Tag Archives: The Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati

Sein Und Zeit 7×10: If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.


 

x-files-017

The Easter Bunny is fair game.

Last we saw Teena Mulder she was selling her son to the Devil in drag, Cigarette-Smoking Man as you might call him, in “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4), an issue that was never, ever discussed. I had a few questions for her then, I don’t mind telling you. Well, I have several more questions on my mind now.

Why is it, somebody tell me why, that just as characters start to get interesting on The X-Files, they die? Deep Throat, X, Agent Pendrell (sob!), Diana Fowley (dry eyes), Jeffrey Spender… Is there an unwritten rule somewhere? Is it written into the actors’ contracts? I realize no one ever really dies on The X-Files, but do they have to die at all?

It’s not that I was ever particularly attached to Teena Mulder, or even attached at all. But…  dagnabit, woman!

Did you have to leave your son to cry with that face?

Was her disease about to disfigure her in the next few days that she couldn’t have waited to die until she talked to Mulder? She’d rather leave him floundering, wondering forever than take an extra day or two to give him what answers she has? And she couldn’t just die without saying anything she had to burn what little proof Mulder would have found? Why did she let him flail about like an idiot looking for Samantha for so many years when she knew she was already dead? There are answers I need from this woman.

And that final phone message. Do parents, even emotionally distant parents, speak to their children with phrases like, “I hoped you’d call upon your return,” with anything other than irony? Then again, Mulder and his mother have always seemed to have an affectionate, but slightly formal and distant relationship. Very New England. It doesn’t help that every member of the Mulder family seems to have secrets. Except for Mulder. He’s an open book. Too open at times.

Well, I’m done kvetching at a fictional dead woman. But I still think that after watching her burn the last pictures that she had of Mulder and Samantha that she killed herself more from guilt than fear of a painful death. Also, think of the timing. This missing girl case has clearly rattled her.

Ah, Amber Lynn LaPierre. The JonBenet of The X-Files. Even her doting parents are duly under suspicion. Not that the police don’t have reason to suspect them. Their story is suspect. And Mrs. LaPierre is the one who wrote the not-quite-ransom note, after all.

We’ve had missing girl cases before: “Conduit” (1×2), “Oubliette” (3×8) and “Paper Hearts” (4×8). All of them make obvious parallels to Samantha and Mulder’s continued emotional turmoil over her loss. Scully warns Mulder in “Sein Und Zeit” that he’s personalizing this case. But Mulder personalizes every case. Or at least he used to. I miss the days when Mulder looked emotionally invested in an X-File.

When Scully first shows up at Mulder’s California motel room I’m a little worried she’s going to turn into an insensitive nag the way she did in “Conduit” and “Oubliette”. She doesn’t, thank goodness. She’s just a little annoyed that Skinner has sent her all the way across country just because Mulder refused to pick up his phone. She tries to keep Mulder from going off the edge and lectures him about playing well with others, but she always does that.

Scully’s sensitivity actually shines in this episode and the next. That scene where she has to break the news to Mulder that his mother’s suicide was real, not staged, when Mulder breaks down and she steps in seamlessly to comfort him… X-Files Gold.

Finally! Some meat! Season 7 is cute and all but a girl can’t live off of popcorn and Skittles. I need some sustenance. I need an X-File with protein. I need something to get excited about.

Skinner: Billie LaPierre is asking for him. She’s got something to say and she’ll only talk to Mulder.

Scully: It’s not a good…

Mulder: What is it?

Skinner: This case has heated up. I’ve booked two flights for us.

Scully: Well, then you better book three.

My girl.

All that said, this is an episode that’s hard for me to enjoy absolutely, not because it isn’t a good episode, but because it’s a dark one. Not darkly titillating like the previous “Signs and Wonders” (7×9), but darkly somber. There’s a sense, even from the opening teaser, that sweet little Amber Lynn is never coming home. From Amber Lynn’s disappearance and the specter of Samantha’s continued disappearance, to Teena Mulder’s suicide and the shocking final shot of a field full of tiny graves, the grimness of death hovers over this episode.

I confess I can’t wrap my heart around this walk-in version of the afterlife (and there have been many competing, conflicting, and even coexistent versions of the afterlife on The X-Files). The short story goes like this: The walk-ins are good spirits who step in… sometimes… when they see a child about to die a horrible and painful death. They spare the child that painful experience changing them from matter into energy, effectively taking them straight from life to death without the nasty business of dying. Their energy resides and manifests itself in starlight, occasionally making return visits to earth and to their unsuspecting parents’ bedrooms. Said parents may or may not be blamed for their child’s disappearance adding yet another layer of tragedy to their loss. I thought the walk-ins were supposed to be helping?

