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"Orison" is the seventh episode of the of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network in the United States on January 9, 2000. The episode was written by Chip Johannessen, and was directed by Rob Bowman.

Orison is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc, and also saw the return of Donnie Pfaster, who originally appeared in the season 2 episode Irresistible.


Reverend Orison wants to save Donnie Pfaster's soul by helping him break out of prison, but Pfaster only wants the woman who once escaped from him - Scully.


A man gets his fingers chopped off during a workshop in prison and all the people in the prison move very slowly to help him, while one man walks out at regular speed. The man is Donnie Pfaster who kidnapped Scully five

Orison digs a grave for Pfaster before he is killed by Pfaster himself

years earlier (Season 2 Episode "Irresistible"). The man is obsessed with women's hair and eats their fingers. It turns out three men escaped from three prisons and all had contact with the prison chaplain (Reverend Orison). The US Marshals corner Pfaster and Orison at a diner, but Orison uses his powers to distract the Marshals as they escape. Pfaster picks up a prostitute and hits Orison while driving off.

Meanwhile, Scully keeps hearing the same song ("Don't Look Any Further") everywhere she goes. Mulder and Scully question Orison and show him photos of the remains of the prostitute Pfaster killed. They also find that Orison killed someone and spent 22 years in prison. Orison claims he is being spoken to by God and doing his work. Mulder finds that Orison has three times the bloodflow capacity of the brain, and he drilled a hole in head which allows him to perform mental tricks by hypnotizing people. He does this while repeating the phrase "Glory, Amen."

Orison hypnotizes the security guard in his room and escapes. Pfaster hired a prostitute, but realizes she has a wig and attempts to attack her, but she gets away. Orison finds Pfaster and takes him at gunpoint while he digs

Donald Pfaster looks upon Dana Scully before she kills him

a grave for him, but Pfaster morphs into a beast and kills Orison, burying him in his own shallow grave. Pfaster then calls the police to tell them where Orison is buried and goes to Scully's house. He attacks Scully, where Scully tells him that the only reason he wasn't dead was because she asked the judge for life. He overpowers her and locks her in her own closet. Mulder thinks something may be wrong when he hears the same song on his radio and calls Scully, but there is no answer so he goes over. Meanwhile, Scully escapes from the closet and shoots Pfaster, killing him.


Background Information[]


  • This episode's title is a literary word for a prayer.
  • This episode of The X-Files is the third of three in which a person can be seen walking towards camera before the screen cuts to black, as happens at the end of this episode's teaser section. The earlier two examples of this occur, firstly, at the end of the teaser section of the episode Irresistible and again in the cliffhanger conclusion of the episode '. "Irresistible" features Donald Pfaster approaching the camera, similar to this episode, and "Piper Maru" features Alex Krycek doing so.
  • There is actually a fourth example of a character walking towards the camera when the scene cuts to black: CSM in the pilot episode of Season 1, after filing away the implant.
  • This episode features the song "Don't Look Any Further" by Dennis Edwards & Siedah Garrett which has significant meaning to Scully.
  • Singer John Hiatt recorded a cover version of the song "Don't Look Any Further" specifically for "Orison."


  • During the scene in which Scully and fight, she tries to call 911 but is interrupted after she has already picked up the telephone, so when later on Mulder calls her on the phone he should find the line busy, which does not happen.
  • When Pfaster tips off the police as to where to find Orison's body, Mulder remarks that the case is over - he's dead in a grave he dug himself. How would Mulder know who dug the grave?
Answer/ContentionHe was speaking figuratively. It was Mulder and Scully's theory that Orison brought the convicts out there to pass judgment on them and dig their own graves. Thus, in a way, Orison brought this upon himself and he "dug his own grave". 
  • When the priest was digging Pfaster's grave, asking him to repent, Pfaster says he can't be killed because he is the Devil (in turn killing the priest without a gun and hands tied), but later on Scully's bullets seem to work perfectly well on him...
Answer/Contention: Like in the season 3 episode Die Hand Die Verletzt and the season 6 episode Terms of Endearment Pfaster may be a devil, but he is in a human body which is capable of being hurt or killed. He probably assumed his true form to scare the priest.
  • How does Mulder know that Donnie Pfaster escaped at exactly 6:06AM when no-one can remember him walking out of the prison? 
Answer/ContentionPrison cameras likely showed him walking out.



  • Mulder is alluding to William Blake's work when he speaks about the "Doors of Perception" in relation to the gates of Hell. Blake says in his "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" that "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite."
  • Musical Reference: "Sheep go to Heaven, Goats go to Hell" This phrase is amongst the words scrawled on the prison chapel's walls. This is the chorus line of the song "Sheep go to Heaven" by the band Cake - one of Gillian Anderson's favorite bands. It also refers to the division of the just and the unjust upon death, which is something that Scully grapples with at the end of the episode.
  • Biblical Reference: Scully's clock malfunctions, showing the time as 6:66. 666 is generally taken to be the number of the Beast, i.e. the Devil. Interestingly, in 2005, technological advances allowed scholars to read illegible portions of the earliest known record of The Book of Revelations and found the Number of the Beast stated there to be 616 rather than 666.
  • The hole in Orison head (technically skull), is actually a real life procedure (though controversial) known as Trepanation. It is basically the driling of the skull, in which a hole (or holes) are made, allowing more blood stream flow to the brain. Several contemporary individuals undergo Trepanation, believing it enables higher levels of awareness, creativity, ESP, sixth sense, and less pressure to the brain. Trepanation has been found to be done since thousands of years ago, with human skulls found drilled.

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