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Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose

"Classic" doesn't do this episode justice so I'll just have to call it "one of the finest television episodes ever aired." Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose has the intricate storyline and high-level acting we've come to expect in the X-files but it also has humor that can stand against the best-written comedies.

Alrighty, let's get to it:

Someone in the Twin Cities is angry with psychics, and their anger is leading to lots of dead future-tellers. The killer is an innocent-looking man on a quest to know why he's killing psychics. Unfortunately, no one has the answer, so his rampage continues.

The latest psychic killing has baffled local law enforcement so they enlist the help of the Stupendous Yappi, a tacky psychic to the stars. The killings have also attracted the attention of Mulder and Scully, so we've got a real meeting of the minds at the crime scene. Yappi swoops in, darting through a crowd of reporters, photographers and psychic groupies. His highly-trained raised-eyebrow hurtles him through the room, searching for clues and proclaiming vague prophecies like "he's a white male with facial hair -- or not" and "he has a tattoo somewhere on his body." Suddenly Yappi's brow wrinkles and he loses the vision. An evildoer in the room is sending out negative vibes. You'd think it would be Scully, but Yappi sniffs around the room, arrives at Mulder and tells him to leave.

At a suburban Minneapolis home, Clyde Bruckman, insurance salesman and death prognosticator, desperately tries to sell a policy to a young married couple. They want to buy a boat, he wants them to sign up for life insurance. In his closing pitch, Bruckman tells the young man that two years from now he'll be turned into highway bologna by a drunk driver. Somehow, I don't think they bought the policy.

Bruckman, depressed and hungry, returns home where he sees a vision of his own head in a bag of rotten lettuce. Things get worse when he goes to his apartment complex' dumpster and finds the gaudily-dressed body of a female psychic.

Mulder and Scully arrive to question Bruckman and he unenthusiastically tells them everything he knows. Problem is, he knows too much. Without touching the body he's somehow deduced that the corpse's eyes were cut out with a crystal ball. Scully thinks he's guilty, Mulder thinks he's psychic -- guess which one gets their way.

Mulder drags Bruckman to the scene of the earlier crime (the one featuring our buddy Yappi). At first Bruckman is reluctant and questions the agents' intentions ("You expect me to believe that's a real name?" Bruckman asks while looking at Mulder's badge). But his uncooperative nature is preempted by a psychic vision. Like Yappi, he wheels around the room, but this time they've got a real psychic on their hands. When Bruckman declares that a woman's body will be found the next day at a local lake, Mulder believes him.

Sure enough, Bruckman's prediction that the body will be found at a lake near a little, white, Nazi stormtrooper (by way of a propane tank) comes true. Mulder sees the stormtrooper resemblance in the tank and Scully finds a scientific way to tell him he's full of crap.

Bruckman is put through a battery of psychic tests -- most of which he fails -- and Mulder realizes that Bruckman's gift is too specific to be beneficial. He can't describe tomorrow's weather, but he can sure as hell tell you your demise.

During the session, Scully stops by clutching a new piece of evidence -- a keychain with a business' symbol. A number of the psychic victims were found with these chains so there's obviously a link. She's traced the symbol to an investment firm that uses astrology to predict the market. Amazingly, Bruckman knows the complete vital statistics of the company's owner, but it's not a psychic flash -- he sold a policy to the man a few weeks before. Mulder and Scully are ready to find the owner, but Bruckman knows their search will be futile -- he's already dead. Fortunately, Bruckman knows where to find the body.

While driving off to a wooded, body-hiding location Bruckman off-handedly tells Mulder that there's better ways to go than autoerotic asphyxiation. The horrified look on Scully's face is priceless.

Bruckman knows the general area of the body, so the three traipse around the woods in search of a corpse. During their corpse-hunt Bruckman explains the genesis of his psychic ability. In 1959 he had a ticket to see Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, but his ticket was one-day too late for both died in a plane crash the night before. The story goes that the Bopper wasn't supposed to be on the plane, but a coin toss had granted him a seat, and his eventual trip to the hereafter. Bruckman became obsessed with the incident and pondered how all the small events in the Bopper's life led to that fateful coin toss. Gradually, he began to see how other's would die, and now he was a full-fledged death knell. Scully, again, doesn't believe a word of it, but when they find the investment company owner submerged in a mud puddle beneath their sedan, her tune changes.

Back at Bruckman's apartment, Mulder asks for more help, causing Bruckman to launch into a detailed story where Mulder pursues the killer into a kitchen, steps in a pie and has his neck sliced by the psychic-hater. His prediction is backed up by a letter the killer has sent Bruckman. "He knows that I know," Bruckman says. Mulder and Scully decide protective custody is the best course of action.

The agents set up shop at the Le Damping Hotel where Bruckman feasts on the establishment's pies. During the long wait, Scully at first says she doesn't want to know how she dies, but her curiosity gets the best of her, prompting a response that has led to innumerable X-philes discussions. According to Bruckman, Scully doesn't die. Clones anyone?

During the night another murder has been committed, so Mulder and Scully bring a different agent in to watch Bruckman (and whenever a minor character enters, you know he's a goner). While leaving, Scully bumps into a bellhop making a room service call. The food is travelling to Bruckman's domicile and the bellhop carrying it just happens to be the psychic-killer. Upon arriving, both Bruckman and the bellhop read each other's vibes. The killer has found his master and he asks for the answer to the one question he can't answer: Why does he kill? Bruckman's Zen response sums it all up: "You do the things you do because you're a homicidal maniac." Before they can pursue the ins-and-outs of maniacial killers, the replacement detective comes into the room and the killer plants a knife in his chest. During the melee, Bruckman disappears.

At the newest murder scene, Scully finds a piece of lace under her fingernail, and using her amazing "scully-sense" determines that the bellhop is the killer. Mulder chalks it up to women's intuition as both race back to the hotel.

The scene becomes deja vu as Mulder tracks the killer to the hotel's kitchen. He steps in the pie, spins around, but Mulder remembers Bruckman's scenario and blocks the killer's attack. Scully inadvertently arrives via a service elevator and plants a slug in the killer's chest before he can off Mulder. Coincidence? I think not.

Psychics of the Twin Cities can breath a little easier now that the killer is gone, but the agents still haven't found Bruckman. They go to his apartment where a small dog waits outside. The note on the door asks Scully if she'd like a dog and the short, sad saga of Queequeg begins. Inside the apartment they find Bruckman's body. An empty bottle of pills and a plastic bag marked the end of the death-predicting insurance agent.

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



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