July 13, 2019

The X-Files 11.6, Kitten: The Monsters Are Here

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:21 pm by Jenn

That’s right, kids, it’s a Skinner episode!

Summary: Somewhere near Khe Sanh, Vietnam, in 1969, a nervous Marine named John says a prayer in a helicopter. He and his platoon are told to protect and deliver a crate marked “MK Naomi.” As the helicopter is landing, shots are fired, and the Marines run into the jungle with the crate. One of the other Marines notices how scared John is and promises to have his back if John has his.

They take the crate to a hut, but one of the three men is injured and gets left behind. The helpful Marine goes out to help him, leaving John in the hut with the crate and some scared villagers. Yellow smoke comes out of the crate, and by the time the helpful marine gets back to the hut, he can barely see anything, though he is able to see what looks like John turning into a monster. He becomes human again and approaches the helpful Marine with a knife. The helpful Marine reminds John that John knows him: He’s his buddy Skinner.

In the present, Mulder and Scully go in to see Kersh, who’s on a day pass from Shondaland. He wants to know where Skinner is. He asks if the agents have ever wondered why Skinner hasn’t been put in charge of the FBI after all his years of service. It’s because of his loyalty to Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files. Now, Skinner’s AWOL, and Kersh is sure that the agents know why.

Kersh continues that Skinner hasn’t been himself since Mulder and Scully came back to the FBI. The director is asking questions that Kersh can’t answer, and it looks like Skinner’s been investigating things he shouldn’t. If Mulder and Scully care about Skinner’s future at the FBI, they need to bring him back.

The agents break into Skinner’s apartment, wondering if his recent strange behavior has to do with them. Mulder says he’ll keep a look out for CSM’s cigarette butts. The apartment is sterile and impersonal, reminding Scully that, even after all their time working together, they don’t know much about Skinner. She sees an envelope addressed to him, using his military title. Inside is a human ear. Mulder immediately regrets opening someone else’s mail. The ear comes with a note: “The monsters are here.”

The wrapping around the ear is from a newspaper, the Mud Lick Messenger, so the agents drive to Mud Lick, Kentucky. Scully has asked for some info on Skinner’s platoon, but it’s classified. Mulder thinks they’ll get some answers when they go to the morgue and look at a body there that’s probably missing an ear. The agents pass a homeless veteran on their way to the morgue; he tells them they won’t find a kitten in there.

The body belongs to Dr. Wegweiser, the town’s only physician. He disappeared during a hike and was found snared in a hunting trap. He’s missing some teeth along with his ear, which a local cop finds interesting, as he and his wife have both had teeth fall out recently. (The cop never gets a name, but I’ll call him Jones, the actor’s last name.) There are wood splinters in the wounds Wegweiser sustained from the trap, and Jones confirms that it included a tripwire and bamboo. Mulder recognizes this as a trap used in Vietnam and wonders if Wegweiser was a veteran.

Jones says there’s an institution nearby, Glazebrook, where lots of vets were treated in the ’70s. Some of them stuck around Mud Lick after that. Mulder mentions seeing one outside the morgue. Jones IDs him as a “harmless” vet named Davis. Scully asks for a list of past and current patients from Glazebrook. Jones doesn’t think the institution will be very helpful, but he’ll do what he can. He’s eager to help ease the fears of the people of Mud Lick, who’ve been talking about a monster in the woods.

A hunter currently in the woods may be about to see that monster for himself. As he’s approaching his dog, who’s definitely seen something, he falls into a hole. He’s found there sometime later, dead from a spike he landed on, but Skinner. The next morning, the hunter’s friend alerts the police to the hunter’s death. He was also out in the woods, and the hunter, nicknamed Banjo, was a Vietnam vet. His friend confirms that both of them had been losing teeth.

Scully spots a deer cam, and Jones tells her they can look at the footage back at the station. Banjo’s friend is confused – this is Banjo’s property, and he’s never put up deer cams before. At the station, the agents and Jones look at the footage, which clearly shows Skinner above the hole Banjo fell into. The agents are unable to keep poker faces, and Jones quickly catches on that they know him. He thinks Skinner is the monster everyone’s been talking about.

Scully tells Jones that Skinner is their FBI boss and couldn’t be a killer. Well, he’s capable of it, but if he were killing people, he wouldn’t get caught on tape. Jones asks some reasonable questions about why Skinner didn’t call any authorities when he found a dead body. Mulder doesn’t know, but he’s sure Skinner’s innocent. Jones will decide that for himself once he brings Skinner in for questioning.

As soon as Jones leave to send out an APB for Skinner, Mulder and Scully go back to the footage. It also shows a monster like the one Skinner saw in Vietnam. For once, Mulder doesn’t think it’s an actual monster, just a man in a mask. Still, it must have a connection to Skinner. Scully wonders if Skinner’s experiencing delayed PTSD 50 years after Vietnam. The ear could have triggered it. This makes Mulder do some word association, from trigger to Banjo.

He approaches Davis and asks if the kitten he mentioned before is actually someone’s nickname. Davis says he told Eagle where to find Kitten’s kitten. Mulder jumps from “eagle” to “bald,” guessing that’s Skinner. Meanwhile, Skinner’s at a trailer in the woods, where cats and rabbits are being kept in cages, and a deer carcass is hanging. He lets himself in and finds a picture of John with his wife and child (though the wife’s face has been cut out). He looks through a photo album, smiling at pictures of himself and John from Vietnam.

Flashback! John has become a confident, brutal killer, taking ears from his victims. A platoonmate (that’s what they’re called, right? Don’t email me) notices that John’s mouth is bleeding, thanks to a tooth that’s falling out. It’s the third one he’s lost this week. A young Vietnamese man enters their…camp (again, don’t email me) with grenades hung around his neck. Skinner tells his platoonmates to get down, then shoots the man dead. John is proud, and Skinner can’t help smiling to himself.

In the present, Skinner gets caught in the trailer by someone who looks exactly like John did in the ’60s. He introduces himself as Davey, whom Skinner realizes is John’s son. Davey knows who Skinner is, since John talks about him a lot. Not positively, though, since he calls Skinner “Baby-Killer.” He blames Skinner for how the family’s life has turned out. Skinner testified against John when they got back from Vietnam, and John spent almost 40 years in Glazebrook as a result.

Skinner says that until he got the package from John, he didn’t even know John was still alive. He basically vanished after Vietnam. Skinner blames the government, who also turned John into a killer. Davey says John doesn’t want Skinner’s help. He’s heard John’s stories about monsters in the jungle, and his exposure to experimental weaponized gas. He wasn’t crazy, like Skinner said he was when John was court martialed, but no one believed him, even his wife. Davey, however, does believe his father.

Skinner insists that the gas used John’s fears against him. The exposure changed him. Davey points out that Skinner didn’t mention the gas at the trial. He spent his childhood visiting John at Glazebrook, separated by glass and unable to touch his own father. How could Skinner let that happen to someone he considered a friend? Skinner says he was commanded to keep quiet about the gas. He’s felt guilty ever since, and thinks about John every day. But gas or no gas, John killed innocent people and was dangerous. Now people are getting hurt again, and Skinner really does want to help. Davey agrees to take him to see John.

Scully confirms that Kitten is John’s nickname, but she can’t get any other information from his military files. Mulder wonders if Skinner’s stalled career really is because of them. Scully thinks he made a choice to stay loyal to them. His moral compass has always directed his life. Though he’s been acting strange, they need to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially now that they’re starting to see what he’s sacrificed for them.

Instead of Glazebrook, Davey takes Skinner into the woods, where John’s body is hanging from a tree. Davey says that’s what the government drove him to. As Skinner approaches the body, he falls into a hole like the one Banjo fell into. “Now who sees monsters?” Davey asks. He cuts down the body so it lands on Skinner, then covers the hole.

Mulder and Scully visit Davey sometime later, but he claims not to know who Skinner is. He also says that John’s been gone for weeks. Skinner doesn’t have cell service in the hole, but his phone still works, so he’s able to use the light from it to look around. Mostly, that just lets him see that he’s been impaled by a spike and has no way of escaping.

Davey keeps an eye on the woods in the backyard as he puts on some music for the agents and acts like a model host. Scully asks him questions about John as Mulder snoops around the trailer. Davey says that John was released from Glazebrook just a month ago, after the doctors decided he was no longer a threat to himself. Davey doesn’t think he was ever a threat to anyone. Well, maybe one person.

Mulder sees the photo with John’s wife’s face cut out, and Davey says she died years ago. He won’t talk about how. Scully asks what Davey meant when he said John was a threat to someone. Davey says he had secrets about the government. While at Glazebrook, he was the subject of tests and experiments. The doctors wanted to learn to harness people’s fears to manipulate them into violence. Davey thinks they’re still working on perfecting the MK Naomi gas. They could use it to influence everyone’s minds and actions.

Scully thinks Davey’s describing a dystopian novel. Mulder agrees with Davey that the government has been working on projects like this since the ’50s, such as MK Ultra, and they’re not just going to stop without being successful. Mulder looks through the photo album, seeing pictures of John and Skinner together, and decides he and Scully need to leave. For once, he tells her to drive. Davey waves goodbye while holding a knife behind his back.

Mulder tells Scully that there were a bunch of photos of Skinner and John in the album, so Davey had to have been lying when he said he’d never heard Skinner’s name before. He also saw an SUV on the property, which must have been Skinner’s. He sends Scully off to find a place with cell reception so she can call Jones. Meanwhile, Mulder will go back to the property and try to find Skinner.

He lets himself back into the trailer, where the chorus of a John Cale song is playing on the record player, repeating the line, “Say fear is a man’s best friend.” As the record stops, Mulder finds a monster costume in the closet. After he leaves, Davey, wearing the costume without Mulder realizing he was there, lifts his head. Mulder runs into the woods and hears Skinner yelling for help. He’s somehow managed to get himself off the spike he was impaled on, so Mulder moves to help him out of the hole. That’s when Davey rushes him and pushes him into the hole.

Davey pours gas in the hole and is about to light a match and burn the two agents alive. Skinner raises his gun, ready to once again kill someone to save himself, but Scully returns and beats him to it. Somehow, during the rescue mission, Davey disappears. Mulder and Scully leave Skinner behind and search the woods, where Davey’s waiting for them with another spikey trap. Skinner finds him first, beats him up, releases the trap, and kills Davey.

The agents go back to the trailer, deciding this is the right time to have a conversation about Skinner’s stalled career. Skinner doesn’t care if the other two have held him back – he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, and he doesn’t just mean their rescue from the hole. He enlisted in the Marines on his 18th birthday. He was naïve and thought he was doing the right thing. John was drafted, and it changed his entire life. He was too young to even understand what the war was about.

Skinner always felt like he had to protect John, but he didn’t and couldn’t. The experiences Skinner had in Vietnam dented his blind trust in the government. He’s never been able to fix that. When Mulder and Scully came along, he learned to have the guts to expose what was in the shadows. If it was between advancing his career and working with people pulling puppet strings, or working on the X-Files, he’d choose Mulder and Scully every time.

Skinner will continue his work, but he’ll also try to expose the truth of the MK Naomi experiments. He owes it to himself and John. Mulder promises that he and Scully will be with him all the way. As Skinner leaves the trailer, he pulls out a loose tooth. Meanwhile, a crate leaves Mud Lick and is put on a plane, which flies over fields, dusting crops. Maybe Davey was right about people having their minds and actions manipulated by chemicals.

Thoughts: John and Davey are played by Haley Joel Osment. You’re welcome for not making any “I see dead people” jokes. Cory Rempel, who plays the younger version of Skinner, is Mitch Pileggi’s nephew.

Who names a town Mud Lick?

Imagine being a Marine and getting the nickname Kitten. It might make me homicidal, too.

If John was in Glazebrook for almost 40 years (1979 to 2017, and why didn’t he go in until four years after the war ended?), and Davey was born, say, nine years after he went in (just going off of Haley Joel Osment’s birth year, 1988), when was Davey conceived? They should have just said Davey was really John, and one of the side effects of the gas was a halt to aging.

July 9, 2019

ER 4.8, Freak Show: Reversal of Fortune

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 4:58 pm by Jenn

Cher’s dad got bitten by a snake

Summary: Mark and Carol are back from California and ready to go back to work. He’s feeling refreshed, which Carol is pleased about, because maybe he’ll stop being a jerk at County. Doug is still away, but he sent a note back with Mark for Carol. At the hospital, Carter and Anna work on a patient together, making polite conversation while he tries to figure out if she’s still mad that he never told her his family is super-rich. (The answer is yup!)

Benton and Romano also make awkward small talk about Romano’s reservations about accepting Benton onto his team. Can he play nice with Elizabeth? And more importantly, can he keep up with her? Benton says yes, so Romano suggests a trial run. The waiting area is packed when Carol and Mark get to County. Cynthia tells Carol that people are there for her new free clinic. It’s not supposed to open until next week, but Cynthia put out an announcement with the wrong date. The not-yet-existent clinic will just have to find a way to accommodate them early.

Carol is so busy that she doesn’t have time to open Doug’s note. She was also supposed to work in the ER, but will have to skip her shift to run the clinic. Weaver agrees to sub in a transferring nurse, Yosh Takada, who makes a poor first impression by tripping over a cart. Jeanie’s finishing up her time at County in the wake of her firing, though Doyle thinks she should try to fight the termination. Jeanie says she’ll just move to Atlanta with Al. Doyle thinks she was fired because of her HIV status, though Jeanie accepts the explanation that it was for budget purposes.

Mark meets up with Cynthia, who he didn’t talk to the whole time he was in California. He gives her the necklace he got at the pawn shop, which she loves. He compliments her coffee after Connie and Lydia say it’s awful. A 12-year-old boy named Rodney who was hit by a car is brought in with internal injuries. Benton and Weaver study his X-rays, which Benton thinks were mislabeled, since they’re backwards. He quickly realizes that, in fact, Rodney’s internal organs are reversed.

Yosh is coming to the clinic from chart review, so he doesn’t work with patients much. Carol tells him to get patients started and check their vitals, then send them to triage if they seem to need emergency care. She laments that she didn’t have an extra week to get more organized. Mark is busy with Doug out of town, but he agrees to help out however he can. Cynthia gives him some papers sent by a lawyer, but Mark wants to put ignore them for as long as possible.

Elizabeth has looked up Rodney’s condition and hasn’t found any published cases, which means Benton could be the first to write about it. Romano invites her to join them as they operate. Benton pretends he’s not territorial. Carter wants a truce with Anna, though she’s trying to play things off like his lies aren’t a big deal. Henry comes by to thank Carter for giving him time to work on his research when he was supposed to be in the ER. But since Carter wasn’t able to evaluate his work, Henry has to repeat his clerkship. Carter and Henry ride again!

Weaver tells Jeanie that she’s given her a recommendation at a hospital in Atlanta. Jeanie is understandably cold to her. A man brings in a bunch of people from a shelter to be seen in the clinic, thanks to encouragement from Cynthia. Carol snaps at her, so Mark pulls her aside and tells her to keep her criticisms out of earshot of the rest of the staff. Carol, of course, doesn’t appreciate getting her own dressing down.

A nurse snaps pictures as Benton, Romano, and Elizabeth operate on Rodney. Benton jokes about putting a mirror on the ceiling to reverse the organs to their proper locations. Romano, of course, cracks a joke about having one in his bedroom. He hopes they can find Rodney’s family soon, since he wants permission to collect some blood and samples. Benton and Elizabeth agree to work on publishing the case together.

Carter uses a mnemonic device to teach Henry the bones of the wrist. Anna has a different mnemonic because she learned different terms for the bones. Both are sex-related. Guys, just take your clothes off already and save the rest of us from having to watch this. Cynthia finds Doug’s note and thinks it’s for her, since it’s only labeled with her initials, “C.H.”

A man named Herb Spivak comes in with a snake bite sustained while feeding a python at a reptile farm. Ellis West lures Weaver out to the parking garage to tell her that Synergix has approved extra attending coverage. He wants to thank her for her cooperation with flowers. Rodney’s surgery is successful, and his father, Isaac, has arrived at the hospital. He recognizes Benton as a high school classmate. Benton promises that they’ll do what they can to help Rodney make a full recovery.

Carol discovers that Doug’s note is missing, and no, she doesn’t want Cynthia’s help finding it, thank you. Mark treats Herb, whose snake bite isn’t venomous, though he’ll have to have the python’s teeth removed from his chest. The reptile guy, a knockoff Steve Irwin, has brought the python, Flora, with him in case she needs to be swabbed for bacteria. Malik will opt out of that task.

Anspaugh brings some students to Rodney’s bed to use him as a teaching case. He’s eager to eventually see photos from the surgery. He’s also pleased with Benton’s work. Romano hopes that Benton’s past with Isaac will be an advantage when they ask Isaac to let them do tests on Rodney to learn more about his condition. Elizabeth offers to talk to Isaac instead, since Benton might be uncomfortable talking to someone he has a personal connection with. Benton insists that they don’t have a connection, but his worry is that Isaac will think they’re using Rodney for personal gain.

Jeanie meets Yosh and is upset to learn that he was transferred to the ER during what was supposedly a hiring freeze. Herb tells Mark about other injuries he’s sustained, like during a scuba diving mishap. He’s a lawyer defending Knockoff Steve Irwin, AKA Gary, in a wrongful-death suit (someone claims Flora ate their dog). In exchange for Herb’s legal counsel, he gets to hang out with snakes.

Al didn’t get the job he was interviewing for in Atlanta, but Jeanie is sure he’ll find something else. Carol chats with her about how much work is going into running the clinic – she doesn’t even have a doctor available to write prescriptions. Jeanie points out that, as a PA, she can do that. And it’s not like she can get in trouble for working in the clinic instead of the ER. After all, she’s already been fired.

Cynthia has read Doug ‘s note and thinks Mark wrote it for her. He plays along, and she says her answer is yes, she will. Benton tells Isaac that Rodney’s blood may not be clotting properly, so he could require a transfusion. Isaac isn’t aware of Rodney’s reversed organs, which are one of the reasons he’s in critical condition. If his organs were in the right places, his liver wouldn’t have been injured. Benton gently asks if they can draw some of Isaac and his ex-wife’s blood to do some genetic tests. Isaac easily agrees, willing to do anything to help his son.

Carter oversees Henry’s examination of a patient, something Carter could have done on his own in one-fifth the time. Jeanie proves extremely helpful at the clinic, and she tells Carol she wishes she had her guts to fight for something she wants. Carol encourages her to look for ammo she can use. While Benton’s drawing blood for testing, Rodney has complications relating to his inability to clot. Isaac panics helplessly while Benton and Elizabeth work on the boy.

Connie tells Mark that Cynthia really, really likes him. Mark says they’re just having fun, but since the necklace he gave her contains a diamond, Connie says it’s “serious fun.” He tries to dig in Cynthia’s purse to read Doug’s note, but Weaver catches him. Mark questions some parts of the budget (like the part where Weaver’s making more money than he is), though he approved them months ago.

Henry’s looking sick as Carter finally calls time of death on his never-ending patient history. He thinks it’s from allergies, but Carter has no sympathy. Anna comes in immediately afterward to tend to the patient she thinks is hers. Carol gives a little boy named Hector a shot, then examines his chin, since his mom says he keeps complaining about it. When she touches it, Hector says he doesn’t feel anything. After a lot of blood loss and 20 minutes without a pulse, Benton and Elizabeth are still working on Rodney. Elizabeth finally decides that they need to let him go.

Jeanie asks Weaver if she can look at the ER budget. Weaver says her termination isn’t personal, but Jeanie wants to look at the facts and make sure they support Weaver’s claims. After all, there was supposedly a hiring freeze, but Yosh has been hired. Weaver says he’s replacing two nurses who left. Jeanie questions Weaver’s recent raise, but Weaver won’t address that with her.

Carol asks Carter if he’s ever had a patient with a numb chin. Anna finds them with her patient; Henry didn’t sign him out on the board, so she didn’t know that Henry had already done his history and physical. “Actually, I’m quite fond of all of you,” the patient says. Carter thinks he needs surgery, but Anna wants to treat him medically first. Carter agrees, making Anna think he’s giving in to appease her. He lies that he was already considering alternatives to surgery.

Weaver slams Mark for telling Jeanie their salaries, which he denies doing. The patients in the waiting area have disappeared, thanks to some quick thinking by Carol, who gave them Doyle’s unused meal tickets and sent them to the cafeteria. She’s looking up Hector’s numb chin in the hospital’s medical database, but the medical terminology isn’t giving her anything. Mark tells her to just look up “numb chin.” Success!

Benton asks Isaac if they can autopsy Rodney’s body. Isaac doesn’t get why it’s necessary, since his cause of death is apparent. Benton says it would be important for research into his condition. Isaac thinks Benton’s shown so much interest in Rodney not because of his injuries but because of his condition. Now Isaac doesn’t want him to be studied. He’s already been through enough. Benton realizes that Isaac is right and leaves him alone with Rodney’s body.

Henry, still not feeling well, struggles to help Carter with a trauma patient. Carter thinks it’s from seeing blood, but when he passes out and Lydia checks on him, she realizes it’s more serious. She pulls Mark, Anna, and Malik into the trauma room to help both Henry and Carter’s patient. Carter still thinks Henry was just lightheaded; he complained all day about feeling sick, but he’s a hypochondriac. Soon, he realizes that Henry has had a bad reaction to his latex gloves. It’s bad enough to cause respiratory arrest, though Anna and Carter are able to help him. Herb, also in the room, assures Mark that everything’s under control.

Benton tells Romano that he’s rethinking his decision to join Romano’s team. He didn’t press Isaac about letting them study Rodney, and he doesn’t feel comfortable bringing it up again. Romano thinks they have a responsibility to study that “freak of nature” because that’s how medical breakthroughs are made. Benton argues that Rodney was a little boy, and Isaac has made his wishes known. Romano warns him against sentimentality and orders him to get Isaac’s consent. Benton tells him to get someone else to do it.

Carol tells Weaver that her research about Hector has led to a diagnosis of leukemia. Carol asks Weaver to talk to Hector’s mother, who might feel more comfortable talking with a doctor about his diagnosis, but Weaver thinks Carol should do it, since the mom already knows her.

Herb is now in the doctors’ lounge, hanging out with Mark’s lawyer, Alan, whom he knows from some committee. Alan thinks Herb is now representing Mark, and he’s thrilled about that. He reveals that Mark came close to losing his job over the Kenny Law case. After Alan leaves, Herb tells Mark that Alan is a horrible lawyer and just jumped to the conclusion that Herb was defending Mark. He’d be happy to take the case, though. Mark can’t afford him, but Herb is willing to make a trade. He’ll make the civil suit go away for free if Mark lets him shadow him in the ER.

Thanks to Elizabeth, Isaac has agreed to let the doctors do a case study on Hector. And despite Benton’s refusal to obey his commands, Romano still wants Benton on his team. Elizabeth thinks Romano likes him because of his backbone. Henry’s recovering from anaphylactic shock and kind of remembers Carter and Anna helping him. He also saw a bright light and had an out-of-body experience. Henry praises how well Carter and Anna worked together to save him. They’re his angels.

Carol finally gets Doug’s note back and confides to Elizabeth that it’s a love letter. Elizabeth wishes she hadn’t broken up with her boyfriend back home, which leaves her without someone to write a love letter to. She invites Carol to get a drink with her. Weaver joins a meeting between Jeanie and Anspaugh, whom Jeanie approached to discuss the budget. She thinks her termination and Weaver’s subsequent raise point to something other than just budget cuts. Was she fired because of her HIV status? Anspaugh asks for some time to go over the figures again.

Weaver asks Jeanie if she’s really going to use her health like this. Weaver fought to keep Jeanie on staff at County, then worked to get her a job in Atlanta. She’s never discriminated against Jeanie because of her status. Jeanie throws Weaver’s “it’s nothing personal” claim back in her face. Mark and Cynthia get drunk in his bed and he gives her some lingerie. She quotes part of Doug’s note, which, of course, Mark doesn’t recognize, though he’s still going to pretend he does. Whatever she agreed to from the note, she wants him to do it first. And fortunately, we don’t have to find out what that was.

Thoughts: Herb is played by Dan Hedaya. Isaac is played by Harold Perrineau.

For some reason, I’ve remembered the “numb chin” thing for years.

The only problem with Henry’s plot is that he’s not wearing gloves when he first starts feeling sick. Shouldn’t that make him feel better? Also…he’s never come into contact with latex before? Ever?

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?

July 2, 2019

ER 4.7, Fathers and Sons: Each Unhappy Family Is Unhappy in Its Own Way

Posted in TV tagged , at 5:08 pm by Jenn

Thanks for showing up for two scenes, Julianna

Summary: Doug and Mark are driving somewhere in California, and Mark is demonstrating that he’s not a good companion for a road trip. They’re basically in the middle of nowhere, at the place where Doug’s father died. Doug is ready to meet with the authorities and get everything squared away so they can go home. They meet with someone from Highway Patrol and learn that Ray had a woman in the car when he crashed. He was also extremely drunk, and he killed another driver.

They go to the scene of the crash, where someone has set up a roadside cross as a memorial for the other driver. Doug says that his father never planned to hurt anyone, but then again, he never planned to do anything. If Doug had killed his father himself, he would have saved others a lot of trouble. Next the guys go to the motel room where Ray was staying with a woman the manager thinks was his wife. She says they were a nice couple. Doug doubts they were married, though.

Mark finds some photos of Doug and his mom, which makes him think Ray still cared about them. He also finds a box containing pawn tickets and some home movies. Doug laments that everything in the room is his inheritance. The manager tells them that Ray’s car is still parked at the motel; he must have been driving his girlfriend’s car at the time of the crash. To Doug’s surprise, Ray’s is a convertible he’s had since the ’70s. He gets behind the wheel and turns on some jazz.

The guys swap out their rental car for the convertible, which Doug tells Mark he learned to drive in. Ray would show up after months away and take Doug on long road trips. He’d wake Doug up in the middle of the night and let him drive on empty roads. Doug admits that his father had some good moments. Then the car breaks down, which is a fitting metaphor for Doug and Ray’s relationship. The guys check the trunk for a gas can and find a ton of baby stuff.

