3×17 – PUSHER

by foxestacado

Episode 3×17 – “Pusher”

Written by Vince Gilligan

Recap written by Adrienne (aka Starbucket)

We fade in on lettuce. Yes, you heard me. Read me. Whatever. Lettuce. Or, as I pronounce it in my head, thanks to an episode of the underappreciated series Ed, “LeToose”. Is this the episode that solves the age-old debate of iceberg vs. romaine? Maybe, but I doubt it. The camera’s moving. Oh. We’re actually in the produce aisle of a market, and we’re following a mid-30ish guy in navy blue sweatpants past various foodstuffs. He picks up some vegetable dip here and some V8 Juice there as the captions tell us, helpfully, that we’re in the Mt. Foodmore Supermarket in Loudun County, Virginia. As Mark Snow’s Music of Mostly Curiosity But Ultimately Impending Doom tinkles in the background, Sweatpant Man stocks up on cans of Carbo-Boost, which is not only on sale, but features a lovely and, I’m sure, steroid-infested arm flexing on the label. Guy loves his Carbo-Boost. Maybe it’s the sweet 47¢ per can deal that entices him so. Or not, since he seems to be loading up on just about every energy-boosting drink in the aisle, whether or not it’s on sale. As Sweatpant Man fills his little shopping basket with cans of Carbo-Boost, a smokin’ but fairly obvious law enforcement type comes around the corner and stealthily examines a box of off-brand Animal Crackers as he watches our guy out of the corner of his lovely brown eye. He subtly-but-not-really follows him to the register, and Sweatpant Guy gets in line behind Curtis from 24. No, really. It’s really him. Guy had to be stationed somewhere before he made it up to CTU, right?

Anyway, SPM picks up a copy of the World Weekly Informer and long-time fans of the show giggle as they see a badly drawn portrait of Fluky the Fluke Worm on the cover, along with a caption that decries, “Depravity Rampant on Hit TV Show” and showing a picture of a scantily clad Jennifer Aniston. Just kidding, but what a foreshadow that would be, eh? With the lawsuit and the sexual innuendo? Anyone? Bueller? Anyway, SPM laughs at the absurdity of the Flukeman – Hey! You have no idea how real he was, buddy? Wait til you’re just sittin’ in a porta-potty, mindin’ your own bidniss, when t hat thing shoves a scolex up your ass! Then, perhaps you’ll realize how true that cover story is! – and takes a gander out the window. He notices a cop’s patrol car enter the parking lot, then sighs, “Let’s get the show on the road.” Sweatpant Man rips off the back of Curtis’ jacket to reveal a tiny little FBI logo as he and his hot cohort spring into action, grabbing our guy and smooshing his face down onto the moving conveyor belt. Police brutality! Police brutality! No one seems to care except for the other FBI agents, who run from all corners of the store toward our cuffed Carbo-Boost buyer. Wow, what’d this guy do?

A big, burly guy in a standard police-issue trenchcoat and Burt Reynolds mustache enters the store and leans over Sweatpant Guy, asking him if he’s Pusher. Whew. Thank goodness he’s got a name that’s easier to type than Sweatpant Guy. Pusher replies, “You must be Frank Burst,” and I’ve never heard a more appropriate name for a character. The guy’s a tree trunk. And Pusher agrees with me, because he thinks that Burst is a great name, too. Great and mildly psycho minds think alike, eh? Burst tells Agent Collins, aka Smokin’ Guy, to read Pusher his rights, and he does as Curtis drags him out of the market, basket of Carbo-Boost forgotten in the uproar. Apparently, this cat’s one bad mother (shut yo’ mouth!), because Burst is demanding leg shackles and a car with a cage and stuff. Is he the next Hannibal Lecter, or Shaft? Let’s find out, shall we? Rows of cop cars drive along the Virginia streets (although I suspect it’s Vancouver. Hm. Don’t know why. Just a feeling.) as Burst asks Pusher what his real name is. Pusher does not oblige. Then Pusher starts talking about how the deputy driving has a stunning blue uniform. The man sounds like a Project Runway castoff as he goes on and on about how soothing that blue is, and the name for that particular shade of blue is “cerulean.” Cerulean Blue. Burst is all, “yeah, we get it. It’s a nice shade of blue.” But Pusher insists, “Cerulean Blue. Cerulean Blue is like a summer breeze.” Burst tells “Mr. Blackwell” to put a sock in it, and I must be too young because I totally don’t get that reference. [Ed. note: Mr. Blackwell is that guy that puts out an annual "worst dressed" list of ladies that, like, Cher is always on. Which…Cher is awesome. Suck it, Blackwell.—Lurkey] Anyway, the deputy is staring out the window as this huge blue Mack truck looms large. But then, like a breeze, it just disappears. The deputy, not seeing the truck, pulls out in front of it and the car gets smashed like a pancake. And, get this, the truck has a logo on the front, and that logo is Cerulean. Oooh.

