05 x 03 – Unusual Suspects

by Crass

1989 – a SWAT team is doing a raid at Fells Point Industrial Park, Baltimore, Maryland. Although it’s pretty dark, so it could be anywhere. Perhaps Vancouver. Mark Snow is rocking the Piano of Impending FBI Nekkidness and the Screechy Strings of Alarm. One of the cops remarks “Quite a little party.” Ooh, par-tay! He also has reports of at least a dozen shots fired, the door looks like it’s been jimmied but the alarm hasn’t been tripped. Haven’t we all had parties like that, brothers and sisters? Represent. Nobody’s come out of the building, so the cop surmises they must be still in there. Not if they left before you turned up with your siren, doofus! The SWAT guys start searching the buildings with their little flashlights. Mulder’s flashlight is so much larger, but maybe he has more to prove. One of the SWAT guys finds a big pool of blood on the floor, but no body. Now there’s some moaning coming from underneath a flattened cardboard box on the floor. The SWAT lieutenant calls over Davis and Gonzales for backup and they flip up the cardboard, revealing a man’s naked upper torso. You can’t see the face, but he’s moaning and sort of writhing, then he starts muttering: “They’re here, they’re here, they’re here,” over and over. Lieutenant SWAT tells him to take it easy and asks if he’s hurt, but he just keeps on muttering. “Who’s here?” Lieutenant SWAT asks.

Meanwhile, one of the other SWAT guys investigates a bit more, pulling up one of those industrial elevator doors to reveal some people hiding behind some boxes. He yells at them, “Get down! Police! Get down! Freeze!” One of them replies, “Don’t shoot!” They stand up slowly, and one of them is significantly shorter than the other two. “We didn’t do it.” “Do what?” the SWAT guy asks. “Whatever.” He tells them to get facedown on the floor. Yay! It’s Frohike, Langly and Byers! I love these dudes! “Okay, cuff ‘em. Spread ‘em!” And there’s ample material for some seriously wrong fan-fic, right there. While all this is going on, the naked guy keeps on crying out, louder and louder: “They’re here! They’re here!” The camera pans back to him and he turns his face into the light. Holy moly, it’s Mulder! The most shocking part isn’t the nekkidness, it’s the wedding ring on his finger. Whuh?!? But – nice legs, Duchovny. Well played. I like the size of your flashlight. Doo DOO doo DOO dooo DOOOOOOO…..

Now we’re apparently at the Homicide Unit at the Baltimore Police Department in May, 1989. I remember May, 1989. I spent most of it in hospital. Bleah. Byers is in a jail cell, and looks down at his fingers despairingly. They’re all covered with ink, so I’m assuming he’s just been fingerprinted and he feels totally disgusted by himself and the situation in which he’s found. He’s such a sweetie. Langly says, “We’re screwed. Thank you so much for getting me involved in this, Doohickey.” Frohike snaps back, “Frohike, you hippy jerk.” Langly just loudly repeats, “Doohickey!” Frohike then makes an observation. “You know, with that long blond hair, you’ll be the first one in here that gets traded for cigarettes. I’m gonna be laughin’ my ass off!” Ew, dude! I’m so glad I don’t smoke and I’m even gladder I’ve never been incarcerated. With any luck, this will take a turn for the Oz and we’ll have nekkid Chris Meloni too. Or not. Langly’s not gonna take it, no, he ain’t gonna take it. He’s not gonna take it anymore. He gets up, towering over Frohike like Mulder does over Scully, but without the UST. Or with it, depending on the type of fan-fic that floats your boat. “You wanna cha-cha?” Frohike replies, “Anytime, anyplace.” I think Frohike suffers from Short Man Syndrome, where short men overcompensate for their lack of height by an inability to back down from a fight where their arse is going to be kicked and kicked good, and anyone can see it coming. One of my brothers is like this. Many’s the time he turned up at my house asking me how to get the blood out of his clothes. Always his own blood, sadly. Byers loses patience and tells both of them to relax, upon which Langly turns on him, saying, “Shut up, you narc!” Frohike adds, “It’s your fault we’re here.” At this point, a cop breaks it up, taking Byers away for questioning, addressing him as ‘you in the suit’. Snerk!

 Cool! It’s Detective Munch, Baltimore Homicide. I totally used to watch that show, specifically for Munch’s comedy stylings. I enjoy him in SVU too. Say hi to Olivia and Elliot for me, wouldja? Oh, I suppose he can’t because he hasn’t met them yet. One day he’ll tell them all about the strange time-travelling recapper from 2008 and they’ll look at him like he’s Mulder or something. Byers immediately asks, “Did they find her?” Munch says, “And a good evening to you. Sorry, no sign of your mystery lady.” Hee. It’s all in the delivery, people, all in the delivery. Byers protested that she’s real and that the FBI agent saw her. Unfortunately, Special Agent Mulder is currently being held in five-point restraints and jabbering like a monkey. Aw, his first time! And the guys were there for it! Sweet. Munch then suffers a possession by the Exposition Fairy (tm Jessica), saying that there’s been a warehouse break-in with nothing stolen, a shoot-out, but no guns, lots of blood, but no bodies…and an FBI agent who likes to take off all his clothes and talk about space aliens. Oh, that’s definitely Mulder and it sounds rather like an X-File, don’t you think? He tells Byers to fill him in from the top. Byers starts with his name and birth-date – John Fitzgerald Byers, 11/22/63. He was named after JFK – ooh, significance! The original name mooted was Bertram. Lucky escape. He works for the government, for the moment. Poor Byers can see his pension plan disappearing from here. He’s a public affairs officer for the Federal Communications Commission. Does anyone think the job title public affairs officer is a bit funny? Or am I the only one with a mind in the gutter? It was in that capacity that he was attending the Computer and Electronics show at the Baltimore Convention Centre.

