What a great two-parter. We were treated to a detailed, yet understandable storyline that wove through each season masterfully. Old strings were finally tied up but new developments are sure to prompt even more questions. Bravo to the X-files crew for crafting a great mythology arc.
So here's what happened in the first episode of the "Two Fathers"/"One Son" storyline:
In a medically-accessorized railcar in Arlington, Virginia a group of well-sterilized doctors slices open Cassandra Spender's belly with a laser. Green alien blood oozes from her wound but the slit on her stomach quickly heals, leaving nothing but a green residue in its wake. The doctors in the room exchange glances that say "My god, we've created the perfect alien-human hybrid! Let's boogie!"
But the boogie night will have to wait. Dr. Openshaw, a conspiratorial doctor and one of the leaders of the hybrid program, drops in to view the results of Cassandra's successful operation. The group of doctors goes out to celebrate their development, but before they can spread their lovin' in the streets of Arlington a faceless alien rebel appears and torches every one of 'em with his glorified Zippo. The Rebel storms the railcar and burns the bejezus out of Openshaw, but he doesn't touch Cassandra. Instead, he gazes upon her in a disturbing no-eyes sewn-mouth kind of way.
Cassandra's successful hybridization has created a tsunami -- and this churning wave is heading right toward the Syndicate. While waiting for the impact, the Cigarette-Smoking Man sits calmly in a dark office, sucking on a Morley and waxing poetic about the events that have transpired over the last fifty years. He's spilling the beans and filling in holes through a monologue.
If you've been paying attention for the last five and a half years, CSM's monologue is nothing particularly new -- but this is the first time everything has been carefully spelled out. CSM explains that he and his cohorts had "the perfect conspiracy." Beginning with the crash at Roswell in 1947 the Syndicate had formed an alliance with an alien race. This alien race was here long before humans ever crawled from a primordial pool, and now they were ready to return. For the last 50 years CSM and the Syndicate had paved the way for a silent colonization and their plans were good ones, but even the best-laid plans can go awry. The appearance of the Faceless Rebels has thrown a galactic monkeywrench into the colonization but there's another, more personal, thing that's gone off-course. CSM's son -- Jeffrey Spender -- has betrayed his father. The grim look on CSM's face suggests that Spender's betrayal is a far worse development than the screwed colonization.
The scene shifts to the Bureau where AD Skinner visits Spender in his basement office. Skinner shoots a number of barbed comments at the young agent -- all dealing with his lack of production on the X-files. Unfortunately there's no time to properly dress-down Inept Jeffy because his previously-abducted mother, Cassandra, has magically reappeared in an Arlington railroad car.
Spender and Skinner arrive at the Potomac Trainyard where they find the remains from the previous night's rebel barbecue. The alien Hibachi left only two survivors: Dr. Openshaw (who's on life support at a hospital) and Cassandra Spender (who is intact and fine). Spender tries to ask his mother what "they" did to her, but she doesn't want to speak with her son -- she wants to talk to Mulder.
Mulder's alien quest is momentarily on hold as he creates his own version of "Hoop Dreams" at a community gym. He's engaged in a vigorous battle of half-court b-ball but he notices when Scully enters. Sensing a chance to impress her with his athleticism, he buries a twenty-footer then calls game. Scully is unimpressed -- as usual -- and tells him that someone at the FBI wants him to investigate an X-file.
That someone is Spender. Mulder meets Spender at the Bureau and Spender grudgingly admits that Cassandra asked to speak directly with Mulder. Mulder delights in his new-found power over the young agent, but Spender doesn't respond well to this good-natured ribbing. He claims the he only wants to find the truth. This was a bad move because we all know about Mulder's Pavlovian response to that word. Unable to control his smart-assedness Mulder says: "The truth is out there Agent Spender, maybe you should find it for yourself."
While Spender digs for the truth, his daddy visits Dr. Openshaw at the hospital. Openshaw is in nasty shape. He's holed up in a Michael Jackson-endorsed hyperbaric chamber, but the purified air won't save him from the extensive burns he received at the trainyard. In spite of his wounds, Openshaw is able to tell CSM about the successful hybridization of Cassandra. CSM is not happy about this development. Openshaw gravely tells CSM that Cassandra must be "terminated" (such a lovely term). A sad expression sweeps over CSM's face. Openshaw is also a liability -- and he knows it -- so CSM shuts off the oxygen flow to Openshaw's life tube. As the burned doctor tumbles into the murky oblivion he closes his existence with these words: "A man should never live long enough to see his children or his work destroyed." *GASP* *COUGH* FADE TO BLACK...
