July 5, 2015
The X-Files 1.4, Conduit: Sister, Sister
Summary: A family is camping out, with two children sleeping outside and their mother in a camper. The camper starts shaking, knocking the mother out of her bed. When the shaking stops, she tries to go outside to check on her kids, but the door is too hot to touch. Her son, Kevin, yells that his sister, Ruby, is gone. At FBI headquarters, Blevins shows Scully a case that Mulder wants to be assigned to – Ruby’s disappearance in Sioux City, Iowa. He heard about the case from a tabloid. Blevins thinks Mulder wants in because the case is similar to the disappearance of his sister.
Scully recaps what we’ll hear about many, many times in the future: 21 years ago, Mulder’s sister Samantha disappeared from their home. Mulder reported seeing a bright light outside the window and feeling a presence in the room. Blevins asks Scully if she thinks Mulder’s judgment is compromised because of what happened to Samantha. Scully says no, but she’s only known him for three episodes, so we’ll let that slide. She asks to speak to Mulder about letting the Iowa case go.
This goes over as well as you would expect – Scully doesn’t think there’s enough evidence for them to investigate, but Mulder thinks that’s why they need to investigate. How else will they know if there’s evidence of an alien abduction? He shows her slides of UFOs spotted by Girl Scouts at Lake Okobogee in the ’60s. The lake is where the family was camping, and one of the Girl Scouts was Darlene Morris, Ruby’s mother.
In Iowa, the agents meet with Darlene, whose hand is bandaged from being burned on the camper door. Mulder looks at the family’s photos, stopping on one of Ruby at about the age Samantha was when she disappeared. Darlene tells the agents that Kevin has been acting strange since Ruby’s disappearance. She shoots down Scully’s suggestion that the children’s father might have taken Ruby in a custody dispute. Darlene and Mulder both think Ruby’s disappearance is connected to what happened in the ’60s.
Mulder goes to talk to Kevin, who’s sitting in front of a staticy TV. Kevin admits that he’s been having nightmares, but he doesn’t want to talk about them. He lets Mulder look at the pad of paper where he’s been writing 1s and 0s that he says are coming from the TV. At the local sheriff’s department, Mulder gets in touch with a government contact, offering Redskins tickets in exchange for information. He blasts the sheriff for not following up on Darlene’s statement. The sheriff says that Ruby’s “no prom queen” and probably got herself in trouble that Darlene’s trying to cover up.
Mulder finds a note on his car sending him and Scully across the street to a library. There, a friend of Ruby’s tells them that Ruby was supposed to see her boyfriend, Greg, the night she disappeared. Ruby was pregnant and planned to leave town. All the girl will tell the agents about Greg is that he worked at a pub. Scully and Mulder head over there, but Greg hasn’t been to work in three weeks. Mulder notices that the bartender has a tattoo of a UFO. He pretends to be a skeptic, so the bartender suggests that he visit Lake Okobogee. He shows off a deformed ear, saying he got it from lights in the middle of the night.
Speaking of the middle of the night, that’s when Scully wakes up to find someone trying to get into her room. A bunch of NSA agents, led by one named Holtzman, want to know where the agents got “the document,” by which they mean Kevin’s sheet of 1s and 0s. The agents tell Holtzman that Kevin picked up a transmission from a defense satellite. Mulder wishes Scully hadn’t told NSA anything – there’s no way an eight-year-old could be a threat to national security. Scully would like to know how that eight-year-old obtained such classified information.
Mulder and Scully return to the Morrises’ house as the NSA agents raid it and separate Darlene and Kevin. They find a whole pad of paper full of 1s and 0s. Mulder decides to check out the camper, finding what looks like campfire ashes on top of it. Later, an FBI agent tells Mulder and Scully that no one found any encrypted messages in Kevin’s 1s and 0s, so the NSA is letting them go. But the 1s and 0s weren’t random: They’re the building blocks of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, a DNA double helix, a piece of the Brandenburg concertos, and lines from Shakespeare and the Koran.
