December 17, 2016
The X-Files 4.9, Terma: In Soviet Russia, Oil Changes You
Summary: At a convalescent home in Boca Raton, Florida, someone’s Auntie Janet is summoned to be euthanized in the back of someone’s van. But something goes wrong and fluids start leaking out of her. Over in Russia, a man in St. Petersburg named Vassily Peskow gets a late-night message from someone in Krasnoyarsk. Vassily says he’s retired, but the messenger delivers a letter and a verbal message from a Comrade Arntzen anyway: “The Cold War isn’t over.”
Mulder is back in his cell in the gulag, unable to remember being returned there. His neighbor tells him he was exposed to the “black cancer” that comes from the rock. The neighbor was a geologist and was present when the first rock fragments were uncovered. He tells Mulder that hundreds of men have died in the gulag, and the search for a cure is taking a long time. Mulder wonders if the tests being performed are attempts to find that cure.
He asks after Krycek, who the neighbor thinks is buddies with the guards now. Mulder decides that the possibility of one day killing Krycek is a good motivation to survive. The neighbor gives him a shiv he once made to kill himself, saying he’d rather take hope from the rock than die – if the black oil could survive “against all odds,” the men can survive, too.
In Maryland, Dr. Sacks is still unconscious. Scully and another doctor scan him and find a nest of wormy organisms next to his pineal gland. Vassily is now in the U.S., surprising a woman named Dr. Charne-Sayre on a horse farm in Charlottesville, Virginia. (She appears to be the woman who was riding a horse in “Tunguska.”) He says he’s there to see her, but he’s really there to strangle her.
Skinner tracks down Scully at her apartment, demanding answers about the pouch and Krycek. He’s annoyed that he’s going into the subcommittee hearing the next day not knowing what to say. Scully can only tell him they’re dealing with a biohazardous organism; they haven’t found out anything else.
Skinner, however, has learned that the pouch was supposed to be delivered to Dr. Charne-Sayre. Scully recognizes her as an expert on variola viruses – in other words, smallpox. Charne-Sayre thinks the remaining stores of the virus in the U.S. and Russia. Skinner reveals that Charne-Sayre was killed earlier that night, supposedly in a riding accident.
In the gulag, Mulder and a bunch of other men are taken outside. He meets his neighbor, who points out that Krycek is now on such good terms with the guards that he even hugs one. Mulder runs up to Krycek, knocks him out, and drives off with him in the back of a delivery truck. Guards on horseback go after them, but their horses aren’t fast enough. The truck’s brakes are bad, so Mulder has a hard time controlling the truck. Krycek jumps out the back just before Mulder crashes the truck and rolls it down a hill.
WMM summons CSM to Charne-Sayre’s farm, wanting him to look into the doctor’s death. CSM asks if WMM was sleeping with Charne-Sayre, a foolish mistake that could compromise their work. WMM just orders CSM to find her killer. CSM tells WMM to end the congressional investigation, but WMM says he can’t. However, Sorenson is an honorable man: “They’re all honorable men.” CSM mentions that Mulder was captured in Russia, then escaped. “Wake the Russian bear and it may find we’ve stolen its honey,” he says.
Speaking of Mulder, he’s not in the truck when the guards find it. Krycek is trying to find his way through the woods when he comes across a group of men. They don’t believe his story that he escaped from the gulag. He tells them he’s American and was falsely accused of smiling. The men decide that they have the same enemy, so he’s safe with them. Mulder, meanwhile, has hidden himself under leaves, and the guards can’t find him.
We’re back at the beginning of “Tunguska,” with Scully beginning her testimony at the hearing. Sorenson receives a message while she makes her opening statement. He threatens here with contempt of Congress if she doesn’t tell them where Mulder is. Cut to Scully being escorted to a cell for not revealing where her partner is.
The man whose truck Mulder stole finds him in the leaves and takes him home so his wife can tend to him. She finds a puncture wound on his arm and realizes he was subjected to “the test.” She explains that her husband only made deliveries at the gulag and is afraid of the men who run it. Mulder doesn’t want the guards to find him with these innocent people, so he decides to leave.
The wife calls in her son, who only has one arm, which means he can’t be given the test. Mulder says that the smallpox scar on the wife’s arm is a form of identification. He offers to help the family escape if they can help him get to St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, it’s too late. But the men who’ve taken in Krycek have the same solution as this family, surprising him in the middle of the night to cut off his arm.
Scully spends her time in lockup reading Charne-Sayres’ work on smallpox. Skinner visits to question her insistence on keeping quiet, but Scully says there’s more going on. The subcommittee is focused on finding Mulder instead of the fact that Charne-Sayres is dead and Sacks has been infected with whatever was in the pouch being sent to her. Since a lot of men on the subcommittee are lawyers, Scully thinks they’re asking the wrong question on purpose – they don’t want the answer to the right one.
