March 25, 2017

The X-Files 4.23, Demons: Ask Your Doctor If Ketamine-Induced Hallucinations Are Right for You

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

“Imagine going through your whole life looking like that”

Summary: Samantha Mulder wakes an adult Mulder in their childhood home, scared because their parents are fighting. It’s clearly a dream, but reality isn’t much more normal when Mulder wakes up for real – he’s wearing a shirt covered in blood. He calls Scully to tell her he’s in a motel in Providence, Rhode Island, though he doesn’t know how he got there, and he doesn’t know where the blood came from. He also doesn’t think it’s his.

Scully rushes to Providence and finds Mulder in the bathtub, trying to get warm. She diagnoses him with shock, and further determines that he’s missing two days’ worth of memories. She sees that two rounds have been fired from his gun, something else Mulder has no memory of. Scully wants him to see a neurologist, since he could be sick. Mulder’s more interested in finding out if a crime has been committed.

Mulder finds a set of keys on a keychain inscribed with the name Amy. Scully matches them to a car with blood on the steering wheel. It’s registered not to an Amy, but to a David Cassandra of Providence. Scully wants Mulder to sit out the investigation, but he needs to find out if his gun was used to hurt or kill someone.

Someone’s having an arts-and-crafts day, cutting out faces from a bunch of pictures. As blood drips down his face, it becomes clear that the face he’s cutting out is his own. Mulder and Scully go to David’s house, where the housekeeper confirms that Amy also lives there, and that the keys belong to her. Mulder spots a painting of a house on the wall and says he’s seen it before, but he doesn’t know where. It’s the house Amy grew up in, and it’s all she paints – over and over, dozens of times.

Mulder’s sure he’s been to the house, which the housekeeper says is in Chepachet. Mulder remembers that that’s where his parents’ summer house was. The agents head their next, finding the place abandoned. Mulder is suddenly hit with a headache and has flashes of his dream. Teena is screaming at Bill, who says he’s just following orders. CSM is also in the house, and he accuses Mulder of spying on his parents.

Sometime during the flashes, Mulder collapses, unresponsive. When he wakes up, he tells Scully about his memory. She thinks he had a “clonic event, kind of an electrical storm in the brain.” He needs to see a specialist to find out more. Mulder insists he feels fine, then heads into the house. He finds the inside familiar but isn’t sure when he was last there. As he checks upstairs, Scully finds a possible match for the blood on his shirt – two dead bodies. She guesses they’re David and Amy.

The police arrive, and Mulder worries about having to speak to them, since he looks pretty dang guilty of murder right now. The detective he talks to, Curtis, is suitably skeptical about Mulder’s claim that he didn’t see David or Amy before he and Scully found their bodies. Scully won’t let Curtis take Mulder to the station for questioning, since he needs to see a doctor. She tells him to keep his mouth shut until she examines the bodies.

Working with a local medical examiner, Scully finds a puncture wound in Amy’s head. The examiner doesn’t think an autopsy is necessary, since Amy and David both obviously died from gunshot wounds, but Scully wants to find out why they were killed. Meanwhile, Curtis tells Mulder that his gun appears to be the murder weapon, but he has further evidence that contradict Mulder’s claim that, if he killed anyone, he wasn’t aware of it. The evidence is David and Amy’s blood on Mulder’s shirt, and it’s enough for Curtis to arrest Mulder.

Scully arrives as Mulder is processed and tells Curtis that she has her own evidence – she found ketamine, which can cause hallucinations, in Amy’s system. Mulder’s bloodwork shows ketamine as well, which could explain his blackouts and memory loss. Curtis points out that that still doesn’t prove his innocence. Scully, however, won’t believe that Mulder murdered anyone until she has proof that he pulled the trigger.

As Mulder is taken to a cell, arts-and-crafts man passes by – he’s a police officer. He’s carrying around one of his pictures, as well as a gun. Scully’s on her way out of the police station when she hears a shot. By the time she gets to Officer Arts and Crafts, he’s dead. Scully finds the same puncture wound on his head as she found on Amy’s.

Curtis takes Scully to Officer Arts and Crafts’ office, which is full of pictures – some have had their faces removed, but the ones that are still intact each have a drop of something red on the forehead. Curtis says that the officer was placed on desk duty last year because his behavior had become unstable. Specifically, he’d started believing in aliens.

Scully thinks Officer Arts and Crafts’ compulsive behavior means he was traumatized in some way. She finds a magazine called Abductee with Amy’s picture on the cover. Scully tells Curtis that Amy’s puncture wound was deep enough to go into her brain. She thinks Officer Arts and Crafts knew something about what happened and killed himself. They could be dealing with some kind of suicide pact.

In his cell, Mulder has his dream again, this time seeing Bill fight with CSM. Teena yells at the men, “Not Samantha!” Bill looks up to see his son watching the argument. When he wakes up, Mulder yells for a guard. He spends the night demanding to talk to Scully, so she’s allowed to visit him in the morning. He tells her he didn’t kill Amy and David, and Scully says she has evidence that will prove that. The blood on his shirt was the Cassandras’, but it doesn’t match a splatter pattern consistent with Mulder being their killer.

Scully goes back to her theory of a suicide pact, though now she thinks Amy and David’s deaths were a case of murder-suicide. She thinks Mulder contacted Amy to talk about her abduction. Amy was undergoing psychiatric treatment to recover memories; her repetitive behavior, painting the same house over and over, was an expression of the treatment. Scully has learned that Officer Arts and Crafts was also undergoing psychiatric treatment.

She tells Mulder about Waxman-Geschwind Syndrome, which causes dreams about the past and trance-like states. Hmm, sound familiar, Mulder? Mulder wonders why he couldn’t stop what was happening. Scully doesn’t know either, but at least she’s gotten Mulder released from jail.

The two go to see Amy’s psychiatrist, Dr. Goldstein, finding Mulder’s car in the parking lot. Mulder doesn’t find the place familiar, and Goldstein doesn’t give any indication that he’s met Mulder before. Goldstein tells the agents that he was using light and sound to stimulate electrical impulses in Amy’s brain to help her recover memories. He confirms that he also used this method on Officer Arts and Crafts.

Goldstein was unaware of Officer Arts and Crafts’ suicide, but doesn’t seem to think the therapy could be to blame. In fact, Amy was happy after her treatment. Goldstein is offended that Amy might have taken her own life. “I know what you do,” Scully sneers as she and Mulder leave. Both agents are sure that Goldstein treated Mulder, leading to his seizures and blackouts. He probably also gave Mulder and Amy ketamine.

As they leave the office, Mulder has another memory, this one of Bill grabbing Teena as she cried for her baby. Scully wants Mulder to stop investigating, but Mulder refuses – he thinks his memories will lead him to the truth behind Samantha’s disappearance. He wants to go see his mother. Scully agrees to go with him, but she’s smart enough not to let Mulder drive.

As soon as the agents get to Teena’s house, Mulder accuses his mother of keeping things from him. She told him that Samantha was taken because Teena had to make a choice, but Mulder thinks she was forced to give up her daughter. He also thinks that Teena had a relationship with CSM, and he was the one who forced him to choose Samantha.

Teena’s offended that Mulder would accuse her of betraying Bill, and is so upset that she slaps him. He’s not done, though – he wants to know if Bill was really his father. Teena refuses to answer any more questions. She notices that Mulder’s head is bleeding. Teena runs upstairs, and when Scully goes in to check on Mulder, she sees him driving off in her car.

Mulder goes back to Goldstein’s office to ask what the doctor did to him. Goldstein argues that the hole in his head was part of the treatment, and nothing serious. Mulder asks him to finish what he started. Goldstein injects him with ketamine and administers the treatment, giving Mulder all the flashes he’s been having. They end with the night of Samantha’s abduction.

While Mulder has his flashes, Goldstein ties him down, then puts his drill to Mulder’s head to make another puncture wound. The police arrive shortly after and arrest Goldstein. Mulder’s gone, and Goldstein won’t tell the police where he is. Scully chases after the doctor as he’s taken to the police station, demanding to know where Mulder went. Goldstein says that before Mulder left, he said he was going to exorcise his demons.

This means a trip to the Mulders’ home, the place where Mulder last saw his sister alive. Police surround the house, but Scully warns them not to shoot if Mulder leaves, since he’s not dangerous. She lets herself in, but Mulder isn’t in the mood for visitors right now, even when this one comes with a rare in-person “Mulder, it’s me.”

Mulder continues his memory flashes, adding Samantha’s abduction to the mix. He’s holding a gun, which can’t be good. The flashes add visions of Samantha shattering to reveal CSM standing behind her, and Samantha telling Teena that she’s afraid. Mulder points his gun at Scully, who asks if this means so much to him that he’s willing to shoot her. She tells him that these memories might not be his. “This is not the way to the truth,” she says.

Scully calmly tells Mulder to trust her and put down the gun: “Let it go.” Outside, the police hear multiple shots fired, but no one’s hurt – Mulder’s shooting in the opposite direction from where Scully’s standing. She puts her head on his back as he collapses.

Back in D.C., Scully types up her report, saying that Mulder hasn’t recovered any memories of his missing time. His seizures have stopped and don’t seem to have caused any permanent damage, but she thinks the trauma of the experience will stay with him. Scully thinks he’s going to start understanding the path he’s on, but she’s not sure it will lead him to the answers he’s looking for.

Thoughts: Mulder calls Scully at 5 a.m. and she gets to Providence an hour later? I don’t think so.

Heeeeey, David Duchovny in just a white T-shirt and jeans. How YOU doin’?

When Mulder and Scully go to Goldstein’s office, I had to pause Netflix to laugh at Gillian Anderson’s horrific parking job. Couldn’t they have done another take? Or did she do that every time?

March 18, 2017

The X-Files 4.22, Elegy: Mulder Tries to Make “Fetch” Happen

Posted in TV tagged at 1:14 pm by Jenn

Yeah, it still doesn’t make sense

Summary: It’s closing time at Angie’s Midnight Bowl in D.C., and one employee, Harold, is doing a meticulous job of putting away shoes. His boss, Mr. Pintero, tries to send him home, then chastises him for not working faster. Harold appears to have autism or some similar disorder, and he gets upset when Pintero tries to rush him along.

Harold finally leaves, and Pintero notices that the pinsetter in one lane is still sweeping aside pins and returning balls. He sees blood on a ball and under the pins. When he looks up into the machine, he sees a young woman bleeding and trying to speak. Pintero goes to the phone to call the police, but they’re already there. When Pintero runs out to talk to them, he sees a woman on the ground, bleeding – the same woman he saw inside.

Mulder and Scully check out the alley, though Scully would rather be anywhere else. Having to wear bowling shoes doesn’t help. The pinsetter Pintero saw the woman on is broken, as if something heavy was on top of it. The body and blood were gone when Pintero came back inside, but he insists that the woman in the alley was the same woman he saw outside. Scully’s face: “Sure, sure.”

Mulder thinks they’re dealing with a ghost who was trying to tell Pintero something. Specifically, he thinks the ghost was a death omen. He bowls a strike, then tells Scully this has happened twice recently. He uses a soda to expose something written on the alley, under the pinsetter, where the blood used to be: “SHE IS ME.”

The police put together a taskforce to look for what they think is a serial killer. The head of the taskforce, Hudak, catches Mulder whispering to Scully and asks if he has something to share with the class. Mulder presents his theory that they’re dealing with a fetch or wraith. He asks about written messages in the other cases.

Hudak tells him that, according to a 911 caller, the dying words of one of the other victims, Penny, were “she is me.” However, there’s no way she could have said anything, since her larynx was severed. Mulder thinks someone should follow up. Hudak is like, “Thanks for volunteering to take care of that.”

