mean?
Mulder: It means the future is here, and all bets are off.
Kersh: Agent Scully, make some sense.
Scully: Sir, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Redux II 5×3: I will calm down when somebody gives me a reason to calm down.


"My belief is in The Truth."

Oh, this opening scene. It’s really hard not to compare Mulder’s explosion by Scully’s bedside with, well, his previous explosion by Scully’s bedside in “One Breath” (2×8), so I won’t bother not trying to do it. In both episodes he starts out almost eerily calm and then crescendos. It’s beauty to behold.

Now, I had this habit back in the day where immediately after I watched a brand new episode, I’d rewind it and watch it again. (Don’t judge.) This episode took me forever to rewatch because I kept rewinding precious moments like it was going out of style, starting with this brief, two minute scene that I quickly memorized. Mulder in a tizzy over Scully – It never gets old.

There are so many utterly rewindable (add it to your dictionaries) moments in this episode that I hardly know how to touch on them all and I probably can’t. But since “Redux II” is told mostly from Mulder’s point of view, his dark night of the soul as it were, we’ll start with him.

Mulder gets hit from all sides this episode. Bill Scully gives him an unjust, and yet somehow not quite undeserved dressing down, one that still raises my blood pressure but in an oh so delicious way. There may only be one character on The X-Files I love to hate more than Bill Scully, and she has yet to make an appearance. Bill Scully doesn’t hold back with Mulder. After all, if it weren’t for Fox Mulder, one sister would be alive and the other wouldn’t be dying. Mulder, to his credit, shows an amazing amount of restraint, far more than he showed with Melissa Scully back in “One Breath”. I guess that’s what guilt, fear and shame will do to a person.

Poor Mulder walks straight from that drama into a web spun by Cigarette-Smoking Man who attempts to lure him into his service with the bait of a cure for Scully’s cancer. When that doesn’t work and Scully’s health continues to deteriorate, he dangles the carrot of a reunion with Samantha in front of Mulder’s nose.

In “Redux” (5×2), we watched Cigarette-Smoking Man gaze longingly at a picture of young Mulder and Samantha and visions of paternity tests danced in our heads, now here’s Samantha, or more likely, “Samantha”, calling him Daddy. Coincidence? Never. While the shenanigans Cigarette-Smoking Man is playing with Mulder in order to finally collect him as a trophy on his shelf is doubtless a load of falsities, lies always go down better flavored with truth. We know Samantha was taken. By the government, the Syndicate or aliens who can say? But what if she was returned, only not to Mulder? Is this Samantha, another clone like in “Colony” (2×16), or even one of the drones from “Herrenvolk” (4×1)?  Could the real Samantha be living another life somewhere? Could she be living that life awash in Cigarette-Smoking Man’s smoky haze?

Whatever the case, Cigarette-Smoking Man is having so much fun weaving his little tale, true or not, that he fails to notice the Elder giving him the evil eye. What a shocker that is, a hit being put out on Cigarette-Smoking Man himself. Not that there hasn’t been ample evidence of the tension between him and the rest of the Syndicate. Yet, he’s the villain, the Satan as it were, of The X-Files. Who would have thought that Chris Carter would have been willing to take him out when the show was at its most popular? Then again, that’s probably why he did it. Pop goes the weasel.

And now for Scully… Chris Carter scripted this episode and we all know that he loves dramatic bookends and parallels. Yes, he’s a man after my own heart. This time around, he makes us watch Mulder lose his faith just as Scully regains hers. The floor has opened up under Mulder, his pride is gone, his foundation shaken, just as Scully has shed her pride but in doing so regained her footing and her humanity. Interesting that in the first part of this arc, “Gethsemene” (4×25), it was Mulder who appeared to be on the verge of solidifying his faith once and for all with tangible proof of alien life and Scully who tried to nonchalantly keep her own at a distance through her rejection of Father McCue. Brilliance? Quite possibly.

