David Duchovny …. Fox Mulder
Gillian Anderson …. Dana Scully
Robert Patrick …. John Doggett
Mitch Pileggi …. Walter Skinner
William B. Davis …. Cigarette Smoking Man/CGB Spender
James Pickens Jr. …. FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh
Nicholas Lea …. Alex Krycek
Jeff Gulka …. Gibson Andrew Praise
Chris Owens …. FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Spender
Annabeth Gish …. Monica Reyes
Neal McDonough …. Undercover FBI Agent
Terry O’Quinn …. Shadow Man
Cary Elwes …. FBI Assistant Director Brad Follmer
Lucy Lawless …. Shannon McMahon
Adam Baldwin …. Knowle Rohrer
There’s a lot of controversy when it comes to the last two seasons of The X-Files. At the end of season 7, the series’ star, David Duchovny, left the show. Duchovny’s character, Fox Mulder, was the focal point of the show as he crusaded to expose the plot that was responsible for his sister’s alien abduction. Not only that, everything pertaining to the alien conspiracy seemed to actually be wrapped up at the end of the season, giving to the show little direction.
The decision to carry on without Fox Mulder was not necessarily a popular one with the fans of the show, but it turns out that it may have been the right one. Previous to season 8, the series’ mythology was one of the densest of any TV series ever produced. While the show still worked due to the work of stars Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, the series could be really hard to follow at times. On top of that, seven seasons is a long time to watch a show that asked more questions than it answered.
With the beginning of season 8, despite controversy, the show seemed to be invigorated. The addition of Robert Patrick’s Special Agent John Doggett as well as a simpler, more character driven storyline helped keep the show at a high level for the last two seasons it was on the air. The episodes featured on this DVD set include all the mythology episodes from the last two seasons.
The storyline for the episodes is basically this, following the failed takeover of the planet by the alien conspirators and the Syndicate; Super Soldiers have been appearing and assuming control of people in government. Until the final episode, it is unclear whether the Super Soldiers are alien replicants or part of a government program to create an invincible army.
Complicating things further is the Agent Scully’s unborn baby, which may or may not be a sort of Messiah for the aliens. Over and over, Scully and Doggett must protect the baby from a new rogues gallery of villains from the Super Soldiers themselves, to a UFO cult, to a crazed FBI agent. Each of these groups is relentless in their pursuit of the baby which makes for one thrilling episode after another.
One of the best of these episodes is one entitled Essence in which a Super Soldier named Billy Miles kills two research scientists and then plans on killing Scully and her child. The episode is supremely entertaining and action packed with Agents Mulder, Scully, and Doggett doing what they can to stop Billy’s hunt. Series mainstays FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and Nicholas Lea’s Alex Krycek are also integral parts of the episode and cement Essence as great viewing.
In the next episode, Existence, the heroes are in the midst of a huge chase again as Billy Miles is resurrected and some of Doggett’s associates turn out to be Super Soldiers themselves. As Scully goes into labor, Mulder, Doggett, and Skinner fight for their lives against their foes throughout the headquarters of the F.B.I. The episode is most notable for the death of one of the series’ most important villains.
These episodes helped immensely by a slew of new cast members and guest stars. Most importantly Robert Patrick’s John Doggett becomes a permanent member of the show. Doggett’s a great character that completely breaks the shadow of Mulder and Scully. Doggett’s a standup guy that may be a skeptic, but can completely be counted on in a crisis.
A great episode featuring Doggett is entitled Vienen where he’s actually matched up with Mulder the entire episode. The two are stranded on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico with an entire crew that have become victims to X-Files fans’ favorite symbiotic entity, the Black Oil. The two actually work great together and it’s too bad the two aren’t in more episodes together.
Another great addition to the cast was Annabeth Gish’s Special Agent Monica Reyes. With Scully being either pregnant or on the run protecting her baby for virtually the entire run of these episodes, it’s great the producers added another strong female lead. Gish has great chemistry with all the cast and holds her own against many of the series’ regulars.
These last two seasons were some of the best for guest stars including Lucy Lawless, Adam Baldwin, Cary Elwes, and Terry O’Quinn. Band of Brothers veteran Neal McDonough has guest appearances in two great episodes entitled Provenance and Providence in each he plays an undercover FBI Agent trying to kill Scully’s child before a UFO cult can get to it.
X-Files has a surprisingly quiet ending in the series’ final episode, The Truth, but this DVD set is chocked full of action packed episodes. By taking less emphasis on the various conspiracies of the series and focusing closer on the characters, the episodes here represent some of the best of the series. The last two seasons of The X-Files are vastly underrated and the episode in Super Soldiers are a testament to that.
As with the rest of these sets, the show looks great. Each episode is presented Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The picture is crystal clear and actually looks better than its original broadcast.
The soundtrack is also excellent, bringing out Mark Snow’s atmospheric scores. The track is once again presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Sound.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentaries on episodes Vienen, DeadAlive Threads of Mythology – Super Soldiers Featurette.
DeadAlive – Audio Commentary with Producer, Writer Frank Spotnitz: This is a decent commentary track. The info keeps coming with every scene and Spotnitz has plenty of good anecdotes. Spotnitz loves how the episode totally plays with the audience’s emotions during filming as a major character dies, only to be miraculously resurrected.
Vienen – Audio Commentary with Director Rod Hardy: This commentary much more laid back. Hardy talks about how difficult it was filming on an oil rig. Much of the fire effects toward the end of the episode had to be inserted digitally as having open fires on an active oil rig isn’t exactly a great idea. Hardy also speaks very well of the two male leads in this episode as they work very well together.
Threads of Mythology – Super Soldiers Featurette: This 30 minute documentary covers the last two seasons’ storylines and how the series’ direction really changed. All of the series regulars and creators do a good job at defending the decision to proceed, when many wanted to end the show. These documentaries have been a great resource in the past for clearing up any confusing elements in the storylines and this one is no exception.