Movie – I Want to Believe
Fight the Future! Now that was a title. Though it was not, I guess, officially a title, just a tagline. But it was cool. It was desperate and defiant. It made sense with the plot of the film, such as it was. And it was new. It made us feel as if a new step were being taken, as if we were going somewhere beyond where we’d been. Of course, most of the new stuff was obliterated once the show came back and Scully hadn’t seen a thing and was ready to put it all behind her. But it felt like great possibility.
I Want to Believe. Great, great tagline for a UFO poster. Fascination with the beyond, coupled with a conflicting hesitation. A yearning for the unreal to be real. A restraint implying that the first person in question has not actually crossed the border into Crazytown (crossing out the “want to” on Blaine Faulkner’s copy was a masterful way to shorthand his total cuckoopantsery). For a movie, though? Of the now-moldy taglines forever associated with X-Files, it’s one of the better ones, but the operative word here is “moldy.” I don’t mean to suggest that it’s easy to sit in a writers’ room and blithely come up with universally applicable catchphrases that will become indelible cultural touchstones. But this, in my opinion, wasn’t quite the choice. Too old, too vague. Ah well.
We have here the second X-Files movie. You might say it was pretty exciting when this thing came out in theaters. Right alongside Space Chimps. Which was, I understand, the second choice for a tagline. Wouldn’t that have been awkward!
We open on a moon. Oh great, this movie is already mooning us. Mark Snow’s whistle sounds in the dark. And, oh yes, it is dark. Give up your dreams of seeing what’s going on in this thing now, folks. If it wasn’t barely visible and comprehensible, it wouldn’t be Chris Carter. Which is what makes him a visionary! Or something.
It’s a dark and snowy night. We pan down from the moon to a barely cleared road with large snowbanks on each side. So we’re in Canada, or the Northeast, or possibly the Midwest or — SOMERSET, WEST VIRGINIA?? Really? All right. I’m going to believe you, movie. Because I want to. See what I did there? A car is approaching, headlights on.
In the car, music jangling, is — the waitress from Post-Modern Prometheus! You know, the one who spilled coffee in Mulder’s lap. Great, now my crotch is gonna be up all night.
Oh, a cut — now we’re on a bunch of booted feet, walking across ice, tapping it with sticks. And it’s daytime. Huh! Well, now we’re done with that, back to the PMP waitress. She pulls into a garage. Inside the house, a dog barks. Oh look, back on the ice that time, there were also dogs. Sniffing the ice. Dogs! Applicable to so many situations. Along with the dogs, we now see the top halves of the line of dudes tapping the ice, all wearing identical winter hats. “FBI” is visible on some of their jackets. Hey!!! The FBI! We know them. Now there’s a helicopter too. Just flying around helpfully.
And look — it’s Garth Algar!! He’s gotten older and fatter since his days cohosting Wayne’s World. Oh, actually it’s Billy Connelly. Who, wow, really looks like an old Garth Algar. He’s wandering around the ice too, looking kind of dazed. Where’s your classful of gifted high-school students now?
Back in the part where it’s nighttime and that’s not a place where you wanna burn a guy, the waitress turns off her car, flashing a medical bracelet of some sort. And then we’re back on the ice and it’s Amanda Peet and Xzibit! Both in FBI jackets. Agent Xzibit tells everyone to hold the line and to look left and look right. I remember that from the trailer. Let me tell you why I love Xzibit. (Aside to spellcheck: Yes, Xzibit. Get used to it.) After this movie he appeared as a celebrity guest on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which had a theme that year of celebrities showing up to help. (I believe our friend David Duchovny was one of them.) So they’ve got the design team, and then the celebrity, who shows up with much fanfare on a special celebrity bus as a big exciting reveal. Xzibit was the celebrity, and he was a good sport and all that and helped build the house. Except apparently he enjoyed it so much that he came back again. Only this time there was a different celebrity guest, like a country singer or something. Who shows up with the same fanfare, is squeed over by the carefully demographically matched family, etc. But Xzibit was ALSO there. Just hanging around with the regular cast. The family was like, “…Hello! Aren’t you Xzibit?” Hee! I don’t know about you, but I find that delightful. He just felt like helping, I guess. And then he came back a few more times. (In fact, the Internet tells me that last year he actually became a cast member. What!) So ever since that, I love Xzibit. If only that had occurred before I saw this movie. Oh well.
Back some other time, Somehow Medically Compromised Even Above And Beyond The Fact That She Is About To Be Kidnapped PMP Waitress tells her dog to calm down. Only then she sees a footprint, right in her tire track, in the snow. As if someone had stepped there, like, right now. Uh-oh.
Then Billy Connelly starts running. Then PMP Waitress grabs a sharp gardening tool from the wall. A bald guy jumps her, and she starts hitting him with the rake thing, scratching up his palm really good. Gross blood is everywhere. Leoben from Battlestar Galactica pops in too. Why not! Then Billy Connelly is running again. This is like Memento! Very high-concept. PMPW bolts; Leoben knocks her down. Billy Connelly digs in the snow, yelling “It’s here!” Amanda Peet pushes him aside and finishes the digging. Something’s there! In a trash bag. It’s…AN ARM! With scratches on it that closely resemble the ones we just saw Pimp Dubs give to her bald attacker in the other scene. OH SNAP! I see how it is, Carter. You’re going Christopher Nolan on us. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN!
Here is a videoconferencing screen with — hooray!! It’s one of my favorite bit players ever, Nurse Howard Graves Is Very Dead, featured in two of my previously recapped episodes, Shadows and One Breath. Once she was a non-guff-taking medical examiner, and then another time she was Scully’s nurse, the one who was NOT an angelic figment of Scully’s comatose imagination (spoiler). I am so happy to see her I can’t tell you. She passed away a couple of years ago, at the sadly young age of 51. Her real name is Lorena Gale, and she was on Battlestar Galactica too, as Elosha, the priestess who counsels Roslin through her illness. I had forgotten she shows up in this movie. I’m glad they found a spot for her.
Well, it’s 8:25 am here at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital, and a group of medical folks are gathered around a conference table, watching Lorena Gale on the screen. Wow, you know what’s a great name for a hospital? Anything with “sorrows” in it. Why not Your Loved Ones Will Soon Be Dead Health Clinic? Remember, In The End, The Grave Takes Us All, So Why Bother To Try To Cure Anyone Anyway Medical Center? Man. I would rather hang at Spotnitz Sanitarium than this place. Also, it is the darkest hospital in the world, which should surprise no one.
Lorena is saying that she’s gone over the charts and consulted with another pediatric neurologist. So, guess what? Someone’s been promoted to DOCTOR Howard Graves Is Very Dead, thank you very MUCH. She says she’s alarmed by two things. Someone in the room prompts her, “The deficiency in lipid metabolism and the severely diminished enzyme output.” Who is this nerdlinger? Well, I’ll give you a hint. Who else do we know around here who is a MEDICAL DOCTOR? That’s RIGHT. We pan around to see a very good friend of ours. Call my doctor! Call Dr. Scully!
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Scully. She’s changed, a little. For one thing, she’s got long hair now. It’s almost as if she left some job where she had to cut her hair all the time, spent six years growing it out, and then politely but firmly refused to cut it for this movie. I can’t really blame…Scully. For that. Another thing that’s different is she’s wearing a white lab coat. Well! She wasn’t bullshitting us with that medical-doctor stuff for all those years. Also in the room? Jesus, in the form of a crucifix hanging on the wall. Hey there, Jesus.
There’s a bunch of medical talk about Scully’s unnamed patient. Scully fears a degenerative brain disease like Sandhoff disease, which BTW is a real thing, a severe form of Tay-Sachs. Guess how I just found that out? Google. Just keep that in mind. Dr. HG Is VD says there’s no cure for that. Scully says she knows that; she’s looking for a course of treatment. Dr. HG has no answer for her. Meanwhile, a priest has stepped in, and he and Scully exchange concerned glances.
Now Scully’s walking through the hospital, passing some nuns and coming across a preadolescent boy in a wheelchair. She steels herself, then smiles and greets him, asking how he is. “OK, Dr. Scully, how are you?” says the boy, Christian, speaking with some difficulty. “Me? Well, I’m doing just fine, thank you,” Scully says, totally awkwardly. Christian smiles sort of tightly, probably wondering why his doctor is so socially inept and why he has to do all the work whenever they have a conversation despite the fact that he’s the one with the degenerative brain disease. Christian’s parents, behind him, ask if Scully has gotten any outside opinions. Scully dodges that they’re going to do more tests. The kind of tests where you type the name of a disease into a search box and then hit “I’m Feeling Lucky,” that is.
Someone calls her name, and she turns to see Xzibit, striding down the hallway, apparently not concerned with the fact that he’s interrupting a conversation in a hospital between a doctor and a kid in a wheelchair. Xzibit says he’s looking for Fox Mulder. WHAAAAAAAAT!
Scully Xzcuses herself and turns to Xzibit, who introduces himself as Special Agent Drummy (who thinks of these names?). He says the FBI needs to speak to Fox Mulder, and Scully calmly says that she doesn’t work with Fox Mulder any longer. “Nothing but playtime, now,” she adds, winking lasciviously. OK, not in front of Jesus. Xzibit says that if she COULD contact him, it might save the life of an FBI agent. Or a waitress from a creepy black-and-white rapist-filled town based on a comic book. Scully looks hesitant.
A different car, driving down a much less snowy road, in the day this time. It’s Scully, who it seems has finally found a car in which her little feet can reach the pedals. That car is, of course, a Ford. She pulls up to a wide metal gate, which she has to get out and open, then continues up a dirt road to a house. An unremarkable one. Some might call it a shack, perhaps the kind of Canadian shack in which one might, if one were lucky, find lurve.
(MAN, do you guys remember when these spoilers came out? MY GOD that was exciting. I remember actually twitching with excitement the first time I watched this scene and laid my own two eyes on the Canadian Shack of Lurve. Which turned out to be a Virginia? Shack of Some Lurve, But Mostly More MSR Fakeouts, but that’s all right.)
Scully goes inside, entering a somewhat cluttered room, the contents of which I haven’t spent precious moments of my life poring over and trying to memorize, or anything. The blinds are closed and a curtain covers the door. There are potato chips in a bowl on the coffee table and…orange juice?…on a dining table. Like every lamp in the room is on, so I guess we can rule out an “off the grid” situation, unless they have a generator out back the size of an invisible elephant. Scully undoes her coat and opens a door, the inside of which is completely covered with newspaper clippings. “What’s up, doc?” says a familiar monotone. OMG OMG IT’S MULDER. MULDER AND SCULLY. IN A MOVIE TOGETHER. EEEEEEE.
“You’ve become awfully trusting, Mulder, for a man wanted by the FBI,” Scully says. We see Mulder from the back as he sits at a desk. He says he has eyes in the back of his head, and then, as he cuts out yet another newspaper clipping, launches into a Muldery monologue about German precognitive transitory something something. Scully folds her arms and eyerolls a bit.
Turning to face her, Mulder finishes with, “But who believes that crap anymore?” And, perhaps appropriately for a movie starring an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition cast member, we get the first REVEAL!! of the movie: Mulder has A BEARD! Is it any wonder they went to such lengths to keep that secret? A beard! Imagine. Months later, an innocent E! reporter will ask David Duchovny how long it took him to grow such an impressive beard. “Forty-five minutes,” Gillian Anderson will back-sass, and hilarity will ensue. Yes, this beard is fake. Fake and bushy. Does it make Duchovny less hot? Well…yes and no. Yes because it’s a really dopey-looking beard. No because you know it’s pretend and you’re watching an X-Files movie and IT’S MULDER AND SCULLY and they could be wearing underpants on their heads and it would still be hot. That said, I’m not sorry that this pretend beard does not last the whole movie. Spoiler alert, because if this beard warrants the kind of elaborate reveal it just got, it surely warrants a spoiler alert. Remember when they tried to convince us that Mulder was a werewolf in this movie? And they took a well-known publicity shot of David from like Season 3 and Photoshopped some werewolf stuff onto it and “leaked” it, and then Frank Spotnitz was genuinely surprised that no one believed it, despite the fact that, if Mulder HAD been a werewolf in the movie, there would have been no need to PHOTOSHOP werewolf effects onto an old photo, because presumably there would have been NEW footage of PRESENT-DAY Mulder with werewolf MAKEUP on? Oh, Spotnitz. Remember how someone asked Gillian about it at WonderCon and she just panicked and called for David to come over and deal with it? Remember WonderCon? That was where we found out that Gillian likes Bad Blood, which is the only episode she remembers. Because Gillian is the single Gillianiest person who has ever lived. THIS MOVIE WAS SO MUCH FUN, YOU GUYS. It was almost more fun before it actually came out.
Where were we? Our best pal in all the world, Mulder, is making wisecracks in a beardy fashion and looking like he’s about a month away from being dragged onto an episode of Hoarders. Scully, somehow keeping a straight face despite the beard, tells Mulder that the FBI needs his help, and that all is forgiven and they’ll drop all the charges. So I guess of all the plot developments that never really amounted to anything, the one where Mulder was tried for the murder of a super soldier or whatever, then was sentenced to death, then escaped from jail and nuzzled Scully tenderly in a motel in Roswell, New Mexico, has actually stuck, for six years.
