The X-Files Newbie Recap: Season 6
Yes, the whole thing and WHY DID I EVER THINK I COULD DO THIS IN JUST ONE RECAP?
Beloved X-Philes, I have missed thee. This month’s recap is a monster on a par with Flukeman and I still feel the need to apologise for the many episodes I left out. I’ve condensed this into about four parts, to include the mytharc, monsters-of-the-week and a special section for our beloved Rat Prince. Quotes, overall thoughts and notable guest stars all at the bottom. Grab a cup of tea and see you on the flip side!
Episodes: “The Beginning”, “Two Fathers”, “One Son”, “Biogenesis”
This season’s mytharc opens in much the same way it always does—with a hearing, and possible reassignment. The déjà vu is strong with this one and even Mulder looks weary. Scully is being infuriatingly skeptical despite literally falling off an alien ship in Antarctica. I love her, but this has got to stop. Our heroes are put on boring domestic terrorism duty, while Diana Fowley (ew) and Spender are put in charge of the X-Files. These two are the literal personification of farts. Diana keeps calling Mulder Fox and it’s enough to make me want to punch a wall.
Things kick off proper when a man in Arizona succumbs to the same alien virus we saw in the movie—a mutant explodes out of his chest. The Syndicate has Gibson kidnapped in order to avail of his telepathic abilities, but the guy watching him is eventually killed by the alien mutant and Gibson just sort of…vanishes from the narrative. Seriously. At the end of “The Beginning” we see him hiding out in a power plant near the mutant alien and there’s been no sign of him since.
Meanwhile, friction erupts between Mulder and Scully over Diana. The latter, a tricky bastard if ever there was one, is working with the CSM against our heroes. She manipulates Mulder by citing her previous work on paranormal cases but, naturally, can’t fool Scully. On a nail retrieved from the Arizona crime scene, Dana discovers DNA matching the virus she had in Antarctica. It’s a junk gene sequence but it exists in all humans, apparently, suggesting we may indeed have some alien in our ancestry. [Law and Order tone]
The alien ancestor thread then takes a breather for a while so “Two Fathers” and “One Son” can wrap up the Syndicate storyline. These two may as well have been titled “Spender Family Drama” cos that’s all that really happens, aside of course from the Syndicate reaching the epic apex of their six-season storyline by being unceremoniously incinerated out of existence. “Two Fathers” begins with Cassandra Spender reappearing from an alien ship after going missing last season. A number of interesting details emerge: she knows about the black goo, which she describes as the aliens’ “life force”. She was first abducted on the same night as Samantha Mulder. The woman Mulder met last year at the CSM’s behest was not Samantha (shocker!) and the real one is still “with them”. I’ve accepted the fact we will never ever see the real Samantha Mulder tbh. Absolute state of that storyline.
Our heroes discover that Cassandra is the CSM’s ex-wife and Spender his son. The CSM is not best pleased with Junior, which on the one hand makes sense cos Spender’s a twit but on the other seems a little harsh considering no one thought to inform him about the complex layers of intrigue he was unwittingly born into. Case in point—the CSM sends Spender to kill a faceless alien posing as a Syndicate doctor, but he’s never actually seen an alien before and so balks at the crucial moment. Thankfully, Rat Prince Alex Krycek is sent along with him and finishes the job. When Alex’s eyelashes notice Spender’s horror, he takes pity on him and tells him what the eff is going on. (Cliff’s notes: your mum’s been abducted multiple times, your dad put you in charge of the X-Files to keep ’em secret, and your entire career has been a lie. We good, bro? Let’s get a Danish.)
The Syndicate learn that Cassandra is the first successful subject of the hybrid experiments. In other words, she’s immune to the mutant alien virus, and the insurance policy they’ve been looking for since hearing about the colonisation plans. Cassandra twigs this herself and tries to convince Mulder and Scully to kill her. Mulder draws his gun but Diana bursts in with a hazmat team and everyone’s impounded. Scully is overtly suspicious but Mulder—as usual–buys Diana’s stupid line that Cassandra is carrying a terrible virus and must be quarantined. Scully’s had about enough of this Diana idiot, so she and the Lone Gunmen pull up details of her history in the FBI. She’s been travelling to Tunisia regularly (definitely not to visit the crop and bee installations, no siree-Bob) and checking up on female abductees for years. They present this to Mulder as evidence that she’s complicit in the conspiracy, but Mulder refuses to believe it. Later on, Diana kisses him. Fox Mulder is an infant who must be locked up for his own good.
