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Recap / The X-Files S08 E17 "Empedocles"

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Season 8, Episode 17:

"I got to believe that I did everything I could to save him, to get him back safe, to not let him down."
Written by Greg Walker
Directed by Barry K. Thomas

"What if this is a thread of evil... connecting through time through men, through opportunity, connecting back to you. In India, in Africa, in Iran, in the Middle East, in the Far East. Most of the world, they take it as a given. They see evil in death the way other people see God in a rose."
Monica Reyes

Agent Monica Reyes enlists Mulder's help in a case to the X-Files: a series of killings that may be connected to the murder of Doggett's son years ago.


  • Battle Axe Nurse: The ER nurse is a no-nonsense kind of woman. She completely dismisses Mulder after she learns he's not Scully's husband and bars him from her hospital room. It's implied by a later comment when she catches Doggett in her room that she's had to remove Mulder more than once and is thoroughly annoyed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jeb Dukes is stopped and his niece saved from him by Doggett and Reyes, but after he passes away his evil seems to infect his sister, who attacks Reyes and has to be subdued. The episode ends with Doggett grimly watching her staring in catatonia at the ceiling while tied down to a hospital bed.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Agent Doggett's son Luke was kidnapped and murdered in the past, the culprit never found. It haunts Doggett to this day.
  • Dislikes the New Guy: Mulder really can't go two minutes in this episode without making derisive comments about Doggett or being snarky towards him. Scully tries to temper his ambivalence by telling him that Doggett is worth the effort. Mulder also tones down a bit and is sympathetic when he discovers that Doggett's son was murdered. By the end of the episode they have begun to understand one another a bit more.
  • Hand on Womb: Gender flipped example. After Scully's scare with a placental abruption, Mulder places his hand on her pregnant belly to feel the baby move. The look on his face is a priceless combination of wonder and awe.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: Scully gets one, with Mulder running alongside providing info to the attending medical professionals.
  • It Kind of Looks Like a Face: Discussed, snarkily.
    Mulder: I saw Elvis in a potato chip once.
  • The Killer in Me: Maybe, maybe not. Jeb Dukes claims that he was possessed by some evil presence that used him to commit those murders, and while he clearly believes that, it is ambiguous whether it really is supernatural or a rage-driven dissociative episode.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The events of the episode may have been due to people who had really awful occurrences in their lives breaking and taking out their rage at the world on other people, and the connection to Doggett's son may have just been a momentary hallucination brought on by grief (on Doggett's part) and exhaustion (on Reyes' part). Or they may have really been possessed by some sort of demonic presence that seeks out broken and traumatized people and drives them to murderous violence, and the momentary transfiguration of the bodies of its victims into ash may be its calling card for those with some supernatural awareness. The episode deliberately plays up the ambiguous nature of the events, and it is never really clear just what the truth is.
  • Mother Nature, Father Science: Played straight in this episode by Doggett and Reyes, with Reyes whole-heartedly believing the supernatural elements of the case and Doggett not wanting to believe.
  • Mundanger: Possibly, depending on which end of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane you fall on (which the episode deliberately plays into).
  • Occult Detective: Reyes jumps right into the X-Files kind of work with both feet, having sustained a supernatural event while working with Doggett years before regarding the kidnapping of his son. Her original line of work also includes consult to LEO's on satanism.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: As if Mulder and Doggett's working relationship isn't bad enough, Doggett is NOT happy when he finds out Mulder's looking into his son's murder, thinking Mulder is looking for dirt on him.

Doggett: It's over now.
Reyes: It's never over.