Welcome to “Monster of the Week”-Week, 2020! In honor of Halloween Quarantine, we’re bringing you an entire week of episode reviews on a thoroughly binge-able, creepy show: The X-Files! You’ll meet some of our favorite monsters, the least competent conspiracies, and some of Mulder’s most ridiculous-yet-dead on theories!
A quick thanks to the podcast Fox Mulder is a Maniac and the web comic Monster of the Week. They are far funnier and more dedicated reviewers than I. If you love The X-Files but also love mocking The X-Files, check them out!
Chinga || Season 5, Episode 10
It’s the Stephen King episode, so here we are in a small seaside town in Maine. Here in Ammas Beach, Maine, we see a little girl with a thousand-yard stare. Great start.
Oh, and she’s holding a creepy antique porcelain doll. Even better!
Her mom tells her that they just need to go into the grocery store for a few things. She says this with the classic “please don’t ruin this errand for me” voice that every parent learns to perfect.
The girl, Polly, simply answers with a death stare. Well geez, kid, cut ol’ Ma a break. We need food, you know?
The mom, Melissa, puts Polly in a grocery cart. Polly keeps clinging to the doll. As they approach the store, Melissa looks nervous. Townspeople passing by give the pair the stink-eye.
Polly gives them the stink-eye right back. Good girl!
Melissa just can’t catch a break today. Well, it’s gonna get worse. A lot worse.
They’ve only been in the store 90 seconds before little Polly declares “I don’t like this store. I want to go home.”
At that, the doll’s eyes open. The doll says in a cheery mechanical voice, “Let’s have fun!”
Oh that can’t be good…
Suddenly, Melissa sees a vision reflected in the glass of a freezer door. A pale ghostly image of the store’s butcher has a knife in his eye. He calls to Melissa for help.
If this confuses you, don’t worry! It’ll never be explained.
Melissa is thoroughly ready to Nope The Fuck Out. Rather than taking Polly out of the cart and booking it, she tries to flee while navigating the cart through the store. Amateur move!
She says desperately to Polly, “Don’t do this to Mommy!”
Uh, well I think she’s going to ‘do this’ to the butcher. But okay, I know, it’s super embarrassing when your daughter murders the butcher in front of the entire town.
Suddenly, there’s crashes and screams all throughout the store. Everyone else in the store starts clawing their own eyes out.
The butcher comes out from the back and observes the chaotic scene. He grabs a phone and calls 911. “Send everyone you got!” he yells.
Given this is small town Maine, I assume he means the sheriff and his wife.
He turns and sees a vision of the (obviously evil) doll. He takes out a knife to defend himself against a doll apparition. I mean, it’s a choice.
Against his will, the butcher starts turning the knife on himself. The knife gets closer and closer to his eye—but the script takes pity on us and turns away as the butcher screams offscreen.
We get a lovely shot of this quaint seaside town. Evil dolls out or not, I’d love to visit this place. …of course, I’d love to visit any place as we enter Day XXX of Quarantine.
Our Lone Intrepid Agent for this episode, Scully, pulls up to a gas station. She’s wearing a Maine t-shirt and is driving in a convertible. Oh yeah, our girl is treating herself, ya’ll! It’s vacation time!
Scully gets a call on her cellphone, which she has wisely locked in the trunk. Girl, leave it there. You know who it is. You know what he wants. Just leave it.
*sigh* But no, she pops the trunk and of course it’s Mulder on the line.
“Mulder, we had an agreement that we were going to take the weekend off.” Scully, you’ve been at this man’s side for 5 years. You know he doesn’t “do” weekends.
Also, your plan is to only take a weekend up to Maine? Come on, you’re going to get up there and then have to turn right around. All for what? Stale coffee with Mulder in the X-Lair? Girl, you deserve better!
Mulder’s all “I just received information about a classic X-Files case…”
Scully, hang up. Hang up on him, Scully.
Out of nowhere, Mulder is like “Did you rent a convertible? … Did you the risks of decapitation are—” Ugh, I warned you!
