Below you'll find a review for the second episode in the "Anasazi" story arc, which, in my opinion, is one of the best mythology storylines in X-files history. All three episodes ("Anasazi," "The Blessing Way" and "Paper Clip") are stunningly written and acted.
Before continuing, I recommend reading the "Anasazi" review. You'll find that this review will make a lot more sense.
At the end of "Anasazi" our overly-nosy hero, Fox Mulder, found himself in a burning boxcar buried in the New Mexico desert.
"The Blessing Way," the second episode in this three-episode arc, begins with a vision of flames leaping from the same boxcar. As we watch the yellow and orange fire streak into the daylight, the voice of Albert Hosteen (the Navajo codetalker featured in "Anasazi") issues a stern warning in a voiceover.
Hosteen says that the Navajo people trust memory over history. History can be rewritten, but memory is truth (unless of course you're dealing with a very forgetful person, but that's a different case altogether). Furthermore, men who seek to destroy memory must be watched, for they are vile and icky people who are up to no good.
As Hosteen says these words, the scene shifts to the modest residence Hosteen shares with his son and grandson. An unusually agitated Cigarette-Smoking Man has dropped by with a platoon of well-armed military personnel. CSM's quest is simple: he wants to find Mulder and, more importantly, he wants to find the stolen Department of Defense files Mulder is thought to possess. CSM's military floozies inflict all sorts of pain on the Hosteens, but each man refuses to divulge the whereabouts of their good buddy Mulder. CSM pouts then runs off; disappointed he won't be able to play with Mulder today.
Scully arrives at Hosteen's house shortly after CSM's departure. Inside she finds that the three Hosteen men have been badly beaten. Momentarily startled by the seriousness of their wounds, Scully collects herself and asks about Mulder's whereabouts. Eric, Albert's grandson, steps forward to take her to the boxcar.
Concerned that her partner has become a slightly warm heap of ashes, Scully rushes to the boxcar site. What she finds does little to allay her fears. The flames have subsided, but smoke continues to billow from an open door on the boxcar's roof. Scully calls out Mulder's name, her voice echoing off the rocky canyon surrounding her. Since Mulder is unconscious under a pile of rocks, he is unable and/or unwilling to answer.
Later that night Scully speeds along the dark highways of New Mexico. As she zips toward an unknown locale the sky fills with light and a helicopter lands on the road in front of her. CSM's military boys rush from the chopper and pull Scully from her sedan, demanding she turn over the stolen DOD files. Scully gives them the paper copy she has stashed in the trunk, but she is unable to fulfill their request for the digital tape (the tape made its first appearance in "Anasazi"). Mulder was the last person with the tape and he is currently unavailable to turn it over. This saddens the military boys. Dejected, they gather themselves and run back to the chopper. Scully watches as they rush off and for the 4,000th time she wonders why she didn't stick with medicine.
Arriving back in D.C., Scully goes before an FBI review board where she's welcomed by a suspension. Apparently the FBI has a problem when its agents miss meetings and inquiries (something Scully did repeatedly in "Anasazi"). Scully lays her badge and gun on Skinner's desk and leaves the office. Skinner rushes after her and the two have a lovely conversation in the waiting room. Skinner insists that an FBI investigation will reveal the facts surrounding Mulder's disappearance. Scully, after all she's been through, knows that any "official" investigation is merely for show. The men responsible for Mulder's disappearance (and possible death) can't be found in any official way. "You wanna get CSM?" Scully asks in a Scottish drawl. "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue."
Well, it didn't happen exactly that way, but you have to admit it would have been cool if Scully had quoted "The Untouchables." In reality she shoots a very angry look at Skinner then walks off as Skinner does that weird twitchy thing with his upper lip.
Scully immediately disregards her suspension and walks down to the X-files office to retrieve the hidden digital tape (she lied about Mulder having it). Unfortunately, someone with a bad sense of humor has nicked the tape, leaving only the empty case behind.
