August 13, 2016
The X-Files 3.15, Piper Maru: Drop Dead Red
Summary: The crew on a salvage ship on the Pacific Ocean is preparing to send a diver underwater. They’ve been searching for something for three months, and the diver, Gauthier, confirms that they’ve found the aircraft they’ve been looking for. But moments later, the crew loses contact, so Gauthier can’t let anyone know when he sees a man trapped inside the aircraft, calling for help. The man’s eyes suddenly turn black. When Gauthier is pulled out of the water, his diving suit is covered in something oily. He tells the crew he doesn’t know what happened; he was disoriented. They don’t see his eyes turning black.
At FBI headquarters, Skinner tells Scully that he’s gotten a memo related to Melissa’s murder. Because no progress has been made in five months, the case is being closed. He thinks it’s just because of a lack of investigators, not because of any kind of cover-up. Scully notes that the FBI can piece together crimes when they only have tiny details, but no one can find Melissa’s killer even when they have the murder weapon. She thinks it’s just that no one’s interested in finding the murderer.
Scully keeps the news from Mulder, who wants to discuss the salvage ship, the Piper Maru. He tracked their course to the spot where the Talapus found the sub/UFO and wonders why the crew was there. He can’t ask them, since they’re all being treated for radiation exposure, and the French government is keeping them quiet. Scully laughs a little because Mulder’s so determined to continue working on cases that any other agent would find pointless. If he were dropped in the desert and told the truth was out there, he’d ask for a shovel, or maybe a backhoe.
Since the crew is now in San Diego, that’s where Mulder and Scully go next. They meet Dr. Seizer, who tells them the source of the crew’s exposure hasn’t been determined, and the government won’t release enough information for him to really treat everyone. Scully determines that the exposure was huge enough that the men are suffering close to what people in Hiroshima experienced after we dropped the atomic bomb. Seizer adds that the exposure came from a manmade source – it couldn’t exist anywhere in nature. “Not on this planet,” Mulder mumbles.
Everyone’s semi-comatose except for one who was completely asymptomatic. He left the hospital that morning, but he lives in San Francisco. It’s Gauthier, and he certainly looks completely healthy, if a bit confused by the things in his house. Back in San Diego, Scully tries to get Gauthier’s address while she and Mulder arrive at the Naval yard where the Piper Maru has been docked. They learn that the ship has been tested for radiation but none has been detected.
The agents board the ship and Mulder checks out Gauthier’s diving suit, which is still covered in oil. Mulder touches it with his bare hands, always a great move. Scully studies a dive map, on which is written “Zeus Faber.” Mulder looks for a VCR, since the dive suit has a video camera containing footage of Gauthier’s dive. Scully immediately recognizes the aircraft on the video as a P-51 Mustang. Mulder’s turned on by her knowledge of World War II planes. (Scully got her knowledge from watching her father and brothers put together model planes.) A Mustang is a fighter, so it wouldn’t have been carrying anything, but Scully knows where she can go for more info.
Gauthier searches his house for a letter, finding it just before his wife, Joan, arrives. She’s happy to see him, but he just stares at her. When she realizes he’s trashed the house looking for something, she starts to get concerned. She tries to run, but he grabs her, his eyes turning black. When Joan leaves the house again, her eyes turn black as well. Back in San Diego, Scully visits her father’s old friend, Commander Johansen, at Miramar Naval Air Station. She knows her way around the base, having lived there as a kid. She remembers playing hopscotch there with Melissa.
Meanwhile, Mulder goes to Gauthier’s house and finds the letter crumpled up. On it are the call numbers for the Mustang the crew found. Mulder finds the envelope the letter came in and sees the return address is for J. Kallenchuk Salvage Brokers. He hears someone in the house and finds an oily, barely conscious Gauthier. He doesn’t remember anything that happened after going on the dive. Gauthier’s concerned about Joan, but Mulder wants answers about J. Kallenchuk. Gauthier claims not to recognize the name. Mulder presses the issue, so Gauthier asks to speak to the French consulate.
Commander Johansen doesn’t remember Scully, but he’s happy to talk to her about the Mustang. He quickly determines that the call numbers aren’t accurate for a Mustang. Scully tells him she saw an illustration on the fuselage with the caption “Drop Dead Red.” That doesn’t ring a bell for Johansen, who blames his advanced age and flimsy memory. “Zeus Faber” doesn’t mean anything to him either. Since he’s no help, Scully decides to leave. She reminisces about living on the base and playing a game with the other kids called beckons wanted. As she leaves, she asks Johansen to say hello to his son for her, since they grew up together.
