November 3, 2018

The X-Files 8.18, Vienen: Oil as Black as Oil Executives’ Hearts

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

This is no time to comment on the cleanliness of the rig, Doggett

Summary: 158 miles off the coast of Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico, the Galpex-Orpheus Platform is full of oil workers taking some downtime from their job. They eat dinner together, watch a hockey game on TV, and, in some cases, give each other significant looks. One man leaves the festivities to find a communications officer alone in a workroom. He doesn’t want to extend a dinner invitation, though – he wants to stab him.

A worker named Bo Taylor goes looking for the officer, Ed, but instead finds the stabber, Simon, destroying all the equipment. Taylor turns over Ed’s body and sees our old buddy the black oil running under Ed’s skin. “Now you’ve gone and done it,” Taylor says to Simon, which is a weird thing to say to a guy you’ve just caught committing murder. Simon tries to run, but Taylor tackles him. His eyes glow yellow, and the rest of his body follows suit. Simon is more scared than impressed with this light show.

In D.C., Doggett finds Mulder looking through files in his office, or I guess his ex-office. He’s brought the Galpex-Orpheus death to Doggett’s attention, but Doggett doesn’t think it’s an X-File. The death they’re discussing is Simon’s, not Ed’s, though Ed is missing. Simon’s body washed ashore covered in flash burns. Doggett thinks they were caused by an explosion on the platform, which was also the cause of Ed’s disappearance. But Mulder thinks Simon’s cause of death is consistent with burns caused by black oil.

Doggett’s done his homework and knows about the whole Piper Maru thing. Of course, he thinks it’s ridiculous. Mulder taunts that Doggett must have done something pretty bad to get stuck in the X-Files. When the phone rings, Mulder makes a show of picking it up, only to hand it to Doggett. It’s Scully, who’s waiting for her partner to join her and Kersh in a meeting. There’s an executive there from the oil company; Mulder called to tell him they were taking the case.

Mulder and Doggett both go to the meeting, where Skinner is also present, which means everyone’s reuniting! Yay! The oil executive, Martin Ortega, doesn’t want the FBI to investigate the explosion, since they’ll bring attention to an oil province that Mexico might want to fight for if they learn about it. Simon was from Mexico, and since he was killed while working for a U.S. enterprise, Mexico might use his death to try to get first rights to drilling the province.

Kersh tries to dismiss Mulder, who argues that Scully can’t go out to the oil rig to investigate, since she’s pregnant and delicate and might get oil on her shoes, or something. Of course, Kersh is sending Doggett instead. He heads to the rig with Yuri Volkoff, the new communications specialist. The worker who greets them is confused, since they were told only one agent was coming. To probably no one’s surprise, Mulder has beaten Doggett to the rig.

Taylor ignores the tension between the agents as he tells them how easy it is for some men on the rig to snap after a few weeks in isolation. The Mexican workers are usually stable, but Simon clearly wasn’t. He has no explanation for why Ed was on the drilling floor, since he was a communications chief. He says no one knew Ed was even gone until the shift change. As the agents leave to go yell at each other, Taylor’s eyes turn black.

Doggett threatens to call Kersh and report Mulder’s presence on the rig. Mulder notes that the radio’s broken, but…how did the crew get word out that Simon was dead and Ed was missing? There has to be some way to communicate with the mainland. Whatever. Mulder doesn’t think Doggett will tattle on him. They’re in the same boat, paddling in the same direction. Doggett corrects that they’re going in his direction.

Mulder notes that Doggett doesn’t have anything to report back to Kersh, so he’ll need Mulder’s help. He thinks Taylor knows exactly what happened, and he’s not the only one. Doggett thinks Mulder “could find a conspiracy at a church picnic.” Someone below them is listening to this manly stand-off through a grate.

In D.C., Scully calls Skinner to the morgue where she’s done Simon’s autopsy (even though the body was supposed to be sent to Mexico intact). She found black oil in Simon’s brain. Skinner panics, thinking she’s touched it, but Scully says the alien virus in the oil is dead. Her first instinct was to believe that the radiation that killed Simon also killed the virus, but since the virus has radioactive properties, that doesn’t make sense. Skinner wants to send word to Doggett, but Scully thinks they need to tell Kersh to get the rig evacuated. Skinner disagrees – of the two dozen men on the rig, why was Simon the only one infected?

Taylor checks in on Yuri, who says their communications gear is working, but it’s receiving some sort of high-frequency signal. He wants to try that time-tested technology trick that always seems to work: turning it off and turning it on again. Taylor stops him, first verbally, then physically. Black oil seeps out of his eyes, nose, and mouth, finding a new host in Yuri’s body.

Scully is able to get through to the now-infected Yuri to relay a message to Doggett. Mulder makes his presence known, asking Scully not to tell Kersh what he’s up to. Scully agrees, telling Mulder about the dead virus in Simon’s brain. Everyone on the rig could be at risk, including Mulder and Doggett. Mulder wants to call for a quarantine, but Scully tells him to evacuate. Mulder points out that that could infect people on shore. Scully should be able to use Simon’s body to figure out what kills the virus. If she can’t, she’ll need to tell her child that Mulder “went down swinging.”

Scully asks to talk to Doggett, but Mulder hangs up just as Doggett arrives. He demands to know what Scully told Mulder about the investigation. Mulder tells him he’s free to take charge, as he’s so eager to, but he might not like what that means. They wind up calling a quarantine for a possible contagion. Mulder tells Saksa, who’s in charge of the crew, that they’re missing a deck hand named Diego. Saksa doesn’t know where he is, but he must still be on the rig.

Ortega goes to the morgue so Scully can show him exactly what the crew might be facing on the rig. Ortega doesn’t support the quarantine, since no one’s showing any signs of being sick, and also, they’ll lose money by shutting down, which you know is more important to him than anyone’s health. He wants to rotate the crew off the rig and bring in new men.

Mulder goes looking for Diego, though Doggett thinks it’s a waste of time. Mulder reminds him that Taylor said the Mexican workers were reliable; now one is dead and one’s missing. Doggett thinks Diego might want to pick up where Simon left off and try to sabotage the operation to protect Mexican oil interests. He still hasn’t gotten Mulder to tell him what he thinks is going on. If the crew is hiding something, Doggett should be informed.

Mulder says he didn’t come to the rig just to one-up Doggett (though by saying “just,” he basically admits that that was part of his motivation). Since he knows what the black oil can do, he can keep an eye out for the signs that someone’s infected. Doggett smears some oil on his fingers and asks when it’s going to kick in. He doesn’t buy that regular oil, which most of the world uses, contains a virus.

Mulder realizes that the crew got infected because they were pumping oil from the new province. Billions of barrels of that oil is going to go out to the rest of the planet and spread the infection. Diego could be hiding because he knows what’s really going on. An alarm goes off in the radio room, which is now on fire. Mulder puts it out while Doggett goes…somewhere. I don’t know. He doesn’t get very far before the eavesdropper from the grate (Diego, obviously) knocks him out.

Kersh visits Scully at the morgue, catching her as she’s about to continue examining Simon’s body. Skinner’s also there, so Kersh knows he’s being kept in the dark about something. He wants to know who gave the order to shut down the rig. Skinner says it was him. Kersh wants to lift the quarantine as soon as radio contact is reestablished. Scully thinks that’s a mistake, but Kersh says it would be a mistake not to follow his orders, and Skinner and Scully are running out of mistakes they can get away with. If Kersh didn’t know better, he’d think Mulder was involved in this stunt.

The fire is out, and Mulder finds the remains of the Molotov cocktail used to set it. He radios Doggett, who’s just now regaining consciousness in Diego’s lair. He cuts Doggett to make sure his blood is red, not black. He tells Doggett in Spanish (which Doggett only speaks a little of) that “they” killed Simon and want to kill him, too. He started the fire so they couldn’t use the radio. “Vienen,” Diego says – they’re coming. “They” are “the flying ships.”

Scully studies Simon’s blood and sees massive amounts of T-cells, which mean he was able to fight all sorts of viruses. He’s from an indigenous Mexican culture that has an undiluted gene pool. Long story short, Simon was immune to the alien virus. The infected crew members couldn’t control him, so they irradiated him. Scully thinks Simon must have known something that made him a threat. Skinner points out that even if they did know, sending word to Doggett and Mulder – assuming they had time to warn them – would put them in danger, too.

Doggett offers to help Diego get back to his family if Diego will help him. Diego says he trusts no one. Mulder would like this guy. Doggett promises to help Diego, who lets him go. But he runs into Taylor, who strangles Doggett when he won’t say where Diego is. Taylor starts to infect Doggett, but Mulder shows up and knocks him out before Doggett becomes the next black-oil host.

As they head to the communications room to try to get the radio working, the crew members gather outside their door, their eyes turning black. Mulder tries to barricade the door while Doggett fixes the radio. Mulder adds some ambiance by putting on “Flight of the Valkyries.” Doggett manages to connect to Scully, who reports that helicopters are coming to evacuate everyone. Mulder tells her not to let the choppers land on the platform.

Doggett tells Scully that he, Mulder, and Diego are all fine, though Diego might be mentally unstable since he thinks flying saucers are coming for him. The connection is lost, though, so he can’t be sure if Scully heard him. Mulder wrecks the radio, not wanting the crew members to be able to communicate (possibly with their mother ship, as Doggett suspects). The crew members have stopped banging on the door, so Mulder guesses that something’s up.

He heads up the rig while Doggett goes to get Diego, but it’s too late – he’s been burned to death like Simon. As the first chopper approaches, Mulder realizes that the crew let them go because they’ve rigged the platform to explode and kill them. The agents outrun the explosion, like this is some Michael Bay movie, catching a glimpse of the crew as they head up to meet the helicopter. Since it can’t land, the men have to jump into the ocean. They do so just as fireballs go up behind them (again, like a Michael Bay movie).

Back in D.C., Doggett is summoned to Kersh’s office to face the music. Galpex-Orpheus lost the right to drill in the province, so they’re not happy with the FBI. Mulder thinks Doggett should do everything possible to make sure the oil stays where it is. He’s taken the blame for the whole fiasco and is being fired. This means Kersh is happy, because he got rid of Mulder and has a place to put the blame. Doggett has now seen for himself what the black oil does, and he can continue Mulder’s work on the X-Files. He really is in charge now.

Thoughts: Ortega is played by Miguel Sandoval. Taylor is played by M.C. Gainey.

Gillian Anderson might as well have sat out half the season with David Duchovny, for all they let her do in these episodes. Though admittedly, they couldn’t have had her go on the rig and then jump off at the end.

I don’t know what it is, but Robert Patrick looks particularly handsome in this episode. His scenes with Duchovny are like a who’s-more-handsome contest.

October 20, 2018

The X-Files 8.16, Three Words: A Conspiracy? On This Show? Are You Sure?

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:18 pm by Jenn

When Mulder’s playing computer games, it’s impossible to get him to go do something else

Summary: There’s a small crowd of tourists outside the White House at 6:44 p.m. A man climbs the fence and takes off running across the lawn. Of course, Secret Service agents stop him and get him on the ground as he says he needs to tell the president something about aliens. The man insists that aliens are taking over the U.S. One of the agents says that the man has a weapon, so Salt gets shot. Before he dies, he hands one of the agents a CD labeled “fight the future.”

Mulder is still in the hospital, having flashes of memory of the experiments the aliens did on him. Scully and a doctor arrive with the news that he’s completely cured of the alien virus. His scars are even repairing themselves. Mulder says he feels like Austin Powers, though he doesn’t elaborate on that.

Scully takes him home, because apparently someone kept paying his rent even after he was thought to be dead. Scully tells him how much she’s been through: learning that he was taken, finding him “dead,” and now getting him back. Her prayers have been answered. Mulder notes that she also got her prayers about getting pregnant answered. He’s happy for her but isn’t sure where he fits in. He’s still processing everything that happened.

In Perkey, West Virginia, a prisoner gives Absalom a book called The Coming Apocalypse. Inside is a news article about the man on the White House lawn. His name was Howard Salt, and he was working on the U.S. census. Kersh is watching a news report about Salt when Doggett and Skinner come to his office. He says they never expected Salt to behave like he did, but then again, people aren’t always what they seem.

