|The X-Files episode|
|Original Airdate:||January 16, 2000|
|Written by:|| Vince Gilligan & John Shiban &
|Directed by:||Thomas J. Wright|
An astonishing magic act drags Mulder and Scully into a web of intrigue leading to an elaborate bank robbery.
A magician, The Amazing Maleeni, twists his head completely around at a carnival. While he's leaving, his severed head falls completely off.
Billy LaBonge, another magician, heckles Maleeni during the event and, when he is questioned by Mulder and Scully, he is shown to be very arrogant and considers Maleeni to be a ripoff. During the autopsy, Scully finds that his head was very carefully sawed off, but that he died of a heart attack. She also finds that he was dead for at least a month and refrigerated, even though the carnival manager spoke to him in the moments leading up to his head falling off.
LaBonge finds a man, Cissy Alvarez, that won big against Maleeni, putting him in debt. LaBonge admits that he caused his head to fall off, and says that he will give the man the money he is owed if he helps him with magic. Then he makes his fingers catch on fire. Mulder and Scully go to visit Maleeni's brother, Albert Pinchbeck, who turns out to look exactly like that, and is even wearing a neck brace, which he says he got in a car accident in Mexico.
Mulder tells him he thinks he did the magic act, but the man shows that he has not legs, which he also lost in Mexico in the car accident. Back at work, Alvarez threatens Pinchbeck that he will kill him if he does not get his money. LaBonge then frames Alvarez for a robbery from a security truck by painting Alvarez' tattoos on his hands. Mulder finds out that Pinchbeck is Maleeni and that he faked having no legs. He said he did so because he owed a lot of money to Alvarez so he had to fake his own death. Maleeni said he found his brother dead of a heart attack at home and used him. Maleeni is arrested and LaBonge brought a gun to a bar to get arrested. Alvarez is then arrested because of the attempted robbery LaBonge did earlier.
The vault at Maleeni's work is emptied and the money is found above Alvarez' bar. Mulder and Scully confront LaBonge and Maleeni as they are released on bail, where Mulder explains that he has figured out their plan - that LaBonge and Maleeni were not, in fact, enemies, and that they had worked together to put Alvarez in prison for making LaBonge's life miserable in prison 8 years prior, and that as masters of sleight of hand and escape tricks, the two of them easily escaped, performed the robbery, and returned to
After the two magicians make their exit, confident in the lack of evidence against them, Mulder reveals to Scully the true trick being performed - that everything involving Alvarez was purely misdirection. Earlier, when checking whether Maleeni had stolen funds from the bank, the manager had told Mulder they would need his badge number and thumb print to gain access to the EFT system. Mulder shows Scully Maleeni's wallet, which he had collected from evidence before confronting him and LaBonge. When the agents first met LaBonge, he had surreptitiously pick pocketed their badges as an example of his skill with sleight of hand, which gave him Mulder's badge number.
Upon their first meeting with Maleeni impersonating his brother, Maleeni did a card trick with Mulder, leaving Mulder's prints on the card, which as Mulder displays, is securely in Maleeni's wallet. Mulder explains that the pair purposely acted in a high profile manner to draw the attention of the FBI, and that if they had collected the badge number and thumbprint, they would have been able to perform EFTs and make the 1.8 million from the bank look like "cigar lighting money".
As Mulder and Scully leave the jail, Scully shows that she, too, has learned a trick, and turns one of her hands around 360 degrees in a similar fashion as LaBonge had done before. Mulder asks Scully to explain how, and she brushes him off, saying simply "magic".
Ricky Jay is himself a very famous magician, who is renowned for his ability for sleight of hand and card tricks, as well as a whole host of 'magical' abilities. He has appeared in many shows, done other acting roles and advised on a number of series and films.
Mulder calls the dust in Maleeni's van "lycopodium powder" that the Los Angeles Police Department used to collect fingerprints, but the real LAPD uses latent print powder not lycopodium.
Mulder and Scully are the real magicians here, traveling from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles and getting their first lead on the case - all within 24 hours.
Scully: Why are you talking like Tony Randall?
Actually, Mulder was talking like Felix Unger, the fussy neat freak played by Tony Randall in the 1970-75 comedy series Odd Couple, opposite slovenly Oscar Madison, played by Jack Klugman.
The comedy series, based on the play and movie by Neil Simon, derived most of its humor from the contrast between fussy Felix and Oscar the slouch, two divorced men sharing an apartment. Felix had a very affected and pedantic of speaking.
It was revived for a single, less successful season as The New Odd Couple with Ron Glass as Felix and Demond Wilson as Oscar.
Malini taking a magician's name and then spelling it different is a reference to Houdini. He got his name from the French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin whom he later discredited.
LaBonge: A guy at the turn of the century, Max Malini The Amazing Maleeni was named for real-life magician Max Malini (1875 - 1942). Famous for relying on his own skill rather than props, Malini performed for Kings, Queens, and Millionaires.
- Ricky Jay as Herman/Albert Pinchbeck
- Jonathan Levit as Billy LaBonge
- Robert LaSardo as Cissy Alvarez
- Jim Maniaci as Bullethead
- Rick Marzan as Holding Cell Officer
- Mark Chaet as Bank Officer
- Dennis Keiffer as Bullethead
- Dan Rice as Uniform Officer
- Sherri Howard as Female Employee
- J. David as Young Boss
- Steve Barr as Courier Guard
- Adam Vernier as Driver
SEMICOLON-SEPARATED LIST OF ITEMS/LOCATIONS REFERENCED IN EPISODE (BUT NOT LINKED TO IF ALREADY LINKED IN SUMMARY OR GUEST STARS SECTIONS)