4×04 – Unruhe
Recap by ijustworkhere
Unruhe! I love this episode. It’s scary, it’s tense, it has a great guest star/villain, and we get to see Mulder lose his shit over Scully in peril. Admittedly, the Scully-in-peril trope gets pretty old after a while, but back in Season 4 it still worked. I would also like to mention before we start that both Duchovny and Anderson are wicked hot as blazes in this episode. I consider the capture scene with Krycek in Tunguska to be the ultimate pinnacle of Mulder/Scully hotness–between the riot gear, the low lighting, Scully’s gorgeous hair, and Nick Lea, it’s like a supernova of hot–but Unruhe has some great hair and clothes for both of them and some absolutely beautiful photography. So brace yourselves. Onward!
We open on some of that Vancouver rain we’ve all heard so much about, as we see a yellow VW bug pull up outside a small drugstore. The time/date stamp tells us we’re in Traverse City, Michigan. That can’t be a real place. Inside the bug, a couple of upstanding young Canadians have a terse conversation about the passport photo the blonde girl is going inside to get, as said blonde girl applies lipstick carefully. “It’s just a damn passport photo. It’s not the cover of Vogue,” the guy snipes. “There’s no reason I have to look like hell in it,” the blonde girl replies. Sing it, sister. I got a facial the day before my passport photo and spent an hour and a half on hair and makeup. Ten years is a long time to have a single photo represent you to the world’s customs agents, is all. The guy tells the girl to “act natural” as a police car rolls past in the rain, so clearly I misjudged their upstandingness a few sentences back. Blonde girl gets out of the car and says she’ll be back in ten. “Make it five,” the guy tells her grumpily, and says he’ll be around back. Boy, he’s a keeper. These two actors have unusually thick Canadian accents. Inside the drugstore, a kindly-looking old store clerk is taking blonde girl’s picture. She looks exactly like a cross between Meg Ryan and whoever that girl was who played Terri Roberts in Syzygy. She smiles big as the kindly old store clerk snaps the photo. They make small talk about her trip and the weather and he says the photo will take a couple minutes to develop. The door opens and a man wearing Sam Seaborn’s foul weather gear enters the store; we can’t see his face. Dude. You look like the Gorton’s fisherman. I live in Portland. Trust me, you can get by just fine with some good wellies and a raincoat, you don’t have to go crazy.
Blonde girl tries to pay for the photo, but realizes she left her money in the car and says she’ll be back. “I’ll be here,” the kindly old store clerk says, not at all creepily. The Gorton’s fisherman goes out the door after blonde girl. Outside, it appears to be a sun shower–those are always fun and surreal–and I can’t help but notice that blonde girl’s umbrella is a very nice Burberry-like plaid. She’s walking around presumably to where her boyfriend is waiting with the car when the Gorton’s fisherman bumps her from behind. She squeals in pain. “Hey, you jerk!” But the Gorton’s fisherman just keeps on walking. Serial killers tend to do that. Blonde girl winces some more and gets that hazy early-stages-of-being-drugged look. She stumbles down a set of steps to the parking lot behind the store, calling for her boyfriend, who is sitting there in the yellow bug just like he said. Except, oh noes, there is blood coming out of his ear and a smoking cigarette dangling from his cold dead lips! Blonde girl has no time to properly freak her shit as the drug takes hold fully. She goes sprawling to the rain-soaked ground. A car pulls up and the Gorton’s fisherman gets out as blonde girl gasps and writhes on the ground, still conscious. Man, she doesn’t look all that much bigger than Scully, but later on Scully goes down in like two seconds flat, so maybe the Gorton’s fisherman is still experimenting with dosage at this point. He leans over blonde girl menacingly as she passes out. Back inside the drugstore, the kindly old store clerk is all, “The old ‘forgot my wallet’ ploy, right, I’m too old for this shit,” as it seems blonde girl is not coming back after all. He peels the backing off the Polaroid and is shocked and disturbed to see, instead of the smiling picture he took, a swirly shadow hellscape with blonde girl right in the middle, her face a rictus of terror, screaming up into the camera. Good Photoshop job, prop guys. Props on that. Hah! Sorry, I’ll stop.
Credits. Can someone please explain to me what the hell the image behind the “paranormal activity” caption is supposed to be? The two blue… things being pulled away from a brown… thing? Maybe the blue things have tusks of some kind? I swear, I’ve been trying to figure it out for sixteen years. Aaaah, Scully’s ID photo is so glamorous. When I was a kid watching this show I was absolutely certain beyond a doubt that I was going to grow up and go to med school and then join the FBI, and that I’d have a super-glamorous ID photo just like Scully. Nowadays you couldn’t pay me enough to have Scully’s job. I bruise too easily, and I like my sleep. And alive people. And, um, sex. Ahem.
TDS: Long Lake Road, Northern Michigan, 5:10 am. Speaking of sleep: Jesus, Mulder. A girl needs her beauty rest. Scully’s lucky she’s got such good genes. Our heroes are in the car driving towards the crime scene in Traverse City; Scully has the case file spread out on her lap, with the screamy photo blown up on a big 8×10 glossy. Mulder asks for her thoughts on the case. I like how this show always pretended that Mulder and Scully just happened to find themselves in a car in the middle of Nowhere, America driving towards some unknown destination, going over the case file for the first time. “Oh, so THIS is why we’re in Michigan!” I like to think Scully would have demanded some more prep work on the DC end before following Mulder into god-knows-what at the drop of a hat at 5:10 in the morning. Scully asks Mulder if there have been any ransom demands, which is a negative, which yeah, I’m sure they didn’t cover this on the plane ride, or anything. Mulder says it’s going on three days that blonde girl’s been missing. The boyfriend apparently died of a puncture wound through the eardrum into the brain; Scully makes a pained face at this. You know, I’m not a doctor or anything yet, but with the schooling I do have, I’m pretty damn sure that kind of wound wouldn’t kill a guy in the amount of time it took blonde girl to take her passport photo and find her dead boyfriend. Whatever. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that pursuing a career in science makes reruns of X-Files and CSI decidedly more difficult on the whole suspension-of-disbelief front. Scully says she’s not sure how they fit into the investigation; Mulder’s all, hello, didn’t you see that creep-ass photo? X-File! Scully duhs that it was taken by whoever abducted blonde girl, but Mulder spills that it weren’t nobody but the kindly old store clerk taking the photo, and that it was supposed to be a normal passport photo. Scully makes her first mistake of the episode by beginning her sentence with “Well, obviously…” and says that whoever took the photo had to have been privy to the girl’s abduction. Mulder says priggishly, “That is what one would think.” Scully gets that look on her face like she’s debating whether to demand a raise at gunpoint the next time she sees Skinner, or run the damn car right off the road and put both her and Alien Boy out of their collective misery. FIVE IN THE MORNING.
At the drugstore, the kindly old store clerk hauls out the camera he used to snap blonde girl’s passport photo, saying that it was under lock and key. “Damnedest thing,” he says. Scully looks unconvinced and asks if she can look around. As Mulder and the kindly old store clerk make investigatory small talk in the background, Scully walks around and nails down within moments that the film the clerk used was out of date, as well as being stored just above a heating unit. Seriously, that’s just dumb. Inventory is money, kindly old store clerk. Scully also notes that the kindly old store clerk has a brace on one old leg, hindering his mobility. A phone rings in the background. “I sure hope you find that young woman safe and sound,” kindly old store clerk says as he excuses himself and moves off toward the back of the store. Duchovny does this weird thing where it looks like Mulder’s checking out the kindly old store clerk’s ass as he walks past. Oh, Duchovny, always keeping us guessing. Mulder: “So which one of us gets to use the stun gun on Bruno Hauptmann back there?” You know, this show would have been even more awesome if they’d actually used TASERs from time to time. We weren’t presented with nearly a large enough range of badass weaponry for our entertainment (First Person Shooter doesn’t count because it’s so painfully unwatchable and sexist). I like to think that Mulder especially would have had better luck hanging on to his weapon if it were a rocket launcher or one of those supersoakers that squirts immobilizing cement the color of bubble gum. Come to think of it, it’s not like these two wouldn’t have had to complete routine firearm practice. Why didn’t we ever see that? Seriously, Carter, you couldn’t have cut two minutes of Diana Fowley anywhere along the line to show us Scully blowing off a little steam at the firing range? “Little feet, huh?” BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. “Now who’s a whole person?” Aaah, firing-range-Scully who exists only in my head, if only I could introduce you to Seasons 8 & 9 Scully so you could kick her weepy ass back into shape.
But I digress. Scully agrees with Mulder that the kindly old store clerk probably isn’t their killer. She then pulls out the screamy photo and launches into her theory about out-of-date, heat-damaged film being the culprit. Mulder nods along, clearly amused at her pluck, as she begins a long sentence about emulsions and chemicals and faded dyes that sounds bullshitty and ultimately trails off into nothing, as he knew it would. He grins sort of adorably at her as she gives him the stink-eye and says, “Alright, fine, what’s your theory?” Mulder says he’s not sure he has one. My theory is that you two needed to get a room like three seasons ago. Seriously, how they ever made it past “Ice” without jumping each other’s bones, I’ll never figure out. A local cop comes in and is sore-y he called Mulder and Scully all the way out from Washington, because of new non-X-File-y evidence we will probably be shown in the next scene. DAMN the guest actors in this episode are painfully Canadian. I’d bet anything the sound guys had to edit out an “eh” or two in post.
A quick edit takes us to blonde girl’s house, where lovey-dovey pictures of her and her grumpy dead boyfriend adorn the walls. The local police element is there taking photos of what they presume is a crime scene. Mulder and Scully are introduced to “Inspector Puett”, and Mulder hilariously goes, “In… spector?” as though he’s both confused and delighted that people are still called Inspectors in this day and age. “US Postal Inspector,” the guy clarifies. He explains that blonde girl, Mary Louise Lefante, and her still-nameless boyfriend are being investigated for mail theft. Apparently postal clerk Mary was stealing credit cards that came through her sorting facility. Oldest racket in the book, that. Inspector Puett says that he thinks Mary faked her own disappearance. Mulder: “Yeah, but why would she stab her boyfriend through the ear?” Scully looks like she can think of a few reasons.
They go upstairs to Mary’s bedroom. Scully: “So you’re thinking this woman planted that photo of herself in the drugstore?” Mulder’s all glib: “What would be the point of that?” Oh, Scully. Just breathe deeply. Be patient. Trust me. Give it another couple years and he’ll be professing his love and planning impromptu getaways to Antarctica. Mulder has discovered a Polaroid camera in Mary’s closet, and puts his hand over the lens, snapping some photos. “Stand back, Scully, it’s loaded.” He then launches into this whole “thoughtograph” psychic photography theory which is honestly one of his lamer ideas, even if it turns out to be right on, but I can’t help that because I didn’t write this episode. He says that the first thoughtographer claimed to be able to concentrate on camera film to create a representation of his mind’s eye. As he explains this, he lays down Polaroid after Polaroid on a table. Scully looks like she feels the Insane in this Chili’s tonight. We then get an incredibly beautiful shot from below Mulder and Scully as they lean over and look at the developing Polaroids. This angle is usually pretty unforgiving, but apparently these two do not have bad angles. Scully is genuinely surprised and says “Oh my God,” as the same twisted, screaming image from the drugstore becomes apparent on the Polaroids. Now Mary Lefante’s head is also surrounded by toothy ghosts. Mulder says he thinks Mary’s abductor was in the house, and stalked her. He goes out to the porch and demonstrates the stalking in a way that creeps me out a little but does not at all surprise me. If anyone knows the ins and outs of obsessive behavior, it’s Mulder. Scully goes into skeptical mode, saying that it’s obvious that someone doctored the images and planted them at the scene. Mulder implies the pointlessness of that action: “This isn’t about mail fraud, Scully.” He posits that the thoughtographs are a peek into the mind of the killer. Scully looks unswayed, but willing to humor him. Mark Snow’s Strings of Scary suddenly zoom up in volume as we get another closeup of Mary Lefante’s terrified screaming face. Man, Mark Snow is a legend. If there were ever a movie made of my life, I’d have a cage match between Mark Snow and Bear McCreary to decide who’d do the score. Either outcome is a win, and the video footage would rocket me to YouTube fame. Though presumably I’d already be famous because they’re making a movie out of my life. Just for the lolz, then.
