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209 Jose Chung's "Doomsday Defense"

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209 Jose Chung's 'Doomsday Defense'

[MLM209 (5C09)]

Written by Darin Morgan

Directed by Darin Morgan

Edited by James Coblentz

Airdate: 21 November 1997

[Transcriber unknown

Edited by Libby]

[The opening scene is narrated by Jose Chung, and illustrated with a series of still photographs.]

[1st Photograph: An Indian couple holding an infant child. With a beard.]

JOSE: (V.O.) Once upon a time, two East Indian immigrants gave birth to a baby boy, whom they loved very dearly, yet nevertheless named "Juggernaut Onan Goopta". Other than the name, and, uh, the beard, he was a normal boy, who suffered all the usual humiliations of a normal childhood.

[2nd Photograph: Goopta's high school yearbook. With a beard. While the other students have captions and witty remarks under their photos, his is blank underneath except for "Goopy".]

JOSE: (V.O.) Upon graduating high school, he went off to college with a dream of someday becoming a famous neuroscientist. His goal was to be the first to comprehend how the biology of the brain gives birth to the greatest mystery of life: self-consciousness.

[3rd Photograph: Goopta, wearing a surgical mask to hide the beard, holding a model brain in class.]

JOSE: (V.O.) Unfortunately, his own brain could not comprehend basic biology. He quickly switched majors to philosophy; but alas, while reading Kierkegaard's "Sickness Unto Death", he became sick and nearly died.

[4th Photograph: Exterior of "Spotnitz Sanitarium"; then of Goopta in a hospital bed with a typewriter on his lap.]

JOSE: (V.O.) During recovery – though still obviously suffering from dementia – he set forth on a new dream: to become a writer. And his first forays into detective fiction proved so inept, they were mistaken for brilliant parody; and finding immediate publication in the highbrow literary journal, "The Dark Mask."

[5th Photograph: A ridiculously-drawn cover of said magazine; then of Goopta among a group of men, one of whom is a young Jose Chung.]

JOSE: (V.O.) Alongside the work of a talented group of young writers, one of whom would go onto become the leading, literary light of his generation, composing profound stories in a style that made Proust seem pallid.

[6th Photograph: A middle-aged Jose Chung in retrospect.]

JOSE: (V.O.) (excitedly) His loveable flamboyancy made him not only a literary icon, but a cultural one as well!

[7th Photograph: Jose Chung posing with Neil Simon.]

JOSE: (V.O.) Why, he even made a cameo appearance in an award-winning film at Cannes.

[We see footage from the 1969 TV show, "H.R. Pufnstuf". Jose is in a bizarre green mask, playing the character Hoodoo. He hops on a round alien scooter/aircraft, announcing maniacally: "Nobody ever comes out of there alive! Ahahahaa!"]

JOSE: (V.O.) (chuckling) But we're here to focus on Goopta. After the demise of the magazine, Goopta could not sell his work, and he became destitute and suicidal.

[8th Photograph: Goopta is working on a typewriter mounted on the back of the toilet.]

JOSE: (V.O.) Out of pure desperation, he managed – in a single, feverish night – to crank out a book that changed the course of human history: "How to Be Happy, Even When You Shouldn't." It was quickly followed by the bestsellers, "How to Manipulate People by Your Apparent Friendliness", and "How to Overcome Your Fears by Making Others Fear You".

[9th Photograph: Covers of the aforementioned self-help books. Then a final one entitled "Selfosophy" that is modeled after "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard.]

JOSE: (V.O.) And upon the release of his masterpiece, Goopta hit the lecture hall circuit, always preaching to standing room only, for he shrewdly refrained from providing chairs.

[10th Photograph: Goopta at a podium, followed by a series of stills of Goopta gesticulating wildly.]

GOOPTA: (V.O.) (Indian-accented English) Every painful moment in your life casts a shadow across your neurobiology. Until you exterminate these dark memories, you will remain in a negative groove. Thus, those who cannot forget their past, are condemned to repeat it.

[11th Photograph: The same sanitarium, except with a sign that says "Institute of Selfosophy"; then of students in white lab coats wearing strange devices on their heads.]

JOSE: (V.O.) Goopta then opened an institute to help teach people how to become more self-helpful. Patients – who were called "doctors", since the term "patient" has unhealthy associations – learned how to shed the darkness of their minds by mastering therapies taught by the institute's staff, which to inspire a sense of empirical transmigration, is modeled after the U.S. Postal Service.

[Map showing red markers first on Seattle, then Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Then Utah – either Salt Lake City or Morgan County. Then the Utah pin disappears and pins appear all along the California coastline from San Francisco down to the board and covering most of southern California.]

JOSE: The institute proved so popular, Selfosophy branched out, and institutes popped up throughout the nation, and Goopta announced a new evolution to Selfosophy:

[12th Photograph: Goopta wearing a safari hat with his postal uniform, behind him a backdrop of billowing clouds.]

GOOPTA: (V.O.) After wiping away its mind of darkness, the self must then wipe its eternal soul. And since our souls have existed for thousands of years before the advent of Selfosophy, we all have a great deal of wiping to do.

JOSE: (V.O.) The tax-exempt belief system, also evolved its own theology. But I can't tell you what it is – it's a secret. When learning the theology, Selfosophists must undergo a sworn blood oath ritual, which is also a secret.

[13th Photograph: An aged drawing that depicts demons in a meeting.]

JOSE: (V.O.) So this artist's depiction is purely speculative, and surely way over the top; in fact, forget you even saw it.

[14th Photograph: A newspaper with the headline, "Selfosophy: Religion or Rip-Off?"]

JOSE: (V.O.) In any case, all this secrecy and profits drew criticism from some quarters, but these critics were quickly silenced.

[15th Photograph: The same newspaper with the new headline, "Selfosophy: An Uncoerced Retraction".]

JOSE: (V.O.) Either by libel suits, or by what Selfosophists call "knock, knock, zoom, zoom affirmations". There were even some internal criticisms: if a member continues his complaints, he is deemed a "Ratfinkovich", and is excommunicated from Selfosophy.

[16th Photograph: An aging Goopta, with a backdrop of the universe behind him.]

