August 18, 2018

The X-Files 8.7, Via Negativa: Third Eye Blindings

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

A trend that just never caught on

Summary: An FBI agent named Jim falls asleep during a stakeout, which his partner, Stedman, doesn’t appreciate. The front door of the house he was supposed to be watching is open, so the two go up to make sure everything’s okay. It’s not: There are bloody footprints leading inside, and everyone seems to have left. Also, there’s a painting of an eye on the ceiling, but I don’t think the agents are worried about that. Or at least not as worried as they are about all the dead people they find. The two agents split up to check out the rest of the house, and Jim hears gunshots. Before he can react, someone attacks him with an axe.

In Falls Church, Virginia (my hometown!), Doggett wakes up in the middle of the night when Scully calls. (No “it’s me,” because Doggett is not and will never be Mulder.) Skinner has informed her that an agent who was surveilling a religious cult in Pittsburgh has died, along with all the cult members. Scully can’t go with Doggett to investigate, but she doesn’t tell him that it’s for some medical reason.

Doggett goes to Pittsburgh alone and meets up with Skinner. Skinner explains that Jim and Stedman were surveilling the cult’s house because they thought the members were trafficking drugs. Jim was found in his car, which was locked from the inside. Doggett quickly determines that he couldn’t have been killed in the car, despite what blood-spatter patterns indicate – there’s no room for someone to swing a weapon at him.

Skinner takes him inside, where 20 cult members lie dead, having been killed the same way as Jim. All were struck in the forehead and killed with a single blow. The leader, Anthony Tipet, isn’t there. Skinner thought he was just a religious nut, not someone obsessed with the apocalypse. But now it looks like they’re dealing with another Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate situation.

Doggett thinks at least one person would have fought back, which is why Skinner believes they may have been drugged. Doggett suggests that he test Jim, too. Stedman is MIA, but Doggett, who’s familiar with the agent, knows he has a condo in Pittsburgh and might have just gone there. Doggett and Skinner go over and find Stedman dead in his bed.

The agents go back to D.C. and watch a tape of Tipet speaking to his members about how their bodies hold light and dark. If they’re brave enough to look into the darkness, they’ll see God. Skinner tells Doggett and Kersh that Tipet served 12 years in prison for murdering his wife, then became a minister. He tells his followers that they can ascend the via negativa, the path of darkness, to get closer to God. Then their spirits can “travel unhindered.”

Tipet is a big fan of a drug called Iboga, which Skinner thought might be the reason his followers didn’t fight their deaths. But there’s no trace of the drug in their systems. Doggett doesn’t know why Tipet would have killed all his followers anyway; he was paranoid, but his behavior didn’t indicate that he thought everyone should die. Whoever did commit the murders has left no evidence behind, including fingerprints. The house, Jim’s car, and Stedman’s condo were all locked from the inside.

Skinner says that it’s possible Tipet took Iboga, accomplished what he always preached about the via negativa, and was able to kill everyone only through the power of his consciousness. Basically, he’s a psychic killer, qu’est-ce que c’est. Kersh is the Scully to Skinner’s Mulder here, and asks Doggett if this is Scully’s theory. Doggett covers for his absent partner, saying she hasn’t reached a conclusion yet. Kersh asks what Doggett’s going to do about this mystery.

As Doggett and Skinner leave the meeting, Doggett slams Skinner for not running his theory by him first. Skinner says Doggett’s supposed to be helping unravel everything. Doggett’s solution is pretty simple: Find Tipet. The man in question is still in Pittsburgh, being mean to a homeless guy before calling a medical lab from a payphone to be mean to someone working there named Andre. “You did this,” Tipet spits out. He hopes God can help Andre, because Tipet can’t. Instead of asking God for help, Andre takes a razor blade to his own forehead.

Skinner brings Doggett a report stating that all the victims in Pittsburgh were killed by a single blow from an axe. Doggett thinks he’s found it – it’s a ceremonial axe mentioned in some literature Tipet makes his followers read. It’s used to kill nonbelievers. It’s also in Calcutta. Doggett thinks Scully should be running the investigation, but Skinner says she’s taking some personal leave. Annoyed, Doggett starts to call her, but Skinner sternly tells him to leave her alone.

The homeless man Tipet was mean to encounters Tipet again, then somehow gets stuck in quicksand right on the sidewalk in Pittsburgh. Suddenly Tipet has an axe, which he swings at the man. In D.C., Doggett is up late reading up on Tipet when Skinner brings over news of the homeless man’s death. He thinks his theory about how Tipet commits murders is correct. Doggett wonders why a man who claims to be looking for God is killing people. Just because he’s working in the X-Files division doesn’t mean he’s going to think like Mulder and Scully.

Skinner has more evidence, though: Records from a nearby payphone show that a call was recently placed to Andre Bormanis, a prison buddy of Tipet’s who now lives in D.C. The agents go to Andre’s home, which is where he runs his lab, doing some sort of experiments on rats. He swears he doesn’t do anything illegal; he just makes hallucinogens for Tipet so he can open his consciousness. Skinner sees cuts on Andre’s forehead and asks if they’re related to Tipet’s beliefs. Andre says they’re for protection.

