X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

6X11: Two Fathers / 6X12: One Son

Case Profile

Cassandra Spender becomes the first human successfully turned into an alien/human hybrid; this heralds that the time for colonization is close, unless Cassandra is hidden from the alien Colonists. But the faceless Rebels strike again and attempt to expose Cassandra. This starts a chain of events that lead Mulder and Scully to learn the whole truth about the Syndicate: how it came to be, when, and for what purpose. The Rebels make a final offer to the Syndicate for an alliance of resistance, but the Syndicate refuses. Ultimately, the Syndicate is ambushed by the Rebels; the Syndicate and their families are burned to death. Only the Cigarette-Smoking Man, with Diana Fowley, and Krycek, secretly in league with the Rebels, escape. Jeffrey Spender proves to be an unworthy son to the Cigarette-Smoking Man, who kills him.

Field Report

This is it. The whole mythology explained. Revelations so dense that these two feel like a cataclysmic series finale. With a marketing campaign selling full exposure, with scenes from “Previously on the X-Files” in the teaser of Two Fathers going back as far as 1X23: The Erlenmeyer Flask, with flashbacks to 1973 and the chronological rundown of how the Syndicate came to be and what for, this really feels like the end! After this, few questions remain. We are “fueled now with names and dates and… certainties“, see files “that make all the right connections“, finally hear Mulder and Scully say they “have documented evidence“! Penned by Carter & Spotnitz, with many cut scenes, and I’m sure many script drafts, this is the climax of 5 years of questions. An era is coming to an end. Of course much (if not all) was not planned when the mytharc started gaining steam in season 2. Carter & Spotnitz have been making it up as they went along, that’s no secret, but what’s surprising is how nicely they tie such disparate and apparently contradictory threads from 5 years together! Mark Snow’s music, as with the rest of season 6, is heavily inspired/sampled from the score to Fight the Future.

The roots of the Syndicate: the 1973 agreement

The Cigarette-Smoking Man’s confessions to Diana Fowley and then to Fox Mulder serve as the main exposition scenes for all the explanations — so straightforward I’d better copy/paste the whole thing and be done with it! The conspiracy the CSM was involved with was “kept secret for over 50 years, ever since the crash at Roswell“, ever since 1947.

As hinted at in 2X25: Anasazi and 3X16: Apocrypha, the CSM and Bill Mulder (Fox’s father) had been working together in the State Department at first, a project aiming at gathering information on the alien threat. They were part of “a group that came together at the State Department on a project dating back to 1947, to Roswell.” This group, composed of diverse US government officials, gathered information from the Roswell UFO (from their data banks, as further detailed in 9X19/20: The Truth) and learnt that a colonization was coming, and that it would involve the spread of the Black Oil virus: an unprecedented plague with only one possible outcome. To resist this biological war, immunity to the alien virus was necessary; they planned to get immunity by creating an alien/human hybrid (“To develop alien/human hybrids that will survive the viral apocalypse when aliens colonize the Earth.“). If the governments of Earth could have hybrids that would fight for them then there was a chance to resist the Colonists. The best scientists from the fallen Axis powers were put to use on this project (Anasazi, 3X02: Paper Clip, 3X10: 731), under the supervision of American geneticist Dr. Eugene Openshaw — who later became “a Nobel winner for early works in genetics“. But after 25 years of failed attempts, the scientists reached the limits of human knowledge. This is best illustrated with scenes that were scripted and partly shot but didn’t make it to the final cut of Two Fathers, where the CSM and Dr. Openshaw draw Bill Mulder to this conclusion on July 4 (Independence Day), 1973 — there is even a promotional picture of this, but where is the footage?! Early spoilers to these episodes also included Alvin Kurtzweil from Fight the Future in the cast, he must have been incorporated in similar flashbacks. Desperate from the lack of results, the governmental group seeks other solutions.

Thus in 1973, a “majority vote” of this governmental group led to the decision to make themselves independent of the government and to collaborate with the alien Colonists. A group controlling the fate of billions, an awkward alliance with a powerful enemy. The Syndicate was born!

This was a majority vote, it was not unanimous, but those opposing the plan had to settle with the decision taken; this was easy for some, but not for all (eg Bill Mulder). “We no longer cleaved to any government agency. We would now operate privately, on our own project.” The group agreed to be no longer accountable to its government but only to the group’s own members, a gentlemen’s agreement fueled by the thirst for power — and the will to survive. “Men who’ve conducted medical experiments in what began as a secret government project but what is now the most private global enterprise.” The Syndicate members still kept their official positions in the government and still had tremendous influence and networks, but they were now working towards their own goals. The official (but secret) stance of Earth’s governments was kept the same: resistance at all costs, extermination of all aliens if intercepted (UN Resolution 10.13, 1X16: E.B.E.). This led to two opposing policies, depending on who was pulling the threads: Syndicate or non-Syndicate official, with or against the alien colonists.

