The X-Files Recap: Nothing Lasts Forever
I am not even sure where to start with this week’s hot mess of an episode, y’all. “Nothing Lasts Forever” (ain’t that the Truth with a capital T) was all over the place, but at least we got some really nice Mulder and Scully dialogue. I wanted to love this episode, as the promos made it look like a good, old-timey X-File where organs are being stolen and someone is after the organ-stealers. If only that was what it was really about! Instead we got four different subplots that were somehow trying to be one plot and not quite pulling it off. Mulder and Scully once again did not really do much investigating. I was left shaking my head and trying to figure out why we were given such a labored metaphor for how you can’t fight the aging process.
Things started out normal enough. There were two guys operating on a soon-dead patient in a warehouse (in Port Morris, the Bronx, NYC) to take his organs while a third guy waited with a cooler and another guy waited in a truck outside. Guy in truck was listening to Tad O’Malley, in case you missed that tidbit. Inside, the pancreas is looking a little poor. One of the “surgeons” licks it. GROSS. This whole scene is gross. Outside, a teenage girl is crossing herself and vowing religious vengeance. She finds the organ operation and stakes a guy with a metal spike. She then stakes a doctor and asks where the organs are going, but he doesn’t know. The third doctor escapes with the truck driver and one of the coolers. The teen girl leaves the other cooler, with the heart, lungs, and such in front of a hospital ER. She has written “I will repay” on the cooler.
Theme song, new tagline – I Want To Be Beautiful – and Scully receiving communion in a DC church. We pop back to NYC where the teen girl is washing blood off herself at home and the warehouse operation is now a crime scene. Mulder and Scully arrive on the scene, chatting with some newbie agents who don’t appreciate their presence. What a shocker! These rude little sh*ts need to learn some respect. Mulder messes with them a little, noting that the stake should be made of wood – the three kinds of wood used on Christ’s cross. Scully notes that he’s screwing around but she seems to be enjoying it. They go to follow up some leads and Mulder pulls new glasses out to look at his phone. Scully asks if his glasses are new and if they are bifocals. He is offended! “They aren’t bifocals. They’re progressives. Progressive lenses.” She’s amused by his vanity and says, just wait til you get gout. “Gout!” she shouts so the other agents can hear. She’s definitely messing with Mulder and it’s adorbs. He then peers at her – “did you cut your hair?” I completely love that he waited to comment on it, which is such a dude thing. Also he maybe didn’t notice because he wasn’t wearing his glasses? Hilarious. Scully stares at him for an excellently long pause and replies “Are you kidding me?” This might be my favorite exchange of the episode, even though they have two far more meaningful chats later.
We find out that the teen girl’s mother is weeping over another girl, presumably her sister, holding her photo and kissing it. The girl in the photo has a deformed face. We cut to a teen girl chopping up something bloody – a missing liver! – at a cutting board, but she isn’t deformed. She is in a very dark house and starts feeding other people laying around on mattresses in various states of undress the organ smoothie (ewww) and then we see a girl and a man in bed, where another woman is in bed watching an old TV show. The man and girl are attached at the back (it’s all bloody and they are sewn together) and the woman is the same woman on the TV show, only she hasn’t aged. She is also drinking a bloody smoothie. Bleh. I guess these are the organ stealers!
Ok, so these are the four weird subplots: 1) organ stealing 2) weirdo cult whose members are eating said organs 3) teen girl (Juliet) whose sister (Olivia) is in the cult but is no longer deformed so the cult is both healing deformities and about looking young and 4) Barbara Beaumont, former actress of the 1960s who still looks to be in her early 30s despite being 85.
Now Mulder and Scully are in a church. No idea why they are in a church now, because the crime was in a warehouse. Maybe Scully wanted to visit? We don’t actually see any connection to the church. It is disjointed and throws me off. Obviously, Juliet the avenger attends this church with her family, but Mulder and Scully do not interact with her in the church even though she walks past them on her way to talk to the priest. She quotes a rather violent Bible passage to him and leaves. We cut back to the cult and the unnaturally young lady, Barbara Beaumont, is screaming about wanting her heart and her lungs.
Mulder is sitting with Scully in the church pew while she prays. Which is very nice of him. She talks about how she came to believe in God, which is quite cute – she prayed for a puppy as a child and her prayers were answered. They both laugh and it is sweet. He asks if she’s praying for another miracle now (to find William, maybe?) but she isn’t sure about miracles, only the power of faith and how it gives people strength. She has her mother’s quarter necklace with her from last season, and she wishes that she had Mulder’s ability to “always bear north” and never waver even in the face of adversity. He says that all he has is the choices he’s made, hoping he makes the right ones.
He reads one of the Bible passages posted above the lectern and the words “I will repay” are present, but he doesn’t overhear Juliet talking to the priest or take note of her. When they leave, he also notices that the church has three wrought-iron spiked bars missing from its fence.
Which makes it weird when the agents knock on Juliet’s door, to ask about the missing sister. Why…why would they connect the organs missing to a teen’s disappearance from two months ago? The priest maybe? It was really unclear. If we had seen them talking to the priest or something it would have helped, and then Mulder makes a leap based on nothing that it’s Juliet. He says “my gut doesn’t need glasses”. Maybe not, but the viewers are confused and not because it’s just Mulder making leaps as usual.
Barbara the crazy cut leader not only sliced open the girl attached at the back to her male doctor friend, Dr. Luvenis, and tried to eat her, but is now mad and screaming that the girl’s body was devoid of nutrients. Dr. Luvenis says he’s going to go to the hospital and get the other organs back. This appeases Barbara a little and then one of the cult members offers himself to her. She says no but offers to perform a song for them in thanks of his offer. He stabs himself anyway and the other cult members use him to make Barbara her organ smoothie while she’s still singing. Lots of gore, obviously. We still have no idea how eating organs has a double effect of these people’s deformities being cured AND stopping the aging process. HOT. MESS. OF. A. PLOT.
Dr. Luvenis got the organs and comes back to give them to Barbara. She decides it is time to attach a new girl to him. Mulder and Scully arrive at the apartment building where the cult and Barbara are, saying they put a tracker in the heart and allowed Dr. L to steal the organs back. They show up with no other agents, no cops, and no backup. To a place with a suspected cult that is kidnapping young people. WTF. This makes no sense. They question the super, who has never actually seen anyone or Barbara in 7 years.
Upstairs, Barbara lets them in after a while and insists that they should recognize her. Scully is growing impatient, as in “will you please tell us your name” and she does, then going a bit crazy and screaming as the cult members pop out of the dark room to tackle Mulder and Scully to the ground. Scully falls down the dumbwaiter shaft – four stories. Juliet shows up (because she followed Mulder and Scully I guess???) and stakes Barbara. Juliet then finds the evidence of her sister being surgically attached to Dr. L in the apartment, which I deem important because someone after being freshly joined together, both the doctor and Olivia beat the able-bodied Mulder down to the basement. They didn’t use the dumbwaiter because hey, that door is both padlocked shut and blocked by debris. Dr. Luvenis monologues at Mulder for a minute about how he figured out how to halt the aging process before Juliet whacks him in the head. Her sister is convulsing, but whatever, because Mulder goes and pulls Scully out of the dumbwaiter shaft with no injuries. She fell on garbage and he says she stinks, which reminds me of “War of the Corprophages”.
Now Olivia is home and Juliet is presumably in jail, their mother crying over Juliet this time. Olivia looks relatively normal still, although we have no clue what cured her deformity. I feel like that entire sub-subplot should have been left out.
Scully is back in the church again, and Mulder comes up to her just as the candle she lights goes out. This conversation is important so I’m just going to write it out, ok?
Scully: That must be a sign, I’m all out of miracles. Turn back, give up. Accept your place in the numbing embrace of the status quo.
But Mulder isn’t having it. “I will relight your candle and extend your prayers through mine.”
Scully: What prayers?
Mulder: I can’t tell you, they won’t come true.
Scully: It’s a prayer candle, Mulder, not a birthday cake. (they laugh softly) Prayers aren’t meant to be sentiment. It’s a conversation. You can do it like a meditation or, if your needs exceed your grasp, you can ask God to act on your behalf. If you don’t believe in God, you’d essentially be talking to yourself.
Mulder: I may not believe in God, but I believe in you. Therefore, I speak to him through you. Through the transitive property of equality, if A = B = C, therefore A = C. Reason and faith and harmony. Isn’t that why we’re so good together?
Scully: Are we together? (Mulder doesn’t reply) You know, I believed I could protect our son, and I failed. I believed we could live together, and I fled. I gave up on that too.
Mulder: If only you fled earlier. You know how times I envisioned that scenario, where you left that basement office before I even needed glasses? You’d have your health, a dog, your sister. You’d be Kersh’s boss at the FBI and married to a brain surgeon and have a bunch of kids you wouldn’t have to give up.
Scully: Mulder, I don’t begrudge you any of those things. It’s not what I was talking about.
Mulder: Well, what are you talking about? Because I don’t know if any God is listening but I am standing right here. And I am listening. Right beside you, I’m all ears. That’s my choice.
Scully: (INAUDIBLE WHISPERING in Mulder’s ear goddammit.)
Scully: That’s not my four-year-old self looking for a miracle. That’s my leap of faith forward, and I’d like to do it together.
Mulder: I’ve always wondered how this was going to end. (He lights another candle; choir sings “Amen”, fade out.)
Well. That was interesting. And infuriating, mostly because we couldn’t hear what she said, and according to the writer, Karen Nielsen, we never will. She tweeted that it was supposed to be “just between Mulder and Scully” to which I call bullshit. My favorite guess via Twitter user @MadMakNY? Scully leans in and says to Mulder, “Chris Carter is holding our character development hostage.” That sounds about right. We’ve been given so little with these two talking about their relationship, they just have to keep shortchanging us. That’s a super nice thank-you to a fan base that has stuck by you for 25 years and pretty much bought you everything you have in life. Yep. (Sarcasm, in case you couldn’t tell.)
This episode was, as I mentioned above, very disjointed and rushed. I actually watched this one with a fellow diehard fan and we were both pretty confused during the episode because we went from the crime scene to church to Juliet to the cult and it was a poor example of “show, don’t tell” because the pictures were out of order and no dialogue was connecting them. The opposite problem of a Chris Carter episode! Last week’s episode at least made narrative sense even though it was ultimately uninspired with a weak ending, where Mulder and Scully did nothing and had no good dialogue. Here, we had quality moments between our agents but the case was just a jumble. I am always grateful when these two dysfunctional humans talk about their lives, their faith and belief in one another, and in things greater than they are, not to mention their relationship. It just didn’t fit in the larger episode plot-wise.
I am left wondering, yet again, why this veteran 25-year series, back from the presumed dead to the great joy of an extremely enthusiastic fan base, was handed over to two writers (last week’s Benjamin Van Allen and this week’s Karen Nielsen) who have never written for television before. If you only have 10 episodes, give them to the best of the best, or at least to someone with an extremely excellent idea. It is not like the XF team is stuck for connections – David Nutter went on to win an Emmy for writing Game of Thrones, Vince Gilligan and Michelle MacLaren for Breaking Bad, Frank Spotnitz remains excellent with The Man in the High Tower, etc. etc. They could have had any award-winning TV writers they wanted. But no. We instead get newbie writing from newbies, at least one of whom could not even be bothered to learn about the show’s past integral characters’ and their names (still mad about Emily, Melvin, and Diana from last week). “Nothing Lasts Forever” will rank on the low end of this season’s outings due to the myriad of issues listed above. I’d rank it above last week because again, Mulder and Scully had great dialogue.
Next week is it – the finale, possibly the last X-Files we will ever see. I have many feelings about all this, but I am so concerned that Chris Carter (who of course wrote and directed the finale, which is of course called “My Struggle 4” ughhh) is going to commit character assassination or worse that I can’t focus all my thoughts right now. We’ll see what happens! I’ll be stress eating and nail biting until we do.