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"Maximum Byers" is the eighth episode of the first season of The Lone Gunmen.


Byers and Jimmy pose as prisoners on death row, in an attempt to prove a man's innocence.


On a cruise liner somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, John Fitzgerald Byers, Melvin Frohike, Jimmy Bond, and

Jimmy Bond and old Elvis?

Richard Langly coordinate via earpiece on their latest operation. Langly hides among the crowd at the show while Frohike, Byers, and Bond ambush an old man backstage who is dressed as Elvis. They believe it to be the real Elvis, in hiding for all these many years. Bond tranquilizes him and goes on stage to perform while Byers and Frohike scan the man's fingerprints into the computer. Frohike notices the man's skin is covered in paint and scrapes it away revealing the man to be black.

“I hate to tell you this, bud. Ain’t no way this is the King.”

Fingerprint scan returns one Thomas Aimes, wanted for embezzlement. They realize Jimmy Bond is in trouble and see him arrested by US Marshalls who were watching the show.

Back at the Lone Gunmen headquarters, Jimmy Bond, still wearing Elvis hair, stares at the cover article about US Marshalls arresting an embezzler as a depressed Langly wallows over this outcome. They thought for sure it was Elvis since the embezzler and Elvis shared the same birthday, blood type, and same birthplace.

Langly: “You know, call me crazy, but I’m starting to think that maybe Elvis is really dead.”

Frohike, Wash, Alberta Pfeiffer, Langly, Bond, and Byers.

Frohike answers the door buzzer to find a woman and a man standing at their front steps. The friendly middle-aged woman knows them all by name and greets each of them, introducing herself as Alberta Pfeiffer. She believes in their work and has been an unlikely reader of theirs for 12 years. As such, she believes they could help her son, Douglas.

The man in the business suit introduces himself as Jeremy Wash, attorney of Douglas Pfeiffer who is on death row in Texas awaiting execution. His mother vehemently claims that her son is innocent, points out how he had been fighting tooth and nail in the appeals process, but suddenly wants to get it over with and have an execution date. He won't even meet with anyone but his lawyer anymore. She believes that if anyone can save her son, it's the Lone Gunmen.

After Pfieffer and the lawyer depart, Jimmy Bond asks what they are going to do to save the man. Langly and Frohike don't think there is much they can do if the son is refusing visitors. Jimmy suggests that they infiltrate the prison just like the A-Team did to rescue someone. Surprisingly, Byers agrees to this outlandish plan because they have to try and save an innocent man.

“We defend the defenseless, I don’t see any other way.”

Hiding in an alleyway, Byers asks Bond if he is ready for this and receives the same question from Bond. They

Byers and Bond slip into the prison system.

strip off their outer clothes to reveal orange prison jumpsuits. They put on their shackles and walk over to the prison bus, where Langly has hacked the computer of the guard to add J. Wesley and J. Dillinger. They are waved onto the bus and driven to the Death Row Unit in East Livingston, Texas. Byers and Bond are subjected to the usual battery of humiliating rituals before being delivered to their cells: full body search, showering, sprayed with disinfectant, and issued new prison clothing.

At their cells, they are issued orientation handbooks by the gruff Sergeant Runselhoff who explains that if they obey the rules they will be given privileges or they can disobey and things will get much worse.

The guards depart, Byers and Bond watch an African American inmate call for his pet cockroach Jiminy. Bond asks the Hispanic man covered in tattoos in cell number ten to help. He gets up, walks over, and kills the cockroach with his lit cigarette as the pet's owner watches with his hand mirror. Byers reminds Jimmy Bond that they are there to free Douglas Pfeiffer because no innocent man should be in a place like this.

Frohike and Langly visit Wally's Burgers in North Houston to look into the murder case against Douglas Pfeiffer. As they attempt to break into the closed restaurant, a shopkeeper shows up and threatens to call the police. They confess to being investigative reporters and ask him about the murder that happened there a few years back. The shopkeeper recounts what a nice man Wally was and that he gave every dollar in the register and still was shot dead. The silent alarm brought the police and as the sirens closed in, the shopkeeper saw Pfeiffer fleeing the scene. He is a murderer, not innocent at all.

Byers tries to talk to the tattooed man about where Douglas Pfeiffer is but is merely stared at. A trustee delivering their food explains that the tattooed man is named Lowry and he doesn't talk because he has a ‘sissy-assed lisp.’ Byers asks this man where Pfieffer is and learns he is in the infirmary after a beat down from the guards.