 The scene changes to Byers at a stall at the Convention Centre. It’s all red, white and blue and even has a US flag. Seriously, it’s like Uncle Sam threw up in there. Voiceover says: “We at the FCC enjoy forging positive ties with the American public. It’s our way of saying ‘Communication is just another word for sharing’.” He’s smiling happily to himself and offers a jar of FCC buttons to a pair of long-haired dweebs who are walking past. They don’t even slow down, but one of them says, “Up yours, narc.” Poor Byers. What did he do to deserve that? He actually looks quite hurt. I’ve worked with one or two people this naïve. They actually believe that the organisation is committed to the Code of Conduct and don’t scoff when the new corporate logo is announced. They enjoy the interpretive dance representation of the Corporate Values and Mission Statement and actually clap and cheer. Suckers. I’m the one over in the corner rolling her eyes like Scully at a clairvoyant’s convention and yawning. But I’m cynical.

Byers voiceovers that some people don’t see it like that and that at any rate, it was where he first saw her. A mysterious blonde wearing sunglasses and a black mini-dress is walking in slow motion towards him. She drops her sunglasses a fraction and looks at Byers sadly. Boy, has she picked the right patsy! Earnestly, he asks her if she would like a button, stumbling over the words. Aw, he’s so cute! She just sort of goes, “Uh,” then turns and leaves. Poor Byers, he’s captivated. He voiceovers that there was just something about her. He tells his co-worker, Ken, that he’s going to take a short break. Ken just grunts at him, engrossed in playing some stupid game on the computer – it’s the really old one where you’re some kind of gopher digging tunnels or something – I forget the name of it. I’ve met Ken’s type before. He’s in a lower-level management government job, and he’s going to sit there until he’s dynamited out. He spends most of his time thinking up reasons why things can’t be done and making life miserable for his underlings, for whose work he regularly takes the credit. Kenny, you bastard!

 Cut to Byers, following the chicky-babe in a totally obvious manner. He just can’t dissemble to save himself, the dear man. Of course, she is quite aware of his interest. As she wanders around, she is greeted with, “Hello, pretty lady!” Eek, it’s Frohike, with slightly more hair than usual. He’s manning a stall for the Frohike Electronics Company and the sign and logo is hysterical! There’s a red lightning bolt coming down the side with a black and white head-shot of Frohike in a sort of oval. The head-shot features his extra-sleazy smile. I’m also disturbed to notice that he’s actually wearing a button-down striped shirt (relatively tasteful), and doesn’t appear to be sporting the fingerless gloves or the vest. He’s trying to offer her crystal-clear television with thirty-three channels and no cable bill. Surely that can’t be legal? Mystery woman just says, “Excuse me?” and Frohike thinks she’s trying to blow him off, so he keeps on with his spiel: “Now, I know what you’re thinkin’. Melvin, are you out of your mind? No cable bill? But that’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m talking premium channels here. You got your HBO, you got your Cinemax, you got your Showtime, all courtesy of this modestly-priced marvel, designed and built by the Frohike Electronics Company.” The way he counts off the channels on his fingers just cracks me up. We get a close up of some sort of electronic doohickey with a little black switch and the plastic case has Frohike Electronics Company and the red lightning bolt on it. Sold! He’s interrupted by a sarcastic drawl, “There’s a name that inspires consumer confidence.” Frohike wastes no time in leaning over to the curtain and snarling, “Shut up punk,” under his breath, then immediately turning back to Mystery Woman and smarming, “Now where were we?”

 The curtain suddenly opens, and it’s Langly. He’s wearing some sort of seventies’ styled T-shirt, but I can’t quite make out the logo, and sections of his hair are in little plaits with beads. I kid you not. He says, “If you wanna watch Matlock with Andy Griffith all blue and squiggly, go right ahead and buy from this guy. If you want quality bootleg cable, you talk to me.” Frohike, seeing his sale going up in smoke, counters, “If you want a converter that’ll short out and burn your house down, definitely talk to this guy.” This provokes Langly into saying that it was a one-time fluke and then starting a techno-geek argument with Frohike, obviously just one of many in a long line. Hee, it makes me wonder what their history prior to this was. Mystery Woman completely loses interest at this point, and starts to wander off, looking around carefully. Her sweet, earnest stalker, John Fitzgerald Byers, is still hanging around a nearby stall conspicuously. As Byers follows her past Frohike and Langly’s stalls, Langly fake-coughs, “Narc!” Man, that never gets old; it’s not just for high school. Byers decides that it’s beneath his dignity to notice, and keeps following Mystery Woman. She ducks around the corner and obviously (to everyone but poor naïve Byers) waits for him so that she can deliberately bump into him. He’s all over her, apologising and helping her pick up the things she’s dropped out of her bag, which include a picture of a little girl (perhaps about 3 years old) and a lipstick. He opens his eyes wide and says, “She’s very cute.” Rather than eliciting the usual sort of enthusiastic burbling about how good-looking, intelligent and advanced the child is from a mother thusly prompted, Mystery Woman just says quietly, “Yes, she is.” Byers looks at her all sort of soft and earnest, and she knows she has him. She thanks him and gets up to go. Of course, Byers calls out, “Wait.” Stumbling over his words again, he says that she looks like she could use some help. Byers really is Sir Galahad – I bet he read the Morte d’Arthur over and over when he was a kid. Either that, or watched the musical, Camelot. Mystery Woman takes off her sunglasses and looks at him sadly – she’s hooked him, now all she has to do is reel him in. He’ll be flopping on the deck before he knows it. Mark Snow tunes up the Oboe of Melancholy.

