April 7, 2018

The X-Files 7.10, Sein und Zeit: No One Shoots at Santa Claus

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

If I were Skinner and didn’t know that Mulder’s mom had just died, I would totally think they’d hooked up

Summary: A little girl named Amber Lynn LaPierre is praying before bed as her parents look on proudly but slightly impatiently. Her father, Bud, then goes to watch crime show on TV while her mother, Billie, gets ready for bed herself. She suddenly stops and goes to her closet, pulling out a dress. Bud hears her rifling through drawers, finding a pen so she can write a note stating that she’s kidnapped Amber Lynn.

Bud checks on his daughter and first thinks she’s dead, but she’s okay. In her bedroom, Billie keeps writing, ending her note with, “No one shoots at Santa Claus!” As Bud is leaving Amber Lynn’s room, he hears a bang and sees blood seeping under Amber Lynn’s bedroom door. He has to break down the door, and when he finally makes it in, Amber Lynn is gone.

FBI agents convene in the middle of the night to start searching for the apparent kidnapping victim. Mulder comes in, despite not being summoned; Skinner doesn’t see a point in involving him since it doesn’t appear to be an X-File. Mulder thinks the case will turn into a circus, and the right questions won’t get asked. Skinner gives in, giving him until noon to question Bud and Billie. He adds that the other agents have a pool going and believe that Amber Lynn is dead.

Mulder heads to Sacramento, where police and reporters are outside the LaPierres’ house, looking for answers. The couple has already called in a lawyer, Harry Bring, though his specialty is real estate law. Mulder asks if he’s ever handled a murder case – even though Amber Lynn hasn’t been declared dead, Mulder thinks that’s how this case will end. He tells Bring that if he really wants to help the LaPierres, he’ll get them a real lawyer.

Bud tells Mulder they’ll talk to him, since they have nothing to hide. Mulder asks about the note found in Amber Lynn’s bedroom around the time of her disappearance. He wants details, like what Bud was watching on TV. Bud says he’d never heard of it, but he liked it. Billie says she was asleep when Amber Lynn vanished.

The couple says they always lock their doors at night, and don’t know of anyone who would want to hurt their daughter. Billie’s getting upset, so Bring tries to end the conversation. Mulder tells the LaPierres that no matter what the FBI says or does, they’ll do everything they can to try to find Amber Lynn. Billie asks if they’ll succeed, but all Mulder can say is that he hopes so.

Scully arrives in Sacramento and finds Mulder lying awake in his motel room. He’s watching TV in the dark and doesn’t want her to turn on the light. She warns that Skinner’s mad at him, since Mulder missed his noon deadline. He’s sent Scully to get Mulder’s report. The media found out what the FBI is investigating, and the LaPierres are being held for questioning. Mulder says they didn’t hurt Amber Lynn, despite what the facts say: He knows they lied about where they found the note.

Mulder’s watching the news, and the story of Amber Lynn’s disappearance is drawing parallels to the story of Susan Smith’s crimes and JonBenet Ramsey’s murder. Scully notes that people have a “morbid fascination with the killing of an innocent.” Mulder announces that Amber Lynn isn’t dead. He answers a call from his mother, who has guessed that he’s working on Amber Lynn’s case. She asks him to call her when he gets home from Sacramento.

Back in D.C., the FBI examines the note, which doesn’t demand a ransom. The note was written on the kind of paper used by dry cleaners to protect clothes, and the page it was torn from was found in the LaPierres’ trash. The pen it was written with was also in the trash, and only has Billie’s fingerprints on it. However, they haven’t been able to determine definitively if the handwriting is Billie’s.

Mulder tells the task force that there are pieces of the story that don’t make sense. Bud was watching TV when he went to check on Amber Lynn; he turned it off when he went to her room, but it was on when the police first arrived. Mulder also finds it strange that no one noticed any strangers sneaking around the property, even though it wasn’t that late at night. Someone suggests that Bud is lying for Billie, but Mulder says that doesn’t explain what happened to Amber Lynn.

He leaves the meeting and searches a file cabinet in his office, trying to figure out why “no one shoots at Santa Claus” seems familiar. Scully follows him and tells him he’s personalizing the case because he’s connecting it to Samantha’s disappearance. Mulder points out that he’s never suggested that aliens had anything to do with Amber Lynn’s disappearance. Scully warns that the other agents on the task force don’t have the patience for Mulder to question their work. Mulder thinks he’s right, though: He’s found a note just like the one at the LaPierres’, from a case in 1987.

As a creeper in a van videotapes kids in California, Mulder and Scully go to a women’s prison to speak to a prisoner named Kathy Lee. In 1987, her six-year-old son Dean was taken from his bedroom, and the note left behind was found to be written by Kathy Lee. She was convicted, and Dean’s body has never been found. She testified that she had a vision of her son being dead the night he disappeared. Three years later, she changed her story and confessed to killing him during a psychotic break. Kathy Lee says she was “full of rage.”

Mulder shows her the note she supposedly wrote and asks what the phrase about Santa means. She says that no one would hurt a person like Santa, who brings you gifts, since that would compromise your chances of receiving those gifts. Mulder tells her about Amber Lynn’s disappearance and the note left behind. He tells Kathy Lee that both disappearances are similar, and, like Dean, Amber Lynn’s body hasn’t been found. Kathy Lee notes that she told the police where Dean’s body was, but it wasn’t really there.

