September 12, 2017

SVT #105, Jessica’s Lucky Millions: Jessica Is Officially a Golddigger

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

Uh, guys? The rainbow’s over there

Summary: After watching a movie about people winning big in Vegas, Jessica becomes interested in the idea of becoming rich without having to, like, work. Dare to dream, Jess. She considers playing the lottery, but since she’s only 12, that’s probably a long shot. She then thinks about learning some casino games, and she asks Steven to help her out, but he throws her dice out the window, which cracked me up.

The twins have been studying Irish folklore and history, and when Jessica gets caught daydreaming in class (now she wants to win money in a sweepstakes), she’s assigned to write an essay about the legend of the pot of gold. Jessica spends more time whining about this and the fact that it’ll keep her from hanging out with her new crush, Rick Hunter, than it would take her to actually write the essay. But then she realizes that if the legend is true, and she can find a pot of gold, she’ll become super-rich. She gets Lila interested, since Lila’s father has just denied her request for an expensive leather jacket – if Lila has gold, she can buy whatever she wants.

Steven overhears the girls plotting and tells them he found an old map inside a book. He gives just enough detail to make Jessica think that the map will lead to a pot of gold. She steals the map and tells Liz that she plans to use it to find her fortune. Elizabeth points out that since it’s Steven’s map, he should be involved, but since he’s been a jerk lately, he doesn’t deserve it.

During the unit on Irish history and stories, Elizabeth has found her new favorite writer, Maggie Sullivan. She wants to turn one of Maggie’s stories into a play. It’s called Fool’s Paradise, and it’s about a couple who move from Ireland to America together, then get separated and realize they’ve lost everything. Cheery! Liz learns that Maggie moved to Southern California, so she puts in a request with some writers’ association for Maggie to call her. Steven pretends to be Maggie and gets Liz’s hopes up that the writer wants to meet her. For once in her life, Elizabeth wants revenge.

Jessica and Lila determine that the gold is buried at Sunset Beach (wasn’t that a soap in the ’90s?). Yes, it just so happens to be in Sweet Valley. When Liz and Amy look at the map, Liz realizes that Steven made it and is just messing with Jess. Jess and Lila are in denial, and the subsequent fight makes Elizabeth want revenge on another sibling. She and Amy bury some stuff at the beach to mess with Jessica and Lila, then amuse themselves by watching the girls dig up what they don’t realize is nothing special.

Jess and Lila dig up Liz’s key and a rock she’s labeled the Blarney stone. Cut to Lila making out with a rock. After they have to go home for the night, Liz tells Steven where he can find the treasure. When Jessica and Lila go back to finish their dig, Steven shows up as well. The dig continues, and Elizabeth is stunned when Jessica finds a purple bag. The bag contains a gold necklace inscribed with a love note from Patrick to Maggie, and a card with Maggie Sullivan’s address.

Steven, Jessica, and Lila go to Maggie’s house the next day to give her back her necklace. She tells them she lost it years ago and thought she’d never see it again). Jessica and Steven didn’t want Liz to come along, since they’re mad at her, but when she shows up, having followed them, they want her to meet the writer she admires so much. Maggie gives them each a gold coin, which she says will bring the kids good luck. They do, but it’s little stuff like a date with Rick, so I’m not sure we can credit that to the coins.

Thoughts: “Did they have malls in Paris? Jessica wondered.” I don’t think Lila would go there if they didn’t.

Speaking of Lily, I really doubt she has Doc Martens.

If Maggie’s so famous (there are pictures of her with celebrities in her house), how did no one know she lived in Sweet Valley? Why do so many famous people end up there anyway?

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September 9, 2017

The X-Files 6.2, Drive: Mulder Needs This Like a Hole in the Head

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

“Jesse, we have to drive!”

Summary: A Fox news break shows a high-speed police car chase focused on a blue car. It’s been traveling through Nevada, and two people appear to be inside. The passenger may be a hostage. The news feed cuts out, and we join the driver and passenger inside the car. The passenger is a woman lying in the backseat, experiencing a loud ringing in her ears.

Police put down spikes and successfully stop the car. They pull out the driver, who’s more concerned about his passenger, Vicky, than about himself. The police pull out Vicky and put her in the back of a squad car. A cameraman in a helicopter gets footage of her banging her head on the window, followed by a splatter of blood.

Mulder and Scully go to Buhl, Idaho, to chat with a man named Virgil (who thinks they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses). They’d liked to know what he plans to do with the 5,000 pounds of fertilizer he recently purchased. Virgil says he grows sugar beets and isn’t planning on blowing anything up. Virgil has the TV on, and the agents catch a glimpse of a news report about the end of the car chase. Vicky is dead, but there’s no word on what happened.

The agents are asked to help investigate, but Scully reminds her partner that they’re no longer with the X-Files. They’re supposed to be investigating domestic terrorism. Besides, she thinks Vicky was shot, so there’s nothing to investigate. Mulder disagrees – he thinks the driver, Vicky’s husband, was trying to warn the cops before she died. He convinces Scully to go to Nevada with him.

In Elko, Nevada, the driver is in police custody. He realizes his nose is bleeding, and he starts getting the same ringing in his ears that Vicky had. He begs for help, yelling, “It’s starting!” Mulder and Scully meet with a police captain named Van Gelder, who says that the driver claims the police are going to kill him the way they killed Vicky. Van Gelder promises that they had nothing to do with Vicky’s death.

Mulder reads up on the driver, Patrick Crump, who had no police record before he hijacked a car and led the cops on a chase. Scully heads out to examine Vicky’s body while Mulder waits around to be allowed to talk to Crump. He checks out a map and follows the route Crump and Vicky took. They started going in one direction, then changed course and headed towards Wells, Nevada. Mulder wonders why.

Scully begins examining Vicky, who looks like she was shot in the head but doesn’t have evidence of an entry wound or gunpowder residue. Basically, it looks like she was shot from the inside of her head, or, as the coroner puts it, “like a little bomb went off in her ear.” Blood squirts out of the hole in Vicky’s brain, spraying Scully.

Crump’s in bad physical shape, so the police send him to the hospital. Mulder follows the ambulance, where Crump’s condition seems to stabilize. Suddenly the ambulance starts swerving, then stops. Crump jumps out the back with a gun, which he points at Mulder.

Scully calls her partner from the coroner’s lab (“Mulder, it’s me”), which she’s quarantined. She warns that Vicky may have died from something communicable, which has also killed someone in Montello, Nevada, the Crumps’ hometown. Scully orders Mulder not to have any contact with Crump, but it’s too late. Crump has started a new car chase, this time with Mulder driving at gunpoint.

Van Gelder comes to the lab and talks to Scully on the phone from the next room. The police are going to put up a roadblock and stop the chase. Scully tells him the steps that need to be taken once the two men are stopped; they need to be quarantined separately. But someone gets a message to Van Gelder from Crump, who says he’ll kill Mulder if the police don’t stop following them.

The police listen, so now it’s just Mulder and Crump on the road. Mulder tries to get Crump to let him out so he can drive off on his own. Crump refuses, then throws Mulder’s phone out the window for good measure. When Mulder slows down at a red light, Crump, who appears to be in pain, tells him to keep driving. Mulder realizes there’s a connection between the car’s speed and Crump’s condition, so he floors it. He guesses that Vicky died because the car stopped moving. “I think I saw this movie,” he says.

Mulder knows that Crump’s life is now in his hands, so he asks Crump to explain things. There’s a helicopter following them, which makes Mulder think the roadblock is still in play. He’s right, and the people waiting there have taken the precautions Scully told them to. Crump and Mulder change direction, and while Van Gelder thinks Crump dictated the new route, Scully thinks it was Mulder. Maybe he knows something they don’t. A CDC doctor examines Vicky and the other victim’s bodies but doesn’t see any signs of an infectious disease. Scully doesn’t want to call off the quarantine just yet, though.

Kersh calls Scully to ask how things are going in Buhl. “Think carefully,” he warns when she pauses to decide what to say. She comes clean, admitting that she and Mulder are in Nevada. Kersh tells her that agents at a local field office are available to help her find her partner. He thinks that he might want to see Mulder alive even more than Scully does. Scully looks at the second victim’s information and sees that he’s a meter reader. She wonders if he read the meter at the Crumps’ house.

In the car, Crump demands that Mulder call him Mr. Crump, but he doesn’t have a gun on me so I don’t have to afford him that courtesy. Also, he asks if Mulder is a Jewish name, so he really doesn’t deserve my respect. Mulder replies, “It’s Mr. Mulder to you, you peanut-picking bastard.” He again asks what’s going on. Crump suddenly cries out in pain and tells Mulder to turn to the left, even though there’s no road there, only trees. He bangs his head on the window until Mulder makes it to an intersecting road and makes the turn. He realizes that Crump needs to keep moving west.

Scully lets herself out of quarantine to check out the Crumps’ house in Montello. A K-9 dog has a very strong reaction to something on the premises, running around and barking his head off. Scully gets a sample of the dog’s blood, but moments later, he dies the way Vicky did.

Mulder tries to go through the events of Crump’s day. He didn’t go to work, since it was raining and he’s a roofer. Vicky was cooking breakfast when Crump noticed that her nose was bleeding. Mulder asks what caused it, and Crump says he has no idea – “what am I, like, Quincy?” Wow, what a timely reference. Vicky developed a headache that kept getting worse, and Crump didn’t know what to do, so he started to take her to the hospital. She felt better the faster he drove, so he kept driving.

Mulder expresses sympathy for Crump’s loss, but Crump doesn’t think the “Jew FBI” is capable of sympathy. He believes he and Vicky were “government guinea pigs.” Mulder notices that the car is running out of gas and informs his captor, “on behalf of the international Jewish conspiracy,” that they’re going to have to stop soon.

In Montello, there are still no signs of an infectious disease. Scully sees that there’s a house nearby, so she and a CDC doctor go check on the Crumps’ neighbors. Their pet birds are dead, so that can’t be good. But fortunately, the old, deaf woman who lives there is alive, though probably traumatized by the sight of doctors in Hazmat suits entering her house in the dark.

Mulder pulls into a gas station, promising Crump that he’ll gas up fast. He’s delayed when he pulls up to the wrong side, then when the employee inside won’t turn on the pump until he pays. Mulder thinks fast, stealing another car. He leaves behind a note for Scully in his passenger seat.

Scully mulls over the meaning of the old woman’s survival, then decides they’re not dealing with something infectious. Since the inner ear is affected, maybe they’re dealing with a sound. Van Gelder calls to tell her that Mulder stole a car. He reads Mulder’s note to Scully, which explains that Crump is sick and has to keep moving so he doesn’t die. Scully tells Van Gelder this means they have to let him through the roadblock. As their phone connection cuts out, Scully sees what look like clothes on the ground outside the Crumps’ house, as well as a plate identifying the property as belonging to the government.

