October 6, 2018

The X-Files 8.14, This Is Not Happening: The Aliens Giveth and the Aliens Taketh Away

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:18 pm by Jenn

Spoiler alert: It’s happening

Summary: It’s almost 1 a.m. in Helena, Montana, and Richie Szalay is chasing what he thinks is a UFO through the desert. He tries to take a picture of the bright light shining down from the sky, but his camera won’t work. “This is not happening!” he yells as the light slowly disappears. A man approaches from the direction of the light, but when Richie calls out to him, the man runs off. Richie chases him, but trips over an unconscious body on the ground. “This is not happening,” he says again.

In D.C., Doggett takes a look at Mulder’s long-unused nameplate while waiting for Scully to meet him in the office. They go up to meet Skinner, who tells them about the incident in Montana. Richie thinks that the man he saw running away from him was an alien. Skinner reminds Scully that she and Mulder met Richie; Skinner thinks Richie’s experience in Helena might have something to do with Mulder. And if that’s not enough, the body Richie came across belongs to Theresa Nemman.

The three agents fly to Helena to see Theresa, who’s not doing well. Her doctor, Desai, has never seen someone who’s been treated so badly. The only words Theresa has spoken since she was brought to the hospital were a request for her baby. Desai thinks she was experimented on. The damage he describes sounds like what Mulder also experienced earlier in the season. Scully asks about little metal implants, but Desai hasn’t seen any of those.

Doggett gets some info that leads the agents to Richie. He explains that he’s in Montana looking into his friend Gary’s disappearance. He had no luck for a long time, but a bunch of UFO sightings in Montana have been reported in the past few weeks. Doggett asks about the man Richie saw, telling him they found shoeprints left behind by his Nikes. He doubts that the aliens would wear shoes like that. Richie’s like, “Do Nike-wearing humans have spaceships?”

Doggett leaves, thinking this is all just a dumb story from a nutbar. Scully asks if he really thinks a human is responsible for Theresa’s condition. He replies that it doesn’t matter – their job is to find Mulder. Scully thinks this is a break in the case, but Doggett says it’s just hope. He wants Scully to admit that, though she badly wants to find Mulder, she’s also afraid to.

Scully has a nightmare about Mulder undergoing experiments on a spaceship, then wakes Skinner up to express her fears that Mulder’s dead. The two stand outside their motel and look up at the stars. Scully says she and Mulder once talked about how starlight is so old that we can see stars that are already dead. Mulder said souls reside up there, in light that never dies. Scully hopes he’s right. Skinner tells her she doesn’t need to prepare herself for the worst. There’s no reason to believe that Mulder won’t come back to them just fine.

Jeremiah Smith goes to Theresa’s hospital, turning himself into Desai to tell a nurse he wants to have Theresa transferred somewhere else. He’s wearing Nikes, so that’s a strike against Doggett. In the morning, Scully learns that Theresa’s gone missing. Doggett calls her and Skinner out to the desert to talk to an agent named Monica Reyes. He thinks her background in religious studies and ritualistic crimes will help their investigation.

Instead of presenting her theory, Reyes asks Scully what she thinks happened. What actually happened is most likely different from what they want to have happened. Scully would rather stick to the facts, which are that Theresa was left there with strange injuries. Reyes doesn’t think those injuries came from ritualistic abuse or cult practices. But since the people who were allegedly abducted were all believers, maybe they all joined a UFO cult.
Doggett thinks this makes sense – Theresa escaped, and the leader came back to get her so she wouldn’t turn him in. If they find the cult leader, they might find Mulder, too. Reyes thinks Theresa’s still alive, though she doesn’t have any proof, just a feeling. Scully walks away, telling Doggett that Reyes hasn’t been any help. For example, she hasn’t explained how Desai, who supposedly requested Theresa’s transfer, could be in two places at once. Doggett tells her that if she suggests this is the work of another alien bounty hunter, they’ll have to part company. “Enjoy your new company,” Scully tells him.

Jeremiah has taken Theresa to what looks like some old Army barracks, but not to kill her – he wants to heal her. They’re with a man named Absalom who’s very grateful for Jeremiah’s healing powers. Scully runs into Reyes at the hospital, looking at Theresa’s medical records. She sees no signs of the implants Scully asked about earlier. Scully wonders why Reyes would ask about a common piece of evidence of alien abduction if she’s not a believer. Reyes says she’s open-minded and doesn’t “not believe.”

She continues that she specializes in satanic-ritual abuse, which makes Scully think they could have some really interesting conversations in the future. Reyes was a black sheep in the New Orleans field office because of her beliefs, or “spiritual notions.” She believes there are energies in the universe that she’s sensitive to. She just gets feelings. Though she doesn’t get any about Mulder, she can feel Scully’s fear, and she thinks Scully should stay open. Fear won’t help her or anyone else.