The guys spend the night in the car and get some help from a passing driver in the morning. They go to a rundown neighborhood to try to find the family of Pedro Lopez, the man Ray killed in the crash. A kid tells them everyone’s at Lopez’s funeral. The guys go to the church where the funeral is taking place and sit in the back. Lopez’s young son sees them and innocently waves to Doug. Afterward, Mark tries to remind Doug that the accident wasn’t his fault. The priest comes to chat with them, and Doug blurts that his father killed Lopez. The priest thinks that coming to the funeral shows that he loved his father.

The guys take Ray’s pawn tickets to the shop they came from to find out what he pawned. Mark talks about how he’s always wanted a pocketwatch to hand down to a child. Instead, he buys a necklace for Cynthia. The shop owner gives them the things Ray pawned – a video projector, a Rolex, and a ring Ray made his girlfriend pawned. Or maybe she was his wife after all, because the shop owner says she and Ray kept their wedding rings.

Doug calls Carol from the motel to tell her he wishes she were with him. Mark overhears the end of the conversation, and Doug tells him he called someone he’s been seeing for a few months. He won’t tell Mark who it is. Mark asks if it’s Jen, then Cynthia, then Chuny, then Anna. Finally, Doug tells him it’s Carol. Mark is stunned but happy for the couple. He asks if Carol makes Doug take a lie-detector test every week. Doug gets revenge by spraying him with beer.

Mark sets up the movie projector while Doug looks through Ray and his girlfriend’s things, trying to find out more about their movements. There are a bunch of pictures of her holding a baby, which means Doug could have a little brother or sister out there somewhere. He tells Mark that Ray had so much power over him – he would tell himself not to get excited over his father’s visits, but when Ray showed up, Doug would be happy. He could pretend that he had a normal family. Ray had so much control, he even ended their relationship without Doug’s consent.

Mark confides that he doesn’t have a good relationship with his father, either. His father put in 30 years in the Navy and was never promoted or given the recognition he deserved. They start up the projector and watch home movies from Doug’s childhood. Doug gets one last look at what started out as a normal childhood.

The next day, the guys visit Lopez’s grave, where Doug announces that he loves Carol. He’s never felt like this about anyone. They complain about the heat in California, even though it’s November, and Mark mentions that he lived there for a while as a kid. His parents are in San Diego, just four hours away. Doug decides that they’ll skip their meeting with a guy from the funeral home and go see Mark’s parents.

Mark’s mother, Ruth, is thrilled to see him. Doug listens to Mark’s advice about admiring Ruth’s Hummels, but ignores his warning not to drink her iced tea. She invites the guys to spend the night. Mark notices an oxygen tank in the living room, which Ruth says belongs to Mark’s father, David. She tries to downplay his condition, but Mark guesses that he has emphysema.

Doug quickly decides to bail and run some errands so Mark can be alone with his parents. Mark goes to the garage to see his father, who’s doing some woodworking. He’s neither overly surprised nor excited to see his only child. Their stilted conversation soon turns to a small argument when Mark chastises David for smoking (even though Mark has recently taken it up himself). David doesn’t want his advice, or really, any conversation whatsoever.

Mark sneaks a peek in the bathroom medicine cabinet, finding stacks of unopened nicotine gum. He talks to Ruth about David’s failure to take good care of himself, revealing that he saw David’s blood-pressure medication. Ruth says it’s hers, and she has her blood pressure checked regularly at the base commissary. Mark nags her about her and David’s health until she tells him to stop.

Doug isn’t back in time for dinner, so the Greenes have an awkward meal together. David smokes and coughs through it. Mark suggests that they get ice cream together, but David wants to keep his weekly club night with his friends. Ruth tries to make him change the night, then tells Mark to go to the club with him. Doug doesn’t realize that he’s missing an extremely uncomfortable family dinner. After his parents leave the room, Mark takes a drag off his father’s cigarette, because he’s a hypocrite.

David falls asleep in front of the TV, using his oxygen tank. Ruth finds Mark smoking outside, and he lies that he’s quitting soon. She reminds him that he used to flush her cigarettes down the toilet when he was a kid. Mark mentions that David’s going to miss his club meeting, but Ruth admits that he only makes it to them half the time. When he does go, he doesn’t stay long, since most of his friends don’t go. But they still like their life near the base.

Ruth tells Mark that David really does miss having him close by, no matter how he acts. Mark doesn’t believe that, noting that David has never shown his love. Why should Mark have to work harder on their relationship when David doesn’t? Ruth tells him he always assumes he knows more about people than he actually does.

Doug finally returns, having confirmed that the baby wasn’t Ray’s. Mark tells him what he missed and turns down Doug’s suggestion that he stay a little longer while Doug finishes up the stuff with his father. Mark says that Doug didn’t miss much by not having his father around as a kid. Doug doesn’t get how Mark can’t see how good he has it. David was always around, and he’s still with Ruth. Whether or not it’s what Mark would have wanted, it was love. Compared to Doug’s life, Mark grew up in a ’50s sitcom.

Doug’s next stop is Flagstaff, to talk to Ray’s wife’s family. He gives Mark a note to give to Carol when he gets back to Chicago. Doug apologizes for their fight, but Mark says he was right. He’s tired of pitying himself and acting like a victim. He’s spent his whole life fearing that something would spin out of control. Becoming a doctor helped him get some power over the chaos. When he was attacked, the chaos won out. Now Mark doesn’t know who he is: “The person I was died in that bathroom, and I don’t know what’s going to take his place.”

When the guys return to their motel in the morning, they’re surprised to see Carol there. The three of them go out to the desert and find a spot to spread Ray’s ashes. Doug doesn’t know what to say to mark the occasion, so he just says he both hated and loved his father. The three of them drink a toast to Ray and enjoy the view together.

Thoughts: This show is so much easier to recap without all the medical stuff. I mean…imagine that.

How YOU doin’, black-T-shirted George Clooney?

Isn’t it a little in poor taste to use alcohol for a toast to a guy who died (and killed two others) driving drunk?

June 29, 2019

The X-Files 11.4, The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat: The Mandela/Mengele Effect

Posted in TV tagged at 1:41 pm by Jenn

But was he a believer or a skeptic?

Summary: A man in a diner is distressed because Martians have invaded Earth and no one else seems to care. Everything’s in black and white. A waiter serves him coffee and asks for more information. The man says the Martians use a ray that makes people forget. He spots one through the window, but the waiter tells him he’s really looking in a mirror. The man is a Martian, and the waiter isn’t human, either.

Someone fuzzy bursts into Mulder’s house, where the phone is ringing. No, wait – it’s just Mulder in a suit made of grass and moss. Scully’s calling (“Mulder, it’s me”), and she’s been trying to reach him all day. He tells her he was out hunting for Bigfoot. He didn’t have any luck, but that wasn’t the point. He just wanted a break from watching the news and worrying about the country.

Scully confirms that they’re having dinner the next night, and Mulder takes advantage of the conversation to start telling a story he’s told many times about finding a Bigfoot print 35 years ago. He still has an impression of the print. Scully hangs up on him, not wanting to hear the story again.

Sometime later, Mulder goes to a parking garage and meets up with a man named Reggie (he doesn’t get a name yet, but I’m not typing “the man” over and over), who greets him with “Mulder, it’s me.” He thought they were done working together, but he’s stumbled upon a huge conspiracy. Mulder doesn’t know who Reggie is, but Reggie says it’s because “they” made him forget. In the process, Mulder’s also forgotten some things about aliens.

Hearing sirens, Mulder says Reggie’s ride must be here and starts to leave. Reggie reminds him of the first Twilight Zone episode he ever saw, “The Lost Martian.” That episode doesn’t really exist. They hear someone approaching, and as Mulder turns to see who it is, joking that it would be funny if it were Rod Serling, Reggie disappears.

Mulder goes home and searches through boxes of videotapes, trying to find “The Lost Martian.” He tells Scully that he thought Reggie must be crazy for thinking it doesn’t exist…but now Mulder can’t find any record of it ever existing. Scully thinks he just confused The Twilight Zone with a similar show, like The Outer Limits. Mulder finds that possibility ridiculous: “Do you even know me?!”

Scully says it can’t be that good of an episode, and can’t they just go get some food? Mulder says the episode isn’t the point, it’s about his memories of watching the show as a kid. In a truly bizarre scene, we see a young Mulder – with adult Mulder’s head – watching “The Lost Martian,” and loving the twist where the man and waiter in the diner are both non-humans. Once again, Scully ditches in the middle of the conversation.

She runs into Reggie in the parking garage, who knows she just saw Mulder. She guesses that he’s Reggie (who calls her “Sculls”), since Mulder gave a good description of him and his forehead sweat. Reggie asks her to help him find someone: Him. “They’re” trying to erase him. He gives Scully a box of gelatin mix and tells her his fingerprints are on the box. He yells that she needs to prove that he’s real. He runs as two men approach, dressed like the man who interrupted him and Mulder.

Scully takes the box to Mulder at their office, and they discuss the gelatin, which forms three different layers when it cools. Mulder wonders how that’s never been an X-File. The gelatin is a treasured memory from Scully’s childhood (just the cherry, though; the lemon-lime “tasted like leprechaun taint”), but she’s never been able to find it. It’s called Goop-O A-B-C, and everyone thinks she means Jell-O 1-2-3.

Mulder tells her it’s the Mandela Effect, the phenomenon where someone has a memory of something that didn’t happen. For example, people think Shaq did a movie called Shazaam, but they’re probably thinking of Kazaam. Scully doesn’t remember either movie. “You win!” Mulder exclaims. She thinks his false memory of The Twilight Zone fits here, too, but Mulder insists that that episode really exists.

Scully asks about Reggie, whose fingerprints from the box didn’t turn up anything. Mulder says he plans to meet with Reggie again; he’s already put an X on his window to summon him. Scully doesn’t want to intrude on their private meeting, but Mulder thinks Reggie wants her involved. He says he’ll be like a date. Yeah, a date with a sweaty fifth wheel.

The agents wait in the FBI headquarters parking garage until Reggie comes out of the shadows again. He introduces himself, saying he thinks his name is Reggie, but he doesn’t know his last name. He was unpacking some of his childhood things that his mother kept, and he had a Mandela Effect moment: Dr. Wussle, who wrote some of his beloved childhood books, now spelled his name Wuzzle. Reggie didn’t handle it well.

Mulder explains the Mandela Effect, which Reggie says is actually the Mengele Effect. When Mulder protests, Reggie says he’s “having a Mengele Effect about the Mandela Effect.” Anyway, Reggie’s search for answers took him to a store that sells old Americana. He found a cartoon Dr. Wussle/Wuzzle drew in 1940, and it spells his name Wuzzle. The store owner says Reggie’s suffering from the Mengele Effect.

Over the past couple of years, numerous customers have had the same experience, recalling things differently than they appear to be. The owner thinks the government knows about it, too. Can we really believe that Goop-O A-B-C wasn’t full of carcinogens back when it was being sold in the ’70s? Well, that explains some things about Scully.

Reggie tells the agents that someone is intentionally orchestrating the Mengele Effect. Like George Orwell said, “he who controls the past controls the future.” Companies will pay or do anything to make people forget about, say, their products blowing up. Reggie just can’t figure out how they’re doing it. Scully protests that it’s not possible; people are just remembering things wrong.

Mulder thinks this is about parallel universes. Somehow, ours is becoming intertwined with another, and people are remembering things from another dimension. “That’s science, Scully,” Mulder says. She and Reggie won’t go down that road, though Mulder doesn’t think it’s any crazier than Reggie’s theory. Scully reminds them of Occam’s Razor, which Reggie says is actually called Ozzie’s Razor.

Reggie says that since he’s the only one with proof of the plot, he thinks the people in charge of the conspiracy are now targeting him. He looked through his high school yearbook and can’t find any evidence that he attended that school. Scully says he’s probably just misremembering high school, like everyone does. But Reggie knows something bigger is going on, because the memorabilia shop owner is dead.

Reggie went back to the store looking for a candy shaped like watermelon slices that tasted like coconut. He found the store owner dead, having been impaled by a lawn dart. Scully doesn’t know what that is. She figures the store owner accidentally killed himself while playing with a dangerous toy. Like Mulder, she hears sirens and tells Reggie his ride is there. Reggie thinks that, even if he’s a conspiracy nut, he has to be right about some conspiracies. Mulder tells him he needs to explain who “they” are. Without details, the agents can’t help.

Reggie gives them a picture of a man in fancy clothes, which takes us to a little movie about him. His name is Thaddeus They, and while developing one-way space flights for NASA and something called a soy bomb, he devised a technique to alter memories. He wanted to help astronauts complete their missions without being burdened by memories of life back on Earth. But They was fired for also making them think they were chimps.

They went to Grenada and worked more on his memory-altering methods, which is how we got stuff like Holocaust denial and people forgetting that They starred in a movie called Ka-Blaam. They hasn’t been seen or heard of for years, though there are rumors that he was at the 2016 inauguration, among the millions of attendees. (Cough.) He clung to the top of the Washington Monument, wearing a MAGA hat.

The agents think the video is ridiculous. Reggie tells them he confirmed They’s time in Grenada. He laughs when Mulder outlines the reasons the U.S. invaded Grenada in the ’80s, claiming no one remembers the real reasons. Not even him, and he was there. When he was 18, he wrote some things there, to be read when he turned 50. But it’s all redacted, possibly by Reggie himself, as a joke. The important part is that there’s a UFO stamp on the letter. Mulder explains that the prime minister claimed they found a dead alien in the ocean.

