U.S. Naval Base, Camp Delta - Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
That's where everything starts in this issue. Someone has escaped the complex and guards are closing in on the escapee. The man repeats to himself the coordinates that will get him to freedom, but he has to go into an area that's riddled with landmines. Is not too long until he steps on one; the telltale click before the explosion reveals his location to his captors.
The man continues on his way despite the explosion, and reaches the beach, but he's crossed over to Cuban territory. A Spanish order to stop is heard, and the man turns to them... It's CSM, and he asks them for a light. He's about to get one. The men, covered in hazmat suits, wield torch guns that they aim and fire at him. I hope he got his cig lit.
Cut to Mulder and Caroline Ross - yes, the woman we saw shoot herself at the fair - chatting it up in a dark room. She's telling him the story of her encounter with them. Mulder doesn't buy her tale; he knows that she's not the real Caroline, but his outburst is held by a shackle on his ankle. The woman is regretful of the burden she's putting on him but even so, Mulder doesn't believe in her intentions. The woman proceeds to set the stage for her suicide, probably just like her real self did it back in the day. That's when we hear the tell tale sound of the stiletto hit her and she starts to dissolve in an all too familiar green puddle. Gibson has taken care of her.
Gibson's using these encounters with clones of the significant people of Mulder's past to get his attention, to gain his trust, to show him what he's discovered. Things that no one knows. Things that only Gibson can hear. His powers have evolved, to the point that he even dares to use them to telekinetically threaten Mulder. He's vindictive, scorned by what they've done to him, and by his argument Mulder senses that the man can now see into the future, or at least predict what will happen. Gibson doesn't understand the damage he's doing to Mulder, even though they both thought they were friends, and it seems like the former chess wizard is not quite all there. He leaves Mulder in his cell, with a few replications of the Syndicate's members. "Survival is the ultimate ideology," he hears from the Well-Manicured man.
Cut to Washington, where a version of CSM sits in front of the river and Scully, as he waxes poetic about Gibson's nature and how exceptional he is. How he was always much more than just a boy. Scully doesn't fall for it; the boy was used by the Syndicate, relentlessly. She's sure he's a friend. But CSM questions the nature of this friendship; the boy was left to his own devices while Mulder and Scully went off to live their lives. For him, self preservation has played a big part into what Gibson has become.
Scully continues to call him out; she's aware that he's a clone and not the original CSM. He won't go into an argument about his role in Mulder's life, and even hints that time is running out. Scully doesn't believe him, but that's what has always been the problem with her, or that's at least what he remembers of her.
The deal that the old Syndicate tried to strike with the alien forces ensured their endurance, that they'd be immortal. But even when the Syndicate seems destroyed, he points out that life is just a cycle bound to start all over again.
Later that night, they drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. An Anxious Scully is at the wheel, demanding he tells her where they're going. But instead, he now waxes poetic about the life and nature of an octopus. How they act on instinct, encoded evolution that allows them to survive. Such are the encoded memories they share or the directions one of his clones used to exit Guantanamo. That's when his time runs out and he dissolves into a puddle on Scully's front passenger seat. Before the acid completely destroys everything, she snags an envelope from him with immigration papers and plane tickets for her to travel to Guantanamo, Cuba.
Back with Mulder, a clone of CSM gets to his cell, urging him to follow him. They don't have much time, and the guy needs a cigarette. Somewhere in the complex, Gibson follows their movements.
Even though this recap seems shorter than my usual entries, I find that "Elders" Part III is one of the most dense issues I've read so far. And definitely not in a bad way.
I'm curious about Gibson's agenda. Why is he now leading this army of clones? What were the steps that put him in this position? Has he become the manager for the aliens, given his DNA? Is this the consequence of having come to an agreement with the alien race? And does the problem go much more beyond that?
Is it a problem at all?
He seems to still cling to an idea of the greater good, caring for Mulder's best interests, but just like CSM said and Gibson put so passionately... there were years in which the boy was left to his own devices, where he was alone, figuring out his life without protectors like Mulder and Scully that had fiercely vowed to pull him away from the claws of those trying to benefit from his abilities. Is he a friend or a foe?
The creative team is on point, as always. My favorite cover continues to be the Retailer Incentive one, created by Matthew Dow Smith.
The reminder as usual is to get your hands on these issues at your local comic book store or via Comixology. You can also let the team at IDW Publishing know your thoughts on the season! Just email them with the subject line "Okay to Print" if you wish to be included in the publication to