September 22, 2018

The X-Files 8.12, Medusa: As If Public Transportation Weren’t Awful Enough

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:29 pm by Jenn

I’m sure Sephora has something that will help that feel better

Summary: The Clay Street subway station in Boston is quiet and mostly empty, except for a couple of people waiting for a train. One of them, an undercover cop, reports a possible 1013 (thanks, Chris Carter), a man who might be about to jump on the platform. When the train (which is being called an M here instead of a T, so the show could use M trains in L.A. for filming) arrives, the reporter, Officer Philbrick, gets on. He thinks he’s alone, but his 1013 is following him.

As he approaches Philbrick, the train screeches to a stop. Philbrick drops his gun and tries to grab for it as the 1013 closes in. There’s screaming. Sometime later, the regular commuters get on the train, and a woman sees Philbrick’s dead body, the skin on his face half missing and showing his skeleton underneath. I hope her boss lets her take the day off to recover from this trauma.

Scully and Doggett go to the Transit Operations Center and meet Karras, the deputy chief of the transit police, and a lieutenant named Bianco. Scully wants to examine the body, but Karras is more interested in getting the trains back on schedule. They’ve had to shut down the system for hours, and Karras wants things back to normal by 4 p.m., four hours from now. Scully says their priority is finding out why Philbrick is dead.

Bianco has a theory: The train lost power, and someone killed Philbrick with acid or lye. Scully says his theory isn’t important; they need to find out exactly what the killer did and try to prevent him from hurting anyone else. Bianco says no biological or chemical agents were found. They’re dealing with one single suspect. Doggett points out that that’s just what they’re telling the press; who knows if it’s the truth? Karras repeats that he just wants the FBI to get things ready for reopening by 4 p.m.

Doggett and Scully meet Steven Melnick, the chief structural engineer, and Hellura Lyle, from the CDC. Melnick built the track and is familiar with every inch of the station. Scully’s confused about Lyle’s presence, though, since she was told there were no pathogens in the station. Lyle quips dryly that she must just be there for moral support. Karras says they’re just covering their bases. Scully is there because she’s an expert in “equivocal death.” Melnick laughs at that, since “you’re dead or you’re not, right?” Lyle asks about Doggett, who says he’s there because he’s a good shot.

The ragtag team of heroes suits up in tactical gear, though Scully doesn’t think she needs to venture into the tunnel with them. She wants Doggett to be her eyes and ears while she hangs back and focuses on Philbrick. Doggett agrees, though he’s not sure what he’s supposed to be looking for as Scully’s eyes.

Scully goes to the station’s control center and confirms for Doggett, Melnick, Lyle, and Bianco that the third rail has been shut down, so they can go wherever they need. Thanks to surveillance equipment she gave Doggett, she can see everything the team sees. It’s incredibly hot in the tunnel because the ventilation system has been shut down, so the heroes are immediately uncomfortable. Doggett wonders why the ventilation system was turned off if they’re looking for a person. Bianco asks why, if that’s the case, he brought a weapon along.

The heroes pass by a puddle that I’m sure would look kind of weird if this show used any kind of lighting. Suddenly, Melnick feels something on his neck. He ends up with a burn. He thinks it’s from landfill seepage, and Lyle guesses that the same stuff that dripped on Melnick is in the puddle they walked through. Doggett tells her to get a sample. He thinks Philbrick’s death was from a toxic leak, not homicide. But this means Karras’ insistence that there were no contaminants in the station might be a lie.

Lyle gets a sample from the puddle and somehow transmits it to Scully in the control center. It’s just sea water, though. Scully decides to contact someone to get a molecular analysis. Karras reminds her that she only has four hours. Dude, unless you want all those commuters to die, just let her work. In the tunnel, Bianco and Melnick see someone behind Doggett, but Doggett and Lyle don’t see him. The team keeps moving.

Bianco’s too hot to keep on his bulletproof vest; he figures if the killer wanted him dead, he would have shot already. The team comes across a tunnel from the old subway system, which means they’re now at a fork in the line. Karras says the old line is decommissioned, so there’s no point checking it out. It’ll take them a mile out of their way. The heroes take a quick look around, and though Bianco agrees that it’s a waste of time, Melnick notes that there are a lot of places to hide in there. In fact, someone’s hiding there right now.

Doggett gets knocked out by the unseen attacker, who’s now dead, looking much like Philbrick did. “Would you call that equivocal?” Melnick asks. Lyle takes some photos to send to Scully as Melnick sees something and tries to approach it. Bianco thinks the case is closed, though – the attacker fits the description of the 1013 who’s suspected of killing Philbrick. The 1013 is dead, so their work here is done. Doggett ignores him and approaches the thing Melnick saw. Well, things – three dead bodies.

Doggett examines the corpses, which he thinks were squatters. Scully sees that they have the same tissue degradation as Philbrick and the 1013. They may be dealing with a contagion after all. Doggett summons Lyle over to tell her the CDC may have been wrong, but she sees someone else running through the tunnel. No one else sees anything, and Bianco says again that they need to just leave already. Scully tells Doggett that he needs to keep searching.

Karras tells Scully he’ll get a crew in the tunnel after rush hour, but right now everyone needs to get out. Scully points out that a contagion might mean a spreading infection. Karras reminds her that the only thing they’ve sampled is sea water. The CDC says there’s no contaminant, and he believes them. The three men must have been killed by the 1013. Scully’s like, “So he killed four people, then killed himself the same way? Uh-uh.” She refuses to risk the contagion spreading before she can figure out what it is.

Doggett asks for a ruling, so Scully tells him to leave the bodies and go after the person Lyle saw. Whether he’s killing people or is infected, he’s a threat. Doggett tells the others that “the boss” has given orders, and they’re following them. As they continue their search, Bianco asks Doggett how well he knows Scully. Why send him down to the tunnel instead of going down herself? Doggett has no time for questioning Scully’s judgment, even if it means he and his team members are the ones putting themselves at risk. Who’s really in charge here?

Scully informs Doggett that the team is about 50 yards from where the train stopped. Melnick feels something electrical on his arm and starts yelling – his arm is now covered in wounds, all of them burning. All Scully can prescribe is water. She thinks they’re dealing with a biochemical weapon. “A lot of people might be taking cabs home,” Doggett tells the team.

Scully studies a map of the grid and finds the only place where the man they’re looking for could be hiding. Lyle says Melnick isn’t well enough to go anywhere, so Doggett and Bianco leave the two of them behind for a Hazmat team to come collect for quarantine. Doggett isn’t aware that Bianco has come in contact with the contaminant himself, and his arm is starting to glow.

The Hazmat team collects Melnick and Lyle; she’s fine but he’s getting worse. Scully promises that she’s working on figuring out a treatment. She follows the Hazmat team as they bring out the three dead bodies, but they won’t tell her where they’re going. Karras calmly says that they’ve arranged for whatever happens next. Scully accuses him of knowing the three bodies were down there earlier. She certainly hopes that he didn’t allow the heroes to go into the tunnel knowing they could be at risk for contamination. Karras gives in and lets Scully send the bodies to the CDC.

Doggett and Bianco come across an old stop in the abandoned tunnel but still don’t see whoever it is they’re looking for. Scully’s away from her post, so Doggett can’t get her input. Bianco thinks it’s time to make their own call and stop pretending that Scully knows what she’s doing. Doggett notices Bianco’s infection, which has started spreading to his face. He thinks this is a reason to keep searching the tunnel.

Bianco doesn’t want to stick around when he could be the next to die, but Doggett notes that he doesn’t seem to be reacting to the contaminant the way the others did. Bianco starts to leave, but Doggett and his gun force him to stay. Well, at least until Bianco can catch Doggett off-guard, kick him, and run off. (Doggett’s been knocked out twice now in this episode. I hope he also gets to take some time off of work.)

Scully’s now back on comms, too late to see what happened to Doggett or understand why he’s not answering her. A marine biologist named Kai Bowe arrives with the analysis of the water sample. It contains high levels of calcium, and appears to contain a medusa, a bioluminescent creature. Bowe’s like, “Wherever this thing came from, it’s pretty incredible.” Scully’s like, “It’s killing people, but okay, we’ll go with ‘incredible.’ I mean, sea water that eats off people’s flesh – that’s definitely incredible, in the sense that no one’s going to find it credible.”

Scully continues that something triggers the harmful nature of the creature, since it’s not just killing people on contact. And they’d better figure out that trigger soon, because Doggett, still unconscious from Bianco’s attack, has become infected. Scully’s finally able to rouse him and see that his hands are now glowing. Bianco, who was just there yelling for help, is gone now. Scully announces that she’s sending a Hazmat team for Doggett, but he wants to keep moving. He knows he has the best chance to stop Bianco from continuing the spread of the contagion.

As Bowe calls the CDC for backup in figuring out the medusa’s trigger, Scully tells Karras that they have to block all the exits to try to contain the potential outbreak. Karras says no – there are already passengers in the station, waiting for the trains to start back up. Scully relays this to Doggett, who now has only 20 minutes to find Bianco and/or the man he’s been looking for in the tunnels. Since he hasn’t triggered the medusa by moving around, he figures he can keep moving without doing any more damage.

Doggett comes across Bianco, who’s collapsed in the tunnel. Scully alerts Bowe to some glowing on the ground, and realizes that Karras has left the control center. She tells Doggett to leave, but Doggett won’t abandon Bianco. The two make their way out of the tunnel, which is glowing more and more as the contaminant progresses. They spot someone else – a boy who wants Doggett to follow him somewhere. The fact that he’s not infected makes Scully realize what triggers the infection: sweat.

Sweat acts as a conductive agent, like electricity, that makes the infection worsen. Since the boy is so young that his sweat glands haven’t full developed, he’s basically immune. Of course, since it’s super-hot in the tunnel and Doggett’s been running around down there for four hours, he’s pretty sweaty. The boy leads him to a spot where a big leak has caused all the walls to glow. Doggett thinks this is the source of the contagion, a leak from the bay. The boy can walk through it without being affected. Scully think he’s showing Doggett the way out.

Doggett goes back to get Bianco, and the two follow the boy to the main system, which is glowing from contagion. Even worse, the trains have started up. Like Mulder before him, Doggett has a stupid idea: Use the third rail, his gun, and the contaminant to create an explosive that burns up the organism. He almost gets hit by a train, but since he’s still in a season and a half of the show, he doesn’t. Scully’s worried when she loses communications with her partner, because she’s clearly started caring about him, but he’s okay.

Doggett ends up in the hospital, though the organism is gone, so it’s just a precaution. Scully lets him know he can leave. Melnick and Bianco need some plastic surgery to deal with their wounds, but everyone’s healthy. Doggett complains about Karras’s recklessness, which could have led to hundreds of people getting infected. Scully tells him that since he destroyed the organism, and they have no data on the pathogen, no criminal charges can be filed. Karras will just be credited for doing his job to keep the trains running. Scully, however, knows that Doggett was a hero. Doggett wants her to have the credit, since she figured out what was going on. He was just her eyes and ears. Scully, however, doesn’t seem comfortable letting herself claim the win here.

Thoughts: Karras is played by Ken Jenkins. Lyle is played by Penny Johnson. Melnick is played by Brent Sexton.

I like the concept of this episode, of Doggett teaming up with strangers to go on a hunt. I think it was a good choice to have Scully watching from afar, seeing things the people in the tunnel might not have. Plus, since she’s pregnant, she didn’t have to spend the episode worrying about getting sick.

I think it’s interesting that in earlier seasons, Mulder would have made the call about Scully’s role, but here, she decides where she’s the most useful. And I like that Doggett keeps letting her call the shots throughout the episode. Neither of them has a clue what’s going on, but she’s slightly less clueless, so he lets her take the lead.


September 15, 2018

The X-Files 8.11, The Gift: Surprise! The Gift Is a Bunch of Goo!

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:17 pm by Jenn

If you ask me, this is the real gift

Summary: Someone is driving through the rain at night in Squamash Township, Pennsylvania. Drive, someone, drive! The driver approaches a house, carrying a gun, and passes through a door with a cross-like symbol on it. The people inside the house aren’t happy to see this person. The driver shoots a creature in the house, then gets back in the car. We finally see who it is: Mulder. Yay, he’s back!

Now Doggett’s driving his car somewhere. Drive, Doggett, drive! He has a flashback to Scully talking to Skinner about how Mulder was dying but didn’t tell anyone. Then he has a flashback to asking Scully how far she thinks Mulder would go to get the truth. He promises to find Mulder, no matter what that entails.

It looks like it entails Doggett going to Squamash Township to meet up with Sheriff Kurt Frey. Kurt confirms that Mulder visited last spring to look into the disappearance of a woman named Marie Hangemuhl. Kurt says Marie wasn’t really missing, and Mulder wasn’t really investigating. Marie was in her house the whole time; her sister just got worried and called the authorities.

Kurt doesn’t know why the FBI is involved in a crime that’s not a crime. Why send two agents at two separate times, let alone one? Doggett asks if Mulder had a personal connection to the case, since cell phone records show that he came back a week before he disappeared. This is news to Kurt. The two go to the house Mulder visited in the first scene, which we now know belongs to Paul and Marie Hangemuhl. Paul is annoyed that he has to rehash things; it’s a personal matter, nothing for the FBI to worry about.

Flashback! Mulder questions the Hangemuhls, who insist that Marie’s sister is worried over nothing. However, Marie had told her sister that she was leaving town because she was afraid of something. Mulder thinks the two are covering up their knowledge of something or someone coming to the house. Paul angrily says that they had a fight, but everything’s fine now.

In the present, Doggett goes over Mulder’s visit with the couple. They lie that he never came back (and he definitely didn’t shoot anyone in their house, no, siree!). Doggett notices a dialysis machine, and Paul says that Marie has end-stage kidney failure. Doggett tries to ask about the visitor Mulder thought was coming to the house, but Paul counters by asking if Mulder had mental issues. There’s a local folk legend about a creature in the woods, and Mulder thought it was real. He thought the creature was coming to eat Marie alive.

As they leave, Doggett asks Kurt if the couple owns a gun. He saw three holes in the wall that had been plastered over. Kurt is willing to go back in and ask, but Doggett declines. He goes back to Virginia and searches Mulder’s apartment, taking a moment to feed the fish. He finds Mulder’s gun hidden under the sink. In Pennsylvania, Kurt oversees some digging of an area marked with stones in the shape of the symbol that was on the Hangemuhls’ door. Paul has heard rumors about something and has come by to get confirmation from Kurt.

Doggett takes Mulder’s gun to the FBI’s firearms-toolmarks unit and tells Skinner it was missing three rounds – possibly the three bullets that left holes in the Hangemuhls’ wall. But Mulder never filed a report about discharging the three rounds, or even about his visit to the house. The reports he filed during that time period state that he was in D.C. Skinner defensively asks if Doggett’s calling Mulder a liar. Yeah, I think so, Skinner.

Doggett has found blood on the gun, which is enough to prove that Mulder shot someone. Skinner angrily insists that Mulder didn’t kill someone and run away – he was abducted. He thinks this is about Doggett anyway. He wants to give the FBI an explanation for Mulder’s disappearance so Doggett can get transferred off the X-Files. Doggett says he just wants the truth. Skinner tells him to ask Scully, but Doggett says he can’t. She co-signed Mulder’s false reports, so whatever’s going on, she’s in on it. Skinner doesn’t want Scully’s job to be at risk, but Doggett has another idea.

In Pennsylvania, Kurt, Paul, and some others descend on a cabin and yell for someone to bring out…something. A woman emerges and says the something is dead. (The woman doesn’t get a name, but I’ll call her Sheila, since she’s played by the actress who played David’s mother on Beverly Hills, 90210.) Something human-ish runs into the woods, and the people chase him, letting their hunting dogs lead the way. They capture him in a net and drag it back to their trucks as Sheila begs them to leave him alone.

Doggett and Skinner return to Pennsylvania and go to the sheriff’s station looking for Kurt. He pretends he’s just coming back from a hunting trip. The agents ask about a death certificate he filed for an unidentified transient found in the woods. Doggett asks why no case report was filed. The body was dumped outside a cabin the morning after Mulder came back to Pennsylvania. Since it’s logical to assume that Mulder killed the man, Doggett and Skinner would like to examine the body.

Kurt directs the agents to the grave, where the agents discuss whether Mulder would kill someone, and why the people in town would cover it up. But they’re not going to get any answers from the body, since it’s missing from its grave – which was, of course, the spot marked by the stones. Doggett guesses that Kurt is the graverobber. But there’s also another route out of the grave, which means, as unlikely as it sounds, the unidentified man may have crawled out of his own coffin after being shot three times and buried. Skinner’s also interested in why someone left the stones on top of the grave.

Paul is painting the symbol on his door, possibly in blood, when Kurt comes by to tell him that they need to move quickly. Paul says Marie isn’t ready, but Kurt doesn’t care. Marie doesn’t think she can do this, but Paul says they don’t have any other options. Someone else arrives at the house, hauling the creature in his truck. Marie strips naked and kisses Paul, who promises he’ll be waiting for her when this is over. Kurt lets the creature out of the truck and into the house, where it starts feeding on Marie.

Sometime later, Doggett and Skinner come by and demand that Paul tell them why Mulder came back to town when he did. They ask to see Marie, who’s not downstairs with her husband. Skinner sees some blood on the floor, and Doggett says Paul missed a spot when he was cleaning up. In some cave somewhere, the creature is doing gross things to Marie that involve gross noises.

Doggett imagines Mulder’s visit to the Hangemuhls and his murder of the creature. Paul has told the agents that Marie coughed up the blood on the floor. Since Mulder’s not the type to just randomly kill someone, Doggett thinks he shot the transient to protect Marie. Skinner uses a piece of police technology to show Doggett the remains of the symbol Paul drew on the door in blood.

The agents place an early-’00s video Internet call to the Lone Gunmen. It’s late, so the Gunmen were asleep, and Langly isn’t wearing pants. The guys identify the symbol as a medicine wheel, which is associated with Native American shaman. The circle is the continuum between life and death, and the cross is paths of sorrow and happiness. The Lakota teach that these elements are all one. Only enlightened people can see that.

The Gunmen know of a legend of a soul-eater that eats sick people to consume their illnesses. The townspeople could have placed the symbol on the creature’s grave as a sign of respect, or put it on the door as a summons. Since Marie has a kidney disease, Doggett thinks this all makes sense. He’s now pretty sure there was no transient buried in that grave.

He goes to Sheila’s cabin and asks her about the body she supposedly found in the woods. He thinks she believes the same thing Mulder did, that the creature was a soul-eater, and she put the stones on his grave out of respect. Doggett thinks Mulder wanted to protect Marie, and he needs Sheila’s help to figure everything out. She tells him he has things backwards. Doggett hears a noise further in the cabin and goes to check it out. He finds a hidden door in the floor, leading to an underground cave.

Doggett stupidly goes into the cave alone and finds Marie covered in goo. He carries her out as Sheila looks on. Later, Marie reunites with Paul at the hospital, looking happy and healthy. In fact, her kidneys have completely healed. Skinner tells Doggett that Kurt wants to take his statement, but Doggett knows that Kurt and Paul have been in on the whole thing. He’s changed his theory: Marie wasn’t the person Mulder was trying to protect from the soul-eater.

Doggett returns to the cabin, where Sheila tells him that the soul-eater has a gift. People hate him because they need him. Sheila is just the latest in a long line of people who have taken care of him. Doggett presents his theory that Mulder came to Pennsylvania to save himself, not Marie. In flashback, we see Mulder undergoing the same process Marie did. Doggett says that he had an undiagnosed brain disease, and he was desperate for a cure. Sheila says they all are.

She hated how the soul-eater suffered, but she couldn’t bring herself to kill him. So Mulder came back to do it, wanting to take away the soul-eater’s pain. In flashback, we see Mulder firing the three shots; the soul-eater doesn’t try to run or fight him. Sheila kept the soul-eater with her instead of burying him, and now that the townspeople know he’s back, she knows they’ll come to him for more healing. He’ll keep suffering.

Doggett puts the soul-eater in his car and is about to leave when Kurt arrives with some of his posse. Kurt says the soul-eater belongs to them. Doggett argues that the soul-eater is a person and doesn’t belong to anyone. Neither man will back down, but Doggett thinks he can get away with just walking to the car and driving off. He’s wrong, and Kurt shoots him in the back. Before Kurt can get to the car, the soul-eater somehow disappears. Kurt knows he’ll come back, since he always does.

The men bury Doggett in the woods and leave, I guess not thinking Sheila will tell anyone what happened. Of course, since Doggett still has a season and a half left on the show, it’s no surprise when he wakes up in the cave covered in goo. Sheila is nearby with the soul-eater, who’s now dead. For years, the soul-eater took people’s sickness and became sick himself. Now that he’s taken someone’s death, he’s dead. Doggett freed him.

In D.C., Doggett tries to write a case report, but this is obviously a difficult one to explain. He tells Skinner that, after all this, he’s still no closer to finding Mulder. But Skinner thinks that Doggett now understands Mulder and his motives better. He thinks Doggett should skip this report; it’ll open a can of worms for Scully and harm both their reputations. In this instance, it’s better if Doggett and Skinner keep the truth to themselves. As Skinner leaves, Doggett studies a picture of the symbol, then looks up and briefly sees Mulder in the office with him.

Thoughts: Me, typing “Hangemuhls” over and over: “You’re killing me, writers.”

Who’s been paying rent on Mulder’s apartment? Rent in this area is pretty steep. What a waste of money.

Only one Scully scene? RIP-OFF.

September 8, 2018

The X-Files 8.10, Badlaa: Emphasis on “Bad”

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

If I have to watch this episode, I’m dragging you all down with me

Summary: Sahar International Airport in Mumbai is a busy place today. An American man named Potocki fights his way through the crowds and heads to a lounge before his flight. A legless beggar follows him, rolling himself on a cart with his hands, but Potocki doesn’t have much sympathy for the man. Finally he hands over a couple of coins and tells the beggar to buy some WD-40 to oil his wheels. That doesn’t seem to go over well. Later, the beggar follows Potocki to the bathroom and drags him out of his stall.

Potocki eventually lands in D.C. and checks into a hotel. A bellboy tries to make small talk, but Potocki is silent. He also has the beggar’s cart with him. He sits on the bed and starts oozing blood. The next morning, Scully and Doggett check out the scene, assigned to figure out why Potocki died. A maid found his body 20 minutes after the bellboy left, and no one else was seen coming or going. 20 minutes is pretty fast for a deadly disease to do its work, so Doggett teases Scully that they must be dealing with something supernatural, like “sloppy vampires.”

The only clue they have to go on is what looks like a child’s print in Potocki’s blood. Doggett remembers a ring of robbers who used children to get through tight entrances in New York, but this doesn’t seem similar. Scully doesn’t think a child would commit a murder this gruesome anyway. But she hopes Doggett keeps an open mind.

At Fairmont Elementary School in Cheverly, Maryland, a man named Burrard interviews for a job in maintenance. He’s actually the beggar in disguise, though the woman interviewing him doesn’t see that. Scully performs Potocki’s autopsy, which takes a while because he weighed over 400 pounds. Doggett has done some research and decided that, since Potocki was generally a generous man (not with the beggar, though), his ex-wives probably didn’t want to kill him. Scully agrees, since she found tissue damage and trauma to Potocki’s rectal wall. Something went in or out of his abdomen.

Potocki has traveled to and from India many times over the past year and a half, so Doggett logically thinks that he was transporting drugs. Maybe someone tore the drugs out of his stomach. Scully didn’t find any drugs in Potocki’s system, though, and that kind of extraction wouldn’t explain his massive blood loss. Also, she’s discovered that his time of death is around 24 to 36 hours ago – before he left India. She reminds Doggett that she told him to keep an open mind.

A preteen named Trevor attacks another preteen named Quinton at school and tries to steal his scooter. Quinton’s father intervenes and tells Trevor to bully someone his own age, since Quinton is a year younger. Burrard watches Quinton and his father as they drive off. In the office, Doggett tells Scully that an American businessman named Albert Brecht was found dead in his New Delhi hotel room three weeks ago. His autopsy shows that he died the same way Potocki did.

Scully sees that his recently issued passport says he weighed just over 200 pounds, but his autopsy showed he was 33 pounds heavier. She thinks this has something to do with “accommodation.” Maybe whatever killed the two men entered and left their bodies on its own after living inside them as a stowaway. Doggett says this is going beyond asking him to keep an open mind. Scully gets that, but the evidence supports her theory. Doggett asks about the part of the theory where Potocki was already dead when he left India.

In Cheverly, Quinton wakes up late at night and sees the beggar in his room. He calls for his father, who doesn’t see anyone and thinks Quinton just imagined an intruder. He puts Quinton back to bed, then goes downstairs to watch TV while the beggar watches him. The next time Quinton wakes up, it’s to his father’s shouts of terror. R.I.P. Quinton’s dead, who never even got a name.

Scully and Doggett check out this new crime scene, where Doggett feels horrible that Quinton had to find his father’s body. Scully wants to focus on the intruder Quinton saw. She mentions that he said he was keeping himself up with his arms, which fits the palm prints Doggett found in his room. But unlike with Brecht and Potocki, the intruder didn’t travel in anyone’s body – he came in through a window.

Since Quinton’s father seems to have died of a cerebral embolism, this death doesn’t seem to fit with the others. But since all the blood vessels in Quinton’s father’s eyes were broken, as Brecht and Potocki’s were, there’s something there. Scully wonders if that’s the first stage of death here.

She goes to the morgue for her next (unauthorized) autopsy, immediately noticing the large bulge in Quinton’s father’s stomach. She notes his weight as “quite possibly subject to change.” She makes an incision in his stomach, and a hand reaches itself out. Think Alien, but weirder. Scully grabs a gun (because who doesn’t bring a gun to an autopsy), but by the time she returns to the body, whatever was inside Quinton’s father is gone. She follows the trail of blood left behind, but it ends at a closed closet door, and there’s nothing inside – or at least nothing she sees.

Thanks to that little field trip, Burrard is late to work. Trevor sees him in a school hallway with his squeaky bucket, and he pauses when Burrard glares at him. Meanwhile, our friend Chuck Burks visits Scully and Doggett to show them a video he shot in India in the 1970s. He tells the agents about siddhi mystics, who have occult powers that allow them to manipulate reality and become tiny and/or invisible. They can even take on the appearance of someone else. Doggett: “Well, this has been…insightful.” Chuck thinks he doesn’t believe because he doesn’t understand.

Trevor goes to Quinton’s house to express his condolences and share his theory about Quinton’s father’s killer. Scully can’t see the case the way she thinks Mulder would, so she calls Chuck back to talk about the siddhi mystics more. Since the mystics believe their powers come from a divine source, they wouldn’t use them to murder, right? Chuck confirms this, saying the mystics would see that as endangering their souls. Scully wonders what might cause them to break their faith – something human, like revenge?

She’s found a news story about a chemical plant near Mumbai, where an accidental release of gas killed 118 people in Vishi. One of the people killed was an 11-year-old boy whose father is from the beggar caste. The father could be a mystic out for revenge, but why would he kill two American businessmen and Quinton’s father?

On his way home, Trevor hears squeaky wheels following him but doesn’t see anyone. He takes off running as the beggar pursues him. He makes it home, then immediately runs off again. His mother sees him at the bottom of their pool and dives in to save him, but he turns into the beggar. When Scully and Doggett are called to the house, the mother is dead, and Trevor is nowhere around.

Scully thinks this death matches the others, but Doggett thinks she’s making a connection between unrelated deaths. She’s seeing things that aren’t there. Scully insists that there’s a motive and a pattern, even if they don’t see them yet. They’ll have to find another way to work the case. Trevor returns to the house just then and tells the agents that the beggar was there.

Burrard is brought in for questioning, and Scully calls Chuck in for more consulting. Doggett tells him that he won’t talk, so they’re going to have to let him go. Chuck pulls out a video camera and tells Doggett that the man they see in the room might not really be there. Indeed, when the men look through the camera, they don’t see anyone in Burrard’s chair. This means the mystic could be anywhere.

Scully goes back to Trevor’s house to ask the boy about the beggar. Doggett calls her back to the office to tell her about Burrard, but before she can react, Trevor’s father reports that he’s not in the house. Burrard goes to the school, supposedly to clean, and the woman who interviewed him for the job decides to call Scully and let her know. Quinton and Trevor are a few steps ahead, though, using themselves as bait to try to trap the beggar. It almost works, but he catches on and they have to run.

Quinton hides out in a classroom, realizing too late that he can’t escape through a window. Trevor appears outside and tells him to break one. It’s too late, since the beggar has found him. He slowly wheels himself toward Quinton as Trevor runs off to get help. Scully arrives, and Quinton yells for her to help, but she doesn’t see a problem. As far as she can tell, the only people in the room are Quinton and Trevor.

As the fake Trevor turns to approach Scully, she draws her gun. But even knowing this child isn’t really a child, she can’t bring herself to shoot him. As Doggett arrives outside, shots ring out. Scully found her resolve after all and has killed the beggar. Both boys are safe, though they’re probably scarred for life. (Maybe they can get their parents to fall in love and form a new family?)

Once the proper authorities have been called in to take care of things, Doggett notices that Scully is struggling with what just happened. He reminds her that she didn’t actually shoot a child, no matter what she saw. She hates that she wasn’t able to trust her own eyes. Doggett asks why she shot him, then. Scully says she trusted what Quinton saw, and knows Mulder would have understood. He has the open mind Scully doesn’t have. Doggett thinks she should go easy on herself, since nothing in the case made sense. But Scully says it did, somehow. Then can she explain it to me? Because back in India, an American businessman is on his way to catch a plan when he comes across…the same beggar. Sigh.

Thoughts: Who do we blame for this episode’s premise? I want names.

Maybe Trevor should work for the X-Files. He put things together way faster than Scully and Doggett, and with much less information.

Someone wheeled something squeaky down the hallway outside my door while I was doing this recap, and I almost yelled, “That’s not funny!”

September 1, 2018

The X-Files 8.9, Salvage: Iron Man

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:26 pm by Jenn

Admittedly, this looks really cool

Summary: A man named Ray is dead, and two people named Nora and Curt are talking in vague terms about what killed him. Nora blames his time in the Gulf War, though the doctors haven’t been able to explain the illness that killed him. She wants payback. Someone watches from outside the window as Curt leaves Nora’s house and drives off. He gets distracted lighting a cigarette, then looks up just in time to see a man standing in the middle of the road. Curt slams on the brakes but hits the man anyway. However, the man is unharmed, and the car is destroyed around him. The last thing Curt sees is his old friend Ray reaching through his windshield.

We’re in Muncie, Indiana, and Scully and Doggett are on the case. The destroyed car remains in the road, but Curt is no longer in it, and they haven’t been able to reach him. Forensics show that whatever he hit had to have been 4,300 times the density of steel to cause the damage it did. Of course, something that heavy wouldn’t have been sitting in the middle of a residential street, so there’s your X-File.

Once the car is lifted up, Scully can see footprints in the asphalt under it. Doggett notes that, even if it were possible that the super-dense object the car hit was a person, they’d definitely see…well pieces of that person on the road. Scully replies that the footprints are the only evidence they have. He thinks Curt would have stopped if he saw someone in the road (though skid marks show that he did try to stop). Scully wonders if they’re not dealing with an ordinary man.

Nora comes outside, distressed that something horrible must have happened to Curt right after he left her house. She explains that Curt worked with Ray, her husband, at a salvage yard. Scully calls Doggett over to a trash can, where she’s found what’s left of Curt. He has huge, bloody holes in his forehead. Didn’t we already do a plot with bloody forehead holes? Are we running out of ideas eight years in?

Scully’s autopsy shows that Curt wasn’t killed by the crash – he was pulled through the windshield by someone’s hand, which left five deep wounds in his head. “Like a bowling ball,” Scully elaborates. Thanks for the word picture! She thinks they’re still dealing with a person who’s more than ordinary. Doggett has a new lead, though it makes no more sense than Scully’s theory: Ray’s fingerprints and blood were found in the car. Ray himself wakes up in his room at St. Clare’s Halfway House with little pieces of metal stuck in his cheek. He removes them with nail clippers.

Meanwhile, Doggett goes to Nora’s house, where she’s chatting with Harry Odell, the man who owns the salvage yard where Ray and Curt worked. Nora’s confused about why Doggett wants to talk about Ray, since he’s supposed to be investigating Curt’s death. She insists that Ray died of Gulf War Syndrome.

Doggett tells her that even though she requested that Ray’s body be cremated, and even though she was given ashes, there’s no record of the cremation taking place. Is it possible that Ray is still alive and was somehow involved in Curt’s death? Nora says that she watched her husband die, and by the end, he was too weak to lift his head, let alone walk. Harry says Ray was a good man.

Larina, a volunteer at the halfway house, introduces herself to Ray as he eats breakfast. She lets him know he’s eaten a little tinfoil with his sandwich. She tells him he’s not alone; she’s been where he is and knows it can help to talk. Ray tells her to leave him alone. Larina leaves, apparently not noting the blood on the backs of Ray’s hands.

Harry goes to the salvage yard that night and shreds some documents. Not suspicious at all! Ray appears to politely request his last paycheck and some personal time off to deal with some issues he’s going through. Okay, not really. Harry says that Ray can’t blame him or Curt for what happened – they’re his friends. He claims to have proof. In reality, he has a gun, and he’s determined to make sure that Ray stays dead this time. He fires, but Ray takes off, leaving behind only an arm…which still moves. Ray returns to collect it, and also kill Harry the way he killed Curt.

The next day, Doggett examines Harry’s body, noticing blue paint on his hands and fingernails. Scully’s with Curt’s body and tells Doggett over the phone that he doesn’t have any paint on him. Doggett doesn’t remember seeing anything on Harry when he left Nora’s the night before. Doggett thinks that after Harry heard that Ray might still be alive, he came to the office to shred something incriminating and was attacked. He admits that people can still do remarkable things after being horribly injured, but this seems too far beyond that to be plausible.

Scully’s more interested in the why than the how. Doggett has an idea, returning to Harry’s office to look at the document he shredded. The top, which is still intact, reads “Chamber Technologies.” Speaking of things that are intact, Ray’s arm is now back on his body. Larina comes to visit, wanting to check on him since someone said they saw him with blood on him. She offers to help him find a doctor, but he’s not interested in her help. He’s probably more concerned with the big hole in his face.

Doggett goes to Chamber Technologies, which is working on creating super-strong metals that can be used to build indestructible things. So it’s clear now, at least to the audience, what we’re dealing with, right? Doggett’s looking for David Clifton, whose name was on the shredded document, but he’s no longer with the company. His successor, Tom Puvogel, says their work is all theoretical, so they don’t deal with materials, which means they would have no need for a salvage yard.

Doggett relays all this info to Scully, who’s spending a lot of time in the morgue in this episode. She tells him that Ray’s Gulf War Syndrome was actually a reaction to some kind of metal. Doggett jumps from there to “Ray Pearce has become some kind of metal man” (which, of course, is a ridiculous theory). Scully’s like, “I’ve done this for seven years. I know stuff.” She thinks Puvogel is withholding something important from Doggett.

Larina sees Ray’s obituary in the newspaper, then sees a report about Harry’s death on the news. The police are saying robbery was the motivation. Larina calls Information to get Ray’s phone number. Meanwhile, Scully and Doggett meet up, and she reports that she’s confirmed that blood found at the scene of Harry’s murder was Ray’s. It contains a ton of metal alloy. Doggett says that, no matter what kind of creature he is now, Ray should still be thinking like a man. So why is he killing his supposed friends? Why is he hiding from Nora?

Doggett has Ray’s records from the VA, which state that he had a couple of DUIs ten years ago, but has since become sober. He overcame adversity and created a nice life with Nora. He’s not the sort of person who would go on a killing spree, especially not when the two murder victims were his friends. Scully says that even if they find Ray, he’s so strong now that they probably won’t be able to stop him.

Puvogel’s working late when Ray comes by his office to chat. Well, if “chat” means skulk around and go looking for trouble. Puvogel’s waiting for him and is able to lock him in a chamber of some kind. Scully and Doggett arrive quickly, so it looks like they figured out where Ray would show up next. Despite the strength of the walls imprisoning Ray, they’re not sure he’ll stay contained. Indeed, there’s a rupture in the chamber, and when the agents get the door open, Ray’s gone, having torn the walls apart with his bare hands.

Scully sees that some of Ray’s blood on a wall is merging with the metal. Doggett has Puvogel taken someplace safe while he and Scully figure out what to do next. Ray goes to the halfway house, where he finds Nora waiting for him. He tells her she shouldn’t have come. She’s upset that he didn’t come home to her after he came back from the dead, or whatever. He tells her he couldn’t because he’s not himself. She’s unbothered by his deteriorating skin and just sees his resurrection as a miracle. She wants to help. Ray tells her, “They’ve all got to pay.”

Doggett goes to the salvage yard and finds “Chamber” written on the side of a big container. He hears a knocking noise and sees a pair of hands reaching out from inside a hazardous-materials barrel. There’s a dead body inside. Scully and Doggett have Puvogel brought in to ID the body, which they’ve already guessed is David Clifton. He says Clifton was dying and was worried that Chamber’s work would be hindered. The two just wanted to do the right thing for their company.

Puvogel explains that Clifton got sick after working with an alloy that contained a genetic algorithm. It could convert energy and basically form memories. When Clifton got sick, they shut down the project, but obviously it was too late. Puvogel covered up Clifton’s death so the team could keep working. Somehow, the barrel containing the body was sent to the salvage yard, where the alloy infected Ray.

As Scully pulls Doggett aside, they spot Nora arriving. She grabs a file and starts to make a phone call. A SWAT team goes to the halfway house, looking for Ray, who grabs Larina and covers her mouth to keep her from screaming. This works a little too well, and she dies, either from the strength of Ray’s grip or the toxins in the alloy. Ray makes his escape.

Doggett and Scully tell Nora that her husband has now killed three people. Nora says Curt and Harry made him who he is, which Scully disagrees with. But Nora thinks Chamber knew, and Doggett guesses that Ray sent her there to get revenge. Scully demands to know the name of the person Ray blames the most for his condition. Nora says she wasn’t able to complete her call to Ray and give him the name.

Nora’s taken into protective custody, which somehow means letting her go home while agents watch the house. They don’t bother to check out the inside of the house first, though, and Ray is already there waiting for his wife. Nora asks why he killed Larina when she was just trying to help. Ray demands the name of the person who caused his condition, but Nora won’t give it up – she doesn’t want anyone else to die. He grabs her arm and squeezes hard.

Sometime later, Nora bursts out of the house and tells the agents outside that she was forced to give Ray the name Owen Harris. A rapidly deteriorating Ray ambushes the Harris family in their car and pulls Owen out like he did Curt. Owen’s confused, saying he’s just an accountant. When Ray hears Owen’s son screaming for him, he stops. I guess revenge just isn’t worth traumatizing a little kid by killing his father in front of him.

When Scully and Doggett reach the scene, the Harrises are fine and Ray is gone. Doggett doesn’t get why Ray would just stop his spree. Scully says that Owen was the target because he authorized the delivery of the toxic barrel to the salvage yard. She thinks the real Ray died, and the killer he became was just an abomination. He’s a machine now. He still has a flicker of humanity, and it made him spare Owen. But it looks like Ray has melded with Owen’s car, and is now slumbering in another salvage yard, possibly waiting before he strikes again.

Thoughts: Larina, hon, if an angry man tells you to leave him alone, LEAVE HIM ALONE.

Writers, please. I need you to name a character Smith. Just one. Don’t make me keep typing “Puvogel” over and over.

So is Scully going to wait until she’s showing before she tells Doggett she’s pregnant? Until she gives birth? Is she just going to call in one day, tell him she’s taking a couple months off, and then return to work 40 pounds lighter?

August 25, 2018

The X-Files 8.8, Surekill: I’m No Superman

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

Yep, that’s fire, all right

Summary: A man in Worcester, Massachusetts, makes a frantic pay phone call to leave a message about a woman who’s lying. He insists that the truth is in a desk drawer. He abandons the phone and runs away, but trips and falls, because apparently this is a cheesy horror movie. The man runs to a police station and tells the officers there that someone wants to kill him. He grabs a gun, but the officers wrestle him to the ground. They shove him in a holding cell, which the man says isn’t safe enough. The person coming for him will still be able to kill him. And he’s right, as suddenly he’s dead, in a big splat of blood.

The next morning, Scully looks at an x-ray of the man’s head. It shows that he was shot in the head, despite the fact that no one visible shot him. The man, Carlton Chase, was a Realtor with no criminal record. The police captain, Triguero, greets the agents and shows them the spot in the ceiling where the killer appears to have hidden to shoot Chase. That still doesn’t explain why no one heard a gunshot.

The agents head up to the spot above the cell, a small attic space that doesn’t look big enough for someone to make the shot. On the roof, Scully finds only a pencil. She and Doggett guess that this was more than just a lucky shot, since Chase knew he was going to be killed. Doggett finds a piece of towel and thinks it was used as a makeshift gun silencer.

Scully thinks the killer could have aimed (through two layers of non-transparent materials, by the way) by using thermal imaging to detect Chase’s body heat. Doggett notes that the device needed for that weighs 90 pounds and would have to be lugged up to the roof of the police station. And even if that were the case, the killer would be pretty gutsy to plan all this at a police station.

A woman named Tammi heads to work at AAA-1 Surekill Exterminators, opening the business for the day. As she reads a newspaper article about Chase’s death, she plays the messages on the business’ machine and hears his. She checks the desk drawer he mentioned and finds a cash box, but it’s empty. When a co-worker catches her, Tammi lies that she was fixing a printer cable. She also lies that there are no messages on the machine. Her co-worker, Dwight, notices the light on the machine is blinking, but fortunately for Tammi, there’s another message to play.

She asks if Dwight heard about Chase, but he just tells her to get someone named Randall on the phone. Randall himself then arrives, and Tammi tells him his brother wants to see him. Instead of going to see Dwight, Randall gets to work, getting rid of exterminated rats. Dwight is cranky, so I’d probably choose to go that route, too.

Dwight finds him and asks what happened last night. He’s not happy that Randall decided to make a move without telling the others. Randall says he saw Chase stealing from the business. Dwight asks where the stolen money is, but Randall doesn’t know. Dwight reminds him that he always needs to get the money before he kills someone. The others always need to be informed. Randall asks if they’re going out tonight, and Dwight smiles.

Scully and Doggett go to Chase’s office, which is less than a mile from the police station and probably where he started thinking someone was after him. Scully notices from Chase’s paperwork that he did a lot of business with Surekill, probably having them check out houses he was selling. Doggett finds a bullet casing, but it doesn’t match the kind that killed Chase. There are dozens of holes in the walls, making Doggett think Chase was trying to shoot someone in the office. Scully says it could have been someone outside shooting inside.

Dwight surprises three guys in a warehouse when he arrives to get the money Chase stole, as well as some drugs. The men have guns and are more than happy to shoot Dwight, but he acts first, shooting them just by making the motions with his bare hands. (He also says “bang” every time he shoots, which is understandable. It would be hard to resist doing that.) Once the guys are on the ground, Randall joins his brother, ready to set the place on fire.

The agents come to the scene, wondering if they’re dealing with more lucky shots. Scully lines up bullet holes with the victims and determines that the shooter was standing behind a wall. That means he wouldn’t be able to see his victims. Scully suggests that the shooter can see through walls thanks to the use of wavelengths most people can’t see. In other words, maybe he has x-ray vision.

Scully won’t admit that she has a weird theory; she just says that her conjecture is that the shooter’s eyes are configured differently than most people’s. “Calling Clark Kent,” Doggett quips. He thinks this was a simple drug rip-off, a not-uncommon occurrence in the area. He’s not sure of Chase’s part in this yet, but he wants to follow up on a lead: sulfuryl fluoride.

At Surekill, Tammi tries to go about her normal tasks, but Dwight wants to see her in his office. And by “see her,” I mean engage in activities that are completely inappropriate for the office. Tammi feels especially uncomfortable because Randall’s right outside the door. If Scully’s right and Randall has x-ray vision, he’s getting quite a show.

The agents show up to talk to Dwight about the paperwork from Chase’s office tying him to Surekill. Dwight reveals that he’s been legally blind since birth, then calls Tammi over to look at the paperwork for him. She IDs it as billing from Chase, whom Dwight says was a great client. Doggett shows the two the piece of the towel from the police station, which has sulfuryl fluoride on it, an insecticide. Dwight acknowledges that they use it, as do a lot of other exterminators in the area.

Doggett confirms that Dwight is an ex-con, though he served his time a long time ago, and he’s now a model citizen. (Well, allegedly.) Doggett asks why Chase called Surekill less than 15 minutes before he was killed. Dwight says the employees were all gone by that time, and there was no message on the machine from Chase. Tammi doesn’t say anything.

After the agents leave, Dwight, of course, asks Tammi about the call. She says Chase must have left a message, but she accidentally erased it without hearing it. She was afraid to tell Dwight in case she lost them some business. Dwight flicks open a lighter, wanting a better look at Tammi’s eyes to see if she’s telling the truth. She lies that she is, and he seems to believe her.

At the police station, Scully and Doggett pull up Dwight’s record, which says he was arrested for grand theft auto in 1986. Interesting, since he’s legally blind and wouldn’t be able to see to drive a car. He and Randall were arrested together, so they must have been working together. Scully notes that they have the same birthday. Doggett says he hates twins, since they never rat each other out. Scully suggests that Tammi might.

Tammi’s at home for the night, but Randall’s keeping an eye on her through her apartment wall. It’s gross. The next morning, Tammi rushes to work, trying to get the box Chase mentioned before Randall and Dwight catch her. She fails, but before Dwight can look in the box, Scully and Doggett arrive with a warrant to search the office. Doggett asks about the box, but Tammi says she doesn’t remember the combination to the lock. Doggett pries it open and finds nothing inside.

Dwight insists that everything about his business is legit, but Scully finds some invoices that contradict that. Dwight and Randall earn themselves a trip to the police station and separate interrogations. Scully would like to know how Surekill, a tiny three-person company, was able to bill Chase for $700,000 last year. Just how many rats did they kill? Scully suggests that Dwight, Randall, and Chase were running a side business.

Dwight tells Doggett that he’s just a regular Joe providing a public service. Next door, Randall stares through the wall and tells Scully the same thing. Scully guesses that he’s repeating what his brother just said to Doggett. Her theory (sorry, conjecture) about Randall having x-ray vision is becoming more and more likely. He can read lips, and he can shoot drug dealers through walls. All Dwight and Randall’s money is coming from drug dealers they rob. Randall says no, they’re just exterminators. “You certainly are,” Scully agrees.

She guesses that this whole side business was Dwight’s idea, so it’s time for Randall to be his own man and think for himself. And then it’s time for the agents to question Tammi. Randall promises Dwight that he only said the same things Dwight did. Dwight says they still have a problem, and it needs to be taken care of.

Tammi insists to Doggett and Scully that she’s just a bookkeeper and doesn’t know anything about drug dealers or murders. The agents present their theory that Chase was a fence, selling the drugs that Dwight and Randall stole. So why did they kill him? Scully thinks it was for personal, not business, reasons. Tammi asks if she’s under arrest. She’s not, so she gets to go home, but of course, Randall’s still watching her.

Phone records show that Tammi’s made multiple calls to Chase, probably to discuss Dwight and Randall’s activities. They guess that Dwight found out about the calls, thought Tammi was hooking up with Chase, and eliminated his romantic competition. As Tammi goes over to Randall’s, Scully changes her mind: Maybe Randall is the jealous one. Tammi has the same theory that Randall killed Chase, and she tells Randall she still needs help.

The next morning, Tammi drives Randall to the bus station and tells him to wait for her. She’ll join him once she has the money. She knows Randall took her book to protect her from Dwight, but she needs it to get her money. Randall gives her the book, which is some kind of ledger, and she promises she’ll be back to join him. She owes him since he saved her from Chase.

Scully and Doggett go to Tammi’s apartment, where all her stuff is gone. They guess she was fleeing town. Doggett calls the last place Tammi called, Cradock Marine Bank. That’s where she is now, leaving with a bag full of money. Dwight’s hiding in her car to steal back the money Tammi stole from him (after he stole it from drug dealers). Just as Randall’s giving up on Tammi joining him at the bus station, police officers arrive.

At Surekill, Dwight confirms that Tammi, not Chase, was ripping him off. She explains that Chase blackmailed her when he found out she was stealing. She didn’t want to take part in their relationship. Dwight asks why Randall killed Chase if he wasn’t the thief. He figures out that Randall had a crush on Tammi and killed Chase because he knew about their relationship.

Randall arrives, and Dwight decides it’s time for him to kill his crush. He’s mad that Randall knew that Tammi was stealing. He must have thought they would run off together. Dwight says that Tammi used Randall, but Dwight’s the only one who really loves him. They need to stick together no matter what. Dwight says he’ll walk away and try to figure out how to forgive his brother. Randall’s job is to get rid of the thief.

Tammi pleads for her life, promising Randall that she was coming back for her. He wraps his gun in a towel and says he doesn’t believe her. He takes a shot, but not at Tammi – he shoots Dwight instead, even though Dwight’s outside, hundreds of feet away.

The agents bring Randall in for questioning, but he won’t talk. Tammi has taken off. Scully thinks Randall watched her every day and chose her over anyone or anything in the world. He must have seen something in her that she didn’t even see in herself. Doggett asks if she’s suggesting that he could see into her heart, something that’s beyond the FBI’s ability to grasp. Randall uses his x-ray vision to look through the police station’s walls at a picture of his crush on a computer screen.

Thoughts: I always thought “the Exterminator” would make a good name for an assassin.

The real question is how Randall’s bullets are able to travel so far.

Guy Dwight is about to shoot: “You’re funny. Nah, you know what? Chris Rock is funny. You’re just dead.” Well, that wasn’t funny either. Try harder next time. (Oh, wait. YOU’RE dead. Never mind.)

August 18, 2018

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

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

A trend that just never caught on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 11, 2018

The X-Files 8.6, Redrum: If I Could Turn Back Time

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

Mellie and Papa Pope look at old home movies of Olivia

Summary: A giant spider is spinning a web above a man’s head when he wakes up in a prison cell. He notes that he’s dressed in orange and has a cut on his face. The man, Martin Wells, is led down a hallway to Scully and Doggett, the latter of whom he knows. Prison guards take him outside, where the press is eager to try to talk to him. Doggett spots a man with a gun and yells a warning, but it’s too late – Wells has been shot. He sees the time and date on Scully’s watch: 8:20 on the 8th. Then the watch’s hands start ticking backwards.

It’s 8:23 a.m. on Thursday, December 7th, when Wells wakes up in his cell again. He’s surprised to see that he has no gunshot wounds. Scully and Doggett burst into the cell and show him a key card, asking if he’s seen it before. He says he has. He asks why he’s there, but Doggett thinks he’s trying to put together an insanity defense. He demands that Wells tell him the truth.

Scully asks again if Wells recognizes the key card. He says it’s his, from his apartment building. She tells him it was found in a Dumpster behind the Strand Hotel. Doggett thinks he drove to Baltimore, killed someone, drove back to D.C., and threw out the card, planning to claim it was stolen. This is the first Wells has heard about a murder. Doggett doesn’t feel the need to soften the blow when he shows Wells a crime-scene photo revealing that his wife, Vicky, is the murder victim. “This is not happening,” Wells says tearfully.

At 10:12 a.m., Wells arrives at Baltimore Circuit Court for his arraignment. His lawyer, Janet Wilson, is pleased that he knows the judge, Kinberg, well enough to call him by his first name. Wells spots his shooter in the gallery – it’s his father-in-law, Al. Janet’s confused since Wells is fine. Then Wells is the one who’s confused, when he hears it’s Thursday, since as far as he knows, yesterday was Friday.

Janet tells Kinberg that Wells is a target in custody, since he’s a prosecutor, so he should be allowed bail. The prosecutor, Carter promises that Wells will be safe in jail. Janet continues that Wells is an upstanding citizen. Carter disagrees, since Wells is being accused of killing his wife in their home. Janet thinks Wells is harmless and should be allowed to go home and take care of his kids. Carter points out that they have no one to take care of them because Wells killed their mother.

Kinberg decides to do exactly what Wells would want him to do if he were the prosecutor: He denies bail. But he’ll allow Wells to be transferred to another facility. Wells predicts that Al will shoot him tomorrow morning, during the transfer. Kinberg ignores him and sends him back to lockup. Wells yells that it’s going to happen, demanding that someone listen to him.

He asks to meet with Scully and Doggett, who remind him that they met yesterday – Wednesday. Scully thinks Wells is having trouble with his memory. He says the last thing he remembers is being shot. He wonders if he had a premonition. Scully tries to get at what else Wells remembers, determining that he’s lost three days’ worth of memories. Doggett finds his sudden amnesia very convenient. Wells insists that he doesn’t understand anything that’s going on, but he knows for sure that he didn’t kill Vicky. Scully asks how he can be sure, if he doesn’t remember.

Back in his cell, Wells has some flashes of memory, but backwards: a knife, and a broken glass putting itself back together. He takes out his anger on the spider and its web, pulling them down. His young daughters, Haley and Courtney, are allowed to visit, and he promises he’ll be home soon. One of the girls says that their grandfather said he won’t be allowed to come home. Wells remembers the breaking glass again, this time seeing more of the memory. His wife fell on a glass coffee table, shattering it.

Wells asks the girls’ nanny, Trina, to get him something from his daughters’ room. It’s a teddy bear, which Janet brings to him. Inside is a nanny cam that may have recorded Vicky’s murder. Janet reminds him that she has to share whatever’s on the tape with Carter, even if it shows that Wells is the killer. Wells just wants everything cleared up. He rewinds the tape to Monday morning, getting a last glimpse of Vicky before her death. But the only person on the tape other than her and the police is Wells.

Wells wakes up the next morning (well, the previous morning, because, unlike Wells, the audience has figured out by now that time is moving backwards) to find his face wound and the spiderweb gone. A guard arrives, and Wells refuses to go with him for his transfer. The guard tells him his lawyers are there. Wells meets Janet, though he thinks they’ve met before. He asks about the tape, which Janet has no knowledge of. The other lawyer, Brent, is confused that Wells thinks the bail hearing has already occurred. It won’t be happening until tomorrow.

Wells finally catches on that everything is moving backwards, but his lawyers are none the wiser. They assure him that the prosecution has nothing on him. Since his key card is missing, they can’t even prove that he was in his apartment building. Wells, of course, knows that it’s going to turn up soon.

In the prison yard with his fellow inmates, Wells briefly locks eyes with a guy named Ocampo. An inmate named Shorty approaches, recognizing Wells as the prosecutor who got him locked up. Wells doesn’t remember the man’s name; all he knows is that Shorty broke the law. Shorty chuckles and dubs him Wife Killer, Esq. As Wells is leaving, someone shoves him into a table where some inmates are playing dominoes. Ocampo, who has a spiderweb tattoo on his hand, takes the opportunity to slash Wells’ face.

Scully and Doggett come visit again, Scully believing this is the first time she and Wells are meeting. He tells the agents that time is moving backwards, and all he can remember is what happened the following day, which to him was the previous day. Doggett thinks the cut on his face was accompanied by a head injury that’s making him confused. Wells says that’s another example of the weirdness – the cut was on his face yesterday, but not this morning.

Scully determines that Wells doesn’t remember the day of Vicky’s murder. Wells says he can’t remember something that hasn’t happened yet. Scully notes that he’ll never be able to prove this. Tomorrow, he’ll have to tell the agents about this conversation again, because for them, it won’t have happened yet. Doggett asks to be excluded from that conversation. Scully asks Wells why he thinks this is happening, if it’s true. Wells doesn’t know, but he thinks there’s something he’s supposed to understand. Scully wonders if the answer is already in him.

Janet brings Wells his case file so he can look at all the evidence against him. Shorty is nearby, sweeping, and he mocks Wells for looking for a technicality that will get him freed. He laughs when Wells says he’s looking for the truth. He thinks Wells is guilty, and the truth will keep him locked up rather than setting him free. Wells steels himself to look at the crime scene photos, remembering more of the murder. Though it’s still backwards, it’s enough to let him see who the killer is.

On Tuesday morning, Wells wakes up a couch. There’s a news report on TV talking about how he’s been accused of killing his wife and is staying with a friend. The police are looking for the key card used to access Wells’ home. Doggett is the friend Wells is staying with, and he hasn’t yet started to believe that Wells is the killer. Wells tells him he knows the murderer is in lockup. He doesn’t know the man’s name, but he recognized his spiderweb tattoo.

As Wells watches Al address reporters on the news, Doggett calls the jail and learns that there’s no prisoner there matching Wells’ description. Wells says he must not have been arrested yet. He remembers what Scully said about already having the answer, and decides that answer might be in his apartment.

The two men go to Wells’ place to get the teddy bear with the nanny cam inside it. I don’t think the main suspect in a murder would be let into the crime scene, but okay. The tape is the same as it was the last time Wells looked at it, but Doggett thinks it makes Wells look innocent. Due to the position of the sun, they can see that Vicky came home before the murderer entered the building at 4:17 a.m. When Wells appears on the tape, the sun is already up. Wells realizes that the killer turned off the camera while he was committing his crime.

Wells thinks that only he and Vicky knew about the nanny cam, but Doggett gets him to change his mind. They go confront the nanny herself, accusing her of taking Wells’ key card. Ocampo is in the house with Trina, and Doggett quickly overpowers him. Trina apologetically says that Ocampo threatened her family to make her get the key card.

Doggett takes Ocampo to the police station and reluctantly lets Wells talk to him, since Ocampo won’t speak to anyone else. Wells simply asks the man, “Why?” Ocampo explains that Wells put his brother, Hector, in prison. Wells has no sympathy; he was just doing his job. And it’s no excuse for Ocampo killing Vicky. Ocampo argues that Wells had three witnesses saying Hector was innocent, but he prosecuted Hector anyway because he’d committed crimes in the past. Because it was his third strike, he’s now in prison for life.

Wells tells Ocampo that if he pleads guilty to Vicky’s murder, Wells will look into Hector’s case. Maybe he can reduce his sentence to time served. Both of them want justice, and Wells seems to think this is a fair deal. Ocampo disagrees, since Hector is dead, having killed himself in his prison cell. Just then, Doggett calls Wells out of the room and apologizes for not being able to stop the police. They’re ready to arrest him for Vicky’s murder.

On Monday, Wells wakes up at 2:07 a.m. in the Strand Hotel. There are just over two hours in the morning before Ocampo will arrive at the Wells’ apartment to kill Vicky. He tries to call his wife, but she doesn’t answer the phone. He tells her to leave the apartment as soon as she gets the message. Wells then goes to Doggett and tells him that Vicky’s going to be murdered. The police wouldn’t listen when he called, but they’ll listen to Doggett.

Doggett notes that he and Wells haven’t seen each other in three years, so if he’s bursting into Doggett’s home to announce a murder that’s about to happen, Doggett will need some explanation. Wells thinks he’s getting a second chance. He admits to suppressing evidence that would have kept Hector out of prison. Wells is willing to come clean now, even if it lands him in jail, because it might be the only way he can save Vicky.

While Doggett calls the police to tell them about the future murder, Wells rushes home. The coffee table is intact, so he thinks the police have arrived in time. They tell him no one’s there, and since it’s 4:20, three minutes past Ocampo’s time of arrival, there’s been no crime. But Vicky also isn’t there, so Wells is confused. After the police leave, he calls Al, who tells him that Vicky left for home hours ago.

Wells hears someone outside the apartment door, so he grabs a knife. Fortunately, it’s Vicky. Wells hears someone outside the door again and gets Vicky to hide while he goes to confront Ocampo with the knife. Ocampo attacks and Wells drops the knife, so the two men beat up on each other. Vicky comes out and sees, screaming. Ocampo decides to go after her instead.

He grabs the knife and attacks Vicky just like he did in Wells’ memory. But Scully and Doggett arrive in time to shoot Ocampo and save both Wells and Vicky before Ocampo can stab them. Doggett asks if this was the second chance Wells was hoping for. Wells nods and looks at Scully’s watch. The hands are moving forward, like they’re supposed to.

Three months later, Wells is in prison, voicing over about time and facing the past and yourself and blah blah blah. He’s learned that you can’t escape “the prison of your own character.” But hey, at least Vicky’s alive!

Thoughts: Wells and Janet are both played by Scandal alums, Joe Morton and Bellamy Young. Morton was also in Terminator 2 with Robert Patrick. Ocampo is played by Danny Trejo.

I want to give a big round of applause to whoever named this episode “Redrum.” That’s some good naming.

No one seems surprised that Wells stayed in a hotel instead of just going home to Baltimore. It’s not exactly a long drive from D.C.

Some friend Doggett is for thinking Wells is a murderer. Maybe there’s a reason they didn’t see each other for three years.

August 4, 2018

The X-Files 8.5, Invocation: All the Pretty Children Who Reappear After Ten Years and Want to Murder You

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

Hide all sharp objects

Summary: It’s September of 1990 and there’s a fair going on at an elementary school in Dexter, Oklahoma. There are ponies! A boy named Billy Underwood wants his mom, Lisa, to watch him while he swings, but she’s busy talking to someone. She’s going to regret that later, since there’s a man watching her son. Billy disappears from the swingset, and when Lisa goes looking for him, there’s no sign of him other than his discarded backpack.

Ten years later, Lisa goes to pick up her son Josh (with whom she was pregnant when Billy disappeared) at school. He tells her some people are looking for her. They have something very bizarre to show her: Billy, still the age he was when he disappeared, swinging on the same swingset where he was last seen. Only now he looks…creepy. Like, this-kid-might-murder-you-in-your-sleep creepy.

Scully and Doggett come to Oklahoma, where a local sheriff tells them that he confirmed Billy’s identity. Obviously, no one can explain why he hasn’t aged in ten years, and the boy isn’t talking. (Right, because he’s busy plotting their murders.) Since there was never a suspect for Billy’s kidnapping, the police are stuck. Scully confirms that, despite being born 17 years ago, Billy is only seven. Lisa just thinks it’s a miracle.

Scully tells her that whatever happened to Billy has affected him physically. Lisa doesn’t care – she wants to take him home. Doggett tells her to wait, then goes in to talk to Billy himself. He encourages Billy to talk about what happened so that whatever it was won’t hurt so much anymore. Billy ignores him and keeps drawing a picture. Doggett assures him that he didn’t do anything wrong, and they need to work together to find the bad guy who kidnapped him. Billy: still not talking.

Doggett shows Billy his backpack and offers to let him have it back. However, he can’t take it until he tells Doggett his kidnapper’s name. Dude, don’t manipulate the kid. Lisa rushes in and calls a halt to the conversation. Scully chastises her partner, wondering whether he’s ever worked a case involving a child before. Doggett has, but he’s less interested in helping a traumatized child and more interested in finding the person who traumatized him.

Doggett goes all Scully, suggesting that Billy has a medical condition that’s delaying his puberty. Scully reminds him that her medical examination has determined that Billy’s perfectly healthy. Doggett says that, in that case, he’s capable of talking. Yeah, but probably not to the guy who just tried to manipulate him. You’re going to get murdered in your sleep first, Doggett.

Lisa and her husband, Doug, finally take Billy home and send him to the backyard to play with Josh and the family’s dog, Sparky. Sparky doesn’t like his new playmate, and the screen door between him and Billy is the only thing that keeps the dog from attacking. Lisa says that the dog just doesn’t realize that Billy’s part of the family. Josh also seems pretty skeptical.

Scully tells Doggett that Billy’s medical chart shows that he’s the same boy he was in 1990 – and she means exactly the same. He still has baby teeth, and his bloodwork is identical to bloodwork he had done just a few weeks before he disappeared. This should be medically impossible, which means this is definitely an X-File. Scully thinks they’re dealing with aliens.

Doggett thinks it’s lazy to use that as an excuse. He’s been looking at the case file from Billy’s disappearance and is interested in a man named Ronald Purnell, a suspect who was dismissed. He shouldn’t have been, since he’s the guy who was watching Billy at the fair. Scully’s annoyed that Doggett looked into Ronald’s juvenile records, which had been sealed. Doggett clearly has no problem breaking the law to catch Billy’s abductor.

That night, after the kids are asleep (or at least Billy’s just pretending to be asleep while he plots his family’s murders), Lisa and Doug argue about whether Billy is really Billy. Doug thinks Josh might be right to be afraid of his brother. Billy eavesdrops a little, then approaches his brother’s room with a big knife. If only the Underwoods had listened to my warnings about Billy killing them in their sleep.

The next morning, Doggett pays Ronald a visit, catching him just as he comes home. Ronald says he remembers Billy’s disappearance, and he’s confused when Doggett says he wants to take Ronald to the boy to see if Billy recognizes him. As he gets in his car to leave, Doggett pulls a picture of a little boy out of his wallet and looks at it sadly. That’s right, kids – just like Mulder, Doggett also has a past trauma we’ll have to deal with!

Lisa goes to wake up Josh and is horrified to see the knife in his bed. Josh is bleeding a little, and there’s blood on his bed, but he’s not badly injured. Billy’s standing in the room, just standing there and being creepy. The sheriff tests the blood on the knife and tells Scully and Doggett that it’s Billy’s. No one’s sure where the knife came from.

Scully thinks Billy should be institutionalized for everyone’s safety, but Doggett objects to taking him away from his family again. Maybe he’s trying to communicate something. Scully reminds him that this is a bizarre case, so they need to take some precautions. Doggett notices a symbol on the knife, and the sheriff reveals that a police psychic brought onto Billy’s case ten years ago came up with the same symbol. Scully recognizes it as something Billy has drawn.

Lisa gently asks Billy to tell her what happened to him so they can all move forward. He gets a little agitated, and she assures him that they’re going to see a doctor who might be able to help him, but nothing’s going to happen to him. Billy: still silent. Josh: still skeptical. Doug sees him watching the family get Billy ready, and tells Lisa that he’s okay taking Billy to a psychiatrist, but he doesn’t want Josh to suffer. Doug is about to leave with Billy when he realizes Billy is no longer in the car. He’s suddenly in Josh’s room, just staring creepily again.

