Thursday, January 7, 2016

The X-Files - S9:E10 "Providence"

[ S9:E9 "Provenance" <<< Season 9 >>> S9:E11 "Audrey Pauley" ]

Spoiler Warning: This mythology episode picks up from last week's cliffhanger. Beware of spoilers.

The first three words spoken in this episode are "the Bible says" - so that kinda gives you an idea of what you're in for. I'm not super comfortable with all the religious symbolism, but to this episode's credit, it mostly plays toward the "aliens are God" angle that was characteristic of The Sixth Extinction mytharc. And that comes largely in the form of the UFO cult at the center of these two episodes. Now they've affixed a prophecy to William's existence, which states that he'll follow in his father's footsteps by stopping the alien invasion, unless his father is killed. Which is why the cult wants Mulder dead (so now Mulder is officially the father?), but suddenly isn't so sure he's already dead anymore (imagine that). In which case, this child is some miracle savior who will lead the alien race to victory (hang on - why, and since when do the aliens need a human messiah to lead them?). It's worth remembering that anything this cult says they believe in ought to be taken with a grain of salt. (Although, how many times has Chris Carter given us real answers in the form of dubious proclamations)?

So the cult actually wants the child alive - and, as I suspected, the man who tried to kill William in the last episode (the FBI agent who went undercover to infiltrate the cult) wanted to kill the baby to foil the cult's plans. Because, according to prophecy, letting the child live is equivalent to dooming the human race, provided Mulder is dead (is this all convoluted enough for you yet?) - not that Reyes will permit Scully to buy that party line. But even if they want the baby alive, that obviously doesn't mean Scully's just gonna let them take him. We learn a little bit more about the cult leader in this episode, in an opening sequence with some nice desert landscapes. He was a soldier in Iraq who had a vision of "angels from Heaven" (who were, of course, Super Soldiers) - "the true sons of God". This inspired him to start a cult so as to "deliver the message of the God who came before all other Gods". In other words, he's an alien sympathizer.

The episode begins with Doggett in a coma, following his accident in the last episode's cliffhanger, and A.D. Brad Follmer leading the investigation into the kidnapping of William. Scully doesn't trust him - justifiably - believing that there is a conspiracy within the FBI to wipe out everyone involved with the X-Files. There is a point at which it's hinted that Scully may be going too far in withholding evidence from the FBI because she's so invested in finding her baby, and doesn't trust anyone. But ultimately, her fears are well-founded (of course - this is The X-Files after all), although she may have some of the particulars wrong. For one thing, Skinner is inexplicably siding with the FBI this time, as if he spontaneously decided, "I've had enough of filling in Mulder's shoes, I want to be the guy with ambiguous loyalties again". On that note, A.D. Brad is shaping up to be an actual good guy, while Kersh is leaning toward the dark side once again (this is getting real hard to keep track of). The key note to take away is that there is a new threat of clear distinction - a Super Soldier within the FBI.

The whole God angle actually starts to get kinda interesting when Scully uses the artifact (before promptly losing it to her enemies) to cure the undercover FBI agent (who almost killed her son), and he reveals that the UFO cult leader was led to the discovery of the buried spacecraft (like the one in Biogenesis) by the voice of "God" (i.e., aliens), and that he believes the ship is a temple that houses the physical manifestation of God. Yeah, that sounds pretty cool to me. It takes William's proximity to get the spacecraft to activate, though, and when it goes flying up in the air, no one is left alive on the ground. Except William, that is. Which is disappointing, because I was really hoping that he'd be taken away on the ship so we wouldn't have to see him anymore.

Can you imagine if The X-Files had continued on for years after the ninth season, instead of being cancelled? They could have stretched out the back-and-forth possibilities of William's significance for years into the future! It would have been terrible. I wish the coming revival would just ignore the fact that the William thing ever happened, and rewind back to the pre-movie Mulder & Scully days. Alas... To wrap things up, Doggett magically wakes from his coma (after Reyes prays at an altar, and Scully cries over his bedside, with zero of the audience investment this show used to have when main characters spent whole episodes in hospital beds - sigh), claiming that he's hearing voices from God now, too. Fantastic. And he's the skeptic! I'll still say this is the best set of mythology episodes this season, but that's still not saying very much. And lord, am I getting exhausted, but this 200-day nonstop marathon is almost over. The end is in sight.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: You see a task force in there? I see a whitewash.

Langly: Access denied? Yeah, we'll see about that.

A.D. Brad: I've known you a long time, but this just seems, uh...a little traditional for you.
Reyes: Maybe when you're lost, you knock at the door with the porch light on.

(And that's a trick the church uses to lure vulnerable people in).

Cult Leader: If you wanna see the boy, you'll bring me the head of Fox Mulder.

(Wow, talk about an ultimatum).

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