December 13, 2015
The X-Files 2.5, Duane Barry: B.S. Must Stand for Barely Sane
Summary: It’s 1985 in Pulaski, Virginia. A dog wanders around a half-abandoned house before settling down with a sleeping man. When the man’s TV picture cuts out, the dog realizes that someone else is in the house. Its owner suddenly wakes up and says he can’t breathe. He’s surrounded by bright lights and what look like aliens. “Not again,” he laments as the light engulfs him, shooting out the top of the house. The dog is no Lassie – it left the house alone and just barks helplessly as its owner is seemingly beamed up to a spaceship.
Nine years later, the abductee, Duane Barry, is a guest at Davis Correctional Treatment Center in Marion, Virginia. He meets with his doctor, Hakkie, who questions his refusal to take his medication. He’s supposed to take it to keep from hurting anyone (and probably also to stop hearing voices in his head). Duane’s agitated, worried that someone’s coming after him. Hakkie prepares to give him a sedative, but Duane hightails it out of the office before he can. He knocks out a guard, steals his gun, and takes Hakkie hostage so he can leave the facility.
In D.C., it’s time for the infamous red Speedo scene! Krycek finds Mulder at a pool and tells him there’s a hostage situation they need to deal with. They’ve been summoned because the hostage-taker claims he’s being controlled by aliens. When the agents arrive on the busy scene, they meet the negotiation commander, Lucy Kazdin. She’s operating under the assumption that Duane isn’t afraid to die. He’s demanding safe passage for himself and Hakkie to the site of an alien abduction. Only Duane doesn’t remember where the site is, so he’s made a pit stop at a travel agency.
Kazdin continues that Duane is lucid but manic. He’s talking about homing devices the aliens are using to find him. Kazdin and another agent, Rich, are ready to take Mulder through the hostage-negotiation process. They clearly don’t believe in aliens, but they’re focused on saving people’s lives, so that part isn’t important to them. Mulder insists that he needs to know about Duane’s personal history so he can get through to him. Kazdin tells him to just keep Duane on the phone and keep him from killing Hakkie or his three new hostages.
At the travel agency, Duane has already lost his patience with his hostages (Bob, Kimberly, and Gwen). Hakkie speaks to him calmly, asking him not to hurt anyone. Duane says he won’t – he’s going to take Hakkie with him so Hakkie can see that he’s been telling the truth. Mulder calls, using a pad full of phrases and the buzzwords “honesty,” “conciliation,” “containment,” and “resolution” to have a let’s-all-just-calm-down conversation with Duane. He claims that he understands what Duane’s going through. Duane finds that ridiculous.
This is apparently not a new experience for Duane, who can see Mulder in the building next door and knows all the buzzwords he’s supposed to keep in mind. Duane warns that if the agents try anything stupid to end the situation, he’ll kill everyone. As Duane hangs up, Mulder realizes that he’s a former FBI agent. He thinks Kazdin failed to mention this because the bureau is trying to “minimize its embarrassment.” Rich insists that their method works, but Mulder says they need to try to understand what Duane’s afraid of. He storms out, but Krycek offers to help in his place. Kazdin asks him to get her coffee. Hee.
Mulder calls Scully, who’s been watching coverage of the hostage situation on TV. He asks her to look into Duane’s past to get details on his abduction experience. Suddenly power goes out in the buildings Mulder and Duane are in. Then there’s a bright flash of light, followed by gunshots. When things settle down, Mulder calls Duane to ask if anyone’s been shot. Bob has, so Duane asks for a doctor.
Mulder gets suited up to enter the building, with a bulletproof vest and equipment so he can communicate with the rest of the negotiation team. He’s going in disguised as a medic (and, fortunately, with an agent with actual medical training). Mulder and the other agent, Janus, head next door and undergo patdowns so Duane can make sure they’re unarmed. Janus tends to Bob while Mulder asks Duane to let Kimberly and Gwen go. Then he asks if the light they saw was the aliens. He knows they lost time during the flash.
Duane has his own flashes, remembering his abduction in 1985. He tells Mulder that the doctors think he’s made everything up. Mulder insists that he believes Duane, which Kazdin warns is a bad tactic. Mulder ignores her, continuing that he’s talked to other abductees; no one ever wants to believe them. Janus tells Mulder that Bob will die without medical treatment. Mulder manages to convince Duane to let Bob go, but Mulder will have to stay behind in his place. “Now let’s see how good a liar you are,” Duane says.
Mulder tells Duane that he knows what he’s going through because the same thing happened to his sister. Duane demands honesty and respect, not the typical B.S. he always gets. But Mulder knows exactly what he goes through when he’s abducted. He asks for details, like the size of the aliens and whether they take him to a ship. Duane remembers being beamed up to the ship from his bed. He tells Mulder that the aliens talk to him without speaking and can read his mind. Mulder says it’s called mindscan. Duane always says he doesn’t want to go, but the aliens never listen.
