Theatre of the Mind ~ XF Season 8

Season 8. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

It was the best of times because many of us didn't want a Season 8 at all, but the idea became much more palpable when we learned that David Duchovny would be back for about half the season. It was the best of times because we were promised that the search for Mulder would be the focus of the season, with Mulder serving as the "absent center" whose character would propel the action along until his permanent return midway through the season. It was the best of times because although another actor was hired as an X-Files regular, we were promised that he was there not as a replacement for Mulder and would not be Scully's partner, but would be someone who would assist Scully in the search for Mulder. It was the best of times because it offered an opportunity to appropriately close out the story of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, a chance to rectify what would have been a less than satisfying ending (Season 7) for two spectacular characters. It was the best of times because shippers were about to realize what before they could only dream about or read about in fanfic: acknowledgment of the consummation of a relationship between their two favorite federal agents.

It was the worst of times because none of that actually happened. Well, okay, to be fair, that's not exactly true. David Duchovny did return for about half of the season's episodes, but most of his appearances were little more than cameos. The search for Mulder got off to a good start but only lasted about two hours. After that, everyone seemed content to wait for Mulder to just drop out of the sky ... which he eventually did. The "absent center" was so absent that after his nameplate got dumped in a drawer he was hardly mentioned again until his return. The new guy got his own desk faster than you can say "this is not happening" and the word "partner" seemed to roll off Scully's tongue pretty easily. Instead of acknowledging right up front that two people who love each other more than life itself somehow got together and made a miracle, TPTB at 1013 preferred to play "who's the daddy" (or "what's the daddy") for the entire year, extending the tease much too long and thereby failing the relationship and the characters. Mulder and Scully spent very little on-screen time together. And although we got a nice final image closing out Season 8, the means to the end wasn't as satisfying as it could have been. It was the worst of times because it was a season that at the outset held great promise, despite (or perhaps because of) the absence of Duchovny; but it resulted in a season of opportunities squandered.

1. Within - Scully's dream is Mulder's nightmare. Mulder's got a new ID badge (yuck!). Scully's got a new theme (it's got a good beat, but you can't dance to it). Damn! It was a zipper after all. There's a new Agent in town and he's all wet. Mul-dah. Ma Scully is not sitting at home by the phone. Somebody's been sleeping in Mulder's bed (:::sniff:::). Somebody's got a Nekkid!Mulder by the nugs. Mulder!Torture has never been like this. "Give a little, get a little." The Mulder family plot thickens. What do you want on your tombstone? Terminal brain disease. Sure. Fine. Whatever. "How far would Mulder go?" Skinner is a Lone Gun Guy. Scully leaps. "Why do I get the feeling they'd be happy if we never found him at all?" Gibson's back with a waddle. Is it Mulder or is it Memorex? In memory of Jim Engh. To be continued ...

2. Without - The Mighty Morphin' Bounty Hunter has great taste in Mulder clothes. Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark. I don't think Mulder is in the dentist chair from hell to improve his smile. Nice *day* for a stroll in the desert. Gibson and Mulder are both special boys. Still nekkid; still tortured. The ABH enjoys bein' a girl. Scully/Skinner standoff; no one may be who they are. "I can't take the chance that I'm never going to see him again." Big Ass Mulder Hunting Flashlights. Gibson remembers how his last trip to the hospital with a Federal Agent turned out. Nice *night* for a stroll in the desert. It's just a helicopter bearing Doggetts. "I know what Agent Mulder would do. He'd do whatever it took." SCULLLLL-LEEEEEEEE!!!!! She missed him by *that* much! The ABH has been everyone else - why not Skinner? Return of the green goo. Doggett assigned to the X-Files. A (reluctant) believer and a skeptic are on the case once more. Lots and lots of Bounty Hunters. Poor Mulder. Please come home soon.

3. Patience - It's "Squeeze" with bat mutants. Hey, I liked the old credits with the old flashlight people! I'd like to spend the weekend looking through Mulder's drawers. Scully slide show. Occam's Principle of Limited Imagination. Doggett's no Fox Mulder (you can say that again); Scully's trying to be one. She figures it out, but is now living in fear of a bat (and I don't mean a nice piece of ash). Doggett wants a desk; Scully says he'll get one cause he's just peachy. She forgot The Golden Rule: TRUSTNO1. The dismantling of Dana Scully has begun. The Search for Mulder becomes the Search for Mulder's Nameplate. Samantha's picture is still there; but the absent center is just plain absent.

4. Roadrunners - "Bad Day at Black Rock" becomes "Bad Day at the X-Files." A Scully Ditch. More wandering in the desert. Scully's glad she didn't take that transfer to Utah in "Fight the Future." "I don't have a great memory for mucus." Doggett knows Danny. Mulder used to drop his gun; Scully just hands it over. Jesus!Slug. She's pregnant? We thought she forgot. Scully's tattoo is as absent as Mulder. Manly Man saves the day. "Gone in 60 seconds, jack." Scully is now officially the Manly Man's "little woman." It could have been an old Mulder/Scully script; but it's still Vince at his absolute worst.

5. Invocation - All the pretty little horses. Nice theme for this ep; deeply flawed movie, though. A boy's spirit returns in human form to catch his own killer and save his brother from a similar fate. Maybe he can find Mulder while he's here; no one else seems to be looking for him. Doggett has a backstory but no one wants to tell us what it is. Fartknocker replaces Buttmunch as the best term of endearment. The skeptic and the believer argue, but it's the banter that's missing. Doggett puts his faith in good police work, but Scully says sometimes it just is what it is. The new theme seems to be "Mulder who?"

6. Redrum - If I could turn back time. Oh what a tangled web we weave. It's "Monday," but backwards and with no Mulder in wet yellow jammies. Not much Scully or Doggett for that matter. Maybe they're off looking for Redlum (that's Mulder spelled backwards). Speaking of time, it's December which means Scully is about seven months pregnant and still has her girlish figure. You know you're really on the X-Files when bad things start happening to your friends. Why didn't Mulder or Scully ever get a house? Must be budget cuts: The guest star has to solve the case, save himself, and do the voiceover. Once again: Mulder who?

7. Via Negativa - The Evil Third Eye. Walk softly and carry a big axe. Scully's having pregnancy problems; who cares about Poochie in Pittsburgh? John and Walter embark on a beautiful partnership. Scully ... head ... Doggett shouldn't be having dreams like that! Finally *someone* remembers Mulder and has a ceiling pencil toss in his honor. Langly's first name is "Richard." Who knew? The LGM have a slide show, but was it really necessary for them to praise Johnny? I'll see you in my dreams ... and then I'll have to kill you. That's the last time I want to see Scully in Doggett's bedroom. "It was a bad dream, Agent Doggett, but that's all it was." The first episode ever to start with "V". Mondo bizarro.

8. Surekill - Exterminating love stories. Some people get all the vision and some people get none. Manly Men use words like "ballsy." Lots and lots of rats. They just want to get rid of the vermin, is that so wrong? Superman only used his x-ray vision for good. Baby Mulder is still a no-show. Bottom line: "Stupid ain't cute." Makes "Teso Dos Bichos" look like Shakespeare.

9. Salvage - Loosely based on "Tetsuo," a 1988 Japanese horror film. At this rate, pretty soon we'll have an ep based on "Godzilla." Good to know the Effects Department has still got it; that's somewhat comforting. Ipso facto. "Like a bowling ball." Scully's on Doggett's speed dial; that can't be good. I hate to ruin your beautiful theory with ugly facts, but metal men *don't* only happen in the movies. Dollars for doughnuts. The Metal Man recognizes the error of his ways and simply rusts away. Lots of voiceovers, but not a Mulder in sight baby or adult version.

10. Badlaa - I knew 1013 had something up its butt this year. Will work for WD-40. Bad things happen to bad tippers. Butt genies? I never saw a stowaway like this on The Love Boat. Criminy. Unauthorized procedures. Eww, eww, and eww. Deep Roy. I'm LMAO. It's Chuck! A friend of Mulder's! Mulder you remember that guy? Scully's trying to channel Mulder, right down to the rolled up shirtsleeves. Samantha's picture still on the desk. Awwww. This is starting to look like a Hardy Boys mystery. Scully shoots on faith, but decides she can't be Mulder. She's open to extreme possibilities, but she'll never be the *true* believer. But she can still do the one tear roll. The moral of the story: Keep an open mind. I'm trying, but they keep making episodes like this. Okay, I'll keep trying. "I'm not quite ready to lose all my faith in humanity."

11. The Gift - HE'S (FLASH)BACK!! Doggett gives up his Saturday to go Mulder hunting what a guy. Disappeared last May? We've lost nine months somewhere. Ah, the old brain disease rears its retro-storytelling head. Mulder's apartment, Mulder's fish, Mulder's shoe boxes, Mulder's trash (p-ewe!), Mulder's ankle holster. Memories ... like the corners of my mind. Walter knows what he saw. People who eat people are the droolingest people in the world. Regurgitation it cures everything that ails ya. I frequently have Wet!Mulder/Nekkid!Mulder flashbacks also. Luckily the Gunmen keep their PJs on. Couldn't save himself because it was causing another pain that's our boy. Doggett tries to follow in his footsteps. They both regifted. The townsfolk come to bury Doggett, not to praise him. I see lots of vomiting in Johnny's future. Doggett has his own Muldervision. No Scully this time, but the Absent Center makes my heart grow fonder.

12. Medusa - Doggett goes from Muldervision to Tunnelvision. It's "Ice" in the subway (minus the sensual NeckCheck). Scully 10 months pregnant, but still no maternity clothes. At least she wisely stays above ground. "I'm just a good shot." Green goo and Big Ass Flashlights. She called him "partner." Blech! Playing chicken with a train. Never let 'em see ya sweat. Doggett's a Modest Manly Man. Mulder's absent again, but it won't be long now.

13. Per Manum - By hand. Lots of flashbacks in case you haven't been paying attention for seven years. Alien babies. Agent Scully, this is your life. Flashback hair, flat; present hair, poofy. "Don't make me guess." You *did* discuss the ova before, but thanks for sharing. Scully has a shady doctor what a shock. She wants to be a mommy and has the daddy in mind (not that we'd get to see her ask him or anything). In vitro. Sure. Fine. Whatever. "At that part I'm a pro." The Scully Trust Everyone Boardinghouse for Wayward Souls & Complete Strangers is open for business; it'll get plenty of use over the next two years. Doggett deserved the truth (did I say that?). Mark Snow cameo. Probably a good thing Scully wasn't carrying her gun in the military hospital; she probably would have just given it away. Knowle Rohrerrrerrer. Supportive!Doggett knows the truth. Woo-hoo, Mulder can sleep on my couch anytime. The in vitro didn't take? Then gosh, darn, golly, gee, how did Scully get pregnant? Forehead kisses, neck nuzzles, and big hugs. "Never give up on a miracle."

14. This is Not Happening - Richie! Well, they found the nameplate; that's a start. Teresa Hoese's back, with an excellent interpretation of circling the drain. "Dude, you're already in." She *should* be afraid to find him; he's Mouldy. Starlight, Scully, and Skinner. :::sniff::: The return of Jeremiah. Meet chipper little Monica who investigates ritualistic abuse with a smile! "Let's just say I don't not want to believe." That's commitment. Morley Lights. "No freakin' way." Gary! No one would recognize Mulder from that photo. Scully sees dead people and that can't be good. "It's Mulder." Nooooooooooooooo! Mulder's finally back though dead as a doornail (I'm not worried; he's been dead before), and now we have a five-week hiatus to hype the Lone Gunmen? To be continued ... this is not happening.

15. DeadAlive - North Carolina? Ma Scully returns. Walter provides a shoulder to cry on. J. Edgar Junior shows himself at last. Johnny's got the chance to move on up to the big time. It's Billy Buoy and he's alive. Walter not ready to give up on a miracle. He's alive! (Was there ever any doubt?) Where there's a nanobot, a Ratboy is sure to follow. Ewwww. Walter will do anything to save Mulder except that one thing. The Manly Man is no match for Krycek; he disappears and takes the vaccine with him. *Killing* Mulder saves his life. Go, Walter! Doggett's career is in the dumpster ... or the basement. "Anybody miss me?" You betcha! And how!

16. Three Words - Fight the Future. Brain disease gone. "Like Austin Powers." Home sweet home. Missing a molly. They should talk. Mulder reinstatement denied. Who is Doggett? "They're already here." Doggett taken hostage. "Visiting my buds." Breaking and entering. Book Princess Cruise ... better book two. Absalom is dead; Doggett is saved. Doggett, meet Mulder. No love lost. Call the Gunmen. Scully's been campaigning. Missed the Mulderisms. Doggett gets password. Leather jacket returns. Mulder breaks in. It's a trap. Scully is worried. Bad guys coming. Doggett goes in. The boys escape. About the truth. Knowle's a supersoldier. I just knew.

17. Empedocles - Getting fired in more ways than one. Monica returns as smiley as ever! The Pizza Episode. It's like "Mad About You" this is what I'm saying. Banter is banter. An Adonis in leather bearing gifts woo hoo! "Nice package." (I'll say.) "What'd she get on it, a tank of gas?" There is no husband; quit asking! Hi, it's Monica; we met when you were dead! Wants to catch Doggett's son's killer. Mulder will help (if John will let go of his jacket). Jeb's killing again. Doggett's stalking again. Mulder can't resist a good X-File. "I saw Elvis in a potato chip once." Hand on the tummy. :::sniff::: Evil apprehended, or is it? Mulder and Doggett have their own hallway moment. Monica gets conked on the head she's one of the gang now! Another look at the nice package. A new pizza man, a doll, courage, and a bun in the oven. Who could ask for anything more?

