Theatre of the Mind ~ Without

Before we begin "Without," let's recap what happened in "Within": The SFM was on, we were introduced to Agent John Doggett, and we had a few MMMs and lots of PSC. The GPMs were abandoned, but there was a MSRM and a HFC. And there was one ACM and Mulder probably said OMG at least once. I know I would have. Gee, I wish they would find Mulder PDQ. But YMMV. If you're saying WTF about now, here's a reminder of the new acronyms (you can never have too many!) that were introduced in "Within": SFM Search for Mulder; ACM Absent Center Moment; MMM Manly Man Moment; PSC Polly's Sarcastic Commentary.) And now, "Without."

1. Sorry, Scully. As the New Believer, it becomes your unenviable task to read the Carterlogues at the beginning of the mythology episodes.

2. PSC1: Well, I've finally come up with something good about Mulder missing half of this season's episodes: I don't have to look at that God-awful picture on his FBI ID more than 11 times.

3. I think it was very nice of the Mighty Morphin' Bounty Hunter to choose that particular outfit of Mulder's (featuring the gray tee shirt) to morph into he knows what we like!

4. MMM: The ABH, who has proven he can kill people 159 ways including with his green toxic blood, was so mortified by Doggett's "Let him go, or I will be compelled to use my weapon," (which is Doggett-ese for "Do you feel lucky, punk?") that he promptly lets Gibson go and hurls himself off a cliff. If *he's* afraid of the manly man, who am I to quibble?

5. Note to ABH: Jumping off the cliff to make Doggett think that Muldah was dead was a good plan, but getting up and running away pretty much spoiled the whole thing. Even Doggett figured that out. (I think that was PSC2.)

6. This must have been Dress Alike Day at the SFM Task Force.

7. Ouch! That's gotta hurt!

8. Didn't Scully give this same "fell from great height and lived" speech in "The Goldberg Variation"?

9. Guess Doggett was an Indian Guide too. He knows these things.

10. Okay, he *is* asking a legitimate question and she *did* turn her back on him. I'll give him that one.

11. Alien? Bounty Hunter? Mulder on a spaceship? You go, girl!

12. I'm glad *something* is reminding him of Agent Muldah.

13. She's a believer! (And Mulder would be smiling, but he's a little busy right now.)

14. TWC1: Holy Flaming Faux-Cow! He may not be the real Mulder but he's an incredible simulation!

15. Great morph! DD's got that cold bounty hunter stare down ... um, cold.

16. Scully and Skinner: new partners in conspiracy.

17. Gibson may be three steps ahead, but remember he's duck waddling.

18. This might be a "bend over and grab your ankles" session for Agent Crane.

19. She's pregnant, wearing three-inch heels, and has no water, yet is able to stay about 50 yards behind a kid on a bicycle in the middle of the desert and she barely breaks a sweat! She's not just a woman, she's Super!Scully!

20. How did the kids get the trap door covered with dirt again? Enquiring minds want to know!

21. Um, the last time you protected him he ended up in a nuclear reactor with a skin-shedding alien.

22. Aww, that must mean that Mulder is a special boy too!

23. With no Mulder around Scully has to practice her doctoring skills on somebody.

24. Gibson is become skeptical with good reason.

25. Wow! That's the way a manly man gives a report!

26. Kersh is always so irritable, I think *everybody* is pissing in his cornflakes.

27. Two former jarheads, just standin' around talkin.' It don't get much manlier than that.

28. PSC3: He's the best of the best, one of the few, the proud, the FBI. Aw, hush now, Skinnah! You're gonna make those ears turn red!

29. When did this turn into a TQM seminar? You gotta get outta your comfort zone, Agent Doggett. Think outside the box! You need a paradigm shift!

30. Well, it's good to know that you can be one of the FBI's best and brightest and they still don't like you. That's somewhat comforting.

31. Frankly, I think people are worried about the DSR for good reason ... I definitely sense some UST between Doggett and Skinner!

32. Super!Scully returns from her nice trip to the desert (on foot again) looking surprisingly fresh! That must be some potent Arid Extra Dry!

