The X-Files #219: Closure

"They said the birds refused to sing, and the thermometer fell suddenly, as if God himself had his breath stolen away."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder gets closure on his sister's abduction with the help of a psychic.

REVIEW: With Duchovny/Mulder leaving soon, the matter of his missing sister, the driving force in his life since before the series began, must be resolved. That resolution is a little crazy, frankly, but maybe it's the perfect X-Files thing to do. She was still abducted by the UFO simulators who experimented on her and made all those hybrid clones of her, and may still have been raised by the Cigarette-Smoking Man (although her hand print next to Jeffrey Spender's is suspect since Spender didn't know his father - what's the timeline here?), but at 14 she escaped and was, get this, stolen away by spirits so she wouldn't meet a fate worse than death at the hands of the Conspiracy. So UFOs  AND the supernatural crossed streams in Mulder's origin story, which is either quite correct, or complete lunacy that pulls you out of the story. Mulder's reunion with Samantha in a spirit grove is quite lovely, but I wouldn't blame the viewer for having deep misgivings. Is this a cop-out, after all? After search for Sam all this time, the answer is that she was dead all along?

Closure is an episode that pulls you in several different directions at once, stretching the limits of credibility - the psychic feels like he's perpetrating a hoax almost all the way through - but also delivering great moments of emotion. The way it opens is unusually honest, for example, with the bodies of 24 children dug up from behind the Santa killer's shack from the previous episode. We see decaying corpses and everything. It's the most incomprehensible and horrendous crime imaginable, and if it happened in the real world, would not be forgotten easy. And so it must be sustained for two episodes, quite right. One striking image follows another as the souls of the dead kids climb out of the open graves and go to their rest. Of course, it's an image that confuses the issue somewhat, because the ghost kids from the previous episode, and those Mulder meets at the end of this one, somehow escaped their terrible fates. They're still dead, but they haven't suffered. And taking the episode at its (silent) word, it seems the children that WERE tortured and killed by Santa did not in fact go to a better place until their bodies were discovered. So that's years of suffering for their souls. Truly terrible. They experience the title's Closure as much as Mulder does; like them, the events of this episode free him.

Though it'd be possible to say Mulder hallucinates the final scene, perhaps having fallen prey to the power of suggestion and the manufactured clues left by Cancerman, there are just too many supernatural elements that seem to happen objectively for that to make sense. The ghost of Mulder's mom whispering clues to him in his sleep, automatic writing, etc. all point to a supernatural explanation. Scully's more down-to-earth leg work provides similar, if less final, answers. And looky here, the Cancerman is crashing at HER place now. Is he transferring his presence into her life now that Mulder won't be available? I don't remember if Duchovny's departure had been announced at the time, but knowing what we know, you can sure see the production moving its pieces in preparation for it.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- Sharing some of its emotional intensity with the previous episode, the closure its provides may be a little hard to swallow. Its importance to the mytharc keeps it from a straight Medium rating.

1 comments:

Madeley said...

I remember being surprised, as you were, that the previous episode was being continued, and by the time I watched it I was so out of the loop with news about the show that I had no idea this was the resolution of the Samantha arc. So the whole thing was unexpected, and I enjoyed it very much. Starlight ghost-children really shouldn't work but I think it does in context.

Giving Mulder a resolution mixed with the hopelessness of the realisation that Samantha WAS dead all along is a kind of mixed blessing, and very appropriate for the themes of the show. Put me down as one of the people who thinks mixing UFOs and ghosts is wholly apt for a believer like Mulder.

 

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