It feels like a saccharine fairytale to me – Children rescued from pain, living and playing (eternally?) in the starlight. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather spend eternity with my loved ones in heaven.

But I think the idea touches a spiritual nerve. That nerve that tells us that life can’t be defeated by death. The life of these children may be over here on earth, but it’s not over ‘cause it’s over. Ironic given the source of the episode’s title.

Forgive me for waxing philosophical here since I’m not qualified to do so. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve taken a class or touched a book on the subject. However, given the direction this story is taking I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the meaning of Sein Und Zeit or “Being and Time” in English. It’s a reference, one can only assume, to philosopher Martin Heidegger’s magnum opus, in which he, well, philosophizes over what it means “to be.” From what little I know about it, a simplified version of his conclusion might be that existence is fundamentally linked to time, or rather, that being is time and that human existence is the span from birth to death and that to truly live, we have to live with a conscious anticipation of the end of our existence.

I suppose that sounds deep on some level, but “Sein Und Zeit” is really about the continuation of souls, in starlight if you must, whose existence can’t be defined or swallowed up by death. They exist now outside of time, not hemmed in by in, and ride on waves of light that started eons ago. Chris Carter seems to be getting back to his “I Want to Believe” roots, with spiritual hunger and the desire for hidden truths overrule the need for scientific proof. This sense of hope, that one should hope, is dauntless and compelling. Universal and compelling.

Verdict:

After seven seasons, we’re finally nearing the truth of a mystery that’s been a bedrock of the show since the Pilot: what happened to Samantha.

We’ve found out bits and pieces, there’s been a lot of red herrings and misinformation, outright lies, in fact. But with all this talk about walk-ins and starlight you should be getting the nagging feeling by now that Mulder will never see Samantha on this side of terra firma again.

And don’t make yourself interesting on The X-Files. It’s a death sentence.

A-

Automatic Writings:

Besides the scene in Mulder’s apartment, my next favorite part of this episode would be the teaser, when Chris Carter uses Bud LaPierre to defend his doomed series, Harsh Realm, that was canceled after only three episodes made it to air.

Bud LaPierre: [Watching Harsh Realm] This is great.

Or maybe this part…

Bud LaPierre: I was watching TV in here.

Mulder: What were you watching?

Bud LaPierre: I never heard of it before. It was good.

That moment when Chris Carter sneaks in yet another indignant defense of Harsh Realm.

Watching the authorities swarm the LaPierre residence, for the first time it occurs to me that there must’ve been a similar scene in the Mulder household when Samantha was taken. Even if Samantha’s parents knew the truth about her abduction, for appearance’s sake there would have been police all over – questioning, searching.

How did Teena Mulder understand the connection between Amber Lynn and Samantha when the information about the ransom letter hadn’t yet been revealed in the media? I have even more questions about this next episode…

Boy, Mulder keeps making awfully good time on those cross-country flights. I know this was pre-9/11, but still.

Those little graves in the final shot make for a startling image. But one has to wonder, why didn’t he bother burying them deeper? No one goes back there? He must really not have been concerned about getting caught.

I may be the only one who cares, but the guy who plays Bud LaPierre is definitely the cult leader from “Red Museum” (2×10).

And to top that nugget off, “Red Museum” was when the topic of walk-Ins first came up.

One wonders how Skinner ever explained to his superiors how he, Scully and Mulder discovered “Santa” and his field full of graves. “Well, sir, we went to interview the LaPierres again and the mother said she’d had a vision of Amber Lynn repeating the number ‘74,’ then we drove up Route 74 and Scully saw one of those year-round Christmas places on the map and she remembered the letter, so we stopped and there were videos and the man ran and… graves.”

Millennium 7×5: See, you had me up until there.


All hail the Fangirl Flail.

Sadly, Chris Carter’s second born television baby Millennium didn’t last until the Millennium it was named after. In what I can only assume was a result of steadily dropping ratings, Millennium was canceled in the Spring of 1999, just in time to prevent hero Frank Black from stopping the coming apocalypse.

Back in the day, and up until the recent present, I was not a Millennium watcher. (I’m sorry, Chris.) It was one of those shows I intended to tune into eventually, but I never got around to it and then boom, it was gone. I told myself that this time, before I watched this episode I would complete the series so as to have a better sense of what’s really going on here. Well, I haven’t completed it yet, though I’m currently watching the final season, but my eyes have been opened to two things about The X-Files’ first crossover episode:

  1. Frank Black is pretty cool.
  2. You really don’t need to have seen five minutes of Millennium to get it.

I’m sure Carter must’ve been hard-pressed to both conclude Millennium in a way that stayed true to what that show was about and would please its loyal, disappointed fans and yet keep The X-Files’ aesthetic, focusing on giving an audience mostly comprised of people looking for The X-Files and not Millennium what they wanted.