Mulder, don’t ruin fun things for others just because you don’t know how to have fun without dangerous, gross adventures into the Unknown. You’d choose hunting Flukeman again instead of a vacation wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you?!
Scully finally hangs up and heads out.
By pure luck (or severe lack thereof), Scully drives into the grocery store parking lot just as Melissa and Polly are making a quick getaway. Scully has arrived right in the aftermath of The Great Eye Clawing Out of ’98.
Seeing injured people wandering dazedly out of the store, Scully puts on her classic black blazer over the Maine T-shirt.
Welp. That’s it, folks. It’s all over. Vacation is officially canceled.
Scully enters the scene.
There are dozens of people with bloody self-inflicted injuries. They’re all in shock—deservedly so.
A store manager, half-blind, stumbles up to her. He asks who she is.
Scully introduces herself as “I am Scully. I’m an FBI agent.”
First, Scully, I don’t know how Mulder has brainwashed you into this, but most people introduce themselves by their first name.
Second, in this instance, it’s way more important that you’re a doctor.
Scully surveys the scene, eventually finding the butcher in the back room. I’m no doctor (like Scully), but I’m pretty sure the knife in the eye means he’s dead.
We cut back to Mulder in the X-Lair. And you know what he’s doing? He’s watching something involving men and women who are panting and moaning. Yep. Right there in the office.
He doesn’t even pause the video when Scully calls. Yep. That’s where we’re at right now.
Scully asks what he’s watching, as she can hear the very inappropriate audio.
“World’s Deadliest Swarms,” Mulder quickly answers.
Now, that’s supposed to be a joke about Mulder watching porn in his office. Hilarious, right?
But as we see, Mulder actually was watching World’s Deadliest Swarms. Yeah, just chillin’ and watching people getting horrifically injured by insect swarms.
…. I think Mulder watching porn would be less disturbing….
Also, those noises are bullshit. No one pants and moans like that while they’re being stung to death by bees. …unless that’s their thing I suppose…
Scully explains, “I’ve stumbled upon a grocery store where people have clawed their own eyes out, so I think I’ve found an X-File.”
Mulder’s immediate reaction is, “Well that sounds like witchcraft or sorcery.”
Mulder, you’ve heard exactly nothing else about what is going on. You sure this isn’t aliens? How about subliminal messaging? Possession by ghosts? Possession by alien ghosts? Evil dead twin ghosts?
Scully quickly dismisses, “I don’t think it’s witchcraft.”
Behind her, the local police on the scene pop their heads up like, “…what did she just say?”
Mulder, ever-anxious to take a condescending tone with Scully, says “Well maybe you don’t know what you’re looking for!”
Scully, ever-accustomed to Mulder being condescending with her, replies, “Like evidence of conjury or the black arts, or shamanism, divination, Wicca, or any kind of pagan or neo-pagan practice? Charms, cards, familiars, bloodstones, or hex signs, or any of the ritual tableau associated with the occult, Santeria, Vodun, Macumba, or any high or low magic?”
Mulder, Scully has (inexplicably) stuck by your side through about 90 incidents of the paranormal. You better believe she can identify sorcery at the drop of a pointy hat!
Mulder answers, “Scully? Marry me.”
You don’t have to marry her, Mulder, you just have to respect her.
Scully reviews the grocery store surveillance tape alongside the local police. Scully observes Melissa Turner fleeing the store with Polly, unaffected by the Great Eye Clawing Out of ’98.
Scully suggests that the local PD go talk to the only individuals who did not fall prey to the Great Eye Clawing Out of ’98. The local PD immediately realize that Scully is brilliant!
The local police chief, Jack Bonsaint, asks if “Miss Scully” will be staying in town long. Um, excuse me, that is Agent Scully or Dr. Scully to you! …well maybe not while she’s on vacation.
Small trivia tidbit: this is the actor’s 4th appearance on The X-Files—including as the local sheriff in Die Hand Die Verlezt.
Scully tries to rebuff the invite to join the investigation, even though she has finally found a place where maybe people will respect her.