He claims that only Tipet takes the drugs because he thinks he’s the only person with a mind strong enough to handle them. Doggett asks if Andre and the cult members admire or fear Tipet. He wants to take Andre in for questioning, and has to keep him from taking something from a petri dish as they’re leaving. Andre begs not to be left alone in lockup, but Doggett ignores him.

Down the hall, Doggett sees bloody footprints on the floor that lead him to Tipet. He’s hovering in midair, and there’s an eye in the middle of his forehead. Doggett looks down and sees that he’s holding Scully’s severed head. Fortunately, this is all a dream. When he wakes up, Scully calls and thanks him for not telling Kersh that she’s sitting this case out. She’s asked Skinner to talk to some of Mulder’s friends for help with the case. She encourages Doggett to trust his instincts.

Tests show that Andre was cooking up some kind of amphetamine no one’s ever seen before. Doggett thinks Andre made it for himself, not Tipet. He needs a way to stay awake. He heads back to Andre’s cell, where Andre is being surprised by a visit from Tipet…though only he can see Tipet. Dozens of rats swarm into the cell and attack Andre. By the time Doggett and Skinner get to him, he’s dead.

Doggett goes to his office, where he meets the Lone Gunmen for the first time. Frohike and Langly think they have the right to look through the X-Files, since they’ve helped solve so many of them. Doggett is willing to accept their help. They have a slide show ready to educate him on the Sahasrara, or third eye. There’s a belief that opening it will allow one to see God. The guys have a side argument about whether or not Frohike was really on Ken Kesey’s bus in 1964.

Doggett can see a connection between the third eye and the victims’ wounds, though he still doesn’t get why Tipet would kill everyone. The Lone Gunmen bring up MK Ultra and the use of hallucinogens to try to create psychic assassins. Maybe Tipet was able to do it. Doggett notes that that would explain why Andre was afraid to fall asleep – Tipet would invade his consciousness and make his nightmares come true. Doggett himself doesn’t believe this possibility, but he knows that if Tipet does, he’ll seek out more drugs so he can keep killing. The Lone Gunmen are impressed with his work as a beginner.

Skinner goes with Doggett to look around Andre’s lab, where I hope someone’s taking care of the rats. Skinner thinks someone’s been there. Indeed, it’s Tipet, and he’s turned on a circular saw. The agents pull their guns and tell him to stay away from it. Tipet tells them he doesn’t want this to happen, but it has to. He’s the only one who can stop what’s happening. Then he lowers his head onto the saw.

Tipet’s rushed to the hospital, where Doggett sees Scully’s name on a sign-in sheet. She’s being seen for acute abdominal pain. After briefly looking in on her, Doggett meets with Skinner and Kersh to present his theory about Tipet opening his followers’ minds through the via negativa. Kersh accepts this idea and tells him to file a report. But Doggett says the case isn’t over. There’s no murder weapon or forensic evidence. They can’t explain how Tipet killed everyone. Kersh says firmly that the case is closed, even without all the details filled in.

Doggett leaves a message on Scully’s answering machine telling her that they seem to have caught the murderer, but he’s not satisfied with the ending of the case. He thinks Tipet may have been right, and they should have let him die. Maybe Doggett just needs sleep and will feel better about the case in the morning. Yeah, or maybe he’ll be murdered in his sleep, as he obviously fears, since he thinks he sees Tipet behind him in his mirror. Doggett goes up to bed, unaware that someone with an axe is in his house.

In the morning, Doggett looks in his mirror and sees an eye opening in his forehead. At work, no one notices it, but Skinner can tell that something’s off about Doggett. Doggett admits that he’s not sure he’s awake. He thinks he dreamed seeing Tipet in his house with an axe the night before. Skinner assures him that he’s awake. Doggett guesses that all of Tipet’s victims felt the same way – they were dreaming but didn’t realize it. Skinner says that Tipet’s in a coma and will never wake up, so Doggett’s safe. Doggett disagrees. Tipet knows him and could target him next.

Skinner sends Doggett home to rest, but before Doggett can leave the building, he comes across Tipet. “She’s going to die,” Tipet warns. Doggett thinks Tipet is threatening to kill Scully, but he’s actually predicting that Doggett will do it. Definitely in a dream, Doggett finds himself at Scully’s door with blood on his hands. He goes inside, somehow acquiring an axe. He approaches Scully’s bed, where she’s asleep, and raises the weapon…then tosses it aside. He picks it up again and starts to swing it toward his own head.

Scully wakes Doggett up in his own bed, and he tells her she saved his life. She reports that Tipet is dead, having never regained consciousness. Scully’s fine and ready to go back to work. Doggett says that Tipet thought he could look into the darkness inside himself and find God. But when Doggett looked into his own darkness, he only saw violence. Maybe those images came from somewhere else. Scully tells him it was just a nightmare, nothing else. Doggett doesn’t seem to believe her.

Thoughts: Okay, who ordered The Skinner and Doggett Show?

Tipet, if you don’t have any spare change, just walk away. Murder is not a proportionate response.

Does this mean the homeless man’s worst fear was drowning in quicksand? I get it; I saw The Neverending Story.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: