October 4, 2015
The X-Files 1.19, Shapes: Werewolf? Therewolf
Summary: It’s storming as two men on Two Medicine Ranch in Browning, Montana, head outside with guns and flashlights. One of them finds a dead cow outside a barn. He’s attacked by some sort of growling creature, which the other man shoots. But suddenly the creature isn’t a creature – it’s a Native American man. Mulder and Scully are called in to question the shooter, Jim Parker, but they’re not allowed to talk about the lawsuit he’s filed against the Trego Indian Nation. Jim thinks he’s being accused of murdering Joseph Goodensnake, a member of the Trego tribe.
Jim tells the agents to examine his son, Lyle, who he saved from the creature. Jim insists that he only shot because he thought Lyle was going to be killed. If Joseph killed the cow, then Jim is sorry about how things turned out, but he thinks this is the end of the story. Alone with Mulder and Scully, Lyle tells them that he’s felt for a while that he’s been watched by something that wasn’t human. The animals seemed quieter than usual. “It was like nature herself was terrified,” he says.
Scully checks out the scene of the shooting, deciding that Jim couldn’t have mistaken Joseph for an animal at such close range. She wonders why they were called in to investigate such a normal-seeming case. Mulder follows a set of footprints that turn into paw prints. He also finds what looks like skin, though Joseph’s body showed no indications that any of his skin was missing.
The agents go to the Trego reservation to meet Sheriff Charles Tskany. No one wants to help them find him, since the FBI hasn’t proven to be helpful to Native Americans in the past (i.e., Wounded Knee). An elderly man tells Mulder that the FBI doesn’t believe in Native Americans, so why should they believe in the FBI? “I want to believe,” Mulder says, of course. He asks for help finding information on something that could leave human tracks, then animal tracks. The man says Jim killed that something.
A woman blurts out that that the Tregos are too scared of a legend to help find Joseph’s killer. She’s Gwen, Joseph’s sister. She’s also not too happy with the FBI, who never help when they’re needed, but show up when they need help. Tskany has arrived, and he takes the agents to his office, which is guarded by two Tregos. Tskany explains that they’re guardians of the dead who escort souls to the next world. Mulder asks about the legend Gwen mentioned, but Tskany doesn’t want to teach Tregos 101. He’s only following the law and letting the agents examine Joseph’s body.
As the agents get to work, Tskany tells them that the Parkers and Goodensnakes were fighting over land boundaries. The Goodensnakes felt that the Parkers’ cows were grazing on their land, so they filed a lawsuit. Scully sees wounds on Joseph’s body, but they’re not from the night he died. Mulder looks in Joseph’s mouth and sees fangs. He asks for Joseph’s dental records, which don’t show fangs. Scully thinks they can be explained away by calcium deposits.
Tskany and Scully figure that Jim mistook Joseph for an animal. Mulder wants to do an autopsy to see if there are any other abnormalities in Joseph’s body. Tskany refuses – if they anger the body, Joseph’s soul won’t be able to move on. Mulder asks Tskany if he believes Joseph’s spirit is in the room with his body. Tskany’s more concerned with answering to his people than the FBI. They can keep investigating, but they’ll have to do it without Joseph’s body.
Mulder and Scully watch preparations for Joseph’s funeral, discussing why they’re really on this investigation. Mulder reveals that the first X-File, initiated by J. Edgar Hoover in 1946, involved people shredded by what seemed to be an animal. The offending animal was cornered and shot, but a human body was found. Hoover locked up the case and never brought it up, since it was so bizarre. But more killings have occurred every eight years, and can be traced back as far as the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Long story short: Mulder thinks they’re dealing with werewolves. Scully tells him that’s impossible, and lycanthropy is just psychosis. Even if Joseph was able to transform into an animal – and that’s a big if – he’s dead and his body is about to be burned: “End of mystery.” The agents approach the ceremony, but Gwen doesn’t want them there. She tells Scully that Joseph was her only family. She’s supposed to give away all his things to show her sorrow, so she gives Scully what looks like a paw.
