Within 8×1: Nice to meet you, Agent Doggett.


Within55.jpg

Hallo from the outside.

Aliens are eliminating evidence. The X-Files department is over budget. Cigarette-Smoking Man is… dead? Krycek’s not. Skinner’s a believer. Scully’s pregnant. Mulder’s been abducted by aliens. Chris Carter got us into this mess, how’s he going to get us out?

And so begins the much maligned Season 8 of The X-Files. I’ll admit I was filled with as much trepidation as anyone at the prospect of a season half without Mulder. Mulder! Chris Carter swore he wouldn’t do The X-Files without David Duchovny, but contract negotiations are a fickle thing. Anyway, there was no way my viewership was about to drop off. I needed resolution. I needed Mulder back.

Scully does too because she’s having his love child. (Boy, I never thought I’d have to type that sentence.) She’s not supposed to be able to get pregnant, so there’s some mystery surrounding that, but Scully seems not to be overly concerned with that right now. Her first priority is finding her baby daddy. Fortunately-Unfortunately for Scully, she and Mulder are still so connected that she’s witnessing his alien torture sessions in her sleep. I’m glad to see that psychic link the two had in “The Blessing Way” (3×1) is still live and intact.

In keeping with Scully’s new position as the Queen of Angst, she’s been given new theme music so that every time she thinks sad thoughts about Mulder we can know about it. It’s good. It’s mournful. Slightly hopeful. It gets old fast. Fast. For those of you who are starting Season 8 for the first time, just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait.

For the sake of interest, Chris Carter can’t let Scully find Mulder too quickly or easily. Here to serve as roadblocks are the newly promoted Deputy Director Kersh, back as the Boss from Hell, and Agent John Doggett, Kersh’s current golden boy who’s been assigned to find Mulder.

We haven’t seen Deputy Director Kersh since “One Son” (6×12), when he was still Assistant Director Kersh and he handed the X-Files back over to Mulder and Scully, and Mulder and Scully back over to Skinner. Kersh was always a bit of a mystery, since he never quite appeared to be a part of the Syndicate conspiracy, yet he was an unsympathetic obstacle who wouldn’t give Mulder and Scully a break. It seemed he was written to thwart them for thwarting’s sake.

And now? Well, he’s here to thwart Skinner. I’m sure of that. Skinner’s a new believer in aliens, and like any good convert, he wants to share his convictions with the world. Kersh has made it clear that if he does his job is finished. Scully can’t afford to lose both of the g-men in her life, so she persuades Skinner to stay in the closet for the time being. We’ll see how this mini drama plays out over the course of the season, because for the life of me I can’t remember.

Kersh is also here to thwart Scully. I’m sure of that too. What I’m not sure of is whether he’s doing it because he’s a grumpy old man who likes to be difficult or whether he’s receiving orders from on high. If he’s receiving orders from someone, who? CSM is dead(?). The Syndicate is dead. Is there a new conspiracy we need to know about? Please let there be a conspiracy…

As for Doggett, I’m not going to get into a comparison of him and Mulder just yet. We’ll wait until he’s officially Scully’s partner. For now, all we know about him is that he’s capable, trusted, and his experience and assignment both put him at odds with Scully.

What I will talk about are the ridiculous ideas that come out of his mouth. Ideas that make no sense. Ideas that we all know Chris Carter put in his mouth just to tick me off. Because he’s a sadist and he enjoys frustrating his fans.

Doggett implies that Scully may not know Mulder as well as she thinks she does and he keeps on implying it. It becomes a theme of the season: Make Scully doubt her relationship with Mulder.

First of all, Doggett is making the same mistake that Diana Fowley made back in “Biogenesis” (6×22). Never question Mulder’s trust in Scully. That kind of crap she can smell without wind.

And then, what? Mulder was dying before he disappeared? What???

Stop it, Chris Carter. You stop it right there.

What in the Good Queen Bess are you trying to do to me now? It’s not enough that Mulder’s gone, you’ve gotta ruin the memories too? Stop retroactively killing what little joy I found in Season 7! He was happy in Season 7! This doesn’t even fit the timeline!

