X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

4X24: Gethsemane / 5X02: Redux / 5X03: Redux II

Case Profile

Gethsemane tagline: “Believe The Lie”
Redux tagline: “All Lies Lead To The Truth”

As Scully’s cancer goes critical, Mulder helps the uncovering of what could be an extraterrestrial body. Michael Kritschgau, employee of the Department of Defense, reveals that everything Mulder believes is a lie created and perpetuated by the government to cover its experimentations on the unwitting public on biotechnologies. Mulder stages his death as a suicide, using the transfigured body of the man he killed, an employee of the DoD who was doing surveillance on his apartment. Mulder goes undercover in a DoD facility, where he finds a cure for Scully’s cancer, while Scully covers for him. The extraterrestrial body was in fact created by the DoD, using the same material Scully was exposed to during her abduction, an abduction that was orchestrated by somebody in the FBI. The Cigarette-Smoking Man approaches Mulder and makes him an offer to quit the FBI and work for him. Mulder refuses and names Section Chief Blevins as the guilty man in the FBI. The Elder has the Cigarette-Smoking Man shot for disagreements with his way of doing things. Scully’s cancer goes into remission.

Field Report

With Fight the Future already scripted and being filmed in the hiatus between seasons 4 and 5, Carter chooses to end the excellent 4th season with a bang. These three episodes offer a complete, utter reversal of everything we were led to believe about the ‘Truth’ in the last 4 seasons, about the existence of aliens and the governmental conspiracy surrounding their presence. If the truth as we learn it from Michael Kritschgau would have turned out to be the definitive truth in the world of the series, the X-Files would have proven to be a harsh realistic criticism on post-war USA’s politics and business — but Carter would have a lot of explaining to do. The re-reversal back to ‘normal’ sci-fi will come with 5X14: The Red and the Black later in the season; nevertheless, the Redux trilogy remains as a gem of conspiracy theories and manipulation, a plunge into real-world politics. It is the big twist that Carter allows himself before the final line leading to the film and the major wrapping up of 6X11: Two Fathers/6X12: One Son. In these episodes, the quest for the Truth gains a chivalrous quality, a quest for a Holy Grail that more than ever becomes a very personal journey for our agents.

With dialogues on truth and faith on a conceptual level in Gethsemane, with a series of voice-overs over a great part of Redux I, and with a faustian offer with a smoking devil in Redux II, the X-Files reach unprecedented literary and cinematographic heights. The series of voice-overs in Redux, intercutting between the actions of both agents attempting to uncover the truth, each in his/her manner, is highly poetic! (and these voice-overs both end in a similar manner, the agents reaching their goals: Mulder gets Scully’s cure and Scully gets her PCR results of the virus) Also, rediscovering these episodes in DVD with a 16/9 format beginning with season 5 is a real joy!

Wheels within wheels

Central is the theme of manipulation and the personal agendas that clash or fit together, taking Mulder and Scully with them. Arlinsky needed Mulder to authentify and legitimize his discovery of the ‘alien’ body. The Department of Defense, with Babcock and Ostelhoff, manipulated Arlinsky and Mulder into falling for the hoax of the ‘alien’ body. Michael Kritschgau brought Mulder up to date into what he believed was the truth, all the while Kritschgau was being blackmailed by the DoD through his son Michael Junior, victim of the Gulf War Syndrome. The CSM manipulated both truths and lies to reach Mulder and offer him his deal. FBI section chief Scott Blevins cooperated with the Syndicate into abducting Scully and was still actively working with them. Alliances and hierarchies are formed in an abysmal game of lies and double-play. As a response, Mulder and Scully decide to take the upper hand and manipulate the FBI and the DoD themselves. Scully tells straight lies to an FBI panel as she covers for Mulder, who infiltrates a DoD facility.

The ultimate manipulation is from Carter himself, who devoted an entire episode into the setting up of an elaborate hoax. Throughout Gethsemane, the spectator is lead to believe that everything he held true in the mythology (ie aliens) is false; that Mulder, unable to cope with his part in Scully contracting cancer, committed suicide; that Scully was a ‘traitor’ working against Mulder these last 4 years (“to report on the illegitimacy of Agent Mulder’s work“); that she will inevitably die too from her cancer. What’s more, the events as described are possible and credible: after all, Scully was hired to debunk Mulder’s work at the very beginning, and Mulder committing suicide for his beliefs is not out of character at all. These beliefs are reinforced by the absence, against all odds, of a “To Be Continued” mention at the episode’s end! This cliffhanger that is not a cliffhanger led to many theories in the hiatus between seasons; the viewer thought that everything was lost, trust in Scully was broken and fans were theorizing on how Mulder would somehow resurrect… Hence the title: “Gethsemane” is the olive garden in Jerusalem where Jesus Christ prayed to God and was arrested by the Romans. It’s where Judas, by kissing Jesus, effectively betrayed him. And then in season 5, the events seen in Gethsemane are rewritten, proving that in fact Scully is much further involved with Mulder than previously thought, and that she’s willing to manipulate her direct superiors and the government that she used to trust in order to know the truth.

By the way, parts of the video Mulder watches on the possibility of extraterrestrial life and its implications is the video of a NASA symposium held at Boston University on November 20, 1972 titled “Life Beyond Earth and the Mind of Man“. Among the speakers are Ashley Montagu, social biologist with holistic views on the development of the human civilization, and Carl Sagan, exobiologist who worked greatly for the popularization of scientific ideas (absolutely see his documentary series “COSMOS” (1980)!).

