Over the course of nine seasons and 2 feature films, The X-Files transcended its cult status, becoming a phenomenon and cultural touchstone. With a new series on the way, special agent Rick Shingler has accepted the assignment to rewatch the entire series from the beginning and provide detailed reports about his findings. Come with us now, as we explore the mysteries of the complete X-Files. S4E17 “Tempus Fugit” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Rob Bowman) / S4E18 “Max” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners) This story happened largely because the special effects supervisor built a model. During the third season, Dave Gauthier built a mock-up of the cabin of a 737 with suspension capabilities which would make it able to simulate a plane crash. Cool, right? Chris Carter must have thought so, because he and Spotnitz wrote an entire two-part episode to center around a plane crash (or two). They also seized an opportunity with this story to bring back Max Fenig, an abductee and self-made UFO specialist introduced in season one’s “Fallen Angel.” On board a commercial flight somewhere over upstate New York, Max Fenig sits nervously clutching a bag to his chest. He has sores on his face, the result of radiation burns. Another passenger goes to the airplane bathroom to assemble a ceramic pistol he had smuggled past airport security. As he is preparing to step back out into the cabin, the pilot loses control of the plane and bright lights begin shining through the windows on one side of the cabin. The emergency escape door is pulled off its hinges. Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully are celebrating the latter’s birthday with drinks at a bar. Mulder gives her an Apollo 11 keychain which he probably picked up at a Smithsonian gift shop on his way to the bar. Somewhere after the bar staff singing “Happy Birthday” and Mulder ordering the next round, they are approached by a woman who identifies herself as Max Fenig’s sister. Her name is Sharon Graffia and she is worried about Max. He was supposed to have met her, but his flight never landed. The next morning, search crews examine the wreckage of the airliner in a field. During a meeting with Mike Millar and his NTSB team on scene, Mulder demonstrates his ability to suck the air out of a room with his theory that the plane may have been forced down by a UFO because of Max Fenig’s multiple abduction experiences. Unfortunately, there is no record of a passenger named Max Fenig on the manifest. As they begin to examine the remains of the passengers at the crash site, they realize that all of their watches stopped nine minutes earlier than the crash. This, Mulder believes, stands in support of his UFO theory. Elsewhere on the crash site, an NTSB agent (that isn’t really an NTSB agent after all) recovers the ceramic gun from the would-be assassin and uses an aerosol acid to dissolve his fingerprints and facial features. The passenger who had been sitting next to Max is found, and he is miraculously alive (although barely). He has suffered from severe radiation burns, leading Mulder and Scully to theorize that whatever Max was carrying to his meeting with Sharon was probably stolen radioactive material of some sort. Scully goes back to Washington to question Sharon, who admits that she is not actually Max’s sister. She goes on to inform Scully that Max had been working at an experimental energy-source laboratory under the alias Paul Gidney (the name of one of the Moon Men from the first episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle, no less; well played, Max). Scully is now convinced that Max’s carryon was some form of Plutonium, which was what caused the burns on his seat mate. Mulder is holding onto his UFO interception explanation, explaining the other passenger’s burns as being a result of his proximity to the abductee. Scully shoots his balloon, telling him that Max’s body has been recovered from the crash site. Meanwhile, unknown to the agents, Sharon Graffia is abducted by a bright light from the hotel room where Scully had secured her. Mulder and Scully interview an Air Force air traffic controller named Frish who tells them of his radar observations at the time of the crash. He says he was not in contact with the airliner, but that he watched it go down on his radar screen. After they leave, he and his partner argue over whether they should tell the truth. When Frish returns to duty hours later, he finds his partner has suffered a bullet to his forehead. A group of military men arrive and storm the tower, but Frish is able to elude them, freeing him to seek out Mulder and Scully to tell his real story. His commanding officer had ordered him to feed them the story he told before, but the truth is that he watched as another craft intercepted the airliner. It had crashed immediately after its interception with the military craft. Mulder alters his theory to allow for the arrival of the Air Force plane, which he now believes shot down the UFO while it had control of the commercial airliner, and that the destruction of the UFO led to the system failure of the plane that crashed. Scully takes Frish back to DC to get him into protective custody while Mulder follows a hunch that the UFO went down in a nearby lake. Mulder puts on scuba gear and goes diving, where he finds the UFO, complete with its gray alien crew. Back in DC, Scully has arranged a meeting between her, Frish