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The X-Files – Audrey Pauley (Review)

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

One of the surprising aspects of the ninth season is just how strong the episodes centring on Doggett and Reyes are.

True, there are not necessarily too many “all-time classic” episodes to be found across the length and breadth of the ninth season; that is arguably true of every season since the sixth. The strongest episodes of the ninth season tend to be those focusing on the two new lead characters actually doing their jobs and navigating the weird world around them. 4-D, John Doe, Hellbound and Audrey Pauley rank among the very best that the ninth season has to offer. The biggest problem with the ninth season is the difficulty that the show has maintaining that level of quality.

Into the void...

Into the void…

The ninth season never manages any real consistency. It never commits to one vision of the show or the other. While the stronger episodes suggest that The X-Files might be ready to move on past Mulder and Scully to embrace Doggett and Reyes, the show always returns to insisting that Mulder is still the most important character on the show despite David Duchnovny’s reluctance to return. Nothing Important Happened Today I featured David Duchovny’s stunt butt before Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick or Annabeth Gish. That is the show’s priority.

This becomes particularly troublesome in the second half of the season. Steven Maeda seems to have a great deal of luck in his ninth season writing assignment, tackling episodes that wind up taking on a larger symbolic importance. 4-D was the first episode to be both produced and broadcast after the events of 9/11, due to scheduling choices that pushed Hellbound later into the season. Although Nothing Important Happened Today I was broadcast nearly two months after the attacks, the production team were actually working on Dæmonicus when news broke.

"Woops. Sorry. Wrong wall."

“Woops. Sorry. Wrong wall.”

Audrey Pauley winds up being the first episode to be produced and broadcast after the cancellation of The X-Files had been announced. The public had been informed of the cancellation between the broadcast of John Doe and Hellbound. The production team had found out while working on Scary Monsters. Due to scheduling choices, Scary Monsters had been pushed back later into the season and Audrey Pauley was aired first. Although it is quite likely Maeda was working on Audrey Pauley long before the cancellation, it still echoes through the work.

Audrey Pauley plays into some of Maeda’s core themes, suggesting alternate and pocket realities that navigate the void between life and death. As with 4-D, Audrey Pauley is very much a post-9/11 episode of The X-Files. However, it is also very much a post-cancellation episode of The X-Files.

Now, where have I seen this before?

Now, where have I seen this before?

Doggett and Reyes are controversial characters. They were always going to be controversial characters. They were introduced by necessity, when it became clear that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were not going to commit to twenty-plus-episode seasons until the end of eternity. Both actors had given years of their lives to the show, and it made sense to begin thinking about retiring the characters. David Duchovny opted to leave first, refusing to sign on for all twenty-one episodes of the eighth season. Gillian Anderson planned to leave at the end of the ninth.

John Doggett had a surprisingly smooth introduction, with the conditions of David Duchnovny’s return in the eighth season facilitating an orderly transition between the two leads. Robert Patrick was introduced at the start of the eighth season, organically eased into a plot about the search for Mulder. Scully was allowed to be skeptical of Doggett, and the audience was allowed to become acclimatised to the character. Although Doggett first appeared in Within, the audience was not allowed into his head until Via Negativa. Scully only trusted him from Per Manum.

A little prick.

A little prick.

When David Duchovny did return for the final episodes at the end of the eighth season, it was possible to pass the baton from Mulder to Doggett. Mulder was initially presented as skeptical of Doggett in Three Words, but he came to gradually understand Doggett in Empedocles and even trust him in Vienen. The trust between the two characters built to the point where Mulder trusted Doggett to point a gun at his head and pull the trigger in Alone and where they could embark on their own joint adventures in Essence.

Monica Reyes’ introduction was bumpier. She was introduced as Doggett’s old friend in This is Not Happening, but she only appeared in four episodes across the season. Empedocles allowed Reyes to spar with Mulder and define her relationship with Doggett. Essence and Existence allowed Reyes a bit of time with Scully. However, the eighth season never really galvanised Reyes into a fully-formed character before promoting her to a series regular at the start of the ninth season. This problem was compounded by delaying her development in the ninth season.

"Hey, it's just like the eighth season!"

“Hey, it’s just like the eighth season!”

Even allowing for this, Doggett and Reyes were always going to struggle for acceptance, particularly in the wider context of a popular culture that had taken Mulder and Scully to heart. It seems highly unlikely that Catatonia were ever going to record a catchy song titled “Doggett and Reyes.” Fans seemed unlikely to turn “Robert Patrick, Why Don’t You Love Me?” into a minor hit, and not just because it didn’t rhyme. The two new characters were unlikely to enter the pop culture shorthand in the way that “Mulder” and “Scully” had.

Even before the cancellation news came through, it seemed like the ninth season would not commit to Doggett and Reyes. Although the duo were allowed to hold down a number of stand-alone episodes across the first half of the season, there was a palpable reluctance to let go of Mulder and Scully. Although Doggett was a former marine with service in the Gulf War, the ninth season only fleetingly tied that experience back to the genesis of the “super soldiers” in Nothing Important Happened Today II. Instead, there were prophecies about William and Mulder.

"I love everybody."

Answer: Robert Patrick has enough love for everybody.

There were loud proponents of Doggett and Reyes. Director Kim Manners was particularly vocal in his support of the new leads, with Annabeth Gish particularly glad of his interest:

“It was very exciting for me when Robert Patrick came on,” Manners said. “After being on the show for seven seasons, suddenly I’ve got rebirth, creatively, because I’ve got a new guy to play with. All new options. Then Annabeth came in. So for me, I’ve got a whole new reason to get out of bed in the morning.” And, as with the directors, Manners assisted the new lead actors in fitting into their roles. “He sort of grandfathered me in,” Gish said. “He was kind of my umbilical cord, pulling me in and welcoming me. He sat down with me, wanting to find out how I work, and also to communicate the way the show works. He was like my ‘sponsor.’”

Manners had also been quite candid about his discomfort in making Mulder such a vital part of the season, particularly when David Duchovny didn’t want to be around.

"Now, I'm not a big-city doctor..."

“Now, I’m not a big-city doctor…”

However, there was a sense that other voices within the production team were not entirely comfortable with the new characters of Doggett and Reyes. In March 2002, shortly after the cancellation was announced and shortly before Audrey Pauley aired, Chris Carter bluntly stated:

“The series was always about Mulder and Scully and their unique partnership, if you will, from the very moment I thought of the idea for the show,” says Carter. “I wanted this to be the ideal friendship, partnership, romance, if you will – in the literary sense of the word.”

Carter made these comments while the show was still on the air, while David Duchovny was still absent and while Gillian Anderson was still very much in the background. Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish were the functional leads of the show, but the executive producer was arguing that the show was never about them.

Doggett daze...

Doggett daze…

The cancellation of The X-Files seemed to seal their fate. Doggett and Reyes were now be destined to be a footnote in the history of the show. When Doggett and Reyes came up in conversation, it would inevitably be in the context of the “twilight years” of the show. The most cynical commentators might even deem Doggett and Reyes responsible for the cancellation of the show, suggesting that the characters were a failed experiment that misunderstood the core of The X-Files. With the end of the show approaching, it seemed Doggett and Reyes would be consigned to limbo.

After all, Doggett and Reyes are largely sidelined during the final stretch of the ninth season. As much as the final episodes of The X-Files are dedicated to wrapping up loose threads, the two lead characters find themselves increasingly marginalised. Release offers a hazy and half-hearted attempt to resolve the murder of Luke Doggett, but clumsily tries to close Brad Follmer’s character arc in an effort to tidy away as much of Doggett and Reyes’ back story as possible.

They certainly got a rough reception...

They certainly got a rough reception…

Across the final third of the ninth season, Doggett and Reyes are frequently reduced to witnesses caught up in stories that belong to other characters. Mulder and Scully dominate episodes like William and The Truth, but Jump the Shark even serves to afford the Lone Gunmen more closure than the ninth season could be bothered to serve to the characters who are actually working in the eponymous department. The ninth season did not even have to end before the show forgot about Doggett and Reyes.

It should be noted that Mulder and Scully continued to dominate The X-Files long after the show came to a conclusion. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were constantly and repeatedly asked about the possibilities of feature films and television revivals. When Frank Spotnitz penned a few issues of the Wildstorm comic, it was focused on an ambiguous “golden age” in which Mulder and Scully worked The X-Files. When Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz finally managed to produce a feature film in 2008, Doggett and Reyes were entirely absent.

Broken reflection...

Broken reflection…

Indeed, the only allusion to towards Doggett and Reyes in The X-Files: I Want to Believe is buried in the special features of the DVD. And entry in The Dakota Whitney Files notes of the department’s history:

Given that the X-files have long been shut down, and that the last two agents assigned to them, John Doggett and Monica Reyes, are currently engaged in high priority counter-terrorist operations, I strongly recommend that we determine the whereabouts of Agent Fox Mulder and bring him in as an unofficial consultant to the investigation.

