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Recap / The X-Files S08 E11 "The Gift"

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Season 8, Episode 11:

The Gift
"I'm just trying to find the truth."
Written by Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Kim Manners

"Three shots were fired in a house where Mulder investigated a case last May. He never filed a report on the case or the discharge of his weapon. Do you know any reason why?"
John Doggett

Following up one of Mulder's old cases in the hoping of learning what happened to him, Doggett discovers a town hiding a creature (Jordan Marder) that can eat illness.


  • Back from the Dead: Doggett gets killed by the corrupt sheriff and evil townsfolk to keep the soul eater. The soul eater then digs him up and consumes his mortal wounds to kill himself saving Doggett.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Agent Doggett is killed by the townspeople but resurrected by the soul eater, in exchange for his own life, ending his constant torment at last. Doggett is unable to bring the truth to light about the suffering the town inflicted on the soul eater, bringing them to justice, without also implicating Scully, allowing them to get away with their crimes. And Doggett now has more insight into Mulder's mind and the kind of person he is.
  • Blessed with Suck: The soul eater can cure any disease, but in the process takes it into himself to suffer for whoever he cures.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Mulder is unable to go through with inflicting upon the soul eater the agony of his own illness, and leaves the town. A week before his abduction, knowing what the town was doing to him, Mulder drove back to the town to perform a Mercy Kill on the suffering soul eater.
  • Empathic Healer: The soul eater can consume conditions to cure them from people in exchange for being afflicted with them himself. This includes going as far as to cure death in exchange for dying himself.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Ultimately Doggett and Skinner are unable to bring the truth about this case to light, without potentially endangering Scully's career.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Doggett pulls one trying to save the soul eater from the townspeople, and the soul eater returns it in kind by bringing the agent back from the dead in exchange for his own life.
  • Imagine Spot: At the end Doggett imagines Mulder in the office standing before his desk looking at him, after coming closer to understanding the man he is searching for.
  • In the Back: When Doggett refuses to give up the soul eater to the police, they shoot him with a shotgun while his back is turned.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: The townspeople always refer to the soul eater as an 'it' to keep from feeling any guilt about what they are doing, where Doggett in response defiantly refers to him as a man.
  • Karma Houdini: The entire town gets away with torturing the soul eater for years because Doggett can't write a report without also implicating Scully in the process. The only comeuppance they get is that they can no longer receive the soul eater's healing.
  • Mercy Kill: What Mulder tried to do to the soul eater seeing his immense pain, what the town was doing to him. He managed to survive though and recover. Ultimately, the being killed himself by taking away Doggett's death and freed himself from the evil townsfolk.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The town has been torturing a soul eater for years, forcing him to cure their sicknesses, leaving him in constant agony from all the illnesses he absorbed. Even willing to resort to murder of an FBI Agent to keep their secret.
  • Tragic Monster: The soul eater is a grotesque but very pitiable figure. He has the ability to eat the unhealthy organ of any human and cure it. However, he consumes the disease itself and is in constant pain. Because of this Mulder is unable to let him take his own illness, and later comes back to Mercy Kill him.
  • Wham Line: Doggett finally puts together why Mulder chose to become involved in the soul eater case.
    "Mulder came to see you last year. Not to save Marie Hangemuhl. To save himself."
  • Wham Shot: The Cold Open features a mysterious man shooting something inside a house, while his face is always obscured by the setting or the camera. When he gets back into his car, the camera pans up... and it turns out to be Mulder.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Mulder could have had the soul eater use his power to cure him of his alien related disease, but chooses not to, to spare him from further agony.
  • Written-In Absence: The episode was written as Doggett and Mulder-centric, with Scully hardly appearing (and said appearance is only in flashback stock-footage), to give Gillian Anderson time off to visit her family.

"You and I both know what happened out there, Agent Doggett. No one else needs to."