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.

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