The X-Files

Season 2 Episode 6

Ascension (2)

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Oct 21, 1994 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
367 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When Mulder finds out that Scully was kidnapped by Duane Barry, he risks the wrath of his superiors and the annoyance of Agent Krycek in order to do whatever it takes to find her. Meanwhile, Krycek is found to be reporting Mulder's activities to the CSM.

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  • Ascending to the stars

    Continuing from the previous episode Mulder finds that Duane Barry has abducted Scully and he races to find her but remembers that Duane Barry said that the abductee sight was in the Skyland mountains at ascending to the stars which was a aerial tramway.Mulder is slowed down why trying to get to Scully because of Krycek who is actually working for the smoking man. Like Deep Throat said trust no one.This saying also proves right when it is too late when Scully gets abducted and Duane Barry is caught and before Mulder could get any clues off him he is poisoned and later proves its Krycek.Before this Mulder finds out about Krycek secrets when he uses his car and finds the smoking man's cigarettes in his car and Mulder immediately goes to Skinner.The best part of the episode is when Mulder proves that Krycek works for the smoking man and he killed Duane Barry and the man at the skyland mountain and Skinner finds out Krycek has ran.Skinner and Mulder know that there is nothing they can do but Skinner knows what they are afraid of.So Skinner re opens the X files.This was a gripping episode and a perfect ten.moreless
  • Ascension

    Ascension was a perfect episode of The X-Files and I really enjoyed watching because there was a lot of character and plot development, action, drama and intrigue. It was awesome watching Mulder investigate the case and to see Krycek working his own angle. It was also interesting to see the cigarette smoking man play a part in the story. It was crazy to see that Scully was seemingly abducted, and the government may have played part in it happening. I love how intense the mystery has become and it was great seeing aliens. I certainly look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • "Duane Barry"/"Ascension" features many defining moments and characterize"The X-Files" more sharply than anything else that has appeared in the series so far

    While I was never convinced of Duane Barry's story, he struck me as a deranged man, whose story was wholly untrustworthy, I was convinced by Steve Railsback's performance. When dealing with someone so divorced from reality as a brain damaged psychotic, even direct evidence in the form of scars and assorted implants does not "prove" his story. We still have to rely on his testimony, and what he thought he saw may not have been what was really happening.

    Steve Railsback gives a fantastic performance, probably the best guest starring role to date. In a few scenes he showed a shy geniality and an almost childlike bafflement.

    While Railsback gives an amazing performance, I am a bit reluctant to criticize David Duchovny's performance in this two parter; he is carrying a hell of a load in Gillian Anderson's virtual absence. In "Little Green Men" and "Ice", he has shown us that Mulder can show strong emotion believably. Parts of "Duane Barry" show his intensity, his command of nuance and implication, his sharp grasp of understatement and control. Having said all that, however, I have to say he disappointed me in this story. I know Fox Mulder is not given to hysterics, but there comes a point when you have to pull out some stops. Like Sam Spade says in "The Maltese Falcon":

    "When a man's partner has been killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him, he's your partner and you're supposed to do something about it."

    When Mulder found Scully's necklace, when Duane Barry (the only witness to her whereabouts) died, I needed to see some reaction from him. Consider the resonances of this story for Fox Mulder: the only person in the world whom he trusts has been snatched away from him, while he is powerless to do anything about it--just like his sister. A normal man would be driven half mad with guilt and anger and fear. Mulder either looks sleepy or puzzled. Duchovny neither raises nor lowers the temperature, right up to the last scene. Is he looking for Dana Scully in the stars, or figuring his income tax? From his face, you could never tell.

    Despite this, overall I absolutely loved this two part story arc. I cheered when Deputy Director Skinner re-opened the X- Files. How typical that he did it in a fit of pique, rather than as an administrator who saw, finally, the value of those extreme possibilities. I must give writer Paul Brown credit, however, for not making Walter Skinner a hopelessly evil bad guy. This scene was one of the best of the entire story, showing Skinner as a frustrated, hard-nosed cop who cannot seem to get a grip either on the slippery characters he's up against or the obsessed agent before him. In fact, this time around he was more human than Mulder.

    But the highlight of this two part story arc, aside from Railsback's perfomance, was the introduction of Krychek: Rat Boy. Everyones favorite double crossing double agent. He's my third favorite character of all time, after Scully and Mulder of course. Although I can't help but feel the scene where he double crosses Mulder could have been so much more effective if it had not already been revealed to us who he was really working for. That information shouldn't have been revealed until the end. Aside from that minor detail, I still give this story arc a 9.5 out of ten. IF revealing Krychek as a spy had been handled better, I'd be giving this a perfect 10.moreless
  • “There are no answers for you, Mr. Mulder. They have only one policy: Deny Everything.”

