Alone 8×19: I appreciate your enthusiasm.


alone466

How do I get you aloooone?

“Alone” makes me want to cry and not for sentimental reasons.

It was lovingly crafted as a nostalgic look back at the Mulder and Scully era and as a tribute to the fans by the Godfather of The X-Files, Frank Spotnitz, who both wrote and directed it. It’s dotted with tender little nods toward some of the show’s most memorable moments, a “Dreamland II” (6×5) reference in particular being especially appreciated by me.

But… and I feel like an ingrate and a heel when I say this… I don’t like it.

This episode marks Scully’s departure from the X-Files, Mulder having said goodbye to the basement office last episode. This is the very last Monster of the Week episode of Season 8 and the very last Monster of the Week episode before Mulder’s official departure from the series. Yes, that means that for both Mulder and Scully this is their last chance to solve an X-File together. This is our last chance to see them solve an X-File together, only they don’t.

That’s Doggett’s job now and Doggett’s job “Alone.” So Mulder and Scully are splitting precious screen time with Doggett as he investigates an X-File that was never designed to hold our interest in and of itself.

*whines* Why do they have to share??

I say Doggett’s alone in his new job, but he’s been temporarily assigned a rather green partner. Don’t worry, she won’t last but an episode. Her name is Leyla Harrison which, in a very sweet and genuine tribute, is the name of a fan of The X-Files who passed away from cancer. Her name and this character come to represent all the X-Philes out there and the mutual love between them, the characters and the creators of this amazing, amazing show. I’m not overstating my own emotions when I say I personally consider The X-Files a gift from God.

That’s why I feel horrible when every time I see the Leyla Harrison character onscreen I instinctively resent her and recoil. She’s an annoyance and a distraction. She’s also too literal a representation. I wasn’t too insightful back in the day as a teenager watching this show, but even my dense self realized the wide-eyed Agent Harrison was a stand-in for The X-Files’ legion of fans. 1013… are we really a bunch of silly, awkward little groupies to you? I know I’m slavishly devoted and I squeal a lot, but really. This is insulting.

The above are the complaints of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person. If you’re Frank Spotnitz, I know you were expressing love and I’m sorry. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Moving on to a less sensitive subject, by Frank Spotnitz’s own admission in the DVD commentary, the monster is the least interesting part of this episode by design. The plot merely gives us an excuse and a way to say a bittersweet goodbye to what The X-Files was with Mulder and Scully and to look ahead toward an unknown but promising future with Doggett. It strikes me on this rewatch that the same can be said for every single episode of Season 8 after Mulder’s return.

Did it need to be done? Well, it is and was complicated.

From what I know of Season 8, and please someone correct me where I’m mistaken, the status of the show was in limbo very much like it had been in Season 7. All the way through the writing and filming of the season finale, it remained unknown whether the show would be back for Season 9. What was known was that whether it came back or not, David Duchovny had made it clear that he wouldn’t be back. That means that the Mulder and Scully era would officially end with the Season 8 finale regardless of whether or not Gillian Anderson, whose contract was also up at the end of Season 8, signed up for Season 9. Heck, even Chris Carter was in the midst of contract negotiations with Fox and wasn’t certain to be coming back. He actually swore he wouldn’t do a season without David Duchovny.

I know that’s hard to keep track of, but what it all means is that the latter half of Season 8 needed to serve as both a goodbye to Mulder and Scully and still pave the way for a Season 9 with a new team, just in case there was a Season 9. So instead of a clear and focused goodbye, we’re also getting a rushed and anxious hello, anxious to make sure we love Doggett and Reyes enough to stick around and watch them.

Which brings us to “Alone” and a less than successful attempt to make us as the audience willing to pass the baton on to Doggett as easily as Mulder and Scully appear to be willing to. Doggett’s a good guy and I like him, but all his scenes with Agent Leyla Harrison make me feel is impatient that they’re taking up my time when I could be watching Mulder and Scully. If Mulder and Scully weren’t here at all it might be different, but teasing me with their legendary chemistry in a few brief scenes and then giving me Clint Eastwood and Goldie Hawn is a recipe for discontent.

What I was hoping to see was Mulder and Scully solve an X-File one last time. What I now know is that the last time I would ever see them hunt a traditional monster or villain together in a stand-alone episode was way back in “Brand X” (7×19). Surprise! You never knew it was over.

One thing I would like to be over is this hemming and hawing over whether or not Mulder and Scully are a couple. Take the scene where Mulder picks Scully up for Lamaze class:

Now, at this point, we still had not revealed the paternity of Scully’s baby, although Mulder and Scully presumably knew whether they had consummated their relationship. And so this scene is meant as a tease: Did they or didn’t they? You know, it could well be that Mulder’s just a good, close friend helping her go to Lamaze or it could be more. – Frank Spotnitz

I always thought Scully’s “Thank you for doing this with me” line felt off. Why would she thank the father of her child for participating in the pregnancy and birth? Now I know it wasn’t me, it was 1013.

Trust me, fellas. I was already watching to the bitter end. There was no need to bait me.