Rewriting history

The sequence where Mulder and Kritschgau walk in the hallways of the Department of Defense’s facility and Kritschgau debunks 50 years’ worth of UFO lore is so dense and fast-paced it would be worthy to have it copied and pasted here. Kritschgau’s version of events puts to the front the ‘military-industrial complex’ (a phraseology rendered popular by US President Eisenhower’s famous departure from office speech in 1961) and how it fed and spread misinformation on the fabricated phenomenon of UFO sightings, how it took profit from this phenomenon from its beginning, and how it succeeded in formating public opinion and popular culture as a result.

Under this new light, public opinion becomes a powerful player to be accounted for; in an increasingly democratic world, it could be a threat when turned against the actions of the government; and on the other hand, in an increasingly mediatized world, it could be a tool that can build and destroy reputations and popularize events and beliefs.

The theory (one could say interpretation of events) that the military-industrial complex and the health of the US economy are tied through the positive feedback loop of war or war mongering is the same supported by Oliver Stone’s “JFK” (1991). JFK‘s scenes of the mysterious “X” exposing the conspiracy behind President Kennedy’s assassination is reminescent of Kritschgau’s scene in meaning, content, tempo and editing; surely JFK was an inspiration for writer Carter and director Goodwin.

With Kritschgau’s walk-through, all the events of the Cold War are rewritten through the lens of UFO and conspiracy theories — and they are all the more believable that the first part of Kritschgau’s speech concerns entirely ‘true’ events and descriptions of the Cold War: Hiroshima; Nagasaki; Oppenheimer, the ‘inventor’ of the nuclear bomb, and his disapproval of nuclear warfare; the signature of the end of the Second World War; Senator McCarthy and his ‘witch hunt’ of communists on US soil; Nikita Khrushchev, USSR chief director 1953-64; Ike Eisenhower, US President 1953-61; nuclear bombs and tests; the Korean war of 1950-53; the Cuban missile crisis of 1962; the Vietnam war of 1965-73; the balance of terror through the menace of nuclear warfare; the military-industrial complex needing a state of fear and war in order to boost the economy… In this historical context, the X-Files weave in their own mythology: UFOs are experimental supersonic aircrafts; cover stories are made up; “the more we denied it, the more people thought it was true: aliens had landed“. Bogus information is fed to official investigations: Projects Sign (1947-1949), Grudge (1949-1951), Twinkle (1950-1951) and Blue Book (1952-1970), all these are true names for investigations into aerial phenomena and alleged alien activity that concluded that there might be something out there, but in the confusion of the creation and dismantlement of a multitude of projects they hardly made their voices heard.

The DoD’s secret policy and the manipulation of the X-Files

The turn of events is so complete that after Gethsemane and Redux I we are left to wonder if Kritschgau was right and there are no aliens. Later episodes will put the mythology back on track, but what was the point of this reversal then? What good to go to such great lengths to create a conspiracy within the DoD that diverts attention from experiments conducted by very human organizations by spreading the belief that aliens are among us? — by spreading what amounts to be the definitive truth? The answer is none other than the whole point of conspiracies and top secret projects: for nobody to know what’s really going on. By spreading truths hidden between lies, publicising the whole as lies to the DoD serves a double purpose. For the public, plausible deniability is created concerning the experiments run by the DoD.

For the DoD, for people aware that this is a campaign of misinformation but unaware of the Syndicate’s deeds, their limited knowledge insures that if they ever hear of aliens or of collaboration with aliens, they will regard it as yet another piece of a larger-than-life top secret program of misinformation of the public; the truth will be discarded as a lie because DoD personnel like Kritschgau were trained to believe a lie, their work involves handling parts of the truth as a lie. This way, the truth is lost among a web of lies; by creating wheels within wheels of information, not one person ends up knowing the whole truth. The Syndicate, as the only possessor of the truth, is the only winner of this game. How many times is there the word ‘truth’ in this paragraph already?

In light of this shroud of lies between the Syndicate and the DoD, the role of the X-Files as another tool for public misinformation is clear. If Mulder is lead to believe in aliens, abductions and experiments, he will spread this information. Those (few) who believe him won’t look to the DoD for the culprit, but to the skies; those who don’t will believe he’s crazy. The net gain for the conspirators is the confusion of the masses. The Syndicate’s First Elder assigned Scott Ostelhoff, an “employee of the Department of Defense“, to do surveillance on Mulder’s apartment (CSM: “You [Elder]’ve been watching Mulder. You had a man on him.“). It was quite predictable that Mulder & Scully were under surveillance by the Syndicate or the DoD, just to keep them on check and prevent them from being too nosy. It’s surprising the agents got that far in the first place (that’s obviously creative licence, but also the Syndicate can’t go around killing everybody)! This surveillance of apartments could be yet another reference to the Watergate scandal.

Biowarfare extraordinaire

Enough cover stories and plausible deniability existed for above top-secret projects to be carried out. “This is about control, of the very elements of life: DNA — yours, mine, everyone’s.” As Mulder wanders in big Kafka-esque halls in secret parts of the DoD facility, we hear again how every US citizen is vaccinated, identified, filed and classified in large file depositories (3X02: Paper Clip, 3X24: Talitha Cumi, 4X01: Herrenvolk, 5X02: Redux).

