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Dreamland (Part 1 of 2)

This episode was hyped as a comedy, but it wasn't a complete comedy like "Bad Blood" or "Small Potatoes." Granted, it had its funny moments, but this was a cliffhanger that left Mulder in jeopardy. I'm going to reserve judgement until next week's conclusion because it's not fair to judge a story when it's only half-told.

So here's what happened:

Along Highway 375 in Nevada, Mulder and Scully dart across the dark desert floor, sprinting through the night to meet an inside source from Area 51. Mulder is giddy, Scully is not. Scully longs for a normal life -- a life of dogs and children and PTA meetings. Their debate about what is normal is put on hold when a fleet of white Jeep Cherokees surrounds their car and Mulder and Scully are pulled out at gunpoint.

A paunchy, cigarette-smoking man (no, not that one) emerges from one of the Jeeps and asks Mulder and Scully what they're doing in a restricted military zone. The paunchy, dark-suited man whispers in Mulder's ear "There's no such thing as flying saucers," but his sweet nothing is interrupted by a bright light on the horizon and a rumbling noise in the sky. Something emerges over a nearby hilltop, floats over the assembled mass of people and shoots a bright light through Mulder. The craft hobbles through the sky, disappearing over another hill.

Is this a typical UFO sighting at Area 51? Well, sorta. The UFO, or government aircraft, or whatever you want to call it, performed a neat little trick while it hovered above Mulder -- it transferred his inner being into the body of the paunchy Area 51 man. In turn, the paunchy conspirator was zipped into Mulder's lanky frame. In true "Quantum Leap" fashion, none of the other people realize what's happened. By the time the teaser is over, the Area 51 employee has driven off with Scully and Mulder has taken a seat in a top-secret government-owned Jeep. Whoops.

You'd think Mulder would be a kid in a candy shop given his new-found access to the mythical Area 51, but he's still adjusting to his new form. His ID card says his name is Morris Fletcher, and he's a civilian official in charge of covering up Area 51's dirty little secrets. Mulder finds a free moment in Fletcher's office and tries to call Scully to tell her what's happened.

But Scully's busy pumping gas at a rural Nevada gas station. Mulder's call goes unanswered by Fletcher, who's too busy bopping to ambient techno music to notice that someone is trying to call. To make things even weirder, Fletcher asks Scully to buy him a pack of Morleys when she pays for the gas. Ah yes, Morleys: The cigarette chosen by four out of five picky conspirators.

While Mulder tries to call Scully, another Area 51 employee enters Fletcher's office. The man has run reverse phone traces that show a leak inside Area 51. Mulder ponders this predicament but the phone rings and Mulder receives an earful from Fletcher's hot-headed wife. It's midnight, she's been waiting up and they're out of milk. Ah, domestic bliss.

Fortunately, Fletcher car pooled that morning so Mulder doesn't have to drive himself home. Mulder creeps into the Fletcher home, finds Fletcher's wife curled in bed and decides it would be best if he crashed in the living room. Settling into a recliner he flips through the channels and finds a soft-porn classic on the "Sizl" channel.

While Mulder is lulled to sleep by the fake grunts and moans of porn stars a top-secret airplane crashes near Area 51. A containment crew is immediately on the scene to pick up the pieces, but the pieces are a little out of place. The co-pilot has become one with a desert bolder, but unlike most high-speed meetings between human and rock, this one didn't prove fatal. The co-pilot is still alive, but his arms are flailing and his chin is glued to the stone. The pilot is in slightly better condition (he's not part of the fossil record) but his debriefing is going to take some time seeing as the only words coming from his mouth are Hopi Indian chants. This wasn't your run-of-the-mill airplane crash.

The next morning, Fletcher (looking like Mulder) and Scully are called before the always-cheerful A.D. Kersh for their weekly reaming. Kersh uses his calculated monotone to pry the agents for information, particularly an answer as to why they were gallivanting around Area 51. Scully says they were meeting a potential source. Kersh asks who that source is, and Fletcher quickly says he'd gladly give him the name if he knew it. What? Mulder would divulge a source's identity? Scully looks at her partner incredulously, but it gets worse. Fletcher profusely apologizes for this incident and promises that neither he, nor Agent Scully, will ever disobey a direct order again.

In the hallway, Scully questions Fletcher's intentions, particularly the ease with which he was giving up a source. Fletcher doesn't answer because his attention is focused squarely on Kersh's assistant. He sidles beside the assistant, says something coy, emerges from the office and cooly smacks Scully on the behind as he walks away. Why Scully let him get away with that is anyone's guess, but it's obvious that Fletcher's behavior is quite un-mulderlike.

Back in the Fletcher household, Mulder is rudely awakened by Joanne Fletcher (the wife). She's piping mad and ready to explode. Mulder decides it's time to make a quick exit, but his search for Fletcher's car keys sends him deeper into the pit of dysfunctional family despair. In the span of five minutes he incorrectly addresses Fletcher's two children, receives a scolding for not buying milk, tells Chris (the daughter) that she needs rhinoplasty and sums it all up with this quip: "Well, my work here is done. Have a nice day."

