The X-Files – “Alone”

The third-last X-Files this season was aired last night. You know the drill.

Cast

Gillian
Anderson
as Dana Scully
Robert Patrick
as John Doggett
David Duchovny
as Fox Mulder
Mitch Pileggi as
Walter Skinner
Jolie Jenkins as
Agent Leyla Harrison
Zach Grenier as
Herman Stites

Crew

Written and directed by Frank Spotnitz

Original Airdate

Alone originally aired on Sunday, May 6.

Synopsis

The teaser opens with a paranoid father (Arlen Sacks) and his son
Gary. Gary was upset with his father, for his paranoia and his
refusal to stay in a hospital. (Arlen was in a wheel chair, with a
respirator and heart monitor.) As Gary made supper, Arlen began to
flee in fear from something in their home. Gary came out to the
living room, and was attacked by something reptilian.

Act one begins with Scully packing things up in her office. (Her
doctor forced her into maternity leave.) Among the items she was
packing up were the pennies fused together in the Dreamland
two-part episode (which you may want to catch up on before Friday’s
Lone Gunmen), Queequeg’s dog tag (which you might remember from
season three, released on DVD on Tuesday May 8), and Max Fenig’s
Apollo 11 medallian. Mulder originally gave it to her because he
thought it was cool. Scully thought it symbolized teamwork,
partnership, and the idea that no one gets left behind. It was with
this spirit that she chose to give it to agent Doggett. Doggett asked
her if she’d be returning to the X-files after her maternity leave,
and she just smiled.

In the next few seconds, the audience saw a fantastic shot of John
Doggett realizing that he was the only person left in this office. He
didn’t seem entirely comfortable with the idea, and was enthusiastic
about greeting Scully when he heard approaching footsteps. The
footsteps weren’t Scully’s, though. They belonged to Agent Leyla
Harrison, who had just been assigned as Doggett’s new partner. She
used to work in accounting, and had processed Mulder and Scully’s
travel expenses, and was therefore familiar with the X-files. She
didn’t have any field experience, but she came in with the X-file
about the murder of Mr. Sacks.

When they reached the crime scene, they learned that Gary Sacks was
missing, and was the prime suspect in the murder of Arlen Sacks, who
had been found dead in the woods. Despite Leyla’s suggestion to start
in the woods, Doggett chose to start the investigation in the Sacks’
home. When there, he pointed out that there were inconsistencies in
the explanation; the house was almost spotless, indicating
premeditation, but the body was dumped in the woods, indicating
haste. Doggett also found a slimy residue on the floor and
windowsill, which agent Harrison suggested could be bile from a
liver-eating mutant, in reference to Eugene Victor Tooms, of the
episodes Tooms and Squeeze from season one. Doggett
found more slime in teh woods where Alren had been found.

Back in Washington, Mulder came to Scully’s apartment to pick her up.
It seems Mulder is Scully’s Lamaze coach. (He’s had training, since
he’s been watching a lot of Oprah now that he’s unemployed.) Scully
talked about how worried she was that Doggett was out there with no
one to watch his back. Mulder assured her Doggett would be fine, and
made a noble but vein attempt to find out the gender of the baby.

Back at the crime scene, Doggett found another house, but it seemed
empty. Much of it was covered in plastic, as though nobody was living
here. Inside the house, he found copies of several biology-related
works, including The Sixth Extinction, a slightly subtle
reference to the episode of the same name. Doggett heard something
approaching behind him moments before agent Harrison showed up. She
was obviously nervous, so he asked her to wait outside while he tried
to flush this thing out of the house. (He also asked her to take the
safety off her gun.) She was attacked outside. Doggett ran out at
the sound of gunshots, but she was already gone. There was a line of
flattened grass leading out into the woods, which he followed, and was
soon dropped through a trap door.

In act two, several agents were searching the woods for Agents Doggett
and Harrison. Scully phoned A.D. Skinner at the scene and found out
that Doggett was missing. He would not allow her to come search,
though.

Mulder visited Scully, who was doing the autopsy on Arlen Sacks. He
hadn’t been killed; he died from heart failure. However, she did find
some of the slimy residue that Doggett and Harrison sent for
analysis. It was a hydrolytic enzyme, commonly known as reptile
venom. Mulder talked Scully out of going to the crime scene, and
instead chose to go himself.

In captivity, Doggett was exploring the artificial tunnel he’d been
dropped into. He found what looked like a sculpture of a wolf, as
well as agent Harrison and Gary Sacks. They had been hprayed with the
venom, and were suffering from blurred and worsening vision.

Mulder appeared at the scene, just as the other agents were leaving.
Doggett’s car had turned up 30 minutes away, so they were relocating
the search. In typical Mulder fashion, Mulder went into the woods in
an area that everybody else abandoned. He found the house Doggett had
been captured at, and found the Apollo 11 medallian on the property.
When the owner (Herman Stites) came to talk to him, he introduced
himself as Agent Alvin Kersch, and suggested that there was a man
aiding the creature in its hunt. He left shortly before Agent Doggett
emerged from a storm drain, only to be pushed back down by Stites.