The chief explains that Scully’s apparent knowledge of witchcraft and the identification of Melissa Turner at the scene put a ‘spin’ on the incident. See, the local townspeople believe that Melissa Turner is a witch. Ayuh.
Scully’s all, “look I’m not a believer in witchcraft—I can just identify it by three dozen different signs.”
The chief is all “totally, I don’t believe in witchcraft either—I’m just going to focus this police investigation on a woman accused of being a witch.”
The real reason Melissa Turner is disliked, the chief explains, is because she’s pretty, single, and probably having an affair with a married man. That man? Dave the Butcher, aka Dave the Dead Butcher.
Melissa Turner is back at home, nervously keeping an eye on Polly. Polly sits in her room with her evil doll.
By the by, the doll never has a name in the entire script. That’s a weird omission. The episode title, ‘Chinga,’ I guess is supposed to be the name of the doll. But that’s a stupid name, not the least of which because that word means “fuck” in Spanish. I love the idea that Stephen King wrote a script about an evil doll and submitted it with “Fuck” as the title. That’s what he should’ve titled IT.
So in the tradition of Talky Tina, I dub thee Creepy Cathy for the remainder of the episode.
Polly is listening to a record playing The Hokey Pokey. And I hope you like this song, ya’ll. Because Polly only listens to this song and she needs it playing at all times. A minor saving grace is that the version played is 1950s big band style. I emphasize minor.
The creepiest thing in this episode is that this kid listens to a dancing song but never dances along with it. She just sits, listening to it in sullen silence.
Melissa gets a phone call from her buddy, Police Officer Buddy. Yep, that’s the name the script decided to go with.
As Melissa answers the phone, Polly shoots her a death glare. She says, “Who is that, Mommy?” like a jealous husband.
Over the phone, Officer Buddy asks Melissa about the grocery store incident today.
Melissa answers, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Oh, Melissa, you’re bad at this…
Polly, shouting over the record, commands her mother to hang up the phone. You know kid, you keep this up, your mom might try to burn the house down with you in it. Just saying, watch that backtalk.
Melissa, very ready to put some distance between herself and her charming daughter, walks out into the backyard. There, she has some sheets hanging to dry.
Officer Buddy warns Melissa that people think she’s involved with the Great Eye Clawing Out of ‘98. He follows up that horrible news with worse news: Dave is dead.
Melissa’s devastated. Officer Buddy, ever the gentleman, is ready to leap on this opportunity (and presumably Melissa later). “You need a friend now more than ever!” he insists.
Well, Dave was a friend and look what happened to him.
Back inside, Creepy Cathy’s eyes pop open. Uh oh. “Let’s have fun!”
Behind Melissa, we see a large shadow of the Creepy Cathy looming behind one of the hanging sheets.
A little while later, Scully arrives with the local PD at Melissa Turner’s house. They knock on the door, but there’s no answer. The back door’s open and the hanging sheets are still up to dry. Seems Melissa’s left in a hurry.
Somehow, this equals probable cause, so the chief and Scully make entry into the empty home.
Scully wanders into Polly’s room. She notices that the windows of Polly’s room have been nailed shut.
Chief Bonsaint gives some background on Melissa Turner. She’s lived in this town all her life and married a fisherman, such is the fate of all women in small seaside Maine towns. Melissa was widowed last year after her husband died in a boating accident.
As for her daughter, Polly, Chief Bonsaint describes her as having “toys in the attic.” This is a quaint small town way of calling a 5-year-old mentally disturbed. Cute.
Polly has had issues interacting with townspeople for quite some time. Last year at the local daycare, the proprietor slapped Polly in the face because the child was having a tantrum. UM, okay, so that person doesn’t run a daycare anymore, right? No? Good!
That incident ended with Polly knocking the daycare owner out cold. Yeah, well that’s what you get!
Apparently this is what started the rumors that Melissa was a witch, and the townspeople resented Polly for shutting down the daycare center. Wow, what a quaint group of totally rational people you have here, chief!
Chief Bonsaint also mentions that Dave the Dead and Married Butcher probably crushed on Melissa, rather than had an actual relationship with her.