Mulder and Scully try to talk to Darlene, who’s mad that they haven’t helped the way they said they would. She orders them to stay away from her and Kevin, who at the moment is looking at security feeds. Mulder tells Scully that Kevin’s the key to finding Ruby, so they need to keep investigating. He may be a conduit to Ruby’s abductors, having been “touched in some way” the night she was taken. Scully knows Mulder’s invested in the case because of Samantha, but he won’t listen when she insists that there’s no evidence of an abduction.
The agents head to the lake, where Mulder points out abnormalities in the treeline that indicate they were affected by extreme heat. Scully notes that they could have been hit by lightning. Mulder finds a chunk of sand that was heated enough to partly turn into glass – evidence that something extremely hot was at the lake. Scully spots a white wolf, and Mulder follows it to its pack, which is circling a shallow grave.
Mulder starts to remove the rocks over the grave, but Scully stops him, reminding him that he’s disturbing a crime scene. The proper authorities are called to do their jobs, and they unearth Greg’s body. Scully notes that he was Ruby’s boyfriend, to which the sheriff replies, “Ruby had a lot of boyfriends.” Thanks, Sheriff! You’re a big help! Mulder looks in Greg’s wallet and finds a slip of paper with the name Dr. Jack Fowler and a date and time written on it. He and Scully match the handwriting to the note on his car – they were both written by the girl in the library.
The girl, Tessa, is brought to the sheriff’s department so Scully and Mulder can confront her for lying about Ruby. Tessa, not Ruby, is the one who’s pregnant. Mulder thinks she waited for Greg and Ruby to meet at the lake, then killed them out of jealousy. Tessa says that Ruby wasn’t there that night, which of course means that Tessa was. Mulder believes her, but Scully thinks Tessa killed Ruby and is lying about it. She tells Mulder it’s time for them to go home and let Iowa deal with the case.
Mulder wants to keep investigating, so Scully tells him to stop chasing after Samantha. No matter what happens, he won’t get her back. Mulder says he’s not giving up on Ruby until they find a body. The agents go back to the Morrises’, where the TV and stove are on, and Kevin’s papers have been laid out in a square. When Scully goes upstairs to see who’s home, she’s able to see all the papers together. The 1s and 0s make up a picture of Ruby’s face.
As the agents head back to the lake, Mulder tells Scully that when he was a kid, he had a habit of closing his eyes before he entered his bedroom. He thought that one day he’d open them and Samantha would be there. “I’m still walking into that room, every day of my life,” he says. When they get to the lake, they find the Morrises’ camper. They follow a trail and find Darlene, who says she saw something. Kevin ran off but she couldn’t keep up with him.
Mulder continues up the trail, finding Kevin approaching a bright light. Mulder follows him, and they’re both buzzed by a bunch of bikers. Kevin insists that Ruby’s back. Mulder doesn’t think so, but when they returned to Scully and Darlene, Ruby’s there, unconscious but alive. They take her to the hospital, where the doctors are unable to determine what caused her to fall unconscious. Mulder knows, though – her white blood cell count and the presence of a certain substance in her blood are symptoms of prolonged weightlessness.
The agents visit Ruby, who’s hesitant to tell them where she was – “they” told her not to say anything. Darlene calls the agents away and asks them to drop the investigation. She just wants the family to put it behind them. What happened to her in the ’60s has caused her nothing but trouble, and she doesn’t want Ruby and Kevin to suffer. She’s going to stick to the story that Ruby ran off with a motorcycle gang.
Back in D.C., Scully listens to a taped hypnotic-regression therapy session Mulder had to help him remember what happened when Samantha disappeared. He remembers not being able to move when Samantha was taken. She called his name over and over, but Mulder couldn’t help her. As Mulder cries in a church, looking at Samantha’s picture, the Mulder on the tape says that a voice in his head told him not to be afraid. Samantha wouldn’t be hurt, and would return someday. The therapist asks if Mulder believes the voice. “I want to believe,” Mulder replies.
Thoughts: Darlene is played by Carrie Snodgress, an Oscar nominee who was once involved with Neil Young.
If your kid is sitting in front of the TV, writing down numbers, that’s not something to brush off as “acting strangely.” You should get that checked out.
Why doesn’t Mulder ask Darlene about her injured hand? How would Scully explain the burn?