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The X-Files Newbie Recap: “D.P.O.,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” & “The List”

"Thank heaven for happenstance."

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Ah, the sweet smell of a (mostly) emotionally non-devastating week. Greetings and felicitations, friends. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” may be one of the finest episodes of anything ever but it has the misfortune to be bookmarked by two decidedly pedestrian ones. Not very fitting, writers. This week’s wall of text ahead.

D.P.O.
It’s Giovanni Ribisi! And his friend Jack Black!

Cherubs

They’re such babies. Look at them. It’s like when you accidentally discover youthful Jack Black in Neverending Story 3, or a wild Sam Rockwell in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Yeah Sam, sorry buddy, but you’re busted. You will forever be “head thug” to me.)

So, Giovanni can electrocute people. He got hit by lightning at some stage and in the grand tradition of disaffected American youth decided to use it to start frying everyone who pisses him off. While this isn’t really the most admirable course of action, it’s worth pointing out that basically everyone in his life is horrible and keeps telling him he’ll never amount to anything. Even Jack Black—here going by the name Zero—tells him he’s a nobody, and he’s meant to be his best friend. The reason for all this electrocuting turns out to be a misguided desire to impress one of his teachers, whom he hopes to steal away with. It’s a bit awful but I do feel weirdly sorry for him.

Our heroes look into a series of strange deaths in an Oklahoma town, all written off as lightning strikes. Five people have apparently been hit by lightning in the last couple of weeks but only one of them has lived—Darin Oswald (Giovanni). The rest had their hearts cooked inside their chests and the medical examiner is at a loss to explain it other than by lightning. Scully isn’t convinced, mainly because she can’t find a point of contact on the bodies, and also because something like 60 people a year get struck by lightning in the entire country so this particular town is proving unusually popular.

The sheriff, who’s a dick even by dickish local law enforcement standards, mansplains that it HAS to be lightning cos WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE and they have a lightning OBSERVATORY so OBVS they know what they’re talking about. Caps are necessary cos he’s a complete knob. Scully frowns but acknowledges that there’s no other explanation as yet, so she and Mulder decide to continue their investigation by inspecting the most recent murder scene—which happens to be the last victim’s car.

Said victim, a dude called Hammond, was fried by Darin outside an arcade after he pinched a game from him mid-session. I’ve just finished reading Ready Player One and this is an incredibly rude thing to do, in fairness. They question Zero, who works at the arcade, but he’s unhelpful in the extreme and only points out the game that Hammond was playing before he left. Zero was of course present at the scene and witnessed everything, but acts spaced enough to put them off the scent.

Mulder has a quick look at the game and notices that all the high scores match Darin’s initials. This is enough to redirect them to the garage where he works, where he’s just gotten through an awkwardly unsettling encounter with the object of his affections, Mrs. Kiveat. In addition to being his teacher, she happens to be married to his boss. Unfortunate. Mulder and Scully take Darin aside for questioning but he acts equally spaced and doesn’t say much, though midway through the conversation Mulder’s phone mysteriously catches on fire in his pocket. He takes it out and drops it to the ground where it starts to melt. Derp.

Later that night, Darin gets into a huff after an altercation with his mum. She is one of the many people telling him he’s useless so when Zero arrives, Darin decides to go out back and fry some cows.

I am Bruce Almighty. My will be done

The next morning, Mulder and Scully rock up to the scene and find a patch of soil which has been transformed into glass because of the intense heat and pressure from the lightning. They’re able to pull a partial boot print off it, which helpfully includes the size of the shoe. They visit Darin’s house and have a quick chat with his mum, who lets them look through his room. Scully’s able to confirm that the boot size matches Darin’s, but it isn’t enough to place him at the scene. Mulder digs through some, er, adult magazines (and notes that he has the issue in question) (this is framed as a joke but I absolutely believe he’s a subscriber to some of that stuff) and finds a picture of Mrs. Kiveat. It seems to be torn from a book, so they dig Darin’s yearbook out of the wardrobe and figure out she’s a teacher of his.

In the meantime, Darin’s getting bolder. He sits at a traffic junction and uses his powers to fiddle with the lights, eventually causing an accident. Mr Kiveat—his boss—arrives to tow one of the damaged cars and is struck down by what appears to be a heart attack. There are paramedics on the scene and they rush over to help him, but the defibrillator is MYSTERIOUSLY not working. Darin, who’s standing to one side, walks over and touches Mr Kiveat momentarily, zapping him back to life.

The paramedics practically shit themselves. One of them mentions Darin’s involvement in the medical report, which Scully construes at the hospital. The ECG shows a sudden massive electrical charge restarting his heart. Mulder asks Scully to take a look over Darin’s files from when he was admitted after being hit by lightning. It shows a strange imbalance in his electrolyte levels, and Mulder wonders if this is allowing him to somehow conduct electricity.

They go back to Darin’s house to try and talk to him, but he’s edgy and evasive and won’t say anything. Because they can’t get anything out of him, they decide to go and talk to Mrs Kiveat. She reveals that she knew Darin had a crush on her, but she felt sorry for him and wanted to help him so she got him the job at the garage. Everything was fine until a few months earlier, when she started getting weird phone calls where the caller would hang up as soon as she answered. By this stage Darin’s behaviour round her was making her feel uncomfortable so she put two and two together, but didn’t do anything as she feared he might do something to her or her husband. Darin told her before that he had powers and she believes that he caused her husband’s accident. Mulder and Scully promise to protect her in exchange for her testimony.

Unfortunately, in the meanwhile, Darin’s loose. They had brought him into custody but the sheriff let him go as he didn’t think they had any reason to hold him. Mulder calls Mrs Kiveat and the three of them meet at the hospital. They tell the staff to lock the place down, but shortly after their arrival the power goes out. Mulder and Scully approach the lift, which is slowly pinging its way to their floor, and train their guns on it in unison. I wish I had .gif skills to record this moment.

Synchronised aim

Synchronised aim. Babies.

Alas, it’s only poor dead Zero. Darin killed him earlier in the evening, believing he’d dobbed him in to the cops. Scully stays with Mrs Kiveat while Mulder goes looking for Darin, but Darin finds them first. Scully warns him to back off but he refuses, so Mrs Kiveat steps in and promises to go with him if it’ll defuse the situation. Outside, just as they’re walking away, the sheriff rolls up. Mrs Kiveat takes the opportunity to bolt and Mulder manages to grab her and pull her into a hiding spot in the trees.

Darin wanders around looking for her as the sheriff approaches him. Mulder runs out to help, but before he can do anything Darin electrocutes the sheriff. In the process, he also manages to knock himself out so they’re able to arrest him and bring him to a psychiatric facility. Unfortunately however, there isn’t enough evidence of wrongdoing to keep him in. The DA isn’t quite sure how to go about prosecuting a case where the accused used conducted lightning to off his victims. The episode ends on an ambiguous note and I have to say the fact they didn’t use Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” somewhere therein is a sorely missed opportunity.

This was quite blah. Undemanding and frivolous after the intensity of the last few episodes, but very dull. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” is so much more important.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose
This episode was *glorious*. I cannot find words enough to praise it, especially coming in the middle of two such utterly forgettable ones. The same dude who wrote “Humbug” wrote this, right? If writing is digging through mud to find gold, Humbug must have been the grainy soil he cleared out of his head to write this piece of wonder. It’s full of lovely little asides and character notes and such a plethora of magnificent quotes that I feel like it almost deserves an entire recap of its own. As it is, I feel like I’ve transcribed the entire thing.

The basic gist is that a serial killer is going around targeting “prognosticators”, as Scully calls them, or fortune tellers. The killer takes the bodies but leaves bits of their insides and their eyes, which is foul. The detectives on the initial beat have a wonderful discussion about someone coming in to help who’s “a bit unorthodox” and “very spooky” but turn out to be referring to some psychic called Mr Yappi and not Mulder, who arrives with Scully to confused rumblings of “who the hell are you?” It’s magic.

