by Michelle Erica Green

Wink of an Eye

"Rush" Plot Summary:

Tony Reed, an honor student at Adams High in Virginia, drives the family car late at night into a No Trespassing zone. "Max?" he calls when he stops. "You're late, kid," answers Max, who has brought his girlfriend Chastity. The girl jokes that it's past Tony's bedtime and says the new boy isn't cut out for this. Tony says he is, vowing silence no matter what happens. "Even if someone dies tonight?" Max demands.

Just then, a police car pulls up. Max and Chastity vanish. The deputy, Ron Foster, has Tony put his hands on the vehicle. Then Foster suddenly vanishes. "Officer?" Tony calls. He finds the flashlight on the ground covered in blood looks up and sees the policeman inside his patrol car with his face smashed in.

At St. Jude's Hospital, Scully meets Mulder to ask why a kid's murder of a cop has attracted attention from the X-Files team. Even if Tony claimed there was an invisible assailant, she thinks it's obvious the kid just panicked. Mulder takes her to see the body of Foster, who was killed by a single, incredibly violent blow to the head that pushed the man's eyeglasses clear through his skull. "Tony eats his Wheaties," deadpans Scully, observing that drugs or adrenaline could have given the boy the strength for the blow. The toxicology report is negative. But the local sheriff comes in to ask when Mulder and Scully are leaving, saying it's an open and shut case: Tony killed Ron Foster.

Mulder takes Scully to talk to the boy, who says he's not talking anymore. Tony makes sarcastic comments about Mulder's age, complaining about the number of cops trying to relate to him in the hope that he'll confess. Mulder asks Tony to bear with them because they're old and stupid, but he doesn't buy the boy's story that he was the only one present at the murder scene. Tony asks to be returned to his cell. Scully agrees with her partner that the boy may be innocent - he hasn't even tried to come up with a reasonable cover story for himself - but she insists that Tony may be covering for someone, not something. Mulder notes that historically, the turmoil of adolescence has attracted poltergeists, but agrees with Scully that they should start by checking out Tony's live friends.

Max enters his physics classroom with less than a minute to complete the midterm. "I don't care who your father is," hisses the teacher, promising to flunk Max, but Max fills out the midterm sheet in the blink of an eye. As the bell rings, the teacher checks the answers, discovering that they are all correct. In the hallway of the school, Scully approaches Chastity, who tells the agent she doesn't think Tony killed the policeman. "He could go to prison for life," Scully warns, but Max interrupts to remind his girlfriend that they don't have to say anything. Mulder observes that Max has the same last name as the sheriff - his father, Max admits, though he won't say why he cares about Tony.

The FBI agents are called to the station by the sheriff, who wants their help figuring out how the murder weapon vanished from a locker that was under constant guard. Without the flashlight, he has no case against Tony Reed. Mulder finds some odd gum-like substance on the floor, then observes a funny glitch on the surveillance videotape of the locker room. He has Chuck at the bureau check out the tape. Chuck determines that there was no ghost. He can find no aura and the anomaly casts a shadow. Since it only appears for one-thirtieth of a second, Chuck borrows sophisticated imaging equipment to assign colors to the black and white tape. Mulder recognizes the Adams High colors in the streaky image.

Meanwhile, Tony's mother orders him to be straight with her, telling him that he's not allowed to see his new friends anymore. She also says that they moved to this town to get away from the bad influences from his old neighborhood. She reminds her son that she works two jobs for him, but Tony only rolls his eyes. A sound from outside attracts his attention. It's Max, who takes him for a ride. Max praises his new friend for keeping his mouth shut, indicating that Tony has passed some sort of test. "Slow down!" Tony begs as the car speeds up, but Max says he ain't seen nothin' yet. Then he smashes the car into a telephone pole, pulling Tony free to stand safely at the side of the road. "I'm going to make you one of us, but I call the shots - always remember that," warns the sheriff's son.

At school, Tony asks Chastity how Max does what he does. "You'll find out," she replies. In physics class, Max defends Tony when the kids stare at the accused murderer. Then Max gets his midterm back with an F as the grade, and the teacher accuses him of cheating. In the lunchroom after class, the teacher trips. Max grins. His body blurs for a moment, then the teacher gasps in pain as blood spatters his face. In another blur, the teacher is hurled into a wall and killed by a flying chair.

Looking at the horrific scene, Scully says that she has no theories about what happened, but Mulder does - he spots the same goo on the floor from the police station and guesses that Max killed the teacher. Scully is willing to concede that adolescent hormonal upheaval might be giving Max some strange physical abilities, but she raises her eyebrows when Mulder suggests paranormal abilities. Before they can argue, however, the deputy interrupts to tell Mulder that the sheriff's son has collapsed in the parking lot.