The agents go to New Horizon Psychiatric Center, which happens to be where Harold lives. The residents are gathered so the agents can talk to them all together. Mulder asks if anyone used the pay phone on Friday night, since someone used it to call 911. One resident, Chuck, confesses, but he’s lying. Mulder shows everyone a picture, and everyone confirms that they know her. Scully then shows everyone a magazine with Jay Leno on the cover, and they all say he’s the murderer.

Harold stays quiet the whole time, which catches Mulder’s attention. Apparently no one thought to mention to the agents that he was at the scene of the last crime just before it occurred. Scully looks at crime-scene photos and notices that the victims all wore rings that their killer moved to their opposite hands. She suspects ego-dystonia, a form of OCD characterized by the impulse to constantly reorganize. Mulder figures they’re in the right place to find someone with that kind of behavior.

Mulder has guessed that Harold made the 911 call after Penny’s murder. Harold insists that he didn’t do anything and hasn’t heard the words “she is me.” But when Mulder asks if he’s ever seen a ghost, Harold gets agitated. Scully admits that Mulder’s cracked the case. Harold recites numbers to calm himself down.

Scully looks into Harold’s background and tells Mulder that he’s spent his life in and out of facilities like New Horizon because of autism and ego-dystonic OCD. She thinks he was put in a “challenging situation” and lashed out, but Mulder points out that he didn’t get agitated until Mulder asked about a ghost. They also don’t know why he said “she is me.” Scully learns that Harold is at New Horizon voluntarily, so he can come and go whenever he wants, which gives him the opportunity to kill people.

Scully’s nose starts bleeding, so she goes to the bathroom to take care of it. The words “SHE IS ME” appear on a mirror in blood, and Scully sees a ghostly woman with a slashed neck. Mulder knocks on the door, and when Scully looks away for a moment, the ghost disappears. Mulder tells her that a new victim was just found – a college student whose throat was cut. She is, unsurprisingly, the woman Scully saw in the bathroom.

The victim, Lauren, has had her ring moved like the other victims, and since Harold left the facility after the agents saw him, he’s still a suspect. Scully decides to see a doctor instead of going with Mulder to look for Harold. Wherever Harold is, he’s reciting numbers and papering the walls with bowling scorecards that have “SHE IS ME” written on them in blood. He sees a bunch of ghosts and laments that he just wants to be left alone.

Scully has some blood drawn (there’s a lot of blood in this episode) so she can find out if her tumor caused her to hallucinate in the bathroom. Then she meets with an FBI psychiatrist, Dr. Kosseff, who wants to talk about her hesitation to discuss her fears with Mulder. Scully instead talks about how she’s kept working despite her diagnosis. Dr. Kosseff wonders if she feels like she owes it to Mulder to keep up their work. Scully admits that she’s realizing how much she relies on him and his passion.

Dr. Kosseff asks what happened in the bathroom. Scully confides that she doesn’t know what to trust anymore – did she see a ghost because of stress, because of a subconscious suggestion, or because of her own fears? She thinks Lauren was trying to tell her something in the bathroom. Scully insists that she doesn’t know what that might be, but Dr. Kosseff wants to know if she’s sure.

Mulder goes to the bowling alley to find Harold, hearing from Pintero that the idea of Harold being a killer is absurd. Mulder sees some activity around lane 6, where the body was found, and where Harold happens to be hiding. Mulder chases him as Harold chants “she is me” over and over. When Harold is taken to the police station for questioning, he switches to reciting numbers again. His lawyer is very protective, but Hudak has no patience or the ability to be nice.

Mulder uses a softer touch, determining that Harold’s scared because the dead women’s ghosts keep coming to visit him. Each time Mulder says one of their names, Harold recites different numbers – the women’s bowling scores. Hudak thinks this means Harold killed the women. Mulder assures Harold that he knows he’s innocent, but Harold will have to help clear his name.

They all head to the bowling alley to look for ways the real killer might have left the building. Harold is worried because the shoes are all out of line, so Angelo assures him that he can come back and straighten them out when this is all over. Mulder and Hudak find Harold’s lair full of scorecards he’s memorized. Since he’s memorized dozens of scores, Hudak can’t prove that Harold targeted the victims specifically. Suddenly Hudak cries out, seeing a ghost – it’s Pintero. Downstairs, Pintero has just died of a heart attack.

Mulder goes to see Scully, who’s praying at home. He starts to ask for her medical expertise before making sure she’s okay. He tells her that Harold saw Pintero’s ghost before he died. Mulder thinks Harold forms some sort of psychic bond with people, since his autism prevents him from expressing their attachment in other ways.

Scully notes that Harold isn’t the only person who saw the victims before they died; for example, Pintero saw the woman in the alley. Mulder thinks it’s because those other seers were close to death themselves. He wants Scully to determine if Harold is dying, too. Obviously, this is bad news for Scully, who’s one of those seers.

The police take Harold home to New Horizon, where a doctor named Alpert tries to give him his medication. Instead of taking them, Harold recites numbers. A nurse named Innes urges Harold to take his “poison” since he doesn’t have anything to live for now. She wants to know if he told the police about his girlfriends or his pictures. She mocks that the girlfriends never loved him back because no one could ever love him.

Mulder comes to see Harold, arriving just in time to hear Innes scream. Harold has knocked her down and fled. Scully arrives next, as Mulder tells Alpert that Hudak will probably arrest Harold. He tells Scully that Harold might be sicker than they think. Harold’s roommate, Chuck, is hanging around, so Mulder sends Scully to talk to him. Meanwhile, Innes arms herself with something sharp.

Chuck tells Scully that Harold stopped taking his medication because he knew Innes was poisoning him. Chuck knows that Harold would never hurt anyone – “he really loved them.” He shows Scully a stack of pictures Harold gave him, all of the victims. Innes is the only other person who knew about them. Scully goes to confront Innes in the bathroom and sees her clutching a bunch of pills. Innes attacks Scully, but even with a brain tumor, Scully can hold her own. Also, her gun is more powerful than Innes’ scalpel (which Scully guesses is the murder weapon).

The story comes out: Innes was taking Harold’s medication, which can cause violent behavior. Scully thinks she was trying to destroy Harold’s happiness by killing women he liked. Maybe she thought she would never be happy again like the women were – hence “she is me.” Harold has been found, but unfortunately, he’s dead, seemingly from respiratory failure. Scully doesn’t think he was dying before this, so she can’t explain his visions.

She finally tells Mulder that she saw Lauren’s ghost in the bathroom before she learned Lauren was dead. She didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to believe it. She still doesn’t. Mulder thinks Scully came back to New Horizon to disprove that it was real. Scully says she came because he asked her to. He asks why she can’t be honest with him.

Scully wonders if he wants her to say she believes when she doesn’t. “Is that what you think I want to hear?” Mulder shoots back. He’s angry that she would hide something from him when they’re supposed to be working together. She’s just hiding the truth from herself. He knows what she’s afraid of, and he has the same fear. Scully insists that her doctor said she was fine. “I hope that’s the truth,” Mulder replies.

The agents leave separately, and Scully cries alone in her car. She sees Harold’s ghost in her rearview mirror, but when she turns to the backseat, he’s gone.

Thoughts: I’m sure the autism and psychiatric-facility communities both love this episode.

I wish Scully had mentioned that ego-dystonic behavior is also called ego alien behavior. I mean, ALIENS!

I also wish Scully had mentioned, at least to Dr. Kosseff, that this isn’t the first time she’s seen a dead person trying to communicate with her.

Harold’s lawyer: “Don’t ask him anything about his guilt or innocence.” Hudak: “Yeah, okay. So, Harold, why did you kill a bunch of people?” Dude. Come on.

March 11, 2017

The X-Files 4.21, Zero Sum: “A Man Digs a Hole, He Risks Falling Into It”

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

Be grateful I used this photo and not one of Skinner in his underwear

Summary: The Transcontinental Express Routing Center in Desmond, Virginia, is a busy place, but one of its workers, Jane, wants a break to go smoke. She goes to the bathroom and lights up in a stall as dozens of bees crawl out of a sink. Soon the bathroom is covered in bees, but Jane takes a while to notice. They swarm her, and when a co-worker finds her minutes later, she’s dead from their stings.

In D.C., Skinner reviews info about the incident, then deletes it, all from Mulder’s computer. Wearing black to indicate that he wants to be stealthy, Skinner then goes to the scene of the incident and examines Jane’s cigarette butt (bet it was a Morley) before flushing it. He cleans up the ashes and the floor underneath them, then examines a yellow substance on the ceiling.

Next Skinner goes to the morgue, where an attendant hears him moving around in the room with the bodies. So much for being stealthy. Skinner hides from the attendant, who doesn’t catch him leaving with Jane’s body slung over his shoulder. This morgue should probably up its security. Skinner takes the body to a furnace somewhere and gives it a free cremation.

Using Mulder’s badge, Skinner goes to Desmond’s police station and gets access to all the various fluids taken from Jane’s body for testing. He swaps out a vial of blood and wipes his fingerprints off the pen he used to sign in. He tosses it in a Dumpster just before an officer named Ray Thomas finds him and asks him what he thinks happened to Jane. “Mulder” surprises Thomas by not showing any interest in what’s clearing an X-file. Skinner leaves, passing a man sitting in his car, watching.

Once home, Skinner bags up all the clothes he was wearing, and thanks for the shot of Mitch Pileggi in his underwear, Kim Manners. That was really necessary, I’m sure. As he’s about to get rid of the bag, Mulder shows up to report that someone’s trying to cover up what happened to Jane. A detective sent Mulder emails about her case, but when he went to open them, they were gone. That detective, Thomas, is now dead. Mulder suspects the person who used his ID to get into Desmond’s forensics lab.

Skinner thinks Mulder should work with Scully on this, but Scully’s out of commission this week, undergoing tests at a hospital, because the show realized they hadn’t mentioned her cancer for a few episodes. Her tumor may be metastasizing. Skinner tries to hide how upsetting that news is. After Mulder leaves, he goes to his building’s parking garage for a secret meeting with CSM, who’s being driven around by the man who was watching Skinner at the police station.

Skinner is sure that CSM had Thomas murdered, and he’s no longer willing to participate in the cover-up. (He seems a little surprised that CSM would go so far as to have a police officer murdered, like that’s the worst thing he’s ever done.) CSM says it’s Skinner’s fault anyway, since he didn’t follow orders and “neutralize a potentially compromising situation.” CSM doesn’t think Skinner’s in any position to question their arrangement: “A man digs a hole, he risks falling into it.”

In the morning, Skinner is awoken by a call from Mulder, who’s at the morgue, having just discovered that Jane’s body is missing. He also knows that the blood sample was replaced, since it didn’t show a folic acid deficiency Jane had. Mulder knows that the gun used to kill Thomas is one often used by police and federal agents. Skinner’s one of the officers who uses it, and his own gun is gone.

He calls CSM to ask if his gun was used to kill Thomas, like, of course! Catch up, Skinner! He threatens to call the authorities, but CSM knows he won’t, since he would have to admit to his crimes. Plus, it would be pretty hard to convince the authorities that he didn’t kill Thomas.

Skinner wants to know why Thomas had to die. CSM replies that he’s giving Skinner what he wants: a cure for Scully. Skinner orders CSM to do whatever he’s planning to do to heal Scully immediately. If necessary, Skinner will turn CSM in, no matter the risk to himself. CSM dangles the idea of Scully’s recovery in front of Skinner, warning that his fate might not be as positive.

Skinner goes back to the routing center (where Jane’s co-worker, Misty, is suspicious) and studies the ceiling, which is seeping that yellow substance again. He tears a hole in the wall and finds a huge honeycomb. He takes a sample to an entomologist, wanting to know if the bees that made the honeycomb are lethal. The tech finds a larva, which could give him some info when it hatches. The tech asks if this case is related to one Mulder called him about six months ago, involving killer bees.

