The X-Files

Season 6 Episode 12

One Son (2)

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Feb 14, 1999 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

out of 10
258 votes
  • One Son

    One Son was another exciting and perfectly entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story continued from the previous episode and was full of drama, intrigue, action and suspense. It was awesome to learn more about the Aliens, the Men in Black and the Cigarette Smoking Man makes some important decisions. The writing was awesome, the acting superb and it was awesome to see the aliens. I was shocked at the ending and certainly look forward to watching more of The X-Files!!!!!!!!!
  • C.S.M reveals a huge chunk of backstory

    This episode was better than the first part and for one big reason: despite any clunkiness that the episode had, there were big reveals here, ones that left me satisfied enough to move on with some parts of the myth-arc. The episode was far from perfect, but it was good enough to keep me satisfied until we get the next myth-arc episode.

    There was a lengthy scene here where the Cigarette Smoking Man a.k.a C.G.B Spender tells Mulder a ton of stuff, stuff that seems like things the show would hold off on until near the end of the show. Nope, instead we learn that Mulder's sister wasn't abducted by aliens but instead stolen from the house by the Syndicate and offered to the aliens as test subjects for alien/human hybrids and that Bill Mulder said okay to it. However, what made me like the episode more than the average one was the fact that Spender went from being a stick in the mud to somebody who could see things from Mulder's perspective. He actually gets Mulder and Scully reassigned to the X-Files. But the show has to go and kill him just as he was getting interested. Lame. Some people here didn't like Spender, but I was just getting to the point where I was getting used to him.

    I hope the show can figure out a way to simplify things and get back to that intrigue that earlier seasons had with the myth-arc. Oh, and do something about Krycek. He's so random and needs to be dealt with.
  • Meaty follow up.

    "One Son" is a meaty follow up to "Two Fathers," filled with pivotal plot developments in the alien mythology. Here we learn just how far the syndicate was willing to go to negotiate with the enemy, and we see that Mulder is perhaps falling to the same impulse, captivated as he is by former lover (and perhaps ex-wife) Diana Fowley. And, on a shallow note, we get to see Mulder and Scully check each other out in the shower. What's not to love?

    While this episode does much to clarify and advance the alien plot, there are a few things I don't like about it, and not just because we have to watch Diana Fowley mack on Agent Mulder. (It is just me or does Mimi Rogers bear an uncanny resemblance to a tranny Tom Cruise?) For one thing, a lot is going on here, and certain transitional scenes are missing. At one point, Scully (with the help of the Lone Gunmen) attempts to defraud Diana Fowley to Mulder. A rather electric conflict is going on here, with a potential rift between the agents. Then, before you can say "dangling plot thread," Mulder and Scully are back on the warpath together. How about a scene in which the two get back on solid ground? Any resolution is glossed over so other developments can be dealt with. That's the problem with episodes like this... way too much is going on at the expense of character development.

    Then there is the issue of Fox "Always Right" Mulder being so blind to Diana's manipulations. She lives in the Watergate Apartments (THUNK!) and CSM knows his way around her place. Either of these things might make him skeptical, but instead the lack of any concrete evidence makes him believe her, even over Scully and the Lone Gunmen's warnings. And why is Mulder checking out Scully one moment in the shower, then kissing Diana a few scenes later? He's all over the map.

    And don't even get me started on the final scene. Unrealistic, and not followed through in at least four subsequent episodes.
  • We get a treat seeing Mulder and Scully naked in the shower!!

    In this episode, we get some questions answered. We see how the parents of our supposedly more enlightend fathers tried to give away their children to appease the new alien enemy back in the Seventies. We see how evil the alien rebels have been in trying to kill the human/alien hybrids that the syndicate have been trying to keep secret. Mulder is told all he needs to know....But does that mean the end for the series that is the X-files?

    No we have far more to go on, and series write Chris Carter will have, i'm sure, more great story lines up his sleeve to keep us watching.
  • Mulder And Scully Get Naked

    As seems usual for X-Files two-parters, the second half of Father/Son is the superior episode, but not by much. There is more action and less wordiness in this episode, which is usually a good thing in Carter-scripted episodes.

