Mulder Becomes an X-File
"The Sixth Extinction" Plot Summary:
On the beach of the Ivory Coast, Scully narrates to Mulder the letter he cannot read because he is still in a hospital in Georgetown. "I came in search of something I did not believe existed," she begins, telling him that she will continue there for as long as Mulder is beset by the illness that has ravaged his "beautiful mind." She believes Mulder was meant to find the ship beneath the ocean nearby and interpret the rubbings she has made. A large insect on the paper distracts Scully. As she ponders that the source of every illness holds its cure, she spots someone outside. "Who's there?" calls the scientist, grabbing a machete. But the man is already gone. When Scully returns to the tent, hundreds of swarming flying insects attack her.
Mulder is on the floor of a padded room, quiet for the moment. His doctor reports that the FBI agent can't sleep and that his brain won't shut down. Mulder is slowly dying. When Skinner visits, Mulder appears at first not to recognize his boss, but then he attacks him. Several orderlies wrestle Mulder down and sedate him. When a shaken and bleeding Skinner leaves the room, he discovers that Mulder has slipped him a note written in blood on gauze. "Help me," it says.
As men with shovels approach the buried ship, Scully packs her belongings. Amina, a colleague of the murdered Dr. MacMullen, has come to see the discovery. The young professor of biology warns Scully that local animists will interpret the swarming insects that attacked her as a bad omen - a warning to leave the ship alone. Outside, a man in the water screams for help; his face is covered with burns. "You see? Another warning," says Amina.
That night the lights of a truck awaken Scully. When she exits with the machete, she finds MacMullen's murderer, Dr. Barnes. Scully threatens him, but he says he knows what the ship is. When she tells him he doesn't even believe in it, he responds, "Neither do you." Denying that he is a murderer, Dr. Barnes says he has spent his life looking for the answers that the ship may provide. Scully says she only wants to help her partner. Commotion distracts them all as they run to the shore. A red tide covers the ship and the sand. Amina observes, "It is a sea of blood" - another omen.
Mulder is now restrained in a hospital bed. Skinner enters with his note: "I want to help you...I don't know what to do." When Mulder starts tapping his fingers in what looks like Morse code, Skinner asks whether he can write and offers a pen. Mulder begins to write letters on Skinner's palm. Early the next morning, Skinner visits an apartment in downtown Washington. The word on his hand is "Kritschgau." The disgruntled man doesn't want to talk to or about Mulder, however. His association with Mulder ruined his career. "He asked for you," insists Skinner, admitting that Mulder is in critical condition.
At the hospital, Kritschgau can tell from Mulder's biofeedback that the sick man is anticipating the questions exchanged by himself and Skinner. When Skinner relates that Mulder had said he was hearing voices, Kritschgau says he thinks he knows why Mulder asked for him, though he adds that he's not sure he can help. "I think he responded to a question I didn't ask." With Skinner's help and on the Assistant Director's responsibility, Kritschgau takes Mulder to a lab and gives him an injection of phenytoin. Though he isn't a doctor, Kritschgau has seen Mulder's condition before. It is called remote viewing, a form of ESP, and phenytoin is the only drug that can slow the brains of people with such abilities. As Skinner realizes that this is why Mulder asked for Kritschgau, Mulder regains lucidity. "They're coming," he warns.
Outside, Fowley and a nurse stalk down the corridor with Fowley demanding to know why the patient is not in his room. By the time they arrive, however, Mulder is back in bed. Skinner orders Fowley to assist the nurse. When she leaves reluctantly, Mulder says, "She knows." They have to act fast. "Get me Scully," he asks, but Skinner has to admit that he's not sure where Scully is. Mulder tells Skinner that he knows Krycek is threatening the older man's life, but he desperately needs Kritschgau to prove that the cause of his condition is alien, not a brain abnormality, but Kritschgau doesn't believe in aliens.
Scully studies the symbols from the ship, some of which have been identified by Dr. Barnes as Navajo. She also finds the names of the acids that make up DNA on the top of the craft - a human blueprint, 24 panels, one for each human chromosome. While she knows that there are ancient religious writings on the bottom of the craft, she hasn't seen them all yet because the mysterious plagues have frightened many workers. The combined science and mysticism fascinates her, but she fears that her discoveries will come too late. Amina discovers that the ship contains passages from the Koran about the final judgement. What Scully calls a work of art, Amina calls the word of God.
Barnes, however, says that there is no god. "Today I understand...the word is extraterrestrial," he admits. "It is power...your friend just got too close." Pulling the machete, he says that the ship is his discovery and that he should get the credit. He then imprisons the two women in the tent. "No one gets out before me," he says, guarding the door. At night, as Barnes begins to doze, a noise under the table wakes him. The dead fish in the bags there have come back to life and are flopping around. While he stares, Scully hits him over the head with a chair, and she flees with Amina driving Barnes' jeep.
Scully tells Amina to drive to the police, but they swerve and stop when they see a man in the road. It's the same man Scully saw outside her tent at the start of the episode. Suddenly, he appears in the driver's seat next to her. "Some truths are not for you," he intones, touching her head. Then it's Amina in the seat beside her again, asking whether she is all right. When Scully reveals her vision, Amina says it may be time to give up, since this is a bad sign. "Turn around," Scully instructs her. Amina fears she wants to return to the beach, but Scully has decided instead to go home.
