Guest Writer: Nicholas Monitto
At a small venue concert, a young man hops up on stage and dives into the crowd. As he is carried back, he sees someone in the back that looks exactly like him. The twin goes out a side door and the young man follows. The twin is gone, so the man leaves in his truck.
Racing down the road, a police car lights up behind him, then pulls out and goes around, relieving the young man. Glancing to the right, he sees the twin is now in the passenger seat. The twin grabs the wheel and they fight for control. The truck crashes into a tree and the young man is launched through the windshield, though shockingly, he survives. Mulder and Scully travel to the area (Henrico County, Virginia), where it is noted that others had supposedly seen doubles of themselves before dying. Each incident resembled a suicide. When they interview the young man, he says he had been seeing the double off and on for about a week.
They speak to a doctor at the psychiatric hospital, and then ask about one particular patient who the staff seems to fear. Her diagnosis is “non-conforming schizophrenia”. Entering the room to interview her, they speak to “Little Judy”. She says she plays ‘telepathic hangman’ with her brother. One game reads “ARKIE”. When asked if she knows Arkie Seavers (the young man in the crash), Judy replies, “I don’t, but she might” and points to an empty chair. Judy draws a frown on the face of the hangman. Arkie is mysteriously transferred to another cell, which contains his double.
Mulder and Scully get rooms at an area motel. In the middle of the night, Scully awakens to see Mulder standing above her, telling her that Arkie was found dead. The next day, Mulder drives to the house of Chucky Poundstone, the guard who found Arkie. The walls are filled with hangman games; this is the brother Judy mentioned. While Mulder is there, Chucky speaks to an unseen person.
Scully returns to the hospital and is met by “Demon Judy”, a nasty and insulting woman. Scully is clearly insecure and rattled by her. After Scully leaves, Chucky reads an article quoting Dean Cavalier, Arkie’s lawyer. He initiates a psychic game with Judy. The next day, Mulder returns to Chucky’s house, pushing him to anger, while Scully meets with Little Judy, asking her not to play the game anymore.
Dean is at a diner and sees his twin outside. Losing him, he goes to see Mulder and Scully at their motel and mentions having seen the twin before. They suggest that he go home for safety. At home, Dean starts throwing all of his tools and guns into a heap in the driveway. Going upstairs, he scoops up his belts and ties, piling them in a hallway to burn them. In an increasing panic he tries to gather his sword collection, but cuts himself. There is a ‘snkk’ sound, and he sees his twin holding one of them.
In the middle of the night, Scully again awakens to see Mulder standing above her, telling her that Dean was found dead. Neighbors had called the cops earlier, but the house was locked and Dean was beheaded- no chance he did that to himself! The next night, Scully awakens in the same jolting way, but no one is there. She goes to Mulder and asks him to hold her. In the motel bathroom, Mulder sees the face of his twin over his shoulder, and urges them to leave immediately. He goes to Chucky’s house while Scully goes to the hospital. On the way, she sees her twin in the backseat, but argues it into disappearance. Mulder encounters his twin at the house and fights him.
Yelling angrily at each other, Chucky fills out a game with JUDITH, while she writes one with CHUCKY. Each sees their twin appear. By the time Mulder and Scully are able to get to them, they are both dead on the floor, with no one else around.
A FEW THOUGHTS:
– Opening credits end with the tag of the traditional “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE”, but after a moment, a second “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE” appears below it.
– After the night they spend together, when Mulder sees his double and wants to leave, he tells Scully to “put a dimmer on that afterglow”, sounding like the night was rather intimate!
– Early in the episode it was casually mentioned that Chucky and Judy’s parents had committed suicide. As Mulder is examining the walls after Chucky’s death, he finds old hangman games of “MOM” and “DAD”.
– Little Judy says at one point that she eats pills to protect herself from Demon Judy. The ‘pills’ are rolled up pieces of bread. The nurses all eat them as well, and even Scully decides to have one before her final confrontation.
– After Dean’s death, the twins begin a new hangman game, targeting the agents. It was hard to get a good look at the papers, I only saw “UL” with some spaces. The number of spaces seemed to change when I tried to pause. Either I was not getting good looks from the camera work, or one was spelling “MULDER” while the other was spelling “SCULLY”.
– I give this episode a C. As a fully isolated “monster of the week” story, it had an intriguing premise. The structure had a few good moments, like the repeated bit of Scully awakening. The behavior of the twins employing their power felt a bit random, sounds like they targeted townspeople for no particular reason.
Nick Monitto has been a sci-fi geek for a few decades now, having watched the original “X-Files” in its day. He is never going to look at a game of Hangman in the same way again…