"The End"
by Michelle Erica Green


Game, Set and Match

"The End" Plot Summary:

Child prodigy Gibson Perez plays chess against a Russian grand master in a huge arena. High in the stands, an assassin loads a gun. Gibson hears buzzing voices and looks up in the gunman's direction. He stands to move his king for checkmate, then jolts back from the table just as the gun fires. The Russian is hit, and falls.

Skydivers descend near CSM's cabin in Quebec and trip his proximity alarms. He shoots one man, but the other traps him and pulls off his ski mask: it's Krycek, who says he was sent to take CSM back. Later, CSM is greeted by conspirators who say they feared the worst, but CSM laughs that they overestimated the man they sent to do the job. He looks meaningfully at Krycek while the conspirators announce that the boy is a problem, and CSM tells them they can count on him to take care of it.

Meanwhile, Skinner is poking around Mulder's office, and asks the agent his long-term goals. He reveals that the case of the shooting at the chess match was assigned to Spender by someone outside the agency, and that Spender specifically asked that Mulder be left off his team. Skinner escorts Mulder to the briefing, where Mulder insists that Spender rewind the videotape of the shooting and claims that the boy, not the Russian, was the real target. Agent Diana Fowley agrees, noting that the boy looked around as if he could sense the shooter before the gun went off.

As they travel to meet the boy, Scully learns that Fowley has been at the agency long enough to have met Mulder before. When they arrive, the boy is watching television and announces that he doesn't want to go back to the Philippines - nor does he want to play chess against Mulder's computer. Mulder asks the boy if it's because he can't, since the boy can't read a computer's mind the way he can read an opponent's. The boy tries to divert him, telling Mulder that he's thinking about one of the girls and one of the girls is thinking about him, but he doesn't say who to avoid embarrassing Mulder. In another room, Mulder tells Scully that Gibson isn't a chess champion, he's a mind reader, but she's skeptical: who would want to kill someone they could exploit instead? Fowley hypothesizes that it must be someone who needs to keep secrets. Mulder asks Fowley to run some tests and Scully asks the other woman whether she's met her partner before, but Fowley merely says, "A long time ago."

Mulder meets Spender in the jail where the assassin is being held. When Spender resists giving Mulder access, Mulder tells the younger agent that the child is the key to the case and the shooter can tell them why. He plays good cop, insisting that the prisoner be fed and suggeting that he can get the shooter federal protection. Later, the assassin is given a note on the back of a pack of cigarettes: "You're a dead man."

At this time, Scully is with Gibson in a psychiatric hospital. He tells her that she's wondering about Fowley...who's wondering about Scully, too. The women watch as Gibson correctly identifies what a group of subjects are looking at on flashcards and what they had for breakfast. Fowley tells Scully that she and Mulder once did similar tests in a hospital like this one, but she's never seen anything like Gibson. Scully tells Fowley she has to disappear for awhile, and goes to the Lone Gunmen, asking about Gibson's brain scans...and about Fowley, whom they identify as Mulder's ex-girlfriend and partner at the Bureau who was there when he discovered the X-Files. The Lone Gunmen don't know why they split up.

Fox and Diana, who call each other by their first names, discuss the fact that she gave up parapsychology to track down terrorists. She says she can tell he needed someone more like him, not a partner as closed-minded as Scully, but Mulder insists that Scully merely made him do all his homework and tells Fowley that he's done all right without her. Scully arrives with data for Mulder, but when she sees him talking to Fowley, she gets back into her car and calls him, asking him to meet her at the office so she can show him some surprising information about the boy. Someone in another car watches her leave. CSM follows Spender and stops him in the parking lot, telling him he gave him the case, and that Spender should pursue self-interest. Mulder arrives and spots CSM, then demands to know why Spender was talking to a man who was supposed to be dead. When CSM resurfaces, the conspirators tell him he has failed them, but CSM says that it's all a game to him and he's just getting started.

In Skinner's office, Scully explains to the assistant director, Fowley, and Spender what she has already told Mulder: the tests she ran on Gibson indicate that he has highly developed temporal lobes - what's called "the god module." Mulder explains that, like Einstein and Hawking, the boy has enormous potential...he could be the key to all unexplained human paranormal and spiritual potential, he could solve all the X-Files. Fowley says that if Mulder tells that to the attorney general as a reason to get the assassin freed to testify, he'll be shut down, an assessment Skinner privately agrees with after the meeting. Mulder's willing to take that risk, and has Skinner call the attorney general to ask for immunity for the shooter.

When Mulder tells the prisoner, however, the man is afraid. Mulder asks what's so special about the boy, and the shooter replies, "The kid is the missing link." Mulder asks, "He's genetic proof, isn't he?" When Spender demands to know what they're talking about, Mulder explains that there have been theories about dormant human genes left by ancient alien astronauts. Spender scoffs at this, saying that Mulder led the suspect and is being misled himself.

