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The Mary Sue

The X-Files Newbie Recap: “The End” & The X-Files Movie

If you leave me now...

(A note, before we begin: there may be changes to these recaps ahead. Please see the end of the post for some details—I’d appreciate your feedback, loyal readers!)

A bee interrupted the moment.

*The* moment.

A flipping BEE.

I defy you, stars!!!

The End

Mmkay so obviously the movie is the REAL attraction of this recap (it is splendid, lads) but first I must regrettably be a purist and recap “The End.” This one had a child with alien powers and Mulder’s deeply unwelcome ex-girlfriend so let’s power through and get to the good stuff.

[flexes fingers]

A young boy named Gibson Praise takes part in a chess game in Canada. He’s just hit checkmate when a shot rings out and his opponent, a Russian expert player, slumps to the ground. Some strings are pulled within the FBI and Spender is put on the case. He does not want Mulder aboard. Skinner visits Mulder in his office to talk “long-term plans” and completely fails to stop him from barging into a meeting Spender’s called with his team. A team that includes Scully, by the way, and one Agent Diana Fowley, a face from Mulder’s past. Mulder takes one look at a tape of the shooting and suggests Gibson, not the Russian, was the intended target. Diana pipes up that the boy may have sensed the shooter pre-cognitively. The two share a look, Spender gets irritated, and somehow Mulder ends up involved anyway.

This is Gibson.

This is Gibson.

Up in Canada, Krycek parachutes into a winter wonderland in search of the CSM. Unfortunately for him, the CSM has motion detectors and a shotgun and Alex narrowly avoids becoming minced meat. He’s come to take the CSM back to the Syndicate (there, I used the correct name, y’all can shut up now) cos there’s dirty work needs doing and all their other assassins are dead, useless, or in Alex’s case have been demoted to chauffeur. In the US, they meet the WMM. He says there’s a “situation” and it’s in everyone’s interest to get it sorted.

You just can't keep a good rat down

You just can’t keep a good rat down

Our heroes and Diana head to a psychiatric facility to see Gibson. Mulder has a theory that the boy is brilliant at chess because he can read minds. He tries to persuade him to play against a computer but Gibson refuses, cementing this notion in Mulder’s head. Gibson eyeballs him and announces that Mulder is thinking about “one of the girls” he brought with him. One of said “girls” is also thinking about him. Just one, eh? Diana is on board with Mulder’s theory. The pair have some history and Diana claims to have seen evidence of both telepathy and clairvoyance in action. Scully, characteristically less taken with this theory and even less again with Diana, gathers some test results and goes to see the Lone Gunmen.

You don't even go here

You don’t even go here!!!!

The lads are intrigued to hear Diana’s name mentioned. They say she knew Mulder back when he first discovered The X-Files, which is funny cos I don’t recall her being present when he met Arthur Dales. She has a background in para-science, apparently. Scully wrinkles her nose and hands them Gibson’s test results. She asks that they analyse them with an eye to the “para-psychological”.

Mulder’s been to see the shooter, who happens to be that dude that got eaten off the toilet by the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Talk about a defining moment for your CV. The shooter apparently has a Special Forces background and spent time in Zaire and Iraq. Mulder offers to bargain on his behalf if he’ll give him information about Gibson. He then heads back to the facility, where he meets Diana. They have a chat. This Diana is a tricky one. She starts low-key badmouthing Dana, saying Mulder could have used a partner with an “open mind” all these years. I don’t know how I resisted the temptation to punch my laptop screen. Mulder, to his credit, chuckles and says Scully is a “scientist” (an actual scientist, excuse you Diana and your stupid para-science) who just makes him “work for everything”. Which is exactly as it should be, you two idiots. You can’t have some doe-eyed lunatic indulging Mulder’s every whim or nothing would get done and he’d end up dead within weeks. Lord above. The absolute cheek of this Diana wan!

