17 August 2007

Season 6: Biogenesis (6X22)

Written by: Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
Directed by: Rob Bowman

When a scientist Solomon Merkmallen who believes in Panspermia, the theory that life on Earth originated from Mars, finds an artifact on a beach in the Ivory Coast that could be irrefutable proof. He travels to Washington to show it to Dr. Sandoz, who has discovered similar tablets.

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate when Merkmallen is killed. Mulder is shown a rubbing of the tablet Merkmallen found and experiences voices in his head while in Assistant Director Skinner's office. The two agents visit Dr. Sandoz's lab and meet Dr. Barnes, who has spent his career debunking fakes.

Mulder wonders if it would not be in Dr. Barnes best interest to hide any conclusive proof. They visit Dr Sandoz's residence and find Merkmallen's body and a photograph of Dr. Sandoz with the Navajo code talker Albert Holsteen.

Tests reveal Merkmallen's body has been exposed to Cosmic Galactic Radiation, a type of radiation from outside of our Solar System. Mulder's spells of hearing voices in his head increase in frequency until he is incapacitated and has to be rescued by Diana Fowley.

Meanwhile Scully goes to see Albert Holsteen in New Mexico only to discover he has cancer. Scully encounters Dr Sandoz who claims that the artifact has code from the human genome on it. Shortly afterwards Dr Sandoz is killed by Krycek. Scully travels to the Ivory Coast to the beach where Merkmallen discovered the tablet. And finds that the tablet is part of a larger object, a UFO buried in the sand.

This episode marks the beginning of the so-called "new mythology".

When Mulder and Scully are examining the artifact in his office, there are pencils hanging from the ceiling tile over Mulder's desk in the background. These are presumably the same pencils he was throwing into the ceiling when Scully walked into the office at the end of the 5th season episode "Chinga".

Although X-Files management was prepared to suspend filming to accomodate the birth of David Duchovny's first child, it proved to be unnecessary. Madelaine West Duchovny was born on April 24, 1999; two days after the filming of Fox Mulder's final scene in this season finale.

Scully: (voiceover) From space, it seems an abstraction — a magician's trick on a darkened stage. And from this distance one might never imagine that it is alive. It first appeared in the sea almost four billion years ago in the form of single-celled life. In an explosion of life spanning millions of years, nature's first multicellular organisms began to multiply... and then it stopped. 440 million years ago, a great mass extinction would kill off nearly every species on the planet leaving the vast oceans decimated and empty. Slowly, plants began to evolve, then insects, only to be wiped out in the second great mass extinction upon the Earth. The cycle repeated again and again. Reptiles emerging, independent of the sea only to be killed off. Then dinosaurs, struggling to life along with the first birds, fish, and flowering plants — their decimations Earth's fourth and fifth great extinctions. Only 100,000 years ago, Homosapiens appear — man. From cave paintings to the Bible to Columbus and Apollo 11, we have been a tireless force upon the earth and off cataloguing the natural world as it unfolds to us. Rising to a world population of over five billion people all descended from that original single cell, that first spark of life. But for all our knowledge, what no one can say for certain, is what or who ignited that original spark. Is there a plan, a purpose or a reason to our existence? Will we pass, as those before us, into oblivion, into the sixth extinction that scientists warn is already in progress? Or will the mystery be revealed through a sign, a symbol, a revelation?