Crump’s getting worse, so Mulder has to drive faster to keep him comfortable. Crump semi-apologizes for “the Jew stuff,” but Mulder isn’t going to accept that. Crump wonders if Mulder is doing exactly what the government wants him to. If he is, he’s taking away Crump’s dignity. It would be better if the government just killed him. Mulder notes that, if Crump dies, the government gets off the hook, so Crump needs to stay alive to stick it to them.

As Mulder and Crump approach California, “running out of west,” Scully goes to a Naval research station in Wendover, Nevada, to ask a lieutenant about the electrical equipment in Montello. The lieutenant thinks she’s with the FCC, since he’s already spoken to them. He explains that there was a power surge during a conduction test the previous morning. He won’t tell Scully the possible effects such a surge might have on a human being.

Mulder and Crump have driven all night, and a couple of CHiP officers are now on their trail in California. One of them has a phone for Mulder so he can talk to Scully. She offers to get on a jet and meet him wherever he’s going. Scully tells him about the radio-transmission waves used in a Naval mission that appear to be causing Crump’s problems. Basically, he’s being affected by an electrical weapon. The agents aren’t sure why the movement of the car is making things better.

Scully has a plan, though she knows Crump won’t like it. Mulder tells his captor that he was right about the government being to blame, though it may not have been on purpose. Scully plans to put a huge needle in Crump’s ear to relieve the pressure in his head. It’ll hurt a lot and probably leave Crump deaf, but at least his inner ear won’t explode. Crump decides that’s a fair trade-off.

The agents meet up in Loleta, California, but despite Mulder driving up toward the triple digits in speed, it’s too late – Crump is dead when they arrive. When the agents return to D.C., Kersh lectures them about all the money they racked up during the investigation. He wants to bill Scully instead of Mulder, so Mulder can’t keep relishing his role as martyr. Mulder says they’ll go back to looking into big piles of manure, and Kersh replies that he can always quit. But that would mean he can’t stick it to the government, so he’s not going to do that. (He will storm out of the office, though.)

Scully wants Kersh to show some compassion for Mulder, who’s been through a lot. Plus, the investigation is going to lead to the end of the project in Montello. Kersh says that can’t be proven – the closing of the Naval facility is supposedly coincidental. He doesn’t care if they save “a busload of doe-eyed urchins on their way to Bible camp.” They’re no longer in the X-Files. “Big piles of manure,” Scully spits out as she leaves the office.

Thoughts: As you can see from the picture above, Crump is played by Bryan Cranston. Van Gelder is played by Michael O’Neill, who also worked with James Pickens, Jr. in a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (he played the guy who went on a shooting rampage in the hospital).

The point of Crump’s antisemitism was…?

I wish we could have seen the CHiP officer trying to pass the phone to Mulder through the window while they were both speeding down the highway. Talk about a missed opportunity for comedy.

Now let’s all go watch Speed!

September 5, 2017

SVT #104, Big Brother’s in Love Again: More Like Big Bother

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 4:55 pm by Jenn

This is perfect

Summary: Steven has been happily dating Cathy for a while now, but when Joe starts talking about how being single allows him to date multiple girls, Steven starts to regret tying himself down (his words, not mine). Cathy probably has the same regrets when he starts acting jerky, making decisions about the movie they’re seeing and not sharing his popcorn with her. Some popular guys are at the movie theater, and Steven is pumped when a senior named Richard Ferris says hi to him. He’s so pumped that he ditches Cathy and sits with Ferris and his friends. He figures Cathy’s fine because some friends have joined her.

Jill Hale is also hanging out with the popular kids, and Steven’s crush on her suddenly returns. Cathy and her friends leave (we find out later that they went to another movie), so Steven is alone when Ferris invites him to come get pizza with the popular guys. Jill isn’t interested, so Steven invites her to get burgers and go roller-skating. Everyone thinks Steven is dating Cathy, but he says they’re just friends. Not great friends, apparently, since he ditches her twice, once during the movie and then afterwards to go off with Jill. I hope she got another ride home.

At the Dairi Burger, Jill orders a salad and water. Because she’s a girl, you know. Steven decides he’s too good of a guy to cheat on Cathy, so he calls her and breaks up with her over the phone. Cathy barely responds, so I’m guessing that she’s mad enough to realize she’s better off without him. Steven is ready to have some alone time with Jill, but she turns out to be incredibly vapid. At this point, this is exactly what Steven deserves, but he doesn’t get that yet.

Steven and Jill go skating and run into Cathy, who’s come with her friends and doesn’t look the least bit upset about being dumped minutes earlier. Steven thinks she’s masking her pain over their breakup. He “apologizes” to her, saying that he wishes there were two of him so Cathy wouldn’t have to suffer being without him. He basically says that the breakup hurts him as much as it hurts her. Cathy again barely responds, because she is a normal human being, unlike this weird alien who’s just done her the favor of dumping her.

Joe learns of Steven and Cathy’s breakup and asks Steven if he can go out with Cathy. Steven doesn’t think Cathy will return his affections, so he gives his blessing. He goes out with Jill, who continues to be superficial and uninteresting. He starts to doubt his decision to choose her over Cathy, but stops immediately when the popular guys show up. He’d rather be bored with Jill and get the approval of the popular guys than be “tied down” to Cathy.

When Steven sees Cathy and Joe together at school, he still thinks Cathy is just trying to ease her pain over their breakup. He goes to her house after school to tell her he’ll take her to an upcoming Valentine’s Day street dance, since he’d promised to, and I guess he still thinks he’s noble and respectable enough to keep his word. Cathy tells him she already has a date – Joe. Steven’s hurt and tries to get sympathy from the twins, who point out that he caused all his own problems by breaking up with Cathy.

Steven makes a deal with the twins to help them get dates to the dance (more on that in the B-plot) if they help him get back together with Cathy. Their plan involves running into Cathy downtown, and Steven pretending to comfort Jessica over something so Cathy can see what a compassionate, wonderful person he is. But the twins love Cathy and are angry with their brother for the way he’s been treating her, so instead they make him look like even more of a jerk in front of Cathy.

Things get even worse for Steven (but still not as bad as he deserves) when he sees Jill hanging out with Ferris. He mopes about how horrible things are going for him, as if he didn’t put everything in motion. Joe tells him how great things are going with Cathy, and how he’s changed his mind about not wanting to be a one-woman man. Steven lies that Cathy tried to get back together with him. Steven is seriously the hugest jerk in this book, and I hoped it would end with people throwing rotting produce at him.

Joe gets mad about Steven’s claims and goes off to break up with Cathy. Then Jill calls to tell Steven that she’s going to the dance with Ferris, who happens to be her ex. Steven realizes that she was just hanging out with him to make Ferris jealous. He has the nerve to be upset, as if he wasn’t using Jill to get access to the popular crowd. Steven’s whole life has fallen apart (couldn’t happen to a nicer guy), so he makes a new deal with the twins: He’ll get them dates to the dance if they help him get Joe and Cathy back together.

The twins accept, and Steven fulfills his end of the deal, but he learns that they didn’t – Joe and Cathy haven’t reunited. At the dance, Joe’s band plays Steven and Cathy’s song, as requested by the twins and dedicated to the former couple. Cathy asks Steven to dance and reveals that she and Joe were never really dating. They just wanted to make Steven jealous. Somehow, she thinks the experience has made Steven realize that other people have feelings and he needs to respect them. You know, like everyone else learns in kindergarten. For some reason, Cathy wants to get back together. That poor girl.

In the B-plot, the twins are upset that Todd and Aaron are going to an away basketball game and won’t be able to take them to the street dance. The girls think their guys should care more about Valentine’s Day. Jessica learns that one of Steven’s classmates, Pete, has two cousins visiting, and without knowing what they’re like or seeing them for more than a couple seconds, Jessica wants them. She decides to keep their visit quiet so no other girls can call dibs first. She convinces Elizabeth to help her meet the cousins so they can have two cool dates to the dance.

Because they’re 12-year-olds and don’t know how to behave like normal people, the girls stalk the cousins by hiding in the bushes outside their house. They figure eventually the boys will leave the house and the twins can pretend to just be passing by. Janet catches them, and Jessica gets her to leave by telling her that Janet’s crush, Denny, is on his way to the Dairi Burger with another girl. Then the twins learn that the cousins are already at the Dairi Burger.

They rush over and distract Janet from seeing the cousins by telling her that there are roaches in the food, so she has to keep Denny from eating anything. While they’re there, Elizabeth sees the cousins for the first time and agrees that she and Jess are doing the right thing by trying to claim them, because the boys are hot. They lock Janet in a bathroom, but this keeps them from being able to talk to the boys.

The girls go a-stalking again, and Jess has the brilliant idea to try to get them to leave the house by yelling, “Fire!” The boys aren’t home, and everyone in the neighborhood is confused. Even though they’ve never so much as spoken to these guys, Jessica decides to tell everyone that she and Liz have hot dates to the dance. Janet calls her bluff and suggests a bet. If Jess and Liz do show up with hot dates, Janet will tell everyone at the dance that Joe’s band is better than Johnny Buck’s. If the twins are lying, they have to come to the dance dressed alike and dance every dance together.

Jessica’s desperate now, so she actually calls up Pete and asks to talk to either of his cousins. Pete couldn’t care less about helping a bunch of middle-schoolers make love connections, and he refuses. The twins next go to his house and pretend they’re polling boys, in hopes that Pete’s mom will bring one of them to the door. She tells them the boys have already gone home.

As mentioned above, Steven offers to get the twins dates with the cousins if they’ll help him get back together with Cathy. Since the twins know that the cousins are gone, they don’t bother helping him out. They’re unable to find other dates, so when Steven presents his second deal to get them dates, they accept. Steven is able to convince Todd and Aaron to skip the basketball game and take the twins to the dance. Apparently they count in the twins’ bet with Janet, so she has to tell everyone at the dance that Joe’s band is better than the Buckster’s. Everyone ends the book happy (except Janet, I guess).

Thoughts: I need the ghostwriters to stop inserting “like” and “you know” into so much of the dialogue. It’s, you know, like, really annoying.

Jessica: “You can give a jerk a shower and put him into a clean T-shirt. But it doesn’t change his essential jerkiness.” Truer words were never spoken.

Please keep in mind that when Steven tries to get Cathy back, he’s still dating Jill. Even when he tries to fix a jerk move, he’s still a jerk.

“Through absolutely no fault of his own, he’d lost two girlfriends even though he was one of the coolest dudes he had personally ever met.” Steven needs a psychiatrist.

“In his mind he ticked off the people he’d managed to hurt or let down. Cathy, Joe, the twins. And most of all, himself.” Excuse me? How did Steven hurt himself more than Cathy? This guy is a mess.

September 2, 2017

The X-Files 6.1, The Beginning: The Last, Best Chance

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

This is wrong! Put it back the way it was!

Summary: A company van takes employees from Roush Technologies in Phoenix home from work. One man, Sandy, is sick, but his colleagues don’t seem to care. Sandy goes home to an empty house, and as his condition worsens, his hand becomes translucent and swollen, like there’s another creature’s hand inside it. The next morning, a co-worker comes to pick him up for the carpool and finds him dead, with a huge hole in his stomach, like something tore out of him. The co-worker is attacked, probably by that something.

