March 17, 2018

The X-Files 7.7, Orison: Don’t Look Any Further

Posted in TV tagged at 1:18 pm by Jenn

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the bathtub…

Summary: A chaplain named Orison is talking to a group of prisoners about God’s love and how it can change them if they want it to. One of the prisoners is Donnie Pfaster, but he doesn’t seemed moved by the sermon. The other prisoners do, stomping their feet and chanting, “Glory! Amen!” with Orison as he sprinkles holy water on them.

They take their religious awakening with them when they go to work in a prison garment shop. A guard tells Donnie that he doesn’t think God could love a murderer. Donnie keeps his eyes on a prisoner’s feet as he uses the step pedal on a sewing machine. The prisoner suddenly cries out, having cut off his fingers. The other prisoners and guards gather around him, allowing Donnie the distraction he needs to walk out of the workroom.

Scully is woken by wind blowing through her open bedroom window. She checks her alarm clock, which reads 6:66. The power goes out, and when it comes back on, the clock reads 6:06. She then goes to Marion, Illinois, with Mulder to investigate Donnie’s escape from prison. The authorities in Illinois would like the agents’ help understanding Donnie, since they were the ones who captured him. The Marshal assigned to the case, Daddo, knows that the agents have experience with supernatural cases, but Scully tells him there’s nothing supernatural about Donnie – he’s just evil.

She goes to the room where Orison met with the prisoners and hears singing through a ceiling vent. Mulder finds her there and encourages her to come home, since her last encounter with Donnie did such a number on her. Scully feels like she doesn’t have a choice – she needs to find Donnie before he hurts anyone else.

Mulder tells Scully that Donnie is the third prisoner to escape a maximum-security facility in the area in the past few months. He left at exactly 6:06 that morning. Scully reacts to the time but asks what makes this case supernatural. Mulder says it’s strange enough that no one noticed Donnie leaving.

The agents question the man who cut himself in the garment shop. His hands are intact, and he doesn’t understand how, since he and everyone else in the room saw that his fingers had been cut off. The prisoner can’t explain it; he just says that God works in mysterious ways. Mulder raises his hand, and the prisoner says, “Glory. Amen,” tapping his foot.

Mulder thinks this is indicative of post-hypnotic suggestion. Scully doubts that Donnie used a “Vegas lounge act” to hypnotize everyone in the room so he could escape without them seeing. For starters, where did he learn that technique? Mulder thinks they should look at Orison, who served as chaplain at all the prisons people have escaped from. Scully hears music through the vent again and recognizes the song, “Don’t Look Any Further,” from her childhood.

Donnie has made it to Harrisburg, Illinois, where he goes to a diner and watches a waitress’ hands as she flips through order tickets. A woman sits down with him and he offers to give her a manicure. The waitress tries to kick her out, since she’s just looking for money and/or drugs. Orison arrives and chastises Donnie for wasting his freedom like this.

Daddo and some other Marshals pull up outside, and Donnie accuses Orison of calling them. Orison says it’s “within his power” to help them escape. He swings his car keys and says, “Glory. Amen.” The waitress suddenly screams – she’s being attacked by another patron. She swings a coffee pot at him in defense. The Marshals are distracted long enough to allow Donnie and Orison to flee.

Somehow, Donnie makes it to Orison’s car with the woman from the diner, but Orison is left on his own. Donnie runs him down with the car as he drives off. When Mulder and Scully arrive sometime later, Daddo tells them that the tip about Donnie being there must have been wrong, but Orison was there. Scully hears “Don’t Look Any Further” on the diner’s radio and asks the waitress to turn it up.

The agents then go to the hospital where Orison is being treated. He tells Scully not to worry about the escaped prisoners – “God has them.” She says the case has nothing to do with her, but Orison disagrees. He knows that Scully has faith in God, and she hears Him calling to her, but she isn’t sure what to do. Scully figures he’s just making educated guesses because he noticed her cross necklace.

Orison continues that Scully is “longing but afraid, waiting for a sign.” There are signs everywhere, and there are reasons for everything. He calls her Scout, which makes her freeze. Orison says that the devil is always waiting “for but an instant.” But “the devil’s instant is our eternity.”

Mulder joins them and asks how Orison does his hypnosis trick. He says he’s just a messenger. Mulder shows him a picture of the woman from the diner, dead in a blood-filled bathtub, Donnie’s signature crime scene. He thinks Orison freed Donnie so he could kill him. He’s discovered that Orison was convicted of murder in 1959 and spent 22 years in solitary confinement. Orison says that God spoke to him and told him to “look after” the escaped prisoners. Mulder asks if God mentioned Donnie’s plans during that conversation.

Mulder wants to prove that Orison’s lying, but Scully doesn’t think he can prove that someone isn’t being directed by God. Mulder argues that God is just a spectator who “reads the box scores.” He doesn’t think God would tell someone to commit murder. Scully argues that the escaped prisoners might not be dead. She thinks Orison truly believes that God is working through him. Mulder asks if Scully thinks God has ever spoken to her. She’s offended but admits that she finds it meaningful that she keeps hearing the same song.

