"Two Fathers"
by Michelle Erica Green

Cancer Man Tells All

"Two Fathers" Plot Summary:

After a video montage recap of alien conspiracy arc material, we find ourselves at the train yards in Arlington, VA. Doctors in environmental suits pour green acidic alien material onto a patient's belly. After they finish, one of the scientists congratulates Dr. Aukinshaw, saying that after twenty-five years, the patient must seem like an old friend. The group heads out to celebrate, but are attacked by faceless aliens who set them on fire. The patient, however, is left untouched. It's Cassandra Spender.

Cigarette-Smoking Man narrates: "This is the end." He likens the end of his work to the end of one's own life or the death of one's children, stating that the conspiracy's plan to create alien-human hybrids for the aliens who were coming to reclaim the planet was a perfect secret for 50 years, since the crash at Roswell. It would have worked, even with the rebel aliens betraying them, had CSM's own son not betrayed him.

Agent Spender is at the FBI telling Skinner he's working on a report, but Skinner says Spender has never had any real interest in the X-Files...except for one case. That's what he's there about. He takes Spender to the train car where Cassandra was found, telling him that everyone was burned alive at the scene but her. Cassandra smiles at her son but asks to see Agent Mulder. When Spender insists that that should not be permitted, Skinner points out that if Spender wants to find out the truth, he should be using every resource available.

CSM points out that Spender refused to believe that his mother had been abducted even when put in charge of the X-Files and exposed to all of Mulder's evidence. He adds bitterly that when he finally learned the truth, Spender turned to the man his father had ruined: Mulder. That man's partner has just found him at a local gym, shooting baskets instead of working on the "background-checking jack-off shoe-shine tip" they're supposed to be following. She says Mulder is being sought for help on an X-File.

At the FBI, Spender tells Mulder that his mother has been asking for the older man since she was found at the scene where all the doctors were burned. Mulder retorts that the truth is out there: maybe Spender should find it for himself. CSM visits the one surviving doctor, Aukinshaw, who warns him that he cannot divert attention from Cassandra Spender because she is a success - they were going to terminate her, but the rebel aliens interrupted and saved her in order to expose what the syndicate done to her.

Aukinshaw begs CSM to kill Cassandra before other doctors find out what she is; then he reminds CSM that he will himself be questioned. CSM says he knows, apologizes, and turns off the life support machines as Aukinshaw says a man should not live long enough to see his work or his children destroyed. Aftewards, CSM calls a conspirator in Silver Spring, MD, summoning a meeting of the syndicate to decide the future. Dr. Aukinshaw then knocks at the conspirator's door, but the conspirator - who has just learned of Aukinshaw's death from CSM - pulls off the man's face. The man is burned alive.

After Spender leaves the FBI, Mulder remains at his desk looking at photos of burned bodies. He tells Scully that he thinks Spender's invitation is a setup, but Scully sees the photos of the recent burn victims and says they remind her of the vision she recounted under hypnosis of her night on the bridge with Cassandra. She wonders whether Cassandra could expose whoever put in her own implant without letting her son know. They go to the hospital, where Cassandra rises to greet Scully - she can walk, she no longer needs a wheelchair. The older woman says that she will not tell anyone what happened to her because she knows no one will believe her but Mulder. She tells the agent that she knows he doubted her last time because he doubted that he would ever see his sister again, but she's out there, working with the aliens.

Cassandra also says that her own doctors were working with the aliens, but now she knows that her years of proselytizing that the aliens only wanted to do good were mistaken: "The aliens are not here to do good, they're here to wipe us off the planet." She explains that they eradicate other life forms with the black oil virus; the rebel aliens must mutilate their bodies so they cannot be infected. She feels she cannot tell her son that his life is in danger; he won't believe her even though he is in league with the men working with the bad aliens. One of the men is her ex-husband, Agent Spender's father.

CSM explains that Cassandra was beginning to realize her crucial role in their great science project. He had killed in order to protect her from discovery countless times, but now he knows it's Cassandra he should have killed. Yet he could not kill the mother of his son, though he never loved her. Instead he called a meeting.

The syndicate is focused on the threat from the rebel aliens, who had already infiltrated their cabal. One conspirator suggests siding with the rebels, but Krycek argues that resistance was futile 50 years earlier and nothing has changed - they have a vaccine and an alien-human hybrid, they can fight the future. CSM interrupts him to say that for 50 years they have worked on their project, and can't sacrifice themselves now for a new threat.