Mulder shoots back that THEY should be asking for HIS forgiveness. Scully tells him a psychic, or so he claims, has come forward with some evidence. Mulder, who I guess has descended further into paranoid crackpottery — and who can blame him really — since last we saw him, says it’s a trick to smoke him out. Scully says that if the FBI had wanted to get him before now they could have. Good point, since all they would have had to do was go to Scully’s house (I mean…spoiler alert. Whose house IS IT? I hope we find out soon) and he’d be right there, eating potato chips and playing Bejeweled in his sweatpants. I know it has a gate and all, but unless Scully’s casting protective enchantments on it every day before leaving for work, yeah. And it’s not like he lives deep in the catacombs like the Phantom of the Opera. I think FBI goons are capable of opening the door to the next room.
Scully says she thinks the FBI is glad to have Mulder out of their hair, and Mulder snips that he’s glad to have THEM out of HIS. I see he deals with his anger and resentment by one-upping everything the FBI says. “A young agent’s life is at stake,” Scully says, in what makes my list of top five worst lines of dialogue in this movie, and believe me, that is a feat. Who talks like that? Scully’s not 80. We’re going to get “a young boy” before long too, which is another of my peeve phrases. Urg. Read it out loud, Carter.
Mulder looks like he’s wavering. Well, A YOUNG AGENT’S LIFE IS AT STAKE! It’s one thing if it were like, a 55-year-old agent, but a 35-ish one is something else again. Scully reminds him that it could have been one of them once. For they were, indeed, once young agents themselves. Now they are old cranky hermits. I love them. Scully continues that she worries about Mulder, and the effects of long-term isolation. I feel like this line makes less sense once we get the REVEAL!! that Mulder and Scully live together, but that’s OK. And does Mulder really never leave the house? Again, Scully has a normal job out in the world and presumably has this address on all kinds of HR paperwork, and if the FBI were really desperately looking for Mulder, one assumes, they would just…come here, and see if he was here. Plus, he could totally go anywhere with that beard and no one would ever recognize him. Or he could just wear his werewolf outfit.
Mulder chuckles that he’s happy as a clam, and grabs a handful of sunflower seeds, for old times’ sake. Scully makes skeptical eyebrows and looks up at the ceiling, which is full of pencils. Aww. I am fond of that little recurring bit. Does Stephen King get credit for inventing that? Was Chinga when it started? Or whatever the non-Spanish-swear name is. Scully does a bunch of face-emoting and then says she’ll give them his answer. She shuts the door of Mulder’s hoarder room behind her. Couldn’t she have called him? Does the hospital know she just took off in the middle of the day? Or couldn’t she have asked him when she got home that night? At this point when they were writing the movie, did they even KNOW that she lived there? You never know with these dudes.
Mulder chews his seed pensively and looks at a picture of Samantha in the middle of his crowded bulletin board. Then he says “Shit,” because it’s a movie and you can say that, and opens the door, startling Scully, who’s putting on her gloves. He’ll go. She looks relieved. Under one condition. She changes to apprehensive. Doesn’t really matter how clunky the lines are in this, because Gillian doesn’t need ‘em.
That condition is: A sweet helicopter ride!! Or so we assume. Hipster Beard lets his lady love (spoiler) climb in and then follows. A black helicopter, right in their front yard. I didn’t know the FBI actually operated a fleet of black helicopters. Don’t they have normal helicopters that say FBI on them? I guess if the authorities are watching, if it was an FBI helicopter they would go, “Son of a bitch! Dana Scully, who lives here, is clearly hiding fugitive former FBI agent Fox Mulder, who was her partner and possibly babydaddy! After them!” But since it’s a black helicopter, the authorities watching are like, “Unexplained phenomena! Nothing we can do.”
It’s 9:24 pm. The mystery helicopter has flown them to Washington. The Capitol is below, no doubt full of congresspeople who are working into the night thinking up more obnoxious ways to filibuster each other so nothing ever fucking gets done no matter what. The helicopter lands on a roof. Werewolf Bar Mitzvah and Dr. Awk-topus get out, and Special Agent Xzibit is there to greet them. “Thanks for the lift,” Mulder says. “Don’t thank me — I didn’t send it,” says Xzibit. Wha? Mulder and Scully exchange a look. I guess after Scully told Xzibit that Mulder would come, Terry O’Quinn, who was watching the whole thing through his network of cameras that, if you’ll remember, captures every single moment of Mulder’s and Scully’s lives ever, even when they were kids, did them a solid and called a black helicopter for them. Either that or Xzibit is just full of shit. Ooooooor this movie makes no sense. One of the above.
BTW: What are the odds on Chris Carter having hired Xzibit mostly because his name started with X? It just sounds like something he would do. Discuss.
Our little space chimps walk through the halls of the FBI, people eyeing them a bit as they pass, maybe because they’re recognized, maybe because of Mulder’s beard. I once read a fanfic in which Mulder and Scully were stranded in the woods in a blizzard and they had to basically live in a cave and survive for like six months. They killed deer and made clothes out of the skins and built shelters and all that stuff. It was pretty awesome. And then at the end they walked back through the FBI after they got rescued and they were super buff and tan from living in the wilderness and getting strong from wrestling wolves or whatever, and dressed in furs with long flowing hair and shit, and everyone stared at them in awe. This…is not quite like that. But Mulder’s beard brought it to mind. I don’t remember if he grew a beard in that story, but he could have. HEY, IT’S SAMANTHA! Yep, Vanessa Morley just walked by, now all grown up and with her hair in a bun. She and Mulder exchange a bit of a look as she passes. Now, that’s an in-joke I can get behind. Aw, Samantha. The reason for this whole ball of wax. Mulder clearly doesn’t recognize her because she’s not wearing a nightgown and calling him a buttmunch.
Oh, look whose portrait is randomly on a wall in the hallway as they wait for Xzibit: (Then-) Current President George W. Bush. The camera sloooooooowly pans around to the portrait, and I am not kidding you here, the five-note whistle from the X-Files theme plays. Just apropos of nothing. Are…are you shitting me? There’s really no one supervising CC anymore, is there? A picture of J. Edgar Hoover is there too. We have another slow pan to that. This is also apparently hilarious for some reason. I’m grateful we didn’t get some kind of mincy “lol gay people” music there, or a slide whistle or something. Because J. Edgar Hoover used to occasionally cross-dress! I don’t know if you’d heard.
Luckily this embarrassing-for-all-of-us moment ends when Xzibit opens a door and tells them to come in. It’s a conference room with a lot of agents sitting around a table. Amanda Peet is there, and — IT’S LUCY BUTLER FROM MILLENNIUM. Who I guess originally had a bigger part and some lines in this movie, but it was cut, so the net effect is, she stands around not saying anything and freaking me out. I love Lucy Butler. She is one of my favorite scary TV characters, for real. She’s so sweet and so clearly the devil.
Amanda Peet shakes Scully’s hand and says she’s SAC Whitney. She greets Mulder and says she knows it’s awkward, but welcome back, and she appreciates his trust. Mulder’s like, don’t worry, I know from awkward, I live with this little bundle of social effortlessness over here. He asks what will happen if he can’t help. Whitney says that the past is the past, and no one liked that super soldier that Mulder killed anyway. That’s not generally how being convicted of a federal crime works, but, OK. She says Mulder may be the best chance now for Monica Bannan, which I guess is the name of the PMP waitress. Mulder takes the file on her, looks at her picture and screams “SHE POURED COFFEE ON MY BALLS!! In Season 5. If that really happened, which it may or may not have; it was all very postmodern — get it?”
Whitney says Monica has been missing for three days. I swear, these writers, between them, know like three names. If they’re not going off the deep end with Mosely Drummy or Father Ybarra, it’s Monica, Melissa, or Bill. You know, you can buy a baby name book at pretty much any supermarket. Close your eyes, open a page at random, and use that name. Unless it’s Monica. Or Melissa. Or Bill. Gawd. We’re not talking minor characters here; Annabeth Gish was in the damn opening credits.
Scully points out that after 72 hours the likelihood of finding someone alive drops considerably. Whitney says, maybe, Smarty Old Person Pants, but they found a severed arm. So there! She shows them some gross 8 x 10s of it. Scully doesn’t get it — it’s a man’s arm. Well, that’s one less severed arm in the world that could belong to Monica, so that’s good! Fancy profiler Mulder intuits that the arm matches evidence found at the crime scene. “Blood or tissue?” he asks spookily. Whitney says blood, and confirms Mulder’s assumption that they were led to it by someone claiming psychic powers: Joseph Fitzpatrick Crissman. “And you think he’s full of shit,” Mulder concludes. I have to say I enjoy Movie Swearing Mulder. I like hearing Mulder and Scully swear. Don’t know why. It’s just fucking cool.
Xzibit starts to say something about “Father Joe,” and Scully breaks in: “He was a priest?” Catholic, Xzibit confirms, and Mulder gives Scully a smug look, like what the hell is that about anyway? Because Scully’s now all super Catholic and shit, I guess, being she works at Our Lady of Modern Religious Dress And Adequate Electric Lighting Are For Sinners Hospital now instead of being out smoking and getting tats like in her younger days. Does that make her responsible for every Catholic dude on earth? Or is it like “See, Catholics can be paranormal too! HA ha, your worlds are colliding uncomfortably!” Xzibit says that Father Joe called out of the blue saying he had a vision of Monica. He seems legit, so, well, case closed then, Mulder says. Why doubt him? Well, because he didn’t lead them to Monica, he led them to some dude’s arm. (I can think of SO many reasons other than that, but Whitney is being put on the spot, I guess.) Mulder tut-tuts that it’s not an Xzact science: “If it were me, I’d be on the guy 24/7; I’d be in bed with him kissing his holy ass.”
Everyone looks at each other uncomfortably, including Lucy Butler, who is still lurking creepily in the corner. Hey, maybe she ordered the helicopter. OR MAYBE NO ONE CAN SEE HER BUT ME. Whitney admits that Father Joe is a convicted pedophile. “Maybe I’d stay out of bed with him,” Mulder amends. Mulder…I know you’re generally irresistible, but in this case I wouldn’t worry.
Richmond, Virginia, 1:01 am. The ground is totally covered with snow here too. Mulder, Scully, Xzibit, and Amanda Peet get out of two SUVs at an apartment compleXz. What a fun double date this is. Also, they couldn’t just take one SUV? It’s not like they have a pair of Smart Cars. Though that would be entertaining. A-Peet explains that they’re at a dorm for convicted sex offenders, who live here voluntarily and police themselves. Scully looks unhappy with this whole thing. “Just avoid the activities room,” Mulder snarks, and Scully actually turns around as they’re walking specifically to glare at him. He grins happily at her. Hee.
I hope they called before coming over. Luckily, everyone’s awake here at the Box of Monsters (New York’s hottest club, if I’m not mistaken). Some guy is cooking bacon on the stove. Pedophiles keep odd hours, I guess. And enjoy bacon. They’re not so different from you and me. The bacon-cooking roommate opens the door to our dour little committee and calls for Joe.
Father Joe, aka Billy Connelly, is in his bedroom watching The Jeffersons, the theme song of which is playing on the TV. He shuts it off, rosary in hand, and apologizes for the mess, saying he hasn’t been sleeping. Well, you know, if you can’t sleep that’s an excellent time to clean up your room instead of lying around praying and watching The Jeffersons. Xzibit introduces Mulder, saying he’d like to ask some questions. “Actually, I’d like to ask some questions,” Scully interrupts, deadly quiet. Oh boy, here we go. She asks what Father Joe was praying for just now. “For the salvation of my immortal soul,” FJ answers. In other words, that he would move on up, to that deluxe apartment in the sky. Tell me this movie doesn’t have layers!
“And do you think God hears your prayers?” Scully continues. My, what a long setup to a not-very-good zinger all five of these characters are participating in. “Do you think he hears yours?” FJ counters. “I didn’t bugger 37 altar boys,” Scully shoots back, because she has gotten faintly, mysteriously British in the intervening six years. See, that’s just…I don’t know. This is the movie’s cutesy way of saying “Scully heartily and spunkily disapproves of Father Joe’s crimes,” but it’s so…movie-ish. And it takes sooooo long to get there, and it just brings everything to a screeching halt. “Colorful way of putting it,” Mulder mutters to Scully, pleased, and she says she has another word she could use, and he says he’s sure he does, and it’s cute and all because when they start muttering to each other it’s adorable, like in Alone that time, with the being frozen and the hugging, but it doesn’t FIT in this scene, not that anything really fits in this scene, because this entire movie, bless its heart, is awkward and unfinished-feeling. Chris Carter, I do love you, but I wish you hadn’t had free rein on this thing. Sigh.
Anyhoo. FJ says he believes God hears him, because why else would he send the visions? Nice segue, fella. “Maybe it’s not God doing the sending,” Scully says darkly. Maybe it’s a liver-eating mutant, or a guy who pushes people with his mind, or some aliens. Just a few thoughts to throw out there. Don’t follow Henry to the devil, Scully. Now that was an episode. I would even taken Morgan and Wong to write the next movie (should there be one, which nowadays is looking even more unlikely than the unlikely it was looking a couple of years ago, sniffle). Yes, I would. As long as I could supervise them. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
Mulder decides to put the kibosh on Scully’s preaching and asks FJ what he sees. FJ lights up a cigarette, to more disapproving glares from Scully (he’s a pedophile AND a smoker!?). He sees Monica being assaulted, putting up a fight, and he hears dogs barking. Again, in case you’re confused, that’s FBI agent Monica Bannan, not FBI agent Monica Reyes. He doesn’t know where, and he can’t see whether she’s alive, but he feels that she is. Scully looks down, biting her lip in visible irritation. I have to say that despite my annoyance with this scene, you can FEEL the steam rising off of Gillian. Mulder, glancing at her, asks if Father Joe can show them how he does it. He starts sort of closing his eyes and looking vision-y, then says it might be better if Scully wasn’t here. We can’t take you anywhere, Scully. She hisses at him that the “visions” are a way to try to make people forget what he really is. Then she stomps off. Everyone looks grumpily after her.
