The X-Files #283: The Truth

"For God's sake, Mr. Skinner, we're trying a man for murder, not taking a trip down memory lane."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: The series ends when Mulder is caught and tried by the military, his escape only leading to a firefight in the desert.

REVIEW: Even though the show was often about the lack of resolution, after nine years, the double-size finale really had to give us one. Did it? In some ways, sure, but probably not enough. Perhaps it was impossible to bring that mess of a mytharc to a comprehensive and comprehensible close, though Chris Carter does make the attempt. Unfortunately, Mulder's "trial" requires Carter to write believable court scenes, which the show has never done well - quite the opposite - and even this kangaroo court's proceedings strain credulity. But through a collection of witnesses, many from the show's past (with more still showing up as "ghosts" or figments of Mulder's imagination - wait, did X pass him a note from the afterlife?), the mytharc gets a long recap, perhaps avoiding some of the thornier details, but catching us up. Which is all quite redundant to fans who dissected the damn thing many times over the past few years, and not really that necessary to the casual viewer since it won't really figure in the climax, except for the super-soldier elements. Absolutely no coherence in the court procedures though, some very bad lawyering, witness reactions that are supposed to be damning, but come on, etc. Reyes does give one of her best speeches ever, and it even seems to rattle Kersh (we'll never know if he would have taken action against the Conspiracy without it, though we've known for a while that he was on the side of the angels, just powerless to do more than nudge Doggett in one direction or another). And Duchovny is quite good as a man who has either been broken by prison torture, or is feigning being broken, or a bit of both. It's Mulder as Hamlet, with the corresponding sadness and humor, and boy did I miss Mulder's humor (Carter gets in one last Silence of the Lambs joke too).

Do we learn anything we didn't know before? Little. The only confirmation we do get is that the people who visited Scully's birth were super-soldiers, not aliens, which makes the event even more bizarre. And Mulder discovers that the alien colonization push will occur on Dec.22 2012 (did you notice?), which is a decade in his future at that point, so no urgency, and why the heck are the super-soldiers working towards colonization and not fighting it anyway? By the end, though super-soldier Knowle Rohrer is killed by magnetite (still looks kind of silly, sorry), the Conspiracy ISN'T taken down, and we're still, so far as we know, on track for the invasion. The two original leads are on the lam; the rest of the cast may not have careers to get back to; and none of that is resolved in any way. Seeing as the next chapter would only appear six years later - and I'm not expecting even a line about Doggett and Reyes - that's more than a little frustrating. Carter seems to just have too much hope that he can continue The X-Files down the line to give us closure, and while The X-Files did return for a feature film in 2008 and now a mini-series in 2016, the wait is too long for us to keep all that mytharc going in our heads. The X-Files could have returned with new plots and conspiracies, but please, let's put an end to THIS one.

Nevertheless, the episode does feel BIG. It's a reunion for a lot of old faces, many of them dead (no Deep Throat though), and the action quite literally explodes. Knowle's first "death" really kicks ass, falling from a great height into power wires. And of course, the climax has the Cigarette Smoking Man shot up with missiles inside an ancient Anasazi pueblo built on a magnetite deposit. It looks very cool, but by this point, we're in a rush to end things. While things go boom, the casual viewer perhaps forgets to ask whether things really did come to a satisfactory close. It feels like a win, but it isn't. Which is very X-Files. The final scene mirrors one in the Pilot, with Mulder and Scully in a motel room somewhere. This time, they are intimate, and if for you, the main thrust of the series was always about resolving the "unresolved sexual tension" between them, then this ending is good and proper (though knowing they had a child together does mean we already got this in Season 8). In one last poetic élan, Carter has Scully ask just what Mulder "wanted to believe", and his answer is less about aliens and you'd think, but he's at least replaced frustration with hope. But hope of a resolution isn't the same as resolution.

Apparently, it isn't.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Duchovny is particularly good and there are some memorable moments, but too much time is spent on a grand mytharc flashback to make the final act feel anything other than rushed. After 9 years, fans kind of needed something more definitive and didn't really get it.


Andrew said...

Something you miss watching the episode now is how much commercial time Fox used to build hype for three shows that would premiere the next season. Shows that theoretically had the potential to retain at least some of the X-Files audience. Shows that lasted a full season if they were lucky.

Those shows were:
Fastlane, a high-octane cop show created by McG, who was riding high after the Charlie's Angels movies;
John Doe, about a man who knew everything except his own identity, who uses that knowledge to help the Seattle police (star Dominic Purcell would go on to Prison Break and is currently Heat Wave on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow);
a dumb space show with a bunch of no-name character actors created by a hack who's done absolutely nothing of importance or interest before or since. Firefly, I think it was called. Something like that, anyway.

Thoroughly enjoyed this series, can't wait to see what's next!

Siskoid said...

That's interesting! I don't know why Fox would hype any science-fiction show except for The X-Files, they clearly hated the genre.


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