Reggie says that he was at the hospital when the not-actually-dead alien was brought in. So was They. He said the alien had been sent to Earth to warn people about holes in the ozone layer. In 35 years, another alien would come to see if humans had avoided environmental catastrophe. (Spoiler: We hadn’t.) Reggie got a good look at the alien, which appeared to speak to They telepathically. But then a bunch of Men in Black showed up and took the alien away.

Reggie isn’t sure if he repressed the memory or if They erased it, but seeing the stamp brought everything back. This is too much for Scully, so she leaves. Mulder tells Reggie that his theory is possible, but not likely, so he’s out, too. Reggie continues his story anyway. He still remembers the alien’s telepathic yelling. In an attempt to find out what happened to the alien, Reggie dropped out of med school and joined the FBI…where he started the X-Files.

This finally makes the agents stop and listen. Reggie insists that he and Mulder used to be partners. Video “evidence” shows an alternate opening for the show, with an a capella theme song. It stars Fox Mulder, Dana Scully. and Reggie Something. Everything’s the same, except Reggie is now in the credit scenes with the other two agents. He’s the person who got the “I want to believe” poster, which is what he called to tell Mulder about in “The Unusual Suspects.”

More alternate scenes: Reggie was in the office when Scully first met Mulder, though Reggie called Scully “sugar boobs” and told her women weren’t allowed in the X-Files. He was there when the agents first encountered Tooms (“That guy is soooooo creepy!” Reggie sing-songed) and when Clyde Bruckman talked to Mulder about possible ramifications for seeing the future. Reggie was confused because Bruckman mentioned the U.S. invading Grenada.

Reggie was also there when the agents were trying to figure out what was going on in “Teso Dos Bichos.” “Guys, if this turns out to be killer cats, I’m going to be very disappointed,” Reggie said, speaking for the whole audience. In addition, he helped them find Mrs. Peacock in “Home,” and was the one who interrupted Scully and the fake Mulder in “Small Potatoes” (then shot the fake Mulder). The agents don’t remember any of that, or their last case with Reggie. That means They has targeted them, knowing they’re the only people who can stop him.

Scully insists that there is no They. Reggie says the men who keep approaching them are his henchmen. There are more of them now, in the same gray suits as the others, but there are also two men in black suits approaching. The men in gray chase Reggie into the building while Mulder and Scully stop the men in black. They’re FBI agents, and they mock Mulder for not figuring out who Reggie is. Mulder doesn’t like being disrespected and yells his name a few times.

In the office, he puts together a board trying to figure out the conspiracy, throwing a bone to the Internet by connecting Ted Cruz’s father to JFK’s assassination. He’s not sure if Bob Dylan’s Grammy performance was really interrupted by a guy with “soy bomb” written on his chest, since there’s no video evidence. Everything Mulder comes up with just leads him back to parallel universes. He tells Scully he’s lost the plot. Scully thinks he’s just burned out on conspiracies, “especially after all this birther stuff.”

Mulder gets a call from They and meets up with him in a sculpture garden. They wants to shame Mulder for taking so long to find out about his conspiracy. He hasn’t even been hiding; he’s in the phone book. They made the video Reggie showed the agents, in an attempt to make “phone fake news.” It’s the idea of presenting the truth in a way that ensures no one will believe it. They wanted to meet with Mulder out of “professional courtesy” and tell him his time has passed.

Once upon a time, people in power thought they could keep their secrets secret. Now, nothing can be covered up. He figures kids will shorten the name for this time from “post-conspiracy” to “po-co.” Mulder doesn’t care, as long as the truth gets out. They says the public doesn’t know what the truth means anymore. He can change people’s collective memories, which means he can control the past, which also means he can control the future. He credits that to Orson Welles, but Mulder says George Orwell said that. “For now, maybe,” They says.

His point is that he can tell Mulder the whole truth, but it doesn’t matter because no one will believe it. They just believe what they want. He doesn’t even really need to control people’s minds; he just needs people to think it’s possible. From there, people are less trusting. They leaves Mulder behind with the sculptures, which are laughing and shrugging.

Reggie ambushes Mulder in the parking garage again, calling him “Foxy.” Scully joins them, announcing that she used Reggie’s yearbook to find his high school transcripts and get his real name, Reginald Murgatroid. He’s not in the yearbook because he was only at that school for a few weeks. He got his GED and enlisted in the Army, which took him to Grenada. He was hit in the head with a shovel, was discharged, and went to work for multiple government agencies, like the Post Office and the IRS. Part of his job at the DOJ was giving people new identities through Witness Protection.

After 9/11, Reggie joined the CIA and engaged in activities like waterboarding someone right in his cubicle. Then he got to use drone bombs with the DOD. While working for the NSA, he eavesdropped on people’s conversations, including Mulder and Scully’s. Then, about a year ago, Reggie had a nervous breakdown and was sent to a psych facility.

Mulder thinks he just felt tormented because he wanted to serve his country, but instead had to betray his ideals. He used information from illegal wiretaps and developed a fantasy where he worked with the agents. Reggie tries to argue that he’s from a parallel universe, but he can’t make it work. Sirens approach, coming from a station wagon sent from the psych facility, and Reggie says his ride is there. Men in gray suits politely put him in a straight jacket, and he wishes the agents good luck with the rest of their cases.

Mulder asks what happened during the agents’ last case together. Reggie says they found the truth that’s out there. In flashback, the agents go out somewhere to meet the alien that was supposed to come 35 years after the one found in Grenada. “Scully drove,” Reggie says. They find the remains of the Voyager, then spot a UFO nearby. An alien comes down to meet them (it takes a while; his moving walkway is slow, and then he has to get on a Segway).

The alien tells the agents that he’s a representative of an intergalactic union of sentient beings, made up of beings from all known universes. After years of studying Earth, the aliens no longer want any contact with humans. They’re building a wall. Anything sent beyond it will be destroyed. Humans are just not sending their best people – they’re bring drugs and rapists, though some may be good people. (Cough cough.) But the real dealbreaker is that humans lie.

So there are no hard feelings, the alien does have a gift for the agents: a book containing answers to all humans’ questions about…well, anything. Helpfully, it’s labeled “all the answers.” The alien wishes the agents “good luck and good riddance.” He gets back on his UFO, singing his own theme music. Mulder has finally gotten the answer to his big question: We’re not alone in the universe. However, the other beings out there don’t like us.

Scully says there will always be more X-Files, but since the book has answers to everything, there’s nothing left to investigate. He’s not happy about what the book says about Sasquatch. While Mulder has a tantrum on the ground, Reggie says this is the end of the X-Files. But maybe the point was finding each other, rather than the truth. No one can take away their memories, or alter them in a way that makes them think they never happened. Scully starts to possibly declare her love for Reggie, but he stops her and says he knows. The three have a group hug.

In the present, Reggie says they lived happily ever after, then is loaded into the ambulance to go to the psych hospital. He laughs off Mulder’s promise to come visit. As Reggie is carted off, Skinner comes into the parking garage, sees the ambulance leaving, and asks, “Where the hell are they taking Reggie?”

Back at Mulder’s house, Mulder has found “The Lost Martian,” which was actually an episode of a Twilight Zone knock-off called The Dusky Realm. The tape gets messed up, so Mulder is the last person who will ever see that episode. Scully has mixed up some Goop-O A-B-C, using the Bigfoot impression as a mold. She starts to take a bite, then puts down her spoon. “I want to remember how it was,” she says. “I want to remember how it all was.”

Thoughts: I adore Brian Huskey (Reggie). He’s Regular-Sized Rudy!

I love that, even in the flashbacks, where Mulder and Scully are super-young, Reggie always looks the same.

The sculpture garden is really in Canada, but I guess we’re not supposed to know that. Or maybe in this universe, it’s in D.C.

June 25, 2019

ER 4.6, Ground Zero: Guess Who’s Secretly Rich!

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn


Summary: Despite still not having a job and just getting in a huge fight with his friend, Al’s in a good mood: He has a lead on a job in Atlanta. He thinks Jeanie would be willing to move there with him. Jeanie’s more realistic about their ability to just start their lives over. Al knows he has no options in Chicago, but in Atlanta, they could keep their HIV statuses quiet.

Carol’s finishing up her grant proposal in preparation for meeting with Carter’s grandmother that night. Mark comes in to work happy – the Kenny Law case has been settled, and he has just one more day of work before a short vacation. He and Carol discuss how many patients the ER sees in year, though she’s not sure they should include the turkeys who aren’t really in need of medical care. He suggests a bet about the ratio of turkeys to real patients over the next 12 hours. A real patient comes in right then, and Mark says Carol’s already winning.

Carter goes by Anna’s apartment, which is probably the smallest living space he’s ever been in. He spots a roach, which she squishes with her shoe. Carter encourages her to report her landlord to the Health Department. Anna comments that Carter seems so middle-class that she wouldn’t have expected him to know how to deal with slumlords. He says his family always had enough to get by and put food on the table. So he’s not lying lying to her about his family’s wealth, he’s just understating it.

Mark and Carol’s patient, Prole, explains that he injured his knee during a performance-art piece. He was doing a twist on William Tell, putting the apple between his legs instead of on his head. Doug notes that he’s lucky the person who shot him (with a bullet, not an arrow) didn’t aim higher. His assistant/photographer/toadie thinks the blood he left on the wall will make a great statement. Prole decides to turn himself into a piece of art and experience everything in his course of treatment without morphine. Mark thinks this makes him a turkey instead of a normal patient.

Benton arrives for an operation that was pushed up without his knowledge. Elizabeth tells him she thought she was doing him a favor by taking something off his plate. She offers to let him do one of her operations instead. Cynthia gives Jeanie a message from Al reminding her of the nice things they’ll get to experience in Atlanta. Anspaugh tells Weaver that an ER management group called Synergix is coming to help them with money issues. She complains to Mark that she’s expected to cut another $98,000 from the already bare-bones budget.

In the process of checking over an unconscious man injured at the gym, Jeanie sees that he has a KKK tattoo. A teen named Danny is brought in from juvenile detention after having a seizure in his cell. Doug pulls Carol out of the room and tells her he thinks Danny’s faking to get some time out of jail. Carol wonders if Doug isn’t just letting all Mark’s talk about turkeys get to him.

Jeanie tries to pass her patient off to Carter, but Mark intervenes and tells her to keep the guy, tattoo or no tattoo. If there’s a problem, Jeanie can call security, because we all know their history of prompt, appropriate responses to emergency. Danny keeps having seizures (allegedly), so Doug asks Carol to prepare an “H20 NA” treatment. Carol says it’s experimental and asks the guard who accompanied Danny if she knows his next of in. Doug says that Danny’s best chance is to stop seizing on his own. He immediately does, thanks to the “experimental” treatment of salt water.

Anna informs a patient named Vinnie that he has gonorrhea. Again. He’s in the “entertainment industry” and often gets tested for other STDs. Anna would rather be anywhere but there. Hey, maybe Jeanie will trade patients with her. Carol mentions to Carter that she’s meeting with his grandmother that night, which Carter forgot about. He cautions her not to mention politics, religion, or baseball.

Mark starts treating a man’s wrist injury, but it’s just a ruse for someone to serve him with papers. Mark thinks it’s for the Kenny Law case, which was settled, but it’s a new suit: Chris is bringing a civil suit against Mark, alleging that he violated Kenny’s civil rights. Weaver attends a Synergix seminar, led by Ellis West, who tries to avoid answering her questions about how, exactly, the company will help County cut costs. Romano enlists Elizabeth to operate on Prole, and it’s clear she doesn’t know him well, because she thinks he’s giving her the case out of the kindness of his heart.

Doug tells Mark that a golfing buddy who’s a judge has recommended a lawyer to help him with Chris’ lawsuit. Mark would rather Doug not talk about his legal issues with other people. Carol overhears and asks Doug what the statute of limitations is on PTSD. They’ve cut Mark plenty of slack – he needs help. Doug says he just needs supportive friends. Carol notes that, with his attitude, Mark soon won’t have anyone left he can call a friend.

Lydia tells Jeanie that her tattooed patient, Lindermulder, is awake and very polite. Yeah, well…Lydia’s white. Jeanie treats him politely but not warmly, and Lindermulder asks for someone else to treat him. No offense, of course. When Jeanie pulls down his gown to inject him in the shoulder, right where his tattoo is, he asks if she’s been saved. Jeanie asks what his tattoo has to do with God. Lindermulder is sorry she had to see it. He keeps it as a reminder of the intolerance he left behind when he was saved. He built a new life, whether or not Jeanie thinks that’s possible.

Weaver tries to talk to West more after the seminar, and he’d be more than happy to meet with her later to discuss whatever she wants. Clothing optional, I assume. Carol treats a patient for Mark’s turkey column, a woman wearing a gas mask and spraying aerosols around her to fight germs. She claims she’s allergic to her apartment building, but Mark thinks she has anxiety and just wants attention.

