1×18: SHAPES

by louloublu

Stormy night: shot of a scary wolf, then a hawk. Oh no wait they’re just stuffed animals. Not toy ones you understand, but shot and killed and taxidermified ones. Actually I think I should write that episode. Mulder and Scully investigate the case of several people seemingly murdered by stuffed animals. Not toy ones you understand, but shot and killed and taxidermified ones. Or toy ones. Actually both could work. However we all know that this is Shapes and there are no such hi-jinks to be had here. This is our requisite Season 1 werewolf story. You can just imagine the folks at Fox, “Ok so, we’ve done the alien episode, the other alien episode, the parasitic worms buried in the ice for millions of years episode, the liver-eating mutant episode, now we’d like you to do werewolves” Sounded like a good idea at the time. Also as I write this the X-Phile community is recovering from the rumour that the upcoming X-Files movie has a werewolf-centric plot. It doesn’t thankfully and I am remaining optimistic until opening day. I wonder if I will look back on this recap and laugh or cry?

So back on the matter at hand: a strong looking man in his 50’s with a cowboy hat and a mustache and his son (mid 20’s, kinda cute) load up their shotguns. They both look grim. There is some sort of god-awful howling coming from outside. We are on the Two Medicine Ranch, Browning, Montana. The man and his son go outside to check on the cattle. It is a wet and misty night.  They split up. The son goes to check inside a barn. There is something there but in true X-Files style we can’t flippin see it. There’s just a faint hissing as the camera passes over something black. The young man goes back outside and finds one of the cattle dead. Thankfully we are not treated to the gruesome nature of its death but the look on the sons face says it all. He stands, realizing there is something there. He walks back towards the barn. Wrong way guy! He is then jumped on by the biggest teddy bear I’ve ever seen. Except it’s a werewolf shaped teddy bear. Be scared everyone! There is a terrible, blurry shot of the face of the creature supposedly savaging the young rancher then throwing him aside. The father runs over and seeing his son being thrown to the ground and shoots the creature. He goes to check on his son then looks over at the creature who, conveniently lit by a flash of lightning is revealed to be a naked man with a rather large wound on his chest. Those trick-or-treaters!!!

Credits. Hi David, hi Gillian, hi stretchy faced guy.

We are inside the ranch with Mulder, Scully, the older rancher, Jim Parker, his son Lyle and their lawyer. Jim exposits that his cattle are being killed on the ranch, and that this was the fourth one this month. He says it looked like it went through a paper shredder and no animal he knows could have done it. Mulder ask if he thinks it was “a person or persons”. Oh Mulder, you are so grammatically correct. The lawyer reminds Moose and Squirrel that Jim has been freed on bail and is speaking to them willfully about this case. You see, this case and no others. Scully, ever the intrepid investigator puts two and two together and asks if he means they can’t ask about Jim Parker’s Federal court case against the local Trego Indian reservation. Lawyer says that’s exactly what he means. Jim interrupts to say that this a land dispute that he wants to resolve in court and he is sorry Joseph Goodensnake is dead but that it did not look like any animal he’d ever seen and directs them to look at Lyle’s scars. He is bandaged but there are four deep scratches peeking out from the top of the bandage. Jim goes on to say that he thought he saw red eyes and fangs and “nobody, nobody was more shocked and upset that I was to find out it was that young Indian boy. But if he was the one that was killing our cattle then I’m very, very sorry that we had to find out about it that way but as far as I’m concerned that’s the end of it”. It’s a nice piece of acting from Donnelly Rhodes. So there you have it folks. Is it a werewolf or is it just good ol’ racism? Well we all know it’s the werewolf but that doesn’t mean racism won’t rear its ugly head later in this episode.

