Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Season 11, Episode 10: My Struggle, Part IV


William recalls his upbringing, the development of his powers, and how he foolishly clued the Syndicate in to his abilities by playing a dumb prank on his girlfriends. He says he wants to find answers, perhaps from his mother but mostly from his father, who is indeed the Cigarette-Smoking Man. Somewhere else, CSM confronts and shoots Mulder.

Kersh, enraged that Mulder has gone on the record to Tad O'Malley about CSM's plan to release a contagion against humanity, plans to shut down the X-Files and suspend Mulder and Scully. CSM calls Skinner, demanding that he find William; Skinner asks if he'll stop the contagion if he does, but CSM doesn't make a promise.

Fifteen hours earlier, Agent Reyes contacts the agents to say that William has been picked up in Tennessee and is being transported to Maryland. She says that the person who controls William will control the future. Scully isn't sure she can trust Reyes, but doesn't stop Mulder from chasing the lead.

Mulder confronts Syndicate member Mr. Y, who says they weren't able to capture William and that the boy "has what everybody wants." He then pulls a gun on Mulder, so Mulder is forced to kill him before he can learn any more.

Scully finds that several people have won the lottery within a 10-mile radius in Tennessee, and figures that's how the Syndicate was able to find William. Mulder finds surveillance footage of William in the store that sold the ticket and begins to pursue him, unaware that a tracker has been placed on his car.

Scully lets O'Malley know about how an alien pathogen designed to decimate humanity is about to be unleashed, allowing Mulder to be his source for the information. Scully has a vision of Mulder's death and tries unsuccessfully to warn him. William, who has made it to Norfolk and is despondent about living on the run, ponders suicide and begs one of his girlfriends to help him. She agrees, but winds up letting Mulder know the motel William is staying at.

Mulder meets with William, who is reluctant to accept Mulder's help since he thinks he's a danger to those around him. William leaves Mulder behind after vaporizing a group of Syndicate pursuers. When Mulder lets Scully know, she vows to meet with him, figuring he'll listen to her. Skinner decides to help her, and lets her know how CSM is William's father.

William's other girlfriend lets him know another one of his likely hiding places at the harbor and he heads there, followed by Scully and Skinner after they spot his car. Skinner spots CSM and Reyes and manages to shoot Reyes, but is run down and apparently killed. Mulder and Scully pursue William, but CSM manages to get the drop on Mulder and shoots him in the head.

Only it turns out this was William, since Mulder then appears and guns down CSM. Scully tearfully confesses to Mulder how William wasn't truly their son, but rather an experiment. Mulder is distraught, asking what he is if not a father. Scully reveals that he is, since despite her age she's gotten pregnant (perhaps after the events of "Plus One"). We'll see how the series follows up on that, given that Gillian Anderson is leaving the show after this season.

At the end of the episode, William emerges from the water, apparently none the worse for wear.

Episode Body Count

Four Syndicate guards: Killed by Mulder as he confronts Mr. Y

Mr. Y: Shot by Mulder after he tries to pull a gun on Mulder

Syndicate pursuer: Has apparently been killed by William sometime before arriving in Norfolk

Four more Syndicate members, including Erika Price: Blown to bits by William's telekinetic powers

Monica Reyes: Shot and apparently killed by Skinner

Walter Skinner: Run over and apparently killed by Reyes

Cigarette-Smoking Man: Perhaps killed off for real this time after not one, not two, but three fake-outs; gunned down by Mulder at a Norfolk dock

There seems to be some debate over whether Skinner or even Monica wound up dead in the confrontation at the docks, but I can always pull out the UNDEAD'D if the series gets renewed and one or both of them come back.

Humans: 13
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 16/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,524
Creatures: 134
Aliens: 66

Grand Total: 2,724

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Season 11, Episode 9: Nothing Lasts Forever


In the Bronx, a couple of surgeons harvest organs from a kidnapped person in a warehouse. A woman named Juliet Bocanegra attacks the operation, but one of the surgeons escapes. The woman delivers a cooler of organs with the inscription "I will repay" to a hospital. The title screen reads, "I Want To Be Beautiful."

Mulder and Scully are on the case! Elsewhere, a washed-up entertainer named Barbara Beaumont and a discredited physician, Dr. Luvenis, oversee a cult whose members willingly fuse their bodies with the leaders to allow them to preserve their youthful appearance. Mulder discovers that the phrase on the cooler is from a biblical passage; he also realizes that the person who murdered the surgeons did so with metal fenceposts taken from the church.

