The X-Files gets gory and explores a disturbing, organ-stealing cult in the penultimate episode of the season
This week The X-Files explores a cannibalistic cult that brutally harvests human organs, consumes them, and slows down the natural aging process. The cult was founded by Dr. Randolph Luvenis (Jere Burns) to keep himself and actress Barbara Beaumont (Fiona Vroom) young. Using that process of consuming human blood and organs, the cult leaders promise those who join that they’ll stay young. The catch is the cultists are used in a parasitic-like manner and act as sacrifices for Dr. Luvenis and Barbara.
After Olivia (Micaela Aguilera) goes missing after joining the cult, her sister Juliet (Carlena Britch) starts murdering cult members in a personal holy war to get her back. Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) track the murders to New York City, discover that Juliet is behind them, and help dismantle the cult in the process.
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Despite “Nothing Lasts Forever” exploring the concept of slowing down the aging process, it takes a backseat to the inner workings of the cannibalistic cult. The episode is bloody and unsettling. If the cultists aren’t eating their “dinnie” of human blood and organs, they’re shown harvesting them. Likewise, Juliet is shown killing the cultists with metal stakes or washing off their blood.
The more uplifting and non-bloody portions of the episode follow Mulder and Scully as they attempt to track down Juliet. But like with the cultist story, Mulder and Scully’s story is more about the characters themselves and less about the investigation. It explores Scully’s personal faith and Mulder and Scully’s faith in each other. By the end of the episode, the duo has a renewed commitment to each other as the show heads into the season finale.
The X-Files may have made us a bit queasy and uncomfortable this week but that just means we have more to talk about. Let’s dig in, meet our roundtable, and discuss “Nothing Left Behind!”
Gigi (@trilliaventuras) – Mom to triplets. Passionate, my glass is either full or not there at all. Sci-fi nerd since before it was cool. Fangirl extraordinaire.
Kaiju Ninja (@OfficeSquatch) – Godzilla geek. Gamer. Nerdy about sci-fi, and all things, film and TV.
Vicky (@MrsWilliams1704) – Lifelong X-Files fan, who would sit and discuss the show constantly given half a chance.
Trycee (@believeinxfiles) – Hardcore X-Files fan for life.
Briana (@sassy_scully) – PR student. Lover of cheese, bacon and all things Scully.
1. Dr. Luvenis found a way to significantly slow the natural aging process. While the methods he used are unlikely to become a reality (thankfully), there is real research being done on slowing down aging. If scientists find a way to slow down aging, should humans embrace it? Would you?
Gigi (@trilliaventuras): This is a hard one, especially for someone on the wrong side of 40. On the one hand, and going beyond just beauty, a lot of age-related diseases would be eliminated and that would be a great thing. On the other hand, younger generations would stand no chance against super experienced older ones and innovation usually requires a fresh mindset, and also to quote Queen, who wants to live forever?
Kaiju Ninja (@OfficeSquatch): As Mulder states, age is a natural progression, not a disease. Age doesn’t need a cure. If scientists find a way to stop or slow the process, it’s going to be a Pandora’s Box and not The Holy Grail. In my opinion, humans should embrace the natural lives they’re given and live to the fullest possible.
Vicky (@MrsWilliams1704): I’m not sure I’d want to slow down the ageing process, to be honest. Ageing is something that we all go through so we should all get to experience it. That’s not to say I wouldn’t mind getting rid of a few lines around my eyes, but isn’t that what plastic surgery is for? The way they went about reversing it was a little extreme. I’m not quite sure there would be many people that would be willing to be bolted to the back of someone else so that they can essentially be a host for a parasite, so to speak.
Trycee (@believeinxfiles): What I thought he did to his tributes, as I will call them, was to attach to their stem cells and then drain them. That may not be what was happening but I’m not a doctor and that’s what I thought so if that’s the case, that is actually today’s technology, well, sort of. And I do believe that stem cell therapy can help with all types of conditions and should be embraced. I don’t believe it can reverse aging but if it could, should it be embraced? I would have to say no. There’s an India Arie song called “Get it Together,” and there’s a line that says, “You’ll never be happy, and you’ll never be whole until you see the beauty in growing old.” That’s exactly how I feel. There’s a beauty in aging, a joy in it if you embrace it as such. You can either accept it and be proud of it or you can fight it, which is futile.