All fine here situation normal

Yappi is a flamboyant character and rambles about the crime scene “sensing” things off objects and the victim’s remains. He declares that the killer is a white male, aged 17-31, who may or may not have facial hair and who may or may not have a tattoo which may itself have facial hair. He pauses midway through this performance and announces that someone’s blocking his powers with negative energy, but although the camera immediately flips to Scully it’s actually Mulder who’s bogging him down, and Yappi has him kicked outside. When Yappi leaves a little while later, he looks at Mulder in the hallway and announces he hates skeptics. Mulder is less than amused and asks him to read his current thought, prompting Yappi to gasp in dismay and retort “so’s your old man!” It’s all magic. Wondrous, madcap magic.

The cops, hilariously, think Yappi’s vague insinuations about the killer being a possibly bearded impotent white man between 17 and 31 is a solid lead and head off to get to work. That totally narrows the field down, lads. I can’t think of any other case where a serial killer has turned out to be a young white male with ink and/or a beard and/or sexual performance issues, but you do you, friends.

Elsewhere, an old man whom we saw in the opening scene failing to predict his lottery numbers goes about his business. He attempts to sell insurance to a young married couple, pushing it a little when he sadly reflects that the husband will die in two years in a nasty car accident. He then offers to bring his elderly neighbour’s rubbish down to the bin, glaring unappreciatively at her little yapping dog (whom he has a vision of, gnawing on the old lady’s face when she dies).

Down at the bin, he discovers a hand hanging out under the lid, and calls it in. The excellent cop is back. He sees the body in the dumpster and observes, “it’s kinda creepy. Mr Yappi said the body was dumped somewhere, then we find it in a DUMPSTER.” He stops short of saying his mind is blown. Scully appears to be genuinely in awe of how ridiculous these people are, but even Mulder’s a bit taken aback at their loopiness. You know you’ve taken something too far when Fox Mulder thinks there’s something wrong with you.

They talk to the old man who discovered the body, whose name is Clyde Bruckman. He says he didn’t move the body, but catches their attention when he makes reference to the eyes being cut out. He says the killer used a shard from a crystal ball, because it “just figures.” Scully asks him how he knows so much, pointing out that the body was face down and most of that information wasn’t in the papers. Bruckman says he doesn’t read the paper. Mulder, gleefully, asks him to accompany them to the crime scene. Bruckman demands to see their badges, then scoffs when he looks at Mulder’s. “I’m supposed to believe that’s a real name?” Lads. I’m sobbing.

I want this guy to be in this all the time

At the crime scene, Bruckman looks about reluctantly. He sees the bloodstain on the bed and rushes to the bathroom to be sick. Mulder asks Scully to pinch him. She’s not in a giving mood, saying this is exactly the same routine Yappi pulled only with none of the colour. Bruckman returns and says he can’t get a physical impression of the killer, but he does think the killer sees himself as not in control of his life. Bruckman then takes momentary interest in a section of carpet, reflecting that the victim had sex on it at some stage. This isn’t relevant to the death, he says, but “sometimes it just seems that everyone’s having sex except for me.” I can’t, lads. I just can’t. (I’m pretty sure neither of these agents see much action so hang in there, Clyde. Hang in there.) He then wanders over to a doll collection, picking up one particular model. Though the doll is in perfect condition he sees it as mangled and broken. He turns to Mulder and Scully and says a woman’s body will be found in Glenview Lake.

Before we continue, let me just interject and say that I love Bruckman. I love him. He’s comedic yet poignant, seeming at once childlike in his openness and yet grimly resigned to the fatalism of life. For every colourful little aside, there’s another which seems drenched in pathos, underlining that the funniest characters are often also the saddest. He seems so horribly lonely, and can’t even recognise the aid he’s providing to Mulder and Scully for what it is so much as a quirk of circumstance. His feelings on his gift are beautifully complex. More on this later.