Returning to Mulder’s office, Skinner reads up on his own bee case, finding Marita’s name in the file. Mulder finds him there and shows him surveillance photos from a bank that show Thomas talking to Skinner outside the police station. The officer who helped Skinner at the forensics lab has ID’d the man as the fake Mulder, though the surveillance photo is too grainy for Mulder to see who he is.

Skinner calls Marita to ask about what she and Mulder talked about regarding the bees. She tells him that there was no evidence of beehives or bee husbandry. Skinner tells her that he may soon have the evidence Skinner didn’t. Chances of that are unlikely, as the larva at the entomologist’s house has now developed, and it’s brought a bunch of its friends over for a party. Since the entomologist didn’t get an invitation, the bees attack him.

Mulder has Skinner meet him at a lab to examine the entomologist’s body. He thinks the bee stings on his body and Jane’s aren’t bee stings – they’re smallpox blisters. Somehow, the two contracted an especially bad strain of a disease that supposedly doesn’t exist anymore. Mulder isn’t that surprised, since he contacted the entomologist months ago about bees that might be carrying smallpox; now he has the evidence he was looking for, in the stingers removed from the man’s body. He thinks someone’s developing a method of delivery for a deadly disease.

Skinner asks if they can stop whoever’s using these killer bees. Well, Skinner, I don’t think Mulder was just going to go off on vacation and act like there was nothing left to do. He’s on his way to the photo lab to see if the photo of the fake Mulder could be enhanced. Meanwhile, Skinner meets with Misty, sensing that there’s something she didn’t tell the police earlier. He admits that Jane’s death might not have been an accident. Misty admits that men came to the center and warned her to keep her mouth shut. They were looking for a package kept in a room next to the bathroom.

Mulder’s photo tech has trouble enhancing the photo of Skinner, but his work is good enough for Mulder to recognize his boss. In New York, the Syndicate meets to confirm that all evidence of the killer bees has been taken care of or is in the process of being taken care of. CSM is sure that Skinner will succeed, since he has no other choice. If he tries to expose them, he’ll expose “his own duplicity.” The Syndicate’s “trial run” is already happening.

The problem with killer bees is that they’re not picky about who they sting, so when some find their way to a playground in Payson, South Carolina, kids are their next victims. One boy, David, loses his glasses in the ensuing chaos and doesn’t make it inside with the rest of the kids. When his teacher goes back to help him, she’s swarmed.

Skinner goes to the hospital to let a doctor know that the stung kids need to be treated for smallpox. All the kids in town who haven’t been stung need to be vaccinated immediately. The doctor points out that kids aren’t vaccinated for smallpox anymore; besides, smallpox has an eight-day incubation period, and the kids were only stung a few hours ago.

Marita shows up, since she was already in the area – some packages were sent to Payson from Canada, and she wants to know what they contained. My guess is…smallpox. Marita demands to know what Skinner knows about the situation. He tells her he thinks someone’s experimenting with using bees as carriers. When she learns that Skinner hasn’t shared his findings with Mulder, Marita guesses that he’s involved.

Skinner heads home to Virginia, finding his gun back in its rightful place. But Mulder’s also there, and he accuses Skinner of a) killing Thomas, b) working with CSM all along, c) knowing when Mulder’s father was killed, and d) knowing when Scully was taken. Skinner says he was set up, and the police are probably on their way to arrest him. He admits that he’s lied to Mulder, but he had a reason, and he’s sure Mulder will be understanding.

Skinner reminds Mulder that he once warned him not to pursue what happened to Scully. He should have followed his own advice. Mulder asks for the gun, which he takes to a lab so they can find out if it was used to kill Thomas. Long story short: It was. He tells a ballistics tech that he found it in a sewer near the place where Thomas was killed. The tech notes that the serial number was filed off, and unless there are fingerprints on the gun, it’s untraceable. Skinner’s off the hook.

Skinner takes the gun with him when he ambushes CSM, though CSM doesn’t think Skinner will kill him and risk Scully’s life. Skinner doesn’t think CSM ever planned to cure her. CSM says he saved her when he “had her returned” to Mulder, so he could save her again. He doesn’t think Skinner will take the chance and pull the trigger. He does anyway, but doesn’t shoot CSM.

As Skinner leaves, CSM gets a phone call and tells the person on the other end that Skinner was just there to kill him. He’s sure Mulder will soon contact the caller to find out if there’s more that Skinner doesn’t know. The caller is Marita, and she promises to tell Mulder whatever CSM wants her to say. “Tell him what he wants to hear,” CSM replies.

Thoughts: Usually I find Skinner pretty pointless, but I like this episode. It’s a nice change to see things from someone else’s perspective.

The morgue attendant (who looks like Milo Ventimiglia) is a lot less freaked out than he should be about hearing noises from a room full of dead bodies.

Anyone else wondering what honey from smallpox-carrying bees tastes like? Probably not great.

March 4, 2017

The X-Files 4.20, Small Potatoes: Tail as Old as Time

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:40 pm by Jenn

I would trust this man

I would trust this man

Summary: At Tablers Community Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia, a woman named Amanda is in labor and isn’t happy about it. A nurse tries to get information on the baby’s father, but Amanda isn’t sure how to get in touch with him, since he’s not local. Actually, he’s from another planet. The baby, a girl, comes quickly, and the doctor says that she’s fine, but he’s lying. Well, unless “perfectly fine” includes having a tail. “Not another one,” the doctor laments.

Mulder and Scully get involved in the case after her reads a tabloid article about monkey babies in a small town. He’s surprised that Scully isn’t more interested in children being born with vestigial tails. Scully says it’s not completely unheard of, though five in one town is an anomaly. She just thinks the local Health Department should handle it. She figures Mulder wants to look into things as well because the tabloid is blaming aliens.

The agents meet Amanda, who has a good outlook on the tail, which can be removed when the baby’s a few months old. Scully asks if Amanda had any fertility treatments; she didn’t, and wasn’t trying to get pregnant. The father came over to her place one day, one thing led to another, and nine months later, Amanda’s a mom.

Mulder asks about the father, wondering if Amanda was abducted by aliens. Amanda outlines a regular fling like anyone would have with a human. Only she had her fling with Luke Skywalker, renowned Jedi knight. He didn’t have a lightsaber, but he sang Amanda the theme song from Star Wars. After learning that Amanda has seen the move 368 times, Mulder decides to duck out. Amanda wants to know if her baby’s father could also be the father of the other tailed babies in town.

A group of people, including Mulder and a guy named Eddie, is outside the nursery, admiring Amanda’s daughter. Scully takes Mulder to the local Health Department, so they can compare the children’s DNA. They all have the same birth defect, meaning they all have the same father. He probably also had a tail, though it was probably removed. Mulder wonders how this could happen. “Birds and the bees and the monkey babies,” Scully replies. “Birds do it, bees do it, even educated M.D.s do it,” Mulder says, which I think is his admission that he wants Scully to do it with him.

Mulder thinks that since the mothers all share the same OB, and four of them underwent fertility treatments, the doctor is the father. “So much for not putting all your eggs in one basket,” he says, which doesn’t really make sense. The agents gather all the angry parents (one of whom thinks Mulder and Scully are another couple with a tailed baby) at the doctor’s clinic, but he insists that he did everything by the book. However, he was surprised that his process to get the women pregnant worked all four times. Now he wonders if it really did.

Mulder wanders off and finds Eddie working on a sink. He notices a scar on Eddie’s butt, right where a tail might once have been. Eddie realizes Mulder’s on to him and takes off running, but Mulder tackles him and shows off his scar to all the parents. Paternity tests prove that Eddie Van Blundht (the H is silent) is the father of all five tailed babies.

The agents are interested in finding out how Eddie fathered five children with women who claim they never slept with him. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong, since the women all got babies and no one got hurt. Mulder and Scully step aside, and Scully presents her theory that Eddie roofied all the women and raped them. They at least have enough to go on to keep Eddie in custody while they investigate.

A sheriff’s deputy takes down Eddie’s information as Eddie studies him carefully. Suddenly, the deputy realizes that Eddie now looks just like him. Eddie knocks him out, and when he’s found the next morning, the sheriff is confused, since he said goodnight to the deputy as he left the night before. The deputy tells the agents that Eddie turned into him before knocking him out. Scully predicts Mulder’s theory that they’re dealing with someone who can take on other people’s appearances. “Should we be picking out china patterns or what?” asks a surprised Mulder.

Scully thinks the deputy is confused, and the sheriff just mistook Eddie for him since Eddie was wearing the deputy’s uniform. Mulder points out that all the mothers mistook Eddie for their husbands, and Amanda mistook him for Luke Skywalker. There has to be something else going on, and yeah, it could include aliens, so maybe don’t be so judgmental, Scully.

As the agents head over to Eddie’s parents’ house, Mulder asks Scully who she would be for a day, if she could be anyone. She picks herself, so he calls her boring. She’s not interested in being someone else for a day, though Mulder would like to see how people react to others. Scully picks Eleanor Roosevelt, but Mulder vetoes this, saying she can’t pick a dead person, for some reason.

The elder Mr. Van Blundht, who still has his tail, tells the agents that he doesn’t know where his son is. He didn’t think his son should have his removed, since without it, he was nothing interesting – just “small potatoes.” As Mr. Van Blundht continues talking about his son, Mulder wonders how he knows Mulder’s name. He quickly realizes that this is really Eddie pretending to be his father. But when you’re looking for a guy who can transform into someone else, it’s easy for him to run off and disappear.

Eddie transforms into a guy named Fred, the supposed father of one of the tailed babies. He tricks Fred’s wife, who’s just confused about the clothes her not-husband is now wearing. The agents search Mr. Van Blundht’s house, finding his dead body, which has been there for a while. Meanwhile, the real Fred comes home, and he and his wife realize there’s an intruder in the house. Now Eddie looks like Mulder, and he pretends he was checking the place out.

Scully autopsies Mr. Van Blundt’s body, finding striated muscle tissue all over him. She’s pleased that the body is completely intact, though not for long, as Mulder accidentally breaks off his tail. He wonders if Eddie and his father have the same muscle structure, and somehow use it to turn into other people. Scully thinks Eddie just has an identical twin.

Mulder decides to look into Eddie’s M.O., since Amanda doesn’t fit the pattern of the other mothers. Amanda’s still in the hospital, since it’s not clear if she’s sane enough to take care of a child on her own. Mulder shows her a picture of Eddie, who she dated in high school, though she really regrets that now. She thinks he’s a loser and came from a loser family. Mulder asks about any good qualities Eddie might have had. Amanda admires his love of Star Wars, though Eddie’s no Luke. What’s becoming evident, though not to Amanda, is that this isn’t really Mulder.

Fake Mulder (we’ll call him Muldie) hides as the real Mulder comes to see Amanda. She’s confused, since he just questioned her. Fred calls Mulder to follow up on his search of their home, and now Mulder’s the one who’s confused. Fred wants to know how Mulder chased Eddie into his bathroom, then asked to borrow a suit. Mulder catches on quickly, asking Amanda, “I was just here – where did I go?”

Following a lead to the men’s locker room, Mulder apprehends a security guard, apologizing in advance if he has the wrong guy. The doctor from the clinic enters, so Mulder handcuffs both men. He plans to give them blood tests, then release the innocent one. He calls Scully (“hey, it’s me” – close enough) and summons her to the hospital, then gets distracted by a flickering light and a gap in the ceiling tiles. Eddie’s hiding up there, and wants Mulder to know how good-looking he is before he attacks.

When Scully gets to the hospital, Mulder is releasing the guard and doctor, though he’s lost track of the real Eddie. He tells Scully that she was right, and the case is nothing – just “small potatoes.” As Scully leaves with her partner – or at least with a guy who looks just like him – the real Mulder, stuck in the boiler room, yells for help.

