Chris Carter promised a cliffhanger for THE X-FILES’ season 10 finale. Understatement of the decade, Mr. Carter. In a final episode that felt more like one of those disaster-themed summer blockbusters than a television show, Dana Scully finally found at least one of the answers she’d so often sought: Her abduction had given her the key to her own survival and maybe even saving the world. Armed with science, logic, and a ton of alien DNA, Scully’s kind of like Buffy at this point, assuming THE X-FILES gets an eleventh season.
She saved the world. A lot.
And so it begins. Much like its Mulder-centric counterpart in the season premiere, “My Struggle II” opened with one of those voiceovers THE X-FILES has always done so well. This time, the focus was on one Dana Katherine Scully. Her version of the events in the original run of THE X-FILES was shared with an audience, setting up enough history and emotional kickback to that history to make it very clear that this finale was not going to be an easy one to watch.
Scully wanted clear answers about her abduction. She wanted the truth…And it was about time she got both.
With the voiceover complete and the stage set, the story began with Scully entering the X-files office — where she apparently still isn’t worthy of either her name on the door or a desk, even after all of these years of seeking the truth alongside Spooky Mulder — only to find that her partner was nowhere to be found. It seemed that Mulder had been watching Tad O’Malley’s newly-returned conspiracy talk show before simply vanishing.
Scully was, in fact, so “fine” upon watching said talk show on Mulder’s computer that she was startled by Mulder’s ringing phone. The caller? O’Malley, who invited “Dana” (it’s Agent Scully, you jerk) out to the Unremarkable House, where he was supposed to have had a meeting with Mulder, only to show up and find that the house had been destroyed.
Sorry, Fox William Mulder’s not home.
After the ever-skeptical Dana Scully argued with Tad O’Malley about the existence of alien DNA in every human, she called the police to report Mulder missing and made her way back to the X-files office, where she met with Agents Skinner and Einstein. All Einstein wanted to do was argue with her fellow scientist about the “pure science fiction” of Scully’s alien DNA story.
Ok, Einsten. Two pieces of advice: One, the “science fiction” line is Scully’s; two, you should probably talk less when Scully and Skinner are trying to find Mulder. They’ve been there, done this, at least a thousand times. Let the adults work, little girl.
(If only John Doggett had been here to talk about how determined he was to “find Moldah…”)
When asked why Mulder would have gone off on his own without her and refused to answer her calls, Scully said he was afraid of her judgment on his mental state. Or, you know, it could have just been that that’s how Fox Mulder has always operated; and you simply can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Putting the science in science fiction. Two skeptical medical-doctors-slash-FBI-agents walk into Our Lady of Sorrows…I feel like the end of that should be a joke, but unfortunately, it’s not.
As Scully and Einstein made their way to the hospital for Scully to scientifically prove to Einstein that the alien DNA truly existed, they were met by a very sick man. As Scully later deduced, the cause of this man’s illness was anthrax, to which he had been willingly exposed via vaccine. Live vaccination has been used by the military to prevent soldiers in case of biological warfare, but with weakened immune systems, actual infection occurs.
Scully’s initial guess, although Einstein wasn’t having any of it, was that the alien DNA was responsible for killing immune systems. Einstein, due to what I can only assume was a death wish, outright told Scully she was wrong; but as it turned out, Scully had made a little bit of a mistake. As she found by testing Einstein’s DNA and seeing that nothing alien was present, there was something more going on here. By putting their collective scientific minds together and finally admitting the reality that “…the science we were taught takes us but a distance toward the truth,” Scully and Einstein realized that our lady and savior’s alien DNA was actually what was keeping her healthy.
The Spartan Virus was responsible for breaking the infected people’s immune systems through ripping away the ADA gene, but those with the alien DNA were, somehow, protected. So, for some unknown reason, the abduction and testing that led to Scully’s cancer and was supposedly done, at least in part, to punish Mulder for getting too close to the truth…saved Scully from becoming ill over twenty years later. She would be one of the chosen few that would survive this massive outbreak and destruction, all because she’d been used as a pawn in a game once.
