March 17, 2018

The X-Files 7.7, Orison: Don’t Look Any Further

Posted in TV tagged at 1:18 pm by Jenn

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the bathtub…

Summary: A chaplain named Orison is talking to a group of prisoners about God’s love and how it can change them if they want it to. One of the prisoners is Donnie Pfaster, but he doesn’t seemed moved by the sermon. The other prisoners do, stomping their feet and chanting, “Glory! Amen!” with Orison as he sprinkles holy water on them.

They take their religious awakening with them when they go to work in a prison garment shop. A guard tells Donnie that he doesn’t think God could love a murderer. Donnie keeps his eyes on a prisoner’s feet as he uses the step pedal on a sewing machine. The prisoner suddenly cries out, having cut off his fingers. The other prisoners and guards gather around him, allowing Donnie the distraction he needs to walk out of the workroom.

Scully is woken by wind blowing through her open bedroom window. She checks her alarm clock, which reads 6:66. The power goes out, and when it comes back on, the clock reads 6:06. She then goes to Marion, Illinois, with Mulder to investigate Donnie’s escape from prison. The authorities in Illinois would like the agents’ help understanding Donnie, since they were the ones who captured him. The Marshal assigned to the case, Daddo, knows that the agents have experience with supernatural cases, but Scully tells him there’s nothing supernatural about Donnie – he’s just evil.

She goes to the room where Orison met with the prisoners and hears singing through a ceiling vent. Mulder finds her there and encourages her to come home, since her last encounter with Donnie did such a number on her. Scully feels like she doesn’t have a choice – she needs to find Donnie before he hurts anyone else.

Mulder tells Scully that Donnie is the third prisoner to escape a maximum-security facility in the area in the past few months. He left at exactly 6:06 that morning. Scully reacts to the time but asks what makes this case supernatural. Mulder says it’s strange enough that no one noticed Donnie leaving.

The agents question the man who cut himself in the garment shop. His hands are intact, and he doesn’t understand how, since he and everyone else in the room saw that his fingers had been cut off. The prisoner can’t explain it; he just says that God works in mysterious ways. Mulder raises his hand, and the prisoner says, “Glory. Amen,” tapping his foot.

Mulder thinks this is indicative of post-hypnotic suggestion. Scully doubts that Donnie used a “Vegas lounge act” to hypnotize everyone in the room so he could escape without them seeing. For starters, where did he learn that technique? Mulder thinks they should look at Orison, who served as chaplain at all the prisons people have escaped from. Scully hears music through the vent again and recognizes the song, “Don’t Look Any Further,” from her childhood.

Donnie has made it to Harrisburg, Illinois, where he goes to a diner and watches a waitress’ hands as she flips through order tickets. A woman sits down with him and he offers to give her a manicure. The waitress tries to kick her out, since she’s just looking for money and/or drugs. Orison arrives and chastises Donnie for wasting his freedom like this.

Daddo and some other Marshals pull up outside, and Donnie accuses Orison of calling them. Orison says it’s “within his power” to help them escape. He swings his car keys and says, “Glory. Amen.” The waitress suddenly screams – she’s being attacked by another patron. She swings a coffee pot at him in defense. The Marshals are distracted long enough to allow Donnie and Orison to flee.

Somehow, Donnie makes it to Orison’s car with the woman from the diner, but Orison is left on his own. Donnie runs him down with the car as he drives off. When Mulder and Scully arrive sometime later, Daddo tells them that the tip about Donnie being there must have been wrong, but Orison was there. Scully hears “Don’t Look Any Further” on the diner’s radio and asks the waitress to turn it up.

The agents then go to the hospital where Orison is being treated. He tells Scully not to worry about the escaped prisoners – “God has them.” She says the case has nothing to do with her, but Orison disagrees. He knows that Scully has faith in God, and she hears Him calling to her, but she isn’t sure what to do. Scully figures he’s just making educated guesses because he noticed her cross necklace.

Orison continues that Scully is “longing but afraid, waiting for a sign.” There are signs everywhere, and there are reasons for everything. He calls her Scout, which makes her freeze. Orison says that the devil is always waiting “for but an instant.” But “the devil’s instant is our eternity.”

Mulder joins them and asks how Orison does his hypnosis trick. He says he’s just a messenger. Mulder shows him a picture of the woman from the diner, dead in a blood-filled bathtub, Donnie’s signature crime scene. He thinks Orison freed Donnie so he could kill him. He’s discovered that Orison was convicted of murder in 1959 and spent 22 years in solitary confinement. Orison says that God spoke to him and told him to “look after” the escaped prisoners. Mulder asks if God mentioned Donnie’s plans during that conversation.

Mulder wants to prove that Orison’s lying, but Scully doesn’t think he can prove that someone isn’t being directed by God. Mulder argues that God is just a spectator who “reads the box scores.” He doesn’t think God would tell someone to commit murder. Scully argues that the escaped prisoners might not be dead. She thinks Orison truly believes that God is working through him. Mulder asks if Scully thinks God has ever spoken to her. She’s offended but admits that she finds it meaningful that she keeps hearing the same song.

Scully reveals that when she was 13, she was listening to “Don’t Look Any Further” when her mother told her that her Sunday School teacher had been murdered. It was the first time she realized there’s true evil in the world. Orison called her Scout, which is what her Sunday School teacher called her. Scully mentions the time on the clock as well. Mulder thinks he can prove that God isn’t really trying to say something to her.

Donnie listens to a news report about himself on the radio, then looks through the supplies in Orison’s car. He’s left his driver’s license and house key, so Donnie now has a place to hide out. Back at the hospital, Mulder shows Scully a scan of Orison’s brain, which shows swelling – not from being hit by a car, but because Orison did some sort of procedure to himself to increase blood flow. Mulder thinks this is how Orison developed his powers of hypnosis, allowing him to alter reality.

Scully asks why he would do this. Mulder thinks that Orison believes that Donnie should have died instead of being sentenced to life in prison. Maybe he thought he was “opening the doors of perception,” but instead he accidentally opened the gates of Hell. At the hospital, Orison lies awake in bed under the watchful eye of a Marshal. “Glory. Amen,” Orison says a few times, slowing his heart rate. He makes the Marshal freeze, allowing Orison to steal his gun.

Donnie holes up in Orison’s apartment and orders up an escort. He likes her manicure and red hair. He does his typical thing with her, having her get in the bath and then offering her hair products. She thinks he’s being weird and decides to leave. As she’s getting out of the tub, he realizes her hair is a wig and accuses her and “they” of lying to him. Donnie hits her, but she hits back, knocking him out.

In the morning, the agents go to Orison’s room and find the Marshal still in his hypnotic state. Orison is long gone, and the Marshal has no idea what happened. Scully finds a note Orison left: “Don’t look any further.” Mulder guesses that he overheard them talking in the hallway the day before, but Scully’s sure that she didn’t mention the name of the song she’s been hearing.

Donnie regains consciousness to find Orison in the bathroom with him, ready to take him “home.” Orison recites scripture about the wicked being punished. He digs a grave and tells Donnie to pray for God’s love. If he believes, he’ll repent, and God will show him the way to Heaven. Donnie cries, and Orison urges him to beg forgiveness for his crimes. He asks if Donnie’s crying for his sins or for himself. Donnie says he’s crying for Orison because Orison can’t kill him. He turns into a demon.

Orison’s body is found the next day, buried in the grave he was digging for Donnie. Scully tells Mulder he was right about her looking for connections that weren’t there. Orison was just a murderer who wanted to pass judgment on other killers. Mulder thinks the case is over and the Marshals should take over. Scully shouldn’t look any further.

Of course, it’s not that simple (and there are still ten minutes left in the episode). Donnie goes to D.C. and lets himself into Scully’s apartment, finding her Bible by her bed. He puts it in a drawer. Scully comes home and gets ready to take a shower, but her clock is reading 6:66 again. The power goes out, and Scully quickly realizes that she’s not alone in the apartment.

The escort has called the proper authorities, and someone leaves a message on Mulder’s machine letting him know that she had a run-in with Donnie. He wonders if it’s significant that Donnie was upset that the escort wasn’t a natural redhead. Meanwhile, Donnie wrestles with his favorite redhead, trying to choke her. She gouges his eyes and grabs her gun, but he throws her into a mirror and she drops it. She hits him with anything she can reach, fighting relentlessly, and finally gets away.

Donnie chases her and stops her from calling for help. Scully tells him to go back to Hell as he overpowers her. He asks who does her nails. She tells him he’s only alive because they didn’t kill him when they had the chance. Donnie calls her the one who got away. She’s all he thinks about. Scully warns that, since she’s a federal agent, he’ll get the death penalty if he kills her. Donnie responds that he’s going to run her a bath.

Mulder’s getting ready for bed at his own place, setting his alarm for the morning. “Don’t Look Any Further” comes on the radio. Donnie drags a bound and gagged Scully to her hallway and leaves her tied up while he runs the bath. She can hear her phone ringing, but she can’t answer it. Donnie turns on the radio; of course, “Don’t Look Any Further” plays.

Mulder gives up on trying to call as Scully checks out her surroundings to weigh her options. She’s able to roll through her apartment while Donnie gathers supplies, including candles and a pair of scissors. Scully manages to get her bound wrists in front of her, but before she can do anything else, Mulder arrives. Scully joins them as lights pop and a bullet casing falls to the floor. Mulder was ready to arrest Donnie, but Scully has shot him.

Once the police have come to secure the crime scene, Scully finds her Bible in a drawer. Mulder tells her not to judge herself for shooting Donnie. After all, the Bible permits vengeance. Scully says the law doesn’t. Mulder thinks she made the right decision; Donnie would have kept killing if she hadn’t stopped him. Scully has no doubt that Donnie was evil, but she’s not sure about who was at work in her. What made her pull the trigger – God…or something else?

Thoughts: This episode feels like they combined “Irresistible” and “Pusher.” It also feels unnecessary.

Speaking of “Pusher” (and “Kitsunegari”), didn’t the agents learn anything about leaving someone alone with a supernatural persuader? As soon as they figured out what was going on with Orison, they should have put the Marshal outside his room instead of in it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Scully either needs a security alarm or a building with a doorman. (At least she’s learned this by season 11.)


March 10, 2018

The X-Files 7.6, The Goldberg Variation: Not-So-Dumb Luck

Posted in TV tagged at 1:24 pm by Jenn

Amazingly, Mulder doesn’t make any pirate jokes

Summary: Some shady-looking men are playing poker in Chicago, and one manages to get four kings. A not-nearly-as-shady-looking-as-the-others man asks for five cards, even though four is the limit. The man with four kings approves the request, since he figures it won’t make a difference. Henry, the man who drew five, sees 4 Kings’ $4,000 bet and raises him $4,000 more.