Aw, credits. Yay. They’re so 90s, yet still kinda creepy. Exactly what I look for in, uh, credits.

The first thing we see is a Cerulean Blue Uniform-clad dead guy lying on the street with a gushing head wound. Lovely. Then, as we pull back, we realize it’s one of Mulder’s awesome slideshows! Yay! But, wait. That’s not Mulder’s sandpaper over honey voice I hear, but Burst’s. Damn, you, Burst! He tells Mulder and Scully that he was knocked unconscious and Pusher escaped because the deputy, in his last dying breath, unlocked Pusher’s cuffs and let him out of the car. Dude. Burst does not look good. < /SPAN>He’s all bruised and battered looking. Nice job, makeup department. And Scully’s wearing red. Bad job, costume department. Don’t you know that redheads should never wear red? Believe me. When I went red, I had to rethink my entire wardrobe. Burst tells them that Pusher cold-called him about a month ago, confessing to a bunch of deaths that the police had ruled as suicides. But Pusher knew stuff about the case that no one else did, and that’s why Mulder immediately jumps to psychic transmission. Just kidding. He’s actually uncharacteri stically silent for this scene as Scully takes the lead. Ooh, she must have bitchslapped him in bed last night for him to be this quiet. Heh. Anyway, Burst continues, telling them about the Cerulean Blue truck and how Pusher went on and on about it until Mulder finally speaks. “So, you think Pusher somehow talked him into doing this? He willed him into doing that?” Did someone not study their lines closely enough this morning, David? Because that would be pretty shoddy writing, in my opinion. And I don’t blame writer Vince Gilligan, because as far as I can see, the man can do no wrong (see every other script he’s written, except maybe Roadrunners, for examples). Anyway, Scully and Burst are all, “Willed him? How?” Mulder doesn’t have a chance to answer before Burst switches slides to one of the words “NIN OR” written in blood on the side of the patrol car. Maybe the guy’s a Nine Inch Nails fan. OR not. Burst can’t figure it out, but Mulder takes one look at it and heads over to the slide machine to flip the image around. It’s still kinda backwards, but we can see more clearly that it spells the word “Ronin”. So, apparently, he’s a fan of Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno movies. We seem to have more in common than ever. I just wish I could push people into doing things. I’d never have to do laundry again. Mulder immediately recognizes the word, and defines it as “A Samurai without a master.” Because he’s smart and well-read? Of course not, silly. He gets his knowledge from movies, just like everyone else. In this case, it’s from Yojimbo. “But what does it mean?” Scully asks, even though he totally just told her what it meant. But he gets what she’s trying to say: “It means I know 10 to 1 what this guy’s got stacked on the back of his toilet.” To which I ask, do people really stack magazines on the back of their toilet? Because, if so, I never want to borrow them. Ever. Mulder, seemingly just seconds later, slaps down an issue of American Ronin, which appears to be a magazine geared towards knife and gun nuts alike. Great. The guy’s a Republican. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Although I guess we’re not as alike as I thought.

Oh, wait. It’s later. Burst is gone, and Mulder and Scully are thumbing through issues of a magazine that exists only because middle aged white men like to fantasize about being Japanese or in the Army or something. Holly, a doe-eyed, pixie stick of an FBI, um, assistant? brings them more issues of the magazine. Mulder digs into the stack, characteristically oblivious (otherwise lovingly known as “focused”) as Scully notices that little Holly (named after Vince’s girlfriend, natch) has a shiner. Holly explains that she was mugged in Georgetown, which is kinda sad because when I did a semester in DC in college, Georgetown was, like, the coolest and most laid back place ever. Scully’s all, “Aww,” and kicks Mulder under the table. Mulder’s all, “Huh?” then asks if they caught the guy. Holly’s all, “Uh, no. Do they ever?” then, because she works for the FBI and isn’t a total idiot, adds, “No offense.” She walks away as Scully begins to tell Mulder about that time when she was mugged in New York and then Mulder shares a story about… just kidding. You know these crazy kids never get personal! Until, y’know, all the sex starts.