Verdict:

Need you even ask? It’s a good thing no one could witness me grinning and giggling and exclaiming while I was watching (and rewinding) this episode for the review. Yes, even 14 years later.

I couldn’t possibly have asked for a more satisfying start to the season. Even the shipper in me was appeased.

Well… okay. Maybe I still felt a little gypped that Mulder and Scully don’t have a deathbed goodbye scene. Not to mention we miss the revelation of her miraculous cure as well. But that’s so minor in comparison to all the other pop culture goodness.

For instance, there’s the glorious climax that, don’t laugh, reminds me of the ending of The Godfather in its pacing and editing. Skinner sweats it out trying to prevent Mulder from mistakenly naming him as the mole in front of the panel, Mulder bullies ahead anyway, Cigarette-Smoking Man is clueless to his own imminent danger, and all the while a skeletal Scully is chanting Hail Marys. And then when Mulder finally names Blevins as the man… oh the face. The face! The gangsta lean!

Whew.

Among the fans nowadays, I’m sad to say it, but there’s quite a bit of disparagement for Chris Carter’s writing skills out there. Why?? Have you seen this episode???

A+

The Big Qs:

How did Mulder find out Scully was in the hospital and which hospital she was in? We can be sure he didn’t call up Skinner. The Lone Gunmen perhaps?

How did Skinner find out about Cigarette-Smoking Man’s death? I doubt his obituary made the papers. I would have thought the Syndicate would have cleaned that mess up privately.

What was Scully afraid to tell Maggie Scully? And why didn’t we get to hear it??

Useless Commentary:

Mulder really is being stripped of everything this episode. Scully’s dying. Samantha rejects him. The truth isn’t out there. It’s no wonder he nearly ate Scully’s hand off in desperation.

If Scully had died, who else thinks Mulder would have gone on a vengeful, murderous rampage? Show of hands?

Who’d have thought there’d come a time when Mulder didn’t want to talk about his precious conspiracy but would rather hold Scully’s hand and talk of nothing? How ‘bout those Yankees indeed.

Wait… wait… yep. Still swooning.

Best Quotes:

Blevins: Agent Mulder, we’re here informally to give you the chance to help yourself.
Mulder: Help myself how?
Senior Agent: By allowing any facts or details which might serve to let us go forward with this enquiry in a more informed manner.
Mulder: That helps you. How does that help me?

——————–

Mulder: [To CSM in the hospital] Please tell me you’re here with severe chest pains.

——————–

Langly: That’s unreal.
Frohike: Too freaking amazing.
Mulder: Watch your language, Frohike, and grab me some tweezers.

——————–

Bill Scully: You’re one sorry son of a bitch. Not a whole lot more to say. [Leaves]
Mulder: [Answering phone] One sorry son of a bitch speaking.

——————–

Waitress: Tabasco. Cures anything.
Mulder: I’ll keep that in mind.

——————–

Scully: Mulder, even with the ballistics evidence I can still be the shooter…
Mulder: Scully, I can’t let you take the blame… because of your brother… because of your mother… and because I couldn’t live with it. To live the lie you have to believe it. Like these men who deceived us, who gave you this disease. We all have our faith and mine is in the truth.
Scully: Then why did you come here if you’d already made up your mind?
Mulder: [Laughing] Because I knew you’d talk me out of it if I was making a mistake. [Editor’s Note: ::tear::]

Redux 5×2: What does any of this have to do with flying saucers?


Mulder goes down the rabbit hole.

Did he or didn’t he? That’s the question were supposed to be asking ourselves at the start of Season 5. If Mulder didn’t actually kill himself, he was surely thinking about it. But I doubt anyone seriously expected that Fox would pay David Duchovny according to his contract without reaping the benefits of having him on a hit TV show. Oh, no. It doesn’t take more than a thimble full of brains to realize Mulder is very much alive. Instead, the dramatic tension is held aloft by another question: Does Scully know or doesn’t she?

