is pregnant, despite having supposedly been rendered barren.
Mulder has been abducted. Special Agent John Doggett is assigned
to the X-Files to help track Mulder down...
is the season in which David Duchovny made his escape from
The X-Files, reducing his number of appearances to
12 out of the 21 episodes before finally resigning from the
show altogether. It is a bit annoying that the first six of
these appearances are little more than bit parts or practically
non-speaking roles, which is a waste not only of the actor's
talent but also of the cost of hiring him.
although this season is the weakest since Season Four, the
reason for that is not, I feel, the lack of Mulder.
his absence provides opportunities for some interesting new
character developments. Scully (Gillian Anderson), having
witnessed so many bizarre incidents over the last seven years,
actually becomes the believer of the team, with her new partner
Doggett (Robert Patrick) as the no-nonsense sceptic. This
is not so out of character as it might at first appear. In
the third episode, Patience, Scully explains that she
owes it to Mulder to try and fill his shoes, and her theories
usually have some scientific basis to them. In any case, the
only reason that Scully continued to play the sceptic for
so many years was because Mulder himself asked her to (in
the movie), in order to balance his undisciplined leaps of
is none of the trademark X-Files sexual tension between
Scully and Doggett, except perhaps a little jealousy on the
part of Doggett following Mulder's return. But then, the Mulder/Scully
"will they, won't they?" chemistry had proven notoriously
difficult to sustain over seven years, because in real life
such an attraction would either have cooled off or been consummated
by now. On that note, the ambiguity of Mulder and Scully's
relationship is potentially resolved at the end of this season.
character dynamics also include some extreme hostility between
Mulder and Doggett. There's also a lot of mixing and matching
of cast members - for instance, Via Negativa brings
Doggett and Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) to
the fore, while Vienen is a Doggett and Mulder episode.
It's quite exciting not knowing who will be the major players
in each successive episode. This factor comes to the fore
during the gradual integration into the show of Agent Monica
Reyes (Annabeth Gish), whose theories make even Mulder sceptical
(in Empedocles)! The pairing of Doggett and Reyes at
the very end of the season offered a potential new lease of
life for the show, although we now know that this was to be
short-lived, as Season Eight is now confirmed as the penultimate
series of The X-Files.
must be said that this season does not get off to a good start.
Paranormal elements are few and far between in the opening
two-parter Within and Without, the plot of which
grinds virtually to a standstill in favour of extended depictions
of Scully's misery.
of the subsequent episodes are toe-curlingly bad, though several,
including Invocation, Via Negativa, Salvage
and Badlaa, are either muddled or just not very interesting.
Via Negativa, despite some weird David Lynch style
dream sequences, is marred by a naff ending. Salvage,
which features a man infected by a metallic "virus", fails
to explain how this man manages not to contaminate anybody
else. The powers of the Indian mystic in Badlaa don't
really speak to any of society's - or therefore the audience's
- innate fears.
contrast, the claustrophobic Medusa makes effective
use of creepy subway tunnels and a biological horror similar
to that of the Season One episode Darkness Falls. Both
Per Manum and the concluding two-parter Essence/Existence
play upon Scully's fear of bearing an alien child, and thus
every parent's fear of birth defects as well as wider concerns
about genetic engineering.
the weakness of the opening two-parter, it is remarkable that
the rest of this season's "mythology" episodes, including
the two-part This is Not Happening/DeadAlive, its follow-up
Three Words and the spectacular Vienen, are
as strong as they are. Essence and Existence,
despite their rather tacky allusions to the Nativity, represent
what is probably the most diligently pre-planned season finale
in the show's entire history, the culmination of plot developments
from throughout the previous year.
highlights include the fairly silly but nevertheless scary
and exciting Roadrunners. Later on, Redrum is
an effective homage to Memento, with a Twilight
Zone-style "moral" at the end. The third to last episode,
Alone, brings some much needed light relief, in the
shape of Leila Harrison (Jolie Jenkins). This enthusiastic
young agent, all too eager to follow in the footsteps of Agent
Scully (who is away on maternity leave), makes a splendid
foil for the deadpan Doggett.
the notable exception of Alone, this season is relatively
low on humour, especially compared to the offbeat excesses
of recent years. However, the production team does have some
fun playing upon the familiarity of Robert Patrick's most
famous role as the T1000 in Terminator 2. In Roadrunners,
he reprises his "Have you seen this boy?" line, only this
time he's looking for Scully. In both Salvage and Essence,
Agent Doggett finds himself up against unstoppable cyborg
Eight is a real mixed bag. But, while it has its low points,
its highlights are very good indeed. It is a shame, though,
that Fox still refuses to release episodes that were produced
for widescreen TV in that format on VHS - hopefully this situation
will be rectified when the widescreen seasons of The X-Files
(the sixth onwards) eventually make it on to DVD.
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