Tag Archives: Reyes

Provenance 9×10: My baby! They’re after my baby!


 

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Because I accentuate the positive.

This is really… not good.

The X-Files’ underwear is showing. Not just right now, these last several seasons have exposed the show’s weaknesses. Like a tragic Greek hero, the same things that made it great were the same things that caused its eventual downfall. It couldn’t sustain itself indefinitely the way it was.

“Provenance” is concrete proof that Season 9 was doomed to fail. It wasn’t 9/11 turning America off of conspiracies. It wasn’t the viewers that refused to come back after the season premiere. It’s because it wasn’t very interesting. Period.

Now, it tries very, very hard to be interesting. But I don’t care how hard Chris Carter makes Scully whisper it, whispering doesn’t make it so.

Back in Season 3 for instance, this style of drama that made up the mythology episodes worked. It was groundbreaking. It was epic. Even now, those old episodes stand the test of time because when you watch those, you feel like it all means something, like it’s all headed somewhere. “Provenance” is a rote exercise in trying to shock and awe the audience with impossible truths of universal import. Without any soul to back the action up it’s all sound and fury, signifying nothing. The emptiness of performance is exposed.

The routine, more or less, goes a little like this.

Impossible event.
Dangled proof.
Rogue F.B.I. agent.
Intensely whispered conversations.
Monumental inferences.
Dangled questions.

The end.

It’s tired to be sure. But like a good old-fashioned Monster of the Week episode, it might still have worked if the material itself was interesting. Too bad it isn’t.

It’s been so long since I’ve watched most of Season 9 that I forgot they did this. I thought we had let this die, but we’re back to the alien gods plot thread from “Biogenesis” (6×22). You know a plot is too weighty and unwieldy when even Gillian Anderson can’t sell it convincingly. The implications of the new era mythology can’t possibly be handled properly in primetime.

But they do try and the scene where Scully gives the rundown on this madness to Reyes, and simultaneously to the audience, is quite possibly the low point of the entire series. It’s all oblique revelations whispered intensely and pregnant pauses that pretend to give birth to meaning but only pass wind. I’ve had enough of watery eyes, shallow breathing and searching glances, thank you. Give me a story I can get excited about!

And for most of it, there’s no score from Mark Snow to take some of the emotional burden off of the actresses who are clearly working hard for their money. All I can hear are these ridiculous words and they don’t stand up on their own. Devoid of clothing they sound worse.

Is The X-Files really going to reveal the secrets to all mysteries and all knowledge? Are they really going to give us “The Truth” as more than a shadowy conspiracy of men and the secrets they hide? No. And since it can’t, it had better stop feigning that it can.

All Mulder’s search ever was was an allegory of one man’s search for God and I understand that. It should have stayed that. It was much more compelling that way. Once upon a time, The X-Files was about a guy and a girl chasing ghosts and bringing conspiracies to light. Now it’s all cosmic prophecy and baby messiahs.

Yeah, so, about Baby “Jesus” William… he’s really the problem here.

The plot surrounding him, surrounding his “origins” as the title of this episode would invite us to ponder, is turning Scully stupid. And I don’t just mean she’s making foolish decisions, which she has all season. She’s becoming a truly uninteresting character and that’s making me slightly resentful.

But back to Baby “Jesus” William…

Maggie Scully: I know you’re worried about him, that there are things about him that you just can’t explain. But even if you were to get those answers what would it change?
Scully: Mom, he’s my child.
Maggie Scully: And you have to love him and raise him in spite of everything. Dana, God has given you a miracle. A child that wasn’t supposed to be. Maybe it’s not to question, just to be taken as a matter of faith.
Scully: Mom, I can’t take this on faith. I need to know. I need to know if it’s really God I have to thank.

Herein lies the key issue of this two-parter. It’s not “who” William is but “how” he is. But part of the problem with asking “how” he came to be is that it’s not a question that can be so easily divorced from the issue of his paternity, an issue that was fried, boiled and overbaked in Season 8. Chris Carter is telling us to ask, “How?” but all we can hear is, “Does this mean Mulder’s his daddy or not?” Maybe if the episode were clearer we would hear, “How did Scully become fertile again?

As I said, William is the root of all evil as far as Season 9’s bloated mythology is concerned. And I know what you’re thinking. “If the baby needs to die, why doesn’t somebody just kill the baby?? Yet if you’ll humor me, we’ll wait to discuss him in excruciating detail next episode. That’s when the chaos around him begins to make sense… not good sense, but sense. There is a method to Chris Carter’s madness. It may just be revealed a little too late. The viewing public’s goodwill wears thin.

Verdict:

You know, it’s not just the content of the plot, it’s the way it’s presented. It’s very hard to follow, much crazier than the mythology ever used to be. Where it was vague before, it’s opaque now. Where it was slow to reveal before, it backtracks now. Wait till you see how much it backtracks in “Providence” (9×11)…

Just so long as you understand that all of this is of the greatest import and magnitude. If you don’t hurry up and understand that, they may resort to whispering it even more forcefully.

The MOTW episodes are flagging. The legacy of MSR is on life support. The mythology is shot to pieces.

Pop me on a shish kebab. I’m done.

D

Comments:

Doggett’s a regular Mulder now. Unbridled insubordination, showing up where he has no business being, taking things he has no business taking.

Doggett and Follmer spar like equal rivals, not like a boss and his upstart subordinate.