Mulder tracks down J. Kallenchuk’s office, which is being overseen by a woman who definitely has some secrets. First there’s the briefcase she closes before letting Mulder in. Then there’s the gun taped to the bottom of her desk, which she’s more than willing to use on Mulder. The woman, Geraldine, tells Mulder she has no way of contacting Mr. Kallenchuk while he’s out of the country. He leaves, but he’s not naïve enough to believe her. He stakes out the office, sees a bunch of French government officials arrive, and watches Geraldine head out the back door.
On her way off the base, Scully is detained – Johansen wants to talk to her again. He tells her his son died during the Gulf War, but “we bury our dead alive,” so they talk to us every day, begging for meaning. “It’s just the voices of the dead, trying to save us from our own damnation.” He knows all about the Mustang because he was sent to find it when he was an officer on a sub called the Zeus Faber.
Mulder follows Geraldine to the airport and keeps an eye on her while chatting with Scully on the phone (“Mulder, it’s me”). She tells him the Mustang was part of an escort for a plane carrying an atomic bomb. It appears the French military wanted to salvage the bomb, even though it’s been 50 years since it was built. Mulder doesn’t get why Gauthier shows no signs of radiation exposure despite being the one who got close to the plane. The conversation ends when Mulder heads off to get a ticket on a flight to Hong Kong. He doesn’t notice Joan Gauthier watching him.
In D.C., Skinner has a cup of coffee by himself at a restaurant. Some official-looking men enter together but sit at separate tables. One chats with Skinner, who’s justifiably suspicious even before they use his name. The men tell him to follow his orders and leave closed cases alone. After all, the people above him who made the decision to close it must have their reasons. If Skinner doesn’t listen, his career and future could be affected.
Johansen shows Scully a picture of his crew, who all died within months of their mission to find the Mustang and its squadron. They all died of radiation from the same bomb the military wanted to drop on Japan. The captain made them run silent instead of surfacing so the men could get medical treatment. Johansen tried to override the captain’s orders, even more forcefully after a sailor started waving a gun around. Johansen locked all the sick men in together, knowing he was dooming them. By the time they got to Pearl Harbor, all but seven of the 144 men were dead or dying. He never learned what happened.
Mulder corners Geraldine in Hong Kong, revealing that he knows her last name is Kallenchuk. And in fact, her first name isn’t Geraldine, it’s Jeraldine. So I guess there’s no Mr. Kallenchuk after all! Mulder knows she sold the Mustang to the French government, and that someone sold her secrets. Jeraldine won’t give up her sources, calling herself a middle man (or woman). Mulder informs her that her business transactions are killing people, so he’s going to arrest her. She knows he had to give up his gun at the airport, but she doesn’t know that he still has his handcuffs.
Mulder cuffs himself to Jeraldine and drags her to her Hong Kong office. There, he reunites with his old buddy Krycek. (Whichever airport he came through didn’t confiscate his gun.) Krycek pushes Jeraldine out of the room and closes the door on the handcuffs, trapping Jeraldine and Mulder on opposite sides of the door. Just as Mulder determines that Krycek must have sold Jeraldine information, shots ring out and Jeraldine goes down. Krycek goes out the window, leaving Mulder alone in the office to figure out how to free himself from the woman on the other side of the door.
French officials sneak down the hallway as Mulder manages to get himself out of his cuffs an escape. Before the officials can run after him, Joan appears. She starts glowing and temporarily blinds all the men. In D.C., Skinner goes back to the restaurant he was in before. A man complains to a waitress about the payphone being out of order; he’s going to miss a call, which will cost him time and money. Skinner steps in to defuse the situation, and the man shoots him. Poor Skinner.
Scully comes home to a phone call about Skinner’s shooting and quickly heads to the hospital to see him. Back in Hong Kong, Krycek (looking hotter than usual in a black jacket) is about to get a ticket to Washington when Mulder attacks him. He wants to shoot Krycek for killing Bill, but Krycek says it wasn’t him. Mulder demands the tape Krycek supposedly stole, and which Krycek claims is in a locker in D.C. If Mulder wants it, he’ll have to go with Krycek to get it. Yay, road trip! Mulder allows Krycek to get cleaned up in the restroom, which is where Joan finds him. When Krycek emerges, his eyes turn black. To be continued!
Thoughts: Piper Maru is the name of Gillian Anderson’s daughter. If you’d like to feel old, she was about one at the time of this episode and is now in her 20s.
One of the sailors in Johansen’s flashback is played by Michael Bublé.
I would watch a spin-off of Jeraldine being an awesome businesswoman.
This episode teaches us the Portuguese for “suck it,” which Skinner’s shooter says after the shooting: “chupa dura.” Who says TV isn’t educational?