28 February 2008

Season 8: Medusa (8X13)

Written by: Frank Spotnitz
Directed by: Richard Compton

A man waits alone on the Clay Street train platform in Boston. He is an undercover transit cop who, speaking into a microphone on his lapel, describes a gangbanger that has jumped the turnstile. The train arrives, and the cop steps in the empty car as it moves into a tunnel. The gangbanger enters from another car. Suddenly, the train lurches to an abrupt stop and loses its power. Strobes of bright light fill the car, and a man's scream is heard. The gangbanger jumps down on the tracks and runs off into the tunnel. At the next stop, incoming passengers see the officer's body on the floor of the car. Huge chunks of his face and body have been eaten away, revealing sections of skull and skeleton.

At the Boston Transit Operations Center, Scully and Doggett talk with Deputy Transit Police Chief Karras, who wants to reopen the line in time for the afternoon rush hour. Scully insists on keeping the train closed until the man's cause of death can be determined. Armed and wearing a flak jacket, Doggett proceeds into the tunnel, joined by Police Lieutenant Bianco, Center for Disease Control pathogen expert Hellura Lyle and transit engineer Steven Melnick. Scully, manning the expedition from above ground, communicates with Doggett by radio and video camera. As they venture into the tunnel, they find it to be unusually hot because ventilation was shut down. Suddenly, Melnick screams, indicating a burn on his neck. Dr. Lyle does a sample analysis on a puddle that the group had passed, but finds that the liquid is only seawater.

In the darkness, Lt. Bianco sees a figure move. Doggett chases after it into an unused and obsolete tunnel, and gets attacked by a man with horrifyingly decayed features. The man is the gangbanger who previously ran off into the tunnels. Lt. Bianco is ready to end the search when Melnick spots three bodies wrapped in plastic. Dr. Lyle sees a shadow run off, but, upon investigation, the team can't find anyone. Scully, believing a contagion is still a risk factor, directs them to leave the bodies and continue into the main tunnel. Melnick screams again, this time with burns on his arms and hands. Scully orders them to pour fresh water on Melnick from their canteens. She guesses that they may be facing some kind of bio-chemical agent. While Dr. Lyle stays with Melnick, Doggett and Bianco start into a side tunnel. No one notices Lt. Bianco's hand glowing faintly green. Scully meets the hazmat team as they bring out Dr. Lyle, the deteriorating Melnick and the three dead victims. She orders that the bodies be taken to the CDC and accuses Karras of hiding dead bodies that he knew were down there.

Doggett and Bianco trudge into the next tunnel. Bianco's face and hands begin to glow green, but it has no other effect on him. He tries to leave, but Doggett pulls a gun on him. Bianco kicks him in the face, knocking Doggett out, and he escapes. Doggett now has the green fluorescent glow on his skin. Scully, meanwhile, gets a visit from Dr. Kai Bowe, a marine biologist. She has analyzed the water from the tunnel, and has found that it contains a sea creature, called a medusa, which is why the CDC missed it when they inspected the liquid. The medusas glow with bioelectricity, but do not burn people on contact. Something triggers it. Scully fears the worst for her partner.

Doggett wakes up and speaks to Scully on the radio. If he is to stop the spread of the contaminant, he needs to find Lt. Bianco. Karras tells Scully that he has reopened the subway and there are already passengers on the platform. It is now becoming urgent to protect the thousands of passengers. Doggett locates Bianco, lying in the tunnel. Scully tells Doggett to get out, but Bianco begs him to stay. Doggett helps Bianco walk, and they see a child's shadow. The boy, who is unaffected, points to a wall. Scully figures out that sweat triggers the electricity. Since the boy's sweat glands aren't fully developed, he has not been affected. The boy motions Doggett toward a big leak in the ceiling with water running from the bay. He leads him to a main track, where trains from the reopened system are about to cross. Doggett is faced with a train heading towards him. He places Bianco's gun on the third rail, which triggers a spark when the train hits it. The electricity charges into the puddles of seawater, killing the medusa. It vanishes from Doggett's and Bianco's skin.

Doggett is later treated at Boston General Hospital. Scully tells him that he is rid of the organism and is perfectly fine. The boy is with social services. Plastic surgeons are working on Melnick and Bianco, and the three bodies' deaths are being attributed to an unknown pathogen. Since there is no proof that Karras endangered people's lives, he can't be criminally charged for keeping the trains running. He was merely doing his job. Scully congratulates Doggett for saving all those people's lives. You figured it out, he tells her. I was just your eyes and ears.

In the teaser, the undercover cop refers to "a possible ten-thirteen" in his radio call. This is a common X-Files in-joke. Many episodes make reference to "ten thirteen" or "1013" in some fashion. This is because 10/13/56 is Chris Carter's birthdate. His production company is also "Ten Thirteen Productions".

David Duchovny does not appear in this episode.

Doggett: Do you need some help with that?
Scully: No. You're going in without me.
Doggett: What?
Scully: I don't know what kind of games are being played, but I'm going to be much more effective analysing the situation from up here.
Doggett: Yeah, but I'm just tag along here. This is your thing. You've got all the experience.
Scully: You've got capable people with you, Agent Doggett. What I need down there are eyes and ears.
Doggett: Okay. I'll be your eyes and ears. But I wish somebody would tell me what the hell I'm supposed to be looking for.

