Over the course of nine seasons and 2 feature films, The X-Files transcended its cult status, becoming a phenomenon and cultural touchstone. With a new series on the way, special agent Rick Shingler has accepted the assignment to rewatch the entire series from the beginning and provide detailed reports about his findings. Come with us now, as we explore the mysteries of the complete X-Files. S2E18: “Fearful Symmetry” (w: Steve De Jarnatt/d: James Whitmore, Jr.) This one was probably more trouble than it was worth. The producers went through all manner of hassles regarding the animal use for the episode, which is sort of ironic considering the central message of this episode was one of animal conservation and non-exploitation. In the town of Fairfield, Idaho, overnight cleaners in an office building watch as some sort of invisible force shatters the windows of their building, then tramples and pushes parked cars down the street. The next morning, a trucker drives through the fog toward a delivery when he spots an elephant walking directly toward him. He barely stops the truck in time to avoid hitting it. The elephant moves on and is eventually discovered dropped dead of exhaustion. It is forty miles away from the nearest zoo, where its cage is still securely chained and locked from closing time the night before. Mulder and Scully arrive to question Ed Meecham, one of the zoo’s animal handlers as well as his boss Willa Ambrose. Meecham maintains that the elephant was locked up and secure the night before and there are no signs of tampering with the enclosure. Ambrose tells the agents that the zoo is near closure due to lack of money and the frequent disappearance of their animals. She blames the latter on an animal rights group that is intent on freeing the animals from their cages. They interview Kyle Lang, the leader of the animal rights group, but he denies having anything to do with the elephant’s release. Mulder contacts Byars and Frohike of the Lone Gunmen for information about the area. They tell him that Fairfield has a reputation for animal disappearances as well as UFO sightings. They also mention Sophie, a gorilla that Ambrose rescued and taught to speak using sign language. Back at the zoo, Scully has trailed one of Lang’s men into the big cat enclosure where he attempts to free a tiger. At that moment, there is a flash of light and the tiger seemingly disappears. Then an invisible tiger attacks and mauls its liberator while his camera runs to capture the entire attack. The next morning, Mulder and Scully are introduced to Sophie the gorilla, who cowers in a corner of her cage, afraid of the light. Scully climbs into the dead elephant (no, really) and discovers that the animal was pregnant. Ambrose can’t imagine how it would be possible, as the zoo has a perfect 100% failure rate when it comes to animal pregnancies. Word comes that the missing tiger has been spotted at a nearby construction site (Blake Towers – get it? ‘Cause William Blake wrote the poem Tyger Tyger with the words “fearful symmetry” in it… Ah, forget it. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this episode anyway). The tiger nearly attacks Ambrose, but Meecham shoots it. The next day, the zoo is shut down entirely, and the animals are being parsed out to other facilities. Including Sophie. Mulder spouts the theory that aliens are abducting the animals, impregnating them, and then returning them until they come to term. Sort of a cosmic Noah’s Ark for animals nearing extinction. Or something. Except when they return them, they are somehow out of sync and invisible to the human eye for a time. Scotty let the interns work the transporters, I guess. When questioned, Sophie reveals that her fear of the light stems from the fear that “baby go flying light”. Sophie is pregnant, you see. It’s a gorilla immaculate conception. Hail Sophie, full of grace. Sophie is the next animal to go missing, but this time it isn’t an alien. Unless, of course, Kyle Lang has three belly buttons or something. It turns out he and Ambrose used to be an item, and now he’s helping her to keep Sophie from being returned to the people Ambrose rescued her from by abducting her and locking her up in a warehouse. Meecham and Mulder arrive on the scene. Sophie attacks Mulder, knocking him against the wall. As he loses consciousness, he sees a flash of light and Sophie disappears. The next morning, Sophie’s body is found along a hallway, having been hit by a car. Mulder reiterates his belief that extraterrestrial animal conservationists were behind the happenings of this episode. There’s really not much to say about this episode. It didn’t seem to know if it was a morality play, a modern fable, a story of a girl and her talking gorilla, or some sort of hybrid of “We Bought A Zoo” and early eighteenth century mystical poetry. The teaser was by far the strongest, most attention-grabbing part of the episode. The elephant performer’s name was Bubbles, and there was some concern on the set about Bubbles’ confrontation with the tractor trailer. Everything was staged