When I first watched "Trevor" I thought it was a decent episode, but a second viewing has given me a new appreciation for this interesting monster-of-the-week creation. The actor who played Pinker Rawls (John Diehl) did an excellent job of showing, in a limited amount of time, the different sides of his character. Throw in some funny dialogue between Mulder and Scully and a plot that goes beyond a typical "escaped prisoner" story, and you've got an episode worthy of rewatching.
Here's what happens in this story of a man, a boy and a tornado:
The Prison Farm in Jasper County, Mississippi has the unfortunate distinction of being ground-zero for a nasty thunderstorm. A twister has its sites on the facility's MASH-like compound and frantic inmates are zipping around, desperately reinforcing flimsy shelters.
Two prisoners, Wilson "Pinker" Rawls and Old Whaley, are busy boarding a window. For some reason, Whaley deems this a good time to question Rawls' manhood. While Whaley cajoles and laughs, Rawls calmly grabs a long nail and slams it through the top of Whaley's right hand. A nearby prison guard witnesses this touching exchange and points his shotgun at Rawls, who passively stands, resigned to the fact that he's screwed.
At first glance, Rawls is a cool character, but his demeanor changes when prison-superintendent Raybert Fellowes (no relation to Dogbert) orders Rawls thrown in "The Box." Under ordinary conditions a stint in the box would mean a few hours in a locked out-house, but Rawls' situation is different. He gets to sit in the plague-infested structure while a tornado is spraying debris and tossing cows through the prison yard. Rawls doesn't think highly of this idea and expresses his dismay, but Fellowes isn't moved.
After the storm passes, a group of guards and prisoners surveys the wreckage and finds that "The Box" is now "The Splinter." Rawls is presumed dead, but if he did survive it's likely he's been relocated to a Whitewater development somewhere in Arkansas.
The head guard rushes to Fellowes' office to relay the news of Rawls' demise, but Fellowes is dead so he isn't particularly interested. Someone or something broke into Fellowes' sealed office and carbonized the superintendent's torso, ripping him in two.
Carbonized prison superintendents are right up Mulder and Scully's alley, so the agents haul themselves to Mississippi to investigate the charred-yet-suprisingly-unbloody corpse of Raybert Fellowes. Scully is dumbfounded -- Fellowes' wound looks like a localized burn caused by industrial-strength acid, but no acid was found in Fellowes' office. Additionally, Fellowes didn't make recent trips to either Taco Bell or the Waffle House so a case of Extreme Intestinal Fissure is also out of the question. Faced with this diagnosis dilemma, Scully suggests "spontaneous human combustion" as a possible explanation. Scully's use of an extreme possibility prompts an uncontrollable smart-assed response from her partner. "Dear diary," Mulder says, "today my heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested 'spontaneous human combustion.'" It's taken six years, but Scully counters by saying, "Mulder, shut up!"
In an unusual twist, Mulder doesn't have a theory on how Fellowes died. Faced with a lack of intuition, the agents travel to the prison farm where the head guard believes Pinker Rawls is the culprit. Even though Rawls was locked in a box that was sucked into a tornado, the cunning inmate found a way to infiltrate Fellowes' sealed office and murder the prison superintendent. Dismissing the guard's conclusion, Scully continues to develop her spontaneous human combustion theory, adding that in the few documented cases of human explosion, climactic events seemed to play a role. The same could be true here given the twister that was spinning through the area. Mulder half-listens to Scully as he traverses the perimeter of Fellowes' office, knocking on walls. Stopping in back of Fellowes' desk he finds a weak spot. His finger easily pushes through the brittle wall and a second push with his palm propels a big chunk of the structure outside. Something funky is most definitely afoot.
Mulder and Scully rifle through Rawls' personal effects and read through his file. Before being blessed with super-human tornado powers, Rawls was serving a 30-year sentence for nabbing $90,000 from a St. Louis wire office. Incidentally, the money was never recovered. Amidst prophylactics and assorted knick-knacks, Mulder finds a picture of Rawls and a woman who could be Tonya Harding's twin. Using this information, Mulder and Scully flip to page 124 of the "FBI Escaped Convict Playbook." It reads: "In the event of a prison escape, investigators must always, ALWAYS, find and interview girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses or significant others of the escapee." For the first time in series history, Mulder and Scully are going to follow protocol.
Finding the girlfriend is going to be harder than flipping through the Yellow Pages and looking under "Girlfriends, ex." June Gurwitch has changed her name and shed her double-wide lifestyle. Using the name June Burdett, she now lives in a nice neighborhood with a non-violent, bald-headed boyfriend named Robert Werther. As we all know, denying your former existence and settling with a guy named Robert Werther will inevitably lead to bad things.
Those bad things begin when Pinker Rawls officially announces that rumors of his death have been greatly exaggerated. Rawls breaks into a local Val-U-Mart where he grabs himself a nice pair of tube socks and some cheap sneakers. Bobby, a dedicated security guard, apprehends Rawls, handcuffing him to a metal pole while calling for backup. With Bobby's back turned, Rawls works his magic, shedding the handcuffs and darting outside. Rawls beeps the horn and waves as he drives off in Bobby's security car. Mulder and Scully arrive shortly thereafter and Mulder discovers how Rawls escaped. Grasping Bobby's metal handcuffs, he snaps the cuffs in two. Rawls changed the composition of the cuffs, making them as brittle as a Wheat Thin.
Rawls' search for Gurwitch begins at his former residence -- a run-down house heavily influenced by the mid-seventies "Deliverance" Movement in architecture. The current resident is a buddy of Rawls' named Bo Merkle. The two men spend a few seconds reminiscing on old times, but Merkle grows tired of the chit-chat and unloads a full gun-clip into Rawls' chest. Unfazed by Merkle's feeble bullets, Rawls reaches out and burns a big, carbon hole in Merkle's head.
Mulder and Scully arrive the next morning to find Merkle sans face. While investigating the rest of the house, Mulder finds remnants of Merkle's bullets buried in a wall. The composition of the bullets has been changed, which ignites Mulder's X-files brain and allows him to compose a theory: The tornado and the storm's extreme climactic conditions blessed Rawls with an electrical ability that lets him alter the composition of objects. With this ability he can walk through walls, slip out of handcuffs and watch as bullets whiz right through his chest. Scully thinks Mulder's theory is a load of hooey, but the agents show remarkable communication skills and agree to disagree. Both understand that their main concern is finding June Gurwitch before Rawls.
Since Gurwitch changed her name the only way to track her is through her sister Jackie. Remarkably, Rawls gets to Jackie before Mulder and Scully and its in Jackie's modest home we discover that Rawls' wall-walking abilities require him to be butt-naked. Rawls' attempt to gather information from Jackie is thwarted when Mulder and Scully arrive. Walking down a hallway, the agents find a message scrawled on the door of Jackie's bedroom. It reads, "I Want What's Mine." Inside the bedroom, Jackie sits, unharmed but overwhelmed by what she's just seen. If a naked convict suddenly appeared in your bedroom, you'd be overwhelmed too.
In her rattled condition, Jackie gives Scully Gurwitch's address. The agents leave the local investigation to the police department while they saddle-up for a trip to visit June "formerly Gurwitch" Burdett. Little do they know that Rawls is hiding in the trunk of their sedan, tagging along to visit his ex-girlfriend.
At 6:12 a.m., Mulder and Scully pay an early-morning visit to June Burdett and Robert Werther. The group settles in Berdett's living room for a spilling-of-the-guts. Gurwitch admits to illegally using the stolen $90,000 to start a new life. Somehow she forgot to tell Werther about her old life, so he's rightfully peeved when he hears about her past existence. Since Rawls is hell-bent on finding Gurwitch, Mulder and Scully suggest that both Gurwitch and Werther be placed under 24-hour guard. Werther refuses -- he doesn't want to be hauled into a safe house because his smarmy girlfriend used to date a convict. Faced with this logic, Mulder and Scully let the angry bald man stomp off.
As Mulder and Scully prepare to transport Gurwitch to the safe house, Mulder notices that the trunk of their sedan is brittle. Realizing they've brought Rawls right where he wanted to go, the agents turn Gurwitch over to local police officers then storm Gurwitch's house. On a wall in the living room they find Rawls' favorite phrase scrawled over the wallpaper, "I Want What's Mine." Just as in Jackie's house, Rawls wrote this masterpiece with his finger but this time he's provided a clue. Mulder sees that the writing abruptly stops at a mirror, suggesting Rawls can't pass through materials that are poor conductors of electricity. Glass and rubber are Rawls' Kryptonite.
Even with Rawls' weakness exposed, something still doesn't jive. Why would a guy who can walk through walls exert this much effort over $90,0000? If he really wanted the dough he could walk into a vault, grab the loot and run off. With this question burning in her mind, Scully looks through old files and discovers that Gurwitch had a baby in 1992, a few months after Rawls was incarcerated. The agents realize that Rawls isn't after money, he's looking for his kid.
Unfortunately, the agents make these connections just as Rawls is sneaking through the ceiling of Gurwitch's safe house. Rawls overpowers a police officer, hacking the officer's arm off in the process. He grabs Gurwitch, steals a station wagon and drives to a remote highway. In a teary roadside testimonial, Gurwitch admits to having Rawls' child -- a boy named Trevor Andrew. Rawls, his chin thrust inordinately high, declares that God wants him to find his son -- that's why He (capital "H") has given him this power. A horrified look crosses Gurwitch's face as she realizes that Rawls is more than a violent wacko, he's a violent religious wacko. Thankfully, Rawls forgot the Orange Kool-Aid so Gurwitch is spared from a reenactment of Jonestown.
Meanwhile, the agents are busy manning the phones and preparing for battle. Mulder loads up on rubber bullets, anticipating a showdown with Rawls while Scully calls state agencies looking for records on Gurwitch's child. With no adoption records in existence the agents determine that the child is living with a family member. Suddenly, Scully's gaze intensifies as she remembers that Gurwitch's sister Jackie has a young son. Coincidence? I think not.
Later that evening, Rawls and Gurwitch pay a dinner-time visit to Jackie and her young son Trevor. Seeing the boy sitting at the kitchen table, Rawls gets weepy and thanks Jackie for taking care of him. The wide-eyed boy is scared out of his wits and he looks to his "Ant June" for help. When Gurwitch replies, Rawls grabs his ex-girlfriend, tosses her in a nearby pantry and locks the door. So much for the gentle father routine.
With Gurwitch locked amidst soup-cans and rotting potatoes, Rawls sits down at the dinner table to talk with his son. Before he can fulfill his fatherly duty of explaining "what happens when a man and a woman really love one another," Jackie tosses a boiling pot of soup at Rawls' face. The liquid goes clear through Rawls and splashes against a nearby window. Seeing that hot soup is a lame weapon, Jackie flips the pot over and smacks Rawls across the face. Unexplainably, the pot does damage, which suggests it doesn't conduct electricity well. Rawls and the rest of the cast ignore this oversight and the scene continues as Rawls grabs Jackie and knocks her unconscious. In the melee, Trevor runs outside.
The boy sprints to the edge of the dark backyard, nearly running into Mulder and Scully. Rawls rushes into the yard, chasing after Trevor, but Mulder steps in his path, aiming a shotgun at Rawls' chest. Thinking Mulder is packing some of those weenie "real" bullets, Rawls advances, but Mulder nails him with three rubber bullets. The convict disappears through a nearby wall, his clothes falling to the ground. Mulder darts inside the house in pursuit as Scully and Trevor run for the agents' sedan.
Rawls, doing his naked hide-and-seek routine, doubles back and finds Scully and Trevor outside. As he slowly approaches, the quick-thinking Scully rushes to a glass phone booth (the kind Clark Kent prefers) and barricades herself and the boy inside. Rawls beats at the glass, calling out Trevor's name as he tries to break in. Unable to utilize his powers, he turns to a more conventional method of slamming a big rock against the glass. He violently busts through, but as he stares into the booth he sees his terrified son quaking behind Scully. Rawls becomes somber. He turns and quietly walks into the nearby road. As he pensively looks into the darkness, headlight beams illuminate the left side of his face. A station wagon speeds at him. Gurwitch rams the vehicle into Rawls -- the hood passes through the man but the windshield smacks him into eternal slumber.
Gurwitch stops the car as Mulder joins Scully outside the phone booth. Scully shields Trevor from the carnage and walks him toward the house. Mulder approaches the station wagon and finds Gurwitch staring ahead. Through the open side window, Gurwitch wonders why Rawls wanted the boy. Drawing a connection to Gurwitch's own past, Mulder says, "Maybe another chance." Realizing she may have just made a very big mistake, Gurwitch collapses behind the wheel in a flood of tears. Mulder looks down the road, thankful he doesn't work for the local highway department.
And that's it -- a lovely little tale of naked wall-walking prisoners, dysfunctional families and the ultimate search for redemption.
Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.