In the first of two reviews this week, Baz Greenland looks at the gory penultimate episode of The X Files season 11.
There have been many gory moments in The X Files, but Nothing Lasts Forever, the penultimate episode of The X Files season 11 (and possibly the second to last episode ever) was certainly one of the most disgusting entries in the show’s history.
The gruesomeness of the tale was established in the opening sequence, that began with a organ transport on a living body. But it was the moment the Doctor licked the bloody pancreas in his hand that defined just how nasty this episode would be. There were plenty of blended, bloody organ milkshakes and people surgically sown together to leave you with an uneasy feeling. It was not an episode to watch while having your dinner.
New writer Karen Nielson brought something rather macabre to the table; a cult led by two eighty-five year-olds in search for internal youth. Fiona Vroom’s Barbara Beaumont, a faded TV star from the seventies would not have been out of place in Death Becomes Her, presented and portrayed as a tragic figure consumed by her own desire for beauty. But being The X Files (and a particularly dark instalment at that), we saw that she revelled in her glory by being worshipped by sycophants and then literally consumed their raw organs to stay young.
Jere Burns’ Doctor Randolph Luvenis was an equally nefarious character, literally fusing himself to his victims to feed over their blood and rejuvenate (and I thought it was only Hannibal that would present humans sewn together in a twisted, gruesome act). Nothing Lasts Forever wasn’t in season four’s Home territory but at times it was one of the closest episodes to have that feeling in years.
While I enjoyed the darkness of this story, it wasn’t an episode without faults. The fusion of evil cults and eternal life with religious symbolism never really meshed effectively; Carlena Britch’s Juliet ‘La Avispa’ Bocanegra, hunting down her missing sister Olivia by hunting down the doctors harvesting organs with church spikes felt like something out of a different show (though if there was any opportunity to crossover with Buffy The Vampire Slayer, making Juliet a slayer would have been it). The trouble was we never explored her broken family in detail – all the main plot points were there, but it really did feel as if we were only seeing parts of that story.
And something perhaps more controversial; if you removed Mulder and Scully from the episode, would it have worked? Technically yes; Juliet was the ‘protagonist’ of the story, taking out the Doctors at the beginning, finding her way to the cult’s location and impaling both Barbara and Randolph before literally tearing her sister free. Mulder and Scully spent much of the episode in churches, talking about Scully’s faith and Mulder’s lack of it.
It was wonderful to spend time with these characters knowing there is very little time left – and it finally confirmed for shippers everywhere that they were destined to be together, while also reaffirming her hope to reunite with William (handily the finale might just do that) – on a side note I’m writing this before watching My Struggle IV so as not to influence my thoughts on this episode. More intriguing was what she whispered in his ear before the end…
Nothing lasts Forever was at atmospheric, memorable episode but not without its flaws. Still, there is a standard to season eleven that has rarely been broken, and its great that the show can still shock and disgust after all these years…
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