February 21, 2016
The X-Files 2.15, Fresh Bones: That Voodoo That You Do So Well
Summary: Folkstone, North Carolina, looks like a nice little town. But in one house, the morning isn’t off to a good start. The husband, Jack McAlpin, is an angry Marine. His wife takes care of their toddler son alone and endures her husband’s anger. Looks like someone has PTSD. Though I’m not sure that explains his hallucinations of maggots in his cereal bowl. McAlpin takes off in the family car, seeing a decaying face in his rearview mirror. Taking his eyes off the road means he’s unable to keep from crashing the car into a tree marked with a weird symbol.
A few days later, Mulder and Scully head to Folkstone, reading up on McAlpin. His death has been ruled a suicide, since he had no drugs or alcohol in his system and didn’t try to steer away from the tree. This is the second recent suicide of Marines from the same base. The base is also home to thousands of refugees; recently, a ten-year-old boy died during a riot. The military refused Mrs. McAlpin’s requests to investigate her husband’s death, so she contacted the FBI on her own.
The agents check out the tree and its symbol, which Scully thinks is ritualistic. Mulder notes that most of the refugees on base are Haitian. Mrs. McAlpin thinks one of them killed her husband. The agents next visit Mrs. McAlpin, who says that her husband started getting angry after working at the refugee camp. He wouldn’t talk to anyone about his problems. Mulder asks if he believed in voodoo. Yes, Mulder, a white Marine in North Carolina practiced voodoo.
Mrs. McAlpin reports that a Marine named Harry Dunham told her the symbol on the tree was also found on the stool another Marine used to hang himself. Dunham is from New Orleans and has some superstitions about voodoo. Mrs. McAlpin found a large seashell in the sandbox, and guess what symbol is carved on it?
At the refugee camp/INS processing center, refugees mill around under military guard. A refugee yells something at Scully, and a young boy chases him off, then offers Scully a lucky charm made of cloth. Scully’s spooked, but Mulder buys the charm. The agents meet with Colonel Wharton, who thinks his Marines are absorbing too much hatred from the refugees. Wharton can’t do anything other than try to process the refugees quickly.
Mulder asks about the symbol, which Wharton doesn’t think is connected to the Marines’ deaths. However, he blames voodoo for the riot that killed the boy; the refugees had performed a ritual that same night. He thinks a refugee named Pierre Beauvais incited the riot. Scully heads to the camp’s makeshift morgue to look at McAlpin’s body, which hasn’t been autopsied yet since his cause of death was obvious, but it’s been replaced by a dead animal.
Mulder is led to Beauvais by Dunham, the Marine Mrs. McAlpin mentioned. He “can’t say” what he thinks is going on. Beauvais isn’t any more helpful when Mulder asks what he knows about the Marines’ deaths. After all, he’s been locked up. Mulder asks about the symbol, hoping Beauvais can help Mrs. McAlpin find some peace. Beauvais says the symbol is the loco-miroir, “the crossroads between the two worlds.” It’s a mirror where a man has to confront his true self. “These Marines – maybe they didn’t like what they saw,” Beauvais says.
Mulder asks about the riot, and Beauvais says the refugees just want freedom. They want to go home, and Wharton won’t let them. Scully arrives, and before she can tell Mulder that McAlpin’s body is gone, Beauvais tells him. “They will only warn you once. After that, no magic can save you,” he says. Back in their car, Scully guesses that Beauvais had the body switched with an animal corpse. Mulder’s hoping the lucky charm he bought will offer some protection. Scully almost drives them into a person standing in the middle of the road…a person who turns out to be McAlpin.
After a doctor’s exam, the agents learn that McAlpin has amnesia, probably from a head injury suffered in his car crash. Scully thinks there’s a reasonable explanation for his having been declared dead: Someone just screwed up. However, he has a large amount of a toxic substance in his bloodstream, the kind you could only get from eating a ton of pufferfish. Mulder: “He’s a zombie!” No, seriously – someone at Harvard did a study on the same poison in Haiti, which he said led to zombification. In smaller doses, a victim could declare clinically dead.
Now Mulder wonders if the other Marine, Guttierez, is really dead, so he and Scully go to the cemetery. An employee tells them the body has already been stolen. Body-snatchers in the area often sell the bodies to medical schools, but sometimes to people who practice voodoo. Nearby, the three see someone digging up another grave – it’s the boy who sold them the charm. And he’s not digging up the grave; he’s just scooping up frogs.
The agents take the boy to a restaurant, asking how he’s able to get in and out of the camp. He says he just does. The kid, Chester, gets 50 cents per frog from Beauvais. Scully says some frogs produce the toxin found in McAlpin’s blood, so Beauvais could be behind what happened. Mulder tells her that he thinks they’re being followed.
He heads outside to find Dunham, who wants to warn the agents about something, but not with Chester around. He reveals that Beauvais threatened to take the Marines one by one if Wharton didn’t release the refugees. Instead, Wharton ordered beatings. Dunham is horrified by the sorts of things the Marines have been ordered to do. He says Beauvais threatened to take their souls. Dunham has experience with voodoo curses; after his fiancée’s father screwed someone on a real estate deal, she died on their wedding day and snakes were found inside her.