That digital tape has the popularity of a Furby on Christmas Eve. While Scully wonders who stole the tape from Mulder's desk, the cranky old men of the Syndicate are lounging in their stuffy New York City offices, engrossed in a conversation about the tape. The Syndicate's alarmist members believe that 40 years of work are on the verge of being exposed (and knowing what we know now, exposure of colonization will lead to bad, bad things). Seeing that it's all going to hell, CSM insists that they still have control. The black-lunged SOB lies through his cigarette-stained teeth, claiming that he has obtained the lascivious digital tape. Additionally, all parties involved with the tape have been, or will be, terminated. As CSM says this, the Well-Manicured Man's face crinkles uncontrollably. The little voice in the back of his well-manicured head is shouting: "CSM is lying! When Mulder comes back from the dead you have to tell him everything!"
While WMM wrestles with his inner monologue, Albert Hosteen and his neighbors see that buzzards have begun to swarm around the burnt boxcar in New Mexico. Most people would think, "wow, those are some big birds flying up there" but Hosteen knows that buzzards appear when something is in the process of dying. It is less commonly known that buzzards are also attracted to people with very large noses. Using these two seemingly random pieces of information, Hosteen and his friends are able to find Mulder buried beneath a pile of rocks. Mulder is near death but he just happens to have been found by wise people who understand the powers of healing. They bring Mulder's limp body to a small wooden building where they begin a healing ceremony. Oddly enough, the ceremony includes karaoke.
Speaking of karaoke, a distraught and drunk Frohike visits Scully at a very late hour. Frohike has learned of Mulder's "death" and he's dropped by Scully's apartment to grieve in a G-rated, loyal-friend kinda way. Scully invites the little man in and makes him some coffee. As the two talk, Frohike produces a news clipping. The article is a news blurb about the death of Kenneth Soona (a.k.a. "The Thinker"), the hacker who accessed the Department of Defense's database and made the digital tape. Reading over the article Scully sees that Soona was killed two days after Mulder disappeared. Her brain whirs to life as she asks, "Could they be so stupid?" It's unclear what she's discovered, but when Scully gets that investigative gleam in her eye you know something big is gonna happen.
Big things are certainly afoot in New Mexico. Hosteen is in the early stages of a healing ceremony that could save Mulder's life if Mulder's will to live is strong enough. In a voiceover, Hosteen worries that Mulder will choose to stay with his recently departed father (Bill Mulder was murdered in "Anasazi"). If Hosteen knew the kind of relationship Mulder had with his father, he wouldn't worry.
While Hosteen frets, the spirits of old X-files cast members visits Mulder's near-dead form. Amidst a backdrop of stars, Deep Throat appears and urges Mulder to return to the living. Mr. Throat fades into the void as Bill Mulder's ugly face appears. Mulder's bug-eyed daddy floats toward Mulder's bedside and begins to speak with the skill of a low-rent Shakespearean actor. He uses words like "broker" and "pox" and "poison" but what he really wants to say is that he's really, really sorry for all the bad stuff he did while he was alive. As Bill drones on, Mulder's eyes flutter open and he asks his father if Samantha is with him here in the spirit world. Bill says Samantha isn't with him and he promises Mulder that if he returns to the living world he'll eventually find the answers. If Mulder had the strength he probably would have sprung from his bed and wrapped his fingers around his father's neck while screaming: "Why can't you people give me some help?! You're dead! Throw me a bone here!" Unfortunately Mulder is unable to do such a thing so he (and the audience) are forced to interpret Bill Mulder's melodramatic ramblings.
As Mulder confronts the mysteries of the great beyond, Scully visits Skinner to discuss the death of Kenneth Soona. Since she's on suspension, Scully has to use the visitor's entrance to the Bureau. She walks through the metal detector and sets the thing off, but there's a problem -- she's not carrying any metal. Shrugging off this odd occurrence, Scully continues on toward Skinner's office.
