4.15 Memento Mori
German title: Memento Mori
French title: Le Journal de Mort
translation: The Journal of Death
US Airdate: February 9, 1997
writers: Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
director: Rob Bowman
David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder
Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully
DAVID LOVGREN as Kurt Crawford
GILLIAN BARBER as Penny Northern
SHIELA LARKEN as Mrs. Scully
TOM BRAIDWOOD as Frohike
DEAN HAGLUND as Langly
BRUCE HARWOOD as Byers
WILLIAM B. DAVIS as The Cigarette-Smoking Man
MITCH PILEGGI as A.D. Skinner
JULIE BOND as The Woman
MORRIS PANYCH as The Grey-Haired Man
SEAN ALLEN as Dr. Kevin Scanlon
WHEN SCULLY IS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER, MULDER HUNTS FOR RESEARCH FILES PERTAINING TO A GROUP OF FEMALE ABDUCTEES WHO ALSO CONTRACTED THE DISEASE.
Scully shows Mulder an MRI x-ray indicating a cancerous mass has been detected on the wall between her sinus and cerebrum. The tumor's placement makes it inoperable. Instead of requesting a leave of absence, Scully opts to follow another avenue of investigation: contacting a group of purported female abductees who experienced similar symptoms after having implants removed from the base of their necks. The agents travel to the home of Betsy Hagopian in Allentown, Pennsylvania. A realtor informs them that Hagopian (one of the female abductees) passed away two weeks earlier. While searching through Hagopian's house, the agents realize someone is downloading computer files via phone modem. A tap is placed on the line, and the source of the call is pinpointed. The agents take Kurt Crawford, the man who downloaded the files, into custody. Crawford explains that he and Hagopian were both members of the same UFO network. He claims he downloaded Hagopian's files because the government is out to destroy them. Crawford also reveals that all of the women who claimed they were abducted by aliens died of similar tumors-with the exception of Penny Northern, who is confined to a hospital bed.
Scully visits Northern at the hospital. Northern reveals that a Dr. Scanlon, who has been treating her cancer, may have isolated the cause. Dr. Scanlon begins treating Scully's cancer. Meanwhile, Mulder and Crawford search through hard files in Hagopian's basement. They discover that all of the woman abductees, including Northern, were treated at the same fertility clinic in Pennsylvania. Mulder leaves Crawford in the basement to attend to Scully (who decides to check into the hospital). Later that evening, the Gray-Haired Man (the same man who killed X) shows up and kills Crawford, whose body melts into a pool of green liquid.
Meanwhile, Mulder breaks into the fertility clinic. Inside, he discovers Kurt Crawford (Mulder is unaware of the other Crawford's death). They access a computer terminal and download a directory containing Scully's name. Mulder then approaches Skinner and attempts to arrange a meeting with The Cigarette-Smoking Man. But Skinner refuses, insisting The Cigarette-Smoking Man deals only in lies. Nonetheless, Skinner secretly enlists The Cigarette-Smoking Man's help.
Mulder turns to the Lone Gunmen. The foursome infiltrate the research facility via a subterranean tunnel. Once inside, Mulder realizes Dr. Scanlon is on staff. He instructs Byers to find Scully and stop her treatment immediately. As he continues through the building's corridors, Mulder encounters additional Crawfords and realizes Kurt is a clone. He finds several of them dressed as doctors inside an incubator room housing tanks containing human forms, including those of Samantha. One of the Kurts shows Mulder a cold storage room containing vials of human ova. The eggs were harvested from women during their abduction, which were later used for reproduction. Mulder realizes the women are the Kurts' birth mothers-and the clones are actually working to save their mothers' lives.
The Gray-Haired Man arrives at the clinic and traps Mulder between two security doors in a quarantine wing. The Gray-Haired Man opens fire, slowly cracking the bullet proof glass that stands between himself and his prey. Working feverishly, Frohike breaks a computer code from a remote location, allowing Mulder to open the outside door and run to safety.
