7×22: Requiem

“There’s so much more you need to do with your life. There’s so much more than this. There has to be an end, Scully.” — Fox Mulder

The end is the beginning is the end as Mulder and Scully revisit the place where they encountered their first case as partners.

Requiem

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: “Requiem” is a standout mythology episode in an otherwise lackluster season — it is the season finale that can and should have probably been a series finale, and it is frankly one of the best season finales the show has produced. After much of the mythology’s original threads were wrapped up in previous episodes, this episode manages to revisit and revitalize that aspect of the show, providing us with both an end of an era and the start of something new.

After receiving a call from Billy Miles, an abductee our heroes encountered in the Pilot, Mulder and Scully head to Oregon to investigate the possibility that alien abductions have started up again. Seven years after their first case, Billy Miles is now a police officer and another abductee, Theresa Nemman is now a new mother married to Billy’s deputy sheriff, Ray Hoese, who has disappeared. Both Billy and Theresa end up disappearing again, thanks to some havoc wreaked by none other than the Alien Bounty Hunter, taking on the guise of loved ones.

Oregon also happens to be the alleged crash site of an alien craft — and some old characters like Alex Krycek and Marita Covarrubias return, summoned by a dying Cigarette Smoking Man who sees the crash as a chance to rebuild old projects. The two characters eventually end up teaming up with Mulder, Scully and the rest of the gang to find the UFO. Mulder doesn’t let Scully — who has been experiencing fainting spells and other alarming health issues — join him when he returns to Oregon with Skinner. He finds the UFO and a group of abductees, including Billy and Theresa, and ends up getting abducted himself, with Skinner witnessing the whole thing.

Requiem

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

It doesn’t end there, however — the CSM is presumably killed when Krycek throws him down a flight of stairs. And when Skinner goes to Scully to tell her the bad news, she has news of her own: Once barren as the result of her own abduction, she’s pregnant.

This is a pretty exciting finale — one of the more straightforward, yet jam-packed ones in a while. It’s also an incredibly emotional episode: Fans knew David Duchovny would only be coming back in a limited capacity for the eighth season, and this episode does not squander the chance to give his character a sendoff. The Mulder we see here is the more sensitive man we encountered circa season two when Scully was first abducted. He’s aware of everything his partner has lost in joining him on his quest: He’s tender with her, insistent upon her taking care of her health, and he also seems ready to dial things back a notch on his end. When we first meet our agents in the episode, they’re being audited and berated for their expenses — Mulder can see that the X-Files may not last forever and that perhaps there is more to life than his work.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Mulder and Scully don’t remain loyal to each other until the end. Even while facing the possibility of something changing for them, they present a united front from Scully not quite jokingly telling Mulder they should go waste some money in Oregon to the two of them insisting no harm should come to each other. Mulder doesn’t want Scully putting herself in danger as a former abductee who’s been experiencing some odd medical symptoms (ironically, it’s his own stint with some abnormal brain activity that puts him in danger and gets him abducted). Scully doesn’t want Mulder traveling alone. All of this naturally makes it even harder to watch when Mulder gets his solid proof of UFOs and extraterrestrials, only to get abducted.

Requiem

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Because this episode takes our agents back to where it all began for the series, there are of course plenty of callbacks to the Pilot. The X that Mulder spray-painted on the road in the first episode is still there. The scene where Scully comes to Mulder because she’s feeling strangely cold is also very similar to that scene in the Pilot where she appears in a panic because she may have marks exhibited by abductees. But it’s also a scene that shows how much has changed — the casual brief flirtatious element of that Pilot scene is much more intimate now, with Mulder and Scully literally spooning on the bed as Mulder tries to keep her warm. This is where they also discuss everything that has happened in the past few years and how perhaps it’s time for something to change in the future. That scene encapsulates everything about their journey together and regardless of one’s views of whether a Mulder and Scully romantic relationship should have ever happened onscreen, it is a genuinely meaningful scene for most longtime fans to watch.

Requiem

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: After rewatching this episode, I tried to do some research to see the exact sequence of events that occurred in the series’ production regarding the future after season seven. I know Carter wrote the final hospital scene only days before shooting to prevent spoilers from leaking on the Internet, but there is precious little about how the story for the episode was shaped and whether the writers knew about an eighth season. All along, Carter and company sensed that things were beginning to wrap up (thus you had big signposts like Samantha’s status finally being resolved), but as to their plans (another season? a film franchise?) I can’t say. Nevertheless, “Requiem” is a powerful episode that reaches back to the Vancouver heyday.

Like Radhika said, a whole lot of the episode involved callbacks to Mulder and Scully’s first case, and the way things are markedly different from the time when two agents began working together despite their philosophical differences. I’m reminded very much of Back to the Future Part II, in which the final section reexamined the events of the first film from a different perspective. Here, we take a look at the abduction of a group of high school students through the lens of seven years of conspiracy. Back when The X-Files began (or whenever you loyal readers began watching the series from the start), we could hardly fathom what was in store for us or the directions the road of the mythology would take us. We didn’t have much to go on, only a vague threat posed by the Cigarette Smoking Man as he archived the implant Scully turned over to Section Chief Blevins deep within the bowels of the Pentagon.

Requiem

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Speaking of our constant adversary, his desire here to resurrect The Syndicate in some form comes off as the desperation of a man perilously close to his demise, trying in vain to recapture his glory days and the intoxicating allure of power. It’s telling how of little consequence the Smoking Man is at this late date as Krycek and Covarrubias approach Mulder via Skinner. The scene of them, our agents, The Lone Gunmen, and Skinner in the Assistant Director’s office pouring over satellite data to locate the downed UFO is one of my favorite scenes in an episode full of them. Seeing all of them working together all Last Supper-like is electrifying, and really shows the growth and evolution of characters we’ve been watching for quite a long time. This is evidenced when Scully is being questioned by the guy auditing their expenses, and especially with Skinner as he joins Mulder back in Oregon to locate the alien craft.

Skinner has a kind of “come to Jesus” moment when he sees the UFO that captured Mulder, Billy, Theresa, etc. take off into space. Over the course of his association in overseeing the X-Files division, Skinner has read (and sometimes seen) some pretty out there stuff. But none of that compares to this, akin to Mulder’s encounters in “Paper Clip” and the climax of Fight the Future. Here, for him, is the kind of undeniable proof his subordinate has been searching for for most of the series. Having Skinner on “our” side like this now is the next step and a bulwark to move forward in a Mulder-less show.

Requiem

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

All of this, at least in hindsight, is meant to set up future stories and plotlines. The conspiracy that powered the mythology is long since dead, so here is the chance to leave some hooks for the next (and all told, final) stage of The X-Files. Yes, we have familiar elements meant to bridge things (the Alien Bounty Hunter, etc.), but there is a sense of something new on the horizon, all represented by the possibilities of Scully’s shocking pregnancy reveal. Her abduction was the font from which the mythology flowed for most of the series’ run, so it is only natural that Scully and her pregnancy would be the thing that renewed that particular well. A frequent point of discussion in our writeups has been the idea of Scully constantly in peril (to the detriment of her character), but I think it must be said how central her character has been to the events of the show, which the above are examples of.

This is important as we move forward without Mulder, the other backbone of our storied double helix. Scully’s miracle pregnancy and the search for Agent Mulder now form the driving force of the mythology going into the eighth season, a new — and to be honest, a little scary — frontier for the cast, the crew, and us the audience. In the recent film A Most Violent Year, a character opines, “When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life, and that I can’t do.” Well guys, it’s time for us to jump.

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6 thoughts on “7×22: Requiem

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