June 18, 2016

The X-Files 3.7, The Walk: Does Anyone Use Astral Projection for Good Instead of Evil?

Posted in TV tagged at 1:37 pm by Jenn

"I'm going to ask you one last time: Do you want a bedtime story or not?"

“I’m going to ask you one last time: Do you want a bedtime story or not?”

Summary: In Ft. Evanston, Maryland, a former lieutenant colonel in a psychiatric hospital is talking with his doctor. The doctor doesn’t understand why Lt. Col. Stans keeps trying to commit suicide. “He won’t let me die,” Stans says, distressed. As soon as the doctor leaves, Stans goes to the hydrotherapy room and cranks up the temperature on a tub. He grabs some weights and starts to get in the water. A voice tells him to stand down and the door unlocks itself. As the fire alarm goes off and a nurse arrives, Stans gets in the 200-degree tub. He’s rescued by firefighters, burned but alive. “I told you he won’t let me die,” he says.

Three weeks later, Stans is in an army hospital, his burns bandaged. Mulder and Scully want to know who (or what) saved his life the night he tried to kill himself. Stans says he’s never seen the rescuer, but he knows Stans’ name and once told him, “Your time has come.” Then he took away Stans’ family, burning them alive. Mulder writes Scully a note, guessing that Stans has PTSD. Stans says he suffers now because the rescuer won’t let him die.

A captain named Draper pulls Mulder and Scully out of the room, telling them that Stans’ commanding officer, General Callahan, has ordered them removed from the case for not obeying procedure and going through him. Scully asks what procedure they would follow if they wanted to investigate Callahan. She argues that they need to move quickly because Stans could attempt to kill himself again. As they go back in, an orderly delivering the mail watches them. He heads to a group-therapy room, where a session is taking place with vets confined to wheelchairs. One talks about a dream he had about “the walk,” no longer needing his chair.

Another vet, Leonard, laughs at the dreamer’s optimism that he could walk again someday. Leonard reminds his fellow session attendees that they’re missing limbs – he, in fact, is missing all four. He also doesn’t appreciate the sympathy from the session’s leader. Leonard asks the orderly, Roach, to take him out, wondering why Roach (who he calls “Private”) looks so scared. Roach tells him the FBI is there asking questions about Stans. Leonard isn’t concerned.

Mulder and Scully meet with Callahan, who doesn’t think there’s any reason for the FBI to investigate a veteran’s suicide attempt. Scully disagrees, wondering why there’s no record of anyone investigating the fire that killed Stans’ family. Plus, another vet who lost his family in a fire, Aiklen, has said the same things as Stans – he wanted to die but some sort of phantom soldier prevented him from killing himself. (Apparently jumping in a wood chipper at the hospital did the trick.) Callahan says all they can do is feel sorry for the vets at the hospital. There’s nothing else going on.

The agents head to the hydrotherapy room, where Scully says she thinks Callahan is protecting the vets from criminal prosecution for killing their families. Mulder thinks their psych problems come from exposure to secret weapons during their military service. He wonders why Stans left the door to the hydrotherapy room unliked when he tried to kill himself. Meanwhile, Draper apologizes to Callahan for not doing a better job of keeping the agents away from him. He tries to convince her that there’s nothing to worry about with the investigation.

After she leaves, Callahan gets a visit from a soldier telling him his time has come. The soldier seems to vanish. His answering machine turns itself on and a voice whispers something over and over to Callahan. Draper goes for a swim, watching her shadow on the ceiling. She sees another shadow approaching her, but there’s no one else with her in the pool. As she hurries to get out, something jumps out of the water at her and pulls her under.

After Draper’s body is found, Scully examines her, seeing bruises on her neck and shoulder. It looks like she was drowned. Security didn’t see anyone enter or leave the building. Mulder warns Callahan that, based on the pattern they’re seeing, he and his family could be in danger. He thinks Draper’s death fits Stans’ phantom’s MO. Callahan tells the agents that he saw the phantom the night before. The thing with the answering machine has happened twice before, at his house. Speaking of the house, someone’s there now, spooking Callahan’s son Trevor. But it’s not the phantom, it’s Roach.

Callahan arrives with the agents and plays his answering-machine tape for them. Scully takes a look at pictures on the wall, then sees Roach run through the backyard. When she gets outside, she sees footprints in Trevor’s sandbox. Back at the hospital, Roach brings Leonard some of Callahan’s mail, saying he’s not following any more of Leonard’s orders. Leonard reminds Roach that he’s the reason Leonard’s in a wheelchair, so he’d better cooperate. “The enemy must be defeated, and this is how we’re gonna do it,” Leonard says. Stans is brought into the room, and he seems interested in Leonard.