and Skinner in a public place to determine their best course of action in protecting him. The fake NTSB agent, who retrieved the ceramic gun from Max’s proposed assassin, steps into the bar and aims at Frish. Unfortunately, Agent Pendrell unwittingly steps in front of the bullet as he attempts to deliver a birthday drink to Scully. Mulder, still in the lake, looks up to see lights and realizes that he is no longer alone at the watery crash site. Mulder makes his way to the lakeshore, but is immediately surrounded and arrested by commandos. In the DC bar, Scully tries to keep Agent Pendrell alive while they wait for ambulance. The shooter gets away. As Pendrell is being taken out on a gurney, Skinner arrives for their meeting. He tells Scully that the military has filed an injunction demanding they turn Frish over to them. The Air Force’s new narrative is that Frish and his partner provided a flawed trajectory to the jet that intercepted the flight, negligently causing the crash. When she retrieves him from the military stockade where he’s being held, neither Mulder nor Scully are completely satisfied with this explanation. At Max’s trailer, they find a video tape on which Max claims to have found definitive proof of alien life. Millar, the NTSB team leader, is frustrated that he can’t seem to prove or disprove the military’s cover story. Mulder tells him what he believes happened. He believes that Max boarded the airliner with something containing proof of alien technology, but his flight was intercepted by a UFO seeking Max and his carryon item. In the middle of Max’s encounter, while the UFO maintained the pressurization of the opened passenger jet, and the other passengers could do nothing but watch, the military jet arrived and shot down the UFO. Since the UFO’s technology was the only thing keeping the commercial airliner intact and still in the air, the plane crashed to the ground. Back at Max’s trailer, Mulder finds a baggage claim ticket from the airport in Syracuse, NY. Sharon confesses to Scully that she had stolen technology from her former employer and that she and Max had divided it into three components for transport. Max had one on the plane with him, she had another one, and the third one was hidden away. Mulder recovers the third part and boards a plane to return to Scully with it. The fake NTSB agent is on the flight as well, and takes the component away from Mulder. While the two men confront each other mid-flight, the plane begins to shake and a bright light appears, coming from the starboard side of the plane. When the flight lands in Washington Dulles, Skinner and Scully rush aboard to find a dazed Mulder, and no sign of the device or the other man. His watch shows that he is missing nine minutes of time. As an unexpected return and send-off for Max Fenig, this storyline really came out of the clear blue (see what I did there?). It’s the first two-parter that wasn’t strictly a mythology-rich story, but rather a fairly self-contained follow-up to what I consider to be one of the finest episodes of the first season, “Fallen Angel”. It probably could have been told as a faster-paced single episode, but the two-part format allowed the story to unfold at its own speed and really make use of what was really a remarkable set piece. Besides, I can’t begin to imagine how much of the season’s budget was blown by assembling the crash site and the reconstruction of the crash in the hangar. From a story perspective, once again Max is a perfect representation of the collateral damage possible by the sort of secret-keeping that the military industrial complex is perpetuating here. One could argue that Agent Pendrell was gunned down senselessly while pursuing his civilian life and add him to that representation as well, even if he isn’t exactly a civilian casualty. Max was something of a go-to guy for the aliens, and we may never fully understand their repeated interest in him. Were they studying him because he was epileptic (a fact established during his appearance in the first season), or was he epileptic as a result of tests performed upon him? We will probably never really know for sure. S4E19 “Synchrony” (w: Howard Gordon & David Greenwalt/d: James Charleston) Did you ever hear the story about Stephen Hawking’s party for time-travelers? He rented a hall, put up decorations, prepared food and had bartenders standing by. No one showed up. He announced the party the day after it was held, assuming that any actual time-travelers would be able to retroactively RSVP. I really love that man. With this episode, we slip into a bit of hard sci-fi with a paradoxical little time-bender. While not the season’s best episode, it’s an hour you probably won’t feel like you need to go back and erase. Its only real flaw is its own ambition. Well, that and the multiple paradoxes created within the story, but I’m more than willing to forgive them for an engaging time-travel caper. As they cross the campus of MIT, Jason Nichols and Lucas Menand are embroiled in an argument regarding some of Jason’s research. An elderly man approaches them, insistent that Menand is going to die when he gets hit by a bus at 10:46 that evening, and they must do everything in their power to prevent it happening. Campus security takes the old man into custody and the Jason and Lucas split. Within moments, they both learn one of the most valuable lessons in all of fiction: If a crazy old man tells you something