There is, of course, little real in-story reason why Whitney could not contact Doggett and Reyes. They are certainly more accessible (and accountable) to the Bureau than Mulder or Scully. They are just not as popular.

Just going outside and may be some time...

Just going outside and may be some time…

Asked about the lack of any cameo or supporting role for Doggett and Reyes in I Want to Believe, Frank Spotnitz was quite candid about the way that the writing team approached the possibility:

Chris Carter and I made the decision not to include them (or any other characters from the series, except for Skinner) in IWTB because it would inevitably have complicated the “stand-alone” nature of the story.  One could argue that we could have given them a brief cameo, but we didn’t think that would honor the characters or the actors.  I can’t make any promises about whether they’ll be in another movie if one gets made, but I will say it would please me very much.

Of course, the mere presence of Skinner arguably complicated the “stand-alone” nature of the story. However, Skinner is a character anchored in the “golden age” of The X-Files. Doggett and Reyes are not.

"Quit dumpin' your crap in our dimension..."

“Quit dumpin’ your crap in our dimension…”

Subsequent attempts to revive The X-Files have also tended to marginalise and downplay the roles of Doggett and Reyes. When he worked with Chris Carter on The X-Files: Season Ten, writer Joe Harris centred the story on Mulder and Scully while consciously sidelining Doggett and Reyes to make room for clones of popular past characters like the Cigarette-Smoking Man or Alex Krycek. Indeed, Frank Black and the Lone Gunmen played a more significant role in IDW’s reinvigoration of Ten Thirteen properties.

Robert Patrick will not be returning for the revival series. “I’m content and happy and I don’t really see a reason to go and revisit that show,” he explained of his decision not to come back. Annabeth Gish will be returning for the revival, appearing in a single episode. Shots of the basement office abandoned and neglected, of the “I Want to Believe” poster discarded, suggest that Doggett and Reyes have not been the most stalwart guardians of the legacy left behind by Mulder and Scully.

"So... about season ten."

“So… about season ten.”

Notably, the publicity around the relaunch is downplaying the final seasons of the show. Reyes does not appear on posters with Mulder and Scully, but the Cigarette-Smoking Man and Skinner do. Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose are new second-generation agents. The trailers consciously downplay Mulder’s absence from the show’s final seasons. “In 2002, our investigations ceased,” Mulder states, acknowledging the show’s cancellation. “But my personal obsession did not.”

All of this makes perfect sense. To the public at large, Mulder and Scully pretty much are The X-Files. A lot of the cultural cache associated with The X-Files is anchored in the performances of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. It is perfectly logical that any attempt to reestablish The X-Files as a brand – whether as a film, a comic book, a television show – should be centred on Mulder and Scully. Not to mention other iconic characters associated with the show at its peak, like the Cigarette-Smoking Man and the Lone Gunmen.

A shocking response...

A shocking response…

These are the realities of the situation. It was always suggested that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were essential to any attempt to revive the show. However, it does have the effect of erasing and undercutting a lot of the final two seasons of the show, pretending that those years did not happen or that they played out differently. It is something which fans and audiences are complicit, because it allows for the most iconic and most compelling possible resurrection of the show.

(It also adds a layer of irony to the show’s own internal continuity. So much of The X-Files is fixated upon the idea of memory and history, that even the most traumatic memories must be confronted and acknowledged. Over the show’s first seven seasons, Mulder and Scully unearthed a wide range of inconvenient truths that questioned many of the historical narratives that underpinned the United States in the twentieth century. In a way, the marginalisation of Doggett and Reyes suggests that the show is altering and revising its own internal memory.)

Damn fine cup of coffee...

Damn fine cup of coffee…

In some ways, Audrey Pauley seems to foreshadow this fate. After a shocking accident, Reyes finds herself in a coma. She is trapped in a hauntingly empty (and seemingly incomplete) hospital with a couple of other patients. One of those patients, Stephen Murdoch, speculates that this may be the afterlife. “I didn’t say this was heaven,” he confesses to Reyes. “For all I know, it’s… hell. I don’t know anything for sure. Maybe this place is a way station; to what comes next.” In other words, Reyes finds herself trapped in limbo, perhaps a taste of things to come.