Scully asks the boy how he hears people's thoughts; Gibson explains that it's like listening to radios, but sometimes he wants to turn them all off and just watch TV. He likes chess because it's all thinking, no talking, which is much less confusing than real life, where people say one thing while thinking another, lying to one another even when they both want the same thing. He says people make up what they believe. He's impressed that Scully doesn't care what people think...except for Fowley, who arrives just then to relieve Scully's watch. Gibson tells Scully that "they" are trying to kill him, but she promises him that nothing will happen to him. He says he believes her. She leaves, but Fowley dozes on the job. When she awakens, Gibson is at the window, where he says there's a man with a gun. Gibson warns her that the man wants to kill her, not him, but she stands right in front of the glass to see and is shot in the chest.

Meanwhile, in prison, the assassin gets another note on a cigarette box, but it's blank. As he looks at it, he's shot in the head through the peephole. Mulder and Scully arrive at the safe house where the boy is being kept, where Skinner tells them that Fowley is barely alive and the boy is missing...as is Agent Spender. The boy is with CSM, who delivers him to Well-Manicured Man and Krycek, sneering that they don't have the stomach to do his work. Well-Manicured Man tells the boy he has nothing to be afraid of, but the boy says he's a liar, just like CSM. As they prepare to drive off, Krycek wants to run over CSM, but the conspirators want to keep him alive to use later. At the bureau, Mulder assaults Spender, slapping him in the face with the empty cigarette carton found near the dead assassin; he accuses Spender of working for CSM, telling him his days are numbered. Spender retorts that it's Mulder's days which are numbered.

Skinner telephones Scully, saying the attorney general is furious and thinking about shutting down the X-Files; it's not helping matters that Spender is telling everyone Mulder was talking about alien astronauts. Scully warns Mulder that the Justice Department may reassign both of them. Mulder says that the entire incident was strategized, but Scully points out that this time, "they" may have won. CSM, smoking as usual, enters Mulder's office and pulls his file on Samantha. On his way out, he bumps into Spender and says that he can help the young agent. Spender demands to know who he is. "I'm your father." Alarms go off all over the building. The office of the X-Files is in flames. When Mulder and Scully arrive, the police are telling Skinner that it looks like arson. Mulder and Scully enter the office and see ashes of their work. Scully hugs Mulder, but he merely stares in shock.

Cut to preview of film, opening June 19th and involving avalanches, explosions, black oil, and Mulder and Scully embracing.

Analysis:

I did my best to record every single thing that happened in this episode, because who knows what will be important in "The End"? This was a terrific ride, but a little gimmicky, too. How interesting to learn that Mulder had a past partner in life and work, but how annoying to have her and Scully turn instantly into suspicious rivals, and to hear her attack Scully as unsupportive on the basis of one overheard conversation. The kid's annoying little suggestions about the women's preoccupation with one another and with Mulder just emphasized how contrived the situation was. I bet relationshippers cheered when Fowley failed the First Rule of Not Being Seen: Don't Stand Up ( Monty Python) and got shot, but Scully had already had a spectacular moment of sleeping on the job herself, comforting the kid when he said "they" were trying to kill him instead of asking him what he knew about who "they" were.

We got confirmation that Cancer Man is alive, well, and Jeffrey Spender's father, which likely means that he's not Mulder's father after all...or maybe Mulder and Spender were switched at birth. How interesting that he took Samantha's file before torching Mulder's office, though, if in fact it was he who dropped the cigarette (he didn't shoot the assassin, despite the cigarette box clues left for Mulder). Is it possible that not even CSM knows where the real, original, un-cloned Samantha is, and he's hoping Mulder does? Or is he planning to hold that file over Mulder's head? I am curious to know why CSM has apparently turned on Mulder as a potential ally, considering how hard he tried to recruit him the last time he saw him. Did he only recently learn that he had another son in the Bureau, or is the whole thing a plant? We may not know until well after the movie and into next season.

As for the kid, it was an interesting device having a mind reader, but - call me as dense as Jeffrey Spender - I fail to see how his existence provides an end to all spiritual questions, all paranormal curiosity, and all the X-Files. He might answer the question about whether aliens visited Earth centuries ago and tampered with our DNA, but does that really solve the problem of Scully's experiences with Catholic religious icons, or, on a more mundane level, of vampires in nice Midwestern towns? It doesn't explain why aliens are now blowing people up and why the government is engineering bees to carry smallpox, even if it might provide clues about the centuries-old black oil cancer.

There are a hundred other questions raised by this episode, but the biggest one for me is why the very people who apparently put Mulder and the X-Files in place to be contained would destroy all his work at this point (I have a sneaking suspicion the Lone Gunmen have copies of everything, anyway). It's visually dramatic, but dramatically over-the-top, so it makes the whole episode seem theatrical rather than eerily realistic like the best X-Files episodes are. I was hoping the chess metaphor was going to be used more directly in this episode. But this wasn't an endgame. It was a classic cliffhanger, except in this case you've got to pay eight bucks before you can hit bottom.


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