In the worst case of timing ever, beloved Dana comes back to the facility as well—a little too soon. She sees the other two talking and senses she might be interrupting a moment. Instead of going in, she retires to her car and sits behind the wheel with wet eyes. My soul is sobbing. Don’t do this to me, bb. YOU ARE BETTER THAN BOTH THOSE GOBSHITES. BE STILL. JUST SIT TIGHT.

This is officially the saddest screencap ever taken

This is officially the saddest screencap ever taken.

After a few moments, she calls Mulder and talks him into coming back to the office, saying she has important information to show him. As she drives off, she passes Spender. The CSM is hiding in the shadows of the car park. He approaches his—ugh—son and talks shite about games and boards and controlling all the pieces, bla bla bla. Mulder comes out to his car just in time to spot him, but the CSM legs it before Mulder can catch up.

The test results Scully has suggest Gibson uses a part of the brain most humans never access. Indeed, his brain activity is so unusual that Mulder suggests it could hold the key to everything they don’t know across science, religion, philosophy, and a trillion other disciplines. Spender scoffs, cos his only reason for existing is to be annoying. Scully regards him with irritation and says Gibson’s condition could lead them to quantifiable scientific proof of everything she and Mulder have investigated over the last five years. Skinner, listening with interest (though he does his best to hide it), talks to Mulder in private and warns that this could be risky, but eventually agrees to contact the Attorney General.

Mulder goes back to visit the shooter. He needs some concrete evidence of Gibson’s ability in order to get any reprieve from the Attorney General. The shooter is still evasive, but describes the boy as a “missing link”. Mulder takes this as evidence of a link to prehistoric alien astronauts and the phantom genes they left behind. All this made me think of Prometheus and the silly engineer spiel, which was curiously prescient considering the way the aliens, er, gestate in Fight the Future. But more on this later.

Scully watches over Gibson. She asks him about his abilities. Gibson says he hears people’s thoughts as if they were voices coming out of a radio. The reason he likes chess is because there’s no talking, just thinking. Most people don’t say what they think because they’re too worried what everyone else will think of them, he says. They fail to notice that everyone else is thinking and doing the exact same thing. Scully, however, doesn’t care what people think, Gibson says. Except for that “other girl”. Meaning Diana. Who’s still hanging around like a bad smell. She arrives shortly thereafter to relieve Dana, and later gets shot by someone I’m assuming is the CSM. Gibson is kidnapped. The shooter is killed overnight, possibly also by the CSM. A cigarette wrapper is recovered from the scene and bears the name of the CSM’s preferred brand.

The CSM takes Gibson to the WMM and Krycek. Alex, ever the lovable dolt, offers to kill the CSM. The WMM says no because he’s too useful and they may need him in future. The two of them then speed off with the boy.

Mulder confronts Spender at FBI HQ and demands to know if he’s working for the CSM. Spender may be a gobshite, but I feel a little bad for him at the same time because he has no idea what’s going on. And he didn’t ask the writers to make the CSM his father, and none of us can help unfortunate twists of fate. In any case, he says nothing to Mulder—because he doesn’t know anything—and merely grumbles under his breath that Mulder’s days are numbered after the latter sidles off. Loser.

Mulder and Scully reconvene in his apartment. Scully chats to Skinner on the phone. Top brass is not best pleased at yet another clusterfuck investigation and have issued the standard threats about shutting down the X-Files and reassigning our heroes. Mulder rolls his eyes, sensing it’s the season finale, and claims it’s all part of a nefarious plan. Scully, the same realisation gradually coming over her, says that this time, “they” may have won. Tick the necessary boxes and take a shot, there, friends. More on this in the movie.

At FBI buildings, the CSM roots through the X-Files in Mulder’s office. He pinches Samantha’s file and sets the rest alight. On his way out, he meets Spender and proclaims that he is his father. Unfortunately for us all, a Luke Skywalker-style “nooooo” does not ensue. A fire alarm goes off, and the CSM takes his cue to leave. By the time our heroes arrive, the office is ruined. The X-Files have been destroyed and the “I want to believe” poster is all charred and peeling. Mulder stares around his office in disbelief while Scully, reeling, takes his arm and starts to cry.

