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Piper Maru (Part 1 of 2)

A French diver strapped into a funky "Lost in Space" diving suit is lowered to the bottom of the murky Pacific. He's in search of a downed World War II airplane and by golly, he finds it. But there's more than just a plane down there. The diver pushes through the cloudy depths and comes upon the airplane's cockpit where a man bangs on the inside of the plane, desperate to escape. The man's frantic poundings aren't the result of some 50-year-old spasm. Oh no, he's under alien control.

When Frenchie the diver breeches the surface his shipmates are all sorts of worried about him. While he was frolicking with an alien-possessed WWII pilot his communication with the ship was severed and the crew thought he was a goner. As they lift him out of his suit they notice an odd, oily substance covering his gear and the diver's eyes are obscured by a black liquid. Any good X--files fan would know he's now an alien plaything, but the French are notorious for not paying attention to American television so the crew has no idea what's going on.

Back in lovely Washington, D.C. Scully is summoned to Skinner's office where she's told that the FBI is abandoning the search for Melissa Scully's murderer. It's been five months and nothing has turned up. Scully looks Skinner straight in the eye and launches into a well-argued tirade about how easily the FBI can recreate crime scenes and determine that criminals were bedwetters, but somehow they can't find a thing on Melissa's killer. Skinner doesn't have anything to say, so he does the smart thing and keeps his trap shut.

Scully storms to the basement where Mulder is deep in thought. She's visibly upset but Mulder doesn't understand emotion so he disregards her crinkled chin. Instead he informs her of the strange goings-on aboard the French salvage ship Piper Maru. The crew docked in Los Angeles and they brought with them a host of nasty radiation burns. This alone would be cause for alarm, but Mulder is more interested in the ship's original destination. Rumor has it that the Piper Maru was hanging out at a deep water UFO crash site. Mulder's Alien Radar goes off and within an hour he and Scully are headed for the West coast.

The French crew, what's left of it at least, is being treated at a San Diego hospital. Most of the crew are goners, suffering from deep burns, but one crew member arrived without a scratch. That resilient, radiation-deflecting crew member is named Gauthier and he's the same guy who dove to the ocean's bottom and found the WWII fighter plane. Could it be mere coincidence that he's the only survivor? Of course not.

Gauthier arrives at his San Francisco home where he ransacks the place, looking for an important letter. Just as he finds a piece of mail from the J. Kallenchuk Salvage Brokers, Gauthier's wife arrives and runs into his arms. Gauthier doesn't recognize his fair bride, but he's under alien control so this is understandable (Note: Husbands should not resort to an alien-control defense when questioned by their wives. This only works on The X-files). Gauthier's face is molded into a psycho's grimace, so Jane runs for the front door. She's met there by her oily husband who's desperate to play another round of Pass The Alien. Jane emerges from her home with an otherworldly glow and nasty black goo in her eyes.

While Gauthier transfers an alien being to his wife, Mulder and Scully investigate the Piper Maru. Weirdness is in the air for as soon as they arrive they're met by a HAZMAT team that hasn't found a trace of radiation. Armed with abnormally large FBI-issue flashlights, the agents take a trip below-decks. Mulder stumbles upon Gauthier's diving suit and notices the weird black goo covering the equipment. Scully, meanwhile, finds a map on the bridge that's marked with the words "Zeus Faber." Clues are coming together, but we're only a quarter of the way into the show so we still have no idea what's going on.

Mulder watches out a videotape from Gauthier's last diving mission and just before the screen turns to static he sees the fuselage of an airplane. Scully identifies the plane as a North American P-51 Mustang. Mulder looks at her with a new-found admiration, but Scully tosses this aside and says she knows someone who can give them more information about the plane and its cargo.

