That's right, this one is coming in two different segments, because quite frankly, there is no way I could get into the various character comments *and* an analysis of the mythology in a single post!
Let me begin, then, with a look at the way that this episode affected the characters, setting aside the mythology as much as possible.
Mulder: Well, now, this is not as straightforward as one might think, although knowing 1013, they will force the issue and write him as more or less unchanged by his six-month ordeal. But I have to say, it has been fun seeing all of the posts, here and elsewhere, whining at how this counts as a "full" Mulder episode!
More on some possible Mulder thoughts in the mythology segment.
Scully: While the funeral scene was short, it packed a solid punch. As usual, it was Scully that provided that punch. As annoyed as I might have been with the sudden jump in time, it was good to finally see the pregnancy showing. Speaking of that jump in time, I was annoyed that we never got to see the consequences of her not telling the FBI about her condition. We do see her in more of a support capacity here, but that was entirely plot-driven. Maybe they figured that her lack of honesty in this situation was nothing compared to the deception and outright defiance she has shown in the past.
We also missed out on the moment when Ms. Scully discovered that her daughter was pregnant, which would have been interesting, at the very least. I suppose that one could assume, by her presence at Mulder's burial, that she understood the circumstances. But it was still another cheat.
One could see the weariness in her eyes when she warned Doggett to get out while he still could, as if she were questioning her own choices over the years, with Mulder apparently dead and gone. Equally, the hope simply leapt from her face when they discovered Billy Miles.
I was a bit disappointed in the way that she treated Doggett here, if only because she should have been used to his "wild mood swings" by now. But one could attribute that to Scully's own frayed emotions. The struggle between her need to stay focused and her need to save Mulder was plainly evident.
Skinner: Just as Scully's emotions were hard to ignore, it was hard to miss what was running through Skinner's mind. From the beginning, when we see that his choice to take up Mulder's crusade has cost him professionally, to the moment when he had to choose between Mulder and Scully's child, Skinner's struggle was a wonder to behold. It is not often that we get to see him in so many different ways. Frankly, it reaffirms my original thoughts on Pillegi's acting talents, a set of opinions sorely tested by years of passionless voiceover work in third-rate paranormal specials.
Krycek: Ooooh, how I love the bad guys! Krycek was in rare form in this episode, clearly holding the upper hand. You can tell that he knows much, much more than everyone else, and he revels in that knowledge. I cannot wait to see how he screws with them next!
Kersh: Well, OK, I love *most* of the bad guys...Kersh is still the perfect evil bureaucrat.
Doggett: I saved this one for last, because after reading a number of other reviews, I think that Doggett is getting an unfair amount of criticism. It is almost as though the return of Mulder, even as an alien zombie, lures some fans into forgetting what we know about Doggett's personality.
The fact is, Doggett has always resisted any paranormal explanation for any event until his own thought process forces him to look in that direction. Why was it so much of a shock that he would want to look for something other than an alien explanation? And then, why is it considered a sudden change in personality when he goes to Absalom for answers? It is perfectly rendered Doggett, and not too different from early Scully, I might add.
More interesting is the dynamic between Doggett and Scully. Shippers were worried that Doggett and Scully would get involved with one another overtly, or that Doggett would make a pass at Scully. Of course, the beauty of Doggett's character is that he would never think of doing such a thing, even when it is obvious that he has a strong affection for Scully, if not a hidden love for her.
It's a subtle thing, to be sure, but one could not deny that there is something going on in Doggett's mind when it comes to his partner. It's in every look that he gives her, every gesture he makes (no matter how utterly, typically male) to protect her child, the hurt in his eyes when Scully attacks his point of view. But the worst part, the part that really hit me, was the uncertain, lost look he gave Scully when he saw her embracing Mulder. He had given up his career for the truth, the one thing she would admire the most, and just as quickly, he can no longer be sure of where he stands.
Oh, and for those who worry that he looked bad getting beaten by Krycek...well, come on, it's Ratboy! And besides, Krycek needed an entire row of parked cars to get Doggett's hands from around his neck.
For an episode seemingly about Mulder, I'd say this episode was equally about Doggett.
Some other thoughts:
- If there was any question of Mulder's place in the world, the small and eclectic group of mourners made it very clear.
- Who decided to fly in Ms. Scully and the Gunmen for what amounts to a cameo shot? (And who else was waiting to see a lone figure in a wheelchair, smoking away, on a distant hill?)
- Some people are asking where Agent Reyes was...but why would she be there? Doggett called her for help on a single case. Her reason to come back would have to be equally evident.
- Absalom was a lot more freaky this time around...
There is not much more I can say regarding the characters. I felt that they were well rendered, and with the exception of some small annoyances regarding some scenes we should have been privy to, this episode was simply packed with wonderful moments.
Part 2: The Mythology Review
If there is one comment that I have read over and over again regarding this episode, even from those who had spoiler information for *months*, it's "They didn't tell us anything!".
Are we watching the same show?
