28 January 2008

Season 8: Badlaa (8X12)

Written by: John Shiban
Directed by: Tony Wharmby

American Hugh Potocki enters the airport in Mumbai, India on his way back home. A local beggar with no legs follows him on a wheeled cart into the restroom. Potocki is yanked out from under the bathroom stall by an unseen force. Later, Potocki arrives at his hotel in Washington, DC. A bellboy brings his luggage with the beggar's cart strapped on. Potocki sits on the bed and his eyes glaze over with blood. Another pool of blood flows from his body, staining the bedspread. Scully and Doggett investigate the crime scene at the hotel where Potocki's body was found. The agents spot a small, bloodied handprint, about the size of a child's, on the bed. An autopsy reveals Potocki suffered massive abdominal tissue damage. Scully is unsure whether something went in or came out of his rectal wall. There is no evidence that the man had been smuggling drugs, but a decay analysis does prove that he had already been dead before he left India.

Mrs. Holt, the principal of Fairmont Elementary in Maryland, interviews a normal-looking man for a potential job as a custodian. Yet she does not really see that the person sitting across from her is the legless beggar. A fight breaks out in front of the school between seventh-grader Trevor and the younger Quinton. Quinton's father arrives in time to break up the squabble. The mysterious new custodian watches from nearby. Meanwhile, Doggett traces a similar death in India several days earlier that involves another heavyset American businessman. Scully introduces the idea that a living being is using these victims to stowaway by freely entering the bodies. Doggett doesn't readily accept this notion.

Later that night, Quinton sees the beggar's reflection in his bedroom mirror, but his father dismisses the boy's fears as merely a nightmare. When the father goes back downstairs, the beggar man is there. Hearing a scream, Quinton runs down the stairs to find his father dead. The man's eyes are filled with blood. Scully and Doggett investigate and Quinton tells them that he saw a man with no legs. Finding the identical small handprints as in Potocki's hotel room, the agents suspect the same killer. Yet Quinton's father showed no sign of abdominal damage. At the autopsy, the man's stomach is distended. Scully slices into the body, and a tiny hand reaches out through the incision. Scully jumps back, and grabs her gun. Whatever was in the body has disappeared, leaving a trail of coagulated blood across the floor. Scully follows it to a closet, but sees nothing inside. However, the beggar man is in the closet. Somehow he hodes his presence from Scully.

When Scully and Doggett consult with Chuck Burks, he explains that there are siddhi mystics who have the power to manipulate reality. These Indian mystics, however, are religious and committing murder would endanger their souls. Scully shows him a report of an American chemical plant that killed many people in India, one of whom is the son of a holy man. Because siddhi mystics pass their skills from father to son, and his only son's death effecetively ends his legacy, Scully questions whether this man is out for revenge.

Trevor tells Quinton that he may know who killed his father. As he walks down the street, Trevor hears the squeaking of the beggar's wheeled cart, but no one is around. His mother, meanwhile, sees her son's body floating in the backyard pool and dives in after him. As she gets closer, she realizes that it is not Trevor but the beggar man. Scully and Doggett later scrutinize the woman's blood-filled eyes and question how her death fits into the case. Trevor returns home and tells the agents that the "little man" followed him. They call the janitor in for questioning, but he does not speak. Chuck sets up a video camera and focuses it on the janitor. The camera shows there is no one sitting in the interrogation room. They realize their suspect may be anywhere.

Mrs. Holt sees the custodian at the school later that night, but he does not answer her when she calls out to him. The principal immediately calls Scully. Trevor and Quinton lie in wait in the school building. When the beggar enters the janitorial closet, Trevor tosses bottles of chemicals on him. Yet the shattered glass seems to have hit nothing and the beggar disappears. Instead, the beggar chases Quinton in to a classroom with windows that won't budge open. Trevor is outside the window, yelling to his friend that he will get help. Suddenly, Scully and Mrs. Holt enter the classroom but they can't see the beggar man. He has transformed himself into Trevor. Quinton pleads with Scully to shoot at what she thinks is Trevor, but she is unable to fire at a child. Doggett arrives outside and hears gunshots. He runs in the classroom, with Trevor following him. The little beggar man lies dead on the floor.

Later, Scully is still shaken by the experience. She tells Doggett that she was unable to trust her own eyes, but fired her gun because the boys saw the truth. She realizes that it is what Mulder's open mind would have seen. "Maybe if I could see through Mulder's eyes I could understand," she says. The beggar man, still alive, rolls his cart in an airport in pursuit of another passenger.

'Badlaa' is a word in Urdu (a language spoken in India) for exchange/retaliation/revenge.

Even though David Duchovny is credited in the title sequence, he does not appear in this episode.

