Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun
"Fight Club" Plot Summary:
Betty Templeton has just moved to Kansas City when two Bible-toting evangelists beat each other up, then implicate her in their fight. Two FBI agents sent to investigate try to kill one another. In Washington, Mulder shows Scully slides from the incident, saying he's not suggesting anything supernatural yet but it's odd that two people who have worked together for seven years would suddenly lose control around one another.
"They are not romantically involved, if you're wondering," he adds, to which Scully responds, "Not even I would be so farfetched." Learning that there are two third parties involved, Scully immediately guesses something to do with twinning, corporeal likeness from spirit world or doubles conjured into the physical world. An impressed Mulder smiles, but tells her not to think he's going to start doing autopsies.
Both Templeton and her doppelganger Lulu Pfeiffer get a job in Koko's Copy Shops after listing nearly identical employment histories, 17 jobs in 17 states. Mulder and Scully spot a photo in the newspaper of a wrestler named Burt Zupanic with the woman they assume is Betty, but he says he doesn't know any Betty Templeton. However, he dated a very similar woman who lived in a very similar house. Later, Zupanic goes to Froggy's Bar where he meets Templeton and, thinking she's Pfeiffer, orders her favorite drink. She says it's like he's reading her soul, which makes him think she's already had too much alcohol. Just as she introduces herself, Pfeiffer walks in. The whole place shakes, and bottles explode. Templeton sneaks out with Zupanic.
Mulder sits in a Kansas City auditorium with Argyle Saperstein, a fight promoter who says the mystery woman is Zupanic's good luck charm. Mulder says all they need to do is stick around, eat barbecue, and maybe go to a museum while they wait to find Templeton at the next fight. Scully insists that they need to find both women right away, as the two appear to have been trailing one another for years, leaving mayhem, house fires and riots in their wake. As soon as the agents leave, Saperstein calls Zupanic, demanding his money for the fight. Zupanic gets out of bed with Templeton, who rushes to the bathroom, but Pfeiffer knocks on his door to accuse him of two-timing her. Only the presence of a hairpin in his bed, which she believes is her own, calms her down. After Pfeiffer goes, Templeton emerges, but gunshots tear the ceiling.
Templeton goes out to lunch and bumps into Zupanic. She goes to the bathroom, the place starts shaking, then Pfeiffer comes in. Zupanic tries to keep the two women apart, but they see one another, and bottles begin to explode. When they leave, Zupanic is unconscious on the floor, and Saperstein has stolen the suitcase containing his money for the fight. He comes to with Mulder and Scully standing over him, lamenting the loss of his good luck charm. "Would that be Betty or Lulu?" asks Scully, warning him that the women caused the destruction and will cause more if they're not found.
Mulder goes to one Koko's Copies looking for Templeton while Scully goes to the other looking for Pfeiffer. Each claims the other tried to ruin her life and says she won't leave Kansas. Once he follows Templeton out, Mulder calls Scully, then sees Pfeiffer driving down the same road. "Oh crap," he barely has time to gasp before a manhole cover opens and he is dragged underground. When Scully arrives and can't find Mulder, she goes into the copy shop and asks whether she can get internet access from there.
At the Kansas City penitentiary, Scully awakens the angriest man in the world. Though he warns her that they could electrocute him quicker than she talks, she manages to explain that he may be the biological father of both Templeton and Pfeiffer via a sperm bank. For everyone's safety, she wants information about his mother and father, but he will say only that a big ugly dog lifted its leg on his family tree. Meanwhile Zupanic explains first to Templeton, then to Pfeiffer, that he is desperate for cash so he can fight that night. Both women agree to help, and head off to make photocopies of hundred-dollar bills.
When Mulder emerges from the manhole, he calls and learns from Scully that Betty and Lulu are non-fraternal siblings from same father's sperm. Mulder says he's headed to the fight to keep the women apart. Scully turns around inside the jail to see Burt Zupanic's double in a nearby cell. At the fight club, Templeton brings the counterfeit cash to Zupanic, who gives it to Saperstein. As an opponent in a black superhero suit begins to wrestle Burt "The Titanic," Mulder arrives to isolate Templeton. But he can't get her out before Pfeiffer spots her, and a riot erupts, with everyone hitting everyone else. Mulder sees Scully enter with Zupanic's double and for a moment it seems that harmony may reign, as both women redirect their attention to the new man, but Zupanic roars at the sight of his doppelganger and the audience erupts again while the two matched sets attack one another. The Titanic goes down.
Scully talks to Saperstein about how rare it is for sperm banks to encounter problems such as the idiosyncratic rage passed on to both Zupanic and his brother and to Templeton and Pfeiffer. Both sets of "twins" had different mothers but the same fathers. Scully wishes she could tell Saperstein that the doubling effect stemmed from a need for balance in the universe or from nature only being able to produce so many originals, but she really doesn't have a good explanation for the phenomenon that caused her two black eyes. Mulder, who has had his jaw wired shut, can't state a theory either.
A deliciously guilty pleasure, this episode offers catfights, wrestling, trashed bars, mass riots, and the second fake Mulder/Scully lookalike pair in as many episodes. "Fight Club" contains more belly laughs than "Hollywood A.D." and is sure to please 'shippers more as well. There's no question that Mulder intends for Scully to note the similarities between their partnership and the two agents who tried to kill each other in Kansas, so it's hard to tell whether her dry respose to his observation about the other couple's lack of romantic involvement is meant as a straight observation on the likelihood of Bureau romance, or a suggestion that THAT couldn't happen twice.
In terms of magnetic allure, opposites are supposed to attract. But matter and antimatter annihilate one another, while identical particles do fine, as long as they're not trying to exist in the same space at the same time. Though we get to see a lot of mayhem in the episode, we do not get any suggestion that Mulder or Scully caused the other's injuries - just that they got caught in the middle, since they were in among the four doppelgangers. I guess some attachments are stronger than the power of evil twins.
Though "Fight Club" wasn't a sophisticated example of doubling in terms of using one actor to play two people, there were many visual and verbal jokes about the theme of duplication. The two women work in a copy shop (whose name, Koko, is a double syllable). The shop has a two-for-one discount in effect. The setting is reinforced by having the song "Kansas City" playing in Froggy's, and by the near-identical houses, cars, clothes, etc. of the non-sisters. Even the furious father roars, "What's so special about you?" when Scully introduces herself, a reminder that she's just another agent. Curious that at the start of the episode, Scully demonstrated her ability to duplicate Mulder's thought process about the case.
The twinning theme is a time-honored literary and film staple - King Lear, Tale of Two Cities, The Man in the Iron Mask, in addition to the Good and Bad Kirk, the evil Spock with a beard, and the two Lazaruses on the original Star Trek, to name a very few. The visceral hatred Betty and Lulu have for one another is a little bizarre - I was hoping that at the end, the two of them would realize how much they have in common and turn against two-timer Zupanic - but sisterly bonding was not to be.
The X-Files Reviews