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There was a light. I followed it.


The X-Files
8.21: Existence


Existence is pretty much the same again, a case of aggravating motivations but frequently riveting dramatics. Doggett is at his densest when it comes to Knowle Rohrer, whom he knows has deceived him and yet is unwilling to state as much to Mulder. Meanwhile, I’m beginning to appreciate fans’ beef with Reyes. It isn’t remotely Gish’s performance, but she’s written as such a flake. And a vague flake at that, Carter seeming to think non-specific, not-quite psychic vibes are some kind of peg for a character. And then there’s the episode ending.

So what is Scully’s not-magic-baby-after-all about, then? The explanation rather seems to be that Krycek, who was the source on all this, was talking shite, either intentionally or because he didn’t know what was what. Obviously, William is later revealed to be special (because he’s CSM’s son, right?) so either the super soldiers couldn’t perceive that and decided to leave him be – but you’d have thought they’d at least want to keep him under observation – or he meets their standards of alien-ness. I’m unpersuaded – outside of inept writing, which is entirely possible – that they’d just make a boo-boo and lo and behold, William’s going all magic mobile six months later.

I can take that vagueness– even if it smacks of failure to map out a plot coherently – much better than the religious allusions, which are absurdly cheap. Mulder manages to reach the stable without specific directions (he follows a star). The Lone Gunmen are the three wise men. The super soldiers are like Herod. Perhaps we’re supposed to think God protected the child from the super soldiers perceiving his true messianic qualities? It’s as good an explanation as any, and Carter all over.

As a Mulder sign off, re the truth being a smooch with Scully, I couldn’t be less interested. It’s an instantly pedestrian thing: the Jon Snow and Daenerys of its day. I’m really not-at-all sad Mulder is heading off grid at this point. Only that Scully isn’t going too. Indeed, while Doggett needs some sense beaten into him, it’s nice to see him and Reyes stand up to seething oozing-bile Kersh at the end (seriously Kersh’s performance is one of the funniest things ever for unadulterated evil).

Reyes is suffering from seriously bad writing in Existence, though, with her “I feel these energies” woo-woo cranked up to the max, and Scully being uneasy about her fellow agent putting a lesbian-tendencies hand up her. Her super sensitivity is obviously as tuned up as anyone else’s, since she puts it down to paranoia and then has a mass of super soldiers rocking up. She couldn’t be less psychic if she tried!

Elsewhere, we have Krycek’s last stand. If only CSM had been taken out so decisively (well, you’d think The Truth eventually did that, but then look). Indeed, the best thing I can say here is that, in context of using him well on this occasion, I didn’t want him to be written out, something I’d never suggest of CSM. Skinner shooting Alex in the head with a bullet POV shot, is on the excessive side, by any standards. In Skinner’s defence, he is suffering a head injury. When Krycek tells Mulder “No, I tried to stop them”, duplicitous as he always is, you rather want to believe him.

Everything with the super soldiers on the attack is energised and gripping. From Billy reconstituting and going all unstoppable force in the building – his punch through a lift door, hitting Skinner is phenomenal – to Doggett thinking twice about stopping Knowle and Crane and proceeding to leg it in short order. This is followed by a protracted fight on the door of a car. Then there’s Dale Dickey, who only ever plays baddies, so obviously, she turns out to be a super soldier (oh, and on the Reyes-is-dumb front, she keeps staring up at a light in the sky, and her startling intuition tells her nothing. I bet she’s just saying she’s psychic to impress the girls. At least, until Cary Elwes turns out to be her ex next season).

This is a far from great episode, then, but as a two-parter, Essence/Existence gets by on something approaching style over substance. When they slow down enough to allow to interrogation of the plot, they’re found supremely wanting, but as unappealing as the super-soldiers plot may have been to many fans, I found – in Season 8, at any rate – it gave the series something of an opportune boost in the myth-arc stakes.

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