September 15, 2018

The X-Files 8.11, The Gift: Surprise! The Gift Is a Bunch of Goo!

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:17 pm by Jenn

If you ask me, this is the real gift

Summary: Someone is driving through the rain at night in Squamash Township, Pennsylvania. Drive, someone, drive! The driver approaches a house, carrying a gun, and passes through a door with a cross-like symbol on it. The people inside the house aren’t happy to see this person. The driver shoots a creature in the house, then gets back in the car. We finally see who it is: Mulder. Yay, he’s back!

Now Doggett’s driving his car somewhere. Drive, Doggett, drive! He has a flashback to Scully talking to Skinner about how Mulder was dying but didn’t tell anyone. Then he has a flashback to asking Scully how far she thinks Mulder would go to get the truth. He promises to find Mulder, no matter what that entails.

It looks like it entails Doggett going to Squamash Township to meet up with Sheriff Kurt Frey. Kurt confirms that Mulder visited last spring to look into the disappearance of a woman named Marie Hangemuhl. Kurt says Marie wasn’t really missing, and Mulder wasn’t really investigating. Marie was in her house the whole time; her sister just got worried and called the authorities.

Kurt doesn’t know why the FBI is involved in a crime that’s not a crime. Why send two agents at two separate times, let alone one? Doggett asks if Mulder had a personal connection to the case, since cell phone records show that he came back a week before he disappeared. This is news to Kurt. The two go to the house Mulder visited in the first scene, which we now know belongs to Paul and Marie Hangemuhl. Paul is annoyed that he has to rehash things; it’s a personal matter, nothing for the FBI to worry about.

Flashback! Mulder questions the Hangemuhls, who insist that Marie’s sister is worried over nothing. However, Marie had told her sister that she was leaving town because she was afraid of something. Mulder thinks the two are covering up their knowledge of something or someone coming to the house. Paul angrily says that they had a fight, but everything’s fine now.

In the present, Doggett goes over Mulder’s visit with the couple. They lie that he never came back (and he definitely didn’t shoot anyone in their house, no, siree!). Doggett notices a dialysis machine, and Paul says that Marie has end-stage kidney failure. Doggett tries to ask about the visitor Mulder thought was coming to the house, but Paul counters by asking if Mulder had mental issues. There’s a local folk legend about a creature in the woods, and Mulder thought it was real. He thought the creature was coming to eat Marie alive.

As they leave, Doggett asks Kurt if the couple owns a gun. He saw three holes in the wall that had been plastered over. Kurt is willing to go back in and ask, but Doggett declines. He goes back to Virginia and searches Mulder’s apartment, taking a moment to feed the fish. He finds Mulder’s gun hidden under the sink. In Pennsylvania, Kurt oversees some digging of an area marked with stones in the shape of the symbol that was on the Hangemuhls’ door. Paul has heard rumors about something and has come by to get confirmation from Kurt.

Doggett takes Mulder’s gun to the FBI’s firearms-toolmarks unit and tells Skinner it was missing three rounds – possibly the three bullets that left holes in the Hangemuhls’ wall. But Mulder never filed a report about discharging the three rounds, or even about his visit to the house. The reports he filed during that time period state that he was in D.C. Skinner defensively asks if Doggett’s calling Mulder a liar. Yeah, I think so, Skinner.

Doggett has found blood on the gun, which is enough to prove that Mulder shot someone. Skinner angrily insists that Mulder didn’t kill someone and run away – he was abducted. He thinks this is about Doggett anyway. He wants to give the FBI an explanation for Mulder’s disappearance so Doggett can get transferred off the X-Files. Doggett says he just wants the truth. Skinner tells him to ask Scully, but Doggett says he can’t. She co-signed Mulder’s false reports, so whatever’s going on, she’s in on it. Skinner doesn’t want Scully’s job to be at risk, but Doggett has another idea.

In Pennsylvania, Kurt, Paul, and some others descend on a cabin and yell for someone to bring out…something. A woman emerges and says the something is dead. (The woman doesn’t get a name, but I’ll call her Sheila, since she’s played by the actress who played David’s mother on Beverly Hills, 90210.) Something human-ish runs into the woods, and the people chase him, letting their hunting dogs lead the way. They capture him in a net and drag it back to their trucks as Sheila begs them to leave him alone.

Doggett and Skinner return to Pennsylvania and go to the sheriff’s station looking for Kurt. He pretends he’s just coming back from a hunting trip. The agents ask about a death certificate he filed for an unidentified transient found in the woods. Doggett asks why no case report was filed. The body was dumped outside a cabin the morning after Mulder came back to Pennsylvania. Since it’s logical to assume that Mulder killed the man, Doggett and Skinner would like to examine the body.

Kurt directs the agents to the grave, where the agents discuss whether Mulder would kill someone, and why the people in town would cover it up. But they’re not going to get any answers from the body, since it’s missing from its grave – which was, of course, the spot marked by the stones. Doggett guesses that Kurt is the graverobber. But there’s also another route out of the grave, which means, as unlikely as it sounds, the unidentified man may have crawled out of his own coffin after being shot three times and buried. Skinner’s also interested in why someone left the stones on top of the grave.

