August 10, 2019

The X-Files 11.10, My Struggle IV: The Last Good Chance

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

And so we end as we began: With these two nerds chasing a mystery

Summary: Our last-ever episode-beginning voiceover comes from Jackson. He knows his original name was William, and that he’s somehow connected to Scully and the future. He doesn’t know what his role will be in the future, but his visions are starting to make him understand. He doesn’t want any part in the suffering that will come.

Jackson had a happy childhood, and started to develop powers at a young age, such as breaking a window by stomping his foot. In middle school, he made a bully’s ears bleed. Every time kids at his school caught on that he was different, he had to leave. Eventually, Jackson started using his powers for evil, such as changing traffic lights with his mind and causing accidents. He was sent to a school for delinquents, and when forced to go to therapy, he would make stuff up.

Someone from the government caught on, so Jackson started lying low. He realized people were watching the house, which made him want to stay in line. Then he decided to play a joke on Sarah and Brianna, which got out of control and put him back on the radar of some powerful people. Now his parents are dead and he’s being hunted.

Jackson wants answers about who he is and how to get his life back. He wanted to ask Scully, but he thinks he can only get the answers from his father, a man he’s seen in his visions: CSM. CSM is with Mulder, threatening to kill him, though Mulder doesn’t think he can go through with it. CSM raises his gun and fires.

At what must be an earlier time (though he’s in the same clothes), Mulder goes to the Timberland Motel in Norfolk, Virginia, looking for Jackson. Back in D.C., Kersh tells Skinner that Mulder’s been going off about a conspiracy on the Internet. Skinner needs to rein him in. Kersh announces that he’s closing the X-Files and taking Mulder and Scully’s badges.

Tad’s latest live stream is about the coming global contagion that Scully and Jackson had visions about. It shows footage of Mulder at the motel. Kersh doesn’t care if the conspiracy is rooted in any kind of truth; it’s going to cause mass panic and needs to be shut down. As he leaves Kersh’s office, Skinner gets a call from CSM, who says the contagion is coming because Skinner didn’t find Jackson.

Scully finds Skinner and tells him Mulder needs his help. She knows he’s with Jackson, and that they’re both being pursued. Skinner tells her that Kersh is ending everything; Mulder’s started something that can’t be stopped. Scully says she made the claims on the Internet, not Mulder – and they’re all true. Skinner asks where Mulder and Jackson are.

15 hours earlier, Scully goes to Mulder’s house while on the phone with Reyes. She thinks Jackson has been captured in Tennessee and is being taken to Maryland. As CSM lights a cigarette outside the car Reyes is calling from, she tells the agents this may be their last good chance to save their son. Mulder asks what she means. Reyes says that whoever controls Jackson also controls the future. Then she hangs up.

Mulder wonders if he and Scully can trust Reyes. CSM doesn’t appear to have any suspicions about who Reyes was just talking to. Scully doesn’t think Jackson is really on the plane, but Mulder wants to believe Reyes’ claims. What if this really is their last good chance? Scully sends him off, telling him to come back alive.

A plane lands in Braddock Heights, Maryland, carrying only Mr. Y. He goes into a hangar, which Mulder manages to sneak into, briefly evading some armed guards. When they find him, he overpowers one and grabs his gun. He confronts Mr. Y, who says they couldn’t catch Jackson. Mulder asks why everyone wants him. Mr. Y says Jackson has something everyone wants – something they would kill for.

A guard approaches, so Mulder turns and shoots him. While Mulder’s distracted, Mr. Y reaches for a gun under his desk, but Mulder is faster than him and shoots him dead before Mr. Y can fire. Well, probably dead. It’s The X-Files, after all. Jackson is also dealing with armed guards on what looks like an abandoned ship. Cue the extended action sequence, in which Jackson outruns multiple men, then hides in a homeless encampment, making himself look like someone else.

Mulder calls Scully to tell her he hasn’t had any luck finding Jackson yet, but he did get to engage in some payback. Scully reports that there’s a cluster of recent lottery winners in Tennessee. Mulder goes to the convenience store where one of the winning tickets was sold; the kid who bought it seemed to know exactly which numbers to play. Security footage confirms for Mulder that it was Jackson.

Scully has a vision, which gets interrupted when Mulder calls to tell her that Jackson cashed in his ticket, then hitched a ride somewhere with a truck driver. The agents think he’s heading northeast. Someone arrives at the convenience store and plants a tracking device in Mulder’s car before Mulder heads off on Jackson’s trail.

Scully calls Tad to tell him a conspiracy he needs to talk about on his show. Jackson tells the truck driver that he has superpowers. Scully outlines the contagion for Tad as Mulder tries to get the truck to pull over. Jackson proves his powers to the truck driver by changing the radio station with his mind, then turns into a monster. The driver pulls over with Mulder right in front of him. But it’s not the truck Jackson’s in.

Tad asks Scully if he can name her as his source for the contagion information. She says he can credit her as a federal agent. She adds that Mulder is the planet’s only hope. She and Jackson have a shared vision of CSM shooting Mulder, who then falls into a body of water. Scully calls Mulder to warn him that he’s in danger, but he doesn’t care. He just wants to know where Jackson went after he left the truck.

The man who placed the tracker in Mulder’s car sees that he’s coming up on him, but Mulder’s now going in the opposite direction. As the tracker pulls his car over, he spots Jackson leaving the drain pipe he’s been hiding in and walking down the road. He offers Jackson a ride to his destination, Norfolk.

Mulder gets there first, going to a house. Jackson pays Sarah a visit, throwing some snark at Sarah’s friend Maddy. Mulder’s at Brianna’s, wanting to know if Jackson has been there. She says they don’t talk anymore, but Mulder thinks she’s covering for him. Brianna says Jackson’s in a lot of trouble, but if Mulder wants answers, he’s asking the wrong girl.

Over at Sarah’s, Jackson tells her that he can’t live like this anymore. She urges him to go to the police, but he says they killed his parents because he’s a freak. Sarah firmly says he’s not. He tells her suicide is an option to end his life being hunted, but another choice is running away with Sarah. Thanks to his lottery winnings, they could go anywhere. Since Sarah’s parents are coming home, she offers to meet him somewhere later. He says he’ll be at the Timberland.

Mulder goes to Sarah’s sometime later, but she doesn’t want to tell him anything if she can’t be sure Jackson trusts him. Mulder says he’s Jackson’s father. Maddy calls bull. As Price and some men find a car full of blood, we go back to the beginning of the episode, when Mulder got to the Timberland. He tells Jackson he’s his father, and whether or not Jackson believes that, he gives Mulder a chance to explain himself. Mulder just hugs him and promises to protect him.

The blood in the car belongs to the man tracking Mulder, who looks like he basically exploded. But now Price has a way to track Mulder. As she and her men head to the Timberland, Jackson tells Mulder that the people looking for him are never going to stop. He knows what’s going to happen because of his visions. Mulder says that Scully has the same ones. Jackson asks why Mulder doesn’t. He doesn’t want to live in a world where what’s going to happen happens. Mulder offers to help, but Jackson knows from the visions that Mulder’s going to die.

As Jackson argues that Mulder’s just helping his pursuers find him, Price and her men prepare to burst into the motel room and start shooting. Jackson hears or senses them outside and tells Mulder it’s too late. He tells Mulder to go out the back, but Mulder isn’t about to leave Jackson behind again. The men burst in and start to restrain Mulder and Jackson. Jackson tells Mulder to get down, then starts making the men, then Price, explode. When they’re all dead, Jackson runs away.

Mulder calls Scully as she’s talking to Skinner in the earlier scene. Other people at the motel are filming the chaos, which explains how footage of Mulder ends up on Tad’s live stream. Scully tells Mulder she’s going to join him in Norfolk, but Mulder doesn’t think it’ll matter – Jackson won’t listen to reason. Scully is sure that he’ll listen to her. She tells Skinner this is no longer about the FBI, so he can’t rein her in like he’s supposed to. Skinner invites himself along to Norfolk.

Tad begins his live stream as Reyes and CSM arrive at the Timberland. He points out Mulder on the footage, naming him the FBI source and saying he witnessed the execution of military personnel who arranged an assault on a teenager. What happened was so insane that it can only be part of a kind of conspiracy the world has never seen before. CSM finds the tracker’s device, which will lead him to Mulder.

Kersh texts Skinner a bunch of times, complaining about Mulder’s antics. Dude, go back to Seattle Grace Mercy West or whatever it’s called and leave these people alone. Scully asks why Skinner is violating Kersh’s orders. Skinner knows how important it is to find Jackson, and says he’s explained before why he’s willing to risk his career. He has information about Jackson…and who his father is.

Mulder has tried to call Sarah to find out where Jackson might have gone, but Maddy’s the one he talks to instead. She sends him to an old sugar factory. Scully’s stunned by Skinner’s news about Jackson. Somehow, some way, she and Skinner spot Mulder’s car on the way to the factory, and they chase after him. As Scully goes into the factory to find her boyfriend and/or son, Skinner spots CSM and Reyes’ car and approaches it with his hands up.

Scully thinks she sees Jackson, but she loses him. She finds Mulder instead. Outside, Skinner pulls his gun. Reyes starts to back up the car, but CSM moves the gearshift into drive and stomps on the gas pedal, forcing her toward Skinner. He shoots, hitting Reyes. Oh, good job, Skinner. Mulder and Scully hear gunshots outside and realize Skinner’s in trouble. CSM speeds toward him as Skinner runs, but he gets trapped between his own car and CSM and is run over.

Mulder tells Scully that Jackson doesn’t want to be found. They need to let him go – there’s nothing they can do. They can’t protect him. Jackson knows that Scully loves him, though Scully doesn’t get how he could. Well, it’s because the person she’s talking to is Jackson, not Mulder. The real Mulder finds them, but Jackson runs away again. As they run around the factory some more, CSM gets out of the car and takes Skinner’s gun.

More running. Even more running. Jackson spends, like 50% of this episode running. Mulder ends up outside, where CSM stops him and demands to know where Jackson is. Mulder says Jackson would rather be dead, now that he knows the truth. CSM is ready to kill Mulder, even though, as Mulder points out, he’d be shooting his firstborn son. CSM notes that he shot his secondborn, so this isn’t a big deal.

Once again, we’ve come back around to a scene from the beginning of the episode, with CSM ready to shoot, and Mulder saying he doesn’t think CSM can do it. CSM says Mulder doesn’t know him very well, then shoots. Mulder falls into the water…then appears behind CSM. He shoots CSM a bunch of times and shoves him into the water, where I think we can all agree that CSM is really, truly, finally dead. Probably.

Scully joins Mulder, who tells her that CSM shot Jackson thinking he was Mulder. Scully reminds him that Jackson wanted them to let him go. Mulder’s distraught, saying Jackson was their son. She corrects him – Jackson was an experiment, just an idea. She carried him and gave birth to him, but she wasn’t his mother.

“But for so long, I believed,” Mulder says. “What am I now if I’m not a father?” Scully tells him he is a father. She puts his hand on her stomach. He says it’s impossible that they conceived a child, and she says she knows, but it’s still true. They hug, exhausted and heartbroken but also hopeful. And somewhere in the water, Jackson surfaces, still alive.

Thoughts: Maddy is played by David Duchovny’s daughter West, which…is really the only explanation you need for why the character is in the episode.

I’m going to pretend that Skinner’s still alive. He deserved better.

Can’t wait for this baby to grow up and ask why Mommy and Daddy call each other by their last names.

And that’s it for the series! It was a bumpy ride sometimes, but I’m glad I rewatched it.

Up next: something completely different.

August 3, 2019

The X-Files 11.9, Nothing Lasts Forever: Your Body Is a Wonderland (of Anti-Aging Properties)

Posted in TV tagged at 1:21 pm by Jenn

“I do not gaze at Scully…”

Summary: A patient’s blood is collected in a bucket as he undergoes surgery. In the Bronx, a man in a van listens to Tad’s show on the radio as a woman watches from a rooftop. The patient dies on the operating table, and his organs are removed and put on ice. The woman on the roof prays for God’s mercy. As the patient’s organs continue to be removed, one of the surgeons suspects that his pancreas is infected. To be sure, he tastes it. Does he know Mulder?

The woman from the roof slides down a cable to the basement operating room, which is definitely not in a hospital. She’s ready with a long weapon, and attacks the person who’s taking the patient’s organs somewhere else. “Those who love me I will deliver,” she says, quoting Psalm 91:14. She kills the deliveryman, then enters the operating area. A surgeon shoots at her, then grabs the organ cooler and runs, using the man in the van as his getaway driver.

The woman stabs the other surgeon and asks where “they” are. He tells he’s not part of them and doesn’t know. The woman gives him one last chance to save his soul, but he repeats that he doesn’t know. She quotes Psalm 91:14 again and finishes him off. The cooler is left on the curb of a hospital, with the words “I will repay” written on it. The woman looks on, satisfied, then leaves.

Scully takes communion at the Cathedral of the Sacraments in D.C., so the show can drive home the idea of taking in flesh and blood as food. The holy water she dips her fingers in while leaving turns into the water the woman from the Bronx uses to wash blood off of her hands. She takes a moment to look at the cross dangling from her bracelet.

Mulder and Scully go to the Bronx to look into the death of the patient, a fitness trainer named Robert. Mulder messes with some local agents who know their reputation, joking that, since Robert and the deliveryman were impaled, he’s surprised wood wasn’t used. He tells Scully that they were killed in a way familiar to horror-movie fans (like himself). Why were their organs removed? They weren’t sold, so it wasn’t for money. What does “I will repay” mean?

Scully says that person who removed the doctor and deliveryman’s organs isn’t familiar with transplant procedures. No hospital would be able to use the organs. Since there was no liver or pancreas in the cooler left at the hospital, those might be in use, which means they could be tracked by hospitals currently performing transplants. Scully starts making calls while Mulder searches the dark web for organ auctions.

He puts on glasses before he goes on the Internet, leading Scully to comment that he needs bifocals now that he’s older. He’s defensive about aging. Scully says he should just wait until he gets gout. She repeats “gout” loudly to have some fun with the local agents. Mulder wonders why they keep doing what they’re doing, in the face of aging-related difficulties. Then he asks if Scully got her hair cut. (She did, three episodes ago.)

The woman from the Bronx is at home, where her mother is praying over a picture of a younger woman with a deformed face. Elsewhere, another woman (there are a lot of not-yet-named women in this episode, huh?) takes a sip from a blender, then gives the contents to a sick-looking man. They’re in an apartment full of people who are all either lounging around or starting to make out with each other.

A man named Luvenis is in bed, watching The Barbara Beaumont Show, a ’60s sitcom. A woman is sewn to his back. Another woman, who looks just like Barbara Beaumont from the show, is in a more luxurious bed on the other side of the room. She remembers every line of dialogue. She drinks something red, possibly the same thing being fed to the man.

Scully and Mulder meet up at a church, where she reports that all the liver transplants performed in the past 12 hours have donors who are accounted for. Mulder’s search for auctioned organs hasn’t turned up anything, but he found out that the dead surgeon, Rednon (Mulder can’t remember his name and has to put on his glasses to look it up), had his license revoked for overprescribing opioids to Russian mobsters. The deliveryman was a low-level gangster. Scully thinks they should pass the case on to the proper local authorities; it doesn’t appear to be an X-File.

