“Conduit” is another fantastic episode, and one that I think was important for establishing some really central themes to the show as a whole. Less horror and more Twin-Peaks-meets-alien-abduction, it was brilliant how they managed to make the whole catalyst for the episode — teenager, Ruby, being abducted from a campground — almost a background story to the developing arch of Mulder searching for his missing sister, Samantha.
The opening scene, ending with the distraught mother screaming Ruby’s name into the night sky, was effectively chilling especially considering its simplicity. The fact that we never really know what happened to Ruby is not only key for the mystery of the episode, but again, mirroring Mulder’s own situation with his sister. Was Ruby indeed abducted by aliens, as her symptoms of prolonged weightlessness would imply? Did she run off with someone, or disappear on her own? We’ll never know for sure.
We saw a bit more of Scully being in Mulder’s corner, with the episode opening up with the Division Chief questioning Scully about his ability to be objective considering the similarities in the two cases and her not only defending his ability but making sure they got the OK to examine the case to begin with.
The whole episode was heartbreaking, really. Seeing Mulder gaze longingly at the family photos in the Morris home. His desperation to solve the case, a combination of him wanting to save them from the pain he’s endured and to find some answers for himself. His explanation to Scully — “You know when I was a kid, I had this ritual. I closed my eyes before I walked into my room, ’cause I thought that one day when I opened them my sister would be there. Just lying in bed, like nothing ever happened. You know I’m still walking into that room, everyday of my life.” So much of Mulder as a character is summed up right there.
And THE ENDING. Again, we’re left with this black hole, this mystery. Ruby simply says that “they told me not to say”, but we never find out for certain who that is, and Mulder in particular has an obviously tough time not pushing for more, not becoming more frustrated when Mrs. Morris expresses a desire to let Ruby simply move on and forget this experience. He’s crushed at getting so close to the truth and having it kept from him. And his final scene — weeping in a church over his sister’s photograph as we hear dialogue from his hypnotic regression tapes that Scully is listening to — is monumental.
MULDER: Because of the voice.
DR. HEITZ WERBER: The voice?
MULDER: The voice in my head.
DR. HEITZ WERBER: What’s it telling you?
MULDER: Not to be afraid. It’s telling me no harm will come to her, and that one day she’ll return.
DR. HEITZ WERBER: Do you believe the voice?
MULDER: I want to believe.
It’s yet another example of how Carter intentionally flipped the traditional gender roles on their head for this show. Awesome.
Rating: 8/10 | Director: Daniel Sackheim | Writer: Chris Carter, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon | Music: Mark Snow | Cinematography: John S. Bartley | Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Carrie Snodgress, Joel Palmer, Shelley Owens, Michael Cavanaugh