Mulder knows that Duane undergoes tests on the ship, and Duane confirms that they drill holes in his teeth. We get a nice shot of this memory to haunt us forever. Meanwhile, the negotiation team is in the next office, trying to make a hole in the wall. Scully calls, hoping to talk to Mulder, and learns from Krycek that he traded himself for a hostage. Scully insists that they get Mulder out of there before he gets killed – Duane isn’t who Mulder thinks he is.
Back in the travel agency, Duane tells Mulder that he’s seen kids undergoing tests on the ship (implying that Samantha could have been one of them). They don’t notice a hole silently being drilled in the wall. Duane tells Mulder that some of the tests are painful enough to make you want to die. “It’s like living with a gun to your head, and never knowing when it’s going to go off,” he says. Mulder asks him to release Hakkie, Gwen, and Kimberly, and just keep him. Duane says he wouldn’t do that to Mulder.
The team snakes a camera through the hole so they can see where all the hostages are. Scully arrives and tells Kazdin that Duane is psychotic thanks to a 1982 shooting. Like Phineas Gage, who suffered a similar injury in the 1800s, Duane has become a pathological liar. He now has delusions and acts out his fantasies, often violently. Kazdin tells Scully that Duane has Mulder totally fooled. Scully asks to speak to Mulder.
Next door, Duane tells Mulder that the government knows about the abductions. In fact, they’re in on them, along with the military and a secret corporation. Mulder tells him that Duane needs to figure out how to resolve the hostage situation. He needs to tell the agents what he wants to do. Duane says he wants to go back to where this all first started – a mountain. The aliens took him high up, “ascending to the stars.”
Through Mulder’s earpiece, Scully tells her former partner that he can’t trust Duane. Scully tells him that Duane is a “brain-damaged psychopath” and could turn violent at any moment. Mulder asks Duane how the aliens find him. Duane shows him the spots where they inserted tracking devices. Mulder asks him again to let Gwen and Kimberly go. Scully warns Mulder that if he can’t get Duane to let the women go, the team is going to “executive a tactical plan.”
Duane agrees to let Kimberly and Gwen go, but not Hakkie. Kimberly pauses to tell Duane that she believes him. The team gets ready to enter the room, and Scully warns Mulder that they’re on their way. Duane asks for transportation, but he doesn’t know where they’re going, since the aliens haven’t told him yet. Mulder sees a sight from a gun and gets Duane out of the line of fire without letting him know anyone’s there. He asks if Duane is making up his story. This makes Duane mad, thinking he can’t trust Mulder anymore.
With his communication to the negotiation team now out, Mulder tells Duane that when he let Gwen and Kimberly leave, he left the door unlocked. He gets Duane to lock it so the aliens can’t get in. This puts him back in the line of fire. Someone takes a shot and everything goes dark. When Duane regains consciousness, he’s being loaded into an ambulance. Scully tells Mulder that he did the right thing. Mulder says that he believed Duane. Scully replies that sometimes when you want to believe something badly, you look too hard.
The next day, Kazdin summons Mulder to a hospital in Richmond to thank him for defusing the hostage situation. She reports that Duane (who’s still alive) had an exemplary record before his shooting, which happened with his own weapon. Afterward, he lost everything. Kazdin reports that pieces of metal appeared on Duane’s x-rays in the same spots he said the aliens left tracking devices. Dentists said that the pieces in his teeth couldn’t have been inserted with any of the equipment currently in use.
Scully examines one of the implants, wondering if it’s shrapnel from the time Duane spent in Vietnam. She has it examined in more detail and is able to see markings etched on the implant. They look similar to a barcode. As Scully’s shopping for groceries later, she gets an idea and swipes the implant over the scanner. The readout goes haywire.
In the hospital, Duane wakes to see aliens on the other side of the curtain in his room. He uses a fire extinguisher to knock out the police officer guarding him, then runs off. Scully leaves Mulder a message from her apartment, telling him about the scanner. A number came up, almost like a serial number. She thinks it was used to catalog Duane. Suddenly she sees Duane outside her window. As he breaks into her apartment, she yells into Mulder’s machine that she needs his help. To be continued…
Thoughts: Kazdin is played by C.C.H. Pounder, who’s perfect in this role.
According to David Duchovny, the red Speedo was his real suit, and it was his idea to wear it. He now regrets that decision.
Duane likes to talk about himself in the third person, often using his full name. Is that a side effect of the abductions? Was Bob Dole abducted by aliens??
Yeah, I’m never going to the dentist again. Or a travel agency, not that I was planning to use one.
Scully running away at the grocery store cracks me up. The cashier’s like, “What happened? Did you screw with something?” and Scully’s all, “I didn’t do anything! ‘Bye!”