They go right back to the case without giving Holly and her poor black eye another thought. Scully asks what they’re looking for and Mulder’s not sure but “let’s waste taxpayers’ money, anyway, because I’m in the market for a used AK-47.” When she asks him what he thinks is going on (dangerous question, Scully), he tells her that suggestion is very powerful and that “the science of hypnosis is predicated on it, as are most TV commercials.” And most video games, as you’d know if you ever played the original PC X-Files game that had subliminal messages that popped up every few minutes to exact fear and panic from the player. Which, lemme tell ya, is exactly what I want to be feeling when I play a video game. Anyway, Scully argues, kind of smugly, that “inducing someone to buy hair color is a little different than inducing them to drive in front of a speeding truck.” I don’t know. Those stupid “You’re Worth It” L’Oreal commercials make me want to drive in front of a speeding truck sometimes. Mulder smugly replies that the mechanism is basically the same, even if it’s stronger in this case. I mean – well, he means – the guy calls himself “Pusher.” “Can’t we take that to mean that he pushes his will onto other people?” Then Scully counters, asking why Pusher would crash a car he was in, and Mulder counters her counter with the possibility that he really didn’t want to go to jail. As they argue – eh-hem, I mean discuss – they get closer and closer and when he’s done talking, they stare at each other, breathing heavy, until Scully finally breaks the tension and launches at Mulder’s mouth with her own. Oh, wait. That’s every other show on television. But not this one. What really happens is that Mulder finds an ad in one of those magazines and the sexual tension is dissipated. Whew. Or, damn, depending on your shipper/noromo status.

The ad reads, “I solve problems. Osu.” Scully guesses Ohio State University, which I would have guessed, too, because I had a friend in high school who ended up graduating from there. But Mulder notices that the area code on the phone number is Virginia, not Ohio, so that can’t be it. He also mentions that he’s seen the ad in every magazine since April, 1994, which would have been good to know two hours ago, so they needn’t've wasted all this time! Anyway, he gets his handy dandy Japanese-English dictionary down off the shelf and looks “Osu” up. What a coink-i-dink! It means “to push.” I think we’ve found our smoking gun.

That night, Mulder and Scully are parked on the Beltway Commuter Lot in Falls Church, VA, which is a stone’s throw from where I was living in Arlington, but oddly doesn’t look familiar at all. They’re there because they ran a trace on the phone number in the ad and it came from a phone booth in this parking lot. Oh, how quaint. Phone booths. I remember them. The disposable cell phone of the 90s. Good times. But back to the parking lot. Inside their FBI-requisitioned car, Mulder calls the phone booth on his cell while Scully snoozes in the passenger seat. No luck so far. With the calling, I mean. I’m sure he’s gotten plenty lucky with her by now. He hangs up the phone and caresses her cheek with his pinky to wake her up. Aw. She gasps. He tells her she drooled on him. She apologizes before realizing that he was joking, then, once she does, looks kind of embarrassed. It’s a very cute moment. Mulder launches right in, telling her there’s no luck here or at any of the other pay phones that Burst has staked out. Just as they’re about to call it a night, the pay phone ring s. And Mulder isn’t calling it! Gasp! They hop out of the car and full sprint to catch the phone. I wonder how many times they had to shoot that. If it was more than three, then they probably didn’t need to hit the gym that day.

Mulder picks up the phone as Scully leans in close (hee) to listen in. Pusher’s on the line, asking them if they’re just going to stay in the car necking all night. They’re like, “What? That – that’s just crazy! We w-weren’t –” but he’s all, “Cut the crap, Mulder. I totally saw you! But don’t bother hunting around for me. I’m far away.” Scully calls someone, I’m guessing the elusive Danny, to run a trace on the call while Mulder keeps him talking. Pusher is questioning Mulder’s relationship with Scully, but asking questions that no one would ask, like “do you work well together?” Any real person, bad guy or good, would be all, “so, do you sleep together?” Or, at the very least, use air quotes when saying “work.” Except he’s on the phone. Shut up. Mulder asks for his name, but Pusher calls him a G-man and tells him he needs to follow his bread-crumb trail to prove his worth. I love the whole G-man thing, because later, when Mulder calls Scully a G-woman, it’s totally just like in Redux when he’s watching her undress in her bedroom. For those who know what I’m talking about, it’s a fairly smile-inducing memory. For those who don’t, Ha! He watched her strip and you’ve never seen it! Nya, nya! Anyway, no names for Mulder. Mulder’s not having fun playing Pusher’s game, but does so anyway. Pusher tells him to “let [his] fingers do the walking,” then hangs up. Scully can’t get a complete trace because of some “digital scrambler” type thing, which leaves me impressed that they even know what “digital” is back in 1995. So, what does “let your fingers do the walking” mean, you ask? Scully suggests the phone book, but because she’s always wrong and he’s always right, Mulder is all, “No, silly. It’s the phone.” I’m not sure how he made that leap, but that’s why he’s got a photographic memory and an IQ of 180, while I can’t even get my thesis started six months after I finished school. Scully calls Danny back to get the last number dialed from that phone, and it turns out to be some random driving range. “So, he’s a killer and a golfer,” she snarks as Mulder hangs up. He asks if that rings a bell, and I’m left wondering if this some vague reference to OJ Simpson. Have many other golfers committed homicide? OJ is a golfer, right? Wouldn’t it make more sense to be calling some kind of football playing place, since OJ played football? I don’t know. But Mulder clearly knows exactly what’s going on, and is about to sprint back to the car when he practically purrs, “Let’s go, G-woman.” She looks at him suggestively, and Mulder makes a mental note to call her that again later when they get into bed.

