Over the course of nine seasons and 2 feature films, The X-Files transcended its cult status, becoming a phenomenon and cultural touchstone. With a new series on the way, special agent Rick Shingler has accepted the assignment to rewatch the entire series from the beginning and provide detailed reports about his findings. Come with us now, as we explore the mysteries of the complete X-Files. I remember there being something of a pall over the beginning of season eight for many fans of the show. Many felt betrayed by David Duchovny’s decision to scale back his participation on the show. I remember several separate conversations both at work and with friend who felt that our favorite show was a mere shadow of its former glory. Let’s face it. Change is hard. This thing called change is absolutely essential to our growth and evolution as a species on this planet, yet so many people struggle to accept it. Lack of change is stagnation and death. I can’t help but think that Chris Carter knew this to be true. After seven seasons of Mulder pursuing his little green men, there just wasn’t much more to tell of his story. Now, I’m perfectly willing to admit that I am a crazed conspiracy theorist and can only cite my own contrived imagination, but consider this possibility: What if Duchovny’s contract dispute and resultant decision to abandon his status on the X-Files at the end of his seven year contract was a calculated move conspired by Duchovny and Carter to give the fans someone other than the producers of the show to shake a fist at in the face of the oh-so-fearsome change that was necessary to move the show into its next era? During the seventh season, Scully was only just coming into the peak of her character’s arc. Keeping Mulder around at this point in her development could only have served as a hindrance to her. This show has really been about her journey from the very beginning, and now it was her turn to take the lead on the X-Files. S8E1: “Within” (w: Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners)/S8E2: “Without” (w: Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners) In my opinion, series creator Carter rather successfully performed a soft reboot of his own show. Scully’s character had come into its own, and the driving narrative of Mulder’s story had been largely resolved. The skeptic was now a believer. Even Skinner had been forced to confront reality when he stood as eyewitness to Mulder’s abduction by a UFO at the end of last season. Of course, the Lone Gunmen had always been kooky. Mulder’s “disciples” were ready to carry on the work he had dedicated so many years pursuing. The (terrestrial) forces moving against Mulder and his quest had been removed or destroyed. Threats were still lingering, but none of them were aligned solely against Fox Mulder. It was time for a renewal to help refocus those standing on the side of the human race. And, alongside that renewal, it was necessary to bring a little new blood to keep things moving along. Robert Patrick was one of a lengthy list of actors considered to fill the physical void left in Mulder’s absence. I distinguish it as the physical void, because Scully had very much grown into the same role that Mulder had played earlier in the series. She had, in her character development, pushed Mulder into obsolescence. Like Mulder at the beginning of the series, she had seen enough to accept the unexpectedly non-categorical and knew when procedures and regulations needed to be circumvented. Oh, and there is the small matter that she was single-mindedly driven to find someone she loved who had been abducted by aliens, just like Mulder. Agent John Doggett is a different sort of debunker, but his no-nonsense by-the-book NYPD training is hoped by those above his pay grade to serve the same purpose as Scully’s science and medical training. Well, the good news is that the FBI has mandated a full-scale manhunt for Fox Mulder following his abduction at the end of the last season. The bad news is that the manhunt is being directed by the newly-appointed Deputy Director Alvin Kersh. Kersh tells Skinner and Scully that he has appointed an agent named John Doggett to head the investigation. Skinner, who was on the scene when Mulder was taken into a UFO in an Oregon forest, is the first to be questioned by members of the task force. While Scully waits, another agent strikes up a conversation with her about Mulder. When she discovers that the man speaking to her is Agent Doggett, she throws water in his face and storms out of the room. She runs a background check on the agent, learning that he is a former NYPD officer. After a bout of morning sickness, she decides the time has come to tell her mother about her impending grandparenthood. While placing the call, Scully realizes that her phone is tapped and calls a bewildered Doggett to yell her frustrations at him. At this point, she’s really sort of being a dick. It’s all totally understandable, but it is sort of difficult to not feel bad for this agent that was dropped into the middle of the sturm und drang surrounding Mulder, Kersh, and the X-Files. Doggett insists to Scully that he had not ordered her to be put under surveillance. Once