The Syndicate decide, for no apparent reason, that their attempts to engineer a hybrid were misguided and resolve to hand Cassandra over to the colonists. It transpires that the colonists actually gave them the Erlenmeyer Flask back in the 1970s so they could carry on their hybrid experiments. In return, each Syndicate member had to hand over a family member as collateral—which is why Samantha was taken. The Syndicate send the CSM to get Cassandra and have a surgeon retrieve the Erlenmeyer Flask. Unfortunately for them, the surgeon is a faceless alien in disguise, and the Flask is empty. When the Syndicate arrive at the meeting point, the surgeon reveals himself as one of the rebels. He’s joined by others of his kind and the entire gathering is promptly incinerated, save of course for the CSM and Diana who manage to escape in a car. The CSM later meets Spender at his office, tells him he “pales” in comparison to Fox Mulder and shoots him in the head. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually feel sorry for Jeffrey Spender.
After this hastily-prepared denouement, the mytharc takes a sharp detour in season finale “Biogenesis”. We open with a Scully voiceover, which is rarely a good sign. She’s musing philosophically about mass extinctions. There’s a shot of the prehistoric humans from the opening sequence of “Fight the Future” and an alien artefact which may or may not be The X-Files’ version of that plank of wood which births 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY’s ape civilisation. The artefact washes up on an African beach and is taken to a biology professor, Merkmallen. It fuses with another artefact he keeps in his office, so he takes it to an expert named Sandoz in the US. However, Merkmallen is duped—instead of meeting Sandoz, who has disappeared, he’s greeted by a Dr Barnes, who kills him and takes the artefact.
Our heroes are assigned to investigate Sandoz’s disappearance. Skinner gives them a rubbing of the artefact. With the help of Chuck Burks, they discover the markings on the piece are actually Navajo writing. (I appreciate the efforts to make at least a tangential link to the events of “The Blessing Way” and “Anasazi”, by the way.) Burks thinks it’s a fraud. Scully immediately thinks of Albert Hosteen, who helped her back in S02. At Sandoz’s apartment, they find Merkmallon’s body and a photo of Sandoz with Hosteen. They report back to Skinner, who unbeknownst to them records the conversation and gives the tape to Krycek. Mulder starts to suffer from some form of aural dissonance, apparently caused by the artefact. He senses that someone else has been assigned to the case but Skinner keeps schtum.
With Mulder under the weather, Scully goes to New Mexico alone to look for Hosteen. Sadly, he’s gravely ill with cancer. At the hospital she finds Sandoz, as well as another etching of the artefact. Hosteen had managed to translate some of it—the letters spell out a Bible verse about the creation of man. She calls Mulder at home to update him and he decides this is evidence of humanity’s extraterrestrial origins. Outrageously, Diana is looking after him and being even shadier than usual—at one stage, she slips off her top and slinks into Mulder’s room. The man’s sick, you shameless poop. How dare.
Hosteen is taken back to his land to undergo a blessing way ritual. As Scully watches him being carried into the tent, she gazes up at the stars and reflects on the possibility of another mass extinction. She’s then abruptly summoned back to DC by Skinner—Mulder has been hospitalised after a mental break. By the time Scully reaches the hospital, he’s locked in a psychiatric unit, babbling incoherently and calling out her name sporadically. Diana asks to know more about the case. Skinner says Burks debunked the artefact, but Scully looks at him suspiciously—they never told him they’d met Burks about the case. She dubs them both liars and leaves, heading to the X-Files office and scanning it for bugs. Just as she’s about to find a hidden camera, she gets a call from Sandoz. Hosteen thinks the Navajo characters may refer to human DNA. Scully balks. The artefact itself contains traces of radiation not found within our solar system, and this combined with Hosteen’s findings suggest there’s more than a sliver of truth to the alien ancestor theory (a theory to which Sandoz and Merkmallon subscribed, by the way).
Krycek, never one to let a moment pass unacknowledged, creeps up on Sandoz and shoots him mid-conversation with Scully. He also meets with Barnes—bypassing an ill Mulder as he does so, the rogue—and gives him the recording of Scully and Mulder’s conversation with Skinner. Scully’s investigation leads her to the Ivory Coast and Merkmallon’s village. The locals show her the beach where the artefact was found and, much to her surprise, she stumbles upon a gigantic alien ship. Cliffhanger suitably established, the season ends there.
I’ll write some notes here before discussing the “Dreamland” episodes. First of all, the Syndicate storyline. I’ve been reflecting on this for a few days now, and while at first I was a little mystified at how quickly and bluntly the whole thing came to an end, I’m starting to think it might have been the best move. That storyline had already been stretched out to breaking point and given the only new info we got this season was stuff that had already been more or less established in Fight the Future, there was only way to wrap it up. I’m certainly not sorry to see the back of the Syndicate. They were irritating, meddlesome assholes who put our heroes, especially Scully, through hell. But here’s the thing: while they themselves were incinerated, apparently taking the once-promising alien colonist storyline with them, they leave a truckload of unanswered questions in their wake. Where is Samantha, and the other humans taken as collateral? Will we ever know what the eff is going on between rebels, colonists, clones, and bounty hunters? Did the alien bounty hunter manage to dispose of the clone colony? What becomes of him now, given he was working with the Syndicate? I may have confused myself, but are his kind not the ones looking to colonise Earth? The clones were a separate, unsanctioned group which is why they were hunted—or do I have that backwards? I always think I’m following the mytharc grand, and then I start to actually think about it. I’m glad they wrapped this storyline up before it got any more mystifying but it’s also way too open-ended to be satisfying.