JOSE: (V.O.) In 1979, Onan Goopta molted his earthly encumbrance to pursue his Selfosophical research in another dimension – that means he died of prostate cancer – but the institution he left behind has never been more popular, as we head into the next millennium. A happy, upbeat ending if ever there was one. That is, it was –

[Ratfinkovich's apartment. Jose Chung is seated at a table writing on a tablet, interviewing a young man, Joseph P. Ratfinkovich, who is speaking animatedly. He has the earnest and hopelessly converted look of a religious nut.]

JOSE: (V.O.): – until I re-entered the story. And it's about time! You see, while conducting this research, I was contacted by a recent Ratfinkovich, who, in one of those coincidences found only in real life and great fiction, actually was named Ratfinkovich: Joseph P. Ratfinkovich. And he promised to reveal to me the never-before disclosed secret behind Selfosophy.

RATFINKOVICH: (pausing dramatically) Goopta – is God.

JOSE: That's it? To find out that the ultimate revelation of Selfosophy is that it's god is the guy who invented the damned thing? There's not really much of a "Wow" in that, is there?

RATFINKOVICH: Actually, the "Wow" can lead you to neurospiritual happiness – away from despair, depression. And even flippancy.

JOSE: Please, I assure you that I regard this subject with the utmost respect and seriousness. (he holds his hand up as though taking an oath) You have my word as a writer.

[We see Jose jot down, "Nutball".]

RATFINKOVICH: (brightening) That's why I chose you to confess to. You see, besides Onan Goopta of course, you're my favorite writer.

JOSE: (flattered) Oh?

[Jose adds a question mark to "Nutball?"]

RATFINKOVICH: I have read everything you've ever written, including, um, obviously, your most recent short story. (sheepishly) Which is what got me into all this trouble.

JOSE: Yes. Now, tell me, obviously you still believe in Selfosophy. Do you think it's fair that you were excommunicated just for reading a piece of forbidden fiction?

RATFINKOVICH: Selfosophy has the legal right to cut me off from my beliefs, from my friends. (faltering) From everything.

JOSE: My first novel, it goes without saying, was autobiographical. Yes, it was about me and my closest friends, all writers. The book came out to universal praise; except by my friends. Of all people, they should've understood why I wrote about us. They felt betrayed. (sadly) None of them ever spoke to me again. So, I'm here to tell you that "So Lonesome, You Could Die" is not a mere phrase. I imagine you feel somewhat like that right now.

[The young man takes a deep breath, holds out his hands, palms up, and smiles.]

RATFINKOVICH: I have never been so happy in all of my life.

[We see that Ratfinkovich is crying, the fake smile still plastered on his face. On the tablet, Jose adds an exclamation mark so that it reads, "Nutball?!" Jose tries to smile but ends up holding his head in despair.]

[fade to black]

[main titles]

[fade up]


[Ratfinkovich's apartment. Ratfinkovich's eyes are closed, his face still frozen in the same stupid grin, until a flash from a crime photographer's camera tells us that the young man is dead.]

TWOHEY: Well, at least he died happy.

[Det. Bob Giebelhouse is examining the body, while Det. Twohey lounges in an easy chair reading a girlie magazine, of which there is (no pun intended) a stack on the table.]

GIEBELHOUSE: Yeah, don't let the cadaver's spasm fool you: electrocution ain't no pleasure cruise.

TWOHEY: Maybe that's the connection with these Playpen magazines. (reading) "Mistress November's turn-ons: Guy with a nice smile."

GIEBELHOUSE: Who'd buy so many copies of the same issue of the same nudie mag? (pointing at the corpse with a rolled-up magazine) A pervert with a obsessive-compulsive disorder, that's who. So imagine this poor guy: he's down at the local newsstand.

[begin flashback.]

[Local newsstand – day]

[in Giebelhouse's telling of the story, Ratfinkovich acts out the detective's rendition, so we see him paying the vendor for said stack of magazines.]

GIEBELHOUSE: (V.O.): He's buying another dozen issues 'cause he can't help himself. And who's there to witness this gross display of indulgence?

[An attractive womyn (a.k.a. anti-porn, feminist lesbian) is by the newsstand pretending to read "New Age Woman" magazine, but staring with laser-beams of hate/disgust at Ratfinkovich.]

GIEBELHOUSE: (V.O.): An anti-porn, feminist lesbian. So under false pretenses, she approaches the guy –

[The APFL quickly puts away her magazine and approaches Ratfinkovich, smiling seductively.]

GIEBELHOUSE: (V.O.): – suggesting she give him a personal layout.

[Ratfinkovich's apartment. The pair enter his apartment.]

GIEBELHOUSE: (V.O.): Once back here, she immediately gets down to business.

[The APFL turns on her heels and opens her raincoat, revealing nothing but your basic black Victoria's Secret catalog. Ratfinkovich brings up his hands and signals timeout.]

[End flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment (resume). Twohey is signaling timeout to Giebelhouse, who is holding open his trench coat, playing the role of the APFL.]

TWOHEY: Timeout. I thought you said she was an anti-porn, feminist lesbian.

GIEBELHOUSE: Yeah. She's one of those sexy, good-looking kinds.

TWOHEY: Yikes.


[begin flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment.]

GIEBELHOUSE: (V.O.): And guess what she's got stashed under her secrets?

[The APFL whips out a cattle prod and begins zapping Ratfinkovich mercilessly.]

GIEBELHOUSE: (VO) A cattle prod. She starts zapping him; he starts screaming "Stop! Stop!" But she can't stop, she won't stop.

[Ratfinkovich lands in the chair where he dies.]

[End flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment (resume). Giebelhouse is standing over the corpse, poking it with the end of the rolled-up magazine as if it were the cattle prod.]

GIEBELHOUSE: She'll never stop 'til every pervert's wiped off the face of the scum-sucking planet!

TWOHEY: (admiringly) What a woman.

FRANK: (O.S.): To know that profile reveals less about the perp than it does about the profiler. Scares me.

[Frank Black enters and stares at the detectives gravely.]

GIEBELHOUSE: Hey, Frank, I probably shouldn't have called ya, but I got a hunch there's something about this case that's millenniumistic.

FRANK: This was done by someone the victim was familiar with. He'll end up being very similar to the victim in many ways – age, education, income.

[Flash of Ratfinkovich screaming.]

FRANK : This was a torture session; something to gain information. Maybe a shady business deal.

JOSE: (O.S.): (like a game show buzzer) Ehh!

[Reveal Jose, his arm propped nonchalantly on a bookshelf.]

JOSE : Anyone else care to try "Crime Scene Scenarios" for $500? Instead of taking pictures of the victim's body, you should photograph his bookshelves. A person's death says nothing about their life, but the books say it all.

GIEBELHOUSE: (proving his point) Oh, yeah? Not mine: I don't got no books.

JOSE: Exactly.

GIEBELHOUSE: Don't disturb the crime scene.

[Jose picks up a book. The cover reads: "Dance on the Blood-Dimmed Tide by Onan Goopta".]

JOSE: Rocket McGrain: a roving, freelance, forensic profiler. Of all the absurd nonsense. Written by the same man who created Selfosophy.

GIEBELHOUSE: Yeah, I don't care who's on the book. Who the hell are you?

FRANK: Jose Chung. (to Jose) Back in high school, I read your book, "A Lapful of Severed Tongues" about ten times.

JOSE: (smiling) Oh. (then, bending close to Frank) That's the worst book I ever wrote.

[Frank Black rebuffed is not a sight we're accustomed to. He gestures to the body.]

FRANK: (moving on gracefully) What is your involvement with the, uh, victim?

[Jose's demeanor shifts. Head bowed, he answers shakily:]

JOSE: I am responsible for his death. I have been in town doing research for my new book, which examines newly- arising belief systems at the end of the millennium.

GIEBELHOUSE: (to Frank) What'd I tell ya?

JOSE: Playpen is running a segment, page 162. A short story that has offended Selfosophists.

TWOHEY: (flipping through the magazine) So that's what they put in these back pages?

JOSE: Unable to halt distribution, they sent their members out to buy all available copies, so that this blasphemous story could not be read by unsuspecting masturbators.

FRANK: He didn't just buy the magazines, he read the story. And he liked it. Confession led to his excommunication and he got in touch with you to talk about Selfosophy's hierarchy.

JOSE: (impressed) How in the world did you deduce all of that?

FRANK: I'm a roving, freelance, forensic profiler.


GIEBELHOUSE: I still ain't heard how this guy got fried.

JOSE: After I left – after arranging the meeting for tonight – I imagine that Mr. Ratfinkovich received another visitor.

[begin flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment. Ratfinkovich sits at his table and addresses someone who we do not see yet.]

RATFINKOVICH: Boy, am I glad to see you. I haven't talked to anybody since they kicked me out!

[Roland Smooth, a fellow Selfosophist, opens his briefcase and brings out a strange device that resembles a demented cassette player. Ratfinkovich looks at it nervously.]

RATFINKOVICH: Don't you think it would be better if we talked on a more personal level?

[end flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment (resume)]

GIEBELHOUSE: What does he pull out of the case?

JOSE: An Onan-o-Graph.

FRANK: Selfosophists claim it's a self-therapeutic device used to modify emotional states. Basically, it's a cassette player used to register the user's emotional response to questions asked on tape.

GIEBELHOUSE: That's a lie detector.

JOSE: With a cassette player!

[begin flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment. We see the name of the cassette in the Onan-o-Graph: "How to Repent and Move On". Ratfinkovich is wearing a headset that also covers his eyes – it is the same device that the Selfosophists in the Teaser were wearing. Smooth watches closely. We hear the announcer's voice (who projects authoritarianism, yet could sell lite beer) play on tape.]

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: Do you harbor any bitterness towards Selfosophy?

RATFINKOVICH: No. I understand why they had to …

[The machine beeps and repeats the last question.]

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: Do you harbor any bitterness towards Selfosophy?

RATFINKOVICH: Yes. But only because …

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: Take a moment to reflect on your current state: Are you feeling anxious? Confused? Nervous?

RATFINKOVICH: Very much so.

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: So, obviously, this bitterness is not making you feel any better. Now, doesn't it seem wiser to not feel bitter?

RATFINKOVICH: (thinking) Well, yes! Yes, I guess it does.

[smooth nods approvingly.]

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: Have you shared this misguided bitterness with any non-Selfosophists?

RATFINKOVICH: (quickly) No, that's against the rules!

[The machine beeps and repeats the question.]

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: Have you shared this bitterness with any non-Selfosophists?

RATFINKOVICH: (suddenly) Yes!

[smooth's smile disappears, anger washing over his features.]

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: Was this non-Selfosophist a member of the media?

[Ratfinkovich lifts up the headset and sees Smooth's expression.]

RATFINKOVICH: Roland, you look like you're thinking negative thoughts. Please don't be dark.

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: Was this non-Selfosophist a member …

RATFINKOVICH: (breaking down) It was Chung! It was Jose Chung! I didn't have anyone …

[suddenly, the headset short circuits, sending deadly shocks into Ratfinkovich's head. Smooth immediately rushes to the side of the room and unplugs the device from the wall socket, but it's too late. He walks back to the table and studies the dead man for a moment; then holds out his hands, palms up and smiles.]

[end flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment (resume)]

GIEBELHOUSE: Why does he do that with his hands?

JOSE: Whenever he thinks a negative thought, the gestures remind the Selfosophist to think the complete opposite thought.

GIEBELHOUSE: So then what'd he do?

[begin flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment. Smooth puts the Onan-o-Graph back in his briefcase and shrugs in a kind of "Oh, well!". Tucking the briefcase under his arm, Smooth gives the dead man a pat on the back and leaves.]

[End flashback.]

[Ratfinkovich's apartment (resume)]

FRANK: I'm sorry. I seriously doubt that this device would malfunction in this way.

JOSE: I know they can't; I was merely being fanciful.

GIEBELHOUSE: "Fanciful"? You mean you don't have any proof that's what happened here?

JOSE: Proof? I was making it up as I went along.

[Frank and Giebelhouse share annoyed looks.]

GIEBELHOUSE: Frank, don't these Selfosophists got a headquarters downtown?

FRANK: Yeah, you mind if I come along with you?

JOSE: Gents, be careful: these Selfosophists can be very evasive. And persuasive.

GIEBELHOUSE: Yeah, well, we know how to question someone to get what we want out of them.

JOSE: So do they.

[We end the scene on the dead man's grinning face and cut to:]

[selfosophist's headquarters. A similarly grinning face – very much alive but just as annoying. This is Robbinski, a weird, Brylcreemed Selfosophist, who speaks and chuckles in a nasal, rapid-fire fashion without coming up for air. Outfitted in an ill-fitting dress shirt and tie, he just screams "creepy".]

ROBBINSKI: Heh-heh, that is a very perceptive point, Detective, but our therapeutic techniques are patented for that very reason. If a disgruntled ex-member tries to make them public, we would simply sue that person to the fullest extent of, but in full accordance with, the law. Heh-heh, furthermore, just because your suspect might coincidentally be a Selfosophist, I don't think it's fair to place Selfosophy itself under suspicion.

[Robbinski stands and comes around the desk, revealing a pair of Boy Scout-influenced shorts.]

ROBBINSKI: In fact, if you continue to do so, we may have to regard this harassment as a form of discrimination, and sue you to the fullest extent of, but in full accordance with, the law. But I'm positive it won't come to that, since by very definition, a Selfosophist is incapable of murder. Selfosophy teaches how to rid oneself of thoughts concerning others and focus on what is most important: yourself.

[He points to a movie poster, "Mr. Ne'er Do Well", whose star looks exactly like David Duchovny with a gun and stupid grin.]

ROBBINSKI: For example, you're familiar with the films of Bobby Wingood? Bobby used to be an out-of-work actor – high on drugs, beating up paparazzi because they wouldn't take his picture. Then he found Selfosophy. Learned how to reject rage and anger, and focus on more meaningful emotions.

[Robbinski steps up to another movie poster of a suave Wingood in the movie "Operation Box Office".]

ROBBINSKI: Now he's rich and famous and dating high-price fashion models. In fact, many of Hollywood's elite are Selfosophists, so I ask you: how could a religious order with ties to Hollywood be involved in anything immoral? But don't worry, detectives: I think I have something that will prove useful to you.

[Robbinski picks up two copies of a Selfosophy book "The Power of Positive Negation" from his desk.]

ROBBINSKI: Detective, you obviously possess many unique skills, but I sense that your negativity is holding you back. Are you aware how often you use negatively-associated words?

GIEBELHOUSE: (proving a point again) Uh, no, I don't neither.

[Robbinski hands one of the books to him.]

ROBBINSKI: And Mr. Black, your profound solemnity is a sure sign of a noble nature, but people are reluctant to open up to dark, gloomy brooders.

FRANK: (flatly) They are?

[Robbinski hands a copy to Frank as well.]

ROBBINSKI: Gentlemen, I can tell that you'd do almost anything to find this killer of yours, but what are you willing to do to find yourselves?

[Frank's house – night. On the bed is the Selfosophy book. Panning up, we see Frank reading Playpen magazine. The page is open to Jose Chung's article.]

JOSE (V.O.): Every unhappy person is unhappy in their own way. Happy people are all alike, especially Selfosophists, whose positive-thinking therapies make every day a beautiful day.

[smooth's bedroom – early morning. Smooth is sound asleep – until the alarm blares, and an annoying rock-and-roll tune plays loudly. He wakes up, and smiles cheerfully.]


[We cut to the bathroom, where he is brushing his teeth. He smiles at his reflection.]

SMOOTH: This is the 27,466th time I've had to brush my teeth, and I never get tired of it!

[Car. Smooth is stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and is still predictably grinning like an idiot.]

SMOOTH: Oh, boy! A traffic jam! (beeping his horn cheerfully) And road construction to boot!

[Newsstand. Smooth closes the newspaper he was reading, his expression faltering for a moment.]

SMOOTH: Darn. (smiling again) It's not whether my team won or lost, it's how they played the game!

[The vendor looks at him questioningly, probably thinking, "Nutball." Smooth spots the article in the Playpen magazine and reads it.]

JOSE (V.O.) Nevertheless, even a positive-thinking, goal-oriented entrepreneur like Napoleon, had his Waterloo.

SMOOTH: (reading) "Every unhappy person is unhappy in their own way. Happy people are all alike, especially Selfosophists."

[Again, he tries to buck himself up.]

SMOOTH: Sometimes it's good to laugh at yourself. Keeps you humble.

[Then, throwing Selfosophy to the wind, Smooth shreds the magazine in his hands, and starts whaling on the stack of Playpens. The vendor simply tallies up every magazine he destroys.]

[smooth's apartment. We see the Onan-o-Graph playing a tape called "How to Subdue Your Homicidal Rage". Smooth is pacing, seething underneath the headset.]

ANNOUNCER: Since you can't control others, isn't it more productive to control your feelings towards them?

SMOOTH: Chung ridiculed everything that I hold sacred! With Selfosophy so close to respectability, the damage could …

[The Onan-o-Graph beeps.]

ANNOUNCER: Since you can't control others, isn't it more productive to control your feelings?

SMOOTH: He makes fun of using the Onan-o-graph!

ANNOUNCER: (loudly) NEG– (then calmly) Negative feelings directed at others is never constructive; instead of giving out hatred, why not give a gift? Even if it's unappreciated, you'll feel better about yourself, won't you?

[smooth takes off the headset and puts it down with a sigh. Then picks up a clown doll.]

SMOOTH: Yeah! I'll send this writer a gift, just to show him that we can take a joke. Even if that joke is a sad, spiteful, stupid piece of sh…

[Frank's house – night. The phone rings and Frank picks it up. We intercut between Frank's home and Jose's hotel room.]

FRANK: Frank Black.

JOSE: Mr. Black? This is Jose Chung. I hope you don't mind my calling you, but Det. Giebelhouse gave me your number.

FRANK: No, not at all. In fact, I was just reading your story.


FRANK: It's amusing. Although I'm not too sure I'm comfortable with the tone.

JOSE: I'll take that as an unqualified rave! (beat) Mr. Black, the reason I'm calling you is, I received something in the mail that I think you will find of some interest.

[Reveal a box containing the clown doll with every conceivable deadly weapon known to man sticking out of it. (Ed: Well, about 10 knives.)]

[fade to black]

[fade up]

[Jose Chung's hotel room – night. The impaled clown doll sits on a table between Jose and Frank.]

