March 25, 2017

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

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

“Imagine going through your whole life looking like that”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 21, 2017

SVT Super Edition #5, Lila’s Secret Valentine: Pretty Little Liar

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

Ugh, bunny ears. 12-year-old boys are exhausting

Summary: The Boosters want to raise money to hire a professional photographer for an upcoming Valentine’s Day dance, so they sell personalized cheers. For $2, they’ll give a shout-out to your crush or significant other in a cheer. For $4, they’ll create a brand-new cheer all about that person. Admittedly, this is pretty creative. But the Boosters aren’t going to spend so much time on this project that it takes away from their mission to find dates to the dance.

Lila is sure that Jake Hamilton, who’s practically her boyfriend, will ask her, so she’s crushed when he buys a cheer for Brooke Dennis. To save face, she tells her friends that she dumped Jake last week, so she’s not bothered. Besides, she’s already seeing a new guy, eighth-grader Gray Williams, who goes to a private school. Lila is so convincing when she describes him that no one catches on that he’s completely made up.

Lila figures she’ll just “break up” with Gray in a few days and her friends will never know the truth. But when the Unicorns come over and see some freshly cut flowers, they guess that they’re from Gray, and Lila plays along. She loves the attention too much to tell the truth now. Plus, she doesn’t want to admit that she’s single and Jake isn’t interested.

The ending of the book becomes clear early on, when Lila meets the Fowlers’ gardener’s grandson, Justin. She’s a jerk to him, but he’s hot for her. Justin, get some self-respect, man. Anyone over the age of five can figure out that Justin will eventually pretend to be Gray. But Lila hasn’t thought that far ahead, and is focused on having a hot date for the dance. She meets a guy at Casey’s, but the Unicorns chase him away, telling him that Lila’s spoken for.

Lila decides to fake a break-up, using an onion to make herself cry when she tells her friends that she and Gray had a huge fight after she forgot his birthday. The Unicorns secretly get him a cake and plan to take it to his school and tell him how sorry Lila is. To keep them from discovering that Gray doesn’t exist, Lila pretends that he called her at school and they’ve already made up. The Unicorns are gullible enough to buy this.

Just as Lila’s about to suck it up and come clean, Janet reveals that Sarah Thomas has been lying about her boyfriend. She said she was dating a ninth-grader, but she’s really seeing a seventh-grader. Now Lila can’t risk confessing her lies and being mocked by her friends. She confides in Justin, who quickly comes up with a solution but doesn’t get the chance to share it with Lila.

Lila’s next plan is to fake appendicitis (inspired by a teacher who just had it) so she has an excuse not to go to the dance. Most girls would just fake a cold or the flu, but not our Lila. She has to go all-out. She’s about to collapse at school when attention shifts to Jessica (more on that in the C-plot), so she misses her chance. Lila then tries to convince her housekeeper that she’s too sick to go to the dance, but she makes the classic fake-illness mistake of keeping the thermometer on the lightbulb too long, so her supposed super-high fever isn’t believable. Plus, Mr. Fowler is going to be one of the chaperones at the dance, and Lila knows she’d disappoint him by missing it. (By the way, Mr. Fowler is pretty awesome in this book, and clearly loves Lila a lot, despite never spending time with her.)

At the dance, Lila makes various excuses for why Gray isn’t with her – he’s running late, he’s getting refreshments, he’s talking to a friend across the room, etc. The Unicorns want to celebrate the new relationship by giving Lila and Gray a spotlight dance. When the spotlight falls on Lila and Gray is nowhere in sight, the Unicorns start to figure out that she was lying about him the whole time. But then! Justin arrives, pretending to be Gray, and saves Lila’s reputation. I would find it sweet, but Justin’s affection for a girl who treats him like dirt is just sad.

In the B-plot, Elizabeth and her fellow Sixers staff are publishing “lovegrams” to make some money. For a little extra, you can hire one of them to write a special Valentine’s message to your crush/significant other. Elizabeth gets really into it, going along the lines of “I burn, I pine, I perish!” On a roll, she decides to write Todd a passionate poem for Valentine’s Day. She thinks it’s more romantic to leave it unsigned, and she’s sure Todd will know it’s from her.

Todd, however, is a dolt and thinks he has a secret admirer. He becomes obsessed with finding out who wrote him a love poem. He’s so sure it wasn’t Liz that he breaks up with her. She turns her sadness and rage into super-passionate lovegrams, which disturb the buyers a little bit. Like, they want to tell girls they like hanging out with them, not pledge their undying love. Mandy Miller’s like, “I want this guy to think I’m nice, not that I want to elope.” It takes a little while, but Liz does get the hint.

Todd starts thinking that any girl who’s ever been nice to him could be his secret admirer. Brooke asked to borrow some money, so she must be in love with him! Maria smiled at him, so she must be hot for him! I fear for Todd’s ability to read signals when he’s older. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has become an object of affection for many guys at SVMS, now that she’s back on the market, and even Bruce wants to take her to the dance. Todd’s upset about this, and eventually realizes that any girl who might want him can’t be nearly as awesome as Elizabeth. He needs to make up with her and get back together.

At the dance, Todd tries to apologize with flowers and candy, but Liz is slow to warm up to him. I don’t blame her. When it comes out that she wrote the poem, she has to laugh at his failure to realize who it was from. I guess it’s a little funny that he dumped her for the poet, who turned out to be her all along, but it was also a jerk move.

The C-plot is that Jessica wants Aaron to ask her to the dance, but he keeps hanging out with and talking to Elizabeth. Jess decides to call him out in the cafeteria, while the Boosters are performing their Valentine’s cheers. But just as she’s about to call him a snake in front of everyone, the Boosters perform a special cheer Aaron commissioned for Jess. (You have to read it – see below.) All is forgiven when Aaron explains that he was only talking to Elizabeth to get help with the cheer. Jess is definitely his preferred twin.

Thoughts: This is almost exactly the plot of Love Letters, just for the middle-school set.

Amy thinks Elizabeth should get Todd a stuffed animal for Valentine’s Day. Amy, stop helping.

Lila: “[Gray] threatened to do something drastic if I didn’t immediately break up with Jake and go out with him instead.” Tamara: “Oh, Lila, how romantic.” OH, GIRLS, NO.

Lila’s outfit for the dance: “The top was a sophisticated black velvet bodysuit. Displayed with it were long hiphuggers with huge bells at the bottom.” OH, GIRL, NO.

Here’s Aaron’s cheer, in all its…well, glory certainly isn’t the right word:

“Oh Jessica, oh Jessica,
You make my heart beat fast.
You’ve always been the twin for me,
From first until the last.
I love the way you chew your gum,
Right in our science class.
Around you I am never glum,
Not even when you sass.
Your long blond hair is like the sun,
Your eyes are like the sky.
With you I have terrific fun,
I’ll never make you cry.
You take a joke just like a boy,
You look just like a girl.
I’d follow you to Illinois,
Or all around the world.
I can’t compete with Johnny Buck,
He sure gives me a blister.
And now I find, with just my luck,
You think I like your sister.
But Jessica, you must believe,
There is no other one.
I’d like to take you out tonight,
In order to have fun.
Please say you’ll be my date tonight,
I’ll bring you one red rose.
There’s no way I’ll be late tonight,
Or step upon your toes.
Be my Valentine, Jessica! Love Aaron! Yay!”

March 18, 2017

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

Posted in TV tagged at 1:14 pm by Jenn

Yeah, it still doesn’t make sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 14, 2017

SVT #84, Romeo and 2 Juliets: Two Wakefields, Both Alike in Indignity

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

I guess Todd was too out of it to notice that anything weird was going on

Summary: Apparently no one at SVMS is familiar with Romeo and Juliet, arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play, so Mr. Bowman is going to change that. Only instead of just reading the play in class, the students will be acting out some of the scenes. After some confusion where Mr. Bowman says that Shakespeare’s language is musical, and Jess thinks the play is a musical, everyone’s excited about doing something new. Jessica and Lila both want to play Juliet, and they make a bet where whichever of them doesn’t get the part has to wear fake warts (meant to be for whoever plays Juliet’s nurse) for a week. Sadly, this does not lead to a scene where neither girl gets the role and both have to wear the warts.

Jess prepares for her audition by reading Juliet’s scenes over and over at home, until everyone in the house has memorized all the lines. But then Jessica comes down with the cold/flu (the ghostwriter seems to think these are interchangeable) that’s been spreading through the school, and the day of the first auditions, she can barely speak. Alice deems Jessica too sick to go to school, and she misses all of the audition days. Desperate for the part, and especially desperate to keep Lila from getting it, Jessica talks Liz into auditioning as her.

