The X-Files #268: 4-D

"TOO MUCH STAR TREK"
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A killer who moves between parallel worlds takes a dying Doggett with him, causing some consternation at the FBI.

REVIEW: While I personally like time travel/parallel Earths stories, even the good ones haven't been a good fit with the X-Files universe. And where paradoxes are concerned, no matter how intriguing the premise might be, it can all fall apart in the last act... as this one unfortunately does. It's too bad too, because 4-D has a nice go at defining the Doggett-Reyes relationship. When he shows up at her new (absurdly large) apartment with a housewarming present, they establish a chemistry they've never had before. Now, I don't think the show should repeat the "unresolved sexual tension" dynamic Mulder and Scully had, but in that moment, I didn't really care because the acting was so sincere. Even in previous episodes, these two have been more informal than even the original agents who mostly stuck to last names, and perhaps the housewarming is indicative of them "hanging out" outside the office. We just haven't seen it.

But of course, this scene contradicts the teaser in which Doggett, Reyes and Follmer are tracking a demented serial killer who can "vanish" into thin air, Erwin Lukesh, who uses his powers to kill Reyes and cripple Doggett. On Earth-1, Doggett disappears from Reyes' presence and the Earth-2 Doggett (although it may be more useful to call it the Darkest Timeline) shows up shot in the alley outside Lukesh's building. Reyes is at first implicated because her gun (or Darkest gun) was used, and she'll only be exonerated when Doggett wakes up, albeit in a paraplegic state. Obviously, the audience has more information than the characters, but Reyes eventually figures it out despite not really having a background in quantum physics, and Lukesh up and confirms it. He's been killing women in one timeline, and making his oppressive mother eat their tongues hidden in sandwiches in this one, a disgusting "shut up mom" pathology pulled from one of the later Millennium episodes. (Is it me, or are they recycling a lot of Millennium this season? Maybe they think no one watched Season 3 anyway.) Lukesh is a proper villain who gets what he deserves for giving Reyes the full Scully experience, i.e. invading her home and trying to kill her there until she is saved by a male character busting in guns blazing (groan). That Brad is a good shot, though!

That's all a bit by the numbers, so it really comes down to the resolution of the paradox. After all, it wouldn't do to keep the show going with Doggett on life support for the rest of the season, gauchely typing insight at Reyes and Scully. And what of Doggett-1? If he was squeezed out of our timeline, is he having an Earth-2 adventure in which he reacts to Reyes being dead? Is Lukesh getting caught on Earth-1 because he's avoiding Earth-2 and Doggett-1's wrath as much as possible? Unknown. When Lukesh dies, the Doggetts are not returned, which would have been facile but acceptable. Instead, we have this Million-Dollar Baby plot where Doggett wants to commit suicide by convincing Reyes that if two Doggetts can't co-exist in the same universe, his death would allows Doggett-1 to return. Which is nonsense! Your body would still be there, preventing the same "matter" from co-existing with it! But before that becomes a problem, Doggett's death - and I'm still not sure how I feel about Reyes assisting his suicide so she could get "her John" back, I think it may be damaging to the character - snaps our timeline back to the moment Doggett-1 was taken, in her apartment. And she remembers everything and is likely the only one, except there's absolutely no reason for her to do so. And if the episode didn't happen, does it mean Lukesh is still out there serving tongue sandwiches? A less than satisfying resolution, I think you'll agree! How can Reyes sleep easy knowing this interdimensional psycho is living in her town, even if his slaughterhouse is in another dimension? It's a terribly cheap ending. How much better if the returned Doggett is just as happy to see Reyes alive? If you want a shortcut to their deeper bond, you have to let these events have happened, on both sides of the dimensional veil.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I come down very hard on the episode in the review, but it's still watchable, at least until the last few minutes. The villain is slimy, and the leads give strong emotional performances worth seeing.

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