The X-Files #232: Without

"This reads like a piece of pot-boiled science-fiction." "You mean it reads like an X-File."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: The alien Bounty Hunter makes friend turn against friend as Scully, Skinner and Doggett try to find Gibson Praise, and hopefully, Mulder.

By the end of this episode, Doggett must believably be assigned to the X-Files, but must we accept him as Mulder's replacement already? We don't have to, but I think we do. Sorry 'shippers! First, it's pretty clear that though Deputy Director Kersh is a tool - I'm not convinced he's part of any Conspiracy, myself - Doggett is merely a good soldier, doing his job and doing it competently. So why would the FBI's rising star be promoted down to the X-Files? Well, when you start talking about aliens, your star tends to start its descent, you know? And if Skinner is right, and having navigated FBI politics for a while now, he probably is, Kersh has set Doggett up to fail and taken out a future competitor for the FBI's big chairs. But does that mean Kersh believes in aliens more than he lets on, just not in the virtue of talking about it? Or does he know that pointing him in Mulder and Scully's general direction will taint him with their crazy theories? Would make sense. That Doggett sees things he cannot explain, puts them in his report in spite of Skinner's warnings, and accepts his new position with such grace says a lot about the man, and I love his last scene here. I've warmed to him completely.

I also love the quick reference to his seeing things he couldn't explain while he was a cop; not only does it make complete sense in this universe, but it sets him up as someone who CAN believe. Scully was a denier, even after she really shouldn't have been. Doggett need not be. The dynamic has changed, of course. The scientist is now the true believer, and it's the investigator who hasn't yet been introduced to the supernatural. I can't wait to see how this plays on in a one-off case. Her belief, for now, is so strong, or should we say so hopeful, that her imagination turns a helicopter into a UFO - and we believe it too, thanks to the music and lighting. But though she's wrong, irony hounds her - the ship that holds Mulder is behind a cloaking screen, right there. Mulder's been down this path, now it's her turn.

Paranoia runs high in Without, with the Bounty Hunter running around as the rest of the cast (was Robert Patrick having Terminator 2 flashbacks?). Most of the time, his dead eyes and a strident musical sting give him away, but there are those moments when he acts a little more, and even the audience can't tell. If there's a theme at play, it's that of distortion. The Bounty Hunter's shifting identity , the invisibility screen, Gibson Praise's telepathic POV, Scully's delusions, everyone lying to everyone, and even the scare about Skinner's death but his getting better, all fit this motif. The Bounty Hunter also appears to die, but who knows if it's the same guy we've always seen? The final scene reveals it's a common enough face among the aliens.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A good episode for Doggett and Scully both, with a strong scare for Skinner and a paranoid script, though that atmosphere might work a little better if they didn't telegraph the alien Bounty Hunter's presence.


SallyP said...

IS... don't know exactly what is gong on in that picture... but I do hope he gets to enjoy it.

Siskoid said...

Looked really painful, actually.


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