January 13, 2018

The X-Files 6.20, Three of a Kind: What Happens in Vegas…

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:31 pm by Jenn

The cigarette is a Morley, of course

Summary: Byers pulls up to a nice suburban house as he tells us that he keeps having a dream where JFK was never assassinated. The country is innocent and hopeful, people trust the government, and Byers has a sweet little family. All of his personal hopes, and those he has for the country, have been fulfilled. He has “everything that counts for everything in life.” But the dream always ends the same way – he loses everything, and ends up alone in a desert, holding his wedding ring.

In Vegas, defense contractors are gathering for Def-Con ’99 (heh). Byers is playing poker with some of them, though he’s using a fake name. He tries to get them to talk about their work, but they say they’re not doing anything new. Frohike serves some drinks, dressed as a casino employee. Byers is playing well, and no one realizes that it’s because he has Langly talking to him through an earpiece. There’s a camera in Byers’ watch, and Langly’s using it to look at the other players’ cards.

Langly helps Byers answer some questions about his work, which they think involves air conditioners. Langly tells Byers to fold, but Byers ignores him and puts down a flush. He loses, and the winning player reveals that he knows Byers and Frohike, who’s been hanging around the room, are working together. He advises them to find another game to cheat at.

Byers and Frohike meet up with Langly, who blasts them for losing $3,000. They’re trying to make some sort of undercover buy, but it’s not going well. Langly decides that the convention is a bust. Byers, however, thinks that the player he lost to is worth looking into. He wasn’t wearing a badge indicating that he’s there for the convention.

Someone knocks on the guys’ hotel-room door, and the guys get nervous, but it’s just two nerds named Jimmy and Timmy. They seem to be in competition with the Lone Gunmen. Jimmy says the theme of the convention this year is assassination; some new tech is supposed to be unveiled. But until then, would the Lone Gunmen like to join Jimmy and Timmy for a lobster buffet and strip show?

Frohike tells Byer that he’s noticed how nervous he gets when they come to these conventions. He thinks he’s on the lookout for Susanne Modeski. Byers points out that they met her at a convention. Frohike reminds him that it was in Baltimore, and it was ten years ago. Also, she’s probably dead by now. Byers disagrees – she was too important to the government for them to kill her. Frohike suggests that they take a break and get some lobster. They stop at a slot machine first, and Byers spots Susanne across the room. He follows her but loses sight of her.

Mulder calls Scully (“hey, Scully. It’s me.” Nope, not the same) at 2:34 a.m. and tells her she needs to go to Vegas. He insists it’s important but won’t tell her what it’s about. It turns out it’s not really Mulder – the Lone Gunmen are using a computer program to mimic his voice. He sounds a little robotic, but Scully buys it and agrees to fly out. Frohike knows she’ll be mad, but Byers wants help from a government agent, since they seem to be dealing with other government agents. Mulder’s known by the people who took Susanne, so Scully’s a better bet.

Langly asks Byers if he’s really sure that Susanne is there. He is. Frohike tells him to get a drink and chill out. When Byers goes to the ice machine, he spots the guy who beat him at poker. The winner knocks on a door and is greeted by Susanne. And let’s just say that she doesn’t seem to be in any kind of danger.

The guys look up the winner and ID him as Grant Ellis. He’s from New Mexico, is with the Department of Defense, and works for the same weapons facility Susanne worked for. Byers thinks that Ellis brainwashed Susanne after she refused to help out with the organization’s awful tests. Why else would she be meeting him in a hotel room and kissing him?

Frohike comes up with a plan and sends Byers and Langly to the hotel lobby while he keeps an eye on Ellis’ room. Byers and Langly are about to do…something when Jimmy and a couple other nerds spot them. The guys want to get into a certain highly guarded room, and Jimmy says he can get them in. However, he thinks the Gunmen just want to sit in on the next day’s session about the assassination technology. Byers wants in now, and tells Jimmy to prove that he can really gain entrance.

Jimmy crawls through a vent and spies on the current seminar, which is being led by Ellis. Susanne is also in attendance, and Jimmy is surprised to see Timmy in the audience. A couple of security guards catch Jimmy and pull him out of the vent. Timmy joins them and chastises Jimmy for screwing things up. They had big plans for him – they were going to make him a patsy when they employed their assassination technology. For now, though, they’ll just inject him with something.

Scully arrives in Vegas, and Byers and Langly tell her that Mulder might be out of touch for a few hours. They hear security guards talking about Jimmy and follow them outside, where Jimmy’s dead, having jumped in front of a bus. Byers is sure that’s a cover-up of some sort.

Upstairs, Frohike breaks into Ellis’ room and goes to plant a video camera in a vent. There’s already one there. Susanne comes in and Frohike hides, getting a glimpse of her as she undresses, because men wrote this episode. Someone knocks at the door, and Susanne pauses after she looks through the peephole to see who’s there: Byers.

He tells Susanne he’s there to save her, but she assures him she’s fine. Ellis isn’t her captor, he’s her fiancé. Byers asks if he dreamed Susanne’s apparent kidnapping years ago. She confirms that it happened, “but things got better.” She closes the door and goes to take a bath while Frohike escapes the room through a vent. (Lots of vents in this episode.)

Langly goes with Scully to a morgue so she can autopsy Jimmy’s body. Langly doesn’t have the stomach for it but tries to be brave. Since Jimmy’s cause of death is consistent with being hit by a bus, Langly wonders if “they” did something to make him kill himself. Scully wonders who “they” are. Good question, Scully. Langly holds on as long as he can but ultimately can’t handle the procedure. As he’s off throwing up, Scully sees the puncture wound where Jimmy was injected. Before she can do anything, Timmy arrives and gives her a puncture wound of her own.

Langly returns and finds Scully unconscious. She wakes up easily, and he guesses that she just got lightheaded from the autopsy. Whatever Timmy gave her has made her loopy, and she calls Langly “cutie.” He asks what killed Jimmy. Scully’s medical opinion is “beeeeeeep,” clap. In other words, he was hit by a bus. Langly rejoins the other Gunmen and gives them this expert opinion. Scully has gone off to do something else, and Langly thinks she’s just really jetlagged.

Frohike shows the guys footage from the camera he found in Ellis’ vent. Whatever Ellis is working on, Susanne is in on it, too. Byers insists that she’s being forced into whatever it is. She wouldn’t do something unethical, and she wouldn’t get involved romantically with Ellis. Susanne appears in the doorway and says that Byers doesn’t know Ellis like she does. She’s there to return the camera Frohike left in Ellis’ vent.

Susanne tells the guys that Ellis saved her life, and the lives of thousands of others. Frohike and Langly excuse themselves to go gamble while she explains things to Byers. Frohike calls her Mata Hari before they leave. Byers tells Susanne that he thinks Jimmy saw something he shouldn’t have at Ellis’ seminar. Susanne could be in danger, too. She says that she always is, as is Ellis.

She’s thought about what she would say to Byers if she ever saw him again. When she was taken ten years ago, “they” did things to her that made her feel like she was drowning. One day, Ellis saved her, but she wanted it to be Susanne. Ellis was working against the people who took her, stalling and sabotaging them. He reminded Susanne of Byers.

In the casino, Timmy invites Langly and Frohike to his room for a game of Dungeons and Dragons in Jimmy’s memory. Langly goes, but Frohike stays behind. He hears a familiar laugh and finds Scully in a bar, surrounded by attentive men. Someone offers her a cigarette, and she ignites the sexuality of thousands of teenagers by accepting it with her mouth. The offerer happens to be Morris Fletcher.

Scully asks for a light, and a bunch of men offer their lighters. “I just can’t decide who lights my fire,” she slurs. Frohike tells the men that Scully’s a federal agent, and if they touch her, they could be committing a federal crime. Morris is disappointed to see Scully go, but she leaves him with a “maybe next time” and a slap on the butt.

Langly arrives at the supposed D&D game, realizing too late that he’s been duped. Meanwhile, Susanne tells Byers that she and Ellis were going to go public with their research, then disappear. She thinks people are ready to accept the things Susanne and Ellis want them to know. If they don’t disappear, they’ll be killed.

Frohike brings Scully to the room; she’s all giggly, and Frohike thinks she’s drunk. Susanne knows better, immediately finding her puncture wound. She’s the one who developed the histamine gas Scully was given. Ellis had her develop a small batch so they could go public; at the same time, they’d have a weapon, just in case. Since Susanne and Ellis are the only two people who have access to the samples, and Susanne didn’t inject Scully, Ellis must be behind this.

Susanne gives Scully a counteragent as Langly joins the group. Susanne explains that the histamine messes with your higher brain function, allowing for suggestibility – in other words, brainwashing and mind control. Jimmy was told to kill himself, and Scully was told to forget her autopsy findings. So what do the bad guys want?

In a word: murder. Langly meets up with Timmy, who gives him a gun and some instructions. He sends Langly to the next session of Ellis’ seminar, where someone else is now speaking. Susanne keeps an eye on her watch. Scully, now back to normal, tries to get into the room, but the security guard outside the door doesn’t care that she works for the government; she hasn’t been authorized.

Ellis calls for a break, during which Langly approaches Susanne with his gun. He shoots her multiple times, then leaves. As Scully goes to check out the chaos, the security guard calls for an ambulance. Frohike intercepts the call, like this is Ocean’s Eleven. Scully tells the guard to detail Ellis and remove him from the room. Frohike and Byers, posing as EMTs, take Susanne out on a stretcher. Timmy kneels by Susanne’s blood on the carpet and pulls a Mulder by tasting it.

Scully takes Ellis to see Susanne, who’s perfectly fine. She confronts him for programming Langly to kill her. She was smart enough to check him and give him the antidote. They set the whole thing up, complete with fake bullets and fake blood. Ellis says that Susanne knows exactly why he set everything up: The project was over, and he didn’t need her anymore. Susanne’s upset that Ellis pretended to love her. What did he get in return? Ellis says they would have killed him if he hadn’t done their bidding.

Timmy shows up to kill Susanne, shooting Ellis first. He takes Susanne with him to gain entrance to the Lone Gunmen’s room. But Byers is ready with histamine and injects Timmy, saving everyone. While Timmy is arrested and confesses to the murders of Susanne and Ellis, Scully calls Mulder. She learns that the Lone Gunmen tricked her, and she’s just as mad as they expected she would be.

Susanne is still alive, and will now be able to fulfill her plan to disappear. She asks Byers to run away with her, but he thinks she’ll be safer on her own. The Lone Gunmen will take care of making her research public so she won’t be a target. That’s what the Gunmen do. Susanne gives him a kiss and a parting gift: Ellis’ ring. Just like in his recurring dream, Byers is in the desert, holding a ring. But unlike in the dream, he’s not alone – he has the other two Gunmen.

Thoughts: Ellis is played by the late Charles Rocket.

I didn’t like “Unusual Suspects” all that much, so I wasn’t looking forward to another Gunmen-centric episode, but this was a much better use of them.

I love drugged Scully. God bless Gillian Anderson.

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January 6, 2018

The X-Files 6.19, The Unnatural: “E.T. Steal Home”

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

I don’t know about you guys, but I do this with my co-workers all the time

Summary: In Roswell, New Mexico, on July 2nd, 1947, a light is shining over a mound of dirt. But it’s not a UFO, it’s a light on a baseball field. (The boundaries are marked by cacti, and sometimes the balls stick to them.) When a player named Josh Exley comes up to the plate, everyone in the outfield backs up. He hits a foul ball, but an outfielder has trouble finding it. Something out in the darkness tosses the ball back to him.

The catcher remarks that he heard the Yankees wanted to recruit Exley, but Exley says he enjoys the quiet of the “cactus league.” The catcher has heard rumors that Exley, who’s black, could be the next Jackie Robinson. Exley says he doesn’t want to be a famous man like Robinson – he just wants to be a man. He hits a home run, his 61st of the season, and his teammates lift him up in victory.

The celebration ends when Klan members ride onto the field on horses. Their leader shouts racial slurs at the other black players and mocks the white ones for hanging out with them. The meek pitcher, who’s been having trouble with his throws, gets in some practice by throwing at the Klansmen. One of the coaches unmasks the leader…who’s an alien.

In the present, there’s a baseball game, commentated by Vin Scully, on a TV at FBI headquarters. Scully’s annoyed that Mulder has her working on such a nice day. She asks if he’s ever thought about trying to find a life on this planet. Mulder says he’s tried, and that’s why he’s looking elsewhere.

Scully has brought in an ice cream cone – well, a nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicle – and taunts Mulder for spending the day looking through New Mexico obituaries from the 1940s. Why worry about people who died 50 years ago? They should let sleeping dogs lie. The two toss cliché phrases at each other until Mulder grams Scully’s snack from her. It falls on the book he’s been looking at, and Scully sees that he’s secretly been reading up on baseball.

Mulder waxes poetic about the things you can learn from box scores. Some things are the same as they were 50 years ago, like numbers. Scully asks if Mulder’s mother ever told her to go play outside. Mulder gets distracted by a photo of Arthur Dales and rips it out of the book. Scully calls him a rebel for defacing government property.

Mulder goes to Dales’ home (in D.C., not Florida), and is confused when the man there, who’s not Dales, says he is. He explains that he’s Dales’ brother, and for some reason, they have the same name. They also had a sister and a goldfish named Arthur. Dales knows who Mulder is, thanks to his brother; they’ve talked about him a lot (nothing flattering). This Dales isn’t interested in a chat, and he closes the door on Mulder.

Since Mulder has never given up on a possibly interesting story, he decides to ask some questions through the door. Why is Dales (not the original, as Mulder thought, but the brother he’s speaking to) in a picture with Exley, who disappeared in 1947 after hitting 61 home runs? And what about the third man in the picture, who looks just like the Bounty Hunter? Dales thinks Mulder’s uninterested in baseball, but Mulder is a big fan.

Dales invites Mulder in and looks through some boxes while talking about how “the baseball gods” could answer all of Mulder’s questions about government conspiracies. He asks Mulder if he believes that love and passion could make a man shape-shift. “What exactly has your brother told you about me?” Mulder asks.

He wants to know why the Dales brothers didn’t say anything about the Bounty Hunter, if they’ve known about him and colonization plans for 50 years. Dales says that no one would believe him. Mulder’s offended that Dales doesn’t think he was “ripe” enough to be told. Dales finds a coin bank shaped like a baseball player that he says will tell Mulder all he wants to know.

We go back in time to June 29th, 1947, when Dales (the brother, not the original, but played by the actor who played the original in Travelers – this episode is confusing) goes to a ballpark to meet Exley for the first time. He works for the Roswell police and has been assigned to serve as Exley’s bodyguard. Exley doesn’t want the protection, but there’s a $500 bounty on his head from the KKK, and Dales isn’t about to let anyone, no matter his race, religion, or nationality – even Canadian! – be murdered if he can prevent it.

Dales is playing on a Negro League team, the Roswell Grays, and they’re on their way to their next game. Dales studies French on the bus. Exley asks Dales if he can get them some police uniforms to play in. Dales jokes that, instead of the Grays, they could be the Black and Blues. The players pretend to be offended, but everyone has a good laugh. Later, after many of the men on the bus have fallen asleep, Dales wakes up during a thunderstorm and checks on Exley. He’s stunned to see that Exley’s reflection in his window looks like an alien.

In the present, Mulder thinks Dales is messing with him. “E.T. steal home! E.T. steal home!” he jokes. Dales insists that he’s telling the truth. In fact, all the great baseball players were aliens. That includes Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Willie Mays (“well, obviously,” says Dales). None of the greats fit in on Earth or in any other world. But on the field, they did. Mulder thinks he’s being metaphorical, but Dales says he only has time to be truthful. He gets a medication delivery from a kid he calls Poor Boy.

Back in 1947, two boys, one black and one white, argue about whether or not a ball Exley hit is worth anything, since he’s not in the majors yet. Dales is in the Grays’ dugout, practically part of the team now. They even share chaw with him (though it makes him sick). There’s a big crowd at the game, so Dales is on the lookout, and he tackles Exley to protect him from what he thinks is a gun. It turns out to squirt water, so Dales says Exley had a bee on him. (This freaking show and freaking bees.)

Later in the game, Exley gets hit by a pitch, and when his team checks on his mental state, he starts speaking an unrecognizable language. After a moment, he recovers, and when they ask where he’s from, he says Macon. The others don’t give the weird moment a second thought. But Dales goes to collect Exley’s glove and finds an acidic green substance on it.

Dales goes to a police station and calls Exley’s hometown, Macon, to do a background check on him. At the same time, he hands over Exley’s glove for testing. A Macon officer is very interested in Exley’s current whereabouts, as he disappeared five years ago…when he was six years old. The officer is also interested in Exley’s whereabouts because he’s the Bounty Hunter.

The two boys who were arguing earlier hang around the Grays’ dugout during their next game. The white one, called Poor Boy, tells Exley that some Yankee scouts are there to watch him. Exley plays poorly in the game, so Poor Boy thinks he’ll lose his chance at playing in the majors. As soon as the disappointed scouts leave, Exley hits a home run.

On the bus after the game, Dales confronts Exley for tanking the game, then reveals that he knows Josh Exley isn’t his real name – he took the missing boy’s identity. Exley denies that he’s from Macon, though Dales points out that he said he was after he was hit in the game. Exley says he also spoke in tongues, like he did in church when he was a kid. He says he was joking around.

Dales knows Exley’s trying to stay out of the spotlight because he’s hiding something. But tanking the game means he disappointed the fans, his teammates, and his race. That last one hits Exley hard. Dales is determined to find out his secret, but Exley warns that he’d better be looking into the right secret. In the team’s motel that night, Dales hears some noises from Exley’s room. He picks the lock, lets himself in, and sees an alien. Both of them scream in surprise, and Dales passes out.

Exley revives Dales, who immediately passes out again. Exley gives him water, but that only revives him briefly. “You’re supposed to be a big, bad policeman,” Exley chastises. When Dales is finally conscious, he thinks he’s dreaming. Exley confirms that this is what he really looks like. He shifts into the appearance of a woman, asking if that makes it easier for Dales to handle the revelation. Dales says that makes it weirder. Someone comes in looking for Exley and sees Dales with a hot woman instead.

On the bus the next day, Exley quietly tells Dales that his fellow aliens wanted him to keep to himself and not intermingle with humans. Dales guesses that he broke the rules because he came to Earth and fell in love with a woman. Exley laughs and says that he fell in love with baseball. His people don’t laugh or smile, but seeing his first baseball game brought joy out of him. It was the first “unnecessary” thing he’d ever experienced, and he couldn’t make himself go home. The players start a singalong, harmonizing on “Come and Go With Me to That Land.”

The bus’ journey turns into a ’40s TV commercial for Gray Bus Lines. The tagline, voiced over by Vin Scully, is “you can go home again.” In the present, Mulder guesses that Exley made himself appear black so people wouldn’t be suspicious not to see him in the majors. He thinks Dales is implying that Exley had something to do with the Roswell crash in July of 1947. Dales tells him to stop jumping to conclusions and “trust the tale.” Things that fascinate us are true. (This, contrary to what Dales said before, is a metaphor.)

Mulder still isn’t sure if Exley was an alien or a hybrid. He admits that he’s an idiot. As the Bounty Hunter appears on the 1940s broadcast on Dales’ TV, Dales says that since Exley had the same characteristics that make a man a man, he was human. Back in 1947, the Bounty Hunter stashes a body in a car trunk, then goes to meet the rest of the team.

Dales learns that the green stuff on Exley’s glove is from a lifeform that isn’t carbon-based. He’s called around to ask questions, but Dales tells him to keep quiet. He just wants the glove back. Exley – or someone who looks like Exley – shows up at the tech’s lab, saying Dales sent him to get his lab. He attacks the tech, then morphs into the Bounty Hunter.

The real Exley is at a ball field, and when Dales finds him there, he warns that he’s being accused of murder. Instead of running away, like Dales suggests, Exley wants to toss the ball around for a little while. He reveals that he talked to his family and wants to go home. He doesn’t have the sense of loyalty that would keep him on Earth, playing for humans. His family is still his family. Sirens approach, and Exley decides it’s time to leave. He asks Dales to tell people, including his kids, how good Exley was.

Dales doesn’t cooperate with the local cops, just telling them that Exley said he was going home. Dales refuses to betray Exley, even if it means he’s considered an accomplice or loses his job. After the police leave, Dales finds a map of the desert, with a home plate drawn on it.

We revisit the game from the beginning of the episode, and see that everyone fled after the Klan leader was unmasked. It’s the Bounty Hunter, there to kill Exley. Dales drives out there to save Exley, who says that dying would be the right thing to do. The Bounty Hunter is disgusted that Exley would risk the project for a game. Exley takes one last moment of pride in his 61st home run.

The Bounty Hunter wants Exley to show his true face in his moment of death. The Bounty Hunter goes first, morphing into an alien. Exley says that the face he’s wearing is his true face; he won’t shift. Dales arrives just as the Bounty Hunter is riding away, having icepicked Exley. Dales doesn’t care that Exley’s blood could harm him – it’s regular red blood, not green acid. Exley laughs, then dies in Dales’ arms. “Come and Go With Me to That Land” plays as current-day Dales remembers the moment. “I got a brother in that land where I’m bound,” the song says.

Scully finds Mulder at a batting cage, having been summoned by a message from “Fox Mantle.” He wants to give her a birthday present, though it’s not her birthday. Mulder knows that she’s never hit a baseball. Scully says no; she’s found more necessary things to do. He shows her how to hold the bat, telling her he’s paying Poor Boy to shag balls and run the pitching machine.

Poor Boy’s totally going to go home and tell his parents how he saw two FBI agents with their hands all over each other, because…seriously. Mulder helps Scully hit some balls, joking about all the stuff he puts her through. “Shut up, Mulder. I’m playing baseball,” she tells him. Up in the night sky, some of the stars shine brighter than the others.

Thoughts: This episode was written and directed by David Duchovny.

Exley is played by Jesse L. Martin. The second Dales is played by M. Emmet Walsh.

Darrin McGavin (the original Dales) was supposed to be in the episode but had to step out because he got sick. They wrote in the character of his brother, but I guess didn’t bother to come up with a new name.

Vin Scully (the namesake of Dana Scully, by the way) recorded his part for free because of budget issues.

December 30, 2017

The X-Files 6.18, Milagro: I’ve Heard of True Crime, But This Is Ridiculous

Posted in TV tagged at 1:30 pm by Jenn

I no longer trust men with typewriters. (Exception: Tom Hanks)

Summary: A man is sitting in front of a typewriter, staring at a blank page. He has outlined the story he wants to write, but the words aren’t coming. He tries all day but doesn’t get anything on the page. Finally, he goes to his bathroom, reaches into his chest, and pulls out his heart. It immediately becomes a New York Times bestseller, and the movie rights are purchased for eight figures. Okay, everything except that last part.

The man puts his heart in the incinerator in the basement of his apartment building, then takes the elevator back to his apartment. Along the way, Scully joins him. The writer stares at her, and she tries to hide her discomfort. They get off on the same floor, but he’s not following her – she’s in the building to see Mulder, and the writer lives next door.

Scully mentions the encounter to Mulder, who says he’s met the guy but doesn’t know anything about him other than that he’s a writer. They look at some crime-scene photos of a man who was murdered and had his heart removed, just like a previous victim. The writer listens through an air vent as Mulder says that he thinks this is a case of psychic surgery. The killer uses a branch of alternative medicine to commit murder. It’s kind of the perfect crime. Scully points out that they just have to find the killer’s motive.

The writer smokes in bed that night, unable to sleep. Meanwhile, a teen couple goes parking, though the girl, Maggie, isn’t sure she’s ready for sex. Her boyfriend, Kevin, insists that he’s not up to anything untoward. Maggie ditches her date, and when he goes looking for her, he encounters a man in a hooded sweatshirt instead. He’s still alive when his heart is ripped out. Back at home, the writer finally has inspiration to write.

Mulder gets called to the crime scene, and he phones Scully at the office to tell her their heart-removing killer has claimed a third victim. There are no witnesses and no evidence. Scully spots an envelope that was slipped under the office door and opens it. It contains a pendant. The writer voices over as he writes Scully’s thoughts about the investigation. He calls her “a marshal of cold facts” and says she’s not up to doing the job Mulder can do. He thinks she longs to let someone into her heart.

When Mulder comes to the office, Scully tells him that the pendant is a milagro, which is Spanish for “miracle.” It was dropped off with a receptionist, who couldn’t give a good ID. Mulder doesn’t think it’s from the killer, even though the pendant is shaped like a burning heart. He thinks the pendant is from a secret admirer with eyes for Scully. Mulder wants her to meet with the medical examiner to autopsy Kevin’s body, but Scully has another idea.

She goes to a church, where she pauses at a painting of St. Margaret Mary holding a burning heart. The writer joins her and tells her the story behind the painting – Jesus came to Margaret Mary with a heart so full that it couldn’t contain the flames of his love. Margaret Mary offered her own heart, and Jesus burned it with His, then returned it to her. The writer knows that Scully came just to see the painting. Scully recognizes him as the writer and asks why he followed her. He claims he didn’t; he just imagined that she would come to the church today.

As a writer, he imagines how people behave. He noticed her cross when he saw her in the elevator, and he used other pieces of his observations about her to piece together her possible movements. He admits that he sent her the pendant because he’s attracted to her. Scully doesn’t return his affections, but the writer thinks they have some things in common.

Scully leaves the church and meets up with Mulder at the morgue. She apologizes for disagreeing with his views on the milagro. Mulder, however, thinks that Scully was right. Many people who practice psychic surgery think they’re tools of God. She tells him the pendant is from the writer, who’s in love with her. She was freaked out by everything he knows about her, but she doesn’t think he’s the killer.

Mulder goes home and picks the lock on the writer’s mailbox in order to learn his name (Phillip Padgett) from his mail. Padgett comes in just as Mulder’s heading up, and the two ride the elevator together. Mulder then pretends to get Padgett’s name from the man himself. He asks if Padgett has written anything Mulder would know. Padgett says probably not. He’s aware that Mulder’s an FBI agent and asks if he’s working on anything interesting. When Mulder says he’s investigating a murder, Padgett asks if it’s anything he’d know. “Possibly,” Mulder replies.

Now it’s Mulder’s turn to listen at the vent while Padgett continues his story. It’s gross, and talks about Scully’s supposed feelings of flattery because of Padgett’s attention. (Really, though, pretty much everything he writes could be described as “gross.”) He thinks she denies herself feelings of pleasure. He imagines having sex with her, and thinks she would wonder what Mulder thinks of her.

Next door, Mulder looks at Padgett’s phone records and sees that he hasn’t placed or received any calls recently. Scully comes over, uneasy about having to pass by Padgett’s apartment. She can hear him typing. She stops at Padgett’s before going to Mulder’s and returns the milagro to him, telling him she can’t return the gesture. Padgett thinks she’s curious. She’s at least curious about the fact that he has no furniture.

Like Mulder, she asks if Padgett’s written anything she’d know. He says his books are all failures, but the one he’s working on now won’t be. Again, Padgett says that he and Scully have things in common. For one thing, they’re both lonely. Scully says loneliness is a choice. Padgett invites her to have coffee with him and make a different choice.

Mulder has gotten an idea and is looking through local papers. In one, he’s circled a Valentine’s Day message Kevin wrote to Maggie in the personals section. Next door, Scully sees that Padgett has typed, “How will it end?” on his typewriter. He tells her that she lives in his old neighborhood, and he moved into Mulder’s building because he couldn’t find a place in Scully’s. He’s writing about her, and he needs to be close to her. Scully asks to read what he’s written, but Padgett says it’s not finished.

He wants to take the conversation to the bedroom (since there’s nowhere else to sit), but Scully knows this is a bad idea. She waits while he gets a lightbulb for one of his lamps. She wonders why she’s still there when her instincts are telling her to leave. If Padgett knows her so well, he should be able to answer that. He tells her that motive is hard to figure out. Sometimes he can’t decide what it is until later.

As they sit down on the bed, the other lamp burns out. Just then, Mulder arrives, his gun drawn, and starts looking through Padgett’s manuscript. Padgett has written about the murders he’s committed, and it’s enough evidence for Mulder to justify arresting him.

At the police station, Mulder tries to get Padgett to admit that he used the personals to find victims. Padgett says he was just writing about the people he found. Scully doesn’t want Padgett to be questioned without a lawyer, but he’s willing to talk on his own. He won’t confess, saying he just wrote about murders, but didn’t commit any.

Mulder asks about a Brazilian psychic surgeon named Ken Naciamento – was he an accomplice? Padgett says he’s a central character, but characters direct the writer, not the other way around; Padgett didn’t make Ken do anything. Mulder wants to know why Padgett murdered three people. Padgett says he can’t answer that. As Mulder leaves, Padgett asks if he liked the book. “Maybe if it were fiction,” Mulder replies.

Scully has already tracked down information on Ken, who’s been dead for two years. Mulder doesn’t get how Padgett couldn’t be the killer; he wrote everything down. Scully thinks Padgett has the same skills Mulder does, to where he can imagine what a killer will do before he does it. Mulder informs her that she’s in the book, and there’s some sexy stuff in there. He assumes that didn’t actually happen.

Scully’s reading the rest of the manuscript when an officer brings her a statement Padgett wrote. It’s about grief and being heartbroken. Maggie is crying at Kevin’s grave when the killer approaches to make her his fourth victim. Scully reads the same scene and goes to the cemetery, but there’s no sign of Maggie. However, she hasn’t been seen anywhere else.

Scully tells Mulder that this could still be a product of Padgett’s imagination. Mulder thinks he just wanted to get them to the cemetery to mess with them. He sees a man in a hoodie arrive in a truck and thinks it’s Padgett, but it’s someone else. Mulder checks out the truck and finds Maggie’s body underneath piles of flowers. When Scully asks how he knew it was there, Mulder says he imagined it.

The agents head back to the police station, arguing about whether Padgett could have killed Maggie. Mulder doesn’t know how this all works, but he knows he’s right about Padgett. His idea to prove it is to tell Padgett he can go; they made a mistake by arresting him. Padgett says he also made a mistake. In his book, he wrote that Scully falls in love. Now he knows she’s already in love. (SHE SURE IS, BUDDY.)

Padgett goes straight home, ready to pick up his story where he left off. He looks up to see a man in the hooded sweatshirt Padgett wears when he kills people. It’s Ken, and he’s ready to see what happens in the story. Padgett can’t figure out the motive, though. Ken says that Padgett imagined him so perfectly that he made him real. Padgett says he needed the perfect crime. He thinks Scully would be horrified if she knew what Ken has done. Ken himself is horrified, but he wants to know why he kills. Padgett says it was all to meet Scully. Ken says that’s not a reason, it’s an excuse.

The agents hook up surveillance equipment through the vent so they can spy on Padgett. They don’t see Ken in the apartment; they just see Padgett staring at his typewriter. Padgett gives him the manuscript and says he misjudged Scully’s character. The men ask each other Ken’s motives, but Padgett says he doesn’t know. Ken says he’s a tool of the truth. He imagines that he can open his heart and expose the flames of passion inside, but he doesn’t have that power.

Padgett argues that he does have love in his heart. Ken compares it to the love of riches that a thief has. Man’s only true power is destruction. Padgett asks what the end of his story is. Ken says there can only be one true ending if he wants perfection: Scully dies. “It almost writes itself,” Ken says.

On surveillance, the agents see Padgett getting back to his manuscript. They see him leave and Mulder follows him to the incinerator, where he starts to burn his writing. Mulder stops him, hoping to keep him from destroying evidence. Upstairs, Scully is about to follow when she runs into Ken.

Mulder wants to see what Padgett wrote. “I’ll tell you,” Padgett replies. “He kills her.” As Ken tries to make this fiction a reality, Padgett tells Mulder that Ken told him how the story ends. Mulder’s confused, since they thought he was alone. Mulder is able to hear Scully shooting at Ken, so he runs up to save her. Padgett burns his manuscript, and when Mulder reaches Scully, she’s alone and still. She’s bloody, but she’s alive.

Padgett voices over his ending: He knew no one could ever read what he wrote. He had to commit a final act of destruction and give what he couldn’t receive. He’s dead, having ripped out his own still-beating heart.

Thoughts: Padgett is played by John Hawkes.

In the cemetery, there’s a closeup of a tombstone for Diana and Nicholas Salinger, the parents from Party of Five.

Padgett is like Shawn from Psych, if Shawn were a serial killer. You know, I might watch that show.

I guess Padgett wasn’t stalking Scully the day she became immortal.

December 23, 2017

The X-Files 6.17, Trevor: A New Twist on Climate Change

Posted in TV tagged at 1:31 pm by Jenn

Yeah, well, I want the last hour of my life back, so I guess we’re both out of luck

Summary: In Jasper County, Mississippi, a tornado is coming, and inmates at a prison camp are hurrying to board up their cabins. One, Whaley, says that the boards won’t do much good; they need to dig a hole and get underground. Another inmate tells him to shut up and help already. Whaley doesn’t like this disrespect and starts mocking the other inmate. For that, he gets a nail through the hand.

The nailer, Rawls, is sent to the “box,” even though a storm is coming. The warden doesn’t care, saying he can’t be responsible for acts of God. Rawls is placed inside a structure that looks like an outhouse. In the morning, when the tornado has passed, the box is gone, and there’s no sign of Rawls. The warden is dead, his body having somehow been ripped in half.

The warden’s body is sent to Jackson, where Scully gets to autopsy it. Since it looks like it was sawed in half, she asks if they should arrested David Copperfield. “Yes, we should. But not for this,” Mulder replies. He IDs the warden as Raybert Fellowes, and tells Scully that there was no blood found on the scene. Scully says he wasn’t just cut in half; a lot of his midsection is missing. He may have been burned with acid. There was also no trace of that in the office.

Scully suggests spontaneous human combustion, thinking that’s what Mulder will offer up as an explanation. “Dear diary, today my heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested spontaneous human combustion,” Mulder remarks. Scully admits that it’s happened a couple times, so it’s possible. Then she tells him to shut up, even though he hasn’t said anything.

Mulder and Scully chat with one of the prison guards, who blames Rawls for Fellowes’ murder. Part of the box was found three miles away, and no human could have gotten into the office, so Rawls, who’s presumed dead, must have murdered Fellowes as a ghost. Scully’s still on the spontaneous-human-combustion theory, since climatic conditions seem to be involved in those instances. The tornado could have contributed.

Mulder thinks Fellowes was murdered, so Scully asks how Rawls could get into a locked office, then prop Fellowes’ body against a door. Mulder finds a piece of the wall that crumbles and suggests termites. The agents look into Rawls’ past, which details a history of violence and robbery. There’s a picture of him with a woman.

In Meridian, Mississippi, a buttoned-up couple has tea while watching a news story about the tornado. When the woman, June, hears Rawls’ name, she fumbles her teacup. That night, a security guard comes across Rawls in a destroyed general store, where he’s getting some new clothes. The guard handcuffs Rawls to a pole and moves away to call in the situation. Rawls escapes his cuffs, then steals the guard’s car.

The agents meet up with the guard, and Mulder easily breaks the handcuffs. Meanwhile, Rawls goes to his last house and tears the place apart looking for something. A buddy named Bo comes by to tell him that the news is saying he’s dead. Rawls asks about June, and Bo says she took off a long time ago. “I want what’s mine,” Rawls says. Bo says he’ll look up her address, instead going for his gun. Rawls is a step ahead and isn’t concerned about being shot. When Bo fires at him, the bullet does nothing to Rawls’ body.

The agents arrive at the house sometime later and find Bo’s corpse. Whatever happened to Fellowes’ midsection has also happened to Bo’s face. The agents think Rawls came there looking for the $90,000 he once stole. They guess that Rawls will next go looking for the woman in the picture: June. Mulder finds flattened bullets in the wall, but one disintegrates when he breaks it.

Scully finds info on June, though there’s no record over her after 1996. Mulder guesses that she changed her name so she wouldn’t end up like Bo. The state police have put out an APB on Rawls, and Mulder says they shouldn’t shoot to kill, since that won’t do anything. He thinks the bullets went straight through Rawls; he seems to have the ability to pass through solid objects or turn them to dust. Scully asks about the science behind that – it’s basically alchemy. Mulder blames the tornado.

The agents have a phone number for June’s sister, Jackie, who later calls June to warn that the police want to talk to her. June believes the news report that Rawls is dead, but Jackie suggests that she call him just to make sure. Moments after the sisters hang up, Jackie hears an intruder in her house. It’s Rawls, of course. Jackie barricades herself in a bedroom as Rawls strips. He gets into the room and corners Jackie just as the agents are arriving. They find “I want what’s mine” written on a wall. Rawls is gone, but he left Jackie alive.

The agents make arrangements for Jackie and her young son so they’ll be safe. Bo’s car, which Rawls stole to get to Jackie’s, is still on the street, so the agents aren’t sure how he’s moving around now. Scully would also like to know more about Jackie’s claim that Rawls came through her bedroom wall. They head to Meridian to find June, unaware that Rawls is hiding in the trunk of their car.

June’s boyfriend greets the agents when they arrive, unaware that his girlfriend used to use a different last name. She guesses that Rawls is alive and will be coming to visit her. She tells the agents that she and Rawls used to be involved, and he was pretty volatile. He won’t stop until he gets what he wants. June claims that she didn’t know about the $90,000 until Rawls was already in prison. She found it accidentally and used it to buy and furnish her house. Her boyfriend, Robert, isn’t happy about this revelation.

The agents want to put June and Robert in protective custody until Rawls is found. Robert doesn’t think he’s in danger, and I’m guessing he also doesn’t want to have to spend 24 hours a day with June. The agents let him go, then start to head off with June, their car trunk now empty. Mulder sees a crack in it and realizes that Rawls used them as a Trojan horse.

Mulder goes back inside the house, where a naked Rawls is searching for his money. It’s hard to play cat and mouse when the mouse can move through solid objects, so Mulder’s at a disadvantage. Scully comes inside and finds “I want what’s mine” written on a wall. Well, not written – more like burned, the way Fellowes’ midsection and Bo’s face were basically burned away.

Mulder sees that the writing stops at the frame around a mirror and thinks this is significant. Electrostatic repulsion stops one solid object from interacting with another. Could Rawls’ ability have to do with electricity? That would mean he can’t pass through rubber or glass. Scully wonders why Rawls is after $90,000 if he can just pass through the wall of a bank and steal more. The agents realize he’s looking for something else. Some old hospital bills of June’s contain a clue: Seven years ago, just months after Rawls was sent to prison, June had a baby.

June is now in protective custody, and she wants to call Jackie, but the guards assigned to protect her say no. They won’t let her smoke in her non-smoking motel room, either. They’ll probably also have rules about whether or not Rawls can come through the ceiling.

Sometime later, the guards in the room are dead and June is gone. The agents don’t know where Rawls and June’s child is, so they can’t get there before the parents do. Mulder asks for some “special equipment.” Elsewhere, Rawls has pulled over his stolen car and is ignoring June while she tries to apologize for taking the money. He finally asks if she had a boy or a girl. It was a boy, Trevor. Rawls is mad that June never told him about their son.

Someone in the prison camp told Rawls that he had a child, which Rawls thinks is a message from God. God also gave him a way to escape the camp, so whatever happens must be God’s will. He demands that June tell him where to find their child.

As Mulder and Scully make calls to find out where Trevor is, Mulder gets some rubber bullets. There are no adoption records, so they wonder if someone in June’s family took in her child. They quickly realize that Jackie’s son must be June’s. They’re right, and as Mulder calls Jackie to warn her that Trevor could be in danger, June and Rawls arrive at her house.

Rawls thanks Jackie for taking care of his son, then goes in to talk to Trevor, who has no clue who Rawls is. He also thinks June is his aunt. Rawls shoves June in a pantry, then tries to reassure Trevor. As they chat, Jackie eyes the pot of soup she’s been cooking. June listens from the pantry as Rawls tells Trevor they’re going to pack up for a trip. Jackie sends him off to pack, then picks up the pot and throws its contents at Rawls. Unfortunately, they pass right through him.

Jackie yells for Trevor to run as she tries to fight Rawls. He goes after the boy, but the agents arrive and Scully runs off with Trevor. Mulder’s rubber bullets slow Rawls down a little, but he’s still able to pass through the wall of the house and hide inside. (It’s actually a cool special effect – Rawls disappears and we just see his clothes slide down the side of the house.)

