The X-Files #281: Release

"He thinks he failed Luke. In his mind, he can never do enough, never suffer enough, for what happened."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A promising cadet helps Doggett solve the murder of his son.

REVIEW: Before we go, we do get a proper resolution to a long-standing subplot - just who killed Doggett's son and why? Possible answers come from an intense cadet in Scully's class who seems to have profiling powers on the order of Frank Black, or perhaps a young Mulder. Or Sherlock, really. He almost literally "sees" the murder. (Hey, remember when Reyes was kind of like that? Did the production realize why Star Trek TNG started keeping Deanna Troi off the Away Teams?) He convinces Doggett that he can solve his son's murder, but are we as easily convinced? It's an investigation that goes through a number of twists and turns, vindicates our suspicions, and then proposes they were unfounded. This is one of director Kim Manners' best episodes, because even as the story keeps us guessing and asks us to constantly reevaluate the situation, he also makes his camera look at the world in an unusual way. We're often at an odd angle, or looking at things from a strange perspective (arguably, young cadet Hayes').

So we start thinking this veritable savant has unlocked the mystery and definitively fingered a mobster who always escaped prosecution thanks to a corrupt/blackmailed agent (now assistant director) Follmer. What we don't have is a way to prove it more than circumstantially, no motive, etc. Then it's brought to light that Hayes is a schizophrenic who conned himself a place at the Academy, a man recognized "from somewhere" by Doggett's ex-wife (hey, I didn't realize the character was played by Robert Patrick's actual spouse!). Is he the actual murderer, or was he just stalking the Doggett's all this time trying to solve a murder that "called to him"? This isn't just an X-File because Hayes has inexplicable powers of deduction, but because though the mystery is solved convincingly, it is not done so definitively.

See, the brazen mobster seemed to have no motive, but he tells Doggett a story that COULD have happened (and we're sure, did), about a "businessman" who had dealings with a monster who liked little boys, who walked in on that monster, and whose face was seen by the child. Wouldn't that child have to die to keep the secret of the businessman's association with the monster? Before Doggett can commit a revenge-murder, the mobster is killed by Follmer, looking positively unhinged, in what is his last appearance. So two resolutions for the price of one. On the one hand, Doggett is "freed" from his obligations to his son, and according to his ex-wife, might finally have something with Reyes. A hopeful end. On the other, we learn enough about the Follmer-Reyes relationship to be satisfied this subplot has been addressed, and since we never see Follmer again, may well decide that his career is destroyed by the murder of his blackmailer. He's an antagonist pushed off the board in a redemptive way, saving Doggett from himself and redressing the wrongs he did by covering, albeit unknowingly, for a child killer. But by not vocalizing Follmer's motivation, the show leaves some doubt there as well; he could just have been putting an end to the hold the mobster had on him, with a cover story ready to go to save his own hide. We don't know, but it probably doesn't matter. What does matter is that Doggett and Reyes are released from their emotional strife in time for the series finale, in a way that has yet to happen to Scully and Mulder.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: In "Empedocles", it seemed like a super-heated demon was responsible for the death of Doggett's son, so was Reyes wrong on that episode? She need not be. The suspect possessed by the demon in that story was killed in a car accident before passing on his possession, and he's the "monster" who would have abducted Doggett's son, and who the mobster caught red-handed.

REWATCHABILITY: High - A strong finish for one of the X-Files' personal stories (something of a miracle), emotional and beautifully directed, and that manages to do a little more house-cleaning than you'd expect.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Orville Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine