Patience 8×4: Well, that’s a good place to start.


 

 

Patience04

Nananananananana, Batman!

It was a dark and stormy night. Into the somber old house the undertaker walked, slowly, the floorboards bending beneath his feet, his lanky shadow indistinguishable in the gloom.

I bet you thought George the creepy undertaker was who you needed to be afraid of, huh?

There are a lot of well-founded complaints about the trajectory the mythology takes in Seasons 8 and 9. But if the mythology falls down, the stand-alone episodes start to step it back up.

“Patience” is appropriately named. I’ve been very patient waiting for The X-Files to get back to its spooky roots. I suspect writer and director Chris Carter was waiting for this moment too, because he gives Scully and Doggett an old-fashioned X-File for their first real case together.

This is where I should probably warn you that I like John Doggett.

I’ve been putting off discussing Doggett until he began to be fleshed out as something more than a punching bag for the collective hate of the Philes. Doggett has taken Mulder’s place, if not in all of our affections, undeniably as Scully’s partner. Scully seems as reluctant to accept him as we are, because accepting his presence means also accepting that Mulder is gone. Also, Doggett standing in Mulder’s place makes it impossible to not compare him to Mulder and find him wanting. And how does he compare?

Doggett’s a guy who worked his way up the ladder of respect the old-fashioned way, policing the streets and making a name for himself by being dogged (pun intended), smart, and capable. He’s blue collar to Mulder’s white collar, New England, Oxford educated world. Mulder’s cerebral while Doggett’s practical. Mulder is driven by passion, Doggett by duty. Mulder’s an angsty Batman to Doggett’s non-introspective Superman. He don’t need no stinkin’ psychology.

Doggett has a job to do and he does it. He reminds me of a man from the Greatest Generation, full of a sense of responsibility and honor and integrity for integrity’s sake. If he’s been assigned to the X-Files, then he’s going to read through every one of them. If he’s been assigned to Scully, then he has her back whether or not she wants him to, because he’s her partner and that’s what partners do. How she, or even he, feels about it is irrelevant. This is not the type of guy to sit and dwell on his feelings period.

What eventually wins Scully over to Doggett is the same thing that first won Mulder over to Scully: he’s a skeptic with integrity, willing to take a hard look at the facts however strange they may be, willing to do what it takes to get to the truth.

Now, Scully’s going through some changes. So we don’t expect her to warm up to Doggett too soon, try as he might to prove he’s taking his work on the X-Files seriously. The problem is, he takes a step forward and then trips all over himself. Taking the weekend to go over every single X-File is good. Talking mano-a-mano to a chauvinistic local detective in such a way that Scully can’t hear you even though you’re standing right in front of her is bad. Very bad.

I realize that Carter is setting up this antagonism between the characters both to give vent to his audience’s anger and, conversely, in order to use it to create a stronger bond between them eventually. But I think the plot of “Patience” starts to suffer at the expense of showing Scully and Doggett at odds.

For one thing, Scully’s a little too deep into this “I am Fox Mulder” kick. Scully is and should be more open than she used to be. But her imitations of Mulder’s logic leaps feel forced. Those nonsensical words don’t fall out of her mouth naturally. Not only that, but Mulder’s theories are usually based on his encyclopedic knowledge of previous cases and occurrences. Scully had no mental reference for a Bat-Man, yet the first idea she comes up with when she sees a strange footprint is some kind of were-animal.

Even more importantly to me, the link between the Bat-Man that was killed in 1956 and the Bat-Man that’s killing now is left too vague. For years, I thought the Bat-Man that killed then was the same Bat-Man killing now, that it somehow wasn’t dead and was taking revenge on its enemies. A more logical inference is that the Bat-Man killed in 1956 was a companion to the Bat-Man behind the current killings, and these killings are revenge on the man responsible for the death of its friend.

I like the Bat-Man. I want to know about the Bat-Man. Or is it Man-Bat?

What starts off as a promisingly creepy Monster of the Week episode ends up with the monster uncomfortably sandwiched between Scully’s initial declaration that this is Mulder’s office and she and Doggett are just living in it, to her total turnaround at the end of the episode when she quietly stuffs Mulder’s nameplate into a drawer. Chris Carter was never one for subtlety.