Everything is tied up with the Cold War policy of stimulating the economy and industry with a neverending arms race — and more particularly with the next best thing after the atom bomb as far as enemy annihilation is concerned: biological weapons. After the Second World War, biological weapons increased in significance and complexity, gaining from the advances in life sciences. They were never more talked about than today, when the human genome is ‘decoded’, when scientists promise medicine that will adapt or use the patient’s genome to fight a disease, when huge amounts of money are placed in bio-engineering start-ups. As Kritschgau says, “The line between science and science fiction doesn’t exist any more.” Biowarfare but also biotechnology in the private sector as well is becoming so advanced that discoveries or inventions that would have seemed too incredible in the past are commonly making headlines today: new pharmaceutical R&D into proteins synthesized in terrestrial orbit, patient-specific drug delivery methods to fight AIDS, GMOs to fight world hunger…

Throughout the Cold War to today, the quality of the bioweapons goes increasing in complexity, effectiveness and stealth: “It was developmental then, nothing like what we and the Russians have now.” Kritschgau also references the incident in the Korean War (1950-53): “Germ warfare. We were accused of using it in the Korea.” US planes would have spread disease-carrying bees and insects to trigger a plague in the population (would that be where Carter got his idea for the bees carrying the Black Oil?). The veracity of these claims by China and North Korea has not been certified as of this day, as there is still the possibility that this was just Soviet misinformation (“We almost got caught in Korea, an ambitious misstep. China and the Soviets knew it. The UN got all heated up at us.“). Kritschgau also references the highly active US army General Douglas McArthur, who fought the two World Wars and the Korean War (“They even hooked Doug MacArthur, for God’s sake“); his ‘victory at all costs’ militaristic attitude during the Korean War caused his removal from command by President Truman. All the way to the (first) Gulf War (1990-91) between the USA and Iraq: “The bio-weapons used in the Gulf War were so ingenious as to be almost undetectable.”

In the belly of the beast

Kritschgau’s Research Facility in Sethberg seems to be entirely dedicated to the creation of bioweapons (“Developed in this very building“). It is not named but all the descriptions fit: the DoD’s Research Facility in Sethberg where Kritschgau works must be part of the DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It is an ageny of the DoD created in 1958, research and technology oriented, responsible for providing the military with innovative technology. Its current projects do sound very much like science fiction, but they are very real projects (Combat Zones That See, Tissue Regeneration…) — obviously a very attractive organization for conspiracy theorists and writers!

Following hallways and accessing rooms with his stolen card, in Level 4 of the facility, Mulder sees women being experimented on, in a very similar manner Scully and other abductees had been treated (2X06: Ascension, 3X09: Nisei): lying on tables, lit by a grid pattern from beneath, their stomach pumped big; the flashing light might be a means to disorient the women for later memory suppression, or a sign that they are being exposed to radiation. We were lead to believe such experiments were conducted in train cars under the guidance of Syndicate expert doctors such as Dr. Zama but parts take place in DoD facilities as well. The DoD infrastructures are bigger and better equipped; the train boxcars must be used in exclusive occasions, to move patients around or to conduct specific experiments. A possible reason could be that war criminals who were granted US entry (under project Paperclip or something similar), or that are considered deceased (such as Dr. Zama/Ishimaru), cannot be given access to DoD buildings.

Through an underground passage, Mulder leaves the Research Facility and reaches the Pentagon, using the same doors we had seen CSM use — Mulder reaches the belly of the beast! What Mulder sees is a storage facility with “an old and antiquated filing system” containing entries for every US citizen — a filing system akin to the one in the Strughold Mines in 3X02: Paper Clip. This system seems to be of internal use: each entry contains name and date of birth and a series of codes and numbers, each of which could be a reference pointing to another facility or archiving system (for medical files, tissue samples, SEP protein codes…). Mulder uses the code in red (MN 1068-06) to get to the tube containing the chip adapted to Scully’s body and cancer. Mulder must have walked past the hallways the CSM used to store implants (1X79: Pilot) or fake alien fetuses (1X23: The Erlenmeyer Flask)!

The chimera: more Black Oil

The Gulf War is also mentioned in 4X10: Terma. Krycek’s nationalist-terrorist ‘friend’ Mayhew said that the Black Cancer was “developed by the Soviets. Saddam [Hussein] used it in the Gulf.” Scully: “You mean used as biowarfare?” Mayhew: “Why do you think they made them servicemen take all them pills? U.S. Government knew about the Black Cancer.” The Gulf War syndrome could then be attributed to the Russians’ Black Cancer bioweapon — a weaponised Black Oil. In these final days of the Cold War, Black Cancer was forwarded to the hands of Iraqi leaders to fight against the US soldiers. The US DoD would then have got ahold of Black Cancer exclusively from the Russians, not from another source of their own — which is consistent with their lack of knowledge if it (the Well-Manicured Man in 3X16: Apocrypha) and their struggle to get more of it (4X09/4X10: Tunguska/Terma).

Thus Black Oil DNA, under the guise of an advanced (but conventional) russian bioweapon, made its way to the US DoD and the military-industrial complex, with no particular actions from the Syndicate.

The DoD then used this biomaterial internally; its scientists hybridized it with other elements to obtain the chimera species we see. “Plant or animal?” Dr. Vitagliano: “I don’t know. It’s what I’d have to classify as a chimera. A hybrid cell.” Scully: “The scientifically engineered creation of a chimera, an unclassified biological product“. A chimera isn’t actually a hybrid, in a sense. A chimera contains two kinds of tissue originating from two different species; two genomes are expressed, separately but in the same body. A hybrid is the result of mixing two different genomes into a single one; parts of the two genomes are expressed as well, but the body only has a single genome. “I put some of the cells in media containing fetal bovine serum. And the cells began to divide.“: given enough nutritients, these chimera cells start to multiply. A monocellular organism only does that, divide itself to multiply its numbers. A more complex organism develops a more cohesive cell conglomeration, a body: “they began to go through the stages of morula, blastula, gastrula“. These are indeed the early stages of embryonic development, where the body has only a few dozens to a few hundred cells, then going through “somatic development“, the development of a body. Given enough time in Dr. Vitagliano’s lab, the chimera cells would have grown to a full-size alien-like entity. It’s very likely this artificial life form wouldn’t be viable, wouldn’t be able to survive as a natural life form would — thus the loads of dead bodies Mulder sees in Kritschgau’s facility, each one destined to be part of an elaborate hoax such as the one he was victim of with the Yukon discovery.

