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. S8E8: “Surekill” (w: Greg Walker/d: Terrence O’Hara) Well, it could have been better, but it certainly could have been worse. This episode’s strength is its fairly simple little neo-noir story. Unfortunately, the characters could really stand to be developed a bit. Another highlight is the energy brought to the set by Robert Patrick. Not only has he fully settled into his role by this point, but one of the guest stars for this episode was one of his biker buddies. Namely, the phenomenally accomplished Michael Bowen, who is recognized for being in several Tarantino films, a Godfather movie, countless other films and television shows, but is quite possibly best known in my household as Tommy from Valley Girl (“He’s got the bod, but his brains are bad news.”). A man named Carlton Chase is running from someone. He ducks into a Worcester, Massachusetts police station demanding protection. The police put him in a holding cell to calm down, but he is shot in the head while the officers look on in wonder. Scully and Doggett arrive to find that the bullet which killed Chase was fired by a gunman standing on the roof of the station. He would have fired through the roof, duct work, and ceiling of the holding cell with an armor piercing bullet in order to hit Chase. In other words, an impossibly lucky shot. Tammi Payton, an employee of the AAA-1 Surekill Exterminators, arrives at work to find a frantic message on the business’ answering machine from Carlton Chase. She hastily deletes the message when her boss (and boyfriend) Dwight walks into the room. She surreptitiously closes and locks a desk drawer as well, leaving a ledger inside. She tells Dwight about Chase’s murder, and he goes to find his brother. Dwight tells Randall that he wishes he would consult him before doing things. Randall remains stoic in response to his brother’s chiding. At Carlton Chase’s house, the agents find that the house is riddled with bullet holes. Scully theorizes that their killer might be able to see through walls somehow. In Chase’s records, they find extensive bills paid to Surekill Exterminators. While it would not be completely unusual for a real estate guy like Chase to employ the services of an exterminator service, the billings are unusually high. The agents decide to pay a visit to the exterminator’s office. They play divide and conquer with Dwight and Tammi, but are unable to get any definitive leads. After they leave, Dwight and Tammi have a heated discussion about her dealings with Chase before she goes home to her apartment. While Tammi undresses and destresses from her day, Randall sits in the neighboring apartment, watching her with his ability to see through walls. It’s every ounce as creepy as it sounds. The next morning, Tammi gets to the office early to finally remove the ledger from the locked drawer. Unfortunately for her, Dwight and Randall were up even earlier, had time for coffee, then got to work in time to catch her with her mysterious box. As they begin to accuse her of… well, something to do with that box, dammit, the FBI appears to prove that they were up and at work earlier even than the brothers. They’ve had their coffee, a biscuit sandwich, and been to see a judge about a warrant. Your tax money at work. Tammi is surprised when they open the box and the ledger is missing. Dwight professes the sanctity of his business dealings, but Scully presents a file folder with all of his dealings with Chase. Doggett and Scully separate the brothers to interrogate them, but Scully notices that Randall is repeating his brother’s words by reading his lips through the wall. They both claim to be nothing more than simple exterminators. Later, it would appear Tammi and Randall are planning to run away together, but Tammi needs to retrieve her stash of money first. She drops Randall at the bus station to wait for her. Doggett finds phone records of Tammi and Carlton Chase’s late-night shenanigans (it’s scientifically proven that most actual shenanigans happen because of illicit late-night booty calls), and also discovers that she had recently called the bus station. After her stop at the bank, Tammi returns to her car to find Dwight sitting in the back seat with a gun. He realizes that his brother had killed Chase out of jealousy, since he and Tammi had been having a secret affair. Never mind that they were also cooking the company books together, allowing her to embezzle thousands of dollars from the business over the years. Dwight orders his brother to kill her and before leaving the warehouse where he’s brought Tammi. He leaves Randall to do the job and goes outside. Randall, in a fit of emotional conflict, fires the gun past the cowering Tammi and through the wall to his brother waiting outside. Randall is caught, but Tammi is in the wind. There’s something about this episode that feels like a science fiction version of Of Mice and Men. Imagine how many