Juliet's sister, Olivia, is one of the people who has joined the cult, and Juliet has launched a religious mission of revenge against the cult and its leaders. Mulder and Scully plant a tracker in a bait cooler of organs and trace it to Barbara's apartment building after Luvenis steals it. Barbara chooses Olivia to be the next person to be fused with Luvenis.

Mulder and Scully track the cooler to Barbara's building. They are surprised to see how young she looks, given that she's supposed to be 85 years old. Barbara attacks the agents, but is killed by Juliet. Scully is pitched down a dumbwaiter shaft in the melee.

While searching for Scully, Mulder comes across Olivia, who has been fused to Dr. Luvenis. He claims that he's uncovered the way to eternal youth, but is cut short when Juliet strikes him down. Scully is OK, too, her fall having been broken by decades of trash at the bottom of the shaft. Juliet consigns herself to the fact that she's going to prison for her murders, but is content with the choice she made to save her sister.

Meeting in a church, Scully laments how she wasn't able to protect William or commit to living with Mulder. He tells her he wished she'd left the X-Files long ago to spare herself her various hardships. Scully says she doesn't begrudge him for this, and whispers something in Mulder's ear, saying it's her "leap of faith forward" and that she'd like to to it together.

"I've always wondered how this was going to end," Mulder responds.

Episode Body Count

Robert Jenkins: a kidnapped personal trainer who dies after his organs are harvested

Dr. David Rednon and another organ harvester: killed by Juliet

Kayla: Has her throat cut by Barbara after her fusion is completed

Warren: Commits suicide to offer up his organs to Barbara

Barbara Beaumont's husband: Mulder mentions that he died in 1970

Barbara Beaumont: Killed by Juliet

Dr. Luvenis: Also killed by Juliet

Humans: 7
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 15/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,511
Creatures: 134
Aliens: 66

Grand Total: 2,711

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Season 11, Episode 8: Familiar


At a park in Eastwood, Connecticut, a boy named Andrew Eggers spots a live version of his creepy doll, Mr. Chuckleteeth, while playing at a park. He follows it into the woods, where he is attacked and killed.

Andrew is the son of a police officer, so the FBI becomes involved in the case. The local police suggest a coyote, or perhaps a coyote-wolf hybrid called a coyowolf, but both Mulder and Scully are skeptical. Scully comes up with a profile for a likely murder suspect, while Mulder wonders if the dark arts are involved since Eastwood had some witch trials back in the 17th century.

After examining the body, Scully figures Andrew was shaken to death and wonders if he was killed by his father, a local cop named Rick. Mulder finds salt on the boy's foot and notes how it wasn't mentioned in the police report. The police chief's five-year-old daughter, Emily Strong, also hasn't been interviewed despite witnessing Andrew's disappearance.

Chief Strong reluctantly agrees to let Mulder interview Emily, who says she saw Mr. Chuckleteeth (a character from her favorite TV show, Bibbletiggles) in the woods before Andrew went in their. Based on Scully's profile, Rick believes a sex offender named Melvin Peter may be responsible for his son's death. A search of Melvin's house finds a Mr. Chuckleteeth costume. Mulder isn't convinced that he's the perpetrator, especially after seeing a coyowolf in the forest.

Emily sees another Bibbletiggles character at the door and vanishes; her body is soon found in the forest. Mulder finds a ring of salt at the scene, which he believes is a magic circle used in witchcraft. He also finds that the site of the murders is a Puritan graveyard, and accuses the chief of covering up acts of witchcraft. The chief admits that he has sinned by committing adultery with Rick's wife, Diane, and figures the killings are punishment for his actions.

Rick brutally attacks Melvin as the angry townspeople egg him on. Melvin says his crime was statutory rape and that he hasn't hurt anyone, but Rick still shoots him in the head shortly after the agents and other local police arrive to break things up. Rick is released on a minimal bail soon after. Another police officer, sickened by the events, reveals to Mulder and Scully that he found out how Melvin (a children's performer) was out of town on the day of Andrew's death and so was not responsible.

Rick angrily confronts Diane about her affair. She storms out, but crashes her car after seeing a vision of Andrew in the road. Rick storms into the police chief's house, only to be greeted with a nightmarish vision of Mr. Chuckleteeth. He is soon shot dead by Chief Strong.