Interesting to note that through hybridization and genetic manipulation, the being that turned out doesn’t possess the infectious properties of the Black Oil; instead, it looks much more mammalian, perhaps purposely like the standard greys of popular culture.

With this high level of biotechnology at hand, this ‘alien body’ chimera presented to us in the episodes doesn’t seem as implausible anymore. This also serves the Syndicate’s purposes: a hybrid being made with elements of the alien Black Oil DNA combined with DNA from other terrestrial species is possible and credible. More importantly, people in the business like Kritschgau are ready to believe that such an alien-like being can be created using terrestrial-only species without resorting to extraterrestrials: its existence is not enough to make them suspect there is really something alien behind it. What’s more, it reinforces their belief that the DoD will go to great extents and expenses to spread these false stories on aliens. DoD scientists can manipulate Black Oil DNA without suspecting its true origin. Again, the result is that nobody knows the truth but the Syndicate.

Black Oil, the cancer and the chip

Scully is able to locate a virus within the chimera cells. All the tests Scully performs during the voice-overs in Redux are genuine: it is a Southern blot using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) — though the Southern blot here gave results much faster than in real life — that enable her to compare her own DNA with this viral DNA

(“Taking cellular material from the unidentified life form and isolating a virus contained within it, then matching the DNA from this virus with that which I believe has caused my cancer.“). The match in the PCR slides is clear proof that there was Black Oil genetic material used in the chimera, since Scully had been subject of hybridization experiments with Black Oil during her abduction (see 2X08: One Breath). Indeed, Kitschgau and Scully repeatedly say that the virus inside the chimera and inside Scully’s genome as a waste product was the one that caused her cancer (“biological proof of this connection to the cancer invading my body to a virus living inside this organism to which I had been exposed during my abduction three years ago.“).

As was established by 3X09: Nisei, the removal of an abductee’s implant removes all barriers of containment of malignant tumors that would normally develop after the experiments done on an aductee — malignant tumors created by the imperfect integration of alien genes into the human abductee’s DNA. An implant ensures the health and monitoring of an abductee. Its removal causes cancer and leads to death: conveniently enough it’s a way to get rid of reluctant abductees who tamper with their implants. Thus, placing another implant, or chip, in Scully’s neck is nothing more than a return to the previous state and the remission of Scully’s cancer is due to the chip taking control of her body. It’s not a “cure” per se, because she still has to keep the chip inside her for the rest of her life, but it’s the closest thing there is to it. By the way, the “deionized water” the Lone Gunmen find in the tube Mulder recovers from the Pentagon is an agent protecting the chip from corrosion; Byers just didn’t look hard enough for the chip.

It is unclear though how this Redux chip/implant is different from the initial one. The old chip couldn’t be implanted back in Scully’s neck because Pendrell had destroyed it while examining it (3X10: 731).

‘Mythologically speaking’, the chip is what ‘cures’ the cancer, but of course, Mulder & Scully don’t necessarily know all that. The realistic approach of explaining the nuts and bolts of the episodes takes much away from the themes the episodes want to explore. At episode’s end, nobody knows what made Scully’s cancer go away (Mulder: “I don’t know. I don’t think we’ll ever know.“). The debate whether or not to use this chip Mulder found, and the storyline of Scully’s compicated relationship with her christian faith point to a set of three possiblilities for the source of Scully’s cure: faith, science or ‘something else’. Faith in her accepting to see Father McCue and pray with him in her final moments; science (what she normally believes in) in the treatment the doctors administer her in the hospital; and ‘something else’ with this chip of origin unknown, which might contain alien technology, coming from sinister powers superior to the common man.

Roush Technologies

Scully’s abduction was orchestrated by the Syndicate, there was no doubt about that. Only that the Syndicate alone is nothing but a group of influential people (see 6X11: Two Fathers). It does not have the means to actually conduct such large projects; it does however have enough power and influence to make others work for it. The DoD, the military, the Pentagon, Kritschgau’s Research Facility, the FBI, they can all be influenced by one Syndicate member or another in their official capacity as high executives of these organizations. It’s quite possible that CSM’s job description is an envoyé of the DoD to the FBI, or that the Elder works in the DARPA overseeing committee. The Syndicate can then use facilities and manpower to its own purposes.

There are however more ties to the Syndicate than just official positions. In his testimony, Kritschgau names Roush: “Part of my remuneration has come from another source. A Congressional lobbying firm. Something called ‘Roush’” and Skinner describes it as a biotechnology company called Roush, which is somehow connected to all this“.

Roush Technologies seems to be the ‘official’ front for the Syndicate: a firm that officially exists as a biotechnology company lobbying for allocations from Congress, but that unofficially gives extra payment to selected persons in exchange for their silence or their cooperation in a Syndicate matter (Kritschgau, Blevins). The ‘Syndicate’ name takes all its meaning here. It is also possible that Roush Technologies was the prime contractor with the DoD for the development of the chimera and the manipulation of the Black Cancer. The military-industrial complexoperates with contracts and subcontracts for the development of aerospace appliances, biological material or other technologies. As we see in 6X01: The Beginning, Roush Technologies has the means to be a major defense contractor in the biowarfare sector. This way, the Syndicate could also procure itself with Black Cancer or Black Oil material.

