A seemingly paranormal chain of events lead Frank Black to discover an unusual man who has created a bizarre family of cloned daughters in preparation for a great apocalyptic disaster on May 5, 2000.
During a hailstorm in Roseburg, Oregon university students run to find shelter. One girl, Lauren (Kristi Angus), stands in the rain, lights a cigarette, and goes up in flames. Millennium Group consultant Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) travels to the university to interview witnesses to the death. A teaching assistant tells Black that the dead girl was highly intelligent, pointing out an armillary sphere Lauren had constructed. She also tells Black that the previous Millennium Group contact had taken great interest in this sphere. Black did not realize the Group had sent another member, but on leaving, he meets the man in question—Dennis Hoffman (Brad Dourif). Hoffman describes his theories to Black, detailing how when several planets achieve syzygy on May 5, 2000, a series of natural disasters will bring about the end of the world. Hoffman believes that this cataclysm will be preceded by strange events and weather patterns.
Black later contacts another Group member, Peter Watts (Terry O'Quinn), who tells him that Hoffman had attempted to join the Group years earlier, and although he was refused admission, has continued to track the Group's activities harmlessly. Watts also finds that Lauren is not her parents' biological child, but cannot find any record of her adoption. Group coroner Cheryl Andrews (C. C. H. Pounder) finds traces of accelerant on the body, and rules the death a suicide. She also finds an astrological symbol representing conjunction carved in the girl's thigh.
At a waterfall, another girl commits suicide by drowning. The girl, Carlin, looks identical to Lauren. Andrews performs an autopsy on Carlin as well, finding the same astrological symbol. It also becomes clear that the two girls are related—identical twins, born seven years apart. The girls are clones, produced using a technique similar to that used to create identical cattle. Black believes that this is connected to Hoffman's Earth Changes theory, that someone is breeding offspring destined to survive May 5, 2000.
Hoffman provides the Group with information leading them to Pocatello, Idaho, where a group of even more cloned girls is found living in a commune. The police fear that a cult-involved suicide may be being planned, and they take the girls into protective custody. The girls are taken onto a bus as Black speaks to their biological father, a preacher confined to a negative pressure ventilator (Morgan Woodward). The man reveals to Black that he attempted to create a caste of pure and innocent people who could repopulate society benevolently after the cataclysm. He contacted some of the girls to let them know he would die before the apocalyptic date, and they committed suicide shortly afterwards. That night, a power cut stops the man's ventilator, killing him.
When Black leaves to meet with the girls in custody, he finds that the bus driver was another of the man in the ventilator's offspring, and has escaped with the clones; Hoffman has also disappeared. Black realizes that the building they found the girls in is located in an area of extreme geological stability, and is built on shock absorbing foundations—Black does not know where the cult has escaped to, but he does know where they will be on May 5, 2000.
- The idea of a massive flood due to a planetary alignment on 5/5/2000 was a real concept and not simply created for the episode, as the alignment came as expected and a number of books were written about the possibility of various "Earth changes" associated with the event. This same alignment is expected to occur again on 5/5/2040
Cast and Characters
- Brad Dourif (Dennis Hoffman) previously played Luther Lee Boggs in The X-Files episode "Beyond the Sea".
- Timothy Webber (Sheriff Camden) previously played Detective Talbot in The X-Files episode "Tooms", Jess Harold in "Our Town" and Dr. Paul Faraday in "Quagmire".
- Mitchell Kosterman (Lieutenant) previously played Detective Horton in The X-Files episode "Gender Bender" and "Sleepless" and Fornier in "The List".
- Merrilyn Gann (Carlin's Mother) previously played Prosecuting Attorney in The X-Files episode "Young at Heart".
- Lance Henriksen as Frank Black
- Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black
- Terry O'Quinn as Peter Watts
- Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black
- Brad Dourif as Dennis Hoffman
- Morgan Woodward as Iron Lung Man
- Timothy Webber as Sheriff Camden
- CCH Pounder as Cheryl Andrews
- Mitchell Kosterman as Lieutenant
- Sarah Strange as Maura
- Kristi Angus as Lauren/Carlin
- Peter Hanlon as Manager
- Cindy Girling as Myra
- Phillip Mitchell as Uniform No. 1
- Merrilyn Gann as Carlin's Mother
- Carolyn Tweedle as Lauren's Mother
SEMICOLON-SEPARATED LIST OF ITEMS/LOCATIONS REFERENCED IN EPISODE (BUT NOT LINKED TO IF ALREADY LINKED IN SUMMARY OR GUEST STARS SECTIONS)
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