In D.C., Mulder tries to recover the files that were burned in his office seven months ago. He tells a panel of agents that, even without everything restored, he and Scully should be able to immediately revive the X-Files division. As Scully joins her once and future partner, Assistant Director Maslin scoffs at their claims that they saw a spaceship in Antarctica. Another agent asks if the “spacelings” the agents saw were different from the creatures in Men in Black. Mulder admits that he didn’t see it.

Maslin tries to sum up the agents’ claims about the spacelings intentions and the Syndicate’s conspiracy. When she puts it all out there in a nutshell version, it does sound pretty crazy. The panel doesn’t think Mulder has given any good reasons for the reopening of the X-Files. Another agent notes that Mulder and Scully’s travel expenses are a little ridiculous, too. (Heh.) Maslin reminds Mulder and Scully that their job isn’t to do science stuff or work on personal projects. Mulder announces that Scully will present evidence that his claims are real.

Cut to the end of the hearing, and Scully clearly didn’t do what Mulder hoped she would. She doesn’t have enough evidence to back up Mulder’s theories. She hasn’t been able to identify the virus she contracted from the bee, but it’s not extraterrestrial. Mulder is adamant that the virus generates an alien being inside human hosts. Scully disagrees – it attacks and destroys human cells, but it doesn’t create a new being. They may not have all the answers, but Mulder can’t question science.

CSM shows the Syndicate pictures of Sandy and his co-worker, saying he was able to convince the Phoenix police that a “crazy Indian” attacked them. He knows the public is racist enough to buy the story. Sandy is on the Syndicate’s side, and he must have accidentally injected himself at work. The Syndicate is distressed that the creature that came out of Sandy’s body is now on the loose. The Elder asks if CSM can take care of this problem.

Skinner, who was at the hearing but didn’t say anything, because of course he didn’t, meets up with Mulder in a lab to tell him that his request to return to the X-Files has been denied. There was a unanimous vote against it. Since Skinner isn’t siding with the majority, he can’t help Mulder, especially when there’s no evidence to back up his claims. But there’s a folder on Mulder’s desk in his burned-out office that might help him. It contains a picture of Sandy’s body.

Spender joins Mulder in the office, and Mulder guesses that Spender is his replacement. He’s wrong – it’s Fowley. Mulder’s mad, saying that Fowley betrayed him. CSM ignores a no-smoking sign and interrupts a surgical procedure to announce that he’s taking the patient. The surgeon objects, but CSM says, “It’s him or it’s us.” The patient is poor Gibson, and he’s having something done to his brain, but the doctors haven’t even done him the courtesy of rendering him unconscious first.

Mulder and Scully go to Phoenix to check out Sandy’s house. Scully tries to remind her partner that they’re violating the law and contaminating a crime scene; when he ignores her, she sighs, “Why do I bother?” Mulder finds streaks of blood on the wall and deep scratches in the wood floor, so the police’s story that Sandy and his co-worker were attacked by an unarmed human is probably B.S. Fortunately, the attacker broke a nail, and it’s clear it didn’t belong to a human.

Mulder guesses that Sandy was infected and basically birthed the attacker, which hung out for a few hours before attacking the co-worker. Scully can’t believe that the creature was only a few hours old. Outside, CSM and Gibson check out the crime scene from a car. Gibson says that “it” was there, but it left. CSM isn’t sure, so Gibson asks why he doubts someone he’s so afraid of. He knows that CSM is thinking about destroying him, and most likely will kill him if he doesn’t find the creature.

The car leaves before the agents exit the house, trying to connect the creature to what happened to Scully. She takes his hand and reminds Mulder that she still has to follow what science tells her; it wouldn’t be honest of her if she suddenly started believing his theories. Mulder tells her that her science is wrong.

Just outside of Phoenix, a nuclear plant employee named Homer (I wonder what that’s a reference to?) is dozing on the job. He and a co-worker notice a temperature change in the core, so Homer goes to check it out. Of course, he gets attacked. The agents come in, meeting up with Spender, who thinks Skinner must have told them about the attack. He refuses to let them in, and Fowley won’t budge either. She does admit that there may be a connection to Sandy and his co-worker’s deaths. Mulder tells her that he hopes she knows “whose errands [she’s] running.”

Scully pulls her partner away, wondering how Mulder knows they’re dealing with something connected to the previous deaths. They return to their car to find Gibson unconscious in the backseat. They take him to a motel, where they discover that he had some sort of brain surgery. Gibson chastises Scully for mentally comparing him to Frankenstein’s monster. She tells him he has an infection, and CSM didn’t change his bandages, so that’s just more proof that he’s a horrible person.

Gibson tells her and Mulder that he had the procedure so he can read people’s minds. He was able to escape CSM because he knew what CSM was thinking. The Syndicate was using him because he can communicate with “it.” Scully asks what “it” is, and Gibson says she already knows; she just doesn’t want to believe it. Mulder pulls Scully aside to say that they can use Gibson just as CSM was trying to. Scully refuses, knowing that Gibson needs medical attention. They need to protect him because he could be the key to proving Mulder’s theories. He could be their “last, best chance.”

As the agents are putting Gibson in the car to take him to a hospital, Fowley shows up. She tells Mulder she took the job in the X-Files to make sure the work was continued by someone who believes in it. She’s on Mulder and Scully’s side. She thinks she and Mulder should go find the creature in the nuclear reactor before the Syndicate does. Mulder’s close to the truth and needs to see it. He tells Scully to take Gibson to the hospital while he and Fowley go on a creature hunt.

On their way to the plant, Fowley tells Mulder that Homer’s body was removed before she and Spender arrived. Mulder wonders if the creature’s looking for heat. Fowley agrees – the creature could still be developing, and could need heat to spur that along. Scully gets Gibson to a hospital, where he reads her thoughts to criticize that she wants to both make him well and learn from him. She tells him he’s special and knows it. “I’m a very special lab rat,” he corrects.

Mulder and Fowley sneak into the plant and locate the spot where Homer’s body was found, just above the core reactor. They find a sticky substance not unlike the stuff on the body of the firefighter after the bombing in Dallas. They also find something that looks like shed skin. Scully calls Mulder to tell him that Gibson has the virus in his system. Now she can admit that there’s a link to what they’ve been investigating. But before she can get back to Gibson, someone else finds him and rekidnaps him.

Gibson is taken to the plant, where Mulder and Fowley run around to avoid detection. Gibson says the creature is still in the building, but he doesn’t offer up a specific location. Mulder and Fowley find them but are locked out. As Fowley goes looking for another entrance, the creature attacks Gibson’s kidnapper. An alarm sounds and Mulder is surrounded by guards. Fowley joins them, pointing her gun at him. Mulder’s just concerned about Gibson’s safety, and his fate isn’t clear.

The agents return for another hearing and are instructed to immediately stop investigating the X-Files. As further punishment, they no longer report to Skinner, but to Assistant Director Alvin Kersh. Elsewhere, Spender meets with CSM, who’s proud of how he handled Mulder. Spender knows that the new work assignment won’t keep Mulder from the X-Files forever. CSM isn’t concerned. Spender knows CSM has killed before, but CSM says you can kill a person but “not what he stands for – not unless you first kill his spirit. That’s a beautiful thing to see.”

Mulder goes back to trying to restore the burned files, because he’s never followed a direct order before and he’s not about to start now. He thinks Fowley filed a false report about what happened at the plant because she’s trying to protect their work. Scully disagrees – Fowley’s report doesn’t mention Gibson, and seems to protect everyone and everything except Mulder. Mulder says that at least Fowley isn’t going to spout what Scully says about only science being right.

Scully says that she can’t believe in a lie, especially not something that’s the opposite of what she can prove. It’s about trust. Mulder asks if she wants him to make a choice. Scully replies that she wants him to trust her judgment – to trust her. He can’t if it refutes what he knows is true.

Scully shows him the results of tests done on the nail from Sandy’s house. The DNA matches the virus, as well as Gibson’s DNA. It’s a remnant that’s found in all human DNA, but it’s inactive in everyone except Gibson. Mulder says that that means Gibson is partially extraterrestrial. Scully corrects that that means everyone is. Back at the plant, Gibson is alive and well, staring into the core, where the creature is also still alive, and still developing. It sheds more of its body until it looks like an alien.

Thoughts: Kersh, who has four seconds of screentime and doesn’t say anything, is played by James Pickens, Jr. (Webber on Grey’s Anatomy, Henry on Beverly Hills, 90210). Maslin is played by Wendie Malick. Sandy is played by Rick Millikan, the show’s casting director.

Mulder and Fowley teaming up isn’t nearly as much fun as Mulder and Scully teaming up.

The FBI taking issue with Mulder and Scully’s travel expenses is pretty great. “You want the government to pay for your trip to Antarctica? You could have at least brought us souvenirs!”

August 29, 2017

SVT #103, Elizabeth Solves It All: When You Ask a 12-Year-Old for Advice, You Get What You Pay For

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:52 pm by Jenn

Am I crazy or does Liz look like Taylor Swift here?

Summary: Because Elizabeth is so smart and so intuitive and so caring and so helpful and so awesome, she’s going to be writing an advice column for The Sixers. At first, no one cares. Amy and Maria are disappointed, because having an advice column would allow them to enter some magazine contest that could win them desktop publishing software. They write letters to Dear Elizabeth (such an original name!) asking for some minor advice – Amy wants to know what to get her grandmother for her birthday, and Maria wants to know what to wear to a party with some old Hollywood friends.

Knowing exactly who she’s responding to, despite their aliases, Liz tells Amy to buy scrapbooking supplies so she and Grandma Sutton can organize photo albums. She tells Maria to wear her favorite outfit so she’ll feel confident and comfortable. There’s also a third letter from someone who wants to know how to tell his parents he’s responsible enough to get a dog. Elizabeth doesn’t know who this person is.

Liz’s advice to Amy and Maria leads to a successful birthday present and a successful party, respectively. The third letter writer is Denny, who was able to use her advice to convince his parents to let him get a dog. He names the dog Woolly Booger, which would make me change my mind about Denny’s level of responsibility and maturity if he were my kid. Janet mocks Liz for being perfect enough to give others advice, so Maria lies that Liz’s advice to her helped her land a part in a movie, and the advice to Amy made her grandmother so happy that she’s taking her family to Hawaii.

Elizabeth tries her hand at unsolicited advice next, telling Jessica to stop copying Mandy, who’s getting annoyed by it. Jess doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with this sincerest form of flattery, so she tells Elizabeth to stuff it. However, everyone else at SVMS is hungry for Dear Elizabeth’s advice. She’s inundated with letters and becomes obsessed with helping to solve everyone’s problems. She misses classes, forgets her chores and dates with Todd, and can’t think about anything but writing responses to her eager advice-seekers.