At first Elizabeth isn’t that excited about the scheme, but when she realizes that she can’t let Lila win, she really gets into it. Her audition is great, and everyone responds like she just gave a Tony-worthy performance. Liz quickly remembers that Jessica is technically the star here, as everyone thinks that’s who she is. Elizabeth wants the part for herself, though, and Jessica refuses to give it to her.

Instead of going to Mr. Bowman to say there was a mix-up and she’s the rightful Juliet, Elizabeth just pretends to be Jessica at rehearsals and takes her role. The girls fight over the part, and Jessica wins the first round by locking Liz in a bathroom. Diabolical! Jessica gets her back by blowing pepper at her during dinner so Ned and Alice will think she caught Jess’ cold and keep her home from school. This doesn’t work, and just makes Elizabeth madder and more vicious. Like, she dresses like Jess, then rips Jessica’s shirt so she can’t go on stage to rehearse.

Lila figures things out and agrees to let Jessica out of their wart bet (which I guess is back in play because technically Jessica didn’t win the role) if Jess gives her a chance, as Jess’ understudy, to appear on stage during the big performance. In exchange, Lila will help Jessica ensure that Elizabeth can’t take her place. She has two costumes from a professional production, and she’ll make sure both are kept under lock and key so Liz can’t steal one. Jess isn’t happy about having to give Lila a chance to shine on stage, but it’s worth it to keep her role, not to mention keep herself from having to wear warts.

The night of the performance, Jessica schemes to keep Liz out of the way by dosing her with cold medicine before the show, so she’ll be too drowsy to perform. Meanwhile, Elizabeth works with Amy and Maria to create a diversion and get Jessica out of the way so Liz can take her place backstage. Even Lila is fooled, easily handing over one of the costumes. When Jess finds out that Liz has already gotten her hands on a dress, she gives Mandy (the stage manager) a soda with cold medicine in it. Mandy gives it to Amy, who ends up giving it to Todd (who’s playing Romeo), since he needs something to soothe a tickle in his throat.

Jessica manages to be the first Juliet to make it onstage, but Elizabeth lies in wait by the balcony to beat her up there for the next scene. The two start trying to physically pull each other off the set. The audience doesn’t seem to catch on that something weird is going on, and they definitely don’t notice that Juliet is being played by two girls.

When it’s time for the big death scene, which Elizabeth is in place for, Todd falls asleep while playing dead. His understudy is out sick, so Amy gets Jessica to play Romeo for the final scene. It goes great, but the twins are immediately busted after the show, and Mr. Bowman is TICKED. He threatens to give them both Fs for the week, but ultimately agrees to punish them by making them wear the fake warts for a day. Somehow, Elizabeth gets away with not having to undergo a psych evaluation for her out-of-character behavior through the book.

Thoughts: Everyone at SVMS seems awfully excited about a performance that’s just for one class. Though Janet’s involved, so I’m not sure what’s going on here.

How do the Wakefield kids ever make it to school when Alice considers keeping them home every time they sneeze?

No girls want to play the nurse, because of the warts, so Dennis Cookman takes the role. Beautiful.

March 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 7, 2017

SVT Magna Edition #3, BIG for Christmas: Don’t Grow Up! They Make You Do Stuff!

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:04 pm by Jenn

I’m not sure what they’re looking at. Santa?

Summary: Christmas is approaching, and since it wouldn’t be an SVT book without a party, the Howells want to throw one. Joe has agreed to let Janet invite a bunch of middle-schoolers to his high school party, which is A Big Deal. Janet warns all of the Unicorns to dress appropriately, since there will be older boys in attendance. Jessica is singled out as a fashion don’t. Ouch. Jess vows to find a killer outfit, and to make sure Elizabeth doesn’t embarrass her.

The Christmas carnival is back, and amazingly, Janet doesn’t think the Unicorns are too old to go to it. Steven, a mature high-schooler, also doesn’t find it too babyish. The Wakefield siblings run into each other, and the twins embarrass their brother. I have a feeling that there isn’t a lot about the twins that doesn’t embarrass Steven. This just sets up a slow burn through the book for Steven, who’s annoyed by how immature his sisters are.