Kritschgau and the Yukon body hoax

Michael Lee Kritschgau, employee of the DoD, is a man with high moral values who has a long career behind him in the DoD. “I ran the DoD’s agitprop arm for a decade.” Agitprop is a contraction for ‘agitation and propaganda’, a term used to describe the corresponding department in the USSR. Kritschgau is aware of the ins and outs of the DoD’s secret programs. In order to prevent him from talking to people like Mulder, as he probably was tempted to, the DoD had his son fall ill in the Gulf War (“came back sick from the Gulf War“). This is an obvious reference to the infamous Gulf War syndrome. XF mythology had already attributed it to UFO activity and radiation (1X16: E.B.E.); here its source would be the weaponized Black Cancer.

Kritschgau’s involvement with Mulder ended up costing his son’s life: Michael Lee Jr died on the day his father went forward with his testimony on “government involvement in a conspiracy against the American people” to the FBI. But Kritschgau is no less a pawn than Mulder is with respect to the truth. His return with a change of mind in 7X03: The Sixth Extinction makes him an even more interesting character.

Along with Scott Ostelhoff, Kritschgau was responsible for the Yukon body hoax Mulder fell for. An ‘alien’ body was placed in a remote site in Yukon by Ostelhoff and Babcock (a scientist in the Smithsonian Institute). The site was isolated enough for the whole story to be credible (as Mulder says, “If you’re going to go, why not go all the way?”) The illusion of the body being 200 years old was maintained by pouring very meticulously water and sediments progressively over the body (Dr. Vitagliano: “This sample has numerous levels of sedimentation, like the rings on a tree essentially”; Kritschgau: “Frozen into place over the course of a year using sentiment and materials that would bear out its age, poured through a small channel drilled in the rock above.”). Later, the workers that excavated the body found evidence of this, but Babcock dismissed him (“Or a casing channel. A pour hole. Liquid poured in from the side or above somehow.”). Babcock somehow pulled a “Canadian geodetic survey team” to the site, where they discovered the body. Babcock enlisted Arlinsky, a forensic anthropologist and colleague of Babcock, who in turn brought Mulder on the case.

The goal of the hoax was to have the body found, examined, shown to the right ‘believers’ who would then spread the word to the world, and then take it away. Kritschgau: “You were only meant to see it, to make you believe the lie, so that you might finally commit and go public with the news.” However credible the body was — and it was complete enough to conduct an autopsy — it would have been proven fake under even closer examination and a carbon dating test. Mulder makes a reference to the Piltdown Man hoax, a famous fraud in paleoanthropology where evidence of the evolutionary ‘missing link’ between ape and man was proved to be a collection of human, elephant and orangutang bones. Kritschgau was the one who took care of cleaning up the evidence in Dr. Vitagliano’s Paleoclimatology labs of the American University (stealing the ice core samples), where he ‘bumps’ into Scully (“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I had no choice.“). Meanwhile, Ostelhoff killed the excavation team and wounded Babcock so that his survival would be credible; Babcock ‘hid’ the body, further proof for his ‘commitment’ to making the truth known. After the autopsy, Ostelhoff killed Arlinsky, and completes his spree by killing Babcock as well (as he was the only one who knew this was a hoax) and stole the body. As Kritschgau cynically admits, “the timing of the hoax was planned so Agent Scully wouldn’t be alive to do the examination.” This manipulation of the X-Files would have worked perfectly if Scully hadn’t caught Kritschgau.

Blevins’ involvement

FBI Section Chief Scott Blevins, the man who recruited Scully to the X-Files and apparently Skinner’s superior officer, is named as the man responsible for what happened to Scully. Blevins openly offered Mulder sanctuary if he named Skinner; fresh from another offer by the CSM, Mulder understood he’s being manipulated once again. Blevins was named, he panicked, and he was executed by his Senior Agent, the whole thing staged as a suicide following a scandal in the FBI. The Senior Agent, whom we saw at Blevins’ side in the Pilot (and also in 2X25: Anasazi and 4X01: Herrenvolk) seems to take over from Blevins as the Syndicate tie (note that before he execute Blevins, he’s in Blevins’ office talking to the phone). Blevins’ guilt is definitely established when it is later found out that “Blevins had been on payroll for four years to a biotechnology company called Roush, which is somehow connected to all this” (Skinner).

Blevins’s role, however, is unclear. His guilt is a bit hard to follow, especially since Blevins had not been seen or named since the Pilot, and for all intents and purposes his role had been replaced in the series by Skinner ever since 1X20: Tooms. Roush had been paying Blevins for 4 years, and that’s how long Mulder & Scully have been paired. Ostelhoff was accountable to Blevins directly, as evidenced by the phonecalls Ostelhoff made to the FBI (Mulder: “directed that my apartment be surveilled by the DoD“). Ostelhoff lead our agents to Kritschgau’s Research Facility and ultimately to Blevins. Blevins was then accountable to the Syndicate’s First Elder.

