In the concluding issue of the four-part mini-series, we find teenage Mulder and Scully embroiled in their own separate conspiracies that somehow link together. Read under the jump for our spoiler-filled review of "The X-Files: Origins" #4.
We pick up with Fox, Eric and Tim in the woods of Martha’s Vineyard where, last issue, they had discovered an injured someone (or something) wearing a strange suit. While Eric and Tim panic, Fox pulls himself together and notices that the being is surrounded by the same green goo they discovered earlier. Despite the other boys’ panicked admonitions, Fox removes the helmet.
Together with Eric they steal a wheelbarrow from a nearby garage which is filled with boxes - all labelled with the names of people who worked on this comic. Returning to Tim who has been left to guard the injured man, they scoop him into the wheelbarrow and race out of the woods, pursued by men wielding flashlights and guns. Unfortunately they run straight into a Jeep driven by more of the same, only this group also has Eric’s father with them. The boys stumble over their words trying to explain what they were doing in the woods, only to have Eric’s father cut them off and proclaim them heroes.
At the hospital, Eric’s father explains that the man is a pilot with the Oceanographic Institute he works for whose plane was lost at sea. The men combing the woods were simply on a rescue mission. Fox is unconvinced, demanding to know why the search party was armed, but Eric’s father just smiles and gently explains that the plane was using “the latest technology” that they didn’t want to fall into Soviet hands. The boys safely out of earshot and on their way home, Eric’s father is approached by the leader of the military group overseeing the research who commends him on his quick thinking but questions whether or not the boys “bought it.” Nearby, the injured man awakens in surgery to the sound of a buzz-saw, his screams echoing out into the corridor.
Across town, the boys ride their bikes and discuss whether or not they believe that they have been told. Fox wonders aloud whether they have stumbled across “Space Race part two,” a race between the U.S. and the Soviets to make first contact. Meanwhile, Mulder’s father receives a phone call from the Smoking Man who has heard that Fox was at the Institute. He points out how much tragedy the Mulder’s have already faced, and how damaging “another loss” could be to them. Angered, William Mulder growls back that he “can handle it,” pleasing the Smoking Man who notes that their work “has only just begun.”
Over in California, Dana is confronted by a strange man in a trench coat at the beach after spotting the same symbol from Mr. Wilson’s mailbox on a rock. The man appears appears to see her as a demonic creature and begins praying. Mercy appears and calls to Dana, getting her away from the man and the two go for ice cream to discuss the incident. Mercy suggests that perhaps the man put the symbol on the rock and on Mr. Wilson’s mailbox. Connecting the dots, Dana realizes that might mean he’s the killer and races back to the beach.
Meanwhile, Admiral Scully sorts through the papers Eric’s father handed over last issue, looking for “something important.” Eventually he discovers a name circled in red ink - Officer Christopher Farrell. Later that day, Admiral Scully waits in his darkened office for Farrell. When the officer sneaks inside to place new reports on the desk, Admiral Scully confronts him for “a little talk.”
Back at the beach, Dana and Mercy question everyone they can find about the mystery man, eventually discovering a tent under the pier marked with the same symbol. The girls creep inside where Dana discovers a gun and Mr. Wilson’s Bible. They inform the police who are initially angry at the girls for continuing to investigate, however, Dana spots the man watching them and gives chase. The man halts in his tracks at the sight of Mercy, who appears to him as an angel, allowing the police to catch up. The detective begrudgingly praises Dana for her work but as they drive off with the suspect now in custody, Dana admits to Mercy that she feels no better for solving the case. The suspect, she is told, is “just some crazy guy” who happened to go off when Mr. Wilson was around - meaning he died for no reason. Mercy attempts to console her, claiming that “everything happens for a reason,” but Dana is unconvinced. “That’s what everyone keeps telling me,” she replies, walking off alone.
Dana makes her way to the beach, where she rips off her cross necklace and hurls it into the ocean, struggling to believe that God has a plan given all she has come to know. From a distance, Mercy watches her before walking away into nothing.
Later that day, the detective pulls over to hand off his “crazy guy” - now revealed as a Major Devore - to Lt. Commander Williams. Across town, Admiral Scully makes his way to an unmarked building and through a door labelled “Authorized Personnel.” Inside, he finds the Smoking Man waiting for him, and ready to have “a little chat” of his own.
I have loved this mini-series, which is why I have to admit this concluding issue feels like something of a let down. Although I’ve come to expect no real answers from The X-Files in general, Mulder’s story peters out with no real conclusion, and both leave far too many threads loose to be considered entirely satisfying. Who was Mercy, and the other blonde haired girl Mulder encountered? Why was Mr. Wilson killed? Who is Major Devore, and why did he see Dana as a demon and Mercy as an angel?
In particular, I had hoped to see more of the events which led Eric’s father to go from the man we see in Mulder’s story, to the one we see in Scully’s three years later, something that for now is left to our own imaginations. The ending we did get, in which we saw young Fox discover strength he never knew he had and the determination to keep digging, was enjoyable but felt lacking. I truly hope that the “The End…?” does indeed signal that we can expect more from this story line in the future.
As for Scully’s story, I also have my worries. One of the things I particularly enjoy about The X-Files is the different backgrounds Mulder and Scully come from, and how that impacts their investigations. Mulder’s past a sordid mixture of conspiracy, betrayal and shattered family, Scully’s a more wholesome upbringing shielded from the machinations of the government conspiracy she would one day help to unravel. By introducing Admiral Scully to the Smoking Man back in the 1970s, Scully’s history begins to shift in ways I hope won’t come to destroy this dynamic.