Mulder presses Kathy Lee to explain what really happened to Dean, but she can’t. He knows it’s because she didn’t kill him. She only changed her story because she thought pleading insanity could get her paroled. Mulder needs her to assure the LaPierres that things will be okay. Kathy Lee she’s not the person to do that. As they leave, Scully blasts Mulder for acting unprofessionally. She can’t explain the matching notes, but she’s sure that Mulder’s personalizing the case. He says he’s not, and he’s going to find the missing kids. Scully warns him not to go in search of something he doesn’t want to find.

Back in her cell, Kathy Lee sees a ghostly vision of a little boy. She asks a guard to bring the agents back. Meanwhile, Teena calls Mulder again, leaving a message on his answering machine as she burns pictures of her children. She tells him there are a lot of things she hasn’t told him, and she hopes that one day, he’ll understand.

Mulder shows the LaPierres a tape of Kathy Lee telling them that Amber Lynn is okay. She knows they’re afraid of the truth because they’ve seen scary things, like she did. She doesn’t remember writing the note; it was like they wrote themselves. Kathy Lee knows in her heart that Dean is safe and in a better place.

The LaPierres are released, due to lack of evidence. The creeper from the van watches Mulder give a press conference while also watching multiple TVs showing footage he’s recorded of children playing, including Amber. There’s also a screen showing a man dressed as Santa. Mulder says that the LaPierres are no longer the main suspects in the investigation, and the FBI is hopeful that they’ll find Amber Lynn.

Skinner slams Mulder for making a connection between Amber Lynn and Dean’s disappearances when there’s no evidence that they’re connected. Mulder says that nothing else makes sense in the real world. Skinner points out that he has to live in the real world. He’s upset that Mulder talked his way onto the case, then gave the main suspects a defense. Scully interrupts to tell Mulder that Teena is dead.

The two of them go to Teena’s house in Connecticut, where it appears that she killed herself with both an overdose and gas from her oven. Mulder insists that she wouldn’t, and questions the missing pictures of him and Samantha. He thinks Teena wanted to tell him something about Amber Lynn, but couldn’t do it over the phone, in case the people who took Samantha overheard and went after her. Everything in the house seems staged, like someone murdered Teena and then arranged the scene to look like a suicide.

Mulder wants Scully to perform the autopsy and look for a needle puncture. Scully resists, since they’re friends, but Mulder knows that this is the only way he can learn the truth. He goes back to see Kathy Lee, wanting to understand the things she’s seen. He thinks she knows why Teena’s dead. Mulder offers to talk to the parole board on Kathy Lee’s behalf if she helps him. He tells her about Samantha, which makes Kathy Lee think that Teena wanted to tell him that she’d seen “the walk-ins.” They’re “old souls looking for new homes,” and Kathy Lee thinks Samantha is among them.

She continues that it’s hard to see them because they “live in the starlight.” Mulder asks if this means Samantha’s dead, but Kathy Lee just says that she was taken. She suffered harm in her life, like Dean, and now they’re being protected. Kathy Lee doesn’t know where they are, but they’re okay. At Santa’s North Pole Village, a kind of rundown play place, some kids are ready to see Santa. The creeper from the van goes to his workshop to get ready. This is where all his screens are, and where he keeps his Santa suit.

In D.C., Mulder listens to Teena’s message on his machine over and over, trying to figure out what she wanted to tell him. Scully arrives, and Mulder tells her that he thinks Teena wanted to talk about Samantha. She somehow knew that Samantha and Amber Lynn’s disappearances are connected. Mulder thinks Teena wrote a note like Kathy Lee and Billie did. If Kathy Lee’s right about walk-ins, Samantha was never abducted by aliens. Mulder’s been looking for her in the wrong place this whole time.

Scully has done the autopsy, and she can confirm that Teena killed herself. She had Paget’s carcinoma, an untreatable disease that would have eventually left her disfigured. Mulder tries to process this, then starts crying and insists that Teena was trying to tell him something. Scully thinks she was trying to tell him to stop looking for Samantha. She wanted to take away his pain.

That night, as Billie and Bud go to bed, Billie sees a ghostly vision of Amber Lynn. The next day, Skinner goes to Mulder’s apartment, where Scully has spent the night tending to her partner. He tells the agents that Billie wants to talk to Mulder, so they all need to go back to Sacramento. There, Billie tells the agents about her vision of Amber Lynn; she thinks her daughter was trying to say something to her. Billie isn’t sure, but she thinks it was the number 74.

Mulder thinks there’s no point in investigating, since they’re not going to find Amber Lynn. If Billie saw her as a ghost, they won’t find her alive and should stop hoping they will. The agents still can’t explain the note, though. Mulder finally acknowledges that he’s too close to the case, and since he’s just suffered a personal loss, he’d like to take some time off.

As the agents head to the airport, Scully sees a road sign for highway 74. She checks a map and sees that the highway goes to Santa’s North Pole Village. Remembering the reference to Santa in the notes, she tells Skinner to take them there. They search the place and find the creeper’s collection of videotapes, which go back to the ’60s. Mulder worries that Samantha will be on one of the tapes. Instead, Scully finds the one of Amber, dated two days before she disappeared.

The creeper arrives and locks the agents in his workroom, but Skinner’s still outside and catches him trying to run. There’s a chase, but when Skinner fires his gun in the air (so he’s shooting near Santa, but not at him), the creeper decides to just give up and let himself be arrested. While Scully reads the creeper his rights, Mulder looks around the property and finds a bunch of unmarked graves. To be continued…

Thoughts: The episode title is confusing, since it means “signs and wonders” but has nothing to do with that episode.

Mark Rolston (Bud) also played Odin in “Red Museum,” so I can’t blame the FBI for being suspicious of him here.

This episode may have the creepiest opening of any episode in the whole series.

Santa’s North Pole Village just makes me think of Nos4A2, which makes it even spookier.

 

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