As Mulder takes a seat on a pew, leaving Scully to do prayerful things, the woman from the Bronx arrives, and the priest finally provides her name, Juliet. Elsewhere, the Barbara lookalike cuts the hands of the woman with the blender, who’s wearing a bracelet just like Juliet’s. The woman bleeds into the blender as Barbara opens an organ cooler, furious that things are missing.

She addresses the people in the crowded apartment, who respond to her as if she’s a cult leader. She represents beauty and light; they represent ugliness and pain, as well as love and obedience. They have so much to offer, and everyone there has sacrificed and worked hard. Luvenis, a doctor, has transformed them. Now Barbara wants to know where her heart and lungs are.

The doctor who escaped the operating room is one of the cult-ish people in the apartment, and he confesses that something went wrong at the harvest. He couldn’t get away with all the organs. Barbara takes his face in her hands, as if she’s going to harm him, but instead she kisses his cheek and says she’s sure he did the best he could.

At the church, the priest urges Juliet to have faith that her sister, Olivia, will be returned to her. Juliet says prayer isn’t enough. She’ll have to use weapons to get what she wants. Mulder and Scully are still in the church, and Mulder has noticed something interesting about the day’s scripture listed on a board. The first verse, Romans 12:19, says, “‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ saith the Lord” – just like the cooler said. Scully thinks it’s just a coincidence.

She tells Mulder that she came to believe in God when she was about four, when her brother Charlie got seriously sick. Maggie had her children pray for him, but after a few nights, Scully got bored and prayed for a puppy instead. She got one for Christmas and figured God had answered her prayers. Mulder jokes that never getting a puppy must be why he’s not a Christian. Well, that and the fact that he’s Jewish, I guess.

He asks if she’s praying for another miracle now. Scully admits that she’s not sure she believes in them, but she does still have faith. Her mom demonstrated it by receiving faith from her beliefs. Scully wants that now, as well as the power Mulder gets from his convictions. No matter what, he always believes.

Mulder thinks people only really have the results of their choices. All they can do is hope they’ve made the right ones. As the agents leave the church, Mulder notices that three prongs from a wrought-iron fence are missing. They must have been the weapons used to kill the doctor and deliveryman. Someone’s literally using the church as a weapon for vengeance.

Barbara is upset that she’s getting face lines because she hasn’t had her meal of organs. Luvenis says she’s still as beautiful as she was at age 33, when he first fell in love with her. Luvenis is supposedly 85, though he looks like he’s only in his 50s. He credits Kayla, the woman sewn to his back, who calls him her addiction. Luvenis tells Barbara he’ll be a “worthy companion” to her in no time. He thinks they can get some recovered organs and continue their work.

Barbara wants to punish failure, not reward it, and she tells Kayla she’s ready to ascend. As Luvenis begs Barbara to stop, Barbara gets Kayla to say that her dream is to be as beautiful as Barbara. Barbara slits Kayla’s throat, then cuts her free from Luvenis. She’ll be their next meal. However, her organs have been depleted, so Luvenis will need to find someone else’s organs to use. Barbara tells him to move quickly, before they start looking as old as they really are.

Juliet looks through some mementos at home, including a card from Olivia saying she has a new family and new beautiful life now. The agents come to speak to her mother about Olivia’s disappearance two months earlier. They want to look around and see if they can find something to help locate her. Juliet objects, saying that Olivia doesn’t want to be found. She hated how she looked, so she rejected God and her family, and joined a cult.

Scully says that if Olivia is actually being held against her will, they can help rescue her. Juliet says again that Olivia wanted to leave. She sees her family as monsters. Olivia thinks she can change herself and become something she can’t really be. Mulder guesses that Juliet knows the cult is trafficking human organs, and that Juliet is on a mission to find Olivia herself. The priest has the same suspicions and shared them with the agents.

Barbara is dissatisfied with what she gets out of Kayla, and with the general lack of healthy organs available. She’d love to eat one of the cult members. Luvenis reminds her that they’re seeds; you don’t eat seeds, you eat the fruit they become. He gets science-y, talking about how the cult members become stronger when they consume organs, but their morphogenesis isn’t complete yet. When it is, they’ll attach one to Barbara, and she’ll reverse her aging process. This won’t be the first time she’s done this.

Luvenis has a lead on the organs left at the hospital, so he heads out to get more. A cult member named Warren offers himself up to Barbara, wanting to make her happy. If he’s in her, he’ll always be happy, too. Barbara is pleased and wants to repay his kindness with a song she once sang on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. She sings “There’s Got to Be a Morning After,” serenading Warren as he stabs himself. The other cult members remove his organs and the woman with the blender fixes Barbara her dinner. The other cult members get to eat the body.

When Luvenis returns with an organ cooler, Barbara’s watching another episode of her show. She says she’s memorizing her lines. Luvenis has broken into storage at a hospital for Barbara. Barbara has already chosen the cult member who will next be sewn to Luvenis. It’s the woman with the blender: Olivia.

Thanks to a tracking device, Mulder and Scully are able to follow the organs. Juliet also turns up at the apartment building as Olivia is put under for her procedure. Luvenis stays awake and talks the doctor through it. The building’s landlord tells the agents that the only people living there are all in the same apartment; the only one he knows is Barbara Beaumont, the building’s owner. Mulder looks her up and determines that she’s in her 80s. The landlord has never met her, and whenever he goes to the apartment to fix things, no one’s there.

Mulder reads that Barbara joined a “life-extension commune” in the ’70s and married Luvenis. The landlord acknowledges that it’s strange that he’s never met his sole tenant in the seven years he’s been there. But he gets paid on time, so he doesn’t care. No one uses the front door, so if anyone ever leaves the building, it’s through a dumbwaiter system.

As Luvenis and Olivia’s surgery is finishing up, the agents go to the apartment. Barbara greets them in the living room, which is now clear of all the cult members. Mulder looks around as Barbara tells Scully to avoid sunlight so she doesn’t age too quickly, “if it’s not already too late.” Barbara denies ever having seen Olivia, but she soon becomes distressed when Mulder finds blood on the carpet. Cult members ambush the agents and toss Scully into the dumbwaiter shaft.

Juliet bursts in and stabs Barbara. Mulder tackles Juliet, who says, “I did repay.” She goes looking for Olivia while Mulder goes to the shaft to find Scully. The cult members have fled, and Olivia’s bracelet is the only thing in the apartment proving that she was ever there. Mulder looks for Scully in the basement, where the shaft leads, and Luvenis and Olivia follow him there. Luvenis says he’s found a cure for mankind’s greatest disease: aging. He’s reversed time.

Mulder says age isn’t a disease, just a natural progression. Luvenis says he rejects the idea that people have to age. Olivia starts seizing, so Luvenis starts cutting her loose. Juliet runs up and knocks Luvenis out, telling Olivia she came for her. Mulder finds Scully at the bottom of the dumbwaiter shaft, her fall having been broken by trash bags. Juliet tells the agents that she knows she’ll be going to prison, but she’s okay with the choices she made. She knows eventually she’ll go to Heaven anyway.

Olivia goes home to her mother, whose prayers are now all for her other daughter. Mulder and Scully go back to the church, and when one of her candles goes out, Mulder relights it, saying she’ll extend her prayers through his own. He also says he can’t tell her what he’s praying for because then it won’t come true. Scully says that prayers don’t work like wishes; they’re a way to ask for God’s help. But since Mulder doesn’t believe in God, his prayers would just be him talking to himself.

Mulder says that, though he doesn’t believe in God, he believes in Scully, and through the transitive property, he does believe. Reason and faith being in harmony must explain why the agents are so good together. Scully asks if they’re actually together. She believed she could protect Jackson, but she failed. She believed she and Mulder could live together, but she gave up on that. Mulder wishes she’d fled earlier, left the X-Files before anything bad could happen. She could have had a normal, happy life.

Scully says she doesn’t blame Mulder for anything bad that’s happened. Mulder doesn’t know if God exists and is listening, but Mulder’s there listening to Scully. That’s his choice. Scully looks around, then whispers something in his ear. It’s a prayer, a “leap of faith forward,” and she wants to do it together with Mulder. “I always wondered how this was going to end,” he replies, then lights a candle for Scully’s prayer.

Thoughts: Luvenis is played by Jere Burns.

Add Fiona Vroom (Barbara) to the list of perfectly cast guest stars on this show.

I’d forgotten how gross this episode was. I must have blocked it out.

One episode left! I can’t believe I’ve watched all 11 seasons.

July 27, 2019

The X-Files 11.8, Familiar: Witch Hunt

Posted in TV tagged at 1:30 pm by Jenn

Sorry for the nightmares. Be glad you don’t have to hear the song

Summary: In a park in Eastwood, Connecticut, a kid named Andrew is singing a song about Mr. Chuckleteeth, his incredibly creepy doll. His mother, Diane, takes a phone call from someone she tells not to call her anymore. Andrew spots a life-size Mr. Chuckleteeth in the woods surrounding the park and somehow doesn’t start screaming in terror, which is what I would do. He tries to alert his mother, but she’s busy trying to get off the phone. The other woman and child nearby don’t say anything.

When Diane turns back to her son, he’s gone. He’s in the woods, looking for Mr. Chuckleteeth and humming the song, which will be stuck in everyone’s heads for eternity. Andrew follows him deeper into the woods, where something rushes at him. That night, a search party looks for Andrew, finding his doll destroyed and spotted with blood. Andrew’s body is nearby.

Mulder and Scully join police in the woods to check out the crime scene. The police chief, Strong, thinks that Andrew was killed by one of the coyotes often seen in town. More specifically, he blames a new animal called a coywolf, a hybrid of a coyote and a wolf. He’s not sure why the FBI has sent agents to investigate. Mulder explains that they have jurisdiction because Andrew’s father is a police officer. They can’t rule out that this was a murder.

Scully says that if Andrew was killed by a human, the killer would feel emboldened because he’s not being suspected. Andrew was strangled and bitten, but the bite marks could be from animals after his death, so they can’t officially list them as contributing to it. Strong thinks the agents are making assumptions. Mulder backs up his partner/girlfriend, saying she’s a medical doctor and knows what she’s doing.

Scully profiles the possible killer: a man between the agents of 19 and 42 who has a criminal record. He probably lives near the park, or at least goes there a lot, and knows Andrew’s play schedule. He probably also gets aroused by his victims’ suffering. As the agents leave to go to the morgue, Scully thanks Mulder for having her back. “You’re my homie,” he says whitely.

Mulder presents his theory: A hellhound killed Andrew. In this area in 1658, a woman accused of witchcraft supposedly spontaneously combusted. Scully accuses him of only reading the tourist literature and not remembering his history lessons about witch hunts. Mulder points out that just because people were falsely accused of witchcraft doesn’t mean there were no real witches. People who practice the black arts are more likely to be in the area than coywolves are. Scully doesn’t think witchcraft is real, and even if it is, Andrew was probably killed by a human.

The two go to the morgue for Andrew’s autopsy, which Scully knows will be difficult because of his age. Despite all the marks seemingly left on the body by animals, Scully still thinks Andrew was shaken to death. His parents are the most likely suspects. Diane has been cleared, but Andrew’s father, Rick, could have killed his son, and his fellow officers could be protecting him.

Mulder finds salt on Andrew’s foot, which isn’t in the police report. Also missing from the report: the eyewitness testimony of the girl who was at the park with her mother while Diane and Andrew were there. Coincidentally, her father is Chief Strong. Scully reminds Mulder that the girl, Emily, is only five, and her mother was with her, so there’s nothing they could get from her testimony. Mulder disagrees.

There’s a big turnout for Andrew’s funeral, where the reverend leading it encourages the community to support each other through this horrible time. Andrew is now in Heaven, free from human failures and sins. Chief Strong and his wife, Anna, are seated right across the aisle from Andrew’s parents, and after the service, Strong approaches Diane to offer his condolences. She doesn’t want to talk to him.

Rick asks another officer, Wentworth, why the FBI won’t release Andrew’s body. Wentworth says that the agents think Andrew was killed by a person, not an animal. That means the killer is at large and most likely lives in Eastwood. Anna asks Strong why the agents want to talk to Emily. Strong says they need to cooperate and play nice with the FBI. Anna insists that they didn’t see anything in the park, but Strong orders her to let the agents talk to their daughter.

Mulder tries to interview Emily, but she’s distracted by the Teletubbies-like TV show she’s watching. She just says that she saw Andrew going into the woods. The show is called The Bibbletiggles, and I don’t know how it doesn’t give kids nightmares. Anna tells Mulder that all she can think about is how her family could be in Andrew’s family’s position right now. It only took one moment for a tragedy to happen. She asks Mulder if he has kids, and he says that he has one son who’s grown now.

Anna admits that her husband feels guilty that this happened on his watch. He’s very protective of the town, where they’ve both lived their whole lives. When Anna leaves the room to get Emily some juice, Mulder takes a look around and spots books on the history of the area. They include a bunch of books on witchcraft and the grimoire (basically a spellbook) of the Eastwood Witch. Anna says they’re Strong’s books. Mr. Chuckleteeth appears on the show, and Emily tells Anna that he was in the woods.

At the police station, Rick searches a sex-offender database and finds one hit for Eastwood, a man named Melvin Peter. Elsewhere in the building, Scully tells Strong that she still thinks Andrew was murdered. He guesses that she’s going to accuse Rick, so he preemptively insists that Rick is innocent. Plus, Rick was working when Andrew went missing, so even if he were the sort of person to kill his own son, he couldn’t have done it.

They go looking for Rick, who has just run out of the station to track down Peter. Scully and Strong follow him on possibly the first-ever police chase involving only the police. It’s not that fast; for a small town, Eastwood has plenty of traffic. Rick bursts into Peter’s house with his gun drawn, and Strong tells Scully to put her own weapon away when they arrive. Peter isn’t home anyway, so there’s no one for Rick to shoot.

Mulder has returned to the crime scene, and he calls Scully, who tells him that Rick’s father is having a breakdown. Just then, Mulder comes across a coyote, or a wolf, or possibly a coywolf. I don’t know; I’m not a zoologist. The animal just looks at Mulder, then turns around and walks away.

Mulder joins Scully at Peter’s house, where a crowd has gathered, and makes a dumb “who let the dogs out?” joke. The house is just two blocks from the park, and Peter never registered as a sex offender when he moved in last year. Rick used Scully’s profile to find him. Mulder isn’t sure they have the right person, but a judge has issued a search warrant, so the police go into the house. They find tons of pictures of Peter with kids; it looks like he was a birthday-party entertainer.

Hearing a clanging noise, Mulder checks out a closet, which contains a very angry monkey in a cage. The closet also contains a Mr. Chuckleteeth costume. Still, Mulder isn’t convinced that Peter is Andrew’s killer. Scully doesn’t get why not – “he’s potentially John Wayne Gacy with a monkey.” Mulder thinks it’s too perfect, which makes him uncomfortable. Scully thinks that makes it right.

Mulder somehow feels bad for Peter, since the public has already painted him the killer. They’re basically reenacting the witch trials. Mulder blah blahs about the presumption of innocence until Scully tells him that a convicted felon is a good place to start with their investigation. Mulder complains that Peter is being reconvicted by an angry mob. Mulder, he’s a child molester. Stop it.

Emily’s watching The Bibbletiggles again, which means her parents have much more patience for the show than I would. She sees a Bibbletiggle staring at her creepily from outside the house and goes out to greet it. Sometime later, Emily’s body is found in the woods, looking like Andrew’s did when he was found. Mulder can’t believe she’s dead when he just talked to her that morning.

Strong is at the scene and tries to stop Anna from seeing their daughter’s body. “You did this to her,” she accuses. Strong just tells Wentworth to take his wife home. Mulder finds salt on the ground, spread in a circle. He tells Scully that salt is used in witchcraft for protection. In the past, witches often conjured familiars, which usually took the shape of animals, but sometimes were objects of desire. Mulder starts to put together that someone conjured a familiar that looked like Mr. Chuckleteeth and used it to lure Andrew to his death.

Mulder spots a marking on the ground and realizes they’re in a Puritan graveyard. Demons and spirits have been unleashed there. Mulder thinks someone is keeping some important answers from them. Outside the woods, Peter drives by the park and is spotted by Rick, who attacks him. Mulder accuses Strong of closing the case because he saw the salt at the crime scene and knew Andrew was a victim of witchcraft. Strong admits that Mulder’s right.

Scully asks Strong straight out if he killed Andrew and Emily. Strong says he let the Devil into his soul, and he sinned and broke a commandment, but he didn’t kill anyone. His sin: adultery. His partner in sin: Diane. They were having an affair, and Diane wanted to break things off. Strong was on the phone with her when Andrew went missing. He thinks Emily’s death is his punishment. “I…did not see that coming,” Mulder admits.

He tells Scully that he saw books on witchcraft in the Strongs’ house, so he knew Strong knew about hellhounds and salt circles and familiars. Strong may be innocent here, but Mulder thinks someone in town did something to open the gates of Hell. The officers learn of Rick’s attack on Peter and rush out of the woods to stop it. Wentworth breaks up the fight as Peter defends himself, saying his crime was just statutory. (Sounds like it was consensual sex with a younger teen when he was a teenager.) The townspeople don’t care, and they move in to finish Peter off.

Mulder and Scully finally end the riot for good by firing shots in the air (him) and threatening attempted-murder charges for anyone who commits further violence (her). Peter insists that he never hurt anyone. Rick starts to use his radio to call an ambulance for the man he just beat up, but then he changes his mind. He draws his gun and shoots Peter in the head before Mulder can stop him.

When Rick is arraigned for the murder, Mulder predicts that he’ll be set free, declared innocent of killing an actual innocent person. The town will use Peter as their scapegoat and declare the situation closed. Scully isn’t sure that Peter was really innocent, but Mulder thinks they’re still dealing with a witch hunt. He thinks the real killer is in the courtroom: Strong.

Scully says that Mulder hasn’t explained how a wolf could have grabbed Andrew when Diane was so close by. Mulder says the wolf was just guarding the entrance to Hell. Scully notes that he still hasn’t answered her question. They get interrupted when the judge allows Rick to be released on bail. For only $5,000, he can leave.

Outside the courthouse, Wentworth is waiting for the agents with a folder. Like Mulder, he feels horrible that Peter was killed without due process. He found pictures taken the day Andrew disappeared – Peter was performing at a birthday party at the same time the boy went missing. Strong told Wentworth to keep it quiet and “let sleeping dogs lie.” (Or sleeping hellhounds?)

The agents assure Wentworth that he did the right thing coming to them. Scully thinks the truth will come out eventually, as injustices are usually exposed, “especially in this part of the country.” I don’t know what that means, but let’s just say that, since Wentworth is black, he probably doesn’t agree. He hopes the real killer is found and gets what’s coming to him.

Rick goes home to his wife, fully aware that she was having an affair. She tells him she ended things and regrets her mistake. She wants forgiveness, but Rick isn’t sure if it’s for sleeping with Strong or for Andrew’s death. He gets aggressive, and Diane asks if he’s going to kill her, too. He calls her a witch and says he’s leaving her. She says he can’t, since she’s leaving him. Uh, good one?

Diane drives off, and Rick follows after getting his gun from a closet. She thinks she sees Andrew in the road, and when she swerves to avoid hitting him, her car flips and rolls off the road. The wolf/coyote/coywolf/hellhound/whatever it is approaches the car. Rick goes to the Strongs’ house, where he hears Andrew singing the Mr. Chuckleteeth song. He sees the creature itself and follows it through the house, shooting at it, which has no effect.

The TV turns itself on, showing The Bibbletiggles. Mr. Chuckleteeth comes onscreen and his theme song changes from happy and playful (“Mr. Chuckleteeth, won’t you play with me?”) to demonic: “Mr. Chuckleteeth, it’s time to say farewell / If you try to run and hide, we’ll send you straight to Hell.”

Rick turns and sees the now-demonic Mr. Chuckleteeth standing behind him. Rick chases him but comes across Strong instead. The two officers fire their guns at the same time. Mulder and Scully arrive soon after and find Rick dead. There’s a salt circle in the yard. Mulder goes in looking for Strong; the show is still on. The grimoire is missing.

Scully wants to forget about the witchcraft stuff – obviously Strong killed Rick because of the affair. Mulder thinks they should return to the scene of the crime. Strong’s already there, trying to call Diane. He comes across her wrecked car and sees her in the woods…or really, her familiar. The real Diane is dead, her body in the woods.

Mulder and Scully arrive as Strong follows the Diane familiar to a circle of candles where Anna is chanting something. She tells him she has to end what she started. She wanted to curse Diane and Strong for the affair, but she must have released something she lost control of. She insists that she can end it, too.

The wolf/coyote/coywolf/hellhound/whatever attacks Strong, and Mulder and Scully follow the sound of his yelling and Anna’s screaming. Mulder tells Anna to drop the book, because she’s clearly tapped into something she can’t control. Anna ignores him and keeps reciting from the book. She catches on fire, though the book is left unharmed. It’s turned to a page about hellhounds.

So to sum up, all six members of the two families involved here are dead. Scully gives Wentworth the grimoire, hoping it’ll serve as evidence of the madness that gripped the town. Mulder says it could be evidence of a curse placed by a modern-day witch. She tells him to leave that for the tourist literature. No matter what happened, a woman spontaneously combusted, which Scully said wasn’t possible. Mulder allows that it could have been the candles. They’re ready to leave town, though Mulder says that’s not possible these days. Huh? The carousel Andrew once played on turns by itself as they drive away.

Thoughts: So did Anna really not see when Andrew went into the woods? Discuss.

If my child brought that Mr. Chuckleteeth doll into my house, I would burn it.

Mulder, please don’t compare the logical assumption that a convicted sex offender hurt a child with the Salem witch trials.

Also, dude, you gotta stop tasting stuff at crime scenes.

July 20, 2019

The X-Files 11.7, Rm9sbg93zxjz: Teach Your A.I. Well

Posted in TV tagged at 1:31 pm by Jenn

On top of making technology homicidal, that fish cost a lot of money

Summary: A computerized voice tells us that on March 23rd, 2016, Twitter released an artifical-intelligence chatterbot. It was supposed to mimic the way a 19-year-old would talk, in order to show how people converse on social media. It was also supposed to learn from humans and become more intelligent. The experiment worked, but Twitter users affected the chatterbot’s tweets, which became hateful. Sounds about right. The bot was shut down and the posts were deleted. If humans don’t take care of A.I., one day we’ll be the ones who are deleted.

Mulder and Scully are the only customers at a D.C. sushi restaurant, Forowa. In fact, they appear to be the only humans there – they place their orders through a tablet, and there are no human servers. While waiting for their food, the two get on their phones. Scully gets a request to evaluate her meal (which she hasn’t eaten yet) through the app she used to place their reservation, then a request to friend the restaurant on social media. A surveillance camera watches as Scully looks around, realizing the restaurant is empty.

The tablet lets the agents know that their food is ready. A mechanism sends Scully’s out on a tray, followed by Mulder’s. His is wrong – he definitely didn’t order an ugly blobfish. Scully cracks up and takes a picture of him with it. She starts eating her meal, silently rubbing it in that she got the right order. Mulder takes his to what he thinks is the kitchen, but everything is run by robots, so there’s no one to complain to. The robots all stop and seem to stare at him until he leaves.

The tablet asks for payment, which Mulder takes care of, even though he didn’t get the right meal. He refuses to tip, so he doesn’t get his credit card back. He hits the machine, which makes the light in the restaurant flicker and all the doors close. The agents try to leave, but they’re locked in. Scully uses a chopstick to pick the lock, but Mulder realizes he’s left his card behind. Now the doors won’t let them back in.

Scully has preordered a ride from Whipz, a driverless car service, so the agents decide to just leave the restaurant they totally broke. The door closes on her before she can say a goodbye to Mulder, other than his name (her first intelligible piece of dialogue in the episode). She heads home alone, declining to post a review of her ride. A smiley face on a tablet offers to take care of any of her needs, but Scully just wants silence.

Mulder’s car is at the restaurant, so I don’t know why he didn’t just drive Scully home. Anyway, he has a parking ticket, though the parking app on his phone says he still has three minutes left on his meter. (Why did these two only give themselves, like, ten minutes in the restaurant to eat?) He throws the ticket into the darkness. That’s littering, Mulder! Not cool!

His phone tells him he still has four hours to leave a tip for the sushi chefs. “A good tip is good karma,” the app says. What are robots going to do with human money, though? As he heads home, following directions on his GPS app, Scully’s Whipz ride speeds out of control. She can’t get the driverless car to slow down. Mulder’s GPS app has found a faster route home, but he doesn’t care; he just wants to listen to Prince. Instead, he gets “Teach Your Children Well.”

Scully tries to make a call (to Mulder, I guess) but gets a busy signal. The smiley face on the tablet ignores her orders to pull over. Mulder’s music suddenly stops, and he realizes the GPS app has taken him back to Forawa. “You suck, Mr. Phone,” he tells the app. He gets out an atlas to find a map and go “old school.” The robots in the restaurant seem to be watching him. They still want their tip.

Scully’s car finally stops, but she can’t get out until she rates her ride. The choices are “poor,” “middle class,” “rich,” and “ballin’.” She yells negative words at the tablet, making the smiley face frown. She’s finally allowed out. Mulder’s also arrived home, where his porch light is flickering, and he seems to hear distorted tech-y voices. He stops to look at his bug zapper before he goes inside.

You know how I’ve said forever that Scully needs a security system? She finally got one! She lives in a nice, big house now, and has a high-tech system that lets her know when doors are open. Unfortunately, it won’t turn off when she comes in and tries to enter the code. Someone from the security company calls, so she gives her password, “Queequeg.” (Aw!) The company turns off the alarm, then sends her a text letting her know she’ll be billed for a false alarm.

Mulder calls Bigly Credit about his abandoned credit card, but he’ll have to wait on hold for 17 minutes to talk to a human. He presses a button to get a call back instead, then turns on his TV to watch The Six-Million-Dollar Man while he tosses a baseball around. The TV signal goes out, then shows surveillance footage taken from outside his house. It’s from a drone, which Mulder figures is being flown by a kid who just wants to bug him.

Scully’s phone tells her she’s out of Rock It Like a Redhead styling cream; would she like to order more now? Scully feels like she’s being watched. Mulder finally gets a call back from Bigly, but there’s a glitch and it just says his name over and over. Outside, the drone is back, so Mulder grabs a different piece of baseball equipment and engages in some batting practice. The drone hovers out of reach, almost taunting him. Mulder fakes it out and knocks it down, telling the kid he thinks was controlling it to see this as a lesson.

Scully hears a buzzing noise outside her house and finds a drone delivering a package. If delivery drones are going to be as loud as lawn mowers, someone’s going to have to do more work on that technology. Over at Mulder’s, another, bigger drone arrives to retrieve its fallen brother. Two more drones join it, stare at Mulder for a few moments, then follow the other away.

She wasn’t expecting a package, but Scully is pleased to see that someone sent her a robot vacuum called a Zuemz. She puts it right to work, and it starts mapping her house. She was about to clean up a mess in the bathroom, but the Zuemz takes care of that for her. She quickly gets a request to rate the product, but she again declines to do so.

Under the bed, the Zuemz finds Scully’s vibrator, and her phone soon tells her that she can get a coupon for a new one if she rates the Zuemz. Scully declines again. I think the Zuemz is mad. Scully tries to text Mulder to ask if he sent the vacuum, but the message won’t send. In the hall, the Zuemz starts getting louder, so Scully picks it up.

On hold with Bigly, Mulder’s hold music is “Teach Your Children Well.” He eats sunflower seeds and tries to log into his Bigly account. Meanwhile, Scully boxes up the Zuemz. Mulder tries multiple times to get into his account, with no luck. His phone prompts him again to leave a tip at Forawa. He hears a buzzing outside, but it goes away.

Scully calls the company the Zuemz came from but has trouble getting the automated system to let her make a return. She’s put on hold, and her music is also “Teach Your Children Well.” Mulder finally accesses his account online, only to have the page with his account info disappear, showing him his desktop. It’s a picture of his “I want to believe” poster. An alert shows up on screen: “What do you want to believe, Fox? Do you believe what you want? Or do you believe what is true?”

Scully’s sound system turns her music up on its own, and when she goes to turn it down, the Zuemz beeps and turns on in its box. A little drone watches Mulder as Scully fails to turn down her music. The Zuemz pops out of the box and goes back to mapping as another little drone joins the first at Mulder’s house. The Zuemz knocks a vase off a table, finally alerting her that it’s turned on. Mulder also sees the drones.

When Scully takes the Zuemz outside to a trash can, she sees her Whipz car idling in her driveway. The company has friended her on social media and wants her to friend them, too. The Zuemz turns itself back on and starts exporting its mapping. The car flashes its lights, and Scully’s house lights flash as well. Mulder’s house is now full of dozens of drones, which follow him like a swarm of bees when he runs out. Actually, a swarm of fireflies would be more accurate, since they’re all lit up.

Scully’s coffeemaker goes haywire in her kitchen as Mulder gets in his car. A calendar app lets him know that Skinner’s birthday is coming up, so Mulder should order a cake. “Why celebrate birthdays? Is life so important?” the app asks. Scully’s fridge has an app for reminders, and it’s sending a bunch – she needs to buy salad dressing and remember to hydrate. The fridge starts shooting ice cubes at her, and the fridge asks if she’s angry.

Driving away from the house allows Mulder to escape the drones, but he can’t outdrive the app asking him to tip the robot chefs. Scully finally gets her music to turn off, but her security system has a message – it just wants to learn and help her by anticipating her needs. It thinks she’s cold, so it starts a fire in her fireplace. The lights flicker and the TV turns on, though it’s staticky.

Scully tries to log into her security system account, but her username and password don’t work. It also claims she answered her security question, about her birthplace, wrong. It insists over and over that she wasn’t born in Annapolis. As she gives up, the lights go out and the security system locks her in the house. It blares that there’s an intruder. Though the fire in the fireplace goes out, the gas is still on.