Reyes drives off somewhere, trying to fight temptation to light up a cigarette from her pack of Morleys. Her car starts acting weird, like Mulder’s has done twice in the past. She sees a light out in the desert and pulls over. Jeremiah and Absalom are also out there, dropping off another returned abductee. She tries to detain them, but they drive off, leaving another body behind.

This time, the returned abductee is dead – it’s Gary. Scully does the autopsy, fighting back tears as she worries that Mulder has suffered the same fate. Richie arrives and identifies the friend he’s spent months looking for. Scully gathers herself, ready to do her job. Meanwhile, Reyes approaches Doggett to offer comfort, knowing he’s hurting for Scully. He can’t believe that she’s able to work through her fears to do her job. Reyes knows he can relate, but Doggett would rather not discuss that. Reyes ignores him to give us a little exposition: Doggett spent three days looking for his missing son, fearing the worst. Doggett says that’s why he can’t stand conversations about spaceships.

Reyes insists that’s what she saw, but that’s not important right now. She’s ID’d Absalom, who used to lead a doomsday cult that thought aliens would take over the world at the turn of the millennium. When they didn’t (possibly because he thought they would come in 2000 instead of 2001), he started dabbling in credit card fraud. Reyes ran a trace on his license plate and knows where to find him.

Absalom and his buddies are having dinner together at his compound when Jeremiah announces that they need to get everyone inside. He knows the FBI is coming, and they need to make sure the agents can’t find “him.” The agents lead a raid on the property, nabbing Absalom and coming across a completely healed Theresa. Jeremiah is nowhere to be seen (but since he can shapeshift, he could easily be hiding in plain sight).

Scully and Doggett question Absalom, threatening to talk to his 46 followers if he doesn’t give them answers. Absalom says he just goes to retrieve the returned abductees when they’re dropped in the desert. He only wants to help them. Doggett asks if he helped Theresa when he left her for dead. Scully notes that the abductees coming back with injuries that aren’t consistent with other narratives about alien abductions. Absalom says he was right about the invasion at the turn of the millennium – that’s when this all started.

Reyes listens from outside the room as Scully tells Absalom that he’s not a credible witness, so he should focus on telling the truth. Absalom insists that he is. He has video cameras around his compound to help the abductees feel safe. Scully asks if any of those cameras have recorded how Theresa was miraculously healed. Absalom says no, Scully emotionally reminds him that she needs truth, then asks if he has video footage of Mulder. Again, he says no. Outside the room, Skinner tells Reyes that he thinks Absalom’s hiding something. She agrees.

Scully goes to her motel room and thinks she sees Mulder, but when Reyes joins her, she doesn’t see anyone. They regroup with Doggett and Skinner to watch some tapes from Absalom’s compound. They can see a body in Absalom’s truck, but they can’t see whose it is. Scully recognizes Jeremiah, who also appears on footage from the compound. Scully puts together that Jeremiah must have healed Theresa. The footage shows Jeremiah turning into Doggett during the raid, even though Doggett never went into the building.

The agents return to the compound to search for Jeremiah. No one will tell Scully where he is, but she singles out a man wearing Nikes and tries to get him to reveal himself. He won’t admit to anything, but Scully’s sure he’s Jeremiah. Reyes leaves the room to take care of something else, and when Scully turns back to the man, he’s shifted into Jeremiah. He warns that if she exposes him, she’ll endanger others. He’s saved abductees all over the country – he’s the only one who can.

Scully asks about Mulder, and Jeremiah says he was at the compound at one point. Before he can give any details, Skinner calls her away. Jeremiah asks Scully to protect him. The agents head to the woods, where they’ve found a body. It’s Mulder, and he’s (allegedly) dead. Scully runs off, insisting that he needs help, and sees a bright light in the sky. A spaceship hovers over the compound, illuminating one of the buildings. Scully runs inside and looks at all the returned abductees, who are screaming in fear of being taken again. But this time, Jeremiah’s the one who vanishes. “This is not happening!” Scully yells when she discovers him missing. To be continued…

Thoughts: Eddie Kaye Thomas, who plays Gary, was also in Scorpion with Robert Patrick. (The three people who watched Scorpion: “Oh, yeah, I remember that.”)

If you drink every time a ford of the word “happen” is spoken in this episode, you’ll be drunk by the halfway point.

This week’s lesson: When planting or retrieving abduction victims’ bodies, use a vehicle that can’t be traced to you.

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