October 27, 2018

The X-Files 8.17, Empedocles: O Say, Can You See?

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:15 pm by Jenn

Happy Halloween!

Summary: A man named Jeb is getting unexpectedly laid off in New Orleans. He does a walk of shame through the office, leaving the building just as police are chasing a car past. The fleeing car crashes, and multiple vehicles catch on fire. So I guess Jeb’s day isn’t so bad now. The fleeing driver emerges from his car, covered in flames but appearing not to feel anything. He walks right through Jeb and disappears. Jeb is unharmed, but his eyes glow orange for a few moments. So maybe Jeb’s day really is bad. He goes back to his office, heads straight for the boss who fired him, and shoots him.

A few hours later, multiple people are dead in the office, and local detective Franklin Potter has called the FBI. But it’s not Mulder, Scully, or even Doggett who arrives to take the case – it’s Reyes. Potter thinks the killings may have been Satanic ritual murders. Some people thought Jeb had a “dark side.” Reyes acknowledges that being fired could have pushed Jeb over the edge. But the only “dark” thing she finds in Jeb’s desk is Marilyn Manson CDs.

Reyes starts to leave, thinking there’s nothing for her to contribute here, but she pauses when she sees flames on the body of one of Jeb’s victims. She looks under the sheet covering the body and finds it charred, like it was in the fire outside the building. She gets distracted by Potter, and when she looks back at the body, it’s back to normal.

Mulder stops by Scully’s apartment, and after some banter about a pizza deliveryman, he hides a present behind a pillow on her couch. No, wait, they’re still talking about the pizza guy. Scully finds the present, and Mulder tells her it’s a family keepsake he found in his mother’s things. Then the pizza guy arrives, and Mulder “pretends” to be jealous. As he pays for the pizza, Scully gasps in pain, because no pregnant woman on a TV show is able to have an uneventful pregnancy.

Mulder rushes Scully to the hospital, where Doggett meets up with them, having heard about the emergency from Scully’s landlord while he was dropping something off. How did Doggett get to the hospital before an ambulance? The ambulance service should look into that. A nurse first thinks Doggett is the baby’s father, and before Mulder has to either confirm or deny that it’s him, he gets a call from Reyes asking for his help with her case. He tries to pass her along to Doggett, but Reyes says she can’t call him – the case involves him.

In Lavonia, Georgia, Jeb and his gun are hiding out in a motel. He’s ready to shoot himself and end it all, but he has to drop the gun when it starts heating up. Cracks form in the skin of his face, showing fire underneath. This is appropriate for Halloween, since he looks like a jack o’lantern.

Reyes comes to D.C. and meets Mulder, commenting that he’s taller than she thought. She explains that she was there when his “body” was found. She tells Mulder that her case involves Doggett – specifically, the death of his son, Luke. He died in 1997, at the age of seven. Reyes was the lead investigator and worked on the case with Doggett, who was then with the NYPD. They never caught the killer. Reyes struggled with her emotions through the whole case, but knows that it was even harder for Doggett. She doesn’t want to put him through that again, but she’d like to reopen the case.

Reyes continues that when they found Luke’s body, she had a vision of it being burned, the same as what she saw in the office in New Orleans. Doggett saw the same thing but has since convinced himself that nothing happened. Reyes thinks the vision she had in New Orleans means Jeb’s murders are connected to Luke’s death. There has to be a reason she’s had the vision again.

Doggett’s still at the hospital with Scully, but when he enters her room to check on her, he has a vision of himself in a field. There are men running around, and the air is full of smoke. Doggett comes back to reality when a nurse kicks him out since he’s not Scully’s immediate family. (Hey, where’s Maggie? Shouldn’t she be here with her daughter?)

Someone calls Doggett to let him know that Mulder’s looking into his past, and he angrily confronts Mulder, ordering him to stay out of his life. Mulder explains that Reyes asked him to look into Doggett’s file. Doggett doesn’t like the idea of her looking into his past any better. Mulder mentions the name Bob Harvey, a suspect in Luke’s murder who was dismissed after Reyes and Doggett questioned him. Guess who died in the car crash in New Orleans? Bob.

Reyes brings up her vision, but Doggett says he doesn’t care about that, or whether there’s a connection between the murders in New Orleans and Luke’s death. He wants Reyes and Mulder to leave it alone. Of course, neither of them is going to do that. Reyes goes to Jeb’s sister Katha’s house, where Jeb lived for a little while before moving to New Orleans. Katha doesn’t think her brother is capable of murder. She’s never heard of Bob, but Reyes isn’t surprised.

Jeb is now in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and picks this horrible moment to call Katha. She keeps a poker face as he insists that he didn’t murder anyone. After Katha hangs up on him, a woman with a flat tire asks Jeb for help. Doggett goes back to the hospital, where Scully’s stable, and asks what made her go from skeptic to believer. She says she realized she was afraid to believe. Doggett has another vision of himself in the field, looking at Reyes with a group of men. He comes back when Scully asks his reason for his question.

Mulder sets up camp in his old office, looking at old cases involving visions like Reyes’. Others have had images of death associated with crimes like the ones Reyes has investigated. But there’s no pattern, so that’s not helpful. Reyes disagrees, still sure that there’s a reason for everything that’s happened. She thinks Bob is the key. Mulder says it’s just a coincidence, which might be the least Mulder-ish thing he’s ever said.

Reyes says that sometimes we just don’t understand patterns we see. Mulder says that she should apply to work on the X-Files. He thinks his time would be better spent with Scully. Reyes hopes Scully comes back to work soon, since someone in the X-Files division needs to have an open mind.

The woman with the flat tire no longer has to worry about her car, because it looks like Jeb killed her. He looks at his reflection in her back window and sees flames behind him. Then he steals her van and heads off to continue his tour of the American South. Sometime later, Doggett comes to Spartanburg, having been summoned by Mulder and Reyes. They’ve found the body of the woman with the flat tire, and Reyes thinks she’s connected to Jeb. She wants to know if Doggett sees what she sees.

What Doggett first sees is a scene from his vision, of Reyes standing with a group of men. They’re looking at the woman’s body, which Reyes has seen as burned. Doggett says he doesn’t see the same thing, but Reyes thinks he’s in denial. Maybe they’re dealing with “a thread of evil, connecting through time, through men, through opportunity, connecting back” to Doggett. In other parts of the world, people see evil in death the way some see God in a rose. “I saw Elvis in a potato chip once,” Mulder says. Thanks for your contribution, Mulder. He accepts that if Doggett doesn’t see what Reyes sees, that’s that.

Mulder returns to D.C., where Scully tells him that her placenta started to tear away from her uterine wall, but she’ll be okay. He put his hand on her stomach to feel the baby kicking, then tells Scully what he’s been up to. He laughs when Scully says she likes Reyes, since the two women are nothing alike. Scully notes that she and Mulder are nothing alike, either. She continues that Doggett has never talked to her about Luke, so she doesn’t know anything about the case, but she hopes Mulder can help him. Doggett is worth the effort.

Jeb surprises Katha by showing up at her house. He insists again that he didn’t kill anyone. She sees blood on his face, and he says he doesn’t know how it got there. He begs his sister for help. In D.C., Doggett makes some calls about Jeb, telling Reyes he’s looking into the case after all. Reyes says he’s looking into it the wrong way. He mocks that they just have to read some tea leaves to solve the case. He’s doing the work; why isn’t Reyes satisfied? She tells him she needs him to be honest about what he saw in Spartanburg, and about his feelings.

Doggett argues that feelings don’t solve crimes, so what’s the point? But Reyes isn’t talking about the job. She wants to know what he’s afraid of. He tells her that he needs to believe that he did everything he could to find Luke – everything he could to save him. If Doggett can’t believe that, then the possibilities the other agents are talking about mean he didn’t do everything he could have.

Katha calls Reyes to report that Jeb is at her house. Doggett wants to tag along with Reyes, sure that Jeb is somehow connected to Luke. Jeb has no idea about Katha’s call, but he catches on when she tries to get her daughter, Mia, to leave the room because Reyes has arrived. This backfires, and Jeb pulls his gun and takes Mia hostage. This leads to a stand-off with Doggett, and Mia being used as a human shield/bargaining chip.

Doggett backs off, but Reyes has found another way into the house, and is able to sneak up behind Jeb and shoot him. Katha isn’t happy, even though her daughter is unharmed and was going to be traumatized anyway. Jeb is taken to the same hospital where Scully’s being treated, and Reyes tells Doggett that their work stops here. Maybe saving Mia was the point of all this. Maybe her visions were leading her to save Mia, since they couldn’t save Luke.

Doggett goes to see Scully again, and he has another vision from the field. Only this time, instead of the woman with the flat tire, the body everyone’s standing around is Luke’s – and he’s burned. Mulder brings Doggett back to reality, and they discuss the possibility of a connection between Jeb and Luke. Mulder saw truly evil people when he first started working in the violent-crimes division, and he was never satisfied with scientific explanations.

He accepts that everyone is capable of doing horrible things, but most people can hold back their urges. Some people, however, give in, opening themselves to becoming evil. If that’s true, Doggett says, that means Jeb might be truly evil. Mulder says they might never know. It could be random and meaningless. If not, Doggett’s seeing something that Mulder doesn’t.

Katha’s sitting with Jeb, under Reyes’ watchful eye, when he flatlines. The doctor does, like, the bare minimum to try to save him, but he’s gone. Katha blames Reyes, which makes sense. Then whatever possessed Jeb passes into Katha, and she grabs a fire extinguisher as a weapon to use to kill Reyes. Doggett arrives in time to stop her from finishing Reyes off. He thinks it’s all over, but Reyes knows better.

Mulder takes Scully home after her stint in the hospital, ordering her a new pizza. There’s more pizza-man banter and teasing. It’s cute, I guess. Scully finally gets to open her present, a doll that no child should ever be forced to play with. She likes it, but prefers the other gift Mulder gave her: courage to believe. She hopes she can pass that one along to her baby. Doggett’s still at the hospital, looking in on Katha, who I guess is still possessed. Sorry, not everyone gets a happy ending this time.

Thoughts: Somehow, the least realistic part of this episode is that Jeb left his office without a box full of his belongings.

Also, maybe the real catalyst that made him evil was being named Jeb?

The best way to convince your sister of your innocence is probably not to take her kid hostage. But then again, none of my brothers has ever been the subject of an FBI manhunt, so what do I know?

Once again, I’ve already used a recap title that would be perfect here: “Do You See What I See?”

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