April 2, 2016
The X-Files 2.21, The Calusari: Superstition Ain’t the Way
Summary: In Murray, Virginia’s Lincoln Park, a boy named Charlie Holvey is admiring a train. His toddler brother, Teddy, loses his balloon, then his ice cream cone. His parents replace the balloon with Charlie’s, which is pretty crappy. Charlie demands his balloon back as his mother takes Teddy to get cleaned up. Mr. Holvey angrily says they’ll get him a new balloon.
In the restroom, Mrs. Holvey straps the toddler to something while she uses the toilet. He loses the balloon again (sheesh, this kid). When Mrs. Holvey emerges, Teddy’s gone. Charlie looks on as Teddy follows his balloon onto the train tracks. Mr. and Mrs. Holvey are helpless as they watch the conductor try and fail to slow down the train. Teddy gets smushed. So…that’s disturbing. Charlie’s unmoved, but at least he got his balloon back.
Three months after the incident, Mulder and Scully are at a lab at the University of Maryland, looking at a photo taken just seconds before Teddy’s death. The medical examiner was disturbed by the case and called Mulder in. He finds it strange that the balloon, which was filled with helium, was moving in a way it shouldn’t have. Mulder might not know a lot, but he knows that helium makes a balloon go up, not to the side. “Did you learn about wind in kindergarten?” Scully replies.
Mulder says the balloon moved against the wind, so he called in a man named Chuck Burk, who’s an expert at digital imaging. Chuck enhances the photo to show electromagnetic energy under the balloon. Scully thinks the men believe a ghost used the balloon to lure Teddy to the tracks so he would be killed.
Scully asks if the camera used for the photo could have produced a false image, but of course Mulder’s not going to entertain that idea. Mulder continues that Teddy escaped the halter his mother used to tie him to the sink. Since the kid was only two and probably not Houdini reincarnated, that’s another wrinkle in the situation.
In Arlington, a woman watches from outside as the agents visit the Holveys’ home. The parents think their son’s death was an accident and nothing more. The fire in the fireplace flares up as Charlie appears in the doorway. Scully follows him, seeing him on a staircase with an older woman who’s drawing a symbol on his hand (and since the symbol includes a swastika, this can’t be good). Mrs. Holvey explains that her mother came to live with the family after Teddy was born.
The smoke detector goes off, ending the conversation. The lights then go out, and when they come back on, Mrs. Holvey’s mother is in the room with Charlie. She says something in Rumanian, insisting that they perform a ritual so the killings don’t continue. “You marry a devil, you have devil child,” Grandma says. (Yeah, I knew Mr. Holvey was bad news.)
Mulder and Scully head back to the FBI building, where Mulder looks up the symbol Grandma drew on Charlie’s hand. They think she’s trying to protect him, but probably not from the right thing. Scully believes Teddy was a victim of Munchausen by proxy, as he was hospitalized ten times in the two years he was alive. His illness was never diagnosed. Charlie has also had medical problems since Teddy’s birth, so maybe Grandma’s responsible, thinking Charlie’s evil.
The agents go to the State Department to talk to Mr. Holvey, who admits that things in the house have been strange since Grandma (Golda) moved in. Mr. and Mrs. Holvey met in Romania in the ’80s, and Golda forbade the marriage, saying Mr. Holvey was evil. Golda settled down until she moved in with the family and strange things started happening. Golda’s very superstitious and is obsessed with protecting the kids. She seems to both fear and dote on Charlie.
Scully brings up Munchausen by proxy, an idea that doesn’t seem too crazy to Mr. Holvey. In fact, he kind of wonders if Golda didn’t sneak into the bathroom and let Teddy out of his harness the day he died. Scully wants to consult with a social worker, which Mr. Holvey thinks would be fine. Mrs. Holvey, however, objects. Scully catches Golda putting something in the food she’s cooking for the family, like, she’s probably not going to poison the kid right in front of you, Scully.
Mr. Holvey takes Charlie against his wife’s wishes, but he’s unable to open the garage door so they can leave the house. As the agents leave, having parked on the street, Mr. Holvey climbs a ladder to fix the garage-door mechanism. His tie gets caught in it just as it starts working. Charlie screams as he watches his father get hung. The agents rush into the garage, and Scully sees Charlie express emotion for the first time in the episode.
Police arrive at the house and show Scully a room full of candles and dead chickens. Festive! Outside, Golda welcomes the woman who was watching the house earlier, plus a trio of older men, telling them they need to move quickly because “it” is getting stronger. Mulder checks out the garage-door mechanism, finding something inside that looks like ash. It’s all over the car as well. The motor in the mechanism is working fine. Scully thinks they should have Charlie removed from the house, as she still suspects that Golda is harming him.
Mulder gets a chemical analysis of the ash, which turns up nothing. Literally, the ash is made up of nothing organic or inorganic: “According to the technicians, this ash doesn’t exist.” The agents take it to Chuck, who recognizes it as vibuti, holy ash from India. It’s known as “an apport – something that materializes out of thin air.” He compares it to the loaves and fishes Jesus created in the Bible. Chuck himself saw a guru create something out of thin air in the ’70s. Scully says he should have taken a picture to run through his imaging system so he could see the Last Supper.
Chuck continues that vibuti can materialize after someone’s energy transports from one location to another. Mulder thinks that could have happened when the garage door opened on its own. Scully points out that someone could have used the remote control to open the door, killing Mr. Holvey – someone like Golda.
