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. S8E14: “This Is Not Happening” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners)/S8E15: “Deadalive” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Tony Wharmby) It was time to get back to business for Carter and Spotnitz, as this story arc strikes the balance between tying up unresolved plotlines dating back to the previous season and the laying of groundwork for what would eventually be the rest of the series. They acknowledged that the “Mulder and Scully Era” of the X-Files was winding down, which necessitated the introduction of a new agent to counterpoint John Doggett in the form of Annabeth Gish’s Agent Monica Reyes. The title of the first part might initially seem like it should be a harkening to the third season episode “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” where an Air Force pilot in a grey alien costume chain-smoked and repeated the same phrase over and over to himself while awaiting his judgement from Lord Kinboat (don’t ask). But that doesn’t seem to be the case, other than the superficial parallels to be found in the abduction and return phenomena presented. Instead, that particular title is yanked directly out of the script. It is shouted twice by UFO chaser Richie Szalay at the beginning and twice by Scully at the bitter end of the episode. While reminded of the earlier episode, the tonal difference of its usage in between the episode at hand and the decidedly comic season three episode would seem to be the gulf separating any parallels that might be found. The title “Deadalive,” a pretty straightforward statement of the episode content, has nothing at all to do with Peter Jackson’s twisted splatterfest/Oedipal meditation Dead Alive. Somewhere in Montana, Richie Szalay recklessly follows a UFO along a deserted road until he runs out of road. Leaving his car to follow on foot, he emerges over a rise to find that the UFO has vanished. Not that he realizes, but it actually did vanish from sight by activating its cloaking device, as has been seen before in season seven’s finale “Requiem.” This was, coincidentally, the last time we saw Richie Szalay when he and his buddy were exploring the woods outside Bellefleur, Oregon in search of UFO wreckage. His buddy Gary was among those abducted along with Mulder back in Oregon. Richie shouts his frustration over losing track of the UFO to the stars before he notices a figure lying in the field under where the UFO had last been seen. It turns out to be an unconscious Theresa Hoese. Hoese was a witness in Mulder and Scully’s very first investigation together, and was another abductee taken six months earlier in the culling that included Fox Mulder. Skinner, Doggett, and Scully make their way to Montana in the hope that Hoese will be able to give them a break in their search for Mulder. Finding her to still be unconscious, they seek out Szalay. Richie had been tracking UFO sightings ever since Gary’s disappearance in the hopes of reclaiming his friend. Doggett struggles to accept his story, thinking he is likely responsible for Hoese’s state. The Nike shoeprints at the site where Szalay found Hoese helps to cement Doggett’s skepticism. Jeremiah Smith, the rogue shape-shifting alien rebel who can heal people with his extraterrestrial powers (come on, try to keep up) last seen in the fourth season opener “Herrenvolk,” takes the form of Hoese’s doctor and orders her transferred out of the hospital. Doggett calls another agent he’s worked with before named Monica Reyes to help look for Hoese. I suppose he felt like this case was starting to develop too many moving parts and they could use another set of hands. Or else he took it upon himself to recruit Scully’s maternity leave replacement himself. The man has initiative, it can’t be denied. Reyes tells a refreshingly skeptical Scully her theory that Mulder’s disappearance may be explained by finding that he has fallen in with a UFO cult. Scully and Skinner scoff at this claim. Ironically, Smith has taken Hoese to a UFO cult led by a man called Absalom and cured her of her injuries. Later, Reyes’ car stalls out on a road as a UFO passes over her. She follows it and finds that it has deposited the body of Richie’s friend Gary. She also sees Jeremiah Smith and Absalom leaving the scene with another body in the back of their truck. Using the license plates on the truck, Reyes is able to lead the other FBI agents to Absalom’s compound. Storming inside, they find a recovered Hoese, but no Mulder and no Smith. Absalom explains that he and Jeremiah have been rescuing the abductees and healing their wounds. While watching a tape of the FBI raid, Skinner, Scully, and Doggett see Smith shape-shift into Doggett, much to the real Doggett’s surprise. Scully rushes back into the compound where she locates Smith by his Nikes. Before she can interrogate him in a private room, Skinner bursts in to tell her that they’ve found Mulder. She locks Smith in the room and races out into the woods, where she finds Mulder’s lifeless corpse. Thinking Smith will be able to save him, she races back to the compound, but her arrival coincides with that of the UFO. Smith is abducted from the locked room along with Scully’s only hope of saving Mulder. We skip ahead to Mulder’s funeral. Scully, the defacto widow, lingers graveside. She is very much in the denial stage of her grief. Three months pass. Scully’s pregnancy is now unmistakable. She and Doggett have settled into the basement office together. She tells her partner that he should accept the offer from Deputy Director Kersh to be reassigned from the X-Files for the sake of his career. Doggett counters with the point that if he leaves, no one will bother with the X-Files when she goes out of maternity leave in a few months and Kersh will get his wish to shut down the division. Meanwhile, a fishing boat in the Atlantic Ocean finds a bloated corpse floating in the stormy sea. It is identified as Billy Miles. Miles is brought to an autopsy table where he miraculously revives. Scully, grasping at a desperate hunch, demands that Mulder’s body be exhumed from its three month old resting place in case he still had a bit of kick left in him. Shockingly, her hunch bears merit as they find the faintest trace of life in his slightly deteriorating corpse. Scully, taking a short break from her bedside sentry duty of Mulder, peeks in on the still-comatose Billy Miles. His body begins to convulse, and the heart monitor seems to