THE X-FILES “NOTHING LASTS FOREVER” REVIEW
BY CHRIS B.
The consumption of bodily fluids and tissue with the promise of everlasting life—is that phrase describing an emblematic part of a Catholic church service or the actions of a bizarre satanic cult that drinks blood and eats human organs?
Port Morris in New York City is the scene of at least one of these events. Two men dressed as medical professionals crank open the chest of a man until he’s dead and begin to extract and bag his organs. When they come upon a potentially diseased pancreas, one of them holds it loving aloft and takes a slurping bite. After all, “it’s a shame to waste a good pancreas.”
Someone’s been reading a rogue edition of Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey.
The team is interrupted by a young woman who, in the name of Jesus Christ and those who love her, drives iron stakes through the hearts of two of the men, but the third grabs the organ cooler and eludes her.
The cooler ends up outside the doors of an emergency room with a message written on its side: “I will repay.”
Mulder and Scully arrive on the scene, to “uncover facets that would otherwise go unnoticed.” When Mulder succeeds in scaring off the two neophyte NYC police officers assigned to the case, he and Scully are free to examine at their leisure the body of Robert Jenkins, who’d been abducted as he left work eighteen hours prior. Mulder deduces that, since Jenkins’ organs would total approximately $750,000, the killing of his murderers was not done for profit.
Since the liver was missing from the cooler, Scully and Mulder each check organ transplant sites and auction sites, respectively. So what if Mulder has presbyopia and progressive lenses? At least he doesn’t have gout. Alas, aging comes to us all.
Or does it?
The spike-wielding young woman, Juliet, has a sister who has gone missing; as their mother cries over Olivia’s picture, the girl herself gulps down a blended organ shake in a run-down tenement serving as cult headquarters. The cult is headed by Barbara Beaumont, a former actress, a woman so twisted she’d make Joan Crawford beg for mercy; she bills herself as “goodness and light” while her young recruits embody “ugliness and pain,” rebranded as “love and obedience…the promise of what will be” in their depraved scenario.
Barbara and the others rely upon the Gothic genius of Dr. Randolph Luvenis, who’s developed the formula for everlasting youth and beauty. Though the doctor is reportedly 85 years old, he looks half that, thanks to a waif named Kayla, a gaunt girl physically attached to his back who withers while the doctor, her “addiction,” thrives.
A friend of the doctor has heard rumors of recovered organs that the hospital cannot use in its patients, and he promises Barbara he’ll recover them before a single line can show on her face. But Barbara won’t take his empty promises. She coos to a willing Kayla that it is time that she “ascend,” then promptly cuts Kayla’s throat and severs her connection to the doctor. Now he’s free to move and provide Barbara what they need “before [they] both start looking their age.”
The kids in the cult are described as their “seeds”; the blood and organs in them are being restructured every time their drink their “dinney” of hideous blood shake. Once their morphogenesis has completed, one can be attached to Barbara—again—just as Kayla had been to the doctor. It is the tilted beauty of “reverse aging.”
When Warren, one of the seed children, volunteers to sacrifice himself, he’s treated to Barbara’s cheesy rendition of “The Morning After,” complete with stage lighting and wireless microphone. No wonder Warren stabs himself in the gut moments later.
The doctor is able to break into the cold storage at the hospital to retrieve the organs; what he doesn’t realize is that the FBI has put a tracker in the heart and purposefully relaxed hospital security to allow him to do it. They track the package to the Erindale apartments, which looks to be not a far cry from the den of Eugene Victor Tooms, who also happened to enjoy a few good livers. The building super’s never seen Beaumont or any of the people on the fourth floor, though he can smell them. They move through the old dumbwaiter system to never have to see the light of day.
The agents gain entrance to the apartment and meet Barbara, who is mortified that neither recognize her. When they inquire as to Olivia’s whereabouts, Barbara shrieks and her minions appear and attack. Scully is tossed down the dumbwaiter shaft, while Mulder is wrestled to the floor.