bunnies could have lived if Lenny had been able to spend his time sitting in the yard watching Curly’s wife change into her nightgown every night. It plays almost like noir, with its doomed, physically flawed anti-heroes and loyalty-shifting femme fatale. It’s not the best episode of an otherwise mostly strong season, but it’s well-produced and effective. S8E9: “Salvage” (w: Jeffrey Bell/d: Rod Hardy) This episode has its roots in the 1989 Japanese horror flick Tetsuo: The Iron Man, which was a quietly disturbing bit of cyberpunk filmmaking. It even spawned a couple of sequels. Some of the elements are somewhat reminiscent of Robert Patrick’s performance as the T-1000 in Terminator 2. However, surprisingly, Bell had planned and written most of the episode before Patrick was even cast for this season. The achingly meta exchange between Scully and Doggett in reference to this similarity was added to the script just before filming. Muncie, Indiana needs to crack down on its jaywalking statutes. Curtis Delgado, on his way home from comforting his friend Ray’s recent widow, hits a man in the middle of the street. The front end of his car wraps itself around the man, who Delgado recognizes as his dead friend Ray. Ray remains unharmed by the collision. But that’s not really the weird thing. Just after a dazed Delgado recognizes him, Ray reaches through the windshield and pulls the driver out by planting his fingers and thumb through his skull like a bowling ball. When Scully and Doggett investigate the scene the following morning, Nora Pearce (Ray’s widow) rushes to ask them what happened to Curtis. Scully finds the man’s body stuffed into a nearby trash can. Doggett discovers a bloody fingerprint with what turns out to be Ray’s blood, which leads him to Nora. When he arrives at the Pearce residence, he meets Harry Odell, who had been Ray’s boss at the salvage yard where he worked. Nora assures Doggett that she watched her husband die. Later, Ray visits the salvage yard and finds his former boss shredding documents. Odell shoots him (which would probably get him out of needing to pay out on his pension, thus really just making a play that really shows his good business sense), but Ray begins regenerating his severed arm with a new metal one. Not shiny smooth metal like Colussus from the X-Men, though. Think of it as more like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz if he was totally ripped, accidentally became magnetized, walked through a room full of metal shavings, then stuck his arm into the garbage disposal in the Emerald Palace kitchen. Ray kills his boss. The next morning, Doggett identifies one of the documents that Odell had been shredding was in reference to a project at Chamber Technologies regarding “smart metals.” When Doggett mentions the smart metals to Scully, she informs him that Ray Pearce’s medical records had indicated an unknown substance in his system which was affecting him at the cellular level. That afternoon, a volunteer at the halfway house recognizes Ray from his obituary and the stories on the news. She calls Nora to tell her that Ray had been staying there for a couple of nights. Realizing that they are facing a vengeful metal man, they begin devising ways to stop him. Eventually, they arrive at a solution to their problem, but after luring him into a magnetically-sealed chamber, he just busts out through the back wall of the holding cell like Kool-Aid Man wrapped in barbed wire and tin foil. Nora is waiting for him at the halfway house, where he tells her that he couldn’t bring himself home with his condition. Also, he vows vengeance upon “the men who did this.” At the salvage yard, Doggett finds sealed waste barrels from Chamber Technologies, so he kicks one over and opens it. Inside is a man completely made of metal (perhaps Ray is actually “Tetsuo II: Body Hammer”?) and an unknown silvery liquid. Scully and Doggett question one of the doctors at Chamber about the body in the barrel and learn that it was one of the doctors on the smart metal project. His body was disposed of in order to keep the project alive. The barrel had been disposed of in the salvage yard, where Ray had been accidentally exposed to it and infected. Meanwhile, surprisingly plucky Nora Pearce sneaks into the Chamber Tech offices to learn how the barrel came to be at the salvage yard where her husband had worked. Back home, Ray stops by to see Nora and discuss their options, what with several of his body parts turning to sharp, ragged metal. She gives him the name of the Chamber employee who shipped the barrel with the doctor’s infected metallic body in it. Ray goes to visit the guy and his family, but has a change of heart once he realizes that the dude is just an accountant who made a clerical error in sending the barrel to the wrong disposal center. Oops. My bad, dude. We good? Ray wanders off to simultaneously die and start a sculpture garden. Or something like that. Despite some really