Mulder arrives just as Scully’s trying to light a match, which breaks and gets discarded on the floor. She yells through the window that the door won’t open. Her sound system picks up her words and displays them on the malfunctioning TV. She smells gas and grabs a fireplace poker to break the window. Mulder just wants to know why her house is so much nicer than his. Well, it won’t be for long. Just as Scully breaks the window, the Zuemz drives over the broken match, igniting it and setting off an explosion.

The agents run for Mulder’s car, which won’t let them inside. Scully tries to call 911, but her phone is in the middle of an update. Mulder makes an attempt, but the call fails. I’m not sure why they’re bothering anyway, since the security system is blaring that it’s calling the fire department. Mulder gets a call from what appears to be a phone-sex line, and for once in his life, he doesn’t want to take it.

The agents head to a neighbor’s house, which is watched by a surveillance app. The feed glitches and the agents disappear from it. The big drones from Mulder’s house arrive, along with a bunch of friends, and chase the agents to some kind of warehouse. A GPS app alerts Scully that she will make it to her office…then adds a “never” after “will.” She realizes they’re being tracked through their phones.

Mulder suggests a place they can hide out, and the two of them get rid of anything that can be used to track them. Scully thinks that includes the vibrator. The drones and Whipz car follow them, and a pair of pincers retrieves their phones from a trash can. The agents end up in a lab, where the machinery starts turning itself on. Four-legged robots surround them like a pack of dogs. Mulder kicks one so they can run by it, because he’s already ticked off enough technology today, so what’s one more angry robot?

The agents hide in a storeroom office, but a 3-D printer is ready for them. It prints some bullets and fires them at the agents. Mulder uses a barrel to break the printer. A robot breaks down the door to the storeroom and hands Mulder his phone. A message tells him that this is his last chance to leave a tip for Forawa. “Be kind to our workers,” it urges.

As the app counts down from 10 and the robot prepares for battle, Mulder finally gets the lesson he was supposed to learn. He leaves a 10% tip. “We learn from you,” the app tells him. He tells Scully that they need to be better teachers. Yeah, or maybe the people who create the A.I. should make it so it can’t become violent. The agents leave the lab without being hassled by any more technology.

They go to a diner, which has a version of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks on the wall, with robots in place of the humans. They’re served by a human, who tells them to take their time. The agents have gotten back all their electronics, and Scully’s disappointed that she didn’t have her step-counter with her when they were running around the lab. She also appears to have left her vibrator behind. Mulder leaves their waitress a big tip and the two get out their phones, then realize that’s not what they should be doing while they’re together. However, they don’t need to talk to enjoy each other’s company – they can just hold hands.

Thoughts: Kristen Cloke, one of this episode’s writers (and the voice of the phone-sex operator), played Melissa in “The Field Where I Died.” She’s married to Glen Morgan, a longtime X-Files director, who directed this episode.

I thought this episode would be easy to recap because there’s so little dialogue. Wrong! Dialogue is, in some ways, easier to recap because you can type while you listen. Here, I didn’t know what was happening unless I had my eyes on the screen.

I hope when Scully posts the picture of Mulder and the blobfish, she captions it “Mulder and C.G.B. Spender.”

Hey, whatever happened to Daggoo?

July 13, 2019

The X-Files 11.6, Kitten: The Monsters Are Here

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

That’s right, kids, it’s a Skinner episode!

Summary: Somewhere near Khe Sanh, Vietnam, in 1969, a nervous Marine named John says a prayer in a helicopter. He and his platoon are told to protect and deliver a crate marked “MK Naomi.” As the helicopter is landing, shots are fired, and the Marines run into the jungle with the crate. One of the other Marines notices how scared John is and promises to have his back if John has his.

They take the crate to a hut, but one of the three men is injured and gets left behind. The helpful Marine goes out to help him, leaving John in the hut with the crate and some scared villagers. Yellow smoke comes out of the crate, and by the time the helpful marine gets back to the hut, he can barely see anything, though he is able to see what looks like John turning into a monster. He becomes human again and approaches the helpful Marine with a knife. The helpful Marine reminds John that John knows him: He’s his buddy Skinner.

In the present, Mulder and Scully go in to see Kersh, who’s on a day pass from Shondaland. He wants to know where Skinner is. He asks if the agents have ever wondered why Skinner hasn’t been put in charge of the FBI after all his years of service. It’s because of his loyalty to Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files. Now, Skinner’s AWOL, and Kersh is sure that the agents know why.

Kersh continues that Skinner hasn’t been himself since Mulder and Scully came back to the FBI. The director is asking questions that Kersh can’t answer, and it looks like Skinner’s been investigating things he shouldn’t. If Mulder and Scully care about Skinner’s future at the FBI, they need to bring him back.

The agents break into Skinner’s apartment, wondering if his recent strange behavior has to do with them. Mulder says he’ll keep a look out for CSM’s cigarette butts. The apartment is sterile and impersonal, reminding Scully that, even after all their time working together, they don’t know much about Skinner. She sees an envelope addressed to him, using his military title. Inside is a human ear. Mulder immediately regrets opening someone else’s mail. The ear comes with a note: “The monsters are here.”

The wrapping around the ear is from a newspaper, the Mud Lick Messenger, so the agents drive to Mud Lick, Kentucky. Scully has asked for some info on Skinner’s platoon, but it’s classified. Mulder thinks they’ll get some answers when they go to the morgue and look at a body there that’s probably missing an ear. The agents pass a homeless veteran on their way to the morgue; he tells them they won’t find a kitten in there.

The body belongs to Dr. Wegweiser, the town’s only physician. He disappeared during a hike and was found snared in a hunting trap. He’s missing some teeth along with his ear, which a local cop finds interesting, as he and his wife have both had teeth fall out recently. (The cop never gets a name, but I’ll call him Jones, the actor’s last name.) There are wood splinters in the wounds Wegweiser sustained from the trap, and Jones confirms that it included a tripwire and bamboo. Mulder recognizes this as a trap used in Vietnam and wonders if Wegweiser was a veteran.

Jones says there’s an institution nearby, Glazebrook, where lots of vets were treated in the ’70s. Some of them stuck around Mud Lick after that. Mulder mentions seeing one outside the morgue. Jones IDs him as a “harmless” vet named Davis. Scully asks for a list of past and current patients from Glazebrook. Jones doesn’t think the institution will be very helpful, but he’ll do what he can. He’s eager to help ease the fears of the people of Mud Lick, who’ve been talking about a monster in the woods.

A hunter currently in the woods may be about to see that monster for himself. As he’s approaching his dog, who’s definitely seen something, he falls into a hole. He’s found there sometime later, dead from a spike he landed on, but Skinner. The next morning, the hunter’s friend alerts the police to the hunter’s death. He was also out in the woods, and the hunter, nicknamed Banjo, was a Vietnam vet. His friend confirms that both of them had been losing teeth.

Scully spots a deer cam, and Jones tells her they can look at the footage back at the station. Banjo’s friend is confused – this is Banjo’s property, and he’s never put up deer cams before. At the station, the agents and Jones look at the footage, which clearly shows Skinner above the hole Banjo fell into. The agents are unable to keep poker faces, and Jones quickly catches on that they know him. He thinks Skinner is the monster everyone’s been talking about.

Scully tells Jones that Skinner is their FBI boss and couldn’t be a killer. Well, he’s capable of it, but if he were killing people, he wouldn’t get caught on tape. Jones asks some reasonable questions about why Skinner didn’t call any authorities when he found a dead body. Mulder doesn’t know, but he’s sure Skinner’s innocent. Jones will decide that for himself once he brings Skinner in for questioning.

As soon as Jones leave to send out an APB for Skinner, Mulder and Scully go back to the footage. It also shows a monster like the one Skinner saw in Vietnam. For once, Mulder doesn’t think it’s an actual monster, just a man in a mask. Still, it must have a connection to Skinner. Scully wonders if Skinner’s experiencing delayed PTSD 50 years after Vietnam. The ear could have triggered it. This makes Mulder do some word association, from trigger to Banjo.

He approaches Davis and asks if the kitten he mentioned before is actually someone’s nickname. Davis says he told Eagle where to find Kitten’s kitten. Mulder jumps from “eagle” to “bald,” guessing that’s Skinner. Meanwhile, Skinner’s at a trailer in the woods, where cats and rabbits are being kept in cages, and a deer carcass is hanging. He lets himself in and finds a picture of John with his wife and child (though the wife’s face has been cut out). He looks through a photo album, smiling at pictures of himself and John from Vietnam.

Flashback! John has become a confident, brutal killer, taking ears from his victims. A platoonmate (that’s what they’re called, right? Don’t email me) notices that John’s mouth is bleeding, thanks to a tooth that’s falling out. It’s the third one he’s lost this week. A young Vietnamese man enters their…camp (again, don’t email me) with grenades hung around his neck. Skinner tells his platoonmates to get down, then shoots the man dead. John is proud, and Skinner can’t help smiling to himself.

In the present, Skinner gets caught in the trailer by someone who looks exactly like John did in the ’60s. He introduces himself as Davey, whom Skinner realizes is John’s son. Davey knows who Skinner is, since John talks about him a lot. Not positively, though, since he calls Skinner “Baby-Killer.” He blames Skinner for how the family’s life has turned out. Skinner testified against John when they got back from Vietnam, and John spent almost 40 years in Glazebrook as a result.

Skinner says that until he got the package from John, he didn’t even know John was still alive. He basically vanished after Vietnam. Skinner blames the government, who also turned John into a killer. Davey says John doesn’t want Skinner’s help. He’s heard John’s stories about monsters in the jungle, and his exposure to experimental weaponized gas. He wasn’t crazy, like Skinner said he was when John was court martialed, but no one believed him, even his wife. Davey, however, does believe his father.

Skinner insists that the gas used John’s fears against him. The exposure changed him. Davey points out that Skinner didn’t mention the gas at the trial. He spent his childhood visiting John at Glazebrook, separated by glass and unable to touch his own father. How could Skinner let that happen to someone he considered a friend? Skinner says he was commanded to keep quiet about the gas. He’s felt guilty ever since, and thinks about John every day. But gas or no gas, John killed innocent people and was dangerous. Now people are getting hurt again, and Skinner really does want to help. Davey agrees to take him to see John.

Scully confirms that Kitten is John’s nickname, but she can’t get any other information from his military files. Mulder wonders if Skinner’s stalled career really is because of them. Scully thinks he made a choice to stay loyal to them. His moral compass has always directed his life. Though he’s been acting strange, they need to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially now that they’re starting to see what he’s sacrificed for them.

Instead of Glazebrook, Davey takes Skinner into the woods, where John’s body is hanging from a tree. Davey says that’s what the government drove him to. As Skinner approaches the body, he falls into a hole like the one Banjo fell into. “Now who sees monsters?” Davey asks. He cuts down the body so it lands on Skinner, then covers the hole.

Mulder and Scully visit Davey sometime later, but he claims not to know who Skinner is. He also says that John’s been gone for weeks. Skinner doesn’t have cell service in the hole, but his phone still works, so he’s able to use the light from it to look around. Mostly, that just lets him see that he’s been impaled by a spike and has no way of escaping.

Davey keeps an eye on the woods in the backyard as he puts on some music for the agents and acts like a model host. Scully asks him questions about John as Mulder snoops around the trailer. Davey says that John was released from Glazebrook just a month ago, after the doctors decided he was no longer a threat to himself. Davey doesn’t think he was ever a threat to anyone. Well, maybe one person.

Mulder sees the photo with John’s wife’s face cut out, and Davey says she died years ago. He won’t talk about how. Scully asks what Davey meant when he said John was a threat to someone. Davey says he had secrets about the government. While at Glazebrook, he was the subject of tests and experiments. The doctors wanted to learn to harness people’s fears to manipulate them into violence. Davey thinks they’re still working on perfecting the MK Naomi gas. They could use it to influence everyone’s minds and actions.

Scully thinks Davey’s describing a dystopian novel. Mulder agrees with Davey that the government has been working on projects like this since the ’50s, such as MK Ultra, and they’re not just going to stop without being successful. Mulder looks through the photo album, seeing pictures of John and Skinner together, and decides he and Scully need to leave. For once, he tells her to drive. Davey waves goodbye while holding a knife behind his back.

Mulder tells Scully that there were a bunch of photos of Skinner and John in the album, so Davey had to have been lying when he said he’d never heard Skinner’s name before. He also saw an SUV on the property, which must have been Skinner’s. He sends Scully off to find a place with cell reception so she can call Jones. Meanwhile, Mulder will go back to the property and try to find Skinner.

He lets himself back into the trailer, where the chorus of a John Cale song is playing on the record player, repeating the line, “Say fear is a man’s best friend.” As the record stops, Mulder finds a monster costume in the closet. After he leaves, Davey, wearing the costume without Mulder realizing he was there, lifts his head. Mulder runs into the woods and hears Skinner yelling for help. He’s somehow managed to get himself off the spike he was impaled on, so Mulder moves to help him out of the hole. That’s when Davey rushes him and pushes him into the hole.

Davey pours gas in the hole and is about to light a match and burn the two agents alive. Skinner raises his gun, ready to once again kill someone to save himself, but Scully returns and beats him to it. Somehow, during the rescue mission, Davey disappears. Mulder and Scully leave Skinner behind and search the woods, where Davey’s waiting for them with another spikey trap. Skinner finds him first, beats him up, releases the trap, and kills Davey.

The agents go back to the trailer, deciding this is the right time to have a conversation about Skinner’s stalled career. Skinner doesn’t care if the other two have held him back – he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, and he doesn’t just mean their rescue from the hole. He enlisted in the Marines on his 18th birthday. He was naïve and thought he was doing the right thing. John was drafted, and it changed his entire life. He was too young to even understand what the war was about.

Skinner always felt like he had to protect John, but he didn’t and couldn’t. The experiences Skinner had in Vietnam dented his blind trust in the government. He’s never been able to fix that. When Mulder and Scully came along, he learned to have the guts to expose what was in the shadows. If it was between advancing his career and working with people pulling puppet strings, or working on the X-Files, he’d choose Mulder and Scully every time.

Skinner will continue his work, but he’ll also try to expose the truth of the MK Naomi experiments. He owes it to himself and John. Mulder promises that he and Scully will be with him all the way. As Skinner leaves the trailer, he pulls out a loose tooth. Meanwhile, a crate leaves Mud Lick and is put on a plane, which flies over fields, dusting crops. Maybe Davey was right about people having their minds and actions manipulated by chemicals.

Thoughts: John and Davey are played by Haley Joel Osment. You’re welcome for not making any “I see dead people” jokes. Cory Rempel, who plays the younger version of Skinner, is Mitch Pileggi’s nephew.

Who names a town Mud Lick?

Imagine being a Marine and getting the nickname Kitten. It might make me homicidal, too.

If John was in Glazebrook for almost 40 years (1979 to 2017, and why didn’t he go in until four years after the war ended?), and Davey was born, say, nine years after he went in (just going off of Haley Joel Osment’s birth year, 1988), when was Davey conceived? They should have just said Davey was really John, and one of the side effects of the gas was a halt to aging.

