December 30, 2017

The X-Files 6.18, Milagro: I’ve Heard of True Crime, But This Is Ridiculous

Posted in TV tagged at 1:30 pm by Jenn

I no longer trust men with typewriters. (Exception: Tom Hanks)

Summary: A man is sitting in front of a typewriter, staring at a blank page. He has outlined the story he wants to write, but the words aren’t coming. He tries all day but doesn’t get anything on the page. Finally, he goes to his bathroom, reaches into his chest, and pulls out his heart. It immediately becomes a New York Times bestseller, and the movie rights are purchased for eight figures. Okay, everything except that last part.

The man puts his heart in the incinerator in the basement of his apartment building, then takes the elevator back to his apartment. Along the way, Scully joins him. The writer stares at her, and she tries to hide her discomfort. They get off on the same floor, but he’s not following her – she’s in the building to see Mulder, and the writer lives next door.

Scully mentions the encounter to Mulder, who says he’s met the guy but doesn’t know anything about him other than that he’s a writer. They look at some crime-scene photos of a man who was murdered and had his heart removed, just like a previous victim. The writer listens through an air vent as Mulder says that he thinks this is a case of psychic surgery. The killer uses a branch of alternative medicine to commit murder. It’s kind of the perfect crime. Scully points out that they just have to find the killer’s motive.

The writer smokes in bed that night, unable to sleep. Meanwhile, a teen couple goes parking, though the girl, Maggie, isn’t sure she’s ready for sex. Her boyfriend, Kevin, insists that he’s not up to anything untoward. Maggie ditches her date, and when he goes looking for her, he encounters a man in a hooded sweatshirt instead. He’s still alive when his heart is ripped out. Back at home, the writer finally has inspiration to write.

Mulder gets called to the crime scene, and he phones Scully at the office to tell her their heart-removing killer has claimed a third victim. There are no witnesses and no evidence. Scully spots an envelope that was slipped under the office door and opens it. It contains a pendant. The writer voices over as he writes Scully’s thoughts about the investigation. He calls her “a marshal of cold facts” and says she’s not up to doing the job Mulder can do. He thinks she longs to let someone into her heart.

When Mulder comes to the office, Scully tells him that the pendant is a milagro, which is Spanish for “miracle.” It was dropped off with a receptionist, who couldn’t give a good ID. Mulder doesn’t think it’s from the killer, even though the pendant is shaped like a burning heart. He thinks the pendant is from a secret admirer with eyes for Scully. Mulder wants her to meet with the medical examiner to autopsy Kevin’s body, but Scully has another idea.

She goes to a church, where she pauses at a painting of St. Margaret Mary holding a burning heart. The writer joins her and tells her the story behind the painting – Jesus came to Margaret Mary with a heart so full that it couldn’t contain the flames of his love. Margaret Mary offered her own heart, and Jesus burned it with His, then returned it to her. The writer knows that Scully came just to see the painting. Scully recognizes him as the writer and asks why he followed her. He claims he didn’t; he just imagined that she would come to the church today.

As a writer, he imagines how people behave. He noticed her cross when he saw her in the elevator, and he used other pieces of his observations about her to piece together her possible movements. He admits that he sent her the pendant because he’s attracted to her. Scully doesn’t return his affections, but the writer thinks they have some things in common.

Scully leaves the church and meets up with Mulder at the morgue. She apologizes for disagreeing with his views on the milagro. Mulder, however, thinks that Scully was right. Many people who practice psychic surgery think they’re tools of God. She tells him the pendant is from the writer, who’s in love with her. She was freaked out by everything he knows about her, but she doesn’t think he’s the killer.

Mulder goes home and picks the lock on the writer’s mailbox in order to learn his name (Phillip Padgett) from his mail. Padgett comes in just as Mulder’s heading up, and the two ride the elevator together. Mulder then pretends to get Padgett’s name from the man himself. He asks if Padgett has written anything Mulder would know. Padgett says probably not. He’s aware that Mulder’s an FBI agent and asks if he’s working on anything interesting. When Mulder says he’s investigating a murder, Padgett asks if it’s anything he’d know. “Possibly,” Mulder replies.

Now it’s Mulder’s turn to listen at the vent while Padgett continues his story. It’s gross, and talks about Scully’s supposed feelings of flattery because of Padgett’s attention. (Really, though, pretty much everything he writes could be described as “gross.”) He thinks she denies herself feelings of pleasure. He imagines having sex with her, and thinks she would wonder what Mulder thinks of her.

Next door, Mulder looks at Padgett’s phone records and sees that he hasn’t placed or received any calls recently. Scully comes over, uneasy about having to pass by Padgett’s apartment. She can hear him typing. She stops at Padgett’s before going to Mulder’s and returns the milagro to him, telling him she can’t return the gesture. Padgett thinks she’s curious. She’s at least curious about the fact that he has no furniture.

Like Mulder, she asks if Padgett’s written anything she’d know. He says his books are all failures, but the one he’s working on now won’t be. Again, Padgett says that he and Scully have things in common. For one thing, they’re both lonely. Scully says loneliness is a choice. Padgett invites her to have coffee with him and make a different choice.

