Thursday, February 8, 2018

Season 11, Episode 6: Kitten

Synopsis

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Season 11, Episode 5: Ghouli

Synopsis

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 Ghouli.net, 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 Ghouli.net 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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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

Synopsis

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Season 11, Episode 3: Plus One

Synopsis

Back to the Monster of the Week episodes, or the "bread and butter" according to Mulder! A kid named Arkie Seavers flees a punk rock concert in Virginia after seeing his doppleganger in the crowd. The double shows up in the back seat and deliberately forces Arkie's car into a tree, but he survives.

Although the incident seems like a case of drunk driving, Mulder finds that there's a string of cases where people in Henrico County have reported seeing their double and killed themselves afterward. Inquiring about the past cases at a psychiatric hospital, Mulder is intrigued by a schizophrenic patient named Judy who has a variety of Hangman games in her room.

The answer on one of the games is Arkie, but Judy claims she doesn't know Seavers. She also says she plays the game telepathically with her brother, and also references a "her" in the room who isn't visible. As she modifies the drawing, an imprisoned Arkie sees his double again and is found dead of an apparent suicide.

Mulder goes to visit Judy's brother, Chucky Poundstone, a trustee at the prison who also has a lot of Hangman games and confirms that he plays the game telepathically with Judy. Like his sister, he references an invisible "him" in the room. Scully visits Judy, who has taken on a cruel persona and mocks her for being beyond her childbearing years.

Chucky, thinking that Arkie's lawyer is trying to pin his client's death on him, starts a Hangman game to name the attorney. Mulder accuses Chucky of selecting "good for nothing" victims at the prison, and suggests that his split personality is just an act. Scully makes a similar accusation to Judy and tries to persuade her to find a way to end the killings. Judy claims that the nurses give her pills that protect her from the other Judy; the nurses say the pills are just rolled-up bits of bread, but that they use them as well - just in case.

Arkie's lawyer sees his doppleganger. He tries to purge his home of dangerous items, but it doesn't help that he has a giant sword collection and is soon decapitated by his double. Both Mulder and Scully see their doubles after being named in the siblings' game, but Scully holds that the dopplegangers can only hurt them if they panic. Judy and Chucky pull their punches, accusing each other of being attracted to the agents. They ultimately turn on each other, with each sibling releasing the others doppleganger and bringing an end to the carnage.

Episode Body Count

Fourteen people in Henrico County: Mulder rattles off a list of people who have killed themselves after seeing their dopplegangers, racking up 14 people before Scully cuts him off.

At least 105 other people: Based on the fact that everyone involved in Chucky and Judy's games kicks the bucket and I count at least 103 drawings in Judy's room and what looks like at least 17 in Chucky's house, minus the 14 already named and the game for Arkie being removed.

Arkie Seavers: Found dead of an apparent hanging after seeing his double.

Judy and Chucky's parents: A nurse says they hanged themselves.

Dean Cavalier: Arkie's lawyer, is decapitated by his double

Chuck and Judy: Killed after both sic their dopplegangers on each other

The way they piled up in this one, I'm going to label this the Deadliest of Season for now. And it's probably going to stay there, since it's currently tied for third deadliest of the entire show.

Humans: 125
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 9/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,478
Creatures: 132
Aliens: 66

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Season 11, Episode 2: This

Synopsis

Mulder and Scully are snoozing at Mulder's house when they get a staticky video message from Richard Langly. He says he needs to know if he's dead, because if so "they know that I know." Soon after, a trio of gunmen ambush the agents; they kill two, but one gets away.

The agents report the incident, and Mulder hides the phone. He wonders if Langly might still be alive, since no one saw the Lone Gunmen's bodies after they heroically stopped a bioweapon from being released 16 years ago. A group of Humvees full of heavily armed Russian-speaking guys arrive at the house; Scully calls Skinner, who urges them to surrender.

The Russian ringleader orders Mulder and Scully to be killed after finding the phone, but the agents escape. Skinner finds them and says the guys are private contractors from Purlieu Services, an American security firm based in Moscow; he didn't expect that they would try to murder fellow intelligence agents, but Mulder and Scully are suspicious. The Purlieu Services guys try to hack the phone, but a kill switch shuts it down.

