01 February 2008

Season 8: The Gift (8X11)

Written by: Frank Spotnitz
Directed by: Kim Manners

In a flashback, a car drives up to a semi-rural house in the middle of a rainstorm. A man gets out and enters the house, which is marked with a strange symbol in blood. Inside are Marie and Paul Hangemuhl, hiding a creature with ruined skin and cataracted eyes. The unseen man raises his gun and fires at the mysterious creature. It falls to the ground. He goes back to his car and drives away. The man is Mulder.

It is present day when Doggett arrives at the Sheriff's Station in Squamash, Pennsylvania to dig up clues about Mulder's disappearance. Sheriff Frey tells him that Mulder had been there the past spring to investigate the disappearance of Marie Hangemuhl, who was later found to have never been absent from her house. Although Mulder left no trace of this investigation in his files, Doggett uncovered cell phone records indicating he had been to the town the week before his abduction. The Sheriff brings Doggett to the Hangemuhl home, where they find a sickly Marie Hangemuhl suffering from kidney failure. She admits to meeting Mulder the previous spring, when he had asked about her disappearance. Her husband, Paul, quickly interjects that nothing out of the ordinary had gone on and that they never saw Mulder again. He claims that Mulder had been interested in an Indian folk legend about a creature from the woods that eats people. When they leave, Doggett mentions to the Sheriff that he spotted patches in the wall of the Hangemuhl house that could be bullet holes.

Returning to Washington, Doggett searches Mulder's apartment. He overturns every drawer and finds a pistol underneath the sink. He later asks Skinner about the mystery case, as well as an unreported three rounds discharged from the gun. Test results show that blood had splattered back, meaning Mulder had fired at close range. Although Skinner tries to defend Mulder and dismiss Doggett's claims, the paperwork proves that Scully had signed off on the falsified report. Doggett pledges that he will not take the situation to a review board, but will investigate further.

Back in Pennsylvania, a lynch mob converges on a rundown house in the woods. Paul Hangemuhl is among them. The leader of the group, Sheriff Frey, demands that it be sent outside. An old woman in the cabin tells the men that it is dead. Suddenly, a side door bursts open and a figure bolts out of the house into the woods. The men chase it, capturing what appears to be a deformed man. Later, Doggett and Skinner confront the Sheriff about the body of an unidentified transient found the day after Mulder's visit to the Hangemuhl home. The Sheriff is resistant to their charges, but they discover that the transient's grave has been unearthed. The casket is empty, and it appears that someone dug themselves out of the grave. Doggett becomes even more suspicious of the townspeople.

Paul Hangemuhl is painting the strange symbol on his front door with chicken's blood when the Sheriff arrives, inquiring about Marie's readiness. The deformed creature is taken from a cage and brought into the house, where Marie lies naked on the floor. It unhinges its jaw and rips into her body. She screams, as her husband silently prays in the next room. Doggett and Skinner return to the Hangemuhl home, looking for the missing Marie. Skinner spots a pool of blood seeping from under the couch. Doggett suggests that Mulder had been trying to protect Marie from whoever was buried in that coffin. Meanwhile, in a secret cave, the creature regurgitates a murky liquid into an outline of a human figure dug in the ground.

The remnants of a blood symbol are found on the Hangemuhl home. The Lone Gunmen analyze the symbol, via an internet feed, and tell Doggett and Skinner that it may summon a shaman to the house to aid the sick. Legend has it that a soul eater consumes illnesses. Doggett thinks that maybe it was connected to Marie's kidney disease and that maybe there wasn't really a transient buried in that coffin. The agents visit the old woman in the cabin because she had originally found the transient's body. Doggett tells her his theory that Mulder tried to kill the creature to protect Marie Hangemuhl, but the woman says he's got it all backwards. Doggett sees a cellar door in her house and goes down. He finds a fully-formed Marie on the ground, naked, covered in a gooey substance. He wraps her up and takes her to the hospital. She successfully recovers, and her kidneys have spontaneously healed. The soul eater actually took her to cure her, and Doggett realizes that Mulder was not trying to protect Marie when he shot at the creature.

Doggett returns to the home of the old woman, and she explains that people do not understand the creature's gift. It looks deformed because it takes on people's sicknesses. Mulder had come to Pennsylvania to try to save himself from his own illness. When he saw the creature's suffering, he couldn't go through with it. Mulder decided to shoot the creature to take its pain away. It was then buried, but didn't die. The townspeople know it is still alive and want it to help their sick, causing the creature to continue to suffer. Doggett carefully puts the creature in his car when the Sheriff and other townspeople show up.

They demand the creature be given back because there are sick people who need to be healed. The Sheriff shoots Doggett in the chest and the creature escapes. The townspeople bury Doggett's dead body and leave. Later, the creature brings Doggett back to life in the cave. He awakes in the human outline, covered in goo. The old woman is tending to the dying creature that took away Doggett's death.

Back at the FBI, Doggett sits at his computer. He's at a loss on what to write in his case report. He tells Skinner that he's not any closer to finding Mulder. You got inside his head, Skinner says, advising him not to write up a report. Doggett, however, wants the truth to be told. You and I both know what happened out there, the A.D. says. No one else needs to. As Skinner leaves, Doggett imagines that Mulder is standing in the office, watching him.

Mulder is mentioned as having a Walther PPK as a second weapon - the same gun he used to kill John Lee Roche in "Paper Hearts".

Mulder and Scully both briefly return in this episode, albeit in flashbacks.

Sheriff Frey: Shame to have you drive all the way up here on a Saturday. Hate to say you're wasting your time.
Doggett: Not if you confirm what you told me before.
Sheriff Frey: Yes, sir. Agent Mulder was here, all right... last spring.
Doggett: You said on the phone Agent Mulder was investigating a missing woman, Marie Hangemuhl.
Sheriff Frey: Well, she wasn't exactly missing. He wasn't exactly investigating, either.
Doggett: I'm not following you.
Sheriff Frey: It was a false report. Marie never even left the house. The only reason Agent Mulder found out about it was because Marie's sister got all excited about nothing. There. See for yourself. Say, I've got some hot coffee and a danish here if you're interested.
Doggett: No thanks.
Sheriff Frey: You know, if you don't mind me asking, Agent Doggett, what's your interest? I mean, I was actually surprised that one FBI agent gave this case a thought.
Doggett: It's not so much the case as it is the agent. Agent Mulder disappeared last May.
Sheriff Frey: Sorry to hear that. I still don't see what that has to do with us.
Doggett: Did Agent Mulder have a personal connection here — something that might not be in your report?
Sheriff Frey: No, I don't think he'd ever been to Squamash before, as far as I know.
Doggett: I have cell phone records showing that Agent Mulder came back here the week before he disappeared.
Sheriff Frey: What for?
Doggett: That's what I want to know. It's my job to find him.

Doggett: Three shots were fired in a house where Mulder investigated a case last May. He never filed a report on the case or the discharge of his weapon. Do you know any reason why?
Skinner: If Mulder did these things, he would've reported them.
Doggett: Mulder submitted case reports, all right but they indicate he was here in Washington on days his cell phone records prove he was in Pennsylvania.
Skinner: Are you calling Mulder a liar?
Doggett: This is the muzzle of Mulder's pistol. You see that there?
Skinner: It's blowback.
Doggett: Macrospatter of dried blood in a semicircular pattern. Which indicates Mulder fired close-range at something or someone.
Skinner: I've heard enough.
Doggett: Where are you going?
Skinner: It's where you're going, Agent Doggett. Trying to build a case, that what? Mulder killed a man and then made himself disappear? I told you before — he was abducted. I saw it!
Doggett: Agent Mulder signed falsified case reports.
Skinner: Oh, come on, John, this isn't about Mulder — it's about you! Your career. You give the FBI a narrative for Mulder's disappearance, you're off the X-Files and back on the fast-track to the directorship.
Doggett: I'm just trying to find the truth.
Skinner: You want the truth? Then ask Agent Scully!
Doggett: I can't do that.
Skinner: Why not?
Doggett: Because she... she signed those case reports, too.

Rustic Woman: To understand what this thing is, you have to understand what it can do — its gift. People hate it because they need it. It looks the way it does because of their sickness.
Doggett: You care for this man.
Rustic Woman: Someone always has.
Doggett: Because you believe it? That it can cure people's sickness?
Rustic Woman: Not cure. Consume.
Doggett: Mulder came to see you last year. Not to save Marie Hangemuhl. To save himself. Mulder was dying, but he kept it a secret. He had an undiagnosed brain disease. He was a sick man, desperate to find a cure.
Rustic Woman: They all are.
Doggett: Mulder didn't do it.
Rustic Woman: Agent Mulder saw how it suffered. He saw it in its eyes. I knew what needed to be done. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
Doggett: Mulder killed it.
Rustic Woman: He couldn't bear to add to its pain.
Doggett: So he came back here that night to take its pain away.
Rustic Woman: They buried it. It wanted to die. It still does, but it can't. All these months I've kept it here in secret. But now that they know it's back, it'll keep suffering.

Episode Number: 172
Season Number: 8
First Aired: Sunday, February 4, 2001
Production Code: 8X11

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