December 20, 2015
The X-Files 2.6, Ascension: Ascend to the Stars
Summary: It’s a dark and stormy night in D.C., and Mulder has just gotten home to hear Scully’s message on his answering machine. When he realizes that she’s in danger, he rushes to her apartment. The police are there, but Scully isn’t. In flashback, we see Duane Barry coming through her window and grabbing her. Scully’s mother Maggie arrives, and Mulder tells her that her daughter’s not there. Maggie tells him she had a dream about Scully being taken. She wanted to call, but she was afraid of spooking Scully. But she knows Scully would have just laughed – “she doesn’t believe in that kind of thing, you know.”
The next day, Mulder, Krycek, and some other agents gather with Skinner to discuss Duane Barry. Skinner asks Mulder if he thinks Duane is crazy or following instructions from aliens. Mulder tells everyone about the implant, which he thinks Duane used to find Scully. He remembers Duane mentioning a mountain, but he’s not sure which. Skinner orders Mulder to leave the case; he’s too close to it. Mulder protests, but Skinner won’t budge. CSM is there for the whole thing, just puffing away and giving everyone cancer.
A police officer pull Duane over on a road somewhere, noticing blood on his knuckles. He pulls his gun and tells Duane to put his hands up. Duane refuses, insisting that he has to keep moving to his destination. He cautions the officer to let him keep going, for his own sake. Scully, tied up in the trunk, makes a noise, getting the officer’s attention. Before the officer can react, Duane kills him. At FBI headquarters, Mulder sees footage of the encounter as recorded by the officer’s dashboard camera. Scully is visible in the trunk.
Mulder listens to a recording of one of Duane’s therapy sessions, where he talks about “ascending to the stars.” He realizes that the route where the officer was killed leads to the Blue Ridge Parkway. He looks in a phone book and sees an ad for Skylark Mountain. Its slogan: “Ascend to the stars.” Krycek thinks they should inform Skinner, but Mulder disagrees. As he and Krycek get ready to head to the mountain, Krycek makes a phone call, telling someone where they’re going. CSM watches them leave.
Mulder and Krycek make the drive, though Mulder’s so tired that he nods off at the wheel and almost kills them. He refuses to let Krycek take over. Mulder promises that they’ll let Skinner know when they find Duane, but he didn’t want to tell him ahead of time. Skinner would send in a bunch of agents and spook Duane. At Skylark Mountain, Mulder and Krycek are told that they can’t take a tram up because the cable has just been replaced and hasn’t been tested yet. It would take too long to drive up, though, so Mulder demands use of the tram.
Mulder leaves Krycek behind, telling him not to let the crew stop the tram no matter what. A worker tells Mulder not to go faster than 15 miles per hour. Raise your hand if you think Mulder will listen. Duane’s still on the road up the mountain, so Mulder has plenty of time but doesn’t realize it. He cranks the tram up past 30 miles per hour, testing the strength of the cable. He only slows down when he reaches the top.
As Duane reaches Skylark Summit, Krycek knocks out the operator monitoring Mulder’s progress. He shuts off the tram, trapping Mulder just short of the summit, then makes a call to his superiors. With no response from Krycek or the operator, Mulder climbs to the roof of the tram. Krycek turns it back on, and Mulder rides it to the summit, not falling to his death as Krycek had hoped. It’s dark when Mulder finds Duane’s empty car on the mountain, with only ropes and Scully’s cross necklace in the trunk.
There’s a bright light in the sky, and as it flies over Mulder, he hears Duane laughing victoriously. “You can’t touch Duane Barry anymore!” he yells. He tells Mulder that “they” took Scully. More lights appear, but it looks like these are from the FBI. Duane’s taken into custody, and Mulder questions him about what exactly happened. Duane tells him that he just walked Scully up the mountain and offered her up so he wouldn’t be abducted again.