Scully and Muldie head home to D.C. and present Skinner with their case report. He’s unimpressed with Muldie’s misspelling of “Federal Bureau of Investigation” (twice). Scully confirms that Mr. Van Blundht died of natural causes, but his son hid his body so he could take his identity and continue collecting his Social Security checks. So Eddie’s not a murderer, but he’s a rapist. Muldie takes offense.

As the agents leave their meeting, Muldie asks if Scully has weekend plans. That right there should be a red flag to her. She wants to look at Mr. Van Blundht’s tissue more carefully, so she heads off to Quantico. Muldie decides to get acquainted with Mulder’s office, almost falling out of his chair. “This is where my tax dollars go?” he asks as he looks over Mulder’s decorations.

He heads home, wondering where he sleeps, as the audience has wondered for years. He ignores answering-machine messages from the Lone Gunmen (they think there was a third gunmen at Dealey Plaza, and they’re going out for cheesesteaks) and a woman named Chantal who misses “Marty”‘s calls on her phone-sex line. Muldie practices presenting his badge and declaring himself an FBI agent, then does a DeNiro impression in the mirror and admires his handsome new face.

Somehow Muldie finds out where Scully lives and visits her with a bottle of wine. He pretends to be interested when she says she found another anomaly in Mr. Van Blundht’s biology. He’d much rather talk to Scully, since they never just chat. Scully’s up for this, telling Muldie about a prom disaster she never mentioned to him before. She tells him she’s seeing a whole new side to him, and she likes it.

Muldie asks if Scully ever wishes things were different. How far is she from the person she thought she would be when she was younger? Does she wish she could go back and do things differently? Scully turns the question back on him, but instead of responding, he moves closer and starts to kiss her. Just then, the real Mulder bursts into the apartment. Busted, Eddie turns back into himself.

A month later, Mulder visits Eddie in prison, where he’s wearing a hat that declares him a “superstar!” in an attempt to improve his self-esteem. It doesn’t help, since the other inmates just beat him up and take it. Mulder wonders why he was summoned, while Eddie wonders if his partner didn’t come with him. He reveals that he’s on muscle relaxants that prevent him from shape-shifting.

Eddie laughs at Mulder for being a loser by choice while Eddie has no say in the matter. He thinks Mulder should treat himself, since Eddie would do so if he were in Mulder’s place. Mulder leaves, joining Scully, who assures him that he’s not a loser. He notes that he’s not Eddie either. As they head off together, a janitor mops the floors, wearing Eddie’s orange coveralls and “superstar!” hat.

Thoughts: Eddie is played by Darin Morgan, who also played the Flukeman. Tail or no tail, loser or no loser, this is a much better look for him.

One of the headlines on Mulder’s tabloid is “Etap Bigshot Busted,” a reference to “Unruhe.” The mugshot is of the show’s assistant prop master, Jim Pate, whose last name was reversed to provide the name Etap.

I love how Skinner asks who misspelled “Federal Bureau of Investigation,” like, did he really think it was Scully?

February 25, 2017

The X-Files 4.19, Synchrony: The Iceman Cometh

Posted in TV tagged at 1:27 pm by Jenn

This ice sculpture is shockingly lifelike

This ice sculpture is shockingly lifelike

Summary: An old man runs to MIT around 11:40 at night as two 20-something men fight about one of them going to someone behind the other’s back. The old man warns one of the younger men that he’s heading toward a dangerous street. The younger men try to get him to back off, but when a security officer arrives, the old man announces that one of them, Lucas, is going to get hit by a bus and be killed at 11:46. He warns the other man, Jason, to protect him. Jason is surprised that the man knows his name.

As the security officer takes the old man away, Jason tries again to work things out with Lucas, but Lucas is done talking. The two students split up, but when Jason sees a bus coming, he decides he should listen to the old man. Just as predicted, Lucas is struggling with his books and doesn’t see the bus. Jason runs to warn him, but it’s too late. It’s 11:46 and Lucas is dead. Also, the driver thinks Jason pushed Lucas in front of the bus, so this is really not Jason’s day. (Well…not Lucas’ either.)

Mulder presents the situation to Scully, explaining that just before his death, Lucas was arguing with Jason, his academic advisor. Jason has been arrested for murder and won’t tell the police what they were fighting about. Mulder shows Scully a taped interrogation where Jason claims that an old man warned that Lucas was going to be hit by a bus. No one has been able to talk to the old man, or to the security officer, since he’s dead.

The agents go to Massachusetts and discover that the security officer’s body is frozen. In normal circumstances, it would look like he’d passed out after drinking and froze to death, but it only got down to 28 degrees the previous night, and the body is 15 degrees. Or at least it was – now it’s 8. Scully thinks a chemical like liquid nitrogen is to blame, and she’s curious as to how this is connected to Lucas’ death.

Mulder goes to the police station to meet Jason, who’s chatting with his girlfriend, Lisa. After she leaves, Jason asks if the police are going to blame him for the security officer’s death as well as Lucas’. Mulder tells him about the body being frozen, and Jason thinks he’s playing mind games. He finally reveals the reason for his and Lucas’ fight: Lucas was going to rat on Jason for falsifying data in a paper. Jason says he didn’t, though he did interpret data in a not-completely-sound way.

Mulder guesses that the two men were competing for the same grant. Jason explains that they study cryobiology, the effects of freezing temperatures on biological systems. Scully calls (no “Mulder, it’s me,” sadly) to tell her partner that she found Jason’s fingerprints on the security officer and his car, so Jason is looking at a second murder charge.

A man named Dr. Yonechi tries to check into a hotel, but his name isn’t on the list of reservations. The old man approaches him, claiming he was sent to pick up Yonechi and take him to a different hotel. Once they’re at the new hotel, the old man thanks Yonechi for his contribution to the old man’s work on vitrification. Yonechi is confused – no one’s solved vitrification yet. The old man says that Yonechi found a way to substitute sugar for water. He pulls out a blade and stabs Yonechi in the hand, then apologizes, saying, “This is the only way.”

Yonechi becomes frozen corpse #2, and the agents learn that an old man was seen with him before his death. They think the man is Jason’s accomplice, and they’re using Jason’s cryobiology research to kill his competition. Scully shows Mulder an analysis of the chemical found in the wound the old man made in Yonechi’s hand; the security officer had one, too. Mulder thinks he knows someone who can enlighten them.

The agents visit Lisa, who’s also a cryobiologist, and show her the analysis. She tells them Jason was working on a rapid-freezing agent that allow a cell to be thawed so it can survive the freezing process. But Jason is nowhere near developing the agent; so far it’s just theoretical. They’re still at least ten years away from having the right technology. Scully and Mulder disagree. When Lisa learns that Yonechi was only frozen a couple hours ago, she announces that he might not really be dead.

Lisa has Yonechi brought to the lab and submerges him in some gross-looking yellow liquid. Once his temperature reaches 97 degrees, she pulls him out. Scully doubts that this will work – no way can a person survive after his body was as cold as Yonechi’s was. Mulder’s like, “Well, if he’s still dead, they can’t kill him more, so…” Lisa then proves Scully wrong by reviving Yonechi, but his temperature climbs so quickly that he starts seizing. Eventually he catches on fire, and the burns he suffers are definitely not survivable.

Scully asks Lisa what could be to blame for this kind of cellular reaction. Lisa thinks that the chemical that froze Yonechi was unstable, so they accidentally caused an opposite reaction by raising his temperature. She thinks he could have survived if he’d stayed in the yellow liquid. Mulder’s more interested in finding out where the freezing compound came from, since it’s not supposed to exist.

Lisa runs off to talk to Jason, with the old man right on her trail. She finally confronts him for following her, but he plays innocent. She guesses that he’s the man Jason saw the night of Lucas’ death, and he killed both Lucas and Yonechi. The old man warns that he can kill her, too. In fact, that’s why he’s there. He pulls out his blade but doesn’t use it on her.

Lisa gives the agents a sketch of the man and tells them about the encounter. Scully encourages her to be completely honest; otherwise she could be considered responsible for any crimes Jason committed. Lisa reveals that she, not Jason, falsified the data in Jason’s research so he could get the grant. Scully thinks she knows who the old man is, but Lisa insists that she doesn’t. She also thinks her secret is safe with him, though Scully wonders if a man who lied for her wouldn’t also lie to her.

Mulder pulls Scully aside to ask why the old man would keep Lisa’s secret. Scully thinks he wants to protect Jason as well. Mulder wonders if the medical tool the old man keeps using on people was originally designed for another purpose. A police officer approaches to tell the agents that there’s a lead on the old man’s location.

Mulder and Scully let themselves into the old man’s hotel room when he doesn’t answer the door. Scully finds Yonechi’s flight information, and Mulder finds a picture of Yonechi, Lisa, and Jason toasting something together. Mulder thinks they’re celebrating “something that never happened.” He believes someone’s trying to alter the future.

He elaborates: If Lucas hadn’t been hit by a bus, he would have gone before the grant committee and revealed Jason and Lisa’s lie. Jason wouldn’t be able to work with Yonechi, and the celebration in the photo never happens. Since the old man couldn’t save Lucas, he had to kill Yonechi to try to get to the same outcome. Scully wonders when the photo was taken (or “never taken”). Mulder guesses it’s at least five years from now, after the freezing compound is developed.

Mulder believes that the old man brought the compound with him to the present. Oh, and he thinks the old man is Jason. He reminds Scully that her graduate thesis was on quantum physics, so she can’t rule out the possibility of time travel. She doesn’t think humans could survive time travel, though. Mulder comes up with one way of getting to the next step: ask Lisa if the photo was ever taken.

Old Jason comes home, not looking so great, and uses his blade on himself to feel better. Lisa finds him there, having guessed who he really is. He tells her she’s the one who made this all possible. 30 years ago, or ten years from Lisa’s present time, she’ll meet someone who tells her about subatomic particles that can go back in time at the temperature absolute zero. She’ll use this development to further her research and “change the course of history.”

Lisa asks why Old Jason said he came back to kill her. He says he couldn’t go through with it. She realizes he’s cold, like, what didn’t you get about absolute zero? Suddenly Old Jason decides he can go through with it after all, and he stabs Lisa, freezing her. Young Jason gets the news just as Mulder bails him out of lockup. He also gets the news that the old man they’re looking for is him, and Mulder thinks he’s going to go after his younger self next. “Puts a whole new spin on being your own worst enemy, huh?” Mulder quips, because there’s never a wrong time for death-related humor.

Young Jason’s confused – he and Lisa have never met Yonechi. Mulder says that a photo analyst confirmed that the photo of the three of them together is real. Young Jason doesn’t think any of this is possible; it’s just science fiction. Mulder’s like, “Well, so is a rapid-freezing compound, yeah?” He thinks there’s some application of the compound for time travel. Now he’d like to know why Old Jason wants to stop time travel.

Mulder and Young Jason head to the cryolab, but when Jason uses a biometric scanner to gain entry, a security officer says that according to the computer, he’s already there. Mulder sends Jason to meet Scully and Lisa while he looks for Old Jason. Lisa’s team is trying to revive her like they revived Yonechi, though they’re not sure what to do when they get her heart beating again. Scully tells them to put her back in the yellow liquid.

Mulder gets access to Jason’s research files from an assistant. Scully calls (still no “Mulder, it’s me”) to tell him that Lisa’s doing much better than Yoneshi was when he was in her condition. Mulder asks about Young Jason, but he hasn’t come to the lab yet. The assistant tells Mulder that Jason’s files are all empty, and his data’s gone.

Young Jason has figured out where his old self would go to stop himself, the mainframe where his files are held. Old Jason wants his research to be destroyed. Young Jason just wants Lisa to be okay. Old Jason says that they helped create a world “without history, without hope. A world where anyone can know everything that will ever happen.” As Mulder tracks the Jasons down, Young Jason demands that Old Jason help him save Lisa.

