|Story by:||Malcolm Fenn|
|Written by:||Malcolm Fenn|
- "None of this makes any sense" - Mulder
Dead in the Morning is the fourteenth episode of Season 10.
After an FBI team are slaughtered during a routine raid on a D.C warehouse, Mulder and Scully have to resort to the improbable to find a motive for the seemingly inexplicable crime, especially when suspicious activities are noticed behind the scenes.
An FBI taskforce, under the command of Ed Hamshaw, end their stakeout of a potential terrorist group's arsenal in downtown D.C and head into the building. With Hamshaw's team leading, and Agent Nicholson is support, they enter the warehouse to find it abandoned. Before Hamshaw can report the situation, a sniper in the rafters begins killing the team. After a brief panic, Hamshaw is the last to die, and Nicholson's team move in to find no sign of the shooter.
Just before 6am at J. Edgar Hoover Building, a sleepy Mulder is greeted by Scully, who teases him when she discovers that he hasn't slept. Their conversation reveals neither know what is going on, only that most of the office has been called in for an early briefing. Doggett joins them and informs them that "a bad thing" has happened, and that Skinner is organising the briefing within 20 minutes.
At the packed briefing room, Skinner announces that Hamshaw's team were murdered during the raid and that no sign of the shooters can be found, much to the shock of the gathered Agents. He instructs them that the information cannot go public and an investigation is to be launched immediately. Nicholson, shell shocked and still donning his combat gear, tells them that they were responding to a tip off from an informant, and that the killers were meticulous in their execution. Doggett begins the process of organisation as the agents file out.
Mulder and Scully join the large detachment of agents and law enforcement at the warehouse, Cody's Storage, where they are greeted by Doggett and begin their preliminary search for evidence. Unbeknownst to them, they are observed by a man in black clothes through binoculars. Inside the warehouse, Mulder questions the fact that a group of snipers could remain hidden in a staked out warehouse for most of the night.
At a messy apartment downtown, the informant Shevy Dominguez nervously phones his accomplice and convinces him to come over to help plan an escape from the situation.
Skinner is visited in his office by Nicholson, who says he wants to make a complaint that Mulder has been assigned to the case. A suspicious Skinner attempts to query why, at which point an indignant Nicholson rants about Mulder's reputation and his belief in the paranormal as well as involvement in the Alien conspiracy. An angry Skinner attempts to reign him in, at which point Nicholson jumps to his feet and claims that Skinner sees Mulder and Scully as his favourites. Despite Skinner's attempts to diffuse the situation, Nicholson storms out, proclaiming that "This ain't done". He is watched as he leaves by an anxious Tom Blakely.
Back at the Warehouse, an increasingly fatigued and disconnected Mulder muses the bizzare nature of the crime, much to the bafflement of a hesitant Doggett. Scully speaks with the medical teams, and confirms that the wounds inflicted meant the gunmen had to have been in the roof. They speak with the ballistics expert, Hollins, who states that his team's findings suggest that all of the gunmen used the same weapon, and that he will able to determine how many shooters there were. He also opinins that there might have been a single shooter, a theory which Doggett refutes before returning to the ground level. Scully asks Mulder what he's thinking, to which he replies that he can't work out the shootings. When he speculates to the involvement of the Eastern European Contract Killers, Scully reassuringly tells him that he is simply trying too hard to find an explanation. She then suggest he get some rest, as he's clearly dead on his feet. Mulder complies and goes to leave.
Back at Skinner's office, the Deputy Director fretts about his encounter with Nicholson, affirming his belief that stress is the cause and that calming him down will solve the problem. He sends three agents to get Nicholson and take him home. Agent Linderot reports in that they have identified the contact and are on the way to apprehend him. Skinner insists that no harm come of the man.
At the warehouse, Mulder is on the verge of leaving when he is approached and warned by Blakely that Nicholson is coming after him. Mulder appears to be untroubled by this, untill Nicholson himself arrives and advances on them. He punches out Blakely before turning on Mulder. Slow due to his fatigue, Mulder is unable to fight him off and is concussed after a brief fight. Doggett arrives and restrains Nicholson before depositing him into the custody of Skinner's agents. After checking his injuries, Scully drives him home.
At Shevy Dominguez's apartment, Shevy is hugely relieved when his accomplice shows up; the man in black. After enquiring as to what they're going to do, the man calmly executes Shevy and rigs the crime to look like a suicide. He takes his phone so that he can't be found and leaves.
Scully gets Mulder back to his apartment and gives him a sedative for his injuries, showing genuine worry about her partner's condition. Mulder utters something inaudible before passing out, and after a moment Scully leaves.
At the Ballistics lab, Hollins explains to Scully that he is waiting to receive the bullets from the other dead from the hospital, and that when he does he will be able to determine how many gunmen were involved. Scully is impressed. She is visited by Blakely, who informs her that Skinner wants to speak to her.
Going into Skinner's office, Scully gives a brief statement on what occured outside the warehouse, and backs up Skinner's personal theory that Nicholson was simply exhibiting violent behaviour due to extreme stress. Skinner concurs but insists that he be absolutely sure before taking action. Scully informs him that the investigation is going slowly, but that they are making progress with ballistics, and that there is a chance there was a single sniper. After she leaves, Skinner expresses his desire to release Nicholson under suspension from the holding cells, clearly being frustrated with the events of the day.
At Mulder's apartment, with Mulder barely conscious of his surroundings, the man in black enters and steals a file from Mulder's desk along with his badge. He also checks his phone. A disorientated Mulder calls out, believing Scully has returned. The man ignores the query, and makes to leave, stopping briefly and looking at the now unconscious Mulder before leaving.
Going into evening at the J. Edgar Hoover building, Scully visits Linderot, now in charge of paperwork, and talks to him about the apparent incident with the contact. Linderot states bitterly that it seems a clear cut suicide, and also expresses his bemusement at why Dominguez would call in the tip and then kill himself. Scully reassures him that the investigation is still in it's first day, but Linderot reinforces the view that the longer they take, the further away the perpetrators will get.
When Hollins goes to use the bathroom, the man in black sneaks into his office and steals the newly acquired bullets before leaving, but doesn't notice one of them already prepped for examination. Hollins returns and is startled to find the evidence has been stollen.
Mulder awakens, dizzy and smarting. After getting out of bed and going into the living room, he notices that his badge is missing and phones Scully.
She is already at Chuck Burks' lab, along with Blakely, with the latter having found Security Footage showing the foot of a potential suspect near the crime scene minutes after the shooting. Scully speaks to Mulder on the phone and explains the situation, as well as insisiting he get more rest. When Scully tells him that the contact was found dead, Mulder suggests that she find out which agent was running him. He then asks whether Scully had returned to his apartment at some point, to which Scully affirmed that she hadn't. Having hung up, Scully speaks with Burks and Blakely and decides that they need to look for more footage nearby.
Having decided to report in briefly to get an understanding for what's going on, Mulder phones a busy Doggett and asks that he come down and sign him in as he's lost his badge. Doggett asks whether Mulder intends to press charges against Nicholson, but Mulder says he won't, since no good will come of it.
At the holding cells, Skinner visits a very remorseful Nicholson who apologies for his actions and shows every sign of regret. Skinner affirms that Nicholson has disgraced the Bureau and is suspended indefinetly. Nicholson is then released and told to go home.
Scully goes to speak to Hollins, only to find the office empty. As she goes to leave, Hollins appears from the shadows, suddenly very paranoid, and explains that somebody stole the evidence. He goes on to say that when he examined the only bullet that was left, it matched that of the first bullet, confirming that two of the five agents were killed by the same gun. He surmises that the theft confirms a cover up of the fact there was only one gunman.
Scully phones Doggett and asks him to come down to the basement to speak privately. He reluctantly agrees.
As Mulder enters the FBI offices, he runs into Blakely, who tells him that CCTV has revealed footage which may be the face of the assassin.
Downstairs, Doggett visits Scully, who is extremely cautious. She asks him to find out who was running Shevy Dominguez, and affirms her view that someone within the FBI is a part of the murders. A stunned and forthright Doggett reassures her that she is jumping to conclusions after past dealings with corruption, and that there are no traitors within the FBI. He adds that she is very tired and should go home and get some sleep. She agrees, but convinces him to find out the information anyway before leaving.
Back at Burks's office, Burks, Blakely and Agent Kozi, who turned up the footage, explain what they have found to Mulder, and show him footage of a man in black clothing exiting an electrical room in the basement level of a nearby shopping mall. They explain that it is likely the gunman escaped by using a series of underground tunnels, thus avoiding the FBI cordon. When the image of the man is pulled up, Mulder recognises him. He asks if anyone knows where Scully is before rushing out to the bemusement of the others.
Upstairs, Doggett visits Linderot and asks for the identity of the agent running Dominguez. A weary and grumpy Linderot mentions that nobody in the task force admitted to who it was, and reluctantly agrees to find out for him.
Mulder leaves the building, believing that Scully's life may be in danger, having been told by a passer by that she has gone home.
Having driven back to her apartment, Scully is about to go inside when Doggett phones. He tells her urgently that they discovered that Dominguez was being worked by Nicholson, and that now the agent cannot be located. Scully expresses the danger Mulder is in, to which Doggett replies that Mulder is at work and hence safe. Scully remembers Mulder's earlier references to the List killings, and vocally recalls that they believed the killers had a source inside the FBI. Doggett agrees to send her information on the subject, with Scully desperate to see if she can find a link between Nicholson and the contract killers.