so that no harm would come to Bubbles (or the truck, for that matter), but it was still anyone’s guess whether she would be willing to come into close proximity with the imposing vehicle. To everyone’s surprise, Bubbles sort of fell in love with the truck and her handlers had a hard time getting her away from it when they were done shooting. Elephants are awesome. S2E19: “Dod Kalm” (w: Howard Gordon (story), Gordon & Alex Gansa (teleplay)/d: Rob Bowman) Quick! That Canadian ship we used in “Colony” and “End Game” is paid up through the end of the month and as locations go, it totally kicks ass. We gotta think of another way to use it. Or something like that. The HMCS Mackenzie was a decommissioned Canadian Navy destroyer that had been loaned to the production team for the interior submarine shots in the earlier two-part episode, and Chris Carter asked Howard Gordon to write something to make use of it before Canada asked for it back. The result was a fairly quiet, yet effective episode with some decent character beats. Everyone but the captain is abandoning the USS Argent into life boats in the Norwegian Sea. The captain tries to stop them, even going so far as to accuse them of treason, but they leave anyway. The crew is picked up by a fishing boat eighteen hours later. When they are brought on board, they appear to have aged at least fifty years since we saw them get onto the life boat. All of the crew die except one, who is brought into quarantine at the Naval hospital in Bethesda. Mulder shoves Scully into the restricted-access ward without so much as a please and she confirms that Lt. Harper is now the world’s only octogenarian twenty-something. Back at the office, Mulder excitedly tells Scully about the history of ship disappearances at the 65th parallel near the coast of Norway. His working theory is that there is some sort of wrinkle in time left over from the Philadelphia Experiment causing the trouble. They take off for Norway, with the intention of asking Skinner for forgiveness rather than permission. When they get to Norway, they find a captain named Henry Trondheim who is willing to take them out to where the Argent disappeared. After twelve hours of listening to Mulder bellyache about seasickness, undoubtedly leading Scully the Navy brat to question some of her life choices, they find the Argent. Correction: they play Titanic to the Argent’s iceberg. They board the ship to find several men below decks that have seemingly mummified to the point of crumbling at Scully’s touch. The ship shows signs of several years’ worth of corrosion and misuse, even though it was commissioned only about three years earlier. They find the captain, still alive, but very, very old. He tells them about the ship passing through some sort of light field and time getting lost. They hear an engine, and discover that Trondheim’s ship has been stolen. They are now stranded on the becalmed, eroding ship. Trondheim is attacked by the guy who would have played Thor if the Marvel Cinematic Universe had happened fifteen years earlier, who hasn’t aged at all, despite having been on the ship for several days, hiding in the sewage treatment hold of the ship. His name is Olafsson and he is a member of a group of pirates that had boarded the ship several days earlier. At this point, Mulder, Scully, and Trondheim have begun to age like Benjamin Button in fast reverse mode. They notice that the sewage pipe is the only one on the ship that hasn’t corroded (which is good news in so very many ways), and discover that Olafsson lack of unnatural aging must be because he was drinking water from the toilet instead of the rest of the ship’s water. And yet dogs age so much faster than humans. It just doesn’t make sense. Scully discovers that the ship’s water is adding massive amounts of sodium chloride to the systems of those who drink it, causing the rapid aging. She tries to ration the drinkable water, but Trondheim pulls a dick move and locks himself in the lower deck with the rest of the drinkable water. The ship’s hull gives way under the strain of age, and the deck Trondheim has barricaded floods. Mulder and Scully lose consciousness as the ship begins to sink. They awaken in the Naval hospital. Scully is informed that her precise notes were what informed the treatment they were given and the rapid aging has been reversed. Both are expected to make a full recovery. When she says she wants to return to the Argent to continue her study, she is told that it sank shortly after their rescue. What shines brightest in this episode is Scully’s medical and scientific acumen. She’s all-in at this point with regard to the weird and seemingly inexplicable, but she refuses to accept that anything is truly beyond explanation. Her unshakable faith in science stands poised as a means to understand things beyond the reasoning of most human beings. She is beginning to realize that the work Mulder has been pursuing ever since he was first allowed access to the X-Files lacks any sense of legitimacy in the cubicles upstairs because no one has ever truly sought to legitimize the work. These cases are shuffled into a basement filing cabinet and marked as “unexplainable” to be forgotten or, at best, pored over during the office Christmas party after three too many egg nogs. At least, that might have been the case until Spooky Mulder came along and set up camp in the office. Hey, maybe everyone at the FBI treats Mulder so poorly because he ruined everyone’s favorite sexytime rendezvous closet by filling it with his UFO posters and porn collection. I might have to go back and watch the pilot again to try to find evidence to support this new theory. S2E20: “Humbug” (w: Darin Morgan/d: Kim Manners) I’m a shameless enough hack that I sort of wish I could begin this writeup with a resounding “Bah!” just for a cheap laugh. But I can’t. I love this episode. It’s a Dutch Uncle to American Horror Story: Freak Show, and a direct descendent from Tod Browning’s 1932 film “Freaks.” It has an angry midget, a geek gnawing on a raw fish, and Gillian Anderson eats a bug. I’m raving. Sorry. I get the feels sometimes. This is the first full script from comedy writer Darin Morgan, brother to Glen Morgan. He had appeared on the show earlier that season as Flukeman, and helped his brother with the script for “Blood.” Chris Carter invited him to join the writing staff of the show, but he thought of himself as strictly a comedy writer and felt unsure of what his contribution to such a serious show could be. He would write a total of four episodes, each one stretching the limits of the show’s capabilities in a different (although always surprisingly comedic) direction. This episode boasted several remarkable guest appearances. One was Vincent Schiavello, the character actor everyone knows has been in practically everything ever made but whose name hardly anyone knows. He was even voted one of the top character actors in America by Vanity Fair in 1997, despite the fact that no one ever realized Vanity Fair had such a list. Oddly enough, he would go on to moonlight on his acting career as a food writer and win a James Beard Journalism Award a few years before his death in 2005. The other guest star this episode was Twin Peaks alumnus Michael J. Anderson. The Man From Another Place appears here as the perpetually angry Mr. Nutt, the owner of the park where Mulder and Scully rent trailers while pursuing their investigation. Jim Rose and The Enigma also appear in this episode. They were both integral parts of the Seattle-based Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, which had enjoyed a featured stage at the 1992 Lollapalooza (the festival’s second year). It would be impossible to discuss this production without mentioning the legendary grasshopper incident. In the script, Scully is supposed to take a grasshopper from a jar and (apparently) eat it. It would be revealed in the next scene that she used sleight of hand and palmed the insect before putting it in her mouth. In shooting the scene, however, Gillian Anderson was supposed to take the grasshopper from the jar, the director would call “cut,” and the insect would be replaced with a candy duplicate for Anderson to pop into her mouth. Before the “cut” could be called, however, Anderson took the actual bug and ate it, much to David Duchovny’s disgust. This scene made the final cut of the episode. This author is unable to determine whether the “no animals were harmed in the making of…” disclaimer appeared in the end credits of the episode. Gibsonton, Florida is the winter haven for a community of sideshow performers. And something is killing the freaks and geeks. Mulder and Scully come to follow up on the death of the “Alligator Man,” who was attacked in his swimming pool. They meet Dr. Blockhead and his buddy The Conundrum. Dr. Blockhead hammers nails into his nostrils and railroad spikes into his chest. The Conundrum is a human garbage disposal. No, not really. I don’t think my garbage disposal could handle an entire raw fish without breaking. As they check into the local trailer park, they meet Mr. Nutt, the manager of the facility, and his lackey Lanny. Lanny is a former sideshow performer himself, boasting an underdeveloped conjoined twin that is attached to his side. The attacks continue, despite the agents’ presence, and Mulder develops a theory involving the Fiji Mermaid. The trouble is, the Fiji Mermaid is a known humbug of the sideshow circuit, a monkey torso attached to a fish tail and promoted by PT Barnum as “a genuine fake”. As Mulder and Scully stumble their way through the case with the help of the local sheriff James Hamilton (formerly known as Jim Jim the Dogface Boy, until his facial hair fell out and his hairline began receding), it comes to be discovered that Lanny’s conjoined twin is dissatisfied with his situation and has been detaching from his brother in the hope of finding a new, less liver-damaged brother, much to Lanny’s dejection. Unfortunately, little bro makes a big mistake by attacking the Conundrum when he’s out looking for a midnight snack. This episode works on so very many levels. It is an opportunity to