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They saved her to expose us.


The X-Files
6.11: Two Fathers


I was never very keen on Jeffrey Spender. Nothing to do with Chris Owens, but the character seemed like a tired antagonist trope immediately he landed. And such is the way with Chris Carter, he has a tendency to use a hammer to crack a nut. Even when there’s apparent nuance and grey areas, as with the agenda of Mimi’s Diane Fowley. Here, Jeffrey’s arc reaches its conclusion, but for the later epilogue(s) (whether planned at the time or otherwise). And such is the way of these things, no one, least of all the fans, is earmarked to mourn his exit. More still, this is Carter et al effectively drawing a line under the first “flush” of the mythology arc, for better or worse. The movie should have warned us it wasn’t going to be a bang, so I guess we should just be grateful Two Father/One Son isn’t a full-blown whimper.

Cassandra: Oh, my god, I think I’m going to pee the floor.
Mulder: Don’t… don’t do that

The major plus of these two episodes is the return of Veronica Cartwright, even if she isn’t nearly as well-catered for this time. Indeed, the best she gets comes early on, as Cassandra reunites with Mulder and her eagerness for an attentive audience elicits the above exchange. Much of the story is about Jeffrey not believing until he does, while the Syndicate come to realise their perfect hybrid is being used as a no-win (it means the colonists can push ahead, when they learn of it, while the Rebels, far from killing her, wish to use Cassandra to shine a light on the plans). 

Mulder: What are they here for?
Cassandra: To wipe us off the planet. They’re taking over the universe. They’re infecting all other life-forms with a black substance called Purity. It’s their life force. It’s what they’re made of.
Mulder: It’s the virus– the black oil.

As such, there’s a sense of a lot of goalpost moving in order to maintain the broad plan. We’ve seen numerous alien-human/human-clone hybrids before, but none of those were optimal, it seems. Likewise, Scully was successfully cured of alien virus in the movie, but that was only a weak version, it seems. When it comes to it, then, ignore anything that doesn’t quite fit with the plot you want to emphasise right now.

Jeffrey Spender: The truth. The truth about my mother. She won’t tell me.
CSM: Because you won’t believe her. Maybe you won’t believe me. Maybe it’s better not to know.

As for the black goo/oil, are we to assume that the colonists, if possessed of their own recognisees, probably wouldn’t invade Earth? Spotnitz apparently said the rebels and humans are the only advanced species in the galaxy not to have been consumed by the black oil, so I guess so. And the “They saved her to expose us” line of reasoning seems a bit thin, since the rebels could surely have exposed the Syndicate through any number of previous hybrid/goo experiments. Hell, one of the rebels could expose (ahem) himself on national TV and that would probably do the trick.

Elder: Why not side with the rebels… join their alien resistance?

As it turns out, come next episode, the Rebels, thinking on the fly, decide not to do that all, so go figure (I’m guessing when their infiltrator got it in the neck, they thought sod it). Jeffrey is semi-initiated by dad, who offers the devastating rebuke “You pale to Fox Mulder”. Although, one wonders quite what CSM’s intentions are, getting him to kill the alien infiltrator, since he knows full well his son is unprepared for what he will see, and all he offers is that he needs to spike him “in the back of his neck” – some more detail might have helped, unless he wanted him to fail. Luckily, Krycek is on hand to do for the spy instead.

Krycek: That’s why he put you on the X-Files. That’s why your father sent you here tonight. You’re protecting the project, Jeff. Making the sacrifices. So that you can be a great man too.
Jeffrey Spender: (getting up and leaving the room angrily) I’ll be my own great man.

And what’s with Alex proselytising for CSM all of a sudden? Does he mean it – that seems unlikely, given past form – or is he blowing smoke up his absent ass for Jeffrey’s benefit? Also in evidence is Fox playing basketball with his homies (“I got game”), needing telling that the sister he met wasn’t really his sister again(like, duh), and the crap cliffhanger; come on, there’s no way we believe he’d shoot Cassandra, regardless of her pleas, so there’s zero tension to be wrought from it.

CSM: We had a perfect conspiracy with an alien race. Aliens who were coming to reclaim this planet and to destroy all human life. Our job was to secretly prepare the way for their invasion. To create for them a slave race of human/alien hybrids. They were good plans… right plans. Kept secret for over 50 years, ever since the crash at Roswell. Kept secret from men like Fox Mulder. Plans that would have worked had not a rebel alien race come to destroy them. 

Apparently, CSM’s voiceover was a late-stage addition; it sounds it, but that’s usual for Carter’s patented ponderous flatulence. On the other hand, it does sound like the kind of thing a failed pulp-novelist would come out with, so could be argued as fitting on this occasion. Rob Shearman suggests the episode gives William B Davis the chance to shine, but that’s vastly overstating the case; his disgust at Jeffrey has venom, but the only whiff of anything different to the norm comes when he reunites with Cassandra in the second part. Two Fathersis okay, but it feels like it’s made to order, so it lacks the necessary whiff of inspiration.

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