July 23, 2016

The X-Files 3.12, War of the Coprophages: La Cucaracha

Posted in TV tagged at 1:35 pm by Jenn

I love this shot

I love this shot

Summary: In Miller’s Grove, Massachusetts, a man is waxing poetic about cockroaches. To sum up, there are a bunch of them in the world, and spectacular as far as evolution is concerned. They only respond to environmental stimuli and are incapable of thinking. The man is an exterminator, which means he only deals with cockroaches at the end of their evolutionary cycle. He tells a homeowner that he uses a new pesticide that works like a fungus, infecting other cockroaches to kill more than just the ones that ingest it. One roach proves hard to kill, and the exterminator’s the one who ends up dead, covered in roaches.

Mulder’s out gazing at the stars from his car when Scully calls him. He’s in Massachusetts for the weekend while his apartment is fumigated. Scully cleans her gun while Mulder talks about looking up at the sky and feeling like you’re being watched by something up there. Scully finds it hard to believe in intelligent alien life; it’s anti-Darwinian. “Scully, what are you wearing?” Mulder asks so she’ll lighten up. She advises him not to look too hard at the universe – he might not like what he finds. He notes that Charlton Heston said that in Planet of the Apes.

Mulder gets off the phone when a sheriff approaches, wondering if Mulder was on the phone with his drug dealer. Mulder asks about UFO sightings in the area, but the sheriff hasn’t heard anything. When he learns that Mulder’s been trying to get rid of bugs, he gets concerned. He leaves when a call comes in about “another roach attack.”

Mulder calls Scully to tell her that people are being killed by cockroaches; the exterminator is just one of three found that day. The witnesses are respectable people – a biologist, an astrophysicist, and the alternative fuel research who owns the home where the exterminator died. Scully asks if the bodies were found with insect bites. She thinks the victims could have died of anaphylactic shock after suffering allergic reactions to the roaches. Mulder considers this a reasonable explanation, so Scully doesn’t need to come up and help him investigate. Case closed!

Across town, some stoners in a lab are talking about seeing true reality, and other druggy stuff. One of them sees a cockroach burrowing into his arm. It’s gross. At home, Scully’s giving her dog a flea bath when Mulder calls back to report that the stoner is dead. He has wounds all over his body, though they might be from the razor blade he used to try to cut out the roach. Scully teaches him about Ekbom’s Syndrome, a drug-induced psychosis that explains the stoner’s behavior. Mulder again decides this makes sense.

After hanging up, Mulder spots a roach in the lab and tries to capture it. He accidentally kills it, turning it to dust. He’s pretty sure the roach’s exoskeleton was made of metal. He sees a doctor about a cut caused by the metal, and though the doctor doesn’t think it’s serious, he’s worried that the roach killings are a threat to the community. He’s not happy that Mulder can’t provide any information. The doctor heads to the bathroom, where he’s joined by some roaches.

The sheriff wonders if the roach attacks are connected to experiments conducted in the town recently by someone claiming to be from the Department of Agriculture. He thinks they’re dealing with the aftermath of some failure in an experiment with killer bees. The two hear yelling from down the hall and head to the bathroom to find the doctor dead. A co-worker who found him says he was covered in roaches, but they disappeared when he went to look for help. Mulder sees one and tries to capture it, but it falls down a drain.

Mulder calls Scully again; she answers the phone, “Who died now?” Since the doctor was found on the toilet, she thinks he died of a brain aneurysm caused by straining too forcefully. She teases that Mulder thinks he’s dealing with killer cockroaches. They hang up, but sometime later, Scully calls back to share some research. The town might be infested by a new breed of cockroach that behaves differently from other breeds. Specifically, they may be attracted to people instead of scared by them.

Mulder’s currently sneaking into the lab where killer bees may or may not have been subject to experiments. It’s set up like a normal house, except for the rippling walls. Mulder pulls back a bit of wallpaper to find tons of cockroaches. He hangs up on Scully when a woman arrives to confront him for trespassing. She’s Dr. Berenbaum with the USDA, and she’s been studying the roaches to figure out how to eradicate them more effectively. She claims that the roaches are a common species, no more attracted to people than others, though they sometimes burrow into people.

Dr. Berenbaum shows Mulder a contraption she’s working on that basically looks like a high-tech bug-zapper. She has a theory that UFOs are just swarms of insects. “I don’t know if you know anything about UFOs,” she begins, saying that the noises and lights seen during their sightings could be made by bugs interfering with TV and radio signals. Dr. Berenbaum is fascinated by everything related to insects, especially how they only function on a basic level. Mulder’s basically ready to propose. When Scully calls back, he answers the phone with, “Not now.”

A man spending the night at a nearby motel watches a news report about the roach attacks. One theory is that the bugs are spreading Ebola. People are advised to evacuate and call the authorities if they see roaches. The man is too distracted by the TV to see roaches in his own bed. Mulder’s also spending the night in the motel, and since he can’t sleep, he calls a worried Scully. She’s annoyed that he’s been working with another woman, one named Bambi.

He tells her the UFO/insect theory, then admits that he despises insects. As a kid, he had a run-in with a praying mantis he thought was a leaf. As a result, he screamed like he’d seen a monster from a horror movie (but it wasn’t a girlie scream). He was confronted by the wonders of the natural world, but they repulsed him. Scully asks if he’s sure it wasn’t a girlie scream. Suddenly there’s a different kind of scream, one from the room of the man with the roaches in his bed. One of the men who finds him dead is the exterminator’s homeowner.

Scully’s packing to leave town when Mulder calls to tell her about the latest death. However, he thinks the man suffered a heart attack, and that everyone is town has gotten too anxious from all the news reports. He confirms that the exterminator died of anaphylactic shock, the stoner died of self-inflected wounds (and was most likely hallucinating, since he was cooking meth), and the doctor died of an aneurysm. So there’s nothing weird going on here, other than the roaches having metal exoskeletons.

Scully still wants to come up, and Mulder’s so distracted by a roach in his room that he doesn’t tell her not to come. He takes the roach to Bambi, who’s impressed with the bug’s genitalia. Well, with the metal comprising the bug’s genitalia. She’s heard about someone who can create robots with this much detail, and lucky for Mulder, he happens to be nearby, at the Massachusetts Institute of Robotics.

There, Mulder’s greeted by a robot that looks kind of like a giant bug. The robot’s creator, Dr. Ivanov, accuses him of scaring the robots. Ivanov, who seems to be the show’s version of Stephen Hawking, talks to Mulder about brains and insect reactions and other sciencey stuff. The robot that greeted Mulder keeps following him, and Ivanov says it likes him.

Ivanov has a contract with NASA, who hope to send his robots to other planets for better research than humans can conduct. They’ll just need a renewable energy source. If Ivanov’s theories are correct, there are aliens out there, and they’re technologically and mechanically advanced. They’re not the little green (or gray) men Mulder thinks they are. Ivanov looks at the bug robot’s legs under a microscope, but can’t comprehend their makeup.

The citizens of Miller’s Grove are stocking up on supplies to ride out the possible insect Armageddon. This means lots of food, toilet paper, and pesticide. Scully arrives in town in the middle of the chaos and gets to hear some theories from the townspeople. She tries to calm people in a convenience store, but when two women realize they’re down to only one can of roach killer, things turn messy. Their fight knocks over a candy display, and someone mistakes spilled chocolate for roaches. Suddenly the store is empty and Scully can find a roadmap in peace.

Mulder leaves Ivanov to drink alone in his lab, picking up a real roach on his way out. “Greetings from planet Earth,” he says to it. He takes it to Bambi, who confirms that it’s a real bug. Scully calls from the convenience store “on the outskirts of… civilization” to tell him that Dr. Eckerle, the fuel researcher who found the exterminator, has been studying methane gas derived from manure. He’s been bringing it into the town, and if the roaches were accidentally shipped in with it and have been eating with, Eckerle’s research facility might be their ground zero. Mulder: “But… aliens?” Scully thinks he’s been there too long.

Mulder takes Bambi with him to the research facility, where Eckerle has holed up with roach killer. He shoots at Mulder, saying he’s being followed. Mulder tells him the roaches weren’t responsible for the deaths in town. Also, since there’s a ton of methane gas around, Eckerle really needs to put his gun down. Scully arrives and gets an eyeful of Bambi, who calls Mulder “Fox.” Bambi wonders if she should go inside with Scully, but Scully tells her, “This is no place for an entomologist.”

Mulder tries to convince Eckerle to stop killing the roaches so they can be studied. But Eckerle’s already on his way off the deep end, even wondering if Mulder’s not just a giant roach. When Scully calls him and his cell phone rings, Eckerle thinks he’s buzzing like a real roach. He shoots a few more bullets, which sets off a couple fires, which lead to explosions in the facility. “Crap,” Mulder says, which is exactly what he and Scully are covered in thanks to the facility being full of manure.

The sheriff comes by along with firefighters and tells the agents that there were a bunch of assaults, lootings, and other riotous acts the night before. However, no one’s called in about seeing roaches for a few hours. He tells the agents to go get some rest – they “look pooped.” Ivanov joins them and asks to look at the robot bug again. Bambi thinks the insects have just moved on to another place.