The travel times are unreal. A man attempts to cross the border one night. Border Patrol finds the rubbings and immediately turns them over the the F.B.I.? The F.B.I. recognizes them as part of an X-File and summons Scully the next morning. Scully warns Doggett and Reyes something’s up. Doggett flies to North Dakota where he finds Follmer already there and working a scene that hasn’t been cleared yet, this despite the fact that Follmer was at the meeting with Scully that morning.

Scully’s rubbings had covered the entire spacecraft? The pile of papers didn’t look that huge.

I’m with Maggie Scully. Scully doesn’t seem all that interested in actually raising the baby. She keeps defending him as her real son, but then acts like she believes he’s something altogether different.

And if the aliens are God, then shouldn’t you stop fighting against them? But it’s really not clear if they are God or if they’re at war with God and have somehow interfered with the human race.

We can easily dismiss the notion that Mulder’s dead. Not only do we know Chris Carter would never kill him offscreen, but David Duchovny is scheduled to appear in the series finale. So we are unmoved.

The ONLY moment I find worthwhile in this episode is watching Scully hand baby William over to the Lone Gunmen. That’s still not worth my watching this ever again in life.

Hellbound 9×4: I just know I need to solve this.


 

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Can you imagine how uncomfortable this must have been?

“Hellbound” is The X-Files’ third take on the subject of reincarnation after “Born Again” (1×21) and “The Field Where I Died” (4×5). Out of the three episodes, this is definitely the best. I still don’t think it’s great, however.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate what’s here, it’s what’s not here that leaves me feeling mildly disappointed. I know nothing more about Agent Monica Reyes at the end of the episode than when I first started this little showcase piece for her character. I know nothing more about her personality or her personal motivations.

All I know is that her reincarnated soul has been unsuccessfully chasing the same bad guy since the 1800s. Or rather, she chased the original bad guys and then the bad guy that they created through their evil actions. I don’t know what about these crimes in particular so compels her soul. Is it the unusual level of violence that troubles her? Does she have some kind of relationship with the perpetrators? Does she just have a strong, motivating sense of justice? If she does, I’d like to know.

I know that she feels things, but I already knew that. Other than telling her that there’s something fishy going on, do these feelings of hers ever actually solve cases? Because right now these “feelings” she gets in the presence of evil don’t have a great track record when it comes to being useful. Nothing was resolved in either “Empedolces” (8×17) or “Daemonicus” (9×3) and she barely makes a dent in the evil here.

What I don’t know is why she’s on the X-Files. I mean, yes, I know she’s there because Doggett needed an ally and he trusts her both personally and professionally. But her history with Doggett tells me a lot more about Doggett than it does about her.

And I know that her expertise is Religious Studies and that she investigated crimes with a seeming Satanic bent. That sure sounds like it makes her a good fit for the basement office. But I also know that by her own admission, she’s never seen evidence of real Satanic activity. Then why is she so interested in the X-Files? Why is it her “dream job” according to her conversation with Follmer in “Nothing Important Happened Today” (9×1)? Is she here because she’s looking to find evidence of real activity? Is she here because she does or doesn’t believe in Satan?

And further back, what brought Reyes to Religious Studies in the first place? Ironically, thanks to the Doggett-centric “John Doe” (9×7), I know she was raised in Mexico, a predominately catholic country. Did she study religion because she was a good catholic girl? Because she wasn’t a good catholic girl? How did she end up so new agey?

I’d like to know Monica Reyes, please.

Her character started off with real potential and I still like her well enough. But she’s quickly turning into a stock believer. Mulder believed because of certain experiences, certain information, and certain hypnosis sessions. He believed because he needed to. Am I to take it that Reyes believes solely because she feels things??? That’s a character cop out, 1013.

There was a lot of room for exploration in this episode for themes of sin and redemption, destiny and freewill… in other words, plenty of chances to get inside Reyes’ head and figure out what makes her tick, what motivates her, and what she thinks her purpose in life is or if she’s still trying to find one. Maybe she’s unsure of the state of her own soul and that’s why this case is so important to her.. Heck, maybe she’s on the X-Files because she wants to understand the nature of evil. How about that?

In an odd twist, I personally enjoy this episode more than Doggett’s “John Doe”, but coming straight off of that episode into this one highlights its weaknesses in the character development department.

In both episodes, our two new leads set out to discover their individual identities. Doggett has his memories taken from him and, by sheer force of will, takes back what belongs to him, pain and all. His display of character and integrity even when he’s been stripped to nothing tells us a lot about who he is as a person.

Reyes, on the other hand, finds out she had an identity she didn’t know existed. That knowledge doesn’t shock her, scare her, inspire her, drive her… she comes to a conclusion about the events of the case and then the end. The events have no bearing on the rest of her life and reveal no new side of her. I can only guess that at some point she wonders if she committed a great sin in a past life, but if she does, we don’t see any signs of an internal conflict.

Verdict:

All right. I know I’ve belabored the point. It’s just that in retrospect, I know this is Reyes’ one chance to distinguish herself as a character and I’m disappointed on her behalf.

Reyes: Whoever I was, I failed. In 1868, in 1909, in 1960… I failed. I was always there, but I couldn’t stop the killings. And he knew that. And somehow he knows my deepest fear: that I’ll fail.

I guess this is the closest I’ll come to the answers I’m looking for. Perhaps Reyes is sensitive to evil in all its forms because she’s spiritually connected to a particular evil. Perhaps her regret and fear of failure drive her forward in the pursuit of defeating evil. Perhaps?

The X-File itself is okay. Actually, I think the premise had real promise. A group of men bound together in hell, which is spiritual and physical death on repeat, want to be redeemed but aren’t allowed to be. As mentioned earlier, the themes are ripe for the plucking.

Instead, I went searching for depth and all I got was this lousy T-shirt:

Everything you ever wanted to know about skinning people but were afraid to ask.

But while it’s a unique form of death even for The X-Files and I can tell the crew worked hard, it must be said that the makeup is less gross than shocking in its completeness. And it looks like a special effects job the whole time.

B-

Comment:

I like the short scene between Scully and Dr. Mueller. It reminds me of other times Mulder and Scully consulted a retired detective about an old case. “Squeeze” (1×2), “Tooms” (1×20), “Travelers” (5×15)… There are more, I’m just too sleepy to remember them.

Question:

Reyes was able to save one soul, but the killer continues into the next life with the other victims. Is that enough to break the cycle? Reyes doesn’t need to follow him in death? I guess one of our leads killing themselves would put a damper on the show, huh?

Best Quotes:

Scully: My name is Dana Scully. I’m with the FBI. I want to ask you some questions about a John Doe you did an autopsy on in 1960.
Dr. Mueller: You honestly expect me to recall some case from way back when? I’m 84 years old.
Scully: Sir, this particular victim was skinned alive.

———————-

Dr. Mueller: The victim was a John Doe, a nobody. Carl Hobart, the county sheriff, figured he was a drifter. Hobart said he didn’t want to stir up the community.
Scully: And no one called him on that?
Dr. Mueller: I tried. The sheriff had other things on his mind, I suppose.
Scully: Why do you say that?
Dr. Mueller: Well, it wasn’t long after that he put a bullet through his head.

John Doe 9×7: I’ll take the bad as long as I can remember the good.


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Every time I try to walk away…

Here’s the thing about “John Doe”. It’s a beautifully crafted hour of television. Writer Vince Gilligan and his soon to be collaborator on Breaking Bad, first time director Michelle MacLaren, present us with an episode that looks like it’s ready for the big screen. Robert Patrick outdoes himself now that Doggett is finally given something interesting to do again, and he’s flanked by a motley crew of impressively convincing supporting actors.

The thing is, I’m incurably bored by “John Doe” and like the Eagles said, I can’t tell you why.

Is it the slow pace? Is it the token nature of the supernatural element slipped perfunctorily in at the end of the episode? Is it the atmosphere of heat and exhaustion?

Whatever it is, it puzzles me. But try though I might, by the ten minute mark I always tune out. I can never watch this episode in a single sitting. I get distracted and then rewind, distracted and then rewind. It’s a sad cycle.

It’s sad because there’s a lot of good going on here. First of all, as only the second time a woman has directed an episode of The X-Files since Gillian Anderson’s “all things” (7×17), it’s somewhat historic. Visually, it’s also an obvious homage to the film Traffic with all of its washed out outdoor scenes.

Speaking of film, I’ve always thought Vince Gilligan’s work on the show had a cinematic edge. That is to say, his X-Files often came across as stories that could easily be adapted for the big screen. His episodes are uniquely suited to Mulder and Scully, made more impactful by Mulder and Scully, but quite a few of them could be reworked without Mulder and Scully and still stand as independent stories. For example, “Unruhe” (4×2), “Pusher” (3×17), “Tithonus” (6×9), “Drive” (6×2), “Roadrunners” (8×5), etc.

“John Doe” feels even more like a mini movie, especially since unlike the days when the X-Files were run by Mulder and Scully, there’s no need to follow the show’s standard storytelling format. There’s nothing perfunctory about it like, say, a Scully autopsy. This isn’t familiar. And not only does our lead not know who he himself is, neither do we, really. We’re still getting to know John Doggett.

It is nice to see more of Doggett, to see more of his relationship with his son. Now we know he also had a wife. Whatever happened to Mrs. Doggett I wonder? I assume that one day she woke up and got out of their marital bed. I’m also assuming we’ll find out before the season wraps up, along with more of the details of Luke Doggett’s kidnapping. Meanwhile, more than anything, we learn a lot about Doggett’s character. Even without his memory and without his bearings, he keeps his integrity… and his skillset. And he’s not afraid of pain, not even the pain of the loss of his son, because he knows that his experiences have shaped him and he can’t lose that pain without losing himself.

All that sounds great, doesn’t it? They’re still doing new and different things on The X-Files, aren’t they? So what’s wrong with me, then?

I’m starting to think these kinds of amnesia tales just don’t interest me, personally. I LOVE “Demons” (4×23), in which Mulder has a limited amnesia. But when someone forgets how they wound up in hell and the audience watches them find out, that’s an interesting mystery. When someone forgets who they are and the audience already knows who they are, that’s not as much of a mystery. That’s a character study. We’re watching John Doggett remember John Doggett.

How he even came to be in no man’s land Mexico, while supposedly the big reveal of the story, is almost irrelevant to the story. The villains are obvious early on. The only question is how they did it, and even the how is given only brief screen treatment. A memory vampire? Really? It’s probably better that they didn’t spend too long dwelling on that, now that I think of it.

No, this is all just a showcase for Doggett the man. And maybe, Doggett, she’s just not that into you.

Verdict:

There’s no real X-File here. It could have been a memory vampire. It could have been a mugger who knocked him down so that he hit his head. The result is the same.

Then again, I think this recent crop of episodes is proving that Doggett and Reyes aren’t that suited to traditional X-Files. They needed something new built around them.

And it’s for that reason that I respect “John Doe” even if my attention span refuses to bend to my will. We needed episodes that sought to differentiate Doggett and Reyes from Mulder and Scully and create a unique bond between them and the audience. The X-Files needed to feel different in their hands.