    This is where the events laid out in Duane Barry really take off. At this point the conspiracy realizes they made a fatal mistake in making Scully Mulder’s “handler”, instead of debunking his work she came to lend a degree of credence to his claims of paranormal phenomena, and government cover-up. So Scully’s abduction makes sense in that the conspiracy would be desperate to remove Mulder’s support system, the legs on which he stands. It is also crucial to the conspiracy that Mulder survive, one surmises that the conspiracy needs Mulder alive for some future purpose. When Mulder and Scully are reassigned it is a plausibility that the conspiracy assumed that the bond between the two agents was not so strong that Scully would continue to be Mulder’s support system, this was not the case, Scully continued to back him with all the power and resources at her disposal. She continued to invest her skill and emotion in his personal crusade. It is quite clear in this episode that no aliens are involved in Scully's abduction, Duane Barry is simply a pawn of the conspiracy, a very damaged tool. The first tangible evidence of just how far the conspiracy extends is given in this episode. Ascension is also the place where Skinner takes a step away from minion of the conspiracy towards being Mulder’s ally. It is also interesting to not the oft used conspiracy excuse for keeping Mulder alive, that is, they don’t want to turn him into a martyr, however, this episode gives that excuse a false ring as clearly the conspiracy is powerful enough to eliminate Mulder without making him a martyr or turning his personal quest into a crusade, it is obvious that Mulder is kept alive for some other purpose. This is an excellent and entertaining episode, and it serves as a starting point for many subsequent events.moreless
  • Scully is taken and Mulder must deal with it

    This episode is very hard for me to watch. Scully is taken and there's nothing Mulder can do. But Mulder knows there's something nasty going on and he is determined to find out who is behind it.

    He is reluctant to give up the case. He conducts his own investigation but unfortunately Krycek is helping him and he is giving out information to the CSM. In the end, Mulder can't do anything and Scully is taken and Barry arrested and then dead. This is when it became personal for Mulder and Scully. They wanted to stop Mulder from finding the truth: they took Scully away and that kept him busy for a while. Again, this is the first of many excellent arcs with classy perfomances and amazing stories. David Duchovny's performance can't be ignored as he is the center of this episode. We get to see Margaret Scully again and she meets Mulder under terrible circumstances. Poor Mulder, he has all the evidence and it must've been so frustrating for him not able to do anything to save Scully or discover the authors of her abduction. And last, Mulder obviously has developed a different feeling for Scully that has him thinking of her in so many ways.moreless
Steve Railsback

Steve Railsback

Duane Barry

Guest Star

Meredith Bain Woodward

Meredith Bain Woodward

Dr. Ruth Slaughter

Guest Star

Peter LaCroix

Peter LaCroix


Guest Star

William B. Davis

William B. Davis

Cigarette Smoking Man

Recurring Role

Mitch Pileggi

Mitch Pileggi

Assistant Director Walter Skinner

Recurring Role

Nicholas Lea

Nicholas Lea

Agent Alex Krycek

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • This episode changes its regular tagline "The truth is out there" for "Deny Everything". This is what X tells Mulder about the politics of the Syndicate. This episode forms part of the mytharc episodes.

    • The Skyland tram is most likely the Grouse Mountain tram near Vancouver in real life. You can see the Vancouver area when Mulder escapes from the tram.

    • Continuity: Margaret Scully tells Mulder that she gave her daughter the cross necklace for her 15th birthday. This is contradicted in season 5's "Christmas Carol."

    • Continuity: When Mulder is in the tram car ascending the Mountain, he pulls all of the things out from under the top left-hand seat. However, when the scene moves to Krycek in the booth, you don't see any of the things that Mulder threw out.

    • Plot Holes: Another example of the way "X-Files" plays fast and loose with time: Duane Barry kidnaps Scully in the evening - presumably he doesn't take her back to his home since that's the first place the FBI would look, so it's logical to assume that he immediately set off for Skyland Mountain with her. He shoots the state trooper sometime early the next day near the Blue Ridge Parkway, but although Mulder and Krycek don't figure out his destination and get on the road until sometime that afternoon, Barry somehow manages to reach the bottom of Skyland Mountain only forty-five minutes before the FBI agents do, even though he appears to have had at least a twelve-hour head start! Did he stop to do a lot of sightseeing along the way?

    • Continuity: Krycek and Mulder leave FBI Headquarters, to go to Skyland Mountain, in a blue Sedan. However in the next scene - as Mulder is driving and almost falls asleep - the color of the Sedan has changed to maroon.

  • QUOTES (15)

    • Duane Barry: (yelling at the sky) They can't touch Duane Barry anymore!

    • Cigarette-Smoking Man: We tell you only what you need to know.
      Krycek: I think I have a right to know.
      Cigarette-Smoking Man: You have no rights, only orders to be carried out.

    • Mulder: I found this. (He shows a cross) It's something I... I never considered about her. If she was... if she was such a skeptic, why did she wear that?
      Margaret Scully: I gave it to her on her fifteenth birthday.
      Mulder: Don't you want to keep it?
      Margaret Scully: When you find her, you give it to her.

