October 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

August 18, 2018

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

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

A trend that just never caught on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 30, 2018

The X-Files 7.22, Requiem: Take Me Back to the Start

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

Like I was going to use any other picture here

Summary: There’s a fire burning in Bellefleur, Oregon, the aftermath of a plane crash. Detective Miles is on his way to the scene when his radio and clock start going crazy. His car stops on its own and he’s hit by one of his deputies, Ray Hoese. While Miles’ watch spins, he checks on Ray, who’s not in good shape. There’s alien acid on the ground. Suddenly Ray appears behind Miles, but most fans of the show know that, because of the alien acid, this is probably the Bounty Hunter.

Some number-crunchers total up all the money Mulder’s spent in expenses (rental cars, motel rooms, etc.) on his cases. He suggests that he and Scully share a motel room to save money. One of the number-cruncher thinks chasing aliens is a waste of time and resources, especially since Mulder hasn’t come to any conclusions. And since Samantha has been declared dead, there’s nothing left to investigate. Somewhere else on the planet, Marita goes to a prison to inform Krycek that he’s being released, though she wishes he weren’t.

The number-cruncher addresses Scully’s expense reports with the same criticisms he had for Mulder. Should the government really be footing the bill for the agents to investigate a conspiracy involving aliens enslaving humans? Scully won’t say for certain whether she does or doesn’t believe in aliens, but she admits that she’s seen things she can’t deny. Krycek takes a shower as Marita looks on, because…well, do you blame her? She tells him CSM sent her to get him, and that CSM is dying.

The number-cruncher tells Mulder this evaluation is about money, not the weirdness of his cases. Thanks to the Internet, the agents should be able to do their research from their offices, not on the road. It’s been seven years; the agents should be able to narrow down where the aliens are. It’s about reducing their vision.

In Bellefleur, two teen boys ask Miles about the plane crash. Miles tells them it was a Navy fighter, and definitely not anything extraterrestrial or supernatural. The fire’s out, and there’s nothing to see. The boys are skeptical. Back in D.C., Mulder tells Scully that he and the number-cruncher got into a tussle. He gets a call from Billy Miles, who tells the agents that the disappearances he experienced seven years ago are happening again – but not to him this time. Scully agrees to take a trip to Oregon – the site of her and Mulder’s first X-File together – and waste some more of the FBI’s money.

Marita takes Krycek to D.C., where CSM is holed up at the Watergate. Krycek is angry that CSM had him thrown in prison, but CSM is no less angry that Krycek tried to sell something that was CSM’s. He wants a truce, since they “have a singular opportunity now.” The crash in Oregon was between a military plane and an alien ship, just like Roswell. Now they can rebuild their project. CSM smokes through a hole in his neck, which I really didn’t need to see. Marita asks how he knows that someone hasn’t already covered what CSM wants from the wreckage.

The two teens, Gary and Richie, search the crash site (somehow they got hold of a radiation detector), and Gary has a shaking experience like he’s in the cave in “Rush”. Richie’s flashlight catches fire and he runs away. The next morning, the agents meet up with Billy, who’s now a deputy, thanks to his father’s help. He’s gotten past his abductions, but others haven’t, and Miles denies that they ever happened. He’s sticking to the story about a Navy plane crash. Ray is missing, and Miles hasn’t helped with the search. Mulder thinks Miles will have to admit the truth when they find a UFO.

Miles arrives, confused as to why the agents are in Oregon, since the FAA is now saying there was no crash in the woods. He takes the agents out to the site, and Mulder sees the X he painted on the road seven years ago. Scully finds three bullet shells that seem to be from Ray’s gun. Mulder says he must have shot at nothing, since there’s nothing to find. Scully quietly asks Billy if Ray was a good deputy. Billy says he was; he’s married and just became a father. After the agents leave the site, Miles tosses the shells in his trunk…which already holds Ray’s body.

Mulder and Scully go to Ray’s house and learn that his wife is Theresa Nemman. She tells them that Ray is also an abductee, though he hasn’t told many people. She has medical records showing that he underwent a lot of tests when he was abducted. While she goes to get them, Scully plays with the baby. Mulder enjoys the sight, even knowing that, thanks to the aliens’ tests, Scully will never get to play with a baby of her own.

That night, Scully comes to Mulder’s motel room (“it’s me”), feeling sick. He tucks her into his bed and spoons her, allegedly to warm her up. He thinks she should go home, since this case will just keep reminding her of her own abduction experiences, and the fact that they’ve left her unable to have a baby. Mulder continues that the number-cruncher might have been right about the costs of their jobs. The personal costs might not make it worth it. They should have lives that focus on something other than chasing monsters. Scully stays put, though, so I’m not sure she agrees.

Krycek is in Oregon and hasn’t turned up any evidence of a UFO. He tells CSM that Mulder and Scully are there looking for Ray, and will probably find the ship before Krycek does. CSM thinks if Krycek finds Ray, he’ll find the UFO. Theresa wakes to a knock at her door and thinks her husband has come home. She guesses that he went missing because he was abducted again. She quickly realizes that Ray isn’t really Ray, but she’s ready with an alien ice pick. Unfortunately, the alien acid burns her eyes, and the Bounty Hunter is able to overpower her.

The next morning, the agents come to the Hoeses’ house, where Billy tells them he’s sure Theresa was abducted. They see a burn mark in the carpet, something they’ve both seen before – the remnants of the alien acid. Scully gets dizzy but wants to keep working. In D.C., CSM dismisses his aide, Greta, and tells Marita that he’s sure Krycek will find the UFO. It’s rebuilding itself after the crash, so time is running out.

CSM can’t give Krycek any help, since Krycek will want to sell the information he finds. That information is “the answer to all things – every possible imaginable question.” Not God, as Marita guesses; God is just alien intelligence that humans can’t understand. Marita asks if the aliens are coming. CSM says they’re coming back.

Mulder spots Richie in the crowd gathered outside the Hoeses’ house and thinks he knows something. Richie tells the agents and Billy that Gary was taken, and he knows Miles knows what’s going on. He takes the agents to the woods, where Scully has the same shaking experience Gary did. The guys don’t see, since they’re somewhere else, finding Richie’s flashlight. When Mulder makes to to where Scully’s been knocked to the ground, he tells her they need to warn Billy that these abductions are different from the ones seven years ago. These victims aren’t coming back.