Ronald’s mother, Marcia, is annoyed with her son’s attitude. Her boyfriend, Cal, gets home and almost comes to blows with Ronald. Ronald runs off to some nearby woods, finds a trowel, and digs, unearthing a skull. Back at the Underwoods’, the police psychic, Sharon Pearl, is ready to lend a hand in finding out what happened to Billy. Doug isn’t happy with this, but Doggett tells him they’re trying to help him keep his family together.

Sharon meets Billy, who gives her the same creepy stare he’s been giving everyone. She announces that there are powerful forces working through Billy, drawing him to Josh. And that force is coming through Doggett. Sharon knows that Doggett “lost someone just like Billy.” Suddenly, Sharon starts convulsing and speaking in tongues. The veins in her forehead form an X like the symbol on the knife.

Cal stops Ronald as he’s leaving the house and warns him to keep his mouth shut if the police comes back. He pulls out a knife and threatens to tell them about what Ronald has buried in the woods. He cuts Ronald’s ear before Marcia comes out to make sure her two men are behaving themselves.

Once Sharon’s been stabilized and taken away in an ambulance, Doggett tells Scully that he thinks she was faking the whole thing. Not that he can explain how the symbol appeared on her forehead. Scully recorded the session, and she plays Sharon’s tongue-speaking backwards. It sounds like someone singing “All the Pretty Horses.”

Doggett sees Ronald pull up outside the Underwood’s house, just watching. Billy appears in the car with him, and when Doggett comes over to see what’s happening, Ronald takes off. Doggett thinks he’s kidnapping the boy and chases after him. Scully’s able to circle around and force Ronald to stop. But now Billy is no longer in the car.

Doug stops at a gas station with Josh, who stays in the car while his father goes inside to pay. He sees a pony being led to a trailer and gets out to get a closer look. Someone grabs him and he yells for help. At the local police station, Scully tells Doggett that he couldn’t have seen Billy in Ronald’s car, since she saw him in the house moments earlier. Everything about the case is impossible. Doggett thinks Billy is the key. The sheriff interrupts to tell the agents that Josh has disappeared.

Doggett questions Ronald, who denies that Billy was in his car. He only went to the house because he didn’t believe Doggett when he said Ronald could talk to Billy. Flashes from ten years ago show that Billy was kept in a confined space, where Ronald sang “All the Pretty Horses” to him. In the present, Ronald cries and tells Doggett he didn’t hurt Billy – he took care of him. He sang so Billy wouldn’t be afraid. Doggett asks who Billy would be afraid of.

Of course, that person is Cal, so the agents and the police race to Marcia’s trailer to arrest him. They find a bunker under the barn and pull Josh out of the same spot where Billy was kept ten years earlier. Doggett spots Cal running and chases him into the woods. When he’s finally cornered, Cal admits that Josh is back in the trailer, but he denies that Billy is there. Doggett sees Billy in the woods, though he quickly disappears. Doggett then stumbles across the skull Ronald unearthed in the ground.

The next day, the woods are declared a crime scene, and the rest of Billy’s body is dug up. Doggett can’t wrap his mind around the fact that they’ve seen Billy multiple times over the past few days, even though they’re now looking at his bones. Scully thinks it’s enough that they’ve stopped Cal from hurting Josh or any other kids. Doggett scoffs at the idea that this is a case of “justice from beyond the grave.” Scully thinks he should consider this a victory no matter the circumstances. She leaves, and Doggett looks on as Lisa and Doug cry over Billy’s remains.

Thoughts: Poor Josh. How do you explain to a ten-year-old that his long-missing older brother is back, but is now his younger brother? And then how do you explain that that brother was dead the whole time, but somehow protected him from being murdered?

Also, I assume this is a “Paper Hearts” situation and Billy wasn’t Cal’s only victim. So…that’s disturbing. I also wonder if Ronald went to the fair to protect anyone Cal might be pursuing. I wish we’d gotten more of an explanation for that whole dynamic.

That distorted singing of “All the Pretty Horses” means I’m not going to be able to sleep for at least the next five years, so thanks for that, show.

July 28, 2018

The X-Files 8.4, Roadrunners: O Holy Slug

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:07 pm by Jenn

That common tableau seen in most Christian denominations

Summary: In the Sevier Desert in Juab County, Utah, a man is trying to find a ride a little after midnight. A bus finally comes along, and at first it looks like it’s going to keep driving, but it eventually stops. The driver isn’t sympathetic when the man complains. He finds a seat and tries to relax, but the bus stops again a few moments later. Everyone silently gets off.

Confused, the man follows the other passengers, who all stand facing a man using crutches to watch. Suddenly the driver starts hitting him over the head with a rock. The other passengers join in until the man is, presumably, dead. Once he’s been taken care of, the killers turn on the confused man.

Scully checks out the scene sometime later, finding blood on the ground and something silvery on a rock. She’s the only one around, and she doesn’t have any cell service. She finds a pay phone and calls Doggett, who’s back in D.C. and unaware that Scully’s out on a case. She explains that she was asked to come do an autopsy on a murder victim who left home about six months ago for a backpacking trip. Though he was healthy when he left, his body now shows signs of disorders that usually only older people get.

Scully asks Doggett to look up an X-File that involved glycoproteins (AKA mucus) at a crime scene. She can’t remember the details of the case, but since Doggett recently looked through all the case files, she thinks he might know where to look. A bus drives by, and Scully watches it with interest, probably wondering why a bus is driving through a part of the desert that apparently contains no people.

Scully herself has a car, so she drives to a gas station to ask where the bus might have been heading. The station attendant has a cut on his hand, and Scully checks it out. She asks if the attendant heard anything about the backpacker’s murder. He just says it sounds scary. He’s out of gas, since his delivery hasn’t arrived, but he brings a gas can to add a little to Scully’s quarter tank. She asks where they are, exactly, since she can’t find the town on her map. He says they’re not really a town, “just a few like-minded people trying to keep the modern world at bay.”

As soon as Scully drives away, the attendant goes inside and tells the driver that help is coming. She’s sitting with the confused man from the bus, who’s alive but not well. Despite the extra gas, Scully’s car breaks down, and she has to walk back to the station. She accuses the attendant of putting something in her tank that killed her engine. She examines the gas can and realizes it only contains water. The attendant says it must be rainwater, which Scully finds doubtful, seeing as how they’re in the desert.

She wants to use the phone, but the attendant says he doesn’t have one. Scully wonders how he communicates with his delivery people, then. He sends her up the street to a man named Mr. Milsap, but his phone line is dead. Milsap says the lines are being updated, so service is spotty. It’ll come back, but he doesn’t know when. He offers to give Scully a room in his house, which used to be a boardinghouse, but Scully’s getting suspicious. It seems like someone doesn’t want her to leave town.

She asks about the bus, which Milsap says wouldn’t have come through town without him knowing. He offers a room again, but Scully leaves, apparently willing to walk for help. Milsap tells her it’s 18 miles to any other civilization. She spots a woman across the street and calls out to her, but the woman ignores her and goes into her house. Scully looks through the window and sees other people gathered inside, but they all ignore her.

With no other options, Scully agrees to spend the night at Milsap’s. After dark, a bunch of people gather outside the house with lanterns. When Milsap knocks on her bedroom door in the morning, Scully grabs her gun. Milsap tells her there’s a man downstairs in need of medical attention. It’s the confused man, and he’s having a seizure. Scully asks who he is, but Milsap just says he’s a stranger who needed help. Scully thinks he has epilepsy and hasn’t taken his medication. Then she sees that his back is soaked with blood.

Scully doesn’t seem surprised when she asks Milsap and the bus driver what happened and they don’t answer. She says the confused man needs to go to the hospital, which will be tough to arrange, what with the lack of phone service and the fact that no one in town has a car. Milsap suggests sending someone to the state road on foot. Scully asks for corn syrup.

Back in D.C., Doggett calls the Juab County Sheriff’s Department to ask for a fax number so he can send info to Scully. The sheriff who answers the phone, Ciolino, asks when Scully’s supposed to arrive. She was supposed to come yesterday. Doggett realizes that something weird is going on and asks Ciolino to send someone to pick up Scully. Then he calls someone to trace the call Scully made to him, so he can get her location.

Scully tries in vain to find a working electrical outlet in Milsap’s house, so she can charge her phone. She tells the driver that the corn syrup was a long shot; she thought raising the patient’s blood sugar might help, but it would only be useful if his seizures were caused by hypoglycemia. What she really needs are anti-seizure drugs.

The confused man wakes up, and the relieved driver goes off to tell everyone he’s okay. The man has no memory of coming to the town, and doesn’t even remember his own name. All he knows is that the townspeople are taking good care of him. Scully says they appear to dote on him, and even stranded her in town to help him. She tells him about the recent murder, which she thinks was perpetrated by at least a dozen people. She suspects it was the work of a cult – one populated by the townspeople.

Scully wants to get the patient out of town right away, and as she’s helping him turn over to get out of bed, she gets a better look at the wound in his back. It’s a big hole, and there’s something crawling around in it. I probably don’t need to say that it’s gross. The man passes out again, which is good, because Scully then jams a knife in his back to pull out the crawly thing. She only gets a piece of it.

Ciolino checks out the number Doggett traced and calls to tell him it was a pay phone. He can send people out to look around, but he knows it’s in a desolate area. Doggett decides it’s time to go to Utah and get backup from the FBI’s Salt Lake City office. He adds that he’s learned of a missing-persons report on a man named Hank, who disappeared while on his way to visit his sister. And finally, our confused man has a name, because the missing-persons report is about him.

Hank wakes up again, and Milsap and the drive thank God that he’s still alive. Hank insists that he just needs rest, and Scully can take care of him by herself. Once Milsap and the driver are out of the room, Scully tells Hank that it looks like a parasitic organism has moved into his spine. It’s not something she’s familiar with, and she doesn’t know how to extract it without hurting him. If Hank doesn’t get proper treatment, he’ll die. Further, Scully thinks the townspeople put the parasite inside him.

Hank is understandably overwhelmed with the news that these supposedly kind people killed someone and are trying to kill him as well. Scully doesn’t see an option other than leaving Hank behind while she sneaks out the window to go find help. At least she leaves him her gun. When Milsap and the driver return to the room, Hank tells them that Scully said he’s dying: “We need another swap.”

Doggett arrives in Utah and tells Ciolino that the recent murder victim (AKA not-Hank) is just one of many killed in southwestern deserts over the years. The victims all had the same wound, and glycoproteins were found at all the murder scenes. Scully makes it to a barn, where she encounters Hank, who’s now using crutches to walk. She realizes he was working with the other townspeople. They grab her, ignoring her when she yells that she’s a federal agent. Hank tells her that she’s about to become a part of something a lot greater than her. She’s going to be very loved. The other townspeople chorus, “Amen.”

