by Michelle Erica Green

I Want To Play

"Chinga" Plot Summary:

A woman enters a store with her daughter, who is carrying a doll. The doll's eyes snap open. People begin to tear their eyes out, and the butcher, who dials 911, stabs himself through the eye with a knife. In the same New England town, Scully is vacationing. She sees a man bleeding outside the store, goes in and starts asking questions. Mulder calls and suggests that an occult force may be behind the incident, but Scully rules out over two dozen possibilities and hangs up on him when he asks her to marry him.

A policeman, Jack, tells Scully that people say the mother, Melissa, is a witch. The dead butcher apparently had a crush on her. He reports that Melissa was widowed last year, and that her daughter Polly is apparently autistic, though she was thrown out of her day care center for attacking the teacher. Another policeman, Buddy, calls Melissa to warn her that people are talking about her and to tell her of the butcher's death. He points out that he can provide for her and pressures her to respond to his advances. While he talks, the little girl demands more cherries for her ice cream sundae; when the waitress refuses to get them, the doll's eyes spring open, and the waitress is scalped by the machine that churns the milkshakes.

Melissa admits that she can see deaths in advance, when the doll says "Let's have fun" or "I want to play"; she even saw her husband's death before it happened. She tries to flee with her daughter to a remote spot, but the daughter demands to go home, the doll speaks, and Melissa sees a vision of the day care teacher dead. The teacher hears the Hokey Pokey playing on her record player and cuts her own throat with a broken 45. Jack interrupts Scully's vacation to inform her.

Melissa is home, and Polly has the Hokey Pokey on her turntable when the doll's eyes spring open and Melissa sees a vision of Buddy's death. Sure enough, Buddy comes to see Melissa, accusing her of being a witch and calling Polly names. The doll's eyes pop open. Meanwhile, Scully and Jack share a lobster dinner and Jack points out the boat where Melissa's husband died. An old fisherman who was there tells Scully the story of how the father pulled the doll out of the sea in a lobster trap. The doll said, "I want to play"; shortly afterwards, the father was found with a grappling hook through his skull.

Mulder calls Scully again and Scully asks him what he knows about cursed fetishistic objects, but Mulder tells her that if a talking doll is scaring her, she should look for a little string at the base of the doll's neck. Scully hangs up on him. When Polly demands popcorn which her mother is taking too long to make beside the dead body of Buddy, Melissa sees a vision of herself dead. She reinforces her doors and windows with nails and prepares to burn the house down, but the doll won't let the matches ignite, nor will she let Melissa get a knife out of the drawer. Instead she unlocks the tool closet and has Melissa hit herself in the head repeatedly with a hammer. Scully and Jack burst in, and Scully demands that Polly give her the doll, which she incinerates in the microwave. Melissa stops hurting herself.

Back at the F.B.I., Mulder is wasting time awaiting Scully's return. She tells him she wants to get someone an "I Want To Believe" poster like his, and laughs when she realizes he's been up to nothing productive. Meanwhile, an old fisherman pulls a lobster trap out of the water in Maine and finds the burned doll.


Considering that this episode was written by the series' creator and one of the horror legends of our time - Chris Carter and Stephen King - it was surprisingly predictable and not very original. Most of the entertainment came from Mulder's telephoned interruptions - the most priceless being when he seemed to be watching a porno movie with people groaning and gasping, but he announced (truthfully) to Scully that it was "The World's Deadliest Swarms."

I was also impressed by the directing, which was less gory than I feared from the previews. But the possessed doll story wasn't as spooky as several I read as a child, and it was sort of a letdown to discover that the little girl was not after all The Bad Seed - that one killed her mother, which I guess is too controversial even for nighttime television. Besides, King already did it in Pet Sematery. He does evil kids very well; this one was merely an enigma. We never found out whether she knew what the doll was up to, nor why it took her so long to give the damn thing to Scully at the end.

It was impossible ever to take seriously the accusations that Melissa was a witch - she came across as passive and helpless, very difficult to like since she was so dumb - why didn't she take the doll and smash it, or dump it back in the lake? It was also difficult to believe in Polly's dead, idealized father considering the general dorkiness of the male population of the Maine town. It was all too easy to believe that Scully got caught up in the case, and lovely that she refused Mulder's help for the most part until she hit upon a question that only he could answer for her...though it was odd that she couldn't answer it herself, given the extraordinary knowledge of the occult which she seems to possess.

I loved seeing Mulder lost without Scully - one might hope he remembers that feeling more when she's around, and treats her appropriately. These two ironically often have the best chemistry when they're not in the same room or even in the same state. I'm sorry that Scully didn't get something more momentous to lose sleep over on her vacation - when Mulder works alone, the fate of the free world always seems to be at stake. But I'm glad she got some good food out of it at least.

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