April 13, 2019

The X-Files 9.20, The Truth, Part 2: It’s Still Out There

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:06 pm by Jenn

An almost-happy ending! Except it’s not the ending

Summary: It’s the day after Gibson threw out a bombshell at Mulder’s trial. Mulder meets with the agents (minus Scully, who’s with Gibson) and laments that Gibson exposed himself to the conspirators. But the agents think it was a good move, since some of the judges are leaning in Mulder’s favor. Skinner urges Mulder to testify, but Mulder refuses. Doggett says they’ll take the stand in his place, even if it means risking their jobs. Reyes agrees – they came here to do their job. Mulder says the judges control the game, so Doggett suggests that they ram them with it.

When the trial resumes, Doggett is put on the stand and talks about the super-soldiers. Agent K. doesn’t want more sci-fi in the trial, but Skinner ties the super-soldiers to Knowle. Agent K. objects again, since Doggett wasn’t at the scene when Mulder killed Knowle. Skinner asks how Mulder could have killed him if Knowle is unkillable. Doggett mentions the magnetite; since Mulder didn’t use it on Knowle, Knowle can’t really be dead.

Agent K. starts his cross-examination by praising Doggett’s professional record, which Agent K. isn’t going to question. But can he really back up Mulder in claiming the super-soldiers are aliens? Doggett’s a skeptic, so how can he believe Mulder’s theories? Doggett can’t answer that question.

Reyes is up next, intended to serve as a level-headed witness so Skinner can show that even rational people believe paranormal stuff has happened. Reyes talks about the circumstances of William’s birth and the audience Scully had while delivering him. Agent K. asks why William would be important to aliens. Blah blah, government conspiracy, the world’s worst surrogate program. Agent K.’s like, “Oh, how convenient that the ship where women were experimented on exploded!”

He asks about William, and Reyes testifies that he has telekinetic abilities. Agent K. asks for a demonstration, but of course, William is now living with an anonymous family. “She gave up the miracle child,” Agent K. spits out. Mulder somehow doesn’t scratch his eyes out. After she’s dismissed from the stand, Reyes accuses Agent K. of not caring about William. He’s just happy that Scully gave him up, thereby giving away proof of an alien conspiracy.

Kersh warns Reyes to behave herself, so she turns on him, saying he’s made a mockery of the X-Files agents and their sacrifices. What’s the point of the trial – to destroy Mulder, who seeks the truth, or to destroy the truth so no one can look for it? “Either way, you lose,” Reyes tells Kersh.

Scully has missed the entire day of proceedings, so Doggett and Reyes visit her that night with big news: Knowle’s body may have been found. Scully reminds them that super-soldiers can’t be killed, but the government claims Knowle is really dead. Doggett stays behind with Gibson while Scully and Reyes go to Quantico so Scully can perform the autopsy. The body is burned, so it can’t be ID’d just on sight. Scully asks Reyes to do whatever it takes to get Knowle’s records.

The trial is about to start back up when Scully arrives with what she says is the proof they need to get Mulder exonerated. Her autopsy shows that the body belongs to a man who died of a broken neck; the body was burned post-mortem. Kersh won’t dismiss the trial, telling Scully she’s in contempt of court. She says Kersh is the one in contempt, since he won’t look at evidence that shows Mulder’s innocent.

Kersh argues that Scully didn’t have authorization to do the autopsy, so she should be removed from the courtroom. Mulder defends his girlfriend, which doesn’t help. Kersh throws them both out and adjourns the trial. Later, everyone returns for the verdict, which Kersh claims is fair and impartial. Mulder is declared guilty of first-degree murder.

Mulder’s allowed to say something before his sentence is determined. Instead of yelling, “F&$% ALL Y’ALL” and flipping a table, Mulder congratulates the judges for succeeding where everyone else has failed. They’ve shown that the truth doesn’t matter if there are enough liars to cover it up. True evil isn’t the devil, but humans.

If Mulder’s guilty, it’s because he dared – and still dares – to believe that the truth will out. The truth wants to be known, and eventually, it’ll come to the judges as it’s come to Mulder. He warns that if the judges think they’re really rid of their headache, it’s only because they’ve cut off their own heads.

Scully, Reyes, Doggett, and Gibson are at Scully’s place when the call comes from Skinner – Mulder has been sentenced to death by lethal injection. Scully breaks down. Later that night, as a very much alive Knowle goes to the Marine base where Mulder’s being held, Skinner and Doggett go to Mulder’s cell and tell him they’re getting him out of there.

Knowle discovers Mulder missing and orders the base sealed. This only slows Mulder and his rescuers down a little, and they continue their escape…until they run into Kersh. He knows they can’t make it out the way they’re going, so he takes them out another exit. Reyes is waiting there at a hole in a fence and drives the getaway vehicle.

The group meets up with Scully and Gibson, and Kersh tells Mulder he needs to go to Canada, then leave the continent within 24 hours. Mulder and Scully leave Gibson behind with the other agents and flee. But Mulder heads south instead of north, since he still has some truth to pursue.

Doggett and Reyes take Gibson to the X-Files office, promising to protect him. But the office has been packed up, and Skinner hasn’t been able to ask Kersh who’s responsible. He thinks they’ve been found out for helping Mulder escape. They go to see Kersh, who’s already talking with Toothpick Man. He and Gibson glare at each other for a little while, and Gibson tells Doggett and Reyes that TM knows where Mulder and Scully are going. They’re not going to Canada, and they’re in a lot of danger.

The lovebirds have reached the Texas/New Mexico border, and while Scully sleeps in the car, Mulder gets out for a bathroom break. He gets a visit from the Lone Gunmen, who tell him to turn around. He shouldn’t be risking his and Scully’s lives or happiness. Mulder still wants to find the truth, but the Gunmen say he already knows it. Mulder tells them he wants to know if he can change it. They warn that he’ll just get himself killed.

Scully wakes up and interrupts, and the journey continues. Mulder has changed into jeans and a white T-shirt, and I give my 100% approval. They end up at some Anasazi pueblos, and Mulder explains that he was sent a message from a wise man who lives in the ruins. He thinks they’ll find the truth there.

Doggett and Reyes take a helicopter to the same area as a woman (whose name is never spoken but who is apparently Lana Chee) leads Mulder and Scully to the wise man – CSM. He says that Mulder now knows the truth, though he hasn’t told Scully yet. CSM helped him find it by sending him to Mouth Weather. He mocks that Mulder could have exonerated himself by testifying at his trial. But he’s too afraid to speak the truth.

CSM is hiding out from the aliens, since they fear the magnetite in the area. That’s what brought down the UFO in Roswell. Wise men have been hiding out there for 2,000, watching Native American culture die: “The original shadow government.” Doggett and Reyes land just as Knowle arrives at the pueblos.

CSM is ready to tell Scully everything Mulder is too scared to. Every president since Truman has been spooked by the tale. The Mayans were even scared, which is why their calendar stops on December 22, 2012 – the day of the final alien invasion. Mulder saw that date on the computer at Mount Weather, so he knows the truth the government is trying to keep hidden.

Mulder taunts that CSM is drunk with power, but doesn’t actually have the power to do anything. CSM claims he’s been protecting Mulder for years in anticipation of this moment, when Mulder would be broken and afraid. Now he can die. Outside, military helicopters arrive as Doggett and Reyes face off with Knowle. Their bullets don’t do anything, but the magnetite in the hills does. His body turns gray and flies into a hill.

Mulder and Scully come outside, and Doggett and Reyes warn that the government is coming for them. Doggett wants the lovebirds to come with him and Reyes, but Mulder sends them off. The helicopters now have two cars to track, but they decide to let all the agents go. Then they blast the pueblos with explosives in an attempt to kill CSM. CSM sits quietly and accepts his supposed fate. (Spoiler: Despite being pretty much set on fire, CSM survives.)

In Roswell, Mulder and Scully check into a motel and mirror one of their first moments together in the X-Files. Mulder repeats what he was supposed to be brainwashed into believing – that he’s guilty and should be punished. When they first met, he tried to convince Scully of the truth, in a motel just like this. Though he succeeded in that, he failed in every other way.

Scully doesn’t agree, adding that Mulder kept the truth from her not because he was broken or afraid, but because he didn’t want to accept it. He says he was afraid the truth would crush Scully’s spirit. Scully says she won’t accept the truth if Mulder won’t. He only fails if he gives up, and she knows he never will. She would do this whole crazy thing all over again.

Mulder points out that the search for the truth hasn’t gotten them to a very good place. Scully repeats that she knows he won’t give up. He’s always said he wants to believe, but in what? If he finally knows the truth, what’s left to believe in? Mulder says he wants to believe that the dead aren’t lost to us: “That they speak to us as part of something greater than us.” If the two of them are powerless now, they can get power when they listen. Scully believes the same thing. He looks at her cross necklace, then gets in bed with her and says, “Maybe there’s hope.”

Thoughts: Say goodbye to Doggett, whose X-Files service has ended. Robert Patrick was a great addition to the cast.

The Marine base has very bad security. A supposedly dead man gets in using his real ID, which doesn’t make anyone suspicious. And Doggett and Skinner just walk in and get Mulder out of his cell. Shouldn’t there be guards with guns or something?

So much New Mexico in the last two episodes. Maybe that’s what inspired Vince Gilligan to set Breaking Bad there.

Here ends the original run of the show. Things are about to get…wildly inconsistent.

April 6, 2019

The X-Files 9.19, The Truth, Part 1: A Guilty Man

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

Not seen: Skinner looking suuuuuuuper awkward

Summary: A helicopter lands at the Mount Weather Complex in Bluemont, Virginia, and a bunch of people in suits get out. One of them is the long-missing Fox Mulder. That’s right, David Duchovny is finally back! The people get on a bus, which drives underground to some caverns. Once it stops, Mulder runs off to spy on a lab from a catwalk. He gets access to a restricted area of the complex and types something on a computer. “END GAME” comes up on the screen. He enters a code and gets a date: December 22, 2012.

Mulder gulps, but before he can react any further, someone else enters the room. It’s Knowle, and he doesn’t look happy. Well, he never looks happy, but he looks especially serious right now. Mulder ambushes him, but Knowle is super-strong and just picks him up and throws him through a window. Mulder is somehow able to escape with only a couple small cuts on his face.

But as Mulder runs from Knowle, he encounters another enemy: the supposedly dead Krycek. Mulder chooses the enemy he knows and keeps going toward Krycek. He won’t address how he’s alive, but he does tell Mulder that there are others. An alarm sounds and Mulder has to run again. This time Knowle catches him and bends him over the side of a catwalk. Mulder is somehow able to flip Knowle over so he falls onto some sort of electrical thing and gets fried. The good news is Knowle is taken care of. The bad news is that guards are able to capture Mulder.

Sometime later, Mulder’s in a military prison, and a soldier wants to know what he’s thinking. Mulder can’t come up with the right answer. He wants to get out of there (wrong!), and he’s thinking about William and Scully (double wrong!). The soldier demands answers, but Mulder isn’t forthcoming.

After a few days of this, judging by Mulder’s stubble, Mulder asks the soldier what he’s supposed to be thinking. The soldier tells him he’s a guilty man. Mulder agrees, saying he deserves the harshest punishment for his crime. Satisfied that the naked, sleep-deprived Mulder has been successfully brainwashed, the soldier leaves.

Scully and Skinner are allowed to visit Mulder, but his reunion with Scully after months apart isn’t the way she expected. For starters, he calls her Dana. She hugs him, but he doesn’t hug back. He just asks if she’s okay, as if he’s confused about why she would be so emotional right now. Mulder says he’s being treated well, then greets Skinner as Walter. He admits to killing Knowle and going in search of something that didn’t exist. He made a horrible mistake and should be punished.

Skinner reminds Mulder that, no matter what happened, he deserves a lawyer and a fair trial. Mulder doesn’t care about that – he’s a guilty man. When they’re told the visit is over, Mulder just turns away and lets Scully and Skinner leave. Then he starts talking to Krycek, who isn’t really there. Mulder asks why Krycek is helping him, and Krycek says Mulder can’t do this alone.

Scully and Skinner go to the FBI building and fill Doggett and Reyes in on what’s going on. Doggett doesn’t get how Knowle was alive before Mulder killed him. Reyes is like, “Duh, super-soldier.” Doggett points out that, if that’s the case, Mulder couldn’t have killed him. Scully decides her best option is to “beg mercy of the man upstairs.” I don’t think she means God.

Kersh goes to Mulder’s prison, the brig at Quantico, and meets with General Mark Suveg. Kersh wants mercy for Mulder, due to his “good character.” Suveg says this looks bad for the Marines but worse for the FBI. He’ll give Kersh and the FBI a chance to clean up their mess – Mulder will get a fair hearing from his own agency, but in Suveg’s court. Kersh doesn’t think that’s legal. Suveg doesn’t care, as long as Mulder is found guilty. Kersh resists, but Suveg reminds him that there are sources in the government they shouldn’t tick off.

Scully and Skinner return to Mulder’s cell, freaking out when he does a Hannibal Lechter impression. He laughs, admitting that he’s been faking his brainwashing the whole time. Then he makes out with Scully right in front of Skinner. It goes on for a good ten seconds and, uh, was not scripted. Skinner looks hilariously uncomfortable. Mulder tries to greet him warmly, but Skinner wants him to be serious. Mulder knows he’s going to trial and that the government doesn’t care for his side of the story. He also knows Knowle was a super-soldier.

Skinner warns that there are tons of witnesses ready to testify against Mulder and destroy him. Scully promises to get Mulder a good lawyer, but Mulder knows that won’t do anything. He chooses Skinner as his attorney. Please keep in mind that Skinner isn’t a lawyer. Mulder promises that he knows what he’s doing. Doggett and Reyes join the group and announce that the military claims they have Knowle’s body. Apparently he could be killed after all.

The next morning, Scully wakes Mulder with a rare in-person “Mulder, it’s me.” She wants him to confide in her; she thinks they’ll lose the case otherwise. Mulder won’t tell her anything that might put her at risk. Scully’s scared of losing him again after she just got him back, but he promises again that he knows what he’s doing.

Scully cries as she tells Mulder he has no idea what she went through while he was gone. But Skinner already told him that she gave William up. She’s worried that Mulder won’t forgive her, but he knows she did what she had to do. He tells her he was hiding out in New Mexico, just looking for the truth. Scully thinks he found something, but again, Mulder says he can’t tell her what it was. He asks her to trust him, because he knows things it’s better she stays clueless about.

Skinner goes to the courtroom to prepare for the trial. He meets the prosecutor, Agent Kallenbrunner, and I’m not typing that over and over, so he’s Agent K. now. (Not to be confused with Tommy Lee Jones’ character in Men in Black.) A panel of judges enters, including Toothpick Man. Kersh is serving as the judge. Let the bizarre trial begin!

Agent K. has no witnesses to call, but he has the sworn testimonies of all the people who saw Mulder kill Knowle. Skinner asks to have the proceedings dismissed because this isn’t a fair trial. He’s not a lawyer and Kersh isn’t a judge. Kersh shuts him down, then again when Skinner asks for a delay while they try to track down Marita. Skinner grumbles that he’ll call another witness under protest. Kersh tells him there’s no court record, by the way. Mulder’s fine with moving ahead anyway.

Skinner calls Scully as his first witness. She testifies that over her years working with Mulder, she came to believe in his theories about aliens. Agent K. has an understandable objection about what this has to do with Mulder killing Knowle. Skinner’s like, “No, let’s keep talking about meteors and alien viruses.” There are flashbacks, so this is kind of a clip show. Scully says that the government learned about the alien virus in 1947, when a UFO crashed in Roswell. The virus hid underground in black oil, and can communicate with UFOs.

There’s more recapping, and then Agent K. cross-examines by asking Scully for proof of aliens. Can they call one as a witness? Does she have any rocks from Mars? He cuts to the chase: Isn’t it true that Mulder and Scully were lovers, and she got pregnant with his child? Skinner objects, but Agent K. decides he’s done with the witness. Mulder silently indicates to Scully that he still knows what he’s doing.

Spender is called next, and his face is still deformed, so that’s fun. He testifies about CSM’s part in the government conspiracy, but Agent K. and Kersh don’t see the connection to Mulder’s case. Skinner continues, getting Spender to testify that he and Mulder are half brothers, sharing CSM as a father. He adds that CSM had Krycek kill Bill Mulder. Bill always felt ashamed of his decision to give up Samantha to cover up the conspiracy.

Spender confirms that Samantha was sent to California and raised with Spender, but was taken many times for testing. She was part of the conspiracy’s cloning experiment and died in 1987. When Spender started working for the FBI, he didn’t know about CSM’s crimes. CSM tried to kill him, then made him undergo testing like Samantha did.

Agent K. says that Spender must want his father to pay for his crimes. Spender believes CSM is already dead. Agent K. notes that while they were working together at the FBI, Spender wrote reports trashing Mulder. Spenders says he wrote those before he knew the truth about the conspiracy. Agent K. doesn’t think that matters.

In Weed Hope, New Mexico, a teen boy pays a visit to someone in a camper. He has news about Mulder being in trouble. The camper’s owner, Gibson, says he’ll get ready to leave. With the trial over for the day, Scully goes to Mulder’s cell and begs him to take a plea bargain. Mulder refuses, since they’ve worked too hard to expose the truth. In that case, Scully wants him to testify on his own behalf, but he won’t do that either. She reminds him that they’re fighting the fight together.

After Scully leaves, Mulder hears a voice speaking in the dark. It’s Mr. X, and he is TICKED. He reminds Mulder that the men deciding his fate have too much power to be afraid of what he can tell them. Mulder says he refuses to back down. Mr. X. says he’ll need help, then, and gives him a piece of paper with Marita’s address.

At his place with Reyes, Doggett calls around to find out where Knowle’s body is, but he can’t get any cooperation. Reyes sees someone in the yard, so the two agents grab their guns and go to investigate. It’s the kid who visited Gibson, there to tell the agents that he wants to help Mulder.

Mr. X.’s help pans out, and on the second day of the trial, Marita comes to testify. She talks about the Syndicate and their work to develop a vaccine for the alien virus. They used human subjects for testing. Marita eventually turned on the Syndicate, which is why she helped Mulder when he approached her. But the Syndicate used her as a test subject while trying to develop a vaccine to save only themselves. Renegade aliens brought down the conspiracy, and the Syndicate members are all dead (allegedly).

Skinner asks why Marita resisted testifying – she shouldn’t be afraid of anything now, if the conspiracy has been stopped. Skinner thinks it’s still going on, with the super-soldiers, and that Marita knows who they are. As Skinner tries to get her to respond, Krycek appears to Mulder and warns, “They’ll kill her.” Mulder tells Skinner to dismiss Marita, no matter how helpful she might be to his case.

As Marita leaves, Doggett pulls Skinner aside to give him a message. Skinner reveals that there’s a surprise witness. When Gibson enters, Mulder gets agitated, telling Skinner he wants Gibson away from the proceedings for his protection. Skinner says that Gibson’s trying to protect Mulder now.

Gibson testifies that he’s been hiding Mulder in the desert for the past year. Skinner recaps the whole thing about Gibson having weird DNA and being able to read minds. Mulder notes that Gibson is reading Agent K.’s mind right now, as well as the minds of the judges. Even the mind of Toothpick Man…who’s not human. Mulder yells that Toothpick Man is “one of them” and needs to be examined. He’s removed from the courtroom as he shouts that they’re all afraid of the truth. To be continued…

Thoughts: Agent K. is played by Matthew Glave, who also plays Dale on ER.

I would like to never hear the name Knowle Rohrer again, please. How does anyone say it with a straight face?

Mulder doesn’t get a bed in the brig, but he does get unlimited visits from Scully. So that’s nice.

March 30, 2019

The X-Files 9.18, Sunshine Days: Here’s the Story of a Man Named Doggett…

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:06 pm by Jenn

That couch is so bad

Summary: Two guys are sitting outside in Van Nuys, California, drinking. One of them, Blake, whistles the Brady Bunch theme song and tells the other guy, Daley, that the house they’re looking at across the street is from the show. It doesn’t look like it from the outside, but Blake delivered a pizza there last night and saw the interior. Daley’s still skeptical, so Blake leads him to the house to try to get access. It’s midnight, but no one seems to be home and the door’s unlocked, so Blake thinks they should just walk right in.

He’s right about the house, which looks exactly like the inside of the Bradys’ home. There’s even a broken vase like one Peter broke on the show. A football suddenly comes falling down the stairs, reminding Blake of the episode where Marcia was hit in the face with one and broke her nose. Daley’s freaked out and leaves, so he’s not there when Blake hears children laughing upstairs. He follows it and thinks he sees Cindy and Bobby Brady. Daley’s still outside, waiting for his friend, who quickly joins him…but falling onto the roof of their car.

The next day, Doggett and Reyes come to the house to try to figure out what happened. Doggett thinks Blake must have fallen out of a plane or helicopter; it’s not important to him how Blake got into that plane or helicopter. He finds a piece of something black in the car and puts it in an evidence bag.

Daley arrives and asks if someone’s going to arrest the homeowner. He tells the agents the house is from The Brady Bunch, but Reyes knows that the show was shot on a Hollywood soundstage, and the house used for exteriors is in Studio City. (She took a picture of it once. She’s very proud of that, and Doggett is filing that information away for future teasing.) Daley’s annoyed that the police won’t search the house.

The agents and Daley meet the homeowner, Oliver Martin, who sticks to the story he already told the police: He wasn’t home when Blake died, and he didn’t hear or see anything. The agents want to enter the house, and Oliver tries to resist, but Daley busts in. He’s confused to see that the interior is now completely different. Oliver denies that the house ever looked like the Bradys’. But Daley is sure that he saw what he saw.

After Daley leaves, Doggett decides to check out Oliver’s trash. He finds a couple of roof shingles inside, then boosts himself up to the roof, discovering that it’s been recently repaired. He tells Reyes he smelled fresh plaster inside the house, and the black thing he found in the car was part of a shingle. Reyes asks if he’s suggesting that Blake somehow shot through the roof of the house and landed on Daley’s car, like a cartoon character. Doggett just says the connections he’s made here make sense, and he’s finally getting the hang of the job.

At Quantico, Scully is about to do Blake’s autopsy when she hears one of her scalpels rattling around on its tray. When she touches it, she gets an electric shock. She Skypes (or whatever the 2002 version of Skype was) Doggett and Reyes at the FBI’s L.A. field office to tell them that Blake was dead before he landed on Daley’s car. Doggett’s roof theory makes sense to Scully, and she thinks electricity is involved.

She wired Blake to something, and he’s giving off some kind of residual electricity, like he’s a dying battery. If Mulder were around, Scully know she would bring up electromagnetic fluctuations and poltergeists and such. She can’t come up with another theory, so she has to admit she doesn’t know what’s going on.

Back at Oliver’s house, Daley pours out a beer for his dead friend, then tries to sneak back inside. Through the window, he sees someone who looks like Alice serving dinner to a family in ’60s clothing. He busts through the door and discovers that, while the interior of the house looks like the Bradys’ again, Oliver’s the only one inside. Oliver tells him to leave before it’s too late. Daley wants an explanation for what he saw, but instead, he gets lifted in the air and flung through the roof.

Doggett and Reyes return the next day for their next investigation into an unexplained death. Daley’s been dropped in the backyard so hard that he’s sunk a few inches into the ground. The agents try to talk to Oliver again, but he refuses to speak to them if they don’t have a warrant. Scully calls to let Doggett know that he and Reyes are on TV, thanks to all the media swarming the house. She’s now in L.A. and thinks she’s found someone who can help them with the case.

A video from 1970 shows an eight-year-old boy named Anthony about to take part in tests with a doctor named John Rietz. Anthony does something spectacular, but the video shuts off. Now, 32 years later, Rietz tells the agents that Anthony made a bunch of blocks rise off a table using only his mind. He thinks whatever caused that let out an electromagnetic field that shorted out the video image, which is why it wasn’t captured on film. Rietz expects the agents to call him crazy, but Doggett believes him.

Doggett thinks Anthony is Oliver, and thanks to a look through some of Mulder’s books, Scully is able to confirm that. Rietz, a parapsychologist, tells the agents about how Anthony/Oliver was able to make things fly around. Rietz spent six months studying Oliver, who was as confused as everyone about his abilities, but knew he was psychokinetic.

