The X-Files: Apocrypha

Case: Mulder continues to seek answers to an alien conspiracy while Scully tries to find the man who killed her sister.

Destination: Washington, D.C., New York City, North Dakota

According to Wikipedia, apocrypha are “statements or claims that are of dubious authenticity. The term is commonly applied in Christian religious contexts involving certain disagreements about biblical canonicity.” Over time, it also took on the context of texts that may have had “hidden or suspect motives.” What a great title for this episode.

The Bible is a collection of texts, chosen millennia ago, to represent “truth.” Take, for example, the life of Christ. The Bible tells us that he was a celibate who had twelve apostles, all men. Yet, recently, a text was discovered that talks about a wife who was an apostle. There is also a text that says that not only was Mary Magdalen not a whore, she, too, was an apostle.

If we accept these stories as part of the “truth” of Christ’s life, it turns two millennia of church doctrine on its ear. For a powerful institution, this is unacceptable. If the church can be so wrong about something so fundamental, what else is it wrong about?

Similarly, the government has crafted a story over time that Mulder, Scully, and we know is suspect. Like those scholars of yore, the group of men who actually know the truth about the aliens, the Syndicate, are deciding which stories will be told and, more importantly, which stories will be omitted. Like all the Biblical scholars since the beginning of time, Mulder and Scully want access to all the stories so that they can determine the truth for themselves.

This search is a problem for those crafting the story. They do not want their choices questioned; they want blind acceptance of their version of the “truth.” Like the church seeing any amendment to the life of Christ as a threat, the Syndicate sees Mulder and Scully’s search as a threat to their power and they will go to any length to ensure that the Truth (with a capital T) remains hidden.

The interesting choice that Carter et al made was to have the Syndicate, more or less, succeed in this endeavor. Mulder is, finally, no closer to the Truth than he was at the beginning of the story.

The Truth does not come without cost. Thanks to the cold open, we as viewers now know how deeply Mulder’s father was involved in the conspiracy. In one short scene, the writers have provided us with two pieces of information, neither of which is comfortable.

The first is the sure knowledge that this conspiracy has been going on for decades and will not be easy to break. The second is that Mulder has a deeper emotional connection to the conspiracy than he knows right now. When he discovers that his father was one of the architects of the story, the effect on his struggle to find the truth will take on an entirely different emotional resonance.

While it can be frustrating to remain stalled in terms of the story, the reason this episode works is the same reason the series worked. We keep rooting for Mulder and Scully, and we keep hoping that they will learn what the Truth is. It is the emotion and the passion that each of them brings to this quest that makes it work.

To be fair, we get a bit of closure in this episode in that we learn who killed Melissa. The reveal at Mulder’s bedside that the gun that shot Skinner is the same as the one that shot Melissa is beautifully written and filmed. Scully tells Mulder what she has discovered and gives him a look; the look he gives her in return is full of meaning.

The scene where Scully finally apprehends Cardinal is difficult to watch, but raises Scully to a new level of heroism. Yes, the assassin is telling her that, if she doesn’t shoot him, he can tell her where Krycek it. It’s not his information that keeps him alive, however, it is Scully’s innate sense of morality. She is unable to shoot an unarmed man in the street.

The final scene at the cemetery reminds of what makes this show so powerful. Nothing has changed. Melissa is still dead; the Black Oil is still out there; the digital tape is gone. Yet, Mulder and Scully have each other even though the Syndicate is still winning.

The actual assassin is dead, yet the truly guilty continue to plague our heroes.

Other Thoughts

Both Mulder and Skinner end up in the hospital and Scully is there to look after them. She certainly engenders respect. The lab tech is still obviously smitten and, if anyone were shipping Scully and Skinner, this episode would give them hope.

The Lone Gunmen at a skating rink and Mulder beating them at their own game with simply a pencil, “a finely calibrated piece of investigative equipment.” Fantastic!

If you look closely at the car when Mulder and Scully get to the silo, you can see a camera and some crew reflected. Oops.

The silo in which Krycek is locked is numbered 1013. This is the name of Chris Carter’s production company as well as his birthday.


Young CSM: “You can trust all of us.”

Skinner: “Anger is a luxury that you cannot afford right now. If you’re angry, you’re gonna make a mistake, and these people will take advantage of that.”

Scully: “I’ve seen stranger things, believe me.”
Smitten Lab Tech: “I believe she has.”

Well Manicured Man: “Mr. Mulder, anyone can be gotten to. Certainly, you’ve no doubt of that.”

Final Analysis: A very good ending to a mythology arc that leaves us in no doubt that the Truth is out there. The doubt remains, however, how Mulder and Scully are ever going to find it.

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.

1 comment:

Heather said...

(Deleted then retyped because I was not wearing my glasses the first time therefore typos!)
This review is spectacular. I absolutely love the way you've drawn the comparison to Christianity, the Bible and the like. I'm just speechless. I've read it three times already!