Okay, X-Philes. Has everyone taken a deep breath after what we suspect have been numerous rewatches? We know it's been quite a gratifying night for many! Still, we're here to mull about this episode, just like any other, because this is what we do.
"Plus One" - written by Chris Carter and directed by Kevin Hooks is the third episode of Season 11. It got the show trending heavily in various hashtags on Twitter and Tumblr definitely is having a field day with it.
Click after the jump for our thorough Recap and Review. As always, heavy spoilers ahead.
A band plays in what looks like a high school auditorium, or a concert hall in a small town; they’re playing some good rock that I can’t place - and that's because is one of David Duchovny's newest singles, and I’d dig it - If I were a teen or an early twenty-something guy with a mystery liquor in a bottle, guzzling it, as you do.
Everyone is rocking hard as he walks through the crowd, smiling and enjoying himself. He gets on stage and jumps into the moshpit that carries him off the center. It’s all going great until he spots another guy… that looks just like him, staring back and looking rather angry. He gets his footing back and tries to focus. Maybe he’s “that” drunk? But the other guy is nowhere to be seen now. He turns around, and catches a glimpse of him again, in a doorway now. He goes after him, but as soon as he gets near the place he last saw the man, he’s gone.
Now, outside, he looks around for the man. Things are fuzzy and blurry; maybe he’s also stoned. People are enjoying themselves - tailgating, drinking, kissing - but he just gets in his truck and takes off. Nice dude. This is exactly what you do while on a trip, right?
As he speeds down a country road in the dark, he misses the patrol car that seems to mark him, taking off in pursuit after him. But the patrol isn’t hunting him, and he sighs in relief as the SUV passes him by, following some other call. He smiles, probably counting his blessings when he turns and sees the other dude - the vision of himself - just sitting on the passenger side of the bench.
He screams, asking, “What the hell do you want?!” when the other guy grabs onto the wheel and throws the car out of control for a second. They fight over the control of the steering wheel, with him telling his other self to let go, frantically. But the other one won’t, in fact, he starts pushing his foot to the pedal and forcing the truck to go faster. They careen out of control and the truck crashes front-first into a tree by the side of the road. The poor, spooked guy has gone through the windshield and he is draped across the hood, the horn going off. The other guy is no longer there.
Tagline: “The Truth is Out There” times two!
We cut to Mulder, and now we learn the name of the guy: Arkie Seavers (Jared Ager-Foster, Dirk Gently), twenty years old. His mug shot shows he’s pretty roughed up from the accident, but he's survived. He’s in county jail, as Mulder informs Scully. She asks how the “other guy is doing” thinking the injuries are due to a fight, but that’s exactly it. As Mulder puts it, Arkie was just in a head-on collision into a tree, “drunk as a skunk”. He could be dead. He probably wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, Scully thinks. But then Mulder drops the key piece of evidence: he didn’t have time to put on a seatbelt because he was fighting off the boy that caused the accident.
“Who was that?” She asks.
“You’re looking at him,” Mulder responds, confusing her, but he clarifies that it wasn’t HIM that caused the accident, but a boy that looks exactly like Arkie.
“What? He blames himself?” she challenges.
“In a manner of speaking,” he counters.
She still doesn’t get it, so Mulder explains Arkie’s argument that his doppelganger was the one that caused the accident when he grabbed onto the wheel. She thinks he was just too drunk and Mulder knows that she was going to feel that way, alluding that she’d frown upon giving the car to a kid.
As she points out, Arkie is twenty and not a kid anymore.
The thing is that Arkie is not the first one; the others didn’t have as much luck as they reported seeing their doubles right before passing away. They all died by their own hands from reports from friends and relatives, and even a doctor.
The medical diagnosis is a rare form of schizophrenia, but Scully doesn’t know the one that would cause this. Mulder starts theorizing - knowing that she will refute it - that schizophrenics are known for hearing voices. But Scully isn’t convinced as it's one thing to hear voices and have hallucinations, and another to have the mirage grab the wheel of the car and ram it into a tree.
Mulder starts enumerating the cases that have died in similar circumstances, and Scully is taken aback: it’s a mass phenomena. Which is exactly what he’s thinking, so they’re heading down I-95 to investigate. Ah, good times.
They get to the precinct where they’re holding Arkie. He’s eagerly expecting them with his lawyer, Dean Cavalier (Ben Wilkinson, Dirk Gently). They want to hear the details; Arkie repeats the tale. His doppelganger fought with him over the wheel, floored the gas, and he ended up wrapped around a tree. “The dude looked just like me,” Arkie says. And he had seen it before, as his lawyer points out.
Apparently, the guy had been following him for a week, and he’d seen him on numerous occasions. He admits he takes drugs occasionally, prompted by Scully’s inquiry, and he’s in jail because as his lawyer confirms, Arkie has a problem. Six DUI offenses, to be precise.
Mulder knows the judge is going to go after Arkie, but he wants to know why he was the only survivor. Arkie claims that he can prove he’s not lying, which Scully doubts.
Mulder and Scully go to the place of the accident - also known as that place where the bear came out of the woods at Gillian Anderson - and they start to figure out a way that it could have happened. Mulder claims that the way the skid marks are aligned, and the placement, seem to corroborate a struggle, while Scully theorizes he must have fallen asleep at the wheel and that’s why these things happened. Plausible, plausible. But, as Mulder points out, if Arkie were sleeping, he wouldn’t have been traveling at such speed… and that he’s too stupid to make it up.
Then, we move on to the hospital, where Dr. Babsi Russell (Denise Dowse, Pleasantville) explains that she has treated some of the people that manifested these symptoms. They all saw their doubles. Apparently, these were people that had psychiatric problems before but had never received treatment. So Scully clings onto that: there were issues. Dr. Russell is not entirely with her, though. They may not have had issues, but they weren’t “outstanding citizens” either. Her clinical opinion is that it was a non-traditional type of schizophrenia, more like an outbreak than an individual condition. “A mass hysteria?” Scully suggests, but Dr. Russell had never heard of one that led to suicide. Scully has.
They get to a room, where Mulder peeks through the glass insert in the door. He turns to Russell, wondering about the patient inside. It’s Karin Konoval - who you know from being the mother in “Home” - and she’s playing two characters in this episode. Right now, we get to meet Judy. She’s supposedly a more traditional schizophrenic, with a split personality and wild swings in her mood. The nurse doesn’t advise they talk to her, but Mulder wants to take a look at her drawings that cover every surface of the room. They’re hangman drawings.
They enter the room, and she’s eating out of a chocolate pudding cup, labeled “Dookie!” - Yes, Chris Carter… that’s mature. Dr. Russell announces the visitors, but Judy’s shy and laments, embarrassed, that the doctor should have warned her so she could look her best for them. Mulder tries to calm her down, and she takes to him, pleased and almost flattered by a handsome guy like him. Scully is mildly amused. He identifies himself, and Scully. She tells him to call her “Little Judy… that’s how my fans call me.” She’s supposed to be a famous actress, and she looks mildly miffed that Scully doesn’t recognize her.
Russell explains that they just want to see the drawings, but she sells them short- they’re just hangman drawings. As Mulder points out though, she plays a whole lot of it. She claims to play with her brother, and Scully asks if he visits often, but Judy says No, that he’s an insufferable jerk. They play telepathically.
Mulder finds a hangman drawing with Arkie’s name on it. He takes it off the wall and asks her if she knows him, that he has had an accident recently, but she denies knowing him. Scully asks if that’s just a coincidence. Judy gets more aggravated, denying knowing him, but that “she might” - she points to an empty chair by the corner desk. Mulder and Scully let her be, and she’s left alone in her room, painting a sad face on Arkie’s doll.
Cut to the precinct, where a deputy is taking Arkie to a jail cell. He’s not happy about it; supposedly he’s being transferred. He wants to speak to his lawyer, but the deputy can’t help him and leaves him locked in an empty cell. He’s already on the verge when he turns in toward the cell and spots his sinister double, inside with him. He screams for help, “He’s there!” but no one comes.
Cut to St. Rachel Motel - 11:21 PM - Of course, Chris Carter.
Scully rings the bell, and a woman comes out. They’d like a couple of rooms, but they don’t have a reservation. Luckily, the motel had a cancellation - a suite - and Mulder rushes to say they’ll take it. Scully is taken aback by the choice. The woman clarifies that the room has a pull-out couch, which eases Scully, and Mulder replies to her look of disapproval that he’s just trying to get some shut-eye. She’s glad to hear that. He’s smirking at her totally fake aggravation. Me, on the other hand, I’m trying to count the number of fanfics that would have cited fraternization rules right at this time in their text. I know you’ve read them too, so stop lying.
Cut to Dana Scully in bed, where she, of course, wears silk PJs; only she’s startled by a presence in her room. It’s Mulder, who’s sorta half asleep as well, but making a sullen joke of how comfy that bed must be. She tells him to go back to bed, but he informs her that Arkie Sievers has been found dead.
They go to the precinct; Cavalier is indignant as they see Arkie, still handcuffed, leaning against the bars. Dead. One of the guards had found him. Scully says it looks like a suicide, even though he’s got his hands cuffed behind his back.
