"Empedocles"

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For weeks now, maybe even months, 1013 has been telling us that the end of this season marks the end of the Mulder/Scully era. The old mythology will give way to a new order and a new set of mysteries. The seeds of this transition can be seen in the strong focus on Doggett and Reyes, as Mulder and Scully take on very different roles from what we have come to expect.

I sense a great deal of resistance to this transition. It is interesting that people are less inclined to embrace Agent Reyes than they were to embrace Agent Doggett. Not to say that Doggett is universally accepted...nothing could be farther from the truth. But there is less acceptance for Reyes as a whole, which might have something to do with the fact that her rise marks the final curtain call for what used to be the status quo.

I have to say that I truly enjoy the way that Mulder has been recast as the slightly impatient and irreverant mentor. Reluctant to accept his inability to convince the FBI to reassign a ressurrected agent to the paranormal investigations unit, he slips into the role of wise and weathered advisor quite well. I enjoy him more now than last week, when he was far too manipulative of everyone, including Scully.

Scully comes out of the equation with far less grace. This is primarily due to the entire pregnancy plot thread, which I still feel was quite unnecessary and serves to place Scully in a much less unique role. I still adore her character, but she has lost much of her bite, the strength that defined her as more than just the female agent of the original pair. At the very least, she is portrayed as having made the full transition into belief, passing on that tradition by convincing Mulder to help Doggett along the same path. This is nice, and it serves the plot well, but if Scully was so firm in her belief, why couldn't she have been the one to pass on Mulder's crusade to Doggett?

As much as Mulder and Scully grow into their new roles, this is an episode that sits squarely on the shoulders of Reyes and Doggett. In fact, this is very likely an early glimpse of the "new mythology", which introduces a more elusive evil than the aliens that Mulder and Scully have encountered.

I am torn on the idea of Doggett being a skeptic due to his own repressed abilities to perceive the paranormal. While it is true to Doggett's character that his flash of insight at the discovery of his son's body would lead to his later inability to accept any outside validation of such experiences, it does smack just a little too much of Scully's psychic moments. It is interesting that 1013 chose to emphasize this by linking Doggett's psychic flashes and memories to his visits with Scully.

I am very intrigued by Reyes and her ability to recognize and discover "connections". 1013 promised us, after season 7, a new agent with spiritual leanings and abilities. This would appear to be the culmination of that promise. As false as Doggett's abilities felt to me, Reyes struck me as much more realistic. She is never quite sure where her abilities are going to lead her, with only the most vague idea of the ultimate result. But she follows those flashes of insight without question, and acts as she feels is necessary at the time.

I could easily see Doggett and Reyes on the X-Files, with Doggett "grounding" Reyes in reality while she helps him explore the sides of his nature he has forced himself to repress. The only real question is, what would their mythology look like?

The hints given in this episode lead me to believe that there would be a diversion away from aliens towards a more "Millennium" kind of flavor. Instead of exploring conspiracies of men, it would be about uncovering the darkness and evil that lurks under the surface of society. There is a lot of material that can come out of that idea, much more than was ever explored in "Millennium". And Doggett and Reyes make for better lead characters.

On the other hand, for the idea to work, it would have to disavow Mulder's "evil contagion" explanation. That has been done, redone, and overdone more times than I can remember. His explanation can be easily discounted by the fact that Mulder has never been very adept at dealing with spiritual adversaries. Scully has always been the one to tackle those obstacles, and so foes such as the one seen in this episode are quite frankly out of his league.

In the end, this was a strong introduction to the new status quo, and while it may not have been a mythology episode in the strictest sense, the fact that there was a major shift in the direction of the series forces me to think of it as such. Which, I might add, means that more than half of this season can be classified as "mythology". And that is actually more episodes in one season than the two seasons before it.

Some other thoughts:

- Did anyone else catch the hint that Mulder is not at all sure that he is the father of Scully's child? Scully may think she knows, but Mulder isn't so sure.

- I loved watching Doggett toss Mulder into the wall like that! Payback's a killer, huh, Mulder?

- I have the feeling that Scully is going to be hospital bound for the rest of the season, one way or another. I do not like that. Sure, she's been smiling more, but it doesn't make up for the loss.

- The transitions in this episode were stunning. I especially loved Doggett's "visions" and the way that Scully's face segued into Doggett's near the end. A little obvious, perhaps, but effective.

- This may go against the grain in a major way, but there were some shots of Agent Reyes where she was very attractive.

- Is it me, or was there just a hint of wistfulness in Mulder's eye when he was talking with Agent Reyes...as if he wished he could work with her more, just to see what she came up with...

- For an ancient evil, whatever was possessing everyone in this episode had a very bad habit of announcing his presence in a rather messy fashion. Why can't ancient evil ever be more...oh, I don't know...clever? Intelligent and subtle, even?

- As much as I liked the fire motif, it was a little overdone. The flash of fire in the eyes, reminescent of the black oil of the old mythology, would have been more subtle and more effective.

- I am constantly in awe of how much I enjoy Agent Doggett's character, and so I found myself truly amazed by how much pain you could read in Doggett's eyes, even when he was completely still.

- Speaking of INTENSITY, how about that scene on the stairs? It was just a hair below "out of control", and when that shot rang out, it punctuated the scene clearly.

- Sorry, shippers, but during all of the little moments between Mulder and Scully, all I could think was, "Get on with it already!"

- I liked the moments of subtle jealousy between Mulder and Doggett every time they ran into each other at the hospital, and the way it seemed to have disappeared by the end of the episode, after Scully told Mulder that Doggett was worth the effort.

Overall, if this is the kind of material and interaction we can expect in season 9, I am not only there, but I am reinvested even more than I was at the beginning of this season.

I give this episode a 9/10.


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