4 Kings decides to go up to $15,000, but Henry says there’s no point; the money on the table is all he needs. Henry clearly isn’t very experienced with poker, since he asks if this is when they show their cards. 4 Kings proudly puts down his cards, but Henry beats him with a straight flush. He chalks it up to beginner’s luck.

Henry starts gathering his winnings, but 4 Kings wants the chance to win back his money. Henry points out that he just won more than $100,000. He says again that that’s all he needs. Some thugs accompany him out, but take him up to the roof instead of down to the street. They throw him off the roof, and he falls through an open sidewalk grate…then climbs out, unharmed, and walks away.

Scully comes to Chicago the next day, having been instructed by Mulder to meet him on the street Henry walked away from the night before. She calls him (“Mulder, it’s me”) since he’s not there. He somehow arranged to make an entrance by rising out of the grate Henry fell through. He tells her that the building where the poker game took place leases space to a mobster named Joey Cutrona (AKA 4 Kings). Two FBI agents were parked outside, surveilling the building, when they saw Henry’s descent and departure.

Mulder takes Scully underground as he tells her that Henry hasn’t been ID’d. No one’s searched underground since Henry didn’t commit a crime. Mulder thinks he has some sort of genetic predisposition to heal rapidly. “So basically, what if we were looking for Wile E. Coyote?” Scully asks. She notes that a British parachuter fell the same distance as Henry and only broke a rib. There are completely normal reasons a man could plummet that far and walk away. Maybe he just got really lucky. “That’s your big scientific explanation?” Mulder asks.

Scully finds a laundry cart with broken wheels and guesses that Henry fell in it. Since it’s full of soft sheets, it could have easily broken his fall. The agents find a glass eye in the cart and realize they have something to go on to find their mystery man. After making some calls and learning that Henry made an appointment that morning to get a new eye, they go to his building and buzz apartment 313.

Henry doesn’t answer the buzzer, but a woman is leaving the building, so Mulder and Scully are able to get in. Mulder says he’s feeling lucky. A woman finds them in the hallway and asks them to come help her with a plumbing emergency. The agents aren’t plumbers, obviously, but the woman, Maggie, thinks that Mulder can at least turn the proper valve to shut off the water. Mulder knows Henry is the building super, so he wonders why Maggie didn’t call him. Maggie says he’s not dependable.

Maggie’s son Richie comes in and tells Mulder he’s turning the valve the wrong way. Maggie sends him back to bed, since he’s sick. Mulder keeps turning the valve, which breaks off, spraying water everywhere. Then the wooden floor gives out and Mulder falls through to the apartment building. He assures Scully that he’s okay – “my a$& broke the fall.” Also, Mulder may be lucky after all, since Henry’s in the apartment below.

The agents join him in his home and give him back his eye. He admits that he was hiding out in a vacant apartment to avoid the FBI. He thinks they’re there to compel him to testify against Cutrona, then put him in witness protection. The agents are more interested in how he survived the fall. Henry says he just got lucky. He’s mostly upset that he didn’t get to keep his winnings. He insists that he didn’t cheat.

Mulder sees a bunch of gadgets around the apartment and realizes that Henry has a Rube Goldberg device. He sets it off, watching it like a kid in a candy store. The sequence ends with a little figure being hanged, and Mulder asks what it means. Henry says it doesn’t mean anything; he just likes to build them. Mulder says it’s about cause and effect.

Henry’s ready to end the conversation, telling the agents he’d rather take his chances with Cutrona than go into protection. Scully’s fine with leaving the case in the hands of the local office and going home. Luck doesn’t constitute an X-File. Mulder disagrees – “maybe his luck is the X-File.” The elevator they’re waiting for is taking too long, so they decide to take the stairs. As they leave, one of Cutrona’s thugs comes out of the elevator.

Mulder realizes he lost his car keys when he fell, so he and Scully have to go back inside. The thug tries to kill Henry, who hides. When the agents arrive, they find the thug dead, hanging upside down from the ceiling fan, suspended by his own shoelace.

Henry has fled the building, and the agents figure that, with his lack of muscles and depth perception, he couldn’t have killed the thug. Plus, it looks like he had a heart attack. Mulder thinks this is another case of cause and effect. The thug kicked down the door but got startled by the buzzer Mulder rang to be let back into the building. His bullet went wild and hit a lamp, which in turn knocked over an ironing board. The thug tripped over the board and tumbled end over end, getting his shoelace caught in the ceiling fan.

Scully laughs, but Mulder’s serious about the possibility that seemingly unrelated events could form a chain reaction that just led to dumb luck for Henry. In fact, he thinks Henry has tapped into that luck. Richie comes in, and Scully escorts him back to his apartment so he doesn’t have to look at the thug’s dead body. She admires the sports stuff in Richie’s room, telling him she likes baseball.

Richie has his own Rube Goldberg device, made by Henry. It launches a little ball in a little basket. Richie says Henry made it while Richie was in the hospital. He told Richie that everything happens for a reason; we just can’t always see why or how. Scully has already figured out that Richie has a liver disorder, which is why his mom wants him to stay in bed. She asks if he knows where Henry might have gone. Richie says Henry hasn’t gone out much since Richie got sick.

Scully goes back to Mulder and asks why a man who’s supernaturally lucky would work as a building super. He could go play the lottery and win millions of dollars. Henry eavesdrops from a crawlspace, then goes to Richie’s room to check on him. Richie asks why the FBI is looking for him. Henry downplays the whole thing, then says he needs to go do something he’s been putting off.

Since Henry doesn’t make enough to file taxes, and he doesn’t have any insurance or bank accounts, the agents have no way to look into his past. Scully thinks he’s intentionally staying off the radar. Mulder has found a newspaper article pinpointing the last time Henry was known to the public: He was the only survivor in a plane crash (which is how he lost his eye). He was bumped from three flights before getting seat 13 on flight 7.

Mulder wonders if that incident led to a new life. Scully thinks it’s more likely that Henry changed his life because of survivor’s guilt. Why would he go off the radar because he was lucky? Mulder wants to know why he would suddenly resurface and try to use his luck to his advantage.

Henry goes to a corner store to get a lottery ticket. The pot is up to $28 million, but Henry says he doesn’t need that much. “How much do you need, Rockefeller?” the cashier asks dryly. Henry says $100,000, so the cashier gives him a dollar scratcher. As he scratches, a news report comes on the store’s TV stating that the police are looking for Henry so they can question him about the thug’s death.

Henry’s scratcher yields him $100,000, but he doesn’t want to wait and get a check for four figures every month for years. He throws away the scratcher, which another customer plucks out of the trash. Henry warns him not to take it, but the guy doesn’t listen. He runs out to the street to celebrate and is promptly hit by a truck with a four-leaf clover on its side.

As the man is taken away by paramedics, Scully confirms with the cashier that Henry was the original winner, then left once he was sure the scratcher-stealer was okay. The cashier claims that the stealer gave him the ticket while they were waiting for the ambulance. Scully remarks to Mulder that, for such a lucky guy, a lot of unlucky things happen around Henry. Mulder thinks that’s part of the deal.

Scully asks why Henry would come buy a lottery ticket. Mulder remembers that she said just an hour ago that it would make sense for him to do that. He figures out that Henry overheard them, then easily finds his hiding spot in the crawlspace. It leads all over the building, so the agents will have to search every floor. Another thug arrives just as they leave.

Henry’s in another abandoned apartment, whittling something. Mulder picks the lock and lets himself in, then finds Henry in the crawlspace. As he calls Scully, Henry spots Thug #2 outside the door. He comes in and fires a bullet at Henry, which ricochets and grazes Mulder. The bullet then pinballs off of a few things in the room before boomeranging back at the shooter. Scully arrives in time to see Henry pull out his whittling knife, the thing the bullet first ricocheted off.

Thug #2 is taken to the hospital, where Mulder gets bandaged up. He wants to test his theory about Henry with a deck of cards. No matter which card Mulder draws, Henry draws a higher one. Mulder sums it up: “He’s incapable of losing.” But Henry hates being the luckiest man in the universe. There’s some sort of balance thing going on, which means everyone else around him is unlucky. Henry’s tried to contain the damage by sticking close to home, but now he needs money – hence the poker game and the lottery. Scully guesses that the money is for Richie.

Henry confirms that Richie has hepatitis, and complications have led to him needing a liver transplant. He has a rare blood type, B negative, and other factors that make it hard to find a donor. There’s an experimental treatment program in England, and Henry can get him in with $100,000. Scully tells Henry he really needs protection from Cutrona and his thugs. Henry draws a king and says the thugs need protection from him.

As Henry leaves, Scully chastises Mulder for feeding into Henry’s delusions instead of convincing him to submit to their protection. Mulder disagrees – Henry’s doing a great job taking care of himself. Scully thinks he’s placing too much faith in luck. In fact, he’s betting Henry’s life on it. Plus, won’t his luck eventually end? That end may come now, as Cutrona arrives at the hospital to see Thug #2 and spots Henry leaving.

Scully draws an ace from Mulder’s deck of cards and scoffs that Henry’s the luckiest man in the world, since she just beat him. Mulder gets an idea and runs outside, where another of Cutrona’s thugs is approaching Henry with a knife. Henry tries to flee and ends up getting hit by a truck (possibly the same truck that hit the scratcher-stealer, which means that driver is having a REALLY bad day).

Back at their building, Maggie finds Richie playing with his Rube Goldberg device and tells him not to believe everything Henry says. She asks if Richie saw him, then stops short. Thanks to his liver problems, Richie’s skin is now yellow. Henry, however, has very minor injuries, and has realized that Scully’s right about his luck possibly running out. He’s agreed to testify against Cutrona.

Cutrona gets the news from Thug #3, who subscribes to Mulder’s theory that Henry’s impervious. They can’t get to Henry, who’s now in protective custody, but Cutrona thinks they can get to someone else. Maggie calls an ambulance for Richie, who asks her to bring his Rube Goldberg device to the hospital. She sends Richie on ahead and goes back to his room, where Thug #3 grabs her.

Mulder and Scully find Henry in Richie’s room at R.I. Childes Pediatric Care, having learned that Maggie’s missing. Henry knows that Cutrona took her to keep him from testifying. He doesn’t want to sit around and wait; he wants to go do something. Mulder reminds Henry that his luck could run out at any time. He adds that, as Henry once told Richie, they may not be able to see why something bad is happening. They need to look at the big picture. Henry ignores him and starts to leave, ripping his sleeve as he puts on his jacket.

