14 January 2008

Season 8: Salvage (8X10)

Written by: Jeffrey Bell
Directed by: Rod Hardy

Curt Delario comforts Nora Pearce as she mourns her husband. "How does a 41 year-old man just wither away and die?" she asks. Since no one can provide her an explanation for Ray's death, she is convinced that he suffered from Gulf War Syndrome, and she wants someone to pay. Leaving her house, Curt turns his car out of the driveway but skids when he sees something in his path. He plows right into a man, but instead of crushing him, the car splits around the man. Curt looks through the shattered glass to see his friend, Ray Pearce, standing in the middle of the hood, unharmed. Ray shoves his fist through the windshield to grab Curt, who screams out in terror.

The next morning, Doggett and Scully scan the crime scene. The car is torn in half and Curt Delario is missing. They find him in a trash can with five deep puncture marks in his head. The autopsy reveals that he was not killed by the impact, but rather by the wounds inflicted when he was pulled through the windshield. Blood and fingerprints on the car are from the recently deceased Ray Pierce. Ray wakes up at St. Clare's Halfway House, unharmed. He pulls shards of metal out of his face.

Doggett goes to the Pearce house. Harry Odell, the owner of the Southside Salvage yard where Ray and Curt both worked, is there. Doggett asks Nora about Ray's cremation because no record of the event exists. He wonders if Ray might still be alive and is somehow involved in Curt's death. Nora rebukes this, insisting that Ray was so sick before he died that he couldn't even walk or lift his head. At the salvage yard, Harry is hurriedly feeding Ray Pearce's employee records into a shredder when Ray himself enters the trailer office. Harry grabs a gun from his desk and shoots. Ray is blown clear out of the trailer. Outside, Harry sees Ray's severed hand, which twitches. Small, interlocking metal pieces begin to repair the limb. Ray comes up behind him, unfazed by his bloody gut and missing arm. He grabs Harry's head and punctures the man's skull with his fingers.

In checking out the aftermath, Doggett notices blue paint on Harry's fingernails. He pulls a half-torn paper out of the shredder - an invoice from Chambers Technologies. The person on the invoice, Dr. David Clifton, no longer works there. His successor, Dr. Puvogel, tells Doggett that Clifton was working on a smart metal that can regenerate itself. He also says that their company would have no use of any local salvage yards. Scully phones Doggett from the morgue, informing him that Ray's cell makeup was affected by exposure to a non-identifiable metal. Tests show that his blood has enough metal alloy to kill an elephant. At the halfway house, volunteer social worker Larina sees a news report on Harry Odell's murder, recognizes Ray and phones Ray's wife.

Ray pursues Dr. Puvogel, and the agents lure him to Chambers Technologies. Ray gets captured in a test chamber and his fists dent the four-inch metal doors. He escapes by ripping open the thick metal of the back wall. Blood left on the jagged wall begins to turn itself into metal. Remanding Dr. Puvogel to safety, Doggett notices that a row of stacked barrels are painted the same color blue found on Harry Odell's fingers.

Nora waits for her husband at the halfway house, and asks him why he didn't contact her. "I'm not me," he responds, before showing her that his body is a mix of flesh and metal. He tells her that the people who did this to him must pay. At Southside Salvage, Doggett uncovers blue barrels with the Chambers Technology logo underneath the paint. When he turns one over, a think river of silver liquid pours out with a human body made of metal. It is the missing Dr. Clifton. Scully and Doggett question Puvogel, who tells them that Clifton got poisoned from working on an alloy with genetic material in it. Puvogel was aware that Clifton was dying, but did not know how his body was sent to the salvage yard. Suddenly, Doggett sees Nora Pearce sneaking around the Chambers hallway. She is searching for the name of the person responsible for her husband's disfigurement, but is caught before she gave the name to Ray. A SWAT team is sent to the halfway house, but they are too late. Ray kills Larina and escapes. Scully and Doggett beg Nora for her help in preventing Ray from hurting anyone else, and she agrees to have her house watched by the police. Ray slips in and persuades Nora to tell him the name of the person from Chambers Technologies who made him inhuman. When he leaves, Nora rushes out of the house, hysterical. She tells the police that her husband had just been there and that he is going to kill a man named Owen Harris.

Ray intercepts Harris' car, pulls him from the driver's seat and says "You made me." The man's wife and child scream in terror. Harris doesn't understand because he's only an accountant and had waste transferred to Southside Salvage because he was told to do so. As Harris' son cries in the backseat, Ray's eyes blink with the last light of kindness left in him. He lets the man go.

Later, Doggett and Scully arrive at the scene. Harris is alive, being treated by a medic. The agents are puzzled as to why Ray didn't kill him, but Scully surmises that Ray's body had died, and what was left was a machine. Whatever bit of humanity was still in him may have saved Harris. At Southside Salvage, a car gets dumped into a compactor. Ray is inside the crushed car, calmly accepting his inevitable conclusion.

The 4-door 1973 Ford Torino destroyed in the episode is the same vehicle owned by The Dude in ''The Big Lebowski''. The car was used in the film before use in The X-Files.

Agent Doggett comments that you can only see metal men in movies; a reference to him playing the liquid-metal T-1000 in ''Terminator 2 - Judgement Day''.

Doggett: Car's registered to a Curtis Delario, local address. So far, he's been unreachable.
Scully: Well, it's highly unlikely that wherever he is he feels like picking up the phone this morning.
Doggett: Muncie PD ran some calculations. Based on the distance travelled, the length of the skid marks, they estimate the car was going at least 40 when it impacted the object, which, according to their math would require something 4300 times the density of steel to cause the damage we're looking at"
Scully: Hmm. It's interesting, isn't it? I mean... in light of the evidence.

Doggett: Sorry I'm late.
Scully: It's all right. I just got the blood test back on Ray Pearce, and it was indeed the same Ray Pearce who was pronounced dead three days ago. But that's not all. By all medical standards he should still be dead. His blood has enough metal alloy in it to... poison an elephant.
Doggett: Except that he's still a man, Agent Scully and he's going to act and think like one even if he is more powerful than a speeding locomotive.
Scully: But then the question is, why kill his friends? I mean, if he was wronged somehow wouldn't he go to them for solace? I mean, to his wife, at least?
Doggett: That's why I was late. I asked myself that same question. Ray was an outpatient at the VA. He had a history of substance abuse. Did some time for a couple of DUIs.
Scully: This was ten years ago.
Doggett: Cleaned up his act. He met Nora and married her in 91, checked himself into a rehab and got straight. This was a guy to root for, Agent Scully. This was a guy that overcame adversity and made a life for himself.
Scully: Until three days ago.
Doggett: I've busted a lot of killers, Agent Scully, and dollars for doughnuts, they fit a profile. But the Ray Pearce in this file is no murderer, let alone a guy that would hunt down his friends and crush their skulls.
Scully: Agent Doggett, the man that we're speaking about withstood impact from a speeding car, and two shotgun blasts at short range. Even if we can find him, who's to say we can stop him?

Scully: Ray Pearce.
Doggett: He came here to kill this man but something stopped him, didn't it?
Scully: This man, Owen Harris? He begged for his life. It might just have saved him. His attacker got up and ran away.
Doggett: Makes no sense. Ray Pearce was a determined killer looking for someone to blame. Why stop here?
Scully: Wherever Ray Pearce went, the answer to that question went with him but I can tell you why he came after Owen Harris. It was his name Nora found in the file. He was the accountant who authorised the shipment of hazardous materials to Southside Salvage.
Doggett: But if Owen Harris is the guy Ray holds responsible, why'd Ray let him live?
Scully: Well, I think that Nora Pearce may have been right. Her husband died, or at least his body did. Whatever killed those people, was an abomination of a man. It was a machine.
Doggett: A machine? Come on, a machine doesn't know blame, Agent Scully.
Scully: Nor mercy. Unless what drove Ray to kill is also what saved those people. Some flicker of humanity.

Episode Number: 170
Season Number: 8
First Aired: Sunday, January 14, 2001
Production Code: 8X10

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