After an art exhibit is bombed in Texas, a presumed terrorist survives but is legally brain dead. Mulder and Scully attempt to communicate to the survivor through different means after they meet a pair of younger agents who are attempting to stop the next attack. Scully proceeds to Texas where she and Agent Miller try to communicate verbally and translate signals from the victim’s brainwaves. Meanwhile, Mulder convinces Agent Einstein to supply him with a specific mushroom extract that will potentially free his mind to another plane of existence where he can communicate with the terrorist. Mulder goes on his trip and sees several people from his life while attempting to navigate through it a collage of of country-inspired imagry finally landing on a boat traveling through an ocean. He encounters the terrorist but only hears one Arabic phrase. After he wakes, he discovers he was given a placebo by Agent Einstein but manages to have the phrase translated leading the FBI and Homeland security to a hotel where a terrorist cell is captured. Mulder and Scully later reflect on religion, communication, and an openness to believe.
I consider this the substitute finale, the one meant to wrap up all the single episodic stories that have come before. We’ll get our true finale next week, but for now, The X-Files have chosen a topical subject and mixed in its brand of humor, overtones, and cameos. I feel this episode was very message-driven, but still widely appropriate for our agents to have their say in what our current world is like and where it came from. Their views and personalities have always been a product of their experiences and as wiser and more accepting as they’ve become, so too have their thoughts and feelings on current subject matter that engages suggestion as a primer for both good and bad results. The episode didn’t treat itself too seriously and as for the younger agents, let’s just keep them as far from this series as humanly possible.
I felt this humor worked a lot better than the episode regarding the were-lizard. They rotated serious and funny between episodes and managed a really well-blended theme this time around. Mulder’s presumed mushroom trip was chalk-full of innuendos, subtle messaging, and for the next week, I’m certain the fans will be dissecting those scenes in hopes of detailing the portents we’re bound to run into during the finale. I’ll tackle a couple if I can.
Mulder’s catharsis was interesting given how susceptible his personality was when we were introduced to him in the premiere. There’s a plain and simple gesture of good-faith given how much pain and suffering he’s endured for the last two decades. At this point, he dabbles in all things that help bring him more copacetic peace along with Scully who as always, is along for the ride. There’s admiration between the two, something that may have been missing from earlier seasons, which is very different from love and respect. This is a very seasoned Mulder that isn’t driven to what leads him away from known science, but rather the unified belief that if all things are possible so too are the religious aspects. Plus, he just had a rip-roaring good time in his balls-tripping segment. It’s hard to imagine a placebo effect having such an impact, but that was entirely the point.
Let’s talk about our new agents. Granted, I’m not falling for the obvious innuendo that these will be our replacements come season 11. They knew we’d think that, they’d knew we’d balk at it, and they also knew we’d find it frustrating writing Agent Miller and Agent Einstein in our reviews because a name like Einstein draws a lot of attention and humor. But to be fair, I didn’t find Miller and Einstein that bad. True, I don’t want them replacing Mulder and Scully, but I don’t want anyone replacing Mulder and Scully. Doggett and Reyes were the last attempt and we saw how that turned out in the end. It’s not going to work a second time no matter how you paint them. Give Einstein red hair and make Miller open to the paranormal, it doesn’t matter. Won’t work. I think they know that and they’re throwing it in as a polite jab, the same way Indiana grabs the hat off of his son in “Crystal Skull”, showing that the original will maintain his stature for a long time coming. Mulder and Scully can retire all they want, just make sure the show does too if and when that happens. I don’t want a spin-off again.
Mulder going through his mushroom-placebo experience. It was a rockin’ good time and hilarious to watch. I don’t know this humorous episode resonated better than a few weeks ago, but I do think it had everything to do with timing and that if there was a funny episode to be had it should be placed right before the finale after we’ve saturated in the breadth of the serious tone. It was a the going-home episode so they might as well let loose and they certainly did. I wished the Lone Gunmen has a more significant appearance but at least they’re still considered canonically dead.
This one is an easy Mulder. His speech as the end on communication was the message from the get go, how those signals are received, interpreted, and even taught that makes the world what we see it as today. I think he’s reached his pinnacle as a character to sees an understands the world before him. All that’s left is for him to finish what he started and that’s to engage the truth for what it is. And he has potentially one more episode to do it before everything ends.
Okay, Mulder shows that somehow the whipping he received from Agent Einstein in his vision remained but we don’t know if Cancer Man’s whipping on his back did as well. We weren’t meant to know, but that doesn’t mean if had no effect on him. His back was turned to Cancer Man showing he wasn’t ready or didn’t need to face him. Even when Cancer Man proclaimed he was in the right place to find the truth, that wasn’t what was important to Mulder, at least at the time. That I think is where he’s subconsciously telling us that he’s essentially over it. The truth that is. He’s in the moment and living in that moment as it moves forward.
As far as the red, tron-flavored, dominatrix scene, I think its safe to say he was channeling Hank Moody. No, but really, he can never escape his ego that still encapsulates some sexual drive. And the red could be a gentle reminder that Scully is ever-present even if the character was Einstein that whipped him and made him go woo-woo. At least Einstein didn’t look like an alien.
8 out of 10. Strong themes, but equally strong humor made tonight’s penultimate episode a treat for both the drama-heavy and the comedic fans. Journeys came for both our seasoned agents and the new ones who learned important lessons as they thwarted an ever-present threat. What The X-Files is showing us is that they’re trying their best to catch up on so many years of absence. The good stories are still there, they just needed time to keep us believing in them. Now that we’ve rotated through a visceral, funny, thematic, and heartbreaking, string of episodes, it’s time to cap off the season and bring us to some much-needed closure on our agents who are not getting any younger, but they still look good on screen. Here’s to an end that hopefully won’t feel like one. Thanks for reading.
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