January 7, 2017
The X-Files 4.12, Leonard Betts: “You’ve Got Something I Need”
Summary: An ambulance is on its way to a hospital in Pittsburgh, carrying a man who seems to be having a heart attack. One of the paramedics, Leonard, does something life-saving and tells his partner that the patient was really having breathing problems. He can tell that the patient is dying of cancer. Before he can explain to his partner how he knows that, the ambulance crashes. The partner survives, but Leonard ends up headless. That night, after putting Leonard in a drawer, a morgue attendant hears noises and goes to investigate. Guess who’s still alive?
Mulder and Scully come up to Pennsylvania to find out how Leonard’s drawer can now be empty. The morgue attendant was knocked out and his clothes stolen, but he didn’t see who the thief was. Scully asks if Mulder’s suggesting that a man without a head walked out of the morgue. Mulder’s face: “…What if I am?” Scully thinks someone stole the body and there’s a cover-up going on. Mulder wonders why someone would steal a body without a head.
A police officer shows them surveillance photos of the thief, but static on the feed obscures his head (or possibly the space where his head should be). Scully thinks the thief hid the body in an area of the hospital marked for the destruction of biohazardous material. She volunteers to check the storage place, an experience Mulder isn’t happy to have to join in on. They find Leonard’s head, but not his body. Mulder sends Scully to examine the head while Mulder checks out Leonard’s house.
Scully does her thing, noticing that the head hasn’t decomposed in the amount of time it should have since the accident. Also, the eyes and mouth open and close on their own, which probably isn’t normal for a decapitated head. As Mulder enters Leonard’s apartment, someone runs through it and hides. In the bathroom, Mulder finds the stolen scrubs and a bathtub full of something dark, with a trail leading out the window. He also spots a bottle of iodine.
Scully calls to report that every time she tries to scan the head, the image is grainy, like the security footage. The technicians told her that only radiation could distort the image, but there’s no indication of where it’s coming from. Scully has suspended the examination because of the head’s movements; she knows they’re from chemical reactions, but she’s still wary about cutting into it.
Mulder tells her that whoever took the body went to Leonard’s apartment. Maybe it was Leonard himself. Scully doesn’t know how to respond to that. As Mulder leaves the apartment, Leonard, now reheaded, emerges from the iodine-filled bathtub.
Mulder tracks down Leonard’s partner, Michele, who confirms that he had no family or friends. They worked together, but Leonard did most of the work – he could diagnose people practically just by looking at them. He was always healthy, despite being around sick people, and was never injured on the job until the accident. Michele’s curious as to why Mulder’s asking questions about Leonard when he should by trying to find out what happened to his body.
Scully does something high-tech with the head so she can autopsy it. A doctor named Burks examines a piece of his brain, which shows cancer in every cell. Leonard shouldn’t have even been alive. This isn’t as shocking to Mulder as it should be. Michele is back at work with a new partner, and she’s stunned to hear what sounds like Leonard’s voice on her radio, helping out with a patient in another ambulance.
Burks does something called aura photography to show Leonard’s chi, or coronal discharge. Scully’s skeptical (shocking!), but Mulder thinks this could explain the unclear scans. Burks explains that this kind of procedure can show things that have been removed, like vestigial tails. This one shows “some kind of energy.” Burks finds it hard to believe that the head was decapitated, since the picture shows a regular neck and pair of shoulders attached to the head.
Mulder thinks everything makes sense – the cancer wasn’t destructive, as it usually is, but Leonard’s “normal state of being.” His life force retained a kind of blueprint of his body, allowing him to regenerate quickly. Scully, translating to English: “You think that Leonard Betts regrew his head?” Mulder tells her about the iodine he found, which is often used in regeneration. Scully points out that no creatures can regrow their heads (worms don’t count). Mulder thinks they just haven’t found one yet that can.
Scully gets a call about Leonard’s fingerprints, which reveal that he went by another name, Albert Tanner. Albert’s mother, Elaine, is in the area, so the agents head over to talk to her. Elaine has never heard the name Leonard Betts, and she hasn’t heard that he died recently…since she thinks Albert died in a car accident six years ago.
As Michele leaves work that night, she asks around about new paramedics. She spots Leonard, who confirms that he’s alive, then says he wishes she hadn’t found him. As he’s hugging her, he injects her with something that makes her convulse. A security guard sees them and chases after Leonard, tackling him in the parking lot and handcuffing him to a car. As the guard walks away to radio in a report and check on Michele, Leonard removes one of his thumbs to escape the cuffs.
