"If you were to die now, the truth will die. And only the lies survive us."
REVIEW: We know Mulder can't be dead, but the third season's opener nevertheless has a funereal atmosphere. Scully walks around in a haze, always, it seems, on the edge of letting out a tear. She's visited by Frohike of the Lone Gunmen, a sweet scene that makes us believe he really is smitten with her, in his own, hopelessly awkward way. Scully goes to her support system, her family, though one of those scenes was deleted from the finished program. As it is, Scully's psychic sister Melissa (or "Missy") kind of turns up out of nowhere, but it gives us a chance to see the conflict that must have reined in the household all their lives, something that just wasn't possible in Missy's premiere episode because Scully was in a coma. And now Mulder is having his own near-death experience, one very similar to Scully's, and Missy is getting good vibrations from the beyond. She links the two episodes, and the two experiences.
But does Mulder's experience "happen" in the actual afterlife, or is it a figment of his imagination. I'd like to say the latter. How he survived the explosion or even hide from the black ops crew in that boxcar is a mystery, but he did, and the Navajo practice the magical healing arts to save him. It's a sweat lodge experience, essentially, and the dead souls who come and talk to Mulder don't really impart any knowledge he wouldn't have access to, and furthermore, all speak in a kind of poetic way that isn't natural to either of them. Great speeches, mind you, from both Deep Throat and Bill Mulder, about truth and untruth, and the reason to keep going, to keep living and seeking. But these seem to me to be internal monologues couched in Mulder's own literary style, telling himself things he needs to hear, and in Samantha's case (that she is still alive), wants to hear. Then again, Scully gets a convincing dream via the after-net, so maybe there's more to it. But this is a very poetic episode in general, eloquently written by Chris Carter, and singularly narrated by the Navajo elder in evocative style, the first time someone other than our two agents was allowed to tell the show's story. The Blessing Way is poetic even in its visuals, transitioning from the star field of Mulder's afterlife to the stars of the American flag at his father's funeral.
And there's a plot too, one that threatens to send Scully down the same dark paranoid path that led Mulder to his almost-death. She discovers she's been "chipped" during her abduction (I guess airports were a different place in the mid-90s, or else she might have beeped earlier). She gets visits from Conspirators like the "Well-Manicured Man" accosting her and giving her information/warnings. Every time she walks into Skinner's office, the Smoking Man is there (how do either of them get any work done? What goes on at this secret meetings?). And she's been tapped for assassination. It's very obvious from the staging that Missy will take a bullet meant for her sister, but it's still a shocking moment, a flash of gunfire in the darkness and she topples. Krycek, you bastard! At least he's sweating like this might lead to his own demise. So it looks like Scully CAN trust Skinner, but it's great to see her handle him as if she can't (his story about finding the missing tape in Mulder's drawer doesn't really ring true, does it?). And... cliffhanger! Holy crap, this thing's going to at least three episodes!
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: When I compared the Syndicate to the Illuminati yesterday, I wasn't kidding. The Well-Manicured Man says their goal is to "predict the future" by inventing it. If they decide what happens next, then they can profit from it and maintain their power. How all that relates to alien intervention remains to be seen, but alien technology, and the patents that might be derived from it over time, seem the easiest way to go about it. Control of information is equally paramount. What we have here is an ancient conspiracy that could only be threatened by outside interference, which is what the aliens represent. But it's not a conspiracy without difference of opinion, as the Man reveals when he decides to save Scully.
REWATCHABILITY: High - If you were expecting lots of answers, you won't get them. Instead, the show's becoming a runaway train fueled by even more questions, shocking twists and a literate script.