Mulder and Scully arrive at Strong's house, and Mulder realizes that a book from the chief's library on how to summon spirits and demons is missing. Strong comes across Diane's wrecked car, and finds that Diane has been killed and his wife has set up a summoning circle. It turns out that she was trying to curse Diane and her husband for their affair, but screwed it up. She manages to summon a coyowolf to kill Chief Strong, but winds up immolating herself while trying to perform another spell as the agents arrive. Scully turns the witchcraft books over to the police for evidence of a town gone mad, but also seems to be giving the witchcraft theory a little more credence.

Episode Body Count

Andrew Eggers: Killed in a park forest, apparently by a coyowolf summoned by Anne Strong

Goodie Bishop: A Puritan midwife who reportedly burst into flames in 1658, apparently in a death similar to Anna's later in the episode

Emily Strong: Also found dead in a forest, another apparent victim of the coyowolf

Melvin Peter: Murdered by Rick Eggers

Rick Eggers: Shot and killed by Chief Strong

Diane Eggers: Apparently killed by the coyowolf

Chief Strong: Yet another victim of the coyowolf

Anna Strong: Incinerates herself while trying to perform a spell

Humans: 8
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 14/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,504
Creatures: 134
Aliens: 66

Grand Total: 2,704

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Season 11, Episode 7: Rm9sbG932ZXjz


A synthesized voice in the intro recounts that time in 2016 Twitter tried to launch an artificial intelligence chatbot that would learn from humans, only to see it turn into a terrible person because Twitter is a cesspool. The voiceover warns that we need to be careful about what we teach AI if we don't want to go extinct ourselves. The intro screen reads VGhlIFRydXRoIGIzIE91dCBUaGVyZQ=, because the writers really want me to take my time recapping this episode.

At a modern D.C. restaurant, Mulder and Scully place their orders with a tablet and play on their phones. They're the only ones in the restaurant, and their food is delivered automatically. Mulder tries to return his blobfish, only to find that the kitchen is entirely staffed by robots. Mulder picks up the tab but opts not to tip. The restaurant responds by eating his credit card and nearly trapping the agents inside.

Scully's taxi home is a self-driving car, which starts driving recklessly when she gets snippy with it. Meanwhile, Mulder's GPS routes him right back to the AI restaurant and his phone starts issuing suggestions that he should tip the chefs.

The agents experience more harassment from technology. Scully is automatically billed for a false alarm after her home security system doesn't accept her password,  and receives a package delivery by drone. Mulder is mocked by an automatic callback option from "Bigly Credit" and smashes a drone he sees hovering outside his home, only to see the wreckage recovered by another drone.

The package delivered to Scully holds a Roomba-like robot vacuum. It prompts an offer related to the "personal massager" it finds under her bed, then gets aggressive when she rejects it. She soon finds herself under attack by several automated appliances in her house, as Mulder is driven from his own home by hundreds of miniature drones.

Scully's automated home systems trap her inside as Mulder arrives, and she narrowly escapes a fireball triggered by the vacuum. The agents shed their phones in an effort to throw off their pursuers. However, they find themselves in a robotics warehouse filled with several threatening robots and devices.

One robot returns Mulder's phone to him, with a message giving him one last chance to tip the chefs at the AI restaurant. Mulder leaves a 10 percent tip, getting a celebratory thank-you and the message, "We learn from you." Mulder comments how humans need to be better teachers. The agents decide to go to an old-fashioned diner for breakfast, and also decide that maybe they don't need to look at their phones every spare minute they have.

Episode Body Count

Humans: 0
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 13/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,496
Creatures: 134
Aliens: 66

Grand Total: 2,696

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Season 11, Episode 6: Kitten


In a flashback to the Vietnam War, Skinner and two other soldiers are ordered to guard a crate while transferring it to another company. The crate is punctured by gunfire, releasing a yellowish gas. A timid soldier named John is exposed to the bulk of the gas and apparently kills several Vietnamese civilians soon after; the gas also makes him see Skinner as a monster.

In the present day, Kersh summons Mulder and Scully to ask their help in finding Skinner, who has gone missing. The agents are still uncertain whether they can trust Skinner, but agree to help. In his apartment, they find an envelope using his military rank along with a severed ear and a note saying, "The monsters are here." Scully finds that information on Skinner's platoon is classified.