 Byers and Mystery Woman are now sitting at a little table having some coffee together. She’s telling him that her daughter turned three years old last week, and shows him the photo again. She says that last Tuesday was her birthday and says, “I hope he remembered that,” looking very much like she’s having trouble holding back tears. Hesitantly, Byers asks, “Her – her father took her from you?” She replies, “My former boyfriend. He kidnapped her.” Byers just bugs his eyes out in disbelief that someone could be so heinous. Time for the Special Victims Unit, people. She tells Byers that she got involved with a man who turned out to be a complete psychotic and that she was only with him a few months. She claims she was attracted to him because he was dark and mysterious, and then he just kept getting darker and more mysterious. O-K. Time for an intervention. She got pregnant and he left. Goodness me, poor Byers is just eating this up with a spoon. Damsel in distress! She fakes some tears and tells Byers that the psycho boyfriend suddenly came back and took her daughter six months ago. Byers says that it’s terrible and asks her if she called the police. She says she did, as well as private investigators, but they were very unhelpful. Byers evinces shock that the minions of righteousness didn’t do all in their power to help her. She’s gotten a couple of leads on her own, and she was told he was in Baltimore, so she’s here looking for him. Byers says supportively, “Well, that’s a start,” but she lets the air out of his balloon when she tells him that her former boyfriend now knows she’s looking for him and the closer she gets the more dangerous he becomes. Byers, all wide-eyed, asks if she’s worried he might hurt her daughter. Mystery Woman says, “Let’s just say I wanna find her, not him.” She pulls out a piece of paper and tells Byers that it’s the only other lead she has. It’s an ARPANET address, and she gives Byers a line about her boyfriend having something to do with computers. Byers recognises it as a Government network belonging to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but that you can access it through the Internet. Woah, all this modern technology is giving me a head-spin. I think I’ll have to have a Bex and a good lie-down. She gives Byers a bit more of the woe-is-me, I just want to find my daughter, and like any good white knight would, he offers to go on-line to try and find out some information for her. She manages to seem like this is a totally unexpected outcome and comes over all grateful. Byers sort of glows with happiness to be of use to someone, and introduces himself, “By the way, my name’s John.” She pauses slightly, then says, “Holly. It’s nice to meet you,” shaking his hand gently. “Holly. Just like the sugar,” Byers remarks, noticing the torn packet on the table. “Yeah. Just like the sugar,” she says. Oh, Byers, Byers, Byers, open your eyes! It’s so clearly a fake name.

 Back at the Narc Stall, Ken’s still playing the same stupid computer game. I’ll bet that’s what he does all day in the office while Byers does all of his work. He asks Ken if he wants to take a short break. Ken turns around, sees Mystery Woman with Byers, and pushes his glasses up his nose in a sort of knowing way. I bet he’s thinking he didn’t know Byers had it in him. He says, “Whatever,” and leaves. Byers sits down in front of the computer and starts typing, asking Fake!Holly if her ex-boyfriend is into computers. She says she doesn’t really know much about him except that he’s psychotic. Right-o. Byers has logged into the site and it’s the Defense Data Network. He tells her he’s sorry, but that he thinks it is the end of the line. She says to him, “Isn’t there something – I don’t know how you say it – hack in to?” She’s doing a good job of pretending that she has no idea what she’s talking about, but only a Byers-level dork wouldn’t see straight through it. Byers is horribly shocked by this suggestion from his pure damsel and outright refuses to try. Fake!Holly looks terribly disappointed, but nods and begins to leave, thanking him sadly. Of course, he can’t let her go. “Wait,” he says again. Her sad, sad face overrides his judgement and he types in a valid entry code. She asks him what he did and he tells her it’s a government system and he knows a couple of log-in/out tricks with the VMS Version 5. Such. A. Geek. He realises he’s techno-babbling and just tells her, “Never mind.” She asks him to look up ‘Susanne Modeski’, saying that it’s her daughter’s name. To Byers’ surprise, it’s an encrypted file. Why would the DOD have an encrypted file about a three-year-old girl? Enquiring minds want to know. Fake!Holly asks him if he can decode it, but he says he’d need some help. She then asks him to print it out for her and he does so on a dot-matrix printer with tractor feed. I don’t miss those bloody things at all, no-sirree. They were forever screwing up anything I tried to print and they were noisy and slow. They sucked and I’m glad you can’t even buy them anymore. All of a sudden, she rips off the printout and grabs Byers by the arm, telling him to hide. She pulls him behind the curtain at the back and whips it closed, telling Byers that her psychotic ex is out there. The way Bruce Harwood delivers the line, “The psychotic?” is a laugh-riot – it’s like he almost can’t believe that such people exist at all. Fake!Holly tells him that her boyfriend must have tracked her here and is looking for her. She and Byers look out through the gap of the curtain at a tall man with dark hair, wearing a trench coat whose back is turned. Just then, he turns sideways and a considerable honker hoves into view, along with a sexy bad-boy sideburn – it’s Mulder! But he has eighties’ hair, all sort of foofed-up! He turns around completely, and he’s actually wearing a tasteful tie. The later ties must be some sort of cry for help.