Skinner: A case like this I, of course, thought of your obvious interest — Dr. Merkmallen's views and theories being what they were. I believe Agent Mulder is familiar with his work.
Scully: Dr. Solomon Merkmallen, Professor of Biology, University of Ivory Coast.
Skinner: He flew in yesterday from Africa. Two hours later, he was apparently murdered at American University. His body is missing but there was enough blood found on the floor to make a fair assumption. A couple of students also confirmed that they spoke to him when he asked them for directions to find a Dr. Steven Sandoz, also a Professor of Biology.
Mulder: Both men espouse a fringe theory called 'Panspermia'. It's the belief that life originated...
Scully: ...elsewhere... in this universe.
Skinner: You've heard of this?
Scully: Yeah. It's the idea that Mars or other planets were habitable long before Earth and that, uh, cosmic collisions on these planets blasted microbes into our solar system — some of which landed and flourished here.
Skinner: You'd accept that as plausible?
Scully: Well, almost any scientist would... theoretically. I mean, it's just a theory. That's about it, though. You don't think this has anything to do with his death, do you?
Skinner: Dr. Merkmallen found an artefact in his country. This is a rubbing of that artefact. He claimed it contained a message — not only of his Mars theories but the very meaning of human existence.
Scully: Much less plausible.
Mulder: Dr. Sandoz, the man he'd come to meet, made a similar claim in a... 'science'... journal. He said he'd found an artefact that was almost identical to that with similar writings on it."
Scully: And what was it supposed to say?
Mulder: Well, we'd have to ask Dr. Sandoz that.
Scully: Well, why don't we?
Mulder: We can't. He's missing.

Dr. Burks: Fascinating, Mulder.
Mulder: You don't believe it, Chuck?
Dr. Burks: No, no. You know me. This is right up my twisted little alley. So, uh... what exactly are you experiencing?
Mulder: Noise. Aural dissonance. It comes and it goes.
Scully: Is it happening right now?
Mulder: No, but it was a few minutes ago.
Dr. Burks: And it's only affecting you, triggered by the rubbing. Wow. That blows me away.
Mulder: Why?
Scully: Because the rubbing is a fake and I'm not the first one to say so.
Dr. Burks: The writing is Cree — phonetic Navajo — but no literal interpretation makes any sense.
Scully: And the fact that it was found in Africa makes it all the more suspicious as a fabrication.
Mulder: Suspicious of what?
Dr. Burks: Do you know what a Magic Square is?
Mulder: Yeah. It has to do with the occult.
Dr. Burks: Right. Very cool. They first appear in the ninth century in history but, uh... as the story goes, God himself instructed Adam in their use and then handed down the secret to all his saints and prophets and wise men as a way of trapping and storing potential power to the person whose name or numerical correlative exercises that power.
Mulder: That's what this thing is?
Scully: Well, that's what someone would have you believe this is.
Mulder: How do you know that?
Scully: As it turns out neither of us had to go very far to find out.
(Scully puts a magazine article by Dr Barnes up on the projector. 'Science Update — God Spelled Backward — Manufacturing Religious artefacts for Fun and Profit')
Barnes documented Sandoz's fakery once before. If he was blunt about his colleague when we met him, in here, he is downright brutal.
Mulder: Does he back any of that up?
Scully: Well, it's quite scholarly, actually.
Dr. Burks: Barnes has made something of a career exposing science and religious fraud. Name your wonder of the world — he's been there, debunked that.
Mulder: Yeah, but wouldn't it be in his great interest to hide something that he couldn't disprove with his scholarship?
Scully: Well, Mulder, if it were real then why would an American Indian artefact be fused in rock on the west coast of the African continent?
Mulder: In 1996, a rock from Mars was found in Antarctica. How did it get there?
Scully: It was from outer space.
Dr. Burks: Begs the question, doesn't it? Why produce a fraud with Navajo writing... in Africa?

Scully: (voiceover) It began with an act of supreme violence — a big bang expanding ever outward, cosmos born of matter and gas, matter and gas, ten billion years ago. Whose idea was this? Who had the audacity for such invention? And the reason? Were we part of that plan ten billion years ago? Are we born only to die? To be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth before giving way to our generations? If there is a beginning, must there be an end? We burn like fires in our time, only to be extinguished, to surrender to the elements' eternal reclaim. Matter and gas... will this all end one day? Life no longer passing to life, the Earth left barren like the stars above, like the cosmos. Will the hand that lit the flame let it burn down? Let it burn out? Could we, too, become extinct? Or if this fire of life living inside us is meant to go on, who decides? Who tends the flames? Can he reignite the spark even as it grows cold and weak?

Opening clip from ''Biogenesis''

Episode Number: 139
Season Number: 6
First Aired: Sunday, May 16, 1999
Production Code: 6X22

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