Shane Harvey/FOX
January 17, 2018 at 09:00 PM EST

The X-Files

TV Show
Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny
Chris Carter
Current Status
In Season
Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi
We gave it a B

The conversation gets more muddled. Judy pushed Scully’s buttons the last time she visited, taunting, “Past your childbearing years. You’re all dried up. Not even half a woman.” Every woman’s worst fear, you see, like Rachel, is to be old and childless. It’s a stereotype that diminishes Scully’s sense of her own worth, and even if it is in line with how much she fought to have kids in the original series, this feels like a discussion Mulder and Scully are only having now because they weren’t on our screens 15 years ago. The question of whether she — or he  — might want more kids is one they both would have dealt with before they reached their 50s. They’re talking around the real issue again, the one it would be more interesting to see them tackle head on: Scully’s struggle to accept that her decision to give up William took away Mulder’s one shot at being a father.

Instead, Mulder clings to the idea that there might be a double of a one-time opportunity (never mind that all doubles in this episode are dark; never mind that giving birth a second time killed Rachel). He asks Scully what’s stopping her from trying for more children. “Besides the fact that the first time was a miracle?” she asks, leaving out the daughter she had before William, Emily — the little girl born from the eggs that were harvested during Scully’s abduction, whom Scully met and lost one very sad Christmas in season 5. “And besides the fact that I don’t have anyone to have one with even if I could?” Scully continues, like she didn’t live with Mulder all those years. This is what Mulder complained about last week: rewriting history to make them both feel better about decisions they made long ago. This is pointillism again, and I’ve gotten too close.

And for all of the haziness of the timeline, the scene is still a standout at its most human level, especially when Mulder and Scully stop talking about the ways they’ve hanged themselves and start talking about those dark outside forces. “Sometimes I think the world is going to hell,” Scully says, “and we’re the only two people who can save it.” That sums them up. As The X-Files does at its best, Scully boils down the current political state to the most personal level: “What if we lose our jobs?” And then she turns to Mulder and promises they’ll think of something, and even her doppelgänger watching in the corner can’t spoil what obviously happens next: the closest this show has ever come to not talking in circles around Mulder and Scully in bed. Finally.

But Mulder isn’t as good at being logical about his paranoia as Scully is. He spots his double in the bathroom mirror and panics, ignoring Scully’s attempts to calm him down. (It’s 2018 and Scully is under a sheet asking Mulder to come back to bed.) “Put a dimmer on that afterglow, Scully,” he tells her — a great line — before speeding off to Chucky’s house. As for Scully, she heads to the hospital to confront Judy, stopping first to pop one of the bread pills Judy claimed to take for protection. Even given how much this case has gotten under Scully’s skin, it’s a stretch to think she’d go that far. I prefer her next reaction: spotting her double in the back seat and looking casually inconvenienced, like she did in her apocalyptic dream when she drove on the sidewalk and other people dared to be there.

Mulder fights his double at Chucky’s house in a dizzying brawl that feels like trying to keep track of a ball under a series of cups. But the fight that matters is happening between the siblings, who’ve gone from arguing over Mulder and Scully’s names to scribbling each other’s. By the time Mulder reaches Chucky and Scully reaches Judy, the twins have choked to death, destroying themselves by destroying each other.

Mulder and Scully are saved because they do the opposite. (Note that how similar their names are buys them time: Chucky and Judy each have “UL” on their pages but can’t agree on what letter to write next. Mulder and Scully are closer to one person than two; they’re already each other’s good doubles.) In a pitch-perfect ending, Scully rejects Mulder’s offer to get in a couple more hours of not-sleep; he retreats behind his inexplicable door and tells her to call if she needs anything. She probably won’t, she says — then opens the door to find Mulder waiting patiently just behind it. In their lives, the improbable is a guarantee.

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