After a body is pulled out of Glenview Lake, just as Bruckman predicted, Mulder decides to attempt some tests. He rocks up to Bruckman’s apartment and the two of them have a conversation about his gift. Bruckman says he knows Mulder thinks he has psychic powers (and that his “skeptical” lady partner is off performing an autopsy). He confirms he has some power but says the only problem is it’s non-returnable. Mulder can’t conceive of his not liking his gift, saying that it could change how people look at physics and consciousness and that many would be envious of it.

Mulder’s such a sweet summer child. Bruckman looks at him piteously and says there’s nothing exactly nice about knowing when people will die—though it does illustrate the importance of having a good insurance policy!—and if the future is already written, why would you bother to do anything? Mulder bristles, saying he couldn’t stand by and watch people die, but Bruckman says the ripple effect is too dangerous and rambles about time travel and destroying the fabric of the universe before eventually giving in and agreeing to help.

Scully arrives later to find Mulder testing Bruckman’s abilities. She’s not best pleased that her partner is entertaining what she believes to be foolishness, but Mulder says he’s now convinced of Bruckman’s psychic power. He can divine how people will die but not any practical information. Midway through this conversation, Bruckman shouts that the piece of fabric he’s examining is from a Knicks t-shirt but Mulder says it’s not. This made me so happy. Mulder pulled that trick in “Beyond the Sea”, remember? When Boggs was so convinced that the fabric was from a Knicks shirt but Mulder said he’d just pulled it off a random top in his wardrobe? Bruckman was able to see THAT MUCH. This is class.

ROAD TRIP

They go on a road trip, as Scully found a keychain on the body in the lake and matched it to similar ones owned by the previous victims. Bruckman recognises the logo as belonging to a company which provides market forecasts based on astrological predictions. He sold the CEO an insurance policy a few months ago, but now declares that they won’t be able to find him cos he’s been murdered. On their way to the alleged burial site, Mulder asks Bruckman how he’s going to die. Bruckman won’t give it away, but observes that death by auto-erotic asphyxiation isn’t the most dignified way to go. Mulder flatly wonders why he’s telling him that. Why am I even recapping this thing? I should just copy the entire script from start to finish and let us all giggle knowingly, at least until the ending happens and our cheers turn to sobs.

They reach the forest and Bruckman reveals that he developed his power after spending some time reflecting on Buddy Holly’s plane crash. The Big Bopper wasn’t supposed to be on the plane, and in the course of reflecting on all the random events which had to take place for him to board the ill-fated airliner he somehow developed an element of precognition. He can’t pinpoint the exact location of the body in the forest (“I can’t see the forest for the trees”), but when they return to the car and try to dig it out of the mud they discover a hand underneath the wheel.

Bruckman isn’t taken with police work after all this horror. Mulder pleads with him to keep helping them, but Bruckman protests that he has his own work to do and he’s not a crime fighter by trade. He relents a little when Mulder basically promises to buy insurance from him in exchange for his help. Bruckman says the killer will murder more people before he’s caught. He also reveals that he’s had a vision of Mulder chasing him, only to be set upon in some kind of kitchen after stepping on a piece of pie. Bruckman received a letter from the killer, saying that the latter “knows that he knows” and looks forward to meeting him. Mulder insists Bruckman come with them to a safe place but Bruckman says he’ll be dead before the killer is caught regardless of anything they do.

Mulder and Scully take him to a hotel where they take turns watching him. While Scully’s on duty, Bruckman tells her he’s had a vision of the two of them in bed together, where she’s looking at him with compassion and he’s crying. Scully reacts about as well as you can expect (and she is diplomatic), but asks him later how she dies. He replies that she doesn’t, which is beautiful. You already knew that, Dana. Remember your own visions?