33. Whatsa matter, Agents? You look like you've never seen a push-up bra before.

34. TWC2: Well, the Mighty Morphin' ABH fills out a push up bra rather nicely too! Looks like he enjoys being a girl!

35. PSC4: Note to Agent Doggett See this is what could have happened to you out on that cliff. You better thank your lucky stars ... or Chris Carter ... manly man.

36. It's a mirror, but no time for self-reflection. And thus no HSST (Haunting Suffering Scully Theme).

37. I told you I didn't like the looks of that Agent Crane from the very beginning.

38. A room full of highly trained FBI agents and no one notices that someone has blood dripping off his hands except a little deaf girl?

39. TWC3: Anyone else wondering what purpose that thing across Mulder's groin serves (I mean, other than maintaining a PG-13 rating)? I should think that having your face stretched taut and metal bars inserted through your wrists and ankles would pretty much hold you in place. The aliens are not going to be sending him back with an extreme priapic condition, are they? Well, on second thought, that might not really be so bad. Sch-wing!

40. OT - I remember reading in the official magazine that when David found out he was going to be displayed in this chair nearly nekkid in the premiere, he spent some extra time in the gym in order to get buff so I'd just like to say, thank you, David. Hoo-boy!

41. Now it's Gibson's psychic connection! I'm glad I'm not the only one dreaming about Mulder.

42. It restores my faith in the FBI a bit that they don't leave the keys to the vehicles under the floor mat.

43. It's "Paper Clip" Redux!

44. ACM: "I can't take the chance that I'm never going to see him again." :::sniffle::: 'Nuff said.

45. Thea may not be who she are.

46. Woo-hoo! It's some Big Ass Mulder Hunting Flashlights! This SFM just got serious!

47. Scully, don't attribute Gibson's visions to a bad fever! You're the believer now!

48. Something tells me Gibson is thinking about how things turned out the last time he was taken to a hospital by a federal agent.

49. "Special boys" like Gibson and Mulder can pick out the aliens even in their shape-shifted personas.

50. Scully (with her Big Ass Mulder Hunting Flashlight) wanders through the desert, desperate and alone, calling his name. Plenty of time for some self-reflection. Cue the HSST!

51. A big light in the sky. Hold on to your hat, Scully, this might be the *big* "Oh my God."

52. Darn, it's just a close encounter of the manly man kind!

53. You know, manly man, if you wanted to get a look down Scully's shirt, there were easier ways to do it than arriving by helicopter.

54. The big confrontation! Just another reminder that losing the animosity and friction between these two so quickly was a major mistake.

55. Manly men are not afraid of anything.

56. MSRM: "I know what Agent Mulder would do. He'd do whatever it took." :::sniff::: again!

57. The seeds of doubt were already planted in Doggett; Scully just cultivated them a bit.

58. Aww, she was so close. Gotta say I love the effect of the helicopter illuminating the ship in the force field.

59. "Scully!!!" I'm getting all verklempt. I'm not sure how much DD got paid per word for these two episodes, but it was worth every penny!

60. Best ScullyMulderism: "Hey, if something tries to rip your throat out, I got you covered."

61. Looks like Gibson might be joining Mulder as a contestant on "The Chair" pretty soon.

62. After being silent the whole episode, the ABH is suddenly a little chatterbox. He must be really proud of his Skinner impression. (And that he can morph up some glasses; pretty impressive.)

63. PSC5: I can see the problem now. Agent Doggett obviously has flashlight envy.

64. Well, at least we know that Skinner didn't give up the kid without a fight.

65. Scully and Gibson two pint-sized crime-fighters.

66. This is not one of the things you expect when you're expecting.

67. All those years everybody thought they needed a "plam" to kill the aliens and all they needed was old "Deadeye Dana," the Annie Oakley of the FBI.

68. I understand why Scully and Gibson aren't affected by the toxic green goo, but why not Doggett? Does the green goo lose its lethal properties once the ABH has expired? Or do Agent Doggett's ears serve as a sort of protective force-field? (PSC6).

