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The eighth season of The X-Files will always be remembered as the year of brave decisions. David Duchovny's increasing dissatisfaction with the role meant he'd only appear in a few episodes. The solution? Enter Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick) who basically stole the show within his first two minutes of screen time (and watch out for several Terminator 2 in-jokes too!). Scully (Gillian Anderson) switched roles to being the believer alongside Doggett's skeptic in a year that was more reliant on the background story arc than ever before. Her pregnancy remained at the foreground, while a more prominent Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) joined in a hunt for the abducted Mulder that drew upon the black oil, cloning, and bounty-hunting aspects of the convoluted alien conspiracy story. A distinct lack of guest stars or writers indicated maturity beyond the need for ratings stunts: dedicated fans were pleased to see sinister Krycek, the reliable Lone Gunmen, and the return of the show's very first abductee. The real strengths of the season came from new characters, including alternative female role model Special Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish), and some terrific standalone episodes. Investigations covered a man going backward in time, deaths aboard an oil rig, a contagion in the Boston subway tunnels, and creatures resembling bats and slugs. Agent Leyla Harrison (named after an X-Files fan who died of cancer) got to ask all the petty questions regular viewers want to know themselves. With season 9 promised to be the last, this year was a remarkable achievement so late in a show's life.

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FX2258403 X Files Season 8 DVD (2000) $39.98 $35.99