June 25, 2016
The X-Files 3.8, Oubliette: There’s an Easier Way to Find Subjects for Your Photos, You Know
Summary: A teen named Amy Jacobs gets her picture taken at Valley Woods High School in Seattle. The photographer’s assistant, Carl, is a lot more interested in her than a grown man should be. That night, he cuts out her picture in a cellar darkroom and puts it next to one of himself. Then he sneaks into Amy’s house and grabs her out of her bed, saying, “Nobody’s gonna spoil us.” Her little sister sees and calls for their mother. At a restaurant, a waitress named Lucy suddenly gets a nosebleed and collapses, saying over and over, “Nobody’s gonna spoil us.”
As detectives dust the Jacobses’ house for fingerprints, Mulder shows up to join the investigation. He tells Mrs. Jacobs how sorry he is for her daughter’s disappearance, but Mrs. Jacobs doesn’t think he could really understand how she feels. Mulder notices blood, which Walt Eubanks, the agent in charge of the investigation, tells him Amy’s sister says came from Amy’s nose when she was grabbed. The police have no leads on a suspect – Amy’s sister was the only witness, though she didn’t get a good look – but they think the kidnapper knew Amy. Mulder’s interested in Lucy.
Mulder meets up with Scully at the hospital where Lucy’s being treated. He finds it very interesting that she was repeating the same phrase Amy’s kidnapper said at the same time 20 miles away. What’s even more interesting is that when Lucy was eight, she was kidnapped from her house. She was held for five years, locked in a basement, and her abductor was never caught. The agents visit Lucy, who’s very stand-offish and claims “nobody’s gonna spoil us” means nothing to her. She’s sympathetic towards Amy, but she doesn’t think she can help.
While Lucy gets ready to leave the hospital, Carl has an encounter with a tow-truck driver. He has a flat tire but claims he doesn’t need any help. He also really doesn’t want to open the trunk for the driver. He threatens the guy with a tire iron, and the guy drives off, calling him a lunatic and a freak. Mulder regroups with Eubanks, who tells him that Lucy has a sketchy past and could be involved in Amy’s kidnapping. Mulder doubts it.
Scully tells Mulder that Lucy’s blood type is O positive; there were two kinds of blood on her waitress uniform, and only one was O positive. The other was B positive, Amy’s blood type. Mulder doesn’t think it could actually be Amy’s blood, but Scully doesn’t think that’s the point. She wants to do a DNA test. Mulder insists that Lucy has nothing to do with Amy’s disappearance, and he doesn’t want her treated like a suspect.
Lucy’s in bad shape at the halfway house where she lives, shivering and telling a friend it’s too dark to see. She has scratches on her face that her friend didn’t see before. Elsewhere, Amy’s also cold and in the dark, with scratches on her face – she’s trapped in Carl’s cellar. Mulder goes to the halfway house and chats with Lucy, who still can’t – or doesn’t want to – help. Mulder thinks she can lead him to Amy, though Lucy claims she doesn’t care about the girl. If she’s Amy’s “best hope,” Amy’s in a lot of trouble.
Carl takes some photos of Amy, who has a hard time getting away from his camera, since she’s in a confined space. As she cries and begs to go home, Mulder watches a video of Lucy acting similarly upon her reappearance in 1978. She was kept in the dark for so long that her eyes were hypersensitive to light. She was also barely coherent, after spending five years barely talking to anyone. Mulder’s amazed that she was able to create a normal life for herself.
Scully tells him that there may be a lead – Amy’s class received their school pictures, but the Jacobses didn’t get Amy’s. The photographer fired Carl the day after the shoot, so Scully thinks he’s their guy. (Also, he was “institutionalized for a bipolar condition” for a number of years, so I guess that makes him a criminal.) They have a picture of Carl, so Mulder decides to take it to Lucy. Meanwhile, Amy realizes that Carl is leaving the house. She spots sunlight coming through a boarded-up window and starts to pull off the boards.
