I remembered nothing about this episode, except to vaguely confuse its title with Shapes. With Shapes, I seem to remember that Scully was trapped in a dark house and Mulder was pretty anxious to get her out. That’s it. I knew even less about Shadows.
The MOTW involves Lauren, a young secretary whose boss has just committed suicide. She is still distraught over the death, as she packs up his office belongings and her eyes linger on a (stupid) placard which reads, “One today is worth two tomorrows.”
That night, while depositing her paycheck at an ATM (which is conveniently adjacent to a dark, dangerous alley) she is accosted by two men. They end up dead, falling into a dumpster near a wall where “Jesus is Love” is scribbled in the concrete. Although the cause of death is unknown. They seem to have been strangled internally. We learn that everyone who threatens Lauren lives to regret it.
The NSA calls in Mulder and Scully because they don’t understand what killed the men and the insurance company where Lauren works is part of a national security investigation. They think the men who died may be a clue in their case and want paranormal answers from Mulder and Scully, without divulging anything themselves. Mulder and Scully balk at being used and try to learn more through independent means. Mulder leads Scully away from the NSA by simply placing a guiding arm along her back. She follows his lead out of the door. Again, much more physical contact between them in earlier episodes than there would be later, when he became rather guarded about such gestures.
Mulder notes that the corpses they examined are full of electricity, even hours after death. He swipes fingerprints from the dead bodies (by sneaking the impressions onto his eye glasses). He and Scully trace the prints to men in Philadelphia, so they had off to Pennsylvania. I believe that Scully got her Never Again tattoo in Philly, so that place leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Mulder also mentions that Elvis successfully faked his own death in this episode, linking it to Mulder’s Never Again trip to Graceland.
When Lauren refuses to answer Mulder and Scully’s questions, they return to their car, which, like an accelerating Toyota, takes control of itself, starts speeding out of control and crashes our duo into another vehicle. At the repair shop, Mulder discovers that the car’s headlights continue to illuminate, even though they have been turned off. Like the corpses, the car is also full of electricity. Mulder concludes that they are dealing with psycho kinetic energy. Scully scoffs and makes a Poltergeist joke. I wonder how I fell in love with the auburn beauty when the scripts made her so stupid. Some times her scientific explanation for events are harder to swallow in light of what she has witnessed than Mulder’s wacky explanations could ever be. She was in the car. It locked its own doors. How can she think what she saw was just a mechanical problem?
Later when Lauren figures out that her boss’ partner had him murdered. She calls Mulder and tells him to meet her at her house. Before the FBI agents can arrive there, Lauren is attacked by assailants an invisible force overpowers her attackers. Mulder and Scully arrive at the curb, as the beating is taking place. Mulder conveniently gets into the house first and sees one of the thugs floating in mid air, gurgling for breath. Something unseen is strangling him, just like the other 2 men who went after Lauren were strangled internally. For reasons unknown (maybe because Gillian is visibly pregnant and slower), Scully gets into the house an eternity after Mulder does and she predictably misses all of the action. No word on what she thinks happened. She continues to disbelieve Mulder’s Poltergeist theory, but doesn’t offer an explanation of her own. Clearly, Lauren, weaponless, could not have overpowered two violent intruders on her own.
I am glad the show cut back on those case status voiceovers that Mulder and Scully used to do so often. They were a cheap writing gimmick and Carter, thankfully, found other ways to showcase the dichotomy between what was happening and what was being officially recorded and everything in between, that the agents kept to themselves.
Lauren is taken to a police station and Scully tells her she’s not under arrest, so the sooner she answers their questions, the sooner she can leave. Well, if she’s not under arrest, she has no obligation to answer their questions at all. She can leave right now! Unfortunately, she doesn’t know that. At first she won’t talk to Mulder and Scully or the NSA, but later when Mulder reveals that he knows that Lauren’s dead boss has been watching over her and that he’s the one who killed all of her attackers, Lauren confesses that it’s true.
She says that if they’ve ever been a secretary, they know that sometimes bosses can talk as if you aren’t even in the room and that hurts. But sometimes you are the only one they have to talk to (this reminds me of Mulder and Scully and those times when they have no one besides each other), so they spill their guts. Her boss thought of her as a daughter. He told her about lucrative arms sales within the company. He wasn’t going to cooperate and so his partner killed him. Lauren just wants to get away from it all.
Scully tells her that she has an opportunity to help her boss one last time. She can do what he wants and bring his corrupt partner to justice, if she will help the authorities uncover the truth. Lauren agrees to help. When they are alone, Mulder asks what she is doing. She doesn’t believe that the boss is actually protecting Lauren. Scully says there is no such thing as ghosts, but she believes that Lauren believes it and that’s all that is needed to crack this case.
Mulder objects that Scully is sacrificing their one chance to learn more about psycho-kinectic energy. She counters that she is taking their one chance to solve a real, tangible crime, rather than just chasing after shadows. I agree with her that aside from the arms sales, it is better to capture the boss’, Howard Graves, murderers than to learn more about his haunting activities. But this statement makes me mad at Scully from the 2008 movie. She should have been more concerned about helping Mulder solve the tangible crimes in I Want to Believe, rather than so intent upon running away from shadows and her own fears.
Scully’s speech to Lauren about a father figure’s ghost is interesting, given the fact that the Beyond the Sea episode is coming up. Scully seemes to be exploiting supersitious beliefs that she herself finds ridiculous and I disapprove of her tactics much like Mulder most. On the other hand, she seems to feel a real compassion for Lauren, so maybe it’s not so bad. Still her cynicism makes her far less sensitive than Mulder most of the time.
The NSA, Lauren, Mulder and Scully raid the office where Lauren worked and find nothing. When Lauren prepares to leave, the shady business partner threatens her and the ghost prepares to kill him. Lauren implores him not to murder again, but instead to help them find the evidence needed to implicate his partner. Mulder comes in, just as the ghost begins to oblige, blowing papers everywhere and using psychic energy to (comically) cut open a wall and uncover the floppy disc on which all of the evidence is maintained. While this maelstrom of activity swirls, Scully is locked outside of the office yelling Mulder’s name. When they find the floppy disc, all the motion stops and the outer door magically unlocks. They have the goods on the crooked partner and he can be locked away.
Case over, Mulder and Scully prepare to leave. He asks her if she believes in an after life (a question to be explored again soon when her own dad dies). She says she would settle for having a life in this world. He asks her if she has ever seen the Liberty Bell and she says yes and there’s not much to look at, just a big clacker. Again, she is not the romantic in this relationship. If she actually wants a life, she could start by taking time out to enjoy a national tourist attraction with the partner she likes, who isn’t even being a jerk for a change. Mulder says he still wants to see it, for some reason. Why now she wonders. He doesn’t know, but when does it close?