December 16, 2017

The X-Files 6.16, Alpha: Doggone

Posted in TV tagged at 1:19 pm by Jenn

Yes. Good

Summary: A freighter in the Pacific Ocean is carrying something angry from Hong Kong. A couple of men take a peek inside and see the creature’s red eyes. It starts rattling its crate, then falls silent, making the men wonder if they’ve somehow killed it. They open the crate, which is probably a mistake, because when the freighter arrives at its destination, the police are called.

The crate is still locked, but the men are missing. The cargo’s owner, Detweiler, is annoyed that no one called him the second it arrived, so he could care for the creature inside. When the crate is opened, the men’s bodies are found inside.

Mulder starts in on the case that night, telling Scully that they seem to be dealing with a case of death by…dog. The real mystery is how the men got inside the crate when it was found locked. In addition, the dog is gone – or, as Mulder says multiple times, trying to make his joke stick, “doggone.” No one’s examined the victims, so Scully gets volunteered.

She tells Mulder that bite wounds don’t kill, so the men must have bled to death. She can’t believe Mulder really wants her to believe that a dog pulled them inside his locked crate and killed them. “A bad dog,” Mulder replies.

In Bellflower, California, a good dog named Jojo barks at another dog just outside its fence. The owner goes to check out the other dog, but there’s nothing there. When the owner goes inside, he finds Jojo bleeding. A wolf-like dog with red eyes is now in the house, ready to take another victim.

Mulder and Scully go to San Pedro the next morning to look at the crate. They meet up with an officer named Jeffrey Cahn who tells them the dog doesn’t seem to be on the freighter, judging by a lack of waste. He adds that Detweiler is a cryptozoologist, something Mulder is very familiar with. Why would someone who studies Sasquatch and the Abominable Snowman be interested in a dog?

Detweiler joins the group and presents his theory that someone stole his dog – it’s a valuable wanshang dhole. Mulder knows that it’s supposed to be extinct. Detweiler claims he caught one on an expedition. He denies that the dog could have killed anyone; yes, it has mythical qualities, but it’s not a predator. The news out of Bellflower seems to contradict that.

The agents head to the house where Jojo and his owner, Jake, were attacked. Scully learns that Jake was a customs agent and may have been involved in stealing the wanshang dhole. (Look, I’m not going to type that over and over; we’ll call the dog Fang.) Mulder makes a quip about biting the hand that feeds you, which makes no sense, but it’s Mulder.

Scully notes that since all the doors to the house were shut, Jake must have been keeping Fang inside. Mulder asks how Fang got out if all the doors were closed. He doesn’t think Fang is a dog at all. He rewards Scully a biscuit for saying that Fang is able to cover up human crime scenes. Now they need to look for a dog that thinks like a human. Mulder thinks the best person to turn to is a human who thinks like an animal.

The agents go to meet a woman named Karin Berquist, who seems to be the Jane Goodall of canines. Mulder reveals that Karin’s the one who told him about the case. He’s interested in her field of study and has read one of her books. Karin happens to have an “I want to believe” poster.

Karin comes in with her dogs and closes all the blinds. She tells the agents that dogs are smarter than people. She talks about coyotes hunting in packs, and murder being a human thing. She also believes that the wanshang dhole is extinct. The agents don’t find her helpful, and Scully wonders how she and Mulder met in the first place. He admits that they’ve only chatted online.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer named Fiedler goes to an alley to check out a possible scavenging. He finds a hand in a Dumpster, most likely Jake’s hand, which Fang tore off. Fiedler goes into a nearby building, followed by a shadow that first looks human but then turns into Fang. RIP, Fiedler.

The agents and Cahn check out the scene the next morning, and Cahn tells the agents to do everything they can to find Fang. Karin arrives, having heard the story on the news: “Dog eats dogcatcher.” Mulder asks her why an animal that supposedly only kills when it needs to eat has now killed four people for apparently no reason. All of the victims may have come into contact with Fang before the attacks.

Karin thinks Fang is displaying regular alpha behavior. Mulder tells her that Fang is traveling a number of miles between killings, and seems to be tricking his victims. Karin says that canines are pretty direct and have simple motives. Most don’t kill for sport. However, she figures they’ll never know why Fang’s been acting the way he has, since someone will kill him before they can find out.

Mulder points out Detweiler, and though Karin isn’t familiar with him, she dislikes him on sight. Detweiler tells the two of them that his team tracked Fang for two weeks, then tranquilized him to catch him. Karin thinks that Detweiler admires Fang. He says he admires Fang’s ability to survive.

As Cahn talks to someone about getting together a group to kill Fang, something that seems to be low to the ground watches him. But it’s Detweiler who approaches Cahn. He has a warning: If Cahn kills Fang, Detweiler will kill Cahn.

Karin finds tracks in the building where Fiedler died, and is able to tell that Fang is highly evolved. Unlike other dogs, Fang has an extra toe pad. Scully notices Mulder’s hand on Karin’s while moving around a computer mouse, and because this show is run by men, of course she’s jealous. Scully notes that Karin said yesterday that a dog couldn’t act like Fang is; now she’s saying it’s practically Jack the Ripper. Karin says that in myth, the wanshang dhole can manipulate doors and exhibit other trickster behavior. Maybe there’s some basis in fact.

