“The X-Files” (1998), also known as “The X-Files: Fight the Future,” is bookended by the season 5 finale and the inception of season 6. Although it can be seen as a continuation of the series with recurring characters from the series making their appearances, the 1998 film is a standalone film that has its singular characteristics in appealing to viewers despite not at all being acquainted with the series. The film takes place following the FBI’s removal of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from the X-Files.

The X-Files (1998) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

The story opens with two unresolved cases from two distinct Eras: one from 35,000 BC and the other from the present day (i.e., 1998).

In 35,000 BC, in what will later become North Texas, two men are sprinting uphill in the snow, possibly in search of something. They get inside a cave where an extraterrestrial creature attacks them. One dies almost instantly, and the other is infected by a viscous black substance oozing out of the alien’s body.

Cut to 1998, in Blackwood County, North Texas. A young boy named Stevie falls down the pit while playing with his friends and unearths the prehistoric cave again. He finds a skull with a huge dent at its posterior. Suddenly, a puddle of the black viscous substance creeps from underneath Stevie, and the infection moves upwards toward his head. His eyes turn black in the exact same manner as the caveman’s.

Two fire engines from the County Fire Department arrive at the scene. However, when two firefighters venture into the pit, their captain loses contact with his dispatched firefighters. Helmed by FEMA scientist Dr. Ben Bronschweig, a containment team in hazmat suits flies down from Dallas in a medevac chopper, extricates the infected body of Stevie, loads it into a bubble litter, and flies away. As the chopper departs, the area is further cordoned off by at least half a dozen suspiciously unlabelled, white Freightliner trucks. Bronschweig calls his higher-up and asks him to prepare for the unforeseeable.

Federal Building, Dallas, Texas – One Week Later

Special Agent in Charge Darius Michaud alights from a helicopter to the roof of the Federal Building, where many FBI agents are already deployed. One of them reports that the building has been evacuated, but despite their intense scouring, no explosives could be detected. Michaud asks them to begin the search again. Michaud spots a lone FBI agent on the top of another high-rise building right across the street.

Why is Scully searching for the bomb in a different building?

The lone agent is, in fact, Special Agent Dana Scully, who speaks on the phone with her partner, Fox Mulder. Scully finds it pointless to look for the bomb at this building because of Mulder’s hunch, especially when the threat was called in at the Federal Building and is adequately being covered by the FBI. Mulder sneaks up on her to practically demonstrate what he means here—random acts of unpredictability.

Scully understands that Mulder is simply bored by the mundane task of finding bombs, so far removed from his inclinations. She warns him that his unconventional thinking of trying to find what does not meet the eyes might be detrimental to others around, especially in a case like this, which relies upon immediate action on the basis of the information available. His conviction and hunches can only work in consonant with the X-Files, which have been closed, and it is only sensible that they follow the procedures and protocols laid down by the FBI.

Inside the building, Mulder goes to grab soft drinks for both of them. He brushes past a man on his way to the room with the drinks vending machine. Once inside, Mulder realizes that the vending machine is not connected to electricity and, more menacingly, he has been locked by someone with a bomb in the drinks dispenser. Mulder contacts Scully and tells her about the bomb, but she tries to shove it aside as a joke. Scully continues thinking of it as a prank even when Mulder asks her to evacuate the building with 14 minutes left. However, when Scully notices that the keyhole to the vending room has been soldered over, she realizes that Mulder is indeed in danger. Scully orders the security personnel of the building to evacuate the building and have the fire department block off a one-mile radius around the building.

A still from “The X Files” (1998)

Michaud arrives after being alerted by Scully and rescues Mulder from the locked room by cutting the door open. Michaud orders everyone to leave, even as Mulder shows the intention to stay by his side as he defuses the bomb. However, Mulder has no other option than to leave with Scully, as Michaud curtly asks him to follow the order and back off. As they bolt out of the building, it is Mulder’s hunch again that tells him that something is wrong.

He turns back and tries to head to the building again before being intercepted by Scully. SAC Michaud, who is inside the vending room with the bomb, does little to defuse it and waits idly, looking at it. As the ticker reaches closer to the detonating time, he hunkers down and grabs his face. As Mulder and Scully hurriedly steer away from the building in a car, the bomb detonates, killing Michaud and destroying the entire building. Even the car that Mulder and Scully occupy is considerably damaged due to being in close proximity to the building.

