The X-Files #230: Requiem

"We open doors with the X-Files, which lead to other doors."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder and Scully return to the site and cast of the pilot. Mulder is abducted, Scully finds out she's pregnant.

REVIEW: Requiem is first and foremost a number of parallels. It returns to the Pilot, where life has moved on, but the same characters are once again involved in an alien abduction scenario. Marita and Krycek return as evil parallels to Scully and Mulder, and their lives too have moved on since we last saw them. It can be so hard to reconcile mytharc stuff sometimes, you just have to take for granted that the villains have been having their own unseen adventures. There are parallel mothers with mystery babies, parallel fathers who betray their sons, the parallel abductions of the two leads years apart, the local conspiracy mirroring the global one... The parallel lines of those laser beams pointed at the invisible UFO seem like part of a leitmotif in that context. Even Chris Carter's jokes about the X-Files watching their budget feels like a parallel drawn between the show's and the production's realities.

But if the episode works thematically, the return to mytharc elements (mostly absent since the Syndicate was destroyed) do cause problems. Carter seems unwilling or incapable of making one thing follow another consequently. So where the Smoking Man was dying from a brain inflammation in En Ami, here he's smoking out of a hole in his throat, as if throat cancer was the real problem. He can have both, and he could have been dying in the earlier episode, but why the complication? It just looks like Carter decided to contradict Davis' script. Krycek has gone from having his finger on Skinner's life button to a prisoner in a Tunisian prison. The return of that country connects the episode to the Conspiracy's engineered bee fields, even as the Smoking Man is intent on "restarting" the project with a new UFO (because the aliens took back Roswell, or because it would be newer tech?). Oh and the alien Bounty Hunter's back. And no one really talks about how it all connects to the alien civil war, the Syndicate's destruction, or the UFO that recently disappeared off the Ivory Coast. As with a lot of mytharc episodes, it's all so very intriguing, but after seven years, we've been taught not to expect satisfying resolutions, which may turn intrigue into frustration.

After seven years, however, the plot is only really a backdrop for characters we love or love to hate. Marita and Krycek make strange bedfellows, allying with the FBI to stick to an evil surrogate father, but ironically, may end up selling out the human race by helping Mulder and betraying the Smoking Man. Such is their lot. (I do wish there'd been more time for Skinner to react to Krycek's broken hold over him. In fact, Skinner is perhaps the worst served by this episode, turning into an atypically weepy mess by the end of it.) Requiem starts Mulder's farewell as a series regular, and so focuses on his loving (but still platonic) relationship to Scully, showing their undying support of one another. The scene where he spoons her to keep her warm serves a kind of strange conception scene ones Scully's magic pregnancy is revealed, but the words are more important than the actions. There, Mulder talks about personal cost, creating yet another parallel, this time with the financial cost of the X-Files as evaluated by the FBI bean-counter. In the game of protecting each other, they make the wrong decision. Scully isn't at risk because her abductors were human (the Syndicate), while the abductors in this story are aliens (who respond to Mulder's psychic connection to the Ivory Coast ship). He disappears and she must touchingly navigate choppy emotional waters, having lost her partner and best friend, but having miraculously been cured of her barrenness (something you do see coming given they talk about it a lot before that closing moment). She was once abducted - so Anderson could have her baby, amusingly - and he got her back, so unless you know what's happening behind the scenes, this seems a simple role reversal and the kind of thing you expect from a season finale. If you do know that Duchovny is leaving, then Mulder's end, while fitting, probably isn't dramatic enough. That's because it's not over quite yet. It's been foreshadowed for a while though, and in this episode, the Mulderization of both Scully and Skinner can be seen in their acceptance of UFOs and in Scully pleasantly thumbing her nose at the FBI's budgetary edicts.

Most successful dramas end at their seventh season, and by rights, this should have been The X-Files' last. After all, one of the two leads was leaving. And Carter's script does seem to be a series finale turned into a SEASON finale by the final draft. It closes the loop by returning to the pilot. It kills the Smoking Man (tweak: no one checks to make sure). It disarms Krycek so Skinner's problem is resolved (eech, cheaply). It gives Scully a happy (ok, bittersweet) ending. And in a way, does the same for Mulder by making go up with the aliens (tweak: Scully and Skinner vow to get him back so we understand it's not over). And it IS fitting that both leads would get an "unexplained" fate, given the nature of the show. Of course, it's NOT the end, and the production will have to work hard no justify why it should go on without Mulder.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: With the Smoking Man dying and Scully's repaired womb, there's some sense that the ship's auto-repair ability can be communicated to others. Scully was perhaps healed by proximity to it (she had a physical reaction even before she touched it), and behind the Smoking Man's lies was perhaps a selfish wish to heal himself with it. But Scully's pregnancy might have another explanation. The other mother in the story, Theresa Nemman from the Pilot, has a young baby that ISN'T affected by the Bounty Hunter's toxic blood. A production oversight? Then why introduce the baby at all? If this is an abductee baby, a new breed of hybrid baby, then perhaps Scully's child will also have alien attributes. She has already been biological mother (DNA donor, really) to a line of hybrid little girls created in a lab. Have the aliens found a way to mainstream the process in utero?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The confused mytharc stuff ultimately can't dampen a thematically coherent and emotionally powerful episode.



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