TV Review: The X-Files - Season 11 Episode 9 "Nothing Lasts Forever"

Episode: "Nothing Lasts Forever"

Synopsis: While investigating human organ theft, Mulder and Scully uncover a mysterious cult consumed with macabre rituals.

The X-Files, FOX, TV Review, Science Fiction, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson

REVIEW: Throughout the entire run of The X-Files, there have been a lot of episodes that focused on faith, specifically Scully's Catholicism and Mulder's lack of religous belief. There have also been episodes that have featured variations of the vampire mythos. As far as I know, "Nothing Lasts Forever" may be the first combination of the two. With Gillian Anderson having said this season would be her last portraying Scully and Chris Carter vowing the show could go on, it is tough to not feel that each episode this season is putting a nail in the series' coffin. "Nothing Lasts Forever" is a solid entry in an overall solid season but also servss as a nice farewell to the monster of the week standalone hours before next week's mythology-focused season finale. There have been multiple episodes this season that have felt final but "Nothing Lasts Forever" really cements that things could be coming to an end.

A lot of the hour is spent disconnected from the central storyline, but it all serves a series-arcing purpose. After an opening scene that ranks as one of the bloodiest of any X-Files episode I can recall, it seemed that the hour was going to focus on a cult-like group of cannibals striving for immortality. Instead, we get multiple sequences centering on Mulder and Scully facing their own mortality. First, the agents discuss their advancing age when faced with two very youthful NYPD detectives. Then, Mulder repeatedly has to use his new progressive glasses (not bifocals, he clarifies) which Scully says is all a part of the natural aging process. Repeatedly, the two discuss their faith and lack thereof in god as well as what their lives could have been or will be after they cease working for the FBI. It feels very final hearing the pair discuss their fates and reminded me multiple times that this series has been on and off the air for over two decades and that it truly does have to end sometime.

But on the other hand, the monsters of this week's outing are a mad scientist and a seemingly immortal actress turned cult leader who consume human organs to retain a sort of delayed aging. While the actress is 85 years old and has a complement of zombie-like minions who retrieve organs for her, the real monster is her lover and doctor (played by the always good Jere Burns) who retains his young appearance by surgically attaching himself to willing victims. The latest of those victims is the sister of a young woman who spouts religious dogma as she violently dispatches any of the monstrous cannibals standing between her family and their faith. 

There is a strong story to be told in this episode, unfortunately it doesn't stick the landing. The violent action scenes mixed with the very talky exposition make for an unbalanced hour that is saved by the depth of Mulder and Scully's interactions. The main plot of the episode feels almost like filler as it wraps up neatly to allow for a pivotal and important final scene (more on that in a moment). I wanted to know so much more about this cult and how exactly consuming the organs helps keep them alive. There is even a creepy as hell musical number set to a cult member disembowling himself while the others eat him that ranks as one of the creepiest X-Files scenes of all time. But, the seemingly invulnerable Barbara and the doctor are dispatched easily and the mystery is "solved" in a timely manner. There is even a moment when Scully is pushed into a dark abyss only later to reveal she survived by landing on a pile of old garbage.

The X-Files, FOX, TV Review, Science Fiction, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson

Weaknesses aside, this episode will be immortalized for X-Files fans thanks to the emotionally resonant final scene. Back at the church Scully had been visiting the entire episode, Mulder and Scully share a moment lighting prayer candles. Contemplating their mortality, Mulder asks Scully what she prays for and, in a moment of vulnerability, she whispers it in his ear. At first, I assumed she was leaning in to kiss the father of her son and her soulmate. The look on Mulder's face hearing Scully's deepest wish is enough to tell the audience it is something truly special. Mulder than says that he always wondered how it was going to end, which works as both a reference to Scully's reveal as well as a reminder that next week's season finale could very well be a series finale. It is a pitch perfect moment and one that doesn't need aliens or monsters to sell the power of this series.

As a standalone, "Nothing Lasts Forever" really wastes a unique take on a tried and true plot. Blending cannibals and vampires seems like a no-brainer, but I cannot help but feel that this story could have done so much more with these characters and their tale. But, like much of this season, the focus on Mulder and Scully facing their own mortality has taken precendence. Each standalone episode has somehow referenced the agents and their advancing age while also hinting that, as this episode's title suggests, nothing lasts forever. It is kind of humorous that this story focused on an actress who doesn't look her age trying to retain the success she had on a TV show decades prior as that is exactly what The X-Files is trying to do. This season has been so much better than the tenth that even episodes with shortcomings like this one are far superior to the weakest entries in any year of the show. Hopefully, next week's finale can stick the landing.

Next on The X-Files: "My Struggle IV" airs March 21st - Mulder and Scully rush to find an on-the-run William while the Cigarette Smoking Man pushes forward with his ultimate plan.
Source: JoBlo.com



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