season 2, episode 6, “ascension”
“duane barry” was a slow build of tension and “ascension” is a fall into the depths of desperation. mulder comes home to listen to the message we saw scully leave him in the cliffhanger ending. how horrible to have to hear her calling his name. not just calling for help, but for his help. he arrives at her house, which is now a crime scene. scully is gone. the FBI puts together a task force, but skinner orders mulder to not be involved. he’s too close to the case. this is coming from the shadowy organization who are most likely responsible for her disappearance. csm sits in the background smoking. he’s blurred, but there is no question who it is. obviously they don’t want mulder working this case. he will solve it and he might get to scully before their plan comes to completion. krycek is back on babysitter duty because they know mulder isn’t going to follow skinner’s orders to stay out of it.
the question mulder and us, the audience, is struggling with is how duane barry found scully. was it the implant? was duane barry hearing voices of aliens or the secret government agency or some sort of combination of the two? mulder says the implant theory is the easiest, but most implausible. normally, mulder tends to lean toward the implausible, but he can’t put it past the government being involved knowing that they are capable of insidious deeds. then his guilt starts to seep in. did this happen to her because he got too close to his truth?
mulder is dealing with all this inner turmoil and the fear of what will happen to scully if he can’t save her. he’s still able to track duane barry to skyland mountain where the attraction is a tram where one can ascend to the stars. this setting is so beautiful that it becomes haunting with the impending danger. mulder’s tram ride becomes fraught with tension as krycek sabotages his progress. day turns to night illustrating the approaching gloom mulder faces. out of sheer desperate determination, mulder gets to the top of skyland mountain depsite krycek’s efforts. but, he is too late. duane barry is shouting in victory. he says they took her. who? “them!” he exclaims. mulder’s motto is “i want to believe.” this is a situation in which he does not want to believe. he’s been on a mission ever since his sister was abducted. he was unable to help her and lives with the guilt of it everyday. and now the only person he trusts has been taken in much the same way.
krycek and the men in black are busy trying to clean up their mess. duane barry is eliminated and his true cause of death covered up, making it look like mulder murdered him. mulder finds cigarettes in krycek’s car and puts two and two together. he brings all of the allegations to skinner. skinner can’t deny his suspicions. he knows csm is behind it and krycek, too. he reopens the x-files in vengeance. “that’s what the fear the most.” he may have little power in this situation, but he will assert whatever authority he can. at the moment this is of little consolation for mulder. scully is still gone and those responsible are free. he meets with scully’s mom who says she had the dream again that scully was in danger. mulder grasping at what little hope he has left, says “it’s probably scarier when you stop having the dream.” she tells him to keep scully’s cross necklace so he can “give it to her when you find her.” the episode ends with mulder not knowing what else to do but search the night sky.
mulder’s sporting some killer five o’clock shadow.
i love the use of nick cave’s “red right hand.”
i can’t stress enough how beautiful the skyland mountain tram scene is.
it’s really sad after mulder chokes duane, duane says, “sorry.” he’s genuinely sorry she had to be taken. he’s so relieved that he was spared this time. he’s such a tragic figure.
the pathologist said there was no one available from the FBI to do the autopsy. ouch, but really? scully was the only pathologist at the FBI?
this is the first time we hear the excuse from csm and his government group on why they don’t eliminate mulder. “kill mulder and you risk turning one man’s religion into a crusade.” you kind of always wonder why they don’t just kill him throughout the whole series and they hang onto this reason for dear life.
did you know? behind the scenes facts:
it is really gillian anderson’s pregnant stomach in mulder’s vision of scully.
david duchovny did his own stunts on the tram.
m: “did they mention how many people were put to sleep by their statistics?”