Theatre of the Mind ~ Within

I have held a torch in the darkness to glance upon a truth unknown. Well, actually, it wasn't that dramatic - I just turned on the TV. But that's sort of how I felt in facing Season 8 of the X-Files - a truth unknown. The truth was that the show was back - the unknown part was how it would fare "Mulder-less" for at least half a season. The reality for me was that if the end of Season 7 had been the *big* end, it wouldn't have been very satisfying. A pregnant Scully and a Mulder off on the greatest ditch of all wouldn't have been the way I wanted to leave things for posterity.

So here I am facing Season 8 with trepidation, to say the least, but I'm going to try and make the best of it. Half a Mulder is better than none, I suppose. The boys at 1013 have promised me that Mulder will be the absent center, and of course, I know they would never lie. They've hired a new actor who is *not* a replacement for Mulder and will *not* be Scully's partner - whew, that's a relief! He's just there to help out - he's the rugged, manly-man kind of guy that every girl would want to have around when they're preoccupied with spending every waking minute searching for their constant and touchstone.

Well, when I think about it that way, Season 8 isn't sounding so bad, actually. Scully and her little band of merry, manly men will spend the first half of the season looking for the absent center. Just in time for February sweeps they'll find him, and then Scully and Mulder will spend the rest of the season preparing for the arrival of their little bundle of joy. Said bundle will arrive just in time for a big series finale during May sweeps as the FOX network, TV critics, and fans everywhere shower the X-Files with accolades for being a ground-breaking cultural icon and the defining show of the 1990s. There will be lots of press and magazine covers and talk show appearances and retrospectives as we all say goodbye to the little cult show that became a phenomenon. I mean, that's got to be how it goes, right? They wouldn't even *think* of bringing this show back for a ninth season, would they? Well, now that I've talked it all out, I say "Bring it on!"

1. Mulder has a womb with a view.

2. Scully's dream or Mulder's reality? Perhaps a bit of both. These two *do* have a psychic connection, even without the help of Miss Cleo. For Scully, it's sort of a thoughts of baby, thoughts of baby's *FATHER*, and thoughts of that time she almost had a one-way ticket on the Reticulan Express. For Mulder, I think it's first-class accommodations.

3. I'm glad Mulder had time to get a new ID made before he left, using the worst possible picture ever taken of him. (Don't tell me those guys at 1013 don't hold a grudge.)

4. Scenes from "Requiem." This might be the best part of the show!

5. Time for self-reflection. Yeah, I get it. Subtle. Not.

6. Self-reflection accompanied by the new HSST (Haunting Suffering Scully Theme).

7. Too bad Mulder didn't get time for self-reflection or a new theme when he got back. All he got was that crappy new ID. (Getting ahead of myself again - sorry!)

8. Scully puts on her game face while the camera lingers on her black push-up bra.

9. Okay, we saw it. You made your point. The cross is around her neck. We were wrong. We gave you the best plot device in the show's history and you didn't use it. Don't say we never did nothin' fer ya.

10. Scully's not gonna let any grass grow under her feet in the search for her constant/touchstone. One night in the hospital and she's back to work. That's commitment!

11. I hope that slow-mo walk means she's going to run into somebody wearing an ugly beige jacket and a "Stonehenge Rocks" baseball cap ...

12. Gee, they took his nameplate off the door already. :::sniff:::

13. Who gets first dibs on all those videos that aren't his?

14. "What manhunt? Manhunt for who?" She forgot already. That commitment was short-lived.

15. Though I believe the SFM (Search for Mulder) should have top priority, I'm a little curious why the FBI is launching this big manhunt for a guy they've been trying to get rid of for the past seven years.

16. Awww, Protective!Walter! I sure hope he looks after Scully better than he looked after Mulder!

17. Kersh! Blech! Has anybody checked the back of that guy's neck lately?

18. Not a search but a coverup. Why? Who will miss him besides Scully and his fish? (And us!)

19. Keeping the religious imagery intact, Skinner is convinced by Scully to "deny" Mulder, just as Peter denied Jesus.

20. I hate to quote the wit and wisdom of Agent Chesty Short, but if they want to make this look like a real manhunt, wouldn't it be wise for the SFM Task Force to narrow their search and perhaps start "hunting" for the "man" in the place where he disappeared?

21. Message for Agent Crane: I never trust men with stupid-ass haircuts.

22. I'm surprised Scully can keep her mind on her task at hand what with this ruggedly handsome in a manly-man kind of way fellow sitting just one seat away from her. This is surely a man's man - a truck drivin', NASCAR watchin', pop tart eatin' hunk of testosterone. The kind of guy who would refuse to make you unbuttered popcorn because it's unAmerican. This guy wouldn't be caught dead watching "A Christmas Carol," or other sappy old black and white movie. He would order flowers, not steal them from guys with broken legs. This is the kind of stand-up guy who would literally go to the ends of the earth to save you - *and* he'd remember to put gas in the Snowcat. Take a good look, Scully. In case you've forgotten, this is what a *real* man looks like! (Oops, forgot to say this was PSC1: Polly's Sarcastic Commentary #1.)

