X-Files Flashback: ‘Trevor’

Season 6, Episode 17
Director: Rob Bowman
Writer: Jim Guttridge, Ken Hawryliw

Beat for beat, The X-Files “Trevor” feels remarkably close to the seminal 1978 film Halloween. Is it just me? It wasn’t until the end that I made the full connection when the villain of the piece – Wilson “Pinker” Rawls (John Diehl) – silently stalks Scully and his prey, the titular Trevor. “Pinker” is the unstoppable force through the episode, mercilessly killing those in his path. Now, I’m not claiming “Trevor” is as good as John Carpenter’s brilliant horror film, but it definitely has a toe in that pool of blood.

The episode begins at a prison farm in rural Mississippi before the onslaught of a tornado. “Pinker” works to reinforce an open window with plywood when he is taunted by a fellow inmate. Undeterred, “Pinker” drives a nail through the offending inmate’s hand, warranting solitary in the yard within a busted old shack that resembles an outhouse. Once the tornado is over, neither the shack nor “Pinker” are in the general vicinity, and the warden who consigned him to the shack was mysteriously cut in half, middle section seemingly cauterized. Mulder and Scully are brought in to investigate, but neither can agree on a cause of death with Scully actively/humorously anticipating Mulder’s X-Files-influenced cause of death (spontaneous combustion).

Meanwhile, “Pinker” leaves a trail of bodies (thanks to his ability to literally pass through most any object) in his quest to locate June, his ex-girlfriend, who long-ago discovered $90,000 left over from the crime that originally incarcerated him. She used that money to give herself a better life, and everyone presumes “Pinker’s” quest is to recoup the lost money. However, we later discover that June had a child by “Pinker” and gave the child to her sister to raise. “Pinker” eventually shows up at June’s sister’s house and terrorized the women in an attempt to kidnap his son. When Mulder and Scully show up, Mulder tries to shoot “Pinker” with rubber bullets (“Pinker’s” transparency is aided by electricity which cannot be conducted through glass or rubber), but “Pinker” escapes and goes after Scully and his son, Trevor. Locking herself and Trevor in a phone booth, Scully tries to save the child from his father when June unexpectedly runs him over, splitting his body into multiple pieces.

Again, maybe it’s just me, but once I had the Halloween association in my mind, I could not let it go. Here’s a criminal who escapes incarceration to return home in search of a blood relative. He is seen as wildly unstopped and extremely bloodthirsty. Is June’s fate tied to “Pinker’s” as Laurie’s was to Michael Myers? It certainly appears that way. In the end, it is beauty that killed the beast rather than the intervening Dr. Loomis / Fox Mulder. But the parallels are remarkable and unmistakable, right down to the eerie chase scenes at the episode’s end in which “Pinker” is seemingly an unstoppable force. Either the writers or the director had Carpenter’s classic in mind when they made this episode.

But as a stand-alone episode of The X-Files it’s just an average outing. It’s intense, sure, and well-made, but it doesn’t really offer anything significant on which to chew. Plus, by naming the episode “Trevor,” the creative team undercut the power of the revelation that Trevor was “Pinker’s” son. Knowing Trevor factors into the episode somehow, even a casual viewer could make that association. Mulder and Scully kind of fall to the background, which is fine given the usual focus on the characters, but I never like it when they feel interchangeable with an average cast member of C.S.I. Jersey City.

Still, they did grace us with this fantastic exchange upon examining the prison warden’s severed body:

Scully: Should we arrest David Copperfield?

Mulder: Yes, we should. But not for this.

There’s the Mulder and Scully we know and love.

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