The once glorious X-Files

Slow curtain; fin.

There is pain here, and it’s all in Scully’s face. The episode itself isn’t that great if I’m being honest. It deploys all the standard tropes favoured by the writers for season finales (a new discovery about the aliens, a botched investigation, threats of reassignment, and something destructive befalling the X-Files) and adds another unnecessary character in the form of Diana. The one truly interesting part of it is its depiction of Scully’s state of mind. She’s so profoundly fragile here and it breaks my heart. The scene where she sees Diana and Mulder having what she perceives as a moment and retreats to her car is agonising. It’s not so much that she’s upset at the presence of a romantic rival—I don’t think she’s the type to be intimidated by such a thing, and I’m not sure she and Mulder are even consciously acknowledging their feelings at this point. Neither is it about a professional risk, because Scully is secure in her convictions and handles her work with integrity and grace.

No, to my mind, her sadness stems from a possible encroachment on her friendship with Mulder. The bond which exists independent of their work and—for the time being—romantic feelings. Scully has extreme difficulty opening up to anyone close to her, and the one person she has allowed to see her at her most vulnerable is Mulder. He’s been a source of support and comfort and a confidant for her, unlike anyone else in her life. He knows more about her than anyone, and she about him, and both have seen each other through some of the darkest moments of their lives. Because of this, Scully’s come to depend on him in a way she may never truly have depended on anyone. Diana’s presence poses a threat to that, not just because of their shared history but because she seems sympathetic to Mulder’s point of view. Scully is quite understandably very sensitive to Mulder’s pulling away from her, but she’s also not the type who’ll actually *show* that to anyone other than herself. The fact she comes so undone in that scene where she’s alone in the car speaks to this. If any one thing can convey the sheer importance of this friendship as the backbone of the show, it’s the way one character starts to falter at the slightest indication they might lose the other one.

I’m hurting, peeps. I sense you are too. So let’s move on to the movie.

WHICH WAS SPECTACULAR.

And a blessing, after that wobbly season finale.

The X-Files: Fight the Future

I’m delirious!!! This is so exciting.

It’s the year 35,000 B.C. and there are cavemen in North Texas. Cavemen who stumble into a hole in the ice and get mauled by angry aliens. The aliens bleed green and it coagulates, T-1000 style, to infect the caveman. In the present day, a small child falls into the same hole and unearths a skull belonging to one of the unfortunate cavemen. The green blood lingers, coagulates anew and turns the boy’s eyes black. It’s the black goo, everyone! Firemen arrive to help and are soon afflicted with the goo themselves. While the Chief tries to reach them, a fleet of oil tankers appears and encircles the site. The boy and firemen are hauled out by guys in hazmat suits and put onto a chopper.

The action then shifts to Dallas, Texas, where a bomb threat has been called in to the FBI field office. The building’s been evacuated and agents are still looking for the bomb. The building across the street is also being inspected. On the rooftop, a petite redheaded badass steps into view. It’s Special Agent Dana Scully, light of our collective goddamned lives.

Dana!

Heart-eyes emoji

Her first words of dialogue are “Mulder, it’s me” and you can practically hear the entire cinema audience break out in swoons. Her rambunctious partner soon appears from the shadows. Daft, delectable, beloved Agent Fox Mulder, everyone.

See-no-evil emoji

See-no-evil emoji

I just…I kinda want to go back in time and see this for the first time on a cinema screen. With popcorn and a bag of tissues and a giant heart-shaped cushion I can snuggle when they interact. Sigh. I love them, you guys.

Our heroes have a brief and wonderful conversation about the relative merits of following protocol when dealing with bomb threats. Mulder, ever the spooky one, says you need to be prepared for the unexpected. Scully plays a joke on him and pretends they’re locked on the roof. “I had you”, she smiles when he hurriedly goes to inspect. Swoon count: [explodes].