she hangs up, she notices a fleeting shadow outside her front door. She storms into the hall, pulls a gun on her landlord (ensuring she’ll never get her security deposit back, let me tell you), and is shocked when he tells her that he just saw Mulder leave the building. While Skinner and the Lone Gunmen are trying to find leads by cross-referencing UFO sightings since Mulder’s disappearance, Skinner learns that someone has used Mulder’s badge to enter the FBI and steal files from the X-Files office. Doggett’s investigation turns up evidence that Mulder’s health had been secretly in decline for the past year or so (related to his involuntary couple’s brain surgery retreat with Cancer Man in “Redux” and “Redux II”). He had even gone so far as to add his own name to the family cemetery plot. Just as the Lone Gunmen mark heavy UFO activity in Arizona, Doggett finds a file slipped under his door. The file directs him to Gibson Praise, the young psychic chess prodigy introduced in the season five closer “The End.” Doggett develops the theory that Mulder may be trying to get to Gibson and directs his task force to Arizona. At the same time, Scully and Skinner arrive in Arizona in an attempt to intercept the ship which took Mulder. Everyone converges on a school for the deaf where Gibson has settled in to hide. Gibson escapes the school through a window, and Doggett chases him out into the desert. When he catches up with him, he is being dragged toward a cliff by Fox Mulder. …At least, it certainly looks like Mulder. Doggett demands that the man in front of him release the boy, which he does. Then he lets himself fall backwards over the cliff. By the time Doggett and his men can work their way down to the base of the cliff, “Mulder” is gone. Scully is quick to realize that they weren’t dealing with Mulder at all, but one of the shape-shifting alien bounty hunters. This one must have been sent to collect Gibson. While Scully secretly searches for Gibson, Doggett calls in a report to Deputy Director Kersh, who is clearly losing patience with his agent. Skinner, who has been listening in like a creeper, lets Doggett know that Kersh is setting him up for a longer fall than the one that Mulder lookalike had earlier. Meanwhile, Scully discovers Gibson hiding out in some sort of bomb shelter in the desert, but his leg had been injured while making his escape. She fashions a splint before leaving him there with his friend so that she can bring Skinner back to help get him out. The bounty hunter has insinuated himself among the FBI agents still at the school, trying to find Gibson himself. He poses as Scully, but then Scully arrives. As if showing up wearing the same dress to a party was embarrassing enough, right? After the bounty hunter gets away (again!), Scully and Skinner retrieve the injured Gibson and Skinner takes him to the hospital where he is placed under guard. One of his friends from the school visits him, but things seem quiet otherwise. When Scully arrives with Doggett to speak with Gibson, they find the boy to be gone from his hospital room. Scully dashes out in pursuit, but Doggett stays behind, where he finds an unconscious and injured Skinner hidden in the ceiling of the room. Scully catches up with Gibson and the bounty hunter disguised as Skinner. When “Skinner” tries to kill her, she fires a shot at the back of his neck, killing him. In something of an echo of the pilot episode’s opening scene, Kersh chooses to assign Doggett to the X-Files division alongside Scully. It seems as if Kersh wants to assign someone to the X-Files that will expose it as a waste of time and resources and John Doggett’s no-nonsense approach could just be the thing to do it. In the meantime, Mulder will just hang out on the UFO and wait for more invasive laser nasal surgery. At least he has what appears to be one of those Chinese automatic semen extraction machines connected to him, so his time isn’t a total loss. It is becoming increasingly clear that the FBI is a hostile environment for a pursuit like the X-Files. Even at the end of last season, Mulder was beginning to see the writing on the wall. The X-Files has long been a pebble in the bureau’s shoe, but by the end of season seven, it was apparent that yet another attempt to shut the odd little division down was well under way. And with this opener, it seems likely that Kersh’s appointment as Deputy Director is at least partially to blame. There was a time when Mulder and Scully were his direct reports, and the contempt he had for them (especially the former) was far from hidden. Now with Mulder gone, Kersh must feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Personally, my favorite part of this two-parter is the relationship arc of Scully and Doggett. The scene where they first meet is among the best moments in the history of the series, and her gradual, grudging, growing respect for this man who holds the fate of her partner in his hands. This was a chance for Chris Carter to push the reset button. Eight years earlier, he had set out to present a multi-layered, complex mythological arc involving a high-level government-aided global conspiracy and the low-level government employee who