Jessica has a hard time finding a party outfit, since everything in the juniors section is too small (really?), everything in the children’s section is too childish, and everything in the adult section is too mature. It doesn’t help that the department-store employees just see Jess as a kid. Elizabeth has similar problems when she tries to buy a book for Amy – everything the clerk recommends is too young, and the horse book she picks out is too expensive. She’s treated like a child as well, so both twins are annoyed that, at the ripe old age of 12, they’re not seen as adults.

Jess tags along on a shipping trip to L.A. with Lila and ends up hitting the jackpot – a woman was having a garage sale and getting rid of a bunch of clothes she’s made over the years. They’re perfect for Jess, and just in her price range. But then Ned finds out that the party at the Howells’ will feature high school boys. Apparently he thought Joe was just bringing some friends over to help set up, and then they would leave. Okay, Ned. Steven plays up this angle, trying to get his sisters banned from the party so they can’t embarrass him. This, plus Alice’s disdain for the twins’ party outfits, leads to the twins being told they can’t go.

The twins try to sneak out, pretending they’re going to the carnival, but Ned and Alice invite themselves along, so they have to go to the carnival for real. The twins are miserable. They head to a wishing well, run by a guy dressed like an elf, and both girls make the same wish: to be grown-ups. If you think this sounds like Big or 13 Going on 30, you’re right.

The next morning, Liz wakes up and realizes her nightgown is too small. At first she thinks she had a sudden overnight growth spurt, but she soon discovers that things are way weirder than that: She’s now an adult. Jessica finds her freaking out in the bathroom, and when they see each other, they both freak out some more. They realize they made the same wish, and both came true.

The twins decide they need to avoid their parents, so they steal some clothes from Alice, as their own clothes are now too small. Jessica runs into Steven, who can’t figure out why there’s a strange woman in his house who somehow knows his name. Ned and Alice start panicking about an intruder while the twins run off to figure out how to get themselves back to normal. Ha ha, no, they don’t. They want to start new lives for themselves as adults.

Jessica’s hungry, so she suggests that they go get donuts, even though they don’t have money. A delivery guy has skipped out on work, so Jess offers herself and Liz as replacement drivers. Never mind that they don’t have driver’s licenses, work experience, or any idea how to drive. Jessica flirts her way to the job and a free breakfast, saying that the twins need to be familiar with the product they’ll be delivering. They both eat a bunch of donuts, because being a grown-up means you need more food. Jess drives the truck, which is a disaster, and when she hits a car, she and Liz flee the scene of the accident, the little criminals.

Having discovered that the twins are missing, Ned and Alice call the police and try to convince them that the girls were kidnapped by the woman Steven saw. The police are unconcerned, figuring the twins just ran away after the fight with their parents about the party. Steven feels bad, since he got the twins banned from the party and then realized it was the wrong move.

He sets out to find his sisters, and accidentally runs into them as they’re dodging the police. It takes some convincing before he believes they’ve grown up overnight. Fortunately, he has some money on him, so the twins get him to hand it over. Steven also offers to make arrangements for them to sleep in the Wakefields’ garage without Ned and Alice finding out. This involves getting Joe to ring the doorbell and run, distracting Ned and Alice long enough for Steven to move things like sleeping bags to the garage.

The twins need money so they can find their own place to live, so they go to a temp agency to get jobs. Again, they have no work experience, no diplomas, and no IDs. Apparently it’s super-easy to get a job in Sweet Valley. Jess gets placed at a fashion company, and on her way to work on the bus, she tells a guy she’s a supermodel. The guy turns out to be a photographer at the fashion company, so Jess is pretty embarrassed when she’s outed as a temp. But probably not as embarrassed as the guy would be if he knew he was checking out a 12-year-old.

The twins both have horrible days – Elizabeth can’t juggle all the phone calls at the publishing house where she’s working as a receptionist, and Jess has no idea how to tackle her company’s filing system. Also, everyone is mean to them, which I find hard to believe. It’s all just to show that being an adult is hard, and you have to, like, work and stuff.

Jessica gets banished to a conference room to put together binders for a meeting. She starts sketching party clothes instead, and the photographer from the bus is impressed. The company has been trying to sell clothes to tween girls, but they can’t figure out what they want. I guess it would be too much work to…ask them? Anyway, Jess is immediately promoted and brought on board to consult for the line.

Elsewhere in town, Elizabeth is supposed to take minutes for a meeting about a book series for tween girls. My favorite part of this is when someone suggests a series about horses, and Elizabeth thinks to herself that since she loves the horse series she already reads, she wouldn’t want to read any other. That’s so ridiculous. Liz decides to contribute to the meeting by saying that the company should do a series about 12-year-old twin girls. This is seen as a genius idea, and, like Jess, Liz is asked to work on the series – which will be called Sweet Valley Twins. Please kill me.