Reyes asks how Rietz lost touch with Oliver. Rietz says Oliver’s abilities faded, so I guess he was no longer worthy of being studied. Doggett asks if there’s anything they can take to a judge to get an arrest warrant for murder. Rietz doesn’t know what kind of person Oliver’s become in the past 32 years, but the boy he knew was lonely.

Oliver patches up his ceiling again, back in the non-Brady house. Then the house becomes the Bradys’ again, and the kids say goodbye to Oliver as they leave for the day. Rietz calls and leaves a message asking Oliver to meet with him so they can catch up. The ladder Oliver was using to patch the ceiling starts shaking, and a scraper flies off and knocks the phone off the counter.

Reyes has been wondering why Oliver changed his name when he had no reason to (such as a criminal record he wanted to distance himself from). Thanks to a Brady Bunch website, Reyes has come across Cousin Oliver, Carol Brady’s nephew who moved in with the family in the show’s final season. She doesn’t think the name Oliver Martin is a coincidence in light of what Daley said about the house. Rietz recalls that he watched the show with Oliver.

Reyes can’t figure out why Oliver would name himself after a character no one liked. Scully remembers that he was called a jinx. Is that how Oliver views himself? Doggett doesn’t care; he just wants to bust him. Scully thinks Oliver should be studied instead of jailed. Rietz agrees – he could give scientists insights into paranormal activity, even proof that it exists. Scully wants that, as it would vindicate Mulder and the rest of the agents for all their work on the X-Files.

Doggett and Rietz go to Oliver’s, where Doggett spots something interesting through the window. Oliver won’t answer the door, so Doggett picks the lock and goes in, leaving Rietz outside. The House is Bradyfied again, and Oliver is upstairs, just wanting to be left alone. Doggett starts rising in the air, and though he manages to slow his ascent by grabbing a doorknob, he flies through the ceiling.

Fortunately, Doggett doesn’t go all the way through the roof, but instead finds himself in the attic. He’s upside-down, though, so that’s something. He yells through the window for Rietz, then Oliver, who just leaves him up there. Rietz comes inside the house, ignoring Doggett’s warnings that Oliver’s dangerous, and tells Oliver to let Doggett go. Oliver, now acting childlike, says he can’t – he doesn’t know how. Rietz tells Oliver to relax and focus, as he used to when Oliver was a child. He knows Oliver’s a good person and can fix this. This leads to Doggett falling through the ceiling, but least he’s alive.

Reyes and Scully come inside, amazed by the setup of the house. Oliver says he just thinks about things and they appear. Scully asks what happens if he thinks about another place. Oliver hesitates, but Rietz asks him to try, saying it’s important to him. Suddenly, the group is transported to a grassy plain overlooking the ocean. Moments later, they’re back in the house, which Oliver says is his preferred location.

Scully wants to take Oliver to Washington to help scientists study his phenomena. Rietz says again that it would be important to him, so Oliver agrees. Doggett thinks this is a huge mistake – clearly, Oliver isn’t in control of his powers. Scully thinks he can learn, and once he does, he can accomplish huge things. Doggett says it’s equally possible that he’ll cause destruction.

Reyes notes that whatever’s going on right now, it’s not working, since two people are dead. Scully thinks they owe the world the answers Oliver could provide them. Doggett believes there’s something he’s not telling them. Oliver packs his things, including the football, but it gives him an electric shock, so he leaves it behind.

The group goes to D.C. and brings Skinner up to speed. Scully and Reyes are full of smiles, while Doggett is still his skeptical self. This is despite the fact that Oliver has made Skinner float a few inches off the ground. The effort makes him sweat, and he asks for a glass of water. The agents leave him alone while they discuss the situation with a doctor named Jacocks. He thinks this is worthy of a Nobel Prize for physics. Doggett’s the only person in the group with doubts.

Skinner notes that with this kind of proof of paranormal activity, the X-Files can never be shut down. Kersh needs to be brought in immediately. But before anyone can call him, Oliver has a seizure. Once he’s in a hospital, Rietz thinks he just needs some rest to recover. Scully blames an electrolyte imbalance, which is only part of Oliver’s problems: He’s going into multi-organ system failure. His powers are destroying his body. The agents see the Bradys standing around Oliver’s bed, but when they go in his room, no one’s there. Oliver explains that the Bradys came to say goodbye, because he’s dying.

Doggett goes to his office to rewatch the 1970 video. Scully, Reyes, and Rietz arrive to tell him the doctors have come up with a treatment plan. Doggett notes that they still haven’t explained the cause of Oliver’s powers. Why is he obsessed with The Brady Bunch? Scully and Reyes think the show is still popular all these decades later because the Bradys are the ideal family. Oliver didn’t have one as a child, so he created one.

Doggett asks why he chose the Bradys, not the Partridges or another happy TV family. He reminds Rietz that he watched The Brady Bunch with Oliver, and slowly Oliver’s powers faded. Maybe he didn’t need them anymore because he was happy being with Rietz. If Oliver’s going to die because of his powers, but they go away when he’s happy, and Rietz makes him happy, there’s a simple solution. It just means no answers for science.

Rietz goes back to the hospital and tells Oliver that the vindication of his life’s work is important, and he let it blind him. He treated Oliver like a lab rat instead of a person. He regrets leaving Oliver’s life so abruptly. Rietz tells Oliver he can never use his powers again. Oliver dreads being alone, but Rietz promises he won’t be – they’ll have each other. Oliver asks to be called by his original name again.

Doggett tells Scully he’s sorry she can’t get her proof of paranormal activity. But Scully thinks she’s had it the past nine years after all. Maybe not proof of the paranormal, but at least of more important things. Doggett hopes that Anthony will learn how to love in the real world instead of the TV world. He and Reyes hold hands, and she tells him he’s getting a hang of the job.

Thoughts: Oliver is played by Michael Emerson. Rietz is played by John Aylward. Daley is played by David Faustino.

This should have been a Mulder episode. Imagine all the jokes.

Oliver can make his house look different without lifting a finger, but he can’t fix holes in his ceiling and roof using just his mind?

March 23, 2019

The X-Files 9.17, Release: Corruption? In the U.S. Government? Well, I Never!

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:21 pm by Jenn

“This is my brooding wall”

Summary: For some reason, this episode has chapter titles, and the first one is “The Tip.” Doggett goes to a rundown apartment building, where a guy attacks him and runs off. Inside his apartment, Doggett finds a freshly repaired wall. When he digs into the repairs, blood comes out. There’s a body entombed in the wall, a Jane Doe, and her body is sent to Quantico for Scully to examine. She uses the body as a teaching exercise with her students.

Scully tells the class that the woman was stabbed, and Doggett found her by following the sound of rats feeding on her corpse. One student sees dirt under the Jane Doe’s fingernails and guesses that she was killed somewhere else and tried to claw her way out of dirt. Scully asks what else would help them find the killer. A student named Hayes can tell from Jane’s chipped nail polish and dye job that she’s an unemployed single woman. She’d been drinking, so Hayes thinks she hooked up with a man in a bar, and he killed her.

Hayes continues that the man has killed before. The bruise near Jane’s ribs indicates that the killer meant to finish her off with a single blow to the heart, but Jane struggled, causing the knife to slip and the hilt to jab her in the side. The killer then got mad and killed her. Hayes thinks this should be obvious to everyone.

When the class is over, Scully looks at the body again by herself, getting an idea. Using Hayes’ guesses, she’s able to ID Jane as a woman named Ellen. She tells Reyes and Doggett that Ellen did go to a bar the previous night – the same bar where another woman was killed two weeks ago. The other woman, Rita, was found in a ditch, not plastered behind a wall, so Doggett isn’t sure Rita and Ellen were killed by the same person. But Scully is sure that Hayes’ theory is correct.

Doggett wants to know why someone sent him a tip about looking for Ellen’s body, since this doesn’t appear to be an X-File. Scully thinks he should just continue with the case anyway. So Doggett and Reyes go to the Forensic Training Facility in Joplin, Virginia, to see Hayes. He’s doing an exercise with body parts, and he gets to show the agents in person how he works. Just from looking at a severed arm, he can tell how the arm’s owner died. “I see things,” he explains.

Reyes tells him they used his theory to develop a profile of Ellen and Rita’s killer. Hayes disagrees with the profile, though – he thinks the killer’s in his 40s, an ex-con who’s in the mob. His parole officer thinks he’s looking for a job back in New York, but he already has one. He’s killed a lot of people and will continue to kill. Hayes walks off without another word, and Reyes lightly says to Doggett that he’s kind of annoying.

Hayes goes home that night to his nearly empty apartment. The only decorations are pictures of murder victims. Well, that’s…certainly an aesthetic choice. Doggett and Reyes go to a bar and see a man named Nicholas Regali, whose mug shots they’re carrying. They tell him he’s violating his parole by being in Virginia. Regali says he’s there looking for work, just as Hayes predicted.

Regali denies killing anyone, of course, but the agents make it clear that he’s their main suspect and won’t get away with any more murders. Regali tells them they don’t know what they’re dealing with. At home, Hayes stares out his window creepily, then goes to bed. One of the pictures on his wall is of Doggett in a field, crouching next to a boy’s body.

“Ashes”: Doggett lies awake in bed, then gets up to look at the box holding his son’s ashes. Later, Hayes finds him in his office, and Doggett asks him to look at another case. A seven-year-old boy was riding his bike around the block when he disappeared. His mother went looking for him but only found his bike. There’s no indication of why he was taken. Three days later, his body was found in a field.

Of course, Doggett’s talking about Luke. It’s been nine years, and there’s not much to go on, but Doggett hopes that Hayes can be a fresh set of eyes and find something everyone else has overlooked. Hayes tells him that the case he helped with yesterday is also Luke’s case.

He takes Doggett to his apartment and shows him the wall of photos. They’re all of unsolved murders. Hayes started collecting them before he joined the FBI academy, though he’s not sure why. Sometimes, if he just sits with them, they tell him things. It’s how he sees the things he sees. There are multiple pictures of Luke, and Hayes says that Luke calls to him. Doggett says Hayes might be nuts, but that’s clearly not a deal-breaker for him.

The two discuss the main suspect, Bob Harvey, who died in a car accident the previous year. Hayes says that Harvey took Luke but didn’t kill him. Doggett asks if Regali killed Luke, but Hayes doesn’t respond. Doggett goes to the FBI building to talk to Follmer, who worked on an organized-crime task force in New York. He’s familiar with Regali but doesn’t think he was involved in Luke’s death. Doggett thinks Harvey and Regali are connected somehow. Follmer has his doubts, but he clearly has some sympathy for Doggett, so he offers to do some research.

Reyes finds Doggett, and he fills her in on his suspicions about Regali. He’s learned that Regali and Harvey were both in the same prison at the same time, so it’s possible they knew each other. Plus, the day Luke disappeared, Regali used a credit card to buy gas two miles from Doggett’s house. Reyes notes that living in New York at the same time isn’t enough to go on. She’s worried that Doggett will once again be disappointed by a dead end to the case. Doggett is sure that this time, he’ll get answers.

Doggett goes to Woodbury, Long Island, to see his ex-wife, Barbara. He tells her he has a suspect in Luke’s murder, but she’s obviously heard that from him before and doesn’t believe this time will be any different. She doesn’t like him coming by to dredge up the past. She doesn’t want to hear any more about this unless Doggett knows for sure they’ve found the killer. He takes Barbara to a lineup to see if she can identify Regali, in case she saw him the day Luke was taken. She doesn’t find him familiar, so she’s done with her ex for now.

While Doggett’s fighting with Follmer, Scully meets Barbara, who hates that Doggett is so regretful about not finding Luke’s killer. She hopes Scully can help him move on. Well, really, it sounds like she hopes Reyes can help him move on, since she believes they could have a relationship if Doggett would let Reyes in.

Without anything to hold Regali on, the agents have to let him go. Doggett hopes Scully has found something in her forensic work, but she can’t tie anything between Luke and the two dead women. They were killed with different weapons, and the killers’ MOs aren’t consistent. Scully thinks Hayes just made a leap in connecting the cases to each other.

“A Message”: Hayes sits with his pictures, waiting for them to tell him something. In the X-Files office (which, by the way, now has two desks), Doggett tells Reyes that something about Regali seems strange. He keeps getting away with small crimes, as if he’s bribing someone to keep letting him slide.

Reyes gets an idea, and the two go to see Follmer to discuss when he and Reyes worked in New York together. Reyes used to get takeout from a place called Carlo’s. One night, she saw Follmer in the kitchen talking to a mobster and accepting a stack of money from him. Apparently this was what caused her to break up with him and move away.

Follmer asks if the agents are really there to accuse him of taking bribes. He asks if they also suspect him of taking bribes to cover up details about Luke’s murder. He claims the mobster was an informant, and Follmer was giving him money, not the other way around. He can prove his story – can Reyes prove hers? Follmer wishes Reyes had come to him with her concerns, “especially given what I know now.”

Follmer tells Doggett and Reyes that Hayes is using a fake identity. The real Hayes died in 1978. Cadet Hayes is really a guy named Simms who was previously treated at a psych facility for paranoid schizophrenia. He checked himself out and disappeared ten years ago. Oh, and he was in New York City in 1993, the year Luke was murdered.

The agents send a SWAT team to Hayes’ apartment, but he seems to be waiting for them to arrive. He’s taken all the pictures off the walls. Elsewhere, Regali meets with Follmer, who tells him he’s lucky because Doggett is pursuing a different suspect. He asks if Regali was involved in Luke’s murder. Regali doesn’t appreciate Follmer asking him questions, or suspecting him of doing things like murdering children.

Follmer announces that he’s done with whatever they have going on. Regali notes that he can kill Follmer right now and make it seem like self-defense. If anything happens to Regali, the Washington Post will get a video proving that Follmer accepted a bribe to make an indictment go away for Regali. “You’re done when I say you’re done,” Regali says.

Doggett brings Barbara back for another lineup, and she focuses on Hayes/Simms for a long time. Scully presents him with a file full of evidence that he used a fake identify to get into the FBI academy, which is fraud. They think he orchestrated everything to get close to Doggett. Simms sticks to his story that his photos speak to him. He studied Luke’s case obsessively, as people with schizophrenia obsess over things. Yes, Barbara recognized him, but not from the day Luke was taken.

Doggett accuses Simms of lying, but Simms says he just wanted Doggett to listen to him. He knew Doggett wouldn’t believe a former psych patient with apparent psychic abilities. Doggett guesses that Simms gave him the tip that led him to find Ellen. Simms says he was just sending Doggett on Regali’s trail. He’s received another message, and he’d like to go home – not to his apartment, but to the institution he checked out of ten years ago.

The agents are back at square one, so Doggett returns to the bar to chat with Regali again. This time, he’s not here as an agent, but as a father. Regali insists that he doesn’t know who killed Luke, but he’s willing to offer up a hypothetical. Maybe there was a businessman who, for whatever reason, had to associate with people like Harvey. Maybe Harvey kidnapped the boy to do gross, illegal things to him, and the businessman caught them. Maybe the businessman had to get rid of the boy because the boy could identify him. Maybe the businessman had to find a solution to that problem.

Doggett ditches his parent persona and goes back to his FBI persona. He pulls out his gun and starts to follow Regali out of the bar. Outside, there’s a gunshot, and Doggett finds Regali on the ground, dead. Follmer has beaten Doggett the punch and, like Regali, has found a solution to his problem.

“Release”: Doggett and Barbara go to a beach to scatter Luke’s ashes in the ocean. When he returns to his car, Reyes is there, and Doggett hugs her warmly.

Thoughts: Jared Poe, who plays Simms, was an intern in the writers’ office, and not an actor. He asked Frank Spotnitz, the show’s executive producer, if he could audition for the role, and Spotnitz said okay, thinking Jared would never get it. But Jared beat out about 30 other actors for the part.

Simms is like House, if House were a semi-creepy FBI cadet with schizophrenia.

Maybe people with mental-health problems should be given a little more credit for being helpful in jobs like criminal investigations. I mean, it’s mostly about finding patterns and noticing small details, right? Who’s better at that than people with OCD and schizophrenia?

March 16, 2019

The X-Files 9.16, William: Scully’s Choice

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:10 pm by Jenn

Even William’s like, “Are you kidding with this, Mom?”

Summary: It’s a beautiful day on a farm in some unidentified location, which flies a flag with a white buffalo on it. A couple named the Van De Kamps is about to get the child they’ve been wanting for a long time. They’re not sure who would hand over a baby to strangers, but they’re glad they’re the strangers the mother chose. Their social worker tells them the mother is a single woman, and it was a hard decision for her to make, but it was for her son’s good. The couple gets their new child, who will later be renamed Jackson, but for now, his name is William.

One week earlier, Scully gets home with William, singing “Joy to the World” to him. Someone is lurking in the shadows on the street, watching her. Doggett’s in his office, doing pushups; he’s trying to make himself seem tough by counting up to 1,493, but he really only does 20. The lurker comes in after Doggett leaves and starts looking through a file cabinet. Doggett realizes he forgot something and goes back to the office, where the lurker beats him up.

Doggett chases the lurker, easily catching up to him despite the pounding he just took. He’s shocked when the lurker turns around. At 2:03 a.m., Scully and Reyes meet up in the office to figure out who the lurker (who’s identified himself as Miller) is. His face is disfigured, so Doggett hasn’t been able to properly ID him, but he says he knows Scully and has information for her about the alien conspiracy.

Scully goes in to talk to Miller, who’s willing to talk to the agents without a lawyer. He told Doggett he got access to the building via a card key Mulder gave him. Miller, whose voice is unrecognizable along with his face, tells Scully he came to find answers about what was done to him. Mulder said the men who hurt him a part of the conspiracy. But Miller won’t say when he spoke to Mulder, because Scully could use that info to find Mulder, and he doesn’t want to be found.

Doggett says Miller was stealing files from the X-Files cabinet when he was caught. Specifically, he was stealing Samantha’s files. Miller knows about her abduction and its part in the conspiracy. Scully isn’t sold on Miller’s knowledge of anything, but he’s not surprised she doesn’t believe him. Scully tells Doggett to send Miller to Quantico so she can examine him physically.

This exam helps Scully determine that Miller’s scarring is from something other than burns or chemicals. He admits that he was injected with something. Doggett pulls Scully and Reyes out of the room to tell them that the ID Miller gave him is fake. Doggett thinks he’s really Mulder. Scully says that’s crazy, but Doggett reminds her that what’s true and what they want to be true aren’t always the same.

Scully remains, as always, skeptical, so she just goes back to her exam. Miller asks her to help him make the people who hurt him pay. He knows she was abducted as well, and also had horrible things done to her. Scully tells him that the agents know he’s lying about his identify, which he confirms, though he won’t say who he really is. He’s worried that the same people after Mulder will kill him if they find out he’s there. Miller wants Scully’s help, but he also thinks he can help her get some answers.

For a second, Scully imagines he’s Mulder, but she tells Doggett and Reyes she’s sure it’s not him. She thinks the blood sample she took from him will confirm that after a DNA test. For now, they need to figure out what Miller wants and determine whether he’s lying. They should take him back to the FBI building.

The agents take Miller back to the X-Files office, asking why he took Samantha’s files. He tells them there’s a new conspiracy and there are aliens in the U.S. government. His disfigurement was a failure in their attempts to turn him into an alien as well. Now he wants to expose their plans to do the same to others. Mulder told Miller there are cases on people like him, but it looks like they’ve been removed from the office.

They’re at Scully’s place, and Scully is willing to hand them over to Miller. She secretly tells Reyes that this will prove that Miller isn’t Mulder. She and Mulder moved the files here for safekeeping, so if Miller were Mulder, he would know that. William starts crying, and Scully discovers Miller trying to comfort him. He says Mulder told him he misses William.

Scully demands to know where Mulder is, but Miller won’t go back on his promise to keep Mulder’s location secret to protect everyone. Miller asks to hold the baby, “for Mulder.” William’s happy again and seems totally fine in Miller’s arms. Scully spends a minute trying to figure out whether or not this is a father/son reunion.

Skinner summons Doggett to his office to await the results of Miller’s DNA test. He points out that Miller and Mulder don’t even have the same body type, so Doggett’s theory is ridiculous. Doggett thinks Miller’s abductors could have done any number of things to him. Skinner makes the same point as Scully, that Mulder would have known the files were at Scully’s, so he wouldn’t pretend he didn’t. Just then, a lab calls to give Skinner the lab results.

At Scully’s, she tells Miller that he put on a good show, but now he’s going to tell her the truth. He knows the circumstances of William’s conception, that he’s part alien and a part of the conspiracy. She begs him to tell her who he is. Just as she thinks she’s about to crack him, Doggett and Reyes interrupt to tell her that Miller’s DNA matches Mulder’s.

As Scully moves from denial to shock, Doggett and Reyes realize that Miller has disappeared. Good job, guys! Good job at being FBI agents! Doggett goes out to the street and sees Miller running away. He loses Miller in an alley but is able to find him hiding behind a Dumpster. Doggett promises that they’re going to protect him, so he can stop running.

Back at Scully’s, the agents give Miller some sleeping pills and put him to bed. They plan to keep him hidden so he’s safe from whoever abducted him. Scully’s back to denial, not sure the DNA test was accurate. Doggett tells her it was a perfect match. Reyes thinks Miller ran because he’s struggling with the way he looks now. Scully doesn’t think the real Mulder would care. Doggett thinks Miller’s ashamed that he couldn’t protect himself.

Miller wakes up sometime later and goes to the nursery, where William’s also awake. Miller pulls out a syringe and fills it, then puts some sort of goo on the baby’s mouth. He gives William an injection, then runs off before Scully can come in to comfort her screaming child. Doggett checks on Miller, who’s back in his bed, pretending he was asleep the whole time.

Scully sees blood and figures out that William was injected, so she rushes him to a hospital. Back at Scully’s, Doggett finds the syringe and threatens to killer Miller, no matter who he really is, if anything happens to William. But William gets a clean bill of health – the doctor at the hospital doesn’t find anything off about him other than an elevated level of iron in his blood. This brings everything together for Scully.

She confronts Miller at the FBI building, telling him that he’s the most vile, hateful kind of person in the world. Miller thinks she believed he was really Mulder, even for a minute, or at least she wanted to believe. Scully thinks he wishes constantly that he had died when he was shot. Miller – or, really, the long-missing Jeffrey Spender – tells her that he has positive feelings about that shooting, because it meant his father couldn’t destroy the one thing Spender loves most: his hatred of his father.

Scully knows that Spender was counting on the DNA test to confirm his story, because he and Mulder share DNA – they have the same biological father. That’s not how DNA works, but okay. Scully confirms that Spender hasn’t actually talked to or seen Mulder recently. He lied to gain the agents’ trusts so he could get access to William.

Scully checked the substance in the syringe, an unknown metal. Spender says it’s a form of magnetite. He calls it a gift. Really, it’s revenge – by injecting William, Spender has protected him from the alien conspiracy, which means CSM’s plans will fail. However, the conspirators will never believe that William is no longer useful to them, so he’s still in danger. Scully thinks she can protect him, but Spender’s face is a reminder of what she’s risking, and what could happen to William.

At William’s crib, Reyes tries to convince Scully that Spender was lying, and she doesn’t have anything to worry about. Scully doesn’t want to wait until it’s too late to find out she was wrong. They don’t have any choice about what William was, or is now, but she can choose to give him a safe life. She doesn’t think she can promise him protection, which is why William winds up with the Van De Kamps, with a brand-new mobile – featuring white buffalo – over his crib. But this time, he can’t move it with his mind.

Thoughts: David Duchovny co-wrote and directed this episode.

There’s a hole in Doggett’s theory: Why would Mulder go to the FBI building and pretend to be someone else? If he was afraid for his life if he went there, he just…wouldn’t go there.

Scully, stop letting strangers into your home, especially when William’s there.

March 9, 2019

The X-Files 9.15, Jump the Shark: The Good Fight

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 12:40 pm by Jenn

“What do you mean, a press pass for a conspiracy-theory paper isn’t good enough for a medical conference?”

Summary: Morris Fletcher gives us a voiceover narration about the Lone Gunmen and their adventures over the past few years. Over the course of their spin-off, they hired an intern named Jimmy Bond, and made an enemy of a woman named Yves Adele Harlow, who later became an ally. Morris calls the guys idealists but warns that “those who fight the good fight don’t always win.”

20 miles west of Harbor Island in the Bahamas, Morris is enjoying some time with a woman who is definitely not his wife. They’re in the Bermuda Triangle, which he claims he named. There are powerful forces underwater that haven’t yet been discovered by humans. Some men board their boat and give Morris a message: He’s fired. They pour gas on the boat, take off with Morris’ girlfriend, and throw a stick of dynamite on the boat. Morris jumps overboard as it explodes, destroying blueprints of a spaceship.

Morris ends up at the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Miami, where he requests a meeting with Doggett and Reyes. He’s in trouble for violating an act regarding federal secrets, thanks to his lax attitude toward checking in with former employer every month. He tells the agents he used to work at Area 51 and was one of the Men in Black. Doggett and Reyes are unimpressed.

Morris announces that he wants to make a deal to save his life. Reyes tells him that his girlfriend, Brittany, has turned up safe and told the agents what happened on the boat. Morris asks for protection in exchange for all the details of the government’s alien cover-up. The documents recovered from the boat are just the tip of the iceberg. But Reyes has no interest in that iceberg, since the blueprints are of the Jupiter 2 from Lost in Space.

Morris explains that he was freelancing for a foreign billionaire who believed Morris was in the Bermuda Triangle to get him a UFO the Air Force lost. The billionaire learned Morris was lying and now wants him dead. Reyes and Doggett, still unimpressed, start to leave, but they stop when Morris calls out, “Super-soldiers!” He may be able to find one for the agents to talk to.

Doggett and Reyes go to the Lone Gunmen’s lair and ask the guys to help them find Morris’ super-soldier. They recognize her as Yves, who disappeared a year ago. They laugh at the idea that she’s a super-soldier; they thought she was just a hacker. Morris joins the group, and the guys react badly. They warn the agents that Morris is a professional liar. He hired them to find Yves so he could kidnap her. Morris tells the agents that they shouldn’t rely on the Lone Gunmen to help them find Yves.

She’s currently at Hartwell College in Kearny, New Jersey, where she sprays a professor named Houghton with some kind of substance. A colleague sees her running away, then finds Houghton’s body, bloody from a big hole in his chest. The Lone Gunmen search for her, using anagrams of her name, which is itself an anagram of Lee Harvey Oswald. Morris amuses himself by making fun of their newspaper and not knowing who the Ramones are. He tells Langly to cut his hair and grow up already.

Langly gives an impassioned speech about how Joey Ramone is his hero because he never gave up, no matter how many times people tried to knock him down. And he’s not really dead, since guys like him live forever. Morris really doesn’t care. He thinks it would be easier to find Yves if they had her real name, which he claims is Lois Runce. They don’t believe him.

There’s a knock at the Gunmen’s secret door, which they say no one knows about, though it seems like Yves might. Jimmy’s the knocker, though, and he collapses as soon as the door opens. Once he’s recovered, he tells the guys he’s been all over the world looking for Yves, whose real name he confirms is Lois Runce. He found her in Kearny, but she ran away from him. Jimmy thinks she killed someone.

Yves throws whatever she pulled out of Houghton’s chest in a furnace and says, “One down.” Doggett and Reyes go to Hartwell and meet John Gillnitz, the colleague who saw Yves running away after killing Houghton. He has no idea why anyone would want to kill Houghton; he studied immunology in sharks.

Apparently the Lone Gunmen aren’t the greatest hackers in the world, as we’ve been led to believe, because they have to ask a guy named Kimmy for help tracking down Yves. They think she’s coming to D.C., and they want Kimmy to hack a satellite so they can keep an eye on her. The Gunmen head out, leaving Jimmy behind to look after Morris.

Doggett and Reyes go to the medical examiner’s office in New Jersey to find out what’s going on with Houghton’s body. His chest contains bioluminescence, and the ME says it looks like it bled out of him. Also, he had past operations, which the ME thought were from a pacemaker insertion, but he actually found living tissue grafted into Houghton’s chest. It looks like it held something that’s now missing. Reyes guesses that Yves killed Houghton to remove whatever was inside him.

The agents question Morris, who claims not to know anything about Houghton or his murder. Kimmy’s having trouble with his hacking, since the Lone Gunmen’s equipment is awful. They told the agents they’d cleared out a lot of their stuff because they were getting better equipment, but Kimmy knows they’re actually broke and had to sell their stuff to pay their rent. No one’s reading their paper, thanks to Morris – when he took Yves, the Gunmen spent all their money trying to find her.

Byers calls Reyes and summons her to the Hotel Farragut, where the Gunmen have found Yves. She’s followed a man to his room, seemingly to do to him what she did to Houghton. The Gunmen burst into the room to stop her, allowing the man to knock her out and escape.

Jimmy and the agents come to the hotel, but the man, alias Leonard Southall, has disappeared. Since Yves was able to be rendered unconscious, the Gunmen figure she’s not really a super-soldier. Jimmy doesn’t believe that Yves was really going to kill Southall, but she confirms that was her plan. If she doesn’t finish her mission, innocent people will die.

Everyone returns to the Lone Gunmen’s lair so Yves can confront Morris for sending everyone after her. He’s wearing a tracking device that Yves thinks he was going to activate when he knew Yves had been captured. The whole thing, including the stuff with the boat and Brittany, was a scam to get the agents and the Gunmen to track Yves down for him.

Yves reports that the billionaire Morris works for is her father. He’s a murderer, and she hates everything he stands for. Jimmy reminds Yves that she’s a murderer, too. Her excuse is that Houghton was a terrorist her father paid to do research that would lead to the development of a weapon. He was carrying a virus inside him, wrapped in shark cartilage. Southall has the same thing inside him, and is basically a human time bomb. At 8:00 tonight, in five hours, it’ll rupture and kill anyone within five or six miles. Yves doesn’t think Morris knew all the details of the terrorism plot.

The Gunmen get to work finding Southall while Morris tries to give them encouragement that the end of their newspaper doesn’t mean the end of good guys fighting for what’s right. Maybe it’s time to pass the torch. Byers doesn’t know what they would do instead, though. Like Joey Ramone, he doesn’t want them to ever give up.

Langly and Kimmy get Southall’s location, and since he’s in Jersey, Yves guesses he’s going to Hartwell. She’s right, and they send a group of authorities to capture Southall. However, medical testing finds nothing in Southall to indicate that he has a virus inside him. Doggett thinks they have the wrong guy. Yves says there must be someone else, but time’s running out – it’s already 7:00. The real second man goes to a medical conference, where a security scan doesn’t detect anything off about him. It’s John Gillnitz.

The good guys wonder why Southall would go to Hartwell if he supposedly wasn’t involved in the terrorism plot. Morris uses Three-Card Monte as a metaphor to help them understand that he’s a decoy. The real second man is probably hiding in plain sight. Yves easily figures out it’s Gillnitz.

The Gunmen, Yves, and Jimmy head to the conference, but a security guard doesn’t accept the Gunmen’s press passes. Jimmy takes a unique approach to the situation: He yells out Gillnitz’s name, then headbutts the security guard so they can get past him. They all chase Gillnitz, willing to do whatever it takes to protect everyone the virus could harm, even if it means killing Gillnitz.

The Gunmen find the terrorist with just two minutes left until 8:00. Jimmy and Yves don’t hear them yelling, which means the Gunmen have to save the day on their own. Frohike pulls a fire alarm, which triggers fire doors and traps them in a hallway with Gillnitz. Yves and Jimmy arrive in time to see Gillnitz collapse and spasm from the bioluminescence leaking out of him. The doors are airtight, and the Gunmen have already been exposed, so Yves won’t let Jimmy try to save them. The Gunmen tell Yves and Jimmy to keep fighting the good fight and never give up.

Sometime later, the Gunmen are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Kimmy says a tearful goodbye to them, then leaves Scully, Doggett, Skinner, Yves, and Jimmy with their coffins. Skinner pulled some strings to get them buried their, and feels it was the least he could do. Scully tells Jimmy and Yves that the Gunmen meant a lot to her, and she’s not sure they knew it. Jimmy says no one knew that the Gunmen were such heroes.

Morris arrives to repeat what Langly said about how people who don’t give up never die. He’s not sure what that means. Scully says that, like everyone else buried there, the world is a better place because the Gunmen were in it. They’re gone, but they’ll live on through their friends.

Thoughts: Yves is played by Zuleikha Robinson. Gillnitz is played by Marcus Giamatti, brother of Paul.

Goodbye, lovely Gunmen. I hope your afterlife has better hacking equipment.

I don’t have words for how much I love Michael McKean.

If my parents named me Lois Runce, I’d change my name, too.

March 2, 2019

The X-Files 9.14, Scary Monsters: WWMASD? (What Would Mulder and Scully Do?)

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

Yes, let’s show this kid more violent images on TV. That’s a great plan

Summary: In Fairhope, Pennsylvania, a boy named Tommy is lying awake in bed. He’s spooked by a tree branch tapping against his window and checks under his bed for monsters. He hears a noise from his closet and yells for his father, Jeffrey, asking him to make sure there’s really nothing under the bed. Jeffrey does, telling Tommy his imagination is playing tricks on him. But after he leaves, Tommy can see something under his bed reflected in his mirror. He tries to get out of his room, screaming for help, but Jeffrey’s holding the door closed.

Scully’s back in Quantico, trying to take a break from her eager students. Leyla Harrison comes to see her, reporting that she’s gone back to accounting rather than continuing to have adventures in the field. She has a case for Scully, who just wants to eat her lunch. In the course of busting a secretary for borrowing an FBI vehicle without permission, Leyla came across a possible X-File. The secretary’s daughter was Tommy’s mother, who was recently killed. Tommy told his grandmother that a monster killed her, and his father knows about it.

Leyla knows an eight-year-old isn’t a reliable source, but the fact that the coroner says Tommy’s mother stabbed herself to death is a big red flag. Scully thinks the coroner’s report is fine, and it’s perfectly reasonable that a woman would stab herself 16 times. Leyla tells her that Jeffrey took Tommy to a mountain cabin and has cut him off from the rest of the world, including his grandmother. Tommy also told his grandmother that the monster that killed his mother also killed Spanky, his cat. Scully says she can’t do anything, unless Leyla happens to bring her the cat’s body.

Reyes calls Scully at home that night while she and Doggett are driving somewhere. Leyla has brought them the X-File, and is tagging along on a trip to Pennsylvania. Scully tells Reyes the same thing she told Leyla – there’s no case. Reyes confronts Leyla for not telling her and Doggett that she already approached Scully with the case. Doggett just turns the car around to go back to D.C.

Leyla thinks they should continue the trip to Pennsylvania – even if the case isn’t an X-File, they should still want to help Tommy. She says Mulder would go if he were there. Doggett changes his mind, and the agents arrive in Fairhope as Jeffrey’s finishing burying something in the snowy yard outside his mountain cabin. Jeffrey insists that everything’s fine, but Doggett sees blood on his hand. Jeffrey says he just cut himself on some glass.

Reyes asks to talk to Tommy, but Jeffrey says he’s in bed already. Doggett notes that it’s only 7:00. Reyes says that Doggett’s stubborn and won’t leave until they get to see Tommy. Tommy himself comes outside and tells his father that he heard a noise that scared him. The agents remind Tommy what he said to his grandmother about monsters, but Tommy robotically says that monsters don’t exist. Jeffrey tells the agents that this is why his mother-in-law isn’t allowed to visit her grandson anymore.

Leyla thinks her imagination, like Tommy’s, got the better of her and she dragged Reyes and Doggett out on a non-case. But Reyes and Doggett are sure that Tommy and Jeffrey are hiding something. Doggett can tell that Jeffrey’s been digging, which is enough probable cause for a judge to give them a search warrant. As the agents leave, Tommy says to Jeffrey that he doesn’t think the monsters will let them go. Indeed, the monsters keep Doggett’s car from starting, and they make blood shoot out of the vents. Some kind of dead animal is under the hood.

Scully gets a late-night visit from a friend of Leyla’s named Gabe Rotter. He’s there to deliver Spanky’s body. Scully decides to be “exceptionally polite” and only tell Gabe firmly that he needs to leave. Gabe complains that he had to sneak around and dig a bunch of holes to find the cat’s body, so Scully is going to be grateful for his work. Also, Leyla said she’d only go out with him if he delivered the cat.

