Over the course of nine seasons and 2 feature films, The X-Files transcended its cult status, becoming a phenomenon and cultural touchstone. With a new series on the way, special agent Rick Shingler has accepted the assignment to rewatch the entire series from the beginning and provide detailed reports about his findings. Come with us now, as we explore the mysteries of the complete X-Files. S3E17: “Pusher” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Rob Bowman) Vince Gilligan returns with a tight and tense thriller. Weird trivia bit: just in case it ever comes up at a party, you can say that this episode was the first time a game of Russian roulette was ever featured on a broadcast television program in the United States. Apparently the Fox standard and practices people nearly didn’t let it happen, because there was no precedent set for it on network television. Also, if you watch really closely when Modell enters FBI headquarters, you might catch a glimpse of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame (not to mention an X-Files superfan) walking in the hallway. Robert Modell is having enjoying a quiet trip to the supermarket for his years’ supply of energy drinks when he is apprehended by an FBI task force. Frank Burst is the agent in charge of the arrest. From the back seat of the car, Modell compliments the driver on the color of his shirt, repeating the term “cerulean blue.” The driver fails to see an oncoming cerulean blue tractor trailer and pulls the car out in front of it. Modell escapes custody as a result of the crash. Mulder and Scully join Agent Burst who explains that he had been tracking Modell for a series of contract killings he had completed over the past couple of years. Each death held the distinction of appearing to be suicide. Observing the word “ronin” at the crime scene, Mulder and Scully pour over recent issues of “American Ronin” magazines, paying particular attention to the classified ads. Finding an ad which seems to match Modell, they use the phone number in the ad to trace him to a driving range, where he is arrested, but not until after he talks member of the SWAT team pour gasoline over himself and light a zippo. Mulder believes Modell has a unique ability to force his will on other people, so that they will do anything he wants them to do. At his arraignment hearing, Modell uses his ability to convince the judge to let him walk free. As Mulder and Scully start digging into his past, he walks into FBI headquarters and convinces an agent named Holly to pull Mulder’s file up on a terminal. Skinner happens by the office and steps in. Modell, nonplussed, pits Holly against Skinner and she maces him. Upon interviewing Holly, Scully has to concede that Mulder’s theory is the only possible explanation, even if she can’t scientifically explain it. In Modell’s apartment, they find his fridge full of the energy drink he had been buying at the supermarket during the episode’s opener and medicine to treat epilepsy. Mulder speculates that if Modell has a brain tumor, it could be triggering his psychokinetic abilities, but each use of the power is exhausting him. Modell calls the apartment and talks to Agent Burst, successfully convincing him that his heart should stop working while they trace the call. Burst’s self-sacrifice lead them to a hospital where a deteriorating Modell captures Mulder and forces him to a round of Russian roulette while Scully helplessly watches. Scully reaches behind her and pulls the hospital’s fire alarm, which is jarring enough to pull Mulder out of his stupor and shoot Modell. Modell ends up in the hospital, suffering from the gunshot wound as well as the brain tumor. As far as they can tell, it is unlikely he will ever wake up again. Scully remarks that the tumor was entirely operable for much of the past two years, but he chose to leave it. Mulder thinks he made that choice in order to maintain his newfound abilities. He was a small man who found power and grasped onto it, no matter the cost. This was a great little meat and potatoes episode of the X-Files. It had all the elements of a great monster of the week story, without feeling trite or like a retread. The acting was great, particularly the villain. He’s believable and very human and even sort of relatable. I mean, at some point or another, who hasn’t experienced some manner of power fantasy like the ability he manifests? I doubt anyone could claim to never wish they could just simply tell the person digging for exact change at the checkout while ten people wait in line to just give the cashier the twenty in her other hand. Who wouldn’t relish the ability to make the person talking on their cell phone during a movie turn off their phone? Or compel your roommate to not leave condom wrappers and Twinkie boxes lying all over the apartment when you’re away for the weekend visiting your parents? Modell is a man just like any of us with ambitions and the desire for recognition. Of course, he’s also a dangerously narcissistic sociopath, which plants him squarely in Camp Dark Side. So there’s that. S3E18: “Teso Dos Bichos” (w: John Shiban/d: Kim Manners) Legend has it that after completing production