May 28, 2016

The X-Files 3.4, Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose: Future Tense

Posted in TV tagged at 1:39 pm by Jenn

If I knew I was going to die soon, these are the people I'd want to hang out with

If I knew I was going to die soon, these are the people I’d want to hang out with

Summary: In St. Paul, Minnesota, a Mr. Clyde Bruckman is reading tabloids to see what supposed psychic the Stupendous Yappi is predicting. 1) Madonna and Kato Kaelin will get together. 2) J.D. Salinger will write another book and appear on talk shows. 3) Buddy Holly is alive and will reemerge at Lollapalooza. Clyde doesn’t know what that is. The clerk at the store where he’s buying a lottery ticket doesn’t know who Buddy Holly is.

On his way out of the store, Clyde runs into a guy and they do that thing where they try to walk around each other but keep going in the same direction. The other guy then goes to see a palm-reader, Madame Zelma. He wants to know why he’s going to be doing the things he’s going to do. Madame Zelma isn’t a psychologist, so she doesn’t know. The guy says he can’t even imagine himself doing these things. He’s holding Zelma’s hands too tightly, but he thinks she should have seen this coming. Then he beats her up.

Three days later, detectives investigate the scene of a murder where entrails have been left out. They’re expecting an expert they think might be able to give them some leads. Mulder arrives, but the detectives don’t know who he is. So there’s another expert who works on spooky cases? Who woulda thunk? Mulder and Scully don’t think they’re dealing with a Satanist, but they’ve worked up a profile on the killer. Mulder thinks he’s using his victims’ entrails to read fortunes. After all, his victims are all fortunetellers.

One of the detectives protests that this victim was just a doll collector. Mulder reveals that she was also a tasseographer, someone who reads tea leaves. For the record, Mulder doesn’t completely believe in that method of prognostication, but in this case, he’ll go with it, since the woman’s leaves said she was going to be murdered.

The Stupendous Yappi arrives with an assistant and a crowd of admirers. He’s the expert the detectives have called in to read the crime scene and profile the killer. He’s not very helpful. (The killer may or may not have facial hair. He also has a tattoo, and the tattoo might have the facial hair.) Yappi thinks the killer tried to rape his victim but couldn’t perform.

He loses the vision, blaming negative energy from someone in the room. Surprisingly, it’s not from Scully but from Mulder. Mulder promises that he believes in Yappi’s psychic ability, but Yappi thinks he’s lying. “I can’t take you anywhere,” Scully murmurs. Mulder leaves the room while Yappi continues his work. As Yappi’s heading out, Mulder tells him to read one of his thoughts. Yappi does, replying, “So’s your old man!”

Mulder returns to the scene and guesses that Yappi made a bunch of generic predictions that can’t be taken seriously as leads. The detectives don’t care, since at least they have something to go on. They just need to find a white man between the ages of 17 and 24 who may have a beard and/or a tattoo and seems to be impotent. “Might as well go home, Mulder. The case is as good as solved,” Scully quips.

Elsewhere, Clyde meets with a couple to discuss their life-insurance options. The husband wants to save some money so he can buy a boat, but Clyde thinks he needs to be more serious about taking care of his family. He tells the husband that in two years, he’ll be killed in a car accident, hit by a drunk driver in a blue Mustang. “Mister, you really need to work on your closing technique,” the husband admonishes.

Clyde goes home to have a drink and hallucinate his head in a bag of lettuce. He goes down the hall to his neighbor, Mrs. Lowe, so he can take out her garbage. She gives him a lighter as well. Clyde imagines her dog eating her dead body. When Clyde goes out to the Dumpster, he sees something disturbing: Zelma’s body. The detectives from the previous crime scene arrive, thinking Yappi’s prediction about the body being dumped has come true. Scully sees the killer nearby, then asks who found the body.

Mulder and Scully question Clyde, who’s pretty calm for a guy who just found a body with its eyes cut out. Scully wonders how he knew about that detail since the body was face-down. Mulder’s more interested in how the eyes were removed. Clyde says pieces of a broken crystal ball were used, something he thinks is obvious – a guy who kills a fortuneteller is probably going to use a crystal ball as a weapon.

Scully’s surprised that Clyde knows the other victims had their entrails removed; that detail hasn’t been released to the press. Clyde says he doesn’t read the papers anyway – they’re too depressing. Mulder and Scully take him to the tasseographer’s apartment, assuring him he’s not a suspect, and ask him to tell them anything he might be able to see about the crimes. Clyde asks to see their badges again, doubting that Fox Mulder is a real name.

