The X-Files #140: The End

"Control the board. Know which men to sacrifice and when."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: The FBI and the Syndicate take an interest in a telepathic chess wizard. First appearance of Agent Diana Fowley. Oh, and the X-Files burn down.

REVIEW: While I won't deny a lot happens in this episode, especially in relation to the mytharc, but there isn't a whole lot of action. Or there is, but the leads are rather far from the fray. With various characters repositioning themselves, as if on a chess board (natch), there isn't as much space for Mulder and Scully to investigate or shoot bad guys. But then, this is a rather quiet and unmysterious case, where a little boy's telepathy is quickly spotted and proven. The focus is instead on who wants him dead and/or under their control (does the Syndicate have a change of heart, or is the Well-Manicured Man playing behind their backs?). The fact the kid is more or less taken when the agent watching him falls asleep (she wakes up just in time to get shot, really) is indicative of how little care went into the A-plot.

If the Conspiracy is the real A-plot, then we do have action there. Krycek coming to get the Cigarette Smoking Man in his Rocky Mountain Quebec hideout (hm) seems very strange though. He's now working for the Syndicate? What happened in between episodes? Don't they know he'll betray them again? Bringing the Cancerman back for a single mission, almost eliminating him at the end of it, then not doing so... Who can keep these shifting loyalties straight? There must be a chart on the Internet somewhere; I just don't want to spoil myself. But I've pretty much given up on figuring them out. OBVIOUSLY, you can't kill Cancerman. He's too cool. His death messages to the assassin, written on the back of cigarette boxes, provides more proof of that.

The episode is called The End, and metatextually, it certainly is for a number of production people. This is the last episode shot in Vancouver (the city does get a nice cameo at the start). Inside the story itself, it's not quite THE END, despite rumblings that the Attorney General wants to close down the X-Files after a MASSIVE FBI screw-up, unless you're called Mulder. And it's not just that Cancerman burns down his office. It just seems like everyone is out to take something away from him. Scully, for example, completes her transformation INTO Mulder by going to the Lone Gunmen for help. She's been stealing Mulder's shtick all season. Then there's Mimi Rogers' Agent Fowley, his former partner and fellow believer trying to convince him that she's who he needs, not Scully, effectively trying to take Scully, or the idea of Scully, away from him. Diana Fowley (even the name is similar) did go all the way with Mulder, triggering Dana's jealousy. Mulder defends her point of view, of course. Even Mulder's subplots aren't safe, as Cancerman turns Agent Spender into Mulder Take 2; the villain even goes so far as to reveal he's Spender's father (so one step beyond the allusions Mulder got out of him). And the one file saved from the fire? Samantha Mulder's. Which should remind you that earlier this season, Cancerman took his sister too. And in fact, his entire world view. Mulder is a character now in need of rebuilding.

If Cancerman is Spender's father, how did he sire him? We know Mama Spender was an abductee, so did the relationship occur as part of a follow-up? (If so, Scully should watch who she dates.) Or was she impregnated by Cancerman's seed, either directly (unseemly) or medically? And does it mean Mulder can't also be the product of Cancerman's affairs? That would make Mulder and Spender competing brothers, which is an interesting wrinkle. And then there's every chance that he's lying to Spender, and they share absolutely no genetic material. With that guy, you can never know.

- A lot of important things happening, I just wish the paranormal plot device had been more than a MacGuffin.


snell said...

"Who can keep these shifting loyalties straight? There must be a chart on the Internet somewhere; I just don't want to spoil myself. But I've pretty much given up on figuring them out."

I've always suspected that Chris Carter himself stopped trying to figure them out, or stopped worrying about them making sense. An inevitable consequence, perhaps, of the show going on longer than anyone initially had dreamed possible, and having to keep all of the Conspiracy balls in the air for longer than planned.

Of course, they could have wrapped up most of the Conspiracy stuff by now, and moved on to new conspiracies. But they didn't seem to have the daring of the imagination. The fact that for the second time in five years the cliffhanger is "they're closing the X-Files!! Oh no!" bespeaks of some lack of long-term planning...

Madeley said...

Series 4 and 5 are the weakest ones for me, although I recall liking 5 more than 4. By this point in the original run, it had definitely lost some of its appeal. I remember particularly disliking the fact that the X-Files themselves were hardly mentioned any more, and that was a large part of what attracted me to the show in the first place- all these strange, old mysteries in basement filing cabinets (and I loves the Secret Origin episode, when we find out the filing clerk used "X" because they'd run out of space under "U".)

Of course, it turns out that wasn't really what Chris Carter was interested in, ultimately, which is fair enough. But I remember being really fanboy-angry when, right before the film, they actually BURNED the damned files.

Looking forward to see what you think of series 6. It was the last series I watched regularly at the time as I was in University for the last few ones and missed them. I certainly remember actually quite liking series 6, even though it was full of "quirky" episodes of the kind that I don't usually enjoy.


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