Destination: Washington, D.C.
“Extraordinary men are always tempted by the most ordinary things.”
By this time in the series, the mythology has become so complex and so fractured that it is impossible to take it seriously anymore.
Chris Carter and David Duchovny (the credited writers) have no problem taking it seriously. In fact, they forgot that they were writing a television show and decided to take themselves and their story far too seriously. The result is the very worst of the show’s sins -- pretension, over-writing, and a narrative that tries to do far, far too much.
Famously, Duchovny based a great deal of this episode on the Nikos Kazantzaki novel The Last Temptation of Christ. Duchovny had decided that Mulder’s struggles were Christlike. On the one hand, Mulder is destined for great things (saving the human race from alien destruction); on the other hand, he wants to live a normal life.
The Christ imagery goes on and on. But, just in case we miss the point, Mulder is laid out on the operating table as if he is lying on a cross, with a ring around his head no less. I just can’t go there. Mulder as Christ is a step too far for me and I find myself rolling my eyes a great deal during this episode.
It’s not just the Christ imagery that goes too far. CSM’s reveal that he is Mulder’s father should pack a highly emotional punch. It does not, mostly because it is not believable. He may be Mulder’s father, but the writers don’t follow up with it and, as a result, we don’t care very much.
Once again, it is Gillian Anderson that saves the day. Watching her struggle with her faith, her belief in her science, and trying to come to terms with what she has seen are all beautifully portrayed. Her frustration and confusion at the end of the episode are astonishing to watch and we can’t help but be moved by everything she has gone through.
This episode is saved from being a total disaster by that final scene. Whether or not you ship Mulder and Scully, it is hard to see this scene as anything other than “I love you.” And, that kiss on the forehead goes on a tad too long to be platonic. The reason the scene works so well is that these are not people who express themselves easily or reveal much to anyone, even each other. Here, they are showing each other their true feelings without being overt. It is within character and it is earned.
It is also about damn time.
-- Amor Fati = love of fate. It is found in the philosophy of Nietzsche in which he talks about an attitude towards life that embraces everything that happens, both the good and the bad, as it helps us become who we are destined to be.
-- “The child is father to the man” is a Wordsworth quote. “The road not taken” is Robert Frost.
-- Mulder’s old man makeup is not a success.
-- The shot of the alien invasion is incredibly cool.
Deep Throat: “They can change your name, but they can’t change the things you love.”
Mulder: “There was one thing that remained the same. You were my friend and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant... my touchstone.
Scully: “And, you are mine.”
Final Analysis: An overall terrible episode that does nothing but muddle the mythology. It is saved by the final scene, one of the most romantic ever filmed for any show.
ChrisB is over the mythology, but not over the shipping.
- Next episode
- The X-Files season 7
- The X-Files home
- Watch this episode or the entire season on Amazon now