FBI Headquarters, Washington, D.C.  – Office of Professional Review

At the headquarters, Scully is seen attending an OPR hearing presided over by Assistant Director Jana Cassidy. AD Cassidy states that the Attorney General’s office holds the FBI responsible for the catastrophic destruction of public property and loss of life due to terrorism. The pressure from the Attorney General compels them to release the true account of what conspired at the site. As Cassidy starts listing out the casualties of the bomb explosion, as has been reported by the FBI, Mulder enters late for the hearing.

SAC Michaud’s death was hitherto known to all, but what comes as a shock to Scully and Mulder is the inclusion of three firefighters from Dallas and a young boy. Mulder, who was told at the site that the building had been successfully evacuated, shows his disbelief at the adjunct to the list of deaths that was supposed to record only one death, even not that. However, Mulder is asked to step outside by Cassidy on account of being late and until Scully is done charting out her version of the facts.

Outside the room, Assistant Director Walter Skinner tells Mulder that Scully is defending him. Mulder tells Skinner that it is he who is to be blamed as he breached the protocol. Scully’s hearing ends for the day. She goes to Mulder to tell him that she will be summoned again by the OPR in two days for reassignment. Scully tells Mulder that her decision to part ways with a career in the field of medicine was driven by the larger aim of bringing about a pathbreaking change through her association with the FBI.

She was clubbed with Mulder so that she could debunk his investigations into the paranormal. But now, after having experienced the things that she has, getting transferred to a field office would be uninspiring work for her. Her disappointment alludes to her possibility of quitting the FBI. Before Mulder is summoned into the OPR room, Scully asks Mulder to ask himself if he, too, feels the same way about this new change.

Later, Mulder gets sloshed at Casey’s Bar and Grill and feels that he is on the radar of an old man because the latter is closely observing him. The man vanishes from the bar for a brief moment, but as Mulder goes to a back alley to urinate, he reappears. The old man introduces himself to Mulder as Doctor Alvin Kurtzweil, a close friend of Mulder’s father and an OB-GYN.

Kurtzweil repeats in clear detail what Mulder’s hunch originally told him, albeit ambiguously: Michaud sent everyone outside because he was going to do nothing about the bomb and that the other dead bodies found were not casualties of the bomb explosion but were already dead bodies even before the bomb went off. The bomb is an inner job, according to Kurtzweil, to hide something unpredictable.

Furthermore, he asks Mulder to consider what the possible reason could be for the bomb blowing off a building right across the Federal Building and not the Federal Building, even when the call came in for the bomb’s presence in the latter. Kurtzweil explains that it is because the Federal Agency Management Agency or FEMA had a provisional medical quarantine in that building. The bodies were kept in the quarantine. Mulder discounts the old man’s claims right off the bat, but something strikes him, and he ends up in Scully’s apartment in the middle of the night and asks her to accompany him.

North Texas

A still from “The X Files” (1998)

At the cave site, large white tents have been erected around the pit to house Dr. Bronschweig and his team. A scientifically advanced plumbing structure has been set up to extract the black oil from the pit using pipes and fill them into the white tanker trunks that we have already seen. Two helicopters arrive at night, bringing The Cigarette Smoking Man.

The Cigarette Smoking Man, in a protective overall, is led by Dr. Bronschweig as they go down the pit to inspect a victim housed in a refrigerated bubble litter. The victim is not dead. However, according to the doctor, it is impossible for him to recover as an alien body is growing inside him. The waxy, translucent body of the man is actually due to the fact that the organism inside him is using the host’s life energy, slowly digesting his bones and tissues. The controlled temperature just adds to the slowing down of the process but amounts to nothing in terms of recovery of the man. The doctor asks The Cigarette Smoking Man if the wisest move would be to burn the body, but The Cigarette Smoking Man asks him to try their vaccine first and resort to burning eventually if it does not produce the desired results.

