Season 9 Wrap Up – There’s a lot of crap to cut through.


Providence07 (1).jpg

Unbreak my heart.

“Working on a demanding show like The X-Files can take its physical toll on a person. I kept at it pretty regularly for the entire nine seasons,” Chris continues. “All I can say is on the last season of the show, I was writing or re-writing a lot and I would take a nap every day. As the season went on, it became two naps a day. Those nine years caught up with me pretty fast.” – LAX-Files, pg. 220

I would love to officially close out this rewatch of Season 9 and say that it was wonderful, tragically underestimated and that it exceeded my expectations. I would love to be able to conclude that our two new leads stole the show in every sense of the expression, that in the history of The X-Files, Season 9 was a new creation; old things had passed away, all things had become new.

But I can’t. I’d be lying. A new creation was what we needed, but it’s not what we got.

I don’t want this to turn into a diatribe on Season 9, and I also don’t want to expend any more mental energy on Season 9 than I have to for the sake of completion. So we’ll focus on a few main things that I think might have made the season better.

We needed a new mythology.

Because, no. Tacking on the Super Soldiers to the old mythology did not suffice.

I listed a series of questions in the review for “One Son” (6×12) that the Syndicate mythology still had left to answer when it ostensibly ended. But as of Season 6, the mythology had already grown way past anything the 1013 staff had originally hoped for and lasted well past what they had originally envisioned. It had grown large and unwieldy and Chris Carter decided to scrap it and do something new rather than dig a deeper hole and make it even more confusing. Um, that was the goal, anyway.

He did something “new” in “Biogenesis” (6×22) with alien gods, but it was still directly related to the mythology we were already familiar with. Then, with Mulder bowing out in Season 8, the Super Soldiers were introduced so that the new team, Doggett and Reyes, would have something fresh and scary to go up against. But the mystery of the Super Soldiers was tied to the mystery of the alien gods – was tied to the mystery of the Syndicate – was tied to the era of Mulder and Scully. We don’t have to play a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with it, either. The Super Soldiers went directly after Mulder and Scully’s baby and are working for the alien colonists that Mulder and Scully are working against. You can’t think of the Super Soldiers without thinking of the history of Mulder and Scully.

By the time we get to Season 9, not only are we more confused than ever by the connections between the conspiracies, but Doggett and Reyes aren’t on their own turf, they’re still effectively playing in Mulder and Scully’s sandbox. They’ve inherited a through-line so convoluted that:

“I looked at what many people had written about the mythology,” Spotnitz said, “and I was alarmed at how many people who are extremely knowledgeable about the show and had followed it religiously had drawn false conclusions and false connections between things… It was an amazingly complicated, sometimes convoluted conspiracy. I’m just astonished people stuck with it for as long as they did.”

But when I say that we needed a new mythology, I don’t just mean a plot that was brand new for Doggett and Reyes and for the audience. I mean we needed a new mythology because this one’s plot was a complete failure. The most interesting thing about it was how hard it bombed.

Please, no more alien gods. No more alien babies. No more god-like alien baby messiahs. And for the love of all that is Scully, if you’re going to write in a miracle child, don’t erase him like you wrote him on a whiteboard. No takesies backsies!

We needed the leads to star in their own show.

I think the plan to attach the fans to Doggett and Reyes by bonding them to Mulder and Scully, while it may have been the only plan available in Season 8, backfired. They became in effect, sidekicks; the less interesting sequel to a massive summer blockbuster.

I do believe they could have stood on their own as characters and that they had their own chemistry as a partnership. Yes, they started off as a reheated rehash of the Skeptic-Believer dynamic, which as I explain in the review for “Daemonicus” (9×3), probably should have stayed unique to Mulder and Scully. But they did prove in episodes like “4-D” (9×5), “John Doe” (9×7), and  “Audrey Pauley” (9×13) that they could hold their own and had the potential to build a unique dynamic. They needed cases that were suited to their strengths as a partnership rather than Mulder and Scully’s strengths. They needed to be free of Scully as the third wheel and free from the shadow of MSR. And they needed a quest all their own.

With Mulder and Scully, they had their marching orders from the Pilot (1×79). We knew why they were here and what they were doing. And while they were waylaid by Monster of the Week pitstops, we knew they were searching for something bigger in the X-Files and that these cases were merely detours or the chance to pick up small pieces of a larger puzzle. And both agents had not only a larger truth to prove or disprove, but they had personal reasons for being invested in their work; Mulder because of his sister and Scully because of her science.

Doggett and Reyes are never given their own mission or personal impetus to investigate the X-Files – No, Doggett’s crush on Scully doesn’t count as a personal impetus, nor does Reyes’ interest in Doggett.