Things start to go south. Someone writes in asking how to deal with a friend who’s neglecting her in favor of another friend. Liz advises the writer to make friends with the new friend so all three can hang out together. The writer turns out to be Janet, who’s jealous of all the time Denny spends with his dog. She offers to look after the dog for a while, but Denny’s not as responsible as he led on, and he never comes to get his dog back. Janet eventually takes it to a shelter, where it’s adopted by a family who I desperately hope changes its name.

Mandy’s having a sleepover but can’t invite all the Unicorns because there isn’t enough space in her house. Since Jessica has been bugging her, Mandy’s considering cutting her from the guest list. Dear Elizabeth advises her to only invite who she wants to invite, since it’s her party. This results in Jess losing out on an invitation. Randy writes in asking how he can get money for something or other, and Liz suggests that he start a business venture. Randy bakes cookies, but he doesn’t taste the batch before he tries to sell them, and they’re horrible.

Then Elizabeth’s advice starts affecting those closest to her. Amy can’t get her to talk in person, so she writes for advice about her grandmother (more on that in the B-plot). It goes over badly, and Amy gets mad. Jessica’s even madder when Liz is so preoccupied by her advice-giving that she forgets to tell Jess about a rescheduled test. Jess is upset that her own sister doesn’t have time to talk to her about her problems. Maria finds Elizabeth crying in the bathroom and tries to help her, but the girl who has advice for everyone doesn’t want anyone else’s advice or help.

Everyone’s mad at Liz for giving advice that has ruined their lives. Amy comes to school one morning to find Liz barricaded in the Sixers office, trying to avoid the angry kids outside. Amy tells them all that Elizabeth’s advice was fine; they just made dumb decisions, then blamed her when things went badly. For example, Denny used Liz’s advice to convince his parents he was responsible enough for a dog, but his actions didn’t prove that. Mandy used the advice to trim her guest list, then got mad that Jessica was upset about being cut. (Amy’s very smart here – she points out that you can’t exclude someone and then get mad when that person feels excluded.)

Amy literally tells everyone to grow up, which is awesome, then writes Liz one last letter with her own advice: Ask for help when you need it. Liz takes the advice, and Jessica, Amy, Maria, and Mandy help her get caught up on all the things she hasn’t been doing because she’s been so busy writing letters. Then she ends her advice column, so her classmates will have to go back to making dumb decisions on their own.

In the B-plot, Amy’s grandmother has just moved to Sweet Valley, and she’s a little cranky about it. To be fair, Amy’s parents treat her like a child or like someone who’s incapable of taking care of herself. Amy starts worrying when her grandmother doesn’t buy groceries and forgets to get her medicine from the pharmacy. She thinks Grandma Sutton might not be able to take care of herself after all.

Dear Elizabeth’s advice to Amy is to talk to her grandmother about seeing a psychiatrist. Amy brings up the topic, but Grandma Sutton is offended. Amy’s parents are dismayed when they hear about the conversation – Amy should have come to them instead of suggesting that her grandmother is having mental problems. Eventually Amy tells her grandmother that she’s concerned about her behavior, and Grandma Sutton admits that she just didn’t go to the store or pharmacy because she didn’t know how to get around Sweet Valley, and she didn’t want to ask for help. Sigh. Has she never heard of a cab?

Thoughts: I’m with Amy – Elizabeth didn’t do anything wrong. Her advice was fine, if a little naïve at times. Her job is to give it; she’s not responsible for what happens as a result.

Maria’s outfit for the party may be the most ’90s of any outfit in any series I’ve covered: a sunflower-print dress, a denim vest, and sandals with rope soles. I hop there’s a Blossom-type hat that goes with it.

Sadly, Denny’s dog probably ends up dead, since Janet feeds it a chocolate chip cookie.

August 26, 2017

The X-Files, Fight the Future: Bee Movie

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

Not the best picture of Mulder and Scully, really

Summary: Mulder and Scully have made it to the big screen! But first, we take a trip to Texas in 35,000 B.C. Two cavemen hear a screeching noise while checking out a cave. One finds another caveman trapped in something that looks like amber, then gets attacked by an alien. The second caveman finds his buddy dead and goes looking for his attacker. He comes across the alien, which attacks him as well. The caveman has a weapon and stabs the alien, which bleeds black oil that infects the caveman.

In the present (judging by the fact that the cavemen didn’t have jean shorts), a kid named Stevie falls into the same cave after digging around in the dirt with some friends. He finds a skull, then sees black oil seeping out of the ground. It crawls up his legs and under his skin. His friends ditch him and run home. Sometime later, firefighters arrive and one goes into the cave to get Stevie. His captain loses contact with him, which can’t be a good sign.

Next a team in Hazmat suits shows up and gets the civilians off the scene. They take the boy away in a sealed container, transporting him by helicopter. Some big trucks drive in, and Bronschweig, the man in charge of securing the scene, calls someone to report that the impossible scenario they didn’t bother to plan for now needs some sort of plan.

A week later, an FBI agent named Michaud is helicoptered to a roof near Dallas’ Federal Building, where he instructs other agents to make absolutely sure there’s no explosive device inside. Scully’s also on a building roof, letting Mulder know via phone (“Mulder, it’s me”) that no bomb has been found, despite a threat being called in. She uses, like 100 words to talk about how they need to follow the rules but still might not find a bomb. Anyway, Mulder’s there now, talking about hunches and expecting the unexpected.

Scully warns that Mulder needs to stop thinking unconventionally like he did when they were working X-files. He can’t be looking for things that aren’t there. Mulder jokes that they should call in a bomb threat in Houston so they can go to a game at the Astrodome. Scully tries to open the door letting them off the roof, telling Mulder it’s locked – “so much for anticipating the unforeseen.” She’s just messing with him. “I had you,” she gloats.

In the lobby, Scully continues teasing Mulder, saying she saw panic on his face. He claims she’s never seen him panic. He heads off to buy them sodas from a break room, but the machine doesn’t work. I guess he didn’t anticipate that unforeseen complication either. Mulder sees that the machine is unplugged, which gives him an idea. Unable to get out of the room (the door really is locked), he calls Scully in the lobby and lets her know he found the bomb in the machine.

With just under 14 minutes left on the timer, Mulder tells Scully to evacuate the building. She immediately gives orders to the people workers there, then calls Michaud to tell him he’s looking in the wrong place. Michaud and his agents hurry over to save Mulder (taking their sweet time – the counter’s below five minutes now). Scully calls and Mulder tells her he’s now making his not-panicking panicked face.

Michaud cuts through the door and the agents study the bomb. He says he can defuse it, but he wants everyone to leave. Mulder hesitates to leave him behind, but Scully makes him go with her. Instead of working on the bomb, Michaud sits and watches the timer count down. Mulder realizes that something’s wrong and turns back to the building. Scully insists that he head off to safety with her, and they drive away as the bomb explodes. “Next time, you’re buying,” Mulder tells Scully, because even though a man just died, he wouldn’t be Mulder if he didn’t make jokes.

The agents go back to D.C. and attend a review led by an agent named Cassidy. (Mulder’s late.) She tells them that five people died, including a young boy and three firemen. Mulder’s surprised to hear that the firemen were in the building – the agents were told that the building had been evacuated. Cassidy sends him away so she can question Scully first.

Mulder anxiously eats sunflower seeds until Skinner leaves the review to talk to him. He says Cassidy wants to know why Scully wasn’t in the right building. Mulder says she was with him. Skinner says that the city of Dallas sustained $45 million of damage, then that people are dead, as if the money is the more important thing. There also haven’t been any arrests, so the FBI is being scrutinized. Where did they screw up? Who will they be blaming?

Mulder’s willing to take the blame since he didn’t follow protocol. He feels horrible that he left Michaud alone with the bomb. But Scully also wants to take responsibility. She sends Skinner back into the review, then tells Mulder that the two of them are being given separate assignments. Scully hasn’t made a difference in the FBI, and she’s not going to be happy if she’s transferred to a field office somewhere. She wonders if Mulder’s heart is still in the work.

After the review is over, Mulder goes to a bar and gets hammered. He tells the bartender that he’s in charge of investigating aliens, but no one believes him when he tells them what he’s found out. They think he’s just running around, screaming that the sky is falling, but when it really happens, it’s going to be horrible. The bartender decides it’s time to cut him off. As he leaves, Mulder realizes that a man who was watching him has already left.

He goes to use the bathroom but finds an out-of-order sign on the door, so he does his business in an alley. The man from the bar approaches him and asks if the FBI is accusing him of screwing things up in Dallas. The man, Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil, has been watching Mulder since he started at the FBI. He also knew Bill and says that, back when they worked together, they could have been called “fellow travelers.” Mulder wonders if Kurtzweil is a reporter. Kurtzweil says he’s an OB/GYN and knows something about the bombing that Mulder hasn’t been told.

Mulder says Kurtzweil can talk until Mulder hails a cab. Kurtzweil tells him that Michaud never tried to defuse the bomb. He also knows that the bomb was put in that building, not the Federal Building, because FEMA had a quarantine office there. The four supposed victims, other than Michaud, were dead before the bomb exploded. Mulder scoffs at the idea that Michaud didn’t try to stop the bomb, but Kurtzweil knows that the bomb was detonated so people could hide something – possibly something they couldn’t predict.

Mulder still thinks Kurtzweil is nuts, so he leaves him there on the street outside the bar. He starts to go home, then decides to go to Georgetown to see Scully, even though it’s 3 in the morning. She wonders if he got drunk before or after he decided to come see her. Mulder makes her get dressed so he can take her somewhere.

Back in Texas, the site around the cave has been turned into a research facility. CSM arrives to see what Bronschweig and his team have found. He thinks the fireman’s arrival raised the body temperature of someone already in the cave. That someone is the amberfied caveman, who is basically alive because of the black oil, though he’ll never recover from the infection. CSM wants to use the vaccine/cure on him; if it’s unsuccessful, they’ll burn his body “like the others.”

Mulder takes Scully to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where they’re told they can’t access the morgue. Mulder bluffs their way in, pretending they were summoned by the same general who has declared the morgue off-limits. The agents find the body of one of the firemen, which has something sticky all over it. Scully diagnoses a cellular breakdown of his tissue. She can also see that, despite what they were told, the body hasn’t been autopsied yet, so the report stating his cause of death as injuries from the explosion is false. Scully says she’s not sure anyone could determine a cause of death.

She realizes that there must be some sort of cover-up happening. Mulder says he has a hunch that whatever Scully finds from an autopsy, it won’t be something they can explain. But he’s being blamed for Michaud’s death, so he’d like to know what killed him. He knows Scully would feel the same if she were in his position.

While Scully gets to work, Mulder goes to Kurtzweil’s house, which is being searched by the police. A detective tells Mulder that Kurtzweil is being investigated for child pornography. Mulder finds books on Kurtzweil’s shelf about the apocalypse and tells the police not to bother letting him know if they find the doctor. As Mulder leaves, he spots Kurtzweil, who says the investigation is an attempt to discredit him. He claims that FEMA, which is super-powerful, wouldn’t normally be involved in the investigation of whatever’s going on in Texas. It must be bigger than they’re letting on.

