The X-Files, “Provenance”

Scully, your son must die.

By Diana Estigarribia
March 05, 2002

Carter and Company tackle another of the remaining questions in The X-Files mytharc–i.e., just what the heck did Scully give birth to?–in the opener of a fast-paced edge-of-seater.

You may have wondered what ever happened to that spacecraft discovered by Scully on her little African jaunt a while back. Well, seems that ship was hardly unique, and the Bureau has been secretly investigating a UFO cult with evidence of more alien spacecraft. The episode introduces the idea that these ships may be scattered all over Earth, possessing the writings of Earth’s major religions and the basic scientific knowledge of the human race.

This is the coolest revelation in a slick episode that relies on Gillian Anderson’s performance to cover up the usual X-Filey plot holes and implausibles.

It’s a flawed episode, a mere shadow of once-great conspiracy stuff, but there is that Scully angle. Her baby’s life is threatened by the very FBI agent working under deep cover in the UFO cult, who was seen escaping with more rubbings from that other ship.

Scully shoots him, and almost leaves him for dead, the one person who could possibly tell her the reason why her son threatens the world situation so much. What is good is just how crazy Scully gets: she breaks down doors, shoots to kill, yells herself hoarse, and in general has that “don’t-mess-with-me” look that only mothers know about. Gillian is no-slouch in the acting department, and she’s cold and icy in the face of FBI interrogation, tender and girl-bonding with Monica, and of course, kick-ass mother-protecting-child. Gillian can still do more with one look than most actors accomplish with pages and pages of dialogue.

Will barely escapes with his life–again–and there are more hints that he’s more than just a cute bundle of joy. In one of the episode’s more effective moments, both Scully and Reyes witness a piece of the ship’s artifact fly out of a drawer and zoom toward Will–only to hover above his head. Creepy and cool.

This should all be expected, though. After nine years of The X-Files, there are certain Carter- and Spotnitz-isms we are all very used to. You just know that the kid is going to figure in the whole aliens thing. Plus they love to focus on the threat personified by one person: the Bounty Hunter, the Reanimated Billy Miles, the Super Soldier–a Terminator-like being, acting alone (or representing a larger group) who pursues our heroes single-mindedly.

Naturally there were also the usual lapses in logic. Why is Skinner suddenly acting like a prick? He keeps the X-Files and Doggett at arm’s length, and he hides the information about the possible death of Fox Mulder from Scully, because he thought it might “break [her].” What are you up to, Walter?

And this secret investigation about the rubbings–it can’t be that secret if Doggett can just waltz into an office, open a drawer and presto!–let me just borrow these rubbings for a sec.

And in the disturbing penchant for putting Doggett in the hospital–I’ve lost track how many times he’s been shot, beat up, run over, killed, died…is this meant for the Doggett-haters to enjoy seeing the character bopped around? I for one am a rabid Doggett dame and would like to see this trend ended. Right now.

The cutest moment comes when the Lone Gunmen show up to try and rescue William. The tableau is Three Men and Baby, conspiracy-style.

Hopefully in these last days of a great series we will see how the link between the old “sixth extinction” mytharc and the birth of Scully’s child plays out.