Mulder visits Lucy again, making her uncomfortable by touching her. She tells him she was doing all right until this weird stuff started happening. He shows her Carl’s picture and guesses that she recognizes him. She runs away instead of answering. Amy’s making good progress on the window when Carl returns home and catches her crawling through it. He chases her through the woods as Lucy runs away from her halfway house. Amy trips, hurting her arm, and Carl is able to catch up with her. At the same time, Lucy also falls and hurts her arm. She asks Mulder what’s happening to her.
Now willing to help, Lucy tells Mulder that she feels like her abduction is happening all over again. He guesses that she’s experiencing the same things Amy is. Lucy shies away from helping, not wanting to revisit what happened to her. Scully and Eubanks arrive with a warrant to arrest Lucy – the B positive blood on her uniform matched Amy’s DNA. Before the agents can get to her room, Lucy takes off.
Carl chastises Amy for running away, then reluctantly gives her some water. She begs him not to let her die in the cellar. Eubanks prints fliers with Lucy’s face, though Mulder warns that they’ll just make her run away. He thinks Amy’s blood on the uniform came from Lucy herself – Lucy bled it. Scully thinks there’s a weird Stockholm Syndrome situation going here, and Lucy has a twisted connection to Carl. Mulder thinks they’re dealing with “empathic transference.”
Scully wants to know why Lucy would run if she were innocent. She thinks Mulder’s rationalizing things because he has so much sympathy for Lucy. After all, he had a loved one who was abducted. Mulder thinks she’s placing too much important on a single event from his childhood. The conversation is interrupted when the tow-truck driver IDs Carl and tells the agents where he encountered him. Mulder’s able to figure out that Amy’s probably in Easton, the same place Lucy was found.
The agents head to Easton, and Mulder decides that he and Scully should check out a photography store to get information on their suspect. Once they find out where Carl lives, they’re quickly able to find their abductee. (It helps that Carl’s not in the house.) But it’s not Amy – it’s Lucy. Eubanks threatens to arrest her as an accomplice, since Lucy can’t tell them where Carl and Amy are, or why she even came to the house. All she’ll tell Mulder is that Carl hasn’t touched Amy yet. “If he can’t have her all to himself, that’s when he’s dangerous,” she says.
Mulder thinks Lucy came back to the house because she’s connected to Amy. Now Amy needs strength from Lucy, the survivor. Lucy shivers and says Amy’s cold and wet, then starts coughing. Carl’s car is found west of the house, but Mulder thinks he actually went east, to the river. The agents leave Lucy behind at the house with another agent while they head to the river, where Carl’s dunking Amy in the water. Lucy starts choking, drowning on dry land.
Mulder’s the first to find Carl in the river, holding Amy under the water. Mulder shoots him, letting his body get carried downstream while he and Scully try to revive Amy. At the house, Lucy’s also not breathing, and apparently the agent with her has never heard of CPR. Scully thinks Amy’s beyond help, but Mulder won’t stop giving her CPR. When he finally does, Lucy and Amy both start moving. Amy’s breathing again, and Mulder soon learns that Lucy was having breathing trouble as well. As Amy’s taken away for treatment, someone retrieves Carl’s body.
Mulder returns to Carl’s house, but Lucy’s dead. He cries over her body, no doubt thinking of Samantha. The next day, Scully meets him in Lucy’s room, expressing surprise that Amy wasn’t injured. Lucy’s autopsy shows that she drowned. Mulder thinks she saved Amy somehow. Scully wonders if Mulder was part of Amy and Lucy’s connection – he was the reason they found Amy. Mulder believes Lucy saw saving Amy as a way to escape what she’d been through for so many years.
Thoughts: Amy is played by Jewel Staite, who’s probably best known as Kaylee from Firefly.
Amy’s abduction is eerily similar to how Elizabeth Smart was taken, with her sister being in the same room and all.
Carl was “institutionalized for a bipolar condition,” so he’s a suspect for kidnapping children. Sure, sure.
“You’re making too big a deal out of one thing that happened when I was a kid,” says the guy who based his whole career on that event.