This X-Files review contains spoilers.
The X-Files Season 11 Episode 9
For a show that continues to evade the cold grip of television’s grim reaper, The X-Files to its credit has been pleasantly self-aware this season. The show was pumped with an infusion of fresh blood, giving new, diverse voices a chance to write and direct, while the old guard of the franchise maintained that X-Files look and feel that fans longtime fans demand. What could be the show’s penultimate episode is a perfect distillation of what went right in the show’s eleventh season.
Written by Karen Nielsen (a script coordinator on the show who is penning her first solo episode) and directed by X-Files vet James Wong, “Nothing Lasts Forever” is a nod to the futile quest to outrun death and perhaps a cheeky ode to the show’s own pending fate. In this case, outrunning death for the central characters of this monster-of-the-week episode means taking life (and organs) from others. The cold open begins with an organ harvest with a twist, as a vigilante disrupts the operation process and murders a thief in cold blood. It was one of the more captivating cold opens of the season, one that could easily be a cool opening of a feature film.
The episode was far from a thriller, though. It’s more of a character study. Stealing the episode away from Mulder and Scully is Dr. Randolph Luvenis (Jere Burns), who has some ideas on the science of reverse aging. His patient, a former ‘60s sitcom star Barbara Beaumont (Fiona Vroom), is an 80-something-year-old woman who doesn’t look a day over 30. What’s their secret? They drink blood and organ smoothies of the downtrodden youth they convince to join their cult. And if they really need a pick-me-up, they surgically attach a youth to their backside. This is why The X-Files props/wardrobe department is one of the best in the biz.
Praying on the vulnerable, Luvenis and Beaumont created a cult that promises an “ascension.” The young cult members, the ugly ducks, hope to become as beautiful as Luvenis and Beaumont. Much of the episode is spent in the dark, creepy basement apartment where Vroom literally and figuratively puts on a dazzling performance. She deserves to be up there with some of the great antagonists in the series’ monster-of-the-week canon.
Other than a commentary on our society’s sick obsession with beauty, the episode effectively questions the choices we make in this one and only life we have. At the center of it is Scully’s faith and her questioning why they continue to let their lives take a backseat to their work on the X-Files. As great as this episode is, and this season as a whole, there does come a time when everyone needs closure. Regardless of what happens in next week’s finale, it feels like we got that from Nielsen and Wong. I’ll admit I screamed and clapped a bit when Scully leaned in for the whisper, wondering, hoping, and praying that right there in the church the lovebirds could work it all out.
Mulder may not believe in God, but he always believes in Scully. Reason in faith and harmony is why they’ll eventually end up together, even if the episode tells us that a previous attempt failed and it was Scully who fled. In an episode about overcoming your past and making sacrifices for the people you love, it was the small character moments that make us wish this show could last forever. It can’t and it won’t, but with “Nothing Lasts Forever” we could at least savor it for a little bit longer.