Scully immediately tries to call Reyes, but she doesn’t have cell service in the mountain cabin. The car won’t start, despite not seeming to have anything wrong with it, so the agents are stuck in Fairhope for the night. Leyla’s reminded of Mulder and Scully’s circumstances in “D.P.O.” and their inability to use anything electrical. She wonders what Mulder and Scully would do in this situation. Doggett reminds her that they’re not there. He and Reyes think their situation is the best possible thing – they’re with the very person they want to keep safe.

Upstairs, Tommy yells for help again. The agents find Jeffrey holding his door shut and burst into Tommy’s room as Jeffrey tries to tell them not to. There are creatures in Tommy’s room that look like giant bugs. Doggett shoots one, and the others skitter under the bed.

Tommy draws a picture of himself and Reyes while Doggett searches the house for more creatures, with no luck. Tommy tells the agents the that creatures are the monsters that killed his mom, but his dad doesn’t want him to talk about them. Doggett goes back to Tommy’s room, which is full of his drawings. He blasts Jeffrey for trapping his son in the room with the creatures.

Jeffrey shows some scars on his arm, saying the creatures almost killed him once before. He’s trying to deal with monsters that won’t leave him and his son alone. He thinks they want to kill the agents, and there’s nothing they can do to stop them. Killing the creatures won’t stop them. Leyla disagrees – what would he have been burying in the yard earlier other than a monster?

In D.C., Gabe watches uncomfortably as Scully performs a necropsy on the cat while wearing an apron that says “something smells goo-ooood.” I bet Mulder got that for her. Speaking of Mulder, his fish tank is now in Scully’s kitchen. Gabe’s like, “You’re cutting open a dead cat on your kitchen table while your baby sleeps a few doors down. This is totally normal for you?” Scully thinks that the cat killed itself, just like Tommy’s mother killed herself.

The phone rings, so Scully asks Gabe to hold the cat’s ribs open while she answers it. Gabe’s like, “This date Leyla promised me better be excellent.” The call is from a sheriff named Jack Coogan whom Scully called to help her get in touch with the other agents. Coogan tells her that Tommy’s grandmother asked him to look in on Tommy, but Jeffrey chased him away when he showed up. Tommy seemed fine, so Coogan didn’t follow up. He’s happy to go back and check on the agents, but not now – it’s snowing, and the roads are icing over.

Doggett digs up the thing Jeffrey buried in the yard, cutting himself just like Jeffrey did. He was telling the truth about it being glass – he buried the mirror from Tommy’s room. He buried it because Tommy was afraid of it. Doggett tells him to pack up his son so they can all leave the cabin. Leyla guesses they’re dealing with black magic, and the mirror was used for conjuring. Doggett’s like, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking.”

He plans to have them all walk to the sheriff’s station, which makes Tommy nervous. Jeffrey promises his son that Coogan will help them. Tommy runs to Reyes for comfort. Coogan arrives at the cabin and tells everyone they can’t leave because it’s too cold outside. Jeffrey realizes Coogan isn’t really Coogan. Reyes sees that Coogan has drawn his gun and yells out a warning. Doggett fights the sheriff, trying to punch him in the stomach, and is shocked when his fist goes right through the man.

Gabe amuses himself by snooping around Scully’s apartment while she’s on the phone. He finds Mulder’s FBI badge and says, “So this is Johnny Fabulous, huh?” HA! I love this guy. He’s heard all about Mulder from Leyla, who talks about him and Scully all the time. Scully’s worried since she can’t get in touch with Coogan again, and her concern concerns Gabe. She thinks the cat was trying to chew something out of itself that was causing a lot of pain. She figures that’s why Tommy’s mother stabbed herself – she was trying to cut something out of her body.

While Scully calls Maggie to get her to babysit so Scully can go to Pennsylvania, Reyes channels her to do a cursory autopsy of Coogan’s body. He has no internal organs, and Doggett has decided his blood isn’t blood (and that the “blood” in his car isn’t really blood either). Knowing he sounds like Leyla, Doggett says he remembers one of Mulder and Scully’s cases similar to this – their mushroom hallucinations from “Field Trip.” He stops before he can compare the two cases.

Reyes says that Mulder and Scully might see something in this case that she and Doggett don’t. Doggett doesn’t know what it would be, since nothing there makes sense. Then he realizes that might be exactly what they need to see. They try to send Tommy, who’s drawing more pictures, out of the room with Leyla, but he doesn’t want to go. He’d rather be with Reyes, so she goes upstairs with him instead.

Doggett asks Jeffrey how he knew Coogan wasn’t Coogan. Why did he move Tommy to the cabin and lock him in the room with the monsters? Jeffrey insists that he loves Tommy and would never hurt him. He locked Tommy in with the monsters because he knew they wouldn’t hurt him either. Upstairs, Tommy shows Reyes a bunch of his drawings, including ones he did of the monsters. There’s also a drawing of Reyes with a monster inside her. Reyes asks why he would imagine something so horrible. “Because I’m afraid,” he says.

Scully and Gabe go to the sheriff’s station and meet up with the real Coogan. He says he tried to get to the cabin, but it was too dangerous. Gabe and Scully remind him that some agents and Gabe’s girlfriend (okay, buddy, slow it down) are at the cabin, and they need to find a way to get there. Coogan says he can’t help them.

Leyla wonders if Tommy is somehow at the center of what’s going on. They go back to Coogan’s body, which isn’t there anymore. Suddenly Reyes comes downstairs, gasping in pain. She confirms that Tommy’s responsible for everything that’s happening. And just like in his drawing, Reyes has a monster inside her stomach.

Doggett tells Jeffrey that he has to stop Tommy from whatever it is he’s doing. Jeffrey says he can’t stop Tommy from being afraid and imagining things. He doesn’t mean to do all this stuff. Reyes disagrees. Doggett runs upstairs to stop Tommy himself, but Tommy has crossed over into creepy-little-kid territory, so Doggett’s not much of a match for him. Thanks to Tommy’s imagination, Doggett falls out of the house into a black nothingness full of the bug creatures.

Back in the house, Reyes begs Leyla to get the monster out of her. Jeffrey’s no help, and Leyla’s starting to bleed out of her eyes, thanks to a new drawing Tommy’s working on, so Reyes is in a bit of trouble here. Jeffrey goes to his son’s room, but Doggett has made it back inside and stops him from opening the door. He’s adamant that what’s happening isn’t real. Tommy’s mother only stabbed herself because she thought it was real. Doggett doesn’t, so it can’t hurt him.

Tommy hears Jeffrey outside the door and yells for him to come into the room. From his window, he sees the agents and Jeffrey leaving the house together. Doggett goes back in and pours gasoline around the living room, telling Tommy he’s going to set the house on fire. Tommy thinks Doggett’s just trying to scare him. Doggett lights a match and asks, “Scared yet?” He starts a fire and stands in the flames like they won’t hurt him.

Outside, Leyla’s bleeding has stopped, and Reyes’ monster is gone. Scully and Gabe arrive in a Jeep with a plow attached and run into the house, which isn’t actually on fire. Tommy is unconscious, which I guess is why all the weird stuff stopped. Scully checks him over as Doggett tells Reyes that she was right. Also, the gasoline was just water.

In D.C., Leyla and Gabe get to enter a place she’s probably only dreamed of going – the X-Files office, which still has Mulder’s “I want to believe” poster on the wall. Leyla’s happy that the division is still in good hands. She’s moved her affection from Mulder to Doggett, thinking that Doggett was better equipped for this case than Mulder would have been. After all, Doggett’s “lack of imagination” is what saved them all. Doggett’s not as flattered as Leyla intended.

Reyes reports that Tommy’s in a psych facility, and obviously the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him or exactly how to treat it. But for now, they’re stifling his imagination by having him watch a bunch of TVs at once. Ha ha! TV ruins your imagination! It’s funny because a TV show is saying it! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Sigh.

Thoughts: Steve Ryan, who plays Coogan, also played J. Walter Weatherman on Arrested Development, so now I have all these “and that’s why you don’t _____” jokes running through my head.

Someone working on this show was a David Bowie fan. The title is from one of his albums, and the last scene is similar to one from Bowie’s movie The Man Who Fell to Earth.

The idea of drawings coming to life is featured in pop culture more than I realized. Three other instances:

  • The Doctor Who episode “Fear Her”
  • The Supernatural episode “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”
  • Keith Donohue’s book The Boy Who Drew Monsters

February 23, 2019

The X-Files 9.13, Improbable: The Theory of Everything

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

I have no words

Summary: A man playing poker in a casino is very bad about keeping a poker face when he’s dealt a 2 and a 3. He folds and moves on to the slot machines, where he stares creepily at a woman. Then he joins Burt Reynolds (yes, the real Burt Reynolds) at the bar and orders the exact thing Burt predicted he would, a 7 and 7 and a pack of Morleys. The player, Wayne, wonders if Burt knows him. Burt says he’s “part of the regular game.”

Burt continues that Wayne’s problem isn’t the cards, but playing the hand he’s dealt. When he gets bad cards, he needs to know what to do with them. Cards can’t think, so Wayne needs to make them work for him. There are millions of possible hands, but “the game can’t beat the man.” Burt tells Wayne that the woman he was watching comes to the casino every weekend and never wins, but she keeps coming, hoping her luck will change.

Wayne starts to follow the woman into the bathroom, but Burt stops him, asking if Wayne is bluffing. He wants Wayne to surprise him by leaving the casino. Instead, Wayne goes after the woman. As Burt finishes his game of solitaire with the same 2 and 3 Wayne was dealt, the woman’s slot machine pays off for another player. A woman then emerges from the bathroom, screaming about a murder. Burt draws the ace of spades.

In D.C., Reyes reads about the woman’s murder in the paper. She’s very talented, as she’s able to walk through the halls of the FBI building without running into anyone while she looks down at the paper. Scully joins her in her office, where Reyes is doing math. She asks if Scully thinks the universe is knowable in math, and can be reduced to a simple equation. Scully recognizes this idea as the Theory of Everything, but she doesn’t believe in it. She isn’t sure an equation that complex is even possible.

Reyes presents some unsolved cases of murder victims from the past few years. The woman from the casino, Amy, is the latest victim, having been killed two weeks ago. Reyes thinks that by assigning numbers to the letters of the victims’ names – numerology – she can figure out who killed them. It’s something she’s been doing for years. Reyes has also calculated karmic numbers for the victims.

Scully notes that she has no other evidence connecting the victims, so she doesn’t have much of a case. But Scully sees something in a picture from Amy’s murder scene that piques her interest. There’s a pattern in the bruising on the body that the other victims have. It could be from the killer’s ring. Reyes realizes that she might not have such a crazy theory after all. Scully says maybe Reyes and the killer are both crazy.

Wayne gets ready for another day of killing, or whatever, and sees Burt playing Three-Card Monte on the street outside his apartment. Burt lip-synchs to a French song, and the other people on the street start moving with the rhythm of the song. Triplets and three pigeons are nearby. Wayne approaches and tells Burt to stop following him or he’ll end up dead, too. Burt knows Wayne won’t hurt him; it doesn’t fit his pattern. He does another round of Three-Card Monte, which Wayne loses. Burt lets him in on the game’s secret: “Choose better.”

Wayne leaves angrily, almost bumping into Reyes, who’s in the neighborhood to see Vicki Burdick in room 333 of the Hotel Knickerbocker. Vicki’s a numerologist, but she doesn’t think she can be much help, since she deals with living people, not the dead. Her specialty is using numbers to provide guidance. Reyes insists that there’s a connection among the four murder victims, and if Vicki can help her figure out who the killer is, they can prevent more murders.

Too late – Doggett calls to tell Reyes that two more bodies have been found. On the plus side, he thinks Reyes’ discoveries could launch her career. You hear that, murder victims? Your deaths are not in vain! An FBI agent will benefit! Reyes goes back to the office, where her colleagues great her with applause. This is somehow not a dream sequence.

An agent named Fordyce tells Reyes that they’ve dubbed the murderer the Triple Zero Killer because of the pattern he leaves on his victims’ bodies. Three women were killed in 1999, and three recently, so the killer seems to like 3s. They just need to figure out three things: how the killer chooses his victims, how he kills them, and whether he’s planning more murders soon or if he’ll go into hiding for two years again.