As regards the new, alien ancestor storyline: I like it. It’s a neat way of combining Mulder’s obsessive devotion to alien lore with Scully’s more faith-based ideology about unseen forces influencing us from above. Granted, her interpretation of intelligent design probably begins and ends with God, but it’ll be interesting to see how the two of them discuss this. So long as the alien ancestry doesn’t involve 40 different factions and in-fighting (though that would be appropriately Biblical), I’m excited to see what we learn.
Other annotated musings:
- Why did Krycek give the tape to Barnes? Is there another Syndicate-like organisation dedicated to keeping alien ancestry a secret? Barnes was described as something of a professional debunker, so it seems possible.
- Where the hell is Gibson?
- Did Diana give Mulder some kind of STI-induced psychosis?
- Scully’s reflections on “life no longer passing to life, Earth becoming barren like the stars, the hand that lit the flame extinguishing it” are doubly poignant considering her infertility. I wonder if, in this scene, she’s considering her own condition as a calamitous sign of what may result from human meddling with a higher plan.
- Was Spender shot in the face for nothing? The CSM was conspicuous by his absence in “Biogenesis”. Maybe by killing his son, he’s finally lost the plot. His obsession with the Mulder family is by far the creepiest thing in this show and given he failed to mould his son in Mulder’s image, maybe he’s finally called it quits. (Or maybe, you know, the writers didn’t know what else to do with Spender. It happens.)
Dreamland I and II
I wish I could write more about these episodes. They were a brilliantly fun and frivolous throwback to the early origins of the mytharc. Our heroes actually find their way to Area 51, but an antigravity-powered aircraft swoops by at the opportune moment and mucks up the space time-continuum. Long story short, Mulder switches bodies with an insider named Morris Fletcher. He lives several days of a hilariously terrible domestic life, discovering that Fletcher’s day-to-day work in covering up media reports about aliens is much duller than you’d expect. Fletcher, meanwhile, gives Mulder’s apartment a makeover and installs a waterbed in a vain effort to seduce Scully. It takes Dana approximately 200 years to figure out that “Mulder” is acting so bizarrely because he’s not actually Mulder, but eventually they manage to swap themselves back. By pure dumb luck of course, cos such is how Mulder operates. These episodes were genuinely hilarious and surprisingly tender in their depiction of both Mulder and Fletcher’s messed-up interpersonal relationships. They didn’t add anything much to the mytharc, but they’re an excellent example of how good the show is at sending itself up.
Episodes: “SR-819”, “Two Fathers”, “One Son”, “Biogenesis”
Hey. Indulge me.
Rat Prince Alex, also known as Prince Eyelashes of Loserville, had a magnificently frothy season. He wasn’t in it enough, but then again he never is. The high point of his involvement is easily “SR-819”, in which Skinner is struck down by an artificially-engineered virus straight out of Michael Crichton’s Prey. (While boxing, because fan service.) The mysterious figure wielding this technology wears a wig and fake beard and when he turned out to be Krycek I almost jumped right through my ceiling. On the one hand: LOOOOLLL. On the other, what the fudge, dude. Is this revenge for that time Skinner locked you on a balcony and told you to “think warm thoughts”? I get it, but why. Skinner totally recognises him beneath the wig and beard by the way, but chooses not to tell Mulder and Scully who it is. (I call bullshit on Mulder not recognising him in the laughable disguise.) Between that and the events of “Biogenesis”, I’m very curious about how Alex has Walter at his beck and call.
Alex also got to stumble across his ill-fated ex. Poor Marita shows up all ragged and weary in the same hospital Diana uses to quarantine Cassandra. The vaccine cured Marita but she’s definitely not looking her best, and when Alex stumbles across her and Spender he pretty much just shrugs and fecks off. No, wait, he seemingly stifles a laugh as well. A gentleman you are not, sir.
When Mulder collapses from the pounding aural dissonance in “Biogenesis”, Krycek is nearby but chooses not to help him. This broke my shipper heart and I’m not going to lie. To lift my spirits, I’m starting a new playlist entitled “Baby, Don’t Hurt Me”. Your homework for next month is to suggest a suitable song for inclusion.
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