JOSE: Yet another pretty example of life imitating the very art it condemns.

FRANK: You don't seem very disturbed by this.

JOSE: A writer wants his work to affect people. You'd prefer the effects not be expressed by death threats, but beggars cannot be choosers. Besides, the antagonist in my story sends many such threats before acting upon them.

FRANK: Just because this person copycatted one element doesn't mean he's going to follow the whole story.

JOSE: Well, let's hope he doesn't follow the ending. (then off Frank's blank look) You, uh, didn't read the whole story, did you?

FRANK: Well ...

JOSE: The Selfosophist psycho finally confronts the writer, killing him. The police give chase, but because he keeps a positive attitude: "I can get away, if I think I can get away", he gets away.

FRANK: That's very downbeat.

JOSE: Life is downbeat, Monsieur Noir.

[We hear Frank's beeper, and he stands to leave.]

FRANK: I've got another case, Mr. Chung, so all I can really advise is …

JOSE: You know, your work is utterly fascinating to me. Do you think it's possible I could tag along? I mean, just as an observer, of course.

FRANK: Is the only reason you're interested in me because I'm involved with …

JOSE: The Millennium Group? I've become aware of your mysterious little group. But, no, I have no plans to include them in my millennium book. (holding up his hand, two fingers raised in the Scout's salute) You have my word as a writer.

[Professor Randi's office – night. Peter Watts, Giebelhouse and the police are going through the office of Professor Amos Randi. Said occupant is slumped facedown on his desk, dead.]

GIEBELHOUSE: (to Watts) You know, you can learn a lot about a person from the books on their shelves. Campus security told me this guy taught comparative religions. It wasn't until I saw these Nostradamus books that I realized this case was millenniumistic.

[Watts stops his examination and slowly turns to look at Giebelhouse. Frank enters.]

WATTS: Frank. Thank God you're here. It's Amos Randi, the Nostradamus scholar.

FRANK: I've consulted with him a few times.

WATTS: So did the Group. The police were thinking disgruntled student; we think otherwise.

FRANK: It may have been a student, but this is not about grades.

[Frank examines the body and finds a slip of paper in the shirt collar. He pulls it out and unfolds it. It's a page ripped from a book. Someone has written on it.]

FRANK: (reading) "Blood rains upon the first ignorant tyrant; second falls with voice in holy woods; third anti-Christ destroyed to serve man."

WATTS: Lines from Nostradamus?

FRANK: Phrases from different quatrains all jumbled up. This is from a book somewhere in this room. It looks like he's targeted victims he considers Nostradamus' three anti-Christs.

WATTS: The first ignorant tyrant probably meant the professor.

[Giebelhouse finds the book and hands it to Frank, who matches the torn page.]


FRANK: The page fits: this must be the attacker's book.

JOSE: Then the killer can't be a student.

FRANK: How do you know?

JOSE: (pointing at the book) Dog-eared pages; highlighted passages; margin notations. This book has actually been read – it can't be a student's.

WATTS: Uh, Frank, can I consult with you for a – ?

[They move out of earshot and then aside to Frank:]

WATTS: Who is that rather peculiar man?

FRANK: It's the writer, Jose Chung. He's here researching a book about the millennium.

WATTS: The Millennium Group's not interested in publicity.

FRANK: No, no, not about our Group. Not about us. In fact, he's working on a case that could be of great interest to the group. A Selfosophist was found …

WATTS: (alarmed) Whoa, Selfosophy? No, no, Frank, no, no.

FRANK: What is going on, Peter? We've never backed away from anything. Why, we've even looked at evil incarnate.

WATTS: Evil incarnate can't sue. All I'm saying is be careful what you say around your writer friend.

[inside the room, Jose is holding court to the officers.]

JOSE: So, imagine the girlfriend going off to college: discovering all these new ideas and brilliant professors. The blue-collar boyfriend tries to read some of her books; you know, to show that he has an interest in her interests. So the girl breaks off the relationship; the boy's world is shattered. His own personal apocalypse. But in his madness, he finds – now this is very good – in his madness, he finds an explanation for his unhappiness. Nostradamus, you see, wasn't predicting world events: he was predicting the cataclysmic events of this poor boy's life. So fulfilling the prophecies as he interpreted them, he kills his ex-girlfriend's teacher. With a pickaxe.

FRANK: What the hell's going on here?

JOSE: I'm profiling.

FRANK: Based on what?

JOSE: The coded message: I cracked it. You see the "voice in holy woods" refers to the Hollywood Moviehouse Theater, currently showing an Orson Welles Film Festival. Orson Welles was the voiceover narrator of a film called "The Man Who Could See Tomorrow." A documentary about Nostradamus.

FRANK: Mr. Chung, can I have a word with you just for a moment?

JOSE: Certainly, yes. (to Giebelhouse) Excuse me, please.

[The two move outside the room.]

JOSE: I thought that was very good.

FRANK: I thought you promised you'd be an observer here.

JOSE: That was before I realized how similar our jobs are. You see, based on some vague details and notions, you try to sketch out a person's past, in order to imagine their future actions. Detection, dramaturgy: it's all the same.

FRANK: Yeah. You can't erase blood.

[With that, Frank steps back inside; puts on a pair of gloves and begins to examine the body.]

JOSE: "Don't be dark," say Selfosophists. But how can you not be, when your job is to …

[Jose Chung's hotel room – night. Jose balls up a piece of paper and throws it aimlessly away.]

JOSE: (V.O.) The agony and humiliation of being a human is in every line I've ever written. And it's written in every line in the face of Frederick Blork.

[Frank's house – night. Frank is studying the Ratfinkovich file.]

JOSE: (V.O.) God, I love his face. Not in that way – no one could love his face that way – it's hideous! But, beauty is not always found in the beautiful; just as sanity is not always found in the insane.

FRANK: (V.O.) There is nothing to connect Ratfinkovich's assailant with Chung's threatener, and yet, such a frustrated reaction to the story suggests someone unaccustomed to insubordination. His profession might be dictatorial in nature, complete control over his underlings – a management executive or a foreman.

[Coffeehouse – day. Smooth is typing excitedly on his laptop using a screenplay program.]

FRANK: (V.O.) Or maybe, a writer.