 Fade to black – now we’re following Mulder as he walks down a hallway in the Convention Centre. He’s accosted by a salesman, “You look like a gentleman who’d appreciate thirty-three channels of crystal-clear television.” Of course, it’s Frohike again, trolling for customers. Mulder doesn’t even stop or look at him, just deadpans, “No thanks, handsome,” to which Frohike replies, “Ah, a man of distinction,” then mutters, “Punk ass,” once Mulder’s out of hearing range. Langly’s stall is closed and the sign is held up by wire and a couple of alligator clips, typical (hee). Frohike begins to amuse himself by dicking around with a calculator. Byers voiceovers: “It was at this point that we enlisted the help of one Melvin Frohike, computer hacker.” The curtains behind Frohike open and Fake!Holly walks in. Frohike turns, “Oh, hello pretty lady,” and sleazes, “Oh, yeah,” as she pulls the front curtains of his stall closed. What the hell does he think is going on? I think Frohike may have OD-ed on seventies porn where ugly men who just happen to have large appendages get it on with attractive women. Not that I’ve speculated about the size of Frohike’s appendage. Ahem. I blame fan-fiction. Byers then enters through the back curtains and Frohike whines, “What’s with the narc?” Oh, Frohike, haven’t you seen threesomes porn? Although I will admit, usually that’s with two ladies (or so I’ve heard…from people with whom I rarely associate – hey! Those tapes aren’t mine!).

 We flash back to the police interrogation room and the Exposition Fairy (tm Jessica) has Byers firmly in her steely grip and is shaking her magic dust everywhere. Byers tells Det. Munch (no point trying to make that name any funnier) that he thought Frohike could help in deciphering the encrypted file. Back in Frohike’s stall and Byers voiceovers: “It was at this point however, that Mr Frohike raised an interesting question.” Frohike: “I don’t understand. Why don’t you just kick this guy’s ass?” Um, because he’s tall, athletic, carries a gun and could probably kick the crap out of all of you with one hand tied behind his back? Not to mention the red-haired future partner who would make your life a living hell. Fake!Holly tells Frohike it’s a bad idea (women are so much more sensible than men) and tells him she just wants the pages decoded and asks him if he can do that. I know I’m recapping a lot more of the dialogue in this episode than normal, but I just can’t help myself. Frohike answers, “Sure baby. My kung-fu is the best, but it could take hours. I say, cut to the chase. If pretty boy can tell us where your daughter is, we just need to go beat it out of him.” She tells Frohike straight: “Bad idea. He’s very dangerous.” Frohike: “Lady, I’m dangerous! (Crass: BWAH!) All right, so we’ll just follow him.” Byers is backing up Frohike here, and I’m thinking that this is one of those man things, where they won’t admit it’s a bad idea because they don’t want the little woman to think they’re scared of Mulder. Good gravy, and they dare to call women illogical! She tries to talk them out of it, but to no avail. The testosterone is in control, even in Byers. They leave, ignoring Fake!Holly’s objections and she takes a deep breath, indicative of putting up with men’s shit. I hear you, sister!

 Byers and Frohike are following Mulder, who’s questioning people as he makes his way through the exhibits. It seems like he’s showing around a picture. The dork tag-team thinks they’re being inconspicuous, but Frohike’s wearing some sort of weird goggles and Byers couldn’t blend in with the crowd in a pink fit. Frohike says, “This dude doesn’t look so tough,” which is even funnier since it’s clear that Mulder is taller than everyone one else in this scene by several inches. Of course, Mulder spots them trying (and failing) to act casual and on the soundtrack a voice on a loudspeaker is saying: “They’re here. Alien invaders are among us. Detect their presence with hi-tech, modern electronics.” Mulder picks up something from the stall that beeps and startles him and he apologises in a very cute, dorky way and replaces it quickly. He then steps back, and walks into another hallway, closely followed by Frick and Frack. The next shot shows Byers and Frohike walking up the hallway, looking around in vain for their quarry, only to be surprised when he steps out of an alcove behind them, clearly having spotted the tail and wanting to confront them. Mulder says, “What’s up fellas? You looking for somebody?” They tell him they’re looking for the bathroom, which is not surprising considering the nasty shock they’ve just received. I think two pairs of fresh jocks are in order. Mulder tells them that he doesn’t think it’s down here. He notices Byers’ button and asks him if he works for the FCC. Frohike says, “What’s it to ya?” He’s a real little bantam cock, isn’t he? Mulder then makes a remark about belonging to the same credit union and badges them. He says he’s hoping they could help him as he’s looking for a girl. Oh, Mulder, like you need any help in that direction from these two dweebs, although Frohike might be deluded enough to think so. He shows them a slightly crumpled photograph of Fake!Holly, but Frohike and Byers deny knowing anything. Byers asks, “What did she do,” and Mulder snarks, “What’s it to you?” I must congratulate Vince Gilligan and David Duchovny on a fine piece of characterisation there, as this is exactly cocky, arrogant Mulder from Season 1, before Scully knocked off some of the sharp edges. He thanks them, then we hear a phone ring, and Mulder answers a cell phone the size of a house brick. Forget about the arse-kicking lads, he could just beat you both to death with his phone! We get our second taste of poor, dead Reggie Purdue (yay, continuity!). Mulder, you should tell him now about John Barnett so he doesn’t die, but this is just a flashback and Mulder is ignoring my fervent pleas.

