This Is Not Happening
With the absence of Mulder (David Duchovny) for almost all of this season, the eighth season of The X-Files is a jarring contrast to the others that have come before. The episodes are generally well written but the absence of Fox Mulder is one that leaves a gaping hole in the show. His replacement Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick) can’t reach the same lofty heights Mulder could but the reversed role of Scully (Gillian Anderson) as the believer and Doggett as the sceptic is one that manages just enough intrigue to keep the season watchable until the explosive finale.
The main over-arching story this time around sees the tight circle of people closest to Mulder desperately trying to find the agent after his disappearance. With Agent Doggett sceptical about the entire ordeal, there’s a very interesting dynamic this time around with Scully filling the boots of the believer for the first time in the show’s history. Its one that works surprisingly well but Agent Doggett isn’t given enough characterisation and fleshed out back story to make his presence feel like anything but a substitute for Mulder’s absence. Its not a deal breaker, with the episodes flowing a lot better than they did last year but the new dynamic does take some getting used to.
Speaking of the characters, its also worth noting here that the new ones introduced this year aren’t given nearly enough time to establish their personas. When you compare characters like the Syndicate members or even Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), there really is no comparison and its a shame. The scripts for the stand alone episodes are still good, although some of the episodes do again feel like filler. The pacing of the season is good though, with a clear arc increasing the tension and pacing as the season continues. With the plot around finding Agent Mulder coming to an explosive conclusion by the end of the series, its worth sticking around for the final 3 episodes alone.
Overall then, season 8 is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the new dynamic between Doggett and Scully is an interesting one but the chemistry feels broken and jarring without Mulder’s presence on the show. The writing is consistent this year though, with a clear upward spike in tension and resolving the story it created by the end which is a nice change of pace. It’ll certainly upset some die-hard fans of the show; it feels different to the mythological behemoth it once was but season 8 proves there is still life after Fox Mulder. While it might not be ideal, The X-Files still has enough life left to deliver a decent but not great, season of entertainment.
Verdict - 7.5/10