"Proving to the world the existence of alien life is not my last dying wish." "What about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?"
REVIEW: Not only don't they cure Scully's cancer here, but it's metastasized AND to top it all off, Mulder appears to have committed suicide. I guess it's a good thing the schedule takes me to Millennium next. RIP X-Files. Well obviously, that's not how it's going to go down. We never see Mulder's dead face and this is a story being TOLD by Scully to the FBI lets one believe she's fudging some of these details, especially the last bit where Mulder is crying over Carl Sagan tapes before pulling the trigger. But as the tag line for this episode says, "Believe the lie". That's as much about the apparently faked alien body Mulder rescues from the Yukon as it is about Scully's testimony. We believe what we want to believe, and it's almost certain Scully's hoax is in the service of putting Mulder off the grid so he can go after the Conspiracy.
Not being "true" doesn't mean the episode isn't a strong piece of television (spoiler: none of it is "true", kids). It's got nice snowbound locations, a cool alien autopsy, gripping drama, and both action and mystery. R.W. Goodwin's direction is commendable, with plenty of immediate camera motion, several striking overhead shots that evoke a higher power, and a somehow hopeful golden light in the present-day sequences. It's one of the X-Files' prettier-looking episodes. Scully's brother Bill gets his first real appearance after his scene was cut from Memento Mori. He's still judgmental about Scully's life choices, but not quite as unsympathetic. He's the jokester of the family, but his concept of duty requires Scully to spend her last days with her mother (and presumably to reconnect with her Catholic faith to give mom, at least, some metaphysical relief). Hers is to Mulder and the FBI, though perhaps blowing the Conspiracy wide open wasn't really her life's work. Scully is always caught between two motivations in this episode. She seems to reject Mulder and his quest, but uses it to justify not spending her last days "properly". Ambiguity reigns.
Beyond the leads' suggested deaths, the real shocker here is that an apparently legit character, Michael Kritschgau, reveals all the alien shenanigans we've seen to date have been an elaborate hoax. Back to your VCRs, X-Philes of the 1990s! You've got to reevaluate everything! Well, we do know at least some UFOs are man-made, certainly the ones carrying out the abductions, so why not everything? Every time someone finds evidence, a clean-up crew shows up to destroy that evidence. It's always meant to be seen, but not fully examined. They want us to believe in aliens, but to never be able to prove it. It's a way of discrediting certain people who are getting to close to the real truth, whatever that may be (see The Truth). Is that revelation enough to make Mulder kill himself? I don't believe it. But it IS a compelling argument... We only need to forget that we, the audience, have seen much more than the FBI has.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: What is Kritschgau's clearance level? I'm thinking he has part of the truth, but not the whole truth. Yes, there are Conspiracy hoaxes, and I'm sure this "too-good-to-be-true" alien body is one of them. And while such things ARE used to discredit people, that can't be the whole purpose, nor is it enough to say it's meant to hide illegal experiments behind "abduction" stories. It's possible that the "hybrids" we've seen are really "mutants" or engineered "super-soldiers", and Kritschgau isn't counting black oil as an alien so much as a substance, but... We've seen too much to swallow this whole (Mulder has too). "Colonization" is still a very real agenda, and likely the reason behind some of the hoaxing. Integrate aliens in the public consciousness, while also devaluing hope, and you have a population that's ready to accept its new alien masters - their existence AND their superiority. The former can't come as a complete surprise, but as a confirmation.
REWATCHABILITY: High - An excellent finale I thought would be hampered by yet another hearing-type structure. Good direction, acting and plotting. The X-Files have just destroyed themselves... if you believe the lie.