February 13, 2018

ER 1.4, Hit and Run: Maybe Carter Can Teach Doug How to Show His Emotions

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 5:05 pm by Jenn

Try not to focus on how this kid was also an evil character on “Buffy”

Summary: I guess all season 1 episodes have to feature someone being woken up, because this one starts with Benton waking Carter. Carter asks if he’ll ever get used to having to function on just a few hours of sleep. Benton claims that he gets sluggish if he sleeps more than three hours. Doug asks Mark how his day off was; Mark complains that Jen and Rachel have gone to Detroit for a job interview. Doug thinks that Mark sees Susan as a temptation.

Susan’s patient is ahead of his time, in that he’s too busy talking on his cell phone to speak to her. Doug’s patient is a young boy named Ozzie whose mother thinks he’s having trouble hearing. In reality, Ozzie just can’t hear the voices that his mother hears, like those of her dead mother and Princess Diana. Doug tells Carol to get a psych consult. Ozzie’s worried that they’ll be separated, which they probably should be, at least temporarily, while his mother’s yelling at people who aren’t there.

Carter presents a patient to Benton, and surprisingly, Benton agrees with his ideas for treatment. A woman named Vilma comes in with chest pain and a history of heart problems. Doug mentions to Benton that he and Dr. Langworthy are both vying for the same fellowship; since Langworthy is a year ahead, she may have an edge. She also knows the answer to a medical question Benton has. Both doctors jump on the next trauma case, a 17-year-old victim of a hit-and-run.

Vilma’s in a lot of pain, but after she burps, she starts feeling better. I hope her health insurance covers that. Div talks with Ozzie’s mother, who stopped taking the medication that kept the voices at bay. She’ll need to be admitted, which means someone needs to make arrangements for Ozzie. Carol tells Doug that a social worker’s calling a group home. Benton and Langworthy’s patient has been pulseless for more than half an hour, so they reluctantly call his time of death. Carter, who tried to help out, is saddened, but Haleh reminds him that patients die all the time.

Susan tries again with her patient, Harry, who’s been having abdominal pain on and off for a year. He’s never seen his doctor about it because he’s too busy working. Harry interrupts the examination to take another phone call. Benton sends Carter to get breakfast, but Langworthy hijacks Carter to tell him to track down their hit-and-run patient’s family. Benton complains about Langworthy’s power grab, telling Carter to report back to him, not her.

Ozzie’s mother is taken away, kicking and yelling, as he looks on. She even bits Div as she fights her admission to the psych ward. Ozzie takes off, but only Carol notices. Mark determines that Vilma’s heart is fine, but she has an arm spasm that makes him realize that her internal defibrillator is misfiring. She’ll have to see a cardiologist after all. Susan treats Div’s bite as he complains about the mistreatment he gets from patients. Ozzie’s hiding out in the exam room and listens in.

Carter doesn’t have much to go on for the hit-and-run patient’s identity; he’s going to have to match him with a yearbook photo. He wishes he could do more. As he’s heading off to find Benton, he comes across an electric wheelchair moving around by itself. Tag looks at a patient for Doug, then mentions that Doug’s been “attentive” to Carol since her return. Doug tries to pretend it’s not a big deal.

Susan tells Harry that he may have ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome. He’ll need to decrease stress in his life, which he knows he can’t do. I mean, he has to sell ten million…somethings so he can go to Palm Springs! What could be more important? Benton’s brother-in-law, Walt, stops by after fixing up Benton’s car. Carter eavesdrops as Walt talks about the date he’s taking Benton’s sister Jackie on that night. Benton will be staying with his mother, who has undisclosed problems.

Carol finds Ozzie in the exam room and tells him that the doctors are going to try to make his mom better. Ozzie’s upset because Doug said they could stay together, but they’ve already been separated. Carol invites him to hang out with her while they find out when he can see his mom. Harry tells Susan he’ll follow up with a specialist, then tries to make a “business machine” sale. (How specific.)

As Vilma’s being taken through the lobby, her arm spasms again and she knocks over a tray Carter’s carrying, spilling urine samples everywhere. Another electric wheelchair starts running by itself. Mark realizes that Harry’s cell phone is to blame for the wheelchairs malfunctioning and for Vilma’s defibrillator misfiring. Oh, technology.

Carter gets a yearbook from the hit-and-run victim’s high school and prepares to figure out who he is. The task makes him emotional. Carter IDs the patient as Steven Tierney and sees that they had a few things in common. Benton tells Carter to call Steven’s parents but let Langworthy tell them their son is dead.

Doug wonders if Mark has ever considered hooking up with Susan, despite being married to Jen. What if Jen took a job and moved away? What if Jen cheated first? (Ooh, foreshadowing!) Doug basically offers to play matchmaker if Mark ever wants his services. Mark’s next patient is a man with chest pains who happens to be handcuffed to a barely dressed woman. Jerry seems amused. Carol leaves Ozzie with him to look at pictures of diseased body parts.

It turns out that Mark’s patient, Neil, isn’t married to the woman he’s handcuffed to. Jerry discovers this when Neil’s wife shows up looking for him. The handcuffed woman panics, revealing that Neil’s wife is her boss. Benton examines one of Susan’s patients, then berates her for calling him in for a case of arthritis. Susan insists that her problem is surgical, but Benton disagrees. Jerry goes looking for Neil’s wife, but she’s missing. He realizes that Ozzie is missing, too.

Carter calls the Tierneys, telling them that Steven was in an accident and is in serious condition. While Neil’s wife wanders around, Doug asks Carol to make a call for him about a patient from a few months ago. She responds coldly, and he calls her on her behavior. She tells him he shouldn’t have lied to Ozzie about being able to stay with his mother, even though it was obvious they would have to be separated. It’s just like Doug to make something up so he could avoid a big, emotional scene.

Susan’s arthritis patient definitely needs surgery, so she tells Haleh to page Morgenstern. Malik uses bolt-cutters to remove Neil and his mistress’ handcuffs just before Neil’s wife comes in. Unfortunately, the cuff itself doesn’t come off of Neil’s wrist, and his wife sees it. Mark, Lydia, Connie, and Malik play dumb when she asks to see her husband’s clothes. She easily figures out what’s going on and busts the mistress, Priscilla. Neil will probably not be going to his own home when he’s released from the hospital.

Morgenstern blasts Susan for not getting a surgical consult for her patient, whose appendix has ruptured. Benton is mature enough to admit that he examined the patient but didn’t think she needed surgery. Since Morgenstern wants Langworthy, not Benton, to assist him in surgery, Benton has to go with Carter to tell the Tierneys that their son is dead. But when they go into the trauma room to see the body, they tell the doctors that the boy isn’t their son. Carter’s life flashes before his eyes.

A guy named Bob comes in with some steaks for Mark, who saved his life a year earlier. He declares August 25th Dr. Greene Day. The steaks come with a side of bear hug. Mark offers to share the food with Susan, but she already has a date. She reveals that she’s been dating Div. A drug addict is going through withdrawal a few feet away, and Susan comments that he sounds like a car alarm that won’t shut off. She and Mark start humming in harmony with the addict.

Carter finally figures out the hit-and-run victim’s real identity and tells his real parents that he’s dead. I mean, I assume they’re the right parents and he got the right kid this time. I don’t think Benton would let him make the same mistake twice. Morgenstern berates him again for missing the appendicitis diagnosis, knowing Benton didn’t listen to the patient like Susan did. But he wants him to assist in another procedure, so he’s not going to hold a grudge.

Tag summons Doug to where he’s chatting with Ozzie so they can tell the child that he has to go to a group home. Doug finally tells Ozzie that his mother’s sick and needs to go to a special hospital to get better. Ozzie says he hates his mother, then breaks my heart by crying. Carol takes in the sight of her ex being a sweet guy to a cute little kid.

Benton tells Langworthy that he got to do surgery with Morgenstern. Unfortunately, that means he didn’t get off work in time to look after his mother, so Walt and Jackie had to miss their anniversary dinner. Walt’s ticked that Benton doesn’t pull his weight with his mom. Benton says he forgot and will come by on his next three nights off. Walt chastises him for “forgetting” about his family.

Jerry runs into Carter outside, and Carter confides that he might quit. He can’t even remember why he wanted to be a doctor. Benton told Carter’s advisor that he was doing an “adequate” job, but Carter figures that assessment will change after his big screw-up today. Suddenly a car screeches up carrying a woman in labor. Carter starts to deliver the baby while Jerry goes inside to get help. Carter completes the delivery himself and, I assume, now has a reason to come back to work tomorrow.

A tipsy Doug takes Carol some flowers after work, but a half-dressed Tag answers the door, and Doug immediately regrets the decision. He pretends that his car broke down and he wanted to come in while he waited for a tow truck. The flowers are for his date. He flees, but Carol chases him to the El and yells at him for thinking that she would accept this gesture as romantic. Did he think she would immediately invite him back into her life and her bed?

Doug apologizes, but Carol’s not done. She thinks he believes he still loves her, but will eventually get distracted by someone younger. She won’t let him put her through the same things he put her through before. Doug apologizes again, but Carol’s done listening.

Thoughts: Walt is played by Ving Rhames.

Early/mid-’90s cell phones will always be funny to me. They’re so big! Why did we think they needed to be so big?

I think I found the humming scene funnier than I should have. I guess doctors have to make their own fun.


February 10, 2018

The X-Files 7.2, The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati: The Last Temptation of Mulder

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

In case you wanted to be hit over the head with the episode’s Christ imagery…

Summary: Mulder’s having a dream about a couple on a beach with their little boy. In reality, a doctor is telling his mother that his brain is being destroyed. Teena’s upset that they’re sedating Mulder so much that he’s basically a zombie. She asks him for a sign that he can hear her. He can, but he can’t communicate that to her.

CSM visits later, voicing over stuff about fathers and mothers. He knows Mulder can hear him. Mulder thinks that he could always hear CSM’s voice, even when his head was full. The two appear to communicate telepathically as CSM injects Mulder with something. Mulder thinks he’s being killed, but the injection revives him. CSM wants to give him a choice between life and death. Mulder’s “account is squared” with everyone.

Mulder points out that he’s dying, but CSM says only part of him is. He’s not Jesus or Hamlet; he can recover and leave the hospital, and everyone will forget him. “Arise,” CSM says, like he’s Jesus. Mulder sits up, and CSM tells him to take his hand. Mulder doesn’t know why, though; all the voices in his head are gone, and he can’t read CSM’s mind anymore. CSM tells him he has to take the first step. Mulder thinks about the boy on the beach again as CSM announces that he’s Mulder’s father. So now I guess he’s Darth Vader.

Kritschgau finds Scully sleeping in her office instead of working and chastises her for it. She doesn’t care for his opinion, since he drugged Mulder. Kritschgau tells Scully that Mulder believes he was infected with an alien virus two years ago, and that the virus was reactivated by something else alien. He’s proof that alien life exists. Scully doesn’t care, since Mulder’s dying – their only job is to save him. “You destroy this and I’ll destroy you,” Kritschgau threatens.

