"A man with faith can indulge in the luxury of skepticism."
REVIEW: No episode is as clear about how our two favorite agents have switched positions than this one, in which Mulder is betraying his peeps by debunking the existence of aliens on expert panels, while Scully's abduction experience leads her to believe the opposite and act on it. To Mulder - who, don't worry, still believes in the supernatural, just not gray aliens - it's all a government conspiracy. He's bought Michael Kritschgau's story. But she can't reconcile the similarities between her experience and "Patient X"'s, the mother of another FBI agent who claims to know all about a war between the goodie aliens who want to help us and the rebel aliens who are apparently incinerating former abductees in out of the way car parks. In this version of the Conspiracy, the implants are homing beacons that make abductees hear the aliens' call, the summons to be taken up. But then why is Scully still aware of the summons, and how do we reconcile any of this with the experiments and ova snatching we know she underwent?
But then, when it comes to the mytharc, a lot of elements work at cross purposes. That's even true of the episode's plot. For example, Krycek is back and so is Marita. At first, the former Syndicate stooge spits at the current one. Later, we raise an eyebrow when she doesn't come right out and tell her bosses that Krycek was present and that he took the sole witness of an incident in Kazakhstan. Finally, it's confirmed that she and Krycek aren't just in cahoots - they're lovers! Krycek is betraying his new Russian friends too, because as soon as they infect said witness with black oil, he's sown his face holes shut to prevent the oil from moving to another host and is taking the kid to America. He was once possessed by the oil, so he knows full well the danger. Marita lets down her guard though, and doesn't notice the host is pulling his sutures out. Brrr. Very effective horror imagery.
Everybody's betraying everybody in this one, and that includes Mulder and Scully being untrue to their former selves. She's standing under bright lights, stealing the UFO imagery that used to be his. She asks what his theory is and answers that he prefers explanations to theories. The FBI agent whose mom is labeled as a UFO prophet asks Scully to keep the FBI away from this for his career's sake and is dismayed to find she's the one pursuing the case. No wonder I can't make myself trust this guy or his mom. Are they just part of one faction or the other, just more manipulation of our agents?
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Mulder can say what he likes, we objectively know there are aliens in the X-Files universe. Not necessarily Grays, but something. The black oil is of extraterrestrial origin, and is still an issue in Patient X. The Syndicate still talks about "them" and how this other faction - looking like creepy unfinished men - has accelerated and subverted the plan's time table. Whatever's supposed to happen - the "colonization" - is supposed to be 15 years off. There's always the possibility the Syndicate's been lied to - after all, the Cigarette-Smoking Man lied to them a LOT - but to what end? I trust nothing in this story arc, Chris Carter least of all.
REWATCHABILITY: High - A lot of twists and turns and a strong statement of the show's shifting status quo.