Thursday, 6 July 2017

X-Files Rewatch | End Game

image via DVDBash

In the concluding chapter of the mid-season two-parter, Mulder discovers the truth behind Samantha’s (Megan Leitch) sudden return and Scully’s faith in science is tested further by the unexplained. 

There’s not much point in trying to summarize this episode other than through the preceding sentence. It’s a continuation of the complex mythology introduced in the previous episode – ‘Colony’ – mixed with a dash of emotional turmoil and near-death scares.

What we can explore, however, is the mysterious entity that is Samantha and her story arc in these two episodes. ‘End Game’ gives us – and Mulder – more insight to why she has suddenly reappeared in his life, and where she has been all these years. Even from her introduction in ‘Colony’, there has been a weird aura surrounding her character. Is she really Samantha? Or is she a clone/alien? We discover who/what she is through another abduction of Scully; this time in the hands of the Alien Bounty Hunter (Brian Thompson).

At the end of ‘Colony’, we witness ‘Mulder’ meet Scully in her motel room. The episode ends with Mulder talking to Scully on the phone unbeknownst to her location, whilst she is staring directly at ‘Mulder’ in the doorway … and that is where ‘End Game’ sets off. It’s surreal to see Scully interact with this ‘Mulder’, and is extremely well-performed by Anderson and Duchovny. The two create enough disconnect between the characters that you know just by facial expressions and mannerisms that this is not Mulder – and so does Scully. Especially when ‘Mulder’ begins to violently throw Scully around the room; it doesn’t sit well seeing ‘Mulder’ hurt Scully like that. ‘Mulder’ eventually reveals his true identity as the Alien Bounty Hunter in a sleek, ‘Black or White’-esce transition that, for a 90s effect, still holds up today.

The Alien Bounty Hunter knows that Mulder has Samantha, so he decides to play Devil’s Advocate and abducts Scully. Mulder must choose between his partner or his sister that he has been searching to find for much of his life. This abduction brings back haunted memories for both us and Mulder of Scully’s first abduction at the hands of Duane Barry earlier in the season. Once Mulder learns of the abduction and the choice that he has to make, Mulder becomes frantic and begins to exhibit post-traumatic stress of the previous loss of his partner. Mulder eventually comes to a choice with the aid of Samantha – trade Samantha for Scully, and Samantha will kill the Bounty Hunter by piercing the base of his skull.

 source: carlithiel

Mulder saving Scully and losing his sister has its repercussions; Mulder has to break the news to his parents. He decides to tell his father first, rather than his mother. I would say he should have done it the other way around, as he may have got some semblance of nurture from his mother. Mulder’s parents – Teena and Bill – seem to have been emotionally unavailable to Mulder his entire life since his sister’s disappearance. So, it’s no surprise that Mulder’s father is a complete asshole when Mulder tells him that he’s lost Samantha again.

This emotional abuse – which is displayed by his mother later in the series – has affected Mulder since the day Samantha disappeared. He was the one who lost her when he was twelve (theoretically; since he couldn’t do anything about it), and he has most probably felt as though his parents have resented him his entire life for it. Now he’s got to go through it all over again. Bill does not help matters by the way in which he interacts with his son. He begins to scold him like Mulder is still a twelve-year-old: ‘Do you realize what losing her again is going to do to your mother?’ ‘Do you?’

Throughout the first season and the beginning of the second, Mulder’s impulsiveness and utter irrational tendencies could make him rather unsympathetic in certain instances. It isn’t until his backstory is revealed in instances like this where it’s no surprise he’s like he is. This is one of the reasons why Scully is so important to Mulder – he’s damaged, but she’s able to hold him up, fix him and let him find his true self.

At this point, Scully has no idea about Mulder’s sister or that Mulder intends to trade his sister for his partner. If she were to have known, Scully would never let Mulder sacrifice herself for his sister, and he knows that. This cements how much both Mulder and Scully value each other only two years into knowing one another – that he needed her back even if meant the chance of losing his sister all over again. This desperation repeats itself later in the episode when Mulder goes missing. He isn’t abducted, but he doesn’t tell Scully where he’s going (as he so often does) to prevent her from being in unnecessary danger. Scully needs to find him:

SCULLY: May we speak off the record, sir?
SCULLY: Agent Mulder. He’s gone.
SCULLY: I don’t know. I was hoping that you could tell me or find out.
SKINNER: I spoke to Agent Mulder the day before yesterday, said he was going to take some time off after what he’d been through.
SCULLY: He told me the same thing, but I don’t think this matter with his sister is settled. Sir, is there any way you can reach him through unofficial channels?
SKINNER: I can’t help you, Scully.
SCULLY: Please?!
SKINNER: Agent Scully, you and I both have a greater responsibility to consider, and that is to the FBI. Agent Mulder’s actions in this case are a violation of his duties, his oath of trust and bureau protocol. He’s risked my position, your life-
SCULLY: Agent Mulder has saved my life!!
SKINNER: If he wanted or expected you to do the same, he would have told you where he was going.