Benton and Anspaugh operate together, and Anspaugh notes that Benton and Elizabeth seem to be getting along well. Anspaugh has recommended Benton to join Romano’s team, but Benton isn’t interested in Romano’s procedures, which use more technology. Anspaugh points out that he needs to keep up with developments in his job. Out at a restaurant, Weaver tells West that she has to cut 10% of the budget by the next day. She’s reluctant to have to fire someone she considers a friend. West is like, “Yeah, that’s rough. Let’s get coffee and see what happens next.”

The gas mask lady left against medical advice, which Carol blames on Mark. He says it’s not his job to be the patients’ friend. Romano and Elizabeth earn a lot of attention by doing Prole’s surgery, the first of its kind at County. Anspaugh reminds Benton that this is the sort of thing he should be trying to get in on. Paramedics bring in an elderly man named Scarletti who fell in his bathtub. His wife is distressed, but Mark has no patience for her.

Benton and Elizabeth scrub in for more surgery at the same time, and he accuses her of giving him her operation with Anspaugh so she could take the better one with Romano. She tells him that Romano asked her to consult, but he doesn’t seem to believe her. She’s supposed to operate with Anspaugh, but he’s doing another procedure. Elizabeth doesn’t want her schedule to get backed up, so she wonders if Anspaugh would mind if she started without him. Benton basically says he hasn’t minded anything else Elizabeth has done so far.

Carter was supposed to go somewhere with Anna that night, but he tells her he remembered he had to have dinner with his grandmother. Of course, he doesn’t mention that this dinner is at the family’s mansion, where Carol will be asking for a lot of money for her clinic. Lydia calls them over to the ambulance bay, where the gas mask woman is saying she can’t breathe. She won’t let Anna take off her mask.

Mark and Carol discover that Scarletti has inoperable cancer; he found out previously but clearly hasn’t told his wife. A bunch of people try to ask Mark for things, but he brushes them all off to go to Mrs. Scarletti in the waiting area. He wants to take her somewhere quiet to tell her about her husband’s condition, but she’s so focused on going to see him that she doesn’t listen. She’s also hard of hearing, so when Mark says he has no chance of a meaningful recovery, she misunderstands and thinks he’ll be okay. Mark ends up yelling in the middle of the waiting area that Mrs. Scarletti’s husband is going to die.

Doug pulls Mark away for a chat, but Mark runs off with Cynthia on his tail. Anspaugh joins Elizabeth just as she’s finishing her appendectomy (she calls it an appendixectomy, which sounds really weird) and blasts her for operating without an attending. She says she thought there was leeway in a hospital like County. She adds that she was led to believe that it was okay to operate on her own, though she won’t say who led her to believe that.

Doug asks everyone to stop gossiping about Mark, since it’s not helpful. Carol says he’s rejected all the help they’ve tried to give him. She’s leaving but won’t have time to go home and change before her meeting with Carter’s grandmother, so Anna offers to loan her a jacket. She realizes that Carol’s meeting with Carter’s grandmother, and that they’re going to be discussing. Carol reveals that the family is super-rich. Anna asks to tag along for the meeting, since she has experience with grants.

Mark and Cynthia sit by the water, talking about his struggles after his attack. She’s sympathetic, noting that his attacker could have killed him. She thinks that he has trouble asking for help because he’s used to helping others. He agrees and thanks her with a kiss. Back at County, Weaver tells Jeanie that the budget deficit is going to require some aggressive changes. Two PAs need to be let go, and since Jeanie was the last one hired, she’s out. Weaver thinks she can get a job in another department, and the arrangement would only be temporary, but that doesn’t make Jeanie feel any better.

Carol and Anna go to the Carter mansion, which is overwhelmingly fancy. How fancy? The butler lets them into the music room, where there’s a harp. I guess I could have stopped at “butler,” huh? The women quickly get material to tease Carter with when they spot a portrait of him as a teen, riding a horse named Marigold. Carter is…not so happy to realize Anna’s there.

With Cynthia out of the ER and no other clerk around, Lydia’s left answering phones. She uses such gems as, “ER. What do you want?” Doug’s on his way out when she tells him he has a long-distance collect call. He has a short conversation with the caller, asks a couple of questions, and leaves. Carter tries to show his support for Carol, but his grandmother, Millicent, would rather just talk to her one-on-one. Carter and Anna go for a tour of the grounds instead.

Elizabeth confronts Benton for sending her into surgery alone, and he tells her it was payback for starting what was supposed to be his operation early, then sending him to another one so she could do the better procedure. Elizabeth is offended that he would accuse her of being manipulative. Besides, if that was what she wanted, he wouldn’t have been aware of it.

Benton tells her she’s not the only one who likes to operate. Elizabeth argues that she was there and he wasn’t, so she took her opportunity. He says he’ll just have to make sure that opportunity doesn’t come up again. He tells Romano he’ll join his team, and Elizabeth taunts lightly that he just wants to keep an eye on her. Benton smirks that someone needs to.

Carter tells Anna a totally relatable story from his childhood: He used to put the family’s Faberge eggs with his Weebles, “as pets.” He apologizes for not telling her he was rich, but he thought she would turn on him because she’s anti-rich people. Anna says she doesn’t like liars, either. Carter says he wanted her to get to know him apart from his money first. He insists that he doesn’t mind her lower-class life. Anna feels like he was patronizing and doesn’t get how important their wage gap is.

Doug goes to Mark’s place and is surprised to find Cynthia there, clearly having just gotten out of Mark’s bed to answer the door. Mark says he’s fine and doesn’t need a chat. Doug announces that he’s taking a few days off – his father died. He’s as fine about it as Mark is about all of his issues. Mark insists that he stay for some coffee.

Millicent and Carol are getting along well, and Millicent thinks the clinic could be successful. She gives Carol $75,000 without even reading her proposal. She just wants Carol to keep the amount from Carter so she can keep up her “stern” and “unapproachable” façade. Jeanie goes home to Al, who’s all but settled on moving to Atlanta. Jeanie still isn’t sure.

Weaver asks West to meet her at a bar, where she’s drinking to ease the pain of letting Jeanie go. West doesn’t think Jeanie will appreciate the hard work Weaver will have to put in to improve the budget and get Jeanie back to working at County. Doug packs to head off to get his father’s body, saying goodbye to Carol. He’s picking up Mark on his way to the airport so Mark can get out of town for a while. In what seems like it’s probably a rare instance, Doug tells Carol he loves her, without any lead-up or prompting, then drives off.

Thoughts: As if Mark hasn’t already treated Jeanie badly, with digging into her medical records and discovering her HIV status, now he’s made her treat a bigot.

Benton, you can’t refuse to try new things and then get mad when Elizabeth succeeds at them. What are you, seven?

Cynthia’s short-sleeved ribbed turtleneck and plaid skirt are deliciously ’90s.

June 22, 2019

The X-Files 11.3, Plus One: Mixed Doubles

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

They did it, y’all!

Summary: A very loud rock band is playing for an energetic crowd. One fan jumps on stage, then crowd-surfs, which I didn’t think was still a thing in 2018. He sees someone who looks exactly like him in the crowd and follows him outside, but the doppelganger disappears. The fan drives off in his truck, and when a police officer comes up behind him with his lights and sirens on, the fan thinks he’s getting pulled over for speeding. The officer goes after someone else, but the fan realizes he’s not alone – the doppelganger is in his truck. He grabs the wheel and makes the fan crash.

Despite being thrown through the front windshield (always wear your seatbelt, everyone), the fan – Arkie Seavers – survives the crash and ends up in the local jail. He’s claiming that someone who looks exactly like him caused the crash. Scully thinks this is a simple case of confusion while drunk. Mulder, however, has heard stories over other people in Henrico County, Virginia, dying after claiming they saw their doubles. The diagnosis is a rare form of schizophrenia.

Mulder continues that many of the dead people took their own lives. Scully hears the numbers and realizes they’re dealing with a “mass phenomenon.” That definitely makes this an X-File. The agents head straight to the Henrico County jail to meet with Arkie, who says he’d seen his doppelganger a few times over the past week. Scully confirms that he uses drugs, which would certainly explain his story. But Arkie says he can prove that there really was a double.

The agents go to the scene of the crash, debating whether Arkie fell asleep at the wheel and is making up a story about a double. Then they meet with Dr. Babsi Russel, who treated a number of the victims at Henrico County Psychiatric Hospital. Though none of the victims had been treated for psychiatric problems before, they were all “arguably not upstanding citizens.” Russel thinks they all developed mental illnesses in a sort of outbreak.

As Scully and Russel discuss the possibility of mass hysteria, Mulder peeks in on a patient who’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She also exhibits split personalities and has wild mood swings. Mulder wants to take a closer look at her drawings, as the woman has pages and pages of Hangman games covering her walls. Russel lets the agents meet the patient, Judy, who claims to be a famous actress whose fans call her Little Judy. She plays Hangman telepathically with her brother.

Mulder sees that one of the words used in a Hangman game was “Arkie,” so he asks if Judy knows Arkie Seavers. She doesn’t, but she points to an empty chair and says “she” might know him. After the agents leave, Judy draws a frown on the hanged man on Arkie’s page, then frowns at it herself. At the jail, Arkie is put in another cell and told he’s going to be transferred somewhere else. His double is waiting for him in the cell.

Mulder and Scully check into the St. Rachel Motel for the night, but there’s only one room, so they’ll have to share. X-Files fanfiction writers around the world scream with joy. Sometime during the night, Mulder leaves his pull-out couch to tell Scully that Arkie was found dead in his cell. His lawyer, Mr. Cavalier, is skeptical that he could have strangled himself while wearing handcuffs, but Mulder knows it’s possible. (I…don’t want to think about that any further.) Mr. Cavalier denies that Arkie was suicidal.

Scully tries to preemptively shut down any theory Mulder might be developing that connects Judy’s Hangman game to Arkie’s death by hanging. He wants to find Judy’s brother and see if he’s somehow involved. So Mulder goes to a rundown, hoarded house and meets with Judy’s brother, Chucky, who happens to be the guard who found Arkie’s body in his cell.

Chucky has the same Hangman games on his walls that Judy does. He complains that Judy cheats when they play. Mulder guesses that Chucky and Judy are twins, and Judy’s the good one. Chucky laughs at that. He says the use of Arkie’s name in a Hangman game was meaningless; he just liked it. Chucky makes a snide remark about Mulder to an unseen person in the room.

Scully returns to the hospital, where Judy has become difficult. Two nurses say they call this version of her Demon Judy. Scully knows that people with split personalities sometimes respond well to strong authority, so she’s going to give that a try. A nurse tells her that Judy’s parents both hanged themselves. Scully decides she needs the nurses as backup, but they’re not going in.

Judy flings crap at Scully as she tries to ask questions about Arkie and Chucky. Judy says that Arkie killed himself, though how would she know that if she wasn’t involved? She asks if Scully’s trying to trick her. Scully says she just wants the deaths to stop. Judy asks what Mulder sees in her. If he hooked up with Judy, he’d forget all about Scully. Maybe Judy can make her go away, too. She mocks that Scully’s dried up and past her child-bearing years. Scully says Judy can’t hurt her, but Judy knows the truth can do a lot of damage.

Back in the motel that night, Mulder visits Scully from his part of the suite (separated by a door) and they discuss the weird influence Judy seems to have over the victims. Mulder thinks ghosts are involved, but Scully wants to go with psychic transference. She asks if Mulder thinks of her as old. “You still got it going on,” he assures her. She sends him back to his part of the suite, but he tells her to “knock three times,” meaning he’d welcome a late-night visit.

Chucky reads a poorly copyedited newspaper headline about Cavalier claiming that Arkie’s death was supernatural. He starts a new Hangman game, indeed playing telepathically with Judy. She guesses a letter out loud, and when he writes it down, it appears on her paper. It looks like the word is “Dean,” which is Cavalier’s first name.

The next morning, Mulder visits Chucky again and asks how he’s able to commit his murders. He must choose the victims at the jail, then hangs them psychically. Chucky says he’s questioning the wrong person. Mulder threatens to have Chucky arrested or committed for intending to commit a crime. Chucky knows he’d easily be released, and would then have Mulder censured. Mulder gets Chucky riled up and warns that he’s going to eventually hang himself.

Scully goes back to see Judy, who’s back to the pleasant person she was when the agents first met her. Judy insists that she’s not a killer – when she was an actress, she never even played one. She blames her unseen roommate for whatever Scully thinks has happened. Scully thinks Judy has some sort of power to influence people’s lives. “I think you mean people’s deaths,” Judy corrects. But people can protect themselves with pills, like Judy does. Every day, the nurses give her pills that have secret powers.

Scully sees that she’s playing Hangman and asks her to stop the game. Judy can’t – she’d go mad. Scully shows the pills to the nurses, who tell her they’re really made of bread, rolled by Judy herself. The nurses take them, though, just in case Judy’s right about them having secret powers. Scully might want to take them, too.

Cavalier goes to a restaurant and flirts horribly with a waitress. He sees a guy outside who looks just like him and chases after him. He goes to the motel and tells the agents about the double, whom he thinks he may have also seen a few days ago. Scully tries to calm him down, telling him that mass hysteria is just fears gone wild. Mulder thinks there’s an actual threat, though, so Cavalier should take some precautions. “It can’t haunt you if you don’t let it,” Scully says.