found himself at the heart of it. A year and a half earlier, that conspiracy was squashed by an unexpected third party of extraterrestrials. The latter part of season six and season seven were spent cleaning up the finer details. When all was said and done, the Syndicate was nothing more than a cabal of humans trying to fight the floodwaters of alien invasion with their pristine Wedgwood teacups. It was really never a matter of stopping the invasion so much as finding a way for a small group to survive and make themselves indispensable to the new masters when they finally decide to settle down. Now that line of defense is down, Mulder has been taken out of the equation, but Scully and Skinner stand ready to carry on the never-ending struggle against the weirdness. But first, we need to get Agent Doggett on board with all this craziness. S8E3: “Patience” (w: Chris Carter/d: Chris Carter) After the heavy mythology arc at the beginning of the season, Carter thought it was time to break it down to a simple little monster of the week story. As if to reassure loyal viewers that this was still the same show they’ve been following all along, he yanked a story straight from the headlines (of Weekly World News) and ran with it. The benefit of a story like this is to get the characters away from Washington and isolated together so that they could undergo a bit of character development. It’s almost like Chris Carter held a miniature team-building seminar between his two leads and decided to film it. Except instead of trust falls, they rescue each other from a rampaging man-bat. Which is probably more fun that trust falls anyway. In rural Idaho (is any of Idaho not rural?) an undertaker and his wife are killed in their farmhouse by some sort of bat-like creature. Scully and Doggett are drawn in when Scully learns that the couple was drained of blood through two holes in their respective throats. The undertaker is also missing a couple of fingers. On the scene, Detective Abbott theorizes that the tears in their throats were probably caused by local wildlife looking for a free meal. He supports this idea by pointing out a strange animal-like footprint. Scully doesn’t buy it. But she’s keeping Doggett in the dark about her ideas. Scully and Doggett find a trail of similar footprints leading into the house’s attic, which leads them to find the undertaker’s missing fingers. They appear to have been partially digested and regurgitated. Sometimes, I wish Scully just wouldn’t say things out loud, you know? Meanwhile, in another part of town, old lady McKesson’s trip down memory lane in her attic is rather rudely interrupted by the man-sized bat. Scully begins to draw some conclusions based on her autopsy of the first two bodies. While the bite marks on the undertaker and his wife are indeed human-sized, there is an enzyme in the bite marks that are unique to bats. Doggett steps up with an old newspaper article he’s uncovered of the capture of a human-sized bat creature in 1956. You gotta give him credit. The guy’s trying harder than Scully did at this point of her assignment to the X-Files, right? According to the article, the men brought the creature to the county coroner’s office believing it to be dead, but the coroner was found dead a couple of days later and no trace of the bat-thing was seen again. The agents join the team already at old lady McKesson’s house. They realize that there is some sort of connection between this latest victim and the rest, being that they were all involved in the investigation of the death of Mrs. McKesson’s estranged daughter Ariel. Ariel had disappeared in 1956, but her burned body was found two weeks ago in a nearby river. They decide to exhume Ariel’s body to see if they can determine any connections to the deaths reported in Doggett’s old newspaper article and the current murders. At the cemetery, they find that the grave has already been dug up, with claw marks defacing the lid of the coffin. The agents remove the burned body from the grave and take it back to the morgue. As they drive away, Detective Abbot spots a movement inside of a dead tree and is attacked by the bat creature. At this point, the local authorities begin to misplace their anger at the death of Abbot toward Scully. Doggett staunchly defends his partner. Scully is puzzled as to why the body was burned, since it appears to have happened post-mortem, with Ariel’s cause of death being a heart attack. She does learn in studying the case files that all of the current victims were people who had come into contact with Ariel’s body after she died. Her mother had identified the body, Abbot had investigated the death, the undertaker had… er… undertaken her body. The only one still alive was a man named Myron Stephaniuk who had found her body and pulled it from the river. They find Myron, who leads them to his brother Ernie. Ernie confesses that he was one of the hunters who had captured the creature forty years earlier and that he and his wife Ariel had hidden themselves away on an island in the middle of the river for four decades, after the angry bat-creature had killed several people who carried his scent back in 1956. When she died, he had burned her body