She’s hanging out on the fire escape/balcony reading the file when Father Joe’s creepy roommate passes her, going down the steps, eyeing her as he does. Seriously, this place is hopping at one in the morning. Where’s he going, to get bagels? Scully looks apprehensively after him, then jumps when someone touches her shoulder. My god, it’s a werewolf! Oh, no, it’s just Mulder and his beard. “JESUS, Mulder,” she says, which isn’t quite a swear, but I’ll take it.
“So much for kissing his holy ass,” Mulder says, leaning down at her. Scully apologizes for her totally contrived outburst, saying she’s been out of the biz too long. Mulder rationalizes that it was actually good that Scully pushed Father Joe — “like old times.” She gives him a look, then says Father Joe is a creep. She thinks he knows who did it and is just letting the FBI feed him information. She shows Mulder the picture of the arm and says that it looks like a fucking mannequin it was cut cleanly, not ripped off in a fight. So I guess that rules out Beowulf as a suspect. Scully dourly predicts that in the next few hours they’re going to find two things: a dead agent and that Father Joe is a big fat fraud. Mulder pulls out the old “you could be right…but what if you’re wrong?” He’s totally been waiting six years to use that again. It’s his eternal trump card.
The door opens, and Father Joe comes out, coat on, followed by Whitney and Xzibit. Mulder says they’re taking FJ for a ride, to see just how psychic he really is. Scully kind of stares at him, then says “It’s been fun!” and marches off. “Nobody’s going to make you sit next to him,” Mulder calls after her. Scully says she’s already been taken for a ride. And FJ doesn’t want her there anyway. Because she’s meeeeeaan. What did HE ever do, besides molest a bunch of children?
Mulder runs down the steps after her, saying he wants her there. “This isn’t my life anymore, Mulder. I’m done chasing monsters in the dark,” she says, tossing the file back at him. Good trailer line. Scully’s hair is pretty magnificent in this scene, BTW. She reminds Mulder that he doesn’t have to stay either. “These people need my help,” Mulder says, in such a weird voice that I legitimately can’t tell if Duchovny is trying to be funny there or not. “I could really use yours,” he adds in a more normal voice. Scully looks pained, then reaches forward and takes the file back from him. So she’s going to help! Or maybe not. But regardless, she will hold the file. I’m glad we settled that.
Somerset, West Virginia, 5:02 am. Is West Virginia where Mulder and Scully live? I mean, Mulder and spoiler? I can’t remember if that’s ever established. I’ll keep a close eye on the legends. If so, it’s really handy that this whole crime happened in Mulder and Scully’s back yard, and also makes the whole black-helicopter-to-Washington thing seem like kind of a waste of resources. Mulder, Father Joe, and Amanda Peet (not Scully, who is off somewhere else either helping or not helping) are in one of the SUVs, with the other one driving behind. I guess Xzibit’s by himself in that one. Perhaps that particular ride is pimped to a degree that other FBI people don’t like being seen in it. Father Joe asks if they’re almost there. Why doesn’t HE tell THEM, Mulder suggests. FJ mildly says that he has no idea where they are. He can’t believe he’s missing the 5 am rerun of The Jeffersons. He’s only willing because A YOUNG AGENT’S LIFE IS AT STAKE. Mulder says that’s fine, and FJ asks if he’s the good cop. “I’m the non-cop,” Mulder replies. Clearly he’s a little rusty on the ol’ Mulderisms. Hold the hell on — Xzibit is DRIVING. Then who’s in the other SUV? This one isn’t pimped in the slightest!
Father J muses that he doesn’t know Monica and has no idea why he’d be receiving the visions. Mulder says there’s always something. FJ asks who made him such an expert. “It began in an ordinary house in West Tisbury, Massachusetts,” Mulder says. “A young boy and girl are playing Stratego…Well, actually it began earlier, in the ’40s or something. Or, maybe, in the time of the Negro Leagues. Or during the Civil War, if you’re taking that crap as canon…Actually, there were these cavemen…How much time do you have?” Nine seasons and zero show bibles later, he’s explained that he used to be in charge of this kind of shit for the FBI back when they had a department for that for some reason. “So you believe in these sort of things?” FJ asks. Mulder: “Let’s just say I want to believe.” Title…! ah, who cares.
Xzibit, clearly sulking because of the low level of pimpery of this ride, snips that Mulder’s sister was abducted by E.T. Mulder says it was a long time ago. He doesn’t go into the whole starlight thing, because Father Joe would probably just dive out of the car and walk back home to watch The Jeffersons. “She’s dead, isn’t she?” FJ says. Mulder doesn’t answer. Dude, this is another example of how once you finally put a long-dead and much-beaten horse to its final resting place, it’s not necessary to keep digging it up and flogging its moldy corpse. See also: relationship, ambiguity of.
Monica’s badge has a picture of an eagle with the number 8 on top of it. What the heck is that? Are you sure she’s in the FBI and not a Knight of Columbus or something?
FJ leans forward all of a sudden and announces that this is where she was taken. A-Peet and Xzibit Xzchange looks. Mulder sticks his head into frame and says he wants Father Joe to see the crime scene.
Both SUVs pull over. Everyone gets out of the first one. Seriously, what is up with that second SUV? I am kinda obsessed with it now. Father Joe squints at the house they’ve stopped at, then says they’ve brought him to the wrong place. Man, if I were a fake psychic I would say that to the first thing they took me to EVERY time. They always give you a test first. Amateur hour. “Pulled that right out of his ass,” Mulder says beardily. Good lord, I am ready for them to shave that thing off already. Or pull it off gently with warm water; whichever. It’s like watching him eat a mouthful of hay every time he talks.
Father Joe marches across the street to a different house. This one has crime-scene tape around it. OH COME ON NOW.
While FJ sniffs around, Whitney skeptically (watch, it, pal…that role is taken) says that Father Joe must have seen the house on the news. DUDES, YOU ARE LITERALLY GOING UNDER CRIME-SCENE TAPE AS YOU’RE TALKING. “But why?” Mulder says. He always asks the hard questions. Whitney says, because FJ has written a bunch of letters to the Pope trying to get forgiven for the altar-boy buggering, so this is just part of it. What with the Catholic church being so gullible and believing in miracles and crap like that. (Sorry! Whitney said it, not me.) She says he’s still a suspect, and her agents are looking for a connection. But she must not believe he’s guilty, Mulder says, or he, Mulder, wouldn’t be here. Whitney says she’s not the most popular girl at the FBI right now for calling Mulder in. “I wasn’t exactly Miss Popularity at the FBI myself,” Mulder says. That’s because you didn’t have a beard then, darling.
Whitney exposits that Mulder has dealt with psychics before, and then gives us a bunch of shout-outs: Luther Lee Boggs, Clyde Bruckman, Gerald Schnauz. All kickass episodes. All episodes where Scully did most of the bonding with the psychic, interestingly enough. Or, probably not that interesting. Mulder says he’s only half the team. Or less than half in those cases, dude. Just saying. I guess you did figure out that whole thing with the gravestones in Unruhe. I didn’t see anyone bequeathing a Pomeranian to you, though. “But it’s your insights I need,” Whitney says. Well, who’s going to keep him honest? Make him a whole person? Etc. We have a system here, lady. Don’t fuck with it, if you don’t mind.
Father Joe suddenly falls down or something, so Mulder and Amanda Peet stop their backgroundy convo and run over. “She ran away…she tried to escape…there were two men,” Father Joe gasps. This better be a vision about the kidnapping and not a Jeffersons plot. He says Monica was pushed down right in this very spot. And then she whipped out a scalpel and surgically removed the kidnapper’s arm, I presume. Father Joe says they put her in a car, no, a truck! With something on it — “WE HAVE TO FIND HER,” Whitney interrupts. Dude, he’s about to give you a giant clue right now! Shut up! FJ says she’s in great pain. “TELL ME WHERE,” Whitney hollers. “I can’t see,” Father J wails, and sort of collapses. Everyone looks at him. “Because he’s pulling it out of his ass,” Xzibit says succXzinctly. I hope that was a callback to Mulder’s identical line of a couple minutes ago and not just an oversight. Agent X stomps away, probably planning to build a few extravagant houses for poor people to make himself feel better. What a jerk.
Oh no, there’s blood on the snow, next to Father Joe’s fallen glasses. The alarm music ramps up. Father Joe looks up, and blood is running from his eyes. OH MY GOD, HE REALLY IS PSYCHIC. Wait. Huh? Also: Blood packs! Check his sleeves, guys. Do I have to do everything around here?
Our Lady of Search Engine Optimization Hospital. The children’s ward is painted a “cheerful” blue. Try a warm color next time, maybe. To counteract the 20-watt bulbs you have everywhere. Christian’s in a bed with sheets covered in clouds. Give this child some sunshine, for pete’s sake! This is the worst hospital ever. Dr. Scully pops by, telling him he looks bright-eyed. Well, compared to all the depressing blue stuff everywhere, yes. Christian says he was thinking about how he can get out of here. Clearly, that kid is a survivor. Scully says she’s been thinking the same thing. Christian asks if he can leave soon, and Scully asks if something has scared him. “The way the man is looking at me,” Christian says, indicating the priest we saw earlier. Scully looks. “Don’t be afraid,” she says solemnly to Christian, and leaves. SCULLY. Just a little tip for you. If you don’t want kids to be afraid, don’t ORDER THEM NOT TO BE AFRAID. How about “Oh, that’s just Father Ybarra! He’s very nice; he’s just concerned about you, and all the kids here, because he wants you all to get well.” Or why don’t you invite him over and introduce him? Lord. Instead, Scully drops this cryptic instruction and marches off.
Father Ybarra (I don’t remember if we’re ever told in the movie that that’s his name, but, that’s his name and I’m too lazy to not call him that) is looking at some records, which Scully says she was just looking for. She says Christian’s records are her business as his primary physician. Father Y says that INDEED it is very much his business to make sure the doctors are doing the right thing for the patients and for this gloomy terrible hospital. “We’re here to heal the sick. Not prolong the ordeal of the dying,” he lectures. You’re right, no religious person has ever tried to keep someone alive artificially after it would have been natural for them to die.
Somebody drops some metal tins or something on the floor, as one often does in a hospital where you can’t see anything because it’s so fucking dark, and when Father Y Is This Hospital So Fucking Dark turns to look Scully takes the opportunity to stalk off. She goes into her office, opens the test results, and starts crying (at least here in the extended version). Poor Scully. She just wants to help people, be they beardy wackjobs or innocent children. Hey, there’s some other chick in Scully’s office. I guess they share. She glances at Scully and very kindly gets the hell out. Scully digs in her bag, pulls out some Kleenex and blows her nose. I can’t imagine why they cut this scene.
A pool! In wintertime. What fun. We see the bottom half of a lady, underwater. Some guy is sitting at the edge of the pool, fully submerged, watching her. Uh-oh, it’s Leoben. YOU’RE BEING STALKED BY A CYLON! Oh no, he’s not a Cylon in this. Oh, but he’s one of the kidnappers! Leoben calmly appreciates the butt of the swimming lady, who takes off some kind of bracelet and puts it at the edge of the pool.
We’re at the MacLaren Natatorium, which is covered in snow and icicles. MY GOD, I HATE WINTER. I can scarcely imagine anything more unpleasant than going for a swim when it’s snowy and icy outside. The swimming girl, now fully dressed, exits and gets into her car. It turns out that it’s that girl from Rush! Who isn’t even Canadian. Or, if she is, she made a special trip down for that episode, which was in Season 7. I of course did not recognize her because she has brown hair in this, and had blonde hair before, and I tell people apart by their hair. As she gets ready to take off, a large pickup with a snowplow attachment revs to life beside her. You know, sometimes after a long day of snowplowing you just want to take a quick stop at the natatorium to watch people’s butts underwater. Nothing wrong with that.
Girl From Rush (The Episode, Not The Band) drives her Outback through the blizzard. She’s behind the plow truck, and seems to be trying to get around him. Canadians are such badasses about driving in blizzards. Er, I mean, Virginians. The snowplow is kind of a dick and keeps revving as she tries to pass him, but also, she is being kind of a dick herself, trying to pass in a snowstorm. Just chill out, lady. The snowplow sideswipes her, knocking her off the road and into a hay bale. Hey, you know what’s a great strategy for kidnapping somebody? Stalking them at a natatorium and then taking off AHEAD of them with the certainty that they will dickishly try to pass you and you can run them off the road as they do. Planning! Girl From Rush’s airbag deploys as she sits, dazed, in the car. The truck stops. As nice trucks who have just accidentally run someone off the road do.
The driver, who is of course Leoben, gets something that looks like a blanket out of his trunk and approaches the car. “I’m OK!” GFR says happily. She realizes she is soon to be not as OK when Leoben, smiling, punches out the driver’s-side window. Somewhere, dogs howl, because of foreshadowing &c., as Leoben drags her off in what is not a cozy blanket but a tarp.
It’s dark. Scully’s in bed, somewhere in her house that she probably doesn’t share with anyone with a hobo beard, staring off into the middle distance. Someone offscreen: “I can feel you thinking.” OH EM GEE. IT’S MULDER. MULDER AND SCULLY ARE IN BED TOGETHER. REVEAL! REVEAL!!
“I’m sorry,” Scully says, and yes, I find it adorable that she apologizes for being too loud with her thoughts without further comment. “I can’t sleep.”
Like a beardy Loch Ness Monster, Mulder rises up from out of frame, looming over Scully. He says he has a little something for that. “Just a little something?” Scully says archly. “Thank you,” Mulder replies in trademark Mulder deadpan. Yes, that’s right, after nine years and one and a half movies we have the first scene ever in which Mulder and Scully are unambiguously a couple, and we’re opening it with a joke about the size of Mulder’s dong.
Formalities aside, Mulder asks what the matter is. Scully says she has a patient, “a young boy” (sigh) with a rare brain disease. Mulder wants to know why she hasn’t told him about this before. Well, maybe you should ASK once in a while, buddy, instead of just blabbing about psychic Germans and cutting out newspaper articles like a crazy person when she comes home. SHE WORKS HARD ALL DAY. THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS HAVE A HOT DINNER READY. OR A FRESH BOWL OF POTATO CHIPS. Scully says it’s because she’d thought there was something she could do. I guess the Googling isn’t going too well so far. By the way, Scully’s got a book prominently next to her on the bed (may I suggest a bedside table, Scully? Less chance of being poked in the eye while you sleep that way) by Dori Carter, Chris’s wife. Every moment is a moment for pimping. “So I’m lying here cursing God for all his cruelties,” Scully concludes. Mulder asks if she thinks God’s losing any sleep. “Why bring a kid into the world just to make him suffer?” Scully asks, and says she feels very connected to Christian. Mulder hesitates and then asks how old he is. “You think it’s because of William,” Scully says. David puts on his game face and delivers another of the top five worst lines of this movie: “I think our son left us both with an emptiness that can’t be filled.” It’s clunky AND inelegantly expository. And a floor wax! And a dessert topping.
And then we get one of the sweetest lines, from Mulder: “Just go to sleep. Let me curse God for a while.” Scully gives a sad little grin and thanks him. Mulder — who’s been somewhat awkwardly perched halfway over her this entire time — gives her a kiss, on the lips, like it’s nothing. Scully kisses him back, then giggles “Scratchy beard” (I can only imagine) and squirms away. Mulder, deadpan as always, obligingly rubs his muskrat-enshrouded chin all over her while she makes faces, then drops a couple of smooches on her neck or something and conks back out next to her. Folks, this is what I want when I think about shippiness. Not Dearest Dana. Not “you are my touchstone.” Not reverent tonguing of the forehead. Growly, sleepy bed conversations, giggling, mumbled exhortations to go back to sleep, affectionate macking like they do it all the time, not like they’re standing on a cloud with a hundred violins playing. The joy of DD and GA’s chemistry is their comfort with each other. They’ve been doing old-married-couple since Season 2. You might say they have it down by now. I would watch a whole movie of this drowsy, sniffly (Gillian sounds like she has a cold) mumbling.
Quiet, with the camera still on Scully, and then she opens her eyes and says “Oh” and he says “Hm” and she says there was something weird on the toxicology report: a drug called acepromazine. “Why’s that weird,” Mulder slurs in a “we may be having a conversation, but I am actually asleep, just so you know” voice. “Acepromazine’s an animal tranquilizer,” Scully says.
Her eyes close, and there’s another pause, but then Mulder sits up and says now he can’t sleep. He gets out of bed. “Mulder?” Scully mumbles sleepily. This whole thing is so middle-of-the-night-y and lived-in and it’s like watching Itzhak Perlman play the violin. OK, that is hyperbole. It’s like watching a pizza guy make pizza. This is what these two DO. This is what they’ve perfected over the years and years of standing around in the rain being grumpy and forgetting their lines and wishing they had peed before the scene started and back-and-forth-ing about mystery stuff they immediately forgot the details of. They can do this in their sleep. They ARE doing it in their sleep, in this scene. Or at least in Mulder and Scully’s sleep. This scene is good. I love this scene. Yes I do.
Mulder’s in the bathroom in front of the mirror. He sees Bigfoot! FINALLY! Oh, it’s just him with the beard. He wonders aloud why a drug like that would be in a man’s severed arm. Scully has gotten out of bed and is standing behind him. I think she was wearing that bathrobe in bed, which is totally weird and I can’t understand why no one (even Gillian, if there were no other women on set, which is possible) shut that down. She says she has no idea. Mulder turns on the water and says that Father Joe heard barking dogs. “Mulder — what are you doing?” Scully says, totally pitch-perfect bewildered. Mulder asks if it’s a tranquilizer you might give a dog. I will point out here that Mulder is not wearing a shirt, and Mulder may be almost fifty, but Mulder is smoking hot in this. “He’s a phony, Mulder,” Scully says tightly. A phony baloney! The worst kind of phony. She says Father Joe is just making up random elements and Mulder’s trying to connect them. Mulder says that when he sees someone cry tears of blood at a crime scene, he has to go out on a limb a little. “Tears of blood?” Scully says. Guess he didn’t mention that before. Dude, Mulder and Scully are in a bathroom together and no one’s getting killed! Well, not in the bathroom at least. I like their beadboard. I am such a home-decorating nerd these days.
Mulder splashes more water on his face, stalling because he can’t actually start shaving the beard because then they’d be out nineteen dollars and this movie isn’t MADE OF MONEY, and Scully’s cell phone rings. It’s Agent Mosely “Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner” Drummy, who is calling on behalf of Whitney, who apparently is incapable of dialing a damn phone herself even though Xzibit is driving. (Fine, she’s on another call. Because she’s soooooo important. Look at me! I have two cell phones! I’m a fancypants!) “HAS THERE BEEN A BREAK?” says Scully, who has a tendency to yell hilariously for no particular reason in certain scenes. (Look, in the background: Mulder’s fishtank! Eeeee!) A Yeti, oh no it’s just Mulder with shaving cream all over his beard, lumbers out of the bathroom to stand next to her. JUST ALL HOT AND SHIRTLESS, STANDING NEXT TO SCULLY, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT IN THEIR BEDROOM IN THEIR HOUSE WHERE THEY LIVE TOGETHER. THAT’S ALL. Gosh, this scene is going on a long time. Why aren’t they moving? Oh, it’s on pause. I’ll just unpause it then. In a minute.
Whitney says they’re pursuing another lead. “SAME SOURCE?” Scully hollers. Whitney says it’s the same source but new news. Behind her, Father Joe leans forward, muttering “It’s here” and telling them to turn up ahead.
Three hours later. Wow, that beard was stubborn! Again, we really have no idea what is taking place where or where anybody is at any given time or how long it takes them to get anywhere, but that’s par for the course. If you want to imagine that Mulder and Scully went back to bed for a little after-beard delight, this timeline graciously provides you with the option of doing so. A car parks by a barn and Scully gets out, all purposeful and Scully-like, and walks up to Whitney, asking what’s going on. Whitney starts to answer her and then catches sight of someone behind Scully who for the first time in however many weeks (or in 45 minutes) does NOT look like Bigfoot. “What’d you do?” she says, staring at him, and Mulder is like “Huh?” and she half-reaches out and indicates a shaving cut on his face. HE CUT HIMSELF SHAVING, OBVIOUSLY. He used to have a beard AND NOW HE DOESN’T and it’s fairly clear where the cut came from, DETECTIVE. I appreciate how Scully just kind of looks back and forth during this exchange and doesn’t really seem concerned or territorial or anything other than slightly impatient, which is just the right way to play it, because if she’d been all jealous it would have been dumb. “You said there was news,” she prods. Unfortunately, it seems that Father J has led them to the same spot as before.
Mulder marches over to Father Joe, who’s standing around murmuring assurances that they’re going to find her. Xzibit is grousing that his guys are running on empty. “Sorry for bringing you out here,” Whitney says. Uh, they do have cell phones. You could have maybe called them back before they made the whole three-hour (two-hour? half-hour?) trek out here. Xzibit starts yelling at the guys to pack it in.
Mulder urges FJ to tell him what he sees. “I see a face…I see eyes staring out,” Father Joe says. You know what that reminds me of? Watching junket clips on YouTube, and fast-forwarding through this part to get back to David and Gillian talking. I think it is fair to say that the mystery plot of this movie was never the primary interest for me. FJ says it’s unclear, like looking through dirty glass. Meanwhile, Scully is standing slightly behind looking disgruntled. Mulder turns to her as FJ wanders off, asking what she thinks he means.
Scully tells Mulder to stop, that this isn’t her job anymore. Mulder says, oh right, she’s just his booking agent now. Scully says yes, she got him involved and it’s her fault. This scene, I gotta say…it pains me, since we have so few scenes of just the two of them, but the rhythm is ALL off. Gillian, in particular, is very weird in it. Weird as in not good. She sounds…acting-y. That doesn’t happen very often with her, but it’s happening here. Mostly when they would talk about how it took them a while to find their groove, I thought they were exaggerating, but in this scene, you can see it. Shit is awkward, and not their usual delightful awkward.
Mulder, stalking away, says getting involved was the right thing to do. Scully says it’s not about finding an FBI agent, it’s about friggin’ Samantha again. Mulder turns around and says Samantha’s dead, and Scully says it hasn’t stopped him from looking for her. Has Mulder been to therapy? Besides that weird hypnotist guy? Just wondering. Maybe Dr. Suddenly Super Catholic thinks therapists come from Satan or something. She says she’s been through this with him for too many years, and that he can’t save Samantha — not now and not ever. I wonder if this is the scene she was talking about where their mouths got too cold to say words. It does look like they are legit in the snow right now. I think I see Quatchi and Mukmuk peeking out from the woods, just in case anyone is going to start skiing. (Didn’t we hear at one point that David had a ski double for this? Was there going to be a ski chase scene? Gosh.)
They look all sadly at each other for a moment, and then Mulder yells out that he needs the men back. Whitney gives him a look like, are you for real right now, crazy? For some reason they wave the men back. Scully asks what he’s doing. “Trying to ignore you,” he says. A valid response, my friend.
Father Joe is walking through the trees. Mulder follows him, Scully follows Mulder, Whitney follows them, and a bunch of guys with flashlights follow them all. Father Joe drops to his knees and starts digging. Mulder says they need shovels.
Somewhere, a big ugly snowplow truck rams into a No Hunting sign. Somebody we can’t see, even though we clearly know who it is, gets out holding a small bundle. Some blood drips onto the fallen sign. IRONY. Meanwhile, a bunch of G-men are hacking at the ground while Father Joe, Mulder, and an extremely pretty Scully (seriously — just look at her lustrous hair in this) look on. Xzibit complains that the ground is solid ice. “No…” Mulder says. “It’s dirty glass.” He starts digging like the crazy person that he totally is.
Leoben is walking through snow, and he comes to the edge of a cliff and looks down. It’s our heroes and their assorted hangers-on, with the flashlights and the whole thing. Leoben does one of these. Plan B, Leoben.
Mulder has cleared away a bunch of snow, and backs up himself. Indeed, there is a seemingly perfect block of ice through which we can see a woman’s face. Even Xzibit is speechless. Mulder grimly tells Whitney that they will need resources. That seems to break the spell, and Whitney starts hollering about saws and backhoes as Mulder lopes off.
Scully stares after him, now looking troubled. We see that Father Joe is standing right behind her, and she whirls to face him. “Don’t give up,” he says, looking like this is significant instead of a totally generic thing to say to somebody. Scully’s like, do not talk to me, creepy guy, and takes off.
Snowplow. If you live in an especially snowy area like…Virginia…it is very handy to have a snowplow be the main vehicle that you do your kidnapping and murdering in. Leoben gets out to open a gate, just like Scully, except this gate is made of chain link and is about twelve feet high and he has to unlock it with a key. (Psst, Mulder and Scully. If you’re trying to keep the FBI out, THIS is more the kind of gate you should look into.) Someplace inside, dogs are yipping inside cages, and look, this isn’t a dog, it’s Girl From Rush. She screams for help. Some guy peers through the slats at her, and says something in a foreign language, then disappears. GFR is whimpering that she didn’t mean to hit the truck, so I guess she still thinks this is just a super extreme case of road rage. Her crate or whatever is being transported somehow, and through the slats she sees some kind of creepy operating table setup. I am talking EVEN CREEPIER than at Our Lady of Perpetual Dankness back in whatever state Scully lives in. So you know it’s bad. The crate stops moving. GFR can see Leoben, and some guy lying on an operating table looking all bald and bloody and generally not in good shape. Maybe they brought her in to be a candy striper! GFR yells again for help.
Our Lady of Letting Anyone Walk In Off The Street And Become A Pediatric Brain Surgeon Hospital. Father Y is presiding over a meeting, saying that it’s settled, they will relocate the patient someplace more suited to his condition. The door opens and Scully whooshes in, doubtlessly late after oversleeping due to copious amounts of beardless whoopie. Father Y smoothly tells her that he was informing the staff of the decision on Christian. “I’m sorry — what decision?” Scully says. To move him to hospice care, says Father Y. Scully stammers that that was a discussion, not a decision. Well, Father Y says, he and the rest of the staff have been underhandedly discussing it without her just now and no one objects. “I have an objection,” Scully retorts. Father Y Are You Such A Dillhole patronizes that it’s very sad and all. Scully snaps that he’s her patient, and Father Y interrupts that unless she’s come with a cure for Sandhoff disease, it’s time to let him go in peace.