It would be nearly impossible to tie up three years’ worth of Millennium in one hour of television solely dedicated to that purpose, let alone if that hour were shared with another series that had its own long history of story, character and aesthetic. That’s why I think it’s wise that Chris Carter didn’t even attempt it.

Oh, sure. He gives us an update on what’s happening in Frank Black’s life, where he’s at personally and professionally, etc. We learn a little bit more of what’s happened to the Millennium Group in the series’ absence. But what we really get in “Millennium” is an emotional coda rather than a resolution. It doesn’t conclude the plot of Millennium, but I think it allows fans to say goodbye knowing that Frank Black is going to be okay.

The only thing I have trouble with is that it’s hard to take the images that we’re seeing, independently compelling though they are, and mentally tie them to a worldwide apocalypse. Zombies in the basement are such a small-scale problem when compared to Armageddon.

Also, this episode is a perfect example of how Season 7 is, understandably, more self-conscious than any season before it. The show has been around for a long time at this point and while ratings may be falling, it’s still aware of its own status as a cultural phenomenon. When Frank, Mulder, and Scully stand together as a threesome perfectly framed by the camera, it’s with an awareness that two fictional worlds with a cult-like following are colliding. And when Mulder punctuates he and Scully’s hard earned first kiss with a, “The world didn’t end,” it’s with the knowledge that the audience at home is saying the same thing.

Alright. Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, let’s move on to what we’re all really here for, shall we? After seven long, very long, years of unresolved frustration… more so on the part of fans than Mulder and Scully themselves… The Kiss.

Oh, how do I even start? It was chaste but not dead, sweet but not sugary, self-conscious but still self-deprecating, too friendly to be lustful but too lingering to be friendly, open without spilling secrets, meaningful without digging too deep, loaded yet casual, joyful yet not manic. In short, it was so much all that it needed to be that Chris Carter is lucky I didn’t hunt down his place of residence and kiss him myself.

I won’t confess how many times I’ve watched this scene and out myself as a closet sentimentalist. Suffice it to say that Mulder and Scully bring out the inner girl buried somewhere underneath layers of Teenage Ninja Turtles and Mortal Kombat, and this is coming from the child who never cried at Bambi.

I just can’t with these two. The flailing. The flailing!

I said in the review for “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4) that Mulder and Scully essentially said their vows at the end of the episode, that the only formal barrier left between them was the physical one and it was only a matter of time before that one dropped as well. If you weren’t sure then that they had an “understanding,” please pay close attention to the way this kiss goes down.

Mulder doesn’t look at Scully as if he’s just realizing how he feels about her, nor does he kiss her as if he’s declaring his feelings. I love (love) the way he looks at her and mischievously contemplates the kiss as if to say, “Why not?” Why not indeed, Mulder? Now is as good a time as any. What’s holding you back any longer? The conspiracy is dead. Diana is dead. Y2K never lived. Go on and kiss the girl.

And please notice that on Scully’s part, after Mulder kisses her, her face doesn’t say, “Mulder! Does this mean you have feelings for me? I never knew!” No, no, no, no, no. Her face says, “That was nice. What brought that on?” There’s only mild surprise at Mulder’s spontaneity. There’s no shock, no emotional breakthrough. They already know.

What I love about the fact that it’s taken so long for Mulder and Scully to get their romantic act together is that there’s almost no conscious choice involved. By the time it happens, it has already happened. It passed the point of possibility and crossed the Rubicon into inevitability some time ago while neither of them was paying attention. They don’t need a declaration, or fanfare, or even a hallway the walls of which must be painted with some sort of aphrodisiac it causes so much romantic yearning. At this point, they just are, and I can’t express in words how much I love that. You’d just have to count the flails.

Verdict:

I’ve tried to ask myself, “What would I think of this episode if there were no kiss in it?” Let me tell you, that question is harder to answer than it sounds. “Millennium” feels right, it looks right, it tastes right. And I’m especially glad that zombies finally took their rightful place in The X-Files’ repertoire. But I also must confess that while I’ve seen this episode multiple times over the years, I still failed to remember the general plot apart from the fact that it involved people coming back from the dead. Even without a kiss tacked onto the end it’s a solid episode, but in what may turn out to be my official lamentation for Season 7, it’s lost that lovin’ feelin’. Take the kiss away and I have no real reason to set my trigger finger to “Rewind.” “Hungry” (7×1) is good without being great and I’m afraid “Millennium” hasn’t broken that pattern.

But that’s okay. I don’t watch it for the actual episode anyway.