Kurtzweil continues that he and Bill once looked into a case involving biological warfare. He thinks now they’re looking at “a plague to end all plagues.” For 50 years, the government has been working on a planned Armageddon. FEMA will end up in charge. Mulder thinks Kurtzweil is even more paranoid than he is. Kurtzweil warns that if he doesn’t go back to Texas, he’ll be as in the dark as everyone else in the country, and by the time he catches on, it’ll be too late.

Scully autopsies Michaud, finding something crystallized inside his body. She’s able to hide in another room before guards can see her. Mulder calls (“Scully, it’s me”) and she tells him that Michaud was infected with something. He wants them both to go to Texas, though Scully has to go back to the review hearing the next day. As they’re talking, Scully hears the guards approaching and has to hang up so she can hide again.

Mulder goes to Texas alone and learns that FEMA found some bone fragments from an archaeological site. Scully joins her partner and tells him that the infection she found in the fireman’s body could lead to a major health threat. Mulder has Scully look at the bone fragments, even though they weren’t found near the explosion site. Scully’s stunned by what she sees under the microscope.

At the cave site, Bronschweig prepares to administer the vaccine/cure to the amberfied body. However, he realizes that “it’s” left the body, which means it’s gestated. “So much for little green men,” he says. Bronschweig decides to use the vaccine/cure on the now-sentient black oil, which looks like an alien, but it attacks him before he can. Bronschweig begs his crew for help, but they’re not about to let him come out of the cave and risk spreading the infection.

WMM is enjoying tea in England when he gets a phone call alerting him to “a situation.” CSM has arranged a meeting in London, as ordered by someone named Strughold. WMM meets up with the rest of the Syndicate there, and Strughold tells them that they need to reassess their role in colonization. The Elder clarifies: “The virus has mutated.” They’re now dealing with a new alien biological entity.

WMM says this is spontaneous repopulation, not colonization. This means they’ve been used and lied to this whole time. Strughold says they’re going to turn over a body infected by the new entity and tell “them” what the Syndicate has found. WMM thinks this will ruin them, but Strughold says it’ll buy them time to work on the vaccine/cure. CSM reveals that Mulder saw one of the infected bodies, which means someone tipped him off, probably Kurtzweil.

Though Kurtzweil is a kook and no one will believe him, at least according to WMM, the others know that they need to remove him from the equation. They also need to take out Mulder. WMM points out that that will just make him a martyr for his cause. Strughold says that, in that case, they need to take away “what he holds most valuable – that with which he can’t live without” [sic, ugh].

Mulder and Scully go to the cave site, but all traces of the investigation have been removed. Mulder sees that the grass at a nearby playground has recently been laid, and Scully can tell that the equipment is new. Stevie’s friends approach but won’t answer the agents’ questions about the playground or their new bikes. They also don’t believe that Mulder and Scully are FBI agents, since they look like door-to-door salesmen. When Mulder flashes his badge, one of the boys tells him that the crew left an hour ago.

The agents follow their trail, wondering what they’re transporting in their unmarked tanker trucks. They can’t decide which direction the crew went, left or right, so Mulder drives straight onto a dirt road. He boasts that he’s never been wrong in the five years he and Scully have worked together – “not driving, anyway.” The agents end up in the middle of nowhere, and Scully regrets coming to Texas in the first place. She doubts that the crew is hauling a virus in the tanker trucks. Mulder finally tells Scully that the virus might be extraterrestrial.

A train comes by, giving Mulder an idea. Well, really, two ideas, one of which is to follow the train. The end up at a site that looks like the one set up during the cave investigation. Scully wonders why there’s a cornfield around it, since they’re in the desert. They go inside a domed building, which Scully thinks is a venting system on top of a larger facility. There’s humming below them and catwalks above. Someone has definitely figured out they’re there, and the response is to release hundreds of bees.

The agents run for it, managing to escape without getting stung. They see lights approaching and realize they’re being pursued by helicopters. They run back through the cornfield, crouching down at one point to avoid detection. They get separated, so Mulder gets to run through the corn, yelling, “SCULLAY!” They both make it out of the cornfield, realizing that the helicopters have disappeared.

Scully makes it back to D.C. for the hearing, where she presents the bone fragments. Meanwhile, Mulder meets with Kurtzweil and tells him about the tanker trucks. Scully tells the hearing panel that Michaud may be involved in whatever’s going on. Mulder tells Kurtzweil about the bees and corn. As Cassidy questions Scully about the investigation, a bee crawls around Scully’s back. She admits that she’s working with Mulder again.

Kurtzweil and Mulder think that the corn is a way of carrying a virus contained in altered pollen. Mulder’s annoyed that Kurtzweil doesn’t have any answers; he doesn’t think Kurtzweil even knew Bill. In fact, he suspects that Kurtzweil has been using Mulder to get information. Kurtzweil points out that Mulder wouldn’t have known where to look without his help. He thinks there’s a reason Mulder and Scully were allowed to leave Texas alive. As Kurtzweil leaves, Mulder realizes that someone was listening to their conversation.

He goes home and looks through a photo album, seeing Kurtzweil in an old picture. Scully arrives and announces that she’s being transferred to Salt Lake City. She’s not willing to make the move, so she’s resigned. Mulder tells her she can’t quit now – they’re close to finding something. Scully asks him not to drag her into something crazy yet again. She’s ready to walk away. Mulder says he needs her, but she disagrees – she’s only ever held him back.

Mulder goes after Scully to argue that she can’t resign with a clear conscience. She reminds him that she was brought in as his partner to debunk his work. Mulder says that she really saved him with her science and reason. “You kept me honest,” he says. “You made me a whole person.” He owes her everything but she owes him nothing. Mulder isn’t sure he wants to move forward alone, or if he can, but he knows that if he quits, the bad guys win.

The two give each other meaningful looks for a while, then hug for an even longer while. She kisses his forehead, and after some more meaningful looking, Mulder moves in for a real kiss. But that STUPID FREAKING BEE interrupts them by stinging Scully. Mulder says it must have gotten in her shirt (unlike him, who won’t get into her shirt for another season or so). Scully immediately starts feeling like something’s wrong; it’s like she’s having an allergic reaction without having a bee allergy.

Mulder calls paramedics and tells them that they may be dealing with a virus. Instead of telling Mulder which hospital Scully’s being taken to, the paramedic driving the ambulance shoots him through the window. Moments later, an ambulance presumably carrying real paramedics arrives. Meanwhile, Scully’s taken to a plane, where CSM is ready to take her somewhere else.

Mulder wakes up in the hospital with the Lone Gunmen standing over him. He calls them the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and Toto. They tell him the bullet only grazed him, but he’s been unconscious for a while. Mulder wants to go look for Scully, but Skinner comes in and stops him, noting that the bad guys will never let him find her. Mulder suggests that he and Byers trade places, which fools the person watching his room, allowing him to leave the hospital undetected.

WMM tracks down Kurtzweil and corners him in the alley behind the bar where he and Mulder keep meeting. When Mulder arrives, he finds only WMM and another Syndicate man in the alley. They tell him that Kurtzweil has already come and gone. WMM invites him into his car so they can discuss a way to save Scully. He gives Mulder a vaccine/cure that he has to administer within 96 hours, and the coordinates where he can find his partner.

WMM admits that the virus is extraterrestrial, and though they don’t know much about it, it was the original inhabitant of the planet. He waxes poetic about a virus being a “colonizing force” that can’t be defeated. It lives underground until it mutates and attacks. Mulder can’t believe that the Syndicate has been working to conceal a virus this whole time. WMM says he has it all backwards – today’s deadliest viruses are “newborns.” The one they’re dealing with now has been around longer than humans.

Aliens sent the viruses here centuries ago, and they’ve been waiting to be awoken. Humans will be the hosts. The vaccine/cure is humanity’s only defense. Bill was one of the people trying to conceal the truth. Without the vaccine/cure, humans will become slaves to aliens. Now the virus is gestating, and it’s time to fight. WMM only wants the truth out now because he wants to protect his family. He knows he’ll be killed for telling Mulder everything.

Mulder asks where Kurtzweil is, but WMM won’t tell him. Mulder demands to be let out of the car, so they take him back to the alley. WMM warns that the Syndicate will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals. They ordered WMM to kill Kurtzweil, and now he’s supposed to kill Mulder. Instead, he kills his driver and tells Mulder to “trust no one.” WMM tells Mulder that the alien colonists don’t know about the vaccine/cure yet. If he can find Scully, he’ll understand how huge the project they’ve been working on for 50 years is. Mulder leaves, and WMM gets back in the car, which immediately explodes.

48 hours later, Mulder’s in Antarctica, on the hunt for Scully. The coordinates WMM gave him have led him to a spot near yet another investigation site. As he’s approaching, he falls through the snow into a tunnel. There’s a hole leading deeper underground that eventually takes Mulder to a cave containing frozen bodies, at least one of which is an alien. CSM arrives at the site and sees that he has a visitor. Mulder goes through a tunnel into a cavern filled with frozen bodies.

Using binoculars, Mulder is able to spot a container he figures is Scully’s. He slips on his way down and almost falls into the bottomless pit that the cavern leads to. He manages to grab on to something and make his way to Scully’s container, but only her cross necklace is inside. He checks out the rows of bodies and finds her frozen. As guards move in to intercept him, Mulder frees Scully from the ice and administers the vaccine/cure. It works immediately, pulling the virus from her into the cave’s weird life-sustaining system, but he can’t finish disconnecting her from the system before the cave starts to quake.

Someone tells CSM that there’s a contaminant in the system. CSM realizes that Mulder has the vaccine/cure. Mulder finishes freeing Scully as the facility’s apparent self-destruct system goes into effect. CSM orders everyone to abandon the facility, predicting that Mulder and Scully won’t make it out alive. Mulder takes his partner back the way he came in as all the frozen bodies start thawing. One of the aliens is really ticked about being trapped in ice.

Scully stops breathing, and Mulder has to put her down to revive her. “I had you big-time,” she teases. The trapped bodies start trying to break free of their frozen prisons, and somehow steam is released. The agents are able to get out just before an alien can get a good hold of Mulder and pull him back inside. They climb back to the surface as the ice around them starts to break and the whole facility collapses in on itself.

The agents can’t outrun the deepening pit, but something rising out of the ground pushes them back up, saving them. It’s a giant UFO. Mulder isn’t sure Scully sees it before it’s gone, but she assures him she saw it. He’s exhausted, so she cradles him in her arms, right at the edge of a gigantic ice canyon.

Back in D.C., Cassidy addresses Scully and Skinner as someone steals the bone fragments. Cassidy says that Scully’s report is implausible, and nothing in it really points to domestic terrorism. The bone fragments end up in a tanker truck supposedly transporting corn oil. The corn in Texas is set on fire. Scully gives Cassidy the bee that stung her and says that she doesn’t think the FBI currently has a devision that’s equipped to continue the investigation.

