Tag Archives: Hellbound

Audrey Pauley 9×13: You’re not giving up, are you?


“Audrey Pauley” is one of the few Season 9 episodes that I have a distinct memory of. Okay, wait. It’s one of the few Season 9 episodes that I have a distinct memory of liking.

Steven Maeda seems to have a knack for writing for Doggett and Reyes. He gave us “4-D” (9×5) earlier this season, which I also thought was sci-fi of the less paranormal sort that seemed to suit our new leads just fine. It also showed us a deep connection between these two characters, heavily iced with flirting, that made their partnership that much more interesting to watch.

He’s done it again here, with a case that carries a lot of real world weight and some intense flirting. Whoa, Reyes. Why not just invite yourself in? It would take fewer words.

But the really real truth is that Reyes is at her best as a character when she’s playing off of Doggett. As I discussed ad nauseam in the review for “Hellbound” (9×4), she isn’t given much by way of her own backstory or personal motivation outside of her history with Doggett and desire to help him.

That said, what we finally see in her character for the first time in this episode is that she’s actually a decent investigator. She solves this mystery. She doesn’t get away with feeling her way to the truth.

Doggett also solves the case on his end and he does it without having to turn into a believer like Mulder or Reyes. Doggett’s just a guy who refuses to give up on his loved one and turns every stone over looking for a miracle or at least a way to help her. There’s nothing about his response to the situation that requires him to suddenly wholeheartedly believe in the paranormal. But he’s emotional and vulnerable and desperate, which makes him open to the truth when he hears it from Audrey Pauley. He doesn’t have to completely understand or make sense of it, but he knows something’s up and that’s enough for him to hold on.

Yep. The characterization is strong with this one.

The plot, though…

The concept is memorable, I will say that. There’s something truly frightening about the idea of seeing a loved one brain dead or in a coma or vegetative state. It’s almost worse than outright death in that you don’t know whether or not they’re suffering and the weight of the responsibility for their welfare is a heavy one. This isn’t just a nightmare for Reyes, it’s a nightmare for Doggett who wants to do right by Reyes and is horrified at the fear that in listening to the doctors he might actually be doing her harm.

And again, I think theoretical or reality based stories like this are the best vehicles for Reyes and Doggett. But again, the script feels a little rushed. Or maybe there wasn’t enough time to sharpen the more obscure edges of the plot and emphasize Doggett and Reyes’ budding romance.

Audrey Pauley is a simple-minded woman who is also a savant of some kind since she can build an exact scale replica of the hospital she lives and works at. Audrey has a quiet corner of her mind where she likes to go that looks an awful lot like the hospital dollhouse that looks an awful lot like the hospital itself. One day, brain dead patients started taking refuge in Audrey’s mind and she didn’t know how to get their souls out of her mental dollhouse and back to their bodies. But then, she was killed by a villainous doctor and Reyes, who had been brain dead, was able to jump out of Audrey’s mind and back into her own body.

Say what now?

Issues of accuracy in the depiction of brain death and organ transplantation aside, how and why did Audrey manage to trap these people’s souls in her own mind? And I’m still not sure I understand why if Reyes had jumped into the abyss while Audrey was still alive she would have died, but once Audrey was dying/dead she jumped and lived. Audrey was both keeping them alive and somehow keeping them from living again?

On top of that, while I really enjoyed the villainous doctor, why was he a villain? Was it just that he wanted to harvest organs for transplant? From what little I know, the doctors (always plural) in charge of declaring a patient brain dead are never those involved in donation and transplantation; it’s a conflict of interest. But for the sake of argument, he thought these patients would die anyway so he wanted to speed up the process of their death in order to save others instead? If so, why did he choose Reyes who wasn’t severely injured? Was there money changing hands somewhere for these organs?

I don’t know, but it seems to me he’s just a sadist. He kills with too much aplomb to be anything else. Maybe he just gets a thrill out of secretly killing helpless people.

Either way, that’s not nearly as important as receiving confirmation that Doggett’s over his Scully crush. Good riddance.

Verdict:

When this first aired, I remember being more than a tad resentful that a story like this wasn’t used for Mulder and Scully in lackluster Season 7. I knew the 1013 writing staff had it in them. Where had all the cowboys gone?

But even as much as I enjoy this one, it’s a sad reminder that the Doggett and Reyes’ relationship is moving fast for a reason. It’s time to wrap this show up and we’ll never know whether truly memorable television could have been made out of this partnership. I still say they had potential, perhaps not for magic, but for something interesting to watch. They have a real connection in their scenes together, not that I’m sold on a second romance in the basement office. It’s getting a little hot and heavy down there.

B+

P.S. If someone knows of a fanfic that substitutes Mulder and Scully for Doggett and Reyes in this ep, holla at your girl.

Valley of the Dollhouse:

That electrical death looks awfully painful. God forbid taking someone off of life support would result in such a thing.

The actress who plays Audrey Pauley, Tracey Ellis, also starred in “Oubliette” (3×8).

It’s Will’s mom from The Fresh Prince!

Dr. Scully’s reaction to Reyes waking up from brain death is awfully subdued. A few misdiagnoses aside, such a thing has never happened. Reyes’ brain should be studied for science.

Total resurrection is another story, however.

If they were going to harvest Reyes’ heart, they wouldn’t take her off life support. They’d want her heart beating when they performed the procedure. You know, in case you were planning to perform a transplant yourself.

The doctor stayed in the room with Audrey after he killed her for far too long.

Best Quotes:

Reyes: So, big plans for the weekend?
Doggett: Oh, huge. Microwave pizza, satellite TV.
Reyes: Wow. Thanks for making my life sound exciting. Maybe we both need pets. They say people with pets live longer.
Doggett: I was thinking about getting a cat.
Reyes: There’s dog people and there’s cat people. You are a dog person, John.
Doggett: How do you figure?
Reyes: You’re faithful, you’re dependable, you’re without guile, you’re very comfortable to be around. So why a cat?
Doggett: Low maintenance. They don’t expect much from you, so you can’t disappoint ’em.
Reyes: I don’t see you ever disappointing anyone, John.

Hellbound 9×4: I just know I need to solve this.


 

Screenshot03

Can you imagine how uncomfortable this must have been?

“Hellbound” is The X-Files’ third take on the subject of reincarnation after “Born Again” (1×21) and “The Field Where I Died” (4×5). Out of the three episodes, this is definitely the best. I still don’t think it’s great, however.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate what’s here, it’s what’s not here that leaves me feeling mildly disappointed. I know nothing more about Agent Monica Reyes at the end of the episode than when I first started this little showcase piece for her character. I know nothing more about her personality or her personal motivations.

All I know is that her reincarnated soul has been unsuccessfully chasing the same bad guy since the 1800s. Or rather, she chased the original bad guys and then the bad guy that they created through their evil actions. I don’t know what about these crimes in particular so compels her soul. Is it the unusual level of violence that troubles her? Does she have some kind of relationship with the perpetrators? Does she just have a strong, motivating sense of justice? If she does, I’d like to know.

I know that she feels things, but I already knew that. Other than telling her that there’s something fishy going on, do these feelings of hers ever actually solve cases? Because right now these “feelings” she gets in the presence of evil don’t have a great track record when it comes to being useful. Nothing was resolved in either “Empedolces” (8×17) or “Daemonicus” (9×3) and she barely makes a dent in the evil here.

What I don’t know is why she’s on the X-Files. I mean, yes, I know she’s there because Doggett needed an ally and he trusts her both personally and professionally. But her history with Doggett tells me a lot more about Doggett than it does about her.

And I know that her expertise is Religious Studies and that she investigated crimes with a seeming Satanic bent. That sure sounds like it makes her a good fit for the basement office. But I also know that by her own admission, she’s never seen evidence of real Satanic activity. Then why is she so interested in the X-Files? Why is it her “dream job” according to her conversation with Follmer in “Nothing Important Happened Today” (9×1)? Is she here because she’s looking to find evidence of real activity? Is she here because she does or doesn’t believe in Satan?

