SPOILER WARNING! This is a recap of The X-Files' "Plus One," so the spoilers are out there.
I have to get this out of the way: Mulder and Scully slept together!!! Like, blatantly, no other way to interpret the situation. "Put a dimmer on your afterglow." Yes, I am a die-hard 'shipper, and Mulder and Scully were ridiculously cute this week.
I had a lot to say about this week's episode, so I am going to break it down for you into smaller, bite-sized bits.
Mulder and Scully go investigate a case in which a young man claims that his doppelganger tried to kill him. A dozen similar reports have come out of the same area, but all with the successful "suicides" of the other victims. Mulder and Scully discover a pair of twins, Chucky and Judy, have been playing a psychic, telepathic game of hangman in which the "subject" of each game is mysteriously killed by their doppelganger, their evil twin, who is unseen to everyone but the victim.
I had a hard time seeing past the Mulder/Scully relationship stuff to examine the plot. I really liked the plot overall, but it felt like it was a little thin. There was so much time spent on Scully's hang-ups, and cute interactions between her and Mulder, that I feel there was more backstory we could have had about Judy and Chucky. They were fascinating, and there was a lot left to be said about their background. For example, in Mulder's final scene at Chucky's house, the camera pans pointedly to hangman games with "Mom" and "Dad" as the answer. I assume that this means they killed their parents. Were their parents their first victims? Was there any reason behind their death? Abuse, neglect, scientific experiments? Or was it just because they could?
There was a lot of focus on Scully's preoccupation with age and kids. Now, this could just be leading back to her desire to find William. But it feels like maybe they are setting up for Scully to get pregnant again. On the one hand, then there would finally be a true Mully heir, but if Gillian Anderson is never going to play Scully again, I just can't have that "cliffhanger."
I feel like there was a lot of Mulder and Scully's relationship that happened during the break between the original series and revival series. While I appreciate that Chris Carter and company always focus on the case, with the relationship stuff as background fodder (that's how I was tricked into becoming a 'shipper!), it has left a lot of loose ends. In Season 10, I got the sense that Scully broke up with Mulder because he was getting too paranoid, too manic, too Mulder, to the point where he was on medication. Maybe Scully broke up with him because he wouldn't take his medication. Whatever happened, in tonight's episode it really felt like Scully was fighting with herself over her relationship with Mulder. She wants to be back with him, can't imagine her life without him, but the logical side of her doesn't want to fall back down that rabbit hole.
The Obsessive Recap (complete with snarky asides!)
Mulder presents a new case to Scully, that of Arkie Seavers. Arkie leaves a punk show when he sees his doppelganger hanging out at the back of the club. He drives away in a panic and starts to calm down when he sees himself in the passenger seat -- and his double grabs the wheel. The car slams into a tree, sending Arkie through the windshield. The reason that this case has piqued Mulder's interest is that there have been others in the area who commited suicide after seeing their double. With at least a dozen victims, Scully sees the urgency in the case, though she suspects it might be a rare form of schizophrenia, possibly with a mass hysteria edge. They head out, "back to their bread and butter."
At the prison, Arkie yields nothing useful, other than he has a half-dozen DUIs on his record. Next the agents stop at the local mental hospital and speak to a doctor who treated a few of the patients. Those that she saw had trouble with the law, but no one had a history of diagnosed mental illness. It's like there was an outbreak of non-conforming schizophrenia. Mulder takes interest in Judy, a patient they are told has a more traditional form of schizophrenia, with a dab of split personality. Judy instantly takes a liking to Mulder (who wouldn't?) and Mulder notices that the walls of her room are papered with games of hangman. Judy plays telepathically with her brother, Chucky. Mulder notices that the answer to one of the hangman games is Arkie. Judy doesn't know an Arkie, but "she" might, pointing to an empty chair in the corner of the room.
So here is where it starts to get all cutesy and 'shippy. The agents go check into a motel, but they only have one room available, a suite. Two rooms and a fold-out couch. Where in the world is there a motel that has a suite? Anyway, Scully doesn't agree until she hears there are two beds. Mulder insists he is "just trying to get some shut eye." Scully is glad to hear it. Naturally, Scully gets the bed. She is having a hard time sleeping, and rolls over to find Mulder standing creepily over her bed, staring. It gets even creepier when Mulder asks her if that bed is "nice and comfy," finishing off with a wink. Many a fan have certainly dreamed of a similar event in their own bedroom, but there is something unsettling about actually seeing it. Maybe it is the wink. Anyway, Scully urges him to go back to bed. "I wish I could," Mulder says. Arkie has just been found dead. So at least Mulder had a reason to be a creeper.