is going to happen, you really need to take him at his word. At exactly 10:46, Lucas unwittingly steps out in front of a bus and is killed while Jason runs to try to save him. By the time Mulder and Scully arrive on the scene, Jason has been taken into custody for pushing Lucas as a result of the bus driver mistaking his intentions when he saw him running toward Lucas just before he fell into the path of the bus. Also, the security guard who had arrested the old man has been found frozen alive with Jason’s fingerprints on his sleeve and on the inside of the campus patrol car. Jason explains to Mulder that Menand was threatening to discredit his research, but holds fast to his protestations of innocence. The old man, meanwhile, having escaped the campus cop, intercepts Dr. Yonechi, a Japanese research scientist and uses some sort of stylus device to puncture his hand. Dr. Yonechi freezes in the same manner as the campus security guard. Scully presents the compound found in Dr. Yonechi to Lisa Ianelli, Jason Nichols’ girlfriend and fellow researcher. She recognizes it, but is puzzled because it hasn’t been created yet. According to her, Jason’s research was leading to the compound, but he was years away from synthesizing it. Huh? After a moment of thought, Lisa says that because of how recently Yonechi had been frozen that it might theoretically be possible to revive him. After bringing his body temperature up to normal in a bath, they are able to resuscitate him. Unfortunately, the instability of the compound causes his body temperature to continue rising until he spontaneously combusts on the lab table. Following a tip to a hotel where the old man had been spotted, the agents find a faded photograph of Nichols, Ianelli, and Yonechi toasting some success with champagne. What’s odd is that the three of them have never been in the same room together. Mulder hatches his theory that the old man is a time traveler. What’s more, the old man is the future Jason Nichols, come to derail some future accomplishment. The old man confronts Lisa, injecting her with the compound, but Scully, having watched the mistakes made with Dr. Yonechi, is fully prepared to successfully revive her. Young Jason finds his older self in the computer mainframe, deleting all of their research. Old Jason explains that the advent of time travel in the future spun the world into chaos, and he had come back to prevent it from ever being possible. During the inevitable struggle between the two Jasons, both men are consumed by fire as Old Jason combusts. In the end, Lisa goes back to work in the lab, trying to reconstruct the compound. Forgetting the most glaring paradoxes, this was a perfectly enjoyable foray into unexplored territory for this show. Sure, Fringe would be all over this stuff years later, but the particular sort of sci-fi typically presented on the X-Files was rarely quite so over-the-top as to attempt time travel. The quantum science that is touched on is interesting, but could have been expanded upon. It started to suggest the use of faster-than-light tachyons, but was quickly dropped. As quantum mechanics are entirely outside of Scully’s scientific bailiwick, there just wasn’t an opportunity for her to regale us with possible scientific explanations like she usually does. All that said there are far worse ways to spend an hour. Just think: you could have been watching Sliders. S4E20 “Small Potatoes” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Cliff Bole) Thank you, Vince Gilligan, for finally finding a way to make the X-Files funny again. There has been a serious dearth of whimsy this past season. In fact, if memory serves, the last time the show really made me laugh would have been Darin Morgan’s swan song, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” way back in the third season. Sure, there have been chuckles here and there, but not a single one that made me want to call a friend and say “Did you see that? That was hilarious!”. Gilligan wrote the role of Eddie Van Blundht with writer-and-sometimes-actor Darin Morgan in mind. Morgan’s resultant presence in the episode could only have served as a comedy good luck charm. In recent months in the hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia, five babies have been born with tails. Mulder, naturally, can’t resist a good tabloid headline and drags Scully along to check into the situation. Amanda Nelligan, the mother of the most recent tail-wagger, tells the agents that Luke Skywalker is the father of her child. Upon Scully’s questioning, Nelligan proudly informs them that she’s watched Star Wars nearly four hundred times. A test of the babies’ chromosomes indicates that all five babies share the same father. The parents of the first four babies storm the offices of a fertility doctor who had worked with the four mothers, demanding an explanation. While nosing around the clinic, Mulder spots a maintenance worker who has a scar on his back. The scar looks just like one that might result from the surgical removal of a tail just like the one that’s all the rage this season in the nursery scene. The man is named Eddie Van Blundht, and tests prove that he is, in fact, the father of all five of the babies. Scully believes he roofied the women in order to rape them. Mulder isn’t sure. He sees it as unlikely that Van Blundht could have found himself in a position of opportunity to slip a drug to any of these women. During his