Yves Adele Harlow meets with Langly and Frohike in a motor lodge in Goodrich, Texas. Harlow laughs at the ridiculous plan the Lone Gunmen have hatched, poking holes in the idea by suggesting they should have posed as prison officials, lawyers, or guards.

“And here I thought Byers was the smart one.”

They ask her to go in as a visitor to Jimmy Bond since they tried going in as Byers’ brothers and were caught smuggling a Firewire card in.

Byers relates his plan to get into the infirmary to Jimmy. He knows that he can't fake an injury or injure himself, so he needs to start a fight and get beaten up badly. Byers is taken outside for recreation along with Lowry so he begins to mock Lowry using a fake lisp.

Yves Adele Harlow smiling at the guards as she poses as Jimmy's wife.

Elsewhere, Yves Adele Harlow arrives posing as Dillinger (Jimmy Bond)’s wife to deliver the Firewire card.
Byers pushes Lowry a bit farther without noticing the guards have left the recreation area. Lowry attacks him brutally. The guards are watching the security camera of the visitor’s lounge, paying close attention to Yves Adele Harlow.

“Some moron gets himself locked up in here with that waiting on the outside.”

They notice Lowry beating Byers and go separate them. One of the guards goes to retrieve Jimmy Bond for his visitor.

When Yves and Jimmy meet, he is a bit lost about how to pretend to be her husband but he finally catches on. She buys him some Cheetos but subtly switches the bag she just bought for one concealed within an overshirt she is carrying with her. The guard hands them over to him but Jimmy thinks he should trade them because he likes the puffy kind not the crunchy kind. Yves insists that he keep them for himself.

Lowry attacks Byers.

Byers awakens in the prison hospital with a broken arm among other injuries. He goes to Pfeiffer's bedside, announces he is an investigative reporter who came on behalf of Pfeiffer's mother, and asks to know why a man would give up his appeals so suddenly unless against his will. Pfeiffer promises Byers that he will slit his throat if he ever talks about this with him or anyone else.

Jimmy Bond finds an earpiece with a postage stamp sized piece of perspex for visual communication within the bag of Cheetos. He conceals it from the man in the cell across the way, lying about it being a toy surprise. He starts talking with the cockroach man (Spike) after the man shows a new cockroach.

“That’s Jiminy, huh? I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but if the first one is Jiminy, how is it that that one

Spike shows the new Jiminy.

is Jiminy too?”
“Maybe it is the same Jiminy. Looks like him to me.”
“But the first one is dead.”
“That’s if you believe things really die. I don’t. I think we just take a trip and come back. Maybe we learn something and move on, maybe we don’t. Old Jiminy here, he don’t learn a damn thing. Maybe next time.”
“Hey, Spike. What are you in for?”

Back at the motor lodge, Frohike and Langly reveal to Harlow that they think Pfeiffer made it look like a robbery but it was actually a contract killing. Since Pfeiffer had $26,000 dollars in savings, why would he have robbed a hamburger joint for $138? Following the money back to a company called Brazos Holding, they realized that someone has been buying up the downtown area and is willing to kill obstacles to their plan. The man who is behind this holding company is none other than Jeremy Wash, Pfeiffer's defense attorney.

Langly and Frohike tell Bond about Atherton.

Langly and Frohike speak with Jimmy Bond via the Firewire headset and explain Pfeiffer is no innocent but a killer for hire. The lawyer is behind it all with his plans for a big high-rise but key landowners wouldn't sell so he paid to have them removed. Jimmy asks why Wash would want them talking with Pfeiffer and they answer that he didn't but assumed they would never get in to speak with him. Wash would have to keep the semblance of looking out for his client even if he isn't.

However, they believe there is an innocent man in death row with them. Wallace Crendell Atherton was framed for the murder of a mechanic named Michael Culey (another holdout landowner) by Douglas Pfeiffer. Spike across the way yells at the guard to draw his attention away from Jimmy Bond's device.

“Shut the hell up, Atherton. Go play with your bugs.”

Pfieffer relates that he is healing up well and should be able to go on Death Watch and 36 hours later he will be executed. Byers tries to get him to tell them something but he still refuses to squeal.