When Mulder returns to the hospital, he finds Scully at Penny's bedside. Byers arrived in time to stop Scully's treatment, but Penny Northern had died and Dr. Scanlon was gone. Scully tells her partner she has decided to fight the disease and continue her work.
Or, as I've subtitled it: "EGGSactly what the 'shippers wanted!"
The title is supposedly Latin for "Remember that you must die", and word has it that this phrase was whispered by a slave to a Roman general returning from battle. It also refers to any object used throughout the history of art as a reminder of mortality; a skull, clock, candle, hourglass, with a skull being the classic memento mori. Nice artsy touch then to begin the show with an xray of Scully's skull. Today, the phrase refers to any reminder that we are all mortal.
I've been told that a sundial, dated 1625, has been found with the inscription "Memento quia pulvis es", meaning "Remember that thou art dust."
The computer password Mulder needed to get into Scully's files was Vegreville, which, in real life is a small town in central Alberta, Canada, famous for a large statue of a Ukrainian Easter Egg (Pysanka), just like the one in the "snow-dome" on the desk. A picture of this landmark is available HERE <http://vegnet.vegnet.afternet.com/town/attracti.html>. Also, an "Easter Egg" is a hidden message from programmers that when accessed, shows a joke, or a funny picture, or pictures of the programers and developers.
Nice touch with Cancer Man reading in the dark in Mulder's office when Skinner came in. If the episode "Musings Of A Cigarette-Smoking Man" is to be believed at all, then you have to chuckle at the image of CM reading someone else's novel in the dark, lit only by the glow from his cigarette.
And how about that "black-lunged bastard", Cancer Man, having the nerve to put his cigarette out in Skinner's coffee cup?! Telling detail though, Skinner's already paying some kind of price to the devil if he lets him get away with something like this.
Visually speaking, the hallway hug at the end had a nice balance to it with Scully dressed all in white and Mulder in black.
Scully's journal entries:
For the first time, I feel time like a heartbeat, the seconds, pumping in my breasts like a reckoning. The numinous mysteries that once seemed so distant and unreal, threatening clarity in the presence of a truth entertained not in youth, but only in its passage. I feel these words as if their meaning were weight being lifted from me. Knowing that you will read them and share my burden as I have come to trust no other. That you should know my heart, look into it, finding there the memory and experience that belong to you, that are you, is a comfort now as I feel the tethers loose and the prospects darken for the continuance of a journey that began not so long ago and which began again with a faith shaken and strengthened by your convictions. If not for which, I might never have been so strong now as I cross to face you, and look at you, incomplete, hoping that you will forgive me for not making the rest of the journey with you.
In med school I learned that cancer arrives in the body unannounced. A dark stranger who takes up residence, turning its new home against itself. This is the evil of cancer. That it 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. By treatment, science's attempt at exorcism. Mulder, I that hope in these terms you might know it and know me. And accept a stranger someone you recognize but cannot ever completely cast out. And if the darkness should have swallowed me as you read this, you must never think there was the possibility of some secret intervention, something you might have done, and though we've traveled far together. This last distance must necessarily be traveled alone.
The closed-captioning version:
Cancer, they taught us in med school, never leaves a calling card. It's unbeckoned like a dark, sleepless stranger who comes with not a bid or a summons but with a haunting promise and a declaration of imminent domain. This is the great mystery, the ever insoluble -- science's unexplained demon possession. My treatments, science's attempt at exorcism. And if the darkness swallows me, you must never think there was a possibility of some secret intervention -- something you might have done. And though we've travelled far together, this is fate's parting, and this last distance must necessarily be travelled alone.
