Sunday, March 25, 2012

The X-Files: Patience (8.3)

With Doggett settling into his new role as an agent of the X-Files, it's natural that Patience is a traditional monster episode. As a standalone mystery, there's a lot to enjoy. The bat monster thing is one of the most unsettling antagonists in a while, and I liked the idea of it lying in wait for the perfect opportunity to exact revenge. But, generally, the script kind of dovetails down strange new roads as the story continues, eventually wrapping up with two eccentric guest characters and over-reliance on shady monster attacks in dark environments.

What undoubtedly saves the episode is the continued characterization. It's so much fun seeing Scully taking charge and being the character happy to come up with nutty explanations for the monster's motive. At the same time, there's also a strong element of melancholy to the whole thing, with Scully becoming rapidly more isolated from her FBI co-workers and similarly criticized by the local law enforcement in Idaho. She's not only having to become more like Mulder in order to keep his spirit alive, but she's also experiencing the same treatment that Mulder received when he was active.

Doggett, too, is an engaging new character. He's still a little unsure about extreme possibilities, but is willing to give Scully a chance. It's a decision that makes for such stronger television than introducing a character who is immediately dismissive of every one of Scully's suggestions.

In the monster story, there are some strong ideas floating around, but the pacing and repetitive quality of the script diminishes its power. What rescues Patience is the character work, the show closing a chapter on Mulder and eager to explore fresh new characters and interaction that doesn't feel at all tired. It's completely resuscitated this show. C+

Guest stars Bradford English (Detective Abbott); Gene Dynarski (Ernie Stefaniuk); Dan Leegant (Myron Stefaniuk); Jay Caputo (Bat Monster); Eve Brenner (Old Lady)
Writer Chris Carter Director Chris Carter

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