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.

February 2, 2019

The X-Files 9.10, Providence: “Bring Me the Head of Fox Mulder”

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:23 pm by Jenn

When you’re not sure what’s going on with a spaceship, it’s best to stand directly on top of it

Summary: Some guy gets the pointless episode-opening voiceover as he talks about God coming to him in Iraq in 1991. While under attack, he had an omen about his men dying. While the rest of his people were killed, he was left alive, rescued by some more soldiers. Those four head into a building that explodes, but they come out unharmed. Now the surviving soldier (who’s from the Alberta dig site that unearthed the spaceship) thinks his mission on Earth is to tell people about those angels and a god who came before all other gods.

Follmer recaps the previous episode, telling a taskforce that William has been kidnapped by the woman who ambushed the Lone Gunmen. The guys are all fine and present at the meeting, as is Toothpick Man. Doggett is absent, but he has a good excuse, as he’s in a coma. Follmer says that the kidnapper and Comer’s motives are still unknown. The FBI is confident they can get William back unharmed.

Skinner catches Scully sitting in on the meeting and tells her to go home and let the rest of the bureau find William. Scully isn’t about to trust Follmer to lead the rescue mission. They know he withholds information from Kersh, and he’s already failed twice to prevent attacks on William. Skinner thinks she’s crazy to think that Follmer and Kersh could be part of William’s abduction.

Scully reminds Skinner of all the stuff Follmer and Kersh have already been involved in. She thinks they’re leading an effort to eliminate the X-Files and everyone connected to it. Skinner says she’d have to group him with Kersh and Follmer in her accusations. Instead, Scully leaves to find William on her own.

Skinner goes to the hospital, where Reyes is by Doggett’s side. There’s a possibility that he’ll never wake up. Skinner tells Reyes about sitting with dying soldiers in Vietnam and telling them they would be okay even when it was obvious they wouldn’t. Talking to them felt like praying – they might not be able to hear him, but God could.

Scully calls to check on Doggett, then asks to meet with Reyes, without Skinner knowing. The abductor has been ID’d, thanks to the Lone Gunmen, and Scully needs Reyes’ help to find information on her. She doesn’t want the FBI to know what they’re up to. The Gunmen hack a phone company to try to track a cell phone in their car, which the kidnapper also took. There’s no signal yet, but the guys will keep trying.

Reyes thinks Scully is nuts to go off alone, since the Gunmen have already failed her with William. (Ouch.) Scully doesn’t think she has any other choice – she doesn’t believe the FBI is as confident in getting William back as Follmer said they were. The Gunmen announce that they’ve picked up a cell signal in Pennsylvania, so Scully heads out, willing to go alone if Reyes won’t tag along.

As the kidnapper stops at a phone booth, the diggers in Alberta take pictures of their discovery. The kidnapper calls the soldier to confirm that she has William, and he tells her he’ll send someone to get her. Just then, pieces of the spaceship start moving and lights inside it turn on. The top closes, trapping two diggers inside. The soldier asks for tools to get them out.

Scully and Reyes race to Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, and find the Lone Gunmen’s car, which is now empty. Reyes returns to D.C. to check in on Doggett, who’s been taken for some scans. Reyes goes to the chapel, where Follmer interrupts her prayers and notes that she’s acting pretty “traditional.” She admits that she feels lost. He hugs her and promises he’s doing everything he can to find William and the kidnapper, despite the people in the FBI who are working against them.

Follmer knows that Scully and Reyes went off alone, and he chastises Reyes for not giving the FBI a heads up. He wants her cooperation, promising to share information he hasn’t already. First off, Comer wants to tell them something. He’s also in the hospital, not looking so great, but has tried to write Follmer a note. It just says “jacket,” and Follmer and Reyes can’t figure out what it means.

Reyes takes it to Scully, telling her that she’s only allowed to see it if she gives Reyes information to give Follmer. Scully tells her that Comer only made it from the Canadian border to D.C. without a scratch on him because of something in his jacket pocket. Obviously, the piece of the spaceship is the key here.

The women go to the hospital, taking the artifact to Comer’s room. It brings him back to consciousness and makes him agitated. Scully threatens to smother Comer with his pillow if he doesn’t tell her who sent him to kill William. Comer says that William has to die, so Scully puts a hand around his throat. He explains that he was sent to infiltrate a UFO cult whose followers believe an alien race will take over the world. They were sent to Alberta to find the ship, which the cult leader thinks is a temple that houses “the physical manifestation of God.”

Scully interprets this as Comer saying God told him to kill William. Comer corrects that the cult leader believes William is a savior who needs to be protected. William is prophesied to follow in Mulder’s footsteps and save the world from aliens…unless Mulder is killed. Reyes figures out that Comer came to kill William to end the prophesy. Scully thinks that means Mulder is dead, also in an attempt to end the prophesy. If William doesn’t die, all humans will.

Toothpick Man catches the agents in Comer’s room and makes them leave. They can’t get the artifact back without Toothpick Man seeing, so they have to leave it with Comer. Toothpick Man tells some minions to call Follmer and Skinner, then heads into Comer’s room. In Alberta, the men can’t be freed from the spaceship, but there are more important things to deal with – the kidnapper has arrived with William. The top of the spaceship opens, but the men who were trapped inside are dead.

Skinner and Follmer come to the hospital as Scully and Reyes go to the chapel. Scully doesn’t want to tell the other agents how Comer has made a miraculous recovery; the FBI will use that against them. Reyes thinks they need to tell the truth, but Scully knows there’s more going on. She’s always felt like something was wrong with her pregnancy and child, and now there’s confirmation.

Reyes disagrees, reminding Scully that the ship is full of scripture, and no scripture mentions the death of a child. They’re just dealing with false prophets. All they need to believe is that William could still be alive, and they can save him. They can also use the artifact to save Doggett. Skinner finds the women and tells them they need to get out of there. Comer’s dead.

Reyes returns to Comer’s room and tries to get his nurse to back up her story that he was alive when Toothpick Man got there. The artifact is gone, but the nurse denies seeing it. Reyes suspects that Toothpick Man killed Comer, but Follmer thinks she’s snapped. She goes looking for Scully to back up her story.

Scully’s with Doggett, feeling guilty for putting his life in danger. She promises that Reyes is fighting for him. Doggett wakes up and says he heard someone talking. “They’re” going to come to her, but she can’t trust them. Reyes comes in just as Scully gets a call from the soldier offering her the chance to see William, if she comes alone and follows his instructions.

Scully goes to Alberta and meets the soldier in a diner. He tells her he wants to protect William. He quotes Ephesians, a verse about giants walking the earth, which he thinks relates to the angels he saw in Iraq. Those “angels” were really supersoldiers. The soldier offers to let Scully see William if she brings him confirmation that Mulder’s dead. The soldier thought he was, but now he has reason to doubt it. If Mulder’s alive, he’s preventing William’s true destiny. “If you want to see the boy,” the soldier tells Scully, “you’ll bring me the head of Fox Mulder.”

Scully calls Reyes, who’s with the Lone Gunmen, putting trackers in the soldier’s cars. The women follow the trackers, but the Gunmen lose the signals. Frohike pretends they’re still going the right way, though he doesn’t fool Reyes. At the dig site, the spaceship is moving again, and William is no longer calm and quiet, as he’s been the whole episode. The kidnapper tells the soldier that the ship started moving when William started crying.

The women are lost, but Scully spots the lights from the spaceship in the distance and runs toward them. The spaceship moves a lot, and the lights go out. Then the whole ship lights up and goes up into the sky. Scully and Reyes see it fly off and think William’s on board. The dig site has been destroyed, and the diggers are dead, but there’s one person who’s alive in the wreckage: William.

Reyes finds Doggett, now fully healed, in the hospital chapel, and he tells her he knows she prayed for him. He thinks she’s the person he heard talking while he was in the coma, telling him to warn Scully about the soldier. Reyes says she only prayed for his life.

At FBI headquarters, Follmer tells Kersh that Skinner wouldn’t sign his report about Comer’s death, since Skinner thinks Comer was murdered. Follmer signed the report, but Comer’s monitors showed that he was improving before he died. Follmer wants to take his name off the report. Kersh would like an explanation, but since Follmer’s just backpedaling, Kersh isn’t going to agree to anything. He goes into his office and tells Toothpick Man that the case isn’t quite closed, and has been designated an X-File. Toothpick and his bumpy neck are sure they can take care of that.

Thoughts: I’d love to know how the kidnapper got William from all three Lone Gunmen without hurting any of them.

Scully’s scriptural knowledge is apparently so deep that she can identify some random passage from Ephesians on the first try.

I love that Scully calls out William’s name when she goes into the wreckage, as if he’s going to call out, “I’m over here, Mom!”

January 26, 2019

The X-Files 9.9, Provenance: Oh, Cool, the Baby’s in Danger Again

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

And Scully doesn’t see his fingers? Yeah, right

Summary: In Burke County, North Dakota, at the U.S./Canadian border, two Border Patrol agents are freezing their butts off. They spot someone on a motorbike and give chase. It goes on for a long time. These three characters have now had more screentime than Kersh has all season. Eventually, the motorbike goes up in flames and its rider is thrown off. His bag comes open, spilling out a bunch of paper full of symbols.

Scully gets to take a break from Quantico when she’s called to Kersh’s office at the FBI building. Skinner, Follmer, and some other men are also there. One of them has a toothpick in his mouth and is only known by the highly creative name Toothpick Man. Kersh shows Scully the biker’s pages and asks if she knows what they are. Scully dodges the question, saying that if they’re connected to the X-Files, Kersh and Follmer should ask someone who currently works on the X-Files. Scully asks for more information, but they won’t provide it.

As soon as she’s dismissed, Scully goes to the X-Files office and asks Doggett and Reyes if Follmer’s been down there, going through files. They haven’t seen him and don’t have any idea what’s been going on. She shows them rubbings from the spaceship in Africa, full of the same symbols as the pages in the biker’s bag. She didn’t say anything to Kersh and Follmer because she knows the symbols are powerful words. If the FBI has them, they must know just how powerful the symbols are.

Doggett heads to North Dakota, meeting up with Follmer at the border. Now it’s Follmer’s turn to dodge questions and pretend nothing important is going on. Doggett’s smart enough to know that the number of FBI agents searching the site for the now-missing biker means he must be significant. Follmer insists that the biker’s disappearance has nothing to do with Doggett or the X-Files. If Doggett keeps snooping around, he’ll regret it. The biker has actually been hiding out in the woods all night, and when he pulls a piece of metal with symbols on it out of his pocket, his burns from the bike crash instantly heal.

Back in D.C., Reyes has put together all the rubbings of the spaceship and wants to know if Scully knows what they say. They’re full of religious scriptures and science stuff, like the period table. All of it appears to be millions of years old. Reyes thinks they’re dealing with the actual word of God, which means everything humans believe in is in question.

Scully says she refused to believe that at first, but now she thinks the symbols hold some answers, especially about William. She thinks she was meant to find the symbols. Reyes wonders why the FBI would keep the truth from Scully. Hi, Reyes, welcome to the show. More importantly, what does the FBI hope to learn from the symbols?

Doggett returns to D.C. to yell at Skinner for not answering calls from him or Follmer. Skinner repeats Follmer’s insistence that the case isn’t an X-File. Doggett reveals that he was in North Dakota and knows agents are searching for the biker. Why is Skinner keeping Kersh and Follmer’s secrets? Skinner says he knows things Doggett doesn’t, and he’s keeping quiet for Doggett’s own good.

As Doggett sneaks into Kersh’s office, where he’s keeping the pages, an archaeological dig in Alberta, Canada, unearths what appears to be another spaceship. Doggett gets information on the biker, Robert Comer, who happens to be an FBI agent. Reyes has even worked with him before. For the past few months, he’s been working a case so secret that the details are redacted from his file. Doggett also nabbed the pages so the two of them and Scully can get a better look at them.

In Jessup, Maryland, Comer steals a truck and plans a trip to Georgetown. Scully leaves William with her mother, who doesn’t like that she’s running around in the middle of the night, looking for answers about the baby. No matter what Scully learns, she needs to love William like any other child. Maggie sees him as a miracle and isn’t sure they should question the circumstances of his existence. They should just take it on faith. Scully can’t do that – she needs to know if God is really responsible for her son’s conception.

Doggett fills Scully in on Comer, who’s been researching a UFO cult in North Dakota. The FBI thinks he joined the cult himself, which explains all the secrecy. Scully tells Doggett and Reyes that something else has to be going on; she was questioned about the symbols, not Comer. Reyes thinks the FBI doesn’t know what’s really going on. She’s looked at the pages and rubbings and has realized they don’t match. The UFO cult must have found a second spaceship.

In the morning, Maggie takes William for a walk, then returns home to find Comer waiting for her. Scully gets home just as Comer is roughing Maggie up. Maggie warns that Comer wants to kill the baby, so Scully fights him in the nursery. Comer gets the upper hand, locking Scully out and ignoring her threats. Fortunately, Maggie has found a gun, and Scully is able to bust down the nursery door and shoot Comer before he can hurt William.

