11 January 2008

Season 8: Via Negativa (8X07)

Written by: Frank Spotnitz
Directed by: Tony Wharmby

Agent Jim Leeds is fast asleep in his government sedan when his partner, Angus Stedman, raps on the window to wake him. There has been movement in the house they are watching. They quietly creep inside to find twenty slain bodies whose skulls have all been bashed in. Stedman senses a presence behind him, and turns to see a man holding a primitive axe. Leeds hears his cry and runs toward the hallway. Stedman lies in a pool of blood. His head has the same fatal wound as the other bodies. Leeds sees the man, who now has a third eye in the center of his forehead. The man hoists the axe and swings it over Leeds.

That same night, Doggett is awakened by Scully's phone call at 4:24 am. Skinner wants his help on a case. An agent was killed while on surveillance of a religious cult in Pittsburgh. She can not join him because "something unexpected's come up." Scully does not tell him that she is being admitted into a hospital. Early the next morning, Doggett arrives at the crime scene to meet Skinner. Agent Leeds' body is in his car, which was locked from the inside. The clues lead Doggett to believe that the murder did not occur in the car. "This is damn weird," he says. They take in the ghastly scene inside the house, where all twenty members of the cult were killed with a single blow to the head. The cult's leader, Anthony Tipet, is missing. Agent Crane reports that Leeds' partner has not been found. Doggett and Skinner break into Stedman's condo, but the agent has been killed with the same head blow as Leeds. Stedman's door was chain locked from the inside.

Back in Washington, Skinner and Doggett brief Deputy Director Kersh on the case. The perpetrator left no traces of evidence. Skinner proposes that perhaps Tipet's use of an Iboga hallucinogen drug may have allowed the man's consciousness to be removed from his body. This might have allowed him to attack unnoticed. Kersh assumes that this far-fetched theory belongs to Scully. Meanwhile, Tipet walks past a homeless man on a Pittsburgh street. He uses a payphone to call Andre Bormanis' lab. "You did this," Tipet says on the machine. Bormanis listens, petrified. Bormanis then takes a razor and slices a cross into his own forehead. Tipet walks past the homeless man again, but this time Tipet's third eye appears. Suddenly the sidewalk morphs into quicksand and the homeless man sinks. Tipet raises the axe and strikes him.

When Skinner tells him that Scully is taking personal leave from work, Doggett becomes angry. He believes that Scully and Skinner are hiding something from him. Skinner has news of the homeless man's death by the same head injury. Although Doggett is skeptical, Skinner asks him to suppose that this drug really does allow Tipet's spirit to be in one place while his body is in another. They trace the payphone's last call to Andre Bormanis, a convicted drug dealer. Skinner and Doggett go to Bormanis' lab and question him about Tipet. They notice that he has a scar on his forehead. According to Bormanis, Tipet was the only one able to take the drug in order to reach the depths of the soul. Bormanis screams for protection when he is thrown in a jail cell. Doggett finds bloodstained footprints in the jail corridor, and he follows them to a lotus-sitting Tipet hovering in the air. Tipet opens all three of his eyes and looks straight at Doggett. Doggett glances down to see that the footprints lead to his own shoes. He looks at his hands and realizes that he is holding the decapitated head of Scully. Skinner wakes him - it was only a dream. Scully is on the phone to tell Doggett to trust his instincts. It hits Doggett that Bormanis was trying to not fall asleep.

Bormanis sees Tipet at his prison cell. Suddenly rats swarm Bormains and he is eaten alive. Doggett runs to the cell, but Bormanis has been killed from the same blow to the skull. Doggett finds the Lone Gunmen in Mulder's office. Scully sent them to help out on the case. They explain the idea that a third eye would bring one closer to God. Doggett formulates the theory that Tipet truly believes he has opened his third eye, and that by invading other people's dreams, he could make their worst nightmares come true. Doggett insists that Tipet would want more of the Iboga drug to continue killing. He smiles at the Gunmen. "That's what Mulder would think, right?" he says, before leaving for Bormanis' lab.

