April 17, 2018

ER 1.13, Luck of the Draw: Susan vs. Kayson, Round 2

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

Maybe med students shouldn’t be allowed to touch potentially dangerous equipment

Summary: Mark arrives at work at the same time as Susan, who’s nervous because Morgenstern wants to see her about Mr. Vennerbeck’s death. They run into Kayson, who greets Mark and completely ignores Susan. Benton, who’s looking for Carter, is being followed around by a new med student, Jing-Mei Chen (AKA Deb). Benton passes her off to him and runs off to perform surgery without his own clingy student.

Doug’s taking care of a girl named Lucy who was bitten by a hamster. Her aunt, Leslie, has brought her in, and, because she’s a woman with a pulse, she can’t help flirting with Doug. Mark is amazed when Doug doesn’t return her affections. Carol tells Lydia about her weekend ice-fishing (and doing other things) with Tag. Lydia asks if they’ve set a wedding date, which makes Carol tense. She feels like she’s just getting her life back together. She admits that she may have some hesitance about making a life-long commitment. Then she accidentally sticks herself with a needle.

Mark wants to know why Doug didn’t accept what was clearly an invitation to a date with Leslie. Doug says that if it’s only about guaranteed sex, he’d rather play tennis. Mark is very disappointed. Lydia and Wendy try to reassure Carol that her chances of catching HIV from the patient the needle came from are very small. However, she should avoid having unprotected sex for the next six months. Well, at least Carol has an excuse not to get married for the next six months.

A customs agent wants Mark to deal with a detainee named Jorge who swallowed condoms full of cocaine. Mark can’t give Jorge any medication without his consent, but he warns that he could get really sick if any of the condoms break. The customs agent isn’t impressed with Mark’s rudimentary Spanish, which he picked up working in the ER. Doug tends to a boy named Ben who’s in respiratory distress. Ben’s father, Mr. Gaither, says this happened before, when Ben had pneumonia.

Morgenstern tells Susan that he tried to talk Kayson down, but he’s bringing charges against her. She’ll have to appear before a committee next week and defend her actions. Susan argues that she tried to present Mr. Vennerbeck’s history to Kayson, but he wouldn’t listen to her. Morgenstern is concerned that Susan didn’t assert herself. She has a history of deferring to other doctors rather than advocating for her patients. She may not be a good match for the ER. Ben isn’t stabilizing, so Doug takes a chance with some medication. Mr. Gaither isn’t as happy as he should be to hear that his son is going to live.

Mark talks to Carol about her needle stick, joking that he should empty a container of used needles so he can catch up with her (she’s been stuck five times now). He asks if she and Tag have set a date; unlike with Lydia, Carol keeps calm and just says no. Susan, however, is agitated because of her meeting with Morgenstern. Carol talks to a patient named Alan who has organized his medical records so thoroughly that they’re all color-coded. He’s wearing all blue because it’s Monday, and he’d really prefer not to be put in a green exam room.

Ben needs to be admitted to the hospital, so Mr. Gaither sets up some of his things in his room. He’s annoyed that Doug doesn’t have a good idea of what treatments he’ll need. Mr. Gaither starts a metronome, telling Doug that Ben likes rhythm. He was in an accident that left him with a brain injury, and Mr. Gaither likes to surround him with familiar things. He asks if Doug has children, and Doug makes one of his rare references to his son. Mr. Gaither leaves for a job interview.

Mark has passed Jorge along to Carter and Chen, so Carter makes Chen perform the patient’s rectal exam. It’s unpleasant for both of them. As Susan and Carol examine Alan (in a yellow room), Morgenstern invites Benton to cover for a surgeon who will be going out of town. Benton happily accepts, knowing it’ll be good practice for when he’s chief resident. Morgenstern admires his “naked ambition tempered by arrogance.” Benton’s scrubbing in for an operation, but he gets a call from Walt about his mother being missing and has to step out.

Susan looks at one of her patients’ charts and sees that Mark signed it. She checks some others and sees the same thing on them. She goes to find Mark, who’s not seeing any progress with Jorge, probably because the 100+ condoms he swallowed have made his body unable to move anything anywhere. Susan confronts him for signing all her charts, and he reveals that Morgenstern told him to double-check all her work. She asks why he didn’t stand up for her. Mark reminds her that she lost a patient; as chief resident, it’s Mark’s problem, and he has to listen to his boss.

Susan realizes that Mark knew ahead of time what Morgenstern was going to say to her in their meeting. He told Morgenstern that Kayson is hard on her, and he’s not surprised that the result was a lack of communication that led to someone’s death. Mark also agreed with Morgenstern that Susan backs down when she goes up against hard-headed men like Benton and Kayson.

Ben wakes up, so Doug turns on the metronome for him. Wendy shows him that Mr. Gaither signed a do-not-resuscitate order for his son. Susan tells Wendy to give her patient some medication, but she says milligrams when she means micrograms. Wendy timidly corrects her as Mark looks on. A man named Mr. Desmond comes in after having been beaten up for saying derogatory things about people. He explains to Mark that he’s a sociologist studying violence. He says inappropriate things to antagonize his subjects and provoke violence. His insurance premiums are the same as those of NASCAR drivers.

Mr. Gaither returns to the hospital, and Doug tells him that Ben will die – possibly in the next few hours – if he’s not put on a ventilator. If Mr. Gaither allows Doug to treat Ben, he could live for a long time. By signing a DNR, he’s giving up. Mr. Gaither responds by walking out of the room without saying anything.

Benton’s mother has wandered off from her equally elderly caregiver, so he and Walt go looking for her around the city. Walt still thinks Mae should be put in a facility, and Benton still disagrees. They argue about how Walt takes care of all the bills at the house and tends to Mae, but Benton won’t let him make any decisions. Benton reminds Walt that he’s a high school dropout and runs a business the Bentons provided for him. Walt spits out that he takes care of his family and Mae, while Benton only has to take care of himself.

Mr. Desmond picks Carol as his next subject, asking her about her fiancé and wedding plans after noticing her engagement ring. He thinks she can’t commit, possibly because she believes she’s too good for him. Carol gets revenge by pouring peroxide on his cuts. Mr. Desmond tells her she’s high up on his index detailing the time between provocation and assault.

Jorge has popped a condom, so Mark, Carter, and Chen take a crash cart to his room in case he needs it. Chen accidentally shocks Carter with the paddles as she’s handing them over. Hilariously, Mark and Haleh aren’t concerned, since the amount of charge was so low, and they just keep doing their jobs while Carter lies on the floor. Once Jorge is taken care of, Haleh determines that Carter’s injuries are more from bumping his head when he fell than from being shocked.

Carol gets back Alan’s chest x-ray, which doesn’t look good. He has cancer, and he didn’t bother to tell Carol or Susan about it when he came in. He ignores their encouragement to get treatment and asks to be alone. Benton finds Mae at an outdoor ice rink and finally brings up the idea of putting her in a facility. She reminisces about the time they spent at the rink and nearby baseball field when her children were young. In a moment of clarity, she recalls that her husband is dead, then tells Benton she doesn’t want to move into a nursing home.

Susan, Haleh, and Malek tend to a little girl who was shot in a drive-by. Mark comes in to help but lets Susan take the lead. Kayson arrives and criticizes Susan’s technique in a procedure. Susan stands up for herself as Kayson says she can’t do it. She keeps trying but has to admit defeat and get Mark to finish.

Benton goes back to work and rushes to join the operation he was supposed to assist with. While moving Ben to the ICU, Wendy tries to make small talk with Doug, saying that she didn’t know he has a son. Doug admits that he’s never seen the boy and doesn’t even know his name. Carol hears Susan crying in the bathroom, but Susan just wipes her face and walks out like nothing happened. Benton’s too late for surgery with Morgenstern, who chats with his replacement about that piano showroom he mentioned before.

Mr. Gaither tells Doug that he just got offered a job in Detroit and will have to move. He admits that he started thinking about how much easier his life would be if Ben were dead. He wonders what kind of person he is for thinking like that. But for the past two years, Mr. Gaither has taken care of his son on his own, all day every day. He hasn’t been able to work or have a life outside of his son. He loves Ben, but he needs this to end. Doug doesn’t say anything, possibly because he has no place to, considering he doesn’t even know his own child’s name.

Carter’s just now regaining consciousness from his trauma during Jorge’s trauma. Chen and Haleh tell him that Chen used him as a practice patient so she could hone her skills at giving rectal exams. Haleh corrects her recordkeeping – she should write that Carter has normal male genitalia, not average male genitalia. Carter grabs the paperwork and realizes they’re just kidding.

Carol’s next patient is a boxer, and she sticks him in Mr. Desmond’s room for her own amusement. Mark apologizes to Susan for not giving her a heads-up about Morgenstern’s meeting or his orders to co-sign her charts. He thinks it’s understandable that she was unable to do the procedure on the girl with Kayson staring at her. Susan thinks he’s just apologizing to try to make himself feel better. He extends an olive branch by inviting her to Doc Magoo’s, the ER staff’s favorite hangout, after work.

Carol finds Alan in the dreaded green room, thinking about taking more chances. As Mark and Doug are getting ready to leave for the night, Carol’s boxer punches Mr. Desmond, making him fly into the hallway. A bunch of the staff goes to Doc Magoo’s, and Carol announces that she and Tag will be getting married on May 18th. She also won 10 bucks in the lottery, a 1 in 250 chance – the same chance she has of contracting HIV from her needle stick. Doug leads a toast to his ex, and the co-workers start goofing off together. Susan watches from her car, moping instead of joining in the fun.

Thoughts: Leslie is played by Kristin Davis.

Chen complains later in the series about being called Deb, so I want it on the record that that’s how she introduces herself to Carter and Benton.

Speaking of Chen, she’s like a completely different character between season 1 and season 6. Though, really, the same can be said for Carter.

Jorge swallowed 185 condoms full of cocaine. 185. How is he not throwing up everything he’s ever eaten?

I kind of love Morgenstern’s obsession with the piano showroom. I wonder if he’ll ever go in.


April 14, 2018

The X-Files 7.11, Closure: In Starlight

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

Shouldn’t these kids have adult supervision?

Summary: The bodies of Ed’s victims are exhumed and taken away for examination as Mulder voices over something poetic about their deaths. That night, visions of the children crawl out of their now-empty graves and form a circle before vanishing. Mulder voices over that he wants to believe that they’ll one day be reborn.

At the Sacramento police station, officers review Ed’s tapes while Mulder looks at his pictures. Scully tells him that Ed committed his first murder when he was 19, after he was asked to play Santa at a school. He’s made a full confession, but he won’t admit to killing Amber Lynn, and her body wasn’t in any of the graves. Neither was Samantha’s. Mulder says he just wants this to be over.

A man named Harold Piller comes to the station to offer his services as a police psychic. He’s intuited that they’re still looking for a girl who isn’t among Ed’s victims. He thinks he can find her. Scully sees that Piller has worked in many different countries, and hasn’t always succeeded at finding missing people. He explains that in one instance, he determined that the kids were walk-ins, transported from the sites of their supposed deaths “in starlight.”

Scully pulls Mulder aside to warn him that he’s vulnerable and shouldn’t believe that Piller can help them. He reminds her that Kathy Lee also mentioned walk-ins, so there may be something there. Scully argues that it’s just an explanation to offer comfort when people can’t explain what really happened. Mulder thinks the bodies really are somewhere else. Maybe Samantha’s is, too. Scully says that she’s going back to D.C.; there’s nothing more for them to do in Sacramento.

Mulder and Piller go to the mass grave site as Piller explains that his son disappeared under “strange circumstances” and was never found. One day, Piller started to see him. Mulder asks why walk-ins take children. Piller tells him that in most cases, the parents have a vision of the kids being dead. He thinks good spirits are responsible for those; they’re showing the fates the kids were going to meet. The spirits intervene and transform their fates into starlight, saving the kids.