Mulder and Scully head to the town of Mud Lick, Kentucky, since a newspaper from this town was used to wrap the ear. Mulder is informed that there's a body in the morgue with a missing ear. On the way in, a man named Trigger Davis tells the agents, that there "ain't no kitten out there."

The body turns out to be the town doctor, who was killed by a booby trap. The body is missing some teeth, and several people in town have also been losing their teeth lately. The sheriff tells the agents there have been sightings of a monster in the woods around town.

A hunter is killed, and a deer camera catches Skinner at the scene. Mulder reviews the footage further and sees what looks like a monster. Scully wonders if Skinner is suffering some form of PTSD after receiving the ear, while Mulder speaks with Trigger after surmising that "kitten" is a nickname for someone in Skinner's platoon.

Skinner visits an isolated mobile home. In a flashback to Vietnam, John (whose nickname is indeed Kitten) shows off a necklace of severed ears and also suffers lost teeth. John's son, Davey, returns to the home and converses with Skinner. It turns out that John has spent 38 years in a sanitarium after Skinner gave testimony against him at a court-martial; Skinner says he was forbidden to bring up the gas at the trial, and thinks it turned his mild-mannered friend into a hardened killer.

Davey promises to take Skinner to John, then reveals that his father has hanged himself and tricks Skinner into falling into a booby trap. Mulder and Scully visit Davey, who tells them about how his father was experimented on and that government agencies may be developing the gas for mind control purposes.

Mulder returns to the property and finds a monster costume in Davey's closet. The agents confront and kill Davey, then rescue Skinner. Reminiscing on his time in Vietnam, Skinner notes how his experience there made him mistrust the government and that Mulder and Scully taught him to fight back against such misdeeds. He vows to return to the FBI to continue that fight, as a way of honoring John. As he leaves, he realizes he has lost a tooth.

In a coda to the episode, a plane dusts some crops with the gas. See you in three weeks!

Episode Body Count

Five Vietnamese women and children: Apparently killed by Kitten after he is exposed to the gas

Dr. Matthew Wegmeiser: Killed by a booby trap

Ozzy Krager: Killed by another booby trap

Deer: Seen hanging at Kitten's home

At least four Vietnamese soldiers or civilians: Kitten has a necklace of ears collected from bodies in Vietnam, and at there appear to be at least four on it

John "Kitten" James: Has apparently hanged himself in the woods near his home

Davey: Impaled by one of his own traps after a fight with Scully

The tally originally included the boy shot by Skinner, but then I remembered that he was already counted way, way back in the Season 2 episode "One Breath." Nice job on the continuity, writers.

Humans: 12
Creatures: 1
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 12/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,496
Creatures: 134
Aliens: 66

Grand Total: 2,696

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Season 11, Episode 5: Ghouli


Two teenage girls confront each other on an abandoned ferry in Norfolk, Virginia. They each see each other as being a horrific creature, which they call Ghouli, and seriously wound each other trying to fend off the beast. The title screen reads, "You see what I want you to see."

Scully tells Mulder how she saw the ferry, which is part of an active X-File, while in a hypnagogic state. One of the cops on scene mentions how one of the girls mentioned Ghouli, and the agents find, a website about the creature that's only been active for a few months. Mulder is intrigued by how the girls each had a vision with similar details to Scully's experience.

Although the girls don't know each other, they each have the same boyfriend: a fellow named Jackson Van de Kamp. Upon arriving at his house, Scully recognizes it from her vision. The agents hear gunshots and find Jackson and his parents dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Scully fears that Jackson might actually be William and that the visions were his way of summoning her.

Mulder confronts a pair of men who followed the agents to Norfolk, accusing them of being with the Department of Defense, but they play dumb. Scully, preparing to run a test to see if Jackson is William, tearfully apologizes for giving up her son and says she never forgot him. After leaving the morgue, Jackson rises from his body bag, apparently still alive.

Scully thinks William is trying to lead them to him, but Mulder is skeptical. The agents investigate Jackson's room further and find that he has made several posts to and set up a back door connection to the DOD. The DOD men who followed the agents order them to cease their activities. In D.C., we see that Cancer Man is still hanging around with Skinner; he remarks that Mulder is close to finding what they've been looking for with "Project Crossroads."

Skinner meets with Mulder and warns him to drop the investigation, saying this case goes back to the efforts to make alien-human hybrids. He also says how a Dr. Masao Matsumoto initiated Project Crossroads, a eugenics project related to this subject, and that the DOD has been trying to track down his subjects after Matsumoto destroyed their files. Jackson is one of the subjects they have been trying to find. Mulder says he has checked Jackson's DNA and confirmed that he's William.

