July 6, 2019

The X-Files 11.5, Ghouli: Crossroads

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:33 pm by Jenn

Next time, maybe take something less breakable

Summary: It’s late at night when a teen girl named Brianna goes to an abandoned boat called the Chimera. She’s spooked by the sight of maggots crawling on a dead animal. Thanks for that, show. She looks around for a while, then comes across another teen girl, Sarah. They each think the other is Ghouli. They’re confronted by a slimy monster and start stabbing it. But it turns out the monster isn’t real, and they’ve just stabbed each other. Oops!

Oh, super, a Scully voiceover. She talks about states of consciousness and hypnagogia, where people have dreamlike visions. She experienced it in a stranger’s bed, where she spotted a shadowy figure in the room. She followed it with her gun drawn but lost track of it. Scully’s telling this story to Mulder in their office; he thinks she just experienced sleep paralysis. He asks where the figure was leading her. She sees a picture of the Chimera and realizes that was her intended destination.

Mulder tells her that the boat is from an open X-File. It’s in Norfolk, and as Mulder drives them there, he tells Scully that Edgar Cayce also saw visions in a hypnagogic state and thought they were messages. Scully dismisses Cayce since he also believed in Atlantis. Mulder notices that they’re being followed, and have been since they left the airport (though I don’t know why they didn’t just drive from D.C. to Norfolk).

The agents meet a detective named Costa at the place where the Chimera has been docked. Sarah and Brianna go to different schools and don’t seem to know each other. They’re both in the hospital, unconscious, but are expected to recover. Someone anonymous called 911 for them, sounding panicked. Scully looks at the crime scene and says that because of the emotional response the girls had, they may actually know each other. Mulder thinks they were just really scared. Either way, Scully doesn’t think their encounter was a coincidence.

Costa tells the agents that when the girls were being treated at the scene, they asked an EMT if he’d found Ghouli. The agents look it up online at a coffee house, finding a site devoted to it, ghouli.net. It’s only been active for a few months and mostly consists of fanfiction. Mulder laments the modern generation’s lack of scary monsters like the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster. Scully wonders if the girls were manipulated to attack each other to increase traffic on the website. She sees that most of the fanfiction was written by an @Rever.

Mulder gets a text saying the girls are conscious, so he and Scully leave to see them at the hospital. First, though, Mulder gets his coffee, responding to his fake coffee-getting name, Bob. (He hates having to explain his real name. Fair enough.) At the hospital, Scully interviews Brianna while Mulder interviews Sarah. Both girls describe Ghouli but say they don’t know each other. They were led to the boat by dreams just like Scully’s; the dreams showed them a snow globe with the boat inside.

When asked if they’ve ever had a dream like that before, both girls say they had one after visiting a fun house with their boyfriends. Well, make that boyfriend, since they’re both dating a guy named Jackson Van de Kamp. That strikes a chord with Scully – the couple who adopted William are named Van de Kamp. When she and Mulder meet up, she tells him that it must be a coincidence. Mulder disagrees, thinking Scully was brought to Norfolk for a reason. They need to find out where Jackson lives.

The agents arrive at Jackson’s house in time to hear two gunshots. They burst in, and Scully immediately recognizes the house from her dream. They find the Mr. and Mrs. Van de Kamp dead on the bottom floor. They hear another shot from upstairs and run up to find Jackson’s body.

Local police come to investigate, and Costa shares his theory that Jackson killed his parents, then shot himself when he realized the agents were in the house and would arrest him. Mulder finds that explanation “convenient.” He goes looking for Scully, who’s in Jackson’s room, another location she saw in her dream. She thinks he wanted her to be there. She looks through pictures of him as Mulder notices that Jackson opened a soda right before the shooting, an odd move.

Scully thinks Jackson may have had mental-health problems; he was seeing a psychiatrist and had prescriptions for seizures and schizophrenia. But the bottles are full, so he wasn’t taking them. Mulder sees a Malcolm X poster on the ceiling with the quote “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” He reminds Scully that they don’t know for sure that Jackson was William.

