February 25, 2017

The X-Files 4.19, Synchrony: The Iceman Cometh

Posted in TV tagged at 1:27 pm by Jenn

This ice sculpture is shockingly lifelike

This ice sculpture is shockingly lifelike

Summary: An old man runs to MIT around 11:40 at night as two 20-something men fight about one of them going to someone behind the other’s back. The old man warns one of the younger men that he’s heading toward a dangerous street. The younger men try to get him to back off, but when a security officer arrives, the old man announces that one of them, Lucas, is going to get hit by a bus and be killed at 11:46. He warns the other man, Jason, to protect him. Jason is surprised that the man knows his name.

As the security officer takes the old man away, Jason tries again to work things out with Lucas, but Lucas is done talking. The two students split up, but when Jason sees a bus coming, he decides he should listen to the old man. Just as predicted, Lucas is struggling with his books and doesn’t see the bus. Jason runs to warn him, but it’s too late. It’s 11:46 and Lucas is dead. Also, the driver thinks Jason pushed Lucas in front of the bus, so this is really not Jason’s day. (Well…not Lucas’ either.)

Mulder presents the situation to Scully, explaining that just before his death, Lucas was arguing with Jason, his academic advisor. Jason has been arrested for murder and won’t tell the police what they were fighting about. Mulder shows Scully a taped interrogation where Jason claims that an old man warned that Lucas was going to be hit by a bus. No one has been able to talk to the old man, or to the security officer, since he’s dead.

The agents go to Massachusetts and discover that the security officer’s body is frozen. In normal circumstances, it would look like he’d passed out after drinking and froze to death, but it only got down to 28 degrees the previous night, and the body is 15 degrees. Or at least it was – now it’s 8. Scully thinks a chemical like liquid nitrogen is to blame, and she’s curious as to how this is connected to Lucas’ death.

Mulder goes to the police station to meet Jason, who’s chatting with his girlfriend, Lisa. After she leaves, Jason asks if the police are going to blame him for the security officer’s death as well as Lucas’. Mulder tells him about the body being frozen, and Jason thinks he’s playing mind games. He finally reveals the reason for his and Lucas’ fight: Lucas was going to rat on Jason for falsifying data in a paper. Jason says he didn’t, though he did interpret data in a not-completely-sound way.

Mulder guesses that the two men were competing for the same grant. Jason explains that they study cryobiology, the effects of freezing temperatures on biological systems. Scully calls (no “Mulder, it’s me,” sadly) to tell her partner that she found Jason’s fingerprints on the security officer and his car, so Jason is looking at a second murder charge.

A man named Dr. Yonechi tries to check into a hotel, but his name isn’t on the list of reservations. The old man approaches him, claiming he was sent to pick up Yonechi and take him to a different hotel. Once they’re at the new hotel, the old man thanks Yonechi for his contribution to the old man’s work on vitrification. Yonechi is confused – no one’s solved vitrification yet. The old man says that Yonechi found a way to substitute sugar for water. He pulls out a blade and stabs Yonechi in the hand, then apologizes, saying, “This is the only way.”

Yonechi becomes frozen corpse #2, and the agents learn that an old man was seen with him before his death. They think the man is Jason’s accomplice, and they’re using Jason’s cryobiology research to kill his competition. Scully shows Mulder an analysis of the chemical found in the wound the old man made in Yonechi’s hand; the security officer had one, too. Mulder thinks he knows someone who can enlighten them.

The agents visit Lisa, who’s also a cryobiologist, and show her the analysis. She tells them Jason was working on a rapid-freezing agent that allow a cell to be thawed so it can survive the freezing process. But Jason is nowhere near developing the agent; so far it’s just theoretical. They’re still at least ten years away from having the right technology. Scully and Mulder disagree. When Lisa learns that Yonechi was only frozen a couple hours ago, she announces that he might not really be dead.

Lisa has Yonechi brought to the lab and submerges him in some gross-looking yellow liquid. Once his temperature reaches 97 degrees, she pulls him out. Scully doubts that this will work – no way can a person survive after his body was as cold as Yonechi’s was. Mulder’s like, “Well, if he’s still dead, they can’t kill him more, so…” Lisa then proves Scully wrong by reviving Yonechi, but his temperature climbs so quickly that he starts seizing. Eventually he catches on fire, and the burns he suffers are definitely not survivable.

Scully asks Lisa what could be to blame for this kind of cellular reaction. Lisa thinks that the chemical that froze Yonechi was unstable, so they accidentally caused an opposite reaction by raising his temperature. She thinks he could have survived if he’d stayed in the yellow liquid. Mulder’s more interested in finding out where the freezing compound came from, since it’s not supposed to exist.

Lisa runs off to talk to Jason, with the old man right on her trail. She finally confronts him for following her, but he plays innocent. She guesses that he’s the man Jason saw the night of Lucas’ death, and he killed both Lucas and Yonechi. The old man warns that he can kill her, too. In fact, that’s why he’s there. He pulls out his blade but doesn’t use it on her.

Lisa gives the agents a sketch of the man and tells them about the encounter. Scully encourages her to be completely honest; otherwise she could be considered responsible for any crimes Jason committed. Lisa reveals that she, not Jason, falsified the data in Jason’s research so he could get the grant. Scully thinks she knows who the old man is, but Lisa insists that she doesn’t. She also thinks her secret is safe with him, though Scully wonders if a man who lied for her wouldn’t also lie to her.

Mulder pulls Scully aside to ask why the old man would keep Lisa’s secret. Scully thinks he wants to protect Jason as well. Mulder wonders if the medical tool the old man keeps using on people was originally designed for another purpose. A police officer approaches to tell the agents that there’s a lead on the old man’s location.

Mulder and Scully let themselves into the old man’s hotel room when he doesn’t answer the door. Scully finds Yonechi’s flight information, and Mulder finds a picture of Yonechi, Lisa, and Jason toasting something together. Mulder thinks they’re celebrating “something that never happened.” He believes someone’s trying to alter the future.

He elaborates: If Lucas hadn’t been hit by a bus, he would have gone before the grant committee and revealed Jason and Lisa’s lie. Jason wouldn’t be able to work with Yonechi, and the celebration in the photo never happens. Since the old man couldn’t save Lucas, he had to kill Yonechi to try to get to the same outcome. Scully wonders when the photo was taken (or “never taken”). Mulder guesses it’s at least five years from now, after the freezing compound is developed.

Mulder believes that the old man brought the compound with him to the present. Oh, and he thinks the old man is Jason. He reminds Scully that her graduate thesis was on quantum physics, so she can’t rule out the possibility of time travel. She doesn’t think humans could survive time travel, though. Mulder comes up with one way of getting to the next step: ask Lisa if the photo was ever taken.

Old Jason comes home, not looking so great, and uses his blade on himself to feel better. Lisa finds him there, having guessed who he really is. He tells her she’s the one who made this all possible. 30 years ago, or ten years from Lisa’s present time, she’ll meet someone who tells her about subatomic particles that can go back in time at the temperature absolute zero. She’ll use this development to further her research and “change the course of history.”

Lisa asks why Old Jason said he came back to kill her. He says he couldn’t go through with it. She realizes he’s cold, like, what didn’t you get about absolute zero? Suddenly Old Jason decides he can go through with it after all, and he stabs Lisa, freezing her. Young Jason gets the news just as Mulder bails him out of lockup. He also gets the news that the old man they’re looking for is him, and Mulder thinks he’s going to go after his younger self next. “Puts a whole new spin on being your own worst enemy, huh?” Mulder quips, because there’s never a wrong time for death-related humor.

Young Jason’s confused – he and Lisa have never met Yonechi. Mulder says that a photo analyst confirmed that the photo of the three of them together is real. Young Jason doesn’t think any of this is possible; it’s just science fiction. Mulder’s like, “Well, so is a rapid-freezing compound, yeah?” He thinks there’s some application of the compound for time travel. Now he’d like to know why Old Jason wants to stop time travel.

Mulder and Young Jason head to the cryolab, but when Jason uses a biometric scanner to gain entry, a security officer says that according to the computer, he’s already there. Mulder sends Jason to meet Scully and Lisa while he looks for Old Jason. Lisa’s team is trying to revive her like they revived Yonechi, though they’re not sure what to do when they get her heart beating again. Scully tells them to put her back in the yellow liquid.

Mulder gets access to Jason’s research files from an assistant. Scully calls (still no “Mulder, it’s me”) to tell him that Lisa’s doing much better than Yoneshi was when he was in her condition. Mulder asks about Young Jason, but he hasn’t come to the lab yet. The assistant tells Mulder that Jason’s files are all empty, and his data’s gone.

Young Jason has figured out where his old self would go to stop himself, the mainframe where his files are held. Old Jason wants his research to be destroyed. Young Jason just wants Lisa to be okay. Old Jason says that they helped create a world “without history, without hope. A world where anyone can know everything that will ever happen.” As Mulder tracks the Jasons down, Young Jason demands that Old Jason help him save Lisa.

Mulder gets Young Jason to leave Old Jason alone, promising that Lisa’s alive. If Young Jason hurts his older self, they’ll never know the truth. But Old Jason isn’t about letting any truth get out – he thinks the world would be better off if he never existed. As Mulder uses a fire extinguisher to try to break down the door to the lab they’re in, Old Jason holds on to Young Jason until they both burst into flames.

The good news is that Lisa’s survived her ordeal, thanks to her own research. She’s sure that Old Jason was telling the truth when he said who he was. Scully gently tells her that there was a fire in the mainframe and her boyfriend’s dead.

Old Jason, meanwhile, has disappeared. Mulder plans to believe in what he saw forever, quoting Scully’s thesis to her about the universe only producing one outcome. Does this mean the future can’t be altered, and Old Jason won’t be able to prevent time travel from being discovered? This is one question Scully can’t answer. And as soon as Lisa has recovered, she’s right back in her lab, working on research that could lead to who knows what.

Thoughts: Cryogenic freezing AND time travel? They couldn’t just pick one weird scenario for this episode?

Mulder: “Although common sense may rule out the possibility of time travel…” Right, like common sense has ever had a place on this show.

That guy Lisa’s supposed to meet in ten years should probably watch his back.

February 18, 2017

The X-Files 4.18, Max: Flight Risks

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

I don't think Max had a future as an interior decorator

I don’t think Max had a future as an interior decorator

Summary: The lights Mulder has encountered underwater are from other divers, so he quickly surfaces and flees. Back on land, he tries to outrun a Jeep full of soldiers who capture him. Back in D.C., Scully tends to Pendrell, but it doesn’t look good. She goes after NTSB guy, who’s wounded but still able to run. When she returns to Pendrell, she orders him to stay alive so they can celebrate her birthday together. While paramedics tend to him, Scully realizes her nose is bleeding.

Frisch doesn’t think his phone call to his girlfriend tipped anyone off, since he didn’t say where he was, so Scully thinks someone on the inside has turned on them. Skinner arrives, having been told about Frisch’s transfer into protective custody; he’s now being arrested for providing false testimony. Scully argues that his life is in danger because he’s blowing the whistle on the military.