Scully’s able to get fingerprints Roach left behind, so it’s not long before Roach gets a visit from the agents. Mulder checks out his apartment, finding Aiklen, Draper, Callahan, and Stans’ mail. It seems like this means the case is closed. But probably not, because something’s pushing through Trevor’s sandbox and burying him under a bunch of sand. Scully and Mulder play bad cop/bad cop with Roach, wondering what happened to the now-dead Trevor. Roach claims he’s just a mailman.

Roach points a finger at Leonard, so the agents return to the hospital to question him and learn that, thanks to being a quadruple amputee, he probably hasn’t done anything. Leonard’s currently sleeping, and he must be having a really interesting dream. In his holding cell, Roach gets really agitated, yelling that “he” has been there before and will kill Roach. An hour later, the agents come question him and find him dead, suffocated with a bed sheet.

Mulder thinks Roach was telling the truth and Leonard is their killer. He has a bunch of dental x-rays with him showing that their victims were exposed to radiation, possibly from the phantom soldier. He thinks Leonard is able to travel through astral projection and kill people. Scully wonders why he would need Roach, then. Mulder makes some vague connection between the mail and Leonard’s abilities. He’s figured out that playing the message on Callahan’s machine backwards will give them something coherent: “Your time has come, killer. Your time has come.”

The agents visit Leonard, who reacts to news of Roach’s death with, “Serves him right.” Mulder confronts Leonard for not undergoing rehab or getting prostheses because, with the astral projection, he can do whatever he wants. He accuses Leonard of blaming other people for his injuries even though he knew what he was getting into when he enlisted. Leonard notes that Mulder doesn’t know what war is like, and he probably doesn’t even care that Leonard ended up with no life while others got accolades. He wants to go to sleep, so Mulder tells him, “No sleepwalking.”

Mulder thinks Callahan needs to get out of his house, which is probably a good idea since, you know, his son died there. He sees an able-bodied Leonard’s reflection in a mirror and sees his footprints leading up to his office, where he finds his wife’s body. As the agents head back to Callahan’s house, trying to call him, Callahan goes to the hospital to see Stans. He tells Stans he was right about the killer not letting them die. Callahan tries to shoot himself, but bullets won’t come out of the gun. Stans announces that he knows who the killer is.

Callahan next goes to see Leonard, who admits to committing all the murders. Callahan doesn’t even know who he is. Leonard encourages Callahan to kill him, but instead of shooting him, Callahan fires bullets into the wall. He tells Leonard he’ll have to suffer like the rest of them. The agents find Callahan, who tells them that he stood down instead of giving Leonard what he wanted. Leonard’s astral-projecting again, though Scully thinks he’s having a seizure.

Mulder goes after Callahan, who’s gotten in an elevator that’s making a very fast trip to the subbasement. Leonard calls him “killer” again and breaks a bunch of steam pipes. Mulder follows Callahan and gets thrown around by Leonard. Scully tends to an unresponsive Leonard as Stans makes his way to the room and locks himself in. He smothers Leonard with a pillow, making his astral projection disappear before it can hurt Mulder or Callahan again.

Post-case roundup! Mulder voices over that there’s no evidence linking Leonard (or his projections) to the murders. The Army wouldn’t let Leonard be buried in Arlington. Blah blah, Leonard wanted people to suffer the way he did. Yeah, we figured that out. There’s some nonsense about Leonard having a phantom soul like amputees have phantom limbs, and humanity being destroyed by war, and we get it, really. Also, Stans has Roach’s job now, so good for him.

Thoughts: Roach is played by Willie Garson, who also appears in a (much, much better) season 7 episode, “The Goldberg Variation.”

Mulder’s jumped to a lot of conclusions, but astral projection might be his biggest. I mean, obviously he was right, but there wasn’t a lot of info there before he got from point A to point B.

For someone who studied psychology, Mulder has a hard time understanding why Leonard might be ticked about his situation. I’m not saying Mulder should have more compassion for a ruthless killer, but…you know, just say you feel for him, you know?

That said: Leonard, if people are on to you, at least wait a day or two before you kill again. So maybe you’d get more compassion from Mulder if you were a little smarter.

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