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The X-Files – 4-D (Review)

This December, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the ninth season of The X-Files.

In many ways, the ninth season begins with 4-D.

This is perhaps the perfect point for an “alternate reality” episode. After all, The X-Files has undergone a transformation; the reality of the show has been fundamentally and impossibly altered. It might have the same title, it might have an opening sequence that somewhat resembles the old opening sequence, it might even have continuity of characters like Scully and Skinner. However, something has changed. This is not Mulder and Scully, but this is still The X-Files. The show has transitioned. The world has changed around it.

A close shave...

A close shave…

The first three episodes of the season – Nothing Important Happened Today I, Nothing Important Happened Today II, and Dæmonicus – were all produced before 9/11, even though they were broadcast two months after the attacks. (9/11 actually fell during the production of Dæmonicus, with shooting stopping for a day.) The fourth episode of the season, Hellbound, was pushed back deeper into the broadcast order. As such, 4-D was the first episode to be both produced and aired after 9/11.

Appropriately enough, that means that 4-D exists in a different world than the episodes directly preceding it. It has been remarked that the events of 9/11 represented a break in cultural continuity, a line by which history might (relatively cleanly) be divided. There was the world “before 9/11” and “after 9/11.” Although the worlds might look quite similar – and even identical, in many cases – they should not be confused. The world is not as it was. Reality has come undone.

Well, Doggett could always make it as a stand-up comedian.

Well, Doggett could always make it as a stand-up comedian.

It is, in many ways, surprising that The X-Files never did a parallel universe story before this point. On the surface, this might be because the whole premise is “too Star Trek”, to quote Doggett. However, that is not entirely fair. The X-Files has done “far out” science-fiction stories before. The second season featured episodes like Fearful SymmetryDød Kälm and Soft Light. The series produced its first time-travel episode in the fourth season with Synchrony, before really embracing the concept in the sixth with Triangle, Dreamland II and Monday.

In some ways, Triangle or The Post-Modern Prometheus could be considered “alternate universe” stories because they are impossible to reconcile with the show’s own internal continuity. Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” and Bad Blood both suggest that everybody inhabits their own unique reality that just occasionally happens to overlap with the reality occupied by others. Mulder’s dream sequence in The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati could also count, featuring a grim alternate future of a world where Mulder chose to lay down his burdens.

"Tongue sandwich, anyone?"

“Tongue sandwich, anyone?”

Indeed, the seventh season seemed to fixate upon the idea of alternate modes of reality, with Mulder and Scully frequently confronting the idea that their reality was not entirely stable or certain. This was embodied in the literal virtual reality of First-Person Shooter, but also in the hyperreality of X-Cops. When the seventh season tried to engage with its own past in episodes like MillenniumOrisonSein und ZeitClosure and Requiem, it often seemed that the characters landed in a slightly “off” version of the show’s continuity and history.

The ninth season is similarly engaged with the idea of recursive and illusive reality, but in a way that feels more rigidly defined than the distortions of the seventh season. Unlike in X-Cops, the handheld video footage in Lord of the Flies is clearly delineated from the rest of the episode. Unlike the in-universe crossover in Millennium, the characters are actually aware of the crossover taking place in Sunshine Days. Reyes is actively aware of reality bending around her in 4-D and Audrey Pauley.

Mirror universe...

Mirror universe…

Even allowing for those seventh season experiments with the fabric of reality, the show had largely steered clear of literal alternate realities until this point. It is the alternate reality element of 4-D that immediately stands out as strange, particularly in contrast to what the show had done in the past. In his assessment of the ninth season, Chris Carter praised 4-D as a “kind of a Twilight Zone episode.” The script acknowledges this classic science-fiction sensibility with references to Rod Sterling (“Bennett Avenue”) and The Prisoner (“Number Six”) in Reyes’ address.

It seems quite likely that alternate universes were simply of interest to Steven Maeda. The writer had joined the staff of The X-Files in the late seventh season, after working on Chris Carter’s ill-fated Harsh Realm. Maeda wrote the first episode of Harsh Realm not to be written by Chris Carter himself, with Kein Ausgang speculating about a virtual reality buried within the television show’s own virtual reality. Maeda would return to the theme of alternate realities before the end of the ninth season, scripting Aubrey Pauley.

