November 29, 2015
The X-Files 2.3, Blood: Fear Factors
Summary: The postal center in Franklin, Pennsylvania, is a happening place. An employee named Ed is moving letters along quickly when he accidentally cuts himself. Ed’s boss pulls him aside to give the bad news that he’s being let go. Ed’s work has been great; it’s just a case of needing to make cutbacks. His parting gift is $100. Ed goes back to finish his task, typing zip codes into a computer. “KILL” flashes on the readout. Ed pauses, then goes back to his job. “KILL” comes up again, then “KILL ‘EM,” and finally, “KILL ‘EM ALL.”
At Franklin’s Civic Center, a bunch of people are crammed into an elevator together. One man sees “NO AIR” on the display screen. Then he sees “CAN’T BREATHE” and “KILL ‘EM ALL.” Later, the building’s lobby is designated a crime scene, and Mulder is summoned to investigate. A murder suspect is dead, having been shot by a security guard, and witnesses from the elevator are at the hospital. Mulder checks out the elevator, which has bloody handprints on the walls. He notices scratches on the display screen.
Mulder gives the exposition that a man murdered four people on the elevator with his bare hands. Franklin’s sheriff, Spencer, says that seven people in Franklin have killed 22 in the past six months. The murderers were all killed by police because they refused to submit to arrests. None were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Mulder examines this crime’s culprit, noticing that he has something dark on his finger.
Ed uses a bank ATM, pausing when he sees a mother tending to a little girl with a nosebleed. “SECURITY GUARD” pops up on the ATM screen, then “TAKE HIS GUN.” Ed hesitates, growing distressed when the screen displays “KILL ‘EM ALL.” He beats on the screen a little, then runs away. The security guard doesn’t see anything strange on the machine.
Mulder tries to find a connection between the seven murders, sending the cases to Scully at Quantico. The suspects were all acting slightly strangely before the murders, and there were no reports of abductions before they started killing. Mulder’s struggling to develop a profile or determine who the next killer will be. He also can’t figure out who might be the next victim.
A woman goes to a mechanic to pick up her car, growing nervous when the mechanic summons her over to look at a problem he found. He shows her a diagnostic test on a screen, then asks her to look under the hood with him. “LIAR,” the screen informs the woman as the mechanic lists some problems. “HE’LL RAPE YOU. HE’LL KILL YOU,” the screen warns. “KILL HIM FIRST.” The woman picks up a wrench and attacks the mechanic. He defends himself with another tool, but she finishes him off.
Mulder checks out the new crime scene, meeting Larry Winter, the county supervisor. Winter’s worried that this murder is connected to the other crimes in Franklin. Spencer says no, but Mulder says yes. Mulder and Spencer go to see Mrs. McRoberts, the woman from the garage. “HE KNOWS,” her microwave display warns her. “KILL ‘EM BOTH.” Mulder doesn’t see anything strange. Mrs. McRoberts says she broke the dashboard readout. She grabs a knife and goes after Mulder. Even after Mulder tells him not to, Spencer shoots Mrs. McRoberts.
Scully performs Mrs. McRoberts’ autopsy, finding a hemorrhaged adrenal gland. The body also shows “episodes of intense phobia” and an undetermined compound that was also found on the finger of the killer from the elevator. Scully thinks that compound, when combined with adrenaline, produces a substance similar to LSD.
Ed goes to a department store to apply for a job, but they’re not hiring. He sees a sign advertising for a blood drive, but gets nervous when a woman asks him to sign up. He approaches a display full of TVs, which start changing channels. They show him footage of Charles Manson, someone being beaten, and O.J.’s white Bronco. “BEHIND YOU,” a screen says. Ed turns to see guns. “DO IT!” the TVs order. He slowly approaches the guns.
Mulder goes for a jog and sees a man disposing of a bunch of dead flies. He takes one to the Lone Gunmen, who tell him about the CIA using teeny cameras small enough to put on the back of a fly. This fly is known for destroying crops and was probably irradiated. Frohike confirms this. He asks after Scully, describing her as “tasty.” “It’s men like you that give perversion a bad name,” Mulder replies.