In this instance, though, Piller knows that Ed’s victims all died horribly, pleading for their lives. He can see them. Mulder asks about Amber Lynn, but Piller says she was never there. However, he can sense a connection between her and Mulder. He can sense that Mulder lost a young girl close to him a long time ago. He guesses it was Mulder’s sister. He thinks Samantha and Amber Lynn also have a connection of some kind. Piller’s sure they’ll find them.

In a video from 1989, Mulder undergoes hypnosis to try to remember what happened the night of Samantha’s disappearance. Scully watches the tape with an agent named Schoniger, who says that Mulder seemed to really be in a hypnotic state. However, he thinks his guilt and fear are preventing him from remembering what really happened to Samantha. His delusion of abduction is playing into his hope that Samantha’s still alive.

Scully asks why Mulder has picked alien abduction as his theory for what happened. Schoniger thinks that in the 16 years between Samantha’s disappearance and Mulder’s first regression hypnotherapy in 1989, he saw a lot of imagery that he made fit. Schoniger guesses that Samantha was just kidnapped (by a human) and murdered. He wonders why Scully’s digging into the case. Scully says that someone owes it to Mulder. Schoniger thinks she should leave the past in the past, but Scully wants Mulder to get closure.

Mulder checks into a motel and falls asleep watching Planet of the Apes. Piller comes by to tell him he’s sensed a visitor who wants to tell them something. He tells Mulder to grab a pen and paper, then relays a message from Teena. It’s about Samantha. A vision of Teena appears behind Mulder, trying to say something to Piller, but she disappears before Piller can get anything from her. Mulder decides Piller is a fraud and kicks him out. But Piller sees that Mulder has written “April Base” without realizing it.

Scully goes back to Teena’s house and finds a scrap of paper that came from something she burned along with her pictures. The only thing she can make out are the letters CGBS. She calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”) and tells him there was a Treasury Department investigation into Samantha’s disappearance. She’s matched the scrap of paper to a copy of the document in the investigation file that calls off the search for Samantha. CGBS are the initials of the person who ended the search – C.G.B. Spender, AKA CSM.

Mulder isn’t surprised that CSM was involved in the investigation, since he was a friend of Bill Mulder’s. He doesn’t think there’s any reason to try to contact him and ask questions. Besides, Mulder’s busy checking out April Air Force Base with Piller. It’s decommissioned, so Mulder doesn’t think it hold any answers for them. Piller accuses him of being afraid of finding out the truth. The base must be important, since Mulder wrote the name down himself. Mulder wonders why it’s so important to Piller.

Scully arrives home to find CSM waiting for her. She thinks he’s sick, since he doesn’t look well, and he tells her he had an operation. She confronts him over ending the search for Samantha. CSM says he did it because he knew no one would find her – she’s dead. Scully asks why he didn’t say anything earlier. Why let Mulder keep believing she’s alive. CSM insists that he was just being kind. Otherwise, Mulder wouldn’t have had any hope.

Mulder and Piller return to the base after dark and climb the fence that’s there to keep people out. Piller senses that Samantha was there, but he can’t determine which house she was in. As they’re hiding from an officer driving around the base, Mulder finds handprints in some cement, with Samantha’s name written next to them. There’s also a set of handprints labeled “Jeffrey.”

Scully comes to Sacramento and gets filled in. Mulder believes that Samantha was abducted and returned, then lived with the Spenders. Scully tells him that CSM said Samantha is dead. Of course, Mulder thinks he lied, but Scully doesn’t think he has a reason to lie. She believes that Piller has been lying to Mulder this whole time.

The agents confront Piller with information he didn’t provide before: He’s the main suspect in his son’s murder, and he’s been institutionalized for schizophrenia. Piller thinks Mulder should believe him anyway, considering what he’s shown Mulder. He has no reason to mislead Mulder. They have the same goal, and Piller thinks his gift is meant to help people. He wants to prove that Samantha is really out there.

The three go back to the base and enter the Spenders’ empty house. Piller tells them to hold hands while he tries to summon the family’s presences. Scully is adequately sarcastic, while Mulder hopes they play spin the bottle afterward. Visions appear, and a boy takes Mulder to one of the bedrooms. He finds a diary that Piller tells him was Samantha’s.

Mulder and Scully read the diary in a diner, learning that Samantha underwent tests as late as 1979. She only has a few memories of her past, but is able to remember Mulder. She hopes someday he reads her diary. The last passage is about how Samantha wants to run away. As they leave the diner, Mulder looks up at the stars and talks about how old the light is by the time we see it. It starts at the beginning of time and will continue to the future. Maybe they’re souls looking for homes. Mulder wonders what Teena was trying to tell him.

The agents split up to get some sleep, and a vision of Teena visits her son to whisper something in his ear. The next morning, Scully brings Mulder a page from a 1979 police department blotter about a runaway matching Samantha’s description. They look through hospital records to find out if Samantha was a patient under a fake name. Mulder finds a file on a Jane Doe who was paranoid and had been abused. He thinks CSM lied about Samantha being dead because she’s still alive.

Scully points out that 1979 was 21 years ago, and they have no idea where Samantha could be now. They don’t know who released her from the hospital, but they do have the name of the nurse who signed her into the ER. When the two of them and Piller go to the nurse’s house, Mulder gets the feeling that this is the end of the road, and he’s finally about to learn the truth.

Scully and Piller go up to the house first and speak to the nurse, Arbutus (…what?) Ray. She had a vision of the girl, dead, but no one believed her. Somehow, it made sense to her. Some men came to get the girl, and the one Arbutus thought was her father glared when she asked him to put out his cigarette. She took the men to the girl’s room, which was locked, but she had vanished.

The boy from the Spenders’ apartment leads Mulder to a clearing where a bunch of ghostly children are playing. Mulder recognizes Amber Lynn, who gives him a smile. Samantha runs up to her brother and hugs him, appearing almost real for a moment. When Mulder rejoins Scully and Piller, he repeats that this is the end of the road. He saw Piller’s son and knows that all the missing kids are dead, but they’re okay. Piller needs to let go. Now Piller’s the skeptic, refusing to believe Mulder. Mulder can’t explain what happened, but he tells Scully he’s fine: “I’m free.”

Thoughts: Piller calling himself a police psychic makes me want an X-Files/Psych crossover so badly.

Who’s responsible for letting Mulder wear his hair the way he did in 1989?

I’m not saying a so-called psychic is reliable, but if my choices are believe him or believe CSM, I’m siding with the psychic.

But seriously: Arbutus?

April 10, 2018

ER 1.12, Happy New Year: Susan vs. Kayson, Round 1

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 5:02 pm by Jenn

Really, Susan, you should be glad that this mess is almost out of your life

Summary: Carter runs down the street to the ER to tell Mark that there’s a man out in the street who appears to have been shot. The two of them and Carol take a gurney to the man and start working on him. Carol peg him as a gangbanger who was ditched on the street after being shot by a rival. Mark allows Carter to do an intubation, since he’s observed dozens of them. With Mark and Carol’s help, Carter does it well. He wants to accompany the patient up to the OR, but Benton says it’ll already be crowded enough.

Sometime later, Hicks comes to the ER to check out one of Mark’s patients. Another, Mrs. Davies, insists that she doesn’t need to stick around, though she’s already been under observation for hours. Lydia’s struggling to stick to her New Year’s resolution to quit smoking, so Bob gives her some encouragement. Doug tries to examine a boy who injured his eye while having a paintball fight with his brother. He tells their mother to keep the paint away from them; she’s offended, like she needs that kind of parenting advice.

Al brings in a homeless patient named Gilbert who’s uninterested in seeing a doctor. He’s also racist, and Al smacks him for throwing a slur at Hicks. Susan tries to talk to Kayson about a patient, but he won’t even slow down on his way to the OR. She wants him to see Mrs. Davies so she can finally leave.

Benton tells Carter that the patient he brought in died in surgery. Carter points out that this is supposed to be his surgical rotation, so maybe he should be doing surgeon things instead of Benton’s scut work. Benton doesn’t see the point in breaking tradition, since this is what all medical students do. Carter notes that he’s there to learn. When Benton asks if he’s learned anything, Carter demonstrates that he’s at least learned to keep his mouth shut at the right time.

Gilbert’s legs are severely frostbitten, though he insists they’re fine. He does perk up at the thought of a warm whirlpool bath, though. Kayson finally comes back to see Mrs. Davies, telling Susan she should have been released hours ago. Chloe comes by, and Kayson takes advantage of her interruption to dismiss himself. He tells Susan to try harder to get his attention next time. Susan tries to pay it forward with brushing someone off by telling Chloe she can’t talk, but Chloe blurts out that she and her boyfriend, Ronnie, are moving to Texas.

Susan takes a break so she can interrogate Chloe about her decision to move. Ronnie doesn’t have a job yet, and the two haven’t found a place to live. Now that Chloe’s pregnant, she needs to make solid plans. Chloe guesses that Susan doesn’t think she should have the baby. She refuses to stay with their parents, since they think she always makes the wrong decisions. Realizing there’s nothing else she can do right now, Susan gives her sister her coat.

A firefighter comes in after being injured in a fire, and his colleagues watch anxiously outside his trauma room. Peter gets coffee with his sister, Jackie, who wants to find a care facility for their mother. Jackie just got a new job, which means she can’t be with Mae all the time. Peter thinks she’s making up for the fact that she had to look after him after their mother went back to work. He doesn’t want to send their mother away, so he tells Jackie he’ll find other arrangements. She complains that he’s suddenly stepping up after leaving everything to Jackie and Walt for six years. She tells him they all have to make the decision together.

Carter tells Mark that he doesn’t think Benton is interested in supervising him anymore. Mark advises him to get used to it, since he’ll probably have worse supervisors in the future. Doug watches Carol longingly as she goes to chat with one of the firefighter’s colleagues. He’s only been on the job three weeks and now isn’t sure he can handle it. Carol tells him to get some rest first.

A patient named Mr. Vennerbeck thought he had a heart attack, but Susan doesn’t see any damage. He tells her he came in two months ago with back pain and was given some medication. She doesn’t think he needs it again, since his pain has gone away, but she can’t sign him out yet.

Carol looks for help with a trauma, and Mark tells her to take Carter. He runs into Benton as he’s getting his coat to meet a helicopter, and the two go up to the roof together. Carter volunteers to intubate the patient, and Benton allows him to after Mark indicates that it’s okay. Morgenstern comes to get the patient from the trauma room, and Carter presents the case like a pro. Benton rewards him by inviting him to scrub in on an operation that night.

Susan has to again flag down Kayson to get his input on Mr. Vennerbeck. Kayson says he can be released, so Susan sends the patient home. Mr. Vennerbeck is annoyed that he had to wait around so long, and Susan apologizes. Hicks overhears and tells her not to worry about getting people’s approval. They take as long as they take to make sure they’re thorough, and they shouldn’t apologize for it.

Doug tries to break up an argument between two pregnant sisters who want to give their babies the same name. Mark enlists Susan to help out with a patient – this one also pregnant – who’s on drugs. She goes into labor while they’re examining her. They try to rush her to labor and delivery, but the baby is breech and starts coming out in the hallway.

Carter helps Doug and Carol with an elderly couple found unconscious in their apartment, probably from carbon dioxide poisoning. Hicks talks Mark through delivering the breech baby, who at least sounds healthy. Lydia comes in to tell Susan that Mr. Vennerbeck is back in the ER. She realizes he has a murmur and may have had some sort of rupture. An angry Kayson comes to help out, telling Susan she’s not needed on the case anymore.

I guess the theme of the episode is pregnancy, because Mark is now counseling a woman who’s crying over the news that she’s pregnant. She tells him she wants the baby; it’s her husband who’s going to have an issue with this. Turns out he’s infertile. Mark doesn’t know what to say, so he walks out. Susan goes over some x-rays with Carter, who notices that she’s distracted. She sends him to scrub in early for surgery, knowing Benton will be early, too. She advises him to remember the names of three body parts, though he doesn’t get why.