Does not compute...

Does not compute…

Perhaps the ninth season’s fascination with recursive reality could be seen as an extension of the “comic book logic” that became more pronounced during the eighth season. The eighth season introduced the concept of Captain America-style “super soldiers” into the mythology, while offering an ersatz!Man-Bat in Patience and an ersatz!Lizard in Alone. The most interesting aspect of Nothing Important Happened Today I was director Kim Manner’s use of vibrant colours, lending the whole thing a pulpy comic book aesthetic.

While the use of a parallel reality is quite striking in the context of The X-Files, it could be seen to foreshadow the arrival of the show’s logical successor. Fringe would appear on Fox in September 2008, prompting inevitable comparisons to The X-Files. Gillian Flynn would describe it as “a worthy successor – finally – to The X-Files.” Other reviewers were less flattering in their juxtapositions. Misha Davenport suggested that it was “essentially an update of The X-Files.” The show even came to occupy The X-Files‘ old “Fridays at 9pm” slot on Fox.

The darkest corners of the human mind...

The darkest corners of the human mind…

However, what defined the mythology and conspiracy of Fringe was not alien colonisation, but the idea of a parallel world. The suggestion seemed to be that the really interesting speculative possibilities were not to be found on other worlds, but on other versions of this same world. Fringe eschewed that logic of mirror universes, forgoing evil doppelgangers and radical differences for a sense of the uncanny. A series arc involved the slow realisation that alt!Walter Bishop (“Walternate”) was not in fact an evil twin, but a complex human being.

The way in which Fringe chose to reveal this alternate universe is somewhat telling. In the first season finalé, There’s More Than One of Everything, the existence of the alternate universe is revealed through a shot of the World Trade Centre still standing in the world of the mysterious William Bell. It is an iconic image, perhaps the most memorable shot of the show’s entire five-season run. Joshua Jackson confesses, “I don’t know that we’ve ever had a better visual or a better cliff-hanger.”

Born to be Brad...

Born to be Brad…

As Paul A. Cantor notes in The Invisible Hand of Popular Culture, the parallel universe in Fringe ties into many of the same metaphors as the alien in The X-Files:

With its parallel universe, Fringe evokes all the anxieties about globalisation and immigration we have been analysing. … The name Fringe is similar to Surface or Threshold, and evokes the same worry about the porousness of U.S. borders that the earlier series embodied. In the alternate New York, the Department of Defense is located on the same island as the Statue of Liberty, suggesting that the traditional American symbol of open borders has been repurposed to police and close them.

The transition between the two worlds in Fringe is analogous to the transition between human and alien in The X-Files. However, the emphasis on parallel (rather than simply other) worlds suggests a changed perception.



With that shot of the World Trade Centre at the end of There’s More Than One of Everything, the show ties its alternate universe to the legacy of 9/11. Of course, the show would later reveal that and alternate version of the attacks did take place. The terrorists just succeeded in destroying the White House instead of the World Trade Centre. Still, whatever plot details might retroactively attempt to qualify the power of that striking image, there is no denying the association that exists between Fringe‘s alternate universe and the attacks of 9/11.

It could be argued that 9/11 effectively “broke” reality. The terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were shocking in their magnitude and scale. After a decade of (relative) peace and prosperity, the vicious attacks upon those iconic landmarks seemed to come from nowhere. How could people process such jarring imagery? For many in the Western world, there was simply no frame of reference for the images that fed out of New York on that September morning.

Paralysed by fear. Also, by a bullet.

Paralysed by fear.
Also, by a bullet.

