Friday, December 6, 2013

1x11: Eve

Thanks for the kind words and for being so understanding about the lack of post last week. I'm going to see the wrist doctor today and should have a better idea soon just what's going on inside there.

Now back to your regularly scheduled review.

It's interesting you should say that, because I've always wanted to obsessively watch the X-Files. It's an adolescent phase I never grew out of. No, I'm not being flippant, I've given this a lot of thought. I mean, if you watch the X-Files and other shows like it, it's enough simply to keep on watching; you know, bravely enduring whatever fresh horror they think up; but with other shows you're only meant to sit back, passively absorb, be mindless. So if anything I'm actually the antithesis of the current TV demographic because if I did obsessively watch the X-Files I'd quite possibly be more happy and more content and not feel the need to keep watching these reality shows about people totally out of touch with reality.

These quote appropriations keep getting weirder and weirder, you guys. Maybe I should stop. (I'm not going to stop.)

Anyway, welcome to 1x11: Eve, one of my favorite episodes of season one and of the series as a whole. There is something just so intensely creepy about the little girls in this episode, as well as the adult Eves, that it just sticks in my brain and makes me uncomfortable all day.  Plus it's the inspiration behind Eve 6, a band that my teenage self just LOVED and I still find myself humming their songs today.

If you want to read a deeply unsettling fanfic about the Eves (takes place after the season 7 finale, so, y'know, spoilers) check out "We Could Have Made Music" by DiscordantWords.

In case anyone has forgotten, here's a list of themes we'll be keeping in mind over the course of these reviews:

1. The show is as much about Scully's journey toward becoming a believer as it is about the paranormal events she and Mulder encounter.
2. Scully is only a skeptic when viewing things from a clinical distance; when the shit hits the fan, she acts on Mulder's crazy beliefs because she knows it will keep her alive.
3. Mulder isn't right nearly as often as he thinks.
4. The evolution of the Mulder/Scully relationship - not just the romantic involvement that eventually occurs, but their dynamics of trust and distrust, the changing ways they view each other, and the friendship that grows over time.
5. Assault on a federal officer never seems to lead to jail time.
6. Mulder is kind of a dick.
7. Hotels, car rental places, and apartment landlords must be crazy to rent to FBI agents.
8. The enormous top-secret government conspiracy actually really sucks at keeping things quiet.
9.  There are some serious homoerotic undertones in this show.
10. The X-files department is super toxic to anyone who comes close to it.
11. Mulder and Scully are both terrible at their jobs.
12. Local law enforcement is protrayed in an extremely negative light.
13. This show is white-washed as fuck. And almost all the non-whites are villains or stereotypes.
14. Bathtubs are scary, terrible places that should be avoided at all costs.
15. Plot and logic will be completely discarded just so Scully can have some reason not to witness the big paranormal events of the episode.

Greenwich, Connecticut

A little girl, Teena Simmons, stands outside her house when two joggers come running by and ask who left her all alone out here in the cold. She says her daddy needed some alone time in the backyard; when they take her back there to scold him about his shoddy parenting, they instead find his lifeless corpse swinging on his daughter's swingset with two puncture marks in his neck.


FBI Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

After the opening credits, we're back in the warm, disheveled embrace of the X-Files office where Mulder and Scully are discussing the bizarre death of Swingset Man, who died after losing 95% of his blood. For once, Scully is the one pointing out how bizarre the whole thing is - the daughter was away from his side for less than 10 minutes and no blood was found at the scene. Mulder, of course, thinks this might be UFO-related, like cattle mutilations, and whips out his slide projector to show Scully images of dead cows. Like, he just had all these slides queued up and ready to go? Including a slide of Swingset Man's neck wounds?Even though none of the things he lists as common to cattle mutilation have actually happened here except for the exsanguination? (#3) Because it sounded like Scully was showing him the casefile for the first time, but here he goes with his far-too-enthusiastic slide shows again. He also reveals the autopsy showed digitalis in the man's blood - a paralytic drug - which sounds like something Scully should have pointed out...

Not pictured: his raging erection as he gives the grisly details of cattle mutilation.


Fairfield County
Social Services Hostel
Greenwich, Connecticut

M&S visit Teena in the hospital, where she's staying until she can be placed in foster care as her mother died two years ago.


I'm struck by just how good Scully is at talking to kids in this scene. Usually Mulder is the one who interviews the kids, but Scully shows remarkable sensitivity and tact as she asks Teena if anyone would want to hurt your daddy.  Teena tells Mulder there was red lightning in the backyard that day and then "men from the clouds" went after her dad: "They wanted to exsanguinate them." Mulder seems shocked that she knows such a big word, and Scully gets a phone call saying there's been another death.

