January 21, 2017

The X-Files 4.14, Memento Mori: How to Save a Life

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

I love this

I love this

Summary: Scully gives us a voiceover about “[feeling] time like a heartbeat” and sharing a burden through words. She wants the person reading her words to know that she feels comfort because she’s receiving understanding. She’s standing in a hospital gown, looking at a scan of her head, which shows a mass right between her eyes. Scully finishes her voiceover by asking forgiveness for not finishing the journey with her audience.

Mulder joins Scully at Holy Cross Memorial Hospital in D.C., where Scully has just received her medical news. She tells him she feels fine, despite the tumor in her brain. He’s the only person she’s called. The tumor is inoperable, and its size and placement make it hard to treat. Mulder refuses to believe that. Scully’s amused that, for once, she believes something he doesn’t – she’s certain that the cancer isn’t going anywhere and will most likely kill her. Mulder still won’t accept this, saying that there have to be people out there who’ve received treatment.

Scully gives the news to Skinner, asking him to keep it quiet. She plans to delay treatment until she and Mulder meet with the MUFON women in Pennsylvania, as Betsy was being treated for the same type of cancer. Scully wants to pursue this as a case rather than a personal matter. But when the agents arrive at Betsy’s house, they learn that she died a few weeks earlier. They’re just in time to see files from Betsy’s computer being downloaded by someone.

The agents trace the hack to a man named Kurt Crawford and go to his apartment. Mulder heads to the back of the building just as someone tries to sneak out. The agents capture Kurt, but the exertion of the chase gives Scully a nosebleed. She tells Mulder again that she’s fine. Kurt tells the agents he was in Betsy’s MUFON group and downloaded her files at her request. He ran because he believes his life is in danger.

Scully wants to question the other MUFON members, but Mulder says they can’t. Kurt confirms that all of the other members have died of brain cancer except one, Penny Northern. Kurt believes the women’s stories about being abducted and developing tumors as a result. Mulder thinks Scully’s in denial about her illness coming from the same circumstances. Scully notes that Penny’s still alive, so there’s nothing definitive about the situation.

Mulder suggests that Scully talk to Penny, but Scully doesn’t see the point. What would they talk about, knowing what it’s like to be dying of cancer? Mulder puts it in FBI terms, pointing out that she’s a witness they need to talk to. So Scully visits Penny in the hospital, surprised that Penny seemed to expect her. Her doctor, Scanlon, thinks he’s found the cause of the cancer, though it’s probably too late to do anything. Scully seems to grasp that it might not be too late for her.

Scully calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”), who’s at Betsy’s with Kurt, looking through her files. Penny and Betsy were both treated for infertility at the same clinic. Scully asks him to come to the hospital with her overnight bag and call her mother. Whatever Mulder found isn’t important right now. “The truth is in me,” she says, and she needs to suspend the investigation and look into what’s happening to her. Mulder immediately heads off, leaving Kurt in Betsy’s apartment. Seconds later, a man enters the apartment with an icepick, and someone ends up as green acid.

Scully spends the night at the hospital, waking to meet Dr. Scanlon, who she first sees as an alien-like being. She’s bracing herself for chemo and radiation, which Scanlon says will make her “feel like dying.” Maggie arrives, and Scully repeats her new mantra, that she’s fine. Maggie’s upset that Scully didn’t tell her about her diagnosis right away. Scully says that she wanted all the answers first, and though she hasn’t found any yet, she has some clarity, as well as a possible way to fight back.

Maggie makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be left out of whatever happens. She cries as she says that Scully was always the strong one. Having lost Melissa, Maggie only has one daughter left. Scully remains stoic as her mother breaks down. She undergoes some scans, voicing over about how cancer “starts as an invader, but soon becomes one with the invaded,” turning a person’s body against itself. You can destroy it, but you risk destroying yourself in the process.

The voiceover is a letter written to Mulder in case Scully doesn’t survive. She wants him to know that he should never feel like there was something more he could have done. Though they’ve been working together, “this last distance must necessarily be traveled alone.”

Mulder, having not read the letter yet, is still determined to do something. He goes to the clinic where Betsy and Penny were treated and tries to access some files, but has to hide when he hears someone approaching. It’s Kurt, who survived the icepick assassin after all. Kurt and Mulder are looking for the same thing, so Kurt gets to work hacking the computer with the files they need. Mulder notices a snowglobe of a place called Vegreville, which turns out to be the password.

Back at the hospital, Scully has a nightmare about her head being drilled while she was abducted. Penny comforts her when she wakes up, feeling sick for the first time. Scully remembers hearing Penny’s voice in her dream. Penny says “they” let her sit with Scully during the procedures, though she’s not sure why. Scully doesn’t want to hear about this right now, but Penny thinks it’s important for her to understand what’s happening to her.

Mulder returns to D.C. and asks Skinner to get him a meeting. He has a disk containing a file from the clinic; it has Scully’s name, even though he’s pretty sure Scully’s never undergone treatment for infertility. Since the file is a directory for a mainframe at the Lombard Research Facility, Mulder doesn’t know what it’s about. That’s why he wants to meet with CSM. Skinner warns that if Mulder offers up anything, CSM will “own” him. But Mulder thinks CSM knows what happened to Scully and may know how to save her. “You can’t ask the truth of a man who trades in lies,” Skinner says, refusing the request.

Fortunately, Mulder has the Lone Gunmen to turn to. They decrypt the file, which contains a gene code from her blood post-abduction. The branching in the code can lead to mutation. The Gunmen think someone was doing research to find the cause of the mutation, though Mulder notes that someone could instead be looking for a cure. He invites the Gunmen to come to Lombard with him: “Pick out something black and sexy, and prepare to do some funky poaching.”

Skinner goes to Mulder’s office and finds CSM, who’s surprised that Mulder’s been relegated to the basement. Skinner spits that at least Mulder doesn’t have to “take an elevator up to get to work,” which I think is his way of saying that CSM is from Hell, but…try harder, Skinner. Despite Mulder and Skinner’s agreement to keep Scully’s illness confidential, CSM knows she’s sick. He notes that modern medicine can lead to miracles. Skinner would like for one, so he asks what he needs to do to save Scully. CSM will get back to him. “Which way is the elevator?” he asks pointedly as he leaves.

Mulder and Byers stake out Lombard while Frohike and Langly sneak inside and patch into the facility’s security cameras. Mulder and Byers head in next but immediately hit a roadblock with a security code. While Langly figures it out, Mulder looks at a directory of doctors and sees that Scanlon is on staff there. Langly gets the code, but Mulder sends Byers off on another mission, telling him to contact Scully and get her to stop treatment.

Scully writes to Mulder again, now feeling the effects of her treatment. Penny’s condition has worsened, and Scully dreads going down the same road. She can feel Mulder close, even though he’s not with her. She’s grateful for his work and needs to know he’s out there if she has any hopes of beating the cancer.

The security feed and comms get fuzzy, and Langly and Byers lose contact with Mulder just as Byers sees security guards arriving at the facility. Mulder makes it to a lab, where he’s greeted by a bunch of clones of Kurt. The lab is full of tanks containing more clones. Mulder thinks Kurt was using him, but the clones really want him to help them end the project that created them. Mulder recognizes a clone in a tank as the boy from the farm. Kurt confirms that the adult clones are the end result of the experiment.

Mulder thinks the clones want the developing clones to be destroyed. They say they actually want what Mulder wants. One shows him a storeroom full of ova harvested from abducted women, including Scully. The ova are then used to create clones. Unfortunately, the procedure leaves them barren and gives them cancer. The Kurt clones want to save them, since they’re technically the clones’ mothers.

When Mulder’s comms return, Langly warns that there’s a security breach. In another part of the building, Byers hides from guards. Langly gives Mulder directions to get out of the building, but the Gunmen can’t get the doors open fast enough for him to leave. A guard finds Mulder and fires at him, trying to break through bulletproof glass. The Gunmen manage to get Mulder out just as the shooter breaches the glass.

Mulder goes straight to Scully’s room, which is empty except for her journal. Byers meets up with him and assures him that he reached Scully. She’s sitting with Penny, who’s barely holding on. Scully confirms that Scanlon probably isn’t coming back. Penny tells her to keep looking for answers, and Scully promises not to give up hope. Her stoicism is beginning to falter.

Penny dies, and Scully can no longer keep her emotions hidden. Mulder tells her he read a little of what she wrote to him, but Scully now wants to throw it away. She’s decided not to let the cancer beat her. She’s going to work as long as she can. Mulder is determined to find Scanlon and figure out exactly what happened to Scully and the other women. He knows that Scully will find a way to save herself.

Scully notes that many people live with cancer, and she will, too. She has things to prove to herself and her family, and things to finish. Mulder hugs her, happy to be able to keep working with her. “The truth will save you, Scully,” he tells her. “I think it’ll save both of us.” He kisses her forehead, but only her forehead, because they cut the version where they kiss on the lips. As she goes back to her room, Mulder hides a vial of ova in his pocket.

Mulder calls Skinner to let him know that Scully’s going to keep working. He thanks Skinner for talking him out of meeting with CSM; he’ll just find another way to get the truth. “There’s always another way,” Skinner says. “Yes, I believe there is,” CSM agrees from the other side of Skinner’s desk. “If you’re willing to pay the price.”

Thoughts: Gillian Anderson won an Emmy for this episode.

Way to protect your witness who thinks his life is in danger, guys.

And way to keep your shady doctor’s identity secret, Lombard. Also, did Scully do ANY research before she started treatment with Scanlon?

I finally feel like Skinner is really part of this show. He was pretty ineffectual in the past, but in this episode, we see that he knows exactly what’s going on and is willing to go to great (possibly dangerous) lengths for his agents.

December 3, 2016

The X-Files 4.7, Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man: Sympathy for the Devil

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:32 pm by Jenn

"Yes, I will be your soulless killing machine. Does it come with health care? Because I'm about to ruin my lungs"

“Yes, I will be your soulless killing machine. Does it come with health care? Because I’m about to ruin my lungs”

Summary: A title card quotes to us from Henry IV, Part 1: “For nothing can seem foul to those that win.” CSM arrives at an abandoned warehouse, lighting up with a lighter that says “trust no one.” He opens his briefcase and uses the technology inside to eavesdrop on Mulder, Scully, and the Lone Gunmen. The Gunmen are wary about being overheard, and Frohike refuses to say anything else until they put on a filter that blocks surveillance. Too bad CSM has tech to cut through that filter, and he starts assembling a rifle as Frohike reveals that the Gunmen have uncovered secrets from CSM’s background.

Frohike continues that CSM came on the scene just as Leon Trotsky was assassinated. His father was a Communist activist who spied for the Nazis during the Nazi-Soviet pact. He was executed under 1917’s Espionage Act. His mother also died (of lung cancer) when CSM was young, so he became a ward of the state. He was a loner who disappeared for a while, then reappeared a year and a half after the Bay of Pigs.

Part I: “Things really did go well in Dealey Plaza.” It’s October 30th, 1962, at Ft. Bragg’s Center for Special Warfare in North Carolina. Soldiers do their daily exercises, chanting about going after Khrushchev and Castro. Later, one soldier reads The Manchurian Candidate, though one of his fellow soldiers thinks he should just go see the movie. The reader (okay, it’s CSM, let’s drop the mystery) says he’d rather read the worst novel ever written than sit through the best movie ever made.

CSM, who happens to be a captain, is summoned to see General Francis. His buddy reports that his one-year-old just said his first word: “JFK.” (That’s not a word, but okay.) He shows CSM a picture of his wife and son. P.S. The buddy is Bill Mulder. In General Francis’ office, CSM is questioned about activities he may have participated in, such as the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, training Cuban nationals during the Bay of Pigs, or the assassination of Rafael Trujillo. The questioner notes that CSM’s father was a known spy. CSM says he just wishes he’d been able to execute his father himself.

General Francis assures CSM that they know what it’s like to be scrutinized for someone else’s actions. He offers CSM a cigarette, but CSM declines: “I never touch ’em.” OKAY, WE GET IT. General Francis says that sometimes our objectives don’t match up with the objectives of others who want liberty and justice. “Viva la libertad,” says another man in the office. General Francis continues that a lot of powerful people aren’t qualified to lead others; some of them get caught up in bureaucracy. They should be looking to “another form of government.” CSM’s father did, and General Francis considers that extraordinary. He thinks that runs in the family.

Communism is evil, so CSM’s father deserved to be executed, but it’s also what brings CSM there today. A man comes out of the shadows to tell CSM that he’s going to be presented with an extremely classified task. If he takes it, he’ll be let out of the Army. He’s going to be asked to kill an American man who used to command a Navy boat. The country was just almost destroyed by nuclear war, which never would have been a possibility if this individual didn’t provide air support during the Bay of Pigs. A patsy has been found and will be set up while CSM does the dirty work.

For slower members of the audience, a chyron informs us that CSM is now in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963. He meets up with Lee Harvey Oswald, advising him not to smoke. CSM, using the name Mr. Hunt, is posing as someone who supports Lee’s political beliefs (and also a movie lover). He needs Lee to hide some curtain rods in the book depository; once they’ve been retrieved by a third party, Lee will be paid and can head to Cuba.

Lee holds up his end of the bargain while CSM goes to an overflow unit, posing as a worker with the city’s Department of Public Works. When JFK’s motorcade approaches, Lee’s co-workers wonder if he wants to come see it with them. Lee’s at a vending machine, picking out a soda, while CSM assembles a gun. He gets a signal from a man with an umbrella and fulfills his task, assassinating the president.

Lee quickly realizes that he’s about to be framed for the crime. He grabs a gun of his own and heads off to find CSM, but a police officer finds him first. Lee asks to see the officer’s credentials, suspicious that he’s with “them.” The officer gets out of his car to talk to Lee, who shoots him and runs off. He then goes to the movie theater, which is showing War is Hell. He fights the officers but is outnumbered and subdued. He yells that he’s “not the one” and complains about police brutality. CSM sits calmly nearby, lighting up a cigarette.

Part II: “Just down the road aways from Graceland.” CSM types something while Martin Luther King, Jr. gives a speech. “I can kill you whenever I please,” CSM murmurs to himself. “But not today.” He’s writing a story, and this is the end. He’s just finished Take a Chance, a Jack Colquitt Adventure, writing under the pen name Raul Bloodworth. He pauses as King says that some feel “Communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real.” CSM doesn’t like this.

He meets with J. Edgar Hoover and two other men, who are worried about King’s supporters. CSM likes and respects King, but he’s talking like a Maoist now. If African-Americans listen to King and refuse to fight in Vietnam, American will lose and “the first domino will have fallen.” CSM mocks Hoover’s letter trying to convince King to kill himself; it only let him know that he’s being watched.

One of the men suggests that they blackmail King with a faked film of him having an affair with a white woman, but CSM says they need a “more intense” idea. A general named Fryatt suggests just killing King and his supporters. CSM notes that a lot of supporters think they’re still fighting the Civil War. If they find a white patsy, this becomes an issue of race, “another patsy.” CSM has too much respect for King to let anyone else assassinate him.

On April 4th, 1968, CSM goes to Memphis and smokes while King gives his last speech. He looks at the picture of Teena and Mulder that Bill showed him back in the Army. Then he meets with James Earl Ray in a rooming house and gives him some money to go away for a while (he suggests that Ray see a movie). As soon as Ray’s gone, “Raul” gets his gun and goes to the Lorraine Motel to kill King.

As the news goes out across the country, CSM reads a rejection letter from a publisher who’s uninterested in Take a Chance. The characters are unbelievable and the ending is dumb. He should just burn it. CSM puts the picture of Teena and Mulder in a drawer as Robert Kennedy quotes Aeschylus: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” CSM recites along with him (while probably planning his assassination next).

Part III: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” It’s Christmas Eve 1991, and CSM is meeting with a few fellow CIA agents to wrap up some business before the holidays. They decide to let “the Anita Hill thing” go, and are pleased that Rodney King’s trial has been moved to Simi Valley, as CSM instructed. CSM and his nicotine patch ignore a call from Saddam Hussein so the conversation can continue.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is working on separating from Yugoslavia, but CSM knows America doesn’t care. Personally, he also doesn’t care about the upcoming Oscar nominations. What he does care about is making sure the Bills never win a Super Bowl. “Buffalo wants it bad,” an agent notes. “So did the Soviets in ’80,” CSM replies. The agent is shocked that CSM rigged the famous hockey game. “Don’t you believe in miracles?” CSM asks. Another agent explains that they drugged Russia’s goalie with Novocain via a pat on the back.

CSM starts to leave, but an agent thinks they should chat about “that spooky kid” working on the X-files. He might be trouble. CSM says he’ll keep an eye on him. Moments later, he learns that Gorbachev has resigned, which means the U.S. has no more enemies. CSM hands out Christmas presents to the agents, who invite him to join them and their families for the holidays. CSM says he’s going to see family of his own. He leaves, and the agents open their presents, seeing that CSM got them all the same tie.

CSM listens to Christmas music and works on his next Jack Colquitt story, which is about Colquitt being alone in his apartment on Christmas. Art imitates life! Sometimes Colquitt wants a second chance. Well, maybe Colquitt should take a writing class or something. Deep Throat calls to let CSM know that they’ve just received a surprise Christmas present.

CSM heads to Dogway, West Virginia, where an alien spacecraft has just been captured. CSM thinks they can get away with the kind of story they used to explain Roswell, since it had everyone looking in the wrong direction. Deep Throat disagrees – even with the Russians in disarray, the KGB will be on their backs, as will other countries. They probably have an operative advancing on them as they speak.

Deep Throat and CSM look in on their new alien buddy as CSM wonders how many historic events they’ve witnessed together. “How often did we make or change history? And our names can never grace any pages of record. No monument will ever bear our image, and yet once again tonight, the course of human history will be set by two unknown men standing in the shadows.”

An alien could advance Bill’s work, so CSM knows they need to kill it. Deep Throat reminds him that Security Council Resolution 10.13 requires them to kill any alien in their custody. He wants CSM to do it: “I’m the liar. You’re the killer.” CSM notes that Deep Throat’s lies have killed more people than CSM has: “I’ve never killed anybody.” He wants to keep up that streak. Deep Throat says that maybe CSM’s the liar after all.

Deep Threat knows that the world could be destroyed if they don’t kill their “new enemy.” The men decide to flip a coin to determine who gets the job. Deep Throat loses the toss, so he has the job of ridding the U.S. of its latest threat to democracy and peace and whatnot. He puts on a gas mask and enters the alien’s chamber as CSM takes off his nicotine patch and lights up a Morley.

Part IV: “The X-Files.” Frohike tells Mulder and Scully that this is where they enter the story. CSM attends Scully’s interview at FBI headquarters in March of 1992, then uses his briefcase surveillance device to listen in on Mulder and Scully’s first meeting. I sincerely hope that, later in the series, he has to listen to them make out.

In the present, CSM trains a rifle on the door of the Lone Gunmen’s lair as Frohike quotes Thoreau to the agents: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” CSM hasn’t had a quiet life, but it’s been pretty desperate. Frohike thinks he’s “the most dangerous man alive.” He thinks his actions are necessary, and he can never escape himself.

“Raul” has submitted another story to Pivotal Publishing, and this time it’s received interest. Second Chance involves alien assassinations, and a publisher wants to serialize it. This could lead to a huge career for “Raul.” However, he’ll have to give up some control. The story will be published in Roman a Clef on November 12th. CSM types up a letter of resignation and throws out his Morleys, ready to start a new life.

On November 12th, CSM picks up the new issue of Roman a Clef, which looks more like Playboy than a classy literary publication. He’s stunned to see that someone changed the ending of his story. After some heat from the news vendor, CSM buys the magazine anyway, along with a pack of Morleys.

He smokes at a bus stop, waxing poetic to a homeless man who’s just found a box of candy: “Life is like a box of chocolates – a cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for.” You can’t return it because all you’ll get back is more candy. Sometimes you find something good, but the good ones don’t last. You end up with broken, crappy candy, “and if you’re desperate enough to eat those, all you’ve got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers.” CSM tears up his resignation letter and heads to work as the homeless man picks up his magazine.

In the present, Frohike’s still looking for proof that everything he’s determined about CSM’s past is true. As he leaves the Lone Gunmen’s lair, CSM takes aim, saying, “I can kill you whenever I please.” He takes his finger off the trigger and lets Frohike go. “But not today.”

Thoughts: The younger version of CSM is played by Chris Owens, who later plays Jeffrey Spender.

“Mom, I got a role on The X-Files!” “That’s great! Who are you playing?” “Lee Harvey Oswald. …Hello? Mom?”

So are we supposed to feel bad for CSM, since he didn’t become a famous writer and he was alone his whole life? HE MURDERED PEOPLE.

October 8, 2016

The X-Files 3.23, Wetwired: Let’s Go to the Videotape

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

I had roughly this many videotapes in the '90s, too

I had roughly this many videotapes in the ’90s, too

Summary: It’s after 10 at night in Braddock Heights, Maryland, and a man is digging a big hole to bury another man’s body. You know, just typical springtime fun. Though the digger says the other man’s killing days are over, so I guess he thinks he’s done something good. The digger washes up back at home, but his victim shows up in his house. The digger uses his shovel to kill the victim again, and is dragging his body outside when the police arrive. Both cops look like his victim. The digger attacks one and gets tased in return. There’s a glitch like the diggers watching a faulty TV, and he sees the cops’ real faces. They find a body in the digger’s trunk – it’s his wife, Sarah.

Mulder’s in downtown D.C., meeting with a man who contacted him wanting to talk. He suggests that Mulder look into the five murders the digger (Joseph Patnik) committed. The man denies that he’s one of Mulder’s “sources,” but he won’t clarify who, exactly, he is. He does warn that if Mulder doesn’t look into the crimes, more will die. So Mulder looks into them, visiting Patnik at a psychiatric hospital. He tells Scully that Patnik says he killed the same man over and over, but he wouldn’t die. A babysitter in Patnik’s neighborhood recently attacked the children she was watching, saying she thought they were wolves.

Patnik’s doctor, Stroman, tells the agents that Patnik has been having outbursts, though he’s calm now. They found amphetamines in his system. Suddenly Patnik starts screaming and has to be sedated again. The agents see that Patnik was watching TV when a news story came on about murderous Bosnian dictator Lladoslav Miriskovic (not to be confused with Slobodan Milosevic, I imagine). The agents head to Patnik’s house, wondering why Mulder’s source pointed them toward the case. Scully wonders if they’re being used. Mulder doesn’t think it matters, since they need some answers anyway.

The agents hear screaming from upstairs, but it’s just the movie a couple of preteen boys are watching. As the boys leave, the TV goes snowy – a cable guy appears to be working on the lines. Scully notices the Patniks’ extensive videotape collection, which seems to consists mostly of recorded news broadcasts. Scully wonders if there’s a connection between them and Patnik’s crimes. The agents review some of the tapes their motel rooms that night, and Scully discovers that pieces on Miriskovic aired on each night Patnik committed a murder.

Mulder dismisses the theory that violence on TV leads to violence in real life; it’s pseudoscience. Scully thinks that Patnik’s drug use combined with the violent imagery made him kill. Mulder argues that that’s not enough to make a previously stable person violent – “not even must-see TV can do that.” He heads off to bed while Scully keeps watching the tapes. She passes the time by crunching ice, eventually going outside to get more. She sees Mulder in his car in the parking lot, having a chat with CSM. She sees Mulder hand CSM a videotape and then drive off with him.

The next morning, a woman is washing dishes and watching a game show when her kitchen starts to glitch. She looks in the backyard and sees her husband fooling around with a woman in their hammock. She responds by grabbing a gun. Mulder tells Scully about the latest murder, and she meets him in the car, checking the ashtray first (it’s empty). She asks if he took the car out last night, since it’s parked in a different spot now. Mulder says he got a newspaper that morning.

At the latest crime scene, the agents learn that the killer, Helene, said she saw her husband in the hammock with a blonde. Apparently the blonde was really the couple’s golden retriever. (Thankfully, the dog is unharmed.) Oh, and the man in the hammock isn’t even Helene’s husband; he was a neighbor. Helene was in the wrong backyard. The agents check out the house, which is full of items purchased from home-shopping channels. There are also a bunch of videotapes, which Scully starts watching.

Mulder spots the same cable guy from the Patniks’ house outside. He goes to talk to the guy, who drives off. Mulder then climbs the utility pole himself (seems about right for him) and sees that the worker installed something in a box, possibly a scrambler. Scully suggests that they hand it over to Pendrell for analysis, and Mulder says he’ll take care of it. Instead, he takes the device to the Lone Gunmen, who tell him it adds something between the still pictures transmitted in a normal TV broadcast. It’s emitting some sort of signal.

Scully calls Mulder (no “Mulder, it’s me,” unfortunately), who tells him that someone may be conducting a test. She tells him she talked to Pendrell, who said Mulder never brought him the device. Mulder says he took it somewhere else and tries to explain the device to her. Scully hears clicks on the line, though Mulder doesn’t hear them. She hangs up on her partner and doesn’t answer when he calls back. She unplugs the phone and pulls apart the receiver. Next, she checks a lamp, the underside of the couch, the backs of paintings, and a light socket. As she’s trashing the room, the walls start to glitch.

Seeing headlights outside makes Scully panic, and she goes for her gun when someone knocks at her door. It’s a good thing her shots miss because Mulder’s there with a motel clerk. Scully runs off and still hasn’t turned up in the morning. Mulder calls Maggie, trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation. Skinner arrives and Mulder tells him to keep the investigating officers from treating this like a manhunt for an escaped criminal. He thinks Scully’s suffering from the same psychosis as Patnik and Helene. She’s not responsible for her violent actions. Skinner suggests that it might be a good idea to find her before she hurts anyone.

Mulder puts an X on his window, even though the last time he spoke to Mr. X, he was told there would be no more communication. The Lone Gunmen call to tell Mulder they found something interesting on a tape from Scully’s room. Mulder joins them to learn that there were red and green lights being transmitted between frames in a home-shopping segment. The signal triggers something in the brain, similar to subliminal messages used in movie theaters in the past to make people buy popcorn.

Byers says that American and Russian scientists have been working on this technology for a long time. The guys just don’t know why Mulder wasn’t affected. Mulder asks if color could be a factor – he’s red-green colorblind, so he may not see the signal like others do. As the guys discuss the possibility, Mulder gets a call from the police reporting that Scully may have been found…or rather, her body may have been found. He heads to the morgue, taking a moment to steady himself. Before he can go inside, his source arrives and demands a conversation. He tells Mulder to keep following the evidence before “they” can destroy it.

The body in the morgue is, of course, not Scully’s, and Mulder wants someone to let Maggie know. Maggie hasn’t been answering her phone, so Mulder pays her a visit. She doesn’t want to let him in the house, which makes him realize that Scully’s there. Scully greets her partner with a gun, thinking he’s there to kill her. Mulder explains to her that she’s sick, but Scully thinks he’s been working against her from the beginning. He was one of the people behind her abduction, he put the chip in her neck, and he killed Melissa. Maggie moves in front of Scully, reminding her daughter that she’d never let anyone hurt her. Scully calms and cries in her mother’s arm.

Scully’s admitted to Georgetown Hospital, embarrassed that she believed the things the signal made her think were real. Mulder tells her that the other killers were also affected by events they thought were playing into their worst fears. Patnik, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, wanted to kill Miriskovic because he saw him as a modern-day Hitler. Helene was scared that her husband would cheat on her. Mulder thinks the TV signal turns people’s fears into reality. Scully admits that she thought she saw Mulder talking to CSM as if Mulder were reporting to him. Mulder thinks it’s reasonable that CSM could be behind all of this.

On his way out, Mulder chats with Scully’s doctor, who hasn’t found anything medically wrong with her patient. The only abnormal thing she’s found is high levels of serotonin, which has in the past been linked to mania. Now they’re back to normal. Mulder wonders if the doctor might have suspected that Scully was on amphetamines, but the doctor says that doesn’t fit with the high serotonin levels. Mulder calls Patnik’s psych hospital to talk to Stroman, who’s no longer working there. For some reason, Mulder guesses that his new phone number is the one for the motel where he and Scully were staying.

Mulder returns to the hotel (where the clerk makes him go into the room first this time), but Stroman’s already checked out. While the clerk gets Stroman’s phone records, Mulder finds the butt of a Morley cigarette in an ashtray. He traces a number on the phone records to a house, arriving just before the cable guy shows up and lets himself in. Mulder watches through a window as the cable guy and Stroman wonder where the person they’re supposed to meet is. When Mulder starts to break in, he hears gunshots. Both men are now dead, thanks to Mr. X. Mulder’s unknowingly been working off of his tip the whole time.

Mulder complains that he doesn’t have evidence now, but Mr. X reminds him that he was warned about this happening. Mr. X says he had to move quickly because he was being watched. His orders were always to kill the cable guy and Stroman; he just hoped Mulder would finish his investigation first. Mulder wants to know why the signal was being used in the first place – sales? Voting? Mr. X says “they” won’t stop there.

Mulder calls him a coward for putting Mulder and Scully in danger without risking his own life. Mr. X just smirks and starts to leave. Mulder pulls his gun, but Mr. X isn’t intimidated. He tells Mulder he’s putting his life in danger right now. He knows Mulder won’t kill him – Mulder needs him. Mulder has no choice but to let him go.

A few weeks later, Mulder turns in a report on the case, though he doesn’t have much information to provide. Scully tells him and Skinner that the cable guy didn’t have any record of shady behavior, and the only doctor with a medical license in Stroman’s name was a guy from Falls Church (hometown shout-out!) who died in 1978. Mulder says the killer remains unknown. Said killer sneaks down an alley one night and gets in a car with…CSM. Mr. X assures him that all the tech from the case has been removed, though Mulder still has a transmitter. The man who originally contacted Mulder has been eliminated. And his source, like Mulder said, is still unknown.

Thoughts: I assume the author of Channel X watched this episode.

I was under the impression that you couldn’t by an FBI agent if you were red-green colorblind, but it looks like there’s a special test that they’ll give colorblind applicants, and if you pass it, you’re in. Not that this is the most ridiculous thing to happen on the series anyway.

Scully, it’s okay to change out of your work clothes once you’re back in your motel room.

Helene’s victim’s name is John Gillnitz, a name used multiple times over the course of the series. It’s a combination of the names of three show writers: John Shiban, Vince Gilligan, and Frank Spotnitz.

August 20, 2016

The X-Files 3.16, Apocrypha: And That’s Why You Don’t Try to Make a Deal with CSM

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

Oh, no, Krycek's trapped inside a giant Magic 8 Ball!

Oh, no, Krycek’s trapped inside a giant Magic 8 Ball!

Summary: It’s August 19th, 1953, and a sailor is giving a statement in a Naval hospital in Pearl Harbor. He testifies that his submarine was on a suicide mission. He tells some men what Johansen did to the sick sailors, sacrificing their lives. Now we get to see what happened on the side of the door Johansen wasn’t on – one of the sailors’ eyes turned black and he knocked out another man. That man’s eyes leaked oil on the floor and into a drain.

The sailor in the hospital calls the oil “the enemy” and says it’s what killed his fellow sailors and caused everyone’s burns. He thinks they were sent to guard it. After it burned everyone, it “slithered away” into the sea. He says it’s still down there. The Navy will deny it, but he wants to make sure the truth gets out. And he thinks he can trust the men he’s speaking with to make sure that happens. Since one of them is Bill Mulder and the other is smoking a cigarette, he probably can’t.

Now, 40+ years later, Scully goes Northeast Georgetown Medical Center to find out how Skinner is. She wants to start looking for the shooter, but the two agents she speaks with don’t seem to see that as a priority. Skinner wakes up from surgery long enough to tell Scully that the shooter was someone he’s seen before. Meanwhile, Mulder and Krycek land in D.C. and continue their road trip to Krycek’s digital tape. Krycek hands over a key labeled C.I. but won’t tell Mulder what that means.

Scully demands guards outside Skinner’s hospital room, knowing Skinner’s still in danger from the shooter. Also in danger: Mulder and Krycek, who are being followed. The car following them forces them off the highway, knocking out Mulder. Krycek is pulled from the car, but he can’t give the other men the tape they’re after. Mulder wakes up to see a flash of light and hear shouts from the men.

Pendrell summons Scully to an FBI lab to let her know he’s gotten some of the shooter’s hair fibers, so he can run his DNA against other criminals in D.C. Elsewhere, CSM meets with a doctor treating two men for massive radiation burns. The doctor’s never seen anything like this before, but CSM has. He tells the doctor to have the bodies destroyed even though the men are still alive.

Mulder wakes up in a hospital with Scully by his side, because they are married. He fills her in on the developments with Krycek and the flash of light he saw. She tells him about Skinner and shares her theory that his shooter was also Melissa’s killer. The hair fibers do seem to match up. Meanwhile, the Syndicate meets to discuss the possibility that they’ve had an information leak. Their “associate” in D.C. has been asked to join them and explain himself.

Scully visits Skinner and gives him the news that he was shot by the person who killed Melissa. Skinner tells her that he was urged to stop investigating Melissa’s murder, which makes Scully think that the government doesn’t want them to find the killer. Skinner knows where he saw the shooter before – he was in the stairwell with Krycek when Krycek attacked him and stole the digital tape. Skinner warns Scully not to let her anger get out of control. In fact, it might be better if she steps away. But she knows that’s what they want.

Scully tries to go through proper channels to request a search for Krycek. She thinks he’s key to both of the cases she’s dealing with. Mulder gets his hands on Gauthier’s diving suit and a sample of the oil found on it. It’s supposedly just diesel oil, but Mulder’s figured out that it’s what’s infecting people. Of course, he describes it as some sort of alien substance that turns people into killers, so Scully finds it a little unbelievable. Mulder thinks Krycek’s been infected, so they need to find out what the oil wants.

The Lone Gunmen are having a lovely afternoon ice skating…and also keeping an eye on some men in trenchcoats. Frohike retrieves an envelope from a storage locker, and the guys take it to Mulder. Unfortunately, the digital tape that should be in there is gone. That’s because Krycek has it, and he wants to trade it to CSM for something.

Sometime later, CSM goes to New York to meet with the Syndicate; they’re upset that he moved the salvaged UFO without their knowledge. He should have just taken it to Nevada, “like the others.” WMM wants to know why CSM went after Skinner, and why the shooting was so sloppy – there were witnesses, so the shooter’s face is out there. CSM takes no responsibility for the shooter’s screw-ups, but WMM orders him to take responsibility for getting rid of him.

Frohike is able to see indentations from writing on the envelope, and from there Mulder’s able to use a pencil to shade in a New York phone number. He calls it and reaches the Syndicate. Mulder tells WMM that he got the number from Krycek, so WMM asks to meet with him. The FBI finally IDs the shooter, Luis Cardinal, but since he entered the U.S. illegally, there’s no paper trail on him. He’s probably already left the country. The FBI thinks they’ve hit a dead end, but Scully won’t give up.

Mulder heads to Central Park – alone, at night – to meet with WMM, because he’s not as smart as he seems. WMM says he’ll consider handing Krycek over to Mulder if Mulder tells him what he knows. WMM confirms that the aircraft recovered from the ocean was a UFO (a Foo Fighter) shot down by American fighter planes during WWI. No one’s sure what happened to the sub that went down to recover it back in the ’50s. Mulder says he knows what killed the sailors, but he won’t share the info until he gets Krycek.

WMM wonders why Mulder didn’t kill Krycek before, when he had the chance. Mulder says he wants the tape, since Krycek has been selling its secrets. He realizes that WMM doesn’t really know where Krycek is, and was hoping Mulder could give him information. WMM replies that “anyone can be gotten to.” Mulder hurries off to call Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) and warn her that Skinner’s in danger. She heads to his hospital room and discovers that the guards she had posted there are gone – and so is Skinner.

The guards have Skinner in an ambulance, supposedly to transport him to another hospital. Scully hitches a ride with them, which allows her to notice something strange about Skinner’s IV bag. (I don’t think it’s hooked up properly.) She ambushes Cardinal, and a chase ensues through the streets of D.C. Scully finally corners Cardinal, who begs for his life, telling her she really wants Krycek. The police arrive and arrest Cardinal, so that was anticlimactic.

Scully calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”) to let him know he was right to be worried about Skinner – Cardinal was going to kill him. She relays the message that Krycek is going to an abandoned missile site in North Dakota. Mulder asks her to meet him at the airport so they can go to North Dakota together and check out the salvaged UFO.

The two head to Black Crow, North Dakota, and start checking out silos. There are only 200, so I’m sure it won’t take long! They hear someone approaching in the first one they check out, and while they’re hiding, they come across bodies covered in burns. Men in military gear chase them through tunnels, eventually surrounding them just before they can access a door marked 1013 that has a warning about radioactive materials.

The agents are taken outside just as CSM arrives. Mulder demands answers, but CSM claims he doesn’t know what happened to Krycek after his disappearance months earlier. After the agents are gone, CSM and the military go back inside to remove the bodies. CSM smirks at the door to room 1013, behind which Krycek is leaking oil onto a spiral symbol. The symbol absorbs the oil completely.

Back in D.C., Skinner’s out of the hospital and back to work. Mulder thanks him for keeping up the investigation into Melissa’s murder, but Skinner says he was mistaken about it. Mulder finds Scully at Melissa’s grave, and she repeats what Johansen said about the dead speaking to us from beyond the grave. Maybe that’s what our consciences are.

Scully thought she would feel closure once Cardinal was brought to justice, but now she knows that “no punishment is ever enough.” Mulder tells her that they might have found a different kind of justice – Cardinal is dead. The two discuss Krycek, and whether the Syndicate got to him. Scully wonders if we bury the dead alive, like Johansen said. Well, in Krycek’s case, it sure seems that way, since he’s stuck in a silo, trapped eight stories underground, behind door 1013. See you later, buddy!

Thoughts: The Syndicate’s phone number ends in 1012, not 1013. I feel cheated.

Oh, show. No one in D.C. would say “the D.C. airport.”

I’ve been watching Game of Thrones, so a town called Black Crow makes me giggle. Does Jon Snow live there?

July 2, 2016

The X-Files 3.9, Nisei: All Aboard the Alien Autopsy Crazy Train

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 12:41 pm by Jenn

Look at him. You know he's thinking this is one of the coolest moments of his life

Look at him. You know he’s thinking this is one of the coolest moments of his life

Summary: A group of kids riding their bikes wave as a train passes by on its way to drop off a train car. That night, a man emerges from the car and leaves as some other men board the train. The inside of the car has been turned into a medical facility, and the men speak Japanese while they perform some sort of operation. Everything seems fairly normal, except for the fact that their patient’s blood is green. Also, then some men come in and shoot all the doctors, so I guess that’s not normal. The shooters bag up the patient, which…I’m not saying it’s an alien, but it certainly looks like one.

Mulder’s having a lazy morning in his office, watching a mail-order video of an alien autopsy. Scully scoffs that “it’s even hokier than the one they aired on the Fox network.” They study a recording of the train operation, wondering why they can’t actually see the alien being autopsied. The screen goes fuzzy just as the men with guns arrive. Mulder got the video from someone in Allentown, Pennsylvania, who says he got the feed off of a satellite dish in the middle of the night.

Road trip to Allentown! They visit the headquarters of Rat Tail Productions and quickly discover that the house has been broken into. Mr. Rat Tail is tied up on the bed, dead for just a few minutes. Mulder spots someone running out of the house and chases him through some backyards and down the street. When Mulder finally catches him, the man pulls some self-defense moves on him and kicks his gun away. Mulder has smartly ensured that he can’t lose his gun, so he easily recovers it. He asks the man his name, but the man will only respond in Japanese.

Scully meets up with her partner at the Allentown police station, complaining that there’s no Japanese interpreter to help them question the man. Skinner joins them and announces that they have to release the man – he’s a high-ranking Japanese diplomat named Kazuo Sakurai. Mulder half-lies that they’re in Allentown working on a case of video piracy. Skinner advises him to return to D.C. Scully, however, can’t shake the case – why would a diplomat be in a dead video producer’s house?

Mulder still has Sakurai’s bag, so he and Scully check out the contents. They find satellite photos and a list of Allentown-area members of the Mutual UFO Network. One name, Betsy Hagopian, is circled. Mulder takes the photos to the Lone Gunmen, who tell him he’s found some espionage pictures of a boat the Japanese are looking for called the Talapus. Frohike’s surprised that Sakurai was so reckless with his findings. The ship is now in Newport News, Virginia. Meanwhile, a Japanese man gets in a car in D.C. and is strangled.

Scully pays a visit to Betsy Hagopian’s house, meeting two women who claim they know her – she’s one of them. The women knew Mr. Rat Tail (real name: Steven); he was a member of their chapter. Scully’s confused about why they say they know her, too. She’s surprised when they guess that she had an unexplained experience in her life last year. They tell her to wait for the rest of their chapter to arrive.

While Mulder starts looking into what happened to the Talapus, the women in Allentown tell Scully that all of them have been “taken.” They remember bits and pieces of being in the same bright place Scully was kept during her abduction. They think Scully should consider undergoing regression hypnosis to recover all of her memories. Scully thinks she doesn’t want to be a part of their book club or whatever.

Mulder runs around the shipyard for a while, letting himself onto a boat where he finds a work shirt from the Talapus. Some soldiers arrive and storm the boat, so Mulder jumps overboard. In Allentown, Scully doesn’t understand why she can’t remember the MUFON women when they can remember her. They tell her that’s normal. Scully remembers being on a table with some sort of tool stuck in her belly (which looks pregnant). The MUFON women ask about her neck implant, since all of them have them.

Scully decides it’s time to leave, but realizes she hasn’t seen Betsy, the person she came to talk to. The women take her to a hospital, where Betsy’s being treated for cancer. They think it’s connected to her abduction, and they’ll all eventually suffer the same fate. In Newport News, Mulder gets back to dry land and peeks into a warehouse. A bunch of people in white Hazmat suits are working on something under a big clear tarp.

Mulder heads home and finds his door open a crack and his electricity out. Skinner’s there, and he tells Mulder that someone broke in before he got there. Sakurai was released the previous night but was found dead this morning in a canal. The Japanese government thinks someone killed him for his briefcase, which was never entered into evidence. Skinner’s smart enough to know that Mulder took it, but Mulder’s smart enough to have left it with Scully. Skinner tells him to get it back – they’re dealing with something bigger than even the FBI, and he doesn’t want to be involved.

The next day, Mulder goes to see his buddy Senator Matheson, who tells him to return the satellite photos and make everything go away. Mulder refuses – he’s seen something he wants to follow up on. Matheson tells him that four Japanese doctors were murdered in Nashville while participating in a highly classified project. Mulder figures they were working on the alien autopsy. Matheson gives Mulder their names and warns that he doesn’t have much time to expose whatever’s going on. Mulder wonders what that whatever is. “Monsters begetting monsters,” Matheson replies.

Scully returns to D.C. and tells Mulder about the MUFON women. Her skepticism about the situation is slipping, since the women seem to know so much about her. She spots a picture Mulder’s looking at of a group of Japanese scientists from World War II. Scully recognizes one of the men, Takeo Ishimaru, though Mulder says he died in 1965. He was the commander of the 731, an elite section of Japan’s medical corps, which performed experiments that would have made Mengele proud. Four of those doctors were the men murdered in Nashville, possibly by the U.S. government.

Mulder thinks the doctors were trying to create an alien/human hybrid. Scully scoffs, but Mulder reminds her of all the things she’s seen, including the tunnel full of files and her implant. Why can’t she believe? “Believing’s the easy part, Mulder. I just need more than you. I need proof,” she says. “You think that believing is easy?” he asks.

Mulder has figured out what the Japanese boat was tracking: a UFO that’s now in a warehouse in Newport News. He thinks that’s how the alien in the video got to Earth. He shows Scully the list of names from Matheson, saying he got them from someone who, like her, wants proof, but who’s also willing to believe. Scully takes an implant to the wonderful, lovable Agent Pendrell. He determines that it’s a microprocessor like those used in brake systems and video games. Recently, one was developed to harness disabled people’s brainwaves to help them use computers.

Mulder’s now sneaking around somewhere new, a rail yard in West Virginia. A van arrives and some Japanese men bring the possible alien to the train car where the autopsy was performed. The train leaves the station, and Mulder tries to run after it, then I guess realizes he can’t outrun a train. In Mulder’s office, Scully rewatches the video, pausing on a shot of Ishimaru. She remembers him leaning over her during her abduction.

We get a rare “Scully, it’s me” when Mulder calls from the rail yard to tell her he saw the Japanese men putting the alien on a train. She tells him Ishimaru’s on the video, but that’s not how she recognized him. Inside the train station, an American man knocks out one of the Japanese men from the rail yard. (More about the American guy in the next episode.) Mulder tries to get a seat on a train to Vancouver so he can meet up with the other train, but he’s too late.

Scully goes back to Mulder’s apartment and encounters Mr. X. He warns her that Mulder’s in danger and can’t get on the train he’s tracking. Scully tries to blow him off, reminding X that he’s lied to her and Mulder before. But Mr. X is insistent, so Scully calls Mulder and tells him not to get on the train – “they” know where he is. Mulder’s found a bridge he can jump off of to land on the train, and no matter how firmly Scully tells him not to do it, it, of course, does. To be continued…

Thoughts: Poor, doomed Agent Pendrell. He deserved so much better.

Writing “Some soldiers arrive and storm the boat, so Mulder jumps overboard” doesn’t even faze me. Like, of course he does. Why wouldn’t he? It’s the Mulder thing to do.

Also, for an FBI agent, Mulder isn’t very good at being stealthy. Maybe Mr. X can give him some lessons.

May 14, 2016

The X-Files 3.2, Paper Clip: Let’s Make a Deal

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:36 pm by Jenn

"That's not the Uber I ordered..."

“That’s not the Uber I ordered…”

Summary: Hosteen is voicing over again, this time about animals being symbolic to the Navajo. Mulder’s recovery reminded them of the Gila monster, which healed a man by putting his parts back together. Lightning and thunder brought him back to life. After Mulder was better, the Navajo learned from other tribes that something big had happened. He tells the story of White Buffalo Woman, who taught Native Americans how to live virtuously and pray. Then she turned into a white buffalo and returned to the heavens. The day Mulder was healed, a white buffalo was born, an omen that big changes are coming.

Back in Mulder’s apartment, Scully and Skinner are still facing off. He insists that he’s trying to help her, but he’s not about to put down his weapon. Fortunately, Mulder arrives to serve as Scully’s backup. Skinner finally gives up his gun, and Scully explains that she was warned that someone she trusted would try to kill her. Skinner shows them the recording, which Mulder says CSM killed Bill over. Mulder says, “I was a dead man. Now I’m back,” which would be a great tagline for a probably bad movie.

Mulder explains what’s on the cassette, then tries to make Skinner give it to Scully. Skinner points out that it’s the only leverage they have against the conspirators, so they need to protect it. Mulder backs down and takes Scully away to search out more truths. She tells him that she assured Teena that he would be okay, even though she had no proof she was right. She just knew. Meanwhile, Maggie arrives at the hospital where she thinks Scully has been brought in. She’s shocked to hear that Melissa’s the daughter who was shot. She’s in an induced coma, and the doctors can’t do anything more for her except monitor her.

Scully and Mulder take the picture of Bill and the conspirators to the Lone Gunmen. Byers brings up Operation Paper Clip, a World War II agreement with Nazi war criminals that gave America access to their scientific knowledge. Langly IDs a man in the picture as one of those war criminals, Victor Klemper. He experimented on Jewish people, and some of his tests led to space travel. Byers notes that the picture was taken in 1973, but Operation Paper Clip was supposed to have ended in the 1950s, which means there’s yet another secret the American government has been keeping. Langly reports that Klemper is alive and still living in the U.S.

Frohike arrives, happy to see Mulder alive. He gives Scully the news that Melissa’s in the hospital, and she immediately realizes that her sister’s shooting was meant for her. Mulder talks her into staying away from the hospital. CSM and his Syndicate have realized their mistake (well, Krycek’s mistake), and WMM wants to know who will fix it. He warns that Scully believes that Mulder is still alive. CSM is sure he’s not, and still has his buddies snowed that he has the cassette. They question that, asking to see the tape. CSM claims it’s someplace safe, but he’ll bring it to them tomorrow.

Mulder and Scully find Klemper in a greenhouse, and after some blathering about history, he’s all, “We did good work! So what if innocent people died?” Mulder thinks Klemper knows why Bill was killed. Klemper replies that it was probably in their best interest. Mulder shows him the picture, but Klemper hesitates to reveal any more truths. The only help he’ll give is asking if Scully knows the formula for Napier’s Constant, then revealing that the photo was taken outside the Strughold Mining Company in West Virginia. They’re on their own for the rest.

As soon as the agents leave, Klemper calls WMM to tell him that Mulder visited, but Klemper didn’t tell him anything. Now the Syndicate knows that Mulder is alive. Maggie spots a man in a suit outside Melissa’s hospital room, then gets a visit from Hosteen. Scully sent him to comfort Maggie in her place. Maggie allows him to pray for her daughter, who she thinks is getting better. Mulder and Scully head to the now-abandoned Strughold facility, which holds a bunch of doors that can only be opened by keypad codes. Napier’s Constant, 27828, opens one of the doors. Before Mulder goes through it, Scully wants him to think about the possibility that they might discover something bad about Bill.

Skinner summons CSM to the FBI building to report that he may have found the tape. However, it could have fallen into other hands. CSM isn’t interested in making a deal. He gets more and more frustrated as Skinner stays calm, saying they’ll talk again. Skinner, basically: “I know you do bad things.” CSM, basically: “Then maybe I’ll do bad things to you.” Mulder and Scully go underground, finding a tunnel full of file cabinets. The files all seem to be medical, and are helpfully stored in alphabetical order. In each one, Scully finds a birth certificate, smallpox vaccination certificate, and old tissue collection cassette.

Mulder asks what year Scully was born, then looks up her file. The tissue sample is recent, judging from the plastic container used. Mulder then looks for Samantha’s file, discovering that the label with her name has been placed over a label with his name – the file was originally his. The lights suddenly go out, and Mulder runs out of the tunnel to the front of the building. The windows are full of lights. In the tunnel, Scully sees something alien-like skittering around. As she runs away from it, Mulder runs out the back of the building in time to see a large spacecraft flying over it. Scully sees another alien in the tunnel, standing in front of more light.

Cars approach the building, so Mulder goes back in to retrieve Scully. He dodges bullets on his way back to the tunnel and reunites with his partner. She’s found a way out, and they’re able to escape the building undetected. In the morning, Skinner meets them at a diner in Craiger, Maryland, and tells them he has a plan to protect them: He’ll turn over the tape and get them reinstated at the FBI. Mulder refuses to give up the cassette even if it means saving his own life. He thinks the tape holds an explanation for the records they found.

Skinner wonders what Mulder’s hoping to find. Mulder replies that he wants to know why Bill was killed, what happened to Samantha, and why Scully was targeted. Scully, however, is on Skinner’s side – she would rather be safe and see Melissa than get answers that only Mulder wants. Since Skinner hasn’t been able to copy the tape, they’ll have to hand over the only version they have. Skinner promises to turn state’s evidence if his deal isn’t honored. Mulder lets Scully have the final vote in the matter. She tells Skinner to make the deal but not hand over the tape until Mulder okays it.

The agents leave the diner together as Hosteen voices over that he prayed for Melissa for two days. She improved, but Hosteen learned that the white buffalo calf stopped nursing. Then the mother buffalo died. Hosteen knows that sometimes, one creature must be sacrificed so another can live. Skinner arrives at the hospital with a message from Scully so her mother knows she’s all right. The man in the suit is still outside Melissa’s room, and Skinner decides to find out why. He chases him to a stairwell, where he and the man engage in some hand-to-hand combat. Krycek joins in, beats on Skinner a little, and steals the cassette.

Krycek and his criminal buddies then stop at a convenience store in D.C. to get some drinks. Krycek’s left alone in the car, growing suspicious when the other guys stop to look at him from the store’s doorway. He notices that the dashboard clock is flashing 12:00. Unlike on a VCR, where this meant that you didn’t know how to set the clock, Krycek realizes that this means his life is in danger. He takes off running as the car explodes. His buddies should be a lot more worried about how they’re going to explain this to CSM.

Mulder and Scully return to Klemper’s greenhouse, but instead encounter WMM. Klemper’s dead, and Mulder knows it wasn’t due to a bad heart. He recognizes WMM from the photo. WMM tells them about the spacecraft found in New Mexico in 1947 and the body retrieved from it. Mulder puts together his talk of Joseph Mengele with his mention that Klemper made flower hybrids to figure out that Klemper was trying to create a human-alien hybrid. The bodies in the boxcar in the desert were his failed human test subjects.

Scully denies that the technology was available; DNA wasn’t even identified until 1944. WMM says that Bill was in charge of collecting genetic data on Americans in case they needed to be identified in the event of nuclear holocaust. Mulder realizes that, due to the DNA samples collected from people who received smallpox vaccinations, Klemper had access to every person’s record from 1950 forward. Scully thinks WMM is just making stuff up, but WMM says he has no reason to lie. Scully, basically: “Whatever, Nazi.” Mulder notes that Scully’s file was in the mine – the records are of abductees.

Mulder asks WMM why Samantha was taken. WMM explains that Bill threatened to expose the project, so Samantha was taken as insurance. Mulder wants to know why he wasn’t taken. WMM can’t say, but he warns that Mulder’s still in danger for threatening to expose the project: “You have become your father.” Mulder wonders why WMM has told him all this. WMM replies that Mulder wanted to know it, didn’t he? He says there’s still more – more than Mulder will ever know.

Krycek calls CSM to report that he’s alive and has the cassette, but CSM will never find him. CSM reports to the Syndicate that Krycek is dead and the cassette was destroyed in the car explosion. He’s still going to meet with the FBI, even though there’s no deal to make. Mulder goes back to his mother’s house to find out if Bill ever asked her if she had a favorite child. Teena says she couldn’t choose – it was Bill’s choice. She always hated him for it, and still does, even after his death.

CSM meets Skinner in his office, hiding his amusement when Skinner bluffs that he has the cassette. Skinner promises to hand it over after Mulder and Scully are reinstated. CSM knows Skinner can’t make the deal, so he suggests a few ways Skinner’s life might end. Skinner calls in Hosteen and announces that there’s a new deal: If anything happens to Mulder or Scully, Hosteen will reveal everything on the tape, which he’s memorized. (He’s also, in the Navajo storytelling tradition, told it to 20 more Navajo.) “Welcome to the wonderful world of high technology,” Skinner gloats.

But we don’t get a happy ending: Scully finally made it to Melissa, but the damage from her shooting was too extensive and Melissa didn’t survive surgery. Scully laments that her sister died for her. She now agrees with Mulder that there’s no justice, though Mulder thinks they’re dealing with something bigger: fate. They’ve both been reinstated at the FBI, and though they’ve both suffered recent losses, they want to go back to work. Mulder thinks they can still find truth through the X-Files. Scully tells him she’s heard the truth – now she wants answers.

Thoughts: I guess I should call CSM and his buddies the Consortium, but apparently the Syndicate is used a lot. Also, it’s just easier to type.

I tried to look up Napier’s Constant, but I found a bunch of math and it made my head hurt and I had to take a nap.

For the record, Samantha’s tissue cassette is plastic, which means the sample was taken more recently. Make if that what you will.

May 7, 2016

The X-Files 3.1, The Blessing Way: In Space, No One Can Hear You Blather

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

I've seen pretentious college plays just like this

I’ve seen pretentious college plays just like this

Summary: As the fire burns in the boxcar in the New Mexico desert, Hosteen voices over that there’s an old Navajo saying about how something only lives as long as the last person who remembers it. That means trusting memory over history. “History serves only those who seek to control it,” and we should beware people who want to put out the flame of memory: “Their false memory is written in the blood of those who may remember, and of those who seek the truth.”

CSM sends his minions into the Hosteens’ house to hold them at gunpoint while he demands to know where Mulder is. Hosteen says he’s out of luck. Later, Scully arrives, after the others have left, and Hosteen and Eric (who’s been beaten up) send her to the smoldering boxcar. She yells Mulder’s name, but there’s no response.

Scully leaves the reservation, followed by a helicopter that stops her on the road. CSM’s minions detain her and ask for the M.J. documents. She lets them take the files, but they want a digital recording, too, which Scully says Mulder has. When she returns to FBI headquarters, she’s suspended for insubordination. She turns in her badge and gun but won’t answer any more questions. As far as she knows, Mulder is dead.

Skinner pretends this has been difficult for him, too. Scully’s upset that the people who killed Bill and probably killed Mulder are going to get away with it. Skinner argues that the FBI is just following protocol. Scully goes straight to Mulder’s desk and retrieves a cassette case hidden there. It’s supposed to contain the digital recording, but the box is empty.

In New York, a group of shady men meets to discuss whether their 40 years of secret-keeping have been disturbed. CSM arrives to announce that they’re still in control, though there’s still a problem that needs to be handled. Mulder’s dead, and no one will ever find his body. The stolen files have been recovered, and anyone working on their super-top-secret projects can keep working.

Scully goes to her mother’s house for comfort, worrying that she’s made a mistake and her father would be ashamed of her. Hosteen voices over that some boys came by to tell Eric that they saw buzzards in the quarry near the boxcar. Hosteen says that either means something has died or that death is close. A group goes out to look, finding Mulder buried under a pile of rocks, still alive thanks to being underground.

Mulder is taken to a hogan and people are summoned for a ceremony called the Blessing Way Chant. Hosteen says this is the only way Mulder’s life can be saved. Meanwhile, a drunk Frohike visits Scully to pay his respects. He thinks Scully will continue Mulder’s work, but she doesn’t think she can do so once she’s pushed out of her job. Frohike shows her a news article about the Thinker’s “execution-style” murder. Scully notes that he was killed after Mulder disappeared.

In the hogan, the ceremony is underway, though Hosteen worries that Mulder’s body will give up before they can heal him. Mulder’s…spirit, I guess, floats in space, surrounded by men in shadows. Deep Throat appears and says some flowery stuff about truth, then tells Mulder not to look into the abyss. We see a smoke bomb being dropped into the boxcar sometime in the past, and the aliens inside running for cover.

Next up at Mulder’s space funeral: Bill, who’s unhappy that he had to lie to his son for so long. Now his lies have put Mulder’s life at risk. Mulder is the memory, and it lives in him, so if he dies, the truth will, too. Mulder asks if Samantha is there. Bill says no, then continues that Mulder needs to keep seeking the truth.

Scully goes back to FBI headquarters, entering with a tour group instead of through the employees’ entrance. A security guard thinks she’s set off the metal detector because of something like a shirt pin, not for any sketchy reasons. Scully meets with Skinner, telling him that she thinks the Thinker’s death is connected to Mulder’s disappearance. She’d like to find out if the ballistics match the bullet that killed Bill. If so, Mulder didn’t kill his father.

Skinner says that the police who investigated the Thinker’s murder would have said something if their tests had turned up anything the FBI needed to know. Scully says she’s trying to cooperate with the investigation, but Skinner thinks she’s trying to earn her way back from suspension. He’s unhappy that he’s supposed to find the cassette, wondering if it was worth Mulder’s life. If Scully really wants to help with the investigation, she’ll find the recording.

After Scully leaves the office, CSM enters from the next room and asks if Skinner talked to Scully about the tape. Skinner says Scully claims not to have it. CSM says that’s “unfortunate.” As Scully leaves the building, she decides to go back through the metal detector to see why she set it off. When the security guard runs a wand over her, it goes off at the back off her neck.

Scully runs to a bureau doctor and gets an x-ray that shows something small in her neck. There’s also a small scar over the area. The doctor thinks she was probably hit with buckshot in the line of duty and didn’t realize it. After three days of unconsciousness, Mulder wakes up and starts to recover his strength.

The doctor removes what looks like a computer chip from Scully’s neck. She takes it to her sister, Melissa, who thinks she’s repressed the memory of where it came from. Melissa suggests that Scully see someone who could help her remember, but Scully refuses. Melissa’s upset that her sister never sees the world any way but scientifically. Her grief keeps her from accessing her true feelings. Melissa asks Scully to do this for her.

So Scully goes to see Dr. Mark Pomerantz, a psychiatrist who wants to hypnotize her so she can access her memories. She remembers being afraid that she would die, but Pomerantz thinks someone took care of her. Scully recalls lights and loud sounds, but not the details of whatever procedure she underwent. Her captors seemed concerned about her well-being.

Pomerantz wonders if someone from the FBI was there. “I had to trust them,” Scully says. She couldn’t resist them. Pomerantz accidentally brings Scully out of her hypnotic state, and she decides it’s not working. She heads home, spotting Skinner leaving her building.

On the reservation, Hosteen tells Mulder that he’s okay to leave, but he can’t bathe or change clothes for a few days. Mulder jokes that his social life will be affected. He asked for sunflower seeds while he was sick, so someone has brought him some. Hosteen tells him that he was dreaming, but also visiting the origins of the reservation. He wipes out a sand drawing and declares the ceremony over.

Scully calls Skinner to ask why he went by her place, but he denies being there. That’s because CSM is in his office. Mulder voices over about being on the bridge between two worlds and seeking truth. Now he’s back, but he’s afraid he’s too late. Scully has been dreaming this just before Bill’s funeral in Massachusetts. She tells Teena that she has a strong feeling that Mulder is still alive and will be found.

One of CSM’s buddies is also at the funeral, and he listens in as Scully tells Teena she’ll keep her updated. The man, who is often called the Well-Manicured Man (WMM from here on out), then pulls Scully aside to ask about Mulder. He says he’s part of a “global consortium” that’s very interested in the recording – interested enough to commit murder over it. He’s sure Mulder’s dead, and he wants to warn Scully that her life could soon end, too.

Scully starts to walk away, but WMM continues that she’ll be killed in one of two ways. Either she’ll be killed in her own home with an unregistered weapon that will be left behind, or she’ll be asked to meet with someone she trusts who’s luring her into a trap. She’d be wise to stay somewhere else right now.

Scully wonders why she’s a target. “You want something they don’t – justice,” WMM replies. She wants to know why he’s helping her. He says his colleagues are being impulsive, and her death would draw “unnecessary attention” to the consortium. Scully says he’s really protecting himself. WMM says the consortium predicts the future, “and the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Teena comes home from her husband’s funeral to find her not-dead-after-all son in her house. He shows her some pictures of Bill from 1972 and asks who the men are with him. Teena doesn’t remember their names, but one is Deep Throat and one is WMM. Mulder thinks they have something to do with what happened to Samantha.

Scully gets home as Melissa calls to find out what happened with Pomerantz. Scully says something weird happened, then tells Melissa she can come over. As soon as end their conversation, someone else calls, then immediately hangs up. Scully calls Melissa to say she’ll come to Melissa’s instead, but her sister’s already on her way over.

As Scully leaves her building, Skinner arrives and tells her to get in his car. Remembering what WMM said, Scully’s wary about going anywhere with someone she trusts, but she has a gun with her, so she gets in the car. They go to Mulder’s apartment, where Scully pulls her weapon and says she knows what’s going on. She asks who sent Skinner after her, but he doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

Melissa arrives at Scully’s apartment, which two men have broken into. She’s immediately shot…by Krycek. He realizes he shot the wrong sister and leaves. At Mulder’s, Skinner tells Scully he’s not going to kill her – he wants to give her the recording. He took it from Mulder’s desk before she could. They hear someone outside the door, and the distraction allows Skinner to pull his own gun for a stand-off with Scully. To be continued (again)…

Thoughts: “Okay, David, in this episode, you’re going to lie around half-naked under tree branches while men chant over you and dead people tell you not to go into the light. Also, sometimes you’re in space. Action!”

Deep Throat, are you getting paid by the word? Just say, “It’s not your time yet.” There’s no need to be so dramatic.

Skinner needs some sort of code to use with Mulder and Scully that means, “I’m going to say I’m not helping you, but I really am.”

April 30, 2016

The X-Files 2.25, Anasazi: Kill Bill

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:38 pm by Jenn

This is just how the first season of "Lost" ended

This is just how the first season of “Lost” ended

Summary: It’s April 9th, and on a Navajo reservation in Two Grey Hills, New Mexico, a young man is woken in the middle of the night by an earthquake. In the morning, the man’s grandfather tells him to leave the snakes alone when he goes out riding. The grandfather, Albert Hosteen, thinks the earth has something to say. The grandson, Eric, rides his motorcycle to some red rocks and sees something white underground where the dirt has been displaced. Eric brings his family out to see what he’s brought home, but Albert says it should be returned: “They will be coming.” The thing Eric found is a skeleton, and if I had to guess, I’d say it belonged to an alien.

In Dover, Delaware, a man is ready a book about conspiracy theories while his computer does some hacking. In the United Nations building in New York, an Italian man learns that the “MJ documents” have been breached. Japanese and German men confer, then speak to CSM. He tells some minions that he’s gotten the phone call he never wanted to receive. While masked men break into the hacker’s apartment, Mulder gets a visit from the Lone Gunmen, who are trying to dodge a killer named Garnet who’s after the hacker, Kenneth Soona. He’s the “Thinker” they’ve worked with before. The Gunmen think Soona will try to contact Mulder.

A shot is fired nearby, and Mulder runs to an apartment in another hallway where a woman has just shot her husband of 30 years. The Gunmen decide this is too weird for them and leave. Mulder goes to the U.S. Botanic Garden and meets with Soona, who thinks he’s found the Defense Department’s original files about aliens. This means he has information on Roswell and MJ-12. He didn’t think he’d be successful in the hack, so he didn’t take any precautions with his identity. Soona gives all his downloaded info to Mulder, asking him to promise to make the conspirators answer to the people.

Mulder takes the information (on a cassette – awwww, remember cassettes?) to his office the next day, telling Scully he’s about to uncover “the biggest lie of all.” He’s found the Holy Grail of the DOD’s secrets. Too bad it’s all encrypted and Mulder can’t read it. Scully thinks it’s written in Navajo, telling Mulder that the Allies used the language in World War II and the Japanese couldn’t interpret it. Mulder tells her to find someone who can. Scully’s worried about him since he hasn’t been sleeping. Mulder goes to see Skinner, who wants to know if the rumor’s true that Mulder has received sensitive files. Mulder says no, then tries to leave. When Skinner tries to make him stay, they get into a fistfight.

Scully’s summoned to Skinner’s office the next day for a meeting about Mulder and Skinner’s fight. She doesn’t know why Mulder’s acting so weird, since he only said he’s not sleeping well. One of the attendees wonders if Scully would lie to protect her partner – the partner she was originally supposed to discredit. She’s warned that she could be fired if she tries to protect Mulder. Scully doesn’t seem too worried.

Up in Martha’s Vineyard, Bill Mulder gets a visit from CSM, who was never supposed to contact him again. Bill’s annoyed that the MJ documents weren’t destroyed decades ago. CSM confirms that Mulder has them, as Soona has come forward. Bill’s name is in the files, and he doesn’t want Mulder to know. CSM thinks the encryption will protect him. Bill wonders if Mulder will also be protected. CSM urges Bill to deny everything if his involvement is ever revealed.

Scully finds Mulder napping in his apartment, trying to sleep off a fever. She tells him she covered for him at work and warns that Skinner’s looking for a reason to punish him. She’d like to know what she’s lying to keep secret. She wants to know if the cassette is worth Mulder risking everything. Mulder angrily says he’ll tell her more when the encryption is broken. Scully says she’s meeting someone soon, but she needs assurance that she’s doing the right thing. Mulder doesn’t answer as he puts a masking-tape X on his window. She asks why he attacked Skinner, but Mulder doesn’t know.

Scully meets with someone from the Navajo Nation who can only recognize a few words (“goods/merchandise” and “vaccination”). She says they stand out because they’re modern words. She has someone in mind who can help with the rest. Bill calls Mulder to summon him to the family home, though leaving D.C. will mean Mulder can’t meet with Mr. X. Scully goes back to Mulder’s apartment, where a shot is fired through the window that still has an X on it.

Up at the Mulder compound, Bill tells his son that back when he had to make choices, they were complicated; now they’re clear. He’s proud that Mulder has never joined up with people who might change his doctrines. Once Mulder hears the words, he’ll understand. Mulder asks for details, and Bill clarifies that the word is “merchandise.” He goes to the bathroom to take some medication, not realizing that our old buddy Krycek is lying in wait in the bathtub. Mulder hears a shot and runs to check on his father, who uses his dying breath to ask for forgiveness.

Mulder calls Scully to report that Bill has been killed. Scully wonders if Mulder’s responsible, and when he says he isn’t, she tells him to run away. Mulder’s worried about that making him look guilty. Scully points out that he’ll look guilty no matter what – he’s being set up. Mulder wants to meet her at his apartment, but Scully knows that’s not safe, considering the shot that came through the window while she was there. Instead, the agents reconvene at her place, and Scully realizes that Mulder’s condition is worsening.

In the morning, Mulder (whose personal doctor helpfully removed his clothes during the night) wakes up alone and finds his gun missing. Scully’s taken it to the FBI’s firearms unit to see if it was used to kill Bill. Mulder thinks Scully still suspects that he killed his father. Scully says she wants to be able to give Skinner answers. Mulder yells at her for making reports on him over the past two years. “You have my files and you have my gun,” he says. “Don’t ask me for my trust.”

Scully retrieves the bullet that was fired through Mulder’s window, spotting a man wheeling what looks like an oxygen tank to a van outside. Whatever the tank actually holds, a new one has been hooked up in the building’s boiler room. That night, Mulder spots someone outside his building and chases him. It’s Krycek, who manages to lose a fight to Mulder despite the fact that Krycek’s the only one armed and Mulder has a fever. Krycek won’t admit to killing Bill, but Mulder beats him up anyway.

