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World With(out) End, Amen: The X-Files Season 11, “Nothing Lasts Forever”

Mulder and Scully in an office

This penultimate episode of The X-Files (hopefully that means the series and not just the season, with Gillian’s certain departure one week away), aptly titled “Nothing Lasts Forever” deals with several themes, big and small. Endings, families and love, faith, age, and in a very meta way, television show revival all featured in last night’s installment. Also, interestingly enough, this is the first episode of the season to give any concrete proof that any of Season 10 happened at all. Featuring some callbacks to the polarizing I Want To Believe, “Nothing Lasts Forever” is a gruesome testament to The X-Files enduring history as well as a statement of fact. This show, this landmark science-fiction phenomenon, which spawned movies and games and comics and music, toys and (most importantly) a whole generation of women who entered the S.T.E.M. fields, is finally, definitively, coming to a close. Whatever that close might be, and if it be for better or worse, remains to be seen.

The core plot of this episode centers on the pseudo-science of reverse aging as promoted via a cult lead by a vain, self absorbed, washed up television star. In this at least, the episode carries on the theme of being particularly on the nose. We live in revival/reboot/remake culture, bastardizing original material and surviving off of the lifeblood (metaphorically) of the youth who eat it up (and the adults too, to be fair). This is a call out against The X-Files itself, and the theme of aging a direct commentary on stars Duchovny and Anderson, both of whom have laughed half heartedly a.) At the fact that they’re still playing the same characters after 25 odd years, and b.) That the stunts they are going in the new season are more demanding than those they did in the prime of their lives. No indeed, nothing lasts forever. Not even, so last season would have us believe, can Mulder and Scully.

And yet, they have always been what made the show special. From the moment Scully walked into that basement office (ironically, while Mulder was indeed wearing his glasses), it was clear that they were evenly (and perfectly) matched. This episode highlighted some aspects of their persons which I find to be fitting homage to their long and enduring presence in pop culture as not just characters but as people.
Every moment of this episode reminded me of three things: 1.) Why I’m constantly falling in love with Mulder all over again. 2.) Why I am able to connect so strongly to Scully, speaking as a Mulder-type and 3.) Why their relationship, be it romantic or physical or otherwise, is the single most important aspect of the show.

Each statement Mulder utters to Scully in this episode might as well constitute wedding vows. His words to her in both of the church sequences are achingly tender and beautiful. They are full of unconditional love and support and speak to everlasting devotion. Her cause is his, whether he believes in it or not, simply because it is her cause, and he would do anything for her. It can certainly be said now, without a doubt, that it was not Mulder who pulled away. Scully herself admits that. She admits her failures and shortcomings, and Mulder builds her up each step of the way (while, characteristically, tearing himself down in the process. Not such a great habit, Fox, dear.). Scully’s faith is my own faith (though, as a Catholic, I found some of the elements of this episode just plain strange. Not sure I’ve heard the mass said quite that way before…) and I notice in her the same proclivities as myself. She’s had her moments apart from her beliefs, and her moments of strong devotion, but, despite her belief, she understands that miracles, the way we are often wont to conceptualize them, don’t exist. She’s a realist, and human. Believing but not zealously.

Their conversation at the end of the episode is a perfect metaphor for their relationship. They stand by one another, and only have to realize and accept that partnership. They have not always done so, on both sides, but together is when they are the strongest. Together they have always endured and persevered. Whatever it was Scully whispered to Mulder, it doesn’t matter. Her faith in him, in his support and trust and his willingness to provide it, no matter what it was she had to say, showcases where they stand with one another. In Fight the Future [1], is was Scully walking after Mulder, and in this episode, it was Mulder walking after Scully. When she shares with him her prayer, she’s offering him her hand. They’re walking side by side at the end of this episode, headlong into whatever it is that comes next.

“I’ve always wondered how this would end.” Mulder states ambiguously. In some respects, we already have that answer. The X-Files will end the way it was always meant to, with Mulder and Scully presenting a united front, not just against shadowy government conspirators, but also together in life.

[1] – See the third paragraph for the Dave Grohl story regarding Mulder and Scully.

Tune in next Thursday morning for the immediate analysis of the X-Files finale!

Written by Eileen G. Mykkels

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