The X-Files #271: John Doe

"You don't know me." "Hey, you don't know you."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Doggett wakes up in Mexico with no memory of who he is.

REVIEW: Doggett's two weeks as one of the "disappeared" in a Mexican Cartel town has a look unlike any we've yet seen on the series, a bleached-out look that matches his bleached-out memory as much as it creates a scorching, hostile atmosphere. His few memories, of his son alive and well, are more colorful, but have a diffuse quality. And when we're not in Mexico, but with the agents working to find him and bring him home, it's still kind of diffuse. Not sure that's entirely appropriate; sometimes you've got to leave the filters alone.

It's a good episode for Doggett even if he isn't strictly himself. He's a detective and his identity is just like any other mystery. He works at it. His memory is wiped by psychic means (more on this later), but the trauma about his son is so great, his need to hold on to a happy memory of him so intense, that he does manage to keep one. And when Monica reminds him of the boy's death, it's like he has to relive it all over again. Doggett is kind of dead inside after that. The sequence takes the place of a flashback to those horrific events and how it surely destroyed him. But if you thought you'd learn more about the mystery behind the boy's disappearance and death, you'll be disappointed. A good episode for Reyes too; I don't think we've ever seen her this hard-edged. The revelation that she's a naturalized Mexican immigrant is slightly surprising and I don't think really necessary for her to be a Spanish speaker and knowledgeable about Mexico - I wonder if they sprung it on the actress or if it was always in the character's bible - but it gives her another layer. Scully and Skinner are in this too, and up to their old tricks defying Kersh's orders, not that FBI agents bribing, and discharging their weapons at, Mexican cops (no matter how crooked) even has a hint of consequence.

But then the final act generally doesn't work. I almost wish there'd been more of Doggett thinking he's a criminal, running from his own partner, etc. Instead, there's an odd back and forth from the villains wanting to keep him alive and wanting him dead. There's Doggett remembering everything, but our only finding out after dialog that would seem to indicate he hasn't. That really needed some kind of effect, and maybe even some kind of explanation of how the memory sucker's powers worked. If he drains and experiences your memories, leaving you a blank, how can you ever get them back? It just... happens. I'll accept the emotional explanation (his son bringing him back to the light, as it were), but the episode goes out of its way to contradict that possibility. The final couple scenes are very much in "we've run out of time" mode, skipping necessary steps to resolve the action before the credits pop up.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A good showcase for the actors, with a unique look, but the ending leaves a lot to be desired.

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