see the typically unflappable Mulder and Scully spend an entire case out in the cold. Even after they’ve figured out what’s happening, they are unable to achieve any sort of closure for the case. It’s a denouncement of the gentrification of our culture while deftly celebrating the weirdness of the human race. It’s a chance for the X-Files to be self-effacing even as it stays true to its core tenets. We’ll see Morgan perfect this type of X-File storytelling in the third season’s episode “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.” Humbug is funny and freaky and true to itself in every way. S2E21: “The Calusari” (w: Sara B. Charno/d: Michael Vejar) Writer Sara Charno (“Aubrey”) returns with a tidy little horror story which I’m sure caused a sleepless night or two for Fox’s Standards and Practices department. Word has it that the entire story was built around an idea of Chris Carter’s involving someone being hanged by a malfunctioning garage door opener. At an amusement park in northern Virginia, little Teddy Holvey chases an errant balloon onto the tracks of the park’s miniature railroad train. A malfunction of the train’s braking system kills the child as his mother Maggie, father Steve, and brother Charlie look on. Mulder asks his digital imaging expert to look at a photo taken just before the incident, revealing a concentration of electromagnetic force in the vague shape of a child holding pulling the balloon’s string and leading the child along. During a visit to the Holvey home, Mulder debates with the parents whether it is possible that someone or something might have led Teddy onto the tracks. Meanwhile, Scully watches the Golda, the elderly Romanian grandmother drawing a swastika on older brother Charlie’s hand. After a malfunction of the smoke alarm and a power loss, Golda enters the living room and accuses her son-in-law of being the devil and having a devil for a son. Looking at Charlie’s medical history, Scully develops the theory that the Holvey children have been victims of Munchausen by Proxy, a psychological disorder in which a parent or caregiver makes a child sick in order to gain sympathetic attention and/or status in his/her community. If that were the case, she believes it was possible that Golda had been the one to let little Teddy wander off on his own, resulting in his death. After a private conversation with Steve, the father, he agrees to let Charlie see a counselor. Maggie and Golda aren’t so thrilled with the idea. On the way out of the house, Steve’s tie gets caught in the malfunctioning garage door opener, hanging him as a terrified Charlie looks on from inside the car. An inspection of the house reveals some sort of sacrificial altar in Golda’s room. Mulder finds a film of black dust in and around the garage door opener, which is identified as something called vibhuti, believed to be the after-product of intense spiritual activity. Golda invites her friends over to do some light rituals in her bedroom. These men call themselves the Calusari and Maggie orders them to leave the house. As they reluctantly depart, Golda grabs Charlie from Maggie and locks herself in the bedroom with him. Charlie, seeming to defend himself, throws two understandably confused reanimated dead chickens at her. Golda dies, either of a heart attack or of having her eyes pecked out. Charlie, in discussing the incident with Scully’s counselor friend, professes to have no memory of the incident and accuses someone named Michael of the chicken resurrecting and grandma-cide. Maggie, watching the interview, tells Mulder and Scully about Charlie’s stillborn twin, whom they named Michael, but never told Charlie about. Before they can react, Charlie collapses into convulsions. He is rushed to the hospital. In the hospital, Michael fully materializes and attacks a nurse before leaving with Maggie. It seems he wants to finish the job of orphaning Charlie. Maggie realizes she’s in trouble and attempts to complete her mother’s ritual. Meanwhile, Mulder contacts the Calusari and brings them to the hospital to complete the spell that will separate Michael’s soul from his twin brothers, freeing Charlie from his death-curse. It all gets pretty William Blatty in the hospital room, but the Calusari are successful and the day is saved. In actuality, the Romanian Calusari are more of a dance troupe than they are a mystical society. It is nearly possible to imagine them, as they are portrayed, as some sort of Orthodox Jewish sect or as a strict group of Romany mystics. I suspect they are kept deliberately indistinct in order to add to the mysteriousness of their presence in the episode, or else to avoid incurring offense from any single group. While not a particular standout of this season, in this writer’s humble opinion, I can’t say I have any cause to deride it. It’s a dark and well-told horror story. S2E22: “F. Emasculata” (w: Chris Carter & Howard Gordon/d: Rob Bowman) One thing that should really be basic instinct: never lean into a large throbbing pustule. Warning: by the end of this, you will be every bit as tired of reading the word “pustule” as I will be of typing it. This episode features a guest appearance from Dean Norris, who would go on to portray (among other roles) Walter White’s beleaguered brother-in-law Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad. On an interesting note, while Norris appears in this episode, the next episode happens to be Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan’s first writing credit on the X-Files. Stick with me here: In Costa Rica, an entomologist named Robert Torrance finds a wild boar covered in angry pustules. One of them bursts in his face. By the time he is found next morning, he is dead, covered with the same pustules. In a prison in rural Virginia, a package is delivered to an inmate named Robert Torrance (no relation). Inside the package is a pig leg covered with the same pustules. He dies a day and a half later. Two inmates named Paul and Steve (thought I was going to say Robert and Robert, didn’t you) are charged with cleaning out his cell and manage to escape the prison in a laundry cart. Mulder and Scully arrive on orders from AD Skinner’s office to assist with the manhunt, which is an unusual assignment for two FBI agents. Their suspicions are even more pronounced when they discover that the CDC has quarantined the prison and Scully sees men in hazmat suits wheeling prisoners around in covered gurneys. Mulder joins the manhunt for the prisoners while Scully stays behind to get the skinny on the prison situation. She finds several bodies bagged and waiting to be tossed into an incinerator and cuts into the latter Robert Torrance’s bag to get a better look at his pustules. She is interrupted by one of the CDC doctors, a Dr. Osbourne. While he is trying to cover Torrance back up, one of the dead man’s pustules erupts, spraying Osbourne with goo. Meanwhile, Paul and Steve kill a vacationing father while his wife and daughters are in the bathroom and steal their RV. During a late-night gas stop, Paul calls his babymama to tell her he’s on his way over. While he’s on the phone, the station attendant checks the bathroom and finds Steve collapsed on the floor. And if he wasn’t already infected with Giant Costa Rican Bug Pustule disease, he would most certainly be infected with something equally horrific from taking a nap on the floor of a gas station bathroom. Paul attacks the attendant and he and Steve ditch the RV, steal the attendant’s car and get back on the road. Sometime after sunrise, Mulder and the Marshals arrive at the gas station. A helicopter also arrives and CDC agents scoop up the attendant and fly him away, ignoring Mulder’s attempts to question them. The fugitives make it to Paul’s girlfriend’s house, but Steve is in terrible shape. As Elizabeth attempts to ease his raging fever, one of his pustules explodes in her face and he dies. Mulder and his merry band storm the house, finding Elizabeth and the expired Steve, but no Paul. Back at the prison, Scully finds the package that had been sent to Robert Torrance (the second one) and discovers that it came from Pinck Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Osbourne, who is now infected and feeling less than loyal to his employers, confides in Scully that the supposed CDC agents are actually Pinck employees, here to contain the contagion before it can spread further. He goes on the tell her that the package was sent to the prison to test an enzyme discovered in the F. Emasculata, an insect discovered in Costa Rica by Dr. Robert Torrence. The package was sent to inmate Robert Torrance as a failsafe, so that if it was traced back to the company, they could dismiss it as a regrettable clerical error. Mulder storms back to DC and into Skinner’s office, where Cigarette Smoking Man is hanging out smoking. Mulder informs them of his plan to expose Pinck and their entire enterprise in the press. CSM shoots him down, smugly telling him that release of this information would incite a public panic. Never one to tell Mulder what he wants to hear, Scully reluctantly agrees with CSM in the notion that exposure of this information would do more harm than good. It boils down to Paul’s testimony being their only hope for proof of Pinck’s involvement in the public risk, but he is shot dead in a hostage situation at a bus terminal. In the end, Skinner offers a warning to Mulder to be more cautious of the machinations of the forces at work against him. Gee, thanks, Walter. Glad to have you in our corner, chum. The grossout factor is pretty high with this one, but it’s also a pretty tense, multifaceted thriller that does a decent job of being a Monster of the Week episode while keeping us mindful of the larger canvas of which it’s a part. Mulder and Scully spend most of the episode working independently of one another in pursuit of divergent elements of their case, but they remain in communication with one another. In the end, they have a complete picture of the situation, even if tangible proof remains elusive. This is in stark contrast to “Endgame,” when their communication with one another broke down, leading