Theatre of the Mind ~ Closure
Since it was anticipated at mid-season that Season 7 *would* be the last for The X-Files, the producers knew they were faced with resolving the story that we first heard about on a stormy night in an Oregon motel room, the foundation on which the premise of The X-Files was built: the disappearance of Samantha Mulder. Most everyone, producers and viewers alike, always assumed that those answers would be provided in the series' final episode. But after seven years, it was decided that the Samantha Mulder story no longer packed the same emotional punch it once did and everyone felt it would be better to bring that story to a conclusion before the end of the year. Thus, the two-partner, "Sein Und Zeit/Closure" was conceived.
Let's review: Amber Lynn LaPierre missing in California ... Mulder personalizing the case ... Mom wants to talk ... Mom kills self ... walk-ins ... don't shoot at Santa Claus ... a mass gravesite ... now it's time for closure.
1. DD does great work with the obligatory Carterlogue.
2. Watching the recovery of the remains of the children who died violently is gruesome, but provides a counterpoint to the vision of the ethereal children who were spared that fate.
3. Tagline change: "Believe to Understand," perhaps a reference to Mulder's comment in the Carterlogue about wanting to believe in and have faith in a higher power that brings comfort and solace.
4. That's what I like to see: Protective!Scully, and the sharing of all-knowing sad smiles.
5. I always thought the department store Santa in "A Christmas Story" was the most sadistic Santa ever. Ed Truelove is the new champion.
6. TWC1: Oooh, I have just the cure for a stiff neck.
7. I think Mulder can now honestly admit he just wants it to be over because the *base* motivation for finding Samantha-to reunite his shattered family-is no longer possible. No happy ending for the Mulder clan.
8. Harold Piller? I thought that was the annoying Vice Principal Scott Gruber from "Boston Public." Actor Anthony Heald, who plays Harold Piller, should have some experience with FBI agents, as he played the arrogant psychiatrist Dr. Frederick Chilton in "Silence of the Lambs." (In another interesting note: Anthony Heald also appeared in the final episode of "Cheers.")
9. Love the Mulder Mini Eyebrow Raise!
10. Harold hasn't exactly done a lot of "local" psychic work, has he?
11. Leave it to Scully to offer up SREs for the Starlight Speculation.
12. If Mulder tells himself enough times that he wants this to be over, even he might believe it.
13. I thought Scully's declaration that she was going back to Washington was a little unfeeling, but I think she did it with love-in hopes that Mulder would follow and would not get sucked into a possible snipe hunt that would ultimately cause him more pain.
14. Didn't a good spirit intervene to save Warren Beatty in "Heaven Can Wait"?
15. Why do some suffer and not others? That's the million dollar question.
16. TWC2: Woo-hoo! Hips before hands is great, but hands on hips ain't bad either.
17. A connection between Amber Lynn and Samantha. I've got a bad feeling about this.
18. How come Scully didn't dig out the regression *video* tape when she listened to the audio tape back in Season 1?
19. Well, now Scully's seen him with bad hair, but she loves him anyway.
20. Could this be a tiny bit of continuity? Mulder's video regression tape is dated June 16, 1989, which means it happened a month after the events depicted in "Unusual Suspects" where Mulder got some "alien imagery" thanks to the gas he inhaled.
21. Ooopsie! Samantha's missing person file says she was abducted on November 27, 1973, at the age of *14*. Don't think so.
22. Agent Lewis Schoniger is named for the next door neighbor of Chris Carter's grandparents.
23. Since Scully's not there to give Mulder the "you might not like what you find" warning, Dr. Zaius has to do it for her.
24. TWC3: Hoo-boy! I'm a sucker for reflecting Mulder. Add Insomniac!Mulder and Yowza!
25. Harold's psychic connections seem to fade in and out. He's no Miss Cleo, that's fer sure.
26. Great scene where Mulder, tired of the Harold runaround, begrudgingly takes the pen and paper and sarcastically waits for the "message from beyond" with mounting frustration-as *we* see the ghostly Teena appear behind him. Then DD's great look when he realizes he has written something on the paper with no recollection of doing so (and we didn't see him do it either). Plus, this was a nice tie-in to the automatic writing explored in SUZ.
27. "April Base"? That's it? After nearly 30 years she couldn't be a little more specific?
28. Of course, we all knew when Scully said she was going back to Washington that she wouldn't let this drop. It's a nice touch throughout this episode to see her commitment to helping someone she cares very much about find closure.
29. C.G.B.S. I think that's a clue.
30. GPM: Even though Mulder reverts to his "I've got to do this my own way" snippiness, any phone call that starts off with "Mulder, it's me," is good phone in my book.
31. Harold has hit a nerve: Mulder *is* uncertain of whether he can accept finding out what really happened to his sister.
32. In the original script, there is a scene between Scully, Skinner, and Agent Schoniger discussing the fact that the Treasury Department is not happy that the records regarding Samantha's abduction are being pursued. The OS also ran a script crawl from this scene that was not part of the final episode. If you're interested, you can find both versions, as well as other script changes and interesting facts, at http://members.home.net/laurawitte/sd_07x11.html.
33. Unusual to see Scully with a big old ring on her right hand as she answers the phone. Now if only we'd see Scully with a big old ring on her *left* hand in Season 9 ... She also seems to have replaced her lovely striped sofa. When did she have time to go furniture shopping?
34. It says a lot when people mysteriously appear in your apartment so often that you're not even surprised anymore.
35. Guess CSM's recuperative abilities are not as good as Mulder's. Looks like his little plan to be the new "savior" didn't work out as well as he had hoped.
36. Only CSM could confuse extreme cruelty with "kindness." (Although it seems to me that telling Mulder a long time ago that his sister was dead would have pretty much gotten Mulder out of the Consortium's hair, so I'm not sure of the logic in that statement. But of course, we know there were extenuating circumstances where CSM and the Mulders are concerned ...)
37. How fitting that one of the streets that Mulder and Harold pass as they break into April Base is "Albatross Street," since Samantha is most certainly the albatross that has been around Mulder's neck for 27 years. BTW, this cliche comes from the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." In the poem, the ancient mariner kills the albatross, a bird considered to be lucky by the mariner's shipmates. After the bird is killed, the ship falls on hard times, and as a sign of placing all the guilt for their misfortune on the ancient mariner, his shipmates hang the bird around his neck. The phrase, "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink" (paraphrased) comes from the same poem.
38. I liked the symbolism of the handprints in the cement. And the "Jeffrey" handprints were a shocking but pivotal clue.
39. Since she provided the clue, it appears that Teena knew all along where Samantha was, and that makes me sad, as she might have saved her remaining child from so much suffering for so many years. Though she *might* have been ignorant as to what actually happened to Samantha, the fact that she knew where she was seems to point to her duplicity with CSM.
40. As always, DD and GA make the most of their scenes together. I love the fervent argument in the motel room about Samantha's fate, as Mulder's frustrations from his nearly three-decade search run head-on into Scully's frustrations at having to pick up the pieces from that search for the past seven years. Yet throughout this argument, you never doubt how much these two care for and respect each other.
41. TWC4: Woo-hoo! The man looks fine. And I love how he uses his hands to demonstrate when he's talking about the handprints.
42. Oh, I forgot to mention that I was suspected of killing my son and that I have a history of mental illness? Guess that slipped my mind!
43. Looks like Harold and Mulder are both seeking permission from Scully to pursue the proof that Harold offers about Samantha's fate.
44. Scully, what is up what the too-tight jacket? Unbutton the button, girlfriend.
45. I think Scully is still trying to keep Mulder grounded in reality, but I find the "seance" comment just a bit too snotty. (Though I'm all for the postman/spin the bottle follow-up!)
46. BIG kudos for the effects department! I absolutely *love* the effects of the souls from different eras surrounding the trio as their seance begins. And I love the fact that from Scully's point of view, her hand remains suspended in mid-air, as if Mulder's hand never leaves hers when he's led off to find the diary.
47. DD and GA again make the most of the diary-reading scene, DD doing a great job with the emotional reading, trying to remain calm and detached so he won't break down; and GA providing emotional back-up without saying a word, perhaps letting Scully reflect on her own abduction experience in a kind of spiritual bonding with Samantha. Great work (but too obvious for the MSRM!).
48. The final page Mulder opens to but doesn't read aloud says: "No more. No more tests. No more questions. I'm getting out of here and not turning back. Tonight. Tonight I'm going to run far away. I can't let them catch me. They'll kill me if they do. Running for my life, for the rest of my life."
49. So it appears part of the mystery has been solved: After her abduction, Samantha lived with CSM while someone (aliens or the Consortium?) performed tests on her until she escaped at the age of 14. Now for the rest of the story ...
50. TWC5: Outside the diner, illuminated by starlight and Denny's. Mercy, mercy.
51. The scene outside the diner reminds me so much of "Paper Hearts," right down to the "get some sleep."
52. Okay, here's what I think Teena said to Mulder as she whispered in his ear while he slept peacefully: "Fox, be sure and sleep late tomorrow, because I've already visited your friend Dana and told her what she needs to do to find out what happened to Samantha."
53. And obviously, everything worked out, cause Mulder got to sleep till noon, and what Scully was looking for appeared like it was looking for her. Teena's work here is done.
54. Appropriately enough, the hospital where Samantha appeared when she escaped is named for St. Dominic Savio, who is the patron saint of children and the falsely accused.
55. Mulder's prepared to accept the worst, but can't help getting those hopes up one more time.
56. MSRM: I think it's a great testament to the bond these two share that Scully offers to take the burden of those final steps at "the end of the road" for him, and an even greater testament that he accepts. This is a moment he has been seeking for 27 years, but instead of facing it alone, he is grateful to have someone to share the weight. And there's no greater love than that.
57. Samantha must have been one memorable little girl. Or the nurse has one amazing memory to be able to recall events in such detail after 20 years. But she does a great job in the small role, and her chilling account makes us believe that CSM was the only possible person who could be smoking a cigarette in 1979.
