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The X-Files: APOCALYPSE WOW! (S10 E6 Recap)

x-files-2016The cliffhanger finale of The X-Files, season 10, answers at least one question: Yes, there will be a season eleven. There better be! But will anyone besides die-hard fans be watching? Monday night reminded many of us why we stopped believing in the first place – too many inconsistencies, characters we didn’t care about, and a kitchen sink philosophy of moar for moar’s sake.

The episode begins with a call back to the season premiere. We get another voice over summary of seasons one through nine, but this time the voice is Scully’s. She recalls being kidnapped, her mysterious illness, and how as a skeptical scientist brought in to debunk Mulder, she’d come to believe there were more things on heaven and earth than dreamed of in our philosophy. She brings us up to date, including on “the conspiracy of men,” a “cabal” (don’t get me started on the historical connotations of that word) that are using alien technology to take over the world. Then comes the topper. She mentions finding “anomalies” in her own DNA which she can only classify as alien.  We see present-day Sculley, in her lab. There’s a close-up of her face,  focusing on her eyes, which grow rounder and larger and blacker, as she morphs into an ET version of herself. It’s visually stunning, but silly. While it might be a jolt, it’s also a joke, and the kind of joke that undercuts any reason for us to take any of this seriously.

X-Files S10 e6 scully et

Roll the credits. Scully comes into the office. She calls out to Mulder, something about getting caught in traffic. But where is Mulder? His laptop is frozen on the image of Tad O’Malley. At least we’re getting back to the gauntlet laid down in the premiere.  Scully clicks and watches O’Malley’s webcast. He references his six week absence. There’s a screen behind hims showing the late-lamented Sveta, as he talks about alien DNA being in “virtually every American citizen.” Scully gets a call. It’s the Tadster himself. He was supposed to meet Mulder at his house, but he got there and found the place ransacked and no Mulder. She goes out there. Tad’s making what she calls “dangerous allegations” about the great conspiracy, and how everyone is about to be infected. She’s still being skeptical, which given her own belief in “alien DNA” and the fact that she found some in Sveta doesn’t quite make sense, but being skeptical is her job so OK.

Then she’s back at the FBI, in Skinner’s office. Einstein is there too because now she is a regular apparently and we’re supposed to care about her. Einstein laughs when Scully talks about alien DNA that was put in our genome, but she goes with Scully to the hospital where Scully still apparently has an office or access to a lab or something even though she’s now working full time for the FBI. And wouldn’t the FBI maybe have a better lab than a small Catholic hospital? A young man who apparently escaped from the ER or it’s just a very chaotic place where patients wander around comes up and asks them for help. He has some kind of icky disease on his arm, and the nurse takes him away.

Mulder meantime is on the road. He looks like he’s been beaten up and is struggling to stay awake behind the wheel. Skinner calls, but he doesn’t pick up.

In the lab, Einstein is now humoring Scully or maybe she’s caught the conspiracy fever too. It’s hard to tell when the actor is playing an attitude and not a character. Einstein says she’s only against “pseudo science.” Scully tells her that “the science that we were taught takes us but a distance from the truth,” because she always sounds like she’s talking in a voice over. She takes some of Einstein’s blood to test it for alien DNA which may have been planted in the smallpox vaccine we’ve all gotten. Talk about allegations that could have dangerous consequences! Vaccines as a means of control is an old X-Files standby from many seasons back. Am I suggesting that just because people are stupid enough to conflate real life and fiction they shouldn’t go there? No, but it would be great if they could come up with something that hasn’t been recycled a gazillion times.

Miller shows up because somebody decided the show needs to hit a younger demographic, even if he is playing a character who seems to have time-warped in from the 1950s.

Because it's not like Fox is going to let two olds carry the show.

Because it’s not like Fox is going to let two olds carry the show.

We get information dumped into the dialogue because it’s quicker than showing us stuff. Scully tells us that soldiers are infected with anthrax. It’s in the vaccine, natch’. But Einstein doesn’t think tainted vaccine equals a vast conspiracy. WAKE UP EINSTEIN! Miller talks about “word on the internet” as though the internet wasn’t a vortex of wrong. We see Tad’s show again. He’s talking to a physician who is claiming a world wide pandemic is on its way, with people being deliberately targeted. First they’ll come for the health care workers, and then other essential service providers, and because  you weren’t a health care worker or other essential service provider, you did nothing , so nobody’s going to to help you. O’Malley describes what’s happening as a faster moving AIDS, but without the HIV – and as we all know if we listen to Gary Null, that the AIDS thing was a government plot and doesn’t have anything to do with HIV. So wake up sheeple! The truth is out there!

The hospital is getting more crowded. Traffic is at a stand still. It’s a “global contagion.” It’s the end of the world. Weren’t Mulder and Scully walking hand in hand all smiley faced in the last episode? Where did this come from? Then again Mulder did hear God’s trumpet, which usually portends the end. So we’ve been warned. Besides it’s 2016, and per the last X-File‘s movie, the world was supposed to end in 2012. We’re totally overdue.

Mulder is still not answering his phone, not even for Scully, but now he’s arrived in South Carolina. Miller is in Mulder’s office, looking for clues. We get another peek at Tad’s show, which is getting even more alarmist. Is anyone else covering this? Not even the Weekly News of The World? Not even Alex Jones?  Yup, global pandemic gets covered by one guy on the internet. Miller notices a “find my phone” app on the laptop, so he takes off in the direction of Mulder’s phone.

