23 March 2007

Season 2: Humbug (2X20)

Writer: Darin Morgan
Director: Kim Manners

When Jerald Glazebrook aka 'Alligator Man' is attacked and killed in Gibsontown, Florida a retirement community for freaks and side show performers. It matches a pattern of forty-eight similar attacks spanning twenty-eight years all across the US. Someone working in circuses travelling from place to place across the US would be a primary suspect. Mulder and Scully investigate the recent attack in an attempt to catch the killer.

They meet with Sheriff Hamilton who fills them in on the case. Mulder is intrigued by a drawing by local artist Hepcat Helm of the Fiji Mermaid, an exhibit P.T. Barnum billed as a 'genuine fake' as it was supposedly a fish's tail sown on to the body of a monkey. When Hepcat Helm is later killed in his studio and the only access is via a very small window, Mulder theorises that the Fiji Mermaid is not only real but responsible for the murders. As they later discover that Sheriff Hamilton himself used to be Jim-Jim, the dog-faced boy and encounter other town residence like Dr Blockhead who performs human feats of endurance and The Conundrum, a tattooed jigsaw man who eats live animals.

Scully finds it difficult to find a normal suspect, in a place where nothing is normal. Her suspicions fall on trailer park porter Lanny's congealed twin Leonard, as Scully theorises that Leonard is capable of extracting himself from his brother's body. Lanny later confirms this but claims that Leonard does not mean to hurt people, he is merely searching for another brother.

The situation with Lanny and his brother is known as asymmetric conjoined twins or parasitic twinning. In some cases both twins survive, in other cases the lesser twin is absorbed.by the other (inclusion twinning). In real life, there are no recorded cases of a parasitic twin able to leave the host twin. Scully's reference to Chang and Eng Bunker is evidently meant to also allude to Lanny's condition. Another parallel is the fact that both Chang and Lanny drank heavily, which was a contributing factor in both their deaths. Chang's drinking is a matter of historical record, and Lanny's is alluded to by Scully's mention of cirrhosis of the liver contributing to his death.

Gillian Anderson actually ate a live cricket during the filming of this episode, after a dare from performer Jim Rose. She was quite prepared to repeat the act on-camera, but the crew had already paid big money for a jar of edible chocolate crickets.

Michael J. Anderson (who plays Mr. Nutt) had previously starred with David Duchovny on ''Twin Peaks'' and in HBO's ''Carnivalé''.

Writer Darin Morgan remained on set during filming of this episode in order to make sure that his vision wouldn't get lost in the production process.

During the agents first meeting with Sheriff Hamilton in the restaurant, a small piece was deleted where they are served by a half man/half woman waiter played by Denis Simpson.

When Scully visits the museum and ends up paying extra to see an empty box, that was, in-fact, a real P.T. Barnum exhibit. Barnum displayed a sign that proudly pointed visitors to "The Egress", which people assumed led to another of the many oddities in the museum, but which actually led to an exit. Once outside, visitors had to pay again to re-enter the museum.

Jim Rose is a real life "stunt" performer, who is is quite legendary for this famous video "The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow" which features many famous blockhead and geek acts (many of which are very disturbing to watch).

Lanny: Occasionally, I'd say, 'ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to meet my brother Leonard... Excuse him - he's shy'. Big laughs, I tell you. Big laughs.

Scully: That doesn't quite explain the potato.
Sheriff: I got, uh, some warts on my hand.
Mulder: ... That doesn't quite explain the potato.
Sheriff: To get rid of warts, you rub a sliced potato on your hand and bury it under a full moon.(Scully nods)
Sheriff: The investigation isn't going too well, is it?

Mulder: You know, Scully, hypertrichosis does not connote lycanthropy.
Scully: What are you implying?
Mulder: We're being highly discriminatory here. Just because a man was once afflicted with excessive hairiness, we've no reason to suspect him of aberrant behavior.
Scully: It's like assuming guilt based solely on skin color, isn't it?
Mulder: Yeah.(Mulder sighs, shrugs, and keeps digging. Flashlight beam lands on the pair of agents and the Sheriff clears his throat)
Ahem. May I ask what you're doing?
Mulder: We're exhuming... (unfolds his handkerchief to reveal what he pulled out of the ground) Your potato.
Sheriff: May I ask why? (Mulder and Scully exchange uncomfortable looks)
Scully: (speaking very quickly) Sheriff, i-it's been documented that many serial killers possess a fascination with police work. Some of them even holding positions on their local force. Soo... surveillance of investigation team members is often utilized as a precautionary...
Mulder: (apologetically) We found out you used to be a dog-faced boy.

Episode Number: 44
Season Number: 2
First Aired: Friday March 31, 1995
Production Code: 2X20

No comments: