Scully: Did you find what you were looking for?
Mulder: No. But I found something that I thought I’d lost. Faith to keep looking.
Looking back on the X-Files, it’s easy to forget the time when mythology episodes were exciting and one of the biggest reasons to watch the show. In those early days, it felt like maybe Chris Carter and his writers had some long-term plan for where all this was going and were slowly giving us pieces of the story every time it was time to start and end a season or during sweeps.
Unfortunately, the deeper we get into the show, the less sense the mythology makes. But watching through the show again, I can’t help but be swept up in the “something awesome is happening” feeling of those early mythology pieces. The first eight episodes of this season did that as do “Colony” and “End Game.”
At the end of season one, Mulder began to doubt his quest because of the lack of quantifiable answers and/or evidence. And while Mulder has kept going in his crusade, it wasn’t necessarily motivated by the personal demons that drove him in season one. In the first part of the season, he was driven by his need to find and save Scully.
But now, Mulder is given what appears to be what he’s always wanted — answers about his sister, Samantha. While looking into a case involving the death of seemingly identical abortion doctors, Mulder’s world is rocked with the news that his sister has been returned. This serves the dual purpose of giving Mulder the answers he’s always craved and introducing us to Mulder’s family. The scene with Mulder’s father sitting on the porch and lighting up a cigarette is clearly intended to draw parallels to the Cigarette Smoking Man — and given what we’ll eventually learn about Mulder’s father’s involvement in the conspiracy and the choices he made, it’s a scene that gathers more meaning as we go along.
With his sister’s return, Mulder is ready to jump in feet first, feeling like the answers he’s always been denied are sitting right there in front of him. This allows him to be manipulated into helping the clones — both the abortion doctors and his sister. Seems there’s an alien bounty hunter after them all because this group of clones is seeking to create an alien/human hybrid. Just why the alien bounty hunter’s employers are upset about this isn’t made clear, but future installments will try to fill in some of the blanks.
For now, it’s a race against time to stop the bounty hunter — first from killing all the clones, then from killing Scully and then from escaping our planet in his space ship. In many ways, this two-parter is the X-Files at its most epic with our heroes racing across the country and then the the globe. The final set piece of Mulder and the Bounty Hunter on the submarine in the frozen northern hemisphere is truly epic. And yet for all the travel miles that Mulder and Scully log, the story is still a personal one. This time, it’s about Mulder finding his faith again to keep looking for the answers. It’s interesting that both Mulder and Scully have nearly died this season and both times they’ve back from their near death experiences with a new faith to keep on looking for answers.
And it’s not just Mulder and Scully who get to shine. Skinner steps from the sidelines and throws his hat into the ring. For some reason, I remembered his fight with X taking place later in the mythology arc. But it’s here — with Skinner giving and taking a whipping to try and get Scully some answers. I can’t help but wonder if he would have gone as far for Mulder. Part of me thinks that isn’t likely.
I also find it interesting that the episode is one that start slowly only to start spiraling more and more out of control. The odd factor of identical men killed at three separate clinics slowly spirals into this far reaching conspiracy and epic events that have a tie-in and an impact on Mulder. It’s interesting to see that David Duchovny had a hand in crafting this story. And that he’ll have a hand in crafting another epic mythology piece before the season comes to a close.
Meanwhile, as I watched this one, I couldn’t help but feel the real victims here are Mulder’s neighbors, who never asked to live next door or down the hall from the on-going circus that is Mulder’s life.
“End Game” also welcomes Frank Spotnitz to the writing staff. Spotnitz is part of the second wave of writers who would join the show and begin to take it an entirely new direction.
And this two parter welcomes Brian Thompson to the show. He made an indelible impression as the alien bounty hunter.