Skinner invites Scully into his chambers and she wastes no time in revealing her stupendous evidence. She wants to compare the ballistics reports of Bill Mulder and Kenneth Soona. If the weapons match then it's obvious Mulder didn't murder his father (how could Mulder murder Soona if Mulder is buried in the desert?). It's a perfectly reasonable suggestion, but Skinner refuses to pursue it. Before Scully can argue, Skinner asks her why he's been served with a search warrant for her apartment. Apparently, someone in the government (or a conspiratorial wing of the government) believes she is in possession of the digital tape. Scully insists she doesn't have it, and this time she isn't lying. Skinner dismisses Scully and she walks off, turning at the door to shoot a death glare directly at Skinner's polished head.
As Scully leaves, CSM appears from an adjacent room and asks Skinner if Scully has the tape. "No, she doesn't have the damn tape," he replies. "Now if you don't mind, I've got work to do. Not all of us can go tromping off at a moment's notice you know. Some of us have jobs and responsibilities, but you wouldn't know about that, now would you?" Before we can see the tears welling up in CSM's wounded eyes, the scene cuts to Scully as she leaves the Bureau.
Scully asks a Bureau guard if he could use his sensor to check her for metal. As the guard waves his sensor wand over the back of Scully's neck, the device's alarm sounds. We all know that whenever a metal detector finds something at the base of your neck, it's only a matter of time before you'll be battling terminal cancer while your partner desperately searches the basement of the Pentagon for a cure.
An FBI physician runs an X-ray on Scully's neck and finds a small piece of metal in her soft tissue. She has no idea how it got there but the physician figures it's buckshot or a metal shard she acquired while hunting aliens and monsters. He offers to remove it and Scully, unaware of the significance of the metal piece, accepts. Bad move Dana. Bad, bad move. The physician takes a look at the metal shard under a microscope and it's immediately apparent that Scully has been shot with a gun that fires miniature Pentium chips. The phrase "subcutaneous implant" will now have an evil ring to it.
The next day, Scully is visited by her sister Melissa and the two argue over the implant. Scully can't remember how or where she acquired the magic computer chip, but she refuses to turn to "alternative" methods of recollection (a.k.a. hypnosis). Melissa, who is a big fan of crystals and new age hoo-ha, plays the guilt card, asking Scully to "just do this for me...as your sister." Suddenly the X-files vanish and in its place is a Lifetime movie about the pain of two sisters who grew up in a Navy family. Thankfully, this change only lasts a few seconds.
Scully visits Dr. Mark Pomerantz, a specialist in regression hypnosis (and a die-hard Yanni fanatic). Scully reluctantly begins the session. She describes a man, a light, loud sounds and some kind of procedure, but that's as far as she gets. Pomerantz reaches out to touch her hand but his mere touch causes Scully to snap from her trance. She rushes from his office, dismayed and scared by what she's seen. Pomerantz clutches his hands, angry that his dry, flaky skin caused Scully to wake up. "Moisturizer!" he exclaims. "I should have used moisturizer!"
Disturbed by her hypnotic experience, Scully returns to her apartment where she encounters another disturbing development. While parking her sedan she sees Skinner emerge from the front door of her building. Was the AD dropping by for afternoon tea or could his motives be slightly more sinister?
Scully calls her boss at his office, asking why he visited her apartment. Skinner denies having been there, then curtly hangs up the phone. At first his reticence seems unfounded, but the camera pans back and it's clear that CSM is sitting nearby. Doesn't this guy have better things to do?
At the same time, Mulder has been brought back to the living by his Navajo friends. Albert Hosteen instructs him not to work, change clothes or bathe for four days less his healing be incomplete. Given Mulder's non-existent social life, this shouldn't be a problem. Mulder asks about the visions he saw during his recovery -- he believes he traveled to a distant place where he met Deep Throat and his father. Hosteen explains that what he saw was the "origin place" -- a centerpoint of truth that emanates from within. Being an open-minded guy, Mulder accepts this answer.
