March 18, 2017
The X-Files 4.22, Elegy: Mulder Tries to Make “Fetch” Happen
Summary: It’s closing time at Angie’s Midnight Bowl in D.C., and one employee, Harold, is doing a meticulous job of putting away shoes. His boss, Mr. Pintero, tries to send him home, then chastises him for not working faster. Harold appears to have autism or some similar disorder, and he gets upset when Pintero tries to rush him along.
Harold finally leaves, and Pintero notices that the pinsetter in one lane is still sweeping aside pins and returning balls. He sees blood on a ball and under the pins. When he looks up into the machine, he sees a young woman bleeding and trying to speak. Pintero goes to the phone to call the police, but they’re already there. When Pintero runs out to talk to them, he sees a woman on the ground, bleeding – the same woman he saw inside.
Mulder and Scully check out the alley, though Scully would rather be anywhere else. Having to wear bowling shoes doesn’t help. The pinsetter Pintero saw the woman on is broken, as if something heavy was on top of it. The body and blood were gone when Pintero came back inside, but he insists that the woman in the alley was the same woman he saw outside. Scully’s face: “Sure, sure.”
Mulder thinks they’re dealing with a ghost who was trying to tell Pintero something. Specifically, he thinks the ghost was a death omen. He bowls a strike, then tells Scully this has happened twice recently. He uses a soda to expose something written on the alley, under the pinsetter, where the blood used to be: “SHE IS ME.”
The police put together a taskforce to look for what they think is a serial killer. The head of the taskforce, Hudak, catches Mulder whispering to Scully and asks if he has something to share with the class. Mulder presents his theory that they’re dealing with a fetch or wraith. He asks about written messages in the other cases.
Hudak tells him that, according to a 911 caller, the dying words of one of the other victims, Penny, were “she is me.” However, there’s no way she could have said anything, since her larynx was severed. Mulder thinks someone should follow up. Hudak is like, “Thanks for volunteering to take care of that.”
The agents go to New Horizon Psychiatric Center, which happens to be where Harold lives. The residents are gathered so the agents can talk to them all together. Mulder asks if anyone used the pay phone on Friday night, since someone used it to call 911. One resident, Chuck, confesses, but he’s lying. Mulder shows everyone a picture, and everyone confirms that they know her. Scully then shows everyone a magazine with Jay Leno on the cover, and they all say he’s the murderer.
Harold stays quiet the whole time, which catches Mulder’s attention. Apparently no one thought to mention to the agents that he was at the scene of the last crime just before it occurred. Scully looks at crime-scene photos and notices that the victims all wore rings that their killer moved to their opposite hands. She suspects ego-dystonia, a form of OCD characterized by the impulse to constantly reorganize. Mulder figures they’re in the right place to find someone with that kind of behavior.
Mulder has guessed that Harold made the 911 call after Penny’s murder. Harold insists that he didn’t do anything and hasn’t heard the words “she is me.” But when Mulder asks if he’s ever seen a ghost, Harold gets agitated. Scully admits that Mulder’s cracked the case. Harold recites numbers to calm himself down.
Scully looks into Harold’s background and tells Mulder that he’s spent his life in and out of facilities like New Horizon because of autism and ego-dystonic OCD. She thinks he was put in a “challenging situation” and lashed out, but Mulder points out that he didn’t get agitated until Mulder asked about a ghost. They also don’t know why he said “she is me.” Scully learns that Harold is at New Horizon voluntarily, so he can come and go whenever he wants, which gives him the opportunity to kill people.
Scully’s nose starts bleeding, so she goes to the bathroom to take care of it. The words “SHE IS ME” appear on a mirror in blood, and Scully sees a ghostly woman with a slashed neck. Mulder knocks on the door, and when Scully looks away for a moment, the ghost disappears. Mulder tells her that a new victim was just found – a college student whose throat was cut. She is, unsurprisingly, the woman Scully saw in the bathroom.
The victim, Lauren, has had her ring moved like the other victims, and since Harold left the facility after the agents saw him, he’s still a suspect. Scully decides to see a doctor instead of going with Mulder to look for Harold. Wherever Harold is, he’s reciting numbers and papering the walls with bowling scorecards that have “SHE IS ME” written on them in blood. He sees a bunch of ghosts and laments that he just wants to be left alone.
Scully has some blood drawn (there’s a lot of blood in this episode) so she can find out if her tumor caused her to hallucinate in the bathroom. Then she meets with an FBI psychiatrist, Dr. Kosseff, who wants to talk about her hesitation to discuss her fears with Mulder. Scully instead talks about how she’s kept working despite her diagnosis. Dr. Kosseff wonders if she feels like she owes it to Mulder to keep up their work. Scully admits that she’s realizing how much she relies on him and his passion.