Then again, this isn’t a surprise. Doggett and Reyes seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in hospital beds on the cusp of death. Doggett was paralysed in 4-D, with Reyes ultimately deciding to assist him in his suicide. Doggett was the victim of a hit and run in Provenance, spending most of Providence in a coma. Coupled with Doggett’s amnesia in John Doe, it seems like the ninth season affords Doggett and Reyes precious little time on their feet and on the game.

Flowers for Audrey.

Flowers for Audrey.

This is somewhat appropriate. After all, the ninth season of The X-Files was not particularly healthy. The ratings dropped significantly between Existence and Nothing Important Happened Today I, suggesting that audiences had not tuned out in response to the ninth season’s drop in quality. Carter acknowledged this drop:

“Your audience over that time changes, the whole demographic changes. People’s lives change. I don’t know what happened to that audience, but only a portion of them came back this year. 

“My sense is they felt something had been completed.”

There is a sense that the show itself was not healthy, and that perhaps this sharp decline was reflected in the health of Doggett and Reyes across the ninth season. Doggett and Reyes seemed to be constantly bed-ridden and beaten-down, maybe as an acknowledgement of how the show itself felt as the season ground on.

"What's up, doc?"

“What’s up, doc?”

Indeed, Reyes’ near-death experience allows Scully and Doggett to confront issues tied to mortality, perhaps mirroring and acknowledging the sentiments among the production team and the fans. “It’s true, John,” Scully tries to convince Doggett. “She’s gone.” Scully could just as easily be talking about The X-Files itself. Doggett refuses to give up hope. “I don’t accept that,” he responds. “Look at her breathing. Her heart’s still beating. There’s got to be hope.”

Indeed, this could be read as a particularly cynical commentary on the final few seasons of The X-Files. One of the recurring fears of the seventh and eighth seasons was the idea that The X-Files might lumber on past its sell-by date. The seventh season was populated with images of undeath, suggesting a monster running on reflex and impulse with all of the soul stripped away. DeadAlive suggested that the worst thing that the production team could do would be to keep the show on life support as it lay dying. Audrey Pauley plays with that idea, trapping Reyes in undeath.

Things come to a head...

Things come to a head…

Reyes finds herself in a distinctly unreal world. The ninth season is fixated upon the sense of reality as a fragile construct, echoing similar themes in the seventh season filtered through the trauma of 9/11. Reyes quickly deduces that she is not in a real hospital, but instead a facsimile of a hospital. “This place looks pretty complete at first glance but really it’s not,” she observes. “There’s so much missing. Words, details. It’s like a set. A movie set but like it was built by someone who couldn’t quite grasp what it was they were recreating.”

Reyes suggests that she is trapped on an incomplete set in a world that is not fully formed, perhaps a meditation upon the existential crisis facing the character. The ninth season is repeatedly fascinated by the idea of television nestled within the reality of the show which is itself nestled within television. Reyes’ reality has always been a television set, but the ninth season suggests that walls of reality are becoming little more than veils, that the characters are trapped within webs of reality relative to one another.

Time out.

Time out.

There are dozens of examples throughout the season; the pocket universe created by Erwin Timothy Lukesh in 4-D, reality filtered through surveillance footage in Trust No 1, the footage shot by Winky in Lord of the Flies, the self-aware title of Jump the Shark or the memory-through-television of Sunshine Days. This is to say nothing of the way that the Mexico featured in John Doe is modelled more on television and cinema than any real location, or the ninth season’s willingness to play with the motto at the end of the opening credits.

Even the premise of Audrey Pauley alludes to televisual reality beyond the reference to standing sets. It is eventually revealed that Reyes is trapped inside a hospital inside the imagination of a supporting character based on a toy model of the hospital. This would seem to be a shout-out to “the Tommy Westphall hypothesis.” The theory, perhaps codified by Dwayne McDuffie in January 2002, suggested that all of television took place in the head of an autistic child staring at a snowglobe with copy of the hospital from St. Elsewhere in it. Audrey Pauley makes it recursive.

The corridors of power...

The corridors of power…

Audrey Pauley seems to draw attention to its meditations upon Reyes as a character trapped in a television show. She becomes aware of the ways in which a set differs from reality, whether due to production constraints or lack of expertise on the part of staff. When Reyes opens the door to confront the void outside the hospital, she seems to be staring into her own future. Mulder and Scully will survive the cancellation, because they are iconic and popular. Doggett might scrape by. Reyes has no grounding, nothing to really anchor her beyond this troubled season.