booking, Eddie transforms his features into those of the booking officer and escapes the station. Mulder and Scully visit Eddie’s home where he lives with his father. Eddie’s father, it turns out, had worked the sideshow circuit at the lizard boy for years before he retired. The agents quickly realize that Eddie’s father is actually Eddie posing as his own father, but they are too late to react and he escapes. Searching the house, they find Eddie’s father’s decomposed body in the attic. Meanwhile, the fugitive Eddie enters the home of the parents of one of the babies, posing as the baby’s father (no, I KNOW he’s the father – you know what I mean). He goes into the bathroom and locks himself in. While he’s still locked in the bathroom, the real man that he was posing as comes home from work. Thinking quickly, Eddie transforms his features into Mulder’s face and exits the bathroom, telling the new parents that he was there as part of his investigation. Scully performs an autopsy on Eddie’s dad and finds a curious layer of muscle just under the epidermis of his entire body. Mulder wonders that if the same musculature was passed to Eddie (just like his tail) whether it would allow him to reshape himself to resemble anyone whose features he had studied. While maintaining Mulder’s appearance, Van Blundht visits the Midichlorian-enriched Amanda to ask her about… Well, himself. She quite candidly tells the story of her regretful teenaged romance with him, much to the substitute Mulder’s dismay. He leaves, just barely missing an interception from the real Agent Mulder. Mulder, realizing that Eddie had just been there, begins searching the hospital. In the locker room, he intercepts a security guard and a doctor, handcuffing them together under suspicion of being the shape shifter, only to be attacked by the real Eddie, who was hiding in the ceiling the whole time. He gets the jump on Mulder and locks him away in the hospital’s boiler room. Just to prove that he’s not a monster, he leaves Mulder a lunch fit for a grade-schooler within reach of the shackled Mulder. Van Blundht makes his way back to DC to take up life as FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder. He files a report of the case, from which Skinner notes that he misspells the word “bureau” twice. He turns up at Scully’s apartment with a bottle of wine and a dishonorable agenda. Surprisingly, and despite her initial misgivings, Scully seems to enjoy being romanced a bit. Just as Mulder Van Blundht leans in to seal the deal, the real Mulder bursts through the door. A month after this attempt at first base, Eddie is on a constant dose of muscle relaxants to contain his particular talent. He criticizes Mulder, telling him that while he is a loser by circumstance, Mulder is one by choice. I have very little to add to this episode. It is a fun romp, and a welcome departure from the doom-and-gloom of the earlier parts of this season. Mulder’s seduction of Scully, while awkward just doesn’t seem to catch her entirely off guard. How many times has Mulder arrived at her apartment in the middle of night before this, one wonders…? S4E21 “Zero Sum” (w: Howard Gordon & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners) You know, I really had Skinner as a boxer guy. Or maybe boxer-briefs. But tighty-whities? That’s a stretch of credibility. I actually find it sort of disappointing. Maybe it was laundry day. For this episode, Gillian Anderson was unavailable, due to a conflict with the filming schedule of the film The Mighty, so the writers were challenged with writing an episode without Scully for the first time since the first season’s “3,” when she was giving birth to her daughter. Eventually, the decision was reached to center the episode on Walter Skinner, putting the bulk of the episode squarely on his shoulders, with Duchovny barely even in the first couple of acts. With this episode, Skinner finally learns the implications of his deal with Cancer Man for Scully’s life back in “Memento Mori.” It was time for Faust to pay his due to Mephistopheles. In a shipment processing center in Vienna, Virginia, one of the employees is attacked and killed in the ladies’ room by a swarm of bees. Assistant Director Walter Skinner, Mulder’s boss, deletes all evidence of the case from Mulder’s computer, including an email from a local investigator requesting his help. He then travels to Vienna in the night, sanitizes the crime scene and puts the postal worker’s body in an incinerator. He even poses as Mulder to access the evidence on file and swaps out the blood sample of the victim. Detective Thomas, who had emailed for Mulder’s help, confronts Skinner, believing him to be the agent he had asked for help, but Skinner brushes him off. After a bit of gratuitous T and A (you’re welcome, ladies), Mulder arrives at Skinners apartment just as he’s making his 4am garbage run to dispose of the clothes he wore for his caper. The agent is concerned about the disappearance of some files that were supposed to have been sent to him on his work computer. Fortunately, he had received the same information from a second source at the scene, but he’s concerned that someone seems to be going to great lengths to cover up this situation. And now, to Skinner’s surprise, Detective Thomas who had reached out to Mulder in the first place has been murdered, further suggesting a cover-up. Skinner lets fly a string of subtextual, non-verbal expletives