The twins meet up for dinner and celebrate the great days they both had. When Steven joins them later, he tries to hide his disappointment – he wanted to convince them to go to the carnival and make a wish to go back to being themselves, but since they’re enjoying adulthood, he knows they won’t do it. Steven heads home, where Ned has decided to cancel a big meeting because he can’t focus on work when his daughters are missing. Steven realizes that this means he could lose money, which means Steven’s allowance could get cut, and he wouldn’t be able to help the twins. He tells Ned not to cancel the meeting, but won’t say why. Alice and Ned ground him for helping his sisters stay hidden.

Steven sneaks out of the house to meet up with the twins, not realizing that now Elizabeth is struggling to adjust to being an adult. They run into a bunch of middle-schoolers out caroling, and Liz is hurt when Amy doesn’t recognize her. Jessica is now also missing her old life, but it takes a while for the twins to admit to each other that being an adult is hard. And it only took two days!

The girls decide to go back to the carnival with Steven and make another wish. But alas! The carnival has closed and left town! They grab a bus and head to the next location, begging the man at the wishing well to let them in after-hours so they can make their wishes. The man’s wife is with him, and Jessica recognizes her as the woman she bought all the party clothes from. The three siblings make the wish together, and the man disappears in a flash of light. However, the twins haven’t turned back into 12-year-olds yet.

The Wakefields take the bus home, and the twins fall asleep. Steven wonders how he’s going to explain things to his parents. But it’s a moot point – when the bus reaches Sweet Valley, the twins are back to normal. Ned and Alice are so happy to see them that they don’t really care what happened, and the girls’ only punishment is doing a bunch of stuff with the family for Christmas. Well, I guess they don’t get paychecks or proper credit for their single day of work, so that’s punishment, too. And now they have a newfound appreciation for how much easier it is to be 12 than it is to be an adult.

Thoughts: I can’t wait until I’m old enough to be called ‘Ms.,’ she thought.” You’ll change your mind when you’re older, Jess. I hate being called “Ms.”

“[Jessica] stepped into a sleeveless black sheath dress with a giant tiger head stitched onto the front. It was the coolest dress she had ever seen.” WHAT.

You know what will help convince your parents that you’re mature, Elizabeth? Storming out of an argument in tears.

March 4, 2017

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

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

I would trust this man

I would trust this man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 28, 2017

SVT #83, Amy’s Secret Sister: Everything’s Coming Up Ashley

Posted in books tagged , , , at 5:04 pm by Jenn

The rare ugly-outfit trifecta

The rare ugly-outfit trifecta

Summary: We pick up right where Steven’s Enemy left off, with Amy’s parents about to tell her what they’ve been keeping from her. Amy’s been worried that they’re getting divorced, but she’s hit with something completely unexpected: Mr. Sutton has another daughter. The story is that Mr. Sutton got married right out of high school, they split up when he moved overseas for work, and his never bothered to tell him when she got pregnant. Over the next nine months (since Amy’s sister is only 18 months older than she is), Mr. Sutton met Mrs. Sutton, fell in love, got married, and conceived Amy. (…Yeah.)

Mr. Sutton learned about his other daughter when she was around six, and he and Mrs. Sutton never told Amy. But now the elder Sutton girl, Ashley, is coming to visit her father, stepmother, and half sister for two weeks. Wow, that’ll totally make up for 13 years of nothing. Amy’s parents weren’t fighting because they’re unhappy in their marriage; they’ve been trying to convince Ashley’s mother to let her come visit in the middle of the school year. Part of me thinks Ashley’s mom has a point, but the rest of me thinks she can bite me for not telling her father she existed for six years and not letting her see her father at all for 13.

Amy is thrilled to have a sister, even though most people in her situation would be in shock, and probably mad at their parents for never saying anything. Seriously, there’s “Amy’s only five so it would be confusing to tell her she has a sister we never knew about,” and there’s “let’s see how long we can keep this a secret.” Amy does feel a little weird when Ashley calls their father “Dad” right away, but Ashley is so awesome that Amy immediately feels a connection with her, and she’s too happy about having a sister to let anything else bother her.