Montgomery County, Maryland, Bethesda Naval Hospital – 4:04 AM

Mulder and Scully sneak into the morgue, where the bodies of the firefighters and Stevie are kept. The autopsy has hamfistedly attributed the death of one of the firefighters to concussive organ failure due to exposure to source and flying debris. However, Mulder is not ready to agree, especially after witnessing his translucent body, which has grown a gluey coating. Scully notices that the body is missing a Y-incision, which means no autopsy has been performed, and the reported cause of death is a sham. They wheel away the body surreptitiously from the morgue so that Scully can perform an autopsy on it. Mulder says that this might be a case of a cover-up of something unpredictable.

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., 4:50 AM

Mulder rushes to pick up Kurtzweil but finds several police officers roaming outside his apartment building. As Mulder enters his apartment, he figures out the long entangling net that has been spread to further the cover-up. The police have been tipped falsely about Kurtzweil’s purportedly secret business in child pornography. Thankfully, Kurtzweil has run away.

Kurtzweil has noticed Mulder arriving and gestures to him to meet him behind the building. Kurtzweil tells Mulder that an enormously powerful body like FEMA – having the power to suspend constitutional government upon declaration of a national emergency – cannot just be out there in Texas, extensively trying to manage a small viral outbreak. What is being hidden from them is no ordinary virus. It is the systematic release of an indiscriminate organism for which there is or will be no cure. The doctor urges Mulder to go back to Dallas and dig for the truth before it is too late.

Dallas, Texas, FBI Field Office, 11:21 AM

Mulder and Scully arrive at the FBI field office in Dallas, looking for anything left untouched by FEMA. The officer in charge tells them that some bone fragments remain. Scully is allowed to look at them. Scully tells Mulder that she had a better look at the samples that she took from the fireman. The infection-causing organism in the men’s dead bodies contained a protein coat that was not previously seen anywhere else. Whatever reaction happened to the men happened really quickly.

Blackwood County

Dr. Bronschweig asks his team to ensure that the temperature of the bubble litter containing the body remains steady, minus two degrees Celsius, throughout its transfer after he has administered the vaccine. The team is ready to shift from Blackwood County after the inoculation process. As Bronschweig proceeds towards the body, he finds that the body has been prised open from the inside, and the gestating organism is gone. Bronschweig tries to climb up the pit but spots the organism looking at him. As he prepares the vaccine, he loses sight of the creature, but it reappears. The creature attacks him and badly injures him. Despite that, he manages to push the vaccine into it. As he desperately calls for help, his colleagues close the door to the pit from above and let Bronschweig be buried alive with the alien creature.

County Of Somerset, England

The Well-Manicured Man gets a call from The Cigarette Smoking Man, informing him of an emergency Syndicate meeting in London.

London, England, 6:47 PM

The Well-Manicured Man is told that the virus has mutated into an extra-terrestrial biological entity. What the Syndicate had earlier believed to be a virus capable of biological terror has now shown its true colors by turning its human host into nothing but digestives for the creation of an alien race. Through its spontaneous repopulation, it is clear that this can no longer serve by simply being a weapon to colonize. Well-Manicured Man is informed of the complications that have arisen– that Mulder has reached the morgue and got access to the bodies and that he is being tipped by Kurtzweil. Well-Manicured Man orders that both Mulder and Kurtzweil should be felled.

North Texas

What does Mulder and Scully find at the Blackwood County site?

The X Files (1998) Movie Ending Explained
A still from “The X Files” (1998)

Mulder and Scully arrive at Blackwood County, where the bone samples were originally found, but find no evidence of any archaeological or dig site. Scully believes that the bone fossils were infected by the same virus that infected the fireman at the morgue. Mulder notices that a new playground has crept up on a lush green turf, a scene quite unnatural for a dry desert valley. Stevie’s friends arrive on new bicycles, but they refuse to answer any of Mulder’s questions. When Mulder displays his badge, the boys show him the direction in which Dr. Bronschweig’s team is bound.

