Make your own free website on



A small time magician is found dead after turning his head 360 degrees for an amazed audience. but Mulder and Scullybelieve he was murdered.


Scully's autopsy contradicts her suspicion of murder in the case of a small-time magician who amazed his audience by doing a 360 with his head. While agents Mulder and Scully investigate the gruesome and unexplained death of a magician, they are drawn into the world of magic and illusion and learn that, at first glance, nothing is as it appears to be in "The Amazing Maleeni" Ricky Jay has appeared in Mystery Men, Tomorrow Never Dies, Boogie Nights etc.

Episode Summary

At the Santa Monica Pier amusement park, a magician, The Amazing Maleeni, puts on a sideshow for passers-by, but does fairly basic tricks and talks a lot. A heckler (LaBonge) complains that the tricks are 100 years old and demands something big. Maleeni announces a trick to reattach a severed head, which had been attempted three times before - each time resulting in tragedy. He then rotates his head 360 degrees. The audience is impressed, but LaBonge isn't. Later, when the park employee comes to his van to pay him, he finds Maleeni sitting in his van. Since Maleeni doesn't respond he taps him. Maleeni's head, clean cut, falls to the ground.

Mulder & Scully are at the park looking at the van. Scully is not intrigued. She thinks the trick is unrelated to the subsequent murder. Mulder thinks it is a magic trick gone wrong. 

A tourist videotaped the performance. It shows Maleeni's head turn for the end of the act, and also the heckler, who didn't seem interested in the act. Scully think that he could be the murderer, but did not have any idea who he was. They find a soda cup seen thrown away on the tape and track him down from finger prints. 

His name is Billy Labonge and he has a criminal record for pick pocketing. He also does sleight of hand and claims that Maleeni was a bad magician. Labonge demonstrates a similar trick, rotating his hand 360 degrees, and says Maleeni had little originality or style. He also says Maleeni racked up some big gambling debts. As they leave, Labonge returns both of their badge holders, which he has pick pocketed. Scully thinks that he could have killed Maleeni because of professional jealousy. 

Scully does an autopsy on Maleeni, identified as Herman Pinchbeck, and is bewildered. His head was carefully sawed off and reattached with spirit gum. But he apparently died of a heart attack and had been dead for over a month and refrigerated.

Labonge goes to a North Hollywood pool hall and talks to a man named Cissy Alvarez, whose body is covered with tattoos. They were in prison together. Labonge tells him that he made Maleeni's head to fall off. He tells him that he would get back the $20,000,that Maleeni owed him, times ten, if Alverez would help me due some magic. Alverez isn't interested, but suddenly LaBonge lights his own hand on fire revealing Alvarez's black book, which he was carrying in his breast pocket.

At the Cradok Marine Bank, Mulder and Scully talk to a banker who looks just like Pinchbeck - with a cervical collar around his neck. He is Herman's twin brother, named Albert Pinchbeck. He does a card trick for Mulder and explains that years ago he and his brother worked as a magic act. He was in a recent car accident but Mulder wonders if he was the magician who appeared at Santa Monica Pier as one last act for which his brother would always been remembered. It is revealed that Pinchback is in a wheelchair with no legs as a result of the accident.

The agents go back to Labonge for advice. He tells them that the trick would have been easy. Someone who looked a little like Maleeni performed the trick, diverted the attention of the crowd and pulled out the body from a hiding place. He says he could have easily hid the body underneath the fake floor, but they find nothing under the floor. Mulder finds a gambling marker in the van.

Meanwhile, Pinchbeck visits the bank vault and asks the guard about his gun, examining it briefly. Alvarez walks in and threatens Pinchbeck, saying he wants him to pay his brother's gambling debt. An armored car stops along the street when the guards hear a noise. They open the back and a masked and tattooed man is there. The guard shoots him four times, but the man disappears. It was Labonge - he had fake tattoos on his hands and cleans them off.

The agents question Alvarez about the marker, which they tracked down using the California criminal history fingerprint records. He denies being involved with the murder, and says that it was a friendly poker game that cost Herman $20,000.. Mulder tells Scully he thinks they are subject to a case of misdirection. 

Labonge watches them as they drive off. He places an emergency call to police saying that a man with a gun was trying to kill somebody. He then enters the pool hall where Alvarez threatens him as he thinks that Labonge was trying to frame him by tearing a page from his black book of markers and placing it in Maleeni's van. Labonge runs out, police arrive and arrest him.

Mulder and Scully return to talk to Pinchbeck. Mulder pushes him out of the wheelchair - and it turns out that he does have legs. He is Herman and was afraid for his life because he owes a lot of money. He says that he had played with Alvarez, but he did not want to cheat by manipulating the cards. He went to his brother, the banker, for a loan and found him dead. He saw it as an opportunity to become someone else. He faked the car accident and his loss of legs, so that nobody suspects him.

He is arrested but Mulder doesn't believe his explanation about why. The bank president is concerned that Herman may have accessed the Electronic Funds Transfer system, but he has not. The president comments that for Mulder to investigate the EFT system in more detail would take his badge number, thumbprint and possibly a court order. Scully learns about the armored car robbery attempt - Pinchbeck was the authorizing signature that signed out the truck. In the jail cell at the North Hollywood police station, Labonge is next door to Pinchbeck - they are obviously in league with each other and everything is going perfectly.

At the bank the next morning the vault is found empty. Maleeni's still in the lockup and it doesn't seem that he did it. The security footage is blank between 3:00 and 3:20 a.m., but from two days earlier they find footage of Alvarez in the bank and the guard recognizes his tattoos as the guy who attempted to rob the armored car. At the pool hall, the money is found and Alverez is arrested, but he claims it's a frame-up by Labonge.

Mulder and Scully suspect that Labonge and Pinchbeck may be working together. As they are to be released on bail the agents question them. They think that Labonge was Maleeni's protegee and it was a setup from the beginning. Maleeni wanted revenge against the man (Alvarez) who had made his life in prison a living hell. It was Albert, the banker, who died and Herman, the magician, who took his place. He switched the bullets in the guard's gun clip to be blanks. They used escape artist techniques to get out of jail, stole the money, planted it to frame Alvarez, and got back into jail. But Mulder says they will go free, because it can't be proven. Pinchbeck says, "The great ones always know when to leave the stage." 

After they leave, Mulder tells Scully that there was more to their magic. It turns out, that Mulder has Pinchbeck's wallet, taken from the evidence room. He wondered why they needed so eleborate a set up to draw the FBI's attention. Framing Alvarez was another misdirection. Mulder says it was really about Electronic Funds Transfers, and an FBI agent has the authority to get into the bank EFT system. The magicians had Mulder's badge number from when Labonge pick pocketed it and thumb print from Pinchbeck's card trick, but the playing card (King of Diamonds) is in the wallet, so they will not be able to steal via EFT. 

The final question is how did Maleeni turn his head all the way around. Scully demonstrates how she can turn her arm all the way around, as Labonge did. Mulder is left wondering how she did it. Magic, she replies.  

By Michael Marek and Rohan Seth

Episode Information

David Duchovny Special Agent Fox Mulder
Gillian Anderson Special Agent Dana Scully
Ricky Jay Meleeni
Jonathan Levit LaBonge
Robert LaSardo Alvarez
Mark Chaet Bank Officer
Steven Barr Courier Guard
Adam Vernier Driver

Air Date: 16th January, 1999

Written by Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban
Directed by Thomas Wright


Rohan's X-Files Realm
Visit: Rohan's X-Files Realm