Scully, who spent time in San Diego as a child, drives to the Miramar Naval Base where she meets with Commander Christopher Johansen. Johansen served with her father and he spent a significant amount of time in the waters where the downed fighter was found. At first Johansen claims to suffer from memory loss, but he experiences a remarkable recovery and mumbles cryptic things about burying the dead alive. Amidst his Yoda-speak, Scully learns that the P-51 Mustang the French salvage team stumbled upon was an escort for a WWII bomber that was carrying a nuclear weapon. Scully thinks she has the mystery figured out, but Johnsen tells her a story that puts a big dent in her missing nuke theory.

In a flashback, Johnsen describes a particularly perilous mission he was part of as an officer aboard the US submarine Zeus Faber. After the nuke-carrying bomber crashed, the Zeus Faber was dispatched to recover the downed nuke. It was a dangerous mission, but things got a whole lot worse when members of the crew developed radiation burns. Nonetheless, the Captain continued on his mission. As the ship's crew whispered mutiny, Johnsen seized control, locked the captain in with the radiation victims and took the submarine back to port. Before locking the captain away, Johnsen noticed a black liquid swimming in the Captain's eyes.

While Scully interviews Johnsen, Mulder visits the residence of Gauthier. Inside he finds a disheveled apartment and an ailing frenchman. Gauthier is laid-out in the kitchen, covered in a black goo and suffering from an alien hangover. The last thing he recalls is finding the downed plane; the trip back to port and his arrival home are missing from his memory. Mulder discovers the salvage order Gauthier had been searching for and attempts to question the sickly Frenchman, but Gauthier slips into full-denial mode. Remarkably, Mulder resists the urge to plant a bullet in the Vichy bastard's skull.

With few leads to go on, Mulder visits the offices of J. Kallenchuk Salvage Brokers, hoping to learn why they're so interested in UFO crash sites. Mulder is met by Geraldine, an uncooperative woman who gives him no information. He leaves the office, but minutes later he tails Geraldine to the airport where she buys a ticket to Hong Kong. Mulder, who always has an overnight bag at the ready, hops a flight to the Orient.

Mulder catches up with Geraldine in Hong Kong and greets his new friend by slapping a handcuff around her wrist. Mulder knows that Geraldine -- Jerry to her friends -- is working for some very bad people who are doing very bad things. Jerry takes Mulder to her company's Hong Kong offices so he can learn more, but the visit is interrupted by a gun-toting Alex Krycek. Ratboy has been selling secrets gleaned from a top-secret Department of Defense tape and Jerry is his current highest bidder (see Anasazi, The Blessing Way and Paper Clip for more on the digital tape). Before Mulder can rip Krycek's spine out of his back a platoon of French secret agents storm the building. Somehow, Geraldine ends up on the other side of the office door, outside of the office. Shots ring out and Jerry falls to the floor. Krycek jumps out a window and Mulder follows. As the French agents storm the offices, Joan (the oilien-infected wife of the French diver) walks into the scene and fills the hallway with a white-hot supernova.The Frenchie spooks fall to the floor suffering from a terminal case of death.

While Mulder pursues Krycek and Scully interviews Naval types, Skinner takes some time to eat at a D.C. tavern. His meal is interrupted by three government-types in trench coats who tell the Assistant Director that his continued pursuit of Melissa Scully's killer won't do anybody any good. Skinner isn't impressed, but he leaves because he's suddenly lost his appetite. At dinner time Skinner tries to once again eat in peace, but while he's there a patron harasses a waitress about a broken phone. When Skinner steps in to offer his assistance, the man spins around and fires a bullet into Skinner's belly. The bandit runs away, but he looks a hell of a lot like Melissa Scully's killer.

Back in the Far East, Mulder finds Krycek at the airport. He greets him with a some good-natured blows to the head and a death threat. Mulder knows Krycek is using the digital tape to sell secrets and Mulder really, really wants to know those secrets. Krycek claims that the tape is hidden in a locker in D.C., so it's back to the states they go. Before embarking on the long trip, Krycek uses the bathroom, where he's met by the effervescent Joan. As he walks out, Krycek shows off his newly acquired oily-alien glow.

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

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