    The opening teaser is marred by a pretentious voiceover by Mulder, yet another example of Carter's penchant for overwriting. The teaser is also quite short and surprisingly unremarkable. The next scene is also a clunker, as Fowley unconvincingly explains to Mulder and Scully why they have been placed under quarantine. Scully assumes Mulder's usual role by angrily challenging Fowley while Mulder inexplicably defends Fowley. It seems contrived and way out of character for Mulder to simply "go with the flow" and accept Fowley's ridiculous sounding explanations. It also rings false that Mulder consistently sides with Fowley when Scully later presents him with evidence suggesting that Fowley is involved in the syndicate's activities.

    A bone is thrown to the shippers when Mulder and Scully are shown taking a shower together. It's a cute but throwaway scene.

    The "conversation in Fowley's apartment" between Mulder and CSM is interesting and revealing but it seems uncharacteristic for CSM to reveal so much. It does serve as a nice wrapping up certain threads of the Myth arc. In fact, a lot of threads are wrapped up as virtually the entire syndicate is roasted (!) by the rebels and CSM (seemingly) plugs the annoying Spender at the close of the episode. I laughed! I cried! I cheered out loud when I heard CSM's gunshot! Here's hoping it wasn't yet another shot into the wall behind Spender, as Mulder did when he seemingly shot CSM in an earlier episode.
  • Now this is more like it! An episode that packs a whollop.

    The general ratings don't reflect this, which surprises me. I think this episode was much better than the last. More action-packed, more exciting, less voice over and less exposition. The tension between Mulder and Scully is well-played, but I don't think the writers did such a good job setting up the Fowley triangle. It seems silly for Mulder to demand that Scully provide him with proof or reason to NOT trust Fowley, when all this time he's been demanding that she "Trust No One." I didn't know that meant "Trust Everyone Until They Give You Reason Not To." I even liked Spender better in this episode, though he was still a pain in the neck. At least I got less of the whiny brat vibe off of him this time around. Too bad he had to go. I appreciated all the answers provided in this episode. I was literally on the edge of my seat at the end of the episode. Krycek's realization, CSM's sly retreat, the screams of the women and children. It all seemed to click in my head at least. I guess I was one of those poor souls who couldn't quite understand everything going on in the mythology until I had the writers spell it out for me.
  • Overall, this episode was the culmination of the Syndicate arc, bringing the mythology from the past three seasons into something of a resolution. Later additions to the mythology would make these explanations all but moot.

    As many X-Philes might remember, the sweeps period of February 1999 was an important moment in the history of the series. For weeks, the network and producers had been hitting the airwaves and magazine stands with promises of “Full Disclosure”. The mid-point of the sixth season would, according to the promotional materials, explain the mythology and make sense of it all.

    Even then, the promise seemed unnecessary, the pomp and circumstance overwrought. After all, that was the supposed function of “Fight the Future”: putting Mulder and the conspiracy into the proper context. Unfortunately, there were other matters left to consider, mostly from the fifth season. Because “Fight the Future” had been written when the series was slated to end with the fifth season, long before the fifth season was actually made, the subsequent decision to continue the series meant that the mythology needed to be further complicated to keep the overall series moving forward.

    So elements like the Rebels and the Spenders were completely outside of the context of the mythology as planned at the beginning of the third season. That story culminated in “Fight the Future”. This episode, and the second half that followed, was designed to incorporate the new elements into the mythology while remaining consistent with the film and that original concept. Of course, in the process of laying everything out and trying to tell a story on top of that, the writers exposed most of the holes in their own internal understanding of the mythology they had generated.

    As with most of the mythology episodes, previous interpretations regarding the goals and policies of the conspiracy and Cancer Man pertain directly to the interpretation of the current episode. Therefore, the speculation and interpretation outlined in previous reviews are assumed to be familiar to the reader. In particular, the summary of the mythology provided and given in the reviews for “Fight the Future” and “Two Fathers” factors into the interpretation of this episode.