Carol checks on the elderly couple, who are both going to be fine. Doug’s sitting with them and says they’re lucky to have been together so long. We get it, you love her; can we move on? Benton walks Carter through scrubbing in for the first time, as it’s a lot more intensive than just washing your hands. Morgenstern and Benton start the procedure without him, talking about how Morgenstern saw a piano showroom on the highway that he’d never noticed before. Shirley the scrub nurse, who will pop up throughout the series, helps Carter finish getting ready, but he immediately contaminates himself by touching Benton’s shoulder.

Doug ends his day with some noisy sex with Linda, teasing that he can’t remember her name. She thinks someday he really will forget her name. He says it sounds like she believes they won’t last. As she goes to get ready for a trip, Doug says he treated a couple who’ve been married for 48 years. Linda says that if they were the marrying kind, they’d already be married to other people. She thinks he’s too afraid of responsibility and aging and all that stuff that comes with real life.

Carter’s hesitant to get too close to the operation, but Morgenstern is more concerned with him learning than Benton is. He asks Carter about some anatomical feature, and thanks to the three body parts Susan told him to remember, Carter knows the answer. Plus, now he looks smart in front of his boss.

Mark and Susan make eggs in the hospital kitchen and talk about Chloe’s big move. He slams her for not being supportive of Chloe’s plans, but Susan knows that Chloe doesn’t get the realities of parenthood. Mark’s optimistic that having a baby will turn her life around. Susan says that Chloe has never been responsible, and though Susan loves her, she shouldn’t have a child.

Kayson summons Susan to the doctors’ lounge and spits out that Mr. Vennerbeck is dead. He shouldn’t have been released in the first place, considering his condition when he came in two months ago. Susan says his diagnosis then was muscle pain, not anything related to his heart. Kayson says he probably had atypical angina, and Susan should have mentioned it to him. The case was more complicated than Susan thought, and as a resident, she didn’t have the knowledge to present everything to Kayson that she should have. Now Mr. Vennerbeck is dead, and his wife is consulting an attorney. Kayson wants a full investigation.

Thoughts: Chloe, who lives in Chicago, doesn’t have a winter coat, but Susan only gets concerned about it just before Chloe moves to Texas? Uh, okay.

Jackie works for a parks and rec department, and now I’m dreaming of an ER/Parks and Recreation crossover.

Morgenstern and Benton play a game involving foreign capitals while they’re operating, like surgery isn’t difficult enough without throwing in some geography.

April 7, 2018

The X-Files 7.10, Sein und Zeit: No One Shoots at Santa Claus

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

If I were Skinner and didn’t know that Mulder’s mom had just died, I would totally think they’d hooked up

Summary: A little girl named Amber Lynn LaPierre is praying before bed as her parents look on proudly but slightly impatiently. Her father, Bud, then goes to watch crime show on TV while her mother, Billie, gets ready for bed herself. She suddenly stops and goes to her closet, pulling out a dress. Bud hears her rifling through drawers, finding a pen so she can write a note stating that she’s kidnapped Amber Lynn.

Bud checks on his daughter and first thinks she’s dead, but she’s okay. In her bedroom, Billie keeps writing, ending her note with, “No one shoots at Santa Claus!” As Bud is leaving Amber Lynn’s room, he hears a bang and sees blood seeping under Amber Lynn’s bedroom door. He has to break down the door, and when he finally makes it in, Amber Lynn is gone.

FBI agents convene in the middle of the night to start searching for the apparent kidnapping victim. Mulder comes in, despite not being summoned; Skinner doesn’t see a point in involving him since it doesn’t appear to be an X-File. Mulder thinks the case will turn into a circus, and the right questions won’t get asked. Skinner gives in, giving him until noon to question Bud and Billie. He adds that the other agents have a pool going and believe that Amber Lynn is dead.

Mulder heads to Sacramento, where police and reporters are outside the LaPierres’ house, looking for answers. The couple has already called in a lawyer, Harry Bring, though his specialty is real estate law. Mulder asks if he’s ever handled a murder case – even though Amber Lynn hasn’t been declared dead, Mulder thinks that’s how this case will end. He tells Bring that if he really wants to help the LaPierres, he’ll get them a real lawyer.

Bud tells Mulder they’ll talk to him, since they have nothing to hide. Mulder asks about the note found in Amber Lynn’s bedroom around the time of her disappearance. He wants details, like what Bud was watching on TV. Bud says he’d never heard of it, but he liked it. Billie says she was asleep when Amber Lynn vanished.

The couple says they always lock their doors at night, and don’t know of anyone who would want to hurt their daughter. Billie’s getting upset, so Bring tries to end the conversation. Mulder tells the LaPierres that no matter what the FBI says or does, they’ll do everything they can to try to find Amber Lynn. Billie asks if they’ll succeed, but all Mulder can say is that he hopes so.

Scully arrives in Sacramento and finds Mulder lying awake in his motel room. He’s watching TV in the dark and doesn’t want her to turn on the light. She warns that Skinner’s mad at him, since Mulder missed his noon deadline. He’s sent Scully to get Mulder’s report. The media found out what the FBI is investigating, and the LaPierres are being held for questioning. Mulder says they didn’t hurt Amber Lynn, despite what the facts say: He knows they lied about where they found the note.

Mulder’s watching the news, and the story of Amber Lynn’s disappearance is drawing parallels to the story of Susan Smith’s crimes and JonBenet Ramsey’s murder. Scully notes that people have a “morbid fascination with the killing of an innocent.” Mulder announces that Amber Lynn isn’t dead. He answers a call from his mother, who has guessed that he’s working on Amber Lynn’s case. She asks him to call her when he gets home from Sacramento.

Back in D.C., the FBI examines the note, which doesn’t demand a ransom. The note was written on the kind of paper used by dry cleaners to protect clothes, and the page it was torn from was found in the LaPierres’ trash. The pen it was written with was also in the trash, and only has Billie’s fingerprints on it. However, they haven’t been able to determine definitively if the handwriting is Billie’s.

Mulder tells the task force that there are pieces of the story that don’t make sense. Bud was watching TV when he went to check on Amber Lynn; he turned it off when he went to her room, but it was on when the police first arrived. Mulder also finds it strange that no one noticed any strangers sneaking around the property, even though it wasn’t that late at night. Someone suggests that Bud is lying for Billie, but Mulder says that doesn’t explain what happened to Amber Lynn.

He leaves the meeting and searches a file cabinet in his office, trying to figure out why “no one shoots at Santa Claus” seems familiar. Scully follows him and tells him he’s personalizing the case because he’s connecting it to Samantha’s disappearance. Mulder points out that he’s never suggested that aliens had anything to do with Amber Lynn’s disappearance. Scully warns that the other agents on the task force don’t have the patience for Mulder to question their work. Mulder thinks he’s right, though: He’s found a note just like the one at the LaPierres’, from a case in 1987.

As a creeper in a van videotapes kids in California, Mulder and Scully go to a women’s prison to speak to a prisoner named Kathy Lee. In 1987, her six-year-old son Dean was taken from his bedroom, and the note left behind was found to be written by Kathy Lee. She was convicted, and Dean’s body has never been found. She testified that she had a vision of her son being dead the night he disappeared. Three years later, she changed her story and confessed to killing him during a psychotic break. Kathy Lee says she was “full of rage.”

Mulder shows her the note she supposedly wrote and asks what the phrase about Santa means. She says that no one would hurt a person like Santa, who brings you gifts, since that would compromise your chances of receiving those gifts. Mulder tells her about Amber Lynn’s disappearance and the note left behind. He tells Kathy Lee that both disappearances are similar, and, like Dean, Amber Lynn’s body hasn’t been found. Kathy Lee notes that she told the police where Dean’s body was, but it wasn’t really there.

Mulder presses Kathy Lee to explain what really happened to Dean, but she can’t. He knows it’s because she didn’t kill him. She only changed her story because she thought pleading insanity could get her paroled. Mulder needs her to assure the LaPierres that things will be okay. Kathy Lee she’s not the person to do that. As they leave, Scully blasts Mulder for acting unprofessionally. She can’t explain the matching notes, but she’s sure that Mulder’s personalizing the case. He says he’s not, and he’s going to find the missing kids. Scully warns him not to go in search of something he doesn’t want to find.

Back in her cell, Kathy Lee sees a ghostly vision of a little boy. She asks a guard to bring the agents back. Meanwhile, Teena calls Mulder again, leaving a message on his answering machine as she burns pictures of her children. She tells him there are a lot of things she hasn’t told him, and she hopes that one day, he’ll understand.

Mulder shows the LaPierres a tape of Kathy Lee telling them that Amber Lynn is okay. She knows they’re afraid of the truth because they’ve seen scary things, like she did. She doesn’t remember writing the note; it was like they wrote themselves. Kathy Lee knows in her heart that Dean is safe and in a better place.

The LaPierres are released, due to lack of evidence. The creeper from the van watches Mulder give a press conference while also watching multiple TVs showing footage he’s recorded of children playing, including Amber. There’s also a screen showing a man dressed as Santa. Mulder says that the LaPierres are no longer the main suspects in the investigation, and the FBI is hopeful that they’ll find Amber Lynn.

Skinner slams Mulder for making a connection between Amber Lynn and Dean’s disappearances when there’s no evidence that they’re connected. Mulder says that nothing else makes sense in the real world. Skinner points out that he has to live in the real world. He’s upset that Mulder talked his way onto the case, then gave the main suspects a defense. Scully interrupts to tell Mulder that Teena is dead.

The two of them go to Teena’s house in Connecticut, where it appears that she killed herself with both an overdose and gas from her oven. Mulder insists that she wouldn’t, and questions the missing pictures of him and Samantha. He thinks Teena wanted to tell him something about Amber Lynn, but couldn’t do it over the phone, in case the people who took Samantha overheard and went after her. Everything in the house seems staged, like someone murdered Teena and then arranged the scene to look like a suicide.

Mulder wants Scully to perform the autopsy and look for a needle puncture. Scully resists, since they’re friends, but Mulder knows that this is the only way he can learn the truth. He goes back to see Kathy Lee, wanting to understand the things she’s seen. He thinks she knows why Teena’s dead. Mulder offers to talk to the parole board on Kathy Lee’s behalf if she helps him. He tells her about Samantha, which makes Kathy Lee think that Teena wanted to tell him that she’d seen “the walk-ins.” They’re “old souls looking for new homes,” and Kathy Lee thinks Samantha is among them.

She continues that it’s hard to see them because they “live in the starlight.” Mulder asks if this means Samantha’s dead, but Kathy Lee just says that she was taken. She suffered harm in her life, like Dean, and now they’re being protected. Kathy Lee doesn’t know where they are, but they’re okay. At Santa’s North Pole Village, a kind of rundown play place, some kids are ready to see Santa. The creeper from the van goes to his workshop to get ready. This is where all his screens are, and where he keeps his Santa suit.

In D.C., Mulder listens to Teena’s message on his machine over and over, trying to figure out what she wanted to tell him. Scully arrives, and Mulder tells her that he thinks Teena wanted to talk about Samantha. She somehow knew that Samantha and Amber Lynn’s disappearances are connected. Mulder thinks Teena wrote a note like Kathy Lee and Billie did. If Kathy Lee’s right about walk-ins, Samantha was never abducted by aliens. Mulder’s been looking for her in the wrong place this whole time.

Scully has done the autopsy, and she can confirm that Teena killed herself. She had Paget’s carcinoma, an untreatable disease that would have eventually left her disfigured. Mulder tries to process this, then starts crying and insists that Teena was trying to tell him something. Scully thinks she was trying to tell him to stop looking for Samantha. She wanted to take away his pain.