Clyde denies that he can tell anything about the recent crimes. He sees the tasseographer’s blood on some lace, then runs to the bathroom to throw up. Scully thinks he’s just putting on a show like Yappi, but Mulder believes. Clyde says the killer doesn’t feel in control of his own life, the same generic thing Yappi said. But Clyde goes further – he says the killer believes he’s a puppet. Unfortunately, Clyde can’t see what the killer looks like.

Clyde looks at the carpet and sees that the killer and the tasseographer had sex before he killed her. Clyde’s a little bummed that even a serial killer is getting some while he’s not. Mulder asks about the killer’s motives, but Clyde doesn’t think there’s a reason anyone does anything. Actions could be the results of a series of events. He looks at one of the dolls in the apartment and sees its face distorted. He tells the agents that they’ll find a woman in Glenview Lake the next morning, next to a “fat little white Nazi storm trooper.”

Guess what’s found in the lake the next morning? A body! Mulder thinks a nearby propane tank looks like a fat little white Nazi storm trooper. Scully can see it, but she thinks he’s just finding a pattern he thinks exists. Maybe Clyde’s lucky, rather than psychic. Actually, it seems like he’s neither, since his lottery ticket didn’t pay off.

Mulder goes to Clyde’s apartment, where Clyde says he knew he’d come, having convinced himself that Clyde is psychic, despite his skeptical “lady partner’s” protests. When he sees Mulder, he says, “Oh, it’s you.” He doesn’t want to help. Mulder confirms that Clyde has psychic abilities, urging him to be more grateful for them. Clyde asks if Mulder wants to know how he’s going to die. Mulder does, but Clyde says he doesn’t really. Also, would he like to hear about some life insurance options?

Clyde continues that the killer will keep murdering whether Clyde helps the FBI or not. The only way he can see what’s going to happen is if the future already exists. “But if the future is written, why bother to do anything?” Mulder asks. “Now you’re catching on,” Clyde replies. Mulder is determined to use Clyde’s abilities to find the killer, but Clyde doesn’t want to make any moves that could affect the future – or even the past, if time travel exists. He could do something that ends up preventing his own birth. “So when do we start?” Clyde asks.

Mulder gives Clyde a piece of sculpture featuring frogs, which Clyde guesses belonged to a victim. He predicts the death of the sculptor, but doesn’t get any other information from the frogs. Scully arrives and Mulder tells her that Clyde isn’t very helpful. He does, however, know that the piece of fabric he’s holding is from Mulder’s Knicks shirt. (Mulder lies that he’s wrong.)

Scully gives Clyde a keychain found on the woman from the lake; the same keychains were found on other victims, and all came from an investment firm, Uranus Unlimited. The company gives financial advice based on astrology. Clyde holds the keychain and rattles off some details about the head of the company, Claude Duckenfield. But he only knows them because he sold Duckenfield a policy. However, he also knows that Duckenfield has been murdered.

Clyde heads to the murder scene with the agents, telling Mulder he doesn’t know how he gets his intel. Then he says that he can’t think of a more undignified way to die than autoerotic asphyxiation. Mulder wonders why Clyde would tell him that. Oh, Mulder. I imagine Scully doesn’t know what they’re talking about; otherwise she wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face.

The three arrive at a forest and search for Duckenfield’s body, talking about Clyde’s first experience with foreseeing someone’s death. It was 1959, and Clyde had a ticket to see Buddy Holly (though he preferred the Big Bopper and “Chantilly Lace”). Clyde explains that the Big Bopper was supposed to be on the plane that crashed and killed Holly. So many things had to happen for Holly to win a coin flip and get the seat, letting the Big Bopper live. After that, Clyde became obsessed with the statistics involved in determining whether someone lives or dies.

Scully says that she wouldn’t believe that story even if she weren’t a skeptic. She asks where Duckenfield’s body is. Mulder notes that it’s strange that Clyde knows the general area where it is, but not the exact spot. Clyde guesses he “can’t see the forest for the trees.” The three start to leave but first have to push their car out of some mud. When they move it, they find Duckenfield’s body buried in the mud.

The agents take a fiber from the body similar to one found on another victim and ask Clyde to use it to tell them more about the killer. Clyde resists, so Mulder asks him to think of the fiber as insurance in case the FBI can’t find the killer through their own investigation. Clyde doesn’t know where the fiber came from, but he knows there will be more victims. The killer thinks he’s psychic, and Clyde hopes he’s not.

Clyde continues that he can see some things the killer’s scene – including Mulder searching a kitchen for the killer. The killer has a bloody knife, and Mulder doesn’t see him because he’s distracted by the coconut cream pie (or lemon meringue or banana cream) he’s just stepped in. Clyde says he can’t see the whole vision, blaming a distraction in the form of a letter he got from the killer.

