The nature of faith and worship is one of an interesting case for me. I use to be one of a religious sort, but even then, I would question everything about it, because I there was a lot of inconsistencies to me. This isn’t an episode about the loss of faith, though, as much as it’s about the nature in of worship, and why we put our faith into idols.
Let’s get into it. We begin with an organ removal, and we can tell that this isn’t done by any official means because they are in a warehouse, also, because the dude is alive and healthy before they remove his heart. Also, one of them lick a pancreas to make sure it isn’t infected. Suddenly, a vigilante comes in, and ruins the operation, spouting religious phrases as she dispatches of these surgeons, and crooks.
Mulder and Scully come in to investigate the aftermath. As usual, Mulder is looking for the X in this file, where as Scully thinks this is a waste of time. During the investigation, we get this wonderful look of these agents being near the end of their road. It’s something small, but it’s a great touch. Mulder needing glasses, and being defensive about it, and Scully possibly admitting that she has gout is really funny. They talk about how it’s natural to be aging, but they don’t talk about how they are getting to old for this job, just on how they adapt so they can keep doing their job.
After this, we quickly find out the culprit behind the organ stealing operation is group of people, pretty much a cult, being lead by a woman, Barbra Beaumont, who is 85, but looks as though she’s 33. This woman was a super star in television 50 years ago, and is able to stay young because of what a certain doctor does to these organs. This is probably the best villain of the season so far. The way she lives in the past, and dwells on her beauty, and gets off on her power over people is chilling! I can’t think of another villain I was more interested in this season, than this woman who people see as a Goddess. I’m not sure how they get brainwashed in such a way that they act like husks, but this little plot hole doesn’t matter at the end of the day.
What’s also striking about the episode is how brutal it is, in multiple facets of the story. First, in a gore sense, and this episode is super gory! From the eating of organs, to the slitting of throats, I haven’t seen an episode this bloody in a long time, but this gore has a purpose. The brutality of these actions coincides with the brutality of Barbra herself. She calls her followers ugly, but in a way a mother would. She promises everlasting life, and love, and beauty, but that only comes from becoming part of her (a.k.a. she eats people to stay young). She is a malevolent Goddess, but her followers just focus on the Goddess part. It’s the worship that she brings out of these people which is the most disturbing thing, as things happen like a man stabbing himself so that she can eat a heart today. It is one of the most horrifying instances of blind worship I’ve ever seen, which makes this episode rank among the best episodes of the season, maybe even of the show.
Worship of an idol is one thing, but also the worship of your past is another. Every since Barbra found out a cure to aging, she took it without a single moral thought. On the “Kitten” episode (the Haley Joel Osment episode), I mentioned the theory of aging being needed as a force to make you see perspective as a story point (which turned out to be super wrong), but that literally happens here. Barbra never ages, and therefore, she can never learn, because she’s afraid of losing the thing she worships the most, her past. So enveloped by this worship, she’s willing to kill, and kill again for it. I’ve spoken about this woman for 3 paragraphs now, and I feel as though I can keep going. She’s such a good character, minus the huge logic leaps of faith.
Less seen, but also cool, is the vigilant. She, unfortunately, doesn’t get a character as interesting, as she is a religious (and this episodes version of a) vampire hunter whose looking for her sister. She doesn’t have much to play with, but she makes up for it in how good of an actress she is. You can see the pain, and determination with every scene that you see of her. Her worship of God is one of brutality as well, as she dispatches these people, but not without her praying for their souls first. Her worship of God is used as justification of murder, instead of calling the police of anything.
We even get to learn about Scully’s worship of God. We get this wonderful story about how when her brother was sick, her mom told her to pray for him to get better, and he did. But the thing is, she didn’t pray for her brother, she prayed to get a dog… which she did at Christmas. There’s something weird and wonderful about a fact based woman, a skeptic like Scully, who still has the faith. It’s like the one unprovable thing that she’s willing to except. Scully has more belief in God, than Mulder does of aliens, and there’s something great about that. I wish I had that faith again.
Now, with an episode so interesting, and gory, and fun as this one, it does come with some downfalls. The ending seemed very rushed for the story they wanted to tell. Everything comes together a bit too neatly for my tastes. There is some scary bits, and a great cult attack scene, but bad guy is dispatched with somewhat relative ease. Also, we don’t really find out what happens with the vigilante. We kind of do, she’s probably in jail, but I feel as though we were owed a final repentance scene with here being ok in prison, as her family is seeing her, or something. The last scene we get with the family is fine, but it feels like we skip several beats of information.
The final scene is probably the best scene. It’s Mulder, and Scully, at a church, talking about their faith, meaning of prayer, their relationship, and their work. This is a beautiful scene which explores the relationship that they have together in ways that even they don’t understand. It honestly should have been the last episode of the series, because it exemplifies their relationship so well. Their relationship isn’t defined by them being lovers, it’s much more than that. They are basically each others life blood. They can separate and do their own thing, but they feel more alive when they are together. The fact that this isn’t the final scene in the series is a missed opportunity (and who knows, depending on how the series ends, I may headcanon it this way.)
This was a great episode. It was fun, gory, thought provoking, and just an example of what this show can do at its height. We have one more episode left, “My Struggle IV”, and if the first episode of the season is anything to go by, we are going to bookend this season with a particularly awful episode. I wish this show would continue, I wish we had this show for years to come, but unfortunately… nothing lasts forever.