8×21: Existence

“All the sacrifice, the blood spilled– you’ve given nearly a decade of your life. Where the hell is it all going to end?” — John Doggett
“I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t.” — Fox Mulder

The threat of the super soldiers loom as Reyes helps Scully to give birth to her child. Meanwhile, Mulder and Doggett attempt to unravel a conspiracy within the FBI.

Existence

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: And so here were are sports fans, at the end of this season, and by the closing minutes we will have welcomed a new life into this strange world of aliens and other assorted freaks. The birth of little William — named in honor of Mulder’s father — is the cherry on top of a rollercoaster ride of danger and threats from within and without. We all know (and Radhika alluded to last post) of the unwritten rule that any shred of happiness that our heroes enjoy will be all too brief, so let us just take a step back to savor the truly blissful tableau of Scully, Mulder, and the miracle baby — a moment I think would warm even a noromo’s cold dead heart.

To get there though we have to wade through the conspiratorial fog of super soliders inside the Bureau. This is the first episode where we hear that term used to describe the new form of alien-human hybrids that have replaced people like Billy Miles, Knowle Rohrer, and the turncoat Agent Crane. Alex Krycek lays out the terrain to Mulder, Doggett, and Skinner, attempting to use what he knows as leverage to ensure his survival in this new world order we have going for us in the series’ mythology. Seeing both Rohrer and Crane enter the offices of Deputy Director Kersh, Doggett comes to fully realize the age old X-Files maxim of trusting no one, even though he can’t yet bring himself on board in believing all of this super soldier/alien colonization mumbo jumbo.

Existence

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Meanwhile, Reyes has taken Scully to a nearly abandoned town in Georgia, a location given to her by Doggett, who was born there himself. Setting up a comfortable space in an old general store, Reyes makes things the best she can for the delivery. Scully commends her for her efforts, even though I’m sure she and us the audience could do without Reyes’ attempts at mimicking whale sounds (but at least she has a lighter!). A local trooper on patrol gets thrown into the mix, and the three women stave off a raft of gawkers — including the rebuilt Billy Miles — who have come from parts unknown to bear witness to the birth of the impossible child. Mulder arrives just in time to see mother and baby doing well, and later Doggett drafts Reyes into the X-Files to begin investigating the Deputy Director himself, who sneers at his charge with barely contained disdain.

Naturally, the big moments of this episode are focused all around the birth of young William, and seeing that assembled group converge on her birthing bed is one of the more unsettling scenes in a season that really has grown attached to maximum gore. It is made all the more disturbing by Scully’s cries and pleas to the group to not take or harm her child. Granted, the crowd benignly dispersing is a bit anti-climactic, especially given Billy Miles’ murderous rampage and robotic dedication to whatever plans his Colonist overlords had in place. For someone whose life has become a never-ending X-File, Scully’s birth and the circumstances around it are more question marks just begging for answers.

Back on the FBI front, what this episode does that no mythology outing has ever really done before is clearly paint a picture of malfeasance and corruption within the Bureau itself. Sure, in the past the Cigarette Smoking Man could be seen wandering the halls with impunity, leaning on people like Skinner — and there was Section Chief Blevins who was bought off by a Syndicate shell company — but with the emergence of the super soldiers and the intimation that Kersh is in league with them, things are going to be very rough for associates of the X-Files going forward.

Existence

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

This new playing field gives a symbolic nod to the audience when Skinner, in a move that he has probably dreamed about for quite a long time, guns Krycek down in the Bureau parking garage with Mulder looking on in quiet approval. Krycek’s death is given cinematic flourishes fitting for the weight and momentousness of the occasion. One of the last — if not the last — survivors of the old clandestine order is wiped off the board, having seemingly run out of bullshit to spin to his advantage to anyone who will listen.

We go on from here to the last season of our beloved program, a rocky denouement if ever there was one. From the trauma of Mulder’s abduction to birth of Scully’s greatest wish to the introduction of new allies as well as new threats, season eight I think was a mostly successful endeavor.

Radhika: I appreciate that “Existence” ends on a decent enough note, especially considering this is the last of Mulder until the series finale. Mulder and Scully do at least deserve a peaceful moment together, even if it is with the little miracle alien baby, and it’s something of a pleasant change to see a season finale offer us that kind of scene without immediately following up with a lingering feeling of doom. Of course, viewers then had to grapple with the fact that their favorite dynamic duo would be split up in some capacity by the time the next season rolled around, but hey — it is pleasant to have nice things, however short-lived they are.

Existence

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

I think the episode as a whole is pretty decent and in the context of a two-parter, it mostly works well, but I will admit that my attention span lagged in parts. This episode doesn’t feel as exciting as its predecessor — and we have a lot of the same old thing with the super soldiers acting nuts (a bit Terminator-esque, no?) followed by… absolutely nothing, because everyone is appeased by the power of the miracle baby? Also, some of the symbolism gets a little too heavy-handed: Mulder comes to visit Scully and William at the end to find The Lone Gunmen with gifts before he then goes on to say that he followed a light to find Scully. It becomes too much of a “wink wink nudge nudge” moment for me. (Much like Reyes and her whale songs — it would have been fine if she’d stopped after mentioning them. The need to demonstrate what a whale sounds like was just too much.)

When we reviewed “Requiem,” I mentioned that by coming full circle, The X-Files had gone ahead and created a plausible ending for itself — that season finale could have really worked as a series finale in my opinion. Watching this season finale, I also think it could have worked as a series finale (which makes me a little grumpier about what ultimately did play the role of series finale for the show). A new era began with season eight, but plenty of chapters close here, with plenty of closure for the characters. I would have been okay with the show wrapping things up here, despite the scene of Doggett and Reyes defiantly facing Kersh together (a clear setup for the next new era of the show). But here we are with one more season ahead… on with the show?

YES IT’S THAT LADY

Dale Dickey – The actress portraying the Georgia trooper has several television roles to her name, including True Blood, Justified, My Name Is Earl, and Sons of Anarchy. Her film credits include Winter’s Bone, The Pledge, Domino, and Iron Man 3.

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