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Three of a Kind

This episode was saved by the performances. The plot wasn't particularly interesting, but the interplay between the Gunmen and the comedic talents of Gillian Anderson made it worthwhile.

If you're unfamiliar with the plot of "Unusual Suspects" I suggest reading that review before continuing with this one.

Here's what happened in this story of a wacky weekend in Vegas:

For ten years John Fitzgerald Byers has been dreaming of something better. His life as a Seeker of the Truth may be filled with daring escapes and global intrigue, but deep down he wants what many people want: a white Volvo station wagon, a stately suburban home, a World Series title for the Red Sox, two beautiful daughters and an adoring wife.

Byers' vision of a wife isn't an ambiguous phantom. The woman of his dreams has a name -- Susanne Modeski. A decade ago, Modeski zipped into the lives of Byers, Langley, Frohike and Mulder. Back then she was desperately trying to escape from the clutches of evil conspirators. Modeski's prowess as a chemist made her a hot commodity, but when she discovered that the government was planning to use her creations as brainwashing tools, she ran. The Lone Gunmen tried to save her, but in the end Modeski was abducted by government operatives. Byers' true love lives only in his memories.

* CUE HORRENDOUS CELINE DION SONG *

Byers' dreams will have to wait because he and his two buddies are digging for dirt at a defense contractor conference in Las Vegas. The Gunmen have descended on Sin City for "Def Con '99" and when we join the boys, Byers is sitting at a card table playing poker with four contractors. Frohike is disguised as a casino employee and Langley is in a hotel room, watching and listening to Byers with the Gunmen's hi-tech toys. Byers, using the alias "Stuart Funsten" does his best to unearth leads, but a stern-faced player thwarts his scam. Both Byers and Frohike are discovered as imposters and tossed into the hotel lobby. On his way out, Frohike offers to "Thunderdome" with a casino guard, but his offer is declined.

Up in their hotel room, the Gunmen declare their Vegas trip a bust. A knock at the door interrupts their crying session. A pair of conspiracy "colleagues" -- Timmy the Geek and Jimmy the Geek -- have dropped in to prod the Gunmen for information. After a few minutes of geeky insults, Jimmy admits that they've found nothing. However, Jimmy has it on good authority that the theme of this year's convention is political assassination. New brainwashing weapons are slated to be revealed and Jimmy has the inside track. With that, Timmy and Jimmy depart for the all-you-can-eat lobster bar. Langley tags along for the seafood bacchanal.

With Langley and the Geek Brothers gone, Frohike has a heart-to-heart with Byers. The little man with the attitude knows that Byers comes to these conventions in the hope of seeing Susanne Modeski. In 1989 the Gunmen met Modeski at a conference in Baltimore and Byers believes she'll turn up again. Frohike tries to reason with his friend, telling him that Modeski is most likely dead. When angry looking government agents cart you off the chances for survival are almost nil. Byers, driven by love and a desire to bring evildoers to justice, refuses to admit that Modeski is dead.

And how right he is. Minutes later, down in the casino, Byers spots Modeski through the crowd. The hair in his well-kept beard stands on end and his eyes bug out as he spots his soul mate. Chasing her through a maze of slot machines and blackjack tables, Byers leaves a trail of bowled-over casino patrons and scattered quarters. Despite his efforts, Modeski disappears.

The Gunmen decide to enlist Scully in their quest to find and "save" Modeski. The boys put Mulder's monotone to good use, easily faking the dry agent's voice through a late-night phone call to Scully. The fake Mulder tells Scully that the Gunmen have uncovered something big in Vegas and he needs her help. For the 1,233rd time, Scully zips off at a moment's notice to pursue an ambiguous hunch from her partner.

Once the deception is complete. Langley and Frohike ask Byers why he's calling Scully instead of Mulder. According to Byers, Mulder is too well known in conspiracy circles to be of any benefit in their undercover operation. The lanky agent is a hero to the conspiracy geeks in attendance and his arrival could set off a wave of Elvis-like frenzy. Inevitably this frenzy would culminate in a three-hour concert where Mulder would sport inordinately long sideburns and shake his booty in a sequined jumpsuit. No one wants to see Mulder in a sequined jumpsuit so the logical choice is Scully.

After offering an explanation to his mates, Byers visits the hallway ice machine. While digging through the cubes, Byers spots the stern-faced defense contractor from his ill-fated poker game. He follows the man down the hall to room 1066. He watches as Susanne Modeski opens the door to the room, kisses the stern man and hangs the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the handle. As Modeski closes the door, Byers feels Cupid's machete dig into his spine.

Back in the Gunmen's hotel room, Langley and Frohike discover that room 1066 is registered to Grant Ellis. Ellis works at the Advanced Army Weapons Facility in Whitestone, New Mexico, the same facility Modeski worked at a decade before. Using this information as a foundation, Byers deduces that Ellis has brainwashed Modeski. There's no other explanation for her allegiance with the very people she was running from ten years ago. On a more personal level, Byers says that brainwashing explains Modeski's attraction to that vile, stern-faced conspirator. Ah, love.

The next day, Byers and Langley try to sneak into a contractor's meeting but their efforts are for naught. As the pair lament over their bad luck, Jimmy the Geek approaches. Jimmy boasts that he can gain access to the meeting. Byers calls Jimmy's bluff and issues a Geek Challenge: Gain access to the meeting or lose your status as a True Geek.

Jimmy accepts the challenge. The scrawny conspiracy theorist crawls into an air duct and worms his way "Die Hard" style toward the conference room. While pointing a video camera through a vent opening, Jimmy sees his friend Timmy sitting in the audience. Surprised to see his buddy, Jimmy unwittingly makes a noise. He retreats from the duct, hoping to elude capture. As he reaches the end of the air tunnel he's hauled to the ground and pinned against a wall by two government agents. Timmy approaches and quietly explains that Jimmy has made a Very Big Mistake. Timmy works for the CIA and he was grooming Jimmy for a future role as a political assassin (imagine a geek version of "The Manchurian Candidate" and you've got the idea). Now that Jimmy has seen Timmy's true colors, the assassin plan will have to be discarded -- as will Jimmy. Timmy produces a mini-Super Soaker and injects a brainwashing chemical behind Jimmy's ear. Presumably, Jimmy doesn't like this.

Scully arrives at the hotel shortly after Timmy's indoctrination into the wonderful world of brainwashing. Langley and Byers meet her in the lobby and she begins to ask why she's been called to Vegas. A crowd of EMT's and hotel employees interrupts her inquiry. Langley, Byers and Scully follow the procession outside where they discover that Jimmy the Geek has been transformed into Jimmy the Pothole. According to a bus driver, Jimmy threw himself beneath the wheels of the lumbering vehicle. Byers doesn't believe it was suicide -- it had to be brainwashing.

After Jimmy is turned into a geek pancake by the government, the Gunmen focus their investigative talents on Grant Ellis (Modeski's stern-faced boyfriend). Frohike, the surveillance guru, dons a repairman's jumpsuit and sneaks into Ellis' room to plant a camera in an air duct. Oddly, a camera has already been planted in the room, so Frohike lifts the tape and prepares to scuttle off. Unfortunately, Modeski enters before the scuttling can commence. A knock at the door gives Frohike time to hide in the bathroom.

The person knocking on Modeski's door is Byers. Modeski recognizes her old friend but she's not in a talkative mood. Byers quickly says he believes she's been brainwashed, but Modeski curtly dismisses Byers' theory as nonsense. In a cold tone she reveals that the last ten years haven't been as dismal as he might have believed. With that, she closes the door and crushes Byers' heart AGAIN.

Byers' brief conversation failed to shed any light on Modeski's actions, but it did provide enough time for Frohike to escape through an air duct. He drops from the ceiling just as Byers is walking by. The little man reveals the videocassette he plucked from Modeski's room and suggests that he and Byers give it a looksie.

Meanwhile, Scully's day keeps getting better. First, she's rudely ripped from peaceful slumber by a fake phone call from her partner. Then she travels to Vegas only to arrive at a bloody crime scene. NOW she's charged with the enviable task of performing an autopsy on Jimmy. Given the sheer excitement of an autopsy, Langley opts to view the procedure. In Scully's opinion, Jimmy committed suicide, but Langley believes "they" made him do it. Scully deflects Langley's theory by slicing into Jimmy. The sticky sound of flesh being peeled from the body doesn't sit well with Langley, so he seeks refuge in a hallway sink.

While Langley regurgitates the all-you-can eat lobster dinner from the night before, Scully discovers an injection mark behind Jimmy's right ear. As she moves closer, a hand springs from behind and wraps around her mouth. Timmy the Geek cocks Scully's head to the side, places his brainwashing super-soaker behind her ear and injects his mind-altering drug into her bloodstream.

In the hallway, Langley hears something drop in the autopsy room. Rushing in, he finds Scully unconscious on the floor. He props her up and she immediately comes-to, but her speech is slurred and her movements are wobbly. She declares the autopsy finished, but when Langley asks how Jimmy died, Scully's response is: "My medical opinion? BEEEEEEEEEEPÑPPBBBB!"

Despite years of paranoid thinking, Langley tells Frohike and Byers that Scully's odd behavior is due to jet lag. Um, what about that brainwashing thing Ringo? This question is lost on Frohike and Byers -- they're too enthralled with the stolen videotape to question Scully's weirdness.

The videotape Frohike swiped from Modeski's room shows Ellis and Modeski discussing a "plan." Byers still believes Modeski is being brainwashed, but before the boys can debate this point, Modeski appears in the doorway of their room. The crafty scientist snuck into the Gunmen's room with a door decoder -- a decoder Frohike accidentally left behind in her suite. Langley and Frohike opt to hit the slots, leaving Modeski alone with Byers.

With Frohike and Langley gone, Modeski finally offers Byers an explanation. After being kidnapped ten years ago, Modeski was put through painful tests. One day, a scientist working for the government (Grant Ellis) came to her rescue. It took years for him to gain her trust, but in time she realized that Ellis was working against the government by sabotaging results and weakening the shadowy infrastructure. Modeski and Ellis concocted a plan that will bring the misdeeds of the government into the public eye. Modeski claims that the plan will be set in motion soon.

As Modeski bears her soul to Byers, Frohike and Langley work their magic on the slots. Timmy the Geek approaches and asks Langley to join for a special game of Dungeons & Dragons in honor of Jimmy. Langley accepts. Upon entering Timmy's room, he realizes that D&D is not going to be part of the festivities. Two government agents in dark suits are waiting in the room and it's only a matter of time before Timmy uses his super-soaker on Langley.

While Langley becomes a CIA patsy, Frohike continues to pump quarters into a slot machine. As he watches the wheels spin, he hears a woman laughing nearby. He walks toward a group of men standing around a pretty redheaded woman. To Frohike's surprise, the woman is Scully, and she's drawing quite a crowd. The brainwashing drug has turned her into the anti-Scully: a flirty bimbo who giggles and casts seductive looks at any man who catches her eye. The men surrounding her have the glazed look of frat boys. Scully spots Frohike and rubs his head, marking the first time Scully has EVER willingly touched the little guy. The moment is lost on Frohike; he knows she's off her rocker. An unseen man extends a pack of cigarettes toward Scully. She grabs one with her teeth and looks up into the face of Morris Fletcher. The smarmy Area 51 employee featured in the "Dreamland" episodes is up to his usual tricks. Fortunately, Frohike is there to stop the insanity. In a rare display of chivalry, Frohike fends off Scully's admirers, shuffling Scully to safety. As the two depart, Scully smacks Fletcher on the butt. Even though neither character remembers the events of "Dreamland" the smack is a small payback.

Frohike brings Scully back to the Gunmen's room where Modeski is finishing up her talk with Byers. Scully is giggling like a fool and both Byers and Frohike believe she's sloshed. Modeski doesn't think so. She examines Scully (who is still giggling) and finds an injection mark behind her ear. Scully's behavior is a symptom of anoetic histamine (A-H), a brainwashing drug developed by Modeski that encourages suggestibility. Modeski says she could have developed the toxin years ago, but she held off, fearing the men she worked for would get their hands on it. Grant Ellis convinced her to make a small batch as evidence -- evidence that could be used against the government when they went public. As she's saying this, she has a revelation. Only herself and Grant had access to the drug. Grant is a double-crossing government floozy!

Langley enters shortly after this revelation. His actions are normal and he doesn't appear to be under the influence of A-H. He looks down and sees Scully sprawled on the bed. Modeski is administering an antidote to the giggly agent. The substance swirls into Scully's bloodstream and knocks her out for the night. As Scully crashes, Byers makes the connection between Jimmy and Scully. Both were drugged to cover up evidence. Jimmy obviously saw something he shouldn't have, so he was brainwashed to commit suicide. Scully was drugged so she would forget her autopsy findings. Something still doesn't fit though. Scully and Jimmy discovered minor things, but what do these minor things lead to? What's being planned? The answer is behind Langley's right ear.

Early the next day, Langley secretly visits Timmy the Geek in his room. Timmy programs Langley to assassinate an unknown target at a contractor meeting later that morning. The CIA agent then equips Langley with credentials, a pistol and a bad attitude.

Langley plays the part of the good assassin, following Timmy's instructions to the letter. At 10:15 am Grant Ellis calls a break. The audience rises and people begin to mill around. Scully attempts to enter the conference room, but a guard denies her access (that FBI badge means squat to the DOD). Inside the meeting room, Langley grabs the pistol and strides toward the podium at the front of the room. Audience members see the gun and scatter, letting Langley walk straight toward Susanne Modeski. With Modeski in his sights, Langley methodically fires three shots into her chest. The scientist collapses and Langley walks off.

Hearing the shots, Scully rushes past the guard into the conference room. Standing over Modeski's body, Scully orders the guard to call for help. Frohike and Byers intercept the call and seconds later they arrive disguised as EMT's the pair loads Modeski on a stretcher and wheels her off. As she is taken away, Timmy the Geek walks toward the bloodstains on the carpet. Dipping his finger in the fresh blood, he tastes the substance and realizes that something is amiss.

Scully escorts Ellis to his room where a very-peeved Susanne Modeski is waiting to confront the man who betrayed her. Standing in a stained blouse, Modeski asks why Ellis saved her, why did he gain her trust? Ellis says he would have been killed had he not played along. Before he can continue, Timmy the Geek enters and fires two slugs into Ellis' back.

Down the hall, the Gunmen are working their hacker magic, erasing Modeski's paper trail. Frohike answers a knock at the door and lets Modeski in. Unfortunately, she brought company. Timmy has a gun lodged in Modeski's back. Byers charges but Timmy pistol-whips him to the ground. Taking aim at Frohike, Timmy declares: "You know the best thing about killing you three? I won't have to dress like you anymore." Before he can squeeze off the shot, Byers jabs the brainwashing injector into Timmy's leg. The CIA agent drops his pistol and collapses on the carpet. With a powerful, suggestive drug coursing through his system, the Gunmen decide to have a little fun with Timmy.

Later that day, a news report airs in Scully's hotel room. A picture of Timmy the Geek (a.k.a. Timothy Landau) is splashed on the screen as the news anchor says Landau confessed to the murders of Grant Ellis and Susanne Modeski. It's an interesting report, but Scully's attention is focused on the conversation she's trying to have with Mulder on her cellphone. Talking to her partner, she realizes that the Gunmen orchestrated everything and fooled her into coming to Vegas. "I'm gonna kick their asses," she says disgustedly.

Unaware of the butt whuppin' coming their way, the Gunmen bid farewell to Modeski outside the casino. Their hacker prowess has "killed" Susanne Modeski. With a new identity she's free to do whatever she wants and what she wants is for Byers to come with her. Byers' eyes glaze as he remembers his dream -- the dream of white Volvos, beautiful children and a lifetime with Susanne. But reality crashes in and he realizes Modeski will be safer without him. Modeski hands Byers a wedding band, saying it was meant for Ellis but she wants Byers to have it. With a final kiss and a whisper of "someday" she slides into a car and is driven off. Langley and Frohike slap Byers on the back as the three slowly walk into the casino for a final shot at the slots.

And that's it. Once again, John Fitzgerald Byers doesn't get the girl. This poor guy sees the love of his life once every decade, yet he somehow manages to carry on. Talk about a trooper (a pathetic trooper, but a trooper nonetheless).

Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.



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