March 2, 2019

The X-Files 9.14, Scary Monsters: WWMASD? (What Would Mulder and Scully Do?)

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

Yes, let’s show this kid more violent images on TV. That’s a great plan

Summary: In Fairhope, Pennsylvania, a boy named Tommy is lying awake in bed. He’s spooked by a tree branch tapping against his window and checks under his bed for monsters. He hears a noise from his closet and yells for his father, Jeffrey, asking him to make sure there’s really nothing under the bed. Jeffrey does, telling Tommy his imagination is playing tricks on him. But after he leaves, Tommy can see something under his bed reflected in his mirror. He tries to get out of his room, screaming for help, but Jeffrey’s holding the door closed.

Scully’s back in Quantico, trying to take a break from her eager students. Leyla Harrison comes to see her, reporting that she’s gone back to accounting rather than continuing to have adventures in the field. She has a case for Scully, who just wants to eat her lunch. In the course of busting a secretary for borrowing an FBI vehicle without permission, Leyla came across a possible X-File. The secretary’s daughter was Tommy’s mother, who was recently killed. Tommy told his grandmother that a monster killed her, and his father knows about it.

Leyla knows an eight-year-old isn’t a reliable source, but the fact that the coroner says Tommy’s mother stabbed herself to death is a big red flag. Scully thinks the coroner’s report is fine, and it’s perfectly reasonable that a woman would stab herself 16 times. Leyla tells her that Jeffrey took Tommy to a mountain cabin and has cut him off from the rest of the world, including his grandmother. Tommy also told his grandmother that the monster that killed his mother also killed Spanky, his cat. Scully says she can’t do anything, unless Leyla happens to bring her the cat’s body.

Reyes calls Scully at home that night while she and Doggett are driving somewhere. Leyla has brought them the X-File, and is tagging along on a trip to Pennsylvania. Scully tells Reyes the same thing she told Leyla – there’s no case. Reyes confronts Leyla for not telling her and Doggett that she already approached Scully with the case. Doggett just turns the car around to go back to D.C.

Leyla thinks they should continue the trip to Pennsylvania – even if the case isn’t an X-File, they should still want to help Tommy. She says Mulder would go if he were there. Doggett changes his mind, and the agents arrive in Fairhope as Jeffrey’s finishing burying something in the snowy yard outside his mountain cabin. Jeffrey insists that everything’s fine, but Doggett sees blood on his hand. Jeffrey says he just cut himself on some glass.

Reyes asks to talk to Tommy, but Jeffrey says he’s in bed already. Doggett notes that it’s only 7:00. Reyes says that Doggett’s stubborn and won’t leave until they get to see Tommy. Tommy himself comes outside and tells his father that he heard a noise that scared him. The agents remind Tommy what he said to his grandmother about monsters, but Tommy robotically says that monsters don’t exist. Jeffrey tells the agents that this is why his mother-in-law isn’t allowed to visit her grandson anymore.

Leyla thinks her imagination, like Tommy’s, got the better of her and she dragged Reyes and Doggett out on a non-case. But Reyes and Doggett are sure that Tommy and Jeffrey are hiding something. Doggett can tell that Jeffrey’s been digging, which is enough probable cause for a judge to give them a search warrant. As the agents leave, Tommy says to Jeffrey that he doesn’t think the monsters will let them go. Indeed, the monsters keep Doggett’s car from starting, and they make blood shoot out of the vents. Some kind of dead animal is under the hood.

Scully gets a late-night visit from a friend of Leyla’s named Gabe Rotter. He’s there to deliver Spanky’s body. Scully decides to be “exceptionally polite” and only tell Gabe firmly that he needs to leave. Gabe complains that he had to sneak around and dig a bunch of holes to find the cat’s body, so Scully is going to be grateful for his work. Also, Leyla said she’d only go out with him if he delivered the cat.

Scully immediately tries to call Reyes, but she doesn’t have cell service in the mountain cabin. The car won’t start, despite not seeming to have anything wrong with it, so the agents are stuck in Fairhope for the night. Leyla’s reminded of Mulder and Scully’s circumstances in “D.P.O.” and their inability to use anything electrical. She wonders what Mulder and Scully would do in this situation. Doggett reminds her that they’re not there. He and Reyes think their situation is the best possible thing – they’re with the very person they want to keep safe.

Upstairs, Tommy yells for help again. The agents find Jeffrey holding his door shut and burst into Tommy’s room as Jeffrey tries to tell them not to. There are creatures in Tommy’s room that look like giant bugs. Doggett shoots one, and the others skitter under the bed.

Tommy draws a picture of himself and Reyes while Doggett searches the house for more creatures, with no luck. Tommy tells the agents the that creatures are the monsters that killed his mom, but his dad doesn’t want him to talk about them. Doggett goes back to Tommy’s room, which is full of his drawings. He blasts Jeffrey for trapping his son in the room with the creatures.

Jeffrey shows some scars on his arm, saying the creatures almost killed him once before. He’s trying to deal with monsters that won’t leave him and his son alone. He thinks they want to kill the agents, and there’s nothing they can do to stop them. Killing the creatures won’t stop them. Leyla disagrees – what would he have been burying in the yard earlier other than a monster?

In D.C., Gabe watches uncomfortably as Scully performs a necropsy on the cat while wearing an apron that says “something smells goo-ooood.” I bet Mulder got that for her. Speaking of Mulder, his fish tank is now in Scully’s kitchen. Gabe’s like, “You’re cutting open a dead cat on your kitchen table while your baby sleeps a few doors down. This is totally normal for you?” Scully thinks that the cat killed itself, just like Tommy’s mother killed herself.

The phone rings, so Scully asks Gabe to hold the cat’s ribs open while she answers it. Gabe’s like, “This date Leyla promised me better be excellent.” The call is from a sheriff named Jack Coogan whom Scully called to help her get in touch with the other agents. Coogan tells her that Tommy’s grandmother asked him to look in on Tommy, but Jeffrey chased him away when he showed up. Tommy seemed fine, so Coogan didn’t follow up. He’s happy to go back and check on the agents, but not now – it’s snowing, and the roads are icing over.

Doggett digs up the thing Jeffrey buried in the yard, cutting himself just like Jeffrey did. He was telling the truth about it being glass – he buried the mirror from Tommy’s room. He buried it because Tommy was afraid of it. Doggett tells him to pack up his son so they can all leave the cabin. Leyla guesses they’re dealing with black magic, and the mirror was used for conjuring. Doggett’s like, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking.”

He plans to have them all walk to the sheriff’s station, which makes Tommy nervous. Jeffrey promises his son that Coogan will help them. Tommy runs to Reyes for comfort. Coogan arrives at the cabin and tells everyone they can’t leave because it’s too cold outside. Jeffrey realizes Coogan isn’t really Coogan. Reyes sees that Coogan has drawn his gun and yells out a warning. Doggett fights the sheriff, trying to punch him in the stomach, and is shocked when his fist goes right through the man.

Gabe amuses himself by snooping around Scully’s apartment while she’s on the phone. He finds Mulder’s FBI badge and says, “So this is Johnny Fabulous, huh?” HA! I love this guy. He’s heard all about Mulder from Leyla, who talks about him and Scully all the time. Scully’s worried since she can’t get in touch with Coogan again, and her concern concerns Gabe. She thinks the cat was trying to chew something out of itself that was causing a lot of pain. She figures that’s why Tommy’s mother stabbed herself – she was trying to cut something out of her body.

While Scully calls Maggie to get her to babysit so Scully can go to Pennsylvania, Reyes channels her to do a cursory autopsy of Coogan’s body. He has no internal organs, and Doggett has decided his blood isn’t blood (and that the “blood” in his car isn’t really blood either). Knowing he sounds like Leyla, Doggett says he remembers one of Mulder and Scully’s cases similar to this – their mushroom hallucinations from “Field Trip.” He stops before he can compare the two cases.

Reyes says that Mulder and Scully might see something in this case that she and Doggett don’t. Doggett doesn’t know what it would be, since nothing there makes sense. Then he realizes that might be exactly what they need to see. They try to send Tommy, who’s drawing more pictures, out of the room with Leyla, but he doesn’t want to go. He’d rather be with Reyes, so she goes upstairs with him instead.

Doggett asks Jeffrey how he knew Coogan wasn’t Coogan. Why did he move Tommy to the cabin and lock him in the room with the monsters? Jeffrey insists that he loves Tommy and would never hurt him. He locked Tommy in with the monsters because he knew they wouldn’t hurt him either. Upstairs, Tommy shows Reyes a bunch of his drawings, including ones he did of the monsters. There’s also a drawing of Reyes with a monster inside her. Reyes asks why he would imagine something so horrible. “Because I’m afraid,” he says.

Scully and Gabe go to the sheriff’s station and meet up with the real Coogan. He says he tried to get to the cabin, but it was too dangerous. Gabe and Scully remind him that some agents and Gabe’s girlfriend (okay, buddy, slow it down) are at the cabin, and they need to find a way to get there. Coogan says he can’t help them.

Leyla wonders if Tommy is somehow at the center of what’s going on. They go back to Coogan’s body, which isn’t there anymore. Suddenly Reyes comes downstairs, gasping in pain. She confirms that Tommy’s responsible for everything that’s happening. And just like in his drawing, Reyes has a monster inside her stomach.

Doggett tells Jeffrey that he has to stop Tommy from whatever it is he’s doing. Jeffrey says he can’t stop Tommy from being afraid and imagining things. He doesn’t mean to do all this stuff. Reyes disagrees. Doggett runs upstairs to stop Tommy himself, but Tommy has crossed over into creepy-little-kid territory, so Doggett’s not much of a match for him. Thanks to Tommy’s imagination, Doggett falls out of the house into a black nothingness full of the bug creatures.

Back in the house, Reyes begs Leyla to get the monster out of her. Jeffrey’s no help, and Leyla’s starting to bleed out of her eyes, thanks to a new drawing Tommy’s working on, so Reyes is in a bit of trouble here. Jeffrey goes to his son’s room, but Doggett has made it back inside and stops him from opening the door. He’s adamant that what’s happening isn’t real. Tommy’s mother only stabbed herself because she thought it was real. Doggett doesn’t, so it can’t hurt him.

Tommy hears Jeffrey outside the door and yells for him to come into the room. From his window, he sees the agents and Jeffrey leaving the house together. Doggett goes back in and pours gasoline around the living room, telling Tommy he’s going to set the house on fire. Tommy thinks Doggett’s just trying to scare him. Doggett lights a match and asks, “Scared yet?” He starts a fire and stands in the flames like they won’t hurt him.

Outside, Leyla’s bleeding has stopped, and Reyes’ monster is gone. Scully and Gabe arrive in a Jeep with a plow attached and run into the house, which isn’t actually on fire. Tommy is unconscious, which I guess is why all the weird stuff stopped. Scully checks him over as Doggett tells Reyes that she was right. Also, the gasoline was just water.

In D.C., Leyla and Gabe get to enter a place she’s probably only dreamed of going – the X-Files office, which still has Mulder’s “I want to believe” poster on the wall. Leyla’s happy that the division is still in good hands. She’s moved her affection from Mulder to Doggett, thinking that Doggett was better equipped for this case than Mulder would have been. After all, Doggett’s “lack of imagination” is what saved them all. Doggett’s not as flattered as Leyla intended.

Reyes reports that Tommy’s in a psych facility, and obviously the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him or exactly how to treat it. But for now, they’re stifling his imagination by having him watch a bunch of TVs at once. Ha ha! TV ruins your imagination! It’s funny because a TV show is saying it! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Sigh.

Thoughts: Steve Ryan, who plays Coogan, also played J. Walter Weatherman on Arrested Development, so now I have all these “and that’s why you don’t _____” jokes running through my head.

Someone working on this show was a David Bowie fan. The title is from one of his albums, and the last scene is similar to one from Bowie’s movie The Man Who Fell to Earth.

The idea of drawings coming to life is featured in pop culture more than I realized. Three other instances:

  • The Doctor Who episode “Fear Her”
  • The Supernatural episode “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”
  • Keith Donohue’s book The Boy Who Drew Monsters

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