"Nothing Lasts Forever" is a wild ride, rocketing us back and forth between two extremes hard enough to give us whiplash. The premise is pretty twisted; a cult of cannibals, led by a former Hollywood starlet, eat human-organ smoothies to achieve eternal youth.
The episode opening really sets the tone: two doctors in the midst of an obviously illegal warehouse surgery, and one of them takes a break to slurp on a freshly extracted organ. "Shame to waste a perfectly good pancreas."
Well, I didn't burst into flames when I crossed the threshold. I guess they really do forgive a lot.
— Fox Mulder
Scully definitely seems to be going through something; she's spending a lot of time in church. This is the first throw-back to her history with Catholicism in recent seasons, and the episode even gives us some backstory on her experiences with faith during her formative years. The sheer amount of continuity was a revelation; The X-Files is not known for that.
I finally know why I'm not a Christian, Scully. My parents never got me a puppy.
— Fox Mulder, an actual puppy.
The episode touches on different reactions to the aging process, both with the youth-seeking cultists, and with Mulder defensively donning a new pair of glasses to accommodate the onset of presbyopia. "They're not bifocals, they're called progressive lenses".
Mulder and Scully seem to be handling the process more gracefully than Barbara Beaumont, the cult's self-obsessed, 85-year-old leader (who looks 35, if that). Her husband, a former doctor, has discovered how to cure aging, albeit in a gruesome way; surgically attaching willing victims to his back, or pureeing their organs into smoothies — Barbara's "dinny", as she calls it.
She's kind of like Mother Gothel in Tangled, but with cannibals.
One of the newer cultists is the sister of the episode's dark heroine, a religious zealot who exacts revenge on the cult by killing their members with stakes through the heart. (The gore factor in this episode is high, if you couldn't tell.)
How Barbara convinces these poor folks to play along is anyone's guess, but they all seem to go willingly to their deaths, rewarded by her sheer presence and the occasional serenade. One man gleefully guts himself and allows himself to be disemboweled by his fellow cultists as Barbara croons "There's Got to be a Morning After" on the home stereo. It's a quintessential X-Files moment; I admit, I laughed.
Mulder and Scully eventually find the cult, but not before the zealot murders Barbara and her husband. "Don't feel sorry for me," she says, knowing she'll go to prison for the crime. "I made a choice."
Mulder: I'll relight your candle, and extend your prayers through mine.
Scully: What prayers?
Mulder: I can't tell you, they won't come true.
Scully: It's a prayer candle, Mulder. Not a birthday cake.
Mulder and Scully's conversations in the church are like love letters; sweet and understated and probably the most we've ever heard them talk about *them* in…well, ever. Scully believes in God and the power of prayer. Mulder believes in choice and consequence, and Scully.
I may not believe in God, but I believe in you.
Mulder to Scully, in a church. Probably the closest we'll ever get to a wedding.
But what's on Scully's mind, exactly? That, we never really find out. She leans in to whisper a prayer to Mulder, but the audience can't hear it. "That's not my four-year-old self looking for a miracle," she says after. "That's my leap of faith forward. And I'd like to do it together."
Together. Hnnnngggg. My heart.
My first thought is William, praying for his safe return, for them to reunite. This makes the most logical sense to me. She's also ready to be *with* Mulder again, it seems. Maybe there's hope of them becoming a family.
The other running theory in the fandom is that Scully is pregnant after the bedroom acrobatics in episode 3, "Plus One". There was foreshadowing to that effect throughout that episode, but I'm personally torn. A 54-year-old with a questionable fertility history getting pregnant without intervention seems like a stretch, even for The X-Files. Scully's poor womb deserves peace, not pregnancy.
On the other hand, I like the idea of our heroes getting a second chance at the family they never had. Especially if this is the end of the series (and we're to believe it is), I want some kind of closure. I don't think a pregnancy would be my first (or second or third or…) choice, but who knows?
Only a few more days to find out!