Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The X-Files - S9:E16 "William"

[ S9:E15 "Jump The Shark" <<< Season 9 >>> S9:E17 "Release" ]

Spoiler Warning: This episode pretty much wraps up the remaining mythology threads from the last two seasons, in anticipation of the coming series finale, so expect major spoilers. Also, the best thing about this episode is the mystery of a certain character's identity, which will be spoiled herein.

Ever since Robert Patrick came on and breathed new life into this show, in the wake of David Duchovny's absence at the start of the eighth season, The X-Files has been rebuilding its mythology (to questionable results - these Super Soldiers, and the convoluted mystery surrounding Scully's baby). Now, with the show scheduled to finally go off the air once and for all, this episode is (presumably) tasked with killing off the new mythology, so as to wipe the slate clean for the series finale (which makes me wonder what they have planned for that). As happy as I am to see William finally go bye-bye, this is an at times ridiculous and frustrating episode, with a perhaps too clean resolution. It opens with a family considering their decision to adopt a child, with the twist that the child is baby William (cue nervous laughter). The rest of the episode explains how Scully comes to the decision to give her baby away.

A stranger attacks Doggett and attempts to steal some X-Files from the basement office, only to be caught in the act. He is badly burned over his entire body, and claims to have been sent by Mulder (still AWOL) to get back at the conspiracy that burned him in an early attempt to turn him into a Super Soldier (which he says the aliens - who have infiltrated the government, as we've already seen - are going to eventually do to the rest of the population, as part of their invasion (what a shame - I was looking forward to a fiery war zone like we saw in Amor Fati)). He gives the agents a false identity, but Doggett thinks that it might be Mulder himself. It's a patently ridiculous statement, but the episode devotes much of its emphasis to it - almost to the point of making you think it might be true. Not that this stranger acts anything like Mulder, or even looks like Mulder (even considering the burn scars) - but at this point in the series, I wouldn't put it past Chris Carter et al. to pull a stunt like that. It reeks of the shadowy doubles we've seen this season, and the half-assed flashbacks and Alien Bounty Hunters posing as Mulder in the last season.

But the weird thing is, David Duchovny was actually brought in to direct this episode. So he's actually there. At least, behind the camera. You'd think if it really was Mulder, they'd at least trot him out in a scene for the grand reveal. But, well, it's not Mulder. And the biggest giveaway is the fact that, in spite of the really good makeup job, it's not enough to conceal the identity of Chris Owens, who has played a certain character of some significance on this show before. That it's Jeffrey Spender pulling this ruse also leads to a DNA test that verifies, once and for all, that the Smoking Man (Spender's father) was indeed also Mulder's true father. Just like that. (You know, in spite of all the vain hinting going at least as far back as season 3's Talitha Cumi, I was pretty sure that wasn't going to turn out to be the case, in the end).

But that's not all. The whole alien invasion thing wraps up just as conveniently. Whether sent by Mulder or not, Spender maneuvers himself into Scully's home. There are some stupidly convenient writing decisions - like making the stranger get some sleep before talking, and having three agents in a house with a stranger leave the baby unsupervised (and I don't care if they think it is Mulder, he's still a stranger). Ultimately, Spender injects the baby with magnetite (presumably the same "kryptonite" we saw in action in the episode Trust No 1), which apparently removes the baby's special powers and makes him a completely normal baby - no messiah, no ability to be used by the alien invaders as some kind of leader or savior. Of course, the baby is still in danger, because of who he is (and who he was), so Scully chooses to give the baby away (I wonder how Mulder is going to feel about that, although I suppose he's voting with his absence), so that he can have a normal life (similar to a plot point that occurred in Angel, I recall).

And that's that. A lot of fans seem justly frustrated with this conclusion to the William arc, and I believe it's a symptom of the crappy mythology in this season. Personally, I'm not that invested in it to begin with, so the fact that the writers copped out to get rid of an inconvenient burden to a potential future film series (that never really materialized) - and the collateral damage done to Scully (and Mulder)'s character as a result - doesn't bother me on a visceral level. It's not a great episode, but then there haven't been very many of those this season. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for the series to end already. It's been in a coma for so long that I doubt I'll even be sad when it finally ends. I shed my tears (of frustration) back when Mulder "found" Samantha in season 7's Closure...

Um, who's watching the baby?

Memorable quotes:

Scully: That's ridiculous! It's absurd.
Doggett: Is it?

(Yes, Doggett, it is. It is).

The Breather: The conspiracy about the truth to keep aliens from the American public - all but destroyed a few years ago - has given rise to a new conspiracy in the government now, by men who are alien themselves.

Dr. Edwards: Your son is completely normal.
Reyes: That doesn't make sense.
Scully: No, I think it does. It makes perfect sense now.

(But feel free to elaborate).

Scully: I've seen my share of the hideous - of the disgusting, and the repellent - but you, sir, are the most perfect expression I will ever see...of all that is vile and hateful in life.
The Breather: That may well be, but for a moment, you believed it - that I was him.
Scully: I never believed it.
The Breather: You wanted to believe.

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