February 17, 2018

The X-Files 7.3, Hungry: This Gives a Whole New Meaning to the Slogan “Eat Fresh”

Posted in TV tagged at 1:17 pm by Jenn

Someone in the props department had fun

Summary: In Costa Mesa, California, a man pulls up to a Lucky Boy drive-through to order fast food. A voice on the intercom tells him the restaurant is closed, but the driver insists that he be served anyway, since the light on the sign was still on when he arrived. He places his order, and the voice tells him to drive up to the window. No one’s there, but the driver can hear some chewing noises and heavy breathing. When he peeks through the window, someone attacks him.

The next day, everything is business as usual at Lucky Boy, until Mulder and Scully arrive. They announce that they’re investigating a body found in a car in a reservoir. A button from the restaurant was also found in the car. The agents are checking with all the restaurants to see which employee is missing a button. Everyone at this location has one except a guy with the unfortunate name of Derwood Spinks. He points out that he only has to wear the button on Fridays, so he didn’t bring it with him. He certainly didn’t leave it on a dead guy. Scully notes that they never said the body belonged to a man.

Another employee, who has the even more unfortunate name of Rob Roberts, asks the victim’s name, which was Donald Pankow. Rob says he’s not familiar with Pankow. The agents kick everyone out of the restaurant while they search it. Rob sneaks around to the intercom and turns it on so he can eavesdrop on Mulder and Scully outside. They notice that the restaurant’s kitchen looks pretty clean; maybe it was the crime scene and someone cleaned up to cover up evidence.

Mulder mentions that Pankow’s brain was removed, which is a fun little detail. Scully thinks they should look at the employees’ lockers, but Mulder suspects that Pankow’s brain was eaten. It’s not completely unheard of; there are tribes in other countries that consider brains a delicacy. Scully reminds him that they’re in Orange County. He doesn’t think there was anything fetishistic about this murder. Someone just poked a hole in Pankow’s head and sucked out his brain. Mulder finds blood and possible brain matter, though Scully IDs it as ground beef.

Rob goes home and tries to finish washing blood out of a shirt he’s been soaking in the bathtub. It won’t come out, so he decides to throw it away. Mulder comes by and remarks on how clean the apartment is. He knows Rob stayed late at work the night before and volunteered to close. Bloody water starts leaking out of Rob’s garbage bag, but Mulder doesn’t notice.

He asks about the tainted meat Rob threw out after a fridge died on Friday. Rob says he threw it in a Dumpster, but it’s not there, which Mulder finds strange. He spots blood on Rob’s face, and Rob says he bit his lip. He tells Mulder he hopes they catch the killer. Mulder says he already has a pretty good idea who did it.

As soon as Mulder leaves, Rob rushes to through the trash bag in a garbage truck. He notices blood on his fingers and sucks it off. Then he sees that someone parked across the street is watching him. The guy in the car thinks Rob is staring and tells him to go away. Inside, a counselor named Mindy Rinehart leaves a message on Rob’s machine asking him to meet with her at Lucky Boy and its insurance provider’s insistence. Rob ignores her, goes to his bathroom, and pulls down his top teeth.

Later that night, Rob eats something called Slim Chew and watches a video of a motivational speaker who wants his audience to know how he learned to control his appetite. The man in the car is still parked outside, keeping an eye on Rob. Rob comes out, hisses, and attacks the man.

The next morning, Spinks wakes Rob up after picking his lock. He admits that he spent a few years in prison for attempted murder. Spinks knows that Rob is the killer; he found a bottle of Rob’s diet pills with blood on the lid. He’ll stay quiet if Rob gives him his TV, VCR, and whatever’s in his bank account. It’ll at least give Rob a head start on getting out of town.

Rob’s neighbor comes by and asks if Rob saw the man who was parked outside the building the night before. He’s gone now, of course, but the neighbor wants Rob to keep an eye out for him. Spinks tells Rob he’ll be in touch about where Rob should drop off his stuff. Spinks will hold on to the diet pills until then.

As Rob leaves his building, Mulder meets him outside and mentions seeing Spinks in the neighborhood. He reveals that Spinks is the main suspect in Pankow’s murder, but not Mulder’s main suspect. He thinks the killer is compulsive – he just can’t stop himself from killing. He asks again about the meat in the Dumpster; it was padlocked, so Mulder wants the key. Rob says Lucky Boy and a trucking company have it. Mulder won’t tell him why he’s asking about the Dumpster.

Rob goes to see Rinehart, who wants to head off any problems the work investigation might bring up for him. She asks him about any recent insomnia or nightmares. Rob’s stomach is growling, but Rinehart doesn’t seem to hear it. As she continues asking questions about Rob’s mental and psychological state, he struggles to focus. Finally, he asks what kind of a monster would kill Pankow the way he was killed. Rinehart says she doesn’t believe in monsters. She thinks people act out because of fear or weakness, but deep down, everyone wants to be good.