to no legible solutions and nearly put Mulder in an icy grave. In Skinner, we see a shadow of the pilgarlic boss-man from the early episodes of the season, but now that prohibitiveness is tempered with the realization that he truly believes in his agents. His brusque manner with them in the end is only self-defensive pragmatism. He has people he must answer to, and he knows that hurling accusations without binding proof would be career (and possibly literal) suicide for the polar-opposite-of-pragmatic Agent Mulder. S2E23: “Soft Light: (w: Vince Gilligan/d: James Contner) This one is pure comic book science. Vince Gilligan was a fan of the show, which he mentioned to his agent. His agent, as it turned out, was related to Chris Carter and arranged a meeting between the two writers. As a result of this conversation, Gilligan was given an opportunity to write a script, which would lead to several other assignments. Years later, of course, Gilligan would be the creative force behind Breaking Bad. This episode’s guest star, Tony Shaloub, on the other hand, knew nothing about the show when he was offered the role during his tenure on the sitcom Wings. Shaloub didn’t watch much television, but enjoyed the Twilight Zone vibe of the script. Shaloub would go on to play the title character in the quirky detective series Monk. Scully is contacted by one of her former students from the Academy. She has recently been promoted to detective and taken a case that is out of her depth. People are disappearing, leaving behind mysterious scorch marks on the floor. Mulder jumps to a theory concerning spontaneous combustion. Meanwhile, Dr. Chester Ray Banton sits at a train station. The soft, diffused light in the terminal assures that he doesn’t cast a shadow. He leaves, being cautious to avoid any other people, but is stopped in an alleyway by two police officers. One of them steps into Banton’s shadow and seemingly melts into a scorchmark on the pavement. The same happens to the other officer when he steps into Banton’s shadow. The agents spot the suspicious-looking Banton on the station’s surveillance tapes, which leads them to his lab where he and his business partner had been researching dark matter. Christopher Davey, Banton’s partner, tells the agents that the doctor had disappeared after being locked in a room with an active particle accelerator. Hey, the way I see it, he got off easy with the dark matter shadow. He could have been stuck leaping through time, putting right what once went wrong. Scully begins to entertain the possibility of spontaneous combustion now, but Mulder has moved on to something else. Damn it, Mulder. We’re trying to keep up here! They find Banton in the train station and take him to a psychiatric hospital. At Banton’s request, they equip the room with soft lighting so that he can’t cast a shadow. He explains to Mulder and Scully that ever since the accident, his shadow had become like a miniature black hole, unzipping particles of any organic matter that falls into it. The increasingly paranoid Banton believes that he is being pursued by the government, and he doesn’t want to fall into their hands. Mulder contacts X, who assures him that the government has no interest in Banton but where was it you said you had him holed up again, beeteedubya? X and two men go to the hospital to collect Banton, but his shadow eats the agents, and he runs from the facility. Banton returns to his lab, where Detective Ryan confronts him at gunpoint. He regretfully turns his shadow on her. In the lab, Davey admits to him that he’s been working with the government that is trying to find him. Davey locks Banton in the accelerator room before being shot by X. X peers through the window at Banton. Mulder and Scully arrive to an empty lab, just as someone inside the accelerator room vaporizes. Mulder pieces enough together to know that X lied to him and meets his informant one more time to cut ties. X warns Mulder that the worst is yet to come. S2E24: “Our Town” (w: Frank Spotnitz/d: Rob Bowman) I’m fairly convinced that someday a cultural anthropologist will go back to trace an unusual surge in the number of vegetarians in the mid-1990s. All of the evidence will undoubtedly point to this episode of X-Files. After watching this, if you don’t at least take pause before digging into that bucket of chicken, I would strongly recommend seeking professional help. Frank Spotnitz stepped up to the writing plate and brought us one of the more cringe-worthy (in a good way) installments of the season. A government health inspector named George Kearns is in the middle of what he thinks is a midnight tryst with the apparently much younger Paula, who leads him on a chase through the woods. Unfortunately for him, all he encounters is a severe case of adulterus inturruptus as he is stopped by someone in a tribal mask. Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate his disappearance, with no clear indication of why they are there. There is a local report of foxfire, but even Mulder is skeptical. They talk to Kearns’ wife, who tells them that her husband had been planning to shut down the local poultry processing plant for health violations. After consulting the local authorities, namely Sheriff Arens, they go on to the Chaco Chicken factory (“Good people, good food!”) for a tour of the plant. One of the managers tells the agents that Kearns had a personal vendetta against the company. Unfortunately for the manager, Paula, the subject of Kearns’ dalliance, freaks out in a head trip (you’ll get that when you watch the episode) and attacks him with a knife. Sheriff Arens shoots her from behind. After asking permission from Walter Chaco, her grandfather, to perform an autopsy on Paula, Scully finds evidence of a rare degenerative brain disease that causes hallucinatory dementia. To further confuse matters, Paula’s personnel file at the processing plant states her age as 48 years old, even though she doesn’t appear to be older than her twenties. What’s more, it would appear that the driver of one of the Chaco Chicken trucks that nearly collides with the agents while they are driving suffers the same disease. Mulder orders Sheriff Arens to drag the river in search of Kearns’ remains, to which he reluctantly agrees. The search reveals nine distinct skeletons, each one missing the skull and appearing to have been boiled before being dumped in the river. The agents also note that more than eighty people have gone missing in the area immediately surrounding the town of Dudley over the past fifty years. Mulder begins to develop a theory that Paula developed the disease from eating Kearns’ remains as part of some sort of cannibalistic ritual. Meanwhile, at the Chaco mansion, the plant manager accuses Walter Chaco of doing nothing to protect his people from the outbreak of the disease. Mulder and Scully receive a phone call from Kearns’ wife, who believes that Walter Chaco is going to kill her. Mulder sends Scully over to her house while he goes to Chaco’s mansion. Breaking into a cabinet, Mulder finds the severed heads of several victims and calls Scully. Scully, upon arriving at the Kearns house, is attacked and knocked unconscious. She awakens to find herself in the middle of a field with a large bonfire, surrounded by residents of the town. She watches as they cut off Walter Chaco’s head and carry his body away. Then it’s Scully’s turn. Mulder arrives and rescues her just as a man in a tribal mask is about to cut her head off with a large axe. The man in the mask turns out to be Sheriff Arens. The Chaco Chicken plant is shut down by the FDA pending a full investigation. The agents discover that Walter Chaco was 93 years old at the time of his death, despite his much younger appearance. He had been in a cargo plane that crashed in New Guinea during WWII and spent several months with a tribe of reputed cannibals before his rescue, which was where he learned the rituals he had brought back to practice with those closest to him. There is a heavy implication at the end of the episode that Walter Chaco’s remains were ground up and used in the chicken feed at the plant. While this episode did not reach the comedic peak of “Humbug”, it does boast one of the most groan-worthy punchlines of any hour of the series. The funny thing is, the Chaco Chicken slogan of “Good people, good food!” is present throughout the entire episode, but its double meaning just doesn’t strike until that last scene after all the information has been presented. S2E25: “Anasazi” (w: David Duchovny & Chris Carter (story), Carter (teleplay)/d: R. W. Goodwin) After several weeks of secret societies, scientific anomalies, and circus freaks, Mulder and Scully discover that fun time is over and things are about to get very, very real for them. This episode proves Chris Carter’s edict that “anything can happen on the X-Files.” It is a truly wicked season finale, shaking the foundations of the show and culminating in a cliffhanger that wouldn’t be resolved until the following season’s opening two-parter. Nearly everyone is on deck with this one. The Lone Gunmen, CSM, Mulder’s dad, Skinner… Even Alex Krychek resurfaces for the first time since skulking away earlier in the season. A new recurring ally appears here for the first time in the person of Albert Hosteen, a WWII Navajo code-talker with sympathies for Scully and Mulder’s quest to reveal the ever-elusive Truth. Can he serve as a balance to the introduction of the as-yet unnamed Syndicate, to whom CSM seems to answer? Earth-shaking revelations, a dramatically strained partnership, and new key elements are introduced. Duchovny and Carter worked closely to assure nothing is left out of this story before Carter sat down to write the teleplay. And it truly has everything, especially more tantalizing questions about the show’s mythology. Dammit. Its opening credits sport an altered tag line, which I can’t adequately reproduce here, as my keyboard is ill-equipped to accurately accent Navajo script. The phrase most closely translates as “the truth is far from here.” After an earthquake in New Mexico, a teenage boy from a Navajo reservation