The X-Files – “Essence”

The first part of a two part season finale aired last night. Read more for spoilers, thoughts, and a review of this excellent episode.


as Dana Scully
Robert Patrick
as John Doggett
David Duchovny
as Fox Mulder
Mitch Pileggi as
Walter Skinner
Nick Lea as
Sheila Larken as
Margaret Scully
Zachary Ansley
as Bily Miles
Jay Acovone as
Duffy Haskell
Annabeth Gish as
Agent Reyes
Denise Crosby as
Dr. Mary Speake
as Dr. James Parenti
Kirk BR Woller
as Agent Crane
Frances Fisher
as Lizzy Gill


Written by Chris Carter
Directed by Kim Manners

Original Airdate

Essence originally aired on Sunday, April 13, 2001.


The teaser for this episode was a voice-over by Mulder, with a series
of images of an egg being fertilized, and a fetus developing. He
describes conception as “essence transforming into existance.”

In act one, the action begins with Margaret Scully coming to help her
daughter with the baby shower. She had also invitied over a woman
named Liz, in what was effectively a job interview as a baby nurse.
During the baby shower, Liz snuck into the bathroom and replaced some
of Scully’s medication with some she had brought with her.

Elsewhere, Billy Miles arrived at Zeus Genetics, which viewers should
remember from Via Negativa. He looked at Dr. Lev’s work, saw
that it was fruitful, and killed him. Then he burned the place down
in arson.

Mulder arrived at Doggett’s home the next morning. (Doggett was
cleaning his gun and watching Nascar on Fox.) He changed channels to
the news, and talked Doggett into giving him a ride to investigate.
When the pair arrived at the FBI analysis lab, the Agent in charge
(Agent Crane) gave Doggett a hard time about following orders from a
man who is no longer with the FBI, and for dragging people in on a
Saturday. They learned that Dr. Lev was missing, and his cofounder of
the clinic was Scully’s OBGYN through the first two thirds of her

Mulder and Doggett went to find this man, Dr. Parenti. They found him,
as well as a series of jars containing unsuccessful fetuses, which he
insisted were being studied to learn how to avoid their birth defects.

Act the end of act one, Scully took some of the medicine Liz
provided, and Liz left the scene with Duffy Haskell, who you may also
remember from Via Negativa as the man who manipulated Scully into
getting an ultrasound done at Zeus Genetics.

In act two, Billy Miles paid Dr. Parenti a visit. When Mulder and
Doggett arrived, Mulder noticed the door handle had been broken.
Doggett found Parenti’s head in one of the fetus jars, while Mulder
found Billy Miles. Billy attacked Mulder, throwing him through a glass
pane. Doggett shot him twice, but he kept advancing. Doggett hid in
the office for a moment, and when he came back out, Miles was gone.

After returning to Scully’s apartment, Scully treated Mulder’s
wounds. Liz came in while Scully, Mulder and Doggett were talking,
and she moved to the back of the home where she called Duffy Haskell
asking for help. Before she could do more, Billy Miles killed Haskell.

In act three, Doggett arrived at the scene of Haskell’s murder. The
facility was a human cloning lab, and the facility had records of
agent Scully. Mulder arrived shortly, and Skinner took him outside to
ask questions about the paternity of Scully’s child. Mulder didn’t
have the answers, so they phoned Scully to find out from her. Before
she could answer their questions, she hung up on them and moved toward
her bathroom, where she found Liz switching her medication.

Scully then went to her new OBGYN to get checked out. Dr. Speake
assured her all was fine, and that the pills were just vitamin
supplements. Margaret Scully arrived at the hospital to apologize to
Scully for bringing Liz into her home.

Skinner also came to the hospital, to find Mulder and tell him to come
listen to Liz. Mulder did, and Liz told Skinner, Doggett, and Mulder
that she had worked at the cloning lab, working on cloning human
babies using alien DNA. The babies didn’t live long, but they lived
long enough for the doctors to harvest the stem cells for use in
research she wasn’t involved in, and didn’t know any more about.

After Liz told her story, agent Crane arrived to say that Billy Miles
wanted to turn himself in, and was waiting at Parenti’s clinic.
Doggett and a team of well-armed and well-armoured FBI agents to find
Miles, who wasn’t there. Doggett phoned Mulder to warn him something
was wrong.

Mulder was helping Scully pack to take her someplace they could trust
the doctors when Doggett’s phone call came in. The power went out
while he was on the phone, and he and Scully started to run for it.
Miles chased them out onto the street. Mulder’s car had been pinned
between two other cars, and they couldn’t escape. Then another car,
driven by Krycek, arrived on the scene and ran over Billy Miles.
Krycek told Mulder and Scully to get in before Miles came back. When
Miles started to stand up again, Mulder and Scully got out of their
car and into Krycek’s.