Elsewhere in the Sweet Valley-verse, the Unicorns have decided they need some new blood, but not permanent new blood. Just entertain-us-for-a-while-and-then-get-out blood. I’m going to stop saying “blood” now. They decide to let someone join the club temporarily. Amy confides in Elizabeth that she’s interested, which is partly in line with Amy’s character, as she seems to need validation a lot, but also ridiculous because she never shows any interest in the things the Unicorns like.

Since Ashley is now in town and is, as established, awesome, the Unicorns want her to hang out with them until she goes home. Ashley has experience with this sort of elitism, as she’s in a similar club back home, the Butterflies. (Yes, really.) Though the Butterflies do some volunteer work, so they’re at least more respectable than the Unicorns. Ashley would rather hang out with Amy than the prettiest, most popular girls in school, but Amy’s starting to feel a little overshadows by her sister and all the attention she’s getting. It gets worse when Ashley decides the subject of a school essay about someone you admire will be Mr. Sutton. Amy decides to do the same.

Janet asks Amy for her phone number, making Amy think the Unicorns are going to invite her into the club. Wrong! The want her sister. On top of attention from the Unicorns and lots of boys, Ashley is asked to fill in for a sick dancer in Jessica’s ballet class, dancing the lead in Sleeping Beauty. Everything’s coming up Ashley!

Showing that she is, in fact, pretty awesome, Ashley’s more concerned about Amy’s feelings than she is about being popular and adored. She doesn’t want to take her sister’s spot in the Unicorns (not that it was ever going to be Amy’s spot anyway). When she’s invited to a gathering at Lila’s, she asks if Amy and Elizabeth can come along, too. Amy thinks the Unicorns came up with the idea, so she’s happy again. The sleepover is a disaster for Amy, though, since everyone fawns over Ashley and treats Amy like a redheaded stepchild.

The one thing Ashley isn’t good at is writing, so Amy helps her work on an article for the Sixers about the differences between Sweet Valley and New York. Amy’s pleased that she’s better at something than her sister. Her happiness doesn’t last long, though, as Ashley is still the preferred Sutton at school. Amy is basically a six-year-old in this book, with the jealousy and the inability to be happy about anything for her sister.

The day of Ashley’s big recital, the location is changed at the last minute. Ashley leaves a note for Amy and Mr. Sutton, then calls to make sure Amy saw it. Mr. Sutton isn’t home, and Amy gets so frustrated answering calls from others about the recital that she throws away the note, then takes an angry nap (TM Arrested Development). When she wakes up, she goes looking for a sweater she thinks Ashley borrowed and instead finds Ashley’s “person I most admire” essay. It’s not about Mr. Sutton, it’s about Amy. Ashley thinks Amy is amazing and loves her to pieces.

Amy finally realizes that her jealousy over Ashley is ridiculous, and she needs to be a better sister. She goes to tell her father about the location change, but he’s already left. She rides her bike all over town, looking for him, then goes to Elizabeth for help. Liz sends Amy to the recital and continues the search, managing to get Mr. Sutton to the recital on time. He learns about the note but doesn’t say anything until later, apologizing for not making sure Amy was really okay with everything that was going on. Whatever, he’s still a better parent than either of the Wakefields. Amy and Ashley make up, and the Suttons are all happy.

In the B-plot, Jessica tries a bunch of new hairstyles. No, really, that’s it.

Thoughts: The ghostwriter clearly wanted to give Amy a sister close to her age without a scandal, so they gloss over the details, but…it’s just not normal. None of this is normal. It would have been one thing if Mr. Sutton had never told his wife about Ashley, but to have both of them lie to Amy? No.

I bet the other girls in the ballet class really appreciated having some random girl come in and take a role one of them could have had.

I don’t get why Amy doesn’t just look for her father at the place where the recital was originally going to be. Did she think he was going to run errands beforehand?

February 25, 2017

The X-Files 4.19, Synchrony: The Iceman Cometh

Posted in TV tagged at 1:27 pm by Jenn

This ice sculpture is shockingly lifelike

This ice sculpture is shockingly lifelike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 21, 2017

SVT Super Chiller #7, The Haunted Burial Ground: The “Old Ones” Probably Don’t Approve of This Book Either

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

Yeah, that skeleton sure looks scary

Yeah, that skeleton sure looks scary

Summary: It’s almost Halloween, and Steven decides to pull a little prank on Jessica by making her think she’s being followed by a tall, headless man. Apparently there’s a local myth about two skeletons, one without a head, being seen on Sleepy Hollow Road. Jessica’s relieved that this one is actually Steven and his friend Scott, who managed to ride a bike with one on the other’s shoulders. Impressive! Jessica quickly forgets about the prank since she’s so excited to talk to Scott – he’s in a band called the Skeletons, and he’s hot. Scott thinks Jessica’s 13, which is apparently super-mature compared to 12.