Apparently that driving range was far away, because here we are the following morning and our intrepid duo still hasn’t caught up with him. In fact, Pusher is just casually hitting some golf balls with Asian tourists and pronouncing “good shot” as though he were, I dunno, Canadian, or something. Weird. He tells them that the ball he’s using has a core of uranium. Yeah, right. Oh, I get it. Joke. Heh. Also, it “gets up there like Sputnik”, which I find hilarious because the first time I saw this, when I was 15, I had absolutely NO idea what Sputnik was. Ah, the gullibility of youth. Anyway, he hits the ball, then pumps his fist, then notices several heavily armed SWAT members in camouflage 300 yards away hiding behind trees. Wow, he’s got good vision. He konichiwas the tourists and takes off running as other SWAT members surround the building. One of them finds Pusher and points his gigantic gun with the little tiny red laser light at him. Pusher’s half in shadow, his hands raised in surrender, as he tells the cop to relax. Over and over. SWAT Man obliges, lowering the gun, taking off his helmet and mask as Pusher calls him Colin (so, 1. Pusher knows his name? and 2. What a cute name. Wonder if he’s British and prone to playing droll aristocratic hotties?) and soothes him into a hypnotic state. Pusher steps into the light and my goodness, he’s sweating like crazy. He picks up a tin can full of gasoline (How do I know this? Because the can reads “Gasoline” in big yellow letters, that’s why!) and asks Colin if he’ll do something for him. Colin looks confused, but obliges.

Outside, Mulder and Scully finally arrive at the scene, with Scully in her massive brown overcoat and both of them wielding their firearms. Scully notices Colin, whose name is actually Collins, walking out of the building, soaking wet, holding the can of gas, and trying to light a match while crying. Eeshk. This will not end well. Mulder, Scully, and Burst approach the officer slowly, kind of in disbelief over what he seems to be about to do. Collins screams, “Stop me!” as Mulder tries to convince him to put the lighter down. Scully runs off somewhere, presumably to find some water or a blanket or a fire extinguisher, or something, as Collins finally gets the lighter to flame up. He shakes his head, struggling against himself, as Mulder prepares for the inevitable by taking off his coat. It’s about to get hot out here. Collins goes up like a Christmas tree for a second before Mulder rushes at him with his now ruined Brooks Brothers coat, and Scully douses them both with the retrieved extinguisher. Burst just stands there in horror. Way to be proactive, there, Burst. Mulder and Scully pat Collins down and man, he’s burned up bad. Still alive, though, although I’m not sure that’s a good thing, and muttering, “light it up” over and over. Burst finally springs into action, calling in a burn unit, as Mulder hears a car horn honking insistently nearby.

He leaves the scene and heads over to a white Cadillac parked alone in the adjacent lot, and yanks open the door, gun drawn. Pusher’s in there, looking wiped out and leaning on the horn. He’s muttering, “light it up” over and over, just like Collins. When he notices Mulder, he smiles at him tiredly and snarks, “Betcha five bucks I get off.” Is that Canadian or American bucks, there, Pusher? Because $5 Canadian won’t get you nearly as far, especially in 1995. Ironically, if this happened today, Modell would be specifying Canadian money to get more bang for his buck.

Later, presumably days later, we’re in the Loudon County Courthouse and Pusher is at a hearing for all of these supposed murders. As he rattles off his full name and address (Robert Patrick Modell, for those not in the know), I notice that his lawyer looks like a poorly dressed version of Janet Reno. How unfortunate for her. The judge is sitting at this rinky-dink little table instead of on one of those big bench things, which makes me wonder if all the money budgeted for set design went into the hospital scene that’s at the end of the episode. This crew couldn’t just use the ER set like every other show on television, since they’re in Canada. They probably had to use the Dia gnosis Murder set. Yuck. Anyway, back to the scene. Mulder’s on the stand, trying in vain to explain how Pusher, née Modell, pushes people into doing stuff like killing themselves, while Scully just watches on, her head in her hands. ‘When will he learn not to share his harebrained theories in public?’ she muses. When the judge asks Modell why he confessed to all these murders, he just kinda shrugs, “I was drugged.” Just kidding. He tells them, through his lawyer, that the confession phone call was made as a drunken prank and that he knew crime scene details because he just happened to be in the area. Then Mark Snow’s Violin s of People Being Pushed fades in as we can see the judge begin to waver. Mulder can see this too, and watches helplessly as Modell pushes the judge into letting him go. Mulder’s all, “Holy fuck! He’s doing it right now!”

