"Dreams are all he has now."
REVIEW: What can we trust of this episode, when Mulder is essentially dreaming it? If he's a telepath and a precog, are there elements of that dream that are pulled from other people's heads or the actual future? Seeing as his "happy place" - the dream within the dream which keeps the audience from initially realizing the Cigarette Smoking Man's suburb for anyone who's ever vanished or been killed on the show is a false reality - includes a sand castle version of the spaceship in Africa, how much of it is caused by the ship's upload? And why does the dream feel like such a manipulation when Cancerman himself says he doesn't know what Mulder is dreaming? The only thing we (and he) can really trust is his bond with Scully, the one "character" in his dream who doesn't try to lull him into complacency, but rather brutally wakes him from it. Diana Fowley was his wife in the dream, and it seems her love for him was real no matter where her allegiances lay, although if she betrayed Cancerman, it seems a small betrayal indeed. She leads Scully to Mulder, but by then Mulder's powers have gone, and he is no longer the "savior" Cancerman goes on about. Getting killed for it (and off-screen, to boot) seems an overreaction. Didn't the production have enough blood on its hands with Kritschgau and Hosteen? But Scully... Scully is the one who isn't part of the dream's duplicity, and in the episode's final scene, we see the two of them share a tender scene where friendship is, not for the first time, played romantically. It's starting to feel a little strange, quite frankly.
Something else that seems to be true is that Cancerman is Mulder's biological father. Long hinted at, it is almost thrown away here. Mulder knows it in the dream because Cancerman admits, while in the real world, he and Fowley talk about it around his prone body. The theme of fatherhood seems important, but doesn't really pay off. We have Mulder in the dream becoming a father, and in his "happy place" also playing with a child. The latter is more intriguing, helping Mulder destroy a spaceship, perhaps a symbol for the reality of the X-Files being destroyed. His faux family, however, comes and goes all too quickly as his "Last Temptation" flies by, from a perfect world where he is reunited with his sister, to a UFO Apocalypse as he lay dying in bed. The Last Temptation is a useful allusion, because he's treated as a Messianic figure in the real world. The Conspiracy's doctors say he's a human-alien hybrid (his brain is, at least, no green blood required) and that he holds the key to surviving the aliens' viral apocalypse. So that's still a threat, Syndicate or no Syndicate. Cancerman compares himself to God - the Father - telling his son to rise (in the dream, at least), and pushing Mulder to be more like him (maybe he smokes in his new life).
But while we're finding out what Mulder's greatest dream is - a peaceful life with a pinch of being right about aliens - the production neglects a number of story elements from the previous episode. The African ship is gone overnight, and it doesn't rate a mention. It seemed like everything with Dr. Ngebe, the mad scientist, the ghostly tribesman, and the plagued were just the show spinning its wheels to stretch the opener out to a two-parter. With Scully in America, these disappear, replaced by similar visions of the kind Navajo Hosteen, projecting himself to Scully's mind while in a coma, and Krycek reminding Skinner that he still has his finger on the nanite button. None of this is explored to the viewer's satisfaction. Where did Mulder's powers go? What was extracted from him? Did Cancerman really protect Mulder because of this all along, or just fortuitous happenstance? I'm sure we'll find out more when the mytharc rolls around again, but for now, we're left with something that might have been cathartic for Mulder, but left a lot of holes for the audience.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - There is frustration, as with many mytharc episodes, but there are important things shown and said, and some intriguing ambiguity about Mulder's dreamscape.