The X-Files delights in keeping viewers on their toes, asking dozens of questions and only half-answering half … only to turn around a few episodes (or seasons) later and challenge those same notions. In Season 11, Episode 9, "Nothing Lasts Forever," the show finds Mulder and Scully facing down a human-organ-eating immortality cult in the Bronx, heavily intertwined with thoughts on Catholicism and the protagonists' and even the show's own lifespan. Herewith is a list of 26 things we learned in "Nothing Lasts Forever."
• Mulder and Scully investigate victims involved in an illegal organ harvest that have in turn been "impaled through the sternum" per Scully and "with a stake through the heart, you mean," per Mulder by a vigilante in the Bronx.
• Scully doesn't think this is an X-File, just some organized crime.
• Mulder further states that it should be made with the three woods present in Christ's cross, which would "imbue it with the holy properties necessary to defeat evil," scaring off other agents. Clearly, he did that on purpose.
• "Sometimes I wonder why we keep doing it, Scully, in the face of all of this indifference."• Mulder is, unsurprisingly, a fan of Hammer horror films.
• Mulder has new glasses with "progressive lenses" — "not bifocals." Also, he later tells Scully he trusts his gut, because "my gut doesn't need glasses."
• Mulder apparently has not noticed Scully's three-episode-old haircut yet.
• The cult is harvesting organs and drinking them as smoothies in order to stay young. At its head is an actress, Barbara Beaumont, who is 85 but still looks 33. She has owned a building in the Bronx for more than 40 years.
• With her is a Dr. Randolph Luvenis, who is conjoined to a young girl who is later cut off and exchanged for another in order to work on de-aging him. He asks what we can achieve "if we were free from the government" — and claims he's cured the greatest disease: aging.
• The cult seems to have preyed on people who were unhappy with their appearances, calling themselves "ugly" or hating what they see in the mirror.
• The tagline in the opening credits, which has been shifting and episodic this entire season, even made reference to this idea of wanting to be beautiful.
• In a church, the show draws big comparisons between the cult and Catholicism as a priest recites various scriptures including Romans 12:5 ("So we, being many, are one body in Christ") and John 6:54-56 ("Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life … Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them").
• When praying in this church, Scully asks for time and says she'll catch up later; Mulder instead waits on her. <3
• Scully tells Mulder how she came to believe in god at age 4 was praying for her younger brother's recovery … and then for a puppy that she received for Christmas. "I finally know why I'm not a Christian, Scully; my parents never got me a puppy."
• Scully doesn't know if she believes in miracles, but she does believe in the power of faith as strength. She saw it in her mother and in Mulder, who "stands strong no matter which way or how hard the wind blows."
• The church has three fence posts missing, the stakes that were used to kill the organ harvesters. "Someone is literally using the church to exact vengeance."
• The scripture-spouting vigilante is Juliet Bocanegra, sister of a cult victim who has been missing for two years. She eventually kills Barbara and Luvenis to set her sister free after following Mulder and Scully, who put a tracker in a heart to find the cult.
• Beaumont's handyman has never actually met her in his 7 years. "It's weird, but this is the Bronx."
• Adding fuel to the "Scully is immortal" theory, she's thrown down a trash chute from the fourth floor and doesn't even sustain a scratch. The official reasoning? She fell on a pile of decades' worth of trash.
• "You stink, Scully," Mulder says. But then he holds her to him anyway.
• Scully theorizes that she's out of miracles when a candle she lights in the church goes out. Mulder relights her candle and "extend your prayers through mine." Scully posits that because Mulder doesn't believe in God, prayer is only a conversation with himself. And Mulder replies, "I may not believe in God, but I believe in you. And therefore I speak to him through you." He then compares her to God.
• "Reason and faith in harmony. Isn't that why we're so good together?" – Mulder
"Are we together?" – Scully
• Answering a question lingering since last season, Scully reveals that she left Mulder. She describes it as having "fled," and says that she "gave up on that" much like she gave up on protecting William.
• Mulder says he wishes she had left earlier, "before I even needed glasses," so that she could have been spared much of the pain they have been through together — her failing health; her long lost dog, Queequeg; and her sister Melissa. He envisions her as Kersh's boss, married to a brain surgeon and with kids she "doesn't have to give up." However, Scully doesn't blame Mulder for any of these things.
• "I don't know if any god is listening but I am standing right here and I am listening," Mulder tells her. "Right beside you, all ears. That's my choice." Scully whispers in his ear beyond our hearing, but says she isn't "looking for a miracle" but rather her own "leap of faith forward. And I'd like to do it together."
• "I always wondered how this was going to end."
Read previous recaps:
28 things we learned in Episode 5, 'Ghouli' * pay particular attention here as next week's episode is sure to feature William, who was discovered again in 'Ghouli'