 Frohike and Byers are striding down the concourse, beginning to feel as if they’ve been had. They get back to Frohike’s stall, but Fake!Holly is missing. Suddenly, there’s a commotion in the distance. Ken’s being arrested by MP’s, protesting that all he did was play Dig Dug (so that’s what it was called – thanks Ken!) and that he didn’t hack into anybody’s computer. Byers, the poor honest fool, tries to own up that it was him, but Frohike won’t have a bar of that, telling Byers that he’s crazy for trying to turn himself in and that a hacker never turns himself in. Byers vehemently denies that he’s a hacker. Frohike brings him down to earth: “Listen, we’ve got FBI agents running around, military police. Whatever the hell is going on around here, it’s big, and your lady friend is somehow at the centre of it all.” Byers doesn’t want to admit that Fake!Holly isn’t on the up and up, and insists that she needs his help. He just wants to find out what’s going on. Frohike suggests that they hack into the FBI mainframe to find out why the FBI’s looking for her and he knows just the guy who can do it. Byers is scandalised by this and says to Frohike: “You’re talking about a premeditated crime against the United States Government.” Frohike replies, “Hey, your second one today. Welcome to the Dark Side.” He removes Byers’ FCC pin and throws it aside. Bwahahahahahaaaaa!!!

“Okay ladies, who’s down for fifty?” It’s Langly, playing Dungeons and Dragons for money. I’m about the same age as these guys and I’ve always been a huge geek, but even I would have thought this was incredibly dorky. He doesn’t have any takers for the bet. Scornfully, he remarks, “Oh, man. My diaper-wearing granny would bet fifty.” He scoffs and says, “There’s no game here.” Another long-haired dork with a scrappy little goatee is goaded into betting fifty. Langly says, “Elron the Druid bets fifty. Cash only, Elron. I don’t take no personal cheques from the Bank of Middle Earth.” BWAH! The camera pulls back and you can see all the assorted dragons and other figurines littering the table. Langly shakes the dice. “Come on natural 20. Daddy needs a new sword of wounding.” The door opens before he can throw them – of course it’s Byers and Frohike. Langly protests: “What’s the big idea bringing the narc in here?” as he stalks to the door.

Frohike: “Me and the narc have a proposition for you.”

Langley: “What proposition?”

Frohike: “The coolest hack in the world” As he says this he moves in, almost breathing it in Langly’s ear. What’s up with that? Seriously wrong fan-fic alert! The other dork stands up at the table and says loudly, “Lord Manhammer.” Langly ignores him and says to Frohike – “Say it.” Pause. “Say it.” Frohike looks away and down, and says quietly, “Your kung-fu is the best.” Disturbing – geek showdown, yo!

Cut to a darkened hotel room, and Los Trios Dorkios are setting up some sort of computer system. Byers asks what a particular piece of equipment does. Frohike, not one to miss an opportunity, snarks: “Besides overheat, and burn the hotel down?” The usual Mulder and Scully banter has been replaced by banter between Frohike and Langly due to Scully’s absence. She’s probably too busy re-writing Einstein to care. Scully, I miss you! Don’t be gone long, k? Langly answers that it’s a loop-line shunt (uh-huh) and that anyone who tries to trace them will get bounced around by C and P’s call-forwarding software. Just so we’re clear. It’s Langly’s personal invention. Byers is freaking out about getting fired and going to jail, even saying that he deserves to go to jail. Frankly, I think that’s going to end up being the least of his troubles. Frohike tells him to shut up, and asks Langly what he needs him to do. Langly says, “Just watch and learn.” Langly types in a password and Access Granted. He is good. He says, “Government hack is a snap. Last week I got into the Maryland DMV. Changed my endorsement so I could handicap park.” Byers gives him a disgusted look. Chagrined, Langly says, “I got tinnitus.” I’m with you Langly. Tinnitus is a BITCH. Frohike tells Langly to look up Mulder’s FBI record. He brings Mulder’s record up, and how funny is it that David Duchovny is not only older than Mulder, but also about two inches taller? How does that work? But I’m sure one thing they both share is commendations out the ying-yang. We get a potted history of Fox William Mulder from Frohike who’s reading it from the screen. The record says he’s single, so what’s with the wedding ring? Did Duchovny just forget to take it off when he took off the rest of his clothes? They realise that Fake!Holly was lying about him being her psycho ex-boyfriend. They look up Mulder’s active case files, and of course, it turns out that Fake!Holly is Susanne Modeski. She’s an employee of the Army Advanced Weapons Research Facility at Whitestone, wanted for murder and sabotage. The case file says that she blew up a lab and killed four people and is considered unstable and delusional, intellectually brilliant, yet prone to confabulation and fits of violent behaviour. Wait, are we back in Mulder’s file again? She’s psychotic and profoundly paranoid, as well as armed and extremely dangerous. Byers sure does know how to pick ‘em. They all look at each other, shit-scared, when of course, that’s exactly when Susanne shows up. Frohike hides behind Byers, and Langly crouches down and hides behind him! Just too funny.

 Susanne sees the open computer screen and says: “You’ve been reading about me.” She closes the lap-top and admits that she is Susanne Modeski. She tells them that she was an organic chemist for the advanced weapons facility, but that she never blew up a lab and she never killed anybody. She claims that all she did was try to quit, but her job wasn’t the type of job you can just quit. Byers asks about her daughter, and she admits that she doesn’t have one. Byers looks incredibly hurt, and she apologises and tells him that the photo came with the wallet. She says that he wouldn’t have believed the truth and that she desperately needed his help. She still needs the encrypted document decoded. She says it has everything she needs to expose the United States Government’s plot against its own people, one she unwittingly helped to forward by developing the ergotamine-histamine gas. It’s an aerosolised gas which in small doses causes anxiety and paranoia in its subject. Funny, when Scully gets a dose of it in Season 6, it turns her into a bimbo. She tries to tell them that the government plans to test the gas on people in Baltimore, but our boys don’t believe her. She gets increasingly more desperate, and brings up JFK’s assassination, favourite conspiracy of Conspiracy Theorists R Us. Susanne says that the government wants to control every aspect of our lives from the cradle to the grave. I’m thinking I might let them – my life’s been a bit of a disorganised mess so far and it could probably use some bureaucratic rigour. But then, I work for the Government, so maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea. Susanne leaps over the bed, looking for something in the bedside table, and Frohike is so freaked by the whole thing he doesn’t even leer at the exposed thigh. Susanne tells them about her hotel bible theory – that there’s a listening device in all of them. Whoever was listening in to my last business trip has now had about as much Barry Manilow as a person can stand and still stay sane.

Frohike, doing a creditable Scully impersonation (after all, he’s about the same height) has had enough of this malarkey. He strides up to her, followed by Langly. “Now, I’m sorry. You’re telling me that the US Government – the same Government that gave us Amtrak – (“Not to mention the Susan B. Anthony dollar,” Langly interjects), is behind some of the darkest conspiracies on the planet? That’s just crazy!” Langly (pointing to Byers): “I mean, like, this guy works for the Government.” Hee, that line wouldn’t work at all without that superfluous ‘like’. Susanne says that she needs the document decoded and she’ll prove it to them. As she picks up her hand-bag, she drops a gun. “What do you say guys?” Byers voiceover: “Of course, at that point, we didn’t feel like we had much choice.” Back to the computer hacking. This time it’s Frohike doing all the work, while Langly and Byers lean over to watch. Frohike says, “Thank God for supercomputers,” so I’m assuming they’ve hacked into another US Government site. They decipher the document and it seems to back up everything she’s told them. They have murdered her research associates and placed the blame on her. The gas is being warehoused at our old friend, 204 Fells Point Road. However, Byers notices something even more disturbing. “Subject Modeski is currently monitored around the clock. Covert electronics installed per Dr Michael Kilbourne, 11/6/88.” Woah, dude, Dr Kilbourne’s her dentist. I knew you couldn’t trust dentists, I just knew it! Susanne excuses herself, but takes a pair of pliers from the toolbox. The Dork Boys have no idea what to think, but Byers eventually follows her into the toilet. Shockingly, she has pulled out the tooth with the pliers, and is swaying with pain and shock. She is one tough lady. I’d NEVER be able to do that. I can barely bring myself to go to the dentist. She’s holding the tooth up in the pliers and forcing them to look at it. I’d just faint dead away – teeth freak me out. They look at the tooth underneath some sort of magnifying glass and it certainly does seem to have some sort of electronic device implanted in it. Poor Susanne is holding an ice-pack to her jaw – I think I’d be screaming for drugs, right about now. The stronger the better. Byers says, “What’s the address of that warehouse?” and she smiles at him through the pain.

Back to the Munch Interrogation room. Det. Munch asks Byers where the tooth is, and Byers tells him that they flushed it because they were afraid it would give away their location. Munch just stares at him, and Byers, (feeling the pressure) says, “So…we broke into the warehouse.”

Langly finds the shipment and Frohike hands Susanne a box-cutter. She wastes no time, cutting into the cardboard. She rips it open, and it’s a carton of asthma inhalers. She tells them it’s how they plan on distributing the gas. Signy Coleman has a strange way of pronouncing asthma – it’s like azmar. Showing impeccable timing, Mulder now shows up to arrest Susanne Modeski. I’m guessing he was smart enough to have Byers and Frohike under some sort of surveillance the whole time, but not smart enough to call for back-up. Byers tries to tell Mulder that Susanne didn’t do it, but Mulder just tells them that they’re also under arrest. It’s a typical Mulder arrest though. He is there on his own, without his partner, only this time, Scully’s not around to pull his chestnuts out of the fire. They keep trying to tell Mulder what’s going on, but he’s trying to keep control of the situation and arrest four people at once on his own, so he gestures with his gun for them to get on the ground – NOW! The three guys obey, but Susanne is one tough broad and she is still moving away. Mulder says, “Ma’am, stop moving. I’m not gonna ask you again.” She ignores him and keeps backing away. She looks unsure about what she’s going to do, but if I were Mulder I wouldn’t mess with a woman who extracts her own teeth with a set of pliers.