cool imagery (particularly the first post-opening credits scene depicting the aftermath of the car crash) this episode was really hard to swallow. The twists and turns felt like a ride along a mountain road in a broken-down Roadmaster in need of a brake job. The urgency of the situation is just sort of flat. The agents are motivated to solve the case, but one would expect a higher level of terror from the man who is watching his body slowly evolve into a metal monster. While the attempt at a shave using wire cutters made for an interesting bit of cinema, I have a hard time accepting that the increasingly homicidal metal man would use personal grooming as his grasp on humanity. Still, I suppose until you walk a mile in another man’s steel-toed boots, right? S8E10: “Badlaa” (w: John Shiban/d: Tony Wharmby) In early December of 1984, the central Indian city of Bhopal received the dubious distinction of being the site of the worst industrial accident in human history. Half a million people in the surrounding area were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas after an incident at a Union Carbide pesticide plant located in the city. Though estimates vary greatly, anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000 people died within the first two weeks after the disaster, and another 8,000 fell to diseases related to the exposure. The actual cause of the disaster has never been fully determined. The Indian government accused the plant management of poor maintenance, while the Union Carbide people called it an act of sabotage. While the disaster Scully mentions in this episode is considerably smaller and fictional, it was most certainly based in large part upon this terrible event in Indian history, one which could have assuredly instilled in even the holiest of fakirs a desire to seek “badlaa” (or revenge) upon those perceived as responsible. This episode guest stars Deep Roy, who has most assuredly passed through all of our screens at some point or another. His widely varied actor’s resume is prolific, to say the least. If nothing else, you know him as (I kid you not) Droopy McCool the woodwind-playing member of Max Rebo’s band performing on Jabba’s sail barge during his bi-weekly “feed the Sarlacc” parties (“Hey, we’ll be here long past the sun sets! Try the Bantha steak and don’t forget to tip your droids!”). He was also every single Oompa Loompa in Tim Burton’s version of Willy Wonka movie. Personally, my favorite Deep Roy appearance was as the unstable Mr. Sin (alternatively, and perhaps preferably, known as The Peking Homunculus) from the revered Tom Baker era of Doctor Who. As an obese American businessman wends his way through the crowd outside of the airport in Mumbai, India, he is approached by a legless beggar on a rolling platform. He tosses change at the silent figure in the least charitable way possible then goes to spend a few minutes stress-testing the weight capacity of one of the toilets in the restroom. The beggar wheels himself into the bathroom and somehow attacks the man who outweighs him by, like, fifteen times his weight. We’ll discover later what, exactly, he does. Trust me, gentle reader, we want to put off that revelation as long as possible. Upon his arrival back in America, the full-bodied gentleman checks into a Washington, DC-area hotel during a twenty hour layover on his way home. After checking in and stiffing the bellhop for a tip, he settles on the bed and proceeds to bleed out through his orifices. Even his eyeballs fill with blood. It’s about as nasty as it sounds. But wait, it gets worse. Scully and Doggett examine the crime scene and see a child-sized handprint. In what would seem to be an unrelated scene, a mute white man lands a job as a custodian at an elementary school in Maryland. Again, we’ll get back to that. Scully, having performed an autopsy on Jabba, has determined that much of the bleeding was due to the violent extraction of something rather large through the poor guy’s anus. She and Doggett speculate that the man could have been a drug mule done horribly wrong, but there is no trace of drugs in the man’s system. The truly curious fact is that Scully’s best guess at a time of death is sometime just before he boarded his flight to come back to America. Quinton is a student at the elementary school in Maryland. At night, he thinks he sees a small legless man in the corner of his room, but by the time his father enters the room the corner is empty. His father offers reassurances and goes back downstairs where he abruptly screams like a little girl. Quinton goes downstairs to find his dad dead in his chair. When Scully arrives at the morgue to examine Quinton’s dad’s body, she is puzzled at the man’s extremely distended abdomen. Abandoning procedure, she begins her examination by performing a C-section on the man. After he first cut, however, she jumps when hands begin groping their way out of the man’s stomach. By the time she has