July 29, 2017

The X-Files 5.17, All Souls: I’m No Angel

Posted in TV tagged at 1:29 pm by Jenn

“Thanks for taking 16 years to get me out of my crappy life, God”

Summary: A priest goes to a family’s house to baptize a teenage girl named Dara who appears to be both physically and mentally disabled. That night, Dara, who previously used a wheelchair, walks out of the house into a rainstorm. Her father rushes outside as she approaches a man who disappears in a flash of light. When Dara’s father reaches her, her eyes have been burned away. The camera guy tries to make a point by showing us a utility pole shaped like a cross.

At St. John’s Church in Alexandria, Virginia, Scully sneaks a glance at a picture of Emily before going into the confessional for the first time in months. She tells the priest that she always tries to save people and obey the lie, but now her work and her faith aren’t quite meshing. At Easter services the previous week, Father McCue, the Scullys’ priest, asked her to help a family. He thinks working with them might help her come to terms with her grief over Emily. Scully cries as she asks the priest for forgiveness – “an innocent girl is dead because of me.” She thinks she could have saved Emily.

We flash back to the previous week, when Father McCue tells Scully about the Kernoffs, Dara’s family. It seems she didn’t survive the night of her miraculous recovery. He thinks Scully can use her personal experiences to help comfort them, since their faith isn’t helping much. So Scully meets the Kernoffs, learning that Dara was adopted six years ago. Mrs. Kernoff believes that, since Dara was baptized, she’s in Heaven, but Mr. Kernoff is angry over the loss of his daughter.

The police think Dara was struck by lightning, but Mrs. Kernoff is more interested in how she left the house, since she’s never been able to walk. Mr. Kernoff thinks she was on her knees when he found her because she was praying. Mrs. Kernoff can’t understand how God would do something like this to a girl who turned to Him.

In the present, Scully tells the priest that she felt led to help the Kernoffs because she also lost a daughter. But she’s a scientist, and in this instance she couldn’t look to evidence for answers. In the past, she meets with a medical examiner who says she can’t say for sure that Dara was struck by lightning. The ME hasn’t been to church since she was a child, but she went last Sunday because of this case.

She shows Scully photos of Dara showing that she once had surgery to remove extra fingers. She had no other signs of trauma. “It’s as if God Himself struck her down,” the ME says. Scully thinks they should find out more about Dara’s birth mother, and she wants to do it herself.

Meanwhile, a priest goes to a psychiatric hospital to see a patient named Paula who can’t walk and who has extra fingers. (Well, he dresses like a priest, but the cross hanging from his rearview mirror is upside-down, which isn’t exactly Catholic.) Father Gregory wants to adopt Paula, but her social worker, Aaron Starkey, puts a halt on the proceedings since he’s new to the case and wants to familiarize himself with it first.

Scully studies the pictures of Dara some more, then looks at her photo of Emily. Mulder calls and she asks him to get Dara’s birth and adoption records. By the way, this will be off the books. Mulder rushes off, saying he’s pursuing a suspect, but he’s actually on his way to a porno. Stay classy, Mulder. Back at the psychiatric hospital, Paula – who looks just like Dara – gets a visit from a man who glows, illuminating what look like angel’s wings.

Paula is found dead the next morning, in the same state as Dara. Scully sees a cross hanging upside-down on her wall. Mulder arrives, starting to piece together what Scully’s been working on. He gives her Dara’s birth records but can’t get her adoption records, since they’re sealed. Scully guesses that Dara and Paula were twins. Mulder corrects her – Dara was one of a set of quadruplets. They wonder who turned Paula’s cross upside-down, which would be seen as an act of sacrilege.

Scully catches Mulder up on the case, and he predicts that they’re looking for a religion-obsessed killer. Aaron joins them and says he doesn’t think the cross was Paula’s. He mentions that she was about to be adopted by Father Gregory. Mulder and Scully visit his church, finding upside-down crosses and a book of scripture that isn’t entirely canonical. A girl watches them from what appears to be a closet.

Father Gregory seems upset to hear that Paula has died, and defensive when he thinks they might be accusing him of something. He says he wanted to adopt Paula to protect her. He also knew her mother. Scully asks for her name, since the other two quadruplets might be in danger. Father Gregory says the girls’ mother died in childbirth, and he can’t give her name; he was her confessor, and that would violate her privacy.

Mulder asks what Father Gregory wanted to protect Paula from. Father Gregory starts talking about a struggle for all souls between good and evil, and they need to stay out of it to protect themselves, as well as the lives of the “messengers.” He’s done talking to them.

In the present, Scully tells the priest that she felt like Father Gregory was talking only to her, speaking a language only she could understand. The priest seizes on the word “messengers.” In the past, Mulder tells Scully that Father Gregory is probably their guy – he thinks he’s doing God’s work. Mulder believes that the girls’ mother is still alive. Scully tries to confirm that Mulder is saying they’re not dealing with anything supernatural. She brings up Dara’s baptism, but Mulder thinks it’s just a coincidence. God may have His reasons for things, but there are also crazy people who think they’re doing His work.

Scully performs Paula’s autopsy and finds masses on her shoulders. She turns away to look at x-rays, and when she turns back to the body, she sees Emily instead of Paula. “Mommy, please,” Emily pleads with her. Scully breaks down into tears, turning away, and when she looks at the body again, it’s Paula. In the present, Scully tells the priest that she tried to convince herself that she was just imagining things because she was distressed, but now she thinks she was “meant to see Emily.” She was supposed to save the two remaining girls.