Cavalier argues that he was strangled to death, but still, Mulder fights him on it, explaining that he could have done it himself. Scully describes how he could have used his belt for it. But his lawyer is adamant; Arkie didn’t want to die, and he’s questioning who’s going to stop this carnage. Scully tries to calm him down, “they’re working on it.” But the lawyer's out for blood.
Scully thinks it is a coincidence that Judy was playing hangman and that Arkie ends up hanging himself. But Mulder counters that he thinks they're involved in it as she pointed out that her other personality knew Arkie. Scully insists that Judy claimed to not know the man... though her credibility is not as good since she also claimed to be playing hangman telepathically with her brother.
Mulder goes to visit the bother the next day. He's suspect number 2. He then realizes that he’s the trustee that found Arkie. He wants to ask him a few questions, and Chucky is already wondering if he’s under any suspicion, but Mulder just wants to talk to him. He agrees, ‘cause luckily “he just tidied up” - this place is a hoarder’s paradise.
Mulder makes a smartass comment about a fire marshall red-tagging him, and Chucky screams accusations at him. How dare Mulder talk about his house! It’s the town that needs cleaning. “See what you need. Get a sense of what lurks beneath…” Chucky says. Apparently, he may have body parts in the fridge too.
When Mulder notices his hangman drawings, he asks if he plays with Judy, and Chucky calls her a “miserable slut” - wow, talk about sibling love. He claims that she cheats at their game. Mulder wants to know what the rules are, but Chucky is smarter than that; he knows he’s profiling him.
Mulder denies it. This guy cannot keep his temper down; everything is obvious to him. Mulder notes that he and Judy are twins, which aggravates Chucky when Mulder suggests that she’s the good twin. “You don’t know little Judy,” Chucky says. Mulder notes that they both played the hangman with Arkie’s name, and he defends himself by saying he likes the name “Arkie” - “it’s a funny name for a douchebag.” Mulder takes a picture of the wall of drawings, and Chucky comments “this guy is kind of a numbnuts or what?” He’s not talking to Mulder, but to his own imaginary presence, who’s also sitting, apparently, on a chair nearby.
Mulder turns around; there’s no one there.
Cut to Scully, walking down the hospital hall with two nurses in tow. Let’s just identify them as “the hilarious pair.” Scully asks if Judy has been notified that she's coming, and they confirm they have and that she threw Dookie! at them. Yeah. That.
The Judy that’s here today is “Demon Judy”.
The nurse opens the door for Scully. She asks why everything is in the dark, and they explain that it makes whoever enters a harder target. But Scully is smug. She claims that it takes a strong person to overpower the will of the psychotic. The Hilarious Pair knows better… and they tell her that both of Judy’s parents hung themselves. She asks if they’ll come in with her, but nope, hellz to the nope on that.
Scully enters the room, and as soon as she identifies herself, Judy throws pudding at her, cackling in the dark. Judy claims to know what she wants; she’s definitely not the sweet, shy woman from the day before. Scully wants to know about Arkie, and Judy says that he just reached the end of his rope. She throws more pudding, but Scully warns that she’s not afraid of her. Judy laughs once more and tells her that everyone is afraid of her.
“Is little Judy a killer?” Scully asks. Judy responds that she’s an angel. But what about the brother? Is he involved? “Could be…” Judy replies. “Chucky Poundstone is the devil’s dimwitted disciple.” Okay then. Judy knows that Arkie killed himself and Scully wants to know how she knows that if she wasn’t involved. Judy thinks Scully wants to trick her, even when Scully claims that she just wants the killings to stop.
Judy makes fun of her, attacking her with the Mulder card: “What does he see in you?”-- “One taste of little Judy and he’ll forget you even exist…” Have we talked about how much I enjoy Jealous Scully? Cause I do, but pleeeease, Judy… you've got a long way to go before you can even compete with the redhead.
So, Judy threatens Scully and throws more pudding at her. She laughs at her. Mocks her age, the fact that she’s past her childbearing years, that she’s half a woman, and I want to punch kittens over this. “You can’t hurt me, Judy,” Scully claims… but the hurt is there. “Nothing hurts like the truth,” Judy says as Scully leaves the room and she throws more Dookie! at her.
We cut to Scully in her motel room’s bathroom. She’s looking at herself in the mirror. Judy has hit a nerve. Mulder knocks on the door and asks what she found out with Judy. Scully makes a joke about Dookie!, and how she’d like to pass messages to his brain. To gather the other apes… a joke that Mulder gets right away. But he didn’t have pudding flung at him, only figuratively... by Chucky at his house and with his crazy antics.
