Season 8, Episode 2
Director: Kim Manners
Writer: Chris Carter
The latest multi-episode arc continues in The X-Files‘ “Without,” which largely dedicates itself to the protection of the young and gifted Gibson Praise and to paranoia caused by the alien bounty hunter. Like mythology episodes of the past, “Without” works best when considered with the overall flow of episodes, creating something of a made-for-TV movie experience instead of following through with isolated episodes. “Without” is effective and tense, largely thanks to the bounty hunter’s ability to consistently change shape, and that tension is the primary entertainment driver that makes the episode such a rousing success.
We pick up events immediately following “Within” where John Doggett (Robert Patrick) has Mulder and Gibson Praise cornered on a mountain cliff. Mulder releases Praise but then proceeds to jump off the cliff, later running from the scene. This is clearly the alien bounty hunter and not Mulder. One question I had here was, given the bounty hunter’s strength and power, why did he give up Gibson Praise so easily? At any rate, Scully and Doggett continue to search the area in search of Praise and the bounty hunter who eventually impersonates a menagerie of characters to escape detection. By the end of the episode, the bounty hunter approaches Skinner and Praise in a hospital room and impersonates Skinner after attacking him. “Skinner” overpowers Scully who then shoots him in the back of the neck, causing the alien to melt into the familiar green sludge. The close brings Scully in the hospital for observation as she is told that Doggett has been assigned to the X-Files in Mulder’s absence. Mulder, meanwhile, is still imprisoned on the alien spacecraft as the subject of continued experiments.
“Within” relies heavily on the tension between the characters as no one clearly knows who to trust given the bounty hunter’s ability to impersonate anyone. Praise is able to sense his true form, so the creepy little kid serves as an additional creepy layer to the plotting. Granted, there are a handful of questions and plot holes that populate the episode here and there, but that’s not all that unusual for episodes of The X-Files. By now, Patrick as Doggett is starting to fall into place as a character, but he’s not quite emotive enough to form a fully fleshed figure. I’m getting the sense, though, that he will eventually form a strong bond with Scully, but that’s not quite there yet. As it stands, Scully and Skinner are left carrying the bulk of the episodes, and, even under Gillian Anderson’s more than capable abilities, it becomes slightly wearing without the buoyant presence of David Duchovny. Still, I’ve yet to see the rumored horror show whispered about with season eight. Perhaps it’s coming just around the corner though. I await it with trepidation.