The important takeaway from this is that Dana Scully is The Chosen One. Again, she’s a lot like Buffy on that front.
Whatever the failed logic is in that explanation, Dana Katherine Scully became the potential savior of all humankind. (All humankind except one Fox Mulder, but we’ll get to that later.) As the situation became like something out of a Robin Cook novel, yet blamed on the aliens instead of the monkeys this time, Scully amped up her own magical life force to create a vaccine and save us all. With Mulder gone, Scully needed Einstein’s help with building theory, especially when the alien sequence initially didn’t show on a test, but Scully is our lady and savior.
About that betrayal. Monica Reyes also played a major role in helping Scully find the answers she needed to, assuming THE X-FILES returns and ends on something other than an apocalyptic note, save the world. But the way she came by the crucial information she provided was neither pleasant to hear nor the most in-character story that’s ever been written.
In the midst of explaining to an increasingly and irritatingly in denial Einstein that she’d tested her own DNA six weeks ago (ok, so it’s only been six weeks? Sure, we’ll go with that…) because of her own mysterious history, Scully received a phone call from an unknown number. I guess she didn’t recognize Reyes’ voice, even after all the quality time they spent together while Mulder was first abducted, then on the run (or out buying ice cream, if you’d prefer)?
Scully had to be told the caller was someone who had been there for her when she’d needed help in the past before realizing the woman who was with her, talking about singing whale songs when she gave birth to William, was on the other end of the line.
And yes, Reyes was there for Scully back in the dark, Mulderless days. They were close friends — or so I’d thought — by the time THE X-FILES ended its run with its ninth season. Reyes was the one Scully repeatedly called for help keeping her son safe and was one of a handful of people she’d ever let hold him without threatening to shoot. She was there when Scully made the painful decision to give William away; Reyes was also instrumental in helping Mulder and Scully go on the run in the original series finale.
What has Reyes been up to since 2002? Apparently, she was summoned by none other than the Cigarette Smoking Man himself and offered a deal to save her life if she became, like, his neck cigarette holder? And she accepted. The loyal, caring Reyes, who’d always been able to read people for their positive or negative “vibes,” was suddenly in league with a C.G.B. Spender who was so nastily burned, he’d needed his face reconstructed and his neck turned into an emphysema stick sucking hole.
Reyes. Seriously? Our lady and savior, Dana Katherine Scully, wasn’t impressed with her former bestie. Scully even went so far as to ask why Reyes had even bothered to contact her, other than to admit what a coward she was.
Reyes redeemed herself as quickly as anyone could, given the situation, by providing Scully with the key information — that only those selected and given the technology shared by the aliens back in the 1950s were safe — proving herself to be a major, major player in this finale. But was it worth it to drag a once-beloved character so far by turning her into such a traitor? I’m not sure.
Scully, in her infinite kindness, did actually refer to Reyes as a “friend” when sharing her findings with Einstein later, so at least there’s that. Maybe they’ll make up and sing some whale songs together when this is all over — if it’s ever all over, that is.
We’re gonna find Mulder. While Scully and Einstein put their science brains together to stop the massive outbreaks, Mulder was doing the Mulder thing, taking off on his own. At one point, Scully tried calling him — probably for at least the thousandth time — and broke hearts, alien and human alike, with practically begging him to pick up.
He didn’t pick up. If anyone’s surprised, I suggest that they watch THE X-FILES again from the beginning and count the number of times this has happened, always with bad results.
It was pretty evident from the first time we saw him that Mulder wasn’t in the best of health, and it looked like he’d been in some sort of physical altercation, too. As we learned from Reyes, Mulder had been summoned by Cancer Man; but as we saw via flashback, Mulder had destroyed his own home when the person his father sent to fetch him came to the door.
