"Gethsemane" is the twenty-fourth episode and the fourth season finale of The X-Files. It originally aired on the Fox network on May 18, 1997. Series creator Chris Carter developed the script, with R.W. Goodwin directing the episode.
Researchers in northern Canada discover what may finally be irrefutable proof of alien existence, but even Mulder is skeptical until sinister agents begin to kill to prevent its revelation, leading to a shocking conclusion.
Scully enters Mulder's apartment, where a group of detectives and forensic technicians are waiting. Detective Rempulski introduces himself, then pulls back a sheet draped over a body lying on the floor. Scully positively identifies the victim. Later, Scully appears before a group of FBI officials led by Section Chief Scott Blevins. During the meeting, Scully recounts how, four years earlier, Blevins assigned her to a project known as The X-Files. She states that the purpose of the current meeting is to report on the illegitimacy of Mulder's work.
In flashback, a pair of anthropologists, Arlinsky and Babcock, are flown by helicopter to a snowbound camp at the base of a mountain. Accompanied by a guide, the pair make their way up the steep terrain. Upon reaching the summit, the men enter a cave where the body of a gray alien is perfectly preserved in ice.
A group of guests gather at Mrs. Scully's house for a dinner party. Amongst the attendees are Dana's brother, Bill Scully, Jr., and a Catholic Priest, Father McCue. Scully realize McCue was invited by her mother for the purpose of discussing her faith at a time when Scully's health is at great risk due to her cancer. After dinner, Father McCue and Scully briefly talk about her drifting from the church before their discussion is interrupted by a phone call from Mulder. He has received information about a something that was discovered in Canada.
Mulder arranges for Scully to meet he and Arlinsky at the Smithsonian. Arlinsky claims that, based upon ice core samples taken from the scene, the alien body is some two hundred years old. He asks for the agents' assistance in verifying the alien remains. Mulder and Arlinsky fly to the base camp, which is eerily deserted. Unbeknownst to them, a mysterious assassin armed with a shotgun pistol has murdered the Summiteers. Upon reaching the summit, the men discover the bodies of Babcock and a foreman. Inside the cave is a rectangular hole where the alien body had been entombed. Later, Babcock, injured but alive, tells the pair that he buried the alien body beneath his tent.
Meanwhile, Scully and lab scientist Vitagliano examine ice core samples taken from the cave. Later that night, Scully returns to the Bio Lab, where she is assaulted and thrown down a flight of stairs by an unidentified attacker. Agent Hedin matches fingerprints found on the stairwell to a Michael Kritschgau, who works for the Pentagon's research division. After viewing a personnel file, Scully positively identifies Kritschgau as her attacker. Later, she confronts Kritschgau inside a parking garage and places him under arrest. But Kritschgau warns that if he is taken to jail, the same people who gave Scully cancer will kill him.
Mulder and Arlinsky transport the alien body to a warehouse where an autopsy can be performed. Scully contacts her partner at the warehouse and arranges a meeting so he can hear Kritschgau's story firsthand. Soon afterward, the assassin, Ostelhoff, shoots and kills Arlinsky and Babcock at the warehouse. Meanwhile, Kritschgau, who claims to have run the Department of Defense's agitprop arm, tells the agents that the government has been orchestrating an elaborate hoax to divert attention away from itself. The alien corpse, Kritschgau claims, was forged from bio-materials and frozen into place over the course of a year. He insists Mulder was only meant to see the alien—to make him believe the lie. Mulder counters that it is Kritschgau who is the liar. But when Mulder returns to the warehouse, he discovers the dead bodies of Arlinsky and Babcock—and the alien specimen missing. Shortly thereafter, Scully tells him the men behind the hoax gave her cancer all in an effort to make him a believer in their lies. Mulder is stunned by the revelation.
Back in the current day, Scully tells FBI officials that she received a phone call from the police department asking her to identify a body inside Mulder's apartment. Struggling to maintain composure, Scully reveals that Mulder died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
The cave where the alien body was found was one of the most expensive and elaborate sets created in the show's history. It was built within a refrigerated building and involved truckloads of lumber and 10,000 square feet of styrofoam. The outdoor scenes were filmed around the nearby Mount Seymour. The entire set was built by the construction crew inside a refrigerated building to shoot the scenes taking place in the wilderness of the Yukon Territory. The temperature hit -21 degrees Fahrenheit and everyone involved in the shooting was required, through a memo, to dress very warmly.
The first cut of the episode was twelve minutes too long, resulting in some of the scenes in the mountains being removed. Chris Carter re-edited the entire episode two days before it aired.
The title is an allusion to the biblical garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas.
The tagline for this episode is changed to "Believe the Lie".
This episode marks the first on-screen appearance of Scully's brother, Bill Jr. after his scene in "Memento Mori" was cut.
Gethsemane was, according to the Bible, the place where Jesus was betrayed by Judas (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12) – probably a reference to Scully's (apparent) betrayal of Mulder. Conversely, Mulder could be seen as the betrayer because he left Scully behind to deal with her cancer while he chased down evidence of an EBE (although he did not know at the time her cancer had metastasized).
Cast and Characters
- Steve Makaj (Scott Ostlehoff) previously played Patrolman in The X-Files episode "Ascension", Frank Kiveat in "D.P.O." and Arkansas Trooper Flanagan in the Millennium episode "The Wild and the Innocent".
- Nancy Kerr (Agent Hedin) previously played Personnel Chief Dana Flender in Millennium episode "Walkabout".
- Arnie Walters (Father McCue) previously played Father Silas Brown in Millennium episode "Kingdom Come".
- Craig Brunanski (Saw Operator) previously played Security Guard in The X-Files episode "Soft Light" and Guard in "The List".
- John Finn as Michael Kritschgau (First appearance)
- Matthew Walker as Arlinksy
- James Sutorius as Babcock
- Sheila Larken as Margaret Scully
- Pat Skipper as William Scully, Jr. (First appearance)
- John Oliver as Rolston
- Charles Cioffi as Section Chief Scott Blevins
- Barry W. Levy as Dr. Vitagliano
- Arnie Walters as Father McCue (First appearance)
- Rob Freeman as Detective Rempulski
- Craig Brunanski as Saw Operator