18 July 2008

Season 9: Underneath (9X09)

Written by: John Shiban
Directed by: John Shiban

In Brooklyn, New York, 1989, cable man Robert Fassl stops his van outside a house on a modest suburban street. As Fassl kisses a rosary, a voice in the shadows directs him to do his job. Fassl gains entry to the house, where he speaks with a teenage girl and her father. Suddenly, the father falls over dead, a screwdriver sticking from his neck, and the teenage girl and her mother are also savagely murdered in the blink of an eye. Fassl looks on in horror. Moments later, two NYPD officers rush in and take Fassl into custody. One of them is John Doggett.

In the present day, Doggett receives word that DNA evidence cleared Fassl of the murders. Doggett is convinced that a mistake has been made, though he admits to Reyes that he did not catch Fassl in the act. Fassl's attorney, Jana Fain, arranges for him to stay at her enormous estate on his release from prison, where he is introduced to Mrs Dowdy, Jana's housekeeper. Shown the room where he'll be staying, Fassl sees one of the walls defaced with the words "kill her" written in blood.

Assistant District Attorney Damon Kaylor allows Dogett and Scully to review old files pertaining to the case. Meanwhile, Reyes meets with Brian Hutchison, the superintendent of the prison where Fassl was incarcerated. He explains that Fassl's cell mate was found murdered, and the killer was photographed by a security camera, but didn't fit the description of anyone held at the prison. A photograph of the mysterious killer shows a Bearded Man seen outside the courthouse when Fassl was set free. The Bearded Man appears in Fassl's bedroom, screwdriver in hand. Fassl begs him not to harm Jana.

Scully tells Doggettt that the hair sample used for the DNA test is so similar that it must have come from a blood relative, but Fassl is an only child and both his parents died when he was thirteen. Fassl, meanwhile, discovers the body of Mrs Dowdy stuffed into a dumbwaiter. He disposes of the evidence. Doggett meets with his old partner Duke Tomasick, who helped arrest Fassl years earlier. Tomasick tells Doggett that he planted the evidence used to convict Fassl, using hair found at a previous murder.

Damon Kaylor shows up at Jana Fain's estate and tells Fassl he may get some compensation, but Fassl instead begs to be put back in prison. Moments later, the Bearded Man kills Kaylor with a screwdriver, and Fassl hides the body in a sewer tunnel. Reyes shows Jana and Fassl the photo of the Bearded Man, and Fassl grows noticeably anxious, running rosary beads through his fingers. When Scully attempts to question him, Jana ends the conversation. Later, Reyes poses a question: What if a devout Catholic was incapable of contrition? She speculates that his sinful side might manifest a second personality, backing this up with the concept of transubstantiation (when a communion wafer transforms into the Body of Christ). The agents then wonder how they can catch a killer who hides within an innocent man.

Later, the Bearded Man insists that Fassl kill Jana Fain, but he refuses to do so. The Bearded Man grabs Jana but, for reasons unknown, lets her go. At Jana's estate, the agents notice blood on a manhole ladder. Doggett and Reyes descend into the tunnel, where they spot the Bearded Man. Doggett opens fire, but the apparition gets away. After splitting up, Reyes falls into an underground culvert filled with bones and body parts belonging to the Bearded Man's many victims. Reyes calls Doggett's name, and as he makes his way to her, the Bearded Man attacks.

The Bearded Man holds the screwdriver to Doggett's throat, while Reyes tries to reach out to whatever small part of Fassl exists within the Bearded Man. Growing upset, the Bearded Man pulls the screwdriver away and Reyes opens fire. Moments later, the agents realize the Bearded Man is now a dead Robert Fassl.

Doggett's former partner, Duke Tomasick, was named for the X-Files Construction Coordinator.