Unless I am mistaken, this episode advanced the mythology more in 42 minutes than almost every mythology episode since "One Son", with the possible exception of "Requiem", which provided the perfect platform for this episode's action.
Allow me to attempt to put the events of this episode into perspective (or at least my perspective!).
Just over two years ago, we learned that the plans for colonization involved a rather unpleasant process of taking an alien virus, which was the actual alien itself, and infecting a human being with it, resulting in the gestation of an alien body for the virus to inhabit. A vaccine/treatment for the virus was developed, which was eventually used against the aliens to save Scully's life.
One big question was: now that the aliens know about the vaccine, what are they going to do about it?
Answer: Create a new system of infection and gestation that makes it much harder to tell that the process has occurred. A human is infected, the body placed into a state near death, and a new perfect human host body emerges, under the complete control of the virus itself.
There has always been the question of why the virus was assumed to control minds rather than kill through gestation, and this is the probable link. If Purity cannot invade efficiently using one means, it switches to a means that effectively leads to mind control of a body with advanced healing potential.
I have always maintained that the abductions beginning in "Requiem" were designed to perform tests on specific individuals for the purposes of colonization. I thought it was related to the hybrid program, but now we see it was related to the actual colonization method. Regardless, all the people who wanted to know what had happened to the old colonization plot should be pleased to see it has always been there, in the background.
And now we also see what Jeremiah Smith was doing. Not only was he healing the body, but he was also healing the abductees of the alien virus. The fact that the bodies of the abductees were near death would not matter to him, for the very reasons we saw in this episode.
On another level, it appears that Krycek knows what is happening. He is obviously the man in charge of the current effort to stop colonization, and it is interesting that he has already managed to develop a vaccine. (One should not read too much into his comment that the vaccine was developed by Mulder's father; he was obviously refering to the fact that Bill Mulder was the one who originally demanded they create a vaccine.)
How could Krycek, or even his Syndicate, have created a vaccine for the virus so quickly? After all, the old vaccine would be useless...the intelligently adaptive virus would have been able to beat it, now that it had been exposed on such a grand scale. And the new virus had only been used on a few select individuals. So who would have known enough to create the new vaccine? And why would Scully's baby be so important in relation to it?
Answer: the alien Rebels
The Rebels took Cassandra Spender because she was a perfect hybrid, which would give the Colonists the means to create others to use as a slave workforce to aid in mass infection. Equally, they would have known the methods of the Colonists from past experience. Unlike the original Syndicate, which was working with Purity too closely to develop the vaccine with the Rebels, Krycek has no reason to not work with them. Hence, the new vaccine, a working knowledge of this phase of the colonization, and the means to fight it.
The Rebels would want to eliminate Scully's child because Krycek knows that both Mulder and Scully were exposed, and then treated, for exposure to the virus. Therefore, the child would be a perfectly natural hybrid, far more potent than even Gibson Praise (whose parents were pure human). And since we know that the Colonists have advanced cloning capabilities, they could easily use Scully's child as the template for the workforce they desire. Having been unable to obtain the child through the ongoing genetic program being run through the fertility centers, the only other option is to try to eliminate the child altogether. This would eliminate the threat of an advanced beginning for colonization, giving Krycek and his allies more time to develop a defense.
Kersh obviously fits into this. He was ready to reward Doggett when he was no longer getting involved in the Mulder issue, leaving the rest vulnerable to Krycek's plans due to his control over Skinner. But Doggett refused to back down, and when he actively began working against Krycek, Doggett was immediately smacked back down into the basement.
Looking back, the investigation that Kersh wanted Doggett to conduct in "Within/Without" was aimed to destroy and discredit Mulder, Scully, and Skinner, leaving Krycek able to work without interference. And in fact, it worked...until Billy Miles was found in this episode.
And also, this explains Cancer Man's words at the end of "Requiem". There was the question, why did Cancer Man want the ship so badly? Because, obviously, that was where they were testing the new incarnation of the alien virus. If Cancer Man knew about the revised threat, it would explain his actions in "Amor Fati" and "Requiem" perfectly. Not able to find a means to protect himself genetically, he wanted to get the means to create a vaccine.
When Krycek betrayed him, he did not know that Krycek had his own plans. And so, "What you do to me and to Mulder, you do to the entire world."
Even the fact that the advancement of the alien virus was dependent on body temperature does back to "Fight the Future" and even "Endgame", reminding us that the virus requires thermal energy for its own activity.
Which brings me to the interesting question of what actually happened to Mulder. In the past, existing antivirals never worked. So it is interesting to note that they worked for Mulder in this case. That could only be true if Mulder's previous exposure to the original vaccine weakened the current virus enough to be overwhelmed by existing antivirals. Otherwise, Mulder is not who we think he is. I hope Scully remembered to test him like she did Billy Miles!
Overall, counting both the character and mythology segments together, I found that this episode was one of the best mythology episodes in years. It brought back so much of the feeling of earlier seasons, when we truly knew nothing, and advanced the mythology plot light-years beyond where we were. Sure, nothing was resolved, but we're much closer than we ever have been over the last three years.
I give it a 10/10.
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