Their fight against the Super Soldiers is an inherited fight. The closest thing Doggett has to a connection with the conspiracy is that an old, somewhat distant friend turned out to be a Super Soldier. Reyes? That her boss and former lover is nebulously aware of a conspiracy that he’s not directly a part of. If we’re being honest, the only reason they’re here is because they’ve become friends with Mulder and Scully. Considering what’s on the line, I don’t think that’s enough.

It was touched on in “Empedolces” (8×17), the idea that Doggett might be here because he wants to prove that there was nothing in the X-Files that could have helped his son. Unfortunately, this was never fully developed as a concept. Reyes’ reasons for investigating are even less developed. She gets “feelings” about cases and has a background in Religion. That makes the X-Files her dream assignment.

A genuine quest all their own, and motivations that carried real emotional weight – those two things could have made a world of difference.

We didn’t need Scully.

We didn’t need Scully or the little uber Scully. They should have run off with Mulder.

Not only did her presence force episodes to take precious time away from developing Doggett and Reyes as characters, her presence also inevitably invited comparison, conscious or not, to the time when Mulder and Scully used to investigate the X-Files. That inevitable comparison inevitably came out in Mulder and Scully’s favor, to the detriment of Doggett and Reyes’ budding partnership.

In fact, episodes like “Trust No 1” (9×8) and “Providence” (9×11) downright turned Doggett and Reyes into Scully’s sidekicks. They became supporting players in the continuing saga of Mulder and Scully instead of leads in their own, less melodramatic drama.

And even when the story had nothing to do with Scully, the script had to make room for her, whether she was useful to the plot or not. Most of the time, she wasn’t.

She spends the majority of the season doe eyes tearily wet with thoughts of Mulder. Either that or she’s crying out, “My baby! My baby!” O Scully, Scully. Wherefore art thou, Scully? What happened to the feisty redhead I once knew? The enigmatic doctor? The lofty example of female intelligence?

Just like that, the legacy of television’s favorite duo is cheapened into a tale of star crossed lovers and their accursed love child.

There has to be an end, Scully.

“If you ask me, we should have ended it two years ago,” Anderson said when the news was announced. “They couldn’t have found two better actors than Robert and Annabeth to take over, but the show was about Mulder and Scully.”

It was about Mulder and Scully and, unfortunately, it never stopped being about Mulder and Scully even when Mulder and Scully were gone. “The Truth” (9×19/20) only confirmed that fact. I second Gillian’s feelings – Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish did an excellent job. The failure of the show wasn’t Doggett and Reyes’ fault. The failure had everything to do with business, the logistics of network television, and most of all, the writing.

In order for Season 9 to have worked, we needed a clean break with the past. We needed two new heroes on a new quest with new perspectives, new dynamics and new enemies. Instead, we got Doggett, Reyes, Skinner, Follmer, Frohike, Langly and Byers playing the dwarves to Scully’s Snow White. (I would have included Kersh, but that’s not seven anymore, is it?)

What we needed, really, was a spinoff. Now, I know very well that wouldn’t have happened, but in an ideal world and all that.

It was just a shame to see this iconic, legendary show that provided so much joy over the years end its run on a low note. Then again… without a proper death, resurrection means nothing. I’m so glad I can look back and say this wasn’t really the end.

On that note of hope, here are the final set of awards for the series proper:

Give it Another Shot

Sunshine Days

Gave it Another Shot

Improbable

No More Shots

Provenance

Best Shot

Audrey Pauley

Long Shot

Underneath

Shoot Me

Jump the Shark

Shoot the TV

William

Advertisements

19 responses to “Season 9 Wrap Up – There’s a lot of crap to cut through.

  1. Excellent job!

  2. For not wanting to waste any more time on it, I think you did an excellent job of explaining what was wrong with the ninth season, and how it could have hypothetically been better. I agree that it certainly wasn’t Robert or Annabeth’s faults. Doggett and Reyes were good characters, portrayed by good actors (more so Doggett, although Reyes grew on me in time). But there was just too much wrong with the show at that point for it to continue to succeed. How easy would it have been for Scully to have just taken her baby and gone on the run with Mulder? But then, there was that nasty contract… If you ask me, though, my dream alternate history would have seen this series end after the fifth season, and continue on as a movie franchise instead.

    • Thanks!! Now I’m thinking… Ideally, I still would have loved a 7th season but not the one we got. A really good Season 7 and then a movie franchise would probably have been my dream finish.

      And Doggett was much more fleshed out than Reyes, I agree. But then, we had twice as much time with him. Whatever the reason, I like Reyes, but I’m more attached to Doggett.