That night, as Billie and Bud go to bed, Billie sees a ghostly vision of Amber Lynn. The next day, Skinner goes to Mulder’s apartment, where Scully has spent the night tending to her partner. He tells the agents that Billie wants to talk to Mulder, so they all need to go back to Sacramento. There, Billie tells the agents about her vision of Amber Lynn; she thinks her daughter was trying to say something to her. Billie isn’t sure, but she thinks it was the number 74.

Mulder thinks there’s no point in investigating, since they’re not going to find Amber Lynn. If Billie saw her as a ghost, they won’t find her alive and should stop hoping they will. The agents still can’t explain the note, though. Mulder finally acknowledges that he’s too close to the case, and since he’s just suffered a personal loss, he’d like to take some time off.

As the agents head to the airport, Scully sees a road sign for highway 74. She checks a map and sees that the highway goes to Santa’s North Pole Village. Remembering the reference to Santa in the notes, she tells Skinner to take them there. They search the place and find the creeper’s collection of videotapes, which go back to the ’60s. Mulder worries that Samantha will be on one of the tapes. Instead, Scully finds the one of Amber, dated two days before she disappeared.

The creeper arrives and locks the agents in his workroom, but Skinner’s still outside and catches him trying to run. There’s a chase, but when Skinner fires his gun in the air (so he’s shooting near Santa, but not at him), the creeper decides to just give up and let himself be arrested. While Scully reads the creeper his rights, Mulder looks around the property and finds a bunch of unmarked graves. To be continued…

Thoughts: The episode title is confusing, since it means “signs and wonders” but has nothing to do with that episode.

Mark Rolston (Bud) also played Odin in “Red Museum,” so I can’t blame the FBI for being suspicious of him here.

This episode may have the creepiest opening of any episode in the whole series.

Santa’s North Pole Village just makes me think of Nos4A2, which makes it even spookier.


April 3, 2018

ER 1.11, The Gift: Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart (Literally)

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

I volunteer to cheer him up

Summary: A man dressed in a Santa suit is dozing in the ER waiting room, having come in to get checked over when he woke up dizzy. He sees that it’s 10 o’clock and tells Carter he needs to go to work. Mark tells Susan he needs to get Jen a great Christmas present, especially after he got her a Dustbuster last year. He hasn’t bought this year’s present yet, even though it’s Christmas Eve.

Susan’s just coming on shift, so along with a present, she gets a bunch of patient info. Mark’s supposed to be leaving, but he sticks around when a man brings in his son, Murray, who almost drowned in the lake. Murray’s father prays over him as the doctors get to work. Carol heats up some saline in the microwave so they can try to warm Murray up.

Benton and Carter go to the roof to meet a patient named Teddy Powell who was in a snowmobile crash. Back downstairs, Murray’s heart stops. Benton agrees with Carter’s treatment suggestion of draining burr holes in Teddy’s head, but he doesn’t want to do it unless it’s absolutely necessary. I think Teddy would agree, if he weren’t comatose and possible brain dead.

Mark, Doug, and Carol revive Murray, and after Carol leaves the trauma room, Mark brings up her engagement party. Doug says he’s not going. Mark tries to leave again, but pauses to talk to Murray’s father, Dante. He warns that they can’t know for sure what his condition will be when they warm him up. Then Haleh tells Mark to go check on a patient named Regina. She’s mumbling something about a party, so Haleh, Lydia, and Mark start singing “It’s My Party.”

Hicks looks at Teddy’s brain scans, which show that he’s brain dead. Since his organs are viable, Hicks tells Benton and Carter to find his family and get consent to donate. Carol drags Mark into another case as Susan fixes up a man named Mr. Kaminski who got burned while tapping into a power line to juice up the thousands of Christmas lights on his house. He’s disappointed to be out of the running for a prize he’s won for a number of years.

Murray might still have brain damage, and Doug knows he has a long recovery ahead of him, but he’s awake, so that’s something. Lydia’s transporting a gurney with mistletoe hanging from the IV stand, so when she gets Mark under it, she kisses him on the cheek. He tries once again to leave so he can go shopping, but once again, he has to jump on a trauma – an elderly man was stabbed.

Haleh tells Benton that Teddy’s wife is on her way just as Teddy’s heart starts to falter. Benton revives him, then realizes, “I just resuscitated a dead man.” Mark stitches up a cut on Patrick’s head as Carol tries to find out what happened to the helmet he always wears. He tells them a joke about a cat walking on sand “to get sandy claws,” but they don’t get it. (It’s a play on “Santa Claus,” guys. Keep up.)

Benton and Carter use a very, very ’90s computer to look for possible donor matches who need Teddy’s organs. They find two perfect matches and get started on giving two people a Christmas surprise. Susan examines Mrs. Goldberg, a woman with stomach pains, while Malik finds Patrick a new helmet. Carol can’t get in touch with Patrick’s family, so she invites him to hang out for a while.

Susan does an ultrasound on Mrs. Goldberg, who’s worried that she has gallstones or a tumor. Instead, she’s pregnant. She’s thrilled that she’s finally having a baby after years of trying. Doug enlists Carter to examine a kid named Kirby who ate part of a poinsettia. Doug and Carol warn Carter to wait a minute before looking in Kirby’s mouth, but he ignores them and gets vomited on.

Susan gives Mr. Kaminsky some lights that were decorating the front desk. He says they’re antiques and he’ll be able to use them next year for an old-fashioned display. Jerry complains about the missing lights, and about all the popcorn being eaten off the tree at the front desk. Doug’s next patient, Mrs. Abernathy, is depressed, and her condition isn’t helped by the holidays.

Teddy’s wife arrives, and Benton tells her that he’s brain dead. She thinks her husband is just in a regular coma and might wake up. When Benton tells her he’ll never recover, she asks for a second opinion. Linda comes by looking for Doug and volunteers to finish up Mark’s Christmas shopping. Carter runs into Susan and asks if she’s opened her Secret Santa gift yet. She’s too distracted to realize that it must be from him.

Mary’s back and singing again. She thinks the hospital is a hotel and requests a suite from Carter. Hicks chastises Benton for not moving things along with Teddy; the transplant teams are waiting for him in the OR. She’s even more annoyed when she learns that Benton called the teams before he got Mrs. Powell’s consent. Even though his driver’s license says he’s a donor, she has to sign off on the organ harvest. The surgeons are flying in from all around the country – on Christmas Eve, no less – so Benton will have to figure out what to tell them if they can’t go ahead with the harvest.

Doug recommends antidepressants and therapy for Mrs. Abernathy, who thinks her depression is tied to the marriage proposal she turned down 40 years ago. She regrets the rejection, since she only said no because her would-be fiancé was Jewish, and her parents didn’t approve. Last year, Mrs. Abernathy found letters he sent her that her mother intercepted. She tried to call him, but he died three years ago.

Benton asks Mark to help him talk Mrs. Powell into approving the organ donation. Mark says he’ll see what he can do. The Santa who left that morning is brought in, now unconscious and pulseless. Instead of trying to get Mrs. Powell to do what Benton wants, Mark encourages her to do what Teddy would want, and what’s right for her. Mrs. Powell admits that she doesn’t know what Teddy would want – they haven’t spoken in five months. He called her yesterday, wanting to spend Christmas together, but she said no. She wanted to hurt him like he hurt her, and make him beg for forgiveness.

Santa dies, and Carter blames himself, lamenting, “I killed Santa.” Doug and Mark meet up in Murray’s room, hoping he’s okay. Mary finds Patrick singing “We Three Kings” to Kirby and joins him in his serenade. Carol tells Carter that Patrick’s parents went out of town and left him with a neighbor, but he must have wandered off. Carter tells her that Mary’s family left her with a cousin so they could have a break. Her Alzheimer’s is getting worse.

Susan can’t reach Div, and Malik tells her he heard that Div quit. She asks Carter for a ride somewhere. Doug gets dressed up for some fancy gathering with Linda, and the fact that Carol is able to simply wish him a merry Christmas and then walk out of the lounge is astonishing, because he looks HOT. He confesses to Mark that he still thinks about Carol all the time. He’s afraid to tell her, not because she might reject him but because she might want him back. Mark points out that she’s not married yet.

Benton checks in with Mrs. Powell, telling her they’re running out of time for the organ harvest. She doesn’t appear to care, but then she asks for the consent form. Carter drives Susan to Div’s apartment, and when she lets herself in, she finds it trashed and abandoned. She realizes he moved out without telling her. The phone’s ringing, but the caller hangs up when Carter answers.

Jerry realizes that more lights are missing and asks Bob if she took them down. She tells him whoever said she did is lying. Carter drives Susan home, telling her he’s her Secret Santa. She kisses him on the cheek, and it obviously means more to him than it does to her. He offers to come in and keep her company, leaning in for a kiss. Susan puts the brakes on, then gives him the present she’d gotten for Div. It’s a robe, and Carter puts it on right there in the hallway.

Doug takes a cab to Linda’s party, but when he gets out to go inside, he changes his mind. Linda drops off Mark’s present for Jen, some lingerie. Lydia says he has good taste – all her ex ever got her was a vacuum cleaner. While Benton and Hicks start the organ harvest, Susan opens her present from Carter, a music box shaped like a piano. She loves it. Chloe wakes up and asks about Div; when she hears he split town, she tells Susan she’ll get over it. She gives Susan a tree ornament with her name on it, then says Susan will have to share it with the baby. Chloe’s pregnant and naming the baby after her sister.

Doug crashes Carol’s engagement party and tells her he still loves her. She denies that she returns his feelings. Tag follows them outside and gets between them as Doug tries to insist that Carol come home with him. He challenges Carol to look him in the eyes and tell him she doesn’t think about him while she’s with Tag. Tag slugs him, but Carol breaks things up. She tells Doug to stay out of her life.

Benton and Hicks successfully complete the organ harvest, and Benton asks to close Teddy up. Mary sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as Mark tells Dante and the rest of Murray’s family that his brain function is normal. Doug mopes by himself outside a church. Benton finishes up with Teddy, then grabs the cooler containing his heart. Haleh puts a bow on the cooler, which is awesome, and Benton takes it up to the roof so the heart can go to its new owner.

Thoughts: A kid named Murray is just weird. Who looks at their newborn and says, “I think I’ll call him Murray”? P.S. His father’s name is Dante Valerio, which sounds like a Nic Cage character.

I always assumed they used some special medical equipment to heat saline, but no – just the microwave in the staff lounge.

Formal-wear Clooney is the best Clooney. Don’t argue; you know I’m right.

March 31, 2018

The X-Files 7.9, Signs and Wonders: This Case Has Mulder and Scully Rattled

Posted in TV tagged at 1:22 pm by Jenn

Not once in this episode does Mulder say, “Why did it have to be snakes?” I’m disappointed

Summary: In Blessing, Tennessee, a man gets upset about some medical test results and tears them up. He starts praying for protection as he packs a suitcase. Someone’s in his yard, but he doesn’t see who it is. As the man loads a gun, he hears the rattle of a rattlesnake. He hurries outside to his car, locks the door, and prepares to rive off into the night. He drops his keys, and when he goes to pick them up, a snake slithers out. Suddenly there are snakes everywhere, and the man can’t get out of the car. He tries shooting the snakes, but it’s not enough.

In his office, Mulder studies up on snakes before presenting the case to Scully. He explains that the man, Jared, died from more than a hundred snake bites from 50 different snakes. No snakes were found in the still-locked car when Jared’s body was discovered. The mystery deepens because the kinds of snakes that supposedly killed Jared usually hibernate in the winter. There was no sign of any humans other than Jared being at the scene of his death. Mulder’s stumped.

Scully suggests that the snakes were symbolic, since they’ve long been tied to religion, seen as serving evil. Mulder wonders if these snakes actually did serve evil. “Are you going to type that into our travel request?” Scully asks. Mulder agrees that the case involves religion, and says Scully isn’t the first person to suggest that.