Doggett and Reyes rush over, and Scully gives orders. Reyes will look after Maggie and William while Scully and Doggett deal with an injured Comer. Doggett insists that they get Comer to a hospital, but Scully won’t let the FBI take over and prevent her from getting answers. Doggett ignores her and calls 911. Comer tells Scully that William has to die, but he passes out before he can tell her whose orders he’s following. As paramedics take Comer away, Scully examines his jacket and finds the piece of metal inside.

In Calgary, Alberta, a newspaper announces that a missing FBI agent was shot in D.C. A woman who reads the headline seems very concerned. She goes to the site of the archaeological dig and shows it to a man there, who says, “This changes everything.” They know Comer could expose everything. That means they only have one option.

In D.C., Scully and Doggett are both called to the principal’s office – sorry, I mean Kersh’s office. The same people are present from Scully’s first questioning. Kersh tells her there will be an investigation into Comer’s attempt to kill William, but that’s not good enough for Scully or Doggett. He wants answers. Kersh knows that they already know about Comer’s undercover assignment. Skinner reveals that he asked to keep that case out of the X-Files because he thought it might be too much for Scully.

Kersh and Follmer continue that Comer was sent to infiltrate the cult after a series of threats on Mulder’s life. Scully asks why they showed her the rubbings. Follmer says that before they lost contact with Comer in North Dakota, he sent a communication that Mulder was dead. Scully just looks at all the men and then leaves.

Reyes brings William home to Scully, who starts to tell her about Mulder. They hear a rattling sound from the next room and realize the metal piece is shaking around in the drawer Scully stashed it in. When she opens the drawer, the metal flies out and straight into the nursery, cutting through some of the bars of William’s crib. It stops above his head, slowly rotating, just like the mobile he seemingly moved with his mind.

Doggett comes over and Reyes tells him what happened. She thinks William has some sort of connection to the piece of metal. Whether or not Doggett believes that (uh, he doesn’t), the cult does, because they were willing to have William killed. As the three agents put William (aww, three agents and a baby) in the car to take him somewhere, Doggett spots the woman from Calgary watching them. He sends the women off and starts to approach the woman. She’s not in the mood to talk, so she runs him over with her car.

Scully and Reyes take William to the only people left Scully can trust: the Lone Gunmen. Ooh, now it’s three men and a baby! They promise that they’ll keep the baby safe and keep in touch with disposable cell phones that have scrambled signals. The women head back to Scully’s place, where they realize that Doggett has been injured. Scully decides William isn’t safe and rushes off, but it’s too late – the woman from Calgary has already found the Lone Gunmen and is ready to shoot them in order to get William. To be continued…

Thoughts: Toothpick Man is played by Alan Dale. Comer is played by Neal McDonough, who I’m always glad to see pop up in a show I’m watching.

Way to secure your super-important evidence, Kersh. Your desk is a great hiding place. No one would ever think to look there.

“A guy who tried to kill my son for no apparent reason says my boyfriend’s dead. He must be telling the truth.” Whatever, Scully.

January 19, 2019

The X-Files 9.8, Hellbound: Under My Skin

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:11 pm by Jenn

There weren’t a lot of non-gross options for pictures for this episode

Summary: A man is speaking at a support group at a church in Novi, Virginia, telling the other participants how much better he is because he’s been coming there. Another man, Ed, says our lives “only go one way,” and the speaker can’t undo the crimes he’s committed. He’s going to Hell just like everyone else in the group. Ed says he’s only there because he drove a friend, Victor, who isn’t doing well. He’s been having dreams about people being skinned alive.

The group leader, Lisa, is concerned as the first speaker, Terry, tells Victor that everyone there is afraid. That fear often comes out in dreams. After the meeting, Ed tells Victor that the group is useless, and clearly isn’t helping his nightmares. What also doesn’t help: the fact that when Victor looks at Ed, he sees him without his skin.

Reyes is looking at Victor’s criminal file when Doggett meets her in Quantico in the middle of the night. Victor was murdered five days ago. They meet up with Scully, who looks very put together for that time of night. The three agents look at Victor’s skinned body, which Doggett thinks was the work of a gang. Reyes says more has to be going on – Victor was skinned alive just hours after he talked about dreaming about people being skinned.

