November 25, 2017

The X-Files 6.13, Agua Mala: There Must Be Something in the Water

Posted in TV tagged at 1:19 pm by Jenn

“Hi. This says I just owned you”

Summary: Goodland, Florida, is in the midst of a hurricane, and it’s causing flooding in someone’s trailer home. A woman tries to board up the windows and doors while yelling for her son, Evan. Evan’s more worried about his father, but his mother needs his help dumping the water out of their washing machine. Evan goes behind the machine, where some sort of tentacle tries to strangle him. As Evan’s mother frees him, the tentacle pulls her underwater.

Arthur Dales leaves Mulder a message on his answering machine telling him that he’s gotten a distress call from a neighbor, and Mulder needs to come to Florida and look into it. Hurricane Leroy is still approaching, and will make landfill in the next three or four hours. Evan’s family, the Shipleys, have disappeared, but they don’t appear to have evacuated.

Despite the pounding rain, Mulder and Scully make it to Dales’ trailer in Goodland. Dales has told Mulder that he thinks a sea monster is responsible for the Shipleys’ disappearance, and though Scully doesn’t buy this, she still came all the way down there. She sees a bunch of empty bottles and notes that Dales likes to drink.

Dales ignores her and tells the agents that Sara Shipley called to tell him that something with tentacles grabbed her husband, Jack, in their bathroom. Sara and Jack are both marine biologists, so Dales figures they would know what they’re talking about. But now the whole family’s missing, and Dales couldn’t get any help from local authorities, so he wants Mulder and Scully to investigate.

Scully wonders why Dales moved to Goodland in the first place. He tells her he came for the weather. He adds that she shouldn’t turn up her nose at mysteries: “The bottom of the ocean is as deep and dark as the imagination.”

Mulder and Scully go over to the Shipleys’ trailer, which is boarded up from the inside, making their exit even more mysterious. Mulder finds a gooey substance on a drain pipe and, of course, touches it. The washing machine lid starts opening and closing on its own, so Mulder uses a broom handle to open it. Inside is the Shipleys’ unharmed but annoyed cat.

The agents find the boarded-up bathroom door, and as they’re trying to get it open, a sheriff’s deputy named Greer interrupts them. He wants to arrest them for breaking and entering, ignoring them when they say they’re looking for the Shipleys, and that they’re FBI agents (“don’t all the nuts roll downhill to Florida”). He also doesn’t care that they know Dales, a known drunk. For all he knows, the agents are looters or part of the Manson family.

Thanks to a distraction from the cat, Mulder’s able to nab Greer’s gun. Scully finally flashes her badge, proving that she and Mulder are FBI agents. Greer backs down, though he still needs to file a report. Mulder says that first he needs to help get into the bathroom. Meanwhile, Scully goes to the car to make a phone call. Mulder joins her and tells her that the bathroom was empty except for more goo and water on the floor. It was as if someone left the tap running before boarding up the door.

Scully tells her partner that the airport is closing, so if they want to get out before the hurricane hits, they need to go now. Mulder still wants to know what happened to the Shipleys, but Scully doesn’t think Dales’ suspicions are unfounded. There’s no sea monster here. Mulder says something that sounds like narration from a documentary about the ocean. Scully replies that maybe he is a member of the Manson family.

She continues that the local authorities are handling the search, so there’s nothing for the agents to do in Goodland. As far as she’s concerned, they’ve fulfilled their duties. Mulder thinks they should at least update Dales, so they go back to his trailer. As they leave, Dales finishes his search of the trailer, seeing water come up through a drain in the floor. He unscrews the drain and makes the stupid mistake of reaching inside, but all he encounters is a sports jersey.

The road Mulder and Scully need to take to the airport is closed, so they’re stuck in Goodland for the night. The deputy who sends them away makes the same comment Greer did about nuts rolling downhill to Florida. Mulder decides to end the argument, since Scully’s never going to convince the deputy to let them through.

Greer goes to a condo complex to check on some residents who are stranded without power. He doesn’t realize that the Shipleys’ cat has hitched a ride on the underside of his car. Greer knocks on some doors to see who’s home, but no one answers. A door creaks open, and when Greer goes inside to investigate, he finds someone on the toilet, covered in goo. A tentacle reaches out from the goo and grabs him.

Scully calls the sheriff’s department to get directions to an emergency shelter. She and Mulder happen to be on the same road as the condo complex. Scully loses the phone connection, and Mulder predicts that one day, they’ll look back on this experience and laugh. Since debris is starting to fall on them, Scully thinks they should pull over. Mulder believes they’d be smarter to keep driving, since they’ll be a moving target and harder to hit.

Fortunately, Mulder wises up and pulls over at the condo complex when he sees Greer’s car. They head inside winding up in the same condo Greer investigated. He’s alive but having trouble breathing. While Scully prepares to use her medical skills to get him an airway, Mulder checks out the goo on the toilet. He finds a watch in the bowl and makes a dumb-even-for-him remark about “passing the time.”

Mulder assists Scully as she cuts a hole in Greer’s throat to help him breathe. There are welts on his neck that make Mulder think he was stung. He believes the attacker came up through the plumbing, which means it could reach other people in the building. Mulder goes off to check on the other residents as Scully calls paramedics for Greer. Dales hears the call on his radio, laughing when Scully says Greer was attacked by something unidentified.

Mulder continues Greer’s work of knocking on doors, coming across a guy who may be looting. Another man, Walter, is relieved to see Mulder, since he and his pregnant wife have been waiting for help. Walter doesn’t recognize the looter, who promises to put back what he tried to steal. Mulder goes to check on Walter’s wife, Angela, who reveals that she’s not actually his wife, since he’s apparently not man enough to earn her commitment. Also, she’s not in labor, so she doesn’t need immediate help.

Walter tells Mulder that everyone in the complex seems to be gone except for a man named George. Walter offered to help George, but George told him to go away. Mulder checks on him and gets the same response. George promises that he’s armed and ready for whatever comes his way – Cuba, Castro, revolutionaries, etc. “All the nuts roll down to Florida,” Mulder murmurs.

Walter and Angela join Greer and Scully, who thinks Greer is suffering from an infection by a foreign organism, possible a waterborne parasite. Angela blames the horrible living conditions. She and Walter wonder where Harry, the landlord, is; he needs crutches to walk, and the crutches are still there, so he couldn’t have left. The looter joins the group and becomes Angela’s next target of criticism.

Mulder pulls Scully away from the others and tells her they need to leave ASAP. Scully tells him the roads aren’t passable, and she’s hesitant to move Greer anyway. George hears them talking and realizes they’re federal agents. His own condo is leaking from the ceiling, and there’s a tentacle in his light fixture.

Scully checks on Greer, seeing something under his skin. His temperature is 106, so Scully tells someone to get ice from the freezer and fill a bathtub with cold water. The looter is reluctant, since Mulder thinks whatever they’re dealing with is in the plumbing, but Scully doesn’t care. She pulls a small tentacle from Greer’s skin as the looter follows her orders.

As the men in the group tend to Greer in the tub, everyone hears gunfire from down the hall. Mulder runs to George’s condo, where he’s shooting at the ceiling. He tells Mulder that it’ll take more than his weapons to kill the thing in the ceiling. Scully thinks he just mistook a burst sewage pipe for a sea creature. Mulder thinks the thing burst through the pipe and is now somewhere else in the building. Scully argues that they don’t know that they’re in danger; they just need to stay calm.

Back with Greer, the looter tries to use soap to get the deputy’s wedding ring off his finger. He slips and knocks some things into the tub. Mulder and Scully catch him leaving, and he pretends everything’s fine. Angela needs to use the bathroom, but Walter reminds her that the sea creature is in the plumbing. Angela will take the chance. Mulder realizes that the hurricane is how the creature got access to the plumbing in the first place. As Angela uses the toilet, a tentacle prepares to grab Greer again.

Mulder and Scully continue arguing about whether they’re dealing with something from Jules Verne. They’re interrupted when Angela comes out of the bathroom screaming. She says she saw the creature, and that it has “giant arms like an octopus.” Mulder checks it out but only finds Greer’s clothes and the things the looter knocked into the tub, including a box of Epsom salt. Greer is gone. “I think the deputy went out with the bathwater,” he says.

Mulder decides that no one has seen the sea creature because it doesn’t just live in the water – it is water. It only takes the shape of a creature when it attacks. Scully points out that in that case, the tentacle she pulled out of Greer wouldn’t be visible. She thinks water attempts to kill the creature. Mulder says that maybe the creature uses people’s bodies to reproduce, and the tentacle is in a stage of the process where it hasn’t fully developed. This means the creature turns people into more creatures.

Realizing that they definitely need to leave, Mulder takes a head count and sees that the looter is missing. Mulder can’t find him, but he does see something wriggling around in a ceiling light. It breaks through, and when Mulder returns to the group, he’s covered in welts and having trouble breathing. George locks him out, refusing to let in someone who’s been infected.

Scully argues that she should be allowed to try to save her partner, especially since she’s a doctor. Angela speaks up that she also needs medical attention, as her water just broke. As Mulder runs around in the condo, Scully calls on the rest of the group to help her deliver Angela’s baby. She admits to George that she’s never delivered a baby before, but hey, she’s calm and at least has medical knowledge, so I’d say Angela’s luckier than she could be.

The group tries not to focus on all the water filling the light fixtures as they deliver the baby. Meanwhile, Mulder, who’s collapsed in a hallway, hears the Shipleys’ cat outside, seemingly unbothered by the rain. As Scully prepares to deliver the baby, she realizes something about the water. But she doesn’t have time to think about it, as the baby comes out just as a tentacle bursts through a light fixture and grabs George around the neck. Scully tells Walter to grab George’s gun and shoot at the sprinkler in the ceiling.

The next morning, the hurricane has passed and everything’s peaceful in Goodland. Mulder shows Dales his welts, which don’t seem to be causing him any trouble. Scully reports to the men that the baby has been named after his father. Dales thinks it’s great that they came to hunt a sea creature and instead delivered a baby. Also, Scully got to save her partner’s life.

The three discuss how Scully realized that fresh water killed the sea creature. Mulder says that the cat gave him the idea, since it was saved by hiding in the washing machine. The Shipleys were taken because the creature came up through the plumbing, and Greer was taken because there was salt in his bathwater. Dales praises Scully for saving Mulder and says he wishes he’d had a partner like her when he worked on the X-Files. If he had, he might not have retired. He wants to toast the agents, but they refuse to drink his water. Womp womp.

Thoughts: Greer is played by Joel McKinnon Miller, doing more police work here than he’s done in five seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine…where his character’s name is Scully. (Cue X-Files theme music.)

This episode often makes people’s lists of the worst from the series, but I didn’t think it was that bad. It’s no “Shapes” or “Teso Dos Bichos.”

I like that an episode called “Bad Water” takes place in a town called the opposite – Goodland.

Someone should check on that cat. It was way too calm about all that water.

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