Be Careful What You Quest For

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Title: Be Careful What You Quest For
Creator: 0516
Date(s): 2002
Medium: online
Fandom: X-Files
External Links: The Cave's X-Files Commentary Archives: Themes: Be Careful What You Quest For, Archived version
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Be Careful What You Quest For is a post-finale commentary essay by 0516.

It is one of many essays at The Cave's X-Files Commentary Archives.

The Essay

... you just might find it. Re-watching the final scene last night, I was struck by the magnitude of what CC gave us through Mulder and by the deeper level upon which things were not resolved but >remain<. By Mulder's and Scully's "Being" at the end - in Heidegger's sense of the term "Dasein" - literally THERE BE or NOW existence. Mulder has searched for The Truth since the early 1990's. Initially he was driven by his search for his sister. But, as we now know, Samantha was dead about five years before Mulder ever started his quest for her. So, in terms of finding his sister, Mulder's quest was doomed from the start. Instead, he uncovered something much larger - a bigger Truth than the Truth he originally sought. All the while Scully was struggling to keep up. As things became more convoluted and fantastic Scully herself became caught up in events - far more than she (or Mulder) could have ever imagined. Scully was victimized by the conspiracy (her abduction, the loss of her own sister), just as Mulder was through the loss of his entire family. Throughout the carnage Mulder and Scully grew closer - as humans typically do during tragic times.

It is tragedy that unites us. Out of that bond came William and the tragedy of Mulder's disappearance. And, thusly, Doggett and Reyes. Doggett was affected by the evolving conspiracy in a way he could appreciate - the supersoldiers. (As it turns out, a necessary development so Doggett could have a part of the larger conspiracy HE could believe in. He never bought the alien stuff.) Ultimately, the X-Files allowed Doggett to find resolution to the loss of his son, Luke, and (begin to) harness the strength of human relationships anew with Reyes. Monica, for her part, turned out to be the rock in the end around which Mulder's very life was saved. Her deep appreciation of all Scully went through with William and (through Scully) her understanding of Mulder's quest (as similar - from her perspective - to Doggett's quest to resolve Luke's murder) all boiled over in a terrific courtroom scene. Her response to cross-examination obviously began to shift Kersh's perspective on things. And without Kersh, Mulder might not have escaped.

But, in the end, it came back to Scully and Mulder and the questions about The Truth. Mulder found what he quested for and it was not what he had looked for. His sister is dead - unrecoverable, a projection of memory and heart. His conspiracy has grown into genuine Power, the abuse of which is now seemingly linked with Fate. The twin enemy's of human freedom - Fate and Power - are now united against Mulder and rather than crushing Scully - as Mulder feared - it has come close to crushing him. But, Scully knows it won't. Scully knows that there is something within Mulder that will continue to "fight the future" because Mulder's spirit is - at bottom - the best of the human spirit. So, the question - the essential component of any true quest - becomes if the truth you sought becomes your own best enemy what's left? Can the human spirit endure the complete loss of existential meaning, the betrayal of that which inspired it? That is now the result of Mulder's nine-year experience. Is there any more basic question for our time?

The final scene from the final episode takes on greater power and significance when viewed in terms of what was experienced and hoped for by each of our four primary characters over the course of the show. Life is full of changes, of loss, of reunion, of discovery, of fear, of courage. But, as Mulder so aptly puts it, there's hope that "the dead still speak to us" (i.e. experience teaches, the pain and joy of memory can lead if we but let it). That message more so than the reunion of Scully and Mulder and their embrace in the rain at Roswell, touched me at the deepest level as I re-watched the final scene. It really brought the central message home beautifully...this show is filled not with terror or intrigue so much as it is (was) filled with hope. That is why CC chose that very word - "hope" - as the final word. Because when your truth apparently leads you nowhere, when you are "guilty and deserve the harshest punishment," what can we as human beings draw upon but hope to see us through, to fight the forces of fate and power that seek to deny us the very light of freedom and meaning? In biblical times, St. Paul placed "Love" above "Faith" and "Hope." But, today - in our postmodern reality where the truths of the past have been shaken to their foundations and lie in ruins like all that Mulder had tried to accomplish - I would have to agree with Mulder that Hope is our true source of strength. William Faulkner wrote: "Memory believes before knowing remembers." And there it rests.