Lyle leads Mulder and Scully outside and oh my, he is very cute. He tells them that lately when checking the cattle that they never saw anything strange; animal, vegetable or mineral. He directs this at Scully with a nice and gentlemanly “Agent Scully” at the end. Woooo, he likes you. And let’s face it she could do a lot worse what with cutting her ties with Colton and her old FBI buddies and giving the boring Jersey Devil guy the brush off and Mulder just hugging her after she walks into his room in her underwear. You gotta take it where you find it girlfriend is all I’m saying. While Scully is figuring this out in her head Lyle continues with his awfully written speech. Apparently he couldn’t see anything but he could “feel” it and that it was like “nature herself was terrified.” Sorry I nodded off there for a sec. He says it gave him “the creeps”. “The creeps”, Scully repeats like it’s a foreign word that she’s only heard for the first time. Oh how I love naïve little Scully. Yes Scully, the creeps; the feelings you get when you are watching all those scary-ass horror movies you are so fond of.

The dynamic duo faf about at the scene of the shooting while Scully reckons that Jim could never have mistaken a human for an animal and that the case is “open and shut”. I’m not really listening to her as all I can hear is the screams of the hairstylist trying to keep Gillian Anderson’s hair sleek in the fine Vancouver rain. Gillian has her umbrella practically glued to the top of her head. Mulder isn’t listening either, though it’s not Scully’s barnet that has him engrossed. There in the deep mud are footprints, the first human, the rest more…more wolf-like. Cue spooky music.

Upon leaving the barn Scully concludes that there is “nothing unexplainable about this case”. Mulder sidles alongside her hiding something behind his back. “No, not a thing” he agrees. Or does he, as he holds up a tweezers with a piece of shed skin which looks to be in the shape of a hand? No, actually I don’t think he does.

The agents go to examine Joe Goodensnake’s body which is being held by reservation authorities by Sheriff Tscani. Man, is Montana muddy. They go into a local tavern to ask for him and are ignored. Mulder stands in the middle of the tavern and asks out loud if anyone knows the sheriff. “Go home FBI”, Mulder is informed by the local wiseman, soothsayer, druid, shaman guy who apparently can smell an FBI agent from fifty paces. “Well, they tell me that even though my deodorants made for a woman it’s strong enough for a man”, Mulder snarks. The Feds have been here before and the shaman Ish doesn’t like them. Mulder, telling him that he wants to believe, asks if he knows of a creature that can make the footprints he saw. Ish says that Parker shot that creature. Then at the sound of loud bang of a pool cue we are introduced to Joe Goodensnake’s sister, Gwen who doesn’t like the FBI anymore that Ish. She shouts that it was her brother that was killed and they are too afraid of the “stupid Indian legend” to do anything about it.  She storms off like the teenager she isn’t.

Enter Sheriff Tscani. Scully approaches but pronounces his name Tuscany. Bad move Scully. She extends her hand but he declines. The sheriff, who is pictured in my dictionary alongside the word surly tells them, “Goodensnakes body’s in my office” and walks out. What, no coffee?

They walk to a small wooden building which houses his office. It is manned by two Native Americans with traditional face-paint and headdress. Tscani tells them to stand down. They are called Bill and Tom. I feel like I was supposed to be surprised by the fact that they have traditional western names but I wasn’t. Oh well. Inside the office Tscani informs the Feds that the boys (though one of them looks older that Mulder, the one on the right, our right, now you see it) are guardians of the dead who escort the dead spirits to the new world. Tscani won’t let them in the building however, as he prefers to keep “the ancient beliefs out there, and the police work in here”. Ah, so he’s conflicted. It is a nice character touch though. This is one reason why this episode frustrates me so. I like how all the Native American characters don’t have the exact same beliefs and the performances are good. The anger and frustration on both sides is genuine. It’s just the actual X-File sucks so much and is executed so badly you don’t really care by the end of it.

Back to business. Mulder asks Tscani about the legend mentioned by Gwen to which Tscani pissily retorts he is not an Indian guide here to answer their questions. Mulder’s stature is apologetic but Tscani continues, to say he can never get federal help when he needs it and they may see the body as the case falls under their jurisdiction. He leads them to the next room which contains Goodensnake’s body. He tells Moose and Squirrel that it was actually the Goodensnakes that filed the suit against the Parkers and not the other way around. On the body Scully observes a wound similar to hot Lyle Parkers though it is much older. Mulder looks in his mouth and interrupts to say they need to look at his dental records. Guess what you guys? Joe Goodensnake has extra-long and extra-pointy cuspids. Yaay!

Cue dental x-ray of Joe Goodensnake where all his teeth are of a requisite length and pointiness. Mulder and Scully want to do an autopsy and Tscani is all like, “no way, that is like sooooo totally against our beliefs” and Mulder is all like “come ooooon, I wanna find a werewolf.” The body is being cremated that night so, well, you know. Mulder asks Tscani if he believes Goodensnake’s spirit is in the room. Tscani doesn’t answer, but makes the valid point that Mulder and Scully will be gone in a day or two but he still has to answer to the people of the reservation. He will allow them to continue the investigation but without the autopsy. From what I can gather Tscani doesn’t really believe the legends but he is also afraid not to believe them.

Mulder and Scully sit in the car at the site of the cremation. There is a high and ornate structure of logs, atop of which sits the body wrapped in white material. An elderly Indian man wearing the full regalia is chanting around the area. Our buddies Bill & Tom are there too. Scully questions Mulder on why they are there here. The very first X-File opened by J. Edgar described a similar case in 1946. It was buried but the same scenario happened in ‘54, ‘59, ‘64, ‘78, and ’94. He also produces a file which describes stories from Lewis & Clark which happened 150 years previous to that first case. Wow I’m really glad they didn’t make The X-Files in the 40’s. If the pilot was J. Edgar investigating a werewolf case I would not have watched. Not surprisingly Scully ain’t buying it and thinks it’s lycanthropy AKA I-think-I’m-a-werewolf-itis. As they exit the car Mulder angrily asks her how she can ignore the evidence. Scully retorts that it doesn’t matter if he is right or not as the body will be burned in a few hours. I just have to mention here how cute Scully is in her moon boots. I’m so glad Carrie Bradshaw was never recruited by the FBI. She could never have coped with this type of thing. Scully stalks off while Mulder and Ish regard one another with respectful nods.

Scully approaches Gwen who tells her angrily that she should not be here. Scully tries to placate her by saying that she is sorry for her and anyone who loses part of their family. Gwen replies that Joe was her whole family. She then passes Scully what looks like to be a necklace made from feathers and animal teeth. Scully is touched by the gesture. Not for long though as Gwen storms off once again telling her, “he had more possessions than he had friends.” Burn.

Sheriff Tscani then shows up, looking you guessed it, surly. Mulder saunters up beside him complimenting him on his report on the case. Oh I get it Mulder, get him on your side then hit with your version of a roundhouse kick, i.e. a kerrazy question about the paranormal. Mulder turns to Tscani and asks, “Charlie, do you believe in shape-shifting?” “This is a funeral.” Ha! Also once again he has managed to not answer any of Mulders questions.

Night fall, and the elder who looks to be wearing a dead wolf on his head lights the pile of wood that Joe Goodensnake rests upon. There is much chanting as all the wood takes light. I know nothing of Native American traditions so I don’t know how accurate this scene is but the portrayal of the funeral is at the very least respectful. I like how Mulder and Scully accepted the will of Tscani not to autopsy the body where I think many shows would have the crusading investigators beat down every door to find the answers. Sometimes answers aren’t important when a loved one has been lost. Anyway, the ceremony continues and the mourners look on, well, mournfully. There is a sound of a horse cantering and we are treated to hot Lyle on horseback. See Scully, he’s on horseback and he’s hot. Sure he’s a werewolf but nobody’s perfect. At least he doesn’t have all Mulder’s emotional problems. Lyle says he just wants to pay his respects. Gwen gets all shouty at Lyle but to be honest if someone shot my brother then claimed he were a werewolf I’d be mad too. She wants his heart to grow cold and feel what she’s feeling.  She spits on the ground in front of him. Tscani tells him to leave. Lyle sorrowfully says that he wishes Joe could be here more that anything else. He turns the horse and leaves. I notice Scully doesn’t follow him. Her loss. Gwen does another little stormy thing. I swear she practices in front of the bedroom mirror, right down to the hair toss. She stands with great sadness if front of her brothers burning body. Mulder looks at her sympathetically and hotly. By that I mean he looks hot and not that he thinks Gwen is hot. And by looks hot I mean that he is attractive and not overly warm due to close proximity to the cremation. I’m doing it again, aren’t I?

Cut to Jim Parker sitting on his porch. He is smoking a cigar when he hears something. He sets down a large glass of whiskey. I may go back to get it when I finish this recap. He steps off the porch to investigate and looks around. He sees a wind-chime and chides himself for being so silly. Actually, not that silly as we are treated to a shot of half the werewolf’s face as he growls at Jim. Jim turns back to the porch when he is attacked from behind by the werewolf. Hey, at least they are consistent in their MO. Safe to say poor ol’ Jim Parker is dead.

The next morning and Scully is shooting the breeze with Sheriff Tscani. According to her, Jim Parkers body was mutilated by a predator or someone who wanted it to look like a predator. That’s quite the MO Scully. I sometimes wonder if she actually hears herself. She asks about the whereabouts of Gwen Goodensnake. Tscani says that she hasn’t been seen since the funeral and that they’ve put out an APB on her. Seriously, her brother was murdered, cremated the previous day and she’s done a tiny disappearing act. She’s probably drinking herself into a stupor like any good angry adult who acts like a teenager should. So the obvious thing is to issue an APB.  Uh, have you tried say, her house? Passed out on the couch perhaps? Behind the bleachers at the local high school? The Max? Hot Lyle is nowhere to be found either. Uh, have you tried Scully’s motel room. Actually he’s not there, he’s in my motel room. As part of my thorough research into this recap I flew to Montana and met and fell in love with the real Lyle Parker. We rode on horseback through the misty yet muddy Montana night. Scully goes to check out more of the scene.

Mulder is walking through a field behind the house. He crouches down as he has just seen a big disgusting clump of hair. He looks to his left and sees a piece of shed skin similar to the one at the first crime scene. Oh Mulder, you are so pretty in this shot and your hair is so shiny.

Back to Scully on the farm, she passes a cage with a mountain lion in it. As we know all ranchers capture mountain lions then keep them in too small cages on their homesteads.  He scares Scully enough for her (and us) to remember that he is there in a future scene. Sorry if I’ve ruined this episode for you. She walks some more to see hot Lyle lying hotly (see above) and nekkid on the hill. A moment for hot nekkid Lyle please…..

Tscani removes a tooth from Jim’s body like one that was on the necklace Gwen gave Scully. Mulder comes up behind him and comments how it’s not from any animal he’s ever seen and insists that he and Tscani have a talk, “an exchange of ideas” They both turn to see Scully walking hot Lyle down the hill with a blanket wrapped round him that Scully got…in her pocket? His feet look good and hairy. She is taking him to the hospital.

At the hospital hot Lyle tells Scully that he started drinking bourbon after the funeral and went to a spot on the ranch where they kept stray animals. He imagines he must’ve been pretty wasted to run around naked. I don’t know, I’ve seen sober people do worse. Hot Lyle can’t remember anything of the evening and Scully reluctantly informs him that his father is dead. She believes it was a homicide covered up to look like a mutilation. She tries to make him feel better by telling him of Papa Scully’s death and she understands his feelings. Hot Lyle is only concerned that the attack may have been retaliation for Joe Goodensnake’s death. Well it is as a result of it so he’s half right. Lyle is devastated at the idea of him possibly being responsible and breaks down. Scully touches his arm gently. Hey, paws off Scully! Jokes aside however, there is a nice chemistry between Scully and hot Lyle. I wish Scully had hooked up with a werewolf. After all Mulder will hook up with a vampire in 3 and she is waaaay freakier that this guy.

Mulder and Tscani pay a visit to Ish. He tells Mulder, “I sense you are different FBI, you are more open to Native American belief than some Native Americans.” He shoots Tscani a very hairy eyeball. “You even have an Indian name: Fox. It should be running Fox or sneaky Fox”. Mulder seems genuinely charmed by Ish and replies, “just as long as it’s not spooky Fox.”  Ish has seen the creature before, in 1946. Unfortunately the story is really boring. Safe to say the rules for werewolves are the same as vampires. And also the werewolf gene can be passed along bloodlines. Tscani posits that it could have been Gwen that killed Jim Parker.

