15 July 2008

Season 9: Hellbound (9X04)

Written by: David Amann
Directed by: Kim Manners

Inside a church in Novi, Virginia, Dr. Lisa Holland holds a management group for ex-convicts. One of the men, Terry Pruit, tells the others that his life has turned around since he joined the group. But another man, Ed, scoffs at the idea of being able to change. A short time later, another man in the group, whose name is Victor, tells Holland that he has been experiencing bad dreams in which he sees people being skinned alive. After the session ends, Victor experiences a vision... and sees Ed completely skinned from head to toe.

One night, Reyes informs Doggett about Victor Potts' murder. Doggett enters the morgue, where Scully shows him Potts' body, which has been completely skinned. Reyes then informs Doggett that Potts had a premonition about being skinned alive only hours before he was killed. Both Doggett and Scully sense that something about the case is troubling Reyes. Later, at a meat packing plant, Terry has a vision... in which he sees Ed skinned alive.

With the assistance of Detective Van Allen, Reyes and Doggett interview Dr. Holland, who remains neutral about whether or not Ed could have killed Victor. After the meeting ends, Doggett realizes that Reyes contacted Holland about the case. Meanwhile, Scully contacts Dr. Bertram Mueller, a retired medical examiner. Scully questions Mueller about a John Doe case from 1960. The victim had been skinned alive. Mueller informs Scully that the sheriff wanted to keep the incident quiet, as the victim was a drifter. One day, the sheriff put a bullet through his own head. Before Scully leaves, Mueller informs her about other similar deaths.

The agents are summoned to the meat packing plant when Terry's skinned body is discovered. Doggett is shocked when he realizes Terry is still alive. When Doggett asks Terry to name the perpetrator, Terry tells him is was Ed. Later, Doggett takes Ed into custody. Reyes questions Ed... and tells him that she is seeing the same visions. A short time later, Van Allen sets Ed free, as his girlfriend has vouched for his whereabouts at the time of the murder. Scully runs a background check on two of the victims murdered in 1960. Both were ex-convicts. One man died on Victor's birthday, while the other died on Terry's birthday.

When Reyes instincts tell her that Ed may also be in danger, Doggett races to his house. Unfortunately, Doggett finds Ed's body, which has been stripped of skin. Reyes tells Doggett that she senses she's somehow involved in the murders, as if she possesses some kind of memory of it from long ago. She believes the perpetrator wanted to murder the victims' souls. Doggett scoffs at the notion that reincarnation is involved. Reyes then realizes that the rag found stuffed in Ed's mouth is black from coal dust from a mine.

She and Doggett head to the abandoned mine, where Doggett discovers the skeleton of a sheriff. Reyes makes her way deeper into the tunnel, where she discovers human skins in various stages of decay. A figure armed with a hunting knife steps out of the shadows and grabs hold of Reyes. The figure, it turns out, is Detective Van Allen. Suddenly, Van Allen runs off down a tunnel. Reyes tells Doggett that Van Allen is avenging his own murder in 1860. All the murders linked to the case have been in groups of four. Reyes believes Van Allen takes his own life so he can restart the cycle again and again.

She phones the church, and warns Dr. Holland that her life may be in danger. This gives Holland a slight edge when Van Allen launches his attack. She runs out of the church, with Van Allen in hot pursuit. Reyes suddenly appears and opens fire, putting a bullet through Van Allen's chest. Before he dies, Van Allen tells Reyes that, in the past, she has always failed.

A doctor in the episode is named Sackheim after a producer/director on The X Files.