Billy goes looking for his father at home, believing he’s the Bounty Hunter (in which case your gun wouldn’t do you any good, Billy). If Miles is really Miles, he should believe Billy about his abductions. Miles says he believes him; he just wants it all to go away. He calms Billy and takes his gun…then morphs into the Bounty Hunter. Mulder and Scully arrive moments later and find the house empty.

Two days later, the agents are back in D.C., and Mulder’s ready to hear their punishment for going to Oregon. Skinner’s in the clear, but he can’t do much for Mulder. He lets Marita and Krycek into the office, holding Mulder back when he tries to attack Krycek. Marita announces that CSM is dying and wants them to revive the conspiracy. They know there’s a UFO in Oregon; it’s just cloaked. The Bounty Hunter is getting rid of anyone who underwent testing so he can cover everything up. Krycek wants to give Mulder the chance to find proof (and, in the process, damn CSM’s soul).

Scully arrives just then, so Mulder has to bring her into the fold. He calls in the Lone Gunmen to confirm that there’s a cloaked UFO in the woods. Marita and Krycek repeat CSM’s warning that it’s rebuilding itself, so time is running out. Mulder tells Scully he’s not letting her go back to Oregon with him: “It has to end sometime. That sometime is now.” Since previous abductees are being taken, Scully’s at risk, and Mulder doesn’t want to lose her. She hugs him and tells him she won’t let him go alone.

So Mulder goes back to Oregon with Skinner at his side, while Scully looks at Billy’s medical records in D.C. She tells the Lone Gunmen that all the abductees have experienced strange brain activity, just like what Mulder experienced earlier in the year. She remembers being knocked down in the woods and thinks the abducting force was rejecting her. Mulder’s the one who’s really in danger. Suddenly she collapses.

In the woods, Mulder and Skinner set up some laser beams in an attempt to unclock the cloaked UFO. Mulder sticks his hand in the space where the beams stop and experiences the shaking. Skinner goes looking for him, but the field has now cloaked Mulder as well. He sees all the abductees standing together and goes to join them. They’re under the UFO, as if they’re waiting for it to beam them on board. The Bounty Hunter arrives, and he and Mulder stare each other down.

The UFO sheds its cloaking, and Skinner is able to see it fly away. He guesses that Mulder’s on board. In D.C., Krycek and Marita go back to CSM, who guesses that they failed. He knows his time is up. Krycek is ready to send the Devil back to Hell, ignoring CSM’s warning that he’ll be dooming all of mankind. Krycek ignores him and pushes him down a flight of stairs.

Scully’s in the hospital, undergoing tests (presumably not the kind the aliens performed on her), when Skinner gets back to D.C. He’s upset that he lost Mulder. Like Scully, Skinner can’t deny what he saw. Scully’s determined to find Mulder – she has to. As Skinner’s about to leave, Scully says she needs to tell him something, and he’ll have to keep it quiet. She can’t believe it or explain it, but she’s pregnant.

Thoughts: If I were Gillian Anderson, I would have been really ticked that David Duchovny made the show move production to California, then bailed.

Even without being Gillian Anderson, I’m ticked that they didn’t bring Krycek back for any of the revival episodes. I mean, they brought back Jeffrey Spender, and no one likes him.

Speaking of Krycek…stairs? That was your big murder plan? How dumb.

Season 7 is a wrap! Get ready for John Doggett!

May 12, 2018

The X-Files 7.15, En Ami: The Worst Road Trip Since “Drive”

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:16 pm by Jenn

Same

Summary: In Goochland, Virginia, a couple is driving home with their son, Jason, reminding him that people’s words can’t hurt him. He’s still not prepared when they’re accosted by protesters carrying signs talking about the family’s faith. They have to be escorted into their house by a police officer.

Jason’s father, Cameron, tells him that the protesters think they should take him to the hospital to have his cancer treated. But his parents believe that since God gave him cancer, God is the one who has to heal him. That night, Jason wakes up to a huge storm outside his window. A bright light appears, and he stands in front of his window with his arms open. A group of men in suits approach the house.

Scully is leaving for work when she finds a copy of the Goochland Guardian outside her door. There’s a note attached with a verse from Psalms: “You are the God who performs miracles. You display your power among the peoples.” The front-page article is about a miracle. Scully takes the paper with her to the office, where Mulder tells her that Jason McPeck woke up completely cured of cancer. The McPecks’ religion forbids medical treatment, and they believe their son was cured by angels.

Scully knows that spontaneous remission has happened before, so this isn’t really a miracle. But Mulder thinks something else is going on, since he got word of Jason’s recovery from an anonymous email from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He thinks that plus the paper at Scully’s door means this is an X-File someone wants them to investigate. Even if it’s not, Mulder’s curious to get answers.

So Scully goes to the McPecks’ and sees for herself that Jason is back to his normal self. He tells her that the angels came from the sky in a ball of light and looked like human men. Like the angels in the Bible, they told him not to be afraid. Unlike the angels in the Bible, they pinched the back of his neck – the same place Scully had her chip removed years ago.

When she goes back to her car, she finds an unwelcome guest: CSM. He tells her he’s doing God’s work and claims he saved Jason. Scully kicks him out of the car but finds it hard to ignore him when he asks if she’s not curious about his claims, since she’s a doctor. He’s the one who sent her the newspaper and sent Mulder the email. CSM announces that he’s dying and wants to make things right. He has a cure for cancer and wants to give it to Scully.

Scully won’t take the bait, and CSM tells her she’s the only person he’ll give it to. If Mulder hears anything about his claims, CSM will take the secret to his grave. Scully sees that he’s left something on the seat, but she drives off without looking at it. She heads back to her office and studies the card CSM left her, blank except for a phone number. She dials the number, hangs up, then has the number traced so she can get the address associated with it.

This leads her to an office building where security guards give her a visitor’s pass and send her to the third floor. She ends up in CSM’s office, where he tells her that he’s looking back on his life and has realized he has no legacy to leave behind. He’s dying of some complication from the procedure he underwent back at the beginning of the season. Scully thinks he wants to use her to make himself look respectable.