Elizabeth also has a new friend, Kala, who’s only in town for about a month before her family moves somewhere else. She’s Native American, and her time at Sweet Valley Middle School gets off to a rough start when Bruce, Aaron, and Jake Hamilton pull a prank of their own. They use fake blood and a rubber axe to make Kala think Jake has been attacked.

Elizabeth rescues Kala from the ridiculous boys and tries to assure her that the boys didn’t target her for any personal reasons. She invites Kala to come with her to work with Houses for the Homeless, Sweet Valley’s versions of Habitat for Humanity. At the worksite, Liz introduces Kala to Jack Whitefeather, a project chairman who cheers Kala up partly just by being another Native American in a town that doesn’t have many.

Jessica runs into Scott again (with Steven and Joe), and they start talking about music. He’s learning “Monster Ball,” a new duet from Johnny Buck and Melody Powers. Jessica’s thrilled, as she loves the song, and she tries to get Scott to invite her to sing it with him. He humors her, but he’s not that interested in singing with a kid. Jess decides that the Unicorns should throw a Halloween party and invite the Skeletons to play – maybe then Scott will bring her on stage to sing with him. Not only would she get attention and sing with a hot guy, but all the Unicorns would be jealous.

Unfortunately for Jess, the Unicorns don’t want to throw a party, for possibly the first time ever. They think a Halloween party would be childish. Jess talks them into it by pointing out that they can dress up as celebrities instead of ghosts or witches. The girls want to have the party someplace distinctly Halloween-y, and they settle on an old house Lila’s father’s company is about to tear down. He vetoes the idea as too dangerous, but approves of a shack on Sleepy Hollow Road, as long as the girls fix it up (using their Houses for the Homeless skills) so it’s safe. They also have to be respectful of an elderly couple living next door.

The Unicorns celebrate with a sleepover at Jessica’s, the same night Elizabeth has invited Kala over. The girls try to use a Ouija board to find out of the shack is haunted, but Ellen messes up the session by making the board warn the girls to stay away. She doesn’t want to have the party at the shack because they’ll have to do so much work to get it ready. Fair enough. Elizabeth thinks they can donate the shack to the homeless shelter’s Nature Club Scouts after the party, which makes their work more worthy.

Since no one wants to bother with the Ouija board if Ellen’s just going to screw with them, the girls decide to have a séance. Jessica bumps the table to mess with everyone, leading to a fight. In the middle of everything, Kala seems to fall asleep. As the girls try to channel a spirit to ask about ghosts on Sleepy Hollow Road, Kala starts talking in a weird voice, telling the girls, “Do not disturb the old ones.” Alice interrupts the séance to send everyone to bed before the girls can figure out what’s going on. Kala wakes up but doesn’t remember the séance.

The girls see skeletons outside the house as they’re going to bed, but the ever-logical Liz quickly figures out that skeletons don’t wear sneakers. She busts them as Bruce and Jake. The girls invite them in, and as everyone’s chatting, Kala comes downstairs to tell them that the “old ones” are resting and shouldn’t be disturbed. The girls think she means Alice and Ned. Kala seems to be sleepwalking, though Janet, who already dislikes Kala because she had the nerve to talk to Denny Jacobson at school, thinks she’s faking. The next morning, Kala says she doesn’t remember much of what happened at the sleepover.

Jessica stalks Scott, Steven, and Joe so she can invite the Skeletons to play at the party, but she can’t get Scott alone. The Unicorns are starting to sour on the party, since it’ll require so much, so Jess gets them interested again by telling them the Skeletons are playing. Elizabeth and Kala check out the shack, and Kala mentions a dream she had about a bat telling her that they need to leave it alone. Minutes later, the Unicorns arrive, and Jessica stumbles into a cave and is swarmed by bats. One swoops down on Janet, which disturbs Kala, since she imagined that exact thing happening after her dream.