recovered her senses, Quinton’s dad’s midsection has been torn open and emptied. She follows a bloody trail through the morgue, but finds only an empty closet at the end of the trail. As she turns to walk away from the vacant space, the little Indian man watches her retreat. Back at school early the next morning, Trevor (who will likely go on to be voted “most likely to become a Fox news commentator” in this year’s yearbook) sees through the new custodian’s disguise to the fakir faker (you know I’ve been waiting this entire time to use that), but can’t reconcile what he’s seeing. Instead, he goes to Quinton’s house and tries to convince the kid he was bullying just a day earlier that he’s figured out some of the mystery surrounding his father’s death. Scully and Doggett meet with Mulder’s old friend Chuck Burks, who should probably have had his own spinoff show, now that I think about it. He gives them a crash course on Indian mysticism and the purported abilities of some holy fakirs to alter the perceptions of the people around them so that they can appear as someone else or just be invisible. Scully tells Doggett about an industrial accident that killed hundreds of people in the vicinity of Mumbai, and how an American-owned company was generally blamed for the disaster. She speculates that someone has ridden in the rotund corpse of the businessman into the country and is now performing terroristic acts to punish America for its crimes against his country. Or something like that. Trevor, on his way from school, hears the squeaky wheels of the beggar following him, and runs the rest of the way home. In a turn of events that could have been the GREATEST AfterSchool Special EVER, Quentin and his bully Trevor set aside their differences to battle the 33-pound legless Indian beggar in their school’s science lab. Scully arrives at the critical moment and shoots the fakir, even though he appears to her as the custodian. A couple of weeks later, the same legless beggar is seen at the Mumbai airport eyeing the rectum of overweight American businessmen. Does anyone know the Urdu word for “thinner”? Because I swear I thought that was the direction the teaser was going. Well, until the scene in the bathroom. Once the full implications of that scene were revealed, I began to wonder about the Urdu equivalent of “ew, that’s gnarly.” This is a suitably creepy episode, and I consider it to be a pretty good one. My only issue is one of motive (actually, the lack thereof). Are we to believe this little fakir is wheeling around scattershot targeting American businessmen? It would seem to be the implication. It wouldn’t have taken much to establish the initial victim as a representative of the parent company responsible for the disaster. Once in America, he could have started moving through the former employees of the company responsible for the deaths. But no. He chooses to harass a couple of middle school kids. Also, to be clear, Shiban had originally conceived the antagonist of this episode as being able to shrink himself down and gain control of his subject by entering his or her ear. But Chris Carter suggested a different idea. Yeah, thanks for that mental image, Boss Carter. Dude’s got a dark side. S8E11: “The Gift” (w: Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners) Frank Spotnitz begins a run of six straight writing credits with this episode. Granted, three of those are co-credits with Chris Carter, but his pen is a sure sign that it’s time to start digging ourselves out of this rut of monster-of-the-week episodes (as enjoyable as most of them have been) and begin to get down to the business of moving the show’s mythology forward. This episode doesn’t exactly serve that purpose, but even though a stand-alone story, it serves as a reminder of Mulder’s state just before his abduction. He was secretly dying of a disease in his brain, brought on by both the exposure to alien cryptography from an alien ship washed ashore on Cote d’Ivoire and the same brain surgery that incapacitated Cigarette Smoking Man last season. This story will begin a narrative that will last for the next several episodes. A man bursts into a remotely-located house and shoots some sort of primitive man while the homeowners (a man and woman) look on in horror. When the man leaves the house to return to his car, he is revealed to be Fox Mulder. This event from the spring of 2000, just before Mulder’s abduction, leads Doggett to a wooded community in central Pennsylvania as part of his ongoing assignment to locate the missing agent. The local sheriff tells Doggett that Mulder was there handling a case involving a resident named Marie Hangemuhl. A flashback shows that Mulder’s investigation had been somewhat self-serving, as he was chasing down rumors of a Native American legend living in the area which could cure diseases. Doggett arrives at the Hangemuhl’s house (the same one Mulder had visited guns a-blazing in the beginning of the