The Best and Worst of Season 8

Best & Worst of Season 8

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

After the aches and pains of season seven, the eighth season of The X-Files actually felt reinvigorated, even with Fox Mulder missing from a good chunk of the action. Rewatching this season was ultimately a delight for us — while some monster of the week episodes still lagged in the way that episodes from season seven did, there were other episodes that were genuinely inspired. Plus, the emotional aspects of this season were really well done, thanks in large part to Gillian Anderson’s powerhouse performances. And we really do think that Agent John Doggett is a pretty decent guy, even if he is a bit square compared to a certain spooky G-man.

So we continue our grand tradition of looking back at the best and worst of the season. As always, two-part mythology episodes (including a certain two-parter that had a weeks-long hiatus in between) count as one installment for our purposes. Take a look at our nominees and give us your thoughts. Continue reading

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8×21: Existence

“All the sacrifice, the blood spilled– you’ve given nearly a decade of your life. Where the hell is it all going to end?” — John Doggett
“I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t.” — Fox Mulder

The threat of the super soldiers loom as Reyes helps Scully to give birth to her child. Meanwhile, Mulder and Doggett attempt to unravel a conspiracy within the FBI.

Existence

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: And so here were are sports fans, at the end of this season, and by the closing minutes we will have welcomed a new life into this strange world of aliens and other assorted freaks. The birth of little William — named in honor of Mulder’s father — is the cherry on top of a rollercoaster ride of danger and threats from within and without. We all know (and Radhika alluded to last post) of the unwritten rule that any shred of happiness that our heroes enjoy will be all too brief, so let us just take a step back to savor the truly blissful tableau of Scully, Mulder, and the miracle baby — a moment I think would warm even a noromo’s cold dead heart.

To get there though we have to wade through the conspiratorial fog of super soliders inside the Bureau. This is the first episode where we hear that term used to describe the new form of alien-human hybrids that have replaced people like Billy Miles, Knowle Rohrer, and the turncoat Agent Crane. Alex Krycek lays out the terrain to Mulder, Doggett, and Skinner, attempting to use what he knows as leverage to ensure his survival in this new world order we have going for us in the series’ mythology. Seeing both Rohrer and Crane enter the offices of Deputy Director Kersh, Doggett comes to fully realize the age old X-Files maxim of trusting no one, even though he can’t yet bring himself on board in believing all of this super soldier/alien colonization mumbo jumbo. Continue reading

8×20: Essence

“Your baby was a miracle. Born of a barren mother’s barren womb.” — Alex Krycek

As everyone prepares for the birth of Scully’s child, a new danger emerges in the form of super soldiers trying to put an end to the birth.

Essence

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: There’s an unwritten rule on The X-Files that our protagonists can’t have nice things. And so, it’s not entirely shocking that Scully — a once-barren woman about to give birth to a child she wants so badly — can’t really have a pleasant birthing experience. What we receive in turn is an action-packed episode with our heroes (and some friends and unlikely allies) up against some crazy new foes.

After a number of stretches where the show generally ignored Scully’s pregnancy, we’re finally at game time: Scully’s preparing to give birth — her mother’s helping her out, baby showers are happening and a woman named Lizzy Gill, found by Margaret Scully, is around to help as well. Meanwhile, a suspicious fire takes place at a genetics laboratory, leading Mulder to go to John Doggett in an effort to get to the bottom of things. “Billy Miles” is the culprit behind this and other attacks on labs — he’s now a reprogrammed alien replacement for Billy Miles (as indicated by weird bumps on the back of his neck), out to destroy evidence of experiments involving alien biology. Continue reading

Writing with Flashlights: The Fan Fiction of The X-Files

Leyla Harrison, the green FBI agent introduced in the last episode we reviewed, was named after a longtime Phile and prolific writer of X-Files fan fiction. Given this, I thought it appropriate to delve into this segment of the fandom.

Fanfiction

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

It may seem a bit outmoded nowadays for fans of genre fare to not be aware of the concept of fan fiction, which is a reflection of how enmeshed these tales are within the fabric of various fandoms. A big part of this has to do with the rise of the Internet, which gave people in disparate geographic locales a chance to meet and connect over their shared interests. I devoted a whole piece to this concept last year; for The X-Files, the spread of the World Wide Web went hand in hand with fans taking to the medium to write tales featuring their favorite characters.

Fanfiction

Star Trek fanzine.

I could go on about the historical origination of this phenomenon, including takes on Sherlock Holmes and the tales of Lewis Carroll, but I know you faithful readers would rather not engage in dry academia. Rather, the modern concept of what you and I consider fan fiction really originated with the pioneering science fiction show Star Trek. Fanzines about the program began to spring up, and many of them included stories about the USS Enterprise crew, penned by the show’s devotees. This was a natural and mutually beneficial combination — fanzines needed content, and the dissemination of these publications gave fan fiction writers an audience for their work, encouraging others who may not have done so otherwise to take up writing fan fiction as well.

The X-Files, as we all know, launched the Fall of 1993, and with it the opportunity for people to plug into a new and burgeoning fandom. Continue reading

8×19: Alone

“God, this really is an X-File, isn’t it?” — Leyla Harrison
“Congratulations.” — John Doggett

With Scully beginning her maternity leave, Doggett is left alone in the basement office… at least until a new face shows up with a case file.

Alone

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: “Alone” is a kind of breather episode before the one-two punch of the remaining episodes of season eight. But of course, being The X-Files, it is still filled with plenty of twists and chills to satiate Philes accustomed to that winning milieu. It is also a chance for the writers of the program to give back to the fans — and one fan in particular — who made the show the cultural force it became over the course of the 1990s. Usually penultimate episodes act as kind of summation of the themes of the season that preceded it, and this episode is no exception.

The episode revolves around the hunt for some kind of creature that was involved in the death and disappearance of a father and son in upstate New York. Doggett, now the sole agent in charge of the X-Files when Scully begins her maternity leave, learns of the case from junior agent Leyla Harrison, who begged Kersh to let her out of the accounting department to become his temporary partner. Sensing a good opportunity when he see it, Doggett and Harrison begin investigating. Continue reading

8×18: Vienen

“A man can die out here, sir, just going for a walk.” — Bo Taylor

Mulder and Doggett get stuck on an oil rig where the crew has been infected by…. what else? The black oil.

Vienen

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Black oil, black oil! Even though the mythology has generally gone off the rails by this point, or at least become something of a dull shadow of itself, it’s always fun to see the dreaded black oil return. The visuals of the oil traveling under people’s skin never stop being creepy and the idea of people being possessed by something is always well-suited to The X-Files. So the episode ultimately manages to contain some welcome callbacks even though it’s not entirely “classic”(largely due to the presence of Doggett and the different dynamics that are in play when he’s around).

Simon de la Cruz, a worker on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, is seen stabbing a crew member and trying to destroy radio equipment before he encounters another worker, Bo Taylor, whose body starts glowing. Cut to FBI headquarters, where Mulder is going on about de la Cruz’s body being covered in radiation burns. Doggett gets sent to investigate the situation, but finds Mulder already there. In the meantime, Scully is doing what she does best — an autopsy — and she finds the black oil in de la Cruz, except interestingly enough, the oil appears to be dead. She eventually concludes that de la Cruz is of Huecha Indian descent and may have a genetic immunity to the oil. Continue reading

8×17: Empedocles

“And I know what I saw. There’s a reason these things are happening. There is something at work here, and it all began with the man killed in the car crash.” — Monica Reyes

Monica Reyes approaches Mulder about a case linked to the death of Doggett’s son, all while the two men keep watch over Scully in the hospital.

Empedocles

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Belief. It is a powerful thing, and a tricky thing, a concept that many have struggled with in the grand scheme of human history — and one of the thematic underpinnings of The X-Files. The ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles believed so intensely in the supremacy of fire that according to legend he threw himself into a volcano so that he may become a god. The episode named in his honor is a fantastic hour that ties together a lot of disparate themes and plot points the show has accumulated over the years to come away with an interrogation of this core conceit, something it does pretty well.

After Jeb Dukes witnesses the end of a police chase soon after he gets fired from his job in New Orleans, some kind of hellish apparition apparently invades his body, which causes him to shoot and kill two of his former bosses. A local detective who believes this was motivated by a belief in satanic forces brings in Agent Monica Reyes. She initially dismisses these claims, but changes her mind when she sees a vision of one of the victim’s bodies being burned, an event she witnessed when she was assigned to find Doggett’s son Luke many years ago — a case that ended with them finding Luke’s body. Continue reading