"Christmas Carol" is the sixth episode of the fifth season of The X-Files. It was written by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz, and was directed by Peter Markle. Airing on the Fox network on December 7, 1997, the episode helped explore the series' mythology arc.
While Scully and her mother stay with Dana's brother and his pregnant wife at Christmas time, Scully receives several weird phone calls that she thinks might be from her deceased sister. She also becomes involved in an investigation of a woman's alleged suicide, believing that the victim was actually murdered, and learns that the departed woman's young adopted daughter is apparently her own offspring.
Scully and her mother travel to Bill Jr.'s house—located at a U.S. naval station in San Diego—several days before the Christmas holiday. There they are greeted by Bill Jr. and his pregnant wife, Tara, who is expecting their first child. Not long after her arrival, Scully answers the telephone. On the other end of the line is a woman who sounds exactly like Scully's deceased sister, Melissa Scully. The voice tells Scully, "she needs your help." Unnerved, Scully has the FBI trace the call which, it turns out, was made from the Sim residence. Scully discovers the home is the scene of a criminal investigation. Detective John Kresge allows her access to the bathroom, where a dead blonde woman, Mrs. Roberta Sim, reclines in a tub full of bloody water, the apparent victim of a suicide.
Later, Scully observes the victim's husband, Marshall, and three-year-old Emily Sim. Scully stares at the girl, intrigued by her face. Detective Kresge tells Scully that phone records do indeed indicate that an incoming call was made from the Sim residence to Bill Jr.'s house. But at the same time, there is no record of an outgoing call. Records also indicate the phone had been off the hook for three hours.
Scully tells her mother she's very happy for Bill and Tara... then admits that, as a result of her abduction, she cannot conceive a child of her own. Later that night, Scully experiences a dream in which, as a young child, she hid her pet rabbit from Bill Jr. in a lunch box only to inadvertently suffocate it. During the same dream, she encounters little Emily Sim. Scully is awoken by another call from the mysterious woman. The voice tells Scully to "go to her." The call is again traced to the Sim residence, where Marshall assures Scully that no one used the telephone. From Scully's viewpoint at the front door, she observes two dark-suited men sitting at the kitchen table. The next day, Scully requests—and is given access to—all evidence in the Roberta Sim case. She also phones the FBI and requests the case file on her sister, Melissa. Noting several discrepancies in the file, Scully performs an autopsy on Roberta's body. She discovers a complete absence of medicine tablets inside her stomach. She does, however, notice a puncture wound on the heel of her foot. A search of the Sim house turns up a hypodermic needle in the trash. Marshall claims Emily suffers from anemia and requires daily injections.
Scully tells her mother that a PCR test, which has a 60 percent accuracy rate, suggests that Emily and Melissa's DNA match (a more comprehensive test will be available in several days). This, and the undeniable physical resemblance between the pair, leads Scully to conclude that Emily is Melissa's daughter. She reminds her mother about a period in 1994 when Melissa's whereabouts were unknown... and speculates that she could have given Emily up for adoption. Later, Scully experiences another dream, during which Mrs. Scully gives her the crucifix she wears around her neck. When Scully awakens, Detective Kresge informs her about large bank deposits made by Marshall over the previous 18 months. The money came from a pharmaceutical company called Prangen Industries. Scully and Kresge interview Dr. Ernest Calderon, who works for the company. He explains that Emily was participating in a clinical trial. When Roberta tried to pull her daughter from the program, the company agreed to send her money as a gesture of good will. Calderon also reveals he prescribed Sumatriptan injections for Marshall after he complained of migraines. Later, Marshall is arrested for his wife's murder. As a result, Emily is placed in the care of Social Services. Before Emily is driven away, Scully places her gold cross around the girl's neck.
Marshall Sim confesses to the murder. But Scully finds it odd that witnesses had provided him an alibi. She and Kresge drive to the jail, where they find his body hanging from a makeshift noose. Later, Scully tells her brother that the death was made to look like a suicide. Susan Chambliss, a social worker, tells Scully that her application to adopt Emily was rejected. Scully states that the time has come for her to place her personal life ahead of her career. Chambliss promises a review of Scully's final application. On Christmas morning, Scully receives a delivery from an FBI courier. The final DNA test results reveal that Scully is Emily's mother.
To Be Continued...
- Walter Marsh, who plays the pathologist, has played a couple of other roles in the X-Files previously. He played the druggist in "Unruhe", and Judge Purdy in "Miracle Man".
- This is not the first mythology episode that Rob Freeman has appeared in. He previously played Detective Rempulski in Gethsemane and Redux.
- The person who ran the DNA analysis at the end of the episode was named John Gillnitz. This is yet another reference to the names of the three writers John Shiban, Vince Gilligan, and Frank Spotnitz.
- The young girl playing the teenage Dana is Gillian Anderson's real life 14-year-old sister Zoe, in her first acting role.
- Emily's adoptive family name of Sim is taken from actor Alastair Sim, who played Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1951 British movie version of A Christmas Carol.
- The title of this episode is reminiscent of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Instead of Scrooge being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future; Scully is "visited" by her deceased sister Melissa, and several earlier versions of herself.
- This episode features the absence of Fox Mulder as David Duchovny was away from Vancouver for promotional purposes for the movie Playing God.
- Look closely at the logo that appears on the back of the photograph shown to Scully by Bill to prove that Melissa could not have been pregnant in 1994. It's reassuring to know that Melissa trusted the "ETAP" brand for her photo paper needs. "ETAP" is the fictional brand of film first used in "Unruhe" and later in "Small Potatoes."
- There is a wonderful subtle moment between Margaret and Melissa Scully, during the flashback scene when the girls receive their cross necklaces. While teenage Dana is enchanted, teenage Melissa seems to be quickly covering up her disappointment. Makes a nice link to the moment in 'One Breath' when Margaret greets Melissa, crystal-dowsing over a comatose Scully, with a tension-laden "I'm glad you could come".
- There is no way that Scully could have filed an adoption petition AND completed an adoption services investigation in the two days between the murder (Dec 22) and her meeting with the adoption services worker (Dec 24). In California, where the episode takes place, an adoption investigation takes weeks, if not months, before it is completed, and it also requires a home study, which could not have been done as Scully was visiting her mother for Christmas.
- The date of this episode, as shown onscreen in the opening scene, is December 21. However, the toxicology report into Roberta Sim's death states that it occurred on August 9.
- The toxicology report lists the birthdate of Mrs. Sim as 6/6/67 which would make her 30, but Detective Kresge says that she is 40 years of age.
- Scully's FBI badge number that she gives to the phone company is different to the one she gives in season 4's 'Teliko'.
- In Scully's dream we learn that she and Melissa received their cross necklaces for Christmas one year (young Dana looks about 13 or 14), but in season 2's 'Ascension', Margaret says that she gave Scully the necklace for her 15th birthday.
Cast and Characters
- John Pyper-Ferguson (Detective John Kresge) previously played Paul in The X-Files episode "F. Emasculata" and Jim Gilroy/Jake Waterston in the Millennium episode "The Wild and the Innocent".
- Rob Freeman (Marshall Sim) previously played Detective Rempulski in The X-Files episode "Gethsemane".
- Eric Breker (Dark Suited Man #1) previously played Howard Rothenburg in the Millennium episode "The Thin White Line", Admitting Officer in The X-Files episode "Demons" and Malcolm Hunziger in the Millennium episode "Paper Dove".
- Walter Marsh (Pathologist) previously played Judge Hamish Purdy in The X-Files episode "Miracle Man" and Druggistin "Unruhe".
- David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder (credit only)
- Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully
- Sheila Larken as Margaret Scully
- Melinda McGraw as Melissa Scully
- Pat Skipper as William Scully, Jr.
- Karri Turner as Tara Scully
- John Pyper-Ferguson as Detective John Kresge
- Gerard Plunkett as Dr. Ernest Calderon
- Lauren Diewold as Emily Sim
- Patricia Dahlquist as Susan Chambliss
- Rob Freeman as Marshall Sim
- Eric Breker as Dark Suited Man #1
- Stephen Mendel as Dark Suited Man #2
- Walter Marsh as Pathologist
- Rebecca Codling as Young Melissa Scully
- Joey Shea as Young Dana Scully (1968)
- Ryan DeBoer as Young William Scully, Jr.