This is the final of the six episodes of this revival. In all the promotion by FOX, it was billed as the “season finale”, implying there will be more even if negotiations have not started. Accordingly, the episode ends with a huge cliffhanger: Carter had written this cliffhanger into the story months ago, gambling it all in hopes that the audience would be there and that more episodes will be made — after all, if FOX was interested to revive the show after all these years, why not more than once? So far, ratings are such that a season 11 seems only to be a matter of time.
In that context, the episode’s tagline, “This Is The End“, is ironic! It also introduces us to what presents itself as the most important episode of The X-Files mythology, but ends up being the most frustrating.
Obviously, spoilers after the jump.
My Struggle II features a plot worthy of a feature film. In fact, much of it is how I had imagined the filmic resolution to The X-Files mythology for many years now: Scully creates a vaccine to a biological attack, spreads that immunity to the entire population, and thwarts the conspiracy’s and the aliens’ plans with science! The science itself, the best part of the episode, is detailed in an annex below. Had there been an “X-Files 3”, this is how I would have envisioned it! (see my Dec-22-2012 article) And just as Scully had started to spread what could be the end of this infection, a UFO appears and sheds its beam precisely on Scully. This is no alien UFO, it looks like the military UFO/ARV that destroyed Sveta, and it is there to stop her. Cut to credits!
However there are two significant differences from what I had imagined compared to what we see in the episode: one is the lack of aliens (and we will come to that in a moment), and the other is the open, public way in which it all happens. Infected people are by the thousands in the capital of the USA, and if Tad O’Malley is right it is global; thousands of people witness a UFO. Nobody can forget this event entirely, however much memory swipe the conspiracy does to the abductees. This is a tense apocalyptic thriller of a global scope, with historical consequences. The X-Files mythology is advancing forward in a way it had not since season 6 (apparently) erased the Syndicate. The world will no longer be the same after this.
That also means that it no longer is our world. The X-Files had always stuck to a certain realism in order to make its stories more believable. That meant that the cases Mulder and Scully investigated never clearly concluded, or that the evidence were destroyed, or that the events did not bring about changes that could make us think this is another world. I believed the resolution to the impending viral apocalypse posed by the show’s mythology would occur “below the radar”, in an underground fight to find a cure and manage to spread it to the entire population without them knowing, perhaps even using the conspiracy’s own tools, making colonization moot.
Future episodes will have to acknowledge that. Despite this, I do not expect The X-Files to become a fully post-apocalyptic show, with a significant share of the population dead. If they want to continue the mythology/stand-alones mix, the next season will have to temper things down, revealing that Tad’s reports of a global outbreak were false, or that the outbreak was local, or that this was a grand rehearsal of the big event and that the immune systems can be switched back on as easily as they can be switched off. The viral outbreak brought about by a conspiracy of men is very reminiscent of the very memorable apocalyptic end to the second season of Millennium, the two-parter 2×22: The Fourth Horseman & 2×23: The Time Is Now, penned by Morgan and Wong. The series was unexpectedly renewed for a third season, and the writers had to downplay what had been presented as the end of the world, saying that only a handful of people died. With this episode, we see the conspiracy’s plans finally hatching, and Carter definitely puts the story in a completely separate universe.
The new Cigarette-Smoking Man
He is alive, he is the same person that we thought died in 9X19/20: The Truth, he is not genetically modified or hybridized so as to be able to self-heal (apart from the alien DNA modification that Scully also has). He simply survived, with some burns and scars. This cartoonish return goes well beyond his previous fake deaths. While his first death in 5X03: Redux II included a premeditated return (Fight the Future had been shot at that point), all his subsequent returns from the dead were progressively more unbelievable. His death in 7X22: Requiem symbolized the death of the (first) mythology and marked a first “end” to the series. His death in The Truth served the same symbolic purpose: as a representation of pure evil, he taunted the hero and laughed among the flames of his own destruction — he is pulverized by military missiles that destroy the entire surrounding rock structure and burn his flesh to the bare bone (or was that image symbolic as well?). He has become the Phantom of the Opera, and we witness his literal unmasking and his horrendous Devil-like disfigurement.
His return here marks a severe lack of imagination and requires copious amounts of suspension of disbelief.
His return serves the exact same narrative purpose. He is the series’ nemesis, the avatar of evil, the tempter. He had tempted Mulder to join his side before: in 5X03: Redux II and in 6X12: One Son. Each time Mulder refused even if that meant death for him; here it is no different.
We discover that he was tended by none other than ex-Special Agent Monica Reyes, a new sort of Diana Fowley. She accepted to work for him (which seems to consist in lighting his cigarettes) in exchange of being made immune against the coming plague. Throughout seasons 8 and 9, Reyes was presented as a “sunny”, moral character who made a good friend with Scully; the reversal presented here makes her an interesting character, not made unbelievable only because we did not get to know Reyes very well anyway. Why Reyes, though? Couldn’t the CSM do without her? Why didn’t she contact Scully to warn her earlier?
In the flashbacks, he might just have been unable to prevent an attack by powerful Supersoldiers that have infiltrated the government and the military, but lying in his bed he says “I’m the most powerful man in the world”. He is and always was at the top of things, although we get no word on how he managed to do that or who his associates are.
The new mythology
“It’s been in motion since 2012” but only now has it become noticeable. Everyone’s immune system fails due to a “Spartan virus” brought about by the global elites, inserted in everyone’s bodies via vaccinations made mandatory by the government, and activated by a “release of aluminium” in chemtrails from commercial airplanes or by “microwave radiation” from telecommunications antennas (and what was that about graffiti being used to target specific people?); social order collapses and the world plunges in chaos. The new mythology is a syncretization of many modern-day conspiracy theories — the anti-vaccine crowd, the chemtrails, the survivalism militias. Carter has certainly remained alert of this milieu just as he was in the 1990s, however these theories are now much more accessible and widespread, and viewers are more likely to have come across them now than in the past, and made up their minds about them; the result is a conspiracy that is less dramatic than the original one, or at least one that will be more debated — you either already think these theories are ridicule, or already believe in them.
To these more right-wing conspiracy theories, Carter adds an ecological message that is more usually associated with left-wing: global climate change and the destruction of the environment by human activities. “We have just had the hottest year on record on planet Earth“: that is true, 2015 was the hottest year since global temperatures have been measured, 1880. Humanity is on an unsustainable path. This had happened to the aliens as well: “The aliens predicted this. They saw it happening to themselves. Neither you nor I can save mankind from self-extermination.” This bout of ecological wisdom is interesting but feels completely out of place coming from a character like the CSM, who has been plotting self-extermination himself; it might have fared better coming from another character, a face to this new conspiracy.
And so the elites have decided that since the world is going to end anyway, they might as well decide how, wipe out the entire population, and start civilization from scratch with the “chosen ones” survivors. This plan has been set for a while, and it has not been set by only the CSM: “You have no idea how well we planned“. In all this, the aliens are innocent or benevolent creatures.
The central idea echoes strongly the mythology of the third season of Millennium: “We are rushing towards an apocalypse of our own creation“.
After My Struggle, we were waiting for the second part to see whether the new elements presented would be confirmed or if there would be another twist. There has been no twist and this new mythology appears to be “the truth” (for now).
The events here do present similarities to what had been announced before. The smallpox vaccinations were referred to before (3X02: Paper Clip, 3X24: Talitha Cumi), though not as carriers of another virus but as a system to tag and catalog the population. The conspiracy was working towards effectively spreading a disease (4X21: Zero Sum, Fight the Future). Kurtzweil was warning of a viral apocalypse that would bring the shadow government to power (Fight the Future). And we have seen abductions and alien DNA being found in abductees before (see 2X08: One Breath and 5X02: Redux). What is surprising is actually Scully being surprised at finding this, when she was aware of it since 1997! What was surprising is that she did not remember identifying inactive alien DNA in the human genome of every human when examining Gibson Praise and an alien claw (6X01: The Beginning).
However, the elephant in the room, the plan for alien colonization, has not been mentioned. The change of the nature of the conspiracy do not warrant even a passing mention: what has been said in My Struggle is now the new normal and Mulder feels okay with this.
The CSM seems to be presenting that this plan, the depopulation of the planet because humanity was self-destructing, was the original plan all along. In Scully’s opening monologue, when she talks about a conspiracy of men, she doesn’t mention colonization; and yet we see photos of the Syndicate Elders, the very same that we heard discuss many times using such words as the “colonization of this planet by an extraterrestrial race” (5X14: The Red and the Black; Fight the Future; 6X12: One Son). I had hopes that we were exploring the conspiracy inside the government that was shooting down UFOs, running parallel to the Syndicate (see My Struggle or Primer 3), but this definitely identifies this new conspiracy with the old Syndicate.
There are many, many things wrong with this. Such as:
- If an easily inserted DNA bit like the one Scully has was sufficient, what was the point of the complex alien/human hybrids program? Why Cassandra Spender was more successful than others?
- Wnat of the Syndicate’s pact with the alien Colonists? What was the significance of the abduction of Samantha?
- Who were the Faceless Rebels?
- Of the clawed alien gestated by an infection by the Black Oil, the Well-Manicured Man, shortly before sacrificing himself, says “This isn’t Colonization, this is spontaneous repopulation! All our work! If it’s true, they’ve been using us all along!”
- Where are the Supersoldiers, alien replicants in power since 2001?
Certain possibilities to reconcile all this present themselves, however all of them are problematic and would add even more complexity — just when Carter’s stated objective was to simplify the mythology.
- The Faceless Rebels could have won the war against the Colonists, off-screen, and left, leaving the stage free for a conspiracy of men. Or, the aliens left for greener pastures and the conspiracy of men expanded. …But we are told the Spartan virus was delivered with the smallpox vaccination, and so it must have existed since before the 1970s; what was the use of it then?
- The Supersoldiers really were a governmental program, not a program run by aliens. …But they were against the CSM, who is presented here as a mastermind of the governmental conspiracy.
- The Spartan virus was conceived by the Syndicate as a last-minute resistance solution against the alien Colonists. It would be used as a deterrent against the aliens: with humanity dead, nothing left to colonize (similarly, nuclear holocaust was to be the deterrent, according to a cut scene from 9X19/20: The Truth). …But we are told that the genetic technology was “given to them by an alien race”, and the aliens wouldn’t give the Syndicate the tools of resistance.
- What we see is indeed the start of colonization: the loss of our immune system was a false flag operation to attract our attention from what is really going on. The Spartan virus will also activate something that will have similar effects to the infection by the Black Oil. Or, Scully is giving everyone what she thinks is the cure, when in fact she is putting alien DNA to everyone, that will become active and turn everyone into aliens. …But that means that the CSM is being manipulated as well — which is odd, since he knew all about colonization in the previous 9 seasons.
- What was meant by “colonization” was something different from what we though it did: just the takeover of the planet by the global elites, assisted by the aliens, who want to “save us from ourselves”.
