The Truth [9x19, 9x20] (Series Finale)

Overall Rating: 8/10
Fright Factor: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Mytharc Relevance: 10/10
Re-watchability: Medium-High
Connections: N/A

Summary: The final episode of the series, which first aired as a two-hour special on May 19, 2002. Mulder returns from exile on a Federal press bus, in the guise of a reporter visiting Weather Mountain - the seat of the so-called "Shadow Government." Once inside the compound he takes a turn into the underground maze of hallways, entering through a series of secured doors with a passcard. Inside one of these rooms, he fires up a large translucent computer monitor with the code "endgame" and punches up the secret date of the alien invasion - December 22, 2012.

Mulder hears footsteps and narrowly escapes capture by "supersoldier" Knowle Rohrer. Alarms are tripped, a chase ensues, and Rohrer ends up being catapulted over a catwalk balcony onto a high-voltage grid. Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle. Rohrer appears to be dead, but is he?

The MP's take Mulder into custody, and Kersh is asked by a higher-up in the Armed Forces to subject Mulder to a secret military tribunal under the guise of an internal FBI hearing on a murder charge. The verdict is a forgone conclusion: Mulder must be found guilty, and the sentence will be death.

Inside a secret brig, Mulder is physically and psychologically tortured by "military men," whose allegiance we are not certain of. Several times a day a uniformed interrogator screams at Mulder, "what are you thinking?!?" Of course, Mulder never has the "right" answer, and is punished in increasingly severe ways. He is forced to lay naked in complete darkness on the cell's concrete floor, and is not allowed to sleep.

Skinner and Scully discover that Mulder has surfaced - and has been captured by the military - and try to obtain his release. They learn of the "kangaroo court" arrangment from Kersh, and visit Mulder in the brig accompanied by armed guards. Mulder appears brainwashed and incoherent, and he convinces Skinner and Scully he truly believes "he is wrong, and deserves the harshest possible punishment for his crimes." They are shocked by his mental state.

During their second meeting in the privacy of his cell, Mulder reveals he's only been feigning compliance and asks Skinner to be his lawyer. Skinner refuses, but Mulder convinces him that he is the only one who can help him; Skinner is the only one who knows the truth and can prove the existence of the Conspiracy.

I should note that during the show at various key junctures several dead characters appear to Mulder...Alex Krycek, "Mr. X", the Lone Gunmen...they offer lifesaving assistance, and in the case of Mr. X., reveal the whereabouts of a key witness, Marita Covarrubias.

The majority of the finale takes place inside an austere military courtroom with a panel of prosecutors ostensibly from the "FBI." They are led by a suspicious man who is actually a "supersoldier" himself, as the spiny outgrowth at the nape of his neck reveals. As Skinner makes his case, many key players from the series are called in to give their versions of the Conspiracy. Some come willingly (Gibson Praise), others must be tracked down (Marita Covarrubias, Jeffrey Spender). During each of the "witnesses'" testimony, footage from past episodes is used heavily to recall the full plot of the series - and some secrets heretofore unrevealed.

Meanwhile, Monica Reyes, John Doggett and Scully are trying to find the body of Knowle Rohrer. As a "supersoldier," he cannot be killed; and after all, without a body, how can there be a murder charge against Mulder? Various agencies stonewall the agents until a crack in the armor appears, and Doggett has the body of "Knowle Rohrer" sent up to Washington for an autopsy. The examination reveals that the corpse is indeed not Rohrer's.

However, the witnesses' and Skinner's efforts are in vain, as the court is called to adjournment when Mulder finally testifies in his own behalf. When the court reconvenes Mulder's death sentence is pronounced.

The night that the sentence is to be carried out, Skinner, Doggett, Reyes and Kersh stage a daring escape from the brig, and Mulder and Scully are sent out to flee toward the Canadian border. But that isn't where they're going...Mulder and Scully instead head for the Southwest, "to see a wise man about the truth." Doggett and Reyes discover the pair's true destination with the help of a little mindreading from Gibson Praise, and head southward in pursuit.

Unbeknownst to the four agents, Knowle Rohrer is alive and well and speeding down to the Southwest himself. What he doesn't realize is that the georgraphic area Mulder is headed towards is rich in magnetite - the one substance in the world that can pull a "supersoldier" into a rock wall, smashing his body into a cloud of red dust.

At an ancient Anasazi pueblo, they find the Cigarette-Smoking Man, alive - but wheelchair-bound, still smoking (through a tracheotomy ventilator, natch) and defiant to the end. The "black helicopters" arrive, Mulder and Scully make a narrow escape, and a pair of Sidewinder missles finally bring the Cigarette Man's story to a flaming end.

The show closes with a scene identical to the one the started the entire series in the pilot...Mulder and Scully in a hotel room in the desert...in the rain.

Report: As far as finales go, The Truth is more than serviceable...the loose ends of the series are tied up neatly, and the "tribunal" was a clever device for consolidating so many disparate plot elements. If you'd like to introduce a friend to the series, or someone who had only watched a few episodes here and there, have them see the finale. It won't spoil the show, and may actually clear up some frustrating loopholes that vexed dedicated viewers until the end.

That being said, the finale's midsection (the tribunal itself) has a slightly hasty thrown-together feel, that in retrospect seems a tad rushed and low budget. Monica Reyes has a great - albeit short - monologue in the courtroom that basically redeems her limp characterization for the rest of her two years' tenure.

The Truth ultimately feels like a closed door - but not a locked one, if you catch my drift. I can't wait for the 10-year X-Files reunion (smile).


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