TV - The X-Files Season 8, Within/Without

The X-Files

After his Top 5 earlier Steve Taylor-Bryant takes a look at the two part episode that introduces the new Agent...

If I am honest, Essence and Existence are probably the best episodes in Season 8 of The X Files. They are true X Files stories, played out with aplomb, but it is the very start of Season 8 that is the most important tale as it is farewell Mulder and welcome to Doggett. Within and its finale Without see Scully and Skinner investigated by the new Deputy Director of the FBI, Kersch, who is heading a taskforce to track down the missing Agent Mulder. The problem is Doggett is very sceptical about Mulder and his work and doesn't believe in anything, which does not endear him to either Skinner or Scully. Scully goes home and does a background check on Doggett, learning he is ex NYPD. When she tries to call her mother, she realises her phone is tapped leading to an angry outburst against Doggett. After she spots a mysterious man outside her apartment, she chases him until she sees her landlord who says it was her partner, Agent Mulder.

Skinner takes a trip to The Lone Gunmen who are tracking UFO movement across the United States. It is noticed that most of the activity at present is centred around Arizona. Someone uses Mulder's identification to enter the FBI and steal some files which puts Skinner top of Doggett's list of suspects. Doggett meanwhile mysteriously receives a file on young chess champion Gibson Praise and takes his taskforce off to a special school in Arizona to see if Mulder has tried to contact him. Scully and Skinner are also there, much to Doggett's annoyance, and Praise is kidnapped...by Mulder!

As we enter the second episode, Without, we see the stand off between Doggett and Mulder with Mulder falling from the cliff and supposedly dead at the bottom. When the agents go to investigate they find Mulder has disappeared. Scully soon works out that the man was not Mulder but was in fact the alien bounty hunter. She finds Gibson Praise hiding with a broken leg and runs back to the school to get help. Doggett takes a telling off from Kersch before Skinner tells him that he believes Kersch is setting Doggett up to fail. With Scully joining the conversation and another Scully inside the school, the shape shifting bounty hunter is back and searching for Praise. He, disguised as Scully, attacks another agent, but Skinner and the real Scully manage to drive him away. Skinner and Scully after a stand off about trust retrieve Gibson Praise from his hiding place and take him to hospital.

The X-Files

With just his friend Thea to visit, Praise is locked in his room with an FBI guard. When Doggett and Scully travel to the hospital to check on Praise they find he his missing. Scully runs off to search the other rooms whilst Doggett tries to work out how the boy was taken from a sealed room being watched by the FBI. When he lifts a ceiling tile he finds a badly injured Skinner. Scully also finds a Skinner who says he protecting the boy. Gibson Praise manages to signal to Scully that this Skinner is actually the alien bounty hunter and when he goes for Scully she shoots him dead, leaving a green ooze to come from his body melting him. After the events of the day are explained to Kersch by Doggett, it is decided to reopen the X Files division, with Doggett now in charge. All the time the story has been going on a naked Mulder is strapped to a strange chair in an alien craft being tortured.

The relationship between Scully and Doggett as the future of the X Files is introduced in this two parter, with it becoming a strange and very different dynamic to the one that Mulder and Scully had. In Scully we still have the scientist, the doctor that needs evidence and doesn't necessarily believe but is open to the fact she has seen things she can't explain, and in Doggett we have an agent quite reluctant to take on Mulder's work and a man who certainly doesn't believe no matter what he has experienced. The initial lack of trust the two have for each other as well made for a different partnership than viewers were used to, which had to be done with the fact that Duchovny would only be making the odd appearance, and in Doggett you needed a different type of man to Mulder rather than a straight replacement.

Better episodes were to come, although not that many, but Within and Without were certainly an important jump off point for the new X Files.

Image - XFiles Wiki.