At the prison, Arkie has been hanged by his belt in his cell. His hands are cuffed behind his back, and the audience knows his doppelganger was in the cell with him. His attorney, Dean Cavalier, is apoplectic. Scully thinks it is a coincidence; Mulder isn't so sure.
The agents split up. Mulder goes to visit Judy's twin brother, Chucky, a hoarder who should probably be committed like his sister. Chucky works at the prison, and he remembers Mulder, with that "tasty redhead." Mulder avoids the question of whether or not he is "tapping that" and moves into the house, where Chucky has a collection of hangman games, just like Judy. Mulder finds the Arkie game and asks him about it. Chucky says he likes the name Arkie. He then starts talking to "him," standing behind Mulder. No one is there.
Scully heads back to the hospital to visit Judy, but she is the other Judy, "Demon Judy" today. Scully takes an authoritarian tone with Judy, who screams that her brother is the devil's dimwitted disciple and that Arkie just killed himself. Scully is surprised -- how did Judy know that? Scully tells her she wants the killing to stop. Judy ignores her and starts baiting her about her partner, asking what he sees in her. "One taste of Judy and he'd forget you exist!" she exclaims. Judy then attacks Scully's vanity -- something I didn't realize she had. She accuses Scully of being all dried up, past her childbearing years, and therefore half a woman. Scully insists that Judy can't hurt her, but it is unclear if she is saying that for Judy's benefit, or her own.
Back at the motel, Mulder and Scully compare notes. Mulder thinks evil is in the air; Scully says it is mental illness. They debate for a few moments, then Scully finally comes out with it: "Do you think of me as old?" Mulder smiles and asks where this is coming from. "A woman thinks about these things," she offers. He assures her she still has it going on, there is still some "scoot in your boot." She playfully pushes him out of the room, but Scully still seems troubled.
This didn't sit well with me, but it was for a strange, selfish reason. This humanizes Scully. The X-Files premiered when I was 12-years-old. Scully was perfection to me, something that I hadn't really seen on TV up to that point. She was a strong, beautiful, brilliant woman who could easily hold her ground with men, and she never relied on flirting with them to get their attention. I think this is a very good image of womanhood for a pre-teen to have, but I held onto that image of her my entire life. I have never seen this vulnerable, flawed side of her.
Anyway, back to the show. Mulder goes back to visit Chucky, but he meets the "other" Chucky, the pleasant one. Mulder thinks this is an act and needles Chucky until the Chucky he met yesterday comes out. That Chucky slams the door in Mulder's face. Meanwhile, Scully is with nice Judy, who has no recollection of seeing Scully the night before. Scully wants to speak to the evil Judy, and Judy directs her to the empty chair. Scully gets tough with her, accuses Judy of having some kind of power to influence people's lives. "You mean their deaths," Judy fills in. She offers Scully some pills to protect her, and Scully asks her not to play hangman with her brother anymore. A good idea, since Chucky has initiated another game with his sister, this one named for Arkie's attorney, Dean. Before she leaves, Scully asks the nurses about the pills, and they tell her Judy just stuffs the capsules with bread; there is nothing more than that in them. They still take them though, just in case. Scully considers this, then pockets the pills instead of throwing them away.
When Scully and Mulder return to the motel, they find Dean waiting for them, and he is freaking out. While at lunch he saw his doppelganger and it sent him into a panic. Scully advises him that his paranoia is making it worse, and while Mulder agrees with her assessment, warns Dean to take precautions. They tell him to stay home, lock the doors, and call the police if he has another panic attack (because I am sure the police really want to be bothered with that).
Dean goes home and frantically starts piling tools, guns, belts in his driveway... anything that can be used as a weapon. Then he realizes he has a bigger problem: the five display cases of swords in his living room.
Meanwhile, Judy is just one letter off from spelling Dean.
Dean starts gathering up his swords, but cuts himself on one. After cleaning up, he returns to the living room and finds his doppelganger standing there, wielding the sword.
