“I blame him for what happened to all of us. You don’t know what it was like… You sat home and watched the war on cable TV like it was a damn video game. You have no idea about the guys that died. About the blood… the sand. What it feels like when a hit comes. Thing is, you just don’t care, do you? You got your crude oil. Just change that station, right? Killer got his prime time. LC got his fancy little medals. Now, take a good look at me, WHAT DID I GET?! Nobody knows how I feel. They took my life away.” – Leonard Trimble
Our heroes look into the case of a suicidal Army officer at a VA hospital in Maryland. Little do they know about the mysterious goings-on there…
Max: If “2Shy” delved into issues that were at the very time very new (internet dating), then “The Walk” goes back to those around for decades, namely the effects of war on those who waged it, and the reinsertion of these individuals back into civilian life after the conflict.
Mulder and Scully come to the hospital after learning of reports of a suicidal officer who claims a ghost or spirit will not let him die. Lt. Col. Stans shares with the agents his despondence at being unable to save his wife and children in a house fire, and lets on he thinks it is this same apparition that caused their deaths. The controlling officer of the hospital, General Thomas Callahan, is rather upset that a bunch of “low-level” civilian agents are conducting an investigation of the hospital’s affairs. However, after the death of his assistant in the hospital’s pool, he is resigned to let our intrepid agents to carry it out.
What follows is a cat-and-mouse game, when Mulder surmises that a quadruple amputee named Leonard “Rappo” Trimble has acquired the ability of astral projection, leaving his body to exact vengeance on those he believed put him in his current condition in the Gulf War. His body count is high, as he dispatches everyone from Callahan’s wife and child to hospital mailman Quinton Freely, who had been helping him as an unwitting accomplice in his astral excursions.
The episode does a good job at developing Trimble’s trauma, and the way he covers for his deep reservoirs of pain with wisecracks and sarcasm. For him, he thinks he was just used and tossed aside when he wasn’t of any use to the Army anymore. He rebuffs any attempt by others to understand his pain, a self-imposed isolation that only serves to amplify his resentment and rage.
In the end, he is put down when Stans suffocates his physical body while his astral form is hellbent on killing both Callahan and Mulder who arrives at the hospital to protect him. But the damage is done, and Trimble succeeds if only in the manner that he brought a little bit of battlefield hell back to the homefront. And in an age when the majority of Americans only know war from the extreme remove of television footage, we can only imagine and barely conceive what soldiers like Trimble endured.
Radhika: “The Walk” isn’t The X-Files’ first attempt to provide some commentary on war. Episodes like season two’s “Sleepless,” and heck, even season one’s “Deep Throat,” all have their moments where they tackle the subject. Rather unsurprising if you think about it — “The Walk” aired in 1995, four years after the Gulf War ended.
In fact, the quote at the top of this post about watching “war on cable TV like it was a damn video game” is probably the quote that stood out the most for me. Incidentally, I was a small child growing up in the Middle East during the time of the Gulf War (though in a peaceful part), and though we probably felt the effects more there than people in the U.S. did … it never quite felt like reality thanks to living in a safe zone. And admittedly, being a small child probably played a huge part in my ignorance, though I did recall seeing American G.I.s on leave in our shopping malls and hearing stories about refugees. Just like everyone in the U.S., we could turn on CNN and see that there was a war on, but it never felt completely real. While war has become increasingly brutal, as weapons grow more sophisticated, it is very easy for those of us fortunate enough to live in peaceful lands to ignore it (unless we have friends or family members entwined in a conflict overseas).
But even though I almost felt a twinge of sympathy when “Rappo” uttered those words, I ultimately couldn’t stand him. After all, it’s a classic case of two wrongs not making a right, which Mulder points out when he says, “So you took [their lives]” in response to Rappo claiming that his life was taken away. Vengeance does not suit our astral-projecting antagonist.
I can applaud John Shiban for giving some war commentary a shot with this episode. But it was also his first script for the series and it shows. Even with the astral projection, it feels like a bit of a retread, as we’ve had plenty of episodes where characters are dealing with revenge and being wronged. So ultimately, while it’s a passable, entertaining hour of television, it’s not the most memorable one for me.
YES, IT’S THAT GUY
Willie Garson – Playing the creepy mailman Quinto Freely, Garson has been a consummate television presence for over two decades. His breakout role was that of Stanford Blatch on Sex And The City (and its two feature films) and later starred in another HBO series, David Milch’s John From Cincinnati. Currently, he can be found playing the coy conman Mozzie on USA’s White Collar.