It’s not all fun and games for long. Just as the FBI are letting everyone back inside, Mulder stumbles upon the bomb in a vending machine. So much for anyone just after a bottle of water. It’s due to detonate in less than 14 minutes. He calls Dana, who thinks he’s joking until she finds the door to the vending room locked and sealed. She rushes downstairs to evacuate the building.

This whole sequence is so breathtaking I can’t even *DESCRIBE* it, just watch and try to remember to breathe:

http://thexfiles.tumblr.com/post/133732767910

Mother of God, this woman. How did any of you cope in a pre-internet era? My only comfort in 2016 is knowing we’re all in this feverish state together.

[clears throat] Anyway. She gets the building cleared out, and Mulder too, and they leg it in time to escape the explosion. Mulder was fidgety about leaving bomb disposal expert Agent Michaud, who insisted on staying to defuse it himself. Apparently it’s a violation of protocol for him to have stayed behind alone. Michaud is in on something, though, cos he didn’t even try to defuse the bomb. He just sat there and let it go off. It’s quite alarming to see anyone just sit there and wait to explode. Is that another long and twisting rabbit hole I sense? You know it, chums.

Michaud, a young boy and three firemen die in the explosion. An investigation is called. Things are apparently serious enough for the Office of Professional Review to threaten—yes!—reassignment. Both Mulder and Scully try to take the fall for one another, though I can’t imagine why anyone’s miffed when they prevented everyone else in the building from blowing up. Oh no wait, I do. IT’S A CONSPIRACY. Scully expresses some doubts over her career. She wonders if she can make a difference in the FBI anymore and says if she’s reassigned, she may go back to medicine. She asks Mulder to consider if his heart is still in the work as well.

Both that scene and the next one, where Mulder goes to a bar and drunkenly informs the bartender that he’s a “key figure” in an “ongoing” government plot to “conceal the existence of extraterrestrials”, act as clever exposition for anyone who hasn’t seen the show. It is actually impressive how well the movie summarises five season’s worth of intrigue in about 25 minutes. After ingesting about 85 shots, Mulder has a call of nature. The bathroom’s locked so he heads out back to pee underneath an Independence Day poster. This poster pleased me. I wrote an *amazing* TXF/Independence Day crossover on Twitter which I really should seek out for y’all. It featured Walter smoking cigars and Scully commandeering a tank.

Mulder is approached in the alleyway by a man named Kurtzweil. Kurtzweil is taking the Deep Throat/Mr X/Marita role of informant for this movie. He used to work with Mulder’s father (sure didn’t we all) and says the reason that particular building was bombed was because FEMA had an office there. The boy and fireman who allegedly died in the explosion were already dead. Mulder pays Scully one of his charming 3am visits and they head to Maryland.

Down in Texas, an installation has been set up around the cave where the boy and firemen got infected. The CSM arrives to inspect it. One of the infected firemen is still in the cave. The crowd who rolled up in the trucks, led by a man named Bronschweig, placed him in a chamber with a controlled temperature to keep his body heat down. Flashback to that time Mulder was dumped in an ice bath to save him from the toxic effects of the alien bounty hunter’s blood. The CSM suggests using the vaccine on the infected fireman. If it’s unsuccessful, Bronschweig is ordered to toast everything. The alien is, er, gestating within the fireman. It’s gross. Alien, amirite?

ALIEN amirite

That’s a hand underneath the dude’s ribcage, in case you can’t tell

In Maryland, our heroes find the bodies of the firemen and boy. Scully is shocked. The bodies are practically dissolving into a wad of green goo. However, she can’t think of any known infection which might have caused this. She prepares to do an autopsy while Mulder books a flight to Dallas. After hiding from some soldiers who twig she’s not supposed to be there, Dana follows him. He has bone fragments recovered from the FEMA office which blew up. She takes a look and indicates that the bones show signs of the same infection as the bodies in Maryland. Unsurprisingly, they were recovered from the same cave the CSM currently has on lockdown.

