August 12, 2017

The X-Files 5.19, Folie à Deux: Kill My Boss? Do I Dare Live Out the American Dream?

Posted in TV tagged at 1:14 pm by Jenn

And you thought YOUR office’s team-building activities were torture!

Summary: In Oak Brook, Illinois, employees are diligently working in their cubicles, calling uninterested people who really don’t care about buying vinyl siding. One worker, Gary, hears insect noises but can’t find the source. He and a co-worker make fun of their boss, who thinks everyone needs to smile because their customers can hear it in their voices. On his next call, Gary hears the noises again, then sees what looks like the shadow of a giant bug outside the office. He’s able to continue reciting his script, but stops when a huge bug flits into the office. “It’s here,” he whispers to his customer.

Mulder and Scully meet with Skinner in his office and are assigned to go to the office to perform a “threat assessment.” The office received an anonymous taped manifesto threatening violence. Since there was an incident with a gunman in the office a few years ago, they know they need to take this seriously. Skinner wants Mulder and Scully to handle the case instead of anyone in the Chicago field office, since the manifesto talks about monsters. “Monsters. I’m your boy,” Mulder says.

As they leave, Mulder complains to Scully that he’s become the go-to guy for weird stuff. He doesn’t think Scully even needs to come to Chicago with him, since she’s not Monster Boy and the case probably isn’t for real. Mulder heads out to Illinois and hears the manifesto, in which Gary talks about a monster in the office that needs to be killed before it kills them. (The company doesn’t realize the voice is Gary’s, though.) Mulder asks about the incident with the gunman, which was at another location, and which a manager, Greg Pincus, thinks was over a woman.

Mulder calls Scully and asks her to check on the phrase “hiding in the light,” which Gary uses on the tape. Mulder thinks it came up in an old case. Scully isn’t looking forward to having to look through hundreds of case files for one phrase. Gary notices that Mulder just left Pincus’ office and wonders what’s going on. Moments later, Gary’s co-worker, Nancy, is called in to see Pincus. Gary tries to warn her not to do something, but she brushes him off. As she goes to talk to Pincus, Gary sees him turn into the giant bug.

Nancy screams from the office, but when Gary tries to check on her, his boss sends him back to work. Nancy leaves Pincus’ office looking and acting like a zombie, at least in Gary’s eyes. She tells Gary that Pincus just wants to greet everyone. At the Chicago field office, Mulder listens to the manifesto again, taking notes to form a profile of the speaker. Meanwhile, Gary loads a gun.

Scully calls Mulder to tell him that a man named Gerald said “hiding in the light” to a police officer in Florida back in 1992. He thought there was an “evil presence” at his church, then shot a bunch of people there, saying “the afflicted ones wouldn’t bleed.” Mulder decides it’s time for Scully to join him in Illinois, even though admitting this case is for real after all means he runs the risk of Scully saying, “I told you so” (which she does).

Mulder goes to the office, which is suddenly empty. Nancy, who’s hiding, tries to warn him that someone’s there. It’s Gary, and he’s ready to add Mulder to his collection of hostages. When Scully makes it to Illinois, she walks into the middle of a hostage situation; the investigation is being overseen by an agent named Rice. Gary has said he wants to broadcast a “stunning revelation,” and they’re about to try to call Mulder on his cell phone, but Scully tells him they need to assess the situation first.

Gary secures all his co-workers/hostages, plus Mulder. He tells them that Pincus is the real threat, though Pincus isn’t the one holding a huge gun and screaming at everyone. Mulder calmly asks why they should be afraid of Pincus. He claims he’s there applying for a job, so Gary won’t know he’s an FBI agent. Gary says that Pincus is a monster, but he’s clouded everyone’s minds so they can’t see it. He wants to harvest their souls and turn everyone into monsters, too.

Mulder says he wants to believe Gary, but he’ll need to put down the gun to get everyone to truly listen to him. Gary doesn’t believe that Mulder wants to believe, but he says Mulder will. Whenever Gary turns away, Mulder tries to go for his gun, but he’s not quiet enough. Gary tells everyone to be quiet because he hears something in a vent. He starts shooting at it, and outside, Rice decides it’s time to make contact with the hostages by calling Mulder.

Mulder’s trying to go for his gun again when his phone rings. Gary stops him from answering it, and when he reaches over to take it himself, he sees Mulder’s gun. He knocks Mulder in the head, and when another hostage, Mark, tries to take advantage of the distraction to tackle Gary, Gary shoots him.

Gary finds Mulder’s badge and answers Rice’s phone call. “I just shot a zombie,” Gary says, though he says the zombie isn’t dead. Soon, though, he’s going to start killing real people. Rice fills Scully in, and Scully tells him it’s time to give Gary a platform to broadcast his “stunning revelation.” Gary has Mark’s body removed as Mulder tries to get him to realize that he killed a human, not a zombie. Gary claims that Pincus used telepathy to get Mark to attack him. Pincus wants to turn them all into “mindless drones” and take away who they are. Then he can control them and make them spy on each other for him.

Pincus points out that, if he’s a monster, Gary doesn’t need hostages. Gary says he’s going to put Pincus on TV and everyone will see who he is. Mulder’s phone rings again, and he tells Gary to answer it. Rice tells him they’re sending in a cameraman so Gary can go on TV and make his revelation. Thanks to closed-circuit monitoring, the agents outside can now see what’s going on in the cafeteria where everyone’s being held. They’ll be able to figure out a way into the room to end the crisis.

Gary goes live, telling the country that Pincus is a monster. He plans to shoot Pincus and show everyone who he really is. Mulder stands between Gary and Pincus, trying to talk him down. The lights go out and Gary hears the insect noises. He tells Mulder to turn and look at it, and when Mulder does, he sees the giant bug. Suddenly the SWAT team drives a FREAKING TANK through the wall and takes out Gary. The hostages are all fine and will have a great story to tell at parties for the rest of their lives.

Mulder studies Pincus, who looks normal. He leans over Gary, who’s still alive. “Now you know,” he whispers before dying. Once the local agents have gotten things under control, Mulder asks Pincus why Gary branded him a monster. He wonders if there’s a connection to the company’s previous incident in 1994, or to the case in Florida with Gerald. Scully’s like, “Monster Boy’s at it again.”

The agents return to D.C., where Mulder uses a map to mark the places where the weird incidents have occurred. He tells Scully that “hiding in the light” and similar phrases have been used in five other cases; all the cases involved someone claiming there was an evil entity only they could see. The company has offices near all of the cities where those cases occurred, and Pincus has been to all those locations. Mulder thinks Gary was right about Pincus being an insect-like being that causes people to see him as a regular human.

Scully admits that there could be a condition that causes people not to see what’s right before their eyes. However, Gary was mentally ill, so they can’t believe that he saw a real insect. Mulder wonders if he saw the insect because he was disturbed, or if he was disturbed because he saw the insect. He admits that he saw it, too. Scully thinks that Mulder was suffering from trauma and just picked up Gary’s delusions – it’s known as folie à deux.

Mulder thinks he can prove Gary’s theory about zombies by having Scully autopsy Mark’s body. Scully refuses to play along with Gary’s delusions, so Mulder says he’ll take care of things himself. First he goes with Rice to Gary’s house, where, just like Mulder, Gary has marked locations on a map. Mulder thinks he was tracking Pincus’ movements over the past few years. Mulder looks out a window and sees Nancy in the yard, first as her normal self, then as a zombie. Mulder runs outside but doesn’t see anyone. A car pulls away, carrying Nancy and being driven by Pincus.

