Without 8×2: You say you want to find Mulder but you won’t do what it takes.


Without132.jpg

Because Skinner does need to get out more.

We’re back to the mythology…. and we’re back to the voiceovers. But we’ll focus on the mythology.

I’m happy to see Skinner and Scully both getting their hands dirty in the search for Mulder. They get a lot of action in “Without” if not a lot of answers. Actually, I said we’re going to discuss the mythology, but even as I think about discussing it I realize that there isn’t much to discuss. Have we learned anything besides the fact that the Alien Bounty Hunters are keeping watch over Mulder for some unknown reason that never will be known?

What are the aliens doing to Mulder and why are they doing it? We were lead to believe in “Requiem” (7×22) that the aliens are trying to eliminate human test subjects who, it’s implied, were successfully turned into alien hybrids or something close to it. Mulder himself said the abductees wouldn’t be coming back this time.

Well then, why torture Mulder? Why not kill him and get it over with? I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with assuming that the aliens want more information from his body, and that Chris Carter wanted an excuse to strap David Duchovny naked to a cold chair for hours. Because.

Another plot device that makes me scratch my head is the inexplicable cliff jump.

Doggett has an Alien Bounty Hunter cornered in front of a steep cliff, an Alien Bounty Hunter that he didn’t know was an Alien Bounty Hunter because it was disguised as Mulder, not that he would have believed it was an Alien Bounty Hunter regardless. The Alien Bounty Hunter has a hold of Gibson Praise, living proof of alien life, evidence of which the Alien Colonists are systematically trying to destroy. Since Alien Bounty Hunters can’t be stopped by mere guns, but only by an exact kill shot to the back of the neck, I trust I wasn’t alone in assuming that our next shot of Doggett would be him wallowing on the ground as the Alien Bounty Hunter escaped with Gibson.

That would make sense, but sometimes Chris Carter forgoes making sense and skips straight ahead to improbable plot points. Suffice it to say, instead of killing Doggett or at the very least knocking him down, the Alien Bounty Hunter lets go of Gibson, his prize catch, and runs away from Doggett by jumping off the cliff. Because.

I guess it was just too soon to lose Doggett.

Doggett gets time to grow… eventually. For this episode, his main purpose is to trigger Scully’s spontaneous combustion into Mulder. Scully, having once been much like Doggett herself, a firm believer in facts and evidence, is a little embarrassed at times having to give voice to Mulder’s theories in front of Doggett. She’s not used to having to defend the crazy.

I do get it. Scully’s grieving and is trying to compensate for the loss of Mulder by keeping him alive through his theories, which is why when she’s not acting embarrassed and unsure of herself she’s defensive and defiant.

It’s nice to see some emotions from Scully other than her usual poker face. She’s all over the place mentally: confident, confused, scared, angry, suspicious, frustrated. She’s determined to find Mulder, who is frustratingly closer than she knows, but she doesn’t know where to start. She’s so desperate, she resorts to wandering the desert in the dark calling his name. If she keeps this up, she really will turn into Mulder, at least the unbalanced part of him.

Anyway, this new plot gives Gillian Anderson more to do and I’m glad for that. Though it must be said that Scully Tears will get old past a point.

But hey, at least she has a new partner to help her dry those tears! Despite Chris Carter’s initial protestations, Mulder is replaced. Doggett is officially assigned to the X-Files by the end of the episode, whereupon he immediately starts making sweet overtures of peace to Scully. I know Scully’s shocked and horrified face speaks for us all.

Verdict:

I’m tempted to say, and I will say, that this was much ado about nothing. No progress whatsoever has been made in the search for Mulder. We’re really just rehashing the Alien Bounty Hunter idea and milking it for all it’s worth, not that I at all mind the chance to see ABH Scully and ABH Skinner. Those tense scenes of suspicion where no one knows who the impostor is are the best parts of the episode. And Scully and Skinner haven’t had the chance to face off with guns since “Paper Clip” (3×2).

But the lack of any kind of progression leads me to believe that there will be no all-encompassing search for Mulder this season. If there were, Carter would have had Scully employ the talents of the yet still living Gibson Praise. After all, he’s a human homing device. No, it looks like we’re not on the hunt but instead we’re settling down for a wait.