register an extra heartbeat. Basically, Billy Miles is a Timelord. No, no. I kid. Once alone again, Billy awakens and takes a shower to slough off about a dozen layers of dead skin and that strawberry Jello he spilled down his front from his hospital dinner. Meanwhile, an increasingly hostile Deputy Director Kersh tries to order Skinner to stop working on Mulder’s case. As Skinner leaves the office, Krychek appears to remind Skinner that he has the remote control for his heart. Literally. Skinner’s blood is infected with nanites which can be activated to slow his blood flow at the push of a button by Krychek. Once he has his attention, he tells Skinner that he has a vaccine which will cure Mulder, but Skinner has to make sure Scully’s baby doesn’t make it to the delivery room if he wants it. Scully and Doggett speak with Extreme Makeover Billy Miles, who tells them that the aliens are trying to help humanity. But Scully’s lab report of Billy’s labs tells Scully otherwise. It would appear that the abductees are spending their time in the grave (watery or otherwise) as a sort of incubation period before they can emerge as something new and different. Skinner teases Scully with knowledge of a cure for Mulder, but can’t figure out a way to explain to her that she needs to give up her unborn child in order to get it. Skinner can be so passive aggressive that way. Doggett, armed with his new knowledge of the genetic alterations happening to the abductees, goes to visit Absalom in prison. The former UFO cult leader tells him that the hybridizations are happening as a means of colonization. He also informs him that the colonization is well under way. Meanwhile, Skinner decides to hamstring Krychek by pulling Mulder off the playing board. Doggett catches Skinner unplugging Mulder’s life support system, prompting a considerably tense conversation. Doggett goes to the hospital’s parking garage where he violently confronts Krychek. Krychek, ever the slippery worm, smashes the vial of antivirus which supposedly would cure Mulder and gets away. When Doggett returns to Mulder’s room, he finds Scully hard at work. She tells him that the life support apparatus had been incubating the alien genes which were taking over Mulder’s body, and unplugging the life support was the act which saved his life. She begins administering a round of antivirals and carefully regulating his body temperature. All of these acts result in Mulder’s recovery. Scully is at his bedside when he awakens. Doggett starts to enter the room, but backs away as soon as he sees the tearful Scully lying across the now-awake Mulder’s chest. Doggett returns to the FBI to be told by Kersh that he is no longer willing to reassign Doggett, since he wouldn’t drop the Mulder case as was requested. Doggett shrugs off Kersh’s derision, happy to stay on the X-Files with Mulder and Scully. I would like to note that the second part of this story, “Deadalive,” which shocked us all with its opening depiction of Fox Mulder’s funeral, originally aired on April Fools’ Day in 2001. Well played, Mr. Carter. Well played. I’m pretty sure that Joss Whedon killed Buffy and let her lie interred for five months before her resurrection just to outdo Mulder’s three month standing record. Maybe, maybe not. Let me know if Whedon denies it. Actually, scratch that. If he tries to deny his one-upmanship, refer him to me. My editor would probably give me some major brownie points for an exclusive interview. S8E16: “Three Words” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Tony Wharmby) Carter and Spotnitz used this episode to fire a first warning shot across their audience’s bow. Sure, it’s a relief that Mulder is back and healthy. He and Scully are reunited, and all is right with the world. All that was left was to get him back behind his desk with the rest of the FBI’s least wanted, right? As it turns out, it just wasn’t going to be that simple. They knew (and Duchovny agreed) that Mulder’s continued, ongoing presence as an employee of the federal government was becoming too much of a stretch in credibility. Even without the influence of the Syndicate, Mulder had been a laughing stock of the bureau for enough years that the continued forbearance for this frequently rogue agent just wasn’t realistic. It was time for the X-Files to move in a different direction. Ultimately, this shift might have been the beginning of the end of the show, but settling back into a stale status quo would have been deadly in a far worse way. While it might be possible to look at the title and assume some forthcoming saccharine exchange between Mulder and Scully, the three words in question are one of the buzz phrases of the show, “Fight the Future.” It was the tagline (and, as far as I’m concerned, the title) of the franchise’s first feature film, and is used quite effectively in this episode. As far as Mulder and Scully are concerned, it should be abundantly clear at this point that those other three little words simply go without saying. Along Pennsylvania Avenue, amongst the protestors and shutterbugs gathered along the sidewalk in front of the White House is a man with a singular purpose. He climbs the fence and runs across the front lawn, making it all the way to the bushes along the side of the building before he is stopped by guards who don’t shoot first. Hey, this was five months before 9/11. It truly was a different world. Unfortunately for the super-aggressive tourist, as he struggles with the Secret Service agents he accidentally shoots himself with his own concealed weapon. As he dies, he hands the agents a computer disk with the words “Fight the Future” written on it. He begs them to put this disk in the president’s hands. Meanwhile, Fox Mulder sits in a hospital room trying not to succumb to PTSD from his abduction experience. Scully arrives to bring some good tidings, though. Whatever else he’s been through, the degenerative disease in his brain that had been killing him throughout last year before he booked his interstellar booze cruise has been miraculously cured. In fact, for being a guy who spent the past three months lying in a coffin, he’s in perfect health. Scully takes him back to his apartment where they finally take a moment to appreciate Scully’s pronouncedly rusted tin roof. Tastefully, the scene leaves the two reunited “professional partners” to their own devices in order to check in on Absalom in prison, where he was sent after his UFO cult was placed under siege in the last episode. He