February 10, 2018

The X-Files 7.2, The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati: The Last Temptation of Mulder

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

In case you wanted to be hit over the head with the episode’s Christ imagery…

Summary: Mulder’s having a dream about a couple on a beach with their little boy. In reality, a doctor is telling his mother that his brain is being destroyed. Teena’s upset that they’re sedating Mulder so much that he’s basically a zombie. She asks him for a sign that he can hear her. He can, but he can’t communicate that to her.

CSM visits later, voicing over stuff about fathers and mothers. He knows Mulder can hear him. Mulder thinks that he could always hear CSM’s voice, even when his head was full. The two appear to communicate telepathically as CSM injects Mulder with something. Mulder thinks he’s being killed, but the injection revives him. CSM wants to give him a choice between life and death. Mulder’s “account is squared” with everyone.

Mulder points out that he’s dying, but CSM says only part of him is. He’s not Jesus or Hamlet; he can recover and leave the hospital, and everyone will forget him. “Arise,” CSM says, like he’s Jesus. Mulder sits up, and CSM tells him to take his hand. Mulder doesn’t know why, though; all the voices in his head are gone, and he can’t read CSM’s mind anymore. CSM tells him he has to take the first step. Mulder thinks about the boy on the beach again as CSM announces that he’s Mulder’s father. So now I guess he’s Darth Vader.

Kritschgau finds Scully sleeping in her office instead of working and chastises her for it. She doesn’t care for his opinion, since he drugged Mulder. Kritschgau tells Scully that Mulder believes he was infected with an alien virus two years ago, and that the virus was reactivated by something else alien. He’s proof that alien life exists. Scully doesn’t care, since Mulder’s dying – their only job is to save him. “You destroy this and I’ll destroy you,” Kritschgau threatens.

Skinner calls Scully to tell her to get to the hospital. Mulder has disappeared. When they meet up, Skinner says that the authorities at the hospital claim that Teena checked Mulder out. Skinner doesn’t want to be involved in the case any longer, so Scully’s on her own. Really, it’s that Skinner’s in a “compromised position,” so it’s better if he doesn’t know what his agents are up to.

Back on the dream beach, a boy a few years older than the one from the earlier dream approaches Mulder. “The child is father to the man,” he says in CSM’s voice. Noooo, that’s not creepy at all. Mulder wakes up in CSM’s car and learns that CSM had doctors tend to him. He thought Mulder would die, either at the hands of the Syndicate, the FBI, or his own foolishness, so CSM had to save him.

Mulder doesn’t think CSM can just make him disappear, but CSM says they’ve made whole cultures vanish. Mulder will just become a man without a name, like CSM. Mulder wants to contact Scully, but CSM says that’ll put her in danger. In a sense, he’s entering a witness protection program. CSM offers Mulder a cigarette, saying that maybe now he smokes.

Scully goes home and is surprised by a visit from Hosteen, who was basically at death’s door the last time Scully saw him. He tells Scully that she needs to find Mulder – not just for his sake, but “for the sake of us all.” Meanwhile, CSM takes Mulder to a house in a suburb somewhere, encouraging him to consider accepting this new life.

Scully verifies with another FBI agent that Teena signed Mulder out of the hospital against medical advice. However, someone painted over surveillance cameras, so they can’t see who actually moved him. There’s a small, visible spot through the paint, and Scully easily recognizes the person Teena’s talking to on the footage. After all, there’s only one person she knows who would smoke in a hospital.

Mulder goes into his possible new home and finds the fridge well stocked. (I don’t know who puts sunflower seeds in the fridge, but okay.) Deep Throat is there; he says he’s not dead, just “really relaxed.” He calls the bullet he took a punctuation mark that ended one chapter of his life and allowed him to start a new one. Mulder admits that he felt responsible for Deep Throat’s death, but Deep Throat doesn’t want him to feel guilty about anything. He’s not the center of the universe. The two of them are just “puppets in a master plan.”

Mulder has suffered enough, and Deep Throat wants him to enjoy his life. He shows Mulder pictures of his family, inviting him to have dinner with them – they live just down the street. But first, Mulder needs a nap. In a dream, he finds a boy on the beach, building a sand castle that gets knocked down by a wave. Mulder tells him he can just start again. When Mulder wakes up, he’s shirtless, and Fowley’s in his house, ready for some lovin’. She takes off a pair of handcuffs on his wrist, which we will never, ever tell Scully about, right, guys?

Scully tries to call Teena, who doesn’t answer her phone. Scully gets a delivery containing a book on Native American practices and sees that writing on the cover matches writing on the stone. Inside the book is a chapter on the Anasazi – a whole culture that disappeared without a trace. The words “sixth extinction” are used. Scully calls Skinner to ask if he sent the book, which explains everything she found in the Ivory Coast. It also talks about a myth about a man who can save everyone by protecting them against a plague.

Skinner can’t talk right now, though, since there’s someone in his office. Scully goes to see him in person, finding him just as someone leaves his office after attacking him. She tries to chase the attacker, but he pulls a fire alarm and disappears in a crowd.

Mulder’s now living a nice little suburban life with Fowley, but he doesn’t want to turn his back on his commitments to the X-Files, Scully, and Samantha. Fowley tells him he’s being childish. He needs to let go of his fantasies and be a real part of the world. Specifically, he needs to become a father. Mulder’s like, “We had sex once. Can we put the brakes on? Also, I don’t trust you.”

Scully goes to Kritschgau, accusing him of leaking information, which led to Skinner’s attack. She sees the symbols from the stone on his computer and guesses that he hacked into her files. He admits that he’s having the NIH analyze the symbols. Scully deletes the files as Kritschgau says that someone’s looking for Mulder.

