The X-Files: The End   Rewatch 
June 22, 2020 8:46 PM - Season 5, Episode 20 - Subscribe

After an ex-National Security Agency assassin kills one of the two players at a chess match between a Russian chess master and an American child prodigy named Gibson Praise, Jeffrey Spender is given the case, and though he explicitly asked that Mulder be excluded from his investigation, Skinner asks Mulder to join the team.
posted by orange swan (5 comments total)
This was about the point where I totally lost the plot on what was supposed to be going on with the big conspiracy and I'd hoped The Movie would settle things, but that just raised more questions. It was around this point that I concluded that there was no planning and no answers and they were just writing it as they went along.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:30 AM on June 23, 2020 [3 favorites]

Season 5 was the last season filmed in Vancouver, and the (huge!) chess match audience was composed of local fans of the show. The venue held 17,500 people and they filled it -- and had to turn away another 5,000 fans. Well, I guess they wouldn't have had to pay them anything. Nice as it was to see a Canadian setting for the chess match, with its TD Bank sponsor and a Mountie appearing on the scene after the Russian player was shot, the murder investigation would never have been handed over to the FBI -- Canadian authorities would have handled it, thank you.

Gibson Praise was supposed to be 12 in this episode, but he looked much too small to be 12, so I checked Jeff Gulka's actual age. Jeff was 11 when this episode first aired -- I suspect he was just small for his age. Also... a 12-year-old boy would not have wanted to hold Scully's hand.

It would not be fun to be or live with a mind reader, at least not as Gibson describes it. It amuses me that he rang Mulder's number and discomfited him, but liked Scully.

If Krycek and his partner didn't want to kill CSM, why the hell did they approach his cabin masked, stealthily, and with guns drawn? Did they really think he wouldn't get a tad edgy? That was Not Smart.

We also meet Diana Fowley in this episode. I'm not too enthused -- I always found her off-putting. She can just fuck right off for her little "I would be a better partner than Scully because I agree with you" ploy. Scully, or course, is even less enthusiastic. That subterfuge of hers -- where she pretended to be driving to work rather than at the facility where Mulder and Diana were -- seemed out of character for her. Have we ever heard her lie to Mulder like that?

Frohike wears cartoon pajamas. Also, he and Langley live at their shop, but Byers has his own place... I guess?

I won't bother commenting on the development of the mytharc given that it's just more of the usual poorly conceived nonsense. Why on earth would the assassin have chosen such a public setting in which to kill Gibson? He had to take such a long shot and had no chance of making a getaway.

That final scene, where Mulder and Scully survey the burned out X-files office, and she tries to hold him and he doesn't respond to her, was another example of Mulder's self-centredness. As much as he values Scully and wants her to work with him, deep down he thinks of it as his work and his office -- it's been five years and he wouldn't even get her a desk.
posted by orange swan at 12:04 PM on June 23, 2020 [4 favorites]

It's sad to see us, one by one, confess where we gave up on the mytharc. I gave up a few episodes back, but boy, Gibson made my heart sink. The young-boy-with-burdensome-power trope was not needed now, or later, with William. I can't think of Spender now without remembering how annoyed I got at him later.
posted by acrasis at 3:21 PM on June 23, 2020 [3 favorites]

And, before we begin season six, our rewatch discussion continues in the existing thread for The X-Files: Fight the Future.

(I thought the first X-Files movie hadn't been posted, but it turns out I was wrong, probably because the name of the movie is not actually Fight the Future as I had thought, but simply The X-Files -- it's just been dubbed that retroactively to distinguish it from the second movie.)
posted by orange swan at 7:03 PM on June 23, 2020

Haha, Servo5678. Too bad that this two parter is more engrossing than the movie.

Gibson was dramatically tragic, and I remember my heart breaking every time he showed up because his life is so completely fucked. That and we got to see him at his most awkward ages. Gulka grew up looking exactly like I'd pictured - he looks better with the beard.

I've been realizing ever more the amount of inexplicable things, like the sniper assassin's place and timing choices (and that plastic gun for Max's hit on the plane), is that someone simply thought the idea was cool or just plain poor writing that I had previously glossed over.

Diana Fowley is not a sympathetic character and I surmise that she was specifically written as a foil for Scully and possibly to help show Gibson's good judgement. She's too pro-Spooky and Mulder should be questioning her motivations.

The Scully-Mulder call, I read it as she knew Fowley and Mulder were both at the facility, and she wanted a word with Mulder at work without Fowley eavesdropping (or just to get Mulder away from bad news) and got Mulder to head to their office leaving Fowley behind.

Frohike and Langly were misfits selling pirate cable boxes (like bittorrents of the 90's), so I guess they kept freelancing. I wonder if Byers kept his job with the FCC and is essentially bankrolling TLG with an electronics shop as a front? Byers is definitely there with a robe over his jammies when Scully shows them far too low resolution brain scans.

Skinner is such an awesome boss, but Mulder treats his loyalty just like he treats Scully's. At least Mulder is equal opportunity self centered.

The idea that not all genes are "turned on" was popular in the 90s, but doesn't bear scrutiny. A lot of that "junk" DNA is very likely to be structural and plays a role in regulating cell-specific and situation-specific gene expression. There's a bit of junk from ancient retroviruses and silent duplication events ("pseudo genes") but not nearly as much as people assumed back then.

They're also using "the god module" wrong. That (silly) idea has to do with ecstatic feelings during epileptic seizures of that area and an association with religious delusion.

Burning out the X File's office - when was the cusp of when everything started getting digitized? The decade post 2000?

There was a blatant shot at 9:40 of Science World - a nice goodbye gesture to Vancouver. ...and another at 40:00.
posted by porpoise at 7:21 PM on June 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

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