is given a newspaper article about the man jumping the fence at the White House. For some reason, this information spurs him to successfully escape from prison during a work detail. Doggett returns home after unsuccessfully trying to lobby for Mulder’s reinstatement on the X-Files with Deputy Director Kersh. Kersh won’t hear anything of it, citing Doggett’s higher success rate in the months since he’s been working on the X-Files. Entering his apartment, Doggett is surprised by a gun-wielding Absalom. After maniacally demanding to see the back of the agent’s neck (it’ll make sense later), he forces Doggett to use his FBI credentials to gain them access to the Federal Census Bureau’s database. The man at the White House had been Howard Salt, and Absalom knew that he died trying to expose information about an alien invasion. The former cult leader believes that information proving that the aliens have already colonized is available on the Census’ database. They attempt to sneak in, but Absalom’s gun is detected on their way in. As armed security swoops in, Absalom is killed by a bullet to the head. Mulder accuses Doggett of being part of the conspiracy to wipe out Absalom in order to hide whatever information he might have had. Doggett doesn’t exactly take kindly to Mulder’s theory. He arranges a meeting with his old Marine buddy Knowle Rohrer from the DoD, who tells him that the password to the census database is “Fight the Future.” Scully passes the password along to Mulder. He and the Lone Gunmen stage a much better-structured break-in at the census bureau so that Mulder can gain access to the database. In the meantime, Doggett has realized that the passcode is a setup and breaks in to try to extract Mulder before the trigger-happy census security force can arrive. They argue, but Mulder eventually relents and they are able to slip away just before Call of Duty marches into the bunker. Later, Doggett confronts Rohrer about the bad tip he had given him which nearly resulted in his and Mulder’s deaths. Rohrer all but sneers at his former friend as he tries to tell him that he was merely trying to direct him toward the truth. As a disgusted Doggett walks away, we are able to see that Rohrer has some sort of mysterious ridge protruding from the base of his neck. It was tempting to include this episode as a third part of the story told in the previous two episodes, but upon reflection, that would seem to have sort of a disservice to the independence of this episode. It is its own story, even if many of the elements serve as an epilogue to the prior epic. It is Mulder’s Rip Van Winkle awakening to a world that’s moved on around him. The previous two-parter was the story of Scully, Skinner, and everyone else’s reclamation of Fox Mulder. This episode told the tale of Fox Mulder trying to find his place among those same people. It’s a simple enough distinction, but the transition from one perspective to the other is so utterly seamless that it wanted to slip past my binging eyeballs. Much has been said about Mulder’s role as the Christ figure of the show, and it’s impossible to deny that parallel. Still, I think we’ll table that sort of discussion until we get into season nine, when the eight season-long gospel of Fox Mulder finally comes to an end and we start seeing the acts of his disciples before his revelatory return. Yeah, it’s pretty thick. That’s why I’m just not getting into the Scully-as-Mary-Magdalen discussion here. Rip Van Winkle. Let’s stick with that. S8E17: “Empedocles” (w: Greg Walker/d: Barry K. Thomas) Empedocles, this episode’s namesake, was a Greek philosopher (pre-Socrates) who first introduced the concept of the four elements. Would it be a stretch to call him the one true founding member of Earth, Wind, and Fire? Although, he probably would have been a little offended at the exclusion of water. Poor water. Water just couldn’t pull off those silver jump suits, I suppose. Sometime later, Empedocles jumped into the volcanic Mt. Etna with the thought that the mountain’s fire would be his ticket to becoming a god. No one has really ever been able to say definitively how that worked out for him. As Jeb Dukes is on his way home from being fired from his job, he rounds a corner to see a car entirely engulfed in flames. As he stands with the rest of the helpless crowd, Jeb sees a burning man climb out of the car and directly approach him. No one seems to be able to see it. Some time later, Jeb returns to his former office and shoots his former boss and anyone else that steps in front of his gun. Agent Monica Reyes is called into the scene from the New Orleans field office where she is based. The local authorities believe that the murders at the office are somehow related to occult activity, and they are counting on Reyes’ expertise on such matters to provide them with insight. She quickly dismisses the shootings as being the work of a disgruntled or overly stressed employee. However, on her way out of the office, she has a vision in which one of the bodies turns into a charred corpse, still glowing with faint embers. Back in Washington, Scully is having more abdominal pain, prompting Mulder to bring her to the hospital. While the doctors attend to Scully, Mulder answers a call from Agent Reyes. She needs his advice on the case she’s looking into. When he tries to refer her to Doggett in the X-Files office, she tells him that she thinks this case is related to Doggett’s son’s unsolved case somehow. In a lonely hotel in Georgia, Jeb is hiding out and trying to find the courage to kill himself. Looking in the mirror, he watches in horror as he pulls strips of flesh off of his face to reveal glowing embers under the skin. Mulder meets with Reyes in the J. Edgar building’s record room where she tells him about her experience working the case of Luke Doggett. When she and John had finally found Luke’s body, both of them watched as it turned to ash. Doggett has convinced himself over the years since that it was an hallucination brought on by shock and grief, but Reyes thinks it was an vision meant to direct their investigation somehow. Doggett finds out that Mulder has been looking into the case of his son’s disappearance and goes on the defensive. Reyes appears to smooth things over, explaining that the man in the burning vehicle a couple of blocks away from the mass shooting in the office had been one of their primary suspects in Luke’s abduction and death. Doggett refuses or is unable to see the connection between