Previously on The X-Files: Season 11 #7 - Mulder and Scully had briefly met at a magnetite extraction mine in Utah, before he got ambushed by Gibson and she was taken by faceless aliens working with and lead by AD Morales.
Mulder had taken one of the aliens as his hostage and in the midst of escaping he got intercepted by AD Skinner who was being controlled by Gibson, telepathically. Meanwhile, Scully had woken up at a hospital in the outskirts of Salt Lake City. Morales gave her the 411 on her involvement with the faceless alien faction, making it clear that the agent was at the mercy of her orders.
We have now hit the last issue of this series. As you may have heard, IDW has decided to work in tandem with the current timeline established for The X-Files revival on FOX. While the actual details of the upcoming issues haven’t been revealed yet, Joe Harris is really excited to be taking on this endeavor. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Click on read more for our recap and review of “End Games, part 3” the last issue of IDW’s The X-Files: Season 11.
We come back to the moments after Mulder shot Gibson in that post-apocalyptic reality we first saw them at the beginning of the finale. He’s been playing chess with Gibson, while waxing poetically of how, while his life has taken a toll in the battle after the truth, victory actually takes time. It’s a nice conversation about strategy, about the evolution of Mulder’s “game” in comparison to Gibson’s, and how he’s no longer compromised by his ties to others. As you may remember, there was a reference in the first part that Scully had died at some point. Or so we were led to believe.
Gibson gloats about how he always knew that Mulder would figure out his game, but now it’s come down to choosing a path to move forward in this game that’s almost over between the two of them. A young Gibson says that he hopes that they can agree that it was all worthwhile in the end.
Back in the “present” Skinner and Mulder walk through the Northern Utah Desert in the middle of the night. But this is Gibson manipulating Skinner’s body. He’s criticizing that Mulder and the rest of humankind are “evolutionarily incapable” to grasp just how vast the universe is. Mulder thinks he’s selling him short, but Gibson reminds him that he was once willing to accept that he didn’t know everything. To try not to be closed minded about it now. Mulder is worried about Skinner’s well being, but Gibson claims that whatever he could be doing to their friend would be worse if he fails in his efforts.
They get to a clearing that holds a few box trucks, and Mulder jokes if he’s in the import/export business now. The boxes are full of cassette tapes - demagnetized audio tapes to be exact. Skinner/Gibson tells him to continue walking and he’ll find out more answers… and that’s when he sees Gibson standing ahead, inside a bullseye drawn on the ground. Mulder draws his weapon, approaching and telling him to get on the ground. When he steps inside the line, he feels the electromagnetic vibration repel him.
Gibson starts to explain how the power in alien ships has the ability to warp time hence the occurrence of time loss… but there’s more behind it. Mulder thinks he’s joking with this but Gibson is dead serious. He’s concerned about the future.
Meanwhile, in Franklin County, Idaho, the Lone Gunmen sleep cozy in their trailer. Frohike wakes to a noise, confused between Langly’s snores and another thing… the sound of a cassette slapping around and hitting the ceiling of their RV as if drawn by a force. The tape is magnetic, and they better tell Mulder and Scully about it.
Back in Utah, Gibson takes Mulder on a trip down memory lane, presenting him with different moments of their past and future. He was a child when he discovered the potential behind his knowledge. Stretching the time allowed him to disappear in plain sight. This knowledge also allowed him to start thinking long term on how to use it to even hide his own knowledge of it.
Mulder theorizes that he’s been carving the magnetite to attract alien ships and use their capability to warp space and time. Gibson explains that the notion of beginnings and ends is not accurate but time actually moves in circles. Mulder throws in a Doctor Who joke but Gibson is beyond humor right now. He needs him to get serious about considering how aliens interpret things, and that while Gibson’s brain is barely human, the future inheritors of the planet will see things through all perspectives while having a myriad of means to achieve their objectives. The place that Gibson has taken him allows him a peek into different planes and times where anything is possible. We’re even served with images of the reality that Mulder and Scully confront in the revival. These are realities unknown to Mulder and he’s fascinated by it.
Gibson confesses that he’s leaving soon, and Mulder just thinks that he’s abandoning them to the alien forces in exchange for these abilities. But Gibson argues that he’s had to carry the burden of not being understood, of knowing that the plan that he’s carried and devised is for the benefit of everyone but no one understands it. Mulder wonders what it is that Gibson wants from him: to try to also get control of these time warping opportunities to use it against the forces trying to take control of the planet? That’s when Gibson gets aggravated and accuses him of not listening, not realizing that he’s no longer communicating telepathically with him… but actually speaking. Something is wrong… and that’s when Gibson gets knocked by Skinner, who’s off of Gibson’s control. Yup, something is going down. He didn’t even hear the man coming up behind him. Only one thing has gotten in the middle of Gibson’s ability to control everything. Cue the faceless rebels.
Numerous SUVs arrive with a cloud of dust, headlights blinding the two men. Inside one of them, Morales informs Scully that they’d detected a crucible. Gibson wasn’t able to cover his tracks from them. The faceless are the hunting forces that Scully fears are Gibson’s allies. Mulder can get caught in the crossfire. Morales doesn’t give a definite answer but does warn that people could get in their way. This confirms that Mulder is in danger but Morales thinks that she should worry more about Gibson instead. That’s when the Lone Gunmen text Scully’s cellphone.