in the hopes of masking his own scent from the creature. Except it didn’t work. People were dead, and now his brother Myron was in danger of being attacked. He tells Scully and Doggett that they are now marked as well. Ernie’s security sensor array begins to beep and the Scully empties a clip into the roof as the creature lands on Ernie’s house. While she reloads her pistol, it enters the house and attacks Ernie. Doggett leaps to protect him and fires his gun at it but is flung aside. Scully is able to fire her weapon at the monster. She hits it and it flees into the night. Back at the bureau, Doggett assures Scully that the monster may have escaped, but they had both shot it, so it was highly unlikely that it survived. Whew. Made it through the whole thing without a single stupid Christian Bale reference. You know how some teachers will hit you with a test right at the beginning of the year, just to assess your level of competency? This was Dogget’s pop quiz. Carter set out to write and direct a return to fundamentals. Creature feature monster of the week pursued by two agents, one of which is always several steps ahead of the other because of the latter’s skepticism. It’s sort of a formula, but it’s a proven one and as long as the monsters continue to entertain, there’s just no reason to deviate that far from it. Two things refresh that formula this time around. One is the role reversal of Scully from the skeptical agent to the hyper-intuitive investigator. The other is the presence of fresh fish John Doggett. Despite her reservations, Scully is enough of a professional to recognize what a stellar agent John Doggett is and the first buddings of a new partnership are beginning to show. S8E4: “Roadrunners” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Rod Hardy) Gilligan delivers a knockout creep-show with this one. After all the comic episodes he’d been producing, Gilligan wanted to stretch his muscles and craft something scary. It’s a tight little story, deftly handled by series newcomer Rod Hardy. In the middle of the Utah desert, a hitchhiker flags down a bus. Inside, he settles into the sole available seat amongst the otherwise silent passengers. Before long, the bus comes to a stop and all of the riders silently rise and debark. The confused hitchhiker follows them outside where he watches them stone a disabled man who had been riding near the front. As he screams a protest at this brutality, they turn and encircle him. Scully investigates the crime scene alone, having flown to Utah without telling her new partner. She has already examined the body of the victim and found that he suffered a level of scoliosis normally found in the elderly. Except the man she was examining had only been reported missing a few weeks earlier, at which time his family reports him to have been in perfect health. When she does contact Doggett, it’s because she’s discovered some glycoproteins at the crime scene which has stirred a vague memory of a former X-File and she needs him to try to locate the reference. While speaking to Doggett on the pay phone, the bus passes her. Following her instinct, she sets out to follow, and it leads her to a small settlement twenty miles away from the main highway. She stops at a gas station to fill her rental car, but is waylaid when the attendant puts water into her gas tank. Angrily, Scully is forced to seek out the only phone in the outpost since her cell phone doesn’t have a signal out in the desert. Hey, this was two years before the “Can you hear me now?” guy. She enters the house of Mr. Milsap, only to find that the reportedly unreliable phone service is down. She is invited to wait until the phone line is restored. Reluctantly, she agrees, but sleeps sitting up with her pistol at her side. The next morning, she is startled awake by Mr. Milsap who asks for her help with an emergency. Downstairs, she is led into another room where a man (the hitchhiker from the beginning of the episode) is suffering a grand mal seizure. She helps to settle him down, but notices a mysterious wound on his lower back. Scully sense tingling, she manages to clear the room as the man recovers enough to talk. Meanwhile, Doggett calls the sheriff to check in with Scully only to be told that she hadn’t arrived as expected yesterday. All of a sudden, Doggett’s on full alarm. Back in Utah, the hitchhiker seems to be suffering a mild sort of amnesia. Scully examines the wound on his back and notices an elongated lump moving under his skin along his spine. Using a pair of pliers, she tries to go into the wound to extract the object, only to succeed in breaking off a small squirming part of it. Whatever “it” is. Scully leaves her gun with him so that he can defend himself from the members of the colony who placed this creature inside of him and sneaks out to try to find a vehicle to take him to a hospital. As soon as she leaves, he tells Mr. Milsap and another woman about Scully’s plans and they move to intercept her. Meanwhile, Doggett has arrived at the nearby sheriff’s office and shows the deputies and other gathered agents a stack of files detailing similar deaths throughout the southwest as the one which brought Scully out here