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Folie a Deux

Who would've thought an episode with a french title could become one of the finest monster episodes in series history. When you've got zombies, angry members of the bourgeoisie and Mulder in the loony bin, there's little chance for failure.

In a telemarketers hell in Oak Brook, Illinois a seemingly content telemarketer harrasses innocent Americans on behalf of the VinylRight Corporation. Amidst speed dialing and anal managers, the man hears a creepy, oversized-insect noise. Things get worse when he actually sees this lost cast member from "Mimic." Alas, it isn't Mira Sorvino, but a very angry evil force with an exoskeleton. Oh yes, Mrs. Loach, "It's here."

Back in Washington, D.C. Skinner calls Mulder and Scully into his office to hand them the plum assignment of performing supernatural threat assessment at the VinylRight offices. Someone has issued an audio tape detailing the presence of a monster -- a monster that must die -- and since the company already has a history of over-exuberant employees with guns, the feds are asked to intervene before bullets fly. Scully accepts the assignment without the hint of an eye-roll, but Mulder isn't so keen on tracking down another paranormal lead. After getting all huffy in the hallway, Mulder tells Scully he'll take care of this one by himself.

Mulder unwillingly goes to Chicago to investigate this vinyl selling monster and he's met by Greg Pincus, the head manager at VinylRight. Pincus plays the wacky tape, and Mulder seems unphased, but immediately after leaving Pincus' office he calls Scully and asks her to kindly dig through every x-file to find a reference to the phrase "hiding in the light." The tape-maker said those four magic words, causing an enormous paranormal bell to ring in Mulder's head.

After Mulder leaves, Pincus begins calling his employees to his office under the guise of making sure everyone is happy. But telemarketer Gary Lambert, the man able to see his boss' true form, knows that he's turning the workers into zombies -- presenting yet another reason why it's bad to work a 9 to 5 job.

Mulder reviews the audio tape over and over in that semi-obsessive way of his, but we also see shots of Lambert readying his AK-47 at home. Scully calls Mulder with some interesting information about a past case in which a priest saw something hiding in the light, and not long after he brought a couple pistols to Sunday service just to drive the point home. Mulder asks Scully to come to Chicago, for things have become a little too weird for one agent to handle.

Traveling back to VinylRight during the company lunch break, Mulder unwittingly walks into a hostage situation. Later that afternoon, Scully stops by VinylRight and is greeted by a platoon of feds and swat team members. They know a hostage situation is in progress, and they know the guy wants to broadcast his message on tv, but other than that they're at a loss.

Mulder has slightly more information because he, and a bunch of VinylRight employees, are being held at gunpoint by Lambert. Lambert uses this opportunity to explain to his co-workers that Pincus is an evil being who turns people into zombies. During his oral manifesto, the feds attempt to infiltrate the offices, but Lambert catches on and fires a whole bunch of rounds into the VinylRight ceiling. One of the managers tries to take Lambert out, but his heroic attempt is thwarted by a couple shots to the chest. Since the roof trick didn't work, the Feds try reaching Mulder via his cell phone, but this merely reveals Mulder's try identity and pisses Lambert off even more.

The gunshots convince the Feds that Lambert means business, so they send a camera crew in to provide him with his forum. With the camera on, Gary prepares to off Pincus, but Mulder steps into the line of fire. The lights go out, Gary tells Mulder to look at the evil being behind him, and since an AK is pointed between his eyes, he obliges. To his chagrin, he sees a six-foot bug leaning against the counter. Just as Mulder has seen the evil within, the swat team drives through the wall (literally) and pokes Gary full of holes.

Most people would consider the case closed, but Mulder's on the warpath now. Back in D.C. he holes up in his office and finds more variations of the phrase "hiding in the light." Guided by genius and paranoia, Mulder begins to think that Lambert may have been on to something. Tracking the 10-year employment history of Pincus, Mulder sees that wherever Pincus goes, crazy employees go postal. Scully comes in and asks if Mulder has slept at all, but he's on a roll and launches into a bunch of theories. In one, he suggests that Pincus has the ability to hypnotize his victims and Scully tries to offer a few scientific explanations -- including that the delusions of Lambert may have been transferred to Mulder (folie a duex). Mulder doesn't take too well to this suggestion and runs out the door to go prove that Lambert was right.

Back in Illinois, Mulder finds evidence in Lambert's apartment that shows he was tracking Pincus' movements. While scanning the apartment, Mulder sees one of the VinylRight employees out on the lawn -- but the pretty blonde woman has taken a hideous zombie form. He pursues, but a dark sedan, driven by Pincus, wisks the blonde zombie away.

While Mulder tracks the vinyl-undead, Skinner questions Scully about Mulder's behavior. She stands up for him, but is surprised when Skinner informs her of an autopsy Mulder has requested on the manager Lambert shot. Down at Quantico, she instructs the coroner to only perform an external examination of the corpse, but even that turns up some weird evidence. The corpse's decomposition suggests the man was dead for three days, but he was shot the previous afternoon. Zombie anyone?

Mulder follows Pincus to a suburban Illinois home where he witnesses a zombification. The big bug sneaks up on a woman and pokes her neck with holes, but when she gains consciousness the only intruder she sees is Mulder and his glock. The next day Skinner is called into a meeting with Mulder, Pincus and the newly zombied woman (who looks quite normal). Pincus is ready to forget the whole thing, which is all good by Skinner, but Mulder just can't let it go. Skinner berates Mulder, but his lesson is lost as Mulder sees the evil version of Pincus creeping behind his boss. After all these years and all their battles, you'd think that Mulder would realize that Skinner can break him like a pretzel stick, but Mulder still draws his weapon and is greeted by a patented Skinner choke hold.

Pointing a gun in Skinner's face lands Mulder in the loony bin. Scully stops by and quickly sees that even a mental hospital can't curb Mulder's smart-assed sense of humor ("Five years together Scully; you must've seen this coming"). Scully is unamused, but her autopsy information gets Mulder riled up again and he tells her about Pincus' back-of-the neck biting technique. Scully gets all weepy and hopes that Mulder pulls out of this, but Mulder hits home by declaring that she's the only one who will believe him. She's his "one in five billion" (have at it 'shippers!).

Whoever said Scully isn't a romantic was a fool, because Mulder's comment prompts Scully to reexamine the zombie stiff. A magnified look at the back of his neck reveals a wacky three-pronged incision.

Back in the bin a nurse jukes Mulder up on drugs, but our semi-wacked hero can't fall asleep because the evil bug is swarming outside his third-floor hospital window. The nasty nurse listens to his rants, then kindly unlocks the window so the big bug can drop by for a visit. Apparently medical professionals are susceptible to zombie attacks too.

Scully somehow breaks the space-time barrier and drops by Mulder's hospital room later that night to tell him of her findings. The nurse tries to prevent her from gaining access, but this is Scully she's dealing with and there's no way she's not getting in that room -- especially when she sees the nurse as her zombie self. Once again, she busts down a door, fires two rounds and saves Mulder's neck (literally this time). The bug jumps through the window, never to be seen again.

Back in Skinner's office, Scully declares Mulder to be sound and fit for duty, but she doesn't elaborate on what she's seen. The scientist side is once again seizing control and she doesn't even mention the zombie nurse she ran into that same night. Nothing is solved, but it sure was fun watching.

I haven't been this impressed with a monster episode since the first-season classic "Squeeze." "Folie A Deux" was smart, well-acted and more suspenseful than most of the monster pics that hit the big screen. Don't be surprised when this one is immortalized on video.

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



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