In the past, Mulder calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to tell her that he and Aaron found a third sister in D.C. She walked into a teen center, which means she’s not in the same physical or mental condition as Paula and Dara – or at least not yet. Scully tells Mulder that Paula shows evidence of having a progressive bone disease…one that seems to show wings. Mulder quips that maybe the third sister flew into the teen center. Scully wants to say more, but Mulder tells her to wait. He’s just seen Father Gregory’s car outside an abandoned church.

A girl stumbles through the church, putting up her hands like Dara and Paula when she sees a man approaching her. Mulder finds Father Gregory, who tells him that they’re too late – the girl is already dead. He’s right, and a third sister has died just like Paula and Dara.

Mulder takes a praying Father Gregory in for questioning, asking him what he’s praying about. Father Gregory says he’s praying for the girls’ souls. He accuses Mulder of making a mockery of his faith; he’s not interested in the truth. (This leads to one of my favorite reaction shots of Mulder.) Mulder wonders if Father Gregory burned out the girls’ eyes because they saw him for who he is, like Mulder does now.

When asked about the upside-down cross, Father Gregory lets Scully answer. She says it’s to symbolize St. Peter’s death – he insisted on being crucified upside-down out of humility. Father Gregory insists that he’s risked his life to save the girls from the devil. As the agents are called into the hallway, Father Gregory addresses Scully, saying he knows she’s guessed who the girls are. They need to save the fourth girl, or “his victory will be complete.” They need to let him go so he can protect her.

In the present, Scully tells the priest that she didn’t tell Mulder what was going on. She felt like it was her job to save the fourth girl. The priest guesses that Scully didn’t believe Father Gregory about the devil being the treat to the girls’ lives. She confirms this, but says that she does believe Father Gregory was trying to help them.

The fourth girl, Roberta Dyer, has been located, though her life hasn’t been that great, as her father was investigated multiple times for child abuse. Scully reminds Mulder that Father Gregory called the girls messengers; she thinks he can help them save Roberta. Mulder scoffs at this, saying that Scully’s being manipulated. It scares him because he doesn’t understand why. She tells him that she had a vision of Emily, and he tells her she needs to leave the case. Her personal experiences are clouding her judgment.

Scully sends Mulder to find Roberta while she wraps things up with Father Gregory. But Aaron gets there first, asking Father Gregory where Roberta is. Father Gregory knows that Aaron is the killer, so there’s no way he’ll tell him. But Aaron appears to be the devil, and he makes Father Gregory’s hands burn, causing him to drop his cross.

Mulder and a team of officers go to the Dyers’ house, but Roberta’s father isn’t very cooperative. The basement door is locked, and he claims he doesn’t have the key. Mulder finds Roberta’s room, the conditions of which would have her immediately removed from the house if CPS actually bothered to look at it. Mr. Dyer laments that his checks will probably stop coming now. He was told that Father Gregory would take care of Roberta, but Mr. Dyer could keep collecting her disability checks.

As Scully leaves the police station, having trouble with her car keys, Mulder calls (“Scully, it’s me”). She tells him Father Gregory is dead, but no one can figure out what happened. Mulder tells her that they don’t know where Roberta is. Scully drops her keys, then sees a man approaching her. She looks up to see a man glowing, his face changing to the faces of different animals – a lion, a bull, and an eagle.

Scully goes to see Father McCue, who’s relieved that the FBI found the man who killed the quadruplets. Scully admits that the things she’s seen have made her wonder if there are “larger forces at work here.” She doesn’t think her visions of Emily are just due to the case. She tells Father McCue about the man with the four faces, and he shows her a picture of a seraphim, a four-faced angel.

Story time! An angel descended from Heaven and fathered four children, the nephilim, with a mortal woman. The children have angels’ souls but are “deformed” and “tormented” because they weren’t meant to exist. God sends the seraphim to retrieve the girls and protect them from the devil. If one looks at the seraphim, he or she gives up his or her soul to Heaven. But Father McCue doesn’t think that’s what happened with Scully – it’s just a story from a non-canonical text.

Scully asks Father McCue if he believes God has His reasons. Father McCue says yes – “it’s how God rewards our faith.” As Scully leaves the church, Aaron tells her that Mulder’s been trying to reach her. He found Roberta, and she’s at Father Gregory’s church. Aaron takes Scully to an empty building, where she sees horns on the head of his shadow. She heads upstairs as Aaron insists that Roberta is there. Indeed, she is, hiding, and Scully promises to protect her.

As Scully is leading the girl to safety, a bright light appears. Roberta starts to go toward it, but Scully tells her to stay. Roberta turns into Emily, who asks Scully to let her go. Aaron tells Scully to save the girl from the light, but instead, Scully lets her go. Emily walks to the light, and Scully closes her eyes so she doesn’t have to witness losing her daughter again. When the light goes out, Emily and Aaron are gone, and Roberta is dead.

In the present, Scully tells the priest that she felt like she was releasing Emily’s soul to Heaven, but she’s still struggling to accept Emily’s death. The priest asks if Scully is sure that there’s life after death. Maybe this experience is meant to help her believe that. Can she accept her loss? Scully replies that maybe that’s what faith is.

Thoughts: There’s a song I’ve never heard of by a band I’ve never heard of (Technology vs. Horse) named after this episode. It’s called “That Episode of the X-Files Where Mulder and Scully Find the Little Girls with Their Eyes Burnt Out Because of Angels.” Apparently there’s no actual reference to the episode in the song.

This episode is so full of holes. What happened to the girls’ mother? Why weren’t they pursued until they were 16? Where was Dara before she was adopted? Why were some of the girls in worse physical/mental shape than the others. Whatever, this episode was dumb.

I’m also going to assume that the reason CPS never took Roberta out of her home was because her case worker was Aaron, because no one else could suck that much at doing his or her job.

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