And further back, what brought Reyes to Religious Studies in the first place? Ironically, thanks to the Doggett-centric “John Doe” (9×7), I know she was raised in Mexico, a predominately catholic country. Did she study religion because she was a good catholic girl? Because she wasn’t a good catholic girl? How did she end up so new agey?

I’d like to know Monica Reyes, please.

Her character started off with real potential and I still like her well enough. But she’s quickly turning into a stock believer. Mulder believed because of certain experiences, certain information, and certain hypnosis sessions. He believed because he needed to. Am I to take it that Reyes believes solely because she feels things??? That’s a character cop out, 1013.

There was a lot of room for exploration in this episode for themes of sin and redemption, destiny and freewill… in other words, plenty of chances to get inside Reyes’ head and figure out what makes her tick, what motivates her, and what she thinks her purpose in life is or if she’s still trying to find one. Maybe she’s unsure of the state of her own soul and that’s why this case is so important to her.. Heck, maybe she’s on the X-Files because she wants to understand the nature of evil. How about that?

In an odd twist, I personally enjoy this episode more than Doggett’s “John Doe”, but coming straight off of that episode into this one highlights its weaknesses in the character development department.

In both episodes, our two new leads set out to discover their individual identities. Doggett has his memories taken from him and, by sheer force of will, takes back what belongs to him, pain and all. His display of character and integrity even when he’s been stripped to nothing tells us a lot about who he is as a person.

Reyes, on the other hand, finds out she had an identity she didn’t know existed. That knowledge doesn’t shock her, scare her, inspire her, drive her… she comes to a conclusion about the events of the case and then the end. The events have no bearing on the rest of her life and reveal no new side of her. I can only guess that at some point she wonders if she committed a great sin in a past life, but if she does, we don’t see any signs of an internal conflict.

Verdict:

All right. I know I’ve belabored the point. It’s just that in retrospect, I know this is Reyes’ one chance to distinguish herself as a character and I’m disappointed on her behalf.

Reyes: Whoever I was, I failed. In 1868, in 1909, in 1960… I failed. I was always there, but I couldn’t stop the killings. And he knew that. And somehow he knows my deepest fear: that I’ll fail.

I guess this is the closest I’ll come to the answers I’m looking for. Perhaps Reyes is sensitive to evil in all its forms because she’s spiritually connected to a particular evil. Perhaps her regret and fear of failure drive her forward in the pursuit of defeating evil. Perhaps?

The X-File itself is okay. Actually, I think the premise had real promise. A group of men bound together in hell, which is spiritual and physical death on repeat, want to be redeemed but aren’t allowed to be. As mentioned earlier, the themes are ripe for the plucking.

Instead, I went searching for depth and all I got was this lousy T-shirt:

Everything you ever wanted to know about skinning people but were afraid to ask.

But while it’s a unique form of death even for The X-Files and I can tell the crew worked hard, it must be said that the makeup is less gross than shocking in its completeness. And it looks like a special effects job the whole time.

B-

Comment:

I like the short scene between Scully and Dr. Mueller. It reminds me of other times Mulder and Scully consulted a retired detective about an old case. “Squeeze” (1×2), “Tooms” (1×20), “Travelers” (5×15)… There are more, I’m just too sleepy to remember them.

Question:

Reyes was able to save one soul, but the killer continues into the next life with the other victims. Is that enough to break the cycle? Reyes doesn’t need to follow him in death? I guess one of our leads killing themselves would put a damper on the show, huh?

Best Quotes:

Scully: My name is Dana Scully. I’m with the FBI. I want to ask you some questions about a John Doe you did an autopsy on in 1960.
Dr. Mueller: You honestly expect me to recall some case from way back when? I’m 84 years old.
Scully: Sir, this particular victim was skinned alive.

———————-

Dr. Mueller: The victim was a John Doe, a nobody. Carl Hobart, the county sheriff, figured he was a drifter. Hobart said he didn’t want to stir up the community.
Scully: And no one called him on that?
Dr. Mueller: I tried. The sheriff had other things on his mind, I suppose.
Scully: Why do you say that?
Dr. Mueller: Well, it wasn’t long after that he put a bullet through his head.