Skinner tells her that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are overruling that decision. They’re also on the hunt for Mulder for interfering with the investigation into the plane crash. The military admits they were responsible for the crash, but they don’t back up Frisch’s version of events. Skinner notices that something’s off with Scully and tells her he’s not going to let her stay in the field if it’s not safe. Scully insists, as always, that she’s fine.

Mulder’s taken to Von Drehle Air Force Reserve Installation, where Scully gets him released and tells him the military had no choice but to confess their part in the plane crash. They’re saying that the air-traffic controllers gave bad coordinates, which makes Scully think that Frisch and his partner didn’t see the second plane, a fighter jet, until it was too late to keep it from crashing into the first plane. The partner allegedly killed himself because he felt so guilty. The military claims that Frisch is trying to blame them for his mistake.

Scully admits that she’s not sure she believes that the second plane was a military jet. Mulder shows her some burns he got from the crash site in the lake, possibly the beginning stages of the burns suffered by some of the crash victims. Scully says that there’s no proof that the plane crashed into anything, at least according to Millar. She doesn’t think he’s lying, since he had no reason to volunteer anything – especially about how he found Sharon. And it turns out Sharon isn’t Max’s sister after all; she’s a former aeronautics engineer who met Max in a psychiatric facility.

It also turns out that Pendrell being loaded into an ambulance was the last glimpse we’ll get of him: He’s dead. Scully’s upset that innocent people are dying, and they’re not yet sure if it’s “for the truth or for the lies.” Mulder vows to find the truth, because why else would they be fighting?

The agents go to Max’s old trailer, which looks the same as it did the last time they were there. Scully compares him to Mulder, as they both led “Spartan lives” in order to leave room for their passions. Mulder’s interested in finding out why Max wanted to see him (which he figures is what Max was doing, since he had Mulder’s card on him). He was taking a big risk, so it had to have been for a major reason.

Mulder puts on a video of Max talking about his life. He always wanted to be left alone, but as an abductee, he’s never alone, since he’s always wondering if the aliens will come back for him. He wants to prove to the public that aliens exist, and that only a few members of the government, FBI, and military know about them. They’re using some of the aliens’ technology in U.S. military operations, and someone needs to confront them and make them admit it. Meanwhile, divers, one with radiation burns, pull aliens and their aircraft from the lake. NTSB guy arrives, pleased that their mission was successful.

The search for the crash victims is almost complete, and Millar thanks everyone involved for their work. Mulder can tell that he’s not convinced of what he’s been told about the crash. He shares his theory that Max knew about the crash ahead of time but got on the flight anyway. He was probably followed by someone who wanted the proof of alien life that he carried with him. This was the guy with the gun, who was unable to kill Max and take the proof before aliens intercepted the plane.

Max would have known what was happening, that he was going to be taken, but Mulder thinks the military plane got involved and screwed up the aliens’ plans. Frisch and his partner couldn’t see the alien craft on radar, so they couldn’t stop whatever happened. Mulder imagines Max being pulled outside the plane as the other passengers watch in awe. He thinks that if the military jet hadn’t been there, Max would have been abducted and returned without anyone knowing.

Next Mulder thinks that the jet intercepted the plane and the alien craft on orders of taking down the aliens. Max was returned to the plane, but the crash ensued and everyone was killed instead of just having their memories erased and losing nine minutes of their lives. Millar doesn’t exactly believe Mulder’s story, but even if he did, he can’t sell it to the government. Scully notes that the door and seats contain traces of radioactivity, which Mulder hasn’t been able to explain. Millar thinks he knows the reason, and it’s inside Max’s carry-on bag.

Millar promises to include the contents of the bag in his official report, though he can’t credit them with the cause of the crash. Scully tells Mulder that they might not ever get all the answers, which means Max and Pendrell’s deaths might never be explained. Mulder wants to go talk to Sharon, whether or not she’s mentally stable.

Well, really, he wants Scully to go talk to Sharon while he goes back to Max’s trailer, which is now trashed. He runs into the trailer park manager, who mentions that he has some of Max’s mail. While he gets it, Mulder pauses Max’s video, seeing Sharon in the background. He sees that the return address on one of Max’s letters is Paul Gidney, Max’s alias. Inside is a claim ticket.

Scully visits Sharon, who admits that she lied about being Max’s sister. Scully asks her to spill anything about what Max was up to. Sharon hesitates, worrying that it could get her into trouble. Scully sees blisters on Sharon’s face and asks what she was exposed to. Sharon says she stole something, and Scully realizes it was from whoever she worked for when she was in aeronautics. Max had her take something that he claimed was alien technology. It was in three parts, and each of them had one, but they were taken. Scully asks about the third part.

Mulder figures out that the claim ticket is for a piece of luggage at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Men in suits watch from a distance as he gets it, then asks for a security entrance to a tunnel. As he escapes, Scully calls (“Mulder, it’s me”) and tells him he has the third part, though she doesn’t know what it is. She warns him not to take it out of its container, but mid-’90s cell service was pretty bad, and static on the line keeps Mulder from hearing her.

Even without hearing Scully’s warning, Mulder doesn’t open the bag. Instead, he puts it through an x-ray machine. Scully thinks they’re dealing with some industrial espionage. Mulder gets on a flight to D.C., because that worked out so well for Max when he took his part on a plane. Apparently Mulder’s FBI skills are on the fritz because he doesn’t see that NTSB guy is on the same flight.

After some time in the air, NTSB guy sits down with Mulder and starts a conversation. But Mulder’s FBI skills are back in full force, and he warns that he has a gun on NTSB guy. NTSB guy doesn’t think Mulder will shoot, since he could cause a crash. NTSB guy has come prepared with a parachute and is sure he’ll be able to escape. He’s also willing to sacrifice himself to continue the cover-up. There are dozens of lights on outside, and no one would notice if one went out. Does Mulder think it’s worth it to sacrifice millions of lives just to keep some lights on?

Mulder asks what the thing in the bag is, guessing it’s an alien source of energy. NTSB guy sticks to the story that the plane crash was caused by human error. Mulder orders him to go to the bathroom so Mulder can keep him contained for the rest of the flight and ensure he pays for the crash. He then calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to tell her he’s captured Pendrell’s killer. He checks the time and realizes his watch has stopped.

Mulder warns a flight attendant that the plane is going to be intercepted, so the pilot needs to be ready. NTSB guy emerges from the bathroom with a gun, because I guess Mulder didn’t consider checking him for weapons. Mulder gives up Max’s bag just moments before the plane begins to shape. Looks like it’s time for another abduction, y’all! NTSB guy keeps his eye and weapon on Mulder, who pulls out his own gun and demands the bag.

The emergency door gets suck out of the plane, and Mulder tells NTSB to let go of the bag so the aliens can have it. A light fills the plane, and we skip forward to it landing in D.C. Scully and Skinner are among the agents there to get NTSB guy, but he’s no longer on the flight. Everyone on the plane is fine, and no one seems to have gone through any trauma. Also, Mulder’s watch is nine minutes slow. Skinner asks after NTSB guy, and Mulder replies, “I think he got the connecting flight.”

Later, the agents and Sharon watches the rest of Max’s video, where he talks about alien technology that the U.S. could use for things like space travel. He doesn’t get why the government wants to keep them quiet. Sharon asks to keep Max’s things, which Mulder thinks could be very important one day. Scully thinks Max would want her to have them.

Scully steps outside the trailer to look up at the sky and think about Pendrell; she notes to Mulder that she didn’t even know his first name. She has Mulder’s birthday gift with her, and she thinks he gave it to her to help her remember that people can achieve anything they can imagine as long as they dream and work hard. They also need to work together “because no one gets there alone.” We can praise those who do the work, but we also need to remember those who sacrifice their lives in the process. “I just thought it was a pretty cool keychain,” Mulder quips.

Thoughts: Way to not do anything to try to help Pendrell, everyone else in the bar.

’90s music alert: “Unmarked Helicopters” by Soul Coughing. Wow, remember Soul Coughing? I barely do.

Farewell, Agent Pendrell. (Aw, that rhymes.) As the kids would say, you were a beautiful cinnamon roll, too pure for this world.

February 11, 2017

The X-Files 4.17, Tempus Fugit: Next Time, Take the Bus

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

It's a free dessert, Scully. Be happier

It’s a free dessert, Scully. Be happier

Summary: “Somewhere over upstate New York,” a man named Rebhun talks to his seatmate about how he no longer gets nervous about flying, since statistically, it’s safe. His seatmate happens to be Max Fenig, and he seems more nervous about another man on the plane than he is about flying. He watches the man head to the bathroom, where he takes apart a pen and uses something inside to load a weapon. Turbulence hits the plane as the man emerges from the bathroom, and lights shine through the windows. A panel near Max starts to get pulled outside.

Things are much calmer at a restaurant where Mulder surprises Scully’s with a birthday dessert. She points out that this is the first time in four years he’s remembered her birthday. He gives her an Apollo 11 keychain. A woman named Sharon approaches the agents to tell them that her brother told her to find them if he didn’t make it. Her brother is Max, and he was supposed to be delivering something to D.C., something the government might kill him for. His plane went down on the way to D.C.

The agents head to New York and interrupt a meeting with a taskforce discussing the crash. All 134 passengers and crew members have been declared dead. The plane’s last recording before the crash is of the pilot calling mayday before the feed goes to static. Mulder asks if the plane was forced down, since the pilot said there was something approaching. A man from the NTSB is very interested in this conversation but stays quiet.

Mulder says a passenger on the plane was abducted by aliens multiple times and predicted the crash, so it’s reasonable that another aircraft caused it. A member of the taskforce says no one named Max Fenig was on the passenger manifest. The taskforce leader, Millar, slams Mulder for bringing his craziness to the situation. Scully’s like, “Thanks for this awesome birthday present, partner.”

The agents and the taskforce go to the crash site, where only pieces of the plane have been found. The official story is that the crash was caused by either a lightning strike or some other weather phenomenon. Of course, Mulder won’t buy that. Scully wants to know what it means if it turns out Max really was on the plane. Mulder says that whoever (or whatever) went after Max thought his death was important enough to sacrifice 133 other lives.

The man from the NTSB steals the weapon from the body of the man from the bathroom, and another man sprays him with something. Elsewhere, Scully finds another victim whose watch stopped at the same time as another watch Mulder finds. The crash took place at 7:52 p.m., and the watches stopped at 8:01. Scully dismisses the time of the crash as just an estimate. Mulder thinks they won’t find Max after all – he probably wasn’t on the plane when it crashed. Just then, someone finds a survivor.

Scully has Sharon brought to New York with Max’s things so the agents can figure out what he had with him on the plane. The survivor was exposed to high levels of radiation, and if Max was carrying whatever caused his burns, people could still be in danger. Scully then meets back up with Mulder, who tells her that the survivor is Rebhun (first name: Larold. Yes, really); he was sitting next to someone named Paul Gidney, an alias Max has used in the past. Scully has learned that Max used another alias to get a job at an energy site that stores uranium and weapons-grade plutonium.

Max wrote letters mentioning a theft, so he may have come across a dangerous situation. If he was carrying dangerous chemicals with him, their instability could have caused the crash. Mulder thinks Max was abducted from the plane, causing the crash; the burns came from the abduction, not chemicals. He thinks the crash will be declared unsolved unless the agents find out what really happened. He’s sure that when Max is returned, he’ll confirm Mulder’s suspicions. Scully tells Mulder that Max was already “returned” – they found his body.

Sharon is looking through Max’s letters in a motel when the room starts to shake and lights shine through the windows. Back at the crash site, Mulder finds one of his business cards on Max’s body. He checks out a couple more bodies but doesn’t seem to find what he’s looking for. In fact, that’s the point – he tells Scully that none of the bodies has a watch on. Mulder thinks someone stole them to keep people from finding out that they all lost nine minutes.

The agents meet with Sergeant Louis Frisch, who was working in an air-traffic control tower the night of the plane crash. He tells them that the crash began at 7:52, and there was radar confirmation about 45 seconds later. As the agents leave, Mulder mentions to Scully that the story has been that there was no radar confirmation. Scully figures the news about the confirmation just came after their initial briefing.

But as the agents leave, Frisch lets his partner know that he said what he was supposed to say. He doesn’t know the truth, and he doesn’t want to know. His partner, Gonzales, vows to tell the truth if the agents ever question him. Frisch doesn’t like that, since that would let the authorities know that he lied. He heads off on his own.

Sharon’s motel room has been trashed, and she’s missing. Mulder notices warping on the door, which is off its hinges. He thinks Sharon was abducted. Millar arrives to tell the agents that they may have found the cause of the crash, but it’s a pretty crazy theory. There are some cracks on the plane that make it look like it was shaken. Mulder thinks his abduction theory is looking more and more like a reality.

Frisch heads back to work and apologizes to Gonzales, but it’s too late – Gonzales is dead, seemingly having shot himself. Frisch sees a convoy of cars approaching the building. They’re led by the NTSB guy, and they’re looking for Frisch. Mulder listens to the mayday recording from the plane, then calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to tell her that the air-traffic controller’s voice sounds familiar. He asks her to come to his motel room to listen to it. On her way over, Frisch grabs her and tells her he was responsible for the crash.

The agents take Frisch to the crash site to introduce him to Millar. Millar was told that the controller was a civilian, not an Army sergeant. Frisch says his commanding officer told him to lie about what happened. He saw another aircraft intercept and shadow the plane for ten minutes before the crash. There was an explosion, and the plane disappeared from his screen.

Millar denies that the evidence lines up with Frisch’s story. Mulder says the military is trying to cover up something, possibly that there was a third aircraft that Frisch didn’t see, which was shot down by the second aircraft. The plane Max was on might have just been collateral damage. That means there could be a second crash site. That also means that Frisch’s life could be in danger, since he’s put together what the military wants to keep hidden.

Now Millar is willing to consider Mulder’s theory, so he and the agents head out to look for the second crash site. But the agents spot NTSB guy’s convoy heading toward them and have to do some fancy driving to get away from them. (Well, Mulder does the driving. Scully’s contribution is just saying his name in a warning tone over and over. Thanks for your help, Scully.) Mulder has to fly under a plane that’s landing, causing the cars chasing him to spin off on other directions.

Millar goes to the first crash site and sees what looks like a UFO searching the wreckage. Its searchlight goes out and it seems to disappear, then suddenly reappear right over Millar. The light goes out again and it seems to drop out of the sky. Millar hears a woman calling for help nearby and finds Sharon, who begs him not to let them take her again.

Mulder is starting to wonder if there’s no second crash site after all – maybe the second crash happened in a lake instead of on land. He sends Scully and Frisch to D.C. while he looks into the descent of the second aircraft. Or maybe the third. I really don’t know at this point. Anyway, he goes to rent a boat and learns that there’s already a search underway.

Scully takes Frisch to her place, where he worries that he’ll be prosecuted for lying about the crash. It wasn’t his fault, but he watched the plane fall and will have to live with trying to cover up what really happened. He’s mad at himself for treating the passengers and crew like numbers and dots instead of real people. Scully promises to do whatever she can to ensure Frisch can tell his story to someone who will do the right thing. He asks if he can call his girlfriend to let her know he’s okay.

Back in New York, Mulder goes diving in the lake, thinking that the time he “got a quarter off the deep end at the Y pool” is enough experience. Scully and Frisch head to a bar to meet with a federal marshal; Pendrell is there, a little drunk, and thinks the two of them are on a date. Scully spots NTSB guy entering and realizes something’s off. He fires at Frisch but hits Pendrell instead. In the lake, Mulder finds wreckage of an aircraft, along with what looks like an alien. He starts to flee but is stopped by a bright light. To be continued!

Thoughts: I feel bad for the actor playing Max. He gets invited back to the show three years after his episode, but he doesn’t get any lines, he has two minutes of screen time, and they kill him.

Someone actually named a character Larold. I hope that person was never given the responsibility of naming a child.

I really need this show to tell us people’s names so I don’t have to figure them out from IMDb.

I can’t believe Scully thought letting Frisch use her home phone was a good idea. Come on!

February 4, 2017

The X-Files 4.16, Unrequited: Oh, Good, Another Episode About Vietnam

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

"Is THIS your card? ...No? Wait, Scully, I can get this"

“Is THIS your card? …No? Wait, Scully, I can get this”

Summary: There’s a big gathering near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., and a general named Bloch is giving a speech about the country’s armed forces. Mulder, Scully, and Skinner are there, trying to track a man in the crowd. Scully spots the man, who then sees her as well. The agents quietly close in on him, but they all lose sight of him. Skinner warns that he’s right in front of Mulder, but as Skinner moves to protect Bloch, the man vanishes.

12 hours earlier, a helicopter lands at Fort Evanston, Maryland, carrying a lieutenant general named MacDougal. He finds a playing card in his limo, the king of hearts, with a skull and crossed bloody bayonets on the back. Suddenly the man from the rally is in the limo. He shoots MacDougal dead, but when the driver pulls the car over to check on him, the shooter is gone.

Skinner tells a group of agents about the mysterious murder, which authorities suspect was the work of the driver, Private Burkholder. There may be an accomplice, and Burkholder could have ties to a paramilitary group called the Right Hand, which is known for leaving playing cards on their victims. Mulder and Scully enter as Skinner tells the agents to look into the Right Hand’s leader, an ex-Marine named Denny Markham. The agents only have 12 hours to prevent more murders before the rally.

Mulder and Scully have just come from interviewing Burkholder, who passed a polygraph. Mulder believes he’s innocent, but Skinner thinks someone involved is lying. Scully asks for permission for her and Mulder to serve a warrant on Markham. Skinner warns them to be extremely careful so no other soldiers are killed.

The agents head to Demeter, Virginia, driving past a sign with a handprint on it. The same handprint is on a locked gate Markham is hesitant to open for them. He lets them in, but dogs chase them back out. Markham comes out to speak to the agents through the gate, though it’s mostly to refuse to answer any questions. Scully points out that a new anti-terrorism law gives the agents the right to hold him for questioning. A team of snipers hiding in the nearby woods does, too.

Markham won’t break confidentiality with the people on the Right Hand’s mailing list, and adds that they’re willing to do pretty much everything to protect themselves from a corrupt government. Mulder shows Markham the king of hearts, leading Markham to warn that more men will be killed. The snipers clear a bunch of weapons from Markham’s house as Markham chats with Mulder, giving him a picture of the killer, Nathaniel Teager.

Teager was a Green Beret in Vietnam, left for dead after the rest of his squadron died. The Right Hand found him in a POW camp in 1995. Scully disagrees that there were still POWs in Vietnam after 1973. Markham tells her the government tried to kidnap Teager after the Right Hand found him, but he vanished before they could get him.

Mulder thinks “a phantom POW left for dead comes back to avenge injustices” is a reasonable explanation for this case. Scully figures it’s just a cover-up for a conspiracy. She suggests that they give Markham a polygraph; when he inevitably fails, they’ll have their answers. Meanwhile, Teager approaches a woman named Mrs. Davenport at the Vietnam Memorial, telling her that her husband, Gary, isn’t dead. He gives her Gary’s dog tags, then disappears.

Mulder and Scully head to the memorial next, confirming with Skinner that Mrs. Davenport IDed Teager. Skinner has also confirmed that Teager’s remains have been stored at a lab since he supposedly died in the 1970s. Scully thinks someone’s posing as Teager to mess with Mrs. Davenport and distract the agents. Poor Mrs. Davenport is now conflicted about whether her first husband is really dead or not. She starts crying blood, which can’t make her day any better. Mulder thinks there’s a connection to Teager’s ability to vanish into thin air.

While Scully takes Mrs. Davenport to get an eye exam, Mulder meets with a Dr. Keyser at the lab holding Teager’s remains. The remains include teeth with scoring on them, and since there’s no way to know if the scores were made before or after death, Mulder notes that they’re not exactly proof that Teager is dead. In fact, the official report says the results are “inconclusive,” so whoever declared Teager dead chose to ignore that.

Mulder calls a general named Steffan to warn that he may be in danger. Steffan signed Teager’s death certificate, and Mulder thinks Teager might go after him next. Steffan reluctantly agrees to listen to Mulder and follow his instructions to keep himself safe. Steffan goes to his office at the Pentagon, and Teager follows, unseen even as he passes through a metal detector. But there’s a king of diamonds on Steffan’s desk when he arrives.

Scully takes Mrs. Davenport to Georgetown Medical Center, where a doctor finds a retinal blind spot on her eye that could explain her inability to see Teager when he supposedly disappeared. Scully calls Mulder, who finds it odd that someone could have a blind spot she never noticed before. The doctor thought Scully was crazy for suggesting that the blind spot was responsible for Mrs. Davenport thinking a human being disappeared.

Steffan calls Mulder to tell him about the card, not realizing that Teager is also in his office. Mulder orders him to call in some officers to protect him, but it’s too late – Teager shoots Steffan while he’s still on the phone. An invisible Teager watches as Mulder picks up the card, then looks right where he’s standing without seeing him.

Scully examines Steffan’s body but can’t explain how he could be shot at such a highly guarded facility. Skinner shows her and Mulder surveillance footage from the entrance, and they clearly see Teager enter then Pentagon. Mulder tells Skinner his theory that Teager can turn invisible by manipulating a blind spot. He thinks Teager learned the trick from the guerrilla fighters who kept him as a POW for 25 years.

Skinner knows he can’t protect all the soldiers arriving for the upcoming rally and parade, so Scully suggests that he cancel the events. Mulder says it doesn’t matter – the only way to protect everyone is to catch Teager. To do that, they need to figure out who his next victim is and protect him. Well, that sounds reasonable. It’s not like there are thousands of military personnel in D.C.

Bloch visits Markham, who doesn’t share his concerns that soldiers are being killed. Markham may be charged with conspiracy and treason, along with possession of illegal arms, but Bloch can offer him a deal if he helps find Teager. Markham says that Bloch can’t give Teager what he wants, at least not without harming his reputation. Teager is sending a message.

As the parade begins, Mulder meets Marita at the Lincoln Memorial to get info on Teager. She tells him that MacDougal and Steffan are connected to a recent news story about the “disposing” of soldiers in South Vietnam. Mulder’s familiar with the scandal – commandos and spies were sent to Vietnam but weren’t protected, so they were captured and killed.

The operation was disavowed, and the three men responsible for their mission – who include Steffan and MacDougal – erased their lives from official records. Those men are now facing charges, and their testimonies could be used to calculate reparations for the soldiers who died. Mulder realizes that this means the U.S. government wants MacDougal, Steffan, and their third comrade dead. They only asked the FBI to protect the men because they know the agents can’t.

Mulder asks Marita for the name of the third man, which I’m sure everyone in the audience has already figured out. Scully and Skinner definitely have, as they run through the parade to grab Bloch. Scully sees Teager in the crowd and pulls a gun to stop him from shooting anyone. Of course, he disappears.

Scully and Mulder meet up later, and Mulder is sure that Scully was sure she saw Teager, though his disappearance makes her wonder. He tells her and Skinner what Marita said about the government wanting the FBI to fail in their investigation. Now they can continue denying that there were POWs left behind after 1973. Mulder thinks Markham is their most valuable ally right now.

Mulder challenges Bloch to come clean, but Bloch is giving a speech at the rally and isn’t going to let a pesky thing like his life being in danger keep him from his duty. So the agents’ 12 hours are up, and the rally begins. A rally attendee recognizes Teager and follows him behind some fences, where – you guessed it – Teager disappears. But this time he’s just hiding for dramatic purposes.

The attendee, Danzinger, is shocked to see his supposedly dead buddy alive and well. Teager tells him that “they” wanted him to believe Teager was dead. He promises that after tonight, Danzinger will believe. Teager says he waited for rescue, but no one came for him. He knows the people in charge thought it was easier to just let him die rather than have to admit the truth. Danzinger reminds Teager that the war has been over for 20 years, but Teager says for him – and the others – it’s still going on. He gives Danzinger a list of names, then disappears.

Bloch takes the stage and finds an ace of clubs on his podium. Now we’re back at the opening scene of the episode, with the agents scanning the crowd for Teager. Once he disappears, Mulder tells Scully that he thinks Teager can only hide himself in someone’s direct line of sight. They go to meet up with Skinner and Bloch, and Mulder figures out that Teager’s waiting in Bloch’s car.

There’s some gunfire, but an agent is able to shoot the invisible Teager and stop him from driving off. Teager’s vanishing trick is the next thing to vanish, and he appears to everyone as he’s dying. He recites his date of birth and service number to Scully over and over. There’s a close-up of an American flag, in case we’ve already forgotten that this is our country’s fault, or whatever.

Sometime later, Mulder and Skinner meet up at the Veterans Memorial, where Mulder brings the news that officials won’t admit that Teager was Teager. They claim he’s Thomas Lynch, a member of the Right Hand who spent time in psychiatric facilities. Markham is backing up that story. Mulder complains that the government is lying again, “trying to make him invisible.” Okay, we get it. Really.

Mulder wants to try to get Teager’s body released, but Skinner tells him the investigation has been sent to another agency. They found Teager, and now he’s dead, so their job is done. Mulder’s upset that the government denied Teager’s life, and now they’re denying his death. He points out that Skinner could have suffered the same fate. After Mulder leaves, Skinner studies the wall, finding Teager’s name.

Thoughts: It’s funny to watch an episode about the U.S. military full of actors with Canadian accents.

Teager must have also learned a trick to make himself look younger, because he doesn’t look old enough to have served in a war that occurred 20 years before the episode aired.

No way would Scully pull a weapon on someone standing with a bunch of civilians, especially when she didn’t see him holding a weapon. Nice try, show.

January 28, 2017

The X-Files 4.15, Kaddish: The Emet Is Out There

Posted in TV tagged at 1:36 pm by Jenn

This is beautiful

This is beautiful

Summary: A Hasidic funeral is taking place at Ben Zion Cemetery in Brooklyn. As dirt is thrown on the coffin, a woman flashes on the last moments of the deceased, who it appears was shot during a convenience-store robbery. The woman puts dirt on the coffin, then lets an older man lead her away. There’s a thunderstorm that night, and someone uses mud in the cemetery to shape a man’s body. After the sculptor leaves, the mud body begins to breathe.

The dead man was Isaac Luria, as Scully tells Mulder. He was from Williamsburg, where a number of hate crimes have been committed against Jewish people. He was, indeed, killed in his store, and his murder was captured on surveillance cameras. However, the killer hasn’t been arrested…because he’s also dead. He was strangled while watching the footage of his crime. The fingerprints pulled from the killer’s body belong to Isaac.

Mulder, amused, wonders if they’re dealing with a zombie. Scully thinks this is a case of revenge “disguised as spectral justice.” Mulder clarifies that she means a “resurrection hoax.” Their job is the find out how the killer’s killer got Isaac’s fingerprints. The agents go to see Isaac’s widow, Ariel (the woman from the funeral), who’s with her father, Jacob (the older man who was with her in the cemetery). Jacob’s upset that the agents are interrupting their shiva to ask if they can look for evidence in Isaac’s grave.

Scully shows Ariel a picture of one of the killer, Tony, and tells her that there are two accomplices still at large. Ariel is surprised to see how young Tony is. Jacob’s furious that the police didn’t do anything when Isaac said he was in danger. Mulder asks if there was a specific threat against him. “The threat is always there,” Jacob replies. He shows Mulder a pamphlet slid under his door about how Jews are responsible for AIDS. He’s happy that someone took out the killer.

Scully points out that they’re investigating a homicide, so Jacob and Ariel have to cooperate. If they don’t, the agents can get a court order and go around them. Ariel tells them to do whatever they need, then leave her and her father in peace. In their car, Scully tells Mulder that she thinks Jacob knows who killed Tony, and he’s afraid they’ll figure it out if they dig up Isaac’s grave.

Mulder thinks it’s natural that Jacob would want to protect Tony’s killer, considering it justice after all the hatred he and his people have experienced. Scully notes that there’s a difference between justice and revenge. Mulder thinks the publisher of the pamphlet knows Tony’s accomplices and probably also knows who killed Tony. They head off on their next task as someone covered in mud watches Ariel’s apartment building.

The agents chat with the pamphlet publisher, Brunjes, who’s anti-Semitic and claims not to be familiar with the accomplices, Derek and Clinton. Mulder shows him the pamphlet, saying it could have encouraged the boys to kill Isaac. Brunjes accuses Mulder of working with “them,” remarking that Mulder looks like he could be one himself. (I wonder how David Duchovny liked that line, since he’s Jewish.) Brunjes insists that he’s not a “Zionist collaborator.”

Scully tries to impress upon Brunjes that Derek and Clinton could be in danger. In reality, Derek is currently in a backroom, watching the conversation on a surveillance monitor. He hears Scully say that there’s now a rumor that Isaac came back from the dead to get revenge. “What kind of Jew trick is this?” Brunjes asks. “A Jew pulled it off 2,000 years ago,” Mulder replies. (NICE!) Scully tells Brunjes to keep them in mind if he thinks of anything that will help them protect Derek and Clinton. “Bless you,” Mulder says to him as they leave.

Brunjes goes to the backroom to check on Derek, but he and Clinton are now at the cemetery, digging up Isaac’s grave as the muddy person watches. The coffin is nailed shut, and when Clinton goes to the car to get tools, he’s attacked. Derek uses his shovel to break into the coffin, which still contains Isaac’s body. He realizes Clinton has gone quiet, then sees his friend’s body nearby.

Like Tony, Clinton was strangled, and two sets of footprints have been found at the crime scene. Scully thinks Clinton and Derek came to desecrate Isaac’s corpse as revenge for Tony’s death. Mulder thinks they were afraid that Isaac was still alive. There are marks on Isaac’s body, but Scully can’t tell what they’re from. Mulder pulls a book from the coffin, and it immediately bursts into flames.

Derek goes to see Brunjes, who he blames for the idea of killing Isaac. Brunjes says they’re just spreading the truth about Jews, not actually killing them. Derek tells him that Clinton’s dead now, too, and he wants the money Brunjes owes him for his work.

Mulder and Scully take the remains of the book to a…book historian…guy, who tells them it’s the Book of Creation, a book about communion with the divine. He’s not familiar with the idea of a copy spontaneously combusting – it’s a book about mysticism, but that doesn’t mean it has mystical properties. Scully has a scientific explanation for the burning anyway (of course). The historian sees that a name was engraved on the cover, Jacob Weiss.

So the agents go back to Ariel and tell her that Clinton was killed right by Isaac’s grave. They have evidence placing Ariel’s father at the scene of the murder. If Ariel knows anything, she needs to help them stop it. She tells them that she and Isaac weren’t officially married yet; they had their wedding license, and the wedding itself was supposed to take place today.

She shows them their communal wedding ring made by a jeweler her father apprenticed for as a child in Prague. Her father survived the Holocaust because he was young and had small enough fingers to make bullets. He hit the ring for decades, even from his wife, because “it was a dead relic from a forgotten place.” When Ariel announced that she was getting married, Jacob “felt his village was born again.” Scully asks where Jacob is, but Ariel is certain that he would never kill anyone.

The agents want to talk to him anyway, so they go to Jacob’s synagogue. The rabbi stops the prayers and talks to the agents, giving Jacob a chance to slip away. The agents follow him to the attic, where they find a hanged body. Something (or someone) knocks them both down, but they’re finally able to nab Jacob. Someone with a muddy hand (and something written on it) is watching.

Ariel meets them at the police station and demands to talk to her father. Mulder questions Jacob, who says he was just checking out a noise in the attic, suspicious of vandals. He was attacked and fought back in self-defense. He doesn’t consider it strange that his method of defending himself was to hang his attacker. Mulder warns that his book was found in Isaac’s grave, which means he can be placed at two crime scenes. Mulder thinks there was someone else in the attic, but Jacob won’t say anything more.

Scully shares with Mulder the results of a background check on Jacob, who was once arrested for a bombing that killed seven innocent people. Since he basically confessed to the murder in the attic, Scully thinks the case is closed. Mulder disagrees, still sure there was someone else in the attic with them. Ariel asks why her father confessed, and he tells her they found his book in Isaac’s grave. Ariel finds that hard to believe.

Brunjes is printing out more pamphlets when he’s strangled by a muddy hand. Peace out, bigot. Meanwhile, Mulder goes back to the historian to ask questions about the myth of the golem. The historian explains the old belief that a man could be created out of mud or clay, using “the power of the word,” secret combinations of letters. There are actual instructions in the Book of Creation for “animating the inanimate.”

Whoever creates a golem writes the word emet on his hand, “truth.” A golem is a body without a soul, basically a monster that goes wild and has to be destroyed by the person who created it. This is accomplished by erasing the first letter of the word so that emet becomes met, “dead.” The historian notes that this demonstrates how powerful words can be – they both create and kill.

Scully calls (“Mulder, it’s me”) to tell her partner that Brunjes is dead. They meet at his shop and see his latest pamphlet, which talks about ridding the country of the “scourge” of Jews. Scully looks at a list of people who receive Brunjes’ mailings, including Tony, Derek, and Clinton. Surveillance footage shows Brunjes’ killer, who looks like Isaac. Mulder, however, has figured out the emet, if you will.