the two facts, but Reyes further details her vision of the charred corpse. Doggett takes a walk. Reyes visits Jeb’s sister, but is unable to obtain anything more than background information from her. Ironically, while Reyes is visiting sister Katha, Jeb calls from a pay phone. Trying to protect her brother, she is careful not to reveal to Reyes to whom she spoke. After hanging up the pay phone, Jeb kills the first woman he can get his hands on. Doggett goes to visit Scully in the hospital where she is resting from a placental abruption. They have a heart to heart about how to find acceptance of the sort of things which they see in the X-Files. She tells him that the key to her acceptance was realizing that she had been simply afraid to believe. While Doggett goes to follow a lead on the fugitive, Scully tries to appoint Mulder as her official Doggett-walker. Doggett and Reyes arrive on the scene of Jeb’s post-phone call murder. As Doggett approaches the body, he has a brief vision in which he sees the body as charred beyond recognition. Not that he’s willing to tell Reyes about it. Still, Reyes has developed a cockamamie theory. According to her, some sort of ancient evil had left the man dying in the flaming car and settled into Jeb, causing him to act on his darkest impulses. Elsewhere, Katha and her daughter return home from the grocery to find Jeb waiting for them. Katha plays along with him until she gets a moment to call the agents. Jeb takes his niece hostage, but Reyes is able to get a round out of her gun and shoot him in the throat. Doggett is finally ready to deal with his vision of his own son’s burned corpse. Mulder waxes theoretical about evil as a sort of virus, which settles into people’s souls when their spirits are at their weakest. Jeb dies as Reyes and Katha look on. Something inside Jeb passes into his sister, and she savagely attacks Reyes with a fire extinguisher. Katha blames Reyes for her brother’s death (and, to be fair, she was the one who shot him in the throat), and acts upon an impulse to attack her. The evil strand has passed on into Katha now. Doggett arrives in the nick of time and captures Katha. While the premise of this episode was a stretch even by the generous standards of the X-Files, this episode is the first glimpse of the show’s next season, with Doggett and Reyes working a case together. The other thing that makes this story worthwhile is that there are precious few episodes with Mulder and Doggett working side by side, which is sort of a shame. Mulder’s thoughtful yet impulsive approach to every situation both offsets and meshes well with Doggett’s contrasting tendency toward a headstrong approach, but only after gathering as much information as possible. So, while I understand perfectly well the reason for Mulder’s eventual departure from the show, I can’t help but feel a wee bit cheated that we didn’t get more opportunities to witness the fascinating dynamic of this collaboration. Take the next episode as a case in point… S8E18: “Vienen” (w: Steven Maeda/d: Rod Hardy) The shooting for this episode was a little more complicated than some episodes. Part of it was filmed on an actual oil platform in the Pacific Ocean, part was shot in a decommissioned oil refinery, and the rest on a Los Angeles sound stage. It was time for Mulder to officially turn the X-Files over to John Doggett in order for the show to move forward into the next season, and this was the way to make that happen. It would also put a ribbon on the mystery of the Black Oil which has been present in the canon for several years, having been introduced in the third season (“Piper Maru”), and a major plot point of the first feature film. The title of this episode translates from Spanish as “they’re coming.” Who’s coming? We won’t find out in this episode, but some more pieces of that puzzle fall into place. Aboard the Orpheus, an oil drilling platform in American waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the workers have discovered an untapped oil field that probably extends out into Mexican territory. Simon de la Cruz, a Mexican worker on the platform, enters the radio room. After stabbing the operator, de la Cruz turns his attention on the radio itself. As he attempts to destroy the equipment, another oil worker named Bo Taylor enters the room and begins to aggressively glow at him. Back at the FBI, Mulder does a little under-the-table maneuvering to ensure that Deputy Director Kersh has no choice but to send Agent Doggett out to the rig to open an investigation into de la Cruz’ death. Scully is to remain at headquarters to make sure the victim’s radiation-burned body is sent back to Mexico properly. Mulder is ordered back to his desk. Naturally, when Doggett arrives at the oil rig the next day, Mulder has already been there for a couple of hours. Doggett reluctantly joins Mulder to interview Taylor. They listen to his story about de la Cruz’ attempt to blow up the platform, but both recognize that he is lying. A new communications officer has arrived with Doggett, and has set to work installing a replacement for the radio de la Cruz destroyed. Once it’s transmitting, the new guy notices a high-level frequency transmitting through the radio. Before he can investigate its source, Taylor attacks him. Scully takes the opportunity to examine de la Cruz’ body before shipping it back to his home country. She finds that he is covered in extreme radiation burns, and jumps back when Black Oil issues out of his head. She relaxes when she realizes that it is inert and not crawling across the table toward her. Her suspicion is that it was somehow killed by the extreme radiation exposure which killed its host, even though Purity itself bears radioactive properties. Under her radioed advisement, Doggett and Mulder make the unilateral decision to quarantine the platform in order to contain the alien ooze. They quickly realize that one of the workers is missing. The other workers inform them that the missing one is named Diego Garza and he was a friend of Simon de la Cruz. Naturally, finding the missing chum of the guy who supposedly tried to blow up the rig becomes something of a priority for the agents. A Molotov cocktail is thrown into the communications room, destroying the radio equipment (again). Mulder begins fighting the blaze. When Doggett runs to find another fire extinguisher, he is struck from behind by Garza, who drags his unconscious body away to a hiding place. Once there, he cuts Doggett’s arm to