At that moment, Juliet rushes in, having followed the agents there. She leaps on Barabara and stabs her through the heart with one of her spikes, triumphantly telling Mulder, “I did repay.”
Mulder heads to the basement to try to find Scully, and he encounters the doctor and his new “angel,” Olivia, who claims they are “helping each other.” The doctor rants about all of the great discoveries to be had if science were free from regulation, as he himself has “found a cure for the greatest disease to afflict mankind.” His process has “diffused” the “ticking time bomb” in a person’s genes that causes them to develop ailments like cardiomyopathy and Mulder’s age-related farsightedness. Heterochronic parabiosis “reverses time.” It won’t, however, repel justice.
At issue often within this show is the wisdom of faith as it is wedged in between the warring elements of heinous crimes and scientific credibility; here, faith is a conscious choice of will that each character clings to in his or her own way.
While Scully lights candles at the church, Juliet pays the priest a visit, voicing her intention to make use of the biblical notion of seeking vengeance upon one’s enemies. As she says, “Prayers aren’t enough.” To assist her, she’s been cutting off the spires of the church’s iron fencing to use as her weapons, “literally using the church to exact revenge.”
The agents visit Juliet’s home, offering to try to find Olivia, who’s been missing for two months. While her mother is happy for the assistance, Juliet shuts them down. She claims her sister has joined a cult and doesn’t want to be found; “Olivia couldn’t stand looking at that girl staring back at her in the mirror; she rejected her family and God…She thinks she can change who she is and become something she will never be.” Juliet swears she’s given up on Olivia, but Mulder doesn’t believe her, and the girl asserts that she only wants her sister to be found so that her mother can stop crying.
Juliet later implores the agents not to feel sorry for her for going to prison, that she “made a choice” to kill, to trade her earthly life for an eternity in Heaven. And her choice accomplished one goal—it saved her sister and allowed her to return home.
But this choice hollows when it leaves Juliet’s other desire unfulfilled: her mother still cries over the picture of one of her daughters.
Scully relays how she came to be a person of faith: When she was four, her baby brother Charlie contracted rheumatic fever; every night, her mother asked the other kids to pray for Charlie, but young Dana prayed for something practical: a puppy. When the family got one at Christmas, she knew miracles were possible.
Why is Mulder no Christian? Our Fox never got his hound.
Scully marvels at how Mulder continues on through considerable hardships without a backing of faith to give him strength, but Mulder assures her that he rests upon the consequences of the choices he’s made in his life, and in the end, he can only hope “that [he] made the right one.”
Scully revisits the prayer candles, and when hers burns out, Mulder swoops in to relight it, offering to extend her prayers through his. Scully gently chides him, as since he does not believe in God, if he prays, he’d “essentially be talking to [him]self.” Mulder, though, believes in her, so via the transitive property, he speaks to God through Scully. It’s the mathematics of devotion, “reason and faith in harmony.” He adorably asks,”Isn’t that why we’re so good together?”
Are they together?
Scully regrets her choices of giving up their son and moving out of their house. She feels she’s fled from both.
Mulder regrets that she didn’t flee from him sooner, leaving “that basement office” before she lost her health, her sister, her dog, and her upward mobility at the FBI—or even “a bunch of kids that [she] wouldn’t have to give up.”
She dissents; Scully doesn’t regret what she theoretically missed out on by remaining on the x-files with him. Mulder wants to understand, and there in the alcove of that church, he delivers what is likely to be the closest thing these two will ever get to a wedding vow: “I don’t know if any God is listening, but I am standing right here, and I am listening—right beside you, all ears. That’s my choice.”
Scully leans up and whispers in his ear words we are not privy to, declaring them her “leap of faith forward, and [she’d] like to do it together.”
Mulder nods, lights a candle, and muses, “I always wondered how this was going to end.”
If Gillian Anderson’s stern warnings are to be taken seriously, then next week, after twenty-five tumultuous years, I guess we’ll find out.