At Jared’s funeral, Blessing Community Church’s Reverend Samuel Mackey tries to assure Jared’s pregnant girlfriend, Gracie, that Jared is in a better place now. The agents arrive just after the service and ask to speak to Mackey. He says he’s already spoken to the authorities, as he had questions about how Jared died. He doesn’t want to cast aspersions on anyone’s beliefs, but he knows that before Jared came to Blessing Community Church, he worshiped at the Church of God with Signs and Wonders. They handle snakes, believing God protects them from harm.

Mulder asks why Jared left his previous church. Mackey says he and Gracie both agreed it was too dangerous, and were both persecuted by the other parishioners. Mackey blames the church’s leader, Enoch O’Connor. Scully wonders if that’s enough of a motive for O’Connor to murder Jared.

The agents go to the Church of God with Signs and Wonders, and Mulder makes a requisite snake-handling/male anatomy joke. The church doesn’t have electricity, so the agents have to turn on their trust flashlights to search the building. Scully scoffs at snake handling, but Mulder doesn’t think it’s any stranger to believe in than communion wafers or transubstantiation. Scully adds UFOs to the list. Mulder reminds her that her Catholicism and O’Connor’s religion are based on the same book.

A snake watches as the agents find a box that they think might contain more slithery friends. It’s empty, which Scully finds more disturbing than the idea of it containing snakes. Suddenly snakes fill the room, and the agents pull their guns. O’Connor arrives and tells them that if they’re righteous, they don’t need to be afraid. Mulder would like more assistance, just on the off chance that he’s not righteous enough to be protected from a rattlesnake bite.

O’Connor tells the agents that Jared “strayed from the path,” and O’Connor’s sorry for his death but has nothing else to say. Mulder asks about Jared’s cause of death. O’Connor says it was “a test of faith, a test of righteousness.” The devil tested Jared, and obviously he was on the wrong side. Scully asks if he’s really talking about his own test. O’Connor says he doesn’t think the agents know which side they’re on, but he does.

Mulder and Scully leave as she complains that he dragged her to Tennessee and landed her in room with a bunch of deadly snakes. Mulder says that O’Connor was in Kentucky the night Jared died, so he couldn’t be the killer. But since Jared had packed to go somewhere, someone must know where he was headed.

At the funeral reception, Iris, a woman from the church, tends to Gracie, then tells Mackey that Jared called her boardinghouse the night he died, wanting to talk to Gracie. She was asleep, so Iris didn’t bring her to the phone. She thinks Jared was drunk; he was ranting about the devil and paying for his sins. Iris feels horrible that she didn’t let Gracie talk to Jared on his last night alive (not that she knew at the time that it would be his last night).

Back at Signs and Wonders, there’s a revival-type service going on. O’Connor tells his congregation that they must be either hot or cold, because God hates people who are lukewarm. At the community church, Mackey leads a Bible study on the same scripture passage, though much more calmly. Mackey lays hands on a parishioner and tells everyone that God wants them to be on fire. He brings out some snakes and starts spasming, I guess because he’s so on fire with the Holy Spirit.

At the community church, Iris puts together bulletins for Sunday’s service. Her staple remover turns into a snake’s head and bites her. The snake handling continues at Signs and Wonders, as Mackey says that God is blessing His people and destroying His enemies. Iris is washing her wound in the bathroom sink when snakes crawl out of the drain and attack her.

The agents return to the church as Iris’ body is taken away. Mackey tells Mulder about Jared calling Gracie the night he died. Mackey and Iris didn’t finish their conversation, but Mulder thinks that’s the point. He joins Scully as she tells Gracie that they think O’Connor may be connected to Jared and Iris’ deaths. Gracie disagrees – this is the work of Satan, not anyone human. Scully notes that that sounds like something O’Connor would say.

The agents encourage her to keep an open mind, but she still insists that O’Connor didn’t have anything to do with the two deaths. She would know better than anyone. Mackey notes that she might be biased, and Mulder puts it together – Gracie is O’Connor’s daughter. When Gracie got pregnant out of wedlock, her father barred her and Jared from the church, and Gracie from the family’s home.

Mulder and Scully go back to Signs and Wonders, though Scully doesn’t want to go back inside. Mulder sees a wall of pictures reminding parishioners of the lost souls they need to pray for. Jared and Gracie’s pictures are there, as is one of Gracie’s mother, Alice. Scully finds a shed full of snake boxes, and as she turns to leave, she runs into O’Connor. He tells her she must be judged and opens a box. He forces her hand near a snake, ordering her to repent. Mulder arrives and gets O’Connor to let Scully go.

They take O’Connor to the local sheriff’s station, though O’Connor thinks Scully would have learned something about herself if Mulder had let them continue. It would have been good news. Mulder asks if O’Connor did the same thing to Alice as he did to Scully – Alice died of multiple snake bites during a church service six years ago. Well, according to O’Connor, that’s what happened, but Mulder thinks he killed her. Was she unrighteous, like Jared and Iris?

O’Connor mocks Mulder for being educated but “too smart to know any better.” He doesn’t realize that Satan is close by. He’s too proud. Mulder asks if O’Connor is enacting Old Testament-style revenge. What does he have planned for Gracie? O’Connor says he prays for his daughter because she’s lost. He tells Mulder he’s not as smart as he thinks. He has to be a different kind of smart down here; otherwise the devil will make a fool of him.

Gracie tells Scully that she changed her mind and doesn’t want to see her father. Scully asks if she still believes O’Connor is innocent. Gracie says it doesn’t matter – “he’ll be judged as he deserves.” O’Connor spends the night alone in lockup, getting up in the middle of the night to pray. His snake friends come to visit, filling his cell.

Multiple bites land O’Connor in the hospital, and though Scully thinks this means he’s innocent, Mulder thinks he did this to himself. Gracie was contacted, and she refuses to let the doctors give her father the antivenom he needs. She’s citing religious grounds, saying that God gets to decide what happens to O’Connor. Scully thinks this makes Gracie look like a new suspect. Mulder agrees that she could be angry enough with her father to attack him, but not Jared and Iris.

The agents to go Jared’s house, where Mulder walks through what he thinks happened: Jared was scared and wanted to leave town with Gracie. They talk about religious tolerance, and how it could be powerful to have someone offer you what you thought were all the answers. They find the medical results Jared threw out and see that he learned the day he died that he was infertile. That means he’s not the father of Gracie’s baby. Scully wonders if someone killed him to keep that information secret.

Mackey joins Gracie at the hospital, where she’s watching her father sleep. Mackey asks her to reconsider approving his treatment, but Gracie knows that O’Connor would want to let God decide what happens to him. He’s recovered from bites before. Mackey wonders if Gracie doesn’t want her father to get better. Gracie says the decision isn’t for her; she can’t risk O’Connor’s soul. Mackey reminds her that when she first came to his church, she said she wanted to live her own life and make her own decisions. If she lets God make the call here, is she making her own decisions, or living O’Connor’s beliefs?

Gracie agrees to the treatment, but when Mackey goes to tell the doctors, O’Connor’s heart rate speeds up and his wounds start oozing…something really gross. He wakes up and grabs Gracie’s hand. By the time the agents arrive, O’Connor and Gracie have both fled. Mulder thinks O’Connor took his daughter somewhere, though Scully finds that ridiculous, since he was just on his deathbed. Plus, what would be his motive? Mackey thinks he knows, and tells them that Jared wasn’t the baby’s father. Scully guesses that it’s actually O’Connor.

O’Connor takes Gracie to Signs and Wonders, telling her he’s bringing her home. The parishioners are all there, ready for a special service. O’Connor dunks Gracie in water, praying for healing as she worries that something’s wrong with the baby. She’s right, since the baby is actually a bunch of snakes.

The agents get there too late again, though at least Gracie’s still alive. There’s no baby, and the parishioners won’t talk. Mulder realizes that Gracie gave birth to snakes, though a parishioner prefers to think of the delivery as the devil being cast out. Mulder heads off to find O’Connor, leaving Scully with Gracie.

O’Connor turns up at Mackey’s church, accusing Mackey of stealing what was most important to him. Mackey argues that Gracie fled Signs and Wonders on her own, simultaneously fleeing a vengeful God and a horrible father. O’Connor starts to attack Mackey with a knife, but Mulder finally makes it somewhere on time and shoots O’Connor before he can do any harm.

Gracie wakes up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and asks Scully where her father is. She tells Scully that O’Connor didn’t hurt her – he saved her. Mulder tells O’Connor that help is coming, in the form of an ambulance, but O’Connor says it’s not. He reminds Mulder that he doesn’t know which side he’s on. He repeats what he said before about having to be smart “down here.”

Mulder somehow figures out that Mackey is the real killer. Jared realized that he wasn’t the baby’s father, and that O’Connor was. Mackey killed him to keep him quiet, then killed Iris because she was getting closer to the truth. Mulder thinks all of this has been part of a plan to destroy O’Connor. Mackey asks if Mulder’s a righteous man. “Most people believe that they’re on the side of angels, but are they?” he asks. The doors to the room they’re in close on their own, and snakes appear. Mackey asks what Mulder would do if he were put to the test.

Scully gets to the church and finds O’Connor bleeding but mostly okay. He tells her she can’t help Mulder; “this is his alone.” She hears her partner yelling and finds him on the floor, bleeding from a snake bite but not horribly injured. Mackey is gone.

Recovering in the hospital, Mulder tells Scully that Mackey will probably never be found. People think the devil has a tail and horns, and would never expect him to be a human who tells you things you want to hear. Scully says Mackey’s just a man, like O’Connor. Mulder disagrees, saying that if this was a test, he failed. Scully thinks he passed just by not dying. In Hamden, Connecticut, Mackey is now going by Wells, and has taken over as the reverend at a church there. He chats with a parishioner, then lets the snake that lives inside him snack on a live mouse.

Thoughts: Gracie is played by Tracy Middendorf. Iris is played by Beth Grant, who continues to doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

For the last time, show: The book is Revelation, not Revelations. Though my guess is that O’Connor didn’t go to divinity school, so he probably wouldn’t know.

Shouldn’t Mulder and Scully have searched Jared’s house right away? Wouldn’t that be the first place to search, especially since he died on the property?

March 27, 2018

ER 1.10, Blizzard: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chaos

Posted in TV tagged , , at 5:03 pm by Jenn

An army ready for battle

Summary: Jerry sings “Jingle Bells” on his way to work, happy that it’s snowing. The trauma rooms are currently all empty, and there hasn’t been a patient all shift, so Wendy’s amusing herself by rollerblading through the halls. Elsewhere in the hospital, Mark and Susan use headlamps to sneak around in the dark and play a prank on a sleeping Carter. Connie decides to use her downtime to put up Christmas decorations, while Haleh does a crossword puzzle. Lydia’s stuck there because of the snow.

Carter wakes up while Susan and Mark are scheming, but goes back to sleep when they tell him they’re doing inventory. A news report says the snowstorm could be huge, but no one at the hospital seems worried. Mark and Susan use the intercom at the front desk to summon Carter to a trauma room, then gather the nurses to watch as he stumbles out of bed. He falls over because Mark and Susan put a cast on his leg.

A snowball fight breaks out outside the ER, and Carol gets caught in it when she shows up for work. Malik entertains everyone with some rapping while Jerry and the nurses play soccer on rolling chairs. Mookie compliments Malik’s rhymes but looks down on his peach scrubs. Bob helps put up decorations, looking confused about the reindeer. Carter, still wearing the cast, explains that they pull Santa’s sleigh. Mark and Susan tell him he’ll have to wait for the cast to dry before he removes it.

Lydia pages the ER staff to the desk so Carol can show everyone her engagement ring. Doug arrives with Linda and attempts to maintain a poker face when he hears the news. It goes from 0 to awkward really fast. Linda gushes about their Caribbean vacation and complains that Doug just lounged around all week. Carol thinks that sounds like fun.