    • Margaret Scully: I had that dream again last night. About Dana being taken away? I can't tell you how it scares me.
      Mulder: It's probably scarier when you stop having the dream. Don't you think?

    • Mulder: Who are these people who can just murder with impunity and we can't do anything about it?
      Skinner: Let it go, Agent Mulder.
      Mulder: Like hell.
      Skinner: There's nothing you can do.
      Mulder: What can you do about it?
      Skinner: There's only one thing I can do, Agent Mulder. As of right now, I'm reopening the X-Files. That's what they fear the most.

    • Mulder: I found this in Agent Krycek's car. He doesn't smoke. Agent Krycek was the last person with Duane Barry before he died. He was also the last person to see the tram operator before he disappeared. When I got to the top of Skyland Mountain, I saw an unmarked helicopter working the area. I believe that Agent Krycek gave away the whereabouts of Duane Barry and Agent Scully to whoever he's working with.
      Skinner: And who is that?
      Mulder: I don't know, the military? Some covert organization within the government? Whoever it is that man who smokes those cigarettes works for.
      Skinner: Why?
      Mulder: Because Agent Scully got too close to whatever it is they're trying to deny. Because she had hard and damning evidence, that metallic implant in her possession. Or because her termination would prevent further involvement with me and my work.

    • Skinner: This is a serious allegation, Agent Mulder.
      Mulder: So long as it's true.
      Skinner: "Agent Krycek was hired or suborned by an outside agency to impede a federal investigation and may be responsible for the death of a suspect in a capital murder case."?
      Mulder: It goes on.
      Skinner: "And the possible murder of the tram operator at Skyland Mountain." There's a lot of blood on this document, Agent Mulder. Are you standing behind this, going on the record?
      Mulder: Yes, sir.
      Skinner: Then you damn well better have the facts to back it up.

    • X: This reaches beyond any of us, Mister Mulder. Even my predecessor.
      Mulder: I want an answer!
      X: Why kill Duane Barry if there was nothing to hide?
      Mulder: You mean the government?
      X: There are no answers for you, Mister Mulder. They only have one policy... Deny everything.

    • X: You've wasted a trip, Mister Mulder. There's nothing the Senator can do for you now.
      Mulder: What?
      X: Not without committing political suicide.
      Mulder: Why? Do they have something on him?
      X: They have something on everyone, Mister Mulder. The question is when they'll use it.

    • Mulder: Is Agent Krycek asserting that I killed him too?
      Skinner: No. He corroborates your story. But the fact is, we've got a dead suspect, Agent Mulder, and no other plausible cause of death. O.P.C. wants the both of you to take a lie detector test. You're to report there immediately.
      Mulder: There is another plausible cause of death.
      Skinner: Which is?
      Mulder: Poisoning by injection or ingestion.
      Skinner: Poisoning?
      Mulder: You won't find that on the navy pathologist's report.
      Skinner: What are you saying, Agent Mulder?
      Mulder: That the autopsy is incomplete. That the military covered up the toxicological findings.
      Skinner: And why would they do that?
      Mulder: Because they know where Scully is.

    • Krycek: Yeah. You really think he tracked her down with that implant?
      Mulder: Well, that's the easiest explanation. It's also the most implausible.
      Krycek: Is there another possibility?
      Mulder: Somebody could have given him her address. I don't know who.

    • Krycek: You know, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island... they were all linked to sleep deprivation. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that over 190,000 fatal car crashes every year are linked to sleepiness.
      Mulder: Did they estimate how many people are put to sleep listening to their statistics?

    • Mulder: (About Duane Barry) Did you ask him about Scully?
      Krycek: Yeah.
      Mulder: What did he say?
      Krycek: He started whistling 'Stairway to Heaven.'

    • Agent: Why are you so paranoid, Mulder?
      Mulder: Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's because I find it hard to trust anybody.

    • Krycek: If Mulder is such a threat, why not eliminate him?
      CSM: That's not our policy.
      Krycek: It's not? After what you had me do?
      CSM: Kill Mulder and you risk turning one man's religion into a crusade.

  • NOTES (3)


    • Krycek: He started whistling "Stairway to Heaven."

      Stairway to Heaven was an influential song by Led Zeppelin.

    • Krycek: You know, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island...they were all linked to sleep deprivation.

      Chernobyl is the site of a nuclear power plant that exploded in 1986.
      Exxon Valdez is the name of an oil tanker which caused a massive oil spill in 1989 after hitting Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef before the coast of Alaska. Three Mile Island is the location of a nuclear power plant which suffered a partial core meltdown in 1979.

    • Skinner: That he's following orders from alien voices in his head. Well, that's an interesting spin on the Nuremberg defense.

      Skinner is referring to the Nuremberg Trials which were held in the German city of Nuremberg from 1945 to 1949. The trials were conceived to bring the major war criminals/leaders of Nazi Germany to justice. In their defense most of the accused stated that they were just following orders.