23. PSC2: I have it on good authority that you can't draw the same analogy as you can with feet. The size of the ears means absolutely nothing!

24. This guy is on a fishing trip, but Scully's not biting. Well, maybe a nibble.

25. Maybe *you* don't know Muldah as well as you think, manly man!

26. Splish, splash, Doggett's takin' a bath! You, Agent Doggett, like your theories about Agent Muldah, are all wet!

27. MMM - I'm trying to be hospitable to the new guy, so welcome to a new feature in the Season 8 TOTMs - the Manly Man Moment! That's the point in each episode where I deem Agent Doggett to be at his manly manliest! Today's MMM is Drip Dry!Doggett, cause a lesser man would have jumped up and shook himself off, or wiped that water away. Not Doggett! He just sits there and takes it like a manly man!

28. "John Doggett" is named for the broadcasting partner of LA Dodgers baseball announcer Vin Scully, whom Dana Scully is named after.

29. BTW, thanks CC for not choosing that name for Scully's original partner.

30. Gee, I remember the last time I saw Scully working at her computer in the middle of a thunderstorm. The power went out and ... well, if she goes over to Doggett's house in her bathrobe and asks him to look at her mosquito bites, I'm turning this off!

31. Time for more reflection! Cue the HSST!

32. PSC3: "Jay"? What kind of a middle name is that for a manly man? Did they call you J.J. as a kid? DY-NO-MITE!!

33. I know how you feel, Scully. Looking at all that would make me barf too. (Sure wish someone I know could be there to hold her hair. :::sigh:::)

34. That concludes the morning sickness portion of Agent Scully's pregnancy.

35. Close up of the dripping faucet some kind of a clue about the significance of "all things" to Scully's pregnancy? Subtle? Too.

36. Gee, it's really Ma Scully's answering machine!

37. Sure, Scully, you want to talk to you Mom *now*. You think she's been sitting at home waiting for you to call since Season 5?

38. Agent Doggett, I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on her.

39. Leave the door wide open, Scully. Good move.

40. I guess Scully's landlord in "En Ami" finally had enough. Or maybe he *too* decided the best time to fix the antenna on the roof was in the middle of an electrical storm.

41. Aww, she looks pretty hopeful when she thinks Mulder might have returned!

42. I'm a computer idiot and even I know you don't have to take the monitor.

43. Time for more reflection, this time in *Mulder's* apartment. Cue the HSST.

44. Hmmm. There must be a monitor robbery ring roaming the neighborhoods!

45. With Mulder away, we have to dispense with the Good Phone Moments (GPMs) for awhile, cause those roaming charges from Reticula will kill you. So until Mulder returns, we'll make do with the ACM (Absent Center Moment), the moment in each episode when Mulder is first and foremost in Scully's heart and mind - and ours. When she finds his shirt, cradles it in her arms, and then holds it in bed - ACM.

46. Luckily for Scully, she can hold and sniff that shirt cause Mulder's deodorant is made for a woman but is strong enough for a man. (Though probably not for a manly man ...)

47. TWC1: Poor Mulder! I think someone's already got him by the nugs.

48. There must be some mistake. He signed up for the aromatherapy treatment.

49. TWC2: I can tell right off the bat that the alien beings who abducted Mulder are one super-intelligent bunch: The first thing they did with Fox Mulder was take his clothes off. Don't hurt his feet!!!!

50. I don't believe this face-pulling thing was in any of the alien abductee literature.

51. It's the dentist chair from hell. They could have just said, "Open your mouth and say, 'ah.'

52. I'm glad Skinner finally got some playmates.

53. I think this is where Doggett was practicing for future pissing in Kersh's cornflakes. (A MMM runner-up just for SLS!)

54. Who's been sleeping in Muldah's bed - it's Serious BedHead!Scully!

55. Sure, *everybody* wants to feed the fish *now*. But how about six or seven weeks from now?

56. PSC4: Okay, *he* was asking for it with that big bad wolf comment: Agent Doggett, what big ears you have!

57. MSRM: I suppose it's really the shirt scene, but I also like, "it is a badge of honor not to dismiss these things because someone thinks they're B.S." I think that says a lot, a lot, a lot.

58. For the record, I believe Scully *did* know what the rental car receipts were for; she just wasn't sharing at this point.

59. Skinner didn't just fall off the turnip truck. He knows a set-up when he sees one.

60. Ma Mulder buried in Raleigh? Was her maiden name Morley or something? And he goes to weep over her grave every weekend? A woman who lied to him his whole life and burned all his baby pictures before killing herself? I guess she was a mother only a son could love.

61. Very smart of the Mulder Family to get those group rates on tombstones!

62. Time for reflection about the tombstone and What It Means. Cue the HSST!

63. So we're supposed to believe that Mulder couldn't reunite his family in life so he chose to do it in death? Did he really dig up dear old dad in Massachusetts or just move the headstone a la "Poltergeist"? Did he spell Mom's name incorrectly (it was Teena in "Dreamland II" and Tena here) to get back at her for turning him over to his worst enemy in Season 7? I ain't buying it. But Scully seems to have become skeptical.

