"Unusual Suspects"
by Michelle Erica Green

Dungeons and Dragons and the D.O.D.

"Unusual Suspects" Plot Summary:

The year is 1989. As a naked Mulder babbles about aliens, the Lone Gunmen are arrested in a Baltimore warehouse. Later, in jail, Byers attempts to tell a police investigator what caused them to be there. He explains that he works for the FCC, and encountered a beautiful, mysterious woman at a trade show. While he pursued her, he met Frohike, who ran an electronics corporation, and Langly, who sold equipment to bootleg cable television.

Once she realized his kindly intentions as he helped her put the contents of her purse together, the woman told him her story: her daughter was kidnapped by her former lover, a dark, mysterious man about whom she knew very little - only that he worked with Arpanet, the precursor to the Internet, for something called Whtcorps. Byers searched online and discovered that Whtcorps led to the secure Defense Data Network; she asked if he could hack his way in, which he did. Finally he found an encrypted file bearing the name of her daughter, Suzanne Modleski, but then the woman spotted her ex and panicked. The man she identified as her ex was...Fox Mulder.

Byers enlisted Frohicke's help in decoding the file, but the two encountered Mulder as they snuck out. He asked whether they had seen the woman, whom he identified as Suzanne Modleski, and whom he said was wanted by the F.B.I. They denied knowing her, then interrupted Langly's Dungeons and Dragons game to enlist his help in hacking into the Department of Defense to learn the truth. Just as they learned that she was wanted for murder, the woman burst in and told them she'd been framed by a government agency that was planning to test a nerve gas on an unsuspecting public, the same government that had J.F.K. assassinated. Though she sounded paranoid, the encrypted information in her file and the surveillance device implanted in her molar backed up her own story, so the four went to the warehouse where the gas was being stored.

At the warehouse, Modleski found the gas hidden in asthma inhalers, but was interrupted both by Mulder and by mysterious assailants. They shot at one another, an inhaler exploded near Mulder, and Modleski fled just as X and a group of armed men arrived. Mulder became delusional, stripped off his clothes, and believed X and his men were aliens. Byers told X that he knew the government was conspiring against its own people and had had J.F.K. assassinated, but X said he heard it was a lone gunman, and left Byers, Frohicke, Langly, and Mulder to be found by the police.

Though the skeptical police investigator announces that he is not Geraldo, Mulder verifies Byers' story, and the F.B.I. has the Lone Gunmen released from jail. They find Modleski at the Baltimore Sun, but no one there believes her story. As she walks away, X and his men abduct her. The Lone Gunmen seek out Mulder, who asks what happened, but his reaction upon being told that secret elements in the United States government are working against its citizens is, "What?!"


Like last season's "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man," I'm not sure we're supposed to take this episode seriously; most of it is narrated by a Lone Gunman with a penchant for the dramatic. The story covered every major film noir cliche: a mysterious woman with a sob story that turns out not to be true, a villain turned informant, a poor schmuck duped by forces beyond his control into getting involved in a situation way over his head...even a bitter ending in which the guy loses the girl. It was mildly amusing, but hardly one of the series' more consequential outings.

There were some great moments: Langly and Frohicke's mutual contempt of Byers, whom they could immediately spot as a narc; Byers' consternation at being asked to hack his way into a government system despite his job with the FCC, a crime for which his boss was arrested; Langly's D&D tournament; Mulder crooning about seeing aliens. The funniest moments belonged to Modleski, though. After her declaration that the government had Kennedy killed, she picked up a Gideon Bible and asked whether anyone had ever wondered why those were in every hotel room in America - no one would suspect they're used for surveillance! Frohicke pointed out that the same government responsible for Amtrak and the Susan B. Anthony dollar could not possibly have covered up a conspiracy of that magnitude - a point Mulder would do well to remember.

Most of the other interesting elements were inside jokes - a reminder that X used to work for the wrong side, a suggestion that the government has been testing paranoia drugs on people for a decade, Mulder looking at a display of alien detectors. Probably some of the incidents in this episode will show up again - listening devices implanted in fillings are a staple of spy movies, and Modleski's secret research is presumably still in the hands of some government person or other. The single best moment for me was a momentary shot of Mulder's naked butt, but an episode without Scully just isn't The X Files. I'd as soon get back to business as usual.

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