  3. If I got anything out of my one and only watch through of season 9, it’s that I came to really like Doggett and Reyes. By the last few episodes, they really grew on me and I think I could have enjoyed further seasons of the show with just them. I agree with you that I would have appreciated this season more if it was a clean break from the Mulder and Scully era. I wonder what kind of role Reyes will play since she’ll be back for the revival.

    This season also make me so extremely irritated with Scully that I can’t even consider her Scully. I missed the old Scully. I really with her and William just ran off with Mulder. I’m not even going to touch the William storyline. It was terrible for obvious reasons.

    Was all of this pain worth it for those wonderful Mulder and Scully scenes in The Truth? Maybe…that kiss and the ending conversation are glorious. But everything with William…

    I’m so excited for this revival! I can’t believe it’s less than a week. Hopefully it does the show, and Mulder and Scully, justice.

    • Doggett and Reyes were just starting to find their groove, I think. It’s a shame. I thought they were great in “Sunshine Days”, which was a far cry from their last comedic outing in “Lord of the Flies”.

      And Scully… I just… *sigh* This post-baby version of her carries over into IWTB and it’s less than appreciated by me. I’m so glad the trailers for the new revival seem to show her with her spunk back.

      I can’t believe we’ve reached this point either! I didn’t even dare to dream we’d get new episodes of The X-Files on TV again!

  4. “If you’re going to write in a miracle child, don’t erase him like you wrote him on a whiteboard.” “Just like that, the legacy of television’s favorite duo is cheapened into a tale of star crossed lovers and their accursed love child.” PREACH.

    There was a time I would have been horrified at your suggestion of a season 9 with no Scully, but with time and distance I’ve come to see that she did the show no favors. Neither did turning D&R into a rehash of M&S—a skeptic and a believer, one of whom is dealing with the loss of a beloved child/sibling, the other of whom is largely motivated by her attachment to her partner, both investigating aliens. But I wonder . . . if it was going to work as a show, you’re right, they needed to cut the cord. But would people have kept watching if not for the hope of seeing Scully and hearing of Mulder? I don’t know. I wasn’t watching it when it aired; I don’t know how people were feeling about it.

    And I’m with you: perfect ending for the show would have been a different, better season 7 where they know it’s ending so they tie up their loose ends and M&S are happy and if there is any hint of a baby, that baby is decidedly non-Messianic. And then Chris Carter starts a new show starring Doggett and Reyes that maybe happens in the same universe as the X-Files and occasionally name-drops them or has Skinner guest star, but it’s not just a rehash of the Mulder and Scully story. Good plan I like it.

    • These ideas are pure creative idealism on my part. I have no idea if the viewers would’ve transferred even if the show had been better. Once the initial journey of M&S was complete, they may or may not have been interested in a second one period. That’s effectively what happened at the end of Season 8 anyway. I’m not sure if Fox would ever have taken the chance, either, since they already had a sure thing and an automatic audience draw in Gillian Anderson.

      That would be perfect – same universe, some carryover, different journey.

  5. Very well stated. It’s a shame that, while Annabeth Gish and especially Robert Patrick were doing such good work, the wheels were coming off in so many other ways. I’d like to think there’s an alternate dimension out there where a Doggett/Reyes spinoff found its footing, because I know there’s a show in there that I really would’ve liked.

    Also, just wondering: is it wrong that I prefer the S9 credits?

    • I agree with you, I liked the season 9 Credits. Not more than the originals, but I liked them equally and differently.

    • It’s weird… I’m not getting notified on some of the comments. I’m sorry!

      They were doing a great job and nothing about the failure of the show is their fault, so it really is a shame. A spinoff would have been ideal for me and I’m sure I would have watched it.

  6. Ahh your awards are so clever! Well done. You’re my hero!

  7. I want to thank you for your excellent work here in these reviews for the entire series. I have just finished my first go through of the series and always looked forward to hearing your thoughts as a seasoned fan and would always look your thoughts up immediately after watching a new episode. I was born in the middle of the run of the original series so my only memories of the show were being terrified of the theme song. I am a fanatic now. Perhaps it was this fondness that blurred my vision but I really enjoyed both Season 8 and 9. Though nowhere near as excellent as the first 7, I still enjoyed them immensely even with the addition of Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish. I really grew to love the characters even if they were not as developed as one would wish. Even though the mytharc episodes were confusing and you really couldn’t draw a straight line through any of them I enjoyed them as it was more X-Files. I almost feel like I couldn’t judge them as my new phile eyes were taking everything they could get. Perhaps the more critical thoughts will come during my second viewing but for now thanks again for your work in creating an excellent spot for new and old philes to hear a formed and engaging review of the series. Will you hopefully be adding the new revival to the site and as well are you going to review I Want to Believe?

    • Thank you, Simon!! And I make a point of using your name because it’s one of my personal favorites.