Scully and Mulder mull over the possible reason behind the deployment of unmarked tanker trucks for the containment of a viral outbreak. They drive across the desert valley looking for the tanker trucks but find nothing and reach a dead end. In an argument, Mulder finally reveals that the virus may be extra-terrestrial. As they argue, the sound of an approaching train intercepts their argument, and both of them notice a trail of tankers attached to the train. They start following the train and reach a hilltop. A surreal view arrests their vision from the hilltop: two luminous white domes take center stage in a vast cornfield.

They climb down the hill and make a beeline for the dome-like structures cutting across the cornfield. They enter one of the domes surreptitiously, finding it unlocked. Inside the dome, the temperature is regulated to be much lower than outside. There is no human in sight, and the ceilings and floors are made of metal grates. Mulder tries to pay attention to the low humming sound, possibly of high-voltage electricity, coming from beneath.

Suddenly, the metal traps at the ceiling open, and sniffing that something is about to go horribly wrong, Mulder orders Scully to run. A swarm of bees attacks them, and the agents somehow save themselves from the attack. It is clear the bees that are being harbored are infected with the unknown virus. The ordeal does not end here for the agents as two black helicopters appear out of nowhere and give them a run for life across the landscape. The helicopters fly away after some time, and the two hurriedly leave as they have to reach Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C.

Scully produces the bone fragments that were procured from the bomb site in Dallas at her OPR hearing. Scully also sheds light on the possibility of Michaud’s involvement in the blast. As Scully is speaking, we notice one lone bee on her shoulder that has probably attached itself to her. Meanwhile, Mulder goes to meet Kurtzweil and tells him about what he encountered in Texas. He tells him of the secretive Texas experiment involving transgenic crops and bees. An argument breaks out between Mulder and Kurtzweil. Mulder notices a man casually hanging around but keeping close tabs on him.

Scully arrives at Mulder’s place to tell him that she is being transferred immediately to Salt Lake City, Utah. Mulder is taken aback and tells Scully she cannot leave midway and that he needs her to be on his side investigating the X-Files. Scully replies that she has always held him back as she was originally assigned to debunk his work. Scully leaves, but Mulder holds her back and passionately proclaims that she, in fact, saved him through her strict rationalism. The two are about to kiss, but the bee hiding in Scully’s coat stings her, and she falls. Mulder rushes back to his apartment and calls the FBI.

The paramedics arrive and load Scully into the ambulance as Mulder frantically tells them about the possibility of a virus infecting her. Mulder keeps asking them about the name of the hospital to which Scully is being taken, but the paramedics pretend to have heard nothing. Mulder asks the same question to the driver of the ambulance but senses something is off as he only stares at him. Within seconds, the driver shoots Mulder through the glass window and drives away with Scully. The ambulance that was originally sent for Scully arrives and picks up the injured Mulder.

Mulder wakes up in a hospital bed and finds himself surrounded by The Lone Gunmen. They tell him that his 911 call was possibly intercepted and show him the honeybee that stung Scully. AD Skinner arrives and asks him to stay put. Mulder does not listen to him and leaves the room wearing Byers’ clothes as Byers takes his place on the bed. The guard stationed outside Mulder’s room by the Syndicate fails to notice this trickery. Mulder runs away to meet Kurtzweil.

Who gives Mulder the vaccine to save Scully?

Before Mulder can meet Kurtzweil at their usual place—the back alley of the bar—the Well-Manicured Man reaches Kurtzweil. By the time Mulder arrives, Kurtzweil is dead and being loaded into the trunk of his car. Mulder is summoned to join him in his car. The Well-Manicured Man hands Mulder a vaccine that can counter the virus Scully is infected with. However, it must be administered within 96 hours. He also slips in the geographical coordinates of Scully’s current location.

The X Files (1998) Movie Ending Explained
A still from “The X Files” (1998)

The Syndicate member tells him that this virus was the original inhabitant of Earth. Unlike the Ebola virus and AIDS, which are newly mutated viruses, the secret virus predates the dinosaurs. Before the Dallas incident, the Syndicate underestimated the virus’ power, believing that it would simply make humans a slave race. However, the tables turned when the virus started gestating using human bodies. The Syndicate has been working with alien colonists, facilitating programmes that give them access to the virus so that they can develop a cure.