of this episode, Kim Manners made t-shirts for the cast and crew that said “Teso Dos Bichos Survivor.” Among other problems, this episode suffered so many rewrites that Manners came to refer to it as “Second Salmon” in reference to the different colored paper given to each newly-printed rewrite. If nothing else, this turd serves to remind us of just how great the X-Files can be when it’s not being this particular episode. The only thing I find to solace myself regarding this one is the museum security guard, played by Ron Sauve. The actor had appeared as the sewage plant supervisor in season two’s episode “The Host,” and his fate was left somewhat unresolved after he was attacked by Flukeman while helping Mulder in the Newark sewers. I choose to believe that this security guard, Mr. Decker, is the same guy who, having survived his ordeal, decided to pursue a drastic change of career and go into the relative safety of being a museum security guard. Sure, Mulder doesn’t appear to recognize him as such, but what sort of conversation would they really need to have, anyway? “Hey, the last time I saw you, we were in a sewer together fighting off a giant parasitic worm.” Think of it as being sort of like when you bump into that girl you sort of made out with at that party that time and neither of you really want to acknowledge the other. Some things are just awkward enough to make us act like strangers, ya dig? The title translates from ancient Portuguese as “burial mound of small animals”, but in some parts of South America, “bichos” is a euphemism for testicles. Take whatever meaning from this information as you choose. A team of archaeologists in Ecuador dig up an urn with the remains of an Amaru (a female shaman = a shawoman?). Doctors Bilac and Roosevelt argue about whether it is a good idea to move it. Bilac fears the local legends of a curse, which Roosevelt dismisses as superstition. Roosevelt ultimately declares that they will transport it back to the USA and a Boston-area natural history museum. Later that night, Bilac is drinking some sort of milky hooch called Yaje while attending a drum circle when Roosevelt is attacked and killed by a large jaguar. Back in Boston three weeks later, a security guard at the museum finds a pool of blood in the lab Dr. Decker, but no sign of the doctor. Mulder and Scully arrive and interview the museum curator, a grad student named Mona, and go to find Bilac, who appears to be hung over. The curator attempts to leave the museum that night, except gets attacked by the jaguar spirit guarding the Amaru when his Jaguar won’t start (isn’t that precious?). An examination of his car the next morning reveals that a rat had crawled up into the engine and gotten stuck. An examination of the tree near the car reveals the curator’s intestines. Because why not? Mona calls Scully to snitch that Bilac was drinking Yaje again. When they get back to the museum, they find the toilets full of rats and Bilac crying in the bathroom that Mona was dead. Bilac escapes the room where he has been locked up through a trap door that leads to the steam tunnels under the museum. Pursuing him, Scully is attacked by the housecat equivalent of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog while Mulder discovers an army of irritable felines living in the steam tunnels. Er, jaguar god leads to rats lead to feral cats? How does that logic follow? Oh, wait; it may have been in either the mauve or puce rewrite. Don’t question it, just keep moving; we’re almost to the end. They find Bilac’s body, which has been A. attacked by an angry jaguar god, B. scared to death by hordes of rats, or C. suffering from the worst case of cat scratch fever this side of a Ted Nugent concert. They escape and help make the decision to return the burial urn to Ecuador. In the end, the urn is reinterred by the tribespeople who helped dig it up in the first place while the local shaman watches with his catlike eyes. Woof. All I can think of is Scully’s line to Clyde Bruckman when she said, “There are hits and there are misses. And then there are misses.” This episode was a miss. The rats were icky (especially the ones in the toilets), yet were never properly explained. What do they have to do with the jaguar god? For that matter, when did the Lord Bast Revenge Squad come into it, anyway? And do they really have to administer rabies shots through your stomach, or was that just a story kids used to tell each other to scare their friends (well, me at least)? Why does Ecuador look so much like the quarry where Mulder found the buried boxcar at the beginning of the season? What career will Ray Decker, the sewer manager/security guard pursue next? So get out there, Ray! We’re all pulling for you! S3E19: “Hell Money” (w: Jeffrey Vlaming/d: Tucker Gates) This episode very nearly breaks apart under the weight of its own ambition. Writer Vlaming took an idea of Chris Carter’s about a pyramid scheme using black market body parts and a couple of ideas of his own (a small town lottery and a Haves vs. Have-nots struggle in San Francisco’s Chinatown), put them into a blender and hit frappe. The result is an intricate thriller whose payoff just falls