Monday, December 21, 2015

The X-Files - S8:E16 "Three Words"

[ S8:E15 "Deadalive" <<< Season 8 >>> S8:E17 "Empedocles" ]

Spoiler Warning: The string of mythology episodes continues! Beware of spoilers.

This episode continues from the last one like as if it had ended with a "to be continued" (and I'm pretty sure it didn't). When, honestly, I think this episode is more connected with the last one than the last one was to the one before it (which did have a "to be continued"). I guess you can just chalk it up to the increasingly serial nature of the story in this season (at least the second half). The A.V. Club has written in their reviews that this season feels the most modern, in the sense of being more serial and less episodic than it had always been, and I can definitely see that. I just wonder to what extent that is a result of the contract disputes with David Duchovny - only getting him for so many episodes, and kinda having to push the mythology to the back end of the season, so that they can make those stories count, instead of spreading the mythology out more like they used to.

In any case, this episode opens with a census worker jumping the White House fence and dying in the process of trying to warn the president about an alien invasion already in progress. I guess that's what this whole body snatchers pod thing is about. It's a nice opportunity for this show to resurrect its themes of government conspiracy, even in the absence of the Syndicate. The surprise star of this episode is the "informant", Knowle, that Doggett consulted in Per Manum (and who probably set him up then, too). He's obviously not to be trusted, and by the end of the episode it's clear that he's one of these alien things (it's funny, the man who plays the character - Adam Baldwin - even looks kinda like Brian Thompson, who played the Alien Bounty Hunter). But up to that point, you definitely get a bit of an 'X' feeling from him - that he relies on Doggett knowing he's being set up in order to make the most of the information given without compromising his position. Even if he doesn't strictly turn out to play the role of an informant, he's still got more of that intrigue that Marita Covarrubias always lacked as X's "replacement".

On the other front, Mulder is still recovering - having flashbacks to his torture at the hands of the aliens (yet they seem to lack the intensity of Duane Barry's). But he's otherwise in perfect health; apparently the disease that was plaguing him from before is gone, making you wonder if there was ever a point to that retconned plotline after all? His reaction to Scully's pregnancy is understated, although when Langly suggests the possibility of his involvement, he seems legitimately surprised. It's another one of those things that could be nothing, but could also hint at alternative explanations (alien baby!). Regardless, Mulder wastes very little time getting back to his usual manner of following hunches and breaking the rules. It reminds you how much has changed since he left the show, and it's legitimately nostalgic. You can't help thinking how many adventures we would have missed out on using Doggett's by-the-books approach. And that, only Mulder's almost gleefully anti-authoritarian stance holds any chance of fighting back against a true government conspiracy.

On that note, Kersh lays down another whammy - citing improved success rates since Doggett joined the X-Files - in order to deny Mulder reinstatement on the project (talk about kicking a man while he's down), threatening to close the X-Files altogether if Doggett refuses to usurp Mulder's position, now that he's back. This inevitably creates some friction between the two agents, manifesting as some light antagonism, leading up to a direct confrontation, and something of an ultimate reconciliation by the end of the episode. It's a testament to how far we've come in just fifteen episodes. When Scully threw the water in Doggett's face in Within, it felt right - even if Doggett didn't really deserve it. But now, Mulder's got him in a similar position, and all I can think is that he's being unreasonable. I've come to like Doggett - not as a replacement for Mulder, but as his own character - and I want Mulder to like him, too. I actually want to see them getting along!

Absalom turns up again in this episode, too. He manages to escape prison using a board with a nail in it (lol), but only gets himself killed for his efforts. For what it's worth, Mulder takes up his mantle, infiltrating the census bureau (old-school style with the Lone Gunmen, like in Memento Mori) in the hope of getting proof of the alien invasion - although ultimately to no avail. This is partly due to Doggett being set up by his alien contact. One wonders to what extent the aliens have infiltrated the government - this could be a different kind of conspiracy, altogether, where the conspirators are not sympathizers, but aliens themselves! All of this would seem to suggest - thinking ahead to the new episodes coming in January - that this show can be successful playing with its original themes and concepts even if some of the old characters (though preferably not Mulder or Scully) are replaced by newer stand-ins. Which is promising.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Mulder, are you okay?
Mulder: Yeah. For a guy who was in a coffin not too long ago, I think I'm doing pretty damn good.

Kersh: You never see 'em coming. People are so rarely what they seem.

Doggett: You sent me to find Mulder. I found him. Don't charge me with drivin' a stake through his heart.

Absalom: Doubting Thomas is going to spread the word.
Doggett: What word?
Absalom: The invasion has begun.

Scully: Mulder, you make it sound like this was a conspiracy.
Mulder: Ooh. There's that word again.

Skinner: You know, I'm startin' to wonder about you too, John. Just whose side you are working on here.
Doggett: I'm startin' to wonder about that myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment