season 4, episode 24, “gethsemane”
the next three episodes would make a great full length movie. there is action, drama, suspense, angst. and that’s just the story. the quality of the product is amazing, as well. from the score to the cinematography to the editing everything is on point. and that includes the acting. everyone brings their A game. it has a movie like feel to it. it seems elevated compared to the rest of the shows on television. and yet these episodes take advantage of the small screen structure and the season breaks. there is a major cliffhanger at the end of the first of the three. i can’t imagine how audiences survived the summer. then it comes back only to end the season 5 premiere with an equally shocking cliffhanger. you’ve just got it back and they rip your heart out again and then proceed to stomp on it for the third and final emotionally-charged episode of the arc. it is so well done. so much so that you don’t even pay attention to the convoluted mythology that is starting not to make much sense.
the combination of mulder and scully together is probably the strongest element to the entire series, so it says a lot that throughout these three episodes they are mostly apart, but it feels just as strong. they don’t need to be in scenes together for the audience to feel their bond. not only are they apart physically, but they are on different pages about the work, about the x-files. scully begins and ends the episode giving a statement to a formal FBI panel headed by blevins, the section chief that assigned scully to the x-files. and what she is saying cannot be believed because of what we know about their partnership, but it puts the hint of doubt in your mind that what she is saying might be true. even though you know that mulder and scully must have something up their sleeve it’s still hard to hear scully say these things. “i come here today four years later to report on the illegitimacy of agent mulder’s work. that it is my scientific opinion that he became over the course of these years, a victim. a victim of his own false hopes and of his belief in the biggest of lies.” after what we just saw in “demons,” this is plausible. then the flashbacks that lead to scully’s deposition make her final declaration believable which makes it that much worse. “agent mulder died late last night from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.” ok, now try and enjoy your summer.
the events that lead to those charged scenes are equally as tense. mulder is completely consumed by a possible lead that would prove the existence of alien life. scully is preoccupied with her cancer that has metastasized. mulder takes scully to talk to dr. arlinsky, the scientist that has made the discovery of an alien body preserved in ice in canada. mulder is skeptical that it’s a hoax and scully is disinterested. “i have no opinion actually […] this is your holy grail, mulder, not mine.” she was scared at how far he went for the truth in “demons.” how far can she follow him, especially now that her health is failing. she’s trying to pull back a bit and distance herself. mulder takes offense. “what that’s supposed to mean?” “it means that proving to the world the existence of extraterrestrial life is not my last dying wish […] i can’t go with you.” this would be a perfect time for mulder to ask why. he just told her that this wasn’t a selfish pet project and she just dropped a hint, “not her last dying wish.” the events of “elegy” should come to mind. did you not tell her that you were afraid of the same thing she is? that the ghost she saw signifies that death is close at hand? he’s too obsessed with the possibility of proof to consider these things.
scully does what mulder asks as always. she gets the ice core sample tested. it feels very similar to the first season’s finale, “the erlenmeyer flask,” when she tests the purity control. she finds that the ice core sample contains a chimera and is important enough for a shadowy government figure to try to cover up. scully walks in on the man messing with the samples. she follows him and he attacks her. while scully investigates this man, mulder is off to the great north to extract the alien body from the ice. a cover up is in progress there, as well. the men on the expedition are all murdered, except one that survived and somehow hid the body before the assassins could get it.
scully locates her attacker, DOD emplpyee, michael kritschgau, and he tells her his story. one that says the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrials is an elaborate hoax put on by the government going back decades. scully has him recount his tale to mulder. mulder doesn’t believe it. he can’t. it would be a big a blow to his life’s work as when it was possible that samantha was taken by completely unsupernatural circumstances in “paper hearts.” to invalidate his life’s quest that has been all consuming and cost him and scully so much is devastating. it’s no wonder he goes into denial mode. he only starts to consider it as a possibility once scully tells him that they gave her cancer to make him believe in the hoax. the weight of that sends him into a downward spiral. not only is everything he fought for fake, but the most important person in his life was used as a pawn to make him believe. the last we see of mulder is him watching the NASA symposium, tears rolling down his face. then cut to scully telling the panel that mulder killed himself. it’s believable that kritschgau’s story would break him down to the point of suicide. and that’s what make this a gut-wrenching, feels-filled season finale cliffhanger.
this is the first appearance of scully’s brother, bill jr. i don’t totally hate him yet, but he definitely gets on my nerves. he disapproves of mulder and of scully’s dedication to her work. although, i can see that it’s a concern for his sister’s well being, it is a bit too condescending. “what are you doing at work? getting knocked down, beaten up? what are you trying to prove?” scully is forced to defend her actions to someone that can’t possibly know what it’s like to be in the position she’s in. “it doesn’t mean i’m not responsible to what’s important to me.” “to what? to who? this guy mulder? where is he through all of this?” he makes a valid point, but it’s not sympathetic in the least.
“agent scully, i assume you have a basis for this break from agent mulder.” uh, blevins, can you not. i don’t need to hear that with all the revival break-up stuff going around.
scully is telling a story at that party of someone falling down stairs. a little precursor to her own tumble?
bill jr. did that funny left eye blink that gillian anderson does. ha, maybe it’s hereditary.
mulder playing alien autopsy in that cozy sweater? hubba hubba.
we get bad ass scully chasing kritschgau in the parking lot and it’s glorious.
the scene where kritschgau tells mulder that it’s all been a hoax is difficult. mulder keeps looking to scully and she doesn’t return the look. when they finally do make eye contact it is fraught with tension. he’s offended that she is believing it and that she expects him to, as well.
when scully says “the men behind this hoax, behind these lies, gave me this disease to make you believe,” my heart actually stops from feels overload.
did you know? behind the scenes facts:
the tag line at the end of the opening credits is “believe the lie” in place of “the truth is out there.”
scully tells fr. mccue that she has strength. she told the psychiatrist in “elegy” that mulder has been her strength.