Theatre of the Mind ~ Leonard Betts

In looking at Leonard Betts again after four years, it's easy to see why this episode was selected for a very special honor in 1997: It followed Super Bowl XXXI. Leonard Betts is a good and scary yet humorous monster-of-the-week for the casual viewer; yet a pivotal-very pivotal-episode with regard to the mytharc for the philes in the audience. At the time, XF was already FOX's highest rated series; this episode nearly doubled its regular audience with nearly 30 million Americans tuning in to see Mulder & Scully do some of their finest work.

1. You know, I'm sure the first time I watched this episode, I had a good deal of empathy for Leonard. Now, all I can say is: Ewww! It's that evil Dr. Romano!!

2. He can see the patient has cancer just by looking? Why doesn't he use that on "ER"?

3. Do speeding ambulances with siren blaring not have the right-of-way in Pennsylvania?

4. If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . .

5. Do you think the Morgue Boy is listening to The Grateful Dead? I crack myself up.

6. The headless-or-not figure reflecting in the metal doors? Pretty creepy.

7. Hey, Dr. Romano! You forgot your head! (I'll be sure to send it to Dr. Corday or Dr. Benton-on a platter! I'm sure they would *love* to receive it!)

8. TWC1: Woo-hoo! What a good start! Mulder's looking mighty fine as he checks out the morgue accommodations. (He's probably quite impressed with Scully's growth spurt, as she's nearly as tall as he is in this shot.)

9. Bloody handprints and footprints on the drawer door-yup, I'd say that's a clue, all right.

10. Mr. Betts "sans head" sounds so much nicer than decapitated. Thank you, Mulder.

11. Ah, I live for Mulderisms: "Weird, huh?" "Did I mention that Mr. Betts had no head?"

12. "Mulder, what are we doing here?" Reminds me of M's little Scully impression in "Theef."

13. TWC2: The boy is too cute. Love the little shrug and all the facial expressions while he pretends to listen to Scully's theory about cadaver-snatching.

14. Even though he asked, I don't think Mulder really wants to know where they could hide an adult body.

15. Thanks for that explanation, Scully. Next time I see road crews filling potholes on my street, I'm gonna have a much deeper appreciation for that road fill.

16. Return of Squeamish!Mulder!!

17. Paybacks are hell, Mulder. You got her with that "little feet" wisecrack, but she gotcha back with this "long arms" remark. And "Oh, I think I got the toy surprise."

18. This scene at the waste processing unit confirms it early: the M&S yin and yang is back in this eppy!

19. When Betts' head moved I could only think one thing: I hope Scully's got a change of underwear.

20. Just when you think Mulder has learned his lesson about sticking his fingers in things . . .

21. Weren't you just a little worried about Mulder being in the bathroom alone? The bathroom is not a safe place on the XF!

22. See #18 again. The phone exchange between M&S is priceless. Scully (who is still just a little bit unnerved) grasping for scientific explanations while Mulder teases-too cute. Mulder with his embarrassed little "yeah" when Scully questions his conjecture about Betts.

23. TWC3: And I'll give this whole scene a big Holy Flaming Cow. Mulder is looking fantastic! And teasing/embarrassed Mulder just adds to the legend of the Man, the Man, the Monotone!

24. Too bad Mulder didn't stick his fingers in the tub a little further. He might have found what he was looking for.

25. If Leonard is so great at diagnosing illness, perhaps that explains why Dr. Romano is such a jerk. Maybe he has let this gift go to his head. (When he has one, I mean.)

26. MSRM: They're so cute together as they watch Leonard's head rise from the epoxy bath. (I'll admit the bloopers helped sway my opinion since it appeared they were having such fun!) But Mulder's paperweight joke *almost* makes Scully smile, and Mulder is so pleased he laughs out loud!

27. A pretty cool slice of head!

28. TWC4: Mulder is pretty cool too. And what'd I say about those Mulderisms? "Let's get a slice to go."

29. I think it's apparent that Leonard should have come up with a new catchphrase with each identity. Perhaps "He's up to his crack in crocodiles" or something.

30. It's Chuck! Chuck, I can see why Mulder digs you.

31. Tonight's science lesson: Kirlian photography is the process of photographing an object by exposing film in a dark room to ultraviolet light that results from electronic and ionic interactions caused by an electric field. The photograph shows a light, glowing band surrounding the outline of the object. (After S.D. and V.K. Kirlian, 20th century Russian electricians.)

32. Frankly, I like calling it my "Chi" rather than my "coronal discharge." Sounds so much nicer.

33. TWC5: Hoo-boy, the man looks fine even in a dark room. And love the way he is pointing at the picture for Scully. He is such a little boy!

34. Chuck and Mulder are certainly the Wayne and Garth for the brainy set; they just need a basement and a cable access channel. Welcome to Mulder's World! Mulder: This dude was like decapitated, man. Chuck: No way. Mulder: Way. Excellent! ("Are we happy with the results?") Schwing!

35. See #18 again; another great M&S scene. And Mulder has even learned to fight science with science, so to speak, to try and get Scully to buy into his theories. Either that or he was paying attention back in Season 1 during "Young at Heart" when the whole issue of salamanders regrowing body parts (not to mention someone who could grow a whole new hand) was discussed the first time. Scully didn't find it nearly so preposterous then, but maybe she forgot that when she was abducted. Okay, I'll stop nitpicking. Love the "Worms. You cut a worm in half; you get two." "Mulder, they're worms."