Mulder reads a news article about the hanta virus being contained in Texas. Scully joins him and he complains that the truth is once again being buried. Scully says she told the whole story, but Mulder knows it won’t make a difference. They’ve been here before, right next to the truth, and once again, they’re being knocked back to the beginning. Scully was right to want to quit. She’d be safer away from him, working as a doctor. Scully refuses, saying her work is with him. There’s a cure for the virus she was exposed to; they could save other people. She takes his hand and repeats what he said about the bad guys winning if she quits now.

In the desert of Tunisia, a helicopter delivers CSM to a cornfield. He tells a man that Mulder has seen more than he should, and now he’s determined to uncover the truth. The other man says that Mulder’s just one man, and “one man alone cannot fight the future.” CSM hands over a note he received, which the other man reads, then drops in the sand. It’s a telegram announcing that the X-files division has been reopened.

Thoughts: This movie features a cavalcade of stars:

  • Kurtzweil is played by the recently deceased Martin Landau.
  • Michaud is played by Terry O’Quinn, in his second role in the series.
  • Cassidy is played by Blythe Danner, who I love, and who should have had a bigger role, and who better be in the Will and Grace revival.
  • Strughold is played by Armin Mueller-Stahl.
  • She’s uncredited, for some reason, but the bartender Mulder mopes to is played by the also recently deceased Glenne Headly.

Once again, thanks, writers, for names like Kurtzweil and Bronschweig that I had to type over and over. We need more Smiths, Lees, and Kims on this show.

Whoever wrote the line “that with which he can’t live without,” your third-grade English teacher is weeping somewhere.

Aww, ‘bye, WMM. You were the only bearable part of the Syndicate.

August 22, 2017

SVT #102, The Mysterious Dr. Q: As Usual, Bruce Screws Everything Up

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:15 pm by Jenn

I hope Jess hypnotizes Liz into developing a better fashion sense

Summary: Jessica’s excited because a hypnotist is coming to SVMS for an assembly. Elizabeth will be writing a story for The Sixers debunking hypnotism. Meanwhile, Bruce urges Todd to ask her out after Todd admits that he has a crush on her. Also meanwhile, Amy’s mom is doing a news story on female pilots and gives Amy the opportunity to interview a pilot’s daughter. Amy’s thrilled until she learns that the interviews will take place on a helicopter – she’s scared of flying. To her credit, she decides to suck it up and face her fears.

At school, Todd writes Elizabeth a note asking her to a movie. She’s thrilled and immediately finds him and accepts. Everyone goes to the assembly, where the hypnotist, Dr. Q, brings the twins and some other kids on stage for a demonstration. Elizabeth plays along with the hypnosis and wonders if the other volunteers are faking as well, or if Dr. Q really hypnotized them.

Since Lila didn’t get chosen, Jessica suggests that she hypnotize her. She thinks she knows how to do it since she’s seen it done. Yes, and since I’ve watched multiple episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and ER, I’m confident that I could remove a ruptured spleen if necessary. Jess tries it out, but it doesn’t work. Wow, what a surprise! Amy’s also disappointed not to be picked, since she was hoping to have Dr. Q hypnotize her to overcome her fear of flying. Throughout the book, Amy is the only person who truly grasps the point of hypnotism.

Bruce asks Elizabeth to a movie, and, of course, she turns him down. She goes to interview Dr. Q for The Sixers, and Amy and Jessica crash the meeting, Jess so she can learn about hypnosis and Amy so she can be hypnotized. Dr. Q warns Jessica that she shouldn’t mess around with hypnosis. She explains the practice to Elizabeth, who still thinks it’s a scam.

Jessica decides to prove Liz wrong by hypnotizing her and some of their friends – Lila, Amy, Janet, and Bruce. Bruce disrupts the process by listening to a baseball game and talking out loud about the Twins and certain plays. Jess tries to ignore him as she hypnotizes Janet and Amy to overcome their fear of spiders, and makes Lila quack whenever she sees the principal, Mr. Clark. As she’s trying to hypnotize Elizabeth into adoring her, someone yells at Bruce.

Thanks to the distractions and Bruce’s comments about the game, Amy and Janet end up thinking they’re identical twins, Elizabeth falls in love with Bruce, and Lila starts calling the principal Mr. Quack. Jessica’s thrilled. Todd, not so much – now Elizabeth wants to go to a movie with Bruce instead. Todd gets Jess to go to the movie with him so they can spy on the new couple. They end up getting kicked out when Todd dumps food on Bruce just as he’s about to kiss Liz.

Amy and Janet are suddenly BFFs, constantly talking about how much they love being twins and the awesome parts of their shared childhood. I don’t know how that’s possible, since it’s not like Jessica planted false memories in them, but okay. Lila and Jessica both get in trouble when Lila keeps quacking at Mr. Clark. Elizabeth isn’t sure why she’s suddenly into Bruce, or why she even wants to hang out with him, but she just goes with it.

Jessica realizes that everything’s backfired and she needs to fix it. She calls Dr. Q and begs for her help, then gathers everyone for another hypnosis session. This time Steven’s watching baseball, and the game again interferes with Jessica’s efforts. Everyone hears her yelling at Steven to turn the volume back to normal, then telling him to forget all about baseball. When her hypnosis subjects awaken, they’re back to their usual selves, but they don’t know what baseball is.

Dr. Q arrives and saves the day. She restores everyone’s memories of baseball and hypnotizes Amy to not be afraid of flying. Elizabeth is now over Bruce (and even dumps a milkshake on him to prove it) and back with Todd. Janet and Amy hate each other again. And Amy’s able to do her interview without any fear. Thanks, Dr. Q! Sorry Jessica is such an idiot!

Thoughts: Who approved an assembly with a hypnotist? No parents had objections?

Todd gets 5 points for deciding that “cad” is the best word to describe Bruce, but he loses them for shouting at him that he hopes Liz turns into a pumpkin, which makes no sense.

Ellen, to Amy and Janet when they won’t shut up about being twins: “Hey, guys, like, nobody cares.” Turns out Ellen’s good for something after all.

I wish it had turned out that no one was really hypnotized and everyone was just messing with Jessica.

August 19, 2017

The X-Files 5.20, The End: Checkmate?

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:53 pm by Jenn

“I’d rather be watching ‘Bob’s Burgers'”

Summary: There’s a chess tournament going on in Vancouver, and a man from Russia is playing a preteen boy from the U.S. There’s a huge audience, so apparently this is a big deal. (Maybe people in Vancouver need to find more things to do.) The boy hears voices in his head as he plays, apparently the thoughts of all the people in the audience. One voice is particularly loud, and may belong to a man who’s loading a sniper rifle. He takes aim at the boy’s opponent, then the boy. As the boy stands up and makes his last move, declaring checkmate, his opponent is shot.

A couple of men drop onto a mountain in Quebec via parachutes and try to ambush the cabin where CSM has been staying. CSM’s security system warns him and he’s able to shoot one of the men before he can be shot. The other man starts to head into the house but sees CSM’s footprints heading into some nearby woods. After a brief chase, the second gunman stops CSM. He takes off his mask to reveal that he’s Krycek. CSM tells him to go ahead and shoot, but Krycek says he was sent to bring CSM back.

A note reading “you are here” has been placed on the UFO in Mulder’s “I want to believe poster.” Skinner is in the office waiting for Mulder; he claims it’s so they can discuss Mulder’s long-term plans. What does he hope to find? Mulder says whatever he’s looking for is in the X-files, and he’ll know when he finds it. Skinner’s really there to tell Mulder about the assassination of the Russian chess player. The shooter used to work for the NSA. Jeffrey Spender is in charge of the case, having been assigned by someone outside of the bureau, and he wants Mulder to work with him.

Mulder heads to a meeting Spender’s running, with Scully already in attendance. Mulder watches footage of the shooting and announces that the boy, not the Russian, seems to be the target. Another agent in the room agrees with Mulder – she thinks the boy was able to precognitively sense that the shooter was aiming for him. Mulder and the agent exchange a look that lets us know this isn’t the first time they’ve met.

Krycek delivers CSM to WMM, the Elder, and some other Syndicate members. He’s all “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated; your assassin sucks; I’ll let it go THIS TIME.” The Syndicate tells him about the death of the Russian, mentioning that the boy is “a problem.” CSM asks, not serious, if they want him to kill the boy. They’re horrified by the suggestion and say that CSM knows what they want him to do. They’re sure he shares their intentions.

Mulder and Scully drive somewhere with the agent from the meeting, Diana Fowley. She’s been out of the country for a while and asked to be reassigned so she could attend to some things in the U.S. Scully notes that Fowley’s been in the FBI since 1991, the same time Mulder started working on the X-files. Yeah, that sure is a coincidence, Scully!

The boy is watching The Simpsons when the agents arrive to talk to him. He’s happy to be in a country with good TV; he lives in the Philippines and all they have on TV is Baywatch. The boy, Gibson, is being kept there until his parents come get him. Mulder wants to see if Gibson can beat a chess computer he’s brought, guessing that he can’t. He’s figured out that Gibson’s so good at the game because he can read his opponents’ thoughts. That’s why he knew there was a shooter.

Gibson confirms Mulder’s suspicions by saying that Mulder’s thinking about one of the agents he brought with him. One of them is thinking about him, too. (Yeah, like they both aren’t.) Fowley asks which one, but Gibson says that Mulder doesn’t want him to answer that. Mulder tells Scully that, despite Gibson’s status as a prodigy, he’s not actually that good at chess. Scully disagrees – no one has passed all the rigorous testing required of someone who claims to be psychic. Mulder thinks Gibson’s skills are exactly why he was marked for murder.

Scully notes that people would want to use Gibson’s skills, not eliminate them. His psychic abilities would give them advantages in things like war and business. Fowley points out that he could also reveal lots of secrets that people want to stay hidden. Mulder suggests that they test him and run a brain scan. He tells Fowley that she knows what to do. Scully finally catches on that the two of them know each other.

Mulder goes to see the shooter in jail, but Spender doesn’t want to let them talk. Mulder thinks Spender’s trying to protect something and is sending the agents on a wild goose chase. He’s sure that Gibson is the key to the incident, and the shooter knows why. The shooter, however, isn’t very forthcoming, thanks to Spender’s refusal to give him food or water for the past 16 hours.

Mulder sends Spender to get them while he lists the shooter’s credentials and notes that he also failed to kill Saddam Hussein during a raid on his palace. Mulder threatens to tell Spender that the shooter knows Gibson reads minds. The shooter is still unwilling to help, since he doesn’t think Mulder can get him immunity or placement in the Witness Protection Program. Mulder tells him to think about it, then leaves.

Gibson has undergone the testing at a psychiatric hospital, and he tells Scully he knows that she’s wondering about Fowley. Fowley’s wondering about Scully as well. Gibson goes to his next test, a variation on the Zener cards. He guesses all of them correctly. Fowley tells Scully that she’s seen clairvoyants with more than 90 percent accuracy, but never anything like this. She mentions working with Mulder on cases involving criminal psych patients who may have been misdiagnosed. Scully excuses herself.