Mulder wonders what Ivanov’s looking for now. “His destiny,” Bambi replies. Ivanov recognizes this as a line from Planet of the Apes, one of his and Bambi’s favorite movies. Looks like Bambi has a new love interest now. “Smart is sexy,” Scully notes. She thinks that by the time they have to deal with another robotic bug invasion, Bambi and Ivanov will have had super-intelligent children who can save the planet. Mulder can’t think of anything smart to say, so he tells Scully she smells.

Back at home, Mulder types up his case report. It’s about brains and reactions and instincts. Maybe humans have come as far as possible, and the next beings will continue our work with their own technology. Or maybe other creatures have already surpassed us. Would they be horrified by us and consider us mindless? Suddenly Mulder spots a big bug in his food and uses a case file to kill it. So when the robot bugs eventually rise up, they’ll probably go after him first.

Thoughts: Miller’s Grove is a takeoff of Grover’s Mill from The War of the Worlds.

The two surviving stoners appear again in “Quagmire” and “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.”

Scully’s reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a jab at David Duchovny, who missed a question about the book on Celebrity Jeopardy.

Mulder: “I see the correlation, but just because I work for the federal government doesn’t mean I’m an expert on cockroaches.” Heh.

Heeeeey, shirtless Duchovny. You can stop by anytime.

July 19, 2016

SVU Super Edition, Face It: Highway to Hell

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:20 pm by Jenn

They don't even look identical!

They don’t even look identical!

Summary: We have finally reached the end of this ridiculous series, and we’re going out with a road trip. Sam’s cousin, the only family member he still talks to, is getting married in Boston, and even though he doesn’t want to see his family, Elizabeth and Neil encourage him to go. (Sigh, Neil. He’s barely in this book and I’m sad about it. I’ll miss you, buddy.) Jessica ends up inviting herself and her new boyfriend along. This will be the twins’ last hurrah before junior year, since Jessica will be moving out of the duplex and back into the dorms to be an RA. Yeah, no one does that. Once you’re out of the dorms, you only go back if you can’t pay rent anymore. Plus, no way is Jessica qualified to be an RA.

Anyway, road trip. But first, drama! Jessica sees Sam getting some random girl’s phone number. She already thinks he’s scum, and this doesn’t make him any more endearing. Jess then learns that Elizabeth was accepted into a study-abroad program in London, but since she hasn’t said anything about it, she must not be going – and Jess figures it’s because she doesn’t want to leave Sam. She’s right.

Jessica wanted a summer internship at an art museum, but a cute senior named Tyler nabbed it first. Jessica’s not too broken up since Tyler’s really interested in her, and she’d rather have the guy than the internship anyway. After they’ve gone on a couple of dates, he mentions that his sister is graduating high school in Illinois, but he can’t afford to fly home for the ceremony. Jessica realizes that Liz and Sam can take him on their way to Boston, so she gets them to agree to bring her and Tyler along on the road trip.

The kids take a detour to the San Diego Zoo, so I guess they’re not under a time crunch. Jessica gets mad when Sam checks out a waitress (right in front of Elizabeth, no less). Tyler thinks Jess needs to calm down, and though I agree with her that Sam is skeezy – and she doesn’t even know that he feels trapped in his relationship with Elizabeth and doesn’t even want to be with her – this is not the time to pick a fight. No one wants to share a long car ride with two people who won’t stop fighting.

Next stop: Grand Canyon. It’s big. The road trippers check into a B&B for the night, and Jessica catches Sam flirting with a desk clerk. Dude, what is up with this guy? At dinner, Sam makes Jess mad by asking why she and Tyler got a room together but are sleeping in separate beds. Elizabeth confides in Jessica that she’s ready to have sex with Sam, though he doesn’t want to rush anything. Jessica doesn’t get it. I don’t think Elizabeth does either. Sam is weirdly hesitant to “take” Elizabeth’s virginity, as if she’s not freely and eagerly offering it up. Guys, just have sex already. I’m tired of reading about this.

The kids spend some time in Santa Fe, where the tables turn and Sam catches Jessica flirting with another guy. Later, they fight about his own flirtations, and Elizabeth gets annoyed at her scummy boyfriend. Then, in Illinois, he flirts with ANOTHER woman, a waitress at some restaurant, and ends up making out with her. Why are so many women into Sam anyway? Jessica spots them and immediately tells Elizabeth, but Liz thinks she’s lying because she wants to break them up. She thinks Jess is mad that Liz is going to lose her virginity to a great guy when Jess lost hers to jerky Mike. Way harsh, Liz.

Elizabeth questions Sam, who tells her that Jessica lies. Tyler sides with him, since Sam lied to him, too, so now Jess looks really petty. Everyone goes off in separate directions, and Sam ends up making out with the waitress AGAIN. And Jessica sees them AGAIN. This time Jess grabs Liz and drags her to see her boyfriend cheating with her own eyes. Of course, by the time they get there, Sam is alone, writing something. Liz thinks he’s writing in a journal just like she does, because if there’s anything Sam has proven to be, it’s sensitive and introspective.

Jess decides she needs to show Liz how bad Sam is in a way Elizabeth can’t deny. She plans to dress up as Liz, seduce Sam, and get Elizabeth to see them together. Yeah, there’s no way this could go wrong. It’s not like Sam will explain to Liz that he thought Jess was her, and Jess will come off looking crazy. While Jess is plotting, Elizabeth buys a bunch of candles and condoms and plans to get all pretty before having sex with Sam.

Jessica puts her plan into motion, and though Sam thinks “Elizabeth” is acting weird, he doesn’t suspect that she’s not really Elizabeth. Liz catches them, but instead of thinking Sam’s the only one to blame, she hates Jessica as well. Sam takes advantage of the mess to tell Liz he knew who he was with and doesn’t want to be with Elizabeth. Dang, way to kick her while she’s down. Elizabeth takes the Jeep and heads off on her own, leaving the others behind. I guess Tyler’s now close enough to home to find a ride, but I can’t wait for Jessica to have to call her parents and explain why she’s stranded in Illinois. Maybe Lila can swing by with her father’s jet.

Elizabeth sees her London acceptance letter in the car and decides to go. I don’t know how she plans to pay for a plane ticket, or how she plans to get through customs without her passport (since I can’t imagine she brought it with her), or what she’s going to do until the semester starts. But at least Jess can probably retrieve the Jeep from long-term parking after Liz flies halfway across the world, hoping to never see her sister again. And that’s a wrap on SVU!

Thoughts: Sam: “Liz, I’m really, really, like, I don’t know what to say – honored that you feel like you can sleep with me.” ICK.

How can these people afford to eat breakfast out so often? They don’t have jobs! Wait, Jessica has one. How is Jessica the only one with a job??

“After all, what guy in his right mind wouldn’t want to sleep with Elizabeth Wakefield?” Ugh, now I have to go jump out a window.

“You look really cute in that baseball shirt. Kind of like a little girl in her father’s clothes.” Sam, it’s time to start thinking before you speak.

Along with Neil, I hope Nina gets to live happily ever after. Everyone else in this series is dead to me.

July 16, 2016

The X-Files 3.11, Revelations: Full Circle

Posted in TV tagged at 1:36 pm by Jenn

Sheesh, you can't take this guy anywhere

Sheesh, you can’t take this guy anywhere

Summary: A pastor is giving a sermon at the First Church of Redemption in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. He tells his congregation about a little girl who asked him if miracles really happen. He knows a lot of people nowadays are skeptics, but miracles don’t require justification or rationale. The pastor’s hands begin to bleed and he tells his congregation that the blood is for them, to prove that miracles are real. One man in the church is definitely not a believer. After the service, he visits the pastor to assure him that some people do believe. Then he attacks the pastor, smoke coming out of his hands.

When Scully’s called in to examine the body, she sees ligature marks on the pastor’s neck, as well as signs of blood loss. Mulder tells her the congregation reported stigmata during the service. He taste-tests some of the pastor’s blood, determining that it’s fake. Indeed, the pastor, Findley, still has bags of fake blood strapped to his body, under his shirt. Mulder tells Scully that this has happened in a series of “religiously motivated murders”; all the victims were faking stigmata.

Scully notes the connection between 12 fake stigmatics and 12 apostles from the Bible. They’re up to #11, but Mulder doesn’t think they’re dealing with anything supernatural. Now, though, they need to worry about a 12th victim. That may be someone from Ridgeway Elementary School in Loveland, Ohio, because why else would we go there next? A boy named Kevin Kryder is working on a math problem at the chalkboard when his hands start bleeding.

Apparently the FBI put out an alert about stigmata, so someone from the school contacted Mulder and Scully. This has happened to Kevin before; he came to school last year bleeding from his hands and feet. The school suspected abuse, and Kevin’s father was arrested, but there was no evidence so the charges were dropped. After Mr. Kryder was released from jail, he locked himself and his son in a house and ranted that he had to protect Kevin because he was chosen by God. Now Mr. Kryder is in an institution.

Kevin worries that he’ll be taken away from his parents again. He thinks Scully expects him to say his dad hurt him. She notices that he has a fever. Mrs. Kryder arrives, worrying that the previous year’s troubles are happening again. Mulder tells her that someone might target Kevin for demonstrating stigmata. Kevin’s fever is so high that the thermometer breaks, which…has what to do with stigmata? The school wants to take Kevin away from his mother while they determine what exactly happened to him. Mrs. Kryder refuses to go through that again.