Skinner calls Scully to tell her to get to the hospital. Mulder has disappeared. When they meet up, Skinner says that the authorities at the hospital claim that Teena checked Mulder out. Skinner doesn’t want to be involved in the case any longer, so Scully’s on her own. Really, it’s that Skinner’s in a “compromised position,” so it’s better if he doesn’t know what his agents are up to.

Back on the dream beach, a boy a few years older than the one from the earlier dream approaches Mulder. “The child is father to the man,” he says in CSM’s voice. Noooo, that’s not creepy at all. Mulder wakes up in CSM’s car and learns that CSM had doctors tend to him. He thought Mulder would die, either at the hands of the Syndicate, the FBI, or his own foolishness, so CSM had to save him.

Mulder doesn’t think CSM can just make him disappear, but CSM says they’ve made whole cultures vanish. Mulder will just become a man without a name, like CSM. Mulder wants to contact Scully, but CSM says that’ll put her in danger. In a sense, he’s entering a witness protection program. CSM offers Mulder a cigarette, saying that maybe now he smokes.

Scully goes home and is surprised by a visit from Hosteen, who was basically at death’s door the last time Scully saw him. He tells Scully that she needs to find Mulder – not just for his sake, but “for the sake of us all.” Meanwhile, CSM takes Mulder to a house in a suburb somewhere, encouraging him to consider accepting this new life.

Scully verifies with another FBI agent that Teena signed Mulder out of the hospital against medical advice. However, someone painted over surveillance cameras, so they can’t see who actually moved him. There’s a small, visible spot through the paint, and Scully easily recognizes the person Teena’s talking to on the footage. After all, there’s only one person she knows who would smoke in a hospital.

Mulder goes into his possible new home and finds the fridge well stocked. (I don’t know who puts sunflower seeds in the fridge, but okay.) Deep Throat is there; he says he’s not dead, just “really relaxed.” He calls the bullet he took a punctuation mark that ended one chapter of his life and allowed him to start a new one. Mulder admits that he felt responsible for Deep Throat’s death, but Deep Throat doesn’t want him to feel guilty about anything. He’s not the center of the universe. The two of them are just “puppets in a master plan.”

Mulder has suffered enough, and Deep Throat wants him to enjoy his life. He shows Mulder pictures of his family, inviting him to have dinner with them – they live just down the street. But first, Mulder needs a nap. In a dream, he finds a boy on the beach, building a sand castle that gets knocked down by a wave. Mulder tells him he can just start again. When Mulder wakes up, he’s shirtless, and Fowley’s in his house, ready for some lovin’. She takes off a pair of handcuffs on his wrist, which we will never, ever tell Scully about, right, guys?

Scully tries to call Teena, who doesn’t answer her phone. Scully gets a delivery containing a book on Native American practices and sees that writing on the cover matches writing on the stone. Inside the book is a chapter on the Anasazi – a whole culture that disappeared without a trace. The words “sixth extinction” are used. Scully calls Skinner to ask if he sent the book, which explains everything she found in the Ivory Coast. It also talks about a myth about a man who can save everyone by protecting them against a plague.

Skinner can’t talk right now, though, since there’s someone in his office. Scully goes to see him in person, finding him just as someone leaves his office after attacking him. She tries to chase the attacker, but he pulls a fire alarm and disappears in a crowd.

Mulder’s now living a nice little suburban life with Fowley, but he doesn’t want to turn his back on his commitments to the X-Files, Scully, and Samantha. Fowley tells him he’s being childish. He needs to let go of his fantasies and be a real part of the world. Specifically, he needs to become a father. Mulder’s like, “We had sex once. Can we put the brakes on? Also, I don’t trust you.”

Scully goes to Kritschgau, accusing him of leaking information, which led to Skinner’s attack. She sees the symbols from the stone on his computer and guesses that he hacked into her files. He admits that he’s having the NIH analyze the symbols. Scully deletes the files as Kritschgau says that someone’s looking for Mulder.

Mulder and Fowley visit CSM, who lives in the neighborhood. He tells them he has some grandchildren, and also lives with someone Mulder would find very familiar: Samantha. She’s thrilled to see her brother. The real Mulder is in some sort of lab, still unconscious. CSM and Fowley are with him, talking about the kinds of dreams he might be having. CSM thinks that, like other extraordinary men, Mulder’s being tempted by something ordinary in his dreams. Those dreams are all he has now.

Fowley goes to FBI headquarters, where Scully finds her and asks for a cigarette. Fowley decides they should just talk about what they both know this is really about. She tells Scully that instead of worrying about where Mulder is, Scully should think about what she could have done to prevent all this. Scully tells her to think about Mulder as a person, with all his promise, and tell her that Mulder wouldn’t work his hardest to save her. Fowley says she’s thinking about that – she’s always thinking.

CSM chats with a doctor at the lab about an alien-human hybrid and why they’ve kept Mulder alive for so long. Long story short: Mulder is immune to the coming apocalypse, so he’s going to undergo a procedure that may allow them to save everyone. But it might kill him, which CSM is okay with, since it means he “suffers a hero’s fate.”

Suddenly Dream Mulder and Dream Fowley are getting married. Then things speed up, and Mulder’s older. Fowley’s dead, and at her funeral, CSM tries to comfort his son. In the lab, CSM tells Fowley not to think of Mulder as a man, like Scully wanted her to. She needs to think about the sacrifice he’s making to save everyone. Fowley wishes he’d had a choice in the matter. Oh, NOW you think about that.

CSM thinks Mulder would have made this choice – he gets to “become the thing he sought for so long.” He spent his life looking for aliens, and now he’ll be one. Mulder’s part in the procedure is almost done, and CSM will now take over.

An unaged CSM talks to an older Mulder about the boy he sees on the beach. Mulder says he’s seen the boy thousands of times, but he never understands what the boy wants him to see. CSM tells him to close his eyes. The boy is ready to show him. On the beach, the boy has build a huge spaceship out of sand, but now he wants to destroy it. He tells Mulder it’s Mulder’s ship, and Mulder’s the one destroying it. He was supposed to help.

Hosteen returns to Scully’s apartment, telling her she’s looking in the wrong place. Scully doesn’t know how to save Mulder anyway; the science doesn’t make sense to her. Hosteen points to her cross necklace and asks if she’s looked for him there. They kneel to pray together, and Hosteen tells Scully, “There are more worlds than the one you can hold in your hand.”

CSM is ready to undergo the procedure (which I guess will give him Mulder’s immunity?), telling Fowley that he’ll carry on for his son. This is God’s blessing; the knowledge needs to be spread. Mulder wakes up during the procedure, looking straight at Fowley, who can’t bring herself to watch what’s going to happen.

Mulder dreams of being old and on his deathbed, with a still-unaged CSM by his side. Samantha and Deep Throat are dead for real, as are Fowley and Scully. CSM tells Mulder it’s time for him to let go. His loved ones are waiting for him. He tells Mulder to close his eyes. The two of them are the last ones left – “the end and the beginning.” There’s nothing left for Mulder to do, since the apocalypse has come and everything’s on fire, and there are spaceships flying into buildings and stuff. What a wonderful world!

Someone starts a fire in Kritschgau’s apartment after either wounding or killing him. It’s Krycek, and he leaves with a file. Someone slips an envelope under Scully’s door containing an access card for the Department of Defense. As the procedure continues and Scully uses the card, Mulder dreams of Scully coming to his deathbed. She’s mad that he believed the story that she was dead. She calls him a traitor and a coward. He’s not supposed to die “in a comfortable bed with the devil outside.”

Mulder argues that CSM has taken care of him. Scully says he’s made Mulder trade his mission for a comfortable life. Mulder obviously doesn’t know it’s the end of the world outside. He says he’s too tired to look out the window, but Scully tells him to get out of bed and fight. The procedure is done by the time the real Scully finds the real Mulder and wakes him up. He struggles to stay awake, and she begs him to help her fight. He asks her to help him in turn.

A week later, Mulder’s recovering at home, ready to go back to work. Scully visits, and he tells her that Hosteen died last night. He was in a coma for two weeks, so there was no way he could have come to see her at her apartment. Scully says that’s impossible, and Mulder asks if it’s more impossible than what she saw in the Ivory Coast. (Or, you know, THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.) Scully says she doesn’t know what to believe anymore. She was so determined to save Mulder that she was able to deny what she saw. Now she doesn’t know what the truth is.

Then Scully breaks her own news of death: Fowley was found murdered just hours earlier. Scully didn’t trust her, but she knows Fowley sent her the book that helped her save Mulder, so Fowley deserves some credit. Mulder says that he was like Scully once. He chose a path that took him away from his beliefs, and in the end, his world was unrecognizable. Scully told him the truth. “Even when my world was falling apart, you were my constant, my touchstone,” he says. She tells him he’s the same to her. In one last dream scene, Mulder and the boy build a big sand spaceship together.

Thoughts: One of the boys in Mulder’s dream (they keep changing ages) is played by the same twins who played Owen in early years of Party of Five. Two of the doctors involved in the procedure are played by Brian George and David Brisbin. Coincidentally Brisbin’s character appears to be an anesthesiologist, which is what he plays on ER.

David Duchovny co-wrote the episode and personally rewrote the ending because he thought Mulder was too upset about Fowley. Gillian Anderson’s hair is different in the final scene because she got it cut between the original taping and the reshoot.

For connections between this episode and the movie The Last Temptation of Christ (the inspiration for my recap title), see the X-Files wiki.

AS IF Mulder would be tempted to marry Fowley. AS IF Scully wouldn’t be his literal dream wife.

February 6, 2018

ER 1.3, Going Home: If You Say You’re Okay Enough Times, Eventually People Will Believe It

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:56 pm by Jenn

Probably not the help Carol needs, but still important

Summary: It’s Carol’s first day back at work since her suicide attempt, though her mother isn’t sure she’s ready for it. Carol claims she is and gathers her things. A woman wakes Benton, who’s sleeping at the hospital, and sings to him. The first person Carol sees when she gets to the hospital is Carter, who remembers meeting her on his first day. She jokes that she thought it was her last. So I guess that’s how she’s going to handle this. She quickly realizes that she’s not as ready to go back to work as she thought she was.

Benton asks Lydia if she knows which doctor his singing alarm clock belongs to. “No, but I can name that tune,” Lydia quips. Mark doesn’t know whose she is either. Doug asks him if he’s seen Carol; this is the third time he’s asked. Carol greets Susan and Jerry, saying she’s there to deliver barbiturates. Someone please get her a psych consult. Jerry tells her that Doug warned them all to be sensitive toward her. Benton brings in the singing woman, and Jerry says the cops found her on the El without an ID. Benton tries to pass her off to another babysitter, but everyone’s busy.

Carol peeks in at Doug, who’s examining a crying toddler, then moves on without speaking to him. Lydia gives her a hug and offers to talk if Carol ever wants to. Jerry tries to apologize for joking around with Carol earlier (even though she was the one joking), and she assures him that she’s not as fragile as Doug seems to think. Haleh is thrilled to see her so she can hand back some responsibilities. Mark already has a patient for Carol and tells her that everyone’s rooting for her to succeed. Carol admits that she may have jumped back in too quickly. Mark thinks, since it’s Monday, things will be slow.