Blevins is also named as the man that “could be tied to […] the terminal disease inflicted on Scully” on many occasions. How exactly Blevins is responsible for that is not explained. Perhaps he was the one that directed Duane Barry to Scully’s house (2X05: Duane Barry); or the one who coordinated the helicopter that picked her up from Skyland Mountain (2X06: Ascension); or the one responsible from her transfer from the abduction site to one experimentation facility or other (DARPA, Pentagon, train box cars) or her return to the hospital (2X08: One Breath). One way or the other, Blevins was involved as a Syndicate associate to the events that eventually lead Scully having cancer.
The Cigarette-Smoking Man’s deal

In 2X06: Ascension, the CSM said “Kill Mulder and you risk turning one man’s religion into a crusade” in order to justify his protection of Mulder. What becomes apparent with Redux II is that there is much more to it. The CSM cares a lot about Mulder and wouldn’t want to see him hurt, and this is a very personal issue with leads him to clash with other members of the Syndicate. The CSM’s selfishness and pride are established facts and he is known to be condescendent or to straight out lie in order to protect his aura of superiority. He already has put his self above the safety of the Project (the DAT tape affair in 3X02: Paper Clip) and distrust has been growing against him as word of his badly handled matters comes out (the Well-Manicured Man finding out about the tape in 3X16: Apocrypha). In Redux I & II, there is a complete lack of communication between the First Elder and the CSM. The Elder is realistic about Mulder being more of a nuisance than a benefit and wouldn’t mind seeing him dead, whereas the CSM is fixedly set on his grand scheme for Mulder. The Elder hadn’t told the CSM about the surveillance of Mulder’s apartment and continues denying he was even aware of it. The CSM only finds out by visiting Mulder’s apartment in disbelief of Mulder’s alleged suicide: light is coming through the peep hole in the ceiling, where Ostelhoff’s camera was; somebody (most likely Mulder) cleaned everything up in the apartment above.

I’ve always kept Mulder in check. I put this whole thing together. I created Mulder.” Indeed, Mulder and the X-Files seem to be the CSM’s pet project. In a very fatherly manner, the CSM has followed Mulder’s carreer in the FBI, helped him create the X-Files with Diana Fowley (5X20: The End), prevented his co-workers in the Syndicate from killing Mulder (surely the alternative of abducting Scully to put pressure on Mulder was his idea, see 2X04: Sleepless) and however harsh he may have seemed (2X25: Anasazi, 3X16: Apocrypha) he has never intended to get rid of Mulder completely. The X-Files were a proving ground for Mulder: if he doesn’t manage or dies, it’s the nature of the challenge; if he lives, he will have proven worthy to stand at the CSM’s side in a worldwide conspiracy. CSM: “His new loyalty to us. As I’ve said all along, Mulder’s much more valuable to us alive.

The CSM tried to tease Mulder by offering him bits and pieces of the knowledge he could access only by joining him. He allows Mulder to access the Research Facility and the Pentagon and not be arrested. He tells Mulder to check more carefully in the tube for the cure for Scully’s cancer — unfortunately for the CSM the effect of the chip is not immediate and Mulder has trouble believing what he says is true. He reunites Mulder with Samantha — or who Mulder is lead to believe is Samantha. This was not Samantha (6X11: Two Fathers); she was a cloned hybrid like the ones in 2X16: Colony & 2X17: End Game. The CSM either brainwashed the clone to make her say her made-up story to Mulder, or promised her some kind of freedom if she accepted to do that (freedom she probably never got). The story the Samantha says is interesting: Samantha would be the CSM’s daughter, an additional way to bring Mulder closer together with the CSM (along with the suspicions that the CSM is Mulder’s father, the CSM seems to be the father of everybody — Tom Braidwood had once joked Frohike’s father was the CSM as well!).

There is no talk of aliens: a childhood with a caring father then a life as normal as any other, now with children of her own. Then she disappears in the nameless city again; Mulder is left with the knowledge that his sister is somewhere in this web of asphalt and concrete, but with no way to contact her. At the end of Redux II, handling the blooded family picture, Mulder also cries for losing Samantha once again: with the CSM dead, there goes his chance to find her.

The CSM really manipulated Mulder to force his hand in joining him. But no matter how much the CSM had idealized this and hoped that Mulder would see the light, in his over-self-assurance the CSM didn’t weight enough the fact that Mulder hates his guts. Mulder refuses. After this, the CSM won’t approach Mulder again; instead, he will turn his eyes to his other son and apply the same method (6X01: The Beginning). But the CSM put a lot of himself in this long-term plan and the risks he took with the Elder for defying him on the Mulder question ended up costing him dearly. The Elder orders the CSM’s execution; the shooter (‘Quiet Willy’) is seen again in 5X13: Patient X. The CSM is shot in the chest while he was contemplating on Fox and Samantha and what life has brought about them, holding the picture of the siblings he took from Mulder’s apartment.

Skinner’s role

How the CSM survived is a mystery. It would not make sense for Quiet Willy to set up a rifle and shoot from a distance only to get in the apartment and take the body afterwards. Certainly the CSM had some help for treating his wounds and loss of blood and for his escape to Quebec (5X14: The Red and the Black). All the suspicions fall on Skinner: he tells Mulder that the CSM is dead even though there was no body found. Perhaps Skinner came to his apartment to force the CSM’s hand for a cure for Scully, this time not hesitating to pull the trigger (4X21: Zero Sum).

The only motive Skinner would have to help the CSM would be the hope that the CSM would return the favor. However irritating the CSM is, without him Skinner would have to deal with some other Syndicate member, somebody unknown — probably somebody harsher judging by the Elder’s radical method of taking care of things — and the devil you known is always better than something else. Skinner saving the CSM was actually an idea that William B. Davis pitched to Carter for an episode in season 6 or 7! Another possibility is that the Well-Manicured Man saved the CSM (since he’s the one who sends Krycek to get him back in 5X20: The End), similarly safeguarding him for returning the favor in the future — but this theory is less plausible, especially since the WMM is completely absent in these episodes.

