May 21, 2016
The X-Files 3.3, D.P.O.: Lightning Crashes
Summary: A teenage pizza-delivery boy is playing a video game at an arcade. Another teenager, Darin, meekly tries to get him to leave, since he was playing the game first. Darin’s friend Zero backs him up. The pizza boy doesn’t care what they say and threatens to beat up Darin. The power goes out, then comes on enough for a jukebox to turn itself on. The pizza boy decides to leave, and Darin watches through the door as he struggles to start his car. His delivery sign catches on fire and the boy is electrocuted. Darin goes back to his game.
Mulder and Scully travel to Connerville, Oklahoma, to investigate the boy’s death. His heart looks like it was cooked, and he appears to have been electrocuted, though there’s no point of contact. He’s the fifth of a series of kids seemingly killed by lightning, a completely unreasonable statistic. Sheriff John Teller announces that there have only been four deaths. He thinks that since lightning is so hard to understand, it could easily be responsible for so many deaths. He knows – he’s friends with scientists! Also, there’s a lightning observatory nearby, so it could be drawn to the area.
Teller clearly has no patience for Scully, even though she insists that the kids’ autopsies don’t add up. She admits that lightning is the most probable cause of their deaths, since there’s no other explanation. Teller orders her to stick to that story if she ever speaks to the kids’ families. After Teller leaves, Mulder says he thinks something else is going on (of course). Scully hopes he’s not thinking about government conspiracies, since he has those on the mind after “Paper Clip.” Mulder notes that all the victims are around the same age, which is significant.
Mulder and Scully go to the arcade to see where the pizza boy, Jack, died. The car’s electrical system was all shorted out. Mulder thinks he was trying to get away in a hurry. All the stores nearby would have been closed by the time Jack was there, except the arcade, so the agents go inside and chat with Zero, who works there. He claims not to be familiar with Jack. Mulder sees that the high scores on the game Jack was playing all belong to someone with the initials D.P.O. Scully reports that one of the other victims had those initials – Darin Peter Oswald. He’s the only victim who survived, and his scores indicate he was at the arcade the previous night.
Darin’s currently at the garage where he works, trying to strike up a conversation with Sharon, his boss’ wife. Apparently they had a conversation the day before that’s making her uncomfortable now. Her husband, Frank, arrives and tells Darin that the FBI is coming to see him. When the agents question Darin, he claims he was too into his game to notice anything going on outside. Mulder asks if Darin considers himself lucky. Darin says no, despite the fact that he survived getting struck by lightning. Scully sees that Mulder’s pocket is smoking. He pulls out his phone, which has heated up so much it’s smoldering.
At home, Darin’s mother tells him not to change the TV channels, even though she’s the one with the remote. Zero comes by and tells Darin that he talked to the FBI. Darin thinks Zero sent them in his direction. The two of them go out to a pasture, where a tipsy Darin says he’s in the mood for barbecue. “Not the cows again,” Zero pleads. Darin yells for something to come out of the sky and get him. Lightning strikes him, but he’s fine. The same can’t be said for three of the cows, which Teller finds dead the next day. He doesn’t think there’s anything strange to look into there.
Teller shows Mulder and Scully a fulgarite, a glassy substance formed by a lightning strike. Scully thinks Teller’s right about the cows being killed by lightning, but Mulder thinks it’s odd that the fulgarite has a footprint in it. Scully gets an imprint and can tell the tread comes from an 8.5-sized men’s military boot. She also finds something in the print that looks like antifreeze. Mulder’s mind immediately goes to Darin.
Darin’s hanging out at a billboard on a county road where the traffic lights are malfunctioning. Zero joins him and suggests that they go someplace like Las Vegas, where Darin can “do some serious damage.” Darin doesn’t want to go anywhere without Sharon. He wants to let her know how he feels about her. Zero reminds him that she’s married, so Darin suggests that he fry Frank. Zero’s only vote against that is that the FBI are around, not that it would, you know, be murder. He points out that Darin can’t compete with someone who has his own business. But Darin’s determined to show how special he is. First, though, he’ll cause some more car accidents.
Mulder and Scully check out Darin’s bedroom, where Scully confirms that his shoe size is 8.5. Mulder goes for the porn, though this at least leads him to a picture of Sharon. The agents check out a yearbook and see that she’s a reading teacher, Mrs. Kiveat, at Darin’s school. Mulder remembers that Darin works at Kiveat Auto Body. Frank is called to the scene of one of Darin’s accidents, but before he can start clearing the road, he suffers a heart attack. Darin approaches from the side of the road as paramedics scramble to find a working defibrillator. Darin puts his hands on his boss and shocks his heart back into rhythm.
At the hospital, Mulder tries to ask Sharon about Darin, but she’s focused on her husband. Scully shows Mulder a copy of Frank’s EKG, where they can see that his heart was shocked, even though the paramedics didn’t have a charged defibrillator. A paramedic has reported that he saw Darin touching Frank’s chest. The agents look at Darin’s chart and see that he had an electrolyte imbalance the night he was struck by lightning. Mulder wonders if that allows him to manipulate electricity. Scully thinks Mulder means that Darin’s a lightning rod. Mulder corrects her: “He is lightning.”
The agents go back to Darin’s house, finding him tipsy again. He claims he doesn’t know how any of the victims died, and anyway, he’s a hero, since he saved Frank’s life. Scully disagrees, and Darin wonders if Zero told her something else. He sticks to his story that he saved Frank with CPR. Mulder thinks he set the whole thing up and they should run tests on Darin. Scully reminds Mulder that they can only keep Darin in custody for 72 hours. Mulder thinks they should go back to Sharon, who could help them press criminal charges.
Sharon tells the agents that she knows about Darin’s crush on her. She helped him get the job with her husband, partly because she felt sorry for him. She started getting hang-up phone calls and knew they had to be from Darin. After Jack died, Darin told her he had powers of some kind. Sharon thought he was just joking around, but now she’s worried. Scully promises her safety if she’ll testify. But Darin has been released from the sheriff’s office, since Teller doesn’t think he could have anything to do with deaths by lightning strikes. The agents realize that Darin will go straight to Sharon, so they head to the hospital to protect her.
Zero’s back at the arcade, where the power goes out at the jukebox comes on again. He yells to an unseen Darin that he didn’t say anything to the FBI. As storm clouds gather, Zero goes outside, reminding Darin that they’re friends. He’s struck by lightning in the parking lot. At the hospital, the agents find the Kiveats unharmed and ask Sharon to come with them for protection. She refuses to leave her husband, though. The lights go out and the agents run to an elevator that’s approaching their floor. Inside, they find a dead Zero.
Mulder heads off to look for Darin, but Scully’s the one who finds him when he comes looking for Sharon. Darin asks Sharon to come away with him, threatening to hurt Scully if she tries to interfere. Sharon defuses the situation by agreeing to go with Darin. As they leave the hospital, Darin tells Sharon (hey, that rhymes!) that she was the only person who’s ever been nice to him. He offers her any car she wants for their getaway, starting one up with his electrical powers. Teller arrives, distracting Darin long enough to allow Sharon to run away.
Darin runs as well, but Mulder manages to grab Sharon and help her hide. Darin cries, saying he would have given Sharon anything she wanted. Teller catches up to him, asking for some answers. As Darin grows furious, affecting the weather, Mulder warns Teller to get away. He doesn’t listen, and he’s felled by a tree branch struck by lightning. Lightning strikes Darin as well, putting him on the ground. He ends up in a psychiatric hospital. Teller’s death is ruled accidental, and Darin’s test results don’t show anything abnormal. Apparently no one thinks it’s abnormal that he can change TV channels with his mind, but okay.
Thoughts: There are three notable guest stars in this episode:
- Darin is played by Giovanni Ribisi.
- Zero is played by Jack Black.
- Teller is played by Ernie Lively, father of Robyn Lively, who appears in the sixth-season episode “Field Trip,” and Blake Lively, whose husband Ryan Reynolds appears in “Syzygy” later in season 3.
Why weren’t Mulder and Scully called to Connerville until after the sixth victim was struck? Five lightning strikes were reasonable, but the sixth made the situation weird?
I can’t believe Mulder didn’t make a comment about the zapped cows like, “I ordered my burger medium rare, not well done.”