Mulder, racing out of the building in his car, tries to phone Scully but the line is engaged.
Still on the phone, Doggett informs Scully that Mulder left. She demands that they find him, before going to her apartment. Dogget attempts to call Mulder, but is unable to get through as he's in a tunnel. He leads a large force of agents, including Blakely, and begins heading to Mulder's house, calling in that Nicholson is their prime suspect as he does.
Mulder gets home and finds that a file has been stollen, confirming that someone also stole his badge and had broken into his apartment. He attempts once again to call Scully, but she is busy in the other room and doesn't realise she is being phoned. As Mulder gets ready to go over to hers, somebody knocks at the door.
In the car, Doggett explains to Blakely that Nicholson was unaccounted for when Dominguez 'shot himself' and that there is now a motive for going after Mulder since Mulder was involved in the case with the List killings.
Mulder opens the door to reveal Nicholson. He is immediately apprehensive, but Nicholson insists that he is there to apologise. He goes on to admit that he feels himself to be responsible for Hamshaw's death since Dominguez was his contact. Cutting him off as he awkwardly attempts to apologise, Mulder asks that Nicholson back him up. The two leave. In the drive over to Scully's apartment, Mulder explains that he recognised the man on the security footage as one of the three assassins in the List killings, and that he was sure the same man had taken a file from his apartment on an "old friend" that only he knew the location of. Baffled, Nicholson asked why the killer was going after Scully, to which Mulder replied that it was so she could be used as leverage. Mulder finally succeeds in getting through to Scully on the phone.
At Scully's apartment, she notices her phone ringing but is distracted by the security tape image. She gasps as she recognises the man, but before she can react the man in black emerges from behind her bedroom door, revealing himself to be Dario Vukjovic. He attacks her, and renders her unconscious with chloroform after a brief struggle.
Mulder and Nicholson arrive at the apartment and split up, with Mulder going upstairs to find her apartment door wide open and the room showing signs of a struggle. As he desperately looks around, he notices an envelope addressed to him, containing his badge and a dictaphone. Nicholson goes around the back and finds a bound and gagged Scully lying on the ground. As he tries to help her, Vukjovic emerges from the shadows and guns him down. Mulder goes back downstairs and finds Nicholson's dead body, but nobody else. Defeated, he phones Doggett to get back up.
Returning to the apartment, emotional at the fact that once again Scully has been taken from him, Mulder examines the dictaphone and plays the tape. Vukjovic speaks on the recording, demanding that if Mulder wants to see Scully again, he will have to disclose to him the location of Gibson Praise.
- Second episode of the Season not to directly feature any paranormal involvement (after X-Phile).
- Over the course of this single episode, Dario Vukjovic racked up the second highest direct kill tally of the entire series (including pre 10-13) with seven.
- First appearance by Agent Buddy Linderot.
- Last appearance by Agent Edward Hamshaw
"The heavy use of overseas and varying locations meant that I wanted to base an episode entirely in D.C, and also over the space of a single day. In theory, 18 hours pass between the opening teaser and the final shot.
I also wanted to have the pair investigating more typical FBI business, and the focus on the Bureau was something that was neccesary since the organisation's 'change' was one of the key reasons why it was possible for 10-13 to exist.
I'm a big fan of noir thrillers, much like The Usual Suspects, and there are inspirations in here. One of the most exciting things was to display just how effective Vukjovic was as a planner as well as killer. He may kill seven people, but in no time at all he runs a brilliant plan to nab Scully. It's satisfying when the actual sting isn't fully revealed untill the end, and Vukjovic's demand to Mulder finally reveals why what happened did. It also shows his ruthlessness, in that he is willing to create a pile of bodies to achieve his goal. I thought it would be pretty cool for there to be not a hint of the paranormal or X file untill the last line. The last words in fact.
The emphasis on apparent 'Shipper' moments is to remind people how much Mulder and Scully work together, and make his angst at finding that she has been taken away yet again more convincing.
And I confess that Nicholson is this episode's red herring or MacGuffin, since he has so much focus, making the reader believe he is one of the perpetrators right to the end. Of course, in classic 'Raiders' style if you take him out of the episode the events wouldn't change."
Cast of Characters
- Fox Mulder
- Dana Scully
- John Doggett
- Walter Skinner
- Dario Vukjovic
- Tom Blakely
- Chuck Burks
- Edward Hamshaw
- Buddy Linderot
- Shevy Dominguez
- Matthew Kozi
- Frank Nicholson
- Agent 1
- Agent 2
- Agent 3
- Female Agent