April 21, 2018

The X-Files 7.12, X-Cops: Fear Itself

Posted in TV tagged at 1:18 pm by Jenn

I bet Scully swears a lot and we just don’t get to see it

Summary: Instead of an episode of The X-Files, we get an episode of Cops. We follow L.A. Deputy Keith Wetzel, who warns that the full moon will make things crazier than usual. He thinks people feel safer just seeing a police officer around. He gets a report of a monster lurking around a neighborhood but figures someone’s imagination has exaggerated a human’s behavior. Wetzel checks out the area and sees claw marks on a door. He figures they’re from a dog.

The woman who called in the report is very agitated and insists that she saw a monster. Wetzel keeps looking around and comes across a man who tries to hide in the backyard. Off-camera, Wetzel sees something that makes him tell the camera crew to run back to the car. He calls for backup as something makes his car turn over.

Everyone in the car manages to escape mostly unharmed. Backup arrives, and Sergeant Paula Duthie tries to find out what happened. Wetzel tells her that gangbangers attacked them. Before he has to make up more lies, a call comes in about an armed suspect. A bunch of officers run down the block to the supposed criminal, instead finding Mulder and Scully. They’re there investigating the clawed monster, and didn’t expect to land in the middle of a TV show.

Mulder questions Wetzel, who says he didn’t really see anything. Mulder says he must have seen something that spooked him enough to run. Duthie tells him that the woman who placed the call isn’t mentally stable. Mulder says that a bunch of people have placed similar calls about a monster recently, and always on the night of a full moon. He knows Wetzel saw the monster – an eight-foot-tall creature with huge claws and teeth. He guesses correctly that it bit Wetzel on the arm.

Wetzel denies that he saw what Mulder thinks was a werewolf. The last person who was attacked died of his wounds after giving a detailed description of the creature. Mulder predicts that Wetzel will also turn into a werewolf, and will need to be quarantined to protect him and others. Duthie asks what he’s talking about, dropping a swear word that has to be censored. She asks to see Mulder’s badge again.

Scully pulls her partner aside to point out that they’re on a TV show. Mulder isn’t sure, since Duthie just swore. Scully’s like, “What do you think this camera is for?” She wants him to remember that everything he says is being recorded. Mulder thinks that’s awesome – they could capture proof of the paranormal in front of a national audience. Scully thinks he could be risking his career. Mulder appreciates that she’s concerned about him looking foolish, but she’s really more worried about looking foolish herself.

Mulder sends Scully to the hospital with Wetzel, in case Mulder’s right about his imminent transformation. Scully pauses to call Skinner, telling the camera guy to leave her alone. Mulder goes to the woman’s house with another deputy, Juan Molina, who translates the woman’s frantic Spanish. A sketch artist, Ricky, takes a description while Mulder shows the claw marks to Duthie, saying they match marks that another victim saw. Ricky works fast, drawing Freddy Krueger. Everyone thinks the woman is nuts.

Outside, Mulder reunites with Scully, who’s brought Wetzel back with her. His bite marks were actually insect bites. As for Skinner, he’s okay with his agents appearing on the show, since the FBI has nothing to hide. Mulder tells Scully that he doesn’t think they’re looking for a werewolf after all. Something else is going on. The agents jump in a car to go to another crime scene, but Scully won’t let the camera guy ride with them. They find Ricky dead, having been attacked by something with claws.

Wetzel tells the camera how difficult it is to lose a co-worker in the line of duty. But they’ll have to “cowboy up” and work harder. Mulder notes that the slash marks on Ricky’s body match what Freddy Krueger would leave on a victim. Scully has a different idea after she finds a fake fingernail on the ground. They find out who placed the call about Ricky’s attack and wind up at the house of a couple named Steve and Edy. (That makes Mulder grin.) Duthie says they’re good people who often call in trouble in the neighborhood.

While Edy runs off to get camera-ready, Steve tells the police that they heard screaming outside. They didn’t see Ricky until after he’d been attacked, and they definitely didn’t see a werewolf. They do, however, know the owner of the fake nail, a prostitute named Chantara. Edy sings a little, trying to get her own TV show. Her long-suffering partner drags her back into the house.

Speaking of long-suffering partners, Scully reluctantly lets a camera guy in the car with her and Mulder as they look for Chantara. Because they’ve gotten so many conflicting reports, they don’t know what they’re looking for, but Mulder’s positive that there’s something paranormal going on. He tries to make himself look less crazy by saying that Scully’s scientific mind backs up his theories.

They find Chantara, who tries to flee and didn’t sign a release to have her face shown on TV. Once they confirm that she’s the owner of the fake nail, they ask her about the scene of Ricky’s death. Chantara says she tried to help him, then ran when she heard the police approaching. Mulder asks what she saw, assuring her that whatever she says won’t surprise him. She asks for protection from her pimp, Chuco, saying that he killed Ricky.

The police take Chantara into custody, partly because they’re not sure if she’s committed any crimes and partly to protect her. Duthie assigns Wetzel to keep an eye on her while they go find Chuco. Mulder doubts that Chuco could flip over a police car, but he goes along with the group of officers who raid Chuco’s house. It’s a drug den, full of people and stuff, including a dead Chuco. He died of an overdose at least a couple days ago, so he couldn’t have killed Ricky.