Carter ends up with the singing woman, and we find out later that her name is Mary, so I’m just going to start calling her that now, because it’s faster. She’s stopped singing, but now she’s crying. Carter has no idea how to deal with her. Mark pulls Carol into a trauma as Jerry gets a call about a patient coming in with a heart attack. Mark tells him to give that case to Susan. Benton helps him with his trauma patient, who was shot, but Carol jumps over to Susan’s patient. Doug briefly sees her and says a quick hi.

Susan’s patient, Mr. Flannigan, is feeling better and tells her his cardiologist is Jack Kayson. Carol goes back to the trauma room to get something for the patient but is asked to stay with the trauma. Susan’s still waiting for Kayson to get in touch, and she’s uneasy about treating Mr. Flannigan without a complete medical history, but she has no choice. When Kayson arrives, he disagrees with Susan’s treatment and takes over the case. The other patient is sent to surgery, and Mark praises Carol for her good work. She may doubt that she’s ready to be back, but he assures her that no one else does.

Mark’s next patient, Mrs. Cheung, has facial injuries and doesn’t speak English, so Haleh isn’t sure how she was hurt. Mary’s singing again, and Carter’s still keeping an eye on her. Susan and Div chat about baseball on their way to meet them. Mrs. Cheung’s preteen son, Frank, says she fell down the stairs, which Mark finds interesting, since they live on the first floor of an apartment building. Clearly, there’s something Mrs. Cheung doesn’t want Frank to tell Mark. He sends Frank out of the room while he continues his treatment.

Mary talks to Div about her time singing at a club during the war. Carter’s impressed, saying he wouldn’t have thought to talk to her about music since he knows nothing about it. Susan whispers that Div doesn’t either. Div asks Mary questions to determine her mental status, but she thinks she’s in a jail, not a hospital. She also thinks it’s 1948 and Harry Truman is the president.

Morgenstern runs into Carol and welcomes her back. He makes it clear that her return to work is a big deal, and people should be concerned about whether she was ready, but they all agreed she was. Carter has a list of possible diagnoses for Mary, but Div tells him to think of horses, not zebras, when he hears hooves. The most logical explanation is probably right: Alzheimer’s. They need to find Mary’s family. Benton’s annoyed that Carter has spent so much time with Mary, because I guess he’s not supposed to care about people.

Mark tries to get Frank to tell him what really happened to his mother. If they know the truth, it might help them treat her. Frank won’t respond when Mark questions the story that Mrs. Cheung fell down the stairs. Doug asks Carol to have lunch with him, but she already has plans with her fiancé, Dr. John “Tag” Taglieri. Benton again criticizes Carter for spending too much time with a patient. He takes him up to the roof to meet a patient arriving via helicopter.

Morgenstern tells Mark and Susan that he’s changing the time of a morbidity and mortality (M&M) conference that afternoon so Kayson can attend. He wants Susan to present Flannigan’s case. She admits to Mark that she dreads having to revisit the argument she had with Kayson about treatment options. On the roof, Benton and Carter receive their patient, a 16-year-old girl injured in a jetski accident. No one loses any limbs.

Doug thinks his crying toddler might have meningitis, so he needs to perform a spinal tap. The patient’s father passes out at the thought. Carter tries to pass along information about his patient to some nurses, but he has the details wrong. Mark asks Doug if he’s talked to Carol yet. Doug says Tag interrupted, and Mark says he shouldn’t be surprised; they’ve been together for a while. Did Doug expect Carol to fall back in love with him while she was gone?

Susan has a patient who needs stitches on her arm, but didn’t mention that she has cancer. The patient, Mrs. Packer, resists being admitted for a blood transfusion to treat aplastic anemia. She knows she’s dying, and she doesn’t want to spend what little time she has left in the hospital. Doug performs an uneventful spinal tap, and Carter and Carol both take a moment to admire the sight of him holding a child. Carol is still acting like everything’s fine.

Carter stitches up Mrs. Packer while Mary sadly hums to herself nearby. He courts the wrath of Benton by checking on her and trying to comfort her. He tries Div’s method of connecting with her by talking about music; they agree that Ella Fitzgerald’s talent is unmatched today. Mary sings some Ella but it doesn’t cheer her up.

Mark and Carter’s flirtatious patient is back, this time complaining that her breasts hurt. She says her name is Proserpina. Mark wants to leave early to have dinner with Jen, but he promises Susan he’ll wait until after her M&M. Haleh tells Mark that Frank wants to talk to him. He seems scared.

The liquor store owner who was shot in the previous episode is back with another gunshot wound. Benton wants Carter to come help him, but Carter’s busy making out with “Proserpina.” An x-ray tech catches them but just goes about his business. Mrs. Packer starts to leave, pausing in the hallway when she hears Mary singing. Susan asks her again to stay for treatment, but Mrs. Packer resists again. However, she’s pleased that she got to have such a nice afternoon – she got to hear Mary Cavanaugh sing in person. As Mrs. Packer leaves, she collapses.

Frank confesses to Mark and Haleh that his father hit his mother. He’s on his way to pick them up right now. Mark assures him that he did the right thing, and they’re going to find people to help him and his mother. He tells Haleh to call Social Services and try to find a shelter. Haleh remarks that she’s never seen such an old-looking child.

Morgenstern runs the M&M, which Benton attends along with Susan, Kayson, Mark, and another doctor. Morgenstern determines that Susan’s treatment worked, so Kayson’s wasn’t necessary. Benton, Mark, and the other doctor, Langworthy, all admit that they would have treated the patient with angioplasty, as Kayson wanted.

After the meeting, Susan’s mad that Mark showed up late and then sided with Kayson. He tells her it wasn’t personal. Susan’s annoyed that everyone else in the room was a surgeon, so of course they wanted to operate. Her decision was valid, and Mark should have backed her up.

Carol asks Carter if “Proserpina” (real name: Liz) found him. The x-ray tech overhears and remarks that he used to know someone like her. Her middle name was Penicillin. Carter chuckles, then realizes it might not be that funny. Doug asks Carol to get coffee, and this time she accepts. First she checks on Mrs. Packer, who has finally agreed to a transfusion. She’s had a lot of time to think about dying, and it makes her realize that every day is a gift. She doesn’t know how and when she’ll die, but she knows it’s not today. She already has plans.

Mr. Cheung has arrived, and he isn’t interested in talking to Mark. The social worker tells Mark that Mrs. Cheung and Frank don’t want to go to a shelter, and she denies being abused, so there’s nothing they can do. Mark tries to get Frank to ask Mrs. Cheung again what really happened. He won’t talk, and when the social worker asks, Frank says his father hasn’t hit him or his mother. They have to let the family leave.

Carter and Mary chat some more about music as he takes her to meet up with her granddaughter to go home. The granddaughter apologizes for letting her wander off so far, but Carter isn’t too upset about it. Doug and Carol meet up in the ambulance bay, and he asks to go out with her again, even though he knows she’s with Tag. She guesses that he feels guilty for her suicide attempt. She tells him it had nothing to do with him, though she isn’t specific about it. Doug asks if she really wants to be with Tag. Isn’t he worth another chance? Carol points out that things didn’t work out for a reason.

Mrs. Packer has a christening to go to, so she’s leaving for the night and will return the next day to complete her transfusion. She doesn’t want to miss a minute of her time with her family. She’s not going to give up on life while she still has some time left. Susan summons Carol to help her with Mark, saying he’s hurt, but it’s just a ruse to get her to a surprise welcome-back party. The staff gives her a neck brace she can put on the next time she needs to alert them to a problem. Carol thanks them all for saving her – by doing so, they gave her a gift, and she’s going to remember it every day. But they can’t help remembering what they went through.

Thoughts: Kayson is played by Sam Anderson. Mary is played by the late Rosemary Clooney, who was, of course, George’s aunt.

Drink every time Benton tells Carter to stop spending so much time with his patients. You’ll end the series with liver damage.

Who the heck asks an engaged woman on a date? I mean, I know you’re cute, Doug, but really.

February 3, 2018

The X-Files 7.1, The Sixth Extinction: Death and Resurrection

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

My next Halloween costume

Scully’s still in the Ivory Coast, and still voicing over stuff. She came here to look into something she didn’t believe in, but she’s staying anyway, and will be there as long as Mulder’s sick. She’s not sure how to reconcile what she’s found with what she believes. She thinks Mulder should have been the one to find the spaceship. As huge bugs swarm around a lantern, Scully voices over that she’s going to figure out the link between Mulder’s sickness and the stone rubbing. Every illness contains the source of its cure.

There’s a man in Scully’s tent, but he disappears before she can see him. She turns off the lantern and grabs a machete that just happens to be lying around. The bugs are suddenly dying. Scully goes outside, but the beach is empty. When she returns to the tent, the bugs are flying around again. They cover the lantern and swarm her.

Back in the U.S., Skinner learns from Mulder’s doctor that his brain is dying. When Skinner goes in to see him, Mulder doesn’t seem to hear him. But then he attacks Skinner, trying to strangle him. Once Skinner has been rescued, Mulder just starts yelling. Skinner finds a piece of Mulder’s hospital gown in his pocket, with “HELP ME” written on it.

In the Ivory Coast, men come to the beach to dig out the spaceship. A woman named Amina finds Scully in her bug-covered tent and asks to see the spaceship. Scully asked for it to be kept a secret, but Amina says it’s become pretty well-known thanks to word of mouth, what Merkmallen called the “African Internet.”

Scully tells Amina, who’s also a biology professor, about what happened to her the night before, with the vanishing man and the bugs. Amina tells her not to tell anyone else – the men working there will see it as an omen and will want to stop unearthing the spaceship. For now, they need to let the men keep digging. One of the men starts yelling that the water is boiling. Scully sends him off to the hospital with burns. Amina tells her it’s another warning.

In Georgetown, Mulder is now restrained, and Skinner has to sneak in to see him. He promises to help, though he doesn’t know what to do, and he probably doesn’t have much time. Mulder can’t speak, but he can write on Skinner’s hand. Scully voices over that she can feel Mulder slipping away as she continues to try to figure out what’s happening with the spaceship. She just wants to learn how to use its power to save her partner.

A Jeep arrives on the beach, and the man who gets out wants to show Scully something. He’s brought Barnes with him. Scully tells Amina that Barnes killed Merkmallen, which Barnes denies. He tells Scully that the spaceship has extraterrestrial origins. Scully points out that he doesn’t believe in that stuff. “Neither do you,” he replies, but she’s there, so…

Barnes wants to help Scully help Mulder. He can read the symbols that will give them the answers theologians have been looking for all this time. Scully knows the news will get out quickly without Barnes’ help, so she allows him to stay. His driver shows them blood in the ocean water. Scully looks over at some rocks and sees the vanishing man from her tent standing there.

Mulder’s message has directed Skinner to Kritschgau, though neither man is sure why. Kritschgau goes to the hospital to see Mulder, who’s basically catatonic. His brain waves start changing whenever Kritschgau speaks. Skinner tells Kritschgau that Mulder said he was hearing voices. Kritschgau thinks Mulder’s anticipating things – he’s responding to questions Kritschgau hasn’t asked yet.

The men take Mulder to the hospital’s drug lockup so they can inject him with something that will allow him to communicate again. Kritschgau has read studies about remote viewing, a kind of ESP, and knows Mulder is being drugged the way those subjects were. Their brains worked overtime, but there was a drug they could be given that would make their bodies keep up. Skinner realizes that Mulder knew about this, and knew Kritschgau knew, which is why he wanted Skinner to contact him. As soon as Mulder is injected, he says, “They’re coming.”

After noticing that Mulder wasn’t in his room, someone called Fowley, but when she arrives, Mulder’s back where he’s supposed to be. Skinner claims he found Mulder wandering in the hallway. He pulls rank on Fowley, ordering her away. Mulder is somehow able to read minds now (I don’t know), and he warns Skinner that Fowley knows what’s going on. He tells Skinner to find Scully. Skinner says he doesn’t know where she is.

Mulder knows that Krycek is involved, and Skinner’s being blackmailed, so he doesn’t think Mulder can trust him. He just needs Kritschgau to prove what’s causing his illness. Kritschgau doesn’t believe in aliens, so he just thinks Mulder has a brain abnormality. Mulder still believes, though, and thinks Kritschgau is the key to helping him.

Scully puts together pictures of the spacecraft so she can look at the symbols. Barnes has written down the alphabet of the ancient Navajo language they’re written in, so Scully can translate. A lot of the workers have been scared away, so only a few men are still digging, but they’ve found some amazing things – Scripture from multiple sources and times. Scully’s worried that the secret won’t stay secret, and that she’s too late to help Mulder.

Amina brings Scully more symbols; they’re a passage from the Quran talking about the day of final judgment. Scully has found panels that correspond to human chromosomes. They may contain a map to human genomes. She sees this as beautiful, intricate artwork. Amina sees it as the word of God. Barnes disagrees, saying God doesn’t exist. Suddenly he believes in aliens and thinks life began somewhere other than Earth. The women think he’s gone crazy, and when Barnes picks up a machete, they probably think he’s confirmed their diagnosis.

Barnes tells Scully that she’s wasting her time and can’t help Mulder. Scully insists that the symbols have power. Barnes agrees, but he says Mulder got too close to it. He sits by the entrance of the tent, holding the machete, and tells the woman that no one will leave before he does.

Kritschgau tells Skinner about the remote-viewing tests as he sets Mulder up to do some. He’s supposed to touch screens and determine where an image of a UFO is – kind of a high-tech version of Three-card Monte – but his accuracy rate is only about 5%. Mulder’s confused, since he can see the images in his head. They do the test faster, and Mulder’s accuracy goes way up. In fact, he can anticipate where the UFO will be before it gets there.

Barnes seems to be dozing off in the tent, so the women keep an eye on him to see if they can run. Something rattles and wakes Barnes. It looks like some dead fish have been revived, and Barnes credits the spaceship. He’s distracted enough that Scully’s able to grab something to use to knock him out.

She and Amina escape in Barnes’ Jeep and head to the police, but Scully sees the vanishing man in the road and tells Amina to stop. He disappears again, then appears in the Jeep. “Some truths are not for you,” he tells Scully, reaching out to touch her forehead. It’s actually Amina reaching for her, making sure Scully’s still alive. She tells Scully the men were right to see everything as an omen and run away. Scully decides it’s time to go back to the U.S.

Mulder’s in bad shape again, and Skinner doesn’t want Kritschgau to inject him again for more tests. He thinks Kritschgau is using Mulder to get revenge on the FBI. Kritschgau insists that he’s trying to prove what Mulder’s been working on the whole time. Now Mulder’s the proof – “he’s the X-File.”

Skinner thinks they’ve gone too far, but Kritschgau thinks Mulder would keep going if it meant finally uncovering the truth. Skinner gives in. They inject Mulder again, but Fowley arrives before they can move him. She detains Kritschgau as Skinner tries to explain to Fowley and Mulder’s doctor what they were trying to do. Mulder suddenly starts seizing.

Barnes’ driver goes looking for him in the tent and is rewarded with a machete in the neck. Back in the U.S., Fowley tells Mulder that she knows what’s going on with him, and that he knows she’s a traitor. She needs him to look inside her and understand that she has her reasons for the actions she’s taken. She tells him she loves him, then leaves.

As soon as she’s back in D.C., Scully goes to Skinner to ask where Mulder is. He tells her she probably can’t get in to see him, since he and Kritschgau screwed up and now Mulder’s under heavy guard. He also can’t be treated because the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him. Scully insists that Mulder isn’t dying; in fact, he’s more alive than his body can handle. And it may be from something extraterrestrial. Skinner agrees but doesn’t think anything can be done. Scully thinks that her medical credentials will get her access to her partner.

Barnes looks at all the pictures of the spaceship, getting distracted when he hears a glass of water being knocked over. He realizes that the driver’s body is gone and thinks that means the driver has come back to life. There are footprints on the beach (but only one set, because I guess this is when Jesus is carrying the driver). The zombie driver attacks Barnes with the same machete used to kill him.

Mulder’s ears are ringing and he’s hearing voices, but Scully’s is loud and clear as she convinces the doctors to let her see him. We get a rare in-person “Mulder, it’s me.” She asks for a sign that he can hear her, but he’s catatonic again and doesn’t give one. She thinks he would be able to find a way to hold on and stay alive if he knew what she’d been through.

Scully says that she’s found the key to every question that’s ever been asked. It’s a puzzle, and they’ll have to put the pieces together. She beg him to hold on. Back in the Ivory Coast, some soldiers accompany Amina to the beach to retrieve Barnes’ body. The spaceship is gone. To be continued, again…

Thoughts: Look, I don’t care what mysteries of the universe I could be solving – if there’s a swarm of bugs involved, I’m out. I’m not even getting to the point where the ocean’s turning to blood.

I feel like Scully and Amina could have easily gotten away from Barnes. Just lift up another wall of the tent and run. Barnes was middle-aged and Scully has FBI training; they could have outrun him.

Wow, Fowley is really a useless character, isn’t she? Also, what happened to Kersh? We haven’t seen him in ages.

January 30, 2018

ER 1.2, Day One: Sleep, Eat, Sex, Repeat

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:43 am by Jenn

“Look at us up here on the roof, not losing limbs”

Summary: Susan is trying to sleep when Wendy wakes her to take care of a baby in respiratory arrest. After a few tense moments, Susan removes an earring from the baby’s throat and gets her breathing again. Everyone’s happy, and Susan gets to start her day with a win. Well, everyone’s happy except Carter, since Lydia let him sleep instead of waking him up for the trauma. Instead, he gets to take care of some German tourists with food poisoning. Rectal exams for everyone!

Haleh goes over some patients with Connie as Mark comes in for the day. Timmy sends Susan to see a patient with chest pain; Carter’s thrilled to get to help her and put off the rectal exams. The patient is less thrilled that he’s being seen by a “beginner.” Carter and his ridiculous hair give the patient a thumbs-up.

Mark and Susan chat with Doug, who hasn’t been to visit Carol in the eight weeks since her suicide attempt. They tell him things won’t get any easier, so he should just go. The three accept two car-accident victims via helicopter, and Benton meets them back downstairs to help out. Doug and Mark try to tend to a little girl, but she keeps yelling for her mother, the other patient. The drunk driver who hit them is also in the hospital, with seemingly minor injuries. The husband and father of the two victims also has minor injuries.

Carter has three more rectal exams to perform, but he takes a break to check on the man with chest pain, Mr. Zambano. As Carter’s with him, the man’s alarms start blaring. Carter can’t get any help, since the nurses are taking care of some commotion down the hall. He charges a defibrillator and drags it to Zambano, shocking him back into a stable rhythm. Carter’s both relieved and proud of himself.

Doug and Mark send their patient to surgery, assuring her that her father will be with her when she wakes up. Susan tells Mark that the father is okay, and the driver is doing great. Unfortunately, the mother only gets a “maybe” from Benton.

As they catch a quick lunch together, Mark tells Doug again that he needs to go see Carol, since they used to be close. He offers to tag along, but Doug hasn’t even committed to going yet. Mark thinks Doug blames himself for Carol’s depression, and he needs to forgive himself.

Carter and Benton tend to a store owner who was shot by a preteen trying to rob him. His injuries are minor, but he still needs surgery. Benton tells Carter to babysit him. The patient so grateful that he offers Benton cognac and cigars as a thank-you gift. Susan’s patient, Victor, is confused and agitated, so Susan tells Malik and Wendy to call for a psychiatric consult.

Carter presents a patient to Benton, reciting all the facts like he’s spent an hour studying it. Benton teases him by asking for the patient’s mother’s maiden name. Carter’s confused, and Haleh has to tell him that Benton’s kidding. Carter rattles off the tests and treatment he suggests for the patient, but Benton says those would lead to a malpractice suit; the patient may have thrombosis.

The drunk driver has a blood-alcohol level of .435, and Malik complains to the cop on the case that there’s no justice. The psychiatrist Susan summoned, Div Cvetic, doesn’t agree that Victor needs to be admitted to his service. His problems are medical, not psychiatric. Besides, there’s no bed for him in the psych wing. Susan disapproves, but Div won’t budge.

Mark and Malik’s next patient has a horrible sunburn, but only on the front of his body. He’s in too much pain to sit or lie down, so Malik suggests just propping him against a gurney. Jen suddenly arrives and announces that she passed the bar. Mark ditches his patient so he and Jen can make out in a bathroom. Jen wants to take advantage of their privacy to take things beyond making out.

Benton gives the drunk-driving victim, Mr. Ring, that his daughter will probably be okay, but his wife is going to die. He asks if they ever discussed organ donation. Mr. Ring is too distraught to answer the question, so Benton just comforts him while he cries.

Susan tries to go over Div’s head to an administrator, but the administrator agrees that Victor can be treated medically. An emergency alarm sounds by the admin desk, so Susan, Haleh, Malik, and Timmy rush to the bathroom to see who’s in distress. They soon learn that Mark and Jen accidentally hit the alarm while she was…um…giving him a physical, we’ll say. Everyone keeps it casual until they close the door, and Susan, Haleh, Timmy, and Malik all crack up.

Doug hears the story later and laughs at Mark’s embarrassment while they’re in the bathroom together. Mark knows he’ll never live it down, and though he’s able to laugh it off a little, he’s worried that he’ll get in trouble. The two realize Carter has fallen asleep in a stall and try to wake him. Mark succeeds by yelling, “Clear!”

The patient who flirted with Mark in the pilot returns with a rash and requests Carter as her doctor as soon as she sees him. Doug and Mark’s next patient, Mrs. Franks, is elderly and approaching respiratory failure. Her husband begs them to do everything they can for her. Susan finds Carter checking out the poison ivy on his patient’s butt, and decides she should stay and keep an eye on things. Carter’s completely professional, though, and doesn’t get that the patient is flirting with him.