Verdict:

This was a good idea for an episode and it could have played out better if it weren’t bogged down by the necessary growing pains of Scully and Doggett’s relationship. Had this been an X-File in Season 7 when there weren’t any emotional distractions, I think it could have been more successful.

As it is, I still like it. Even with its flaws I actually find it enjoyable. And this is The X-Files; I’m used to not getting all the answers.

B+

Impatience:

Okay, the Bat-Man tracks his enemy by scent. Everyone that’s killed was killed because they bore the scent of Ernie Stefaniuk. Since the Bat-Man appears to plot like a human, wouldn’t it make more human sense to leave those in contact with Ernie alive so as to be able to trace him through them? That’s what he does with Myron, Ernie’s brother.

Why doesn’t the monster kill Doggett?

How did Scully’s massive bruises from “Without” (8×2) heal so fast?

Scully runs the opening slideshow. Cool. She should go ahead and dye her hair brown and cut it like Elvis. What I find interesting is that including this episode, the last four times we’ve seen a slideshow, it’s been used to create distance between partners. “all things” (7×17) – “Field Trip” (6×21) – “Bad Blood” (5×12)

This marks the first time David Duchovny’s ever been left out of the credits. Sadface.

Best Quotes:

Doggett: [Pulls out a flashlight] You ever carry one of these?

Scully: Never {Editor’s Note: I see you, Chris Carter}

 

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26 responses to “Patience 8×4: Well, that’s a good place to start.

  1. Hi Salome, isn’t this episode 3, not 4?

    Maria

  2. I’m on your team. I had an instant liking to Dogget, even though they set him up quite “unlike Mulder and thus unlikeable” from the start.
    He’s a straight shooter. And that came as a breath of fresh air.
    I’m happy I’m not alone… for a while I was contemplating how I would defend myself if this whole blog + comment section would turn full Dogget-hate. I’d like to think I would have defended myself and him. But then again, I would like to think I would be brave enough to cut a worm out of a pregnant woman’s back. And honestly, I don’t really think I am.

    I also had the same feeling about the Scully turning Mulder-trick. I swear, sometimes I think I’ve subconsciously read your blogs before you wrote them. In a way I believe it helped me like Dogget faster than I should have. Just because I don’t believe she would be so unwilling to see things from his side, as his side was her side for a VERY VERY long time. So many times I yelled at the screen: “Come on, Scully, I know you are a sceptic, but you are just being plain stubborn now. You were abducted, for Pete’s sake. Your mind should be more open than it is.” So how does she want Dogget to follow her crazy leads after only just being on the X-Files. Admittedly, he has already encountered coucou stuff, but really… She should be more understanding.

    PS: I loved this episode. I love how it’s not explained who or what the worm is or who these people are. In my opinion, this was a way better second coming of Christ story than the one we get later on.

    • And I just commented in the wrong thread.

    • I can’t say I liked him instantly, but I knew he had to be there and I dealt with it. I came to respect him and then like him. Though a certain plot line later on severely tested my patience.

      All Scully pretending to be Mulder did was make Scully frustrating. It’s like the writers thought there had to be a skeptic and a believer in order to make The X-Files work. No, there had to be a Mulder and a Scully. If they’re not Mulder and Scully, don’t make them pretend to be Mulder and Scully. Imitation isn’t always flattery. But I talk about that in tomorrow’s review.

  3. Okay…I actually enjoyed this one. I completely forgot there was a Bat-Man episode. I’m surprised they didn’t do this sooner because I remember (since I was a kid in the 90s) Bat Boy was all over the tabloids. I feel like he was a big thing back then and I’m surprised the writers were never inspired by that. Maybe they felt it was too obvious a reference to use earlier?

    The thing that annoyed me about this episode is that they are REALLY hitting us over the head with Scully trying to be Mulder and everyone around her calling her crazy and reacting negatively to any of her ideas. I get it 1013. You could have been a TAD more subtle. Scully just hinting at anything supernatural is enough to make us realize what she’s doing. As you said, subtlety is definitely not CC’s thing.

    Scully putting Mulder’s nameplate in the drawer hurts. Couldn’t she have put it out on the bookshelf or something? This really feels like they are shoving Mulder away in a closet until they’re ready to use him again.

    I’m coming around to Doggett. So far I think I prefer him in the MOTW episodes.

