September 6, 2015
The X-Files 1.13, Beyond the Sea: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Summary: Scully’s parents are over, and her father wonders if she’s going to leave her Christmas tree up all year. Scully says yes, since her father always made them take it down right away when she was a kid. As the family says goodbye (Scully calls her father Ahab and he calls her Starbuck), Scully’s mother gives her husband a prompting look. He asks his daughter how work is, and when she says it’s fine, he doesn’t follow up.
That night, Scully falls asleep on the couch, waking up to see her father sitting in the living room with her. He says something but Scully can’t hear it. She looks away, and when she looks back at where he was sitting, he’s not there. Moments later, Maggie calls to tell Scully that her father has died. He had a massive coronary an hour earlier. Scully looks across the room to the empty chair her father was just occupying.
At Jackson University in Raleigh, North Carolina, a couple makes out in a car. Someone with a flashlight interrupts, ordering them out of the car. Only the guy gets out, and he refuses to show any ID until the man with the flashlight shows some. Instead, the man hits him. Back in D.C., Mulder’s surprised to see Scully at work. He asks how she is, calling her Dana. She insists that she’s fine.
Mulder fills her in on the abductions of the couple, Elizabeth and James. They disappeared exactly one year after a couple at Duke University disappeared. Those two were found a week later, dead after being tortured. Mulder thinks they’re dealing with a serial kidnapper/killer. If so, they have five days to find Elizabeth and James.
There’s the added wrinkle of Luther Lee Boggs, a death-row inmate put away by Mulder. He claims to have information about the abductions. He’s set to be executed in just days but thinks he should have his sentence reduced because he’s been helpful, and because he possesses unique talents: He acquired his information on the kidnappings through “psychic transmissions.”
Scully notes that Mulder sounds skeptical, for once. He tells her that Boggs has done this before; he was supposed to be executed once before but used his “skills” to get a stay. Mulder thinks he’s pulling the same scam again. But Boggs fits the profile of a serial killer, and appears to kill because he likes it. Now Boggs wants to talk to Mulder, thinking Mulder can understand who he is.
Scully wants to come along to the meeting, even though her father’s funeral is that day. Mulder advises her to take some time off, but Scully wants to work. He tells her he’s sorry for her loss, then leaves her behind. Scully’s tempted to look at a file marked “visionary encounters w/ the dead,” but decides not to open it.
“Beyond the Sea” plays at Bill Scully’s funeral, which takes place at the edge of…the Potomac, I guess. Someone scatters his ashes from a boat. Maggie tells Scully that “Beyond the Sea” was playing when her husband returned from sea and immediately proposed to her. Scully wants to know if her father was proud even though she joined the FBI instead of practicing medicine. “He was your father,” Maggie replies.
In North Carolina, Mulder and Scully meet with Boggs, who mumbles about all souls being connected. Mulder thinks he sees himself as their conduit. Boggs tells them that “from here, we can return to the past; we can see the present; we can know the future.” Mulder asks where, exactly, he is. Boggs refers to himself in the third person, saying that he needs to be “made redemptive for his transgressions.” Mulder’s like, “Yeah, that’s why you’re being executed.”
Boggs wants to trade his life for Elizabeth and James’. First Mulder wants proof that he can do what he claims: “Don’t get me wrong – I want to believe.” He gives Boggs a piece of cloth from an evidence bag, and Boggs uses it to relay the message that James is tied up with twine in a dark place, possibly a cellar or condemned warehouse. A stone angel is nearby, and possibly a waterfall. Once Boggs is done relaying the message, Mulder reveals that the cloth is from his own shirt and has nothing to do with Elizabeth or James.
Scully packs up to leave but stops when Boggs starts singing “Beyond the Sea.” When she looks at him, she sees her father. When he turns back into Boggs, he asks, “Did you get my message, Starbuck?” Scully runs out but tells Mulder that nothing happened. Mulder thinks the case is closed and Boggs is a fraud. He may have something to do with the kidnappings, but his fraud has been exposed, so he’s out of luck. Boggs is taken back to his cell, still singing “Beyond the Sea.”
Scully heads to her hotel, remembering the things Boggs said about James’ location. She spots a hotel called the Niagara and remembers that Boggs mentioned a waterfall. Across the street is a stone angel. Scully drives into the parking lot, seeing a sign on a warehouse door marking it condemned. After a brief look around, she finds a hole in the floor, blood, and a charm from a charm bracelet.
Mulder meets up with Scully in her hotel room, where she’s been sitting across from an empty chair. He tells her that police have ID’d the charm as Elizabeth’s. Mulder met with Boggs again, but he just “channeled” spirits for a while. Mulder eventually asked him to channel Jimi Hendrix so he could hear “All Along the Watchtower.” Scully blurts out that she lied to the police about how she found the warehouse. She said she’d noticed something suspicious there, but she really followed Boggs’ landmarks.
Mulder blasts her for listening to Boggs – he could have been setting her up for a trap. Scully says she lied on her report because she thought it made more sense than what really happened. Mulder says she just didn’t want to admit that she believed someone like Boggs, which is something he would do, but she wouldn’t. Scully says she just wanted to open herself up to “extreme possibilities.”
Mulder questions the timing, guessing that it has to do with Scully’s father. He knows that Bill never completely approved of Scully’s job at the FBI. He thinks she should back off the case because her judgment is clouded. Scully says she loves the job. “You love your father,” Mulder replies. She should only open herself up to extreme possibilities when they’re the truth. He continues that Boggs is way ahead of them, so they have to be careful.
