Warning: This contains spoilers.
When an episode of The X-Files involves organs, you know you’re in for a good time. And boy, does Nothing Lasts Forever involve organs. It’s positively bursting with them.
We first come across our organs as Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate what might a ritual killing – you know, the kind that involves a corpse being completely harvested of its vital parts. With one of the surgeons responsible having had their licence revked, the signs point to an illegal organ ring, connected to the Russian mafia. But that doesn’t explain the fact that the surgeon culprits (who were also found dead with the victim) were impaled upon church railings.
And so a trip to the local house of the Lord is in order, leading Mulder and Scully to Juliet, the sparky young woman responsible for the church railings. Her sister, Olivia, she explains, joined a cult, and so she’s on a righteous quest of vengeance, possessed with a blessed sense of purpose (and some handy Psalms about retribution) to get her sister back. Demonic worship? Oh no, she’s doing God’s holy work.
But that doesn’t explain the organs. And that’s where the episode really gets good. They turn out not to be religiously motivated, but part of a strange little movement led by Barbara Beaumont. A faded TV star now in her 80s, she doesn’t look a day over 30 – a fact that has a lot to do with the way she gobbles up other people’s organs. But those are only temporary in their power: for the full anti-ageing affect, she has to do something else entirely: surgically attach herself to someone else, a forced conjoined-body situation that recalls The Human Centipede (but fortunately, not involving the same bodily functions). It’s weird, it’s graphic, it’s creepy, and it’s disturbingly believable, thanks to veteran X-Files director James Wong.
She’s supported by a whole coven of followers, who view themselves as her children and are only too happy to offer themselves up for organ donations when supply falls short – don’t you hate it when you set up an organ-eating cult and you run out of organs?
Fiona Vroom is having a whale of a time as Barbara, pitching her part somewhere between dark comedy, pathetic tragedy and downright horror. But what makes the episode work are the interludes written by Karen Neilsen where Mulder and Scully get the chance to talk faith and religion. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are at their most relaxed here, sitting in pews and chatting about what caused them to believe (or not believe) in a higher power – in Scully’s case, the prayers she said as a child, when her sibling was sick, and she was praying for a puppy (she got one). Mulder, meanwhile, acknowledges the importance and power that faith can carry, noting that his atheism isn’t a lack of faith, but a move because he doesn’t need it.
“Reason and faith in harmony,” he muses. “Isn’t that why we’re so good together?” “Are we together?” she shoots back. “You know, I believed I could protect our son, and I failed,” he adds. A script coordinator for both revived seasons of The X-Files, trust Neilsen to find a way to bring things back round to William just in time for the finale.
Episode 9 of The X-Files Season 11 is available on My5 until 26th April 2018