see the color of his blood and determine whether he’s infected like the other men on the rig. Doggett tries to question Garza, but their interview is severely limited due to Doggett’s limited Spanish. Back in Washington, the mierda hits the fan between Kersh, Skinner, and Scully. The Deputy Director orders the quarantine lifted. Scully has formed a theory that de la Cruz (and probably Garza) is immune to the virus because of a regional genetic purity in their makeup. They are both from a fairly isolated region of Mexico, and their genes were somehow resistant to infection. Scully believes de la Cruz was killed because of this resistance. After getting a small bit of information from Garza, Doggett leaves him to find Mulder and then find a way for all three of them to get off the rig. While searching, Doggett is attacked by Taylor. The agent gets a first-hand look at the black oil as it begins collecting in the man’s eyes in preparation to leap into Doggett. Mulder blindsides Taylor before he can swap bodily fluid with Doggett, and the two of them are cornered into the burned out communications room by the entire company of alien-enslaved oil workers. Doggett is able to repair the radio enough to get a message out to Scully, but Mulder swiftly destroys the radio, realizing that the equipment was being used to relay commands from an alien ship to the men aboard. The Black Oil was acting as a sort of receiver for extraterrestrial commands coming as a high-frequency code through the radio. After Mulder breaks the array, the men trying to break in to convert them wander away. Doggett and Mulder head back to collect Garza. It’s too late, though. He’s been irradiated like his friend before him. The two agents make their way to the top of the platform before realizing that the workers are in the process of blowing the place up. As a helicopter approaches, they both jump from the top of the platform into the Gulf of Mexico so that they can be picked up by the helicopters. Back at the FBI, Mulder tells Doggett that he has shouldered all the responsibility for this imbroglio, earning his walking papers. Kersh got his birthday wish granted and was able to fire Fox Mulder at last. The X-Files are entirely in Doggett’s hands now. Whew. What a way to pass the torch. Who else really wants to see Kersh get bitch-slapped? This episode was to become the last encounter with the creepy Black Oil virus otherwise known as Purity. It would be discussed in the series finale next season, but it wouldn’t really be a factor in that plot. So this was it, and what a way to send it off. The destruction of the platform would shut down the access to the new oil field, effectively saving the entire oil-consuming planet from becoming enslaved at our gas pumps. It seems there might be a cynical socio-political discussion to be had about our dependence on fossil fuels to be had here, but it’s late and I’m tired. So I’m just gonna avoid any sort of indictment of the oil barons whose craven lobbyists have enslaved our political system and fattened their coffers to the detriment of the entire planet. That’s not what this episode was about at all, so it just wouldn’t be professional to try to shoehorn my petty opinions into this forum. No, let’s just take this episode at face value. Action movie good. Big ‘splosions go boom. S8E19: “Alone” (w: Frank Spotnitz/d: Frank Spotnitz) This episode is a cleverly-disguised, yet sentimentally fond look back at The X-Files. It was time to transfer the official mantle of the X-Files over to John Doggett. You know those shows where the writers get lazy and spend an entire episode letting their characters sit around spewing framing sequences for clips from older episodes? Spotnitz could have gone that way. But (thank God) he didn’t. Instead, the long-time executive producer, writer, and all-around Chris Carter co-conspirator used his directorial debut to introduce FBI accountant and X-Files fangirl Leyla Harrison. The character was named for a well-known fan of the show and writer of online X-Files fan fiction who had died in early 2001 from skin cancer. Agent Harrison on the show has an encyclopedic knowledge of the X-Files, acquired by having filed and checked Mulder and Scully’s expense reports for years. Throughout the episode, she makes reference to earlier cases, and even has a genuine squee moment when she gets to meet her two favorite agents. She would appear once more in season nine’s “Scary Monsters.” For its part, this one is a little bit silly and a whole lot sentimental, but its conceit really is an effective way to end an era. And it’s not nearly as contrived as a clip show would have been. In a small cottage in Ellicott, New York, Gary Sacks cares for his wheelchair-bound father Arlen. While Gary makes dinner, he hears a noise and rushes to check on the ailing man only to find his wheelchair overturned and the old man missing. The front door is ajar, prompting an increasingly alarmed son to run outside where he is attacked by some sort of long-tailed creature which shoots venom into his face before the attack. Arlen’s body is found, but Gary goes missing. Back in Washington, Scully is cleaning out her desk in preparation to take her maternity leave. She finds her fused penny and dime (from “Dreamland”), poor little Queewueg’s dog tag (her dog was last seen in “Quagmire”), and the Apollo 11 commemorative keychain Mulder had given her as a birthday present (in season four’s “Max”). As Doggett enters the office, she gives him the keychain, telling him that it is a symbol of the teamwork required to successfully pursue the X-Files. Doggett rightly suspects that she does not intend to return to the FBI after her maternity leave. Just after she leaves, another woman enters the office and introduces herself to Doggett. Her name is Leyla Harrison and she is thrilled to inform him that she is his new partner. The newly formed team makes its way to western New York State to help investigate Sacks’ disappearance. Along the way, Doggett learns that his new partner lacks any field experience, but begged Kersh for the assignment after years of auditing and processing Mulder and Scully’s travel logs in the bureau’s accounting office. “What she lacks in field experience, she more than makes up for in enthusiasm” are most assuredly not the words going through Doggett’s mind as he becomes better acquainted with his new partner. At the crime scene, they follow a trail through the woods to a nearby mansion, while Harrison speculates