Scully thinks that Judy has a malignant influence over the victims, but she doesn’t know what it is. “There’s some evil in the air,” Mulder claims. But Scully just thinks that it’s mental illness, some kind of psychic transference. Mulder doesn’t buy it, even mentioning a ghost. Scully quips that they don’t exist, and he mildly fights back. It’s so cute guys, they’re in a motel room, and this is how Mulder and Scully discuss ghosts. Then she goes and ruins it with a bunch of science to justify the sensation of feeling that there are ghosts, to justify the fact that so many have reported the other presence in the room. Aw, come on, Scully. “Talk about flinging dookie…” Mulder says. But there’s something else on her mind…
“Mulder, do you think of me as old?” she asks. I want to hug her.
“Where is this coming from? Maybe in dog years… No. What are you talking about?” he worries, now walking toward her and sitting on the mattress with her. Guys… guys.
“Well, a woman thinks about these things…” she says. My hands are twitchy.
“No, Scully. You still got it going on... “ he replies. Good boy. He's doing good. He snickers. “You still have some scoot in your boot…” he smiles. She smiles too. Who’s this Chris Carter and what did they feed him that day?
“I’m going to boot you out of here,” she says, pushing him off the bed, and escorting him out of the room. “Knock three times,” Mulder says. For what? Dear Chris Carter… Dear Fox Mulder… Scully closes the door and shakes off the conversation.
Cut to Chucky at home, reading the paper and seeing a picture of Cavalier. “Bloodsucking scumbag!” he says, angry that he thinks that he’s pointing the finger at him. Chucky takes a piece of paper and draws the all-too-familiar shape and begins playing hangman telepathically with Judy. They’re making out the letters of Dean Cavalier’s name.
Next morning, Mulder is back at Chucky’s house. This time his demeanor is far more cooperative, even when he calls him “Agent Muldoon.” Mulder wants to know how he does it, and if the other Chucky is there. Mulder thinks this is an act and that he chooses his victims at the jail. He hangs them if not physically then psychically. But Chucky doesn’t budge, asking if his health plan at the FBI covers anger management. Mulder wants to know who’s next and tells him that he can have him arrested and committed. The man thinks that he’s asking the wrong person, and that “Intent to commit a crime” is not enough to bring him down to an arrest. Instead, Chucky thinks he could have Mulder arrested for abuse of power.
Mulder continues to rile him up until Chucky responds as he expected: violent and high strung. “That’s the Chucky that’s eventually going to hang himself…” The man doesn’t take it anymore and slams the door on Mulder.
Back to the hospital, and Judy is back to her “sweet” self. The Hilarious Pair announces Scully, and she’s more than delighted to have her visit. Scully asks if Judy has any recollection of the previous night, but she doesn’t recall. Judy is hesitant and worried that Scully is mad at her, which she admits. Scully is angry at her because she needs to stop the killings and she doesn’t know how. Judy assumes that Scully blames her, but is she to blame? She says that she’s an actress and that she’s never even played a killer.
“Where’s the person I talked to yesterday, Judy?” Scully asks, and Judy claims that her other self is sitting on the chair she pointed out on their first visit. Scully fights her on it, saying that she isn’t there and that she thinks she’s pretending.
Judy scoffs and challenges if Scully thinks that she would pretend so much and end up sitting on that bed all day long. But Scully explains that she feels that she has the power to influence people’s lives. “I think you mean their deaths…” Judy clarifies, and that’s exactly what Scully means.
Judy claims that people can protect themselves if they only took the capsules that she produces from under her dress. She hands them to Scully, who asks her if the nurses give her those pills. Judy claims that she’s given those every morning with her breakfast. Scully is hesitant to believe her and then asks if she would consider not playing hangman anymore. But this alters Judy; what would she do all day? She’d go mad.
Scully exits the room; the Hilarious Pair is waiting just outside. Scully shows them the pills and asks about them because Judy claims they have secret powers. Hilarious #1 says that that’s only half true. Hilarious #2 explains that they bring her bread every morning and she rolls them into those pills, so they’re just bread capsules with no medicinal powers that they know of.
Scully goes to toss them, but the pair stops her, admitting that they do consume the pills, in case they do have secret powers. She might want to take them too. Who’s the crazy person here?! Scully holds on to them.
Cut to Dean Cavalier, at a diner, ordering a lunch plate special while flirting with the waitress. It's his usual M.O. it would seem from her snicker. He suggests that maybe she should come to his place to check out his sword collection, but she doesn’t fall for it. He checks her out as she walks back behind the counter and that’s when he notices his own double, staring back angrily at him. He gets up, wondering if anyone else saw the man, that has now walked away. No one has seen him. Dean exits the cafe and takes off, trying to find the double. The waitress cancels his lunch order after seeing him run.