36. Good to know M&S are still calling Danny when the chips are down!

37. Scully was so excited to hear from Danny that she forgot where she was. She says that Betts/Tanner has a mother living "here in Pittsburgh"-but M&S are at the University of Maryland. No wonder Mulder doesn't let her drive.

38. TWC6: Lord have mercy. How'd you like to open the door and see "him" standing there!

39. Betts/Tanner died six years ago? "Confused yet?" "Yeah." Well, if *they're* confused, where does that leave us?

40. Michelle seems pretty open-minded, considering the last time she saw this guy he had no head. Unfortunately, she gets killed for her trouble.

41. Those pesky opposable thumbs. What'd we ever need those for anyway? Ewww.

42. Have I mentioned Mulderisms yet? "Siskel or Ebert?" A BIG thumbs up!! (Have I mentioned how cute Mulder looks under that umbrella? Yum!)

43. Truelove? Wasn't that Santa Claus' name in "Closure"?

44. Refer to #18 again for a discussion of evolution. Or a plug for DD's new movie.

45. "On the other hand, how evolved can a man be who drives a Dodge dart?" (I won't say it again.)

46. Somehow, I don't think this was one of the uses that Coleman had in mind when they designed their handy-dandy cooler. I haven't seen any directions that say: "Holds 12 12-oz. cans or 6 cancerous tumors."

47. Luckily, Mulder's mom is gone now, or we could hear the same question in Season 8: "Do you think Mom knows her dead son is tooling around in her car?"

48. Guess the mini-blizzard cleared up somewhere between the parking lot and Mrs. Tanner's house.

49. TWC7: HFC Mini-Moment. It's so brief that it couldn't be the HFC, but when Mrs. Tanner opens the front door: Holy Flaming Cow!

50. Do you think "Miracle Gro" would work on your thumb?

51. Too bad we couldn't hook Leonard up with CSM in this episode. Sorta kill two birds with one stone.

52. Where's the "what you don't see is scarier than what you do see" mentality when you need it. The birth of the "new" Leonard would have been much scarier had we seen it as a shadow on the wall. Sometimes you can show too much, and this was one of those times. (Guess those post-Super Bowl viewers don't have the discerning taste that us philes do!)

53. TWC8: ManlyMan!Mulder looks fine as whips out his gun, rolls open the storage room door, stares down the car with his gun drawn, and then pushes Scully out of the way. Okay, who missed the tires and shot the gas tank?

54. Don't you just hate it when you go to all the trouble of birthing a new body and somebody comes along and blows it up?

55. John Gilnitz! He hasn't made an appearance since he was tragically killed in "Wetwired."

56. Hmmm. A man is dead, is buried by his loved ones, and then miraculously comes back to life. This plot sounds vaguely familiar . . . (maybe that's why Scully won't have such a hard time believing it in Season 8-it's all been done before).

57. "Will the real Leonard Betts please stand up?" Isms, isms, everywhere!

58. Mrs. Tanner cracks me up when she says, "They found your friend," like Leonard's regenerated bodies are his little playmates.

59. "I'm your mother and it's a mother's duty to provide." These mothers in Pennsylvania-at least in Home and Pittsburgh, PA-really know how to take care of their kids. Ewwww.

60. TWC9: :::sigh:::! Those late-night stakeouts always remind me of liverwurst and root beer. (And I'm always a sucker for ManlyMan!Mulder kicking in the door. And for "Mulder, it's me." And for gum-chewing Mulder. I'm just a big sucker for this whole darn episode!)

61. Just like one of our heroes to get a drip on their head and automatically figure out the suspect is hiding on the roof. I'd probably chalk it up to a birdie overhead or something.

62. All the while you were yelling at the TV, "Scully don't go up there!" And then he got her from inside the ambulance.

63. "I'm sorry . . . but you've got something I need." I remember it like it was yesterday; my heart fell into my stomach when I heard those words. They wouldn't give Scully cancer, would they?

64. KickAss!Scully is only stunned for a moment, as she uses her physical abilities and some quick-thinking to get herself out of this jam. Just as Leonard gave her a shock, she gave him one as well.

65. We can surely feel Scully's defeated spirit as she waits in the car considering the unthinkable; can what Leonard said to her be true? Great job by GA.

66. Mulder figured out the "Leonard needs cancer to survive" angle, but yet he doesn't get the connection to why Scully looks so down sitting in the car. He thinks she's feeling bad about killing Betts, so he gives her a little "you did a good job" pep talk. For all his smarts, the boy can be so dense sometimes. (And we must talk to him about fastening his seat belt!)

67. Good to know that Lariat still has the exclusive FBI rental car contract.

68. Scully awakens at 2:08 a.m.; and Leonard's unit number after his head was restored was 208. What's the significance? Maybe none. Maybe that Episode 2X08 was a little gem called "One Breath."

69. A simple bloody nose and this episode switches from MOTW to mytharc in the blink of an eye: Scully learned about the cancer ailment suffered by other abductees in "Nisei." Could it be that Scully is going to suffer the same fate?

70. Somehow, I feel we are up to our asses in alligators.

And so the cancer arc begins. Whether each of the remaining episodes deals with it specifically or not, the rest of Season 4, and perhaps the rest of the XF, will be impacted by the events of Leonard Betts. (I don't think another famous Super Bowl follow-up, "Survivor II" is quite that deep.) How many of those Super Bowl watchers became XF fans that night, do you suppose? How many understood the implications of that final scene? Hard to say. Well, this TOTM is done. "Are we happy with the results?"

Apologies as always,