Mulder and Scully visit the Lone Gunmen's graves at Arlington National Cemetery, and some signs on the tombstones seem to point to Deep Throat's final resting place. They find a memory medallion before they are again attacked by the remaining gunman and again escape. Scanning the medallion, Mulder and Scully find a video of an NSA building in New York City called Titanpointe and realize that an old X-File might help shed some light on the mystery.

The agents confront Skinner about working with men who tried to kill them, and Skinner tells them the world has become a much more complex place. He reveals that the X-Files have been digitized and shared with other intelligence agencies, including Purlieu. Mulder and Scully find that all references to Langly have been scrubbed, although a clue in the files tells them to go to a professor, Dr. Hamby, at Semple Technical Academy in Bethesda.

Hamby says she and Langly took a deal from Purlieu several years earlier to be able to continue living beyond death as a computer simulation. She starts to give them some instructions on how to make contact with Langly, but is shot by the gunman who has been pursuing them; the gunman is in turn shot by Scully.

Langly's simulation is able to make contact again and begs them to shut down the simulation, saying its set up as a sort of utopia but that he and the other people there are essentially "digital slaves." Mulder notes how Langly had theorized a tunnel between the FBI field office and Titanpointe. They are able to access it, but Mulder is soon captured by Purlieu contractors.

Mulder is brought before Syndicate member Erika Price, who says most human life is about to be wiped out and the digital simulation is the next step in our evolution. She says the technology exists to upload any mind through a smartphone. Langly is the only one of the uploaded minds working for them who has figured out that he's in a simulation.

Scully finds the simulation hardware and shuts it down. The agents bring back a forensics team to start a case against Price, but the Titanpointe rooms have already been scrubbed. Returning home, Langly sends a desperate message telling them to destroy the backup before a taunting image of the slain gunman appears.

Episode Body Count

Two Purlieu Services guys: Killed during the ambush on Mulder and Scully's home

Dr. Hamby: Shot by the gunman

Gunman: Shot by Scully

Steve Jobs: I've included famous dead folks referenced in these episodes, so I see no reason to stop now. Langly mentions how Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, is one of the people who now exists in the simulation.

Martin Minsky: The co-founder of MIT's artificial intelligence laboratory, Minsky died in 2016. Langly references him as one of the people in the simulation.

Michael Crichton: The bestselling author of such books as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain died in 2008 and is also hanging out with Langly in the postmortem simulation.

Some other Purlieu Services guys might have been killed in the melee as well, but it's a bit hard to confirm.

Humans: 7
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 original episodes, 2/2 movies, 8/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,353
Creatures: 132
Aliens: 66

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Season 11: My Struggle III

Synopsis

Previously on The X-Files: The series resumed with a brief run of episodes, which reminded us of the fun 90s conspiracy theories about aliens and awkwardly shoehorned in the dumbass post-9/11 Alex Jones ones about chemtrails. Also, one of the Cigarette Smoking Man's world-ending plans was finally being put into play.

Mulder and Skinner visit Scully in a hospital and learn that she has abnormal brain activity. Skinner interprets the activity as Morse code for "Find him," and thinks that Scully wants Mulder to find William. Apparently the whole "end of the world" thing was just a vision that Scully was experiencing while hospitalized.

Elsewhere, an assailant tries to run down Jeffrey Spender and demands "the boy." Spender warns Mulder that someone is looking for William and that he might be in danger. Mulder, who figures that Scully's trauma is the result of some external agency, sets out for Spartanburg, South Carolina, where Scully has told him CSM is. CSM comments to Agent Reyes, who is chilling out with him, that Mulder will be looking for him and will kill him if he finds him.

Spender warns Scully about his pursuers and, at her request, breaks his promise to keep William hidden and gives him the name of William's adoptive parents. Spender CSM dismisses Reyes concerns that his plans might leak out, saying facts don't matter in Trump's America. Scully, upon finding that Mulder is heading to confront CSM, is horrified that things are playing out as she envisioned and collapses after suffering another brain cramp.

