by Michelle Erica Green

Good Cop, Insane Cop

"Hungry" Plot Summary:

At the Lucky Boy diner in Costa Mesa, an angry customer demands to be served at the drive-through, even though it's several minutes past closing. After initially refusing him service, the server takes his order. The man in the car hears strange noises inside the kitchen and sticks his head out the window to see what's going on. Something pulls him through his car window and into the restaurant, and the car rolls away.

Three days later, Rob Roberts comes to work, reciting, "You are your own man and you control everything you do." Mulder and Scully enter the restaurant, asking for the manager, who is surprised to learn that the body of Donald Pankau had a pin from the restaurant. Everyone at work has his or her own button, except stereotypical blond burnout Derwood Spinks, who says they only wear the pins on Fridays and he sure didn't leave his on some dead guy. When the agents make the employees gather outside, Spinks turns on the intercom, so everyone can hear the agents discussing the uncanny cleanliness of the kitchen of such a dive. Scully thinks they should check employee lockers, but Mulder thinks the killer had a compulsion. The victim's brain was removed through a small incision that looks like a bite. Outside, Roberts listens with a troubled expression.

At home, Roberts removes a bloody shirt from a tub and puts it in a garbage bag. Just then, there's a knock on the door. It's Mulder, who wants to know how Roberts keeps his apartment so clean. Mulder asks some questions about why Roberts stayed late Friday and whether he knows what happened to some meat that was supposed to be in a nearby dumpster. He hen notes that Roberts' lip is bleeding. The agent appears not to notice the bloody puddle forming by the garbage bag. As soon as Mulder leaves, Roberts throws the bag into the back of a waste disposal truck, then notices a man in a red car snooping across the street.

A mental health counselor leaves a message on Roberts' machine telling him that Lucky Boy has asked her to talk to all employees affected by the murder investigation. As she asks him to report to her office the next morning, Roberts removes his false teeth and hears his stomach growl. He sits chewing appetite suppressant gum as he watches a self-discipline tape about controlling food cravings. Reciting along with the tape, he reiterates, "You control everything you do." Presently, he approaches the red car outside and shows his fangs to the terrified driver.

Derwood Spinks wakes Roberts. Lucky Boy has just fired him because the murder investigation revealed that he did time in Chino for attempted murder. (According to Scully, Spinks is the main suspect). Having found Roberts' diet pills with a bloody cap at the crime scene, Spinks puts forth an extortion plan. He demands Roberts' TV, VCR, and money to keep his mouth shut. Just then, neighbor Sylvia knocks on the door, asking Roberts whether he knows anything about the man in the red car who was snooping the day before.

Mulder finds Roberts at his car, telling him he saw Spinks leaving the area. He's the prime suspect, but Mulder thinks he's innocent. Roberts denies having seen his former co-worker. The agent then asks about the padlock on the dumpster where the missing meat should have been dumped Friday night. Roberts rushes off to his appointment with the therapist, but has trouble answering her questions about his mental state when his stomach begins to growl. He asks what kind of monster would have murdered Pankau. Dr. Rinehart says she doesn't believe in monsters, just very scared people. Their conversation is interrupted by a call from Mulder, but the doctor won't tell him what he wants to know because it would violate patient confidentiality. Roberts flees to go to work.

Spinks comes in for his last paycheck, jokingly calling Roberts "killer" and suggesting that he used to do lewd things with the coleslaw. Later, Roberts breaks into Spinks' apartment to steal the pill bottle, but the only one he can find contains Spinks' own prescription. Coming in, Spinks steps on the bottle and picks up a baseball bat, realizing that Roberts is in his apartment. "The deal's off, buddy," he announces, believing that the FBI will give him a reward for turning in a sick freak like Roberts. Listening in a closet, Roberts removes his hair, eyes, and teeth. When Spinks finds him, Roberts sucks his brain out.

Visiting Dr. Rinehart once more, Roberts says he thinks he needs help because he has compulsions to eat. "It makes me feel like I'm not a good person," he explains. Rinehart says that he has low self-esteem and shows him his face in a mirror as proof that he's just like every other good person out there. She then hands him the address of Overeaters Anonymous. While the doctor is writing, Roberts' ear falls off. He replaces it and tells the oblivious therapist that he's trying to do right. At home, his stomach growls, and he pops more pills.

"You didn't tell me you had a friend in the FBI!" exclaims Sylvia as Roberts climbs the stairs. She told Mulder about the car, but he and Scully are more interested in asking Roberts if he knows what happened to Derwood Spinks. "He wouldn't tell me if he left town," hedges the suspect, but Mulder doesn't think Spinks did leave town. He thinks Spinks is dead, murdered by whomever killed Pankau. Mulder believes they are searching for a genetic freak, especially since Scully found a shark-type tooth at the crime scene. He also thinks the killer ate the missing ground meat in an attempt to avoid preying on humans. An incredulous Roberts asks why the agent is telling him all this nonsense. "I think you know," replies Mulder. "Watch out for that monster."