Briana (@sassy_scully): I think it would be cool to slow down the aging process but at the same time, I don’t think that humans should embrace it. I personally would maybe try something not as crazy as what the people in the episode did. Maybe a cream. haha
2. Juliet’s method for dealing with the cult members was extreme. Ignoring the legality of murdering, organ-stealing members of a cult, do you agree or disagree with her approach?
Gigi: Extreme is too mild of a word. She never tried more conventional approaches, going to the police or the FBI. She just decided what needed to be done and took matters into her own hands knowing perfectly well that what she was doing was wrong. Religion is used way to often to justify atrocious acts and that just won’t do.
Kaiju Ninja: Juliet wanted to find her sister Olivia, and this cult brainwashed Olivia and kidnapped her, as well as killing many innocent people. When it comes to family, people will do anything, and take matters into their own hands, and to the extreme. Obviously, I don’t condone murder, but I can understand Juliet’s will to save her sister’s life and to stop the cult. However, not everyone’s a hero and savior, and maybe justice can be served by other means than murder.
Vicky: Oh, disagree, obviously. I mean, I understand why she was doing what she was doing. She wanted her sister home and thought that by killing the people involved, to try and put an end to the cult, it would get Olivia back. But do I agree with it? Absolutely not. You can’t just go full vigilante to get what you want. Even if the organ stealing cult members did deserve what they got.
Trycee: I disagree. She could have informed someone of their methods. She could have found another way but the problem with that is, if her sister is unwilling to leave a cult, there’s nothing they could do. But, in the end, Juliet sacrificed her life for her sisters and her mother was no better off. Her mother was still praying over one of her daughters.
Briana: Honestly, good for Juliet. Those people were crazy.
3. Out of all of the scenes featuring Barbara, which one did you find to be the most disturbing? What did you think of her as a character?
Gigi: The very first one, when she is in bed watching a 50-year-old show trying so hard for everything to stay the same and you realize the actual lengths she will go to, to achieve this. That scene is both gory and creepy. I think she’s a woman stuck in her past glory days, who refuses to move on and embrace the new.
Kaiju Ninja: I think the idea of her character is interesting and the actress did a good job, but I didn’t like seeing all the blood and killing. Especially, the killing of the girl that was attached to Dr. Luvenis. I wasn’t a fan of the whole blood and gore aspect of this episode, honestly. Way too extreme for “TV14” and, the show itself.
Vicky: Without a doubt, the most disturbing scene involving Barbara was the one where she was singing to the group. That was just downright odd. And then encouraging Warren to kill himself so that the rest of the cult members could feed on him? It was just downright bizarre. However, in saying that, I actually quite liked the character, despite her obvious derangement and obsession with staying young. I’m still intrigued as to how she got all those people to follow her without question though.
Trycee: The most disturbing was the singing scene. First, because of her singing cracked me up. LOL. But, also because the guy volunteered himself and then he stabbed himself and they cut him up as she was singing. And then they brought her a glass of his liver. Yeah, that was pretty disturbing.
Briana: The scene where she was singing and then the guy stabbed himself was really creepy. Then they took his organs and made her a drink. *gags* Totally creepy. I actually loved the character though.
4. It’s impossible not to mention this. Mulder now has bifocals! Sorry, progressive lenses. What are your thoughts on that and how it was handled?
Gigi: Mulder in glasses is dreamy! But seriously, he’s in his late 50s. Him not needing them would be the X-File. I like the way he was inconvenienced by needing them to use his phone but never really complained about growing old. He knows every little ache and pain has been well-earned and that both he and Scully deserve to slow down.
Kaiju Ninja: He looks alright with them. I guess they make him look more sophisticated, but it’s obviously something we’d have to get used to. And I guess, for this episode, it’s showing his age. It’s not a bad look. I just can’t see him wearing those all the time.
Vicky: 4. Oh my god, Fox Mulder in glasses was always a sight to behold, but in this episode? Wowsers. He looked incredible! I loved that the theme of the episode was ageing and how to prevent it occurring while having our main character appear to almost be struggling with getting older was a great move. And as funny the scene was where Mulder apparently finally notices Scully’s new (amazing) hairstyle, I can’t believe that he’d never noticed it before. He does need to wear them all the time though. That needs to continue.
Trycee: Every year, my eyes get worse, so I can relate to Mulder. He looked absolutely yummy in those glasses. And Gillian tweeted that they were like her glasses which makes them even more adorable.
Briana: I think it’s cute and we knew his vision was crap. He’s colorblind. lmao
5. Mulder and Scully had several quiet scenes together throughout the episode. Which scene was your favorite and why? How do you see their scenes playing a role in the season finale?
Gigi: I absolutely adored their scenes together. They were quiet but so intense. I loved the one where Mulder is being patient and goes to sit down in the pews to wait for Scully because he understands she needs this moment and doesn’t even try to run off and do things. Mulder has grown. Scully finally telling him all the guilt she’s carried around for years that ultimately destroyed their relationship showed how much she has grown. Mulder’s absolute trust and belief in her and they realize they are, in fact, together was so beautiful to watch. I love them all, I just can’t pick a favorite one!
Kaiju Ninja: Well, honestly, I didn’t like those scenes. I thought the dialogue was badly-written, and they both were almost whispering during those scenes. I actually thought they dragged the episode down, especially, the ending conversation. And there was a “Lost in Translation” moment. Those scenes hurt the episode.
Vicky: I loved the end scene in the church where they appeared to finally sort their relationship and apparently be back together. With him telling her that he’s standing right in front of her, waiting, I adored how it’s basically been Mulder waiting for Scully all these years. I’d always assumed that it was Scully waiting for Mulder to mature and be ready to commit, but really it was Scully who appeared to struggle with commitment. I just hope that in the last episode (please no I’m not ready!) this conversation follows through and shows that they’re back together and happy.
Trycee: There are so many to choose from. How do you choose? I loved them all. They were so married and so comfortable with each other. I loved it. I love that Mulder was so blind that he didn’t notice her hair was cut. Plus, he’s a guy so. I loved how after rescuing her from the dumbwaiter, he tells her she stinks. That’s married stuff. But, I really liked seeing Mulder sharing the church experience with Scully. The first time she’s alone and you can tell that she does this alone all the time. So, for him to be there with her and you can see that it made her happy. And that story about praying for the puppy is just about the cutest thing.
Briana: My personal favorite was when he was in the church with her and she told him that he could either leave or wait for her and he chose to stay and sat in the pew. It was nothing major but it still had my heart beating like crazy because it was so cute to me. I think their scenes are going to play a pivotal role in the finale.
6. At the end of the episode, Scully whispered something in Mulder’s ear, he said he “wondered how this would end,” and then lit a votive (prayer) candle. What do you think she said to him?
Gigi: This is one of those things that will haunt us forever and a thousand and one fics will be written about it. Given his answer, I can’t even begin to imagine what she could have said. My big romantic heart for MSR wants it to be that she proposed to him in a very unconventional way. But Mulder and Scully are nothing if not unconventional.
Kaiju Ninja: As I mentioned, a “Lost in Translation” moment. In response to Mulder’s question, maybe she said something like, “You’ll soon find out” or “We’ll soon find out.” Or maybe she said, “We’ll find our son.”
Vicky: I think she told him that she’s pregnant. I’m convinced of it. There’s been too much foreshadowing and hinting at a pregnancy, so for me, it was a pregnancy announcement. Then Mulder lit the candle for their baby and to show that they’ve reignited the flame of their relationship. That whole scene was just beautiful and emotional and I’m not ashamed to admit I shed a tear at it.
Trycee: I’m gonna go with the rumors that are spreading. I’ve watched that part about ten times and I have to say, I do believe she said she was pregnant. NOW, if she is, she is in her 50s and that goes into the issue of birth defects. BUT, there have been women in their 60s and even 70s (in England) that gave birth to healthy babies. So, it’s possible. BUT, if that’s not what she said, I’m setting myself up for disappointment, which I would never want to do. I want to enjoy these episodes and there’s a lot to be happy and grateful for. And the problem with having X-Files in today’s time is that rumors prevail and then the fandom is disappointed when their expectations aren’t met. So, maybe it was like what the writer of the episode, Karen Nielsen said, which was, “It’ll always be between Mulder and Scully. It’s not for anyone else. That was their moment.”