Mulder thinks they’ve done all they can do, but Scully wants to keep investigating. If Mr. Kryder thinks Kevin needs to be protected, he might know who’s after him. They visit Mr. Kryder, who says “the forces of darkness” have been after Kevin since his birth: “They will come in the form of a powerful, respected man.” Armageddon is approaching, but someone will be strong enough to make a sacrifice to end it. Mulder asks if Mr. Kryder is that person, but Mr. Kryder says he’s just a messenger. He tells Scully they need to “go full circle to find the truth.”

Kevin spends the night at the Linley Home for Children, entertaining/traumatizing the other kids with a horror story. His villain is a big, bald guy whose hair has been burned off by the fires of Hell. When he points at you, you’re doomed. The man he’s describing appears in the room and the kids all run off. Kevin holds out his hands to the man, revealing that they’re bleeding through his bandages.

Mulder and Scully come over to take the kids’ statements about what the man looked like. Mrs. Kryder joins them and learns that Kevin has been kidnapped. The agents assure her that they’ll do everything they can to find her son, but Mulder doesn’t think they have much to go on – the man the kids have described looks like “Homer Simpson’s evil twin.” Scully doesn’t think they’re dealing with their religiously motivated killer, since he never abducted any of the other victims. It helps that Mrs. Kryder can ID the man as Owen Jarvis, who’s previously done yard work for her husband.

Kevin is fairly calm about abduction, since Owen isn’t planning to hurt him. Owen just wants to protect him. He calls himself Kevin’s guardian angel. Of course, since the agents now have this guardian angel’s name, it’s not long before they pay a visit to his house. But when Scully goes to the attic where Owen has stashed him, she doesn’t see him. Owen insists that he hasn’t hurt Kevin and isn’t the person targeting him. He was asked by God to protect the boy. “That’s quote a long-distance call, isn’t it?” Mulder quips.

Mulder clearly thinks that Owen’s belief that he needs to prevent the apocalypse is dumb, but Owen thinks Scully might side with him, since she’s wearing her cross necklace. Scully says her religious beliefs aren’t relevant to the situation. “How can you help Kevin if you don’t believe?” Owen asks. Even the killer believes. He criticizes Scully for going through the motions with religion without understanding the sacrifice. He does whatever God asks of him. Apparently, today that means jumping through an attic window and running away.

Kevin has somehow escaped the attic without being seen and made his way home. Someone rings the doorbell, but Kevin doesn’t open the door. The man who killed Findley burns through the doorknob and goes through the house looking for Kevin. The boy hides in a hamper, but the killer finds him when Kevin’s blood seeps through the sides.

Fortunately, Owen shows up to tackle the killer and allow Kevin to escape. The killer uses his smoky killing powers on Owen. Mulder and Scully arrive, and Mulder finds Owen dead with a smile on his face. Scully sees that Kevin’s hands are bleeding again, this time from both the palms and the backs. He asks her if she’s the one who was sent to protect him.

Scully examines Owen’s body and notices a pattern – possibly a handprint – in the burn marks on his neck. Even though Owen has been dead for 14 hours, his body hasn’t started to break down, and his body temperature hasn’t even dropped. Mulder joins Scully and she asks him to smell the body. Well, she sure picked the right person to ask. She thinks she can smell flowers, but Mulder doesn’t notice anything.

Scully tells Mulder that they learned about this kind of thing in catechism class – bodies of “incorruptibles” that don’t break down after death. Mulder thinks those stories, like stigmata, are just that, stories. Scully wonders if they’re dealing with a saint. She believes in miracles, even if they can’t be explained by science: “Maybe that’s just what faith is.” Mulder disagrees – they’re dealing with a lunatic who just has a different justification for his crimes. He thinks the autopsy will prove that.

Later, Mulder and Scully meet up again and he tells her the handprint on Owen’s neck has allowed them to get the killer’s fingerprints. They’re dealing with Simon Gates, a super-rich CEO. Scully remembers Mr. Kryder talking about a respected and powerful man. A few years ago, Mr. Kryder was given a suspended sentence for a DUI and left the country for Israel. Mulder thinks he’s suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome, which gives people religious delusions when they visit the Holy Land. They come home thinking they’re Moses, Mary, Jesus, or the devil.

Mulder thinks they’re dealing with a killer who’s as nuts as Mr. Kryder. Scully doesn’t get how Gates could burn his fingerprints into Owen’s neck. It’s from the fires of Hell, of course, Scully! Mulder gets a call telling him that a social worker took Kevin to lunch, but witnesses saw Kevin with his mother at the exact same time.

In actuality, the Kryders are currently by the side of a road with a broken-down car. Gates finds them and offers to help. It doesn’t take long for Mrs. Kryder to grow suspicious. Kevin distracts Gates for a second, but he turns back to Mrs. Kryder and knocks her to the ground. Kevin runs off and Gates chases him…expect there’s still a Kevin back at the car with his mother. Gates chases Kevin into an open field, where the boy disappears. Mrs. Kryder drives through the field, barely conscious, and hits Gates with her car before crashing.

By the time Mulder and Scully get to Kevin, Mrs. Kryder is dead. Well, that sucks. He wants to know why Gates is after him. Scully promises to protect him. “Why can’t I just be like everybody else?” Kevin asks. Scully wants to know why he thinks he’s different, but he says he just is. She agrees not to take him back to the children’s home, convincing Mulder that Kevin’s safer with them. Maybe not, though, since Gates is lurking nearby and will be able to follow them.

Scully takes Kevin to a motel, where she sees a big cut on his side while she’s getting him ready for a bath. “You never draw my bath,” Mulder mock-complains. Scully’s disturbed that the cut showed up after the car accident. She tells Mulder that yesterday, Kevin’s hands bled from the palms and the backs, just like Jesus’ when he was crucified. She continues that Kevin was able to be in two places at once, like St. Ignatius was in the Bible.

Mulder argues that she’s thinking about a parable, just a metaphor for the truth. Why didn’t Kevin show up in two places when Owen kidnapped him? Scully asks why Mulder can continue to believe in aliens but won’t listen when she talks about miracles. He tells her he waits for miracles every day, but this situation is only testing his patience, rather than his faith. Gates opens a window in the bathroom, catching Scully’s attention. When the agents go in to check on Kevin, he’s gone, and the window has been heated and bent to create an opening.

Mulder continues to believe they’re dealing with a human, saying that Gates must have used an acetylene torch to get through the window. He’s officially completed his transformation into Scully the skeptic. The real Scully wants to go back to Mr. Kryder, who warned them about a powerful man putting Kevin in danger. They show him a picture of Gates, but Mr. Kryder doesn’t recognize him. He also doesn’t know why someone would want to hurt Kevin.

Mulder shows Scully that Mr. Kryder has been receiving increased doses of an anti-psychotic. Scully asks Mr. Kryder to explain what he said about coming full circle to find the truth, but thanks to the medication, he can’t remember. Gates is spotted at an airport, but Scully thinks it’s a distraction. She’s just noticed a recycling bin with its iconic circle of arrows – a full circle. Gates owns a recycling facility nearby, and she thinks that’s where he’s taken Kevin. Mulder guesses that Scully thinks she’s the one who’s been chosen to protect Kevin.

At the 21st Century Recycling Plant, which happens to be located in Jerusalem, Ohio, Gates is telling Kevin that he has to die for the New Age to come. He thinks the other victims were false prophets, but Kevin is the True One. Scully arrives before anyone can be sacrificed, but she soon loses Kevin and Gates when Gates knocks over a bunch of newspapers to keep her away. He takes Kevin to the top of a shredding machine and jumps in. Fortunately, only Gates is shredded, as Kevin manages to grab on to the side of the machine. He tells Scully he knew she’d come for him.

Two days later, Kevin’s hands are completely healed, and he’s sure he and Scully will see each other again. Before her flight back to D.C., Scully goes to confession, wanting to talk to someone about miracles. She’s unsure of whether she really saw a miracle, since Mulder can’t back her up. The priest suggests that what Scully saw was only for her to see, not Mulder. Maybe she saw things she needed to see: “Sometimes we must come full circle to find the truth.” Scully admits that she’s afraid God is speaking but no one’s listening.

Thoughts: Mulder, some day you’re going to taste something at a crime scene and find out the hard way that it really is blood. You need a babysitter.

Listen, I’m a Christian, but if God tells me to jump through a window, I’m going to ask a few questions.

So shouldn’t Mr. Kryder be released from the institution? He wasn’t delusional. Does Kevin wind up in foster care? I hope he lives with a nice family with a dog and bunkbeds and lots of religious tolerance.

July 12, 2016

SVT #57, Big Brother’s in Love!: Matchmakers, Matchmakers, Make Him a Match…

Posted in books tagged , , , at 5:07 pm by Jenn

Please try not to think about how much Cathy looks like the twins

Please try not to think about how much Cathy looks like the twins

Summary: Despite their horrible date in the last book, Steven still likes Jill and wants to find a way to win her over. Janet thinks the whole thing is ridiculous, since Jill is now dating Joe and clearly doesn’t have any romantic interest in Steven. Jessica decides to take advantage of the situation by making a bet with Janet: If she proves over the next week that Steven’s over Jill, Janet has to hand over her two tickets to a TV show called Staying Up with Bob. If Jess fails, Janet gets Elizabeth’s new camera.