The girls start the clean-up process, but Elizabeth’s mood darkens when a man from Fowler Construction tells them the shack is scheduled to be demolished right after the party. I hope the Nature Scouts can afford the rent on a place in an office park, instead of the clubhouse Liz wanted for them.

The girls clean up a bunch of trash, which they bag up for a special pick-up by trash collectors. But Jake, Bruce, and Aaron pull yet another prank, hiding themselves in garbage bags to scare the girls. Jake gets busted and tells the girls that Bruce and Aaron are in other bags – bags the trash collectors have just picked up. The kids run after the garbagemen and rip open their bags, but the boys aren’t inside. When they return to the shack, there are two bags there, containing the boys. They say that someone moved them, telling them to let the “old ones” rest.

Elizabeth finds an arrowhead on the property, because every children’s book that has anything to do with Native Americans includes someone finding an arrowhead. Kala talks more about her dreams, which featured a bear and an eagle. As Jess continues trying to get Scott alone to ask him about the party, the other Unicorns work on reinforcing the shack so it’s safe. The girls ignore Mr. Fowler’s instructions to respect the elderly couple nearby, dumping trash bags in their yard so they don’t have to take them to the dump (since the trash collectors are mad at them and won’t come back). Despite the Unicorns’ attitudes, Liz still wants the party to go ahead, for Jess’s sake, so she tries to keep the peace.

Ellen thinks she sees a bear in the woods, and Elizabeth sees a bird she thinks is an eagle. She tells Kala, who’s had another dream about all those animals; they want her to tell the others again not to disturbed the “old ones.” Then Ellen finds a skull in a creek, which the Unicorns decide to turn into PR for the party.

Liz helps Jess get Steven away from Scott so Jess can finally ask him about playing at the party. She basically dares him to play in a creepy shack. Scott agrees, as long as Jessica sings with him…and as long as she spends a night in the shack before the party, to ensure no ghosts will come after him. Jessica easily agrees and enlists the Unicorns, Elizabeth, Amy, and Maria to spend the night as well. Kala can’t make it, since she hasn’t been feeling well. I guess channeling ancient Native American spirits or whatever takes a lot out of you. But Kala shows up in the middle of the night, warns the girls that the “old ones” don’t like having their rest disturbed, then leaves.

Liz goes to see Kala in the morning, but Kala doesn’t remember going to the shack. They go back to the property and find more arrowheads, as well as a vase depicting an eagle, a bat, and a bear. Elizabeth thinks this means the property is a Native American burial ground. Kala must be channeling the spirits of people buried there, who don’t want their resting place disturbed so an office park can be built. Sure.

The girls go to Fowler Construction to beg the crew to stop the construction, which goes over as well as you would expect. It turns out that people paid to do a job won’t listen to two 12-year-olds who want them to stop working because dead people said to. The girls then go to Mr. Fowler’s office to talk to the man in charge, but he doesn’t consider their argument strong enough to stop the construction.

On Halloween, everyone gathers for the party, which Kala decides to skip, since the “old ones” are so against any disturbances there. But she gives Elizabeth some Native American clothing in the hope that the “old ones” will see it as a peace offering. Everything at the party goes fine until it’s time for Jessica’s duet with Scott. Things get really loud, and the shack begins to shake. The vase Elizabeth found gets smashed. That can’t be good.

There’s so much noise and so many people dancing that the shack collapses. Somehow, no one’s hurt, despite beams falling all over the place. Everyone sees a couple of skeletons, one of them headless, leaving the debris. The headless one retrieves its head – the skull Ellen found – and the two of them head off together. Everyone thinks someone’s playing another prank, but all the usual suspects are present and accounted for.

Jack Whitefeather confirms that the shack is on a Native American burial ground, so Mr. Fowler wisely decides not to tear it up for an office park. His company is also going to build the Nature Scouts a clubhouse. Mr. Fowler is actually a pretty good guy. Kala thinks this will please the “old ones,” and the sighting of an eagle seems to confirm this. Okay, well, thanks for stopping by, Kala. No one will ever mention you again.

Thoughts: Kala: “It was my grandmother’s name. She was Native American.” Elizabeth: “Wow. That means you’re part Native American.” What would we do without Liz?

Ghostwriter, please do your homework. It’s Melody Powers, not Melodie.

Lila knows what “macabre” means. I’m impressed.

When Elizabeth and Kala are meeting with the jerky foreman: “He gave her braid a friendly tug.” I hope Kala gave his shin a friendly kick.

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