Still, there is hope. Reyes survives through the intervention of the eponymous character, who keeps her consciousness alive as her body is reduced to a system of nerve impulses and reflexive responses. Audrey is presented a minor player in the grand scheme of the hospital. She is not a doctor; she is not a nurse. “I can’t do anything,” she confesses to Doggett. “I only deliver the flowers is all I do. I can’t help.” Of course, Audrey undersells herself. She can do something. She can imagine.

The write stuff...

The write stuff…

The hospital in which Reyes finds herself trapped is suggested to be a product of Audrey’s imagination, a facsimile of the hospital based upon a model kept in the basement. It is a reproduction of a reproduction, but it is the result of Audrey’s inner life and her desire to create. “I like to visit it,” she explains. “I sort of go inside my head.” Once Reyes figures this out, she realises that Audrey is the key to her survival. Audrey’s power to create can save her. “This place is all you,” Reyes states. “And that means you can make the rules work any damn way that you want them to.”

Reyes lives on inside Audrey’s imagination. In its own way, Audrey Pauley is a much more sentimental ode to fan ownership than Scary Monsters could ever be. Audrey is a model-maker, but she is a stand-in for every fan artist or fan writer who ever used Doggett or Reyes (or Mulder or Scully) in any of her stories. Audrey’s ability to imagine Reyes, and to imagine a mystery around Reyes, is what ultimately keeps Reyes alive. Despite the horrific accident, despite the official metrics that suggest she is dead, Reyes lives on in Audrey’s imagination.

A cloudy future...

A cloudy future…

The X-Files had generally encouraged its fanbase. While the writers could not read fan fiction for legal reasons, and never engaged with it directly, the production team were supportive and glad of that engagement. Carter has mused:

Thank goodness for that! You know, I have to say, I work so hard to do what we do. While I’m flattered by that stuff and amused by it, I really try to stay away from anything that might influence what it is that I’m doing.

The fans would be vitally important to keeping the show alive as cancellation loomed, and especially important in maintaining the legacy of those characters who would otherwise find themselves consigned to limbo.

Reyes of hope...

Reyes of hope…

As much as Audrey Pauley engages with the looming cancellation of the show and seems to meditate on what will happen afterwards for characters like Doggett and Reyes, it is also rooted in its own cultural moment. Like any American popular culture produced in the early years of the twenty-first century, The X-Files cannot escape the gravity exerted by 9/11. For all the storytelling problems with the mythology in the ninth season, episodes like Trust No 1, Provenance, Providence and The Truth are all influenced and overshadowed by contemporary events.

However, 9/11 had an impact even outside the mythology. Those horrors rippled through into the standalone episodes of the season. In some ways, the ninth season’s fascination with fragile nature of reality could be read as a response to those attacks. The terrorist attacks seemed to shatter so many of the assumptions that everybody took for granted. The only frame of reference for those attacks seemed to come from the unreal, from blockbuster movies and disaster cinema. Reality seemed to shatter.

"Hey, don't be sad. I'll see you in the film, right?"

“Hey, don’t be sad. I’ll see you in the film, right?”

The image of Reyes trapped in an official environment, locked away from the outside world, facing the void and awaiting death, reflects some of the more harrowing depictions of those killed in the attacks. As Rachel Cusk observed a few days after the attacks:

Down in the rubble of the World Trade Centre, ghostly voices, as one rescue worker put it, were drifting up into the world above. People trapped in air pockets in the wreckage were calling the rescue services. About these desperate conversations little is known. These are the last words we don’t want to hear, or think we don’t: the words of people who are almost certainly doomed, but who retain some hope that they will continue to live. This is death being faced in real time, being lived. It would perhaps be better not to know that there were people alive in there, and yet we do know: along with our heroism and our humour, our ability to love and to accept, these communications from limbo delineate too our impotence and our capacity to suffer.

It seems odd that this space between life and death about which we have always known so little has been wired up, switched on, electronically illuminated.

The attack upon the World Trade Centre left countless people trapped within their offices, unable to escape. John McLoughlin and William Jimeno were buried alive in the rubble for more than thirteen hours; they were lucky to survive. More than two hundred people trapped in the North Tower jumped to their death.



The events of 9/11 were haunting. In a very real way, the ghosts of those killed in the attacks lingered on. Technology made death in the twenty-first century a lot more ambiguous. In past decades, the dead would live on in photographs and home movies captured at family events or on happier occasions. However, advances in communications technology meant that many of the victims of the attack were able to leave a more lasting impression. Voice mails documented the horrors as they happened, as if reaching out from beyond the grave.