Verdict:

I was actually quite emotional by this point in the show’s run knowing that I was about to lose Mulder and Scully. I still get emotional here towards the end of Season 8. You know it’s coming and you know it has to come, but it hurts, dang it. Maybe that’s why I’m so grouchy.

Doggett certainly doesn’t deserve my attitude. It’s not his fault he got stuck with the superfan.

Uncle Frank doesn’t deserve my attitude either, since this is a heartfelt and polished looking effort from the first time director.

No, it’s all sweet but it’s a little too direct.

The best part of the episode has to be Mulder and Scully arguing about how they got back from Antarctica in Fight the Future. That was still a little meta for me, but it was cute. Mulder and Scully can’t help but be cute.

Ugh. I’m gonna miss these two. My poor heart.

C+

Musings:

I believe this was our last Mulder phone ditch. *sniff* *sniffle* *sob*

“Sunshine Days” (9×19), which will end up being not only the penultimate episode of its season but of the series, will give us another take on fans, fandom and nostalgia.

They let Leyla solve the mystery. So there’s that.

Mulder and Doggett have to work together and take a huge risk to defeat the monster, so there’s that too.

What was it the old man told his son to take care of in the teaser?

Mulder’s attitude during he and Scully’s last autopsy together is priceless. It’s not, “I’m gonna miss this, Scully.” It’s, “We’ve got better things to do, Scully.”

Best Quotes:

Scully: How do you know all these things, Mulder?
Mulder: I’m unemployed. I have a lot of time on my hands. Oprah. I watch a lot of Oprah.

———————–

Harrison: Agent Doggett. What happened?
Doggett: I lost my grip… with a little help from the man upstairs.

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22 responses to “Alone 8×19: I appreciate your enthusiasm.

  1. I second this entire post. You captured it all: my whining, my desire to just focus on Mulder and Scully, my dislike for Doggett being the focus but guilt because he’s not a bad guy and doesn’t deserve my hate, my annoyance over Leyla but my guilt because it was such a lovely thing for the writers to do for her (and all fans), sadness that it’s ending without the bang I wanted, sadness, whining, tears. Yup. You’ve covered all the bases 🙂

    I will say that the part of the “Who’s the Daddy” storyline that bothers me is this: what does the paternity of the child really matter in terns of Mulder and Scully being together? If I know Mulder, and I feel like I do, Mulder would love and support that child no matter what. He was together with Scully before Requiem, they tried to have a baby via IVF, he loves her and she loves him, he’s ready and going to be a dad now no matter what, he doesn’t REALLY care where that baby came from as long as it’s healthy and not a crazy alien that will eat them. I bet if the whole Emily situation were happening now, he’d gladly adopt her with Scully even though Mulder isn’t *technically* her father. Mulder knows that Scully wasn’t sleeping around when he was gone, so there’s no need to resent this child. It doesn’t represent anything bad. So they need to end this madness of are they together or aren’t they. THEY ARE, 1013, FOR THE LONG HAUL!

    Ugh…I’m trying to stay positive, but it’s really hard sometimes. Why does 1013 have a tendency to not REALLY wrap things up in a good way when the fate of the show is still in the balance and focus on the stupid things? Just do the characters and the show justice! Not whatever is happening right now…and all last season.

    RIP Queequeg.

    • Also, from what I’ve read, that last part of the conversation between Mulder and Scully about Antarctica was unscripted. That was all David and Gillian and it was adorable.

    • So I wasn’t the only one irritated by Leyla??? Ah, vindication. The thing about watching back in the day – at this point I was watching by myself. Who could I commiserate with?? I had no idea how other Philes felt. I had a best friend who tagged onto The X-Files with me, but she’d pretty much given up by Season 8.

      The paternity storyline only gave us two options: Mulder or little green men. Since neither Mulder nor Scully seem particularly freaked out by what’s growing inside her, and based on their final scene in the finale, it’s safe to say that they believed that this baby was theirs all along. There were just those pesky “What ifs” keeping them up at night sometimes.

      What was weird was the backtracking to making Mulder and Scully’s status as a couple ambiguous. Is Mulder helping his friend have her baby or is he about to settle down with his significant other and raise their baby with her?

      I think trying to keep us guessing on both fronts, whether they’re a couple AND whether this is their baby, was way too much.

      I guess they wanted us to believe that Mulder and Scully were waiting to make sure it was a real baby and not a monster before they decided how to proceed.

      And 1013… Well… I think Chris Carter’s genius is his sense of drama and wonder. He thinks up these really crazy, earth shattering plots. But what sometimes happens is we keep building up to something exponentially huge and then there’s no way to finish or resolve it, no way to show it or live up to it. That’s the danger of living life on the fictional edge.

      It was all worth it, though.

  2. Yeah, I found Leyla too much of an exaggeration of the over-excited fan. They didn’t make her a crazy, over-obsessed fan a la Misery (thankfully) , but I just felt like she was a bit too much. It made her annoying. Is that how they really see all of us fans?

    I just find it so strange that because there was the uncertainty about the baby that automatically correlated to uncertainty in Mulder and Scully’s relationship status. Too much soap opera drama.