CSM says they’re wasting time with the past while millions are dying of cancer. Scully’s game to go along with his plan, but it’ll involve a road trip. CSM is taking a huge chance by offering her access to this huge secret. He’s destroyed a lot of people, including those closest to him. Now he wants to do something good before he dies.

Mulder gets a message from Scully (“Mulder, it’s me”) telling him she’s going out of town for a family emergency. He leaves her a message in return (“Scully, it’s me”) saying he hopes everything’s okay. She’s getting ready to go off on her road trip, and has stuck a microphone in her bra so she can record whatever CSM says to her.

Scully drives, and objects when CSM tries to light up in the car. He throws out his cigarette and says he’ll just quit. He wants to earn her trust, knowing that she thinks he’s heartless. He admits that he’s always felt affection toward her, and his intentions are honorable. After all, he could have let her die when she had cancer, but he saved her. Now, CSM wants to give Scully the same power to save lives.

In the morning, Mulder goes to Scully’s apartment building to find out if she left under suspicious circumstances. The landlord tells him that she went with a driver he’s seen before – a driver with a fondness for smoking. Scully has been driving all right, but CSM hasn’t told her where they’re going. He notes that she still doesn’t trust him. How long did it take her to trust Mulder? CSM knows they didn’t immediately click. He psychoanalyzes that Scully is drawn to powerful men but fears their power. She’s devoted to Mulder, to the point where she would die for him, but she won’t let herself love him.

The two are finally at their destination, where CSM plans to show Scully that he’s capable of more than destruction. They’re being followed by someone. Scully and CSM are at a house to see a woman named Marjorie who can back up CSM’s claims. He tells Scully that the woman, who looks to be in her 70s, is actually 118. Scully sees a scar on the back of her neck. CSM thinks that being able to save lives and see people’s joy after their recovery is why Scully became a doctor.

Mulder has checked with Maggie, who doesn’t know anything about a family emergency, and is now in Skinner’s office to get help finding out why Scully disappeared. Skinner thinks she left willingly, so they shouldn’t worry about her. Scully calls just then to tell both men that everything’s fine. Mulder doesn’t believe her.

Scully and CSM stop at a gas station, and Scully goes to use the bathroom while CSM fills up the car. She leaves a message for Mulder through her hidden microphone, telling him she weighed the risks before agreeing to the road trip. She gives her location and puts the tape in an envelope to mail to Mulder, planning to send more along the way. When Scully leaves the bathroom, CSM’s ready to drive. He offers her a Lifesaver, which I guess is his version of a joke. A man back at the gas station steals Scully’s tape from the mailbox.

Scully and CSM reach their next destination in the middle of the night. Scully’s asleep, and CSM puts on gloves to do who knows what. The Lone Gunmen are also awake in the middle of the night, having spent some time looking into Scully’s disappearance. They show up at Mulder’s apartment in disguise and tell him they found a series of communications between Scully and someone named Cobra. They think she’s gone to great lengths to keep her location hidden. Mulder says she knows he’ll find her no matter what.

Scully wakes up in a fishing cabin, wearing pajamas she definitely wasn’t wearing in the car. She accuses CSM of drugging her, which he denies. She was tired, and he wanted to make her comfortable. They’re in Milford, Pennsylvania, but Scully thinks this is outside of their deal, so she’s done with the trip. CSM tells her she’s free to go, but Scully knows she won’t get any answers if she leaves, so she decides to stick around. They’re still being watched.

Mulder takes the Lone Gunmen to Skinner’s office to tell his boss that Scully’s been communicating with someone who works on a Department of Defense shadow project. Except the Scully sending the emails to Cobra is an impostor, someone who hacked her email and intercepted the messages from Cobra. They’re supposed to meet so Cobra can hand over information on his project. But the Gunmen can’t figure out where the meeting is supposed to take place. Mulder thinks CSM is the impostor, and they need to stop him before something horrible happens to Scully.

In Milford, CSM tells Scully that his contact has invited them to dinner. He’s bought her a dress, and it’s low-cut, so I don’t think Scully will be able to wear her microphone. At dinner, CSM tells her that his contact “is to human genetic science what Oppenheimer and Fermi were to the advent of nuclear warfare.” Cobra wants assurances from Scully that his research will be used by the good guys. The two toast to the future.

CSM has another revelation for Scully: The cancer cure isn’t just for cancer – it can cure all human disease. It’s mostly extraterrestrial. Scully knows that this cure can make CSM well. He tells her that the power in something like this can be used for both good and evil. People will be able to choose who lives and who dies. CSM doesn’t seem sure that he actually wants to be cured. Maybe dying is the last good thing he can do.

As a man watches Scully from a nearby table, CSM goes outside for a cigarette and tells another man that Cobra hasn’t shown up. The man warns that Scully won’t wait forever. CSM tells him to just do his job. As a waiter clears her plate, Scully notices a note giving her a location, Calico Cove. She and CSM head to a dock on a lake, and she heads off by herself in a boat.

The man who was watching Scully at the restaurant comes to meet her; he’s clearly Cobra, and he thinks Scully is the person he’s been communicating with. Someone watches through a sniper scope as Cobra hands over his work on a CD. Scully asks where the science came from, revealing that they’ve never spoken before. Before Cobra can respond, someone starts shooting. Cobra’s dead, and Scully’s next in the shooter’s sights. But before the sniper – the man CSM spoke to outside the restaurant – can kill Scully, CSM takes him out.

Scully returns to the cabin, where CSM pretends he’s been waiting for her the whole time. She blasts him for claiming that no one else knew what was going on. He tells her to keep Cobra’s research. She takes it home with her and gives it to the Lone Gunmen, but the CD is blank. All of Scully’s work was for nothing.

Scully takes Mulder to CSM’s office building, but it’s empty. Mulder says that CSM used her, and told her things that would make her believe him, like about Marjorie’s age (he showed Scully her birth certificate). Scully thinks Jason’s recovery is undeniable proof that there’s a cure for cancer. But Mulder knows that sooner or later, the chip in his neck will disappear, and they still won’t have any proof. CSM conned Scully, and Mulder’s surprised that he left her alive.

Scully insists that CSM was sincere, but Mulder disagrees. As he voices over that CSM did everything to get the cure for himself, even if it means sacrificing the rest of the human race, CSM enjoys a glass of wine, the CD by his side. Scully thinks CSM’s longing for something more than power was genuine. At the cabin, CSM tosses the CD in the lake and lights up a cigarette.

Thoughts: This episode was written by William B. Davis (CSM), probably just as an excuse for him to work with Gillian Anderson.

Goochland is a real place, and I bet everyone who lives there hates that name.

In season 11, CSM claims that in this episode, he drugs Scully so he can impregnate her. But as of the end of season 11, that wasn’t verified, and I choose to remain in denial. I’ll buy that he gave her the ability to conceive, which leads to William, but I’m in denial that CSM is his father.

April 28, 2018

The X-Files 7.13, First Person Shooter: Ready Player One

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

Just…whatever

Summary: Three guys are gearing up for some sort of battle that looks like it’s taking place in a science fiction movie. They’re actually playing a game, being observed by a couple of techs. It’s like a virtual-reality simulation, but without the virtual-reality gear. Their opposition arrives on motorcycles, and the three guys are greatly outnumbered but still able to defeat them, thanks to their weapons. The techs are impressed.

The guys get to move to phase two of the game, which involves shooting at people who also have guns. There is…a lot of shooting. It goes on for a while. One of the three guys, Lo-Fat, takes a hit and “bleeds” yellow blood. The other two guys, Moxie and Retro, continue the battle on their own. They get separated, and Retro encounters a scantily clad woman who introduces herself as Maitreya. She tells him it’s her game, then shoots him.

Mulder and Scully go to the corporate offices of FPS in Inland Empire, California, to investigate. They have their badges and their retinas scanned, then have to sign nondisclosure agreements. Mulder explains that FPS stands for First Person Shooter; they make “digital entertainment,” or what most people would call video games. The Lone Gunmen are there, thrilled to be part of the “new American Gold Rush.” They tell the agents that there was an accident.

The Gunmen are consultants, and Langly even worked on a game, creating some of the villains. The game goes out in a few days, and the IPO is coming shortly after. But now someone’s dead, so the Gunmen would like the agents to figure out what happened before word gets out and the game gets bad publicity.

One of the techs, Ivan, tells the agents that there’s no way Maitreya could have actually killed Retro. The guns used in the simulation feed off a mainframe, and though the effects feel real, they’re not. Scully sees gunshot wounds and blood on Retro’s body, despite Ivan’s insistence that the vest he was wearing should have only “bled” paint. All the villains in the game are fake; nothing could have hurt Retro. The other tech, Phoebe, confirms that everything in the game is digital and virtual.

No one saw what happened, and the techs’ monitoring of Retro was all normal, so no one knows what really happened. Scully says Retro was murdered, so they need to call the police. Mulder asks Phoebe exactly what she saw from her control booth. She shows him recordings confirming that Retro was fine until he suddenly wasn’t. There’s no way to know what happened. Phoebe does something computery to look at the wireframe, though Retro was in an unmapped part of the building. The wireframe shows Maitreya standing over Retro’s body.

Phoebe does more computery stuff and is able to show what Maitreya looked like when Retro saw her. As Maitreya leaves the scene of her crime, she looks straight at the camera Phoebe’s watching her through. A detective named Lacoer has arrived, but he’s disappointed that there’s no suspect or motive for Retro’s murder. He also scoffs at the picture of Maitreya, who looks like…well, like a video game character, not someone he can actually go looking for in the real world. Mulder announces that no one programmed her into the game. Scully says that it doesn’t matter – Maitreya is just some “immature, hormonal fantasy.”

A man named Darryl Musashi comes in, surprising the Gunmen. They tell the agents that he’s a game designer who also does some work for the CIA. They think Ivan called him in to beat Maitreya in the game. Scully complains that the men are all acting like teenagers. Mulder seems to have fallen into that behavior as well.

Mulder, Ivan, Phoebe, and the Gunmen watch as Darryl enters the game. He waits fearlessly for the motorcycle guys and quickly wins phase one. He then skips phase two and goes straight to the place where Retro met Maitreya. She arrives in samurai gear and cuts off his hands as the audience watches on a screen, unable to do anything. Maitreya says something in Japanese before finishing Darryl off.

Scully autopsies Retro but doesn’t get any answers – whatever killed him didn’t leave any evidence behind. Mulder arrives and she tells him that the suits players wear monitor their vital signs. When they’re shot, they get jolted with electricity to keep them from rejoining the game. Scully thought Retro’s suit might have malfunctioned, but she was wrong. She wonders what kind of person likes dressing up to play what’s basically “high-tech cowboys and Indians.” Of course, Mulder is exactly that kind of person.

Scully continues that the game just makes the country even more violent than it already is. There’s no redeeming value in the game in causing mayhem and cranking up your testosterone. Mulder says that’s a sexist view and argues that the game could be an outlet for certain impulses. Scully just doesn’t get why men like to blast stuff. Mulder reminds her that their suspect is a woman, albeit a digital woman. She reminds him that digital images can’t kill people.

Mulder finally gets around to telling her that they have a second victim, so she’ll need to perform another autopsy. His head his no longer attached to his body, so I’m guessing his cause of death is pretty apparent. Mulder gets a call from the sheriff’s department telling him that a woman has been picked up to be questioned about the murders.

The woman was picked up at a strip club, so the male officers at the station are having a great night. Scully is not. The woman, Jade Blue Afterglow (she claims that’s her real name), says she knows nothing about FPS but doesn’t seem too worried that she’s a murder suspect. Mostly, she thinks the situation is ridiculous. When Mulder shows her a picture of Maitreya, she explains that she underwent a body scan at a medical-imaging place; they must have given her image to FPS to use for their game. Mulder lets her leave, then tells Scully he feels the need to blast something.