Kersh tells Skinner and Doggett that Scully submitted an application on Mulder’s behalf, wanting him to be reinstated to the X-Files. He may be having trouble processing things, but he wants to get back to work. Kersh doesn’t have that same desire. Doggett and Scully have been more successful in solving cases over the past few months than Mulder and Scully were in seven years. Skinner defends Mulder, but Kersh isn’t about to give him any credit for taking on “personal crusades.”

He wants Skinner and Doggett to back him in his decision to keep Mulder off the X-Files. Doggett reminds Kersh that he did his job, which was finding Mulder. Kersh can’t now ask Doggett to take him off of his pet project. Kersh threatens to close the X-Files, but Doggett doesn’t like that idea either. Skinner ends the meeting before Doggett can fight any more.

Skinner goes to Mulder’s to give him the news, though Mulder doesn’t think the decision to keep him off of the X-Files is really Kersh’s. Skinner says he wants to punish Mulder, though in the process, he’s also punishing Scully and Skinner. Scully asks if they’re going to just sit back and let the FBI get what they want. Mulder reminds her that she’s having a baby in a few months, which means she’ll be a little too busy to fight the FBI.

Skinner wants to keep the X-Files open with Doggett in charge. This is the first Mulder has heard Doggett’s name or known that Scully was working with a partner other than himself. He wonders if Doggett is involved in this push to get Mulder out of the X-Files. Scully says Doggett’s a good guy. Mulder decides he really is ready to go back to work.

Some inmates from Absalom’s prison work on a road crew in West Virginia, and for some reason, someone thought it was a good idea to give them shovels. Absalom finds a piece of wood with a nail in it and slips it up his sleeve. On the way back to their prison vans, Absalom overpowers a guard and runs off. The prisoners cheer him on as he manages to outrun a prison van (sure) and lose it by running past a passing train (sure, sure).

Absalom surprises Doggett in his home, I guess having stopped somewhere along the way to look up his address (sure, sure, sure). He has a gun (we’ll just pretend it’s Doggett’s), and subdues Doggett so he can check him for alien implants and make sure he’s still human. Once he has, he shows Doggett an article about Salt and says he was killed for what he knew. Absalom thinks he’ll be killed, too. He only has one chance to save himself.

Absalom wants to take a road trip with Doggett and spread the word that the alien invasion has begun. Some people have been taken away to serve gods unknown to humans. Absalom’s preachings are parables and secrets that have been kept from the world. Doggett’s phone rings, but Absalom won’t let him answer.

Scully’s calling Doggett from a task-force meeting run by Skinner to educate some agents about Absalom. He wrote “fight the future” on the wall of his cell before he escaped the road crew. Though no one’s ever been able to prove that Absalom healed returned abductees, there’s evidence that they were tortured. They need to find Absalom and bring him in so the FBI can get some answers. Skinner doesn’t want to be in charge of this case, since it’s clearly and X-File, but Scully will have to find Doggett before Skinner can hand off the responsibility. (I don’t know why Scully can’t run the investigation while Skinner looks for Doggett, but whatever.)

They both get delayed when Mulder shows up in his office, ready to work. He recognizes Salt from a picture of Absalom’s returned-abductee friends, and he agrees with Absalom that Salt was killed because he knew something. Scully says that Mulder makes this sound like there’s a conspiracy. Scully…what show do you think you’re on? Mulder notes the coincidence of the FBI trying to shut down the X-Files just as there are questions that need to be answered.

Back at Casa Doggett, Absalom is taping a weapon to Doggett’s back so they can put some sort of plan into action. He declares that they’re going to become “overnight sensations.” Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully go to the FBI’s evidence room to look through Salt’s personal effects. Scully’s concerned that Mulder’s willing to take such a big risk – this could get him fired – on the off chance that he’ll find something. Scully, again…what show do you think you’re on? She doesn’t get how Mulder thinks Absalom and Salt can have any answers when there’s no way they’re credible. Mulder’s like, “Hi, have you heard of the X-Files?”

As he starts up Salt’s laptop, Scully tries again to convince him that he’s risking too much – the X-Files and his own freedom. Mulder figures prison would be better than a spaceship where he has to undergo horrible experiments. Scully starts to ditch him, but she comes back when Mulder finds a huge, encrypted file on the computer. She decides to join in the fun and take the hard drive with Mulder.

Doggett and Absalom go to the Federal Statistics Center in Crystal City, Virginia, and it becomes clear that Absalom kidnapped Doggett because he needed an FBI agent to help him get into the building. Security scans show the gun taped to Doggett’s back, but not until the men are already inside the building. Absalom wants to get to some data before he has Doggett call the FBI and tell them what they’re up to. He thinks the proof of the alien invasion is in the census data.

Security guards swarm the men, and even though Absalom warns that he has a weapon, one of the guards shoots him. R.I.P., Absalom, assuming he can be killed. Doggett ends up in Skinner’s office, where he meets Mulder for the first time. Mulder doesn’t give him a warm welcome, since he thinks Doggett is part of the conspiracy to bury the truth. He thinks Doggett got Absalom killed.

Mulder goes to see the Lone Gunmen, who are happy to see him. They’d like to know about his involvement in Scully’s pregnancy, but she doesn’t want to talk about that. She’d much rather discuss the data on Salt’s computer, which he downloaded the day he died. It’s data from the Census Bureau, of course, but firewalls went up on everything at the facility 15 minutes after Salt was shot. Mulder sees this as confirmation that he’s right about the data being important to this conspiracy.

Unfortunately, the encryption is too complicated even for Langly, so they’ll need a password to get to it. That is, unless Mulder’s willing to break into the Federal Statistics Center. He guesses that Scully told the Gunmen to back her up in convincing Mulder not to keep taking risks to pursue the conspiracy. Of course, that’s not going to work.

Doggett has a clandestine meeting with Knowle so he can ask who’s responsible for the conspiracy. Knowle doesn’t care how long he and Doggett have been friends – he’s not getting involved. Doggett says he’s been accused of taking part in the conspiracy. He thinks he’s being used and doesn’t know it. Knowle still won’t help, other than to tell Doggett that there are three words that are key to this investigation.

Doggett next goes to Mulder’s building and intercepts Scully as she’s arriving. He knows he won’t be able to talk to Mulder, so he relays a message for Scully to pass along. He knows about the CD Salt had on him, and he knows the password needed to decrypt Salt’s data. It’s three words: fight the future.

Scully goes up to see Mulder, though she’s hesitant to give him Doggett’s information. She eventually does, and Skinner goes to Doggett’s to tell him what was in the data. It’s the names of people who have a certain genetic profile. Scully’s worried that Mulder’s going to use this information to do something dangerous. Doggett admits that he gave Scully the password, but he won’t tell Skinner how he got it. Skinner wonders whose side Doggett is on. Doggett says he’s starting to wonder the same thing.

Skinner can’t reach Scully, which is weird because…didn’t she just call him to tell him about the data? Doggett heads off, not wanting to give Skinner any information about his plans. He says Skinner will just have to trust him. Doggett returns to the Federal Statistics Center, running into Scully and telling her she needs to leave. He’s afraid he may have accidentally set her up to be the conspiracy’s next victim.

Mulder’s inside with with Lone Gunmen for an Ocean’s 11-esque job, complete with cutting security feeds, opening locked doors, and dangling on cables. Mulder sneaks around the building, looking for a data bank, while Doggett sneaks around looking for him. Mulder finds the data bank and starts emailing files, ignoring Doggett when he finds him and warns him to get out. Doggett shoots through a glass door to get access to the room Mulder’s in, but Mulder still thinks Doggett is part of the conspiracy and again refuses to listen to him.

Mulder states his theory: People with a certain genetic profile are targets for abduction and replacement with alien facsimiles. He’s sending the info out to the press, starting with The Washington Post. He invites Doggett to shoot him if he really wants to stop Mulder. Outside, Scully calls Byers to warn that people are coming and the guys need to get Mulder out of there. Mulder thinks Doggett set him up, but Doggett points out that he wouldn’t be trying to get Mulder to leave if that were the case.

Langly tells Mulder that the data is trapped, so he can’t upload it or transmit it. Men are now swarming the building, and the agents are trapped. The Lone Gunmen come up with a plan and send the men into the ceiling so they can escape the building without being seen.

The next day (I guess), Doggett meets with Knowle again, allowing him two minutes to explain himself before Doggett exposes him as a liar. Skinner is nearby, ready to get Knowle blacklisted. Knowle says he told Doggett what he could; he’s not responsible for what Doggett did next. If Doggett exposes him, he won’t have a source anymore. He’s just on the tip of an iceberg.

Doggett doesn’t appreciate being used to get Mulder killed, but Knowle says that wasn’t the point. The truth is right in front of him, in the X-Files. Knowle is trying to point him in the right direction. Doggett leaves, dissatisfied by unable to do anything else. Knowle watches, pleased, with the kind of bulge in his neck that Absalom would be interested in knowing about.

Thoughts: So I guess Mulder and Scully aren’t discussing her pregnancy, the details of the conception, how he might be the baby’s father, etc.? What an elephant to always have in the room.

I’m surprised Kersh didn’t have Mulder barred from the building. Or can anyone with a badge just waltz in, whether or not they’re still employed there?

Salt wrote his password right on the CD? Wow. Dumb.

I think I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Mulder in a leather jacket gets a 10/10 from me.

October 13, 2018

The X-Files 8.15, Deadalive: Return to Me

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:20 pm by Jenn

Someone’s about to become a fifth wheel, and his name is Doggett

Summary: Mulder is being buried in Raleigh, for some reason, and all the usual suspects are in attendance (including Maggie, which is nice). Scully is sad but at least her hair looks great. She points out to Skinner that Mulder was the last living member of his family, but the real tragedy was that after all the searching he did for the truth, he never found it. She’s having a hard time believing that they’re at his grave. Skinner says he’s having a hard time believing that Mulder’s the last.

Three months later, Kersh summons Doggett and Skinner to his office to tell them they’re being praised for their work finding Mulder. (They didn’t really find him, but okay.) Doggett’s even being promoted, which means he gets to leave the X-Files. Doggett appreciates the support, but he’s not sure he wants to leave the X-Files. Kersh advises him to take the opportunity.

Scully’s now visibly pregnant, and Doggett has nicknamed the baby J. Edgar. He tells her he’s not leaving the X-Files. She thinks he would be crazy to give up a chance to advance his career, but Doggett knows Kersh’s real motives: Scully goes on maternity leave in a few weeks, and if Doggett is out of the X-Files, Kersh will shut it down. Scully assures him that he doesn’t owe her anything. Doggett says that, despite the fact that they’ve completed their mission to find Mulder, the case isn’t closed. Scully, like Kersh, thinks he should leave while he can.

In the ocean off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, a fishing boat spots a man’s body in the water. It’s taken to a morgue in Wilmington, and the medical examiner notes some cuts and scars, but nothing else remarkable. His assistant sees the man’s mouth moving, as if he’s trying to speak. The police call Skinner, who in turn calls Doggett to let him know that the body is Billy Miles’. But he’s not just a body anymore – he’s alive.

The two head to North Carolina, deciding not to say anything to Scully just yet. Skinner wants to dig up Mulder’s body and make sure he’s not still alive, too. Doggett thinks this is insane – his body was too far gone to still be alive, and that was three months ago. But Billy may have been in the water for months, and he’s still alive, so Skinner thinks there’s a chance here.

They exhume Mulder’s body and take it to a coroner’s office, where the coroner has failed to follow Skinner’s orders to keep things quiet. Doggett tells the gathered crowd that they’re not opening a casket in a room full of people. The medical examiner tells Skinner not to get his hopes up; this isn’t a situation where they open the casket and a mummy pops out. But at least Mulder’s still inside the casket, so this isn’t a situation where they open it and he’s missing.

Scully meets up with Skinner and Doggett the Naval Hospital in Annapolis, demanding to see Mulder. He’s been upgraded from dead to alive, though he’s hooked up to a bunch of machines and isn’t awake. Doggett doesn’t want Scully to see him like this, but it’s not like Scully’s going to come all this way and not go sit at the bedside of the love of her life.