      Anywho, your vision isn’t blurred. There’s something about The X-Files that induces a sort of heady nostalgic haze whether you’re an old or a new fan. That’s why it creates Philes.

      Personally, I give Season 8 the edge over even Season 7 creatively. But I absolutely agree with you about Doggett and Reyes being great characters. It’s a shame they didn’t have the time to develop them more. I wonder what the franchise would have looked like if it had had a Star Trek like trajectory – Years passing and fondness growing such that the world is ripe to receive a new team with a new focus and a new feel. But, alas.

      Besides, it’s much easier to look on Season 9 favorably now that we know things didn’t end there! The IWTB review is about 75% done. That should go up some time this weekend. And the revival is a definite!

  8. Hey Salome!!! So this was my very first time through the entire show proper and I just finished it tonight…at almost an ungodly hour. I have really enjoyed reading all your reviews after I finish each episode. I’m really excited to start the new revival episodes!

    I had a really tough time getting through seasons 8 and 9. I just couldn’t seem to care about Doggett and Reyes, even though they were fine characters in their own right. The show was ALWAYS about Mulder and Scully for me, and their journey. The fun stories were just a bonus. Without them, it felt like I was watching for no reason, especially since the plot became so redundant and nonsensical.

    I’m a bit overwhelmed by everything because I honestly rushed through the last 2 seasons because I knew they weren’t going to be that good, but I am so happy I started watching! What a show. I’ve never felt this attached to two characters before. I too was born right in the middle of its heyday so it was fun to get an opinion from an older Phile that had watched it live!! I died almost every episode and I was binge watching. So crazy to think about all the cliffhangers people would have to live through!!

    Long story short, MSR forever. They captured my little heart and I don’t think I’ll ever get it back. I’m planning on going through and picking out my favorites for a Top 20 List soon, after I catch up on the new episodes! I’ve been trying to avoid spoilers so far but it looks like its going alright! I just miss Mulder and Scully so much already even though I haven’t had to wait for them to return. Thanks for your reviews!!

    • A brand new Phile?! I love those!!

      As you can see, you’re not alone in the struggle. Appreciating Season 8 gets much easier with the passage of time. Season 9? Marginally so, and that’s limited to a few episodes.

      The show was ALWAYS about Mulder and Scully for me, and their journey. The fun stories were just a bonus.

      Steamgrrl recently told me almost the same thing. Maybe she’ll see this and commiserate.

      What a show. I’ve never felt this attached to two characters before.

      And if you’re like me, you never will again. I realize my life isn’t over yet or else I wouldn’t be typing this, but I’m like Clyde Bruckman. I can sense these things.

      So crazy to think about all the cliffhangers people would have to live through!!

      “Requiem” WAS NOT A JOKE.

      Long story short, MSR forever. They captured my little heart and I don’t think I’ll ever get it back.

      Dit-to.

      The new season is on a distinctly upward trajectory. Be encouraged. Be excited.

      Thanks for your reviews!!

      You’re more than welcome! Thank you for reading them!

  9. Well, here I am.

    I just finished The Truth and I’m a little sad to see it end but I think it’s more about the show I fell in love with in Season 1 till about the end of Season 6.

    The last three seasons kept me looking at my watch half the time although there were some really good eps in there. I started to groan with despair when the William story line just became so ridiculous that I couldn’t stand it anymore…lol. I actually enjoyed the first half of season 8 and felt it was better than most of 7..Doggett and Reyes grew on me but Doggett was the better and most fleshed out character. I am not a fan of Anabeth’s portrayal of Reyes or perhaps her acting skill in this regard.

    But…as a whole I can say without a doubt that the X-Files is one of my favorite pieces of television in my life. Absolutely outstanding and I realize that much of that is due to the acting of the two main characters, their ability to make me ignore or minimize some stories that were downright absurd or fantastic and believe in them anyway.

    But it was a story of that time in the early 90’s that tapped into the general psych of TV watchers everywhere. The stories were exciting and well written, acted and directed. The introduction of story arcs and stand alone eps was brilliant and affects TV to this day.

    It was a great ride.

    P.S. Salome

    I have had a wonderful time reading your blog and it made my viewing experience with my binge series watch much more enjoyable.

    Kudos on your fine work.

  10. Wow. I just finished the 9 seasons. I was an emotional wreck at the end of “The Truth.” Just wow.
    Also, thank you for your helpful reviews. They helped me break down some of the more confusing episodes and also made me feel less alone while watching the show in my room, by myself, as a hermit. 🙂
    Man this was/is a fantastic show.
    I’m sort of scared that they’ll mess up this beautiful ending in IWTB. We shall see.

You Know You Want To...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s