Mulder asks if Duane killed her. Duane swears that he didn’t – he put Scully on a spaceship. He sees people in black suits outside and tells Mulder to go after them. Mulder sees blood on Duane’s hospital bracelet and demands to know if he hurt Scully. Duane continues to swear that he didn’t, but Mulder almost strangles him anyway. After he gains control of himself, Duane says he’s sorry, but “they” had to take Scully. Meanwhile, Scully is scanned, drilled, and seemingly impregnated by aliens.
Krycek tries to chat with Duane, but Mulder yanks him out of the room, announcing that he’s the only one allowed to talk to Duane. Krycek says he went in because Duane was gagging. When he asked Duane about Scully, Duane started whistling “Stairway to Heaven.” Skinner arrives and starts to reprimand Mulder for disobeying orders, but he’s interrupted when another agent yells for paramedics – Duane’s having trouble breathing. He doesn’t survive.
Duane’s body is taken to Quantico for an autopsy, and his death is attributed to asphyxiation. The pathologist, Dr. Slaughter, tells Mulder he’ll have to go through military channels for more answers – the FBI came to her as there was no FBI pathologist available (because Scully’s the only one, apparently). Krycek meets with CSM, who tells him to go along with Mulder’s story so Mulder will trust him. They won’t be eliminating Mulder; that would turn his “religion” into a “crusade.” Krycek wants to know what really happened to Scully, but CSM says he doesn’t need to know.
At FBI headquarters, Skinner announces that Duane died from a lack of oxygen. Mulder admits to losing control and choking Duane, but not killing him. Skinner says that Krycek corroborates Mulder’s story, but no one’s sure what really happened, so Mulder and Krycek both need to undergo lie-detector tests. Mulder thinks Duane could have been poisoned, and the military could be covering it up because they know where Scully is. Another agent asks why Mulder’s so paranoid. Mulder replies that he finds it hard to trust anyone.
Mulder meets up with Krycek and asks to borrow his car keys. He goes to see Senator Matheson, but Mr. X intercepts him, telling him that Matheson can’t help him without risking his career. Mulder’s out of options. He says that Deep Throat would have helped him, but Mr. X claims that the situation is out of even his reach. No matter who Mulder turns to, he’ll get a denial of anything that’s happening. Instead of trying to see Matheson, Mulder gets back in Krycek’s car, where he finds cigarette butts in the ashtray.
Mulder writes up an accusation saying Krycek is working for a rival group and tried to sabotage the investigation. Skinner tells him he’d better have some proof to back up what he’s saying. He can’t protect Mulder, and at some point the bureau is going to seek out more answers. Mulder hands over the cigarette butts, noting that Krycek was the last person to see Duane before he died and the last person to see the tram operator before he disappeared. Scully must have gotten too close to something, so Krycek and CSM shut her down.
Skinner asks if Mulder thinks Scully is dead. Mulder doesn’t know how far this shady group would go. They learn that Krycek didn’t show up for work, and his home phone number has been disconnected. Mulder’s furious that they have no way of tracking him down to make him pay. Skinner tells him he’ll do the only thing he can: He’s reopening the X-Files. It’s the one thing their enemies fear the most.
Mulder meets up with Maggie and tells her that he doesn’t know where Scully is, but he’s going to do everything he can to find her. She tells him she had the same dream as before, and it still scares her. Mulder thinks she should be more scared if she stops having the dream. He gives her Scully’s cross necklace and wonders why she wore it if she was such a skeptic. Maggie says she gave it to Scully on her 15th birthday. She gives it back to Mulder, telling him to return it to Scully when he finds her. Mulder goes back up the mountain and looks up at the stars.
Thoughts: Thank you to whoever scored Duane’s drive to “Red Right Hand.”
There’s no Skyland Mountain, but there is a Skyland Resort in Shenandoah National Park. I hope they put on a big event for the revival.
CSM is so dumb. Throw out your butts, you moron! You’re supposed to be part of a top-secret conspiracy!