In that cave, Bronschweig is preparing to administer the vaccine. However, he finds the fireman’s body splattered open. The alien has escaped! It leaps out of the shadows and attacks him, howling with aggression. I’ve never seen aliens this bloodthirsty in The X-Files before, peeps. It had retractable claws and everything. I wonder if they deliberately dialled up the gore just for the movie. Bronschweig manages to stab the alien with the vaccine, but his colleagues helpfully seal him in and cover the entrance when he pleads for help. Team spirit is strong in the CSM’s posse.

In England, the WMM is visiting family. He lives in exactly the kind of splendidly old-fashioned house American screenwriters envisage whenever they picture Britain. (Writers please, visit England and see what it’s really like? Even the rich people don’t live in houses like that anymore.) He gets a call from the CSM. The Syndicate’s called a meeting in London. They’re reassessing their role in colonisation, because the virus has mutated into a biological entity (the malevolent aliens, it seems). The WMM is appalled. It’s spontaneous re-population, he cries! They’ve been used! Not everyone is as worked up. The Syndicate want to buy some time to see if the vaccine is effective against this new creature. They’re turning over a body infected with the virus to the colonists. The CSM warns that Kurtzweil tipped Mulder off. The Syndicate has its 500th argument over whether or not to kill Mulder, but, realising they’ll just make a martyr of him (seriously lads, we’ve been over this), they decide to target Scully instead. Like all great manifestations of rich old white men: target the woman getting shit done. Bastards. I bite my thumb at yiz.

Our heroes are driving around in the middle of nowhere, Texas. Thanks to a tip from some local kids, they look out for a fleet of tanker trucks and eventually spot the tanks on a freight train. This leads them to another giant facility in the middle of a corn field. That’s right, a corn field in a desert.

The installation

The Syndicate completely fail at being inconspicuous. It’s preposterous. Mulder and Scully make their way into the facility and swiftly find themselves caught in a swarm of bees. Racing back outside, they’re chased through the corn field by two choppers but manage to escape into the night.

The next morning, Scully’s back in DC for a hearing. She tries to bring up what she and Mulder have learned about the FEMA bodies and the virus, but says she has no conclusive evidence as yet. One of the bees (they still look like wasps to me) is hiding in her suit jacket. I strongly feel Dana would have changed when she got home, but giving she was running around the a*hole of Texas til the middle of the night I guess she had to fly straight to the hearing. Regardless, that bee has a date with a firethrower and you’ll shortly see why. You all already know why!!! But I knew its presence did not herald great things when I saw it.

After the hearing, Scully comes to see Mulder. She was given a transfer to Salt Lake City and promptly resigned. Mulder freaks out, saying he needs her. Scully says she’s just been holding him back. They go out into the hallway. Someone fetch me smelling salts cos it’s about to go *down*. Mulder takes her arm. Scully’s looking emosh. He takes a breath.

“You saved me,” he says. “As difficult as it’s been sometimes, your goddamn strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times over. You kept me honest. You make me a whole person. I owe you everything. Scully, you owe me nothing.”

Stahp. Please. Stahp.

He continues: “I don’t know if I wanna do this alone. I don’t even know if I can. If I quit now, they win.”

Dana’s VERY emosh now, as are we all. They hug and embrace and then…

[prelude to a kiss]

OH WAIT

[prelude to a kiss 2]

IT’S HAPPENING

[prelude to a kiss 3]

!!!

Actual footage of me watching this part:

Interstellar

AND THEN THE BEE RUINS IT BY STINGING HER.

OK seriously fuck that bee

OK seriously fuck that bee

THIS IS NOT EVEN IN THE VICINITY OF OK.

Just when I thought my secular prayers were about to be answered and our heroes would finally start kissing out their arguments, that godforsaken bee emerges at the least opportune moment of all time and stings Scully in the neck. I wanted to add a Hunger Games .gif here to sum up my reaction but it won’t load. PROBABLY GOT STUNG BY A BLASTED BEE.

And just to keep me woke while I choke back my tears, Scully self-diagnoses as she passes out. She lists her symptoms so Mulder can frantically repeat them for the ambulance crew. But of course the ambulance crew are Syndicate plants, and they make off with an unconscious Dana while Mulder gets shot in the head.

EVERYTHING IS AWFULLLL 2K16. Now’s a good time for an intermission if you need some tea or a glass of wine.

Phew. OK.

Mulder wakes up in hospital. The Lone Gunmen are leering over him, but it’s OK cos Skinner’s there too.

I needed this

I needed this

Skinner offers to go and find Scully himself (darling man) but Mulder’s having none of it. He and Byers swap clothes and Mulder manages to slip out unseen.

He goes looking for Kurtzweil. The WMM has already found and possibly disposed of Kurtzweil, however. He offers Mulder the vaccine and the coordinates to Scully’s location. They climb into the WMM’s car to talk. He warns Mulder that he has only 96 hours to find Scully and administer the vaccine. It’s explanation time, so pull up a chair, kids. The WMM reveals that the virus was the original inhabitant of Earth. It lay dormant in the form of an evolved pathogen, ready to be reconstituted when the aliens came back to colonise Earth. Humans would be used as hosts. Our only defence is the vaccine. Without it, the WMM says, the only people who can survive the virus are human/alien clones. Mulder’s dad allowed Samantha to be taken so she could be turned into a genetic hybrid and thus survive the invasion. Mulder, it was hoped, would uncover the project and try to stop it. Fight the future, if you will. I love it when a tagline comes together.

The WMM orders his driver to stop, then shoots him in the head. “Trust no one, Agent Mulder!” he cries. The aliens don’t know about the vaccine yet. Mulder must hurry, find Scully, and only then will he understand the “scope and grandeur” of the project. The WMM sends Mulder off and climbs back into his car, which then explodes.

Whoops

Whoops

Nuts, tbh. I kinda liked the WMM in spite of everything. So long and goodnight, beloved John Neville. Who’ll beat the shit out of Krycek now?

(Anyone up for it? @ me)

Mulder travels to the location of the coordinates: Antarctica. Because there’s no point in only going half-arsed when you’re trying to conceal evidence of an alien virus, and this way we can all fondly reminisce over The Thing at the same time. At least here, no one thought to plant a fucking corn field. Mulder’s vehicle runs out of fuel (so organised, babe) and he ends up clambering through the snow in quite literally THE MIDDLEST OF NOWHERE, EARTH in search of Scully. Houston, I done got so many problems. Happily, an installation appears in the distance. Mulder makes his way towards it but plummets into a cave in the ground. He finds a whole underground chamber that’s equal parts Independence Day and The Matrix (God bless the 90s) with more than a touch of Giger influence. The chamber contains gazillions of green cocoons, all filled with humans infected with the virus and incubating aliens.

Time to find Scully!

Suffering succotash

He finds Scully.

Salt Lake City must be looking real good right about now

Salt Lake City must be looking real good right about now

That was really easy, all things considered. Now he has to get her out. He starts battering the cocoon walls and eventually goo drains out. Poor Dana is completely frozen. He hurriedly injects the vaccine. She gradually comes to but she’s weak and disorientated. Mulder wraps her in his coat and makes to carry her out.

Above ground, the CSM has found Mulder’s snow vehicle. He warns of a breach just as the system goes haywire due to a contaminant—the vaccine. The facility starts to destabilise. The CSM orders an evacuation. As the system goes down, the temperature controls fail and the cocoons start to shake. The aliens are breaking out of their human hosts! Mulder and Scully stumble towards an escape shaft. She begins to fade and seemingly passes out. Mulder panics, administering mouth-to-mouth and begging her to breathe. Scully comes to, smiles, and whispers “I had you big time.” I think I’m dying. Now is no time for jokes, Dana. Please don’t with these feels.

I had you big time

They manage to climb up into the tunnel. An alien grabs Mulder’s leg but he wriggles free. They keep crawling as aliens chase them up through the vents. Suddenly, there’s an explosion below, taking out some of the aliens. Our heroes manage to scramble onto the surface, just in time for it to collapse into the snow.