Back at the Holveys’ house, Charlie listens at his grandmother’s door as she and her four friends chant in Rumanian and perform some sort of ritual. An apparition of Charlie appears in the smoke their candles produce and yells in Rumanian. The social worker, Karen Kosseff, comes to the house, and Mrs. Holvey reluctantly lets her in. She hears Charlie yelling and finds him lying on the floor outside Golda’s room. Mrs. Holvey says he’s been sick.
Seeing smoke under the door of Golda’s room, Mrs. Holvey bursts in and orders her mother and her friends out of the house. The friends leave, but Golda insists that Charlie’s blood needs to be cleansed. She pulls him into the room and locks the door, announcing, “We must finish this.” Karen runs off to get help, so it’s convenient that the agents arrive right then. As Golda finishes her ritual, the room fills with the sound of wind. She raises a knife to Charlie, telling him it’s the only way.
As Mulder tries to get into the room, Charlie stands over his grandmother, holding the dead chickens. But they’re no longer dead, and he throws them at Golda. Then I guess she…gets pecked to death. Yikes. Mulder doesn’t seem to think Charlie’s an innocent victim anymore. But the chickens are dead again, and Charlie claims he doesn’t remember anything. Despite having her eyes pecked out, Golda’s cause of death has been determined as a heart attack.
Mulder finds more ash in the room and IDs another substance in the room as mugwort. Scully thinks that means Golda’s death may have been ceremonial, but Mulder says it was being used in a protective manner. He thinks Golda knew the family was in danger and was trying to help them, with assistance from her four buddies.
Speaking of the buddies, they’re back, but Mrs. Holvey doesn’t want to talk to them about their superstitions. After she kicks them out, she tells the agents that they’re the Calusari, people responsible for making sure that sacred rites are observed correctly. They’ve warned Mrs. Holvey that there’s still evil in her house. GEE, I WONDER WHERE IT COULD BE COMING FROM?
Mulder tries to talk to the Calusari, who aren’t that interested in chatting. One of the men says that evil has been around all through history, in various forms (such as Lucifer and Hitler). It doesn’t care if it kills one boy or a million people. If Mulder tries to stop the Calusari from stopping the evil, he’ll have blood on his own hands.
Mrs. Holvey tells the agents that in Rumanian superstition, someone who has suffered a misfortune will always have bad luck. Now that all of this is happening to her, Mrs. Holvey isn’t sure anymore that it’s just a superstition. She used to think her mother had cursed the family. Now she knows Golda was trying to get rid of evil in the house – and she thought Charlie was behind the evil. Mrs. Holvey doesn’t know how her little boy could be responsible for such horrible things.
Charlie’s been taken to a hospital, where Karen tries to get him to tell her what happened in Golda’s room. He still claims he doesn’t remember. In fact, he says he wasn’t even there. He gets worked up, insisting that he wasn’t in the room and didn’t hurt Golda. He blames someone named Michael. Mrs. Holvey’s shocked that he knows the name – Michael was Charlie’s stillborn twin.
Mrs. Holvey continues that when Michael died, Golda wanted to perform a ritual of separation to divide their souls. If she didn’t, she thought “the world of the dead would follow Charlie.” Of course, Mrs. Holvey always thought it was just a superstition. Just then, Charlie has a seizure. Doctors examine him but can’t determine the cause. Later, as Charlie’s about to get an injection he really doesn’t want, Michael appears in the room and attacks his brother’s nurse.
Sometime later, Charlie approaches his mother and tells her he’s been released. But since I’ve seen TV before, I’m 99 percent sure this is really Michael. Scully sees mother and son leaving the hospital, which is pretty weird since Charlie’s still in his room. His nurse explains that there were two boys, and one attacked her. Mulder quickly figures out that Mrs. Holvey left with a spirit or ghost or whatever it was they saw in the photo.
Mulder sends Scully to rescue Mrs. Holvey while he gets help. At the Holveys’ house, Charlie asks if they can go to the park the next day. Can he have a balloon and ride the train? Ohhh, demon child. Mrs. Holvey is on to him and heads to her mother’s room to finish her protection ritual. She lights matches and throws them in water, praying that what she’s figured out isn’t true. As one of the matches disappears, she realizes it is.
Michael appears in the room and asks what his mother’s doing. She’s armed with a knife and chants in Rumanian. Meanwhile, Mulder calls the Calusari to the hospital so they can perform a ritual. Charlie’s not happy about it, so it turns into a sort of exorcism. One of the Calusari tells Mulder to look away so “it” won’t recognize him. Mulder sees something seeping out of the walls of the room.
At the Holveys’ house, wind blows through the rooms, breaking windows and spooking Scully. She finds Mrs. Holvey almost on the ceiling, still chanting. Mulder thinks Charlie’s suffering and almost lets go of him, but a Calusari says he’s being tricked. They continue the ritual as Michael goes after Scully with a knife. Fortunately, the Calusari finish up in time for Michael to disappear, leaving Scully and Mrs. Holvey unharmed.
Mrs. Holvey rushes back to the hospital, happy to see that Charlie’s okay. One of the Calusari tells Mulder that it’s over for now, but he needs to be careful, because now “it” knows him. Mulder’s case report says that the case in unsolved (like every other case on this show), and “neither innocence nor vigilance might be protection against the howling heart of evil.” Geez, take it down a notch, Fox.
Thoughts: The actress playing Golda also played Joey’s grandmother on Friends, so I kept expecting her to say, “Sam Waterston!”
I always knew nothing good could come from balloons.
Imagine being the parents of the triplets playing Teddy. “So we’re just going to have him walk around a bunch, and then he gets hit by a train. Is that cool?”