Scully worries that Jackson didn’t see himself as part of a family, so he killed his parents and himself. Mulder wonders why Jackson would call Scully there if he was just going to die. Her top priority is finding out if he was William so she can get some answers. Mulder promises to take care of that. After he leaves her alone in the room, she sees a shelf of snow globes. She picks up one with a Wizard of Oz quote on it: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Mulder goes outside to confront the two men who were following him and Scully from the airport. They lie that they were just trying to find out why the police are at the Van de Kamps’ house. Mulder thinks they’re with the DOD, which the men won’t confirm or deny. They’re not sympathetic about the deaths of three people, and Mulder warns them not to cross him.

Scully collects a hair sample from Jackson at the hospital morgue where he’s taken. She tells the body that if he’s William, she wants him to know she’s sorry they didn’t get to know each other. She gave him up because was in danger, not because she didn’t want him or love him. She thought having to let him go and miss his whole life was the hardest thing she’d ever have to do, but it’s harder now to see the outcome. She feels like she failed him.

Scully continues that she never forgot her son, and thought they would someday be reunited. She wishes she’d been there to help him with the pain he must have been going through. She feels like her words are inadequate, so she just says she’s sorry and cries. She realizes Mulder has arrived and heard part of what she said. He assures her that she has nothing to apologize for. They head off to do a DNA test. Seconds later, Jackson opens his body bag, very much alive.

Scully grabs a nap and experiences hypnagogia again. She thinks William is the shadowy figure. She follows him to an empty room and finds the Wizard of Oz snow globe. She wonders if it’s a message from William, or if she’s sending a message to him. After some flashes of the events of her visions in “My Struggle II,” Scully turns around and sees…

A coroner, Dr. Harris, wakes her up before she can see who’s there. He wants to know where Jackson’s body is. Mulder joins them in the morgue, and the agents try to figure out how Jackson got out, since it was locked. Mulder tells Scully that this isn’t a case where they can jump to extreme conclusions. She tells him she had another dream/vision that led her to the snow globe (which she took from Jackson’s room). She thinks he wants them to find him.

Scully leaves the hospital, running into a man and dropping the snow globe. She apologizes, but he acknowledges that she was distracted. He asks if she likes windmills, since there’s one in the snow globe. He tells her not to give up on the bigger picture. The agents go back to the Van de Kamps’ house and look for footage on the house’s surveillance cameras, but nothing comes up. Scully finds a business card in a sketchbook and pockets it.

There’s nothing about ghouli.net in Jackson’s search history, and nothing a normal 17-year-old boy would have, like porn, so Scully wonders if he cleared his history. But Mulder used something from the dark web that retrieves any search history that ever existed on a computer, and he still found nothing. He thinks Jackson had another computer.

Police arrive at the house, so the agents quickly search the room and find a hidden laptop. Mulder downloads the search history, which contains ghouli.net stuff, as the police demand that the agents leave. Scully tries to stall them, but the men who were following the agents pull rank – they are, as Mulder guessed, from the DOD, and have orders from the Department of Justice. Mulder continues his download, which includes classified documents about a Project Crossroads. When a DOD agent tries to stop him, Mulder purposely spills Jackson’s soda on the laptop, ruining it.

Mitch Pileggi collects a paycheck when Skinner calls to bug Mulder about not updating him on the case. He only knows what’s going on because the DOD agents filed a complaint about Mulder. Mulder tells him there’s a conspiracy the DOD are trying to cover up. He urges Skinner to come to Norfolk, then pretends his cell connection is failing. Skinner can’t do much more because CSM is in his office. He guesses Mulder will now start looking into Project Crossroads, which will lead the two of them to what they’re looking for.

Skinner meets Mulder on the Chimera and tells him to end the investigation. He talks about a eugenics program from the ’70s, led by a Dr. Masao Matsumoto. It was called Project Crossroads and worked with alien/human hybrid DNA, but it was defunded because the results were too unpredictable. Matsumoto burned all the files to protect the subjects, then disappeared.

The DOD has been looking for the subjects since then, and Mulder figures the DOD agents were following him and Scully so they would lead the agents to Jackson. He tells Skinner that the DNA results came back, and Jackson was William. Skinner’s warning is appreciated, but it’s too late.