The agents confirm that the corpse in Isaac’s grave is Isaac’s, so he couldn’t have killed Brunjes. Mulder explains the idea of the golem to Scully, who has a hard time grasping that someone made a killer out of mud. Mulder, however, thinks the golem was created out of love, not hatred. They go to see Ariel, but she and her ring are both gone.

Jacob (who was…let out of jail? I guess?) finds Ariel at the synagogue, preparing for her wedding. He’s figured out that she made a golem in hopes of holding on to her husband. He reminds her that it’s not a real person, but an “abomination.” Ariel tells her father about the last conversation she had with Isaac, and how she knew right away something had happened even before she got the call telling her he was dead. She just wanted the chance to say goodbye to her fiancé.

Ariel says she just wished for Isaac to come back – “they were just words.” But now we know that words have the power to create beings. Jacob hears a noise and goes to intercept the golem as the agents arrive at the synagogue. They find him hanging from the ceiling but are able to cut him down before he’s strangled. Mulder goes looking for Ariel, but she doesn’t want to leave without the Isaac golem. Mulder has to shoot him so he won’t run off and harm anyone else.

The golem attacks Mulder, but Ariel stops him, offering him their ring. She recites her vows and the golem places the ring on her finger. She rubs the first letter of emet off of his hand and tells him she loves him. The golem disintegrates, and Ariel says a final prayer and goodbye to her fiancé.

Thoughts: I can’t believe this episode came up right after Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in the midst of the trash-fire hellscape that is the United States in 2017.

Jacob is played by David Groh, who’s probably best known as Joe on Rhoda. …Which was a spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Mary Tyler Moore just died. THIS IS FREAKY.

For more fun with golems, watch the awesomely named Supernatural episode “Everybody Hates Hitler.” Also check out the sequel, “The One You’ve Been Waiting For,” in which Dean kills Hitler.

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.

January 14, 2017

The X-Files 4.13, Never Again: The Silence of the Tattoos

Posted in TV tagged at 1:36 pm by Jenn

Let's be honest, Scully's taste isn't an issue here at all

Let’s be honest, Scully’s taste isn’t an issue here at all

Summary: A court case in Philadelphia has just been declared closed, and a man named Ed Jerse is officially divorced. He drowns his sorrows at a bar, using a cigarette to burn his face in a picture of himself and his kids. He ends the night at a tattoo parlor, enticed by a sketch of a winking Bettie Page-type woman. He gets the tattoo and heads home, where he passes out. The woman, who has “never again” written under her picture, now has both eyes open.

Mulder and Scully are at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., meeting with a contact in the middle of the night. The man is telling them about his experiences working on a base under the KGB’s control. Scully loses interest and looks at some things left at the memorial, including a dried flower petal.

Jerse goes to work, calling people about stocks, but he looks a little under the weather. A woman’s voice calls him a loser, and he thinks the woman he’s on the phone with is insulting him. Jerse hears laughter and goes down the hall to confront a co-worker. The voice (Betty) tells him to trash her desk, so he does. His boss sends him home.

In D.C., Scully studies Mulder’s nameplate and “I want to believe” poster in their supposedly shared office. Mulder tells her that he’s being forced to take a week’s vacation, since he hasn’t had one in four years and would otherwise lose eight weeks’ worth of pay. (I’m pretty sure that’s an illegal policy, but whatever.) He expects Scully to keep an eye on some things while he’s gone.

Scully asks why she doesn’t have a desk. Apparently Mulder has never noticed that she doesn’t have her own space in the office. He offers to get her a desk, though there isn’t really room for it. He then chastises her for not being interested when they were talking to the contact the night before. The contact, Pudovkin, worked at a military space center and smuggled out reports of alien craft. Scully is to go to Philadelphia and confirm the identities of people Pudovkin is blowing the whistle on.

Scully announces that she’s not going. Pudovkin’s story the night before was the plot of an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Mulder confirms that she’s refusing an assignment. Scully remarks that he’s acting like he’s her superior. He notes that he worked hard to get the X-Files reopened, while Scully was just assigned there. She replies that the job isn’t her whole life like it is his.

Mulder’s hurt that she doesn’t seem to want to be there, but Scully tells him it’s not about him. She admits that she feels like she’s lost sight of herself. They’re not even going in circles anymore; they’re moving in a line that never ends. Meanwhile, the rest of her life is standing still. Mulder thinks his vacation is coming at a perfect time – they need some time apart.

Scully asks where Mulder’s vacationing, and though he won’t give details, he tells her he’s going somewhere he’s always wanted to go. He hopes to have a “spiritual journey” and discover something about himself. He suggests that Scully do the same. She pulls the dried petal out of her pocket and leaves it on Mulder’s desk.

Jerse tries desperately to keep his job, but his boss won’t give him a second chance. He responds politely as she fires him over the phone. Betty mocks him for letting yet another woman screw him over. Jerse thinks the voice is coming from his downstairs neighbor, a woman with birds who doesn’t appreciate him pounding on her ceiling.

A couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses come to Jerse’s door, and he asks if they hear what he hears. The female half of the pair is sure that his downstairs neighbor, Ms. Schilling, isn’t doing anything to bother him. Jerse tells them that “she” somehow knows what he’s feeling. Maybe he’s the victim of surveillance. The visitors leave quickly, giving Jerse a pamphlet that asks, “Are you a failure?” Betty mocks Jerse again, saying that no woman wants to waste her time on him.

Jerse goes downstairs, bursting into Ms. Schilling’s apartment and attacking her. Her episode of The Partridge Family continues, asking, “Doesn’t somebody want to be wanted like me?” as Jerse kills her and puts her body in the building’s furnace. Betty praises him and volunteers herself as Jerse’s “right-hand gal.” She promises that no one will hurt him as long as she’s with him: “Never again.”

Mulder pulls off to the side of a road to call the office and check on Scully. She’s not there, as she’s gone to Philadelphia after all. She tracks one of the men Pudovkin named to a convenience store, then follows him across the street to the tattoo parlor. Jerse is there again, asking to have his tattoo covered. “Everyone gets the tattoo they deserve,” the artist tells him.

Scully is asked for her opinion on the tattoo, which she finds impressive. The artist, Svo, got the distinct red pigment on Betty’s lips from a Soviet prison. “Thought I was your girl,” Betty says as Jerse shows some interest in Scully. She warns him not to break her heart over a “cheap redhead.” (Not cool, Betty.) Svo tells Scully that a tattoo reflects what’s in a person’s soul. He did his prison tattoos using found items, and now uses grasses like rye, which he used for Jerse’s.

As Svo leaves the room, Jerse warns Scully to give any tattoo she might get more thought than he did. She admits that she’d like to be a little more impulsive. Jerse asks why she’s there, and she lies that she’s visiting an aunt in the neighborhood. He offers to show her the city, by which he means take her to dinner. Scully says she’s leaving that night, so he gives her his card in case she’s ever back in town.

Scully does some work in her hotel room, getting a call from Mulder, who’s now at his destination. His “spiritual journey” will be taking place at Graceland. Scully’s surprised that he knew where she was, so he explains that he checked the hotel where they always stay in Philly. He knew she wouldn’t “abandon” him. Scully tells him she’s handed Pudovkin’s case over to the local bureau, since they’re not dealing with an X-File. Her background check just turned up swindlers.

Mulder asks her to hold off until he joins her in Philly. Scully calls him on questioning her work, repeating that their time on the case is over. She tells him she has to go, and he sarcastically asks if she has a date to get to. When she doesn’t answer, he thinks she really does have one. Mulder’s not too worried, though, since he just goes back to touring Graceland and trying to imitate Elvis.

Betty tries to convince Jerse that he’s better off with just her. Other women are controlling and jealous, and Scully wouldn’t have been any different. Just then, Scully calls (going by Dana) and pretends her flight was cancelled, so she’d like to have dinner. Betty tells Jerse that Scully might be pretty, but that’s only skin deep. Betty goes “all the way to the bone.” Jerse responds by burning her face with his cigarette.

Scully comes to Jerse’s building, passing the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have come back to talk to Ms. Schilling but aren’t getting a response at her door. Scully warns Jerse that she doesn’t date much, but before he can respond, she sees that his arm is bleeding. She offers to take a look, since she’s a doctor and all, but Jerse says the tattoo has just been “nothing but trouble.” She sees his burned picture and asks him to take her to the bar where he drank the night he got the tattoo.

The two have a drink as Scully talks about her life often going in a circle. A controlling or authoritative figure comes into her life, and she appreciates it for a while, but eventually she gets annoyed. Her father was a Navy captain and she always loved him, but when she was 13, she snuck out to smoke her mother’s cigarettes, knowing it would make her father mad. Since then, she’s had “other fathers” in her life.

Jerse wants to live in a straight line rather than a circle. He got the tattoo to mark the moment his life changed. It’ll remind him of something he never wants to happen again. Scully asks to see the tattoo, but Jerse tries to keep her from pulling up his sleeve. He tells her that if she’s so curious about tattoos, she should get her own. So in one of the weirdest erotic-though-it-shouldn’t-be scenes in the series, Scully gets an ouroboros on her back in the same red as Betty’s lips.

The weather’s bad, so Jerse suggests that Scully spend the night at his place (he’ll sleep on the couch, if you believe that). Scully says she feels different with a tattoo, even though she can’t see it. She sees blood on his arm again, and this time he lets her check out his tattoo. Betty orders Jerse to get Scully’s hands off of her. Jerse grabs Scully’s hands as Betty warns, “You kiss her and she’s dead.” Jerse ignores the voice.

Mulder’s back in D.C., but he can’t reach Scully, since she’s not in her hotel room. He sees the petal on his desk. In Philly, Jerse wakes up and checks his tattoo. Later in the morning, Scully’s alone when she’s woken by two detectives at the door. They’re investigating Ms. Schilling’s disappearance and the blood found in her apartment. There were “abnormalities” in the blood, which wasn’t Ms. Schilling’s. The detectives urge Scully to get Jerse to contact them when he gets back.

Scully finds a note from Jerse telling her he went to get breakfast. She uses his super-primitive Internet to get into the FBI database and look into the blood abnormalities. She discovers that the blood contained ergot, which can come from grass and can cause hallucinations. Scully quickly puts everything together and calls Mulder, but she hangs up just before he answers the phone.

When Jerse returns home, Scully tells him about the blood, which she thinks may be his. Jerse says he helped Ms. Schilling move in and must have cut himself in her apartment. She tells him about the ergot, a parasite that could cause “dangerous and unlikely behavior.” They both need to go to a hospital and get tested. Jerse admits that he hears a voice “in [his] head, only deeper.” Scully realizes that his tattoo his talking to him.

Jerse continues that Betty hates women and makes him do things he doesn’t want to. He thinks Scully made her go away. Scully calmly repeats that they need to get help. As she leaves to get dressed, she drops her FBI badge, but Jerse doesn’t comment on it, so it’s not clear if he saw it. Betty pushes Jerse to find out who Scully called while he was gone. Jerse star 69s the call, reaching the FBI and asking for Scully. When the operator says she’ll connect him, he gets violent with Scully.

Jerse yells, “Never again!” as he tries to go up against a trained FBI agent. Scully locks herself in the bathroom and manages to grab some scissors. Unfortunately, scissors are no match for Jerse knocking her out. Betty laughs maniacally and tells Jerse, “Burn her!” He wraps Scully in a sheet and takes her to the furnace room. He hesitates, so Betty tells him to do it for her.

The hesitation is enough to let Scully free herself and stab Jerse in the arm with the scissors he accidentally wrapped up with her. She tries to convince Jerse that he’s not acting like himself, telling him to get control of himself. Betty disagrees, telling Jerse that losing control is good. Jerse sticks his arm in the furnace, effectively destroying Betty and the voice (as well as a few layers of skin, but, you know, everything’s a sacrifice).

Scully spends some time in the hospital, then heads back to work, where Mulder congratulates her for becoming an X-File for the second time. Jerse is in a burn center and will be psychiatrically evaluated. The Pudovkin/Svo case is being wrapped up. Mulder jokes that it’s too bad Svo will be put out of business, since he wanted to get “NY” tattooed on his butt in honor of the Yankees’ World Series win.

Scully finds the petal still on the desk as Mulder tells her about their next case. He stops, wondering if she went wild in Philly all because he didn’t get her a desk. “Not everything is about you, Mulder,” she replies. “This is my life.” He starts to respond, but the look on her face makes him fall silent.

Thoughts: Betty is voiced by Jodie Foster, whose portrayal of Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs inspired Chris Carter’s creation of Scully.

After this episode, Gillian Anderson dated Rodney Rowland (Jerse) for a while. She took him to the Emmy’s that year, where she famously kissed David Duchovny before him when she won.

Ms. Schilling is named for Entertainment Weekly editor Mary Kaye Schilling. James Wong and Glen Morgan wanted some petty revenge after the magazine gave some episodes a bad review. Ms. Schilling even uses an issue of the magazine to line her birdcage.

This episode was shot before “Leonard Betts,” so Anderson didn’t know about Scully’s cancer yet, which is why she acts like everything’s normal.

I think it was Carter who later insisted that Scully never had a one-night stand during the course of the series, even though, in this episode, it’s pretty clear she did. Like, are we supposed to believe Scully and Jerse slept in the same bed but didn’t do anything?

January 7, 2017

The X-Files 4.12, Leonard Betts: “You’ve Got Something I Need”

Posted in TV tagged at 1:16 pm by Jenn

Probably the last time Mulder will be this amused for a while

Probably the last time Mulder will be this amused for a while

Summary: An ambulance is on its way to a hospital in Pittsburgh, carrying a man who seems to be having a heart attack. One of the paramedics, Leonard, does something life-saving and tells his partner that the patient was really having breathing problems. He can tell that the patient is dying of cancer. Before he can explain to his partner how he knows that, the ambulance crashes. The partner survives, but Leonard ends up headless. That night, after putting Leonard in a drawer, a morgue attendant hears noises and goes to investigate. Guess who’s still alive?

Mulder and Scully come up to Pennsylvania to find out how Leonard’s drawer can now be empty. The morgue attendant was knocked out and his clothes stolen, but he didn’t see who the thief was. Scully asks if Mulder’s suggesting that a man without a head walked out of the morgue. Mulder’s face: “…What if I am?” Scully thinks someone stole the body and there’s a cover-up going on. Mulder wonders why someone would steal a body without a head.

A police officer shows them surveillance photos of the thief, but static on the feed obscures his head (or possibly the space where his head should be). Scully thinks the thief hid the body in an area of the hospital marked for the destruction of biohazardous material. She volunteers to check the storage place, an experience Mulder isn’t happy to have to join in on. They find Leonard’s head, but not his body. Mulder sends Scully to examine the head while Mulder checks out Leonard’s house.

Scully does her thing, noticing that the head hasn’t decomposed in the amount of time it should have since the accident. Also, the eyes and mouth open and close on their own, which probably isn’t normal for a decapitated head. As Mulder enters Leonard’s apartment, someone runs through it and hides. In the bathroom, Mulder finds the stolen scrubs and a bathtub full of something dark, with a trail leading out the window. He also spots a bottle of iodine.

Scully calls to report that every time she tries to scan the head, the image is grainy, like the security footage. The technicians told her that only radiation could distort the image, but there’s no indication of where it’s coming from. Scully has suspended the examination because of the head’s movements; she knows they’re from chemical reactions, but she’s still wary about cutting into it.

Mulder tells her that whoever took the body went to Leonard’s apartment. Maybe it was Leonard himself. Scully doesn’t know how to respond to that. As Mulder leaves the apartment, Leonard, now reheaded, emerges from the iodine-filled bathtub.

Mulder tracks down Leonard’s partner, Michele, who confirms that he had no family or friends. They worked together, but Leonard did most of the work – he could diagnose people practically just by looking at them. He was always healthy, despite being around sick people, and was never injured on the job until the accident. Michele’s curious as to why Mulder’s asking questions about Leonard when he should by trying to find out what happened to his body.

Scully does something high-tech with the head so she can autopsy it. A doctor named Burks examines a piece of his brain, which shows cancer in every cell. Leonard shouldn’t have even been alive. This isn’t as shocking to Mulder as it should be. Michele is back at work with a new partner, and she’s stunned to hear what sounds like Leonard’s voice on her radio, helping out with a patient in another ambulance.

Burks does something called aura photography to show Leonard’s chi, or coronal discharge. Scully’s skeptical (shocking!), but Mulder thinks this could explain the unclear scans. Burks explains that this kind of procedure can show things that have been removed, like vestigial tails. This one shows “some kind of energy.” Burks finds it hard to believe that the head was decapitated, since the picture shows a regular neck and pair of shoulders attached to the head.

Mulder thinks everything makes sense – the cancer wasn’t destructive, as it usually is, but Leonard’s “normal state of being.” His life force retained a kind of blueprint of his body, allowing him to regenerate quickly. Scully, translating to English: “You think that Leonard Betts regrew his head?” Mulder tells her about the iodine he found, which is often used in regeneration. Scully points out that no creatures can regrow their heads (worms don’t count). Mulder thinks they just haven’t found one yet that can.

Scully gets a call about Leonard’s fingerprints, which reveal that he went by another name, Albert Tanner. Albert’s mother, Elaine, is in the area, so the agents head over to talk to her. Elaine has never heard the name Leonard Betts, and she hasn’t heard that he died recently…since she thinks Albert died in a car accident six years ago.

As Michele leaves work that night, she asks around about new paramedics. She spots Leonard, who confirms that he’s alive, then says he wishes she hadn’t found him. As he’s hugging her, he injects her with something that makes her convulse. A security guard sees them and chases after Leonard, tackling him in the parking lot and handcuffing him to a car. As the guard walks away to radio in a report and check on Michele, Leonard removes one of his thumbs to escape the cuffs.

At least now Mulder and Scully have another of Leonard’s body parts to examine. Michele’s dead, thanks to a lethal dose of an electrolyte that the coroner wouldn’t normal check for, since it occurs naturally in the body. Scully doesn’t believe Mulder’s theory that Leonard tore off his own thumb to get away. Evolution doesn’t work that way. Mulder disagrees – evolution doesn’t proceed in a straight line, and the unimaginable can happen in the gap between what humans are and what Leonard has become.

Scully argues that Leonard would have to be so evolved that he’s technically not human anymore. Mulder thinks the fact that he drives a Dodge Dart is evidence of that. They check out his trunk, which contains a cooler full of surgical waste – specifically, tumors. Mulder thinks that Leonard’s not just cancer, but that he needs it to survive. It makes sense to him that evolution would incorporate a threat in its makeup. As a paramedic, Leonard would have access to cancer wards.

The police trace Leonard’s car to Elaine, so the agents go back to her house with a warrant. Even after being warned that she might be an accessory to murder, Elaine isn’t helpful. She tells the agents that when Leonard was picked on as a child for being different, he ignored them because he knew he was special. Even when he was beaten up, he didn’t fight back. She doesn’t believe that he’s capable of murder, but if he killed Michele, he had reasons. God wants him to stay alive for a reason.

Leonard and his slowly regenerating thumb go to a bar and stalk a man with a bad cough. Leonard tells the man, “I’m sorry, but you’ve got something I need” and removes a scalpel from his sleeve. At Elaine’s house, Mulder and Scully find a receipt for a storage locker. Leonard’s already there, growing another new head with help from some truly gross CGI. When the agents arrive, the find the coughing man’s body and barely get out of the way of Leonard’s car as he’s driving away. The agents shoot at the car, which goes up in flames. I don’t think that’s FBI procedure, guys.

Scully examines the body of the coughing man, which is now missing a lung. Mulder guesses that he had lung cancer, and Leonard took his tumor. Scully’s sure that Leonard’s dead for real this time, and he’s even willing to bet on it. The agents check out Albert’s coffin, which still contains a dead body, now lying near Leonard’s dead body. Scully thinks they’re just dealing with identical twins. Mulder’s able to believe that Leonard can just regenerate his whole body and will turn up again.

This is exactly right, as Elaine has a body in her bathtub and is regenerating it with iodine. She warns her son that the FBI is still investigating, and he’ll need to restore his strength so he can keep fighting. Mulder and Scully stake out Elaine’s house, where an ambulance soon shows up for a call about a woman with chest trauma and massive blood loss. The agents go inside with the paramedics, and Scully finds Elaine alive, though she’s had something removed from her chest.

Mulder calls for backup while Scully goes to the hospital with Elaine. She calls Mulder from the hospital (“Mulder, it’s me”) to report that Elaine has gotten worse, so they won’t be able to talk to her for a while. As Mulder’s talking, Scully feels something dripping on her and sees iodine on her fingers. When she spots it on the roof of the ambulance, she tells Mulder to get to the hospital ASAP. It seems Leonard hitched a ride to the hospital on top of the ambulance. He pulls Scully inside the vehicle and says, “I’m sorry, but you’ve got something I need.”

Leonard tries to cut into Scully with a scalpel (right between the eyes, just where Gerry indicated in “Unruhe”), but she’s awesome and manages to fight him. She finishes him off by using defibrillation paddles on his head. Mulder wraps up the case as Scully tries to figure out just what Leonard’s words to her mean. That night, she wakes up coughing and sees drops of blood on her pillow. Her nose is bleeding.

Thoughts: Leonard is played by Paul McCrane (ER, Fame).

You can tell Scully’s seen a lot of weird things because when Mulder tells her that Leonard disappeared despite not having a head, she doesn’t even blink.

Scully says Leonard’s head weighs 10.9 pounds, which means the kid from Jerry Maguire was wrong.

Mulder, answering his phone: “Mulder.” Scully: “It’s me.” Nope, not the same.

If people think you’re dead and you don’t want them to find out you’re not, maybe move to another town? How did Leonard get a new job so quickly anyway? And since he was a well-known paramedic, wouldn’t the person who hired him find him familiar?

The coughing man’s name turns out to be John Gillnitz, a name used multiple times on the show. It’s a combination of three writer/producers’ names: John Shiban, Vince Gilligan, and Frank Spotnitz.

December 31, 2016

The X-Files 4.11, El Mundo Gira: No One Cares About Undocumented Migrant Workers (Except This Show)

Posted in TV tagged at 1:17 pm by Jenn

Just be glad I didn't pick a picture of a dead goat, or something even worse

Just be glad I didn’t pick a picture of a dead goat, or something even worse

Summary: It’s story time! A woman named Flakita wants to tell a bunch of people a story that takes place in a migrant workers’ camp in San Joaquin Valley, California. She watches as a young couple kisses goodbye before one of them heads off to work. Then another man approaches the woman to tell her he enjoyed the time they spent together the night before. He’s the other guy’s brother, so we have a tricky love triangle going on here.

Flakita stops the woman, Maria, from flirting by pointing out that her goats have escaped. She and Eladio, the brother she’s not with, run after them. Suddenly there’s a loud noise and a bright flash of light. Rain pours down, and Flakita notices that it’s yellow. It stops as quickly as it started, and the goats start coming back to the camp. Flakita runs out to find Maria, who’s dead, her eyes seemingly burned out.

Three days later, Mulder practices his Spanish as Scully checks out one of Maria’s dead goats. He tells Scully about the “transient,” the flash storm that took place just before Maria’s death. They’ve been linked to alien encounters and cattle mutilations in the past. However, no one’s examined Maria’s body yet because no one cares how she died. The camp is full of undocumented workers, and Mulder wants to talk to them before they leave for jobs elsewhere.

When the agents check out a house to talk to people, someone yells that they’re the immigration police, which sends everyone running. The agents promise that they just want to talk about what happened to Maria. Flakita announces that the chupacabra killed her. No one saw it, but everyone at the camp believes that’s what happened. Everyone, that is, except Soledad, Maria’s boyfriend – he thinks Eladio killed Maria out of jealousy.

Mulder asks about the yellow rain and dead goat. Soledad calls them tricks, “for fools who believe in fool superstitions.” Scully likes Soledad’s explanation makes sense, and the case is nothing more than a “Mexican soap opera” the local cops can take care of. Mulder points out that the local cops don’t care about migrant workers. He wants to talk to Eladio.

Unable to find Eladio in police custody, Mulder checks with an INS agent named Conrad Lozano to see if he’s picked up Eladio. The problem is that the people the agency has rounded up gave fake names (they currently have Jose Feliciano, Juan Valdez, Cesar Chavez, and Placido Domingo in custody). Lozano has heard the Maria/chupacabra story and tells Mulder that migrant workers often turn to their folklore because they can’t go to the law with their problems.

Scully goes to a morgue in Fresno to examine Maria’s body, which is covered in some sort of green plant. Meanwhile, Lozano and Mulder find Eladio in custody, using the name Erik Estrada. Eladio insists that he’s innocent and gives the version of events that Flakita gave. Maria said his name and then died in his arms. “This guy is better than Erik Estrada,” Lozano says of Eladio’s passionate monologue.

No one else in custody wants to be near Eladio, who will be taken before a judge as a formality before being sent back to Mexico. Mulder wants to delay his deportation in case he can help with the case. Lozano doesn’t think it’s worth Mulder’s time, but he might as well file his paperwork. Eladio will probably be back in the country before it’s processed anyway.

Scully reunites with Mulder and tells him that Eladio didn’t kill Maria – a fungal infection did. Aspergillus is usually harmless, but since Maria had a buildup of a toxic pesticide in her system, the fungus may have compromised her immune system. Mulder still wants to know how the light, rain, and story of the chupacabra fit in. Scully makes the first “get it? Illegal aliens? On a show about aliens?” reference by saying that in this story, the aliens are the victims.

On their way back to the camp, the agents see the INS bus on the side of the road, and all its passengers running for freedom. Inside, the driver is dead, his body swollen. Scully thinks he suffered a fungal infection as well; this one sent his body into systemic shock. Lozano joins the agents and tells them that Eladio is missing. The other passengers ran from him, still thinking he’s the chupacabra. Mulder thinks that Eladio is still important to the investigation, as he’s tied to two deaths.

Scully wants to figure out the pathogen they’re dealing with first. Mulder sends her to do that while he and Lozano look into the chupacabra. Meanwhile, Eladio goes to a barbershop to get help returning to Mexico from the man who brought him to the U.S. The coyote won’t help without money. Also, the coyote is a racist jerk, and if the chupacabra were to kill him next, I wouldn’t be sad.

In the morning, Eladio goes to the pickup spot and gets in the truck of a foreman trying to hire day laborers. The other workers don’t want to get in the truck with him. Scully learns that the fungus that killed the bus driver is the same as that in athlete’s foot. A pathologist thinks an enzyme found in the yellow rain acted as a catalyst and accelerated the growth rate of the fungus. He demonstrates with another fungus common in the area, showing how the enzyme makes it ooze out of its petri dish.

While Lozano talks with some workers, Mulder waits patiently by a wall covered in graffiti that reads “el chupacabra vive!” An illustration of the chupacabra makes it look like an alien. Lozano confirms that Eladio got into a foreman’s truck, and that people still think he’s the chupacabra. Lozano thinks Eladio has bigger problems, like what Soledad will do when he finds him. He thinks they should back off of this family feud, since anyone who stands between brothers will be cursed. Mulder disagrees.

Eladio works all day, barely able to stand by the end of his work. He’s also sweating something yellow. Soledad tracks him down, not noticing that the water cooler Eladio just touched has now started growing a fungus. Soledad thinks his brother’s hiding in a port-a-potty, but instead he finds the foreman, dead and covered in fungus. Eladio steals the foreman’s truck and almost runs over Soledad as he drives away.

Eladio winds up at a house where a woman named Gabrielle is working. She’s heard the stories about him and isn’t about to run off with him. However, she’s willing to give him some money if he can wait until she gets paid at her job at a market that night. He tells her he doesn’t have time and runs off, ditching the truck.

Scully calls Mulder (“Mulder, it’s me”) and tells him she thinks Eladio is responsible for the deaths after all, accidentally passing on a super-strain of fungus to people. She warns Mulder not to come into contact with it, or even breathe it in. Mulder and Lozano are at Eladio’s work site and have found the dead foreman. Mulder thinks that the transient might have been caused by something falling from the sky, a bolide created by space debris. So…aliens.

Scully points out that that’s not really important right now – Mulder and Lozano need to find Eladio and keep him from accidentally killing anyone else. Lozano comments that Mulder, like the migrants, has his own stories to explain the unexplainable. The coyote drives by just then and offers to give them information on Eladio’s whereabouts, for a price.

Mulder and Lozano find Eladio as he’s about to get on a truck bound for Mexico. A bunch of other migrants run from Eladio, which they don’t realize is the best thing to do. Unfortunately, the agents lose track of him. Later, they’re called to the scene of a bunch of dead goats in a truck. Lozano explains to Mulder and Scully that migrant workers are basically invisible; they do tons of work but people don’t pay attention to them. “To most people, they’re aliens in the true sense of the word.” Yeah, we get it.

Flakita arrives and tells the agents that Eladio went to see Gabrielle (his cousin). Soledad went there later, looking for his brother. The agents are the next to visit, but no one believes her claims that neither brother is there. Scully warns her not to let Eladio in if he comes back. The agents leave the apartment, but Mulder thinks they should hang around outside for a little while.

Eladio goes to a convenience store, showing signs of infection. He steals some nuts, which quickly start growing fuzz. Rest in peace, clerk who touches one of them. The agents spy Soledad leaving Gabrielle’s building as Gabrielle calls Eladio at a pay phone at the market, where she’s supposed to be working. She lets him know that Soledad is after him. Soledad arrives at the market moments later, followed by the agents. Everyone draws a gun, so insert your own “Mexican stand-off” joke here.

Soledad says he just wanted to avenge Maria’s death. The agents subdue him as Scully sees the dead clerk and massive amounts of fungus in the store. Eladio goes to Gabrielle’s apartment, and she quickly sees that his face is deformed. She says he killed Maria and really is the chupacabra. Eladio screams dramatically.

By the time the agents arrive, Eladio’s gone, along with the money Gabrielle gave him to go back to Mexico. Lozano peaces out, saying he’s going to take Soledad in while the agents deal with the rest of the case. Scully worries that Eladio will take his fungus somewhere with a high population and inadvertently kill a bunch of people. Mulder thinks Gabrielle lied about Eladio going back to Mexico, since everyone thinks he’s a killer and would never welcome him back there. He’s going to face Soledad instead.

The agents assemble a hazmat team as Lozano goes to the migrant camp and demands that Eladio come out and face his brother. Flakita watches as the brothers fight and a gun goes off. Unfortunately, it’s Lozano who ends up dead. There’s a light in the sky, and creatures that look like aliens come toward the camp.

Flakita finishes her story, telling her audience that other chupacabras were coming to save Eladio. She closed her door and prayed, but she’s sure that Soledad was taken away and punished by being forced to suck blood from goats. Another woman says that Gabrielle admitted that she lied to the FBI. The night of the confrontation, Lozano stops Eladio and orders him to face Soledad. Soledad grabs Lozano’s gun and threatens to shoot Eladio. Eladio turns around and announces that he’s the chupacabra.

In Gabrielle’s version of story, which she tells some workers, Lozano urges Soledad to shoot Eladio, but Soledad can’t hurt his brother. She thinks he also knew that she would never forgive him. Lozano called Soledad a coward and tried to take the gun from him, which is when it went off, killing Lozano. Gabrielle thinks Lozano wanted Soledad to kill Eladio so Lozano wouldn’t be cursed for standing between them. Instead, Soledad was cursed by God and turned into a chupacabra. Now the brothers are back in Mexico, killing goats together.

The agents present the case to Skinner back in D.C. Thanks for showing up for four seconds, Skinner. Flakita was the only eyewitness, but her version of events is questionable. The hazmat team was able to contain the fungus in the camp, but the brothers escaped. They paid the coyote and headed to Mexico, though the coyote died from the fungus. (Aww, how sad.)

Mulder still thinks the enzyme from the rain came from outer space. Skinner is somehow able to ignore that, since he’s more concerned with why the brothers haven’t been found. Scully explains that they’re basically invisible. Mulder says that, really, no one cares. Okay, seriously, we get it.

Thoughts: Lozano is played by Rubén Blades, who’s now on Fear the Walking Dead. Flakita is played by Lillian Hurst, who’s been in a ton of stuff.

“El mundo gira” is Spanish for “the world turns,” as in As the World Turns, because this episode is supposed to be like a soap opera, or whatever.

Scully’s worked with Mulder for four years and has never heard of the chupacabra? Doubtful.

How did no one notice the dead clerk and fungus all over the market? The Health Department is going to be so ticked.