I have not written to you in the last twenty-four hours because the treatment has weakened my spirit as well as my body. Mulder, it's difficult to describe to you the fear of facing an enemy which I can neither conquer nor escape. Penny Northern has taken a downturn. I now look at her with a respect that can only come from one who is about to walk the same dark path. Seeing her I can't help but see myself in a month or a year. I pray that I have her courage to face this journey. Mulder, I feel you close though I know you are now pursuing your own path. For that I am grateful. More than I could ever express. I need to know you're out there if I am ever to see through this.
(The last passage is what Mulder sees when he sneaks a look at Scully's journal.)
This is what the closed-captioning viewers saw:
I have not written to you in the last 24 hours out of an optimism that riding on the treatment which is now wracking my body. The clarity I claimed has been dulled now by the cellular offensive that is being launched on me. Dr. Scanlon is now attacking a gene known as p53, which he believes has mutated and caused my cancer. Mulder, I am certain you are pursuing your own path, even though I am sick and blind with pain. I hope that you will recognize the futility and go no further. I need to know you're out there if I'm ever to see through this.
Scully: "The truth is that the type and placement of the tumor make it difficult, to the extreme."
Mulder: "I refuse to believe that, I.."
Scully: "For all the times I have said that to you, I am as certain of this as you have ever been. I have cancer. It is a mass on the wall between my sinus and cerebrum. If it pushes into my brain, statistically there is about zero chance of survival."
Mulder: "I don't accept that. There must be some people who have received treatment for this, we can..."
Scully: "Yes there are."
Scully: "I'm fine, Mulder. Quit staring at me, I'm fine."
Scully: "Mulder, whatever you've found, or whatever you might find, I think that we both know that right now, the truth is in me...and that's where I need to pursue it. As soon as possible."
Mulder: "I will be right there."
Scully: "What makes you think this is a conspiracy, that the government's involved?"
Kurt: "What makes you think it isn't? Eleven women are abducted, all with similar recollections of the experience, all developing identical brain tumors, and all refuse state or federal health care because of their insistence of the facts. And all dying within the space of a year."
(Mulder pulls Scully aside)
Mulder: "I want you to listen to me."
Scully: "About what?"
Mulder: "About what you won't to admit to yourself, what you're denying."
Scully: "What am I denying?"
Mulder: "Where your cancer came from."
Scully: "Mulder it doesn't matter."
Mulder: "It does matter, if what you have is a result of your abduction and that abduction is something the government knows about, then those are facts that should be brought to light."
Scully: (annoyed) "I don't know what happened to me. I have no clear recollection and I don't think these abductions are even abductions."
Mulder: "But these women are dead."
Scully: "No they are not. One woman isn't. There's Penny Northern."
Mulder: "If you won't listen to me then I think you should go talk to her."
Scully: (angry) "About what? What it feels like to be dying of cancer? What it's like to know that there's absolutely nothing you can do about it?"
Mulder: "If that's too hard for you then I think you should call an investigator. You have one remaining witness Agent Scully. I'd think you'd want to know what her story is."
Mulder: "Why store something like this and why keep it a secret?"
Byers: "Scientists get funky about having their research poached."
Langly: "Someone might be trying to find a cause."
Mulder: "Or a cure."
Mulder: "You guys ever been to the Lombard Research Facility? Well, put on something black and sexy and prepare to do some funky poaching."
Skinner: "Where's Agent Scully?"
Mulder: "She's at a hospital in Allentown beginning treatment."
Skinner: "What happened to your investigative avenues?"
Mulder: "They've taken a turn. A pretty big U-turn by the looks of it. (pulls out disk) This is a file directory from a federally operated fertility clinic. Agent Scully's name is on this file, although I'm pretty sure, pretty damn sure she's never undergone treatment for infertility."
Skinner: "What's in the file?"
Mulder: "I don't know. It's just a directory for a mainframe housed in the Lombard Research Facility."
Skinner: "So you want to set a meeting, with whom?"
Mulder: "Cigarette Man. I have no doubt in my mind he's behind this."
Skinner: "You've come to me before like this, Mulder."
Mulder: "Yeah, well this is different - this is different. I'm willing to deal now."