Mulder calls during the session, asking questions that Rinehart can’t answer because of confidentiality. Rob decides it’s a good time to leave. He heads to work, imagining that burger patties look like brains. Spinks comes by for a paycheck and reminds Rob that they’re meeting up later. Spinks has either been fired or has quit, and he leaves his co-workers with the parting gift of the knowledge that he used to dip his “boys” in the coleslaw.

Knowing that Spinks is going to a bar, Rob sneaks into his house and steals back his diet pills. Spinks can tell there was a break-in when he gets back, and he grabs a baseball bat to confront the intruder. He comes across the diet pills, which Rob dropped while trying to flee, and announces that their deal is off. Hiding in a closet, Rob starts to remove his body parts, so when Spinks finally finds him, he’s a bald, eyeless, earless monster.

Rob goes back to see Rinehart so they can finish their session. He admits that he thinks he needs help. He gets hungry and has compulsions to eat. He tries to put them off, but eventually his hunger gets too bad to ignore. Rinehart thinks he has bulimia. Rob says he feels like he’s not a good person.

Rinehart has Rob look in a mirror and tell her whether he sees a bad person. She tells him to keep looking until he sees the good man she sees. As she turns away, Rob’s ear falls off, and he hurries to put it back on before Rinehart notices. She advises him to go to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. He tells her he’s really trying to do the right thing.

Rob’s stomach growls as he heads home with his bottle of diet pills. His neighbor says that Mulder came by, so she told him about the man in the car. Mulder’s still there, along with Scully; they’re looking into Spinks’ disappearance. Rob says he must have left town. Mulder thinks whatever killed Pankow got Spinks, too. They found the tip of a shark-like tooth in the hole in Pankow’s skull, so Mulder thinks the killer is some kind of genetic freak – a monster. Rob says there’s no such thing.

Mulder continues that this monster would have a “biological imperative” to eat. It probably consumed the meat Rob threw away. It tries not to feed on humans, knowing it could get caught, but it has to satisfy its hunger any way it can. Rob laughs off the conversation as “good cop, insane cop.” He asks why Mulder’s telling him all this. Mulder says the thinks Rob knows why. As he and Scully leave, he tells Rob to watch out for the monster.

Rob goes to the Overeaters Anonymous meeting, trying to ignore his growling stomach. His neighbor is also there and encourages him to introduce himself and share with the group. Rob announces that he has an eating disorder marked by cravings. He’s had them his whole life, but over the past month, they’ve become too strong to resist. He loves the taste of meat, and goes into a description of his love that makes everyone want a burger. He looks through a man’s skull and sees his brain inside.

Rob and his neighbor, Sylvia, head home together, talking about how she bounced on the hood of her husband’s car after he said she was too heavy to ride in it. Maybe Rob should eat that guy’s brain. He tries to go to his apartment alone, but his hunger gets the better of him, and he heads to Sylvia’s door, taking out his top teeth.

The next morning, a garbage truck unknowingly takes away Sylvia’s body, and Rob heads out to get rid of the murder weapon, Spinks’ baseball bat. After a moment, he comes back in and uses it to destroy his apartment. He yells for a neighbor to call the police. When Mulder arrives, getting his fingerprints all over the bat, Rob tells him and Scully that Spinks was there. He lies that he caught Spinks cleaning up blood at the Dumpster.

Mulder shows a picture of the man from the car. He’s a PI Sylvia’s ex-husband hired to spy on her. (Wow, Rob really should eat the ex’s brain.) Rob says he didn’t see the guy, so Mulder decides to talk to Sylvia again. He assures Rob that it won’t be long before they get everything wrapped up.

Rob starts packing to flee town, but he’s interrupted when Rinehart pays a house call. He tells her he’s going to a friend’s house. He quit his job, so Rinehart doesn’t have to talk to him anymore. She asks if he went to the meeting, and he tells her it was a waste of his time. He takes a page from Mulder’s book, saying that maybe the other members have a “biological imperative” to eat. Maybe he does, too, and you can’t fight biology.

Rinehart thinks Rob is tired of feeling guilty. He confirms this – he’s tired of pretending he’s something he’s not. Rinehart has guessed that he’s the killer, and she asks him to tell her why he did it. She asks him to turn himself in to the FBI. She just want him to get the help he needs. Hearing sirens approaching, Rob reminds Rinehart that she said she doesn’t believe in monsters. He starts to take off his body parts, asking if she believes in them now. But Rinehart just feels sympathy for him.

Mulder and Scully return and save Rinehart. Mulder comments that Rob just can’t stop himself. Rinehart encourages Rob to be the good person she knows he is and let the FBI agents detain him. Instead, Rob rushes them and gets himself caught. As he dies, he tells Rinehart that he can’t be something he’s not.

Thoughts: Spinks is played by Mark Pellegrino.

What kind of burger restaurant serves coleslaw anyway? Are people like, “Hey, let’s go to Lucky Boy and get coleslaw”?

Mulder, didn’t you learn from “Humbug” why you shouldn’t say things like “genetic freak”? And didn’t you learn from FBI training (and common sense) not to touch evidence without wearing gloves? Scully, put a leash on him or something.

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