Later, after the case is dismissed, Modell approaches Mulder and his posse (that would be Scully and Burst, since the trio are so tight nowadays) and demands his five dollars. Mulder moves to retrieve his cash as Modell smiles smugly at Burst, who gives him one hell of an evil eye back. Scully’s just, sorta, “whatever” as Mulder opens his wallet. “Hey, your shoe’s untied,” Mulder teases and Modell looks down. “Made ya look,” Mulder continues, and boy does he look hot in this scene, nay, this episode, “How do you do it?” Mulder pulls out the $5 (American, in case you were curious) and fakes like he’s gonna give it to Modell, but then pulls it back. Modell smiles and walks away. Doesn’t he know Mulder’s too cheap to get rid of $5 that easily? You didn’t even bring him a pizza. But don’t sweat it, Pusher. You may be out $5, but at least you’ve got your freedom. For now. As Modell continues out of the building, Burst chases after him for about .5 seconds, shouting, “I know your name now! I know where you live!” but Mulder just shakes his head like, “it’s no use.”

Even later, as Mulder works out his frustrations with Scully in the bedroom – I mean, at the shooting range – Scully begins to tell him more about their suspect. But Mulder interjects, in that frustratingly charming way, and tells her what she’s about to tell him, “Let me guess. He was an average student, he attended an average community college, he did an average stint in the military.” She’s mildly impressed, although probably used to him doing this, and retorts, “Which branch of service?” To which Mr. Know-it-all replies, “Not his first choice. He wanted to be a Navy Seal and then he wanted to be an Army Special Forces Green Beret. Promptly washed out of both, though not for lack of intelligence. He ended up being a supply clerk at Fort Bragg. Served two years, general discharge.” By now, hopefully she suspects that he already did his own research on Pusher, which makes him a TOTAL ASS for not sharing it with her before. Then she finally surprises him, telling Mulder that Pusher tried to get into the FBI but, surprise! didn’t pass the psych screening. He told a bunch of lame lies, like he was really a ninja. Oh, yeah, I believe that. In the words of Wayne and Garth: Not. Mulder argues that ninjas can cloud the minds of their opponents, just like Pusher did when he put the whammy on the judge in that courtroom. Scully replies, in one of the single greatest lines ever in the history of this series, “Please explain to me the scientific nature of The Whammy.” I’m just going to give you a second to let the brilliance of that line sink in. Done? Okay, so basically, the rest of the conversation is about figuring out that this Whammy phenomenon is recent, because if he could always do it, why isn’t he in the FBI? Hm. Good question. So, his pushing is recent, say, in the past two years? Which is, coincidentally, the time span of the murders. And how does he do it? I’ll let Mulder explain that one: “I don’t know, maybe, maybe it’s some mental aspect of some eastern martial art. You know, the temporary suppressio n of the brain’s chemistry, produced by a specific timbre or cadence in Modell’s voice. His voice seems to be the key.” Yeah.

So, meanwhile, Pusher is walking right through the doors of the FBI but isn’t really because I’ve been on the FBI tour and that isn’t the FBI. Though it’s a pretty good attempt. Anyway, he has a slip of paper sticking out of his pocket that reads PASS, and walks right past Dave Grohl and the guards and right through the metal detectors. Glad to know the FBI security is this top notch. No wonder they’re continually getting their asses handed to them. One thing I do like about the guy who plays Modell is that he’s got the coolest voice. Very whammy-able. Not quite sandpaper over honey, but pretty good, nonetheless. Modell is heading towards the Computer Records department (How archaic is the FBI that, in 1995, they had to differentiate between paper and computer records?) and strides confidently down the more familiar hallways of the X-Files universe. He enters the records office to find Holly, who apparently works in both the Research and Personnel departments. Maybe they’re short-staffed today. Pusher immediately puts the Whammy on her, asking for her help in finding some stuff out as he closes all the blinds in the office. He leans in behind her as she types her way into the personnel files, even though he mouse would be a far more likely tool to use. A window pops up on the screen, which reads, “Warning. The contents of personnel files are the sole property of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No access without the express authorization of the director.” Why would they have this kind of warning on a system that, theoretically, can only be accessed from inside the FBI? I think those people pretty much already know that those files are confidential. Duh. But I guess maybe your mother could stop by the office for a visit, sneak into the personnel department, and type her way into the files because she has a hankerin’ to find out if that nice-looking young man in the basement is married. But believe me, Mom, those computers don’t know jack, because they list him as single even though Duchovny, to the fru strations of several million people, gave Mulder an old wedding ring in a future episode. As a joke. Ha ha ha… NO. NOT FUNNY. Anyway, Holly, who works for the FBI, bypasses the warning and hands the reins over to Pusher, who pulls up a specific file. He asks Holly for a printout and a cup of coffee, which is only mildly chauvinistic of him, but then notices her bruise from the mugging. He rubs it lightly, telling her that he wishes he could avenge her. He’d make him pay. Which is kinda sweet of Pusher to say, actually. Aside from the fact that he’s a lunatic serial killer.

