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Agua Mala

The only major complaint I have about this episode doesn't deal with the plot or production. My complaint focuses on the broadcast schedule. I know that myth episodes are usually followed by monster-of-the-week shows that typically lack continuity, but the "Two Fathers/One Son" episodes featured some significant developments. Spender might be dead, The Syndicate was Hibachi-ed and Mulder and Scully have reclaimed the X-files, but none of these events were mentioned in "Agua Mala." I'm aware that "Agua Mala" was initially slated for a later airdate, but even with a shift in schedule the X-files crew should have done something -- anything -- to acknowledge the changes brought on by the latest myth arc.

As the season progresses and people forget about the episode order, I think "Agua Mala" will be able to stand on its own. It wasn't a spectacular episode, but it was fun to watch.

So here's what happens in this very soggy tale:

The Shipley family has seen better days. Their modest home in Goodland, Florida is being pelted by wind and rain -- compliments of Hurricane Leroy. Sara Shipley and her teenaged son Evan desperately slosh around the house, splashing through three inches of standing water while boarding doors and windows.

Evan asks his mom if Dad is going to be okay, but Sara ignores the question. Had she the time I'm sure she would have sat Evan down and mournfully told him this: "Evan...boopie. Daddy is not going to be okay. Daddy was just attacked and digested by a mucus tentacle. Don't cry honey. He died peacefully on the toilet."

Unfortunately, there's no time for Sara to adequately explain what has become of her husband. The storm drains are burping sea water into the house and this upsets Mrs. Shipley to a serious degree. So serious she decides to flip over a full washing machine. She magically determines that fresh water will somehow alleviate the sea water that's bubbling from the drain. Evan and his mom push and prod at the machine, but the stubborn beast won't flip. Evan, who is pushing from behind the immobile contraption, is cheered on by Reggie -- the family cat. Alas, this isn't a Disney movie and Reggie is unable to save Evan from the slithering sea tentacle that wraps around his neck and chokes the life out of his young frame. Sara, upset that Evan has stopped pushing, pokes her head over the top of the machine and watches as her boy is put in a deep-sea chokehold.

Valiant Sara Shipley fights the beast, but her battle is thwarted when a second tentacle springs from a drain and pulls her to the ground. Mother and son are distastefully digested by the ill-tempered creatures.

The scene shifts to Mulder's empty apartment. Arthur Dales, the original X-file investigator first seen in "Travelers," is leaving a message/challenge on Mulder's answering machine. Dales, who has retired to a comfy double-wide in Goodland, Florida, has caught wind of the sea monsters that have blown ashore with Hurricane Leroy. He tells Mulder to get his butt down to the Sunshine State to investigate.

Mulder, of course, obliges. He and Scully catch a flight to Florida (somehow convincing an airline that it's safe to fly to a storm-ravaged location) and visit Dales at his modest retirement lair. Dales, always a fashion magnet, has adopted the White-Trash-Hugh-Hefner look: Pale blue bathrobe, dirty V-neck T-shirt and an omnipresent tumbler brimming with cheap liquor. Scully is unimpressed with Dales and Dales doesn't particularly enjoy her sceptical attitude. Mulder has been characteristically vague about this case, so Dales tells Scully the unfortunate tale of the Shipleys. Sara Shipley contacted Dales after she found her husband Jack in a precarious position in the family bathroom. Jack, it seems, spent too much time perusing Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. A slithery sea creature with tentacles took umbrage to Jack's prolonged reading session and decided it best if he were entwined and digested immediately. Dales says that Sara and her son Evan are now also missing and he fears that they have been similarly engulfed by this Jules Verne nightmare. With that, Mulder and Scully are off to investigate the Shipley residence.

After busting into the house through the barricaded front door, Mulder and Scully find some odd clues. An icky, Tooms-like ectoplasm is splattered near the washing machine. Mulder sticks his fingers in the mess and a long, thin string follows him half-way across the washroom. Scully, who isn't happy to be in the middle of a hurricane, is on the verge of an eye roll, but before her pupils shoot skyward the lid on the washing machine violently shakes. Mulder pries the lid open with a Squeegee¨ handle and out pops Reggie the cat. The cunning feline was swimming amongst the colored shirts, waiting for the spin cycle. The agents are initially spooked by Reggie, but dismiss his odd presence in the washing machine as he skitters away.

Mulder's attention turns to the bathroom, which has been barricaded with boards and nails. As he and Scully begin prying the boards away, a local deputy -- Deputy Greer -- impedes their work and accuses them of being looters. Reggie saves the day by diverting Greer's attention and giving Mulder a chance to grab Greer's pistol. As Greer looks back, Scully's face creeks into a sarcastic grin and she shows the portly deputy her FBI badge. Greer apologizes while Scully walks out to the car.

Mulder joins her in the car a few minutes later. His examination of the Shipley's commode produced another mound of goo, but that was the extent of it. Scully suggests they drop the case and return home -- her curiosity has been satisfied and she thinks Dales is a drunken loon. Mulder defends Dales, paying respect to the man who discovered the X-files. Scully, meanwhile, has forgotten everything she's seen and experienced over the last five-and-a-half seasons and tells Mulder that sea monsters aren't real. Mulder, with a glint in his eye, says that if they're going to drop the case they should be polite and visit Dales before they leave.

While Mulder and Scully debate in the car, Greer continues his investigation of the Shipley home. He finds a bubbling storm drain in the washroom. Driven by diligence or stupidity, he pries the drain's lid off and pushes his arm into the overflowing pipe. He extracts the fully-intact Miami Dolphins jersey Evan Shipley wore at the beginning of the episode. Greer stares at the shirt, curious as to how the untorn article slipped into the drainage system.

Greer ponders his discovery for a while, but duty calls. He continues his journey through town in his Jeep Cherokee (which has the call sign of "54") and eventually arrives at the Breakers Condominiums. The radio dispatcher tells Greer that Hurricane Leroy is forecasted to intensify over the next four hours. Emergency personnel have asked that all people - including overweight police officers -- stay off the road. Greer responds, saying he's going to make a quick check of the condo complex to see if anyone needs help. As Greer walks off, Reggie, the Shipley's cat, crawls from the undercarriage of Greer's Jeep and runs off into the woods.

The deputy checks the building, but his visit won't be a short one. Upon entering the landlord's condo he finds the tenant sitting on the toilet, covered in an opaque slithering goo. Greer approaches and the tentacled creature lashes out, slapping around Greer's ample throat. He cuts himself free, but the damage has been done -- his throat is perforated with deep puncture wounds and the already-plump deputy has begun to expand from an allergic reaction.

While Greer gasps and huffs, Mulder and Scully try to reach Dales' apartment. Their journey meets a number of obstacles and they get lost on side roads. Tree branches and heavy rain ping against their sedan, so the agents decide to find shelter.

The shelter they stumble upon is the Breakers Condominiums complex.

Within minutes they find Deputy Greer lying on the floor of the landlord's apartment. As he gasps for precious oxygen, Scully keenly asks "Are you having trouble breathing?" Greer sits up, looks at her and says "Nope, just fine thanks!" OF COURSE HE'S HAVING TROUBLE BREATHING!

After correctly diagnosing Greer with an inability to inhale, Scully remembers that she's a medical doctor. She pokes a hole in Greer's expanding throat and performs a crude tracheotomy that saves the Deputy -- for the time being. Mulder walks off to investigate the rest of the complex, searching for stranded residents.

The group Mulder finds is almost as frightening as the sea beasts. The four people are: Walter Suarez, a kindly maintenance worker; Angela Villareal, Walter's angry, pregnant girlfriend; George Vincent, a well-armed anti-revolutionary; and a scruffy, nameless looter.

After putting together the A-team, Mulder tells Scully they have to evacuate, but Scully has bad news: The roads have been shut off to everyone, even emergency personnel. They're all trapped until the storm passes.

The rag-tag group congregates in the departed landlord's apartment. Scully works on Deputy Greer, but her efforts aren't helping. His temperature is sparking to 106 and long, parasitic worms are starting to crawl from the wounds on his neck. The group moves the deputy to an ice-filled bathtub, hoping to bring his temperature down. As they settle their portly friend into the frigid tub, gunshots echo from George Vincent's apartment.

Vincent opens the door to find Mulder's gun pointed at his head. The Mr.Clean reject is unimpressed -- a gun barrel is nothing compared to the wormy parasite that just swooped at him from his kitchen light. Scully, Walter and Angela run to Vincent's apartment to see what's going on. The group examines their situation, trying to find the best escape. While they mull their options, the anonymous looter soaps Deputy Greer's hand and rips the wedding band from the unconscious cop's finger. As he rushes to leave, the looter knocks a box of epsom salt into the bath water.