So here’s what I learned about our new leads this episode –

They’re both more worldly than either Mulder or Scully were.
They’re both ready for a firefight.
They’re both built Ford tough.

The end.

I think Reyes is due for her own character episode now, isn’t she?

B+

Factoids:

It was after this episode aired that Chris Carter announced this would be the final season of The X-Files.

He should have done that after “Trust No 1” (9x).

Michelle MacLaren would go on to direct for both Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead among many other shows. Go ‘head, girl.

Mrs. Doggett is played by the real life Mrs. Patrick. Aww.

According to Wikipedia, Mulder’s old apartment set was dressed up and reused as the Mexican hotel set. Symbolic?

Scully is completely useless here. Yes, that counts as a fact.

The actor who plays Domingo, Frank Roman, does an incredible job. Also a fact.

Just One Question:

Why was Doggett investigating without Reyes in the first place?

Best Quotes:

Reyes: Y acerca de las drogas? Están en su inventario también? Usted ya sabe… cocaina, AGCO, John Deere?
Molina’s Lawyer: I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish.
Molina: She says I sell drugs.
Molina’s Lawyer: Please don’t speak Spanish anymore.

———————–

Caballero: Why would you want to remember? You can’t tell me you’re happier now, because you recall your life. I saw it all. So much pain. Why would you want to struggle, so long, and hard to get that pain back?
Doggett: Because it’s mine.

Lord of the Flies 9×6: You can’t have it both ways.


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What if there was an X-Files/Breaking Bad/Glee mashup?

In which Breaking Bad takes over The X-Files for the second of three times.

But before we get to that, I think I’ve come to a mini understanding. Doggett and Reyes as characters don’t have the comedic capabilities that Mulder and Scully did.

Now, I’m more tired than anyone of hearing myself compare Doggett and Reyes to Mulder and Scully. I prepared myself for change when Season 9 first aired and I’m certainly resigned to change now. My complaint isn’t that we have a new team. No, it’s that this new team isn’t equipped to handle this kind of episode. To put it in layman’s terms, I don’t think they’re ready for this jelly.

Doggett jokes around, sure. But his jokes fall flat because he sounds like an old fogey shaking his head at kids these days. There’s no point at the end of his pitard. Mulder would have delivered those very same lines with a sardonic bite that would have left me giggling.

Scully would have shared knowing or appropriately horrified looks with Mulder at all the right moments, because her character knows how to play up the chaos around her to the best effect. Reyes spends most of the episode looking nothing but bemused, as if this crazed cast of characters genuinely needed the help of the F.B.I..

This episode is not good. But even with its shortcomings it had the possibility of providing us some memorable moments. The scenes in the morgue with Dr. Herb Fountain are still my favorites of the episode. Erick Avari, a veteran character actor who I love, plays Dr. Fountain. He carries the comedic weight of these scenes on his own, and not just because he’s the broad character. Doggett and Reyes give him next to nothing. Their reactions are way too subdued; they shouldn’t be over the top but they need to be appropriately surprised

I know my comparisons are unfair since Mulder and Scully had time to develop a shorthand and a status quo before being thrust into the world of comedy. Yet I still find myself longing for “Humbug” (2×20) and their pitch perfect responses to the madness, and even for “Bad Blood” (5×12) when they showed us they could themselves be the madness.

Frankly, despite the madness that is Dr. Rocky Bronzino, King of the Fake Bronzer, some of the better parts of this episode are watching Scully deal with him. He’s not a great character, but at least he gives Scully something to do besides pine for Mulder and worry about William.

Then again, the low point of this episode is watching Dr. Scully give CPR to a man who’s already breathing. So I guess it’s a wash.

The truth is, “Lord of the Flies” is confused. The basic plot is a serious X-File, but the overall tone is that of an episode of The Lone Gunmen. Why do I say that? I’m glad you asked.

Sadly, The Lone Gunmen only lasted thirteen episodes, but Thomas Schnauz wrote two of them. Two good ones, I might add. A personal friend of Vince Gilligan’s from film school, he was pulled onto The X-Files after the show ended and went from there to… yep, Breaking Bad.

But back to The Lone Gunmen for a moment, Dr. Rocky Branzino is a character perfectly in keeping with the over the top tone of that show. What he’s doing here in an X-File that’s also trying to be both scary and emotional is beyond me. This is a jumbled mess of goals. Is it a broad comedy? Is it a serious murder investigation? Is it a character study in teenage angst? Is it a short horror film? Is it a Twilight Zone mystery with a twist? Is it trying to be all things to all men, that it might by all means win some?

Tonally, “Lord of the Flies” doesn’t know if it’s a real X-File or a light X-File. It’s possible to straddle the fence and it’s been done successfully before, but this isn’t one of those times.

And if you’re going to have a comedic episode with Jane Lynch in it then she should get the chance to be funny. I’m sorry.

Still on the topic of soon to be wildly famous guest stars, if you had told me that the intrepid Sky Commander Winkie would later blow my mind as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, I would have raised a Scully brow. And there’s our Breaking Bad trifecta for this episode: Vince Gilligan produced it, Thomas Schnauz wrote it and Aaron Paul starred in it.

Verdict:

The X-Files has a long tradition of mixing puberty with the paranormal. You know the drill – your body’s going through changes and you don’t know where you fit in, so you electrocute your friend in the parking lot, have an astrological meltdown, or plow your teacher into the cafeteria wall. Or, you can turn into a B movie fly monster and cocoon your enemies, which appears to both the biological fate and freewill choice of Dylan Lokensgard.