Let me try to get this straight. In Season 7, Mulder and Scully are sleeping together, but she has no idea he’s traveling nearly four hundred miles round trip every weekend. Mulder’s dying of an incurable disease, but devastated as he was when his mother killed herself after hiding her illness, he plans to keep his disease a secret from Scully. Scully and Mulder are happy as clams almost all of Season 7, but what we didn’t know was that Mulder was merely hiding his suffering. He was showing “clear signs of decline” but they didn’t catch that when Mulder went to the hospital in “Signs and Wonders” (7×9) and “Brand X” (7×19), just to name a couple of times. Things are so dire that he already had his name etched on the family grave stone. And all this he manages to hide from Scully, a doctor so brilliant she can diagnose nearly any disease from a single symptom despite never having practiced medicine.

I call revisionist BS.

You know how I know it’s BS?

“You were my constant, my touchstone.”

That’s how I know. So stop trying to mess with my head. Scully doesn’t appreciate it.

But back to Doggett. His practical methods only emphasize the loss of Mulder who is anything but practical. 1013 is taking the “make it hurt good” approach. They don’t merely leave a hole where Mulder once was, or fill said hole with a replacement of the same ilk; they give us someone completely different so that we’ll feel Mulder’s loss more keenly, so that we’ll resent Doggett and resent him but good. They want to heighten our resentment so as to let it run its course as quickly as possible.

If we had to lose Mulder, I think that the characterization of Doggett and Robert Patrick’s approach to playing him was a perfect choice. As I said, I’m going to hold off on discussing his character a little bit until we get to see him on a real X-File, but he serves as a foil to Scully in her current state; Scully, who misses Mulder so much that she’s trying and failing to become him. I guess that’s supposed to be an interesting bit of character development. I find it annoying and easy, which is why it’s too bad that it’s another theme that sticks around for a while.

Scully is emotionally overwhelmed. She’s so desperate for Mulder, she’s falling asleep in his bed in one of the saddest scenes that ever aired on The X-Files. She’s lashing out at Agent Doggett as though resenting him will somehow bring Mulder back. And she’s referring to the basement office as “Mulder’s office.” Huh? Since when?

Mulder’s become a larger presence absent than he ever was in person.

Verdict:

This can only loosely be called a mythology episode. What it really is is an emotional exploration of the aftermath of Mulder’s disappearance. And it’s a setup for a new web of relationships. It also introduces new recurring themes for the season, mostly centered around Scully’s emotional journey. Lastly and only just barely, it leads us into the next chapter of the mythology.

Interspersed we get a few shots of Mulder Torture. I feel bad for him and all, but I told him not to get on that ship.

On top of that, I’m a little concerned that they might not be using David Duchovny’s eleven episodes wisely. But this is just the beginning of the season and only the first in a two parter. They’ll give him much more to do than this. Right? Right?

For all my irritation and misgivings, I’m relieved. I’m relieved to be into the storyline again. I’m relieved to care. At last, something’s at stake.

B

Fish Food:

The new opening credits are a little on the nose, don’t you think?

The teaser was too, but I liked the lead in from the beating heart of Scully’s baby to Mulder’s heart racing as he’s in the clutches of the aliens. And love that Scully is somehow a conduit for them both.

I know they were making a point of it, but that cup of water to Doggett’s face felt good.

Scully, you’re a doctor. Wash your hands in between touching the toilet and wiping your face.

The idea is to find Mulder’s ship. What do they do once they do? Do they climb aboard? Do they call him to come down?

So Skinner’s calling Scully “Dana” now?

Kersh’s reintroduction is delicious. He starts off nice just to be extra cruel.

The way to ingratiate Doggett to the fans is not by using him to drive an arrow through the heart of the memory of what Mulder and Scully once were. Thanks for that. Thank you soooo much.

The jump from spaceship sightings over Arizona to Gibson Praise is a big jump. How does Scully know he’s still in Arizona?

I assume Gibson’s at a school for the deaf so he doesn’t have to listen to people say things they don’t mean.