that would make Marcel Marceau blush through his white greasepaint before giving Mulder the green light to pursue his investigation. He’s going to have to fly solo, though, because Scully’s in the hospital getting some tests done with her endocrinologist. Skinner meets with Cancer Man, angrily denouncing the death of Detective Thomas. Cancer Man smugly refuses to allow Skinner to back out of their deal. Making matters worse, Mulder calls Skinner to tell him that he’s uncovered evidence that the postal worker’s blood sample was switched and her body was destroyed as part of some cover-up. Also, initial ballistics have determined that the bullet that killed Thomas came from a gun he has recovered at the scene. Skinner looks in his desk drawer to realize that his gun is missing. By now, it’s abundantly clear that actor Mitch Pileggi’s superpower is being able to emote the most complex strings of curse words without ever speaking. Skinner knows he’s backed into a corner now and sets out to determine for himself just what he’s been actively covering up, because the man pulling his strings is patently unwilling to collaborate. Returning to the ladies’ room and the scene of the postal worker’s death, he finds a complex of honeycombs in the wall and some remnants of the bee colony which had created it. He takes one of the bees to an entomologist who recognizes it as being similar to one Mulder had questioned him about several months ago. Skinner goes back to the X-Files’ basement office and finds a file of the case detailed in this season’s opener, “Herrenvolk,” where Mulder and Jeremiah Smith visited the Canadian worker colony made up of human clones based partly on his sister Samantha’s DNA. Skinner finds a reference to the name of Marita Covarrubias in connection to Mulder’s line of questioning concerning the genetically modified bees, and contacts her for information. She is unable (perhaps unwilling?) to provide any evidence. Meanwhile, the entomologist to whom Skinner had brought the bee samples is killed by a swarm in his lab. Mulder and Skinner discover that the victims of the bees are infected with Smallpox, which had been eradicated years ago through the global administration of the vaccine. Skinner goes to visit the friend of the dead postal worker, who tells him that she was pressured into silence by men who visited the processing center demanding a container that had been left in the center’s damaged package room. Mulder’s line of inquiry has revealed a frame from a surveillance camera tape placing Skinner at the scene. Members of the Syndicate meet with Cancer Man, giving him the green light to conduct an experiment. A swarm of bees aggressively attacks an elementary school playground, killing one of the teachers and putting several children in the hospital. Skinner arrives on the scene, but so does Covarrubias. She thinks he’s part of the agenda being pushed by the Syndicate (well, she’s not entirely wrong). He tells her that he thinks the bees are being used as carriers for some unknown experiment and directs the hospital staff to treat the children for smallpox. Back home, Mulder is waiting to confront Skinner. You ever have one of those days? Skinner convinces Mulder that the gun that killed Thomas was stolen from his desk, and confesses to having stricken a deal with the Devil for Scully’s life. Mulder turns in the gun as evidence, but files the serial number off so that it can’t be connected to Skinner. Skinner goes to Cancer Man, demanding at gunpoint to know why Scully hasn’t been cured yet. Cancer Man, with infuriating coolness, tells Skinner that Scully will die if he dies. Skinner fires three shots past his head in frustration. After Skinner leaves, he receives a call from Marita Covarrubias. He tells her that she needs to tell Mulder exactly what he wants to hear. Another man, unseen, is in the room with her listening on another line. And she seemed like such a good and trustworthy clandestine informant, didn’t she? Still, both Deep Throat and X had deep ties to CSM and his government contacts, so we’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out, I think. Loyalties run deep enough as to seem invisible and non-existent on the X-Files. I couldn’t help but feel that Mulder surprised Skinner throughout this case. Skinner has always considered Mulder an extremely gifted profiler, but I don’t know if he fully realized his agent’s equally acute investigative abilities. Maybe he just always thought of Scully as the stronger detective of the two. For whatever reason, he underestimates Mulder over and over again throughout the first half of the episode. Once Skinner came clean, Mulder held all the power in the situation. Luckily, Mulder’s profiling abilities also allow him to be able to see the trustworthiness in those he considers allies, even if their actions are sometimes questionable. He sees that Skinner was being manipulated, but that his motivation was pure and in line with his own purposes. It’s great when you realize that your boss is a really good guy, you know? S4E22 “Elegy” (w: John Shiban/d: James Charleston) For this episode, character actor Stephen M. Porter takes the role of Harold Spuller, an autistic man living in a residence for cognitively challenged adults. His portrayal is consistently on point. If the setting of this episode seems just a little like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, that might be partially because of