Outside, a debilitated Gibson reminds Mulder that he should have trusted him. Skinner wants to get out of there but as Mulder points out, they may be too late, as a giant UFO hovers over them as well. Two faceless aliens approach them and get repelled by the rays shot by the craft. One by one, the craft starts blowing up the cars on the ground; Scully tries to escape but Morales stops her. She then realizes as she slaps the woman, that Morales is also a faceless alien. She manages to escape in the brink of time, just before their SUV is blown to pieces.
Under the UFO, Gibson stands under the tractor beam that begins to elevate him towards the craft; he was ready for this moment. Mulder and Skinner look in awe as Scully joins them. This was his game all along. The UFO starts elevating the trucks off the surface as the agents run for cover.
Mulder had been a hostile participant of Gibson’s game. He was presented with all the faults he had supposedly inflicted on the kid’s life, how he had failed to protect him. Mulder had found himself compromising his life and principles trying to stop Gibson Praise. But the only way that Gibson could achieve his plans was by asking for help to entities different than his past alliances.
As Gibson continues to be elevated to the craft and Mulder could almost take the shot that could finally kill the man, Scully shows him the text from the Lone Gunmen: the demagnetization is only temporary. Gibson’s master plan was to make everyone believe that he was the enemy to be fought, from every aspect… to ensure that he would be taken by these forces, out of this planet, and leaving the human race to create a future of his own. But he needed to convince even Mulder that he was to be hated, to be destroyed… As an ultimate redemption though, by being able to take Mulder to this particular place, he showed him the present ability to have different realities in alternate time and spaces that could give a different outcome… so he could escape the reality that we’re presented at the beginning? He’s left Mulder and Scully to begin their own road to the future they make.
I came to this issue without actual expectations but with a lot of curiosity of how Joe Harris would wrap this story up and give a plausible way to what’s to come. Even though it took me a re-read or two to get my head around the concept, it’s quite clever to use the “warp” as a way to not only justify the shift but also give closure and reasoning to Gibson’s motivations.
I have to admit I probably wanted to see more of this story on screen than some of the stuff I saw for the revival. The truth of the matter is that regardless of its eventual faults, Joe Harris’ proposal was very well received by a large portion of the fans and it gave a different take on characters that we never dreamed would find the demise that they did in this series. There were many triumphs for IDW's take on The X-Files and this should be actually held as a badge of honor.
It is very clever and actually rewarding to me that Gibson’s character wasn’t at the end striped of all of his “humanity” and made a senseless villain for the sake of having one. This last part actually delivers redemption that made the journey much more valuable and makes you reconsider all those seeds planted and all those actions that went unnoticed along the way. Now I definitely feel like the experience of rereading these as a binge, knowing the ending, would be a completely different ride.
For me, Harris’ Mulder and Scully are true to the ones that Chris Carter made us love while still having his own style. The sense of partnership and even the romantic longing was clear in the pages as we went through the whole ride. It kept a welcoming balance between the two elements, allowing for some neutral zone for the different sides of the audience.
I would have truly loved more involvement of the “supporting cast.” While we got a fair participation of the Lone Gunmen, Monica Reyes, John Doggett and even Skinner to some extent, we could have been used more and given us more inside look into their lives after “The Truth.” It would have been so welcoming especially because of their level or nature of involvement (or lack of thereof) in the current storyline for the show.
As of late, I found myself minding the complexity of the dialogue, and this is an aspect that bothered me enough to question if I was truly getting the meaning of what Harris tried to convey. Sometimes, even though it became a character trait for Gibson, it felt that it brought less benefits than expected… though, I do appreciate the opportunity to exercise different muscles when trying to marry with certain narratives.
I’m really thankful to the opportunities that Joe gave us to touch upon current matters, like geopolitics, environmental issues and even the odd economy and cultural commentary. Most of the time, I was left wanting more and this is a good sign.
Of note - as always - is the work that Matthew D. Smith and Jordie Bellaire put on the creation of these realities and the collaborative spirit behind it. It was a very rare occurrence - if it ever really happened - that I felt that the story wasn’t supported by the artists. In this particular last issue, my favorite panels were those with the looking glass; it’s so easy to have flashbacks and flashforwards seem cheesy and out of place and this really translated nicely. The character's facial expresions were great in this last issue and throughout the series, upping up the ante on what we received.
As for the covers, with a regular one designed by Menton3 and a Subscription cover by Robert Hack and Stephen Downer, it was a hard choice but I really enjoyed the latter. In general, and while I found myself every week always choosing the alternates, I really enjoy Menton3’s work, and overall it captures a sense of eeriness that it’s true to The X-Files as a whole.
I can’t wait for the next stage of these comics, though starting with the new “season”, Sophie Brown will take on the distinguished task of carrying on with these reviews. It’s been a pleasure to analyze and discuss this property for the last years, and I’ll continue being a faithful reader and fan.
I want to thank Denton Tipton and Joe Harris for always allowing us to have such a direct line for every kind of commentary and enriching conversations about these comics and the show. Thanks for your continued support, it’s been a pleasure to accompany you guys along the way.