Destination: St. Paul
Only The X-Files could make an episode about a psychic killer killing psychics and make it funny.
Mulder and Scully barely hold their own against Mr. Bruckman, a real psychic who can foretell people’s deaths. Not coincidentally, he sells life insurance. This is the only way that he feels he can intervene positively in people’s deaths. Peter Boyle owns this episode as Mr. Bruckman. He nails the crusty, world-worn personality that would develop in a ‘normal’, intelligent man who can see the future but can’t predict winning lottery numbers. Mr. Bruckman knows he has a gift but just wishes that people would leave him alone. It’s not a gift that he wants or thinks anyone else would want even though we can see that Mulder is fascinated and jealous. I think mostly because of Mulder’s fascination, Bruckman isn’t above messing with both Mulder and Scully and we often can’t tell when he only sees partialities and when he just doesn’t share all that he knows.
The humour in this episode comes from many places, most of them very clever and subtle. Boyle as Bruckman is perfectly deadpan and has all the great lines. Mulder (and possibly Duchovny) is sent up in various ways. First, when Detective Cline is talking about asking for a kook to help them out, we expect that, of course, they are talking about Mulder, but as Mulder makes his entrance the detective asks “Who are you?” Then the Stupendous Yappi sends him out of the room for creating “negative energy”. My favourite bit is when Bruckman mentions dying by autoerotic asphyxiation in relation to Mulder and then just basically says - oh never mind. All I could think about was Duchovny’s work in Californication and his reported sex addiction. The Stupendous Yappi is hilarious as well with his over the top ‘predictions’. It is interesting that the ‘real’ psychics are portrayed as much more serious, normal-looking people than the fakes.
On the serious side, this episode explores what it might mean to really be able to foretell the future. Could you interfere? Would it be a moral obligation to do so or would it actually be more responsible to sit by and watch terrible things happen? I think that Bruckman has pondered these questions for a long time. Is the psychic killer just a puppet or is he actually a homicidal maniac? The most interesting questions come up when Bruckman tells Mulder about how he will be stalked by the killer. He foresees Mulder’s death but intervenes by telling him about it. The psychic killer says as he is dying that things were not happening as they were supposed to although the tarot card that predicts the card reader’s death was also obviously meant for the killer as well. I wondered if Bruckman lied to the killer when he said that he wasn’t meant to kill him then. And if he did was it only to make sure that his neighbour was found before she was totally defiled by her dog? Did he then kill himself to restore balance? The X-Files makes us think about such things and is one of the main reasons I love it.
The Stupendous Yappi was played by Japp Broeker. He was usually David Duchovny’s stand in.
Bruckman knows exactly where the bathroom is in the doll collector’s house.
It was heartbreaking at the end when you realize that Bruckman saw the way he would die and it sounded quite beautiful but it wasn’t at all.
I also found the juxtaposition of the decaying body and the red tulips beautiful, if also creepy and weird.
I must join the 'treat Scully with respect' rant that for me and others on the blog is part of being a woman and watching this show. Women’s intuition my ass. Excellent observational and analytical skills is how Scully figured out that the bell hop was the killer.
The sketch from Laurel and Hardy was a nice call back to the skeleton piece. I actually thought for a moment that Scully might call Yappi but was much relieved when she threw the phone at the screen instead.
Killer: "Don’t apologize. You’re a better dancer than my last date."
Killer: "And I’m sorry but you’re a fortune teller. You should have seen this coming.”
Police Photographer: "They say the eyes capture the last image a murder victim sees before they’re killed."
Detective Cline: "So what do they say about the entrails?"
Police Photographer: “Yuck.”
Scully: “I can’t take you anywhere.”
Mulder: “Mr. Yappi, read this thought.”
Yappi: “So’s your old man.”
Bruckman: “I’m supposed to believe that’s a real name?”
Bruckman: “Sometimes it just seems that everyone’s having sex except me.”
Mulder: “Do you receive any other impressions of it?”
Bruckman: “It’s ugly. Next.”
Bruckman: “I’m not smiling. I’m wincing.”
Scully: “We can’t come up with suspects by having visions.”
Scully: “Mr. Bruckman, there are hits and there are misses and then there are misses.”
Scully: “Chantilly lace?”
Mulder: “You know what I like."
Bruckman: “Don’t you understand yet, son? Don’t you get it? You do the things you do because you are a homicidal maniac.”
Psychic Killer: “That does explain a lot, doesn’t it?”