Dr. Kosseff asks what happened in the bathroom. Scully confides that she doesn’t know what to trust anymore – did she see a ghost because of stress, because of a subconscious suggestion, or because of her own fears? She thinks Lauren was trying to tell her something in the bathroom. Scully insists that she doesn’t know what that might be, but Dr. Kosseff wants to know if she’s sure.
Mulder goes to the bowling alley to find Harold, hearing from Pintero that the idea of Harold being a killer is absurd. Mulder sees some activity around lane 6, where the body was found, and where Harold happens to be hiding. Mulder chases him as Harold chants “she is me” over and over. When Harold is taken to the police station for questioning, he switches to reciting numbers again. His lawyer is very protective, but Hudak has no patience or the ability to be nice.
Mulder uses a softer touch, determining that Harold’s scared because the dead women’s ghosts keep coming to visit him. Each time Mulder says one of their names, Harold recites different numbers – the women’s bowling scores. Hudak thinks this means Harold killed the women. Mulder assures Harold that he knows he’s innocent, but Harold will have to help clear his name.
They all head to the bowling alley to look for ways the real killer might have left the building. Harold is worried because the shoes are all out of line, so Angelo assures him that he can come back and straighten them out when this is all over. Mulder and Hudak find Harold’s lair full of scorecards he’s memorized. Since he’s memorized dozens of scores, Hudak can’t prove that Harold targeted the victims specifically. Suddenly Hudak cries out, seeing a ghost – it’s Pintero. Downstairs, Pintero has just died of a heart attack.
Mulder goes to see Scully, who’s praying at home. He starts to ask for her medical expertise before making sure she’s okay. He tells her that Harold saw Pintero’s ghost before he died. Mulder thinks Harold forms some sort of psychic bond with people, since his autism prevents him from expressing their attachment in other ways.
Scully notes that Harold isn’t the only person who saw the victims before they died; for example, Pintero saw the woman in the alley. Mulder thinks it’s because those other seers were close to death themselves. He wants Scully to determine if Harold is dying, too. Obviously, this is bad news for Scully, who’s one of those seers.
The police take Harold home to New Horizon, where a doctor named Alpert tries to give him his medication. Instead of taking them, Harold recites numbers. A nurse named Innes urges Harold to take his “poison” since he doesn’t have anything to live for now. She wants to know if he told the police about his girlfriends or his pictures. She mocks that the girlfriends never loved him back because no one could ever love him.
Mulder comes to see Harold, arriving just in time to hear Innes scream. Harold has knocked her down and fled. Scully arrives next, as Mulder tells Alpert that Hudak will probably arrest Harold. He tells Scully that Harold might be sicker than they think. Harold’s roommate, Chuck, is hanging around, so Mulder sends Scully to talk to him. Meanwhile, Innes arms herself with something sharp.
Chuck tells Scully that Harold stopped taking his medication because he knew Innes was poisoning him. Chuck knows that Harold would never hurt anyone – “he really loved them.” He shows Scully a stack of pictures Harold gave him, all of the victims. Innes is the only other person who knew about them. Scully goes to confront Innes in the bathroom and sees her clutching a bunch of pills. Innes attacks Scully, but even with a brain tumor, Scully can hold her own. Also, her gun is more powerful than Innes’ scalpel (which Scully guesses is the murder weapon).
The story comes out: Innes was taking Harold’s medication, which can cause violent behavior. Scully thinks she was trying to destroy Harold’s happiness by killing women he liked. Maybe she thought she would never be happy again like the women were – hence “she is me.” Harold has been found, but unfortunately, he’s dead, seemingly from respiratory failure. Scully doesn’t think he was dying before this, so she can’t explain his visions.
She finally tells Mulder that she saw Lauren’s ghost in the bathroom before she learned Lauren was dead. She didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to believe it. She still doesn’t. Mulder thinks Scully came back to New Horizon to disprove that it was real. Scully says she came because he asked her to. He asks why she can’t be honest with him.
Scully wonders if he wants her to say she believes when she doesn’t. “Is that what you think I want to hear?” Mulder shoots back. He’s angry that she would hide something from him when they’re supposed to be working together. She’s just hiding the truth from herself. He knows what she’s afraid of, and he has the same fear. Scully insists that her doctor said she was fine. “I hope that’s the truth,” Mulder replies.
The agents leave separately, and Scully cries alone in her car. She sees Harold’s ghost in her rearview mirror, but when she turns to the backseat, he’s gone.
Thoughts: I’m sure the autism and psychiatric-facility communities both love this episode.
I wish Scully had mentioned that ego-dystonic behavior is also called ego alien behavior. I mean, ALIENS!
I also wish Scully had mentioned, at least to Dr. Kosseff, that this isn’t the first time she’s seen a dead person trying to communicate with her.
Harold’s lawyer: “Don’t ask him anything about his guilt or innocence.” Hudak: “Yeah, okay. So, Harold, why did you kill a bunch of people?” Dude. Come on.