Langly and Frohike angrily discuss how they can't find any major evidence that would clear Atherton because Pfeiffer covered his tracks too well. When Jeremy Wash appears, they pretend not to know anything new to help Pfeiffer. Frohike covers the arrival of Yves by claiming she is his fiancé. Wash leaves but listens at the door so he overhears them explain that Wash has been depositing money into the account of Alberta Pfeiffer ever since Douglas entered death row. Wash can help Douglas’ mother or harm her so Douglas Pfeiffer is keeping his mouth shut about his other crimes. They have to get to Pfeiffer and convince him to testify against Wash and help free Atherton.

Jimmy Bond smuggles a note to John Byers through the prison trustee. Spike/Atherton questions Jimmy trusting the man to deliver it and Bond explains that he has to trust people until they prove he can't trust them. He asks Spike/Atherton what he would do if he was proven innocent and set free. Spike/Atherton tells him three things: He would shake the hands of those who freed him. He wouldn't ever squander the precious time given by God. And to devote himself to his lifelong dream of protecting cockroaches...

Lowry meets with Jeremy Wash and orders him to murder Douglas Pfeiffer when he gets transferred to Death Watch in the morning.

Jimmy explains that he sent a note to Byers but Frohike and Langly point out they only have eight hours until the transfer and then they won't be able to talk to Pfeiffer again. They intend to save the day somehow.

Byers receives the note and learns Pfeiffer is guilty, the lawyer is guilty, and that an innocent man can be saved

Pfeiffer and Byers in the infirmary.

if Byers can convince Pfeiffer to tell the truth. Byers tells Pfeiffer he is guilty but he could still be the person his mother thinks he is if he confesses everything. He seems partially convinced but Lowry's sudden attack with a piece of sharp metal cements it. He is saved only because Byers hits Lowry over the head with a bedpan. He urges Pfeiffer to confess as the guards take the soon-to-be-executed man away.

Jeremy Wash arrested.

The guards seem to be interested in Wesley (Byers) and Dillinger (Bond) because they don't belong there. Sgt. Runselhoff takes Jimmy Bond away to be transferred to his “proper prison” yet all Jimmy can think about is not wanting to go since he doesn't want to abandon the innocent Spike/Atherton. He is delivered to two guards (Frohike and Langly) who bring him and Byers to a prison transfer van.

Jeremy Wash feigns concern when the guards tell him his client was attacked. Sergeant Runselhoff informs him that his client is fine and won't be transferred for quite some time. Douglas Pfeiffer is brought out and tells off Wash for not being willing to wait another 36 hours for him to die. He has implicated Wash in the murders of Wally Spinelli and Michael Culey. Two Texas rangers arrest and handcuff Wash.

Spike/Wallace Atherton free and shaking the hands of his liberators.

A series of headlines and scenes in a montage reveal the following series of events:
Wash is convicted.
Spike/Atherton is released and awarded a multimillion-dollar settlement. He sets up his Roach Rescue Clinic and enthusiastically shakes the hands of the five Lone Gunmen.
Pfeiffer Execution set for midnight. At the prison, John Byers and Jimmy Bond wait outside the gates as guards drive up and deliver the message

Jimmy Bond and John Byers at Pfeiffer's execution.

that Douglas Robert Pfeiffer is dead. Mrs. Alberta Pfeiffer moves through the crowd of pro and anti death penalty protestors until she is stopped briefly by Byers. He says only ‘Mrs. Pfeiffer’ but the words carry condolences and apologies as if he had said five thousand words instead of two. Crying, she slaps him and moves on through the crowd.

Byers looks broken but Jimmy tries to cheer him up.

“I know how you feel. But I got to figure it’s like Spike and his cockroaches.”
“Maybe we don’t so much die, as learn something and then move on.”
They walk away into the rain.

Background Information[]

  • This episode is the only one of the series that was written by Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan, without input from writer or at least without Shiban also being credited.
  • The Gunmen have a room in the Sam Houston Motor Lodge. Mulder and Scully stayed in a motel by the same name in "Bad Blood".
  • The episode starts with the Lone Gunmen searching for proof of a living Elvis Presley. This is a recurring The X-Files joke in which Mulder firmly believes the same thing.
  • Jimmy's false identity, J. Dillinger, is possibly a reference to Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger, who escaped from prison twice. Byers is listed as J. Wesley, which might reference either Texas outlaw John Wesley Hardin, or Christian theologian and idealist John Wesley, who fought for many changes including prison reform.
  • The "Firewire headset" is very similar to today's Google Glass. This episode aired in 2001, way before Google Glass or even before the MicroOptical was in the market. ([1])



Guest Starring