episode). He learns that Marie uses a dialysis machine because she is suffering the end stages of renal failure. He also notices three small holes that have been plastered over on the wall. Doggett returns to DC and lets himself into Mulder’s apartment. After most likely killing Mulder’s fish with the amount of food he pours into the tank, he searches the apartment and finds a pistol taped under the kitchen sink. Back in Squamash, some locals dig through a stone circle in the cemetery with a backhoe. Later, the townspeople arrive on the doorstep of the local weird cat lady (minus the cats) where they demand that someone (something?) come out to play. The primitive-looking man tries to slip out the back door of witchy woman’s cabin, but he is captured. Skinner joins Doggett for the return trip to Squamash. Doggett had presented Skinner with Mulder’s hidden weapon, which was missing three rounds to match the holes in the wall at the Hangemuhl’s place. In the interest of getting to the bottom of this story while protecting Scully from any fallout, the two men choose not to involve her in this investigation. Doggett has reached the conclusion that Mulder had mistakenly killed a transient and covered it up in his report. He and Skinner visit the graveyard where the guy had been buried after Mulder’s departure, only to find the grave already dug up. Even stranger, it would appear that whoever had been buried in the coffin had tunneled his way out through the bottom of the grave before it was dug up. Meanwhile, the sheriff delivers the primitive guy to the Hangemuhl home, where Marie is stripped naked and waiting on the living room rug. Mr. Hangemuhl and the sheriff leave, allowing the creature to begin devouring Marie. Later, the creature is seen in some sort of cavern, regurgitating into a hole dug in the shape of a person. In the words of Garth Algar, “Dude, if you’re gonna spew, spew into this.” Party on, Garth. Of course, Wayne Campbell also offered the sage advice “If you blow chunks and she comes back, she’s yours.” I don’t really think that has anything to do with what’s going on here, but at this point I’m so lost in this story that I’m daydreaming. Let’s press on and see if this starts to make some sort of sense. Doggett goes to see the hermit woman in the woods where he learns a bit more about this so-called “soul eater” and the pity Mulder had developed for it. As it devoured the infirmities of others, healing them, it was taking their pain upon itself. Mulder had come hoping for it to cure him, but instead had tried to euthanize the long-suffering creature. Doggett finds a trap door in the cabin leading down into the cavern where the soul eater had been soul puking earlier. In the human shaped hole, he finds Marie Hangemuhl covered in goo, but fully restored. At the hospital, the doctors confirm that her kidneys have been restored from the verge of complete renal failure. Doggett rushes back to the hippie woman’s house where he finds the creature suffering the pain of Marie Hangemuhl’s kidney problems. He tries to remove it, but some of the townspeople arrive to stop him. They’ve all been using this poor critter as their community health insurance policy and are willing to kill to keep it around. Unfortunately for Doggett, that’s not hyperbole. One of the townspeople fires his shotgun into Doggett’s chest, killing him. They hastily bury him in the woods. An indeterminate amount of time later, Doggett wakes up in the person-shaped hole in the cavern. The old woman crouches over the creature nearby. She tells Doggett that it has taken his death. Back at the office, Doggett struggles to type up his report. Skinner arrives and encourages him to drop it. While I enjoyed this episode on its own merits, I must admit to a couple of head-scratching nits that should probably be picked. For one thing, the concept of the soul eater is more of a construct of African folklore, not Native American. In fact, the idea of a soul eater is much less beneficial, leaving its victims empty soulless husks. I can find no record of such creatures being considered consumers of disease or in any way healing. Another issue (and a minor one) is that there is a glancing reference to the Lakota tribe, but the Lakota were never located anywhere near Pennsylvania, where this story takes place. It would be much more likely to be Shawnee or possibly Iroquois legends being explored in this region. I’m not trying to detract from the content of this episode, as it is an otherwise strong albeit slow-burning story, but attempting to tie into a folkloric legend thusly serves to strain my suspension of disbelief. This would be the last episode of the series to not include Gillian Anderson, but her absence is perfectly understandable. We’ve come to know Doggett as a consummate professional yet unbendingly compassionate man, and his decision to only involve AD Skinner in this case typifies that characterization. Because of the possibly