Scully tells Mulder that Richie’s condition is poor, and he’ll die if they don’t find a donor in the next few hours. Mulder wonders if everyone who becomes a part of Henry’s life gets caught up in his web of bad luck. Scully says he sounds like they’re caught in a Rube Goldberg device. He wants to look for Maggie, but without any leads, he thinks luck is their only option. He opens a phone book to a random page, but lands on an ad for Muhaymin Daycare. “Let’s call that a dry run,” he says. The next ad is for Grayson’s Laundry Service.

Henry’s at Cutrona’s, offering to refuse to testify if Cutrona lets Maggie go. Cutrona won’t take the deal even when Henry says he doesn’t care what happens to him. Cutrona and Thug #3 take Henry to the basement of their building, where they’re keeping Maggie. There’s a Grayson’s cart nearby. Thug #3 shoves Henry under an open ladder (bad luck!), causing him to accidentally knock an iron into a mop bucket. Thug #3 attaches Henry to a cable so Cutrona can raise him in the air.

Maggie’s yelling at the men, so Cutrona tells Thug #3 to shut her up. But when Thug #3 goes to open the cage door keeping Maggie contained, the iron in the bucket short-circuits, electrifying the metal cage. When he falls backward, he knocks into Henry, who falls off the hook he’s attached to. The hook then swings down right at Cutrona’s face. The lights all over the city flicker, and some of the bulbs in the sign at R.I. Childes go out. Scully gasps when she sees that they now spell “RICHIE.”

Henry and Maggie are unharmed, and find Cutrona dead in a Grayson’s cart. Mulder and some FBI agents arrive moments later. All of them see from Cutrona’s medical alert bracelet that someone close to Henry has finally gotten some good luck: Cutrona’s blood type is B negative.

Everyone gathers at the hospital, where Scully admits that maybe things do happen for a reason, whether or not we can see it. Mulder tells Henry that maybe his luck is changing. Henry goes in to see Richie, setting off the Rube Goldberg device, which again works perfectly.

Thoughts: Weems is played by Willie Garson, who was also Roach in “The Walk.” Richie is played by Shia LaBeouf.

Mulder has a lot of fun moments in this episode, but my favorite is when he asks the crime-scene photographer, who’s taking pictures of the thug hanging from the ceiling fan, “So, you get many of these?”

Welcome back, plain-white-T-shirt Mulder. I missed you.

My only regrets about this episode: 1) We don’t find out if the cashier who wound up with the scratcher also had back luck, and 2) the daycare didn’t come into play.

March 3, 2018

The X-Files 7.5, Rush: No, We Don’t Need Another Reboot of “The Flash”

Posted in TV tagged at 4:03 pm by Jenn

Yep, that’ll give you a concussion, all right

Summary: A teenage boy goes to some woods in Pittsfield, Virginia, to meet up with a guy named Max. Max’s girlfriend, Chastity, doesn’t think the boy, Tony, is ready for whatever’s about to happen. Tony insists he is and promises not to tell anyone what he’s going to see, even if someone dies. A sheriff’s deputy arrives and Max and Chastity take off. Tony pretends he was just going for a walk, but he’s on private property, so he’s in trouble for trespassing. The deputy calls dispatch, then seems to disappear. He turns up in his car, his face bloody and caved in.

Scully goes to St. Jude’s Memorial Hospital the next day and meets up with Mulder. Tony has been accused of beating the deputy to death, but he claims the real killer was someone who happened to be invisible. Tony’s a good kid and doesn’t seem like the type to commit murder. Scully examines the deputy’s body, which has sustained more damage than fits with the cause of death, a single blow from his own flashlight. Not only is his face destroyed, but he was hit so hard that his glasses are now embedded in the back of his skull.

Scully allows that Tony could have caused this kind of damage if he were high on something like PCP. Mulder tells her that Tony’s blood tests came back clean, but Scully thinks an adrenaline rush could do the trick. The sheriff arrives and asks the agents to wrap things up quickly. Tony’s their guy, so they don’t need to investigate. Mulder asks to speak to Tony; at the very least, he might be able to find out why Tony killed the deputy.

The agents go to the sheriff’s station, passing Chastity as she’s leaving. Tony’s decided he’s done talking to the authorities. Mulder plays good cop, saying he knows Tony must have been born in his small town, so he was just taking a walk, like he said. Tony’s smart enough to know that the agents are just trying to get him to incriminate himself. Mulder asks for details – how long between when the deputy screamed and when Tony found him. Tony says only 10 or 15 seconds passed. He didn’t see or hear anyone else around.

After the interview is over, Mulder asks Scully why Tony wouldn’t come up with a more plausible story if he’s really innocent. Scully thinks he is innocent, but he saw what happened. Mulder suspects some sort of paranormal force, like a poltergeist. Scully suggests that they question some people who are still in their dimension – Tony’s friends.

Max is late for school, and there’s only one minute left in the class period during which he was supposed to take a midterm. Chastity looks on with interest as the teacher, Mr. Babbitt, tells Max he’d better not fail; he doesn’t care who Max’s father is. Max turns around for a few seconds, then hands in the completed test. He got every answer right.

Mulder and Scully find Chastity, who tells them Tony didn’t kill the deputy. She knows he doesn’t have it in him to murder. Scully suspects that she can provide them with information, but before Chastity can say anything further, Tony interrupts. He tells Chastity she doesn’t have to answer any questions if the agents don’t have a warrant. Mulder sees Max’s last name on his binder and realizes that he’s the sheriff’s son. As Max and Chastity leave, Max tells Scully that she “must have been a Betty back in the day.”

The sheriff calls to tell Scully that the murder weapon has disappeared. The agents return to the station, where Mulder finds some kind of gunk on the floor. Surveillance footage of the evidence room doesn’t show anyone opening the locker where the flashlight was being kept, and there’s no gap in the footage. Without evidence, Tony has to be released. Mulder slows down the footage so that they can see a flash of movement in the room.

Tony goes home, trying to avoid having to tell his mother what happened the night before. She thinks Max and his buddies are involved in the murder. She tells Tony he’s not allowed to see them anymore. Tony objects, since they’re his only friends. Mrs. Reed reminds him that they moved here for a fresh start, and up until now, he was doing great. Tony’s upset that his mother’s never around, since she has to work two jobs.

After Mrs. Reed leaves Tony’s room, Max shows up outside. He takes Tony for a drive and congratulates him for following Chastity’s directions to keep quiet and wait for things to work themselves out. Tony’s not happy with the situation, though; a cop is dead, and they’re in what’s probably a stolen car. Max said “he had to go,” since he was snooping around. Tony tells him to slow down, but Max says he hasn’t seen anything yet. He vanishes, leaving Max alone in the speeding car. But when it crashes, Tony’s outside it, perfectly fine. Max promises to make him “one of us,” but Tony has to follow his rules.

Chuck takes a look at the surveillance footage and is able to tell Mulder and Scully that the image on the screen wasn’t a glitch. It didn’t come from spirit activity, though; they’re not dealing with a ghost. Scully figured, since ghosts don’t leave behind gunk like what Mulder found on the floor. (It contains synthetic polymers.)

Chuck tried to compare the silhouette of the shape on the screen to every object the Library of Congress’ database, but the only thing that came close to matching was a submarine. He did find a shadow on the object, which indicates that it’s something solid, but if it’s solid, it would have to appear for more than a 30th of a second, the length of a frame of the footage. Chuck thinks he might have some luck with a beta-tested generator that can color the black-and-white footage. When he tries it out, Mulder recognizes the colors of the image as Tony’s school colors.

At school, Tony complains to Chastity that everyone’s looking at him like he’s a criminal. He asks what happened with Max and the car, and she tells him he’ll find out. Tony’s not so sure he wants to find out, though. Chastity says it’s too late to go back now. Max joins them and asks if Tony’s trying to move in on his girlfriend. However, when they get to class, he tells everyone staring at Tony to back off.

Mr. Babbitt returns the class’ midterms, and Max objects to the F he received. Mr. Babbitt accuses him of cheating, even though he can’t explain how that would be possible. Max walks out. Tony asks Chastity how he can tell Max he wants out of whatever’s going on. Chastity says he can’t help him – she can’t even get herself out of it.

At lunch, Mr. Babbitt trips over nothing, looking up to see Max standing in front of him. A few seconds later, Mr. Babbitt starts bleeding. With a twitch and a blur, Max makes a table fly over. Mr. Babbitt falls onto it and the table speeds into a wall. After another twitch and another blur, a chair hits Mr. Babbitt in the face.

Mulder and Scully come to check things out, and Mulder decides that Max needs to be questioned about Mr. Babbitt’s murder. Scully reminds him that a roomful of eyewitnesses all said they didn’t see Max do anything. Mulder has looked at Max’s school records, which show that his behavior has gotten worse, but his grades have gone up. Scully blames peer pressure or substance abuse. Mulder blames psychokinesis. A deputy tells them that they’ll have to wait to talk to Max – he collapsed and is on his way to the hospital.

Tony runs into Chastity, who’s upset. She won’t tell him what’s going on, since it’s better if he doesn’t know anything. He follows her to the woods and into a cave, where he finds a space on the ground where it looks like sand has been cleared away from some stone. It’s conveniently illuminated by a beam of sun. When Tony stands in the sort-of spotlight, he starts to spasm.

The agents go see Max, but his father doesn’t want them to question him while he’s supposedly sick. Mulder totes out his theory that Max tapped into some kind of superhuman powers and used them to kill Mr. Babbitt. Instead of calling Mulder crazy, Max just says he’s “whistling Dixie.” Scully looks at Max’s chart and sees that his condition is consistent with extreme exertion. Mulder guesses that Max gets a buzz – a rush, if you will – from his powers.

Max asks what’s stopping him from hurting Mulder, if that’s the case. Mulder thinks his battery’s drained. Max says he’ll just wait until he’s recharged, but Scully says his condition is getting worse. He needs their help, but he’ll have to tell them what’s going on. Mulder gets the sheriff to step outside with him and Scully before he can go off on Max for his bad behavior. They ask to search the family’s house, but the sheriff says no. He doesn’t want to believe that his son might be a murderer.

There are some test results missing from Max’s chart, so the agents head off to track them down. Chastity arrives just as they leave. The agents look at scans of Max’s head, which show that he’s sustained multiple concussions and other injuries. He has the medical history of someone who’s played pro football or crashed racecars for 15 years. Whatever he’s doing, it’s killing him.

A nurse sees on her monitor that Max has a visitor, Chastity, but when she goes to his room, Max is alone. Chastity then returns with a wheelchair to break her boyfriend out of the hospital. Max finds gunk on the soles of Max’s shoes and puts everything together: Somehow, Max has figured out how to move faster than the eye can see. He also has super-strength. Just then, the nurse lets the agents know that Max is gone.