A really small sound from outside brings the three men out, all guns blazing to find Gwen backing out in Ish’s pick-up. Tscani hauls her out and puts her under arrest for stealing Ish’s car. Wow, Tscani is strict. I would not loiter around the Trego reservation. Gwen babbles about having seen “it kill Parker.” So she didn’t kill him then. Wow that storyline lasted all of 30 seconds. She is scared witless and breaks down on Tscani’s shoulder. Thankfully she has cheered up no end by the time Scully needs her help breaking the Anasazi code.

Mulder calls the hospital looking for Scully. Ah, the days of poor coverage! She has taken Hot Lyle back to the ranch. The doctor tells Mulder that they found traces of his father’s blood in hot Lyle’s system that could have been there through ingestion. We then see an extremely innocent looking Scully driving hot Lyle. Do you see? She has no idea what awaits her. They get back to the ranch and of course it is a full moon. The power is of course out so hot Lyle goes looking for the one sleeping bag in the house to generate body heat. Sorry, I meant he offers to go and fire up the generator. He doubles over in pain. That hospital food is a bitch, ain’t it? Scully helps him to the bathroom.

Mulder and Tscani are en-route to the Parker ranch. Mulder is trying to call from his cell but cannot get any signal so Tscani puts the pedal to the metal.

Back on the ranch hot Lyle is all bothered in the bathroom. Scully insists she take him back to the hospital. Hot Lyle says he’s fine while taking off his shirt (good) and turning into a werewolf (bad). Meanwhile, while Scully is trying to pick the bathroom lock while not so hot Lyle (c’mon, you all knew that was coming) literally busts through the door. Scully is knocked to the floor and loses her gun.

Mulder and Tscani pull up outside the ranch. They split up. Mulder walks inside and finds werewolfy type scratches on the wall. He whisper-shouts for Scully. There is a sound and Mulder shoots at the werewolf shaped teddy bear several times. Wolfy heads upstairs and Mulder shoots again. Wow Mulder, pretty trigger happy there aren’t we? At the top of the stairs he is intercepted by Scully and she stands very close to him to tell him something jumped her and she lost her gun. Ah scene of close talking how I love thee. So Moose and Squirrel go hunting the werewolf. There is plenty of confusion with the lack of light and the stuffed animals. Finally the werewolf jumps them from behind (you see, again with the MO) and there is a gunshot. Tscani appears at the door and asks if they are ok. Mulder shines the flashlight on dead Lyle. On no! Scully says he was in the bathroom before they were attacked by the mountain lion. Sure Scully. Tscani tells her the lion is still in his cage. Probably the mountain lion made it look like a werewolf before locking himself back in his cage. Probably.

Back on the Trego reservation Mulder and Scully leave Tscani’s office. Mulder enquires after Gwen as she apparently promised to meet them before they left. Tscani tells them she pulled up sticks and left last night, giving away all her possessions. I guess Gwen had more friends than possessions. “Perhaps she saw something she wasn’t ready to understand”, he says. Fox and Danes shake the sheriffs’ hand and head towards their car. While they do that I recapitulate. So Joe, Jim and Lyle all die. Gwen leaves. The lawsuit, I assume doesn’t get sorted if Gwen gives all her stuff away and high-tails it off to who knows where. Scully doesn’t hook up and Mulder makes a new friend in Ish. I guess the cases that contribute to their high solve rate happen exclusively in fanfic. So what Chris Carter took from this episode is Native Americans good, werewolves bad. As a result we see Native Americans more than once in the series more and werewolves strike the fear of god into X-Philes when part of movie spoilers. Hurrah!

Mulder and Scully get to the car. Wow that was a long walk. “FBI”, Ish calls to Mulder “see you in about eight years.” “I hope not,” Mulder replies. Yeah, you and me both. Sorry Ish, nothing personal.

This recap was brought to you by a walnut protein bar, a chocolate rice cake and the amazing, restorative, inspirational qualities of tea. I thank you.