Throughout Redux I & II, the viewer is lead to believe Skinner is the guilty man inside the FBI on many occasions. Scully was about to name him in the hearing, which would have suited Blevins perfectly — and it would not have been the first time the Syndicate would intent to use Skinner as a scapegoat. Skinner also appears outside Dr. Vitagliano’s lab; Scully believes he’s following her, but it’s more likely he was there to finish Kritschgau’s job: Skinner was there to clean up the evidence, steal the ice core samples and the chimera cell cultures. Evidently, that’s what happens at the end: CSM or no CSM, Skinner still has to answer to the Syndicate. Once again, Mulder & Scully are left with no evidence. Skinner himself says: “They’re cleaning up, taking everything away”, which is highly ironic and also bitter for this man who has to lie to the very persons he’s trying to protect.

Skinner is also seen attending a US Senate hearing on human cloning. These episodes were made around the time Scottish scientists successfully cloned the first mammal, the sheep Dolly (February 1997), and Congressional hearings were abound on the issues of human cloning. The hearings Skinner attends to (in fact real images of the hearings composited with Mitch Pileggi’s image) lead to the adoption of the Human Cloning Prohibition Act in February 1998. As the Elder says, “he’s gathering information”; Skinner learnt of Roush Technologies from Kritschgau and has followed the trail to Congress. Evidently, the Elder is observing the hearings from television in order to direct the lobbying actions of Roush Technologies from afar (oddly enough, the Elder fancies horseriding, just like the Well-Manicured Man in 4X09: Tunguska). Seeing Skinner there only means there was a leak in the FBI.

Elder: “Our colleague [the CSM] was supposed to have fixed the FBI problem. You will fix it now.” This phonecall was probably made to Blevins, as the offer from Blevins to Mulder to incriminate Skinner is made to Mulder the following morning. Later, Skinner must have been forced not to investigate further, or all Roush ties to the Congress were cut.

A partnership strengthened

Thus ends the highly emotional cancer arc for Scully. To uncover the truth, Mulder & Scully willfully mislead their superiors and go further than ever before. Scully accepts to lie to the FBI; the time when she was going entirely by the book in candid devotion to the authorities is past. As Mulder says, “I have never seen her integrity waver or her honour compromised“; they are both partners in an even fuller sense after this. Following these developments, the faith of the two agents is reversed. Mulder loses his faith in the existence of extraterrestrials and approaches things more down-to-earth (beliefs that were already shaken with the rationalizing events in 4X08: Paper Hearts and 4X23: Demons), whereas Scully turns to God in the face of impending death despite her initial reluctance.

The strength of Scully is impressive, and not only for a television female character of the 1990s: she is under great physical stress with her illness, she tumbles down the stairs while trying to catch up Kritschgau, but she still manages to bravely arrest Kritschgau, to soundly carry out scientific reasoning and buy time for Mulder — and this is a compliment for the portrayal Gillian Anderson offers as well. Her family is very protective of her; Bill Scully Jr clearly dislikes Mulder a lot — understandable enough, since Mulder’s quest was the cause of Melissa’s death, and nearly Dana’s as well. Only that Scully is no longer pulled into it by Mulder, she is as much involved as he is. This trilogy has been accused of integrating too many soap opera elements to the X-Files, namely with the Scully family, but frankly it is hardly noticeable, and with such a dense mytharc it’s good to have some non-congested human scenes as well.

What an intense explosive finale for Redux II! With lots of things happening at the same time (Mulder’s testimony, Scully’s prayers, the executions of Blevins and the CSM…), this scene is reminiscent of the famous baptism scene at the end of Coppola’s “The Godfather Part I” (1972), Michale Corleone’s purge of his enemies intercut with the baptism of his nephew, a scene where the editing and the music play a big part as well. For episode 100, this was certainly a success!

When I was watching Redux for the first time, at the decisive scene where we see Mulder considering suicide, and this happened right before Kritschgau calls him, somebody called me and interrupted the episode. Spooky!

Surveillance Recodings


Scully: “Four years ago, Section Chief Blevins assigned me to a project you all know as the X-Files. As I am a medical doctor with a background in hard science, my job was to provide an analytical prospective on the work of Special Agent Fox Mulder, whose investigations into the paranormal were fueled by a personal belief that his sister had been abducted by aliens when he was 12. I come here today, four years later, to report on the illegitimacy of Agent Mulder’s work. That it is my scientific opinion that he became over the course of these years a victim. A victim of his own false hopes and of his beliefs in the biggest of lies.”

Scully: “This is your holy grail, Mulder. Not mine.”
Mulder: “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Scully: “It just means proving to the world the existence of alien life is not my last dying wish.”
Mulder: “What about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny? This is not some selfish pet project of mine, Scully. I’m as skeptical of that man as you are. But proof, definitive proof of sentient beings sharing the same time and existence with us, that would change everything. Every truth we live my would be shaken to the ground. There’s no greater revelation imaginable, no greater scientific discovery.”
Scully: “You already believe, Mulder. What difference would it make? I mean, what would proof change for you?”
Mulder: “If someone could prove to you the existence of God, would it change you?”
Scully: “Only if it were disproven.”
Mulder: “Then you accept the possibility that belief in God is a lie?”
Scully: “I don’t think about it, actually, and I don’t think it can be proven.”
Mulder: “But what if it could be? Wouldn’t that knowledge be worth seeking? Or is it just easier to go on believing the lie?”

Mulder: “After all I’ve seen and experienced, I refuse to believe that it’s not true!”
Scully: “Because it’s easier to believe the lie. Isn’t it?”
Mulder: “What the hell did that guy say to you, that you believe his story?”
Scully: “He said that the men behind this hoax, behind these lies, gave me this disease to make you believe.”

