On a tip, Mulder and Scully visit the infamous Area 51 where a strange event swaps Mulder's personality with that of Morris Fletcher, a shadowy government agent.
On Highway 375 in rural Nevada at 11:17 PM, Mulder and Scully approach their destination, Area 51. Mulder received a tip from a source who actually works in Area 51 though Scully questions the likelihood of it and wonders if they shouldn’t pursue the normal lives everyone else leads.
As they drive on the highway, they are surrounded by jeeps loaded with soldiers and a smoking man in a black suit, Morris Fletcher. They show the man their IDs to the man and Scully flippantly tells him they are there to see flying saucers.
“Flying saucers. I got a top secret for you: There’s no such thing as flying saucers.”Unfortunately for the luckless Morris Fletcher, there is a rumbling noise as one appears and passes overhead. The bright light from the object passes over them as it flies past. Mulder suddenly finds himself in Fletcher’s place and Fletcher is now Mulder. No one, besides the two men, is aware that they have switched bodies as Fletcher and Scully depart under the gaze of the soldiers.
Mulder calls after the departing Scully and Fletcher and the soldiers ask if they should open fire. Mulder stops them and orders them to return to base. He enters the jeep awaiting him and finds two other “Men in Black,” Howard Grodin and Jeff Smoodge. Grodin is confused as to why Fletcher let them go while Smoodge figures he just knew they couldn’t disappear two FBI agents. Smoodge assumes they can get the agents’ superiors to reign them in; Mulder agrees, eager to pretend to be Fletcher. The Men in Black return to Area 51 and Mulder enters Fletcher’s office to find an array of pictures of Fletcher with various important world leaders like Saddam Hussein, the Reagans, & others.
He tries to call Scully who is arriving at a gas station with an oddly acting Mulder. Fletcher ignores the phone and asks Scully to pick him up a pack of cigarettes.
Jeff Smoodge tells Mulder that someone called the FBI from the phone in General Wegman’s office, suggesting an arrogant leak who dared use their boss’s phone. After an angry phone call from Joanne Fletcher, Mulder is returned “home” by Smoodge. He decides to sleep downstairs in an easy chair and watch porn.Elsewhere, General Wegman and Grodin survey the wreckage of the alien craft that two men had been piloting. They find one man phased into a rock but still alive. Another speaks in an unknown language.
Deputy Director Alvin Kersh calls Fletcher and Scully into his office to reproach them for their intrusion onto a military base. Fletcher apologizes to Kersh and says it will never happen again while a stunned Scully watches him. A baffled Scully questions him about his willingness to turn over a source to Kersh, Fletcher excuses himself for a moment to hit on Kersh’s assistant, and when he returns to Scully who accuses him of acting bizarre, he says merely:“Jealous?”
He pats her on the butt as he passes by.Mulder is awakened by his “wife” Joanne as he mumbles Scully. Joanne yells at him about who Scully is, what if the kids had come down first and seen what their father was watching, and a few other grievances. As Mulder poorly maneuvers through Fletcher’s family life in comedic fashion, he eventually gets his car keys but his wife reminds him to change his suit before going into work. Mulder plays with his reflection until his irritated wife shows up with the phone. Smoodge needs him to come in fast given the serious situation.
General Wegman is introduced to Captain Robert McDonough and Mrs. Lana Chee. While McDonough rocks back and forth praying in Hopi, Lana Chee, the 75 year old Hopi woman, salutes the general and reports as to what happened to the ship.“No warning lights came up on the panel. All systems checked out in pre-flight. She just wasn’t in the mood to fly, sir.”
Mulder calls Scully while Fletcher plays a golf game on his computer. She clearly doesn’t believe the man calling is Mulder and has Fletcher pick up and listen in on the conversation. He asks to be picked up ASAP. Fletcher decides they should immediately report this incident.
Mulder buys sunflower seeds from an attendant at a gas station and leaves. The man watches a tremor shake the place as things start falling off the shelves and all the glass shatters.
Three jeeps approach Mulder as he is driving away from the gas station. The last jeep stops and Grodin and Smoodge tell him to turn around and follow them. Returning to the gas station, Mulder finds it in ruins. The military sets up a perimeter and the other Men in Black are confused as Mulder rushes into the place looking for the attendant. They find him phased into the floor and Mulder demands that they help the man. The others disagree and believe they should leave before whatever phenomenon happened repeats or returns. The soldier cuts the conversation short by executing the attendant. They leave and torch the place. Smoodge reminds Mulder that there was nothing they could have done.
Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment to find Kersh’s assistant just leaving. Scully tells Fletcher that they traced the phone call to a pay phone near Groom Lake (Area 51) and she suspects it is Mulder’s source though unsure why they would try and impersonate Mulder. Fletcher is indifferent to this news and Scully yells at him. His behavior is far too strange and his lack of concern for the X-Files is completely out of character.General Wegman, Grodin, Smoodge, and Mulder discuss what has happened. Grodin believes that the craft malfunctioned and created a tear in the space-time continuum allowing objects to exist in the same place at the same time. Mulder is reminded that it is his job to keep it all out of the papers but he asks:
“Well, yeah, but I mean, how do we reverse it? How do we get the lizard out of the rock?”
“Who says we can?”
Scully drives through the desert towards Groom Lake and stops at the burned out gas station, finding a penny and a dime merged like other space time distortion artifacts that have been found.
