Episode 5X19: Folie a Deux
Welcome to Folie a Deux, a.ka. the One Where Mulder and Scully Fight a Giant Zombie Creating Bug, Or Do They? It is also the one in five billion episode.
Teaser: We pan in on a poor sap, who is working his telemarketing job. He pleasantly takes abuse from the guy on the other end of the phone. Not that I haven’t abused a telemarketer or too. Gary hears an insect sound, and stops and looks around. His boss tells him to smile, because customers know if you aren’t smiling. Gary’s attractive blonde co-worker mocks the boss over their cubicle. They share a smile and get back to work, offering folks $100 to hear about their super exciting siding that will never die. Ever. Gary then really hears the sound in earnest, and begins to freak out. He tells an old lady on the phone to listen carefully, “It’s here.”
Credits: I will take this moment to talk about how this episode always makes me think of my senior year in high school when I was forced to read the Metamorphosis in AP English. My teacher was so concerned with us reading as many books as possible and preparing for the AP exam that we just took a fill-in-the blanks test and never discussed it. Trying to be conscientious, I actually read the book and not the Cliff Notes. I also didn’t want to waste five bucks on Cliff Notes for a 90 page book. Anyhow, the moral of the story is that I still have no clue what the symbolism behind the Metamorphosis was. I am assuming I wouldn’t have been forced to read it in high school if it were just some crazy story about a guy who turns into a bug. And now I shall end my rant about how high school sapped away all creativity or critical thought I might have actually had when I began.
We now pan on Skinner, and Kimberly buzzes him to say Mulder and Scully are there. Skinner says to send them in. They come in, looking really pretty. I think Season Five might have the best hair, though Season Four is right behind it. I think Fight the Future brought out the best in them, it seems. Anyhow, Skinner brought them in for reasons other than looking at the pretty, though with what follows he probably thinks to himself that Mulder is far prettier when he’s not talking.
Skinner tells them about an anonymous phone call they received about a work site incident in Chicago. There was a strange manifesto recorded. They office had previously had a similar incident where someone got shot. Mulder asks why the Chicago Field Office couldn’t handle it. Skinner says he would prefer that they handle it. Mulder guesses that the manifesto contained some paranormal elements. Skinner tells him that it involves monsters. Mulder replies, “Monsters, I’m your boy.” He doesn’t seem enthused.
As Mulder and Scully leave Skinner’s office, Mulder bitches about the assignment. I almost had forgotten about Mulder’s brief lapse into the skeptic role. He didn’t wear it well, as he just seems like a petulant child here. Does Mulder expect to just hang out in the basement until he finds a lead he deems worth pursuing? He bitches that he gets called for every possible paranormal event. Again, what does he expect exactly? It’s funny that I find I really like Season Five, and think it might have the best overall group of standalones, yet I find Mulder extremely annoying almost the entire season. Is it really just that their hair looks so nice? Am I that shallow?
I do want to point out that the Continuity Fairy actually came through for once, and Mulder still has the Pine Bluff Variant splint on his hand. Marry me Vince!
Scully points out that he is saying “I” a lot here. Is she new? Did the tumor cause a memory lapse that made her forget why she has a snake tattooed on her back, which may or may not still be there? Scully says “we” would really be the proper pronoun, and that she doesn’t assume it would be a waste of their collective time. He tells her it won’t be a waste of her time at least, as he’ll go it alone and proceeds to walk way. She calls out “Mulder!” and he doesn’t break stride and tells her he’ll take care of it, he’s Monster Boy. Amazingly, none of the other agents in the hallway even give this a second glance. Maybe I read too much fanfic.
Mulder is now in Chicago, sitting with a manager and listening to the tape. He looks bored. Though of course, with Mulder it’s hard to tell. This time he actually sighs and kind of rolls his eyes. Then Mulder suddenly looks interested after he hears the phrase “hiding in the light.” Mulder asks if he recognizes the voice. The manager says they have 96 people, so no. He says he hopes it isn’t one of their people. Mulder brings up the incident at the other office. In 1994, there was a shooting in their Kansas City location. Woot! Shout out to my hometown! As far as I know, the only X-Files episode ever set in Kansas City was Fight Club, so I will take a reference in this highly superior episode as a shout out. Fight Club also kept having the screen caps say everything was in Kansas City, Kansas, which as most people know, the main part of Kansas City is in Missouri. Though I do live in Kansas, so it is ironic that this bothers me. The manager says the Kansas City incident was supposedly over a woman. Mulder asks to borrow the tape and leaves.
Mulder takes out his ginormous cell phone and calls Scully. It’s so cute how it has a long antenna! Mulder tells Scully she needs his help with something. She can’t resist a dig about him earlier calling the case a waste of time. Mulder persists that it still is, but gives her the Worst.Assignment.Ever anyway. He tells her he has heard the phrase “hiding in the light” before. He asks her to find where in an old case file he has hidden away somewhere. She asks if he knows which one, as there are hundreds. He doesn’t know, but he’d really appreciate it if she’d find it. Scully looks exasperated as she hangs up the phone. I interpret her body language to mean “Photographic memory, my ass!”
Poor Telemarketing Sap from earlier is sitting and staring straight ahead. Blonde Coworker gets called into the manager. PTS follows after her, warning her not to go. PTS is apparently named Gary, but I think we’ll stick with PTS. She is Nancy, which I’ll go ahead and stick with. Nancy wonders what PTS’s problem is. She doesn’t heed his warning and says she loves him, but he’s really, really weird. PTS just stares after her, looking like he’s about to cry. There’s a flash of something at the door where Nancy enters, and hears a scream. He moves to help, but is told by his boss to “Dial and Smile.” The boss looks really dead eyed, which it’s hard to tell if this is coming from something paranormal or having to direct people to dial and smile all day.
Nancy comes back, and she looks like a zombie via PTS’s perspective. She tells him there was nothing to it, and they just wanted to talk to everyone. PTS is called in next, and he decides to bolt.
Mulder is listening to the tape again, actively taking notes. He seems to be trying to profile the voice, with notes like “formality of phrasing” and “desire for authority.” Mulder rewinds and continues to take notes which are more psychological in nature. He doesn’t yet seem to be on a paranormal track. Mulder is always more reined in when Scully’s not around, though obviously here he started with a crappy attitude on top of everything.
Scully calls then. I am noticing for the first time that he FBI badge is ridiculously huge. It’s clipped to her collar and stretches to right in the middle of her breast area. The thing’s gotta be six inches long or so, with “FBI” taking up most of the space. Are the guards going blind or something?
As it turns out, there’s a reason Scully gets to wear a six-inch FBI tag across her entire chest. She found the phrase “hiding in the light” from a 1992 case. It was uttered by a deacon in a church as told to a police officer. He felt there was an evil presence, and moved a bunch of people into the church while carrying four firearms. He said the people wouldn’t bleed because they weren’t real. Mulder tells Scully at the risk of her saying I told you so, he thinks it’s time for her to come down. Scully of course says, “I told you so.” It’s actually much more good-natured than I would have been, especially considering the fact that I would probably still be sneezing from having to go through all those files. This is one of so many ways that Scully is better than me.
Back at the telemarketing office, 12:14 pm. It’s completely empty and dark, and Mulder comes in calling “Hello?” He doesn’t seem terribly concerned with anything, but then Nancy waves at him from down below. Then PTS comes out and asks who he is, then puts a gun to his head. Oh, Mulder. Never go off without Scully. No good ever comes of it.
Scully pulls up to the office building, where someone managed to report that they were being held. Scully talks to the police and SWAT team, and they suggest they call Mulder’s cell phone. This seems like a terrible idea in a hostage situation, which Scully agrees with. She says not to call just yet. SWAT Team Guy says they need someone to talk to them to locate where everyone is exactly, but Scully says that might compromise Mulder. SWAT Team Guy seems skeptical. Maybe he knows Mulder. Scully just stares at them icily, which has its usual effect. No one contradicts her any more.