Mulder gets Young Jason to leave Old Jason alone, promising that Lisa’s alive. If Young Jason hurts his older self, they’ll never know the truth. But Old Jason isn’t about letting any truth get out – he thinks the world would be better off if he never existed. As Mulder uses a fire extinguisher to try to break down the door to the lab they’re in, Old Jason holds on to Young Jason until they both burst into flames.

The good news is that Lisa’s survived her ordeal, thanks to her own research. She’s sure that Old Jason was telling the truth when he said who he was. Scully gently tells her that there was a fire in the mainframe and her boyfriend’s dead.

Old Jason, meanwhile, has disappeared. Mulder plans to believe in what he saw forever, quoting Scully’s thesis to her about the universe only producing one outcome. Does this mean the future can’t be altered, and Old Jason won’t be able to prevent time travel from being discovered? This is one question Scully can’t answer. And as soon as Lisa has recovered, she’s right back in her lab, working on research that could lead to who knows what.

Thoughts: Cryogenic freezing AND time travel? They couldn’t just pick one weird scenario for this episode?

Mulder: “Although common sense may rule out the possibility of time travel…” Right, like common sense has ever had a place on this show.

That guy Lisa’s supposed to meet in ten years should probably watch his back.

February 18, 2017

The X-Files 4.18, Max: Flight Risks

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:17 pm by Jenn

I don't think Max had a future as an interior decorator

I don’t think Max had a future as an interior decorator

Summary: The lights Mulder has encountered underwater are from other divers, so he quickly surfaces and flees. Back on land, he tries to outrun a Jeep full of soldiers who capture him. Back in D.C., Scully tends to Pendrell, but it doesn’t look good. She goes after NTSB guy, who’s wounded but still able to run. When she returns to Pendrell, she orders him to stay alive so they can celebrate her birthday together. While paramedics tend to him, Scully realizes her nose is bleeding.

Frisch doesn’t think his phone call to his girlfriend tipped anyone off, since he didn’t say where he was, so Scully thinks someone on the inside has turned on them. Skinner arrives, having been told about Frisch’s transfer into protective custody; he’s now being arrested for providing false testimony. Scully argues that his life is in danger because he’s blowing the whistle on the military.

Skinner tells her that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are overruling that decision. They’re also on the hunt for Mulder for interfering with the investigation into the plane crash. The military admits they were responsible for the crash, but they don’t back up Frisch’s version of events. Skinner notices that something’s off with Scully and tells her he’s not going to let her stay in the field if it’s not safe. Scully insists, as always, that she’s fine.

Mulder’s taken to Von Drehle Air Force Reserve Installation, where Scully gets him released and tells him the military had no choice but to confess their part in the plane crash. They’re saying that the air-traffic controllers gave bad coordinates, which makes Scully think that Frisch and his partner didn’t see the second plane, a fighter jet, until it was too late to keep it from crashing into the first plane. The partner allegedly killed himself because he felt so guilty. The military claims that Frisch is trying to blame them for his mistake.

Scully admits that she’s not sure she believes that the second plane was a military jet. Mulder shows her some burns he got from the crash site in the lake, possibly the beginning stages of the burns suffered by some of the crash victims. Scully says that there’s no proof that the plane crashed into anything, at least according to Millar. She doesn’t think he’s lying, since he had no reason to volunteer anything – especially about how he found Sharon. And it turns out Sharon isn’t Max’s sister after all; she’s a former aeronautics engineer who met Max in a psychiatric facility.

It also turns out that Pendrell being loaded into an ambulance was the last glimpse we’ll get of him: He’s dead. Scully’s upset that innocent people are dying, and they’re not yet sure if it’s “for the truth or for the lies.” Mulder vows to find the truth, because why else would they be fighting?

The agents go to Max’s old trailer, which looks the same as it did the last time they were there. Scully compares him to Mulder, as they both led “Spartan lives” in order to leave room for their passions. Mulder’s interested in finding out why Max wanted to see him (which he figures is what Max was doing, since he had Mulder’s card on him). He was taking a big risk, so it had to have been for a major reason.

Mulder puts on a video of Max talking about his life. He always wanted to be left alone, but as an abductee, he’s never alone, since he’s always wondering if the aliens will come back for him. He wants to prove to the public that aliens exist, and that only a few members of the government, FBI, and military know about them. They’re using some of the aliens’ technology in U.S. military operations, and someone needs to confront them and make them admit it. Meanwhile, divers, one with radiation burns, pull aliens and their aircraft from the lake. NTSB guy arrives, pleased that their mission was successful.

The search for the crash victims is almost complete, and Millar thanks everyone involved for their work. Mulder can tell that he’s not convinced of what he’s been told about the crash. He shares his theory that Max knew about the crash ahead of time but got on the flight anyway. He was probably followed by someone who wanted the proof of alien life that he carried with him. This was the guy with the gun, who was unable to kill Max and take the proof before aliens intercepted the plane.

Max would have known what was happening, that he was going to be taken, but Mulder thinks the military plane got involved and screwed up the aliens’ plans. Frisch and his partner couldn’t see the alien craft on radar, so they couldn’t stop whatever happened. Mulder imagines Max being pulled outside the plane as the other passengers watch in awe. He thinks that if the military jet hadn’t been there, Max would have been abducted and returned without anyone knowing.

Next Mulder thinks that the jet intercepted the plane and the alien craft on orders of taking down the aliens. Max was returned to the plane, but the crash ensued and everyone was killed instead of just having their memories erased and losing nine minutes of their lives. Millar doesn’t exactly believe Mulder’s story, but even if he did, he can’t sell it to the government. Scully notes that the door and seats contain traces of radioactivity, which Mulder hasn’t been able to explain. Millar thinks he knows the reason, and it’s inside Max’s carry-on bag.

Millar promises to include the contents of the bag in his official report, though he can’t credit them with the cause of the crash. Scully tells Mulder that they might not ever get all the answers, which means Max and Pendrell’s deaths might never be explained. Mulder wants to go talk to Sharon, whether or not she’s mentally stable.

Well, really, he wants Scully to go talk to Sharon while he goes back to Max’s trailer, which is now trashed. He runs into the trailer park manager, who mentions that he has some of Max’s mail. While he gets it, Mulder pauses Max’s video, seeing Sharon in the background. He sees that the return address on one of Max’s letters is Paul Gidney, Max’s alias. Inside is a claim ticket.

Scully visits Sharon, who admits that she lied about being Max’s sister. Scully asks her to spill anything about what Max was up to. Sharon hesitates, worrying that it could get her into trouble. Scully sees blisters on Sharon’s face and asks what she was exposed to. Sharon says she stole something, and Scully realizes it was from whoever she worked for when she was in aeronautics. Max had her take something that he claimed was alien technology. It was in three parts, and each of them had one, but they were taken. Scully asks about the third part.

Mulder figures out that the claim ticket is for a piece of luggage at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Men in suits watch from a distance as he gets it, then asks for a security entrance to a tunnel. As he escapes, Scully calls (“Mulder, it’s me”) and tells him he has the third part, though she doesn’t know what it is. She warns him not to take it out of its container, but mid-’90s cell service was pretty bad, and static on the line keeps Mulder from hearing her.

Even without hearing Scully’s warning, Mulder doesn’t open the bag. Instead, he puts it through an x-ray machine. Scully thinks they’re dealing with some industrial espionage. Mulder gets on a flight to D.C., because that worked out so well for Max when he took his part on a plane. Apparently Mulder’s FBI skills are on the fritz because he doesn’t see that NTSB guy is on the same flight.

After some time in the air, NTSB guy sits down with Mulder and starts a conversation. But Mulder’s FBI skills are back in full force, and he warns that he has a gun on NTSB guy. NTSB guy doesn’t think Mulder will shoot, since he could cause a crash. NTSB guy has come prepared with a parachute and is sure he’ll be able to escape. He’s also willing to sacrifice himself to continue the cover-up. There are dozens of lights on outside, and no one would notice if one went out. Does Mulder think it’s worth it to sacrifice millions of lives just to keep some lights on?

Mulder asks what the thing in the bag is, guessing it’s an alien source of energy. NTSB guy sticks to the story that the plane crash was caused by human error. Mulder orders him to go to the bathroom so Mulder can keep him contained for the rest of the flight and ensure he pays for the crash. He then calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to tell her he’s captured Pendrell’s killer. He checks the time and realizes his watch has stopped.

Mulder warns a flight attendant that the plane is going to be intercepted, so the pilot needs to be ready. NTSB guy emerges from the bathroom with a gun, because I guess Mulder didn’t consider checking him for weapons. Mulder gives up Max’s bag just moments before the plane begins to shape. Looks like it’s time for another abduction, y’all! NTSB guy keeps his eye and weapon on Mulder, who pulls out his own gun and demands the bag.

The emergency door gets suck out of the plane, and Mulder tells NTSB to let go of the bag so the aliens can have it. A light fills the plane, and we skip forward to it landing in D.C. Scully and Skinner are among the agents there to get NTSB guy, but he’s no longer on the flight. Everyone on the plane is fine, and no one seems to have gone through any trauma. Also, Mulder’s watch is nine minutes slow. Skinner asks after NTSB guy, and Mulder replies, “I think he got the connecting flight.”

Later, the agents and Sharon watches the rest of Max’s video, where he talks about alien technology that the U.S. could use for things like space travel. He doesn’t get why the government wants to keep them quiet. Sharon asks to keep Max’s things, which Mulder thinks could be very important one day. Scully thinks Max would want her to have them.

Scully steps outside the trailer to look up at the sky and think about Pendrell; she notes to Mulder that she didn’t even know his first name. She has Mulder’s birthday gift with her, and she thinks he gave it to her to help her remember that people can achieve anything they can imagine as long as they dream and work hard. They also need to work together “because no one gets there alone.” We can praise those who do the work, but we also need to remember those who sacrifice their lives in the process. “I just thought it was a pretty cool keychain,” Mulder quips.

Thoughts: Way to not do anything to try to help Pendrell, everyone else in the bar.

’90s music alert: “Unmarked Helicopters” by Soul Coughing. Wow, remember Soul Coughing? I barely do.

Farewell, Agent Pendrell. (Aw, that rhymes.) As the kids would say, you were a beautiful cinnamon roll, too pure for this world.

February 11, 2017

The X-Files 4.17, Tempus Fugit: Next Time, Take the Bus

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

It's a free dessert, Scully. Be happier

It’s a free dessert, Scully. Be happier

Summary: “Somewhere over upstate New York,” a man named Rebhun talks to his seatmate about how he no longer gets nervous about flying, since statistically, it’s safe. His seatmate happens to be Max Fenig, and he seems more nervous about another man on the plane than he is about flying. He watches the man head to the bathroom, where he takes apart a pen and uses something inside to load a weapon. Turbulence hits the plane as the man emerges from the bathroom, and lights shine through the windows. A panel near Max starts to get pulled outside.

Things are much calmer at a restaurant where Mulder surprises Scully’s with a birthday dessert. She points out that this is the first time in four years he’s remembered her birthday. He gives her an Apollo 11 keychain. A woman named Sharon approaches the agents to tell them that her brother told her to find them if he didn’t make it. Her brother is Max, and he was supposed to be delivering something to D.C., something the government might kill him for. His plane went down on the way to D.C.

The agents head to New York and interrupt a meeting with a taskforce discussing the crash. All 134 passengers and crew members have been declared dead. The plane’s last recording before the crash is of the pilot calling mayday before the feed goes to static. Mulder asks if the plane was forced down, since the pilot said there was something approaching. A man from the NTSB is very interested in this conversation but stays quiet.

Mulder says a passenger on the plane was abducted by aliens multiple times and predicted the crash, so it’s reasonable that another aircraft caused it. A member of the taskforce says no one named Max Fenig was on the passenger manifest. The taskforce leader, Millar, slams Mulder for bringing his craziness to the situation. Scully’s like, “Thanks for this awesome birthday present, partner.”