the presence of veteran character actor Sydney Lassick in one of his last screen appearances before his death in 2003. He was Charlie Cheswick in that film. Here, he’s just Chuck. Angie Pintero owns a bowling alley where Harold Spuller works. Harold keeps the bowling shoes clean and organized, a task he takes extremely seriously. Angie tells Harold that it’s time to go home for the evening, even though the shoes are somewhat out of order. After ushering his employee out, Angie discovers a blonde girl wedged up inside of the pin sorter at the end of one of the bowling lanes. She is trying to say something, but no sound is coming out. He runs to get help and, seeing police lights outside, rushes out. Once outside, he finds the police and several bystanders gathered around the body of the same girl he had just seen inside. When Mulder and Scully arrive to question Angie, Mulder quickly jumps to the conclusion that the dead girl’s ghost had appeared to the man. There have been three more similar reports in the area over the last several weeks. On the bowling alley, directly under where Angie saw the apparition, Mulder finds the words “she is me” scratched into the wax. Detective Hudak, the local head of the investigation, tells the agents that one of the victims was reported to them through an anonymous 911 call. The caller claimed that the other victim had said “she is me” as she died, which would have been impossible considering her larynx had been cut. The call came from a public phone inside the New Horizon Psychiatric Center. While questioning the group of residents, Mulder notices that Harold seems evasive and pursues an inquiry with him. Upon examination, Scully comes to the conclusion that Harold’s profile could possibly point to him as a potential suspect. She has to go to a bathroom to attend to a nosebleed related to her cancer treatment. While in the bathroom, she sees another blonde spirit and the words “she is me” appear on the mirror. Mulder tells her that he just received word of another victim, which they go to investigate. Later, at the bowling alley, Mulder finds Harold in a room behind the alleys. He has plastered the walls with used bowling score sheets, including those of all of the victims. While Mulder is making the connection that Harold would have had access to all of the victims through his job, Harold sees the spirit of his boss Angie standing behind the agent. Harold runs out into the bowling alley to find Angie collapsed with a fatal heart attack. Scully is chilled to realize that the apparitions seem to be appearing to people who are near death. Back at the home, Harold is confronted by the most ill-suited person ever to enter the nursing profession, Nurse Innes. Nurse Innes is found on the floor of the room, claiming that Harold attacked her. His friend Chuck tells the agents that Nurse Innes was trying to poison Harold through his meds. In a wild, yet accurate jump of logic Scully realizes that Nurse Innes has been killing the girls, and was trying to frame Harold (heh – frame, like in bowling) for the murders. Scully confronts her in the bathroom, where the nurse attacks her with a scalpel before the agent fires her weapon, hitting her in the shoulder. Scully explains that she believes Nurse Innes had been taking Harold’s medication, which had a dual effect. It increased Harold’s agitation and his neurological behaviors while putting Innes into a constantly agitated, aggressive state. She knew that Harold loved the women at the bowling alley, and she was determined to take them away from him out of pure spite. Harold’s body is found in an alleyway, having suffered respiratory failure while running away. Scully finally admits to Mulder that she saw the apparition in the bathroom, then gets into her car to see Harold’s spirit sitting in her back seat. One of the things that truly elevates this show is its compassionate portrayal of those who exist on the fringes of our society. Whether it’s by choice or necessity or simply hard luck, those living outside of the mainstream are always the ones with the best stories to tell, and the X-Files understood that. Another of the show’s strengths was its tender yet unflinching portrayal of human mortality, which is front and center throughout the back half of this season and into the next. Dana Scully, arguably one of the strongest characters to come out of television in the last twenty years, is dying. She knows she’s dying. Her medical background makes her all-too aware of the ways that her own body is turning against her. Yet she moves on. She continues to put on her strongest face. That is, until she thinks no one is looking. That’s when the fear and anger and frustration set in. Mulder sees through it, but he’s respectful enough to maintain a distance. It’s pretty safe to say that he’s handling Scully’s medical situation worse than she is. And, as we’ve seen many times over the past four seasons, when Mulder is having trouble coping, he makes dumb decisions, as we’re about to witness in the next episode. S4E23 “Demons” (w: R.W. Goodwin/d: Kim Manners) This would be the sole X-Files writing credit for show producer and sometime director R.W. Goodwin. He was inspired by an essay by Oliver Sacks about a man who was able to demonstrate perfect recall of every moment of his childhood. It would also begin to sow the seeds for a deeper understanding of the grand conspiracy perpetuated by men like Bill Mulder, CSM, and