This is one of the first instances where we can see how much Scully cares for Mulder. In this exchange with Skinner, she has the same passion, desperation, and determination that Mulder has both times that Scully has been abducted. Mulder and Scully both save each others’ lives constantly, in more ways than one. When the other is missing, there is no stopping either of them until they find the other.
Scully’s determination when Mulder is missing leads her to plead with X (Steven Williams) as well as Skinner – as Mulder would do in the same situation. After reading the email Mulder left her on his computer:

Scully, when you get this message, I will be too far away, I will be too far away for you to stop me, but where I’m going I cannot allow you to follow. I won’t let you jeopardize your life and your career for reasons purely personal to me. You were right, Scully … you said a line has to be drawn somewhere. I’m drawing it for you here. I’ll contact you when I can.
Scully holds up in Mulder’s apartment after adorning his window with the famed calling sign. Scully refuses to back down and leave Mulder alone, defying what he stated in his email. Mulder says his absence is purely for personal reasons, but his personal reasons have also become Scully’s. Whenever there is a chance that Mulder’s in danger due to his anger and need for answers clouds his judgment, there is no doubt Scully will follow.

When X does arrive, he refuses to tell Scully where Mulder is (‘I need to know goddamnit, I’m losing time!’). Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) then proceeds to beat the living shit out of X to gather the information of Mulder’s whereabouts for Scully. The information given to Scully is somewhat like the co-ordinates Mulder receives in Fight the Future from the Well-Manicured Man to find Scully. A cold, desolate place in the middle of the Arctic.

As is common with The X-Files and its treatment of its main leads, Scully discovers Mulder near-death in a foreign environment. He is also infected with the retrovirus that has been killing people left and right for the duration of the two episodes. This is the instance that ‘End Game’ re-joins ‘Colony’, and we’re able to see the consequences of Mulder’s impromptu trip to the unidentified submarine and his encounter with the Alien Bounty Hunter. Luckily, Scully gets there in time – as she always does – and uses her newfound knowledge of the retrovirus to save Mulder’s life.

[Mulder flatlines]
NURSE: His heart stopped!
DOCTOR: Give me one amp of epinephrine in a cannula!
SCULLY: You don’t know what you’re dealing with here! Agent Mulder has been exposed to a retrovirus resulting in hyperviscosity syndrome.
DOCTOR: I want you out of my E.R. right now. Nurse!
NURSE: Yes, doctor. Ma’am-
SCULLY: His blood has thickened—
NURSE: Ma’am—
SCULLY: That’s why his heart is failing!
DOCTOR: No, his heart is failing because he’s lost all his body heat!
SCULLY: No, the only thing saving him right now is the hypermetabolic state induced by the cold. Now, if you don’t do what I’m saying, you are going to kill him!

Overall, ‘End Game’ is one of the most impactful episode of the series canon. Along with ‘Colony’, the two episodes produce a strong foundation for the mythology of the series to build upon, even though this mythology drastically changes throughout the following seasons. Both episodes also provide needed insights into what both Mulder and Scully believe in; the truth and science, and each other. ‘Colony’ and ‘End Game’ provide an unfaltering dedication to one another that only increases throughout the series. 

SAMANTHA: I know this is hard for you, Fox.
MULDER: No, it's not hard. It's unbelievable. 

• Waiting to see how Mulder can strike a deal to get Scully back and safe from the Alien Bounty Hunter. Mulder can't face the prospect of losing Scully again - pacing up and down his apartment waiting for the call. 

SAMANTHA: Then men you've been seeking are the progeny of two original visitors, clones identical to my parents living in virtually every part of the country.
MULDER: And what are they trying to accomplish?
SAMANTHA: It's their belief that our stewardship of the planet is being forsaken. And by default, they'll someday become the natural heirs.
MULDER: And in the meantime?
SAMANTHA: Through hybridisation they've been working to erase that aspect which has forced the community to scatter - their identical natures.
MULDER: All the clones worked in abortion clinics - why?
SAMANTHA: Access to foetal tissue. Though the biologies are incompatible, they finally found a way to combine human DNA with alien DNA.
MULDER: And this man, why has he been sent to kill them?
SAMANTHA: The experiments weren't santioned. It was considered a dilution of their species, a pollution of their race. So, a bounty hunter was dispatched to destroy them and terminate the colony.

• At least Samantha can describe the mythology of the show in a simpler way than Chris Cater did throughout the whole series.  

MULDER: [After finding out that Samantha was an alien/human hybrid clone and not his sister] It was all a lie.
'SAMANTHA' #1: We needed your help. We knew you could be manipulated.
'SAMANTHA' #2: ...the rest of us are dispensable. She was the first, the one from which we all came. The one which you must save. 

• Mulder looks so lost and confused -- he's had enough. There's a chance that could have been the actual Samantha, but Mulder is fed up with being duped and given false promises ... 'my choice is to walk out of here'. 

• The stiletto weapon used by the bounty hunter was made from aluminum and acrylic, activated by a pneumatic hose hidden under Brian Thompson's sleeve. 

