Destination: Bellefleur, Oregon
‘Requiem’ winds down seven seasons by compelling Mulder and Scully to re-investigate their first case. And by compelling I mean forcing and by forcing I mean Chris Carter. He’s back to write this season finale. ‘Requiem’ is actually a good title because this episode is the death of the series and its mythology, never to be revived again. Many will argue that the end of a cohesive mythology was a long time ago, they’re not wrong. But no single episode has marked the end of its mainstay feature so ceremoniously as this one. And in many ways, though it continued (at the time) for another two seasons, the show would never be the same again because of the loss of David Duchovny. Carter’s answer to this extremely depressing circumstance is to write a sub-par episode that creates a plausible reason for Mulder to be gone, ‘indefinitely’. Whether you buy the concept this episode posits for his abduction, well, that’s up to you. For me, it’s, at best, a Hail Mary.
Before I continue, I acknowledge that this series was in between a rock and a hard place, and that even that is a gigantic understatement. This episode had to be poised to either be a conclusion to the season or the series, and the creative team didn’t know which, until three days before it aired. They also didn’t know in what capacity Duchovny was coming back. But instead of working with those circumstances in a semi-artful way, 'Requiem' is a Chris Carter debacle of confusion and poorly used actors, muddling through the deeply overwrought contrived dialogue.
The first act of the episode might as well contain actual dialogue from the transcripts of meetings Fox and Carter had through the later years of this show’s production. The conversation Mulder has with the FBI accountant (Agent Chesty Short, if you can stand it!) doesn’t make as much sense in the context of the series, as it does to the real life issues this show went through, budget-wise and beyond. But Carter’s cynicism, as it often did (sometimes to great success), bled through not just Mulder’s dialogue but his whole attitude, which makes him harder to root for, in and among the circumstances of ‘Requiem'. And Scully is a total wash, which Carter makes clear early on, since all of her abduction issues (which add nuance and depth to much better written episodes) hamstring her to the point of ineffectiveness. One pleasant surprise, however, is the emotion Mitch Pileggi’s Skinner is given to play, especially towards the end of the episode. As a fan of this character, I rejoice at seeing his anything beyond his tough dad role. Because it is he who feels responsible for Mulder disappearing, we see an emotional side of Skinner, riddled with guilt and sadness.
The second act isn’t worth analyzing, or even talking about too much since it reflects most of the aforementioned confusion. (Not to mention, Krycek, CSM and Marita.) It involves the same group of characters Mulder and Scully sought to understand in the show’s pilot: Billy Miles (who is inexplicably law enforcement now), Theresa Nemman, now married to a missing sheriff, Billy’s dad, as well as, once again inexplicably, the alien bounty hunter from 'Colony.' The episode comes to a climax when Mulder is taken aboard the aliens’ ship, perhaps forever.
In the show’s final moments, we find out that Scully was so physically taxed while in Oregon because she is… pregnant. What can I say to that revelation other than... Whoo-boy.
* For one of the most influential creatives who was hellbent at never resolving the undeniable romantic/sexual tension between Scully and Mulder, Carter writes one of the most romantic scenes in the series' history when Scully comes to Mulder’s hotel room ‘to get warm’. I guess her blankets don’t work in her room?
* Furthermore, this is the same person, vehemently opposed to Mulder and Scully ever being together, who wrote one hell of an ending, blowing up any mystery as to the nature of Mulder and Scully's relationship.
* Side note: Am I too hard on Chris Carter?
* Skinner’s face when Scully tells him she’s pregnant.
Scully: "Let's go waste some money."
Final Analysis: It’s a shame because this episode could have been a million times better written. As it stands, the last sentence was the only interesting redeeming one. 'Let's see where this all goes from here' was what I was left thinking.