Whatever the try-hard philosophical ponderings of the closing monologue, Dylan isn’t sympathetic, or scary, or even interesting. And as such he adds nothing to the Puberty Pantheon. “Hungry” (7×1) was a better take on a monster who wanted to be anything but.

*cough*MoreVinceGilligan*cough*

C+

Pheromones:
What kind of pheromones are Mulder and Scully excreting that they keep attracting entomologists with silly names?

Mothers are women too, Scully. “I’m with someone,” would have been a more definitive answer.

The teenage romance doesn’t sell. It rarely does in real life either.

When was the last time we had an ending voiceover/case report?

Once again, Scully is a distraction from Doggett and Reyes. Worse, she’s outshining them.

I have no idea why Dylan’s little love interest suddenly feels affection toward the murderous nerd once he’s gone.

No, really. Who hits on somebody by talking about shared menstrual cycles?

FYI, Breaking Bad’s first takeover was “Drive” (6×2) and the next will be “John Doe” (9×7).

Best Quotes:

Dr. Fountain: Well, it’s the kid’s parents. They’re suing everyone.
Reyes: For what?
Dr. Fountain: Everything. They’re suing the county for making the street too steep, the supermarket he stole the shopping cart from, the company that made the helmet he was wearing.

——————–

Dr. Rocky Bronzino: Dr. Scully? This is so exciting. I’ve never had a partner before.
Scully: I have.

4-D 9×5: Who eats polish sausage with plates?


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I got your back.

This… this is the direction Season 9 needed to go with Doggett and Reyes. I can only think that had the show continued, they would have quickly recognized what they were good at and perfected it. “4-D” is like a rough sketch of what could have been.

In some ways it reminds me of “Monday” (6×15), though I realize it deals with the “space” rather than the “time” part of the space-time continuum. Still, there’s that element of trying to escape a reality one mistakenly finds oneself in, a reality that isn’t right.

Here’s another reality that isn’t right for you: Doggett and Reyes flirting.

Now, look. I’m as relieved as the next person to see them finally look like they’re enjoying themselves. I want to know they’re glad to be working together. And I know I’m the one who in the review just previous complained that these characters needed to find a way to lighten their investigations up. But can we let the UST lie where it died in Season 8?

I realize it was necessary to reaffirm the closeness of the pair in order to pave the way for this episode’s emotional impact. But they didn’t have to go there. Frankly, if you’re trying to avoid comparisons to Mulder and Scully, creating romantic tension between Doggett and Reyes is a mistake. When I say this is the direction they needed to go, this part isn’t what I mean.

All that said, I am glad to see them relaxed and they do have a connection and chemistry. Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish give great performances here.

It’s impressive that they stand out considering the swelling cast of characters Season 9 has to accommodate for. Skinner and Scully are shoehorned into the investigation. And why does Follmer appear to be directing Skinner when they share the same title of “Assistant Director”?

Practical adaptations aside, this is my favorite work from writer Steve Maeda since “Brand X” (7×19). He showed us in “Redrum” (8×3) that he’s interested in telling tales about misadventures in time and space, but I think this X-File has more potential for both horror and genuine emotional impact than “Redrum” did. For one thing, he gives us a rather nasty villain to chew on.

Erwin Lukesh is a regular Norman Bates and is clearly modeled after the iconic killer, right down to his icky issues with Mommy Dearest. I mean, they sleep in the same bed. By the way, I LOVE his mother. She actually feels like a woman with no insight into her selfish, overbearing ways. And I LOVE that director Tony Wharmby so often chooses to let us hear that nagging voice without actually seeing her. Surely it’s no coincidence that Lukesh rips out women’s tongues.

Lukesh himself isn’t half bad either. I mean, you know a man’s a sadistic killer when he has cans of Boost in his fridge. Echoes of “Pusher” (3×17) anyone? And the way he savors his kills and feeds human tongue to his unsuspecting mother like he’s Hannibal Lector is properly disturbing. But I think he was robbed of a little of his glory. If he didn’t have to share so much screen time he could have been developed more as an evil maniac. I think he had it in ‘em.

The only thing that bothers me a little, well, besides the flirtation and the lack of character space… okay, so this is the third thing that bothers me… is that Reyes brainstorms her way through this inter-dimensional problem a little too easily. She basically sits at Doggett’s bedside and has a revelation and, last I checked, her background is in Religion, not Physics like Scully. Yes, the episode is running out of time and needs to explain the problem so that Reyes can take action to resolve it, but reducing the explanation to a quantum leap of exposition is anticlimactic.

That said, I still think the sci-fi route appears a better fit for Doggett and Reyes than the paranormal, however Doggett may tease her about going all Star Trek on him. These aren’t a couple of wide-eyed kids like Mulder and Scully were back in the day. Doggett’s a soldier and his brawn combined with Reyes’ emotional sensitivity and tenderness could have led to some interesting case resolutions. Even Doggett believes Reyes’ ideas after a while and his character is more likely to respond well to extreme science than ghosties and beasties.

Now all the two of them need is personal motivation to investigate the X-Files. Because, no. Doggett’s crush on Scully and Reyes’ crush on Doggett doesn’t count.

Verdict:

I don’t know that Doggett and Reyes have ever really felt close until this episode. I knew Reyes cared about Doggett, but it didn’t seem much like the feeling was mutual. It’s kind of amazing that Doggett is able to emote so well considering he’s paralyzed but for a finger. I can only imagine the long hours Robert Patrick had to lie unmoving in that hospital bed, poor man. He pulled it off, though. So hats off, sir.