    In trying to make sense of this episode (especially in the context of everything that would follow), certain basic truths about “X-Files” should be kept firmly in mind. In short, everyone lies. Motivations are obscured, sources and origins are hidden, and people make assumptions based on limited and manipulated information. Just because Cancer Man sits in a chair and gives a basic explanation for the Syndicate and the Project does not, by any means, lend credibility to what he claims.

    If “Two Fathers” was all about the setup, bringing the audience up to speed on what the mythology was supposed to be coming into the sixth season, then this is the incredibly messy attempt to survive the consequences of poorly-informed decisions. There’s still plenty of time for Cancer Man to mess with Mulder’s head and make damn sure he survives the Rebel attack, but even he seems to be flying by the seat of his pants.

    Unlike “Two Fathers”, which was a relatively calm recitation of the mythology with a purposeful spin, this episode has a barely-restrained chaos at the core. Scenes smash up against each other, the actors display clear desperation, and the direction is often disconcerting. In terms of communicating a thematic message, the structure of the episode more than succeeds. Yet many consider this episode to be disappointing. It comes down to how the revelations within the episode fit within the mythology. Most of them are a good fit, but it requires keeping that central truth about the “X-Files” in mind. Everyone spins the situation to his or her own benefit.

    The opening voiceover makes it very clear that Mulder has accepted Cancer Man’s grand deception. The flashback to 1973 makes it clear that Cancer Man was instrumental in the apparent decision to collaborate in hopes of ensuring the survival of the Syndicate. The Syndicate obviously believed that they were bowing down to a more powerful enemy. Cancer Man’s prominence in the scene, of course, also plays into the idea that he knew the truth about the Colonists. It would have been very easy for Cancer Man to play into that moment, reinforcing the Syndicate members’ beliefs in the impending alien invasion.

    The truth is far more complex. Purity’s followers circa 2012 understood that their creation was dependent upon the foundation provided by the State Department projects from 1947-1973, which was ultimately Phase I of the Project. Phase II needed to focus on the biological modifications for humanity, and needed to culminate in natural generation of the near-mindless “drones”, last seen in “Herrenvolk”. 1973 was the pivot point, and one that Cancer Man and Bill Mulder knew was coming.

    Cancer Man had convinced the Syndicate to go along with the idea of collaboration because he felt he could control the progress of the Project and use those available resources for his own personal project: bringing about the “future savior” that would ultimately eliminate the threat of Purity. Bill Mulder’s option would not afford him that same latitude.

    Many of Cancer Man’s decisions in this episode are hard to fathom, even though his explanations make a certain amount of sense within the context he provides. Seen from the wider perspective of the series’ mythology as a whole, Cancer Man’s actions seem designed to deliver the Syndicate to the Rebels. He was the only person who knew that the Rebels needed Cassandra Spender for their own future plans (part of the basis for creating the “shifters” that would constitute their army), and that the Rebels would be looking to eliminate the Syndicate and its operations. Pushing them to contact the Colonists was a way to get them in one place, along with their families.

    Like many of the mythology episodes constructed after the plotting of “Fight the Future”, Mulder is placed in conflict with Scully because of his unjustified trust in Diana Fowley. Simply the fact that Diana was the one who chased down Cassandra Spender should be enough for Mulder to figure out her complicity. Yet he continues to believe in her possible innocence. It’s hard to imagine what power she could have over him, but the writers are using Diana (as they did in “The End”) as a means of placing pressure on Scully. It’s one element of the mythology that doesn’t work very well, because the character was never given a clear and distinct purpose or personality.

    But quite clearly, she was instrumental in Cancer Man’s scheme. In keeping with Cancer Man’s use of Scully, she would have been selected based on her genetic code as a match for Mulder. She was placed with Mulder and she helped him “find” the X-Files so that his activities could be purposed for disinformation. When Scully was identified as a better match, she was reassigned to Cancer Man’s international operations, ensuring that the control chip technology was being monitored. There were connections to Strughold and the Phase II reproduction projects. Even if she didn’t understand the context of her actions, it should have been clear to Mulder that she was a part of it all.

    The writers get it right when it comes to Scully’s frame of mind. The end of the fifth season made it clear that Scully’s relationship to Mulder was the one reason why she was staying with him on the X-Files. When she was ready to quit, it was Mulder’s dedication to her personal stake in discovering the truth that kept her at his side. If Mulder chooses to ignore her warnings or dismiss her conclusions, then it threatens the bond that keeps her in the game.

