The X-Files

Season 6 Episode 10


Aired Monday 9:00 PM Jan 24, 1999 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

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out of 10
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  • Tithonus

    Tithonus was a superb and very entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really liked watching as agent Scully is assigned a new partner who does not exactly see things the way she does. It was nice to see a case in New York City. Fellig was an interesting character and it seems he has been around for some time. I liked the story and the acting was great as well. The story played out very nicely and the ending was great. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!
  • Writers out of ideas...

    I loved this episode when it was called "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose." Crusty old guy can forsee people's deaths and bonds with Scully over her immortality. Great concept, great execution. Unfortunately while "Clyde" was classic "X," this one is just a lame crib of its broad themes, with none of the wit, mystery. or depth. Trying to make LA look like Brooklyn is rather painful at times... no amount of yellow taxi cabs can disguise SoCal bright latitude. And who wants to watch Mulder and Scully apart? They are separated at crucial moments in the series, but this one just feels unnecessary.
  • An old photographer is looking for Death.

    Most X-Files episodes have great premises that fail to follow through in the end. This was a classic example of an episode that kept me interested simply because the idea behind it was compelling.. but when it's all said and done, X-Files writers have a tough time of tying everything together.

    This episode finds Scully separated from Mulder, looking into a photographer who seems to be present at the moment of dozen's of deaths. A.D Kersh believes that Scully has the potential to be a great agent if she's separated from Mulder, but as this episode shows us, Mulder is frequently right while everybody else is wrong. Mulder learns that the old photographer has been alive for nearly 149 years and seems to have learned when people are going to die before it happens. As we learn more about the old man, he becomes more likable, despite the episode becoming more contrived.

    Normally, I'm a huge fan of Vince Gilligan's writing. He's responsible for some of the show's best episodes ("Small Potatoes," "Bad Blood") and he's responsible for Breaking Bad, proving he's a great writer, but this episode fails the second that we learn that the old man is searching for Death in his photographs. The show tries getting deep and profound and ends up falling flat on its face. Something like Scully getting shot should feel like a big moment, but we know she won't die, so there's no drama in it.

    Overall though, it was a good episode. I just wish the episodes would flow from start to finish a little better.
  • One of the best X-Files episodes ever.

    This was one of the best episodes ever. One of the few where the "villain" speaks and explains his origins. That doesn't happen very often and made this particular episode a joy to watch. In going through the show season by season it is easy to get caught up in the UFO mythology. Rarely does a standout gem like this episode come along to redeem some of the later season entries. Geoffrey Lewis had a plum role here and made the most of it as the "immortal" in search elusive death. What a great episode. Worth watching again, I say.
  • Scully does her first real X File alone.

    I really enjoyed this episode. It was quiet a simple story but I felt it was very effective towards the end. The whole episode built up to the final scene where Scully is supposed to die, however Fellig takes her place because he truly wants to die. This episode was interesting in the fact that Scully may now never die. If Fellig has taken her place its assumed she now cannot die and will not age...Its a shame really that such of season 6 thus far has not been this good. So far season 6 when i rewatch it i feel its ruined by too many silly "funny" episodes. I prefer the X Files when the episodes are bleak and dark. The X Files should not really be a comedic show which i got the impression the writers have been trying to do this season. Overall this was a great episode, much like the more original episodes from the first few series.
  • Snap a picture of death and learn why living forever is not to be wished for lightly.

    While I was slightly piss#d off at the recent episode all of which were badly written and with no real heart in them I now made my peace!

    This episode is wonderful and exactly why I watch this series. Not only is their finally an explanation as to why Scully/Mulder are investigating an X-File but it is an interesting case at that.

    The actors seemed to have gained back their lust for the hunt and the episode is filled with references both to the real world and previous episodes. Remember: Scully just won't die. Poor woman, hopefully she'll come to terms with endless life.
  • cold hard look at death.

    agent scully was assigned a new partner to investigate a photographer who takes pictures of the dead. agent mulder was disappointed he wasn't on field work w/ her but doing office work instead & following up on the case just the same to help scully. the photographer seems to know when a person is gonna die. that's why he got heads up w/ the pictures. & his track record goes way back. he explained to scully why he was doing this twisted work. an intense scene near the end when scully got shot & the photographer told her not to look at death & claimed her death instead.
  • In this episode we see Scully go out on her own on a case!

    As part of their ban from the X-files we start this episode with the duo doing tele-marketing research. Scully gets a call to go and see Their boss Kursh, and as Mulder gets up out of his seat, Scully leans over and says "It's just me!" Dana gets assigned to a case with an agent from New York who has a series of photos from crime scenes which are taken seconds after the crime has taken place. After much digging around they discover that the freelance photographer has been around for a long time. In various positions in law enforcement. I hadn't seen Geoffrey Lewis since he appeared in 'The A Team many years ago. So that was a nice surprise.
  • What Clyde Said....

    Hooray, two decent X-Files in a row. It's been so long, hasn't it? This one is a slow burner that sneaks up on you until by the time Scully and Fellig have their "conversation in the darkroom" you finally notice the heavy sense of dread and foreboding that hangs over everything, just as Scully also suddenly senses the danger she is in.

    The actor who played Fellig was perfect. He underplays the role with just the right amount of casual cruelty. Anderson has a good chemistry with Fellig that works very well, a bit like the chemistry between Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in SOTL.

    The scream of the camera flash charging as Fellig stalked his doomed subjects was creepy indeed. The old photographs in Fellig's darkroom were a nice touch, as well.

    One is left wondering if perhaps Scully inherits Fellig's curse of immortality since he takes the death hit for her after the shooting. I have always wondered why Clyde Bruckman told Scully she doesn't die and it was fabulous to see that thread woven into this episode so many seasons later.
  • Mulder gets left behind.

    This episode was surprisingly touching, though it hardly started off that way. I appreciate the continuity, keeping our agents stuck in background check territory and AD Kersh's devilish plot to split Scully away from Mulder. Of course, five years has taken its toll on Scully, and it seems her mind can't help but stray into paranormal territory without Mulder there to incessantly rattle the stuff off in her ear. Without the feeling of the necessity of staying in a scientific grounding, Scully goes off to explore the idea of the paranormal without Mulder's instigation.

    I love the idea that the FBI has grounded Mulder for good, trying to force him to quit, while trying to find a place to fit Scully and get her de-Mulderized. She won't have any of it of course. And an interesting point someone made in the Notes section that this could explain why Scully is said by Clyde Bruckman not to die. Fellig lived for 149 years just because "someone took his place." Has he done this for Scully now? Mulder comments on her recovery being the fastest the doctor has ever seen. Is this evidence of the same rapid healing that Fellig displayed? A little sidenote, but I like to think that when Mulder says to Ritter that he's a lucky man, it's not just because Ritter narrowly missed killing a fellow agent on the job, but also because Mulder would've beat the crap out of him if he had actually caused permanent hurt to Scully after just one assignment with her. (Mulder's broken Scully so much more often, but he always manages to put her together again)
  • Overall, this episode is a good combination of character and mythology exploration, all within a story that could have easily been a stand-alone episode without those important connections.

    While many of the writers manage to tell interesting stories, Vince Gilligan stands out as the one writer willing and able to handle the subtle changes in character evolution largely missing from episodes of “X-Files”. While most of the writers seemed to embrace the “iconic” versions of Mulder and Scully, Gilligan swam against the stream in “Drive” and this episode, exploring the new status quo in a logical manner, while also threading continuity into an exploration of Scully’s psychology.

    At the end of the fifth season, Scully was ready to walk away. Having faced down death and the slow but steady loss of nearly everything in her life, she was forced to consider that Mulder had become her world. In “Fight the Future”, Scully made the choice to leave, but events stole that choice away. Now, she has spent months in career hell, suffering beside Mulder in one thankless task after another. So given the opportunity to step out on her own and pursue her self-interest, what would Scully do now?

    This idea was touched upon in “Dreamland”, but Scully wasn’t ready to leave Mulder’s side to bow out gracefully. It was more a question of convincing him that the game was over and the time had come to find a new path. So the basic question of loyalty had been answered, however incompletely: Scully was determined to stick with Mulder. In similar fashion, “The Rain King” delved into her reasoning. For better or worse, the prospect of a life without Mulder was a thing of the past.

    Part of that is Scully’s psychology. Scully seeks out a strong authority figure, someone with passion, and wants to be swept along on the whirlwind. If it’s a bit dangerous or unconventional, even better. Yet she will also recognize that such a pattern is not entirely healthy, and she will find a justification (even generate one of her own through rebellion) to exit the situation. This pattern is important because it makes one thing very clear: if the end of the fifth season was about recognizing the reasons not to stay with Mulder and his crusade, then the sixth season touches on Scully’s realization that all those reasons aren’t enough.

    That may sound romantic, but from an objective point of view, it comes across as something like Stockholm Syndrome. Scully has become more and more isolated from everything else in her life, leaving Mulder and the cause. Mulder’s insistence that she is the one thing keeping him going could be interpreted as emotional blackmail. Whatever the case, even if the growing emotions are genuine, the relationship is far from healthy.

    All of which points back to the central opportunity in this episode: Scully is given the chance to save her career and leave Mulder behind. It is essentially the opportunity she was ready to take a few months earlier. (Timeline considerations are hard to work out in the sixth season, but it’s at least five months.) Having dealt with Kersh and the constant reminders that Mulder is bad for her future, has time worn her down?