At least now Mulder and Scully have another of Leonard’s body parts to examine. Michele’s dead, thanks to a lethal dose of an electrolyte that the coroner wouldn’t normal check for, since it occurs naturally in the body. Scully doesn’t believe Mulder’s theory that Leonard tore off his own thumb to get away. Evolution doesn’t work that way. Mulder disagrees – evolution doesn’t proceed in a straight line, and the unimaginable can happen in the gap between what humans are and what Leonard has become.
Scully argues that Leonard would have to be so evolved that he’s technically not human anymore. Mulder thinks the fact that he drives a Dodge Dart is evidence of that. They check out his trunk, which contains a cooler full of surgical waste – specifically, tumors. Mulder thinks that Leonard’s not just cancer, but that he needs it to survive. It makes sense to him that evolution would incorporate a threat in its makeup. As a paramedic, Leonard would have access to cancer wards.
The police trace Leonard’s car to Elaine, so the agents go back to her house with a warrant. Even after being warned that she might be an accessory to murder, Elaine isn’t helpful. She tells the agents that when Leonard was picked on as a child for being different, he ignored them because he knew he was special. Even when he was beaten up, he didn’t fight back. She doesn’t believe that he’s capable of murder, but if he killed Michele, he had reasons. God wants him to stay alive for a reason.
Leonard and his slowly regenerating thumb go to a bar and stalk a man with a bad cough. Leonard tells the man, “I’m sorry, but you’ve got something I need” and removes a scalpel from his sleeve. At Elaine’s house, Mulder and Scully find a receipt for a storage locker. Leonard’s already there, growing another new head with help from some truly gross CGI. When the agents arrive, the find the coughing man’s body and barely get out of the way of Leonard’s car as he’s driving away. The agents shoot at the car, which goes up in flames. I don’t think that’s FBI procedure, guys.
Scully examines the body of the coughing man, which is now missing a lung. Mulder guesses that he had lung cancer, and Leonard took his tumor. Scully’s sure that Leonard’s dead for real this time, and he’s even willing to bet on it. The agents check out Albert’s coffin, which still contains a dead body, now lying near Leonard’s dead body. Scully thinks they’re just dealing with identical twins. Mulder’s able to believe that Leonard can just regenerate his whole body and will turn up again.
This is exactly right, as Elaine has a body in her bathtub and is regenerating it with iodine. She warns her son that the FBI is still investigating, and he’ll need to restore his strength so he can keep fighting. Mulder and Scully stake out Elaine’s house, where an ambulance soon shows up for a call about a woman with chest trauma and massive blood loss. The agents go inside with the paramedics, and Scully finds Elaine alive, though she’s had something removed from her chest.
Mulder calls for backup while Scully goes to the hospital with Elaine. She calls Mulder from the hospital (“Mulder, it’s me”) to report that Elaine has gotten worse, so they won’t be able to talk to her for a while. As Mulder’s talking, Scully feels something dripping on her and sees iodine on her fingers. When she spots it on the roof of the ambulance, she tells Mulder to get to the hospital ASAP. It seems Leonard hitched a ride to the hospital on top of the ambulance. He pulls Scully inside the vehicle and says, “I’m sorry, but you’ve got something I need.”
Leonard tries to cut into Scully with a scalpel (right between the eyes, just where Gerry indicated in “Unruhe”), but she’s awesome and manages to fight him. She finishes him off by using defibrillation paddles on his head. Mulder wraps up the case as Scully tries to figure out just what Leonard’s words to her mean. That night, she wakes up coughing and sees drops of blood on her pillow. Her nose is bleeding.
Thoughts: Leonard is played by Paul McCrane (ER, Fame).
You can tell Scully’s seen a lot of weird things because when Mulder tells her that Leonard disappeared despite not having a head, she doesn’t even blink.
Scully says Leonard’s head weighs 10.9 pounds, which means the kid from Jerry Maguire was wrong.
Mulder, answering his phone: “Mulder.” Scully: “It’s me.” Nope, not the same.
If people think you’re dead and you don’t want them to find out you’re not, maybe move to another town? How did Leonard get a new job so quickly anyway? And since he was a well-known paramedic, wouldn’t the person who hired him find him familiar?
The coughing man’s name turns out to be John Gillnitz, a name used multiple times on the show. It’s a combination of three writer/producers’ names: John Shiban, Vince Gilligan, and Frank Spotnitz.