Monday, November 9, 2015

The X-Files - S6:E12 "One Son"

[ S6:E11 "Two Fathers" <<< Season 6 >>> S6:E13 "Agua Mala" ]

Spoiler Warning: This episode pretty much spoils the show's entire mythology, so yeah...

For an episode that ostensibly answers just about every question at the heart of this show's mythology, I'm still left feeling oddly confused (just wait for the lingering questions posed in double and triple sequential parenthetical passages). And what should have been purely thrilling turned out to be rather frustrating, because there are some elements to the proceedings that don't flow as naturally as I would have liked. At times I get the impression that rather than retroactively clearing everything up, the mythology must be watched backwards in order to make sense (or maybe these episodes really weren't designed to be watched so closely together, so that you would forget enough of the contradictory details of previous episodes with each new mythology revelation you received). I was oblivious to whatever hype there was about these episodes when they first aired - I didn't pay much attention to the media and fan chatter, I just tuned in every week - but from what I'm reading now these episodes were meant to be a sort of turning point in the series - the end of an era for the mythology, presumably leaving the rest of the series (which I believe at this point was only planned to continue through to the end of the next season) to tackle other matters. Well, it succeeds at doing that, at the very least.

Picking up from last week's cliffhanger, Mulder does not shoot Cassandra, after all. I want to say "of course", but it honestly seemed like he was about to at the end of the last episode. Then again, I'm thinking now that if she is this perfect hybrid, then she probably can't be killed by a simple gunshot, can she? I don't know why I didn't think of that before. In any case, they get interrupted, and thrown into a bogus quarantine, at Fowley's command, which I'm taken to believe is Spender's plan to keep Cassandra safe, from his father who he now believes (probably erroneously) is going to kill her. Mulder happens to find Marita Covarrubias in that quarantine - looking rather worse for wear - who explains some of what the Syndicate is up to. I'm glad they brought Marita back, whom we haven't seen for a whole season. I was hoping we'd get some closure on her, since she was infected with the Black Oil and then ostensibly cured. Even if, as Mulder's "informant", she doesn't hold a candle to either Deep Throat or X, I'd still hope she'd get a proper send-off before leaving the show. Although it looks like her character arc may not be at an end just yet.

Let's talk about some of these confusing plot threads. It really wasn't explained (at least not adequately) in the last episode - there was talk about keeping her alive on one hand, and killing her off on the other - what effect Cassandra's life or death was supposed to have. In this episode, I believe it's made very clear that Cassandra is the culmination of a 25 year long hybrid program engaged in in conjunction with the alien colonists (again, leaving unanswered the question of why the Alien Bounty Hunter was dispatched to eliminate the clones in Colony, unless the clones were a separate experiment from the hybrids - I wonder if I shouldn't just take the events of that episode to be a non-canonical introduction to the concepts of the ABH and the clones...), and that once the colonists find out a successful hybrid has been created, they will initiate colonization (but didn't the Smoking Man say the date was already set in Talitha Cumi?) (and besides, why do the aliens even need hybrids, if they have the virus?). Which is why everybody wants Cassandra dead. Except, the Smoking Man doesn't, really. None of the Syndicate really seem to. This is where it gets confusing, because the Syndicate ostensibly made a deal with the aliens so that they could stall for time and produce a vaccine (using the same alien tissue required for the hybrid program - the fetus in The Erlenmeyer Flask, which we get to see again in this episode) (which raises another question - is the vaccine finished or not? It certainly seems to work, but maybe it just doesn't work well enough yet to use it to maximum effect) (and anyway, don't the aliens know they have it, after the events of the movie - are we going to see any repercussions from that?).

But here's the thing - it doesn't seem as though the Syndicate's heart is really in producing this vaccine (apparently, it was Mulder's father's idea, and the rest of the Syndicate weren't too keen on it). They seem committed to letting the aliens do their thing, rather than side with the rebels. It still hasn't been explained, but it's hinted at in this episode that, by making an agreement with the aliens, and facilitating their work leading up to colonization, they may have been granted some kind of diplomatic VIP status, in which they can continue living without infection after colonization - a "throw mankind under the bus to save themselves" sort of a situation. I still don't understand the point of sacrificing their children though. It would make enough sense if it were done as a sort of hostage situation - the aliens demanded hostages to ensure the Syndicate's cooperation - while at the same time the Syndicate realize that handing their kids over means that they'll get to see them again - safe and sound - after colonization. That would marginally sync with the Well-Manicured Man's revelation about Samantha in the movie, except that that scenario has nothing to do with the hostages being involved in hybridization (except Cassandra was, probably, one of them...).

Argh. Maybe this is what people mean when they say that the mythology falls apart - even as it appears to be coming together. Can we talk about the rebels? I know I'm using this word a lot in this review, but it's appropriate - ostensibly, the rebels are against colonization. Or are they just against the Syndicate? And if they're against the Syndicate, are they against the Syndicate's official plans, or their secret plans? If they're against colonization, they should have killed Cassandra when they had the chance, not let her live. But, by this episode's end, the Syndicate is lured to the same hangar where we see them originally greet the alien invaders (in a haunting flashback that opens the episode) (on October 13, 1973, for you trivia nuts). However, it's not actually the aliens come to start colonization - it's the rebels, having set the Syndicate up in order to burn them like the abductees in Patient X/The Red and the Black. I suppose that, risky as letting Cassandra live must be (although for the alien rebels, I doubt the fate of the human race is that important - they may want to stop colonization, but not necessarily for the specific sake of mankind), it was a perfect setup to get the Syndicate together so they can be destroyed, having given up their chance to side with the rebels.

And it's a hell of a turn of events. The Smoking Man alone manages to escape, with Diana Fowley under his wing. At Scully's behest, the Lone Gunmen dig up some info on the latter that ties her to Tunisia - which we saw at the end of the movie - and find that she'd been keeping tabs on various MUFON chapters in Europe while she was allegedly on foreign terrorism detail. It's kind of irritating how implicitly Mulder trusts her. I mean, I know he worked with her, and trusts her, and has every reason to believe that Scully would be jealous, but as the audience, we've already seen her in cahoots with the Smoking Man, so having to watch Mulder defend her is frustrating.

As for Krycek, he was elsewhere when the rebels put the whammy on the Syndicate (and I'm glad he survives). I wonder that he's being treated practically like a full member of the Syndicate in these episodes, when he was just a hired gun for them before (and he betrayed them!). I guess maybe he earned it by turning over the Russian vaccine (and come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the one who got him out of that abandoned missile silo was the Smoking Man himself, or some other member of the Syndicate, in return for agreeing to pose as a Russian spy, only so that he could steal their vaccine and bring it back - the fact that he tried to trade it for some standing just goes to show that Krycek is always an independent agent looking out for his own best interests).

So, in the end, not only do the Syndicate get their comeuppance at the rebels' hands, and Cassandra is either taken or destroyed (it's not clear), but the rebels also steal the alien fetus (purity control). I don't know where the show's going to go from here. Presumably, the aliens will still want to colonize, even without the Syndicate. Presumably, they still have Samantha, and Mulder will perhaps have to find a way to get her back (there's an idea for an exciting episode!). Plus, the Smoking Man and Diana Fowley live to betray another day. Speaking of which, Spender finally gets his moment of redemption in this episode, but pays for it dearly. Now being aware of the truth of the alien conspiracy, and his father's sinister part in it, he demands Kersh put Mulder and Scully back on the X-Files, as they're the only ones with any chance of finding some way to stop the alien invasion. The Smoking Man doesn't take this betrayal lightly, though, and shoots his own son dead in cold blood!

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: Two men - young, idealistic, the fine product of a generation hardened by world war. Two fathers whose paths would converge in a new battle, an invisible war between a silent enemy and a sleeping giant on a scale to dwarf all historical conflicts. A 50 years war, its killing fields lying in wait for the inevitable global holocaust. Theirs was the dawn of Armageddon. And while the world was unaware, unwitting spectators to the hurly-burly of the decades-long struggle between heaven and earth. there were those who prepared for the end; who measured the size and power of the enemy, and faced the choices: stand and fight, or bow to the will of a fearsome enemy. Or to surrender - to yield and collaborate. To save themselves and stay their enemy's hand. Men who believed that victory was the absence of defeat and survival the ultimate ideology - no matter what the sacrifice.

Mulder: The hybrid program was in cooperation with the aliens, but the conspirators never intended to succeed, to finish the work.
Marita: They were buying time.
Mulder: To make a vaccine, and build a weapon.
Marita: But Cassandra Spender happened.
Mulder: She's the first, isn't she? She's the first successful alien-human hybrid.
Marita: If she is, and the aliens learn a hybrid exists, colonization of the planet will begin, with no stopping it.

Mulder: Interesting company you keep.
Smoking Man: No more interesting than your apparent lingerie fetish.

Mulder: I've had answers for years.
Kersh: Then why didn't we hear about 'em?
Mulder: Nobody ever listened.
Kersh: Who burned those people?
Mulder: They burned themselves, with a choice made long ago by a conspiracy of men who thought they could sleep with the enemy, only to awaken another enemy.
Kersh: What the hell does that mean?
Mulder: It means the future is here, and all bets are off.

(This definitely sounds like the beginning of a new phase in the mythology. Although I thought the earlier stuff was the highlight of the series, back before questions began to be answered, I'm still rather excited to find out where the show goes next).

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