Joanne Fletcher confronts Mulder about their marital problems but she misunderstands Mulder as having erectile problems as he tries to defend himself. His claim that Scully doesn’t even sound like a woman’s name is broken when Joanne Fletcher answers the door to find Dana Scully looking for Morris Fletcher.
As Joanne Fletcher roars insults at Mulder and throws Fletcher’s things out of the house, Mulder tries to convince Scully that he is Mulder. She remains her usual skeptical self, believing any information he describes could be obtained other ways.
“Even that yoghurt thing?”
Mulder tells her that he will bring proof of the defect of the UFO and the resultant problems later that night.
Fletcher watches Mulder and calls Howard Grodin and informs on himself so Mulder will be captured by the Men in Black.
Searching through the laboratory, Mulder finds the flight recorder and sneaks out with it in a paper bag as a concealed Grodin watches.
Scully receives a phone call from Kersh who demands that she follow his instructions exactly or she’s gone from the FBI. Her partner “Mulder” already informed Kersh of what is going on.Mulder arrives with the proof to meet Scully and the military storms the convenience store and arrests him. As he is dragged away, kicking and screaming, he yells at Fletcher and tries to convince Scully.
“Scully, he’s not me!”
To Be Continued...
- Area 51
- Fletcher's home in Rachel, Nevada
- When finding only black suits Fletcher's wardrobe, Mulder comments "Ladies and Gentlemen, Johnny Cash".
- (Cash is often referred to as The "Man in Black", as is Morris Fletcher)
- Mulder/Fletcher's performance in front of the mirror is the same as performed in a routine by the Marx Brothers.
- When Mulder is dancing in the mirror, reflecting as Morris Fletcher, the two are not exactly synchronized.
- When Joanne hands Mulder the phone after dancing in the mirror, Mulder's reflection is his own, not Fletcher's.
- When Morris enters the bar, the camera follows "Mulder" in the mirror, but an "Exit"-sign is not mirrored.
- Howard identifies Lana Chee as a Hopi who lives on the nearby Moapa Reservation. The Moapa Reservation is inhabited by the Moapa Paiute tribe, not the Hopi, who actually have their own reservation in northeastern Arizona.
- There is a noticeable mistake in the mirror scene between David Duchovny and Michael McKean. When they're bending over and shaking their asses, McKean's hand is on what would be the left leg of his underwear and he's pulling it down just a little bit while Duchovny isn't.
- When Mulder (who is in the body of Morris Fletcher) tries to convince Scully that he is indeed Mulder, we see him reflected in the real Morris Fletcher's side mirror as David Duchovny and not Michael McKean. In all other reflections in mirrors and windows he appears as Michael McKean. However, while in Mulder's body, Fletcher sees his reflection as David Duchovny, and Mulder sees his reflection as Michael McKean. But while in Fletcher's body, Mulder sees Fletcher as Michael McKean and while in Mulder's body, Fletcher sees Mulder as Michael McKean. Therefore, it is possible the reason Mulder (in the body of Morris Fletcher) is shown as David Duchovny in the side mirror, is because we are seeing the shot from Morris Fletcher's point of view.
Other Episode Notes
- One of the signature backstage moments of the entire 6th season occurred during a particularly bleak morning at the distant Lancaster location during the filming of the two-parter. David Duchovny emerged from his trailer and said, "When is this show moving back to Los Angeles?". Within days, dozens of X-Files insiders were wearing T-Shirts emblazoned with exactly the same question.
- The scraggly desert gas station had to be built from scratch.
- The character of Morris Fletcher would later appear in numerous episodes of "The Lone Gunmen", the season 6 X-Files episode "Three of a Kind" and the season 9 episode "Jump the Shark".
- The man-in-black Morris Fletcher is named after Michael McKean's son, Fletcher McKean.
- As noted, Dreamland is the nickname for Area 51, the Air Force base near Groom Lake, Nevada which is reputed to be the US Government's base for conducting experiments with alien technology. "Dreamland" actually stands for "Data Repository Establishment and Management Land".
- Fletcher asks Scully to get him some Morley cigarettes, the same brand preferred by the Cigarette-Smoking Man.
- The scene in which Mulder encounters his own reflection - as Fletcher - in Morris' bedroom mirror is a near-recreation of the famous mirror scene between Groucho and Harpo Marx in the classic 1933 comedy Duck Soup. This scene was also reenacted by Harpo and Lucille Ball in a famous 1955 episode of I Love Lucy.
- "Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Johnny Cash." Mulder says this after he opens Morris Fletcher's closet, which is filled with black suits. Legendary singer-songwriter Johnny Cash (1932-2003) was nicknamed the "Man in Black" because he usually performed wearing dark clothing. In 1971, Cash wrote a song called "Man in Black," in which he said that wearing black was an expression of mourning for people who had suffered or died, including American soldiers killed in the Vietnam War.
Special Guest Starring
- John Mahon as Lieutenant General Edward Wegman
- Michael Buchman Silver as Howard Grodin
- James Pickens, Jr. as Assistant Director Alvin Kersh
- Scott Allan Campbell as Jeff Smoodge
- Julia Vera as Lana Chee
- Nora Dunn as Joanne Fletcher
- Tyler Binkley as Terry Fletcher
- Dara Hollingworth as Christine Fletcher
- Ted White as Attendant
- Laura Leigh Hughes as Kersh's Assistant
- Eddie Jackson as Co-Pilot/Rock Man
- Christopher Stapleton as Captain Robert McDonough
- James Yaker as Cashier
- Freeman Michaels as Guard
- Greg Smith as Soldier