The X-Files: The End

Case: The death of a chess grandmaster and a telepathic boy lead Mulder and Scully into the heart of the conspiracy they’ve been struggling with for five years.

Destination: Vancouver BC and Washington DC

Mulder: “This kid may be the key not just to all human potential, but to all spiritual unexplained paranormal phenomena. The key to everything in the X-Files.”

This episode was written to be the series finale. Because it’s not, it becomes a harbinger of all the mistakes that were to follow.

The original plan was for the show to run five seasons and then morph into a series of movies. By this time, the first film was finished and set for release in a few weeks. The show was so profitable for Fox, however, that they ordered two more seasons. Thus, this episode had to be re-written to not only segue into the movie, but two more seasons of television. This is where the episode falls down.

My first complaint about this episode is the smacks you in the face chess metaphor. It’s been done. Often. I get it. The problem with chess as a metaphor is that, as a game, it eventually ends. Win, lose or draw, it ends. There is resolution and a final move.

Because what was meant to be the end of the story became the middle, there is no resolution. Instead, all the mythology that has been building up for the past five years gets more convoluted and, frankly, more silly. This would have been a good point to resolve at least some of the questions before moving forward with new ones.

My other huge complaint is the introduction of Diana Fowley as a romantic rival for Scully. Of course Mulder has a past; I’m sure Scully does as well. The fact that Scully gets all passive aggressive and snarky annoys me. She’s better than that and she’s closer to Mulder than that.

My other concern is that the story is inherently sexist. Why, oh why, must two women who are interested in the same man always revert to the schoolyard in television dramas? It’s the type of stereotype that this show usually manages to avoid.

There is a lot of good in this episode. The return of CSM is welcome. He is a formidable foe that manages to ramp up the tension in the show to a welcome degree. His coldheartedness is fascinating to watch. Of course, if you didn’t see the “Luke, I am your father” reveal coming miles away, you haven’t been paying attention.

Gibson Praise is an interesting character that provides hints of what is going on. Jeff Gulka plays him very well and I left the episode wanting to see more of him. Through him, we might just get some answers. Then again, we might not.

The best scene in the episode, and I would argue one of the best scenes in the entire series, is the final one. CSM grabbing Samantha’s files and torching the rest of the X-Files is an iconic moment, one makes everything that comes before bearable.

For an episode called "The End," there is no real sense of the end of anything. Yes, the office has been destroyed and will have to be rebuilt, but no questions are answered, several new characters are introduced, one returns. The end is a cliffhanger, and not a very exciting one at that.

Other Thoughts

--Fox pulled up the money truck to ensure the next two seasons. Both Duchovny and Anderson received huge raises and production moved to LA so that the newly married Duchovny could go home at night.

-- The cold open was filmed as a love letter to the city where the show had filmed for five years. The producers sent out word through local radio stations that they were filming a scene in Rogers Arena and wanted people to come fill up the seats. They expected a couple of thousand; more than 12,000 people showed up.

-- The opening credit reads “The End.”

Quotes

Mulder: “Wow, you know you're going places in the bureau when the assistant director tidies up your office for you.”

Gibson: “I don't mind it here. They get all the good TV shows. Where I live in the Philippines all we get is Baywatch.”
Mulder: “What's wrong with Baywatch?”
Gibson: “You've got a dirty mind.”

Final Analysis: Some great moments don’t save this episode from making it very clear that the cracks were beginning to show, especially in the mythology.

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.

5 comments:

Dr. Johnny Fever said...

I didn't realize this was meant to be a series finale. I always wondered why they torched the office at the end, just to have Mulder later working to restore the lost files. At the time I honestly thought "this changes everything!" which then morphed into "oh... nothing changed".

My 11 year old sees my love for the X-Files and is always wanting to watch an episode with me. Any suggestions for an entertaining episode that isn't overly gross or sexual?

For example... "The Ghosts that Stole Christmas" would be an easy episode for her to follow and the scares are simple, but the last scene of Mulder and Scully dragging themselves through their own blood ruins it as a candidate.

Heather said...

Dr. Johnny Fever,
I've been thinking about appropriate episodes for an 8 year-old. I think S6 is a good instinct. The Unnatural, Triangle and Dreamland are the ones I've been thinking about for my son. I'm leaning more towards aliens than anything else. The Goldberg Variation in S7 may also be a good one. Of course, as a fan the farther we get from S1-5 the more diffuse the greatness of the show is. At least in my opinion! So there's that.

Chris,
Thank you for your review. I have the same issue with Fowley and Scully. I do love Gibson Praise though -- love when he's telling the scientists what they all had for breakfast. And finally, this episode yields my favorite line of the series. "You're insulting me when you should be taking notes." Classic Mulder!

Dr. Johnny Fever said...

Heather,

Thanks for the suggestions. 'Triangle' may be too confusing for someone that doesn't already know the characters, but otherwise would be excellent. 'The Unnatural' lacks Scully (unless I'm mis-remembering), but would also work well. Unfortunately, I hate 'Dreamland' so I couldn't sit through it again :(

Heather said...

Dr. Johnny Fever,
I hear you. If I think of any others I will post them here! By the way, if you Google 'Gillian Anderson and Bad Blood', she is going through this same thing as you and I, with her 7 and 9 year-old. She showed them Bad Blood, thinking it would be perfect.The results were somewhat humorous, if slightly undesirable.

Billie Doux said...

I think I should have skipped this one. I found it so frustrating when it aired, and I find it frustrating now.