    It doesn’t help that Kersh tosses her onto a case with an eager young agent like Ritter. Nor does it help that the case feels like a test. Did Cancer Man know that the case had certain elements that would appeal to Scully as similar to an “X-File”, and was she being tested to see if she would abandon Mulder? Considering that Cancer Man wants Mulder and Scully to be together, this apparent opportunity might have been a case of reverse psychology. Offer her a seemingly normal case, force her to work with an ambitious agent, and show her what it would be like to leave Mulder’s side.

    If that theory holds water well enough, then it might be interesting to consider why Fellig was at the center of the case. If Cancer Man knew about Fellig and his apparent ability, which could be seen as an innate awareness of the nature of death itself, could he have wanted Scully to encounter Fellig? After all, Cancer Man had conspired to give Scully one of the more advanced control chips, which included the self-repairing aspects seen later in “En Ami”.

    The suggestion of the story is that Fellig granted Scully a longer life by diverting death, thus granting her the same pseudo-immortality that he had been experiencing. And that certainly fits into the tease given in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”. But it’s also been shown that Scully bounced back from death under far more serious circumstances, including the events of “Fight the Future”. So why wouldn’t her faster-than-normal recovery be related, as an effect of the technology implanted in “Redux: Part II”?

    It also makes thematic sense for Scully to be the one to encounter and deal with someone who has cheated death. Scully’s life has been filled with death, and yet she continues to escape it. If there is one thing missing from this episode, it’s more of Scully’s consideration of what death means to her relative to her faith. Has that changed since her experience with Emily? Having touched on entities that are spiritual in nature, can she accept the idea of a death figure? What does she think happened in that moment before she passed out?

    With so much focus on Scully, Mulder is relegated to the background. Yet Gilligan uses what little time he has with the character to reveal some subtle (yet predictable) advancements. No matter where they stick Mulder, he continues to find ways to work on apparent X-Files, going so far as to break into Kersh’s E-mail. The very fact that he can do this suggests that the case is a set-up; why else would the conspiracy allow that hole to remain open for exploitation? But he also makes it clear that he won’t sit back and let Scully be taken away, which is a very consistent.

    In terms of the mythology, one has to wonder if Fellig’s ability fits into the spiritual world of the “X-Files”, which has some fairly complex (if unwritten) rules. In general, it is completely consistent for a non-corporeal entity to be affecting the human population. One need only consider what “Closure” or “All Souls” brought to the table to recognize that. But Death itself? It just doesn’t fit very well, especially if death is depicted as a transition, not the result of predation.

    On the other hand, what if some non-corporeal entity was feeding off the dying, and that was what Fellig saw? And what if Fellig had some small measure of the “sentinel” ability to live out an extended lifetime? It could be the intersection of those two unrelated elements, common within the mythology, that would lead Fellig to the assumption that Death had passed him over. Add the likelihood that Scully’s control implant kept her alive and accelerated her healing (a nice touch coming after the previous episode), and everything falls into place.

    While this episode is ostensibly a stand-alone effort, it manages to delve into ongoing character evolution, peer into corners of the mythology, all while suggesting an ongoing manipulation by the conspiracy on several levels. Considering that this same level of multi-layered storytelling was last seen in “Drive”, the previous episode by Vince Gilligan, perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a pleasant surprise.
  • Good episode.

    As interesting and weird as the story was the episode was a little boring. Mulder spends this episode behind a desk, which I found a little out of character for him.

    Assistant director Kersh splits Mulder & Scully up in this epsiode, but as usual Mulder can't stay away from the case and goes as far as to read all the emails Fellig is sending Kersh.

    The photographer was a real weirdo and I just loved the end when Scully got shot & was dying he saved her and got his finally die.
  • An episode which sees Scully, minus Mulder, working on what Mulder believes is an X-File.

    You've got to sympathise with Mulder in this episode - he's been forced off the X-Files, harshly punished by his boss for any work into these paranormal cases, and then Scully is handed an X-File by AD Kursh himself. Of course, Scully the Sceptic refuses to believe this case has anything to do with the paranormal at first, but as time goes on this case turns out to be very interesting indeed.

    Scully is investigating possible murders with another agent, and she comes across an extraordinary old man. And when I say old, I mean old - he's way over 100 but doesn't look a day over 60. It's quite touching as we hear his tragic story - and as we see his torment as he tries with desperation to come face to face with his overdue death.
  • Scully gets to know a murder suspect who always happens to be just in time to snap photos of people as they die.

    Splitting Mulder & Scully up gives her a chance to play the believer to the new partner she's saddled with's skeptic (that was awful grammar right there). Couple that with an interesting phenomena and the character it effects, and you've got a winner. Geoffrey Lewis plays Fellig with a wounded inevitability that is fascinating.
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