Doggett goes to the office to see Kersh, who’s annoyed that Doggett and Skinner went behind his back. He hopes that Doggett takes his promotion offer seriously. He also hopes that Doggett drops this whole Mulder thing: “If it looks bad, it’s bad for the FBI.” He shouldn’t go digging for more answers. Scully, meanwhile, is looking for answers about Billy, who’s in about the same shape as Mulder, though with more scarring on his body. He has a seizure while she’s with him, and she thinks there’s something wrong with one of the machines he’s attached to.

At FBI headquarters, Skinner collapses in a hallway, then starts writhing in pain. He heads for an elevator and comes face to face with Krycek. Skinner tells him to go to Hell. He starts writhing again, thanks to the pain-causing device Krycek’s holding. Skinner figures that out and decides they should have a talk after all.

They go to Mulder’s office, where Krycek says he wants to give Skinner the chance to save Mulder’s life. Skinner says no, which Krycek notes is pretty bold of a guy who can be in excruciating pain in seconds, thanks to Krycek. Skinner relents, so Krycek tells him he has a vaccine that will fight the alien virus Mulder has. Skinner tries to grab the pain-causing technology from Krycek, whose reflexes are better.

Billy wakes up, and despite his months in the water and the fact that he was declared dead just hours ago, he’s well enough to get up and walk around. He finds a shower and washes off all the gross skin covering him. Meanwhile, Doggett finds Scully sitting by Mulder’s dead and expresses concern that the situation is bad for her. She shouldn’t let herself believe that his chances of survival are good. Scully angrily tells him that whether or not the truth is painful, it needs to come out.

The two are told that something’s going on with Billy, and they find him wandering in a hallway, looking…well, not near death, like he was just minutes ago. He claims not to remember much of what happened to him, just being in the water and then on the ship. Doggett explains that he was on a fishing boat, but Scully knows that’s not the ship Billy was talking about. He says they took a lot of people this time, and he knows why: The aliens are here to save them.

Doggett leaves, because even after everything he’s seen an experienced, he still can’t accept all this alien stuff. He asks Scully if it’s really that important whether or not he believes. He’s willing to admit that this is a medical mystery, but that’s it. Scully thinks he’s more than a skeptic – he’s “bullheaded.” He asks if she believes Billy’s story, and she doesn’t answer.

Skinner finds Scully studying scans of Billy’s head, which are all totally normal. Skinner thinks she should see that as encouraging, since it means Mulder could end up fine, too. But Scully knows there should be something off in the tests. Billy literally shed his skin and became a different person. Skinner asks about the possibility of an alien virus, an idea Scully’s willing to entertain if it means helping Mulder. He tells her about the vaccine, adding that it’ll cost them something big.

Doggett goes to Perkey, West Virginia, where Absalom is being held. Doggett wants to know more about the returned abductees Absalom and Jeremiah were retrieving. First Absalom makes Doggett say his name, because Absalom is weird. He sees himself as a prophet and doesn’t get why Doggett would ask for his help if Doggett doesn’t believe in him.

Skinner stops in Mulder’s hospital room, where Krycek is lurking. Skinner’s ready to do whatever’s necessary to get the vaccine. Krycek tells him he just has one job: Don’t let Scully have her baby. That’s too steep a price for Skinner, even if it means saving Mulder. Krycek says it’s about which of them is more willing to make a sacrifice to get what he wants.

Doggett returns to the hospital, passing Krycek and getting a weird feeling about him. While Skinner stares intently at Mulder, Scully tells Doggett that she believes Mulder has a virus that’s keeping him just alive enough to transform him. Doggett has heard the same thing from Absalom, who says that without him, returned abductees get resurrected as aliens. It’s part of the aliens’ plan to take over the world.

Scully thinks this makes sense – Billy’s supposedly malfunctioning machinery showed two heartbeats, but I guess one was just his alien heart coming out. If they don’t do something, Mulder will turn into an alien. She needs doctors to keep him stabilized while she administers the vaccine she asked Skinner to get for her.

Doggett goes to talk to Skinner, who’s locked himself in Mulder’s room. Doggett kicks down the door and catches Skinner disconnecting Mulder from his machines. Skinner admits that he has to kill Mulder in order to save Scully’s baby. Krycek is still in the building, hanging out in the parking garage, and when he sees Doggett looking for him, he ties to run him down. Doggett tries to jump through Krycek’s window, and the two struggle for a while until Krycek throws Doggett off and drives away.

But then Krycek comes back and flashes the vial of vaccine, taunting Doggett. He drops it on the ground, where it shatters. Doggett runs at him, still not getting that he’s no match for Krycek’s car. Krycek gets away for real this time, and Doggett has to tell Skinner that he failed to get the vaccine. He confirms that Skinner was right not to trust Krycek.

Doggett goes to see Scully, who tells him that, by taking Mulder off of his life-support machines, Skinner actually saved him. The machines were incubating the virus, and now, off of them, he may recover with just antivirals. Doggett then goes to the office, where I think Kersh wants an answer about whether he’s taking the new job, but they don’t talk about it directly. Kersh just says that things are about to get crowded in the X-Files office. (Which means Scully probably still won’t get a desk.)

Scully’s by Mulder’s side when he finally wakes up. “Who are you?” he whispers, but he’s just teasing. (Not funny!) He doesn’t remember what happened, but he can tell from her face that it was bad. “Anybody miss me?” he asks. Scully laughs and cries at the same time. Doggett comes by and sees them together, but leaves them alone to have a private reunion.

Thoughts: Everything on this show is about vaccines, isn’t it? And after more than eight years, the writers still don’t understand what a vaccine actually is.

Kersh is basically saying, “We don’t need answers as to why a seemingly dead man is now not dead anymore.” What kind of an FBI agent is he?

I imagine Mulder gets a lot of leverage out of being declared dead. “Mulder, you need to take the garbage out.” “Hey, Scully, remember when you left me in a grave for three months because you thought I was dead?” “…Fine, I’ll do it myself.”

August 18, 2018

The X-Files 8.7, Via Negativa: Third Eye Blindings

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

A trend that just never caught on

Summary: An FBI agent named Jim falls asleep during a stakeout, which his partner, Stedman, doesn’t appreciate. The front door of the house he was supposed to be watching is open, so the two go up to make sure everything’s okay. It’s not: There are bloody footprints leading inside, and everyone seems to have left. Also, there’s a painting of an eye on the ceiling, but I don’t think the agents are worried about that. Or at least not as worried as they are about all the dead people they find. The two agents split up to check out the rest of the house, and Jim hears gunshots. Before he can react, someone attacks him with an axe.

In Falls Church, Virginia (my hometown!), Doggett wakes up in the middle of the night when Scully calls. (No “it’s me,” because Doggett is not and will never be Mulder.) Skinner has informed her that an agent who was surveilling a religious cult in Pittsburgh has died, along with all the cult members. Scully can’t go with Doggett to investigate, but she doesn’t tell him that it’s for some medical reason.

Doggett goes to Pittsburgh alone and meets up with Skinner. Skinner explains that Jim and Stedman were surveilling the cult’s house because they thought the members were trafficking drugs. Jim was found in his car, which was locked from the inside. Doggett quickly determines that he couldn’t have been killed in the car, despite what blood-spatter patterns indicate – there’s no room for someone to swing a weapon at him.

Skinner takes him inside, where 20 cult members lie dead, having been killed the same way as Jim. All were struck in the forehead and killed with a single blow. The leader, Anthony Tipet, isn’t there. Skinner thought he was just a religious nut, not someone obsessed with the apocalypse. But now it looks like they’re dealing with another Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate situation.

Doggett thinks at least one person would have fought back, which is why Skinner believes they may have been drugged. Doggett suggests that he test Jim, too. Stedman is MIA, but Doggett, who’s familiar with the agent, knows he has a condo in Pittsburgh and might have just gone there. Doggett and Skinner go over and find Stedman dead in his bed.

The agents go back to D.C. and watch a tape of Tipet speaking to his members about how their bodies hold light and dark. If they’re brave enough to look into the darkness, they’ll see God. Skinner tells Doggett and Kersh that Tipet served 12 years in prison for murdering his wife, then became a minister. He tells his followers that they can ascend the via negativa, the path of darkness, to get closer to God. Then their spirits can “travel unhindered.”

Tipet is a big fan of a drug called Iboga, which Skinner thought might be the reason his followers didn’t fight their deaths. But there’s no trace of the drug in their systems. Doggett doesn’t know why Tipet would have killed all his followers anyway; he was paranoid, but his behavior didn’t indicate that he thought everyone should die. Whoever did commit the murders has left no evidence behind, including fingerprints. The house, Jim’s car, and Stedman’s condo were all locked from the inside.

Skinner says that it’s possible Tipet took Iboga, accomplished what he always preached about the via negativa, and was able to kill everyone only through the power of his consciousness. Basically, he’s a psychic killer, qu’est-ce que c’est. Kersh is the Scully to Skinner’s Mulder here, and asks Doggett if this is Scully’s theory. Doggett covers for his absent partner, saying she hasn’t reached a conclusion yet. Kersh asks what Doggett’s going to do about this mystery.

As Doggett and Skinner leave the meeting, Doggett slams Skinner for not running his theory by him first. Skinner says Doggett’s supposed to be helping unravel everything. Doggett’s solution is pretty simple: Find Tipet. The man in question is still in Pittsburgh, being mean to a homeless guy before calling a medical lab from a payphone to be mean to someone working there named Andre. “You did this,” Tipet spits out. He hopes God can help Andre, because Tipet can’t. Instead of asking God for help, Andre takes a razor blade to his own forehead.

Skinner brings Doggett a report stating that all the victims in Pittsburgh were killed by a single blow from an axe. Doggett thinks he’s found it – it’s a ceremonial axe mentioned in some literature Tipet makes his followers read. It’s used to kill nonbelievers. It’s also in Calcutta. Doggett thinks Scully should be running the investigation, but Skinner says she’s taking some personal leave. Annoyed, Doggett starts to call her, but Skinner sternly tells him to leave her alone.

The homeless man Tipet was mean to encounters Tipet again, then somehow gets stuck in quicksand right on the sidewalk in Pittsburgh. Suddenly Tipet has an axe, which he swings at the man. In D.C., Doggett is up late reading up on Tipet when Skinner brings over news of the homeless man’s death. He thinks his theory about how Tipet commits murders is correct. Doggett wonders why a man who claims to be looking for God is killing people. Just because he’s working in the X-Files division doesn’t mean he’s going to think like Mulder and Scully.

Skinner has more evidence, though: Records from a nearby payphone show that a call was recently placed to Andre Bormanis, a prison buddy of Tipet’s who now lives in D.C. The agents go to Andre’s home, which is where he runs his lab, doing some sort of experiments on rats. He swears he doesn’t do anything illegal; he just makes hallucinogens for Tipet so he can open his consciousness. Skinner sees cuts on Andre’s forehead and asks if they’re related to Tipet’s beliefs. Andre says they’re for protection.

He claims that only Tipet takes the drugs because he thinks he’s the only person with a mind strong enough to handle them. Doggett asks if Andre and the cult members admire or fear Tipet. He wants to take Andre in for questioning, and has to keep him from taking something from a petri dish as they’re leaving. Andre begs not to be left alone in lockup, but Doggett ignores him.

Down the hall, Doggett sees bloody footprints on the floor that lead him to Tipet. He’s hovering in midair, and there’s an eye in the middle of his forehead. Doggett looks down and sees that he’s holding Scully’s severed head. Fortunately, this is all a dream. When he wakes up, Scully calls and thanks him for not telling Kersh that she’s sitting this case out. She’s asked Skinner to talk to some of Mulder’s friends for help with the case. She encourages Doggett to trust his instincts.

Tests show that Andre was cooking up some kind of amphetamine no one’s ever seen before. Doggett thinks Andre made it for himself, not Tipet. He needs a way to stay awake. He heads back to Andre’s cell, where Andre is being surprised by a visit from Tipet…though only he can see Tipet. Dozens of rats swarm into the cell and attack Andre. By the time Doggett and Skinner get to him, he’s dead.