Skinner: "Find another way."
Mulder: "No...no. I need that meeting."
Skinner: "You deal with this man...you offer him anything, and he will own you forever."
Mulder: "He knows what they did to Agent Scully...he may very well know how to save her."
Skinner: "If he knows, you can know, too, but you can't ask the truth of a man who trades in lies. I won't let you."
Mulder: "We are talking about Agent Scully's life."
Skinner: "Find another way."
(in Mulder's darkened office)
Cancer Man: "Funny...I always thought of you as Fox Mulder's patron. You'd think that under your aegis (protection), he wouldn't be consigned to a corner of the basement."
Skinner: "At least he doesn't have to take an elevator up to get to work."
Cancer Man: "You think I'm the devil, Mr. Skinner?"
Skinner: "I'm not here to talk about what I think about you."
Cancer Man: "Then why are you here? Is it Mulder's partner and her illness? (pause) Is it terminal, the cancer?"
Skinner: "You tell me."
Cancer Man: "Modern medicine today - I hear they can perform miracles."
Skinner: "I need a miracle."
Cancer Man: "Well, you think a lot more of me than you let on Mr. Skinner."
Skinner: "What would it take?"
Cancer Man: "For Agent Scully's life? What would you offer?"
Skinner: (through clenched teeth) "What'll it take?"
Cancer Man: "Well, I'll have to get back to you on that. (turns in doorway) Oh Mr. Skinner, which way is the elevator?"
Mulder: (grabbing Byers' head-set) "Couldn't you guys have sprung for two of these?"
Mulder: "Boys, we have a problem. The doctor treating Scully's cancer is on staff here."
Langly: "More mysteries await."
Mulder: "Okay, Langly, Frohike...I'm here. Open the door."
Frohike: "The doors work on redundant systems. We're working fast."
(gunshots ring out)
Mulder: "Work faster!"
Mulder: "What are these?"
Kurt hybrid: "Human ova."
Mulder: "Taken from whom? (sees a drawer with Scully's name on it) What?" (opens drawer revealing vials)
Hybrid: "During her abduction, high application radiation procedure which caused superovulation."
Hybrid: "For fertilization. They constitute one half of the necessary raw materials."
Mulder: "For genetic hybridization, or reproduction. These women, these women are your birth mothers."
Hybrid: "Barren now, from the same procedure that caused their cancer. And now they're left to die, their conditions hastened by the men running this project."
Mulder: "You're trying to save them."
Hybrid: "They're our mothers."
(Mulder takes vial with him)
Mulder: "When I came to find you, you weren't in your room I got scared that something had happened..and I read some of what you wrote."
Scully: "I didn't want you to read that. I had decided to throw it out. I decided tonight that I'm not going to let this thing beat me. I came into this hospital able to work, and that's how I'm leaving."
Mulder: "Byers tell you about Dr. Scanlon?"
Mulder: "He may very well have killed those women."
Scully: "That will have to be proven, if we find him."
Mulder: "When we find him. Scully something was done to you, something that you're just beginning to remember. You can't quite figure it out but it can be explained and it will be explained. And no matter what you think as a scientist or a doctor, there is a way, and you will find it, to save yourself."
Scully: "Mulder I can't kid myself. People live with cancer. They carry on, and so will I. You know I've got things to finish, to prove to myself, to my family, but for my own reasons."
Mulder: (opening his arms to hug her) "Come on back. (Or possibly he says "Welcome back") The truth will save you Scully. I think it'll save both of us."
Mulder: (on the other end of the phone) "I was calling to thank you for your advice about your chainsmoking friend. I think you were right. We have to know what he knows, we just have to find another way."
Skinner: "There's always another way."
(hangs up and we now see Cancer Man sitting in front of Skinner's desk)
Cancer Man: "Yes I believe there is, if you're willing to pay the price."
(Cancer Man puts his still-burning cigarette in Skinner's cup)