Deep Throat and Fox Mulder’s role in it. Mulder wakes up from a dream of his sister Samantha to find himself in a strange hotel room with no memory how he had come to be there. He’s covered in blood. He calls Scully, and after a quick drive to Rhode Island, Scully finds him in shock with a terrible headache. He is missing the past two days. Two rounds have been fired from his gun, and he has a set of keys with the name Amy on the keyring. He brushes aside Scully’s plea that he go to a hospital, worried that he might have been involved in some sort of crime. The keys match a car in the hotel lot, leading them to Amy and David Cassandra, who they find dead with gunshot wounds in a house near Mulder’s childhood summer home. While there, he collapses with a flashback to the young Cancer Man in his house while his parents argue. The police take Mulder into custody based on the circumstantial evidence against him, but he refuses to confess to anything except complete amnesia. Scully participates in the autopsy of Amy Cassandra and discovers a scab on her scalp just above her hairline. She returns to the police station, armed with evidence of hallucinogenic levels of ketamine in both Amy’s and Mulder’s blood. One of the police officers shoots himself while Scully is in the station. It is explained to her that he believed himself to have been an alien abductee and had been remanded to a desk job for the past year. Mulder suffers another of his crippling flashbacks, this time seeing both of his parents bitterly arguing with the Smoking Man while he and his sister looked on from upstairs. Scully’s toxicological observations are able to cast enough doubt on Mulder’s guilt to allow him to be released. Scully has formed the working theory that Mulder had visited the Cassandras to discuss what they claimed to have been their abductions when something went wrong and the couple acted out a murder/suicide with Mulder’s gun. The agents pay a visit to a Dr. Goldstein, who had been using an experimental method to try to draw out both Amy’s and the suicidal police officer’s repressed memories of their abductions. Goldstein gets a little defensive and claims to have never met Mulder. With no other information to glean from the doctor, the agents leave. In the parking lot, Mulder falls to the ground as he experiences another of his flashbacks. This time it is an argument between the young Cancer Man and his mother Teena. Their next stop is Mulder’s mom’s house. He confronts her, demanding to know how much input she had on the choice to have Samantha taken instead of their son. He questions the extent of her relationship with CSM. And as long as he’s on a roll, he questions whether Bill Mulder is even his father. This earns him a well-deserved slap across the face from his mother. She retreats upstairs, and Mulder bails, leaving Scully alone in a strange house in Rhode Island with his angry mother. Dude. So not cool. Mulder runs back to Dr. Goldstein, demanding that he continue the treatment he had obviously started on him but denied when he had visited earlier in the night. Goldstein cooperates, inserting a nasty-looking drill through Mulder’s forehead. Scully arrives at the office with the police and arrest Goldstein, but Mulder is gone. She finds him in his family’s summer home with his weapon. He appears to be on the verge of shooting himself, but turns the gun on Scully when she enters the room. She talks him back down and he is cleared of all charges, considering he was a victim of Dr. Goldstein’s highly unconventional methods of memory recollection. As if Scully doesn’t have enough on her plate, he has to go and pull this garbage? Seriously, Mulder, it’s a wonder Scully doesn’t screen your calls at this point. This episode, I think, marks a step toward a coherent explanation of Mulder’s role in the conspiracy at the center of this show. We already knew that his parents had chosen which of their children would be offered as an abductee, but now it would seem that Cancer Man had a hand in their decision not to choose Fox as the sacrificial lamb. This poses an interesting dilemma. Why would Cancer Man care if the son of his colleague was given up? Were there long-range plans for Mulder, even at that young age, to maneuver him into a position that could be manipulated by the Syndicate? Or is it possible CSM’s motives are more personal than that? S4E24 “Gethsemane” (w: Chris Carter/d: R.W. Goodwin) This is a wicked season finale. Sort of like that second season closer when the train car full of alien-looking corpses exploded with Mulder trapped inside, only this time with a betrayal that would make Judas sit up and say, “Hey, that’s so not cool!” In a scene that hearkens back to the one of the series’ very first moments, Scully sits in a room with Section Chief Blevins discussing her work with Mulder and the X-Files. This is the first we’ve seen Chief Blevins since pretty early in the first season, so it’s hard to imagine that this episode won’t be impactful. The tagline at the end of the opening credits is replaced with “Believe the Lie” for this episode. Scully enters Mulder’s apartment amid several officers. She is asked to identify the body that is lying covered on the floor. The detective lifts the sheet, to which she nods a positive ID and leaves the apartment shaken. Back at the Hoover building, she sits in a panel led by Section Chief Blevins to tell her story. Jumping back several