Another conspirator's existence is also coming to an end. The usually-reticent Second Elder is enjoying a solitary pre-colonization evening at his home in Silver Springs, Maryland. The Second Elder receives a phone call from CSM who informs him of Openshaw's death and the rebel attack on their railcar hybridization experiment. An emergency Syndicate meeting has been called so the Second Elder sets off to pack his bags for a quick trip to New York City. Before he can stock his ditty bag the doorbell rings. A very-much-living Dr. Openshaw is standing there. The Second Elder realizes this is a big fat trap and attacks the doctor by ripping off his face. Oddly enough, the face peels away like Silly Putty and beneath is the constipated countenance of an alien rebel. The rebel has dropped in to host an exclusive barbecue right there in the Second Elder's front hallway.
Back at the Bureau, Mulder is holding a late-night vigil in front of his computer, viewing pictures from the railcar burnings. Scully drops by and asks him about the case, thinking Mulder would be excited about working on an X-file. He's not -- in fact he thinks it's a ploy. He believes those in charge have given him one final opportunity to completely destroy his career. Scully's not so sure. She sees this case on a personal level. If the agents talk to Cassandra then maybe Cassandra can explain why Scully was abducted and tested. Mulder really can't argue with that, so the two travel to meet secretly with Cassandra.
When Scully enters Cassandra's hospital room she finds her old abductee friend engaged in a battle with the green goo. Thankfully, the green goo isn't alien blood -- it's Jell-O. Scully offers to grab a wheelchair and take Cassandra for a spin, but Cassandra has different plans. She hops to her feet, shows off her newfound walking ability and tells Scully to lead the way. Apparently the alien HMO offers benefits that extend far beyond typical medical care.
While moving through the hall, Cassandra admits that when Scully walked in she was hoping Mulder would also appear. Scully dons a gameshow smirk and says: "Cassandra Spender, it's your lucky day! Hidden behind Door Number 2 is a 6-foot, big-nosed agent who spends all his time shouting at the heavens, desperate to find aliens! Come on down!"
With that game show stuff out of the way, Cassandra and Scully enter an empty room. Mulder emerges and Cassandra expresses her joy by threatening to pee on the floor. Thankfully she doesn't. Instead, she tells the agents about her year-long alien experience. The news is not good. She explains that the woman Mulder met in "Redux II" was not his sister -- his real sister is still "out there" with the aliens. But it gets worse. Cassandra's former declaration that the aliens were on Earth to do good was a crock. These aliens aren't do-gooders, they're pillagers. Their plan is to wipe out all other life in the universe (they're ambitious) by infecting everything with the black oil. This oil is known as "Purity" and Cassandra explains that its the aliens' life force. Their sinister plans have hit a roadblock because the faceless rebels are doing everything they can to thwart the domination. But there's more. Cassandra says that her son is part of the conspiracy. Clueless Agent Spender is working with his father (and Cassandra's ex-husband) to help the colonists.
The scene returns to CSM's monologue as he mournfully explains that Cassandra was the key to 50 years of work. Once news of her successful hybridization reached the Syndicate (and, in turn, the aliens) the colonization would begin. But if he could kill Cassandra then her success wouldn't be known and the colonization could be postponed. CSM, however, can't kill the mother of his child. Anyone else would already be a goner, but his wretched old heart still has some humanity. Who knew?
The vantage point shifts to the emergency Syndicate meeting where Krycek is reporting on a series of rebel attacks. The railyard burn-fest wasn't the rebels' only mission. They torched facilities in Arizona and New Mexico (which probably means that Roush Technology will be looking to relocate). The Syndicate members mull over these developments and that's when the Second Elder (the one who supposedly died in Maryland) suggests they join the rebels. Ah-ha! The sneaky rebel has disguised himself as the Second Elder and he's infiltrated the Syndicate. He would have gotten away with it if he had kept his damn mouth shut, but oh no, Mr. Alien Man has to spout off his rebel propaganda. For some strange reason, CSM is the only one who finds the Second Elder's suggestion odd. He shoots a cancerous glaze at the Elder and tells him they've worked for 50 years to develop this program, so there's no point in siding with the doomed rebels.
Speaking of work, Mulder and Scully have returned to the Bureau. Knowing that someone is monitoring their computers, the agents use Spender's machine to access files. Mulder searches for information on the Spender family and that's when he runs across a horrible picture of CSM. "Smokey's got a name," Mulder says. And that name is....C.G.B. Spender. Unfortunately, a name is the only thing he's got. Additional information is unavailable. It's just as well because Skinner appears in the doorway to warn Mulder and Scully that Spender is on his way. The three conspiracy-crackers rush out of the office, but their getaway is thwarted when Spender and a team of nondescript agents (who were those people?) round the corner. Spender smugly thanks Skinner for capturing Mulder and Scully and says he'll make a note of his help in his report requesting the agents' dismissal from the Bureau. The Weasel strikes again!