B+

Kosher Salt:

It’s interesting to note, this is the first of four episodes this season that deals with overtly religious themes. That’s right, I said “four.” On average there’s about one per season, if that, and while I doubt there was any conscious decision in the writers’ room to work things out this way, that fact struck me as I was watching this time.

I can’t help but think Chris Carter must’ve really enjoyed teaming up his three heroes, especially Mulder and Frank Black who, as Scully points out, share some similarities in character. It never happened, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if Frank Black had made another guest appearance in later years. Despite the differences in tone and theme between The X-Files and Millennium, he was a good fit on the show.

Frank Black still has his famous red Jeep. Three cheers for continuity.

I heard you throw in that Millennium music, Mark Snow!

Confession time – I make no secret about my love for this kiss, but a part of me still twinges in disappointment every time. Why? Well, it has nothing to do with unfulfilled expectations. No, it’s that there’s a moment after the kiss where Scully looks just a little too bored and I find myself wondering if Chris Carter wasn’t trying to drive home the point that the Mulder and Scully thing was never a big deal after all. And that makes me a little sad because it is a big deal. In the realm of television history and in the world of teenage girlhood it is a very big deal, my dears.

Am I the only one who finds John 11:25 being repeated over and over again incredibly relaxing?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Mulder, you been spreading rumors?
Mulder: Why? You hear any good ones lately?

———————

Scully: The year 2000 is just their artificial deadline and, besides, 2001 is actually the start of the new millennium.
Mulder: Nobody likes a math geek, Scully.

———————

Mulder: The world didn’t end.
Scully: No, it didn’t.
Mulder: Happy New Year, Scully.
Scully: Happy New Year, Mulder.

———————

Mike Johnson: I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead…
Frank Black: …yet shall he live. Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.

The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati 7×4: Don’t be so dramatic.


Scully's lost her hair and she doesn't know where to find it.

First off, I think we should walk into this mythology episode review well aware that this is only nominally a mythology episode at all. This is a long overdue character study of Mulder and the majority of it (or it feels like the majority) takes place within his own mind. Not much happens on the mythology side of things except that we learn Cigarette-Smoking Man is still holding out hope that he can turn himself into an alien-human hybrid and so withstand the coming apocalypse. Somehow his desire, Mulder’s condition and American Indian prophecy all come together in some clearly vague way – A connection which will become much clearer, and vaguer, a couple of seasons from now.

We start out with CSM scheming to get his hands on Mulder once and for all, the devilish snake ready to strike the heel of the messiah, and he chooses the most nefarious route possible: His mother. Why would Teena Mulder hand her son over to CSM? And why would CSM need her to hand him over? It’s not like his minions haven’t snuck into hospitals to do his dirty work before. If he wanted Mulder, I don’t see why he would need her permission to get him.

But, whatever. CSM finally gets him and then proceeds to cut his head open and empty the contents thereof, all the while praising him as his son and throwing suggestive grins in the direction of his son’s ex-lover.

This is one of my favorite episodes for the character of Cigarette-Smoking Man. He’s like a cat with a bowl of fresh milk. I strongly suspect we owe CSM’s newfound humor to Chris Carter’s newfound writing partner David Duchovny. CSM never cracked jokes like this before and his dismissiveness of Mulder’s self-important self-righteousness is telling – sounds a bit like the loving jabs taken at Mulder in “The Unnatural” (6×20). It’s also no secret that all this blatant symbolism is David Duchovny’s doing as well. That… I’m not quite as grateful for.

Now, I’m an English nerd and a recovering symbolism addict. I had to attend a long series of group therapy meetings post-college so it’s not like I’m immune to symbolism’s charms. (Hi, my name is Salome and I read too far into things.) But there’s so much symbolism here that at moments there isn’t much room left for story. CSM is randomly throwing out lines like, “The child becomes father to the man.” What does that even mean?? You’re not trying to hint that the repressed child deep down inside the man is going to teach him how life is really supposed to be lived in a sort of “from the mouths of babes” perspective altering catharsis, are you? Because I have no truck with that right now.

Not that my impatience affords me the right to ignore the famous Mulder dream sequence. I have to tell you, as a teenager watching this episode when it first aired I didn’t know The Last Temptation of Christ from Rocky & Bullwinkle. I’d heard of it, sure. But what was it to me? And I wonder how much of the viewing public was with me – a little lost as to what Mulder’s dream sequence, heavily inspired by the aforementioned book/film, was supposed to mean.

The whole thing is borderline esoteric, its symbolism only becoming clear as the reality of it unravels before Mulder’s eyes. But you don’t need any exposure to The Last Temptation of Christ to understand it, though I’m sure that helps (I wouldn’t know). All you have to do is go back and watch “One Son” (6×12) again. What happens in that episode? Oh, nothing. If you can call Diana helping to lure Mulder into soul-sacrificing complacency and Scully stirring him up from his sleepy defeatism “nothing.”