Scully arrives and orders Mulder to drop Krycek’s gun. Mulder refuses, even though Scully has her own gun trained on Krycek, so Scully shoots Mulder in the shoulder, allowing Krycek to get away. When Scully wakes up on April 16th (to a “Mulder, it’s me”), Hosteen is there with Scully. Mulder’s understandably upset that his partner shot him, but Scully knows that if Mulder had shot Krycek, they would never be able to prove that Mulder didn’t kill Bill. For the first time, Scully’s able to tell Mulder that she’s sorry his father is dead.

Scully explains that when she went to get the bullet from Mulder’s apartment, she saw someone taking out the tank. She found a dialysis filter in the new one and guesses it was used to transmit LSD or dopamine into Mulder’s building. That explains Mulder’s weird behavior and the random shooting in the building. Scully thinks their enemies are trying to turn people against Mulder. She knocked him out for a couple of days to make sure the side effects of the psychosis are gone. They’re now in Farmington, New Mexico.

Hosteen was a Navajo code-talker in World War II, and he’s been working on translating the MJ documents. He says he got an omen last week that let him know Mulder would be coming. Scully tells Mulder that the reservation holds some more evidence of the conspiracy, and Mulder will be able to go see them. Scully has skipped a meeting with Skinner, so now she’s put her job on the line, but she’s obviously more concerned about Mulder. He thanks her for taking care of him. Scully reveals that her name is in the files, along with Duane Barry’s – something having to do with a test. She asks Mulder to find out what it all means.

Mulder and Hosteen head to Hosteen’s house, talking about how secrets “push their way up through the sands of deception” so people can learn them. Hosteen asks Mulder to confirm that he’s ready to put his life on the line to learn the truth. More than 600 years ago, the Anasazi tribe lived on the reservation; now, there’s no evidence of their existence. People claim they never existed because they’re not willing to sacrifice themselves to learn the truth. Hosteen, however, doesn’t believe that anything can disappear without a trace. He thinks the Anasazi were abducted “by visitors who come here still.”

Eric takes Mulder out to the red rocks to see the thing he uncovered in the dirt. CSM calls to ask Mulder’s location, which, of course, Mulder isn’t going to disclose (he says he’s at the Betty Ford Center). CSM warns Mulder not to listen to anything Bill told him. He authorized something and couldn’t live with it. CSM claims he had nothing to do with Bill’s murder. Mulder threatens to expose the “black-lunged son of a b%$@#,” but CSM replies that doing so would also expose Bill. After they hang up, CSM gets in a military helicopter and heads off to find Mulder.

Eric tells Mulder that he thinks the thing buried under the dirt is a boxcar. They find a hatch in the roof and open it. Mulder calls Scully from inside the boxcar to tell her it’s full of bodies. She tells him that the MJ documents mention experiments performed by Axis scientists who were granted immunity after the war. They were testing on humans, AKA “merchandise.” But the bodies in the boxcar look more alien than human. One seems to have a smallpox vaccination scar.

As the agents start to put things together, the boxcar hatch closes. Eric has spotted CSM’s helicopter. Soldiers emerge and CSM tries to question Eric, who won’t talk to him. They can’t find Mulder in the boxcar, telling CSM that if he was there, “he’s vanished without a trace.” CSM, like Hosteen, denies that that’s possible. He orders them to burn the boxcar. As they take Eric with them on the helicopter, a bomb detonates on the boxcar and it goes up in flames. To be continued…

Thoughts: David Duchovny co-write this episode.

My captions in one scene: “speaking native language.” Well, the Hosteens are Navajo, so do you think Albert might have been speaking…Navajo? Just a guess.

Mulder gets cell reception inside a boxcare in a desert quarry but my parents have to leave their building to get a signal. Thanks, technology!

And just like that, I’m done with season 2! On to Jack Black and Clyde Bruckman.

March 12, 2016

The X-Files 2.18, Fearful Symmetry: The Elephant in the Room

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:39 pm by Jenn

Kiss!

Kiss!

Summary: A member of the night cleaning crew at Idaho Mutual Insurance Trust in Fairfield, Idaho, is trying to make is job more fun by using his broom as a dance partner. His co-worker doesn’t think he should dance on the clock, since they’re being monitored by a surveillance camera. Well, I don’t think he should smoke on the job, but I guess my opinion doesn’t matter. Suddenly the building begins to shake and a window shatters.

There’s similar destruction on the street, as if an invisible stampede is passing through. A road crew on the highway notices the same phenomenon, this time accompanied by the sound of an elephant trumpeting. One of the crew members is killed. In the morning, a truck driver comes across an elephant and narrowly avoids hitting it. Sometime later, the police are summoned to the now-ailing elephant, which has collapsed in the middle of the road.

Our favorite FBI agents are called to Fairfield to talk to the cleaning crew, who say they didn’t see anything. The security monitors didn’t pick up anything either. Mulder says the road crew smelled an animal, and he thinks a large one could have easily caused the damage on the streets. Scully merely has to say “an invisible elephant?” to drive home how crazy that sounds. “I saw David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear once,” Mulder tells her.

Ed Meecham from the local zoo joins the agents, reporting that the elephant, Ganesha, has died, apparently of exhaustion. He’s not sure how she escaped from her cage. Mulder notes that elephants across the country have turned on their keepers, but Ed doesn’t think Ganesha has ever behaved like that. He advises the agents to talk to Willa Ambrose, the zoo’s naturalist. He does confirm that the damage on the street could have been due to an elephant.

The agents go to the zoo so I can squeal over the penguins (and also so they can talk to Willa, but…penguins! Yay!). Willa doesn’t seem on board with the elephant theory, mostly since she doesn’t see how Ganesha could have left her cage. She’s unhappy with the treatment and keeping of the animals at the zoo before she was brought in. Ed, however, is unhappy with the changes Willa’s trying to make.

Willa’s worried about how a radical pro-animal organization, the WAO, will respond to what happened to Ganesha. So that’s where the agents turn next, talking to one of their members, Kyle Lang, who’s helped “liberate” (in other words, kidnap) zoo animals in the past. He won’t admit to freeing Ganesha, knowing that that would make him an accessory to murder. He talks about how elephants have graveyards and long memories and blah blah, I read the Jodi Picoult elephant book and hated it, so can we move on?

The agents see a video of how elephants are treated at the zoo, because I guess this episode was sponsored by PETA. Kyle doesn’t think Willa is doing enough for the animals; she’s too caught up in a lawsuit from the Malawian government asking for her to return a gorilla she rescued. He thinks the gorilla should be returned to the wild; all animals should be able to run free, even ones that turn invisible and trample innocent road crew guys.

Scully’s pretty sure WAO is responsible for Ganesha’s escape, and argues that there are various reasons no one saw her. She thinks they might free another animal in an attempt to get the zoo shut down. Mulder tells her to keep an eye on WAO while he goes to “talk to the animals.” But not zoo animals – just Frohike and Byers. He uses a ’90s version of Skype to videochat with the guys (Langly refuses to appear on video), learning that Fairfield’s near an air base. No animals at the zoo have ever successfully carried offspring to term.

Scully calls (“Mulder, it’s me”) to report that another guy from the WAO is sneaking into the zoo. She follows him, scaling a fence in heels and a skirt because she’s awesome. Ed catches her and tells her to come with him when he learns what’s going on. Mulder arrives and also climbs the fence, but it’s not as awesome because he gets to wear pants and sensible shoes. The WAO guy heads to the tiger cage, but he can’t stay stealthy for very long, because the animals all start screeching.

As the WAO guy uses a night-vision camera to look at the tiger, there’s a bright flash of light. When it’s gone, the tiger is, too. Or it just seems to be, as the guy is suddenly attacked by something invisible that sure sounds like a tiger. Upon his death, Scully interrogates Kyle, who denies any knowledge of his cohort’s activities. He says the other guy (who never gets a name; R.I.P. No-Name WAO Guy) was the unfortunate victim of an animal’s natural behavior.

Mulder pulls Scully out of the room to calm down and tell her that the guy wasn’t killed by a tiger – nothing showed up on the footage from his night-vision camera. Scully finds this really hard to believe. The two go see Willa, who doesn’t think she has anything helpful to add to what she already told the police. Mulder asks to see her gorilla, Sophie, who’s been depressed recently. She knows sign language, and when Willa asks what’s wrong, Sophie just replies, “Light afraid.”

Mulder considers Sophie a witness, so he wants to communicate with her. Willa thinks she’s afraid of being taken back to Malawi. Mulder admires some of Sophie’s drawings, which Willa interprets as showing her despair over not being able to have a child. Mulder thinks Willa and Scully should team up to perform a necropsy on Ganesha. He brings up what the Lone Gunmen said about the animals in Fairfield never successfully breeding, but Willa says that’s not a big deal – it’s hard for animals in captivity to carry a pregnancy to term. Also, they never tried to mate Ganesha.

Scully checks out Ganesha’s uterine tissue anyway and determines that she was once pregnant. Willa says that’s impossible. Mulder notes that invisible elephants aren’t possible either. He thinks the tiger will show a similar condition, but first they’ll have to capture it. Ed and Willa disagree over how to accomplish that – he wants to use a gun; she doesn’t – but since she outranks him, she wins. The two of them and the agents stalk the tiger, which is now visible but still able to try to jump at Willa. Fortunately, Ed’s gun saves her.

The zoo loses its funding, which means Willa loses her job and the animals will be sent to other zoos. Sophie’s fate is uncertain. Mulder tells Willa that Scully studied the tiger and discovered that she, too, had once been pregnant. Willa still says that’s impossible, though she can’t be sure they weren’t artificially inseminated. Mulder suggests that alien abduction was involved, because of course he does. They get taken from locked cages, but problems with the space-time continuum mean they’re returned to the wrong place.

Mulder continues that the aliens might be trying to preserve animals that are going extinct. He suggests that Willa talk to Sophie about it. He thinks she’s pregnant and is worried that the aliens will come take her baby. Willa’s very skeptical but talks to Sophie anyway. Mulder asks if Sophie wants to leave the zoo, but Sophie just responds, “Light afraid.” Willa asks why she’s scared, and Sophie replies, “Baby go flying light.”

Scully joins them to report that the sheriff’s deputy wants to serve Willa papers about Sophie. Willa doesn’t have another place to take the gorilla, so she has to turn over the gorilla into protective custody. Willa then reluctantly goes to Kyle to ask for help putting Sophie in a preserve. Kyle refuses, not wanting a wild animal to be anywhere but the wild. Willa announces that Sophie’s pregnant, but Kyle won’t budge – gorillas belong with other gorillas.

Scully turns up a news article about Kyle and Willa, who used to work together. Willa visits Sophie as Kyle searches the zoo for her. The animals are agitated again, and this time, the one that goes invisible is Sophie. Kyle is thrown against a wall and crates are dropped on his head, so goodbye, Kyle. Scully questions Willa, who lies that she visited Kyle the day before to tell him he’d won and the zoo was being closed. Scully knows that Kyle and Willa worked together in the past and that Willa turned to him for help. She gives Willa a note that Kyle left, asking her to talk. (Psst, Kyle: It’s “let’s talk,” not “lets talk.”)

Willa tries to take the heat off of herself by bringing up Mulder’s abduction theory. Mulder pulls Scully aside to tell her that he thinks Willa knows where the now-missing Sophie is. He also thinks Willa killed Kyle to keep him from warning anyone about her possible plans. Mulder checks out Sophie’s cage, then follows Ed to a warehouse. Meanwhile, Scully learns that Kyle was killed by a cattle prod. She goes to arrest Willa, who says Kyle’s death was an accident – he surprised Ed. By the way, Ed also has Sophie.

