Mulder believes that metallic objects discovered in Africa are proof that life originated elsewhere in the universe.
SummaryA metallic artifact covered with strange letters is found on the West African coast. A Dr. Merkmallen, who possesses a similar artifact, finds that the two fuse with each other when brought near one another. He heads to the U.S. to meet with a Dr. Sandoz who has found a similar object, but is killed by Dr. Barnes, who claims to be Sandoz.
Skinner brings agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) on the case, providing them with a rubbing made from the artifact. Mulder says that both men espoused a theory known as 'Panspermia' that theorizes that life originated off of Earth. While heading to the basement Mulder suffers from a headache and has a hard time hearing Scully.
The agents visit with Dr. Barnes at the University who claims not to believe in the theories of the now missing Dr. Sandoz. Mulder once again feels strange when near the rubbing. The agents meet with Chuck Burks, who tells them that the symbols on the artifact are Navajo. Mulder, who continues to feel strange, declines Scully's recommendations to go to the hospital and tells Scully that he believes Barnes murdered Merkmallen.
The agents head to Dr. Sandoz's apartment and find a picture of him with Albert Hosteen, a Navajo code breaker who has worked with the agents in the past. They find the body of Merkmallen in the garbage disposal.
Mulder and Scully report to Skinner on the case. Mulder believes that Sandoz is being framed and that the artifact emits radiation. During the briefing, Mulder experiences further headaches and announces that someone else is on the case, which Skinner denies. Mulder implies that he can hear Skinner's thoughts.After the agents leave Skinner provides a video tape of their conversation to Alex Krycek. Krycek later provides the tape to Dr. Barnes. Mulder heads back to the University but passes out in the stairwell.
Scully travels to New Mexico to visit Albert Hosteen in a hospital, after which she discovers that Albert is dying of cancer. She then chases down Sandoz at the hospital and confronts him. He claims that Albert Hosteen was helping him translate the pieces of the artifact that he and Merkmallen possesed and that the translation included passages from the Bible. Scully contacts Mulder, who is resting at home. Mulder believes that the artifact proves that humanity was created by aliens. Diana Fowley takes care of Mulder and contacts the Cigarette Smoking Man. A healing ceremony is held for Albert, but Scully is forced to leave when Skinner contacts her, telling her Mulder is in the hospital in serious condition.
Scully arrives a the hospital, tired and angry from her long flight. Mulder is being held in a padded cell and is displaying abnormal brain activity. Scully, after learning that Skinner knows about their earlier conversation with Burks calls him and Fowley liars and leaves.Scully is about to find a surveillance camera in the X-Files office when she is called by Sandoz telling her that the artifact contains information on human genetics. Sandoz is shot and killed by Krycek shortly afterwards. Scully heads to the West African Coast where she discovers that the artifact is part of a large spacecraft partially buried in the ocean.
- This episode includes archive footage from The X-Files Movie. The footage features two Primitives running through snowy terrain and appears near the start of this episode.
- Although X-Files management was prepared to suspend filming to accommodate the birth of David Duchovny's first child, it proved to be unnecessary. Madelaine West Duchovny was born on April 24, 1999; two days after the filming of Fox Mulder's final scene in this season finale.
"From Space, it seems an abstraction-- a magician's trick on a darkened stage. And from this distance one might never imagine that it is alive. It first appeared in the sea almost four billion years ago in the form of single-celled life. In an explosion of life spanning millions of years, nature's first multicellular organisms began to multiply... and then it stopped. 440 million years ago, a great mass extinction would kill off nearly every species on the planet leaving the vast oceans decimated and empty. Slowly, plants began to evolve, then insects, only to be wiped out in the second great mass extinction upon the Earth.
The cycle repeated again and again. Reptiles emerging, independent of the sea only to be killed off. Then dinosaurs, struggling to life along with the first birds, fish, and flowering plants - their decimations Earth's fourth and fifth great extinctions. Only 100,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens appear-- man. From cave paintings to the bible to Columbus and Apollo 11, we have been a tireless force upon the earth and off cataloguing the natural world as it unfolds to us. Rising to a world population of over five billion people all descended from that original single cell, that first spark of life. But for all our knowledge, what no one can say for certain, is what or who ignited that original spark.
Is there a plan, a purpose or a reason to our existence? Will we pass, as those before us, into oblivion, into the sixth extinction that scientists warn is already in progress? Or will the mystery be revealed through a sign, a symbol, a revelation?"
- Scully Opening Monologue
- Skinner is cleaning his glasses while he talks to Scully and Mulder. Then we see him from an different angle, still speaking, with his glasses on.
- Scully says "I mean, it's just a theory. That's about it, though" when talking about panspermia. A real scientist would never speak like this, as he or she would understand the power of theory.
- If the police had given Sandoz's apartment a thorough combing-over and the landlord had been "all through the place", they should have found the body in the kitchen trash compactor.
- When Dr. Sandoz is speaking with Scully over the phone while sitting in a car, he refers to the human genome and mispronounces chromosome as 'chromozone'.
- When Sandoz's landlord leaves the apartment to let Mulder and Scully do their investigetion you hear the door closes but you can still see him inside the apartment.
- William B. Davis as Cigarette Smoking Man
- Nicholas Lea as Alex Krycek
- Chris Owens as Jeffrey Spender
- Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner
Special Guest Starring
- Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman as Albert Hosteen
- Murry Rubinstein as Dr. Steven Sandoz
- Michael Chinyamurindi as Dr. Solomon Merkmallen
- Michael Ensign as Dr. Barnes
- Sheila Tousey as Native American Nurse
- Warren Sweeney as Dr. Geoff Harriman
- Chet Grissom as Detective
- Bill Dow as Dr. Charles Burks
- Marty Zagon as Mr. Coeben
- Samuel Kwaku Minta as Yelling Man
- Ayo Adeyemi as First African Man
- Benjamin Ochieng as Second African Man