Monday, January 4, 2016

The X-Files - S9:E7 "John Doe"

[ S9:E6 "Trust No 1" <<< Season 9 >>> S9:E8 "Hellbound" ]

I never thought I'd say this, but...thank god it's another freak-of-the-week episode! Granted, the last one (Lord of the Flies) wasn't much to inspire confidence - proving that the problems in this season are not purely limited to the mythology. But, thankfully, this episode is more in line with the quality of 4-D. After a season-long hiatus (presumably to work on the short-lived Lone Gunmen spin-off), Vince Gilligan returns with his first episode since Roadrunners (which was another good one). It's funny to think about the different sorts of episodes Vince Gilligan has written for this series. You've got the serious ones - like Pusher, and Paper Hearts - and then you've got the funny ones - like Small Potatoes, and Bad Blood - not to mention the silly ones he's worked on with John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz (including the aforementioned Lone Gunmen spin-off). Of them all - even more so than Drive, which starred Bryan Cranston - this one feels the most consistent coming from the mind of the man who created Breaking Bad (at least judging from its reputation, as I have yet to watch the show). It's pretty gritty; even the picture has a stark and grainy quality to it, like as if the celluloid is crackling and popping under the heat and pressure.

In a setup that vaguely resembles something from Midnight Express, Doggett ends up on the wrong side of a drug cartel and wakes up in a bright, Mexican slum where people go to disappear (incidentally, this might be the series' most successful execution of an "ethnic" episode). He has no ID, and can't remember so much as his own name - recalling another good episode, Demons, in which it was Mulder who found himself in a sticky situation that he couldn't remember getting himself into, and had to put the pieces together in order to save himself (with a little help from his partner, of course). There's a brief appearance by Kersh, who now seems to be settling in to the role of the strict bureaucrat with ambiguous loyalties that Skinner served in earlier seasons, before being (promoted? demoted?) to standby agent in Mulder's absence. His hands are tied by politics, leaving Skinner, Scully, and Reyes to rescue Doggett on their own initiative. Lucky for Doggett, Reyes was born and raised in Mexico. The paranormal element in this episode is minuscule - you don't see hide nor hair of it until 34 minutes in, and even then, it's barely significant - but rest assured, that doesn't detract from the quality of this episode.

Memorable quotes:

Doggett: "People like me"? You don't know me.
Domingo: Hey, you don't know you.

Reyes: "Pillar of the community"? Does anyone actually use that phrase except mob lawyers?

Skull Guy: 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 wanna struggle so long and hard to get that pain back?
Doggett: Because it's mine.

Doggett: I'll take the bad, long as I can remember the good.

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