Scully sits down meekly in the back as FY starts discussing other business, then suddenly pipes up that there is a treatment. She’s not giving up! “The matter is resolved,” FY says coldly. Scully says the disease can be treated with intrathecal stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy? Great, Scully. The Catholics are going to be all over that, I’m sure. Some lady says that Scully can’t be serious and tells her not to put the boy through hell. Scully asks if she’d do it if it were her son. Fiscal Year interjects that it’s not her son, or Scully’s son. Nope, her son is on a farm someplace, probably shoveling white buffalo manure; let’s not rub that in, shall we? Scully says it’s not a decision for the hospital administration to make, but for her to make, as Christian’s doctor, and if they have a problem they can take it up with a higher authority. Father Y snaps that he has taken it up with the HIGHEST authority, and says Scully should too. Oh boy. Scully kind of glares at him and leaves. Do you think he ends every argument by throwing down the “God told me it was OK” card?
Quantico! The best place in all of Virginia if you have a gigantic chunk of ice containing a body and you want to carefully saw it away. Dumb question here, guys. Can’t you just let it melt, and the body will fall out? It’s not like it’s a rock. The techs seem to be spraying teeny tiny blowtorches at it. Perhaps a hairdryer?
Mulder’s also hanging around, making a phone call, but the person’s not answering. He’s looking at a picture of Monica shaking hands with some dude, and prominently visible on her arm is the medical bracelet. You know, if I were meeting a fancy dignitary and knew I would be shaking his hand in a photo op, and if I had to wear a medical bracelet on my right wrist, I would wear long sleeves for the photo op. “Come on, answer,” Mulder mutters. Just text her, dude.
Scully is very busy at work being a doctor. Indeed, she is sitting at her desk, with Google open in her browser. Yes, folks, the scene that puts 172 seasons of ER to shame has arrived. Scully types “stem cell therapy” into the Google search box. Her cell phone vibrates, but she ignores it in favor of beginning to read through all eleven million (YES I CHECKED) results. At least she’s not using Bing. If Bing had managed to product-place itself into this movie I might have had to stand up in the theater, pull out my pistol, and shoot out the screen. It’s not happening, Microsoft. Try inventing your own shit.
Back at Q-co, Mulder gets Scully’s voice mail. He says the following: “Hey Scully, it’s me. I keep leaving you messages. Here’s what I want to tell you.” Apparently in all the previous messages that we were just courteously exposited about, he didn’t tell her what he WANTED to tell her. What he wanted to tell her is, the woman in the ice is not Monica, and so far they’ve pulled eleven different people’s limbs out of there, and there’s more to go. Each is cut cleanly, like the one they found before. It seems someone has been dumping body parts in there for months or even years. Maybe they should investigate the Leoben-is-a-Cylon angle after all. While this voiceover is happening, Scully is busily INTERNET FOREVER-ing, and printing out what I hope are articles from reputable medical journals and not Wikipedia pages or Onion stories, all about stem cell therapy. She’ll be sleeping with some different reading material dangerously close to her eyeballs tonight, all right. Mulder’s saying that there’s no pattern to the limbs, which suggests to him that they’re victims. Frankly, the fact that their body parts are in an ice puddle suggests to me just fine that they’re victims.
Mulder doesn’t just want to chat and fill in plot details though. The real reason he’s called Scully 87 times in the last hour is that they found acepromazine, the animal tranquilizer, in the body parts. He wants Scully’s thoughts on this. Maybe he should Ask Jeeves.
A-Peet walks over as Mulder’s hanging up. Mulder says he can’t reach Scully, but this is a break in the case, he can feel it. “You’re feeling it, Father Joe’s feeling it; all I can feel is my head spinning,” she says. Really? You found a fucking pile of body parts, dude. That’s some concrete stuff for you to investigate. I’m going to go ahead and put that into “worst lines” contention. Mulder tells her it’s a serial case, and A-Peet is going to solve a dozen murders. She says, woo murder-solving and all, but she’s no closer to finding her agent. Mulder says they’ll find her; he knows it.
Oh goody, it’s Father Joe, Stupendous Yappi-ing it up in the corner, telling everyone he sees the face of another woman, taken from a car. She’s in a box. Hmmm, that sounds familiar. With Mulder’s prodding he says he doesn’t know if Monica is there, but he thinks it’s the same men. Mulder asks if he sees it or if he’s saying what the FBI folks want to hear. FJ insists that it’s the same men, but he looks less sure of himself. Gazing into Mulder’s dreamy hazel eyes can be unsettling, I frequently imagine. Mulder throws his tongue around a little, just for insurance. I briefly acquire the vapors.
Mulder says he wants a car ready. To go where, Xzibit asks, pretty reasonably. Mulder says he doesn’t know yet. “I don’t believe this,” Xzibit says. Mulder Xzings back, “That’s been your problem from the start.”
Whitney says she can get Mulder a car. He also wants a list of missing persons in the area over the last few days.
It’s 2:08 pm in ol’ Somerset, WV, and it’s still very very snowy. Even Quatchi and Mukmuk are like, “This kind of weather makes me want to go sit in a rowboat in Hawaii.” A car is jammed up against a hay bale. Hay (see what I did there), that’s Girl From Rush’s car. Some staties are digging it out as Whitney, Xzibit, and Mulder pull up. The car belongs to Cheryl Cunningham, age 34, who didn’t show up to work last night and didn’t come home either. Xzibit runs down the facts: deployed airbag, keys in the ignition, no blood, hole in the driver’s side window. He thinks it would have been a “survivable crash” if she were wearing a seat belt, and says she must have gotten out, wandered off and fallen asleep. “Pretty hard left turn for such a long straight stretch of country road, don’t you think?” says Mulder, who knows everything. But they don’t have to take his word for it. Father Joe totters up and climbs into the crashed car’s driver’s seat. Everyone stares at him for about ten minutes, and then he gets back out and says sorry, he’s not getting anything. “What a surprise. WHAT a surprise,” Xzibit says douchily.
Father Joe wanders back off camera. Thanks! Whitney asides to Xzibit that they’re done with him. But wait! Mulder’s found a clue. It’s a medical bracelet, like the one we keep seeing on Monica, and presumably what Cheryl, née Girl From Rush, was wearing at the pool. Hmmmmm, even I am starting to see a pattern here. Whitney asks what he’s thinking. They pop the trunk and start going through the crap back there. No bottle of wiper fluid? Stop being so unrealistic, movie. Gym bag, frozen bathing suit. Whitney sniffs it, because if Mulder had done that it would have been gross. She smells chlorine, and Mulder asks where the nearest public pool is.
Back at the decrepit, snow-covered, horrible-looking MacLaren Natatorium. The SuperTeam of Mulder, Whitney and Xzibit (I just loved the 7.5 seasons we got of Mulder, Whitney and Xzibit investigating crimes, didn’t you? This movie makes me so nostalgic for the early Mulder, Whitney and Xzibit years) swoop in and ask the guy on the desk if he can help. “Would y’all like lockers?” the guy asks, so I guess we’re pretending to be in the South again. Whitney asks if he minds if they show him a photo. “Why would I mind?” the guy says mildly. I think this is supposed to be a comic-relief situation. He looks at the photo of Monica but demurs that young people today all look the same. Whitney asks to see the sign-in sheet. Finally, some damn investigating! If only Scully were here to help do it instead of sitting at her desk crying and Googling. Folksy Desk Guy says he threw yesterday’s sheet away. Mulder zooms around the corner toward the lockers. Folksy Desk Guy halfheartedly calls after him, tut-tutting that that’s the women’s side.
Our Lady of Hopefully Not Clicking On The Sponsored Links Hospital. Christian, in a hospital bed, is wheeled into an operating room. Scully is suited up like the surgeon that she apparently now is. She tells him that a whole bunch of people are going to take good care of him today. Christian gazes back at her. “What?” Scully says, self-esteem apparently fragile enough to be rattled by a terminal kid looking placidly at her for half a second. Luckily she doesn’t start feeling around in her teeth for spinach. “Now you look scared,” Christian says. Scully smiles feebly at him and turns away, doing that lovely beatific not-crying-but-clearly-trying-not-to-cry thing that Gillian is so good at. I have to say that the music in this scene — aptly enough, it’s called “The Surgery” — is my favorite in the film, and one of my favorite pieces of the entire series. You still got it, Mark Snow.
With Christian now asleep, I Wasn’t Kidding When I Said All Those Times I Was A Medical Doctor Scully starts a whirry electric drill-sounding thing. Somebody else goes to retrieve what looks like the world’s most gigantic needle (gah) and carries it carefully back to her. I guess that would be the stem cells. Scully takes it and slips it through some kind of stabilizing device and into Christian’s head. You know, I make fun, but it IS damn cool to watch Scully being a brain surgeon. And why can’t she be a brain surgeon? It’s the movies. I’m just going to enjoy it. Scully rules. As the needle goes in, Christian twitches in his sleep.
Later, Scully’s sitting in a locker/shower room, still in scrubs, writing busily in a notebook. The door opens and in walks Mulder, who I guess is just allowed to wander around the whole hospital despite having been a fugitive from the law until very recently. “And people say I went underground,” he quips. Scully says she’s sorry. This really has been a hell of a day for her — in the morning she thought of an idea for a radical surgery, in the afternoon she Googled the bejeezus out of it, and now she’s performed it. No wonder she looks tired. Mulder sits on the bench beside her as Scully says that she’s had to keep her focus here. “It’s the boy, isn’t it?” Mulder says. Cringey line alert! Scully’s like, yep. Mulder says he thought there was nothing to be done, and Scully says she’s taking a big chance on this risky procedure. “Last night you said that wasn’t an option,” says Mulder, and Scully confirms that it wasn’t, last night. So, yes — Scully has indeed conceived of, researched, and performed this crazy-ass surgery in one day. A day after she spent half the night digging up bodies in the ice, no less. Mulder asks what changed her mind, and she just sighs and gets up. He asks when she’ll know if it’s working, and she says not til after the whole series of procedures is finished. Mulder nods and looks fidgety. “But that’s not what you came to talk about,” Scully says, sounding weary. This scene, also? Really good. Clearly the groove had been found when this one was shot. Being inside on a soundstage instead of outside in a howling snowstorm probably helped too.
Mulder says there’s another woman missing, and now they have something to go on. He warms to the topic as he tells her that both the missing woman and Monica swam at the same pool, kept lockers there, wore medical ID bracelets (that’s sort of a coink — how common are medical ID bracelets?) and had the same rare blood type, AB negative. I guess Leoben only cares about blood type so the actual medical reason for the bracelet is not relevant? Mulder thinks they were stalked there. OK, so the pool/crime scene area is close enough to the FBI that the FBI agent could regularly swim there. So all this stuff has to be fairly near DC. (Unless Monica was at a field office? Whitney and Xzibit seem to work out of DC though.) So we still have no clue where Mulder and Scully live, except one time they were a max of three hours’ driving distance from the field where Leoben likes to dump body parts. I’m interested to know where they live, certainly, but also, I seriously cannot stop thinking about the helicopter. It seems increasingly unnecessary. How did Scully get home after they visited Father Joe at the Box of Monsters? She just takes off. Cab ride?
But wait — there’s no Somerset, WV, but Google (see!!!) Maps seems to indicate that the closest part of West Virginia to DC is two hours away. So…really? That seems like a stretch. If Mulder and Scully lived three hours in the other direction, certainly helicoptering what would have been a five-hour drive would make sense, but…Monica has a two-hour daily commute, each way? Are Virginia/Maryland real-estate prices really that bad?
Eh, I don’t know why I’m worrying about this stuff. I just like how they flew them out all elaborate-like in a goddamn black helicopter and then were sort of like “you had your fun; we don’t have time to be carting your asses all over the place. The Lariat counter is that-a-way.”
Scully, who despite having, if I didn’t mention it before, CONCEIVED OF, RESEARCHED AND PERFORMED A RADICAL NEW TYPE OF BRAIN SURGERY IN THE LAST 12 HOURS OR SO is listening intently, manages to use her last two working neurons to deduce that the women are being targeted for organ harvesting, since the blood types have to match. Mulder muses about the black market. Scully says the person placing the orders would have access to recipients, hospitals… “That’s your world, Scully,” Mulder says. She can save them precious time. Scully says he can start with the transporters and he should call the Richmond DA. Mulder is like, but I want yooooooouuuuu to do it. Scully, seeming torn, says no. Mulder pushes that she was the one who asked him to get involved, and now he’s asking her to stay involved. Solid logic! Scully protests that he broke the case for the FBI folks already, so why can’t he just let them do it. She’s asking him to let it go. He says it’s not that simple. WELL THEN, maybe having your lifestyle of hoarding and wisecracking financed by your superhuman brain-surgeon girlfriend is not that simple either, pal. Scully says, almost under her breath, that it’s complicated. “What’s that supposed to mean?” Mulder asks. She says it’s something she’s been afraid would happen. He tells her to spit it out. She says she’s a doctor (we knooooowwwww) and this isn’t her life anymore. He’s like, yeah, so? “You’re not understanding me,” she says. She can’t look into the darkness with him anymore, because she can’t stand what it does to him, or to her. Gillian is so great in this scene, seriously. She looks so anguished and tired and gorgeous. Mulder, like the total dope that he sometimes is, is like, no worries, this grisly serial-killer stuff doesn’t affect me at all! In fact I find it fun and amusing. Scully is like, no shit, psycho. “Where else would you have me look if you want me to find these women alive?” says Mulder, still not getting it. Scully says she’s asking him to look at himself. He did that! And shaved his beard off. What more do you want? Mulder bewilders that he’s not the one who’s changed. “We’re not FBI anymore, Mulder,” Scully says. “We’re two people who come home at night, to a home now.” Man, the way she says that, it gets me every time. She doesn’t want that darkness in her home, and for a woman whose landlord once uttered the line “Do you know how many people have died in there?” in reference to her apartment, I can’t really blame her. (Isn’t Mulder coming home at night a fairly recent development though? More like one person who comes home at night, and one person who tells her about the squirrel he saw in the yard and how funny it was when he threw potato chips at it.)
Mulder says this is who he is, and who he’s always been, long before Scully and her plaid skirt came chirping into his office that time in either 1992 or 1993. It’s everything he knows. “Write it down,” Scully murmurs. “Put it in a book.” Now THERE is an idea. I wonder if she’s been pushing the book angle for years. I would have. Keep his manic ass busy. He asks if she’s telling him to give up. She says she can’t tell him to do that. But she CAN tell him that she won’t be coming home. What? Is this really a break-up-able offense? Isn’t this the first time he’s been out of the house in six years? Maybe she could give him more than two days to get his sea legs. I can understand her reluctance to be dragged back into the FBI world, but geez. Of course, this scene still works like crazy for me, because they are selling the shit out of it. Scully says she’s got her own battles to fight. Mulder says, don’t do this. You know, in fanfic sometimes he goes back to the FBI and gets a desk job. I don’t know why they can’t hammer out some compromise like that. Does she not want him to work or just not investigate dangerous stuff? “Don’t do this now,” he says, and Gillian, like the rent is due tonight, closes the deal: “I don’t know what else to do.”
Mulder stands for a minute, chewing on his tongue, looking agitated, and finally says “Well…good luck then.” It’s really hard to tell here if they are supposed to have just broken up or not. I just don’t see it. You could argue that she’s giving him the ultimatum that she’s going to sleep at the hospital until he stops this crap, but that doesn’t seem like much of a threat. It seems like more than that, but seriously, a decade and a half together and we’re expected to believe it could end with Mulder wishing her good luck and peaceing? No matter how shell-shocked, I don’t see it. So we’re left with a bit of confusion, but nevertheless a lot of pathos, as she murmurs “You too” as the door closes behind him.
Still Officially The Longest Work Day Ever: Scully, now dressed in street clothes, comes walking down a stairway at the hospital under an impressive stained-glass window. Christian’s parents are waiting for her. Oh boy. Christian’s mom tells Scully, haltingly, that they changed their minds about the treatments. Scully, nonplussed, says they don’t even know if it’s working yet. But they’ve decided he’s been through enough, and they want to put their faith in God now. If Scully was a mother, she’d understand. Dude, NEVER SAY THAT. Saying shit like that (in the movies at least) is a guarantee that the person you’re saying it to has some painful undisclosed past with motherhood. Also, it’s assy regardless. Scully takes that one almost without flinching and asks if they’ve spoken to Father Ybarra. They say they have, but it’s their decision. Scully blinks away her disappointment for a minute, and then asks “What if it did work? What if we found we’d made the wrong choice by stopping?” Yeah, I’m sure they didn’t think of that AT ALL, Scully. “You’re saying you can save my son?” Christian’s mom whispers. Scully says she doesn’t want to give up now.
Some Hospital Somewhere. Equally dark, because in X-Files Land, you don’t need to be able to see to perform an operation effectively. A surgeon is telling a lighthearted (seriously) story about how she and her partner almost died in a plane crash. Who’s lurking in the background with a container marked “human organ for transplant”? Leoben, of course. Someone passes him the organ and he heads out. While he’s waiting for the elevator, a couple of cops come up behind him and ask to speak with him. “I’M TRANSPORTING VITAL ORGAN,” Leoben barks in a thick Russian accent. Turns out, though? That’s exactly what they want to talk to him about. Leoben says he doesn’t have much time, but they pull him to the side anyway. They ask what the organ is (a liver), where he’s delivering it, etc. and ask for his papers. “I have green card,” Leoben insists. Then they ask if he’s ever delivered an organ outside of legal channels. They ask how his employer would answer, and Leoben tells them “He’s sick. He has cancer.” Huh. Leoben asks if he’s under suspicion.
Box of Monsters! Night. Or I’m just guessing. Seriously, Scully is never going to get to sleep. Because Father Joe gets up to answer a knock on his door, and there she is, lurking outside. “A vision if I ever had one,” FJ says. Dude, come on. Scully asks if she can speak with him. She doesn’t exactly look excited to be there. Father Joe invites her in and asks if she’s here by herself, which she is. They sit. Scully seems nervous. Just ask him out, Scully! Father Joe says they’re alone and she can speak in confidence. An interesting thing about this part is how, despite the circumstances, they both fall somewhat automatically into kind of a priest/confessor setup, something they would both be accustomed to.
Scully reminds FJ that he said something to her the other night. “Yes,” he says. “I said ‘don’t give up.’ Which is kind of my standard faintly enigmatic but vague thing to say to people, because they can always find something to apply it to, and then they think I have magical powers, and then they take me on fun road trips to the wilderness.’”
Scully wants to know why he said it. He says he hasn’t the faintest idea, which makes her stand up angrily. He asks, clearly enjoying having the upper hand, if she was hoping for another answer. “Do you know anything about me?” Scully demands. “Other than that you loathe me?” he says. You do have to hand it to Father Joe; he’s being politer than he has to. “Do you know what it is that I do?” Scully barks. Father Joe says no. He can see she’s a woman of faith (good job spotting the cross; it’s very subtle), “but not in the same things as your husband.” Scully, sounding defeated, says he’s not her husband. Maybe he meant Xzibit! You don’t know. “Also, good job on finally getting your husband to shave that creepy beard off,” he adds. OK, that does narrow it down. I guess being a child molester and all he’s not really in a position to cast stones about them living in sin.
He asks if Scully wants to offer a confession. “I don’t think you’re — ” Scully begins. FJ finishes — in a position to judge? And yet Scully has judged the shit out of him. He does have a point. Sort of, because, first, he IS a child molester, and second, if he doesn’t want people asking him what he means he doesn’t need to go around saying fortune-cookie aphorisms to them. Scully says he deserves to be judged. FJ tells her that they all live together in the Box of Monsters (only I am init-capping that, but that’s OK) because they hate each other, and themselves, for “our sickening appetites.” This is all fine and dandy, but what does it have to do with anything? FJ asks where she thinks these urges come from. “NOT FROM GOD,” she says. I wish we were watching Mulder and Scully walking through a dark building with flashlights right now. Father Joe says they’re not from him; he castrated himself when he was 26. Cool story, bro. Wouldn’t he have a higher voice if he’d castrated himself? Scully, go Google that for me, would you?
Scully, apparently agreeing with me that this is getting a little TMI, heads for the door. FJ yells after her that the visions weren’t his idea either. Proverbs 25:2! God’s glory to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings to search out a matter. Remember that, I guess. Scully gets all red-mist and tells him not to quote scripture at her. She HAS been out of the game a while. This kind of shit didn’t rattle her even in Season 1. FJ demands to know what she’s doing here. She yells back that she wants to know what “don’t give up” was for. I really don’t understand why, if she hates him so much and thinks he’s a big phony, she didn’t just ignore him. It really is not as if he said anything profound. Let’s listen to this dialogue, shall we? “What was that for?” “I don’t know.” “I don’t believe you.” “I’m telling the truth.” “They were your words. You said them to my face!” “All I ever wanted was to serve him. All I ever wanted was to serve God.” “You can ask for his pity, but don’t expect mine.” I think we’ve established that. Father Joe starts shaking. Scully snaps at him to stop the act, then grabs him, grudgingly deciding he’s not faking. The seizure, at least.
Back to GFR, now established as Cheryl, in her cage. A guy holds up some food for her, speaking Russian at her. He unlocks the cage, but just then, oh no! A medical Russian thing is happening. Can’t figure out more than that; sorry. The guy runs over to the bed, where the patient is shaking. An arm is raised; it’s a woman’s arm, with painted nails (woo, bonus!) and a medical ID bracelet on it (hey-o!) Cheryl realizes the cage is still unlocked, and crawls quietly away. She falls down some kind of chute, then crawls rapidly until she reaches the outdoors. But whoops, a dog is running towards her. She screams. And scene.
Ambulances at the Box of Monsters. Ambulances and Mulder, who jumps out of a car, his faithful partners Whitney and Xzibit not far behind. Scully’s on the phone saying that Father Joe is stable. Mulder runs up, asking what happened. She says FJ had a seizure. “Who called you?” Mulder asks. No one. “Then what are you doing here?” Scully gives him a sideways avoidy-type look. They need to talk to Father Joe, because they have a suspect: Whitney holds up a passport photo of Leoben, saying he’s a Russian emigré working as an organ transporter. We learn that he was questioned, but released due to lack of evidence, but a witness said he swam with the women at the pool. So I guess he’s from around here! Or, you know, two hours away.
As Whitney trots off, Scully asks what this has to do with Father Joe. Mulder says it’s the man in his visions. Scully says now Mulder is wasting the FBI’s time. I have a theory that maybe Gillian did that line wrong — she says “Mulder, now you’re wasting THEIR time,” but I suspect it was meant to go “Mulder, now YOU’RE wasting their time.” As in, Father Joe has been wasting the FBI’s time, and now Mulder is too. Because otherwise it comes out like Scully means Mulder’s been wasting someone else’s time, and since we have limited characters in this story, that makes it sound like she’s saying he’s been wasting HER time, which is low. And not very Scully. But maybe it was supposed to go that way, or else maybe David thought it was too, because Mulder looks pretty hurt, and then snaps out “Tell me again what you’re doing here.” Fair point. I like how when Mulder is mad he leans over and also down to get into her face cause she’s so far away, hee. Stony Scully doesn’t have to answer because Xzibit comes over with new information: a picture of Leoben’s employer, who they just learned is “an old friend of Father Joe’s.” And, incidentally, the freaky bald guy with the lady arm in the dog-filled hellhole where Cheryl is being held (a violin exclamation point helps underscore this revelation). The nature of this old friendship? Boss of Leoben is one of Father Joe’s 37 altar boys. “Three guesses who he’s married to in the state of Massachusetts,” Xzibit says, and holds up Leoben’s picture again. Watch it, Carter.
Whitney and Xzibit jump in their SUV, headed off to search Boss of Leoben’s offices. The ambulance pulls away too. Mulder is left standing with Dr. Frowny Face, who starts to scold him that “it’s over.” Mulder looks at her, then suddenly yells “HEY” after the SUV, which stops to let him in. Scully, left at the scene, lets out an anguished little sigh. At least he didn’t leave her stranded at his mother’s this time. Or with a murderous shapeshifting bounty hunter.
Two SUVs, because you need two! drive down the street, lights flashing. At least now there are a bunch of like SWAT guys that get out, rushing into an office building. Whitney gently tells Mulder to let the men do their jobs. She says they were all fooled, and she wanted to believe it too. Mulder says he doesn’t need the sweet talk; it was Father Joe who led them here. Inside, Xzibit bangs on the office door and yells that they have a warrant. Outside, Mulder and Whitney are having one of those Carter-y conversations that don’t say anything: “I called you in because I thought you could help me with this case because I valued your belief in these phenomena.” “Now what do you think?” “I think this is a longer conversation.” What is? Feh. Inside, Xzibit raps, “Down on the floor! Down on the floor! Anybody here I want down on the floor!”
Whoops, Leoben’s making a late stop at the office. Oh sure, your boss/husband gets cancer and you immediately start sneaking in a bunch of overtime. Classy, Leoben. He sees the open door and the agents inside, and quickly scoots by. As Whitney is trying to pep-talk Mulder about how helpful he was (let him sulk; it’s the best way), Leoben exits the building right near them. They all spot each other at the same time, and then Leoben bolts, dropping his organ-carrying case. I wonder if he just uses that as a briefcase when there’s no organ in it. It’s certainly roomy. They both take off after him. Either Mulder or Leoben nearly gets hit by a car several times. They run into some sort of construction site, which makes me briefly hopeful that Mulder will get immobilized by a dart and get all drooly, and Scully will show up and hilariously drag his large gangly body out of a pipe to save him. Sadly, this does not happen.
As with all X-Files chase scenes, it’s impossible to tell where they are or what anybody is doing, but I think Leoben goes up some sort of forbidden lift (some construction guys yell at him that he can’t go in there), and Mulder takes the stairs. Whitney shows up, asks which way they went, and follows. She shouts for Mulder, who says he’s up here, wherever that is. Again, memories. Mulder and Whitney, chasing down perps like the never days. There sure is a lot of rebar sticking up all around this dangerous construction site. I’m sure it’s all right though. More running. More rebar. Mulder climbs up some kind of something, maybe a mid-construction elevator shaft? then jumps down like Spider-Man. Whitney, who apparently couldn’t find her ass with a giant Xenon flashlight and the entire Arecibo telescope array, keeps yelling for Mulder and demanding to know where he is and he keeps yelling back. It’s like the world’s darkest game of Marco Polo. Finally she says “Fox!” (OH HELL NAW) and he pokes his head out, several yards above her. She asks if he’s got Leoben, and he says no, he lost him.
Intercut with all this has been Xzibit going through stuff in the office, in a laboratory-type place, and now finding Leoben’s discarded organ briefcase, which he’s slowly opened. Sorry to kill all the suspense; I didn’t feel like typing “back to Mulder/back to Whitney/back to Xzibit” a hundred times. Anyway, Xzibit lifts the cover and recoils: inside is a human head. Hey, I know this one! Eight pounds.
“I saw him,” Whitney says. Mulder asks where. Right there! Leoben is suddenly right in front of Whitney. He gives her a shove, and she topples backwards off of the platform she’s on, and falls — I guess down the mid-construction elevator shaft. Mulder, helpless, watches her fall. We see Whitney’s gun hit the ground first, right next to some springs (whoops: springs, rebar, same outcome) sticking straight up. Oh dear. Whitney falls right on top of them. And I think it’s pretty clear that that’s the end of Whitney. Sorry, Whitney.
Our Lady of Frequently Used Locations Hospital. Mulder is lurking sadly on the staircase when Scully comes up to him, and takes his hand. Mulder says they’re both dead — Monica and Whitney. (Was that head supposed to be Monica’s head? This is where my terrible facial recognition becomes an issue. Let’s assume it was.) Scully says she heard, and she’s sorry. “I thought we were winning,” he says hollowly. She says she knows. Mulder pulls his hand back and says he’s here to see Father Joe, to show him the pictures of the two men. (Let me play Location Detective some more: Father Joe lives close enough to Scully’s hospital to be plausibly taken there by ambulance, unless Scully pulled some really giant strings because she wanted him nearby, which seems unlikely.) “You still want to believe him,” Scully murmurs, and he nods. Title alert again! Except that Mulder wants to believe all the time, so, who cares alert. Scully tells Mulder that FJ has terminal lung cancer. Mulder looks at her carefully, and says “I just want to be sure.” Scully takes the photos from him and says she’ll ask him.
At his extremely dark bedside, FJ says he’s glad to see Mulder, that he had a vision Mulder might be interested in, of a man speaking a foreign language. Scully asks if he looked like this, and holds up the photo of Leoben. Why, as a matter of fact, yes. Scully says they think he’s their guy, and that he was helped by another man. She holds up the photo of Leoben’s boss/husband (husboss? Like “momager”) — the guy alleged to be one of FJ’s victims. Mulder and Scully sort of hold their breaths. FJ says he’s “fairly certain” he doesn’t know him. “I’m fairly certain that you do,” Scully says. “And that you’ve known him since he was a boy.” Dun-dun. FJ, apprehensive, takes another look. “Oh no,” he says, tears falling, “it can’t be true.” He says Husboss was his connection, the visions were to save Monica from him, and this is God’s work. Scully stomps off and kicks 500 trash cans on her way out, muttering swears under her breath. No she doesn’t, because she’s a fucking professional. To Mulder’s sideways glance, she asks if Monica is still alive. FJ says yes. Scully gives Mulder a look, a look that says “usually when you find someone’s head in an organ container they are not still alive.” He walks out, and Scully follows.
As Mulder strides down the corridor, somehow managing not to trip over something in the darkness, he says that the second victim might still be alive and everyone’s given up but he’s not going to. Scully calls after him that he thinks she doesn’t understand, but she does: “This stubbornness of yours…it’s why I fell in love with you.” Awww. And, I can understand that. And, awwwwww. “It’s like you said,” Mulder murmurs, leaning forward…to take the photos from her. “It’s why we can’t be together.” Sniffle! But also, what? I’m going to suggest a little couples counseling before you throw in the towel on your epic relationship. Hypnosis, if that’s all y’all are comfortable with. Scully sadly watches him go.
Leoben’s Doggie Daycare and Nightmarish Surgery Emporium. Husboss is lying on the table breathing shallowly as Leoben and the other guy argue in Russian. We pan slowly down Husboss’s arm and see it has red fingernails. Didn’t we have this reveal already?
Mulder, outstanding in his field. A snow-covered field. Quatchi and Mukmuk, peeking out from the woods, are like “What is this jackass doing now? And what is with the total lack of winter sports around here?” Crime-scene tape; I guess this is where they pulled out the frozen body-part casserole. Mulder looks upward, and sees the top of the ledge, which looks like a good place to stand if you were going to throw body parts into this particular pit. He drives Scully’s Ford around to where the ledge is, and sees the ironic blood on the “NO HUNTING” sign. I’m so glad we got to see that twice. He looks down at the pit.
Now Mulder’s driving into town. It’s seriously difficult for me to keep remembering that they’re NOT supposed to be in Canada. He stops at a gas station, which is also a place called Nutter’s Feed and Animal Supply (aw, Nutter. He can direct the third movie). Hey, he didn’t ask Scully if she needed anythang from the feed store! This is the saddest part of their breakup yet.
While the Focus is filling up (he may drag Scully into life-threatening wild goose chases and push them both to the brink of insanity, but at least he puts gas in the car!), he tries to get into the feed store, which the guy inside (presumably David Nutter, Television Director/Feed Store Proprietor) says is closed. He finally lets Mulder in, telling him that he’d better get where he’s going soon because a storm’s a-comin’. Mulder wants to know if Mr. Nutter here carries acepromazine. Nutter asks if he has a prescription, which he does not, as he has not felt the need to tranquilize any animals since that time Queequeg wouldn’t shut up in the back of the car. “Well, I can’t sell it to you,” Nutter says, as if Mulder is a total idiot. Mulder asks if Nutter has ever sold any to Leoben, whose picture he shows him. Just as Nutter is looking, the phone rings and he goes to answer it, mumbling about how he’s never going to get out of here. As Mulder’s waiting at the counter, he sees a familiar (though not to Mulder) snowplow pull up. When Nutter returns, he’s gone, and Leoben is in his place at the counter. He has no answer to Nutter’s question about “the other guy” who was just here, but damn if he doesn’t need his acepromazine prescription filled, NOW.
Dogs chase Leoben’s snowplow as he drives off. Also chasing Leoben’s snowplow: Mulder, a little ways behind, in the Focus. Is this shot backwards or is Mulder totally driving up against the left-hand side of the road? Gillian’s Britishness is contagious! Mulder’s phone contacts include Bowman, Gilligan, Scully and Shiban. Cute, though it does beg the question of, who are those people, and does Mulder in fact have contact with other people in the outside world? Under what circumstances? Anyway. I miss you, Bowman and Gilligan. I think I even miss you a little bit, Shiban.
Never inspect your phone contacts while driving! Just over a ridge, Mulder slams on the brakes when he sees the snowplow stopped in the middle of the road. Because there’s snow everywhere, he spins around and finally comes to a stop as the airbag deploys. Woo-hoo! But d’oh — he looks dazedly up to see the snowplow (which suddenly has its lights on! Whoops, unless we are to believe Leoben stopped in the middle of attacking Mulder to anally turn his lights on since it was starting to get dark) coming at the driver’s side of the Focus. The window shatters as Mulder covers his face. And here comes the snowplow again, shoving the Focus and Mulder over an embankment, where it flips over a bunch of times and comes to rest upside down. Ack!
Our Lady of Didn’t David Say There Were Actual Mental Patients On The Other Floors While They Were Filming, Or Did I Dream That Hospital. Hey, it’s Chris Carter, holding an urn that I understand contains the remains of one of his dogs. I’m sorry about that, Chris. Scully passes him as she goes into her office, which is mostly piles of manila folders. She sees a printout (from something called “Medical News Archive: Medical News and Health Information Data Base”), which seems to be about the stem-cell research she had been looking into. This is written at about a fourth-grade level, so let’s hope she had something a little more technical guiding her: “Stem cell research has been pioneered in numerous countries around the world. Initial reports from physicians in Russia, France and Germany were encouraging. Doctors there performed experiments on laboratory animals that showed it was possible to introduce new tissue through the interthecal injection of stem cells into the brain.” Hee and aw. You misspelled “intrathecal,” production interns. Anyway, the important parts, if we’re to judge by the closeup on individual lines, where the surrounding type has been greyed out a little so we know what to read (thanks guys!), are the phrases “laboratory animals, particularly dogs” and “fused at the neck.”
Scully’s printer is beeping, saying it has an error. A heaven-sent printer error! She presses a single button on the printer and it fixes itself, which CLEARLY would never happen in real life without some divine assistance. The next page prints, and it’s a photo — of the Russian guy we saw arguing with Leoben at Husboss’s bedside. And then a picture of a dog head on a tray. Lovely. Scully flips through the pictures. The next one is of a dog that clearly has two heads — one looks like maybe a German shepherd and the other a pit bull. I guess the impact would be lessened if it were a Chihuahua with the additional head of a Yorkie.
Pulling out her cell phone as she strides down the hall, Scully gets Mulder’s voicemail. “SHIT,” she hisses. YAY, SCULLY FINALLY GOT TO SWEAR IN THE MOVIE!! It’s about fucking time. I understand Gillian demurred at first and had to be gently coaxed into willingness to say a curse word on camera. LOL JUST KIDDING. Anyway, sorry. Things are very serious. She leaves Mulder a voicemail, saying she found information in her stem-cell research about experiments being done in Russia on dogs — she thinks that’s what’s happening to the women. She tells Mulder to call her, and says Monica is still alive. I guess “in a manner of speaking” is implied.
Unfortunately, Mulder REALLY cannot come to the phone right now, as he is digging himself out of his crashed car. He’s in one piece, but has blood all over his face. Now all he has to do is climb up a sheer cliff face, so that should be simple enough.
OH GOD IT’S LUCY BUTLER. Who answers her phone as “Special Agent in Charge Fossa.” “It’s for you,” she says, and hands the phone to her right, to Xzibit. Scully snaps that she’s been trying to find him for hours, that she can’t reach Mulder. “Is this Dr. Scully?” Xzibit says. “YES it’s Dr. Scully,” she says crankily. Xzibit asks where Mulder is; Scully said if she knew that she wouldn’t be calling, ASSFACE. Xzibit patronizingly says that she should call the police, that it’s not an FBI matter. “LISTEN TO ME,” Scully says, her phone yelling justified for once, “I NEED YOUR HELP.” Xzibit says he can’t help her. Scully (still marching through the halls of the hospital as she’s hollering into the phone, which is awesome) requests to be transferred to someone with some balls. Really. Go Scully!
Our Lady of Cutting Off Heads And Randomly Attaching Them To Whatever’s Handy Non-Hospital. Cheryl is pulled out of her cage, kicking and screaming, and given an injection that dopes her right up.
The snowplow, driving along a now dark and still very snowy road. It conks out, or runs into something, and stops.
Mulder, walking along the road. Up ahead, he sees the snowplow, sitting abandoned (one assumes, and I hope for his sake). He runs for it, and looks inside, where he finds a wrench or something, which he tucks in his pocket. Again, the snowplow lights are on in some shots but not in others, I think. Why would Leoben leave the lights on? He just felt like draining the battery?
Back at the creepy surgery place, Leoben is sitting by Husboss’s bedside and telling him in English that he’s going to be fine, as Crazy Dog Doctor From The Internet and some other people converse in Russian. Leoben says “I’ve taken good care of it. You don’t need this one anymore.” The blanket is pulled back on Husboss slightly — to reveal what looks like a big jagged scar all the way around his neck. The body underneath the covers looks extremely pale; stark white basically. Dr. Dog Head On A Tray preps a syringe and then injects it into Husboss’s chest (or whoever’s chest that is). Meanwhile, Cheryl is being placed in a tub of icy liquid.
Mulder has found the giant chain-link fence that we saw Leoben drive through earlier. It’s locked. He pulls on the chains a little. That never works, Mulder.
Dr. In Soviet Union, Dog Surgically Implants Superfluous Head On You is carefully snipping at the sutures around Husboss’s neck as Leoben tells him that he’s going to have a fine strong body again. In the ice bath, someone starts sponging iodine onto the unconscious Cheryl’s neck.
Mulder has climbed the fence. Go Mulder! To the police station. Is what I would suggest. But OK. Just as he’s on the other side, he hears dogs barking, and one runs up to him. Mulder squints at it. Even pausing the DVD, it’s very difficult to see what we’re supposed to see, which is that the dog has two heads. We see flashes of two sets of jaws biting Mulder, but I would have made it a little bit clearer, if I were the mayor of everything. Anyway, the upshot is, Mulder is getting mauled by dogs. That’s not good. I guess he’s never going to get the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Inside, the crew hears the barking. Leoben is dispatched to run outside and see what’s going on. None of this is going to stop Dr. Dogmento, who starts slicing at the sides of Cheryl’s neck.
Leoben finds the dog lying in the snow, bleeding and whining. Mulder singlehandedly beat-up a two-headed dog? Nice. We can see a little more clearly now that the dog has two heads. Leoben also sees a puddle of blood that doesn’t seem to be related to the dog, and footprints leading away from it.
They’re hauling the Focus out of the ditch. Scully runs up, telling a cop, “I’m Dana Scully, and that’s my car.” Shouldn’t she mention that she’s a medical doctor? The cop says she talked to “some bigwig down at the FBI.” Scully says yeah, that’s him — Walter Skinner. And whose bald head and glowing ears should appear? Hooray! Skinner has come to save us from this movie full of characters we don’t know! He surveys the situation as we hear Scully ask the cop if they’ve found any evidence or footprints. The cop hands Scully a bag with something in it, then excuses herself. As Skinner approaches, Scully, an edge of panic to her voice, tells him it’s Mulder’s cell phone, and there’s blood on it. Skinner tries to calm her down, telling her Mulder must be OK if he got out of the car and presumably climbed up. Remember how *cough* someone was briefly taken with the nutty idea/worry that Scully was married to Skinner in this film? I don’t know how…that person even came up with that. We thought we saw a wedding ring in one of the production pictures, and we went kind of crazy. You never know with CC. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.
Mulder is really in the doghouse right now. As in, he’s hiding in a doghouse as Leoben chases him. Other than that, though, he seems good.
