The X-Files #73: Talitha Cumi

"I want the Smoking Man smoked out!"
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder's mom has a stroke, and she knew the Cigarette Smoking Man, and one of these shape-shifting aliens could be able to heal her.

REVIEW: While I'm not sure the episode should be called "Arise, Maiden" - unless it's telegraphing the healing of Mulder's mom, the victim of a convenient (for some) stroke? - it must nevertheless be said that this season finale feels much more personal than the others. Where The Erlenmeyer Flask and Anasazi advanced the mytharc and revealed things about the human-alien hybrid plot, the revelations here really have more to do with Mulder's family, and its connection to the Cigarette Smoking Man. Obviously, we already knew Bill Mulder had worked with Codename: Cancerman, but here it's suggested Teena Mulder might have had an affair with the latter, one she's defiantly "repressed". Oh man, you want to get a blood test, Mulder? Not that Mulder learns this exactly, but there's a sense that with his mother at death's door, learning that she was connected to the Conspiracy somehow doubles his grief. He might lose his mother and the IDEA of his mother. His world is falling apart, unable to act against the Cancerman who holds his sister's fate over his head, and finding he owes his mother's life to the treacherous Mr. X. He can be forgiven for breaking down, and perhaps even for drawing even more outrageous connections than usual.

Part of that is the giddy structure of the plot though. Talitha Cumi starts with a couple of red herrings, first a man who goes postal and says "they" are making him do this (a victim of the government's mind control?), then a a spiritual healer intervenes and saves all the shooting victims' lives before disappearing (so this is an episode about the war between Heaven and Hell?), and THEN turns out the healer was one of those shape-shifting aliens, just like the Bounty Hunter... Well, it's all got to be connected somehow because it's featured in the same episode, right? And Teena's scrambled clues do lead Mulder to getting his hands on a wholly unimpressive alien-killing ice pick hidden in a lamp. Mulder seems desperate, but it pays off because the script needs it to. The very fact that these aliens have healing abilities now comes out of left field and only seems to exist so that Mulder will want to track them down to save his mom.

With all the shape-shifting involved, the alien story line can be a little confusing, especially since the aliens can obviously only draw from certain templates. "Jeremiah Smith" is one such template, apparently, one even the Bounty Hunter himself draws from, which makes for several iterations of the man, all so named. For the healer who is apparently betraying the "greater purpose" (see The Truth), it makes sense. Jeremiah was a prophet who was imprisoned for telling God's inconvenient message that shed light on Jerusalem's wicked ways. By threatening to blow the whistle on the Conspiracy, and by going against its tenets by manifesting "miracles" and drawing attention to himself, this Jeremiah invokes the Biblical character. But why are ALL the Jeremiahs CALLED that? Are they ALL whistle-blowers (except the Bounty Hunter who's slumming in the role)? The alien "clones" that were previously featured weren't shape-shifters but used a similar "template" idea, but they didn't all go by the same name! A bit bizarre all that. If the Jeremiah in the cliffhanger - who isn't the Jeremiah having philosophical discussions with Cancerman - gets to tell his "complicated" story, we might get some answers, but I'm not counting on it. Speaking of Cancerman though, this is a BIG episode for him. In addition to his cold confrontation with Mulder and his scene with Teena, he scores several with the alien and learns that maybe he's well named (not that "these men" have any names, according to Skinner) - Jeremiah tells him he has lung cancer! A natural development we could all have seen coming, or just a captive who'll say anything to create a bargaining chip? Will the Cigarette Smoking Man become the Nicotine Patch Man, or will he never see the Big Plan come to fruition?

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: The date has been set for "colonization", and we get a lot of talk about the "greater purpose". That purpose, according to the Cancerman, requires humanity to be without hope, and to replace religion with science (which he thinks is well under way, a 90s perception perhaps, he'd have to revise his thinking post-9/11). Jeremiah disagrees with the assessment, but nevertheless, it tells us something about the kind of colonization they're talking about. Does humanity need to be desperate so it will accept aliens as saviors, and further, hold science in high esteem so that alien gifts will be seen in a positive light? Are they taking a page from "V"? The Syndicate's members would apparently be given "overlord" status to a global society of slaves, and for these pseudo-Illuminati, it's enough. No wonder there's dissent in the ranks. Seems like a failure of ambition to me.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The puzzle pieces don't fit very well into a larger picture, though I appreciate how personal the show's mythology is getting for Mulder. Great episode for the Cigarette Smoking Man, if not for internal logic.



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