Max and Chastity go to the woods, where Chastity begs her boyfriend to get some help. He doesn’t see why he would; this is the best thing that’s ever happened to him. “I can’t go back to things standing still, and neither can you,” he says. As he goes off alone, Chastity runs into Tony, who now has Max’s super-speed powers. He loves the rush they give him. Chastity tells him she wishes things were different. Tony suggests that they go to the police, but she tells him Max is already out of the hospital, so it’s too late.

The sheriff looks around his son’s bedroom (which, interestingly, has a picture of a UFO in it). Hidden in a drawer, under some clothes, he finds the flashlight used to kill the deputy. He hears a noise and goes downstairs, where the front door appears to close on its own. Max appears, now holding the flashlight, and the sheriff confronts his son for being a murderer. As he moves on Max, something hits him over the head. Max’s super-speed has allowed him to attack without being noticed.

Max tells his father he’s not going to let him push people around anymore, like Babbitt and the deputy did. Max isn’t afraid of him anymore. He moves to hit his father again, but Tony arrives with a gun and puts a stop to the fight. The sheriff is taken to the hospital, but no one knows what actually happened. They found the flashlight on the scene, but not Max or Tony.

Mulder thinks someone intervened in the fight – someone who knows how Max can do what he does. The agents figure it’s Tony, and that the secret lies in the woods. Tony and Chastity are on their way there, and she’s worried that Max will get to the cave. She tells Tony that he was only able to stop Max because he’s slowing down.

As they run for the cave, Tony trips and sends Chastity on ahead of him. When he gets to her, she’s unconscious. Max claims he hit her in self-defense, and that Tony has everything turned around. Max attacks Tony and takes his gun, mocking him for underestimating Max. He tosses the gun aside and starts to confront Tony for betraying him. Chastity picks up the gun, shoots Max, and stops time. She tells Tony she can’t go back, then steps in the path of the bullet. When time restarts, the bullet hits her. By the time the agents arrive, Chastity and Max are both dead.

Tony is taken to the hospital, where Mulder tells Scully that geologists didn’t find anything in the cave that can explain the boys’ supernatural abilities. Scully notes that the two of them both went to the cave but don’t have the boys’ abilities. Mulder thinks they weren’t affected because they’re adults; their chemistry is different from teenagers’.

Scully isn’t sure about that theory, but it’s no crazier than other theories Mulder has come up with. Unfortunately, the cave has been sealed, so they won’t be able to further the investigation. Scully says Tony will be able to put this all behind him and go back to being a normal kid. What she doesn’t know is that Tony can still alter time…and can now make it move backward.

Thoughts: Mrs. Reed is played by Ann Dowd, which reminds me: Everyone needs to watch The Leftovers.

No high school boy in 2000 would call a woman a “Betty” or say “whistling Dixie.” Maybe Max was also a time-traveler?

I’m surprised that Scully didn’t think Max was being abused, since his records showed so many previous injuries. I thought that’s where things were going when he confronted his father for pushing people around, but I guess we’ll never know.

Today’s X-Files recap delayed

Posted in Misc., TV tagged at 2:16 pm by Jenn

Windmageddon knocked out my Internet and TV last night. My Internet is working again, but cable is being stubborn, so I haven’t been able to recap yet. I’ll post “Rush” as soon as I can. Until then, you could fill the time by (re)watching “Rm9sbg93zxjz” from Wednesday, because it was awesome.

Update: Of course, five minutes later, cable’s back. Recap coming this afternoon.

February 24, 2018

The X-Files 7.4, Millennium: Isn’t It Necromantic?

Posted in TV tagged at 1:16 pm by Jenn

Just another normal workday for these platonic co-workers

Summary: A widow is receiving guests at a funeral visitation on December 21st, 1999, in Tallahassee. A man who introduces himself as Johnson chats with the widow, saying he worked with her husband. The funeral director reminds the widow that her husband, Raymond, is at peace now. She laments that he didn’t leave a note.

After the funeral director closes up for the night, Johnson sneaks back in and opens the casket. He recites Revelation 1:18, calling himself the resurrection and the life while he swaps clothes with Raymond. He puts a phone in the casket and closes it back up. Later, Johnson parks by a cemetery and waits until his own phone rings. When it does, he picks up a shovel and gets out of his car.

On December 30th, Scully comes to the cemetery and talks to the funeral director, who insists that the body he buried was dead, despite any rumors that might be circulating. Scully traces those rumors to Mulder, who’s already at the cemetery, checking out the empty grave. He wishes her a belated Merry Christmas before telling her they have a weird case of grave robbery: Instead of someone on the outside breaking in, someone on the inside was trying to get out.

Mulder insists he didn’t spread any rumors. He tells Scully that there are fingerprints and handprints on the coffin and headstone that match Raymond’s. The person who dug up the grave didn’t leave anything behind that could identify him. Scully thinks the grave robber rigged things to make it look like Raymond got out on his own. Mulder sees what looks like blood on the grass. Meanwhile, Johnson continues reciting Scripture as he transports Raymond to Georgia.

The agents go back to D.C. and read up on Raymond, a retired FBI agent who shot himself earlier in the month. There’s no motive for a grave robbery, and Raymond didn’t appear to have any enemies. Mulder declares that this is a case of necromancy. Basically, Raymond has been brought back from the dead because he has some sort of knowledge to impart. The blood on the grass was used to resurrect him. The necromancer may have swapped clothes with Raymond to create a bond between them.

Scully agrees that there are ritualistic elements at play here, but there’s no explanation for why Raymond is involved. Skinner shows the agents a picture of an ouroboros and asks if the circle of blood they saw in the grass looked like it. Mulder says it’s possible. Skinner thinks it could be tied to the Millennium Group, former FBI agents who served as consultants to law enforcement but were later cut off because they were rumored to have a shady agenda. They use the ouroboros as their symbol.

Mulder wonders if they’re dealing with cult that thinks the world is ending. Skinner can’t find out, though, since the Millennium Group has dissolved and can’t be contacted. There have been three other grave desecrations in the past few months. All three bodies belonged to FBI agents who killed themselves. Skinner wants Mulder and Scully to investigate, but they’ll have to be careful – the Millennium Group isn’t respected by the bureau, so they can’t raise any red flags.

Mulder decides that they need to start at Hartwell Psychiatric Hospital in Woodbridge, Virginia. There’s a profiler there who checked himself in for a month-long observation. That profiler is Frank Black, and he doesn’t appreciate Mulder and Scully interrupting the football game he’s watching. He admit that he recognizes the four dead agents, which makes sense, since Scully knows they were all part of the Millennium Group. But Black won’t offer any further assistance. He wants to put his life back together, not get involved in another case.

Knowing that January 1st, 2000, is fast approaching, and knowing that that date is significant to the group, Mulder tries to convince Black that they need his help to stop whatever’s happening. Black just wants to watch football, saying it’s 1st and 18 (which Mulder tells him is wrong). The agents leave, disappointed.

A sheriff’s deputy finds Johnson pulled over by the side of the road, seemingly fixing a flat tire. The deputy notices a horrible smell, which Johnson says must be coming from a dead deer. The deputy’s smart enough to know that something’s happening, so he checks out the back of Johnson’s truck. Johnson starts up with the Scripture again, then sprinkles something on the ground. He stands in protective circle while Zombie Raymond attacks the deputy.

It’s the morning of New Year’s Eve now, and Mulder and Scully are called to the scene of the attack. Mulder knows that the circle of salt Johnson used was intended for “heavy magic.” Scully notes that their necromancer previously used circles of blood. Mulder thinks this circle was for protection. A search teach finds the deputy buried nearby, with bite marks on his neck and more salt nearby. Inside his mouth is a piece of paper with Johnson’s favorite Scripture on it, plus something about holding the keys of death.

A cop who paid attention in Sunday School IDs the Scripture as Revelation 1:18, which Mulder connects to Black’s comment about the football game being at 1st and 18. (Except Mulder says Revelations instead of Revelation, because the writers didn’t pay attention in Sunday School.) Mulder and Scully return to Hartwell, but Black still doesn’t want to help. Scully guesses that Black is worried about losing custody of his daughter. Because of his obsession with conspiracies and the end of the world, he can’t care for his daughter, Jordan. Black admits that he let himself get too involved, and he’s willing to do anything to be okay again.

Mulder tries to convince Black that they can just be three people having a conversation, not working a case. Black gives in and tells the agents that the four dead agents believed that people need to be active in bringing about the end times. They killed themselves specifically to be resurrected and become the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They believed that Armageddon must begin at the turn of the millennium.

Black doesn’t think the necromancer was part of the Millennium Group, but he must hold their beliefs. He must think he’s doing God’s work. He profiles the man, guessing that he lives somewhere with high fences and no-trespassing signs. He probably works at a funeral parlor. He sealed the deputy’s eyes and mouth so he won’t be able to rise from the dead. When the necromancer learns that the deputy’s body has been found, he’ll want to take action. They’ll be able to find him that way.

As the agents leave, Scully’s typically skeptical about the whole situation – after all, January 1st, 2001 is the real start of the new millennium – but she thinks Black’s profile of the necromancer is solid. She heads to the morgue, in hopes that that’s where he’ll turn up, while Mulder goes searching for the necromancer’s possible home. He tells Scully not to let anyone unstaple the deputy’s mouth.

It’s too late, as the coroner is already unsealing the man’s mouth at the morgue. It’s full of salt. As the coroner removes it, she misses a call from Scully. She leaves the room to check the message Scully left telling her not to do anything further with the deputy’s mouth. Unfortunately, the deputy has already risen from the dead to attack the coroner. When Scully arrives, the coroner is dying, the deputy is a zombie, and Johnson is hanging around. Scully shoots the deputy but doesn’t even slow him down. He knocks her gun out of her hands, and it lands at Johnson’s feet.

Sometime later, Skinner arrives at the morgue, thinking Scully has been killed. Instead, the deputy is dead (again) and Scully is fine other than some marks on her neck. Johnson – who Scully guesses is the necromancer – shot the deputy in the head, then took off. She can’t explain what happened, but it’s exactly what Mulder predicted. Unfortunately, she and Skinner haven’t been able to reach him to let him know.

This is because there’s no cell service on Johnson’s property, where Mulder has just arrived. He peeks through Johnson’s trash and finds empty bags of salt. As he climbs over a tall fence, Johnson approaches, singing a hymn to himself. Mulder looks around Johnson’s house for a while, finding zombies in the basement. Johnson arrives in time to lock them all in together. He winces as Mulder starts shooting.

Scully goes back to Hartwell to tell Black that they need his help finding Mulder. Black asks her to continue to respect his reasons for not getting involved in the case. But now Scully says she doesn’t understand his reasons. She knows people are really coming back from the dead, so does Black believe that the Millennium Group can actually bring about Armageddon? Black says he’s spent years trying to figure all this out, but it doesn’t mean he himself believes. Scully asks, if it’s all true, which would win: good or evil? Black doesn’t answer. But as Scully leaves, Frank tells a nurse that he’s checking himself out.