Scully meets with Jackson’s therapist, Dr. Scholz, who doesn’t think he would have harmed his parents or himself. Scully asks if he ever had visions. Dr. Scholz won’t give details without a court order, but Scully guesses that they were apocalyptic – the same visions she had in “My Struggle II.” Dr. Scholz wonders how Scully could know that.

The agents meet up at the coffee house and discuss Scully and Jackson’s shared visions. She wonders if she was a receptacle for a message from Jackson, like her dream to come to Norfolk. She laughs when a barista calls Mulder by his fake coffee name, joking that “Fox” doesn’t exist in this alternate reality. Mulder says it’s a false reality, just like the rest of the case. He thinks there were two shooters in the house, the DOD agents. They moved Mrs. Van de Kamp’s body after her death, to make it look like there was one shooter, Jackson.

Mulder thinks that Scully was an unwilling participant in Project Crossroads, thanks to CSM. He also thinks Jackson was one of Matsumoto’s test subjects. He knew he was being hunted, so he created an alternate reality, made Mulder and Scully hear a gunshot, and faked his death to protect himself. Similarly, he made Sarah and Brianna see a monster. The question is, where is he now?

He’s at the hospital, visiting Brianna, who’s pleased to see that her boyfriend isn’t really dead. He wants to apologize for the Ghouli thing, which was just a prank. He made up everything on the website, and he made the girls see something he projected into their heads. Things went off the rails and Jackson couldn’t stop it. It all started when he had seizures that gave him visions of scary things like UFOs. But he could share them with a woman, possibly his birth mother.

Jackson knows he’s in danger, so he’s there to say goodbye. It may be too late, as the police have arrived at the hospital. Mulder and Scully come next, and Costa tells them they’ve trapped Jackson inside. Sarah caught Jackson in Brianna’s room and texted a picture to Costa. (Ooh, maybe Jackson should have visited Sarah first.) Scully asks Costa to keep the police outside so she and Mulder can go in first. He tells her the DOD agents are already inside.

Sarah admits that she wanted to hurt Jackson for kissing Brianna. He doesn’t seem too upset, but honestly, the girl trouble is the least of his problems right now. He takes off running and manages to evade the DOD agents for a while. He uses his projection abilities to make one agent look like Ghouli so the other shoots him. (Me, watching this the first time around: “Why doesn’t he just make himself look like someone else so they don’t recognize him?”)

The hospital is evacuated as Mulder and Scully search for Jackson, who’s hiding under a desk at the nurses’ station. Scully and the DOD agent come across each other and fire their guns. When Mulder comes to the place where they’re both lying, the real Scully joins him – Jackson made a cop look like Scully. He’s still under the desk and stays hidden when the agents call out for him. When he emerges from the desk, he makes himself look like a nurse running for safety.

The agents keep searching, but Jackson’s long gone. All Scully has left of him is some of his hair (and, I guess, pieces of the broken snow globe). On the way to the airport to head home, Scully spots a windmill outside a gas station and gets Mulder to make a pit stop. As she’s pumping gas, she encounters the man who ran into her at the hospital and broke the snow globe. He tells her he’s driving across the country to see the world. “Things are about to change,” he says.

Scully asks if the man is Matsumoto, which he should find flattering, since Matsumoto would be much older than this man. He says he’s no doctor; he didn’t even finish high school. He thinks Scully seems like a nice person and wishes he could know her better. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” he says as he gets in his car to leave.

Mulder comes out of the gas station’s convenience store, and Scully tells him she found the man familiar. She thinks he might have written a book they found in Jackson’s room about picking up girls. She shares the advice he gave her, which Mulder recognizes as a Malcolm X quote. They go out to the road to look for the man’s car, but he’s gone. There’s a surveillance camera at the station, so the agents look at the tape. The person Scully was speaking to couldn’t keep up his projection to fool the camera. It was Jackson.

Thoughts: The name Van de Kamp makes me think of Desperate Housewives, which just makes me wish it was on Netflix.

Show, you don’t have to shoehorn Skinner and CSM into an episode when there’s no use for them.

I’m a little surprised that the Van de Kamps told Jackson he was adopted. Wouldn’t it have kept him safer if no one knew?

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