18. Vienen - Means "They Come" or "Fox & John's Excellent Adventure." The black oil makes a comeback. Join the Obi-Wan Mulder Society. The boys walking and talking; Scully slicing and dicing. "When he gets old enough, you tell the kid I went down swinging." Doggett sort of wants to believe. "Trust no one" the same in any language. Oil Rig of the Living Dead. Wagner? The radio is a big alien transmitter. Mulder leaps, figuratively and literally. He's 86ed, out, axed, terminated. That's okay; on to bigger and better things. "You're in charge here now." It's one big pissing contest, but they bond in the end. (And another "V" episode to help that XF alphabet game.)

19. AloneMaternity leave after longest pregnancy on record. She regifted. A hug? (My eyes! My eyes!) Bye, bye, Scully. Hello, Leyla. A lovely tribute to a lovely fan. Lamaze Coach!Mulder. "He's a big boy." Scully wants to join the Search for Doggett; Mulder disapproves, but goes on the Doggett hunt. (Oprah was a repeat that day.) Thanks, Leyla; we *love* hearing how Mulder & Scully did it since we don't get to see it anymore. Spit gets in your eyes. Good phone. Leyla performs a Mulder Leap. Even a blind Doggett finds a Lizardman now and then. The last scene makes it all worthwhile. "And you were frozen and I remember I hugged you until you weren't frozen anymore." Doggett might be alone, but Moose & Squirrel are together forever.

20. Essence - The last Mulderlogue. "A union of perfect opposites." Ma Scully returns to throw a baby shower. Lizzy's a big help, all right. Billy is making everyone lose their heads! NASCAR and gun cleaning a Manly Man's idea of a great afternoon. Mulder needs help; plays the Scully card. Lots and lots of jars. Duffy Haskell returns. Mulder gets a boo-boo (but keeps his head). Scully gets to play doctor. "Manos de piedra." My baby/your baby. "Heads have been rolling, Agent Doggett." Human cloning, alien babies, supersoldiers. Skinner knows who the daddy is ... or he thought he did. Poor Ma Scully not a great judge of character (Dana gets it naturally). A perfect human child. Quick! Just run off together! Damn that Billy Miles. Krycek shows up just in the "Nic" of time. Time to devise a plan. Doggett calls his Little Pop Tart to help out. Billy's going to be a lot thinner. Noooooo! Don't split them up! I think it's time for a new plan. Crane is a replacement; isn't everyone? "We're almost at the end." To be continued ...

21. Existence - Parental discretion advised how much grosser can this season get? Billy in a Box. Dana and Monica's Excellent Adventure. Krycek explains it all. O Little Town of Democrat Hot Springs, how still we see thee lie. Monica still Cigarette Smoking Woman. Scully a Supersoldier Incubator? Walter gets a hole in the head. Pottery Barn makeover. Whale songs. Ratboy and Rohrer; that can't be good. Billy Miles doesn't give up easily. Contractions! Mulder and Krycek have their final showdown, but Skinner Interruptus. Bye bye, Alex. Game Warden fails the Neck Check. "I'm prepared to use force," (i.e., run like hell). Scully's labor is standing room only. "Don't let them take it!" Skinner and Doggett got their own problems. "Sculllllleeeeeeee!" Doggett and Reyes are the XF first-string now; Kersh is in deep doo-doo. Three wise men. He followed a star. William, for his father. "They came to take him from *US*." Mulder's come full circle, his family restored, what was lost is found. "The truth we both know." A lover's kiss and baby makes three a happy family. Fade out. (And they lived happily ever after.) The end.

As the season drew to a close, the announcement came that there would be an XF Season 9, but for many, the final shot of "Existence" would be the image of Mulder & Scully (and William) that they would carry with them forever. The news that David was gone for good but that Gillian would continue in a full-time capacity in Season 9 was the straw that broke the camel's back for a lot of fans. Others decided to give Season 9 a try. But no matter what your feelings about the future of the Files, the end of Season 8 was still bittersweet. For me, the Mulder/Scully theme song for nearly eight years was "You and Me Against the World"; and at the end of Season 8, it never seemed more appropriate:

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world
And for all the times we've cried, I always felt that God was on our side.

And when one of us is gone, and one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do, our memories alone will get us through

Think about the days of me and you, you and me against the world.

So that's Season 8 in a nutshell (a pretty long nutshell). Apologies for taking so long to get this finished, especially when we're so near the end. Part of the reason, as a few of you know, is that I've been trying my hand at fanfic and that's distracted me from my mission just a bit. But finish them, I will. As promised, next up will be the TOTM for "The Truth," the series finale and for most of you, the TOTM finale as well. Then I will go back and complete the TOTMs for the rest of Season 9, mostly for my own sense of closure, but also available to those who want to receive them.

Yes, I was one of those who watched all the way through Season 9, maybe not as intently and devoutly as I once did, but I watched it just the same. Why? Cause "I can't take the chance that I'm never going to see him again." Never give up on a miracle.

With sincere apologies,