“If you had an alien baby, would it show up on a pregnancy test?” a temp clerk wonders as Mark does some paperwork. He takes a call from a man named Mr. Blinker whose wife is in labor but doesn’t want to come to the hospital – she’s enjoying watching the snow. Mark tells him to call an ambulance. Linda tries to leave, then comes back in to use the phone, as her Lexus is snowed in thanks to a plow. She sees Carol’s ring and tells her it probably cost about $12,000.

Mookie thinks that since there are no patients, he shouldn’t have to work. Haleh disagrees. As the day progresses, there’s still nothing to do, so the staff plays another round of wheely-chair soccer. Carol gets a call about a huge pile-up on the highway that resulted in 50 to 100 casualties. Since Mercy Hospital’s power is out, all the victims may be sent to County. The staff watches a news report about the accident and gears up for a suddenly busy day.

As soon as patients start coming in, things get chaotic. Doug and Mark use walkie-talkies to communicate while Doug triages people. Everyone helps out everyone else, moving people around quickly so they can clear up space for other patients. Even Jerry and Linda are called into action; he bandages a boy’s forehead while she answers phones. A guy walks in holding a bag containing his own thumb and gets an express ticket to the OR.

Carter has trouble communicating with his patient, Mrs. Thui. A police officer brings in a little girl he found alone in the snow. A man comes in missing a leg, but unlike the guy with the thumb, he doesn’t have the limb with him. Mookie walks around wearing headphones and taking in all the trauma. For the first time, he realizes how intense the ER can be. The unidentified little girl from the snow is still crying, so Haleh sings “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” to calm her.

The snow doesn’t stop Patrick from making his way to the ER for a visit. A firefighter gives Morgenstern a ride so he can help out with some of the patients. One of Div’s patients, Regina, tells Doug that aliens implanted a device in her nose. I wonder what the temp clerk would say about that? Doug puts a senior doctor named Flint to work doing things like stitches, which he hasn’t done in years. Doug also tries to get a woman to deliver some bedpans, but she introduces herself as Dr. Hicks, the new ER attending.

Mookie helps Benton stop his patient’s bleeding in a trauma room. Benton realizes that the man, Dexter, is someone he knows from his old neighborhood. The temp clerk attempts to sign out, since her eight-hour shift is over. Mark’s patient has chest pain, but not from a heart attack – he was lighting a cigarette when his car crashed, and the lighter is now embedded in his chest. “Ouch,” Mark understates.

While Doug tries to revive Mr. Ramos, a man he thought was stable, a seemingly okay patient complains about having to wait for an ice pack. Carter critiques Flint’s stitches, giving us a glimpse of the arrogant doctor he’ll become in the future. Linda puts her wealth to good use by ordering a bunch of pizzas. Patrick plays with the little girl from the snow, then plays “Deck the Halls” over the hospital’s intercom.

Mr. Blinker calls the ER again, and Mark talks to him while trying to help Doug revive Mr. Ramos. He tells Mr. Blinker to disregard his wife’s wishes and physically carry her to the ER. A nun looks on as Mark tells Doug that they need to let Mr. Ramos go. Doug chastises himself for not recognizing that the man’s injuries were serious.

The final patient from the pile-up comes in, and Carter recognizes his name; he’s Mrs. Thui’s husband. Mr. Thui’s confused, since she wasn’t in the accident with him – he’d called her to pick him up. The nun asks to pray over Mr. Ramos’ body, and some of the staff watch reverently. Hicks joins Benton as he works on Dexter, remarking that she’s heard about him. The man who wants an ice pack complains again about the wait while the doctors try to shock Dexter back into rhythm.

Susan’s patient needs immediate surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, but all the surgeons are currently operating. She decides that Benton can perform the procedure in the ER. When she goes to get him, Hicks gives her some instructions. Bob, who’s been taking in all the trauma silently all day, watches as the patient, Mr. Morris, codes. Something in her clicks on and she grabs some equipment and does the procedure herself. The nurses are stunned. When Susan returns, they tell her that Bob saved the patient. Bob runs outside, her hands still covered in blood.

The parents of the girl from the snow come claim her, and Patrick joins them in a group hug. Also now at the hospital: Dexter’s leg. Hicks wants to get started on reattaching it, and she asks Benton to join her in turning the trauma room into an OR. Morgenstern compliments Susan on saving Mr. Morris; she doesn’t tell him who really did the procedure. Carol takes a patient to Carter, who’s trying to remove his cast by himself. The patient, a motorcyclist who often crashes, tries to remove it for him.

While Doug gives Mr. Ramos’ wife the news of his death, Carter finds Bob crying outside. She tells him she’ll never be a doctor in the States. She reveals that in her country, she was a vascular surgeon. She hasn’t taken the board exam in the States, so she’s not permitted to operate yet. She’s afraid that if word gets out that she operated without her certification, she’ll get in trouble. Since the patient lives, Carter thinks the board will be grateful. He offers to help her with her English for the exam.

Patrick puts on “The 12 Days of Christmas” as Mark and Doug go in to help Hicks and Benton operate on Dexter. Mr. Blinker calls again, telling Mark that his wife is ready to deliver. Mark walks him through it, and the doctors can hear the baby’s first cries through the phone as they successfully finish the operation.

Carol checks on Doug, knowing that news of her engagement and the loss of his patient have made for a tough day. He tells her everything’s fine, but it’s definitely not. Linda watches them, then asks Carol if she thinks everyone has one person out there who’s perfect for them. If so, Carol is Doug’s.

Hicks praises the staff for their great work as they get ready for a pizza dinner, courtesy of Linda. Carter brings Bob back in and everyone applauds her. Patrick puts “The Christmas Song” on and dims the lights for a cozy atmosphere. Despite the craziness of the day, everyone’s relaxing and enjoying their time together. As Mark heads home, the Blinkers finally arrive at the hospital with their new son, grateful to Mark for his help.

Thoughts: Hicks is played by C.C.H. Pounder.

Benton, maybe don’t call an orthopedic surgeon a “bone-crusher” in front of a patient.

The guy with the lighter in his chest is waaaaay too calm about it.

I’m really confused about the Thuis’ storyline. Maybe something got cut? I don’t get why Mrs. Thui was at the hospital. Did she crash her car while going to get her husband? Why don’t they ever explain it?

March 24, 2018

The X-Files 7.8, The Amazing Maleeni: Do You Believe in Magic?

Posted in TV tagged at 1:28 pm by Jenn

Now imagine an episode where Scully has to go undercover as a magician’s assistant

Summary: The Amazing Maleeni has come to the Santa Monica Pier to put on a magic show – in fact, he declares that it will be his greatest show ever. He attracts a modest crowd, then performs a trick with disappearing balls that reappear under cups. A heckler in the crowd isn’t impressed by his old tricks. Maleeni asks if he should come heckle the heckler at his job counting nuggets at McDonald’s.

For his last trick, Maleeni announces that he’ll reattach a severed head, a feat that has never been performed successfully. He then rotates his head all the way around. The crowd is thrilled, but the heckler won’t give a reaction. The show coordinator walks Maleeni to his van, then goes to get his money. When he returns, Maleeni is dead, having been decapitated.

Mulder and Scully head to Santa Monica to figure out what happened. Scully doesn’t think Maleeni’s magic show had anything to do with his murder. Mulder points out that there are no fingerprints or blood in the van; no one saw the murderer fleeing the scene or heard Maleeni cry out. He thinks they’re dealing with a magic trick that went wrong.

A tourist videotaped the magic show, so the agents are able to see it for themselves. They focus on the heckler, who Scully thinks could be the killer. They can’t see his face on the tape, but he threw out a soda cup, which has his fingerprints on it. Sadly, we are spared a scene of Mulder and Scully Dumpster-diving.

The agents easily find the heckler, Billy LaBonge, who’s a magician himself. He was once convicted for pickpocketing, which he calls “performance art.” Billy tells the agents that Maleeni named himself after a turn-of-the-century magician named Max Malini, but he didn’t live up to his namesake’s skill. Mulder asks about the head-rotating trick. Billy demonstrates that he can do the same thing with his wrist, so it’s not exactly magic.

He does a coin trick and tells the agents that he and Maleeni are like Mozart and Salieri. They sound similar to a layman, but they’re not. It’s all about originality, style, and soul. Maleeni was a hack, but Billy’s a great magician because of his soul. Energies beyond our mortal understanding are involved here. Mulder wonders if those energies could have led to Maleeni’s decapitation.

Billy says Maleeni had some huge debts that could have gotten him murdered. As the agents turn to leave, Billy reveals that he stole their badges without them noticing. Mulder wonders which magician is Mozart and which is Salieri. Scully doesn’t think it matters – Billy’s professional jealousy is enough of a motive to suspect him of murder. Mulder isn’t convinced that Maleeni was murdered, though.

Scully thinks his autopsy will back up her theory, but she’s wrong. Maleeni’s head appears to have been sawed off slowly, so it couldn’t have happened in that brief time the show coordinator was gone. There’s spirit gum on his neck, indicating that it held his head onto his body. Also, he died of a heart attack more than a month ago. Scully suspects that the magician who performed at the pier wasn’t the same man whose body they’re looking at.

Billy goes to a bar to meet up with a heavily tattooed man named Cissy Alvarez. They did time together, but Cissy doesn’t remember Billy. Billy knows that Cissy won a ton of money from Maleeni (real name: Herman Pinchbeck) in a poker game, and since Billy claims he’s the one who made Maleeni’s head fall off, he wants Maleeni’s marker. He promises to repay Maleeni’s debt times 10, but he’ll need Cissy’s help with some magic. To prove his skills, Billy lights his own hand on fire, then produces Cissy’s wallet.

The agents go to a branch of Cradock Marine Bank to meet with Albert Pinchbeck, Herman’s brother. When they see that the brothers were identical twins, the case gets even more intriguing. Albert, who thinks the agents are married (aren’t they, though?), is wearing a neck brace and says he was in a car accident in Mexico. He and Herman performed together in the ’70s, as Albert proves with a card trick, but Herman had bigger ambitions. The brothers weren’t close after Albert left their act.

Mulder spells out what he thinks happened: Herman died of a heart attack, and Albert felt bad that he didn’t accomplish his goals, so he performed Herman’s final show for him. He wanted to end with a shock that would make him memorable. Albert wishes that were true, but it would have been physically impossible: The car accident that left him with a neck injury also led to him losing both of his legs.

As the agents leave, Mulder wonders why Maleeni did the head-rotating trick in the first place. Did he just want attention? Scully suggests that they consult Mozart. They go back to Billy, who asks what he gets in exchange for helping the agents. Mulder notes that he would get the chance to dig into Maleeni’s secrets. They give him access to Maleeni’s van, where he finds a hat with a dove in it, and a gun that shoots out a banner that reads “BANG!”

Billy thinks that someone just impersonated Maleeni, then switched out the body using misdirection, the magician’s most trusty trick. He guesses that the van has a false floor, but he’s wrong. He realizes Maleeni was a better magician than he thought. Mulder finds Herman’s marker from Cissy in the van.

Back at the bank, Albert signs for a transfer of money and chats with one of the armed guards in charge of it. He asks to see the guard’s gun, saying he’s been thinking of buying one. When Albert goes back to his office, Cissy joins him and demands that Albert pay Herman’s debts. Meanwhile, the armed guards hear a noise from the back of their truck and pull over. A man with tattooed hands emerges from the piles of bag. One of the guards shoots him four times, then goes to get his partner. When they return, the man is gone. Moments later, so are his tattoos – he’s Billy, and he inked on the tattoos to look like Cissy.

The agents visit Cissy at the bar to find out if Cissy killed Herman over his $20,000 debt. Cissy has an alibi for the time of the murder and doesn’t think he had a motive anyway. After all, if Herman was dead, he couldn’t pay his debts. Mulder asks why Cissy would play poker with someone who does card tricks. Cissy says Maleeni was a horrible poker player, which Mulder finds very interesting. Scully thinks he wasn’t as good a magician as Mulder thinks. Mulder does a coin trick to demonstrate the important of misdirection. He thinks someone’s currently misdirecting them.

