March 4, 2017
The X-Files 4.20, Small Potatoes: Tail as Old as Time
Summary: At Tablers Community Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia, a woman named Amanda is in labor and isn’t happy about it. A nurse tries to get information on the baby’s father, but Amanda isn’t sure how to get in touch with him, since he’s not local. Actually, he’s from another planet. The baby, a girl, comes quickly, and the doctor says that she’s fine, but he’s lying. Well, unless “perfectly fine” includes having a tail. “Not another one,” the doctor laments.
Mulder and Scully get involved in the case after her reads a tabloid article about monkey babies in a small town. He’s surprised that Scully isn’t more interested in children being born with vestigial tails. Scully says it’s not completely unheard of, though five in one town is an anomaly. She just thinks the local Health Department should handle it. She figures Mulder wants to look into things as well because the tabloid is blaming aliens.
The agents meet Amanda, who has a good outlook on the tail, which can be removed when the baby’s a few months old. Scully asks if Amanda had any fertility treatments; she didn’t, and wasn’t trying to get pregnant. The father came over to her place one day, one thing led to another, and nine months later, Amanda’s a mom.
Mulder asks about the father, wondering if Amanda was abducted by aliens. Amanda outlines a regular fling like anyone would have with a human. Only she had her fling with Luke Skywalker, renowned Jedi knight. He didn’t have a lightsaber, but he sang Amanda the theme song from Star Wars. After learning that Amanda has seen the move 368 times, Mulder decides to duck out. Amanda wants to know if her baby’s father could also be the father of the other tailed babies in town.
A group of people, including Mulder and a guy named Eddie, is outside the nursery, admiring Amanda’s daughter. Scully takes Mulder to the local Health Department, so they can compare the children’s DNA. They all have the same birth defect, meaning they all have the same father. He probably also had a tail, though it was probably removed. Mulder wonders how this could happen. “Birds and the bees and the monkey babies,” Scully replies. “Birds do it, bees do it, even educated M.D.s do it,” Mulder says, which I think is his admission that he wants Scully to do it with him.
Mulder thinks that since the mothers all share the same OB, and four of them underwent fertility treatments, the doctor is the father. “So much for not putting all your eggs in one basket,” he says, which doesn’t really make sense. The agents gather all the angry parents (one of whom thinks Mulder and Scully are another couple with a tailed baby) at the doctor’s clinic, but he insists that he did everything by the book. However, he was surprised that his process to get the women pregnant worked all four times. Now he wonders if it really did.
Mulder wanders off and finds Eddie working on a sink. He notices a scar on Eddie’s butt, right where a tail might once have been. Eddie realizes Mulder’s on to him and takes off running, but Mulder tackles him and shows off his scar to all the parents. Paternity tests prove that Eddie Van Blundht (the H is silent) is the father of all five tailed babies.
The agents are interested in finding out how Eddie fathered five children with women who claim they never slept with him. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong, since the women all got babies and no one got hurt. Mulder and Scully step aside, and Scully presents her theory that Eddie roofied all the women and raped them. They at least have enough to go on to keep Eddie in custody while they investigate.
A sheriff’s deputy takes down Eddie’s information as Eddie studies him carefully. Suddenly, the deputy realizes that Eddie now looks just like him. Eddie knocks him out, and when he’s found the next morning, the sheriff is confused, since he said goodnight to the deputy as he left the night before. The deputy tells the agents that Eddie turned into him before knocking him out. Scully predicts Mulder’s theory that they’re dealing with someone who can take on other people’s appearances. “Should we be picking out china patterns or what?” asks a surprised Mulder.
Scully thinks the deputy is confused, and the sheriff just mistook Eddie for him since Eddie was wearing the deputy’s uniform. Mulder points out that all the mothers mistook Eddie for their husbands, and Amanda mistook him for Luke Skywalker. There has to be something else going on, and yeah, it could include aliens, so maybe don’t be so judgmental, Scully.
As the agents head over to Eddie’s parents’ house, Mulder asks Scully who she would be for a day, if she could be anyone. She picks herself, so he calls her boring. She’s not interested in being someone else for a day, though Mulder would like to see how people react to others. Scully picks Eleanor Roosevelt, but Mulder vetoes this, saying she can’t pick a dead person, for some reason.
The elder Mr. Van Blundht, who still has his tail, tells the agents that he doesn’t know where his son is. He didn’t think his son should have his removed, since without it, he was nothing interesting – just “small potatoes.” As Mr. Van Blundht continues talking about his son, Mulder wonders how he knows Mulder’s name. He quickly realizes that this is really Eddie pretending to be his father. But when you’re looking for a guy who can transform into someone else, it’s easy for him to run off and disappear.
Eddie transforms into a guy named Fred, the supposed father of one of the tailed babies. He tricks Fred’s wife, who’s just confused about the clothes her not-husband is now wearing. The agents search Mr. Van Blundht’s house, finding his dead body, which has been there for a while. Meanwhile, the real Fred comes home, and he and his wife realize there’s an intruder in the house. Now Eddie looks like Mulder, and he pretends he was checking the place out.