• When Scully is beaten up by 'Mulder', the fight was predominantly shot with a stunt double. X and Skinner's fight, however, was performed by the actors themselves - Steven Williams and Mitch Pileggi. Pileggi underestimated his strength during the stunt and broke the back of the elevator scenery. 

• As the production team could not travel to the Arctic to shoot the submarine scene, 140 tons of snow and ice were dumped in a soundstage to create the scene. The soundstage had to be refrigerated for 5 days of filming. 

• The decommissioned HMCS Mackenzie was rented and used for the interior of the submarine. This vessel was reused in the season two episode 'Dod Kalm'. 

SCULLY: After being treated for smoke inhalation, Agent Mulder was released from Samaritan Hospital in satisfactory condition. At his request, the abortion clinic where he was found has been searched repeatedly. But the bodies he insists were perished were not found.  
My report case remains incomplete, many aspects continue to defy explanation, including the identities of the men and women. Agent Mulder's claim of alien origins cannot be substantiated. The man suspected in their disappearance is still at large and has now been charged with the death of FBI Special Agent Barry Weiss, whose body has been quarantined at the US Medical Research Institue for Infectious Diseases.  
Weiss's cause of death involved a thickening of the blood. It is now believed he was subjected to a veruline strain of virus whose origin and behavior are also unexplainable. It is my hope that further analysis of this contagion will aid in the solution of this case. 

• Hyperviscosity Syndrome: A group of symptoms that occur due to an increase in the viscosity of the blood. This thickness of blood causes arterial blockages due to too many red and white blood cells or proteins in the bloodstream. 

SCULLY: This is a retrovirus? 
DOCTOR: Yes, but none of us have seen anything like it. Do you recognize it? 
SCULLY: Was the thickening of Agent Weiss's blood an immunological response to the virus? 
DOCTOR: Apparently. When the body is exposed to it, it triggers a massive production of blood cells. Now, take a look at this. We took a second culture and were able to control its growth.  
SCULLY: What did you do to it?  
DOCTOR: All we did was lower the temperature by five degrees Fahrenheit.  
SCULLY: So, the virus is inhibited by the cold?  
DOCTOR: Knocked out by it. For some reason, this retrovirus goes dormant at cold temperatures. 

SCULLY: Transfusions and an aggresive treatment with anti-viral agents have resulted in a steady but gradual improvement in Agent Mulder's condition. Blood tests have confirmed his exposure to the still unidentified retrovirus, whose origins remains a mystery. 
The search team that found Agent Mulder has located neither the missing submarine or man he was looking for. Several aspects of this case remain unexplained, suggesting the possibility of paranormal phenomena. But I am convinced that to accept such conclusions is to abandon all hope of understaning the scientific events behind them.  
Many of the things I have seen have challenged my faith and belief in an ordered universe. But this uncertainty has only strengthend my need to know, to understand, to apply reason to those things which seem to defy it.  
It was science that allowed us to understand its behaviour. And ultimately, it was science that saved Agent Mulder's life. 

MULDER: Why does he want to kill you? 
SAMANTHA: Because I know how to kill him. 
SAMANTHA: By piercing the base of his skull. 
MULDER: Well, that will kill anybody. 

MULDER: Make yourself at home. 
SKINNER: What's going on here, Agent Mulder? Why are the lights out? 
MULDER: Orders from my ophthalmologist. 

• Scully has a key to Mulder's apartment

MULDER: If I ever needed your help, your trust; I need it now. 

SCULLY: Mulder. 
MULDER: You should be in the hospital, Scully. 
SCULLY: I was discharged an hour ago, and I asked to come here. Have they found anything yet? 
MULDER: Nothing yet. You think she could have survived? 
SCULLY: Maybe, but the water's 36 degrees. 
MULDER: Well, maybe she went into hypothermic shock. I've heard about people that have lived after being stranded in water like this for eight to ten hours. 
SCULLY:  Mulder, why didn't you tell me on the phone it was her?
MULDER: I couldn't tell you. 
SCULLY: Why not? 
MULDER: Because you'd never let me go through with it. 
SCULLY: Are you sure that it's your sister? 
MULDER: Why would you even question me on that?! 
SCULLY: Because back at the motel, Mulder, it was you but it wasn't you. 
MULDER: Well, it was her. 
SCULLY: Well then who is this man-- 
MULDER: He's an alien! 
SCULLY: Is that what you're gonna tell Skinner? 
MULDER: I already told Skinner, that was the easy part. Now I've gotta tell my father. 

[Scully grabs Mulder's arm as he wakes up, Mulder turns to Scully as she smiles at him]  
SCULLY: Hey, how're you feeling?
MULDER: [Raspy voice] I've gotta bad case of freezer burn. How did I get here?
SCULLY: A naval reconnaissance squad found you and choppered you into Eisenhower Field. Thanks for ditching me.
MULDER: I'm sorry, I uh - [coughs] - I couldn't let you risk your life on this.
SCULLY: Did you find what you were looking for?
MULDER: No, no. But I found something I thought I'd lost ... faith to keep looking.  
[Scully smiles wistfully at Mulder] 


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