It's easy to repeat the usual complaints. The most obvious being that Gibson Praise is the latest in a long line of guest characters who we're told 'hold the key to everything'. But, for whatever reason, The End works because the conspiracy junk isn't given center stage. Instead, we have more character-driven stories to round off the season, which is appropriate considering the huge character changes that have been depicted over the course of season five. It has felt all season that the show is at a turning point of some kind, with Mulder and Scully both changing their perspectives on extreme possibilities and government conspiracies. And The End utilizes that pretty well.
Gibson's interaction with Mulder and Scully was a lot of fun. I liked that in general he was used as a conduit for unspoken communication here, not as merely a pawn in some vast conspiracy. The scene where he talked about the Mulder/Scully/Fowley triangle and how Mulder didn't want him to reveal too much was really sweet.
I enjoyed the introduction of Diana Fowley. She has a chemistry with Mulder that he doesn't have with Scully. They have a history. She believes in him. Plus, it throws a spanner in the works for Mulder and Scully's relationship. The moment where Scully saw the two of them together and decided to call Mulder instead of interrupt them was one of the most poignant scenes this show has done in a long while. I like Mimi Rogers, too, so I hope she'll stick around for a while.
The CSM is back, and seemed a lot more casual than he once was. He easily dismissed the Syndicate and even poked fun at the Well-Manicured Man. I'm guessing he only has one goal now: to try and form a relationship with his son. And considering Spender is such an asshole, I expect him to team up with his dad in some way.
I enjoyed this episode. Season five has been almost relentlessly bleak outside of its couple of comedy episodes, but in general it's been really strong. There have been some truly phenomenal standalone hours. But I've still got that fatigue over the conspiracy episodes, and supposedly it only gets worse from here. Eh. But, episode by episode, the show is still entertaining. B+
Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Walter Skinner); Nicholas Lea (Alex Krycek); William B. Davis (The Cigarette-Smoking Man); Mimi Rogers (Diana Fowley); Jeff Gulka (Gibson Praise); Martin Ferrero (Assassin); Michael Shamus Wiles (The Black-Haired Man); Chris Owens (Jeffrey Spender); George Murdock (Elder #2); Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike); Dean Haglund (Ringo Langley); Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers); Don S. Williams (Elder #1); John Neville (The Well-Manicured Man)
Writer Chris Carter Director R.W. Goodwin