“Was Dave a stalker?” Scully inquires. Could that be why Melissa nailed the windows shut?
“Maybe Melissa wasn’t so worried about something getting in, as something getting out,” Chief Bonsaint replies ominously.
Well that’s a hell of a statement to make, Chief. Care to elaborate?
“Just a thought,” he elaborates.
Uh, yes, it’s quite a thought. Again, care to explain? No? All righty.
We cut to a fast food place where Officer Buddy has met up with Melissa and Polly. Officer Buddy gives Polly an ice cream sundae and she is appeased. As only a little kid can, she simultaneously balances eating a messy ice cream sundae and clutching Creepy Cathy.
Officer Buddy sits down with Melissa. He suggests that she leave town.
I love how the local police force totally expects and accepts that, at any moment, the townspeople may take up torches and pitchforks to attack an innocent woman.
Melissa points out that she has nowhere to go.
And here is where Officer Buddy, totally not being coercive to a desperate and frightened woman, confesses his burning love for Melissa. Great. You’re a real hero, Buddy.
Melissa insists that she can’t accept Buddy’s help. Buddy tries to dissuade Melissa from, basically, being too independent to not accept his help or love.
What a great guy. Boy, I sure hope he doesn’t get murdered by an evil doll for his trouble…
Melissa, perhaps hoping she can scare Buddy into leaving her the hell alone, says that she saw visions of Dave and her husband dying before they were killed.
In the background, Polly goes up to the counter and demands more cherries for her sundae. The employee at the counter is not cool with a rugrat demanding cherries without even a “please.”
She explains that if the kid wants cherries, she’ll need to pay for them. I mean, okay, but maraschino cherries must be a penny a dozen, right?
Well, needing money to get things is not a good enough excuse for Polly and Creepy Cathy. This girl is going to grow up to be a top Karen.
“Let’s have fun!” Creepy Cathy declares.
Melissa, freaked out by Buddy, or the townspeople thinking she’s a witch, or the doll, or all of the above, tells Polly that they have to leave.
Buddy, still trying to be manipulative—I mean “helpful”, gives Melissa a key to a cabin he owns. Melissa and Polly can get out of town for a bit while the heat dies down. You know, the “heat” about her being a witch. Sure, the town will forget all about that over the weekend, no problem!
In the background, the fast food employee who didn’t give away free condiments is about to be punished. As she fills a cup with soft serve ice cream, her long hair floats up and into the ice cream churner. She gets caught in the machine.
Oh, you know her shitty manager is taking all that ruined ice cream right out of her paycheck.
As she screams, Officer Buddy jumps into action. He flies over the counter to help the employee. Blood starts dripping down her face, the force of the machine threatening to scalp her. Buddy just pulls on the hair, rather than grabbing a knife or scissors. Great job, Officer Buddy. Great job.
We cut to Chief Bonsaint and Scully knocking on the door of Jane Fairpoint, the terrible daycare owner who totally deserved to lose her business.
Oh, and this bitch is full of spite. She’s practically spitting spite. She still has the daycare business sign up, over a year after it was shut down for, you know, hitting a child.
The name of the daycare center was “Wee Lassies and Laddies.” …you know, that name alone should’ve gotten you shut down, lady.
Scully introduces herself as “I’m Dana Scully, I’m with the FBI, I happen to be here on vacation.” This is the script basically covering itself to say, “we understand that the FBI has no cause to be involved in any of this.”
We’re never given any actual reason for the chief and Scully to talk to Jane Fairpoint—she wasn’t present at the Great Eye Clawing Out of 98, they have no evidence of her committing a crime against Melissa Turner. But it would be very convenient for them to get exposition from her, so here we are.
Jane asks if the police have spoken to Melissa Turner. She spits out the name like she’s ordering deep-fried brussel sprouts for dinner.
She then calls Melissa a “whore” and a “witch.” This is when the chief and Scully should turn on their heels and leave. What useful information are you going to get from this woman?