Doggett goes to his office, where he meets the Lone Gunmen for the first time. Frohike and Langly think they have the right to look through the X-Files, since they’ve helped solve so many of them. Doggett is willing to accept their help. They have a slide show ready to educate him on the Sahasrara, or third eye. There’s a belief that opening it will allow one to see God. The guys have a side argument about whether or not Frohike was really on Ken Kesey’s bus in 1964.

Doggett can see a connection between the third eye and the victims’ wounds, though he still doesn’t get why Tipet would kill everyone. The Lone Gunmen bring up MK Ultra and the use of hallucinogens to try to create psychic assassins. Maybe Tipet was able to do it. Doggett notes that that would explain why Andre was afraid to fall asleep – Tipet would invade his consciousness and make his nightmares come true. Doggett himself doesn’t believe this possibility, but he knows that if Tipet does, he’ll seek out more drugs so he can keep killing. The Lone Gunmen are impressed with his work as a beginner.

Skinner goes with Doggett to look around Andre’s lab, where I hope someone’s taking care of the rats. Skinner thinks someone’s been there. Indeed, it’s Tipet, and he’s turned on a circular saw. The agents pull their guns and tell him to stay away from it. Tipet tells them he doesn’t want this to happen, but it has to. He’s the only one who can stop what’s happening. Then he lowers his head onto the saw.

Tipet’s rushed to the hospital, where Doggett sees Scully’s name on a sign-in sheet. She’s being seen for acute abdominal pain. After briefly looking in on her, Doggett meets with Skinner and Kersh to present his theory about Tipet opening his followers’ minds through the via negativa. Kersh accepts this idea and tells him to file a report. But Doggett says the case isn’t over. There’s no murder weapon or forensic evidence. They can’t explain how Tipet killed everyone. Kersh says firmly that the case is closed, even without all the details filled in.

Doggett leaves a message on Scully’s answering machine telling her that they seem to have caught the murderer, but he’s not satisfied with the ending of the case. He thinks Tipet may have been right, and they should have let him die. Maybe Doggett just needs sleep and will feel better about the case in the morning. Yeah, or maybe he’ll be murdered in his sleep, as he obviously fears, since he thinks he sees Tipet behind him in his mirror. Doggett goes up to bed, unaware that someone with an axe is in his house.

In the morning, Doggett looks in his mirror and sees an eye opening in his forehead. At work, no one notices it, but Skinner can tell that something’s off about Doggett. Doggett admits that he’s not sure he’s awake. He thinks he dreamed seeing Tipet in his house with an axe the night before. Skinner assures him that he’s awake. Doggett guesses that all of Tipet’s victims felt the same way – they were dreaming but didn’t realize it. Skinner says that Tipet’s in a coma and will never wake up, so Doggett’s safe. Doggett disagrees. Tipet knows him and could target him next.

Skinner sends Doggett home to rest, but before Doggett can leave the building, he comes across Tipet. “She’s going to die,” Tipet warns. Doggett thinks Tipet is threatening to kill Scully, but he’s actually predicting that Doggett will do it. Definitely in a dream, Doggett finds himself at Scully’s door with blood on his hands. He goes inside, somehow acquiring an axe. He approaches Scully’s bed, where she’s asleep, and raises the weapon…then tosses it aside. He picks it up again and starts to swing it toward his own head.

Scully wakes Doggett up in his own bed, and he tells her she saved his life. She reports that Tipet is dead, having never regained consciousness. Scully’s fine and ready to go back to work. Doggett says that Tipet thought he could look into the darkness inside himself and find God. But when Doggett looked into his own darkness, he only saw violence. Maybe those images came from somewhere else. Scully tells him it was just a nightmare, nothing else. Doggett doesn’t seem to believe her.

Thoughts: Okay, who ordered The Skinner and Doggett Show?

Tipet, if you don’t have any spare change, just walk away. Murder is not a proportionate response.

Does this mean the homeless man’s worst fear was drowning in quicksand? I get it; I saw The Neverending Story.

July 14, 2018

The X-Files 8.2, Without: Trust No One, Indeed

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:01 pm by Jenn

“I gotta work on my tortured-loner look”

Summary: Scully voices over stuff about darkness and the stuff we don’t see and secrets. There’s a UFO. Okay, show, let’s get on with it. We pick up with the end of “Within,” and Doggett finding Gibson with Mulder, or at least someone who looks like Mulder. Doggett orders him to let Gibson go, and as soon as Mulder does, Gibson runs off. Doggett asks Mulder if he’s armed, but Mulder just stands and stares at him. When Doggett tells him to get on the ground, Mulder slowly backs up to the edge of the cliff they’re on and lets himself fall off. He looks dead for a minute, but he’s not. By the time Scully and Skinner reach Doggett and the other agents, Mulder’s gone.

Since Mulder just fell off a cliff, then ran away like nothing happened, Scully knows they’re really dealing with the Bounty Hunter. Doggett wonders who the Bounty Hunter wants a bounty for. Scully says it’s Gibson and explains how he’s part alien. Doggett notes that Scully’s theory sounds a lot like something Mulder would believe. She invites him to come up with a better idea. Skinner notes that, with the Bounty Hunter in play, it’ll be hard to know if the people they’re working with are really the people they appear to be. Scully thinks Mulder would find this all amusing.

Doggett heads back to Gibson’s school, but the boy hasn’t returned there. He decides they need to search again. The Bounty Hunter is also there, and he turns himself into a teacher to fool Doggett. Scully and Skinner arrive and wonder how Doggett knew to look for Gibson at the school. They figure since Gibson can read thoughts, he’s three steps ahead of them and won’t be returning to the school. They spot a girl taking a bike and leaving the school grounds. Scully follows her as Skinner talks to the teacher the Bounty Hunter is pretending to be.

Somehow Scully manages to keep up with the girl on the bike for a while, but she eventually loses her. Scully realizes the desert ground she’s standing on is actually the roof of an underground bunker. She goes inside and finds the girl and Gibson. Gibson’s worried that Scully will lead the aliens to her, but she insists that she can protect him. The girl, Thea, is worried, and Scully says she has a right to be – now they can’t be sure who to trust.

Gibson has injured his leg, so Scully tends to him the best she can, but she’ll have to go get a car to get him out of town. Gibson reminds her that she promised to take care of him in the past, but that didn’t turn out so great for him. Back at the school, Doggett gets a call from Kersh, who’d love to know how it’s possible that Doggett found Mulder, then lost him in the middle of the desert. I think Doggett would like to know that, too.

Skinner realizes that Kersh was spying on him and Scully, which is how Doggett knew where to look for Gibson. He’s just a pawn. Doggett is a good agent – he’s even been talked about as a potential future director – but he’s being set up to fail. The only way he can find Mulder is to listen to Scully and accept the truth. But even then, he’ll lose, because he can’t file a report mentioning aliens or the Bounty Hunter. Kersh doesn’t want Doggett to succeed.

Doggett realizes Scully is MIA and tells his agents to get in touch with her. The Bounty Hunter turns into her inside the school just as the real Scully returns outside. She, Skinner, and Doggett head inside to nab the Bounty Hunter, but he realizes he’s been found out. He strangles another agent and makes a break for it. Scully thinks she’s tracked down her twin, but it’s just her reflection in a mirror. The strangled agent is the only one who saw the fake Scully. The real one figures that the Bounty Hunter is now posing as someone else. Thea catches on and realizes that the Bounty Hunter has turned into a teacher again.

Apparently Scully’s dreams about Mulder undergoing alien testing are contagious, since he has one in his underground hideout. Scully starts to head back there, but Skinner spots her and stops her. She thinks he’s the Bounty Hunter and pulls her gun on him. They have a standoff for a little while, but Skinner backs down first, knowing he can prove who he is. After all, he knows Scully’s secret. When he mentions her pregnancy, she knows he’s the real Skinner.

He thinks this has gone too far, but she says it hasn’t gone far enough. She needs to leave without letting Doggett find out. Skinner reminds her that she promised Mulder wouldn’t let him ruin his career over this pursuit for the truth. But what about Scully? She has more at stake now than Skinner ever has. Scully emotionally says that she can’t take the chance that she’ll never see Mulder again. Gibson is their last chance, and if they don’t get back to him, they may lose that chance. Thea watches them drive off.

Gibson’s not in the bunker anymore, but since he was trying to make an escape on an injured leg, he hasn’t gotten very far. He tells Scully that Mulder is nearby. Scully thinks Gibson’s just delirious from a fever, but he tells her she’s close to finding her partner. She sends Skinner to the hospital with the boy while she stays behind to look for Mulder. Sometime later, Gibson wakes up in the hospital, agitated. Skinner tries to calm him as Thea appears.

In the desert, Scully calls for her partner/boyfriend/baby daddy but gets no response. She sees a light in the sky and thinks it’s from a UFO. It’s not – it’s just Doggett’s helicopter. She accuses him of following her, but he says he’s just going where the action is. Scully notes that the fact that the action is wherever she is should mean something. The two fight for a little while about the truth and their theories about what’s going on. Doggett wonders what Scully would do if she found Mulder out there. She says she’d do whatever it took. To do…what? I don’t know.

Doggett’s annoyed that Scully didn’t tell him where Gibson was. He knows that Skinner took the boy to the hospital. Scully asks how he knows that. Doggett says the only thing he knows about the case is that Mulder is going to look for Gibson. When Mulder turns up, Doggett will grab him. Scully realizes that Doggett had his agents follow Skinner, but how can he know for sure that they’re all his guys? They fly off to the hospital, not seeing a nearby UFO, which holds Mulder, positioned for testing just like he is in Scully and Gibson’s dreams.

At the hospital, the agents assigned to keep Gibson safe insist that they’ve been successful. Scully asks if Doggett believes that. They go to Gibson’s room, but it’s empty. The only way Gibson and Skinner could have left the room without agents seeing them is through the ceiling. Scully tracks them down, and Skinner confirms that they escaped through the ceiling. He didn’t know if he could trust Doggett’s agents, so they moved to another room. But just then, Doggett finds someone hiding in the ceiling – someone who looks just like Skinner.

Gibson is able to signal to Scully that her Skinner is a fake. The Bounty Hunter tosses her around, which can’t be good for the baby. She’s able to grab her gun and shoot him, which makes him bleed green, then melt into a puddle of goo. Scully collapses and cries. Doggett comforts her, but it’s just not the same as it would be if he were Mulder.

Everyone returns to D.C., where Doggett shows Kersh pictures that should prove that all this crazy stuff actually happened. But Kersh is the new Skinner, which means he doesn’t believe Doggett’s report. Doggett knows Kersh was setting him up to look crazy, but Kersh tells him to go look for more answers.

Instead, Doggett visits Scully in the hospital and does Mulder’s usual end-of-episode case wrap-up. Skinner is okay, and Gibson is safe. And if this weren’t enough of an indication that Doggett is the new Mulder, he tells her he’s now officially part of the X-Files. He promises his new partner that he’ll find Mulder. Well, he’d better hurry, because it’s time for Mulder to undergo more tests.

Thoughts: I wish we’d gotten a whole episode of Gibson at the school. What a smart idea to stash a mind-reader at a school where he doesn’t speak the language – he can still communicate with people.

Scully and Skinner need a code word so they always know they’re talking to each other, not an imposter. Of course, if Mulder were there, he’d call it a safe word.

Why is it that the Bounty Hunter needs his special alien ice pick to kill, but he could be brought down by a regular old bullet? Did I miss something? Don’t email me; I don’t care. He’s dead.

July 7, 2018

The X-Files 8.1, Within: Doggett Is the New Mulder, But Scully and Skinner Are Also the New Mulder

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:04 pm by Jenn

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Ha ha, just kidding

Summary: Scully wakes from a dream in which Mulder is undergoing a procedure that doesn’t look very comfortable. After a clip-show recap of “Requiem,” Scully stares at herself in a mirror for a while as she finishes getting ready for the day. At work, some agents are going through the stuff in her and Mulder’s office, hoping for something that will help them find Mulder. Scully tells them they’re wasting their time looking for him. She wants to know whose idea it was to search.