Scully: (on radio) I want you to leave those bodies where you found them and go after whoever it is who's in that tunnel. We need to know whether he is causing this or if he's infected himself. Either way, he may kill more people. I'm sure Dr Lyle will agree.
Doggett: All right, we just got our order. We're going to continue on.
Lieutenant Bianco: Says who?
Doggett: Says the boss.
Lieutenant Bianco: Agent Doggett. This agent you work with deals with weird stuff, right?
Doggett: She works on something called the X-Files — FBI cases dealing with unexplained phenomena.
Lieutenant Bianco: You know her at all?
Doggett: Yeah, I know her. We've worked together for a short time.
Lieutenant Bianco: I wonder why she sent you down here instead of coming herself.
Doggett: It's the right call. You got a problem, Lieutenant?
Lieutenant Bianco: Yeah. A problem when somebody I don't know keeps me down here in the dark looking for jack squat when we've already found our man.
Doggett: It's a question of contagion.
Lieutenant Bianco: It's a question of who's in charge.

Deputy Chief Karras: Agent Scully, we are on a deadline here, which is fast approaching.
Scully: These bodies need immediate examination and diagnosis.
Deputy Chief Karras: And that is being arranged.
Scully: By whom? I already arranged it. You knew those bodies were down there, didn't you?
Deputy Chief Karras: I'd watch yourself, Agent Scully.
Scully: Look at the way they're wrapped. Somebody sealed them in plastic, hoping they wouldn't be found. Look, if I find out you sent my partner and those others down there knowing about this...
Deputy Chief Karras: You are way out of line here.
Scully: I want to see inspection reports. I want to know who was down there in that tunnel and what they saw.
Deputy Chief Karras: I'll get you anything you want.
Scully: Good. Now, let's get these bodies to the CDC where they're supposed to go.

Scully: (on radio) Agent Doggett? Agent Doggett, can you hear me? Agent Doggett?
Doggett: (on radio) Yeah. I'm here. I hear you.
Scully: (on radio) Oh, you had me. I... I started fearing the worst.
Doggett: (on radio) No, I... I got blindsided by... I don't see Lieutenant Bianco. He's infected with something. I saw it glowing on his skin.
Scully: (on radio) And what's your condition, Agent Doggett?
Doggett: (on radio) I'm going to assume it's not good. (He is covered in the green glowing substance)
Scully: (on radio) I'm going to send a quarantine unit down to get you, Agent Doggett, okay? I want you to stay right where you are.
Doggett: (on radio) I appreciate it, Agent Scully, but I can't do that. If we're going to stop the spread of this thing I got to stop Lieutenant Bianco.
Scully: (in Control Room) Dr Bowe, I need you to get on the phone with the CDC. Tell them everything we know. We have to learn as quickly as possible what sets this thing off. (to Deputy Chief Karras) Look... I need you to blockade any and every exit from the system. You've got a possible outbreak situation here.
Deputy Chief Karras: (in Control Room) No, no. That's not going to happen.
Scully: (in Control Room) No, you listen to me. Your lieutenant is infected and at large in the system and he is looking for a way out.
Deputy Chief Karras: (in Control Room) I hear you. It's just that there are already passengers waiting on the platform.

Doggett: Nurse! Nurse! (He gets out of bed)
Scully: Where do you think you're going?
Doggett: Find the nurse. She said she was going to talk to the doctor about me going home. I could be dying in here for all she knows.
Scully: Well, you're not... Agent Doggett. Your skin and body have been rid of the organism. Simple alcohol bath cleaned you right up. I was just down talking to the nurse and... I told her I'd come and give you the news.
Doggett: Well, can I get out of here?
Scully: Yes.
(Doggett heads for the bathroom, then, remembering he's wearing nothing but an open backed hospital gown, backs towards the bathroom instead)
Doggett: What about the others?
Scully: Well, the kid is with Social Services, and plastic surgeons are working on Melnick and Bianco, and Dr Lyle has been discharged.
Doggett: You know, I'd like to think that this was over, but there's going to be hell to pay for these guys.
Scully: No. It's over, Agent Doggett.
Doggett: Excuse me? This guy Karras, put a train back on the tracks. He recklessly endangered peoples lives.
Scully: But there is no proof of that.
Doggett: What do you mean, there's no proof?
Scully: What I'm saying is that the organism is no longer extant. It's destroyed.
Doggett: By what?
Scully: I'm guessing by the electrical charge that you set off.
Doggett: We have victims. Dead bodies.
Scully: Infected by a pathogen of unknown aetiology. Look, Agent Doggett, not a criminal charge is going to stick. These guys were just doing their job — keeping the trains running. But they've got you to thank. And not just for saving their butts.
Doggett: No. You figured it out. I was just your eyes and ears. Agent Scully...
Scully: Let's go home.

Episode Number: 173
Season Number: 8
First Aired: Sunday, February 11, 2001
Production Code: 8X13

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