X-Files Flashback: ‘2Shy’

Season 3, Episode 6
Director: David Nutter
Writer: Jeff Vlaming

“2Shy” would have a stronger reputation within The X-Files collection if it didn’t suffer greatly in comparison to the infamous “Squeeze” and “Tooms” episodes. These episodes share a common theme: the reclusive, seemingly normal individual who must murder in order to survive thanks to a genetic defect. The killers don’t kill for pleasure – they kill for necessity, for survival. What makes “2Shy” slightly worse is that the killer preys on the insecurities of heavier women through the treacherous world of online dating.

The episode begins with Virgil Incanto (Timothy Carhart) and his date, an attractive heavier woman, parking at night. She is thrilled for the attention, that a good-looking man she met over the internet would show such interest and kindness in her. When he leans in to kiss her, however, she begins to scream in terror. Her body is discovered in a rapidly decomposing state. By the time Scully and Mulder begin to investigate, very little is left of her corpse. In fact, when Scully starts her autopsy, the body has been completely digested with only a skeleton remaining. The episode proceeds as Incanto tracks down additional victims, all heavy-set women, from whom he can extract their body fat – something his own body apparently fails to produce.

Mulder and Scully eventually discover his identity thanks to his fondness for rare Italian poetry and a 911 call from the blind daughter of his landlord, a woman he killed after she discovered a decaying corpse in his bathtub. The remainder becomes a beat-the-clock sequence where Mulder and Scully must save his latest victim before Incanto can digest her as well. We close with the arrested Incanto outlining the necessity of his crimes to Scully: he satisfies both his and their needs through murder. After all, as Incanto says, “the dead are no longer lonely.”

After last episode’s vaguely unresolved plot line, we return to a more standard episode with “2Shy.” Unfortunately, its overwhelming resemblance to “Squeeze” detracts from what might have otherwise been a perfectly great episode. The major difference here is in the performance of the central villain. Timothy Carhart, a decent actor, cannot begin to compare to the legendary work of Doug Hutchinson in “Squeeze.” Hutchinson manages to create a human creature that still felt completely otherworldly but yet mixed our sympathies with our fears. Carport’s performance focuses squarely on the grotesque. Perhaps that’s attributed to the fact that Incanto emotionally engages his victims, tricks them into the necessary kiss, and unabashedly moves on to the next woman. His plight is harder to relate to, harder to sympathize with. At the end, Incanto is just as much of a cypher monster as Fluke Man or any other soulless creature we’ve met along the way.

One notable event in “2Shy” is the opportunity it affords Gillian Anderson to retaliate against her attacker. Having grown weary of the persistent “Scully in danger” moments of Seasons Two and Three, I found it refreshing to see her kick a little ass at the end, even if someone eventually had to help her fight off Incanto. It’s even better that the person who saved her in the end was Incanto’s last victim, using Scully’s gun to shoot him in the heart.

I rather thought that was poetic justice, myself.

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