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).


Miracle Man [1x17]

Overall Rating: 6/10
Fright Factor: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Mytharc Relevance: 4/10
Re-watchability: Medium
Connections: N/A

Summary: The show opens with an apartment fire, several years ago. Fire crews are on the scene; one firefighter zips up a body bag containing a victim of the blaze. Among the onlookers are Reverend Calvin Hartley (George Gerdes) and his 8-year old son Samuel (Alex Doduk). They approach the body bag and unzip it, revealing a badly-burned lifeless corpse. Samuel begins to utter prayers commanding the dead man to arise, when the fire marshal tells them to leave. Moments later, the body's arm moves, and the dead man's hand grasps Samuel's.

Cut to present day - Scully shows Mulder a tape of Reverend Calvin Hartley's Miracle Ministries show, where Hartley's Samuel, now 18 (Scott Bairstow), demonstrates his "divine gift" of healing. Unfortunately, in this episode of the show, the woman Samuel "heals" dies shortly thereafter of unknown causes. Soon after, Samuel is charged with her murder. Among the Miracle Ministries crew is a mysterious man in black who wears a long coat, gloves, hat and dark shades that cover his disfigured face and body - his name is Leonard Vance (Dennis Lipscomb), the burned man Samuel brought back from the dead.

Sheriff Daniels (R.D. Call) has had a grudge against Miracle Ministries for years, and he welcomes the recent death as an excuse to rein in the Reverend and his entourage. We learn the sheriff's wife suffers from a disabling, incurable illness that leaves her wheelchair-bound, but Daniels forbids his wife to seek Samuel's aid. When Samuel appears in court on the murder charge, the judge releases him on bail, citing no clear evidence he was responsible in the ministry audience woman's death. At that moment a flock of locusts descends on the courtroom, which Samuel interprets as a "sign" he must be incarcerated and punished. Samuel is released, and Calvin Hartley pressures him to perform more "healings" at the tent. Again, a woman, this time an MS sufferer, dies following the healing session.

While the Miracle Ministry dogma cites scripture as forbidding autopsy, the family of the most recent victim reluctantly consents to Scully's postmortem. The results show the woman dies of cyanide poisoning. From there a chain of evidence leads to Leonard Vance, the burned man, as the culprit behind the cyanide poisonings and the "plague of locusts."

Report: This is one of several Season One episodes dealing centrally - or peripherally - with the themes of reincarnation and rebirth; other episodes along these lines include Shadows [1x05], Ghost In The Machine [1x06], Beyond The Sea [1x12], Genderbender [1x13], Lazarus [1x14], Young At Heart [1x15], Born Again [1x21] and Roland [1x22], enough to make me consider Season One the "Reincarnation Year." The show presented these idea in a variety of ways, some that worked well, others that seemed a bit unformed.

Miracle Man is one of the reincarnation X-Files with a religious foundation - but interestingly, here Scully remains the skeptic of the duo despite her Catholic background (later in the series, Scully tends to be the one to believe in faith-based supernatural events, especially after her abduction/alien cancer crises). What makes Mulder a "believer" is that a vision of his missing sister Samantha appears frequently while he's in the vicinity of Samuel Hartley. Part of Mulder thinks Samuel may have a real connection somewhere to Samantha, and part thinks Samuel may merely have the psychic power to project her image into his mind - but Scully thinks the visions are all a delusion of Mulder's fervent desire to believe his sister is still alive.

At its heart, Miracle Man is a sad, "downer" episode: while we suspect there may have been some miracles that occurred because of Samuel Hartley's "gift", little good has come from them. Several innocent people die from cyanide poisoning. Vance, the badly-burned man Samuel (as a boy) originally brought back from the dead despises his condition, and orchestrates the downfall of Miracle Ministries as revenge for being brought back to life. If his life was so terrible, why did continue being a "sideshow act" for the Miracle Ministries for ten years? Was he coerced, or just so emotionally damaged he felt compelled to stay? How did the timing of the healing-tent cyanide poisoning deaths coincide so closely with Samuel's "touch"?

Samuel ends up beaten to death by the sheriff's henchmen, the sheriff's ailing wife is not healed, and for all intents and purposes Samuel remains dead - I didn't get the feeling Samuel actually rose up to appear before Vance, but rather, he was a figment of Vance's guilt-ridden mind or a psychic projection. Why else explain the glow around Samuel? The nurse at the end of the show that claims to have seen Samuel walk past her station didn't report any unusual phenomenon.