The good news is that the answer is given rather quickly. Mulder’s alive and Scully knows it, she’s just a very, very good actress. Maybe she should quit her day job, although it’s probably too late for that since she’s about to go the way of the Dodo, but still.

Let speed on along right to my favorite moment of this episode, shall we?

Mulder: I need to know who did this to Scully.
Kritschgau: What you can have, what you may find is so much more than that.
Mulder: What?
Kritschgau: What you want most desperately of all.
Mulder: [Hopefully] The cure for Scully’s cancer?

Oh, Mulder. Right answer. Give the man a cookie.

I let out the “squee” heard ‘round the world the first time I heard that one. If the question is about what Mulder wants most, surely he’s going to mention Samantha, I thought. Isn’t the mystery surrounding her disappearance the backbone of the entire series and Mulder’s driving force in life? My how the times are a changing.

There was evidence way back in “End Game” (2×17) that Samantha and Scully had become about equal in Mulder’s mind. But the “Gethsemene”/”Redux”/”Redux II” arc is where the switch flips for Mulder in this little Phile’s opinion. After this, there’s never a question that to get to Mulder, your best bet is to push the Scully button. Consequently, the whole tone of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, or I should say, at least in the direction of Mulder to Scully, changes distinctly for the needy in Season 5. There’s an extra level of protectiveness regarding Scully that we haven’t seen from him since Season 2. Now Mulder pretty much turns into a mad man whenever Scully’s in trouble. He can live, albeit painfully, with the mystery of Samantha. But can he live without his only source of solace?

Speaking of the deep and wide mysteries of the Mulder family, Cigarette-Smoking Man seems to be mourning Mulder with a little more than the respectful regret due to a fallen foe. The way he lovingly gazes at the picture of little Fox and Samantha, it makes one think that the sly remarks he made to Teena Mulder back in “Talitha Cumi” (3×24) were more than just wishful bravado. There had to have been something between them. The question is exactly what relationship he has to Mulder, both biological and conspiratorial. Is he Samantha’s father? Is he Mulder’s father? Does he know he’s Mulder’s father? And taking his not necessarily truthful assertion that he “created” Mulder at face value, all these years has he been manipulating him through the X-Files partially in order to protect him? There’s food for thought.

In case you thought the Cigarette-Smoking Man realm of the conspiracy wasn’t far fetched enough, there’s a new game afoot. According our newly sanctified informant Kritschgau, since The Civil War, America fights wars solely to drive the economy. The alien abduction phenomenon is merely a cover so that the military can get access to our DNA. Why? Not for the sake of creating alien-human hybrids. After all, there are no aliens. But in order to have the tools and the power to successfully wage war, supposedly America’s dearest business. Flying Saucers? Hokum. Little Green Men? Bunkum.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I was initially completely fooled by Kritschgau’s confident assertions. I, somewhat gleeful at watching Mulder be proved wrong, dismissed the alien conspiracy altogether… don’t ask me how. Maybe I was too busy concentrating on MSR because how I explained the existence of The Alien Bounty Hunter to myself I do not know.

Unfortunately for Mulder and Scully, this military conspiracy only serves to point the finger firmly back in the FBI’s direction. And who at the FBI would make the most shocking Judas? Well, since Mulder and Scully haven’t actually depended on anyone else except… yep. Again, we’re back to the Skinner trust issue and considering how many times we’ve already been there, it’s amazing that the tension filled scenes between him and Scully are so compelling. I’d love to say this is the last time dear Skinner’s loyalties will be questioned, but…

And the Verdict is…

This is the second in a three-parter and as such, is heavier in information and exposition than actual action. But let that not be held against it. The revelations, true or not, are of the game-changing kind. And Mulder has finally been brought to recognize his own arrogance. Who would’ve thought that could happen?

This has always been my favorite mythology story arc, and deservedly so when I see again how little the tension deflates in “Redux”. Usually, part two can be all but assumed to be a bit of a dud when it comes to a three-part arc. Not so here because while it’s low on action, the drama between Scully and Skinner and Mulder and Himself only escalates. Not to mention, I love those Pentagon scenes.