Scully reveals that when she was 13, she was listening to “Don’t Look Any Further” when her mother told her that her Sunday School teacher had been murdered. It was the first time she realized there’s true evil in the world. Orison called her Scout, which is what her Sunday School teacher called her. Scully mentions the time on the clock as well. Mulder thinks he can prove that God isn’t really trying to say something to her.

Donnie listens to a news report about himself on the radio, then looks through the supplies in Orison’s car. He’s left his driver’s license and house key, so Donnie now has a place to hide out. Back at the hospital, Mulder shows Scully a scan of Orison’s brain, which shows swelling – not from being hit by a car, but because Orison did some sort of procedure to himself to increase blood flow. Mulder thinks this is how Orison developed his powers of hypnosis, allowing him to alter reality.

Scully asks why he would do this. Mulder thinks that Orison believes that Donnie should have died instead of being sentenced to life in prison. Maybe he thought he was “opening the doors of perception,” but instead he accidentally opened the gates of Hell. At the hospital, Orison lies awake in bed under the watchful eye of a Marshal. “Glory. Amen,” Orison says a few times, slowing his heart rate. He makes the Marshal freeze, allowing Orison to steal his gun.

Donnie holes up in Orison’s apartment and orders up an escort. He likes her manicure and red hair. He does his typical thing with her, having her get in the bath and then offering her hair products. She thinks he’s being weird and decides to leave. As she’s getting out of the tub, he realizes her hair is a wig and accuses her and “they” of lying to him. Donnie hits her, but she hits back, knocking him out.

In the morning, the agents go to Orison’s room and find the Marshal still in his hypnotic state. Orison is long gone, and the Marshal has no idea what happened. Scully finds a note Orison left: “Don’t look any further.” Mulder guesses that he overheard them talking in the hallway the day before, but Scully’s sure that she didn’t mention the name of the song she’s been hearing.

Donnie regains consciousness to find Orison in the bathroom with him, ready to take him “home.” Orison recites scripture about the wicked being punished. He digs a grave and tells Donnie to pray for God’s love. If he believes, he’ll repent, and God will show him the way to Heaven. Donnie cries, and Orison urges him to beg forgiveness for his crimes. He asks if Donnie’s crying for his sins or for himself. Donnie says he’s crying for Orison because Orison can’t kill him. He turns into a demon.

Orison’s body is found the next day, buried in the grave he was digging for Donnie. Scully tells Mulder he was right about her looking for connections that weren’t there. Orison was just a murderer who wanted to pass judgment on other killers. Mulder thinks the case is over and the Marshals should take over. Scully shouldn’t look any further.

Of course, it’s not that simple (and there are still ten minutes left in the episode). Donnie goes to D.C. and lets himself into Scully’s apartment, finding her Bible by her bed. He puts it in a drawer. Scully comes home and gets ready to take a shower, but her clock is reading 6:66 again. The power goes out, and Scully quickly realizes that she’s not alone in the apartment.

The escort has called the proper authorities, and someone leaves a message on Mulder’s machine letting him know that she had a run-in with Donnie. He wonders if it’s significant that Donnie was upset that the escort wasn’t a natural redhead. Meanwhile, Donnie wrestles with his favorite redhead, trying to choke her. She gouges his eyes and grabs her gun, but he throws her into a mirror and she drops it. She hits him with anything she can reach, fighting relentlessly, and finally gets away.

Donnie chases her and stops her from calling for help. Scully tells him to go back to Hell as he overpowers her. He asks who does her nails. She tells him he’s only alive because they didn’t kill him when they had the chance. Donnie calls her the one who got away. She’s all he thinks about. Scully warns that, since she’s a federal agent, he’ll get the death penalty if he kills her. Donnie responds that he’s going to run her a bath.

Mulder’s getting ready for bed at his own place, setting his alarm for the morning. “Don’t Look Any Further” comes on the radio. Donnie drags a bound and gagged Scully to her hallway and leaves her tied up while he runs the bath. She can hear her phone ringing, but she can’t answer it. Donnie turns on the radio; of course, “Don’t Look Any Further” plays.

Mulder gives up on trying to call as Scully checks out her surroundings to weigh her options. She’s able to roll through her apartment while Donnie gathers supplies, including candles and a pair of scissors. Scully manages to get her bound wrists in front of her, but before she can do anything else, Mulder arrives. Scully joins them as lights pop and a bullet casing falls to the floor. Mulder was ready to arrest Donnie, but Scully has shot him.

Once the police have come to secure the crime scene, Scully finds her Bible in a drawer. Mulder tells her not to judge herself for shooting Donnie. After all, the Bible permits vengeance. Scully says the law doesn’t. Mulder thinks she made the right decision; Donnie would have kept killing if she hadn’t stopped him. Scully has no doubt that Donnie was evil, but she’s not sure about who was at work in her. What made her pull the trigger – God…or something else?

Thoughts: This episode feels like they combined “Irresistible” and “Pusher.” It also feels unnecessary.

Speaking of “Pusher” (and “Kitsunegari”), didn’t the agents learn anything about leaving someone alone with a supernatural persuader? As soon as they figured out what was going on with Orison, they should have put the Marshal outside his room instead of in it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Scully either needs a security alarm or a building with a doorman. (At least she’s learned this by season 11.)

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