Briana: “We’re having a baby.”
7. “Nothing Lasts Forever” was the final standalone episode of the season. What are your thoughts on the episode overall? Was it a good idea to place a standalone episode before the season finale?
Gigi: You know the stages of grief? Well, I’m still at disbelief: this couldn’t possibly be the last one! It was a great episode that advanced Mulder and Scully’s understated relationship more than any other. This is important because going into the last one (cue tears) what they mean to each other will become very relevant. The story itself was very gory and creepy and I really liked it. The “My Struggle” episodes have all been a bit of a mess and with the amount of things that need at least explaining, I don’t see how it will be all accomplished in one hour. So I keep wondering if maybe doing an episode with a bit of mythology before it wouldn’t have been preferable. But then again, this way we get more standalones to enjoy in future rewatches.
Kaiju Ninja: I didn’t like this episode. It was too bloody/gory for this show and the subject/plot wasn’t very interesting. The idea of slowing aging is interesting, but we’ve seen it done before and much better (Forever Young, Death Becomes Her, etc). I think the acting and overall production was fine but I just didn’t care for the story and characters. While I’m happy they’re returning to the main story next week, I’m also very cautious. Especially, since this season has been mainly a HUGE disappointment overall. Here’s hoping the season finale is worth the wait.
Vicky: I actually really liked “Nothing Lasts Forever.” The MSR in it was just beautiful and was a great way to round off the standalone episodes before the season finale. We know the next one is going to be full on so to know that we’re going into the final episode with Mulder and Scully together fills me with hope. I’m happy that we’ve got resolution in a way for them. I think we needed the standalone before we go head first into the mythology since it’s more than likely going to be 100 miles an hour from the start.
Trycee: Yes. It fits right where it does. It was gruesome and the whole issue of faith, togetherness, and aging are all the issues that Mulder and Scully are currently facing. It was one of the themes that carried throughout season 11.
Briana: Some points were super boring and it felt slow to me but I thought it was intense and pretty cool. Personally, I would’ve preferred that the last 2 episodes be a part of the mythology arc. I’m nervous at how they’ll tie up the storylines in the final episode.
Final Verdict: “Nothing Left Behind” isn’t perfect but it’s held together by excellent Mulder/Scully moments that give us some closure before the season finale
The final standalone episode of season eleven of The X-Files explores the concept of slowing down the aging process. Naturally, it does that through a gruesome cult that harvests and consumes human organs. “Nothing Left Behind” makes extensive use of blood/violence and often pairs it with a disturbing amount of joy from the cultists. For example, after a cult member offers to sacrifice himself to feed Barbara, she decides to reward him by singing him a song. He then kills himself. As Barbara continues to smile while singing, the cultists rip the man apart, harvest his organs, and create a bloody drink for Barbara. The end result is a sickening yet highly effective scene that perfectly shows the lengths Barbara will go to in order to stay young and how twisted she’s become.
Mulder and Scully don’t have a whole lot in this episode to do as far as investigating is concerned but where they’re left will have a lasting effect as we go into the season finale. Both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are in top form and play off each other beautifully. There’s a consistent chemistry in their scenes and the way they interact makes it feel like Mulder and Scully are a married couple. Despite the obvious fondness for each other, the characters still remain professional throughout and their private relationship remains private in the typical fashion for The X-Files.
“Nothing Left Behind” is quite gory throughout. From a graphic organ harvesting surgery in the opening scene to a series of murders to characters being surgically attached to one another, the episode doesn’t leave much to the imagination. While the high amounts of blood and gore help portray the cult quite effectively, everything is far gorier than is usual for the series and that won’t go over well with everyone. The Mulder and Scully scenes are entertaining and help advance their character arcs but the scenes are very slow paced. When combined with the equally slow and drawn out scenes with the cult members, the end result is a relatively sluggish episode.
With Mulder and Scully having completed their last non-mytharc case of the season and being more committed to each other than ever before, the season finale is going to have a lot of ground to cover. Will a single final hour be enough time to conclude the mytharc for the season and possibly the series? We’re cautiously optimistic and a bit nervous but there’s no way we’re going to miss “My Struggle IV” next week!