Mulder tells Scully that he really thinks there’s a dark presence in the town. Scully says there’s no such thing as evil – it’s just a concept, like the Devil. Mulder asks about dark sides that humans might have. She thinks people can act out dark impulses, but that doesn’t mean everyone has an evil twin. Mulder asks about Judy and Chucky. Scully thinks there’s a rational explanation, though she admits that she’s superstitious enough to sleep with her back to the door, in case the Devil comes for a nighttime visit.

Cavalier goes home and dumps all his weapons and sharp objects in his driveway. As he’s gathering his ties and belts, Judy and Chucky continue their Hangman game. Cavalier accidentally cuts himself on one of his many, many swords, and as he’s taking care of the cut in the bathroom, he hears another sword being unsheathed in the other room. The last thing he sees is his double.

Once again, Mulder wakes Scully during the night so they can go to a crime scene. Cavalier’s neighbors called the police when they saw him dumping weapons in the driveway. Though the front door was locked, Cavalier was killed with one of his swords, and there’s no way he could have killed himself, because it’s pretty impossible to decapitate yourself. Scully things the slight possibility is enough to hold on to.

As Scully goes out to the car to leave, she spots her own double in a crowd of nosy neighbors. She has a restless night in the motel, expecting the Devil to come through her door. She goes to Mulder’s part of the suite and asks him to cuddle her. The fanfiction writers scream again. Scully asks what will happen when they’re old. Will they still hang out after they retire? Mulder promises that he’ll always be around to offer up his wild theories. She says she’ll always be around to shoot them down.

Scully asks what might happen if Mulder meet someone younger who wants to have a family. Mulder says she could also meet someone she wants to have kids with, but Scully knows it’s too late for that. She would have liked to have had another one, though. Mulder asks what’s stopping her. Scully reminds him that William’s conception was a miracle. Plus, she doesn’t have a partner to conceive a baby with.

Sometimes she feels like the world is going to Hell, and the two of them are the only ones who can save it. They both wonder what they would do if they lost their jobs. Scully says they’ll think of something. As she smiles at Mulder, ready to take her clothes off, her double glares at them from the doorway.

Judy and Chucky have started a new round of Hangman, and it looks like the word is Mulder. He happens to be awake in the middle of the night, and when he goes to the bathroom for water, he sees his double in the mirror. He wakes Scully, who tells him she saw her own double, too. She thinks Judy and Chucky are trying to make them victims of the mass hysteria.

Mulder tells Scully to “put a dimmer on that afterglow” (they totally had sex, y’all) and go to the hospital so she’ll be in a safe place. He thinks her name is the one Judy and Chucky are playing right now. Judy does, too, but Chucky wants to get rid of Mulder, thinking Judy’s in love with him. Judy tries to change the word to “Scully.”

Scully takes some bread pills as she leaves for the hospital. Mulder goes to Chucky’s house to arrest him, but instead runs into his double. Scully’s double is in her backseat, and Scully tries to explain her away with logic. Maybe she’s just evil incarnate. The double has no time for this, I guess, and disappears.

Mulder fights his double as Chucky scraps his Hangman game to write in Judy’s name. Judy does the same with Chucky’s name. Their doubles both appear to them. When Scully gets to Judy’s room, Demon Judy is ready for her, but the real Judy is dead. Mulder’s double vanishes, and he finds Chucky as dead as his twin. He also finds two very old Hangman games on the wall, with the words “Mom” and “Dad.”

Back at the motel, Mulder suggests getting a couple of hours in before the agents check out (though he says he means sleep). Scully sends him off to his part of the suite, saying she won’t need anything. But after he leaves, she changes her mind and goes to the door. He’s right on the other side, waiting for her to join him.

Thoughts: Judy and Chucky are both played by Karin Konoval, who was also the creepy mom in “Home.” She does an amazing job in this episode. Dr. Russel is played by Denise Dowse, AKA Mrs. Teasley in Beverly Hills, 90210.

Arkie? Babsi? Who was in charge of naming characters on this show?

Where does Cavalier live, an armory? Who needs that many guns and swords?

June 18, 2019

ER 4.5, Good Touch, Bad Touch: Instead of Opening a Free Clinic, Carol Should Host Anger-Management Classes

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 5:07 pm by Jenn

Is this the good touch or the bad touch?

Summary: Carol’s in bed, but not asleep. She’s brainstorming ideas for ways County can reach out to the underserved, such as teen moms. Doug is half-listening while he sets up a video camera. He mentions that Carol once accused him of taping himself with other women. Now he’s focused on making her happy. Benton’s at Carla’s, trying to study for a procedure, but Reese hasn’t yet learned to be patient. Benton passive-aggressively tries to wake up Carla, who ignores him. Reese settles down when Benton reads aloud from his procedure book, which makes sense, because that would definitely put me to sleep.

Mark is up late, watching TV and ignoring a phone call that turns out to be a wrong number. The person calling leaves an angry message for the woman he thinks lives there. Mark picks up to tell him he misdialed, getting angry when the guy won’t back off. So yeah, his anger issues are still there. In the morning, he runs into Benton, who’s started drinking coffee. Benton clarifies that Rachel was born while Mark was in med school. Mark says that was a mistake, which doesn’t make Benton feel better.

Jeanie asks Mark to look at a patient who may need surgery. Carol greets a homeless man named Pablo who was hoping to get some TLC from Haleh. Carol tells him she’ll be at work tomorrow. Carter and Anna discuss Ivan, who’s still struggling with bloody traumas. Mark examines Jeanie’s patient, a woman who doesn’t want medical treatment so much as she wants Mark to grope her. He runs off as soon as he can.

Carter teaches Ivan how to insert a catheter in a patient’s penis, and I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want an inexperienced med student doing that to me if I had that anatomy. Another patient, Ernesto, wanders in and says he wishes he knew who’d done that procedure on him last time he was in the hospital. Mark runs into Cynthia and confides that he’s distracted because he has to give a deposition that afternoon in the Kenny Law case. Cynthia offers to help him relax with a back rub.

Mark heads into the bathroom, where Doug asks where things are going with Cynthia. Mark denies that he’s interested in her or anyone else, and if he were, he wouldn’t ask Doug for advice. Anna and James tend to a college student named Brett who had shortness of breath while out for a run. He’s a track star and is worried that he has a condition that will keep him from running.

Carol tells Weaver about her idea for patient follow-up after they’re seen in the ER. She’d like to open a women’s and children’s clinic staffed entirely by volunteers. Weaver thinks it’s an okay idea, but there’s no money in the budget. Though she can’t take on another project, she appreciates Carol’s input.

Doyle bickers with Ernesto, who wants to leave before his gunshot wound is examined for the last time. Carter volunteers to do it, but Ernesto’s out of patience and just pulls out his IV to leave. He licks the blood off his arm (ew) and tells Doyle, “Bye-bye, chica.” Charming. Doyle asks if Ivan’s going to be sick. I don’t know, but I might.

Benton does the procedure he was studying, but he can’t answer a question Anspaugh poses about another method. He’s falling behind in some of his tasks, so Anspaugh sends him to complete his charts while Elizabeth finishes the surgery. Anna looks at Brett’s x-rays and discovers that he may have testicular cancer. Doug offers to do the testicular exam, since Brett might feel more comfortable with a male doctor doing it, but Anna gets defensive. Because Anna’s feelings are more important than the patient’s comfort level.

Pablo comes back, so Carol sends Cynthia to tell him to come back tomorrow. Carter calls for a surgical consult and, unfortunately, gets Dale. It’s a simple procedure that Carter could have handled himself, except for the fact that he’s not allowed to, since he’s not in surgery anymore. Dale mentions that Robert “Rocket” Romano is back at County. I let out the loudest, most frustrated groan ever heard on the planet.

Carter leaves Dale with his patient to take care of a man named Tom who was in a car accident. He says he had a blinding headache before he crashed. Even though he has a head wound and a history of hypertension, Carter asks Connie to work him up for an abdominal issue. Anna tells Brett that he needs a testicular exam, and though he’s a little nervous, he submits. Things get awkward when he gets an erection during the exam. Anna tells him it’s common and he shouldn’t be embarrassed. Brett needs a minute to collect himself.

Weaver chastises Carter lightly for ordering abdominal scans for Tom, even though he presented with symptoms of a tumor that Carter thought needed to be checked out. She asks him to check with her in the future before he spends so much of the hospital’s money. Weaver tells Carol that an ER clinic is a great idea, and she can look into grants to fund it. Carol says she wasn’t planning to actually set it up, but Weaver thinks she should see her own idea through.

Jeanie tells Weaver that Mark walked out in the middle of an exam. She thinks he needs to leave his bad mood at home when he comes to work. Anna finishes with Brett and tells him he has a mass on one of his testicles. It may have spread and caused the spots on his lungs that left him short of breath. He starts taking notes while Anna goes over what will happen next. She tells him he’ll need to talk to an oncologist for more information, but Brett wants answers now. She tells him he may need surgery and chemo.

Mark takes a nap in an on-call room, getting woken up by his lawyer, Alan, who thinks he should be more prepared for his deposition. Mark thinks they should have settled already, but the Laws are insistent that they get at least eight figures for Kenny’s death. Mark says the other lawyer’s questions won’t rattle him – he did everything he could to save Kenny.

Benton finds it hard to concentrate on the giant stack of records he has to complete. He tries to talk to another doctor about balancing parenthood with work, but the other doctor lets his wife take care of all the family stuff, so he’s no help. Carter and Anna have lunch together, and he turns her down when she tries to pay for half. She still thinks he’s a poor resident like her. Weaver tells Carter that he was right about Tom’s condition, so the tests he ordered were necessary after all.

Mark and Cynthia have a conversation about snack cakes, which puts him in a good mood for the first time all day. Weaver pulls him aside to tell him that the groping patient, Miriam, is a Medicare patient, so the hospital won’t get reimbursed until a doctor completes a full exam. Mark wonders why they have physicians’ assistants if doctors have to examine all the Medicare patients.

Carol looks through grant applications, and Chuny mentions that a well-known clinic at another hospital was also started by a nurse. Carter and Weaver rush to Tom’s room, where he’s experiencing heart problems because of his tumor. Romano and Dale arrive to whisk him off to surgery, the world Carter gave up for the ER. Carter may regret leaving the glamour of surgery, but at least he gets praise from Weaver.

Benton falls asleep in the records room, but Elizabeth wakes him up with some tea. She offers to get him on a team for a high-tech surgery Romano will be performing the next day. Romano is her sponsor for her job in the States, and she thinks Benton should get in good with him. Benton already has enough to deal with and says he’s not interested.

Anna goes looking for Brett, who appears to have taken off. Ivan asks Carter for help with a blood draw, so Carter loudly complains that he’s about to put his years of medical training to the test by doing a simple procedure. Is it lonely up there on your high horse, Carter? Carol and Chuny try again to explain to Pablo that Haleh isn’t there, so he’ll need to come back tomorrow.

Carter and Ivan’s patient is a long-time IV drug user, which makes it hard for them to find a vein to draw blood from. The patient offers to find one himself, inserting a needle in his chest and drawing his own blood. Carter’s thrilled but still tells Ivan to never let a patient do that. Ivan responds by passing out. Maybe Ivan should look into a different profession.

Anna admits to Doug that she screwed up and lost Brett. If they can find him, she’d like Doug to take over his case and help him realize that losing a testicle won’t be the end of the world. They rush off to help Mark with a combative patient, McNamara, who needs to be restrained. He kicks Chuny while he’s thrashing around, so Mark grabs his injured leg and yells at him to settle down. Doug sends him out of the trauma room.

Carter gives Ivan some stitches for a wound he sustained when he passed out. Carter thinks that once he sees some more traumas, he’ll be able to handle them better. Ivan wonders that his life plans are a bad decision. Benton apologizes to Anspaugh for making errors that morning and for falling behind with his charts. Anspaugh says they all cut him some slack when Reese was in the NICU, but now that he’s home, Benton needs to get with the program. It’s not just for his own career – Elizabeth is so talented that she’s liable to surpass all the other surgeons.

Connie tells Carol that the nurse who started the other clinic got her grant because her father has connections. That’s not going to be an option for Carol. Brett returns to County, and Anna offers to let him talk to Doug instead, but Brett doesn’t care who gives him the possibly bad news about his prognosis. She encourages him to call his family so he’s not alone in whatever happens. Doug sees the two of them talking but leaves them alone.

Mark goes out by the water for a cigarette and chats with Cynthia again. She thinks the way he handled McNamara was great, since no one else could get him under control. She offers a back rub again, and this time he accepts. They head back to the hospital when he gets paged for his deposition. Carter suggests that Carol look for a grant from a private foundation. His grandmother has one, and she hears all sorts of crazy ideas, so a pitch for a clinic might get somewhere.

Mark gets deposed, and the lawyer brings up the Jodi O’Brien case, another instance in which Mark was blamed for a death. He felt regret but not guilt over Jodi’s death; people die at the hospital all the time. After Kenny’s death, Mark also felt regret. He insists that he gave the same care to both patients regardless of race. Chris scoffs at that, and Mark yells that he, of all people, can’t accuse Mark of anything.

He won’t answer the lawyer’s question about whether he holds a white life above a black life. He admits that he’s fallible, then gets even more upset when the lawyer mentions again that Kenny was black. Mark shouts that if she wants him to say he’s racist, then fine, he’s racist. Does that make Chris feel better about beating him up? Chris looks surprised about that accusation. He blasts Mark for never expressing any regret to his mother after she lost her son. “You belong in jail,” Mark spits as he leaves the deposition. Chris says he wishes he had been the one to beat Mark up.