They also discuss how mistaking prophecies leads to death for both Macbeth and Ahab (in Moby Dick) in a nice little allegorical moment before Mulder arrives to take over the watch. He and Bruckman discuss prophetic dreams. Mulder believes he’s had some, and Bruckman says he only ever has one dream—he’s lying in a field of tulips, dead, and slowly decomposes away. Just as he feels himself slipping into the great unknown he wakes up. This is prophetic in its own way, though Bruckman’s inability to see beyond death is interesting. He’s able to tell Scully she won’t die (which I’m taking as a reference to some spiritual afterlife, though it may well be that Scully not dying in this context refers to her own belief that death is not the end?) but can’t see anything for himself. The implications are many, but this thing’s already way too long so let’s keep moving.

Death is just another path one we all must take

They leave another agent named Havez with Bruckman the next day. Another fortune teller’s been murdered and they’re called to the crime scene. Havez is a heavy smoker who’s glad to learn that he won’t die from lung cancer, and he tells Bruckman not to answer the door to anyone when he heads into the bathroom. Bruckman is examining his lighter when there’s a knock. He exclaims “oh god” and answers the door, in direct contravention of Havez’s instructions.

The killer is the bellhop at the hotel and he’s the one at the door, so I’m guessing Bruckman let him in due to his policy of not interfering with death? They both twig who the other is within moments of meeting, though then again this would suggest Bruckman didn’t know it was the killer at the door, so…why did he answer it? The two of them also walked by one another in the opening scene, so if it were that simple presumably they’d have twigged earlier. Maybe I picked something up wrong.

Anyway, the bellhop kills Havez in the bathroom and marvels at the fact he’s been looking for Bruckman for ages only to find him in his place of work. He wants to know why he’s been so compelled to murder people. Bruckman reassures him it’s because he’s a homicidal maniac. (They really do look just like everyone else.) The killer seems almost glad to be dispossessed of his delusions of grandeur. Round the corner, Scully has a moment at the crime scene where she seems to suddenly realise that the bellhop is the murderer.

Be this some message from Bruckman or a momentary flash of insight, I’m not sure, but she and Mulder hightail it back to the hotel. Mulder goes up to the room and finds Havez dead and Bruckman missing. Down at the desk, he sees the bellhop and chases after him. They end up in the kitchen, living out the vision Bruckman described earlier. The murderer jumps on Mulder with a knife but Scully arrives just in time and shoots him dead. Amusingly, the killer’s last fortune teller victim told him that he was waiting for a woman, possibly a redhead. I guess that much was actually true, cos Dana’s wasted his ass.

Now for the sad part. They don’t know where Bruckman is, so they go back to his apartment. They find a note on his neighbour’s door saying the old lady died the night before and asking that they see to her remains (or rather the remains of her remains, cos apparently the dog’s been at them). They go inside to inspect and find Bruckman dead on the bed. His head’s in a plastic bag and by the looks of things he’s swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. Scully sits next to him and takes his hand, looking distressed, just as a tear rolls down Bruckman’s face. I think he’s already dead so the tear is more like condensation on the bag but still. It’s exactly as he described it to her earlier, only a million times more harrowing.

The episode ends with Scully firing her phone at the television when Yappi appears in an ad. It’s a comedic note to end on, but this episode was so much more bittersweet than it would suggest. Gosh. In terms of humanising an eccentric character I don’t think the show has done better; at least not thus far. Bruckman is a wonderful man, gifted but so different from other powered people we’ve seen on the show. He has a conscience but aims to help people in a practical way (by selling them life assurance), rather than interfering with what’s going to happen to them.

It’s worth noting the contrast between him and our heroes in that regard in that they have a professional obligation, and feel a clear moral duty, to save people’s lives but Bruckman possessed actual psychic power and still chose to help people in a more mundane, directly impactful way. His powers didn’t really enhance or destroy his life, yet they distanced him from other people to such an extent that he became lonely and resigned and eventually opted to take his own life rather than continue.

