“Josepho said God spoke to him of a miracle child. A future savior coveted by forces of good and evil. Josepho believes your son is this child.” — Robert Comer
With baby William kidnapped by the UFO cult, Scully must do everything in her power to get him back while dealing with FBI interference and a whole bunch of prophecy mumbo jumbo.
Max: You know that potential we spoke about in the previous post? Well, consider it fully squandered and dumped on with the conclusion of the activities of the UFO cult who so sought out William with reckless abandon. “Providence” is an unholy mess of conspiracy and fortune telling, and while the entire fate of humanity is allegedly in the balance, the stakes in this episode could not get any lower, with our heroes going through seemingly predetermined motions to get to a place where precious little of value is left.
The episode runs on the usual parallel tracks, with the Bureau skullduggery happening in and around St. Mary’s Hospital where both Doggett and the undercover agent Comer were sent after the events of last episode, and a route that leads to the UFO site that Scully and Reyes travel on in order to follow up on information about William’s whereabouts. Inbetween, there are many conversations about picking sides, the nature of truth, of God and belief, and of prophecies that tie the fates of Mulder and William to that of mankind in a fight against a looming extraterrestrial invasion.
At this point, giving you the reader a run down of the ins and outs of the episode’s plot acrobatics seems like a waste of time, particularly when the quality of the episode doesn’t warrant the ink that would be spilled in the enterprise. The mythology is supposed to be one of the more exciting aspects of The X-Files, and it is sad to say how little I am invested in what is going on here, with my mind wandering numerous times during the rewatch. I really don’t care about Josepho and how him seeing “angels” (probably super soldier prototypes) brought him to orchestrating the kidnapping of an innocent child. I really don’t care about Follmer’s reconsideration of where he stands in the Bureau. And I really don’t care — even though I should — about whether Mulder is alive or not, because of how poorly things played out here.
In our review of “Trust No 1,” we mentioned how the lack of a clear antagonist has been detrimental to the impact of the mythology. And while we get one in the form of the Toothpick Man — a super solider, natch — it is a circumstance of too-little-too-late, particularly in hindsight when we have only ten episodes left of the series as well as the fact that the groundwork for these revelations has been shoddy at best. Yes, William found his way back into his mother’s arms, a so-called miracle to top the miracle of his conception, but time is not on The X-Files‘ side, and the way Carter and company operated the mythology back in the day doesn’t work anymore.
Radhika: I was so completely bored watching this episode that I won’t go on too long about it either. As Max was handing off his part of the post to me, he called it “background noise,” and honestly, that is exactly what watching this episode was like for me. My mind wandered even more than it did while viewing its predecessor and I was full-on multitasking just so I didn’t feel like I was completely wasting my time.
While it’s nice to see Scully reunited with her son at the end, there’s no way this story is ending well (a sentiment I remember feeling even back when the episodes were new to me). Scully has rarely been allowed a moment of happiness during this show’s run and seasons eight and nine have been no exception. It’s just painful to watch at this point, especially when the episodes feel so bland and generic — I no longer feel like I’m watching something special while looking back at these episodes.
As I mentioned with the last episode, a lot of things in this installment feel like retread — or halfhearted attempts to create suspense. The Toothpick Man, introduced momentarily in the previous episode, just feels like a “lite” Cigarette Smoking Man. Bringing Mulder into the plot when there’s no way we’re going to see him is just as useless as it was in the previous episode. Watching the Scully and Reyes detective club is just “meh.” And the whole not trusting Skinner thing just feels incredibly old and pointless — yes, the character was introduced as somewhat ambiguous, but has ultimately proven to be an ally multiple times, especially toward the end of season seven and during season eight. So to see Scully back to avoiding him for a bit just feels like a massive regression.
I have said it before: The X-Files is often at its worst when it’s boring. I’d take the mediocre, but slightly batshit Monster of the Week episodes of the Vancouver days over this mediocre mythological drudgery anytime. Onto the next episode!