Elizabeth is furious with Jess for using something that belongs to her in a bet, but Jessica is confident that she can beat Janet. Since Liz loves Staying Up with Bob (ugh, what a horrible title), Jess is easily able to convince her twin to help show that Steven is over Jill. Jessica figures the best way to do this is to get him interested in someone else. And the best candidate for that someone else is his friend Cathy Connors.

The twins make a big plan to send Cathy a series of gifts from a secret admirer, attached to a few letters of Steven’s name. By the time Cathy gets the last of the gifts, she’ll have all the letters and be able to figure out who her secret admirer is. While I find this plan creative, it doesn’t guarantee that Steven will want to be with Cathy instead of Jill. It doesn’t even guarantee that Cathy will want to be with Steven. In fact, it could backfire and end their friendship. But this is Sweet Valley Twins, not Sweet Valley High, so the chances are good that the plan will work.

First the twins send Cathy flowers, but Steven doesn’t pay any attention. He’s still hung up on Jill, and still making a fool of himself in front of her. He thinks he can win her heart by getting a motorcycle, since she’s mentioned liking them. He knows he can’t drive one for two more years, but nothing’s stopping him from buying one. Well, nothing but a ton of money. Steven decides to get a job, which is easier said than done for a 14-year-old with no marketable skills. He ends up getting a job at McRobert’s, a mall fast-food restaurant that I’m sure is in no way based on McDonald’s. Cathy happens to work there, too, so apparently McRobert’s is immune to child labor laws.

The twins spend most of their money on Cathy’s gifts, and asking for an advance on their allowance gets them nowhere – their parents point out that they just got $100 each from Aunt Helen, and it’s not Ned and Alice’s fault if they’ve already spent it. That’s totally fair, actually. Steven needs his laundry done, so he offers his sisters $1.50 to do it for him. That’s a horrible price, but the twins are desperate. While doing the wash, Jessica finds $15 in the sock Steven uses for his piggy bank and, under the family’s finders-keepers laundry rule, confiscates it.

So now, hilariously, the twins are going to use Steven’s own money to buy gifts that are supposedly from him. Well, Elizabeth doesn’t know – Jess knows she’ll make her give the money back, so she tries to buy balloons for Cathy without her twin finding out. Liz learns the truth and refuses to continue the plan until Jess gives back Steven’s money. Jess stubbornly says she’ll continue the plan on her own, though Elizabeth points out that she’s the one who’s been cutting out the letters in Steven’s name, and Jessica probably doesn’t know which ones have already been sent.

Steven realizes that if he does win over Jill, he’ll be stealing his best friend’s girlfriend. Took him long enough to figure that out. Steven decides to tell Joe straight out how he feels about Jill, but Joe takes the news surprisingly well. The truth is that he doesn’t really like Jill that much. He’s figured out that she doesn’t have much of a personality outside of molding herself to what other guys like. So…why doesn’t Joe break up with her? Whatever.

As Steven spends more time with Cathy, he realizes that he’s a little jealous that she’s getting gifts from a secret admirer. Maybe he likes her as more than a friend? When she gets her last secret-admirer gift and puts the letters together, she comes up with Steven’s name. Steven figures out that his sisters were playing matchmaker for them the whole time. He and Cathy are both thrilled and start dating.

So everyone’s happy…until Ned and Alice learn about Jessica and Janet’s bet. They don’t like that Jessica’s gambling with expensive items like cameras and TV tickets. They don’t want her to accept her prize from Janet for winning the bet. But Steven’s so grateful to his sisters for getting him and Cathy together that he offers to give them money so they can buy the tickets from Janet. So when the twins present photographic proof that Steven is over Jill, Jessica hands over money for the tickets instead of just accepting them as a prize. This makes Janet feel a little better about losing the bet.

Throughout the book, Elizabeth has been trying to come up with a stupid human trick for a Staying Up with Bob segment using audience members. She stumbles across one at the dinner table, realizing that she has a hidden talent for batting away peas with a knife. The twins get to go to the show, and Elizabeth is chosen to perform her trick (with assistance from Jess). So by the end of the book, Steven and Cathy are happy together, the twins have been on TV, and Jill and Joe have broken up. She tries to catch Steven’s eye, but he’s already moved on. This means that everyone ends up happy except Jill. Sucks to be her!

Thoughts: “Let’s just say I have connections.” Janet, you’re 14. You don’t have connections.

“Valley Pharmacy was one of Jessica’s favorite stores.” Jessica makes me sad.

“And if Jessica couldn’t deliver the camera, she’d be a welcher – something no Unicorn had ever been.” Probably because they don’t know what it means.

July 9, 2016

The X-Files 3.10, 731: Speed 3: Strangers on a Train

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:32 pm by Jenn

"I'm too old for this s%$#"

“I’m too old for this s%$#”

Summary: In Perkey, West Virginia, a military convoy has arrived at Hansen’s Disease Research Facility and is moving its residents outside. Either those residents all have giant heads and deformed fingers, or they’re aliens. One of them hides under the floor and is able to stay back when the others are taken to a field and executed.

Elsewhere, Mulder has just done the most Mulder thing imaginable and is train-surfing. Scully demands to know what’s on the train, but Mr. X won’t tell her how the Japanese government and World War II doctors are involved. When she struggles with him, he asks if she’s going to shoot him like the men who shot Melissa. Mr. X tells her to look to her neck implant to figure out who’s behind everything. In fact, it could answer all her questions.

Mulder makes it inside the train and tries to access an area marked as quarantined. A conductor he talks to is no help but suggests that Mulder talk to a doctor on board, Shiro Zama. When Zama doesn’t answer his door, the conductor helps Mulder break in. No one’s inside, but Mulder finds and confiscates Zama’s things. He gives the conductor an unloaded gun and asks him to detain Zama if he returns.

Scully goes back to FBI headquarters to talk to Pendrell about the implant. He first thought it was placed to record neural impulses, but now he thinks it was replicating memory formation. Basically, it was a hard drive collecting Scully’s memories. Pendrell accidentally destroyed the chip while working on it, but he was able to determine that the technology came from Japan. The contact person on the shipment carrying that technology? Shiro Zama. Scully leaves while Pendrell beats himself up for being doofy in front of her.

On the train, the American airport killer from the previous episode follows Zama, cornering him in a bathroom just before Mulder passes by. (The killer never gets a name, but we’ll call him Stephen, after the actor who plays him.) Following the information Pendrell found on Zama, Scully heads to Perkey and finds the abandoned research facility. She sees some people (aliens?) running around and finds them hiding under the floor. They’re scared, thinking Scully’s going to hurt them.

Mulder continues searching the train for Zama, who, of course, is dead. Back in Perkey, Scully questions the people at the facility, who explain that they’ve lived there their whole lives. She determines that Hansen’s is basically a leper colony. The whole medical staff left just before “death squads” started coming to execute the residents.

Scully doesn’t get why so many people were kept at the facility when leprosy is treatable. The group’s spokesperson tells her that their disfigurements forced them into “camps” instead of treatment. Other patients arrived with similar deformities, but were burned by Zama’s treatments. The spokesperson takes Scully to the mass grave that holds all of the patients/aliens killed by the death squads.

A helicopter arrives, so Scully and the spokesperson run into the woods to hide. Scully’s captured by a group of men and hears a gunshot. Mulder returns to Zama’s car and tells the conductor that Zama’s dead. He wants to keep the train from making any stops until he finds the murderer. Mulder goes back to the quarantine area, this time spotting its patient. But before he can do anything, Stephen grabs him and tries to garotte him like he killed Zama.

The conductor comes to Mulder’s rescue, pulling the unloaded gun on Stephen to get him to drop Mulder. Stephen claims he’s in law enforcement; when he pulls his badge, the conductor runs, locking Stephen and Mulder in the car together. Mulder still has his weapon, so now he has the upper hand on his would-be killer.

Stephen announces that he’s with the NSA, and what he’s after isn’t an alien – it’s a bomb. Entering the car triggered the explosive, which could be wired to anything. Stephen claims that he killed Zama so Zama couldn’t kill his cargo. Mulder doesn’t believe him, so he’ll keep holding his gun on Mr. NSA, thank you. Stephen notes that firing could set off the bomb, but Mulder will take his chances.

In Perkey, Scully’s taken to a man from the Syndicate (known as the Elder) who waxes poetic about the facility. The patients were exposed to Zama’s treatments. Scully corrects that the Elder means Ishimaru, accusing the government of hiding him after the war. The Elder says that Ishimaru went rogue and exposed the patients to horrible things. He won’t tell Scully if she’s been exposed, too, but he tells her he has answers for her.

The conductor offers to try prying the door open, but Stephen warns against that. He gives up his access card but says it won’t work. Mulder figures out that there’s a code, which Stephen got from Zama before he died. Stephen confirms this, but says using the code to enter the car triggered the bomb. They’ll need a different code to leave the car. Mulder thinks the bomb is on their car, but Stephen says he doesn’t know where it is.

Mulder decides to call his bluff and use the entry code to get out. Just before he finishes inputting the code, Stephen gets a phone call…for Mulder. It’s the Elder, and he has Scully on the line. We get a “Mulder, it’s me” before she warns Mulder that they’re involved in something very different from what they thought. The alien on the train isn’t an alien; he’s one of Zima’s human guinea pigs and has been exposed to radiation and diseases.

