Mulder and His Aliens Are Back, Or Are They?
"This Is Not Happening" Plot Summary:
In Montana, Richie Szalay from "Requiem" follows a UFO. His camera runs out of film as it lands; he wails, "This is not happening!" Believing he sees an alien, he races down a hill and falls on top of the body of a woman. The next morning, Skinner gives Scully a report. The woman Ritchie found is Theresa Hausey -- the young mother who was abducted the night before Mulder. Skinner, Scully and Doggett rush to the hospital in Montana, where a doctor warns them that Theresa is in no shape to talk to them; she's been horribly mistreated. Scully sees evidence of alien experiments, but Doggett has another suspect: whoever made the Nike tracks found where Ritchie says he saw an alien.
Scully has a nightmare about Mulder being tortured and wakes Skinner, tearfully reminiscing about her former partner. Meanwhile, in the hospital, Theresa's Nike-soled doctor shape-shifts into Jeremiah Smith. When Doggett learns Theresa has vanished, he calls on Monica Reyes, a specialist in ritualistic crime with a master's degree in religious studies who once worked with him on a case. Reyes says Theresa's injuries bear some similarities to cult abuse, and hypothesizes that perhaps the true believers whom Scully believes were abducted actually came together in a like-minded group. Scully is aghast Reyes thinks Mulder joined a cult like Heaven's Gate and storms away. But Doggett believes that if they can find such a cult leader, they may find Mulder; he warns that if Scully is going to start in about alien bounty hunters, this is where they'll part company. Scully tells him to enjoy his new company.
In a group home, Jeremiah heals Theresa in front of witnesses. Scully runs into Reyes at the hospital and relaxes a bit around the other woman when Reyes says she doesn't disbelieve UFO experiences, she just doesn't think it happened in this case. Though she was the black sheep in her New Orleans office because of her spiritual beliefs, Reyes has never found evidence of actual Satanic ritual abuse in her own work. "We should talk sometime," Scully says wryly, agreeing to keep an open mind when Reyes says she can feel Scully's fear. That night, Reyes sees the UFO, and follows it to the same field where Theresa appeared. Jeremiah is there with a man from the group home. They find Mulder and drive away with him before Reyes arrives. She finds a man lying nearby in the grass.
Scully performs an autopsy on Gary Edward Corey, Ritchie's friend who was abducted around the same time as Mulder. She has to stop recording when she starts to cry. Doggett tells Reyes he doesn't know how she can do it with all she's feeling; Reyes says he knows all too well, because he had the same fear during the three days when they searched together for Doggett's son, "fear of finding what we did." Doggett admits that's why he's so determined to find Mulder alive, and why he "can't stand to listen to mumbo jumbo about spaceships," but Reyes insists she says she saw what she saw.
Absalom, the man with Jeremiah Smith, turns out to be a millennial doomsday cult leader who turned to credit card fraud when 2000 arrived without the Apocalypse. They trace his truck to a nearby farm. Jeremiah arrives before the FBI, saying, "You can't let them find him." Then the three agents arrive with Skinner and armed troops, creating chaos as cult followers try to hide. Scully discovers Theresa alive and completely healed. When she and Doggett question Absalom, he says his predictions of an alien invasion were correct, and that he just wants to help people. She asks about the video cameras all over his compound and wants to know if he has video of how he healed Theresa, or Mulder. He denies ever having seen Mulder.
That night Scully sees a ghostly image of Mulder in her hotel room. When Reyes comes to find her, she tells the other woman. Reyes has been looking at tapes from the compound and shows them Jeremiah Smith, whom Scully recognizes. Then she sees him changing his shape into Doggett's. Back at the compound, Scully finds a man in Nikes and demands to know whether he's Jeremiah Smith. He says that if she exposes him, she will put abductees in danger all over the country, because he's the only one who can save them. She asks where Mulder is; Jeremiah says that before she came crashing in, he was trying to help Mulder too.
Just then Skinner comes to say that Scully had better come with them. Doggett tries to stop her from seeing what they have found. It's Mulder, horribly wounded. Doggett says it's too late to help him, but Scully races for Jeremiah. As she runs, she sees the spaceship hover over the compound. Inside, cult members and agents alike are terrified. She rushes into the room where she left Jeremiah, but he has been taken. Scully falls to her knees, crying, "This is not happening."
Last things first: I believe Mulder is dead now about as much as I believed it at the end of the fourth season in "Gethsemane." Which is to say that I believe it about as much as I believed Spock would stay dead on Star Trek. Which is to say that I believe it, well, not at all. So I'm not crying too much over Fox, though those facial wounds do look horrific. Maybe I'm in denial, but television teaches viewers to live in perpetual denial because they constantly bring back the dead, so I abdicate responsibility.
Next things next: Whatever happens with this franchise, whether the show gets cancelled and there's a movie or whether we're subjected to another Mulder-less year of television, I want Monica Reyes to stick around. I like her so much better than any of Mulder's flaky New Age friends we've seen in the past, even the women in "all things." She and Scully have wonderful screen chemistry both when Scully's seething at her and when they're trying to come to an understanding, and she's interesting with both Doggett and Skinner too. Plus she makes possible bombshells like the one she dropped about Doggett's son, which we've known was coming since "Invocation" but still felt like a kick in the stomach, and did more to humanize Doggett than anything else since he joined the show.
Pretty sad, huh, that people have to have suffered personal tragedies as great as Mulder's and Scully's to generate as much empathy. Thus I don't understand how Doggett can be both the sympathetic guy who understands Scully's as afraid to find Mulder as she is desirous, yet make snide comments when Scully asks about whether foreign objects were found in Theresa Hausey's body -- a perfectly logical question under the circumstances even for non-UFO believers, as Reyes later confirms.
I had a funny reaction to the scene where Scully cries on Skinner's shoulder after her nightmare about Mulder's torture. That monologue she gives about starlight is the sort of thing she would once have said in a diary-like voice-over, in an episode like "Emily" or "all things." Now that she's feeling horribly vulnerable, she shares those thoughts with Skinner. How come we so rarely saw her share such feelings with Mulder when he was there for her? Despite her accusations that Reyes seems more interested in therapy than solving the case, Scully warms up to her pretty quickly too -- a dramatic difference from how she's acted with Doggett, whom she probably would have castrated if he ever suggested Mulder had joined Heaven's Gate. I wouldn't complain about a Scully who's more open to people, but why now?
I must admit that I have lost track of where we are with Jeremiah Smith, the miracle healer from "Talitha Cumi" who turned out to be one of many clones at the Social Security Administration keeping track of the biological bar codes given to people along with their smallpox vaccines. I thought the Alien Bounty Hunter killed the original, but given the staggering convolution of the mythology arc at this point, I'm perfectly willing to buy his reappearance, though if he was working for the Good Aliens when the Bad Alien Bounty Hunter was stalking them, how come he now has connections to the aliens who have tortured Mulder? It's a mystery, as is the fact that there's not one FBI squad member outside the compound when the spaceship parks itself overhead to abduct Smith.
This episode starts on a comic note, with a kid moaning "This is not happening!" about an apparently trivial failure to get photos of a UFO (with that cheap disposable camera, they would have been overexposed, anyway). When Scully cries the same words at the end, there's a perverse twist, a reminder that she's being played with and we're being played with by the writers. Is this happening? Damned if I know. That makes it hard to have strong feelings about Scully's pain or Mulder's. The conclusion of this arc had better be phenomenal.
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