The X-Files #280: William

"You are as false as your face."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A disfigured man comes looking for Scully's baby. Is it Mulder?

REVIEW: Duchovny co-wrote and directed this one, giving one more layer of ambiguity to the mystery of the man caught breaking into the X-Files offices in order to get at Scully's baby. Like Scully, I think the audience vacillates between thinking "Miller" is and isn't Mulder, the hindsight making one fall more frequently on the latter side. Certainly, Miller isn't played by Duchovny, but he does ape some of his mannerisms. The episode does a pretty good job of creating doubt - a smile here, a gesture there, he does remind you of Mulder at times - and the forensic evidence is just as contradictory (but in part because they don't play fair with us, calling Miller's DNA a "perfect match" for Mulder's, when it's just "related" to him). Of course, even if Miller isn't Mulder, is he Mulder's envoy, or a con man with a darker agenda?

Chris Owens isn't recognizable under that make-up, but turns out this IS Mulder's half-brother Jeffrey Spender, back for one last scheme, having survived his father's bullet, and then been put through the super-soldier experiments. These failed and disfigured him, and now he's out to... Well, I'm not sure. He wants revenge on his father who is apparently the founder of the new Conspiracy (the super-soldiers one), and to spoil its plans, he wants to inject baby William with something that makes him normal. He also says the baby was part alien and that the aliens had need of him, so... how is denying William to the aliens an attack on the Conspiracy (which has been painted as working against the aliens)? Usual mytharc confusion. (See The Truth for further confusions about the injection.)

Ultimately, the episode results in Scully giving her baby up for adoption (as we saw in the teaser), the only way to protect him from both sides of the human-alien war (because someone could reactivate his powers?). It's a heartbreaker, Anderson pouring everything into the moment. But to take William's powers away is a real headscratcher. This is one of the problems with the last season introducing new elements, but not quite able to pay then off. So rather than use the alien baby in some way, the resolution is that its powers are taken away, and so is the character. Sum zero. If at least the episode had played the "last scare" game it usually does with monsters of the week and had shown William still able to affect his mobiles (stars for buffalo, alien to terran, and a connection to the Navajo stuff), we might have had something. Instead, we're left wondering what the point of having Scully give birth at all. It wasn't too many episodes ago that she was told of a prophecy involving her son. Hmf.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Spender injects the baby with "magnesite" which neutralizes its alien powers. What's magnesite and how does it do that? Were the baby's powers "magnetic" in origin (part of the mobiles were metal)? Or does it have something to do with the super-soldiers, one of whom (played by Terry O'Quinn) was destroyed by a sort of magnetic ore in a quarry in "Trust No 1"? If the baby had magnetic powers, and could have acted on super-soldiers in this way, then neutralizing him doesn't make sense if Spender really wants to attack the super-soldier conspiracy. Does the injection actually give William those powers, neutralizing something that's more akin to telekinesis? If so, why not SAY so. But if Spender has turned William into a weapon FOR the aliens, we may never know.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- Strong work from Gillian Anderson and a mystery that keeps you guessing apprehensively. Unfortunately, it does suffer from end of series problems, and comes off as a cheap resolution to something that was built up for nothing.

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