    For all that, Mulder and Scully are still circling each other’s orbits. Some fans like this episode for nothing more than the shower scene, where Mulder blatantly checks out Naked!Scully (and really, who wouldn’t?) while Scully returns the favor, before remembering that they shouldn’t be having that much interest under the circumstances. Oddly enough, this is one scene that strongly suggests that the relationship between them had not, to this point, reached a physical level. Emotionally, they were very close to overcoming personal issues, but both of them had a lot of ground to cover before things could really heat up.

    Marita believes in Cancer Man’s grand deception as much as anyone, and that feeds into the world-view that Cancer Man has cultivated in Mulder since the beginning. Marita tells Mulder exactly what Cancer Man wants him to hear: that the “hybrid” project was all about stalling long enough to develop the vaccine. All of this is something that Mulder should already know, since it’s the same information that Well-Manicured Man supplied him with in “Fight the Future”. And of course, in that situation, the Well-Manicured Man was telling Mulder the “truth” as he understood it.

    It’s interesting that Mulder chooses to seek out Diana after Scully makes the more obvious connections between her and Cancer Man. It seems far too coincidental that Cancer Man comes calling at that very moment. It is more reasonable to assume that Cancer Man was waiting for the chance to take the next step in the process of manipulating his son. Having stripped away his support system, Cancer Man had Mulder at a huge disadvantage. It was the culmination of everything Cancer Man had planned for Mulder since “The End”.

    Cancer Man plays Mulder beautifully, and his explanation for the events of 1973 is one of the better parts of the story. The fact that it tells the truth within the context of a lie is even more fun. At one point, Mulder accuses Cancer Man of forcing Bill Mulder to give up Samantha, and Cancer Man strongly denies it. Considering that it’s one of the few times that Cancer Man breaks out of his storytelling mode, that strongly suggests that Mulder came too close to the facts for Cancer Man’s comfort. (Indeed, “Demons” made it very clear what really happened.)

    While the idea of handing over family members for testing beginning in 1973 fits the overall mythology, the purpose and origin of the alien fetus presents a few problems. Within Cancer Man’s deception, it doesn’t make sense. “The Beginning” demonstrated that the process of gestation for Purity would not produce a fetus, so how could it have been the “alien” genome? And the “alien” DNA was already within Gibson Praise, suggesting that the “sentinels” within the human population were already “hybrids” of a sort. So how does this all make sense?

    If Purity wanted Phase II of the project to be biological reproduction of the “drones”, then the fetus would logically be one of the successful “drones” from around 2012, produced to ensure that the Project would proceed with that end goal in mind. In 1973, with the nanotech-modified super-soldiers still under development, it would have taken a long time to get the Project to the point where such a feat was possible.

    Gibson’s “hybrid” DNA doesn’t work the same way. The genetic engineering conducted to create the “drones”, essentially biological super-soldiers without higher brain function, was based around the idea of replicating the “perfect” DNA of the “sentinels”. The Rebels would use the work conducted under the Project to achieve that goal. As a result, they wanted both Cassandra (the closest thing to a working “artificial sentinel”) and the fetus (an example of the genetic sequence leading to Purity’s end goal). Between the two, they could work out how to achieve their goal of gaining the “benefits” of Cassandra’s modifications without the downside of low brain function.

    The fact that the Rebels would only stage strikes in this part of the “timeline” strongly suggests that they were only taking action in the “present” as needed to support their future initiatives. Logically, this did nothing to halt Purity’s conspiracy, since the Phase II experiments continued without the Syndicate, controlled by the Phase I super-soldiers that had been growing in power behind the scenes, who were in turn controlled to serve Purity’s purposes. As far as the Syndicate was concerned, these attacks fit within the deception that Cancer Man had fed them for decades.