Back in D.C., Skinner asks Scully why Mulder went back to Illinois. Scully says he’s looking into a possible connection between multiple cases. Skinner says the agents in Chicago think Mulder’s behaving erratically. Scully says she’ll go out and join him, but Skinner wants her to do Mark’s autopsy first. He’s surprised that Scully doesn’t seem to know she was supposed to do it, or that Mulder had Mark’s body sent to Quantico.

Scully goes to Quantico but decides only to do an external exam of the body. An assistant starts as Scully tries to call Mulder. The assistant thinks Mark died 48 to 72 hours ago, judging by the rate of decomposition. However, the hostage situation only took place the previous afternoon. In Illinois, Mulder follows Pincus to a house where he tries to attack a woman. By the time Mulder gets inside, the woman has been zombified. He searches the house, then spots the giant bug scuttling up to the roof.

Skinner comes to Illinois to apologize to the woman (one of Gary’s co-workers), who has accused Mulder of breaking into her house for no reason. He was screaming about monsters, “even worse than Gary.” Pincus is there, and the woman shows no signs that she was ever scared of him. Mulder thinks Pincus has already infected her. Pincus is willing to drop the matter, since he still sees Mulder as a hero. Mulder shouts that Gary knew Pincus’ secret. As Skinner yells at him, Mulder hears the insect noises and sees Pincus turn into the bug. He begs Skinner to turn and look at it, but Skinner restrains him.

Mulder lands himself in a hospital, where he jokes to Scully that, after five years working together, she must have expected to see him in a psychiatric ward some day. She tells him that Mark’s body decomposed at a weird rate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that, as Gary claimed, Mark was already dead when Gary shot him. Mulder pushes her to find out what Pincus did to the woman at her house.

Scully tells him there’s nothing left to investigate, and Mulder needs to start seeing past his delusion. He tells her that she’s the one who needs to see, because she’s the only person on the planet who gets him. “You’re my one in five billion,” he tells her.

Scully heads back to Quantico to have another look at Mark’s body. She finds three puncture wounds on the back of his head, like bite marks a large insect might make. At the hospital, a nurse gives Mulder a sedative, then tells him to sleep tight and not let the bedbugs bite. Oh, nurse. He hears insect noises and sees the giant bug appearing outside his window. He calls for the nurse, yelling that “it’s here.”

The nurse returns and tells Mulder that nothing could be at the window, since they’re on the third floor. She turns on the lights and opens the curtains so Mulder can see that there’s nothing outside. Mulder asks her to take off his restraints, but instead, she opens the window, prescribing fresh air. She tightens Mulder’s restraints and leaves. Of course, the bug comes back.

Scully comes by but the nurse won’t let her see her partner after visiting hours. Scully sees her turn into a zombie, then runs down the hall to Mulder’s room. The bug has gotten inside, and Scully shoots at it, but it gets away. Still, at least now Mulder knows that she knows he wasn’t crazy.

Scully fills out a report, telling Skinner that Mulder is fit for duty, though she isn’t sure exactly what happened. Someone injected a toxin into Mark, and Pincus, the nurse, and a bunch of employees – all the people described as zombies – have disappeared. Scully knows for sure that there was an “intruder” in Mulder’s room, though she can’t testify for sure that it was, you know, a giant bug.

After the meeting, Scully tells Mulder that she told Skinner the truth, or at least the truth she gathered from all the weird facts. All she can come up with is folie à deux – “a madness shared by two.” She should make that three, because an employee in the Missouri branch of Gary’s company has just heard insect noises…

Thoughts: My recap title comes from a Simpsons Halloween episode in which Homer, like Gary, suspects that his boss is a murderous monster.

Some nice continuity: Mulder’s finger is still bandaged from “The Pine Bluff Variant.”

I know our country’s screwed up, but I can’t imagine that any news outlet would air a man who’s about to commit murder on live TV. The potential FCC fine alone would be a huge deterrent.

No wonder Scully feels like the basement office isn’t hers – only Mulder’s name is on the door.

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