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22 May 2014 @ 01:01 pm
Reviewed: The X-Files' "Shadows"  

The X-Files


Written: Glen Morgan, James Wong
DIR: Michael Katleman

Blurb: Mulder and Scully investigate the deaths of two men believed to have been killed by a powerful psychokinetic force.

Scene 01: We open on a pan of an office belonging to one Howard Graves, located at HTG Industrial Technologies, Philadelphia, PA.

In the background we can hear a lot of sniffling of a woman crying. A woman takes a photo off of the wall depicting this titan of industry meeting with President Clinton. She's joined suddenly by another woman, who addresses her as Lauren as she comes into the room. Newcoming Woman has a stack of envelopes in her hands, but whatever she wants, she stops suddenly on seeing Lauren weeping as she packs up Mr. Graves' effects.

Our newcomer is Jane and she's concerned about Lauren because Mr. Graves has been dead several weeks at this point and yet Lauren still seems to be being hit particularly hard. Lauren tells Jane that she's not known many people who've died and this is the first she's known that has committed suicide.

Jane hands Lauren her paycheck and urges her to go home for the day. Just as Lauren is about to follow her advice, a placard slides across the desk reading that a current day is worth two tomorrows attributed to Ben Franklin. Jane picks it up and holds it to her and then leaves clutching it.

Scene 02: That evening, Lauren is at the ATM depositing her check. She's grabbed by a pair of attackers and wrestled. The street is deserted otherwise. Lauren is wrestled into an alley, where we only see shadows and hear her wrestling with them. She screams.

Scene 03: Two hours later, a pair of kids are walking the block. They're trash picking and looking for a place to crash for the night. As they try to wrestle a fire escape ladder down so they can climb up to an open window in some abandoned building, they jostle a pair of bodies.

One falls onto the dumpster. The other is our would be rapist, hanging up in the scaffolding of the ladder with open eyes and a look of surprise on his face. Our kids screech and run [although woman looks way old for how she's dressed].


Cues us some credits

Scene 04: At Bethesda Naval Hospital, three pairs of feet travel toward the camera. Two pair of these are Mulder and Scully. They're shown down yet another dark corridor leading to a morgue.

[Why are morgues consistently in the most underlit corridors in the world?]

On two slabs are, presumably, our attackers - though at the moment they're covered in sheets. There is also a man waiting for them. Our gentleman is accompanied by two women. They go on to apologize for the unusual hour and then go on to ask for their expertise in unusual phenomenon. Mulder rightly pegs them as not FBI.

The ME sweeps aside the sheets while asking Scully if she's ever run into anything like what she wants her to see. Which turns out to be the bodies still responsing with muscle twitching from a high energy electrical field, even though neither body shows external signs of being electricuted.

We further find out that even though the bodies died 6 hours ago, their core temperatures haven't significantly changed. Mulder asks some very basic questions and gets silence in response. He insists that they give him mode of transport from where they were located, and are told that the bodies were air lifted for 60 minutes upon discovery.

The ME then interjects that she's found something very strange on the throat areas of the men. She points out on X-Ray that the throats were crushed, reducing the bones to a chalk-like state. But, there are no signs of external damage again. She concludes that it's as if the throats were crushed from the inside.

Mulder is asked if he's ever seen anything like these injuries during his investigations of X-Files. Mulder denies it.

With further questions rebuffed, the agents are released with requests that any future inquiries regarding the meeting be denied by them. Mulder, as is his usual charm, makes an alienating remark at them as he escorts Scully out.

Scene 05: In the corridor, Scully tells him she can tell that he just lied to the strangers about not seeing similar phenomena in the past.

Mulder goes on to tell Scully that he has files on phenomena that include lasting electro-static charge and signs of extreme internal injury without external signs, but that none of the cases involved these simultaneously.

Naturally, they talk in normal voices in a echoing corridor... *sigh*... but anyway, Mulder brings up psychokinesis. Scully alludes to Carrie at the prom, but Mulder tells her that governments, particularly the Chinese are convinced enough that it exists to still be running experiments investigating people with the ability.