    One might be tempted to think that Cancer Man’s explanation to Mulder was perfectly true and that the various attempts to add layers of meaning are unnecessary. However, it should be noted that Cancer Man uses the promise of seeing Samantha again to convince Mulder, and he knew damn well that Samantha was dead in 1979. This makes it hard to imagine that much of what he said was gospel truth, and lends credence to the interpretation of a hidden agenda (which has been demonstrated several times before). Never mind that giving up the families had little meaning, since they were living in the “real world” for decades after the fact. Were those family members treated any differently than the other abductees?

    This is further reinforced by the fact that Diana shows up shortly thereafter to ensure that Mulder is willing to believe Cancer Man and take the step towards survival over resistance. This is exactly what Cancer Man had been trying to achieve, after all. It’s also probably that Diana was meant as something of a fallback position. Cancer Man wanted Mulder with Scully, but if it took seduction by Diana to keep him in line, then he would adjust matters accordingly. (Recalling, of course, that Cancer Man had Scully’s genetic profile, and could have ultimately used resources to control her through the implant.)

    Cancer Man’s conversation with Cassandra might even be construed as honest and heartfelt, except for the fact that he has never shown any interest in this family previous to hatching his plan to manipulate Mulder by putting Spender up on a pedestal. In fact, he was happy to have Cassandra experimented upon and her memories erased in the most casual manner. Also, why would Cancer Man be deluded enough to believe that Cassandra would want anything to do with him?

    The final act is the culmination of Cancer Man’s plan to use the impending destruction of the Syndicate to his own devices. Watching the scene carefully makes it clear that he was prepared to let the Rebels get Cassandra and the Syndicate, along with their families and loved ones. He was hanging back with Diana, prepared to leave while the rest hesitated. But knowing the likely outcome, why would he have gone to El Rico in the first place?

    Consider that his plan was to assume control over Mulder’s future choices to ensure that the “future savior” was born. The Syndicate was a means to an end; controlling Mulder over time was the true purpose. He had effectively convinced Mulder that the threat was real and immediate, and that his methods were a means to an end. Krycek was already on board if survival was in the cards, and Diana was another means of controlling Mulder. By having them witness the end of the Syndicate at the hands of the Rebels, Cancer Man could have convinced Mulder to join him in rebuilding the means to resist the “aliens”.

    Scully, however, wound up intervening, thanks to Spender’s decision to contact her with Cassandra’s whereabouts. Cancer Man’s best chance of convincing Mulder to follow his lead was tossed to the winds. More to the point, the end of the Syndicate meant that his control over the various aspects of the Project had quickly lessened. Spender completed the job of dashing Cancer Man’s plans by resigning and supporting Mulder and Scully’s reassignment to the X-Files.

    It is a little disappointing, however, for it to be that easy, especially since Mulder doesn’t give a clear answer as to how the Syndicate members died. He tosses off vague nonsense, and then Scully supports him for it! Kersh certainly had no reason to approve the reassignment under the circumstances, and Diana was still technically on that assignment. Kersh wasn’t even in a position to place Mulder back on the X-Files. There are a lot of aspects of that plot point that remained unaddressed, especially in terms of what happened to Diana after Spender’s resignation.

    The final scene is one last manipulation. Cancer Man knew that Mulder was his son, yet he acts otherwise in explaining to Spender why he was such a disappointment. That’s not why Spender was shot and left for dead, to be used in later experiments by the Rebels. It makes more sense to consider this as Cancer Man’s vengeance against Spender for alerting Scully as to Cassandra’s whereabouts and thus disrupting his plans for Mulder.

    “One Son” was the end of the mythology as the audience understood it, and from this point forward, the series would extend the story in fits and starts, with little thought towards making it all fit together. The mythology that would be introduced in “Biogenesis” at the end of the season would thematically link into the plot elements added through the end of the series, but only the mythology arc in the eighth season felt relatively coherent. Still, as a final resolution to the Syndicate arc, stretching back to the end of the second season, this is about as good as they were going to get.
  • A big chunk of the truth that's out there is finally revealed.

    The idea that the Mulder parents traded Samantha for Fox in the exchange with the aliens has been hinted at, but now we know for sure. Wiping out the Syndicate is a bold move for the series, but probably a wise one, especially letting CSM and Krychek get while the gettin's good. Big, big important episode.
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