Paul is painting the symbol on his door, possibly in blood, when Kurt comes by to tell him that they need to move quickly. Paul says Marie isn’t ready, but Kurt doesn’t care. Marie doesn’t think she can do this, but Paul says they don’t have any other options. Someone else arrives at the house, hauling the creature in his truck. Marie strips naked and kisses Paul, who promises he’ll be waiting for her when this is over. Kurt lets the creature out of the truck and into the house, where it starts feeding on Marie.

Sometime later, Doggett and Skinner come by and demand that Paul tell them why Mulder came back to town when he did. They ask to see Marie, who’s not downstairs with her husband. Skinner sees some blood on the floor, and Doggett says Paul missed a spot when he was cleaning up. In some cave somewhere, the creature is doing gross things to Marie that involve gross noises.

Doggett imagines Mulder’s visit to the Hangemuhls and his murder of the creature. Paul has told the agents that Marie coughed up the blood on the floor. Since Mulder’s not the type to just randomly kill someone, Doggett thinks he shot the transient to protect Marie. Skinner uses a piece of police technology to show Doggett the remains of the symbol Paul drew on the door in blood.

The agents place an early-’00s video Internet call to the Lone Gunmen. It’s late, so the Gunmen were asleep, and Langly isn’t wearing pants. The guys identify the symbol as a medicine wheel, which is associated with Native American shaman. The circle is the continuum between life and death, and the cross is paths of sorrow and happiness. The Lakota teach that these elements are all one. Only enlightened people can see that.

The Gunmen know of a legend of a soul-eater that eats sick people to consume their illnesses. The townspeople could have placed the symbol on the creature’s grave as a sign of respect, or put it on the door as a summons. Since Marie has a kidney disease, Doggett thinks this all makes sense. He’s now pretty sure there was no transient buried in that grave.

He goes to Sheila’s cabin and asks her about the body she supposedly found in the woods. He thinks she believes the same thing Mulder did, that the creature was a soul-eater, and she put the stones on his grave out of respect. Doggett thinks Mulder wanted to protect Marie, and he needs Sheila’s help to figure everything out. She tells him he has things backwards. Doggett hears a noise further in the cabin and goes to check it out. He finds a hidden door in the floor, leading to an underground cave.

Doggett stupidly goes into the cave alone and finds Marie covered in goo. He carries her out as Sheila looks on. Later, Marie reunites with Paul at the hospital, looking happy and healthy. In fact, her kidneys have completely healed. Skinner tells Doggett that Kurt wants to take his statement, but Doggett knows that Kurt and Paul have been in on the whole thing. He’s changed his theory: Marie wasn’t the person Mulder was trying to protect from the soul-eater.

Doggett returns to the cabin, where Sheila tells him that the soul-eater has a gift. People hate him because they need him. Sheila is just the latest in a long line of people who have taken care of him. Doggett presents his theory that Mulder came to Pennsylvania to save himself, not Marie. In flashback, we see Mulder undergoing the same process Marie did. Doggett says that he had an undiagnosed brain disease, and he was desperate for a cure. Sheila says they all are.

She hated how the soul-eater suffered, but she couldn’t bring herself to kill him. So Mulder came back to do it, wanting to take away the soul-eater’s pain. In flashback, we see Mulder firing the three shots; the soul-eater doesn’t try to run or fight him. Sheila kept the soul-eater with her instead of burying him, and now that the townspeople know he’s back, she knows they’ll come to him for more healing. He’ll keep suffering.

Doggett puts the soul-eater in his car and is about to leave when Kurt arrives with some of his posse. Kurt says the soul-eater belongs to them. Doggett argues that the soul-eater is a person and doesn’t belong to anyone. Neither man will back down, but Doggett thinks he can get away with just walking to the car and driving off. He’s wrong, and Kurt shoots him in the back. Before Kurt can get to the car, the soul-eater somehow disappears. Kurt knows he’ll come back, since he always does.

The men bury Doggett in the woods and leave, I guess not thinking Sheila will tell anyone what happened. Of course, since Doggett still has a season and a half left on the show, it’s no surprise when he wakes up in the cave covered in goo. Sheila is nearby with the soul-eater, who’s now dead. For years, the soul-eater took people’s sickness and became sick himself. Now that he’s taken someone’s death, he’s dead. Doggett freed him.

In D.C., Doggett tries to write a case report, but this is obviously a difficult one to explain. He tells Skinner that, after all this, he’s still no closer to finding Mulder. But Skinner thinks that Doggett now understands Mulder and his motives better. He thinks Doggett should skip this report; it’ll open a can of worms for Scully and harm both their reputations. In this instance, it’s better if Doggett and Skinner keep the truth to themselves. As Skinner leaves, Doggett studies a picture of the symbol, then looks up and briefly sees Mulder in the office with him.

Thoughts: Me, typing “Hangemuhls” over and over: “You’re killing me, writers.”

Who’s been paying rent on Mulder’s apartment? Rent in this area is pretty steep. What a waste of money.

Only one Scully scene? RIP-OFF.

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