Mulder doesn’t know why Scully believes what the Elder has told her. Scully says she believes what she’s seeing – she’s on a train car just like the one from the autopsy video, and she knows she’s been there before. It’s where she was taken when she was abducted. Zama used a secret railroad to conduct his tests, and Scully and the MUFON women were among his patients. The UFO Mulder went looking for was part of a Russian sub.

Scully continues that the president recently made a public apology to citizens affected by radiation tests before 1974. The tests continued after, including on the person in quarantine. Scully warns that there’s a bomb on the train, and if it goes off, thousands will develop hemorrhagic fever, since that’s what the quarantined patient was exposed to. Mulder tells her that it’s a little late not to enter the car. She tells him the bomb is on a timer, but at least she knows it’s inside a vent.

Mulder gets Stephen to open a vent in the car, exposing the bomb’s timer. Fortunately, they have over an hour and a half to deal with it. Scully tells Mulder to get the train stopped, but he pretends they’re losing their connection and he can’t hear her. Instead, he tells the conductor to inform the engineer to reroute the train to an unpopulated area and unhook the car. As he does so, Stephen warns Mulder that “they” won’t reach the car in time to save them.

So now it’s just Mulder, Stephen, and the patient in Middle of Nowhere, Iowa. Stephen spots an unguarded scalpel, so Mulder should probably do a better job of securing him. Also, half an hour has passed, so…maybe do something? Mulder calls Scully to tell her he plans to wait and see what happens. Good plan!

Once the timer is down to 38 minutes, Mulder finally realizes that no one’s going to come rescue him. He starts interrogating Stephen, asking who he’s protecting, and what his orders were after he killed Zama. He thinks Stephen knows what the alien really is. Stephen won’t answer, so Mulder threatens to shoot him in the stomach so he dies slowly. Well, more specifically, he threatens to “miss” Stephen’s stomach and shoot him somewhere a little farther down.

Stephen finally reveals that the patient is a weapon. What could be more valuable than a biological weapon or atomic bomb? An army immune to biological weapons and atomic bombs. Mulder realizes that Zama was testing those immunities on civilians, as well as on alien-human hybrids. Stephen taunts that if the patient were one of those hybrids, someone would have come to save him by now, right?

Scully heads to Mulder’s apartment and tries to call Senator Matheson, then puts an X on the window. While she’s waiting for Mr. X, she puts on the autopsy video. Sometime later, she calls Mulder to tell him that the video shows Zama punching in the code to leave the train car. It takes some work, but she’s able to get five of the six numbers and make a confident guess about the sixth.

The code is right, but before Mulder can leave the car, Stephen attacks and beats him up. However, as he’s exiting the train, he takes a bullet courtesy of Mr. X. With less than a minute left on the timer, Mr. X heads to the quarantine area, then carries an unconscious Mulder off the train. The car explodes, with just one fatality.

A week later, the fate of the train car is unknown. Matheson won’t return Mulder’s calls. Scully says that someone called a hospital to alert them to Mulder’s location, which means Mr. X vanished and Mulder doesn’t know he was there. Scully managed to get Zama’s briefcase back, but Mulder says the journals inside aren’t the ones he found in Zama’s car – they’ve been rewritten. The bodies at Hansen’s have all been removed.

Mulder argues that he knows what he saw, and everything’s being covered up again. Scully says she knows what she saw, and they’re not going to get anything beyond the cover-up and apologies. Mulder doesn’t want apologies, he wants the people who are responsible to be held accountable: “I want an apology for the truth.” Elsewhere, CSM looks on as someone translates Zama’s journals from Japanese to English.

Thoughts: It’s not explained in the episode, but it’s called “731” after a real Japanese army unit that experimented on POWs and Chinese civilians.

Stephen: “You’re gonna die. You know that?” Mulder: “What do you care? You were trying to kill me anyway.” Heh. Point Mulder.

Mulder, don’t call the patient a “thing.” Aliens have feelings, too.

For those of you who like TV Easter eggs, part of the exit code is Chris Carter’s favorite number, 1013.

July 5, 2016

SVU #59, Elizabeth in Love: Be Yourself, Even If You’re Chloe

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 4:41 pm by Jenn

I used to have a hat like that. I can't believe I'm admitting it

I used to have a hat like that. I can’t believe I’m admitting it

Summary: We’re one book from the end of the series and Sam and Elizabeth have finally worked things out. Elizabeth: “Yay, we’re dating!” Sam: “…I guess?” It’s like that episode of Scrubs where, after wanting Elliot back for months, J.D. finally gets together with her and then realizes he doesn’t want to be with her. Sam’s been pining after Elizabeth for a dozen books but now decides he doesn’t want a relationship. Commitment is bad! He’ll have to be nice to her now! She might make him (ugh) talk about his feelings and feel vulnerable.

Liz, however, is super-happy and even wants to make herself look prettier than usual by wearing makeup and stuff. Sam thinks she’s dressing and acting like Jessica. They go out for breakfast and talk about how he never told her about his family and their money. She seems to be over it. Really, she’s just thrilled that Sam is finally acting like a normal human being.

Sam manages to tear himself away from the love of his life, to her dismay. She goes to talk to Nina, who thinks Sam should be working overtime to make Liz happy after making her miserable all year. Thanks for your input, Nina! Elizabeth decides to make a fancy dinner for Sam, which includes spending almost $80 on stuff that a typical college student wouldn’t like. She also considers finally losing her virginity.

Sam, for his part, spends almost $40 on flowers for his new girlfriend. He’s not appropriately grateful to her for cooking him such a nice dinner, thinking they’re moving too fast. Dude, you’ve known each other almost a year and have just now finally stopped fighting. All you’ve done so far is eat a meal together. Chill. Sam protests all the fancy stuff, which hurts Liz’s feelings a little, since she worked so hard on something she herself enjoys. I get it – they’re different people! He likes casual stuff and she likes a little glamour! Men are from Mars and women are from Venus!

Elizabeth and Sam talk about his family again. He tells her how his older brother was a great guy until their parents molded him into someone more like them. Sam cut off his family so they can’t change him, too. But he’s still rich, since his grandfather left him money. Poor little rich boy. He says that Elizabeth has changed him, which Liz interprets as a good thing. The conversation turns to sex, and Sam says he’s willing to wait until Liz is ready. I’m sure it’s not just because it means they get to move slowly and he won’t freak out.

Guys, this is the last book Chloe appears in! Let’s celebrate! First, let’s mock her because she thinks she’s a loser for not having a boyfriend by the end of her freshman year. She also really wants cool friends, which…she’s in a sorority. Isn’t she surrounded by supposedly cool people? Really, Chloe is just socially awkward and can’t carry on a normal conversation for more than ten seconds, so no one wants to hang out with her. If she would stop trying so hard, she’d be fine. Alternately, if she would stop thinking Val and Martin are nerds, she’d actually enjoy their friendship more.

Anyway, Chloe has glommed on to Nina, so she asks for some advice on attracting guys. Chloe thinks she needs to dress sexier so guys will want her. Nina actually says some smart stuff throughout the book, like how Chloe should only dress sexy if she wants to. Chloe doesn’t listen – she goes on a big shopping spree and starts wearing clothes that, trust me, college students aren’t wearing around campus, especially not when they should be studying for finals.

Finally, Chloe gets a guy’s attention, but the fact that he immediately seems like a jerk makes me think this won’t turn out the way Chloe wants. She goes out with the guy, James, but he clearly couldn’t care less about her as a person. She’s clueless enough to think he would still make a good date to an upcoming semiformal (which, fortunately, we don’t have to witness). They go to James’ apartment and make out a little, but James wants more. Chloe objects, and of course, James ignores her. Things are about to get really illegal when Chloe manages to make her escape.

She runs straight to Nina, who again says some really smart things: Chloe did nothing wrong, even by wearing sexy clothes, and they need to report James for almost assaulting her. Chloe says no, since he didn’t actually do anything to her. I wish Nina had pressed her a little here, since James shouldn’t get a pass just because his pants didn’t come off, and saying nothing might leave James free to go after another girl. But I guess that’s not the point the writer wants to make here.

Nina encourages Chloe to stop trying so hard and be herself. But Nina, Chloe’s horrible! If she’s herself, she’ll be even less popular than she already is! Chloe actually listens, though – she starts wearing the clothes she actually likes and stops trying to attract guys everywhere she goes. Then she goes to a party and immediately meets a guy. Of course! Also, Nina goes to a study group instead of the party and almost meets a guy. So at least we leave Nina in a good place.

Todd has finally realized that the dream life he wanted isn’t so dreamy after all. He wants a summer internship, but no one wants to hire a guy who dropped out of college. Also, he thinks he has some genius business plan that all sorts of companies will want to snap up, because he’s 19 and has no idea how the world works. He can’t believe that CEOs aren’t falling all over themselves to give him a corner office.

Todd starts having dreams about turning into a loser because he dropped out of school and spends the rest of his life working at Frankie’s. He’s not getting the independence he thought he would, and quitting school has closed him off to a lot of opportunities. So his solution is to go back to school. Well, that was easy. He quickly enrolls for the summer so he can try to get back on track by the fall. Yay, I guess.

