by Michelle Erica Green

Did Colossus Leave X-Men For X-Files?

"Salvage" Plot Summary:

Nora Pearce weeps to her late husband's colleague Curt Delario that she believes Ray died of Gulf War Syndrome, and she wants to make whoever is responsible pay. When he leaves her house, Delario's car strikes and splits around a man standing in the road. It's Ray Pearce, who smashes the window and rams his fingers through Delario's skull. Scully later finds footprints and wonders if a man stopped Delario's car, but Doggett thinks that's ridiculous. However, an analysis of blood and prints at the scene point to the deceased Pearce. Doggett also learns that Ray's body was never cremated.

From his new home in a veterans' rehab hospital, Pearce goes to Southside Salvage, where he used to work with Delario. He kills paper-shredding boss Harry O'Dell after the man blasts Pearce's arm off with a shotgun. Back at the hospital, Pearce grows a new limb and facial scabs made of metal. When Doggett studies O'Dell's shredded papers, he discovers an invoice for Chamber Technologies -- a company doing speculative work on "smart metals" that could reshape themselves to their original forms after being crushed. Dr. Puvogel says his predecessor Dr. Clifton wouldn't have dealt with waste metal, as his work was entirely conceptual.

A sympathetic V.A. hospital social worker calls Nora Pearce to tell her she believes Ray is alive. Meanwhile, Scully and Doggett wait with armed officers at Chamber Technologies, where they correctly surmise Pearce will come to kill Puvogel. The doctor traps Pearce in a pressurized chamber with a metal door four inches thick, but Pearce rips out the back of the chamber, leaving behind blood that turns to metal. Back at the hospital, Nora Pearce confronts Ray, begging to help him. He says he wants to make whoever is responsible pay.

Doggett finds a Chamber Technologies canister at Southside Salvage. Inside is a man made entirely of metal, along with contaminated waste water. Dr. Puvogel admits that the body is Dr. Clifton, who was poisoned by the metal alloy he created. Puvogel has no idea how the barrel got shipped to a salvage yard rather than a hazardous waste site, nor how Pearce "caught" the condition. But Nora Pearce sneaks into the building to discover just that. Back at home, Ray makes his wife name the person who had the canister shipped to Southside Salvage. When she gets free, a remorseful Nora tells the police she named Owen Harris, the accountant who authorized the shipment.

Pearce tears Harris out of his car, but the accountant's son's screams get through Pearce's metal skull. When Scully and Doggett arrive, they find Harris safe with his family. Ray Pearce has gone to a scrap yard where he has himself compacted inside a station wagon.


If The X-Men's Colossus were a villain instead of a good guy, and if he insisted on finding someone to blame for his metal-producing powers, he might be sort of like Ray Pearce. "Salvage" starts with a wife vowing vengeance on her husband's killers, and ends with her trying to save them from his murderous impulses. It's rather ironic that the government for once is innocent, falsely accused of getting him sick during the Gulf War, but it's never clear how she saw him wither and die when he's stronger than ever before. Nor is it clear whether the metal actually warps Pearce, as Scully surmises, or if it simply allows him to release rage he's been harboring since the war.

Much of "Salvage" doesn't hang together. Ray kills his former colleagues in a grotesque manner with no reason to believe they were directly responsible for his condition; then he kills a social worker just for being in the wrong place, though he takes the time to suffocate her slowly rather than sticking his fingers through her skull as he did with his previous victims. I'm not sorry we were spared additional gore, but there's a little too much cinematic pleasure taken in her drawn-out death, her bulging eyes and pulsing temples.

SciFi's Invisible Man looks more believable as someone with metal in his bloodstream than does Ray. The makeup's mediocre, and the whole episode feels exploitative. Scully sounds like a cheap imitation of Mulder harping on the fact that they may not be dealing with an ordinary man, while the Irresponsible Corporate Scientists can't hold a candle to the cigarette manufacturers from "Brand X."

Doggett does some good detective work while Scully's stuck doing autopsies, but his accent keeps shifting from New York to Deep South, and he's starting to sound irresponsible when he dismisses Scully's evidence on his own belief in its implausibility. Thus it's kind of fun for a moment when Doggett expects Pearce to break through the pressure chamber door and kill him, before Scully realizes they missed the guy running out the back exit. The line we're all supposed to howl about is the one where Doggett scoffs that there's no such thing as a metal man -- Robert Patrick became famous as one in Terminator 2, which undoubtedly contributed to his getting this role.

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