called Two Grey Hills finds a boxcar that has been buried in a quarry in the desert. When he returns to the settlement, he brings back something he found in the boxcar; namely, a mummified extraterrestrial-looking corpse. Jeepers, Grandpa Hosteen, can I keep it? Back in Washington, Mulder seems to be having some sort of nervous breakdown. It would probably be understandable, considering what he’s been through in the past several months. To go from junk assignments to Scully’s abduction to being jerked around by the powers at the FBI, sent blind into one hazardous assignment after another, each more frustratingly death-defying than the last. In the past several weeks, Scully has nearly died at the hands of the ghost of a twin brother and cannibal chicken farmers, to say nothing of the dreaded exploding pustules. It’s been a rough year. Some irritability would be completely understandable, right? The Lone Gunmen turn up at Mulder’s apartment to relay the message that a hacker friend of theirs who goes by the name “The Thinker” wants to meet with him. While the Gunmen are visiting, one of Mulder’s neighbors chooses to shoot her husband. Langley and the rest of his colleagues dismiss it as random weirdness. The Thinker, it turns out, has broken into the Defense Department’s servers and recorded Mulder’s Holy Grail onto a digital tape. All of the files related to UFOs and extraterrestrial life are in these files. He hands it over to Mulder in good faith that the truth will be exposed. Meanwhile, in New York, a telephone chain of men representing several different nations is in full freak out mode over the security breach. The end of the line for this call happens to be CSM, who assures his caller that he has already dealt with the situation. Rushing back to the office with the tape, Mulder is frustrated to discover that it is encrypted. Scully recognizes the code as Navajo, which was used during WWII since it was the only code the Japanese were never able to break. Skinner questions Mulder about the tape, to which Mulder responds by throwing a punch at his boss. Daaaamn, Mulder. Take a pill. Scully is questioned about the files as well as Mulder’s attack on Skinner and does her best to defend him. She is told that Mulder is facing dismissal and she could be next if inquiries speak to her involvement in any sort of implications. You know, of all the times for Chris Carter to slip into a cameo, he chooses to be one of the people being a dick to Scully in Skinner’s office? I don’t know, man. Up at Martha’s Vineyard, CSM has a cozy meeting with Bill Mulder, Fox’s father, during which he informs him of his son’s recent activities and his possession of the tape. Soon after, Mulder gets a call from his father asking him to come to the Vineyard. After Mulder leaves, Scully arrives at his apartment to check on him. A bullet fires through the window of Mulder’s apartment, grazing Scully’s head. At his dad’s house, Mulder’s father has decided to tell his son some deep truth when he is murdered in the bathroom by Alex Krychek. Dammit, Krychek. Mulder flees to Scully’s apartment and falls asleep in her bed while she takes Mulder’s gun to analyze in an effort to clear him of any implication in his father’s death. When he wakes up, he is angry and suspicious of Scully for taking his gun, despite her protestations of attempting to help him. Hey, now, Fox. That’s Dana Frickin’ Scully you’re running your mouth at. Get it together, son. Going back to his apartment to dig the bullet out of the wall from the previous night, Scully notices that the water supply in Mulder’s building has been tampered with and is causing psychosis in anyone who drinks it (including the neighbor lady). Returning to his building, Mulder finds Krychek snooping around and prepares to shoot him for his father’s death. Scully arrives and shoots Mulder in the shoulder to stop him, allowing Krychek to escape. Somehow she transports the unconscious Mulder to a New Mexico hotel room, where Navajo code-talker Albert Hosteen is busy translating the files from the tape. Scully informs Mulder that, among other things, information about Duane Barry and her own abduction is included in the files. Hosteen tells Mulder about his grandson’s discovery in the desert. The grandson takes Mulder to see the buried boxcar, where he finds floor-to-ceiling piles of extraterrestrial-looking corpses. While Mulder is down inside the boxcar, CSM arrives with a military regiment who forcefully takes Hosteen’s grandson and drops a firebomb into the boxcar. Wait, what? That’s it? THAT’S how you’re gonna end the season?!? But… but… Mulder was in there! WTF, guys! That’s just mean! So many new questions, hardly any answers, but don’t worry. The first two episodes of the third season are sure to… Actually, no, those episodes really just pose even more questions. And even more collateral damage. Sigh. Being an X-Phile is an exercise in masochism sometimes, I think. See larger image The X-Files: Season 2 New From: $18.80 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Dignan Humbug for the win.