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Recap / The X-Files S07 E08 "The Amazing Maleeni"

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Season 7, Episode 08:

The Amazing Maleeni
Looking the other way... is that just a trick, or the theme of the episode itself? If you're asking us, who knows?
Written by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Thomas J. Wright

"Know that the Amazing Maleeni was alive one moment and expired the next. Know also that no one saw his fleeing attacker nor heard the dying man's cries."
Fox Mulder

A small-time stage magician does a trick where his head rotates 360 degrees, and is found dead shortly afterwards, with his head completely separated from his body. Mulder and Scully investigate.


  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: The magician's 360 neck rotation, and the trick done by the rival magician and Scully with her arm.
  • Always Identical Twins: The Amazing Maleeni (real name: Herman Pinchbeck) has an identical twin named Albert who works in a bank.
  • Big Bad Friend: For a given value of Big Bad, anyway. LeBonge forms a civil enough relationship with the agents, "helping" them with the investigation; the plan requires that Mulder and Scully trust him enough to invite him along when Maleeni's things are examined, giving him the opportunity to plant key evidence.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Actual gun. Maleeni switches out the cop's bullets for blanks in an inconspicuous scene early on so that LeBonge would be in no danger during his heist.
  • The Chessmaster: Maleeni and LeBonge both conspire to frame and convict Alvarez and succeed using a very complex plan. They also plan to enrich themselves in the process, but here they end up being Out-Gambitted by Mulder.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Maleeni, aka Herman Pinchbeck, impersonates his dead twin brother, Albert Pinchbeck.
  • Disability Alibi: When Mulder goes to the bank to accuse Albert Pinchbeck of impersonating his brother, Herman, aka Maleeni, concisely rebuts the accusation by moving his wheelchair out from behind his desk and revealing that he's lost both legs from the knee down. It turns out to be a false alibi: it's a trick wheelchair that lets him tuck his legs away without there seeming to be anywhere they could be hidden.
  • Evil Cripple: Subverted. The legless banker/magician in a wheelchair was faking it and he was not majorly bad.
  • Exorcist Head: The magician turns his head 360 degrees. It's speculated that he faked it using his twin's head but it's never fully explained.
  • Fair-Play Whodunnit: As it's about the death of a Stage Magician, there's a fair bit of trickery going on, but the emphasis is on "fair": nothing hinges on something that isn't explained beforehand. In true X-Files style, there's also something unexplained, but it doesn't affect the fairness of the mystery.
  • Faking the Dead: Maleeni performs his trick of turning his head 360 degrees and ends up decapitated. His brother, Albert works in a bank and is an amputee due to a horrific car accident. It turns out that the real Albert died a month ago due to natural causes and Maleeni faked his death and pretended to be Albert ostensibly to escape his gambling debts. Turns out Maleeni's true reason for this deception is slightly more complicated than that.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: One of the rare X-Files episode where nothing supernatural actually happens. Although, nobody ever figured out how Maleeni did his head turning trick.
  • Hidden Depths: Several layers of it with LeBonge, who deliberately presents himself as nothing more than a contrarian jackass in the opening scene; he is much more than he lets on.
  • Impossibly Awesome Magic Trick: Maleeni has a magic trick where he rotates his head 360 degrees. Every other trick performed in the episode is possible in real life.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Maleeni and LeBonge's real plan. Maleeni actually planned to have his Dead Person Impersonation revealed all along so he could get arrested and end up in jail, so that both he and LeBonge would have the perfect alibi for framing Alvarez, namely being locked up in jail on the night the robbery happened. There was even a second level to this, in that framing Alvarez was actually merely a bonus objective, and their true goal was to electronically steal money from the bank. In the end, they are only really halfway successful, as Mulder manages to catch on to both levels of the plan, and manages to foil the electronic robbery.
  • Karma Houdini: Both Maleeni and LeBonge get away with their framing Alvarez since there is no proof but ultimately subverted since they also plan to rob the bank using Electronic funds transfer but Mulder spoils their plan. So, they might not get caught but they did not get away with stealing money either.
  • Lower Half Reveal: In investigating the death of Herman Pinchbeck, agents Mulder and Scully pay a visit to his twin brother Albert at the bank the latter works at. Given that the victim was dead for a while, but the victim was seen performing stage magic just days before, Mulder accuses Albert of impersonating his brother, even though Albert is in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace, claiming to be a victim of a car accident. Albert then gets out of his desk, revealing that both legs were amputated below the knee, causing Mulder to wince at his theory being shot down like that.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: Played with, and ultimately averted.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Maleeni's disguise as Albert Pinchbeck has him use a special wheelchair to conceal his legs and pretend that he lost them in a Mexico car accident.
  • Special Effect Failure: If you're watching this episode in HDTV, the CGI is pretty obvious.
  • Staged Shooting: LeBonge gets himself in prison by doing this to Alvarez, even though he was really holding a bang gun prop.
  • Twin Switch: The Amazing Maleeni (aka Herman Pinchbeck) mentions that he and his twin, Albert, would often employ this as a part of a his magic show, until Albert quit show business and got a steady job. The episode proper sees Herman perform a posthumous on Albert as a part of his scheme.
  • Villainous Friendship: Maleeni and his protege LeBonge, who present themselves as hated rivals to throw off suspicion. The single scene they share alone together when the mask drops is surprisingly heartwarming.

"The great ones always know when to leave the stage."


Video Example(s):


The X-Files S07 E08

The Amazing Maleeni's trick is revealed: the loss of his legs were fake, and he could walk all along.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / ObfuscatingDisability

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