In Welcome to the Desert of the Real!, Slavoj Žižek argues that the 9/11 attacks represented the intrusion of the unreal (or the hyperreal) into a previously stable reality:

We should therefore invert the standard reading according to which the WTC explosions were the intrusion of the Real which shattered our illusory Sphere: quite the reverse – it was before the WTC collapse that we lived in our reality, perceiving Third World horrors as something which was not actually part of our social reality, as something which existed (for us) as a spectral analysis on the (TV) screen – and what happened on September 11 was that this fantasmatic screen apparition entered our reality. It is not that reality entered our image: the image entered and shattered our reality.

It makes sense that the boundaries of reality on Fringe should seem so porous. It feels appropriate that the ninth season of The X-Files should also touch repeatedly upon that idea of the illusory boundary between the real and unreal.



The plot of 4-D concerns a serial killer named Erwin Lukesh who has found a way to cross the boundaries between dimensions. Tellingly, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the boundary between the real and unreal is not defined in scientific or geographic terms. Reyes speculates that Lukesh’s ability to cross the boundary is purely emotional. “When did it start?” Reyes wonders. “After your breakdown in 1995? All that anger, it’s buttoned up so tight, it had nowhere else to go. It had to get released. Not here. But in a world just like this one.”

Although Reyes describes this world as “parallel”, it seems that the world is actually “secondary.” It is a fake world, a pocket of unreality. It is a world that perfectly resembles the real world, but through which Lukesh can live out his own violent fantasies and darkest impulses. Maeda’s script rather cleverly uses this unreality as a metaphor, suggesting that Lukesh has simply found the perfect way of compartmentalising his sadistic urges – literally shunting them off to a pocket universe.

"Say hi to your mother for me."

“Say hi to your mother for me.”

“There’s this world, and there’s the world where you live out your sick fantasies,” Reyes speculates. Lukesh literally has a “double life”, the cliché that is frequently employed in discussions of serial killers. More than that, Lukesh can legitimately argue that his victims are “unreal”, an effective illustration of how such offenders effectively dehumanise their victims. As a serial killer narrative, 4-D uses the paranormal framework of The X-Files to provide a clever twist on the tendency of such predators toward compartmentalisation and dehumanisation.

Little touches like this stand out. 4-D commits quite cleverly to its parallel universe. Mirror imagery recurs throughout the episode, from the reversal of “the truth is out there” in the opening credits through to the use of the two-way mirror during Reyes’ interrogation and identification. Other mirroring is more subtle, with the sequence of Lukesh attacking his invalid mother with a straight-razor contrasted against the sequence of Reyes shaving alt!Doggett with a disposable razor.

The bleeding edge...

The bleeding edge…

More than that, the teaser to the episode is very cleverly mirrored – the footage is actually reversed, leading to a great transition at the end of the teaser when alt!Doggett and Lukesh both cross the boundary. The production team went to the effort of printing all of the signs featured in the teaser out backwards so that they would show up properly on the mirrored footage. That is a lot of effort for a subtle visual motif, and a reminder of just how much attention and craft goes into the show, even at this late stage of its life-cycle.

It is worth noting that so much effort is put into making the parallel universe extra-diagetic, offering jarring changes that are more unsettling to the audience than to the character. Reyes and Doggett will never see “the truth is out there” spelt backwards; nor will alt!Doggett or alt!Follmer ever appreciate that the camera image was reversed. 4-D draws attention to its status as television, reminding the viewer that the world inhabited by Reyes is just as unreal as the world inhabited by alt!Doggett.

Gunning for Reyes...

Gunning for Reyes…

The mediated image is an important recurring theme of the ninth season, with the show constantly reminding viewers of its own unreality and format. Flipping the image in the teaser of 4-D is just one example of many; others include the filming of “Dumbass” in Lord of the Flies, the Shadow Man’s relationship to Scully as a character on a television screen in Trust No 1, the musical number in Improbable, the incorporation of fan discourse into Scary Monsters and the conjuring of the Brady household into “reality” in Sunshine Days.

The X-Files had repeatedly drawn attention to its status as a television show (and its relationships to other television shows) before, most notably in episodes written by Vince Gilligan (Unusual Suspects, X-Cops) or directed by Chris Carter (The Post-Modern Prometheus, Triangle), but never with the consistency of the ninth season. The very televisual reality of the ninth season of The X-Files seems to be unstable, as denoted by the constant changes to the opening credits sequence – both in the dynamic cast list and in the abundance of riffs on the “truth is out there” motto.