The guys are familiar with LSDM, the compound Scully observed. It’s been used as an insecticide to produce a fear response in pests to drive them away from crops. It may have the same effect on humans. The guys show Mulder footage of DDT sprayings in the ’50s, implying that the government is doing the same now with LSDM and just keeping it quiet.
Mulder borrows some night-vision goggles and stakes out a field in Franklin. He’s in the right place at the wrong time when a helicopter passes overhead, spraying something on the crops. He tells Winter and Spencer what happened, but they think he’s seeing something “spooky” in a perfectly normal situation. Mulder warns that if an unsafe pesticide is being used near innocent people, Winter’s responsible for whatever happens. Winter argues that they had to kill the flies and use a new pesticide to save the crops, which are the county’s main source of income. He’s sure it’s safe.
Scully’s finally allowed to be in the same room with Mulder, and she tells him there’s no proof that he’s been affected by LSDM. As Scully and Spencer talk, Mulder sees “DO IT” flash on a TV screen. He thinks subliminal messages are connected to the case. Every killer destroyed an electronic device, and all were confronted with a fear (the killer in the elevator was claustrophobic; Mrs. McRoberts was scared of being raped). Mulder thinks someone relayed targeted messages to heighten their fears.
Scully thinks Mulder’s just paranoid, but Mulder’s guess is that the people in Franklin are being subjected to an experiment. They’re being distracted from something else. Spencer reports that Winter has agreed to suspend the pesticide spraying and run blood tests on those who have been exposed. But the nature of the testing can’t be revealed. Instead, the county runs ads for cholesterol screenings, urging residents to submit when testers come to their doors.
Ed is jumping when a tester comes by, and he closes the blinds to pretend no one’s home. “BLOOD” his TV says. He breaks it as the tester rings his doorbell over and over. Ed calmly locks up his gun, then sees “BLOOD” on his calculator’s readout and “KILL” on his watch. The agents go to Ed’s house to follow up on his failure to submit to a “cholesterol” test and discover that he’s disconnected his doorbell. Inside, they find all of his electronics smashed. His gun case is now empty.
As the police check out the house, Mulder realizes that Ed’s watch was smashed right around the time the “cholesterol” tester came by. He thinks he knows what Ed’s afraid of. Meanwhile, Ed boards a bus to the hospital, gun in tow. “THEY’RE WAITING,” a screen tells him. “GET OFF.” He tries to get the bus driver to let him off, but the driver tells him to wait for the next stop. The police stake out the stop at the hospital, but Ed doesn’t get off the bus. The driver reports that he got off near a college.
Said college is hosting the blood drive, and a digital sign there tells Ed to climb up a clock tower. Mulder heads over while Scully waits at the hospital. Ed loads his gun and fires off a couple of shots. Mulder quickly spots him and runs to stop him. He tells Ed to drop his gun, but Ed says “they” won’t let him – Mulder will have to make him. Mulder warns that this will only end in blood, which he knows Ed doesn’t like.
Ed panics when he sees blood seeping through the bandage over the place where Mrs. McRoberts cut Mulder. Mulder’s able to use the distraction to overpower Ed. He asks Spencer for access to Ed for questioning, but Spencer points out that Mulder knows more about what happened than Ed does. Mulder starts to use his phone, seeing that the display reads, “ALL DONE. BYE BYE.”
Thoughts: Ed is played by William Sanderson, Larry (of Larry, Darryl, and Darryl fame) from Newhart. Kind of weird casting, no? Beloved sitcom actor as a would-be murderer?
You know what’s boring? Episodes where Mulder and Scully barely interact.
This episode is also a good example of why clock towers are bad ideas, especially on college campuses.
So why was Mulder able to figure out what was going on? And what did the “DO IT” message refer to? What’s his phobia, other than fire? Discuss.