about liver-eating mutants (referring to Eugene Victor Tooms from season one’s “Squeeze” and “Tooms”), subterranean plant men dragging their victims underground (like in season five’s “Detour”), and even the alien creatures from the sixth season’s opener “The Beginning.” Inside the mansion, Doggett finds everything to be covered in plastic. On a desk is a copy of Richard Leaky’s paleontological treatise “The Sixth Extinction,” which may or may not have been the namesake of the seventh season’s opening episodes. As they further explore the seemingly-abandoned mansion for clues pertaining to the nearby abductions, Doggett sees a large reptile of some sort. He sends Agent Harrison outside to cover the front door while he tries to flush it out. Soon Doggett hears gunshots outside and rushes out to find evidence that his partner has been dragged across the front lawn. Following the trail, he falls through a trap door at the edge of the woods. Scully, having discovered the body of Arlen Sacks on a table just waiting to be autopsied, indulges her compulsion and examines him. Mulder wanders into the bay wearing his guest pass (lest we forget he was fired from the FBI at the end of the last episode), presumably to collect Scully for her maternity leave. She concludes that Arlen Sacks was blinded by some sort of reptile venom. She also tells Mulder that Doggett and the other agent investigating haven’t reported in, leading Skinner to suspect that something has happened to them. Meanwhile, Skinner has undertaken a manhunt for his missing agents. Mulder arrives and tells Skinner that he was in the area and wants to take a walk in the woods. While wandering around, he finds the Apollo 11 keychain in the grass near the mansion just as he is approached by Dr. Herman Stites, the owner of the mansion. After speaking with Stites, Mulder leaves the area. Under them, Doggett and Harrison have found themselves in an old bootlegging tunnel. Both of them are attacked by the lizard creature which sprays its blinding venom into their eyes. Stumbling through the tunnels, they find Gary Sacks. He’s not in good shape. As it turns out, the venom enters the victim’s body through the soft tissue of the eye, hardening the epidermis into a shell to contain the softened, easily digested internal organs. He dies before the agents can move him toward a possible way out of their shared trap. Topside, Mulder has been lurking in the woods, fostering his suspicions regarding Dr. Stites. He spots the reptilian man crossing the lawn, follows it into the house and down into the tunnels where he finds the two missing agents. They are all attacked by the creature, but Mulder avoids the blinding venom, losing his gun in the process. He has to direct the blinded Doggett in order to shoot the creature, proving once again that teamwork is the key to the X-Files. Skink-man is shot in the chest and falls to the floor of the tunnel where he turns back into Dr. Stites. Doggett recovers quickly thanks to treatment instigated by Scully, and Harrison is on the road to recovery. She makes the decision to go back to her desk and leave the X-Files, but is thrilled to be visited by Mulder and Scully. Doggett walks away from them, his face betraying his trepidation at pursuing the X-Files alone. Oh, hey! That’s the title of the episode! One can consider this to be a coda for what Carter and Spotnitz thought of as the “Mulder and Scully Era” of the X-Files. In retrospect, Mulder and Scully were and always will be very much the heart of the show, but at this stage in the series’ production, the staff was optimistically facing the prospect of season nine and a truly new beginning for the show with Doggett and his new partner taking center stage. Gillian Anderson was still considering a departure at the end of this season, and it would become clear over the next couple of episodes that Fox Mulder had things to do that would be best accomplished without the hindrance of Kersh and the rest of the FBI. As a defacto sendoff, this episode gives us some true moments of fan service, particularly in the hospital room at the end. It also weans Doggett from his reliance on the past to push forward. Sure, he has read every X-File, but with the unique nature of the unit, that sort of encyclopedic knowledge rarely proves useful, as is proven almost fatally by the experience of his temporary partner during this episode. Agent Harrison, while a cute plot device, was also a knowing nod to the casting process that eventually brought Gillian Anderson into the role of Dana Scully. Looking back at that process, David Duchovny was cast pretty early before the pilot was shot, but the role of Dana Scully took a bit more time. This was largely due to the fact that the network was pushing for a blonde bombshell in the role, but Carter (and Duchovny) had other ideas. The battle was waged, and eventually the show’s creator and star won the day. Agent Harrison rather personifies the idea of what could have been if the network had gotten their way. But now it would appear that Doggett has to find his own way without a Dana Scully or even a Leyla Harrison. While it is very convenient to have a forensic pathologist/medical doctor/resident super-genius like Scully for a partner in cases like the ones he’ll encounter on this assignment, to say nothing of the assistance of Mulder in the past few cases, Doggett realizes it’s time to be on his own and use the resources available to him to keep the X-Files open for as long as he possibly can. S8E20: “Essence” (w: Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners)/S8E21: “Existence” (w: Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners) At least this time Carter was able to make a plan. At the end of the previous season, it was uncertain all the way through the production of the season finale whether the show would be back for another season. The network withheld their decision until after production was complete, causing some considerable anxiety for everyone involved. This season ended with a different kind of uncertainty, however. Carter had often said that he wouldn’t want to continue the X-Files without David Duchovny, but he had weathered that particular storm for half of season eight and found creative vitality in his show despite Mulder’s extended absence. Now it was time to part ways with Mulder for reals. And that was probably going to be ok. Doggett was a strong character, Reyes was beginning to grow on us, and the rest of the supporting