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The X-Files - Season 8
Reviewed by Amy H. Sturgis, ©

Format: TV
By:   Chris Carter
Genre:   Suspense / Science Fiction / Horror / Mystery
Review Date:  

"Trust No One," the watchwords of The X-Files, seemed to apply not only to cigarette-smoking men and shadow government committees, but also to Executive Producer Chris Carter and star David Duchovny in the eighth season of the Fox phenomenon. The series that put Gen-X conspiracy theories on the sci-fi map followed the quest of FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder and spy-turned-comrade Special Agent Dana Scully as the two uncovered secret government agendas, past paranormal mysteries, and monsters of the week. Season eight faced a unique challenge: could the show go on without the abducted Fox Mulder, the central knight errant and true believer of the show?

Carter and Duchovny tried to answer the question with a "yes and no," by stringing along the audience, turning a blind eye to continuity, and offering brief, less-than-even-cameo glimpses of Duchovny, which he deigned to shoot while following the siren song of his awaiting screen career. (After comparing Duchovny's Evolution to X-Files co-star Gillian Anderson's House of Mirth, one feels compelled to advise him to keep his day job.) Despite Carter and Duchovny's attempts to have their respective cakes and eat them, too, their half-hearted antics could not put a serious dent in the consistent excellence of Gillian Anderson's performances and the unexpected delight of X-Files newcomer Robert Patrick.

The urgency of "where's Mulder?" gave way to an ambivalent "Mulder who?" during the season as Dana Scully learned to work with her new partner, Special Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick), who not only came from the wrong side of the tracks, but also did other non-Mulderish things such as carry a flashlight, check in with his superiors, and listen to his partner once in a while. Doggett also proved able to out-angst Mulder; Mulder's sister might have been kidnapped by stardust (don't ask - not even Chris Carter himself understands what that was about), but Doggett's son was violently murdered and the crime remains unsolved. Much of the show's celebrated mytharc went the way of the dodo during the season, but Doggett's bulldog-like skepticism and Scully's passionate vision, when it wasn't manifesting itself in uncharacteristic bouts of tears and self-absorption, went a long way to making even the most mundane episode viewer-friendly. Also, at long last, Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) seemed to be developing a more crucial role - and chemistry - with the duo and their search for answers.

The two-part season finale of "Essence" and "Existence" (May 13 and May 20, 2001, respectively) offered a radical departure from the rest of the season. First, although the series' creator, stars, and writers seemed to have forgotten this tidbit from the previous season, it appeared that Dana Scully was, in fact, pregnant for the entire year. Carter and company remembered this fact in time to labor over a none-too-subtle "virgin birth" scenario in the finale that cast Scully as Mary, a returned and recovered Mulder as Joseph, a wide place in the Georgia road as Bethlehem's stable, the Lone Gunmen as the three wise men, and John Doggett as Sir Not Appearing in this Metaphor. Second, the series recovered the mytharc in time to treat viewers to the return - and death - of the so-bad-he's-good villain Alex Krychek. Third, the finale force-fed fans a new and unimpressive addition to the cast, Annabeth Gish as Special Agent Monica Reyes.

Last but not least, the final scene of "Existence" offered a family portrait: baby William Scully (whose biological paternity remains an X-File of its own) in the arms of a lip-locked Scully and Mulder. On the heels of this scene - warming to some, nauseating to others - came the news that David Duchovny will not reprise the role of Fox Mulder again. It seems that the ninth season, like the eighth, will begin with an unanswered question: in this case, how will Mulder's permanent absence be explained after this tender scene of domesticity?

Finale aside, the eighth season of The X-Files proved that paranoia was bigger than one man, be he David Duchovny or his alter ego, Fox Mulder. Robert Patrick definitely earned his honor as Best Television Actor at the recent 27th Annual Saturn Awards. Until the ninth season continues to follow the quest of Scully, Doggett, Reyes, and their allies and enemies, fans can turn to the Web for X-Files fixes that range from the encyclopedic (http://www.thexfiles.com, http://www.xfroadrunners.com/) to the eccentric (http://www.obsse.com/, http://geocities.com/msebasky/slug_hymnal.html). All will be well as long as they remember that, even if the truth is out there, Chris Carter may not be paying attention.

Amy H. Sturgis is a contributing writer for RevolutionSF.

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