This is the very definition of a classic X-Files monster of the week episode. True, it’s less of a monster and more of a strange situation, but the pattern holds true. It starts with a mysterious set up, showing viewers the evidence before agents get involved. Mulder and Scully roll in, easily reviving their established dynamic when investigating a crime scene. The corporation where everything went down has links to the government and everything is super secret. Mulder experiences the oddity and latches onto what he believes is the truth while Scully looks at the evidence and worries. There are connections to the larger mythos, but nothing conclusive is found. And when everything goes sideways at the end, the government steps in and washes it all away.
Plus, unnecessary flashlights! Yay! Even Scully’s habit of holding her necklace is back. It’s such a small detail, but it is one of those things that defines a character that viewers spent a decade with.
The kid situation gets some explanation. Thank god. It was simple and quick, but it makes sense. I was a little confused by Scully’s…well I don’t even know what it is. Fuzzy screen time? Is it a memory or a nightmare? I think this was a trip into her imagination. The episode closes with Mulder experiencing the same thing. It seems that both parents share the tragically sad experience of imagining happy events to share with their son, but then see him suffering the fate that they themselves fear most. I still hope that more will be revealed about William.
Of course, these events quickly relate back to the primary mythos mystery of this season. The pieces are being put together slowly, but it seems that the government conspiracy is working to genetically manipulate the entire population. Perhaps they are trying to advance evolution? Are they creating an army or preparing for a situation that no-one knows about yet? Aliens are sure to be involved, so maybe there is an invasion on the way.
This episode contained a lot of brutal imagery. X-Files has never been hesitant about this type of thing. But I am surprised that such images made it onto modern television. True, censorship is in a state of flux right now, but this stuff was raw. I don’t think that it was too extreme, though. The choice to have Goldman and the government working on mutated children was obviously made to connect to Scully personally. This was her bridge to getting invested in the larger conspiracy.
Interestingly, Skinner seems to be on Mulder’s side this time around. While he always supported Mulder in the past, it feels like he’s actively trying to get to the bottom of the conspiracy this time.
I loved when Mulder said to Scully, “You were never just anything to me”. That might be the most loving sentiment Mulder is capable of expressing.
So far, there is a big emphasis on dialogue about truth. Mulder asks people to trust him quite a bit. Yes, truth is a constant theme of the X-Files. But with only 6 episodes to tell this part of the story, I feel that every word of dialogue has been carefully chosen. Thus, when Gupta tells Mulder “the truth is in there”, I was blown away by this significance. Mulder is being told straight out that the larger mystery doesn’t matter. The final scene actually gives viewers a glimpse into Mulder’s heart, and I think his truth is regret. He started the X-Files with guilt about his sister’s abduction and the weight of responsibility to find her. He’s always claimed that he wants the truth to be revealed for its own sake, but it’s always been much more personal. Beyond the issue with his sister, he also wants vindication and salvation for himself and his actions. But now his connection is much deeper. He gave up his son for the sake of his investigation. If the truth was known, he would’ve been able to raise his son and have all those experiences he only fantasizes about.
This was an intense episode. Beyond simply retuning to the classic formula and delivering a solid show, it connected viewers to Mulder and Scully deeply and quickly. The exact events of those fourteen years of separation are not known, but the emotional state of these characters is clearly demonstrated. That creates a bond to viewers that immediately gets them invested in current events. This was another perfect plan from Carter and the X-Files team.