In act three, Doggett talked Agent Harrison into looking for another
way out. He didn’t know what Stites was up to, but he knew that he
was involved in biology. Gary Sacks was gone, so they started looking
for him too.

Agent Scully phoned Mulder during his stakeout of Stites’ property.
(Mulder was eating the sunflower seeds he hasn’t eaten in recent
seasons. Mulder loves the seeds as much as Chris Carter does, but
David Duchovny doesn’t care for them.) Mulder accused Scully of
regifting, telling her he found the Apollo medal. Scully told him
that the bacteria contained in the reptile venom would harden the
victim’s skin while liquifying the interior tissue. It seems that
Stites was known in academic circles for claiming to be on the verge
of creating a new species.

In captivity, Doggett and the now-blind Harrison found Gary Sacks and
a door into the Sacks home. The reptilian creature was entering the
home from the outside, and Mulder chased it to the door. While he
pounded on the door asking for entrance, the reptilian creature became
Herman Stites.

In act four, Agent Mulder was let into the home by Stites, and lured
into the chamber where Doggett and Harrison were trapped. Stites
became the creature. Mulder was unarmed, but Doggett had his weapon.
Mulder wouldn’t have time to get it from him, so he told Doggett to
aim at the sound of his voice. When the creature pounced, Mulder told
him to fire. Stites was killed, but Mulder survived.

The final scene of the episode took place in the hospital, where
Harrison was recovering. (Doggett was healed.) Mulder tried giving
Doggett back the Apollo 11 medal, but he asked for it to be given to
Leyla. The scene showing her receiving the medal will be described in
the next section.

High Points

The high point of this episode, for me, was the collection of
references to previous episodes and debates held by online fans. The
best example is the final scene, when Agent Harrison asked a question
that has been asked online many times: at the end of the X-Files
movie, Mulder’s vehicle in Antarctica ran out of gas. How did he get
back home?

Instead of answering directly, Mulder and Scully began bickering about
whether or not they saw a space ship. (This is another online debate,
some fans, myself included, have maintained that Scully was face down
in the snow, and saw nothing, while others insist that she says “I
saw it,” when she looks at Mulder.) Scully pointed out in this scene
that she saw nothing, because she was unconscious at the time.

Low Points

Once again, an unknown biological agent that can kill in a matter of
hours is cured. This time, it is slightly more believable than it
often is, as the biological agent was a bacteria similar to known
bacteria. It’s possible that the same treatments apply, but I find it
hard to believe that recovery would be so quick.

Leyla Harrison

One of the more prominent online fanfic writers was Leyla Harrison.
She passed away a few months ago, and the people at 1013 productions
chose to name a character after her. (This was almost the episode’s
High Point, actually.) I don’t read fanfic, so I’m not familiar with
her stuff or where it can be found, but if you’re interested, ask on
the alt.tv.x-files.creative newsgroup, and you’ll get the information
you’re looking for.

The Review

This is a somewhat original episode. Not very though;
we’ve seen the mutants on X-Files before, and Doggett has done his
share of waking up in captivity in his twenty episodes so far this
season. In fact, originality was probably the weakest part of this
episode. 3 out of 6.

The effects this week were also high quality. The
morphing effect is not new, but they did a good job of finding an
actor for Stites and a man for the interior of the suit that were
similar enough in build (in costume, at least) to make it believable.
The make-up effects were also good, on Stites and Gary Sacks. I give
the effects 5 out of 6.

The story was well-implemented as well. The characters
were well written, and Spotnitz demonstrated his familiarity with the
series. (He has been there from the beginning, after all.) It may
not have been original, but I was still compelled to keep watching,
just from the dialogue and character interaction. 5 out of 6.

The acting was a large part of that character
interaction. Robert Patrick is an excellent actor. He conveyed more
emotion in those few seconds before the introduction of Agent Harrison
than David Duchovny has all season. I give the acting 5 out of 6.

In terms of inspiring an emotional response, this episode
was hobbled by the lack of originality. However, it still worked
well, reminding the long-time viewers of past adventures, while
building some effective tension in the course of the episode. I give
it 4 out of 6.

The production was in typical top form, which is nice to
see in Frank Spotnitz’s directorial debut. (He has written
many
episodes, though.) I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a great episode, well-placed in sweeps
week. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Alone received a score of 32 out of 42.

Next Week

On Friday, May 11, the season (and possibly series) finale of The
Lone Gunmen
will have guest spots by Mike McKean and David
Duchovny. The episode is titled All About Yves.