Scully arrives at their motel, driving some blue, Ford, soccer-mom car, while Mulder drives an off-grey SUV… also Ford. Why is this important? Well, aside from the fact that I want to make all the jokes about Ford being a sponsor, I ask: whatever happened to that Mustang he was driving? Did the Russians seize it during “This?” Did someone come to their senses and realize that Mulder would never drive a Mustang? Anyway.
Dean is waiting for them and runs to Scully as soon as they park. He’s spooked because he saw his doppelganger. Scully asks him to calm down, and to explain. Her hair is looking fab, and Mulder is wearing some dark shirt and dark suit combo that reminds me of Season 7 wardrobe, and I’m pleased.
Dean says that he saw his double through a window, and it’s not the first time - he thinks that he saw him looking at back at him at a bus stop. Scully thinks that he’s only making it worse; mass hysteria and paranoia is just a symptom of fears run wild. Mulder agrees with Scully and advises him to take precautions as possible, to stay off the interstate. Scully suggests that he goes with family, but he doesn’t have any. She tells him to go home and take a few days and call the police if he has another panic attack. Oh, Scully… Mulder gives him his card, and Scully tells him that “it” cannot haunt him if he doesn’t let it. Dean is less than convinced, but he leaves.
Mulder is sure that there’s a dark influence set loose in the town. Scully bites back, saying that she agrees if he’s referring to evil, and evil as a concept, like the Devil. Mulder smirks and asks if that’s what they taught her in Catholic School. She believed in the literal Devil, but only when she was a child. So Mulder wonders if she doesn’t believe that there’s a dark side to people that most repress.
Scully explains that everyone with an imagination can act anti-socially, but that doesn’t mean that there’s an evil twin lurking inside them. Mulder tells her to speak for herself. “Tell that to Chuck and Judy!” Mulder challenges, but Scully thinks they’re just mentally ill. So how does she explain how they are doing whatever it is that they’re doing? And Scully can’t explain it, but says: “If you eliminate the impossible, whatever is remaining - even if improbable - must be the truth.” Mulder smirks and says: “No sugar, Sherlock.”
I take a deep breath and curse the fact that this show is airing at 8 pm and we can’t cuss at the most normal of things. Anyway, Scully admits that she still sleeps with her back to the door just in case the Devil comes in the middle of the night. “You can never be too careful.” He says. At any rate, the banter here is 13/10.
Dean arrives at his home. He’s as paranoid as it comes. He starts taking all of his tools out of the house: rifles, guns, dropping everything on the driveway as one of his neighbors looks on. He goes for his ties and belts too, and that’s when he notices his sword collection. He’s so fudged. Yeah, at XFN we’re also PG, and I can’t cuss here either.
Cut to Judy’s hospital room; she’s playing again with Chucky. She’s losing, which means that Dean still has some time to dispose of the crazy, murderous collection. He’s rushing. Grabbing onto all the sables that hang off the walls of his swanky home. He’s in such a rush that the swords slip from his grasp and one of them slices through the skin of his arm. He goes to the bathroom for a rag to stop the bleeding, and that's when he hears the metallic sound of one of the swords. Dean walks back to his living room, to find his evil self, brandishing one of them. Oh… doody.
Cut to Scully, sound asleep on her bed, her back to the door as advertised, when she senses the Devil - I mean - Mulder, who startles her awake again. “Please, Mulder you’ve got to quit scaring me like that!” She says, breathless. “Oh, I’d like to quit…” he says, resigned. Before you read too much into it, yes, you guessed it. Dean Cavalier is the latest victim of this rampage, and his head rests - detached from his body - in a pool of blood in his blood-soaked living room. So, for those that are keeping score: we can see gory stuff like this on screen, but not say any expletives. Okay then. Logical. US content ratings are da.worst.
The neighbors called the police when they saw Dean dumping firearms out of his garage. The police had to break into the house because everything was locked from the inside. No one has offered explanation or evidence of how this happened. Everyone agrees it's hard for someone to cut off their own head, “but for the record, it's not outside of the realm of extreme possibility.” Okay, Scully.
Mulder points out the improbable circumstances that would have to be set up for him to cut off his own head, but Scully thinks that if Dean was determined to prove his own prophecy, he could have set it up. Mulder doesn’t agree; Dean was scared of his own mind. He couldn’t have called Mulder, maybe because he lost his head… hahaha. Scully is Frustrated™.
She exits the house and walks toward Mulder’s SUV when something catches her eye in the crowd of lookie-loos on the sidewalk. It's her very own double, looking -yes- angrily at her. I wonder why she is angry? Maybe because Scully doesn’t agree with Mulder? Maybe because she also got woken up in the middle of the night for this clumsy affair? At any rate, Scully is rattled, but then the double disappears into the crowd as Mulder urges her to climb into the car.
Back in the motel, Scully is again in her bed, but she’s restless. She’s startled out of slumber once more and turns around, but there’s no one on the other side of the bed this time. She catches her breath and lays on her back for a second.
Cut to Mulder dozing on the pull-out couch; he stirs out of sleep. Scully has come to his side: “Speaking of the Devil.” She can’t sleep, something about the case is bothering her -"getting under her skin” - Mulder appeases her, they’ve had stranger cases. Regardless, she looks at him…”Can you hold me?” she asks. “Yeah, I can do that,” he says, pulling the covers to welcome her in.
Guys. Who is this Chris Carter, seriously? Also, blessed be you, Kevin Hooks. They lay on their sides, spooning in bed in silence for a moment until Scully breaks the silence.
“What’s gonna happen?”
Mulder considers her question for a moment. “What’s gonna happen when?” he asks.
“When we’re old...” she elaborates.
“What do you mean ‘when’?” he jokes.
She sort of smirks, but she’s indeed worried. Sooner or later they will have to retire and then what will be of them? Are they gonna spend time together?
“I’ll come push your wheelchair, with my wheelchair…” he claims. She smiles, sadly.
That’s not what she means, but Mulder tries to appease her again, saying that he’ll always be around to serve her with theories that she’ll try and fail to disprove. She promises always to be around to prove him wrong. If these two ever were to write wedding vows, this is it. These are the most Mulder and Scully wedding vows you can get.
But this is not what worries her. Mulder continues to humor her while snuggling, half asleep.
“What if you meet someone?” she asks.
Is that a lead brick that just fell in my stomach? Yup, that’s it. Mulder also seems to have gotten one of his own.
“What if you meet someone younger, that wants to have kids?”
Mulder is as discombobulated as all of us are. He doesn’t even want to entertain the thought. Does she recall the “One in Five Billion” declaration? Come on, girl. But that’s what she means, and Mulder counters with the same doubt.
She could also meet someone… have kids…
Okay, I need to stop right here. Because, seriously!? I get it, you’re playing at not owning any decisions about yourselves and your lives, but if we’re going to talk practicalities, 1) when exactly is anyone going to meet anyone? A stray night in between hunting virtual friends in peril and following some apparition into the middle of nowhere? I see. Okay. Logical.
And 2) Yes. Dana Scully will have kids again. Okay. #Sarcasm. Mhmm. So, I’m biting my tongue on this one - for more reasons than one - but also so that I don’t write an essay about how this should be a topic that even Mulder should know is an almost certain impossibility. Even for a healthy woman of her age - and Scully is not one - it would be hard to accomplish.
“Mulder, that’s not going to happen…” she says, incredulous.
“Nonsense,” he counters.
And no. Someone get these men a biology book. Preferably one that doesn’t explain things with the following phrase: “Stuff happens because of science. The end.” But okay, maybe Mulder just wants to play the hopeful one this time around. And look at that, we have Mulder and Scully talking babies in bed. The fanfics will be glorious.
“Do you want to have more kids?” he asks.
“Well, I would have liked to have another one…” she says, forlorn.
And now Mulder is the one that seems like he’d never considered this, maybe. Then he goes and asks the most circular question ever: “What’s stopping you?”
Sigh… Chris Carter… I don’t know what to do with you.
Scully explains that the first time she got pregnant was a miracle, and now, she doesn’t have anyone to have a baby with, even if she could…
...You know, she’s telling this to a man hugging her - I guess, platonically - on a pullout couch. I’m getting angry, guys. And it’s kind of an irrational anger, but I’m also maniacally laughing at the same time, because, *laughs more* oh.my.god.
“You’re a woman of science,” he argues.
But she scoffs and claims that the world is going to hell, and I’m with her on this one.
“And we’re the only two people that can save it.”
Mulder agrees; the world is going to hell, “unnamed Trump” is trying to take down the FBI. What if they lose their jobs? Yeah, what will you do then, workaholics?
There’s a pause, then silence, and in this copy, I can only hear the sounds of the AC and the springs of the mattress as they breathe in their embrace… and then Scully turns to face Mulder, examines his face - his expression changes. With a growing sassiness, Scully claims that “they’ll think of something.”
And the camera pans away to an angry looking doppelganger Scully.
Because this is The X-Files, guys. And it airs at 8 pm.
Cut to Judy’s hospital room. She’s trying to solve the latest hangman game. She’s animated and wants to know if there’s an L in the name they’re guessing. There is, following a U. Scully? Mulder?
At any rate, for those that do not catch it when we come back to it… now we’re back in the motel room… where the platonic middle-aged Gen-X-ers are sleeping, snuggled on the pull-out couch. Scully… is on the opposite side from where we last saw her, and the sheet is in the most traditional agreed pattern for broadcast television since the dawn of the problem of “how do we cover two people that just had sex, but we can’t show the naughty bits?”
Did I spoil it for anyone??? Good.
Mulder gets up, leaving Scully sound asleep, and goes to the bathroom. He takes a drink from the faucet and smiles to himself in the mirror… and then he sees it. His double is hiding in the shadows, appearing to be angry with him. He’s freaked out and bolts from the room. Mulder goes to Scully and tells her to get up and get dressed.
“Mmmmm, come back to bed…” she replies groggily.
Yes, Mulder, go back to bed.
But Spooky is too spooked; he tells her that he was looking in the mirror and he spotted his angry self. She starts to sit up, still covering herself up, but definitely naked. She says that she also saw herself last night. He needs to calm down, but Mulder won’t hear it.
“Scully, put a dimmer on that afterglow and get yourself to the hospital before they hang us both.”
She claims that the twins can’t hang them, but it can only be done by themselves. But Mulder doesn’t want to risk it, “How many letters in Scully, Scully?”
And he takes off, leaving her second-guessing that in the bed.
At the hospital, Judy continues to play. She giddily asks if there’s another L in the word they’re guessing. Chuck replies that there’s only one. He claims that she’s “in love with him” - meaning Mulder, while she claims that Chuck is in love with Scully. She goes to write the second L, but the tip of the pencil breaks.
Scully exits the motel room and walks to her car, seeing her reflection in the car window. She’s a bit on edge; even her hair has feels. She reaches into her pocket, and there they are, the bread pills. She eats them, just in case, right?
Mulder breaks into Chuck’s house and calls out for him. He’s communicating with Judy, angrily stating that there’s no letter C in the word they’re guessing.
“You’re under arrest, Chucky! Put the pencil down!” Mulder shouts, and then he hears a rustle. It’s his double.
Judy claims that Chucky is cheating, cause he’s in love.
Back with Scully, she drives down the interstate when she spots her double in the rearview mirror. She rationalizes that the vision is just a paranoid ideation born of latent hostility. Sure, Scully. She realizes that Mulder may be right and the double is Evil incarnate, and as soon as she admits to it, the vision is gone. She continues to drive.
Mulder asks his double to step aside and draws his gun and shoots, just like his double has done. No one is wounded. A fight ensues, blows go back and forth and man, that’s some kicking stunts. At some point, it’s just hard to figure out who’s who.
Chucky is growing tired of the game and asks if there’s a J and a U, D, and an I, T… H? Judy is equally frustrated and also asks if there’s a C, H, U, C, K, Y… Chucky turns to see his doppelganger at his side. In Judy’s room, evil Judy is also nearby.
Scully arrives, Hilarious Pair in tow, strutting like no other toward Judy’s room. They peek through the glass insert of the door, and evil Judy jumps at them, scaring the bejesus out of them. The pair is scared, and they claim they won’t go in with Scully. She tries pushing on the door but something is blocking it, and when she finally manages to get inside, she finds Judy laying dead on the floor.
Back at Chucky’s, Mulder has managed to extricate himself from his double and finds Chucky also dead on the floor… visible strangulation marks on his neck.
On the wall, there are the hangman drawings that belong to their parents. The siblings are definitely behind their deaths.
The case is wrapped. Scully tucks away the drawings in evidence bags in her room. Mulder enters the suite, proposing to clock in a couple of hours… of sleep, just sleep, he clarifies, after Scully’s suspicious look. She makes small talk; she’s glad to hear that he’s just gonna sleep. Aha, keep tiptoeing around, guys.
“If you need anything, just call me…” he proposes.
“I can’t imagine that I will,” she replies.
He knows this game. He exits the room, closing the door behind him and we hear him turning on the TV to “The Rachel Maddow Show” - insert here politics fangirl squee. This changed on the final air version and I’m so sad!
But Scully isn’t done. She stares at the door, quizzically, and says to herself: “But then again, it's not out of the realm of extreme possibility.”
She looks almost predatory - to be honest - in this cut... but in the aired one she's more playful and I welcome the change. As she walks to the adjoining door and opens it, to find Mulder waiting for her, leaning against the door frame.
We’re left with the sound of whatever conspiracy Rachel Maddow is breaking down tonight… at least in the cut that I previewed. In the final version, we're also left with the sound of a sword.
Written by Chris Carter and directed by Kevin Hooks, this episode upped the ante for me in many ways, some contradictory. I’ll elaborate on this, but let’s talk about the X-File.
This episode is a classic MOTW. Even though we don’t explore too much into how the twins have this psychic ability, the meat of the story is in their constant changes and interesting takes on each personality. And definitely, Karin Konoval delivers an amazing performance. Having said that, we could have delved more into what the doppelgangers could do to each pair. While visually attractive, the anger that each double appeared to be containing could have been explored more. Each person’s evil side doesn’t have to look and do the same as the rest. Alas, we only have 40-something minutes of television.
“Plus One,” just like “This,” fits nicely into the style that the original episodes kept. The pace was right, the style was right, the banter was right. And even though we know that Chris Carter obviously kept a close eye on everything around the episode, as well as the grip that Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny have on these characters, kudos go as well to Kevin Hooks who did a great job stepping into a franchise - and a force of nature - such as The X-Files. He has an extensive resume in TV directing, and maybe his brief work in Castle - where Rob Bowman reigned supreme - gave him a few pointers on some nuances about how we like to run things around here.
Now onto the Chris Carter of it all.
This episode goes to show why we have a constant love-hate relationship with him. Personally, I think hate is too strong of a word, but your mileage may vary. Definitely, this episode should soften the opinions that most of the fandom has over “My Struggle III”.
It is not only the skill to deliver a solid story, but also one that hits many marks. It’s a compelling story. It’s funny, but also has poignant moments. It delivers with ease, and it leaves me wanting more, in the right way. The focus is on Scully. And I’m glad. Even when certain comments are lewd and cringey, they’re justified by the nature of the characters that deliver those blows.
Many may differ in opinion on whether Scully may have had these doubts in the conversations had: about her looks, about her bringing this up to Mulder, about Judy’s comments hitting her the way they do. I will admit I asked my mom about this. I asked myself about this. I even asked female members of the show about this… and it’s hit and miss.
On the one hand, Scully is voicing her needs. She owns up to them in a way, even when trying to be coy about it or even insecure. On the other, such insecurities that try to give texture to the intended complexity that they want to build around her character and choices are a bit dissonant, as there’s a question of whether Scully would even entertain those insecurities.
Is it effective? Hmm. I’m not sure if we’re forcing it.
One could understand and make the argument that she’s fishing for answers, without having to confront head on a conversation about where they stand. Is it surreal that there’s even a question of which place they occupy in their lives? Yes. Logic tells you that there’s no room for other people in their lives. Many things have happened to them that questioning it is just silly, and proposing a normal life when they’re at the center of the possible demise of the world… is just plain unrealistic.
After an episode like this one, even if I hadn’t seen the next ones, I would tune in surely next week. But also, it proves that beyond doing fanservice, Carter can still write an episode that caters to his objectives as a storyteller while still giving the audience some morsel of reward. And these are good rewards. Not because we end up with Mulder and Scully in bed - and the gratuitous and juvenile gratification that brings a definite confirmation that Mulder and Scully are actually “doing it” - but instead, because the situation brings up the possibility of conversations that inform us of details of these characters and topics that are timely. (Even if the content of these conversations clashes with established facts discussed in the show, or even human biology.)
Granted, in this show, we’ve fallen into the bad habit of using Science to excuse many things. The part of the conversation in bed, where Mulder suggests that Scully could still have a child - whether naturally or using “science” - has a lot of implications.
One, you already had one child, that you had to give away, what makes you think that the next one would be any different? What has changed? Nothing has changed. Smoking man is still alive; the world is even worse, and… Chris Carter is opening an ugly door to an ugly room here. I already know what many of you are thinking. I’m with you. I dread the season finale.
Two, as Scully points out, William’s pregnancy was a miracle, and now she’s older. On top of that, may we remind everyone that she’s been subject to all sorts of experimentation that made several attempts to get pregnant a failure? See “Per Manum” if you don’t remember this one. It’s one thing to be hopeful, and another to try to fit some kind of narrative that I’m not sure anyone even wants anymore. Maybe back in season 9, when their story and canon elements hadn’t been beaten and gotten so complicated as the years went by. It would have made sense when they were on the run. It would have made “sense” even in IWTB. But right now? When - as she claims - the world is going to hell, and there’s just so much uncertainty? I don’t know, Chris Carter. Seems like a romanticized idea of what could have been, that the rational part of Scully would fight against.
At any rate, these criticisms don’t make me discard the episode. Even though these intimate conversations seem circular at times, for partners that have known each other now for 25 years, I celebrate that they’ve finally allowed this.
Tune in next week for “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” by Darin Morgan.