At the Overeaters Anonymous meeting, a heavy woman is discussing her urge for devil's food when Roberts enters. He discovers Sylvia in the crowd, and with her encouragement, he gets up to introduce himself. He describes his cravings, "salty and juicy, kind of buttery, your teeth just sink into it." The crowd is entertained, but Roberts can think only about the brain underneath the skull of a bald man in the front row. When they return home, Sylvia tells Roberts how her ex-husband said she was too fat to sit in his sports car. He tells her goodnight, but his stomach compels him to knock on her door and remove his teeth.

The next morning Roberts watches the garbage truck dump his trash, which includes a poorly hidden body. He takes Spinks' baseball bat and trashes his apartment, then shouts for the neighbors to call the police. When Mulder asks Roberts about the bat, the killer admits that he lied. He had seen Spinks the morning after the murder, but Spinks threatened to kill Roberts if he told anyone the truth. According to Roberts, the other employee had offered to close for him, but Roberts realized he had forgotten to turn in the key to the dumpster and gone back. Inside, he saw Spinks cleaning blood. Mulder nods, then produces a flyer with a picture of the missing man, who turns out to be a private investigator hired by Sylvia's ex-husband to spy on her. And now she's missing, too. "We'll track her down," assures the agent.

Dr. Rinehart drops in on Roberts to see how he is. Acting evasive, he says he's going to a friend's house and that he's quitting Lucky Boy so she doesn't have to worry about him anymore. Moreover, the Overeaters Anonymous meeting was a waste of time because maybe some people have a biological imperative to overeat. Maybe he has a biological imperative. "Why is that such a bad thing?" he wonders. Rinehart says it sounds like he's tired of feeling guilty. As Roberts walks out the door, she adds, "You killed that man, didn't you? That's why you feel so guilty." Though she says she hasn't told anyone of her suspicions, she wants him to turn himself in and get help. Outside, police sirens wail.

"You don't know what you're talking about...you don't believe in monsters," Roberts reminds Rinehart, removing his hair, eyes, and false teeth. "How about now?" he asks, grabbing her by the throat. But the doctor's reply is unexpectedly sad and heartfelt. "You poor man," she says. "What you must go through." Mulder and Scully burst in, demanding that Roberts step away, while the doctor urges him to "be that good person I know you mean to be." Instead Roberts rushes at Mulder, who shoots in self-defense. As he dies, Roberts whispers, "I can't be something I'm not."


If I were trying to analyze this episode according to its own logic, the equation would go something like: 1) Roberts has an eating compulsion. 2) Overeaters have an eating compulsion. 3) Roberts has a biological imperative causing his eating compulsion. 4) Overeaters have a biological imperative causing their eating compulsion. 5) Roberts can't resist his urges and become a good person, so instead he acts like a destructive psychopath. 6) Overeaters can't...

Okay, let's forget that. I mean, it's not even clear that Roberts is human, though Mulder theorized that he was a genetic freak. Still, pairing this with the fat vampire episode, I am starting to get the impression that the writers at Ten-Thirteen hate overweight people and the people who identify with them.

As monster of the week episodes go, this one was reasonably engrossing despite the fact that we knew ten minutes in who the murderer was. In addition, we knew before the halfway point that he wasn't quite like the rest of us. I am sure the psychiatrist would complain about this characterization - the poor man was just different, not a monster. Uh-huh. I'm sure that will make the families of Pankau and Sylvia and even Spinks feel a lot better. Maybe I have been spoiled by Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who would probably have gone to buy some cow brains from the local butcher if it were brains rather than blood he craved. I'm sure they don't taste as good, but if Angel could give up pretty young girls for day-old cows, and if I could give up Haagen-Dazs for Breyers Lite, I think Roberts should be able to handle some second-rate sweetmeats. Does that make me judgmental? Oh dear.

Obviously, I had trouble taking the episode seriously; therefore, I had trouble feeling anything about it. Barely present Scully stuck to stick-in-the-mud rationalism, while Mulder was in know-it-all paranormal mode. Both had a couple of funny lines in this quasi-tragedy, but nothing could top Roberts' "This is like good cop, insane cop!" It's surprising that no one has ever made that accusation before. Then again, it's common for Scully to sound insane when she tries to be the voice of reason, and for Mulder to be treated as the good cop when he offers a theory that would get him laughed off most police forces. I'd think that after chasing aliens and learning of a global epidemic threat, finding small-town monsters would be as boring as the drug traffic cases dumped on the duo when they were removed from the X-Files.
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