February 4, 2017
The X-Files 4.16, Unrequited: Oh, Good, Another Episode About Vietnam
Summary: There’s a big gathering near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., and a general named Bloch is giving a speech about the country’s armed forces. Mulder, Scully, and Skinner are there, trying to track a man in the crowd. Scully spots the man, who then sees her as well. The agents quietly close in on him, but they all lose sight of him. Skinner warns that he’s right in front of Mulder, but as Skinner moves to protect Bloch, the man vanishes.
12 hours earlier, a helicopter lands at Fort Evanston, Maryland, carrying a lieutenant general named MacDougal. He finds a playing card in his limo, the king of hearts, with a skull and crossed bloody bayonets on the back. Suddenly the man from the rally is in the limo. He shoots MacDougal dead, but when the driver pulls the car over to check on him, the shooter is gone.
Skinner tells a group of agents about the mysterious murder, which authorities suspect was the work of the driver, Private Burkholder. There may be an accomplice, and Burkholder could have ties to a paramilitary group called the Right Hand, which is known for leaving playing cards on their victims. Mulder and Scully enter as Skinner tells the agents to look into the Right Hand’s leader, an ex-Marine named Denny Markham. The agents only have 12 hours to prevent more murders before the rally.
Mulder and Scully have just come from interviewing Burkholder, who passed a polygraph. Mulder believes he’s innocent, but Skinner thinks someone involved is lying. Scully asks for permission for her and Mulder to serve a warrant on Markham. Skinner warns them to be extremely careful so no other soldiers are killed.
The agents head to Demeter, Virginia, driving past a sign with a handprint on it. The same handprint is on a locked gate Markham is hesitant to open for them. He lets them in, but dogs chase them back out. Markham comes out to speak to the agents through the gate, though it’s mostly to refuse to answer any questions. Scully points out that a new anti-terrorism law gives the agents the right to hold him for questioning. A team of snipers hiding in the nearby woods does, too.
Markham won’t break confidentiality with the people on the Right Hand’s mailing list, and adds that they’re willing to do pretty much everything to protect themselves from a corrupt government. Mulder shows Markham the king of hearts, leading Markham to warn that more men will be killed. The snipers clear a bunch of weapons from Markham’s house as Markham chats with Mulder, giving him a picture of the killer, Nathaniel Teager.
Teager was a Green Beret in Vietnam, left for dead after the rest of his squadron died. The Right Hand found him in a POW camp in 1995. Scully disagrees that there were still POWs in Vietnam after 1973. Markham tells her the government tried to kidnap Teager after the Right Hand found him, but he vanished before they could get him.
Mulder thinks “a phantom POW left for dead comes back to avenge injustices” is a reasonable explanation for this case. Scully figures it’s just a cover-up for a conspiracy. She suggests that they give Markham a polygraph; when he inevitably fails, they’ll have their answers. Meanwhile, Teager approaches a woman named Mrs. Davenport at the Vietnam Memorial, telling her that her husband, Gary, isn’t dead. He gives her Gary’s dog tags, then disappears.
Mulder and Scully head to the memorial next, confirming with Skinner that Mrs. Davenport IDed Teager. Skinner has also confirmed that Teager’s remains have been stored at a lab since he supposedly died in the 1970s. Scully thinks someone’s posing as Teager to mess with Mrs. Davenport and distract the agents. Poor Mrs. Davenport is now conflicted about whether her first husband is really dead or not. She starts crying blood, which can’t make her day any better. Mulder thinks there’s a connection to Teager’s ability to vanish into thin air.
While Scully takes Mrs. Davenport to get an eye exam, Mulder meets with a Dr. Keyser at the lab holding Teager’s remains. The remains include teeth with scoring on them, and since there’s no way to know if the scores were made before or after death, Mulder notes that they’re not exactly proof that Teager is dead. In fact, the official report says the results are “inconclusive,” so whoever declared Teager dead chose to ignore that.
Mulder calls a general named Steffan to warn that he may be in danger. Steffan signed Teager’s death certificate, and Mulder thinks Teager might go after him next. Steffan reluctantly agrees to listen to Mulder and follow his instructions to keep himself safe. Steffan goes to his office at the Pentagon, and Teager follows, unseen even as he passes through a metal detector. But there’s a king of diamonds on Steffan’s desk when he arrives.
Scully takes Mrs. Davenport to Georgetown Medical Center, where a doctor finds a retinal blind spot on her eye that could explain her inability to see Teager when he supposedly disappeared. Scully calls Mulder, who finds it odd that someone could have a blind spot she never noticed before. The doctor thought Scully was crazy for suggesting that the blind spot was responsible for Mrs. Davenport thinking a human being disappeared.
Steffan calls Mulder to tell him about the card, not realizing that Teager is also in his office. Mulder orders him to call in some officers to protect him, but it’s too late – Teager shoots Steffan while he’s still on the phone. An invisible Teager watches as Mulder picks up the card, then looks right where he’s standing without seeing him.
Scully examines Steffan’s body but can’t explain how he could be shot at such a highly guarded facility. Skinner shows her and Mulder surveillance footage from the entrance, and they clearly see Teager enter then Pentagon. Mulder tells Skinner his theory that Teager can turn invisible by manipulating a blind spot. He thinks Teager learned the trick from the guerrilla fighters who kept him as a POW for 25 years.
Skinner knows he can’t protect all the soldiers arriving for the upcoming rally and parade, so Scully suggests that he cancel the events. Mulder says it doesn’t matter – the only way to protect everyone is to catch Teager. To do that, they need to figure out who his next victim is and protect him. Well, that sounds reasonable. It’s not like there are thousands of military personnel in D.C.
Bloch visits Markham, who doesn’t share his concerns that soldiers are being killed. Markham may be charged with conspiracy and treason, along with possession of illegal arms, but Bloch can offer him a deal if he helps find Teager. Markham says that Bloch can’t give Teager what he wants, at least not without harming his reputation. Teager is sending a message.
As the parade begins, Mulder meets Marita at the Lincoln Memorial to get info on Teager. She tells him that MacDougal and Steffan are connected to a recent news story about the “disposing” of soldiers in South Vietnam. Mulder’s familiar with the scandal – commandos and spies were sent to Vietnam but weren’t protected, so they were captured and killed.
The operation was disavowed, and the three men responsible for their mission – who include Steffan and MacDougal – erased their lives from official records. Those men are now facing charges, and their testimonies could be used to calculate reparations for the soldiers who died. Mulder realizes that this means the U.S. government wants MacDougal, Steffan, and their third comrade dead. They only asked the FBI to protect the men because they know the agents can’t.
Mulder asks Marita for the name of the third man, which I’m sure everyone in the audience has already figured out. Scully and Skinner definitely have, as they run through the parade to grab Bloch. Scully sees Teager in the crowd and pulls a gun to stop him from shooting anyone. Of course, he disappears.
Scully and Mulder meet up later, and Mulder is sure that Scully was sure she saw Teager, though his disappearance makes her wonder. He tells her and Skinner what Marita said about the government wanting the FBI to fail in their investigation. Now they can continue denying that there were POWs left behind after 1973. Mulder thinks Markham is their most valuable ally right now.
Mulder challenges Bloch to come clean, but Bloch is giving a speech at the rally and isn’t going to let a pesky thing like his life being in danger keep him from his duty. So the agents’ 12 hours are up, and the rally begins. A rally attendee recognizes Teager and follows him behind some fences, where – you guessed it – Teager disappears. But this time he’s just hiding for dramatic purposes.
The attendee, Danzinger, is shocked to see his supposedly dead buddy alive and well. Teager tells him that “they” wanted him to believe Teager was dead. He promises that after tonight, Danzinger will believe. Teager says he waited for rescue, but no one came for him. He knows the people in charge thought it was easier to just let him die rather than have to admit the truth. Danzinger reminds Teager that the war has been over for 20 years, but Teager says for him – and the others – it’s still going on. He gives Danzinger a list of names, then disappears.
Bloch takes the stage and finds an ace of clubs on his podium. Now we’re back at the opening scene of the episode, with the agents scanning the crowd for Teager. Once he disappears, Mulder tells Scully that he thinks Teager can only hide himself in someone’s direct line of sight. They go to meet up with Skinner and Bloch, and Mulder figures out that Teager’s waiting in Bloch’s car.
There’s some gunfire, but an agent is able to shoot the invisible Teager and stop him from driving off. Teager’s vanishing trick is the next thing to vanish, and he appears to everyone as he’s dying. He recites his date of birth and service number to Scully over and over. There’s a close-up of an American flag, in case we’ve already forgotten that this is our country’s fault, or whatever.
Sometime later, Mulder and Skinner meet up at the Veterans Memorial, where Mulder brings the news that officials won’t admit that Teager was Teager. They claim he’s Thomas Lynch, a member of the Right Hand who spent time in psychiatric facilities. Markham is backing up that story. Mulder complains that the government is lying again, “trying to make him invisible.” Okay, we get it. Really.
Mulder wants to try to get Teager’s body released, but Skinner tells him the investigation has been sent to another agency. They found Teager, and now he’s dead, so their job is done. Mulder’s upset that the government denied Teager’s life, and now they’re denying his death. He points out that Skinner could have suffered the same fate. After Mulder leaves, Skinner studies the wall, finding Teager’s name.
Thoughts: It’s funny to watch an episode about the U.S. military full of actors with Canadian accents.
Teager must have also learned a trick to make himself look younger, because he doesn’t look old enough to have served in a war that occurred 20 years before the episode aired.
No way would Scully pull a weapon on someone standing with a bunch of civilians, especially when she didn’t see him holding a weapon. Nice try, show.