PTS starts naming off people who he is not listening to, because they’re not real. Mulder asks PTS why everyone should be afraid of Mr. Pinkus, the manager. PTS asks Mulder who he is. Mulder says he was applying for a job. PTS says he picked the wrong day for that. Mulder basically says, “No shit, Sherlock.” PTS explains that Mr. Pinkus is turning people into zombies. Mulder says he’d really like to believe him, but that the rifle he’s threatening him with is not adding to PTS’s credibility.
PTS asks why Mulder’s speaking to him like a three-year old, and that he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about but Mulder will. Then PTS hears a sound from above, and figures out that the SWAT team is up there. He shoots the rifle at the ceiling. Outside, we see the SWAT team run away. The police officer tells Scully they need to know what’s going on inside, so he picks up the phone to call Mulder. She tells him that Mulder would have called if he could. The officer says he has to call, so he does. I’m not understanding why the location of shots fired wasn’t information enough, but I suppose I’ll let it slide.
PTS stops shooting, and looks above. The room is silent. Mulder is about to reach for his gun when his phone rings. Mulder says he’ll get it. PTS tells him to put his hands behind his head, and when he does he sees the gun. PTS reaches for it, when a hostage charges him. PTS shoots the hostage, and everyone screams. The phone continues to ring. Nancy is crying. PTS finds Mulder’s badge and discovers he’s FBI. He asks Mulder, “Are you happy now?” PTS so doesn’t know Mulder.
PTS answers Mulder’s phone. The officer asks if everyone is okay. PTS says the real people are, but he shot a zombie. PTS says unless they put him on TV, he’s going to shoot a real person. The officer tells Scully it looks like PTS shot a hostage. Scully asks who, and gets no answer. The officer tells her PTS still wants his 15 minutes of fame. Scully, knowing Mulder could be next, tells the officer to give PTS what he wants.
PTS orders a hostage to remove the zombie body. Mulder tells PTS that he killed a man, not a zombie. PTS begs to differ. Mr. Pinkus pleads with PTS to let everyone go if it’s him they have issues with. PTS says he wants to put him on TV to show the world who Mr. Pinkus is. Mulder’s phone rings again. “Dial and smile,” PTS answers. The officer tells PTS that his TV time is a go.
PTS orders everyone against the door. A camera man comes over to interview PTS while he holds Mulder at gunpoint. The team outside moves to prepare to shoot PTS based on the view they have. PTS tells Mulder to get down. PTS stands looking at the camera like a psycho, telling America that a monster walks among them. He orders the camera to pan on Mr. Pinkus. PTS moves to shoot Mr. Pinkus, but Mulder gets up and stands in the way. He tells PTS to put down the rifle. PTS doesn’t want to shoot Mulder, and tells him to get out of the way. The lights go off, and PTS tells Mulder to look at it, meaning Mr. Pinkus. Mulder can hear the bug sound now too as he looks at Mr. Pinkus. Finally, Mulder gets out of the way as a big truck plows through the wall. PTS is shot. Mulder turns around and gives Mr. Pinkus one last glance and bends down to talk to a dying PTS. PTS’s dying words are “Now you know.”
Scully tells Mulder he looks exhausted. He says he’s fine. She says the police have it under control, and they should get out of there. Mulder instead walks over to talk to Mr. Pinkus. He asks him why he thinks he was targeted. He asks if Mr. Pinkus was in Kansas City during the previous incident. He says not then, but he had been there. He also asked if he had been to Lakeland Florida, home of the previous “hidden in the light” moment. Mr. Pinkus says he’s been there, as he has relatives there.