But no, they just let Jane have her rant, ripped straight out of The Crucible. She says that Melissa Turner is descended from families that persecuted witches in Salem. Therefore, she comes from a cursed line. …wait, you’re accusing the person descended from witch-hunters of being a witch? Wait, why am I trying to apply logic to stupid, mean small town folk?
Jane whines about being shutdown for, you know, hitting a child. She claims that she did “all she could” to try to “save” Polly from the cursed lineage. How? Were you trying to literally beat the curse out of her?
Jane declares that “Our great-great grandfathers knew how to deal with witches.”
….by murdering them you mean?
“They would’ve driven the demon out of that little girl!”
…by smacking her around you mean?
“And given that slattern of a mother what she’s got coming!”
….being hanged in the town square, you mean?
Seriously, shutting down this woman’s daycare is the best decision this town has ever made.
The chief and Scully depart, which they should’ve done three minutes ago. Scully encourages Chief Bonsaint to bring Melissa in for questioning. You know, for being all suspicious by not clawing her own eyes out.
Seriously, what do you imagine you could bring this woman in for? Because she dared leave her house with the back door open?
Scully’s all “oh I wish I could help you out, but you know I’m on vacation.”
And the police chief is all “I didn’t ask for your help.”
And Scully’s all “Oh but I guess I’ll help you!”
Later that night, Melissa drives up a dark mountain road to a ranger check point. The ranger warns that she and her daughter had better be prepared, because winter is in “full force” up in the mountain.
Really? Because it sure looks like summertime to me… Perhaps in the mountains of Maine, there are magical mountains where it’s always winter and dwarves wander the land.
Polly was asleep in the passenger seat, but now she wakes up. She proclaims that she wants to go home, she wants her bed, she wants her Hokey Pokey… Well we all want a lot of things, don’t we kid? Like not clawing our eyes out?
Creepy Cathy agrees, “Let’s have fun!”
Melissa sees a vision of Jane Fairpoint, her throat cut open, reflected in the back window. “Help me…” the vision whispers.
Hey, Melissa? You know what? Don’t help her.
But no, Melissa is now going to race down the mountain to try to save Jane. Melissa, hon, I don’t think this one’s worth it.
As she spins the car around, she almost hits the ranger, but he jumps out of the way.
We cut to Jane back at home, sleeping spiteful dreams. She’s awoken by a record of The Hokey Pokey. Are you the one who introduced the brat to this song?! If so, all the better for you to get murdered.
Jane tries to flip on the lights, but they won’t turn on. This is The X-Files, so you know ‘no lights’ means ‘get ready for murder.’
Jane steps into her living room, the floor covered in records. She steps on one, breaking it.
Jane hears a warped demonic doll voice behind her. “I want to play.”
Jane’s hand shakes as she picks up a broken piece of a record. She holds it threateningly at the looming silhouette of Creepy Cathy. Oh, bad move.
Why do these people see an evil doll and react with “Stay back! I’ll cut a bitch!”?
Beyond her control, Jane starts turning the sharp record piece on her own throat. Cue screaming as Jane dies off screen.
I mean… I should feel bad. And yet….
We cut to Scully enjoying a bubble bath in her motel. Hey, look Dear Reader! We started with Scully almost taking a bath and now she’s finally getting one!
Her phone rings, but she ignores it. Yes!
After her bath, she sees that whoever called left a voicemail message. She ignores this as well. Yeah, girl!
She throws open the window shades to embrace the fresh new morning. …and is horrified to see Chief Bonsaint in the parking lot, waving to her.
The chief takes Scully to Jane’s house, just in time to see Spiteful Jane’s spiteful body being collected by the coroner. Seems Jane died by her own hand. Well, the woman was filled to the brim with bitterness and spite, so is anyone really surprised?
Scully then gets a call from Mulder. Greaaaaat.
Mulder explains that he was a little worried and wanted to know if Scully needed his help.
Mulder, you’re just jealous that Scully gets to work an evil doll case and you’re stuck with World’s Deadliest Swarms.
