The X-Files: Underneath   Rewatch 
September 8, 2020 7:18 PM - Season 9, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Robert Fassl, a serial killer whom Doggett caught at the scene of a triple murder in his NYPD beat cop days in 1989, is released after fresh DNA evidence exonerates him. Doggett is convinced Fassl is guilty and his and Scully's and Reyes' further investigation of the evidence reveals truths he finds hard to accept.
posted by orange swan (3 comments total)
In this one we have a killer who is in such an extreme denial regarding his murderous impulses that he acquires what amounts to a second personality whom he is convinced is a separate person who abuses and controls him. People with multiple personality disorder have been known to exhibit physical differences such as allergies, right-or-left handedness, the need for eyeglass prescriptions, even eye colour, so I suppose this premise is a kind of supernatural form of that. It's not a bad premise, even if the execution it got was kind of meh.

I can't help but feel that if Fassl's prison had had adequate mental health care his condition, which is essentially a type of multiple personality disorder, could have been diagnoses and addressed.

It was ridiculous of Jana Fain to take Robert Fassl home with her. Yes, she's a do-gooder, and she has good reason to believe that her client is an innocent man. But he's been in prison for 13 years and from what I understand ex-cons find the return to ordinary life and society a very difficult adjustment. And she's a criminal defense lawyer. She can't be that trusting and naive -- the ones I've known certainly weren't. It would have been so much better for both of them (not to mention her poor housekeeper Mrs. Dowdy) if she'd rented and furnished some sort of inexpensive apartment for him where he can have the space and privacy he needs to adjust. Her behaviour reminds me of those idiots who think saying "because you wouldn't want to take refugees into your own home, right?" is such a gotcha argument against countries taking in refugees. No, I wouldn't want to, and it is completely unnecessary for me to want to in order to support sheltering refugees, because it's a terrible idea for all concerned. Doing good requires sensible limits, not wholesale self-sacrifice.

Also silly: that Fassl's hiding place for all the bodies was so very close to Jana Fain's residence.

It was very, very in character for Doggett to be so upset by the prospect that he might have helped put an innocent man in prison/can't trust the evidence of his own eyes.

Mrs. Dowdy is a hilarious name for a housekeeper, by the way.
posted by orange swan at 12:21 PM on September 9, 2020

Nice makeup without it looking too pancake-y to take 10 years off of Patrick's face for young(er) Doggett.

Good on Doggett to admit that he's made a lot of mistakes, pause to introspect, and respectfully respond - but ouch Scully. Scully challenging Doggett does a lot of character building for him though. Questioning the fallibility of his abilities for observation must be devastating.

Never realized that part of the appeal of the Doggett character is how well he listens to people around him, but being a good listener is certainly a subset of being good at observation.

There was a kind of similar situation except with many witnesses in Canada where the killer was found to be "not criminally responsible" and was incarcerated (and treated) in a mental health institution for 6 years and released.

I know that quality of forensics work (especially in the 80's) in the US were... uneven. Sometimes horribly so, but its rather implausible that such an open/ shut case settled 13 years ago gets reopened and the DNA re-examined.

alt-Fassl apparently did get him some violence during those 13 years. Decent bit of plotting. Also a little reminiscent of the police station security cam footage of Arnold's T-101 in 'The Terminator's.

Fain is established as having inherited wealth; sometimes when combined with wanting to be/ thinking of oneself as a "do gooder" big blind spots can develop. This could be an example of "lawful good" (and a bunch of self-righteousness) and the resultant ills of that ethos.

such a gotcha argument against

Yuck, I hate those with a passion. It implies to me simple mindedness and a lack of nuance. And usually just straight up prejudice.

That Scully mentioned "13 key genes" is almost there. There are 13 regions of the human genome that forensic DNA identification targets using VNTR typing, but they're not genes. Properly, they're referred to as markers. A 12/13 match is remarkable and could suggest severe inbreeding or a funny chimerism in an individual. So, not bad, writers but then you screw it all up with the planted evidence thing. Also, this has nothing to do with mitochondrial DNA, which is a completely different assay.

We all know who'd win in a fight between Mulder and Doggett. What are the odds on Scully v Reyes?

Reyes has the height/reach and weight on Scully but she's a klutz and combat doesn't seem like a strong suit, although that was a good shot. Scully now has access to Mom Rage.
posted by porpoise at 6:45 PM on September 10, 2020

I don't think we ever seen Reyes in a fight scene, so who knows what her level of skill is. If she has had the same level of combat training as Scully, she would win because she's so much bigger and stronger.
posted by orange swan at 6:37 PM on September 13, 2020

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