Holly just sort of stares blankly at Pusher for a moment as Skinner walks by the office and notices the drawn blinds. Ah, Skinner. I heart you so. You look so much like my big brother, it’s creepy, so I find it personally revolting when people ask me if I think you’re hot. Nonetheless, you’re awesome. He enters the office to see Pusher and Holly standing over a printout, and he gets instantly defensive. “May I help you?” he asks Pusher. He notices that Pusher was accessing confidential files and puts him in a headlock, slamming him against a filing cabinet. Pusher makes some refere nce to Mel Cooley, who I think is a bald guy from TV or something (yet another reference that I’m too young for), as Skinner warns him to shut up. [Ed. note: Yup. Mel Cooley was the bald, bespectacled, persnickety boss on the Dick Van Dyke Show. Well. I'll just walk myself on back to the Retirement Castle. –Lurkey] Pusher tells Holly that Skinner’s the one who mugged her while Skinner’s just trying to get her to call security. Holly, still officially Whammied, pulls out a can of mace and squirts Skinner in the eye. Pusher escapes as Holly starts kicking Skinner in the gut with remarkable strength for such a small girl.

Moments later, Holly’s all doe eyes and apologies as she explains how she doesn’t know what came over her. Scully’s in Skinner’s office now, too, along with several members of security. Skinner, clearly embarrassed that he was just beaten up by a girl, shoos the other agents out of the office until it’s just the three of them. He closes the door and Scully launches into her interview spiel with the same gusto that she normally uses for orphaned demon children or baseball-loving, liver-needing, pre- Indy 4 Shia LeBouf types. Holly explains that she was watching herself beat Skinner up without controlling her own body, kind of like what those worms in Ice did, but this isn’t mentioned because continuity is in no way t his show’s strong suit. Mulder quietly enters the room, mumbling to himself, “Do we have to pretend to care about her again?” all whiny before realizing that she’s now involved in the Pusher case. His face brightens. Mulder asks to speak with The Skinman outside and Scully tags along. Mulder tells them about Pusher coming right through security in the same disbelieving tone I used in my head earlier when describing that scene. Skinner remarks, “and you’re saying this mysterious phenomenon is the same reason I have a size seven heel mark on my face?” Heh. Yup. Scully agrees with Mulder ( what?!), but (whew) isn’t sure how Pusher does it.

Skinner asks Mulder why Pusher is so interested in him, but we all know the answer to that question: It’s always about Mulder. Duh. Skinner makes a point to say that Mulder’s file is the only one accessed (take a note for later), and Scully’s all worried because now Pusher knows where he lives. “You can stay at my place, Mulder,” she offers suggestively as Skinner rolls his eyes, “I just changed the sheets,” she continues, but then tries to cover when she realizes that Skinner’s still with them, “… on the sofa bed, I mean.” She blushes.

Skinner orders them to put a warrant out on Pusher for criminal trespass, and the very next scene is SWAT busting down Pusher’s apartment door. I guess this level of efficiency makes up for dropping the ball back at the golf course, although it’s dark now, so maybe they’re just as bad as before. SWAT swarm through the empty apartment before Mulder and Scully enter. Svengali is appropriately playing on the television (he could hypnotize people, right?) as Mulder sticks the aforementioned warrant to Sven’s face. A gun-toting badass informs them that, indeed, the apartment is empty, and he’s told to search neighboring buildings because “Modell likes to watch from a distance.” Burst makes himself known now, and tells them that he’ll talk to all the other tenants. Who, I’m sure, will invite him in and show him to the smooth-talkin’ killer in the kitchen. As Burst heads out the door, Mulder snaps on the latex (which he knows Scully loves), and decides to help himself to a midnight snack. He pulls open the fridge door to find a massive amount of Carbo-Boost drinks. If these are the same ones from the teaser, he must have escaped from the cop car and gone back to the store. Guy really likes his Carbo-Boost. Mulder informs us, helpfully, that the flavor that Pusher prefers is “Mango Kiwi Tropical Swirl”. Yum. < /SPAN>Now we know we’re dealing with a madman. Oh, wait. I didn’t think that last line. It came out of Mulder’s mouth. Oops.