Waiting outside while Mulder faces off with the zombies, Johnson welcomes Black, who he expected to show up. Mulder killed one of the zombies, but Black can take his place, and they’ll still have Four Horsemen. Johnson’s pleased, as he’d always hoped that Black would be the fourth. He’s glad Black changed his mind. Black tells him that he sent Mulder over to put a stop to Johnson’s plans. Johnson reminds Black that he’s lost everything, so why not kill himself and usher in a new life?

Midnight’s approaching, and Black picks up a gun and says he’s ready to become a Horseman. But as Johnson recites Revelation 1:18, Black turns the gun on Johnson. Meanwhile, Skinner calls Scully to tell her that Black took a call at Hartwell from a location in Rice County. The four dead agents also got calls from the same location. Scully knows that’s where she’ll find the necromancer. Black ties Johnson up, then heads to the basement to find Mulder. The remaining zombies are hiding, but Black starts to draw them out and rekill them. Scully arrives in time to finish off the last one.

The agents send Johnson to a psychiatric hospital, at Black’s insistence. Mulder gets his minor injuries fixed up and says goodbye to Black, who leaves with Jordan. Mulder and Scully are together to watch the ball drop at midnight and ring in 2000 together. Despite denying in the past that he gazes at Scully, Mulder totally does exactly that, then kisses her. “The world didn’t end,” he notes. In fact, I’d say a new world is starting for the two of them.

Thoughts: This episode was a crossover with Black’s show, Millennium.

Johnson is played by one of my favorite character actors, Holmes Osborne. The nurse Black tells he’s checking out is played by Octavia Spencer.

I want to know Scully’s scientific explanation for zombies. I bet it’s great.

February 17, 2018

The X-Files 7.3, Hungry: This Gives a Whole New Meaning to the Slogan “Eat Fresh”

Posted in TV tagged at 1:17 pm by Jenn

Someone in the props department had fun

Summary: In Costa Mesa, California, a man pulls up to a Lucky Boy drive-through to order fast food. A voice on the intercom tells him the restaurant is closed, but the driver insists that he be served anyway, since the light on the sign was still on when he arrived. He places his order, and the voice tells him to drive up to the window. No one’s there, but the driver can hear some chewing noises and heavy breathing. When he peeks through the window, someone attacks him.

The next day, everything is business as usual at Lucky Boy, until Mulder and Scully arrive. They announce that they’re investigating a body found in a car in a reservoir. A button from the restaurant was also found in the car. The agents are checking with all the restaurants to see which employee is missing a button. Everyone at this location has one except a guy with the unfortunate name of Derwood Spinks. He points out that he only has to wear the button on Fridays, so he didn’t bring it with him. He certainly didn’t leave it on a dead guy. Scully notes that they never said the body belonged to a man.

Another employee, who has the even more unfortunate name of Rob Roberts, asks the victim’s name, which was Donald Pankow. Rob says he’s not familiar with Pankow. The agents kick everyone out of the restaurant while they search it. Rob sneaks around to the intercom and turns it on so he can eavesdrop on Mulder and Scully outside. They notice that the restaurant’s kitchen looks pretty clean; maybe it was the crime scene and someone cleaned up to cover up evidence.

Mulder mentions that Pankow’s brain was removed, which is a fun little detail. Scully thinks they should look at the employees’ lockers, but Mulder suspects that Pankow’s brain was eaten. It’s not completely unheard of; there are tribes in other countries that consider brains a delicacy. Scully reminds him that they’re in Orange County. He doesn’t think there was anything fetishistic about this murder. Someone just poked a hole in Pankow’s head and sucked out his brain. Mulder finds blood and possible brain matter, though Scully IDs it as ground beef.

Rob goes home and tries to finish washing blood out of a shirt he’s been soaking in the bathtub. It won’t come out, so he decides to throw it away. Mulder comes by and remarks on how clean the apartment is. He knows Rob stayed late at work the night before and volunteered to close. Bloody water starts leaking out of Rob’s garbage bag, but Mulder doesn’t notice.

He asks about the tainted meat Rob threw out after a fridge died on Friday. Rob says he threw it in a Dumpster, but it’s not there, which Mulder finds strange. He spots blood on Rob’s face, and Rob says he bit his lip. He tells Mulder he hopes they catch the killer. Mulder says he already has a pretty good idea who did it.

As soon as Mulder leaves, Rob rushes to through the trash bag in a garbage truck. He notices blood on his fingers and sucks it off. Then he sees that someone parked across the street is watching him. The guy in the car thinks Rob is staring and tells him to go away. Inside, a counselor named Mindy Rinehart leaves a message on Rob’s machine asking him to meet with her at Lucky Boy and its insurance provider’s insistence. Rob ignores her, goes to his bathroom, and pulls down his top teeth.

Later that night, Rob eats something called Slim Chew and watches a video of a motivational speaker who wants his audience to know how he learned to control his appetite. The man in the car is still parked outside, keeping an eye on Rob. Rob comes out, hisses, and attacks the man.

The next morning, Spinks wakes Rob up after picking his lock. He admits that he spent a few years in prison for attempted murder. Spinks knows that Rob is the killer; he found a bottle of Rob’s diet pills with blood on the lid. He’ll stay quiet if Rob gives him his TV, VCR, and whatever’s in his bank account. It’ll at least give Rob a head start on getting out of town.

Rob’s neighbor comes by and asks if Rob saw the man who was parked outside the building the night before. He’s gone now, of course, but the neighbor wants Rob to keep an eye out for him. Spinks tells Rob he’ll be in touch about where Rob should drop off his stuff. Spinks will hold on to the diet pills until then.

As Rob leaves his building, Mulder meets him outside and mentions seeing Spinks in the neighborhood. He reveals that Spinks is the main suspect in Pankow’s murder, but not Mulder’s main suspect. He thinks the killer is compulsive – he just can’t stop himself from killing. He asks again about the meat in the Dumpster; it was padlocked, so Mulder wants the key. Rob says Lucky Boy and a trucking company have it. Mulder won’t tell him why he’s asking about the Dumpster.

Rob goes to see Rinehart, who wants to head off any problems the work investigation might bring up for him. She asks him about any recent insomnia or nightmares. Rob’s stomach is growling, but Rinehart doesn’t seem to hear it. As she continues asking questions about Rob’s mental and psychological state, he struggles to focus. Finally, he asks what kind of a monster would kill Pankow the way he was killed. Rinehart says she doesn’t believe in monsters. She thinks people act out because of fear or weakness, but deep down, everyone wants to be good.

Mulder calls during the session, asking questions that Rinehart can’t answer because of confidentiality. Rob decides it’s a good time to leave. He heads to work, imagining that burger patties look like brains. Spinks comes by for a paycheck and reminds Rob that they’re meeting up later. Spinks has either been fired or has quit, and he leaves his co-workers with the parting gift of the knowledge that he used to dip his “boys” in the coleslaw.

Knowing that Spinks is going to a bar, Rob sneaks into his house and steals back his diet pills. Spinks can tell there was a break-in when he gets back, and he grabs a baseball bat to confront the intruder. He comes across the diet pills, which Rob dropped while trying to flee, and announces that their deal is off. Hiding in a closet, Rob starts to remove his body parts, so when Spinks finally finds him, he’s a bald, eyeless, earless monster.

Rob goes back to see Rinehart so they can finish their session. He admits that he thinks he needs help. He gets hungry and has compulsions to eat. He tries to put them off, but eventually his hunger gets too bad to ignore. Rinehart thinks he has bulimia. Rob says he feels like he’s not a good person.

Rinehart has Rob look in a mirror and tell her whether he sees a bad person. She tells him to keep looking until he sees the good man she sees. As she turns away, Rob’s ear falls off, and he hurries to put it back on before Rinehart notices. She advises him to go to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. He tells her he’s really trying to do the right thing.

Rob’s stomach growls as he heads home with his bottle of diet pills. His neighbor says that Mulder came by, so she told him about the man in the car. Mulder’s still there, along with Scully; they’re looking into Spinks’ disappearance. Rob says he must have left town. Mulder thinks whatever killed Pankow got Spinks, too. They found the tip of a shark-like tooth in the hole in Pankow’s skull, so Mulder thinks the killer is some kind of genetic freak – a monster. Rob says there’s no such thing.

Mulder continues that this monster would have a “biological imperative” to eat. It probably consumed the meat Rob threw away. It tries not to feed on humans, knowing it could get caught, but it has to satisfy its hunger any way it can. Rob laughs off the conversation as “good cop, insane cop.” He asks why Mulder’s telling him all this. Mulder says the thinks Rob knows why. As he and Scully leave, he tells Rob to watch out for the monster.

Rob goes to the Overeaters Anonymous meeting, trying to ignore his growling stomach. His neighbor is also there and encourages him to introduce himself and share with the group. Rob announces that he has an eating disorder marked by cravings. He’s had them his whole life, but over the past month, they’ve become too strong to resist. He loves the taste of meat, and goes into a description of his love that makes everyone want a burger. He looks through a man’s skull and sees his brain inside.

Rob and his neighbor, Sylvia, head home together, talking about how she bounced on the hood of her husband’s car after he said she was too heavy to ride in it. Maybe Rob should eat that guy’s brain. He tries to go to his apartment alone, but his hunger gets the better of him, and he heads to Sylvia’s door, taking out his top teeth.

The next morning, a garbage truck unknowingly takes away Sylvia’s body, and Rob heads out to get rid of the murder weapon, Spinks’ baseball bat. After a moment, he comes back in and uses it to destroy his apartment. He yells for a neighbor to call the police. When Mulder arrives, getting his fingerprints all over the bat, Rob tells him and Scully that Spinks was there. He lies that he caught Spinks cleaning up blood at the Dumpster.

Mulder shows a picture of the man from the car. He’s a PI Sylvia’s ex-husband hired to spy on her. (Wow, Rob really should eat the ex’s brain.) Rob says he didn’t see the guy, so Mulder decides to talk to Sylvia again. He assures Rob that it won’t be long before they get everything wrapped up.

Rob starts packing to flee town, but he’s interrupted when Rinehart pays a house call. He tells her he’s going to a friend’s house. He quit his job, so Rinehart doesn’t have to talk to him anymore. She asks if he went to the meeting, and he tells her it was a waste of his time. He takes a page from Mulder’s book, saying that maybe the other members have a “biological imperative” to eat. Maybe he does, too, and you can’t fight biology.