The aliens were probably coerced in this agreement by threats by the Syndicate that they would rather self-destroy the entire population than submit blindly. Using a scorched Earth policy and nuclear warfare in the context of the Cold War was surely within the reach of the Syndicate’s capabilities. In fear of losing all their future subjects, the aliens agreed. The Syndicate would make the way for colonization, as seen in Fight the Future (the ‘Project’), a great logistical nightmare that the Colonists are happy to have others handle. In exchange, the aliens would provide the science necessary for developing a hybrid immune to the Black Oil (the ‘Method’) to help the human scientists. The plan for the new Syndicate was no longer to try to save everyone but to save themselves, and their families. A very treacherous enterprise, but motivated by very human instincts: survival, preferential treatment, family. In face of total annihilation, survival under slavery is victory; the Syndicate is the Vichy government for the alien Reich. The agreement was passed on October 13, 1973, in El Rico Air Force Base. The choice of the 1973 date is another Carter reference to the Watergate scandal.

The exchange: Purity Control and the alien fetus

In addition to the science, the Method, to make hybridized genes, the Colonists provided the Syndicate with an alien fetus, fresh well-preserved samples of alien biology not in a decaying form (the Roswell bodies) or in a viral form (Black Oil): “the alien fetus would give us the alien genome, the DNA with which we could make a human hybrid.” This consession was not made lightly from the Colonists’ side, giving away something as personal and important to the inferior and impure humans was proof of their commitment.

It also shows a whole new aspect of the Colonists’ biology, in that they are capable of sexual reproduction — replication through infection and gestation is used only in extreme circumstances. As Cassandra says, the Colonists are “infecting all other life forms with a black substance called Purity. It’s their life force. It’s what they’re made of.” Purity seems to be the name the Colonists apply to themselves (quite fitting for beings obsessed with hierarchy based on genetics!). The Black Oil, since it is sentient, is as much a Colonist as a ‘grey’, but the ‘grey’ biological form is the one preferred and most representative in this alien society. “They’re taking over the universe“: this universal spread of the Black Oil is strengthens the interpretation that the faceless Rebels are another race previously colonized.

Thanks to the fetus, the Syndicate could begin its hybridization effort anew, with technology much more advanced than human genetics. The project is codenamed “Purity Control“. The Colonists wouldn’t develop the hybrid themselves, even if it is well in reach of their capabilities; they are not the beggars in this agreement. The original fetus is safeguarded in a nitrogen tank in Fort Marlene (this is both confirmed and denied in The Erlenmeyer Flask). But the policy has changed: the conspiracy is no longer aiming to resist the aliens, no longer to make a hybrid that would fight the invaders. With a new era of collaboration, the aim for the Syndicate is to manage to survive by turning themselves, and themselves only, into hybrids. A successful hybrid would be one that would be immune to the Black Oil, but the hybrid that must be made is one using gene therapy: starting from a human being and becoming a hybrid thanks to a treatment that would not be lethal.

We have seen many hybrids in the past, but the experiments went on because they were not the end product. All the other ‘failed’ hybrids are just waste products. Abductees were the main test subjects for this project, Scully among them (“[to do] whatever it is they did to me [Cassandra]… and to you, Dana.“). A gain from this collaboration that the Colonists had not predicted is that the hybrids created could be used, when the colonization would come, as slaves to conduct menial tasks under the Colonists rule, or as a police force eliminating any potential human resistance (3X24: Talitha Cumi). The 2012 date for colonization had to be held, so the Colonists helped with the abductions as well, keeping checks on the Syndicate all along, thus abductees have both human and alien implants placed in them. Purity Control went on for another 25 years, from 1973 to 1999.

The exchange: the human collateral, Cassandra and Samantha

As a guarantee of the Syndicate members’ loyalty, the Colonists demanded that each member hand in a person of their family. These were very “painful sacrifices“, heavily symbolic, alomst like offerings to superior gods!

These family members would be abducted and tested upon and be part of the Purity Control experiments. The Colonists would watch over their well-being; indeed if harm was done to them the willingness of the Syndicate would be compromised (see the Colonists safeguarding Cassandra in 5X14: The Red and the Black among all the other abductees). These family members were experimented upon by their very relatives, but for their ultimate salvation. More often than not, the abductees were not aware of their relatives’ involvement at all! Cassandra, and Jeffrey, learn of the Cigarette-Smoking Man’s role only here (Jeffrey: “My father’s involved in that?“; Cassandra: “for so many years, I didn’t understand through all the abductions and the tests that it was you.“). The CSM tells Mulder that they were given to the Colonists and kept away until the day of the colonization would come (“We sent them so they would come back to us.“), but the CSM is well aware they were returned and taken again and again with the Syndicate’s consent — Samantha included (7X11: Closure). The CSM is only teasing Mulder with the hope Samantha will be there when they all gather to El Rico.

Bill Mulder was the “lone dissenter” of the collaboration agreement: this was a “majority vote” and Bill was of the few, if not the only one, opposing collaboration; he did not want to hand over anybody.

But even if according to the CSM he “was late to understand the necessity“, “he came to his senses“: after arguments with Tena and the CSM (4X23: Demons) he accepted for Samantha to be taken. The exchange was made on the night of November 27, 1973, in El Rico Air Force Base. The CSM handed in his wife Cassandra. Bill handed in Samantha but planned it so her abduction would not take place at El Rico, where Bill was, but at the Mulders’ home. For Bill, this abduction served a double purpose: the Mulders were safe in the Colonists’ green list, and also young Fox Mulder witnessed his sister’s abduction — an event that would scar him for life. Bill and Tena left their house that night knowing what would happen, yet Bill did that on purpose so that Fox would later remember this day and do everything in his power to bring the Syndicate down; a seed of discontent planted for a long-term fight for the future. Even so, Bill had second thoughts. Eventually, overwhelmed by the guilt of the experiments before and after this (2X25: Anasazi), Bill Mulder left the Syndicate.