The X-Files wraps up this season with Essence and
Existance, a two part episode that airs on May 13 and May 20.
Answers to questions about Scully’s pregnancy are promised to be on
the way…

5 replies on “The X-Files – “Alone””

  1. Dave says:

    Leyla Harrison fanfic
    Most of her fanfic, and in fact most of the fanfic that exists, is at Gossamer. They don\’t permit linking directly to stories, but you should be able to punch up this page and scroll down to \”Harrison, Leyla.\” It’s good stuff, really.

  2. xah says:

    great episode
    I don’t care what you guys say. IMHO, this was one of

    the top 5 X-Files episodes. Agent Harrison immediately

    made a positive impression. Her naivte drew our

    attention to Agent Doggett’s experience and hardnosed

    worldview. As a fan, it was easy to identify with her.

    In her FBI job, she has monitored Scully and Mulder’s

    travels over the years, just like we have. She is a

    Mulder and Scully fan, just like we are. When “the

    thing” got her, we felt like it got us. Doggett had to

    remind her to turn off the safety on her gun. He is

    simply the best. He treated her with the perfectly

    appropriate levels of condescenion, very light, and

    protectiveness, understated yet total.

    By the way, I saw T2 again over the weekend, but just

    the last few minutes. Yet, each time I saw the T-1000 I

    didn’t know what to think. Thinking back, it’s

    revealing that that movie was great because it had one

    of the great all-time movie villains. Patrick made the

    movie what it was, even with only a non-speaking role.

    In a sense, “Alone” was just a letter written back to

    loyal X-Files fans who have expressed their

    appreciation over the years. But what a letter. The

    Mulder-Scully relationship hit a new high. The

    chemistry between Anderson and Duchovny has matured to

    an easy and comfortable friendship. Many of us would

    like to see Scully and Mulder fall in love, and let

    Agent Doggett and Agent Reyes take over the X-Files.

    That might not happen, however. The last scene was a

    transcension. “I can’t believe you’re saying that

    wasn’t a spaceship.” Mulder and Scully are charming

    because they’re normal people who just happen to have

    had a string of extraordinary experiences together.

    As the camera drifted out, it was Doggett who looked in

    on them, left in nothing but existential angst. He has

    done his job. The torch has been passed. It’s up to

    him. He’s by himself. We finally realize what “Alone”

    is all about. With Scully and Mulder hopefully settling

    into domestic bliss, a world of challenges awaits.

    Unlike his predecessors, however, Doggett has no one to

    turn to. He is a man of extraordinary talent. His life

    has been tough, but he has thrived. What is toughest of

    all, however, is at the end of day when he is alone.

    I haven’t read much X-Files fan fic, and hadn’t heard

    of Leyla Harrison before. Checking out her stories

    (thanks for the link), the one theme that the real life

    Leyla Harrison returned to in her prolific work, again

    and again, was the promise of a Mulder/Scully romance.

    She saw the possibility of love in a show that was

    mostly about the fearful things that hide in the

    shadows of our minds, and held on to that with a fierce

    hope. This is the same hope we had that Mulder might

    find Doggett, that Agent Harrison might get out of

    there okay, and that Doggett had not accidentally shot

    Mulder. What a fitting tribute, then was this show to

    her and to all of us fans.

    It’s my hope that “Alone” is not the penultimate

    chapter to this great science fiction series. It’s

    probably the case that Agent Doggett and whoever the

    new partner would be, Reyes or Harrison or someone

    else, would have to have different X-Files experiences.

    There might be more camp. It might be more of a

    detective show with fewer fantastical elements. Change

    must happen, but change is good, because it would keep

    the show alive.

    I guess what I’m saying is that this was a great episode.

  3. fiziko says:

    It was great
    “You don’t care what I say?” I really, really liked this episode. Perhaps I wasn’t clear on that. In my opinion, anything that totals higher than 30 is a great episode/movie/whatever. I’ve decided that the 6 out of 6 should be a very hard score to get, which means that only the absolute best can score higher than 35. Being that good in every category is going to be hard, but I hope it’ll happen.

  4. Erf says:

    Originality
    I notice you kept harping about how unoriginal this series was. I beg to differ. True, we’ve seen mutants and things before, but that was just a vehicle for this story. We’ve seen spaceships before, too, but that doesn’t mean every show with a spaceship is unoriginal.

    The real story was Doggett’s, and to a lesser extent Leyla’s (and of course M&S’s). They did a really good job of showing Doggett what makes him tick, by presenting him with all sorts of difficult situations and showing how he dealt.

    I do hope we get to see him working alone for a while.

  5. Erf says:

    Effects.
    The effects in this show were brilliant, I thought. Especially the monster. We never really saw the monster, but we know very well what it looks like, from partial shots and images of it running around in the shadows. And the way it *moved*… awesome. I think it was mostly CGI, especially when it was running around on walls, but because of the way they filmed everything they were able to successfully hide the CGI’s shortcomings. I was impressed.

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