The agents and the taskforce go to the crash site, where only pieces of the plane have been found. The official story is that the crash was caused by either a lightning strike or some other weather phenomenon. Of course, Mulder won’t buy that. Scully wants to know what it means if it turns out Max really was on the plane. Mulder says that whoever (or whatever) went after Max thought his death was important enough to sacrifice 133 other lives.

The man from the NTSB steals the weapon from the body of the man from the bathroom, and another man sprays him with something. Elsewhere, Scully finds another victim whose watch stopped at the same time as another watch Mulder finds. The crash took place at 7:52 p.m., and the watches stopped at 8:01. Scully dismisses the time of the crash as just an estimate. Mulder thinks they won’t find Max after all – he probably wasn’t on the plane when it crashed. Just then, someone finds a survivor.

Scully has Sharon brought to New York with Max’s things so the agents can figure out what he had with him on the plane. The survivor was exposed to high levels of radiation, and if Max was carrying whatever caused his burns, people could still be in danger. Scully then meets back up with Mulder, who tells her that the survivor is Rebhun (first name: Larold. Yes, really); he was sitting next to someone named Paul Gidney, an alias Max has used in the past. Scully has learned that Max used another alias to get a job at an energy site that stores uranium and weapons-grade plutonium.

Max wrote letters mentioning a theft, so he may have come across a dangerous situation. If he was carrying dangerous chemicals with him, their instability could have caused the crash. Mulder thinks Max was abducted from the plane, causing the crash; the burns came from the abduction, not chemicals. He thinks the crash will be declared unsolved unless the agents find out what really happened. He’s sure that when Max is returned, he’ll confirm Mulder’s suspicions. Scully tells Mulder that Max was already “returned” – they found his body.

Sharon is looking through Max’s letters in a motel when the room starts to shake and lights shine through the windows. Back at the crash site, Mulder finds one of his business cards on Max’s body. He checks out a couple more bodies but doesn’t seem to find what he’s looking for. In fact, that’s the point – he tells Scully that none of the bodies has a watch on. Mulder thinks someone stole them to keep people from finding out that they all lost nine minutes.

The agents meet with Sergeant Louis Frisch, who was working in an air-traffic control tower the night of the plane crash. He tells them that the crash began at 7:52, and there was radar confirmation about 45 seconds later. As the agents leave, Mulder mentions to Scully that the story has been that there was no radar confirmation. Scully figures the news about the confirmation just came after their initial briefing.

But as the agents leave, Frisch lets his partner know that he said what he was supposed to say. He doesn’t know the truth, and he doesn’t want to know. His partner, Gonzales, vows to tell the truth if the agents ever question him. Frisch doesn’t like that, since that would let the authorities know that he lied. He heads off on his own.

Sharon’s motel room has been trashed, and she’s missing. Mulder notices warping on the door, which is off its hinges. He thinks Sharon was abducted. Millar arrives to tell the agents that they may have found the cause of the crash, but it’s a pretty crazy theory. There are some cracks on the plane that make it look like it was shaken. Mulder thinks his abduction theory is looking more and more like a reality.

Frisch heads back to work and apologizes to Gonzales, but it’s too late – Gonzales is dead, seemingly having shot himself. Frisch sees a convoy of cars approaching the building. They’re led by the NTSB guy, and they’re looking for Frisch. Mulder listens to the mayday recording from the plane, then calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to tell her that the air-traffic controller’s voice sounds familiar. He asks her to come to his motel room to listen to it. On her way over, Frisch grabs her and tells her he was responsible for the crash.

The agents take Frisch to the crash site to introduce him to Millar. Millar was told that the controller was a civilian, not an Army sergeant. Frisch says his commanding officer told him to lie about what happened. He saw another aircraft intercept and shadow the plane for ten minutes before the crash. There was an explosion, and the plane disappeared from his screen.

Millar denies that the evidence lines up with Frisch’s story. Mulder says the military is trying to cover up something, possibly that there was a third aircraft that Frisch didn’t see, which was shot down by the second aircraft. The plane Max was on might have just been collateral damage. That means there could be a second crash site. That also means that Frisch’s life could be in danger, since he’s put together what the military wants to keep hidden.

Now Millar is willing to consider Mulder’s theory, so he and the agents head out to look for the second crash site. But the agents spot NTSB guy’s convoy heading toward them and have to do some fancy driving to get away from them. (Well, Mulder does the driving. Scully’s contribution is just saying his name in a warning tone over and over. Thanks for your help, Scully.) Mulder has to fly under a plane that’s landing, causing the cars chasing him to spin off on other directions.

Millar goes to the first crash site and sees what looks like a UFO searching the wreckage. Its searchlight goes out and it seems to disappear, then suddenly reappear right over Millar. The light goes out again and it seems to drop out of the sky. Millar hears a woman calling for help nearby and finds Sharon, who begs him not to let them take her again.

Mulder is starting to wonder if there’s no second crash site after all – maybe the second crash happened in a lake instead of on land. He sends Scully and Frisch to D.C. while he looks into the descent of the second aircraft. Or maybe the third. I really don’t know at this point. Anyway, he goes to rent a boat and learns that there’s already a search underway.

Scully takes Frisch to her place, where he worries that he’ll be prosecuted for lying about the crash. It wasn’t his fault, but he watched the plane fall and will have to live with trying to cover up what really happened. He’s mad at himself for treating the passengers and crew like numbers and dots instead of real people. Scully promises to do whatever she can to ensure Frisch can tell his story to someone who will do the right thing. He asks if he can call his girlfriend to let her know he’s okay.

Back in New York, Mulder goes diving in the lake, thinking that the time he “got a quarter off the deep end at the Y pool” is enough experience. Scully and Frisch head to a bar to meet with a federal marshal; Pendrell is there, a little drunk, and thinks the two of them are on a date. Scully spots NTSB guy entering and realizes something’s off. He fires at Frisch but hits Pendrell instead. In the lake, Mulder finds wreckage of an aircraft, along with what looks like an alien. He starts to flee but is stopped by a bright light. To be continued!

Thoughts: I feel bad for the actor playing Max. He gets invited back to the show three years after his episode, but he doesn’t get any lines, he has two minutes of screen time, and they kill him.

Someone actually named a character Larold. I hope that person was never given the responsibility of naming a child.

I really need this show to tell us people’s names so I don’t have to figure them out from IMDb.

I can’t believe Scully thought letting Frisch use her home phone was a good idea. Come on!

February 4, 2017

The X-Files 4.16, Unrequited: Oh, Good, Another Episode About Vietnam

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

"Is THIS your card? ...No? Wait, Scully, I can get this"

“Is THIS your card? …No? Wait, Scully, I can get this”

Summary: There’s a big gathering near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., and a general named Bloch is giving a speech about the country’s armed forces. Mulder, Scully, and Skinner are there, trying to track a man in the crowd. Scully spots the man, who then sees her as well. The agents quietly close in on him, but they all lose sight of him. Skinner warns that he’s right in front of Mulder, but as Skinner moves to protect Bloch, the man vanishes.

12 hours earlier, a helicopter lands at Fort Evanston, Maryland, carrying a lieutenant general named MacDougal. He finds a playing card in his limo, the king of hearts, with a skull and crossed bloody bayonets on the back. Suddenly the man from the rally is in the limo. He shoots MacDougal dead, but when the driver pulls the car over to check on him, the shooter is gone.

Skinner tells a group of agents about the mysterious murder, which authorities suspect was the work of the driver, Private Burkholder. There may be an accomplice, and Burkholder could have ties to a paramilitary group called the Right Hand, which is known for leaving playing cards on their victims. Mulder and Scully enter as Skinner tells the agents to look into the Right Hand’s leader, an ex-Marine named Denny Markham. The agents only have 12 hours to prevent more murders before the rally.

Mulder and Scully have just come from interviewing Burkholder, who passed a polygraph. Mulder believes he’s innocent, but Skinner thinks someone involved is lying. Scully asks for permission for her and Mulder to serve a warrant on Markham. Skinner warns them to be extremely careful so no other soldiers are killed.

The agents head to Demeter, Virginia, driving past a sign with a handprint on it. The same handprint is on a locked gate Markham is hesitant to open for them. He lets them in, but dogs chase them back out. Markham comes out to speak to the agents through the gate, though it’s mostly to refuse to answer any questions. Scully points out that a new anti-terrorism law gives the agents the right to hold him for questioning. A team of snipers hiding in the nearby woods does, too.

Markham won’t break confidentiality with the people on the Right Hand’s mailing list, and adds that they’re willing to do pretty much everything to protect themselves from a corrupt government. Mulder shows Markham the king of hearts, leading Markham to warn that more men will be killed. The snipers clear a bunch of weapons from Markham’s house as Markham chats with Mulder, giving him a picture of the killer, Nathaniel Teager.

Teager was a Green Beret in Vietnam, left for dead after the rest of his squadron died. The Right Hand found him in a POW camp in 1995. Scully disagrees that there were still POWs in Vietnam after 1973. Markham tells her the government tried to kidnap Teager after the Right Hand found him, but he vanished before they could get him.

Mulder thinks “a phantom POW left for dead comes back to avenge injustices” is a reasonable explanation for this case. Scully figures it’s just a cover-up for a conspiracy. She suggests that they give Markham a polygraph; when he inevitably fails, they’ll have their answers. Meanwhile, Teager approaches a woman named Mrs. Davenport at the Vietnam Memorial, telling her that her husband, Gary, isn’t dead. He gives her Gary’s dog tags, then disappears.

Mulder and Scully head to the memorial next, confirming with Skinner that Mrs. Davenport IDed Teager. Skinner has also confirmed that Teager’s remains have been stored at a lab since he supposedly died in the 1970s. Scully thinks someone’s posing as Teager to mess with Mrs. Davenport and distract the agents. Poor Mrs. Davenport is now conflicted about whether her first husband is really dead or not. She starts crying blood, which can’t make her day any better. Mulder thinks there’s a connection to Teager’s ability to vanish into thin air.

While Scully takes Mrs. Davenport to get an eye exam, Mulder meets with a Dr. Keyser at the lab holding Teager’s remains. The remains include teeth with scoring on them, and since there’s no way to know if the scores were made before or after death, Mulder notes that they’re not exactly proof that Teager is dead. In fact, the official report says the results are “inconclusive,” so whoever declared Teager dead chose to ignore that.

Mulder calls a general named Steffan to warn that he may be in danger. Steffan signed Teager’s death certificate, and Mulder thinks Teager might go after him next. Steffan reluctantly agrees to listen to Mulder and follow his instructions to keep himself safe. Steffan goes to his office at the Pentagon, and Teager follows, unseen even as he passes through a metal detector. But there’s a king of diamonds on Steffan’s desk when he arrives.

Scully takes Mrs. Davenport to Georgetown Medical Center, where a doctor finds a retinal blind spot on her eye that could explain her inability to see Teager when he supposedly disappeared. Scully calls Mulder, who finds it odd that someone could have a blind spot she never noticed before. The doctor thought Scully was crazy for suggesting that the blind spot was responsible for Mrs. Davenport thinking a human being disappeared.

Steffan calls Mulder to tell him about the card, not realizing that Teager is also in his office. Mulder orders him to call in some officers to protect him, but it’s too late – Teager shoots Steffan while he’s still on the phone. An invisible Teager watches as Mulder picks up the card, then looks right where he’s standing without seeing him.

Scully examines Steffan’s body but can’t explain how he could be shot at such a highly guarded facility. Skinner shows her and Mulder surveillance footage from the entrance, and they clearly see Teager enter then Pentagon. Mulder tells Skinner his theory that Teager can turn invisible by manipulating a blind spot. He thinks Teager learned the trick from the guerrilla fighters who kept him as a POW for 25 years.