If that final scene between Scully and the Alien Bounty Hunter tells us anything, it’s that she can’t be running around like this anymore. She has Mulder’s baby spawn to think about. She’s also come to realize, maybe after wandering the desert at night, that even if by some miracle she stumbles upon Mulder’s spaceship, what then? I guess the thing to do is to settle back into a routine working on the X-Files and see what new clues drop into our laps.

There is one tantalizing mythology tidbit, though. Doggett is likely being set up to fail by Kersh. And we already suspect that Kersh is obeying orders from somebody. So who is it who wants Mulder hunted down but not found, and why?

I’m not overly impressed by all this shuffling of the feet without any forward motion. But I am curious, which is more than I could say for all of Season 7.

And you know that creepy shot of all those Alien Bounty Hunters surrounding Mulder’s torture chair? Enjoy it. You’ll never see Mr. Bounty Hunter again.

B+

Question:

How did Gibson Praise’s hideout miraculously cover itself back up with sand after his friend Thea went down in it? For that matter, what kind of secret hideout has a door you can’t hide? And just because Thea is deaf doesn’t make her stupid. I can’t believe she traveled for miles to a secret den because of an imminent threat, yet never once looked behind her to see someone following her in the open desert.

Best Quotes:

Scully: I promise. I’m not going to let anything bad happen to you.

Gibson Praise: You said that to me once before.

 

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20 responses to “Without 8×2: You say you want to find Mulder but you won’t do what it takes.

  1. Oh my… The sand on the trapdoor. I paused the episode for 10 minutes to think about how they could make that work from the inside only to find out that
    A/ I was too stupid to understand how boy wonder Gibson’s cunning camouflage talents work.
    B/ it was just stupid, because impossible.
    I’m happy to hear there are more people on the B-side.

    And Kersch. Wow, do I HATE this character. Yes, we are all supposed to hate him. But I hate him even more because of how one dimensional he is. He just seems to be evil for evil’s sake. He doesn’t care about solving cases or keeping people or his agents safe, which is something I do believe a director at FBI should probably strive for.
    Please let him be a pawn in a conspiracy because otherwise he will probably become the most frustrating cardboard character in the whole series for me. I guess I’ll have to find out…

    • I agree. If Kersh is a jerk merely to be a jerk, than he’s a stock character and serves no purpose other than to be an obstacle. If something else is going on behind the scenes, then my interest grows.

  2. I actually enjoyed season 8 more than season 7 (with the exception of a few episodes). On my first watch of S8, I remember thinking what a jerk Doggett was and that Chris Carter could have done better with both the actor and character. However, after seeing Doggett’s character develop, I had my aha-now-I-get-it moment. He’s a perfect foil for the emotional Scully that can’t look at a hangnail without becoming teary-eyed. I think that Scully needs Doggett just as much as she needs Mulder (in a different way, of course). As an aside, I also remember wondering when Robert Patrick-John Doggett was going to break into a run with his arm turning into a sharp, glistening knife. Much to my surprise, his T-1000 character was forgotten by me after those first episodes.

    • I’m a bigger fan of Season 8 than Season 7 too, because for all of its faults… and they are legion, there’s passion and drive in the characters again. And the standalone episodes are more focused as well. They’re not playing around anymore. They’re triflin’ (sp?) sometimes, but they’re not playing around.

      I actually liked Doggett the first time around. I thought he was a good fit as Scully’s partner. I would have been mad if he had been a replacement Mulder. That would never have worked. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she needed him as much as Mulder, but I think his lack of exposure to the paranormal forced Scully to face up to her own experiences and the fact that she couldn’t pretend she was still a skeptic like Doggett anymore.

  3. Oooh boy. Here we go. I feel like I’m always in this never-ending emotional tango with Season 8. They made some stupid, stupid, STUPID decisions, but there are some legitimately great moments.

    I won’t go into too much since I’ll have to review everything anyway, but I definitely agree that Scully’s “trying to be Mulder” thing was overdone, out-of-character, and got old fast. So did watching Scully cry. I feel like we traded happy flirty chipper Scully in Season 7 to constantly miserable, depressed Scully in Season 8. Except she’s now pregnant with miracle alien baby, which is apparently something she always wanted, and judging by her “I’m pregnant” declaration in “Requiem” is simultaneously a source of joy and pain for her. So, where’s the joy? That’s more a criticism of the season than these two episodes, but still.

    Ah, Doggett. I think Doggett is too good a character for what he was given, if that makes any sense. I don’t know how else they could have integrated him into the show, but I wish there had been a better way because I would have watched the hell out of it. I think it was TV Mouse who said we needed to have a chance to dislike Doggett before he becomes a main character, and I agree. But I myself was shocked by how much I personally ended up liking him.

    Unfortunately for Doggett, the driving force of the show is and always will be Mulder and Scully – which is why I think they rely so heavily on Mulder’s absence. Mulder’s not here, and that makes the world upside down for Scully and for us. Their relationship is still the driving force. I guess it has to be, whether David Duchovny’s there or not.

    I’m so torn on Season 8 in general because while the story really lapsed in a lot of ways, just on basic points of logic and reason, I think they really upped their game in terms of trying to create beautiful emotional moments. I personally love Mark Snow’s “Scully’s Theme” and the use of music to convey what can’t be spoken (I’m a musician, though, so I’m a sucker for things like that), and that scene where Scully sees the helicopter light coming down from the sky and thinks it might be Mulder took my breath away the first time I saw it. I just thought it was amazingly well done. In other words, the story’s all over the place and everything’s flailing like a fish out of water – but the heart’s still there, even if it’s now melancholy and sad.

    • When it was good it was really, really good and when it was bad it was horrid.

      I think that sums up Season 8 nicely.

      I also think that all the characters, not just Doggett, had to make a lot out of some very frustrating plotlines. We won’t give it away before we get there, but lesser actors could not have created such memorable moments out of what could easily have turned into soap operaish drivel. Thankfully, we didn’t have lesser actors.

      Me, I gave Doggett a fair shake. I resented his having to be there, of course, but I still liked him. I like him even better now.

      Unfortunately for Doggett, the driving force of the show is and always will be Mulder and Scully – which is why I think they rely so heavily on Mulder’s absence. Mulder’s not here, and that makes the world upside down for Scully and for us. Their relationship is still the driving force. I guess it has to be, whether David Duchovny’s there or not.

      HOLD.THAT.THOUGHT.

      And Scully did go too far off the depressed deep end. That’s for dang sure. There must be a happy medium between carefree Scully and angsty Scully. Oh, that’s right. It was Season 6 Scully.

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  5. When Doggett says that he’s now Scully’s partner, I love when she screams, “This is not happening! NOOOOOOO!” Oh wait…I’m sorry. That was me.

    I just don’t like how fast the show is trying to make me like Doggett. No, Doggett, just because you have realized you are a pawn in a bigger conspiracy does not mean you are welcome to hang out in the basement club house. And you most certainly are not allowed to comfort Scully so much. I hate that that is how they make Scully like/trust him. She breaks down, he comforts her. She is in peril, Doggett comes in to save the day. What happened to the strong Scully of olde? Correct me if I’m wrong, but Scully doesn’t fully break down in front of Mulder until Irresistible in season 2, right? But it must be those dang pregnancy hormones! Weepy, pregnant women and their constant need for hugs and saving. Sorry. Am I being too bitter? I SWORE I would be more positive. I just can’t help but get riled up. I don’t like being forced to like someone/thing. I will accept this “Mulder is missing” situation for now, but I don’t have to like it.

    I also thought that Scully should have stayed and wandered the desert looking for Mulder. Gibson, who can read minds, tells Scully that Mulder is close…sooooooo she doubts him? Scully who is all gung ho about aliens now doesn’t believe Gibson can hear his thoughts? I thought that was the one thing she DID believe in? Maybe she should have taken a nap at some point to tap into her psychic connection with Mulder. Maybe she just felt guilty because Gibson called her out on not keeping him safe the last time. Guess the Mulder rescue mission is pushed on the back burner. It only for mythology eps now! Sorry…bitter again. I think I’ll stop on this one.

    • When Doggett says that he’s now Scully’s partner, I love when she screams, “This is not happening! NOOOOOOO!” Oh wait…I’m sorry. That was me.

      That cracked me up. Just so you know.

      Let me try to play apologist for 1013 for a minute…

      I’m assuming they had to rush the Doggett integration timeline because of the schedule requirements caused by David Duchovny’s eleven episode contract. They knew they wanted him to come back toward the end of the season, especially since having what was potentially a series finale without him would be anathema. That means they’ve got to get Doggett “in” before Mulder comes back which gives them roughly ten episodes.

      They also don’t want Doggett and Scully antagonistic too long because Doggett was being groomed to take over as one of the main leads of the show permanently. They knew DD wasn’t coming back for a ninth season and if they had one, Doggett would be the male lead. They can’t have us resent him too long or too hard or we wouldn’t watch him when the time came.

      I actually don’t mind Scully’s tears under the circumstances. I don’t think it’s just the hormones, I think it’s the stress. She’s lost the closest person to her in the world and by killing the Bounty Hunter, she also killed her only link to him… besides Gibson who is grossly underutilized. And the Bounty Hunter had just transformed into a trusted friend and she believed his disguise. That adds to the trauma. Not to mention, her baby was at risk. I also don’t mind Doggett attempting to comfort her. I don’t think he thinks she’s weak or incapable, I think he’s just a nice guy trying to be nice. His fellow agent is hurt so he goes to help. I think they may have tried that tactic too many times in the long run, though. He comes to her aid three episodes in a row and I’m not halfway through the season.

      And Scully did throw a crying fit over Mulder in “Beyond the Sea”… she was more angry than sad there, though.

      It makes no sense that she didn’t go back to Gibson! The only way I can try to make that plot point work at all is to assume Scully was afraid of the risks involved in running around with Gibson. What if another Bounty Hunter attacked her and the baby? It’s still a risk I think Scully would’ve been willing to take, though.

  6. See? I knew you would be the voice of reason. Keep me sane, Salome! I find it hard to get used to this more outwardly emotional Scully, but she IS traumatized about Mulder’s abduction and is probably freaking out about being pregnant. At some point she was bound to snap. I also didn’t think about the fact that her killing the bounty hunter was her last link to Mulder. That really does suck. And yeah…I totally understand why that had to make us like Doggett so quickly. He’s not a bad guy…he’s just “replacing” a beloved character and it’s hard for me to accept. I DO wish she was at least cold to him for maybe two or two and a half more episodes. I just needed more time!

    • Oh, no no no. We don’t truck with sanity around here.

      The problem with Doggett is he couldn’t win for losing. We needed more time but couldn’t have more time.

      In retrospect, his being partnered with Scully was the worst thing that could have happened to him in terms of fan acceptance. Maybe if he could have been around her somewhere on the periphery and helping instead of assigned to the basement office. OR, and here’s a thought, if there had been a clean break for the Mulder/Scully era and he was assigned to the X-Files with no emotional baggage weighing him down. I think people might’ve liked him then.

      • I like that idea. Doggett is just kind of there to help occasionally (maybe more so in the search for Mulder episodes), end the M/S era with season 8 (and goodness knows it could have ended there) and then just bring in Doggett to the x files and be done with it. If only…

        • In a perfect world, I wish they’d brought in some elements of Season 8 into Season 7, clearly finished the Mulder/Scully era at the end of Season 7, then launched into a completely new series, maybe with a few movies they could bring Mulder & Scully back for. But I’m still working out that fantasy, so don’t quote me.

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  10. I’m liking season 8 so far…more than most of 7 that’s for sure. I ‘ll let you know how it goes as the season watching goes on.

  11. I loved ‘action Scully’ in this episode though. And what an amazing shot to the throat through the back of the neck of the alien bounty hunter. I found myself saying ‘wow, go Scully’ out loud!

  12. The funniest part was when Scully sees a light in the desert and she’s striking the same pose Skinner did when he saw the ufo before Mulder was taken away and the screen blacks out and comes back again and it’s a….helicopter.

    Also, why exactly is Doggett assigned to the x-files in the first place? I get that he failed in finding Mulder on logical terms, as Kersh says, but why does that suddenly certify him to take charge of the x-files? Wouldn’t that make Kersh want to distance Doggett from any other paranormal influences??

    And I hope this season does impress me more than it is now (as I have heard from many people that season 8 has better writing) b/c i honestly don’t know how I will survive more than half a season w/o the mulder and scully dynamic.

    P.S. my favorite part was when Scully tells Doggett in deadpan at the hospital, “I’ll cover you just in case someone tries to rip your throat out.”

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