Doggett: Hugh Potocki. Importer/exporter from Minneapolis. Laid over in DC on his way home, when all this blood drains from his body.
Scully: Did the ME see it? The body?
Doggett: Yeah. Tox test ruled out haemorrhagic fever, Ebola, anything exotic. Something killed this man but it doesn't seem to be any foreign disease.
Scully: No sign of forced entry?
Doggett: No. No one was seen coming or going from this room. The maid found the body 20 minutes after a bellman left Mr Potocki here. Whatever happened, happened fast.
Scully: So, basically what you're saying is that nobody knows anything.
Doggett: But then I guess that's why it's in your inbox. So, what do you think, Agent Scully? Haunted hotel room? Alien invaders? Sloppy vampires? There is one small thing. The cops missed it their first time around.
(He pulls back the covers of the bed to reveal a small bloody handprint)
Scully: A child's print.
Doggett: Yeah. That's what it looks like. You know there was a ring of thieves when I was back in New York, they used kids for B&E jobs.
Scully: Mmm...
Doggett: Squeezing in through cracked windows, that kind of thing. But this, this is beyond.
Scully: Well, from what I see, Agent Doggett, from the way this man died... I doubt it was a kid who did this.
Doggett: Thanks. I'm not quite ready yet to lose all my faith in humanity.
Scully: But regardless, I'd say it's wise you keep an open mind.

Doggett: The first dead body I saw, I was 19 and a marine. This boy... criminy.
Scully: Yeah. That's not all he claims he saw.
Doggett: That's what the cops told me. That's why I thought we should come down here.
Scully: He said he called his dad in, because there was something in his room. I asked him to describe it. He said that it was a munchkin. That it had no legs. And that it was keeping itself up with its arms.
Doggett: Well, that's a pretty good trick considering what I just found upstairs. Palm prints in the boy's bedroom. They match the one's we found in Potocki's room. And that's the good news. It just doesn't serve your theory because this thing didn't get in here in anybody's body. It came in through the bedroom window.
Scully: How can you be sure?
Doggett: There was another print on the sill outside the locked window. And somebody must have closed it after this thing got in.
Scully: Right. Which is exactly what the boy said that his father did. But it's the father that I have a problem with here. I mean he had none of the massive haemorrhaging that we found in Mr Potocki. In the coroner's initial report, he makes it sound like the guy died of a cerebral embolism. The one salient detail in the external exam were the eyes... in which only the blood vessels are broken. Unless that's just the first stage.

Scully: (to medical recorder) This is Special Agent Dana Scully. I am a medical doctor about to perform an unauthorised procedure on a body. The, uh... the subject is a Caucasian male. Age, uh... I don't remember at this particular time. His height is about six feet. And his weight is... quite possibly subject to change. I suppose distension could be due to decomposition gases... but that seems unlikely.
(She makes an incision, starting at the base of the distended abdomen and going up to the sternum. Something in the abdomen begins moving. Startled, Scully backs up and knocks the equipment cart over, everything crashes to the floor, including her gun) Oh.
(A small bloody hand reaches out of the incision)

Scully: Are you questioning my integrity?
Doggett: No, I'm questioning the whole damn case. From your so-called expert, to the evidence you've chosen to ignore, to the fact that your approach has got us no closer to seeing a pattern or a motive or even catching this killer than we were when we started.
Scully: I asked you to keep an open mind.
Doggett: Yeah, well, I try to keep an open mind but it tends to shut my eyes.
Scully: There is something here, Agent Doggett. And I'll admit that it's hard to accept. But there is a motive and there is a pattern and there is a reason and we will see it... but not working like this.
Doggett: Yeah, well... I hope somebody sees it.
(He starts to leave. Scully turns at the sound of Trevor climbing over the wall into the yard)
Scully: Trevor. Trevor, I'm Dana Scully...
Trevor: What happened?
Scully: Your father's in the house. I'm going to take...
Trevor: Where's my mom?
Scully: Trevor.
Trevor: He was here. The little man. I saw him. He... he followed me.

Doggett: You going to be okay, Agent Scully? I got a drift of what happened in there... to you. I mean, sort of.
Scully: I shot a young boy.
Doggett: The good news is, you're wrong.
Scully: But it's what I saw. With my eyes, anyway. Do you know what it's like not to be able to trust your own eyes?
Doggett: Then why'd you shoot him?
Scully: Because it's what the boy saw. And in an instant I realised that it's what Mulder would have seen or understood. Because that's just how he came at things... without judgement and without prejudice and with an open mind that I am just not capable of.
Doggett: It's been a long night. Give yourself a break. This whole thing doesn't make any sense.
Scully: No... it did. In some way, it did.

Episode Number: 171
Season Number: 8
First Aired: Sunday, January 21, 2001
Production Code: 8X12

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this episode is the epitome of "bad research". Time after time there is a blunder when they start referring to "facts" about India or whatever. First off, badla isnt really an Urdu word, its a Hindi word - the language spoken vastly in India
Agent scully seems to be looking at medical reports "some of which are in Farsi". Actually the 'reports' were in Urdu, actually more like paper cuttings from some old newspaper. And Farsi isnt spoken at all in India - while Urdu is spoken by a very small minority of Muslims in India ... its strange that reports are in Urdu or Farsi AT ALL.