Scully and Trevor make it to the car, but Rawls is close behind them. For some reason, there’s a phone booth on the property, and since Rawls can’t pass through glass, Scully hurries Trevor to it and they’re able to hide inside. Rawls uses a rock to break the glass, but when he sees how scared Trevor is, he backs off. He goes out to the road just as June drives by. The car passes right through him until his the windshield reaches him and kills him. Shaken, June says she doesn’t know what Rawls wanted. Mulder thinks he just wanted another chance.

Thoughts: Calling this episode “Trevor” was dumb. They don’t even mention his name until 3/4ths of the way in.

Someone at Fox must be wondering why I downloaded their app and then chose this as the first episode to watch.

A phone booth?? Who has a phone booth on their property??

December 16, 2017

The X-Files 6.16, Alpha: Doggone

Posted in TV tagged at 1:19 pm by Jenn

Yes. Good

Summary: A freighter in the Pacific Ocean is carrying something angry from Hong Kong. A couple of men take a peek inside and see the creature’s red eyes. It starts rattling its crate, then falls silent, making the men wonder if they’ve somehow killed it. They open the crate, which is probably a mistake, because when the freighter arrives at its destination, the police are called.

The crate is still locked, but the men are missing. The cargo’s owner, Detweiler, is annoyed that no one called him the second it arrived, so he could care for the creature inside. When the crate is opened, the men’s bodies are found inside.

Mulder starts in on the case that night, telling Scully that they seem to be dealing with a case of death by…dog. The real mystery is how the men got inside the crate when it was found locked. In addition, the dog is gone – or, as Mulder says multiple times, trying to make his joke stick, “doggone.” No one’s examined the victims, so Scully gets volunteered.

She tells Mulder that bite wounds don’t kill, so the men must have bled to death. She can’t believe Mulder really wants her to believe that a dog pulled them inside his locked crate and killed them. “A bad dog,” Mulder replies.

In Bellflower, California, a good dog named Jojo barks at another dog just outside its fence. The owner goes to check out the other dog, but there’s nothing there. When the owner goes inside, he finds Jojo bleeding. A wolf-like dog with red eyes is now in the house, ready to take another victim.

Mulder and Scully go to San Pedro the next morning to look at the crate. They meet up with an officer named Jeffrey Cahn who tells them the dog doesn’t seem to be on the freighter, judging by a lack of waste. He adds that Detweiler is a cryptozoologist, something Mulder is very familiar with. Why would someone who studies Sasquatch and the Abominable Snowman be interested in a dog?

Detweiler joins the group and presents his theory that someone stole his dog – it’s a valuable wanshang dhole. Mulder knows that it’s supposed to be extinct. Detweiler claims he caught one on an expedition. He denies that the dog could have killed anyone; yes, it has mythical qualities, but it’s not a predator. The news out of Bellflower seems to contradict that.

The agents head to the house where Jojo and his owner, Jake, were attacked. Scully learns that Jake was a customs agent and may have been involved in stealing the wanshang dhole. (Look, I’m not going to type that over and over; we’ll call the dog Fang.) Mulder makes a quip about biting the hand that feeds you, which makes no sense, but it’s Mulder.

Scully notes that since all the doors to the house were shut, Jake must have been keeping Fang inside. Mulder asks how Fang got out if all the doors were closed. He doesn’t think Fang is a dog at all. He rewards Scully a biscuit for saying that Fang is able to cover up human crime scenes. Now they need to look for a dog that thinks like a human. Mulder thinks the best person to turn to is a human who thinks like an animal.

The agents go to meet a woman named Karin Berquist, who seems to be the Jane Goodall of canines. Mulder reveals that Karin’s the one who told him about the case. He’s interested in her field of study and has read one of her books. Karin happens to have an “I want to believe” poster.

Karin comes in with her dogs and closes all the blinds. She tells the agents that dogs are smarter than people. She talks about coyotes hunting in packs, and murder being a human thing. She also believes that the wanshang dhole is extinct. The agents don’t find her helpful, and Scully wonders how she and Mulder met in the first place. He admits that they’ve only chatted online.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer named Fiedler goes to an alley to check out a possible scavenging. He finds a hand in a Dumpster, most likely Jake’s hand, which Fang tore off. Fiedler goes into a nearby building, followed by a shadow that first looks human but then turns into Fang. RIP, Fiedler.

The agents and Cahn check out the scene the next morning, and Cahn tells the agents to do everything they can to find Fang. Karin arrives, having heard the story on the news: “Dog eats dogcatcher.” Mulder asks her why an animal that supposedly only kills when it needs to eat has now killed four people for apparently no reason. All of the victims may have come into contact with Fang before the attacks.

Karin thinks Fang is displaying regular alpha behavior. Mulder tells her that Fang is traveling a number of miles between killings, and seems to be tricking his victims. Karin says that canines are pretty direct and have simple motives. Most don’t kill for sport. However, she figures they’ll never know why Fang’s been acting the way he has, since someone will kill him before they can find out.

Mulder points out Detweiler, and though Karin isn’t familiar with him, she dislikes him on sight. Detweiler tells the two of them that his team tracked Fang for two weeks, then tranquilized him to catch him. Karin thinks that Detweiler admires Fang. He says he admires Fang’s ability to survive.

As Cahn talks to someone about getting together a group to kill Fang, something that seems to be low to the ground watches him. But it’s Detweiler who approaches Cahn. He has a warning: If Cahn kills Fang, Detweiler will kill Cahn.

Karin finds tracks in the building where Fiedler died, and is able to tell that Fang is highly evolved. Unlike other dogs, Fang has an extra toe pad. Scully notices Mulder’s hand on Karin’s while moving around a computer mouse, and because this show is run by men, of course she’s jealous. Scully notes that Karin said yesterday that a dog couldn’t act like Fang is; now she’s saying it’s practically Jack the Ripper. Karin says that in myth, the wanshang dhole can manipulate doors and exhibit other trickster behavior. Maybe there’s some basis in fact.

Alone in their car, Scully tells Mulder that she’s not sure about Karin’s motives. Maybe she’s arranged things so she could meet Mulder. Mulder denies that Karin killed four people just to meet him. Scully warns him, “Don’t underestimate a woman. They can be tricksters, too.”

Detweiler goes to an animal clinic, where a Saint Bernard named Duke barks at him. Detweiler’s there to get a tranquilizer. As the vet locks up for the night, saying good night to some of the dogs, they start getting agitated. Fang is there, and he wants to play! Or maybe kill. Yeah, probably kill. The vet is able to get away and trap Fang in a kennel. The police arrive and shoot, but they accidentally shoot Duke instead of Fang. Noooooooooo! (Fortunately, he’s not dead.)

The agents come in as the vet finishes patching up Duke. He wonders how Duke got back into the kennel, since the door was chained. Scully takes a look around and sees that the vet has a signed photo of Karin. She hears someone yelling and finds the vet bleeding next to Duke’s exam table. As the agents go off to call paramedics, Duke turns into Fang.

Scully visits Karin, having figured out why she likes her office dark and why she always wearings long sleeves: She’s sensitive to light and wants to cover up skin lesions caused by lupus. Karin finds it ironic that she studies dogs and has a disease named for wolves. She says she’s always felt more like a wolf than a person anyway. Scully thinks Karin lured Mulder out to California. “I lack your feminine wiles,” Karin snarks.

She’s not sure the wanshang dhole has survived all these years after supposedly going extinct, but if it did, it’s too smart to have been captured by someone liked Detweiler. It’s too cunning. Scully wonders if it’s more cunning than Karin. Scully’s been watching her. Karin says she’s been watching, but not seeing.

Mulder looks through the vet’s drawers, then calls Cahn to tell him that Detweiler was there to get tranquilizers. He asks Cahn to go to the lab and check something out. But Cahn won’t be going anywhere except the hospital – Fang is in his backseat, waiting for him.

Cahn survives the attack, and when Mulder goes to see him in the hospital, he finds Detweiler already there. He wants to know what Cahn’s attacker looked like. Mulder asks if Detweiler’s scared about Fang possibly being killed. He seems to know that it can’t be caught. In fact, Fang caught Detweiler. Now, at night, Detweiler becomes a trickster – a man who turns into an animal.

Mulder knows that Detweiler is the real killer, and murders just because he can. He got the tranquilizer for himself, hoping to stop the killer. Mulder figured it out when he found traces of the tranq in blood found at the clinic. Instead of, like, arresting Detweiler or trying to detain him in any way so he can’t hurt anyone else, Mulder lets him walk out. Detweiler runs into Karin, who says she won’t protect him any longer.

Mulder goes to see Karin at her office, where she says that she can get a sense of people right away from her dogs’ behavior – they’re excellent judges of character. At least one of her dogs likes Mulder, so that’s a plus. He’s guessed that Karin knows more about Fang than she’s said. She admits that she knew Detweiler was the real killer, but she only confirmed it when she saw him.

Karin thought she was protecting an animal, but now she knows that he has to be put down. She guesses that Detweiler will go back to finish off Cahn. Mulder calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to send her over to protect Cahn. He meets her there, and she complains that he’s wasting her time, since she hasn’t “seen hide nor hair” of Detweiler. Mulder praises her choice of words.

Scully scoffs at Mulder’s theory that Detweiler is going to turn into a dog, then come back to finish off Cahn out of a territoriality. She thinks Karin has manipulated the whole situation for her own purposes. Mulder is sure that Karin’s right and Detweiler will come back.

Karin kennels her dogs for the night, looking out into the conveniently atmospheric fog rolling in around her house. It’s 2 in the morning, and Scully has fallen asleep during her and Mulder’s stakeout. Mulder realizes that Karin lied to him, so they don’t need to stay.

In reality, it seems that Karin may have wanted to keep the agents out of the way so they’d be safe. She loads up a gun as Detweiler/Fang comes to her house. Mulder calls to say he and Scully are on their way and she needs to lock her doors. Fang comes into the house silently and faces off with Karin. She puts down her gun and lets Fang do what he wants – in this case, jumping on her so hard that he pushes her out a window. By the time the agents arrive, Karin’s dead – but Detweiler is, too, having accidentally impaled himself on a fence.

Back in D.C., Mulder’s blaming himself for the way things turned out. He beats himself up for believing Karin’s story so quickly. Scully asks why he wouldn’t believe her. Karin lived by her instincts and judged them pretty quickly; she saw Mulder as a kindred spirit. In a way, bringing him into the case was a way of demonstrating that she thought he was a good person. Scully gives Mulder a package that arrived from Karin’s kennels: her “I want to believe” poster. He immediately puts it on his wall.

Thoughts: How do I get Karin’s job, hanging out with dogs all day?

Please, show, I beg of you: Enough with Scully’s jealousy.

Karin calls Mulder by his first name at one point, but no one makes a “fox and hound” joke. What a waste.

December 9, 2017

The X-Files 6.15, Arcadia: It’s Mulder’s Worst Nightmare: Rules

Posted in TV tagged at 1:41 pm by Jenn

Everything about this is perfect

Summary: In San Diego County, a man named Kline is arriving home at his gated community, the Falls at Arcadia. Everything in the neighborhood is idyllic and well-maintained. One of Kline’s neighbors, Win Shroeder, has just painted Kline’s mailbox so it’s up to code. Kline complains to his wife about the strict regulations in the community, and how Win painted their mailbox because it was a slightly different shade from all the other mailboxes. The Klines receive a package containing a tacky roof accessory that Mrs. Kline knows the neighbors would hate.

This is just what Kline wants, so he puts the accessory (which features a man chopping wood when the wind blows a propeller on the side) on a gutter. That night, the Klines hear a noise in the house, and Kline goes to check it out, taking a trophy with him as a weapon. He finds huge, bloody footprints leading into the living room. Something attacks him from behind, then moves upstairs toward Mrs. Kline, making the water in her bedside glass shake like this is Jurassic Park.

A few months later, a new family, the Petries, moves into the Klines’ house. Neighbor Pat Verlander is there to welcome them with a gift basket. Mr. Petrie is excited to live in such a great place, though this wife is much more reserved. This makes perfect sense, since the Petries (“Rob” and “Laura”) are really Mulder and Scully. Pat warns that they might not make the 6:00 p.m. cutoff for moving in that day. It’s just one of the community’s many rules.

The house shows no traces of the Klines’ inevitably gory deaths, and Scully wants to send the previous owners a thank-you note expressing her appreciation for how well they maintained their home. Pat just says that’s sweet. Other neighbors, including Win and a guy named Gordy, gather outside to help with the move-in and greet the Petries. Scully rushes to stop a guy named Mike from damaging the contents of a box labeled “china.” Win’s wife Cami helps her carry it inside.

Win anxiously tells Mulder that he can’t put up a basketball hoop without special permission from the president of their homeowners association, Mr. Gogolak. For now, it needs to stay in the garage. Everything else gets moved into the house by the cutoff, and everyone rushes off to do their no-doubt Stepford Wife-like evening activities. The Petries are alone in their new home, and Mulder wants to carry his “bride” over the threshold. Scully most likely wants to shoot him with a crossbow, which is probably against community regulations.

The agents get to work examining the house for forensic evidence. By dropping the “china” box, Mike accidentally damaged a piece of equipment that would have allowed them to look for bloodstains, but Mulder doesn’t think that’ll matter; the house is immaculate.

Scully videotapes their process, mentioning that the Klines were the third couple to disappear since the neighborhood was built eight years earlier. All of the couples were seemingly stable with no signs of domestic issues or mental illnesses. In each case, the couples’ personal items and cars also disappeared, and police found no clues as to what happened. All the neighbors were unaware that the couples were gone, despite, as Mulder points out, their apparent closeness to everyone in the community.

The police have now turned to the FBI, and Skinner has sent Mulder and Scully to the community undercover to investigate a “possibly murderous conspiracy of silence.” Mulder courts a sexual-harassment lawsuit by asking if Scully wants to make a honeymoon video. She slams him for their aliases, saying she’s choosing the names if they ever go undercover again.

Mulder promises that he’s taking the case seriously, though he doesn’t know why they’re on it. Scully notes that it involves something unexplained; just because it doesn’t involve aliens doesn’t mean it’s not an X-File. He teases that she just wants to play house. He demands that she make him a sandwich. Instead, she throws her gloves at him and goes to answer the doorbell.

Mike has come over to give the Petries some dishes to replace the china he broke. Scully admires his caduceus necklace, and he tells her he’s a veterinarian. If the Petries want to get a dog, he’ll check it out for them for free, but they can’t get one over 16 pounds, as per the community’s rules. Scully wonders why the Klines left, since everyone in the neighborhood is so nice. Mike runs away before he has to answer any questions. Back inside, Mulder finds something on a ceiling fan that must have been overlooked when the house was cleaned. It looks like blood.

The other neighbors have dinner together and talk about the Petries. Mr. Gogolak dismisses the women from the table, then asks Win, Mike, and Gordy if they think the Petries will “play ball.” Mike suggests that they tell the couple what’s really going on. They might be able to keep up with all the rules better if they knew what would happen if they didn’t. It would be neighborly to tell them the truth. Gogolak gives Mike his blessing, but as soon as Mike leaves the table to use the bathroom, Gogolak sends Gordy after him, then tells Win that Mike is a weak link. They can’t be a strong chain with him hanging on.

Later that night, Mike watches a TV show about a tribe that performs a ritual to expose nonconformity that they think comes from evil. Mike notices that the bulb in the streetlight outside his house has burned out, and he rushes out to change it. A pair of eyes watches from the darkness as he anxiously ensures he’s conforming. Even though he fixes the bulb, a muddy creature attacks him, spraying Mike’s blood all over his doorstep.

The next morning, Mulder and Scully find Win spraying the blood off the doorstep. He asks how their first night was in the new house. Mulder tells him they “spooned up and then fell asleep like little baby cats.” He calls Scully “honeybunch”; Scully, who both hates him right now and has never used a term of endearment toward anyone she’s not related to, calls him “poopyhead.” Win tells them that Mike had to leave town on business, as he often does. Sometimes he’s gone for weeks at a time.

Win invites the Petries to join him and Cami for dinner that night. Mulder asks who he needs to talk to about putting up his basketball hoop. He and Scully meet Mr. Gogolak, who looks through the community’s rulebook and announces that the basketball hoop isn’t allowed. Why, if they allowed such a thing, soon the neighborhood would collapse under the weight of tacky lawn decorations and boats in the driveways! “In other words, anarchy,” says Mulder, who has his arm around his fake wife’s shoulders.

Gogolak says that the Falls is one of the top-ranked planned communities in the state. Many of the families there have been there since it was built. Mulder admires Gogolak’s decorating scheme, which Gogolak says is mostly Tibetan. He runs an importing company and can get them some rattan furniture, if they’d like. (Indoor furniture only, of course.)

The Petries have dinner with the Shroeders, who promise that their tuna is dolphin-safe. Mulder says that he and Scully met at a UFO conference. Win’s surprised that they’re into that stuff. Mulder says that Scully’s the real believer; she’s a sucker for things like crystals and magnetic bracelets. He then reveals that they called Mike’s office to talk about pets, and they said they didn’t know where he was. Win plays innocent as Cami tries not to stare daggers at her husband. He says very seriously that there’s nothing shady going on at the Falls. They’re living the American dream.

Cami needs to walk the dog, so Scully invites herself along. She and Mulder give each other air kisses before the women leave. Scully takes the opportunity to ask Cami if she really thinks the community is the American dream. Cami says it’s full of people who want the best for their families. Scully interprets that as Cami’s admission that she doesn’t hold their values.

She notes that they keep walking past Mike’s house, but Cami plays dumb. Suddenly, the dog, Scruffy, takes off down a sewer. Scully has a flashlight with her, and though she can’t see the dog in the sewer, she does see a caduceus necklace. Scruffy pops back up, and Scully wipes something off of his face. As the group heads back home, something lifts a nearby manhole cover.

Back at home, Scully makes a call and learns that the local police don’t have any leads on Mike’s disappearance. Mulder has retrieved the necklace from the storm drain, and since it’s bloody, he thinks Mike is dead. They figure that Win must have been cleaning up the crime scene that morning. Scully plans to drive to a lab in San Diego the next day to have the necklace analyzed. But tonight, she’s going to criticize her new roommate’s habits (strike two is the way he squeezes a tube of toothpaste, and strike three is leaving the toilet seat up. No word on what the first strike was).

Mulder reacts to the sight of Scully in a green face mask the way he might react to seeing an actual alien right in front of him. She wonders what a murderer’s motive would be for doing away with Mike. Mulder notes that everyone’s obsessed with the neighborhood’s rules; Scully fits in very well. He has a theory he wants to test out the next day. He invites his fake wife to join him in bed, but Scully isn’t taking the role-playing that far. (Not yet, at least. In season 7, who knows?)

While Scully does some actual work the next day, Mulder puts a plastic flamingo in the yard and drinks straight from a carton of orange juice (that has to be strike four). Seconds later, the flamingo is gone. Next, Mulder kicks the mailbox post until it’s tilted, opens the box, and splashes juice on it.

He watches the yard from the window, but after a few hours, all that orange juice catches up to him and he has to go use the bathroom. (He decides against using the juice carton, which would have been strikes five, six, and seven). When he gets back to the window, the mailbox has been fixed. Inside is a note: “Be like the others…before it gets dark.”

Instead of listening, Mulder wakes up his neighbors by playing basketball with his new hoop after dark. Win runs over and tries to move the hoop inside, but Mulder won’t let him. As something pushes through the Shroeders’ yard, Win tells Mulder that he was warned. The men hear Cami screaming, but when Mulder runs over to check on her, he doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Win and Cami do, though – their streetlight has burned out.

Scully comes home from San Diego and hears a noise in the house. Mulder’s still checking out the Shroeders’ yard, where he finds a hole under the grass. Scully searches the house with a fireplace poker as a weapon, spotting something moving behind her out of the corner of her eye. Before she can find it, Mulder comes home. The basketball hoop has been removed from the yard, and Mulder thinks someone – or something – is cleaning up after them. This is probably a good thing, as Mulder caught a glimpse of the creature and now thinks they’re dealing with an X-File.

Win visits Gogolak to ask what he and Cami did wrong. Does he disapprove of their welcome mat or the way Win coils the garden hose? He knows they’re at risk from whatever killed Mike. Gogolak tells him that Mulder is causing trouble, and he’s a rotten apple that will spoil the whole neighborhood.

Mulder and Scully find a hole in their yard, making Mulder think that the thing after them travels in the ground. Scully, as usual, has her own theory, as well as lab results. The blood they found on the ceiling fan is actually ketchup and brake fluid. The things they thought were hairs stuck to it are really bristles from a scrub brush. The stuff she wiped off of Scruffy was just the kind of thing you’d find in the garbage. The neighborhood was built on a landfill, so the holes in the yards may have come from the venting of methane gas.

Scully can’t find a connection to the disappearances, but Mulder thinks the couples are still in the neighborhood – they’re buried in people’s yards. Starting an excavation could mean breaking their covers, but Mulder has a better idea: Dig a big hole in the front yard and pretend they’re putting in a pool, which, amazingly, isn’t against the rules. As the neighbors watch the construction, Gogolak tells Win, “Let him dig his own grave.”

Mulder searches the hole that night but doesn’t find any bodies. He does, however, find their roof accessory. A sticker on it shows that it came from Pier 9 Imports, Gogolak’s company. Mulder tells Scully to get an excavation team out there to dig deeper. He’s going to see Gogolak to “price some rattan furniture.” As they split up, the creature surfaces from the hole.

Scully’s calling in a forensic team when she hears noises downstairs and realizes she’s in danger. As the creature thuds up the stairs, a bloody, grimy, not-dead Mike suddenly appears and tells Laura that she needs to get out of the house. He tells her he was attacked by “the ubermenscher,” and the community brought their problems on themselves. They have to deal with something the original homeowners wanted for themselves.

Mike explains that he tried to offer up Win, the way Win offered him up, but it didn’t work. Now the ubermenscher wants Scully, since Mulder broke the rules. He barricades her in a closet and faces the creature with a gun. A fight ensues, but Mike’s bullets don’t seem to be a match for the creature, which starts tearing at the slats in Scully’s closet door.

Mulder is having better luck, as he’s cornered Gogolak and tied him up for an interrogation. He accuses Gogolak of giving the Klines the “whirligig” that got them killed. He’s figured out that Gogolak learned some tricks in Tibet and was able to create a tulpa. It’s a thought-form he willed into existence to commit acts of violence for him. Is it really that important for everyone to have the same mailbox? Goglak says it’s important for everyone to fit in. Mulder knows that the tulpa is now out of Gogolak’s control; all he can do is stay out of its way.

Gogolak taunts that Mulder will never be able to get the authorities to believe this theory or arrest Gogolak. Mulder responds by taking Gogolak to his house and handcuffing him to the mailbox while he goes inside to check on things. Win arrives, and Gogolak tells him that his new neighbors are FBI agents – but they won’t be Win’s neighbors for long.

Mulder finds the bedroom destroyed and Scully still in the closet, unharmed. Gogolak asks Win to free him from the mailbox, but Cami tells her husband that Gogolak deserves whatever happens to him. Mulder hears yelling from the yard and rushes down in time to see the creature attacking Gogolak. As it approaches Mulder, it suddenly disintegrates, turning back into the mud it came out of.

As the case gets wrapped up and the Petries move out (Mulder tries in vain to straighten the mailbox post), Scully voices over her report. A number of neighbors have pinned the murders in the community on Gogolak, though they won’t take any responsibility for Gogolak’s death, and they all say they don’t know what killed him. Scully notes that the community’s code of silence, which “hid the sins” around them, is still intact, and has now claimed a final victim: the person who created it. The Falls is still one of the top planned communities in California.

Thoughts: Mike is played by Abraham Benrubi. Win and Gordy are both played by recurring Will and Grace actors, Tom Gallop (Rob on W&G) and Tim Bagley (Larry).

For more fun with pretend marriages in seemingly idyllic communities, see the Alias episode “Welcome to Liberty Village.” For more fun with tulpas, see the Supernatural episode “Fan Fiction.”

Heh, right after the Jurassic Park tribute scene, my recording of this episode showed an ad starring Jeff Goldblum.

For some reason, one of my most vivid memories from the first run of the series is Mulder kicking the mailbox.

I love all dogs, but Scruffy, who’s aptly named, doesn’t exactly fit the community’s aesthetic standards.

December 2, 2017

The X-Files 6.14, Monday: Yesterday Was Monday, But Today Is Monday, Too!

Posted in TV tagged at 1:12 pm by Jenn

Sadly, this can’t play “I Got You, Babe”

Summary: Police are gathering outside Cradock Marine Bank when Skinner arrives to speak with a police lieutenant named Kraskow. A man inside has taken hostages, and two of Skinner’s agents are among them. Though he doesn’t name them, who else could it be but Mulder and Scully? A woman in the crowd yells at Skinner not to let this happen. He just wonders how she knows his name.

Inside the bank, Scully is trying to help Mulder, who’s bleeding from a gunshot wound and doesn’t look good. The other hostages are quiet. The gunman has a bunch of explosives strapped to his body, and Scully tells him things don’t have to end like this. As a SWAT team moves in, he says it does. Scully yells, “NO!” as the explosives detonate, filling the bank with fire and smoke.

Mulder wakes up in his waterbed, which has sprung a leak during the night. The water shorted out his electricity, so his alarm clock didn’t go off. His cell phone is also out of commission from the water, but his watch tells him it’s 7:15 on Monday morning. Mulder goes to get a pot to catch the water from the leak, but trips on a shoe on his way back to the bedroom to answer the ringing phone. His downstairs neighbor is also getting wet from the leak. Mulder isn’t even sure why he has the waterbed he’s not supposed to have; he thinks it was a gift.

At work, Scully finds Mulder in his office instead of in the meeting they’re supposed to be in together. He tells her he’s having a horrible morning and needs to go to the bank before he can do any work. If he doesn’t deposit his paycheck right now, the check he wrote his landlord to cover the damages from the waterbed will bounce. Scully remarks that she’s had a lot of horrible mornings, too, since she started working with him. She’s also surprised that he has a waterbed.

Mulder heads to the bank, where the gunman and the woman from the crowd (Pam) have just pulled up. The gunman, Bernard, says he’ll only be inside for ten minutes. When Mulder arrives, Pam comments to herself, “Right on schedule. Poor guy.” They look at each other before he crosses the street to the bank, which she says he’s never done before. Mulder gets in a long line to make his deposit, frustrated that he has to wait. Across the lobby, Bernard writes a note: “This is a robbery.”

At FBI headquarters, Scully’s back in the meeting, which is dragging along without Mulder’s report. At the bank, Bernard writes, “This is a robbery” over and over, then pulls out his gun and tells everyone to get down on the floor. He methodically robs each teller, not noticing when one presses a silent alarm. Mulder’s like, “My day somehow managed to get even worse.” And then things continue to go bad when Scully arrives to look for her partner.