A pair of Men in Black show up behind Susanne, asking her to come with them. Mulder, upset that his arrest is going awry, badges them and asks them to identify themselves. They ignore him, and Mulder’s always uncertain temper flares and he draws his gun on them. They throw Susanne behind them and open fire on Mulder with what appears to be a pair of machine pistols. Demonstrating his ability to thwart death, Mulder avoids being shot by ducking quickly behind some cartons, which start spewing gas as the bullets penetrate. Mulder is grunting and moaning (but not in a good way) and starts to throw his clothes off as if they are burning his skin. The two MIBs walk up to him as he is writhing on the floor, and start to reload their pistols. They’re about to shoot him when – BANG, BANG! Susanne Modeski shoots them both in the back, saving his life. She drops the gun and seems to be in shock as she walks towards where Mulder is twitching on the floor, completely oblivious to what just happened. She leaves quickly. The boys walk over toward Mulder, Byers calling for Susanne, but as they do so, the big door rolls open and a clean-up team of MIBs turns up, dressed in protective gear and gas masks. Oh, and Langly’s wearing a Bob Marley T-shirt. Rasta, mon! The boys just stand there, gob-smacked as our dear friend, X, walks up the ramp. He just walks past the Dork Boys as if they’re supremely unimportant and looks down at Mulder, who still seems to be mostly unaware of his surroundings and is reacting to things that aren’t there. He’s sort of talking to himself and twitching – it’s weird. X says, “Sanitise him.” Oh, that can’t be good.

The MIBs are now backing up a truck to the warehouse docking bay. Mulder has now removed all of his clothes, and we’re getting the scene through his eyes, I think. Everything is limned in primary colours and the sound is all echoey. He’s seeing the MIBs as little grey men. I know a lot of people hate how Chris Carter and 1013 fucked with the fan’s minds, but I think this is sort of cool, particularly when you marry it with the events of Gethsemane, and Redux I and II, where Mulder lost his faith that aliens were real. Here you get a plausible explanation of why Mulder might believe in aliens so strongly and why he becomes paranoid. Of course, you can also interpret it another way, and say that it had nothing to do with it. This is what I love about The X-Files. It’s like life – nothing is really resolved, your issues aren’t tied up in a neat little bow after 42 minutes and the truth is not self-evident. It’s a show with a really post-modern sensibility; there is no one truth, but maybe there are truths from your perspective. And maybe they’re out there.

The MIBs are rolling out the body-bags, but one of the MIB pair who tried to grab Susanne is not dead. It doesn’t matter, into the body-bag he goes, while Byers, Langly and Frohike look on, stunned. Byers just can’t help himself – somewhere inside he still believes that the Government is accountable to him. He yells, “Who are you people?” He gets no answer, but they have to move out of the way quickly or be run over by a fork-lift. The MIBs are covering the entire pallet of asthma inhalers in plastic, picking up all the broken asthma inhalers and vacuuming up the liquid on the concrete, as well as giving it a good scrubbing. This really is a clean-up crew. X, of course, isn’t getting his hands dirty. He finds the gun Susanne used to shoot the MIBs and picks it up. Byers, full of righteous anger, demands: “What authority do you have to do this?” Langly says, “Shut up, Byers.” Well, that’s sweet. At least he’s not calling him ‘the narc’ any more. X just ignores them some more and walks over to check out nekkid Mulder. Can’t blame him for that – it’s what I’d be doing. The clean-up guy asks, “Bag him?” X leans down and looks into Mulder’s face and says, “No-one touches this man.” Bet you wouldn’t be saying that if you knew you were going to die of a gunshot wound on the hallway outside Mulder’s apartment, X.

Byers just won’t give up. He really is quite courageous in a quiet sort of way. He insists on being heard, even though Langly is still trying valiantly to shut him up. Byers lays the whole thing out for X, demanding an explanation. Frohike is also hissing at him to shut up, but he keeps going. “Who gives you the authority?” X just looks at him and says, “No bags.” That sounds ominous. The guys are forced to their knees and X screws around with the gun a bit, messing with their heads. He walks behind them, and points the gun at the back of Byers’ head, execution-style, but it clicks on an empty chamber as Byers flinches, expecting to die. X says, “Behave yourselves.” He’s a man of few words, but they all count. Byers is still all revved-up. “That’s it?” he says. “You’re trying to intimidate us? To scare us so we’ll keep quiet?” Frohike whispers, “Byers, I swear to God I’ll shoot you myself.” Byers is on a roll though. “It’s all true what Susanne said about you people, isn’t it? About John F. Kennedy? Dallas?” X answers, “I heard it was a lone gunman.” Oh, cool, we have ourselves a name. Byers has no idea how to answer that, so X just turns and leaves. In the distance, we can hear the sirens of the cops from the teaser. Sucks to be The Lone Gunmen.