Mulder asks Tskany his opinion of what really happened, off the record. Tskany’s on Team Scully – it doesn’t matter, and Joseph’s dead, so the agents should go home. Mulder asks if Tskany believes in shapeshifting. Tskany’s like, “Maybe this isn’t the right time and place to talk about this crap?” The ceremony takes place after dark, and Lyle makes an appearance to show his respects. Gwen and Tskany tell him to leave. Lyle says that he wishes more than anything that Joseph could be there.
At the Parkers’ ranch, Jim’s outside smoking when the wind suddenly stops. He’s attacked by the same creature that attacked Lyle, only this time there’s no one there to kill it. Now Mulder and Scully have another body to examine. Tskany reveals that Gwen and Lyle both disappeared after the funeral. Mulder finds a clump of fur and more skin. Scully’s spooked by a caged mountain lion, then finds another body.
Tskany pulls a claw out of Jim’s body, and Mulder notes that it’s not from any animal he’s familiar with. Scully brings Lyle to the crime scene; he’s alive but appears to have spent the night outside. She takes him to the hospital while Tskany tells Mulder that he thought the killings were over. Mulder guesses that he was trying to cover things up, and thought it would all end after Joseph’s body was cremated. Tskany doesn’t know what’s going on, but he knows someone who can help.
At the hospital, Lyle tells Scully that he got drunk and passed out (uh, naked). He didn’t talk to Jim, but he had a vision of Jim sitting on the front porch. Scully tells him that Jim’s dead, trying to pull on her own experiences to offer sympathy. Lyle worries that his presence at Joseph’s funeral caused the Tregos to retaliate.
Tskany takes Mulder to see the elderly man, Ish, who was a witness to the 1946 killings. Ish is pleased that Mulder, unlike other FBI agents, is open to Native American legends. He explains that Watkins, the 1946 victim, was attacked by a Manitou, an evil spirit that can turn a human into a beast. A Manitou’s victim can be normal until he’s overtaken by a desire to kill. Ish saw Watkins as the Manitou, and almost gave in to Watkins’ pleas to kill him, but he was too scared.
Mulder wonders how the attacks could continue if Watkins was killed. Ish says that Watkins’ son also had the characteristics of his father. Tskany wonders where it started, if the condition can be passed through bloodlines. Gwen could have it, and could have killed Jim. The three men hurry off, managing to catch Gwen as she’s stealing Ish’s car. She admits that she was going to mess with Lyle after the funeral, and when she got to the Parkers’ ranch, she saw Jim being killed.
Mulder calls the hospital to talk to Scully, who’s on her way back to the ranch with Lyle. A doctor tells Mulder that there’s something “unsettling” in Lyle’s blood – traces of Jim’s blood type. This could only happen if Lyle had ingested Jim’s blood. Mulder and Tskany hurry to the ranch, where Scully has brought Lyle home. He feels sick…sick with BLOODLUST! Out come fangs, claws, and fur. Apparently Scully can’t hear Lyle growling through the door (or maybe she just thinks he’s throwing up).
When Mulder gets to the ranch, the house is quiet. He sees scratches on the wall. Outside, Tskany finds the mountain lion, who doesn’t appreciate having visitors. Mulder sees a furry creature running through the house and shoots at it. He follows it upstairs, where he finds an unharmed Scully. She’s not sure what happened, but she’s lost her gun. The agents creep around for a while until Lyle leaps at them and Tskany shoots him. Scully’s shocked that Lyle was the creature – she thought they were attacked by the mountain lion.
As Tskany’s saying goodbye to the agents the next day, he tells them that Gwen is moving away. She doesn’t have family on the reservation anymore, and the legal issues with the Parkers are obviously no longer a concern. Tskany thinks she was also so spooked by Jim’s attack that she wants to get away. Ish tells Mulder that he’ll see him again in about eight years, not realizing that David Duchovny will barely be on the show in eight years, so no, he won’t.
Thoughts: Ugh, werewolves. The only werewolf I’ve ever cared about is Oz from Buffy.
Apparently the Manitou as believed by the Algonquins is not a furry, fanged creature that wants to kill you. So…the writers couldn’t have come up with a different word here?
No one seems concerned that the Parkers have a caged mountain lion on their ranch. Is that not a weird thing on a ranch? Maybe everyone’s just glad it’s in a cage.