The only possible option — and it is a big stretch — was that the CSM manipulated everyone in the Syndicate into doing his bidding from the very beginning (1947), inventing this story of colonization. Or, the Syndicate itself was being manipulated by the all-knowing Elites into believing colonization, another layer of the conspiracy onion. (Or vice-versa, and the Colonists will appear when the Elites don’t expect them!) The UFO crash we saw in My Struggle was the real crash, and from the very beginning the Men In Black kill the innocent aliens, create this story of alien colonization in order to instill fear, stage a UFO crash in Roswell (“Roswell was a smokescreen“, as the old informant told Mulder) where they plant the information on colonization (see the Mount Weather database Mulder glimpses at in 9X19/20: The Truth). The Alien Bounty Hunters and the Faceless Rebels, at whom the old informant in My Struggle specifically laughed at when Mulder called them alien, would be man-made: hybrids from the Russian program sent to exterminate the US Syndicate for example, or hybrids made by the Elites to police the Syndicate. The Syndicate was never in direct contact with the aliens, but such memories (such as their contact in 1973 that sealed their cooperation, 6X12: One Son) were implanted in them by the Elites to manipulate them. The Elites manipulating the Syndicate, itself manipulating the governmental conspiracy. …As big a hand-wave explanation as they come.
To be fair, the first years in the original series were extremely ambiguous, much more than what most would remember, and many events could be interpreted both ways. Scully’s abduction and her implants were made by men, for example. So much so that when a first reversal towards a “conspiracy of men” came in 4X24: Gethsemane / 5X02/03: Redux, it would have been possible to make a coherent picture. That was a very exciting story to tell, and it came at the very last moment Carter could tell it: there is nothing in the dialogue that unambiguously confirms aliens or alien colonization before 5X14: The Red and the Black (interestingly, the specific event the old informant refers to); before that it is only insinuations or Mulder’s interpretations. And since then, the mythology has accumulated more and more elements, making a deep reversal ever more difficult to believe.
Another reversal of the story in the future is not impossible. But this season has presented sufficient material that would make a return to the “old” mythology a contradiction with this season! I guess the reason I have trouble with this is that, despite its crazy science-fiction, I find the old mythology more interesting than the super-fast and few elements that we have been presented of the new one. The X-Files mythology has been marred for good.
Carter gives us a suspense thriller of unprecedented scope and unprecedented speed in The X-Files. This creates excitement, but half of the episode’s shortcomings come from it trying to cram too much story in too little time. Every second is filled with dialogue, leaving no time to breathe. The contagion went from one case to global pandemic in half an hour. The new mythology went from introduction to development to climax in two episodes. Agent Einstein underwent Scully’s 8 seasons’ worth of character development from skeptic to acceptance to believer in the span of a single episode. The doctors diagnosed, tested, retested, identified, isolated, mass-produced and found the solution to an agent of biological warfare that took decades to set up. Tad O’Malley’s frequent interventions serve, again, as exposition and info dump to progress the plot given the budgetary and time length impossibility to show us these developments.
Because of this, everything feels unnaturally fake. Things that might have flowed better with more time here seem forced or ridiculous. The science might be sound, but when it is concentrated like this it is no different from technobabble. Scully disregarded Tad’s theories in the premiere, here she believes everything he says from the very beginning. Mulder needing stem cells feels like a line pasted there to remind us of William. We do learn that Scully thinks he “will be protected by his inheritance and by alien DNA“, but it is not clear how. Are Scully’s alien genes hereditary? How can a barren woman know?
Surely not everything Tad says is to be taken at face value, but things are going so fast that it is impossible to distinguish between false information and true explanation. Ambiguity was a strong point in The X-Files and surely there are some of Tad’s theories that do not hold up. But there is too little time to develop the mythology; information that would have been established by investigation, by discovery from the protagonists, is presented by O’Malley instead. We are narrated what the truth is, we do not live it.
Summarizing the mythology, or nearly any X-Files episodes in fact, can be ridiculous. This is why the original X-Files excelled, building a mysterious atmosphere with a realistic investigation that mixes some fantastic elements, with moody music, with stories that imply that there is much more that we do not know yet, and giving stories enough time to develop. What happens here is the complete opposite, and My Struggle II and its conspiracy, topical nevertheless, feels no different from a late-night made-for-television movie that would have been based on The X-Files.
These are defaults that this episode shares with My Struggle. However, we could have been more lenient on the first episode given its difficult task to return from a 14 (or 8) year hiatus, show where the characters have been, introduce the new status quo, and still tell a story. The same cannot be said of this episode. In fact, the developments here are so fast and come so close after the premiere that the first part of My Struggle could have been done without entirely, and use that airtime to give more space to the second part’s story. The viral plague could have started being explored from the premiere, instead of spending time in 1947. In a short season in which most of the issues come from pacing, this episode illustrates this problem best. Like all previous episodes in this revival, things flow better after a rewatch, but the initial impression remains. This problem stems from a desire to tell more story given the restrictions given by Fox and the actors, and this is not a cable show, where the narration can take its time — so to some extent Carter’s heart is in the right place. However, I cannot imagine that the final product would attract anyone else than fans who are already emotionally committed to these characters and story.
Mirroring Mulder’s “struggle” with his beliefs in the first part, My Struggle II really showcases Scully. Scully and Einstein, two women, two scientists, work together to save the world: that is a beautiful image. (It is marred though by a line in the opening, where Scully answers the phone as “Agent Mulder’s phone“: not only does she still not have a nameplate and desk but she is also Mulder’s secretary?) Her fears that she might turn into something alien, illustrated in her opening monologue, are reversed by the end of the episode: what saved her, and will save everyone is alien! Einstein’s realization that “If this actually works…then I’ll have alien DNA” is one of the episode’s highlights. Mulder does very little overall and serves as the spectator to William B. Davis’ performance. For a revival fueled by the desire to recreate the unique chemistry between Anderson and Duchovny, Scully and Mulder spend an absurdly small amount of time together here — not to mention that their estrangement did imply an interesting background in My Struggle but since then has served no purpose. The six weeks intervening between the two episodes are supposed to reflect real time, but given what has happened — Scully quitting her job, Mulder recovering from depression, FBI reinstatement, training, investigations, dealing with Scully’s mother’s death — that is far too short.
With this new spin on things, Carter is trying to give back to the show a sense of mystery, a sense of unknown. We have known what we thought was the truth for too long, and safe in our beliefs we thought we knew everything. The X-Files has been about lies and deceits and subjective knowledge of an impossible truth. Instead of drawing the mythology to a close, Carter chooses to return us to those early seasons of the show, when anything was possible and mysterious and frightening. True conspiracies also evolve, transform, shift with the passage of time and with circumstances, and a cliffhanger ending promising answers in the future is entirely in line with this approach. Already fans are producing a multitude of theories to try to explain this new twist: it worked!
Carter decided to go into this risky new direction with the mythology to make it more topical to current concerns and conspiracy theories. In fact, it could very well be just a grafting on to The X-Files of the ideas Carter was developing for his cancelled TV series for AMC, “Area 51“. These are interesting stories to tell. Yet the contradictions with previously established dialogue would be especially obvious today in the age of binge-watching and streaming services — something which, ironically, has resulted in a recent reappraisal of the mythology and its up-to-now consistence! Carter is banking on the hopes that the mythology was too complicated for a significant amount of people to care (which, to a large extent, is true).
What is most frustrating is the reluctance to even address the possible inconsistencies and offer possible trains of thought to reconcile this with the previous nine seasons. Although they have the opportunity to do so, the characters do not debate what they think is happening now and how the situation changed from 2002. Something that makes me think that no re-reversal is forthcoming and that Carter will stick with this story; until he decides for the aliens to return, and he will introduce another onion layer of conspirators, at the cost of some more consistency. And unlike in 5X03: Redux II, where the CSM says of Kritschgau that “he has deceived you with beautiful lies“, there is no final hint that another interpretation is possible. We have to stick with “everything we’ve been lead to believe was a lie“.
Yet it would have been simple to give this season more coherence. The villain could have been another person representing the Elites, a person not aware of the previous colonization plans (or at least a person acknowledging he manipulated the Syndicate), and not the CSM, whom we have heard say things explicitly on alien colonization. Carter and Fox wanted to appeal to fans with the return of recognizable faces; William B. Davis and Annabeth Gish were available, however both their characters were ultimately not necessary. And at the other end of things, Mitch Pileggi is very underused; overall, Davis must have had more screen time than him!
Some Chris Carter quotes help to shed some light regarding continuity and resolution. From a recent interview:
You’ve switched up the conspiracy story. Why?
Carter: My feeling was that this had to follow perfectly from where the original series left off, but it didn’t necessarily have to take everything as gospel that had come before. I thought that was an interesting way to tell these stories. It was in keeping with what I’d been thinking about, certainly in keeping with the times that we’re living in.
And from a 2013 interview:
It was nine years of good storytelling, and even though a lot of people would like to see a third movie, I don’t think there’s a whole lot we need to elaborate on.
You think that, story-wise, you’ve come to a conclusion that you’re happy with?
[Long pause.] We did the work and I hope we did it well, and, you know, you move forward in life. And while it’s wonderful to be recognized twenty years out, I’m very excited about telling new stories.
What can be said with certainty is that the new X-Files is not back to do a “victory lap” for nostalgia’s sake — elements are repeated from the past but the story as a whole moves boldly forward with this episode. Whether future mythology episodes will offer more consistency to this new mythology and even attempt to reconcile it with what came before remains to be seen. I do expect the old informant of My Struggle to appear again and do exactly that in season 11. However the task seems daunting, and the self-imposed limitations to return to formulaic stand-alone episodes and always end the mythology on cliffhangers does not bode well. Despite moving forward, this revival’s mythology also gives the impression that the story can go on forever, from twist to twist, so long as Fox is willing to have it returned. In short, it’s no “victory lap” but it’s not a grandiose finale either. 7X22: Requiem remains the most narratively and cinematographically satisfying ending among all the endings The X-Files has had.
Despite all this, this is Chris Carter’s show, and “for better or for worse” I would not want to see anybody else telling these stories (although a more interactive writers’ room on the plotting would not hurt at all either). We are in 2016, the actors are in or nearly their fifties, and each time will be more difficult to convince (and pay) everyone for a return. A season 11 is a near-certainty, but beyond is a big mystery, and Carter should take this into account in his plotting of final episodes. Why then not focus exclusively on Mulder and Scully’s story? Already, they are becoming active in if only a postponement of the conspiracy’s plans; they now need to do away with their cigarette-smoking enemy; and resolve their issues with their son. Next season should be the one with the search and closure of the William storyline.
Annex: The good: The science
The good aspect of this episode is the science of it. Carter received the help of microbiologist Dr. Anne Simon and physician Dr. Margaret Fearon to come up with the ideas presented here, and both received a writing credit. These are truly laudable efforts for scientific veracity! Anne Simon, who wrote the book “The Real Science of The X-Files“, was the one behind the idea that humans have alien DNA inside them because the Black Oil virus, being a simple virus, needs that genetic material to create a gestating alien and would have been unable to do so otherwise; a sound scientific idea that had a huge impact on how the mythology evolved, from Fight the Future to 6X22: Biogenesis!
The events here consist in an epidemic of a multitude of diseases that occur because the immune systems of the entire population are not functioning. Without an immune system, germs that exist absolutely everywhere but for which we have built a resistance attack and can be deadly. Vaccines, which essentially consist in an injection of the disease itself in order for the organism to build a protection against, become sources of disease. Soldiers vaccinated against anthrax are the first to succumb: “the vaccines are attacking their systems“; Scully prescribes them doxycycline, which is an antibiotic indeed used for the treatment against the anthrax bacterium. And indeed, it is mandatory for US troops to be vaccinated against anthrax since 1997 with Clinton’s Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program (halted in 2004, restarted in 2006).
The immune system is failing because of a lack of “adenosine deaminase” (ADA), an enzyme key in the development and maintenance of the immune system. ADA is synthesized in the body thanks to specific genes. The immunodeficiency here is due to the gene coding for ADA has been removed. It was removed thanks to a gene editing technique that has been discussed a lot since its invention in 2012-2013: CRISPR/Cas9, described by Einstein as “RNA and a protein cutting genes at exact locations“.