Shots are fired outside, so the police and agents run out to the street. Wetzel is firing his gun at nothing, and Chantara is dead. Wetzel insists that the creature that attacked him came back. Duthie tells the agents that Wetzel is young but good at his job; he wouldn’t have let anything happen to Chantara. Another officer finds a single bullet in the street, making Mulder wonder if Wetzel really did hit his target.

The agents ask Wetzel if he’s finally ready to tell them what he saw. He calls it the Wasp Man, a creature from the scary stories his brother told him as a kid. The insect bites on his arms might actually be stings. Wetzel knows he sounds crazy, but Mulder’s heard crazier, of course.

He pulls Scully aside to present his theory: Victims were attacked by a creature that appears as your worst nightmare. Maybe it feeds on fear. Scully wonders how they’re supposed to catch a creature like that. Instead of suggesting that they learn the Riddikulus spell to make it go away, Mulder says they need to figure out how it picks its prey. It went from the woman to Wetzel to Ricky to Chantara, then back to Wetzel. Scully points out that it also went to Steve and Edy.

The agents go back to the couple’s house to find out if they were attacked. Mulder narrates, and Scully asks if he’s talking to her. They hear screaming in the house and run in to find the couple fighting with each other. Scully, who really doesn’t want to have to deal with a domestic dispute right now, tells the couple that they may have witnessed something that can help the police. Mulder decides that they need to stay for a little while, so the couple doesn’t go after each other again.

After a while, Edy admits to Mulder that she’s scared that Steve will leave her. Steve softens and promises that everything’s okay. Scully suggests sending them to a hotel for the night, but Steve says nothing’s going to chase them out of their home, no matter how scared they are.

The agents leave, unsure of what to do next. The moon will be out for four or five more hours, so they only have that amount of time to find the creature, since it only attacks during a full moon. They split up, Scully going to the morgue to examine Chantara’s body while Mulder goes on patrol with Wetzel. Wetzel wonders why Mulder believes his story without proof. The camera crew didn’t even get the creature on tape. Mulder says the camera doesn’t always capture the truth.

Wetzel asks if Scully thinks he’s crazy. Mulder carefully says that he doesn’t think she believes Wetzel is lying. Wetzel is worried that he’s going to get a reputation as being unstable. He already has a hard job. He just wants to help people, but some of them hate him. Every night when he goes on patrol, he wonders if that’ll be the shift where someone takes him out. It’s hard being in law enforcement when people think you’re nuts. Mulder can relate.

Scully examines Chantara with help from an assistant who says word on the street is that Chuco killed her from beyond the grave. She’s also heard a story about a contagion. Scully corrects that there might be a chain of victims, but not due to a virus. The assistant can’t move on from the possibility of a contagion, though, and she’s interested in why they’re doing an autopsy at 3 in the morning, in front of a camera crew. Scully smiles and repeats what Skinner said about the FBI having nothing to hide.

The assistant suddenly sneezes blood and starts seizing. When Mulder and some officers arrive, Scully assures them that, despite the assistant’s symptoms, she doesn’t have a virus. Nothing could kill that fast. Mulder realizes that a contagion was the assistant’s worst fear, and it killed her. It must have moved from Chantara to her. Scully notes that she was standing right there and didn’t see anything. Mulder says it’s because she wasn’t in fear for her life. Steve and Edy weren’t either, so they were also immune.

Duthie’s skeptical, but Mulder says it makes sense. The creature or entity or whatever hangs out in a high-crime neighborhood, where people are constantly afraid. He thinks Wetzel is in danger again; he wasn’t afraid for his life when he had Mulder backing him up, but now he’s out on patrol alone.

Wetzel responds to a call at a house that’s been condemned. After just a few moments inside, he decides he needs to call for backup. When he and the camera crew try to leave, they find that they’re locked in. Mulder and Scully track down Wetzel’s car and enter the house with their guns out, even knowing they won’t do any good. The cops who came along with them have a battering ram but still can’t get through the front door.

The agents find the camera crew hiding in a closet; everyone spooks each other when the agents open the door. “I hate you guys!” Scully exclaims. They see blood on the floor and walls, and hear Wetzel screaming from behind the locked door. Mulder tells him not to be afraid; the creature can’t hurt him. Also, he’s a deputy and is on national TV, so he needs to cowboy up.

Mulder finally opens the door and finds Wetzel injured but alive. The other cops make it into the house as well. Mulder realizes that, since the sun is coming up, the creature has fled. There’s enough fear in the world that if it hadn’t come there, it would have just gone somewhere else. Scully thinks he’s disappointed that he didn’t get proof of the creature on tape. Mulder says it’ll all depend on how the show is edited. Scully thinks this will be a tough case to write up, like it’s somehow any harder than the dozens of other cases she’s worked.

Thoughts: The real mystery of this episode is how Ricky was able to draw so fast.

I would absolutely watch The Steve and Edy Show (though I feel like she would insist on calling it The Edy and Steve Show).

Maybe Wetzel actually saw the WASP Man, a privileged white Protestant whose method of attack is beating people with a squash racquet. He fled not because the sun was rising but because he had to make his tee time.

For more fun with fear (and the inspiration for my recap title), see the Buffy episode “Fear, Itself.”

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