If “One Son” is the reality then “Amor Fati” is Mulder spiritually awakening to that reality. Both women have appeared at his bedside in “The Sixth Extinction”. Both women’s minds and hearts were completely open to him thanks to his new ability. He knows what Diana wants: For him to give in and save himself. And he knows what Scully wants: For him to hang on and fight.

I think the initial reaction a lot of fans had to this episode was horror over any scenario, dream or not, where Mulder would bed, even wed, Diana Fowley and seem to be happy about it. But while Mulder still may be attracted to her on some level, they had been lovers after all, I don’t think what we see here is any real indication that Mulder wants Diana so much as he’s tempted by what she represents. What she wants him to do, and what part of Mulder wants to do, is stop fighting, stop suffering, take the world off of his shoulders and let the inevitable happen – Would colonization be so bad if they could only be at peace? Therefore, the crux of Mulder’s dream isn’t that he chooses Scully over Fowley, it’s that he chooses courage over complacency.

Poor Diana Fowley, we barely knew ye. No sooner do you grow a conscience than it’s your time to go – That’s how The X-Files works. We can’t have you spilling secrets that would give Mulder too much help too soon, now can we?

Fowley’s motivations are becoming clearer to me now. Maybe I never really understood because I never really watch this set of episodes. (Telling, I know.) And so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take some time out to dissect her because unless I’m much mistaken, she’s never mentioned ever again.

This isn’t cannon but as best I can understand it, Diana Fowley’s situation went down something like this:

Diana knew about the aliens, colonization, all of it. How or when or why she knew isn’t important, but somewhere along the line she went to work for the Syndicate and CSM in particular. Probably under their/his orders, she led Mulder to the X-Files as a way to both put out disinformation and to control what he knew. Once Mulder was established as a crank and he was no closer to the truth than he was to China, off she goes on her next assignment which was that of an international agent. What she probably didn’t count on was falling in love with Mulder, which she did. Although who knows but that seducing him was originally part of the assignment too?

However her affection for Mulder began, she didn’t forget him all those years she went away, a fact that CSM was probably aware of. So he gives her a new, very palatable assignment: Go back and befriend Fox Mulder again. He’s too close to the truth.

The problem is, despite their surface similarities, Diana and Mulder are incompatible. He’s an idealist, she’s a pragmatist. He wants to save the world, Diana wants to survive. She wants to survive with Mulder at her side and she’s clearly hoped that eventually he’d see that they had no other choice but to cooperate with the conspiracy and save themselves. That’s why she was willing to wait for him; they could never really be together, because they couldn’t survive the coming apocalypse, unless she helped the Syndicate succeed in creating an alien-human hybrid.

Another option is that Diana discovered the truth while she was working on the X-Files with Mulder, only she didn’t share everything she suspected, perhaps because she knew Mulder wouldn’t be comfortable with her pragmatic approach, and left to work for the Syndicate because she was sympathetic to their agenda. In some ways, that would make it worse. Her reasons are completely selfish. As long as she gets Mulder and they survive, that’s what matters.

But I’d still love to know, what exactly did CSM ever do to engender this kind of loyalty in Fowley? Or was she only going along with his agenda so that she and Mulder could be safe, and once his agenda conflicted with Mulder’s safety her surface loyalty evaporated? This mysterious confession she made in “The Sixth Extinction” (7×3) is tantalizing:

I know you know about me… That my loyalties aren’t just to you… but to a man you’ve grown to despise. You have your reasons, but as you look inside me now you know that I have mine.

I think deep down she realizes that Mulder isn’t going to be OK with her plans, which is why she hasn’t made a case for her position to him even after the eradication of the Syndicate. He already knows about the agenda of those men, surely she wouldn’t be threatening those plans now by spilling the beans, she’d only betray her own treachery and risk losing Mulder for good. Maybe that’s why she agrees to be complicit in CSM’s scheme to steal Mulder’s power – He could be putty in her hands. Fortunately, her long dormant conscience resurfaces before it’s too late, possibly pricked into action by guilt over Scully’s example of uncompromising loyalty to Mulder, and despite the fact that she knows it most likely means she’ll never have Mulder, she secretly gives up his location to Scully. Bravo?

By the end of this trilogy, I was sick of Diana Fowley, exhausted by the overarching plot, and not a little worried about the future of my show. I was hoping for answers in “Amor Fati”. Instead, I got Mulder making love to Diana Fowley, which, despite all my philosophically understanding prattle above, still makes me ill. I was tired of waiting for more news on the conspiracy, whether it was dead or alive. I was tired of waiting for information on Samantha’s whereabouts. And I was mostly tired of waiting on this unnecessary love triangle. By the time it was over, the superb ending was somewhat lost on me; sort of like pearls being cast before very impatient swine.