We see hybrids of Samantha at various ages throughout the series; hybridization and cloning permits to obtain a hybrid with the appearance of any age of the original human. It is safe to assume that all the other hybrids we see — the young and old Kurt Crawfords, the ‘Gregors’, the Jeremiah Smiths — are also clones of these original family members of the Syndicate!

The beginning of colonization

Once the successful hybrid through gene therapy would be created, the Syndicate would gather once again in El Rico Air Force Base, bringing their families, the successful hybrid and, of course, the alien fetus. They would then send a “communication” to the Colonists; the aliens would arrive to take them with them, to see that they would all be hybridized (thus rendered immune), and finally release the virus so that the colonization could begin (“They’ll be transported by the colonists and begin medical preparations to receive the hybrid genes.“). This process would probably happen simultaneously in other parts of the globe to take all the members of the international Syndicate. Cassandra implies that colonization would start immediately (“it all starts. There won’t be any stopping it.“), but we know the date is set and immutable for 2012, and that there is a predetermined “sequence of events“. The Syndicate would spend the remaining time with the Colonists, waiting for Doomsday.

With knowledge of the alien presence effectively restricted to the closed circle of the Syndicate, there would be no chance of resistance, no way to stop it. After this, the abductees would all be gathered in the ‘alien Lighthouses’ to be turned into hybrids (as seen in Patient X / he Red and the Black) and the spreading of the virus would begin.

Buying time: the vaccine and the stalling of hybridization

The idea of resistance didn’t die though. Bill Mulder (“That was your father’s idea“) wanted to develop a method of immunization different from hybridization: a vaccine, “to save everyone — the World!” (the forced ironic way the CSM says this phrase shows that he doesn’t believe in this at all). This concurrent project was conducted “in secret from the alien colonists“. Since 5X14: The Red and the Black, Marita Covarrubias was part of this project; after many tests, she’s left weak and pathetic in Fort Marlene (everybody seems to be at Fort Marlene!). This project has given some results, but not enough so that resistance can be possible.

However, “the plan was to stall, to resist“: “By collaborating, you bought yourself time to secretly develop a way to combat the aliens, to fight the future.” The hybridization effort is a viable plan, but only a desperate one. All hopes lie in the vaccine. The Syndicate went as far as to stall, sabotage and destroy their own work so that no hybrid is produced and the colonization can be postponed. All the efforts of Dr. Berube (1X23: The Erlenmeyer Flask) and Dr. Ishimaru (3X09: Nisei & 3X10: 731) were destroyed because they were dangerously close to success. Research was allowed insofar it didn’t succeed. The experiments would be allowed to succeed in the nick of time, in 2012, to buy as much time for the vaccine research. Of course that wasn’t known to the doctors working on hybrids.

Dr. Openshaw, as it appears the leader of the science team for all the Syndicate’s effort ever since 1973, was aware of this. Dr. Openshaw was about to kill Cassandra Spender when he was stopped. “I had prepared a syringe for her as agreed.” So, there is another way to execute a hybrid other than the alien stiletto. It is most likely that this syringe contained the vaccine against the Black Oil! With a hybrid having half her genome of alien (Black Oil) origin, a poison to her alien half would be suffice to kill her.

Similarly, in case the vaccine research would bare no fruit, the plans for colonization had to be stalled to ensure some means of survival would exist: so long a hybridization method was not complete, the preparations for colonization would not be completed. By working slowly, the Syndicate was making sure they were necessary at all times to the Colonists — otherwise, the Colonists would be glad to get rid of this human nuisance.

The success of Cassandra Spender

Despite of their forestalling, Cassandra Spender happened (CSM: “in spite of ourselves…”). She was taken by the Colonists in The Red and the Black to safeguard her from the Rebels setting everyone ablaze, then she was returned to the humans, and experiments on her continued as before, orchestrated by the CSM (Krycek: “Your father directs the experiments.“).

Dr. Openshaw: “Cassandra is a success. […] She’s the key to everything.” Mulder: “the first successful alien/human hybrid.” But as she “was beginning to realize her role in the greatest science project that Man had ever known“, so she only begins to discover the powers that her new nature gives her. First of all, as a hybrid, she is immune to the Black Oil and is cured of all illness. She no longer needs a wheelchair — something she attributes to the aliens, but she’s still figuring things out (“The aliens cured me. The doctors were working with the aliens.“). She was healed and she can heal herself (further evidenced by the laser test and the closing wound in the teaser of Two Fathers). She has the green toxin for blood. In a cut scene she was also discovering that she had the ability to shapeshift, morphing her face into another. The same cut scene reveals (or confirms what was suspected) that the female FBI agent guarding her door was an alien Rebel in disguise! It’s her clothes that Cassandra is wearing when she knocks at Mulder’s at the end of Two Fathers; in fact, it’s possible the Rebel told her of her role in colonization and gave her Mulder’s address.

Also, Cassandra develops a mind-reading ability: without any previous knowledge, she manages to understand her role in colonization; but more importantly, she manages to find Mulder’s apartment (the question is asked in the script, this is not simple speculation: “How did you find us?“).