Neil has been struggling to stay sane in the duplex, what with Elizabeth and Sam fighting all the time up until now. He decides to move out, and makes arrangements without telling anyone, even Jessica. She finds out when one of Neil’s new roommates calls to tell him the room in her house isn’t available anymore. Jess is furious, but Neil has already changed his mind about moving, since Sam and Liz have calmed down and things are better. Basically, this is a non-plot that just serves to give Neil something to do in his last appearance.

At least he has more to do than Jessica, who spends the whole book mad that Elizabeth wants to be with Sam after he’s been such a jerk to her. The sisters fight a lot, and Jess mopes over how they’re kind of growing apart. She spends way more time thinking about this than she does about her finals. Not that I’m surprised. Then Jess decides to try to get a summer internship at an art gallery, and she rents some movies, and she announces a big party at the duplex without telling her roommates. And then nothing else happens.

Thoughts: Nina has red pony-hair boots. Wh – I – what?

“Being with her was like listening to a song and needing to go out and buy the album right then.” I actually like that line, but the fact that it’s about Elizabeth makes me gag.

Apparently Elizabeth has a crush on Rupert Everett and Neil has one on Matt Dillon. It would make more sense the other way around.

July 2, 2016

The X-Files 3.9, Nisei: All Aboard the Alien Autopsy Crazy Train

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 12:41 pm by Jenn

Look at him. You know he's thinking this is one of the coolest moments of his life

Look at him. You know he’s thinking this is one of the coolest moments of his life

Summary: A group of kids riding their bikes wave as a train passes by on its way to drop off a train car. That night, a man emerges from the car and leaves as some other men board the train. The inside of the car has been turned into a medical facility, and the men speak Japanese while they perform some sort of operation. Everything seems fairly normal, except for the fact that their patient’s blood is green. Also, then some men come in and shoot all the doctors, so I guess that’s not normal. The shooters bag up the patient, which…I’m not saying it’s an alien, but it certainly looks like one.

Mulder’s having a lazy morning in his office, watching a mail-order video of an alien autopsy. Scully scoffs that “it’s even hokier than the one they aired on the Fox network.” They study a recording of the train operation, wondering why they can’t actually see the alien being autopsied. The screen goes fuzzy just as the men with guns arrive. Mulder got the video from someone in Allentown, Pennsylvania, who says he got the feed off of a satellite dish in the middle of the night.

Road trip to Allentown! They visit the headquarters of Rat Tail Productions and quickly discover that the house has been broken into. Mr. Rat Tail is tied up on the bed, dead for just a few minutes. Mulder spots someone running out of the house and chases him through some backyards and down the street. When Mulder finally catches him, the man pulls some self-defense moves on him and kicks his gun away. Mulder has smartly ensured that he can’t lose his gun, so he easily recovers it. He asks the man his name, but the man will only respond in Japanese.

Scully meets up with her partner at the Allentown police station, complaining that there’s no Japanese interpreter to help them question the man. Skinner joins them and announces that they have to release the man – he’s a high-ranking Japanese diplomat named Kazuo Sakurai. Mulder half-lies that they’re in Allentown working on a case of video piracy. Skinner advises him to return to D.C. Scully, however, can’t shake the case – why would a diplomat be in a dead video producer’s house?

Mulder still has Sakurai’s bag, so he and Scully check out the contents. They find satellite photos and a list of Allentown-area members of the Mutual UFO Network. One name, Betsy Hagopian, is circled. Mulder takes the photos to the Lone Gunmen, who tell him he’s found some espionage pictures of a boat the Japanese are looking for called the Talapus. Frohike’s surprised that Sakurai was so reckless with his findings. The ship is now in Newport News, Virginia. Meanwhile, a Japanese man gets in a car in D.C. and is strangled.

Scully pays a visit to Betsy Hagopian’s house, meeting two women who claim they know her – she’s one of them. The women knew Mr. Rat Tail (real name: Steven); he was a member of their chapter. Scully’s confused about why they say they know her, too. She’s surprised when they guess that she had an unexplained experience in her life last year. They tell her to wait for the rest of their chapter to arrive.

While Mulder starts looking into what happened to the Talapus, the women in Allentown tell Scully that all of them have been “taken.” They remember bits and pieces of being in the same bright place Scully was kept during her abduction. They think Scully should consider undergoing regression hypnosis to recover all of her memories. Scully thinks she doesn’t want to be a part of their book club or whatever.

Mulder runs around the shipyard for a while, letting himself onto a boat where he finds a work shirt from the Talapus. Some soldiers arrive and storm the boat, so Mulder jumps overboard. In Allentown, Scully doesn’t understand why she can’t remember the MUFON women when they can remember her. They tell her that’s normal. Scully remembers being on a table with some sort of tool stuck in her belly (which looks pregnant). The MUFON women ask about her neck implant, since all of them have them.

Scully decides it’s time to leave, but realizes she hasn’t seen Betsy, the person she came to talk to. The women take her to a hospital, where Betsy’s being treated for cancer. They think it’s connected to her abduction, and they’ll all eventually suffer the same fate. In Newport News, Mulder gets back to dry land and peeks into a warehouse. A bunch of people in white Hazmat suits are working on something under a big clear tarp.

Mulder heads home and finds his door open a crack and his electricity out. Skinner’s there, and he tells Mulder that someone broke in before he got there. Sakurai was released the previous night but was found dead this morning in a canal. The Japanese government thinks someone killed him for his briefcase, which was never entered into evidence. Skinner’s smart enough to know that Mulder took it, but Mulder’s smart enough to have left it with Scully. Skinner tells him to get it back – they’re dealing with something bigger than even the FBI, and he doesn’t want to be involved.

The next day, Mulder goes to see his buddy Senator Matheson, who tells him to return the satellite photos and make everything go away. Mulder refuses – he’s seen something he wants to follow up on. Matheson tells him that four Japanese doctors were murdered in Nashville while participating in a highly classified project. Mulder figures they were working on the alien autopsy. Matheson gives Mulder their names and warns that he doesn’t have much time to expose whatever’s going on. Mulder wonders what that whatever is. “Monsters begetting monsters,” Matheson replies.

Scully returns to D.C. and tells Mulder about the MUFON women. Her skepticism about the situation is slipping, since the women seem to know so much about her. She spots a picture Mulder’s looking at of a group of Japanese scientists from World War II. Scully recognizes one of the men, Takeo Ishimaru, though Mulder says he died in 1965. He was the commander of the 731, an elite section of Japan’s medical corps, which performed experiments that would have made Mengele proud. Four of those doctors were the men murdered in Nashville, possibly by the U.S. government.

Mulder thinks the doctors were trying to create an alien/human hybrid. Scully scoffs, but Mulder reminds her of all the things she’s seen, including the tunnel full of files and her implant. Why can’t she believe? “Believing’s the easy part, Mulder. I just need more than you. I need proof,” she says. “You think that believing is easy?” he asks.

Mulder has figured out what the Japanese boat was tracking: a UFO that’s now in a warehouse in Newport News. He thinks that’s how the alien in the video got to Earth. He shows Scully the list of names from Matheson, saying he got them from someone who, like her, wants proof, but who’s also willing to believe. Scully takes an implant to the wonderful, lovable Agent Pendrell. He determines that it’s a microprocessor like those used in brake systems and video games. Recently, one was developed to harness disabled people’s brainwaves to help them use computers.

Mulder’s now sneaking around somewhere new, a rail yard in West Virginia. A van arrives and some Japanese men bring the possible alien to the train car where the autopsy was performed. The train leaves the station, and Mulder tries to run after it, then I guess realizes he can’t outrun a train. In Mulder’s office, Scully rewatches the video, pausing on a shot of Ishimaru. She remembers him leaning over her during her abduction.

We get a rare “Scully, it’s me” when Mulder calls from the rail yard to tell her he saw the Japanese men putting the alien on a train. She tells him Ishimaru’s on the video, but that’s not how she recognized him. Inside the train station, an American man knocks out one of the Japanese men from the rail yard. (More about the American guy in the next episode.) Mulder tries to get a seat on a train to Vancouver so he can meet up with the other train, but he’s too late.

Scully goes back to Mulder’s apartment and encounters Mr. X. He warns her that Mulder’s in danger and can’t get on the train he’s tracking. Scully tries to blow him off, reminding X that he’s lied to her and Mulder before. But Mr. X is insistent, so Scully calls Mulder and tells him not to get on the train – “they” know where he is. Mulder’s found a bridge he can jump off of to land on the train, and no matter how firmly Scully tells him not to do it, it, of course, does. To be continued…

Thoughts: Poor, doomed Agent Pendrell. He deserved so much better.

Writing “Some soldiers arrive and storm the boat, so Mulder jumps overboard” doesn’t even faze me. Like, of course he does. Why wouldn’t he? It’s the Mulder thing to do.

Also, for an FBI agent, Mulder isn’t very good at being stealthy. Maybe Mr. X can give him some lessons.

June 28, 2016

SVT #56, The Wakefields Strike It Rich: Why Don’t My Relatives Ever Want to Give Me Money for No Reason?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 4:56 pm by Jenn

This is so dorky, it almost comes all the way back around to cool

This is so dorky, it almost comes all the way back around to cool

Summary: The twins and Steven are hanging out with their friends after school, not wanting to go home because they know their parents will ask them to clean the house again. Jessica only has 50 cents on her and has to ask to borrow $2 from Lila to cover her sundae at Casey’s. Only $2.50 for a sundae? I miss the ’90s. Lila gives her a hard time because Jess never has any money and always asks her rich BFF for a loan. Well, Lila, you can stop giving her money any time. Let her learn to make sure she has enough before she tries to buy something.