Now Cheryl has a tube in each side of her neck. Fluid going in? Fluid coming out? Not sure. Either way, gross. What a fun acting job this must have been, BTW. We see buttons, dials, and now blood is flowing out of one tube and into the other? I’m not sure. But I’m not a mad scientist, so. Well, OK then! They have removed Husboss’s head. I can tell because they’re holding it. Just then, Mulder, always a master of timing, peeks in. I’m sure they won’t mind being interrupted right now. He starts yelling, feebly at first but gathering strength, for everyone to stop. His weapon? A wrench. I’m sure this will end well. The Russian doctor mostly looks annoyed. Mulder starts demanding whether anyone speaks English. This isn’t the goddamn Amazing Race, Mulder! He says he wants Cheryl out of here. I bet you do! But I suspect they’re not interested in taking your orders. Does he really think he’s being threatening with that wrench? He pulls back a blanket — hey, a boob! I think this is TXF’s first boob. The boob is on a headless corpse. Mulder makes a face befitting that fact. Mulder keeps hollering at the doctor, then turns to see Husboss’s head sitting comfortably in a bucket. The eyes open. Mulder, somewhat understandably, loses focus. Dr. Put Your Head On My Shoulder takes this moment to hypospray him. Or that’s what it sounds like at any rate. Mulder’s legs buckle. Leoben comes in at that moment, hauls Mulder to his feet, and punches him out. Smooth operation altogether there, Mulder.
Scully and Skinner, driving along. Scully looks terribly worried. Skinner is reassuring: “I know Mulder, he’ll get to a phone and call first. He wouldn’t do anything crazy.” Scully gives him the Scullyest look in the history of Scully looks. “Not overly crazy,” Skinner amends. Heh.
Leoben is dragging a headless corpse out of the way to make room for Mulder. Well, isn’t that polite of him! He lugs a semi-conscious Mulder into some sort of gross barn. Decorative features: Large stump. Axe. Another headless corpse.
As they drive, Scully suddenly asks Skinner to back up. She gets out, and walks along a row of mailboxes. She stops at one that reads “25 2.” Just like the section of Proverbs that Father Joe quoted to her. NOW THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS A FUCKING PSYCHIC CLUE! Jaysus.
They seem to have had a Rockefeller-esque headless-corpse budget for this movie. Leoben is heaving one out of the way. Mulder, very woozy, sees the arm, which is wearing a medical bracelet. He fist-pumps excitedly. Just kidding.
Scully is looking through the mailbox. That’s a federal offense, Scully!! Great, Mulder finally gets pardoned and now they’re going to put YOU in lockup. Mulder is going to be so mad. He really doesn’t want to become a pediatric brain surgeon. Scully finds a medical-supply invoice made out to a Dr. Uroff-Koltoff. The street: Bellflower Road. The town: Somerset, WV. I confess, BTW, I did not realize West Virginia was that close to Canada. Maybe the snow isn’t as ridiculous as I have been mercilessly making fun of it for being. Oopsie. Skinner offers to Google the address. Google, saving the day ONCE AGAIN! I wish he’d said he would Bing it for her. That would be so realistic. While he’s Googling, Scully realizes she hears dogs barking. She and Skinner run off.
Leoben is still cleaning up corpse remnants as Mulder lies, I imagine somewhat trepidatiously, on the ground. Mulder reaches for the axe handle, but before he can get a good grip in his drugged state, Leoben has yanked it away. He sharpens it for good measure. He smirks at Mulder. He swings back the axe, and — “HEY!” He whirls around just in time to see Scully hit him in the face with a board. WOO-HOO!! For whatever other troubles I have with this movie, I am forever psyched that Scully got to rescue Mulder this time. Although David probably finds it unrealistic and stupid. At least Cranky FTF-Era David Who Hated Everything. Scully drops to the ground and asks Mulder if he can hear her. “Sorry about your car,” he slurs. Scully doesn’t seem too mad about that. Mulder mumbles that the girl is still inside.
FINALLY, someone is bursting into Musical Heads Inc. with an ACTUAL GUN. It’s Skinner! He yells at Dr. Evilovsky, who still seems at worst mildly cranky about this situation, to put the scalpel down. Skinner takes in the head in the ice bucket, Cheryl with her neck bared, ready to be sliced, and yells “What have you done?” Scully rushes in, saying Mulder needs warm clothes and fluids. Skinner nods like, all righty, as soon as I finish with this whole thing where I’m in a tense standoff with these criminals. Scully sees Cheryl, and takes off her coat, murmuring that she’s got work to do here. I’m sure Skinner will lend you his iPhone for Googling purposes.
Skinner herds everyone into the dog cages as Scully starts scrubbing up (she is very thorough, our Scully), then goes back out to Mulder. Mulder is still exclaiming drunkenly about the girl inside, but Skinner tells him Scully’s on it. He puts his coat over Mulder. “Skinner?” Mulder mumbles, and says he’s cold. Skinner cuddles him into a warm embrace and starts singing “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog.” “Chorus,” Mulder demands.
Unremarkable House! Mulder, a little banged up but OK, is in his unremarkable room of hoarding, cutting out a newspaper headline: “FBI Arrests Modern-Day Frankenstein Doctor.” Which is a little more remarkable. There are two bowls of sunflower seeds on the desk, and also a basketball. And part of a human skull, I think. Scully walks in, coat on. “What’s up, Doc?” Mulder says, sounding a little uncharacteristically unexuberant.
Scully delivers the news that Father Joe is dead. Mulder pauses for a moment on hearing that. He shows Scully the newspaper story — The FBI is claiming Father Joe was an accomplice. Scully says they’ll never know. Mulder says HE knows and he can prove it. Both Father Joe and Husboss died of lung cancer. Mulder says that the moment Scully cut off the tubes to Cheryl’s neck and killed Husboss, that’s when Father Joe died. He says if he can see FJ’s death certificate, he’ll show her, and then show the FBI. He says it’s an injustice to FJ’s name. “Well, considering his crimes against those young boys” (STOP IT!), says Scully, who cares? Mulder says he thought she believed him too. Scully says she wanted to believe him. And she did believe him. And she acted on that belief. Then she stops and looks sad. “Why don’t you just tell me what he said to you?” says Mulder, sounding weary. I don’t know why I love that line, and his delivery of it, but I do. There’s a million years’ worth of intimacy in that line somehow.
Scully hesitates. Mulder turns away from her. Scully finally mans up and tells him that Father Joe cited a Bible verse that, hours later, turned out to be the number on the mailbox of where Mulder was being held, allowing her to rescue him in the nick of time. That IS pretty awesome. Oh, no, sorry — she says he told her “don’t give up.” SIIIIIIIIIGGGHHHHHHH. “And I didn’t. And it saved your life,” she says. It did? I thought “don’t give up” was about Christian’s surgery. Mulder looks spooked. Imagine if she told him about the REAL psychic clue! Scully continues, getting teary, that she “put that boy through hell,” and he has another surgery scheduled for today, but she’s kept going because she believed God was telling her to. OK, hang on, let me parse this. Maybe she means that because of “don’t give up” she continued Googling stuff about Christian’s surgery, and thus ran across the stuff about Dr. Headtransplantovich? And then…heard dogs barking and so knew that’s where Mulder was? That sort of makes sense. But it also makes a lot MORE sense that the whole MAILBOX NUMBER that Father Joe told her was the real clue.
Unless “don’t give up” means that if FJ hadn’t said that to Scully, once she saw Mulder’s car in the ditch she’d have been like “Eh” and moved to Tucson instead of looking for him. That’s it, probably.
“What if Father Joe’s prayers were answered after all?” Mulder says, totally unhelpfully. “What if he were forgiven…because he didn’t give up?” Maybe! But what does that have to do with anything? “Try proving that one, Mulder,” Scully says, huskily and nonsensically. Then she says she’s due at the hospital and walks out. If someone can explain this to me, I will give you a million dollars. OK, I won’t, but you will have my gratitude and my admiration for your smartness.
Mulder runs out after Scully, asking why Father Joe would say that to her. Just to be clear, we’re still talking about “don’t give up” here, not “specific numerical clue that doesn’t make sense right now but will deliver crucial information later at an important moment.” Scully says she thinks it was meant for Mulder. Wait, what? She just said it saved Mulder’s life! Mulder says FJ didn’t say it to him, he said it to Scully.
But it’s OK, Mulder’s going to explain it all for us. Here goes: “If Father Joe were the devil, why would he say the opposite of what the devil might say?” Oh, NOW I understand everything. Mulder says maybe that’s the answer…the larger answer. Oh, the LARGER answer. Scully asks what he means. Don’t give up, Mulder says.
So for a minute I thought maybe he was talking about the whole “aliens are coming to destroy the earth in 2012″ situation, but now Scully’s getting sniffly and asking him not to make this harder than it already is. Is she talking about the breakup that they either did or did not have? So does Mulder mean “don’t give up” on their relationship? He pulls her into a hug. He tells her that if she has any doubts (about…), to call off the surgery this morning. “And then we’ll get out of here.” She looks up at him, smiling a little. “Just me and you,” Mulder continues. “As far away from the darkness as we can get?” Scully says, weeping like the trouper that Gillian is. Mulder says he’s not sure it works that way — maybe the darkness finds them. “I know it does,” Scully says softly. Mulder: “But let it try.” Scully smiles. The music swells. Mulder leans in and plants one on Scully. Chris Carter tries to be nice to us and films it from about 70 angles, with plenty of light. I appreciate that, Chris. I do. David demonstrates on a big screen that he is not afraid to go Method with the tongue. They bonk foreheads in that sweet way they always do once Gillian is standing on the board so she can reach. She touches him on the chest and then gets into the car. So…they’re back together, I guess?
Sometimes I think it would have been fun to punk David and Gillian by giving them fragments of a fake script that literally did not mean anything or make sense or fit with anything else in any way, and maybe was not even full sentences, and possibly had some Esperanto in it or something, and give them a vague (fake) summary of what they were supposed to be feeling in the scene, and make them do the lines and imbue them with meaning and emotion and import and gravitas, and see if they could still do it. And I bet they could have. Because I think they pretty much did that all day every day. They can’t have had all the details of every story in their heads while filming (…certainly Gillian cannot have), so I tend to think that what they were saying had little or no relevance to them most of the time. But even when the words don’t make sense, DD and GA still make the scene work. That’s what’s happening in this scene. You’re like “Yeah!” and “Sniffle” and when you actually listen to the words it’s hard to make them add up. But it’s still nice. THEY believe it, or are awesome at faking that they believe it, so you kind of do too. ACTING!
One last scene here at Our Lady of Overzealously Blue Color Correction Hospital. Scully passes Father Ybarra and Christian’s parents in the hallway, everyone exchanges uncomfortable looks, and she goes into the operating room. Now Christian is lying on the table, and Scully emerges all surgeon’d up. She and Christian look at each other. Someone asks if she’s ready. She looks around at the assembled folks, including some nuns who are peeking through the window. That’s kind of rude, nuns. “Yes,” Scully says. She smiles down at Christian. The X-Files theme whistle plays for a third and final time, tying us back to the beginning of the movie, and also to the time they looked at a picture of George W. Bush.
And that’s it! The movie ends. No, really. In memory of Randy Stone, who some would say had as much to do with the success of TXF — considering he cast DD and GA — as Chris Carter did.
Now we have, I must say, a truly groovy credits sequence. Oh, this is the alternate sequence — as the names go by, we see snapshots from production. Now, I love me some snapshots from production. I do think it’s proper that they took this out of the theatrical release, because it’s a little self-indulgent. Every movie has lots of people working on it behind the scenes; it’s not just your movie. However, as a fan, I like having it available on the DVD. It looks like a bunch of family photos, or yearbook photos. Zillions of people worked on this movie, and they look like nice folks. If the pictures are to be believed, a lot of dogs helped out too. I don’t mean to crap on your movie, guys. I know you all put a whole lot of yourselves into it. And I know a lot of you were from the series, and I thank you for that too. I’m sorry this thing maybe fell a little short of what everyone had wished, but I wish you all the best. And Coreen Mayrs and Heike Brandstatter, after having had your names memorized since 1995 or thereabouts, I’m pleased to finally see a picture of you.
But now the pictures are fading away, and we’re away from the arty shots of melting ice and are helicoptering (as we have been for a while) over blue ocean. We cross a lush island (was that a polar bear?), then more ocean, and then — it’s a rowboat, out in the distance. We get closer. Of course, it’s Mulder and Scully, together in their tiny boat, miles adrift but inches apart. She’s wearing a bikini; he’s got on red trunks (no Speedo, sadly). He’s doing all the rowing, which is very sporting of him. Is this my tropical vacation, Mulder? You shouldn’t have. As we linger above them, she looks up at the camera and waves, and then so does he. And with that, we are out.
Remember all the speculation about the last scene? We were thoroughly convinced that there was going to be a wedding, with karaoke. How did we even come up with that? Hee.
As I write this, we still have no idea whether we’re getting a third movie. This one had flaws, certainly, and was at times infuriating, and at times made no sense. There are a lot of things I would change about it, if I ran the world. But if nothing else, it brought us Mulder and Scully again, six years after our time with them had ended, and for that I’ll ALWAYS be grateful. I’m not gonna lie, I cried in the theater when this movie ended, because it was over, not just the movie itself but the whole experience of the movie, the excitement, the speculating, the squeeing, even the worrying and the ranting and raving. It was fun doing it with you guys. I continue to hope that we’ll get to do it one more time. You might even say that I want to believe.