Whichever happened, reading the mind of those (human or alien) who experimented on her, of the CSM or of the Rebel, or simply being told everything by the Rebel, mind-reading is a alien/hybrid feature that Cassandra surely possessed — but like shapeshiting she was only discovering how to master it. By all means, Cassandra is exactly like Jeremiah Smith (3X24: Talitha Cumi): the only difference is that Jeremiah was born a hybrid, he was made artificially, whereas Cassandra became a hybrid during her lifetime. This whole method of turning a living being into a hybrid is what the Syndicate has been looking for, to apply on themselves.

When we met Cassandra in 5X13: Patient X, she was saying “the aliens were here to do good and that I was being used as an oracle to spread the word“. Now she has learnt the truth and knows of colonization. This is a radical change of heart; Cassandra is no longer the smiling welcoming Patient X, she is the face of impending doom, and she will try everything to stop the Colonists. She confirms that the Samantha Mulder saw in 5X03: Redux II was not the real one: a clone. When she tells Mulder that Samantha is “out there, with them, the aliens“, surely she is lying (Samantha is not there, 7X11: Closure). As time and time again, Mulder is given false hopes so that he can continue his Quest and his battle against the Syndicate.

The Rebel set Cassandra free and sent her to Mulder’s, knowing that Mulder is the best way to expose the Syndicate — using him as Krycek did in 4X09: Tunguska. When she finally realizes that her survival would mean the colonization (“when the aliens learn of Cassandra, colonization will begin“), she understands that dying is the best move for all mankind. But she didn’t commit suicide — or wasn’t able to force her own hand to do it — she asked Mulder to do it in her stead. What she didn’t know is that given her nature, an alien stiletto is necessary to kill her: Mulder’s gunshots would have been totally ineffective.

The Rebels strike

Amid the Syndicate’s well-established plans, the Rebels happened. If their attacks in Patient X / The Red and the Black were targeted only indirectly to the Syndicate, their ultimate enemy being the Colonists, here they meddle directly with the Syndicate’s affairs. There were more attacks than just the one we saw: Krycek: “Rebels have attacked and burned project facilities in New Mexico and the Southwest. The medical staff at our Arizona research facility’s been slain. The train-car deaths cost us.” Their target is exposure: exposing the public to all these horrible secrets, and exposing the hybrid Cassandra to the Colonists. “They saved her to expose us.” “They will run medical tests on her. It’s only a matter of time. Cassandra must be terminated.” They want to force the Syndicate’s hand to make the final choice : deliver Cassandra to the Colonists or resist.

The execution scene confirms that the Rebels need an alien stiletto to be killed, with a puncture wound at the base of the neck, ‘singlehandedly’ delivered by Krycek. Like in 2X17: End Game, the green toxin these aliens hold in common with the hybrids is inactive once the body is dead: the body decomposes without toxic effects on Krycek and Spender.

It is also no surprise that the Rebels can shapeshift like the Alien Bounty Hunter can. What we see for the first time is this sort of ‘prosthetic face’ the Rebels carry over their normal face, this layer of skin that we see being torn off like modelling clay. We thought that the Rebels, the Alien Bounty Hunter and the hybrids could shapeshift, change their physical shape by deforming their bodies and taking over another’s appearance; here the extra face looks like a prosthetic mask that can be of only one form, a mask independent of the body. But as we see at the end of One Son, a Rebel shapeshifts from the human face he had to that beneath this prosthetic face, the appearance of a faceless Rebel with sealed eyes and mouth. So this prosthetic does seem to be part of their bodies: a layer of skin that can be modelled at will and that can be regrown (a bit like Eddie Van Blundht’s thin layer of muscle tissue covering his skin from 4X20: Small Potatoes!). Under this skin, the Rebels have a ‘base face’, their true face. In The Red and the Black we had only seen a Rebel militia that appeared to be clones with a similar appearance as the Alien Bounty Hunter (actor Brian Thomson); here we meet more representatives of this race. We do not know much of alien (or hybrid) biology, it is very possible that this ‘prosthetic face’ deal has been true since the beginning and that it’s not an apparently contradictory visual effect added on these episodes on the fly.

All bets are off

The Rebels kill one of the Syndicate members and impersonate him to infiltrate the group and make a final offer of an alliance at the point of no return: “Why not side with the rebels? Join their alien resistance?” As Krycek says, resistance is “an option you declined long ago. Resistance was futile then, why would it be any less so now?

But even with this heavy history behind them, not even all the Elders realize what is going on because the most collaborationist of them all, the CSM, hides the facts from them! The success of Cassandra is “something even my colleagues didn’t realize yet. I killed to keep them unknowing. I killed Dr. Openshaw so they wouldn’t discover her.” All by himself, the CSM destroyed all hopes of an alliance: he rejects the Rebel’s disguised offer, he sends Spender and Krycek to kill the Rebel, and chooses to give in Cassandra: “let colonization begin. We must turn over Cassandra. Save ourselves.” Delivering Cassandra is the point of no return.

The CSM kept his fellow conspirators unknowing of all the facts, hoping to contain it to a close circle, but the events go out of hand and as the Rebels wanted to, Cassandra is examined (Krycek: “I recovered all the medical records form the hospital“) and by the beginning of One Son all the Elders become aware of the gravity of the situation. Their stance is still the same: collaborate with the Colonists. The Syndicate thus seals its fate. It becomes but one more obstacle to the Rebels, an obstacle that must be removed. The gathering at El Rico Air Force Base sees all the important players of the US branch of the Syndicate: the Elders and their families, including the CSM and Cassandra; the dead and the departed should have been there (people like Deep Throat, Bill Mulder, the Well-Manicured Man, Dr. Openshaw, Dr. Kurtzweil, …); also, people that joined the Syndicate later should have been all present (Fowley, Covarrubias, Krycek, …).