Mulder tells Bernard that he forgot to lock the front door. Bernard rushes to do so, but Scully has already seen what’s going on. While Bernard is distracted by her arrival, Mulder goes for his weapon, but Bernard is faster and shoots him. Scully has no choice but to drop her own gun. Back at FBI headquarters, news of the hostage situation comes in. Pam waits until the SWAT team has moved in, then gets out of the car, almost as if she’s following a script. Just like we saw before, Pam addresses Skinner, this time telling him not to let the SWAT team go inside.

Scully tends to Mulder’s wound, telling Bernard that the authorities won’t call like he thinks they will. He won’t tell Scully his name, so she considers calling him Steve until he tells her he’s Bernard. She begs him to let her get Mulder out so he can get medical attention. Since the authorities can’t see Bernard, they don’t know about the explosives. If he just walks in front of the door and shows them the explosives, everyone will stay safe.

Bernard accuses her of wanting to get him killed. She says she just wants everyone to live. “You have control over everything that happens here, and it doesn’t have to end this way,” she says. As before, the SWAT team moves in, and Bernard says it does have to end this way. Scully yells, the bombs go off, and…

Mulder wakes up again in his flooded waterbed. That’s right, woodchuck chuckers: It’s Groundhog Day! Mulder’s morning proceeds the same way it did previously, only this time he doesn’t trip over his shoe until after he gets the call about his neighbor’s apartment. The phone rings again, but Mulder ignores it, missing a call from Pam.

Bernard catches her on the phone, but she won’t tell him who she was calling. He demands that Pam come with him to the bank. She encourages him to just go to work instead; he won’t get fired. Bernard doesn’t care, since he just mops floors anyway, so it’s not like he’d be making a big career misstep. He has a plan, and thinks by this time tomorrow… “Everything will be roses,” Pam finishes for him.

Mulder and Scully’s conversation proceeds differently from before; this time he asks if she’s ever wanted to rewind and start a day over. She says yes, but restarting a day doesn’t mean it’ll end up differently. He asks if that means everything is left to fate, and people have no free will. Scully says that our decisions and character have an effect on what happens. Mulder says that every decision changes your fate – not getting the waterbed might have meant he was on time to work, but Scully staying in medicine probably would have meant they’d never meet.

Scully says Mulder can change his fate by letting her deposit his check while he goes to the meeting. So Scully’s the one at the bank when Bernard writes his note, which this time says, “This is a holdup.” Mulder realizes he gave Scully the pay stub, not the check, so he has to go to the bank after all. Pam sees him walk by her car and addresses him by name, telling him not to go in the bank, since Bernard’s inside. He doesn’t know who she is, but she tells him that every day, he goes in the bank, and every day, everyone inside dies.

Mulder keeps a poker face as he repeats that he passes Pam every day. She tells him that the last time, he seemed to look at her like he knew her or remembered her. “Please remember me,” she says. They hear a gunshot from the bank, and Mulder runs across the street, finding Scully and Bernard in a standoff. When Mulder won’t drop his weapon, Bernard threatens to shoot Scully. Mulder asks what Bernard thinks Mulder will do then.

Bernard shows off his explosives to let everyone know he’s serious. Mulder uses his name, realizing what Pam was trying to warn him about. A woman has been shot, but she’s still alive; Scully tells Bernard that means he’s not a murderer yet, so he can still end this without too much damage. A teller warns that the police are coming since she tripped the silent alarm. Bernard drops his gun, then moves to detonate his explosives. This time it’s Mulder who yells, “NO!” Outside, Pam sees the blast and cries.

Mulder’s in bed again, and soaked again, and this time knows what his first phone call is about. Scully calls his cell phone but gets a recording telling her the customer can’t be reached. Pam shows up to tell Scully not to go to Cradock Marine today, and not let Mulder go either. If they go in, they’ll die. Pam gets escorted out as Scully wonders what that was all about.

She goes to Mulder’s office to wait for him, telling him his cell phone isn’t working. Mulder gets a sense of déjà vu, as he did when he woke up in the leaky bed. He talks about the Freudian theory that déjà vu is the opportunity to “have a second chance to set things right.” Scully wonders what he’d be setting right. “Whatever’s wrong,” he replies. Scully asks if he really thinks he’s lived this moment before. Mulder says maybe he’s meant to do something different and change fate. But first he needs to go to the bank.

Scully tells Mulder about Pam’s warning that they shouldn’t go to Cradock Marine this morning. She describes Pam for Mulder, who doesn’t find her familiar. Scully decides that it could have been a prank. Mulder says he’ll use the ATM so he doesn’t tempt fate. Scully goes back to the meeting and worries about her partner while he tries to use the ATM but finds that it’s out of order.

He sees Pam across the street and recognizes her from Scully’s description. He asks her if they’ve met, and she says they have, more times than she can count. Their encounters are always different but end the same way – with his death. “Don’t you see?” she says. “We’re all in Hell. I’m the only one who knows it.” The first time around, things didn’t end the way they were supposed to, and now they’re stuck reliving the same experience over and over.

Mulder finally grasps that Pam is saying they relive the same day over and over. She says she’s tried everything to keep Bernard from robbing the bank, even going so far as to call the police on him, but it’s like he’s meant to come there. And Mulder and Scully always come as well, throw things into chaos, and get everyone killed. Mulder wonders why he doesn’t remember any of this but Pam does. She says he’s asked that at least 50 times, and she still doesn’t know.

After so many dozens of attempts to change things, Pam has realized that Mulder is the variable that makes everything end badly. That means he’s the only one who can make things end well. He just needs to walk away. So Mulder goes back to work…but Scully has left the meeting to find him at the bank. Moments after she arrives, Bernard kicks off his holdup.

Mulder shows up as Scully is reaching for her gun. Bernard sees her, and Mulder is able to get off a shot and take Bernard down. But Bernard still has the explosives, and the agents are no match for them. “He’s got a bomb,” Mulder says to himself over and over, trying to make himself remember when he relives the day again.

Waterbed, alarm clock, 7:15 on Monday. Mulder goes to the bank as Pam prepares for another cycle. Bernard asks why she’s always in a bad mood. “‘Cause nothing ever changes,” she replies. She and Mulder look at each other as he arrives at the bank, and he asks if he knows her, since she looks familiar. She doesn’t tell him anything. Inside, he sees Bernard writing his note and starts murmuring to himself, “He’s got a bomb,” remembering exactly what he wanted to.

Scully gets pulled out of the meeting when Mulder calls from the bank. He sends her to talk to Pam, telling her that Pam will know what they need to discuss. As Bernard writes, “This is a robbery” over and over, Mulder hands over his gun. He knows why Bernard is there, that he’s with Pam, and that he has explosives. Mulder doesn’t want anyone to die. He knows something bad is supposed to happen, and he’s going to prevent it.

Mulder tells Bernard that he can walk out the door and change his fate. Instead, Bernard uses Mulder’s gun to start the holdup. Scully enters with Pam, and Mulder tells Bernard that somehow, he’s making Pam live the same horrible day over and over. All of them are resigned to the same fate. Pam’s in Hell, and Bernard can’t want that for her. Bernard argues that he’s doing this all for her.

Mulder tells Scully to put down her gun, since Bernard has a bomb. She does, and Pam tries to convince Bernard to walk out with her. But the police are arriving, and Bernard thinks the agents have tricked him. He tries to shoot Mulder, but Pam jumps in front of him and takes the bullet instead. Devastated, Bernard drops to his knees, making it easy for Mulder to arrest him. “This never happened before,” Pam tells Mulder.

The next morning, Mulder wakes up on his couch. Scully calls from the office (“Mulder, it’s me,”), and Mulder checks the time, seeing that it’s now Tuesday. Scully and Skinner both want answers about the robbery, specifically how Mulder know about Pam and the explosives. They think Pam was an accomplice, but Mulder thinks “she was just trying to get away.” He sees in the paper that Pam died, making her the variable that changed fate and finally stopped the endless cycle.

Thoughts: I really love this episode. I wish it got more attention, but I think it gets overlooked because it’s buried between two more memorable episodes.

The late Carrie Hamilton is so good as Pam. The first time I watched, I didn’t know who she was; watching again, knowing she was Carol Burnett’s daughter, I could see the resemblance.

My recap title comes from the Supernatural episode “Mystery Spot,” in which Sam has the Pam role and Dean has the Mulder role. It’s funnier than this episode, but also has some very emotional elements.

If we take away anything from “Monday,” it’s that direct deposit could save your life.

November 25, 2017

The X-Files 6.13, Agua Mala: There Must Be Something in the Water

Posted in TV tagged at 1:19 pm by Jenn

“Hi. This says I just owned you”

Summary: Goodland, Florida, is in the midst of a hurricane, and it’s causing flooding in someone’s trailer home. A woman tries to board up the windows and doors while yelling for her son, Evan. Evan’s more worried about his father, but his mother needs his help dumping the water out of their washing machine. Evan goes behind the machine, where some sort of tentacle tries to strangle him. As Evan’s mother frees him, the tentacle pulls her underwater.

Arthur Dales leaves Mulder a message on his answering machine telling him that he’s gotten a distress call from a neighbor, and Mulder needs to come to Florida and look into it. Hurricane Leroy is still approaching, and will make landfill in the next three or four hours. Evan’s family, the Shipleys, have disappeared, but they don’t appear to have evacuated.

Despite the pounding rain, Mulder and Scully make it to Dales’ trailer in Goodland. Dales has told Mulder that he thinks a sea monster is responsible for the Shipleys’ disappearance, and though Scully doesn’t buy this, she still came all the way down there. She sees a bunch of empty bottles and notes that Dales likes to drink.

Dales ignores her and tells the agents that Sara Shipley called to tell him that something with tentacles grabbed her husband, Jack, in their bathroom. Sara and Jack are both marine biologists, so Dales figures they would know what they’re talking about. But now the whole family’s missing, and Dales couldn’t get any help from local authorities, so he wants Mulder and Scully to investigate.

Scully wonders why Dales moved to Goodland in the first place. He tells her he came for the weather. He adds that she shouldn’t turn up her nose at mysteries: “The bottom of the ocean is as deep and dark as the imagination.”

Mulder and Scully go over to the Shipleys’ trailer, which is boarded up from the inside, making their exit even more mysterious. Mulder finds a gooey substance on a drain pipe and, of course, touches it. The washing machine lid starts opening and closing on its own, so Mulder uses a broom handle to open it. Inside is the Shipleys’ unharmed but annoyed cat.

The agents find the boarded-up bathroom door, and as they’re trying to get it open, a sheriff’s deputy named Greer interrupts them. He wants to arrest them for breaking and entering, ignoring them when they say they’re looking for the Shipleys, and that they’re FBI agents (“don’t all the nuts roll downhill to Florida”). He also doesn’t care that they know Dales, a known drunk. For all he knows, the agents are looters or part of the Manson family.

Thanks to a distraction from the cat, Mulder’s able to nab Greer’s gun. Scully finally flashes her badge, proving that she and Mulder are FBI agents. Greer backs down, though he still needs to file a report. Mulder says that first he needs to help get into the bathroom. Meanwhile, Scully goes to the car to make a phone call. Mulder joins her and tells her that the bathroom was empty except for more goo and water on the floor. It was as if someone left the tap running before boarding up the door.

Scully tells her partner that the airport is closing, so if they want to get out before the hurricane hits, they need to go now. Mulder still wants to know what happened to the Shipleys, but Scully doesn’t think Dales’ suspicions are unfounded. There’s no sea monster here. Mulder says something that sounds like narration from a documentary about the ocean. Scully replies that maybe he is a member of the Manson family.

She continues that the local authorities are handling the search, so there’s nothing for the agents to do in Goodland. As far as she’s concerned, they’ve fulfilled their duties. Mulder thinks they should at least update Dales, so they go back to his trailer. As they leave, Dales finishes his search of the trailer, seeing water come up through a drain in the floor. He unscrews the drain and makes the stupid mistake of reaching inside, but all he encounters is a sports jersey.

The road Mulder and Scully need to take to the airport is closed, so they’re stuck in Goodland for the night. The deputy who sends them away makes the same comment Greer did about nuts rolling downhill to Florida. Mulder decides to end the argument, since Scully’s never going to convince the deputy to let them through.

Greer goes to a condo complex to check on some residents who are stranded without power. He doesn’t realize that the Shipleys’ cat has hitched a ride on the underside of his car. Greer knocks on some doors to see who’s home, but no one answers. A door creaks open, and when Greer goes inside to investigate, he finds someone on the toilet, covered in goo. A tentacle reaches out from the goo and grabs him.

Scully calls the sheriff’s department to get directions to an emergency shelter. She and Mulder happen to be on the same road as the condo complex. Scully loses the phone connection, and Mulder predicts that one day, they’ll look back on this experience and laugh. Since debris is starting to fall on them, Scully thinks they should pull over. Mulder believes they’d be smarter to keep driving, since they’ll be a moving target and harder to hit.

Fortunately, Mulder wises up and pulls over at the condo complex when he sees Greer’s car. They head inside winding up in the same condo Greer investigated. He’s alive but having trouble breathing. While Scully prepares to use her medical skills to get him an airway, Mulder checks out the goo on the toilet. He finds a watch in the bowl and makes a dumb-even-for-him remark about “passing the time.”

Mulder assists Scully as she cuts a hole in Greer’s throat to help him breathe. There are welts on his neck that make Mulder think he was stung. He believes the attacker came up through the plumbing, which means it could reach other people in the building. Mulder goes off to check on the other residents as Scully calls paramedics for Greer. Dales hears the call on his radio, laughing when Scully says Greer was attacked by something unidentified.