in the first place. Scully finds the colony’s bus, but before she can even get inside it the rest of the gathered group descends upon her. They hold her while one member bashes the chillingly-willing hitchhiker’s skull with a hammer. The members of the colony place the parasite into Scully, holding her while it burrows into her back. Doggett wanders through the outpost, showing pictures of Scully to the locals. They tell him “no, haven’t seen her,” but all he hears is “we’re a creepy neo-religious cult.” Parking his car just beyond the small outcrop of buildings, he contacts backup and goes back to find Scully. Rescuing her from the Crazy Utah Players’ fall production of “Fifty Shades of Alien,” they work their way to the barn where the bus is stored. Doggett is in the process of hotwiring the vehicle when Scully demands that he cut the parasite out of her back before it reaches her brain stem. Acting swiftly, he slices open the skin beside her upper spine and pulls out the critter. While the crazed townspeople attempt to break into their own bus, Doggett shoots the odd creature. He carries Scully out of the barn through the suddenly silent crowd as nearing sirens howl. A week later, Doggett comes to check Scully out of the hospital. She admits that she shouldn’t have come out here without her partner. He agrees. Vince Gilligan set out to accomplish a couple of things with this episode, and I think it’s safe to say that he succeeded on all accounts. For one thing, he wanted to step back from his increasingly comedic output on the series and offer up a tense fright fest. Check. He wanted to reassure fans that the X-Files was going to carry on, even without the presence of Fox Mulder. Check. He wanted to convince everyone that John Doggett was a good agent, a good man, and a dependable partner to Dana Scully. Check. Even with Scully ditching him, he is able to get up to pace quickly and efficiently from the moment he realizes that something has gone wrong. He mobilizes the nearest field office with an authority Mulder (frankly) never could have assumed. And when it comes time to perform an emergency parasite-ectomy on his new partner, he doesn’t hesitate. Despite a rocky beginning, Doggett continues to prove himself to Scully and to those of us watching that he is very much the man for the job. S8E5: “Invocation” (w: David Amann/d: Richard Compton) Things get a little personal for Doggett in this episode. Amann and Compton put together a decent little puzzle thriller that also serves the purpose of introducing an important facet of John Doggett’s history. While not much is revealed, it becomes apparent that Doggett’s determination in solving the case at hand crosses into a considerably intimate place for the agent. He displays a vulnerability that had yet to be seen since his character’s introduction at the beginning of the season. A little boy who disappeared at a carnival in 1990 reappears at an elementary school in 2000. The curious thing is that he hasn’t aged a day, appearing exactly as he had ten years earlier. Scully and Doggett join the inquiry, and Doggett attempts to question a seemingly mute Billy Underwood. The interview does not go well, and Scully is troubled by her new partner’s seemingly uncharacteristic insensitivity. Scully wonders whether Billy might have been an alien abductee, which could help explain his mysterious lack of aging. Alternatively, Doggett seems to think local slacker Ronald Purnell knew more than he let on when he was interviewed at the carnival back in 1990. The Underwoods attempt to adjust to the return of their long-missing child. Billy’s 12-year-old brother Josh is leery of his 10-year-old big brother, as is Mr. Underwood. The family dog, a puppy when Billy disappeared, is now fully grown and decidedly distrustful of the returned child. Only Lisa Underwood, Billy’s mother, is able to blindly accept this answer to her decade of prayers. That night, Billy sneaks into Josh’s bedroom carrying a knife. The next morning, Josh awakens with the knife sticking out of the bed directly beside him while Billy stands silently across the room staring at him. It is bewilderingly covered in Billy’s blood, although Billy has suffered no injuries. When police arrive, the captain is surprised to find a marking on the knife handle that matches a drawing done by a psychic they had consulted as a desperate investigative avenue ten years earlier. Meanwhile, Doggett’s primary suspect Ronald Purnell is enduring a visit by his mom’s abusive boytoy Cal. After being hassled, Purnell escapes into the nearby woods where he digs up a child’s skull. After Cal finishes rocking the trailer with Purnell’s mom, he emerges to threaten the boy with vagaries about Billy Underwood. Scully and Doggett invite the same psychic who had cooperated with police back in 1990 to come see the newly-returned boy. Before turning to the boy, the psychic offers up a startling (to Scully, at least) insight into Doggett’s past dealings with a particular child abduction case. Her interview with Billy goes about as well as Doggett’s failed attempt to extract a statement when they first arrived in Oklahoma. This time, however, ends with the psychic