X-Files Flashback: ‘Alone’

Alone

Season 8, Episode 19
Director: Frank Spotnitz
Writer: Frank Spotnitz

“Alone” reportedly marks the final traditional episode of The X-Files. With an uncertain future ahead at the time, Scully goes on maternity leave, giving Gillian Anderson an opportunity to exit the series. David Duchovny made it well known that he would no longer participate in the “monster of the week” episodes. Given only Agent John Doggett fully in charge of the X-files, writer/director Frank Spotnitz did the absolute best he could to balance the characters in a respectful manner while still servicing the central story. As a result, “Alone” frequently references similar, earlier X-Files episodes that bear striking resemblances to it – a mixed blessing even the persistent reminder that the series will never again achieve its former glory.

The episode begins with a man and his elderly father attacked by some sort of large reptile-like creature – the elderly man’s body uncovered but his son’s missing. Just after packing her desk and saying goodbye to Doggett before going on maternity leave, Scully is called back to perform an autopsy, discovering that the elderly man had been blinded by a variation on reptile venom. Doggett and a new partner, Leyla Harrison, investigate the crime scene and its connection to a nearby estate. Inside a mansion, Doggett hears something nearby and instructs Harrison to wait outside where she is attacked by the creature and dragged into the woods. Following her trail, Doggett falls into a trap and wakens in an underground tunnel system where he is blinded by the creature. They also find the body of the missing man, badly in need of medical attention.

Mulder begins his own investigation, having heard from Scully that Doggett is now missing. He interacts with Herman Stites, the reclusive owner of the estate who specializes in biology. Meanwhile, Doggett nearly escapes the tunnel before being kicked back into a hole by Stites. Later that evening, Mulder finds the creature crawling around the Stites estate and chases it to the house where, unseen to Mulder, the creature morphs into Stites. Mulder convinces him to lead him to Doggett and Harrison, but Stites changes into his reptilian form and attacks Mulder only to be miraculously shot by Doggett.

One of the big mistakes “Alone” makes is constructing a plot and monster that feels so incredibly similar to previous episodes and then constantly referring back to those similarities through the persona of Agent Harrison, a Mulder and Scully groupie of sorts. She’s constantly mentioning previous cases, and, as I’ve mentioned, it only serves to remind the audience of how good the show once was and how it now pales in comparison. Still, Agent Harrison’s obsession is based in a sweet gesture as the character was named for an X-Files real-life obsessive who wrote a great deal of fan fiction before succumbing to cancer in 2001. Agent Harrison is the series’ salute to one of their biggest fans, and it’s a very touching homage. In the end, Agent Doggett handles a “monster of the week” case relatively on his one, and he’s left “Alone” at the end of the episode, solely in charge of the X-files. It may not be a perfect episode, but it’s a good one to show those who wonder what makes the series so great. The fan service offered through Harrison’s character is a good example of how much people love this show.

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