Spoiler alert! The following is a full recap of The X-Files Episode 1109, "Nothing Lasts Forever." Do not read until you have seen the episode. If you need to catch up, check out our recap from last week's episode, "Familiar."
I have so much to say about this episode because it has so much going on -- yet at the same time, it doesn't.
There are essentially two stories going on tonight: the cult, and Mulder and Scully's faith. Her faith in a god; his faith in her. The single thread that seems to tie the two together is the idea of aging. Throughout this season, there have been signs of M&S aging (though to me, they are ageless). It got much more blatant tonight (and far less depressing). The cult is trying to "cure" aging, while Mulder and Scully are dealing with aging gracefully.
I love the idea of the cannibalistic cult. There was some really good stuff in there, demented, gory stuff. But unfortunately, the payoff was uneventful. The cult story seemed to end too abruptly. Juliet had a weak backstory that didn't leave me caring about her and her problems. The first few scenes when we see her, she looks like an anime character. Then, when she starts staking her victims, she turns into a Potential Slayer. Mixed in with all of that, she is a religious zealot who will kill to get her sister back. I didn't really understand what caused her to go from a good catholic girl to a crazed zealot.
Honestly, it felt like the cult stuff needed its own episode, and the MSR stuff needed... well, not its own episode, but a less intense case to be paired with. It almost felt like there was a lot more cult stuff but they had to pull it out to put in more MSR. Luckily, all the MSR stuff, especially the last five minutes at the church, really helped refocus my mind away from the cult and back to my favorite FBI agents.
A back-alley organ harvest doesn't go the way it should when a woman, Juliet, bursts in and kills the two "surgeons" with big metal spikes through their hearts, then drops the organs at a local hospital (even though they can't use them). "I will repay" is written on the cooler.
Mulder and Scully show up to investigate, annoying two young detectives and leading Mulder to theorize -- semi-jokingly -- that they should have been staked with wood to defeat evil. Scully checks to see if there were any recent liver transplants, as those have a "need to use date," while Mulder checks the dark web for illegal organs. Neither find anything they can link back to the crime.
Throughout the episode, we learn that Juliet is looking for her deformed adult sister, Olivia, who left home a few months ago. A card from Olivia reveals that she has "joined another family" and doesn't want to be found. Juliet's deeply religious mother spends her days crying over a photo of Olivia. Juliet is religious too, but she goes beyond devout to zealous. And angry. In fact, she enters a church to speak to the priest while Mulder and Scully are in there. It would have been the perfect way to make the two stories intersect, but instead, it was a missed opportunity.
Next we meet the cult, who was supposed to receive the organs. The cult is run by Barbara Beaumont, an actress who we later find out should be around 85 years old. Instead she looks like she is in her mid-30s, and dying to make a comeback. Her husband, Dr. Randolph Luvenis, who also should be in his 80s but looks like he is in his 40s, created an age-reversing system. The process is never really explained, but it involves drinking smoothies made of blood and vital organs to cure deformed, disfigured people (including Olivia), then, at some point, attaching them surgically to the doctor in order to get some sort of age-reversing goodness.
Unsurprisingly, Barbara is crazy. She is furious when she discovers they didn't get their latest shipment of organs, and cuts Kayla from Luvenis so that he can go out and get back her organs. In the meantime, she eats Kayla but finds she has already been depleted of nutrients. One of her other followers volunteers to be eaten, which she accepts -- but not until after she has sung a rendition of "There's Got to Be a Morning After."
Scully has been spending a lot of time at church this episode. More on that in a minute, but as she and Mulder are leaving the church, Mulder notices three metal rods from the fence around the church have been removed. It doesn't take long for them to find their way to Juliet, who is angry and doesn't want them to look for her sister. She seems less concerned with being caught and more concerned with finding her sister -- and killing the cult.
Luvenis returns to Barbara with the organs, after stealing them back from the hospital they were dropped at. What he doesn't know is that it was all a setup. Scully hid a tracker in the heart and convinced the hospital to lower their security measures. She and Mulder track the organs to a crumbling residency hotel and speak to the manager. The hotel is owned by Barbara Beaumont, but the manager, who has been on this job for seven years, has never seen her or anyone else in her "group." He chalks it up to a series of dumbwaiters in the building that have been refitted to create escape tunnels into the basement and sewer.