Mulder continues Greer’s work of knocking on doors, coming across a guy who may be looting. Another man, Walter, is relieved to see Mulder, since he and his pregnant wife have been waiting for help. Walter doesn’t recognize the looter, who promises to put back what he tried to steal. Mulder goes to check on Walter’s wife, Angela, who reveals that she’s not actually his wife, since he’s apparently not man enough to earn her commitment. Also, she’s not in labor, so she doesn’t need immediate help.

Walter tells Mulder that everyone in the complex seems to be gone except for a man named George. Walter offered to help George, but George told him to go away. Mulder checks on him and gets the same response. George promises that he’s armed and ready for whatever comes his way – Cuba, Castro, revolutionaries, etc. “All the nuts roll down to Florida,” Mulder murmurs.

Walter and Angela join Greer and Scully, who thinks Greer is suffering from an infection by a foreign organism, possible a waterborne parasite. Angela blames the horrible living conditions. She and Walter wonder where Harry, the landlord, is; he needs crutches to walk, and the crutches are still there, so he couldn’t have left. The looter joins the group and becomes Angela’s next target of criticism.

Mulder pulls Scully away from the others and tells her they need to leave ASAP. Scully tells him the roads aren’t passable, and she’s hesitant to move Greer anyway. George hears them talking and realizes they’re federal agents. His own condo is leaking from the ceiling, and there’s a tentacle in his light fixture.

Scully checks on Greer, seeing something under his skin. His temperature is 106, so Scully tells someone to get ice from the freezer and fill a bathtub with cold water. The looter is reluctant, since Mulder thinks whatever they’re dealing with is in the plumbing, but Scully doesn’t care. She pulls a small tentacle from Greer’s skin as the looter follows her orders.

As the men in the group tend to Greer in the tub, everyone hears gunfire from down the hall. Mulder runs to George’s condo, where he’s shooting at the ceiling. He tells Mulder that it’ll take more than his weapons to kill the thing in the ceiling. Scully thinks he just mistook a burst sewage pipe for a sea creature. Mulder thinks the thing burst through the pipe and is now somewhere else in the building. Scully argues that they don’t know that they’re in danger; they just need to stay calm.

Back with Greer, the looter tries to use soap to get the deputy’s wedding ring off his finger. He slips and knocks some things into the tub. Mulder and Scully catch him leaving, and he pretends everything’s fine. Angela needs to use the bathroom, but Walter reminds her that the sea creature is in the plumbing. Angela will take the chance. Mulder realizes that the hurricane is how the creature got access to the plumbing in the first place. As Angela uses the toilet, a tentacle prepares to grab Greer again.

Mulder and Scully continue arguing about whether they’re dealing with something from Jules Verne. They’re interrupted when Angela comes out of the bathroom screaming. She says she saw the creature, and that it has “giant arms like an octopus.” Mulder checks it out but only finds Greer’s clothes and the things the looter knocked into the tub, including a box of Epsom salt. Greer is gone. “I think the deputy went out with the bathwater,” he says.

Mulder decides that no one has seen the sea creature because it doesn’t just live in the water – it is water. It only takes the shape of a creature when it attacks. Scully points out that in that case, the tentacle she pulled out of Greer wouldn’t be visible. She thinks water attempts to kill the creature. Mulder says that maybe the creature uses people’s bodies to reproduce, and the tentacle is in a stage of the process where it hasn’t fully developed. This means the creature turns people into more creatures.

Realizing that they definitely need to leave, Mulder takes a head count and sees that the looter is missing. Mulder can’t find him, but he does see something wriggling around in a ceiling light. It breaks through, and when Mulder returns to the group, he’s covered in welts and having trouble breathing. George locks him out, refusing to let in someone who’s been infected.

Scully argues that she should be allowed to try to save her partner, especially since she’s a doctor. Angela speaks up that she also needs medical attention, as her water just broke. As Mulder runs around in the condo, Scully calls on the rest of the group to help her deliver Angela’s baby. She admits to George that she’s never delivered a baby before, but hey, she’s calm and at least has medical knowledge, so I’d say Angela’s luckier than she could be.

The group tries not to focus on all the water filling the light fixtures as they deliver the baby. Meanwhile, Mulder, who’s collapsed in a hallway, hears the Shipleys’ cat outside, seemingly unbothered by the rain. As Scully prepares to deliver the baby, she realizes something about the water. But she doesn’t have time to think about it, as the baby comes out just as a tentacle bursts through a light fixture and grabs George around the neck. Scully tells Walter to grab George’s gun and shoot at the sprinkler in the ceiling.

The next morning, the hurricane has passed and everything’s peaceful in Goodland. Mulder shows Dales his welts, which don’t seem to be causing him any trouble. Scully reports to the men that the baby has been named after his father. Dales thinks it’s great that they came to hunt a sea creature and instead delivered a baby. Also, Scully got to save her partner’s life.

The three discuss how Scully realized that fresh water killed the sea creature. Mulder says that the cat gave him the idea, since it was saved by hiding in the washing machine. The Shipleys were taken because the creature came up through the plumbing, and Greer was taken because there was salt in his bathwater. Dales praises Scully for saving Mulder and says he wishes he’d had a partner like her when he worked on the X-Files. If he had, he might not have retired. He wants to toast the agents, but they refuse to drink his water. Womp womp.

Thoughts: Greer is played by Joel McKinnon Miller, doing more police work here than he’s done in five seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine…where his character’s name is Scully. (Cue X-Files theme music.)

This episode often makes people’s lists of the worst from the series, but I didn’t think it was that bad. It’s no “Shapes” or “Teso Dos Bichos.”

I like that an episode called “Bad Water” takes place in a town called the opposite – Goodland.

Someone should check on that cat. It was way too calm about all that water.

November 18, 2017

The X-Files 6.12, One Son: No, Seriously, Trust No One

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:19 pm by Jenn

“What do you mean, this ‘isn’t an appropriate substitute’ for our loved ones? We folded it into a triangle!”

Summary: Mulder voices over about two fathers, CSM and Bill Mulder, who fought a 50-year war that served as the “dawn of Armageddon.” We flash back to October 13th, 1973, as the men in question gather at an airplane hangar to greet a group of aliens with an American flag. Mulder says they had to choose between fighting or fleeing.

Back in the present, Cassandra’s pleas for Mulder to shoot her are interrupted by a bunch of men in Hazmat suits who spray them and the apartment with something. They explain that they’re with the CDC and are quarantining Mulder, Scully, and Cassandra. Fowley’s with them, and she tells them they’ve come into contact with “a contagion of unknown origin.” The agents undergo decontamination showers and try not to look at each other naked. They’re then scanned with meters, but the men in Hazmat suits won’t tell them anything about what’s going on.

Scully guesses they’re at Fort Marlene, a facility equipped for high-risk contamination. Fowley apologizes to the agents for how the quarantine had to begin, but Cassandra underwent an experiment that killed seven doctors, so they have to take a lot of precautions. Scully points out that Cassandra was in a regular hospital for a week, and only then did Spender tell Fowley to call in the CDC. It looks really suspicious. No one’s sick, so why has Cassandra been isolated?

Mulder tries to quiet Scully, who’s determined to see Cassandra. Fowley reminds Scully that she was suspended from the FBI, so she has no rights. As the agents go to get new clothes, Scully makes sure Mulder knows how much she despises Fowley. She thinks they’re using Cassandra’s supposed infection as an excuse to stage a “high-tech government kidnapping.” But Mulder says Skinner told him he heard Spender calling the CDC.

Scully reminds her partner that Cassandra wasn’t sick; she just asked Mulder to kill her so all the tests and questioning will stop. Scully can relate, since she was also abducted and then underwent scrutiny afterward. She believes that Cassandra has been taken away so the process can continue. Mulder disagrees – he thinks Cassandra really is “the one.”

Krycek looks over Cassandra’s medical records and tells CSM and some other Syndicate members that Mulder’s suspicions seem to be correct. The rebel aliens want to keep the Syndicate from killing her. They know that when the aliens learn about her, colonization will begin. CSM thinks that’s exactly what should happen. They need to hand Cassandra over to the aliens and save themselves.

A Syndicate man argues that this is what Bill warned them would happen. CSM reminds him that Bill sacrificed Samantha because he know this day would come. They don’t have a choice now, if they want their living loved ones to stay living, and their dead loved ones to come back.

The agents are, indeed, at Fort Marlene, and not under much security, since Mulder’s allowed to wander around in search of a pair of shoes that fit. He spots a familiar woman and follows her to a room full of plastic-covered equipment. It’s Marita, and her eyes are red from all the Syndicate’s tests. She tells Mulder that Cassandra’s part of the hybrid program, but Marita was infected with the black oil so a vaccine/cure could be tested on her.

Mulder realizes that the hybrid program was never expected to succeed. It was just a way to buy time while the vaccine/cure was developed. Cassandra was an accidental success. Marita knows that colonization will begin if the aliens learn about her.

Spender and Fowley visit Cassandra, telling her they’re keeping her there to protect her from CSM. Spender promises that she won’t have to undergo any more tests. Cassandra tells him that he doesn’t understand what will happen to both of them if “they” find her out. She’s willing to be hurt or even killed if it means everyone else on the planet is protected. Spender just leaves the room.

I guess the quarantine’s over, because Mulder and Scully go see the Lone Gunmen. Scully asked the guys to dig up info on Fowley, and she wants to present Mulder with the truth about a woman he thinks he can trust. She spent seven years in Europe, working with a counter-terrorism unit, but there’s no information available on what she did there. Her travel records were purged from her FBI files, but the Lone Gunmen were able to find out that she traveled to all sorts of MUFON chapters.

Mulder doesn’t find this significant, but Scully thinks Fowley was monitoring abductees and the tests they underwent. She points out that Cassandra is the ultimate test subject, and Fowley’s watching over her – it all makes sense. Scully can prove or disprove Mulder’s beliefs, but not when Fowley is keeping them from seeing Cassandra. Why did Fowley come back into Mulder’s life just when he was getting closer than ever to the truth?

Scully says that Mulder always tells her to trust no one, but he trusts Fowley. Mulder argues that Scully hasn’t given him any reasons not to. Scully replies that she can no longer help him. Maybe she’s making things personal, but without the FBI, that’s all she has. If Mulder takes that away, there’s no point in her continuing.

Mulder goes to the Watergate Apartments to see Fowley; when she doesn’t answer her door, he picks the lock. He searches through her things for a minute, then gets interrupted by CSM. Mulder pulls a gun on him and reveals that he knows CSM’s real name. He has nothing to lose now. CSM says that Mulder couldn’t shoot him the last time he had the opportunity; why should this time be any different?

CSM says he’s looking for Spender to confront him for switching sides. Mulder doesn’t know how CSM can think his side is the wrong one, since the Syndicate’s side is the one doing experiments on innocent women. CSM says Bill had the same views back in the ’70s, but he came around to CSM’s side and gave up Samantha. Mulder says that Bill was forced to give her up. CSM tells him he’s wrong.

Over another flashback to 1973, CSM tells Mulder that their super-top-secret group had voted to align with the aliens. Bill objected, even though the agreement meant avoiding an alien invasion. CSM argues that they saved billions of lives, including Mulder’s. We see Bill arguing with CSM as the group’s family members, including Cassandra, arrive at the hangar. Mulder realizes that the men willingly gave up their family members “like they were things.”

CSM says the family members were sent away because it was the right thing. They would be experimented on, but they would come back to their families. The men made the painful decision to let the aliens take their loved ones, and they had to watch it happen. Mulder points out that Samantha was taken from the family’s house, not a hangar. CSM tells him that Bill refused to give up a member of his family, but the aliens insisted on taking someone. Without Samantha, the Syndicate couldn’t proceed.

The aliens provided the Syndicate with an alien fetus, from which they could use an alien genome to create an alien/human hybrid. They would create a new race that could survive the alien holocaust. Mulder would also survive, and live to be reunited with Samantha. CSM confirms that the plan was just to stall and use the alien DNA to make a vaccine/cure. Now it’s too late, and colonization will begin.

First a state of emergency will be declared. Then the bees will deliver the alien virus. Then the aliens will take over. CSM knows his only choice is to hand over Cassandra. Mulder tells him to stop it, or he will. CSM says he won’t if he wants to see Samantha again. Mulder points his gun at CSM again, demanding that he stop the colonization so people won’t die. His mistake is thinking that CSM cares about anyone except himself. Bill wanted Mulder and Samantha to be reunited, and Mulder will realize that, as his father’s son. If he doesn’t, he’ll “die in vain” with everyone else. “Save her. Save yourself,” CSM says.

Spender goes looking for CSM at the Syndicate’s headquarters in New York, but Krycek tells him that the group has all dispersed. They’re in West Virginia, awaiting colonization. CSM is going to get Cassandra, and the guards Spender has watching her will most likely not be any match for him. Krycek is right, and CSM’s people easily get access to her and drug her, even as she swears and yells at them.

CSM wants to chat with his ex before they go on their road trip, which means he has to listen to her call him a bastard and a coward. He wants to talk about the future, not the past. Cassandra notes that he stole her past from her. CSM says that they’re only alive because of what he did in the past. Cassandra didn’t understand before why she was abducted and experimented on, but now she knows it was because of CSM.

He swears that he wanted to save her and Spender, not cause any harm. Cassandra says that CSM can never save Spender now that he knows what his father has done. The only way to save everyone on the planet is if CSM kills Cassandra. But CSM still can’t do it.