collapsing as the symbol from the knife handle appears, etched into her forehead. While the agents stake out the Underwood home that evening, Doggett spots Purnell sitting in his car across the street. As he approaches the car, both Doggett and Purnell are surprised to find Billy in the passenger seat next to Purnell. In a panic, the twenty-something starts the car and tries to escape. Scully cuts him off with her rental car, but when they pull Purnell out, Billy is no longer in the car. While Doggett takes Purnell into custody, Josh Underwood is abducted by a man inside of a horse trailer at a gas station. The farm’s logo on the trailer bears the same symbol that’s been popping up throughout this case. Once Doggett has had some time in a room with Purnell, the boy finally admits that he had abducted Billy back in 1990, but he was working under the orders of his childhood abuser Cal. They go to Cal’s farm where he cares for the ponies he rents out as carnival rides. Doggett and Scully find Josh tied up in a compartment in the bottom of the horse trailer. Cal makes a run for the woods, and the assembled authorities follow Doggett in pursuit. Doggett catches the fleeing suspect, and finds Billy standing in the middle of the woods nearby. He looks away from the boy for a moment, and when he looks back he’s gone. As Cal is taken into custody, Doggett walks over to where he had seen Billy standing. He finds the skull Purnell had uncovered the day before. Testing proves that the bones are Billy’s. The boy had actually been killed by Cal ten years earlier, and Purnell had buried his remains here in the woods, explaining his fascination with the returned child. In the end, this was a straightforward ghost-seeking-justice story, but the journey to the ultimate resolution was considerably twisty. Looking back at it, Billy’s not-exactly-a-threat to Josh with the knife is sort of an unexplainable red herring, but otherwise the story stands up to hindsight examination. Particularly interesting is Doggett’s level of commitment to this case. The boy’s picture he carries in his wallet will be fully explained later, but it’s not exactly a leap to infer his own son’s abduction from the heavy-handed clues presented in this episode. Scully was just along for the ride on this case, so that we could experience a little 3D shading on the character of John Doggett. To be fair, he’s far more willing to accept the oddities of the X-Files than Scully was after a mere three cases together. It’s an interesting new dynamic, and exploring it has very nearly kept me from missing Mulder so far. His absence is certainly felt, especially when one considers that his bendy mind would likely have pegged Billy as a physical manifestation of the boy’s vengeful spirit upon arrival, and they could have wrapped the case up in time for a mid-afternoon nap. But this burgeoning partnership has drawn a new breath into the show, and it’s rather fascinating to watch. S8E6: “Redrum” (w: Steven Maeda & Daniel Arkin (story), Steven Maeda (teleplay)/d: Peter Markle) This episode is probably the most direct homage to the Twilight Zone of this series. Instead of the opening credits, one fully expects Rod Serling to slide in from the side of the frame to introduce Martin Wells and his unique situation. Joe Morton, more recently recognizable from Eureka and Scandal, was able to share screen time with Robert Patrick for the first time. They were both in T2: Judgement Day, but didn’t have any scenes together. Also featured is Danny Trejo, who is arguably the most prolific man in show business (seriously, his IMDB listing has over three hundred acting credits attributed to him). It is something of a spiritual twin to season seven’s “Hungry” in that the story is presented entirely from the perspective of the person being investigated, with the agents (in this case, Scully and Doggett) only appearing as secondary to the main protagonist. As a somewhat interesting production side note, the scene where Wells is assassinated was filmed outside of Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel. It’s used frequently as a shooting location, but is also infamously known as the location of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination in 1968. Baltimore prosecuting attorney Martin Wells sits in a prison cell watching a spider working on its web. It’s Friday morning. A bandage covers a wound on his cheek. His friend John Doggett and Doggett’s partner Dana Scully arrive to assist with his transfer from county lockup to prison. Outside, he recognizes a face in the crowd, but it is too late. The man has opened fire, shooting Wells several times in the chest. Wells spends his dying moments admiring Scully’s Omega watch, as the second hand begins ticking backwards. Wells wakes up in the cell again. The wound is still on his cheek, but there are no bullet holes. All in all, not as bad of a morning as he might have expected. When Doggett and Scully arrive to discuss his transfer, he protests that he doesn’t know what is happening. Doggett angrily informs him that Mrs. Wells is dead. Furthermore, Doggett isn’t buying the insanity defense he seems to be trying to build. When he is brought