Scully wakes and, once again, finds Mulder standing over her bed. She begs him to stop scaring her like that. "I'd like to quit," he says. It's not quite as creepy this time around. Dean's body has been found, and the agents go to the crime scene. They debate the physical possibilities of a person being able to decapitate themselves, as Dean's head is lying several feet away from his body. The two spend very little time at this crime scene. As Scully is about to get in the car, she sees her own doppelganger staring at her from the crowd of onlookers.
Back to bed. Scully wakes suddenly, and is actually surprised to see Mulder is not standing over her. So she goes to him. Sorry, it's going to get real 'shippy here. Scully stands over Mulder, just as he did, and admits she can't sleep. Something about this case is getting under her skin. "Can you hold me?" she asks. A beat, then Mulder pulls back the blanket and invites her into bed. They spoon, Mulder holding her very close. Scully is still worried about what happens when they get old and retire. "Are we going to spend time together?" Mulder assures her he'll always be around. She finally gets at what she really means: "What if you meet someone? Someone younger, who wants to have kids?" The kids talk. Mulder asks her the same, and she points out that she is "at the end of that journey." Scully admits she would have liked to have one more, and Mulder asks what's stopping her. "Besides the fact that the first one was a miracle and I don't have anyone to have one with, even if I could?" This is frustrating because her -- for lack of a better term -- life partner is literally holding her. Why would she think that Mulder wouldn't want to father another child with her (he doesn't know that William is CSM's biological kid).
Anyway, Scully changes the subject and says the world is going to hell and she and Mulder are the only ones who can stop it. Mulder takes this chance for a dig at the current administration: "The world is going to hell and the president is working to bring down the FBI with it." So that leads Scully to another concern: What if they lose their jobs? "Then what would we do?" Mulder asks innocently. Scully rolls over to face Mulder. "We'll think of something," she says, a slight, mischievous smile on her face. We see nothing else, as the camera pans off of them... to evil Scully, watching from a doorway.
The twins are playing a new round of hangman. There is a U already in place, and there is an L right next to it, but the clever placement of the camera obscures the other slots, so it is unclear if they are spelling Mulder or Scully.
When we return to Mulder and Scully, she is asleep (on the opposite side), he is awake. He goes for some water in the bathroom, then smiles proudly at himself in the mirror. The smile disappears as he sees his doppelganger step out of the shadows. In a panic, Mulder runs back to the bedroom, yelling for Scully to get dressed. Half asleep, she urges him to come back to bed. "They're coming after me!" Scully is awake now and sits up, the blanket slipping off her shoulder enough to see that she is naked beneath those blankets (and a million fans swoon). She admits she has seen her double, but while she handles it rationally, Mulder is panicked. "Put a dimmer on that afterglow and get yourself to the hospital!" He bolts. How chivalrous.
The twins have continued their game, but both have different victims in mind. Judy wants to spell out Scully, while Chucky wants to spell out Mulder. Mulder arrives at Chucky's house, but Chucky hardly notices him, he is so absorbed in the game -- and argument -- with his sister. Mulder sees his doppelganger and starts brawling with it. Scully, slightly slower than Mulder, sees her reflection in the car window and it gives her pause. She takes the handful of Judy's magic bread pills and gets in the car. As she drives, she sees her evil twin in the backseat. Scully speaks to it rationally, and it disappears.
Now, it could be that the way to deal with these manifestations was with calmness and rationality. Or it could be that Chucky and Judy turned on one another. They gave up their game with the agents and instead turn to each other. By the time Scully gets to the hospital, she finds Judy dead in her locked room. When Mulder climbs out from under an overturned bookshelf, he finds Chucky dead and his doppelganger gone.
Back at the motel, Scully is packing up. Mulder comes in and suggests they get a "couple hours in before checkout." She looks at him dubiously, and he quickly informs her that he only meant some shut-eye. "Glad to hear that, Mulder." An awkward pause, then Mulder says he should hit the hay. "But if you need anything, just call." Scully can't imagine that she will. Mulder leaves like a chastised puppy, trying not to look hurt or disappointed. Scully zips her bag and stares at the door. "But then again, it's not out of the realm of extreme possibility." She opens the door and finds Mulder leaning against the door frame, waiting. He smiles when he sees her.