Best Quotes:

[Morning in Mulder’s apartment]

Scully: [From Mulder’s bed] What are you doing here?

Doggett: I could ask you the same.

Scully: I came by to feed Mulder’s fish.

Doggett: And then you got tired and decided to take a nap.

————————–

Scully: [In front of the fish tank] What do you want to get on me, Agent Doggett? What is it you hope to find?

Doggett: I’m just trying to find Mulder.

Scully: You wouldn’t know where to look. [Searches shelves for fish food]

Doggett: It’s in the desk, middle drawer.

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26 responses to “Within 8×1: Nice to meet you, Agent Doggett.

  1. Wagner invented that musical signature thing. It’s called a leitmotif. It got rid of the need for aria and recitative in opera. John Williams uses it all the time in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones scores. We could call this the “Longing for Mulder” leitmotif (if you know Wagner’s operas, you’ll get the reference to the “Longing for Tristan” leitmotif- same longing, different reason).

    • My experience with opera is small, I’m afraid. But leitmotifs I know. I had no idea Wagner was responsible, though.

      The problem with the “Longing for Mulder” leitmotif is that it’s grating after about three episodes.

      • So is “Longing for Tristan…”

          • Sargon1, my hero! Totally agree with you on the Tristan chord. Gawd. But since we’re on the topic, there are several good leitmotifs in the X-files. My personal favorite is the deliciously creepy ascending pizzicato (plucked) strings whenever a MOTW is introduced or something particularly scary is about to happen. It sounds just like the tingles on your spine feel.

  2. Excellent Review. Spot on!

  3. Oh god…we’re finally at season 8. I went in with an open mind and this episode was actually better than I remember. There is drive and a reason to be searching. The show got a much needed jolt of electricity because I actually care about the whole plot and the conspiracy again. I like that they brought back Kersh and that Skinner is more involved. The Lone Gunmen! Although I’m surprised that Skinner, and not Scully, was the first to run to them for help. They are honestly her best resource at this point. Scully knows that and they actually CARE about Mulder.

    They do a good job with making me feel Scully’s loss and loneliness and longing for Mulder. That theme song twists the knives that were plunged into my heart from Requiem. Aside from seeing Scully sad and crying (which happens a hell of a lot this season) and sleeping in Mulder’s bed, what kills me is when she calls her mom and leaves that tearful message on her answering machine. I wish we really got a scene where we see her actually get comfort from her mom. I love Maggie Scully and her hugs can heal anything! It would kind of be a call back to the times when Scully was able to vocalize her feelings and fears to either the work therapist or her priest. I love those moments.

    But then there was something that I completely forgot was brought up in this episode: Mulder’s illness. I thought we only saw it in The Gift (another brilliant use of DD’s 11 episodes *please note the sarcasm*). They seriously want me to believe that during the lightest season when M/S were actually at their happiest that Mulder was DYING? He found a genie last season! A GENIE!! If he was REALLY DYING maybe that would have been his first wish. Aside from that, I’m expected to believe that he would keep it a secret from his BFF, lover, and medical doctor friend? No way. Mulder would have NEVER gotten in a relationship with Scully if he was that close to dying. Scully would have noticed that he was sick because, as you said, she can diagnose any illness with just one hint of a symptom. They have the most trusting relationship ever AND a psychic connection. Mulder would never lie about that. Also…they’re in a relationship. Scully wouldn’t be slightly suspicious that Mulder’s out of town every weekend? This whole story line is such BS that it’s one of those things that I just forget and pretend never happened. I maintain my sanity better this way, especially since there are more horrible things to come in the next season that I’m stuck accepting because it plays a bigger role in the story as a whole.

    Last note, and this applies to all of season 8, Scully looks great! This season is one of my favorites for her hair and her wardrobe got even better. So…at least there’s that.

    • It’s better than I remember too. I remember mostly being right and highly horrified by the “Mulder was dying anyway” effrontery. And did they have to put up his tombstone in the middle of the F.B.I. cattle room???? The very idea that the frivolity of Season 7 was masking grief and drama is ridiculous. But they had a way of keeping interest in the present by re-manufacturing the past in Season 8. Because everyone knows we’re still in this for Mulder and Scully. And to get Mulder and Scully, they had to go back to the past. But I’ll harp on that later. Personally, I skip these episodes on my usual rewatches and pretend it never happened too. Funny how it has no bearing on the outcome of the series.