Doggett figures that a lifelong criminal like Victor had some enemies, and one of them finished him off. He doesn’t get why this is a case for them. Scully says that Victor was skinned in a way that made him suffer for as long as possible. Okay, but that still doesn’t make it an X-File, and Reyes doesn’t even know why she’s feeling like she needs to solve the case. She’s like Scully and Doggett’s help, though.

Doggett and Reyes meet up with a detective named Van Allen, who doesn’t hide his disinterest in the case. They talk to Lisa, who tells them about Ed’s animosity toward Victor at the meeting (which, by the way, was for anger management). She says other stuff about the participants’ pasts. Doggett is surprised that Reyes contacted Lisa about the investigation, not the other way around. Lisa appreciates that someone’s looking into what happened to an otherwise forgettable person like Victor. Van Allen finds Reyes familiar and wonders if she’s ever been to Novi before. She hasn’t.

Ed and Terry both happen to work at Maneri Meat Packing, where Ed gets to spend his days skinning pigs. He only cares about Victor’s death in terms of how it affects him – now Ed gets a promotion. Terry’s annoyed that the FBI wants to talk to them. He accuses Ed of messing with Victor’s head. Ed threatens to cut him, so I guess those anger-management meetings really aren’t helping.

Terry’s pretty sure that Ed killed Victor. He reminds Ed that he said they can’t walk away from who they are. Ed replies that he’ll see Terry in Hell. As Ed leaves for the day, Terry sees someone without skin walking around among hung-up pig slabs. He follows the person outside but only sees Ed.

At Quantico, Scully studies up on skinnings. The cadet who pulled all the case files for her could only find ones about post-mortem skinnings, and most of them are gang-related, as Doggett suspected. But one of the cases involves a victim whose body ended up looking a lot like Victor’s. The case is from 1960.

Scully goes to a retirement home to speak to Dr. Bertram Mueller, the examiner who did the autopsy on the body in 1960. He was a John Doe who was skinned alive, and though Mueller is 84 and must have autopsied thousands of bodies, this one clearly sticks out in his memory. He tells Scully that it was the most inhuman thing he’s ever seen.

Scully can’t find the police records for the case, but Mueller says there was no investigation. Since the victim was a John Doe, the sheriff didn’t bother to look into his murder, for fear of stirring up the community. Not long after that, the sheriff killed himself. Mueller wonders if Victor was murdered by a copycat killer. Scully notes that if that’s the case, the copying is perfect. She doesn’t know why someone would mimic an obscure crime, though. Mueller reveals that the John Doe wasn’t the only victim, just the first.

Terry’s hosing blood off the floor at work when he senses he’s not alone. He thinks Ed is back for a fight, but Terry’s ready with his own knife. He stalks the person in there with him, but the person gets the upper hand and knocks him out. Terry wakes up upside-down, strung among all the pig carcasses. He realizes what he’s in for as his attacker starts…well, gutting him like a pig, I’d say. The good news is that Terry won’t be the one to clean up this blood, since he’ll be dead.

Reyes goes back to see Lisa but instead comes face to face with someone who’s been skinned. It’s really just a nightmare, and Doggett hears her yelling in her sleep and wakes her up. Lisa has called to report that Terry’s dead. They meet Van Allen at the crime scene, and when Reyes sees Terry’s skinned body, it’s too much for her to handle and she has to run outside. There, she runs into Scully, who wants to talk about the 1960 murders.

Doggett’s stomach is stronger than Reyes, and he takes a closer look at Terry’s body. That’s how he discovers that Terry isn’t dead after all. The poor guy is hanging upside-down, surrounded by dead pigs, with all his skin removed, and he’s still alive. He’s barely able to tell Doggett that Ed was his attacker.

Elsewhere in town, Ed kicks out his girlfriend as he packs a bag. She leaves the house and runs right into Doggett, who’s there with a team to capture Ed. For some reason, they allow Lisa to talk to him in an interrogation room at the police station. She thinks he’s innocent – why would he kill two people when his life is going so well? Doggett reminds her that she said he had a bad temper. Plus, he was trying to run; innocent people don’t do that. Reyes thinks he was running from something other than his crimes.

Reyes takes Lisa’s place in the interrogation room and brings up Victor’s dreams about skinned bodies. She thinks Ed is seeing them now – and so is Reyes herself. Doggett pulls her out of the room and chastises her for basically giving Ed a defense to use in court. Yeah, I’m sure the judge will dismiss the case because of nightmares. Anyway, Van Allen tells the agents that Ed’s girlfriend gave him an alibi, and a bartender where they were drinking confirmed her story. Ed’s not the killer. (But he’s also not sober, as Lisa thinks.)