Reyes: Was that the DA on the case?
Doggett: Assistant DA. Some jack-off who was probably in ninth grade when this happened.
Reyes: What is it exactly you want him to do?
Doggett: Keep the bastard locked up where he belongs. Did you read that? My partner and I busted this guy Fassl when I was a beat cop 13 years ago. He killed seven people. Now they want to let him go so he can kill again.
Reyes: It says here, the DNA evidence proves he's innocent.
Doggett: It's wrong. It's some lab mistake. It's as simple as that. My partner Duke and I, we catch this 911. Neighbour's hearing screaming coming from this house on Flatbush Avenue. We get there. Teenage girl, mother, father — all dead. There's blood... I can still remember the sound of the blood squishing under my shoes. This guy Fassl's just standing there.
Reyes: So you didn't actually catch him in the act.
Doggett: Ten seconds earlier through the door, and we would have. (to Scully) Tell me you got good news.
Scully: I have combed through every detail of this ME's report. I have read and re-read it. And I am sorry, Agent Doggett, but the DNA fingerprinting does indeed exonerate this man.
Doggett: You're telling me there's no way? There's not even a million-to-one chance that these DNA tests are wrong?
Scully: Actually, a hundred million.
Doggett: I need the reports run again. I need you to do it yourself.
Scully: Agent Doggett, you just... it'd take at least 48 hours.
Doggett: That's too long.
Reyes: Where are you going?
Doggett: New York. I can't just sit here and wait for this guy to kill again.
Reyes: John...
Doggett: Look, I get it. Enough people tell you you're drunk, it's time to lie down. But I know what I know. I could really use your help.

Scully: There's a lot of material here. Where should we start?
Doggett: Right there. The original arrest report.
Scully: (reading) 'Arresting officer: John Doggett.' Must've been a career-maker.
Doggett: Well, it didn't hurt when I put in for detective. The murders had been front-page news for weeks. The sense of relief everybody felt when we caught Fassl, it was...
Scully: You know, John... whatever we find here, sometimes... sometimes even good cops make mistakes.
Doggett: Yeah. And I've made more than I can count but this wasn't one of them. Whatever you think... I'm not here trying to cover my ass.
Scully: That's not what I think. It's not. I just... I just worry that maybe this is about you feeling guilty.
Doggett: I feel guilty. Like what, subconsciously? Like I was told I sent an innocent man to prison only I refuse to accept it? A cop I know, a man I respect deeply he told me one time, 'You don't clock out at the end of your shift unless you know you did everything you could'. That's what this is about — me not clocking out.

Scully: Were you here all night?
Doggett: There's got to be something here the prosecution overlooked — I overlooked — something I can hang this guy with DNA or no.
Scully: Well, speaking of DNA...
Doggett: Aw, come on...
Scully: The re-tests of the typing confirm the original results — that the hair samples do indeed belong to someone other than Robert Fassl.
Doggett: So, what do we do? We just go home? This is wrong. This is...
Scully: Well, John, there is something else. It's something that explains why thirteen years ago the science of the day identified the hair as Fassl's. I spoke to the forensic examiner who ran the tests and he found a match in 12 of the 13 key genes.
Doggett: What does that mean?
Scully: It means that the mitochondrial DNA in the hair sample is genetically similar to Fassl's. In fact, it is remarkably similar. It is so similar that it must be from a blood relative.
Doggett: Wait a minute. Fassl's an only child. His parents died when he was 13. He's got nobody.
Scully: I know.
Doggett: You know? Then you know that what you're saying's impossible.
Scully: And yet, somehow it's true.

Doggett: What the hell was that?
Reyes: I don't know about you, but that was me changing my theory.
Doggett: What, no more ghosts?
Reyes: Uh, nope. Just Fassl. What if a man of profound faith — a devout catholic — was incapable of contrition?
Scully: As in, he couldn't admit his own sins?
Reyes: Or even that he had a sinful side to him, as we all do. What if he were so frightened by it that he couldn't even admit it to himself? Might not someone like that manifest a second personality?
Doggett: But it wouldn't explain the DNA evidence.
Reyes: It would if he physically became that other personality.
Doggett: So what, we've moved on from 'Casper, The Friendly Ghost' to 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'?
Reyes: There is a precedent — in the catholic canon itself. Transubstantiation: The manipulation of matter and energy.
Scully: You mean, water into wine.
Reyes: Or the communion wafer into the body of Christ.
Doggett: Monica, I've slept through my share of Sunday schools but I never heard the story about the guy becoming another guy.
Reyes: It's the one explanation that makes sense. It explains what happened 13 years ago and it explains what's happening now.
Scully: So what you're saying is... because this man won't face himself, won't face his own sins then he is forced to become someone else. A killer.
Doggett: So, how does someone go about catching a killer who hides inside an innocent man?

Reyes: John...?
Doggett: I've been 48 hours without sleep. I found out my ex-partner's a liar and a felon. Don't ask me to explain how this could be.
Reyes: So what happened tonight? All that was just you seeing things?
Doggett: I can't accept this. If you can, god love you, but it's not the way my mind works.
Reyes: You closed this case. This time around, that was enough.
Doggett: What happens next time?

Episode Number: 194
Season Number: 9
First Aired: Sunday, March 31, 2002
Production Code: 9X09

You can rate this episode here:

No comments: