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Rain King

There isn't much to say about this episode that hasn't already been said by disappointed fans. Like many of you, I enjoyed parts of "Rain King," but the episode as a whole didn't come through. Nonetheless, here's a rundown on what happened:

Sheila Fontaine, a lifelong resident of Kroner, Kansas,anxiously waits for her fiance, Daryl Mootz, to arrive at their home. She's taken on a red glow -- red fingernails, red nightgown, red lips -- but that's okay because it's Valentine's Day and it's socially acceptable to garnish oneself in red on the Lover's Holiday. Sheila relaxes in front of the television, munching on chocolates and watching the weather report. As she chews, her fiance stumbles through the door and it's apparent that no lovin' will be had tonight. He's upset that his wife-to-be has announced their engagement in the local newspaper. He's so distraught that he calls off the wedding and drives away, guzzling beer and pushing the pedal to the limit. As he drives through the night, yelping along with love songs, it begins to rain. Mootz rolls down the window and sticks out his arm, shouting at the heavens and rejoicing at his freedom. But the rain turns to hail and the hail gets big. It cracks the windshield and dents the hood, striking the car at an ungodly velocity. The hail-driven pavement ices over and Mootz careens into a telephone poll. He opens the door (which is always a good thing to do when baseball-sized hail is falling from the sky) and he's promptly cracked in the head by two pieces of heart-shaped ice. Mootz passes out, his head dented by love from above.

Six months later, Kroner is in the midst of a dustbowl drought, and who do you call when your small midwestern town is suffering from a lack of water? Mulder and Scully of course. The agents land in a dusty field where they're met by the town's mayor -- Jim Gilmore -- and a baton-twirling juggernaut named Rhonda. Gilmore mistakes Mulder and Scully for a couple, but Scully clears up the confusion in a heartbeat. She wants to know why Mulder has forced her to come to the Midwest. Mulder has been intentionally vague about the problems in Kroner, but Gilmore is more than happy to relay the tale of Daryl "Rain King" Mootz and his stranglehold on the weather. Mootz has been making a killing by charging local farmers for rain. He has a remarkable ability to show up at a drought-stricken home, do a little "dog and pony show" then slit the sky and call forth the water. It sounds like a scam, but Mootz has come through on a consistent basis. Scully now understands why Mulder was so gung-ho about visiting Kroner.

On their way to visit Mootz, Mulder tries his best to justify their trip to Kroner. He tells Scully that Kroner is an epicenter for weird weather -- droughts, tornadoes, floods -- so it's understandable that weather mayhem would be afoot in the area. Scully looks at the dilapidated buildings and the hang-dog expressions on the local population and surmises that these people are so desperate for salvation that they'll take it in any form available -- including a crank like Daryl Mootz.

But being the local crank obviously pays well because Mootz has a well-decorated office. Mulder and Scully get the run-around from Mootz' ultra-loyal secretary. Mootz is out of the office, so Scully asks for the next best thing -- a list of Mootz' customers. Her request is met by a wall of attitude from the secretary. While Scully and the secretary trade barbed comments, Mulder's attention drifts to the television in the corner of the room. Local weatherman Holman Hardt is babbling about scattered showers in a nearby county. A bulb goes off in Mulder's head and he decides to stop by the television station to ask Hardt about Mootz' credibility.

Mulder and Scully arrive at the KPJK television studio and they're once again mistaken for a couple. This time, the offending party is Sheila Fontaine (Mootz' ex-fiance seen at the beginning of the episode). Fontaine works at the station and she's been waiting for a contest-winning couple to arrive. When Mulder and Scully enter the studio, she figures they're the winners, but the matter is cleared up when the real couple -- the Gundersons -- waddle through the door. Mr. Gunderson is a tall, gaunt man with a balding head. Mrs. Gunderson is a portly red-headed woman. Mulder, upon seeing the Gundersons, mutters "It's like looking in a mirror."

With the mistaken identities rectified, Mulder and Scully question Hardt in his office. They ask about Mootz' abilities and to Scully's dismay, Hardt says that Mootz is "the real deal." Mulder smirks with "I-told-you-so" delight.

The agents drive to a local farm where Mootz is scheduled to perform his weather magic. Mootz arrives in a cherry-red Suburban sporting a Kansas license plate emblazoned "RAINKNG." He looks like a shady preacher, but he's a preacher with only one leg. His left leg was lost in the accident six months ago, but he's managed to move past his handicap through his new-found riches. The rain show starts when tinny pop music sputters from a cheap radio and Mootz begins to dance. His shakes and twists enthrall the crowd of farmers. Mulder and Scully walk away and Scully openly doubts Mootz' credibility. As she speaks, a thunderclap travels across the sky and torrential rain rushes toward the ground. The Rain King strikes again.

Back at the television studio, Hardt and Fontaine talk about their upcoming twenty-year high school reunion. The pair will attend the event together, but Fontaine's mind drifts away from high school memories and focuses on her former fiance, Daryl Mootz. She's concerned about Mulder and Scully's presence in their small town and their interest in Mootz. For some strange reason, she still has feelings for her ex-fiance, and as she dreamily remembers her lost love, Hardt cringes. He tries to convince her that other men could treat her better. Obviously, Hardt considers himself one of these men, but Fontaine misses the signal and walks off. Hardt's face wrinkles and he resembles a constipated clown.

In the wee hours of the morning, Mulder and Scully are both awake in their motel rooms. Scully can't sleep and Mulder is busy reading old weather-related newspaper clippings. The wind whips into Mulder's room, so he walks to the window to close the blinds. As he looks out toward a dark field, he sees a swirl of wind wrap around a herd of cattle. One unfortunate bovine shoots straight into the air, a guttural whine trailing after it. Mulder rigidly turns and listens as the sound of a quickly-approaching cow grows louder. He dives away from the bed just as the cow crashes through the roof. Wooden shards and hamburger meat grotesquely entwine as Mulder looks on in disbelief.

The next morning the cow cleanup crew arrives to take care of the bovine bomb. Mulder tells Scully that the cow had his name on it and she rightly asks if he experienced any head trauma. Hardt arrives, thankful no one was seriously hurt. Fontaine arrives moments later, her face streaked with mascara. She sadly says that the dropped cow was her fault.

Fontaine's story continues in Scully's motel room. Mulder receives stitches from a paramedic while Scully and Hardt listen to Fontaine's teary explanation. The gravity-stricken animal is the latest in a long-line of bad weather events in Fontaine's life. Her senior prom was interrupted by a twister, her July wedding featured six inches of snow and on the day her divorce was finalized, she looked toward the sky and frightfully watched as the airy clouds morphed into cruel, laughing faces. And oh yeah, her ex-fiance Daryl Mootz lost a leg in a freak hailstorm, but that probably has nothing to do with the falling cow. Mulder allays Fontaine's fears and tells her she's not responsible for the cow's death. Fontaine leaves, her conscience clear. After she's gone, the paramedic says that Mootz didn't crash because of hail -- it was due to his drunken stupor and his excessive speed. Hardt is incredulous. He was unaware that Mootz was drunk. His face once again wrinkles, but this time he looks like a pensive constipated clown. Mulder and Scully take note.

Back in the heartland, Mootz is sitting under a tent, kicking back after another successful rain dance. He's mumbling about how important and tiring his work is while his secretary/girlfriend gives him a massage. Suddenly, the rain stops and with it goes Mootz' livelihood. Is it possible that when Hardt learned of the true reason for Mootz' accident, this knowledge somehow affected the weather patterns above Kroner? Oh you betcha, doncha know.

With a cow taking up space in Mulder's motel room, he and Scully are forced to share accommodations. The sexual tension stirs Mulder's brain, allowing him to make a stunning connection between Hardt and the weather. He correctly concludes that Hardt is the cause of Kroner's weather problems, and the evidence he's found backs up his claim. Hardt has been hospitalized for nervous exhaustion five times -- each time coming after a significant weather event. And on the day of Hardt's mother's funeral, it rained rose petals for an hour. Despite the oddity of raining rose petals, Scully rolls her eyes.

Mulder's theory is interesting, but he lacks a definitive link between Hardt and the weather. With no evidence and no leads, the agents will have to pack it up and return to D.C. Before they depart for the airport (or the cornfield or wherever it is that planes reside in Kroner) Mulder visits Hardt at the television station. It's a scene straight from a really bad comic book. Mulder confronts Hardt with his knowledge of Hardt's true identity. He knows that on the surface Hardt is a mild-mannered weatherman, but beneath that constipated-but-kindly veneer beats the pulsing heart of the all-powerful, highly-omnipotent Weatherboy! Hardt crumbles under the pressure and admits that he's the man behind the curtain. Mulder feels bad for the big lug so he tells him that if he simply expresses his bottled-up emotions -- particularly his love for Fontaine -- the rain will bless Kroner and the weather mishaps will cease. Hardt knows that Mulder is right, but he doesn't have the courage to follow through. It's almost as though his entire character is modeled after the Cowardly Lion, but that would be another season-six-reference to "The Wizard of Oz" and the X-files crew would never overuse a reference. Ozian similarities aside, Hardt asks for Mulder's help, and when Mulder balks, Hardt creates a dense fog that will prevent any plane from taking off. So Mulder dusts off his psychology degree and begins the arduous process of instilling self-confidence in Holman Hardt.

It's a good thing Mulder went into the FBI, because his psych abilities are lacking. When he and Hardt emerge from Hardt's office, Mulder is the one receiving dating advice. He stoically leads Hardt to Fontaine's office where, presumably, Hardt will reveal his true feelings. In turn, the rain will come, the drought will end, Hardt and Fontaine will live happily ever after and the town of Kroner will become a place where ruby slippers and elfin creatures happily coexist. But utopia will have to wait because Fontaine misinterprets Hardt's declaration of love. In turn, she tells Hardt about her newfound passion for Mulder. What a tangled web we weave.

A thunderclap ominously foretells that the waters of love are about to boil over. Mulder's hypothesis that Hardt's release of emotion will bring the rains proves true, but the pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other. The rain begins falling with torrential vengeance as Hardt dejectedly walks from Fontaine's office and tells Mulder that Fontaine is in love with him. Mulder walks off and stumbles across Fontaine and the freshly-bankrupt Daryl Mootz. Mootz is begging Fontaine to take him back (he needs her cash) and his pleadings start getting rough. Mulder steps in, Fontaine gets a dreamy goo in her eyes and Mootz takes a pathetic swing at Mulder. Within seconds, Mootz is in handcuffs, Fontaine is smacking a kiss on Mulder and Scully and Hardt round the corner to see the entire scene. Hardt runs off, Scully fights her gag reflex and Mulder stands there with red lipstick smeared across his mug.

Mulder and Scully's plane is still grounded, but now it's due to the intense thunderstorms blanketing Kroner. With nothing to do, the agents travel to Kroner High School where the class of 1978 is engaged in a groovy reunion. But Mulder and Scully aren't there to get jiggy; they're searching for Hardt and Fontaine in the hopes of setting things straight. Suddenly, the X-files has become "Peggy Sue Got Married."

Now that the show has degenerated into a slightly-paranormal high-school romance, here's what happens in a nutshell: Hardt tells Fontaine that he's in love with her. Fontaine runs to the bathroom. Scully follows her and delivers a speech about falling in love with best friends. The storm drains back up and mud explodes from the sinks. Daryl Mootz busts through the gymnasium doors screaming something about being the king. Mootz takes a swipe at Mulder, misses and passes out. The electricity goes out. Lightning flashes. Fontaine finds Hardt, confronts him about his weather-making abilities, then kisses him. The lights come on, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" sweeps from the P.A. and love flitters through the sweaty old school. Happy-happy-joy-joy.

The scene shifts to one year later. Sheila Hardt is holding her newborn baby while watching her husband Holman on television. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is still playing. The camera slowly approaches the window as a soft breeze blows through the leaves of a nearby tree and a rainbow filters down from the heavens. It's the cheesiest thing you're ever going to see and somehow it became the ending to an X-file.

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



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