Taking the (assistant) direct(or) approach...

Taking the (assistant) direct(or) approach…

This focus on mediated reality is particularly relevant in the context of 9/11. Without any real frame of reference for the atrocities, it became a cliché to compare the attacks to media imagery. As Anthony Lane noted less than a fortnight after the attacks:

The first hijacked airplane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:48 A.M. By the time the north tower collapsed, it was ten-twenty-eight. A hundred minutes had thus elapsed; if you factor in the hijackings themselves, then the entire event, from buildup to crashdown, had swollen to a little over two hours. And we know what that sounds like; after all, in the last quarter of a century, how many tickets have we bought to watch two hours of flamboyant destruction and the heroic strivings of a few good men? Of course, you could argue that last Tuesday was an instant dismissal of the fantastic—that people gazed up into the sky and immediately told themselves that this was the real thing. Yet all the evidence suggests the contrary; it was the television commentators as well as those on the ground who resorted to a phrase book culled from cinema: “It was like a movie.” “It was like ‘Independence Day.’ ” “It was like ‘Die Hard.’ ” “No, ‘Die Hard 2.’ ” ” ‘Armageddon.’ ” And the exclamations from below, from the watchers of the skies caught on video, as they see the aircraft slice into the side of the tower: where have you heard those expressions most recently—the wows, the whoohs, the holy shits—if not in movie theatres, and even on your own blaspheming tongue?

Taking place in a major metropolitan area, the media was not only able to capture the aftermath of the attacks, but also the attacks themselves. The attacks were captured on tape from multiple angles, the footage looped and replayed over the coming years.

Cyclin' for psychos...

Cyclin’ for psychos…

The unreality of 4-D marks it as the first truly post-9/11 episode of The X-Files. Although the story was likely developed before the attacks took place, the episode captures the sense of disconnect and uncertainty in the aftermath of 9/11. 4-D explores a reality that is unraveling, where perhaps nothing is real. The first three episodes of the season were produced and broadcast in two different worlds; although 4-D is the first episode to be produced and broadcast in the “post-9/11” world, that doesn’t make those inconsistencies any easier to reconcile.

It also helps that 4-D is the first episode of the ninth season that works on a fundamental level. To be fair, Hellbound is also a superb piece of television, but it was pushed later into the season broadcast order. It is interesting to wonder what might have happened if the production team had been able to front-load the stronger episodes of the ninth season instead of scattering them through the broadcast order. The viewing figures suggest the show would still have been cancelled, but perhaps fan opinion would on the season would have softened.

All alone.

All alone.

In hindsight, Frank Spotnitz acknowledges that 4-D is an episode that worked very well for the character of Monica Reyes, serving to humanise and develop a character who had alienated a certain section of the fandom:

I think she has a growing contingent of support, especially after the episode 4-D was broadcast. People really saw what Annabeth Gish could do, and they saw a new side of this character too. But I think in the beginning certain people were scratching their heads, because they weren’t quite sure who she was. I also think you can’t ignore the fact that there was resistance from a lot of people to anyone coming in to the show after Mulder and Scully, and I think she’s really worn down a great deal of that resistance. I think by the end of the season people will love and miss her character greatly.

It should be noted that Hellbound was also a Reyes-centric episode, and that it might have been a good idea to put the Reyes-centric episodes towards the start of the season. After all, Reyes was the most unknown quantity going into Nothing Important Happened Today I.

Cut down in her prime...

Cut down in her prime…

4-D feels like the first episode of the ninth season to actually focus on Doggett and Reyes, which seems ridiculous at this point of the season. The biggest challenge going into the ninth season was to establish Doggett and Reyes as credible replacements for Mulder and Scully, something that the first three episodes of the season botched by insisting that Mulder and Scully were still the most important characters on the show. At this point in the ninth season, the show’s protagonists feel like an after-thought.