Mark tells Mr. Franks that they don’t have a lot of options for his wife. She’s terminal, and if they put her on machines to help her breathe, she’ll probably never come off of them. The better option is to make her comfortable and let nature take its course. Mr. Franks tells him to put her on the respirator. Mark decides to do some more tests before they make a final decision. Mr. Franks wants the doctors to know that they have 13 grandchildren.

The drunk driver finally wakes up, but he doesn’t remember the crash. Malik tells him he killed a woman and put her daughter in the ICU. Benton and Carter’s thrombosis patient’s regular doctor comes to see him, disagreeing with Benton’s diagnosis. He accuses Benton of running unnecessary tests and showing off for Carter.

A bride started throwing up during her wedding reception, which was held at the same place where the German tourists ate. Wendy realizes that they should be expected a couple hundred more patients from the reception. Mrs. Franks is awake now, so her husband thinks she’s improving. Mark tells him it’s just because they rehydrated her. She guesses that she’s dying, and when Mark goes over her options, she grasps them better than her husband did.

The food poisoning has been traced to the potato salad, which not everyone at the reception ate, so only about 60 people have been brought in. The musicians from the reception have come in to play for the patients while they wait, which would probably be okay if they weren’t accordionists. Victor is brought in, having been found wandering down a street, still wearing his hospital bracelet. Susan tells Lydia to call Div again; if he doesn’t admit Victor, Susan will sign him in herself.

In the cafeteria, Susan asks Mark if Doug is finally going to see Carol. Then she teases him about his little rendezvous with Jen in the bathroom. Div arrives and yells at Susan for trying to admit a patient to his service after he said no. She admits that she went over his head, which just makes him madder.

Carter tells Benton that he thinks he was right about their thrombosis patient. Benton sarcastically says that he’ll be sure to tell the New England Journal of Medicine that Carter agreed. Benton, this is why no one likes you. The hospital turns into a reception hall, with patients and staff members dancing to the accordion music. Mark’s enjoying himself until Connie tells him that Mrs. Franks has died. Her husband sings “That Old Black Magic” to say goodbye. Doug has to fight back tears.

Home for a few hours, Mark congratulates Jen again on her success. She suggests picking up where they left off in the bathroom, even though they’re in their very visible backyard. He has to go back to work in a couple hours, so he says no. Jen realizes he’s never going to leave County. She says she needs him, and he assures her that he loves her.

Carter gets in his Jeep to leave for the night and is surprised to find his flirtatious patient in his backseat. She wants to go home with him. Carter immediately calls the police and has her arrested for stalking. Ha ha ha ha, no, he doesn’t. He takes her home with him. At her own home, Susan complains about being unable to get help for her patients. The person she’s complaining to is Div, and they’re definitely not just work colleagues. He warns that not everyone she deals with at the hospital will be as understanding as he was. Wait, he considers that “understanding”?

Doug finally goes to see Carol, but her mother, Helen (who isn’t played by the same actress who plays her later), tries to make him leave. Carol says he can stay and accepts the flowers he’s brought her. They only chat for a minute, since he’s too emotionally closed off to talk any longer than that. Back at County, Lydia wakes Benton, whose thrombosis patient is back in the ER. This time, Benton will get to do everything he wanted to before.

Thoughts: The administrator Susan tries to get to overrule Div is played by Tobin Bell, AKA Saw from the Saw movies.

Jen is the wooooooooorst. She’s not so bad in these early episodes, but later…gah.

Remember my game Spot the Doll? You can play it with this show, too. If there’s a kid in a scene and it’s not moving, it’s really a doll.

January 27, 2018

The X-Files 6.22, Biogenesis: Outer Space Is Hazardous to Your Health

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:24 pm by Jenn

Teeny Scully for scale

Summary: Scully voices over stuff about Earth and life and mass extinctions. Everything gets killed off; species come back; then everything gets killed off again. There have been five extinctions, and I guess humans are due a sixth. We also don’t know where life came from, or whether there’s a reason for our existence. Are we just going to die off again and be forgotten? In the Ivory Coast, some men find something interesting in the ocean as Scully wonders if the mysteries of life will be explained through a sign or a revelation.

The men bring over another man to look at their discovery, a piece of stone with symbolic writing on it. The man takes it to his university and puts it together with a piece he already has. The two pieces stick together and fly across the room, impaling a Bible. When he pulls out the stone, it starts spinning around on his desk. He leaves to make a phone call to the U.S., not looking at the passage in the Bible the stone has pierced: Genesis 1:28, in which God tells Adam and Eve to start making babies.

Three days later, the man arrives at American University in D.C. to meet with a Professor Sandoz. The man is Solomon Merkmallen, because the show thinks it’s funny to make me type “Merkmallen” over and over. Sandoz works with monkeys, so it’s not clear what he can do for Merkmallen and his stone. The stone caused some problems with metal detectors in the airport, and Merkmallen was almost detained. He pulls out the stone and the monkeys go ape. (Sorry. Okay, I’m not.)

Merkmallen tells Sandoz about the two pieces of stone becoming one. Sandoz has a third piece, and Merkmallen wants to see if it fits with his two. When Sandoz asks if Merkmallen has had any luck reading the symbols, Merkmallen realizes he’s not really Sandoz. Sandoz attacks him, and a few minutes later, another professor finds Merkmallen dead in the lab. Sandoz is gone, and the monkeys probably won’t be able to tell this guy what happened.

Skinner presents the case to Mulder and Scully, thinking that Mulder would be interested because he’s familiar with Merkmallen’s work in the field of biology. Merkmallen and Sandoz both believed that life began elsewhere in the universe. Scully’s also familiar with the theory, which posits that life began on another planet and was blasted to Earth.

The agents get a rubbing of the stone, and Mulder says that Sandoz had a third stone, which he wrote about in a science journal (just so Scully knows this isn’t a completely paranormal theory). Sandoz is now missing. Scully thinks this is a matter for the police, but since Skinner wants her and Mulder on it, Mulder’s not going to turn down the case. Scully sarcastically wonders why two men who basically believe that we’re all martians would come to harm.

Mulder’s ears start ringing when he takes another look at the rubbing, and he hears a voice and has a hard time hearing what Scully’s saying to him. They’re in an elevator, and no one else appears to be having the same problem. Scully thinks he’s just ignoring her because he doesn’t want to listen to her ideas, but he tells her he couldn’t hear her. She notes that he’s already won – he exposed the Syndicate’s secrets and found out about their experiments. What else is there for him to find? “My sister,” Mulder replies.

They go to Sandoz’s lab, where the fake Sandoz is hanging around. He’s Dr. Barnes, the head of the department, and is pretending that the real Sandoz killed Markmallen. Mulder has his same ear-ringing, voice-hearing reaction when he looks at the rubbing again. Barnes calls Markmallen and Sandoz “pseudoscientists” and embarrassments to the field. Scully checks on Mulder, who guesses that the rubbing is causing his problems.

The agents split up, then meet back up in their office, along with Chuck Burks, who I previously called Chuck Burk. I apologize, sir. Anyway, Scully has called him in to authenticate the rubbing and give a professional opinion on why it seems to be affecting Mulder. Chuck is fascinated, especially since the rubbing is a fake. It’s written in pre-phonetic Navajo, but none of it makes sense. Scully notes that, since it was found all the way in Africa, the whole thing makes even less sense.

Chuck brings up the magic square, which is connected to the occult. The belief is that God handed down the square to Adam and Eve, then told saints and prophets other important people how they were used to trap and store potential power. Only a person who is named in the square, or a “numerical correlative,” can exercise that power. Barnes has discounted this idea, and has accused Sandoz of fakery in the past. In fact, Barnes has debunked a number of potential religious frauds.

Mulder, for once, is the skeptic here. Scully points out that, if the stone found in the Ivory Coast were part of a magic square, how did it get there? Mulder notes that a piece of rock from Mars was found in Antarctica in 1996. How did that get there? Scully replies that it was from outer space. Mulder’s like, “I think you just answered your own question.” Chuck wonders why someone would use Navajo writing to produce a fake magic square in Africa.

Mulder has another reaction to the rubbing, this one more intense than the previous ones. Scully thinks he needs to get medical attention, ignoring his claims that he’s okay. He thinks he knows what’s really going on, thanks to senses he’s been getting. He’s figured out that Barnes killed Markmallen. Scully notes that they don’t have any evidence, but Mulder thinks he’s connected more dots.

The agents go to Sandoz’s apartment in Maryland, where Mulder finds an airline tag on a suitcase indicating that Sandoz has been flying to Gallup, New Mexico a lot. Scully finds a picture of Sandoz with Albert Hosteen and guesses that Sandoz got Hosteen to write the symbols on the stone for him. Mulder smells something gross and discovers poor Markmallen’s head in the garbage.

The agents meet with Skinner again to tell him that they think Barnes, not Sandoz, is the killer. He tried to frame Sandoz and is trying to hide something else. Scully reports that parts of Markmallen’s body are missing – parts that could be tested to detect radiation. The stone contains cosmic galactic radiation, radiation found only in places outside our solar system. Mulder’s being space-poisoned!

His ears ringing again, Mulder asks Skinner if someone else is working the case. He says he can hear it in his head. Scully takes him out of the room to tell him he’s losing it, but Mulder insists that Skinner is holding something back and spying on them. Scully promises to find the stone, but Mulder needs to take care of himself. Skinner watches them leave, then retrieves a tape from a surveillance camera in his office. He gives the tape to Krycek, who leaves without a word. He doesn’t even say “thank you”! This is why people don’t like you, Krycek!

Scully heads to a hospital in Gallup and finds another rubbing in Hosteen’s room. Genesis 1:28 is written out on the back. Scully learns from a nurse that Hosteen is dying of cancer. Back in D.C., Mulder searches Barnes’ office but has to hide when Barnes returns. Barnes seems to sense that something’s off. He goes to the monkey lab, which is also Mulder’s next search location. Mulder’s ears start ringing. Barnes leaves, and as Mulder follows, the ringing gets louder. He’s unable to make it up the stairs.

As Hosteen is returned to his room, Scully spots the real Sandoz lurking around. She chases him through the hospital, eventually cornering him in a stairwell. Meanwhile, Krycek finds Mulder suffering at American but, again, leaves without a word. He meets with Barnes, telling him they’re “destined to be great friends.” He gives Barnes the surveillance tape.

Scully takes Sandoz to Hosteen’s room, and Sandoz reveals that Hosteen confirmed the importance of the stone for him. He couldn’t read Sandoz’s piece, but when Markmallen contacted Sandoz about his two pieces, they had something to go on. The translation of the symbols is Genesis 1:28. Sandoz believes that this means the scripture verse came from aliens. Hosteen was working on another section of the stone when he got sick. This one seems to just contain random letters, though. Sandoz pulls out the piece, which starts spinning like the first two did.