But the Syndicate has been deceived: it’s a trap! As the Rebels had hijacked Syndicate or Colonist communications satellites in Patient X to be able to summon the abductees, so here they prevent the Syndicate’s “communication” to reach the Colonists, unbeknownst to the Syndicate. The Rebels kill off most of the members of the Syndicate we have been following for four years in a ruthlessly short scene.

The alien fetus, the possession of which secures the Syndicate’s deal with the Colonists, was supposed to be taken to El Rico as well. The fetus was last seen in The Erlenmeyer Flask (or so we thought). A Rebel kills the Project doctor that was taking it and takes his appearance to join the party that takes Cassandra to El Rico. Krycek then discovers the body of the doctor (frozen by the liquid nitrogen); the fetus is nowhere to be seen, taken by another Rebel. A missing fetus can only mean that the Rebels know much more on the Syndicate than suspected, that they have infiltrated their ranks and that they’re controlling the situation: Krycek: “It’s all going to hell. The rebels are going to win. They took it.“.

Has all the Syndicate died? It is possible similar summonings were done all over globe, where Syndicate members from all the continents convened and were ambushed — notably we think of Strughold who is in Tunisia (according to spoilers at the time, Strughold was initially supposed to make an appearance in these episodes, but that may have been just rumours). Indeed after these episodes, the Syndicate looks dead. The US chapter of the Syndicate acted as the decisional and coordination center for the entire Syndicate, so it’s more likely that the Rebels, spread thin as it is, stroke just in the USA. Cut the head and the body is left in chaos. So Strughold is likely to be still alive. Cassandra is most likely dead — an alien/human hybrid is utterly useless to the alien Rebels.

A theory that has some credibility is that following to the events in Fight the Future, the Colonists allowed the Rebels to destroy Syndicate!

Indeed, in Antarctica’s Base 1, Mulder introduced the human-made vaccine against the Black Oil in an alien environment, causing considerable upheaval. So if the Colonists became aware of this betrayal on behalf of the Syndicate, it’s likely that that they would consider the deal broken and have them exterminated. So why not wait and have somebody else do it for them? However that would also mean that the Rebels would be allowed to take the alien fetus with them. This precious object is what sealed the deal with the Syndicate and it must be too precious for the Colonists to allow it to fall in the wrong hands. And the Syndicate was genuinely helpful to the Colonists. So no, this is another chapter in the ongoing war between Colonists and Rebels. The big question is what became of all this afterwards. After this we hear of the Rebels no more. Is it safe to assume that their rebellion was squashed by the Colonists? Probably so, but if it did it happened way offscreen. A dangling thread that was worth exploring (this is particularly a shame, with a comeback in the writers’ heads but with a season 7 that didn’t turn out as initially planned).

Life and Times of C.G.B. Spender

Connections are made, conspirators are revealed. “Smokey’s got a name!” Scully discovers that the CSM is called C.G.B. Spender (the ‘CGB’ is after Chris Carter’s grandpa… Charles Gengis Balthazar?), but apparently it’s an alias, “one of hundreds” — which is surprising since he’s been using this name for so long (at least 1973) and officially in his marriage with Cassandra. Scully: “Cassandra Spender is, indeed, the mother of Agent Jeffery Spender and the ex-wife of C.G.B. Spender.

Strange though that Cassandra hadn’t realized what was her husband’s role in all her suffering: “for so many years, I didn’t understand, through all the abductions and the tests, that it was you“.

It’s likely that Cassandra’s memories were erased after each abduction experience, and replaced with others (such as the aliens-as-saviours stories of Patient X). But Cassandra and CGB mustn’t have had any contact since 1973, when Cassandra was first taken; the CSM must have avoided contact with her on purpose, probably unable to face her suffering directly. The CSM led a lonely life, filled with unrequited love for Tena Mulder on one hand and calculating a future ruling position over the world with Cassandra at his side. “I came in hopes that we might speak of the future, not the past.” But selfish as he is, he failed to take into account human feelings and how abhorred Cassandra would be at the sight of his true self. Cassandra dies and the CSM’s long-time plans crumble to nothing. Funny that both Cassandra and CGB are chain smokers. Oh, the burden of large responsibilities!

The CSM, as evil as he is perceived by others, sincerely believes in the righteousness of his actions (“it was the right thing to do“) — and indeed his motives make sense, in a cynical selfish way. Mulder finally gets to confront him in Diana’s apartment and finally gets some answers from him.

The CSM holds his ground, defends all the decisions he made in the past and, unlike Bill Mulder in 2X25: Anasazi, has no remorse. But even though he reveals everything to Mulder about the Syndicate’s history, he still keeps things to himself. He doesn’t say anything that would incriminate Diana or put her place as a double agent in jeopardy — and he says nothing of his relationship with Diana either. Even in this frank moment, he still manages to manipulate Mulder by using the card that always works: Samantha. “You won’t stop it. Not if you want to see your sister again.” He still tells Mulder that Samantha will be returned by the Colonsits even though he knows this to be wrong, as a last attempt to draw Mulder to his side and pull him to the El Rico gathering.

