by Jess Lynde
Destination: Navajo Reservation, Two Grey Hills, New Mexico; Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Washington, DC
Mulder comes into possession of top secret Department of Defense files which may be the “Holy Grail” --- his long-sought-after proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the existence of aliens. Unfortunately, he receives this information just as the conspirators are orchestrating a plan to drive him into disgracing himself while suffering from misplaced paranoia. Scully must once again pull out all the stops to protect her partner and his cause.
So, another season finale, another chance to kick the mythology into crazy new directions. This time out we learned that following World War II, the US government colluded with Axis power scientists to conduct experiments on unwitting test subjects. The Smoking Man was involved, as was Bill Mulder. They are old colleagues, and Bill is apparently the one that authorized the experiments, for which he now feels incredibly guilty. All these evil doings were documented and encrypted using Navajo code talkers from WWII.
It also appears that the some remains of those experimented upon were buried in a refrigeration box car in the New Mexico desert. Mulder thinks the bodies are aliens, although Scully says the decoded files indicate they are humans, referred to as “the merchandise.” (They look fairly alien, but depending on the nature of the experiments, who knows what the human corpses may look like at this point?) Also, Bill Mulder was murdered by Krycek to keep him from talking about his role in the conspiracy --- if only he had heeded that “deny everything” advice --- and we got some eerie talk about an ancient race of Native Americans that disappeared without a trace (the titular Anasazi, which means “ancient aliens”). And, oh yeah, while attempting to destroy evidence, the Smoking Man may have just murdered Mulder.
This episode also went full bore paying off all the hints of danger from the last several weeks, with Mulder succumbing to drug-induced paranoia, punching out Skinner and briefly turning on Scully. It was rather fascinating to see Mulder really light into the two people who have arguably been in his corner the most. It was surprising to learn that his deep paranoia still extends to Scully, even after all they’ve been through together. I guess after years and years of mistrusting everyone, it can be hard to let go of all your niggling doubts. Even when it comes to your most trusted ally (especially if she was originally assigned to spy on you). I’m sure that learning his dad had been harboring some pretty massive secrets didn’t really help on that score. Fortunately for Mulder, Scully completely understands his frame of reference and current state of mind, and she still goes for broke to protect him and further his cause (which now appears to be her cause as well, given that she’s mentioned as a test subject in the files, along with Duane Barry).
This is the episode that first got me into obsessive internet fandom. I have very distinct memories of combing over message boards after it aired, reading all the speculation about the shape of the series mythology and Mulder’s seeming fate at the end of the episode. I remember being crazed with anticipation for the Season 3 premiere, in a way that I had never felt about a television series before. Thanks, X-Files, for leading me down the dark path of obsessive television viewing (you, too, Babylon 5)!
The opening tagline was in Navajo: El ‘Aaniigoo ‘Ahoot’e. “The Truth is Out There,” perhaps?
Another story co-written by David Duchovny and Chris Carter. An interesting follow up to the ‘Colony’ and ‘Endgame’ two-parter. It was nice that they brought Bill Mulder back into the fold and paid off the visual allusions to the Smoking Man in his introduction.
“Weren’t you originally assigned to Agent Mulder to debunk his work?” That’s ‘Special Agent’ Chris Carter!
So, the Smoking Man claims he’s been protecting Mulder. Really? Purely for his own ends, it seems. “The last thing we need is a martyr or crusade.” Well, Smoking Man, you may have just screwed the pooch on that one.
The way Mulder’s dad embraced him when he arrived was absolutely shocking. Is this the same cold fish that could barely shake hands with his son, and then laid the mother of all guilt trips on him after losing his “daughter” again? If that doesn’t underscore the terrible weight of his guilt and regrets, nothing could.
Mulder should have told Scully he was going to see his father. He knew she was looking into something for him, and would probably be dropping by later. She almost got killed because he couldn’t be bothered make a simple phone call!
Why would Scully have Mulder come to her place if she was worried people might be trying to kill him? The people that want him dead know she’s his only friend. I’m reasonably confident that her apartment is one of the first places they’d look for him.
The Smoking Man says he didn’t authorize the killing of Bill Mulder. Interesting. Either Krycek’s gone rogue, or not all the government conspirators are in agreement on the best means of furthering their agenda.
Smoking Man: “Gentlemen, that was the phone call I never wanted to get.”
Mulder (to the Lone Gunmen): “You boys been defacing library books again?”
The Thinker: “I want the truth. And I want you to promise that those rat bastards answer to the people.”
Smoking Man: “Regret is an inevitable consequence of life.”
Scully: “I just need some kind of assurance that they’re not going to let us hang ourselves with this. That I’m doing the right thing.”
Mr. Mulder: “You’re going to learn of things, Fox. You’re going to hear the words … and they’ll come to make sense to you.”
Mulder: “What words?”
Mr. Mulder: “The merchandise.”
Mulder: “You’ve been making reports on me since the beginning, Scully, taking your little notes!”
Scully: “Mulder, you’re sick. You’re not thinking straight. I’m on your side, you know that.”
Mulder: “Look. You have my files, and you have my gun. Don’t ask me for my trust.”
Mulder (after learning his water supply had been drugged): “Oh my god. There was a murder in my building.”
Scully (flatly): “Well it wasn’t an exercise in subtlety.”
Albert: “You’re lucky she’s a good shot.”
Mulder: “Or a bad one.”
Mulder: “Listen to me, you black-lunged son-of-a-bitch, I’m gonna expose you and your project. Your time is over.”
Soldier: “If he was here, he’s vanished without a trace.”
Smoking Man: “Nothing vanishes without a trace. Burn it.”
Final Analysis: A packed season finale that leaves us with lots of food for thought, and a hell of a cliffhanger.
Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.