At least some of the pieces fall into place as the impending death of Scully pushes everything forward, including the Cancer man's major play to recruit Mulder. As others have said here in reviews, it isn't the story, or in many cases even the writing that makes this show. It is the acting and because of that our investment in the characters. Everyone was spot on in this episode and I am more attached to the characters than ever.
Scully was facing her own death and displayed the expected fear, resignation and anger, at different times, in different ways. Gillian Anderson was brilliant especially when she expressed the pain at losing her faith. Mulder is torn apart by grief, anger and guilt. The scenes by Scully's bedside, his defiance in front of his superiors, his desperation to see her. Besides the fact that the show couldn't have gone on without one of its leads, it is also obvious that the fictional Mulder would have been totally adrift if Scully had died. David Duchovny is not left in the dust in the least. Even the Cancer Man (William B. Davis), Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and Bill Scully (Pat Skipper) show their stuff.
For the most part this episode is about tying up loose ends, figuratively and literally. We all know that Scully can't die but it is important how we get there. I thought it was clever to leave us guessing as to why she went into remission. We aren't sure if it is the microchip or the doctor's experimental treatment or Scully's new found faith. We have to get Mulder off on his murder charge and move the conspiracy along a bit and having section chief Blevis take the fall is also clever as we suspect Skinner throughout the episode even if we don't want to and we know it can't really be him.
The real loose end is Cancer Man. He has been pushing the people in power for a while and they can no longer tolerate him. It was bittersweet to see how proud Cancer Man was of Mulder. It seems he has tried to protect his children (at least he seems to think they are his children) even if he had to do so at a distance. He has been taking care of Samantha as a father and watching over Mulder. Then again, is that really Samantha? Mulder gets to see his sister but apparently his only link to her is now gone. I actually felt sorry for Cancer Man as he lay there bleeding. He gave up everything for this conspiracy and a shot to the chest was all it got him. When Mulder began to weep at the end I wonder if even a few of those tears were for the man he thought might be his father.
The beautiful piece of this episode was how precious Scully is to the men in her life. Skinner can think that maybe his dark work wasn't in vain and Mulder gets to keep his other, better half.
I didn't put up the usual headers for these reviews. There wasn't really a case for this episode but it takes place in Washington.
Scully's make-up was well-done. It must have been difficult to make someone as attractive as Gillian Anderson look so wan.
I have a particular fondness for those shots down the many flights of stairs.
The Master of Understatement (Blevins): “The fact of your being here today very much alive, it gives the effect of reshaping this investigation into something altogether different...”
Skinner: “You’re looking pretty good for a dead man.”
Mulder: “I’m only half dead.”
Senator Harkin: “I don’t think there are any appropriate limits to human knowledge...”
Scully: “Mulder, if I can save you, let me.”
Mulder: “Please tell me you’re here with severe chest pains.”
Mulder: “One sorry son of a bitch speaking.”
Mulder: “I don’t care whose father you are, I’ll put you down.”
Mulder: “Have the father say a few 'Hail Mulders' for me.”