Later that night, Mulder appears in Scully's dreams. His face slowly forms out of a background of stars as he tells Scully that he has returned from the dead. He hopes he will arrive in time to thwart the "danger" that lies ahead. Scully is startled awake by the image of Mulder's enormous nose set against a starry night.
The next day, Scully travels to Boston for Bill Mulder's funeral. After the service, she approaches Teena Mulder to tell her she believes Mulder is still alive. Ma Mulder takes the news in stride -- she never liked Fox much anyway. Scully turns to leave, but the Well-Manicured Man stops her. The two walk off from the funeral crowd and WMM warns Scully that her life is in danger. Scully's eyes narrow as she dismisses this comment, but WMM offers two convincing scenarios that scare the bejesus out of Scully.
WMM's Death Scenario 1: "They'll kill you one of two ways. They'll send someone, possibly two men, to kill you in your home or in the garage with an unregistered weapon, which will be left at the scene. Using false documents, supplied by associates of mine, they'll be out of the country in less than two hours."
WMM's Death Scenario 2: "He, or she, will be someone close to you, someone you trust. They'll arrange a meeting or come to your house unexpectedly."
While visions of death threats swim in her head, WMM says that Scully's death would bring unwanted attention to his group -- a group that predicts the future by inventing it. Scully has no idea what he's talking about, but she realizes this isn't the time to toss off death threats.
A few hours later, Teena Mulder arrives at the Martha's Vineyard home she used to share with her ex-husband. Moments after entering, Mulder greets her in the front hallway. She pretends to be happy to see him, but we all know she's an evil woman incapable of genuine love. But there's no time for psychoanalysis of Teena Mulder -- Mulder needs answers. He shows his mother a picture of his father standing with a group of men in front of an industrial building. Mulder is desperate to know who the men in the picture are, but Teena refuses to tell him. All of his searching could be put to an end if his damn mother would talk to him, but noooooo. Ma Mulder can't make it easy on her son. She's got to be difficult. Will someone PLEASE shoot this woman!
Sorry about that. I have very strong feelings about Teena Mulder that occasionally flare up in uncontrollable outbursts. I'm on medication. I'll be better soon.
Moving on. Later that night, Scully returns to her apartment. Her sister Melissa calls, concerned about her ditching the hypnosis session. The sisters agree to meet at Scully's apartment. Moments after hanging up, Scully receives a second call, but the line goes dead with a click. Someone is checking to see if she's home. Scully is now really scared so she raids her sock drawer and breaks out the pistol she keeps handy for "special" occasions. Scully rushes outside to drive to Melissa's apartment. Before she can reach her car, Skinner drives up and demands that she get into his sedan. Scully reluctantly gets in and the two travel to Mulder's apartment where, presumably, they're going to "talk."
Upon arriving at Mulder's perpetually dark apartment, Scully pulls her gun on Skinner and orders him to sit on the couch. Standing over him, her pistol trained on the bridge of his nose, Scully demands to know who sent him. Skinner insists he came on his own.
As Scully and Skinner settle in for a nice night of "talking," Melissa arrives at Scully's apartment. Using her key, she opens the door and is met by a blast from a pistol. Alex Krycek and Luis Cardinal rush toward her slumped body. Krycek, realizing they've shot the wrong person, drops the unregistered gun and runs off. His buddy Luis follows.
The scene cuts back to Mulder's apartment. Skinner tells Scully he has the digital tape -- he's the one who lifted it from Mulder's desk. His reason for visiting Scully was to give it to her. Suddenly, footsteps sound outside Mulder's door. Scully's eyes dart toward the door and Skinner seizes the opportunity. Showing remarkable quickness, Skinner pulls his gun from his shoulder holster and points it at Scully. Her attention shifts back and she's startled to find that Skinner has evened the score. As her eyes widen, the screen goes to black.
To be continued...
Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.