Scully, once again, has difficulty hearing Mulder because of a loud noise on his end. Mulder lies about it being a construction crew—the truth is he’s dribbling a basketball. Mulder is that kind of asshole that will call someone while making mindless noise, and not stop when they pick up.
Mulder suggests that there’s a scientific explanation for the self-injuries in her case.
And Scully’s all “oh I see what you’re about, script. My, how the turns have tabled.”
Mulder theorizes Dancing Sickness or, basically, mass hysteria.
…Mulder is willing to chalk something up to mass hysteria? Well shit, this is a historic moment. Scully should be astounded, or even concerned that Mulder’s been replaced with a pod person.
But instead, she sarcastically says, “Thanks for the help,” and hangs up.
Scully, this was your chance! You could hold this over Mulder’s head for years! …or save him from being a pod person. This reaction from Scully makes no sense.
Scully confers with Chief Bonsaint. She suggests that they need to open their minds to “other” possibilities. Okay, script, I get it. I get it. The turns are completely tabled.
“Aren’t you on vacation?” Chief Bonsaint replies. This is code for “I did not ask for your help. I’m still not asking for your help. Can you please leave me alone before you start drawing me into crazy theories about evil dolls?”
Inside Jane’s home, Officer Buddy happens to be a part of the crew examining the scene. On a lark, he plays the record sitting on the small record player in the living room (which is still spattered with blood). The Hokey Pokey starts playing, and Buddy recognizes the song from when he was talking to Melissa on the phone.
DUN DUN DUN!
We cut back to the Turner household, where Melissa and Polly have returned. I guess Melissa just gave up on the whole “rescue Spiteful Jane” idea as well as the “run away to the mountains” plan.
The Hokey Pokey keeps blasting, even though Polly is sound asleep. But for some reason we’re still playing it, at full volume no less.
Also do you get it now? The Hokey Pokey commands you to dance and the doll makes you do things? Something like that? I guess?
Melissa cautiously enters the room. She turns off the record, and I imagine her ears are ringing with relief. She also may have decided that, now that the little brat is asleep, she can steal and destroy that fucking doll. But Creepy Cathy’s eyes snap open. “Let’s have fun!”
The doll magically turns the record back on. The horror! That’s all Melissa needs to back out of the room in terror.
Melissa enters the kitchen and sees a vision of a violently killed Buddy in the glass of the kitchen door.
Again, I hope you aren’t waiting for an explanation for these visions, Dear Reader, because none is forthcoming.
We cut to Scully and Chief Bonsaint having a seaside lobster lunch. I am extremely jealous. Especially seeing people enjoying themselves in public without fear of contracting a horrible respiratory plague.
Scully seems amazed and disgusted by the lobster. Scully, what did you think you were going to eat in Maine???
Chief Bonsaint digs into the lobster with vigor. Scully does not dig into the lobster. She is undeserving of lobster.
Scully asks how Melissa Turner’s husband died.
The police chief admits that Mr. Turner’s death was never “fully explained.” Turns out he died by getting a grappling hook right through his skull. Oh yeah, that’ll kill ya. That’ll kill ya dead, ayuh.
Melissa was never questioned about the death, seeing as how she was miles away on land and her husband was miles away at sea. A likely story! Such things mean nothing to a witch! An accusation we still have zero evidence of!
We cut back to the Turner house. The Hokey Pokey continues to play and I’m about to claw my own eyes out if I have to hear that song anymore.
Polly does her favorite activity: sitting sullenly while clutching her doll and listening to music. She yells to her mom that she wants popcorn.
And Melissa’s all “well, I guess as long as you’re not murdering anyone, that’s okay.”
Mom, you gotta start setting some ground rules. No popcorn if you’ve murdered someone this week. Even if it’s Spiteful Jane.
Melissa turns a corner and bumps into Officer Buddy, who has just walked into her home.
Wow, breaking and entering? You’re just knocking things off the stalker check list, Buddy.
Buddy’s all mad. Why is Melissa back in town?
Because she’s an adult woman and can make her own decisions. How about that, Officer Buddy? How about that?