Scully admits to being intrigued, but reminds him they can't investigate further with nothing to go on.

Mulder huffs breath on his glasses, the steam revealing that he slipped fingerprints onto the lenses while the strangers' attention was elsewhere {probably when the ME was standing at the X-Ray boards}.


Scene 06: The following morning Lauren is at work as if nothing happened. She's intercepted by a snooty executive secretary commenting on her late arrival. She mentions that with a new executive in charge, she'll not be allowed to slide on that sort of thing, like with Mr. Graves.

Lauren asks for an appointment to see the new exec, and the secretary sets her for the next afternoon. Lauren asks for something for that day, stating how important it is. Snooty is less than impressed with Lauren clearly, but before she can issue a denial, her coffee cup flips itself over creating a distraction.

Mr. Robert Dorlund comes out of his office and Lauren quickly asks for a word, getting around the guard dog, snooty secretary.

Scene 07: Lauren tells Mr. Dorlund that she's giving her two week notice and Robert mentions that Jane told him about her crying in Howard's office. He tells her that she's not alone in grieving. Mr. Dorlund mentions Howard's lack of a life outside of work, which made him and Howard like family since they started the business together. He mentions how close Lauren was to Howard and tells her that it makes them like family as well, and he'd like to take care of her around the office, as Howard would've wanted. He asks Lauren to stay.

But then he very weirdly grabs her aggressively and tells her that he won't let her leave. This results in his chain link gold bracelet clamping tightly around his wrist until he's able to wrestle it off.

Lauren tells him that she can't stay there anymore and Robert, still shaken with the weird death grip around his wrist of the jewelry, tells her she has two weeks still and sends her back to work.

Commentary: As you can see, since we're in 10 minutes and I've not yet commented, this is a long opening with little going on specifically. I want to emphasize that this set up isn't badly done, it's just on a continued low-key.

The only awkward sections so far have been the scene in the morgue in which the mysterious strangers are ridiculously close lipped, antagonizing the very people they hoped to solicit help from and this scene with Robert Dorlund's very odd and inappropriate grab of Lauren's face.

I have to assume that Robert is going to be a villain, but this was an unconvincing way to establish that he's not to be trusted. Something much more subtle and snake-oil salesman like would've worked just as well, and actually that is the vibe I was getting before they had him act so boorish suddenly.

Scene 08: Back in Mulder's office, they've run down the two new morgue entrants. It turns out that both were radicals working within the U.S. and tied to an Iranian militant movement... not rapists. In addition, Scully is able to determine that the group has been found operating in Philadelphia. Mulder brings attention that would be a 60 minute air flight.

Scene 09: That night, Mulder and Scully are with a patrol officer who reports finding the bodies on routine patrol.

As Scully gets the basics from patrolman, Mulder wanders down the alley. He spots the ATM and its video camera.

Commentary: Oh, c'mon. Two bodies are found right around the corner of the ATM and the regular police wouldn't have been all over this machine during their canvass?? I know that Mulder is supposed to be brilliant and all, but you don't have to make everyone else incompetent boobs to point that out.

And why bother to have two randoms discover the bodies if they weren't going to be mentioned or have any further role in the plot? The officer could've just as easily been in the teaser. I'm wondering if there were last minute re-writes going on of this script as they were filming.

Scene 10: So, later looking at Mulder's discovery (guh!), they see Lauren and her two attackers. Scully wonders what a terrorist group would be doing robbing a bystander at an ATM, but Mulder's attention is grabbed by the smeary, person-like image in the background apparently watching this go down.


Scene 11: We skip over to Lauren's place where she's drinking her Diet Pepsi in a way that shows off the Logo to any invisible people who may be watching.

She's boxing up knickknacks when she stops to stare at her boss' desk decoration that she'd nabbed for herself. She's interrupted by our FBI agents knocking on her door.