The agents return to FPS and find Phoebe napping in the tech office. Scully tells her that it looks like Ivan scanned Jade and put her in the game. The Gunmen are getting ready to go into the game and troubleshoot some things. But the game starts up by itself, and Phoebe can’t make it stop. Only the background was supposed to run, not the real gameplay, yet the Gunmen are being shot at. Mulder gets suited up and goes into the game after them.

Byers has already been shot, but isn’t seriously hurt. Mulder provides cover fire while the Gunmen head for a module. Mulder sees Maitreya and goes after her, annoying Scully. Maitreya greets him with a sword, dressed as…I don’t know, sexy Joan of Arc? She vanishes right before his eyes, then reappears behind them. The Gunmen hear gunfire and run after Mulder, but accidentally exit the game. Mulder’s now in it by himself.

Scully joins the Gunmen and demands to know where Mulder is. They can’t explain it – he should be with them. Phoebe can determine that Mulder’s still alive, since she can still monitor his vitals, but they don’t know exactly where he is…or where the game is. Wherever it is, Maitreya has now left Mulder in it alone. Mulder wanders around a little until he finds her. She does a bunch of gymnastics, then disappears again.

The Gunmen want to build a kill switch to shut down the game, but Phoebe tells them it won’t work. Ivan joins the group and thanks Scully for inadvertently saving the game. When the authorities saw that an FBI agent performed Retro’s autopsy and couldn’t determine a cause of death, they decided not to shut down the game. Scully, of course, doesn’t care, since Mulder and the game are missing. She brings up Jade, but Ivan doesn’t seem familiar with her name.

Phoebe suddenly runs out, and Scully follows her, realizing that Phoebe was the one who scanned Jade. Phoebe says Scully wouldn’t understand what it’s like “choking in a haze of rampant testosterone” every day. Scully manages not to roll her eyes. Phoebe explains that she was using Jade for her own game, not this one. Somehow, Jade fed off of male aggression (uh, okay) and jumped into this game. Scully tells her she’ll have to find a weakness and destroy Jade. Phoebe says she has no weaknesses.

Mulder’s out of ammo, but he’s still ready to fight Maitreya hand-to-hand. Well, more specifically, he’s ready to take a beating from her. As the others discuss how Maitreya put herself in the game and hijacked it, Frohike sees that Mulder’s vitals are going nuts. Ivan turns on Phoebe, but Scully tells him it’s “no fair picking on a girl.” Oh, come on.

Mulder manages to defeat Maitreya, and when he goes to get her sword, the game glitches and puts him in a Wild West ghost town. The others can now see what’s happening, but are unable to turn off the game. Maitreya finds Mulder again, and her combination of a halter top and chaps is certainly a look. She duplicates herself, and Mulder complains that she’s cheating.

Inevitably, Scully joins the game and shoots at the multiple Maitreyas. The Gunmen are thrilled. Phoebe and Ivan warn that the game gets harder from here – in fact, no one’s ever beaten this level. Scully has become the first, but her reward is more Maitreyas to shoot. Langly wonders how the agents are supposed to kill something that won’t die.

Phoebe knows of a kill coming in that can destroy the game. Ivan tries to stop her, not wanting to kill his baby, but Phoebe won’t put it ahead of human lives. Once the Maitreyas have been defeated, a tank appears, because why wouldn’t there be a tank in the Wild West? That tank explodes and another appears in its place. Scully just keeps shooting while Mulder tries to use the sword to wedge open the door Scully came through.

Ivan and Phoebe face off as the Gunmen try to get Phoebe to give them the command that will shut down the game. She finally sides with the Gunmen, and the game is no more. The agents don’t reappear, and the Gunmen worry that they’ve killed them. Phoebe finds one of their guns near the door, which the group opens to rescue the agents. Mulder is possibly having the best day of his life.

Mulder voices over something dumb about victory and whether it’s real when the game is virtual. There are no laws or rules in the virtual world, so anything could come out of the darkness. Back the tech room, the computers start up again, and Ivan is pleased to see a new player on his screens – one who looks like Scully.

Thoughts: This episode was written by William Gibson and Tom Maddox.

Phoebe is played by Constance Zimmer.

Imagine Scully on Westworld. Just imagine it.

I’m definitely not the target audience for this episode. I played laser tag once, though.

January 20, 2018

The X-Files 6.21, Field Trip: The Field Where I Almost Died

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:09 pm by Jenn

I like Scully’s coat, but, uh, I wouldn’t wear it now

Summary: A couple named Wallace and Angela comes home from a hike, which she didn’t enjoy very much. She has a headache now, so he offers to let her hit him in the head with a rock until she feels better. Angela takes a shower and briefly sees yellow goo running down the walls. Then she sees it running down her body. She still has a headache when it’s time for bed, and she’s a little freaked out by what she saw. She and Wallace lie in bed together, in the same position as two skeletons found in an open grave in a field.

In D.C., Mulder shows Scully a picture of the skeletons, which were ID’d as Wallace and Angela. They were last seen in Brown Mountain, North Carolina. They’d been missing for only three days, and the temperatures weren’t consistent with ones that would lead to their bodies decomposing. Scully thinks they were murdered and had their bodies destroyed in a ritualistic manner, maybe with acid. Mulder tells her that there was no sign that anyone else had been around the area where the skeletons were found.

700 years ago, a bunch of people saw lights in the sky in Brown Mountain, and Mulder thinks that unexplained phenomenon, which was probably UFOs, is linked to Angela and Wallace’s deaths. Scully asks if he really thinks aliens flew over the same mountain for 700 years. She asks Mulder to come up with a logical explanation for once. He points out that he hasn’t been wrong very often in the past six years, so maybe she should listen to him. He’s at least earned the benefit of the doubt.

The agents go to Asheville to examine the skeletons. Scully asks the coroner to confirm that the skeletons are really Angela and Wallace’s, and not two people who have been dead for six months. The coroner says he triple-checked the dental records. Scully finds yellow goo on a skeleton, but the coroner thinks it’s just “bog sludge.” Mulder heads off to check out the place where the bodies were found while Scully starts her examination.

Mulder finds yellow goo at the open grave, then recognizes a man walking around as Wallace. Wallace runs from him and appears to hide in a cave. Meanwhile, the coroner tells Scully that the bog sludge is actually a digestive secretion – basically, stomach juices. It also contains an enzyme only found in plants. The coroner remembers it from a previous case involving skeletal remains, but the victims had been missing a long time, so no one thought anything strange was going on. However, the bodies were found near where Wallace and Angela’s were.

Scully quickly calls Mulder, but I guess there’s no reception in the cave. She tells the coroner to send the goo to Quantico while she goes to the mountain to find her partner. In the cave, Mulder finally finds Wallace, who begs Mulder not to take him. He thinks Mulder is “one of them.” Mulder informs Wallace that his skeleton was found, but Wallace knows it’s fake, placed by the aliens who abducted him and Angela. They wanted to fake the couple’s deaths so no one would go looking for them. They returned Wallace, but Angela’s still with the aliens, undergoing experiments.

Scully arrives at the mountain and follows Mulder’s footprints to the cave. She tramples some mushrooms and kicks up some dust on her way. Mulder tells Wallace that they need to find a way out of the cave; he doesn’t realize that there’s an opening in the rock wall behind him that used to be solid. Wallace thinks the aliens are messing with Mulder’s head and are right outside. Mulder starts to leave, but a bright light shines in the cave. Wallace runs and Mulder chases him again.

The light is from Scully’s flashlight, which isn’t much use to her. Unable to find her partner, she leaves. Further in the cave, there’s another light, which soon goes out. Mulder wonders if the aliens are looking for something other than Wallace. Or maybe they were just making a return trip, as Angela is now in the cave with the men. Mulder questions her about what she remembers while Wallace studies the yellow goo running down the cave walls.

Angela doesn’t remember much, but it sounds like her experience was similar to Scully’s when she was abducted. Mulder examines her neck and finds a scar from an implant. He tells the couple that Angela’s story sounds just like the ones other abductees have given, except for the fake skeletons. He wants to run, but Wallace and Angela are worried that the aliens will come back and abduct them again. They see a light and decide to hide. Mulder, however, goes toward the light and its accompanying rumbling.

Suddenly, Mulder’s in his apartment in D.C., summoning Scully to come meet him. She’s ticked that he ditched her in North Carolina. Wallace and Angela are also there, and Mulder tells Scully that she needs to forget about her scientific biases and listen to him. He’s positive that aliens exist, and that he’s finally found the truth. Not only did Angela have the same experience as Scully, but the group has brought a friend along with them to D.C.: a little gray man. “I abducted him,” Mulder says proudly.

He continues that the alien speaks to him telepathically and explained everything to him. Scully can hear the alien, too, and is amazed that Mulder’s theories have finally been confirmed. But then he starts questioning the skeletons and the goo they found on them. Scully’s suddenly skeptical about science. Mulder has a headache now, and when he goes to splash some water on his face, he briefly sees the water in the sink as the yellow goo. When he returns to the others, he sees the room warping and the people dissolving into the goo. In reality, Mulder’s still in the cave, stuck to the wall, with goo dripping all over him.

Scully brings the coroner to the mountain and sees that the goo is seeping up through the ground. The coroner, who I really wish had a name so I could stop typing “the coroner,” notices footprints going both in and out of the cave. Scully’s surprised that she didn’t see that before. She also didn’t see a skeleton lying in a field nearby. The two take it back to the coroner’s office and use Mulder’s dental records to ID it as his body.

Scully guesses that the goo they keep finding sped up the decomposition process, but the coroner points out that there’s no goo on the skeleton. The coroner thinks they need to look for the most logical explanation. He gives the same one Scully did when Mulder first presented the case. He promises to handle all the arrangements and have Mulder’s remains sent to Washington.

In D.C., Scully meets with Skinner, who accepts her explanations for what happened. Scully’s surprised, since she couldn’t find Mulder’s cause of death or explain what happened to his body. To her, what she did come up with is the least plausible explanation. Skinner thinks it was the most likely answer, though. Scully notes that she was assigned to the X-Files to be a skeptic; now she’s acting like Mulder. Her scientific approach has never explained any of their cases. But Skinner doesn’t think Mulder’s theories were right.

Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment for a wake. The Lone Gunmen are there, and Langly’s wearing a tuxedo T-shirt, because of course he is. Byers tells Scully that they’re investigating on their own; she’s relieved that she’s not the only person who thinks there are more answers to be found. But the Gunmen think Mulder was murdered in a ritualistic manner – it’s the obvious answer. They promise to make the killer pay. Scully can’t believe she’s the only person asking questions here. Of all people, the Gunmen should be skeptical.

Skinner notices that Scully’s struggling and tells her to go home and rest. Scully sees yellow goo dripping in front of her. She demands to know where Mulder really is, yelling that something else is happening. There’s a knock at the apartment door, but no one moves to answer it. Scully opens the door and Mulder enters, only now the apartment is empty.

Mulder tells Scully that he was abducted from the cave and taken to the same place Wallace and Angela described. She reminds him that Wallace and Angela are dead, not realizing that, since she found Mulder’s remains and he’s still alive, Wallace and Angela’s remains don’t mean anything. She wonders why the aliens returned Mulder to D.C. when they took him from North Carolina. She realizes that he doesn’t remember getting there.

Scully starts questioning everything: Why did Mulder knock on his own apartment door? Why isn’t he surprised that Scully’s there? Where are Angela and Wallace? What happened to everyone at the wake? Scully realizes this is a hallucination, though she’s not sure which one of them is having it. She remembers the mushrooms and guesses that their spores led to this weirdness. They might still be in the cave at Brown Mountain.

Scully continues that Angela and Wallace could have been digested by the yellow goo, which is the same hallucinogenic substance as the spores from the mushrooms. Maybe that organism needs to feed on living tissue. It could lure its prey into the cave and use the goo to keep it still. Mulder starts to get the picture as Scully suggests that they’re being digested right now. Mulder sees her dissolve in yellow goo.

At the mountain, Mulder digs himself out of the ground, then pulls out an unconscious Scully. They return to D.C. and give Skinner their report about a giant mushroom that eats people. They’ve confirmed that the spores create a substance similar to LSD. Skinner buys everything, but Mulder’s a little fuzzy on how they escaped. Did Scully’s realization of what was going on just break the mushroom’s spell? Can you will yourself out of a chemical hallucination?