Scully autopsies Mr. Van Blundt’s body, finding striated muscle tissue all over him. She’s pleased that the body is completely intact, though not for long, as Mulder accidentally breaks off his tail. He wonders if Eddie and his father have the same muscle structure, and somehow use it to turn into other people. Scully thinks Eddie just has an identical twin.
Mulder decides to look into Eddie’s M.O., since Amanda doesn’t fit the pattern of the other mothers. Amanda’s still in the hospital, since it’s not clear if she’s sane enough to take care of a child on her own. Mulder shows her a picture of Eddie, who she dated in high school, though she really regrets that now. She thinks he’s a loser and came from a loser family. Mulder asks about any good qualities Eddie might have had. Amanda admires his love of Star Wars, though Eddie’s no Luke. What’s becoming evident, though not to Amanda, is that this isn’t really Mulder.
Fake Mulder (we’ll call him Muldie) hides as the real Mulder comes to see Amanda. She’s confused, since he just questioned her. Fred calls Mulder to follow up on his search of their home, and now Mulder’s the one who’s confused. Fred wants to know how Mulder chased Eddie into his bathroom, then asked to borrow a suit. Mulder catches on quickly, asking Amanda, “I was just here – where did I go?”
Following a lead to the men’s locker room, Mulder apprehends a security guard, apologizing in advance if he has the wrong guy. The doctor from the clinic enters, so Mulder handcuffs both men. He plans to give them blood tests, then release the innocent one. He calls Scully (“hey, it’s me” – close enough) and summons her to the hospital, then gets distracted by a flickering light and a gap in the ceiling tiles. Eddie’s hiding up there, and wants Mulder to know how good-looking he is before he attacks.
When Scully gets to the hospital, Mulder is releasing the guard and doctor, though he’s lost track of the real Eddie. He tells Scully that she was right, and the case is nothing – just “small potatoes.” As Scully leaves with her partner – or at least with a guy who looks just like him – the real Mulder, stuck in the boiler room, yells for help.
Scully and Muldie head home to D.C. and present Skinner with their case report. He’s unimpressed with Muldie’s misspelling of “Federal Bureau of Investigation” (twice). Scully confirms that Mr. Van Blundht died of natural causes, but his son hid his body so he could take his identity and continue collecting his Social Security checks. So Eddie’s not a murderer, but he’s a rapist. Muldie takes offense.
As the agents leave their meeting, Muldie asks if Scully has weekend plans. That right there should be a red flag to her. She wants to look at Mr. Van Blundht’s tissue more carefully, so she heads off to Quantico. Muldie decides to get acquainted with Mulder’s office, almost falling out of his chair. “This is where my tax dollars go?” he asks as he looks over Mulder’s decorations.
He heads home, wondering where he sleeps, as the audience has wondered for years. He ignores answering-machine messages from the Lone Gunmen (they think there was a third gunmen at Dealey Plaza, and they’re going out for cheesesteaks) and a woman named Chantal who misses “Marty”‘s calls on her phone-sex line. Muldie practices presenting his badge and declaring himself an FBI agent, then does a DeNiro impression in the mirror and admires his handsome new face.
Somehow Muldie finds out where Scully lives and visits her with a bottle of wine. He pretends to be interested when she says she found another anomaly in Mr. Van Blundht’s biology. He’d much rather talk to Scully, since they never just chat. Scully’s up for this, telling Muldie about a prom disaster she never mentioned to him before. She tells him she’s seeing a whole new side to him, and she likes it.
Muldie asks if Scully ever wishes things were different. How far is she from the person she thought she would be when she was younger? Does she wish she could go back and do things differently? Scully turns the question back on him, but instead of responding, he moves closer and starts to kiss her. Just then, the real Mulder bursts into the apartment. Busted, Eddie turns back into himself.
A month later, Mulder visits Eddie in prison, where he’s wearing a hat that declares him a “superstar!” in an attempt to improve his self-esteem. It doesn’t help, since the other inmates just beat him up and take it. Mulder wonders why he was summoned, while Eddie wonders if his partner didn’t come with him. He reveals that he’s on muscle relaxants that prevent him from shape-shifting.
Eddie laughs at Mulder for being a loser by choice while Eddie has no say in the matter. He thinks Mulder should treat himself, since Eddie would do so if he were in Mulder’s place. Mulder leaves, joining Scully, who assures him that he’s not a loser. He notes that he’s not Eddie either. As they head off together, a janitor mops the floors, wearing Eddie’s orange coveralls and “superstar!” hat.
Thoughts: Eddie is played by Darin Morgan, who also played the Flukeman. Tail or no tail, loser or no loser, this is a much better look for him.
One of the headlines on Mulder’s tabloid is “Etap Bigshot Busted,” a reference to “Unruhe.” The mugshot is of the show’s assistant prop master, Jim Pate, whose last name was reversed to provide the name Etap.
I love how Skinner asks who misspelled “Federal Bureau of Investigation,” like, did he really think it was Scully?