After all, David Duchovny’s butt double appeared before any of the credited leads in Nothing Important Happened Today I. Even allowing for the quick shot of Mulder in the shower, Scully appeared before Doggett or Reyes. Although Nothing Important Happened Today II teased a connection between Doggett and the “super soldier” programme, it quickly reassured viewers that the mythology was still centred around Scully as a proxy for William. Dæmonicus was more interesting in how Scully fits into the show than with Doggett or Reyes.

Mirror images...

Mirror images…

4-D feels like an episode that should have arrived earlier in the season; at the very least, it should have aired before Dæmonicus. Doggett and Reyes get more space and development here than they did in the first three episodes of the season. While the duo will never completely replace Mulder and Scully, the introductory scene where Doggett brings some Polish sausage – “the best in the city” – as a house-warming gift suggests a warm and friendly relationship that could sustain a show like this.

Indeed, 4-D finds some great character beats for both Reyes and Doggett. (Well, alt!Doggett, but episode is still insightful.) For the first time in the show, it feels like there is genuinely a deep bond between the characters. The eighth season insisted upon that bond in This is Not Happening and Empedocles, but 4-D feels like the first time there is a genuine and easy warmth between the two. Annabeth Gish and Robert Patrick might never share the easy chemistry of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, but 4-D suggests they could handle the material.

Surviving on dumb Lukesh...

Surviving on dumb Lukesh…

In particular, the actors are able to sidestep any techno-babble or contrivance to get at the emotional heart of the story. alt!Doggett’s attempts to convince Reyes to end his life feel perfectly in keeping with the character as we understand him, the stoic and dignified (and restrained) military man who takes tremendous pride in his strength and dynamism. There is something quite moving in Reyes’ self-awareness, her intuitive understanding that alt!Doggett doesn’t actually believe her theory and is trying to manipulate her.

(Of course, if Reyes’ theory is not true, her decision to turn off Doggett’s life-support machine could lead to a criminal prosecution and possible murder charges. This makes alt!Doggett’s manipulations particularly self-serving, suggesting that he doesn’t worry too much about Reyes facing the rest of her life in prison so long as his own suffering ends. Then again, it is not as if Mulder was ever particularly attuned to Scully’s own emotional needs during his time on the show. Doggett’s own stubbornness is as much a vice as a virtue.)



Perhaps the least convincing aspect of 4-D is the attempt to shoehorn in some romantic chemistry between Doggett and Reyes, with Reyes affectionately wiping some mustard off Doggett’s face in their first scene together and later shaving alt!Doggett when he cannot shave himself. Gish confesses of the dynamic:

“But that scene was so good. And the word is calibrate. That’s the perfect word. It’s frustrating, as I said, not to know where things are going, but it’s also great as an actress to always have an obstacle. My relationship with Doggett always has an obstacle in the way. Either he doesn’t want to love me or he’s in love with Scully. I don’t know if he even recognizes that Monica loves him. It’ll be very interesting to see how they play it out, but Chris and Frank haven’t told me anything.”

Trying to force a “will they?”/“won’t they?” dynamic into the relationship between Doggett and Reyes feels somewhat ill-judged, particularly considering how long it took the production team to accept the chemistry between Mulder and Scully that evolved naturally from their actors.

Mustering courage...

Mustering courage…

During the early seasons of the show, the writers were openly hostile to the idea of a romantic relationship between Mulder and Scully. It seemed that the dynamic between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (and changes in the writing staff) that made the inevitable romance possible. That tension between the chemistry on-screen and the reluctance behind the scenes made the Mulder and Scully dynamic so compelling. It was a flirtation between the writers and the audience as much as between the characters.

Removing that tension with Doggett and Reyes feels like a mistake. Doggett and Reyes have only been assigned to the X-files for a quarter or a season at this point, so it seems far too early to dictate the nature of their relationship. It would seem smarter to let the actors find their own dynamic in the same way that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson had during the early episodes of the first season. Heavyhandedly teasing the inevitability of a romantic relationship at this point feels premature and ill-judged.

He's behind you!

He’s behind you!