Carter can’t get any answers about Tom’s surgery, so he goes to the OR himself. He arrives as Dale is getting thanked by Tom’s wife and son for saving his life. Carter introduces himself, but Tom’s wife doesn’t care about the work done by the guy who actually diagnosed her husband and led to his life being saved. Poor, unappreciated Carter. Pablo comes back yet again, and this time Carol says she’ll take care of him herself. Doug asks Mark how things went at the deposition, but Mark leaves without talking to him.

Elizabeth introduces Benton to Romano, and Romano immediately shows his true personality by asking if Benton thinks Chris Rock is funny. You see, because Benton is black, and Chris Rock is black, so why not ask one black man’s opinion about another black man? Romano complains that Rock uses the N-word too much – if Romano used it, Benton would want to smack him. Benton says he thinks Rock is hilarious. After he leaves, Romano tells Elizabeth that he likes Benton.

Carol cleans Pablo up, learning the kind of personal care Haleh gives him, like listening to his chest because he’s had pneumonia before. He enthusiastically tells her that he would come to a free clinic if one opened at the hospital. Carter tells Benton that he made a great diagnosis today, but Dale got all the glory. Benton tells him Dale is a weasel, and Carter’s twice the surgeon Dale will ever be. Carter asks if Benton’s enjoying fatherhood, and Benton happily says he is.

Jeanie and Al go to a bar, and she’s annoyed when he ponies up for a pool, even though they said they were going to be more careful with their money. Al’s friend Bill comes in and glares, mad that Al exposed him to HIV. Jeanie encourages Al to say hi, but Al knows he wouldn’t be well-received. Bill yells across the bar that he wants to know how Al contracted HIV. When Jeanie tries to intervene, Bill calls her a nasty word, so Al gets aggressive. Jeanie tries to make Al leave, but Bill isn’t satisfied. He calls Al a gay slur and throws a beer bottle, which leads to a brutal fight between the friends. Even Jeanie can’t get Al to just walk away.

Thoughts: I’m pretty sure the Doug/Anna rivalry ends fairly quickly, which is good because it’s dumb.

If you want to know how bored Benton is in the records room, he’s making small talk with people he does’t know. He’s voluntarily talking to strangers. Normally, he doesn’t even voluntarily talk to people he knows!

How many times can a med student get sick or pass out before he gets kicked out of the program? What hospital or med school wants to spend the money to train a guy who can’t even stay upright during a routine procedure, let alone an emergency? Imagine applying to med school and losing your spot to that guy.

June 15, 2019

The X-Files 11.2, This: Langly Calling from the Imitation Zone

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:25 pm by Jenn

“Mulder, if you Rick Roll me one more time, I’m leaving you for real”

Summary: The Ramones’ “California Sun” is playing as a car speeds somewhere, carrying three people who look like they’ve either just committed a crime or are on their way to commit one. Mulder and Scully are asleep on Mulder’s couch, oblivious to the fact that a familiar (though distorted voice) is speaking Mulder’s name through his phone. A staticky video shows Langly trying to reach out to his old friend. The three possible criminals arrive at their destination: Mulder’s house.

Langly asks Mulder and Scully if he’s dead, then says that if he is, “they know that I know.” The agents realize someone’s outside the house, and the second the door begins to open, Mulder tells Scully, “Go.” He moves a couch in front of the door while Scully slides under a table to grab a gun. She turns the table on its side and hides behind it as the three criminals enter and start shooting. After a brief firefight, two men are down, and the agents are unharmed. The third man gets away.

Mulder’s phone lights up again, and Langly repeats his message: “They know that I know.” Scully uses Mulder’s landline (which looks like it’s been around since the ’70s) to call in the attack, and the two start bagging up evidence. Mulder won’t give up his phone, knowing no one will do anything with it. He asks if there’s any possibility that Langly’s still alive. Scully doesn’t think so, since the Lone Gunmen’s bodies were completely destroyed.

Mulder thinks Langly’s message was more than just a warning that the three men were coming to the house. Langly asked if he was dead, which is pretty weird. Two military vehicles arrive, and at first the agents think they’re there to respond to the attack, but they quickly realize that’s probably not right. The phone rings, but Mulder says not to answer. He yells for the people outside to identify themselves. A Russian man shouts back that they need to answer the phone.

As Scully wonders if they should call Skinner, admitting that she’s no longer sure whose side he’s on, Mulder warns the group outside that they’re armed federal agents. The guy outside tells Mulder and Scully to come out. She calls Skinner, who tells her to surrender – it’s her and Mulder’s only chance. The guy outside tells Mulder that he knows what he did. The men who attacked the agents were wearing body cams, so the people outside know exactly what happened during the firefight.

Scully relays Skinner’s message that they should surrender. Mulder’s not about to give himself over to people whose allegiance he doesn’t know, so he tells the guy outside that they’re ready to fight. “We don’t need to identify ourselves,” the guy says. “What world are you living in?” He sends his men into the house, which leads to another shootout. This time, Mulder and Scully lose and are captured.

The Russian enters and tells his men that Price is going to be upset about the deaths of two of her best guys. She’ll want this group to finish what the original attackers couldn’t. The Russian wants Mulder’s phone, but Mulder’s not going to hand it over. The Russian mocks Mulder’s “I want to believe poster,” then says that America would have been okay losing the Cold War if they’d known they could make a profit off of it. He plans to kill the agents after he gets his hands on the phone.

The men toss the room, looking for the phone, which was stashed in the oven. The Russian finds it when it comes back on and replays Langly’s message. The agents choose that minute to surprise the other men, shoot one of their guns around the room, and escape. They escape through the woods around the house, handcuffed together.

Skinner arrives just in time to rescue them (and undo their handcuffs). He explains that the men are from an American security contractor headquartered in Moscow. They got permission from the Executive Branch to have authority over the FBI. Skinner thought they just wanted to question the agents, not kill them. He wants to take the agents to a secure place, but they don’t trust him. He gives them a pocketknife and all the money he has on him so they can go on the run.

Scully asks if Langly’s alive. Skinner reminds her that they were both at the Lone Gunmen’s funeral, which doesn’t answer her question. He thinks he did: “They’re buried in Arlington.” Back in the house, the Russian orders one of his men to hack Mulder’s phone and find out how Langly contacted him. But there’s a kill switch in the program, which shuts down any link to who sent Langly’s message.

Mulder and Scully go to Arlington National Cemetery and find the Lone Gunmen’s graves. Mulder notes that Langly’s birthdate is wrong; it’s seven months off from his and Mulder’s shared birthday. The other guys’ are right, which the agents know because Byers was born the day JFK was assassinated and Frohike was born the day FDR died. Mulder wonders if any president died on March 28, 1969, the birthdate on Langly’s headstone. Scully somehow knows it was Eisenhower.

She notes that JFK was the 35th president, Eisenhower the 34th, and FDR the 32nd. Mulder teases that she’s showing off. They wonder if skipping over the 33rd president (Truman, for the record) is significant. They go three rows up and three rows over (checking in both directions), which takes Mulder to Deep Throat’s grave. He reveals that he was in the cemetery the day of Deep Throat’s funeral, watching from a distance. In case anyone cares, Deep Throat’s real name was Ronald Pakula.

Mulder says that Deep Throat’s dead because the world was complex and dangerous back in 1994. Now it seems like a simpler time. Everything they feared back then has come to pass. Scully doesn’t get the connection between the Lone Gunmen and Deep Throat, who died eight years apart. Langly couldn’t have even known he would be buried at Arlington. Mulder realizes that the cross on Deep Throat’s headstone is different from the crosses on the others. Instead of being engraved, it’s a separate piece that Mulder turns to the side, revealing something underneath.

As someone tries to sneak up on the agents, they use Skinner’s pocketknife to pry the thing out of the headstone. Mulder recognizes it as a memory medallion, a disc with a QR code that can be scanned to play a video of the deceased. The agents don’t have their phones, so they can’t scan it. Scully spots the person sneaking up on them, and they’re able to hide behind headstones while he shoots at them. Mulder manages to come around the behind the shooter (who was the surviving man from the original attack) and knock him out on Deep Throat’s headstone. The agents run off and leave him there.

The agents hide out somewhere for the night, then hit an Internet café in Annandale (not Annadale, chyron writer) the next morning. They’re starving, and managed to snag bran muffins so good that Mulder wants to open an X-File on how it was made. They scan the QR code, which gives them video footage of the exterior of a building in New York. Mulder knows from Edward Snowden’s documents that it was code-named Titanpointe and used by the NSA as a surveillance station in a program called Blarney.

In the ’90s, Mulder opened an X-File on the building, with info from Langly. He thinks they should look at their files. Of course, they can’t go to their office, since that would make them easy to find. But they can go to the FBI building and ambush Skinner to get his help. Skinner says he’s not working with their attackers, but the world is different now than it was back when the X-Files started. There are tons of organizations all fighting each other and trying to eliminate each other, including the FBI.

Scully tells Skinner that, even if they don’t trust him, they need his help. Skinner wonders how they got to this point. Scully says they’re not asking for rescue, just assistance. Skinner informs the agents that they can access their files from anywhere – the magic of technology! The private company that employs the Russians digitized all the X-Files so other agencies can refer to them. Mulder asks why Skinner didn’t tell them when the X-Files were reopened. Scully asks if Skinner’s working with the Russians.

Skinner says the contents of the X-Files is now public information, though it’s controlled by the FBI. Unfortunately, they’re not intact – all Mulder’s files on Blarney and Titanpointe are missing. Langly has also been erased from the files, though Byers and Frohike remain (and are linked to his name as related subjects, so…someone screwed up there).

There’s a file under Frohike’s name (called “Spank Bank,” and using an icon of Scully’s face – classy) that leads to a folder using Joey Ramone, Langly’s favorite rocker, as an icon. This takes the agents to contact information for a woman named Karah Hamby. There’s a note saying to go to her if Langly is scrubbed from the X-Files. Skinner’s on the phone across the room and doesn’t see the agents getting this info. He tells the agents that he’s trying to call off the Russians’ pursuit of the agents, but the FBI isn’t on good terms with the White House.

Karah Hamby is a professor at Semple Technical Academy in Bethesda, which is where the agents present her with the memory medallion. She thought that after five years passed without contact from them, she’d be able to let go of her regrets. She warns that the Russians’ organization, Purlieu Services, is watching. They came to her and Langly 15 years ago with the math and science to prove that humans can live forever.

They had their bodies copied and uploaded into a simulation. After Langly died, he was basically resurrected in the simulation. If Langly’s reaching out now, Purlieu must have lied about what was possible in the simulation. Hamby says that they wanted to have an eternal life together, so they accepted Purlieu’s offer. There was a limit on two-way contact, but Langly must have hacked it to reach out.

Mulder asks why Langly contacted him, of all people. Hamby says he must have figured out he’s in a simulation but still remembered working on X-Files with Mulder. Purlieu must know that he’s trying to tell the agents about the simulation. Hamby says they need to make it easier for Langly to make contact. She starts to give the agents what they need to do that, but the third attacker has found them and shoots her before she can finish. Scully takes him out, so two people will be joining Langly in his simulated world.

The agents go to a bar, where “California Sun” is playing, and Scully takes a nap while Mulder tries to use Hamby’s work on her phone. However, he knows Purlieu will try to use the phone to find them, so they can’t keep it on the whole time they’re on the run. Langly makes contact again, excited that both agents are there. He confirms that he’s not real, though that’s not bad – the simulation is like Heaven. He gets to eat whatever he wants and go to Ramones concerts every night. Also the New England Patriots never win. “I’m begging you, destroy it,” he says.

Langly continues that it’s like a work camp for digital slaves. The science known by the people in the simulation will be used by the elite to leave the real planet for space. The simulated people have no choices or dreams. Everything’s fake and everyone hates it. They’re all completely different from the people they were in life. Langly tells the agents to go to Titanpointe and shut down the simulation.

The agents take a bus to New York, unsure of how they’ll get access to the building while they’re there. Right now, Scully’s more focused on the bus ride and the rambunctious kids around them. But they come up with a plan: Scully uses her FBI credentials to take Mulder to the New York field office, pretending he’s there to be questioned. An employee sexually harasses Scully (and I hope she gets him fired later), then lets them in. Mulder does a Hannibal Lechter impression to pretend he’s too dangerous to be uncuffed.

The harasser asks Scully, who he calls “hon,” where her home office is. SCULLY, HAVE HIM FIRED. She addresses him as “bro” and says she’s married to the bureau. The agents start to take an elevator up to the floor where the simulation tech is housed, but Mulder thinks they could get ambushed, so they should take the stairs. Scully has to agree, even though the building has 29 floors. They get ambushed anyway, just on the stairs instead of coming off the elevator.

Scully is able to escape, but Mulder is captured and greeted by the Russian. He tells Mulder he’s on Purlieu’s side now. He’s taken to the 29th floor for a meeting with Price, who admits that she didn’t see his value before. Over the past few days, she’s come to respect his “instinct for survival.” She wants him to change how he looks at everything. He won’t face the question of CSM, and he doesn’t know what’s going to happen.