Skinner guesses that the effects just wore off, but Mulder notes that he and Scully don’t show any signs of being exposed to the yellow goo, even after being exposed to it for hours. He thinks they’re still underground – they never escaped. Scully guesses that he has PTSD and is confused about what’s real and what isn’t. Mulder says that Skinner isn’t real, and he’ll prove it. He pulls out his gun and shoots Skinner, who bleeds yellow goo. Then Scully sees Mulder dissolve.

In the cave, the agents are both covered in yellow goo. Fortunately, people are looking for them, led by Skinner and the coroner. Mulder’s able to reach a hand aboveground and get himself and Scully rescued. They’re loaded into the same ambulance and reach for each other’s hands. And then I guess the giant mushroom is destroyed before any stoners in the area can learn about it and organize a big party at the mountain.

Thoughts: All three guest stars in the episode are recognizable:

The first clue that none of this was real is that Mulder doesn’t have a victory dance prepared when Scully tells him he was right about everything.

So…I guess Wallace and Angela are really dead? That sucks.

January 13, 2018

The X-Files 6.20, Three of a Kind: What Happens in Vegas…

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

The cigarette is a Morley, of course

Summary: Byers pulls up to a nice suburban house as he tells us that he keeps having a dream where JFK was never assassinated. The country is innocent and hopeful, people trust the government, and Byers has a sweet little family. All of his personal hopes, and those he has for the country, have been fulfilled. He has “everything that counts for everything in life.” But the dream always ends the same way – he loses everything, and ends up alone in a desert, holding his wedding ring.

In Vegas, defense contractors are gathering for Def-Con ’99 (heh). Byers is playing poker with some of them, though he’s using a fake name. He tries to get them to talk about their work, but they say they’re not doing anything new. Frohike serves some drinks, dressed as a casino employee. Byers is playing well, and no one realizes that it’s because he has Langly talking to him through an earpiece. There’s a camera in Byers’ watch, and Langly’s using it to look at the other players’ cards.

Langly helps Byers answer some questions about his work, which they think involves air conditioners. Langly tells Byers to fold, but Byers ignores him and puts down a flush. He loses, and the winning player reveals that he knows Byers and Frohike, who’s been hanging around the room, are working together. He advises them to find another game to cheat at.

Byers and Frohike meet up with Langly, who blasts them for losing $3,000. They’re trying to make some sort of undercover buy, but it’s not going well. Langly decides that the convention is a bust. Byers, however, thinks that the player he lost to is worth looking into. He wasn’t wearing a badge indicating that he’s there for the convention.

Someone knocks on the guys’ hotel-room door, and the guys get nervous, but it’s just two nerds named Jimmy and Timmy. They seem to be in competition with the Lone Gunmen. Jimmy says the theme of the convention this year is assassination; some new tech is supposed to be unveiled. But until then, would the Lone Gunmen like to join Jimmy and Timmy for a lobster buffet and strip show?

Frohike tells Byer that he’s noticed how nervous he gets when they come to these conventions. He thinks he’s on the lookout for Susanne Modeski. Byers points out that they met her at a convention. Frohike reminds him that it was in Baltimore, and it was ten years ago. Also, she’s probably dead by now. Byers disagrees – she was too important to the government for them to kill her. Frohike suggests that they take a break and get some lobster. They stop at a slot machine first, and Byers spots Susanne across the room. He follows her but loses sight of her.

Mulder calls Scully (“hey, Scully. It’s me.” Nope, not the same) at 2:34 a.m. and tells her she needs to go to Vegas. He insists it’s important but won’t tell her what it’s about. It turns out it’s not really Mulder – the Lone Gunmen are using a computer program to mimic his voice. He sounds a little robotic, but Scully buys it and agrees to fly out. Frohike knows she’ll be mad, but Byers wants help from a government agent, since they seem to be dealing with other government agents. Mulder’s known by the people who took Susanne, so Scully’s a better bet.

Langly asks Byers if he’s really sure that Susanne is there. He is. Frohike tells him to get a drink and chill out. When Byers goes to the ice machine, he spots the guy who beat him at poker. The winner knocks on a door and is greeted by Susanne. And let’s just say that she doesn’t seem to be in any kind of danger.

The guys look up the winner and ID him as Grant Ellis. He’s from New Mexico, is with the Department of Defense, and works for the same weapons facility Susanne worked for. Byers thinks that Ellis brainwashed Susanne after she refused to help out with the organization’s awful tests. Why else would she be meeting him in a hotel room and kissing him?

Frohike comes up with a plan and sends Byers and Langly to the hotel lobby while he keeps an eye on Ellis’ room. Byers and Langly are about to do…something when Jimmy and a couple other nerds spot them. The guys want to get into a certain highly guarded room, and Jimmy says he can get them in. However, he thinks the Gunmen just want to sit in on the next day’s session about the assassination technology. Byers wants in now, and tells Jimmy to prove that he can really gain entrance.

Jimmy crawls through a vent and spies on the current seminar, which is being led by Ellis. Susanne is also in attendance, and Jimmy is surprised to see Timmy in the audience. A couple of security guards catch Jimmy and pull him out of the vent. Timmy joins them and chastises Jimmy for screwing things up. They had big plans for him – they were going to make him a patsy when they employed their assassination technology. For now, though, they’ll just inject him with something.

Scully arrives in Vegas, and Byers and Langly tell her that Mulder might be out of touch for a few hours. They hear security guards talking about Jimmy and follow them outside, where Jimmy’s dead, having jumped in front of a bus. Byers is sure that’s a cover-up of some sort.

Upstairs, Frohike breaks into Ellis’ room and goes to plant a video camera in a vent. There’s already one there. Susanne comes in and Frohike hides, getting a glimpse of her as she undresses, because men wrote this episode. Someone knocks at the door, and Susanne pauses after she looks through the peephole to see who’s there: Byers.