The fourth act began with Krycek, Doggett, Skinner, Mulder, and Scully
all in the FBI headquarters. Krycek told them that Billy was one of
many alien human hybrids who wanted to kill Scully’s baby because they
feared it. It could be more than human, and possibly strong enough to
destroy them. Through this speech, Doggett continually reminded the
others that Krycek had attempted to kill several of them, Doggett
included, and that they couldn’t trust him. Mulder seemed to believe
him, though, and they started to get Scully out safely. They didn’t
trust Krycek enough to bring him with them down the elevator, though.
Billy Miles showed up during their escape, and they split up. Skinner
and Mulder lured Miles onto the roof, where Mulder pushed him over the
side into a garbage truck provided by Agent Crane. Reyes and Scully
left in Reyes’ car, and Doggett and Krycek were left together in the

In the final shot of the episode, the back of Agent Crane’s neck is
revealed to the camera. He, like Billy Miles and Doggett’s CIA
“friend,” has the ridges on his neck indicating that he is not
entirely human.


I just have a few reminders to the audience, based entirely on
speculation. (I try to avoid spoilers when I can.)

  • Krycek has never been completely honest in any of his appearances
    to date.
  • Krycek wanted Scully’s baby dead a few weeks ago.
  • We haven’t seen the back of Mulder’s neck since his miraculous
    recovery. We haven’t seen him shed his skin either, though.
  • Dr. Speake didn’t try very hard to save the man’s life when she
    was first introduced in Empedocles.
  • Krycek still has the Palm Pilot of Death to use against
  • Billy Miles had the chance to kill Mulder while Doggett was in the
    office, but didn’t. In fact, Mulder was the only person who wasn’t
    immediately killed when attacked by Miles.

High Point

The high point in this episode for me was the reintroduction of
Krycek. How did he know where and when to appear? Where did he get
this information? Has he known all of this since reading the digital
tape in the first half of season three, or did he learn it when he was
working directly with the syndicate later? Did he learn it after
that? Krycek is just a great enigmatic character; full of
information, but never trustworthy.

Low Point

It’s really hard to find a low point, actually. If forced to choose,
I’d say the introductory teaser, with the philsophical voice-over. As
nice as that voice-over was, it doesn’t seem to have advacned the plot
any. Since this episode was supposed to be a single, two-hour season
finale that was later divided up, I’ll try not to be too harsh, since
the rest of the currently irrelevant philosophizing might become
relevant next week.

The Review

In terms of originality, this episode has its moments.
It seemed very similar to plots in the second season, with the alien
bounty hunter killing various doctors. I give the originality 3 out
of 6.

The effects, on the other hand, were very well done. The
decapitations were believable, as was Mulder’s trip through glass,
Miles’ bullet wounds, and Krycek’s hit and run. Due to the volume and
quality of the effects acheived under the television budget and time
constraints, I give the effects 6 out of 6.

The story was also excellent this week. It is tying
together much of what we’ve seen this season, and starting to wrap it
all together. It was well paced, and allowed for some great character
interaction between the leading characters. The scene discussing the
FBI pool about the paternity of Scully’s baby was excellent. I give
the story 5 out of 6.

The acting was well done this week as well. The lead
characters did their typical great jobs, and most of the supporting
cast did well, too. I’m not thrilled with Denise Crosby’s
performance, but she’s had so little to do so far that it’s difficult
to really judge. Zachary Ansley did another great job as Billy Miles,
especially considering that character has had three separate
personalities over the years. (In Pilot, he was Billy Miles the
vegetable and alien hit man. In Requiem, he was the town
deputy, and since DeadAlive he’s been and rather mobile and
articulate alien hit man.) I give the acting 5 out of 6.

In terms of emotional response, I was hooked from the
moment Liz switched Scully’s pills. Chris Carter knows how to write
an episode that pulls me in. I was feeling anxiety and suspence for
the entire episode. This is worth 5 out of 6.

The production was at its typical high this week. Kim
Manners did an excellent job with keeping up the pace of the episode,
using a rapid series of closeups in the exposition scenes to maintain
the high paced feel even in the low action scenes. I give the
production 5 out of 6.

Overall, this was a great episode. My only real
complaint is the lack of originality in the storyline. I give it 5
out of 6 overall.

In total, Essence received 34 out of 42.

Next Week

Next week, on May 20, is part two of this two part season finale, titled Existance.

2 replies on “The X-Files – “Essence””

  1. The Rather Timely of Bily Miles
    Help me out here. No one – not Moulder, not Doggett, not Krycek, etc – knew Bily would show up in the parking garage. Yet somehow Agent Crane knew not only to bring a dump truck to the building, but exactly where to park it. How on earth could that have happened? No more than a couple of minutes passed between when they found out Bily was in the building and when they pushed him off the roof. Are we supposed to believe that it was enough time for them to contact Agent Crane, for Crane to the find a dump truck, and then have it driven to the exact right spot on street? Or am I missing something here?

  2. Crane and Billy
    in the final shot of the episode, we see that Agent Crane has the same marks on his neck that Billy Miles has had since DeadAlive. I assume that Crane (at least) is conspiring with Miles. He could have received work from Miles as to what was going to happe, but that’s not enough. I also suspect Krycek is working with him, setting this up so that they have someone on hand who has gained Scully’s trust when the baby is born.

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