"Fresh Bones" is the fifteenth episode of the second season of The X-Files. Written by Howard Gordon and directed by Rob Bowman, it premiered on the Fox network on February 3, 1995. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc.
After several murders occur within a Haitian refugee camp, Mulder and Scully are caught in the middle of a secret battle involving a Voodoo priest and the camp commander.
In Folkstone, North Carolina, Jack McAlpin, an agitated Marine Corps private, drives his car into a tree after several hallucinatory episodes and is apparently killed. On the tree is a veve, a drawn voodoo religious symbol.
McAlpin is the second purported suicide among troops stationed at an INS compound processing refugees from Haiti. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully visit the compound to investigate McAlpin's death. There, a young boy named Chester Bonaparte sells a good luck charm to Mulder. After meeting with Colonel Wharton, head of the compound, Mulder meets with an imprisoned refugee, Pierre Bauvais, and an associate of McAlpin's, Harry Dunham. When Scully attempts to perform an autopsy on McAlpin's body, she finds a dog carcass in its place at the morgue.
While driving down the road, Mulder and Scully discover a still-living McAlpin, who doesn't remember what has happened to him. Tetrodotoxin, a chemical Mulder believes is part of Haitian zombification rituals, is found in McAlpin's blood. The agents go to the local graveyard to investigate the corpse of the other dead soldier, but find the grave robbed. They also find Chester, who collects frogs at the cemetery and sells them to Bauvais. Dunham approaches Mulder, telling him that Wharton has begun abusing the refugees as a means of retaliation against Bauvais; Wharton denies the accusations, but later has Bauvais beaten to death.
Scully cuts her hand on the thorn of a twig left in her car. When she drives off, a veve is seen on the ground under her car. Mulder has a meeting with X, who tells him that he and Scully will soon be called back to Washington and that the camp will be restricted to military personnel only. Mulder believes Wharton is persecuting the refugees after the suicide of some of his men during a previous trip to Haiti. Scully finds Dunham dead in a bathtub, and Mulder catches McAlpin with a knife nearby. Although he has no recollection of the event, McAlpin confesses to the murder under the influence of Wharton, who tells the agents that Bauvais committed suicide and that their investigation is over.
McAlpin's wife provides the agents with a photo of Wharton with Bauvais in Haiti, causing the agents to go through his office. They find that both Dunham and McAlpin had filed complaints against Wharton over his treatment of the detainees. The agents head to the cemetery, where Wharton is performing a voodoo rite over Bauvais' coffin. When Mulder confronts him, Wharton harms him through sympathetic magic. Meanwhile, in a hallucinatory episode, a man emerges from the small cut in Scully's hand and strangles her, but the illusion disappears when she grabs the charm Chester sold them. Bauvais appears and stops Wharton by blowing zombie powder in his face. Scully arrives to assist Mulder and pronounces Wharton dead.
The next day the agents say goodbye to McAlpin, who reveals that Chester was a boy who had died in the riot six weeks earlier. The episode ends with Wharton being unwittingly buried alive by the graveyard watchman.
- Near the end of the episode, when Colonel Wharton is in the cemetery he speaks an incantation in Creole (Haitian dialect of French). There are no subtitles, but it can be translated as, "To the Saints, To the moon, To the stars".
- The symbol painted on the tree and on the conch shell is a "vévé," a sign belonging to the spirits honored in voodoo.
- Any properly trained FBI agent would be on high alert if someone happen to draw a gun, even if their intent wasn't to shoot them. The gravedigger just reaches into his jacket and pulls out a gun and Mulder and Scully don't even blink an eye.
Cast and Characters
- Callum Keith Rennie (Groundskeeper) previously played Thomas Phillips in The X-Files episode "Lazarus".
- Bruce Young as Pierre Bauvais
- Daniel Benzali as Colonel Jacob Wharton
- Jamil Walker Smith as Chester Bonaparte
- Matt Hill as Private Harry Dunham
- Callum Keith Rennie as Groundskeeper
- Steven Williams as X
- Kevin Conway as Private Jack McAlpin
- Katya Gardener as Robin McAlpin
- Roger R. Cross as Private Kittell
- Peter Kelamis as Lieutenant Foyle