He tells Susanne he’s there to save her, but she assures him she’s fine. Ellis isn’t her captor, he’s her fiancé. Byers asks if he dreamed Susanne’s apparent kidnapping years ago. She confirms that it happened, “but things got better.” She closes the door and goes to take a bath while Frohike escapes the room through a vent. (Lots of vents in this episode.)

Langly goes with Scully to a morgue so she can autopsy Jimmy’s body. Langly doesn’t have the stomach for it but tries to be brave. Since Jimmy’s cause of death is consistent with being hit by a bus, Langly wonders if “they” did something to make him kill himself. Scully wonders who “they” are. Good question, Scully. Langly holds on as long as he can but ultimately can’t handle the procedure. As he’s off throwing up, Scully sees the puncture wound where Jimmy was injected. Before she can do anything, Timmy arrives and gives her a puncture wound of her own.

Langly returns and finds Scully unconscious. She wakes up easily, and he guesses that she just got lightheaded from the autopsy. Whatever Timmy gave her has made her loopy, and she calls Langly “cutie.” He asks what killed Jimmy. Scully’s medical opinion is “beeeeeeep,” clap. In other words, he was hit by a bus. Langly rejoins the other Gunmen and gives them this expert opinion. Scully has gone off to do something else, and Langly thinks she’s just really jetlagged.

Frohike shows the guys footage from the camera he found in Ellis’ vent. Whatever Ellis is working on, Susanne is in on it, too. Byers insists that she’s being forced into whatever it is. She wouldn’t do something unethical, and she wouldn’t get involved romantically with Ellis. Susanne appears in the doorway and says that Byers doesn’t know Ellis like she does. She’s there to return the camera Frohike left in Ellis’ vent.

Susanne tells the guys that Ellis saved her life, and the lives of thousands of others. Frohike and Langly excuse themselves to go gamble while she explains things to Byers. Frohike calls her Mata Hari before they leave. Byers tells Susanne that he thinks Jimmy saw something he shouldn’t have at Ellis’ seminar. Susanne could be in danger, too. She says that she always is, as is Ellis.

She’s thought about what she would say to Byers if she ever saw him again. When she was taken ten years ago, “they” did things to her that made her feel like she was drowning. One day, Ellis saved her, but she wanted it to be Susanne. Ellis was working against the people who took her, stalling and sabotaging them. He reminded Susanne of Byers.

In the casino, Timmy invites Langly and Frohike to his room for a game of Dungeons and Dragons in Jimmy’s memory. Langly goes, but Frohike stays behind. He hears a familiar laugh and finds Scully in a bar, surrounded by attentive men. Someone offers her a cigarette, and she ignites the sexuality of thousands of teenagers by accepting it with her mouth. The offerer happens to be Morris Fletcher.

Scully asks for a light, and a bunch of men offer their lighters. “I just can’t decide who lights my fire,” she slurs. Frohike tells the men that Scully’s a federal agent, and if they touch her, they could be committing a federal crime. Morris is disappointed to see Scully go, but she leaves him with a “maybe next time” and a slap on the butt.

Langly arrives at the supposed D&D game, realizing too late that he’s been duped. Meanwhile, Susanne tells Byers that she and Ellis were going to go public with their research, then disappear. She thinks people are ready to accept the things Susanne and Ellis want them to know. If they don’t disappear, they’ll be killed.

Frohike brings Scully to the room; she’s all giggly, and Frohike thinks she’s drunk. Susanne knows better, immediately finding her puncture wound. She’s the one who developed the histamine gas Scully was given. Ellis had her develop a small batch so they could go public; at the same time, they’d have a weapon, just in case. Since Susanne and Ellis are the only two people who have access to the samples, and Susanne didn’t inject Scully, Ellis must be behind this.

Susanne gives Scully a counteragent as Langly joins the group. Susanne explains that the histamine messes with your higher brain function, allowing for suggestibility – in other words, brainwashing and mind control. Jimmy was told to kill himself, and Scully was told to forget her autopsy findings. So what do the bad guys want?

In a word: murder. Langly meets up with Timmy, who gives him a gun and some instructions. He sends Langly to the next session of Ellis’ seminar, where someone else is now speaking. Susanne keeps an eye on her watch. Scully, now back to normal, tries to get into the room, but the security guard outside the door doesn’t care that she works for the government; she hasn’t been authorized.

Ellis calls for a break, during which Langly approaches Susanne with his gun. He shoots her multiple times, then leaves. As Scully goes to check out the chaos, the security guard calls for an ambulance. Frohike intercepts the call, like this is Ocean’s Eleven. Scully tells the guard to detail Ellis and remove him from the room. Frohike and Byers, posing as EMTs, take Susanne out on a stretcher. Timmy kneels by Susanne’s blood on the carpet and pulls a Mulder by tasting it.

Scully takes Ellis to see Susanne, who’s perfectly fine. She confronts him for programming Langly to kill her. She was smart enough to check him and give him the antidote. They set the whole thing up, complete with fake bullets and fake blood. Ellis says that Susanne knows exactly why he set everything up: The project was over, and he didn’t need her anymore. Susanne’s upset that Ellis pretended to love her. What did he get in return? Ellis says they would have killed him if he hadn’t done their bidding.

Timmy shows up to kill Susanne, shooting Ellis first. He takes Susanne with him to gain entrance to the Lone Gunmen’s room. But Byers is ready with histamine and injects Timmy, saving everyone. While Timmy is arrested and confesses to the murders of Susanne and Ellis, Scully calls Mulder. She learns that the Lone Gunmen tricked her, and she’s just as mad as they expected she would be.

Susanne is still alive, and will now be able to fulfill her plan to disappear. She asks Byers to run away with her, but he thinks she’ll be safer on her own. The Lone Gunmen will take care of making her research public so she won’t be a target. That’s what the Gunmen do. Susanne gives him a kiss and a parting gift: Ellis’ ring. Just like in his recurring dream, Byers is in the desert, holding a ring. But unlike in the dream, he’s not alone – he has the other two Gunmen.

Thoughts: Ellis is played by the late Charles Rocket.

I didn’t like “Unusual Suspects” all that much, so I wasn’t looking forward to another Gunmen-centric episode, but this was a much better use of them.

I love drugged Scully. God bless Gillian Anderson.

November 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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