Mulder corners Ed in the warehouse, where he claims he’s acting on Willa’s orders (and taking payments from her). Sophie’s agitated, so Mulder sends Ed into her cage to tranquilize her. The lights are off, so Ed tells Mulder to get Sophie into the light where he can see to shoot her with his tranquilizer gun. This is just a ruse to get Mulder and Sophie in the cage together so Ed can let the gorilla take out the FBI agent.

This backfires, though, probably because Willa told Sophie earlier that Mulder and Scully wouldn’t hurt her. Sophie signs something to Mulder, then disappears in a flash of light. Mulder ends up unconscious, missing the part of the episode where Ed gets busted. Scully and Willa find Mulder, who needs Willa to interpret something Sophie signed: “Man save man.” They hear a police report of an animal on the interstate and realize that Sophie’s going back to the zoo. But the agents and Willa are too late to get to Sophie before she’s hit by a car.

End-of-episode voiceover wrap-up, Mulder edition: Willa and Ed have been charged with manslaughter for Kyle’s death. Mulder wonders if aliens are trying to help conserve animals to fight extinction. Does this mean we should work with the aliens to save our race? Or “will man save man” again?

Thoughts: This episode just makes me want to chill with some penguins. This show needs more cute animals.

Scully: “How’d the tiger get all the way across town without being spotted?” Me: “Because tigers aren’t spotted – they’re striped! …Oh, I thought we were telling jokes. Sorry.”

Speaking of jokes, no comments from Mulder about how he feels at home with the animals because his name is Fox? Come on.

January 3, 2016

The X-Files 2.8, One Breath: The Right Thing

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

Can't regift this!

Can’t regift this!

Summary: Maggie Scully tells Mulder a story about a time when Scully was a child, playing in the woods with her brothers. They had BB guns and were only supposed to shoot at cans, but the boys started shooting at a snake instead. Scully joined in but stopped when she realized they’d actually hurt the snake. She felt guilty for taking something that wasn’t hers to take. Even though she was afraid of snakes, she picked it up to try to save it.

Mulder tells Maggie that she can’t give up – it’s too soon. Maggie says that she knows now how Scully felt that day. By the way they’re picking up a headstone for Scully’s grave. WAY TO HOLD OUT HOPE THAT SHE’S NOT DEAD, GUYS. Later, Mulder gets a call and rushes to Georgetown Medical Center, where – guess what – Scully’s not dead. She’s unconscious and doesn’t look great, but still, not dead. I hope you guys saved your receipt for that headstone!

Mulder demands answers, but no one can even tell him how Scully arrived at the hospital. He vows to find out what happened. Once Mulder has calmed down, a doctor tells him and Maggie that Scully’s in critical condition, and no one knows how she got to the hospital. Since there’s no recent medical history to go on, the doctor can’t figure out what happened. In addition, Scully’s living will states that she shouldn’t be kept alive in this condition. Mulder was the witness who signed the will.

Another Scully joins the group – Scully’s sister Melissa. She believes she can talk to Scully even in her comatose state. She says that Scully’s trying to decide whether to stay alive or “move on.” Scully’s doing that from a little boat, watching Mulder, Melissa, and a nurse on a dock. Mulder decides that he needs to do something more productive, so he goes home, turns on a black light, and puts an X on his window with masking tape, waiting for Mr. X to get in touch. In the morning, Mulder doesn’t get a message in his morning paper, so he takes the tape off the window.

Back at the hospital, Frohike (wearing a tux – aww) comes to visit Scully. He notices something weird on Scully’s chart and smuggles it out of the hospital (in his pants, which Mulder says must have provided a lot of extra storage space). Langly notes that Mulder’s a little blue and invites him over for a nitpick-a-sci-fi-show-on-the-Internet party that weekend.

Byers sees that there are weird combinations of amino acids in Scully’s blood. He’s sent Scully’s medical information to a hacker named the Thinker, and the Thinker reports that the amino acids appear to be the result of “branched DNA.” Basically, Scully was used for experiments and may have been grafted with something inhuman. Fortunately, the experiment is done. Unfortunately, Byers doesn’t think Scully will survive, and there’s nothing Mulder can do.

From her boat, Scully sees a nurse on the dock. The nurse, Owens, tells her that she’s going to try to help Scully find her way home. Scully can only leave when the time is right. Mulder arrives, noticing a man in a suit standing nearby as Scully has some blood drawn. Another patient codes, briefly distracting Mulder. When he looks back, Scully’s blood is gone, as is the man. Mulder runs after him but can’t catch the guy before he gets on an elevator.

Mulder tracks down the man in a parking garage, where he runs into Mr. X. In a message from someone who is very adamant that Mulder listen, Mr. X orders him to stop investigating what happened to Scully. Mulder tells him to go to Hell, since Mr. X didn’t respond to his summons. Mr. X sings his usual song about how he’s not going to let Mulder get him killed like he did Deep Throat. Mulder doesn’t summon him; Mr. X only comes to Mulder when Mr. X needs him.

He repeats what Byers said: There’s nothing Mulder can do to save his partner. Mr. X used to be like Mulder, but he’s changed. He doesn’t think Mulder has the heart necessary for this. If he doesn’t walk away, he won’t be able to live with himself. Mulder spots the man from before in the garage and chases him into the laundry room. He retrieves the vial of Scully’s blood and asks the man who sent him to get it. The man won’t answer, but he will fight Mulder to get the vial back. This time Mr. X lends a hand, but he kills the man, then tells Mulder he’ll handle things from here.

The doctor wants to talk to Mulder and the Scullys about Scully’s living will again. He doesn’t think Scully will improve, no matter how long she’s been in this condition. Mulder says that they can treat branched DNA; they should study her condition instead of just giving up. Melissa argues that death is natural, but prolonging a life isn’t. Mulder mocks her for being “politically correct.” Melissa replies that she loves Scully, but letting her go is the right thing to do.

Maggie says that Scully has already made the decision for them. Mulder (who she calls Fox) has built a friendship with Scully out of respect. Maggie has already lost her husband, and she obviously doesn’t want to lose her daughter, but she respects Scully’s decisions. She invites him to join her and Melissa for their last moments with Scully as a family. Meanwhile, the rope tying Scully’s boat to the dock breaks and she begins to drift.

CSM takes Skinner a report on Mulder’s recent activities. Skinner’s like, “You can’t smoke in here; there’s a sign.” CSM lights up anyway, like, “Here’s what I think of your sign.” He takes a few puffs and puts on the cigarette, like, what a waste of a butt. Anyway, Mulder comes in after CSM leaves, and Skinner questions him about the death of the man in the laundry room. Mulder claims that he was with Scully at the time and has no idea what’s happening. He mocks that Skinner’s usually the one who answers questions with denial.

Mulder continues that CSM (“Cancer Man”) is responsible for whatever happened to Scully. He’s willing to give up his job and badge if Skinner will give him answers. Skinner reminds him that they work for the government, not the mafia. He liked and respected Scully, but all agents know the possible risks of working for the bureau. Mulder admits that he might not have told Scully all the risks. Skinner replies that that means he’s as much to blame as CSM.

Scully’s dreams have taken her from the boat to a wooden table, where she’s asleep in a white dress. Her father arrives and tells her that when he realized he would never see her again, his life “felt as if it had been the length of one breath, on heartbeat.” It made him realize how much he loved her. He wishes he could trade anything in his life for one more second with Scully. They’ll be together again soon, but not now. Nurse Owens speaks to Scully again, telling her that her time isn’t over.

Melissa tells Mulder that even if he spent the rest of his life hunting down the people responsible for Scully’s condition, it wouldn’t matter. Besides, they’ll get what’s coming to them. A woman approaches and asks Mulder if he has change for the cigarette machine. He doesn’t, but it doesn’t matter – there’s already a pack of Morleys in the bin. Mulder opens the pack and retrieves a Post-It with an address on it.

Mulder finds CSM at that address and finally gets to ask his questions. CSM isn’t threatened, though; he’s watched presidents die. Mulder asks why Scully was harmed instead of him. CSM replies that he likes both Mulder and Scully. He’s “in the game” because he thinks he’s doing the right thing. Mulder wonders who CSM is to decide what’s right. “What are you?” CSM replies. If people knew what he does, “it would all fall apart.”

CSM continues that he told Skinner that Mulder shot the man in the hospital, but he doesn’t believe that. Now that Mulder has come after him, CSM has more respect for him – he’s “becoming a player.” Mulder’s welcome to kill him, but he’ll never know the truth. Mulder can’t bring himself to pull the trigger. CSM promises not to tell anyone about this encounter. Otherwise, rumors might get spread.

Mulder prints out a letter of resignation and starts packing up his office. Skinner comes by, telling Mulder that his basement office is where they used to keep the copy machine. He tears up the resignation letter, refusing to accept this form of self-punishment from Mulder. Mulder announces that he hates who he’s become. He’s already losing enough and doesn’t want to lose more of himself.

Skinner tells Mulder that he enlisted in the Marine Corps on his 18th birthday, believing that going to Vietnam was the right thing. Three months into his tour, Skinner killed a child. He lost his faith in everything – his country, himself – and believed there was no point to anything anymore. Skinner’s platoon was captured, and he had an out-of-body experience. He didn’t recognize himself. Skinner felt at peace, even knowing his life was over.

He was taken to the hospital and woke up two weeks later. He’s afraid to look into what happened, but he knows Mulder isn’t. Skinner reiterates that he refuses to accept Mulder’s resignation. Mulder realizes that Skinner gave him CSM’s address, which means he risked his own life. “Every life, every day, is in danger,” Skinner points out.

Mulder meets with Mr. X, who gives him a plane ticket and the warning that some men are going to search his apartment that night. Mulder needs to be there to defend himself. This is the only way Mulder will be able to stop them. After tonight, Mr. X won’t be in touch for some time. Mulder waits in his apartment, but instead of a group of men, Melissa shows up. Scully’s weakening, so Mulder needs to come see her before she dies.

Mulder declines, and Melissa warns that his retreat further into the darkness isn’t going to help. Mulder snaps at her to stop with the New Age-y stuff. Melissa replies that her positivity doesn’t have to be seen as silly. He needs to just express his feelings – she and Scully both expect more. Even if it doesn’t bring Scully back, at least she’ll know how Mulder feels, and so will he. After Melissa leaves, Mulder sits back down with his gun, waiting for the men.

Later, Mulder makes it to the hospital after all, taking Scully’s hand and telling her that he feels that she doesn’t believe it’s her time. She needs to hold on to her beliefs like she always does. Whether it will bring her back or not, he’s there with her. Mulder spends the night there, returning home to find his apartment trashed. He’s missed his chance at confrontation and answers. Mulder crouches on the floor and cries.

Dream Scully is now on a bed by a lake in the woods. The woods slowly disappear and become a hospital room. She’s awake. As soon as Mulder hears, he returns to the hospital, where Scully admonishes her mother for calling him Fox. Scully doesn’t remember anything after being grabbed by Duane Barry, but Mulder’s not going to fill her in just yet. He wants her to watch a football video and rest.

Scully tells him that she came back through the strength of his beliefs. Mulder gives her back her cross necklace and leaves. Sometime later, Scully asks a nurse if she can talk to Nurse Owens. Guess what? There’s no Nurse Owens! Spooky!

Thoughts: Why would you buy a headstone when you don’t have a body??

I guess Scully’s brothers were too busy to visit their dying sister? Eh, Bill Jr.’s a jerk anyway.

Can someone please get the comatose woman a blanket? She might be cold.

The only thing that would have made the CSM/Skinner smoking scene better is if CSM had used the no-smoking sign to light a match.

Even in 1994, hospitals still had cigarette machines. America is weird.

Skinner’s a much better character when he’s actually helpful. Too bad he never gets much development over the course of the series.

That Nurse Owens thing was a pointless piece of an otherwise excellent episode. She wasn’t even a necessary character.

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