Tagline: "They're Watching"
An employee of the NSA and his wife reveal to Scully that they have a daughter that is presenting the exact same symptoms as William. The NSA has the means to conduct surveillance on everybody and everywhere. The Shadow Man, higher in the NSA hierarchy, is a Supersoldier that contacts Doggett and Scully with the purpose to lure Mulder out of hiding and kill him. His attempt is thwarted thanks to an iron compound that can destroy Supersoldiers.
Another Carter/Spotnitz script for what is certainly the most blatant example of why the X-Files shouldn't have gone as long as they did: sappy shipperism, out-of-character "Dearest Dana" e-mails (was this desperately shippy Scully a 'reference' to the geekiness of some online fans?), Scully as the weepy mom at home... and on top of that a cheesy anti-Supersoldier weapon, as if the Supersoldier storyline wasn't un-believable enough already. Let's not be only negative: the teaser montage over Tchaikovsky's magnificent "Barcarolle" was beautiful (despite its shippiness) and the whole Big Brother feel of a great part of the episode (George Orwell, "1984" (1948)) is very enjoyable and raises issues of invasion of privacy in the information age, of the loss of individual freedom, of abuse of power on behalf of the government -- epitomized by the tagline "They're Watching".
The organic Supersoldiers: more babies
Scully 'comes across' Patti and her husband; in fact their meeting was not fortuitous at all. After they're caught red-handed trying to take William, there's no reason why they would be lying to Scully, especially when Patti seems to be saying more than what her husband wanted her to say: Patti: "I want to protect William." Husband: "Enough! You want to get us killed?" Patti: "You [husband] said that they could help us." Scully: "That woman that I took in blew his cover. [...] That woman is truly scared for her child for the same reasons that I am. [...] That couple doesn't even necessarily trust the Shadow Man." The couple pretended to argue for Patti to gain Scully's trust and gain access to William. Patti and her husband wanted to talk to Scully because they want to "find out the truth about what our babies really are". Patti: "We have a daughter, Joy. There's something about her, something different. Just like there's something different with your son William." Joy seems to be exactly like William: "Several months ago you saw your son effect the movement of the mobile over his crib. He spun it as if with this mind. It happened to us the same way." For Patti to have a daughter like this, she must have been an abductee; that's possible, even if her husband works for the NSA: after all, Scully too was abducted because Mulder was becoming too much of a nuisance (2X06: Ascension), just as Patti may have been abducted because her husband may have had second thoughts over the morality of his job.
This confirms what 9X02: Nothing Important Happened Today II hinted at: there are other babies like William. Babies that are becoming organic versions of Supersoldiers under the influence of the modified Black Oil virus spread through the modified chloramine in tap water, that have telekinetic powers like William. An entire generation of babies, all born in 2001. After all this, Scully is left to wonder what is so special with her baby if there are thousands of organic Supersoldiers out there? (for that, see 9X11: Providence)
The husband was a National Security Agency (NSA) employee, working under the Shadow Man, who proves to be a Supersoldier: another infiltrated alien facsimile in a position of power. The NSA offices we see are an extensive surveillance system, with thousands of cameras and microphones in the most private and recluse places: "There is no middle of nowhere anymore". The means at the NSA's disposal are scary and intrusive. The Shadow Man knows everything about Scully, even that she had sex with Mulder, in that one fateful night of William's conception ("I know that on one lonely night you invited Mulder to your bed"). He even adds "I was as surprised as you are", as if to tease the audience with all these years of unreleased sexual tension and unconfirmed intimate relationships. This surveillace system is so extensive that it effectively prevents any character from doing anything without being monitored; it will be short-circuited in 9X17: William.
But Patti and her husband are manipulated by the husband's superior the Shadow Man. Patti: "We never meant to harm you. My husband was not a part of this." The husband was straightforward to the Shadow Man about their worries, he didn't know his true allegiance ("I have a supervisor who I've told everything I'm telling you about my daughter and your son and he started to look into it. We learned things about a Supersoldier program. Things he won't tell us. Crimes, he says, against innocent people."). The Shadow Man used them as mediators with Scully for his real plan: to reach Mulder, "to lure Mulder out". He even shoots at the husband to clear the way when the time comes. The Shadow Man contacts Doggett feigning he wants to reveal the identities of all the Supersoldiers, and "Mulder's the only person he'll give them to".
Doggett gets the opportunity to analyse the blood of a Supersoldier: it contains "some kind of weird DNA complex with iron or some damn thing". The presence of iron in their blood must be tied with their metal vertebra (8X21: Existence), which must serve as a central hub. In 8X15: DeadAlive, the 'newborn' Super-Billy Miles was "100% normal", no iron detected -- yet a few episodes later he has a vertebra. This is evidence of the evolution of a Supersoldier:
- first the 'rebirth' by shedding the skin and modifying in-depth the DNA;
- then a slow gathering of iron in the blood (by natural intake through nutrition probably; the Supersoldiers must eat a lot of red meat);
- the iron is then concentrated in a vertebra, which acts like the seat of the alien conscience in tandem with the brain.
All this is orchestrated by the alien part of the Supersoldier's DNA; for the organic Supersoldiers, the modified cloramine progressively fulfills that role. William seems to be in the second phase.
Scully confronts the Shadow Man in a quarry; like magic, the Shadow Man is pulled into the quarry's ore and just explodes. "The key to their destruction lies in the iron compound at that quarry." The Supersoldiers have their own kryptonite, which we'll later come to know is called magnetite (9X19/20: The Truth), an iron compound. They are not indestructible, there is something that can be used as a tool against them! The iron compound in their blood is of course different from the one that causes their destruction, but some chemical or perhaps electromagnetic interaction must be the cause for this instantaneous annihilation. Mulder, knowing he was followed by the Shadow Man, must have chosen that train station for the meeting spot because of its proximity to the quarry in case things turned bad ("because you knew"). Mulder must have learnt of the Supersoldiers' weak spot from his informant, who in The Truth he learns is the Cigarette-Smoking Man. Mulder comes on the train, the Shadow Man's murder of Patti's husband makes the train not to stop, and eventually nor Scully nor the Shadow Man (nor we) see Mulder. Let's better forget the closing "Until then, I remain forever yours, Dana"...
Scully's teaser voice-over: "One day, you'll ask me to speak of the truth of the miracle of your birth; to explain what is unexplained. And if I falter or fail on this day, know there is an answer, my child. A sacred, imperishable truth, but one you may never hope to find alone. Chance meeting your perfect other, your perfect opposite, your
protector and endangerer. Chance embarking with this other on the greatest of journeys, a search for truths fugitive and imponderable. If one day this chance may befall you, my son, do not fail or falter to seize it. The truths are out there. And if one day you should behold a miracle, as I have in you, you will learn the truth is not found in science or on some unseen plane, but by looking into your own heart and in that moment, you will be blessed and stricken. For the truest truths are what hold us together, or keep us painfully, desperately apart."
Man on the Street: "They're watching."
Scully: "You ever heard of the constitution?"
Shadow Man: "Yes. It's what allows foreign terrorists to live here and enjoy the American dream until time comes to destroy it."
Scully: "We're in the middle of nowhere!"
Shadow Man: "There is no middle of nowhere anymore, Agent Scully."
Scully: "Who authorizes you? I mean, what gives you the right? Who are you?!"
Shadow Man: "I'm the future, Agent Scully!"