    • Really. Did she have to stuff it in the drawer? After all, isn’t that the desk she’s sitting at? She could’ve put it to the side. Emotionally, it doesn’t quite make sense either because he hasn’t been missing for that long. That’s the type of thing you do when you think someone is dead and not coming back. Then you mourn and put their stuff away. If she’s still expecting his return, then she’s just borrowing his desk and should act like it.

      I enjoyed this one too. It wasn’t incredible but it felt like a return to form.

  4. Here’s the thing–I always liked Doggett. Yeah, obviously, not in Within, but mostly because he was being an ass, but I remember very consciously giving the character a chance. I knew everyone was going in season 8 hating this guy but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t blame the character or actor for the lack of Mulder/Duchovny. I’ve never been terribly fond of how Scully became Mulder and Doggett became Scully, but that’s neither here nor there.

    That said, I remember absolutely none of the details of this episode before watching it today, and I know I’ve seen it multiple times. I liken season 8 to season 1, though. Remember all the crap, strange cases in season 1 that just never hit the mark? I felt like X-Files needed to find its footing again, and find a whole new path to follow. I figured if we’d gotten season 10 back in the day with only Doggett and Reyes, it would have been equivalent to season 3 and it probably would have found its stride again. Unfortunately, we never got that chance.

    • I completely agree. I was consciously open to Doggett. I didn’t want him to have to be there, but there was no getting around it and it wasn’t his fault. I still feel bad for Robert Patrick because he did a great job but got a lot of hate.

      I also agree that they were trying to figure things out again. I’m sure it would never have happened, the network would rather finance a sure thing like an established hit show and keep that going, but I would have preferred a clear delineation between the Mulder/Scully era and the Doggett/Reyes era through creating a spinoff. That way they could have started fresh and figure out what kind of cases worked best with their new characters instead of having one foot in the past and the other in the present.

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  7. It’s so nice to see other people liked Doggett – I always enjoyed him and I remember his character and Robert Patrick getting a lot of flack when season 8 first aired and I wondered why

    • It wasn’t his fault. I think The Powers That Be underestimated the fandom’s automatic loathing for anyone who wasn’t Mulder. And even casual viewers didn’t see enough chemistry between them to peak their interest, for the most part.

      Even without the Doggett issue, viewership was naturally falling off after the peak of Season 5. I think people were ready to move on and Doggett happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      • Poor Robert/Doggett

        I understood the loathing I think I just wanted it to be on some basis aside from ‘he’s not Mulder’ – but that’s just me! It definitely took a while to feel any chemistry between Scully and Doggett which is so sad cause I could really see them being friends if they had met initially under different circumstances (though my own head canon is that all four of them [M/S and D/R] are friends to this day…)

        Isn’t that how it goes with TV viewership …

        • OMW, I have a head cannon too… I won’t inflict it on others, but suffice it to say, IWTB doesn’t fit it. Therefore, I choose to ignore IWTB except for when I’m watching it.

          • hahaha ah man there were some great things about IWTB and I will always love that it gave me more M/S and of course, Skinner – but oh man it was just…yeah…

            Now I really want to know what your head canon is! You can’t tease me like that, Salome!

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  10. I have so much more to respond to you as I read through, but quick backstory is that I was not as much involved online during the original run and then during my rewatch leading up to the reboot found your blog, loved it, read each review in tandem but knew when you ended and then just now came back and saw you are back and have been thumbing through in my late night state, but in a nutshell, at least 99% of the time I have agreed with you and wished I was around to discuss when you wrote them. So I will need to now catch up and then delve into discussion…..

    But, since I have nobody in real life who would understand when I say this, let alone appreciate it haha, let me throw this out there as a thought on significant titles and lesser known episodes: listen to (or even just read the lyrics) the actual SONG “Patience” with this episode in mind. By chance it came on the radio the day after I saw it in my rewatch and it was so crazy. Thie verses (apart from gender-specific terms) are very scully-to-mulder at that time, and interestingly when the chorus kicks in it called to mind doggett-to-scully at the time. It is on.the.nose for where scully and doggett were. I have a hard time thinking it is coincidence, but I am of course always looking for conspiracies 😉 (and I’ll never hear the song the same way again)

    • Of course to clarify, I know the song was ages before the ep, just that the naming of it and the timing for the characters completely match up.

  11. Isn’t this episode just Jeepers Creepers?

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