Our story begins with Lauren Kite cleaning up the office of her boss, the recently dead-by-suicide Howard Graves and being attacked by extremist terrorists at an ATM machine. Thankfully, someone or something is watching out for her seeing as a mysterious force is not content watching her to tidy up an office or die. Thus, the unknown force helpfully kills the terrorists and moves a motivational plaque, two very menial tasks.
Helpful as this force may have been, the end result is that we have two dead terrorists and one moved motivational plaque. This piques the interest of some CIA operatives who bring Mulder and Scully in to consult on the fact that the victims’ esophagi were crushed with no external evidence. Being as this is a very sensitive/top-secret case, the CIA agents professionally give Mulder and Scully the silent treatment when they ask any questions.
Not a profession for those uncomfortable with awkward silences
However, Mulder isn’t about to let a potential psychokinetic episode go just because he was given the silent treatment so he absconds with a fingerprint and drags Scully with him to Philadelphia.
Having survived the previous night, Lauren is back at the office having survived her ordeal and is now giving her two weeks notice to her other boss, Robert Dorland. Dorland is blatantly creepy and clearly evil, seeing as he basically threatens Lauren at this point. The mysterious entity intervenes, however. Not by killing Dorland because there is no way this entity could crush a person’s esophagus. Nah, it decides to be a nuisance and tighten Darlund’s bracelet. Who knows how far this ghost will go?!
Mulder and Scully do some sleuthing and deduce that Lauren was involved with the dead terrorists due to an ATM photograph. Ingrained in the photograph is a blurry streak of light. Scully, being tired of Mulder being the one who sounds insane, asks Lauren if she has seen “this person” when referring to the blur. Lauren is so aghast that these FBI agents would ask such a question with a straight face that she kicks them out. Our friendly blurry entity opts to then sabotage Mulder and Scully’s car, nearly killing them.
Rather than immediately question Lauren about this bizarre turn of events, Mulder and Scully begin the arduous task of diligently putting the pieces together. Conveniently for them, all of the pieces fall together miraculously on the same afternoon when they witness Lauren freaking out over Howard Graves losing a parking spot and then spot her visiting Howard’s grave. Then to make things even more convenient, they creepily take a voyeuristic photo of Lauren which, when developed, reveals the ghostly image of the dead Howard Graves (who is also peeping on Lauren). Mulder and Scully’s work has never been easier (except for that time when a wolf found a dead body for them in Conduit, but I digress.)
The scene of Lauren just flat-out saying “a ghost is protecting me” was cut.
Not content to just spy on Lauren or tighten her boss’ bracelet, Graves’ ghost rudely awakens Lauren by turning her bathtub into a bloody mess. Turns out its all a sign that he didn’t kill himself! Lauren then heads back to work to confront Dorland about killing Howard which has caused her to be awoken at ungodly hours. Unfortunately for her, confronting a man with known terrorist connections is not the best way to deal with the matter. No, the best way to deal with a monster like that is to tighten his bracelet but apparently, Howard’s ghost is sleeping one off. Realizing she has utterly f’ed up, she calls Mulder and Scully to come protect her in full view of Dorland.
Of course Dorland’s assassins show up first. Of course Lauren doesn’t check the peephole to verify it is Mulder and Scully at her doorstep first. Of course, Mulder and Scully arrive and Mulder rushes in to see an assassin being levitated in the air by Howard’s ghost while Scully, I kid you not, struggles with her seatbelt.
How highly does Scully think of Mulder that he tells her about this and she still scoffs at the mention of ghosts?
Now that Lauren is saved, Mulder and Scully spend a ridiculous amount of time waiting for Lauren to open up but she’s too busy giving them the silent treatment. They are ecstatic when they are pulled away but are livid when it turns out that they were pulled away by the two CIA agents. Again with the silent treatment! Thankfully, they finally realize that there are social norms to adhere to and tell our heroes about their plan to use any information Lauren has to put away Dorland for an industrial espionage case they have been working on for a year. (Apparently, this work included having Mulder and Scully on speed-dial in case any extremist terrorists working with Dorland turned up with crushed esophagi.) Mulder stifles a yawn and he and Scully go back to take more of the silent treatment from Lauren.
Then Lauren does that thing that attention-whores do when Mulder and Scully tell her she can leave, she hovers around the door, in dire need to spill her story. COME ON LADY!!! WHY NOT EARLIER?!
This exact image is basically 10% of the episode.
Oh well, she tells Mulder and Scully all about the ghost and what has been going on. Somehow Scully does not believe any of this, despite the fact that their car randomly almost killed them and Mulder freakin saw ghostly activity while she was struggling with her seatbelt like an imbecile. Perhaps feeling very defensive over that bout with idiocy, she proceeds to manipulate Lauren, pretending that she believes in ghosts so that Lauren can help bring Dorland down.
The group, including the CIA agents, head to Dorland’s office to tear it apart looking for evidence. Several futile minutes later, things are looking dire as they haven’t found anything. Mulder finds himself in Dorland’s personal office with Lauren and Dorland (and of course no Scully) and Dorland is basically twirling his mustache in a very Machiavellian manner. This sets Lauren off which sets Howard’s ghost off as well. Howard’s ghost is big on private meetings and unfortunately locks the door so Scully cannot witness what is going on. He then tears the office apart, blowing papers everywhere, tosses Dorland around, threatens him with a letter opener, probably tightens his bracelet a bit, maybe moves a motivational plaque or two, and finally locates the damning evidence. Once everything has calmed down, Scully bursts in and says “Oh My God” in a manner that indicates that maybe, just maybe, she believes something paranormal happened.
Nah, in the next scene she makes light of “the ghost of Howard Graves” like it was all a flight of fancy. Fucking Scully.
Mulder: “Scully, you should have seen it! All these papers just started blowing around and a ghost threw Dorland against a wall and found the evidence for us and gee, golly, it was the craziest thing ever! You should have seen it!”
Scully: “Dorland sure is a slob”
This isn’t a baaad episode. It’s just sort of there. In this episode, we basically get a Lifetime Movie plot mixed with a ghostly revenge tale with a dash of industrial espionage stirred in. All in all, it doesn’t pack much of a punch, especially since Mulder and Scully barely participate in things and are (for the first time in the show), relegated to being passive observers.
What is done well in this episode? Some of the ghost sequences are really well done. The reveal that the terrorists at the beginning were killed is well done and the bathroom scene where Howard re-enacts his suicide is genuinely chilling. Also kudos to the special effects in the scene where the two hit-men/women are killed in front of Mulder. They aren’t particularly great, but for a low-budget show in 1993, it holds up pretty well. The music is decent and Mulder and Scully have some amusing and cute exchanges about classic horror movies.
But, as I said above, the storyline is pretty meh and things just feel like they drag as we follow Lauren Kite around throughout the story. Lisa Waltz is solid but I don’t watch the X-Files for her. Without Mulder and Scully driving things, the episode just feels dull and lifeless.
But, unlike Conduit with its set of cringe-worthy scenes or the Jersey Devil with its complete lack of anything interesting, Shadows doesn’t do anything very badly. The worst I can say about this episode is there is no reason why Scully should not believe that this was caused by a ghost. Granted we never saw her and Mulder discuss the events after he witnessed Howard’s ghost but still, it makes me shake my head when she is so dismissive of ghosts in the final scene. Also, Howard’s ghost is super erratic in what he does. He’s murderous when we need a shocking opening. But then when dealing with his murderer, Dorland, he just tightens his bracelet. Then he tries to murder Mulder and Scully with their car. Seriously, maybe Howard was crazy before dying?
Rating: 55 Bracelets Tightened out of 100
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