into the courtroom, Wells realizes that it is now Thursday. He also recognizes his (now former) father-in-law as the man who shot him during the transfer on Friday. When he wakes up the following morning, it is Wednesday. Doggett and Scully come to meet with him. For them, this is their first meeting. On the way to talk with them, Martin is pushed into a group where one of his fellow inmates slashes his cheek, causing the wound he had been sporting since the beginning of the episode. As it turns out, Martin is living the week backwards, awakening each morning to the previous day. He’s having flashbacks (flashforwards? Dammit, Lost, you fatigued my ability to grasp this sort of thing) to his wife’s murder, but can’t really find much help in them outside of a vision of a spiderweb tattoo. He awakens the next morning to find that it is Tuesday. He wakes up on the couch in Doggett’s apartment. He tells his old friend that the key to his wife’s murder is on the nanny cam hidden in his kid’s bedroom. Watching the video, it appears to incriminate him, but Doggett notices details that exonerate him. The nanny cam had been switched off using a remote control which only Wells, his wife and their nanny knew about. A visit to the nanny’s house quickly flushes out Ocumpo, the man with the spider tattoo. He blames Wells for the death of his brother after the attorney put him behind bars and wants to exact revenge. After speaking with Ocumpo, Wells is placed under arrest for his wife’s death. The evidence against Ocumpo is not yet strong enough to build a proper case. Wells wakes up in a DC hotel room on Monday morning. On his way home to try to save his wife from her fate, he stops to try to convince an understandably confused John Doggett that he needs help stopping Ocumpo. He admits to suppressing evidence during Ocumpo’s brother’s trial, which Doggett warns him he will have to report. Realizing that turning up on a friends doorstep after six years of no contact with a story like the one he’s presenting is unlikely to help his wife, he leaves Doggett’s place to face fate on his own. Ocumpo is already at his house when he arrives. In the struggle, Mrs. Wells is thrown through the glass coffee table, just like in the visions he’s been having. Ocumpo is preparing to slit Mrs. Wells’ throat when Doggett arrives and shoots him. Ocumpo awakens on Tuesday morning in jail again. He is facing obstruction charges for his handling of Ocumpo’s brother’s case. Despite that, he is at peace. His wife is alive and time is moving forward again. In classic Twilight Zone fashion, Wells is caught up in his own personal mystery. Many of the best Twilight Zone episodes were centered in a sense of isolation with the added bonus of being a stark morality play. This was both. It fits into the bigger picture of this season in further showing Doggett’s ready willingness to roll with the flow in the cases he investigates. While reluctant to just go along with Wells’ wild story, he is willing enough to trust his own instincts and follow his friend back to his home in time to save the day. Whether it was suspicion or concern for the man, Doggett’s arrival at the critical moment shows his earnest desire to protect others. A lesser man would have likely dismissed Wells’ ravings, or else attempted to place a follow-up phone call later. Not Doggett. He drops everything and follows the man home. As I said, he may have pursued him out of concern that his erratic behavior would present a threat to himself or others, but in the end Doggett’s motive doesn’t matter nearly as much as his actions. S8E7: “Via Negativa” (w: Frank Spotnitz/d: Tony Wharmby) The writers had sort of backed themselves into a corner with the planning of this episode. They had decided to bench Scully for a week in order to give Doggett a chance to tackle an X-file on his own. But it wasn’t until Spotnitz stepped forward with an idea inspired by a (likely inebriated) friend of a friend. The initial idea was basically “Hey, wouldn’t it be weird and creepy if a tube of toothpaste was full of blood?” Frank mulled the idea over and reached the conclusion that this sort of circumstance was most likely to appear in a nightmare. So, they ran with that. You just never know where your next story idea is going to originate, right? The title “Via Negativa” is shared with a theological school of thought. It’s Latin for “The Negative Path,” and its followers seek to find the way of God by eliminating determining and eliminating all the things God is not. Think of it as being sort of like the legend of Michelangelo telling an admiring fan that his David was a simple matter of looking at the block of stone and removing all the bits that didn’t look like David. Michelangelo probably didn’t actually say this, but the principle of Via Negativa and the search for God is sort of like that. You find all the things that aren’t God, get rid of them, and in the end you’ve found God. Or something like that. By the way, if you recognize actor Keith Szarabajka as Holtz from the Buffy spinoff Angel, you may award yourself bookoo Whedon-fan points. I knew I recognized him from somewhere, but had to look him up. My Whedonverse citizenship is