We end with Scully on the verge of death and Mulder powerless to help her. If that doesn’t compel you to tune in to the next episode, what will?

A

Peanut Gallery:

What’s interesting about Mulder’s near suicide is that what stops him is Scully. What propels him and prevents him is Scully. He can’t let her go it alone when he got her into this mess.

Mulder: If only the tragedy had been mine alone, might it be more easy tonight to bring this journey to its end.

Oh the voiceovers in this one. I say voiceovers, but it’s really one giant voiceover. Thankfully, I’m so caught up in the drama that it doesn’t turn me off. Besides, it’s nice to get some primary source insight into the mind of Fox Mulder.

Nice touch bringing Scully back to Blevins’ office. There’s some beautiful déjà vu going on in “Redux”.

Again, we have Mulder and Scully on the same hunt but on two different trails. I love it when they do this.

I read somewhere, maybe one day I’ll find where it was, that Season 5 was supposed to mark a division of trust between Mulder and Scully, starting with Mulder killing Osselhoff and Scully not knowing whether to believe he’s telling her the whole tale about the man’s death. If that’s what they tried, they failed, because all I read from that scene is Scully’s almost unnerving ability to believe the best of Mulder. With one significant exception, Season 5 ends up being the most delightful example of Mulder/Scully solidarity since Season 2.

Best Quotes:

Cigarette-Smoking Man: I’ve always kept Mulder in check. I put this whole thing together. I created Mulder.
Elder: Agent Mulder is dead. Our FBI source confirmed it this morning. Mulder killed himself. Mulder was an asset. Without his partner you may have underestimated his fragility.
Cigarette-Smoking Man: I’ve never underestimated Mulder. I still don’t.

———————–

Kritschgau: You’ve heard the recent denials about Roswell by the military and the CIA? And what’s been the effect? Even wilder and more widespread belief; the American appetite for bogus revelation, Agent Mulder.
Mulder: But I’ve seen aliens. I’ve witnessed these things.
Kritschgau: You’ve seen what they wanted you to see. The line between science and science fiction doesn’t exist any more. What this is about is control… of the very elements of life: DNA. Yours, mine, everyone’s.

Tempus Fugit 4×17: Let me buy him a drink too.


"Welcome back, Kotter!"

I’m going to start with a bit of an unusual premise here and say that “Tempus Fugit” and it’s follow up episode “Max” (4×18) aren’t really mythology episodes at all, instead they’re more like the pre-mythology conspiracy episodes of Season 1; think “Deep Throat” (1×1), “Fallen Angel” (1×9), and “EBE” (1×16). Taken at its most basic, this is your standard The Aliens are Here and the Government Won’t Admit It fare. What elevates the story is that this time it’s personal. “Tempus Fugit” is an episode about the casualties of war, the lives that are being lost whose deaths and whose pain will be meaningless unless Mulder and Scully can ultimately find a way to unravel this whole alien thing. Otherwise, Mulder and Scully could just as easily go the way of Max and Pendrell, and all those who were collateral damage will have died in vain.

The actual and potential loss, largely represented by the incredibly realistic crash site, is sobering. Mulder and Scully have precious few family members left for Chris Carter to kill off so he had to find another way to remind the audience of what’s at stake in this quest that Mulder and Scully are on and he did so by killing two friends and a whole plane full of people. It’s not all fun, games and Black Oil.

Speaking of the Black Oil, where is it? Here, not only is a character from Season 1, Max Fenig, brought back, but the mythology plot is subject to a rewind as well. There’s no Syndicate, no CSM dropping ash all over the place, no Krycek simpering. It’s just a straight up alien abduction meets government cover up. Mulder back to unreservedly and unwisely blasting his opinions from the rooftops rather than playing his hunches close to the vest, another throwback to earlier Seasons when Mulder got on his superiors’ nerves not by his actions but with his words. He never knew when to reel it in.