The demise of Jeffrey Spender

Jeffrey discovers the truth as well, though he has a lot of catching up to do, and his scepticism and his disgust against anything far-fetched are of no help. When Cassandra is returned, Jeffrey is determined to find the guilty parties (the CSM is there at the train scene as well, he can be seen in the background!). Skinner advises Spender to “use every resource available“, and Jeffrey doesn’t turn to his father and patron in the FBI the CSM, but to Mulder — to the great disappointment of his father. The CSM has gone to great lengths to secure a position to Jeffrey in the FBI: “I schemed to put him in charge of the X-Files“.

After his refusal to follow the CSM in 5X03: Redux II, Mulder is now useless in the eyes of the CSM and all his bets are on Jeffrey: Mulder is “the man I’d ruined, the man I’d chosen for him [Jeffrey] to replace“. During these episodes, the CSM continues to undermine Mulder and Scully: through Spender or Fowley they’re put “on administrative leave” and Scully is “suspended indefinitely from her position at the FBI“. Skinner is out of the picture as well: when the CSM talks about “our new man at the FBI“, it’s Jeffrey that he means, not Skinner; for once, Skinner is left alone.

The way the CSM sees it, the X-Files is a trial by fire for Jeffrey as it was for Mulder, a way to prove his valour and eventually join the ranks of the Syndicate as the CSM’s rightful heir. The CSM puts Jeffrey to the test with various tasks (“You need to show me that you’re capable of handling the responsibility that comes with this knowledge“) but Jeffrey doesn’t live up to his expectations. “I gave you responsibility. I gave you a position. I gave you the things that you couldn’t get yourself and you can’t do the job!” Jeffrey pathetically follows his father’s orders but has no initiative (“I’ve done as you’ve asked“, “I waited, like you asked“), and he’s more than repulsed by all this patronizing and secrecy — all this reluctance being the result of his childhood traumas when his mother was considered crazy and his father was never there (The Red and the Black). Jeffrey’s past has made him a predisposed disbeliever.

When he finally discovers that the CSM is responsible for his mother’s condition (“My father’s involved in that?“) — by Krycek, of all people — his turn against his father is complete. He now stands as an obstacle between Cassandra and the CSM. Aliens or not, Spender knows there is some biological hazard related to all these tests and he theorizes this is what causes the burnings: Fowley: “A contagion of unknown origin. […] That Cassandra Spender had contracted a highly contagious vectoring organism which produces a spontaneous cellular breakdown and combustion“. Jeffrey calls for the Center for Disease Control and Mulder’s apartment is overrun. Jeffrey’s concerns are genuine, and Fowley follows on these theories because they allow for Cassandra to be recaptured at the hands of the Syndicate.

Scully: “this is just somebody using their position to stage a hi-tech government kidnapping“. Jeffrey is still being used.

Cassandra: “You don’t understand about me.” Jeffrey: “I do. I understand everything now.” But he understands only part of the picture. The CSM sees this as a betrayal and after the CSM’s world is shattered with the loss of the Syndicate, the CSM decides to clean house and get rid of his unworthy son. The decision is bitter: “hoping that my son might live to honor me, like Bill Mulder’s son.” According to Frank Spotnitz, these episodes are inspired by Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II” (1974), probably in the way Don Corleone’s relationship with his brother is reflected in that of the CSM and his son. A highly selfish move, but completely consistent with his character. Before being shot, Jeffrey understood who is good and who is evil and sides with Mulder and Scully. He tells AD Kersh to “do everything you can to get them back on the X-Files” and even gives a tap on Mulder’s shoulder. Jeffrey was a character that was made to be unlikable from his very first appearance, constantly opposing Mulder. His final change of heart comes all too sudden and we hardly have the time to sympathize before he’s gone (but for all intents and purposes, Jeffrey is dead after this!).

Diana Fowley revealed

As revealed at the end of his long soliloquies in Two Fathers, the CSM was talking to Diana Fowley. “Do you wonder why I’ve chosen you? You’ve never betrayed me. Now I need someone to trust.” The CSM and Diana go back a long way, and as is evidenced by Diana touching his shoulder and the CSM visiting Diana’s apartment when Mulder broke in, they were having an affair.

Diana is seduced by power, and the CSM can give her access to things she would have never got at the FBI. This was probably what pushed her to the ‘dark side’ at around 1989. At this date, Mulder was starting to investigate the paranormal (1X03: Conduit, 5X01: Unusual Suspects, 5X15: Travelers). The CSM sent Diana to join Fox and dig up the X-Files (5X20: The End); it’s possible that Diana was having a relationship with both Mulder and the CSM at the time! Then, as Scully and the Lone Gunmen uncover, “she took a position in the FBI’s foreign counter-terrorism unit in 1991. Seven years in Europe” but her true position was not the FBI description. “Extensive movement throughout Western Europe. Almost weekly trips to and from Tunisia.” The Tunisian connection is evident: she was accountable to Conrad Strughold (Fight the Future), who evidently is stationed there since at least 1991. She was checking on “Mutual UFO Network” members; MUFON is where many abductees gather (3X09: Nisei); she “was visiting every European chapter collecting data on female abductees“. Surveillance and accounting work. All this Syndicate-related activity was “purged from her FBI records“.