CRISPR (Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats) are strands of DNA found in bacteria; combined with proteins, Cas, (CRISPR associated protein), they can identify and destroy DNA strands coming from a virus, they effectively give an acquired immunity to the cells or organism carrying them; combined with the Cas9 protein specifically, they can identify and cut a specific point in a larger DNA sequence, i.e. a technique for gene editing. In a multicellular organism the DNA can be edited in the organism’s cells or in the germline, those cells that pass down genetic material to the next generation (i.e. in animals, sperm and ova); and so CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to change the genome of a population and effect that change for the population’s descendants as well: “Something entering the germ line, something that would be passed down hereditarily”. CRISPR/Cas9 has already been used on human stem cells, and its use on human embryos is just beginning — barely a few weeks ago, its use for research on human embryos was permitted in the UK. This is cutting-edge science! The ethical and hazardous implications of its use are obvious.
It seems the CRISPR/Cas9 that we discover in the episode was effected on the population via their vaccination for smallpox. Smallpox vaccines were mandatory until 1972, after which the disease was considered eradicated; the last outbreak dates from 1977. Hidden inside the smallpox vaccination was a “Spartan virus“, a delivery of a CRISPR/Cas9 complex that would target the ADA gene in the host. However, the immunodeficiency started manifesting itself in the present day. Why it did not manifest itself immediately and how it got activated is not clear. Tad suggests the “spreading of a substance that triggers a genetic response” via chemtrails, however how that works is not detailed.
Everyone is affected. Everyone except those who have a specific bit of DNA that can “code for something that targets the Cas9 protein“, destroys it, and renders the deactivation of the immune system impossible. That is alien DNA, inserted in the genome of specific people during their abductions by men (staged as alien abductions). (It was probably inserted thanks to a gene editing technique that involved CRISPR/Cas9, but let’s not go in there.) Scully has it thanks to her abduction (see 2X08: One Breath and 5X02: Redux). She also mentions she has “extra nucleotides“, extra letters to the four-letter DNA code (C, G, A, T) that all Earth organisms share, that identify this part of her genome as alien (see the seminal 1X23: The Erlenmeyer Flask). Mulder doesn’t have it as his abduction (by what were, by all accounts, aliens, and not men like for Scully) was aiming to convert him into a Supersoldier; whatever remnants of Black Oil he had inside him (7X04: Amor Fati) they were “flushed” then and he was returned “in perfect health“, free of his previous diseases (8X18: Three Words).
Scully and Einstein perform a PCR (polymerase chain reaction, to multiply a DNA sequence) followed by agarose gel electrophoresis, twice, that allow them to identify and isolate the alien DNA bit. They use “primers from my sequence“; primers are short nucleic acid sequences that identify DNA strands and start their multiplication. The alien DNA is situated “near the centromere, on chromosome 17“, the middle part of one of 46 chromosomes in the human genome. Scully then creates bags labelled “Spartan virus vaccine 10ml” that can carry that alien DNA strand inside the body, and reactivate the ADA gene. How that part of alien DNA becomes part of the host’s genome is not detailed — is CRISPR/Cas9 to insert the gene involved?
Scully sees Mulder is very weak and says he would also need stem cells, to help rebuild his immune system along with the Spartan virus vaccine. To prevent their rejection, stem cells from a person genetically close is preferable — hence the mention of William. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, before they become specialized cells such as muscle or neurons. They can be acquired from an embryo, but also from adult, mainly from bone marrow.
It is quite complex! The CSM essentially quotes the science fiction seminal classic, H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” with his observation: “The ultimate irony. The defeat of the big-brained beasts by the tiniest unthinking microbes.” The novel ends with the invading aliens being killed by common bacteria they had no protection against:
“slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth”.