Of course, I suppose this all means that somewhere in another reality Doggett and Reyes are both dead or nearly so.

Sad face.

B

Too Much Star Trek:

Okay… one last bother. Lukesh dies way too easily for such a Master Villain. Why didn’t he just hop realities with Reyes in tow? If it were that easy, Doggett would have killed him in the teaser, am I right?

And Reyes shaving Doggett on only their second real case together? Mulder and Scully took seven years and never got to that base.

The slow reveal of Reyes’ face after the teaser… makes you wonder if you’re about to see her scarred up. It’s a nice touch of tension.

I think my favorite shot, and there’s some great visual imagery here, is the shot of Marion Lukesh’s eye as her son leaves their bed in the middle of the night… As her son leaves their bed in the middle of the night… As her son leaves their bed…

Scully greeting Reyes with, “Monica, I’m so sorry,” is a subtle way of telling us that Doggett is more important to Reyes than to anyone else here.

I enjoyed the bit of continuity here – Scully sharing with Reyes the emotional impact that the events of “Beyond the Sea” (1×12) had on her.

Best Quotes:

Doggett: [On screen] MISSED A SPOT
Reyes: Did not. Anyway, that’s what you get for hiring cheap help.

Daemonicus 9×3: Like a snake eating its own tail.


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50 bonus points.

I had a theory going into this rewatch of Season 9 that it’s biggest problem was not the introduction of Doggett and Reyes and not even the flagging mythology. I thought that what Season 9 needed was to cut off the Mulder and Scully umbilical cord and let our new team fly free as the next generation.

I still believe that. But even as the voices whisper to Kobold, I’m feeling a slightly less demonic breeze in my ear. I had no idea, no, not even with my concerning level of devotion to these fictional characters, how necessary Mulder and Scully really were, as a team, to the show as a whole. With their wide-eyed sense of wonder and discovery, particularly in the early years, and their irrepressible banter, they made even the most out there concepts seem believable, even the scariest fears approachable, their shared intensity elevating the absurd. Remember the possessed sewer cats???

Scully: Oh my God, Mulder! It smells like… I think it’s bile!
Mulder: Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?

The cases weren’t great just because they were creepy, they were great because Mulder and Scully sold them.

I’ve heard The X-Files described as a supernatural police procedural, and while I get that on one level and used to agree, I now believe it isn’t. That’s why we couldn’t exchange Mulder and Scully for Doggett and Reyes so easily. If it were an endlessly continuable procedural designed to investigate an interminable parade of paranormal problems, then changing the leads wouldn’t have mattered. No, The X-Files was a quest with a distinct beginning, middle, and a forcefully dragged out end. It had a sell-by date. The truth can’t be out there in perpetuity.

Mulder and Scully had a routine, yes. But they weren’t solving cases they were exploring the universe. Many a time they didn’t solve or resolve anything, they just watched the impossible unfold around them. Other times they found answers which led to more questions with no answers. All that mattered was that I felt like I was discovering the universe with them.

I know it sounds like I’m way off topic for a review of “Daemonicus” but there’s a reason for the ramble.

I used to appreciate this episode much more. In fact, it’s long been one of my favorites of the season. It still is. Yet, it’s not too often that I like episodes less with the passage of time and the accumulation of rewatches. Maybe there is genuinely something wrong with me, but when I went to start this episode and heard Mark Snow’s “Lamenta” on the DVD menu screen I felt like crying.

For the first time, it really feels like the good old days are gone. Maybe it’s because it’s Doggett and Reyes’ first Monster of the Week episode and I was always partial to those. Maybe it was my mood after hearing such haunting music. But now I feel like I see in this forty-three minutes of still pretty well-done television why The X-Files couldn’t continue this way and why Season 9 failed.

Change is good and even when it isn’t good, sometimes it’s necessary. But while this remained in many ways a good show after the Mulder and Scully era, it was no longer magically delicious.

In order for it to become so again our two new leads have to create their own magic, but they haven’t worked out how to do that yet. I know it’s early. I do. But let’s see how promising they are.

Where Mulder used to interpret a situation. Reyes “senses” things. When she says, “Not once did I find anything to support evidence of genuine satanic activity”, what she means is that she never got really creepy vibes before. It’s good and interesting that they’re separating Reyes from Mulder even in the role of believer. But it’s much more difficult to pull off Reyes’ pseudo-psychic feelings and make them the foundation of investigation than it was Mulder’s evidenced based hunches, as hard as those stretches of plausibility were to swallow sometimes.

Not to mention, Reyes has lost the self-deprecating goofiness and awkwardness that made her so approachable when she was first introduced in Season 9. Suddenly she’s less childlike and distinctly more womanly. The jury’s still out on how well this plays in the long run.

As for Doggett, he isn’t just a skeptic. Same as last season, he’s resentful of the paranormal, resentful of its implications. Scully was frustrated and puzzled sometimes investigating with Mulder, but rarely angry. And her banter with Mulder kept the reserved Scully from coming off too cold and aloof. Doggett is marching in place as a character, and for what? What truths are frightening him?

Kobold: I’m wondering, why a skeptic such as yourself would accept an assignment to an obscure unit of the FBI devoted exclusively to the investigating of paranormal phenomena… Ordinarily men do not pursue occupations against their own inclinations unless there’s some strong countervailing reason. Seeking the love or approval of a woman, perhaps? Agent Reyes may have affection for you, but you for her…?

————————

Kobold: I’ve been thinking a lot about you, Agent Doggett… about why someone so ill-suited would draw this duty. Clearly, you have feelings for her. But you can’t compete with the long lost Agent Mulder… his easy good looks, his Oxford education… Mulder has what you can’t have. But you stumble forward, the flat-footed cop, thinking he can put handcuffs on demons. You want her, but she feels sorry for you. They both do.

————————

“I really wanted a character who could not just tell us again what the X-Files were after nine seasons, but tell us something about who Doggett, Reyes, and Scully were,” said Frank Spotnitz.

————————

“From the beginning Doggett has tremendous respect for Scully and I think that respect has blossomed into something else,” says Carter. “That was always our intention, that we would have a sort of triangle.” “From the beginning Doggett has tremendous respect for Scully and I think that respect has blossomed into something else,” says Carter. “That was always our intention, that we would have a sort of triangle.”
I think the madness speaks for itself, yes?

For her part, Scully’s back teaching at the F.B.I. Academy, a gig she had before she ever met Mulder or heard of an X-File. The move makes sense both in terms of continuity and of character. She has a baby at home to take care of and if the writers’ seem to have ignored her maternity leave benefits, then I’m glad they recognized that it’s time for a more regular schedule and a less risky job. What’s more, I’m glad to see Scully has again found her happy medium between skepticism and belief.

That said, Scully is a heavy weight that’s holding everybody down. Her presence isn’t necessary in this plot, but she’s here because Gillian Anderson is contracted to be here. Worse, her presence is a constant reminder of what no longer is when I’m trying my darndest to concentrate on Doggett and Reyes and give them a fair shake. Yet they keep going back to her like Jedi Knights to Yoda instead of learning to fly on their own.

I really think they could, you know… fly, if the right winds were blowing. I’m going to need some drive, though. And I’m not talking about romantic competition with the absent Mulder. Doggett needs to want to be here and Reyes’s take it or leave it attitude when it comes to getting definitive answers needs to go. Make me believe that it matters. Make me believe it all means something.

Verdict:

This all sounds dank and depressing, I’m sure. But I’m not mad at “Daemonicus”, I just think it needs a lift, something to shine a soft light into the darkness. But like Kobold says, Doggett doesn’t possess Mulder’s easy manners and humor. And he and Reyes aren’t two wide-eyed young agents on a journey of discovery. Still, everybody’s got their something and I want them to find theirs and fast. I need a little yeast to leaven this lump.

Visually, I think this episode is great. This is only Frank Spotnitz’s second time directing and while the direction draws more attention to itself than it did in “Alone” (8×19), I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think that, like Reyes, our spidey senses are supposed to be tingling and that’s manifested in the hyper-reality of the clouds. I also think the mental hospital set is gorgeous.

It’s a good effort, ladies and gentleman.

But enough with the love triangles or quadrangles or whatever this nonsense is you have planned.

We now have Follmer pawing at Reyes, Scully pining after Mulder, and Doggett dreaming of Scully. What’s next, Reyes flirting with Doggett?

Oh.

B-

Scrabble:

I really like the black opening of riding in the car with Reyes.

So… remember that time Doggett and Reyes walked into the padded cell of a crazy man and closed the door behind themselves?

What did he just vomit up? Niagara Falls?

The checkmate ending feels… awkward.

Nest of Bile can be found here – “Squeeze” (1×2)

Possessed Sewer Cats can be found here – “Teso Dos Bichos” (3×18)

Best Quotes:

Reyes: Did Dr. Richmond display any knowledge of Satanic lure, or speak of demonic possession?
Dr. Sampson: No, he was perfectly cogent. He didn’t suffer from those kinds of delusions.
Reyes: I’m not really asking about delusions. When you last spoke to him did he seem himself?
Dr. Sampson: Seem himself?
Reyes: I mean did he display a personality other than his own? Speaking tongues or in any language which he didn’t know?
Dr. Sampson: You’re asking me if he was possessed? This is the 21st Century, Miss Reyes. We stopped looking a long time ago to demons to explain mental illness.
Reyes: I’m not really talking about mental illness.

——————–

Reyes: What if it’s ectoplasm?
Doggett: Ectoplasm?
Reyes: You’ve heard of it, Agent Scully?
Scully: Agent Mulder used to refer to it as “psychic plasma”: a residual by product of telepathic communication. In theory, it would have inorganic properties that couldn’t be explained otherwise.
Doggett: So what are we talking now? The Ghostbusters?

Nothing Important Happened Today 9×1: Like we got anything better to be doing these days.


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Peek-a-boo.

I always get a funny feeling in my gut at this point in my rewatches. As it was when Season 9 first aired, so it is now. There’s a new team on the X-Files. Mulder and Scully are gone. Watching is like trying to find joy in life again after the death of a loved one.

I’ll reiterate my wish that Doggett and Reyes and gotten a completely fresh start, a new series even, out from underneath the long shadow of Mulder and Scully. To keep the metaphor going, sometimes it’s easier to hang out with a whole new group of people than try to keep the party going with the same group after one of you is gone. But some dreams can never be… unless you have your own head cannon and can discard unhappy developments at will.

I was… am… a die hard. However much I may have wished… do wish… things had played out differently for our characters, there was no way I wasn’t going to watch The X-Files to even the bitterest of bitter ends. I won’t lie, Season 9 challenged my loyalty a couple of times, but we’re still here The X-Files and I.

And I knew there were things to look forward to. It wasn’t only Mulder and Scully that I loved, though I’ll always love them best of all. There was also Skinner and the Lone Gunmen. Doggett and Reyes seemed promising to me too. Besides, as long as Scully was around there was always the possibility and expectation that Mulder would show up again sooner or later. The continual longing for Mulder being a key element of Season 9 and, in my uninformed opinion, a large part of its eventual downfall. Let me not get ahead of myself, though.