Scully: “Agent Mulder died late last night from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”


Mulder (teaser voice-over): “I’ve held a torch in the darkness to glance upon a truth unknown. An act of faith begun with an ineloquent certainty that my journey promised the chance, not just of understanding, but of recovery. That the disappearance of my sister, 23 years ago, would come to be explained. And that the pursuit of these greater truths about the existence of extraterrestrial life might even reunite us. A belief which I now know to be false and uninformed in the extreme. My folly revealed by facts which illuminate both my arrogance and self-deception. If only the tragedy had been mine alone, might it be more easy tonight to bring this journey to its end.”

Mulder: “As they lie to us, we can lie to them. A lie to find the truth.”

Mulder (voice-over): “Let the truth be known though the heavens fall. The web of lies entangling us can now be connected back to the very institution which brought us together. The facts supported by a byzantine plot, executed by someone inside the FBI who, if named could be tied to the hoax meant to destroy me. And to the terminal disease inflicted on Scully. In four years, I have shared my partner’s passionate search for the truth. And if my part has been a deception, I have never seen her integrity waver or her honor compromised. But now, I ask her to lie, to the people that lied to us. A dangerous lie to find the truth. To find the men who would be revealed as its enemy. As our enemy. As the enemy within.”

Kritschgau: “The American appetite for bogus revelation, Agent Mulder.”
Mulder: “But I’ve seen aliens. I’ve witnessed these things.”
Kritschgau: “You’ve seen what they wanted you to see. The line between science and science fiction doesn’t exist any more.”

CSM: “I’ve never underestimated Mulder. I still don’t.”

Scully (voice-over): “If my work with Agent Mulder has tested the foundation of my beliefs, science has been and continues to be my guiding light. Now I’m again relying on its familiar and systematic methods to arrive at a truth, a fact that might explain the fate that has befallen me. An investigation that began without, now turning within. […] If science serves me to these ends it is not lost on me that the tool which I’ve come to depend on absolutely cannot save or protect me but only bring into focus the darkness that lies ahead.”

Redux II

Mulder (upon seeing CSM in the hospital): “Please tell me you’re here with severe chest pains.”

[This actually went on primetime national television!]
Kritschgau: “My knowledge of government involvement in a conspiracy against the American people.”

Bill Scully Jr: “I’ve already lost one sister to this quest you’re on, now I’m losing another. Has it been worth it? To you, I mean, have you found what you’ve been looking for?”
Mulder: “No…”
Bill Scully Jr: “No. You know how that makes me feel?”
Mulder: “In a way, I think I do. I lost someone very close to me. I lost a sister, I lost my father, all because of this thing I’m looking for.”
Bill Scully Jr: “That’s what? Little green aliens?”
Mulder (smiles): “Yeah. Little green aliens.”

Scully: “Have you ever witnessed a miracle, Dr. Zuckerman?”
Dr Zuckerman: “I don’t know that I have. But I have seen people make recoveries. Come back from so far back, I can’t explain it.”
Scully: “Isn’t that a miracle?”
Dr Zuckerman: “Maybe there are miracles. But I don’t dare call them that.”
Scully: “Thank you.”

CSM: “This man you spoke to, Michael Kritschgau, he has deceived you with beautiful lies. He’s told you that everything you’ve ever believed about the existence of extraterrestrial life is untrue.”
Mulder: “What are you saying?”
CSM: “As I said, I’m offering you a chance to know the truth.”
Mulder: “In exchange for what?”
CSM: “Quit the FBI, come work for me. I can make your problems go away.”
[pause] Mulder: “No deal.”

Mulder: “Four years ago, while working on an assignment outside the FBI mainstream, I was paired with Special Agent Dana Scully, who I believed was sent to spy on me. To debunk my investigations into the paranormal. That Agent Scully did not follow these orders is a testament to her integrity as an investigator, a scientist, and a human being. She has paid dearly for this integrity.”
Blevins: “Agent Mulder, Agent Scully lied straight face to this panel about your death.”
Mulder: “She lied because I asked her to. Because I had evidence of a conspiracy. A conspiracy against the American people.”
Senior Agent: “We’ve already heard testimony to these allegations, Agent Mulder.”
Mulder: “And a conspiracy intended to destroy the lives of those who would reveal its true purpose. To conduct experiments on unwitting victims to further their secret agenda for someone further into the government operating at levels without restraint or responsibility. Without morals or conscience. Men who pretend to honor as they deceive. The price of this betrayal, the lives and reputations of those deceived. Agent Scully is now in a hospital bed, right now diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The victim of these same tests. Conducted without her knowledge or consent. By these same men who are trying to cover their tracks, who suborn and persecute the same people they’ve used in their plot, I will now call by name!”
Senior Agent: “Agent Mulder, did you or did you not shoot the man found dead in your apartment?”
Mulder: “I will answer that question, Sir.”
Senior Agent: “Did you shoot Scott Ostlehoff? Employee of the Department of Defense?”
Mulder: “I will answer that question, Sir.”
Senior Agent: “Answer the question asked, Agent Mulder!”
Mulder: “I will answer the question after I name the man!”
Senior Agent: “Agent Mulder!”
Mulder: “I will answer that question after I name the man who’s responsible for Agent Scully! The same man who directed that my apartment be surveilled by the DoD. A man I want to see prosecuted for his crimes! Who’s sitting in this very room as I speak!”
Senior Agent: “Agent Mulder, the Section Chief asked you a question, you are going to answer!”
Mulder: “I can’t do that sir.”
Senior Agent: “You can and you will!”
Mulder: “I can’t do that sir, because the Section Chief is the man I’m about to name!”

E.T.C 2004-2008

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