cast had developed enough depth to keep things chugging along indefinitely. There was one factor that likely caused a few sleepless nights in the Carter household. Namely, Gillian Anderson’s contract with the show ended at the end of this season. Just as he had always sworn he couldn’t make the X-Files without Mulder, it had become exceedingly clear that Scully was every bit as important as her obsessively driven partner. Personally, I might even argue her role in the series as being even more indispensable than Fox Mulder’s. In fact, Carter seemed to suffer a similar sentiment, as evidenced by the negotiation of a generously rewarded extension of his lead’s contract. The blinding accomplishment of this two-part finale is the way it so effortlessly threads seam between story elements harkening back to the series’ very first episode eight years previously while still introducing new elements that would steer the narrative for the foreseeable future. Scully’s mother, with the very best of intentions, hires a woman named Lizzy to be her daughter’s girl Friday during the last few weeks of her pregnancy. Lizzy, however, quickly reveals her inner sketchiness by secretly replacing some of Scully’s medication with pills she pulls from her pocket. Elsewhere, the newly-reborn Billy Miles pays a visit to Zeus Genetics (remember that place with the wall-o’-deformed-fetuses from “Per Manum” earlier this season?). While there he kills Dr. Lev with his straight-outta-Mortal-Kombat decapitating karate chop. Then he torches the joint. Mulder rings Doggett’s doorbell and informs him of the fire at Zeus Genetics in an attempt to spur the agent currently assigned to the X-Files to look into the situation. Mulder tells Doggett that Dr. Lev had been connected with Dr. Parenti, Scully’s former obstetrician. They go to Parenti’s office, where they find another wall of deformed fetuses (he and Dr. Lev must have used the same decorator for their offices). Lizzy finishes her day at Scully’s apartment and is picked up outside by Duffy Haskell. Haskell had also appeared in “Per Manum” where he posed as the bereaved husband of a woman killed during the birth of her alien child at the hands of Dr. Lev, even though it was later revealed that he was in cahoots with Lev. Back at the bureau, a fellow agent of Doggett’s named Crane teases Doggett about working with Mulder. Meanwhile, Billy Miles attacks Dr. Parenti, decapitating him with one slash of his bare hand. Mulder and Doggett arrive on the scene, and Doggett fires several rounds into Miles. The bullets barely slow him down. They escape and regroup at Scully’s apartment. Scully, for her part, discovers that Lizzy is tampering with her meds and sort of goes ballistic. Tests conclude that Lizzy was guilty of slipping her prenatal vitamins. Lizzy confesses that she has been monitoring the baby in order to fulfill some plan set in motion by the Syndicate. However, she attests that the baby Scully is carrying is perfectly human, without the slightest sign of anything alien. Billy Miles turns up at Scully’s apartment, but she isn’t there when he arrives, thanks to Mulder. Well, at least until they get to Mulder’s car and discover just how big of a dick you have to be to park your car in Georgetown. While Mulder struggles to parallel un-park the car, Billy rounds the corner and proceeds toward them, showing how he earned his Certificate of Completion from the Robert Patrick Actors’ Clinic on How to Walk Exactly Like the T-1000. Another car barrels around the corner behind them, ramming Billy. Krychek is behind the wheel. Seeing no alternative, Mulder and Scully get into the vehicle of their least-favorite serial opportunist. Krychek, who somehow always manages to know exactly what’s going on (seriously, the guy really should have had his own spinoff to fill in the gaps between his appearances on The X-Files, don’t you think?), tells Mulder and Scully that Billy Miles and others like him are out and about trying to destroy anything that might help humanity resist the coming invasion. They regroup at FBI headquarters, where Skinner and Doggett await them. Doggett has made secret arrangements with Agent Monica Reyes to extract Scully from what is increasingly beginning to seem like a war zone. As the womenfolk head for the hills, Skinner and Mulder play Road Runner to Billy Miles’ Wile E. Coyote on the roof of the J. Edgar Hoover building. In a shot that a more sports-minded writer might find analogous to a Lebron James buzzer beater, Mulder pushes the Energizer Billy over the side of the roof and into the back of a passing garbage compactor. As Reyes drives out of the garage with Scully, Agent Crane steps out of nowhere (is he moonlighting as a parking attendant?) and motions them out of the parking garage. As they drive away, it is revealed that he has those telltale ridges on the back of his neck, just like Billy Miles and Knowle Rohrer earlier in the season. I don’t know what club these guys are in together, but it must include a gym membership. Billy Miles’ remains are brought into an autopsy bay in a metal box. It’s a little known fact that Washington DC garbage trucks are also used to grind the hamburger for a certain unspecified fast-food burger chain. As they sift through the remains, one of the lab techs finds an object that looks like a shiny metal vertebrae. The men leave the object on the exam table and leave the room. As soon as they leave, the vertebrae begins spinning on the table, replicating itself as it does. Meanwhile, Reyes and Scully arrive at their destination. Doggett had directed Agent Reyes to his birthplace, the improbably-named Democratic Springs, Georgia. What had likely been a sleepy little village when little Johnny Doggett entered the world is now an off-the-beaten-path ghost town. While Mulder and Skinner attempt to browbeat information from Krychek after watching a video of the reconstituted Billy Miles leaving the morgue, Doggett meets with Agent Crane and Knowle Rohrer. They spin a tale of Billy Miles’ role as the product of a super soldier program staged by the military. Further, they claim that the chip inserted in Scully’s neck at the time of her abduction was what made her pregnant with what will be the first organically-grown super soldier. In Skinner’s office, Krychek looks through the inner door before running out of the outer door into the hallway. Billy Miles enters the office. Skinner beats a hasty retreat, following Krychek into the elevator. The doors close