SMOOTH: (V.O.) "Newton: 'Mr. Chong is writing. He is not to be disturbed by anyone.' McGrain: 'By anybody? I'm Rocket McGrain!' McGrain punches Newton right in the balls, knocking him out!" (then, to himself) Boy, my writing's really improved since I got this new software! "Dissolve to: Int. Rico Chong's Office - Night."

[Jose's hotel room – night. The entire floor is littered with balled-up wads of paper. Jose looks utterly abject.]

SMOOTH: (V.O.) In his palatial office, the cocky hack cranks out more venomous fiction, cackling with snotty glee.

JOSE: (V.O.) (sigh) This book will be the death of me. I just can't write anymore. What possessed me to want to be a writer anyway? (pours a shot of whiskey) What kind of a life is this? What else can I do now, with no other skills or ability? (he puts two effervescent tablets into the whiskey) My life has fizzled away. Only two options left: suicide or become a television weatherman.

[suddenly inspired, he picks up his pen and starts writing.]

JOSE: (V.O.) Like television weathermen, giving information one could gather simply by looking out the window, forensic profilers provide little of practical value. Mr. Blork, however, not only intuits specific details, but to better comprehend a particular pathology, he's willing to submit himself to that very madness.

[Frank's house. Frank has put on the headset and is using the Onan-o-Graph. The cassette reads: "How to Not be Dark."]

ANNOUNCER: And utilizing these copyrighted techniques will help brighten the darkness of your mind. Let us now try an easy visualization therapy. Are you ready?

FRANK: Yeah.

[The machine beeps pleasantly.]

ANNOUNCER: Good. Picture in your mind something you've seen recently that disturbed you. It can be a stain on your favorite shirt, or a scratch on your new car. Just close your eyes and try to picture an unpleasant image.

[Frank has a massive onslaught of horrific flashes: a man on fire in the woods, then close to; the Gehenna devil lunging toward him; a man lying on the ground covered in blood; the Gehenna devil again; a bloody hand and a knife cutting out a man's tongue; a drop of blood falling; a man in a sea of flames; the Gehenna devil again; the nurses with cut throats as seen by Fabricant. He slowly lifts off the headset.]

ANNOUNCER: Have you pictured an image? Good. Now picture a deflated beach ball.

[still reeling from the images, Frank wipes his face wearily.]

ANNOUNCER: Inflate this beach ball with your disturbing image. Now, push this dark beach ball away from you; just push that ball and watch it float away from your mind. That's it: keep pushing that unpleasantness away.

[Frank pushes away the machine, sending it crashing to the floor, halting the ingratiating voice. The phone rings and Frank picks it up.]

FRANK: Frank Black.

GIEBELHOUSE: (on phone) Hey, Frank, it's Giebelhouse. I don't mean to be too downbeat here, but we got another dead body.

[Giebelhouse is stood outside his car in a darkened city street, reading Jose Chung's book.]

[fade to black]

[fade up]

[Movie theater – night. The marquee reads: "Orson Welles Festival, Tonite, 'The Third Man' ". Inside the ticket booth is a dead girl. Giebelhouse is relaying the report to Frank.]

GIEBELHOUSE: The ushers say it was her ex-boyfriend. They tried to stop him, but he escaped down a sewage drainage ditch.

FRANK: Was she a student of Dr. Randi's?

GIEBELHOUSE: Yeah, but she was an English Lit major. Which is why she was reading Chung's book, I guess.

[Giebelhouse shows Frank a set of photo booth pictures of the dead girl with her boyfriend, who looks like the late Frank Zappa with a straight perm.]

GIEBELHOUSE: That's the guy there.

FRANK: They look so happy together.

GIEBELHOUSE: Well, you see that just goes to show: happiness is not a given. You've got to strive to maintain your upbeatness.

FRANK: Have you been reading Selfosophy books?

GIEBELHOUSE: (defensively) It's investigative research. Don't be so dark.

[Giebelhouse yanks the book out of Frank's hands and walks away. Watts approaches.]

WATTS: Well, we positively ID'd the guy; now we just have to … (off of Frank's distracted look) What's the matter?

FRANK: This Selfosophy thing ...

WATTS: Frank, you have to focus on your priorities. We have still got to track down this killer before he attacks his third targeted anti-Christ as your profile predicted.

FRANK: No, it was Chung's profile that predicted this murder.

WATTS: Are you suggesting that we recruit Jose Chung to be in the Millennium Group?

[Jose's hotel room. Jose is propounding yet another theory on Frank.]

JOSE: I've come up with a new profile: my secret admirer is a writer.

FRANK: That conforms with my profile. How'd you come up with that?

JOSE: He sent me another gift today.

[He holds up a book entitled "The Hacked-Up Hack" by Onan Goopta, and hands it to Frank.]

JOSE: Now read the inscription.

FRANK: (reading) "Here's what a real writer does: enlightens while he entertains. Plus, the murder victim is a famous author, hint, hint."

JOSE: Only the writer would say that. A writer needs everybody to read and love his work, even people he wants to kill.

FRANK: This was written by Onan Goopta?

JOSE: Ghost-written. And ghost-bought by Selfosophists. On a regular basis, they go into stores and buy multiple copies of Goopta's books just so they land on the best-sellers lists. It's so brilliant! You know, I've been thinking of creating my own army of surplus book buyers. (gesturing hypnotically) Frank, come join me.

FRANK: Mr. Chung, the continuation of your threatener's …

JOSE: Maybe he'll be there tonight.

FRANK: Be where tonight?

JOSE: Oh, I'm doing a signing at Bartleby's Books.

FRANK: Mr. Chung, you're already courting disaster by staying here, let alone making a public appearance.

JOSE: Monsieur Noir, unlike profiling serial killers, writing is a very depressing and lonely profession. Any chance I get to make contact with my readers I must take! It gives me the will to go on.

[bookstore – night. It is stone-cold empty. Jose is sitting dejectedly at a table, surrounded by stacks of his books. Frank sits nearby.]

JOSE: This is how it will all end: not with floods, earthquakes, falling comets or gigantic crabs roaming the earth. No, doomsday will start simply out of indifference.

[Frank nods sympathetically.]