The next morning, Mulder shows Scully a story he got a newspaper to print about Elizabeth and James being found safe. Boggs gets to use the phone today, and Mulder hopes he’ll call his accomplice. Instead, Boggs calls Mulder. He asks why Mulder doesn’t believe him but Scully does. Mulder replies that Scully believes that Boggs has Elizabeth and James. Scully insists that they keep talking to Boggs; he’s their only lead.
Boggs tells the agents that he knows who has James and Elizabeth but doesn’t know his name. He only sees a man in his 20s with a skull earring. He’s whipping Elizabeth with a wire. Boggs directs the agents to a boathouse, then warns Mulder not to go near the wooden cross. Blood will be spilled there.
In the boathouse, the kidnapper hears a rescue team coming and runs. Scully tends to Elizabeth as Mulder goes looking for James and the kidnapper. The kidnapper shoots him from a boat and takes off. When Scully arrives to help Mulder, she sees two wooden slats on the pier forming a cross. Mulder’s rushed to the hospital with a leg injury.
Elizabeth looks through mugshots, finally identifying the kidnapper as Lucas Henry. Scully learns that Henry witnessed a car accident in which his mother and high school sweetheart died. The seventh anniversary of the accident is approaching. Scully thinks he relives it every year, which is weird because no one’s mom is being kidnapped, but whatever. Henry is believed to have worked with Boggs on past crimes.
Scully confronts Boggs for setting a trap for Mulder because Mulder put him away. She yells that if Mulder dies, she’ll make sure she’s the one to throw the switch and execute Boggs. Boggs calls her Dana, and when she turns back around, she sees Mulder. “You’re the one who believed me,” he says. She covers her ears, insisting that she doesn’t believe Boggs. He wonders if she believes herself.
He “channels” Scully to tell her about a time when she was 14 and snuck a cigarette, trying to keep her parents from finding out. Boggs knows what Scully wants and who she wants to talk to. She might as well just ask. Scully admits that she’ll believe Boggs if he lets her talk to “him.” Boggs channels Bill and calls her Starbuck, but Boggs stops the conversation, demanding a deal first. Going back to the chair is the last thing he wants.
The last time Boggs was scheduled to be executed, a priest read him Scripture about how you must love in order to gain eternal life. Boggs saw his dead family (who he killed) in his cell as he ate his last meal. The rest of his victims lined the hallway as he was led to the chair. All of his victims’ fear entered him and made himself feel like he’d already been killed. When he sat in the chair, all their souls entered him.
Scully says that Boggs may be headed for a bad place, but Bill isn’t there, and Mulder won’t be. Boggs continues to refuse to give her what she wants until he’s gotten a deal. Scully says she doesn’t believe him. Boggs calls her a liar, then reminds her that he either knows how to find James and Henry or he can channel someone who can tell him. Either way, he’s Scully’s only hope.
Scully meets with the prison warden, who refuses to cut any deal with a convicted murderer who seems to still be committing crimes. Scully then visits Mulder in the hospital, lamenting that they’re running out of time. He warns her not to believe Boggs; he’d love to get revenge on Scully for what Mulder did to him. Scully thinks there might be another explanation. Mulder tells her again not to play Boggs’ game. He might be targeting Scully as his final victim.
But Scully goes back to Boggs, telling him he got his deal. He tells her that James and Henry are in a condemned factory, the Blue Devil Brewery. Scully doesn’t buy it, and Boggs tells her he knows she lied about the deal. As she leaves, he tells her, “Avoid the devil. Don’t follow Henry to the devil. Leave that to me.”
James and Henry are, in fact, in a condemned building, and just as Henry is about to finish James off, Scully arrives with another rescue team. She shoots Henry when he won’t drop his weapon, then chases him through the building. She finds him near a painting of a blue devil and stops. Good thing, too, because the floor gives out and Henry falls to his death.
Scully visits Boggs one more time, telling him that she believes that if he’d been involved in the kidnapping, Henry would have known not to go near the blue devil. Boggs’ information saved both James and Scully. Boggs tells her that if she comes to his execution that night, he’ll give her Bill’s final message.
Boggs has his last meal, seeing the ghosts of his family. His other victims’ ghosts again line the hallway as he’s led to the chair. The only person not present is Scully, who’s with Mulder. She’s realized that if Boggs knew they were partners, he could have gotten any information he wanted on Scully. “Dana,” Mulder says, “after all you’ve seen, after all the evidence, why can’t you believe?” Scully admits that she’s afraid to. Mulder notes that she couldn’t face the fear even if it meant knowing what her father wanted to say. Scully replies that she does know: “He was my father.”
Thoughts: I imagine that when this episode aired, the FOX execs who’s protested Gillian Anderson’s casting felt a little embarrassed.
It’s hard to pick my favorite part of this episode, because the whole thing is excellent, but it might be the fact that when Boggs “channels” for the first time, Scully and Mulder just stare at him like they see this all the time and he’s not particularly impressive.
Scully asking her mother if her father was proud of her made me think of Cole’s mother asking him if she makes her own mother proud in The Sixth Sense. (If you’ve never seen that scene, grab some Kleenex first.)
Stone angels? Doctor Who fans just shuddered.