Given the difficulties that authorities would have identifying individual remains within the rubble of the World Trade Centre, it was a very ghastly death. Death was no longer clear and delineated. There were no longer rigid boundaries. Loved ones could hear phone messages from relatives who had died hours earlier, denied the comfort of a body to bury. In its own way, Audrey Pauley touches on this more nebulous and hazily-defined concept of twenty-first century death.

He's not there...

He’s not there…

Audrey Pauley never bothers to offer an excuse or a justification for the murders committed by Doctor Jack Preijers. The audience is denied the comfort of knowing why Doctor Preijers murdered Barreiro or Murdoch, or why he tried to murder Reyes. There is no motive rant to explain his actions, no back story recounted to clarify his psychology. Audrey Pauley is deliberately hazy on the mechanics of what is going on. Doctor Preijers is only caught because Doggett starts asking questions. How many other people has Doctor Preijers killed?

This could be described as contrivance. In order for the plot of Audrey Pauley to work, Reyes has to get hit by a car and head to that hospital where Audrey keeps her alive long enough for Doggett to figure out that Doctor Preijers is murdering patients. Even the connection between Audrey’s imaginary hospital and Doctor Preijer’s killing spree is left ambiguous; does the imaginary hospital only house the victims of Doctor Preijer’s poisoning, or would it welcome any patient on the cusp of brain death?

Injecting a little drama...

Injecting a little drama…

However, this feels entirely in keeping with the general tone of post-9/11 horror. As Kevin J. Wetmore argues in Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema, the randomness is scary of itself:

Death is random in post-9/11 horror – the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the cliché goes. Unlike in eighties slasher horror, for example, where engaging in negative behaviour such as drinking, doing drugs, having premarital sex are often forerunners to being killed by the killer(s); in post-9/11 horror death is random and unrelated to one’s behaviour.

Audrey Pauley even seems to nod towards this when Doggett confesses that Reyes had a beer, only for Scully to explain that the driver who hit her had fifteen. It is a random and weird universe.

There's just a mild reality storm outside.

There’s just a mild reality storm outside.

In the past, it seemed like Mulder and Scully had to actively seek out the paranormal. The universe was a wild place, but the basic structure of the show imposed order upon it. During the nineties, Mulder and Scully would typically draw a case and get involved in the investigation through official channels. During the ninth season, Doggett and Scully seem to get caught up in the paranormal through increasingly random events. Episodes like 4-D , John Doe and Audrey Pauley are not tied to case-files or slideshows. They are the result of random things happening.

Audrey Pauley is one of the most interesting and compelling episodes of the ninth season, and a nice reminder of just how well the show could work when it was willing to focus on Doggett and Reyes. Sadly, the production did not feel the same way.

4 Responses

  1. Rewatching this – possibly only the second time I’d seen the episode, third at most – I was struck by two things: not remembering having seen it at all, and the strange dislocation of seeing one of my favourite guest stars from one of my favourite episodes returning to the series to play a similar role but not as the same character. I know it’s only very involved fans who would have seen Tracey Ellis playing Audrey Pauley and recognised her as Lucy Householder from Oubliette, but since I had no recall of the episode I was caught out at the end that she wasn’t revealed as somehow being the same person, since the two characters are not all that dissimilar.

    It’s more of an issue here for me than it was with Terry O’Quinn in Trust No 1 (although even that threw me for a moment) because at least he’s playing a sufficiently different role in that episode than he did in the movie. Whereas Tracey Ellis, however good she is, seems just to be playing a variation on a theme on her return.

    • You’re quite right. I wonder if it’s intentional, given the recursive theme of the episode (and season) as a whole. This is a riff on St. Elsewhere, after all.

      • I suppose it may just have been an indulgence on the part of the production team, bringing back one of their favourite guest stars for a similar role in the last season. Still, my fan hear cries a bit that no connection was made. (I even assumed they made sure Scully never saw her so that the big revelation could come right at the end!)

  2. It’s unfortunate Reyes and Doggett were sidelined. Shows like Star Trek indicate that, even with shows that have iconic characters, it’s possible to introduce new casts that can work just as well. It might take a while to sink in, but it’s doable. R&D seemed to have the potential to make something compelling out of the X-Files, and were more distinctive, at least potentially, than the rather generic replacement agents in the revival mini-series. But, it was determined that this was really the Mulder and Scully show. The entire concept of the show could have changed, and that could’ve worked so long as the leads were the same.

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