now under review. For penance, I have to watch Wash’s death from the Serenity movie on a loop for three hours. An agent on a stakeout in a Pittsburgh neighborhood falls asleep on duty. His partner wakens him, and they enter the house where a religious cult was staying. Their assignment was to stake out the group to determine whether they were a danger to themselves or others. Inside, they find a room full of people who have had their foreheads cleaved with an axe. Before they know what is happening, the two agents are attacked by an axe-wielding man with a third eye in the middle of his forehead. Scully calls Doggett to relay orders from Skinner to get to Pittsburgh. She tells her partner that she won’t be able to join him, but doesn’t say why. She’s at the hospital, being checked out for severe abdominal pain related to her pregnancy, which only Skinner knows about. Doggett meets Skinner at the crime scene, but something is unusual. The dead bodies are still tucked snug in their beds inside the house, but the first agent is sitting in the driver’s seat of his car. If Mulder were here, he’d make a crack about the guy’s splitting headache. But that’s not how Doggett or Skinner roll. The other agent is not on the scene. They go to the agent’s local digs, and find him dead in a condo that’s locked from the inside. The cult leader, Anthony Tipet (the one with the third eye from earlier) is also missing. Back at the FBI, Skinner briefs some other agents and superiors (including Deputy Director Kersh) that Tipet was using hallucinogens to “bring himself closer to God.” Skinner also proposes a theory that Tipet may have somehow enabled himself to enter people’s consciousness through their dreams and control them. In response, Kersh reinvents and perfects the flat stare. Tracing a call from a pay phone, Doggett and Skinner are able to locate Tipet’s drug dealer, a man named Andre Bormanis. Bormanis is arrested and put in a holding cell. Inside, he dreams that Tipet leads a battalion of attack rats into the cell. Doggett has a brief vision of his own in which he walks like the T-1000 until he finds a three-eyed Tipet floating in lotus position in the hallway. Looking down at his hands, Doggett realizes that he is holding Scully’s severed head in his hands. He is shocked out of his vision. Rushing back to Bormanis’ cell, Doggett and Skinner find the drug dealer still lying on his cot where he had been sleeping, except he is dead with thousands of tiny bite marks torn out of his exposed flesh. Returning to the basement office at the FBI, Doggett meets the Lone Gunmen for the first time. Skinner had contacted them, and they offer just enough insight into the case to inspire Doggett. He is now working from the supposition that Tipet believes that he can enter people’s dreams and control them through use of that access. Doggett doesn’t believe it to be possible, but knowing that Tipet does gives him another avenue to explore in his investigation. Doggett and Skinner return to Bormanis’ lab, where they find Tipet. Tipet promptly attempts to head-butt the spinning blade on a table saw. The agents rush him to the hospital, and Kersh decides that the case is closed with Tipet’s incapacitation. While in the hospital, Doggett discovers Scully sleeping in a room where she’s being treated for her abdominal pain. He seems troubled that his partner hasn’t told him that she’s ill. He returns home and goes to bed. Upon awakening, he discovers that he now has the third eye in his forehead, which soon disappears. Doggett goes about his day, but he feels as if he might be dreaming. He tells Skinner that he doesn’t think he’s awake, but his boss dismisses him and sends him home. On his way out of the building, he finds himself in a darkened corridor where Tipet orders him to kill Scully with an axe. Refusing, Doggett starts to turn the axe on himself. Just as he’s about to use the axe to make destroy one-third of his ocular organs, he is awakened by Scully. She tells him that Tipet has died in the hospital. You know that first time your parents left you at home alone? They were just as nervous about it as you were, but they knew the time had come. Sure, they were just running to the grocery or whatever, and they left the number of the nice old lady next door in case you needed anything, but you were on your own for the first time. The house had never felt bigger. And all those creaks and ticks and various other noises that an old house makes all the time but you don’t typically notice because mom and/or dad are in the house with you? They suddenly sound exactly like some stranger creeping around upstairs. But then you see the headlights in the driveway and you let out a breath you didn’t realize you were holding and try to act cool about it when mom and dad come in the door with the groceries. This episode, Doggett was left alone with an X-File. He had resources, to be sure. Skinner tagged along for some of it. The Lone Gunmen offered some advice. Heck, Mother Dana called to check in and offer moral support at one point. But this one was really all Doggett, and he proved himself a worthy steward of the X-Files. 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