After Dunham leaves, Scully says that he’s just afraid because of his superstitions. Mulder wonders why he wants to avoid Chester, who has headed back to the camp on his own. The agents track him down, but he disappears on a dock. All Mulder finds is a cat (leading to one of my favorite Tumblr posts, pictured above). Back on base, Wharton tells the agents that he filed a complaint with the Justice Department because they tried to have Guttierez exhumed. Not that it matters, since the body’s gone. Scully thinks it’s retaliation for the way Wharton has treated the refugees.
Wharton laughs off Beauvais’ accusations, saying that the Marines are the real victims. After the agents leave, Wharton starts to eat his breakfast, but his ham appears to be bleeding. Also bleeding: Scully, who cuts her hand trying to start the car. She finds a thorny branch stuck in the steering wheel but brushes it off as a scare tactic. As she and Mulder drive off, we see the symbol drawn on the ground under the car. Meanwhile, Wharton pays Beauvais a visit, demanding the “secret.”
Mulder finds a playing card – the 10 of diamonds – in his hotel room, which means Mr. X wants to meet him on County Road 10. He’s surprised that Mr. X still wants to work with him, considering their last encounter. Mr. X warns that in the next 24 hours, he and Scully will be sent back to D.C., and only military personnel will have access to Folkstone. “The Statue of Liberty is on vacation,” he says.
Mulder wonders why the refugees haven’t just been sent someone else. Mr. X reports that two of Wharton’s Marines committed suicide in Haiti. Mulder thinks the military is allowing Wharton to get revenge. If Congress knew, he thinks they would object, because the government always cares about people from other countries! Oh, silly Mulder. Mr. X warns that soon it will be as if nothing has happened in Folkstone.
Scully tries to get in touch with Dunham, checking out the wound on her hand. She goes to Mulder’s motel room to tell him that Dunham has been reported AWOL. But guess what – he’s been found. Unfortunately, he’s been found by Scully, bloody, in Mulder’s bathtub. Also, he’s dead. Mulder has also made his own discovery: McAlpin, who’s been hanging around the motel with a bloody knife.
On base, the agents question McAlpin, who doesn’t remember anything from the past few days except the feeling of being asleep and not being able to wake up. He signed a confession to Dunham’s murder, most likely at Wharton’s urging. The agents ask Wharton if McAlpin has been in contact with Beauvais since his return to the base. Wharton says no, and also, Beauvais committed suicide the night before. HOW CONVENIENT.
Scully has a headache, but I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with the thorny branch. The agents head to McAlpin’s house, where his wife says that he wouldn’t have killed Dunham, who was his friend. McAlpin left the house to see the agents, and told his wife that if anything happened to him, she should give them a sealed envelope. It contains a picture of both Wharton and Beauvais in Haiti.
The agents let themselves in Wharton’s office, where they find complaints Dunham and Guttierez filed against the colonel concerning abuse. The paperwork has been decorated with what looks like chicken feet. The agents also find someone’s dog tags. A Marine catches them in the office, and Mulder tells him that Wharton killed Beauvais; if the Marine was involved, he’ll be tried as an accomplice. Scully adds that Wharton tried to kill Guttierez and McAlpin to stop them from testifying against him.
Mulder tells the Marine to look in a trunk for proof. The trunk contains bones that Mulder thinks were Guttierez. Wharton has also been holding on to Guttierez’s dog tags. The Marine says they buried Beauvais that afternoon. Wharton is still there, surrounded by candles as he unearths Beauvais’ coffin. He’s doing what I guess is supposed to be a voodoo ritual when the agents arrive.
Scully doesn’t feel well, so she sends Mulder off ahead. Her wound looks worse, and her mouth is filling with blood. Something clear oozes out of her hand, followed by hands. Apparently someone was hiding inside her hand. That might be the weirdest sentence I’ve ever written. Mulder approaches Wharton, who says something in Creole in a demonic voice. He stabs his knife into the ground, resurrecting Beauvais. Beauvais attacks him, saying that people who do evil will see evil.
In the car, Scully reaches for the lucky charm as the man from her hand says something in French. When she grabs the charm, the man disappears. She feels better, and hey, there’s a cat on the hood of the car that she can snuggle with. She catches up to Mulder, who was knocked out during the Wharton/Beauvais confrontation and doesn’t know what happened. Wharton is dead, and Mulder says Beauvais was responsible, though he’s in his coffin.
At the base the next day, Scully checks out a passenger manifest but can’t find Chester’s name. Apparently he was the kid who died in the riot six weeks earlier. OH, FOR THE LOVE OF. At the cemetery, the gravedigger fills in Wharton’s grave, unable to hear the man inside yelling to be let out.
Thoughts: Wharton is played by Daniel Benzali.
This episode is both offensive AND dumb. That’s quite the accomplishment.
When I die, please replace my body with a dog’s. You know, just to liven things up.
So Wharton is Pharoah, and Beauvais is both Moses and God? And hey, both stories contain frogs and blood!
I thought the end twist with Chester might happen, but I didn’t think the show would actually go there. Clearly I underestimated the dumbness of this episode.