One of the smarter aspects of 4-D is the willingness to cede the episode over to Doggett and Reyes while still exploiting the formidable ensemble that the show has built up around them. 4-D offers a much more effective use of Scully than any of the first three characters, positioning her as a member of the ensemble equivalent to Skinner or Follmer rather than a lead in her own right. When the time comes for a secondary character to take out Lukesh with a bullet to the head, it is Follmer who steps up to the plate.

While this is probably not what fans at the time would want, The X-Files needs to let Scully go. It would be something if the production team had any idea what to do with Scully as a character, but most of Scully’s character beats in the ninth season treat her as nothing more than a bridge to Mulder or William. Without any solid material for Scully, it makes more sense to treat her as part of the show’s deep bench. The ninth season might have done well to treat Scully as a supporting player on par with Skinner or the Lone Gunmen or Deep Throat.

He can talk the talkie, but can he walk the walkie?

He can talk the talkie, but can he walk the walkie?

Even though Scully nominally has less to do in 4-D than in Nothing Important Happened Today II or Dæmonicus, it still affords her the best character beat of the season so far. When Reyes confesses to meeting with Doggett at the time alt!Doggett was shot, Scully tries to counsel her. “I saw something once,” Scully explains. “It’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve… fully come to terms with it. In ninety-four my father passed away… and that night… at the very moment that it happened he came to me. I like to believe that he came to say goodbye.”

This is, of course, a reference to Beyond the Sea. However, it is also a nice exploration of how much Scully has grown in the last couple of seasons. It is a nice piece of character continuity, suggesting Scully has come a long way. If this is to be Scully’s last season on the show, it needs more moments like that. In that small scene, Scully feels as much a mentor figure to Reyes as Mulder had to Doggett in Empedocles or Vienen, suggesting a handover from one generation of X-Files characters to another.

The Skinman is not amused.

The Skinman is not amused.

Even the emotional arc of 4-D seems to obliquely hint at the conflict at the heart of the ninth season. Reyes is confronted with a terrible choice; in order to save her own Doggett, she must take alt!Doggett off life-support. Given the challenges facing the show at this point in its run, it is easy to read this as a metaphor for The X-Files‘ own internal anxieties. In order for the show to survive, it needs to let go of the alternate version. For Doggett and Reyes to survive, the show needs to be willing to part with Mulder and Scully.

(This is a replay of the central metaphorical conflict in DeadAlive. There, the key to saving Mulder was to take him off life-support. To be reunited with her love, Scully had to accept his mortality rather than fight to preserve his life. The show needed to learn to let go of Mulder. It was a very important theme for the eighth season, which was largely about transitioning from a show led by Mulder and Scully to a show led by Doggett and Reyes. Still, given the difficulties with the first three episodes of the season, it is not a bad idea to revisit the theme.)

"Is it pushing my luck to shoot a second supporting character character in the head?"

“Is it pushing my luck to shoot a second supporting character character in the head?”

4-D provides a firm delineation between its foreground (Doggett and Reyes) and background (Skinner, Follmer, Scully) characters. This approach works very well, because it spares Doggett and Reyes the burden of having to carry the story completely alone, while still allowing them to take the lion’s share of the emotional beats. While the episode focuses on the relationship between Doggett and Reyes, the supporting cast can take care of the more routine procedural elements. It means that everybody has something to do.

After watching the show awkwardly contort in order to integrate Scully into the first three episodes, there is something refreshing about the clarity of 4-D. Even Follmer works better in the context of 4-D than in any other episode of the season. There is something quite fun in seeing Follmer and Skinner play off one another, building off their brief interaction at the climax of Nothing Important Happened Today I. Skinner has a habit of being bullied and strong-armed, so it’s fascinating to see him play against somebody as (comparatively) weak as Follmer.

Period of reflection...

Period of reflection…

Similarly, it is great to see Skinner in an interrogation room. He has spent so long playing a stern father figure on the show that is nice to see Mitch Pileggi stretch beyond that. Watching Skinner interact with Lukesh allows the audience to see another side of the character, one slightly removed from the morally compromised authority figure. “Say hi to momma,” Skinner wryly taunts at the end of one interrogation, a line which seems at once strange and completely in-character coming from the Assistant Director we know and love. (“Pucker up”, indeed.)