The Well-Manicured Man tells Mulder that Mulder’s father wanted Mulder to uncover the truth, stop the project, and fight the future. He reveals that he was sent to kill both Kurtzweil and Mulder. However, in a sudden turn of events, the man kills his driver and blows himself off by the bomb placed in his car after asking Mulder to leave the car. With little time left, Mulder leaves looking for Scully.

Wilkes’ Land, Antarctica, 48 Hours Later

The scene opens in a vast white landscape as a noisy quad vehicle pierces through the serene, spotless terrains. When the fuel level of the vehicle hits the pan, Mulder steps out of it and starts walking to reach his destination which must be around somewhere. Mulder starts running towards the white dome-like structures that he spots but falls into a pit midway. Mulder finds a vent that opens into an enormously complex and gigantic facility buried under the snow. However, traversing inside the facility is exceptionally risky as there are open chasms that are seemingly bottomless. In hopes of finding Scully, Mulder shines his torch on cryopods, where several people have been suspended in an ice cube state. Mulder breaks the cryopod, storing Scully. He administers the vaccine given to him by the Well-Manicured Man.

On the other hand, the Cigarette-Smoking Man gets a whiff of Mulder’s arrival, and the agents stationed at the facility are notified of the trespassing. After the vaccine is injected into Scully’s body, the cord attached to her mouth becomes shriveled. The vaccine administered to Scully disrupts the entire chain of cryopods. The Syndicate employees notice that there is a contamination in the system, and the Cigarette-Smoking Man deduces that Mulder has the vaccine. Mulder helps Scully get out of the pod and carries her to leave the place fast. However, things go haywire as the aliens have gestated due to the temperature rising.

The aliens break free and chase them. The two agents somehow manage to come back to the surface through the opening. They start running as soon as the ground starts shaking and the structure starts dismantling. They run as large crevices develop behind them. After a point, Skully passes out, and Mulder notices the gargantuan spaceship that emerges from the crevices, flies away, and disappears in the distance.

Washington, D.C.

Why does Cassidy discount Scully’s evidence?

Scully appears for another OPR hearing. Cassidy tells her that the pieces of evidence provided by Scully lack substance and defy belief. She stresses that bees and corn crops do not come under domestic terrorism. As Cassidy continues to tell Scully that her reports do not show any organization with an attributable motive, the parallel editing shows unnamed tanker trucks being labeled and carried away to destroy evidence and the corn fields being destroyed by fire.

As Cassidy says that the FBI requires hard evidence to pursue the investigation into Scully’s facts, Scully walks over to her and produces the vial with the honeybee that stung her. Scully’s parting words, “I don’t believe the FBI currently has an investigative unit qualified to pursue the evidence in hand,” ring through the room.

Mulder reads the newspaper and finds that the entire incident in Blackwood County is being covered up by a shoddy narrative of an isolated incident of the Hantavirus outbreak. Frustrated by this cycle of burying the truth, Mulder now feels Scully was right in wanting to quit. He asks her to leave and be a doctor, as it would be unbearable for him to watch her die due to his personal cause. Scully reminds him that the virus has a possible cure, and that saved her. The scene ends as Scully says, “..if I quit now, they win”.

The X-Files (1998) Movie Ending Explained:

Do the X-Files get reopened?

The Cigarette-Smoking Man reaches the North African country to meet someone in a cornfield in Tunisia. Fellow Syndicate member Conrad Strughold comes out from the field and asks him the reason behind his visit. The Cigarette-Smoking Man says that he has information that can only be said in person. This information involves Mulder and possibly his access to the vaccine, which means someone from the Syndicate has been in touch with him. His reinvestigation is a cause of concern for the Syndicate, but Strughold says that one man alone cannot fight the future. The Cigarette-Smoking Man shows him the telegram that he has received that reads, “X-FILES RE-OPENED. STOP. PLEASE ADVISE. STOP.”

Read More: 10 Interesting Psychological Thriller Movies You Can Stream on Hulu Right Now

Trailer:

The X-Files (1998) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
Cast of The X-Files (1998) Movie: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau, Blythe Danner, Armin Mueller-Stahl
The X-Files (1998) Movie Genre: Sci-Fi/Drama | Runtime: 2h 0m
Where to watch The X Files

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