Fox barges his way in past her weak attempt at excuses for why she's too busy to talk to them, where Dana asks her about the two men who attacked her. At first she denies ever seeing the two men, until Dana shows her the image of her attack at the ATM... an attack that she obvs hadn't reported and which somehow led to them both being deaded.

When she's asked about what happened she relates her attack, but claims she got away and ran for it and just didn't want to file a report. She does seem genuinely stunned when Fox tells her that they were both found dead. Dana next shows her the smeared image of the figure in the background, and despite the fact that you can not make out any features and it could just as easily be some sort of film damage, Lauren's reaction makes it clear that she does recognize whoever it is.

Lauren's verbal response is "I can't tell you" which Fox interprets as her knowing the figure but she quickly clams up and repeats her line in a way suggesting that she wants them to accept that she doesn't know who it could be without lying to their faces. She's very bad at the attempted mis-lead, though.

Scene 12: After the agents leave, with Fox leaving his card behind, he and Dana discuss her reactions. Dana is unbelieving that a woman her size could break away from the two men who attacked her, and Fox is equally skeptical of her crushing their throats.

Lauren watches them out the window as they get in their car.

Scully says that she does know that fourth figure's identity. Fox suggests that she's running away from something.

Commentary: The only part that bugged me just the slightest about this is that they haven't had any chance to dig into Lauren's background. It seems like they're assuming an awful lot about her based on nothing but her size and meeting her for four minutes. How do they know she isn't ex-army? Just because she looks meek, doesn't mean she couldn't easily have killed her attackers and it feels a little rushed for them to both assume she couldn't have.

Scene 13: Before Mulder can put the car in drive, it does it by itself - also adding locking the doors and disabling the brake while slamming the gas pedal to the floor.

They're sent in reverse, careening down the road until an innocent driver smashes into them.

As everyone is checking that no one was hurt, Fox spots Lauren watching with an expression of fear before she quickly yanks the drapes closed.

[For some reason he appears to have worn his light orange lipstick to work. It doesn't really go well with his suit.]

Scene 14: Late that afternoon, Fox and Dana meet at the garage where their car is sitting. After confirming they're both fine outside of headaches, Mulder goes over the information received from the mechanics. The car is brand new, less than 100 miles and there is no sign of tampering. In addition he shows Scully the headlights which are glowing. She shrugs, amused, that the lights are on but Fox corrects her. The lights aren't on. They've had their filiments heated by an electromagnetic discharge, just like what was keeping the bodies in the morgue warm.

This leads to Mulder suggesting that Lauren is either psychokinetic - possibly without her knowledge - or that she has a poltergeist around her. Scully sticks with the mundane explanation that Lauren is being protected by her accomplice due to her work with the defense contractor that also could've made her a target of the two dead extremist suspects.

She does get a look of being unsure when the lights of their wrecked car choose that moment to finally shut off.

Scene 15: The following morning, Lauren arrives to work where Dana and Fox are already staking her out. She throws a fit at the paint crew who is changing the name on Mr. Graves' parking space.

Scene 16: Time to dig into the background of Howard Graves. A news article reports on Howard's shocking suicide. Fox mentions they're up to three dead in Lauren's general presence.

Scene 17: Later, they're watching her again as she stops by with flowers at the grave of Howard. After Lauren walks away, the agents go to take a closer look at Howard's resting place. There they find another Graves headstone for his daughter. She died at age 3 from a tragic pool accident because the gate around the pool wasn't latched shut.

Fox mentions that if she'd lived, she would've been Lauren's age perhaps explaining why Lauren seems so devastated by the death of a boss.

Scene 18: Later, Mulder is developing the pictures of Lauren from that day. Meanwhile, Scully is typing up a report of their findings thus far. She mentions that they can confirm that Lauren has an estranged relationship from her parents -- another clue as to why she may have had such an apparently close relationship to her employer.

As Scully is voice-overing, Fox is checking his photos. In one, he can see Lauren standing at her front window. There is the blurred figure of a man standing behind her.

With some enhancing, they see the figure is in fact, Howard Graves.