Doggett: Damn. I've seen a bunch of these when I was a cop. It's a favourite of some of the pan-asian gangs.
Reyes: The difference is Victor Potts had a premonition of his death.
Doggett: And?
Scully: That was my question.
Reyes: What I'm saying is, this man was skinned alive just hours after describing it in exact detail.
Doggett: Maybe he could describe it because maybe somebody threatened him.
Reyes: He said it came in a dream, or a vision, according to the woman who last spoke to him.
Doggett: Who's that?
Reyes: Dr Lisa Holland. She's a therapist who runs an anger management group for ex-cons.
Doggett: Lifelong criminal's bound to have some bad enemies. People capable of this very thing. I mean, unless there's something here that I'm just not seeing.
Scully: Well, from what I could see from my visual exam the skin was removed with considerable skill by someone using a hunting-type knife. Arteries and veins were left intact so as to prolong the period that the victim would suffer.
Doggett: Terrible way to die, for sure.
Reyes: I know.
Scully: Is there anything else... Agent Reyes? Something special that brought this case to your attention as a possible X-File?
Reyes: No. I just know I need to solve this and I'd appreciate your help.

Dr Mueller: In all my days, I never saw anything as inhuman as this. (He's looking through the case file and autopsy photos)
Scully: Sir, I haven't located police records from the investigation. Was there ever a suspect who was charged or arrested in this case as far as you know?
Dr Mueller: No suspects, no investigation for that matter.
Scully: I don't understand.
Dr Mueller: The victim was a John Doe — a nobody. Carl Hobart, the county sheriff, figured he was a drifter. Hobart said he didn't want to stir up the community.
Scully: And no one called him on that?
Dr Mueller: I tried... the sheriff had other things on his mind, I suppose.
Scully: Why do you say that?
Dr Mueller: Well, it wasn't long after that he put a bullet through his head. What are you thinking, doctor? This is some copycat murder 40-odd years later?
Scully: If so, it's the most perfectly executed that I've ever seen. And why copy an obscure murder that nobody's ever even heard of?
Dr Mueller: A string of murders.
Scully: I'm sorry?
Dr Mueller: I thought you knew. John Doe... was only the first.

Reyes: Agent Scully?
Scully: Agent Reyes.
Reyes: What are these?
Scully: I showed you files of men killed in 1960, skinned alive like the current victims. Well, I had two of those bodies exhumed looking for crossover forensic details.
Reyes: Are there any?
Scully: Yes, there are cuts in the bone... on the tibias and on the shoulder girdles, that matched the cutting patterns I found on Victor Potts... using the exact same knife which left a signature pattern of grooves.
Reyes: Same knife, same killer, that's what you're saying, right?
Scully: Well, it's even weirder than that. I ran bios and backgrounds from the victims from 1960.
Reyes: They're both ex-convicts like the current victims?
Scully: Mm-hmm. But look at the date that they died.
Reyes: March 8th, 1960. June 21st, 1960.
Scully: Birth dates of Victor Potts and Terry Pruit. Potts and Pruit were born on the exact same dates that the previous victims died. You knew that we'd find something like this didn't you, Agent Reyes? How?

Doggett: This thing with the birthdays is weird, no doubt about it. Looks to me like we're dealing with a real sick puppy here.
Reyes: I don't think so.
Doggett: Choosing your victims because of their damn birth dates, it's the very definition of a serial killer. I think we should get the boys from behavioural science out on this.
Reyes: No. That's not what's happening here.
Doggett: It's the only thing that makes sense.
Reyes: To you.
Doggett: Okay, what do you think it is?
Reyes: He knew he was going to die. He had a premonition of his death. Just like the first victim did.
Doggett: So how do you figure that?
Reyes: I'm involved in this some way. I have some kind of memory of it. It's all happened before and now it's happening again.
Doggett: You mean that it's a copycat and you have some kind of recall.
Reyes: These men were born to die this way. The same way they died before.
Doggett: The same way they died before?
Reyes: Not the men... but their souls. Their souls are murdered over and over again from one lifetime to the next. By someone who won't let them rest.
Doggett: How's this happening... their souls coming back? Reincarnation?
Reyes: It doesn't strike you, that these men were all born on the dates of the previous victims' deaths?
Doggett: Yeah, it strikes me. It strikes me that the killer is clever.
Reyes: A rag is stuffed in his mouth. A dirty rag. Black with soot. Coal dust... from a coal mine.
Doggett: How the hell did you know that?
Reyes: I don't know.

Episode Number: 190
Season Number: 9
First Aired: Sunday, January 27, 2002
Production Code: 9X04

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