by Michelle Erica Green

Looking For Mulder In All the Wrong Places

"Within" Plot Summary:

A heart beats underwater. It looks like there's a fetus gestating, but it's Mulder with a tube in his mouth, looking terrified. Scully, also looking terrified, wakes in the hospital with a hand protectively over her belly.

Arriving at Mulder's office, Scully finds several agents going through his files. They claim they're collecting material for the manhunt for Mulder. Scully storms to Skinner's office, where she learns that he, too, has just learned of the manhunt and reiterates his promise to find her partner. The newly promoted Kersh summons them both, asking them for statements, which sounds to Scully like he thinks they're suspects. Kersh warns them that Special Agent John Doggett is leading investigation, and says that if anything leaves the building about alien abductions, they'll both be looking for new jobs.

Scully tells Skinner not to ruin his career by testifying about what he saw the night Mulder disappeared. While the assistant director talks to the task force, Scully sits in an outer office with an agent she's never met. He knows she was Mulder's partner and makes comments about how even partners never really know one another -- for instance, he suspects she doesn't know Mulder confided in other women in the office. When he asks for her theory about what happened to Mulder, Scully says, "My theory is you don't know Mulder at all." She turns his name tag and reads, "John Doggett." Kersh's task force leader says he was just getting around to introducing himself. "Nice to meet you, Agent Doggett," she replies, throwing her glass of water in his face.

At home, Scully looks up Doggett's record and begs her mother to telephone. The static on her line makes her suspicious. Then she looks out the window to see a man watching her apartment. Scully calls Doggett to demand that he stay out of her business. Seeing a shadow outside her door, she races outside, but finds only her landlord on the fire escape, claiming he just saw Mulder in the building. When Scully returns to her apartment, her computer has been stolen. She goes to Mulder's, where she falls asleep in his bed, curled up with one of his shirts. In another vision, Mulder lies strapped down with wires in his face, screaming as a drill enters his mouth.

The Lone Gunmen tell Skinner they have found evidence of UFO activity and believe Mulder's abduction was just a brief stop on the way to another site. Skinner wants to know where the ship might be headed next. Doggett visits Kersh to ask whether any other office might be investigating Mulder's disappearance, because he has a hunch. He finds Scully asleep in Mulder's apartment, where both claim they just wanted to feed the fish. Scully warns Doggett that he wouldn't know where to look for Mulder, yet Doggett knows where the fish food is hidden. He says he finds it hard to accept that a scientist could believe her partner might have been abducted by aliens. "Did you ever see an alien?" Scully testifies that she will go on record that she has seen things she cannot explain, and as a scientist, she won't dismiss them because someone thinks it is B.S. Doggett has found rental card receipts for weekend trips to Maine, and suggests again that Scully might not really have known her partner.

At the FBI, Skinner is interrogated about a break-in after hours, where someone used Mulder's pass card to get inside and remove files. Skinner says Mulder may have felt threatened by budget cuts that could have affected the X-Files, but he would not have betrayed the truth. Doggett is called away and meets Scully in the outer office, where a box has been brought in. He reveals Mulder's visa card was used two days earlier in Raleigh, NC for flowers sent to a mortuary. Scully says Mulder's mother was buried in Raleigh. The box is opened to reveal a tombstone carved with the names of Mulder's entire family, including Fox.

"I don't believe it, Dana, it just doesn't make any sense," says Skinner. Doggett has Mulder's medical records and asks if they knew about any condition following his episode of irregular brain activity the year before. Skinner says Mulder made a full recovery -- he would have told them, otherwise -- but Scully skims the file and realizes Mulder was dying. Doggett asks once more how well Scully really knew Mulder, and demands to know how far Mulder would go to prove the truths to which he had dedicated his life. "Would he stage own disappearance?" Recalling the spaceship taking off, Skinner says he knows what he saw -- he watched it happen. Scully asks Doggett not to report that comment, and Doggett agrees, since it wouldn't help him find Mulder.

Skinner and the Lone Gunmen show Scully the UFO activity they have been tracking, but she thinks it's a waste of time, since Mulder disappeared in the Pacific Northwest and the sightings are concentrated in the Southwest. Then she realizes that it may not be Mulder, but the aliens who are destroying the evidence of their presence -- they may be looking in Arizona for Gibson Praise, who vanished 100 miles from Phoenix. At the same time, Doggett reads a file slipped under his door with a photo of Gibson Praise. He calls the task force together, saying Praise may have been the subject of the stolen files. Doggett thinks that to find Mulder, they first must locate Gibson Praise.

Scully dozes in the car and again dreams of Mulder being tortured with horrific instruments. When she wakes, Skinner asks her help navigating in the desert. In a helicopter overhead, Doggett learns that Praise attends a school for the deaf in Flemington, AZ, and calls to have the boy removed from classes. The special agent arrives moments before Scully and Skinner, all demanding to see Praise, but he has escaped through a window. Doggett follows Praise's footprints and finds that an adult has apparently led him away. He follows across the desert into the hills, where Praise begs someone to let him go. Doggett pulls his gun and repeats the statement...to Mulder. To be continued.


I can't help it: I flinched when John Doggett's badge flashed across the screen during the new, improved opening credits, which also feature a fetus that morphs into the moon. The writers are clever to have Doggett act despicably, because so many viewers can't help hating him on principle. Not that he does a bad job: his authority is sufficient to suggest that he has been part of this institution for all the years we've been watching Mulder and Scully solve cases. He does make Scully look bad, which is his agenda, but it doesn't help any that she starts to doubt Mulder half a sentence in.

We're supposed to feel sorry for Scully, what with her weeping and puking her guts out. But the camera goes to considerable effort to admire her cleavage and her legs in the opening sequences (pregnant women do not wear underwire bras), and she comes across more defensive than devastated at Mulder's loss. She's magnificent throwing her drink in Doggett's face, but that's small compensation for her repeatedly rising to the bait when he suggests she didn't know Mulder at all. Part of the problem is that the viewers have not been told exactly what happened between Scully and Mulder last season, so we don't know whether she really doesn't know. The question Doggett politely dances around -- whether Mulder and Scully were intimate -- needs to be answered definitively for all of us, and soon.

Skinner plays believer to Scully's qualified skeptic -- a nice change of pace. Are his nanoprobes in temporary abeyance? He calls Scully "Dana" and frets over her pregnancy, but at least he doesn't suggest she should take herself off the case. Maybe because we've seen less Skinner angst, it's easier to feel for him. Besides, we know Skinner is right to believe, since we see Mulder being tortured like Debbie Harry on the cover of the Kookoo album or like Kate Nelligan having a facelift in Brazil. Poor David Duchovny. This must be the price for his payoff.

"Within" is nicely filmed, particularly the scene where Scully walks into Mulder's apartment and the light comes through the blinds like bars across her face. Yet despite the unanswered questions, there's no suspense. How many times has Mulder come back from the dead? Are we really supposed to worry just because he's been kidnapped and tortured by aliens? Heck, Scully's been through worse and she's having a baby! Let's hope it's less annoying than Gibson Praise.

I didn't notice during the episode, but I wonder what year of death was on the tombstone under Samantha's name? That could tell us a lot about who had the stone carved...

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