58. It's very sweet that Harold, and then his son, alternately help Mulder find the truth.
59. As the empyreal Amber Lynn smiles up at Mulder and he watches the other bright light children play jumprope and hopscotch and experience all the other joys of childhood they were cheated out of here on earth, he realizes the "walk-in" theory is true. These children were all about to meet a horrible fate, and something or someone stepped in to save them that pain and suffering. I think that's a wonderful theory if it were true, but I just have one nitpick: It's really nice of these "good" spirits to intervene and save the children from meeting a terrible fate, but I don't understand why they make the parents write incriminating notes that could have disastrous consequences (like jail time, for example). Is that how the good spirits get their kicks?
60. TWC6: Holy Flaming Cow! With that hazy lighting and the look of contentment on his face, it's a special moment as the search of 27 years comes to an end.
61. I know I'm biased, but I would have handed DD the Emmy for this one defining moment- the moment of realization that the girl running toward him is Samantha. In that moment, as he says her name, a thousand different emotions play across his face in an instant. Joy. Amazement. Awe. Confusion. Realization. Bewilderment. Surprise. Shock. Understanding. Disappointment. Defeat. Sorrow. Relief. You name it. And in that instant as she embraces him, for just a moment there is Sadness. For just a moment he is frozen in time, realizing only now that Samantha was dead long before he ever started to look for her, and resisting the urge to put his arms around her because he knows that if he does, it will make it all final. Then as Samantha looks into his eyes and touches his face, he realizes he has been granted a special gift: the opportunity to be reunited with his sister one last time. And no matter how bittersweet, he must grasp that moment. So as he embraces her warmly, touches her hair, his face again conveys the wide range of emotions as years of pain are lifted away- Release. Contentment. Comfort. Happiness. Peace. Freedom. Closure. Other actors can chew the scenery all they want-give me this kind of subtlety any day of the week. DD does some of his best work *ever* in this episode, and this moment is a fine example.
62. I suppose that in order to believe the "answers" that are provided here, it's best to forget the Samantha clues that we've been given for the past seven years-clues offered up by the Alien Bounty Hunter in "End Game," and Cassandra Spender in "Two Fathers," and even Bill Mulder in "The Blessing Way"-all of which indicated that Samantha was still alive. But in all fairness, neither the ABH or Cassandra could hardly be considered reliable sources and Bill Mulder was ... well, dead. (Which reminds me: Strange thing about Ma and Pa Mulder; they seem to talk with their son more when they're dead than they did when they were alive. No wonder the poor boy is so screwed up.) I guess if you're a serious mytharc aficionado these discrepancies trouble you; but I gave up on Figuring It All Out long ago. I think "Closure" deserves to be enjoyed on its own merits, and thus I'm willing to put aside the incongruity and worry about that another day.
63. Love the way Mulder touches Scully when she asks where he's been. No ditching anymore. To me, it was an "I'll tell you later" kind of touch.
64. Kudos to Anthony Heald for his perfect reaction to Mulder's news that his son was really dead, instead of reacting calmly in an "I already knew that since I'm a psychic" kind of way. After accusing Mulder of not being ready, it is Harold who is unwilling to accept the truth.
65. As many times as the words "I'm fine" have been uttered between these two, I think for the first time Mulder really means them. And with two words, Mulder tells Scully, and us, that he is finally ready to close this chapter of his life and begin a new one: "I'm free." Finally free of the anguish, the guilt, and the pain of not knowing. Free of the self-imposed responsibility of reconstructing an old family and free to concentrate on building a new one.
66. While many were disappointed with the conclusion of the Samantha Story, I was not. I kind of like the "transformation to starlight" notion and would like to think that perhaps Samantha and others like her were spared the suffering and ultimate fate that would have befallen them. I like the fact that Samantha remains forever young in starlight as she waits to be reborn; and call me an idiot if you will, but many nights when I'm walking under a star-filled sky, I wonder, just like Mulder did, if these are souls, traveling through starlight, looking for homes. And above all, I like what this episode is all about: not walk-ins or starlight, but love. Mulder's love for his sister, Scully's love for Mulder and her fierce desire to protect him from further anguish, and Samantha's love for a brother that she could hardly remember yet, despite everything, could never forget.
67. When "Closure" was preparing to shoot, Frank Spotnitz told David Duchovny that this would be the last time he would have to play the man who was missing his sister. I hope to God that is true. Because whether you liked the conclusion or not, the unkindest cut of all would be to "take it back" and revisit the case of Samantha Mulder again sometime in the future. Granted, this is unlikely now that Mulder is gone, but I suppose it's not impossible. After years of misdirection and red herrings, it's time for the 1013 boys to leave this one alone. As Agent Schoniger said, "Word of advice, me to you: Let it be." Mulder got the closure he was looking for; and we, the X-Files faithful, deserve closure too, "just like anyone."
Whew. That one's done. You know, just for a minute there, I had this powerful feeling, and I can't explain it, but that this is the end of the road. Nah. Still a season-and-a-half to go of these silly TOTMs. So I guess I should apologize, but I'm not going to.
"I haven't done that since high school."