The credits have changed again and it’s bittersweet. It’s not Mulder and Scully anymore. It’s Scully and Doggett and Reyes and… Skinner?? Yeah, boy! You go get you some, Mitch Pileggi. You deserve it.

As when Mulder was missing in Season 8, 1013 instinctively knows that they’re going to have to pull out all the stops if they’re going to keep their audience’s interest without one of the pillars of the show. Chris Carter does what he does best and ramps up the dramatic action. We’ve got stunts and explosions, barenaked backs and Lucy Lawless… I’m not mad at the effort.

I’m kinda wondering when this became The SeX-Files, though. Oh, there’s nothing crazy, especially not by today’s standards. But I’m a little worried that we’ve reached the point where a show that stayed almost religiously mum on our leads’ private lives now exploits them to stay relevant… though maybe that’s been coming down the pike for a while.

She’s only been in the X-Files unit a few days and Reyes’ finds out that her old flame is now her new boss. Talk about awkward. It’d be even more awkward if he toppled down a hill yelling, “As… you…. wish!” Awkward, but delightful.

While I’m not sold on the relationship drama, I think Cary Elwes as Assistant Director Brad Follmer was a brilliant bit of casting. He brings a slick self-assurance that’s different than either Skinner or Kersh. And his motivations, other than wanting to get Reyes back in bed, are deliciously vague.

His suave manner also makes him a great foil for Doggett the straight shooter. Too bad Mulder’s not still here. I’m sure he and Doggett would have hated him together. It could have been a bonding experience.

Yet Mulder is gone, and gone a mere forty-eight hours after we last saw him basking in the glow of domestic bliss that was “Existence” (8×21). A mere forty-eight hours since he and Scully finally found their hard-earned happiness.

Personal Foul – Unnecessary Roughness – 1013 Productions.

Let them have a minute. Sheesh.

In a way, though, Mulder’s still here. Doggett’s the new Mulder. He’s quickly learning what it really means to work on the X-Files: Being hushed, discredited, and losing your evidence comes with the territory. What gets me is that neither Scully nor Skinner will just come out and tell Doggett that Mulder left because he’s in danger and to drop the investigation or he’ll be at even more risk. How hard would that be? Instead we get time consuming conversations full of cryptic innuendo that lead the plot nowhere. Say it or don’t say it, but someone stop twisting Doggett around.

Reyes is on Doggett’s side at least. Now she’s more poised and more self-possessed than we saw her in the Season 8 finale. That’s a welcome change. I enjoy watching her play Follmer in the bar even as part of me cringes at the thought of her turning into one of those characters who wins using her feminine wiles. It was a great scene, but a fine line to walk.

Verdict:

You know, I’m pretty impressed. They really pulled out all the stops with this one. Tell me the big bang of an opening teaser didn’t grab your attention.

The tone of the show is necessarily changing – more interpersonal intrigue and less impersonal conspiracy. It remains to be seen if that’s a change for the better, but I always had my doubts. Even the face of the new evil, Knowle Rohrer the Super Soldier, is super evil because he used to be Doggett’s friend. And if one old military buddy turns out to be a Super Soldier, try, try again.

But silly me, jumping ahead to the next episode and the Super Sexy Soldier that is Shannon McMahon. I must say, Lucy Lawless would have been a great addition to the cast. It’s too bad that a difficult pregnancy kept her from being able to return. But there’s always room for a Xena revival, right?

One thing I take vehement issue with is the William development, or redevelopment, to be more accurate. He was a normal baby, then he was an alien baby, then he was a super baby, then he was a normal baby… and now he’s what?

For the love of all that is Mulder and Scully, I beg you to stop this.

B

Incriminating Evidence:

How about Frohike trying to tiptoe his way up to Doggett’s peephole was just the best part of this episode.

Also, if you have time and streaming ability, The Lone Gunmen series is worth checking out. It had been canceled by this point and some references to the final episode were cleverly included here.

I used to watch Hercules and Xena on Saturdays before I’d tape reruns of The X-Files. Eventually, all fandoms converge.

Maggie Scully’s on babysitting duty. I’d expect nothing less.

I can’t get used to them all calling each other by their first names.

Pencils in the ceiling. Mulder’s ghost roams eternally.

Why do we wake up to both a half naked Doggett and a half naked Reyes? We get it. They’re sexy.

Mulder’s apartment is cleaned out. Someone stab me. It would hurt less.

You can briefly see what I believe is Mulder’s fishtank in Scully’s apartment during the scene where Maggie Scully babysits. I don’t see it in the next episode, though.

Internal Investigations:

If William is super human after all, could the Super Soldiers not detect that in “Existence” or did they leave him alive for another reason?

This again begs the question, is Scully’s baby the result of some kind of testing or the result of her union with Mulder or both?

Mulder’s going on the lam with that much luggage?

Follmer knows something about the conspiracy or else he couldn’t have slipped that information to Reyes.

Skinner was against the investigation, now he’s in on it again?

How did Follmer know where to find Doggett in Maryland?

Best Quotes:

Kersh: How’s your investigation going, John? Have you turned up any incriminating evidence on me yet?
Doggett: It’s only Monday morning, sir.

——————–

Frohike: [At front door] Collecting for the needy and unemployed. Open the door.
Doggett: [Opens door] Thanks for doing this, guys.
Byers: Yeah, like we got anything better to be doing these days.
Frohike: Just to let you know, we may need to get you up for some coin.