In prison, the shooter receives a note reading “you’re a dead man.” It’s written on the inside of a flattened Morley cigarette carton. Scully goes to the Lone Gunmen’s lair and asks them to look at Gibson’s brain scans. She also wants them to tell her about Fowley. They’re familiar with her because she was “Mulder’s chickadee” right after he left the academy. She was there at the inception of the X-files. Byers says he’s always wondered why they split up.

Gibson watches cartoons while Mulder and Fowley discuss his excellent scores on all the tests. Mulder thinks they’re missing something, though. Fowley praises him for figuring out what was going on from the footage from the tournament. Mulder says he’s been working on this kind of stuff for five years. Fowley says she sometimes wonders how things might have turned out if she’s stayed instead of moving to counter-terrorism. She thinks he could have benefited from having a partner who thinks like him, and not a skeptic.

Mulder defends Scully, saying she makes him work for his successes. He’s “done okay” without Fowley. She assures him that she’s on his side. Scully’s about to join them when she sees them having an intimate conversation, so instead she goes to her car to pout. She calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”) and asks him to meet her at the office to go over something she’s found out about Gibson.

As she’s leaving the parking garage, Spender arrives and is quickly summoned to talk to CSM. Spender doesn’t know who CSM works for, which means he’s even more out of his league than anyone thought. CSM tells him he needs to control the board and know who to sacrifice and when. He can’t join up with someone else’s cause – he needs to always pursue his own self-interest. As CSM leaves, Mulder comes into the garage and sees them talking. He’s surprised that CSM isn’t dead after all.

Mulder takes Scully to a meeting in Skinner’s office and urges her to tell him and other agents there about Gibson’s test results. Neurological tests show that Gibson uses an area of his temporal lobe – called the “God nodule” by neuroscientists – that no one else uses. Mulder says that famous scientists like Einstein, Newton, and Stephen Hawking are also believed to use portions of the brain that no one else does. Gibson may be the key to understanding human potential, paranormal phenomenon…and everything in the X-files.

Spender scoffs at the idea that Gibson was a target for murder because of the X-files. Mulder can’t make the connection completely, but he thinks the shooter can. He wants them to offer the shooter immunity so he’ll talk. Scully says they’re trying to quantify proof of everything she and Mulder have been investigating. Fowley argues that they can’t quantify spirituality. The X-files are basically an indulgence; their higher-ups are never going to allow them to offer an immunity deal for this kind of investigation.

Skinner dismisses everyone but Mulder, then warns him that he’s taking a huge risk with his future career. Mulder thinks things will fit together, and he’ll get the answers he’s spent so long looking for. He gets Skinner to talk to the Attorney General, who agrees to offer the shooter immunity. The shooter tells Mulder and Spender that Gibson is a “missing link” – genetic proof that a person can be more human than human. Gibson appears to have genes that indicate he’s part alien.

On a street somewhere, WMM and Krycek confront CSM for failing to do what he was supposed to. CSM says that Mulder going to the Attorney General is just “part of the game.” They’re taking the other side’s pieces one by one; eventually the board will be cleared.

Scully accompanies Gibson to a safehouse, where he enjoys an episode of King of the Hill. (How interesting that everything he watches is on Fox! I wonder why?) Scully asks him how he does what he does. Gibson says it’s like listening to multiple radios. Part of the reason he likes chess is because he only has to listen to one “radio” at a time. Plus, there’s no talking, so no one’s saying one thing and thinking something else. He says that sometimes people worry about what others are thinking, while those others worry about the same thing.

Gibson continues that people make up things to believe, but it’s not real. Some people try to be good while others don’t care, like Scully. He clarifies that he means Scully doesn’t care what people think, “except for her.” Fowley comes by to stay with Gibson so Scully can go home. Gibson announces that he knows people want him dead. Scully promises to protect him. In prison, the shooter gets another cigarette box, but this one has no message. The man delivering the message shoots him.

Back at the safehouse, Fowley awakens from a nap to find Gibson at the window. He tells her there’s a man with a gun outside, but he’s there to kill her, not him. He’s right, and someone shoots Fowley through the window. She’s alive, barely, but a U.S. marshal is dead. Skinner tells Mulder and Scully that the shooter is dead, and they found the blank cigarette note. Gibson’s whereabouts are unknown.

CSM has grabbed Gibson and taken him to meet WMM. WMM tries to convince Gibson that he has nothing to be afraid of, but Gibson knows he’s a liar like CSM is. WMM tells CSM his work is done, but CSM says it’s just beginning. He hands over the boy, who gets in the car with WMM and Krycek. Krycek offers to kill CSM, but WMM says he’s useful, and Krycek might need him in the future.

As Spender organizes a search for Gibson, Mulder attacks him, demanding to know who Spender really works for. He vows to see Spender prosecuted, warning that his days are numbered. Spender says Mulder’s the one whose days are numbered.

Scully and Skinner talk on the phone about the developments in the case, and how Spender is saying things that make both agents look bad. Scully tells Mulder that Fowley isn’t doing well, and their jobs aren’t lookng much better. The Department of Justice wants the X-files to be closed down. Mulder laments that everything has been part of a strategy he couldn’t see. Scully admits that the bad guys may have finally won.

CSM lights a cigarette in Mulder’s office, then leaves with Samantha’s X-file. On his way out, he runs into Spender, who asks how he got in. CSM says he has access and can give it to Spender. Spender asks who he is. “I’m your father,” CSM replies. (Well, it’s no “Luke, I am your father”). A smoke alarm sounds – Mulder’s office is on fire. When he and Scully go in to check it out, they see that everything has been destroyed, including the “I want to believe” poster.

Thoughts: Gibson looks like a mini-Frohike. I hope that’s on purpose.

I can’t believe I have to put up with this Scully/Fowley jealousy crap. Frigging male showrunners and writers.

Gibson is present for a murder and his parents don’t immediately rush out to get him? Why weren’t they with him anyway? Does he have a guardian? No one seems worried about him. Scully, adopt him, please.

How do you like your new role as Syndicate chauffeur, Krycek? Do you feel like you’ve made good choices to get you to this place?

That’s a wrap on season 5! I’m excited for some fun episodes coming in season 6.

August 15, 2017

SVT #101, Twins in Love: Putting the “Dude” in Dude Ranch

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

Purple jeans, everyone. Purple. Jeans

Summary: The Wakefields are going on vacation to a dude ranch. Has anyone ever been to a dude ranch in real life? All my knowledge of them comes from books and Hey Dude. Hilariously, the ranch is called the Triple Z, but no one ever makes the obvious comment that that means ZZZ, as in snoring. The owners should have run that by a marketing team. Anyway, Elizabeth is excited to ride horses, while Jessica is excited to…I was going to say ride boys, but this is Sweet Valley. She wants to find a cute guy and get a peck on the cheek.

When the Wakefields arrive at the ranch, everyone makes a big deal out of the fact that the girls are twins. I can imagine that that gets old really fast for identical twins. The family gets right to horseback-riding, and Jessica gets right to boy-watching. Elizabeth is, surprisingly, the twin who meets a cute guy first, but Jess follows shortly after. They soon realize that they’ve fallen for the same guy. They fight about it, then decide to let the guy pick which one of them he likes more. (Please note that at this point, neither of them even knows the guy’s name.)

The twins both run into their dream guy, Nick, and basically have a shoving match right in front of him. Nick does not immediately peace out and avoid them for the rest of his vacation. Instead, he introduces them to his brother Chris. His identical twin brother. In fact, the girls didn’t even fall for the same guy at the same time – Jess fell for Chris and Liz fell for Nick.

The two sets of twins go riding together, and both pairs hit it off. We learn that the boys always wear different brands of shoes, and Chris is right-handed while Nick is left-handed. The new lovebirds all have dinner together. Elizabeth tells them that she and Jess can be told apart by different hairstyles and the fact that Liz wears a watch while Jess doesn’t. Jess snarks that, in addition, she has fashion sense while Liz doesn’t. (This reminds me of The Parent Trap: “I have class and you don’t.”)

As dinner progresses, the girls start to think they’ve fallen for the wrong guys. For instance, Nick keeps doing a Jim Carrey impression. Liz, I feel your pain. The girls separately wonder if they should swap guys. The next day, when Jessica encounters Nick, she tells him she’s Elizabeth. Liz does the same with Chris, then flips out when she learns that Jess impersonated her. Then the girls realize the situation is actually kind of funny, and they agree to pull a twin switch with the guys.

On the kids’ next double date, the girls aren’t any more interested in their new guys than they were in their old ones. Liz sees Chris – or the guy she thinks is Chris – waving with his left hand and thinks that the boys also pulled a twin switch. The girls switch back to themselves, but the guys seem to also switch back as well. The girls keep running to the bathroom to switch outfits, eventually ending up wearing the wrong shoes, though the guys don’t seem to notice.

For their next double date, Jess suggests that she and Liz dress the same to make switching easier. This works well enough to fool Alice, which doesn’t surprise me at all. A problem arises when the girls go on a ride and are given each other’s horses. Liz’s horse isn’t a big Jessica fan and ends up throwing her off. The guys figure out that the girls lied to them and huff off, claiming they never pulled a switch. Which I guess just means that neither guy is that interesting and the girls shouldn’t be with them.

Before the Wakefields leave the ranch, the guys come to make up with the girls…and reveal that they did, in fact, switch. So their anger at the girls is unfounded, since they pulled the same stunt. But it turns out that the twins pulled one last swap for their final meeting. Too bad they’ve wound up with the guys they don’t like, so they didn’t really accomplish anything.

The B-plot is boring and dumb, though I guess that’s not much different from the rest of the book. Steven wants to win a horse race at the end of the week, so he asks to spend the week riding a horse named Rocket that used to compete in derbies. He realizes too late that Rocket hasn’t competed in a long time and is nowhere near as fast as she used to be. Steven decides not to bother with the race, but then Rocket gets stung by a bee and takes off, accidentally winning the race. The prize is a hat. Yeehaw.

Thoughts: The ghostwriter severely overestimates any preteen girl’s interest in any plotline involving Steven.

Chris slices his Jell-o into 16ths and eats it with a fork. I think that’s a sign that he’s a future serial killer.

Jessica’s favorite color is pink, not purple. What would Janet say??

Speaking of purple, I don’t buy that Elizabeth has purple jeans. Maybe I’m just in denial that purple jeans exist.

August 12, 2017

The X-Files 5.19, Folie à Deux: Kill My Boss? Do I Dare Live Out the American Dream?

Posted in TV tagged at 1:14 pm by Jenn

And you thought YOUR office’s team-building activities were torture!