Scully immediately proclaims him alive. Fox says that's not necessarily true.

Commentary: And they missed an opportunity here by having the extra playing the photo manipulator guy cast a spurious glance at Mulder that would've been funny and played on Fox's general reputation around the FBI. A little humor would've helped out a bit in the episode, because the direction feels staid and pedestrian and its dragging the pacing down a bit.

Scene 19: That night, at Lauren's: Kitty-Cat gets disturbed and with a mewl jumps off the bed, waking Lauren. She hears noises coming from within her house. The sounds are coming from the bathroom and include water, footsteps creaking, and a man pleading.

She fearfully approaches the bathroom door with a bat while the man continues to plead not to have something done to him. She recognizes the voice as Howard's. He continues to plead and cry for somebody to stop doing whatever they're doing to him.

Lauren creeps to the tub and yanks the shower curtain aside to see the tub filled with water as blood suddenly appears. So scared now she can barely gasp in breath, she mutters his name as she watches the bloody water suddenly drain from the tub.


She leaps to the conclusion that someone killed him, rather than the suicide reported.

Commentary: I'm going to give a kudo to Lisa Waltz for this scene, because she really does look like she's so frightened she's going to pass out through the scene in the bathroom. Her performance really adds a nice chill to the sequence.

Scene 20: The next morning, Scully is theorizing to Mulder that Howard Graves faked his death [which Mulder points out is very difficult to pull off] and that he and Lauren are involved in something that has captured the interest of the CIA [the mysterious strangers who refused to identify themselves].

They're meeting with the ME to see if there is any way that Howard could've not been the body that was examined.

Scene 21: Flat-Gaze Coroner tells them unequivocally that Howard Graves is very dead.

She snottily tosses the autopsy report to Scully on being asked for it and it's quite obvs that she's feeling more than a bit insulted. She's mildly sarcastic and hostile toward the agents for suggesting that their dead body was misidentified. When she answers that a dental match wasn't necessary to identify him, Mulder tells Scully that Howard was cremated so there isn't a way now to confirm his identity. We also learn that the suspicious Lauren was the one who provided confirmation of his identity when he was brought in.

Scully disputes there isn't a way to confirm that Howard was the cadaver, thanks to his organ and tissue donation.

Scene 22: At the PA Tissue Bank, they start tracking down his organs [So, I guess we have to assume that he didn't die in the tub from his massive blood loss, but later on after they tried to save him? That seems unbelievably clumsy of our supposed murderer, doesn't it?]

It's reported that the organs they could save were already transplanted in various states, but they do have some spinal tissue saved in cryo. They start on an extraction to run a DNA check against his medical records.

Scene 23: Meanwhile, we join an office party at Lauren's company. It's Lauren's last hurrah as she's on her last week of work.

She takes a moment to look one last time around Howard's office, which has mostly been cleaned out by this point. She's joined unexpectedly by Robert Dorlund who perspires "creep". He shuts the door and asks if she was going to leave without saying goodbye.

His obvs faux-friendly manner to her obvs discomfort is replaced quickly by his warning her that he knows Howard told her a secret and if it ever comes out, he won't bother looking for the source of the leak, he'll come straight for her.

She accuses him openly of having Howard killed, which he reacts to with seemingly genuine shock. She quickly exits despite his attempt to grab her arm after telling him that Howard told her what he had done.

Scene 24: She stops by her desk and calls Fox, asking him to be at her house. She rushes off, as Robert Dorlund glares after her.

Meanwhile, Scully is receiving the report from the Tissue Bank lab.

Scene 25: Scully has to confirm that Howard Graves' spinal tissue does indicate he is very dead.

Scene 26: At Lauren's that evening, she's grabbing up her bags. A car pulls up and two suspicious people get out and march their way toward Lauren's house as she frets inside.

Believing the knock on her door is Agent Mulder, she doesn't check the peep hole before unlocking the door, but then the lock slides back into place on her.