Mulder’s still at Fowley’s apartment when she gets home. He tells her he came looking for evidence that her loyalties are with anyone other than him and the X-Files. Though he didn’t find anything, fate found him. He realized that the choices he thought he had in life were made for him. Mulder says that CSM is looking for Spender, who’s now fighting for the same cause Mulder used to fight for.

Mulder now knows it’s futile, though, since there’s no way to stop the colonization. Giving up is the only way to save everyone. Mulder gives Fowley the location of the first steps of the colonization process, El Rico Air Force Base. They need to go there if they want to survive. In response, Fowley kisses Mulder.

Spender goes looking for Cassandra at Fort Marlene but instead comes across Marita. She asks him for help, knowing that the Syndicate is going to abandon her there. He doesn’t know her, but she knows who he is and claims she can help him, since she knows where Cassandra is being taken.

Someone retrieves the alien fetus from a cryolab, warning an intruder that she’s at risk for contamination. The intruder is actually an alien rebel, though, so she’s not too worried. Meanwhile, Mulder calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to tell her that he and Fowley are coming to get her. Scully wants to take Mulder to Cassandra; Spender told her they’re taking his mother back to Potomac Yard.

The agents head over and, for some reason, fire their guns at the train car carrying Cassandra. They don’t stop it, but at least now the experimenters on the train know they’ve been found out. Mulder and Scully get a ride to El Rico from Skinner, where others have already gathered. CSM and Cassandra join them, and CSM tells the other Syndicate members about the gunfire at Potomac Yard. He notices that Krycek isn’t there.

That’s because Krycek is back at Fort Marlene to get the alien fetus. Of course, it’s already gone. On his way out, he runs into Spender, who says that security won’t let him take Marita out of the facility. He wants to help her tell her story of what CSM did to her. Krycek tells Spender it doesn’t matter – the rebels took what they came for, so they’re going to win.

Fowley arrives at El Rico just as the aliens arrive, reenacting the scene from 1973. The Syndicate members are confused; supposedly no one contacted the aliens to tell them they were ready. There’s a mole in the group, one of the rebels, and he alerted his buddies that it was time to attack. As CSM and Fowley escape, the other Syndicate members and their loved ones are burned alive.

Kersh receives photos of the aftermath from Mulder, Scully, Skinner, and Spender, and expresses sympathy over the (alleged) death of Cassandra. (She’ll be in season 11, so who knows?) Spender takes responsibility for all the deaths, and credits Mulder and Scully for their work trying to prevent them. He thinks Mulder and Scully should be reinstated to the X-Files division so they can prevent worse things from happening. Spender himself is ready to leave the FBI.

Kersh asks why Mulder never gave him any answers before now. Mulder’s like, “I’ve spent years saying this stuff; no one ever listened to me.” The Syndicate members made the choice long ago to align themselves with the bad guys, but instead, they allowed another enemy to take hold. “The future is here. All bets are off,” he says. Kersh asks Scully to make some sense of this, but Scully sides with Mulder.

Spender finds CSM in his office, looking at a picture of himself with Bill in 1973. He tells Spender who Bill is, that he was a good man who betrayed CSM. Spender isn’t up for a father/son reunion, and CSM isn’t that surprised, though he’d hoped his son would honor him “like Bill Mulder’s son.” CSM pulls a gun and seemingly shoots Spender, then leaves with the picture.

Thoughts: It’s not mentioned in the episode, but IMDb lists a character as “C.G.B. Spender’s daughter,” indicating that he and Cassandra had another child, and she was the one CSM gave up to the aliens. That would definitely explain why Cassandra hates him so much.

What kind of lax medical facility is Fort Marlene running, where Mulder and Marita could cross paths?

And in a similar vein, Fowley should have better security for someone who works on such super-top-secret projects.

The scene where Mulder and Scully shoot at the train is so unintentionally funny. What, exactly, did they think the bullets would do?

November 11, 2017

The X-Files 6.11, Two Fathers: Hey, Big Spender

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:09 pm by Jenn

Hey, Skinner, can you let them have a family moment without lurking around?

Summary: Doctors in Hazmat suits operate on someone in a train car. The patient’s blood comes out green, and her incision immediately heals. A doctor named Openshaw comes to the train in Potomac Yard in Arlington, and is told that his work is completed. He goes in to see the patient, who he’s been working on for 25 years. A colleague leaves to celebrate with the other doctors but is immediately set on fire. The fire-starter, whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut, goes into the train car and sets Openshaw on fire as well. He then turns his attention to the patient: Cassandra Spender.

“This is the end,” CSM announces to an unseen audience, noting how unbelievable it seems. No one could have scripted what happened. They had a “perfect conspiracy” with aliens who wanted to destroy the planet. Their job was to prepare the way for the invasion and help the aliens create a slave race of alien/human hybrids. The plans were secret for more than 50 years, and they would have been successful if an alien race hadn’t interfered – and if CSM’s own son hadn’t betrayed him.

Skinner visits Spender in his office to catch up on whatever Spender’s been working on for the past few months. He knows Spender’s been spending most of his time looking into Cassandra’s disappearance, and he has some news. The two men go to Potomac Yard, where only two people survived the fire-starter’s spree. Cassandra is one of them, but she won’t tell the agents what happened. She only wants to talk to Mulder. Spender resists the request, but Skinner wants to bring Mulder in. He asks if Spender is afraid of the truth. If he really wants to know what happened to his mother, he should take advantage of the resources available to him.

CSM continues his tale, saying that Spender refused to believe that Cassandra had been abducted by aliens. Even after CSM got Spender placed in charge of the X-Files, he still couldn’t believe in the possibilities of aliens. When he finally came around, he turned to Mulder instead of to CSM. Mulder’s currently playing basketball (because David Duchovny likes to show off) and being super-white with “street” slang. Scully finds him and tells him that he needs to come to work for once, since there’s an X-File waiting for him.

They head to the office, where Spender tells Mulder that Cassandra wants to talk to him. Mulder wants a polite request, and when Spender won’t offer it, Mulder tells him to find the truth himself. Meanwhile, CSM goes to the medical center where Openshaw worked and looks in on the doctor, the only other survivor of the fire-starter’s attack. He’s in a hyperbaric chamber and covered in bandages, but he’s conscious. CSM learns for the first time that “Cassandra is a success.”

CSM says that the timing is wrong. Openshaw tells him that he’s prepared a syringe for Cassandra. CSM thinks she was saved to expose them. Openshaw warns that Cassandra will be given medical tests, so she needs to be terminated. He knows he’ll be questioned next, which means he needs to be terminated, too. CSM does the honors. “A man should never live long enough to see his children or his work destroyed,” Openshaw says before dying.

CSM calls a man in Silver Spring, Maryland, to tell him about the fire-starter’s attack. He’s summoning the Syndicate for a meeting. But just then, a man who looks like Openshaw shows up at the Syndicate member’s door. The Syndicate man tears off Openshaw’s face, but it’s not enough to keep himself from being burned alive.

Mulder looks through pictures from Potomac Yard, though he tells Scully he’s not working on the case. He thinks Spender offered him the case as a set-up. Scully sees the burned bodies in the pictures and thinks this is exactly what happened in the memories she recovered through hypnosis. She thinks Cassandra may be able to expose who abducted Scully. Mulder’s still hesitant to talk to her, so Scully says they can see Cassandra without Spender finding out.

Scully goes to see her first, surprised to learn that Cassandra’s medical problems have been resolved, and she no longer needs a wheelchair. She plans to keep her stories to herself this time around, since no one has believed her abduction tales in the past. The only person she’ll tell is Mulder. The two meet up with him, and Cassandra announces that Samantha is with the aliens. Scully asks about the train car and the operation. Cassandra says the doctors there were working with the aliens. She’s always thought the aliens had come to do good, but now she knows that’s wrong.

Cassandra continues that the aliens have come to take over the universe. They’re infecting everything living with their life force, black oil, which they call purity. (This explains the substance labeled “purity control.”) Scully notes that the doctors were burned, not infected. Cassandra says they were attacked by a rebel group of aliens who mutilate their faces so they won’t be infected.

Cassandra knows that Spender won’t believe this, even though he’s in danger. He’s unknowingly working with the Syndicate to continue doing whatever it is they did to Cassandra and Scully. Mulder asks if Cassandra knows who the men are. She says yes, adding that one of them is her ex-husband, Spender’s father.

CSM tells his audience that Cassandra was the key to the Syndicate’s plans, even though they didn’t know it. He killed to keep them in the dark, but he should have killed Cassandra instead. However, he couldn’t bring himself to kill his son’s mother, despite never having loved her. The Syndicate was distracted by the arrival of the alien rebels, unaware that they would never win. The rebels had already used their powers of disguise to infiltrate the group.

Krycek addresses the Syndicate, who think they’re about to be exposed. One member suggests that they join up with the resistance. Krycek reminds the men that they already gave up that option; what’s changed? They’ve been able to stall colonization, and their work on creating a hybrid should ensure their survival. The man who suggested joining the resistance points out that they’ll only be kept alive so they can be slaves to the aliens, which isn’t the best choice.

Krycek brings up the vaccine, and its part in fighting the future. CSM finally tells him to shut up. He reminds his colleagues that they’ve been working on this project for 50 years, and they can’t sacrifice themselves every time a new threat comes along.

Mulder and Scully use Spender and Fowley’s computer to look up the name Spender so their own computers won’t attract any attention. The name gives them three results: Spender, Cassandra, and CSM, whose real name is C.G.B. Spender. Skinner catches the two and tries to clear them out of the office before Spender can catch them, but it’s too late. Spender plans to make sure Skinner’s actions are mentioned when he’s fired.

Spender meets with CSM to confirm that he’s done what his father wanted and gotten Mulder and Scully booted from the FBI. Now he wants something in return: the truth about what happened to Cassandra. CSM knows that he won’t believe the truth, no matter which parent it comes from. First he needs to demonstrate that he’s ready to handle the responsibility of knowing the truth.

Spender gets sassy, so CSM smacks him. He argues that he gave Spender the position at the FBI, but Spender couldn’t do the job. Spender replies that keeping Mulder down wasn’t a job, it was CSM’s “dirty work.” CSM smacks him again and says, “You pale to Fox Mulder.”

Scully finds Mulder playing basketball again (without the slang this time) and tells him that C.G.B. Spender appears to be an alias. The two agents have been put on administrative leave, but Scully’s not going to spend her time off idle. She has a box full of information on CSM. This includes a picture of CSM and Bill Mulder in 1973, when they were working together on a highly classified 25-year-long State Department project.

Scully confirms that Cassandra was married to CSM, and was first abducted on November 27th, 1973, the same night Samantha disappeared. There are many names connected to both CSM and Bill, including Openshaw. Mulder guesses that the State Department project is still ongoing.

CSM tells his audience that Mulder now has names and dates to put some more pieces of the puzzle together and discover CSM and Bill’s sins. “The truth was out there, fatally exposed,” he says. CSM has one last chance to preserve his legacy – his ungrateful son. They meet up on a street in D.C., and CSM agrees that Spender deserves a chance to prove him wrong. He hands over an alien icepick and tells him to kill the man who has infiltrated the Syndicate disguised as one of his victims. Then he puts him in a car driven by Krycek, who warns him to watch where he points the icepick.

Spender goes to the house of the man who suggested the Syndicate join up with the rebels. (I’d really like a character name here, show.) Spender’s about to do his father’s bidding when the man grabs him. Spender tears off his face and struggles to jam the icepick in his neck, finally succeeding with help from Krycek.

Mulder summons Skinner to his apartment so the two of them and Scully can all get on the same page about the aliens’ colonization plans. Skinner wonders why Cassandra’s in danger but Scully isn’t. Mulder believes that Cassandra is the first successful human/alien hybrid, but the men who created her would rather kill her than risk having her expose what they did. Skinner says she’s under 24-hour guard, but that guard was arranged by Spender, so she’s probably not really safe.

Spender has a little trouble accepting that the man he just helped kill is now dissolving in a puddle of green acid. Krycek can relate, since it seems like something you’d only hear about in a story. But seeing it yourself makes you realize what “great men” like CSM have made sacrifices for. Sacrifices like Cassandra. Kryeck reveals that she’s been the subject of experiments for 25 years – experiments that CSM has been overseeing. That’s the whole reason Spender was put in charge of the X-Files. He was sent here tonight to protect the project and become a great man like his father. But Spender doesn’t want that.

CSM addresses his audience one last time, saying he’s never trusted anyone. The truth is finally out, and there’s only one person left he can turn to for help. It’s Diana Fowley, and she’s willing to help. It’s not too late for CSM to achieve what he’s been working toward.

Skinner goes to Cassandra’s hospital room, but she’s gone. Spender arrives moments later and realizes that “he” took Cassandra. In truth, no one took Cassandra – she left on her own, and is now at Mulder’s apartment. She begs him and Scully to keep her from the men looking for her. They have to kill her, or “it all starts.” As someone bangs on the door, Cassandra begs Mulder to shoot her, and Mulder prepares himself to give her what she wants. To be continued…

Thoughts: After six-and-a-half years, Mulder and Scully (and even Skinner) have never looked into CSM’s identity? Even with all the resources available to them through the Lone Gunmen? REALLY?

I really like Veronica Cartwright, and she’s great in this role, so I’m glad she’ll be in season 11. Can we have Krycek, too? He’s even more important to the show’s mythology.

Speaking of Krycek, I’m conducting an informal poll: Whose face is more punchable, Spender’s or Krycek’s?

I want to see Kersh’s reaction to Mulder’s street slang.

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