Mulder and Fowley visit CSM, who lives in the neighborhood. He tells them he has some grandchildren, and also lives with someone Mulder would find very familiar: Samantha. She’s thrilled to see her brother. The real Mulder is in some sort of lab, still unconscious. CSM and Fowley are with him, talking about the kinds of dreams he might be having. CSM thinks that, like other extraordinary men, Mulder’s being tempted by something ordinary in his dreams. Those dreams are all he has now.

Fowley goes to FBI headquarters, where Scully finds her and asks for a cigarette. Fowley decides they should just talk about what they both know this is really about. She tells Scully that instead of worrying about where Mulder is, Scully should think about what she could have done to prevent all this. Scully tells her to think about Mulder as a person, with all his promise, and tell her that Mulder wouldn’t work his hardest to save her. Fowley says she’s thinking about that – she’s always thinking.

CSM chats with a doctor at the lab about an alien-human hybrid and why they’ve kept Mulder alive for so long. Long story short: Mulder is immune to the coming apocalypse, so he’s going to undergo a procedure that may allow them to save everyone. But it might kill him, which CSM is okay with, since it means he “suffers a hero’s fate.”

Suddenly Dream Mulder and Dream Fowley are getting married. Then things speed up, and Mulder’s older. Fowley’s dead, and at her funeral, CSM tries to comfort his son. In the lab, CSM tells Fowley not to think of Mulder as a man, like Scully wanted her to. She needs to think about the sacrifice he’s making to save everyone. Fowley wishes he’d had a choice in the matter. Oh, NOW you think about that.

CSM thinks Mulder would have made this choice – he gets to “become the thing he sought for so long.” He spent his life looking for aliens, and now he’ll be one. Mulder’s part in the procedure is almost done, and CSM will now take over.

An unaged CSM talks to an older Mulder about the boy he sees on the beach. Mulder says he’s seen the boy thousands of times, but he never understands what the boy wants him to see. CSM tells him to close his eyes. The boy is ready to show him. On the beach, the boy has build a huge spaceship out of sand, but now he wants to destroy it. He tells Mulder it’s Mulder’s ship, and Mulder’s the one destroying it. He was supposed to help.

Hosteen returns to Scully’s apartment, telling her she’s looking in the wrong place. Scully doesn’t know how to save Mulder anyway; the science doesn’t make sense to her. Hosteen points to her cross necklace and asks if she’s looked for him there. They kneel to pray together, and Hosteen tells Scully, “There are more worlds than the one you can hold in your hand.”

CSM is ready to undergo the procedure (which I guess will give him Mulder’s immunity?), telling Fowley that he’ll carry on for his son. This is God’s blessing; the knowledge needs to be spread. Mulder wakes up during the procedure, looking straight at Fowley, who can’t bring herself to watch what’s going to happen.

Mulder dreams of being old and on his deathbed, with a still-unaged CSM by his side. Samantha and Deep Throat are dead for real, as are Fowley and Scully. CSM tells Mulder it’s time for him to let go. His loved ones are waiting for him. He tells Mulder to close his eyes. The two of them are the last ones left – “the end and the beginning.” There’s nothing left for Mulder to do, since the apocalypse has come and everything’s on fire, and there are spaceships flying into buildings and stuff. What a wonderful world!

Someone starts a fire in Kritschgau’s apartment after either wounding or killing him. It’s Krycek, and he leaves with a file. Someone slips an envelope under Scully’s door containing an access card for the Department of Defense. As the procedure continues and Scully uses the card, Mulder dreams of Scully coming to his deathbed. She’s mad that he believed the story that she was dead. She calls him a traitor and a coward. He’s not supposed to die “in a comfortable bed with the devil outside.”

Mulder argues that CSM has taken care of him. Scully says he’s made Mulder trade his mission for a comfortable life. Mulder obviously doesn’t know it’s the end of the world outside. He says he’s too tired to look out the window, but Scully tells him to get out of bed and fight. The procedure is done by the time the real Scully finds the real Mulder and wakes him up. He struggles to stay awake, and she begs him to help her fight. He asks her to help him in turn.

A week later, Mulder’s recovering at home, ready to go back to work. Scully visits, and he tells her that Hosteen died last night. He was in a coma for two weeks, so there was no way he could have come to see her at her apartment. Scully says that’s impossible, and Mulder asks if it’s more impossible than what she saw in the Ivory Coast. (Or, you know, THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.) Scully says she doesn’t know what to believe anymore. She was so determined to save Mulder that she was able to deny what she saw. Now she doesn’t know what the truth is.

Then Scully breaks her own news of death: Fowley was found murdered just hours earlier. Scully didn’t trust her, but she knows Fowley sent her the book that helped her save Mulder, so Fowley deserves some credit. Mulder says that he was like Scully once. He chose a path that took him away from his beliefs, and in the end, his world was unrecognizable. Scully told him the truth. “Even when my world was falling apart, you were my constant, my touchstone,” he says. She tells him he’s the same to her. In one last dream scene, Mulder and the boy build a big sand spaceship together.

Thoughts: One of the boys in Mulder’s dream (they keep changing ages) is played by the same twins who played Owen in early years of Party of Five. Two of the doctors involved in the procedure are played by Brian George and David Brisbin. Coincidentally Brisbin’s character appears to be an anesthesiologist, which is what he plays on ER.

David Duchovny co-wrote the episode and personally rewrote the ending because he thought Mulder was too upset about Fowley. Gillian Anderson’s hair is different in the final scene because she got it cut between the original taping and the reshoot.

For connections between this episode and the movie The Last Temptation of Christ (the inspiration for my recap title), see the X-Files wiki.

AS IF Mulder would be tempted to marry Fowley. AS IF Scully wouldn’t be his literal dream wife.

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