Season 7, Episode 2
Director: Michael Watkins
Writer: David Duchovny, Chris Carter
And so it is. The X-Files writes its final chapter in the new mythology-starting storyline in “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati,” written by none other than David Duchovny and Chris Carter. It’s not that I particularly mind the way the storyline wrapped up – by wrapping itself in the mythology of Fox Mulder. It’s just that the end to this particular story arc came so incredibly fast that, at least in “Amor Fati,” we seemed to be hurtling toward a conclusion rather than gracefully landing on one.
We open on a sunny beach with a voice over illustrating Mulder’s plight while he daydreams of a couple and child playing on the beach. In reality, the doctor is giving Mulder’s mother the harsh truth that medicine has run its course of treatment. Next, the Smoking Man appears and seemingly gives Mulder a drug that frees him from his vegetative state. After offering to save him, the Smoking Man reveals himself to be Mulder’s father and walks out with him. Scully is called to the hospital because Mulder is missing, apparently checked out by his mother. Later, she returns to her apartment where she is approached by Albert Hosteen who warns her that she needs to save Mulder. Back at the hospital, she views surveillance tapes that prove Mulder’s mother and the Smoking Man were working together somehow.
Driving away from the hospital, the Smoking Man tells Mulder to begin to enjoy his new, nameless life in which he can have no contact with Scully. The Smoking Man pulls up to a picturesque house and introduces it as “home,” warning Mulder that if he returns to the X-Files he will most certainly die. Inside the house, Mulder is greeted by Deep Throat who claims to be alive and shows a scar to prove he was indeed shot. Deep Throat has an interesting conversation with Mulder in which he tries to sell Mulder on the concept of this brand of witness relocation. Next, Diana Fowley approaches Mulder and attempts to seduce him into this life.
Scully continued her dogged pursuit of Mulder by trying to contact Mulder’s mother without luck. She receives a book that explains the symbology inscribed on the spacecraft. In it, the legend of the man who can save the Earth from the Sixth Extinction is illustrated. This Sixth Instinction and Mulder’s supposed connection to it drives the remainder of the episode as Mulder’s dreamlike reality proves to be just that. In the real world, he’s strapped to a table in a Christ-like position to be experimented upon by the Smoking Man’s crew because he is the only man who can survive the pending alien invasion. Scully eventually finds Mulder and manages to bring him back into consciousness, ending the episode on its first real note – where Mulder anticipates a kiss from Scully but receives one on the forehead.
So, if you step back for a moment and consider how much ground is travelled not only by the 3-episode arc but simply by “Amor Fati” itself, then you’re likely to be overwhelmed. “Amor Fati” abandons much of the previous work – much of Scully’s previous work – into a completely misguided and borderline egocentric outing in which Duchovny as Mulder is held up as not only a Christ-like figure but as literally the savior of the world. It’s a bit much to swallow on its own, and the script does little to ease that transition from porn enthusiast to Jesus clone. This is the rare occasion where the overall story would have been perhaps better served played out over a broader array of episodes that would allow the story an opportunity to breathe. As it is, we’re left with revelations (the Smoking Man is Mulder’s father?) and sudden deaths (Diana Fowley and Kritschgau are tossed aside like yesterday’s trash) and mysterious pseudo-religious interludes (Scully’s visitation by the spirit of Albert Hosteen). This is a lot to absorb – 45 minutes that, in some ways, changes the way the entire series is perceived.
In the end, “Amor Fati” wants to be a dramatic and complex outing, and it most certainly is given the heavily religious connotations of the plot and imagery within. You could get lost in a rabbit hole digging into the parallels between this episode and Last Temptation of Christ. Ultimately, the episode required stronger writing and better plotting to carry the viewers toward their end result. As it stands now, it’s a luridly over-the-top circus, one that entertains with visuals and a breakneck pace instead of relying on careful plot building to have the same effect.