It’s the next day, and Mulder is back in the basement office, charting something on a map. Scully comes in, asking a beaten up Mulder why he didn’t take the day off. Mulder tells her that there were other “hidden in the light” references all over the country, in seven places to be exact. Scully questions whether he got any sleep at all. Mulder ignores her, and continues on to say Vinyl Rite, Pinkus’s company, had an office within 50 miles of four of them. Apparently Pinkus has worked for Vinyl Rite for ten years, which covers the span of the “hidden in the light’ incidents. Scully is not impressed, and says he can’t be serious. Mulder has a theory that Pinkus is putting people under a spell like a mantis. Scully tells him PTS was crazy. Mulder thinks he was crazy because of what he saw, instead. Mulder said he saw it too. Mulder asks if she thinks he’s crazy too because he saw it. Scully takes a breath, and goes into Rational Explanation Mode. She says that in intense circumstances, under lots of duress, people can see the same things as a disturbed person, without necessarily being disturbed themselves. Mulder says he knows of “folie a deux.” (Yay, episode title!) Mulder said it’s not folie a deux or Helsinki syndrome. He says he really saw it, and that she needs to autopsy the dead guy. She says she’s not going to confirm the delusions of a mad man, presumably PTS. Mulder storms out, saying he’ll do it without her. Scully looks worried.
Mulder is back in Chicago, at PTS’s house. First thing he sees is a map that is tracking Pinkus. The officer calls it “stalking.” Mulder calls it “gathering evidence.” Mulder looks out the window and sees Zombie Nancy. He goes running, much to the officer’s dismay. He asks if he knows where she went as a car drives off. Both Mulder and the officer run after a car that leaves, which carries both Nancy and Pinkus.
Scully walks into Skinner’s office. She is wearing a really nice wine colored jacket that sets off her coloring beautifully. But that is not why she was called into Skinner’s office. Skinner questions Mulder’s actions, wondering why he is in Chicago when the case is supposedly closed. Scully acts like nothing unusual is happening, and says it is her understanding that Mulder is pursuing a legitimate lead and she is heading to Chicago immediately. Skinner wonders how she can be heading to Chicago when she is scheduled to an autopsy Mulder scheduled for her at Quantico. Skinner asks if she knew about the autopsy. She non-answers that she’ll get right on it. Skinner asks if there’s anything she wants to tell him. She says no. Skinner is heartbroken, of course, but lets her go.
Autopsy! Scully. Scully says she only wants a picture exam, and the other examiner questions why just pictures. Scully turns away while he takes pictures and analyzes to call Mulder. While waiting for Mulder to pick up, she hears the examiner say that the body appears to have been dead for 48-72 hours. Scully says that can’t be true, as the guy died late afternoon the day before. The examiner says it looks like he’s been dead a lot longer than that.
Mulder is following Pinkus home. He enters his house, and Mulder continues to follow and then peeps into his window. Mulder sees a gigantic bug flash by, and hears a scream. Mulder smashes in the window, and then runs around the front, bearing his weapon. A woman is sitting on the couch, looking straight at the TV, zombie like. Mulder chases the bug out of the house and points his gun at it, but doesn’t shoot. It gets away.
We cut back to a woman talking about a presence creeping toward her, and how then she found Mulder waving a gun and rambling about monsters. Skinner is at the table, and apologizes for Mulder’s actions. She is apparently one of Pinkus’s employees, as Pinkus tells her she can have the day off. I guess being held at gunpoint two days in a row gives you the day off. On her way out, she tells Skinner that Mulder has no business carrying a gun in her opinion. While I get that Mulder broke into her house, she seems a tad ungrateful for Mulder’s role in PTS not killing everyone the day before. The woman leaves and Pinkus comes back in. Mulder tells Pinkus that he got to the woman, infecting her. Skinner tries to cut him off, and tells him to apologize. Pinkus says that’s quite all right, as Mulder’s been through a lot of stress and he still considers him a hero. Nice that someone remembers. Pinkus said he’d rather just drop the whole matter, and will convince the woman to do the same if Mulder is amenable. Mulder continues to say that Pinkus is turning folks into zombies, and Skinner has had enough. He tries to rip Mulder a new one. However, Mulder has that really short attention span, and he starts to hear things and suddenly Pinkus is distorting and turns into the bug. Mulder thinks Pinkus is trying to turn Skinner into a zombie and picks up his gun to go after Pinkus. As we’ve many times established, Skinner can totally kick Mulder’s ass and wrestles him to the ground.