Summary: In Oak Brook, Illinois, employees are diligently working in their cubicles, calling uninterested people who really don’t care about buying vinyl siding. One worker, Gary, hears insect noises but can’t find the source. He and a co-worker make fun of their boss, who thinks everyone needs to smile because their customers can hear it in their voices. On his next call, Gary hears the noises again, then sees what looks like the shadow of a giant bug outside the office. He’s able to continue reciting his script, but stops when a huge bug flits into the office. “It’s here,” he whispers to his customer.

Mulder and Scully meet with Skinner in his office and are assigned to go to the office to perform a “threat assessment.” The office received an anonymous taped manifesto threatening violence. Since there was an incident with a gunman in the office a few years ago, they know they need to take this seriously. Skinner wants Mulder and Scully to handle the case instead of anyone in the Chicago field office, since the manifesto talks about monsters. “Monsters. I’m your boy,” Mulder says.

As they leave, Mulder complains to Scully that he’s become the go-to guy for weird stuff. He doesn’t think Scully even needs to come to Chicago with him, since she’s not Monster Boy and the case probably isn’t for real. Mulder heads out to Illinois and hears the manifesto, in which Gary talks about a monster in the office that needs to be killed before it kills them. (The company doesn’t realize the voice is Gary’s, though.) Mulder asks about the incident with the gunman, which was at another location, and which a manager, Greg Pincus, thinks was over a woman.

Mulder calls Scully and asks her to check on the phrase “hiding in the light,” which Gary uses on the tape. Mulder thinks it came up in an old case. Scully isn’t looking forward to having to look through hundreds of case files for one phrase. Gary notices that Mulder just left Pincus’ office and wonders what’s going on. Moments later, Gary’s co-worker, Nancy, is called in to see Pincus. Gary tries to warn her not to do something, but she brushes him off. As she goes to talk to Pincus, Gary sees him turn into the giant bug.

Nancy screams from the office, but when Gary tries to check on her, his boss sends him back to work. Nancy leaves Pincus’ office looking and acting like a zombie, at least in Gary’s eyes. She tells Gary that Pincus just wants to greet everyone. At the Chicago field office, Mulder listens to the manifesto again, taking notes to form a profile of the speaker. Meanwhile, Gary loads a gun.

Scully calls Mulder to tell him that a man named Gerald said “hiding in the light” to a police officer in Florida back in 1992. He thought there was an “evil presence” at his church, then shot a bunch of people there, saying “the afflicted ones wouldn’t bleed.” Mulder decides it’s time for Scully to join him in Illinois, even though admitting this case is for real after all means he runs the risk of Scully saying, “I told you so” (which she does).

Mulder goes to the office, which is suddenly empty. Nancy, who’s hiding, tries to warn him that someone’s there. It’s Gary, and he’s ready to add Mulder to his collection of hostages. When Scully makes it to Illinois, she walks into the middle of a hostage situation; the investigation is being overseen by an agent named Rice. Gary has said he wants to broadcast a “stunning revelation,” and they’re about to try to call Mulder on his cell phone, but Scully tells him they need to assess the situation first.

Gary secures all his co-workers/hostages, plus Mulder. He tells them that Pincus is the real threat, though Pincus isn’t the one holding a huge gun and screaming at everyone. Mulder calmly asks why they should be afraid of Pincus. He claims he’s there applying for a job, so Gary won’t know he’s an FBI agent. Gary says that Pincus is a monster, but he’s clouded everyone’s minds so they can’t see it. He wants to harvest their souls and turn everyone into monsters, too.

Mulder says he wants to believe Gary, but he’ll need to put down the gun to get everyone to truly listen to him. Gary doesn’t believe that Mulder wants to believe, but he says Mulder will. Whenever Gary turns away, Mulder tries to go for his gun, but he’s not quiet enough. Gary tells everyone to be quiet because he hears something in a vent. He starts shooting at it, and outside, Rice decides it’s time to make contact with the hostages by calling Mulder.

Mulder’s trying to go for his gun again when his phone rings. Gary stops him from answering it, and when he reaches over to take it himself, he sees Mulder’s gun. He knocks Mulder in the head, and when another hostage, Mark, tries to take advantage of the distraction to tackle Gary, Gary shoots him.

Gary finds Mulder’s badge and answers Rice’s phone call. “I just shot a zombie,” Gary says, though he says the zombie isn’t dead. Soon, though, he’s going to start killing real people. Rice fills Scully in, and Scully tells him it’s time to give Gary a platform to broadcast his “stunning revelation.” Gary has Mark’s body removed as Mulder tries to get him to realize that he killed a human, not a zombie. Gary claims that Pincus used telepathy to get Mark to attack him. Pincus wants to turn them all into “mindless drones” and take away who they are. Then he can control them and make them spy on each other for him.

Pincus points out that, if he’s a monster, Gary doesn’t need hostages. Gary says he’s going to put Pincus on TV and everyone will see who he is. Mulder’s phone rings again, and he tells Gary to answer it. Rice tells him they’re sending in a cameraman so Gary can go on TV and make his revelation. Thanks to closed-circuit monitoring, the agents outside can now see what’s going on in the cafeteria where everyone’s being held. They’ll be able to figure out a way into the room to end the crisis.

Gary goes live, telling the country that Pincus is a monster. He plans to shoot Pincus and show everyone who he really is. Mulder stands between Gary and Pincus, trying to talk him down. The lights go out and Gary hears the insect noises. He tells Mulder to turn and look at it, and when Mulder does, he sees the giant bug. Suddenly the SWAT team drives a FREAKING TANK through the wall and takes out Gary. The hostages are all fine and will have a great story to tell at parties for the rest of their lives.

Mulder studies Pincus, who looks normal. He leans over Gary, who’s still alive. “Now you know,” he whispers before dying. Once the local agents have gotten things under control, Mulder asks Pincus why Gary branded him a monster. He wonders if there’s a connection to the company’s previous incident in 1994, or to the case in Florida with Gerald. Scully’s like, “Monster Boy’s at it again.”

The agents return to D.C., where Mulder uses a map to mark the places where the weird incidents have occurred. He tells Scully that “hiding in the light” and similar phrases have been used in five other cases; all the cases involved someone claiming there was an evil entity only they could see. The company has offices near all of the cities where those cases occurred, and Pincus has been to all those locations. Mulder thinks Gary was right about Pincus being an insect-like being that causes people to see him as a regular human.

Scully admits that there could be a condition that causes people not to see what’s right before their eyes. However, Gary was mentally ill, so they can’t believe that he saw a real insect. Mulder wonders if he saw the insect because he was disturbed, or if he was disturbed because he saw the insect. He admits that he saw it, too. Scully thinks that Mulder was suffering from trauma and just picked up Gary’s delusions – it’s known as folie à deux.

Mulder thinks he can prove Gary’s theory about zombies by having Scully autopsy Mark’s body. Scully refuses to play along with Gary’s delusions, so Mulder says he’ll take care of things himself. First he goes with Rice to Gary’s house, where, just like Mulder, Gary has marked locations on a map. Mulder thinks he was tracking Pincus’ movements over the past few years. Mulder looks out a window and sees Nancy in the yard, first as her normal self, then as a zombie. Mulder runs outside but doesn’t see anyone. A car pulls away, carrying Nancy and being driven by Pincus.

Back in D.C., Skinner asks Scully why Mulder went back to Illinois. Scully says he’s looking into a possible connection between multiple cases. Skinner says the agents in Chicago think Mulder’s behaving erratically. Scully says she’ll go out and join him, but Skinner wants her to do Mark’s autopsy first. He’s surprised that Scully doesn’t seem to know she was supposed to do it, or that Mulder had Mark’s body sent to Quantico.

Scully goes to Quantico but decides only to do an external exam of the body. An assistant starts as Scully tries to call Mulder. The assistant thinks Mark died 48 to 72 hours ago, judging by the rate of decomposition. However, the hostage situation only took place the previous afternoon. In Illinois, Mulder follows Pincus to a house where he tries to attack a woman. By the time Mulder gets inside, the woman has been zombified. He searches the house, then spots the giant bug scuttling up to the roof.

Skinner comes to Illinois to apologize to the woman (one of Gary’s co-workers), who has accused Mulder of breaking into her house for no reason. He was screaming about monsters, “even worse than Gary.” Pincus is there, and the woman shows no signs that she was ever scared of him. Mulder thinks Pincus has already infected her. Pincus is willing to drop the matter, since he still sees Mulder as a hero. Mulder shouts that Gary knew Pincus’ secret. As Skinner yells at him, Mulder hears the insect noises and sees Pincus turn into the bug. He begs Skinner to turn and look at it, but Skinner restrains him.

Mulder lands himself in a hospital, where he jokes to Scully that, after five years working together, she must have expected to see him in a psychiatric ward some day. She tells him that Mark’s body decomposed at a weird rate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that, as Gary claimed, Mark was already dead when Gary shot him. Mulder pushes her to find out what Pincus did to the woman at her house.

Scully tells him there’s nothing left to investigate, and Mulder needs to start seeing past his delusion. He tells her that she’s the one who needs to see, because she’s the only person on the planet who gets him. “You’re my one in five billion,” he tells her.

Scully heads back to Quantico to have another look at Mark’s body. She finds three puncture wounds on the back of his head, like bite marks a large insect might make. At the hospital, a nurse gives Mulder a sedative, then tells him to sleep tight and not let the bedbugs bite. Oh, nurse. He hears insect noises and sees the giant bug appearing outside his window. He calls for the nurse, yelling that “it’s here.”

The nurse returns and tells Mulder that nothing could be at the window, since they’re on the third floor. She turns on the lights and opens the curtains so Mulder can see that there’s nothing outside. Mulder asks her to take off his restraints, but instead, she opens the window, prescribing fresh air. She tightens Mulder’s restraints and leaves. Of course, the bug comes back.

Scully comes by but the nurse won’t let her see her partner after visiting hours. Scully sees her turn into a zombie, then runs down the hall to Mulder’s room. The bug has gotten inside, and Scully shoots at it, but it gets away. Still, at least now Mulder knows that she knows he wasn’t crazy.

Scully fills out a report, telling Skinner that Mulder is fit for duty, though she isn’t sure exactly what happened. Someone injected a toxin into Mark, and Pincus, the nurse, and a bunch of employees – all the people described as zombies – have disappeared. Scully knows for sure that there was an “intruder” in Mulder’s room, though she can’t testify for sure that it was, you know, a giant bug.

After the meeting, Scully tells Mulder that she told Skinner the truth, or at least the truth she gathered from all the weird facts. All she can come up with is folie à deux – “a madness shared by two.” She should make that three, because an employee in the Missouri branch of Gary’s company has just heard insect noises…

Thoughts: My recap title comes from a Simpsons Halloween episode in which Homer, like Gary, suspects that his boss is a murderous monster.

Some nice continuity: Mulder’s finger is still bandaged from “The Pine Bluff Variant.”

I know our country’s screwed up, but I can’t imagine that any news outlet would air a man who’s about to commit murder on live TV. The potential FCC fine alone would be a huge deterrent.

No wonder Scully feels like the basement office isn’t hers – only Mulder’s name is on the door.

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