short of satisfying. However, Tucker Gates, in his X-Files directorial debut delivers an hour that is consistently eerie, dark, and even haunting at times, but with surprisingly humane touches. Also, one of Lucy Liu’s first breaks as a young actor happens in this episode. Her star would rise a few years later with her role on Fox’s legal comic drama/early midlife crisis documentary Ally McBeal. In San Francisco’s Chinatown, three figures in black cloaks and white Shigong masks confront a Chinese immigrant named Johnny Lo, telling him that he must now “pay the price.” A morgue security guard catches the three figures leaving the crematorium before discovering that Lo is inside the incinerator, burning alive. Mulder and Scully investigate the case, as it is the latest in a string of incinerator deaths in the area. They join SFPD Detective Glen Chao, a Chinese-American who will serve as their guide in Chinatown. He translates a Chinese character painted on the inside of the incinerator which translates to “ghost,” lending credence to a working theory of Mulder’s about the murders. Scully remains convinced that it’s some kind of a cult thing. Also in the crematorium is a burned scrap of paper which Chao identifies as being “hell money,” a symbolic offering to the spirits of the dead. Mulder and Scully go to Lo’s apartment, where Mulder discovers a blood stain under the newly-installed carpeting. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Chinatown, a man named Hsin attends some sort of underground lottery with the hope of winning money to help his sick daughter. Unfortunately for Hsin, this lottery offers its participants the opportunity to win a chest full of cash or lose a body part. Chao leads Mulder and Scully to Hsin because he was the one who had installed the new carpet at Lo’s place. When they get to Hsin’s apartment, he is missing one of his eyes, which he claims was a freak carpet tack accident. The three shigong-masked strangers appear in Chao’s apartment, telling him to back off. Hsin, meanwhile, is speaking to a man about pulling out of the lottery, citing his need to care for his daughter over his need to lose any more eyeballs. The man in the suit threatens him with ghostly fire if he leaves the lottery. Upon analysis, the blood in Lo’s apartment turns out to be Chao’s. Mulder and Scully track Chao to the building where the lottery takes place. Inside, Hsin draws a winning tile, but also draws a heart tile from the urn. Chao breaks the urns with the tiles, revealing that the lottery is fixed (aren’t they all?) and that Hsin was predetermined to draw the tile that would sacrifice his own heart. The agents burst in just as the doctor is preparing to cut into Hsin’s chest cavity, stopping the procedure. They try to question the doctor, but he maintains silence, as does the rest of the community. Scully sees that Hsin’s daughter is put on an organ donor list, and all ends well. Except for Chao, who wakes up in an incinerator with the Chinese character for “ghost” painted over him. I’m really of two minds with this episode. On the one hand, it’s shot beautifully. The tones are deep and it has a street level consciousness even when the ghostly shigong guys show up. The story is ambitious and engaging. The characters are written well, especially Chao, whose struggle of walking the line between old-world Chinese tradition and modern police procedure felt palpably real. But in the end, elements of it just didn’t quite line up. There’s some business with a live frog climbing out of a cadaver’s chest cavity that just falls short in its attempt to ignite the story. We are left with something of a head scratcher. There’s just a bit too much story happening here. I think that if the storyline involving Chao’s misdeeds could have been dropped, it would have made this hour more palatable. Chao’s corruption seemed to come from left field, considering how much time was spent in the earlier parts of the episode around building him up as a sympathetic character. Ultimately, while I admire its ambition and excellent production values, the attempt to build a complex plot centered on three disparate story ideas just didn’t really work for this writer. S3E20: “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” (w: Darin Morgan/d: Rob Bowman) I know this is gonna sound crazy, but this was the last episode of the X-Files series for writer Darin Morgan. His second season highlight “Humbug” was followed by the Emmy-winning “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and “War of the Coprophages” earlier in this third season. Any one of these earlier episodes could qualify as true classics, but this is the one (for this writer, at least) that comes closest to a true tour de force for this writer. Rob Bowman keeps the various threads from spinning completely out of control. A lesser director might not have been able to keep as many plates spinning as effectively as Bowman. Veteran stage and screen actor and out-before-being-out-was-cool game show panelist Charles Nelson Reilly fully embodies the title’s character, elevating him far beyond the Truman Capote knockoff that was central to Morgan’s original concept for the