After ruining Mulder and Scully's FBI careers The Weasel visits Big-Daddy Spender at the Syndicate offices in New York. Now that he's successfully bagged Mulder, Spender wants the truth about his mother. CSM basically tells Spender that he can't handle the truth (or his job for that matter) and Spender takes umbrage with this remark. Unfortunately, when he stands up CSM smacks him silly and tells him "you pale to Fox Mulder." Spender can't catch a break. His mother tells him loony stories about alien abduction, his conspiratorial father won't let him in on the Big Secret and his career at the FBI is a joke. Little Jeffy just can't do right.
While Spender's cheek smarts from CSM's smacks, Mulder is diligently working on his jumpshot at the gym. Scully appears in the doorway of the empty court and she's clutching a big cardboard box full of information on C.G.B. Spender. She's learned that C.G.B. Spender is one of hundreds of aliases, which means they'll never be able to prove anything definitive. But Scully's research has turned up three interesting morsels of information. The first is a picture taken in 1973 that shows CSM talking with Bill Mulder. The second is a date -- Cassandra Spender was first abducted on November 27, 1973. This, remarkably, is the same night Samantha Mulder was taken. And the third is a name -- a famous geneticist named Dr. Openshaw was linked to both Bill Mulder and C.G.B Spender. Scully put the pieces together and learned that Openshaw was found at the burn-site lying next to Cassandra Spender. She tells Mulder that he survived the attack but died before he could be questioned. Mulder realizes that the hybrid project -- the project his father, CSM and Openshaw all worked on -- is still active.
Mulder finally has evidence in hand -- definitive evidence tying his father to CSM and CSM to the conspiracy -- so it was only a matter of time before he started putting it all together. CSM, in his monologue, says he knew the gig was up. He was left with only one chance to preserve his legacy.
Unfortunately for Spender, preserving CSM's legacy requires stabbing a rebel alien with a stiletto. Spender is driven to the Second Elder's home by Krycek. His mission is to kill the rebel imposter. If he does it right, he'll do his daddy proud.
Spender worms his way into the house by telling the imposter he was sent by the Syndicate to discuss the rebel cause. The men settle into the living room and Spender awkwardly hands a piece of paper to the rebel, but drops it before the rebel has a grip. It's the most obvious example of "I want you to expose the back of your neck so I can stick you with a stiletto" anyone's ever seen, but the rebel stoops down for the paper. Spender reaches into his pocket, grasps the stileto and prepares to do the deed, but he practically dangles the thing in front of the rebel. The rebel, seeing that Spender is an assassin, shoots up, grabs Spender by the throat and begins crushing. Spender tears at the rebels face, which once again flies away like foam on a cappuccino. Just as Spender is to meet his end, Krycek appears behind the alien choker and stiletos the imposter with deadly accuracy.
Spender and Krycek then spend a quiet evening reading poetry and watching the alien's body decompose on the living room floor. While Spender tries to understand what he's seeing, Krycek baits him with information. He explains that Cassandra has been a test subject for over 25 years and Spender's father was the director of those tests. Spender was placed on the X-files so he could protect the project. This is news to Spender. He uncontrollably rises to his feet as his spine starts to take shape, then walks off, declaring "I'll be my own great man." Krycek's eyes twinkle with the knowledge that he just played Spender like a violin.
CSM's monologue kicks in, but this time we see that he's not telling his story to the camera, he's speaking to someone we can't see. With his son's betrayal and the colonization imminent, he asks this unseen person for help. Agent Diana Fowley rises from her chair, caresses CSM's shoulder in a completely uncalled for manor and says: "I'll help you. It's not too late." Eww.
At roughly the same time, Skinner visits Mulder and Scully at Mulder's apartment. Mulder explains the connections Scully has found through her research. Skinner is incredulous, especially when he learns that Agent Spender's father is CSM. All three realize that Cassandra is in danger, especially since Spender was the one charged with her protection. Skinner rushes to the hospital, but when he arrives, Cassandra is gone.
Cassandra has used her hybrid tracking abilities to find Mulder's apartment. She rushes in, crazed and desperate. Someone pounds at the door shortly after she enters and Cassandra tells Mulder that she has to die. If she dies the colonization will be postponed, but if she's caught the world is officially screwed. The pounding increases as Mulder reaches for his gun and points the barrel at Cassandra's head. Scully protests as Mulder aims....
And that's when it ends...
Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.