4-D is a great episode, a rather underrated story that suggests there might be life in The X-Files yet. While the viewing figures for Nothing Important Happened Today I and Nothing Important Happened Today II suggested that the writing was on the wall, the ninth season might have been better remembered if it produced more episodes like this. Maybe, in some alternate universe, it did.

8 Responses

  1. If only there had been a way for Gillian Anderson to get out of season 9, Carter would have left, I believe. It would have been interesting to see an alternate season 9 run by Maeda, Schnauz, Amann and MacLaren with maybe Gilligan and Spotnitz overseeing the transition. Could have been a pretty good, albeit completely different, show with, as you point out, similar themes and styles to Fringe, Breaking Bad, etc, which were seeping in anyway.

    • It’s interesting to note that Carter’s return before the ninth season was quite late. I believe he only returned to the writers’ room in July. I think there were rumblings about Spotnitz taking over in that gap. This would have been interesting, I think. After all, Spotnitz was perhaps the John Doggett writer of the eighth season and he’d already missed his chance to be solo showrunner on Millennium.

      It might have been nice to pass to a new generation behind the scenes at the same time as passing the baton on screen.

  2. Darren, what’s your opinion about the performance of Annabeth Gish in the role of Monica Reyes?.

    I know she’s coming back for a single episode of the revival, somehow she seems more fondly remembered to Carter & company than R. Patrick.

    • To be fair, I think there may have been scheduling difficulties getting Patrick. He’s currently doing Scorpion for CBS, which is successful enough that I can see him not having time. More than that, Patrick’s interviews about the show suggest he has no real interest in revisiting the role. Which is a shame, and I do wonder if there’s more to the story given how much he seemed to enjoy it at the time and his willingness to affectionately reference Terminator 2 in the past.

      Gish is grand. I’d rank her as the weakest of the four central actors, but I think that she’s largely ill-served by the scripts and never gets a chance to showcase her range. I’m not comfortable critiquing her performance based on what’s seen in the show. (She was also very good in Brotherhood, from what I remember, so I’m inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.)

      Reyes is the least developed of the four main characters. (Five, if you count Skinner.) However, the ninth season never makes it a priority to flesh Reyes out in the same way that the eighth season did with Doggett. Episodes like 4-D, Hellbound and Audrey Pauley are great, but it’s very hard to get a sense of who she is or what she’s about. (For my money, two of the best Reyes scenes are casually tossed off in John Doe, with her interrogation of a suspect and her attempts to reconnect with Doggett; Gish does great work in those scenes, but the show doesn’t give her that much to work with that frequently.)

  3. 4-d is fantastic.

  4. I don’t disagree that this is a strong episode, but there’s one aspect of it that bugs me, particularly coming after Daemonicus*: when did people stop asking the obvious questions? In this episode it’s “Why would Reyes shoot Doggett anyway?” The audience doesn’t need anyone to ask that question, of course, since we know she didn’t do it, and I suppose you could argue that the main characters know (or at least trust at first) that she didn’t and so wouldn’t need to ask it either. But it still seems jarring to have scenes explaining how she could or couldn’t have done it with no one asking why she would in the first place. Minor gripe though in an otherwise strong episode.

    *In which it bothered me the way Doggett was written: at the end of the episode he almost seems to delight in undercutting Reyes and Scully by proving that it was all just some twisted mind game, and he walks away as if he was right all along – without stopping for a moment to ask how, mind game or otherwise, the bad guy did it. And that’s when faced with overwhelming evidence that there was something very-not-normal going on. Writing Doggett as ignoring his own eyes and making out as though a guy puking up his own body weight in pink goo is just a clever trick just cheapens the character. Even early Scully would have admitted something was going on there.

    • Yep. I mean, every strong episode in the ninth season comes with a caveat that strength is relative. These episodes would be forgettable at best during the show’s stronger years.

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