Again, a somewhat enjoyable early episode that leaves a few loose ends hanging...and unlike the more audience-popular liver-eating mutant ,Eugene Victor Tooms I don't think Samuel Hartley never reappeared in the series, to my knowledge.


Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip [2X25, 3X01, 3X02]

Overall Rating: 10/10
Fright Factor: 7/10
Acting: 10/10
Mytharc Relevance: 10/10
Re-watchability: High
Connections: N/A

Summary: After an earthquake, a group of Navajo tribesmen find an uncovered railcar in the desert containing a pile of corpses that appear to be at least part alien. Meanwhile, a New Jersey hacker named Kenneth Soona, also known as the "Thinker," stumbles on the government's secret MJ files containing documented evidence of extraterrestrial activity. Soona makes a DAT copy of the information, which quickly becomes a "hot potato" the Syndicate tries to squelch. Shortly thereafter, Soona meets an unfortunate end disguised as a mob hit. When Mulder tracks down the tape, he discovers it is encrypted in Navajo - the code language used by the U.S. Government's "code talkers" during World War II. Scully, via a Washington connection, locates an elderly former Navajo codetalker named Albert Hosteen (Floyd Red Crow Westerman), who can help decipher the MJ files. Cigarette-Cmoking Man knows how crucial these files are - the entire Conspiracy is on there, including names.

Report: This trilogy is one of the series' high points - period. It serves as both an important turning point in the show and also as a curtain, where both Mulder and Scully lose someone very close to them and find their purpose strengthened. Carter and company pulled out all the stops for this three-parter; and the show is at its nail-biting, conspiracy-busting spirit-hunting best here.


Young At Heart [1x14]

Overall Rating: 6/10
Fright Factor: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Mytharc Relevance: 6/10
Re-watchability: Medium

Summary: In 1989, a wheelchair-bound prison inmate named Joe Crandall (Gordon Tipple) sees his friend, fellow inmate John Barnett (David Peterson), strapped to a surgical table with his right arm amputated. The doctor tells him Barnett is dead, and threatens Crandall with a scalpel to his throat.

Cut to present day - Mulder and Scully are called in by FBI agent Reggie Purdue (Richard Anthony Williams) to investigate a robbery/murder with an M.O. that strongly resembles Barnett's. This is strange, because Barnett should have been dead four years ago; but the truly eerie part is that the perpetrator has left a threatening handwritten note directed at Mulder - "Fox can't guard the chicken coop." We then learn that several years ago, during a botched armored truck hostage-taking, Mulder missed his chance to shoot Barnett, which resulted in the death of both the hostage and a fellow officer. Mulder has apparently never forgiven himself for hesitating. During a flashback to Barnett's trial, we see him mouth the words "I'm going to get you" to Mulder in clear view of Reggie.

So, is the suspect behind the new murder/robberies Barnett? Yes - he's been given a new lease on life with xenografting technology by one Dr. Joe Ridley (Robin Mossley) - the surgeon who amputated his arm in prison back in 1989 - and the new young Barnett (Alan Boyce) is back to get revenge on Mulder and his "friends."

Report: An interesting but ultimately perplexing early X-Files episode: Mulder and Scully appear more self-assured and serious than in many of Season One's eps, but the story plays fast-and-loose with the facts, and feels incomplete and rather implausible. My main complaint is that Young At Heart introduces several potentially fruitful plot devices that are - excuse the pun - amputated before they reach fruition. Mulder's old compatriot Reggie Purdue is killed off conveniently before we get a chance to relate to him, and before he serves his apparent purpose of revealing a glimpse of Mulder's early FBI years.

We never learn why the newly-young John Barnett begins a robbery spree years after he is presumed to be dead - we're told he has somehow stolen Dr. Ridley's secrets to rejuvenation, but couldn't Ridley have recreated most of his research from memory? Even if someone like Barnett "stole" his data (and I'm not convinced Barnett is smart enough to but that kind of scientific research to good use himself), Ridley still must remember the essentials of how it's done? What exactly is the connection between early-aging disease (progeria) and regenerative salamander cells? It feels like "apples and oranges".

Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) and the Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis, in a brief non-speaking role) both make brief appearances to tie in Dr. Ridley with the mytharc conspiracy, but the explanation isn't very satisfying.

There are a few "jumpy" moments when Barnett breaks into Scully's apartment, arousing her fear and making her reach for her gun - but then, the notorious Dr. Ridley knocks on her door in the middle of the night, and she doesn't seem the least bit wary or surprised. What gives?

For most other programs of this genre, this is the best we can expect; but this is after all, the X-Files, and we have pretty high standards, right?