Ed is released, with a warning from Doggett that they know where to find him. Lisa tells Ed he’s always welcome at the group meetings. As he walks past her, Ed sees her without her skin. Scully summons Reyes back to Quantico to look at two of the bodies from 1960. She found cuts on their legs and shoulders, which were made with the same knife used to kill Victor. In addition, the two victims were ex-cons, and the days they were killed were the same days Victor and Terry were born. Scully thinks Reyes knew that something like this would come up in the investigation.

Doggett is staking out Ed’s house when Reyes calls to ask for Ed’s birthday. She thinks he’s going to be the next victim. Doggett calls Van Allen as he heads to the house to see if Ed is still there. He is, but his skin isn’t. Someone was supposed to be watching the house at all times, but the patrolman on duty left for a few minutes. Doggett finds it hard to believe that Ed could have been skinned in just those few minutes.

Reyes tells Doggett about the birthday connection and her theory that the killer isn’t using them to choose his victims. She thinks Ed had a premonition and knew he was going to die, just like Victor did. She has some kind of memory of this happening before. “These men were born to die this way, the same way they died before,” she says. Well, not the men – their souls. They’re killed over and over in different lifetimes by a killer who won’t let them rest.

Doggett asks if she’s suggesting this is reincarnation. He thinks they’re just dealing with a clever killer. But Reyes knows that a rag was stuffed in Ed’s mouth, and that the soot on it is coal dust from a mine. She has no idea how she would know that. But the mine is a lead, so the agents head there expecting to find a fourth victim. Doggett checks out a house on the property while Reyes goes into the mine alone, which can’t be a good idea.

Reyes finds newspaper clippings about the 1960 deaths while Doggett finds a skeleton. The murders go back even further than 1960, and one of the investigators from before that time disappeared. The skeleton is his. The murders began in 1868, when a prospector was skinned in a mining dispute, and his four killers were acquitted. So it looks like someone’s been trying to get revenge for a century and a half because justice wasn’t served.

Reyes continues searching the mine and finds a bunch of bodies hanging on the walls. A man surprises her and tells her she shouldn’t have come there. He grabs her and tells her she can’t stop it – she never does. Doggett goes to the mine and finds Reyes alone. She tells him Van Allen is the killer. He was the first victim in 1868, and he keeps coming back to avenge himself over and over. The cases never get solved because the lead investigator always kills himself, then comes back to start killing again.

There are currently only three victims, but Reyes thinks she knows who the fourth will be. She calls Lisa to confirm that she’s been having the same premonitions as Victor, Ed, and Terry. Reyes tells her that Van Allen is coming for her and she needs to leave the church. Too late – Van Allen is there to do some more skinning.

Lisa tries to run as Van Allen says there’s no point, since this always ends the same. But this time is different, because Reyes and Doggett are a step ahead. They ambush Van Allen, and when he moves to attack Reyes, she shoots him. She demands to know what it all means before he can die.

Van Allen ends up in the hospital, in critical condition. Doggett encourages Reyes to go home since she’s not going to be able to talk to him for a while. Reyes says that Doggett still doesn’t believe that she has a connection to the killings. Doggett says it doesn’t matter; the important thing is that she saved Lisa. Scully tells Reyes that Doggett’s trying to grasp this, but it’s hard to understand.

Reyes asks if Scully believes in second chances and the opportunity to correct our mistakes in another life. She thinks all the victims were trying to atone for the original murder. Scully wonders how Reyes fits into the cycle of murders. Reyes doesn’t know, but she’s sure that she always failed to stop the killings and bring about justice. And she’s sure that Van Allen always knew about her involvement, and knows her worst fear is failing again.

Scully says that maybe in this life, Reyes will succeed. But not today, because Van Allen’s dead, which means he’s free to come back in a few decades and kill again. So the parents of a baby just born down the hall, who has Van Allen’s eyes, are going to be in for a shock in a few years.

Thoughts: Terry is played by Don Swayze, brother of Patrick.

Imagine being cast on this show and then learning that you have to do something like cut off a pig’s skin. I know actors have to pay their dues early in their careers, but that may be going too far.

Also, imagine being in the props department and having to deal with all those pig carcasses. Fake or not, they’re gross.

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