Morning. Or a few minutes later, depending on how important lighting really is to you. Mulder’s looking at Modell’s astonishingly bad book collection (which includes titles such as The Modular Brain and Living By Zen) as Scully’s on the phone doing… something medical. She hangs up and holds up a bottle of Tegratol (forgive me if I spelled that wrong, because it’s so not worth looking up), explaining that Modell has “temporal lobe epilepsy” and has had it for about a year. They guess that it was caused by a tumor and Mulder launches into his “theory” (air quotes necessary) that “Modell’s suggestive ability is a form of psychokinesis brought on by the brain tumor”. Scully kinda buys it, but argues that Modell must have one helluva headache, or as she puts it, “he simply wouldn’t be well enough to play these cat-and-mouse games.” There’s a joke here about Mulder playfully chasing Scully around the couch a la cat and mouse, but I can’t quite get the bat off my shoulder on that one. Anyway, this sets Mulder theorizing that Modell didn’t want to be captured at the driving range, but that he was too sick to escape. Doesn’t it suck that his random theories which he seems to pull out of his ass always end up being right? I mean, like, 98.9% of the time? And, on that note, do you know why I’m referencing other episodes like every other sentence? Becau se it’s driving me nuts. Even if it’s kinda fun. Well, we all know where this is going. Something about bangs and whimpers as the phone rings.

Burst, back now, picks up the phone while cops scramble to get the tracer. Mulder picks up the bedroom line as Scully sits down on the bed beside him (They’re close together? In the bedroom? Is that some kind of message, Chris Carter? If so, IT’S TOO VAGUE!). Modell asks for the duo, and Mulder answers that they’re there. Hey, it’s Curtis working the trace! Cool! Anyway, Curtis motions to Burst that the trace is up and running and Burst tries to keep Modell on the phone long enough to get a signal. Modell starts talking about Burst’s siz e and weight and how he’s “built like a Mack truck”, which doesn’t sound as good as my “the guy’s a tree” from before, but whatever. The point is, Mulder and Scully listen helplessly as Pusher basically wills Burst into a heart attack. Mulder wants Burst to hang up but he’s determined to get a trace. Ooh, there he goes. Down like a… tree. Beeeeeeeeep. Scully is held back by the SWAT guys, who apparently like to watch people have heart attacks in front of them, as Mulder picks up the phone. Modell wants a worthy adversary, and has picked Mulder based on his FBI file. And because, as I may have mentioned before, it’s ALL about Mul der.

Mulder calls Modell on his illness and he shrugs it off with “everybody dies” before they hurl clichés at each other in a way that is both less clever and less cutesy than in The Unnatural three years later. Mulder implores Modell to tell them where he is, and he willingly gives them the phone number that Burst just died for. It’s just a pay phone, he tells them, and he’ll be gone in a minute. Curtis is shocked – shocked! – that Modell just killed Burst for nothing. Have you not been paying attention, Curtis? Modell just killed his adversary because he wasn’t worthy! Hello? It’s kind a what he’s been going on and on about all episode. Anyway, Mulder tells Modell that he’s a “sick bastard’ for killing Burst just as Modell hangs up. Mulder tosses the phone on the ground with a loud thunk as Curtis shows him where the pay phone is on a nifty computerized map (this must be before Mapquest, right?). Right by the hospital where that Tegratol was prescribed. Finally, Scully has some lines. She tells him that must be where Pusher gets his regular treatments.

More SWAT, this time surrounding Fairfax County Hospital. Wow, those SWAT extras are really getting a lot of face time today. Ooh, one of them points out a warm car, which turns out to be Modell’s. Mulder and Scully are hanging out in a van with Curtis as Scully finds out that Modell has a 2:30 MRI. Right now. So it really is daytime. My bad. Mulder wants to go in to the hospital on his own. Scully’s all worried, but Mulder’s explanation that one SWAT member can be turned against the others makes sense. Plus, it’s all about Mulder. Scully’s really not happy about this whole situation, but says nothing as Mulder gets loaded up with his little side-of-face camera and microphone, complete with tiny backpack! He jokes about getting the Playboy Channel before panning over to Scully, whose face says two things. 1. Really? Here? You’re talking about porn here? And 2. I don’t like this one bit. He tells her to smile, but knows how worried she is. He hands her his firearm, insisting that he doesn’t want to end up firing it at anyone except Modell. They hold hands for a moment and do that eye-talking thing before Mulder heads inside the hospital.