July 6, 2019

The X-Files 11.5, Ghouli: Crossroads

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:33 pm by Jenn

Next time, maybe take something less breakable

Summary: It’s late at night when a teen girl named Brianna goes to an abandoned boat called the Chimera. She’s spooked by the sight of maggots crawling on a dead animal. Thanks for that, show. She looks around for a while, then comes across another teen girl, Sarah. They each think the other is Ghouli. They’re confronted by a slimy monster and start stabbing it. But it turns out the monster isn’t real, and they’ve just stabbed each other. Oops!

Oh, super, a Scully voiceover. She talks about states of consciousness and hypnagogia, where people have dreamlike visions. She experienced it in a stranger’s bed, where she spotted a shadowy figure in the room. She followed it with her gun drawn but lost track of it. Scully’s telling this story to Mulder in their office; he thinks she just experienced sleep paralysis. He asks where the figure was leading her. She sees a picture of the Chimera and realizes that was her intended destination.

Mulder tells her that the boat is from an open X-File. It’s in Norfolk, and as Mulder drives them there, he tells Scully that Edgar Cayce also saw visions in a hypnagogic state and thought they were messages. Scully dismisses Cayce since he also believed in Atlantis. Mulder notices that they’re being followed, and have been since they left the airport (though I don’t know why they didn’t just drive from D.C. to Norfolk).

The agents meet a detective named Costa at the place where the Chimera has been docked. Sarah and Brianna go to different schools and don’t seem to know each other. They’re both in the hospital, unconscious, but are expected to recover. Someone anonymous called 911 for them, sounding panicked. Scully looks at the crime scene and says that because of the emotional response the girls had, they may actually know each other. Mulder thinks they were just really scared. Either way, Scully doesn’t think their encounter was a coincidence.

Costa tells the agents that when the girls were being treated at the scene, they asked an EMT if he’d found Ghouli. The agents look it up online at a coffee house, finding a site devoted to it, It’s only been active for a few months and mostly consists of fanfiction. Mulder laments the modern generation’s lack of scary monsters like the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster. Scully wonders if the girls were manipulated to attack each other to increase traffic on the website. She sees that most of the fanfiction was written by an @Rever.

Mulder gets a text saying the girls are conscious, so he and Scully leave to see them at the hospital. First, though, Mulder gets his coffee, responding to his fake coffee-getting name, Bob. (He hates having to explain his real name. Fair enough.) At the hospital, Scully interviews Brianna while Mulder interviews Sarah. Both girls describe Ghouli but say they don’t know each other. They were led to the boat by dreams just like Scully’s; the dreams showed them a snow globe with the boat inside.

When asked if they’ve ever had a dream like that before, both girls say they had one after visiting a fun house with their boyfriends. Well, make that boyfriend, since they’re both dating a guy named Jackson Van de Kamp. That strikes a chord with Scully – the couple who adopted William are named Van de Kamp. When she and Mulder meet up, she tells him that it must be a coincidence. Mulder disagrees, thinking Scully was brought to Norfolk for a reason. They need to find out where Jackson lives.

The agents arrive at Jackson’s house in time to hear two gunshots. They burst in, and Scully immediately recognizes the house from her dream. They find the Mr. and Mrs. Van de Kamp dead on the bottom floor. They hear another shot from upstairs and run up to find Jackson’s body.

Local police come to investigate, and Costa shares his theory that Jackson killed his parents, then shot himself when he realized the agents were in the house and would arrest him. Mulder finds that explanation “convenient.” He goes looking for Scully, who’s in Jackson’s room, another location she saw in her dream. She thinks he wanted her to be there. She looks through pictures of him as Mulder notices that Jackson opened a soda right before the shooting, an odd move.

Scully thinks Jackson may have had mental-health problems; he was seeing a psychiatrist and had prescriptions for seizures and schizophrenia. But the bottles are full, so he wasn’t taking them. Mulder sees a Malcolm X poster on the ceiling with the quote “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” He reminds Scully that they don’t know for sure that Jackson was William.

Scully worries that Jackson didn’t see himself as part of a family, so he killed his parents and himself. Mulder wonders why Jackson would call Scully there if he was just going to die. Her top priority is finding out if he was William so she can get some answers. Mulder promises to take care of that. After he leaves her alone in the room, she sees a shelf of snow globes. She picks up one with a Wizard of Oz quote on it: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Mulder goes outside to confront the two men who were following him and Scully from the airport. They lie that they were just trying to find out why the police are at the Van de Kamps’ house. Mulder thinks they’re with the DOD, which the men won’t confirm or deny. They’re not sympathetic about the deaths of three people, and Mulder warns them not to cross him.

Scully collects a hair sample from Jackson at the hospital morgue where he’s taken. She tells the body that if he’s William, she wants him to know she’s sorry they didn’t get to know each other. She gave him up because was in danger, not because she didn’t want him or love him. She thought having to let him go and miss his whole life was the hardest thing she’d ever have to do, but it’s harder now to see the outcome. She feels like she failed him.

Scully continues that she never forgot her son, and thought they would someday be reunited. She wishes she’d been there to help him with the pain he must have been going through. She feels like her words are inadequate, so she just says she’s sorry and cries. She realizes Mulder has arrived and heard part of what she said. He assures her that she has nothing to apologize for. They head off to do a DNA test. Seconds later, Jackson opens his body bag, very much alive.

Scully grabs a nap and experiences hypnagogia again. She thinks William is the shadowy figure. She follows him to an empty room and finds the Wizard of Oz snow globe. She wonders if it’s a message from William, or if she’s sending a message to him. After some flashes of the events of her visions in “My Struggle II,” Scully turns around and sees…

A coroner, Dr. Harris, wakes her up before she can see who’s there. He wants to know where Jackson’s body is. Mulder joins them in the morgue, and the agents try to figure out how Jackson got out, since it was locked. Mulder tells Scully that this isn’t a case where they can jump to extreme conclusions. She tells him she had another dream/vision that led her to the snow globe (which she took from Jackson’s room). She thinks he wants them to find him.

Scully leaves the hospital, running into a man and dropping the snow globe. She apologizes, but he acknowledges that she was distracted. He asks if she likes windmills, since there’s one in the snow globe. He tells her not to give up on the bigger picture. The agents go back to the Van de Kamps’ house and look for footage on the house’s surveillance cameras, but nothing comes up. Scully finds a business card in a sketchbook and pockets it.

There’s nothing about in Jackson’s search history, and nothing a normal 17-year-old boy would have, like porn, so Scully wonders if he cleared his history. But Mulder used something from the dark web that retrieves any search history that ever existed on a computer, and he still found nothing. He thinks Jackson had another computer.

Police arrive at the house, so the agents quickly search the room and find a hidden laptop. Mulder downloads the search history, which contains stuff, as the police demand that the agents leave. Scully tries to stall them, but the men who were following the agents pull rank – they are, as Mulder guessed, from the DOD, and have orders from the Department of Justice. Mulder continues his download, which includes classified documents about a Project Crossroads. When a DOD agent tries to stop him, Mulder purposely spills Jackson’s soda on the laptop, ruining it.

Mitch Pileggi collects a paycheck when Skinner calls to bug Mulder about not updating him on the case. He only knows what’s going on because the DOD agents filed a complaint about Mulder. Mulder tells him there’s a conspiracy the DOD are trying to cover up. He urges Skinner to come to Norfolk, then pretends his cell connection is failing. Skinner can’t do much more because CSM is in his office. He guesses Mulder will now start looking into Project Crossroads, which will lead the two of them to what they’re looking for.

Skinner meets Mulder on the Chimera and tells him to end the investigation. He talks about a eugenics program from the ’70s, led by a Dr. Masao Matsumoto. It was called Project Crossroads and worked with alien/human hybrid DNA, but it was defunded because the results were too unpredictable. Matsumoto burned all the files to protect the subjects, then disappeared.

The DOD has been looking for the subjects since then, and Mulder figures the DOD agents were following him and Scully so they would lead the agents to Jackson. He tells Skinner that the DNA results came back, and Jackson was William. Skinner’s warning is appreciated, but it’s too late.

Scully meets with Jackson’s therapist, Dr. Scholz, who doesn’t think he would have harmed his parents or himself. Scully asks if he ever had visions. Dr. Scholz won’t give details without a court order, but Scully guesses that they were apocalyptic – the same visions she had in “My Struggle II.” Dr. Scholz wonders how Scully could know that.

The agents meet up at the coffee house and discuss Scully and Jackson’s shared visions. She wonders if she was a receptacle for a message from Jackson, like her dream to come to Norfolk. She laughs when a barista calls Mulder by his fake coffee name, joking that “Fox” doesn’t exist in this alternate reality. Mulder says it’s a false reality, just like the rest of the case. He thinks there were two shooters in the house, the DOD agents. They moved Mrs. Van de Kamp’s body after her death, to make it look like there was one shooter, Jackson.

Mulder thinks that Scully was an unwilling participant in Project Crossroads, thanks to CSM. He also thinks Jackson was one of Matsumoto’s test subjects. He knew he was being hunted, so he created an alternate reality, made Mulder and Scully hear a gunshot, and faked his death to protect himself. Similarly, he made Sarah and Brianna see a monster. The question is, where is he now?

He’s at the hospital, visiting Brianna, who’s pleased to see that her boyfriend isn’t really dead. He wants to apologize for the Ghouli thing, which was just a prank. He made up everything on the website, and he made the girls see something he projected into their heads. Things went off the rails and Jackson couldn’t stop it. It all started when he had seizures that gave him visions of scary things like UFOs. But he could share them with a woman, possibly his birth mother.

Jackson knows he’s in danger, so he’s there to say goodbye. It may be too late, as the police have arrived at the hospital. Mulder and Scully come next, and Costa tells them they’ve trapped Jackson inside. Sarah caught Jackson in Brianna’s room and texted a picture to Costa. (Ooh, maybe Jackson should have visited Sarah first.) Scully asks Costa to keep the police outside so she and Mulder can go in first. He tells her the DOD agents are already inside.

Sarah admits that she wanted to hurt Jackson for kissing Brianna. He doesn’t seem too upset, but honestly, the girl trouble is the least of his problems right now. He takes off running and manages to evade the DOD agents for a while. He uses his projection abilities to make one agent look like Ghouli so the other shoots him. (Me, watching this the first time around: “Why doesn’t he just make himself look like someone else so they don’t recognize him?”)

The hospital is evacuated as Mulder and Scully search for Jackson, who’s hiding under a desk at the nurses’ station. Scully and the DOD agent come across each other and fire their guns. When Mulder comes to the place where they’re both lying, the real Scully joins him – Jackson made a cop look like Scully. He’s still under the desk and stays hidden when the agents call out for him. When he emerges from the desk, he makes himself look like a nurse running for safety.

The agents keep searching, but Jackson’s long gone. All Scully has left of him is some of his hair (and, I guess, pieces of the broken snow globe). On the way to the airport to head home, Scully spots a windmill outside a gas station and gets Mulder to make a pit stop. As she’s pumping gas, she encounters the man who ran into her at the hospital and broke the snow globe. He tells her he’s driving across the country to see the world. “Things are about to change,” he says.

Scully asks if the man is Matsumoto, which he should find flattering, since Matsumoto would be much older than this man. He says he’s no doctor; he didn’t even finish high school. He thinks Scully seems like a nice person and wishes he could know her better. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” he says as he gets in his car to leave.

Mulder comes out of the gas station’s convenience store, and Scully tells him she found the man familiar. She thinks he might have written a book they found in Jackson’s room about picking up girls. She shares the advice he gave her, which Mulder recognizes as a Malcolm X quote. They go out to the road to look for the man’s car, but he’s gone. There’s a surveillance camera at the station, so the agents look at the tape. The person Scully was speaking to couldn’t keep up his projection to fool the camera. It was Jackson.

Thoughts: The name Van de Kamp makes me think of Desperate Housewives, which just makes me wish it was on Netflix.

Show, you don’t have to shoehorn Skinner and CSM into an episode when there’s no use for them.

I’m a little surprised that the Van de Kamps told Jackson he was adopted. Wouldn’t it have kept him safer if no one knew?

June 29, 2019

The X-Files 11.4, The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat: The Mandela/Mengele Effect

Posted in TV tagged at 1:41 pm by Jenn

But was he a believer or a skeptic?

Summary: A man in a diner is distressed because Martians have invaded Earth and no one else seems to care. Everything’s in black and white. A waiter serves him coffee and asks for more information. The man says the Martians use a ray that makes people forget. He spots one through the window, but the waiter tells him he’s really looking in a mirror. The man is a Martian, and the waiter isn’t human, either.

Someone fuzzy bursts into Mulder’s house, where the phone is ringing. No, wait – it’s just Mulder in a suit made of grass and moss. Scully’s calling (“Mulder, it’s me”), and she’s been trying to reach him all day. He tells her he was out hunting for Bigfoot. He didn’t have any luck, but that wasn’t the point. He just wanted a break from watching the news and worrying about the country.

Scully confirms that they’re having dinner the next night, and Mulder takes advantage of the conversation to start telling a story he’s told many times about finding a Bigfoot print 35 years ago. He still has an impression of the print. Scully hangs up on him, not wanting to hear the story again.

Sometime later, Mulder goes to a parking garage and meets up with a man named Reggie (he doesn’t get a name yet, but I’m not typing “the man” over and over), who greets him with “Mulder, it’s me.” He thought they were done working together, but he’s stumbled upon a huge conspiracy. Mulder doesn’t know who Reggie is, but Reggie says it’s because “they” made him forget. In the process, Mulder’s also forgotten some things about aliens.

Hearing sirens, Mulder says Reggie’s ride must be here and starts to leave. Reggie reminds him of the first Twilight Zone episode he ever saw, “The Lost Martian.” That episode doesn’t really exist. They hear someone approaching, and as Mulder turns to see who it is, joking that it would be funny if it were Rod Serling, Reggie disappears.

Mulder goes home and searches through boxes of videotapes, trying to find “The Lost Martian.” He tells Scully that he thought Reggie must be crazy for thinking it doesn’t exist…but now Mulder can’t find any record of it ever existing. Scully thinks he just confused The Twilight Zone with a similar show, like The Outer Limits. Mulder finds that possibility ridiculous: “Do you even know me?!”

Scully says it can’t be that good of an episode, and can’t they just go get some food? Mulder says the episode isn’t the point, it’s about his memories of watching the show as a kid. In a truly bizarre scene, we see a young Mulder – with adult Mulder’s head – watching “The Lost Martian,” and loving the twist where the man and waiter in the diner are both non-humans. Once again, Scully ditches in the middle of the conversation.

She runs into Reggie in the parking garage, who knows she just saw Mulder. She guesses that he’s Reggie (who calls her “Sculls”), since Mulder gave a good description of him and his forehead sweat. Reggie asks her to help him find someone: Him. “They’re” trying to erase him. He gives Scully a box of gelatin mix and tells her his fingerprints are on the box. He yells that she needs to prove that he’s real. He runs as two men approach, dressed like the man who interrupted him and Mulder.

Scully takes the box to Mulder at their office, and they discuss the gelatin, which forms three different layers when it cools. Mulder wonders how that’s never been an X-File. The gelatin is a treasured memory from Scully’s childhood (just the cherry, though; the lemon-lime “tasted like leprechaun taint”), but she’s never been able to find it. It’s called Goop-O A-B-C, and everyone thinks she means Jell-O 1-2-3.