Officer Buddy says he called the ranger station in the mountains (the magic always-winter mountains), and they said Melissa “almost ran a man over.” Well that’s his fault—he’s the one who got out in the middle of the road!
“You came back here to kill Jane, didn’t you!” Wow, Buddy, are you the Colombo of Maine?
Officer Buddy declares that he’s taking Melissa in—her and her “little brat!” Whoa, Buddy! That is completely out of line! …not incorrect, mind, but still out of line!
Oh and Creepy Cathy did not like that. Not one bit. “I want to play!”
While this domestic thriller gets underway, Scully is once again in completely the wrong place. She goes to talk to Mr. Turner’s old boss. He’s a crusty ol’ sea captain. He was also one of the victims of the Great Eye Clawing Out of ’98.
As a part of his exposition, we get a flashback sequence. This is extremely unusual for a ‘monster of the week’ episode. And I suspect that we get it for one reason (to be revealed shortly).
Before Mr. Turner was killed, he was out fishing on Polly’s birthday collecting lobster traps. Buck up, kid, at least you’ll have lobster for your birthday!
In one of the traps, they found the water-logged, seaweed-covered Creepy Cathy. Somehow, Mr. Turner saw this abomination and said, “A great gift for my kid!”
Just a few days later, strange things were afoot on the boat. The captain and Mr. Turner heard little footsteps walking the deck. There was a voice: “I want to play!”
Next thing the captain knew, Mr. Turner got a grappling hook through the face. Oh no! It’s I Know What You Did Last Summer all over again!
I think that, the violent death shot, is why we have the flashback sequence. I appreciate the concept of a ship at sea haunted by an evil doll—it combines nautical horror and doll horror. But I think it’s a little disorienting narratively to have a full-fledged flashback just for the “BOO! HOOK DEATH!”
And Scully, in Mulder-fashion, goes, “So the little girl and the doll are behind it all right?”
And the captain’s all “Yeah, pretty much.”
Scully gets a call from Mulder, who for once isn’t doing anything obnoxious on the other end. Mulder has another theory about an infectious disease and Scully only wants to talk about evil dolls.
I see you, script.
While the agents discuss the magical tradition of fetishes or poppets, Chief Bonsaint just sits there like “what the fuck have I gotten myself into?”
Scully decides that they should go talk to Melissa Turner to confront her about her evil child/doll. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll go great.
Back at the Turner house, Polly screams “WHERE’S MY POPCORN???”
Oh this little brat, I hate her so much. I don’t care if she’s acting this way under the influence of an evil doll, I hate this kid.
Melissa is in the kitchen making Jiffy Pop. It’s kind of hilarious to see someone making Jiffy Pop while terrified. A very dead Officer Buddy’s body lies on the kitchen floor. He’s beaten himself to death with his night stick. ….not a euphemism, I swear.
A short time later, Polly is finally asleep. Melissa has gotten out a hammer and nails. Uh, I think if you start using those, Polly and her Creepy Cathy aren’t going to stay asleep. But Melissa gets right into nailing windows and doors shut.
Naturally, Polly wakes up. “Mommy,” she says, “I can’t sleep.” Well maybe it’s all the hammering!
Creepy Cathy is also annoyed about being woken up past her bedtime. “Let’s have fun!”
Melissa sees a vision of herself in a window, the hammer claw through her skull.
Scully and Chief Bonsaint arrive at the house.
Inside, Melissa has finished her home improvement project. She locks the hammer into a cabinet. Pretty smart move!
She then gets out some flammable liquid and matches. Uh oh, I don’t like where she’s going with this…
Chief Bonsaint knocks on the door. Melissa ignores it while she tries to light a match. But none of the matches will light.
Polly approaches her mother, clutching Creepy Cathy. Creepy Cathy warns, “Don’t play with matches.”
Even looking in her five-year-old daughter’s face, Melissa tells Polly to go back to bed and tries to light another match. Goddamn, this bitch is determined.
Polly, for once, it not stone-faced, and is showing emotions of an actual frightened child.
Hmm, seems the possibility of being burned alive has softened her up.