Now we’re outside, in the grass by the side of a busy highway. We see a hand climbing up out of the grass, and a woman in a flowered nightgown hoists herself to her feet and begins walking nonchalantly down the shoulder of the road. It’s Mary Lefante, dried blood in streaks from her eye sockets, her expression vacant as cars whizz by and honk at her. A police car pulls over, and then we are busting through the doors of a hospital with Mulder, Scully, and a doctor/nurse/medical professional running alongside the stretcher carrying Mary. “Completely nonresponsive,” the doctor says, adding that the tox screen showed traces of morphine and scopolamine. Like any pathologist worth her mettle, Scully immediately says, “Twilight Sleep,” and Mulder follows up with, “the dental anaesthetic?” What the hell magazine subscriptions do you have going on that you would know that, Mulder? The doctor describes it as a “painkiller cocktail” and says it’s also for women in labor. Well, not for a long time now, but whatever. The scary thing about Twilight Sleep and its use in this episode is that it’s one of those anaesthetics that doesn’t knock the patient out, just keeps them pain-free and makes it so they don’t remember anything later. So these women who had the awls shoved into their eye sockets were totally conscious for the whole thing. Yikes. Mulder asks if the Twilight Sleep would have caused Mary’s catatonia, and Scully responds in the negative while checking Mary’s pupils, which are tiny, indicating that the drug’s out of her system by now anyway. She tells the doctor to give Mary a PET scan. Gillian Anderson adorably says each letter in the acronym instead of the common way of just saying the word “pet”; I’ve noticed this pronunciation on the show before, which makes me wonder if they just never noticed that Scully sounds silly, or if in Canada they actually pronounce it that way.
Mary gets loaded into the PET scanner and the image miraculously comes up in the control booth in a matter of seconds. They must have had this PET scanner shipped special from the Las Vegas Crime Lab. The scan does not look good; poor Mary is missing most of her frontal lobe. Scully winces and clues a clueless Mulder into the fact that Mary’s been given a trans-orbital lobotomy, a.k.a. an icepick lobotomy, but whoever did it ain’t no doctor because Mary’s brain looks like Swiss cheese. They make pensive and disturbed faces and then Mary starts moaning the word “unruhe” over and over from inside the PET scan. The doctors go in and pull her out of the scan, but her eyes are still closed and she’s totally nonresponsive, just repeating “unruhe”. That’s going to get annoying for the hospital staff. May I just mention that Mulder and Scully look gorgeous together in this dim control-room lighting? Thank you. So mentioned. Seriously, I’d like to e-mail whoever did makeup for this show and ask them the exact makeup cocktail they used for Season 4 Scully, and then buy it and use it for the rest of my life, because Scully looks AWESOME in this season. Duchovny’s bronzer can stay back in 1996, though, no offense. That local officer from before comes through the door and tells our heroes that there’s been a second abduction. Bummer!
AAAAAHHH. That was a pre-emptive shriek, because here’s where the episode really starts to ratchet up the horror. We’re in a small dark space as a spotlight is clicked on in some poor woman’s face; she has duct tape over her mouth and looks confused, like she just woke up. A man is speaking German off-camera. I cannot think of a more terrifying tableau, to be honest. The woman starts to struggle against the chair she is taped to, making whimpering noises, and her eyes follow the silhouette of something long and sharp as the man passes it before her face. We get a good closeup: it’s an awl. The woman shits her pants in fear at the same time I do. Mark Snow’s music jangles. This can only end in tears.
Nighttime. Scully pulls up to a crime scene driving a bigass Ford Explorer. I know it can’t be Scully who rented a ding-dang SUV! Think of the Earth, Mulder. Scully flashes her badge and enters a tarped scaffolding area. Nice tracking shot from in front of Scully as she marches purposefully down the long plastic-shrouded hallway. Some nice young fellas from the county coroner pass her with a body bag; she looks like she’s getting annoyed at the amount of bodies that are piling up. Well, sure. Mulder told her this would be a quick little trip to see a photography exhibit and she only packed two pairs of underwear. Inside the office building, Mulder shows Scully the outline of where the body lay against a wall, a splotch of blood where his ear would be: “Charles Selchick, certified public accountant, dead from a stab wound through the ear.” Scully makes an “oh for Pete’s sake” face as she crosses the room to Mulder. Wow, she is annoyed. Dead bodies are your bread and butter, Scully! It’s all about job security. Go with it. Mulder continues that the dead man’s secretary, 32-year-old Alice Brandt, was abducted from the scene. Some clumsy dialogue here as we establish that the two victims have no connection, yet it’s the same M.O. Scully: “The clock is running.” Really, writers? Mulder says he’s been thinking about the word “unruhe”, and for an Ivy-educated near-PhD-holder, Duchovny really butchers the pronunciation. Scully says it’s German and means “unrest.” “You took German in high school, Scully?” “College,” she replies. Funny, I’ve always pictured Scully as the kind of schoolgirl who took French all through high school and college and nursed a secret desire to spend a summer painting bowls of fruit in Paris. Maybe it’s the cultured British tint in Anderson’s accent, I don’t know.
Scully pulls out crime scene photos of the yellow bug from Mary LaFont’s abduction and posits that perhaps the killer is in one of them, being one of those killers that likes to return to the scene. Mulder shoots this down quickly. “How do you know?” Scully says, and he replies that it would have affected the photos. Boy, it didn’t take long for Mulder’s thoughtography theory to morph into their primary investigative assumption for this case, did it? Local Police Guy comes over and says they haven’t found any film or a camera at the scene anywhere. Mulder goes rooting around in desk drawers as Scully gets on his case: “Is that what we’re looking for here, Mulder? More evidence of psychic photography?” Mulder says it might be the only evidence they have. Besides the use of Twilight Sleep, the components of which someone would have had to purchase at a pharmacy; oh, and the unique awl-like weapon; plus this other thing Scully’s about to find in a second because she’s a real detective, unlike Mulder, who is damn lucky he’s on a show called “The X-Files” and his paranormal theories keep panning out, because any other TV boss would have him out on his ass lickety-split. Scully says she has a Bureau forensics team coming up from Detroit, and Mulder pissypants that there’s nothing for them to find. Scully frowns and looks off into the distance, presumably for a little in situ calming meditation, but then she notices something out the window: the same construction company logo as is visible in the Mary LaFont crime scene photo. She drags Mulder outside and points this out to him, adding that if the killer worked for that construction company, he could have picked out his victims from those vantage points. Now that’s what I call a lead. Mulder plays it cool and says that she should check it out. Scully: “Where are you going to be?” Mulder says he’s going back to DC to run the screamy photo through the lab: “I still think the answer’s in here.” Scully is by this point well and truly fed up: “What if it’s not, Mulder? This woman’s time is running out!” Mulder hedges that it’s all the more reason to follow up all available leads. “I’ll be in touch,” he says a bit testily, then walks off. Oh, Scully. This is the man you want fathering your children?
Now we’re back in the spotlight with the duct-taped woman. Oh, Jesus. I thought we were done with this. This is too scary. The German-speaking dude speaks some more German and comes up to the woman holding a large flowered nightgown like the one we saw on Mary Lefante. He places the nightgown over her as she shrieks and shakes her head. The duct tape has slipped off her mouth and she yells, “Get away from me, you bastard!” The man just rips off more duct tape and re-tapes her mouth, shutting off the light and leaving her in the dark again.
TDS: FBI Special Photographic Unit. Mulder is working with some lackey on de-blurring the screamy photo. There’s a lot of photo babble, and long story short, the lackey thinks it’s an uncannily perfect Photoshop job. Quit sneaking into the writers’ room and changing the scripts, props guys. They manage to isolate the image of a menacing male face over to the left of the photo. Mulder sits back, satisfied, knowing he’s going to get to deliver a big “I told you so” to Scully. Speaking of which, Scully, back in Michigan, is talking to the local element about the construction company. They’ve narrowed down a list of workers who overlapped the job sites, but haven’t come up with anything yet. The construction company owner is sitting in a corner and claims that the company doesn’t hire day laborers: “I don’t want any trouble with the IRS,” he says like a perfect choirboy. Scully rolls her eyes. Turns out the site foreman might have hired some cash-only day laborers without the owner’s knowledge. Scully tells them to find out where the foreman is who was working the office crime scene, and goes off to pursue this lead. Back at the photography lab, Mulder’s just getting off the phone and says there was no NCIC match for the guy in the photo. They tinker some more with some shadows in the photo’s background and isolate another image, the shadow of someone with very long legs. “He’s standing over her; he means to pass judgment on her, like a god,” Mulder says. “Sure, freak,” the lackey replies. Oh, he does not. But you know he’s thinking it.
Scully’s at the new construction site to question the foreman. Her clothes throughout the episode have been really flattering, but this beige suit she’s rocking is a little dumpy. Sigh. She wanders around calling, “Hello?” and goes up a set of stairs, looking into the various unbuilt rooms. She hears a noise across the landing. A construction worker on stilts walks slowly toward her. He asks in a friendly voice if he can help her; his name is Gerry Schnauz. She asks about his day laborers. He gets all cagey about possible IRS issues, and she reassures him that it’s not a tax thing. Just a serial murderer, nothing to get alarmed about, sir. As the camera goes in for tighter and tighter shots of the foreman’s face, we can see that his eyes do this creepy googly thing where they flick back and forth quickly. Pruitt Taylor Vince, the actor playing Schnauz, actually has nystagmus in real life, which has opened up all sorts of opportunities playing twitchy serial-killer types in TV and film. I always recognize him because of the eye thing. Scully’s cellphone rings and she turns her back on Gerry to answer it. Second mistake of the episode, Scully, although I suppose it turns out okay. Mulder’s all, “Yo Scully, the kidnapper’s got crazy long legs.” Scully gets her “gotcha” face on and turns back to Gerry as Mulder’s like, “Scully? You there?” Unfortunately for him, she hangs up before he can get out his “I told you so.” Next time, Mulder. Scully looks up at Gerry and says in a low voice, “Unruhe.” Gerry’s eyes wiggle. He breathes fast. Scully pulls her gun and tells him to stay put. Naturally, he splits.
In a really cool action shot, Gerry leaps across the landing on his stilts, tumbling to the floor on the other side. Scully chases him, hollering her “Freeze, mother, I’m armed” routine, but he manages to get all the way downstairs before she shoots out some drywall next to his face and he stops with his hands up. Scully carefully comes down the stairs to him, keeping her gun trained on his face, and shoves him up against the wall roughly. Hee. Sorry; she’s like a third his size, it’s cute. She searches his pockets and yelps, pulling her hand out. There’s a drop of blood on her finger. She more cautiously reaches back into the pocket and pulls out the big, shiny awl that we saw before in the scene with the second victim. NICE detective work, Scully. While Mulder was off scrapbooking in DC, you managed to singlehandedly catch the killer following your own lead, and you managed to look dang pretty doing it.
She looks awfully pretty in the next scene, too, although that suit, yeesh. Mulder has somehow flown back to Michigan in the past hour or so and he and Scully are interrogating Gerry. Gerry is putting on an excellent “Who, me?” act. I’d believe him. “Tell us where she is, Gerry,” Scully demands. Gerry blusters about mistaken identity, saying he has no earthly clue what she’s talking about. Mulder’s just hanging out in the background here, seemingly content to let Scully take charge. Maybe it turns him on. Actually, I’d say that’s probable. Scully holds up the awl, and Gerry blah blahs something about putting up sheet rock. WRONG, Scully decrees. “You used this to kill the two men.” “What two men?” Gerry protests, and really, this innocent act is frighteningly believable. I’d totally let this dude go. I wonder how many criminals get away because they’re just really good liars. Mulder finally speaks, the glow of his tan like its own lighting unit back there in the corner. They go through Gerry’s history: in 1980, he bludgeoned his father and turned him into a vegetable. Oh, that. Gerry says that he was institutionalized for a “brain imbalance”–paranoid schizophrenia, we learn–and that he’s spent his time since then taking care of his father. “Making amends.” Mulder asks Gerry how he felt when his father died; Gerry whispers, “Sad.” Scully is not buying a single crumb of this sob story. Mulder brings up Gerry’s sister, who committed suicide in 1980: “God, that was a bad year, Gerry.” Gerry gets pissy and says Mulder’s talking like Sigmund Freud. Mulder looks oddly pleased at this. Oh, he would. Scully cuts the crap and demands again to know where Alice Brandt is. “Where is she?” she says, leaning forward into the light, her face turning a paler shade, the shadows under her eyes standing out. Gerry stares at her, his eyes googling back and forth. “You look troubled,” he whispers. GAH. Scully? When a serial killer says that? That’s your cue to hop the next plane back to Washington and let the local element finish things up.
Mulder comes over to the table and sets down the isolated image of the man from the screamy photo. “This your father, Gerry?” Gerry gasps and asks where Mulder got it. “You left it for me,” Mulder says, and then lays down the screamy photo of Mary Lefante. Gerry’s eyes google google google. “Is this what you see when you close your eyes?” Mulder asks. “Tell me where Alice Brandt is.” Gerry’s dropped the act completely and is fully Crazy. “She’s… safe,” he whispers. “From the Howlers.” Scully makes a mad mommy face, knowing that can’t mean anything good. “Tell me how I can find her,” Mulder presses. Cut to the bigass Ford Explorer and the local element kicking up dust on a back road somewhere, speeding to a crime scene. Scully and Mulder hike a little ways into the woods and break into a jog as they near the body of Alice Brandt, dressed in that hideous nightgown. Aw, dang. “Motherfucker,” Scully says, or she would, if this show had been on HBO and not FOX. Wow, think about that for a second: an HBO-produced X-Files. I’ll be in my bunk. Scully stomps back down to the Explorer, leaving Mulder behind at the scene. She looks royally pissed and sad. Her suit is as baggy and beige as ever. Mulder gingerly nears the car, where Scully is sitting in the driver’s seat staring at nothing. He looks like he’s worried there will be no nooky tonight. “Hey, Scully, that word ‘unruhe’, unrest, it’s bothering me,” he says casually, busting out a theory about how maybe Gerry thought he was saving the women from damnation. “It’s over, Mulder,” Scully says tersely. Not reading the signs, Mulder continues, until Scully snaps at him, “What the hell does it matter?” He looks at her a long moment before replying, “Because I want to know.” Well, if that’s not the show in a nutshell, I don’t know what is. “I don’t,” Scully says with finality. Mulder gives in and they drive off.
Back at the police station, the local cop from throughout the episode is taking Gerry’s mug shot and fingerprints. “Eyes straight ahead,” he says as he snaps the mug shot. Gerry’s eyes google wildly, noticing the cop’s hip holster. The cop handcuffs Gerry to a table and goes to the printer to get the arrest report. But, oh dear! Instead of Gerry’s mug shot in the righthand corner, it is a picture of the cop himself with a bullet hole in his head, a look of surprise on his face, and blood splatter on the wall behind him. Sadly, the cop does not have Mulder’s intuitive leap skillz, and stands there saying “What the hell?” as Gerry lunges forward, grabs the gun, and makes the photo come true. Awwww. When we come back from a commercial space, Mulder and the local element are looking around the crime scene. Scully comes in and Mulder shows her that the bullet wound in the psychic photo is in the wrong place–the cop was shot in the throat. “He wasn’t trying to save this victim,” Mulder profiles. Scully tells him about an armed robbery at the drugstore from the beginning of the episode, and they take off. Boy, that was a short little expository scene that probably could have been done in the car on the way to the drugstore, don’t you think, writers?
At the drugstore, the kindly old store clerk–NNNNOOOOOOOO!–is having a head wound tended to. REALLY, GERRY? That guy is so old and kindly! You didn’t need to do that! Mulder figures out that Gerry took all the film from the store, and goes over to one of those quick-print photo booths, feeding some money into the slot as Scully approaches. They trade info: Gerry not only took the camera and all the film, he also took some insulin syringes and the components of Twilight Sleep. Scully watches the flash go off inside the photo booth, thinking, then wonders aloud if Gerry hasn’t already picked out his next victim from the construction site where she arrested him. “Let’s go,” she says. Mulder gives her the keys: “Bring the car around, I want to wait for this. I’ll be right there.” Scully looks annoyed but obliges. Mulder is about to feel like a jackass.
Scully’s hair bounces nicely in the sunlight as she walks around back to where the car is parked, talking to the local element on the phone, telling them to get a unit over to the construction site. Mark Snow’s ominous angel choir lets us know that shit is about to go down. Scully trots down the same set of steps Mary Lefante stumbled down in the beginning. She heads to the bigass Ford Explorer and roots for her keys; the camera pans down to her feet, which are–sigh–in beige shoes. No more beige after this, Scully, promise? Suddenly, a hand comes from under the Explorer and stabs Scully in the foot with an insulin syringe. NO! And OW! We get a nice aerial shot of Scully yelling in pain and then stumbling back a few steps. Gerry crawls out from under the Explorer. Scully is barely able to get her gun out of its holster before she’s out cold on the ground. See? It was like two, maybe three seconds. Scully’s a cheap date. We see Gerry’s hands grasp her shoulders and yank her up off the asphalt. Okay, I didn’t talk up that shot enough, but really, I consider it a standout piece of cinematography from the series. It’s all one shot spiraling down as Scully stumbles, tries to get her gun, Gerry crawls out, she drops her keys and her gun and falls, and finally it’s a closeup on her face as Gerry’s hands grab her. It’s quite excellent.
Inside the drugstore, Mulder’s photos print and he holds them up for inspection. Horrifyingly, the photo is of Scully screaming and reaching a hand up toward the camera, much like Mary Lefante’s, only instead of just Howlers surrounding her head there are clawed white fingers clutching at her face. This? This is SCARY. Scarier than the entirety of Season 9, I daresay. Mulder’s eyes get real big. He runs. He runs outside, runs and runs around the side of the building. The Explorer isn’t in the parking lot, but then he sees it coming down the street behind the store. Instead of calling the cops, giving them the plate number and the car’s direction, and having them follow it, Mulder runs after the speeding vehicle. Yeah. Good luck with that, buddy. “Scullay! SCULLAY!” Mulder yells as he runs and runs and eventually loses the Explorer. Oh, Mulder. Now you’re really not getting any tonight.
Back from the commercial space, Mulder is sitting at the police station, focusing intently on Scully’s terrified, screaming face in the photo, his fingers framing it nicely. One of the local element gets his attention and tells him that the bigass Explorer just turned up, abandoned up the highway, and an Audi was stolen from the same spot. Mulder says Gerry’s switching cars and will do this a few more times. Nobody at that park-and-ride saw a huge man in paint-spattered coveralls dragging a tiny unconscious woman from car to car? I guess it’s the same as when Duane Barry managed to smash Scully’s front window and abduct her through it, with all kinds of screaming going on, in the middle of a residential block in Georgetown. I used to live in DC and I could never imagine that scenario playing out without witnesses. Mulder is focused on the white claws next to Scully’s face in the photo. “He’s got six fingers here… six fingers.” He looks up and asks the local element if Gerry has a residence, friends, relatives, a summer house, a winter house… all are answered in the negative. “He doesn’t have much of anything,” one of the cops says. Mulder asks for Gerry’s wallet. Inside, he finds a folded-up newspaper clipping of Gerry’s father’s obituary; it shows a grainy photo of a Marine honor guard at the elder Schnauz’s grave. The father’s name was Gerald Schnauz, Senior, D.D.S. “His father was a dentist,” Mulder says. Oh, you’re good, Mulder.
And here we are at Gerry Sr.’s old dental practice, the glass door dusty and dark. Mulder and the local element bust through. The place is covered in a thick layer of cobwebs. Scully and Gerry are not there. However, there is an old advertisement on the wall for “Twilite Sleep” (ask your dentist about it!) and a void in the dust on the floor where the dental chair used to be. There are also some recent footprints. “Why would he take the chair?” Local Element #1 asks. Mulder looks like he doesn’t quite want to contemplate that. We’re forced to, however, as the scene cuts to darkness, and then that damn spotlight snapping on, illuminating a very drugged Scully only just now coming awake. The camera pans out this time for a wide shot and we see that she is duct-taped to the missing dental chair in the middle of a trailer that has soundproof insulation all over the walls. She looks pretty out of it. Gerry clearly dosed the shit out of her. I mean, she is an FBI agent, and all, and already apprehended him once. Next to Scully is a metal tray, and craned above her head is a light like that you’d find in a dentist’s office. It can’t be said enough: Gah. Scully’s coming back to herself and tries to move her immobilized wrists and ankles; she is unsuccessful. She looks to her left and sees the instrument tray with the gigantic shiny awl front and center. Now she knows where the hell she is, and the terror can commence.
The camera pans to the back of the trailer, from Scully’s POV, and we can see Gerry in his white coveralls standing just beyond the light’s edge. Scully breathes a few deep breaths and says quietly but forcefully, “Let me go.” “Sshhhh,” Gerry responds, moving towards her and speaking German. He picks up the duct tape and starts to tear off a strip. “It’s over, Gerry,” Scully says. “Let me go, right now!” Gerry just keeps spouting German, the only word of which I catch is “unruhe”. What can I say, I took French. Gerry’s about to put the strip of tape over Scully’s mouth when she busts out some German of her own. “Stop,” she says. “I have no unrest.” Actually, Scully’s life is pretty much the definition of unrest, but we’ll let that slide. She repeats the last sentence, her voice getting stronger. “I don’t need to be saved.” Gerry stares at her for a moment, his eyes googling madly, and then he shakes his head and says in English, “Yes, you do. Everybody does. But especially you.” Scully asks why her: “Do I remind you of your sister?” Gerry seems unimpressed, but Scully persists, asking why Gerry’s sister killed herself. “What did your father do to her?” Gerry says his father did nothing; it was the Howlers. Scully very wisely spins this into a casual conversation about the Howlers, asking him to talk about it. That’s right, Scully. Keep him talking. Delay. Mulder may be an ass sometimes, but if there’s anything we know about him, it’s that if given enough time, he will save Scully or die trying.
Gerry gets real close into Scully’s face and she backs up in the chair, barely hiding her terror and disgust, as he explains that the Howlers are inside her head and make her do things and say things she doesn’t mean. “You’ve got them,” he says, “right there.” And he pokes his index finger between her eyebrows, exactly over the spot where she will later discover her tumor. I don’t know if the writers even had that storyline broken out when they wrote this episode, but upon series rewatch, it’s chilling. “Don’t you feel them?” Gerry asks, and Scully replies that she doesn’t have them. Gerry says that the Howlers are making her say that because they know he’s going to kill them. He grabs the awl and holds it up in front of her face. Scully desperately protests, saying that the Howlers aren’t real, that he made them up to explain what his sister said his father did to her. Gerry loses his shit, screaming into Scully’s face that he’s onto the Howlers: “I know your tricks!” The awl waves around madly an inch from Scully’s eye while he’s yelling. It’s quite terrifying. Bipolar Gerry is calm again as he says, “Besides, I’ve seen them, in the picture your partner showed me. Pictures don’t lie.” Scully tells him the Howlers are only in his head. Gerry puts down the awl and walks to the back of the trailer; Scully sees her chance and reaches her taped left hand for the tray. She manages to hook a finger on it and draw it maybe an inch nearer, but then Gerry’s back and pushes the tray far out of her reach. He’s got a camera in his hands, the passport camera from the drugstore. He aims it at Scully. Then something seems to occur to him, and he turns the camera around slowly to aim at himself, the flash illuminating his face as he takes picture after picture. I know I shouldn’t notice things like this in scenes like these, but whatever lipstick they put on Scully here is stunning and I want it.
We cut back to Gerry Sr.’s dental practice, where Mulder is throwing a mini-tantrum at himself over the whole “six fingers” clue and has to ask twice for the officer’s info that the state police have looked as far as Grand Rapids and still haven’t found Scully. Mulder pulls out the photo of Scully screaming again, saying “Dammit, dammit,” under his breath, thinking furiously, as the local element is all, dude, what do we do now? Suddenly Mulder has a brainwave; he pulls out the newspaper clipping of Gerry Sr.’s gravesite, where there are five white tombstones in a line around the fresh grave. “Five headstones,” Mulder says, and then it clicks. “And the father makes six. Come on!” They all run out of the dusty dark office.
Graveyard! There the Schnauzes lie R-ingIP, all in a line like in the newspaper photo. A sprinkler is very nicely irrigating the lawns, although, hello, it is VANCOUVER, so save your water, Parks Department. Think of the Earth. Mulder and the local element come running through, yelling about spreading out and such. Mulder notices… a hole in a hedge far away, which, this is why I’m not in the FBI and Mulder is, because I would be looking for something overt and obvious like Scully’s cross necklace hanging from a big arrow constructed out of dental floss pointing at the Lobotomy Trailer, while Mulder sees a hole in a hedge fifty yards away and immediately leaps to the conclusion that his lady is being held captive there. Or maybe there’s something else I’m missing in this scene. All I’m saying is, it doesn’t seem like much of a clue, so either Mulder’s brilliant or the writers are lazy. Actually, those aren’t mutually exclusive, as we know all too well. Anyway. Inside the Lobotomy Trailer, Gerry has taken his Polaroids and is showing them to Scully one by one. He seems agitated and stammers, “What–what does this mean?” Scully’s clearly past the pants-shitting-terror stage of this most recent abduction because she just swallows and says quietly, “It means you need help, Gerry.” Gerry backs away and seems to calm a bit, and Scully looks like she’s thinking she might be getting out of this with an intact frontal lobe after all, but then Gerry says she’s wrong and what it means is that he doesn’t have much time left.
Back to pants-shitting terror as Gerry pulls the tray of instruments close to Scully again and rips off a strip of duct tape. Scully starts with the panic breathing and unwisely chooses the last possible moment to yell, “No, Gerry, stop!” before he tapes her mouth shut, effectively silencing her. I’ve always wondered how they do this on TV–do they make special fake duct tape to go over the actors’ mouths? Because I can’t imagine that an actor would submit to several takes of painful ripping off of duct tape. That shit hurts. Not that I know, or anything. Gerry grabs the awl and comes after Scully’s baby blues. She’s made of sterner stuff than I, because here’s where I would have passed right the fuck out in sheer terror and been conveniently lobotomized, whereas Scully pushes her head as far back as she can and makes anxious noises of protest through the duct tape. There’s a sudden sound outside the trailer, and Gerry backs off for a second to go look through a peephole in the blackout curtains, while Scully uses the respite to try to get her wrists free of the damn duct tape. You know, I think every recapper has said this at one point or another, but Gillian Anderson is such a trooper. This was probably a whole day, maybe two, of being duct-taped to a chair with bright lights a foot from her face and another actor waving sharp pointy objects next to her eyes. I would never want to be an actor. I’d have PTSD from this shit, real duct tape or no.