The looter's escape is momentarily delayed by Mulder and Scully, who have returned from Vincent's bullet-ridden apartment. Angela has made an executive decision -- she will use the bathroom or people will die. Walter, the father of Angela's unborn child, protests. Mulder has told him that the parasite is probably in the building's plumbing, so using the toilet leaves a person open to attack (so to speak). Scully hands Angela a bucket, which solves the problem, but it also does something to Mulder's brain. He immediately determines the genesis of the water-loving monsters. He theorizes that the hurricane ripped the previously-unknown creatures from their home and pushed them into the city's sewer system (just like Flukeman, but less dramatic). The beasts rode a salty tidal wave into the complex' water system, and now they're roto-rootering the pipes with reckless abandon. Scully's scepticism gets the best of her and she dismisses Mulder's theory. She believes they're dealing with a glorified parasite. A scream from Angela brings the debate to an end.

The pregnant woman runs from the bathroom (thankfully her bucket was not in tow) shrieking after an encounter with a mischievous parasite. Mulder walks in, pulls the shower curtain back and finds...nothing. Deputy Greer has been flushed. The only remnants of the officer are his uniform and a soggy box of epsom salt. Again, Mulder's mind springs to life. He now believes that the parasite doesn't just live in water, it is water. It only takes shape when it's going to attack. When it decides to go on the offensive it uses the water content of its victim to reproduce. Once it's done digesting, the creature says "Form of...A stream of water!" then drips silently away. Scully, once again, doesn't buy it. The small parasite she removed from Greer's neck is now a floating corpse in a jar. If these things are made of water, why did this mini-monster die in a water-based environment? It's a good question, but it's left unanswered. Mulder sees that the looter has snuck off, so he bolts into the hallway.

He runs to the garage and discovers that the looter has stolen the deputy's Jeep. Mulder and Scully's sedan can't manuever through the obstructed roads, so the group is officially stuck. As Mulder makes his way back toward Scully, he sees a worm snaking across a ceiling light. Mulder stares at the beast for a long second, and the shy creature takes offense. It breaks through the plastic casing and snares Mulder's throat in a loving, parasitic embrace.

Mulder stumbles through the dark hallway, clutching his neck. He shows his puncture wounds to Scully, but before she can help her partner, Vincent slams the door and points a gun in Scully's face. If Krycek were in the room he'd undoubtedly say "Don't you see? It's all going to hell."

A series of hellish events unfold: Mulder runs down the hallway and collapses near the entrance, Angela's water breaks, Scully prepares to deliver the child and a long tentacle slithers from a light fixture above George Vincent's bald head.

Just as doom seems imminent, salvation streaks through the condominium complex. Mulder spots Reggie The Wonder Cat howling in the rain. Relying on his FBI training, Mulder remembers that cats hate water. Oddly, Reggie is just standing there, staring back at the gasping agent. With this information, Mulder can reach two conclusions: 1. Reggie is an incredibly dumb animal that doesn't know how to get out of the rain or 2. He's a Super Kitty who knows that fresh water kills the parasite. Mulder opts for the second conclusion and crawls outside to be cleansed of his demon.

Meanwhile, Scully keeps her cool through a series of rapid-fire events. Angela's baby sprints from her womb with remarkable speed as Scully determines that fresh water will kill the parasite. Just as she makes this miraculous connection, a long tentacle grabs Vincent by the neck and hauls him to the ceiling. Scully orders Walter to pick up a nearby pistol and shoot at the sprinkler. Walter grabs the gun, aims, waits for Vincent to swing out of the way, fires and.....the screen goes black.

Walter's marksmanship was good enough to save the day, for when we return the scene has shifted to Arthur Dales' home. It's early the next morning. The sun is out and the ground is littered with debris. Dales is inside, admiring Mulder's neck wound and ruminating on Scully's tremendous abilities. His opinion of Scully has taken a 180 and he credits Scully with saving Mulder's life. Mulder protests, claiming he made the fresh-water connection himself, but Dales doesn't buy it. In fact, he declares that his FBI career may have continued had he been partnered with someone like Scully. To celebrate, Dales proposes an early-morning toast.

And with that, it's over.

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



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