character. While he did not exactly receive the accolades for this appearance that were perhaps due, he did earn an Emmy nomination the following year for reprising the role on an episode of Millennium. Other guest stars this episode include Jesse “The Body” Ventura and… Actually, no. I don’t want to spoil it. A young couple in Washington State is in the car enjoying their first date when they are stopped by what appears to be an alien ship. The appearance becomes even more convincing when two grey aliens approach the car from the road. Things sort of fall apart, however, when the red light of another ship outshines the white light of the first ship. In the red light another alien, much larger and more menacing than the first two, appears and threatens the grey aliens. The story of this abduction is being told by Agent Scully, being interviewed by Jose Chung, a famed author of thrillers. He is trying to break into a new genre (and, hopefully, a new tax bracket) with something he is dubbing “non-fiction science fiction” by writing about this case of the abducted teens. She tells him that the girl, Chrissy, was found the next morning with all of her clothes on inside out and no clear memory of the night before. Harold, her date, is brought in by the police and accused of date rape, which he denies. Instead, he spins a tale of their alien abduction and how they sat in cages alongside their would-be abductors. One of the grey aliens can only sit in his cage smoking his cigarette (?!) and repeating the words “this is not happening” again and again. Mulder, while finding some of the details puzzling, believes their abduction story. Scully, however, believes that the pair engaged in consensual sex, then concocted the wild tale as a way to deny the reality to their parents. Hey, I guess it beats the hell out of “sorry, daddy, we fell asleep watching a movie,” right? Mulder convinces Chrissy to undergo hypnotic regression to try to discern the reason for the discrepancy between her and Harold’s accounts. Mulder and Scully next interview a supposed witness to the teens’ abduction, a power company employee named Roky Crikenson (named, coincidentally, for musician Roky Erickson, who has famously claimed to have been a victim of alien abduction). He tells his version of events before offering the agents a copy of his screenplay he’s written detailing his eyewitness account. He adds that he was visited by two Men in Black (Jesse Ventura and another unseen figure), who inform him that the planet Venus was visible in the sky the night of his encounter, explaining his mistaken notion that he saw a UFO. The larger Man in Black strongly suggests negative implications if he were to continue spreading his story. However, he is on a mission given him by Lord Kinboat, the large alien who overcame the two grey aliens. Roky explains that Lord Kinboat took him to the center of the Earth to grant him the task of playing emissary to his fellow crust-dwellers. Scully tells Chung that Roky clearly suffers from a fantasy-prone personality. Mulder, however, finds just enough glimmers of truth in his story to justify another attempt at hypnotizing Chrissy, whose parents must be the most gullible pair of people on the face of the planet. This time under the hypnotist’s influence, Chrissy tells a variation on her first abduction tale, claiming men from the government were the ones in the dark room with her, not grey aliens. Chung, meanwhile, interviews Blaine, a sci-fi fan (wearing a Space: Above and Beyond t-shirt while sitting under his “I Want to Believe” poster in his bedroom, no less) who tells a story of two government agents (Mulder and Scully) who took away the grey alien body he discovered in a local field. He bursts into the morgue with a camera shouting “Roswell!” until they allow him to film Scully’s autopsy of the body. He quickly edits his footage for home video release under the title “Dead Alien! Truth or Humbug?” (narrated by The Stupendous Yappi, last seen in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”). What Blaine’s sensationalistic edit left out was the point when Scully discovered the zipper under the first layer of the alien’s epidermis, revealing the particularly human Air Force pilot under the grey alien costume. His superiors come to claim the body (which has disappeared) and accidentally reveal the name of his missing copilot as Jack Shaeffer. Mulder relates a story to Scully of finding the missing pilot Shaeffer walking naked and disoriented on the highway near the supposed abduction site. He takes him to a local diner and questions him, but he is confused and his Air Force superiors quickly appear to collect him. Chung, in the X-Files office with Scully, tells her that he had interviewed the owner of the diner, who told a very different account of that evening. According to him, Mulder arrived alone, ate an entire sweet potato pie one piece at a time while questioning him about alien abduction. From the diner, Mulder returns to the hotel, where he finds Scully entranced by the two Men in Black (she has no memory of this encounter). They get a call from the local authorities of an Air Force plane crash on the