Skinner has just heard about the manhunt as well, and agrees with Scully that the FBI won’t find Mulder. However, he thinks he can. Scully wonders who’s going over Skinner’s head to organize the search. Skinner tells her it’s their new deputy director: Kersh. He’s been promoted, and he hopes Scully and Skinner will cooperate with the search. He’s assigned Special Agent John Doggett to lead the taskforce to find Mulder. Kersh warns the agents not to bring aliens or anything paranormal into the hunt. If they do, they’re fired.

Scully and Skinner know that Kersh has only organized a search to make the FBI look better. Scully thinks the bureau would be happier if Mulder stayed missing. Skinner has to go make a statement, and he’s decided to tell the truth: He saw a UFO. Scully reminds him that that’s exactly what Kersh doesn’t want him to say. Skinner doesn’t care – he won’t sell Mulder out. Scully asks what good it’ll do Mulder if Skinner risks his job.

As Skinner heads in to give his statement, Scully sits in a waiting area and chats with another agent. He gets her a cup of water and tells her he’s there to help develop a character background for Mulder. He’s not sure the agents can ever really know each other, even their partners. Scully disagrees, sure she knows Mulder as well as anyone else does.

The agent says he’s heard the rumors about the two of them – not that they were involved, but that Mulder never really trusted Scully. He confided in other women instead. Scully’s hurt. The agent asks Scully what she thinks happened to Mulder. She tells him he doesn’t know Mulder at all, and never did. She turns the agent’s badge around, having realized that he’s Doggett. Then she throws her water in his face.

At home that night, Scully looks up Doggett in the FBI’s database. He was a Marine and New York police officer before joining the bureau. She has to pause her investigation to run to the bathroom and throw up (I guess her morning sickness doesn’t just come in the morning). She tries to call her mom, leaving a message that they need to talk. There’s a click on the line, like someone’s picked up the phone, but no one says anything.

Scully sees movement on the street outside her window and calls Doggett to tell him to stay out of her business. She thinks he’s tapped her phone and is having her watched. He’s confused. Scully sees someone moving around outside her apartment door and runs to the hallway with her gun, but the only person she finds is her landlord. He tells her he saw Mulder in the hall. Scully returns to her apartment, thinking Mulder will be waiting for her there, but he’s not. Her computer’s missing, though.

Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment, where his computer is also missing. She goes to bed holding one of Mulder’s shirts and has another dream about him undergoing alien testing. It involves having the roof of his mouth drilled open. Cheery! Meanwhile, Skinner meets up with the Lone Gunmen, who have hacked into some satellites to look into Mulder’s abduction. They can’t get the data they need to figure out where the UFO went after that. Skinner thinks this is the path that will lead them to Mulder.

At FBI headquarters, Doggett and Kersh talk about their experiences in the military (Kersh served in Vietnam) before Doggett confirms that he’s really in charge of the search for Mulder. Kersh hasn’t asked anyone else to head up another search, has he? You know, someone who might now be keeping tabs on Scully? Kersh says no, then tells Doggett that this is his chance to show the bureau how good he is at his job.

Scully’s asleep on Mulder’s couch when Doggett shows up at his apartment. She says she came to feed the fish and then took a nap. She doesn’t like Doggett’s attitude with her; he might have been able to get away with it when he was an NYPD officer, but he needs to change his tone when speaking to a fellow FBI agent. Doggett points out that she yelled at him on the phone, so she’s not exactly showing him the same respect she wants from him. He claims he’s not watching her; he’s also just there to feed the fish.

Scully mocks that Doggett would have no idea where to find Mulder. He tells her he knows what happened, or at least what Scully’s going to say happened. He doesn’t get how a scientist would believe that someone was abducted by aliens. Scully repeats her typical stance that she’s seen things she can’t explain, and she can’t just dismiss them because someone doesn’t believe. Doggett asks for help figuring out, from Mulder’s rental-car records, where he went on four consecutive weekends. Scully doesn’t know, so Doggett says what he said before: Maybe she doesn’t know her partner as well as she thinks she did.

Doggett, Scully, and Skinner are all summoned to the office, and Skinner is questioned about some files that were removed after hours. Whoever came in used Mulder’s pass card. Skinner said in his statement that Mulder felt threatened by the FBI. Maybe he’s gone rogue. Skinner clarifies that Mulder felt threatened by budget cuts. He thinks Mulder was only after the truth; he wouldn’t retaliate against the bureau. Kersh says they’re after the truth, too.

An agent gives Skinner some phone logs showing that he was in the office late the previous night. Maybe he used Mulder’s pass card. After all, Skinner was the last person to see Mulder. Scully tells Doggett that Skinner’s telling the truth, and he wouldn’t have used Mulder’s pass card. Doggett believes this, but he also knows that someone used Mulder’s credit card to buy flowers in Raleigh a couple days ago. Scully says that that’s where Teena’s buried; Mulder must have been going to her grave those four weekends. Doggett says that’s one reason.

Someone opens a crate containing a headstone with all four Mulder family members’ names on it. This floors Scully, who sits and stares at it for a while. Skinner comes by later, and both say they’re not sure what to think. Doggett joins them with Mulder’s medical records, which mention his brain problems the previous year. That combined with the headstone, which apparently Mulder ordered, make Doggett think that he was dying. Maybe Scully really didn’t know her partner after all.

Doggett asks how badly Mulder would want to prove his theories if he thought he was dying. He was about to lose his job and his life; why not go all out? He could have stolen files from the office, as well as Scully’s and his own computers, either in a final attempt to figure out the truth or because he wanted to cover it up. Maybe he even staged his own disappearance. Skinner won’t deny what he saw, and he tells Doggett all about it. Scully asks Doggett not to report it.

Skinner and Scully go to the Lone Gunmen to continue tracking the UFO’s path. Skinner thinks it’s in Arizona. Langly suggests figuring out who the aliens want to abduct next, and finding that person first. Scully starts putting it all together: Mulder isn’t the one removing evidence of aliens, it’s the aliens themselves. The proof of their existence isn’t in a computer or a file, but in a person. In his office, Doggett comes across info on that same person: Gibson Praise.

He tells his taskforce that Mulder thought Gibson could read minds and might have alien physiology. He thinks Mulder is looking for Gibson, so if they find the boy, they’ll find Mulder. Doggett tells another agent to send out Mulder’s picture to the press so everyone in the southwest knows what he looks like. On the way to find Gibson, Scully has another dream about Mulder undergoing testing. She and Skinner are searching on their own, but Doggett has the benefit of a helicopter and a bunch of agents, so they know Gibson’s living at a school for deaf children in Flemingtown, Arizona.

While she and Skinner are stopped at a gas station, Scully sees something appear in the distance, then disappear. They’ve also tracked Gibson to the school, and are just 20 minutes away. Gibson is called to the principal’s office, where another student gives him a weird look.

Doggett arrives just moments before Scully and Skinner, but Gibson, being psychic, knows he’s being pursued and escapes through a window. Now, instead of searching for Mulder, everyone’s on the hunt for Gibson. Whoever finds him first leads him off to the mountains, and Doggett follows their footprints. Eventually, he catches up to them as Gibson asks for release from his captor: Mulder. To be continued…

Thoughts: Giving agents access to the FBI database from their home computers seems like a good way for confidential information to get out.

No wonder the number-crunchers were upset with Mulder in “Requiem” – he was using bureau money to rent a car to go to his mother’s grave. Come on, Fox.

The cliffhanger would be a lot more…cliffhanger-y if they didn’t show Gibson trying to fight Mulder. He trusts Mulder, so his objections make it obvious that that’s not Mulder.

November 18, 2017

The X-Files 6.12, One Son: No, Seriously, Trust No One

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

“What do you mean, this ‘isn’t an appropriate substitute’ for our loved ones? We folded it into a triangle!”

Summary: Mulder voices over about two fathers, CSM and Bill Mulder, who fought a 50-year war that served as the “dawn of Armageddon.” We flash back to October 13th, 1973, as the men in question gather at an airplane hangar to greet a group of aliens with an American flag. Mulder says they had to choose between fighting or fleeing.

Back in the present, Cassandra’s pleas for Mulder to shoot her are interrupted by a bunch of men in Hazmat suits who spray them and the apartment with something. They explain that they’re with the CDC and are quarantining Mulder, Scully, and Cassandra. Fowley’s with them, and she tells them they’ve come into contact with “a contagion of unknown origin.” The agents undergo decontamination showers and try not to look at each other naked. They’re then scanned with meters, but the men in Hazmat suits won’t tell them anything about what’s going on.

Scully guesses they’re at Fort Marlene, a facility equipped for high-risk contamination. Fowley apologizes to the agents for how the quarantine had to begin, but Cassandra underwent an experiment that killed seven doctors, so they have to take a lot of precautions. Scully points out that Cassandra was in a regular hospital for a week, and only then did Spender tell Fowley to call in the CDC. It looks really suspicious. No one’s sick, so why has Cassandra been isolated?

Mulder tries to quiet Scully, who’s determined to see Cassandra. Fowley reminds Scully that she was suspended from the FBI, so she has no rights. As the agents go to get new clothes, Scully makes sure Mulder knows how much she despises Fowley. She thinks they’re using Cassandra’s supposed infection as an excuse to stage a “high-tech government kidnapping.” But Mulder says Skinner told him he heard Spender calling the CDC.

Scully reminds her partner that Cassandra wasn’t sick; she just asked Mulder to kill her so all the tests and questioning will stop. Scully can relate, since she was also abducted and then underwent scrutiny afterward. She believes that Cassandra has been taken away so the process can continue. Mulder disagrees – he thinks Cassandra really is “the one.”

Krycek looks over Cassandra’s medical records and tells CSM and some other Syndicate members that Mulder’s suspicions seem to be correct. The rebel aliens want to keep the Syndicate from killing her. They know that when the aliens learn about her, colonization will begin. CSM thinks that’s exactly what should happen. They need to hand Cassandra over to the aliens and save themselves.

A Syndicate man argues that this is what Bill warned them would happen. CSM reminds him that Bill sacrificed Samantha because he know this day would come. They don’t have a choice now, if they want their living loved ones to stay living, and their dead loved ones to come back.

The agents are, indeed, at Fort Marlene, and not under much security, since Mulder’s allowed to wander around in search of a pair of shoes that fit. He spots a familiar woman and follows her to a room full of plastic-covered equipment. It’s Marita, and her eyes are red from all the Syndicate’s tests. She tells Mulder that Cassandra’s part of the hybrid program, but Marita was infected with the black oil so a vaccine/cure could be tested on her.

Mulder realizes that the hybrid program was never expected to succeed. It was just a way to buy time while the vaccine/cure was developed. Cassandra was an accidental success. Marita knows that colonization will begin if the aliens learn about her.

Spender and Fowley visit Cassandra, telling her they’re keeping her there to protect her from CSM. Spender promises that she won’t have to undergo any more tests. Cassandra tells him that he doesn’t understand what will happen to both of them if “they” find her out. She’s willing to be hurt or even killed if it means everyone else on the planet is protected. Spender just leaves the room.

I guess the quarantine’s over, because Mulder and Scully go see the Lone Gunmen. Scully asked the guys to dig up info on Fowley, and she wants to present Mulder with the truth about a woman he thinks he can trust. She spent seven years in Europe, working with a counter-terrorism unit, but there’s no information available on what she did there. Her travel records were purged from her FBI files, but the Lone Gunmen were able to find out that she traveled to all sorts of MUFON chapters.

Mulder doesn’t find this significant, but Scully thinks Fowley was monitoring abductees and the tests they underwent. She points out that Cassandra is the ultimate test subject, and Fowley’s watching over her – it all makes sense. Scully can prove or disprove Mulder’s beliefs, but not when Fowley is keeping them from seeing Cassandra. Why did Fowley come back into Mulder’s life just when he was getting closer than ever to the truth?

Scully says that Mulder always tells her to trust no one, but he trusts Fowley. Mulder argues that Scully hasn’t given him any reasons not to. Scully replies that she can no longer help him. Maybe she’s making things personal, but without the FBI, that’s all she has. If Mulder takes that away, there’s no point in her continuing.

Mulder goes to the Watergate Apartments to see Fowley; when she doesn’t answer her door, he picks the lock. He searches through her things for a minute, then gets interrupted by CSM. Mulder pulls a gun on him and reveals that he knows CSM’s real name. He has nothing to lose now. CSM says that Mulder couldn’t shoot him the last time he had the opportunity; why should this time be any different?