Doggett and Skinner arrive at the lab to find Tipet standing over a rotating table saw. They order him away from the blade. "I want this to end, but I just can't stop it," he bemoans. Tipet says that Doggett understands, and Doggett realizes that Tipet knows about his dream. Tipet leans over the table saw and the blade cuts into his skin. Doggett pulls him off and brings him to the hospital. While signing Tipet in, he sees Scully's name on the roster. She has been admitted for acute abdominal pain. Doggett reports to Kersh that Tipet made people's worst nightmares come true with the use of the drug. Since Tipet is in custody, Kersh closes out the case, but Doggett pleads for it to remain open. He explains that no evidence has been found. Yet Kersh wants nothing to do with an unexplained case and closes it. Confused by his own dreams, Doggett leaves a message on Scully's machine, telling her that he knows the case doesn't really add up.

While looking at a mirror, Doggett sees Tipet standing behind him. When he turns around, the man is gone. Doggett gets into bed and doesn't see Tipet waiting by the stairs with the axe. Doggett wakes in the morning and dresses for work. His reflection looking back at him shows the third eye on Doggett's forehead. His eyes widen with shock, and all three eyes blink with disbelief. Then the eye disappears. He goes to the FBI and walks into Skinner's office in somewhat of a daze. "I'm not sure I'm awake," he tells the A.D. Doggett recounts seeing Tipet in his house with an axe, and feels that the man can see inside his dreams. Skinner tries to convince him that he needs to go home and get some sleep. Doggett walks through a strangely deserted FBI hallway on the second floor. The ends of the corridor seem to disappear into infinity. The sound of echoing footsteps reveals Tipet, who whispers in reverse-speak "She's going to die."

Doggett, who also speaks in reverse, tells him that he won't let him do that. Tipet replies that it is Doggett who will kill Scully. Doggett closes his eyes, bringing his hands to his face in great distress. He drops his hands to see that he is now in Scully's apartment building. His hands, stained with blood, hold the axe. A deep, blue light strobes in and out from the windows, and a baby's endless cry fills the room. Tears well in Doggett's eyes as he realizes why he is dreaming this. Scully is asleep in the bed and Doggett holds the axe over her. He makes a decision, and lets the axe fall. Then he raises it over his own head and swings it at himself. Before it strikes him, he is woken up by Scully in his house. He lets out a deep, ragged sigh and tells her that she just saved his life. She says that she merely woke him up to tell him that Tipet died. Doggett was scared by the violent images in his nightmare, but thinks that maybe someone else put them there. "It was a bad dream, Agent Doggett," Scully says. "But that's all it was."

This is the first X-Files episode where we learn that Langly's first name is 'Richard'. In the season 5 episode "Unusual Suspects" there was a scene where Langly is called 'Ringo' but it was cut from the finished version.

The Via Negativa was first designed as a way of talking about God. As language limits a supposedly infinite God, it was concluded that the only way to talk about God was by saying what God is not, eg: God is not a cucumber. The title of the episode is refering to this.

Scully: It's, uh, it's Agent Scully. I'm sorry to wake you.
Doggett: What's up?
Scully: I got a call about 20 minutes ago from Assistant Director Skinner. He has a situation.
Doggett: What is it?
Scully: An Agent is dead. Um, Skinner had him surveilling a religious cult in Pittsburgh. And all the followers are dead, as well.
Doggett: What happened?
Scully: He's having difficulty determining that.
Doggett: I'll pick you up.
Scully: I'm sorry, Agent Doggett. I can't go.
Doggett: Agent Scully?
Scully: Um, something unexpected has come up.
Doggett: You all right?
Scully: Yeah, I'm, I'm fine.
Doggett: Will I see you later?
Scully: Uh, as soon as I can.
(As she hangs up, she is approached by a nurse)
Nurse: Miss Scully? The doctor wants to see you right away.

Skinner: Anthony Tipet served 12 years for the bludgeoning death of his wife. After his release, he became a minister preaching a hybrid of evangelical and eastern religions. He claimed a higher plane of being could be reached by the 'Via Negativa' — the path of darkness — the plane closer to god. Once reached, it would let the spirit travel unhindered. Tipet believed hallucinogens would lead him to this plane — specifically compounds of the bark of an African tree... the Iboga.
Agent Arnold: You're saying all these people were so stoned on this bark they just let their leader kill them?
Skinner: We found no trace of the drug in the blood of any of the victims.
Deputy Director Kersh: I don't understand. How in the hell did Tipet manage to slaughter all these people?
Doggett: Tipet was paranoid but nothing indicates he was ready to take the lives of his own people or our men.
Deputy Director Kersh: This is our one and only suspect. Are you telling me he didn't do it?
Doggett: Whoever did this left not even a trace how: No prints, no forensic evidence whatsoever. Agent Leeds' sedan, the cult house, Agent Stedman's condo... were all locked from the inside.
Deputy Director Kersh: That's impossible.
Skinner: Unless Tipet took the drug and succeeded. Unless his consciousness was there but his body was somewhere else.
Deputy Director Kersh: The X-File explanation. I take it this theory comes from Agent Scully?
Doggett: Agent Scully has yet to reach any conclusions, sir.
Deputy Director Kersh: That's the problem. I'm not hearing conclusions from either one of you. If this man has reached a higher plane then explain to me why 22 people are dead, including two FBI Agents. Now I want to hear what you're going to do about it.

Skinner: You spoke to Anthony Tipet earlier this evening.
Dr Bormanis: My machine picked up. I missed the call.
Skinner: What did he want? We need to find him, Dr Bormanis. This man may have murdered 23 people.
Dr Bormanis: Twenty-three? You said... twenty-two.
Skinner: Another man died tonight.
Dr Bormanis: I'm not doing anything illegal here. I just... I just made him stuff.
Skinner: You mean drugs. You supplied Anthony Tipet with drugs, isn't that right?
Dr Bormanis: Hallucinogens were Tipet's way into the depths of the soul, the heights of consciousness, planes of being that our feeble brain chemistry cannot begin to imagine.
Skinner: Is that why you cut yourself? Or is that the, uh... mark of the initiated?
Dr Bormanis: It's protection. At least I hope it is. Nobody took the trips but Tipet. See, only his mind was strong enough.
Doggett: You know, I can't tell, doctor, whether you admire Tipet or you're afraid of him. Those people he killed last night, did they admire him, too?
Dr Bormanis: What are you doing?
Doggett: Taking you in for questioning.
Dr Bormanis: On what charges? I just... I just... explained it to you.

Doggett: How'd you get here?
Scully: Your door was unlocked.
Doggett: You just saved my life, Agent Scully.
Scully: I just woke you up, Agent Doggett.
Doggett: Tipet's in my dreams. If you hadn't woken me up just now...
Scully: Anthony Tipet is dead. I got the call from Skinner on my way over here. He never regained consciousness.
Doggett: Are you okay?
Scully: I seem to be, yes.
Doggett: Well, if you need some more time off...
Scully: No. I'm back at work now. That must have been some nightmare you just had.
Doggett: Tipet thought he'd find god... by looking in the darkness inside himself.
Scully: You don't think he succeeded?
Doggett: In my dreams, I see... I saw terrible... violent images that... scared the living daylights out of me. These things are a part of me. I can't deny that, but... maybe... maybe they didn't come from me.
Scully: Then where'd they come from? It was a bad dream, Agent Doggett, but that's all it was.

Episode Number: 168
Season Number: 8
First Aired: Sunday, December 17, 2000
Production Code: 8X07

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