Mulder arrives at the CSM estate, but finds only some Syndicate folks. Skinner, looking for Scully, is instead found by Reyes and CSM. Scully, trying to drive in her less than healthy state, gets into a car accident.

CSM offers Skinner immunity to the plague in return for William's whereabouts. The Syndicate members say that CSM has been hellbent on exterminating humanity with an alien pathogen; they claim that they want to save mankind by colonizing space. Mulder is suspicious of their claims to try to save the entire race by getting off the planet.

Scully has been brought back to the hospital by Agents Einstein and Miller. Here, the goon who went after Scully tries to smother her, but is killed by Mulder. Scully tells Mulder that CSM won't harm her, and that the goon attack is related to something else. She also tells Mulder to trust that they won't find William, but that he will find them.

Mulder angrily confronts Skinner after he arrives, saying he smells like smoke and wondering whose side he's on. Skinner tells him to leave it alone. In a flashback to their conversation, CSM reveals that he is William's father, not Mulder, having impregnated Scully with alien DNA to create a superchild.

Episode Body Count

Goon: Has his throat cut by Mulder.

Humans: 1
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 episodes, 2/2 movies, 7/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,346
Creatures: 132
Aliens: 66

Monday, February 22, 2016

Season 10, Episode 6: My Struggle II

Synopsis

In the intro, Scully gives us a quick recap of everything from the start of the series to its reboot. In the newly reconstituted X-Files office, she sees that Tad O'Malley has gone back on the air after a six-week absence to say that every American has alien DNA. Like Scully, he has had his DNA tested and found anomalies, although Scully points out that everyone has weird junk DNA. Also, Mulder has gone missing.

Meanwhile, Scully's hospital is being inundated with new cases, including a disoriented man who has a lesion on his arm. Working with Agent Einstein, she wonders if the alien DNA sequences may have been implanted through smallpox inoculations. When she finds out that the lesions are appearing on many soldiers who were exposed to anthrax before their deployment, she worries that it's the first step in a wide-scale effort by the conspirators to shut down everyone's immune system.

A roughed-up Mulder ignores calls from Skinner and Scully as he travels to South Carolina, but Agent Miller finds out where he is by tracking his cell phone. Agent Reyes reconnects with Scully, telling her that she met with the very badly burned Cigarette Smoking Man and was convinced to cooperate with him in exchange for immunity. She says that Scully is also protected, and that the plan has been in motion since 2012.

It turns out that Mulder has gotten his shiner in a tussle with a CSM-sent goon, from whom he gets CSM's location. CSM points out that humans are already treating the planet like crap anyway, so the conspiracy is just speeding up the timeline. Hospitals are overrun by patients affected by the contagion, now known as the "Spartan Virus;" Scully modifies her theory, now believing that the alien DNA is only in protected people like her and can be used to create a vaccine. However, a PCR test finds no trace of anomalies.

Scully and Einstein ponder the possibility that the Spartan Virus slices DNA in specific places, and Einstein realizes that they need a larger sample of Scully's blood to figure out how it offers protection. Miller picks up Mulder, who has also been sickened by the virus. Another PCR test of Scully's blood identifies the alien blood, and Scully manages to create a vaccine.

As every unprotected person's immune system starts to break down, Scully meets up with Mulder and Miller on a traffic-choked bridge in Washington, D.C. She worries that Mulder has been affected enough that the only way to truly heal him would be with stem cells. The only place she can think to get those is from William, due to his natural immunity; of course, she has no idea where he is. Then, as hundreds of sick witnesses watch, a triangular UFO descends over the three agents and shines a bright light onto their car.

Well, I thought I was going to be able to do a new final tally after this episode. But now I guess we'll see where this goes.

Episode Body Count

O'Malley says soldiers and elderly people are starting to die from the Spartan Virus. Then again, he's also saying that chemtrails and microwaves are to blame, so who knows how accurate that is. Depending on how widespread the contagion is, this might also fall under my old Gimpy Rule of not permitting mass casualties in the count.

Humans: 0
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (202/202 episodes, 2/2 movies, 6/16 reboot episodes)

Humans: 2,345
Creatures: 132
Aliens: 66