"Vienen" and "Alone"
by Michelle Erica Green

Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon, You Come and Go, You Come and Go

"Vienen" Plot Summary:

When the FBI gets evidence that the black oil may have infiltrated a rig in the Gulf of Mexico, Mulder violates Kersh's orders in order to get there before Doggett, adamant in his belief that the other agent won't investigate the paranormal angle of a case that's officially about U.S. drilling rights. While Scully autopsies a victim from the rig and finds concrete evidence of black oil infestation, Doggett reluctantly works with Mulder, realizing that nearly all the men on the rig have been compromised.

Mulder uncovers evidence that the black oil can't infect people of Mestizo descent because of an anomaly in their genetic backgrounds. Doggett has problems believing in the oil or this inexplicable immunity to it, but once he finds the one remaining sane man on the rig, he tries to help Mulder stop an evacuation before the infestation can reach the shore. When the black oil drives the drillers to destroy their handiwork, the two agents escape the burning rig together by jumping into the sea. But only Mulder takes the fall back at the Bureau, asking Doggett to keep the X-Files alive after he's gone.

"Alone" Plot Summary:

Because Scully's doctor has recommended an early maternity leave, Doggett gets a new partner -- a transfer from accounting who used to process Mulder and Scully's travel expense reports and became a big fan of the agents. But Agent Harrison is a novice in the field, which is a major problem since Doggett is investigating a mysterious murder. When they go to upstate New York and end up trapped in a Prohibition tunnel, they discover that the killer is someone or something that shoots venom in its victims' eyes. Bacteria in the venom liquefies the bodies so the predator can eat them.

After Doggett and his new partner Harrison disappear, Scully abandons Lamaze class to perform an autopsy to try to save him. Then Mulder heads into the field on a rescue mission, claiming he's Kersh. It turns out that Herbert Stites, a scientist who had been experimenting with reptile DNA, has somehow transformed himself into a metamorphic creature that becomes reptilian and eats humans. Mulder and Scully give Agent Harrison a thrill after Mulder saves her life by telling Doggett how to kill the creature, but Doggett ends up alone once more on the X-Files, looking in the window as the two former partners laugh together.


As you can probably tell from the above summaries, I'm just chugging along till the end of the season, just like The X-Files. I'm paying about as much attention to detail and continuity as the series' writers, which means that brief disjointed synopses and occasional fits of passion in my analysis will have to suffice. I stayed awake during "Vienen" for two pathetic reasons: the pleasure of seeing Casey Biggs (Deep Space Nine's Damar) even if his face was hidden by a hat most of the time, and the amusement of counting the number of times Mulder and Doggett touched each other, which would have done my slash fan's heart good if my slash fan's heart found a Mulder/Doggett pairing appealing in any real way, rather than out of a sense of sheer perversity.

I mean, Doggett walks around these days mooning as if he's in love with Scully so much that he seems to have absorbed her obsession with Mulder -- complete with the side that's constantly infuriated by him. He can't decide whether to be mad at Mulder for beating him to the rig in "Vienen," or whether to be mad at himself for being so dreadful at cases like this one. He doesn't like knowing that he's Kersh's lackey, but he's unwilling to think about why Kersh put him in that position -- his idea of thinking outside the box is trying to communicate in broken Spanish with someone he suspects he should be arresting. He does provide a decent foil for Mulder, whose sense of humor seems to have gotten sharper and more bitter since his death, and god knows Mulder needs a decent foil now that Scully is trapped in the deadly earnest state her pregnancy seems to have evoked.

So Mulder's officially gone from the X-Files, and has left them in Doggett's hands because Scully has other things on her mind. To his credit, Doggett seems to take this charge seriously, though it's not clear whether this is because of how he feels about Scully or how he feels about Mulder. One might expect him to continue to consult on occasion with the driving force behind the department, so it's pretty odd at the beginning of "Alone" when Mulder wanders in sort of like a stalker to see what's up in his old office, still decorated with his posters. Scully finds charming mementos of previous missions, like the one where Mulder was Morris and weird forces merged objects, but this isn't a plus in terms of continuity -- it just reminds us that she's been replaced of late by a pod person. As if we needed proof, she then gets teary telling Doggett she's going on maternity leave, and hugs him. How many seasons did it take her to show that kind of emotion to Mulder? Later she says pregnancy hormones are making her miss work, but that embrace wasn't about work. And Mulder seems to have his own suspicions about why Scully wants her lapdog rescued so badly. After all, she shows more concern about Doggett's disappearance than she showed about Mulder's when she was off chasing bat-men with her new partner.

But first, Doggett gets paired with Agent Mary Sue Harrison! Except that she's only a Mary Sue for the show's writers, who want us to believe that a fan would get just as excited about working with Doggett as she would about working with Mulder and Scully. Like the fans from William Shatner's "Get a Life" parody of a Star Trek convention on Saturday Night Live, she's a veritable episode guide when it comes to thinking up paranormal possibilities. Doggett wisely dismisses them all as a crock, until by the end of the episode even those of us who saw and loved those episodes are realizing just how stupid this show sounds when summarized. Fluke-man? Fat vampires? This is a crock!

So when Reptile-Man's dark secret is revealed, there's an overwhelming sense of ridicule despite the pseudo-science behind Stites' experiments. Hey, Doggett is right! The X-Files are stupid, and he'd remember that if he weren't so whipped by Madonna Scully that he can't see straight -- she's warped him worse than the venom. Then the episode ends on a surreal note. Doggett regretfully offers the Apollo medallion passed from Mulder to Scully to himself as a symbol of partnership to Harrison, which might be somewhat touching if one could get over Harrison's undeniable resemblance to ditzy Agent Karen Sympathy from the last year's live-action Rocky and Bullwinkle movie. And suddenly, we're not watching an episode of The X-Files; we're at an X-Files convention. Harrison asks about how Mulder and Scully got back from Antarctica after escaping from the spaceship at the end of Fight the Future, a question that has obsessed fans since that movie. David and Gillian (one gets the definite impression there are actors here, not Fox Mulder and Dana Scully) break into banter -- a suddenly smiling, sexy woman points out that there's no proof there was ever a spaceship, and her affectionately exasperated partner insists that of course there was. They never do answer the question.

What the hell? Are the writers laughing at fans, or at themselves for not even trying to make sense of their own mythology -- and does it matter, since they obviously find people who try to follow such mythology very silly? Why are we still watching, anyway -- because we're the few, the proud who appreciate the in-joke when Doggett finds a copy of Leakey's The Sixth Extinction on Stites' desk? I have no answer to these questions any more than to the one about Antarctica, but the bottom line is:

I don't care. I don't care whether Mulder is really Mulder or a replicant or someone infected by an alien virus or that Morris guy from "Dreamland." I don't care whether Scully's baby is human or alien, whether the father is Mulder or Cancer Man, whether she ends up loving Mulder, Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, or all of them in a nice big house in Virginia that nobody could really afford on FBI agents' salaries. I don't care whether or not it's possible to resolve the mytharc in a satisfying manner, because even if it is, I stopped having faith in it far too many episodes back. Farewell, Chris Carter -- it was marvelous while it lasted, but it's already over. It's been over all season.

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