After testing Mulder's remote viewing capability, Kritschgau says that his score is quite low. Mulder insists that the other man doesn't want to believe; therefore, he's not looking hard enough. "Try it again, faster," orders Skinner. This time it is obvious that Mulder's low score was because he was predicting the future rather than seeing objects in the present. He was ahead of the images, anticipating them. Skinner accuses Kritschgau of wanting to use Mulder for his own research purposes. "He's the X-File!" insists the other man, but Skinner thinks it has gone too far. "How far would Mulder go?" retorts the scientist.
The two give Mulder another injection of phenytoin, but Fowley and the doctor burst in. They demand to know what was done to Mulder who is now having a seizure. "Let me tell you why," pleads Skinner, but they don't listen as they rush to treat the patient. Alone with Mulder, Fowley says that she knows what is happening to him and she knows he can see her divided loyalties, to himself and to a man he despises. "Fox, I love you. I've loved you for so long. I won't let you die to prove what you are, to prove what's inside you. Now we can be together." She kisses his forehead. Mulder watches her go.
Scully arrives in Washington and goes straight to Skinner, demanding to know where Mulder is. Skinner admits that she won't be able to get to the heavily guarded patient because of his own actions. Skinner fears the worst, but Scully fiercely insists, "He's not dying. He's more alive than his body can stand and what's causing it may be extraterrestrial in origin." Skinner already believes. Trusting that she can get onto the ward as his doctor if not as his partner, Scully heads to the hospital. "Mulder, it's me." Scully begs her partner to hold on, telling him she has found a key to every question he has ever asked, but she doesn't know what it means yet.
Dr. Barnes' driver approaches the tent, but the crazed scientist kills him with a machete. Later that night, the dead man apparently rises and walks out of the tent, leaving footprints across the sand to the ship in the water. Barnes follows the tracks, but is hit by the machete between the eyes. The next morning when his body is found, there is no sign of the ship.
And then the credits roll, and the entire episode is upstaged by the last line of the coming attraction. Cancer Man speaks: "Take my hand, Fox. I am your father."
I just can't get over that coming attraction. Darth Vader tells Luke the dreaded truth! Say what you will about Harsh Realm, say what you will about Millennium, say what you will about the circles within circles of alien conspiracy, but don't ever say that Chris Carter doesn't have a sense of humor. The only thing I'd like better is to find out that Diana Fowley is Samantha, but I don't think we're going to get so lucky.
I did enjoy "The Sixth Extinction," but my heart didn't pound with excitement, and I don't think we learned anything new or startling until that fabulous preview. I really want to withhold judgement on this episode until I've seen the next installment. I will say that it had me deeply engrossed, and the only time I groaned aloud was when we learned that the artifact contains The Bible and the Koran and Navajo religion and the blueprint for DNA and the definitive lyrics to "Louie, Louie"...as you can see, it got a little excessive for me. It was not at all surprising when the man rose from the dead - we could all see that coming from the moment he died - and the recreation of some of the more famous Passover plagues became almost comical. Carter may be funny, but subtle he ain't.
Okay, and in that vein, I did make loud gagging noises when Fowley started in with her confession of eternal love for foxy Fox. I don't want to believe her, but she seemed to think Fox was going to believe her, which suggests that she was telling the truth so viewers are supposed to believe her. Ick, I say, and not merely because Fowley is a nasty evil manipulative creep; I often like those qualities in a woman. I am just going to be massively disappointed if it turns out that her purpose for being all these years was to love Mulder's beautiful body, the way bad episodes of this series have made it appear that Scully's purpose for being all these years was to love Mulder's beautiful mind. That line was a howler, too, but not in a good way. Scully thinking at the start that she needs to figure out how Mulder would think is fine. Scully trying to believe what Mulder would believe, just because he would believe it, is annoying, and I hope it doesn't happen even if once again she ends up looking like the obstinate cynic.
The cycle at the start of most seasons with one agent in jeopardy and the other on a rescue mission has gotten rather trying. It's almost enough to make me an anti-'shipper again, and I'd finally gotten over that. But now I have sat through the intolerable first several episodes of Harsh Realm, with its hero worshipped as The One and slobbered over by vacuous women. I just cannot stomach the same on X-Files. Cool, Fox is the big guy's son. But does that mean he has to be turned into a messianic figure like Thomas Hobbes or The Matrix's Neo or First Wave's Cade Foster or the rest of the crop of millennial saviors? Kritschgau and Fowley both babbled about how extraordinary his mind is and what's inside him. I hope they mean his will to find the truth, not his new super-powers. After six seasons of The X-Files, Chris Carter has to be better than that, doesn't he?
I'm waiting. I'm not cringing about the symbolism of the dead fishes coming to life because I really love pseudo-scientific explanations of Biblical events, even though alien progenitor theories make me scoff just as much as literal readings of Genesis. I'm also choosing to believe that I will not be forced to sit through a Mulder-Fowley lovemaking scene, at least not unless she's going to whisper, "I'm really your sister" right in the middle. I'm assuming that we're going to be told why skeptical Kritschgau - who was working not for the government which he blamed for the death of his son, but for conspiracy-connected chemical company Roush, back around "Redux II" - has all this knowledge about the sorts of tests Fowley ran on Gibson Praise, and why he was ruined for what he knew. I don't care if there are ten million loose ends. I just want the characters and storylines I care about done right.
I make no avowals that I have correctly spelled the name of the Ivory Coast Ph.D., the name of the medicine given to Mulder, or any other proper nouns in this episode. If anyone knows an advance source for such information, please let me know.
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