CSM says he’s looking for Spender to confront him for switching sides. Mulder doesn’t know how CSM can think his side is the wrong one, since the Syndicate’s side is the one doing experiments on innocent women. CSM says Bill had the same views back in the ’70s, but he came around to CSM’s side and gave up Samantha. Mulder says that Bill was forced to give her up. CSM tells him he’s wrong.

Over another flashback to 1973, CSM tells Mulder that their super-top-secret group had voted to align with the aliens. Bill objected, even though the agreement meant avoiding an alien invasion. CSM argues that they saved billions of lives, including Mulder’s. We see Bill arguing with CSM as the group’s family members, including Cassandra, arrive at the hangar. Mulder realizes that the men willingly gave up their family members “like they were things.”

CSM says the family members were sent away because it was the right thing. They would be experimented on, but they would come back to their families. The men made the painful decision to let the aliens take their loved ones, and they had to watch it happen. Mulder points out that Samantha was taken from the family’s house, not a hangar. CSM tells him that Bill refused to give up a member of his family, but the aliens insisted on taking someone. Without Samantha, the Syndicate couldn’t proceed.

The aliens provided the Syndicate with an alien fetus, from which they could use an alien genome to create an alien/human hybrid. They would create a new race that could survive the alien holocaust. Mulder would also survive, and live to be reunited with Samantha. CSM confirms that the plan was just to stall and use the alien DNA to make a vaccine/cure. Now it’s too late, and colonization will begin.

First a state of emergency will be declared. Then the bees will deliver the alien virus. Then the aliens will take over. CSM knows his only choice is to hand over Cassandra. Mulder tells him to stop it, or he will. CSM says he won’t if he wants to see Samantha again. Mulder points his gun at CSM again, demanding that he stop the colonization so people won’t die. His mistake is thinking that CSM cares about anyone except himself. Bill wanted Mulder and Samantha to be reunited, and Mulder will realize that, as his father’s son. If he doesn’t, he’ll “die in vain” with everyone else. “Save her. Save yourself,” CSM says.

Spender goes looking for CSM at the Syndicate’s headquarters in New York, but Krycek tells him that the group has all dispersed. They’re in West Virginia, awaiting colonization. CSM is going to get Cassandra, and the guards Spender has watching her will most likely not be any match for him. Krycek is right, and CSM’s people easily get access to her and drug her, even as she swears and yells at them.

CSM wants to chat with his ex before they go on their road trip, which means he has to listen to her call him a bastard and a coward. He wants to talk about the future, not the past. Cassandra notes that he stole her past from her. CSM says that they’re only alive because of what he did in the past. Cassandra didn’t understand before why she was abducted and experimented on, but now she knows it was because of CSM.

He swears that he wanted to save her and Spender, not cause any harm. Cassandra says that CSM can never save Spender now that he knows what his father has done. The only way to save everyone on the planet is if CSM kills Cassandra. But CSM still can’t do it.

Mulder’s still at Fowley’s apartment when she gets home. He tells her he came looking for evidence that her loyalties are with anyone other than him and the X-Files. Though he didn’t find anything, fate found him. He realized that the choices he thought he had in life were made for him. Mulder says that CSM is looking for Spender, who’s now fighting for the same cause Mulder used to fight for.

Mulder now knows it’s futile, though, since there’s no way to stop the colonization. Giving up is the only way to save everyone. Mulder gives Fowley the location of the first steps of the colonization process, El Rico Air Force Base. They need to go there if they want to survive. In response, Fowley kisses Mulder.

Spender goes looking for Cassandra at Fort Marlene but instead comes across Marita. She asks him for help, knowing that the Syndicate is going to abandon her there. He doesn’t know her, but she knows who he is and claims she can help him, since she knows where Cassandra is being taken.

Someone retrieves the alien fetus from a cryolab, warning an intruder that she’s at risk for contamination. The intruder is actually an alien rebel, though, so she’s not too worried. Meanwhile, Mulder calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to tell her that he and Fowley are coming to get her. Scully wants to take Mulder to Cassandra; Spender told her they’re taking his mother back to Potomac Yard.

The agents head over and, for some reason, fire their guns at the train car carrying Cassandra. They don’t stop it, but at least now the experimenters on the train know they’ve been found out. Mulder and Scully get a ride to El Rico from Skinner, where others have already gathered. CSM and Cassandra join them, and CSM tells the other Syndicate members about the gunfire at Potomac Yard. He notices that Krycek isn’t there.

That’s because Krycek is back at Fort Marlene to get the alien fetus. Of course, it’s already gone. On his way out, he runs into Spender, who says that security won’t let him take Marita out of the facility. He wants to help her tell her story of what CSM did to her. Krycek tells Spender it doesn’t matter – the rebels took what they came for, so they’re going to win.

Fowley arrives at El Rico just as the aliens arrive, reenacting the scene from 1973. The Syndicate members are confused; supposedly no one contacted the aliens to tell them they were ready. There’s a mole in the group, one of the rebels, and he alerted his buddies that it was time to attack. As CSM and Fowley escape, the other Syndicate members and their loved ones are burned alive.

Kersh receives photos of the aftermath from Mulder, Scully, Skinner, and Spender, and expresses sympathy over the (alleged) death of Cassandra. (She’ll be in season 11, so who knows?) Spender takes responsibility for all the deaths, and credits Mulder and Scully for their work trying to prevent them. He thinks Mulder and Scully should be reinstated to the X-Files division so they can prevent worse things from happening. Spender himself is ready to leave the FBI.

Kersh asks why Mulder never gave him any answers before now. Mulder’s like, “I’ve spent years saying this stuff; no one ever listened to me.” The Syndicate members made the choice long ago to align themselves with the bad guys, but instead, they allowed another enemy to take hold. “The future is here. All bets are off,” he says. Kersh asks Scully to make some sense of this, but Scully sides with Mulder.

Spender finds CSM in his office, looking at a picture of himself with Bill in 1973. He tells Spender who Bill is, that he was a good man who betrayed CSM. Spender isn’t up for a father/son reunion, and CSM isn’t that surprised, though he’d hoped his son would honor him “like Bill Mulder’s son.” CSM pulls a gun and seemingly shoots Spender, then leaves with the picture.

Thoughts: It’s not mentioned in the episode, but IMDb lists a character as “C.G.B. Spender’s daughter,” indicating that he and Cassandra had another child, and she was the one CSM gave up to the aliens. That would definitely explain why Cassandra hates him so much.

What kind of lax medical facility is Fort Marlene running, where Mulder and Marita could cross paths?

And in a similar vein, Fowley should have better security for someone who works on such super-top-secret projects.

The scene where Mulder and Scully shoot at the train is so unintentionally funny. What, exactly, did they think the bullets would do?

November 4, 2017

The X-Files 6.10, Tithonus: What’s Black and White and Dead All Over?

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

Fellig looks like a woman who just had a man tell her to smile

Summary: A woman delivers mail in an office building in New York City, quickly realizing that a man is following her. She speeds up, rushing to get on an elevator so she can get away from her stalker. But he follows her, seeing the reflections of everyone else in the elevator in black and white, while he remains in color. He gets off, and the woman relaxes. The man runs down the stairs as the elevator starts to shake and the power goes out. The elevator plummets, and the man is there to take a picture of the aftermath.

In D.C., Mulder and Scully are still conducting background checks, and still bored with their new roles. Mulder won’t quit, though, since he knows that’s what the agency wants. Scully gets a call summoning her to Kersh’s office – just her, not Mulder. He thinks she’s going to be punished even further.

Instead, Kersh introduces Scully to Agent Peyton Ritter, who’s from the New York office. He was scanning old crime-scene photos when he found one of Margereta Stoller, a woman who overdosed on nitrous oxide. She supposedly died at 11:14, though the clock in the photo states an earlier time. Another photo states a later time. Both photos were taken by Alfred Fellig, a photographer often used by the NYPD. He’s the man from the elevator.

Ritter suspects that Fellig killed Margereta, then came back an hour later to take photos for his job. Thanks to shadows, Ritter has discovered the same weirdness at three other crime scenes. Scully points out that the victims all died by different methods, so if they were killed by the same person, he doesn’t have a consistent M.O. Ritter hopes that Scully can help him unravel what’s happening. Kersh dismisses him from the room, then tells Scully he wants her to work the case with Ritter. Mulder isn’t invited.

In New York, Fellig watches a man get off a bus, seeing him in black and white. The man goes to his apartment building and promptly has a heart attack. Fellig spies on him through the window and takes pictures of the man’s dying moments instead of calling for help.

Back in D.C., Mulder looks into the Fellig case himself, giving Scully some suggestions of what might be going on. She denies that this will be a permanent arrangement; they won’t be split up permanently. Mulder knows that if she does a good job on this case, she won’t be doing any more background checks. Mulder meets Ritter and manages not to get territorial over his partner.

Scully and Ritter head to New York to talk to an NYPD officer about Fellig. Ironically, Scully has to look through Fellig’s background check for more information. In all the photos of Fellig through the years, since 1964, he looks exactly the same. Ritter calls him “a regular Dick Clark.” (Unlike Fellig, that joke didn’t age well.) He’s starting to think this approach is a dead end.

In the Bronx, a man runs down a street, yelling for someone to call the police. He ends up in an alley, struggling with a man who robs him at knifepoint. The robber hears the sound of a camera, sees Fellig, and runs off. Fellig approaches the robbery victim and snaps a photo of his body. Behind him, the robber is ready to claim another victim. He stabs Fellig and takes his camera. But Fellig just pulls the knife out of his back and walks away, leaving it behind in a pool of his blood.

Scully and Ritter wind up with the knife and tie it to Fellig via his fingerprints. They guess that he killed the robbery victim, as well as another person whose body isn’t there. Another officer tells the agents that Fellig has been found. He’s brought to the police station for questioning, specifically about how he’s always on the scene when someone dies. “I have a nose for news,” Fellig quips. He claims that the robber chased him but ran off. He must have touched the knife after the robber dropped it.

Scully notices that Fellig seems to be in pain; she guesses the blood from the second victim was his. He admits that he was cut and shows the agents his wounds. Ritter sends Fellig to get his blood drawn and have his wounds photographed (presumably by someone other than Fellig). Ritter wonders why Scully seems to be trying to get Fellig cleared. She replies that she thought they were looking for the truth.

Mulder calls Scully and says in a goofy voice that they used to sit next to each other at the FBI. She tells him the Fellig case isn’t an X-File, but they haven’t made much progress. They had to let Fellig go. Mulder looks up the robber, Wiggins, and confesses that he’s been keeping an eye on the case via the progress reports Ritter’s been sending Kersh, which Mulder’s computer happens to be “intercepting.” The good news is that Ritter has been saying nice things about Scully. Mulder offers to run a background check on Fellig, since that’s his job now.

That night, Scully takes over Ritter’s spot in a stakeout of Fellig’s apartment building. She looks at the crime-scene photos again and notices something that piques her interest. She then hears the sound of a camera coming from Fellig’s apartment. She goes up to ask about the photo from the scene of Margereta’s death and asks flat-out why he keeps showing up at crime scenes early, then coming back to take photos. Fellig offers to show her what’s going on if she’ll go for a drive with him.

He takes her to a street corner and tells Scully that the prostitute hanging out there is going to die. He takes out his camera, ready to capture it on film. Scully thinks Fellig is saying that the prostitute is going to be murdered. Fellig says he doesn’t know how people will die, just when. As usual, Scully’s skeptical, but a man approaches the prostitute and starts hassling her, making it look like she will, in fact, be murdered. Scully jumps out of the car to arrest the man and save his potential victim. But as the prostitute is walking away, she gets hit by a truck. Nice try, though, Scully.

The next morning, Scully brings the man in for possession of an unlicensed gun. Ritter blasts her for talking to Fellig instead of continuing the stakeout. She passes on his claim that he knows when people are going to die, though that’s not something they can arrest him for. Ritter disagrees – he questioned Wiggins, who says that Fellig killed the robbery victim. Scully doesn’t think they can take the word of a man who’s already a convicted felon, but Ritter doesn’t care. They can still arrest Fellig.