When she begins to wrestle the door lock open again, a chair slides across from the kitchen and rams itself under the door knob to Lauren's startled screech.

The two people break in and the man pulls a switchblade and makes it obvs that she's about to join Howard in the tub o' blood. As she screams, lights suddenly blow out all over the room around her.

The man tries to grab Lauren as she retreats, but is slammed against a fireplace mantle by a table. The woman stands looking shocked as Lauren and her see a general person-shaped shimmer suddenly walk across the kitchen.


The would-be woman assassin freaks out and rushes to the door that won't open. Lauren watches in horror and keeps repeating "no" as she realizes what is about to happen, having already been through this in the alley earlier.

Woman-Assassin isn't so tough when her neck gets crushed.


Male assassin breaks free of his table trap and rushes for the door, but gets body checked to the floor. He gets his face punched in by invisible Howard.

Scene 27: Outside, Fox and Dana pull up just in time to hear Lauren's scream of terror. Around the house, electrostatic discharges go off. Mulder rushes to the door of Lauren's, while Scully fights with her seatbelt.

Scene 28: In the house, Fox finds male assassin levitating and choking to death while Lauren screams for dead-Howard to stop.

He's dropped to the floor in front of Mulder, just before Scully enters, to more lightning strikes as Lauren crouches against the wall tramautized.


Scene 29: Much later, Scully and Mulder are in a police office with Lauren. Scully tells Lauren she's not under arrest, they just want her to answer some questions but Lauren sits unresponsive. With Scully not getting any response, Mulder slides the photo of Howard standing behind Lauren that he developed earlier.

Their attempt at interrogation is interrupted by the apparent-CIA operatives. They're both ordered to accompany Lead CIA Agent.

Scene 30: The CIA agents are pissed at the FBI for compromising whatever case they're working on, but Fox tells them they were following up on leads to their own case. In addition Scully confronts them on withholding information and so shouldn't be the ones on their high horses.

Junior CIA tells them that they've been investigating Lauren's former company for shipping parts to the terrorist group illegally and that they believe Lauren is a material witness, but she won't talk.

Fox strongly suggests they not try to get rough with her, considering she has a string of bodies in her wake.

Scene 31: Sometime later, the CIA agents leave complaining that trying to question her was a waste of their time. Scully and Mulder are again given a crack at Lauren.

She refuses to talk to them, so Mulder tells her she's free to go. But as she's leaving, she expresses that she can't go back to "that house" and Fox pulls out the "True Believer" vibe to convince her that he believes Howard Graves is watching over her, despite his being dead.

Scene 32: His empathy convinces her to spill what has been happening. Lauren tells them about how Pentagon contracts had been cancelled and put the company in a horrible position. Howard felt like he needed to take care of every employee under his care and it led to him crying in his office one night while Lauren was working late. Dorlund had already set up a deal with Isfahan to buy parts at outrageous prices for as long as they could get away with it, saving the company.

But that night, Howard had heard on the news that Isfahan had taken credit for killing a pair of sailors in Florida. Howard wasn't the same after that, and Lauren had thought that is why he'd killed himself. But now she believes, based on the bathroom incident, that Howard was showing her that he was murdered by Dorlund because he was going to break the deal with Isfahan.

Lauren tells the agents she can't take anymore and is leaving, hoping that Howard will be able to move on. Scully tells her that isn't enough, that she has to let Howard know that she loves him by helping them to finish his unfinished business by taking down Dorlund. Dana presses on her that she'll never be able to rest, if Howard can't rest.

Lauren agrees, but goes to the restroom to clean up her cry-face.

Scene 33: Mulder confronts Scully on not believing anything she said. She tells Mulder that he's right and she doesn't believe in ghosts or psychokinesis but she does believe that Lauren believes. And their priority is to get her onboard with stopping Dorlund for his crimes. Fox is pissed at Scully's blowing their chances to study spectral phenomena, but she points out that they have a chance to solve a tangible case.

Well, the case does involve a murder and illegally dealing with terrorists, so what can Fox really say? Nothing, is what.