Reardon Crime Scene
Marin County, California

Taken on one of the 3 sunny days a year you get in SF. Also, pretty sure this shot is
used in the Full House opening, too.

After an establishing shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, which makes my heart ache for home, we see another swingset in another backyard, nearly a mirror image of the one where the first victim died. M&S read through the file - same poison, same punctures on the jugular. And the murders occurred at the exact same moment. Scully thinks it could be serial killers working in tandem, but Mulder's sticking with his UFO theory (#3!). He wants to interview the daughter to see if she remembers red lightning, too.

They have to wait 'til the next day though, as the mom and daughter are in Sacramento with family.

Fairfield County
Social Services Hostel
12:35 A.M. E.S.T

A storm rages outside as someone breaks into Teena's room. A social worker comes when she hears the screams, but all she finds is an open window and Teena's stuffed bunny sitting alone in the rain.

Reardon Crime Scene
Marin County, California

Moose and Squirrel pull up at the Reardon house, talking about Teena being kidnapped the night before. Mulder, perhaps inevitably, assumes it was aliens (#3). They knock on the Reardon's door and a little girl answers... and she looks exactly like Teena Simmons.

Bum bum buuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmm!

While Mulder and Scully talk to Mrs. Reardon, the little girl, Cindy, flips the channel from cartoons to a news conference - which should be a clue to just about anyone that she is EVIL INCARNATE.  M&S are understandably confused, asking if Cindy was adopted or was a twin. Mrs. Reardon says that she and her husband tried for 6 years to get pregnant, and succeeded through in vitro fertilization.

Our intrepid agents depart, wondering what the odds are that two unrelated people happen to be identical and both witness their fathers' exsanguinations. They think it may be a pattern - exsanguinate the father, kidnap the daughter. Mulder volunteers to keep an eye on Cindy in case someone tries to kidnap her, while Scully tries to figure out if the Simmons family used in vitro as well.

Luther Stapes Center for Reproductive Medicine

Scully visits the clinic where the Reardons had their in vitro done. She finds a file on the Simmons family, who were at the clinic under the supervision of Dr. Sally Kendrick. The doctor on staff says Kendrick was nothing but a problem - like, "trying to use eugenics on our patients' future children" kind of problem.


Aaaaaaand this is why I instantly hated Harriet Harris's character on Desperate Housewives. Felicia Tillman was always a little eccentric, but I knew from her appearance on TXF that she would eventually be revealed as full-on eyeball-eating self-mutilating murder-framing insane.

The doctor says Kendrick was censured by the American Medical Association but his request for investigation was denied, and then she disappeared.

Scully, girlfriend, this is the kind of shit you seriously need to remember in season 8's flashbacks to season 7, when you're pursuing in vitro. I know you'd make an amazing mother, and your biological clock is roughly the size of Big Ben at that point due to your post-abduction sterility, but sweetie, you know better. No one on this earth should be more paranoid about baby-implanting than you. You're actually lucky you got off as easy as you did, with your alien Jesus Mulder-spawn, because shit could have gone so much worse. What if she'd gotten knocked up with an Eve?

Oh sweet Jeebus, someone needs to write a fanfic of that RIGHT NOW.


Cut to Mulder and Scully lying entwined in sitting on the edge of a motel bed in Mulder's room, watching the tape from the fertility clinic as she tells him what she found out. They now suspect Kendrick is behind the killings and kidnapping, trying to cover up her crime, probably with the help of an accomplice. Scully gets a phone call that's nothing but a few clicking sounds, and Mulder suddenly can't get her out of there fast enough.

MULDER: I'll tell you what... I'm going to sleep on it and we'll talk about it in the morning. (He bumrushes her to the door.)
SCULLY: Mulder, you're rushing me out of the room.
MULDER: No, I'm not.
SCULLY: You got a girl coming over?
MULDER: What's a girl? (He opens the door and all but shoves her out of it) No, I have... there's a movie I want to watch on TV. Sleep tight. See you in the morning.
They are so fucking adorable.

Cut to Mulder at a dark pier, where he meets up with Deep Throat for some hot man-on-man action to learn about a cloning conspiracy. DT tells him about the Lichfield experiments - the US government's attempt to beat the Soviets at making genetically-controlled children in order to create the perfect soldier. The boys were named Adam, the girls Eve. He gives tells Mulder there's a woman he needs to see.

Whiting Institute for the Criminally Insane

Mulder and Scully arrive, saying they're there to see Eve 6 (warning: 90s in a nutshell), but they have to turn in their guns and are issued panic buttons before they can proceed.  Just another fun, carefree day at the X-Files office!

They're led through an insane (hah!) amount of security before arriving at a dark cell - because "she screams and screams" if they turn the lights on - in the bowels of the facility and find, well:


Scully immediately assumes this bag of cannibal crazy is Sally Kendrick, but she's actually Eve 6 - one of the Litchfield Eves, locked in the dark because she likes to bite eyeballs and giggle in an entirely too upsetting manner. She says that her line is prone to suicide and that only she and two others are left - 7 and 8 - who have escaped. She points (well, gestures with a chained foot) at the wall where she's hung pictures of the other Eves as children - each one a perfect match of Teena and Cindy.


Mulder concludes that Kendrick was using the in vitro clinic to carry on the Lichfield experiment, cloning herself.

That night, at the Reardon house, Cindy says her prayers while Mulder and Scully sit in a car outside the house, wondering if the escaped Eves could have committed the murders.

MULDER: Suppose Eve 6 is right and there are two other Eves out there. That could account for the two identical murders occurring at exactly the same time. Sally Kendrick does have an accomplice. Herself.
SCULLY: Until I heard that, I was beginning to suspect the girls.
MULDER: No. No, no, no. It seems the two remaining Eves are doing away with the parents in order to keep Teena and Cindy in the family.
I would like to cite the above as #3 and also mention that this may be the first time that Scully is dead-on right about something. You suspect those unbelievably creepy identical clones of a totally insane government eugenics experiment, Scully. You suspect the hell out of them.

Suddenly lights come on in Cindy's room. Mulder and Scully split up (which is NEVER a good idea, these people clearly don't watch enough horror movies), and of course Scully gets knocked out while Mulder finds one of the adult Eves (7/Sally Kendrick) in the backyard, dragging Cindy away.


The Eve threatens to shoot Cindy so Mulder lets them go.

Pt. Reyes National Seashore
40 Miles North of San Francisco

Eve 7 pulls up to her hotel and hurries into her room with Cindy. Teena is already there, and the two girls share a creepy smile.

Back at the Reardon house, an office tells Scully that Eve 7's car was spotted in an airport parking lot, while Mulder receives a call that a motel manager spotted her in Point Reyes - she checked in with a little girl, left without her, was gone all night, and returned with the same girl. A girl who told him to use chlorine to irradicate the dinoflagellates in the swimming pool. So yeah, pretty sure Mulder is right on this one, Scully.

In the hotel room, 7/Sally expresses her disappointment that Teen and Cindy went crazy ahead of schedule (apparently the original models didn't start killing 'til 20) and they just get creepier and creepier, finishing each other's sentences and saying they weren't born, they were created.  It doesn't help that, for some reason, 7/Sally has purchased them matching blood red outfits.

Someday I really hope I have twin girls so I can dress them like this for Halloween.
No one will get it, but that's okay.

She tells them they can't give in to genetic destiny and that she can help them become normal functioning adults like her! Oh boy!

Don't worry, though - they poison her with digitalis in her soda, just like they did to their fathers. She grabs a knife from the counter, to "correct her mistake."

M&S show up with a herd of cops and find Eve 7 dead on the floor, with Teena and Cindy huddled in a corner in fear. They say 7 and another Eve tried to poison them (a la Jonestown), and Mulder and Scully totally buy the "scared and innocent" act, taking the girls under their protection.

This is one of those times when it's totally okay for the audience to know something our heroes don't. I know I bitched about it in Space (and I will continue to bitch about that episode for, well, ever) but that was a case of the writers beating us over the head with it from minute one while M&S continued on, clueless; this is a case of a scary reveal 2/3s through the episode, creating tension in the viewer as we worry for the agents' safety as they tote around two tiny homicidal maniacs.

"We promise not to eat your eyeballs."
After a brief crime scene exam / exposition revealing that digitalis is sweet and thus probably undetectable in soda, Mulder and Scully take the Murder Twins on a little road trip back to the Bay Area.  Predictably, one of the girls says she needs a pee break and Scully needs some caffeine (even though Point Reyes to Marin is, like, less than an hour), so they pull into a rest stop. Mulder orders them some drinks (diet for him and Scully, regular for the girls) and they head off to their respective little boys'/little girls' rooms. This whole scene evokes images of a quaint family roadtrip, Mom and Dad taking the twins up to Point Reyes for the weekend. There's even a cute little bit where Mulder gives the money to one of the girls so she can pay for their drinks, just like my dad used to do to make us feel grown up. I just love the juxtaposition of that image with the real story of two monster-hunting FBI agents unknowingly escorting two pre-pubescent time bombs of insanity.