Aunt Helen is in Sweet Valley for a visit, and she’s brought a big surprise: She wants to give each of the Wakefield kids $100. The kids are amazed, having never had that much money before. Jessica immediately boasts about her new riches to her friends, then buys them all ice cream at Casey’s. The girls next go to a Claire’s-type store, and Jess treats them to bracelets, posters, shirts, and other things preteen girls spend their babysitting money on. After just a couple days, she’s down to just $15. That’s pretty impressive. When her friends want to go back to the mall, Jess comes up with excuses not to go, which makes Lila realize she’s out of money.

The next time Jess goes shopping with her friends, she keeps her money to herself. Her friends are a little miffed, but really, if you can’t afford a $4 necklace, KIMBERLY, that’s your own problem. Jessica pretends that she enjoyed being so generous with her money, since Lila never is. What’s nice is that the Unicorns get her some earrings to thank her for spending her money on them, so they’re not completely selfish. Then they all go to Casey’s again, and Jessica’s back to having no money, so she has to borrow another $2 from Lila. Heh.

Elizabeth, our more responsible twin, first decides to put at least some of Aunt Helen’s money toward a new camera. Then she does exactly what I would do with $100 – she goes to the bookstore. She gets the new Amanda Howard and learns that Ms. Howard herself will be at the store the next day and can sign it.

But reading a mystery puts Elizabeth in investigator mode, and she starts to think there’s something fishy about the circumstances of Aunt Helen’s presents and the fact that she has a broken arm but won’t tell anyone what happened. Liz overhears Helen talking to Ned about a court case and possibly being sued. She gets a super-special delivery but won’t open the envelope in front of anyone. Chatting with Amanda Howard makes Liz think there’s a mystery to be solved, since there are mysteries all around us.

Liz gets more suspicious when she catches Aunt Helen crying. Helen says she’s just upset about the death of her favorite soap character. She was present when another character was killed for witnessing a crime, and the gangsters killed her to keep her quiet. What’s funny is that Elizabeth says the character might not really be dead, since presumed-dead soap characters often come back, but Aunt Helen – who’s watched the show for 20 years – says the character must be dead because they just had her funeral. Helen. Sweetie. No.

Anyway, Liz consults with Amy, who thinks Helen is a spy. Okay, Amy. Liz gets Amy to snoop through Helen’s things, but she doesn’t find any clues. The girls find a picture of a man in Helen’s purse and wonder if he’s threatening her. After watching a movie about a mob hit, Liz and Amy think Helen is being targeted by gangsters. Freaking A, girls. They rush home to protect Helen, because if mobsters are afraid of anyone, it’s 12-year-old girls. (Not that the mob exists. It doesn’t. Tony Soprano was in waste management and had no other sources of income.)

Now that Elizabeth is flinging around wild accusations, Helen decides to just explain what really happened. She broke her arm in a car accident and has been having trouble getting her insurance company to pay up. They claim that she hasn’t paid them, and she’s worried about having to go to court to prove that she did. The man in the picture is her boyfriend. There’s no real explanation of why Helen suddenly handed out $300, though. Liz is like, “Whatever, I’m still going to say I solved a mystery.”

Steven has a big crush on a new girl, Jill Hale. Jill clearly doesn’t like him like that, and seems to prefer Steven’s best friend, Joe Howell (Janet’s older brother). Awww, Joe and Jill even have the same initials. It’s like they’re meant to be. Steven’s annoyed that Jill pays more attention to Joe when they’re all together, so he decides to ask Jill out on a date for some one-on-one time. He really wants to wow her, so he buys her gold earrings (which, by the way, can’t be returned).

Jessica takes an interest in her brother’s love life, giving him advice and a magazine article with ideas on what to do on his date with Jill. Steven finally calls Jill to actually ask her on the date. Her response: “[long pause] I guess that would be okay.” Awww, true love. Steven treats the whole thing like they’re going to prom – he gets Jill a corsage, finds a fancy French restaurant for them to go to, and even puts on a tie. If he had enough money, he’d probably rent a limo, but he goes with a cab instead.

The date is…not great. Jill puts forth a good effort, acting really nice even though she clearly doesn’t want to be more than friends with Steven, but he has a miserable time. First, she makes him dance. Then he worries about money. Then he discovers that Jill has the same earrings he bought her, and is even wearing them on the date.

Is if that weren’t bad enough, the bill is $50 (which is pretty low for what’s supposed to be such an elegant place), and Steven only has $45 with him. He would have had $10 more but Jessica asked for a fee for helping him get ready for the date. Steven has to ask Jill for some money, which is pretty embarrassing, and has to get a ride home from her father, since he doesn’t have cab fare anymore, which is even more embarrassing. I don’t think Jill will be going out with him again.

Thoughts: “If the girl who had written this article had liked it enough to call it a ‘dream date,’ wouldn’t Jill?” Yes, Steven. All girls like all the same exact things.

Aunt Helen: (visits family, keeps secrets, gives the kids money). Amy: “She’s a spy!” Try again, Ames.

Elizabeth is okay with searching Helen’s room and suitcase, but not her purse. Why draw the line there?

Jill: “I love dancing. Of course, my favorite kind is square dancing.” Yes, of course. That’s a really sophisticated girl you like there, Steven.

June 25, 2016

The X-Files 3.8, Oubliette: There’s an Easier Way to Find Subjects for Your Photos, You Know

Posted in TV tagged at 1:31 pm by Jenn

Not one mention of spaceships in this episode. Unbelievable

Not one mention of spaceships in this episode. Unbelievable

Summary: A teen named Amy Jacobs gets her picture taken at Valley Woods High School in Seattle. The photographer’s assistant, Carl, is a lot more interested in her than a grown man should be. That night, he cuts out her picture in a cellar darkroom and puts it next to one of himself. Then he sneaks into Amy’s house and grabs her out of her bed, saying, “Nobody’s gonna spoil us.” Her little sister sees and calls for their mother. At a restaurant, a waitress named Lucy suddenly gets a nosebleed and collapses, saying over and over, “Nobody’s gonna spoil us.”

As detectives dust the Jacobses’ house for fingerprints, Mulder shows up to join the investigation. He tells Mrs. Jacobs how sorry he is for her daughter’s disappearance, but Mrs. Jacobs doesn’t think he could really understand how she feels. Mulder notices blood, which Walt Eubanks, the agent in charge of the investigation, tells him Amy’s sister says came from Amy’s nose when she was grabbed. The police have no leads on a suspect – Amy’s sister was the only witness, though she didn’t get a good look – but they think the kidnapper knew Amy. Mulder’s interested in Lucy.

Mulder meets up with Scully at the hospital where Lucy’s being treated. He finds it very interesting that she was repeating the same phrase Amy’s kidnapper said at the same time 20 miles away. What’s even more interesting is that when Lucy was eight, she was kidnapped from her house. She was held for five years, locked in a basement, and her abductor was never caught. The agents visit Lucy, who’s very stand-offish and claims “nobody’s gonna spoil us” means nothing to her. She’s sympathetic towards Amy, but she doesn’t think she can help.

While Lucy gets ready to leave the hospital, Carl has an encounter with a tow-truck driver. He has a flat tire but claims he doesn’t need any help. He also really doesn’t want to open the trunk for the driver. He threatens the guy with a tire iron, and the guy drives off, calling him a lunatic and a freak. Mulder regroups with Eubanks, who tells him that Lucy has a sketchy past and could be involved in Amy’s kidnapping. Mulder doubts it.

Scully tells Mulder that Lucy’s blood type is O positive; there were two kinds of blood on her waitress uniform, and only one was O positive. The other was B positive, Amy’s blood type. Mulder doesn’t think it could actually be Amy’s blood, but Scully doesn’t think that’s the point. She wants to do a DNA test. Mulder insists that Lucy has nothing to do with Amy’s disappearance, and he doesn’t want her treated like a suspect.

Lucy’s in bad shape at the halfway house where she lives, shivering and telling a friend it’s too dark to see. She has scratches on her face that her friend didn’t see before. Elsewhere, Amy’s also cold and in the dark, with scratches on her face – she’s trapped in Carl’s cellar. Mulder goes to the halfway house and chats with Lucy, who still can’t – or doesn’t want to – help. Mulder thinks she can lead him to Amy, though Lucy claims she doesn’t care about the girl. If she’s Amy’s “best hope,” Amy’s in a lot of trouble.

Carl takes some photos of Amy, who has a hard time getting away from his camera, since she’s in a confined space. As she cries and begs to go home, Mulder watches a video of Lucy acting similarly upon her reappearance in 1978. She was kept in the dark for so long that her eyes were hypersensitive to light. She was also barely coherent, after spending five years barely talking to anyone. Mulder’s amazed that she was able to create a normal life for herself.

Scully tells him that there may be a lead – Amy’s class received their school pictures, but the Jacobses didn’t get Amy’s. The photographer fired Carl the day after the shoot, so Scully thinks he’s their guy. (Also, he was “institutionalized for a bipolar condition” for a number of years, so I guess that makes him a criminal.) They have a picture of Carl, so Mulder decides to take it to Lucy. Meanwhile, Amy realizes that Carl is leaving the house. She spots sunlight coming through a boarded-up window and starts to pull off the boards.

Mulder visits Lucy again, making her uncomfortable by touching her. She tells him she was doing all right until this weird stuff started happening. He shows her Carl’s picture and guesses that she recognizes him. She runs away instead of answering. Amy’s making good progress on the window when Carl returns home and catches her crawling through it. He chases her through the woods as Lucy runs away from her halfway house. Amy trips, hurting her arm, and Carl is able to catch up with her. At the same time, Lucy also falls and hurts her arm. She asks Mulder what’s happening to her.

Now willing to help, Lucy tells Mulder that she feels like her abduction is happening all over again. He guesses that she’s experiencing the same things Amy is. Lucy shies away from helping, not wanting to revisit what happened to her. Scully and Eubanks arrive with a warrant to arrest Lucy – the B positive blood on her uniform matched Amy’s DNA. Before the agents can get to her room, Lucy takes off.

Carl chastises Amy for running away, then reluctantly gives her some water. She begs him not to let her die in the cellar. Eubanks prints fliers with Lucy’s face, though Mulder warns that they’ll just make her run away. He thinks Amy’s blood on the uniform came from Lucy herself – Lucy bled it. Scully thinks there’s a weird Stockholm Syndrome situation going here, and Lucy has a twisted connection to Carl. Mulder thinks they’re dealing with “empathic transference.”

Scully wants to know why Lucy would run if she were innocent. She thinks Mulder’s rationalizing things because he has so much sympathy for Lucy. After all, he had a loved one who was abducted. Mulder thinks she’s placing too much important on a single event from his childhood. The conversation is interrupted when the tow-truck driver IDs Carl and tells the agents where he encountered him. Mulder’s able to figure out that Amy’s probably in Easton, the same place Lucy was found.

The agents head to Easton, and Mulder decides that he and Scully should check out a photography store to get information on their suspect. Once they find out where Carl lives, they’re quickly able to find their abductee. (It helps that Carl’s not in the house.) But it’s not Amy – it’s Lucy. Eubanks threatens to arrest her as an accomplice, since Lucy can’t tell them where Carl and Amy are, or why she even came to the house. All she’ll tell Mulder is that Carl hasn’t touched Amy yet. “If he can’t have her all to himself, that’s when he’s dangerous,” she says.

Mulder thinks Lucy came back to the house because she’s connected to Amy. Now Amy needs strength from Lucy, the survivor. Lucy shivers and says Amy’s cold and wet, then starts coughing. Carl’s car is found west of the house, but Mulder thinks he actually went east, to the river. The agents leave Lucy behind at the house with another agent while they head to the river, where Carl’s dunking Amy in the water. Lucy starts choking, drowning on dry land.

Mulder’s the first to find Carl in the river, holding Amy under the water. Mulder shoots him, letting his body get carried downstream while he and Scully try to revive Amy. At the house, Lucy’s also not breathing, and apparently the agent with her has never heard of CPR. Scully thinks Amy’s beyond help, but Mulder won’t stop giving her CPR. When he finally does, Lucy and Amy both start moving. Amy’s breathing again, and Mulder soon learns that Lucy was having breathing trouble as well. As Amy’s taken away for treatment, someone retrieves Carl’s body.

Mulder returns to Carl’s house, but Lucy’s dead. He cries over her body, no doubt thinking of Samantha. The next day, Scully meets him in Lucy’s room, expressing surprise that Amy wasn’t injured. Lucy’s autopsy shows that she drowned. Mulder thinks she saved Amy somehow. Scully wonders if Mulder was part of Amy and Lucy’s connection – he was the reason they found Amy. Mulder believes Lucy saw saving Amy as a way to escape what she’d been through for so many years.

Thoughts: Amy is played by Jewel Staite, who’s probably best known as Kaylee from Firefly.

Amy’s abduction is eerily similar to how Elizabeth Smart was taken, with her sister being in the same room and all.

Carl was “institutionalized for a bipolar condition,” so he’s a suspect for kidnapping children. Sure, sure.

“You’re making too big a deal out of one thing that happened when I was a kid,” says the guy who based his whole career on that event.

June 21, 2016

SVU #58, The Dreaded Ex: If No One Wants to Be Friends With You, Maybe You’re the Problem?

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn

Girl on the left, you are a style disaster

Girl on the left, you are a style disaster

Summary: Did you know that Sam and Elizabeth are fighting? In case you’ve forgotten, we get to read about more of their issues with each other. Liz talks things over with Nina and says that she thinks they can work things out, but Nina reminds her that Sam’s not exactly a catch, and Liz can do a lot better. Eventually things in the duplex get so bad that Elizabeth tells Sam to move out, though she quickly realizes that Jessica and Neil might be mad since they’ll have to cover his rent or find a replacement roommate. Then Nina changes her mind and basically tells Liz to be with Sam if that’s what she wants. You’re not helping, Nina.

Neil thinks things will calm down Liz and Sam them if they start dating other people. Yeah, as if that won’t lead to more problems, like jealousy. You’re not helping either, Neil. Elizabeth considers a writing contest that would give her a chance to spend a semester at the University of Boston, because why work things out with your potential next boyfriend when you can just move across the country and hope to never see him again? She tells Jessica and Neil that Sam’s supposed to move out, but they override her decision and tell Sam he can stay.

Nina tries a new tack: make Elizabeth realize she’s in love with Sam. Liz will only admit that she has “strong feelings” for him. Sam comes in and Elizabeth worries that he overheard her. Jessica tells her sister to chill out for a while and things with Sam will blow over. Then suddenly Sam decides to just apologize to Liz and make up with her. She sees that he’s wearing the hat she gave him, which is some sort of magical move that makes her suddenly forgive him, I guess. They kiss. I really don’t care.

Todd wants to read up on business strategies for his bar, so he buys a couple of books at SVU’s bookstore. Because campus bookstores are known for affordable reading material? He meets an SVU senior named Terese and lets her believe that he still attends SVU. Todd’s co-workers, Cathy and Ryan, call him on not being completely honest with Terese. They think he’s ashamed because he dropped out and works in a bar, and if she dumps him because of those things, she’s a snob.

On Todd and Terese’s first date, he pretends he’s still in school and in a frat. They hit it off because she has no idea that half the things he says are lies. When she wants to hang out again, he meets her on campus, making it look like he’s coming out of a class. They run into Nina, who mentions that Todd dropped out. He lies that he only considered it, and tells Terese that Nina likes to exaggerate. Later, Todd and Terese run into a former classmate of hers who dropped out and now works as a waitress. Terese is judgmental, so Todd thinks he’s right not to tell her he dropped out, too.

For their next date, Terese wants to pick Todd up at the frat house where she thinks he lives. She also wants to take him to the Hot Dog Festival people talk about for half the book. He thinks he’s talked her out of going to the frat house, but she shows up anyway and is told that he doesn’t live there. As he’s trying to come up with a lie she’ll buy, they run into a professor who mentions that Todd dropped out. Once the whole story comes out, Terese tells Todd that she doesn’t care why he dropped out or that he works in a bar, but she can’t trust him anymore, so they’re done. Cathy and Ryan remind him that there are other people out there to date. I assume Todd just ends up with Cathy?

In the plot that lets us know how pathetic Chloe is, she’s trying way too hard to get people to like her. She buys bagels for her sorority sisters and is upset that they’re not as grateful as she’d like them to be. She keeps joining their conversations, then pouting because no one invites her to hang out. Chloe also tries to avoid her nerdy sort-of boyfriend, Martin, so people won’t think she’s a nerd by association. Then she realizes she would have more fun with Martin than with her sorority sisters who don’t want to spend time with her anyway. She decides to give Martin a makeover so she’s no longer embarrassed to be seen with him in public.

Chloe chats with a couple of Theta sisters, trashing Martin by calling him a nerd. Then she makes him get a haircut and tries to buy him new clothes. He’s on to her and calls her on trying to change him. He also wonders why she wants to spend so much time with him after saying she just wants to be friends. Chloe actually has a crush on him but is in denial, and doesn’t want to date a nerd. She blows him off, then gets blown off by some Thetas. Looks good on ya, Chloe. Later, she tries to act like nothing happened and everything’s fine between her and Martin, who’s understandably cold to her.

Chloe talks to her BFF Val about Martin, but doesn’t bother to mention that she’s in love with him. Val asks if she can ask out Martin, since Chloe supposedly just wants to be friends with him. Chloe says yes, thinking Martin will turn Val down. She’s wrong, so ha, Chloe. She finally decides to be honest with Martin about her feelings, but she realizes he’s still mad and wants to move on. She runs into Nina and finally asks if she can tag along to the Hot Dog Festival instead of just waiting for an invitation from various people like she’s been doing the whole book. I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for Chloe because no one likes her and she’s too pathetic to make new friends or extend an invitation, but I can see why no one wants to hang out with her.

Thoughts: This book came with a Bowling for Soup poster and free cassette offer. Score!

These are the facts, Sam: Buy your own groceries. Leave mine alone.” Those aren’t facts, Elizabeth. As a journalist, you should really know what the word “fact” means.

For college students, these people sure get up early, especially on the weekends.

I’m not 100% what the Hot Dog Festival is all about, but I think people just eat hot dogs for three days. I’m not sure that qualifies as a festival.

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