30 August 2007

Season 7: The Amazing Maleeni (7X08)

Written by: Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz
Directed by: Thomas J. Wright

When a magician, the Amazing Maleeni is heckled during a routine performance at the Santa Monica Pier in California by an unimpressed man in the audience. He announces he will attempt the feat of the Egyptian Dedi, and turns his head completely around on his neck, the audience applaud. But after the show the pier manager finds the Amazing Maleeni's headless body in his car.

The following day, Mulder and Scully examine the scene, although Scully is less interested believing it to be merely a murder case. Mulder is intrigued by video footage a tourist took of the Amazing Maleeni's trick, although they can not make out the heckler's face, Scully notices him throwing away a soda cup on film.

The fingerprints on the cup lead them to Billy LaBonge, a small-time magician with a criminal record. They question him, but he claims that The Amazing Maleeni was just an old man with a gambling debt. However when Scully's autopsy reveals that The Amazing Maleeni's (real name Herman Pinchbeck) head had been carefully sawed off and then stuck back on with spirit gum, and that he had died of a heart attach and been stored in a refrigerator for over a month, suspicion falls on Albert Pinchbeck, Herman's twin brother, and also a magician.

Mulder believes that Albert performed the show on the pier in his brother's honour, so that his reputation would be guaranteed after his death. And that he knows Billy LaBonge and is working with him, in an effort to pull off the perfect bank robbery.

Ricky Jay (plays Amazing Maleeni) is himself a very famous magician, who is renowned for his ability for sleight of hand and card tricks, as well as a whole host of 'magical' abilities. He has appeared in many shows, done other acting roles and advised on a number of series and films.

Malini taking a magician's name and then spelling it different is a reference to Houdini. He got his name from the French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin whom he later discredited.

The Amazing Maleeni was named for real-life magician Max Malini (1875 - 1942). Famous for relying on his own skill rather than props, Malini performed for Kings, Queens, and Millionaires.

Billy LaBonge: Yo. Can't you do anything that ain't a hundred years old? That ain't old school, that's decrepit.
Herman Pinchbeck: Young man, shall I come heckle you on your job? Make sure you count out the requisite number of McNuggets?
Billy LaBonge: Show me something. Come on... show me something!
Herman Pinchbeck: A callow challenge to be met by experience... and skill. To wit, the Egyptian, Dedi, whose most celebrated feat was to reattach a recently-severed head reuniting it with a still-warm body and no harm done. Western history knows three previous attempts at recreating this Noachian feat... each of the three ending in tragedy. This will be the fourth. May I have complete silence, please?
(He stretches his neck up and turns his head 360 degrees)
Crowd: Yeah! Senor Maleeni! Woo-hoo!
Young Boss: Let's give it up for the Amazing Maleeni.

Mulder: Neat trick, huh?
Scully: I can think of a neater one. How you convinced me to drop everything and get on the first plane to Los Angeles.
Mulder: Come on, Scully. This isn't intriguing enough for you? A magician turns his head completely around 360 degrees to the delight of young and old alike after which it plops unceremoniously onto the pier... see the picture?
Scully: Yeah, I saw the picture. And as for this Amazing Maleeni turning his head all the way around, like you said, Mulder: neat trick.
Mulder: But...
Scully: But... I'd guess this event was completely removed from the subsequent murder.
Mulder: You think this was a murder?
Scully: Don't you? Mulder, his head was cut off.
Mulder: Ah, observe the nearly complete absence of blood. Observe the paucity of fingerprints as evidenced by the LAPD's liberal use of lycopodium powder.
Scully: Why are you talking like Tony Randall?
Mulder: Know that the Amazing Maleeni was alive one moment and expired the next. Know also that no one saw his fleeing attacker nor heard the dying man's cries.

Scully: All right, I'm stumped... and I think I'm supposed to be.
Mulder: What do you think?
Scully: Well, first of all, and sorry to disappoint you but, uh, Mr Maleeni's head didn't just magically fall off. It was very carefully sawed. Very slow and exacting work probably with a fine-tooth meat saw. And check out this little detail. Spirit gum, Mulder. It held the head to the body. Just barely, of course.
Mulder: So he was murdered.
Scully: Well, no. As far as I can tell this man died of advanced coronary disease.
Mulder: Natural causes.
Scully: Yeah.
Mulder: So, basically he died of a heart attack, somebody crept up behind him, sawed his head off and then glued it back on all in the space of 30 seconds. So, does that make sense to you?

Herman Pinchbeck: Agents. An unexpected surprise. Good afternoon.
Scully: We'd like to have a word with you, Mr Pinchbeck.
Herman Pinchbeck: I'm fairly busy, actually.
Mulder: I'll bet.
(Mulder pulls 'Albert Pinchbeck' away from his desk)
Herman Pinchbeck: Hey! What...?
Mulder: Let's take a little spin, shall we?
Herman Pinchbeck: What's this all about?
Mulder: It's about misdirection, Mr Pinchbeck... or should I say The Amazing Maleeni?
(He dumps 'Albert Pinchbeck' onto the floor)
Scully: Mulder?!
Mulder: It's a trick, Scully. Voila.
'Albert Pinchbeck' stands up)
Herman Pinchbeck: Had you fooled.
Scully: You're Maleeni?
Herman Pinchbeck: Call me Herman.

Scully: You know, Mulder, there's still one thing that you haven't explained.
Mulder: What's that?
Scully: How the Amazing Maleeni was able to turn his head completely around.
Mulder: I don't know that.
Scully: I do. I'll show you. Observe.
(She places her hands awkwardly on the floor and turns her right arm a full 360 degrees)
Mulder: Gee! Very nice. How'd you do that?
Scully: Well... magic.
Mulder: No. Seriously, Scully, how'd you do it? You know, it's not the same thing. It's different with the head. Come on. Look at this.
(He does the disappearing thumb trick)
I'll show you...

Highlights from ''The Amazing Maleeni''

Episode Number: 147
Season Number: 7
First Aired: Sunday, January 16, 2000
Production Code: 7X08

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