In the sense that they hark back to a simpler time in The X-Files, these elements are welcome. But in some ways it’s a little too late because now I’ve been conditioned to expect otherwise. Consequently, I spent the entire episode trying to figure out how what’s happened to Max fits into the overall mythology at large. The problem is I’m not sure it does. It’s more like a side plot.

Are the aliens that abducted Max the same ones that are working with the Syndicate? I find that hard to believe since the Syndicate seems to be secretly scared to death of those aliens, but a lone fighter pilot easily defeats these aliens. Speaking of which, how is it that creatures who possess technology we can only dream of and who can manage to travel light years to earth without a problem are no match for our military? That takes the bloom off their rose, doesn’t it?

I have no proof, but I’d be greatly surprised if these are the same aliens behind the plans for colonization. They’d need a lot more power. And besides, if I were them, I’d start colonization early if those human peons started shooting down my ships.

And the Verdict is…

I confess that I’m still not completely sure how I feel about this one, and I’ve been stewing on it for a good while. On the one hand, it’s good to see Max again and I enjoy that element of continuity and the nod to long time fans by giving them the payoff of bringing back a much loved, if oft forgotten character. On the other hand, why do I still feel a little bored?

Sure, we get that great birthday scene between Mulder and Scully, opening the window a little more into their quite comfortable and predictable relationship. That’s worth the price of admission. And Mulder’s short but sweet vigil beside Max’s body is poignant and memorable. Likewise, Scully’s last tender moments with Pendrell are just shy of heartbreaking. But still, I can’t help feeling like all of this isn’t leading much of anywhere. This is only the first in a two-parter, however, so I guess we’ll see.

In regards to the more technical end of things, director Kim Manners has almost outdone himself with that airplane crash. It’s almost too realistic… I have to not watch it too closely lest I have flashbacks during my next airplane flight. And that crash scene looks exactly like what we saw a few times too many on the news during the 1990’s. It’s just stellar work from everyone involved.

But did they have to kill Pendrell??? I’m going to miss that little geek.

B+

Nagging Questions:

How could Max’s sister’s motel room fall from 29,000 feet as Mulder says? Wouldn’t the aliens have had to take the whole motel lest someone notice a few walls missing? Forget that, why not just take the person alone???

Would Mulder have remembered Scully’s birthday if Scully wasn’t dying?

Random Observations:

It’s only funny when Mulder says, “We’re not gonna make it” because we know very well that he is.

I sincerely doubt Mulder and Scully would have been allowed in that TSA meeting or even less likely at the crash site.

On a related note, I realize that in order to keep things fresh and interesting, Mulder and Scully constantly have to be forced into new situations. Even so, why does Mulder going diving without experience feel like too much of a stretch to me? Combine that with Mulder and Scully’s free access to an airplane crash investigation and I’m starting to wonder how much disbelief I can suspend. It’s somehow less jarring to my rational mind to watch a mutant grow a new head.

Best Quotes:

Scully: Mulder, you have never remembered my birthday in the four years I’ve known you.
Mulder: That’s the way I like to celebrate them, every four years. It’s like dog years that way.
Scully: Dog years? Thank you.
Mulder: You’re welcome. Oh, I got something for you.
Scully: Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.
Mulder: It’s just something that reminded me of you.
Scully: What? An alien implant?
Mulder: Two actually. I made them into earrings.

————————–

Scully: Oh, please tell me this isn’t leading to something really embarrassing.

————————–

Scully: You sure know how to make a girl feel special on her birthday.

————————–

Motel Manager: Look at this! I don’t know what kind of game she was playing in here. She blew the door right out of the jamb. I doubt insurance will cover it.
Mulder: Does your policy cover the acts of extraterrestrials?
Scully: We’ll take care of it.

————————–

Bruce Bearfield: Have you worked at this depth before?
Mulder: Not exactly.
Bruce Bearfield: What exactly is your experience?
Mulder: Once I got a quarter off of the deep end of the Y pool.

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.