Mulder tells her it’s the Mandela Effect, the phenomenon where someone has a memory of something that didn’t happen. For example, people think Shaq did a movie called Shazaam, but they’re probably thinking of Kazaam. Scully doesn’t remember either movie. “You win!” Mulder exclaims. She thinks his false memory of The Twilight Zone fits here, too, but Mulder insists that that episode really exists.

Scully asks about Reggie, whose fingerprints from the box didn’t turn up anything. Mulder says he plans to meet with Reggie again; he’s already put an X on his window to summon him. Scully doesn’t want to intrude on their private meeting, but Mulder thinks Reggie wants her involved. He says he’ll be like a date. Yeah, a date with a sweaty fifth wheel.

The agents wait in the FBI headquarters parking garage until Reggie comes out of the shadows again. He introduces himself, saying he thinks his name is Reggie, but he doesn’t know his last name. He was unpacking some of his childhood things that his mother kept, and he had a Mandela Effect moment: Dr. Wussle, who wrote some of his beloved childhood books, now spelled his name Wuzzle. Reggie didn’t handle it well.

Mulder explains the Mandela Effect, which Reggie says is actually the Mengele Effect. When Mulder protests, Reggie says he’s “having a Mengele Effect about the Mandela Effect.” Anyway, Reggie’s search for answers took him to a store that sells old Americana. He found a cartoon Dr. Wussle/Wuzzle drew in 1940, and it spells his name Wuzzle. The store owner says Reggie’s suffering from the Mengele Effect.

Over the past couple of years, numerous customers have had the same experience, recalling things differently than they appear to be. The owner thinks the government knows about it, too. Can we really believe that Goop-O A-B-C wasn’t full of carcinogens back when it was being sold in the ’70s? Well, that explains some things about Scully.

Reggie tells the agents that someone is intentionally orchestrating the Mengele Effect. Like George Orwell said, “he who controls the past controls the future.” Companies will pay or do anything to make people forget about, say, their products blowing up. Reggie just can’t figure out how they’re doing it. Scully protests that it’s not possible; people are just remembering things wrong.

Mulder thinks this is about parallel universes. Somehow, ours is becoming intertwined with another, and people are remembering things from another dimension. “That’s science, Scully,” Mulder says. She and Reggie won’t go down that road, though Mulder doesn’t think it’s any crazier than Reggie’s theory. Scully reminds them of Occam’s Razor, which Reggie says is actually called Ozzie’s Razor.

Reggie says that since he’s the only one with proof of the plot, he thinks the people in charge of the conspiracy are now targeting him. He looked through his high school yearbook and can’t find any evidence that he attended that school. Scully says he’s probably just misremembering high school, like everyone does. But Reggie knows something bigger is going on, because the memorabilia shop owner is dead.

Reggie went back to the store looking for a candy shaped like watermelon slices that tasted like coconut. He found the store owner dead, having been impaled by a lawn dart. Scully doesn’t know what that is. She figures the store owner accidentally killed himself while playing with a dangerous toy. Like Mulder, she hears sirens and tells Reggie his ride is there. Reggie thinks that, even if he’s a conspiracy nut, he has to be right about some conspiracies. Mulder tells him he needs to explain who “they” are. Without details, the agents can’t help.

Reggie gives them a picture of a man in fancy clothes, which takes us to a little movie about him. His name is Thaddeus They, and while developing one-way space flights for NASA and something called a soy bomb, he devised a technique to alter memories. He wanted to help astronauts complete their missions without being burdened by memories of life back on Earth. But They was fired for also making them think they were chimps.

They went to Grenada and worked more on his memory-altering methods, which is how we got stuff like Holocaust denial and people forgetting that They starred in a movie called Ka-Blaam. They hasn’t been seen or heard of for years, though there are rumors that he was at the 2016 inauguration, among the millions of attendees. (Cough.) He clung to the top of the Washington Monument, wearing a MAGA hat.

The agents think the video is ridiculous. Reggie tells them he confirmed They’s time in Grenada. He laughs when Mulder outlines the reasons the U.S. invaded Grenada in the ’80s, claiming no one remembers the real reasons. Not even him, and he was there. When he was 18, he wrote some things there, to be read when he turned 50. But it’s all redacted, possibly by Reggie himself, as a joke. The important part is that there’s a UFO stamp on the letter. Mulder explains that the prime minister claimed they found a dead alien in the ocean.

Reggie says that he was at the hospital when the not-actually-dead alien was brought in. So was They. He said the alien had been sent to Earth to warn people about holes in the ozone layer. In 35 years, another alien would come to see if humans had avoided environmental catastrophe. (Spoiler: We hadn’t.) Reggie got a good look at the alien, which appeared to speak to They telepathically. But then a bunch of Men in Black showed up and took the alien away.

Reggie isn’t sure if he repressed the memory or if They erased it, but seeing the stamp brought everything back. This is too much for Scully, so she leaves. Mulder tells Reggie that his theory is possible, but not likely, so he’s out, too. Reggie continues his story anyway. He still remembers the alien’s telepathic yelling. In an attempt to find out what happened to the alien, Reggie dropped out of med school and joined the FBI…where he started the X-Files.

This finally makes the agents stop and listen. Reggie insists that he and Mulder used to be partners. Video “evidence” shows an alternate opening for the show, with an a capella theme song. It stars Fox Mulder, Dana Scully. and Reggie Something. Everything’s the same, except Reggie is now in the credit scenes with the other two agents. He’s the person who got the “I want to believe” poster, which is what he called to tell Mulder about in “The Unusual Suspects.”

More alternate scenes: Reggie was in the office when Scully first met Mulder, though Reggie called Scully “sugar boobs” and told her women weren’t allowed in the X-Files. He was there when the agents first encountered Tooms (“That guy is soooooo creepy!” Reggie sing-songed) and when Clyde Bruckman talked to Mulder about possible ramifications for seeing the future. Reggie was confused because Bruckman mentioned the U.S. invading Grenada.

Reggie was also there when the agents were trying to figure out what was going on in “Teso Dos Bichos.” “Guys, if this turns out to be killer cats, I’m going to be very disappointed,” Reggie said, speaking for the whole audience. In addition, he helped them find Mrs. Peacock in “Home,” and was the one who interrupted Scully and the fake Mulder in “Small Potatoes” (then shot the fake Mulder). The agents don’t remember any of that, or their last case with Reggie. That means They has targeted them, knowing they’re the only people who can stop him.

Scully insists that there is no They. Reggie says the men who keep approaching them are his henchmen. There are more of them now, in the same gray suits as the others, but there are also two men in black suits approaching. The men in gray chase Reggie into the building while Mulder and Scully stop the men in black. They’re FBI agents, and they mock Mulder for not figuring out who Reggie is. Mulder doesn’t like being disrespected and yells his name a few times.

In the office, he puts together a board trying to figure out the conspiracy, throwing a bone to the Internet by connecting Ted Cruz’s father to JFK’s assassination. He’s not sure if Bob Dylan’s Grammy performance was really interrupted by a guy with “soy bomb” written on his chest, since there’s no video evidence. Everything Mulder comes up with just leads him back to parallel universes. He tells Scully he’s lost the plot. Scully thinks he’s just burned out on conspiracies, “especially after all this birther stuff.”

Mulder gets a call from They and meets up with him in a sculpture garden. They wants to shame Mulder for taking so long to find out about his conspiracy. He hasn’t even been hiding; he’s in the phone book. They made the video Reggie showed the agents, in an attempt to make “phone fake news.” It’s the idea of presenting the truth in a way that ensures no one will believe it. They wanted to meet with Mulder out of “professional courtesy” and tell him his time has passed.

Once upon a time, people in power thought they could keep their secrets secret. Now, nothing can be covered up. He figures kids will shorten the name for this time from “post-conspiracy” to “po-co.” Mulder doesn’t care, as long as the truth gets out. They says the public doesn’t know what the truth means anymore. He can change people’s collective memories, which means he can control the past, which also means he can control the future. He credits that to Orson Welles, but Mulder says George Orwell said that. “For now, maybe,” They says.

His point is that he can tell Mulder the whole truth, but it doesn’t matter because no one will believe it. They just believe what they want. He doesn’t even really need to control people’s minds; he just needs people to think it’s possible. From there, people are less trusting. They leaves Mulder behind with the sculptures, which are laughing and shrugging.

Reggie ambushes Mulder in the parking garage again, calling him “Foxy.” Scully joins them, announcing that she used Reggie’s yearbook to find his high school transcripts and get his real name, Reginald Murgatroid. He’s not in the yearbook because he was only at that school for a few weeks. He got his GED and enlisted in the Army, which took him to Grenada. He was hit in the head with a shovel, was discharged, and went to work for multiple government agencies, like the Post Office and the IRS. Part of his job at the DOJ was giving people new identities through Witness Protection.

After 9/11, Reggie joined the CIA and engaged in activities like waterboarding someone right in his cubicle. Then he got to use drone bombs with the DOD. While working for the NSA, he eavesdropped on people’s conversations, including Mulder and Scully’s. Then, about a year ago, Reggie had a nervous breakdown and was sent to a psych facility.

Mulder thinks he just felt tormented because he wanted to serve his country, but instead had to betray his ideals. He used information from illegal wiretaps and developed a fantasy where he worked with the agents. Reggie tries to argue that he’s from a parallel universe, but he can’t make it work. Sirens approach, coming from a station wagon sent from the psych facility, and Reggie says his ride is there. Men in gray suits politely put him in a straight jacket, and he wishes the agents good luck with the rest of their cases.

Mulder asks what happened during the agents’ last case together. Reggie says they found the truth that’s out there. In flashback, the agents go out somewhere to meet the alien that was supposed to come 35 years after the one found in Grenada. “Scully drove,” Reggie says. They find the remains of the Voyager, then spot a UFO nearby. An alien comes down to meet them (it takes a while; his moving walkway is slow, and then he has to get on a Segway).

The alien tells the agents that he’s a representative of an intergalactic union of sentient beings, made up of beings from all known universes. After years of studying Earth, the aliens no longer want any contact with humans. They’re building a wall. Anything sent beyond it will be destroyed. Humans are just not sending their best people – they’re bring drugs and rapists, though some may be good people. (Cough cough.) But the real dealbreaker is that humans lie.

So there are no hard feelings, the alien does have a gift for the agents: a book containing answers to all humans’ questions about…well, anything. Helpfully, it’s labeled “all the answers.” The alien wishes the agents “good luck and good riddance.” He gets back on his UFO, singing his own theme music. Mulder has finally gotten the answer to his big question: We’re not alone in the universe. However, the other beings out there don’t like us.

Scully says there will always be more X-Files, but since the book has answers to everything, there’s nothing left to investigate. He’s not happy about what the book says about Sasquatch. While Mulder has a tantrum on the ground, Reggie says this is the end of the X-Files. But maybe the point was finding each other, rather than the truth. No one can take away their memories, or alter them in a way that makes them think they never happened. Scully starts to possibly declare her love for Reggie, but he stops her and says he knows. The three have a group hug.

In the present, Reggie says they lived happily ever after, then is loaded into the ambulance to go to the psych hospital. He laughs off Mulder’s promise to come visit. As Reggie is carted off, Skinner comes into the parking garage, sees the ambulance leaving, and asks, “Where the hell are they taking Reggie?”

Back at Mulder’s house, Mulder has found “The Lost Martian,” which was actually an episode of a Twilight Zone knock-off called The Dusky Realm. The tape gets messed up, so Mulder is the last person who will ever see that episode. Scully has mixed up some Goop-O A-B-C, using the Bigfoot impression as a mold. She starts to take a bite, then puts down her spoon. “I want to remember how it was,” she says. “I want to remember how it all was.”

Thoughts: I adore Brian Huskey (Reggie). He’s Regular-Sized Rudy!

I love that, even in the flashbacks, where Mulder and Scully are super-young, Reggie always looks the same.

The sculpture garden is really in Canada, but I guess we’re not supposed to know that. Or maybe in this universe, it’s in D.C.

June 22, 2019

The X-Files 11.3, Plus One: Mixed Doubles

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

They did it, y’all!

Summary: A very loud rock band is playing for an energetic crowd. One fan jumps on stage, then crowd-surfs, which I didn’t think was still a thing in 2018. He sees someone who looks exactly like him in the crowd and follows him outside, but the doppelganger disappears. The fan drives off in his truck, and when a police officer comes up behind him with his lights and sirens on, the fan thinks he’s getting pulled over for speeding. The officer goes after someone else, but the fan realizes he’s not alone – the doppelganger is in his truck. He grabs the wheel and makes the fan crash.

Despite being thrown through the front windshield (always wear your seatbelt, everyone), the fan – Arkie Seavers – survives the crash and ends up in the local jail. He’s claiming that someone who looks exactly like him caused the crash. Scully thinks this is a simple case of confusion while drunk. Mulder, however, has heard stories over other people in Henrico County, Virginia, dying after claiming they saw their doubles. The diagnosis is a rare form of schizophrenia.

Mulder continues that many of the dead people took their own lives. Scully hears the numbers and realizes they’re dealing with a “mass phenomenon.” That definitely makes this an X-File. The agents head straight to the Henrico County jail to meet with Arkie, who says he’d seen his doppelganger a few times over the past week. Scully confirms that he uses drugs, which would certainly explain his story. But Arkie says he can prove that there really was a double.

The agents go to the scene of the crash, debating whether Arkie fell asleep at the wheel and is making up a story about a double. Then they meet with Dr. Babsi Russel, who treated a number of the victims at Henrico County Psychiatric Hospital. Though none of the victims had been treated for psychiatric problems before, they were all “arguably not upstanding citizens.” Russel thinks they all developed mental illnesses in a sort of outbreak.

As Scully and Russel discuss the possibility of mass hysteria, Mulder peeks in on a patient who’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She also exhibits split personalities and has wild mood swings. Mulder wants to take a closer look at her drawings, as the woman has pages and pages of Hangman games covering her walls. Russel lets the agents meet the patient, Judy, who claims to be a famous actress whose fans call her Little Judy. She plays Hangman telepathically with her brother.

Mulder sees that one of the words used in a Hangman game was “Arkie,” so he asks if Judy knows Arkie Seavers. She doesn’t, but she points to an empty chair and says “she” might know him. After the agents leave, Judy draws a frown on the hanged man on Arkie’s page, then frowns at it herself. At the jail, Arkie is put in another cell and told he’s going to be transferred somewhere else. His double is waiting for him in the cell.

Mulder and Scully check into the St. Rachel Motel for the night, but there’s only one room, so they’ll have to share. X-Files fanfiction writers around the world scream with joy. Sometime during the night, Mulder leaves his pull-out couch to tell Scully that Arkie was found dead in his cell. His lawyer, Mr. Cavalier, is skeptical that he could have strangled himself while wearing handcuffs, but Mulder knows it’s possible. (I…don’t want to think about that any further.) Mr. Cavalier denies that Arkie was suicidal.

Scully tries to preemptively shut down any theory Mulder might be developing that connects Judy’s Hangman game to Arkie’s death by hanging. He wants to find Judy’s brother and see if he’s somehow involved. So Mulder goes to a rundown, hoarded house and meets with Judy’s brother, Chucky, who happens to be the guard who found Arkie’s body in his cell.

Chucky has the same Hangman games on his walls that Judy does. He complains that Judy cheats when they play. Mulder guesses that Chucky and Judy are twins, and Judy’s the good one. Chucky laughs at that. He says the use of Arkie’s name in a Hangman game was meaningless; he just liked it. Chucky makes a snide remark about Mulder to an unseen person in the room.

Scully returns to the hospital, where Judy has become difficult. Two nurses say they call this version of her Demon Judy. Scully knows that people with split personalities sometimes respond well to strong authority, so she’s going to give that a try. A nurse tells her that Judy’s parents both hanged themselves. Scully decides she needs the nurses as backup, but they’re not going in.

Judy flings crap at Scully as she tries to ask questions about Arkie and Chucky. Judy says that Arkie killed himself, though how would she know that if she wasn’t involved? She asks if Scully’s trying to trick her. Scully says she just wants the deaths to stop. Judy asks what Mulder sees in her. If he hooked up with Judy, he’d forget all about Scully. Maybe Judy can make her go away, too. She mocks that Scully’s dried up and past her child-bearing years. Scully says Judy can’t hurt her, but Judy knows the truth can do a lot of damage.

Back in the motel that night, Mulder visits Scully from his part of the suite (separated by a door) and they discuss the weird influence Judy seems to have over the victims. Mulder thinks ghosts are involved, but Scully wants to go with psychic transference. She asks if Mulder thinks of her as old. “You still got it going on,” he assures her. She sends him back to his part of the suite, but he tells her to “knock three times,” meaning he’d welcome a late-night visit.

Chucky reads a poorly copyedited newspaper headline about Cavalier claiming that Arkie’s death was supernatural. He starts a new Hangman game, indeed playing telepathically with Judy. She guesses a letter out loud, and when he writes it down, it appears on her paper. It looks like the word is “Dean,” which is Cavalier’s first name.

The next morning, Mulder visits Chucky again and asks how he’s able to commit his murders. He must choose the victims at the jail, then hangs them psychically. Chucky says he’s questioning the wrong person. Mulder threatens to have Chucky arrested or committed for intending to commit a crime. Chucky knows he’d easily be released, and would then have Mulder censured. Mulder gets Chucky riled up and warns that he’s going to eventually hang himself.

Scully goes back to see Judy, who’s back to the pleasant person she was when the agents first met her. Judy insists that she’s not a killer – when she was an actress, she never even played one. She blames her unseen roommate for whatever Scully thinks has happened. Scully thinks Judy has some sort of power to influence people’s lives. “I think you mean people’s deaths,” Judy corrects. But people can protect themselves with pills, like Judy does. Every day, the nurses give her pills that have secret powers.

Scully sees that she’s playing Hangman and asks her to stop the game. Judy can’t – she’d go mad. Scully shows the pills to the nurses, who tell her they’re really made of bread, rolled by Judy herself. The nurses take them, though, just in case Judy’s right about them having secret powers. Scully might want to take them, too.

Cavalier goes to a restaurant and flirts horribly with a waitress. He sees a guy outside who looks just like him and chases after him. He goes to the motel and tells the agents about the double, whom he thinks he may have also seen a few days ago. Scully tries to calm him down, telling him that mass hysteria is just fears gone wild. Mulder thinks there’s an actual threat, though, so Cavalier should take some precautions. “It can’t haunt you if you don’t let it,” Scully says.

Mulder tells Scully that he really thinks there’s a dark presence in the town. Scully says there’s no such thing as evil – it’s just a concept, like the Devil. Mulder asks about dark sides that humans might have. She thinks people can act out dark impulses, but that doesn’t mean everyone has an evil twin. Mulder asks about Judy and Chucky. Scully thinks there’s a rational explanation, though she admits that she’s superstitious enough to sleep with her back to the door, in case the Devil comes for a nighttime visit.

Cavalier goes home and dumps all his weapons and sharp objects in his driveway. As he’s gathering his ties and belts, Judy and Chucky continue their Hangman game. Cavalier accidentally cuts himself on one of his many, many swords, and as he’s taking care of the cut in the bathroom, he hears another sword being unsheathed in the other room. The last thing he sees is his double.

Once again, Mulder wakes Scully during the night so they can go to a crime scene. Cavalier’s neighbors called the police when they saw him dumping weapons in the driveway. Though the front door was locked, Cavalier was killed with one of his swords, and there’s no way he could have killed himself, because it’s pretty impossible to decapitate yourself. Scully things the slight possibility is enough to hold on to.

As Scully goes out to the car to leave, she spots her own double in a crowd of nosy neighbors. She has a restless night in the motel, expecting the Devil to come through her door. She goes to Mulder’s part of the suite and asks him to cuddle her. The fanfiction writers scream again. Scully asks what will happen when they’re old. Will they still hang out after they retire? Mulder promises that he’ll always be around to offer up his wild theories. She says she’ll always be around to shoot them down.

Scully asks what might happen if Mulder meet someone younger who wants to have a family. Mulder says she could also meet someone she wants to have kids with, but Scully knows it’s too late for that. She would have liked to have had another one, though. Mulder asks what’s stopping her. Scully reminds him that William’s conception was a miracle. Plus, she doesn’t have a partner to conceive a baby with.

Sometimes she feels like the world is going to Hell, and the two of them are the only ones who can save it. They both wonder what they would do if they lost their jobs. Scully says they’ll think of something. As she smiles at Mulder, ready to take her clothes off, her double glares at them from the doorway.

Judy and Chucky have started a new round of Hangman, and it looks like the word is Mulder. He happens to be awake in the middle of the night, and when he goes to the bathroom for water, he sees his double in the mirror. He wakes Scully, who tells him she saw her own double, too. She thinks Judy and Chucky are trying to make them victims of the mass hysteria.

Mulder tells Scully to “put a dimmer on that afterglow” (they totally had sex, y’all) and go to the hospital so she’ll be in a safe place. He thinks her name is the one Judy and Chucky are playing right now. Judy does, too, but Chucky wants to get rid of Mulder, thinking Judy’s in love with him. Judy tries to change the word to “Scully.”

Scully takes some bread pills as she leaves for the hospital. Mulder goes to Chucky’s house to arrest him, but instead runs into his double. Scully’s double is in her backseat, and Scully tries to explain her away with logic. Maybe she’s just evil incarnate. The double has no time for this, I guess, and disappears.

Mulder fights his double as Chucky scraps his Hangman game to write in Judy’s name. Judy does the same with Chucky’s name. Their doubles both appear to them. When Scully gets to Judy’s room, Demon Judy is ready for her, but the real Judy is dead. Mulder’s double vanishes, and he finds Chucky as dead as his twin. He also finds two very old Hangman games on the wall, with the words “Mom” and “Dad.”

Back at the motel, Mulder suggests getting a couple of hours in before the agents check out (though he says he means sleep). Scully sends him off to his part of the suite, saying she won’t need anything. But after he leaves, she changes her mind and goes to the door. He’s right on the other side, waiting for her to join him.

Thoughts: Judy and Chucky are both played by Karin Konoval, who was also the creepy mom in “Home.” She does an amazing job in this episode. Dr. Russel is played by Denise Dowse, AKA Mrs. Teasley in Beverly Hills, 90210.

Arkie? Babsi? Who was in charge of naming characters on this show?

Where does Cavalier live, an armory? Who needs that many guns and swords?

June 15, 2019

The X-Files 11.2, This: Langly Calling from the Imitation Zone

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:25 pm by Jenn

“Mulder, if you Rick Roll me one more time, I’m leaving you for real”

Summary: The Ramones’ “California Sun” is playing as a car speeds somewhere, carrying three people who look like they’ve either just committed a crime or are on their way to commit one. Mulder and Scully are asleep on Mulder’s couch, oblivious to the fact that a familiar (though distorted voice) is speaking Mulder’s name through his phone. A staticky video shows Langly trying to reach out to his old friend. The three possible criminals arrive at their destination: Mulder’s house.

Langly asks Mulder and Scully if he’s dead, then says that if he is, “they know that I know.” The agents realize someone’s outside the house, and the second the door begins to open, Mulder tells Scully, “Go.” He moves a couch in front of the door while Scully slides under a table to grab a gun. She turns the table on its side and hides behind it as the three criminals enter and start shooting. After a brief firefight, two men are down, and the agents are unharmed. The third man gets away.

Mulder’s phone lights up again, and Langly repeats his message: “They know that I know.” Scully uses Mulder’s landline (which looks like it’s been around since the ’70s) to call in the attack, and the two start bagging up evidence. Mulder won’t give up his phone, knowing no one will do anything with it. He asks if there’s any possibility that Langly’s still alive. Scully doesn’t think so, since the Lone Gunmen’s bodies were completely destroyed.

Mulder thinks Langly’s message was more than just a warning that the three men were coming to the house. Langly asked if he was dead, which is pretty weird. Two military vehicles arrive, and at first the agents think they’re there to respond to the attack, but they quickly realize that’s probably not right. The phone rings, but Mulder says not to answer. He yells for the people outside to identify themselves. A Russian man shouts back that they need to answer the phone.

As Scully wonders if they should call Skinner, admitting that she’s no longer sure whose side he’s on, Mulder warns the group outside that they’re armed federal agents. The guy outside tells Mulder and Scully to come out. She calls Skinner, who tells her to surrender – it’s her and Mulder’s only chance. The guy outside tells Mulder that he knows what he did. The men who attacked the agents were wearing body cams, so the people outside know exactly what happened during the firefight.

Scully relays Skinner’s message that they should surrender. Mulder’s not about to give himself over to people whose allegiance he doesn’t know, so he tells the guy outside that they’re ready to fight. “We don’t need to identify ourselves,” the guy says. “What world are you living in?” He sends his men into the house, which leads to another shootout. This time, Mulder and Scully lose and are captured.

The Russian enters and tells his men that Price is going to be upset about the deaths of two of her best guys. She’ll want this group to finish what the original attackers couldn’t. The Russian wants Mulder’s phone, but Mulder’s not going to hand it over. The Russian mocks Mulder’s “I want to believe poster,” then says that America would have been okay losing the Cold War if they’d known they could make a profit off of it. He plans to kill the agents after he gets his hands on the phone.

The men toss the room, looking for the phone, which was stashed in the oven. The Russian finds it when it comes back on and replays Langly’s message. The agents choose that minute to surprise the other men, shoot one of their guns around the room, and escape. They escape through the woods around the house, handcuffed together.

Skinner arrives just in time to rescue them (and undo their handcuffs). He explains that the men are from an American security contractor headquartered in Moscow. They got permission from the Executive Branch to have authority over the FBI. Skinner thought they just wanted to question the agents, not kill them. He wants to take the agents to a secure place, but they don’t trust him. He gives them a pocketknife and all the money he has on him so they can go on the run.

Scully asks if Langly’s alive. Skinner reminds her that they were both at the Lone Gunmen’s funeral, which doesn’t answer her question. He thinks he did: “They’re buried in Arlington.” Back in the house, the Russian orders one of his men to hack Mulder’s phone and find out how Langly contacted him. But there’s a kill switch in the program, which shuts down any link to who sent Langly’s message.

Mulder and Scully go to Arlington National Cemetery and find the Lone Gunmen’s graves. Mulder notes that Langly’s birthdate is wrong; it’s seven months off from his and Mulder’s shared birthday. The other guys’ are right, which the agents know because Byers was born the day JFK was assassinated and Frohike was born the day FDR died. Mulder wonders if any president died on March 28, 1969, the birthdate on Langly’s headstone. Scully somehow knows it was Eisenhower.

She notes that JFK was the 35th president, Eisenhower the 34th, and FDR the 32nd. Mulder teases that she’s showing off. They wonder if skipping over the 33rd president (Truman, for the record) is significant. They go three rows up and three rows over (checking in both directions), which takes Mulder to Deep Throat’s grave. He reveals that he was in the cemetery the day of Deep Throat’s funeral, watching from a distance. In case anyone cares, Deep Throat’s real name was Ronald Pakula.

Mulder says that Deep Throat’s dead because the world was complex and dangerous back in 1994. Now it seems like a simpler time. Everything they feared back then has come to pass. Scully doesn’t get the connection between the Lone Gunmen and Deep Throat, who died eight years apart. Langly couldn’t have even known he would be buried at Arlington. Mulder realizes that the cross on Deep Throat’s headstone is different from the crosses on the others. Instead of being engraved, it’s a separate piece that Mulder turns to the side, revealing something underneath.

As someone tries to sneak up on the agents, they use Skinner’s pocketknife to pry the thing out of the headstone. Mulder recognizes it as a memory medallion, a disc with a QR code that can be scanned to play a video of the deceased. The agents don’t have their phones, so they can’t scan it. Scully spots the person sneaking up on them, and they’re able to hide behind headstones while he shoots at them. Mulder manages to come around the behind the shooter (who was the surviving man from the original attack) and knock him out on Deep Throat’s headstone. The agents run off and leave him there.

The agents hide out somewhere for the night, then hit an Internet café in Annandale (not Annadale, chyron writer) the next morning. They’re starving, and managed to snag bran muffins so good that Mulder wants to open an X-File on how it was made. They scan the QR code, which gives them video footage of the exterior of a building in New York. Mulder knows from Edward Snowden’s documents that it was code-named Titanpointe and used by the NSA as a surveillance station in a program called Blarney.

In the ’90s, Mulder opened an X-File on the building, with info from Langly. He thinks they should look at their files. Of course, they can’t go to their office, since that would make them easy to find. But they can go to the FBI building and ambush Skinner to get his help. Skinner says he’s not working with their attackers, but the world is different now than it was back when the X-Files started. There are tons of organizations all fighting each other and trying to eliminate each other, including the FBI.

Scully tells Skinner that, even if they don’t trust him, they need his help. Skinner wonders how they got to this point. Scully says they’re not asking for rescue, just assistance. Skinner informs the agents that they can access their files from anywhere – the magic of technology! The private company that employs the Russians digitized all the X-Files so other agencies can refer to them. Mulder asks why Skinner didn’t tell them when the X-Files were reopened. Scully asks if Skinner’s working with the Russians.

Skinner says the contents of the X-Files is now public information, though it’s controlled by the FBI. Unfortunately, they’re not intact – all Mulder’s files on Blarney and Titanpointe are missing. Langly has also been erased from the files, though Byers and Frohike remain (and are linked to his name as related subjects, so…someone screwed up there).

There’s a file under Frohike’s name (called “Spank Bank,” and using an icon of Scully’s face – classy) that leads to a folder using Joey Ramone, Langly’s favorite rocker, as an icon. This takes the agents to contact information for a woman named Karah Hamby. There’s a note saying to go to her if Langly is scrubbed from the X-Files. Skinner’s on the phone across the room and doesn’t see the agents getting this info. He tells the agents that he’s trying to call off the Russians’ pursuit of the agents, but the FBI isn’t on good terms with the White House.

Karah Hamby is a professor at Semple Technical Academy in Bethesda, which is where the agents present her with the memory medallion. She thought that after five years passed without contact from them, she’d be able to let go of her regrets. She warns that the Russians’ organization, Purlieu Services, is watching. They came to her and Langly 15 years ago with the math and science to prove that humans can live forever.

They had their bodies copied and uploaded into a simulation. After Langly died, he was basically resurrected in the simulation. If Langly’s reaching out now, Purlieu must have lied about what was possible in the simulation. Hamby says that they wanted to have an eternal life together, so they accepted Purlieu’s offer. There was a limit on two-way contact, but Langly must have hacked it to reach out.

Mulder asks why Langly contacted him, of all people. Hamby says he must have figured out he’s in a simulation but still remembered working on X-Files with Mulder. Purlieu must know that he’s trying to tell the agents about the simulation. Hamby says they need to make it easier for Langly to make contact. She starts to give the agents what they need to do that, but the third attacker has found them and shoots her before she can finish. Scully takes him out, so two people will be joining Langly in his simulated world.

The agents go to a bar, where “California Sun” is playing, and Scully takes a nap while Mulder tries to use Hamby’s work on her phone. However, he knows Purlieu will try to use the phone to find them, so they can’t keep it on the whole time they’re on the run. Langly makes contact again, excited that both agents are there. He confirms that he’s not real, though that’s not bad – the simulation is like Heaven. He gets to eat whatever he wants and go to Ramones concerts every night. Also the New England Patriots never win. “I’m begging you, destroy it,” he says.

Langly continues that it’s like a work camp for digital slaves. The science known by the people in the simulation will be used by the elite to leave the real planet for space. The simulated people have no choices or dreams. Everything’s fake and everyone hates it. They’re all completely different from the people they were in life. Langly tells the agents to go to Titanpointe and shut down the simulation.

The agents take a bus to New York, unsure of how they’ll get access to the building while they’re there. Right now, Scully’s more focused on the bus ride and the rambunctious kids around them. But they come up with a plan: Scully uses her FBI credentials to take Mulder to the New York field office, pretending he’s there to be questioned. An employee sexually harasses Scully (and I hope she gets him fired later), then lets them in. Mulder does a Hannibal Lechter impression to pretend he’s too dangerous to be uncuffed.

The harasser asks Scully, who he calls “hon,” where her home office is. SCULLY, HAVE HIM FIRED. She addresses him as “bro” and says she’s married to the bureau. The agents start to take an elevator up to the floor where the simulation tech is housed, but Mulder thinks they could get ambushed, so they should take the stairs. Scully has to agree, even though the building has 29 floors. They get ambushed anyway, just on the stairs instead of coming off the elevator.

Scully is able to escape, but Mulder is captured and greeted by the Russian. He tells Mulder he’s on Purlieu’s side now. He’s taken to the 29th floor for a meeting with Price, who admits that she didn’t see his value before. Over the past few days, she’s come to respect his “instinct for survival.” She wants him to change how he looks at everything. He won’t face the question of CSM, and he doesn’t know what’s going to happen.

As Scully fights her way to the simulation tech, Price tells Mulder that the world is about replacements. What he needs to know is this: Life on the planet is about to be destroyed. The simulation tech is necessary for our evolution as a species. Langly’s the only person who’s figured out he’s in the simulation, and of all the billions of people he could have contacted, he chose to call Mulder. That must mean something. Price thinks that when Mulder understands that the simulation is meant to advance life, not end it, he won’t want to destroy it.

Mulder has a proposal: If he kills CSM, can he and Scully upload into the simulation and spend eternity together after they die? Price says it won’t be the two of them. They can take a piece of a person any time that person makes a call. Mulder says in that case, he doesn’t have a choice. Price laughs that he can choose not to use his phone. Mulder says he wants to believe, but he’d like to see the tech first. Meanwhile, Scully’s found it.

Price asks why Mulder wants to see it. He says it’s the closest he’ll get to seeing God. Price sends him off with the Russian, but Mulder spots a shadow around the corner and realizes Scully’s close by. He overpowers and knocks out the Russian, making Scully wonder how Mulder’s able to operate so well while handcuffed. “As if you didn’t know,” Mulder replies, which, honestly, answers some questions I didn’t need answered.

Scully uncuffs Mulder and goes to the tech room while he continues fighting with the Russian. As Mulder smashes the Russian’s face, Scully smashes the glass cage around the technology. She shuts it down, whispering a goodbye to Langly. The winner of the men’s fight joins her, and fortunately, it’s Mulder. He’s pleased that he got his phone back. He’s ready to take the Russian to the FBI and start a case against Price, though he may need a few minutes first. (Fighting at this age isn’t as easy as it was when he was younger.)

The agents return to the building sometime later with more FBI agents, but, unsurprisingly, all the simulation tech is gone, as is Price. Back at home, the agents start to clean up the trashed house, then opt for a nap instead. Langly comes up on the phone, yelling that they need to destroy the backup. He disappears, then is replaced by the third shooter and “California Sun.”

Thoughts: Two of the boys on the bus are played by Gillian Anderson’s sons.

Why does Scully know multiple presidents’ dates of death? When would that knowledge ever come in handy? Maybe in some obscure trivia contest?

Scully asking one of the kids on the bus, “Are you kidding me?” as he’s getting in her personal space is the most I’ve ever related to her.

June 8, 2019

The X-Files 11.1, My Struggle III: Oh, Good, More Conspiracies

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

Haven’t we done this before?

Summary: Two years after “My Struggle II” aired, CSM greets us with a voiceover, immediately answering a question many have had for years: His real name is Carl Gerhard Busch. He’s seen a lot of history unfold, and knows that if people knew what was really going on behind the scenes, they would riot. CSM claims he’s not a bad man; he makes others great. That’s what makes him great.

CSM says both of his sons have made sacrifices and paid horrible prices while searching for the truth CSM has “parceled” out to them. There’s definitely life out there on other planets. CSM doesn’t want trust or loyalty, just for his sons to realize that CSM was right and did what needed to be done. P.S. The moon landing was fake.

Zoom in on Scully’s eye, then quick flashbacks of the events of the previous episode. Scully’s unconscious, having been found on the floor of the X-Files office by Mulder, who looks much better than he did in “My Struggle II” – as if he was never sick at all. Mulder and Skinner go to the hospital where she’s taken, and a neurologist, Dr. Joyet, tells them she doesn’t know what happened. All she knows is that Scully has abnormal brain activity, but no apparent damage.

Joyet shows the men scans of Scully’s brain and says she’s never seen what’s happening there before. There’s a flashing in her hypothalamus, her fight-or-flight center. Skinner sees the flashing as a code, six dots and two dashes: “Find him.” Joyet lets the men visit Scully, and Mulder vows to stay with her as long as she’s in the hospital. Skinner thinks they should focus on the “him” of the code – probably William. Scully must want him because she’s dying. Mulder refuses to believe that and again says he’s staying with Scully.

Great, more voiceover. Mulder fears that he’s responsible for Scully’s condition. If he is, how can he fix it? Scully has more flashbacks, then wakes up. She tells Mulder he has to go find CSM. She knows “how it begins.” The Spartan virus will become an epidemic and lead to massive destruction. But there’s a cure, so Mulder needs to find William and get his stem cells.

Mulder tells Scully there’s no plague, and besides, CSM is dead. Scully insists that he’s alive in Spartanburg. Mulder thinks Scully’s confused because of the weird activity in her brain. Scully tells him that CSM will kill him if Mulder doesn’t stop him.

Since the last time we saw him, Jeffrey Spender’s face has improved a lot. Wherever he is now, someone’s trying to run him down in a parking garage. He manages to dodge his would-be assassin’s car and lock himself out of reach of the driver. The driver says he just wants “the boy.” Spender won’t help, so the driver leaves.

Joyet agrees with Mulder that Scully’s visions are just that, visions. Nothing with the Spartan virus actually happened. The question now is where the visions came from. Joyet has seen some stuff in her time, and she figures Scully’s experiencing the aftermath of some experiments. Impatient, Scully wants to leave and investigate, but Mulder says he’ll handle it. On his way out of the hospital, he gets a voice mail from Spender.

Scully has more visions, this time from the future instead of the past. She sees CSM telling someone they can’t be found, and Mulder getting in a car accident. As she wakes up, we briefly see a teen boy doing the same, seemingly having had the same visions as Scully. Mulder listens to Spender’s message, which warns that someone came after him looking for William. Everyone connected to him is in danger.

CSM knows that Mulder will be looking for him, and just like in Scully’s vision, he tells Reyes they can’t be found. Meanwhile, someone follows Mulder as he heads off on a road trip, voicing over more pointless stuff about Scully. He knows he’s being followed, so he tries to get away from his pursuer. CSM gloats to Reyes that Mulder can’t stop what’s already been put into motion.

The car chase goes on forever. Is this what it’s like watching The Fast and the Furious? I’ll pass. Mulder’s pursuer crashes, but Mulder is able to get away. Back at the hospital, Scully has William-related dreams/flashbacks, waking up when Spender comes by. She asks where William is, but he reminds her that she made him promise never to tell her. Scully says Mulder’s life is at stake. Spender can only provide the adoptive family’s last name, Van De Kamp.

Scully tells Spender that CSM’s alive, and she tries to leave again to go on the hunt. Joyet stops her, but even the risk of a seizure won’t keep Scully in the hospital. CSM admits to Reyes that, though he knows William’s in danger, he doesn’t know who the danger is coming from. Reyes thinks someone knows William is CSM’s weakness. CSM says no one could know that. Even if his plans were to get out, people would dismiss them as “fake news.” No one wants to accept the threat of our impending extinction.

Mulder’s still driving and voicing over. Scully calls him to tell him that Spender gave him William’s last name. She’s left the hospital and is in the X-Files office. She promises that she knows what she’s doing. Mulder tells her he’s in South Carolina, just as Scully’s visions showed that everything begins. She insists that they find William. She has more visions, this time seeing the teen boy in distress as a man says he’s a special child. Scully winds up unconscious on the floor of the office again.

CSM tells Reyes that he thinks Scully will forgive him once she sees “the beauty of a planet returned to its savage state.” Reyes reminds him that he’ll be killing humans, and the survivors will hate him. CSM’s like, “What else is new?” More driving and voicing over from Mulder as Reyes tells CSM that Scully and William have a bond beyond science. CSM thinks Scully’s unaware of it – only he and Reyes know.

More driving and voicing over. We get it! Mulder wants the truth! CSM tells Reyes he’s worried about William. Reyes thinks he’s in love with Scully. CSM says he worries for her; Mulder always protected her, but now he’s forced CSM’s hand. Reyes asks what will happen if Scully finds William first. CSM says they won’t let that happen.

Mulder reaches CSM’s gigantic house and runs around for a while with his gun drawn. When he finally finds people, they’re not CSM and Reyes. They’re Erika Price and a guy known only as Mr. Y. Skinner goes to the X-Files office looking for Scully, who’s no longer there. She’s also left her phone behind, so she’s out of contact.

Skinner gets in his car to go searching for her and is surprised by Reyes and her gun. As Scully drives somewhere, looking like she’s seconds from causing an accident, Skinner turns the tables on Reyes and holds her at gunpoint instead. Then CSM joins them, asking if he can smoke in the car. Meanwhile, Scully predictably crashes her car.

Price and Mr. Y claim they don’t know where CSM is, though he was at the house not long ago. They were part of the Syndicate, but they’re not co-conspirators. Price says that CSM wants to exterminate humanity. CSM tells Skinner that the new human religion is faith in technology, while a simple pathogen could destroy everyone.

Price and Mr. Y tell Mulder that aliens aren’t a threat anymore – they don’t want to come to a dying planet. CSM is going to release an alien pathogen to wipe everyone out. Mulder needs to kill him, or he’ll never see William again. CSM tries to make a deal with Skinner: Bring William to CSM, and Skinner will get immunity from the pathogen. Mulder asks why CSM wants William. As in Scully’s vision, Mr. Y says he’s a special child.

They tell Mulder that years ago, aliens came to study humans and were going to work with the Syndicate. CSM was going to be in charge. Of course, that went badly, and everyone realized he was a bad leader. CSM puts a different spin on it, telling Skinner that he protected humanity as long as he could. He used aliens as test subjects to try to protect humans from the pathogen. I guess the moon landing was a way of making humans look heroic.

CSM says this is “the fourth turning,” the end stages of civilization: “The only truth left is to survive it.” Scully and William have immunity and will survive along with some elites. Mr. Y and Price urge Mulder to kill CSM before he can wipe out humanity. He won’t be expecting Mulder to do the deed. Mulder wants more information, like what Price and Mr. Y want. They plan to colonize space and build habitable structures. Mulder doesn’t believe them – they want a war, and they want to use Mulder to start it.

Mr. Y offers to take Mulder and William along to the safety of space, but Mulder would rather go with Scully’s plan to save everyone. CSM thinks his conversation with Skinner is over, so Reyes gets out of the car, but Skinner has more to discuss. Mulder heads back to D.C., calling Skinner along the way, but he’s still talking to CSM. Skinner wants to know why he’s supposed to betray Mulder and Skinner to get William. This means turning his back on humanity.

Scully’s back in the hospital, thanks to two FBI agents who found her after the car crash and took her to the place listed on the medical bracelet she was still wearing. They’re Miller and Einstein. Joyet calls Mulder to let him know that Scully had a setback but is back in her care. As Miller and Einstein leave the hospital, they pass by a man who goes to Scully’s room and tries to smother her with a pillow. He switches to strangulation when that fails. Mulder arrives in time to save her.

Sigh, more voicing over. Conspiracies! William! Girlfriend in the hospital! Mulder is so conflicted! He tells Scully he recognized her attacker, whom Scully says couldn’t have been sent by CSM, since CSM wouldn’t try to hurt her. She thinks her visions are coming from William, somehow. He’s trying to guide both Mulder and Scully. CSM can’t act without William, which the teen knows. CSM won’t find William, but William will find Mulder and Scully. They just have to keep doing their work and wait.

Skinner arrives, and Mulder instantly gets suspicious about where he’s been, even before he smells the smoke on Skinner’s clothes. The two men start scuffling and have to be broken up. Mulder asks whose side Skinner is on. Skinner just tells him to leave it alone. In a flashback, we see the rest of Skinner and CSM’s conversation. CSM has an offer for Scully, which Skinner says she’ll never take. CSM thinks she will, since she’ll have to choose between Mulder and William.

CSM continues that he and “Dana” have a history that goes back 17 years, to “En Ami.” As we know, he took her to a house while she was asleep/unconscious, and CSM claims he impregnated her at the time. According to CSM, he, not Mulder, is William’s father. Elsewhere, William – now known as Jackson – is hearing distorted voices, possibly from the same visions Scully was having.

Thoughts: Price is played by Barbara Hershey.

Spender has Mulder’s phone number – do you think they’ve kept in touch over the years? They probably have a lot to talk about.

Way to keep an eye on the woman with abnormal brain activity and a risk for seizures, Skinner. Mulder’s justified in being mad.

Miller and Einstein don’t appear to know Scully, which I guess means both “My Struggle II” and “Babylon” didn’t happen. To bad I still had to recap “Babylon.”

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