X-Files Review – “The Gift”

Read more to hear my thoughts on this episode, and then post your own.

Synopsis

The Gift chronicles Agent Doggett\’s attempt to clear up some contradictions in paperwork Mulder filed before his disappearance. (David Duchovny returned for the first time since Within and Without to complete filming on the flashbacks.)

It seems Mulder had come to this small county a week before his disappearance, although the official reports he filed claim he was in Washington. Doggett came to the county to talk to the Sheriff and determine the reason for his trip.

According to the local Sheriff, Mulder had come to investigate a local domestic dispute. Doggett went to the home of the people Mulder had visited to question them about Mulder\’s visit, and noticed some bullet holes patched up in the wall.

Doggett\’s investigation then turned up an unsolved murder in the area. A transient was found shot the day after Mulder\’s visit. Doggett and Skinner decided to find the corpse and examine the body, only to find it that somebody else had already come to exhume it. However, the tunnel under the coffin seemed to imply the corpse had already left.

Doggett still wanted to find the corpse. (Mulder\’s spare weapon had been missing three rounds, and Doggett wanted to that it had been fired a the transient in a local home, leaving three bullet holes in the wall.) Doggett and Skinner called in the Lone Gunmen to investigate a symbol left on the grave made out of stones.

The Lone Gunmen soon learned that it was a symbol used for protection, or to summon a creature with healing powers. This is the point where Doggett started putting it together. The wife involved in the domestic dispute had a kidney disorder, and the old woman listed as finding the transient\’s body seemed to know who the transient was, and to be protecting it.

This is when Doggett realized that Mulder had come looking for a cure to his disease. The transient was believed to be a creature capable of healing others by taking on their ailments, although it had to eat them to do so.

First, Doggett tried to visit the woman with the kidney disorder, but she was gone, and her blood was found on the floor. Doggett returned to the home of the woman who\’d found the “corpse,\’\’ and learned that Mulder had fired to put this beast out of its misery. Doggett found the creature, and tried to take it into custody. The local sheriff wouldn\’t allow it, and shot Doggett to stop him.

Doggett\’s corpse was buried in the grave the transient\’s corpse had been in, where the transient found him. The transient consumed Doggett, regurgitated him (as he had with previous “victims,\’\’) and died. Doggett awoke, healed, to find the old woman who cared for the transient crying over its corpse.

General Impressions

First of all, Chris Carter promised that we\’d learn about Scully\’s pregnancy all this month. It seems this episode didn\’t count as part of February.

In fact, Scully\’s only appearance in this episode was in a flashback to November\’s premier episodes. Once again, we got a whole lot of Doggett. However, it was still a great episode.

This episode revealed a lot about Mulder. His dedication to finding a cure to his secret disease, as well as his sympathy for the creature that was to cure him, say a lot about his character in his absense.

We also learn a lot about Doggett in this episode. For example, a character who has been presented as one of the best criminal investigators around can take up to nine months before he finally gets around to searching a missing person\’s apartment, although he did take the time to feed Mulder\’s fish while he was there.

We also learned that an FBI agent who gets tired of losing his gun (see Nisei) and buys a second gun to carry in his ankle holster could leave that gun taped under his sink while investigating a case.

Despite these character flaws, the episode works. The flashbacks are very well edited into the flow of the story, and the investigation was compelling, as the viewer tries to figure things out while Doggett tries to put the pieces together.

Add to this the great scene between Skinner and Doggett, where Skinner accuses Doggett of searching for a simple explanation to Mulder\’s disappearance to get out of the X-Files, and we\’ve got a very well written episode of the X-Files. There was a monster, but the focus of the episode was still on Doggett, Skinner, and the people who lived with the beast.

Overall

This episode was a great way to kick off February sweeps. There was mystery, character development (even if it wasn\’t all perfect), and a compelling story. I give this one 3 stars out of 4.

5 replies on “X-Files Review – “The Gift””

  1. morris says:

    Mulder\’s illness
    What was the episode way back when that had the dude that could see how other people were going to die? He saw Mulder\’s illness. Mulder should have let this week\’s \”monster\” heal him.

  2. fiziko says:

    Clyde Bruckman
    The episode you\’re thinking of is \”Clyde Bruckman\’s Final Repose,\” written by Darin Morgan and guest starring Peter Boyle (who won an Emmy for that role.) He refused to tell Mulder exactly how he would die when asked. However, when they were driving out into the woods to search for the next victim, he said something along the lines of \”there are worse ways to go, but I can\’t think of anything as humiliating as autoerotic asphyxiation.\” Mulder asked why he mentioned it, and Clyde told him to forget it had even been mentioned. To me, this sounds like the way Mulder will die, and not from this disease. (Either that, or Bruckman was just playing mind games. I still can\’t be sure.)

  3. xah says:

    too many ideas for one episode
    Maybe I\’m lazy, but I got lost in maze of plot twists.

    Thankfully, by the end, they slowed down enough for me

    to catch up. The \”return of Mulder\” was overbilled. I

    thought we\’d get somewhere in finding out what happened

    to him. The FBI has a man missing. Why isn\’t there a

    nationwide manhunt going on? Instead we were just

    resolving one of the \”lost episodes of Mulder.\” The

    worst part of the episode was the portrayal of the

    locals. As usual, they are all wooden characters,

    straight out of Mississippi Burning and Deliverance.

    There\’s the bad sherriff who\’s facilitating the

    exploitation of the minority. There\’s the family that

    seems nice on the outside, but on the inside is hiding

    some horrible secrets. And over there is the middle

    aged, sexless wise person who is attempting to make

    everything right. Finally, there was the unthinking mob

    that shot Doggett. It\’s too bad that this is par for

    the course for The X-Files. It would be so much better

    if the guest characters were better fleshed out.

  4. symmetry says:

    Clyde Bruckman
    I don\’t know why so many people think Mulder is going to die from autoerotic asphyxiation. Yes, that might somehow be in keeping with his porn loving character, but at the end of the episode in question, Scully found Clyde Bruckman dead from asphyxiation gone too far. He was talking about himself, not Mulder.

    That being said, I think this past Sunday\’s episode was a damn good one. I\’m glad to see the series is back on track.

  5. fiziko says:

    Clyde Bruckman
    Clyde did asphyxiate, but it didn\’t seem autoerotic to me. It\’s possible that they were limited by TV censorship, though. Either way, I\’m not sure the writers are going to be held to that. If they kill Mulder, they\’ll try to make it grand and epic. Clyde Bruckman was written at a time when killing Mulder was an unthinkable act; nobody would have carried the torch.

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