"I'm betting that Agent Doggett can take care of himself, he's a big boy."
REVIEW: It's not quite over yet, but this might as well be Scully's farewell episode. She touchingly looks through souvenirs from old cases (oh Queequeg) and gives Doggett the Apollo 11 keychain Mulder had given her. It's a plot point later, and she's really making it all up when she says it's about teamwork, but the sentiment is real nonetheless. Her goodbye to Doggett is gracious and essentially tells the audience we should want to follow him now, and I think we do. Even though he's assigned a new partner, he still seems a man alone, often cast in darkness or made a small figure in a big environment. Though his abilities are certainly better suited at chasing monsters (as in this episode) than the paranormal, he still lacks the experience Scully brought to the team. Reyes might be a good choice, but first, Kersh needs to troll him a little bit... (So good thing Mulder trolls Kersh by using his name in the field.)
His new (one-shot) partner is rookie agent Leyla Harrison is named after a superfan and fanfic writer who passes away, a lovely thing to do in principle, but ultimately a distracting and cutesy one. See, she can't just be a rookie, she has to be a "fan" of Mulder and Scully who always wanted to work on the X-Files and has read all the files, name drops her favorite cases/episodes, and asks questions about inconsistencies in the movie's plot. It calls attention to itself even if you don't know the "inside story". I do like Mulder and Scully trying to answer her questions like a lightly bickering couple, great bit, but it comes on the heels of their giving her the Apollo 11 keychain before she's whisked off stage. Yes, the plucky agent did help solve the X-Files and got a trial by fire, but she gets the keychain because she's based on the fan, not because of anything the character does, which is overly sentimental; it breaks the fourth wall.
Episodes where new partner dynamics are being tried have cropped up a lot lately, and often it's the case of the week that takes the hit. That's true here. I've tried to summarize the situation several times, but it's so underdeveloped, it asks more questions than it answers. Just what were the monster's caretakers supposed to do and what was the screw-up that let it loose? How was the monster created? Did that scientist experiment on himself? Why doesn't he have any qualms about eating people? A fuller character might have them, but this guy's just nasty and has whatever powers the plot requires him to have. So his spit first blinds you, then makes you non-responsive, then hardens you skin, then liquefies your insides. It's good body horror, but all a little ridiculous and in the background. There's no room for more suspects so might as well make it obvious, eh?
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I think we're ready for a Doggett/Reyes duo, so this seems an unnecessary detour. It's got some good bits and is well shot, but it's hard to care about the monster of the week or the new and quickly discarded (though that, like a lot of things in the episode, isn't particularly clear) new partner.