Billy watches from across the street as the agents leave, then uses a payphone to call 911 and report that a man with a gun is threatening to kill someone. He leaves the phone off the hook and goes to the bar. Cissy discovers that Herman’s marker is missing from his book and accuses Billy of trying to frame him. Before Cissy can attack him, Billy pulls out a gun. He runs out just as the police arrive and arrest him. He drops the gun, which was the fake “BANG!” pistol from Maleeni’s van.

The agents return to the bank, where Mulder dumps Albert from his wheelchair to prove that he’s not really an amputee. He’s also not really Albert – he’s Herman. He admits that he faked his death because he couldn’t pay his debts and was afraid for his life. Scully wonders why he didn’t manipulate the cards. Herman says he couldn’t live with himself if he cheated.

Scully asks what all this has to do with Albert’s decapitation. Herman explains that he found Albert dead when he went to ask for a loan. He felt down about never accomplishing anything, and he quickly put together a plan to take his brother’s identity. Scully asks why he left Albert’s body at the pier, or why he decapitated him. Herman confirms Mulder’s theory that he just wanted to end the show with a big shock. Mulder reaffirms that that was his last show – he’s going to jail.

Mulder searches the office, looking for the real reason Herman impersonated Albert. He thinks it’s about money. There’s no proof that Herman oversaw any unauthorized electronic fund transfers, so Herman removes his own handcuffs. Scully sees that there was an attempted robbery the day before, though Herman’s boss says that was on the armored truck, not the bank itself.

Since Herman signed out the truck and knew the schedule, the agents have reason to keep him in custody. The agents have no way of knowing that this is exactly what Herman wants. He’s taken to lockup and put in a cell right next to the one where Billy’s being held. The two men have been working together and are pleased that things are going just as they’d planned.

The next morning, the guards check out the bank vault, which is now empty. Herman’s been in lockup all night, so he’s not a suspect. Security footage from two days ago shows Cissy at the bank, and one of the guards recognizes his tattoos. Since Cissy was previously convicted of bank robbery, it’s not too much of a stretch to think he robbed again. The agents easily find the missing money at his bar. Cissy accuses Billy of setting him up. Mulder and Scully quickly realize that Billy and Maleeni are working together.

The magicians are released on bail, but the agents stop them before they can leave the police station. Mulder’s theory: Billy is Herman’s protégé and the two worked together to get revenge on Cissy for horrible things he did to Billy in prison. Herman lost on purpose at the poker game, and Billy planted the marker in the van so the agents would find it. They orchestrated the fake robbery to frame Cissy. When Herman checked out the guard’s gun, he loaded it with blanks, ensuring Billy’s safety.

The magicians used their pickpocketing skills to steal a key from a guard in lockup, then robbed the bank and planted the money in the bar. Herman notes that that would definitely be a memorable trick for him to go out on. Billy asks what happens next. Since there’s no evidence against the magicians, they get to go free, but Mulder tells them the magic needs to end. Herman says a great magician always knows when to leave the stage.

Mulder thinks he and Scully are actually the world’s greatest, since they saw through the magicians’ tricks. Mulder also stole Herman’s wallet from the evidence room, which means Herman and Billy can’t finish their plan. Framing Cissy was another act of misdirection. The plan was always about the electronic transfers. Herman didn’t have clearance, so he stole Mulder’s badge to get his number, then got his fingerprint during the card trick. But Herman kept the card with the fingerprint on it in his wallet, which Mulder now has. The magicians won’t be able to pull off their final trick.

Scully asks how Herman was able to do the head-rotating trick. Mulder admits that that’s one question he doesn’t have an answer to. Scully does Billy’s version of the trick with her wrist and calls it magic. Mulder wants a real explanation, since it’s not the same as doing the trick with your neck, but Scully won’t reveal her secrets.

Thoughts: Like “The Goldberg Variation,” this is a fun, underrated episode. It’s just not as memorable as “The Goldberg Variation.”

Ricky Jay and Jonathan Levit, who play Maleeni and Billy, are both magicians, which is smart casting. I hate when there’s a TV show or movie with a character who’s a magician, and they cut to someone else’s hands doing the tricks. Here, we get to see the characters doing what they’re supposed to be able to do.

I guess when a guy has that many tattoos and looks that menacing, you don’t make fun of him for being called Cissy.

March 20, 2018

ER 1.9, ER Confidential: Thanksgiving Turkey With a Side of Trauma

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 4:51 pm by Jenn

Yeah, Carter, let’s make sure this is all about you

Summary: Oh, great, we’re back to starting out episodes with people sleeping. Susan wakes up in the middle of the night alone, since Div is in the living room, recording his thoughts on tape. He gets no more pleasure out of life and can’t concentrate or sleep. When Susan makes her presence known, Div says he was just working on a patient history. Susan seems uncertain and may not believe him.

Doug’s relationship is going much better – he and Linda are going on vacation together. He feels weird about letting her pay for everything, but she knows he doesn’t make that much money. It’s Thanksgiving, so Doug takes a pie with him to work. Bob has her American holidays confused and is putting up Halloween decorations. Jerry commandeers the pie while Carter practices stitches on a pig’s foot. Doug and Mark discuss their holiday plans; Jen and Rachel will be coming back to Chicago for Thanksgiving, along with Jen’s parents.

Susan’s first patient of the day, Edgar, doesn’t think he has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. He’s so grumpy that he’s been banned from his dialysis clinic. He complains about the “information superhighway” while Carol and Susan get him ready for dialysis. “The more I see of people, the more I like pigs,” Edgar says. Let’s hope he doesn’t see what Carter’s been up to.

As Bob puts up a “Happy Easter” banner, Carter asks Benton if he should bring anything to dinner that night. Apparently he wasn’t listening when Benton uninvited him after Mae extended an invitation. Since Carter’s parents are out of the country, he has no other plans. As the two examine a patient named Ms. Carleton who crashed her car into a bridge, Carter makes a discovery that he and Benton don’t know how to process: Though she goes by Ms., her anatomy makes them think she’s a Mr.

Benton hops over to help out with two teenagers who came in after killing a woman in a car crash. One boy, Larry, has a bad head injury, but Langworthy wants to do everything she can to try to save him. The other boy, Andy, is distressed, so Carol explains what the doctors are doing as they try to find out if he has internal injuries. Langworthy realizes that her patient is gone, so she stops working on him. Andy has internal injuries and is sent straight to surgery. He quietly tells Carol that he was the one driving the car, even though it was Larry’s. He blames himself for his friend’s death.

Edgar’s still complaining to Susan while Carol, Doug, Mark, and Jerry talk about the reckless things they did as teenagers. Well, not Mark – he and his friends were dorks. Tag comes down for a consult with Doug but makes him wait while he chats with Carol. Carter has no idea how to deal with a transgender patient, so he just stops talking. Ms. Carleton notices and tells him about how hard it is to see how people view her. She wonders if they’re right to look at her with disgust.

Al brings in a man named Francis who’s bleeding from a fight with a turkey. Francis is an animal-rights activist and tried to steal/rescue a bird he thought was being abused. The turkey wasn’t very appreciative and started pecking him. Francis responded by breaking the bird’s neck. Al would like to donate it to the hospital’s Thanksgiving party. Tag volunteers to pluck and prepare it.

Susan tells Mark that all the things Div was saying into his recorder fit with a diagnosis of depression. She doesn’t know what to do. Mark says that Div obviously needs psychiatric help, but Susan doesn’t want to force him into anything. Mark insists that someone needs to say something to him. If he’s that depressed, he shouldn’t be treating patients. Susan gets annoyed with Mark’s lack of compassion.

Francis tells Doug about the turkey’s poor treatment while Doug takes care of his cuts. Francis thinks that since all humans and animals came from the same origins, we should be kinder to animals. Next door, Tag’s going to town on the turkey’s feathers, and Francis doesn’t want to watch. (Doug probably doesn’t either.) He admits that he secretly enjoyed killing the turkey.

Ms. Carleton tells Carter that her father called her up a few years ago after a long estrangement. When they came face to face again, Mr. Carleton didn’t recognize her because she was now living as a woman. He wanted to reconnect because he was dying, and he later told Ms. Carleton that even though she wears dresses now, she was still his son. Mark comes in to check Carter’s work, calling Ms. Carleton “ma’am.”

Edgar has dozed off, giving Susan some peace for the first time all day. Then he wakes up and the yelling starts again. She’s gotten him an appointment at his usual clinic, but now he doesn’t want to go. Susan tells him that neither of them wants him to come back to County Hospital. Edgar tells her to shove it, and she walks off, trying to calm herself.

Andy and Larry’s mothers arrive, and Carol tells them that Larry died. Susan gets a little revenge on Edgar by telling him she’s taking his temperature rectally, then leaving a fake flower where the thermometer should be. Carol takes Andy’s mother to see him and eavesdrops while Andy tells her what happened. At least, he tells her his version of the story: He claims Larry was driving and ran a red light.

Mark whines that Doug called him boring earlier when he criticized Mark’s idea of fun as a teenager. Then he admits that he’s never done anything irresponsible in his life. He’s never even spent money on something he doesn’t need. Talk turns to Doug and Linda’s relationship, which Doug says makes him feel like a kept man. “I’ve never been a kept man,” Mark laments.

A woman comes in with chest pain, and Mark tends to her. Carol tells Lydia about Andy’s confession to her, wondering what she should do. Is it her place to tell the police something a patient confided? There’s no cardiologist currently at the hospital, so Benton and Langworthy come to look at Mark’s patient. Langworthy decides that she needs a procedure, and since Benton’s never done it, he asks to take the lead.

Susan meets up with Div in his office, where he apologizes for his recent “difficult” behavior. He thinks he might have embarrassed her. He admits to struggling with depression, but he thinks things are starting to work themselves out. Susan hopes they can talk after dinner with Chloe and her new boyfriend.

Carol runs into Larry’s mother, who admits to being angry with her son for driving recklessly and killing someone. Carol tries to keep a poker face. While Carter goes looking for a missing Ms. Carleton, Langworthy guides Benton through the procedure while Mark and Haleh assist. Things go south and the patient’s heart starts to fail, so Benton needs to move faster. He’s hesitant, but Langworthy is confident in his skills. He’s successful and everyone’s relieved.

Carol goes back to Andy’s room and confronts him for lying to his mother. She understands why he did, but she doesn’t think it’s fair to let Larry’s mother believe he caused the accident. Carol knows from experience that keeping a secret makes it hard to live with yourself. Andy asks if she’s ever killed anyone. She says no, but she’s hurt people close to her. She admits that she still has some secrets.

Jerry runs down the hall, telling Carter that there’s a woman on the roof, about to jump. Carter quickly realizes that it must be Ms. Carleton. He runs up to try to convince Ms. Carleton that there are people there who want to help her. But Ms. Carleton feels like she can’t pass for a woman anymore, so there’s no reason to stay alive. Div joins Carter on the roof, and Carter starts to calmly ask Ms. Carleton to talk to him. Instead, Ms. Carleton lets herself fall. Carter cries out in horror.

In the ER, the staff tries to block out the trauma and enjoy dinner together. Carol pulls Tag aside for a talk while Doug and Linda get ready to go to the airport. Linda practically gasps in shock when she realizes she accidentally purchased seats in coach instead of first class. Doug thinks Mark is lucky to get to spend Thanksgiving with his family instead of a sugar mama. Nearby, Francis abandons his morals for one night and eats some turkey.

Carol and Tag go for a walk outside so she can admit that she slept with Doug last winter, while she and Tag were dating. This was before her suicide attempt, and they haven’t slept together since, but they did kiss. Tag is understandably upset, though telling Carol to go to Hell is a little too far. He yells that he’s been faithful and patient, especially after she tried to kill herself. Should he treat her badly, like Doug does? Tag’s mad that Carol felt the need to tell him. What’s he supposed to do with this info?