As Scully fights her way to the simulation tech, Price tells Mulder that the world is about replacements. What he needs to know is this: Life on the planet is about to be destroyed. The simulation tech is necessary for our evolution as a species. Langly’s the only person who’s figured out he’s in the simulation, and of all the billions of people he could have contacted, he chose to call Mulder. That must mean something. Price thinks that when Mulder understands that the simulation is meant to advance life, not end it, he won’t want to destroy it.

Mulder has a proposal: If he kills CSM, can he and Scully upload into the simulation and spend eternity together after they die? Price says it won’t be the two of them. They can take a piece of a person any time that person makes a call. Mulder says in that case, he doesn’t have a choice. Price laughs that he can choose not to use his phone. Mulder says he wants to believe, but he’d like to see the tech first. Meanwhile, Scully’s found it.

Price asks why Mulder wants to see it. He says it’s the closest he’ll get to seeing God. Price sends him off with the Russian, but Mulder spots a shadow around the corner and realizes Scully’s close by. He overpowers and knocks out the Russian, making Scully wonder how Mulder’s able to operate so well while handcuffed. “As if you didn’t know,” Mulder replies, which, honestly, answers some questions I didn’t need answered.

Scully uncuffs Mulder and goes to the tech room while he continues fighting with the Russian. As Mulder smashes the Russian’s face, Scully smashes the glass cage around the technology. She shuts it down, whispering a goodbye to Langly. The winner of the men’s fight joins her, and fortunately, it’s Mulder. He’s pleased that he got his phone back. He’s ready to take the Russian to the FBI and start a case against Price, though he may need a few minutes first. (Fighting at this age isn’t as easy as it was when he was younger.)

The agents return to the building sometime later with more FBI agents, but, unsurprisingly, all the simulation tech is gone, as is Price. Back at home, the agents start to clean up the trashed house, then opt for a nap instead. Langly comes up on the phone, yelling that they need to destroy the backup. He disappears, then is replaced by the third shooter and “California Sun.”

Thoughts: Two of the boys on the bus are played by Gillian Anderson’s sons.

Why does Scully know multiple presidents’ dates of death? When would that knowledge ever come in handy? Maybe in some obscure trivia contest?

Scully asking one of the kids on the bus, “Are you kidding me?” as he’s getting in her personal space is the most I’ve ever related to her.

June 11, 2019

ER 4.4, When the Bough Breaks: Surprise! Benton Is Human After All!

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 4:54 pm by Jenn

Cue mass casualty in 3…2…

Summary: Benton drops some things off at Carla’s apartment in preparation for Reese’s homecoming. She thinks he’s being overly cautious, but Benton doesn’t want her to have to wait for paramedics if something happens. For a first-time mom, Carla is very confident that everything will go fine. Meanwhile, Doug and Carla go rollerblading; she’s good and he’s inexperienced.

Jen surprises Mark at his apartment to complain that Rachel fell asleep at school. Rachel claimed that Mark let her stay up late the last time she visited. Jen thinks Mark’s assault is messing with him psychologically. No kidding, Jen! Until Mark is more like his normal self, Jen will be keeping Rachel away from him.

Carter’s gotten into motivational self-help stuff, in an attempt to turn around his year, since it hasn’t been going that great yet. He and Anna meet their new med students, James and Ivan, and Carter eagerly takes on the job of getting them acclimated. Thanks to his refusal to wear a helmet while rollerblading, Doug banged his head and gets an ice pack in the ER. Carol pretends not to know what happened.

Connie alerts everyone at the admit desk to a televised police chase involving a motorcycle. Weaver has finally gotten her hands on Doug’s research study, which lets children control their own pain medication, and encourages him to use data from another study to finish it. Doug isn’t interested in her help in getting a grant, but Weaver thinks he’ll have to leave for private practice by the end of the year if he doesn’t get one.

Since Carter had a bad experience with his last med student, Anna tells him he can choose between Ivan and James this time. Both guys seem competent, though, so Carter will probably be okay no matter who he gets. Paramedics bring in a guy named Jeremy who was hit by a car when he walked into traffic. He claims he’s an angel, and he can sense pain in Mark.

Benton meets up with Carla, whose friend Daphina has come to drive her and Reese home (Benton’s on duty). Benton doesn’t like her. Elizabeth sees him with his son and notes that he’s pretty secretive, since she had no idea he had a child. Benton gets paged back inside, so Carla impatiently sends him back to work.

Anna examines a boy with asthma whose mother, Mrs. Landeta, would prefer to have him treated by Doug. The police chase is still underway, though Doug and the nurses think the police are about to finish it off. Mrs. Landeta asks Doug to take over her son’s case, so Anna reluctantly steps aside. Speaking of being pushed aside from a job, Al has lost his at a construction site. He figures he’ll end up getting shut out of every site in the city. Jeanie tries to give him encouragement, but Al knows the kind of people he’s dealing with.

Carter calls Benton to the ER to consult on a patient he’s sure will end up needing surgery. Benton reminds him that he has to get an ultrasound first, but Carter’s sure of the outcome and thinks it makes sense to warn Benton early. Anna complains to Carol that Doug is patronizing; she can’t believe that Carol ever dated him. Carol says that Mrs. Landeta is just used to Doug. Weaver says that Doug has trouble dealing with strong women. He doesn’t know how to handle women he can’t charm or vilify.

Doris is back for treatment and unhappy to have to wait. The police chase has ended with a crash into a school bus, and the victims will be coming to County. Doris is going to have to wait a lot longer now. Weaver sends someone to find Mark, who’s smoking on the steps of an El platform when he sees ambulances speed by on their way to County.

Cynthia’s thrust into the middle of her first trauma, trying to coordinate communicating with the victims’ families. They’re mostly middle-schoolers on a field trip. Elizabeth’s patient isn’t happy to hear that her nearly amputated arm will have to be fully amputated so it can be reattached. Benton displays some actual good bedside manner with her.

In the middle of the chaos, Jeanie goes off to tend to a man who fell off a roof while installing a satellite dish. Mark thinks his young patient is a goner, but Doug wants to keep working on him, since he’s a child. Ivan can’t handle all the trauma and gets sick, so Benton makes Carter take him out. Jeremy looks on while Carter assists Weaver with an intubation.

Carol sees a trail of blood in the hallway and follows it to a bathroom, where Doris is bleeding. Jeanie’s patient goes south and needs a chest tube, a procedure Jeanie’s not supposed to perform. Connie tries to get Mark to help her, but Mark’s busy with his patient. Carol realizes that Doris is in labor despite her insistence that she’s not pregnant. Mark hears her yelling and rushes to help the baby Carol just delivered. He’s not breathing, and Doris accuses Carol of dropping him. Benton comes by and is shaken by the sight of the preemie.

With all the doctors still busy, Jeanie and Chuny are left to insert a chest tube on their own. Doris thinks she’s in labor again (it’s just the placenta), and she yells at Carol, “Don’t drop this one!” (It’s not funny, but…it’s also a little funny.) Jeanie’s patient’s son finds Weaver and tells her to come help Jeanie, who doesn’t seem to know what she’s doing. Well, dude, you were the one urging her to do the procedure, so…hush.

While Mark, Benton, and Carol work hard to save Doris’ baby, Jeanie successfully inserts the chest tube just as Weaver comes in. She has to admit that she used her finger instead of a clamp, which is beyond the restrictions of her job. Weaver sends her away. Mark decides that the baby can’t be saved and has to tell Benton to stop doing chest compressions. Mark doesn’t notice how difficult this is for Benton, but Carol does. Benton goes straight for the phone and calls Carla to check on Reese.

Weaver compliments Carter on the method he used to help her with the intubation. He credits Benton, and Weaver says Carter was lucky to have him as a mentor. Too bad Carter doesn’t have the same relationship with Ivan, who’s still recovering from his bad reaction to the trauma. Doug apologizes to Anna for stealing her patient from her, but Anna’s willing to let that go. James comes in from his lunch break, unaware that there was a mass casualty in the ER while he was gone.

Weaver tends to Officer Mulvahill, the cop who crashed into the bus while he was chasing the motorcyclist. He’s not hurt too badly, but he’s upset with himself for causing the crash that injured so many others. Benton operates with Elizabeth, who mentions again that she was surprised to learn he has a child. She thought he was too ambitious and driven to have a family. He surprises her again by telling her that Carla isn’t his wife.

Jeremy complains about negative energy in the hospital, then spies on Mark and Cynthia while they talk. Jeremy tells Mark that Cynthia likes him. Doug tells Carol that he worked things out with Anna, but Carol thinks Anna isn’t as cool with the situation with the patient as she’s let on. Weaver tells Carol to fill out an incident report about Doris’ baby in case she wants to make a statement. Carol doesn’t think she has to worry about the ramblings of a crack addict, but Weaver reminds her that she was suspended last year, so she needs to be extra-careful.

The motorcyclist is brought in, having finally been captured, and Weaver passes him off to Carter so she doesn’t accidentally-on-purpose hurt him. Jeanie tries to defend her actions with her patient, but Weaver tells her that when they agreed to let her keep working at County, she agreed to not do certain things. Apparently Jeanie should have just let the patient die if she had to.

Carter spots a welt on the motorcyclist’s body, which a police officer says is the result of the guy sliding into a fence. Yeah, it definitely doesn’t look baton-shaped. Carol asks Mark to back her up in her insistence that she didn’t drop the baby. Mark agrees with Carol that Doris’ statement won’t hold water, but since he didn’t see the delivery and whether or not Carol dropped the baby, he can’t give an eyewitness statement. Carol interprets this as him indicating he doesn’t believe her.

Doug gets back to Mrs. Landeta and her son (Jaime), whose breathing is better but who now has diarrhea. Doug suggests getting a stool sample, which Anna also wanted earlier but didn’t mention to him. Doris has asked for a lawyer, so Carol probably shouldn’t be her nurse anymore, but whatever. Doris says again that she didn’t know she was pregnant; if she had, she would have stopped using crack. No one’s told her yet that the baby didn’t survive. She figures she would have messed up the child anyway. But she still asks Carol if she’s physically able to have another one.

Carter sends Ivan off for the night, hoping he’ll have a stronger stomach tomorrow. Benton’s making one last call to Carla before he leaves work on time for once. When Chuny gets Carter to tend to the worsening motorcyclist, Benton tags along to help out. He chastises Carter for not getting a surgical consult even though the patient seemed stable. So, to sum up, no matter what Carter does, Benton disapproves.

Cynthia tells Mark that Jeremy’s family has been found; he’s supposed to be on medication but may have stopped taking it when he came to Chicago for college. Anna urges Carter to talk to Benton about how he treats Carter, as if he hasn’t been this way for three years now.

Doug tells Anna that he’s determined that Jaime doesn’t have asthma after all – he has strongyloides, a parasite, and the prednisone Doug was going to give him would have made him worse. He thinks Anna suspected this but didn’t say anything. The two of them bicker about how their personal issues shouldn’t get in the way of patient care. Cynthia interrupts so Doug can tell the mother of his and Mark’s patient that he died. Now Anna feels bad about her petty squabbles with Doug.

Benton wants to stay late to operate on the motorcyclist, but Elizabeth offers to do the surgery instead so he can go home to Reese. She warns that she probably won’t be this generous again, so he should take advantage. Mark prepares to give Jeremy some Haldol, but Jeremy says he doesn’t want to feel normal. Mark shouldn’t run away from fear. He needs to make friends with it and embrace the light; it’ll save him.

Carter follows Benton as he leaves, complaining that there’s no point to his mistreatment anymore. Benton tries to brush him off, but Carter refuses to let him walk away. Benton finally tosses him to the ground. That leads to more complaining from Carter, who thinks he’s earned Benton’s respect after three years. Benton says he threw that respect away when he left surgery for emergency medicine. Benton took time to mentor him, but when Carter decided to leave, he went to Anspaugh instead. Carter apologizes, but he doesn’t sound that sorry. Benton tells him to stop seeking approval.

As Doug goes back to his research, Mark tells Carol that he learned Doris’ baby died in utero two days ago. Carol’s still upset, but Mark says it’s not about whether or not he believed her story – he would have been on her side no matter what. Carol says he should have been on Doris’ side. She’s been in the ER multiple times, and Mark never gave her a pregnancy test. Mark doesn’t think he did anything wrong, and though Carol can’t really disagree, she thinks more can be done for their less fortunate patients.

Weaver’s cooled off about the Jeanie situation, but she tells Jeanie that she had the right to be mad. After all, Weaver fought for Jeanie to keep her job, and Jeanie repaid her by doing something she wasn’t supposed to. Jeanie needs to remember that her decisions affect others. Jeanie admits that if she had to make that decision again, she might do the same thing.

Mark and Cynthia leave at the same time, and she asks him to walk her to the El platform, since it’s nighttime. He offers her a ride home instead. Benton goes to Carla’s and takes in the heartwarming scene of mother and son cuddling together. Despite his difficult day, he gets to end it on a good note.

Thoughts: Daphina is played by Merrin Dungey. Jeremy is played by David Denman.

Shout-out to the girl playing Elizabeth and Benton’s patient, who truly howls like someone whose arm is falling off.

One of the other patients was drawing on his hand with a pen, and when the bus crashed, the pen got lodged in his hand. Why did I decide to watch this show again?

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