  3. AH Layla :/

    I would give her the quote you used from the ep – “I appreciate her enthusiasm” but she rubbed me the wrong way as well – I’m so glad she didn’t stick around. I feel like the only reason they really made her so obnoxious was so that we would all sit there and go “OK OK we’re fine with Doggett running the X-Files! Just get her out of here!”? Cause I know I was even better with Doggett after this ep because at least I knew he was intelligent and capable …

    I think I remember from an interview or commentary, the notion that they had Leyla solve the case because they wanted her to have some sort of redemption and purpose.

    I honestly only really watch the M/S scenes in this one – cause even if it’s just over the phone they are the best thing to come on my TV screen, ever. And the last scene in the hospital is freaking gold!

    • They have a way about them. That’s all there is to it. They put all the other duos to shame.

      But I got that same feeling… that we were meant to be feeling that we wouldn’t really want the X-Files if we could have them. Doggett’s got it covered, only he needs a suitable helpmeet.

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  5. I tried watching this episode back in the day because the Leyla character was a tribute to an actual X Phile (http://fanlore.org/wiki/Leyla_Harrison) so the annoyance factor — not how the actress played the character so much as *how the character was written* — was flat-out uncool and even patronizing. This… in light of the intention for this to be a “tribute” to a fan girl who passed all too soon… this hurts at more personal level. Leyla was a flesh and blood human being who loved Mulder and Scully, as we all do here, and she really deserved a better portrayal.

    ITA — as with so much of this attempt at a season, every minute that ticked by was another minute Mulder and Scully were not together. My irritation knew no bounds. Wasted. Opportunities.

    • I know we’re not supposed to take her characterization seriously, but it could have been awesome of the Phile representative was a supremely confident agent with an interest in Mulder’s work.

      And I felt/feel the same way. The clock is running out on the M&S era and there are people getting in the way! All I wanted was one more “Detour” at least.

      • “All I wanted was one more “Detour” at least.” —> At which point this blog’s participants would’ve held hands and joined in on a rousing chorus of “Joy to the World”.

        But why shouldn’t we take the characterization seriously? It’s not a funny DM/VG script, it isn’t a Hollywood A.D. uber meta episode. I would’ve loved to see the character portrayed as a Scully mentee/protege, given RL Leyla’s Scully love. Now THAT would’ve been an awesome tribute! Oh well. Wasted. Opportunities. *double sigh*

        • It’s not a comedy episode per se, but she’s clearly a comedic character. The final scene between her, Mulder & Scully highlights the comedic undertone to the episode. Even the monster is purposefully of the sci-fi B movie variety. That said, I too would have preferred to see the official fan rep be cool, competent, and capable of helping solve a serious case. That’s the thing with Scully’s pregnancy – it meant she wasn’t available for fieldwork right when we wanted her to be.

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  7. It’s funny, I never saw this episode as a nostalgic look back. Maybe that’s because I binged the show instead of watched it while it was airing, so it was never really nostalgia for me. Weirdly enough, I always saw “Alone” as Doggett’s story and that’s (weirdly, I guess) why I like it. It’s sad and a bit twisted, but I like how they show how Doggett, or anyone else, will never have a partnership like Mulder and Scully have. For me “Alone” was always the last episode that seemed to be aware of what made the series work.

    But, like I said, maybe my position made me come at the episode a little differently. As someone who watched the show years after it aired, I had already felt for a long time that the Mulder-and-Scully era had ended. I feel like it would have been a bit misplaced, or at the least really sad, had they done a one-last-case together thing after being apart the majority of the season.

    • It really is Doggett’s story, to be honest. Mulder has already passed off the X-Files officially, but this is about the fans saying goodbye to what was and hello to what is. Doggett too. It’s about him realizing that he’s in charge of the X-Files now.

      At the end of Season 7, CC swore Scully wasn’t going to have a new partner. So for a while, the expectation was that Mulder and Scully would really be united again. Maybe not on the X-Files, but they’d be fighting evil together. That never really materialized. Then Doggett came. Then Reyes. So by the time we officially said goodbye to M&S they already had one foot out the door Meanwhile, there was an itch that had never been fully scratched. It still feels like we’re missing out on something even when I no longer have those expectations. We needed more time to say goodbye, but there just wasn’t time.

    • I too have binge watched the X-Files over the last few months (although I did watch a few ep here and there when they originally aired) and feel pretty much the same as you do. I have feelings of nostalgia for the earlier seasons at this point in the series but nothing like Salome and others who watched it over nine years.

      I also liked this episode..quite a bit actually. I thought it was well acted. The story was intriguing though as Salome says, the MOTW was not integral to the plot. Now that I understand the reasoning behind Leyla’s introduction I can appreciate it. I was “wth?” while watching tonight.

      I loved the one brief scene when Doggett is in the house and realizes someone or something is in there with him while he’s looking at the book on the “sixth extinction” His eyes and nuanced expression was awesome imo. He definitely does not do sadness…lol.

      At this point I can only restate that I am interested in seeing Doggett and Reyes continue. I think if they had played their cards right earlier in the series this could have gone on for a couple more seasons easily.

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