JOSE: I'm sorry. I guess I'm a little bitter because NOBODY CAME FOR ME TO SIGN MY FREAKING BOOKS!

[Jose gets up and starts wandering through the desolate store. Frank follows.]

FRANK: If you don't mind my asking: you're writing a book about the millennium, and yet you don't believe in any of the prophecies?

JOSE: At the start of the nineties, they predicted major breakthroughs for the neurosciences: the "Decade of the Brain" it was supposed to be. Instead, it was the decade of body-piercing. Now why should the millennium predictions be any more accurate?

FRANK: But there's the religious component. Do you not believe in God either?

JOSE: Oh, there are times when I've been, yes, a devout believer. And other times I have been a staunch atheist, and sometimes I've been both, during the same course of the same sexual act.

FRANK: (smiling) Don't be dark. Personally, I think this is a very significant time in mankind's history.

JOSE: But that's what every man throughout history has said about his time. Look (gesturing around him) at all these books – so much significance – but will they still exist a thousand years from now? One, maybe two writers will still be read. Can you name the two?

FRANK: Well, Shakespeare and …

JOSE: That's one.

FRANK: Shakespeare and Chung.

JOSE: (chuckling appreciatively) No. Thank you. No. Shakespeare and Goopta.

FRANK: Goopta?

JOSE: Selfosophists have gone to great lengths to safeguard the eternal circulation of his writing. They may not be read by the end of the next millennium, but they still certainly, certainly will literally exist.

FRANK: How the hell will they preserve these for that long?

JOSE: If I told you, I would have to kill you. (shaking his head) Oh, I wish that was a joke.

[Jose throws an arm over Frank's shoulder as they walk out of the store.]

FRANK: I'm sorry I haven't read more of your books.

JOSE: Oh, I'm sorry I had to cut you and your group out of my new book.

FRANK: You said you weren't going to write about … You cut us out?

JOSE: I just didn't feel you were millenniumistic enough.

[smooth emerges from an aisle, just missing the two men. Smiling, he spots the Selfosophy display and begins filling his arms with dozens of books.]

[Frank's bedroom. Frank is in bed reading "The Hacked-Up Hack".]

FRANK: (V.O.) (reading) It was the 37th murder by the same serial killer, but no one knew who he was or why he killed. One thing's for sure: he had tons of unresolved personal problems. The victim was a famous writer, but the cops didn't have a clue why he'd been targeted. The mood was very bleak, until ...

[Famous writer's hotel room. Giebelhouse, Twohey and a few others are working the crime scene. We cannot see the identity of the famous writer in question since he is lying facedown at his desk, but it appears to be Jose. A mysterious man in a blue trench coat kicks in the door and enters with a swagger. Reveal Rocket McGrain (who looks amazingly like a bleached-blonde Frank Black and could out-creep Robbinski).]

MCGRAIN: Boys, boys, boys, lighten up: this is a homicide, not a funeral. Hah-hah!

GIEBELHOUSE: (gravely) McGrain, thank God you're here. We got a real ugly case.

TWOHEY: (to McGrain) Wanna view the body?

MCGRAIN: (holding up a hand) Is there blood?

TWOHEY: His trachea was ripped out – of course there's blood.

MCGRAIN: Then thanks, but no thanks. Whatever goes in the peepers ends up in the neurobiology: I only look at things that are pretty.

[speaking of which, McGrain turns to the pretty female crime photographer.]

MCGRAIN: Say, would you like to come back to my apartment and take my portrait? (winking) Bring a wide-angle lens.

TWOHEY: But you just can't close your eyes to the darkness, the bleak side of life.

[McGrain drops to one knee and karate-punches Twohey in the crotch. He goes down like a rock.]


MCGRAIN: I'm Rocket McGrain and I do whatever I want to maintain my upbeatness.

GIEBELHOUSE: Yeah, well, that's all well and good, but we got a murder to solve.

MCGRAIN: This case is a piece of cake with ice cream on the side! Ha-ha!

GIEBELHOUSE: Are you going to use your special profiling powers?

MCGRAIN: I don't need to! I know what killed this writer: his own bad writing! He wrote downbeat stories about depressed people doing dark things. Who wants that? People don't want to know how rotten mankind is: they want to be enlightened while they're being entertained. That's what real writers do: to serve man.

[Frank's bedroom. Frank puts the book down and dials Watts' number.]

WATTS: Watts.

FRANK: Peter, call Giebelhouse and meet me at Jose Chung's hotel room, now. One of his titles is "To Serve Man."

WATTS: (on phone) I hope you're not going to tell me it's a cookbook.

FRANK: It is the book the girl in the theater was reading. Chung is the killer's third anti-Christ.

[fade to black]

[fade up]

[Jose's hotel room – night. Jose is typing at his desk. The phone rings and he rips the cord out, then begins typing again. Suddenly, Smooth kicks the door open. Jose looks up, not fazed in the least.]

JOSE: Oh! Rocket McGrain, I presume.

SMOOTH: Writing more blasphemy about Selfosophy?

JOSE: I'm trying to, but it's awfully noisy in here.

SMOOTH: You know, you're exactly how I imagined you.

JOSE: As are you! Although I didn't expect such a flair for the dramatic.

SMOOTH: Cranky, miserable, sarcastically bitter.

JOSE: I'm always grouchy when facing a deadline.

SMOOTH: Maybe that's because you call it a "deadline". You might react more positively to them if you called them a "liveline", or "birthline".

JOSE: If you're here to kill me, fine. But please refrain from murdering the English language.

SMOOTH: Well, I'm pretty handy with the language myself. In fact, maybe I'll create a new definition for "deadline".

[smooth pulls out a gun and aims it at Jose. Jose rolls out the paper he was typing and sets it on the table with a flourish.]

JOSE: Too late! I'm done.

SMOOTH: As if I'd allow you to publish our secrets –

[smooth begins throwing Chung's papers across the room.]

SMOOTH: – to ridicule all our beliefs.

JOSE: It's not just your beliefs. I ridicule a whole bunch of other beliefs.

SMOOTH: Why?! Why bring pain to people who are trying to wipe away their pain and find true happiness?

JOSE: If I used your therapies to wipe away my pain, I'd disappear! And if my right to choose amusement wherever I want – if that were wiped away, too, I'd die!