      And, please, please don’t get me started on “The Gift.” It’s too soon. I’m not ready.

      But, yes. Scully is styling. And it looks like her push-up bra is here to stay.

  4. Everything Amanda said.
    It drove a knife through my happy shipper heart when Chris wanted to make us believe that BS about Mulder’s illness and destroyed happy season 7 memories. It doesn’t make sense at all.
    That was the point when I started to dislike or at times hate season 8. I still haven’t recovered after all this time and pretend this storyline never happened.

    • Me too. I ignore it altogether. And you know what? Everything still fits. That’s how you know it didn’t belong there, because you can cut it out without ruining anything.

  5. Okay. Maybe I’m just not remembering the Gift that well. I might’ve skipped it actually… but I always just convinced myself that this was the FBI conspiracy slipping that shit into Mulder’s disappearance files. And that the reason he was taking those trips to North Carolina was for the fertility clinic referenced in Per Manum, you know, because at the clinics in Washington D.C., somebody might see them that they know. You can’t convince me that Scully wouldn’t know he was going to N.C. for something.

    • I am gutted to have to report that, yes, “The Gift” serves to confirm Mulder’s illness.

      Had it been a conspiracy to cover the true cause of Mulder’s disappearance, it would have been a lot more interesting.

  6. Long time reader – first time commenter! I’m really loving reading these reviews in gearing up for the revival

    But onto the real issue here – technically Scully DID know part of why Mulder was going to NC – remember before Doggett brings in that damn tombstone she tells him Mulder was driving out to ‘see’ his mom who is buried in Raleigh … So she did know why he was going … Mostly …

    They also bring up the ‘brain disease’ crap again in ‘Three Words’ with a kind of throw away line from Scully saying there’s no trace of it after his recovery, so there’s that too …

    I keep trying to find a way that it COULD make sense in the context of the last season but it just doesn’t – there’s no way to truly reconcile such BS with the canon

    • I think she was guessing when she said that.

      DOGGETT: I showed you those car rental receipts. Well, now I find Agent Mulder’s Visa was used two days ago in Raleigh, North Carolina.

      SCULLY: Two days ago? By who? For what?

      DOGGETT: Flowers. Automatic debit to a mortuary there.

      SCULLY: [With relief] Mulder’s mother is buried in Raleigh. That’s the reason he was going every weekend.

      I think when she heard NC, flowers, mortuary, she figured Mulder must’ve been visiting his mother. Because earlier, when Doggett shows her the rental car receipts, she’s disturbed to see Mulder was traveling so far and she had had no idea.

      I know I keep saying it, but 1013 developed a habit of throwing out plot lines with massive implications and then suddenly resolving them deus ex machina. There went Scully’s cancer, there goes Mulder’s brain disease.

      I thought I had a hard time retrofitting the brain disease plot into Season 7, by “Per Manum”, the pregnancy timeline they develop has me throwing up my hands in surrender. It’s actually impossible.

      P.S. Thanks for reading!!!

      • Ah I always felt like she was hiding something when Doggett initially showed her the car rental receipts and that she knew more than she was letting on because she was irritated with him (especially popping up in Mulder’s apartment!) … But I digress, none of that ‘storyline’ makes sense

        then there’s also the whole Doggett knowing where Mulder’s fish food is when Scully can’t find it! What the hell?!

        Ah man the timeline inconsistencies come ‘Per Manum’! I guess we can save those remarks until that actual review 😉

        PS – I’m loving these reviews highlights of my days waiting for the revival!

        • I’m putting the finishing touches on the “Per Manum” review *right now* and I’m having a hard time keeping track of all my various frustrations. The timeline is whacked, yo. That’s the most succinct way I can put it.

          But thank you!! At least we both have something to think about as we wait impatiently for Mulder and Scully to return to us.

