Season 7, Episode 22: “Requiem”
Original Airdate: May 21, 2000
This is how it ends. Not with a voiceover, or with a Grey. Not even with an ending, because yeah, no, no, “Requiem” is not the end of The X-Files. But it is, or it could be. Like most of the show, it was conceived to cover a number of potential bases: that the show would have another season, that the show would not have another season but would have a movie, that the show would not have another season and would not, either, have a movie. It pays homage to its roots while maintaining the hazy melancholy that permeated the whole of the season, the long, longing looks at the door. And then it ends. And Mulder is gone.
Who will mourn at the departure of Fox Mulder? Are we meant to? Or is it too late for us, who have watched him die repeatedly, who have already seen him give up, then give up giving up? One might feel cynical, realizing that after seven seasons she cares very little about Mulder, but then, one might try to find out why. He hasn’t done anything wrong, particularly. He’s maybe abandoned Scully one zillion too many times, he’s maybe been a bit too pigheaded, or hardheaded, or half-headed. But what strikes me now is that Mulder’s real failing—here, now, Season 7 Episode 22—is that he doesn’t seem to want anything, anymore.
Oh, I know. Mulder’s want has always been a little abstract. The truth, the truth, what is the truth, these men, they make it up as they go along. As Krycek more or less once told us. But then over that, layered, there was Samantha, there was what happened to my sister. There was something very personal, and something very immediate. And as the show progressed, it added to Mulder’s troubles—killing his father, then his mother, then telling him that his father wasn’t even his father.
But somehow these things never meant as much as Samantha. That’s clear even here, what with Mulder allowing Krycek into his damn office and letting him state a damn case. Krycek has done Mulder so many wrongs, so so so so so many wrongs, but it’s been the nature of the show to let those things roll off, if rolling those things off served the plot. So what if Krycek killed Mulder’s father? I mean, it’s not like Krycek killed Samantha. If Krycek had killed Samantha, well. That would have been a real crime. And we wouldn’t all be standing here together, today.
Things never meant as much as Samantha, which is why it was a problem, when the show closed the book on her. She was Mulder’s original driver, and then she was gone. The conspiracy was his second, and then that was gone, and then—what was left? “Requiem” leads with a device, an FBI internal-affairs sort, standing in for…me, maybe? Reprimanding Mulder for his bloated expense account and snapping, “So, what exactly is left to investigate?”
Things never meant as much as Samantha, except—well, one thing did. One person. Scully, from whom all blessings flow. The ever-warming relationship between Mulder and Scully gave us something to hang onto. Hell, the ever-warming relationship between Mulder and Scully gave the writers something to hang onto, particularly in this season. Think of Scully falling asleep and Mulder pulling a blanket around her, think of the two of them having a beer and movie night, think of them laughing on the set of a movie, think of them in a morgue with an invisible man. If Season 7 was anything substantial, it was a quiet tribute to these two people, and to their partnership.
Accordingly, the best moments of “Requiem” are between our agents. They’re in Oregon, in the same town they visited in the pilot. A spacecraft has collided with a military plane and it’s out there, somewhere, in the forest, and also folks keep getting abducted. The game is Alien Bounty Hunter in nature, that square-faced, green-blooded killer who is there to remove evidence of Colonization. Which is to say, there to take away any former abductees. And midway through the investigation Scully feels a little ill, a little lightheaded, a little appearing at the door of his motel the way she did in the pilot, except this time she just wants to crawl straight into bed with Mulder. He holds her, he keeps her warm, and as they lie there the subtext all evaporates. He wants her to go home. He feels bad that she’ll never be a mother. He feels bad that she hasn’t had the chance to do anything else with her life. He feels so, so bad.
Of course by the end of the episode, it’s Mulder that’s gone, and Scully who will carry the torch. Who will never do anything else with her life, and who will own that, because Scully has never done this under duress. She has always made the choice to give up whatever else she had given up. No kidding, “the personal cost is too high,” no kidding. Between the two of them they have nearly no immediate family left, between the two of them they’re down to each other. Which is why taking Mulder away could absolutely, totally work. Could give Scully a drive that she needs to sustain a path—and a show. A Samantha of her own.
There are other melodramas in “Requiem.” There is Krycek, and there is Marita. The two of them scheming together, Krycek (accidentally? On purpose? Who cares?) leading Mulder to his abduction, the way he led Scully to hers. There is the Cigarette-Smoking Man near death, grey and fragile, and Krycek pushing him down the stairs (to his death? to his coma?) while Marita looks on. There is Skinner, accompanying Mulder back to Oregon, losing Mulder in Oregon. And then the big guy: Scully’s mysterious, sudden pregnancy. Whether any of this adds up in the future, who knows. Whether any of this adds up in the future, who cares. “Requiem” at its best is a requiem, not a prelude. A cliffhanger, technically, but an ending, for sure.