Scully meets with Jackson's psychiatrist, who allows that he had "specific and detailed" visions but won't go further. Scully correctly intuits that his vision involves the apocalyptic events of last season's finale, in which he was the key to creating a vaccine to stop the Syndicate's disease. Mulder suspects that the DOD agents killed William's adoptive parents, and that William projected an alternate reality to make them think he was dead.

William apologizes to one of the girls, saying he projected the Ghouli image as something of a prank and he's still learning to control his powers. The police surround the hospital, having been tipped off by his other girlfriend. The DOD agents pursue him, but William uses his powers to trick them into shooting each other and escape.

Stopping for gas on the way home, Scully again sees a man who offered her a cryptic greeting at the hospital. She thinks it might be Matsumoto, but he politely denies it. Tipped off by his parting words, Mulder asks the store clerk to review the surveillance video. The agents see that the man was actually William projecting a different appearance.

Episode Body Count

Dead rat: One of the girls comes across a decaying rodent in the abandoned ferry

William's adoptive parents: Shot to death by DOD agents

Three DOD agents: William uses his powers of mental projection to make the agents shoot each other

Humans: 5
Creatures: 1
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 11/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,484
Creatures: 133
Aliens: 66

Grand Total: 2,683

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Season 11, Episode 4: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat


In a black-and-white scene, a paranoid man in a diner claims he's seen Martians outside, who have a ray that makes you forget. He sees himself as an alien in the mirror, then sees the diner owner remove his human disguise and cackle.

A man named Reggie visits Mulder in his parking garage and says he's stumbled on a "conspiracy to end all conspiracies." He says he's visited Mulder before, but that Mulder doesn't remember. Reggie tries to get Mulder's trust by saying the first Twilight Zone episode he saw was "The Lost Martian," but that the episode never existed.

Mulder can't find any reference to the episode (seen in the opening clip), despite his memory of seeing it and his assertion that it's a classic. Reggie finds Scully in the parking garage, gives her a box of cherry gelatin to "prove that [he's] real," and disappears as a couple of men approach. Scully says she has wonderful memories of the gelatin from her childhood, but hasn't been able to ever find it since then. Mulder wonders if their experiences have something to do with the "Mandela Effect," or a shared memory among large groups of people of something being different than it actually is.

Mulder and Scully meet with Reggie, who thinks some shadowy entity is monkeying with the past. Mulder wonders if the circumstances might be related to an interaction with a parallel universe. Scully suggests that it's just a simple matter of faulty memories.

Although Mulder and Scully are skeptical of Reggie's claim that a nebulous "they" is behind the weird circumstances, but he says there actually is a "Doctor They" out there. He claims this doctor worked to communicate with an alien who survived a UFO crash off Grenada, that the U.S. invaded to take the alien, and that he was actually an agent on the X-Files. We get a delightful montage of Reggie being inserted into a number of classic X-Files episodes, but of course Mulder and Scully don't remember him being involved.

Reggie again flees after men he claims to be the henchmen of Doctor They arrive, although they turn out to be nothing more than FBI agents who are dismissive of Mulder's work. As Mulder tries to unravel what's going on, Doctor They contacts him out of the blue and arranges a meeting. Doctor They says it hardly matters whether he's been interfering in the past, since people will believe what they want to believe.

Scully has looked into Reggie's past, and found that he's a former federal worker who did a stint in a mental institution. He is abruptly taken away in the sanitarium's ambulance, but before he goes Mulder asks what happened on their last case. As Reggie tells it, the agents made contact with an alien representative who gives a Trump-like speech, confirming that extraterrestrials are out there but that they think Earthlings are jerks. The representative says they'll be building an electromagnetic wall to keep humans away from outer space, but leaves a book with "all the answers" - effectively ending the X-Files.

Skinner suddenly shows up and wonders where they're taking Reggie, suggesting that maybe he did have a connection to the X-Files after all. Mulder finds that his lost Twilight Zone episode was from a knockoff show. Scully makes her gelatin, but decides against eating it, saying she wants to remember how it was instead.

Episode Body Count

Memory shop owner: Impaled by a lawn dart in his shop

Humans: 1
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 10/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,479
Creatures: 132
Aliens: 66

Grand Total: 2,677