64. Dying? Going to doctors in Raleigh for a year? A clear record of his decline? When did this happen? And we're supposed to believe that after his trip to the rubber room and unscheduled brain surgery last year that Scully wouldn't be watching him like a hawk, making sure he had regular checkups, looking for any sign that having part of his brain scooped out wouldn't have the same effect on him as it had on CSM? That isn't the Scully I know! Perhaps once she and Mulder started having sex she was too preoccupied with another of Mulder's vital organs to worry much about his brain ...

65. Anyone worried that I'm saying "and we're supposed to believe ..." a little too much?

66. Well, even if Scully was preoccupied, surely she would have been tipped off to any problems during one of Mulder's numerous hospital stays in Season 7: Amor Fati - Probably follow-up CAT scans for some time after that brain surgery. Millennium & The Goldberg Variation - Emergency room visits. Signs & Wonders - Numerous snake bites, nearly died. Would warrant close observation. First Person Shooter - Probably just patched up with Scully's cottonballs and iodine (and lots of boo-boo kisses). Brand X - Larvae lungs, nearly died. More close observation. Fight Club - Surely hospitalized with those injuries and probably CAT scan due to broken jaw. And he sure looked pretty healthy to me in all things, Hollywood AD, Je Souhaite and Requiem ... I was paying attention!

67. Is "How far would Mulder go?" going to be the catchphrase of every season opener from now on? First Kritschgau in Season 7, now Doggett in Season 8.

68. PSC5: Sorry, Doggett, IMBO you don't "get" Muldah at all.

69. Skinner can deny Mulder no longer, and now it's Scully's turn for damage control. (Though I really think this could be the first hint of that Skinner/Doggett manly-man attraction!!) Skinner is the true disciple now, while Scully has doubts. You go, Walter!

70. From microburst activity records Scully figures out that the aliens are mopping up the evidence and that Gibson Praise is the next target? That's a Scully leap of Mulderesque proportions!

71. Gibson's file number gets a good old-fashioned 1013 reference.

72. Why is Doggett moving in slow motion? I sure hope he's *not* going to run into somebody wearing an ugly beige jacket and a "Stonehenge Rocks" baseball cap ...

73. They still like to chuckle about Spooky's "theories". Well, Mulder may have the last laugh ... although not right at this moment.

74. TWC3: More nekkid Mulder! And Holy Flaming Cow! A nice close-up confirms they haven't hurt his feet yet! Woo-hoo!

75. His face conveys it all: this is gonna hurt big-time! (I like Mulder Torture as much as the next girl, but this might be taking things a bit too far!)

76. Well, at least I've figured out the purpose of the face-pulling things. You're so busy concentrating on the pain in your face that it's easier to overlook that blade slicing through your chest. Big ouchie!

77. Scully and Skinner are in their MulderHunting!Duds, but I miss Scully's big machete.

78. It's amazing how quickly everybody could find Gibson when they were actually looking for him.

79. If Scully had just investigated that mirage thing on the horizon in the desert, this whole SFM could have been avoided.

80. Gibson! Older but no taller. And he's got this little waddle now. What's up with that?

81. Skinnner and Scully seem awfully surprised to see Doggett at the school for the deaf. Surely they saw that helicopter; if not, they need to go back to FBI Refresher School. Just who did they think was in that chopper? Channel 5's Eye in the Sky reporting on the big traffic tie-ups out in the dessert?

82. TWC4: Oh my! A flash of a gray tee-shirt and tight-fitting jeans! Could it be?

83. Much as I like seeing Mulder's clothes put to good use, a gray tee shirt and tight jeans do not a Mulder make. I do believe that's an alien in Mulder clothing. It ain't him. To be continued ...

84. In Memoriam of Jim Engh, the member of the production crew who was electrocuted when filming on this episode began.

85. I haven't watched the majority of Season 8 episodes more than once, so it's actually kind of interesting to take this trip again after more than a year has passed. And I did find something interesting in "Within." I was struck by the fact that Scully and Doggett actually seem to have some chemistry in this episode, which I found quite odd since I have been one of the most vocal about the decided *lack* of chemistry that these two characters had on screen. And then it struck me. Why? Because in "Within" Scully and Doggett were still antagonists. They were still sparring with each other, her questioning his every move and him questioning hers. "Give a little, get a little," but these two "gave" too much, and with Scully's nearly instantaneous trust in Doggett in the next few episodes, what might have become interesting was lost. All too quickly Scully forgot Rule No. 1 in the X-Files Handbook: Trust no one.

Now it's time for a little self-reflection. (Cue the HPST - Haunting Polly Suffering Theme). Season 8 has begun and one thing is clear - it appears that I am missing Mulder more than some of the people on the show. Well, it's early yet and perhaps it'll get better. But "my idiot gauge, my wits" left me with a nagging voice inside my head after watching "Within": "Why do I get the feeling they'd be happy if we never found him at all?"

So there you have it. Season 8 is begun. Apologies to people with big ears and stupid ass haircuts, to the people who take the ID pictures at the FBI, and to everyone whose job it is to think up acronyms. Are you waiting for me to apologize to all the manly men? "Well, I was getting around to it."

But "You better have a court order."