Friday, December 18, 2015

The X-Files - S8:E14 "This is Not Happening"

[ S8:E13 "Per Manum" <<< Season 8 >>> S8:E15 "Deadalive" ]

Spoiler Warning: This is another mythology episode (there are going to be a lot of these over the next few days). Spoilers to follow.

Finally, we pick up on the thread of Mulder's disappearance! This episode begins with an exciting opener, in which that guy from Requiem (yeah, I didn't remember him either) is chasing a UFO. We see it land, and activate its cloaking device, like we've seen before (especially in Within/Without). It sticks around just long enough to spit out that girl from Oregon - Theresa, an abductee - in critical condition. The UFO leaves her for dead, and the UFO chaser finds her, while scaring off an unknown interloper whom he assumes is alien. It's actually pretty neat, the story that this episode pieces together - Jeremiah Smith (the unforgettable miracle healer from Talitha Cumi) is back in action, and still as much a rebel as ever. The aliens are apparently in a coverup phase now, since their deal with the Syndicate went bad (recall the conclusion to One Son), and are trying to dispose of all evidence of their human experiments. They're trying to eliminate abductees, but Jeremiah Smith (working with a former doomsday cult leader that sounds like a character out of Millennium) is following the UFO(s?) around, scooping up the dead or dying abductees being spit out, in an attempt to use his powers to heal them.

And that's where Scully and Doggett (and Skinner) come in, because maybe this is how they're going to find Mulder! But we also get introduced to a new character in this episode, Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) - pronounced "Ray-ess", or "Ray-ez, not "Raise". I have mixed feelings about this character. She's not eminently detestable the way Diana Fowley was, but there are just some things about her. Like the fact that she smokes Morley cigarettes (which, on this show, is shorthand for drawing the audience's ire). And that she initially pisses Scully off (rightly) by suggesting that, rather than being abducted, Mulder may have joined a UFO cult (cue eye-rolling). A specialist in "ritualistic crime", she at first comes off as a skeptic, only to waffle and reveal later that she's a believer in cosmic energies. What are we supposed to think about her? She's also a friend of Doggett's - and through her past connection with him, we learn a little bit more about the son Doggett lost, which was hinted at in Invocation.

So - I don't know, because I stopped watching the series before this point, but I've heard some things, and it gets me worried. I have this feeling that Agent Reyes is being set up to eventually replace Scully, in a kind of next generation X-Files with Doggett/Reyes in place of Mulder/Scully. And I can't say I feel very confident about a change of that magnitude. But I can see how the show could easily progress that way. Eventually, Mulder's going to come back from his abduction, and what then? I don't see him coming back full-time, so without the excuse of his abduction, how are the creators going to explain his non-appearance on the show? Unless they shift focus, and make the show about someone else (e.g., Doggett and/or Reyes). And Gillian Anderson is already following in David Duchovny's footsteps in terms of appearing hardly or not at all in episodes every now and then. After this pregnancy plotline is resolved, how are the creators going to keep coming up with excuses to give Gillian Anderson breaks from shooting? Unless her character is re-written in a more occasional (maybe advisory?) capacity.

Anyway, I guess I'm just going to have to keep watching and find out when it happens. We do in fact find Mulder by the end of this episode. But he appears to be dead. There's a dramatic irony in that it's possible the agents' raid of the cultleader's refuge may have been what prevented Jeremiah Smith from healing Mulder in time. Talk about a morbid turn of events. Then a UFO comes down and scoops up Jeremiah Smith before he's able to do anything further for Mulder. It's a pretty heartbreaking cliffhanger, although honestly, all the melodrama rings a little hollow for me. For one thing, you know that surely they'll find a way to revive Mulder. And all the focus on Scully's pain is getting to be a bit much. This show has just put her through the ringer, I know, and it's an opportunity for Gillian Anderson to show her range as an actress. I don't know if I'm just getting bored with it this late in the series, if I'm just not feeling the storyline like I used to, or if Gillian Anderson is doing something differently. But I'm not quite as invested as I used to be. But I still want to know what happens next.

To be continued...

Memorable quotes:

Doggett: You ever hear of an alien in Nike's?

Doggett: Bad as you wanna find Mulder, you're afraid to find him, too.

Reyes: What we think happened and what actually happened aren't always the same thing. But not altogether insignificant, either.
Scully: I'm sorry, this feels like therapy.

Doggett: This is where we part company.
Scully: Enjoy your new company.

(A sign of things to come, maybe?)

Scully: What is it you specialize in again? Ritualistic crime?
Reyes: Right. Satanic ritual abuse. Or I should say claims of it. We never found any hard evidence.
Scully: We should talk sometime.

(If this were the NCMEC, it would be a different story, but does the FBI really have agents dedicated to a field of inquiry that has no reported evidence to back it up? Oh, that's right, they fund The X-Files. Silly me).

Absalom: How many times can I tell you?
Doggett: It's early. Coffee's hot.

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