Skinner knows he can’t protect all the soldiers arriving for the upcoming rally and parade, so Scully suggests that he cancel the events. Mulder says it doesn’t matter – the only way to protect everyone is to catch Teager. To do that, they need to figure out who his next victim is and protect him. Well, that sounds reasonable. It’s not like there are thousands of military personnel in D.C.

Bloch visits Markham, who doesn’t share his concerns that soldiers are being killed. Markham may be charged with conspiracy and treason, along with possession of illegal arms, but Bloch can offer him a deal if he helps find Teager. Markham says that Bloch can’t give Teager what he wants, at least not without harming his reputation. Teager is sending a message.

As the parade begins, Mulder meets Marita at the Lincoln Memorial to get info on Teager. She tells him that MacDougal and Steffan are connected to a recent news story about the “disposing” of soldiers in South Vietnam. Mulder’s familiar with the scandal – commandos and spies were sent to Vietnam but weren’t protected, so they were captured and killed.

The operation was disavowed, and the three men responsible for their mission – who include Steffan and MacDougal – erased their lives from official records. Those men are now facing charges, and their testimonies could be used to calculate reparations for the soldiers who died. Mulder realizes that this means the U.S. government wants MacDougal, Steffan, and their third comrade dead. They only asked the FBI to protect the men because they know the agents can’t.

Mulder asks Marita for the name of the third man, which I’m sure everyone in the audience has already figured out. Scully and Skinner definitely have, as they run through the parade to grab Bloch. Scully sees Teager in the crowd and pulls a gun to stop him from shooting anyone. Of course, he disappears.

Scully and Mulder meet up later, and Mulder is sure that Scully was sure she saw Teager, though his disappearance makes her wonder. He tells her and Skinner what Marita said about the government wanting the FBI to fail in their investigation. Now they can continue denying that there were POWs left behind after 1973. Mulder thinks Markham is their most valuable ally right now.

Mulder challenges Bloch to come clean, but Bloch is giving a speech at the rally and isn’t going to let a pesky thing like his life being in danger keep him from his duty. So the agents’ 12 hours are up, and the rally begins. A rally attendee recognizes Teager and follows him behind some fences, where – you guessed it – Teager disappears. But this time he’s just hiding for dramatic purposes.

The attendee, Danzinger, is shocked to see his supposedly dead buddy alive and well. Teager tells him that “they” wanted him to believe Teager was dead. He promises that after tonight, Danzinger will believe. Teager says he waited for rescue, but no one came for him. He knows the people in charge thought it was easier to just let him die rather than have to admit the truth. Danzinger reminds Teager that the war has been over for 20 years, but Teager says for him – and the others – it’s still going on. He gives Danzinger a list of names, then disappears.

Bloch takes the stage and finds an ace of clubs on his podium. Now we’re back at the opening scene of the episode, with the agents scanning the crowd for Teager. Once he disappears, Mulder tells Scully that he thinks Teager can only hide himself in someone’s direct line of sight. They go to meet up with Skinner and Bloch, and Mulder figures out that Teager’s waiting in Bloch’s car.

There’s some gunfire, but an agent is able to shoot the invisible Teager and stop him from driving off. Teager’s vanishing trick is the next thing to vanish, and he appears to everyone as he’s dying. He recites his date of birth and service number to Scully over and over. There’s a close-up of an American flag, in case we’ve already forgotten that this is our country’s fault, or whatever.

Sometime later, Mulder and Skinner meet up at the Veterans Memorial, where Mulder brings the news that officials won’t admit that Teager was Teager. They claim he’s Thomas Lynch, a member of the Right Hand who spent time in psychiatric facilities. Markham is backing up that story. Mulder complains that the government is lying again, “trying to make him invisible.” Okay, we get it. Really.

Mulder wants to try to get Teager’s body released, but Skinner tells him the investigation has been sent to another agency. They found Teager, and now he’s dead, so their job is done. Mulder’s upset that the government denied Teager’s life, and now they’re denying his death. He points out that Skinner could have suffered the same fate. After Mulder leaves, Skinner studies the wall, finding Teager’s name.

Thoughts: It’s funny to watch an episode about the U.S. military full of actors with Canadian accents.

Teager must have also learned a trick to make himself look younger, because he doesn’t look old enough to have served in a war that occurred 20 years before the episode aired.

No way would Scully pull a weapon on someone standing with a bunch of civilians, especially when she didn’t see him holding a weapon. Nice try, show.

January 28, 2017

The X-Files 4.15, Kaddish: The Emet Is Out There

Posted in TV tagged at 1:36 pm by Jenn

This is beautiful

This is beautiful

Summary: A Hasidic funeral is taking place at Ben Zion Cemetery in Brooklyn. As dirt is thrown on the coffin, a woman flashes on the last moments of the deceased, who it appears was shot during a convenience-store robbery. The woman puts dirt on the coffin, then lets an older man lead her away. There’s a thunderstorm that night, and someone uses mud in the cemetery to shape a man’s body. After the sculptor leaves, the mud body begins to breathe.

The dead man was Isaac Luria, as Scully tells Mulder. He was from Williamsburg, where a number of hate crimes have been committed against Jewish people. He was, indeed, killed in his store, and his murder was captured on surveillance cameras. However, the killer hasn’t been arrested…because he’s also dead. He was strangled while watching the footage of his crime. The fingerprints pulled from the killer’s body belong to Isaac.

Mulder, amused, wonders if they’re dealing with a zombie. Scully thinks this is a case of revenge “disguised as spectral justice.” Mulder clarifies that she means a “resurrection hoax.” Their job is the find out how the killer’s killer got Isaac’s fingerprints. The agents go to see Isaac’s widow, Ariel (the woman from the funeral), who’s with her father, Jacob (the older man who was with her in the cemetery). Jacob’s upset that the agents are interrupting their shiva to ask if they can look for evidence in Isaac’s grave.

Scully shows Ariel a picture of one of the killer, Tony, and tells her that there are two accomplices still at large. Ariel is surprised to see how young Tony is. Jacob’s furious that the police didn’t do anything when Isaac said he was in danger. Mulder asks if there was a specific threat against him. “The threat is always there,” Jacob replies. He shows Mulder a pamphlet slid under his door about how Jews are responsible for AIDS. He’s happy that someone took out the killer.

Scully points out that they’re investigating a homicide, so Jacob and Ariel have to cooperate. If they don’t, the agents can get a court order and go around them. Ariel tells them to do whatever they need, then leave her and her father in peace. In their car, Scully tells Mulder that she thinks Jacob knows who killed Tony, and he’s afraid they’ll figure it out if they dig up Isaac’s grave.

Mulder thinks it’s natural that Jacob would want to protect Tony’s killer, considering it justice after all the hatred he and his people have experienced. Scully notes that there’s a difference between justice and revenge. Mulder thinks the publisher of the pamphlet knows Tony’s accomplices and probably also knows who killed Tony. They head off on their next task as someone covered in mud watches Ariel’s apartment building.

The agents chat with the pamphlet publisher, Brunjes, who’s anti-Semitic and claims not to be familiar with the accomplices, Derek and Clinton. Mulder shows him the pamphlet, saying it could have encouraged the boys to kill Isaac. Brunjes accuses Mulder of working with “them,” remarking that Mulder looks like he could be one himself. (I wonder how David Duchovny liked that line, since he’s Jewish.) Brunjes insists that he’s not a “Zionist collaborator.”

Scully tries to impress upon Brunjes that Derek and Clinton could be in danger. In reality, Derek is currently in a backroom, watching the conversation on a surveillance monitor. He hears Scully say that there’s now a rumor that Isaac came back from the dead to get revenge. “What kind of Jew trick is this?” Brunjes asks. “A Jew pulled it off 2,000 years ago,” Mulder replies. (NICE!) Scully tells Brunjes to keep them in mind if he thinks of anything that will help them protect Derek and Clinton. “Bless you,” Mulder says to him as they leave.

Brunjes goes to the backroom to check on Derek, but he and Clinton are now at the cemetery, digging up Isaac’s grave as the muddy person watches. The coffin is nailed shut, and when Clinton goes to the car to get tools, he’s attacked. Derek uses his shovel to break into the coffin, which still contains Isaac’s body. He realizes Clinton has gone quiet, then sees his friend’s body nearby.

Like Tony, Clinton was strangled, and two sets of footprints have been found at the crime scene. Scully thinks Clinton and Derek came to desecrate Isaac’s corpse as revenge for Tony’s death. Mulder thinks they were afraid that Isaac was still alive. There are marks on Isaac’s body, but Scully can’t tell what they’re from. Mulder pulls a book from the coffin, and it immediately bursts into flames.

Derek goes to see Brunjes, who he blames for the idea of killing Isaac. Brunjes says they’re just spreading the truth about Jews, not actually killing them. Derek tells him that Clinton’s dead now, too, and he wants the money Brunjes owes him for his work.

Mulder and Scully take the remains of the book to a…book historian…guy, who tells them it’s the Book of Creation, a book about communion with the divine. He’s not familiar with the idea of a copy spontaneously combusting – it’s a book about mysticism, but that doesn’t mean it has mystical properties. Scully has a scientific explanation for the burning anyway (of course). The historian sees that a name was engraved on the cover, Jacob Weiss.

So the agents go back to Ariel and tell her that Clinton was killed right by Isaac’s grave. They have evidence placing Ariel’s father at the scene of the murder. If Ariel knows anything, she needs to help them stop it. She tells them that she and Isaac weren’t officially married yet; they had their wedding license, and the wedding itself was supposed to take place today.

She shows them their communal wedding ring made by a jeweler her father apprenticed for as a child in Prague. Her father survived the Holocaust because he was young and had small enough fingers to make bullets. He hit the ring for decades, even from his wife, because “it was a dead relic from a forgotten place.” When Ariel announced that she was getting married, Jacob “felt his village was born again.” Scully asks where Jacob is, but Ariel is certain that he would never kill anyone.

The agents want to talk to him anyway, so they go to Jacob’s synagogue. The rabbi stops the prayers and talks to the agents, giving Jacob a chance to slip away. The agents follow him to the attic, where they find a hanged body. Something (or someone) knocks them both down, but they’re finally able to nab Jacob. Someone with a muddy hand (and something written on it) is watching.

Ariel meets them at the police station and demands to talk to her father. Mulder questions Jacob, who says he was just checking out a noise in the attic, suspicious of vandals. He was attacked and fought back in self-defense. He doesn’t consider it strange that his method of defending himself was to hang his attacker. Mulder warns that his book was found in Isaac’s grave, which means he can be placed at two crime scenes. Mulder thinks there was someone else in the attic, but Jacob won’t say anything more.

Scully shares with Mulder the results of a background check on Jacob, who was once arrested for a bombing that killed seven innocent people. Since he basically confessed to the murder in the attic, Scully thinks the case is closed. Mulder disagrees, still sure there was someone else in the attic with them. Ariel asks why her father confessed, and he tells her they found his book in Isaac’s grave. Ariel finds that hard to believe.

Brunjes is printing out more pamphlets when he’s strangled by a muddy hand. Peace out, bigot. Meanwhile, Mulder goes back to the historian to ask questions about the myth of the golem. The historian explains the old belief that a man could be created out of mud or clay, using “the power of the word,” secret combinations of letters. There are actual instructions in the Book of Creation for “animating the inanimate.”

Whoever creates a golem writes the word emet on his hand, “truth.” A golem is a body without a soul, basically a monster that goes wild and has to be destroyed by the person who created it. This is accomplished by erasing the first letter of the word so that emet becomes met, “dead.” The historian notes that this demonstrates how powerful words can be – they both create and kill.