Ritter tells Scully that Kersh warned him about her. If she screws up his case, Kersh will hear about it. He asks “Dana” if they’re clear. Scully icily makes it clear that that’s not the name she prefers. Her real partner calls, and she tells him that it turns out the case is an X-File after all. Mulder isn’t surprised, since Fellig appears to be 149 years old. Alfred Fellig doesn’t exist before 1964, but his fingerprints match those of a Henry Strand, who applied for a press pass in 1939, at the age of 53. And before that, another man with the same fingerprints was born in 1849.

Scully knows that Fellig can’t be more than 65. Mulder says that that’s just what he wants her to think. He points out that, for someone like Fellig, “life in prison” means something more significant than it would for another criminal. He thinks Scully should track him down before he changes his identity again and disappears.

Scully does exactly that, going to Fellig’s apartment to warn that he’ll be arrested and charged with murder in a couple of hours. He tells her that all he does is take pictures; he doesn’t kill people. Scully’s disgusted that he profits off of people’s deaths and doesn’t try to help them. Fellig admits that he doesn’t feel sorry for them – in fact, he’s jealous of them. Fellig doesn’t take their lives; “he does.” Scully asks who “he” is, but Fellig doesn’t explain.

Scully follows Fellig into his darkroom, seeing a picture from the elevator. He points out a lens flare and tells her that it’s a photo of Death himself. He takes pictures to try to get a better glimpse. Scully doesn’t buy it, but she wonders why Fellig wants a picture of Death. He says that he wants to look into Death’s face so he can die. No other method of trying to end his life has worked. “I got left behind,” he says. He can’t remember a time when he wanted to be alive. “This is all I know to do.”

Despite Scully’s assertion that she doesn’t believe him, Fellig thinks she does – that’s why she’s there. She looks at some of his other photos, including one from 1928, and asks how he knows when people are about to die. He says it’s something he’s picked up over the years. Scully gets overwhelmed and leaves to call Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”). She gives him the name of the photographer who took the 1928 picture, Louis Brady, so he can find out if it’s one of Fellig’s former identities. Fellig overhears the conversation, and when Scully returns to the darkroom, he bumps into her and steals her cell phone.

Mulder looks up Louis Brady and confirms that he’s Fellig. He also committed two homicides in 1929. Unable to reach Scully, since Fellig turned off her phone, Mulder calls Ritter and tells him that Fellig is a murderer. He killed two people, hoping to “catch up with death,” and served a year in prison before simply walking off a work detail. Mulder tells Ritter not to worry about the math, but just go save Scully from Fellig.

Scully wonders how Fellig can feel like he’s lived enough. There’s so much for him to learn. Fellig, however, feels like he’s missing out on something that everyone else gets to experience. Scully asks about love, but Fellig notes that that doesn’t necessarily last forever. He was married once, but it was so long ago that he’s forgotten her name. He doesn’t like that he’s still around after someone he loved has left him. Suddenly, he sees Scully in black and white and tells her to count her blessings.

Scully asks Fellig why, if all he says is true, he is this way. She needs science to explain this. Fellig says that he had yellow fever decades ago, and survived when so many didn’t. He saw Death in a contagion ward, taking people all around him. Fellig worried that, if he saw Death’s face, Death would take him, too. When Death came, Fellig turned away, and Death killed a nurse instead. Fellig feels like the nurse took his place. Now he knows that you have to be careful what you wish for. He missed his chance to die, but Scully’s lucky.

She realizes that Fellig took her picture from his apartment the night before – does that mean she’s going to die. Fellig starts to take another photo, but Scully handcuffs him so he can’t. She looks for her phone, asking why Fellig took it. What doesn’t he want her to know? He calmly tells her that Death is coming and Scully should make her peace with it.

The curtain to the darkroom is pulled aside, and Fennig raises his camera to capture a picture of Death. Instead, Ritter’s there. He shoots Fellig, hitting him through his camera and shattering the lens. He realizes too late that the bullet has also passed into Scully. Ritter runs off to get help.

Fellig’s blood pours out of him, through his camera. He picks up another one and starts to take Scully’s picture, seeing her in black and white. “Did you see him?” he asks her. “Don’t look. Close your eyes.” She does, and as Fellig takes her hand, he turns black and white as well, taking Scully’s place.

A week later, Scully’s recovering at NYU’s hospital, with Mulder nearby. He tells Ritter he was lucky, I guess since he didn’t accidentally kill a fellow FBI agent. Fellig’s coroner’s report just says that he died of a gunshot wound. Scully, on the other hand, is recovering quickly. She murmurs that people don’t live forever, but Mulder isn’t sure. Maybe “Death only looks for you once you seek its opposite.”

Thoughts: Ritter is played by a pre-Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place Richard Ruccolo.

I wish they’d written Fellig less two-dimensionally, but I guess he’s supposed to be depressed. Still, Ritter’s the more interesting character. It’s hard to feel sympathy for Fellig. Like, do something meaningful with your 149 years.

So after this episode and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” the question is: Is Scully immortal? Discuss.

September 23, 2017

The X-Files 6.4, Dreamland: The Man in the Mirror

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

I want to know who thought this was a good idea

Summary: Mulder and Scully are on a highway in Nevada, on their way to meet a source. Scully’s skeptical, as usual, thinking the source is just a sci-fi-loving nerd who won’t have anything useful to say. But Mulder believes that they’re going to learn something about Area 51. Scully wishes they had normal lives – that they could stop driving around the country, looking for answer, and settle down somewhere. Mulder doesn’t get that, since he considers this normal.

Cars approach the agents, blocking them from continuing to the meeting point. Military personnel make them get out of the car, and a man smoking a cigarette (but not CSM) tells them they have to leave, since they’re nearing a military testing ground. Scully sarcastically asks if they’re testing out alien technology. The man laughs this off. As the agents are about to leave, an aircraft flies overhead. It flashes a light on Mulder, and as it flies off, Mulder and the smoking man appear to switch bodies…but Mulder’s the only one who notices.

Scully drives off with the smoking man, though she thinks he’s Mulder. The real Mulder gets in a car and explains to another man, who calls him Morris, that he let the agents go because they didn’t know anything. The other man, Howard Grodin, is annoyed that now they won’t be able to find out who the agents were going to meet with. A third man says they’ll find out another way.

Mulder goes with his colleagues to the testing ground, pleased to see that he has Morris’ ID. The picture is still of Morris Fletcher, and Mulder can see on a surveillance monitor that when people look at him, he has Morris’ face. The men see a higher-up named Wegman and guess that something big is happening. While they’re looking into it, Mulder finds his office, which is full of pictures of Morris with powerful men, including Newt Gingrich, Bush Sr., and Saddam Hussein.

Scully and Morris stop at a gas station, where she addresses the fact that he’s been silent since they got back in the car. Her phone rings while she’s pumping gas, but Morris has cranked up the radio and can’t hear it. Mulder’s calling, but by the time Scully gets to the phone, he’s hung up. Morris asks “Dana” to go inside and get him a pack of Morleys, asking if she’s “going to be a Nazi” about his sudden smoking habit.

One of Morris’ coworkers tells Mulder that they found a leak in their organization – someone used Wegman’s phone to call the FBI just that morning. Morris’ phone rings, and Mulder picks up a call from Morris’ wife. She’s furious that he’s working late again and didn’t call. She reminds him to pick up milk on his way home. Mulder gets a ride from a coworker, but they don’t make a stop on the way, so he goes home milkless. He tries to make a call from Morris’ house, but it’s on base, so he’d have to go through an operator.

Morris’ wife is in bed when Mulder goes in, and I guess he doesn’t want to share a bed with a woman he doesn’t know, so he goes to the living room to watch porn instead. Meanwhile, Wegman is called to the scene of a fiery test-flight crash. The co-pilot is alive, but he’s jammed inside a boulder. The other pilot is shaken and only speaking Hopi.

At FBI headquarters, Scully waits for Mulder (well, Morris) to join her so they can have a meeting with Kersh. Morris arrives late, calling her Dana again, and says he got lost on his way in. Kersh questions the agents’ trip to Nevada, which has been followed by a call from the Pentagon demanding that Kersh reprimand them for trespassing on military property. Morris says they were supposed to meet with a whistleblower who claimed to work at Area 51, but it didn’t work out. If he had the contact’s name, he’d give it to Kersh.

Kersh reminds the agents that they’re not supposed to work on X-Files. Morris promises that they will never disobey orders again. As they’re leaving, Scully asks why Morris was so willing to give up the contact’s name. “He asked,” Morris replies before going back into the office to flirt with Kersh’s assistant. Scully questions Mulder’s weird behavior, so Morris teases that she’s jealous, then pats her on the butt.

Mulder is woken up by an angry Mrs. Fletcher (though he first thinks she’s Scully). She blasts him for watching porn in the living room, where their kids, Chris and Terry, could have seen him. Mulder, who has no idea what his supposed wife’s name is, asks where his car keys are. The Fletchers’ daughter comes downstairs, and when Mulder takes a stab in the dark and calls her Terry, she runs back up, crying. So that would be Chris. Also, Terry wants to be called Terrence instead.

Mulder tries to escape his new domestic non-bliss, but first Chris wants an answer about her nose. Mulder says she’s too young for plastic surgery. Chris cries again, because she only wanted a nose ring. She says she hates Mulder and wishes he were dead. I think he wishes the same thing right now. Morris’ wife, who accidentally helps Mulder out by revealing her name, Joanne, asks if he wants a divorce. Mulder says apologetically that he’s just not himself lately.

Joanne notes that Mulder’s still in the suit he wore yesterday, so he goes up to their room to change. Morris’ closet is full of black suits, prompting Mulder to remark, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Johnny Cash.” While getting dressed, he sees Morris’ reflection in the mirror instead of his own. Then the show makes the actors do some I Love Lucy-type pantomime that apparently someone thought would be funny. Joanne finds her non-husband dancing in front of the mirror when she brings him the phone. His coworker, Jeff, tells him to get to the office ASAP.

The pilot, McDonough, is still speaking Hopi, and claiming that his name is Lana Chee. The real Lana Chee has been brought in, and she seems to think she’s McDonough. She tells Wegman that there was a loss of power during the previous night’s test flight, as if the plane “just wasn’t in the mood to fly.”

While Scully does some actual work, Morris plays a golfing computer game. Mulder calls Scully from a phone booth (“Scully, it’s me”), but she doesn’t recognize his voice, and she thinks her partner is sitting just a few feet away, so she thinks he’s a nutbar when he tries to explain that he and Morris swapped bodies. She tells Morris to pick up another line so he can listen in on the call. Scully thinks the caller is Morris’ source and starts to run a trace, but Morris suggests that they tell Kersh so they don’t get in trouble. He tells the “little lady” to “get [her] panties on straight” – they’re feds, so they have to play by the rules.

Mulder buys sunflower seeds at a gas station convenience store, driving off before literal tumbleweeds blow in. Moments later, the store starts shaking as if there’s a big earthquake, and the windows blow in. Mulder’s on his way to the office when he passes his coworkers, who tell him to head back the way he came. He goes back to the now-destroyed gas station and alerts his coworkers and a few soldiers that there’s an attendant. They find him stuck in the floor, with only his upper body showing.

Grodin thinks they need to leave in case whatever caused the destruction comes back. Mulder insists that they get the attendant a doctor, but a soldier shoots and kills the attendant, taking care of that problem. Grodin orders the soldiers to burn the station down.

Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment, arriving just as Kersh’s assistant is leaving. She tells Morris that the call from the supposed source came from a location near where they were stopped in Nevada. He brushes off the importance of the call, so Scully yells that something’s wrong with him. He’s suddenly uninterested in the X-Files, which were formerly his “life’s crusade.” Morris reminds her that they’re off the X-Files.

A lizard-rock hybrid is brought to Wegman, having been found right near where the flight crashed. Grodin thinks they’re dealing with a warp – a tear in the space-time continuum. The test flight’s anti-gravity system may have caused some blip in reality that now allowed two things to exist in the same time and space. Jeff thinks this theory is bogus, since he, Grodin, and Morris were right at ground zero at the time of the warp. Grodin thinks that’s evidence that it did happen, since lost time is often a symptom of being neat anti-gravity propulsion systems.