Dream is collapsing

They tumble onto an alien ship and then slide back off it as it takes off.

Believing intensifies

[Believing intensifies]

Now would be the perfect time for Walter to appear with a fantastic cavalcade of gunships, but hélas, it is not to be. Mulder grins wildly as the alien craft flies away. He is SUCH a fucking nerd. He then passes out, the useless imbecile, leaving his still-recovering partner to wrap him up in her arms. A giant crater has formed beside them.

Genie, you're free

Genie, you’re free

Somehow, they get back to DC. Scully’s been reinstated for long enough to answer to yet another inquiry. She should be on first-name terms with all these people by now. The inquiry is busy rhyming off the usual rubbish about incredible and implausible events, so Scully hands them a vial containing the bee which stung her. Coolly, she says, “I don’t believe the FBI currently has an investigative unit qualified to pursue the evidence in hand.” Walter watches as she leaves the room, stifling the bursting smile of pride we all know he has in him somewhere. Love you, boo. And you, Dana. Love to ALL OF YOU.

[coos lovingly]

D8 me

The official explanation, per a report in the paper, is that the incident in Texas was an outbreak of the Hanta virus. Thankfully, no one lives in Antarctica, but there are definitely some penguins wondering where the hell that giant gaping crater came from. Scully approaches Mulder as he reads the paper. He’s in peak drama queen mode, saying they are—once again—back at the beginning with nothing. She was right to want to quit, he says. He urges her to go be a doctor and not die for his personal cause. Scully refuses. She says her work is there with him, and she’s living proof the virus has a cure. “If I quit now, they win,” she says, taking Mulder’s hand. They do not kiss. I can’t with the pair of you.

If you leave me now...

Meanwhile, the CSM has taken a chopper to the desert in Tunisia. Foum Tataouine, to be precise. (Tatooine! Hahaha.) There’s a crop field. In the desert. Under the supervision of Strughold, one of the Syndicate minions. They talk Mulder. He’s determined, the CSM warns. Reinvested, even. Strughold scoffs. “One man alone cannot fight the future.” Lolz, that’s what YOU think, mate. The CSM holds out a letter he received the day before. Strughold reads it, frowns, and drops it in the sand. It reads thusly: “X-Files reopened. Please advise.”

And the beat goes on

And that, my fellow spookies, is that.

WHAT A FRICKING MASTERPIECE. I love it. I loved it so much, oh my stars. It’s the perfect summation of the first five seasons and it is WONDERFUL. It captures everything that makes the show great: intrigue, suspicion, action, partnership, loyalty, friendship and—yes!—love. That foiled kiss is going down in history as the worst missed moment of all time. How could anyone even have the stomach to write that, especially after introducing our heroes in such brilliantly effective fashion?! Their first lines of dialogue directly address one another! Their first conversation perfectly encapsulates their opposing stances! It’s so deliciously well done I wanted to fistpump through my sobs.

ANTM

Why does this succeed when the season finale felt a bit recycled? I guess because it condenses a whole season’s worth of intrigue into a 2-hour movie. There’s anticipation, build-up and pay-off. Even if it keeps to a well-worn path, there’s something delightful and genuinely enjoyable about watching our heroes re-live everything that made us fall in love with them and their adventures. Not the least of which is the lively, loving interaction between Mulder and Scully themselves. They’re both loyal to a fault. Mulder has no chill. Scully is preoccupied with concerns of whether she’s really making a difference. They’re at their best when they work together, strengths and weaknesses complementing one another, at once refusing to play into the grand nefarious scheme and yet finding a way to turn it on its head. There’s a little bit of magic in everything they do. And they finally made an *effort* to kiss, even if the bee had other plans.