Scully calls (“Mulder, it’s me”) to tell her partner that Brunjes is dead. They meet at his shop and see his latest pamphlet, which talks about ridding the country of the “scourge” of Jews. Scully looks at a list of people who receive Brunjes’ mailings, including Tony, Derek, and Clinton. Surveillance footage shows Brunjes’ killer, who looks like Isaac. Mulder, however, has figured out the emet, if you will.

The agents confirm that the corpse in Isaac’s grave is Isaac’s, so he couldn’t have killed Brunjes. Mulder explains the idea of the golem to Scully, who has a hard time grasping that someone made a killer out of mud. Mulder, however, thinks the golem was created out of love, not hatred. They go to see Ariel, but she and her ring are both gone.

Jacob (who was…let out of jail? I guess?) finds Ariel at the synagogue, preparing for her wedding. He’s figured out that she made a golem in hopes of holding on to her husband. He reminds her that it’s not a real person, but an “abomination.” Ariel tells her father about the last conversation she had with Isaac, and how she knew right away something had happened even before she got the call telling her he was dead. She just wanted the chance to say goodbye to her fiancé.

Ariel says she just wished for Isaac to come back – “they were just words.” But now we know that words have the power to create beings. Jacob hears a noise and goes to intercept the golem as the agents arrive at the synagogue. They find him hanging from the ceiling but are able to cut him down before he’s strangled. Mulder goes looking for Ariel, but she doesn’t want to leave without the Isaac golem. Mulder has to shoot him so he won’t run off and harm anyone else.

The golem attacks Mulder, but Ariel stops him, offering him their ring. She recites her vows and the golem places the ring on her finger. She rubs the first letter of emet off of his hand and tells him she loves him. The golem disintegrates, and Ariel says a final prayer and goodbye to her fiancé.

Thoughts: I can’t believe this episode came up right after Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in the midst of the trash-fire hellscape that is the United States in 2017.

Jacob is played by David Groh, who’s probably best known as Joe on Rhoda. …Which was a spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Mary Tyler Moore just died. THIS IS FREAKY.

For more fun with golems, watch the awesomely named Supernatural episode “Everybody Hates Hitler.” Also check out the sequel, “The One You’ve Been Waiting For,” in which Dean kills Hitler.

January 21, 2017

The X-Files 4.14, Memento Mori: How to Save a Life

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:10 pm by Jenn

I love this

I love this

Summary: Scully gives us a voiceover about “[feeling] time like a heartbeat” and sharing a burden through words. She wants the person reading her words to know that she feels comfort because she’s receiving understanding. She’s standing in a hospital gown, looking at a scan of her head, which shows a mass right between her eyes. Scully finishes her voiceover by asking forgiveness for not finishing the journey with her audience.

Mulder joins Scully at Holy Cross Memorial Hospital in D.C., where Scully has just received her medical news. She tells him she feels fine, despite the tumor in her brain. He’s the only person she’s called. The tumor is inoperable, and its size and placement make it hard to treat. Mulder refuses to believe that. Scully’s amused that, for once, she believes something he doesn’t – she’s certain that the cancer isn’t going anywhere and will most likely kill her. Mulder still won’t accept this, saying that there have to be people out there who’ve received treatment.

Scully gives the news to Skinner, asking him to keep it quiet. She plans to delay treatment until she and Mulder meet with the MUFON women in Pennsylvania, as Betsy was being treated for the same type of cancer. Scully wants to pursue this as a case rather than a personal matter. But when the agents arrive at Betsy’s house, they learn that she died a few weeks earlier. They’re just in time to see files from Betsy’s computer being downloaded by someone.

The agents trace the hack to a man named Kurt Crawford and go to his apartment. Mulder heads to the back of the building just as someone tries to sneak out. The agents capture Kurt, but the exertion of the chase gives Scully a nosebleed. She tells Mulder again that she’s fine. Kurt tells the agents he was in Betsy’s MUFON group and downloaded her files at her request. He ran because he believes his life is in danger.

Scully wants to question the other MUFON members, but Mulder says they can’t. Kurt confirms that all of the other members have died of brain cancer except one, Penny Northern. Kurt believes the women’s stories about being abducted and developing tumors as a result. Mulder thinks Scully’s in denial about her illness coming from the same circumstances. Scully notes that Penny’s still alive, so there’s nothing definitive about the situation.

Mulder suggests that Scully talk to Penny, but Scully doesn’t see the point. What would they talk about, knowing what it’s like to be dying of cancer? Mulder puts it in FBI terms, pointing out that she’s a witness they need to talk to. So Scully visits Penny in the hospital, surprised that Penny seemed to expect her. Her doctor, Scanlon, thinks he’s found the cause of the cancer, though it’s probably too late to do anything. Scully seems to grasp that it might not be too late for her.

Scully calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”), who’s at Betsy’s with Kurt, looking through her files. Penny and Betsy were both treated for infertility at the same clinic. Scully asks him to come to the hospital with her overnight bag and call her mother. Whatever Mulder found isn’t important right now. “The truth is in me,” she says, and she needs to suspend the investigation and look into what’s happening to her. Mulder immediately heads off, leaving Kurt in Betsy’s apartment. Seconds later, a man enters the apartment with an icepick, and someone ends up as green acid.

Scully spends the night at the hospital, waking to meet Dr. Scanlon, who she first sees as an alien-like being. She’s bracing herself for chemo and radiation, which Scanlon says will make her “feel like dying.” Maggie arrives, and Scully repeats her new mantra, that she’s fine. Maggie’s upset that Scully didn’t tell her about her diagnosis right away. Scully says that she wanted all the answers first, and though she hasn’t found any yet, she has some clarity, as well as a possible way to fight back.

Maggie makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be left out of whatever happens. She cries as she says that Scully was always the strong one. Having lost Melissa, Maggie only has one daughter left. Scully remains stoic as her mother breaks down. She undergoes some scans, voicing over about how cancer “starts as an invader, but soon becomes one with the invaded,” turning a person’s body against itself. You can destroy it, but you risk destroying yourself in the process.

The voiceover is a letter written to Mulder in case Scully doesn’t survive. She wants him to know that he should never feel like there was something more he could have done. Though they’ve been working together, “this last distance must necessarily be traveled alone.”

Mulder, having not read the letter yet, is still determined to do something. He goes to the clinic where Betsy and Penny were treated and tries to access some files, but has to hide when he hears someone approaching. It’s Kurt, who survived the icepick assassin after all. Kurt and Mulder are looking for the same thing, so Kurt gets to work hacking the computer with the files they need. Mulder notices a snowglobe of a place called Vegreville, which turns out to be the password.

Back at the hospital, Scully has a nightmare about her head being drilled while she was abducted. Penny comforts her when she wakes up, feeling sick for the first time. Scully remembers hearing Penny’s voice in her dream. Penny says “they” let her sit with Scully during the procedures, though she’s not sure why. Scully doesn’t want to hear about this right now, but Penny thinks it’s important for her to understand what’s happening to her.

Mulder returns to D.C. and asks Skinner to get him a meeting. He has a disk containing a file from the clinic; it has Scully’s name, even though he’s pretty sure Scully’s never undergone treatment for infertility. Since the file is a directory for a mainframe at the Lombard Research Facility, Mulder doesn’t know what it’s about. That’s why he wants to meet with CSM. Skinner warns that if Mulder offers up anything, CSM will “own” him. But Mulder thinks CSM knows what happened to Scully and may know how to save her. “You can’t ask the truth of a man who trades in lies,” Skinner says, refusing the request.

Fortunately, Mulder has the Lone Gunmen to turn to. They decrypt the file, which contains a gene code from her blood post-abduction. The branching in the code can lead to mutation. The Gunmen think someone was doing research to find the cause of the mutation, though Mulder notes that someone could instead be looking for a cure. He invites the Gunmen to come to Lombard with him: “Pick out something black and sexy, and prepare to do some funky poaching.”

Skinner goes to Mulder’s office and finds CSM, who’s surprised that Mulder’s been relegated to the basement. Skinner spits that at least Mulder doesn’t have to “take an elevator up to get to work,” which I think is his way of saying that CSM is from Hell, but…try harder, Skinner. Despite Mulder and Skinner’s agreement to keep Scully’s illness confidential, CSM knows she’s sick. He notes that modern medicine can lead to miracles. Skinner would like for one, so he asks what he needs to do to save Scully. CSM will get back to him. “Which way is the elevator?” he asks pointedly as he leaves.

Mulder and Byers stake out Lombard while Frohike and Langly sneak inside and patch into the facility’s security cameras. Mulder and Byers head in next but immediately hit a roadblock with a security code. While Langly figures it out, Mulder looks at a directory of doctors and sees that Scanlon is on staff there. Langly gets the code, but Mulder sends Byers off on another mission, telling him to contact Scully and get her to stop treatment.

Scully writes to Mulder again, now feeling the effects of her treatment. Penny’s condition has worsened, and Scully dreads going down the same road. She can feel Mulder close, even though he’s not with her. She’s grateful for his work and needs to know he’s out there if she has any hopes of beating the cancer.

The security feed and comms get fuzzy, and Langly and Byers lose contact with Mulder just as Byers sees security guards arriving at the facility. Mulder makes it to a lab, where he’s greeted by a bunch of clones of Kurt. The lab is full of tanks containing more clones. Mulder thinks Kurt was using him, but the clones really want him to help them end the project that created them. Mulder recognizes a clone in a tank as the boy from the farm. Kurt confirms that the adult clones are the end result of the experiment.

Mulder thinks the clones want the developing clones to be destroyed. They say they actually want what Mulder wants. One shows him a storeroom full of ova harvested from abducted women, including Scully. The ova are then used to create clones. Unfortunately, the procedure leaves them barren and gives them cancer. The Kurt clones want to save them, since they’re technically the clones’ mothers.

When Mulder’s comms return, Langly warns that there’s a security breach. In another part of the building, Byers hides from guards. Langly gives Mulder directions to get out of the building, but the Gunmen can’t get the doors open fast enough for him to leave. A guard finds Mulder and fires at him, trying to break through bulletproof glass. The Gunmen manage to get Mulder out just as the shooter breaches the glass.

Mulder goes straight to Scully’s room, which is empty except for her journal. Byers meets up with him and assures him that he reached Scully. She’s sitting with Penny, who’s barely holding on. Scully confirms that Scanlon probably isn’t coming back. Penny tells her to keep looking for answers, and Scully promises not to give up hope. Her stoicism is beginning to falter.

Penny dies, and Scully can no longer keep her emotions hidden. Mulder tells her he read a little of what she wrote to him, but Scully now wants to throw it away. She’s decided not to let the cancer beat her. She’s going to work as long as she can. Mulder is determined to find Scanlon and figure out exactly what happened to Scully and the other women. He knows that Scully will find a way to save herself.

Scully notes that many people live with cancer, and she will, too. She has things to prove to herself and her family, and things to finish. Mulder hugs her, happy to be able to keep working with her. “The truth will save you, Scully,” he tells her. “I think it’ll save both of us.” He kisses her forehead, but only her forehead, because they cut the version where they kiss on the lips. As she goes back to her room, Mulder hides a vial of ova in his pocket.

Mulder calls Skinner to let him know that Scully’s going to keep working. He thanks Skinner for talking him out of meeting with CSM; he’ll just find another way to get the truth. “There’s always another way,” Skinner says. “Yes, I believe there is,” CSM agrees from the other side of Skinner’s desk. “If you’re willing to pay the price.”

Thoughts: Gillian Anderson won an Emmy for this episode.

Way to protect your witness who thinks his life is in danger, guys.

And way to keep your shady doctor’s identity secret, Lombard. Also, did Scully do ANY research before she started treatment with Scanlon?

I finally feel like Skinner is really part of this show. He was pretty ineffectual in the past, but in this episode, we see that he knows exactly what’s going on and is willing to go to great (possibly dangerous) lengths for his agents.

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