The letter tells Clyde that the killer knows he’s helping in the investigation. He wants Clyde to say hi to the FBI agents, so Clyde does. Scully thinks the killer saw Clyde with them at the crime scene. But Mulder sees that the letter was postmarked the day before Clyde joined the investigation. He wants to take Clyde into protective custody, but Clyde says he’ll be dead before they catch the killer.

The killer is currently with a tarot-card reader, who sees that the killer wants answers from a special man with special wisdom. The agents check Clyde into a hotel, where he enjoys some pie. Scully’s reading background checks, telling Clyde that that’s the only real way to find a killer. He teases that she’s jealous of his visions. The tarot reader tells the killer that he’s soon going to find answers about why he does what he does, but he’ll be interrupted by a woman.

Scully asks Clyde if he can see how he’s going to die. Clyde says the two of them will end up in bed together, though he doesn’t mean this in an offensive way. Scully will be holding his hand, and he’ll be crying but feeling grateful. Neither of them will ever forget this moment. Scully assures him that this will never, ever happen. “I just call ’em as I see ’em,” he replies.

The killer tells the tarot reader he’s the best fortuneteller he’s ever seen. The reader starts to turn over his last card, but the killer says it’s for the reader. It’s the death card. In the hotel, Scully and Clyde play with cards as well until Scully’s shift is over. Before she leaves, she asks Clyde for the first time to tell her how she dies. “You don’t,” he replies.

Mulder arrives and announces that the fiber pulled from Duckenfield’s body is lace – specifically, Chantilly lace. “If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?” he asks. Scully leaves the two men alone, and eventually Mulder asks if Clyde has ever had prophetic dreams. Clyde says he has the same dream every night, the only one he’s ever had – he’s naked in a field of red tulips, feeling at peace. He realizes he’s dead and his body starts to decompose. After a while, he feels himself slipping away, then wakes up. Sleep tight, Mulder!

Sometime later, Scully returns with one of the detectives, Havez, so he can relieve Mulder. There’s been a murder at the tarot reader around the corner. Mulder admits that he’s getting frustrated with Clyde, since his prophecies aren’t preventive. Scully, however, feels more warmly about him. She runs into a bellhop and does the same dance Clyde did with the killer earlier in the episode.

Havez tries to tell Clyde a joke, but Clyde guesses the punchline. Havez asks how he’s going to die, thinking it’s lung cancer, since he smokes. Clyde says no, lighting Havez’s next cigarette with Mrs. Lowe’s lighter. As Havez heads into the bathroom, Clyde has a vision. The bellhop comes to the room, thrilled to finally meet Clyde. Clyde wonders about the odds of the killer winding up in his hotel room.

The killer wants to know why he does what he does. Clyde explains that he kills people because he’s a homicidal maniac. “That does explain a lot, doesn’t it?” the killer replies. He moves to kill Clyde, but Clyde says it’s not time yet. Havez emerges from the bathroom, so the killer attacks him instead. Around the corner, the agents check out the crime scene, seeing that the killer was sloppier than usual, leaving behind fingerprints. Scully notices a strand of lace on her thumb and figures out that it came from the bellhop.

The killer flees via a staircase as Scully returns to the hotel room and finds Havez’s body. Mulder waits for an elevator, spotting the killer and chasing him into a kitchen. The scene proceeds just as in Clyde’s vision, but with one difference: Like the tarot reader said, the killer is interrupted by a woman. Scully arrives and shoots the killer before he can stab Mulder. “That’s not the way it’s supposed to happen,” the killer protests before he collapses.

Mulder thinks Scully’s arrival was fate, but she admits she got on the service elevator and wound up in the kitchen accidentally. Nothing Clyde predicted has come true – he thought he’d be dead before the agents caught the killer. The two go to Clyde’s apartment, where they find a note telling Scully that Mrs. Lowe passed away and someone will need to take care of her dog.

Inside, the agents find Clyde dead, a bottle of pills in his hand and a bag over his head. Scully sits with him on the bed and holds his hand as condensation runs down his face like tears. That night, Scully watches an Abbott and Costello movie with her new dog. She’s about to turn off the TV when an ad comes on inviting people to call the Stupendous Yappi to learn their futures. Scully picks up her phone…and throws it at the TV.

Thoughts: Clyde is played by the late Peter Boyle, who won an Emmy for this appearance.

Yappi is played by the late Jaap Broeker, David Duchovny’s stand-in. The role was written for him before he even agreed to do it.

If Yappi were really psychic, he would know that “so’s your old man” is the wrong thing to say to Mulder, since he just lost his father.

Uranus Unlimited is a horrible name for an investment firm. Then again, if I were to start an investment firm, I would just call it Give Me Your Money and I’ll Make You Richer.

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