Mulder and Scully head up to the fourth floor to visit Barbara. Scully doesn't believe she is who she says she is; after all, she was expecting an 85-year-old woman. Mulder plays along, which always seems to be the safe bet for delusional cases. He looks around and spots a bloodstain on the rug. He calls Scully over, when Barbara starts screaming. Her followers jump out from hiding and tackle each of the agents. Scully manages to free herself, but the cultists don't give up, and end up knocking her down the dumbwaiter. Juliet bursts in and kills Barbara. Mulder tackles her, but realizes Juliet is only concerned with finding her sister, and the cultists are only concerned with their dead mistress. No one is killing anyone for the moment, so he heads down to the basement to find Scully.
In the basement, Mulder finds something far more disturbing: Luvenis and Olivia have finished their surgery. They are now fused at the back. Mulder and the doc debate for a few moments over the possibilities and ethical concerns of eradicating aging. Juliet appears and attacks Luvenis. Seeing this as his chance, Mulder continues searching for Scully. He finds her in a locked trash chute. He pulls her out from decades of garbage like a Disney prince, and sets her down gently. They look like they are going to have a moment, but then Mulder says, "Whew, you stink." "Thanks, Mulder," Scully grumbles good-naturedly. This perfectly sums up their relationship. Juliet approaches them. She has saved her sister, and doesn't mind that she is going to jail, because she will be guaranteed an eternity in heaven.
Of course, this also leaves Juliet's mom crying over another daughter. She has Olivia back, but will never see Juliet again.
Okay, let's get into the MSR stuff now, because that was where this episode shined. I believe that Scully is pregnant after her night (and morning) with Mulder in "Plus One." I have made this assumption throughout the season, but I feel like all the breadcrumbs in this episode are the X-Files equivalent of "proof." First, Scully goes to church no less than three times during this episode -- including at least once during the case. The two sit in a pew and Scully tells Mulder how she came to believe in god. When she was about 4, her younger brother Charlie got really sick with rheumatic fever. Her mom made the kids get on their knees and pray every night. Mulder sees where this is going: she prayed, he lived, little Dana believes in god. But Scully disavows him of this: "After the first couple nights, I wasn't praying for him -- I was praying for a puppy!" They both giggle, and Scully reveals they got one for Christmas. "I finally know why I'm not a Christian -- my parents never got me a puppy!" Mulder exclaims.
After the puppy story, Scully says she doesn't know if she believes in miracles, but she believes in the power of faith, and could use some of her mother's strength right now. What woman doesn't think of their mother when they are pregnant?
Then, in the church at the end of the episode (such a good scene!), Mulder can't answer whether or not they are together (I think he doesn't want to be presumptuous because she is the one who left). He tells her that there may not be a god listening, "but I am standing here, and I am listening. Right beside you. All ears. That's my choice." In a frustrating-as-hell move, Scully looks around, then leans in and whispers into Mulder's ear. "That's not my four-year-old self looking for a miracle," she says when we can hear her. "That's my leap of faith forward. And I'd like to do it together." Mulder nods, almost seems to choke back a tear. "I've always wondered how this was going to end."
The way I read this scene is that Scully wants to raise this child, despite the fact that she is on the older side, and her last two children didn't have happy endings. It would take a "leap of faith" to do it -- but she wants Mulder by her side. Either that, or the cancer is back. But I feel it is more likely a pregnancy.
At first thought, when you hear the penultimate episode is called "Nothing Lasts Forever," you get scared. Mulder and/or Scully are going to die, or end their partnership, or end whatever relationship they may have. But in context, I feel like the title more likely applies to the cult, who are trying to recapture youth and beauty.
Best line in the whole episode: While at the first crime scene, Mulder reveals he has "progressive lens" glasses (bifocals), and Scully teases him gently about it. Mulder looks at her and says, "Did you cut your hair?" Scully stares at him for what seems like minutes before she says, "Are you kidding me?" This is especially funny because Twitter has been freaking out over not getting an answer to why Scully cut her hair. (It's because hair grows, nerds.)
Also: The show opens with a radio show about chem trails! "Kitten" anyone?
We've got one more episode, X-Philes. One more. Anyone have any predictions?