And then, as the CSM changes his focus from Fox Mulder to Jeffrey Spender, he calls her back to Washington to train Jeffrey to the X-Files as she had done with Mulder. She moves in the Watergate Apartments (the very same apartments from which the Watergate scandal takes its name, already seen in 2X01: Little Green Men!) — another Carter reference to Watergate as a seat of power and plots.

Ever since 1989, Diana has been a faithful servant of the CSM, and a very good actor before Mulder. Despite all these machiavellian politics though, Diana’s love for Mulder is genuine. After all these years, Mulder still trusts her almost blindly as he still has feelings for her; after he finds the CSM at her place his doubts thicken. Scully: “you ask me to trust no one and yet you trust her on simple faith“. The tension and jealousy started in The End continues (see also the dialogue-less shower scene!). Scully is right about Diana but she doesn’t have the opportunity to confront her with these facts. By a twist of luck, the CSM and Diana are the only Syndicate affiliates that survive the strike of the Rebels at El Rico.

Krycek and a potential resistance

We find Krycek has gone quite a few stairs up the Syndicate ladder! His progressive rise from second-hand henchman to access to the Elders’ offices in 46th Street, New York is an evolution that make all his machinations and rat history pay off. But having reached such a high place by betraying everybody, his true intentions are naturally not clear cut. Before the Elders and the CSM, Krycek appears very much pro-collaboration, totally subdued, giving them praise and gaining their trust, preparing the ground for rising in power even more in the future. In a cut scene, he prods the CSM about the possibility of making him the CSM’s right hand and potential heir — but the CSM, believing in heredity, has already chosen an heir in his son Jeffrey, and puts Krycek back in his place.

Krycek’s praise for the CSM to Jeffrey seems too much to be true. “[understand] the responsibility that this knowledge demands by the men who have it. The great sacrifice by great men like your father.” Since when does Krycek appreciate the CSM so much? This kind of hypocrisy serves only one purpose: to set Jeffrey up against the CSM. “You’re protecting the project, Jeff. Making the sacrifices. So that you can be a great man, too.” This leads to Jeffrey turning against his father and protecting Cassandra. Krycek is the shrewd councellor that lures people to the opposite direction from the advice he gives. His policy is divide and conquer.

As was hinted by Krycek’s affinity with the Well-Manicured Man (The Red and the Black, The End), Krycek’s true goal is resistance against the Colonists; despite what he may say to the Elders, an alliance with the Rebels is a good option for resistance. He is certainly not in favour of collaboration. When he kills the Rebel that Jeffrey was supposed to kill, he does so because these were the CSM’s direct orders, disobedience was impossible at that time. At the end, Krycek does not appear in El Rico but stays at Fort Marlene. It’s possible Krycek was in contact with the Rebels all along, aware of what was going to happen and sealing the Syndicate’s fate by sending them to El Rico. But in Fort Marlene he is dismayed when he discovers that the Rebels took the alien fetus; apparently this was not part of their deal, the Rebels have betrayed Krycek in return. “It’s all going to hell. The Rebels are going to win. They took it.

Without the fetus, it’s no longer possible to negociate another agreement with the Colonists: whatever is left of the Syndicate is powerless, completely at the mercy of whatever the Rebels decide to do with them. Krycek also comes across Marita, his ex-lover, weakened and unrecognisable by the tests performed on her. Marita’s life has been destroyed. Now, at the fateful moment of the gathering at El Rico, Marita is left out of the Syndicate: “They’re going to leave me here“. It’s more than likely that Marita shares Alex’s feelings towards resistance and would prefer an alliance with the Rebels all the more now with everything the Syndicate did to her. Alex and Marita meet again and escape the Rebels’ trap. With the Syndicate gone, they have the potential to take the reins and direct the remainder of the Syndicate — and the Russian conspiracy — towards resisting the Colonists…

The roles of Mulder and Scully

In these two episodes, Mulder and Scully are purely observers and are hardly actors in the events that unfold before them at a great speed. There is no investigation to speak of, only a series of revelations and decisions made by other characters. In fact, with Patient X / The Red and the Black and Fight the Future, these episodes are the only episodes where important events in the story of the Syndicate and the mytharc actually happen before our eyes! Earlier episodes, dense as they may have been, were investigations that progressively reveal the backstory of the mytharc to Mulder and Scully, but with no significant consequence to the grand scheme of things orchestrated by the Syndicate: the investigation of a mystery. These are the revelation of the keys to unravel the mystery.

This passivity is reflected by Mulder’s complaint at Diana’s: Diana: “Fox, what are you doing?” Mulder: “Nothing. Not a damn thing.” As the Well-Manicured Man had elegantly told Scully in 3X01: The Blessing Way, the Syndicate has created the future; the actions of single individuals are unimportant. Mulder: “Fate. Destiny. Whatever it’s called when you…when you realize the choices you thought you had in life were already made. […] There’s nothing to be done. And at some point, you just have to accept that the only way those you love are going to survive is if you give up.

The CSM tips him with where to go if he wants to be saved: El Rico Air Force Base. Mulder uses that information not to ‘save himself’, but in a last desperate attempt to act and influence the events. Mulder and Scully try to block the train that carries Cassandra to El Rico; they fire some shots at the driver, apparently hit him (some say they see green blood there, but I don’t think the image is that clear, and a Rebel there would make no sense when they concentrate on presenting the doctor in the train car as being the infiltrated Rebel) but the train continues unhindered. The attempt was useless, and in the end they did nothing.