questionable implications of his investigation, it seems reasonable that he would seek to shield her from it until it became necessary to tell her. Fortunately, Mulder’s actions were understandable, so Doggett saw no real reason to implicate Scully. For Skinner, Doggett’s investigation is also a peek into the state of Mulder and Scully’s relationship just prior to Mulder’s abduction. It has to occur to him that Scully, once a rising, unwaveringly by-the-book agent similar to Doggett, has now come to unblinkingly sign off on doctored reports for her partner (and lover). While he understands and respects his two pet agents, this sort of revelation must make his shorts itch at least a little bit. In the end, he and Doggett are able to experience first-hand the kind of day-to-day decisions faced by Mulder and Scully when they conspire to keep silent about their case. Their motivation was the protection of Agent Scully’s career and not their own, but the impact is not lost on John Doggett. As has been frequently said, he’s on a fast track for the director’s office at the FBI. But he must be realizing that his assignment here in this basement office was a Machiavellian move on someone’s part to contain his rise through the ranks. Even though I know he’s busy with his show Scorpion to appear, I secretly hope that in the new series next year there’s some reference to “Deputy Director Doggett” or even “Director Doggett.” I’m a sucker for happy endings. Sue me. S8E12: “Medusa” (w: Frank Spotnitz/d: Richard Compton) For this episode, a reproduction of a section of the Boston subway tunnels was constructed on a soundstage, consuming a massive amount of the season’s budget. Robert Patrick was quoted as saying it was “the biggest damned thing I’d seen in my life.” And this was coming from a guy who had worked on a James Cameron flick. Ken Jenkins’ guest appearance on this episode just proves that Dr. Kelso is a prick, no matter what form he takes. A transit cop stands on a Boston subway platform waiting to be attacked by some shady guy. He boards an empty car, but shady guy boards with him. Just as they are probably going to confront each other, the train hits the brakes, sending them both flying. At the next stop along the line, some new passengers board to find the transit cop’s body half eaten away by some mysterious means. The shady guy is nowhere to be found. Scully and Doggett arrive to help with the investigation, but are told that they only have four hours to get the line reopened for the trains to run in time for the afternoon rush hour. Deputy Chief Karras and Lieutenant Bianco of the transit authority treat the agents’ presence on the scene with something just short of contempt. Scully decides she would serve the investigation best from the command center, so long as Doggett is equipped with a portable camera and headset so they can stay in constant communication. Doggett leads a team consisting of structural engineer Steven Melnick, CDC pathologist Dr. Hellura Lyle, and Lieutenant Bianco. Before they’re in the tunnel for very long, Melnick suffers a strange burn on the back of his neck. A test of the contents of a puddle shows nothing more than seawater. Melnick explains that the tunnels occasionally leak water from Boston Harbor, and that it is not out of the ordinary to find seawater in the subway tunnels. They discover an abandoned section of the tunnel, where Doggett is attacked by the shady guy from the opening sequence. But he collapses, his flesh eaten away like that of the transit cop. They also find bodies with similar deterioration wrapped in plastic. It becomes apparent that someone is covering something up here in the tunnels. Dr. Lyle sees a shadow of a person running away from them in the main tunnel and the team gives chase. Before they get very far, Melnick collapses. The burn on his neck has spread down over his exposed arms, and has begun to burn away his flesh, all the way down to the bones. Dr. Lyle stays to help Melnick while Doggett and Bianco pursue the shadow. Scully arranges for the CDC to collect Melnick and Lyle, despite Karras’ attempts to contain (cover up) the situation. In the tunnels, Doggett notices that Bianco has developed a green glow. He and Scully determine that they are dealing with some sort of contagion, possibly a form of biological warfare. Scully meets with a marine biologist who tells her that the sample of seawater from the tunnel contains tiny bioluminescent creatures known as medusas. Doggett and Bianco catch up with their shadow guy, which turns out to be a mute kid. He becomes their guide to the Boston subway tunnels, leading them through a maintenance room where the seawater has been leaking through for some time, making the room glow green like code from the Matrix. Scully realizes that sweat is the agent that turns the glowing medusas into flesh-eating organisms, and that the boy has not been affected because his sweat glands aren’t as developed