before Miles can reach them, but it appears alien hybrid super soldiers get really cranky when someone doesn’t hold the ‘vader. As he punches his hand through the metal door, he hits Skinner’s forehead, giving him a concussion and a really nasty wound on that beautiful bald head. All the men converge on the hospital so that Skinner can receive treatment, and Doggett informs an incredulous Mulder about what he’s been told. Mulder isn’t buying what Rohrer is selling, and the two men set out to determine Doggett’s informant’s credibility. Meanwhile, in Georgia, a park ranger has arrived and agreed to assist the agents with Scully’s birth. Despite their conditions, Scully and Reyes are beginning to develop a decidedly sisterly bond. Back in Washington, Doggett and Mulder pull into a garage in order to intercept Rohrer, only to see him sitting in another car with Krychek. When Rohrer gets out of the car, Doggett follows him, leaving Mulder to track Krychek. Upstairs in the offices, Doggett sees Rohrer conspiring with Agent Crane. Back in the garage Mulder’s cell phone rings, which betrays his stakeout. Krychek uses his prosthetic hand to smash through the car window and destroy Mulder’s cell phone. With Mulder at his mercy, Krychek is prepared to execute his longtime rival when a bullet rings out. Skinner has shot Krychek through the arm. Then he shoots his hand (the good one). Krychek, still thinking he has the upper hand with Skinner because of his control over the nanovirus floating through the Assistant Director’s bloodstream (see “S.R. 815” and, more recently “Deadalive”). Skinner nearly cracks a smile as he puts a bullet through Krychek’s forehead. Upstairs, Rohrer and Crane discover Doggett’s scrutiny of them and begin pursuit. Doggett is able to get to the basement ahead of the two, and he, Mulder and Skinner are able to escape, leaving both men seemingly for dead. In Democratic Falls, Scully discovers that giving birth in a dirty abandoned ghost town wasn’t the worst case scenario after all as a regiment of silent super soldiers (including the park ranger) enter the room to become the live studio audience for the emergence of the Scully’s baby. It’s just about as weird as it sounds. As the baby is born, the crowd appears disappointed and begins shuffling out of the room. Mulder arrives in a helicopter to see the silent mass leaving the scene. The next day, Doggett informs Deputy Director Kersh that he has circumvented protocol to appoint Agent Reyes as his new partner on the X-Files. He tells his boss that he felt obliged to do so as his unit has opened up an investigation into Kersh himself, accusing him of a late night meeting with Knowle Rohrer. Meanwhile, Mulder escorts Scully and the baby back to her apartment. She informs him that the baby’s name is William, after Mulder father (although her father’s name was William also). With baby William snuggled between them, they share a deep and amorous kiss. It’s starting to feel like this show had more false endings than the extended edition of Return of the King. There was the end of season five, which was intended to be the end of the television incarnation of the series before stepping into feature films. Then there was the end of season seven, which was considered to have been the end all the way up until just before the season finale’s air date. Season eight featured the death of Mulder, which was a sort of ending of his and Scully’s story. But then he came back, only to be fired from his post at the FBI, ending the era of Special Agent Fox Mulder. Then in “Alone,” Doggett accepted his role as the sole caretaker of the X-Files unit, leaving Mulder and Scully to play house, effectively ending their involvement in the titular aspect of the series. And now here we have the definitive happy ending for Mulder and Scully. But wait! Not so fast! We have another season to go! Does this mean we’re going to get yet ANOTHER end for the X-Files? But, of course! First, though, Doggett and Reyes get to hang their unique hats in the basement office, provided the Deputy Director doesn’t find a way to shut them down… See larger image X-files, The Complete Season 8 Blu-ray From the arrival of agent John Doggett to the impending birth of Scully s baby, the eighth season of The X-Files thrills from start to finish. Paired with the skeptical Doggett, Scully relentlessly keeps up the search for Mulder, never relinquishing hope that he is still alive. Ultimately, Mulder s miraculous resurrection proves her right. Meanwhile, numerous reptilian creatures shape shift into human forms, including people familiar to Scully and Doggett, which makes them question who to trust. Clues about a tragedy from Doggett s past emerge as the mysteries of alien life and the paranormal continue to challenge the risk-taking agents. Bonus Features:Disc 1:**Within**Without**Patience**Roadrunners **Audio Commentary on Within by Kim Manners and Robert Patrick**Special Effects Sequence by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**Within International Clips Disc 2:**Invocation**Redrum**Via Negativa**Surekill **Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban**Via Negativa International Clips Disc 3:**Salvage**Badlaa**The Gift**Medusa **Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban**Special Effects Sequence by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**The Gift International Clips Disc 4:**Per Manum**This is Not Happening**DeadAlive **Audio Commentary on Deadalive by Frank Spotnitz**Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban**Special Effects Sequence by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin Disc 5:**Three Words**Empedocles**Vienen **Audio Commentary on Vienen by Rod Hardy**Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban**Special Effects Sequences by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**Three Words International Clips Disc 6:**Alone**Essence**Existence **Audio Commentary on Alone by Frank Spotnitz**Audio Commentary on Existence by Kim Manners**Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban**Special Effects Sequences by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**Essence International Clips**Existence International Clips**Documentary: The Truth About Season 8**Threads of Mythology: Colonization**X-Files Profiles: Gibson Praise, John Doggett and Alex Krycek**Television Spots New From: $18.63 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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