Although Chastity tells Tony that the less he knows, the better, he follows her past the No Trespassing signs to a cave in the woods. Inside, he steps into a patch of light, and his body begins to shake until it blurs. Mulder and Scully head to the hospital to see Max, but the sheriff tries to throw them out and refuses to allow them to search his house. He appears to be listening when Mulder asks Max if he has a problem with authority and glares at his son when Scully says the boy's symptoms are consistent with extreme exertion and drug withdrawal. "You need another fix, you're getting worse, and we're not going to be able to help you if you don't tell us what's going on," she warns. The sheriff warns his son that this had better not be true.

While Scully and Mulder look at Max's charts, Chastity sneaks into his room and gets him out of the hospital. The medical evidence shows repeated concussions, muscle tears, arthritis, and other indications of years of physical trauma. "What Max is doing is killing him." Mulder sees gobs of goo on Max's shoes and guesses that he's getting an extreme form of speed, which enables him to move faster than the human eye can see. Scully says it's impossible for a human body to move like that, but Mulder believes the charts prove just that.

Chastity warns Max the he must stop, because he's hurting too many people. But Max says he can't slow down and neither can she. Later, she tells Tony she didn't want this fate for him, but Tony's main concern is finding a way to stop Max. Searching his son's room, the sheriff discovers the flashlight used to murder his deputy. Downstairs, a door slams, and Max seizes the flashlight, saying "Boo" to his father from across the room. "You killed Ron Foster. You little son of a bitch," says the sheriff. But Max retorts that the deputy liked to push people around, same as the sheriff. Max blurs and hits his father in the stomach, leaving the man prostrate. Then, Tony bursts in before the boy can make another move. Holding his father's gun to Max's temple, Tony says, "I can't let you do this anymore."

At the hospital where the sheriff is being treated, Mulder chases Scully down a hallway to show her the flashlight. He believes someone intervened before Max could kill his father - someone who knows how Max does what he does. "...and is finally standing up to him," he adds. Guessing that the deputy got too close to the secret, Mulder and Scully head out toward the cave, where Chastity and Tony are already racing to arrive ahead of Max. They are too late, and Chastity is unconscious on the ground by the time Tony stumbles in. "I wanted you to be my friend...now I'm going to mess you up," threatens Max, dropping his gun to hurt Tony with his bare hands. But Chastity moves in a blur, grabs the gun, shoots Max from behind through the heart, then walks around him at high-speed to take the same bullet through her own chest. "I'm sorry, Tony, I can't go back," she says.

Mulder and Scully find Tony crying over Chastity's body and take him to the hospital, where they learn he will recover from his injuries. Mulder tells Scully that a team of geologists found nothing unusual in the cave - no vortex, no relics. This prompts Scully to observe that she and her partner did not experience anything unusual even though they went in the cave. "I wonder if we're too old," says Mulder, reminding her of the adolescent biochemical changes she said were affecting Max. Now that the cave has been sealed, they will never know. At least, says Mulder, Tony will go back to being a normal kid. The "normal kid" watches the clock as it moves interminably slowly from one minute to the next.


The adolescent angst routine gets a bit overdone, as do the Matrix-type high-speed effects. Still, I liked this episode on a performance level. The kids playing Tony, Max, and Chastity all did a terrific job with their material, while Anderson and Duchovny had some very sweet moments that seemed less contrived than last week's kiss. I particularly liked Scully begging, "For me," when she wanted to question Tony's friends before looking for ghosts. Mulder's perturbed reaction when reminded of his own age was pretty amusing as well.

Still, it's obvious that the writers of this series are Mulder's age rather than Max's. I got a kick out of his "No One Here Gets Out Alive" poster, but Jim Morrison groupies are old fogies by the standards of Dawson's Creek denizens. Max's pubescent rage needed some specific motivation for his character to be compelling. I expected Scully to discover that he had been abused when she looked at his charts, but we got no indication that his father did anything other than make the same sort of parental demands that Tony's overworked mother made on him.

The parents weren't precisely sympathetic, but they certainly weren't villains - nor was the physics teacher. Chastity was a token passive girlfriend character, making comments about how she can't help Tony because she can't even help herself, the sort of good-girl-gone-bad who always dies horribly in teen agony flicks. Why in heck did she get Max out of the hospital if she was so afraid of what he was becoming? I can't complain about the don't-do-drugs theme but it wasn't terribly subtle.

On the other hand, I really liked the use of music and lighting in "Rush," and the flying furniture in the lunchroom scene was quite compelling. High-speed technology sure has come a long way since Star Trek's "Wink of an Eye." I guess I'd say that I liked the episode but I'm not sure where to rank it in terms of quality...somewhere in the middle, with bonus points for not even trying to explain how the strange power worked.

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