The X-Files enters its eighth season somewhat tentatively with lots of slow motion and New Agey music. It starts out with some slimy brown-ish goo, other viscous matter, strange thumping noises, and a shot of Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) mired in this mess. But this is no X-File, this is Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) dreaming that Mulder is in her womb. It is not the supernatural or paranormal that seems icky and scary; it is pregnancy. And while Mulder, the grown man forced back into the murky body of the mother seems in a pretty uncomfortable state, I think Scully, the woman with a grown man in her belly, has it worse. I know, it is only a dream, but so much is made of Scully’s pregnancy in this episode that it seems to be the star of the show now that Duchovny is all but gone, and it only seems fitting that Scully not be pregnant without Mulder involved somehow.
If this first episode is any indication, this is not the creepy, sarcastic TV program of seasons past. Instead of a series of quirky unsolved mysteries, there is great deal of what appears to be deep thinking by the characters; in fact, not much really happens beyond what we already know from the end of last season. However, this is only Part One of two of the season opener, so I imagine there is more to come. Besides, I’ve invested so many years in watching The X-Files, that I’m not about to give it up easily. With even a slight promise of something actually happening on the series, I will check it out next week.
The seventh season ended with a bang, with Mulder apparently abducted by aliens, and his partner Scully mysteriously with child (or at least with something) despite her conspicuous lack of sexual contact, and despite her belief that her own earlier abduction by aliens left her unable to conceive. This 5 November season premiere is mostly concerned with speculating about Mulder’s disappearance and introducing the new guy. The last five minutes, however, do offer some actual action, in which Scully and a host of other FBI agents converge on a school for the deaf in the Arizona desert in search of a boy named Gibson Praise (Jeff Gulka), who appeared in previous episodes. Gibson, who is about 15 in human years at this point, has alien DNA and so is living proof of alien presence on Earth. Hmmm ... a teenage boy is part alien. I’ll buy that.
Basically what has occurred is that Mulder/Duchovny is a lame duck, having negotiated a deal in which he will actually act in about half of the 2000-2001 episodes (the rest will include cameos, flashbacks, and other quick shots of him). Now, Scully is the one who has “seen things” and the new guy is the sceptic, a turnaround from the original Mulder-Scully relationship. The partner-to-be is Special Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick). So far, he appears to be a swaggering, steely-eyed FBI company man, a former NYPD cop (of the manly NYPD Blue variety rather than the more cynical Law & Order type) and U.S. Marine. Doggett’s attitude, though, is pure Old West, perhaps a hint of his roles in two recent feature films, All the Pretty Horses (directed by Billy Bob Thornton) and Texas Rangers (Steve Miner). Doggett stares purposefully, as if he’s thinking really really hard, his eyes narrowed, his jaw set. He wants to set things straight. In true X-Files tradition, much about Doggett is remains a mystery through this first episode. He might be good, he might be bad, and he might even be an alien.
Doggett is charged by new Associate Director Kersh (James Pickens Jr.) a longtime opponent of the FBI’s X-Files (unsolved cases) with finding Mulder. Of course the FBI will not acknowledge that Mulder may have been taken by aliens, instead suspecting that Mulder has lost his mind and gone off on his own, or even that Scully and Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), who witnessed the abduction, actually had something to the renegade agent’s disappearance.
When Scully first meets Doggett, he does not tell her who he is. Instead, he presents himself as an FBI agent (he wears an identification tag, turned backwards, as if by accident) compiling a profile of Mulder to assist in the search. He interrogates Scully about Mulder and goads her with rumors that while Mulder did not trust her, he did “confide in” other women in the Bureau. Scully knows this is a lie, and so discovers who Doggett is, then promptly tosses a cup of water into his face. Perhaps she is jealous; perhaps it is just women are so emotional, especially pregnant ones. You never can tell with them ... At this point in the episode, I realized that it is not just Scully’s pregnancy that is making her seem more like a stereotypical representation of a girl. Instead, it is her contrast to the character of Doggett. Scully took no grief from Mulder; she questioned him, disagreed with him, and stood up to him. With Doggett, however, there is a more traditional he/she split: He is sceptical, rational, together, and has a plan. She is emotional, spiritual, and kind of dreamy.
Scully is now so out there that her pregnancy itself is presented in this episode as an X-File case. This is a woman who does not understand how it happened it is a mystery even to her, or at least she is not telling otherwise. The pregnancy is pointed to numerous times throughout the episode, with no information as to how Scully may have become that way: She has morning sickness; Skinner warns her not to get too upset because that could threaten her pregnancy (as if she didn’t already know). The opening scene of the episode shows Mulder in what seems to be Scully’s womb, becoming unattached from a slimy umbilical cord. Taking this miracle birth/Madonna reference even further is a particular scene, a slow shot of Scully in a black lace bra, buttoning up her shirt, as the camera moves up her cleavage to focus on her gleaming gold cross necklace. We get it. But as insurance, in case we went to get something from the fridge during that part, there is angelic orchestral music with ethereal high-pitched vocals oohing and aaahhhing over slow, soft focus shots of Scully staring intently at herself, looking out a window, or walking down a hall. Also, if I wanted to watch a show with miracles and madonnas and angelic voices, I’d watch Touched by an Angel. At least girls still rule that show.