Mulder keeps his mouth shut when Grodin and Jeff wonder if there were other consequences of the warp; instead, he asks what they do about it. Grodin tells him to keep it out of the media and get rid of any witnesses. Mulder’s more interested in finding out how to reverse the effects. Grodin replies that they might not be able to. Meanwhile, Scully goes back to Nevada and sees the destruction at the gas station. She finds the coins Mulder didn’t take as his change stuck inside each other.

Mulder is again woken up by an angry Joanne, who wonders why her husband is so distant. She thinks he must be in love with another woman – the Scully he mentioned in his sleep. Mulder asks if Scully sounds like a woman’s name. He pretends that he’s under a lot of pressure at work, saying that there are things about him that Joanne doesn’t know. He adds that he’s not the man she married. Joanne thinks he’s admitting that he can’t get an erection, which is something she can work with. Mulder makes this face.

Just as Joanne is softening toward her husband, Scully comes to the house. Looks like Mulder’s sleeping in the living room again tonight, whether or not he wants to. Scully recognizes “Morris” as the man she and Mulder encountered the other night, and he again tries to explain the body swap. He tries to prove he’s really Mulder by reciting things he knows about her, like her full name, her mother’s name, and the fact that her brother hates him. Also, she’s been eating yogurt with bee pollen in it lately, even though he keeps telling her that, as a scientist, she should know that eating pollen is ridiculous.

As Joanne starts throwing Morris’ things outside, calling him a cheater, Scully stays skeptical about Mulder’s claims. He vows to prove to her that everything he’s claiming is true. As Scully drives off, Morris watches from his car. He calls Grodin, saying he’s Mulder, and tells him that someone has been calling to offer him classified information. Mulder steals the flight-data recorder from the test flight, unaware that Grodin’s watching.

Kersh calls Scully, busting her for going back to Nevada – Morris told him that she disobeyed orders again. If she doesn’t follow Kersh’s instructions completely, she’s fired. Mulder goes to a convenience store to meet Scully and give her the flight-data recorder, but she’s followed Kersh’s instructions, which involve having Mulder detained by the military. She yells at Scully that Morris isn’t him, since this isn’t something Mulder would do. It looks like Scully is finally starting to agree. To be continued…

Thoughts: Morris is played by Michael McKean, who’s always good in everything he does. Joanne is played by Nora Dunn, who I think is very underrated and needs to be in more things.

This show had a pretty good-sized budget, right? So they could have reshot the pantomime until it matched up perfectly, yes? (Or, you know, cut the whole thing, because it’s dumb.)

God bless the attendant for scoffing at Mulder saying he can keep his 11-cent change: “Wow. Maybe I’ll just close early.”

How awkward do you think things were between Mulder and Kersh’s assistant after this?

September 16, 2017

The X-Files 6.3, Triangle: Back to the Future

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

One of my favorite moments in the entire series

Summary: In the Sargasso Sea, an unconscious Mulder is floating in the water after a shipwreck. He’s rescued by a British ship’s crew who wonder if he’s an airman and ask where his uniform is. They call him Jerry and consider throwing him back in the water. When he shows them his ID, they say they’ve never heard of the FBI. They wonder if he’s in “the Fuhrer’s Secret Service.”

The crew takes Mulder to their Captain, Harburg, telling him they think Mulder is German. Harburg roughs him up a little and asks which flag he pledges allegiance to. Mulder’s confused and says he came looking for the ship, the Queen Anne. He has the location correct – they’re near Bermuda – and knows that the crew has had trouble getting an accurate compass reading. It’s because they’re in something called the Devil’s Triangle. He claims that the ship was caught in a time warp and is now in 1998.

The crew thinks Mulder’s nuts, and Harburg says he doesn’t have time for this, since they’re at war. Mulder says that in 1998, things are peaceful, other than a mess in the White House, “but that’ll blow over, so to speak.” (Cough.) Harburg says it’s September 3rd, 1939, and they’re on the ship to fight Hitler in Poland. In fact, the ship has just been invaded by Germans. Mulder tells the crew not to worry about it, since the war’s over. They can go to Germany and see some nice cars!

Mulder is locked in Harburg’s office while the crew goes to deal with the Germans. Mulder uses a radio to place a distress call but instead hears a news bulletin confirming Harburg’s story and the date. A German soldier comes in and Mulder fights him, knocking him out. He’s even more confused by the whole situation when he sees that the soldier looks just like Spender.

Mulder takes Spender’s uniform and tries to make an escape, but German soldiers chase him. He hides, then goes to a ballroom, where people are having a party, unaware that the ship has been taken over. Mulder finds a woman who looks like Scully but has no clue who that is. As he’s trying to convince her that he’s not a Nazi, soldiers capture him. “Wait until you get to Russia!” he yells. “Hope you fellas like the cold!”

The soldiers take Mulder to the steering room (that’s what it’s called, right? Don’t email me), where they order Harburg to hand over control of the ship. He refuses, so they shoot him. Mulder recognizes a soldier as CSM, who still hasn’t caught on that Mulder doesn’t “speak Nazi.” CSM orders his shooting, but Mulder doesn’t get what he’s being accused of. Another soldier, who looks like Skinner, joins the group and says something to CSM, who calls off Mulder’s execution.

In the present, the Lone Gunmen come to FBI headquarters to tell Scully that her partner’s in trouble. The S.S. Queen Anne, which vanished 60 years ago, suddenly appeared this morning. The official story was that the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat, but the Lone Gunmen believe its coordinates were kept secret so spies couldn’t locate it. They think it disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle and is now back. They told Mulder, who went looking for it, and now he’s missing.

Scully heads off to get help locating him, but the Lone Gunmen tell her it’ll be next to impossible without help from special imaging. She’ll need help from someone at the Pentagon. Scully barges into Skinner’s office to fill him in, but Skinner says he can’t help her. He doesn’t even want to know what Mulder may have gotten himself into this time. He yells, loudly enough for his secretary to hear, that he’s not allowed to have contact with Mulder or Scully anymore.

Scully thinks that after all they’ve gone through, Skinner would at least listen. She just needs information, and nothing more. Skinner won’t tell her if he has any contacts at the Office of Naval Intelligence, since it could cost him his job. He tells her to use her head to save her butt. Scully replies that he should use his own head, as he’ll be saving his own butt as well. (I may have paraphrased.)

Frustrated, Scully goes to Kersh’s office, but before she can give him any details about what she needs help with, she notices that CSM is there. Kersh takes her note from the Lone Gunmen, which contains the name of a Naval intelligence system, and sends her on her way as she says she doesn’t need to talk to him after all.

Scully calls Mulder’s phone, but he doesn’t have good coverage in 1939, so that doesn’t help. Next she goes to Spender and orders him to help her under penalty of death. She warns him not to weasel her. She gives him the coordinates of the ship and tells him to give her information no matter what he has to do to get it.

The phone rings after Spender leaves, and Scully intercepts a call from CSM. He thinks she’s Fowley, so she plays along. He tells her that Scully just gave Kersh a puzzling piece of paper, but before he can get any further, he becomes suspicious about who he’s really talking to. Scully hangs up and starts to leave, running into Kersh’s secretary, who was sent to fetch her. She tells Scully that Spender is currently with Kersh.

Scully rushes off, berating herself for being stupid, and gets a broken phone call she thinks is from Mulder. She’s on an elevator, so she can’t move around much to get better reception. When the doors open, she encounters her caller, Skinner. He gets on the elevator with her and gives her the information she needs, even after saying he wouldn’t help. She’s so happy that she kisses him. When Skinner gets off the elevator, he yells at Scully for trying to get him to break protocol. Spender overhears, none the wiser. The Lone Gunmen meet Scully in the parking garage, and the four speed off before Spender can catch up to them.

Back on the ship, Mulder has been returned to the British crewmen, who are heading for the engine room, their new accommodations. He tells them a little of what’s going to happen in the coming years of World War II. He lets them know that they win, with help from the Americans, and spend the next few decades with “not much to apologize [for] over the next 50 years, except for maybe the Spice Girls.” Zig-a-zig-ah, Mulder.

A crewman tells Mulder that the ship is supposed to be carrying arms, but he’s skeptical since they’d have to be pretty light. Someone kept asking about a code word the crew is unfamiliar with, Thor’s Hammer. A Jamaican crewman joins the group and learns about the German invasion. Mulder announces that they can’t go to Germany. Thor’s Hammer is a person, rather than the weapon they think it is. He’s a scientist who’s going to help build a bomb that will win the war for whichever side uses it. Mulder saw him in the ballroom.

The Jamaican crewman (guess who his 1998 counterpart is) blasts Mulder for giving up so much information when there could be spies around. “Trust no one, mon!” he booms. The crewmen tell him to kill the engines so the Germans can’t take the ship to their homeland. They decide to go to England or Jamaica instead, but Mulder knows the Germans will hunt them down. He wants them to go back the way they came…to the future. Well, the past. If they keep going forward, Hitler will win the war.

Some Nazis come down and take Mulder back to the ballroom, where no one’s in a partying mood anymore. CSM questions Mulder in German, and Spender translates. They want to know who Thor’s Hammer is. Mulder says he doesn’t know, so the Nazis threaten to start killing passengers. Mulder repeats that he doesn’t know who Thor’s Hammer is, and the men carry out their threat on a random passenger, then another.

Scully yells at the Nazis to listen when Mulder says he doesn’t know who Thor’s Hammer is. Like her 1998 counterpart, she calls Spender a weasel. The men make her their next target, and Mulder finally agrees to cooperate. He tells them the first man they killed was Thor’s Hammer.

In 1998, Scully and the Lone Gunmen locate the Queen Anne, which seems to appear out of thin air, with full power. In 1939, Mulder messes with the Nazis for a bit as they ask him the name of the scientist. A man steps forward, saying he’s really the scientist, so Scully pulls a Spartacus and says it’s really her. It turns out she works for the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) and is traveling with Thor’s Hammer to protect him. CSM orders her and Mulder’s deaths.

The two are put on their knees for their execution, but just them, the engines shut down. The British crewmen rush in and start beating up the Nazis. In 1998, Scully and the Lone Gunmen search the ship, which appears to be empty. Mulder takes 1939 Scully off to save the ship, but they’re spotted by Nazis. They’re about to be shot when Skinner saves them and sends them on their way with a “God bless America.”

Mulder and Scully run around the ship, using the same hallways Scully is searching in 1998. The two women round the same corner at the same time, in opposite directions, and both pause as they seem to sense each other’s presences. 1998 Scully and the Lone Gunmen find the ballroom, which was trashed during the big British/Nazi fight in 1939. Mulder tells 1939 Scully about the time warp, bringing up Albert Einstein and his predictions about a nuclear bomb. If Scully doesn’t turn the ship around, Germany will win the war, and Mulder will never exist, and Scully probably won’t either.

Just in case they never meet again, Mulder says goodbye to Scully with a kiss. She punches him in response, and he remarks that he was expecting a left hook. He jumps overboard, depending on her to steer the ship toward the future. This leads to the first scene of the episode, where Mulder is floating in the water.

Sometime later, Mulder wakes up in a hospital with Scully by his side, saying, “Mulder, it’s me.” She reminds him that he went looking for a ship in the Bermuda Triangle, and he tells her she was there. Skinner enters with the Lone Gunmen, and Mulder says they were there, too, a la The Wizard of Oz. He tells Scully that she saved the world. She says he was on a boat they found in pieces; the Queen Anne was just a ghost ship.

Everyone thinks Mulder’s insistence that he was in 1939 is just a side effect of his injuries from jumping overboard. After the men leave, Mulder tells Scully that he might never have seen her again, but she believed him about the ship. She thinks he was dreaming, so she teases that he should think to himself, “There’s no place like home.” Scully starts to leave, but Mulder summons her back and tells her he loves her. “Oh, brother,” she sighs as she leaves.

Thoughts: This episode is so much fun. The trivia is also fun.

I can’t believe Scully and Skinner kiss before she and Mulder do.

Considering the current political climate, I enjoyed watching Nazis get beaten up.

James Pickens, Jr.’s Jamaican accept is…questionable, at best.

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