Theatre of the Mind ~ The Gift

1. Dark and stormy night ... windshield wipers slapping out a tempo ... tight grip on the steering wheel.

2. A strange symbol ... a monster's reflection ... shots fired ... blood spatters ... a woman screams ...

3. Those feet ... those hands ... that gun ... that jacket ... that walk ... is it? Could it be? Dare I hope? Is it possible?

4. Those eyes ... those lips ... slippery when wet ... peering through a rain spattered windshield ... do my eyes deceive me? It's been so long, I could be mistaken. By Gawd, I think it is. Holy. Flaming. Cow. He's baaaacccccckkkkkk!

5. TWC1: And the FBI Photo From Hell is back also, I see. Well, at least we still get Falling!Mulder *and* the ID. And we lose those new Big Ass Flashlight shots. What a shame.

6. I often think about Mulder while driving too.

7. PSC1: Good to have those flashbacks to bring us all up to date. Might not have been necessary had you bothered to mention Mulder occasionally for the past eight weeks.

8. J.D. doesn't return Sheriff Good Old Boy's offer to be on a first name basis. (He's spoken for!)

9. No coffee and danish for Doggett - he's a pop tart guy.

10. PSC2: "Agent Mulder disappeared last May." Well that blows the old timeline right out of the water, doesn't it? Assuming that Scully is at least a month pregnant when Mulder was abducted, and we know it's past December (thanks to "Redrum"), that confirms that Scully should be at least eight months pregnant now - and she's not even showing yet. Instead of nine minutes, I think we've lost nine months.

11. "It's my job to find him." ROTFLMAO. That would require looking.

12. Paul and Marie don't look too thrilled about questions.

13. A colleague? Well, at least he didn't say Muldah was his good bud.

14. TWC2: There he is again! So I guess holding his head and squinting like he's in pain is proof of the brain disease, huh? I can't think about that now. Holy Flaming Cow! He's looking fine!

15. It's not nice to lie to Agent Doggett.

16. Indian folk legends that eat people alive ... right up Agent Mulder's twisted little alley.

17. PSC3: Nice of Doggett to give up his Saturday to devote to the SFM. Especially since his weekdays are filled with bat men and metal men and ass genies and ...

18. How did the Manly Man know the three plastered over places in the wall were bullet holes? He's obviously never seen me try to hang a picture.

19. TWC3: Mulder's apartment. I think I've missed that as much as Mulder himself.

20. Whoa, waaaaay too much fish flakes there, J.D. Now I think I know what killed Mollie.

21. TWC4: Mulder shoe boxes. Converse All Stars, white and navy, Size 12 Men's, Size 14 Women's. :::sigh::: Now I'm lusting after footwear boxes. (Although I think Mulder is a Nike Man these days.)

22. Hey, J.D., let's be a little more careful there. Remember, this is the home of a *colleague* you're ransacking.

23. No one has emptied Mulder's trash in eight months? Whew, I bet that is aromatic.

24. PSC4: Shouldn't the SFM Task Force have searched Mulder's apartment as part of the SFM? And if they did, they missed that gun under the sink? Not very good police work, J.D.

25. I hope Sheriff Good Old Boy isn't digging up Mulder under that symbol from the teaser.

26. John, don't get jealous that Walter knew Fox had an ankle holster. They were just good friends!

27. TWC5: But always love the continuity. Someone actually remembered the ankle holster.

28. Agent Dogget must have gotten an "A" in ballistics at the Academy.

29. Although Muldah is a bright boy too, he should have been smart enough to toss that gun off the Wilson Bridge if he really didn't want anyone to find out he killed someone.

30. Walter, balls firmly intact, sticks to his abduction story.

31. Dear Diary: Today W.S. accused me of trying to manufacture an *easy* explanation for Muldah's disappearance in order to further my career. Why can't he see that I'm a stand-up guy, that I just want the truth, that I don't want to rat out my partner? I just want to be loved, is that so wrong? But Diary - he also called me John! And he's coming back to Pennsylvania with me! I'm all a-tingle!

32. Nice night for a Creature Capture.

33. Hunting ... that's one way to put it.

34. My goodness, John and Walter have been busy boys gathering all that evidence.

35. A nuttier theory than Mulder's. John, you should be proud!!

36. Dear Diary: Why is W.S. so sure of Muldah's actions? Why does he have so much faith in Muldah? Why can't he have that much faith in me???

37. A guy being buried who wasn't really dead? How silly. Like *that* could ever happen!

38. Thumbs up to the backhoe driver who could open that grave and not disturb the symbol set in stone. But thumbs down to the Sheriff who should have been smart enough to cover it back up again, especially with an FBI agent poking around.

39. Best Prop: The chicken foot paint brush.

40. Please remove all rings before being eaten by the Creature. The Creature is not responsible for the return of valuables.

41. Ah - home delivery.

42. I'm not sure Marie is completely on board with this whole plan yet.

43. Eww, eww, eww ... this trend for blood and gore is not at all to my liking. What happened to the good old days when you let our imaginations scare the heeby jeebies out of us? Besides which ... I think he drooled on her. Ewww.

44. The Manly Men Investigation Team is on the case.

45. Looks like Marie wasn't good to the last drop. Ewww again.

46. PSC5: The boys at 1013 have certainly been obsessed with bodily fluids and functions lately. Yuck.

47. Looking for the ultimate in exfoliation? Try our new beauty treatment: Regurgitation! It's the *complete* makeover!

48. TWC6: Doggett has my kind of flashbacks ... Wet!Mulder. Holy Flaming Cow.

49. Dear Diary: I'm worried about J.D.; he now seems to believe in this creature that Mulder was chasing. Plus he's having thoughts about Mulder. I thought *I* was the only one he thoughts about.

50. The Gunmen in their jammies!

51. That's a pretty good digital connection for Squamash, Pennsylvania.

52. Hey, Agent Dogbird, no joking around with the Gunmen! We're not ready for that much familiarity!

53. Soul eaters have friends too.

54. How do you know when you get barfed back up that all the pieces will go back in the right place?

55. Never going to wear that trench coat again.

56. Doggett's got it all figured out and is becoming King of the Ditch. First Scully, then Skinner.

57. I like the segues from present to past; did I mention that?

58. TWC7: Holy Flaming Cow! We not only get Mulder back, we get Nekkid!Mulder. But hey, wait a minute! We got that long shot of Marie disrobing. How come we don't get the same shot of Mulder? Greedy? Much? Us?

59. Aww, he couldn't go through with it. That's our Mulder: passing up what might be his only chance to survive because he couldn't cause another pain. :::sniff:::

60. MSRM: Perhaps it's not so far-fetched to believe that a man who had holes drilled in his head to recapture lost memories would undergo something as crazy as this in an attempt to have his illness consumed. But in "Demons," Mulder was doing something totally selfish; this time, he's doing whatever it takes to find a cure because now he has a reason to live - to be with Scully.

61. MMM: Manly Man tries to face down a group of armed and angry townsfolk and never blinks.

62. Unfortunately, Manly Man, you forget the most important rule: never turn your back.

63. PSC6: The townsfolk get to do what many X-Philes have tried to do all season - bury Doggett.

64. Some people just seem to attract projectile vomiting, don't they?

65. Skinner convinces Doggett to can the report and drop the matter and maybe to come over for coffee later. These boys need to stop spending so much time at the office!

66. This episode evokes comparisons to "Leonard Betts," except where Leonard had to consume illness for his *own* survival, the Soul Eater does the same so that *others* can survive. He was forced to use his "gift" to help cure the sick, thus increasing his own suffering. First Mulder and then Doggett showed their compassion by trying to free the creature from this vicious cycle, both through the most supreme sacrifice: death (Mulder's later, Doggett's sooner). Ultimately, Doggett's death ended the Soul Eater's suffering. So in a way, they both "re-gifted." Doggett has at last found a personal connection with Mulder, perhaps explaining what prompted him to "see" Mulder in the basement office. Doggett may be no closer to finding Mulder than when he started, but "Muldah" is no longer just a name now; Doggett "got inside his head," as Skinner said. He has seen the kind of man Mulder really is; and now perhaps the Search for Mulder really begins.

67. ACM: The final scene is a reminder that this whole episode has been an Absent Center Moment. Because even though Mulder was "back" in this episode, he really wasn't. But for once, he really was the "absent center" and served as a reminder that it won't be long now till he's back for the rest of the season. And all I can say about that is: Holy Flaming Cow!

The subtitle of "The Gift" might as well have been "Deus Ex Machina" an unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot. Because that's what it is - a retro-story designed to give credence to the bombshell announced in the Season 8 premiere, "Within" - that Mulder was dying of a brain disease and kept that fact secret from Scully. But once I put all that aside (not an easy task, I admit), I sort of enjoyed "The Gift." I liked having Doggett see Mulder as a real person, not just a name on a task force; I liked the Great Mutato-like monster, the Soul Eater, and how he evoked not horror but compassion from those who looked beyond his hideous features; and God knows I loved seeing Mulder again. His absence has made my heart grow fonder, and his reappearance couldn't have come at a better time than smack-dab in the middle of Season 8.

In a way, the TOTMs are my "gift" to you - and for that I apologize. Another one of those things that you get, you unwrap, remark on how "interesting" it is, and then try to find a way to re-gift. Lucky for me you can't return it. Well, I guess technically you can. Some of you have been so thrilled with your gifts that you've cancelled your email address to ensure that you won't get any more little "surprises." That's pretty smart of you, because in many ways, a TOTM is just like the Soul Eater ...

"It'll come back. It always does."