Mulder is now lying in restraints in the loony bin. Scully walks in to visit him. Mulder tells her that she must have seen this coming. Mulder asks if they examined the body. She says yes, and that everything was mostly how she expected. He asks her to explain what she means. She clarifies that the body did look more decomposed than the time of death would suggest. Like she’s talking with a small child, she tells him that time of death can be really difficult to quantify, so this really means nothing. Mulder says it could also mean the guy really was dead before he was shot. Scully looks legitimately worried for Mulder at this stage, seemingly thinking he’s really gone off the deep end this time. He tells her that she needs to go check the body again, as he saw Pinkus inject something into the woman’s neck the night before. Scully sadly tells him it’s over, and that there’s no evidence left to be gathered. Scully tells him that she hopes he’ll be able to see past this delusion.
Mulder tells her she has to believe him, that no one else ever believes him. She is looking down, not wanting to meet his eyes. He says that she is the one person in the whole world who believes him, and then Scully looks him in the eye as he tells her that she is his one in five billion. I have seen this episode at least five times, and I admit I still squee a bit. (Really, Vince, marry me!)
Apparently, the one in five billion speech melted Scully’s rational heart, as she is back in the morgue to examine the body again. She is told she got there right in time. She is asked if she wants a full autopsy now, and she says she just wants to flip him. The examiner clearly thinks she’s nuts, but helps her as Scully can’t flip the guy al on her own. Scully shaves off some hair at the neckline, and peers at the neck with a magnifying glass. Sure enough, there are marks there that look like a bite of some kind.
Mulder is still in the nut house, but managing to charm the nurse despite being tied to his bed. He says that surely he doesn’t need the restraints. The nurse laughs at his plight, but says she can’t free him. And I do know this totally seems like the beginning of a porn scene, but we all know Mulder hasn’t been laid in about three years at this stage, and is looking at a considerable dry spell ahead of him. The nurse just puts something in his IV instead and closes the curtain, telling him to sleep tight and not let the bed bugs bite. Clearly she didn’t read his file.
The room is dark and Mulder leans back to try and sleep. He hears a sound, and then sees a huge bug shadow. He yells for the nurse, telling her it’s at the window. He begs to be unstrapped. The nurse refuses, telling him she can show him that there’s nothing. She patronizingly tells him there’s nothing there, and opens the window. She says he just needs fresh air, and actually tightens the restraints. She tells him she can’t be running in there all night and leaves. Guess he didn’t charm her too much.
The bug comes back, cllmbing on the ceiling and Mulder yells for help. Scully is outside asking the nurse if she can visit. The nurse tells him visiting hours are over, and that she can’t go see him. She flashes her badge to no avail. She starts squinting, looking thoughtful. She sees the nurse in zombie form, and runs off to find Mulder, who is yelling frantically. Scully comes in, gun drawn, and sees the bug. She shoots at it and it appears to escape through the window.
Scully is in Skinner’s office. She is wearing a lilac suit, and looks very fetching. She’s busting out all kinds of colors this episode. Skinner says he’s confused, as it appears that Scully is backing up Mulder’s claims. Skinner asks if this is true. Scully non-answers again, saying that she believes Mulder is fit for duty. She says that aside from that, all she can present to him are the facts that the shooting victim was injected with a toxin and that Pinkus, Vinyl Rite employees and Mulder’s nurse have all disappeared. Skinner points out all the missing folks are the people Mulder said were zombies. Scully sighs, not wanting to address the zombie thing head on. Scully only says there was an intruder in Mulder’s room. Skinner asks her to describe it. Her answer is that it was dark. Skinner says she must have seen something, then we cut away.
Scully heads to the elevator, where Mulder is waiting. He asks what Scully told Skinner. She says that she told him the truth. Mulder asks what that means. Apparently, we don’t get to flashback on the whole incident again completely from Scully’s perspective, a la Bad Blood. Too bad. Instead, Scully says she told the truth as best as she understood it. Mulder asks what that was exactly. She says “Folie a deux, a madness shared by two.” The doors close. Only on the X-Files would a shared hallucination of a giant bug be such a squee worthy momeny, but it totally is. Vince also made a shared hallucination from a giant mushroom romantic. The man’s got a gift.