I love how he just walks into the hospital, all SWAT-geared out, while people are staring at him like he’s a total freak. Then he flashes his badge and tells people to go about their business, “as usual.” If I saw someone dressed like that, with his freaked-out expression, I’d be running for the nearest exit. But whatever. Mulder finds the MRI… area… as Curtis and Scully watch Mulder’s video feed. Ooh, two shots are fired and Mulder starts running. OF COURSE his camera goes out. Scully sprints for the door but then Mulder’s video feed returns. Dead bodies. That’s never good. At least none of them is Mulder. “It looks like the guard shot the technician and then shot himself.” The guard’s gun is missing. Mulder warns Curtis (whose character’s name is actually Brophy, but I like Curtis better) that Modell is armed, and he forwards that information on to the SWAT boys. As Mulder is passing Modell’s brain scan on the computer, Scully tells him to get closer so she can read it. Look at these two, eh? Communication, like, unspoken. Nice. Except, in this case, it’s spoken. So, they were right – it’s a tumor (Does anyone else have the urge to shout “It’s not a Tooomah” in an Ahnold voice? No? Just me? Okay…). Mulder’s sweating buckets as he discovers that – duh – Modell’s dying. Scully begs him to get out of there, but it’s no use. Modell has the guard’s gun to Mulder’s head. Dun. Dun. Duuuuun.

Scully runs into the hospital, Curtis trailing behind, trying to get her to at least put on a damn bullet-proof vest, woman! Who do you think you are, Jack Bauer? You don’t even have a man-bag! She hands off her weapon as the SWAT guys clear her for entry into the hallway. She enters one of the hospital rooms to find Mulder and Modell calmly sitting at a small table. They’re just… staring at each other. Uh, oh. Mulder’s been whammied. As Scully tells Modell how hopeless his situation really is, I can’t help but gasp in amazement at how the light catches her hair. It’s so pretty. I tried so hard to replicate that color and, lemme tell you, that shit is hard. Plus, I learned that my naturally dark brown hair grows REALLY fast. But that’s neither here nor there.

Scully notices the gun, placed between Modell’s resting hands, as she moves to sit down. Her eyes never leave the gun as Modell picks it up, blathering on about ninja warriors and nemeses and it all sounds very comic-book-y. Mulder’s expression can best be described as a cross between his panic face and what must be his constipation face. It’s a little funny, actually. Which it shouldn’t be because this scene both kicks ass and is hella tense. Modell tells Mulder that he’s trained to “disregard his own death” and basically challenges Mulder to a little game called Russian Roulette. A one in six chance to take out his enemy. M ulder picks up the gun, but Modell stops him, reminding him with fear in his voice – one pull. Mulder lifts the gun, all the while Scully imploring him to come to his damn senses and put the gun down. He’s not listening. As usual. He pulls the trigger, but the gun doesn’t go off. One in six. Now it’s Mulder’s turn, and this is where Scully starts to panic. She’s practically begging as Mulder doesn’t even think before pulling the trigger at his own forehead. Whew. No bullet there, either. Scully stands, shouting at Pusher, “Damn you!” Mulder grabs her arm and slowly points the gun at her. Ahh, there’s his panic face. Oh, and there’s hers, too. She’s all, “What the fuck??” as he practically begs her with his eyes to stop him. This has been mentioned a ton, but it means a lot when it’s harder for him to shoot her than it is to shoot himself. It says a lot about how he feels about her, as well as how little regard he has for his own life. But that’s an analysis for a more serious discussion. This is supposed to be fun and snarky, right? Anyway, Scully’s tearing up and Modell’s encouraging him to shoot her like she did him b ecause he “read it in her file”. Which – remember when I said to pay attention when Skinner mentioned that Mulder’s file was the only one accessed? Ever heard of a plot hole? Because I think we all just fell in a big one. Anyway, as Modell is ranting and Mulder is struggling, Scully checks herself out in the mirror over in front of her. Just kidding. She notices the fire alarm pull thingy and slowly backs up toward it. Mulder tells her to run while almost pulling the trigger. She succeeds in tripping the alarm, which snaps Mulder out of being whammied just enough to alter his aim, and he blows Modell away. Yeah! Modell’s down, Scully’s safe, and Mulder’s trying helplessly to unload the rest of the nonexistent bullets into Modell’s prone body. He’s really pissed. SWAT rush the room as Scully stares at Mulder, who stares at Modell. He sits down and hands her the gun, resting his face in his hands.

Later. Modell is hooked up to a ventilator with bandages all over his face. Apparently those nonexistent bullets hit something because it didn’t appear that he’d gotten shot in the head at all. Scully walks up to Mulder, explaining that Modell will never gain consciousness (wow, for a Medical Doctor, she sure can misdiagnose). Mulder explains that Modell had been refusing treatment because he liked his power so much he didn’t want the tumor taken out. Scully reaches for Mulder’s hand and suggests that Modell not take up another minute of their time. She lets go, and he follows her out of the room. The end. Finally! I’ve been working on this one for like three months! Next up? Kitsunegari. Groan.

Recap by Adrienne (aka Starbucket)