Another thing: I loved how this was shot. There’s some quality sweeping camera work in there, and it’s nice to see them embrace the cinematic scale. It means those reveals which echo plot twists on the show—of which there are many—can be played out in a slightly more spectacular fashion. In that sense, the film plays around with the mythology in a way that’s consistent, but condenses it to its purest form. Our heroes are threatened with reassignment—and were actually separated—back in “Little Green Men”. The trucks and trains hearken back to “E.B.E”, “Nisei” and “731”. The aliens scurrying around in underground tunnels puts one in mind of the rows of smallpox records our heroes found in “Paper Clip”. The notion that the virus can only be regulated by keeping the patient’s body temperature extremely low, and the presence of an alien craft in the ice, are throwbacks to “End Game.” It’s really quite an affectionate way of acknowledging what’s gone before, while upping the ante for the big screen.

The only real addition to the mythology is the mutation of the black goo—which is, apparently, a prehistoric alien virus. Up until now, the goo could possess people and temporarily bend them to its will but ultimately left them unharmed. Now however, it’s evolved into something of a parasite, absorbing the tissues and fluids of its victims and using them to gestate a sentient being. A feral and extremely bad-tempered sentient being. I hope they come back to those creatures in the show. The other big shift is the apparent death of the WMM. I’ve just googled and apparently he deliberately blew up his car to commit suicide? I wasn’t getting that vibe at all. It seemed more like the CSM didn’t trust him to kill Mulder (the WMM had been ordered to kill him and Kurtzweil) so he rigged the car to blow, but perhaps that’ll be made clearer in time. I assume, also, that the ship which flew up and out of the Antarctic will pay us a return visit? I guess it was programmed to return to the mothership, as it were, given what the WMM said about the virus lying dormant until it could be “activated”.

The acting is, of course, exemplary. Queen Gillian and Duchovny inhabited their roles effortlessly at this stage, and that kiss would have been the icing on a deliciously tart cake. I’d actually like to single out Jeffrey DeMunn, who played Bronschweig, for some praise. His manic facial expressions were absolute gold and it is monumentally shitty that his colleagues left him to be disembowelled by the aliens.

Other thoughts: I missed Krycek in this. I am officially Ratboy Trash. I also would have liked more Skinner, but his fringe involvement is consistent with his role on the show. I appreciated the more subtle nods to the show, such as Kurtzweil’s reference to he and Bill Mulder being “fellow travellers” back in the day (chortle) and, indeed, Kurtzweil’s occupation as a writer of conspiracy fiction. Almost a nod to the CSM’s would-be profession, no?

This movie probably deserved a recap all its own but I hope the above spiel is comprehensible. TL;DR: I adored it and it was perfect. Let’s chat more in the comments. Stay spooky, friends!


 

Author’s note:

First of all, thanks for reading, and for following this series! I’ve really loved delving into this show and chatting with all of you about it, and I really appreciate everyone’s support. Now, as you’ve probably noticed, TMS has undergone some changes lately with its move to a subscription-based model. As part of that, it’s looking to pay all of its contributors, and accordingly altering its approach to some of the newbie recaps. Given how well-received this series has been, both I and the editors are keen to continue it in some form.

I’m wondering therefore what readers would think of monthly The X-Files newbie recaps instead of weekly ones. The format would change slightly—obviously, if recaps go up once a month, it wouldn’t make sense to only recap a few episodes at a time. Instead, a monthly recap could cover either a whole season or a good chunk of it. One advantage of this would be more room to focus on the standout episodes (both monster-of-the-week and mytharc) and the overarching themes of the show. There’d also be room for more one-off features on different aspects of the show. I’d certainly miss weighing in with you all once a week, but this format would allow for more in-depth analysis and ensure that the recaps continue right up to the series’ end. For what it’s worth, I will add that weekly recaps are quite demanding time-wise, but monthly installments allow for more preparation and, hopefully, better pieces overall.

I wanted to consult with you before deciding how best to proceed given you’re the ones I’m writing for, and you’ve been extremely loyal since this recap series started. Your feedback means a lot, so please do let me know what you think! You can comment below or reach me on Twitter or Tumblr. Thanks so much!

Grace Duffy is a pop culture devotée and sometime film critic currently catching up on her classic sci-fi. You can read more on her Tumblr or catch her frequent TV liveblogs on Twitter.

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