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The X-Files – This is Not Happening (Review)

This October/November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the eighth season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen.

The eighth season of The X-Files is remarkable in a number of ways.

It accomplishes a lot of things, and does them in a very logical and linear way. The departure of David Duchovny at the end of the seventh season set an agenda for the season ahead, and gave the production team a very clear set of goals. The eighth season required more discipline and planning than any of the previous seven seasons, with less room for improvisation or error. If Chris Carter and his team were to succeed at bringing the eighth season to life, it would require even more care and discipline than the show usually required.

"Nooooo!"

“Nooooo!”

One of the least discussed aspects of the eighth season is the care that the production team took to structure it. The eighth season of The X-Files is the most meticulously and carefully structured season of The X-Files, clearly adhering to an internal three act structure. The first seven or eight episodes (Within to Via Negativa or Per Manum) are all set-up. The next five (Surekill to Medusa) explored that new set-up. The final eight (This is Not Happening to Existence) closed out the plots and threads of the season, leaving the show in a very different place.

The decision to shift Per Manum around in the broadcast order changes things slightly, but there is still a sense that the eighth season was entering its end game in late February 2001. Positioned at the start of the season’s third act, This is Not Happening offers perhaps the bleakest cliffhanger and puts our heroes at their lowest possible point. Adhering to the classic three-act structure, This is Not Happening serves as the emotional climax of the season. With a five week gap between the broadcast of This is Not Happening and DeadAlive, this is one hell of a cliffhanger.

"Have you seen this devilishly handsome man?"

“Have you seen this devilishly handsome man?”

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