…and then off Mulder drove, in increasingly terrible shape, to find Evil Daddy in South Carolina. Because Scully was otherwise occupied, Skinner called Agent Miller to hunt Mulder down. Apparently, Scully wasn’t smart enough to find Mulder’s phone tracker application on his laptop, but Miller found it instantly.
Sure. Fine. Whatever.
Despite being sick, Mulder’s physical attacks, on both whichever henchman The Cigarette Smoking Man sent to find him and our loathed villain himself, were the stuff of action hero legends. And his refusal to join the conspiracy was the embodiment of every good thing Fox Mulder has ever been. Being such a loving father, Spender dangled Scully in front of Mulder as some sort of blackmail, only causing Mulder to threaten him if he hurt her in any way. Again, classic Mulder. And classic Emphysema Man with not caring enough to save Mulder’s life when he refused to turn, choosing to gloat over his failing state instead.
Eventually, Miller found Mulder and took him away from devil’s lair…but it might have been too late.
Hell hath no fury… Finally in possession of her self-created cure, Scully received a call from Miller with his and Mulder’s whereabouts. After leaving plenty of vaccine with Einstein to save the doctors at Our Lady of Sorrows, Scully did what Scully always does when Mulder’s in trouble: She dropped everything to go save him.
Driving against traffic, then rushing on foot to find Mulder and Miller, Scully arrived with the vaccine…and basically ignored Miller’s presence once she laid eyes on Mulder. It was no “Mulder, it’s me,” but her “Mulder, I’m here” was a powerful moment in and of itself. Scully’s here/there for Mulder. That’s a big deal, even after all of these years.
Bittersweet smile planted firmly on her face (oh, welcome back to The Pain Files, everybody), Scully listened as Mulder told her that “Old Smokey” had saved her and he guessed he should thank the man, all while Scully made the horrible realization that Mulder might be too far gone for her vaccine to help him.
If Scully’s abduction gave her the life-and-world-saving alien DNA, how did Mulder’s abduction and subsequent near transformation into a super soldier not worthy of alien DNA? Are we to believe that Scully’s use anti-virals to save his life over a decade ago were what damned him now? Or was he just never deemed worthy in the first place?
And then the big kicker…What would save Mulder? Stem cells. Whose stem cells? Remember when I said William was hanging over everything, and I hope he played a big part in the finale? Someone at THE X-FILES was listening. William’s stem cells should have Scully’s magical protection from the virus, so if she can find him before Mulder dies…
…but then it ended? Yes, THE X-FILES season 10 ended on a huge, huge cliffhanger. Mulder on the brink of death, Scully realizing she’d have to hunt down William and use him to save his father’s life — so much for giving the kid up to avoid having him used in this game — and…bright, white light coming from the sky. Add a zoom in on one of Gillian Anderson’s lovely eyes, and there you have it.
THE X-FILES is over. Hopefully, it’s not forever. I want to believe it will return.
- I don’t know whether Chris Carter is a madman, a genius, or some sadistic combination of the two. With the leads’ schedules what they are and no guarantee that this thing was going to be successful, ending on the traditional cliffhanger was gutsy. Add the type of cliffhanger to the mix, and I’m simultaneously disappointed and impressed.
- I’m still hurt about Reyes. It’s going to take a while to get over that one, but I loved having Annabeth Gish back. At least there’s that.
- Mulder and Scully were separated for 99% of this finale. Given that it could have been the last episode of THE X-FILES, ever, I don’t know if that was the smartest choice. The draw of the series has always been the dynamic of their partnership — regardless of whether or not one wants to believe it was platonic — so having the two spend so much time apart is somewhat disappointing.
- “We go out with a frightful, deafening silence.” Um, basically.
- Dana Scully may be the world’s lady savior in Chris Carter’s fictional world, but David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are television’s gods and saviors in their own right. I think I’ll end this final recap of THE X-FILES (again, hopefully just for now) with that.