days, a study team exploring the Canadian Yukon Mountains has made a startling discovery. It would appear to be a completely intact extraterrestrial life form, frozen in an ice cave. The team’s leader, Doctor Arlinsky brings four ice core samples back to Washington and contacts Mulder. Mulder calls Scully away from a gathering with her mother, brother, and several unidentified revelers to join him in meeting Arlinsky. Scully seems relieved to be called away, as her mother had arranged for the family’s priest to sit next to her at the table and offer counsel regarding her cancer. Initial examination of the ice core samples seems to indicate that they are genuine, meaning that the figure frozen in the ice has been there for over a hundred years. Mulder and Arlinsky are ready to jump on a plane back to the site of the discovery, but Scully adamantly insists that she does not want to join Mulder on this crusade. Before he leaves, he asks her to at least do a full analysis on the core samples to make sure they are as legitimate as they seem. She reluctantly agrees, and all the tests performed confirm their theories about the age of the ice. A man enters the lab, stealing one of the core samples and leaving the rest to melt. Scully pursues him, but he overpowers her and pushes her down a flight of stairs. Back at the mountain camp, a shadowy figure with a shotgun moves from tent to tent, shooting everyone in the expedition while they sleep. Scully’s brother Bill meets his sister at the hospital with clean clothes. He is angry with her over the way she’s pushing herself in the face of her illness, and seems wary of her association with Mulder. She doesn’t want to hear it. Using a fingerprint found in the lab, she is able to identify her attacker as a Defense Department employee named Michael Kritschgau. She corners him in a parking garage and demands that he explain himself. He tells her that if he does, he will likely be killed. Meanwhile, back at the mountain, Mulder and Arlinsky have arrived at the ice cave to find that all the members of the expedition team have been shot and the E.B.E. has been removed from the ice wall. Fortunately, one of the members, a man named Babcock, has survived with superficial wounds from the shotgun. He tells them that he had buried the alien body before the invader had come into their camp. They dig up the block and transport it back to a warehouse somewhere in Virginia. Once there, Arlinsky performs an autopsy on the extraterrestrial, all of which seems to verify its authenticity. Mulder leaves to find Scully. In his absence, the shotgun-wielding man from the mountain camp enters the warehouse and shoots Arlinsky. Scully brings Kritschgau to Mulder’s apartment, where he tells the agents that everything they think they believe about extraterrestrials, including the staging of his sister’s abduction, is a lie manufactured by the Defense Department to cover the activities of the military-industrial complex. Mulder is dismissive towards Kritschgau, but is taken aback when Scully informs him of the man’s claims that her cancer was generated simply to help confirm his beliefs. He storms out of his apartment and returns to the warehouse with Scully, where they find Arlinsky and Babcock dead and all traces of the alien body missing. Later that night, Mulder sits in his apartment watching old tapes of what appears to be the 1968 Congressional Hearings regarding UFOs, during which Carl Sagan spoke at length regarding the unlikelihood of intelligent life outside of our own planet’s sphere. We jump ahead to Section Chief Blevin’s panel, as Scully pronounces the illegitimacy of Mulder’s work in the X-Files before announcing to the gathered members that she had identified Fox Mulder’s corpse that morning, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. …Aaaaand fade to black. Damn. This finale is a puzzle, one which seems to be able to be put together in more than one way. On the one hand, it would appear to validate everything we’ve come to accept about the series. On the other, it simultaneously sheds a specter of doubt over everything we believe. Just as Scully has been facing a crisis of her faith, Mulder’s own particular brand of faith is shaken to its core. It’s a parallel between the two that has been hinted before and will pop up with much more potency later in the franchise. The loss is much more devastating for Mulder. Scully’s turning away is something of a pragmatic move, as her belief in the power of science has come to supersede her belief in God. The disintegration of Mulder’s faith in his work and the things that go flash in the night is due to some degree to a guilt he carries over those who have sacrificed and fallen in the wake of his pursuit of the elusive Truth. For both of them, the world is crumbling around them. In Scully’s case, her body and science are deserting her as her cancerous growth has metastasized and is not-so-slowly invading her brain cavity. For Mulder, he’s stepped past too many bodies (Deep Throat, his father, X, and likely Scully very soon) on this mission for it to have been in vain, yet it is beginning to appear to be the case. Scully sure seems to be convinced there at the end, and it’s perhaps a betrayal of this magnitude that could have pushed Mulder to an act such as Scully describes to Blevins’ panel. See larger image The X-Files: Season 4 New From: $17.40 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.