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Recap / The X-Files S04 E14 "Memento Mori"

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Season 4, Episode 14:

Memento Mori
Written by Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Rob Bowman

"In med school, I learned that cancer arrives in the body unannounced, a dark stranger who takes up residence, turning it's new home against itself. This is the evil of cancer, that is starts as an invader, but soon becomes one with the invaded, forcing you to destroy it, but only at the risk of destroying yourself. It is science's demon possession. My treatment, science, has attempted exorcism."
Dana Scully

Scully comes to terms with her cancer diagnosis. Mulder investigates the possibility that it's linked to her abduction experience.


  • Affably Evil: Doctor Scanlon. On the surface he is a friendly, caring doctor who treated all the abductees, trying to cure them of their cancer. Secretly he is working for The Syndicate and isn't actually treating them, but worsening their conditions and killing them all, taking advantage of their trust in him in a total betrayal of his status as a medical professional.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: Mulder kisses Scully on the forehead.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Scully undergoes aggressive chemo and radiation therapy without showing any of the usual overt symptoms. She doesn't even lose a single hair. Justified because her "doctor" is not really trying to treat the cancer and is only putting on a show of treatment to kill her and the others.
  • The Conspiracy: The MUFON members' illnesses and deaths are linked to the Syndicate.
  • Deadly Nosebleed: Scully, several times throughout the episode.
  • Deal with the Devil: Skinner advises Mulder to avoid talking with the Cigarette Smoking Man about Scully's condition because it will amount to this, instead ordering him to find another way to save her. However, when it becomes clear that the CSM is the only one who might be able to help, Skinner takes it on himself to make the deal.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Scully has one, flashing back to her abduction.
  • Foreign Language Title: "Memento Mori" is a Latin phrase meaning "remember that you must die."
  • Held Gaze: Mulder and Scully look at each other with smiles on their faces before the big hug in the hospital.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The password to access records at the reproductive medicine facility is on a snowglobe beside the computer.
  • Radiograph of Doom: In a particularly morbid example, Scully examines her own X-rays and CT scans and uses them to explain to Mulder that the brain tumor they found is both inoperable and difficult to treat. She discusses it in minute detail, making it clear that as a doctor herself, she understands the implications in a way a typical patient would not.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Eventually subverted by Scully, affirming that people live with cancer every day and that she intends to do the same.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Scully deals with her cancer and undergoes several chemotherapy treatments.

Skinner: There's always another way.
Cigarette Smoking Man: Yes I believe there is, if you're willing to pay the price.