Back to the Munch Interrogation Room. Byers tells him that was the last they saw of him, and that the police turned up straight after and they panicked and hid. Munch is looking at him over the top of his glasses (I’ve tried this, it’s amazingly effective) and asks Byers, “Do I look like Geraldo to you?” Byers just sort of swallows and looks at him. Munch continues: “Don’t lie to me like I’m Geraldo. I’m not Geraldo!” Cut to Byers waking from a nightmare, into one that is arguably even worse. He was sleeping on a bench in a police lock-up with his suit jacket over his head. Langly has just woken too, and says, “Oh, man. It’s not all just a bad dream. I am in hell.” Frohike wakes up and says, “Oh, women,” to which Langly replies, “Ain’t it the truth?” Byers sits up and says, “What do you mean, women?” Langly says, “You know exactly what he means. Your molar-pulling girlfriend roped us in and left us swinging in the breeze.” Byers asks Frohike, “Is that what you meant?” Frohike, obviously feeling some sympathy for Byers, says, “Look. She is hot. But you gotta admit we’re here because of her.” Byers is not one to blame others for his situation and says, “I’m here because I wanted to learn the truth. I assume that was the same for you.” Ooh, someone call the burns unit for Langly and Frohike. Ouch. “Susanne opened my eyes to it. She doesn’t owe me anything. If there was some way I could help her still, I’d – I’d do it in a second.” Man, he’s almost too good to be true.

Yay, it’s Munch again. He unlocks the cell door and tells them that Agent Mulder came to and verified their story. “Three cheers for the FBI. You guys are free to go.” Of course, being Munch, he can’t just let them go. “Here’s a tip. Aluminium foil makes a lovely hat and it blocks out the Government’s mind control rays. Keep you guys out of trouble.” Snark, how I love thee. I also live to mock. The guys get their belongings back from the desk sergeant: “One green nylon wallet, $38 in cash…one – whatever the hell this is…” It looks like a bootleg cable device. Without saying a word, Munch just leans over Langly’s shoulder and confiscates it. As he does so, another police officer gives Munch some information about finding Mulder’s stolen car at the train station. I’m guessing this was Susanne’s getaway vehicle. Mulder must have left the keys in it. He probably lost his gun and his ginormous cell phone too. Byers is pretty quick on the uptake. He figures out that Susanne left the car there and he thinks they can catch up with her. Frohike thinks that she took a train, but Byers disagrees. Between them they figure out that she’s probably gone to the Baltimore Guardian offices that are only a couple of blocks from the train station.

Over to Susanne, who is indeed just leaving the Baltimore Guardian. She stops for a moment, looks around and puts her glasses back on. She is still wearing the same mini-dress. I hope she’s had a change of underwear. She’s walking furtively down the street, when Byers calls out her name. He runs to catch up to her, as do Langly and Frohike, although the bowl over a pedestrian as they do so. I wonder if that was choreographed. Susanne tells them that the Guardian didn’t believe her story. She’s not giving up though, she’s intending to try other newspapers and TV stations. Try the FOX network – they’ll show anything. She tells them she appreciates what they did for her. Byers tells her they still want to help. She leans over and kisses him, probably making his decade, and tells him they already have. A public phone on the street inexplicably starts to ring, and Susanne looks around suspiciously. She tells them, “No matter how paranoid you are you’re not paranoid enough. Tell the truth. Reach as many people as you can with it. That’s your weapon.” She backs away from them, puts on her sunglasses, and starts to trot off down the street. Before she can get far, a black sedan pulls up in front of her. She tries to run, but she can’t get away quickly enough. The Lone Gunmen watch helplessly as she is forced into the car, Byers calling out for her. As the car drives off, the tinted back window lowers, and we see X in the back seat.

Back at the Convention Centre, Byers is packing up the FCC buttons. He’s fingering them reluctantly, knowing they are a symbol of a life he is going to have to leave behind. In a way, he’s lost his innocence. Langly and Frohike are with him, seated back to back. Yay! It’s Mulder! But boo! He’s completely clothed. His hair also looks weird all combed-down and forward like that. Begone, ugly ‘eighties do! Frohike asks him if he’s feeling better, and he says he is, but he tells them he has these weird ideas in his head he can’t seem to shake. Frohike, never backward in coming forward asks, “What kind of ideas?” Mulder isn’t giving the little troll any ammunition and just says, “Weird ones.” Langly asks if Mulder’s going to bust them, and Mulder says he’s not sure yet, and he just spoke to his ASAC who has told him that Dr Susanne Modeski is no longer wanted by the FBI. She’s still missing but the case is closed. So that’s all right then. Mulder wants them to tell him what happened last night. Byers asks him if he wants the truth. Mulder says, “Yeah, I want the truth.” Byers says, “You might want to sit down. This is gonna take a while.” Mulder takes a seat, and the camera goes up to a crane shot, showing them sitting together in a loose semi-circle. Byers says, “The truth is, none of us is safe. Secret elements within the US Government seek to surveil us and control our lives.” Mulder busts out with a hilariously disbelieving, “WHAT?” Langly says, “Tell him about the hotel room bibles.” Byers says, “Yeah, I’m coming to that. It all started with Susanne Modeski.” Fade out.