But it is superb. Truly.

Mulder: Scully, I was like you once — I didn’t know who to trust. Then I… I chose another path… another life, another fate, where I found my sister. In the end my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. You were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant… my touchstone.
Scully: And you are mine.

As I watched this time, somewhere behind my teary eye (I can only watch this scene with one eye open) the Song of Solomon kept coming to mind: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” I want to congratulate my subconscious for making the connection and at the same time berate it for making it so late – These are, in essence, Mulder and Scully’s wedding vows.

That sounds horrendously sappy, I know, but it’s true. They’re expressing, once and for all, before a television audience full of witnesses, their faith in and their commitment to each other. (Part of me twinges a little at the thought of making any mere, fallible mortal your constant and your touchstone. But, whatevs. I get what they’re giving.)

I remember the first time I watched it feeling slightly confused. (So they’re together now… right?) I wasn’t sure if I was witnessing their official coming together or what. After this are they a romantic pair? Well, there’s been a lot of debate over the years as to exactly when Mulder and Scully initiated the romantic stage of their relationship, with even Chris Carter & Co. inadvertently sending conflicting messages. Did Mulder pop up at Scully’s place the next day with red roses and a bottle of wine? Heck to the no. But, I do believe what we’re seeing here is the disintegration of all emotional, psychological and practical barriers between them. I said these were their “wedding vows”, right? Well, think of this moment as the ceremony – Everyone present knows the wedding night is coming but it’s not like there’s a bed waiting at the end of the aisle.

For once, both Mulder and Scully know exactly where they stand at exactly the same time and I think it’s clear that there will be no threat of any future “Diana Fowleys.” There’s only one barrier left, more of a technical formality really, and that’s the physical one, which Chris Carter will see fit to break not too long from now. After that, all bets will be off.

And to think! We were almost robbed of this episode’s redemption. This was not the original ending planned and in fact, was filmed much later after the rest of the episode – hence Scully’s noticeable haircut. I’ve read what is supposed to be the original ending and it in no way provided sufficient emotional closure between Mulder and Scully after all the angst of this episode. So hats off to whoever decided to change it – I don’t know who you are except that you’re my constant, my touchstone.

Verdict:

I know some fans wish that Mulder and Scully had kissed here, but I want to go on record as saying that for all my teenage confusion back in the day, I’m oh so glad they didn’t. Turning it sexual would have cheapened the moment because what they’re expressing here goes so much deeper than that. At the same time, it makes an eventual kiss inevitable. How do you love someone any more than that?? Where else are they supposed to go with it? Why do Mulder and Scully keep having their most significant moments in Mulder’s hallway?

So I’ll see you Shippers next time when Chris Carter finally lets Mulder kiss the bride.

B+

The Mystery Continues:

Just when you thought I was done, I’m about to wind it back. Remember “The End” (5×20)? Remember how Diana Fowley was guarding Gibson Praise while secretly working for CSM? Remember how shocked she looked when Gibson told her she was about to be shot? Yeah, why was that?

The Options –

  1. CSM didn’t tell whomever he sent to kidnap Gibson that Fowley was one of theirs – The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing. Lingering resentment over the events of this episode also might explain why Fowley came to distrust CSM enough to betray him.
  2. They shot Fowley on purpose, surprising her, in order to ingratiate her to Mulder – How could he doubt her after she nearly died for the cause?
  3. Fowley was given orders by CSM to protect Gibson and genuinely thought that’s what he wanted – This would explain why anyone coming to get Gibson would have to attack Fowley to get to him and why she was so surprised.

The question remains, why didn’t Gibson hint at her disloyalty? He seemed comfortable enough with her. I guess he was too busy fanning the flames of the love triangle to warn Mulder and Scully that they had a traitor in their midst

And yet another question remains. Just how far did Fowley’s relationship with CSM go? Between the way they look at each other in “One Son” and CSM’s not so subtle leer in Fowley’s direction after delivering his, “I’ll carry the burden from here on in” line, I suspect that either they were sexually involved at some point or that their eventual sexual involvement was one of CSM’s secret goals. Talk about a Father-Son competition.

Bepuzzlements:

What’s still not clear is what in the Aunt Jemima Krycek is up to now. Why kill Kritschgau? Is he independently working toward hybridization? Working for the rebels? What? – Oh, and how about that digital Nick Lea impostor?

Why do women keep giving Mulder the Salt-n-Peppa, “I think I wanna have your baby” speech on this show? Is it because he’s a “mighty good man?” My man is smooth like Barry and his voice got base…

Okay, so Scully has a DOJ passkey. But how does she know where to go?

And I’m Done:

Notice how Mulder keeps flipping things back on Scully. “Mulder, help me”, becomes, “You help me.” “I know she was your friend”, becomes, “You were my friend… you were my constant, my touchstone.” Scully tries to comfort him at the loss of Diana, his first priority is to comfort her. Oh, the days I could go on with this stuff…

Best Quotes:

CSM: Your account is squared — with me, with God, with the IRS, with the FBI.

——————-

CSM: You’re not Christ. You’re not Prince Hamlet. You’re not even Ralph Nader. {Editor’s Note: HAHAHAHA.}

——————–

Scully: Bum a cigarette, Agent Fowley?
Diana Fowley: I don’t smoke.
Scully: Really? I could swear I smell cigarette smoke on you.
Diana Fowley: Let’s cut the crap, shall we?
Scully: Yes. Let’s.

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


Don't be subtle or anything, Mulder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does this woman creep anyone else out?

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

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

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

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

Verdict:

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Ngebe: It is the word of God.

Oh, for the love of…

B+

Comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Quotes:

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

Talitha Cumi 3×24: My justice is not for you to mete out.


Miming makes a comeback.

Let’s get the episode’s only major issue out of the way first. We already knew that Bill Mulder had a close association with CSM in the past. The inference in “Paper Clip” (3×2) is that Teena Mulder wasn’t completely oblivious to her husband’s work. But now we learn that she and CSM has an association of their own… And so the seed is planted. Did CSM and Teena Mulder have an affair? He sure insinuates it. Is Mulder really a Mulder? And what about Samantha?

For those on their first watch through the series, don’t hold your breath waiting for answers. They’re still a few seasons into the future.

But back to the episode at hand.

For once, what’s driving Mulder isn’t his search for the truth, it’s his desire to save his mother. He wants to find Jeremiah Smith because he hopes that he’ll be able to lay hands on his mother and heal her. Even when Jeremiah Smith offers to show him things that would uncover the greater conspiracy, Mulder resists with impatience because that’s not what he’s concerned about at the moment.

Mulder gets flack in the fan community sometimes for his single-mindedness and the disturbing lack of concern for those around him that can follow from it. But the truth is, Mulder does care, almost to the point of recklessness, for a few people in his life. He’s done similar things before. Back in “Paper Clip”, he had a disk in his possession (or rather Skinner had it for him) that would have given him all the answers about alien life and the conspiracy at large that he was looking for. But he gave that up so that Scully could go to her dying sister’s bedside. Then in “One Breath” (2×8) he forgoes the chance to confront the men who abducted Scully and potentially beat some answers out of them as to the nature of the conspiracy, but again he doesn’t and instead goes to comfort an unconscious Scully. The man’s all heart, really.

Probably Mulder gets a more three-dimensional treatment in this one because this is another one where David Duchovny’s name is in the story credits. You can also sense his influence in the episode’s religious themes. In the same way that he’ll later weave The Last Temptation of Christ  into the story of “The Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati” (7×4), here the famous parable of The Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov is taken, in some places word for word, and fashioned onto the head of the mythology. I couldn’t appreciate that before since I had never read The Brothers Karamazov (which I highly recommend, by the by) but even though I can recognize its recreation in those prison scenes between Jeremiah Smith and CSM, I’m still not sure I find it compelling.

Probably some background information is in order for those who are unfamiliar with Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. In this chapter of the book, two of the brothers are having a conversation about faith and God. One is an agnostic and the other a true believer. The agnostic brother tells a tale that takes place during the Inquisition, where Jesus comes back to earth and performs miracles, including a repeat of the “Talitha Cumi” miracle from Mark 5:41-42 (Talitha Cumi means “Maiden, arise.” in Aramaic). Oddly enough, while the masses are thrilled to see Jesus, some of the leaders of the Church aren’t so happy. You see, they’ve decided that salvation and truth isn’t real freedom at all. Instead, man is happiest when he’s controlled and the Grand Inquisitor is happy to control them, giving them true freedom from care.

The arrogance of the Grand Inquisitor is that he thinks he has “corrected” Jesus’ work. The arrogance of CSM is that he too, a mere man, believes he has the right or the ability to control mankind. I like the parallels made here but I’m not completely sold. CSM could very well be a modern Grand Inquisitor but Jeremiah Smith is no Jesus, he’s a clone created by CSM and his cronies. It would be more compelling, I think, if Jeremiah Smith were an alien himself whose plans for colonization CSM was not only subverting but commandeering. But I’m just being nitpicky now.

