Guestwriter: Nick Monitto
The cold open of The X-files season finale starts with a “Previously on…” segment, going back to the Roswell UFO crash clips from the previous season, and highlights from “My Struggle III”. It continues with a voice-over by Jackson Van de Kamp/William Mulder. He talks about the visions he experiences, how he knew from a young age that he had special powers. He was a prankster, often acting out by using those powers, so his family moved around a lot. He was sent away for a time and talked with several psychologists. And he was aware that the government was watching him. He then speaks briefly of the events from “Ghouli”, bringing us up to the moment.
Mulder goes to a motel in Norfolk, Virginia. Deputy Director Kersh is upbraiding Assistant Director Skinner for his continued defense of Mulder & Scully. Kersh declares that he wants to shut down the X-Files and fire the two of them. He plays a clip of Tad O’Malley’s conspiracy show, claiming FBI knowledge of a coming global contagion. Skinner leaves the office and runs into Scully outside, who desperately asks for his help.
The episode then jumps back 15 hours.
Mulder is tipped off by Monica Reyes that William is on a plane to a private airfield in Maryland. Going there, he finds several of the Russian security soldiers and Mr. Y of the Syndicate, but no sign of William. Mulder argues with Y, and then kills him.
William is running through buildings in an industrial yard, chased by more of the Russian soldiers. He leaps a fence into a homeless camp and disguises himself among them as the soldiers rush through. Scully finds an odd cluster of Lotto wins in Northeast Tennessee and tells Mulder. He gets to the store and sees footage of William on a security camera, leaving the store and getting into a semi-truck a short time before.
A man pulls up to the store and hides a tracker on Mulder’s Mustang. Mulder leaves to pursue the truck. Scully calls O’Malley to inform him about the contagion that the Cigarette Smoking Man plans to release. She is hesitant to go on the record, so O’Malley twists her into saying that Mulder would back it up.
Riding in the semi-truck, the random conversation gravitates to William claiming to have super powers. He does the “Ghouli” monster trick on the driver who freaks out and stops in a panic. William leaps out of the truck and hides in a drainage pipe. The man who planted the tracker finds William walking down the road and picks him up, to take him to Norfolk. A group of Russian soldiers later finds the car, seemingly filled with blood and gore.
In Norfolk, Mulder talks to Brianna (one of the “Ghouli” girls) while William goes to Sarah (the other) to try and convince her to run off with him. He gets Sarah to promise to meet him then leaves when a car pulls up; it is Mulder, still in pursuit. Reluctantly, Sarah tells Mulder about the motel rendezvous. The episode is now back from the time jump, with Mulder at that motel room.
He tries to convince William to come with him, but William wants no part of it. He is tired of the game, tired of running, wants it all to be over. The soldiers burst into the room, led by the Syndicate’s Erika Price. William uses his powers to make each of them explode in a giant mess; this is apparently what he did to the driver of the tracking car, as well.
O’Malley goes on air with his own spin on the motel incident, including a shot of Mulder leaving. Skinner drives Scully to Norfolk to try and catch up with him. During the drive, but off camera, it is hinted that Skinner tells Scully what CSM said about creating William. They see Mulder’s Mustang and follow it to a sugar factory at the docks.
Outside the factory, Skinner sees a car with Reyes and CSM inside. She tries to back away, but CSM shoves the car into Drive and forces it forward. Skinner shoots and kills Reyes, but the car keeps going and rams Skinner’s, with him underneath.
Inside, Scully runs into Mulder and argues with him, Mulder saying they should let William go, and saying that he knows she loves him. The real Mulder shouts from down a hallway, and Scully realizes it was William in disguise talking to her. The chase continues.
Outside on the water, Mulder is standing at the dock’s edge. CSM holds him at gunpoint while Mulder taunts him. Defying the claim he couldn’t kill him, CSM shoots Mulder, who then falls into the water. But right after, there is a shout from the real Mulder, who is now coming out of the factory to confront him. Before CSM can fully react, Mulder shoots him 5 times and shoves him off the dock.
Mulder & Scully share a soulful denouement on the dock that fades into black for the ending… until we fade back up to the water level. Slowly, William starts to surface from below, still showing a gunshot wound to the forehead.
A FEW THOUGHTS:
-Opening credits end with the tag “SALVATOR MUNDI”
-In the finale on the dock, knowing that William was not really his child, Mulder laments “What am I if I’m not a father?” Scully tenderly replies, “You are”, touching her abdomen. While we may never get on-screen confirmation, this sounds as though what I thought happened in Episode 3 (“Plus One”) really did happen!
-I give this episode a B. Considering the way the previous season ended on what felt like a massive cliffhanger, it was nice to feel that (essentially) the story was wrapped up. The time jump in the middle was a bit odd, I’m not sure if the episode was better served to do it in that way. Some of the story & characters (such as O’Malley) seemed oddly underused.
-I give the season overall an A-. There were a couple of down points, a few episodes that dragged for me, but those were eclipsed by some fantastic ones which I would short-list as “best ever”. This season was only slightly longer than the last one (10 episodes vs. 6), but just that small growth made a huge difference. It was still a shorter run than that of most any US-made shows, yet it felt more developed and less hurried than the previous return season.
-At this point, it feels like “X-Files” is finished. Going into the last episode, I did not necessarily want that. Now, though, I think it may be the only right thing. The final hour had the feeling of tying up loose ends with the clear elimination of CSM, Reyes, and the Syndicate heads. Although his body was not fully shown, it would take a near miracle for Skinner to have survived, and without him it would be a shock if Kersh allowed Mulder & Scully to remain. Add in Gillian Anderson’s declaration that she is done with the character, and things feel pretty solid. Some folks may have groaned at the final shot of William in the water, but I was not really bothered by it. While it feels like ‘bait’ dangled to try and continue the show, it is at least consistent with the boy’s powers, and can still feel like an ending.
Nick Monitto has been a sci-fi geek for a few decades now, having watched the original “X-Files” in its day. He is mourning the loss (?) of AD Skinner by binging episodes of “Magic’s Biggest Secrets Revealed”