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The X-Files: Alone

Case: An elderly man is killed by a mysterious reptilian creature.

Destination: Ellicott, New York.

In this episode, Doggett meets an X-Files fan — a young FBI agent who has a deep interest in the X-Files, and in Mulder and Scully, and who has been assigned as his new partner while Scully is on maternity leave.

I'm never sure quite how I feel about Leyla Harrison. Generally speaking, I tend to enjoy it when shows do shout-outs to the fans and feature 'fan' characters in an episode. Supernatural is particularly good at this but other shows have done it too. Harrison is an odd example, though, because the character is supposed to be working roughly the same job as her heroes — OK, previously she was in Accounting, but she's legitimately assigned to the X-Files as an FBI agent. For me, that makes her obsessive love for her predecessors a tiny bit strange.

Her backstory also makes her decision to leave at the end of the episode, as a result of the traumatic experience she just went through, a bit odd too. She joined the FBI, presumably wanting to investigate crimes, and specifically requested the X-Files, knowing full well how dangerous they tend to be. Granted, it's possible she wasn't prepared for the reality of the situation, but you might have expected her to try more than one case before leaving, and it does feel rather like the real reason she left was because she was a one-shot character, not intended to be in any more episodes.

Still, the impulse behind Leyla Harrison's creation is nice. She was created and named in memory of an X-Files fan and fan-fiction writer who had passed away from skin cancer not long before and she is obviously intended as a tribute to the fandom in general. At this stage in the show's history, it's nice to see them acknowledging the passion of their fans in this way, and the numerous shout-outs to beloved episodes of long gone days (Tooms!) are very welcome.

Meanwhile, this is a good episode for one of my favourite platonic relationships on the show, Scully and Doggett. I love Scully and Doggett's relationship, and very much enjoyed seeing her open expression of how grateful she is to him and how well they work together. I also really enjoyed seeing how conflicted Scully was feeling about going on maternity leave, an issue many women have to deal with, albeit usually without the possibility of monsters showing up in the workplace. Scully doesn't seem entirely sure whether she's coming back or not, which is also a very real dilemma facing women with demanding jobs like hers. And then she leaves, and poor Doggett looks utterly lost, standing alone in Mulder's basement office in front of the 'I Want to Believe' sign, lacking belief, a desire to believe or even a partner with whom to face the darkness.

Other thoughts

 - I do like that this is a Monster of the Week episode featuring Mulder, Scully and Doggett. Mulder and Scully will always be The X-Files to me but I love Doggett so I do love getting the chance to see all three of them working a case here, even if neither Mulder nor Scully is supposed to be working at all.

 - Scully trying to claim that the thing that rose out of the ice in Antarctica might not have been a spaceship is hilarious.

 - Poor Doggett, looking in on Mulder and Scully. Someone give the man a hug.

 - Mulder and Scully having to come to the rescue of their new counterparts is kinda nice, though I feel bad for Doggett and Harrison, who seem to be perfectly capable agents in their own right.

 - Harrison was in Accounting and used to process Mulder and Scully's travel expenses. That must have been quite a job!

 - Queequag! (Scully finds his tag in a drawer). Most upsetting death over the course of the series, bar none.


Scully (to Doggett): I wouldn't be here without you.

Harrison: You know what that could be? It could be bile!

Harrison: When you went to Antarctica to save Agent Scully from being taken by that spaceship and you ran out of gas in your Sno-Cat. How did you get back?

Final analysis: A bit odd in a way, but rather sweet. Three out of four shout-outs to beloved X-Files episodes of yore.

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.

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