Recap / The X-Files S03 E04 "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose"
Artistic License – History: Though there are conflicting reports about the infamous "Day the Music Died" coin toss, they generally involve Ritchie Valens, not The Big Bopper (but then, Valens didn't sing "Chantilly Lace").
Black Comedy: Bruckman's psychic powers — and his resulting depression from them — is mostly played for rather dark laughs until he kills himself because he can't live with them anymore.
Blessed with Suck: To see how people died and will die might seem awesome and very useful for an insurance salesman. However, it must be painful to live with it, and the creepiness factor is extremely high.
Clyde Bruckman: Now, if you'll excuse me... I think I've seen enough death for one night.
Even this potential benefit is soured when it negatively interferes with his work; turns out, prospective clients get freaked out when you tell them they're going to die two years later in a car accident.
Forgot About the Mind Reader: Played With, and deliberately in an ambiguous way. After being shooed out of a room by a TV psychic for his "negative energy", Mulder meets the psychic in the hallway and shows him what negative energy really is with three words: "Read this thought." He replies: "So's your old man!" Can be Invoked by Mulder (from Yappi's point of view), Subverted (from Mulder's point of view because he doesn't believe that Yappi is a real psychic) or Double-Subverted (if you think Yappi was legit — some evidence suggested he might be).
Foreshadowing: Scully asks Bruckman when she'll die. He responds simply, "You don't." It's not until the Season 6 episode "Tithonus" that we know what he meant.
For the Evulz: Puppet spends the episode insisting he has no idea why he's driven to kill people. Then we get this.
Bruckman: Haven't you figured it out yet? You kill people because you're a homicidal maniac.
Puppet: That does make a lot of sense!
Fortune Teller: Madame Zelda the palm reader, complete with a fake Russian accent and a crystal ball.
Not-So-Phony Psychic: The Stupendous Yappi is so over the top that not even Mulder believes in his abilities. On the other hand, other agents and detectives do, and they in fact follow his super vague leads. Importantly, some of his visions bore similarities with Mr Bruckman's ones, who we know is a real deal psychic, which makes Yappi fit the trope.
Phony Psychic: It's very probable that several of the psychics (Puppet's victims) did not possess any psychic powers. The Stupendous Yappi depends on your interpretation.
Psychic Powers: Mr Bruckman can see how people died/will die. Other psychics may or may not have various degrees of real psychic powers. Including Puppet the serial killer. The tarot card reader played by Alex Daikun seems to be genuine.
Mulder: I'm beginning to lose patience with our psychic, Scully. What good are his prophecies if they're not preventive?
Scully: Actually, I'm starting to feel more sympathetic towards him.
Mulder: So, you're convinced he's a psychic now?
Scully: Well, no, not really... But I am convinced that by thinking he can see the future, he's taken all the joy out of his life.
Seers: Mr Bruckman is a genuine psychic who gained his ability to see and foresee people's death by thinking very intensely about the death of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper and the role a flipping coin had in it.
Detective Cline: Look, all I know is that so far, Yappi has provided more solid, concrete leads on this case than you have. Now if you don't mind, I have to get an APB out on a *checks notebook* white male, aged 17 to 34 with or without a beard and maybe a tattoo ... who's impotent.
Undignified Death: Discussed. When Mulder asks how he's going to die, Bruckman won't give a straight answer, but comments, "You know, there are worse ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation."
Vomit Discretion Shot: Clyde Bruckman runs out of the room and throws up after seeing a vision of the murder. A sign that his visions are a bit more authentic than those of his predecessor, the Stupendous Yappi. However, Scully thinks it's the same routine but in a different style.