Rinehart thinks Rob is tired of feeling guilty. He confirms this – he’s tired of pretending he’s something he’s not. Rinehart has guessed that he’s the killer, and she asks him to tell her why he did it. She asks him to turn himself in to the FBI. She just want him to get the help he needs. Hearing sirens approaching, Rob reminds Rinehart that she said she doesn’t believe in monsters. He starts to take off his body parts, asking if she believes in them now. But Rinehart just feels sympathy for him.

Mulder and Scully return and save Rinehart. Mulder comments that Rob just can’t stop himself. Rinehart encourages Rob to be the good person she knows he is and let the FBI agents detain him. Instead, Rob rushes them and gets himself caught. As he dies, he tells Rinehart that he can’t be something he’s not.

Thoughts: Spinks is played by Mark Pellegrino.

What kind of burger restaurant serves coleslaw anyway? Are people like, “Hey, let’s go to Lucky Boy and get coleslaw”?

Mulder, didn’t you learn from “Humbug” why you shouldn’t say things like “genetic freak”? And didn’t you learn from FBI training (and common sense) not to touch evidence without wearing gloves? Scully, put a leash on him or something.

February 10, 2018

The X-Files 7.2, The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati: The Last Temptation of Mulder

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

In case you wanted to be hit over the head with the episode’s Christ imagery…

Summary: Mulder’s having a dream about a couple on a beach with their little boy. In reality, a doctor is telling his mother that his brain is being destroyed. Teena’s upset that they’re sedating Mulder so much that he’s basically a zombie. She asks him for a sign that he can hear her. He can, but he can’t communicate that to her.

CSM visits later, voicing over stuff about fathers and mothers. He knows Mulder can hear him. Mulder thinks that he could always hear CSM’s voice, even when his head was full. The two appear to communicate telepathically as CSM injects Mulder with something. Mulder thinks he’s being killed, but the injection revives him. CSM wants to give him a choice between life and death. Mulder’s “account is squared” with everyone.

Mulder points out that he’s dying, but CSM says only part of him is. He’s not Jesus or Hamlet; he can recover and leave the hospital, and everyone will forget him. “Arise,” CSM says, like he’s Jesus. Mulder sits up, and CSM tells him to take his hand. Mulder doesn’t know why, though; all the voices in his head are gone, and he can’t read CSM’s mind anymore. CSM tells him he has to take the first step. Mulder thinks about the boy on the beach again as CSM announces that he’s Mulder’s father. So now I guess he’s Darth Vader.

Kritschgau finds Scully sleeping in her office instead of working and chastises her for it. She doesn’t care for his opinion, since he drugged Mulder. Kritschgau tells Scully that Mulder believes he was infected with an alien virus two years ago, and that the virus was reactivated by something else alien. He’s proof that alien life exists. Scully doesn’t care, since Mulder’s dying – their only job is to save him. “You destroy this and I’ll destroy you,” Kritschgau threatens.

Skinner calls Scully to tell her to get to the hospital. Mulder has disappeared. When they meet up, Skinner says that the authorities at the hospital claim that Teena checked Mulder out. Skinner doesn’t want to be involved in the case any longer, so Scully’s on her own. Really, it’s that Skinner’s in a “compromised position,” so it’s better if he doesn’t know what his agents are up to.

Back on the dream beach, a boy a few years older than the one from the earlier dream approaches Mulder. “The child is father to the man,” he says in CSM’s voice. Noooo, that’s not creepy at all. Mulder wakes up in CSM’s car and learns that CSM had doctors tend to him. He thought Mulder would die, either at the hands of the Syndicate, the FBI, or his own foolishness, so CSM had to save him.

Mulder doesn’t think CSM can just make him disappear, but CSM says they’ve made whole cultures vanish. Mulder will just become a man without a name, like CSM. Mulder wants to contact Scully, but CSM says that’ll put her in danger. In a sense, he’s entering a witness protection program. CSM offers Mulder a cigarette, saying that maybe now he smokes.

Scully goes home and is surprised by a visit from Hosteen, who was basically at death’s door the last time Scully saw him. He tells Scully that she needs to find Mulder – not just for his sake, but “for the sake of us all.” Meanwhile, CSM takes Mulder to a house in a suburb somewhere, encouraging him to consider accepting this new life.

Scully verifies with another FBI agent that Teena signed Mulder out of the hospital against medical advice. However, someone painted over surveillance cameras, so they can’t see who actually moved him. There’s a small, visible spot through the paint, and Scully easily recognizes the person Teena’s talking to on the footage. After all, there’s only one person she knows who would smoke in a hospital.

Mulder goes into his possible new home and finds the fridge well stocked. (I don’t know who puts sunflower seeds in the fridge, but okay.) Deep Throat is there; he says he’s not dead, just “really relaxed.” He calls the bullet he took a punctuation mark that ended one chapter of his life and allowed him to start a new one. Mulder admits that he felt responsible for Deep Throat’s death, but Deep Throat doesn’t want him to feel guilty about anything. He’s not the center of the universe. The two of them are just “puppets in a master plan.”

Mulder has suffered enough, and Deep Throat wants him to enjoy his life. He shows Mulder pictures of his family, inviting him to have dinner with them – they live just down the street. But first, Mulder needs a nap. In a dream, he finds a boy on the beach, building a sand castle that gets knocked down by a wave. Mulder tells him he can just start again. When Mulder wakes up, he’s shirtless, and Fowley’s in his house, ready for some lovin’. She takes off a pair of handcuffs on his wrist, which we will never, ever tell Scully about, right, guys?

Scully tries to call Teena, who doesn’t answer her phone. Scully gets a delivery containing a book on Native American practices and sees that writing on the cover matches writing on the stone. Inside the book is a chapter on the Anasazi – a whole culture that disappeared without a trace. The words “sixth extinction” are used. Scully calls Skinner to ask if he sent the book, which explains everything she found in the Ivory Coast. It also talks about a myth about a man who can save everyone by protecting them against a plague.

Skinner can’t talk right now, though, since there’s someone in his office. Scully goes to see him in person, finding him just as someone leaves his office after attacking him. She tries to chase the attacker, but he pulls a fire alarm and disappears in a crowd.

Mulder’s now living a nice little suburban life with Fowley, but he doesn’t want to turn his back on his commitments to the X-Files, Scully, and Samantha. Fowley tells him he’s being childish. He needs to let go of his fantasies and be a real part of the world. Specifically, he needs to become a father. Mulder’s like, “We had sex once. Can we put the brakes on? Also, I don’t trust you.”

Scully goes to Kritschgau, accusing him of leaking information, which led to Skinner’s attack. She sees the symbols from the stone on his computer and guesses that he hacked into her files. He admits that he’s having the NIH analyze the symbols. Scully deletes the files as Kritschgau says that someone’s looking for Mulder.

Mulder and Fowley visit CSM, who lives in the neighborhood. He tells them he has some grandchildren, and also lives with someone Mulder would find very familiar: Samantha. She’s thrilled to see her brother. The real Mulder is in some sort of lab, still unconscious. CSM and Fowley are with him, talking about the kinds of dreams he might be having. CSM thinks that, like other extraordinary men, Mulder’s being tempted by something ordinary in his dreams. Those dreams are all he has now.

Fowley goes to FBI headquarters, where Scully finds her and asks for a cigarette. Fowley decides they should just talk about what they both know this is really about. She tells Scully that instead of worrying about where Mulder is, Scully should think about what she could have done to prevent all this. Scully tells her to think about Mulder as a person, with all his promise, and tell her that Mulder wouldn’t work his hardest to save her. Fowley says she’s thinking about that – she’s always thinking.

CSM chats with a doctor at the lab about an alien-human hybrid and why they’ve kept Mulder alive for so long. Long story short: Mulder is immune to the coming apocalypse, so he’s going to undergo a procedure that may allow them to save everyone. But it might kill him, which CSM is okay with, since it means he “suffers a hero’s fate.”

Suddenly Dream Mulder and Dream Fowley are getting married. Then things speed up, and Mulder’s older. Fowley’s dead, and at her funeral, CSM tries to comfort his son. In the lab, CSM tells Fowley not to think of Mulder as a man, like Scully wanted her to. She needs to think about the sacrifice he’s making to save everyone. Fowley wishes he’d had a choice in the matter. Oh, NOW you think about that.

CSM thinks Mulder would have made this choice – he gets to “become the thing he sought for so long.” He spent his life looking for aliens, and now he’ll be one. Mulder’s part in the procedure is almost done, and CSM will now take over.

An unaged CSM talks to an older Mulder about the boy he sees on the beach. Mulder says he’s seen the boy thousands of times, but he never understands what the boy wants him to see. CSM tells him to close his eyes. The boy is ready to show him. On the beach, the boy has build a huge spaceship out of sand, but now he wants to destroy it. He tells Mulder it’s Mulder’s ship, and Mulder’s the one destroying it. He was supposed to help.

Hosteen returns to Scully’s apartment, telling her she’s looking in the wrong place. Scully doesn’t know how to save Mulder anyway; the science doesn’t make sense to her. Hosteen points to her cross necklace and asks if she’s looked for him there. They kneel to pray together, and Hosteen tells Scully, “There are more worlds than the one you can hold in your hand.”

CSM is ready to undergo the procedure (which I guess will give him Mulder’s immunity?), telling Fowley that he’ll carry on for his son. This is God’s blessing; the knowledge needs to be spread. Mulder wakes up during the procedure, looking straight at Fowley, who can’t bring herself to watch what’s going to happen.

Mulder dreams of being old and on his deathbed, with a still-unaged CSM by his side. Samantha and Deep Throat are dead for real, as are Fowley and Scully. CSM tells Mulder it’s time for him to let go. His loved ones are waiting for him. He tells Mulder to close his eyes. The two of them are the last ones left – “the end and the beginning.” There’s nothing left for Mulder to do, since the apocalypse has come and everything’s on fire, and there are spaceships flying into buildings and stuff. What a wonderful world!

Someone starts a fire in Kritschgau’s apartment after either wounding or killing him. It’s Krycek, and he leaves with a file. Someone slips an envelope under Scully’s door containing an access card for the Department of Defense. As the procedure continues and Scully uses the card, Mulder dreams of Scully coming to his deathbed. She’s mad that he believed the story that she was dead. She calls him a traitor and a coward. He’s not supposed to die “in a comfortable bed with the devil outside.”

Mulder argues that CSM has taken care of him. Scully says he’s made Mulder trade his mission for a comfortable life. Mulder obviously doesn’t know it’s the end of the world outside. He says he’s too tired to look out the window, but Scully tells him to get out of bed and fight. The procedure is done by the time the real Scully finds the real Mulder and wakes him up. He struggles to stay awake, and she begs him to help her fight. He asks her to help him in turn.

