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Recap / The X-Files S05 E20 "The End"

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Season 5, Episode 20:

The End
Written by Chris Carter
Directed by R. W. Goodwin

"What do you hope to find? I mean, in the end."
Walter Skinner

An assassination attempt at a chess tournament, combined with the return of the Cigarette Smoking Man, can only mean bad news for Mulder, Scully and the X-Files.


  • Blessed with Suck: Gibson Praise can read minds, which leads to pretty much all of the show's recurring bad guys trying to hunt him down and kill him.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Krycek wants to kill CSM after he delivers Gibson, but the Well-Manicured Man tells him no - he will need him in the future.
  • Chess Motifs: The episode involves chessmasters both literally (Gibson Praise, the character our heroes are trying to keep safe) and metaphorically (the CSM plays Mulder and Scully to his desired outcome).
  • Downer Ending: CSM and the syndicate successfully kidnap Gibson, wound Agent Fowley and discredit Mulder and Scully, closing the X-Files. To add insult to injury, CSM burns down Mulder's office effectively destroying his work.
    Scully: Whatever you may believe, this time they may have won.
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  • Easily Forgiven: CSM agrees to write off the First Elder's attempted assassination plot as water under the bridge. But not very convincingly.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Well-Manicured Man reacts with utter disgust when CSM offers to blow Gibson's brains out. CSM was likely trolling but he has shown in the past that he is capable of doing it.
  • Heroic BSoD: Poor Mulder, the moment he saw the torched X-Files office.
  • Living Lie Detector: Gibson can tell when a character is lying, due to his Telepathy.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: CSM tells this verbatim to Agent Spender, as his last line.
  • Myth Arc
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Cigarette-Smoking Man was already a tough customer, audacious to the core, but this episode shows us he can still throw down if it comes to violence.
  • No, You: Spender's rather Lame Comeback to Mulder.
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  • Pet the Dog: The Well-Manicured Man angrily rejects the Cigarette-Smoking Man's offer to shoot Gibson and takes the boy into his care, telling him there's nothing to be afraid of. The boy knows that he's lying, just like his cigarette-smoking colleague, but this simple act of kindness emphasises the former as one of the Syndicate's more virtuous members.
  • Properly Paranoid: To say The Lone Gunmen take home security seriously would be an understatement, but let's be honest, they'd be crazy not to.
  • Psychic Powers: Gibson is telepathic and gets everything right on the ESP test (knowing what's on the slash cards of the testers and what each of them had for breakfast).
  • Revenge: Subtle, but Krycek's hatred for the CSM (who'd discarded and tried to assassinate him many episodes prior) bubbles to the surface again. The Well-Manicured Man dismisses Krycek's offer to kill him.
  • Shout-Out: Gibson is seen watching The Simpsons when Mulder and Scully first come to visit. This episode aired not long after David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson both guest starred in The Springfield Files.
  • Stock Episode Titles
  • Telepathy: Gibson can read minds.
  • Trash the Set: The biggest one in the series yet: Mulder's office is burnt down, along with every file of the X-Files.
  • Wild Card: Krycek's long list of affiliations grows ever longer. This time he's back on the Syndicate's side, taking orders directly from the Well-Manicured Man, who foiled his plot in the previous Myth Arc episode.
  • Working with the Ex: When Diana Fowley comes on the scene. The audience is never told exactly what went on between Diana and Mulder, beyond the fact that she was his partner on the X-Files before Scully and abruptly left him. It's heavily implied they were romantically involved, and it wavers between a New Old Flame and Old Flame Fizzle; Mulder is initially reluctant to work with her yet still trusts her, while Diana is eager to rekindle their past relationship. Neither of these things go over very well with Scully.

"This was all strategized – every move. I just couldn’t see it. It was all of a plan."

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