Scully calls Mulder, who’s sick in bed and won’t tell Scully who answered his phone. She tells him about the scripture, and Mulder says it must mean that aliens placed us on Earth. This explains all the mysteries of the world – it’s all from the aliens. Scully refuses to believe this, so Mulder tells her to prove him wrong. He hangs up and hands the phone back to his caretaker, Fowley. Fowley then calls someone to say that Mulder called her in distress, and she’s staying with him until she finds out what’s wrong. Somehow, this involves taking off her clothes. Meanwhile, CSM attends a meeting (but doesn’t take off his clothes).

Another Scully voiceover! This one is about the Big Bang, matter, and gas. Are we only meant to be on Earth to multiply, then die? “If there is a beginning, must there be an end?” Scully and Sandoz accompany Hosteen to his reservation, where his tribe begins a healing ceremony. Scully wonders if we’ll go extinct, or if the fire of life inside us will go on. Who tends those flames? Can they be rekindled?

Sandoz invites Scully to sit in on the healing ceremony, but Scully doesn’t think it’s appropriate, since she doesn’t share the Navajos’ faith. Sandoz tells her that the doctors say they’ve done all they can for Hosteen, which Scully believes. Skinner calls to tell her that Mulder’s been admitted to a hospital in Georgetown in bad shape. She needs to come home ASAP. Scully promises to keep Sandoz’s location a secret for now.

At Georgetown, Scully is stunned to learn that Mulder’s in a special psychiatric unit. She can tell that there’s something else Skinner hasn’t told her. Fowley tells Scully that Mulder was asking for her the night before. Now, though, he’s violent and agitated, despite the drugs he’s been given. He’s also displaying abnormal brain activity. His doctor doesn’t want Scully to see him, saying Mulder’s dangerous, but Scully doesn’t think he’ll hurt her.

Fowley asks what Mulder and Scully were investigating, and how it could be connected to Mulder’s condition. Skinner insists that the case is about a fraud, and that Scully has proof. She’s confused, since she never sent Skinner a report on the fakery. She’d also like to know why Fowley was with Mulder the night before. Fowley says that Mulder called her from the stairwell at American, and told her that she was the only one who would believe him about the stone. Scully accuses both Fowley and Skinner of lying, then leaves.

In Gallup, the healing ceremony continues. Sandoz suddenly leaves. Scully searches her and Mulder’s office and finds a surveillance camera in a smoke detector. As she’s about to remove it, the phone rings. It’s Sandoz, who has realized that the random letters on the fourth stone correspond to genes – every chromosome of humans’ genetic makeup. He just wishes they could find more pieces.

Some horses near Sandoz start getting agitated, and Scully hears a loud bang through the phone. Krycek has arrived in Gallup and removed Sandoz from the equation. 36 hours later, Scully’s in the Ivory Coast, looking for more pieces of the stone. One of the men who found the first one show her where it was in the sand. She digs a little and finds something much bigger buried there: a giant FREAKING SPACESHIP. To be continued!

Thoughts: Man, according to this show, everything related to aliens causes cancer.

The sight of Scully on the beach in a jacket and long skirt probably isn’t supposed to be as funny as it is.

Does anyone else think all the stuff about Genesis 1:28 and multiplying is foreshadowing for the end of season 7?

Speaking of which, season 6 is done, and it’s on to season 7! Just one more season until Duchovny ditches!

January 23, 2018

ER 1.1, 24 Hours: Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the News

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 8:48 am by Jenn

This show is brought to you by the color sea green

Summary: Dr. Mark Greene is woken by Nurse Lydia Wright at 5 a.m. so he can see a patient. He tells her to give the patient to an intern, but she tells him it’s Dr. Ross. Mark heads to the mostly quiet ER, where Doug Ross is drunkenly singing “Danny Boy” to himself. Mark and Nurse Wendy Goldman start to sober him up in an exam room as Doug tells Mark about a date who was surprised to learn how sexy a pediatrician could be.

Doug asks if Mark and his wife, Jen, have resolved their problems. He hopes Mark doesn’t leave the ER. Wendy asks Mark if Doug does this a lot; Mark says it’s just on Doug’s nights off. He goes back to bed, but Lydia wakes him again to ask a question. She wakes him for real at 6:30 so he can start his shift.

Dr. Susan Lewis and Dr. Peter Benton are also on duty. Desk clerk Jerry Markovic is done for the day and heads out with the shift change. Benton sees on the news that a building has collapsed, which means a number of patients will be coming in, and Benton will have lots of people to operate on. Mark gives instructions to his intern, then strikes them all so they can prepare for the mass casualties coming in.

As Nurse Carol Hathaway takes a patient, Doug wakes up hungover. Benton works calmly on his patient, with a better bedside manner than we will ever see again over the next six seasons. Despite his adventures the night before, Doug steps in to help, working with Nurse Haleh Adams. Benton tells a surgeon that he’d better save a patient’s hand, since he told the patient they would. The other surgeon knows that Benton would love to do the operation, but he’s only a resident, so he’s years away from being able to handle it himself.

Susan’s patient only has minor facial injuries, and also lets us know that it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and the hospital is called Cook County General. He asks if Susan’s married; she says no, since she’s a doctor. He starts to ask her out, but she shuts him down, saying that he wouldn’t want to fall on his face again.

Benton takes over Doug’s patient just before she starts coding. They work to shock her heart back into rhythm. Doug helps Susan with her next patient while Nurse Malik McGrath tries to get Benton to check out some more people. He’s still working on Doug’s patient, and is able to revive her. Mark tells the son of one of the victims of the building collapse that his father died. The son pounds on Mark a little, then breaks down in tears.

Once things have quieted down, the doctors go to a lounge to do paperwork and catch each other up on their patients. Benton complains that the nurses keep coming to the doctors’ lounge and drinking their coffee, but Mark makes him calm down. The doctors hope that their new medical students, who are starting that day, will be better than the last bunch.

Carol comes in with more paperwork, and Benton confronts her for being a coffee thief. She tells him to make more. Benton complains that they work 90 hours a week for very little money; they shouldn’t have to make their own coffee. Carol has no sympathy.

Mark rushes off to the cafeteria to see his wife, assuring Susan that everything’s fine. (Spoiler alert: It’s totally not.) Mark and Jen’s daughter, Rachel, is also there, being cute and eating grilled cheese for breakfast and showing no signs of the brat she’ll become in a few seasons. Jen asks if Mark is going to go to an interview for a job elsewhere; the hours would be better, allowing them to spend more time together. Mark doesn’t seem that excited about taking a job somewhere else.

Later in the morning, med student John Carter arrives in a tailored white coat, which the doctors quietly make fun of. Carter is Benton’s third-year surgical student, and Benton isn’t that excited about having to teach him. He gives Carter (and us) a quick tour and a run-down of things he’ll need to know. Despite being a third-year, Carter has never started an IV, which doesn’t help Benton’s impression of him.

As they pass Carol, Benton mentions that “she goes with an orthopod who used to be a Big 10 tackle and looks like King Kong.” (Who says “goes with”?) Then he takes five seconds to teach Carter how to start an IV. Carter tries to take notes on everything Benton says, but he’ll never be able to remember it all. Benton introduces Carter to Dr. David Morgenstern, the head of the ER, warning that he eats students for lunch. Morgenstern says that Benton is one of the best residents at the hospital, and Carter’s lucky to learn from him.

Benton takes Carter to a suture room to stitch up a woman’s hand. Meanwhile, Doug meets his own student, Tracy Young, who seems immune to his charms, somehow. Wendy calls Benton away, so Benton leaves Carter to finish with the woman by himself. Tracy is much more confident with her first patient, though she could use some help with bedside manner (that’s where Doug’s charms help). They determine that their young patient has an ulcer, most likely because of his super-type-A mother.

Benton checks on Carter, criticizing him for taking so long with the woman. The woman is pleased with the work and asks when she should come back to get the stitches removed. Carter makes something up. Susan does some labwork, then gives Carol some instructions for a patient. Carol is clearly a higher-up, as other nurses come to her with questions. She also used to date Doug, and obviously regrets that they’re not still together.

Carter’s next patient is Officer Martin, who accidentally shot himself in the leg. Carter tries to start an IV but is hopelessly incompetent. Officer Martin asks how often Carter has done this before. “I’d hate to tell you how often I’ve done this before,” Carter replies. Officer Martin complains about his wife, who he was fighting with when the accidental shooting occurred. Officer Martin needs some anger management, and his wife should probably move out.

Mark and Carol tend to a man who had double vision when he woke up. Since he doesn’t have any other symptoms, Mark doesn’t want to waste the patient’s money by calling in a neurologist. He should just go home and come back if the double vision returns. The man accuses Mark of refusing to treat him because he’s black. Since Mark appears to be Jewish, at least according to the patient, he should be more sympathetic to discrimination. Mark tells Carol to call neurology and bill the patient for the consult.

A cab driver runs in and announces that there’s a woman in labor in his cab. Mark grabs Carter to help him bring the woman in from the snow. Carter has to put his hand between the woman’s legs to hold the baby in before they get to a trauma room. Doug comes in to help, but the baby comes so fast that Mark is the only one ready to deliver it. Carter just stares at the miracle of birth, amazed. Benton tells Carter to go back to his actual job; the ER doctors can screw things up on their own.

An x-ray tech takes a long time with Officer Martin’s x-rays, only telling Benton what he already knows. Mark’s next patient has an injured ankle and only wants to know if he gets workers’ comp. Mark thinks he should be glad he’s still alive, unlike the next patient over. Doug diagnoses a young boy with an ear infection, and the boy’s mother comments to Haleh that Doug is handsome. “He knows it,” Haleh remarks.

Carter asks Benton for his next patient, but Benton tells him he can go have lunch. Carter says he’s fine and wants to keep working. Benton tells him not to be a hero – it may be a while before he gets to have dinner, so he should eat when he can. Tracy is shocked to see that a crack dealer in the ER is just a kid. She has to call security in case the dealer’s rival gang members come in to finish him off.

Just as things are getting hectic in the ER again, Mark announces that he’s going off to an appointment. He meets with a Dr. Harris, who has a job opening in a private practice that will pay Mark tons of money. Harris thinks that the ER is for young doctors. Mark will be much happier going to conferences around the world and working in a calm, nice-looking facility. Mark still isn’t that enthusiastic.

It’s 3 p.m. and the snow has turned into rain. Mark returns to Cook County, where Doug asks about his interview. He also wants to know about the rumor that Mark hooked up with a technician. Doug knows it’s not true; Mark is faithful to Jen. Mark adds that he’s also too tired to cheat.

Susan leaves her patient, Mr. Parker, to take a phone call from a guy named Paul. He wants to go out; she thought they broke up. She goes back to Mr. Parker with bad news: There’s something in his lung, and it might be bad. Susan doesn’t want to say anything definitive, but Mr. Parker wants a straight answer.

She finally tells him that, with his history, he could have cancer, but he shouldn’t jump to conclusions until he’s had more tests. Then she tells him that he probably has six months to a year to live, if that. Mr. Parker thinks this is a good time to take his wife to the Bahamas. He thanks Susan for being straight-forward, then remarks that at least now he doesn’t have to quit smoking. He starts to cry, but Susan tells him that, in her job, she’s learned that nothing’s certain. He hugs her, then leaves. Susan takes a moment to collect herself, then goes back to work.

A nicely dressed woman named Mrs. Raskin tells the desk clerk, Timmy, that she needs medical attention. He directs her to Mark, who hesitates to take care of her hangnail, since it’ll cost a lot of money. Mrs. Raskin is wearing a fur and wouldn’t be out of place in Millicent Carter’s circle of friends, so she doesn’t care. She’s very familiar with Mark and even knows that Jen is studying for the bar exam.

There’s another shift change, and Jerry and Nurse Connie Oligario come in as some other nurses head out. Carol takes something from the drug lockup before leaving for the night. Carter stitches up the foot of a teenager who’s upset that she crashed her father’s new Cadillac. When her dad arrives, at first he’s just happy that she’s okay, but when the news sinks in, he’s pretty angry. Carter makes a great “if I sit very still, they won’t know I’m here” face.

Benton criticizes Carter’s speed again, telling him that since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, they’re going to have a lot of people to look after. One of them is a little boy who swallowed a key. His mother is more concerned about being locked out of the house than she is about the fact that her kid ate something that wasn’t food. Doug and the kid giggle at her.

Carter questions a patient who denies that she’s pregnant, even when Carter warns that she could have an ectopic pregnancy that could require surgery. He takes the case to Benton, who gets the girl to admit that she’s had sex. He agrees with Carter’s assessment that she has an ectopic pregnancy.

Mark and Susan have coffee, and he complains about Jen’s expectations of him and how often she laments the little time they get to spend together. Mark gets paged, and the two return to the ER, where the staff is practically silent. Doug is shaken, wondering how this could happen “to her, of all people.” An ambulance arrives with “her” – it’s Carol, and she’s unconscious from an overdose.

Lydia asks why she would overdose, but Mark chastises that they don’t ask that about any other patient who overdoses, so they can’t ask it here. Mark and Susan work on Carol as other staff members, including Doug, watch. Mark finally notices and has Malik close the curtain around them so they can have some privacy.

Morgenstern is called in, but he’s not sure if they should keep trying to save Carol. Mark thinks they have to keep working, if just for the morale of the unit. Morgenstern tells him everyone’s looking to him: “You set the tone.” They all feel guilty and angry and scared because one of their colleagues is in the ER, but they need to take care of her, then take care of everyone else. He repeats that Mark sets the tone and will need to get the unit through this crisis.

Doug can’t believe that, after a day when she seemed so normal, Carol would try to kill herself. Mark tells him to go get some coffee, but Doug has a hard time making himself leave. Meanwhile, Benton takes on a patient who was stabbed, but Carter struggles to keep down his lunch. Mark notices him going outside for fresh air and follows him. Unlike Benton, who’s spent the whole day telling Carter to move faster, Mark tells him to take his time.

Carter apologizes for getting sick and emotional, but Mark says he shouldn’t be sorry. There are two kinds of doctors: those who get rid of their feelings and those who hold on to them. It’s more important to help the patients than think about their own feelings, but it’s not easy to keep them inside. Sometimes it’s enough to make Mark want to quit. He tells Carter again to take his time recovering, then reveals that Benton got sick all the time in medical school, so Carter shouldn’t take any crap from him.

Once he’s better, Carter finds Benton and tries to make small talk. Benton says not to worry about what just happened, but he shouldn’t make a habit of it. Susan talks to an administrator about Carol; she thinks Carol took the right drugs to get the job done, so she knew exactly what she was doing. No one had any idea that she was suicidal, even her fiancé. The administrator worries about how the hospital will look now.

Mark wants to admit a patient, Mr. Larkowski, who has an ulcer and pancreatitis. Larkowski starts crying, thinking that Mark is trying to sugarcoat his real diagnosis. Mark assures him that he doesn’t have cancer. Larkowski doesn’t seem to hear him, so Mark says firmly that he’s okay – he just needs to stop smoking and drinking. Larkowski’s more upset about that than he is about being terminally ill.

Doug treats a baby who fell out of his crib, according to his babysitter. Doug tells her that the baby was beaten, so he’s calling the proper authorities. The babysitter worries that she’ll get in trouble. Mark treats a woman who burned her legs when she accidentally spilled hot water she was pouring into the sink. She tries to flirt, but Mark stays professional. Lydia witnesses the whole thing and gives some great “you have to be kidding me” faces.

Benton’s next patient was supposed to undergo an operation for an aortic aneurysm next month, but it’s leaking. He needs immediate surgery, but no one’s available to do it. Benton tells Susan to call Morgenstern in; Benton will get things started. Susan reminds him that, as a resident, he’s not qualified, but Benton knows the patient will die if he doesn’t go to the OR immediately. He admits to the anesthesiologist that he’s scared, but he thinks he’s the patient’s only chance at survival.

Just before it’s time to scrub in, Benton sticks his head into another OR and announces that he’s operating next door and would like some help when the surgeons are done. They think he’s joking. Benton gets started, and though the bleeding and beeping alarms indicate that things aren’t great, he keeps his cool and repairs the leak. Morgenstern and another doctor are on their way, and Peter comments that now he has all the help he wanted before.

While working on a patient, Mark stops and says he can’t give up working in the ER. Lydia tells him Jen is on the phone, and he tells her to say he’ll call back. Benton and his thrown-together team take a break while waiting for Morgenstern, and Benton’s about to start jokingly reflecting when Morgenstern finally comes in. He blasts Benton for the ugly incision he made on the patient, then takes over. Benton starts to leave, disappointed not to be acknowledged for his life-saving measures. Morgenstern then praises him for doing the right thing. Benton quietly celebrates with a fist pump in the hallway.

Doug’s patient’s mother has arrived, and she’s annoyed that Doug hasn’t given the baby anything that will calm him down. She blames the babysitter for the baby’s skull fracture, but Doug knows the sitter isn’t responsible for that or the other injuries the baby has sustained in the past. The mother also denies responsibility, but Doug has seen enough abuse to know she’s lying. He yells at her for beating a child, then takes out his anger on Tracy. He assures the sitter that the baby will be okay, and that she did the right thing.

Benton finds Susan in the lounge and asks after Carol, who isn’t doing well. A young cop brings in a man in diabetic ketoacidosis, and is proud of himself when Mark says he probably saved the man’s life. Jerry, unimpressed: “What do you want, a medal?” After tending to the patient, Mark realizes he didn’t call Jen back. He decides to wait until the morning.

Benton checks on the man he operated on, who’s doing well in recovery. The patient’s wife is grateful that Morgenstern came so quickly and saved her husband. She wants to thank Benton, too, but he pretends he only helped out a little. Doug apologizes to Tracy for yelling, and she invites him to get coffee. It’s safe to assume that they end up in bed together after that, but we never see her again, so who knows?

As Carter finishes his day of doing stitches by doing more stitches, Susan falls asleep while listening to a call-in radio show. A caller is complaining about how much doctors charge for their services. Susan just rolls her eyes. Benton goes off to get some sleep in an empty room, while Carter decides that the chairs in a hallway are comfortable enough. Mark asks Lydia for another 6:30 wake-up call, just like that morning. It comes before he knows it.

Thoughts: I make no promises about recapping the entire series, since it’s 15 freaking seasons. But I’ll see what I can do.

Mr. Parker is played by the late Miguel Ferrer, George Clooney’s cousin. Carter’s pregnant patient is played by a very young, unrecognizable Shiri Appleby, who also plays Daria in season 15. Officer Martin is played by Troy Evans, who later plays Frank Martin. Officer Martin’s first name is Jonathan, but I think we’re supposed to assume that he and Frank are the same character.

Most people probably know this, but Carol was originally supposed to die. The audience liked her character, so the writers saved her.

Speaking of likable characters, Benton is more likable here than at any other point in the series. And he’s still kind of annoying here.

January 20, 2018

The X-Files 6.21, Field Trip: The Field Where I Almost Died

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

I like Scully’s coat, but, uh, I wouldn’t wear it now

Summary: A couple named Wallace and Angela comes home from a hike, which she didn’t enjoy very much. She has a headache now, so he offers to let her hit him in the head with a rock until she feels better. Angela takes a shower and briefly sees yellow goo running down the walls. Then she sees it running down her body. She still has a headache when it’s time for bed, and she’s a little freaked out by what she saw. She and Wallace lie in bed together, in the same position as two skeletons found in an open grave in a field.

In D.C., Mulder shows Scully a picture of the skeletons, which were ID’d as Wallace and Angela. They were last seen in Brown Mountain, North Carolina. They’d been missing for only three days, and the temperatures weren’t consistent with ones that would lead to their bodies decomposing. Scully thinks they were murdered and had their bodies destroyed in a ritualistic manner, maybe with acid. Mulder tells her that there was no sign that anyone else had been around the area where the skeletons were found.

700 years ago, a bunch of people saw lights in the sky in Brown Mountain, and Mulder thinks that unexplained phenomenon, which was probably UFOs, is linked to Angela and Wallace’s deaths. Scully asks if he really thinks aliens flew over the same mountain for 700 years. She asks Mulder to come up with a logical explanation for once. He points out that he hasn’t been wrong very often in the past six years, so maybe she should listen to him. He’s at least earned the benefit of the doubt.

The agents go to Asheville to examine the skeletons. Scully asks the coroner to confirm that the skeletons are really Angela and Wallace’s, and not two people who have been dead for six months. The coroner says he triple-checked the dental records. Scully finds yellow goo on a skeleton, but the coroner thinks it’s just “bog sludge.” Mulder heads off to check out the place where the bodies were found while Scully starts her examination.

Mulder finds yellow goo at the open grave, then recognizes a man walking around as Wallace. Wallace runs from him and appears to hide in a cave. Meanwhile, the coroner tells Scully that the bog sludge is actually a digestive secretion – basically, stomach juices. It also contains an enzyme only found in plants. The coroner remembers it from a previous case involving skeletal remains, but the victims had been missing a long time, so no one thought anything strange was going on. However, the bodies were found near where Wallace and Angela’s were.

Scully quickly calls Mulder, but I guess there’s no reception in the cave. She tells the coroner to send the goo to Quantico while she goes to the mountain to find her partner. In the cave, Mulder finally finds Wallace, who begs Mulder not to take him. He thinks Mulder is “one of them.” Mulder informs Wallace that his skeleton was found, but Wallace knows it’s fake, placed by the aliens who abducted him and Angela. They wanted to fake the couple’s deaths so no one would go looking for them. They returned Wallace, but Angela’s still with the aliens, undergoing experiments.

Scully arrives at the mountain and follows Mulder’s footprints to the cave. She tramples some mushrooms and kicks up some dust on her way. Mulder tells Wallace that they need to find a way out of the cave; he doesn’t realize that there’s an opening in the rock wall behind him that used to be solid. Wallace thinks the aliens are messing with Mulder’s head and are right outside. Mulder starts to leave, but a bright light shines in the cave. Wallace runs and Mulder chases him again.

The light is from Scully’s flashlight, which isn’t much use to her. Unable to find her partner, she leaves. Further in the cave, there’s another light, which soon goes out. Mulder wonders if the aliens are looking for something other than Wallace. Or maybe they were just making a return trip, as Angela is now in the cave with the men. Mulder questions her about what she remembers while Wallace studies the yellow goo running down the cave walls.

Angela doesn’t remember much, but it sounds like her experience was similar to Scully’s when she was abducted. Mulder examines her neck and finds a scar from an implant. He tells the couple that Angela’s story sounds just like the ones other abductees have given, except for the fake skeletons. He wants to run, but Wallace and Angela are worried that the aliens will come back and abduct them again. They see a light and decide to hide. Mulder, however, goes toward the light and its accompanying rumbling.

Suddenly, Mulder’s in his apartment in D.C., summoning Scully to come meet him. She’s ticked that he ditched her in North Carolina. Wallace and Angela are also there, and Mulder tells Scully that she needs to forget about her scientific biases and listen to him. He’s positive that aliens exist, and that he’s finally found the truth. Not only did Angela have the same experience as Scully, but the group has brought a friend along with them to D.C.: a little gray man. “I abducted him,” Mulder says proudly.

He continues that the alien speaks to him telepathically and explained everything to him. Scully can hear the alien, too, and is amazed that Mulder’s theories have finally been confirmed. But then he starts questioning the skeletons and the goo they found on them. Scully’s suddenly skeptical about science. Mulder has a headache now, and when he goes to splash some water on his face, he briefly sees the water in the sink as the yellow goo. When he returns to the others, he sees the room warping and the people dissolving into the goo. In reality, Mulder’s still in the cave, stuck to the wall, with goo dripping all over him.

Scully brings the coroner to the mountain and sees that the goo is seeping up through the ground. The coroner, who I really wish had a name so I could stop typing “the coroner,” notices footprints going both in and out of the cave. Scully’s surprised that she didn’t see that before. She also didn’t see a skeleton lying in a field nearby. The two take it back to the coroner’s office and use Mulder’s dental records to ID it as his body.

Scully guesses that the goo they keep finding sped up the decomposition process, but the coroner points out that there’s no goo on the skeleton. The coroner thinks they need to look for the most logical explanation. He gives the same one Scully did when Mulder first presented the case. He promises to handle all the arrangements and have Mulder’s remains sent to Washington.

In D.C., Scully meets with Skinner, who accepts her explanations for what happened. Scully’s surprised, since she couldn’t find Mulder’s cause of death or explain what happened to his body. To her, what she did come up with is the least plausible explanation. Skinner thinks it was the most likely answer, though. Scully notes that she was assigned to the X-Files to be a skeptic; now she’s acting like Mulder. Her scientific approach has never explained any of their cases. But Skinner doesn’t think Mulder’s theories were right.

Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment for a wake. The Lone Gunmen are there, and Langly’s wearing a tuxedo T-shirt, because of course he is. Byers tells Scully that they’re investigating on their own; she’s relieved that she’s not the only person who thinks there are more answers to be found. But the Gunmen think Mulder was murdered in a ritualistic manner – it’s the obvious answer. They promise to make the killer pay. Scully can’t believe she’s the only person asking questions here. Of all people, the Gunmen should be skeptical.

Skinner notices that Scully’s struggling and tells her to go home and rest. Scully sees yellow goo dripping in front of her. She demands to know where Mulder really is, yelling that something else is happening. There’s a knock at the apartment door, but no one moves to answer it. Scully opens the door and Mulder enters, only now the apartment is empty.

Mulder tells Scully that he was abducted from the cave and taken to the same place Wallace and Angela described. She reminds him that Wallace and Angela are dead, not realizing that, since she found Mulder’s remains and he’s still alive, Wallace and Angela’s remains don’t mean anything. She wonders why the aliens returned Mulder to D.C. when they took him from North Carolina. She realizes that he doesn’t remember getting there.

Scully starts questioning everything: Why did Mulder knock on his own apartment door? Why isn’t he surprised that Scully’s there? Where are Angela and Wallace? What happened to everyone at the wake? Scully realizes this is a hallucination, though she’s not sure which one of them is having it. She remembers the mushrooms and guesses that their spores led to this weirdness. They might still be in the cave at Brown Mountain.

Scully continues that Angela and Wallace could have been digested by the yellow goo, which is the same hallucinogenic substance as the spores from the mushrooms. Maybe that organism needs to feed on living tissue. It could lure its prey into the cave and use the goo to keep it still. Mulder starts to get the picture as Scully suggests that they’re being digested right now. Mulder sees her dissolve in yellow goo.

At the mountain, Mulder digs himself out of the ground, then pulls out an unconscious Scully. They return to D.C. and give Skinner their report about a giant mushroom that eats people. They’ve confirmed that the spores create a substance similar to LSD. Skinner buys everything, but Mulder’s a little fuzzy on how they escaped. Did Scully’s realization of what was going on just break the mushroom’s spell? Can you will yourself out of a chemical hallucination?

Skinner guesses that the effects just wore off, but Mulder notes that he and Scully don’t show any signs of being exposed to the yellow goo, even after being exposed to it for hours. He thinks they’re still underground – they never escaped. Scully guesses that he has PTSD and is confused about what’s real and what isn’t. Mulder says that Skinner isn’t real, and he’ll prove it. He pulls out his gun and shoots Skinner, who bleeds yellow goo. Then Scully sees Mulder dissolve.

In the cave, the agents are both covered in yellow goo. Fortunately, people are looking for them, led by Skinner and the coroner. Mulder’s able to reach a hand aboveground and get himself and Scully rescued. They’re loaded into the same ambulance and reach for each other’s hands. And then I guess the giant mushroom is destroyed before any stoners in the area can learn about it and organize a big party at the mountain.

Thoughts: All three guest stars in the episode are recognizable:

The first clue that none of this was real is that Mulder doesn’t have a victory dance prepared when Scully tells him he was right about everything.

So…I guess Wallace and Angela are really dead? That sucks.

January 16, 2018

SVT Super Edition #12, Good-bye, Middle School!: What’s a Better Twist Than Ghosts? Twin Ghosts!

Posted in books tagged , at 4:53 pm by Jenn

Why does the twin in pink look two years younger than the other one?

Summary: Okay, this is confusing, so bear with me. There was a Unicorn Club series that took place during the twins’ seventh-grade year, and this book, while considered an SVT book, takes place after that series. So the twins are about to start eighth grade, which means we’re more than a year in the future after No Escape! Amy has moved away, and there’s a new Unicorn named Rachel, but pretty much everything else is the same.

There are too many students at SVMS, so the district is opening a new school. No one’s sure who will be going to which school yet, so some of the kids are worried about being separated from their friends. At the same time, Elizabeth has been accepted into a program she applied for that will have her building houses in Costa Rica for a month during the summer. Jessica is upset that they’ll be apart that long, because they’re still co-dependent. Then she hallucinates a Native American woman’s face at the bottom of Lila’s pool, so I guess the Unicorns have started doing drugs.

The Unicorns decide to have a big end-of-summer cookout at Secca Lake. Jessica starts worrying that she’ll be separated from them at school and won’t have any friends. She decides to invite the whole grade to the cookout, so they’ll see how cool she is and want to be friends with her. It’s not the best motive, but her desire to want to make more friends is pretty admirable. Winston is worried about hanging out near the haunted burial ground, which makes Liz a little nervous, too, but no way are they going to miss the big bash. Then Liz hallucinates a Native American mask with a scar. So maybe she’s on drugs, too.

Alice tells the girls that there’s a rumor that the new middle school will use an accelerated curriculum. Elizabeth loves that idea, but Jess doesn’t want to do any more studying than she has to. She thinks they might not end up at the same school. They fight, and this kicks off all sorts of angst about how they’re not as close as people think they are. Like it would be a fate worse than death for them to go to different schools and not spend 24 hours a day together. Girls, you’d still live together. Chill.

Jessica’s next hallucination is a voice at Secca Lake telling her to listen. There’s more fighting between the twins, and more angst about growing apart. They shut up long enough to plan the cookout with some of the other kids. Elizabeth, Randy, and Cammi go to the Bread Basket Bakery to buy dessert for the party, and the owner, known as Bakery Lady, mentions eerie stories she’s heard about Secca Lake. Later, Jess stops by the baker and meets the Bakery Lady’s sister. She repeats what the voice at the lake told Jess, warning her to listen.

Everyone has a great time at the party…except the twins, who keep moping about their bickering. The kids have all agreed to play Truth or Dare because there are some secrets being kept that others want out in the open. Each twin is asked why she’s moping, but neither wants to talk about it. They accept dares instead, and are sent off to creepy places alone. Jess has to go to a place called Echo Ledge and yell, “Listen!” so the other kids can hear her. Liz has to go to the burial ground and bring back a flower.

Both twins complete their dares but realize they’re not alone. The Bakery Lady has followed Liz and wants to tell her a story. Meanwhile, her twin, the Basket Lady, has a story for Jessica. The older twins reveals to the younger ones that they ran the bakery together until the Basket Lady decided she wanted to make baskets instead. They fought, and the Basket Lady left. She went to Secca Lake to gather reeds to make a basket, but she got sick and later died. The twins never spoke again and were never able to make up.

Jess and Liz realize that they need to reunite immediately, before one of them dies. Liz falls in a hole, and Jess starts to worry. The other kids note that she can just use her psychic abilities to find her sister. Apparently it hasn’t come out in the past year and a half that that was all a scam. Also, for some reason, no one’s worried that Liz is in danger. Jess has to guilt them into helping her look for her twin by reminding them of all the nice things Elizabeth has done for them.

Elizabeth hallucinates the Bakery Lady and Basket Lady’s fight, then wakes up and hears Jessica searching for her. She finds Liz, not because she’s psychic but because she knows her sister so well. It’s really because Jessica remembered what she kept hearing about listening, and heard Elizabeth in the dark. Also, I’m not sure how knowing Liz well would make Jess figure out that she was in a hole.

The next day, the twins go to the bakery to see the older sisters, but they’re told that they’re the real owner’s great-grandmother and great-aunt. Ghosts! Of course! Sigh. Also, their names were Bessie and Jessie. Double sigh. And yes, they were Native American, which just makes the whole thing feel offensive. But I guess if it makes Jessica and Elizabeth get along again, we’re supposed to be grateful.

Thoughts: Steven: “Ever convince kids a place is haunted? No? You really should.” Heh.

Lila likes chicken wings? Not a chance.

Randy wants Lois to teach him how to do the twist. IT IS 1998. I won’t miss this kind of ridiculousness from the ghostwriters.

So…that’s it for Sweet Valley Twins. And, at least for now, that’s it for me with books. I’ll be adding a new TV series to the lineup, so stay tuned…

January 13, 2018

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

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

The cigarette is a Morley, of course

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts: Ellis is played by the late Charles Rocket.

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

I love drugged Scully. God bless Gillian Anderson.

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