SMOOTH: Oh, you'll die, all right.

JOSE: You're supposed to say that line more out of the side of your mouth. "Oh, you'll die, all right."

[Jose gets up and goes over to the bed.]

SMOOTH: This is all just a lark to you, isn't it?

JOSE: Certainly not. Humorless people like you scare the hell out of me. But I've developed a few therapies of my own. I've learned to appreciate the preposterousness of any profundity. And in my distress, I am able to find the smallest, most absurd details. As if God were looking down, winking at me, and letting me in on the joke.

SMOOTH: Well, my god doesn't wink.

[Jose sits on the bed and stretches out on it.]

JOSE: Don't I know it. I once knew your god. He worshipped me. He thought I was a literary genius.

[smooth's face falls.]

JOSE: And I was, then. Then he asked me what I thought of his writing and I told him: "Goopta, you stink." Because he did! I never saw a man, other than myself, a grown man, cry so hard, for so long. I put my arm around him, I said, "It doesn't matter that I don't like your work! It doesn't matter. What matters is that you enjoy doing it, you must do what makes you happy." But I didn't know that what would made him happy would be to be a deity! So you are here to kill me because I once told God to not be dark. Isn't that funny?

[smooth is stunned, and sits on the edge of the bed. Jose gets up and walks over to his desk.]

JOSE: So feel free to use your Onan-o-Graph and your therapies, if that's what it takes to make you happy. And I truly mean that; good luck to you, buddy. But please allow me to wallow in my own misery in peace. And if I should look up from my "downbeat abyss" and find you to be a fool, that's no right for you to commit upon me a foolish act.

SMOOTH: (shaking his head) No, wrong is wrong, happy is happy, death is …

[Jose pulls out a gun, and points it at the Selfosophist.]

JOSE: Inevitable. I believe McGrain would call this "a diversionary tactic."

[Frank kicks in the door to see Jose training his gun on the young man.]

FRANK: (sighing) Who the hell is this?

JOSE: The Selfosophy psycho.

[suddenly, Smooth shoots at Jose but misses, and runs out of the room.]

FRANK: Are you all right?

[Jose nods and Frank pursues Smooth.]

[stairwell. Smooth runs up the stairs where he points his gun at Frank.]

SMOOTH: Die, you dark b*******.

[He pulls the trigger, but nothing happens. He smiles cheerfully.]

SMOOTH: All right! My gun jammed!

[smooth throws his gun at Frank and continues running up the stairs.]

[Jose's hotel room. Jose is on his hands and knees, picking up his papers.]

JOSE: Ohh, maybe it'll read better all jumbled up like this.

[A tall, dark figure armed with a large axe stands in the doorway. He approaches Jose and we see that it is the Frank Zappa look-alike.]

NOSTRADAMUS NUTBALL: A third anti-Christ destroyed – to serve man!

JOSE: Hell's bells!

[Roof. Smooth emerges on the rooftop and runs to the edge, looking over to see if he can make it across to an adjacent building. Frank appears in the doorway and follows his train of sight.]

FRANK: Hey, don't try it! You'll never make it across.

SMOOTH: Not with that negative attitude I won't!


[unfortunately, a positive attitude is no match for gravity, and the moron falls to his death. We hear a car screech. Frank looks over the edge: Giebelhouse gets out of his car and looks at the dead body.]

FRANK: Giebelhouse!

GIEBELHOUSE: (peering up) That you, Frank?

FRANK: Yeah!

GIEBELHOUSE: Who's this?

FRANK: The Selfosophy psycho! He tried to get away!

GIEBELHOUSE: Lookin' really downbeat. Hey, Frank: thanks for the tip. The boys just caught the guy coming out the front!

FRANK: What guy?

GIEBELHOUSE: The Nostradamus Nutball.

[Frank thinks for a moment, then rushes back to Jose's room.]

[Jose's hotel room. Watts is staring at a dying Jose, who is slumped on the floor with a fatal head wound.]

WATTS: Frank.

[Frank kneels next to him, and has flashes of the Nostradamus Nutball striking him with the axe.]

JOSE: (weakly) Fra… Frank ...

FRANK: What?

JOSE: Don't you just love that mustache?

FRANK: Yeah, it's …

[Frank looks up at a confused Watts; when he turns back, Jose is dead.]

[Frank's bedroom – night. Frank is in bed, reading Jose's posthumously released book "Doomsday Defense".]

JOSE: (V.O.) Well, all's well that ends well. Though that's easy for Shakespeare to say – he'll be around for another millennium. But what of our own millennium? Will it all end well? No one of course can know, but that of course doesn't stop anyone from guessing. And the nature of these predictions always revolve around the usual suspects: salvation and/or self-satisfaction. With that in mind, I humbly add my own prophecy of what the dawn of the new millennium shall bring forth: one thousand more years of the same, old crap.

[With that, Frank shuts close the book and turns out the lights.]

[fade to black]

[end titles]


Lance Henriksen (Frank Black)

Megan Gallagher (Catherine Black)

Also Starring:

Terry O'Quinn (Peter Watts)

Stephen J. Lang (Det. Bob Giebelhouse)

Guest Starring:

Charles Nelson Reilly (Jose Chung)

Richard Steinmetz (Mr. Smooth)

Patrick Fabian (Ratfinkovich)

Dan Zukovic (Robbinski)

Also Starring:

Alec Willows (Dt. Twohey)


Sandy Steier (The Feminist)

Scott Owen (Nostrodamus Nutball)

Murray Rabinovitch (Juggernaut Onan Goopta)


David Duchovny (Bobby Wingood)

Music by Mark Snow

Editor: James Coblentz

Production Designer: Mark Freeborn

Director of Photography: Robert McLachlan

Executive Story Editor: Michael R. Perry

Associate Producer: Julie Herlocker

Associate Producer: Jon-Michael Preece

Consulting Producer: Chip Johannessen

Consulting Producer: Darin Morgan

Co-Producer: Robert Moresco

Co-Producer: Paul Rabwin

Producer: Thomas J. Wright

Co-Executive Producer: Ken Horton

Co-Executive Producer: John Peter Kousakis

Written by Darin Morgan

Directed by Darin Morgan

Executive Producers: James Wong & Glen Morgan

Executive Producer: Chris Carter

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