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The X-Files - Nothing Lasts Forever - Review

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The X-Files season 11 draws to a close with the penultimate episode “Nothing Lasts Forever” written by Karen Nielsen and directed by James Wong. The title and story both seem like a somewhat melancholy shout out to the end of the show. Has the show lost its ability to be relevant in the same way that Mulder (David Duchovny) is losing his sight? Is this simply a natural progression? Are we all ready to move on now? I liked this episode, and it had that classic X-Files feel, but I also found myself surprised to discover that this was the penultimate episode because I still have a lot of questions. In some ways, it’s felt like it took a long time to get here – and yet what about William? Skinner (Mitch Pileggi)? The Smoking Man (William B Davis)? Like Mulder’s denial, the show seems to be in denial about more “modern” ways of carrying a mytharc through a season. Even so, I want the familiar too. I’ve loved the standalone episodes, and that does lead me to think that there is no perfect answer to this question.

There was a religious element that ran throughout the episode that didn’t entirely work for me. Certainly it touches on both themes of good and evil and our “eternal” lives, and the God we worship – whether that is eternal youth or your eternal soul. The first scene introduces the creepy organ-harvesting cult members and Juliet (Carlena Britch) the avenging angel. She’s determined to save her sister Olivia’s (Micaela Aguilera) soul even if it means sacrificing her own. The teaser is a classically gruesome X-Files opener that ends with Juliet harpooning the cult members with the iron fence stakes from the Church – a nice nod to several classic horror movies…

When Mulder and Scully (Gillian Anderson) arrive on the scene there are Agents (Albert Nicholas, Aidan Kahn) who Mulder scares off by focusing on the stakes through the heart! Once he freaks them out, he points out to Scully that there are actually multiple murder scenes – the staked guys killed the organ donor.

Mulder has to pull out his new glasses – which are hot, let’s just all agree – and is clearly sensitive about it as Scully asks “bifocals?” and he clarifies, “Progressives.” She is teasing him a bit, but then points out – strictly scientifically – that it’s just a natural part of aging and it happens to everyone. It’s a nice bit of business between the two of them that highlights some of the dynamics of their relationship. Scully notices any change immediately – and then Mulder asks her if she got her hair cut. TWO EPISODES AGO!!! Because, yes. I noticed! Scully just looks at him and asks “Are you kidding me?” It’s that age old male/female dynamic too. And of course, that’s picked up in the dynamic between Dr Luvenis (Jere Burns) and Barbara (Fiona Vroom).

Barbara, a child actor turned sitcom star, is actually 85, but looks to still be in her thirties, thanks to the “treatments” of Dr Luvenis – who is also in his 80s. His treatments seem to consist of some kind of powder mixed with blood and organs. In addition, and the real power behind his rejuvenation technique is using their followers by surgically attaching them and draining their youth out of them. There’s a lot of handwaving at just how exactly this works, but we’ll just go with it for now. There’s also a lot of handwaving about how the cult members are convinced that they are being made youthful and more beautiful. They are all starving and look like crap as far as I can tell and one would assume looking in a mirror would fill them in, but we’ll just go with it…

Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully follow up on the organ harvesting angle of the case. Scully looks for transplants – following the lead of the organ left at the hospital by Juliet. Mulder, of course, checks into the more nefarious side of it and looks into organs for sale on the black market. Scully isn’t convinced that it’s an X-File.

Scully spends a lot of time in the Church in this episode. We see her taking mass and lighting candles. She asks Mulder for more time in the Church. It’s while they are in the Church that they overhear Father Hardy (Cameron McDonald) tell Juliet to have faith that her sister will be returned to her. This leads to a really interesting scene between Mulder and Scully. Scully tells Mulder that when she was four, her younger brother, Charlie, was very sick with rheumatic fever. Her mother told her to pray for him. Mulder interjects that her brother got better, and she believes in the power of prayer. But in an interesting twist, she clarifies that she got bored of praying for her brother and switched to praying for a puppy – which they got the next Christmas!

Scully confides that she’s looking for strength. There is power in having faith. Scully admires Mulder’s faith in the face of all the obstacles that they’ve faced. Mulder tells her that everyone has choices, and at the end of the day, we have to hope we made the right one.

The power of faith is reflected in the Bocanegra family. We see Juliet and Olivia’s mother (Fabiola Colmenero) praying twice in the episode – once for Olivia at the beginning and then in a nicely mirrored scene, at the end for Juliet. When Mulder and Scully come to talk to the mother, Juliet won’t let them in, telling them that Olivia has rejected God and her family. She tells them that she’s given up on her sister who’s joined a cult. Mulder doesn’t believe her and tells Scully that his gut tells him that Juliet’s involved – and his gut doesn’t need glasses!

Mulder and Scully track the cult to Barbara’s apartment building. Barbara finally opens the door for them after they threaten to get a search warrant. The apartment is dark – sunlight is bad for the skin after all! I loved her cautioning Scully to take better care of herself! Once Barbara freaks out over Scully showing her a picture of Olivia, the followers come bursting out and attack Mulder and Scully. Juliet arrives and stakes Barbara – they aren’t really, really vampires, more like “science-y” vampires – but we get the point… Scully is pushed down the dumbwaiter.

Mulder goes looking for Scully and finds Luvenis – and I love Jere Burns and really enjoyed him in this role. Luvenis is attached to Olivia. He insists that she’s attached to him of her own volition – and again this is a nice echo of the whole, you have to invite a vampire in. It also echoes back to Mulder’s comment about the choices we make. Who we decide to attach ourselves to.
Luvenis insists that he’s found a cure for age. Mulder, however, echoes Scully’s own words that aging is a natural progression. Olivia has a seizure, and Juliet arrives and axes Luvenis. Mulder finds Scully – the garbage in the chute nicely broke her fall, but… she stinks!

Juliet also echoes Mulder’s comments about choice when she tells them not to feel sorry for her. She made her choice. She knows she’s going to jail, but it was her decision to sacrifice herself to save her sister.

The final scene returns to Mulder and Scully in the Church. Mulder re-lights Scully’s candle and tells her that he’ll extend her hope through his prayers. Scully asks him what prayers, and Mulder tells her not to say or they won’t come true! She tells him it’s not like a birthday cake – but it underlines that Mulder doesn’t have the religious faith that Scully has – or at least wants to have. Mulder tells her that he might not believe in God, but he does believe in her. He says that it’s why they’re so good together – that blend of reason, faith, and harmony. And Scully asks him, “are we together?” in an attempt to clarify that relationship.

Scully tells him that she regrets having left, and Mulder worries that he’s cost her a “normal” life. She assures him that she’s never blamed him for that. I did like that this was a nice retroactive clarification and also felt like a continuation of the concern that they had over their influence in Skinner’s life path. Mulder tells her that he’s standing right there next to her. Listening. And that’s his choice. Scully whispers something in his ear, and then says she wants to take a leap of faith forward. Together.

If this is how the series does end, I’ll be happy if it’s with Mulder and Scully together. I can be satisfied knowing that they are out there, together, looking after each other and chasing the latest x-file. I liked the various layers of this episode and the way it wove into some of the other episodes this season. There were definitely some plot holes, but Vroom and Burns delivered terrific guest performances. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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