"D.P.O." is the third episode of the third season of The X-Files. It was written by Howard Gordon and directed by Kim Manners, and premiered on the Fox network on October 6, 1995. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc.
Mulder and Scully investigate the deaths of several people who were struck by lightning.
At a strip-mall video arcade, off-duty pizza deliverer Jack Hammond declines to let Darren Peter Oswald have back the "Virtua Fighter 2" game which Darren had left for a minute. A fight brews, as Darren's arcade-clerk friend Zero watches. But then Jack, seemingly not in control of his body, leaves and gets into his car - where he's killed by a strange electrical surge.
The next morning at Lloyd P. Wharton County Building, Scully examines Hammond's body as Stan Buxton, the county coroner, and Johnston County Sheriff John Teller watch. This latest in a pattern of odd electrocution deaths shows, curiously, no contact point; the coroner doesn't remember if the previous bodies had them, and defensively insists it's just lightning - though admitting the five recent Connerville strikes (four fatal) are statistically "improbable". Teller asserts there's nothing unusual: The nearby Astadourian Lightning Observatory on Route 4 has 100 ionized rods designed specifically to stimulate lightning. Later, Mulder wonders why the lightning only strikes 17-to-21-year-old males.
Checking the only shop open after Jack quit work, the video game arcade, Scully questions Zero and asks if he had seen Hammond the night before while Mulder is walking around the video game arcade. After Zero told Scully that he has seen the person the night before, he told her that he was mostly playing the "Virtua Fighter 2" video game. An onscreen display alerts Mulder that the 10-game record-holder on the "Virtua Fighter 2" game is initialed D.P.O. - as in Darren Peter Oswald, the only survivor of the lightning strikes. The notations place D.P.O. here at the time of the incident.
Meanwhile, Darren is working at the Kiveat Auto Shop and he nervously greets Sharon Kiveat, the beautiful wife of garage owner Frank Kiveat. He has a crush on her, which makes her uneasy as she is aware of his affections towards her. Frank returns from a towing job, soon followed by Mulder and Scully. As the agents fruitlessly question Darren, Mulder's cell-phone mysteriously heats and starts melting and Darren leaves after Mulder and Scully notices.
At the dilapidated Oswald house later that night, Darren's couch-potato mother belittles him for changing the TV channel from across the room with the remote -- but then she finds the remote in her chair. When Zero comes by, Darren goes to a pasture next door to "barbecue" some cows. Zero begs him not to - but Darren calls lightning down to hit him to achieve a sensation of power and might. After the lightning strikes Oswald, he and Zero calls it a night a goes back home.
The next morning, Teller is at the field where Oswald had his lightning act and the three dead cows are towed away. He shows the agents a fulgarite - a place where lightning strikes sandy soil to form glass - and declares their investigation over. Yet after he leaves, Mulder finds a partial footprint incongruously in the fulgarite and tells Scully to continue the case with him. At the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, Scully finds the footprint to be made from a size 8 1/2 standard military boot; she also finds traces of antifreeze. They go to find auto mechanic Darren.
Meanwhile, at the County Road A-7, Darren manipulates traffic lights, hoping to cause an accident. Zero suggests he stop all this, and use his power to make a killing in Vegas. But Darren won't go anywhere without Mrs. Kiveat. While Oswald is still at the crossroad, the agents arrive at Oswald's house and find an 8 1/2 shoe and a clipped picture that fits the cut-out yearbook space for Mrs. Kiveat.
Back at the crossroad, Darren causes tow-trucker Frank to have an apparent heart attack; when the two EMS workers find their portable defibrillator not charged and unusable, Darren "heroically" rescues Frank by defibrillating him by hand while EMS is preoccupied with the spare unit amazed and shocked with what Oswald had done.
While at the Community Hospital, Frank recuperates, the agents learn Darren was admitted here five months ago in cardiac arrest after his lightning-strike - and that he has acute hypokalemia, an electrolyte imbalance of high sodium and low potassium, which, Mulder theorizes, somehow explains his ability to generate electricity. They question Darren at the Johnston County Jail, but he admits nothing and thinks Zero squealed on him.
With 72 hours to hold him, they try to get Mrs. Kiveat to press harassment charges. She had been afraid to, but the agents say they can hold him 72 hours on suspicion of murder, so she and Frank will be safe. At the jail, Teller has decided the feds have a weak case, and lets Darren go. The agents rush to the hospital, but Darren has stopped at the arcade first to kill Zero because of how he managed to lead Mulder and Scully to him.
At the hospital, Mulder and Scully tries to convince Sharon to go with them as Oswald is on his way to retrieve her. Before Sharon could make a decision, the electricity goes off inn the hospital alerting Mulder and Scully that Oswald is in the building. Mulder and Scully draws out their sidearms and wait for Darren at the elevator only to find Zero's dead body within the elevator as the doors open. Mulder sets off to find Oswald alone while Scully stays with Sharon.
Eventually, Oswald arrives on the same floor as Sharon and finds her only to also find Scully pointing her sidearm at Darren ordering him to stand down and leave Sharon alone. Sharon, wanting no danger near Frank and the others, agrees to walk out with Darren. Outside, she runs away when Teller pulls up. Darren, over the edge, kills Teller before Mulder can fire. Then Darren falls in a lightning-crumpled heap himself.
Oklahoma State Psychiatric Hospital: Scully tells Mulder the coroner has ruled Teller's death accidental, by lightning, and the D.A. can't fathom how to prosecute for murder. And Darren, inside his cell, stares blankly at a TV screen that may or may not be channel-changing according to his whim.
- The scene where Mulder and Scully find a picture of Sharon Kiveat stuck into a skin magazine is an inside joke. The actress who played Kiveat, Karen Witter, is a former Playboy model.
- D.P.O. is Darren Peter Oswald's initials, a reference to the arcade custom of inputting all three initials when achieving a high score.
- This episode featured the song "Hey Man, Nice Shot" by the band Filter, which is fronted by Richard Patrick, the younger brother of Robert Patrick, who would later play Special Agent John Doggett.
- The song featured prominently in the teaser segment is titled Ring the Bells, by the band James.
- The videogame Darren often played was Virtua Fighter, an early 3D fighting game by Sega.
- During some of the arcade scenes, you can clearly and distinctively hear the theme song to Green Hill Zone of Sonic The Hedgehog, a game also by Sega.
- Giovanni Ribisi plays a character who is in love with his teacher and calls her Mrs. Kiveat. Ribisi also plays a character, Frank Bufay, Jr. on "Friends" who is also in love with his teacher and calls her Mrs. Knight.
- The line "‘Cause I’m in the mood for a little barbecue." was originally "‘Cause I’m in the mood for a Quarter Pounder", but the mention to McDonald's' sandwich was cut. Chris Carter still jokingly suggested to paint golden arches on the truck that picks up the dead cow.
- The end credit for Chris Carter as Executive Producer appears on the television that Oswald is watching, rather than on a blank black screen as in other episodes.
- The song featured at the end of the episode is "Live Fast Diarrhea" by the band The Vandals.
Cast and Characters
- Giovanni Ribisi as Darren Peter Oswald
- Jack Black as Bart "Zero" Liquori
- Ernie Lively as Sheriff John Teller
- Karen Witter as Sharon Kiveat