The driver kills Hank with a rock, to more Amens. She digs a hand into Hank’s back and pulls out the parasite, a giant slug. As she slowly approaches Scully to introduce the parasite to its new host, Scully yells that she’s pregnant. The driver doesn’t care. Scully ends up in Hank’s former bed, angrily protesting having to share her body with a giant slimy thing. Milsap tells her that Hank “wasn’t a suitable tabernacle,” and they’re hoping that “he” will want to stay in Scully forever.

Scully sees headlights outside as Doggett arrives. Milsap and the driver go out to greet him but, of course, play dumb. Scully manages to kick over an oil lamp and start a fire in the bedroom. This doesn’t help, though, as Doggett doesn’t see the flames outside. However, he’s gotten a weird vibe from the townspeople, so after he pretends to drive off, he calls Ciolino for backup. He finally finds Scully and frees her.

Since Doggett’s car is a half mile away, Scully comes up with a better idea: take the bus. And by “take,” I don’t mean ride, I mean hotwire. While Doggett’s working on that, Scully tells him he needs to get the slug out of her ASAP. She’s afraid it’ll go to her brain. As the townspeople swarm the bus, Doggett pries out the slug. It’s huge and super-gross. Doggett shoots it, and the townspeople all fall silent. They allow the agents to leave the bus as backup finally arrives.

A week later, Scully’s being released from BYU’s medical center. Doggett tells her that a grand jury is convening today to determine punishment for the 47 cult members, who are all sticking together and claiming religious persecution. Scully says they believe they worship Jesus, and the slug was the Second Coming. She apologizes for leaving Doggett out of the case and promises not to do it again. And then…wait, that’s it? Oh, okay.

Thoughts: I know when I go out in the desert, I also like to wear two shirts and a jacket. Come on, Scully.

I never thought I would miss Mulder’s stupid jokes and sides, but I do. Doggett just…doesn’t have a personality.

The lesson here is that you always fill your gas tank before you drive into the desert. And also Doggett is better at trusting his instincts than Scully is.

July 21, 2018

The X-Files 8.3, Patience: Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Bat-Thing!

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

Myron isn’t very good at protecting himself, is he?

Summary: It’s the middle of the night in Burley, Idaho, but at least one person is up and about. A man named George comes home, accidentally waking his wife. She complains that he smells of embalming fluid (don’t worry, he’s a mortician) and sends him to change clothes before he joins her in bed. As George gets ready, he sees a huge creature watching him. It attacks with a screech. George’s wife goes to see what’s happening and finds the creature eating her husband.

In D.C., Mulder’s desk is still the way he left it, but it’s time for it to get a new owner. Doggett has studied up on the X-Files and is ready to start working with Scully. His first question is where she works. Answering a years-old question, Scully explains that this is Mulder’s office, so presumably she has her own and we’ve just never seen it. She tells Doggett that George and his wife were both killed by something that bit them – something that appears to be human. The police in Burley have no leads on suspects or motives.

Scully and Doggett go to Burley, where a detective named Abbott welcomes their help. The police are no longer sure that the bites came from a human. They found a four-toed footprint, which they assume came from an animal. Scully notes that a human could have only four toes, too, so they can’t just discount evidence. Doggett adds that an animal could have come by and checked out the bodies while having nothing to do with their deaths. Scully points out that an animal would have left multiple prints, not just the one.

As Doggett leaves to look around the house, Scully spots scratch marks on a beam on the roof of the porch. Abbott tells Scully that the FBI’s help is no longer welcome, since all the agents have done is said they’re looking for a man. Scully tells him that the killer will probably strike again, so telling Abbott’s superiors that it’s human isn’t going to appease anyone. She adds that she never said it was a man.

Doggett finds a second four-toed print on a staircase and suggests that the killer came into the house. He finds another print by the dead couple’s bed. He thinks the killer is human, based on Occam’s razor. Scully would like to know how that explains a killer who only leaves one footprint ever 25 feet. And why did he (or it) come into the bedroom in the first place? At least they discover how the killer most likely left the bedroom: through a hole in the closet ceiling that leads to the attic.

The agents head up there, and though they don’t immediately see anything strange, they figure the killer could have escaped through an attic window. Doggett takes out a flashlight, appearing to think that Scully’s never used one to search a dark place. He finds two fingers, which the killer bit off of George. Scully determines that they were regurgitated. She finds more scratch marks and tells Doggett she saw some on the porch. He says they almost look like something was hanging there. Elsewhere in town, a woman named Mrs. McKesson is in her own attic, looking at a photo album. The killer watches her, then attacks her.

Scully finishes George and his wife’s autopsies and tells Doggett that it’s looking more and more like they were killed by an animal. The bites she thought were human contain enzymes that are only found in bat saliva. She thinks she needs to apologize to Abbott. Doggett disagrees – he found a news story about similar killings in Montana in 1956. The headline: “Hunters Kill Human Bat!” Maybe, 44 years later, the creature is somehow back.

The agents are called to Mrs. McKesson’s house, where they find scratches like the ones at the other crime scene. Abbott thinks they’re claw marks, and the killer isn’t human. As Doggett starts to show him the news article, Scully finds the album Mrs. McKesson was looking at. She’s learned that Mrs. McKesson’s daughter, Ariel, was pulled from a river last week…44 years after her disappearance. Scully thinks Ariel’s death and these recent killings are connected.

Abbott scoffs at this idea, saying Scully’s going down a crazy rabbit hole. She suggests that he exhume Ariel’s body, but he’s more concerned with the people in the town who are still living and could be in danger. Doggett pulls Abbott aside and says something that Scully can’t hear. He tells Scully he repeated her instructions to exhume the body, then told Abbott that she’s an expert in paranormal phenomena, so they should listen to her.

Scully denies that, saying she’s just a doctor make a leap. Why would Doggett tell Abbott to exhume the body if he doesn’t believe her theories? (As if Scully hasn’t spent seven years doing crazy stuff she didn’t understand, just because Mulder asked her to.) Doggett says that, after spending the weekend reading up on X-Files, he’s seen how many paranormal cases have been broken by taking a leap. He doesn’t want to take any leaps himself, since that could get people killed. Scully notes that he took a pretty big leap by believing the article. Okay, are we done with the word “leap” now?

A man takes a couple of bats (the regular kind) from an abandoned shed and brings them into a house with a bat on the door. Abbott goes to a cemetery to receive Ariel’s exhumed body, and a gravedigger tells him that someone had already done most of the work digging it up. There are scratch marks on the lid of the coffin. (On the outside. It’s not like Ariel was trying to dig her way out from inside.) Abbott stays behind to check out what he soon learns is the killer. Of course, it attacks him, so now Scully has another body to autopsy.

Abbott’s deputies pull Doggett aside to tell him they don’t want Scully examining their boss’ body. The agents’ crazy theories aren’t welcome in Burley. Scully hears part of the conversation, and Doggett tells her they should respect the deputies’ wishes. But Scully has already examined Ariel and determined that she died of heart failure, then burned to cover something up.

Doggett thinks they should go looking for the killer instead of examining dead bodies. Scully says the killer attacks with purpose, stalking victims who had contact with Ariel – her mother, the detective who gave her the news that Ariel was found, and George, the mortician who prepared her body for burial. That means a man named Myron Stefaniuk, the man who found Ariel’s body in the river, is probably the next victim. Doggett recognizes the name: a man named Ernie Stefaniuk was one of the hunters who found the killer in 1956.

The agents track Myron down at the river and warn him that he might be in danger because he found Ariel’s body. Myron thinks they’re nuts and tells them to leave him alone. Doggett blurts out Ernie’s name, which makes Myron stop in his tracks. Ernie was his brother, and Myron says the bat-thing killed him. He doesn’t want to revisit the past, and he tells the agents again to leave him alone.

The agents go on an impromptu stakeout, keeping an eye on Myron without him knowing. After nine hours, Scully wonders if they’re just wasting their time on a big coincidence. Maybe she’s working too hard to come up with a theory. Doggett asks if she’s trying to be Mulder. He knows he’s nothing like Mulder, but he does think Scully’s on to something. At the very least, Myron’s keeping a secret.

Myron loads supplies in his car in a barn where the bat-thing happens to be taking a nap. Myron goes back to the river and takes his supplies on a boat to a place called Bird Island. The agents make themselves known, and though Myron is able to flee, they catch the man he’s brought the supplies to. It’s the man who took the bats from the shed, and as Doggett correctly guesses, he’s Ernie.

Ernie takes the agents to his house on the island and tells them he hasn’t left in 44 years because of his fear of the bat-thing. He knows that bats are close to apes on the evolutionary ladder; since humans are also close to apes, it’s not too much of a stretch to think a bat evolved into a person. Ernie cut off all contact with people on the mainland, except for his brother and his wife. Doggett realizes that his wife was Ariel. Ernie says that Ariel’s only demand, after agreeing to spend her life in hiding, was to be buried in consecrated earth.

Scully tells Ernie that the bat-killer has killed four people, and all four would have had traces of Ernie’s scent on them, thanks to his contact with Ariel’s body. They assure him that Myron’s fine, but Ernie points out that just because he was okay during the day doesn’t mean he’s still okay now that it’s night. After all, bats are nocturnal. Doggett leaves to check on Myron, but the bat-thing is waiting and attacks him. They fight in the water for a little while, but the bat-thing soon takes off.

Back in Ernie’s house, Scully explains that they only found him because she and Doggett thought they were dealing with some paranormal. She credits Doggett with putting everything together. Ernie says she should wish he hadn’t – now they’re marked. Scully promises that she can protect Ernie, since the bat-thing is flesh and blood, and can be killed. Ernie notes that it’s been waiting for 44 years. Is Scully willing to sacrifice having a family and children to spend her life in hiding?

An alarm goes off, telling Ernie that his radar has picked up something moving around on the island. It’s now in the attic, so Scully starts shooting through the ceiling. She goes up to look around while Ernie loads up his own gun. (That’s what I want around when I’m pregnant – a paranoid old man with a shotgun.) The bat-thing finds Ernie and attacks, but Scully hears and comes running. The bat-thing flies off before Scully can shoot it. Doggett joins the fun, and the bat-thing returns to try to kill him again. Both agents get off a bunch of shots, but the bat-thing is able to make its escape, still screeching somewhere in the sky.

Two weeks later, Doggett gets a fax from Myron, who’s now gone into hiding himself. Scully asks if Doggett believes that the bat-thing is still out there and will come after them again some day. Doggett doesn’t – he’s pretty sure they killed it. He still has some questions about the case, though. “Get used to it,” Scully tells him. She says she never had a desk in Mulder’s office, but she’ll make sure Doggett gets one. She appreciates that he had her back on the island. Doggett said he didn’t see it as a choice, and he’s sure Scully doesn’t either. She takes Mulder’s nameplate off his desk and puts it in a drawer.

Thoughts: The gravedigger who talks to Abbott at the cemetery is played by Brent Sexton. He’s also in “Medusa” later in the season.

I know I used the “Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na” title for “The Host,” but it really works much better here.

Doggett, to a fellow FBI agent, re: a flashlight: “You ever carry one of these?” Please, please explain to Scully the importance of light, and how a flashlight works. I want to hear that conversation.

The bat-thing’s attack on Abbott looks really cheesy. Like, it’s very obvious that that’s a guy in a bat suit.

An episode about a bat-human hybrid and not one Batman joke. For shame.

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