season 2, episode 17, “end game”
agent mulder angst continues in the second installment of this two part mytharc. mulder is already enervated at the reappearance of his sister and now scully has been taken hostage by an alien bounty hunter. how much more can he take? much more, apparently. samantha tells him the bounty hunter will want to make a trade, her for scully. mulder just got his sister back and now he needs to make a decision that could make him lose her again. he doesn’t hesitate in that decision. either he has some suspicion of her in the back of his mind or he is truly optimistic that he can kill the bounty hunter and save both of them. “i’m your sister, fox, you have to trust me.” in “little green men” mulder said he could only trust scully. he’s not sure who to believe or trust at this point. his world has turned upside down with the return of samantha and he doesn’t have his voice of reason to get him through it.
scully is traded for samantha, but she doesn’t know it’s her until mulder screams her name after she falls off the bridge with the alien bounty hunter. it breaks her to see him lose his sister again and that she had something to do with the loss this time. she asks mulder if he’s sure it’s really samantha. he gets mad at her for doubting it. but, after what she just experienced, seeing mulder who was not mulder, she can’t help but question it. they find samantha’s dead body in the river. scully tells him not to blame himself. he can’t help himself. he carries guilts that he shouldn’t all the time. he blames himself for samantha’s first abduction because he was paralyzed and couldn’t help her. he blames himself for scully getting abducted, too. and he will blame himself for this one.
mulder goes to a meeting place that samantha had said to go to should they get separated. he finds other ‘samanthas’ there. the feeling that he was played and that he was used for his emotions about his sister is practically debilitating. one of the clones does not deny that he was lied to and another says that they know where his sister really is. later, the alien bounty hunter tells him that his sister is alive. are they continuing to deceive him or do they really know her whereabouts? what is mulder supposed to believe?
scully is still looking into the strange death of agent weiss from “colony.” by isolating the virus that caused his blood to thicken they determine that it’s inhibited by cold. and this is the first connection to the beginning of “colony” and our first inkling that mulder somehow gets infected by the same virus. i had forgotten about that scene completely with all that had transpired in the meantime.
mulder, still hanging onto the belief that his sister is out there, goes to see mr. x. he gets the information he needs to continue his quest. a quest he doesn’t want scully to risk her life on. he knows she will try to find him and he leaves her a note on his computer. “scully, when you get this message i’ll be too far away for you to stop me. but, where i’m going i cannot allow you to follow. i won’t let you jeopardize your life and your career for reasons purely personal to me. you were right, scully, you said a line had to be drawn. i’m drawing it for you here.” nobody draws dana scully’s line, but dana scully, thank you very much. there is not even a fleeting thought that crosses her mind to not go after him. you can see her freaking out internally as she reads his note.
she desperately reaches out to skinner and mr. x for help in finding him. a combination of these two men lead her to his location. the skinner/x confrontation is just a delight. the honorable and loyal skinner coming out to play with the menacing and self-serving x. they battle it out in the elevator. “did you tell her what she needed to know?” “i’ve killed men for far less.” “you pull that trigger and you’ll be killing two men.” it’s such a riveting scene. this is the first time scully witnesses skinner putting his neck on the line for her and mulder.
scully stays at his bedside as he recovers from the alien virus that he was exposed to when he went after the alien bounty hunter in the submarine. it somewhat parallels mulder staying at scully’s side when she was comatose. in an always welcome scully voiceover, she poetically attributes mulder’s recovery to science. “many of the things i have seen have challenged my faith in an ordered universe. but this uncertainty has only strengthened my need to know. to understand. to apply reason to those things which seem to defy it. it was science that isolated the retrovirus that agent mulder was exposed to and science that allowed us to understand its behavior and ultimately it was science that saved agent mulder’s life.” she says science, not herself. earlier she gave mulder credit for saving her life, but she won’t take credit for saving his. because dana scully is a better person than all of us.
their end exchange is another staple in these mythology episodes, as common as the necessary fight they seem to find themselves having. mulder wakes to a smiling scully, cracking a joke, “thanks for ditching me.” he sincerely responds reiterating his sentiments from his earlier message to her, “i’m sorry. i couldn’t let you risk your life on this.” she asks, “did you find what you were looking for?” “no, but i found something that i thought i’d lost. faith to keep looking.” this declaration is aligned with scully’s realization in her monologue. they are both dedicated to continue the search for the truth.
man, scully gets the shit kicked out of her by the bounty hunter. she is one tough chick.
the changeover from mulder to bounty hunter was done well. the times we had seen before were kind of clumsy.
when mulder tells his father that his sister is gone again. his dad seems to want to stress that it was a decision that mulder made. is he relieved to have this decision on mulder and not himself? we learn later in season 3 that he made the decision to have her abducted in the first place.
mr. x is so grumpy. “how’s the opera?” x growls back, “wonderful, i’ve never slept better.”
first time we see that mulder does, in fact, live in apartment 42. the answer to the meaning of life. 42.
you can see his heartbreak when he sees that wreckage in the motel room indicating the attack on scully. like it was seeing her trashed apartment in “ascension.”
mulder doesn’t hesitate to agree to trade samantha for scully. scully doesn’t hesitate to try to find mulder after he tells her not to.
the end exchange. reaffirming their shared commitment to the x-files.
alien bounty hunter: “she’s alive. can you die now?”