at the adults. Meanwhile, Karrack has decided to get the trains running. Doggett tucks the boy and Bianco into an alcove away from an approaching subway train, then uses the Lieutenant’s gun and the subway’s third rail to electrocute the medusas as the train passes. When next we see Doggett, he is recovering in a hospital ward. Scully informs him that Melnick is undergoing plastic surgery, Lyle is going to be fine, and Bianco is recovering as well. The deus ex machina is in the hands of social services, and Karrick is above reproach since Doggett destroyed any evidence of the medusas with his third rail electrocution stunt. Way to go, Doggett. So, as long as you can dismiss the disconnectedness of the opening teaser from the story’s resolution and the surrealism of the mute boy’s role as the deus ex machina for the story, this could be considered a pretty tense little thriller. Truthfully, there’s a real comfort in this type of X-File. Remember all the other times when Mulder and Scully were confined in a remote location with a small group of different personalities and some sort of mysterious threat (“Ice,” “Darkness Falls,” et al)? This twist on that story can only serve as a sure sign that Scully and Doggett are beginning to solidify into a working partnership. The more things change, the more they remain the same, you know? This episode was like wrapping up in a warm and cozy episode from one of the earlier seasons. Except this time, we were treated to the heroics of John Doggett. He very much lives up to his reputation as an exceedingly above-par agent in this adventure. He somehow walks that fine line between taking orders and showing initiative throughout the episode. Special Agent John Doggett may be stumbling blind through the X-Files, but his instincts are good and he is proving to be a more accepting partner to Scully than she was to Mulder in the early years of their partnership. S8E13: “Per Manum” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners) Carter and Spotnitz took a moment with this episode to retcon their show just a bit through a series of flashbacks between Scully and Mulder. While serving as a final coda to Scully’s anxiety resulting as fallout from her abduction, it also served as a realization of her worst fears for Mulder. The pervasiveness of the paranoia in this episode ratchets up to a level we haven’t felt in several seasons, and might even settle just short of the impossibly high bar set at the moment Deep Throat is executed in the season one finale. This episode would also introduce the character of Knowle Rohrer, played by the epically awesome Adam Baldwin, who had been on the short list not far behind Robert Patrick when casting the role of John Doggett. We’ll be seeing more of Rohrer. “Per manum,” while sounding like a classy title for the episode, is Latin for “by hand.” Considering the content of the flashbacks, particularly the way Mulder played his part (hey, Beavis, he said “played his part” hehheh heh heh heh) in the proceedings, this title would seem to be something of a double entendre. Kathy McCready is about to under an emergency C-section because of a complication during her labor. The doctor demands that her husband leave the ward to scrub before the operation, but as soon as he leaves one of the Nurses locks the door to the delivery room and a visibly extraterrestrial infant is born. An indeterminate amount of time later, Haskell meets with Doggett and Scully to tell them about his dead wife. She had been a multiple abductee, dealt with cancer before going into sudden remission, then become unexpectedly pregnant before dying during childbirth where she supposedly delivered an alien baby. Scully dismisses Haskell quickly, but Doggett is surprised. Without yet knowing about Scully’s pregnancy, he connected enough of Haskell’s story with events in the X-Files around Scully’s abduction to think she’d be interested in the case. Sometimes it’s easy to see why we haven’t seen Doggett dating at all since his introduction on the show. She soon betrays her seeming disinterest in Haskell’s story by visiting a fertility center he had mentioned, called Zeus Genetics (When you don’t mind being impregnated by a shape-shifting non-human, call Zeus! “Not only am I Zeus’ sister, I’m a client!” –Hera, co-founder; “Ask about the Swan package! You won’t regret it!” –Leda, satisfied client). While snooping around, Scully finds a room generously appointed with jars full of deformed alien-like fetuses. Somewhere, there’s an institutional decorator wondering why his phone doesn’t ring so often since that Zeus gig. A doctor in the clinic catches her, but she tells him that she’s there to drive one of the patients home. Smooth, Scully. As she leaves the clinic, she experiences a flashback which details how she, upon learning that her ova had been harvested and locked in a file drawer which may or may not have been destroyed by a rampaging alien bounty hunter (you