1×06 – Ghost in the Machine
Übergeek Brad Wilczek over-übers it and creates an Artificial Intelligence that will kill others to save itself. Mulder’s old partner Jerry acts like a jerk and then gets killed, and then Mulder and Scully disable the killer AI except maybe not.
The Intro Bit
It’s a company named Eurisko! (NOT ESKIMO.) Their stock is totally in the toilet!
Two men in a room. One is a big alpha nerd — unshaven, glasses, t-shirt, ranting. The other is a total suit — calm, collected, manicured, wearing a powerful tie.
The Nerd is Brad. The suit also has a name but it doesn’t really matter for reasons that will become apparent very soon, when he dies.
Not-Brad power tie Suit Man is typing up a “why I’m firing Brad” memo, detailing his plan to “shut down” the “COS”. He thinks he’s alone, but somebody is watching over his shoulder– somebody who is…THE CENTRAL OPERATING SYSTEM! It is creepily watching him!
Before Suitster can really get down and dirty about all this firing and shutting down, he notices a mysterious running-water noise in the bathroom.
Upon investigation: The sink is overflowing! Its motion sensor does nothing! And then…THE PHONE RINGS.
The phone gives Suit the time…and then THE DOOR SHUTS. And the LIGHTS GO OUT. And his keycard doesn’t unlock the door, so he pulls out a normal sort of fancy futuristic skeleton key, and puts it in the slot, and WHAM BAM ELECTROCUTION FLYING THROUGH THE AIR SCREAMING.
And then we look into the cold, scheming eye of a security camera. And back to the COS interface, where a robotic, vaguely Schwarzenneger-esque voice says:
Our agents are buying lunch when Mulder gets a surprise manhug from his friend Jerry — his old partner back in Violent Crime.
Jerry buys them lunch and lays a case on ‘em. The CASE OF THE ELECTROCUTED SUIT GUY.
Jerry really, really needs Mulder’s help on this one. Like, creepy, clingy, guilt-trippy need.
Nabisco : Triscuits :: Eurisko : Diskettes?
A bantering Mulder and Scully head to the Eurisko building — we get an ominous shot of a security camera lookin’ at ‘em. Mulder gives Scully the backstory on Jerry: he is a huge fuckup.
And now a weird voyeuristic camera view in the elevator. Kind of an FBI Girls Gone Wild feeling to it. Or Cops. They head up to the 29th floor, but around floor four or so the elevator completely fucks with them and knocks Scully over.
And now the COS? I guess? is looking up her phone number.
Then we’re up in the Bathroom of death, where a nice building engineer fellow named Claude Peterson fills them in on how the COS works.
Mulder and Scully sit in on a debriefing run by Jerry, who has apparently just completely stolen Mulder’s whole profile and is presenting it as his own. Jerry sucks.
Double-barreled vocabulary discharge from Mulder:
Brad’s Fancypants House
Note: at eleven minutes and forty seconds into the episode, whoever did the editing perfectly aligned a beat in the music with the THWACK of a golf club striking a ball. Nice.
Mulder and Scully pull up into the driveway of alpha nerd (and now prime-suspect)
Bill Gates Brad Wilczek’s mansion.
Brad gives his theory on programmers:
Mulder tries to jump from nerd philosophy to FBI investigationography:
Anyway, Brad acknowledges that he COULD have hacked the system to kill Suit Dude, but proclaims that he is TOO SCRUFFY TO KILL A MAN.
Scully does another Doogie Howser voiceover, writing up some case-file notes about Brad on her PC.
Fact: Mulder and Scully are secretly trying to set up a threesome with Brad.
She finishes up her report and turns stuff off and heads for bed. AND THEN THE COMPUTER TURNS ITSELF BACK ON.
And the COS says:
At which point the official Mulder’s Big Adventure workstation SHUT ITSELF DOWN. Seriously. This really happened.
The Return of Jerry
Jerry drops by to sort of apologize and then basically whine for a while and then call Mulder like Jesus or something. Awkward. Scully mercifully interrupts by using SCIENCE to prove that Brad’s voice is the same voice that called Suit Guy in the bathroom of death. Scully is so sure that this proves Brad’s guilt that she DRAWS ON A MONITOR SCREEN WITH A PEN.
Brad tries AND FAILS to hack into, presumably, the COS or Eurisko or whatever, then heads to Eurisko HQ. He rushes into the, uh, COS Control Room, and the COS greets him with a friendly “WELCOME BACK, BRAD”. Brad gets all WTF and begins to both speak AND type at the COS:
And the COS is all ha ha fuck you and Brad’s all BUH WHA SCRUFFY. Jerry, in the mean time, has been tailing him — he gets on an elevator.
And then the elevator plunges from the thirtieth floor, pinning Jerry to the floor of the car–
–while Brad screams at the COS to stop it. COS does NOT stop it.
Reviewing the tape
Mulder sits and watches security cam footage of Jerry splatting and Brad hollering. Scully comes in and tries to talk him out of his “it wasn’t Brad” theory.
Mulder sets up a meeting with Deepthroat, which kind of pisses DT off but they talk anyway.
Also, bonus tangential not-what-he-meant conspiracy theory phrase:
So DT’s theory is that the government framed Brad to get him to develop AI for weapons. Mulder confronts Brad in jail and asks about the whole fake-confession thing; Brad huddles in the corner amd makes an Oppenheimer/A-bomb comparison. Mulder hectors Brad into helping him TAKE THAT COMPUTER DOWN.
Scully still thinks Brad did it and she’s all blaming this on Mulder’s feelings about his dead partner.
Scully gets a call at 1:31 am — from a MODEM! She rushes to the computer to find that…SOMETHING is downloading her case report! She makes a call to trace the call–
Cut to a nice up-nostril shot of Mulder outside Eurisko HQ. Scully meets up with him and reports that the call was coming from INSIDE THE CORPORATION.
So they hack building security with a stolen vanity license plate, and then building security hacks into the hood of their rental car with a spiky security gate.
Hijinks ensue. The lights go out; Mulder hacks the ELECTRIFIED DOOR with a screwdriver and sticks a glove over one of COS’s cameras; Scully crawls through a ventilation duct.
The vent is apparently capable of producing gale force winds–
–and, preposterously, nearly kills Scully by blowing her into a vent fan, or, yeah. This is one of the stupidest things the show has done so far.
And while she’s busy almost dying in HVAC-land, Mulder teams up with that nice building engineer Clyde to try and, I dunno, kill COS?
Not to be outdone, Scully starts SHOOTING AT THE KILLER VENT FAN.
Mulder successfully hacks the COS! And Clyde the engineer pulls out a gun! He’s a spook!
And then Scully, who did NOT die, shows up and pulls a gun on Clyde! Mulder inserts the virus! COS does a cheesy HAL impersonation–
–and, with a troubled “WHYYYY”, that’s it for the killer AI.
Mulder and Deepthroat have a nice chat on a park bench (command summary: Wilczek has been SO BONED by the government and is pretty much going to build weapons no matter what).
And a bunch of whitecoat nerds, led by Clyde the fake engineer dude, go digging through the guts of COS, but they don’t find a thing — it’s just a room full of circuit boards and wires.
…AND SUDDENLY GLOWING LIGHTS