December 24, 2016

The X-Files 4.10, Paper Hearts: Confessions of a Serial Killer

Posted in TV tagged , , at 11:01 am by Jenn

The FBI quickly realized that playing pickup games with inmates was a bad idea

The FBI quickly realized that playing pickup games with inmates was a bad idea

Summary: Mulder wakes up to see a red light shining on his wall. The light floats around, spelling out “FOLLOW,” so he does. The light takes him to Bosher’s Run Park in Manassas, spelling out “MAD HAT” on the side of a white El Camino. It shines on a tree, then points Mulder to a girl lying on the ground. The light becomes a heart on the girl as she sinks into the leaves she’s lying on.

Mulder awakens from his dream, looks up the park, and drives over in the middle of the night. There are leaves next to the tree from his dream, but no body. In the morning, Mulder gets a team to dig around in the dirt. As he tells Scully that he’s had a recurring dream about the girl, one of the diggers finds a skull.

The diggers start to expose an entire skeleton, but Mulder thinks they’re moving too slowly. He tells Scully he already knows that the victim was strangled, and her killer took a heart-shaped piece of fabric from her clothing after she was dead. Scully thinks he’s guessing at this because of his dream, but Mulder’s focused on a serial killer named John Lee Roche who killed 13 girls between the ages of eight and ten. Well, 14 girls now.

Back at their office, Mulder shows Scully Roche’s file, telling her that he killed girls between 1979 and the early ’90s. The case was called Paper Hearts because of the pieces of cloth taken. Mulder helped find the killer, a vacuum cleaner salesman who used his job to check out potential victims. The hearts were never found, and though Roche confessed to killing 13 girls, Mulder always wondered if there were 13 hearts. With a 14th victim, he’s even more curious.

Scully thinks Mulder’s dream was his way of unconsciously processing the case. After all, he once said “a dream is an answer to a question we haven’t had time to ask.” She congratulates him on finding the 14th victim and suggests that they get her identified so Mulder can finally put the Paper Hearts case behind him.

This doesn’t take long, and Scully IDs the girl as Addie Sparks, who disappeared from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in 1975. Mulder isn’t sure Addie was one of Roche’s victims, since they thought his earliest murder took place in 1979. Scully says Addie’s death matches everything about Roche’s other murders.

The agents go see Addie’s father, who recognizes a little pouch found on his daughter’s body (her mother sewed it to leave her teeth in for the Tooth Fairy). Mr. Sparks confirms that Roche is already in prison. He used to think that it was worse to think his daughter was missing than know she was dead, but he was wrong. He’s sad to know that the agents might have to visit other families to tell them that their children are dead – are there other victims they weren’t aware of?

As the agents leave the house, Mulder flashes back to the part of his dream with the El Camino. He remembers that Roche drove an El Camino and wonders if he left them in his car. Mulder still wants to find the hearts and count them. They track down the person who bought it at auction (and who’s kind of excited that he drives a car once driven by a serial killer). They don’t find the hearts, but Mulder remembers “MAD HAT” from his dream and thinks of the camper shell the owner took off. It’s in the backyard, and inside is a copy of Alice in Wonderland and 16 cloth hearts.

Mulder and Scully go see Roche in prison, where he’s playing basketball in a gym, so I guess this isn’t a maximum-security facility, even though he’s a freaking serial killer. The agents ask him why he said there were 13 victims when there were really 16. Roche says 13 “sounds more magical.” Mulder urges him to name the last two victims so their families can get closure.

Roche remarks that he knows Mulder takes the situation personally. He offers to give the agents information if Mulder can sink a three-pointer. Mulder does it easily, because David Duchovny is a basketball wizard. Roche has another condition before he’ll tell the agents anything: He wants the hearts.

Mulder studies the hearts at his desk, then looks up to see the red light again. It takes him to another room in the basement, which turns into his family’s living room. Samantha’s there, playing a board game and watching a news report on the Watergate scandal, though she wants to watch a movie instead. It’s the night of her disappearance, and Mulder reenacts the events, saying the same things he said and going for his father’s gun as he did as a child. But instead of aliens, Roche arrives to abduct Samantha. Mulder wakes up and looks at the two unidentified hearts.

He goes back to see Roche at the prison, asking why Roche remarked about Mulder taking things personally. He wants to know where Roche was on November 27th, 1973. Roche says that he sold a vacuum to Bill Mulder and had a long conversation with him. If Mulder brings the hearts, Roche will tell him more. Mulder punches Roche just as Scully arrives. He tells her that Roche took Samantha, just like his dream said.

Scully disagrees – Roche has access to “the Net” (oh, 1996, you’re so funny) and could have easily looked up Mulder’s personal information. She thinks Roche is playing mind games with him. Mulder walked into their meeting with his “heart on [his] sleeve” (nice one, Scully); Roche saw where he was vulnerable and took advantage of it. The case is bringing back old feelings, but Mulder’s dreams are just dreams.

Mulder notes that his dream about the park came true, so this one could be true, too. He reminds Scully that she doesn’t believe that Samantha was taken by aliens, which means they don’t know exactly what happened to her. He doesn’t know what to believe, but he knows he needs to find the truth.

Mulder goes to his mother’s house and searches the basement. He shows her the two unidentified hearts and asks if she’s ever seen the fabric before. She doesn’t recognize them, but since her stroke***, her memory isn’t great. (Other than that, she seems to have fully recovered, though.) Mulder asks about the vacuum Bill bought her and checks to see if it’s the same kind Roche said it was.

After being denied further access to Roche, Mulder goes to see Skinner, who’s upset with him for punching a prisoner. He thinks Mulder’s let Roche get in his head, and now he’s too close to the case. Scully backs him up, though, saying Roche was in Martha’s Vineyard around the time Samantha disappeared. They still need to identify two victims, and Mulder has the most insight into Roche, so who better to continue the investigation?

The agents are allowed to see Roche again, and Mulder brings the last two hearts this time. Roche says that one of them belonged to Samantha. Scully tells him to prove it, so Roche describes the scene in the Mulders’ living room when Samantha disappeared. Mulder asks where Samantha is, and Roche says he’ll answer if Mulder picks the heart that belonged to her. Mulder chooses one, and Roche says it’s a “good choice.”

Roche sends the agents to Forks of Cacapon, West Virginia, to dig in the dirt by a rock with “MAD HAT” spray-painted on it. Scully thinks Mulder should let someone else dig, but he ignores her, telling her to help him. They find a skeleton, but once it’s in a morgue, Mulder determines that it’s not Samantha – she broke her collarbone when she was six, and the skeleton doesn’t have a deformity in that bone. Scully confirms that it’s not Samantha’s. Mulder sadly notes that it’s still someone’s child.

The agents go back to Roche, who IDs the girl as Karen Philiponte from East Amherst, New York. He says he killed her in 1974, making her the first victim. Mulder hands over the last heart and Scully tells Roche to drop the mind games and just give them the information they want. Roche thinks Mulder wants to be led through everything that happened. He needs to go with the agents to get Samantha’s body. “I can’t wait to see your face,” he tells Mulder.

Scully’s disgusted and tells Roche he’ll never get out to go get the body. Mulder clearly isn’t so hesitant, so Scully tells him they can’t let Roche get his way. But Mulder ignores her again, arranging to get Roche out of prison so they can fly to Massachusetts together. On the way to the airplane bathroom, Roche stops to chat with a little girl, and he’s lucky Mulder doesn’t strangle him with his handcuffs.

Back in D.C., Scully tells Skinner that Mulder sprang Roche from prison without her knowledge. She wants to go after him, but Skinner decides to go to Massachusetts himself. He’s mad that Scully didn’t babysit her partner better, and now they have to rush to clean things up before they get out of control.

Mulder takes Roche to his family’s house to walk him through the events of November 27th, 1973. Roche says he didn’t plan to take Samantha that night, but when Bill and Teena left, he saw his chance. He watched Mulder and Samantha through the window for a while, then cut the power. The door was unlocked, so he didn’t have to kick it in. He just simply came in the front door and grabbed Samantha while Mulder was frozen in shock.

Mulder asks Roche to confirm that that’s exactly what happened, then reveals that it had to have been a lie. The house they’re in is six miles from the one Samantha was taken from. But Mulder thinks that when he profiled Roche years ago, somehow they formed a connection and Roche was able to get into his head. Roche argues that geography is the only error he made. Mulder notes that all of his other claims about his other murders were accurate. He thinks Roche watched the events of the abduction through Mulder’s eyes in his dreams.

Roche taunts that Mulder’s a little off since he believes in aliens and flying saucers. He’s telling the truth, and if Mulder doesn’t believe it, he’s not as open-minded as people think. Mulder notes that with this kind of demeanor, Roche must have been a great salesman. The men will be spending the night in a motel before heading back to D.C. and prison.

While Roche sleeps, Mulder looks at the hearts, hearing Samantha calling to him from an El Camino in the parking lot. He manages to unlock the door and get her out before the car can drive off. A red light in the window spells “BYE,” and suddenly the car and Samantha are gone. When Mulder wakes up, Roche is also gone, and his handcuffs are now on Mulder’s wrists.

Scully and Skinner are displeased with this turn of events, especially since Roche took Mulder’s badge and gun, along with the last heart. Mulder thinks he might have gone after the girl he was talking to on the plane. He calls the airline for a passenger manifest, learning that someone with his name called ten minutes earlier to get the girl’s identity.

Thanks to Mulder’s badge, Roche was able to pretend he needed to take the girl from her daycare because of an emergency. Mulder tells Scully that she was right – Roche was playing him the whole time. They consider that Roche might take the girl someplace familiar, since he used to live in Boston. Scully sees in Roche’s file that he lived on Alice Road, which sounds perfect to Mulder, as they found Alice in Wonderland in the camper shell: “He’s the Mad Hatter.”

The agents go to Roche’s old apartment, but Mulder quickly determines that it’s not where Roche and the girl went. He sees a lot behind the apartment building that’s full of old…cable cars? Subway cars? Something like that. As he’s looking around, he hears a girl screaming. When Mulder finally finds Roche, Roche says that maybe they have that connection Mulder mentioned after all.

The girl, Caitlin, is fine, but she’s sitting between Mulder and Roche, who’s holding a gun on her. Mulder tells Caitlin to close her eyes and count to 20. As she does, he holds his gun on Roche. Roche doesn’t think Mulder will shoot him – Roche still hasn’t said who the 16th heart belongs to, and Mulder can’t be 100 percent sure it wasn’t Samantha’s. As Caitlin nears 20, Roche moves his finger like he’s going to shoot her. Mulder shoots first, killing Roche while Caitlin runs to safety.

Tests show that the fabric of the 16th heart was made between 1969 and 1974. Scully tells Mulder that it didn’t belong to Samantha, but she’s sure they’ll find the real victim eventually. She suggests that Mulder get some sleep, which just makes him laugh. She leaves him alone in the office with the 16th heart, which he puts in a desk drawer.

Thoughts: This show has a lot of good one-episode guest stars, and Tom Noonan, who plays Roche, is somewhere near the top of my list of the best.

Someone needs to write another trippy children’s book that TV and movie writers can refer to instead of Alice in Wonderland.

I love that Skinner questions why Scully wasn’t with Mulder when he got Roche out of prison. Maybe because, even though I joke about them being married, they’re not actually together 24 hours a day? And why does he think Scully has any kind of control over Mulder’s behavior?

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