Alone in their car, Scully tells Mulder that she’s not sure about Karin’s motives. Maybe she’s arranged things so she could meet Mulder. Mulder denies that Karin killed four people just to meet him. Scully warns him, “Don’t underestimate a woman. They can be tricksters, too.”

Detweiler goes to an animal clinic, where a Saint Bernard named Duke barks at him. Detweiler’s there to get a tranquilizer. As the vet locks up for the night, saying good night to some of the dogs, they start getting agitated. Fang is there, and he wants to play! Or maybe kill. Yeah, probably kill. The vet is able to get away and trap Fang in a kennel. The police arrive and shoot, but they accidentally shoot Duke instead of Fang. Noooooooooo! (Fortunately, he’s not dead.)

The agents come in as the vet finishes patching up Duke. He wonders how Duke got back into the kennel, since the door was chained. Scully takes a look around and sees that the vet has a signed photo of Karin. She hears someone yelling and finds the vet bleeding next to Duke’s exam table. As the agents go off to call paramedics, Duke turns into Fang.

Scully visits Karin, having figured out why she likes her office dark and why she always wearings long sleeves: She’s sensitive to light and wants to cover up skin lesions caused by lupus. Karin finds it ironic that she studies dogs and has a disease named for wolves. She says she’s always felt more like a wolf than a person anyway. Scully thinks Karin lured Mulder out to California. “I lack your feminine wiles,” Karin snarks.

She’s not sure the wanshang dhole has survived all these years after supposedly going extinct, but if it did, it’s too smart to have been captured by someone liked Detweiler. It’s too cunning. Scully wonders if it’s more cunning than Karin. Scully’s been watching her. Karin says she’s been watching, but not seeing.

Mulder looks through the vet’s drawers, then calls Cahn to tell him that Detweiler was there to get tranquilizers. He asks Cahn to go to the lab and check something out. But Cahn won’t be going anywhere except the hospital – Fang is in his backseat, waiting for him.

Cahn survives the attack, and when Mulder goes to see him in the hospital, he finds Detweiler already there. He wants to know what Cahn’s attacker looked like. Mulder asks if Detweiler’s scared about Fang possibly being killed. He seems to know that it can’t be caught. In fact, Fang caught Detweiler. Now, at night, Detweiler becomes a trickster – a man who turns into an animal.

Mulder knows that Detweiler is the real killer, and murders just because he can. He got the tranquilizer for himself, hoping to stop the killer. Mulder figured it out when he found traces of the tranq in blood found at the clinic. Instead of, like, arresting Detweiler or trying to detain him in any way so he can’t hurt anyone else, Mulder lets him walk out. Detweiler runs into Karin, who says she won’t protect him any longer.

Mulder goes to see Karin at her office, where she says that she can get a sense of people right away from her dogs’ behavior – they’re excellent judges of character. At least one of her dogs likes Mulder, so that’s a plus. He’s guessed that Karin knows more about Fang than she’s said. She admits that she knew Detweiler was the real killer, but she only confirmed it when she saw him.

Karin thought she was protecting an animal, but now she knows that he has to be put down. She guesses that Detweiler will go back to finish off Cahn. Mulder calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to send her over to protect Cahn. He meets her there, and she complains that he’s wasting her time, since she hasn’t “seen hide nor hair” of Detweiler. Mulder praises her choice of words.

Scully scoffs at Mulder’s theory that Detweiler is going to turn into a dog, then come back to finish off Cahn out of a territoriality. She thinks Karin has manipulated the whole situation for her own purposes. Mulder is sure that Karin’s right and Detweiler will come back.

Karin kennels her dogs for the night, looking out into the conveniently atmospheric fog rolling in around her house. It’s 2 in the morning, and Scully has fallen asleep during her and Mulder’s stakeout. Mulder realizes that Karin lied to him, so they don’t need to stay.

In reality, it seems that Karin may have wanted to keep the agents out of the way so they’d be safe. She loads up a gun as Detweiler/Fang comes to her house. Mulder calls to say he and Scully are on their way and she needs to lock her doors. Fang comes into the house silently and faces off with Karin. She puts down her gun and lets Fang do what he wants – in this case, jumping on her so hard that he pushes her out a window. By the time the agents arrive, Karin’s dead – but Detweiler is, too, having accidentally impaled himself on a fence.

Back in D.C., Mulder’s blaming himself for the way things turned out. He beats himself up for believing Karin’s story so quickly. Scully asks why he wouldn’t believe her. Karin lived by her instincts and judged them pretty quickly; she saw Mulder as a kindred spirit. In a way, bringing him into the case was a way of demonstrating that she thought he was a good person. Scully gives Mulder a package that arrived from Karin’s kennels: her “I want to believe” poster. He immediately puts it on his wall.

Thoughts: How do I get Karin’s job, hanging out with dogs all day?

Please, show, I beg of you: Enough with Scully’s jealousy.

Karin calls Mulder by his first name at one point, but no one makes a “fox and hound” joke. What a waste.

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