This episode, more than any other thus far, has driven the message home.
Sure, this is not a mythology episode, any more than "Patience" was. But the two episodes are linked thematically. In "Patience", we saw the beginnings of Doggett's introduction to the X-Files and his education working with Scully. "Alone" marks the end of that process, leaving Doggett fully in charge of the X-Files.
We get the solid sense here that Scully, while technically only on maternity leave, knows that this is the end of her time on the X-Files. Certainly Kersh would see to that. And just as honestly, we are shown that Mulder has accepted the new path that his life is destined to take. His earnest attempts at becoming a father to Scully's child, no matter the true parentage, speaks to his words in "Requiem", nearly a year ago. For Mulder, for Scully, the time has come when the personal costs are simply too high.
There are some memorable moments where we get to stroll down memory lane with Mulder and Scully, revisting a few random moments from the past eight years. In this, we are allowed to peer into the feelings of sadness and acceptance that "life is change". We remember, and just as in our own lives, we recognize that sometimes we cannot go back.
I get the impression that this episode was originally meant to introduce Agent Reyes as the latest assigned agent to the X-Files, based on the way that it was structured. One can easily see how this episode could have been written to show Reyes as she is welcomed into the fold. Certainly it was odd to see the online guide for my TV service telling me that Doggett and Reyes were the ones conducting the investigation!
Instead, modifications were made to insert Agent Harrison, an homage to a recently passed online X-Phile. It is a wonderfully sweet gesture, and I approve to that extent. And I honestly understand that it allowed Frank Spotnitz to write an episode that explored the transition to Doggett's ownership of the X-Files as well as poke fun at some of the fans.
Only I absolutely disliked Agent Harrison. I find it rather difficult to believe that some agent stuck in accounting would be able to remember the X-Files history better than the actual agents. Who would have liked Mulder or Scully to rattle off similar instances in their past whenever they were investigating some aspect of the mythology? It was a great joke on the nitpicking nature of fandom, but not very realistic in terms of the actual series.
In a similar fashion, the manner in which Mulder and Scully embraced Harrison as one of the team was simply not in character for either of them. Is this supposed to be the same Mulder who took weeks to accept Doggett as the new face in the office? Or the same Scully who was still questioning Doggett's motivations and loyalties after months of working with him?
The fact is, Harrison was assigned to the X-Files to slow Doggett down to a grinding halt, and in any other instance, that would have been recognized. But because this was an homage to fandom in general and a deceased fan in particular, a warm fuzzy glow was required.
This aura of falseness disturbed me throughout the show, and while this episode was able to convey a certain emotional closure for the series to date, leaving the finale to give us closure on the mythology, I could not escape the feeling that this was a largely unrealized episode.
Some other thoughts:
- All right, Frank, you get points for all of those continuity references, but where was this amazing memory when it came to the mythology over the past five years? (And not to revisit a sore wound for many, but why did you forget Scully's tattoo and scars in "Roadrunners" if you could remember Queeqegg?)
- While some might have taken Doggett's exuberance at the prospect of Scully's return as some hint of his affections, I saw it differently. Scully was his only lifeline, someone who understood the X-Files and could shield him, in a sense, from the more questionable aspects of the cases they had investigated. Now he is on his own, and he can no longer hide from the things he might otherwise leave for Scully.
- All that money, and what do we wind up with? Domestic!Mulder. Somebody get me a bottle of whiskey, two bullets, and a gun...
- For that matter, could someone hand all of that over to Doggett? He looked like he was ready to ask for the same thing after five minutes with Agent Harrison. Can't say I blame him...
- Not only does Mulder get to keep his job, but he after getting fired for nearly starting an international incident, he walks onto a federal investigation, impersonates a federal officer...and gets away with it without a bit of prosecution!
- OK, Mulder, so it's just fine for Scully to conduct illegal autopsies for you, but not for Doggett?
- Did anyone else think that Doggett was refering to Scully's child when he said that someone else deserved the medallion more?
- Just how did Mulder and Scully get from Antarctica?
Overall, this was an episode that dealt with the emotional needs of the audience in a way that was less effective than it might have been.
I give it a 7/10.
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