A week later, Mulder’s recovering at home, ready to go back to work. Scully visits, and he tells her that Hosteen died last night. He was in a coma for two weeks, so there was no way he could have come to see her at her apartment. Scully says that’s impossible, and Mulder asks if it’s more impossible than what she saw in the Ivory Coast. (Or, you know, THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.) Scully says she doesn’t know what to believe anymore. She was so determined to save Mulder that she was able to deny what she saw. Now she doesn’t know what the truth is.

Then Scully breaks her own news of death: Fowley was found murdered just hours earlier. Scully didn’t trust her, but she knows Fowley sent her the book that helped her save Mulder, so Fowley deserves some credit. Mulder says that he was like Scully once. He chose a path that took him away from his beliefs, and in the end, his world was unrecognizable. Scully told him the truth. “Even when my world was falling apart, you were my constant, my touchstone,” he says. She tells him he’s the same to her. In one last dream scene, Mulder and the boy build a big sand spaceship together.

Thoughts: One of the boys in Mulder’s dream (they keep changing ages) is played by the same twins who played Owen in early years of Party of Five. Two of the doctors involved in the procedure are played by Brian George and David Brisbin. Coincidentally Brisbin’s character appears to be an anesthesiologist, which is what he plays on ER.

David Duchovny co-wrote the episode and personally rewrote the ending because he thought Mulder was too upset about Fowley. Gillian Anderson’s hair is different in the final scene because she got it cut between the original taping and the reshoot.

For connections between this episode and the movie The Last Temptation of Christ (the inspiration for my recap title), see the X-Files wiki.

AS IF Mulder would be tempted to marry Fowley. AS IF Scully wouldn’t be his literal dream wife.

February 3, 2018

The X-Files 7.1, The Sixth Extinction: Death and Resurrection

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

My next Halloween costume

Scully’s still in the Ivory Coast, and still voicing over stuff. She came here to look into something she didn’t believe in, but she’s staying anyway, and will be there as long as Mulder’s sick. She’s not sure how to reconcile what she’s found with what she believes. She thinks Mulder should have been the one to find the spaceship. As huge bugs swarm around a lantern, Scully voices over that she’s going to figure out the link between Mulder’s sickness and the stone rubbing. Every illness contains the source of its cure.

There’s a man in Scully’s tent, but he disappears before she can see him. She turns off the lantern and grabs a machete that just happens to be lying around. The bugs are suddenly dying. Scully goes outside, but the beach is empty. When she returns to the tent, the bugs are flying around again. They cover the lantern and swarm her.

Back in the U.S., Skinner learns from Mulder’s doctor that his brain is dying. When Skinner goes in to see him, Mulder doesn’t seem to hear him. But then he attacks Skinner, trying to strangle him. Once Skinner has been rescued, Mulder just starts yelling. Skinner finds a piece of Mulder’s hospital gown in his pocket, with “HELP ME” written on it.

In the Ivory Coast, men come to the beach to dig out the spaceship. A woman named Amina finds Scully in her bug-covered tent and asks to see the spaceship. Scully asked for it to be kept a secret, but Amina says it’s become pretty well-known thanks to word of mouth, what Merkmallen called the “African Internet.”

Scully tells Amina, who’s also a biology professor, about what happened to her the night before, with the vanishing man and the bugs. Amina tells her not to tell anyone else – the men working there will see it as an omen and will want to stop unearthing the spaceship. For now, they need to let the men keep digging. One of the men starts yelling that the water is boiling. Scully sends him off to the hospital with burns. Amina tells her it’s another warning.

In Georgetown, Mulder is now restrained, and Skinner has to sneak in to see him. He promises to help, though he doesn’t know what to do, and he probably doesn’t have much time. Mulder can’t speak, but he can write on Skinner’s hand. Scully voices over that she can feel Mulder slipping away as she continues to try to figure out what’s happening with the spaceship. She just wants to learn how to use its power to save her partner.

A Jeep arrives on the beach, and the man who gets out wants to show Scully something. He’s brought Barnes with him. Scully tells Amina that Barnes killed Merkmallen, which Barnes denies. He tells Scully that the spaceship has extraterrestrial origins. Scully points out that he doesn’t believe in that stuff. “Neither do you,” he replies, but she’s there, so…

Barnes wants to help Scully help Mulder. He can read the symbols that will give them the answers theologians have been looking for all this time. Scully knows the news will get out quickly without Barnes’ help, so she allows him to stay. His driver shows them blood in the ocean water. Scully looks over at some rocks and sees the vanishing man from her tent standing there.

Mulder’s message has directed Skinner to Kritschgau, though neither man is sure why. Kritschgau goes to the hospital to see Mulder, who’s basically catatonic. His brain waves start changing whenever Kritschgau speaks. Skinner tells Kritschgau that Mulder said he was hearing voices. Kritschgau thinks Mulder’s anticipating things – he’s responding to questions Kritschgau hasn’t asked yet.

The men take Mulder to the hospital’s drug lockup so they can inject him with something that will allow him to communicate again. Kritschgau has read studies about remote viewing, a kind of ESP, and knows Mulder is being drugged the way those subjects were. Their brains worked overtime, but there was a drug they could be given that would make their bodies keep up. Skinner realizes that Mulder knew about this, and knew Kritschgau knew, which is why he wanted Skinner to contact him. As soon as Mulder is injected, he says, “They’re coming.”

After noticing that Mulder wasn’t in his room, someone called Fowley, but when she arrives, Mulder’s back where he’s supposed to be. Skinner claims he found Mulder wandering in the hallway. He pulls rank on Fowley, ordering her away. Mulder is somehow able to read minds now (I don’t know), and he warns Skinner that Fowley knows what’s going on. He tells Skinner to find Scully. Skinner says he doesn’t know where she is.

Mulder knows that Krycek is involved, and Skinner’s being blackmailed, so he doesn’t think Mulder can trust him. He just needs Kritschgau to prove what’s causing his illness. Kritschgau doesn’t believe in aliens, so he just thinks Mulder has a brain abnormality. Mulder still believes, though, and thinks Kritschgau is the key to helping him.

Scully puts together pictures of the spacecraft so she can look at the symbols. Barnes has written down the alphabet of the ancient Navajo language they’re written in, so Scully can translate. A lot of the workers have been scared away, so only a few men are still digging, but they’ve found some amazing things – Scripture from multiple sources and times. Scully’s worried that the secret won’t stay secret, and that she’s too late to help Mulder.

Amina brings Scully more symbols; they’re a passage from the Quran talking about the day of final judgment. Scully has found panels that correspond to human chromosomes. They may contain a map to human genomes. She sees this as beautiful, intricate artwork. Amina sees it as the word of God. Barnes disagrees, saying God doesn’t exist. Suddenly he believes in aliens and thinks life began somewhere other than Earth. The women think he’s gone crazy, and when Barnes picks up a machete, they probably think he’s confirmed their diagnosis.

Barnes tells Scully that she’s wasting her time and can’t help Mulder. Scully insists that the symbols have power. Barnes agrees, but he says Mulder got too close to it. He sits by the entrance of the tent, holding the machete, and tells the woman that no one will leave before he does.

Kritschgau tells Skinner about the remote-viewing tests as he sets Mulder up to do some. He’s supposed to touch screens and determine where an image of a UFO is – kind of a high-tech version of Three-card Monte – but his accuracy rate is only about 5%. Mulder’s confused, since he can see the images in his head. They do the test faster, and Mulder’s accuracy goes way up. In fact, he can anticipate where the UFO will be before it gets there.

Barnes seems to be dozing off in the tent, so the women keep an eye on him to see if they can run. Something rattles and wakes Barnes. It looks like some dead fish have been revived, and Barnes credits the spaceship. He’s distracted enough that Scully’s able to grab something to use to knock him out.

She and Amina escape in Barnes’ Jeep and head to the police, but Scully sees the vanishing man in the road and tells Amina to stop. He disappears again, then appears in the Jeep. “Some truths are not for you,” he tells Scully, reaching out to touch her forehead. It’s actually Amina reaching for her, making sure Scully’s still alive. She tells Scully the men were right to see everything as an omen and run away. Scully decides it’s time to go back to the U.S.

Mulder’s in bad shape again, and Skinner doesn’t want Kritschgau to inject him again for more tests. He thinks Kritschgau is using Mulder to get revenge on the FBI. Kritschgau insists that he’s trying to prove what Mulder’s been working on the whole time. Now Mulder’s the proof – “he’s the X-File.”

Skinner thinks they’ve gone too far, but Kritschgau thinks Mulder would keep going if it meant finally uncovering the truth. Skinner gives in. They inject Mulder again, but Fowley arrives before they can move him. She detains Kritschgau as Skinner tries to explain to Fowley and Mulder’s doctor what they were trying to do. Mulder suddenly starts seizing.

Barnes’ driver goes looking for him in the tent and is rewarded with a machete in the neck. Back in the U.S., Fowley tells Mulder that she knows what’s going on with him, and that he knows she’s a traitor. She needs him to look inside her and understand that she has her reasons for the actions she’s taken. She tells him she loves him, then leaves.

As soon as she’s back in D.C., Scully goes to Skinner to ask where Mulder is. He tells her she probably can’t get in to see him, since he and Kritschgau screwed up and now Mulder’s under heavy guard. He also can’t be treated because the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him. Scully insists that Mulder isn’t dying; in fact, he’s more alive than his body can handle. And it may be from something extraterrestrial. Skinner agrees but doesn’t think anything can be done. Scully thinks that her medical credentials will get her access to her partner.

Barnes looks at all the pictures of the spaceship, getting distracted when he hears a glass of water being knocked over. He realizes that the driver’s body is gone and thinks that means the driver has come back to life. There are footprints on the beach (but only one set, because I guess this is when Jesus is carrying the driver). The zombie driver attacks Barnes with the same machete used to kill him.

Mulder’s ears are ringing and he’s hearing voices, but Scully’s is loud and clear as she convinces the doctors to let her see him. We get a rare in-person “Mulder, it’s me.” She asks for a sign that he can hear her, but he’s catatonic again and doesn’t give one. She thinks he would be able to find a way to hold on and stay alive if he knew what she’d been through.

Scully says that she’s found the key to every question that’s ever been asked. It’s a puzzle, and they’ll have to put the pieces together. She beg him to hold on. Back in the Ivory Coast, some soldiers accompany Amina to the beach to retrieve Barnes’ body. The spaceship is gone. To be continued, again…

Thoughts: Look, I don’t care what mysteries of the universe I could be solving – if there’s a swarm of bugs involved, I’m out. I’m not even getting to the point where the ocean’s turning to blood.

I feel like Scully and Amina could have easily gotten away from Barnes. Just lift up another wall of the tent and run. Barnes was middle-aged and Scully has FBI training; they could have outrun him.

