"Chimera" Plot Summary:
At an Easter egg hunt in Vermont, hostess Martha Crittenden turns up her lip at the presence of a sleazily-dressed woman named Jenny. A few minutes later, Martha's daughter Michelle is frightened by a raven. That night, Martha sees a raven inside her house. Then her mirror shatters, and a malevolent creature pursues her while she screams. Skinner calls Mulder away from a stakeout with Scully to put him on the case, though Mulder believes it's because Crittenden's father is a judge rather than because of the potential supernatural angle. Still, when Mulder arrives and finds scratches from raven talons on the mantle, he starts to suspect it's an X-file, even though local sheriff Phil Adderly insists otherwise, and Martha's husband has found evidence that his wife was having an affair.
Both Martha and her best friend Ellen, Phil's wife, have immaculate houses. Jenny expresses contempt for Ellen when she asks for help passing out posters about Martha's disappearance. Then Ellen sees a reflection of the creature in a car window just before it shatters, furthering Mulder's belief that the ravens represent the presence of a spirit. Later, Howard Crittenden sees ravens in his backyard and discovers Martha's decomposing body. Mulder agrees with Phil that Howard is innocent, but wants to question any enemies Martha might have had. He and Phil approach Jenny, who says they should concentrate on finding Martha's secret lover, rather than implying that Jenny had anything to do with the other woman's death. When Scully calls to complain about being stuck in a freezing apartment watching prostitutes and drug addicts, Mulder says his suburban assignment is just as repugnant under the surface.
While cleaning her immaculate house, Ellen finds a key that looks just like a key Howard Crittenden found among his wife's belongings. Then she hears a raven in her baby's room, sees the creature, and hides in a closet, where Phil finds her. The sheriff asks Mulder not to disturb his wife with questions about supernatural creatures, and says he thinks his wife broke the mirrors in her grief over Martha. Mulder finds the key Ellen dropped earlier and gives it to Phil in the hope that he can track down the lock it opens. But it turns out that Phil already knows: he sneaks out late at night to share a hotel bungalow with Jenny. Ellen makes Mulder breakfast, telling him housework gives her the illusion of control and suggesting that he have a family as a refuge from the unpleasant aspects of his job.
When Phil comes in claiming he worked all night, Mulder asks whether the sheriff knew that Martha Crittenden was pregnant when she died. "Just say what's on your mind, Agent," sighs Phil. Mulder demands a piece of evidence back - the key - but by the time he reaches the hotel bungalow, Jenny has been found murdered, with the ceiling mirror shattered.
In custody, Phil tells Mulder that Jenny and Martha each knew he was having an affair with the other, but Ellen didn't know about either - and if she had, she'd have found a way to rationalize it. He wanted to divorce Ellen years earlier but she got pregnant. Phil asks Mulder earnestly if the agent really believes the ravens and an evil spirit could have been summoned, and whether Phil himself might have done so without even knowing it. Mulder goes to tell Ellen what has happened, stopping on the way to take a call from Scully, who says their mystery "serial killer" was actually a missionary taking prostitutes to a safe house. "Right under our noses," Mulder muses, as Ellen Adderly discovers a shard from Jenny's mirror embedded in her shoulder.
Through the bedroom door, Mulder tells Ellen that her husband is in custody for murder, but he might be innocent. Then he asks where Ellen went after breakfast that morning. "It's not me," she says. Yet Mulder insists that she has a side she's afraid to face; it's why she shatters mirrors, so she doesn't have to face herself. Sobbing that her marriage and her life is all a lie, Ellen transforms and attacks Mulder, nearly drowning him in the bathtub before returning to herself and cowering on the floor. Later, in a psychiatric ward, she's still cowering, staring at the ravens outside her window while Mulder explains to Phil that his wife wanted a perfect life and went berserk as a way to protect her family.
Ah, another of those heartwarming X-Files episodes like "Home" and "Arcadia," which suggest that there is nothing more terrifying than traditional domestic bliss, especially given how scary and psychotic most women really are under the surface. I'm sure many 'shippers were amused by the exchange when Ellen asked Mulder whether he had a significant other and Mulder replied, "Not in any widely understood definition of that term," but I found it exemplary of what's wrong not only of Mulder and Scully's relationship but all relationships on this series. Seems like the main problem is that most suburban housewives are neat-freak psychopaths who obsess over their homes, husbands and kids until it drives them to supernatural distraction, whereas most suburban men can't handle the burden of familial expectation so they lie, cheat, and occasionally commit murder. Fortunately for men, life is like Fatal Attraction, where it's wrong to cheat but it's also obviously the fault of your overly perfect wife and your nasty-girl mistress if you do.
Scully spent her minimal screen time in Full Whine Mode - I guess it was supposed to be amusing to hear her wailing that Mulder left her working on a murder case in a cold room surrounded by low-lifes, but I sort of prefer the overly serious, naive woman who went secret agenting with Cancer Man a few weeks back. She cracked the case, which Mulder had believed would turn up a serial murderer, but actually turned up a cross-dressing van-driving Jesus freak - now that IS funny. And despite her whining, I wanted to hear Scully's take on Ellen Adderly, whom Mulder pop-psychoanalyzed as a woman who fell apart when her life wasn't perfect. You know, there's imperfect, and then there's hell with a spineless serial adulterer with the entire police force to back up his alibis. It's bad enough that in these Fatal Attraction-type fantasies, the women punish the other women and eventually themselves, but let the guys walk away with their gonads intact. Must we watch a Fox Mulder who seems to be sympathetic to the Phil Adderlys of the world?
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