The X-Files: Gethsemane (Part 1/3)   Rewatch 
June 2, 2020 8:03 PM - Season 4, Episode 24 - Subscribe

An expedition in Northwestern Canada finds an alien body frozen in the ice, but while Mulder travels to the Yukon to see it for himself, Scully meets a man who claims that all the evidence of alien life Mulder has ever encountered has been faked as part of a conspiracy.
posted by orange swan (6 comments total)
What a difference two years makes:

When X-Files was on the air first time around, a friend and I would co-host these epic season-premiere and season-finale parties. At the second-season finale, when Cancer Man ordered the boxcar Mulder was hiding in to be blown up, ending things on a massive cliffhanger, one which shook us all up and kept us excitedly talking for a good half hour afterward.

When this ran, ending with Scully announcing to the FBI that "Agent Mulder died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head", we just sat in silence for about five seconds before one of us scoffed, "feh, he's been dead before."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:26 AM on June 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

This was when I lost faith in the mytharc.
posted by acrasis at 4:08 PM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Same here, acrasis. Everything from here out just feels like spinning the wheels and going through the motions.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:20 PM on June 3, 2020

Scully's mother has a beautiful house and a maid answering the door. The Scullys must be wealthy. The Mulders seem quite comfortable but not wealthy.

If my mother ambushed me by inviting a man of the cloth to a family dinner for the purpose of getting me to go back to church again, I would be sooo pissed off.

Mulder interrupts Scully's family dinner to have her meet Arlinsky, saying it "can't wait". Uh, yeah, it could have, at least for a few hours.

Props to the prop department for their creation of the alien corpse. That would have taken some doing.

I detest Bill Scully. He reminds me too much of my overbearing, arrogant, abusive older brothers. Where does he get off lecturing his dying sister on her responsibility to others? Fuck off, Bill. Incidentally, those jokes he made at the family do were so lame ("Sorry I'm late. My ship got stuck in traffic!") that I hope they paid those extras more than scale to laugh on cue.

Gethsemane was the biblical garden where Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested by Roman soldiers. The Wikia page for this episode speculates that the title is an allusion to Mulder being betrayed by Scully, or vice versa, but that strikes me as a ham-fisted interpretation because I can't see that there has been a betrayal. Gethsemane is generally used as a metaphor for solitary suffering and endurance, because biblical legend has it that Jesus spent the night before his arrest alone, praying that he might be delivered from what he knew he faced while his disciples slept, and that he wept tears of blood in his anguish. I think the idea is that Mulder, whom we see in tears at the end of the episode, is the Christ-like figure, who is agonizing that his quest may have been for nothing, that everything he thinks he found is a lie and that he may have gotten his father and Melissa killed and Scully abducted and given a fatal cancerous tumour for nothing.

I don't know how Mulder and Scully could have believed that everything they'd seen was faked. That crowd of aliens that ran by Scully in the dark when she was in that tunnel with the filing cabinets -- how could that have been faked? How could the government have faked the incidents of lost time? And it's just too much of a stretch that Mulder and Scully would lie about Mulder's death to the FBI -- to say nothing of them getting away with it.
posted by orange swan at 3:02 PM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was/ am mostly ok with "Agent Mulder died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head" - Scully just testified that the Conspiracy was a hoax rather than a coverup, but the audience knows that she has experiences but no physical evidence to prove her point. But it still shines a light on the Conspiracy.

So either something huge happens and Mulder did suicide, or she's pulling a fast one - and Scully being Scully - has enough plausible physical evidence to support her assertions despite them not actually supporting the assertions as stated, her believing something contrary, and believes that being part of a coverup of a coverup is important enough to do so.

That last part was my personal hook for this episode/ arc, rather than the salaciousness of Mulder foreheading a bullet. Which no-viewer could believe.

I wonder if the Scullys were Mayflower or adjacent - old family, plantations or the like. Or whether generations of military service and competency to serve as high ranking officers led to accumulated family wealth? Annapolis in pretty posh, isn't it? A median house today is about twice the median for the State, but ridiculously low compared to my locale. My (Asian) aunt, when she was living on Hilton Head (SC), had some friends who employed maids. They were exclusively white and the maids exclusively WOC, mostly AA. One of these I met and they were multi-generation mid/ high ranking officers in the Air Force.

Yeah, Bill is an ass - iirc, he continues to be - but I wonder what his relationship with Melissa was like, if he would even acknowledge her?

My biggest scorn is how Mulder keeps making trips into Canada. Out of pocket? How come there's no Canadian law enforcement liaison - his jurisdiction is restricted to the US. Does the FBI even know about these jaunts? Even back then you'd have to show picture ID (but... depending on the crossing and what one looked like, you might get waived through?) when crossing the border, and that's for surface crossings.

Holy 'The North Face' product placement. Guess they're ok not claiming to stop bullets.

The bees and the black oil and the frozen aliens, those all kind of come to a head after next season in the movie (or something?). That's where I wrote off the mytharc. I thought that it was ok afterwards, but rather prosaic. I kept watching to the end because Reyes was interesting and Dogget was funny, and then sunk cost.

Scully giving it a good (and gutsy!) go hand to hand, but again, mass. This time, likely a skill disparity too. Must have fueled her tight cornering while running in heels. Seriously, continuously awe inspiring (especially stairs). Much respect.

Good on the show for responding to the challenge of a fake alien autopsy, to to a better one.
posted by porpoise at 8:31 PM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Chimera/ hybrid cell. Not impossible. I like this scientist - willing to openly admit when he doesn't know.

His choice of electron microscope indicates hammer syndrome, but Scully enthusiastically agreeing is crap. He just told her that there's some strange microorganism in the sample and he has no idea what it is, whether it can proliferate, or what it does.

C'mon. At least try to keep the sample uncontaminated with normal ambient environmental microbes (there are lots!, they are normally benign/ we've developed coexistence - but if you're trying to culture an unknown microbe from an ice core sample, these modern day neighbours are going to completely eat their lunch. literally). That was completely unbelievable.

(In a later scene) They had the equipment (fully enclosed biosafety cabinet with arm holes), but it doesn't look refrigerated. The transport cylinder is also a little laughable; there's not enough insulation unless there is active cooling (and that heat would need to go somewhere). You'd end up with a puddle somewhere inconvenient within minutes.

The sliding door refrigerator is - a refrigerator. Aren't ice core samples, by definition, ice?

Carbon dating test - assumes organism was metabolizing contemporary terrestrial materials to satisfy it's own CHON+ requirements - specifically that the carbon was from sources originating locally.

Alien from a different star system would have completely different C14 ratios. Not knowing the calibration standards, whether it was contemporary or 500,000 years ago is unknowable.

Good on the alien autopsy doc to put on a face mask, but as Scully (almost?) always does, eye protection.

Double good on the alien autospy doc to talk about carbon dating LAST, to indicate to Mulder that it isn't going to work the way he thought it will.

Hybridization makes sense if one has to apologize for "alien autopsies" - but vertebrates and molluscs (octopodes) are huge enough that alien life forms being anthropomorphic are ... unlikely.
posted by porpoise at 8:31 PM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

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