There’s a lot Scully hasn’t figured out and can’t explain. Just when she’s mentioning that to Einstein, she gets a call from a woman who claims to have the answers. Scully goes out to meet the mystery guest, who turns out to be none other than Agent Monica Reyes, of those couple of seasons when most of us gave up. Reyes “made certain choices” which seem to have involved becoming nurse maid and lackey to the Cigarette Smoking Man who miraculously survived a missile blast. What did he offer her? A chance to live through the coming apocalypse. Not being a maven of the seasons on which she appeared, I have no idea whether or not we should have seen this coming or if they’ve just badly betrayed a semi-beloved character.

To be fair, work is work, and she hadn't had any in a while.

To be fair, work is work, and she hadn’t had any in a while.

Reyes tells Scully that she is also among the elect and will be spared, and that the CSM so loves Mulder that he sent someone to offer him a deal. (In case anyone doesn’t remember or stopped watching before season nine, it’s likely that the CSM is Mulder’s biological father because if  Star Wars has taught us anything, it’s that the big bad must be your dad.)

Then we get a flashback to when CSM’s errand boy came for Mulder. He and Mulder fought like comic book superheros. Mulder won. Why show us this out of sequence? Anomalies abound.  In the episode’s present  Mulder arrives at the home of the CSM and puts a gun to his head. Then the CSM goes the whole Dick Cheney/Lex Luther/Dr. Evil  telling him it’s “too late” for heroics, and he starts talking about  his evil plans. Why exactly doesn’t Mulder just shoot him, if only to shut him up? Mulder is by now feeling the effects of one or more of the many fatal illnesses going around. CSM offers to save him so he can have a future with Scully, but mostly he just does a lot of the talky-talk thing that super-villains always do where they rationalize their psychotic plans for world domination. It’s humanity’s own fault, blah blah blah, and he offers Mulder a chance to be a part of the new world order. Which, of course Mulder rejects.

Still not defeated.

Still not defeated.

O’Malley  says he will be on the air through the duration, though he’s not looking too hot – unless by hot you mean burning up with fever. Agent Einstein  who’s working with Scully on developing a vaccine based on Scully’s magic DNA, isn’t doing too well either. O’Malley’s now raving about aluminum being released, and the lame-stream media not covering any of this. The hospital is packed. There are all sorts of traffic tie ups, but where are people even heading? And more importantly, where the zombies at? Seriously, if any scenario ever called for a zombie crossover/mash-up, this is totally it.

Needs moar zombies.

Needs moar zombies.

Meantime, Mulder is dying at the feet of the CSM, who says he’ll miss him and talks about how he once cheated death himself, and then he pulls off some of his face which is revealed to be a mask. The missile took out his nose and most of his skin. He is LITERALLY a monster and we have to see it because subtle this isn’t.

Back at the ever more overrun hospital, there is no alien DNA in Dana’s genome after all, which means no antidote and no hope.

Tad is now raving about microwaves, proving your crazy aunt was right. Have they mentioned pesticides and antibiotics yet? Plus dairy?

Einstein and Scully are talking like they are the only scientists in the world who can solve this. Why exactly isn’t Scully working with the CDC or anyone else? Wouldn’t that be helpful? It’s another mystery. Einstein and Scully figure out that they were using too few of her cells before, so they take a bigger sample.

Miller shows up at the CSM’s lair. Miller is also sick, but in better shape than Mulder. The CSM has his face is back on. Miller takes Mulder out of there. Neither of them makes any attempt to kill the CSM or get him to reveal something about how to stop any of this because it’s already too late.

Scully and Einstein have now developed the cure, which is a good thing because Einstein is fading fast. Scully gives some to Einstein and then goes out to find Miller who’s on route back but may be running out of gas which isn’t really available because there tends to be shortages during peak-apocalypse.

Tad is having trouble broadcasting, and sounds like someone on the old-timey television when reception was bad or aliens took control like on the opening credits of The Outer Limits. Then he reads a text “from a doctor” about a vaccine and tells people not to give up.

Scully in her car races toward Miller’s car, but maybe race isn’t the right word as mostly cars are just standing still on the road, and we hear helicopters and breaking glass because that’s what the apocalypse always sounds like.

Scully finally finds Miller and Mulder, but she tells Miller that Mulder is too far gone, which she knows without taking his vital signs because she’s that good a doctor. She says he needs stem cells STAT and they have to come from their son, William, which isn’t actually possible because they have no idea where William is. That’s when the alien spaceship hovers over them and there’s a beam of light, and another shot of Scully’s eyes because we can’t get enough of them.

So are these the good aliens coming to fight the venal conspiracy of men? Couldn’t they have shown up sooner? Or is it good men (and women) who also have access to alien tech – as we saw in the season premier? Did the CSM send a ride for Mulder figuring he’d finally be ready to give up? Could this whole thing have been a ruse to get Scully to look for William because somehow he’s the key to this whole mess? Who knows, and why even bother trying to figure it out? The answers will be out there some time in 2017, maybe.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: The X-Files

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  • Walt Garage

    There was a ton of badly done stuff in this episode, but I think the real “jump the shark” moment was when Scully stepped in front of a group about to start looting, yelled “stop” and they stopped and listened to her because she’s THAT GOOD. I hope they don’t get the next season.

    • As dumb as it was, I’d hate to leave them right there, in the middle of a traffic jam with aliens (or alien tech) coming. Season ten did have its pleasures, but the episodes that worked best were the stand alones. If anything the season proved that the show died the first time under the weight of its own mythology.

      • Walt Garage

        I’m with GW Bush on this one: “….fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me, you can’t get fooled again.”