  7. Pingback: The Gift 8×11: Are you calling Mulder a liar? | Musings of an X-Phile

  8. Pingback: Per Manum 8×8: Don’t make me guess. | Musings of an X-Phile

  9. Pingback: This is Not Happening 8×14: No frickin’ way. | Musings of an X-Phile

  10. I thought this and the next ep were quite good and a breath of fresh air for me. I wasn’t into DD performances in the last half of season 7 and this one got me interested in the series again..for now. 🙂

    Some serious retconning going on but what do you do when you find yourself with a new season you thought you might not get?

    I like the slow way they are bringing Dogget into the fold of “hey, what the hell is going on here anyway?” of x-Files territory.

    GA is doing a good job of being the grieving lover and take charge gal who wants to find her man again (while pregnant no less).

    I really liked Skinner in the last two eps..Man, they needed to use him more in the past.

    Season 8—I’m in…for now.

  11. First time commenter! Love reading the reviews and comments, I think everyone has the same train of thought as me 99% of the time which is a relief.

    It’s taken me nearly 8 months to get to this point (first time watching the season through) and and I couldn’t agree more that GA as the grieving and pregnant ex-lover is the most painful thing I have ever seen. Also loving the input from Skinner and can feel some sort of a connection forming between Scully and Doggett. What comes of it will remain to be seen.

    Also the whole ‘Mulder was dying thing’ is probably a plot line I’m going to forget about and replace with my own theory that it’s a conspiracy to cover up some other evidence because quite frankly it’s (to quote Scullt and Doggett in Mulder’s apartment) “BS.”

    Some good moments in this episode though and a lot of promise that (hopefully) a riveting storyline is on the way.

    P.s could NOT agree more about Scully looking fab. Although I do like her hair slightly shorter, à la end of s7.

  12. First time commenter, though I’ve been reading your reviews since at least season 5 I think. I’m watching the whole show for the first time, and it’s been a joy to read your reviews after I finish an episode. I love your analysis – almost every time it’s like you are channeling my exact feelings on the episode and putting it into words. So, thank you for all the fun your reviews have provided. 🙂

    Season 7 was… okay. It wasn’t horrible, just mediocre, a bit stagnant. (I still think it was more interesting than some shows currently on TV that are trying to be what the X-Files was). But what really kept me going was Mulder and Scully flirting. Seeing the two of them so obviously happy always put a smile on my face, even in the face of uninspired plotlines. Even in Fight Club, an otherwise terrible episode, I still enjoyed seeing Scully try to guess her way through Mulder’s slideshow.

    Which is why I was very, very unhappy with this start to season 8. Oh, the thing that gave you joy during season 7? It was all a lie. Mulder and Scully weren’t happy. Mulder was dying. He kept a huge secret from Scully. … Um, there is NO WAY. He would NEVER. Is it okay if I just refuse to accept it? So as far as I’m concerned, there was no brain disease. What brain disease? I don’t want to believe. Not that, anyway.

    Part of me doesn’t want to keep watching the series – I know it’s all downhill from here. Besides, I hear that this trend of retroactively ruining good things continues, and I want to keep the memories good. And I’ve never heard good things about season 9, either. But… knowing there are more episodes of the X-Files out there (some of which have Mulder and Scully together again) that I haven’t seen, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist watching anyway. Even though this sad, ill-thought-out retconning will probably be the death of me.

    ps sorry for the length, didn’t realise how long that comment would be! 😛

  13. Hi! Also a first time commenter! Your reviews are funny and accurate, congratulations!
    “But what really kept me going was Mulder and Scully flirting. Seeing the two of them so obviously happy always put a smile on my face, even in the face of uninspired plotlines. (…) Mulder was dying. He kept a huge secret from Scully. … Um, there is NO WAY. He would NEVER. Is it okay if I just refuse to accept it? So as far as I’m concerned, there was no brain disease.” Stella I couldn’t agree more. My thoughts exaclty!
    I have seen some season 8 episodes and as for season 9, I’ve watched only the Truth. I rather prefer to keep them in my imagination just like they were up until season 7:)

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