outskirts of town. Rushing to the scene, they see the bodies of the two pilots (the one from the autopsy and Shaeffer) being hauled away from the wreckage. Mulder arrives at Jose Chung’s apartment, pleading with him to not publish his book, as it will make everyone involved look foolish and serve only to discredit the work he and other UFO investigators pursue. He publishes anyway. This specific episode, with its commentary on the unreliability of eyewitness accounts during investigations, brings everything that serves as the basis for the X-Files to its knees. David Duchovny once said (tongue planted firmly in cheek) that he thought Darin Morgan was out to destroy the show, and that’s not far from the truth with this script. The X-Files is a show that tends to take itself pretty seriously most of the time. Between the gravitas of Mark Snow’s score, the earnestness of the performers, and the dark tone of the cinematography, it’s a show that’s ripe for parody. Darin Morgan’s contribution to the series, more than anything else, was to wrest control of any possible attempts at parody from the hands of detractors by making self-mockery a part of the series’ broad tapestry. This groundwork laid by Morgan would carry throughout the remaining seasons, allowing comic episodes such as “X-Cops,” “Hollywood AD,” and (one of my personal favorites) “Bad Blood,” to name a few. Morgan would leave the X-Files at the end of this season, feeling he was unable to keep up with the breakneck pace of the show’s production. But his impact would be felt for many seasons to come. S3E21: “Avatar” (w: David Duchovny & Howard Gordon (story) Gordon (teleplay)/d: James Charleston) Say you’re at work and need a break, but production can’t be stopped. What do you do? Arrange for someone to cover for you while you step out for a quick smoke, right? Now imagine you’re David Duchovny and want a little break. Now what do you do? Naturally, you suggest to one of the staff writers an idea for an episode centering on Mitch Pileggi’s character Walter Skinner. You get a writing credit, and a relatively easy week of production time. Win/win, right? Skinner meets with his lawyer who pleads with him to sign papers which will finalize his divorce after seventeen years of marriage. He refuses to sign. At a hotel bar later, he meets a blonde and ends up in a room upstairs with her. After rolling around naked with the woman for a while, Skinner falls asleep and dreams he is engaged in similar activities with an old woman. He wakes up to find his hay-rolling partner dead beside him, her head twisted around one-hundred eighty degrees. As DC Metro police begin their investigation, Mulder and Scully involve themselves, despite Skinner’s admonitions. Scully examines the body and finds some sort of phosphorescent substance around the woman’s mouth. Mulder discovers that the woman was, in fact, a prostitute who had processed Skinner’s credit card number through her madam the night before. The police release Skinner after questioning, but he remains a suspect in the case. In the street outside, he sees the old woman from his dream (mercifully clothed this time) and gives chase to confront her. When he catches her, however, he discovers that the woman is actually his estranged wife Sharon. Talking with Sharon leads Scully to learn of a sleep disorder Skinner has been suffering involving a recurring dream in which he is attacked by an old woman. Mulder hypothesizes that he is being visited by a succubus. Soon after visiting her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Sharon is run off the road by Skinner’s car while he supposedly sleeps off half a bottle of Scotch in his apartment. Skinner tells Mulder about the old woman in a police interrogation room, admitting that he first saw her during his tour of duty as a Marine in Vietnam. Cigarette Smoking Man secretly listens to their conversation. While Scully unsuccessfully defends Skinner to a panel representing the Office of Professional Responsibility, Mulder has the airbag from Skinner’s car examined. The imprint of a face is lifted from the deployed bag, revealing a visage that is not Skinner’s. He tries to question the prostitute’s boss again, but she has been murdered. Finding a colleague of the prostitute, Mulder and Scully convince her to help them lead the person who has been framing Skinner out into the open. Unfortunately, that person is sitting outside the diner, watching them as she calls him. Skinner goes to visit the comatose Sharon, but after speaking with her, she seemingly turns into the old woman. Mulder waits in the bar for the man the prostitute contacted, but he has seen through the ploy and breaks into the hotel room where Scully has the girl. Skinner arrives just in time to shoot the assassin before he can harm either Scully or the second prostitute. Skinner is reinstated, but can’t (won’t?) tell Mulder how he knew to go to the hotel. Despite the somewhat sloppy deus ex machine which resolved the story, this was quite an enjoyable episode. Skinner’s character has developed from the combative nemesis of his first appearance near the end of the first season to the stalwart ally he is at this point. He will eventually become arguably as important a part of the X-Files as either of the agents. In fact, the whole point of this very episode was that he has become a great part of the very thin membrane keeping the X-Files open and in business. CSM’s involvement in this attempt to eliminate Skinner speaks volumes to his importance as a defender of Mulder and Scully’s work. How else can the shadowy forces at play try to undermine and shut down the X-Files? Just how low could they possibly stoop? S3E22: “Quagmire” (w: Kim Newton/d: Kim Manners) Mulder and Scully enjoy a quiet getaway to a lake in Georgia. Nah, not really. A supposed lake monster locally known as “Big Blue” may or may not be tied to the deaths of people and animals around the lake. Mulder drags Scully to Georgia on short notice to look for the monster. The notice was short enough that she was forced to bring her dog Queequeg along with them, being unable to find anyone to watch him at the last minute. A biologist named William Bailey and a scout troop leader have disappeared, and Mulder believes that a Loch Ness-style plesiosaur-like monster is responsible. They meet with Bailey’s colleague Paul Farraday who has noticed a marked decrease in the lake’s frog population. The scout leader’s half-eaten body is soon found, lending credence to Mulder’s theory. That night, a bait store owner is wearing special boots to make fake monster footprints near the lake when he is attacked and killed, leaving only his boot embedded in the mud. Mulder presses to have the lake closed down, but the local sheriff tells him that he doesn’t have enough manpower to cover the lake’s forty-eight miles of shore line. Two teenagers (seen previously in “War of the Coprophages,” by the way) are attempting to get high by licking toads when their friend is attacked and beheaded by something in the lake. A photographer is also attacked and eaten. Finally, the sheriff agrees to close the lake. While Mulder examines photos from the latest victim’s camera, Scully takes Queequeg for an ill-fated walk. Sensing danger, Queequeg runs away from Scully and is last heard yelping in the distance. The agents rent a boat to go out on the lake. It is rather quickly struck by something large under the water and sinks. Mulder and Scully swim to a large rock jutting out of the lake’s surface and climb onto it to get out of the water. They don’t realize how close they are to shore until Farraday comes along, shining a flashlight from the wooded area just a few feet away. Farraday is attacked and Mulder chases the monster through the woods. He is able to shoot it, only to find that Big Blue, the killer lake monster was merely an alligator that had taken up residence in the lake. Disappointed, Mulder leaves, unaware of the large creature that briefly breaks the surface of the lake behind him and Scully. Alas, poor Queequeg, we hardly knew ye. Like your literary namesake, you are conscripted to the belly of an underwater beast. While the writing credit for this episode goes to Kim Newton, Darin Morgan gave an assist on the script, tipping his hand with several references to episodes he had previously written. While I can’t say for sure who was responsible for the dialogue between Mulder and Scully during the episode’s third act, I am willing to go on record as saying that this exchange is probably the best-written six minutes of the entire third season. A deep awareness of the characters synchronized perfectly with the comfort level shared between Duchovny and Anderson to create a fully realized moment between Mulder and Scully, strengthening their footing as real and true multi-dimensional characters. S3E23: “Wetwired” (w: Mat Beck/d: Rob Bowman) There’s a sort of delicious irony when a television show proposes the dangers of watching too much television. Probably the single most important feature of this episode was that it was able to add a dimensional facet to one of the series’ most enigmatic cyphers, the man we know only as X. Interestingly, the show’s Visual Effects Supervisor wrote this one. Upon reflection, I think that fact is evident in the interesting visual effect of the static shift that happens in various scenes throughout the episode. In Maryland, a man has attacked and killed five people, including his wife. The twist is that he has seen each of these five people as the same man when he attacked them. He even perceives the first responding police to be the same man when they arrive and attacks them. Mulder is tipped to the case by a new informant, credited only as the Plain-Clothed Man. At the man’s house, Mulder notices a cable company worker outside. Scully finds a trove of video tapes, all of news broadcasts. Scully spends the evening watching the tapes, believing he had suffered a psychological break after watching too many violent stories on the news. Taking a break, she goes to the hotel’s ice machine where she sees Mulder sitting in a car with Cigarette-Smoking Man, exchanging information. The next morning, a suspicious Scully asks Mulder why the car has been moved, to which he tells her that he went out for a newspaper earlier that morning. Another murder has occurred. This time a woman shot her husband when she caught him in the backyard hammock with a blonde. Except it wasn’t her husband, but the next door neighbor in his own yard. And the blonde was actually his golden retriever. When they get to the crime scene, Mulder notices the same cable repair guy that was at the first crime scene and tries unsuccessfully to catch him. Returning, Mulder finds a strange device wired into the cable of the woman’s house. While Scully slips into a state of crippling paranoia, her unwitting partner takes the device to his friends at the Lone Gunmen’s office. Upon analysis, they discover some sort of low-level signal embedded in the normal cable signal, but are unable to determine the specific contents of the signal. They think the signal is able to access subliminal parts of the viewer’s brain, allowing some level of mind control. Mulder thinks he was unaffected because he is blue/green color blind and the signal was based on color patterns. Mulder calls Scully, but she hears a click on the phone line and hangs up on him so that she can go all rock band on her room, tearing it apart looking for bugging devices. When a concerned Mulder arrives at her door, she shoots the door and escapes from the room. Later, local police contact Mulder to come identify a body they believe is his partner. Thankfully, it is not her. He tries to call Scully’s mother, but when she doesn’t answer he goes to visit. Which is where he finds a paranoid, delusional Scully. Mom talks Scully down and she goes to the hospital until she can get her head straight. Mulder believes that the signal is turning each person’s paranoid fears into full-blown dementia. When Mulder tries to contact the doctor of the man from the beginning of the episode, he cannot seem to track down the doctor. He finds the doctor’s hotel room, complete with Morley cigarettes in the room’s ashtray (you could smoke in a hotel room back then?). Phone records at the hotel lead Mulder to a house, where the doctor meets with the cable guy. Except before Mulder can enter to confront them, two gunshots ring out and both men are dead before Mulder can get to them. Mulder will learn that X was the shooter, but is unable to reach him. Maybe it’s because he’s too busy checking in with Cigarette Smoking Man. Wait. Whaaaaat?!? X answers to CSM? What the hell? This was supposed to be just a goofy monster of the week episode. What’s with the last-minute bombshell? So, what sort of game is X playing? Is he manipulating Mulder to serve the purposes of CSM and his Syndicate bosses, or is it the other way around? This would seem to explain X’s abundant paranoia. If he’s playing two sides, he picked two of the most widely divided sides imaginable, and no one is playing a more dangerous game. We’ve seen the powerful reach of the Syndicate, and I wouldn’t want to cross them, that’s for damn sure. And yet X has been surreptitiously feeding Mulder information for nearly two years now without detection. Even CSM, who knows and sees everything, isn’t able to tell for sure where Mulder’s information is originating. It’s a dangerous game, and X is just badass enough to play it. But no one can be lucky forever, right? S3E24: “Talitha Cumi” (w: David Duchovny & Chris Carter (story), Carter (teleplay)/d: R.W. Goodwin) The season finale kicks off a two-part story that will continue in season four’s opener, “Herrenvolk.” Much of the structure of this episode was suggested by Duchovny under the direct influence of Dostoyevsky, and in particular the Grand Inquisitor chapter of the Brothers Karamazov. As a nod, one might note the name of the fast food restaurant in the opening scene, “The Brothers K.” The title is Aramaic and is translated as “Little girl, get up!” They are the words of Jesus described in the book of Mark (5:41) when he resurrects a sickly child who had recently died. An increasingly agitated man sits in a fast food restaurant and vents his frustrations with the other patrons around him. Maybe he arrived at 10:32 and they had just finished serving breakfast. It’s hard to tell what sets him off, but he pulls a gun and threatens everyone. An employee is able to slip around a corner behind the counter and call 911. The arrival of the police outside sends him into a frenzy and he shoots three people before a police sniper shoots him in the chest. An older gentleman in the restaurant, who had been trying to reason with the man, puts his hands on the gunman’s chest and heals him. He also goes around and heals all of the other victims. By the time Mulder and Scully arrive to join the police investigation, the healer has disappeared. The detective on the scene claims that the man was standing in front of him, he looked down at his notebook to write something, and when he looked up the man was gone. One of the victims tells Scully in explicit detail about his gunshot wound and the miracle he was granted by the man who healed him. Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, Mulder’s mother meets with Cigarette Smoking Man in the long-abandoned Mulder family summer home. As if the fact of their meeting weren’t shocking enough, they argue and share several alarming moments of subtext and insinuation, all while being secretly photographed by an unknown observer. Sometime later, Mulder is told that his mother is in the hospital in Rhode Island, having suffered an apparent stroke. Mulder rushes to her side, and Scully joins him. Teena Mulder awakens for a moment and writes the word PALM on a note pad. Puzzled, Mulder takes it as a sign that the healer from the restaurant (and his miraculous palm) is her only hope of recovery. Sure it’s a stretch, but cut the guy a little slack. He just lost his dad last year and now this with his mom? It’s sure to wreak havoc with your deductive reasoning skills. The healer from the restaurant is at work at his job with the Social Security Administration when CSM arrives with a team of special business suited forces to take him into custody and lock him away in some sort of ultra-high security vault. Meanwhile, X visits Mulder to show him the photos he took of Teena and CSM, prompting Mulder to search the summer home for something. Even X doesn’t know exactly what he’s looking for, but assures him that it’s there. At the house, Mulder realizes that PALM is an anagram of the word LAMP. In her muddled post-stroke state, his mother’s cognitive and language abilities have suffered, it seems. Hidden inside one of the lamps, Mulder finds one of those whooshy switchblade weapons that the shapeshifting alien bounty hunter carried around to kill hybrids during the earlier “Colony” and “End Game” two-parter. Scully is busy too, as she accidentally meets someone who looks exactly like the healer and claiming to be Jeremiah Smith trying to enter the J. Edgar Hoover building. He says he wants to turn himself in to clear up whatever confusion has arisen that has put his face on the news. When the agents interrogate him, he seems to have no memory of the incident in the restaurant. At the same time, CSM is interrogating his prisoner, the other Jeremiah Smith. It seems that this particular shape-shifter has decided to cut bait on the Syndicate’s projects, and morphs into the forms of Deep Throat and Bill Mulder in order to attempt to drive his argument home to CSM. His coup de grace comes in the form of a lung cancer diagnosis offered to CSM. The second “Smith”, after being questioned by the agents, slips away to find and kill the first one in his cell, but when he gets there, the other “Smith” is gone. Mulder goes back to the hospital to check on his mother’s condition and bumps into CSM lurking in the hallway. Mulder attacks the man he holds responsible for his mother’s condition, holding him at gunpoint. CSM tells Mulder that he was meeting with his mother to discuss the whereabouts of his sister Samantha. Mulder backs down and leaves. In the hospital parking garage, X materializes and asks Mulder for the alien-killing stiletto, but Mulder just ain’t selling. They fight. Geez, Mulder, is there anyone you’re not going to fight with in this episode? While all of this is happening, Scully has kept her nose to the grindstone and uncovered the fact that there are many Jeremiah Smiths working for Social Security offices all over the country. What’s even stranger is the fact that all of the Jeremiah Smiths that she has been able to find are identical in appearance to the one she’s met. Speak of the devil, and he will appear, right? The Jeremiah Smith that CSM questioned (I think) enlists Scully’s protection and she calls Mulder, who has now convinced himself that the healing power of one of these shape-shifters is the key to getting his mother out of her coma. When Mulder arrives on the scene, however, the alien bounty hunter (who was the one posing as Jeremiah Smith at the FBI building) appears as well, threatening him, Scully, and especially Jeremiah Smith. What stands out the most with this episode is how it very economically showed us the first signs of tarnish on CSM’s typically spotless veneer. Clearly, his bosses are not thrilled with his work. He hasn’t had the best year, what with the disappearance of the highly sensitive digital tape, his reassurances of its destruction along with thorn-in-the-side Alex Krychek, then its subsequent resurfacing (along with Krychek – oops, sorry, boss). This black-lunged bastard is facing some serious karma, logging Nixon White House-level damage control hours. And then this situation comes along and seems likely to blow up in his (and possibly the entire Syndicate’s) face. While the specifics of his involvement aren’t entirely clear yet by the end of this installment, what should be clear is that he is showing, for the first time, something resembling human-like emotional attachment to Teena Mulder, and it is affecting his decision-making and possibly even his loyalties. There is an increasing panic driving this man, and that can only lead to desperate acts next season. This finale serves more as a lead-in to the fourth season than it does a conclusion to the third. The beginning of the fourth season officially launches what I like think of as the “sympathy for the Devil” portion of our program, but we’ll get to that as we dig into season four. See larger image The X-Files: Season 3 New From: $17.87 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.