Doggett wonders if the killer disappeared for two years because he was in prison. Scully profiles the killer as angry and strong. Reyes’ contributions to the brainstorming session are all about numbers. She thinks the killer’s using vibrational disharmonies to pick his victims. There’s practically a record scratch. Seriously, how is this not a dream sequence? Vicki calls to give Reyes some information, but she’s interrupted when Wayne stops by.

The agents go over to check out what’s now their seventh murder scene. Fordyce wants to know how the killer knew to come after Vicki, since no one else knew about Reyes’ theory. Is it just a coincidence? Fordyce notes that the FBI has a reputation to uphold, so agents can’t be going to numerologists or psychics for help. I guess he doesn’t know about how helpful Clyde Bruckman was all those years ago.

Fordyce isn’t interested in numbers; killers work on impulses, even if they don’t understand them, and that’s how they’ll catch this one. Reyes points out that if the killer acts on impulses he can’t understand, the agents might not be able to understand them either. Killers may have different impulses, and not all of them will lead to murder. Fordyce won’t accept that idea.

Doggett notes that if Reyes didn’t tell anyone else she had come to see Vicki, the only people who would know work for the FBI. Fordyce doesn’t think they need to worry about an inside job – it’s improbable. Doggett says that doesn’t make it impossible. Fordyce tells them he doesn’t care how they solve the case, as long as they find the killer.

Reyes tells Doggett that Vicki had information for her from the victims’ numerological charts. She tells Doggett his karmic number is 6, which aligns with his personality. Doggett says the same traits outlined in his karmic number are shared by lots of people. They’re people, not numbers. Reyes still thinks Vicki had a reason to call her. Doggett decides to do some actual FBI work while Reyes figures that out.

Wayne runs into Burt again; this time he’s playing with dominoes. He’s arranged them in a spiral and knocks them down as Doggett passes by. Wayne thinks Burt is trying to draw attention to him so he’ll get caught. Burt invites him to play a game, but Wayne says he doesn’t play Wayne’s games. Burt knows that’s true. As Wayne leaves, Burt studies a domino with three dots.

Scully starts Vicki’s autopsy at 6:06 p.m. She finds patterns of six dots on Vicki’s skin, then sees that her tape recorder is at minute 666. She joins Reyes at Vicki’s office with the revelation that the triple zeroes on the victims’ bodies aren’t actually zeroes – they’re 666, just worn away. She thinks 666 is on the killer’s ring. Reyes also has a revelation: Vicki did her own chart and realized her numbers matched the other victims’. That must be why the killer targeted her.

“Her Number Was Up” is the headline of the newspaper article about Vicki’s murder. Doggett has posted it on a board next to a map of all the victims’ locations, which form the number 6. Fordyce announces that he thinks they’ve come up with a profile of the killer. It’s basically the same profile of every serial killer ever. Fordyce doesn’t see why that’s a problem. Doggett thinks Reyes could be on to something, and the number 6 could be significant to the murders. Fordyce reminds him that they have seven victims now.

Reyes and Scully leave Vicki’s office, encountering Wayne on the elevator. Scully looks at his ring as he holds the door while the women get off. She forces him out of the elevator at gunpoint, but he ducks back in just as the doors close. That seems like a really dumb error for a seasoned FBI agent to let happen. Anyway, the women head to the stairs and chase Wayne in the parking garage, but he drives off and leaves them trapped by a gate.

There’s no cell reception in the garage, and neither agent saw the car’s license plate, so even if they could call for help, they couldn’t tell anyone to put out an APB on Wayne’s car. The closest door has a numerical keypad on it, so the women can’t open it. They’ll just have to wait until someone finds them. Reyes points out that they can’t be sure Wayne was in the car; he could still be in the garage with them.

They search the garage, but the only person they find is Burt. He tells him he’s waiting for a friend so they can play checkers. He invites the women to play with him, but they’re a little busy. After Reyes frisks Burt (probably the highlight of Annabeth Gish’s career), the women tell him to open his car trunk, where he said he kept his checkerboard. It’s full of classical CDs.

Scully tells Burt that they’re looking for a serial killer. Burt asks if there’s anything he can do, but without a working phone or the combination to the door, he’s as useless as the women are right now. They pass the time playing checkers, which Burt is really, really good at. Scully tries to shoot off the doorknob on the door with the keypad, with no luck. More checkers, this time with the women playing each other while Burt dances.

Reyes is playing with red pieces while Scully plays with black, but Reyes suddenly realizes something and turns the board. She thinks hair color is a factor. The killer murders a blonde, a redhead, and a brunette, in that order. Since Vicki was blonde, the next victim will have red hair, and the ninth will have brown hair. You know, like Scully and Reyes.

Burt casually says it’s remarkable that Reyes got that from a game of checkers. Now Scully thinks he’s somehow connected to the murders. Reyes thinks it’s all in the numbers, and Scully decides Burt isn’t a threat after all. The women tell him the numbers theory, and he asks if the numbers are helping the agents catch the killer, or if he’s using them to stay ahead of the authorities. It’s like a game.

Scully tells Reyes they can’t reduce this whole case to a game. Reyes reminds her that Scully, as a scientist, is ruled by numbers. So doesn’t it make sense that everything made from those numbers is also ruled by numbers? Scully says that makes everyone checkers on a checkerboard, being moved by some higher being. Reyes quotes Einstein: “God does not play dice with the universe.” Scully thinks that covers checkers, too. All of creation and life can’t be reduced to a win/lose game.

Reyes disagrees – maybe the people who win just see patterns better than others. Maybe they’re not the next victims, but are going to stop the killer. Wayne could still be in the garage with them. Suddenly the lights go out. Burt puts away his checkerboard as the women search the garage again. Reyes finds Wayne first, and he overpowers her before she can alert Scully. But ONCE A-FREAKING-GAIN, Doggett shows up in time to shoot the killer and save his partner.

The agents try to get Wayne to tell them why he killed people before he dies. He shakes his head but doesn’t tell them anything. Doggett tells the women that he saw the same pattern of victims that they did and thought Scully and Reyes would be Wayne’s next targets. The women run back to talk to Burt, but he’s already gone.

At the FBI building, Fordyce and some other agents turn their heads to make the 6 on the map of victims become a 9. Scully puts William to bed, but she can’t sleep herself until she talks to Reyes. She wants to know her own numerology. Reyes reports that she’s a 9, a number of completion. She has come to understand that “this life is only part of a whole.” One more thing bugging Scully: Who was the man in the garage? “God knows,” Reyes says. Then there’s a lip-synching/dance sequence in Wayne’s neighborhood, because this show is weird. When the camera pans out to show the city, we can see Burt’s face.

Thoughts: Vicki is played by Ellen Greene.

I’m so mad I already used the title “Murder by Numbers.”

I’m very grateful for this light, fun episode in the middle of a season full of baby angst and trauma.

Wayne: “Go to Hell.” Burt: “Are the reservations in your name?” Heh.

February 16, 2019

The X-Files 9.12, Underneath: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Cable Guy

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:10 pm by Jenn

Jason Mantzoukas? Is that you?

Summary: In Brooklyn, a cable guy pulls up outside a house and kisses a crucifix. A voice from the back of the truck tells him to go do his job. This job involves lying to the family inside that their cable’s out, then acting really squirrelly. Suddenly, the father of the family is dead on the floor, and the mom and daughter are dead in the kitchen. Two cops arrive seconds later and arrest the cable guy. One of those cops is Doggett.

In D.C., Doggett is yelling at someone on the phone, angry that the cable guy (Robert Fassl) has been cleared of the murders thanks to DNA evidence. Doggett insists that if Fassl is released from prison, he’ll kill again. He was known as the Screwdriver Killer and murdered seven people 13 years ago. Doggett thinks the DNA evidence is the result of a lab mistake.

He tells Reyes that neighbors called the police after hearing screams (which we didn’t hear in the original scene), and Doggett and his partner found the family dead. Fassl was in the house, so he must have been the killer. Reyes points out that they didn’t catch him in the act. Scully arrives and confirms the medical examiner’s report – the DNA exonerates Fassl. The odds are a hundred million to one that there was a mistake. Doggett wants her to redo the tests herself anyway. He’ll be going to New York to make sure Fassl doesn’t kill anyone else.

Fassl is released from prison in New York and collects the belongings he had with him when he was arrested, including the crucifix. The press is interested in hearing from him, but his attorney, Jana Fain, speaks for him, saying they’re looking into procedures at the D.A.’s office and the police department to determine why he was falsely imprisoned for 13 years. Fassl spots a bearded man across the street, staring at him.

Scully and Doggett are in New York, trying to convince the ADA, Damon Kaylor, to let them look into the evidence. Doggett points out that if Fassl really is innocent, the real killer is still out there, and his victims’ families are going to want some answers. As Doggett and Scully look through files, she notes that the case must have been a career-maker for him. He remembers how relieved everyone was when they thought they’d finally found the killer. Scully reminds him that even good cops make mistakes.

Doggett wants to make it clear that he’s not reopening the case just to cover up his errors. Scully knows that, but she doesn’t want him to feel guilty. Doggett says he would never send someone to prison if he wasn’t absolutely sure the person was guilty. This is just a matter of finishing the job he obviously didn’t finish 13 years ago.

Jana takes Fassl to her house since he has no other place to stay. Her house his huge, and she has a full-time housekeeper, thanks to a generous inheritance from her parents. Jana tells Fassl that she tries to use her wealth to help people, which explains why she took his case. She’s fully convinced that Fassl is innocent, and she feels horrible that he was punished for a crime he didn’t commit. Alone in his new room, Fassl prays with his crucifix and rosary, but stops when his hands start bleeding. He looks up to see “KILL HER” written in blood on the wall.

Doggett reunites with his old partner, Duke Tomasick, wanting help going over the case. Duke thinks they just arrested the wrong man. He warns Doggett that if he keeps working the case, it’ll come back to bite him. At Jana’s, she finds Fassl praying again and remarks that it’s great how everything he’s been through hasn’t diminished his faith. (He was once a seminary student.) He tells her he prays all the time, even when it doesn’t look like he’s praying. Jana’s sure that someone’s listening. Well, yeah, but it’s the bearded guy, and he has a screwdriver he wants to use on Jana.

Doggett works all night only to get bad news from Scully: Hair samples found at the murder scene belong to someone other than Fassl. However, the DNA in the hair is very similar to Fassl’s, and must belong to a blood relative. Doggett knows that Fassl’s parents died when he was a teen, and he’s an only child, so he doesn’t have any blood relatives.

Fassl wakes up on his floor and is surprised to see Jana in his room, completely unharmed. In a stroke of luck, she was at the county lockup the previous night. However, someone went through her things in her room, and since Fassl’s the only houseguest, she thinks he’s violating her privacy. Now that he’s free, he has to be responsible. P.S. The housekeeper is MIA, and there’s blood dripping from a kitchen cabinet. As soon as Jana leaves for work, Fassl pulls the housekeeper’s body out of the cabinet and chops it up for easier transportation.

Reyes is now in New York, meeting with Brian Hutchinson, the warden at the prison where Fassl spent the past 13 years. He thinks Fassl really is a murderer and should still be behind bars. His cellmate was murdered, and the killer, whose picture was snapped by a security camera, was the bearded man. He wasn’t an inmate, so no one’s sure what all happened. They also couldn’t pin the murder on Fassl, though Hutchinson is sure he was involved somehow.

Since the DNA retests say Fassl’s innocent, Kaylor doesn’t get why Doggett and Scully are still working the case. The DA’s office is planning to offer Fassl a settlement and end the whole thing. Doggett’s all, “But! The truth!” Kaylor doesn’t care about the truth, since the DNA evidence is definitive. Just then, Reyes shows up to tell Doggett and Scully that they have a new suspect – the unidentifiable bearded man.

Doggett tells Reyes that Fassl, not the bearded man, was in the house 13 years ago, so the bearded man isn’t important to the case. Reyes disagrees, suggesting that Fassl and the bearded man are somehow connected. Doggett would rather not have this turn into an X-File. Reyes thinks one of the men is doing the other’s bidding. They just need to compare the DNA from Fassl’s cellmate’s murder to the DNA from the 1989 murders.

Scully says that won’t work – the hair samples logged from the 1989 crime scene weren’t actually at the scene. Doggett thinks she’s accusing him of planting evidence, but Scully just wants the facts on the table. The DNA evidence that convicted Fassl was planted.

Kaylor goes to Jana’s house to tell Fassl they want to offer him a settlement. To his surprise, Fassl announces that he wants to go back to prison. Kaylor thinks Fassl’s about to make a confession, so he tries to leave, but the bearded man stops him with a screwdriver to the back. Looks like Fassl has another body to get rid of.

Doggett confronts Duke, who admits to planting the evidence that sent Fassl to prison. He was sure Fassl was guilty and wanted to make sure he was punished. Doggett reminds him that he committed a felony, not to mention did something unforgivable. Scully interrupts to report that Kaylor has gone missing. Meanwhile, Fassl’s hiding Kaylor’s body in some kind of tunnel. There’s a skull nearby, so this can’t be the first time Fassl’s been down there.

Knowing that Kaylor went to see Fassl, Scully and Reyes call him in for questioning. They try to play good cop to convince Jana they don’t think Fassl has done anything wrong. When they show Fassl and Jana a picture of the bearded man, Fassl gets agitated. Scully notices him holding his rosary and asks if he’s Catholic. She knows a rosary can be a great comfort, like Fassl obviously wants his to be right now. She asks about the bearded man, guessing that Fassl just wants him to go away.

Jana accuses the agents of playing mind games and announces that she and her client are leaving. Doggett comes in, having watched the whole conversation, and Reyes says she’s changing her theory. Maybe Fassl can’t admit that he has a sinful side, even to himself, and has manifested a second personality that does all the bad stuff. If he could actually physically become that other personality – the bearded man – that would explain the different DNA.

Doggett scoffs at the idea of a real-life Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde situation. Reyes argues that Catholicism backs up her idea, when you really think of transubstantiation. Scully sums it up: Fassl won’t face his sins, so he’s forced to become a killer. Doggett wonders how they’re supposed to catch a killer who hides inside an innocent person.

Back at Jana’s, “KILL HER” appears in blood on the bathroom wall. Then the bearded man smacks Fassl around a bit, telling him to kill. So this is Fight Club now? Jana hears the scuffling and checks on Fassl, who just says he fell. When she goes to get a bandage for a cut on his head, the bearded man ambushes her.

Doggett and Reyes stake out Jana’s house, fighting about her theory. Doggett thinks regular old police work is good enough to solve this case. It’s really all he has anyway. They spot the bearded man lurking around the house and chase him. Jana’s still okay, and she tells Reyes that Fassl was there one minute and then suddenly gone.

Doggett finds a hatch labeled “cable access,” and he and Reyes go into the tunnel underneath it. Regular old police work ensues, though I’m not sure they should be splitting up. Reyes winds up falling in some water, where she finds Kaylor’s body and some skeletons. The bearded man sneaks up on Doggett and knocks his gun into the water. Reyes finds the bearded man holding a screwdriver to Doggett’s neck.

She tries to get through to Fassl, appealing to the part of him that couldn’t bring himself to kill Jana. The bearded man denies that he’s Fassl. Reyes calls him a sinner and a murderer, which just makes him madder. She manages to get off a shot in the bearded man’s back, and he falls in the water. When Doggett pulls him out, he’s Fassl. Well, well, well! Looks like Reyes’ crazy theory was correct!

Scully and Jana come down to help look over the crime scene. Jana knows she saw the bearded man, so she’s a little confused about how Fassl could be the killer. Doggett – sleep-deprived, and coming off of finding out his former partner is a felon – can’t explain anything. Reyes agrees that this time around, regular old police work was good enough. They closed the case. Of course, who knows it that’ll be enough next time?

Thoughts: Yeah, you don’t get released from prison the day after evidence exonerates you. The justice system is nowhere near that fast.

Hutchinson says Fassl’s cellmate was a “bada&%,” but how tough can you be with a name like Spud?

Why would Fassl ask to go back to prison when the bearded man could still kill people there? It’s not like he could hide there.

February 9, 2019

The X-Files 9.11, Audrey Pauley: Maybe We Should All Rethink Signing Organ-Donor Cards

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:05 pm by Jenn

Ordinarily, when a random woman tells you to jump into nothingness, you shouldn’t listen, but this one time, it’s okay

Summary: Reyes drives Doggett home to Falls Church, Virginia (hometown shout-out!), after work one night, and they chat in her car for a few minutes. There’s a discussion about him being a cat person when she thinks he should be a dog person, and how he prefers cats because they’re easier to take care of and harder to disappoint. Reyes doesn’t think Doggett ever disappoints anyone. Instead of making out, because come on, Doggett goes inside alone.

On her way home, Reyes gets into a bad car accident and is taken to a hospital. She finds herself in an empty ER, and when she goes to check things out, she discovers that the hospital is basically floating in the middle of nothingness. When she goes back inside, she encounters another patient, Stephen Murdoch, who’s also aware of their weird situation. He takes her to a man named Mr. Barreiro, telling him there’s someone new in the hospital. Reyes guesses that the men think the three of them are dead.

As Reyes runs off, Scully arrives at the hospital and meets up with Doggett. She’s learned that Reyes was hit by a drunk driver, so the single beer Reyes had with Doggett after work wasn’t much of a contributing factor to the accident. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter – as Scully determines herself, Reyes is brain dead.

The Reyes from the empty hospital comes by the room where her body is being kept alive by machines, but she still sees the room as empty. Stephen finds her and tells her death isn’t that bad once you get used to it. Reyes wants to know why all the paperwork is blank and there are no signs on the walls. Stephen isn’t sure, but he thinks they might be in a kind of way station until they move on to the next destination. Reyes goes back outside and drops a mug into the nothingness. It gets zapped by some sort of electricity in the atmosphere.

Reyes’ doctor, Preijers, tells Scully and Doggett that Reyes signed a living will and has an organ-donor card. Doggett doesn’t think things add up – Reyes is supposedly brain dead, but her body is mostly unharmed. Scully says it doesn’t matter, since brain death means she’s not going to get better. Preijers knows of a patient who needs a heart transplant, so they need to move quickly to harvest Reyes’ organs.

Reyes comes across a woman in the empty hospital, but the woman runs around the corner into a dead end and disappears. Stephen yells for Reyes, who rejoins him in time to see Barreiro getting zapped like the mug and slowly fading away. In reality, Barreiro has died, despite Preijers’ efforts to revive him. The woman from the hallway, who’s a hospital volunteer, watches him die.

Doggett tells Scully that the doctors say they can harvest Reyes’ organs as early as the next morning. Scully has examined Reyes and found some minor swelling in her brain, but not an amount that would normally lead to brain death. Doggett looks at Reyes’ EEG records, which show that her brain waves suddenly stopped at some point. He thinks that if they can figure out what caused that, they can reverse it.

In the empty hospital, Reyes tells Stephen about the disappearing woman. Stephen wants to focus on one disappearance at a time and asks what happened to Barreiro. Reyes thinks he died, which obviously couldn’t happen if the three of them are already dead, so she thinks she and Stephen are still alive. Stephen asks where they are, then.

Doggett asks Preijers about the EEG, making Preijers think he’s building a malpractice case. Since Reyes was wearing a seatbelt and had an airbag, and she was conscious when the paramedics got to her, there must be something they’re not seeing. Preijers allows Doggett to look through Reyes’ chart to see everything the doctors have done for her.

The disappearing woman is sitting by Reyes’ bed when Doggett returns to his partner’s room. The woman introduces herself as a patient aide who mostly delivers flowers. She asks if Doggett is Reyes’ husband, and when he says no, she guesses that he loves her. The aide (okay, her name’s Audrey Pauley, let’s just get there already) tells Doggett that Reyes isn’t gone, “at least not her soul.” Doggett wishes he could talk to her and tell her things he’s been meaning to say.

Audrey goes to her home, a room in the hospital, where she keeps a dollhouse shaped like the empty hospital. Inside it, Reyes is looking for another way out. She sees Audrey again and asks her to show them the way out. Audrey says she can’t help, but she has a message for Reyes – her friend loves her very much. Reyes guesses she means Doggett, so that’s interesting. Audrey tells her that her friends think she’s dead. Reyes asks her to deliver a message back to Doggett that he’s a dog person.

A nurse named Whitney advises Preijers to review Reyes’ records, since an injection he gave her isn’t in her notes. Preijers denies this. Whitney reminds him that inconsistencies like that are just the sort of thing malpractice lawyers love to find out about. Preijers pretends to be grateful that Whitney’s looking out for him; then he gives her an injection of her own.

Doggett remembers the dog person/cat person conversation as he thinks about his feelings for his partner. Then he lets fantasy take over and imagines kissing Reyes. He’s brought back to reality when he hears a commotion – Whitney’s body has been found. Doggett’s suspicious and thinks she was murdered as part of a cover-up. Scully tells him how she would have committed the murder if she were Whitney’s killer, and it’s exactly what Preijers did. Doggett’s like, “Great, thanks for volunteering to do an autopsy.” Scully reminds him that it won’t bring Reyes back.

Audrey finds Doggett in Reyes’ room and delivers the message about him being a dog person. She repeats what she said earlier about Reyes not being gone. In the doll hospital, Reyes looks through paperwork again, but Stephen says he’s gone through it all and never found a clue. Reyes notes that while the hospital looks complete at first glance, there are small things missing. It’s like a movie set built by someone who didn’t quite get what he or she was recreating. Suddenly Stephen starts gasping and collapses. Real Stephen is now dying, and of course Preijers is his doctor.

Audrey takes Doggett to her room, explaining that the nuns who run the hospital let her live there in exchange for her work as an aide. Doggett asks why she made the dollhouse. Audrey says she goes into her head, by which she means she goes into the dollhouse, and gets to be alone. Well, she was alone in the past, but now patients join her there, like Reyes. Doggett asks who the other patients are.

Reyes holds Stephen as he dies; he gasps something I can’t quite catch about life. Scully tells Doggett that Reyes’ parents are on their way from Mexico to say goodbye. He replies that they’ll get to talk to their daughter because he’s not letting the doctors take her off life support. He has Stephen and Barreiro’s files and has put together that Preijers pulls the plug on his patients. Doggett even wonders if Preijers drugs his patients to speed up their deaths. He insists that Reyes is still alive, and she and Stephen need their help to survive.

They’ll be too late to help Stephen, since he’s getting zapped away like Barreiro. At least the dollhouse version of him gets to die with a kind friend holding him. Scully and Doggett realize they didn’t get to the real Stephen in time. Doggett returns to Audrey’s room and tells her they only have an hour to keep Reyes alive. Audrey says she only delivers flowers; she can’t help. But since she can communicate with Reyes, Doggett needs Audrey to tell her what’s happening.

Doggett cries as he says he wants Reyes to know that she needs to fight and show some sign that she’s still alive. He doesn’t know what else he can do. Audrey tries to comfort him, but Doggett doesn’t have time to give in to his emotions. Preijers watches as he leaves Audrey’s room.

Audrey returns to the doll hospital and tells Reyes that Doggett wants a sign. She starts to leave, which Reyes objects to. Audrey says something’s wrong in her head, and she really can’t help anyone. She needs help herself doing something as simple as delivering flowers, since when she tries to read, the words are all jumbled. Reyes realizes that Audrey created the doll hospital, which means she can make the rules work however she wants. She can help Reyes escape.

Audrey goes back to the real hospital, where Preijers tells her he’s being accused of doing some horrible things. Audrey needs to be silenced, which means an injection. Reyes notices the hallways of the doll hospital changing, and Audrey tells her she has to leave. But the way out is through the nothingness, which will supposedly kill Reyes. Audrey says it won’t hurt her now. She understands now why she built the doll hospital.

Reyes lets herself fall into the nothingness as Scully tells Doggett that the transplant teams are ready to do their work. Doggett refuses to allow it, but Scully notes that he hasn’t given a good enough reason to think Reyes is alive. Fortunately, Reyes herself can do that, as she’s now awake. She asks about Audrey, but Doggett is once again too late to save someone – Preijers has already killed her. At some point in the future, or in the past, or in another version of reality – I don’t know – Doggett drives Reyes home, but once again, he doesn’t tell her how he feels. They both end up in their separate homes, alone.

Thoughts: Sorry, show, but Doggett and Reyes are no Mulder and Scully. Don’t go reaching for a romantic connection just for the heck of it.

Also, thanks for making me type “Preijers” over and over. I appreciate it.

Someone please count up the number of times Vernee Watson (Whitney) has played a nurse and/or has appeared on medical shows.

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