Benton tells Langworthy that their heart patient is doing fine. Langworthy is leaving the next day for her fellowship, so Benton wants to thank her for her support. She doesn’t feel like she did anything special, since County’s a teaching hospital, but she does acknowledge that he made a great save. She says she’ll see him when she comes back in the spring. (I guess she gets a job somewhere else, since we never see her again.)

Benton finds Carter trying to process what he just witnessed. Benton blames himself for Ms. Carleton’s death – he should have realized that she was trying to kill herself when she crashed her car. Next time, they’ll both be more attentive. Carter’s still down, so Benton tells him he can come have dinner with his family. When Carter tries to decline, Benton guilts him into pleasing Mae.

Susan, Chloe, and Chloe’s boyfriend, Ronnie, have gathered for dinner, but Div is MIA. He’s the lucky one, though, since Chloe didn’t cook the turkey long enough. She and Ronnie start fighting, and Susan tells them both to shut up and stop acting like toddlers. She tries calling Div again, but he doesn’t answer his phone. He’s currently standing in the middle of a busy street, in the rain, clearly not coming out of his depression like he’d claimed.

Thoughts: Ms. Carleton is played by Vondie Curtis-Hall, who later returns as Roger. Edgar is played by Garrett Morris. Larry’s mother is also David Silver’s mother.

Fun fact I just learned: Ellen Crawford (Lydia) and Mike Genovese (Al) are married in real life.

Continuity error: Carter says his parents are in Switzerland to visit his sister, but we know from later episodes that he doesn’t have a sister.

I wonder what the confidentiality rules are for nurses. Carol never says she can’t tell the police the truth about the crash, just that she doesn’t know if she should.

March 17, 2018

The X-Files 7.7, Orison: Don’t Look Any Further

Posted in TV tagged at 1:18 pm by Jenn

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the bathtub…

Summary: A chaplain named Orison is talking to a group of prisoners about God’s love and how it can change them if they want it to. One of the prisoners is Donnie Pfaster, but he doesn’t seemed moved by the sermon. The other prisoners do, stomping their feet and chanting, “Glory! Amen!” with Orison as he sprinkles holy water on them.

They take their religious awakening with them when they go to work in a prison garment shop. A guard tells Donnie that he doesn’t think God could love a murderer. Donnie keeps his eyes on a prisoner’s feet as he uses the step pedal on a sewing machine. The prisoner suddenly cries out, having cut off his fingers. The other prisoners and guards gather around him, allowing Donnie the distraction he needs to walk out of the workroom.

Scully is woken by wind blowing through her open bedroom window. She checks her alarm clock, which reads 6:66. The power goes out, and when it comes back on, the clock reads 6:06. She then goes to Marion, Illinois, with Mulder to investigate Donnie’s escape from prison. The authorities in Illinois would like the agents’ help understanding Donnie, since they were the ones who captured him. The Marshal assigned to the case, Daddo, knows that the agents have experience with supernatural cases, but Scully tells him there’s nothing supernatural about Donnie – he’s just evil.

She goes to the room where Orison met with the prisoners and hears singing through a ceiling vent. Mulder finds her there and encourages her to come home, since her last encounter with Donnie did such a number on her. Scully feels like she doesn’t have a choice – she needs to find Donnie before he hurts anyone else.

Mulder tells Scully that Donnie is the third prisoner to escape a maximum-security facility in the area in the past few months. He left at exactly 6:06 that morning. Scully reacts to the time but asks what makes this case supernatural. Mulder says it’s strange enough that no one noticed Donnie leaving.

The agents question the man who cut himself in the garment shop. His hands are intact, and he doesn’t understand how, since he and everyone else in the room saw that his fingers had been cut off. The prisoner can’t explain it; he just says that God works in mysterious ways. Mulder raises his hand, and the prisoner says, “Glory. Amen,” tapping his foot.

Mulder thinks this is indicative of post-hypnotic suggestion. Scully doubts that Donnie used a “Vegas lounge act” to hypnotize everyone in the room so he could escape without them seeing. For starters, where did he learn that technique? Mulder thinks they should look at Orison, who served as chaplain at all the prisons people have escaped from. Scully hears music through the vent again and recognizes the song, “Don’t Look Any Further,” from her childhood.

Donnie has made it to Harrisburg, Illinois, where he goes to a diner and watches a waitress’ hands as she flips through order tickets. A woman sits down with him and he offers to give her a manicure. The waitress tries to kick her out, since she’s just looking for money and/or drugs. Orison arrives and chastises Donnie for wasting his freedom like this.

Daddo and some other Marshals pull up outside, and Donnie accuses Orison of calling them. Orison says it’s “within his power” to help them escape. He swings his car keys and says, “Glory. Amen.” The waitress suddenly screams – she’s being attacked by another patron. She swings a coffee pot at him in defense. The Marshals are distracted long enough to allow Donnie and Orison to flee.

Somehow, Donnie makes it to Orison’s car with the woman from the diner, but Orison is left on his own. Donnie runs him down with the car as he drives off. When Mulder and Scully arrive sometime later, Daddo tells them that the tip about Donnie being there must have been wrong, but Orison was there. Scully hears “Don’t Look Any Further” on the diner’s radio and asks the waitress to turn it up.

The agents then go to the hospital where Orison is being treated. He tells Scully not to worry about the escaped prisoners – “God has them.” She says the case has nothing to do with her, but Orison disagrees. He knows that Scully has faith in God, and she hears Him calling to her, but she isn’t sure what to do. Scully figures he’s just making educated guesses because he noticed her cross necklace.

Orison continues that Scully is “longing but afraid, waiting for a sign.” There are signs everywhere, and there are reasons for everything. He calls her Scout, which makes her freeze. Orison says that the devil is always waiting “for but an instant.” But “the devil’s instant is our eternity.”

Mulder joins them and asks how Orison does his hypnosis trick. He says he’s just a messenger. Mulder shows him a picture of the woman from the diner, dead in a blood-filled bathtub, Donnie’s signature crime scene. He thinks Orison freed Donnie so he could kill him. He’s discovered that Orison was convicted of murder in 1959 and spent 22 years in solitary confinement. Orison says that God spoke to him and told him to “look after” the escaped prisoners. Mulder asks if God mentioned Donnie’s plans during that conversation.

Mulder wants to prove that Orison’s lying, but Scully doesn’t think he can prove that someone isn’t being directed by God. Mulder argues that God is just a spectator who “reads the box scores.” He doesn’t think God would tell someone to commit murder. Scully argues that the escaped prisoners might not be dead. She thinks Orison truly believes that God is working through him. Mulder asks if Scully thinks God has ever spoken to her. She’s offended but admits that she finds it meaningful that she keeps hearing the same song.

Scully reveals that when she was 13, she was listening to “Don’t Look Any Further” when her mother told her that her Sunday School teacher had been murdered. It was the first time she realized there’s true evil in the world. Orison called her Scout, which is what her Sunday School teacher called her. Scully mentions the time on the clock as well. Mulder thinks he can prove that God isn’t really trying to say something to her.

Donnie listens to a news report about himself on the radio, then looks through the supplies in Orison’s car. He’s left his driver’s license and house key, so Donnie now has a place to hide out. Back at the hospital, Mulder shows Scully a scan of Orison’s brain, which shows swelling – not from being hit by a car, but because Orison did some sort of procedure to himself to increase blood flow. Mulder thinks this is how Orison developed his powers of hypnosis, allowing him to alter reality.

Scully asks why he would do this. Mulder thinks that Orison believes that Donnie should have died instead of being sentenced to life in prison. Maybe he thought he was “opening the doors of perception,” but instead he accidentally opened the gates of Hell. At the hospital, Orison lies awake in bed under the watchful eye of a Marshal. “Glory. Amen,” Orison says a few times, slowing his heart rate. He makes the Marshal freeze, allowing Orison to steal his gun.

Donnie holes up in Orison’s apartment and orders up an escort. He likes her manicure and red hair. He does his typical thing with her, having her get in the bath and then offering her hair products. She thinks he’s being weird and decides to leave. As she’s getting out of the tub, he realizes her hair is a wig and accuses her and “they” of lying to him. Donnie hits her, but she hits back, knocking him out.

In the morning, the agents go to Orison’s room and find the Marshal still in his hypnotic state. Orison is long gone, and the Marshal has no idea what happened. Scully finds a note Orison left: “Don’t look any further.” Mulder guesses that he overheard them talking in the hallway the day before, but Scully’s sure that she didn’t mention the name of the song she’s been hearing.

Donnie regains consciousness to find Orison in the bathroom with him, ready to take him “home.” Orison recites scripture about the wicked being punished. He digs a grave and tells Donnie to pray for God’s love. If he believes, he’ll repent, and God will show him the way to Heaven. Donnie cries, and Orison urges him to beg forgiveness for his crimes. He asks if Donnie’s crying for his sins or for himself. Donnie says he’s crying for Orison because Orison can’t kill him. He turns into a demon.

Orison’s body is found the next day, buried in the grave he was digging for Donnie. Scully tells Mulder he was right about her looking for connections that weren’t there. Orison was just a murderer who wanted to pass judgment on other killers. Mulder thinks the case is over and the Marshals should take over. Scully shouldn’t look any further.

Of course, it’s not that simple (and there are still ten minutes left in the episode). Donnie goes to D.C. and lets himself into Scully’s apartment, finding her Bible by her bed. He puts it in a drawer. Scully comes home and gets ready to take a shower, but her clock is reading 6:66 again. The power goes out, and Scully quickly realizes that she’s not alone in the apartment.

The escort has called the proper authorities, and someone leaves a message on Mulder’s machine letting him know that she had a run-in with Donnie. He wonders if it’s significant that Donnie was upset that the escort wasn’t a natural redhead. Meanwhile, Donnie wrestles with his favorite redhead, trying to choke her. She gouges his eyes and grabs her gun, but he throws her into a mirror and she drops it. She hits him with anything she can reach, fighting relentlessly, and finally gets away.

Donnie chases her and stops her from calling for help. Scully tells him to go back to Hell as he overpowers her. He asks who does her nails. She tells him he’s only alive because they didn’t kill him when they had the chance. Donnie calls her the one who got away. She’s all he thinks about. Scully warns that, since she’s a federal agent, he’ll get the death penalty if he kills her. Donnie responds that he’s going to run her a bath.

Mulder’s getting ready for bed at his own place, setting his alarm for the morning. “Don’t Look Any Further” comes on the radio. Donnie drags a bound and gagged Scully to her hallway and leaves her tied up while he runs the bath. She can hear her phone ringing, but she can’t answer it. Donnie turns on the radio; of course, “Don’t Look Any Further” plays.

Mulder gives up on trying to call as Scully checks out her surroundings to weigh her options. She’s able to roll through her apartment while Donnie gathers supplies, including candles and a pair of scissors. Scully manages to get her bound wrists in front of her, but before she can do anything else, Mulder arrives. Scully joins them as lights pop and a bullet casing falls to the floor. Mulder was ready to arrest Donnie, but Scully has shot him.

Once the police have come to secure the crime scene, Scully finds her Bible in a drawer. Mulder tells her not to judge herself for shooting Donnie. After all, the Bible permits vengeance. Scully says the law doesn’t. Mulder thinks she made the right decision; Donnie would have kept killing if she hadn’t stopped him. Scully has no doubt that Donnie was evil, but she’s not sure about who was at work in her. What made her pull the trigger – God…or something else?

Thoughts: This episode feels like they combined “Irresistible” and “Pusher.” It also feels unnecessary.

Speaking of “Pusher” (and “Kitsunegari”), didn’t the agents learn anything about leaving someone alone with a supernatural persuader? As soon as they figured out what was going on with Orison, they should have put the Marshal outside his room instead of in it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Scully either needs a security alarm or a building with a doorman. (At least she’s learned this by season 11.)

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