One big happy family... OF MURDER!
Anyway, one girl pretends to be stuck in her stall while the other sneaks away, grabs the sodas from the counter, and puts poison in two of them before handing them to Mulder.

Mulder and Scully both comment that their supposedly diet sodas are strangely sweet, and it's like that part in the horror movie where you're just yelling at the dumbass on the screen DON'T GO IN THERE THERE'S A SERIAL KILLER WITH A FACE MADE OF HUMAN SKIN IN YOUR BASEMENT but of course they don't hear you.  It makes the audience scared, angry, and helpless, and that is exactly the space you want them to be in.

One of the many, many reasons I love this episode in particular.

Mulder goes back inside because he forgot his keys (one of the few times his idiocy pays off) and finds a ring of green goo on the table - spilled digitalis.

He rushes back out yelling Scully's name and then tries to smooth it over by saying he just wanted to open the door for her. Smooth like Ex-lax, this guy. As he opens the door, he intentionally knocks her drink out of her hand, whispering that it's poisoned and they should just get the girls in the car.  But it's too late, the girls have vanished.

We're treated to a really cool chase scene of them searching through the truck stop grounds for the girls, including some beautiful cinematography that evokes the James Bond gun barrel credits


Mulder grabs them, but a trucker with a huge rifle sees the struggle and forces him to let them go. The waitress inside points them in the direction of a school bus that just left. We see the rental car go peeling out, and watch as the girls climb out of their hiding place in a boat hitched to a truck trailer. Just as they (and we) think they've gotten away with it, Mulder grabs them from behind. They try the "we're just little girls" routine again, but he's not fooled anymore.

Back at the Reardon house, Mulder tries to convince Mrs. Reardon that she should push the government for the truth about what really happened, but she knows now that Cindy was never her daughter. She throws Cindy's picture in the fireplace and watches it burn.

We cut to Cindy and Teena (now labeled Eve 9 and 10) locked up next to 6. A woman in a white lab coat comes down to their cells, and the girls greet her as Eve 8. They've been waiting for her to come for them; they just knew.


End credits roll.

God I love this episode. It's one of the masterpieces of Season One. I really wish this hadn't been a one-off and that those creepy girls had come back later on, but you can definitely see the influence of this episode in later seasons: the cloning, the government facilities working on creating a perfect human (or hybrid), multiple models of clones bred for nefarious purposes. The reveal of Teena and Cindy's true nature is beautifully done and an almost total surprise for the viewer, and it comes just late enough in the episode that we're not mad at or frustrated with Moose and Squirrel for not figuring it out yet. The tension this creates (the viewer knowing what the heroes do not) is one of my favorite parts of the episode - us watching helplessly as Scully and Mulder sip the poison, worrying that they're going to die, and then worrying that the girls have gone free. It's actually quite a relief to see Mulder catch them at the end. And while pretty much every episode ends with nothing being completely resolved and with the possibility that the bad guys get away, the ambiguous nature of 8 finding the girls in the facility is super creepy. Is she there to set them free? To kill them? To continue the cloning experiments and perfect the Eve line? Inquiring minds want to know.

Please read that fanfic I linked at the top of those post (here it is again) - it's the closure I didn't even know I'd been looking for.

Firsts: cloning, creeeeeeeeeeeeepy children, Scully is completely goddamn right about something

Next week: 1x12 Fire, or Goddamn It Phoebe Green Stop Beaver Damming Scully!

5 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorites, too. If you have twin girls, I will buy you matching red outfits and send them to you as a shower present. They'll just have to wait for the better part of a decade to wear them...

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  2. First off, that short-story was wonderful, thank you for sharing!
    Second, this is easily one of my favorite episodes of the entire run of X-Files. Very few things are as creepy as children (when they are in creepy mode), and the twins take the cake. Also, I gotta give so much praise for the adult "Eve" actress who runs the gamut from esteemed scientist to bat-sh*t crazy-pants! That image of Eve 6 talking about biting the orderly's eye out will forever be burned in my mind, lol.

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    Replies
    1. She meant it as a sign of affection...

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  3. Same here, one of the first episodes I ever saw of the show and it creeped the hell outta me.
    It is beautiful written, directed and played, and there is not much of this episode that is not good.

    Solid review, thank you!

    ReplyDelete