Mulder sneaks into Spender's office, looks in his files, and sees a picture of CSM identifying him as C.G.B. Spender. Skinner comes in warning Mulder and Scully to get out before Spender arrives, but he's too late; Spender sees the group leaving his office and tells Skinner he assumes the A.D. came down to apprehend the agents for breaking into his office. Spender goes to CSM, telling him that Mulder and Scully will be prosecuted out of the Bureau, then asking for a favor in return - the truth. CSM says he can't accept the truth and slaps Spender when he talks back, claiming that he gave his son a job he never would have gotten on his own merits and adding out that he pales in comparison to Fox Mulder.

Mulder asks Scully if she wants to go one-on-one now that they're out of work (basketball, don't get excited, 'shippers), but Scully says she has done research on C.G.B. Spender (one alias of many) and found a picture of CSM with Mulder's father from the early 1970s. She also learned that Cassandra was first abducted on November 27, 1973 - the same day as Mulder's sister. Moreover, Dr. Eugene Aukinshaw knew both Mulder's father and CSM back then...and died the night after the fires at the rail yards. Mulder realizes that the project from the 1970s is still going on and Scully has provided hard facts - names and dates. Later, Skinner arrives at Mulder's apartment, where Scully is waiting with the documents linking CSM and Spender with the conspiracy and with one another. Mulder warns his former boss that Cassandra is in danger because she could expose the conspiracy between the aliens and the men who want to create hybrids for them. Skinner is skeptical but realizes that Scully believes what Mulder believes.

CSM reflects that he couldn't stop Mulder from learning of his father's sins and CSM's own, but he had one last chance to preserve his legacy. Going to Spender, CSM says he was unduly harsh and wanted to be proven wrong in his assessment of his son. He gives Spender one of the retracting stilettos to be plunged into the necks of shapeshifting aliens, telling him he must use it to kill an infiltrator in his syndicate. Krycek drives Spender to the home of the conspirator in Silver Spring, but at the critical moment, Spender cannot bring himself to kill the man; Krycek does it instead. Seeing Spender's shock, Krycek says that seeing the aliens can undermine one's belief in his own life, but it also confers responsibility - like why the death of Spender's mother is necessary. Confused, Spender asks whether his father is involved with the abductions, and learns that his father runs the experiments. Krycek says they work for a great man, but Spender says, "I'll be my own great man," and leaves.

CSM reflects that he has trusted no one, but his own son's disloyalty has led Mulder and Scully right to him. His ex-wife now knows her place in the grand plan, and that she's as much alien as human. He says he needs someone to trust, someone who has never betrayed him. "I'll help you," says Diana Fowley. "It's not too late."

Skinner rushes to Cassandra's hospital room, but she's gone; Spender arrives just afterwards, demanding to know where his mother is, then saying, "HE took her." But Cassandra bangs on Mulder's door, gasping, "Don't let them find me!" Mulder and Scully try to question her, but she's frantic. Then someone pounds on the door. Cassandra begs Mulder to kill her. "If you don't kill me, it all starts! There won't be any stopping it! You have to shoot me, please!" Though Scully argues that they should be helping her, Mulder aims a gun at Cassandra's head.


Mostly I want to reserve judgement until I see Part Two, though I will say that this was a highly engrossing episode which I rewound to rewatch parts I missed while taking notes the first time (the above constitutes several index cards' worth, not counting a quick check of old reviews and a futile hunt on the official X-Files web site for a list of guest stars). I cheered aloud when it was revealed that CSM's one remaining ally is Fowley; she just HAD to be a bad guy, it was inevitable from the moment we found out Mulder used to be in love with her and she used to work on the X-Files.

Yet as well-constructed as this episode was - it touched on more parts of the various arcs than I expected, coherently, without sounding stupid - I am still not over my disappointment that the movie and the subsequent episodes have decided to give us Conclusive Answers to the many mysteries raised. I rather liked X-Files when, as with the Kennedy Assassination, you could pick and choose your conspiracies; you could decide whether you thought aliens were really involved, or just the Mafia and the Cubans and Marilyn Monroe and Richard Nixon. I guess they hit a point where some questions had to be answered because the storylines were getting too diffuse and therefore too silly, but interesting as it is to see the trapped flies, it's not quite as much fun as it was to see the web being spun.

I did want to slap Cancer Man for his obsession with Mulder while ignoring Scully. At one point he said he could not stop Mulder from finding out his father's sins and his own, but it was Scully who did the hard research while Mulder was at the gym trying to forget about the whole thing! When does she get counted as an equal member of this team? If that will be one result of the closure of the conspiracy arc, I will be pleased.

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