His death feels incredibly tragic for the fact that he was clearly principled and wanted to help, but couldn’t find a way to parlay that into actual human relationships. Earlier in the episode, Scully observed that she didn’t believe he had powers but that his own belief in them had drained all the joy from his life. This may be the most sadly foreboding thing in the entire episode, in that Bruckman clearly felt he no longer served much purpose and maybe felt doubly undone for the fact that he’d been directly involved in a case to catch a killer but couldn’t stop him taking multiple lives.

There are layers and layers to this one and I’ve undoubtedly not done it justice, but WHAT an episode. It’s so rich and compelling and incredibly affecting in a way not very many other instalments of the show have managed as yet. Peter Boyle is wonderful as Bruckman and instils such presence in him that it’s hard to believe he’s only in one episode. I could unpack this one for days. What a colossal episode.

The List

This episode was so blah, even more so than “D.P.O”. I can’t believe “Clyde Bruckman”‘s majesty was followed up by something so mean-spirited. It seems like it could have been so much more, being the second or third time the show’s dealt with reincarnation and yet somehow it only manages to make a fascinating subject utterly underwhelming. The episode involves a man on death row for a ridiculously minor crime who promises to come back from the dead and take revenge on five men. Nobody actually believes this, of course, until somehow people apparently on his death list start showing up dead all over the place. It’s enough to pique Mulder’s interest, so in they come.

The Green Mile this ain't

The dead prisoner, Neech, was considered a charismatic and intelligent man. He spent 11 years on death row for involvement in a double murder, except he was only the getaway driver and the actual killer escaped. This seems crazy to me, but then I’ve heard all the horror stories about the American criminal justice system. Neech used his time in prison to become extremely learned and absorbed all he could about reincarnation.

Through this, he came to believe that he could come back from the dead and seek vengeance on those who’d wronged him. The first dead person, a guard, was apparently one of the names he’d promised to kill. He was found in Neech’s old cell. While Mulder and Scully are investigating, a guard pulls her to one side and tells her another inmate named Roque has Neech’s death list. Before she and Mulder can act on this information, another guard turns up dead. His severed head is found in a paint can one of the inmates is given to work with.

The body’s missing, so they can’t do an autopsy, but the medical examiner pulls fly eggs off it. The body of the first dead guard had started decomposing rapidly and was covered in maggots when Scully took a look at it. The examiner discovers that the particular breed of fly is one which thrives in hot, humid environments, and which lays its eggs within a minute of death. This goes some way to explaining why the bodies appeared to be decomposing so quickly. Scully isn’t one for the reincarnation spiel and suggests that Neech planned all this with someone on the outside. The warden is on board with this theory, though he’s a shady character himself as we’ll see later. Mulder is of course open to the dead man walking idea but has no way of proving it.

Mulder goes to talk to Roque, the prisoner allegedly in possession of Neech’s list. He says he overheard Neech telling another inmate, Speranza, the names of the men on the list. Roque won’t reveal who’s on it unless he can make a deal. The warden won’t make any deal, lest the prisoners begin to think they can get somewhere by killing guards. Their conversation on this point is interrupted by the discovery of a headless body in the warden’s office. It belongs to the head which was found in the paint can earlier.

Sleepy Hollow reference here

While rooting through Neech’s books and correspondence (Scully notes that he knew his Bible, in another neat little nod to her spiritual side), they find a letter from his wife and go to speak to her. Danielle is visibly quite shaken by everything’s that happened and still speaks about her late husband in the present tense. She says she could feel the force of his beliefs when he was alive and if anyone could come back from the dead it’s him. Later, she watches Mulder and Scully leave from the window when her new boyfriend comes in and surprises her—turns out he’s the guard who pulled Scully aside earlier, and his name is Parmelly.

Back at the prison, the warden’s beaten Roque to death. He took him into the showers and tried to coerce him into giving up the names of the men on the list. Roque didn’t give in but did inform the warden that his name was on the list. Mulder and Scully are surprised to hear of Roque’s death. The warden lies and says he was another one of Neech’s targets, ordering a lockdown until the situation’s under control. Mulder is suspicious, as up until now the victims were all men who had a history of violence with Neech and Roque didn’t, so far as he knows.

They try to get the name of the executioner who actually flipped the switch (as it were), but the warden says only three men know it. Apparently you can hire an executioner by placing an ad and picking someone up in the middle of the night. I don’t know how true that is but it sounds frightening. By the time Mulder and Scully do discover the executioner’s identity, he’s already dead at his home and infested with maggots just like the other victims. Mulder goes back to the prison to speak to Speranza, who reveals that Roque wasn’t one of the names on Neech’s list. The plot thickens.

Scully’s found repeated phone calls to a guy named Charez in Neech’s phone records. They go to speak to him and discover he’s the lawyer who defended Neech, but given he was 26 and court-appointed to the case he didn’t exactly give it his all. Charez tells them Danielle has a new boyfriend who works at the prison. He says the boyfriend is a touch aggressive and threatened him with a gun when he went by Danielle’s house. That night, after our heroes have left, Charez himself is bumped off when someone smothers him with a pillow. It isn’t immediately clear who did it but it looks suspiciously like Parmelly. Parmelly arrives back at Danielle’s later and gets arsey with her when she tells him the FBI are watching the house. Nerves are starting to fray.

In the meantime, the warden’s been chatting to Speranza. He offers to get his case reviewed if he’ll reveal the names of the people on the list. Speranza agrees, but doesn’t look particularly happy about it. Mulder and Scully arrive back and ask about Danielle’s new squeeze. The warden figures out that it’s Parmelly, who apparently transferred in from out of state a few months earlier. He also informs them Charez is dead. Scully wonders if this is the fifth victim, but both Mulder and the warden know otherwise.

Nevertheless, they head off to Danielle’s to arrest Parmelly, but by the time they arrive Danielle’s already holding a gun on him. She’s become convinced he’s the reincarnated form of Neech from the way he moves and acts around her, and she’s freaked out. Scully spots them through the window but before they can bust in Danielle shoots him dead. Unpleasant scenes, but for all intents and purposes it looks like the killer’s been dealt with. Shortly thereafter, Speranza’s found beaten to death as well. Dropping like flies in that prison.

Mulder and Scully leave town, as it seems like the case has been resolved—albeit not very satisfactorily. Mulder still isn’t convinced however. He pulls over on their way out of town and rants that none of it makes sense. Parmelly didn’t know who the executioner was. He was only on duty when one of the murders in the prison took place, and if he was the killer why would he try and get Scully the list of names?

Further, Danielle and Speranza both claimed to have seen Neech after he died. Scully tries to talk him down but it doesn’t look like there’s much they can do, and both of them appear to miss the actual resolution. The warden drives by them as they’re talking at the side of the road. He’s some distance away when he notices someone in the back of his car and, on looking closer, realises it’s Neech. Neech grabs him and forces the car into a tree, leaving the warden bloodied and unconscious (and presumably dead) in the front seat. By the time the smoke clears, Neech has disappeared. That was strike 5.

You've just been erased

Nope. Everything about this was so unpleasant. The severed heads, the maggots, the grim retribution storyline. I feel like this could have been tightened up and made a much creepier episode (maybe one which said something about the fact the killer was a black man wronged by the system given the disproportionate number of African-American men behind bars in the US?) but it was mostly just gross and kinda played out as another one of those where Mulder and Scully are involved but don’t actually achieve anything. Ah well. I guess Mulder will just have to wait a while for any satisfying evidence of reincarnated souls.

Til next week, friends!

Grace Duffy is a pop culture devotée and sometime film critic currently catching up on her classic sci-fi. You can read more on her blog, Tumblr, or catch her frequent TV liveblogs on Twitter.

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