In these episodes Jeffrey Spender is put in the foreground as the CSM’s son, and Fox Mulder as Bill Mulder’s son — the ‘two fathers’ of the title. But even though we learn much of the motives behind Bill Mulder’s actions, the direct subject of who Fox’s real father is not touched upon (7X04: Amor Fati will adress this directly). Indeed in insisting on resisting the CSM’s offers he is indeed Bill Mulder’s spiritual son, but the possibility of either as the genetic father still remains. What’s more, the fact that the CSM insists so much on Fox and his superiority over Jeffrey points to the fact that the CSM really wants very badly for Fox to be his son. For the CSM, only a character as strong as Mulder’s can possibly be worthy to be his son. The CSM still considers Mulder as part of the family and tips him to El Rico. In the end, only ‘one son’ of the two remains: Fox Mulder, the most tenacious and stubborn of the two. After all these events, Special Agent Diana Fowley is taken off the X-Files but remains in the FBI and Mulder and Scully get back their rightful place in the FBI basement. The Project, for the time being, is dead. “The future is here, and all bets are off.

Surveillance Recodings

Two Fathers

The Cigarette-Smoking Man’s confessions:
“This is the end. I never thought I’d hear myself say those words after all these years. You put your life into something. Build it, protect it. The end is as unimaginable as your own death. Or the death of your children. I could never have scripted the events that led us to this. None of us could. All the brilliant men. The secret that we kept so well. It happened simply, like this. We had a perfect conspiracy with an alien race. Aliens who were coming to reclaim this planet and to destroy all human life. Our job was to secretly prepare the way for their invasion. To create for them a slave race of human/alien hybrids. They were good plans… Right plans.”
“I’ve trusted no one. Treachery is the inevitable result of all affairs.”

Mulder: “The truth is out there, Agent Spender. Maybe you should find it for yourself.”

Dr. Openshaw: “A man should never live long enough to see his children… or his work destroyed.”

Cigarette-Smoking Man (to Jeffrey Spender): “You pale to Fox Mulder.”

Jeffrey Spender: “I’ll be my own great man.”

One Son

Mulder’s teaser voice-over: “Two men, young, idealistic, the fine product of a generation hardened by a World War. Two fathers whose paths would converge in a new battle . An invisible war between a silent enemy and a sleeping giant on a scale to dwarf all historical conflicts. A 50-years war, its killing fields lying in wait for the inevitable global holocaust. Theirs was the dawn of Armageddon. And while the world was unaware, unwitting spectators to the hurly-burly of the decades-long struggle between heaven and earth, there were those who prepared for the end; who measured the size and power of the enemy, and faced the choices. Stand and fight, or bow to the will of a fearsome enemy. Or to surrender, to yield and collaborate. To save themselves and stay their enemy’s hand. Men who believed that victory was the absence of defeat and survival the ultimate ideology. No matter what the sacrifice.”

Mulder: “I heard grey is the new black.”

Mulder (on Diana Fowley): “Scully, you’re making this personal.”
Scully: “Because it is personal, Mulder. Because without the FBI, personal interest is all that I have. And if you take that away then there is no reason for me to continue.”

Cigarette-Smoking Man (laughs): “Oh, you’re wrong, Agent Mulder. I can’t tell you how wrong you are. How wrong you’ve always been.”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “We would ally ourselves with the alien colonists.”
Mulder: “Towards your own selfish end.”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “We forestalled an alien invasion.”
Mulder: “No, no, no, you only managed to postpone it.”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “We saved billions of lives!”
Mulder: “You put those lives on hold so you alone could survive!”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “No, Agent Mulder, so you could.  That’s exactly what your fatherfailed to realize.”
Mulder: “You gave them your children! You gave them your wife! You sent them away… like they were things.”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “We sent them away, Agent Mulder, because it was the right thing to do.”
Mulder: “You sent them away to be tested on!”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “We sent them so they would come back to us.  Don’t you see?”
Mulder: “Stop it now, or… I will stop it…”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “No, Agent Mulder. You won’t stop it. Not if you want to see your sister again.”
Mulder: “You stop it… or everyone dies.”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “No. I live — you live — to see your sister return. It’s what your father realized. It’s what you’ll realize as your father’s son. Or die in vain with the rest of the world. (hands paper with meeting point name) Save her. Save yourself.”

AD Kersh: “You have answers now? Why didn’t I hear about those answers before?”
Mulder:”I’ve had answers for years.”
AD Kersh: “Then why didn’t we hear about them?”
Mulder: “Nobody ever listened.”
AD Kersh: “Who burned those people?”
Mulder: “They burned themselves. With a choice made long ago by a conspiracy of men who thought they could sleep with the enemy. Only to awaken another enemy.”
AD Kersh: “What the hell does that mean?”
Mulder: “It means the future is here, and all bets are off.”
AD Kersh: “Agent Scully, make some sense.”
Scully: “Sir, I wouldn’t bet against him.”

Jeffrey Spender: “I know more than enough about your past. Enough to hate you.”
Cigarette-Smoking Man: “Your mother was right. I came here hoping otherwise. Hoping that my son might live to honor me. Like Bill Mulder’s son.” (shoots Jeffrey)

E.T.C 2004-2008

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