I’ve questioned before the Syndicate’s motivations in creating and maintaining the conspiracy. Evil as they are, might they not have started out with good intentions? Out of the desire to preserve the human race? Not if we’re to believe CSM. They don’t want truth to get out because they want control and they’ve deluded themselves into thinking that they want it for the good of mankind. Then again, you can never really believe CSM.

Mulder’s quest for alien life has always been pseudo-religious but here that idea fleshed out a little further. Mulder is indeed on the side of the angels. The truth may be more difficult, but there’s a freedom that you can only have in realizing the truth and bearing your cross that’s unavailable to the willfully or unknowingly ignorant.

Verdict:

I want to love this episode for its depth but instead I just like it. It’s certainly a good show, but once again very little that we’ve already learned about the mythology is made clearer. Instead new questions are raised.

One thing especially isn’t clear: Who is Jeremiah Smith? From what I’ve watched/read and been able to deduce, he’s another clone like the ones we saw in “Colony” (2×16), but an upgraded version. He has the ability to shapeshift and heal others. In an plot thread that’s explored more in Season 4, these clones are used as workers in specific areas, mindless drones merely serving to advance colonization. Whatever they are, apparently they’re not the kind of alien-human hybrid that the Syndicate is ultimately trying to create. Between the Black Oil, the Bounty Hunter, Clones and Drones maybe Chris Carter should given us an episode that was purely a primer on alien and sub-alien species.

Beyond all that, we get some great performances here from all involved. Scully doesn’t have much to do but she’s sympathetic toward Mulder in his situation without being cloying. The walls are closing in on X and he’s taking increasingly risky moves, like brawling with Mulder in a public parking lot (a scene that’s been a long time coming). And CSM shows actual concern over a real live human being, namely Teena Mulder who in turn has more knowledge about the conspiracy than we ever realized.

All in all, a good show.

A-

Nagging Questions:

CSM lets Jeremiah Smith out so that he can heal him of lung cancer, at least that’s what it looks like we’re supposed to infer. But why would he do that when he could have had the Bounty Hunter heal him? Oh, wait. I’m not supposed to know about that till next episode. Nevermind.

What did CSM really want from Teena Mulder? Surely it wasn’t just that weapon. He could have turned that place upside down looking for it rather than consult her. It’s not like she would have reported him since she never went near the place.

Nagging Comments:

I doubt Jeremiah Smith would’ve had an audience in that fast food joint. Once the shooting started, people would’ve run for the hills, not waited around to watch him heal everyone.

The religious symbolism continues – The name “Jeremiah” is also that of a famous Biblical prophet and the traditional author of both the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations. His primary message was that the children of Israel had to turn from their sins or face judgment, that they needed to stop listening to false prophets who were purposefully giving them false hope, a message for which he was famously attacked and persecuted. He’s known as the “weeping prophet.”

How about that Mark Snow, eh? The soundtrack that’s playing when Mulder discovers the weapon is fabulous.

My understanding is that at this point, a movie was already in the works, which forced Chris Carter to plan the mythology a few years into the future. You can tell that there’s still light at the end of these story arc, or at least, you can still believe there will be.

The date for colonization is set! I’d type out what it is but, you know, spoilers and all that.

Best Quotes:

Teena Mulder: I have nothing to say to you.
Smoking Man: Really? We used to have so much to say to each other. So many good times at the Mulder summer place… your kids young and energetic. I remember water-skiing down there with Bill. He was a good water-skier, your husband. Not as good as I was but then… that could be said about so many things, couldn’t it?
Teena Mulder: I’ve repressed it all.

——————–

Scully: Where are you going?
Mulder: If I told you, you’d never let me go.

——————–

Smoking Man: Who are you to give them hope?
Jeremiah Smith: What do you give them?
Smoking Man: We give them happiness and they give us authority.
Jeremiah Smith: The authority to take away their freedom under guise of democracy.
Smoking Man: Men can never be free, because they’re weak, corrupt, worthless and restless. The people believe in authority. They’ve grown tired of waiting for miracle and mystery. Science is their religion. No greater explanation exists for them. They must never believe any differently if the project is to go forward.
Jeremiah Smith: At what cost to them?
Smoking Man: The question is irrelevant, and the outcome inevitable. The date is set.

——————–

Smoking Man: You think you’re god. You’re a drone, a catalogue, chattel.
Jeremiah Smith: What you’re afraid of is… they’ll believe I am God.
Smoking Man: Well that doesn’t matter. Most of them have ceased to believe in God.
Jeremiah Smith: Why?
Smoking Man: Because God presents them with no miracles to earn their faith.
Jeremiah Smith: You think when man ceases to believe in miracles he rejects God?
Smoking Man: Of course.
Jeremiah Smith: You rule over them in God’s name.
Smoking Man: They don’t believe in Him, but they still fear Him.