"Will this all end one day, life no longer passing to life? The Earth left barren like the stars above, like the cosmos? Will the hand that lit the flame let it burn down, let it burn out? Could we too become extinct? Or if this fire of life living inside us is meant to go on, who decides? Who tends the flames?"
REVIEW: The Syndicate is dead, the mystery of Project Purity has been explained, so where can the mytharc go? Leftover rebel business and getting Samantha back? Nope. Instead the show will pull a Chariots of the Gods and tie the mystery of life's origins to alien intervention. Navajo has already been referenced as an alien code, and the ship at the end looks suspiciously familiar, so we have to assume that these are always the same aliens, the Grays who wanted to colonize us. Either they are an ancient species, here before the first protein evolved into a cell, and/or their visits have suffered from relativistic effects, or they came to an Earth filled with life but devoid of humans and created our species alone. As slave labor/incubation sacks. This makes a little more sense given the time scale involved, but also that their secret message also includes the text from Genesis. Why they would have to engrave their ships' hulls with our genome as well isn't clear. And Mulder definitely should not have jumped to the conclusion that aliens created humanity, not that early in the episode. That they created Western culture and religion, as a control mechanism, installing themselves as God (and thus potentially responsible for the divine acts recorded in the Bible, possibly other sacred texts) is what we should understand from the first four acts, and nothing more.
But then, Mulder was already going crazy by that point. Because to a psychic fellow like him (presumably?), that Navajo code can unlock things in his head, makes his power grow. He seems prescient or telepathic, or both, until the pain in his head becomes too much. After Field Trip and its similar brain pain, I'd have half a mind to say we were still in fungal VR! There's also a report Skinner shouldn't have read! Those two episodes really shouldn't have gone out back to back! But no, the things that are "off" really are "off"' like Skinner apparently staying at Mulder's bedside like he has nothing else to do, or Scully spanning thousands of miles in single cuts (her arrival at the hospital from New Mexico is particularly jarring, but she'll visit the Ivory Coast before the producer credit). Of course, some of the weirdness is rooted in the plot - Skinner working for Krycek, Mulder calling Fowley for help (did he hope to read her mind?), the artifact slamming into a Bible like it recognizes the words - and contribute to the episode's paranoid atmosphere, along with the pin camera in Scully's office and her deep narration about a mass extinction.
There's a LOT going on in this episode. A debunker who might have killed a fringe scientist. Action set on the international stage. The death of the Navajo code-breaker from earlier in the series. The Cigarette Smoking Man, Krycek and Fowley working some unknown angle (what does ANY of this have to do with them?!). Mad Mulder and his prophetic visions. A man's head in a drawer, somehow missed by the police(!). Crazy spaceship metal bits flying around and spinning on Bibles. And Scully asking questions not just about the origin of life on Earth, but of the Big Bang itself. I'm not sure it'll be able to give all of that satisfying closure in the next season's opener.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Opens a new can of worms inside the old can, but it lacks a little focus, especially for a Rob Bowman-directed episode.