Scene 34: The FBI mobilize to raid the company offices. Lauren accompanies to guide the agents through where the hidden information about the illegal deals may be located within the building.

Scene 35: At the offices, Dorlund comes out to find the FBI going through all of the employee desks and cabinets. Scully accompanies Lauren into Dorlund's office and begins going through every piece of paperwork there.

Time passes and CIA Junior Agent tells Fox they've collected all they can. Mulder points out that they don't have him. Dorlund isn't even breaking a sweat; They won't find whatever he's hiding.

Scene 36: In Dorlund's office, Fox tries to get a frustrated Lauren to leave with him but she begins destroying picture frames looking for hidden documents. Dorlund comes in to complain that he's been more than cooperative thus far but he won't have her destroying random objects. She throws the bombed van that killed the two sailors in his face, but he claims ignorance. His mistake comes in calling her out as a stupid bitch.

Howard doesn't like that. He sends Dorlund against a wall to Mulder's shocked face and Lauren's pleading not to kill him. Dorlund begins to choke out as his throat is being compressed. To Lauren's pleading to Howard's spirit to help them find the evidence rather than killing Dorlund, he's dropped to the floor. Lights then begin blowing out all over the office.

Scene 37: Out in the general office area, the blowing bulbs are heard. Scully runs to Dorlund's door, but she finds she can't open it.

Within is a whirlwind of activity. Against the wall, Dorlund is being threatened with a floating letter opener. It spins and flies across the room, embedding and slicing into decorative fabric covering a wall.

Scully is able to finally open the door, to find the office floor buried in paper. Meantime, Fox goes to the wall and finds a diskette.

Scene 38: Sometime later, Scully and Mulder are watching Lauren put a box in her car. They tell her that the US District Attorney is going after Dorlund, including for the murder of Graves. Lauren promises to return to testify, but she's still determined to leave the city for a fresh start elsewhere.

They watch her drive off and discuss taking in the Liberty Bell while they're there.

Scene 39: Sometime later, we see Howard's plaque on a new desk. Lauren is working at an Insurance Agency. Her new boss is snotty.

After she berates Lauren's slow response to a request she had made, her coffee cup begins to rumble on her desk. Lauren gets a look of growing fear, but the new boss casually grabs her cup. She complains that they need to find a new office space, as every time a truck goes by the whole building shakes itself.

Lauren gets a smile, apparently freed from Howard's "protection".

The Good: Lisa Waltz as Lauren Kyte does a really good job, especially when she's in fright-mode.

I liked the mystery with the bodies that we later see in action when assassins get themselves killed. The shot of the female assassin's throat being crushed is especially well done.

The sequence with the assassins being killed is well handled, except for Scully's naturally not seeing anything - delayed as she is with the Seat Belt of Entrapment.

I did like that little bit at the end with Lauren suddenly thinking that Howard is still plaguing her life, but no... it's just a truck rumbling the building.

The Bad: I hate it when the protagonists are made to look better by making those around them especially dumb. There is no way the police wouldn't have been all over that ATM's footage already. I also find it particularly suspect that the extremists wouldn't have waited for Lauren to step away from the ATM camera before abducting her into the alley.

Other Thoughts: I had an issue with the scenes of CIA Agent and CIA Junior Agent, who both felt uncomfortable with their roles and didn't actually add anything to the story. CIA Junior was especially self-conscious in her performance, I felt.

I also thought that the general directing job was pretty by-the-book and there were some missed opportunities to add a bit of flair with camera angles or lighting that could've enhanced the mysterious ghost aspect of the story.

The Score: The story is well told, but the lack of energy in directing makes it all feel so humdrum. Lisa does a great job in her role, but everyone else feels so flat, including our main characters this time out.

3.0 out of 5 stars

Next Review: Angel & Faith, Issue 22 of Season (7) is coming next.

             Our next TV Episode Review will be BTVS, "Anne"

             Our next movie review will be "Monster on the Campus" - 1958.