know, that old chestnut), requested a second opinion about her baby-making volatility from a Dr. Parenti. He is optimistic, telling her that conception might be possible using in vitro fertilization, as long as she can find a sperm donor. Three guesses who she decides to ask… In the present day, Scully calls Dr. Parenti to ask him to compare her ultrasound with the one Haskell had given them when he visited the office. She visits him later, where she receives all of the doctor’s reassurances that everything is fine and normal about her baby. However, during her visit, she sees Parenti talking to another doctor she recognizes from her visit to Zeus Genetics. The other doctor’s name is Dr. Lev. Meanwhile, Skinner and Doggett spend a little quality time with Haskell, asking him about some threatening letters he had sent to both Mulder and Dr. Lev. With nothing tangible to hold him with, Haskell is released. On his way out of the building, he calls Dr. Lev to warn him that Skinner and Doggett are sniffing around his canned fetus collection. Doggett runs Haskell’s fingerprints and finds that they belong to a serviceman who had supposedly died thirty years earlier. Suspecting Haskell to be a spook (the CIA kind, not the X-Files kind), Doggett contacts an old Marine buddy of his named Knowle Rohrer to learn the man’s true identity, using his influence in the Department of Defense. Elsewhere, someone Scully had seen during her field trip to Zeus Genetics, a visibly pregnant woman named Mary Hendershot, finds Scully and asks for her help. According to Hendershot, both of their babies are in danger. She meets with Skinner and Doggett to inform them that she is taking an indefinite leave of absence before whisking Hendershot away to an Army hospital. Once there, the doctors make plans to induce Hendershot’s labor in an effort to save her life from the alien thing growing inside of her. While she’s waiting, Scully asks them to perform an ultrasound on her. Scully just loves that cold blue jelly on her tummy. The doctor assures her that everything is normal, but once she’s left alone with the monitor, Scully realizes that she was watching an old video tape of a perfectly normal ultrasound. Her Scully-sense tingles and she tries to escape the hospital, despite Hendershot’s increasing labor pains. As they exit the elevator into the parking garage, Knowle Rohrer and a team of men in black (DoD guys, for sure) scoop the two women into an SUV and escape. Before they get far down the road, Hendershot’s contractions go from increasing in frequency to OH MY GOD GET THIS THING OUT OF ME. Rohrer’s men stop the car and deliver the baby. While the baby is being delivered, Rohrer refuses to let Scully anywhere near Hendershot before drugging her. Scully awakens in the hospital where Doggett tells her that Hendershot’s baby was healthy and normal. Scully calls bullshit. She saw and heard enough before succumbing to the comfortable numbness to know that the baby born in the back of that SUV was anything but normal. She realizes, however, that the cover-up is hopelessly impenetrable. She flashes back again to the moment she came home to tell Mulder that the fertilization didn’t take, destroying any hope she might have had for becoming a mother. Mulder tells her to never give up on a miracle, which he most likely twisted into some sort of obscene proposition soon after the cameras stopped rolling. This is actually the pivotal fifth season episode we never got to see. At least, that’s where I generally place the flashback sequences in this episode. We know it occurs after season four’s “Memento Mori” wherein Mulder finds Scully’s ova among the others stored in the Ova Storage Filing Cabinets. Likewise, it would seem to be sometime before the dissolution of the X-Files unit and their partnership at the end of the fifth season. I’m just throwing guesses, but that puts these flashbacks somewhere in the vicinity of “The Post-Modern Prometheus.” Consider for a moment that the very next episode began of the two-parter in which Scully discovers little Emily, who may or may not have been born using her harvested ova. Remember her inconsolable mania once she began to even remotely suspect the nature of the girl’s conception? What about Mulder’s quiet alarm at her emotional state when he arrives to find her bonding with the girl? Reviewing those two episodes, it seems perfectly reasonable that these flashbacks would have taken place either just before or just after the agents met The Great Mutato. Just my theory. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response John E. Meredith December 14, 2015 A huge shout-out to Rick Shingler for these incredible X-FILES recaps. They are very well-done, all-encompassing, and generally awesome. I’m aware of how much time and effort goes into these things and just wanted it to be said . . . your work is appreciated. Truth is out there, dude. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.