Previously on The X-Files, “Familiar”
In the penultimate episode of season eleven, The X-Files produced another callback of sorts to their earliest seasons by throwing Mulder and Scully into a true grotesquerie involving organ harvesting and highly speculative medical procedures made manifest – in extremely unsanitary conditions. Though the case appeared to fall under the purview of normal agents, once Fox discovered the victims were impaled with iron rods – and the pilfered organs were returned in a cooler with the words “I will repay” written on its top – it was clear something unusual was afoot.
Boy, if that isn’t the understatement for this season…
Written by series script coordinator Karen Neilsen, “Nothing Lasts Forever” dipped into the pool familiar to many X-Philes, that being an examination of Scully’s faith and Mulder’s supposed lack of it. Interspersed between their investigation about the ritual killings and the discovery of the not-vampire hive/the grossest cult ever formed, the pair share their insights on why their worldviews continue to motivate them despite all they’ve endured the past couple decades. Concurrently, we learn more about the estranged sisters caught in the thick of this mire; Juliet (Carlena Britch), the spiritually charged avenger seeking to rid the world of evil does so in the hopes to find her younger sibling Olivia (Micaela Aguilera), a true believer of the cult lead by a faded tv star and demented physician obsessed in perfecting the cure for aging.
The two stories may appear obstinsively dissimilar because of the crudity and overall grossness of the cult’s practices, but faith is at the forefront in both tales. Fiona Vroom excels in portraying the vainglorious figurehead and faded star Barbara Beaumont, who deftly plies the vulnerability of her followers like the lines she constantly rehearses from her decades-old programs. Next to nothing is explained about her association with Dr. Randolph Luvenis (Jere Burns) other than it being a marriage made in convenience. Beaumont wishes to maintain her youthfulness and Dr. Luvenis adores his greatest success, and both are eager to exploit the faith of their “children” whom they (temporarily) saved from disease and infirmity.
This supposed cure-all involves the organs that were taken earlier in the episode, blended together into a chunky smoothie with a secret concoction to ensure the children are healthy and vibrant for their own eventual consumption. Per typical cult mentality, the self is relinquished in service of the whole and these saps believe they’ll ascend into a greater plane through Barbara and Randolph, the latter of which literally siphons the life out of young women by creating a stint between their hearts. I’m unsure whether Neilsen intentionally alluded that placing one’s faith in an exalted yet equally flawed person is usually a life-drained experience, but the symbolism is there in all its abominable, dreadful glory.
Enter Juliet, whose resolute Christian beliefs skewed her perspective on the evils that surround her sister, to the point (no pun intended) that she literally drove them home into her victims’ chests. In her quest to cleanse the world, she is tarnishing her own soul. Nevertheless, the universe worked in mysterious ways after Mulder dropped some big hints about her involvement in the murders. After who knows how long Juliet searched for her sister, she finally was able to eliminate the scourge that had prospered for decades.
Still and all, the more poignant moments involved Dana and Fox discussing their shared pasts, the mistakes therein (notably how they handled William) and more notably, Mulder revealed his regret in getting Scully involved in his conspiratorial shenanigans long ago. As he remarked in the third act, if it wasn’t for the X-Files, she may have rushed through the ranks of the FBI, been his boss, excelled as a medical doctor and lived a normal life. Fox had indirectly tested Dana’s faith so many times because of the sinister machinations of the Syndicate, now that a new iteration has emerged Scully’s belief in the future has begun to waver.
Mulder offered to listen to Scully’s hope for tomorrow and she whispered it into his ear. “I’ve always wondered how this was going to end,” he remarked. It’s an intimate moment that alludes a concrete ending may be in store – if not next week in the season finale, perhaps next season? In any case, the two agents have their faith renewed in each other, which is paramount for the massive battle that’s ahead.
The X-Files S11E9 Review Score
"Nothing Lasts Forever"
The X-Files – S11E9 – Nothing Lasts Forever | David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi | Writer: Karen Neilsen | Director: James Wong