69. Look out! You're stepping in Skinner!

70. TWC4: Sorry, but I haven't warmed up to Agent Doggett enough to be worried about his footwear just yet.

71. Gee don't everyone run for help at once.

72. I personally don't have a problem with Scully breaking down and crying, or with Doggett awkwardly trying to provide comfort (that's just the kind of manly man he is, after all). Scully's not crying because she's weak or because she's going all "girly" on us or even because she was just smashed into a big glass case. She's crying because she's just gunned down her last best chance to find her constant and touchstone at least for the time being. And even though she's trying to hide it, it's all just too overwhelming right now. And she's probably just realized that she's now going to have to investigate a bunch of boring MOTWs until she gets a solid lead on Mulder's whereabouts again. Believe me. I want to cry too. (PSC7)

73. PSC8: Plus I'm really not all that concerned about Doggett whisking Scully into his arms, as I'm sure he did the same thing when he found Skinner in the ceiling a few minutes ago. (Remember the DSR!)

74. Doggett realizes Skinner was right about Kersh's motives ... and grows to love him all the more.

75. Agent Doggett, Agent Doggett, Agent Doggett. I'm afraid I must throw a flag for a flagrant foul here! A card with flowers and rainbows? God, before we know it you'll be sticking sparklers in Hostess Snowballs or something! That's a 15 yard penalty *and* a loss of down for Unnecessary Sentimentality.

76. But hey, the "it's who takes the worst beating that counts" comment was a nice manly recovery!

77. Officially assigned to the X-Files? Say it ain't so! Not a replacement for Mulder ... not Scully's partner. Chris, you willfully participated in a campaign of misinformation.

78. Sorry, Agent Doggett, you're "I'll find him" doesn't fill me with confidence. I'm beginning to think that I'd better hope that Mulder just "comes walking out of the dark," because that might be the only chance he has.

79. Well, this explains how the ABH manages to take a licking and keep on ticking.

80. You know, if you keep pulling Mulder's face like that, pretty soon it's gonna freeze that way.

81. As long as DD was hooked up to this contraption anyway, I wonder why they didn't shoot some more Mulder!Torture footage to be inserted into upcoming Mulder-less episodes? At least I would know that he was getting some attention from somebody!

82. But leaving me with the vision of Mulder in that chair, surrounded by the identical Bounty Hunter Bunch, has committed the classic XF sin. You've made me more interested in what's going to be happening off screen than I am in what's going to be happening on screen. Why was Mulder abducted in the first place? Why did the aliens want Mulder and Gibson and others like them? What are they doing to Mulder? What is the purpose of the "tests" being done on him? Are they trying to learn more about us, much as humans dissect frogs, or is this really just some sort of torture for the heck of it? (Maybe they just like having Mulder stripped naked and restrained, and I can't say that's a bad hobby to have.) But the bottom line is they have set it up so I am much more concerned about what's happening to Mulder and why then I am in how Scully and the Manly Man go about finding him. Get back to me when you do, 'kay? Although I shouldn't be surprised. The most interesting and important things that have ever happened to and between M&S over the past eight years have happened off screen, leaving it up to my imagination (and fanfic writers) to fill in the blanks. I don't know why I expected anything different in Season 8.

83. Having said all that, I know I should click off the TV, go into hibernation, and leave a wake-up call for when Mulder returns. But I can't. "I can't take the chance that I'm never going to see him again."

In the end, the two-part premiere pretty much established the theme of Season 8: It's Not So Much About the Search for Mulder as it is About Biding Your Time Until Mulder Returns. The purpose of "Within" and "Without" was not to find the missing Agent Mulder, nor even really to look for him. The purpose was two-fold: (1) to establish Scully as the New Believer (albeit, reluctantly), and to introduce the New Skeptic, John Doggett. From that standpoint, the premiere was successful. We learned that Scully is willing to put aside everything she holds dear, everything that up until this point has made her who she is, and believe in shapeshifters, alien abduction, and other extreme possibilities because she has to in order to find Mulder. And we are *told* that Agent John Doggett is a straight arrow, true blue, the best of the best yet in his initial encounter with Scully he uses deception to try and shake her beliefs in a man that she has come to trust and love like no other. So sorry, manly man, if I don't embrace you just yet. I need proof of your character and your intentions; solid evidence. I learned that from Scully. Sorry if you feel that's the wrong approach. "It's the only approach I got."

Well, the first two are out of the way. Now it's on to a long stretch without Mulder. "Is that supposed to cheer me up?"

Apologies as always

Polly (Just Biding My Time)