CTP Episode of the Day - 09.07.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Invocation (8x06)
Original Air Date: December 3, 2000
Written By: David Amann
Directed By: Richard Compton

Having been kidnapped for ten years, a little boy mysteriously reappears but hasn't aged one bit.

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S: "Look, I know where you are with this. I have been there. I know what you're feeling -- that you've failed and that you have to explain this somehow. And maybe you can."
D: "Not if that's Billy's body, I can't."
S: "But maybe that's explanation enough. That that's not Billy's brother lying in that grave too. That that man who did this is never going to be able to do it again. Isn't that what you wanted, Agent Doggett?"
D: "Agent Scully, don't ask me to believe that this is some kind of justice from beyond the grave."
S: "All I'm saying is that maybe you succeeded ... whether you're willing to see that or not."

Some "Invocation" Tidbits & Musings:

-- According to the dictionary, as it relates to this episode, the word "Invocation" means "the act or process of invoking, especially an appeal to a higher power for assistance," and "an act of conjuring up a spirit by incantation."

-- Even though he had been around for a long time, this was Richard Compton's first assignment at directing an X-Files episode (he also directed Season 8's "Medusa"). He gets off to a great start with a nice opening overhead shot of the defining star-like symbol of "Invocation."

-- The melody that is played over the opening shot of this episode is a traditional American folk lullaby called "All the Pretty Little Horses."

-- Oopsie! The tag line tells us we are at a carnival for Webster Elementary (a pretty impressive carnival at that!), yet the sign behind the swinging boy reads "Bethune Elementary."

-- Oopsie! While the time stamp on the screen during Doggett and Scully's first meeting with Billy reads 11:02, the clock on the wall behind Doggett a few minutes later tells us it is 2:38.

-- "Hey, Fartknocker"? And I thought "Buttmunch" was a lame term of endearment.

-- The premise of "Invocation" was pretty creepy and would have been just as creepy if this were a Mulder/Scully episode. A boy comes back from the grave to help catch his own killer and save his brother at the same time. It was a formula X-File, with the "believer" and the "skeptic" each arguing their side of the case. While the formula remained the same, IMBO it also highlighted exactly what was missing from the "new" X-Files (chemistry aside) -- the entertaining banter between two highly intelligent people. And I'm not putting Doggett down, I'm not saying he wasn't intelligent. But up to this point in Season 8, the only argument he'd been able to muster was "good police work solves the case." And Scully was having an equally hard time arguing the "believer" side of the equation. Even in the creepiest cases (and the worst episodes) we could count on that Mulder/Scully banter, as well as a little humor provided by one or two well-placed Mulderisms, to keep things from getting too serious. While not a bad X-File in and of itself, "Invocation" provides a great example of exactly what was missing as the Carter team tried to rework the show.

-- "Invocation" was clearly intended to be an episode to provide us a little insight into the character of John Doggett. Unfortunately, it really told us nothing. We got hints -- we're told about some "force" coming from Doggett, about his "losing someone," his longing gaze at an old photo, and his dogged determination to solve the case -- but nothing concrete. And again, in my biased opinion, I think this was a big mistake by 1013 for two reasons. First, I believe the viewers should have been clued into the information about Doggett's son right up front. In the very first episode of The X-Files, Mulder told us that his sister was missing and what he thought happened to her; this helped shape the character right from the get-go and could have done the same for Doggett. But, having said that, I think having a defining moment in Doggett's life be so similar to Mulder's experience (since we didn't find out until much later that Doggett knew his son was murdered) was too close to Mulder's story and also a big mistake. The Powers That Be kept telling us how different Doggett was from Mulder -- so then why have the two men have a very similar occurrence in their respective pasts? That's lazy storytelling if you ask me. Of course, after the series ended, we learned that had the show gone on to future seasons, the presence of evil as it affected Doggett would have continued to be explored as part of the Doggett/Reyes mythology.

-- Coincidentally, or not, just a few weeks after this episode aired, the film All the Pretty Horses was released on Christmas Day 2000. The film was about a young drifter named John Grady Cole who sought a better life in Mexico, then found adventure and hardship after he crossed the border. The film was directed by Billy Bob Thornton and starred Matt Damon and Henry Thomas (of E.T. fame), as well as an actor named Robert Patrick (who played Damon's father in the film). Also appearing in the film was Rubén Blades, who appeared in the third season XF episode "El Mundo Gira."

-- Rodney Eastman (Ronnie Purnell) plays in the L.A.-based band King Straggler with fellow actors Brentley Gore (American Dreams) and John Hawkes, who played Phillip Padgett in the XF episode "Milagro."

-- Jim Cody Williams (Cal Jeppy) appeared in this summer's smash hit Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Jake Fritz played Luke Doggett's picture in this episode and again in "Empedocles."

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(Thanks to chrisnu for today's pics.)

Please share your first impressions, favorite (or cringe-worthy) moments, classic lines, favorite fanfic, nagging questions, repeated viewing observations, etc., as today we celebrate "Invocation"!

Polly