But it's not over. Joanne confronts Mulder at the door, chastising him for destroying their happy marriage. To make matters worse, he hasn't taken a shower and he's wearing the same suit he wore the day before. So Mulder traipses upstairs to admire the extensive wardrobe of Morris Fletcher. While examining his portly form in the mirror Mulder performs a series of exercises/dance steps that could have easily won him a spot on "Solid Gold." He churns butter, he does the cabbage patch, he shakes his booty and, if I'm not mistaken, he revives "The Freddy."

Mulder's dancing isn't the only odd thing going on in Nevada. Down at Area 51 the dark-suited conspirators have made some headway with the Hopi-speaking airplane pilot. Sitting in adjacent plexi-glass cells are two radically different people: Captain Robert McDonough, the pilot of the downed aircraft, and Mrs. Lana Chee, a 75-year-old Hopi Indian woman. Their bodies look correct, but the words coming out of them don't match. Captain McDonough is still praying in Hopi, and Mrs. Chee knows a little too much about the previous night's crash. The two have experienced the same body switching as Mulder and Fletcher.

On the way to work, Mulder stops at a small gas station to phone Scully and explain what's been happening. He gets in touch with his partner and tries to convince her it's him, but she doesn't remember the UFO from the night before and seeing as she's sitting next to what she believes to be Mulder, she's not buying the story. Scully thinks the caller is Mulder's Area 51 informant, so she tells Fletcher to pick up the phone. The sound of a Linda Tripp double click scares Mulder off, so he hangs up. Instead of immediately hopping a plane and tracking down the imposter, Fletcher deems it best to inform A.D. Kersh of the call. Scully is dumfounded and if you listen carefully you can hear the faint sound of Linda Tripp snapping her gum in the distance...

Mulder makes a pit stop inside the small gas station -- a seemingly innocuous excursion -- but bad things are once again following in Mulder's footsteps. A sandstorm kicks up moments after Mulder drives off, but the storm intensifies, the ground swells and the windows of the station implode. Mulder passes the omni-present fleet of white Jeeps, which are on their way to the station to investigate. Upon arriving, Mulder and the Area 51 police find the station's attendant fused to the wooden floor, covered in Lysol and Twinkies. Mulder wants to help the man, but in this part of Nevada they believe in frontier justice, so a military hack puts the attendant out of his misery and they waste little time blowing the station to the heavens.

Back in D.C. Kersh's assistant is doing her best to keep FBI morale on the upswing. Scully drops by Mulder's apartment, but as she emerges from the elevator she sees the tousled assistant leaving Mulder's dungeon of delight. Scully is disgusted. No, she's more than disgusted, she's ripped, but there's no time for that. She traced the call received earlier to a payphone in rural Nevada, and being the diligent agent she is, she wants to follow-up. Fletcher is happy to remain in D.C. and reminds her that they're no longer assigned to the X-files. Scully storms out, slamming the door with gusto.

Strange things continue to take shape in Nevada, but the big brains running Area 51 finally have a bead on what's happening. The downed aircraft had a malfunction in it's gravity propulsion system. This malfunction created a warp in the space-time continuum and this warp explains three things:

    1. The loss of time experienced by Scully and the Area 51 employees.

    2. The body switching

    3. The abundance of creatures (both human and otherwise) spontaneously fusing with boulders and floors.
They've identified the cause, but there isn't a way to reverse the process.

With the knowledge that he may never regain his previous form, Mulder retires to the comfy confines of Fletcher's home. His late-night arrival and his subconscious mumblings about a woman named Scully are causing significant marital strife with Joanne. Joanne greets him with another early-morning tirade, once again insistent that he's ruining their marriage. Mulder temporarily convinces her that he's just going through a change that has nothing to do with her. The solace is short-lived because Scully arrives at Fletcher's house to follow a lead. While Joanne throws Fletcher's clothes out the door, Mulder tries to convince Scully that he has switched bodies with Fletcher. He recites her full name, he details the stormy relationship he has with her brother, Bill Jr., he even tells her what she's been eating for lunch lately, but Scully claims that all of that information could be easily gathered. Mulder realizes that the only way he's going to win his partner's confidence is with evidence explaining what happened the night they visited Area 51.

Unfortunately there's a snag in acquiring the evidence. Fletcher has also travelled to Nevada and he witnessed the scene in his driveway between Mulder and Scully. Fletcher sees the opportunity to create some real mayhem so he calls an agent at Area 51 to report that Morris Fletcher (Mulder) is the inside source. After he gets off the phone with the agent he dials his new buddy, A.D. Kersh, and squeals on Scully.

Things go horribly awry later that night when Mulder steals the flight recorder from the downed aircraft and attempts to rendezvous with Scully at a service station. White Jeeps surround the store and MP's rush in to arrest Mulder. Fletcher calmly strolls from a back room and settles next to Scully, watching as Mulder is hauled away. As he's shackled and dragged from the station, Mulder cries out for Scully, telling her it's a set-up. The inquisitive look on Scully's face suggests she's finally catching on.

To be continued...

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



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