Mulder has gotten an idea and is looking through local papers. In one, he’s circled a Valentine’s Day message Kevin wrote to Maggie in the personals section. Next door, Scully sees that Padgett has typed, “How will it end?” on his typewriter. He tells her that she lives in his old neighborhood, and he moved into Mulder’s building because he couldn’t find a place in Scully’s. He’s writing about her, and he needs to be close to her. Scully asks to read what he’s written, but Padgett says it’s not finished.

He wants to take the conversation to the bedroom (since there’s nowhere else to sit), but Scully knows this is a bad idea. She waits while he gets a lightbulb for one of his lamps. She wonders why she’s still there when her instincts are telling her to leave. If Padgett knows her so well, he should be able to answer that. He tells her that motive is hard to figure out. Sometimes he can’t decide what it is until later.

As they sit down on the bed, the other lamp burns out. Just then, Mulder arrives, his gun drawn, and starts looking through Padgett’s manuscript. Padgett has written about the murders he’s committed, and it’s enough evidence for Mulder to justify arresting him.

At the police station, Mulder tries to get Padgett to admit that he used the personals to find victims. Padgett says he was just writing about the people he found. Scully doesn’t want Padgett to be questioned without a lawyer, but he’s willing to talk on his own. He won’t confess, saying he just wrote about murders, but didn’t commit any.

Mulder asks about a Brazilian psychic surgeon named Ken Naciamento – was he an accomplice? Padgett says he’s a central character, but characters direct the writer, not the other way around; Padgett didn’t make Ken do anything. Mulder wants to know why Padgett murdered three people. Padgett says he can’t answer that. As Mulder leaves, Padgett asks if he liked the book. “Maybe if it were fiction,” Mulder replies.

Scully has already tracked down information on Ken, who’s been dead for two years. Mulder doesn’t get how Padgett couldn’t be the killer; he wrote everything down. Scully thinks Padgett has the same skills Mulder does, to where he can imagine what a killer will do before he does it. Mulder informs her that she’s in the book, and there’s some sexy stuff in there. He assumes that didn’t actually happen.

Scully’s reading the rest of the manuscript when an officer brings her a statement Padgett wrote. It’s about grief and being heartbroken. Maggie is crying at Kevin’s grave when the killer approaches to make her his fourth victim. Scully reads the same scene and goes to the cemetery, but there’s no sign of Maggie. However, she hasn’t been seen anywhere else.

Scully tells Mulder that this could still be a product of Padgett’s imagination. Mulder thinks he just wanted to get them to the cemetery to mess with them. He sees a man in a hoodie arrive in a truck and thinks it’s Padgett, but it’s someone else. Mulder checks out the truck and finds Maggie’s body underneath piles of flowers. When Scully asks how he knew it was there, Mulder says he imagined it.

The agents head back to the police station, arguing about whether Padgett could have killed Maggie. Mulder doesn’t know how this all works, but he knows he’s right about Padgett. His idea to prove it is to tell Padgett he can go; they made a mistake by arresting him. Padgett says he also made a mistake. In his book, he wrote that Scully falls in love. Now he knows she’s already in love. (SHE SURE IS, BUDDY.)

Padgett goes straight home, ready to pick up his story where he left off. He looks up to see a man in the hooded sweatshirt Padgett wears when he kills people. It’s Ken, and he’s ready to see what happens in the story. Padgett can’t figure out the motive, though. Ken says that Padgett imagined him so perfectly that he made him real. Padgett says he needed the perfect crime. He thinks Scully would be horrified if she knew what Ken has done. Ken himself is horrified, but he wants to know why he kills. Padgett says it was all to meet Scully. Ken says that’s not a reason, it’s an excuse.

The agents hook up surveillance equipment through the vent so they can spy on Padgett. They don’t see Ken in the apartment; they just see Padgett staring at his typewriter. Padgett gives him the manuscript and says he misjudged Scully’s character. The men ask each other Ken’s motives, but Padgett says he doesn’t know. Ken says he’s a tool of the truth. He imagines that he can open his heart and expose the flames of passion inside, but he doesn’t have that power.

Padgett argues that he does have love in his heart. Ken compares it to the love of riches that a thief has. Man’s only true power is destruction. Padgett asks what the end of his story is. Ken says there can only be one true ending if he wants perfection: Scully dies. “It almost writes itself,” Ken says.

On surveillance, the agents see Padgett getting back to his manuscript. They see him leave and Mulder follows him to the incinerator, where he starts to burn his writing. Mulder stops him, hoping to keep him from destroying evidence. Upstairs, Scully is about to follow when she runs into Ken.

Mulder wants to see what Padgett wrote. “I’ll tell you,” Padgett replies. “He kills her.” As Ken tries to make this fiction a reality, Padgett tells Mulder that Ken told him how the story ends. Mulder’s confused, since they thought he was alone. Mulder is able to hear Scully shooting at Ken, so he runs up to save her. Padgett burns his manuscript, and when Mulder reaches Scully, she’s alone and still. She’s bloody, but she’s alive.

Padgett voices over his ending: He knew no one could ever read what he wrote. He had to commit a final act of destruction and give what he couldn’t receive. He’s dead, having ripped out his own still-beating heart.

Thoughts: Padgett is played by John Hawkes.

In the cemetery, there’s a closeup of a tombstone for Diana and Nicholas Salinger, the parents from Party of Five.

Padgett is like Shawn from Psych, if Shawn were a serial killer. You know, I might watch that show.

I guess Padgett wasn’t stalking Scully the day she became immortal.

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