Scully looks through the window and sees Melissa trying to light the matches. Chief Bonsaint gets serious and tries busting down the door.
Melissa goes into the kitchen, looking for a lighter or weapon. But the drawers keep snapping shut.
Meanwhile, the door on the locked cabinet busts open. Creepy Cathy says, “Let’s play with the hammer.”
Well dang, Creepy Cathy, where was all this vocabulary before? You might’ve been a more interesting villain if you’d had some variety in your threats before.
Finally, Scully and the chief break the door down. They bust in just as Melissa is compelled to grab the hammer.
“I don’t like you anymore,” says Creepy Cathy.
Melissa starts hitting herself with the hammer. It doesn’t kill her right away, but it probably hurts like a motherfucker.
Scully finds Polly and demands that she give her the doll.
Polly clutches the doll. And granted, Mom was about to burn her alive, so I understand the hesitancy to save her.
Scully just takes the doll from the child—which somehow no one thought of doing until this very second. Creepy Cathy doesn’t even try to stop Scully as she pulls a Child’s Play and throws the doll in the microwave.
Not a bad move under any other circumstance. Except, Scully, you brilliant scientist: the floor is soaked in flammable liquid.
I guess the script conveniently forgot about that, as the doll safely sparks and bursts into flames.
Meanwhile, Melissa has stopped hitting herself.
What will happen to Melissa and her daughter now? Will the town declare them witches? Is Melissa going to be arrested for the murders or just almost murdering her daughter? Will Polly stop being a brat?
Well we’ll never know, because that’s where the script decided to leave them!
We instead see Scully arrive at the X-Lair, where Mulder has just finished perfectly sharpening his pencils. Scully’s attention turns to Mulder’s classic ‘I Want to Believe’ poster.
She asks where he got it. Why? Because she’s going to send it to somebody.
Scully, no! You leave that nice police chief alone! He wants nothing to do with you or the X-Files. He wants to be left in peace. How dare you try to draw him into your X-cult!
Mulder asks about the case. Scully says she didn’t solve the case. Certainly didn’t kick an evil doll’s ass. Nope. Definitely not.
She asks Mulder if he got anything done while she was away.
Mulder decides to end the episode like a total asshole. “Oh yeah, you can’t imagine what I can get done without the incessant idling or questioning.”
Mulder, how many times has this woman been abducted because of you?
Scully, you know all those times you covered for Mulder when he was suspected of being a serial killer, when he pulled his gun out at inappropriate times, or that time he let a child killer escape? Feel free to step aside from now on. Let Mulder be Mulder. He can see where it gets him without your ‘meddling.’
Just then, a pencil falls from the ceiling. And then another. Witchcraft!
Scully’s gaze drifts up and she sees a dozen pencils stuck into the foam ceiling.
“There’s got to be an explanation,” Mulder says sheepishly. …okay, I may have laughed at that. Damn David Duchovny for making this unforgivable character forgivable.
Cut back to Maine on a foggy night, where a fisherman is pulling up lobster traps.
Of course, he finds the blackened Creepy Cathy in one of the traps. “I want to play,” Creepy Cathy declares.
…and then he throws it into the ocean, because fuck that shit, right? I guess we’ll never know.
So yeah, for an episode written by Stephen King, this script has some issues. The biggest issues are the Scully-Mulder rapport / swapped places bits that have been shoe-horned in. We have these big moments where Scully is reduced to badgering local law enforcement (usually Mulder’s top priority), and Mulder is supposed to be the reasonable one but he’s still an unreasonable jerk.
One plus is that the opening eye-clawing out scene stands out. But more importantly, as happens rarely in Monster of the Week episodes in The X-Files, Scully’s presence actually matters. She succeeds in killing (at least temporarily) the monster.
This is our last entry in our ‘Monster-of-the-Week’-Week series! We hope you’ve enjoyed this romp through the paranormal. Have a happy and safe Halloween!
Like this article? Like this blog?
Show Why I Love Horror some love!
A small donation, just enough for a cup of coffee, is a little gesture that means a lot!