Gerry looks through the peephole and spies Mulder outside, looking damn fine. Sorry, and um, concerned and suspicious. Getting no reaction from within the boarded-up trailer, Mulder goes snooping around. Sweet lord, this is tense. SHE’S RIGHT THERE, MULDER, WE LIKE HER SO MUCH, PLEASE FIGURE THIS OUT NOW, THANKS. We can still hear Scully’s freaked-out indignant whimpering in the background as a clueless Mulder slowly makes his way to the passenger’s side window up front and spies a keychain hanging from the ignition key: a tooth. Like a dentist would have! Oh ho! The jig is up! And so on. Mulder immediately starts his screaming routine: “Scullay! SCULL-AY!” At this, Scully finds the leverage necessary to rip her left wrist free of its bonds and tear the duct tape off of her mouth, and starts her own screaming. “Mulder! I’m in here! Mulder! Help!” These two sure have ample occasion to shout each other’s names, but never in the type of scenario I’d like. Mulder busts through the glass on the trailer door with his elbow, like, okay, we all know you’re a stud, but is stopped by solid wood. Inside, Gerry advances on Scully to finish the lobotomy while he still can, poking the awl at her face and trying to aim as she squirms and shrieks for Mulder to get the fuck in there and shoot this psycho, now, please. Outside, Mulder has discovered a convenient pile of metal poles, one of which he uses to beat down the door of the trailer while continuing to shout Scully’s name. He manages to unlock the trailer door and bust in just as Gerry’s got the awl a micrometer from Scully’s left eye. Mulder wastes no time in popping a cap in this fool, and Gerry goes flying away from Scully into the trailer wall, slumping down dead. Whew.
Now Mulder’s got the pants-shitting-terror look on his face as he takes in the creepy snuff-film lighting and copious amounts of duct tape and metal instruments, and surmises how close his special lady came to losing large portions of her brain through her eye sockets. He steps closer and asks, “Are you hurt?” Scully, still looking aghast at Dead Gerry, all, “Sweet crispy crackers that was close. Why is it always me?” shakes her head almost imperceptibly and breathes a no. The local element has arrived a death-guaranteeing two minutes too late, and Mulder yells at the officer who pokes his head into the Lobotomy Trailer to get an ambulance, presumably for Dead Gerry. Dude. Unnecessary. Ambulances are like 500 bucks, so you only call one out if you really need one, like, this whole past summer I thought I was allergic to strawberries because I had a severe reaction to one, but I was convinced it couldn’t be true because I’d been eating strawberries my whole life with no problems, and I finally got so fed up at avoiding strawberries that my roommates and I were going to test it once and for all by having me eat a strawberry with them brandishing Benadryl and their cellphones nearby, but then we finally decided not to risk it because if I did indeed go into anaphylactic shock, that ambulance ride would be a huge bummer for my non-insured ass. But then in a fit of pique two nights later I did risk it and it turns out I wasn’t allergic after all, thank GOD, because I think the Starbucks baristas were getting peeved at me insisting that they sanitize the pitcher to get rid of any potential strawberry traces before making my Vivanno every day, and also because strawberries are fucking delicious.
Mulder appears to be almost frightened to touch Scully, as though he’s not quite sure she didn’t indeed get a metal spike shoved into her brain. Scully wearily rips the tape off her other arm and Mulder finally reaches a hand down to help her out of the Chair of Sweet Moses I Am Never Going To The Dentist Again Ever. She moves past him gingerly and he just watches her like she’s a bomb about to go off, and you can tell he’s wondering what the protocol is here–”Okay, after the last homicidal nutjob kidnapped her and tried to mutilate her, she got really upset, so should I hug her now, or will that just make her cry, I REALLY don’t want to see her cry, it makes me feel like an asshole, so maybe if I just give her some space she won’t cry and things will be normal and I can take her back to my place to drink beer and watch Caddyshack?” But he does nothing, besides presumably making a mental note of the whole Caddyshack thing for future reference. Scully moves into the bright daylight streaming into the dark depths of the Lobotomy Trailer, shielding her eyes against the glare. She takes one despairing look back at Dead Gerry, then steps down out of the trailer. Mulder watches her go, then looks down at the Polaroids littering the floor beneath Gerry. He kneels and picks one up. We see that the pictures Gerry took of himself showed his dead body slumped on the floor, just as it is now. Shiver. This whole psychic photography storyline was so damn effective in its scariness, as was the dentist sub-thread. The image of Scully screaming in that photo gave me nightmares when I was eleven and saw this episode first-run. I remember my dad rolling his eyes afterward, all, “Now they’ve gone and ruined Polaroids AND the dentist,” something he often did after X-Files episodes, like after we watched “Oubliette” and he was all, “You’re not walking home from school alone anymore,” or after we watched “The Field Where I Died” and he was all, “Now I can’t even look at Duchovny without laughing,” or after we watched “Pusher” and he was all, “Now we have to repaint the living room,” which was a nice light blue at the time. We always argued and told him he was being crazy to let a TV show affect him so strongly, but in this case, he wasn’t wrong. All subsequent dentist visits in my life have been downright awkward.
Scully Field Report Voiceover. She types that after Gerry’s death, they found his diary, which was written in the second person as a letter to his father. In the diary are the names of his victims, and Scully’s name is among them. Gah. Hey, Scully’s wearing her specs! Nice. This is one of the later instances I can recall. Scully voiceovers that she has no explanation for the psychic photographs. She continues that while Gerry was holding her captive, she was forced to empathize with him, that her survival depended on it. She sees the value of such empathy–what we would generally think of as Mulder’s profiling ability–”For truly, to pursue monsters, we must understand them. We must venture into their minds.” She picks up the screamy photo of herself from beneath Mary Lefante’s, looking at it sorrowfully. “Only, by doing so, do we risk letting them venture into ours?” she asks. I wonder if Skinner gets these field reports and rolls his eyes at the philosophical wanderings, or if he sets aside special Walter time in his apartment with a nice glass of Scotch to read through them and shiver at the spookiness. I’d like to believe the latter. A single tear hangs from Scully’s eye as she stares at her photo, and we fade to black. It would appear there was indeed no nooky. And goodnight!
Next week: X-Files does Heaven’s Gate, and Mulder finally meets a nice girl he can settle down with. Again, apparently. The audience gets a collective migraine and skips forward on their DVD sets to “Tunguska”.