Skinner thinks they’re looking for Mulder because he has the right answers. Scully points out that they might want to keep him from finding those answers. She wants to believe that the men on the subcommittee think they’re doing the right thing, but in this case, she needs to align herself with Mulder. Meanwhile, Vassily visits Sacks and injects him with something that makes black oil leak out of him.
CSM tells WMM that he’s tied Charne-Sayre’s murder to Vassily. WMM is stunned that anyone outside of him, CSM, and four other people knew about their project. He’s sure that Charne-Sayre never told anyone. He orders CSM to find Vassily, but CSM thinks someone else is going to take care of that for them.
Scully returns to the hearing the next day, but she still won’t reveal Mulder’s whereabouts. She thinks it’s much more important to talk about the pouchless man and Charne-Sayre’s deaths. Sorenson demands an answer, but Scully doesn’t need to give one: Mulder’s there. Scully announces that Charne-Sayre must have known something about the origins of the biohazardous organism, and that may have been linked to the death of the pouchless man.
Skinner interrupts to tell Scully that Sacks is dead and the pouch contents are gone. The hearing goes to recess, and Mulder and Scully reunite with a hug. Skinner interrupts AGAIN to get them back on topic. Scully asks Skinner to send her and Mulder to Boca Raton; if they’re not back for the next hearing session, he’ll need to stall the subcommittee. He approves the trip but warns that he can’t help if the agents aren’t back for the next session.
Scully explains to Mulder that Charne-Sayre was a doctor at some convalescent homes in Boca Raton, and one of her patients recently died. Vassily has followed the same thread and is now at one of the homes, swapping out some pills. When the agents arrive, they find one man dead and a woman leaking black oil. Mulder realizes that the patients are test subjects who’ve been poisoned. Scully calls for a quarantine and has the home sealed. Vassily’s still in the home, having hidden in a bed like a patient.
I guess the quarantine doesn’t apply to the agents, since they go to a prison to talk to a man named Terry Mayhew. He was one of the militia members Krycek set up in “Tunguska,” though he wasn’t going by Krycek – he used the name Arntzen. Mulder wants to know how Krycek and Mayhew met. Mayhew says Krycek wanted to build two “devices,” and he talked about the “black cancer.” The U.S. government knew about the oil and didn’t have a cure or inoculation for it.
Mulder asks about the second bomb, since the Feds stopped the militia from building the first one. It takes a threat of violence, but Mayhew reveals that they stored the second bomb in Terma, North Dakota. Mulder has Scully start a search for stolen trucks and make sure the bomb can’t be taken to Canada. He thinks someone used Krycek, who then used the agents, all so the U.S. couldn’t get its hands on the rock. The agents figure that they would want to put it back in the ground.
Vassily transports a rental truck full of fertilizer (for his tomatoes, eh?) into Canada while Mulder and Scully take a helicopter to Terma. Mulder sends Scully to a refinery to hunt down the truck while he checks out Vassily’s. He can’t get in, but he sees a big pipe nearby. Vassily spots Scully arriving at the refinery while Mulder reaches into the pipe. Before he can reach what’s inside, an oil derrick starts spouting oil. Mulder has just a few seconds to run before it explodes, destroying whatever he was reaching for.
Scully’s close enough to see the explosion, but Vassily grabs her before she can go looking for her partner. He grabs her gun but tells her he’d rather not kill her if she doesn’t make him; his work is done. He lets her go, so she heads to the field to help Mulder. Whatever they were trying to get, it’s definitely gone.
The agents make it back for the next hearing, but all Scully can tell the subcommittee is that a bunch of people are dead, Krycek is missing and might also be dead, and the contents of the pouch are still gone. However, she thinks the biotoxin that killed Sacks is extraterrestrial.
Sorenson scoffs, which makes Mulder mad. Scientific journalists want to explore other planets, and there’s proof on Earth of life on other planets. The whole committee should be held in contempt for ignoring the evidence. The hearing is recessed, and CSM, who was sitting in the back, leaves before anyone can see him.
In St. Petersburg, Vassily gets a visit from the person who gave him his orders to kill Charne-Sayre. It’s Krycek, and he’s pleased with Vassily’s work. Also, he has a brand-new accessory to show off: a prosthetic hand. In the U.S., Sorenson gives CSM all the evidence the agents presented at the hearing, and CSM tosses it all in a trash can, probably planning to burn it all with his cigarette.
Thoughts: Hey, Sorenson? It’s not Ms. Scully. It’s Agent Scully or Dr. Scully. Show some respect, huh?
NASA’s security is pretty awful if Vassily was able to get access to Sacks and inject him without anyone noticing.
God help me but after days of torture, travel, and what I imagine was some really subpar gruel and borscht, Mulder looks hot.