Mulder's disappearing act can only be read as last-minute contrivance. I'm assuming that there were lengthy negotiations with David Duchovny over the summer, but neither side could come to an agreement. Unfortunately, it leaves this episode with a bittersweet quality. Sure, The X-Files is back for a ninth season (which I guess will bring satisfaction to many), but there's this strange feeling generated here where Doggett and Reyes are positioned as the show's new leads, but Scully is still lingering around in the background. It's like the show is having its cake and eating it too, confident to look to the future but too scared to fully cut old ties.
There's also a weirdly soapy tone to this episode, notably with the arrival of Cary Elwes' Agent Follmer and his affair with Reyes. Mulder's absence is also being treated in a slightly unconventional way, not as something grand and conspiracy-leaden, but instead as something that could be all-together more human, like he just ran away from his responsibilities. Even if that doesn't make any sense for his character. But it only adds to that feeling that this is a story originating in contract disputes, and not so much because it's logical.
The super-soldier arc is actually pretty intriguing so far. It's a little monotonous and once again devolves into various scenes featuring people running around, but the Terminator vibe is a lot of fun, while Lucy Lawless is attractively robotic and sinister here in her guest spot. I'm not sure this show needed a ninth season, and they don't justify the show's continued existence as well as the Within/Without opener did last year, but it's casually entertaining nonetheless. C
Guest stars James Pickens, Jr. (Alvin Kersh); Lucy Lawless (Shannon McMahon); Nicholas Walker (Carl Wormus); Sheila Larken (Margaret Scully); Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers); Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike); Dean Haglund (Ringo Langly); Cary Elwes (Brad Follmer)
Writers Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz Director Kim Manners