Wow, Fowley is really a useless character, isn’t she? Also, what happened to Kersh? We haven’t seen him in ages.

January 27, 2018

The X-Files 6.22, Biogenesis: Outer Space Is Hazardous to Your Health

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:24 pm by Jenn

Teeny Scully for scale

Summary: Scully voices over stuff about Earth and life and mass extinctions. Everything gets killed off; species come back; then everything gets killed off again. There have been five extinctions, and I guess humans are due a sixth. We also don’t know where life came from, or whether there’s a reason for our existence. Are we just going to die off again and be forgotten? In the Ivory Coast, some men find something interesting in the ocean as Scully wonders if the mysteries of life will be explained through a sign or a revelation.

The men bring over another man to look at their discovery, a piece of stone with symbolic writing on it. The man takes it to his university and puts it together with a piece he already has. The two pieces stick together and fly across the room, impaling a Bible. When he pulls out the stone, it starts spinning around on his desk. He leaves to make a phone call to the U.S., not looking at the passage in the Bible the stone has pierced: Genesis 1:28, in which God tells Adam and Eve to start making babies.

Three days later, the man arrives at American University in D.C. to meet with a Professor Sandoz. The man is Solomon Merkmallen, because the show thinks it’s funny to make me type “Merkmallen” over and over. Sandoz works with monkeys, so it’s not clear what he can do for Merkmallen and his stone. The stone caused some problems with metal detectors in the airport, and Merkmallen was almost detained. He pulls out the stone and the monkeys go ape. (Sorry. Okay, I’m not.)

Merkmallen tells Sandoz about the two pieces of stone becoming one. Sandoz has a third piece, and Merkmallen wants to see if it fits with his two. When Sandoz asks if Merkmallen has had any luck reading the symbols, Merkmallen realizes he’s not really Sandoz. Sandoz attacks him, and a few minutes later, another professor finds Merkmallen dead in the lab. Sandoz is gone, and the monkeys probably won’t be able to tell this guy what happened.

Skinner presents the case to Mulder and Scully, thinking that Mulder would be interested because he’s familiar with Merkmallen’s work in the field of biology. Merkmallen and Sandoz both believed that life began elsewhere in the universe. Scully’s also familiar with the theory, which posits that life began on another planet and was blasted to Earth.

The agents get a rubbing of the stone, and Mulder says that Sandoz had a third stone, which he wrote about in a science journal (just so Scully knows this isn’t a completely paranormal theory). Sandoz is now missing. Scully thinks this is a matter for the police, but since Skinner wants her and Mulder on it, Mulder’s not going to turn down the case. Scully sarcastically wonders why two men who basically believe that we’re all martians would come to harm.

Mulder’s ears start ringing when he takes another look at the rubbing, and he hears a voice and has a hard time hearing what Scully’s saying to him. They’re in an elevator, and no one else appears to be having the same problem. Scully thinks he’s just ignoring her because he doesn’t want to listen to her ideas, but he tells her he couldn’t hear her. She notes that he’s already won – he exposed the Syndicate’s secrets and found out about their experiments. What else is there for him to find? “My sister,” Mulder replies.

They go to Sandoz’s lab, where the fake Sandoz is hanging around. He’s Dr. Barnes, the head of the department, and is pretending that the real Sandoz killed Markmallen. Mulder has his same ear-ringing, voice-hearing reaction when he looks at the rubbing again. Barnes calls Markmallen and Sandoz “pseudoscientists” and embarrassments to the field. Scully checks on Mulder, who guesses that the rubbing is causing his problems.

The agents split up, then meet back up in their office, along with Chuck Burks, who I previously called Chuck Burk. I apologize, sir. Anyway, Scully has called him in to authenticate the rubbing and give a professional opinion on why it seems to be affecting Mulder. Chuck is fascinated, especially since the rubbing is a fake. It’s written in pre-phonetic Navajo, but none of it makes sense. Scully notes that, since it was found all the way in Africa, the whole thing makes even less sense.

Chuck brings up the magic square, which is connected to the occult. The belief is that God handed down the square to Adam and Eve, then told saints and prophets other important people how they were used to trap and store potential power. Only a person who is named in the square, or a “numerical correlative,” can exercise that power. Barnes has discounted this idea, and has accused Sandoz of fakery in the past. In fact, Barnes has debunked a number of potential religious frauds.

Mulder, for once, is the skeptic here. Scully points out that, if the stone found in the Ivory Coast were part of a magic square, how did it get there? Mulder notes that a piece of rock from Mars was found in Antarctica in 1996. How did that get there? Scully replies that it was from outer space. Mulder’s like, “I think you just answered your own question.” Chuck wonders why someone would use Navajo writing to produce a fake magic square in Africa.

Mulder has another reaction to the rubbing, this one more intense than the previous ones. Scully thinks he needs to get medical attention, ignoring his claims that he’s okay. He thinks he knows what’s really going on, thanks to senses he’s been getting. He’s figured out that Barnes killed Markmallen. Scully notes that they don’t have any evidence, but Mulder thinks he’s connected more dots.

The agents go to Sandoz’s apartment in Maryland, where Mulder finds an airline tag on a suitcase indicating that Sandoz has been flying to Gallup, New Mexico a lot. Scully finds a picture of Sandoz with Albert Hosteen and guesses that Sandoz got Hosteen to write the symbols on the stone for him. Mulder smells something gross and discovers poor Markmallen’s head in the garbage.

The agents meet with Skinner again to tell him that they think Barnes, not Sandoz, is the killer. He tried to frame Sandoz and is trying to hide something else. Scully reports that parts of Markmallen’s body are missing – parts that could be tested to detect radiation. The stone contains cosmic galactic radiation, radiation found only in places outside our solar system. Mulder’s being space-poisoned!

His ears ringing again, Mulder asks Skinner if someone else is working the case. He says he can hear it in his head. Scully takes him out of the room to tell him he’s losing it, but Mulder insists that Skinner is holding something back and spying on them. Scully promises to find the stone, but Mulder needs to take care of himself. Skinner watches them leave, then retrieves a tape from a surveillance camera in his office. He gives the tape to Krycek, who leaves without a word. He doesn’t even say “thank you”! This is why people don’t like you, Krycek!

Scully heads to a hospital in Gallup and finds another rubbing in Hosteen’s room. Genesis 1:28 is written out on the back. Scully learns from a nurse that Hosteen is dying of cancer. Back in D.C., Mulder searches Barnes’ office but has to hide when Barnes returns. Barnes seems to sense that something’s off. He goes to the monkey lab, which is also Mulder’s next search location. Mulder’s ears start ringing. Barnes leaves, and as Mulder follows, the ringing gets louder. He’s unable to make it up the stairs.

As Hosteen is returned to his room, Scully spots the real Sandoz lurking around. She chases him through the hospital, eventually cornering him in a stairwell. Meanwhile, Krycek finds Mulder suffering at American but, again, leaves without a word. He meets with Barnes, telling him they’re “destined to be great friends.” He gives Barnes the surveillance tape.

Scully takes Sandoz to Hosteen’s room, and Sandoz reveals that Hosteen confirmed the importance of the stone for him. He couldn’t read Sandoz’s piece, but when Markmallen contacted Sandoz about his two pieces, they had something to go on. The translation of the symbols is Genesis 1:28. Sandoz believes that this means the scripture verse came from aliens. Hosteen was working on another section of the stone when he got sick. This one seems to just contain random letters, though. Sandoz pulls out the piece, which starts spinning like the first two did.

Scully calls Mulder, who’s sick in bed and won’t tell Scully who answered his phone. She tells him about the scripture, and Mulder says it must mean that aliens placed us on Earth. This explains all the mysteries of the world – it’s all from the aliens. Scully refuses to believe this, so Mulder tells her to prove him wrong. He hangs up and hands the phone back to his caretaker, Fowley. Fowley then calls someone to say that Mulder called her in distress, and she’s staying with him until she finds out what’s wrong. Somehow, this involves taking off her clothes. Meanwhile, CSM attends a meeting (but doesn’t take off his clothes).

Another Scully voiceover! This one is about the Big Bang, matter, and gas. Are we only meant to be on Earth to multiply, then die? “If there is a beginning, must there be an end?” Scully and Sandoz accompany Hosteen to his reservation, where his tribe begins a healing ceremony. Scully wonders if we’ll go extinct, or if the fire of life inside us will go on. Who tends those flames? Can they be rekindled?

Sandoz invites Scully to sit in on the healing ceremony, but Scully doesn’t think it’s appropriate, since she doesn’t share the Navajos’ faith. Sandoz tells her that the doctors say they’ve done all they can for Hosteen, which Scully believes. Skinner calls to tell her that Mulder’s been admitted to a hospital in Georgetown in bad shape. She needs to come home ASAP. Scully promises to keep Sandoz’s location a secret for now.

At Georgetown, Scully is stunned to learn that Mulder’s in a special psychiatric unit. She can tell that there’s something else Skinner hasn’t told her. Fowley tells Scully that Mulder was asking for her the night before. Now, though, he’s violent and agitated, despite the drugs he’s been given. He’s also displaying abnormal brain activity. His doctor doesn’t want Scully to see him, saying Mulder’s dangerous, but Scully doesn’t think he’ll hurt her.

Fowley asks what Mulder and Scully were investigating, and how it could be connected to Mulder’s condition. Skinner insists that the case is about a fraud, and that Scully has proof. She’s confused, since she never sent Skinner a report on the fakery. She’d also like to know why Fowley was with Mulder the night before. Fowley says that Mulder called her from the stairwell at American, and told her that she was the only one who would believe him about the stone. Scully accuses both Fowley and Skinner of lying, then leaves.

In Gallup, the healing ceremony continues. Sandoz suddenly leaves. Scully searches her and Mulder’s office and finds a surveillance camera in a smoke detector. As she’s about to remove it, the phone rings. It’s Sandoz, who has realized that the random letters on the fourth stone correspond to genes – every chromosome of humans’ genetic makeup. He just wishes they could find more pieces.

Some horses near Sandoz start getting agitated, and Scully hears a loud bang through the phone. Krycek has arrived in Gallup and removed Sandoz from the equation. 36 hours later, Scully’s in the Ivory Coast, looking for more pieces of the stone. One of the men who found the first one show her where it was in the sand. She digs a little and finds something much bigger buried there: a giant FREAKING SPACESHIP. To be continued!

Thoughts: Man, according to this show, everything related to aliens causes cancer.

The sight of Scully on the beach in a jacket and long skirt probably isn’t supposed to be as funny as it is.

Does anyone else think all the stuff about Genesis 1:28 and multiplying is foreshadowing for the end of season 7?

Speaking of which, season 6 is done, and it’s on to season 7! Just one more season until Duchovny ditches!

January 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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