- “Progress demands sacrifice!”
- — Victor Klemper
Written by series creator Chris Carter and directed by Rob Bowman, Paper Clip helped explore the series' mythology arc, and served as a conclusion to a three-part storyline that began with the season 2 finale Anasazi, and the season 3 premiere The Blessing Way.
After Mulder and Scully are reunited, they investigate a photograph that seems to connect Mulder's father to experiments that were conducted after World War II but used scientific knowledge from Nazi Germany.
Continued from The Blessing Way
Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) hold each other at gunpoint. The door to the apartment bursts open, revealing to them both for the first time that Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is alive. After a short Mexican standoff, Skinner puts his gun down. Mulder also demands that Skinner surrender a digital tape containing secret government files. Skinner insists on keeping the tape, saying it is their only leverage in exposing the conspiracy and getting the agents reinstated in the FBI.
The agents visit The Lone Gunmen, showing them a photo featuring Fox's father Bill Mulder, The Smoking Man, Deep Throat, and other members of the Syndicate. The Lone Gunmen also recognize Victor Klemper, a notorious Nazi scientist who was brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip. Melvin Frohike informs Scully of her sister Melissa's condition. Mulder persuades Scully not to visit Melissa at the hospital, since she could be targeted there.
Meanwhile, the Syndicate meets. Furious that an innocent person was murdered, the Syndicate demands that Smoking Man produce the digital tape. The Smoking Man promises to do so the following day.
Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully visit Klemper in his extensive orchid greenhouse, who says that the photo was taken at the Strughold Mining Company in West Virginia. He also provides them with a cryptic clue about Napier's Constant. After the agents leave, Klemper calls the Well-Manicured Man and informs him that Mulder is alive. The news causes the Syndicate to further mistrust the Smoking Man.
At the hospital, Albert Hosteen visits Melissa while a suited man loiters nearby.
Mulder and Scully arrive at the mining site. Despite the abandoned, generally dilapidated nature of the building, they come across a series of high-security stainless vault-type doors, each with a digital keypad lock. After being unsuccessful using the numerical digits of Napier's constant at the first few doors, it unlocks one.
Skinner meets with the Cigarette Smoking Man, telling him that he may have found the digital tape. The Cigarette Smoking Man is extremely agitated at this, insisting that he will not make a deal with Skinner, tacitly threatening Skinner's life.
Mulder and Scully find a large complex of filing cabinets containing smallpox vaccination records and tissue samples. After realizing that the're filed chronologically by birth date, Mulder finds Scully's file and also that of his sister. Peeling back the label reveals that it was originally marked with his name. Hearing noises, Mulder heads outside where he witnesses a huge UFO rise up and fly overhead. Small space alien-like beings run past Scully. Mulder sees a line of vehicles approaching. Armed soldiers storm the building and begin shooting at Mulder. He is able to find Scully and they escape through an alternate route.
Mulder and Scully meet with Skinner at a diner in rural Maryland. Skinner wants to turn over the digital tape in exchange for their reinstatement to the FBI and safety. After initially objecting, Mulder agrees to let Skinner turn the digital tape over. Skinner heads to see Melissa in the hospital and is told by Albert of the mysterious blue-suited man outside.
Skinner chases the man to a stairwell where he is attacked by Alex Krycek and Luis Cardinal, who steal the digital tape and flee. While stopped at a liquor store, the other two men leave the car and Krycek narrowly escapes with his life when the car explodes. The men see him scurry away.
Mulder and Scully return to Klemper's greenhouse, finding the Well-Manicured Man there. He admits to knowing Mulder's father and states that during the Cold War Mulder's father helped gather genetic data for post-apocalyptic identification - data Klemper used to work on alien-human hybrids. When Mulder's father learned of this, he threatened to expose them, so Samantha was taken to ensure his silence.
Krycek phones the Cigarette Smoking Man, telling him that he has the tape.
The Cigarette Smoking Man lies to the rest of the Syndicate, telling them that Scully's would-be assassin was killed in a car explosion that destroyed the tape too.
Mulder confronts his mother, who eventually reveals that his father chose that Samantha be taken.
At FBI headquarters, Skinner once again meets with the Cigarette Smoking Man about the tape. The Smoking Man calls Skinner's bluff, knowing he no longer has the tape, but Skinner reveals that Albert and twenty other Navajo have memorized the content of the tape and are ready to reveal it if Mulder or Scully are harmed.
Mulder meets with Scully at the hospital, who reveals that her sister died a few hours before. Mulder tells Scully that he believes that the truth is still in the X-Files. Scully tells him that she's heard the truth, and now what she wants are the answers.
- The voice-over at the start of this episode was drawn from stories that Navajo medicine men shared with Chris Carter. The idea of a white buffalo being a harbinger of change was influenced by Carter reading about Native Americans beliefs that a white buffalo calf birth was an omen.
- The scene in which Krycek flees from the imminent car bomb was hampered by difficulties with the pyrotechnics. Krycek actor Nicholas Lea was among a group that repeatedly rehearsed the scene but found that the pyrotechnics were not working. Although this caused him to become more nervous while filming the scene, the crew finally managed to make the explosion work and, according to Lea, he got about thirty or forty feet away from the rigged detonation before the concussive pressure of the blast almost pushed him to the ground.
- In contrast to the birthdate listed on Samantha Mulder's biography (referenced in the episode "Conduit"), Samantha's birthdate is noted as being on November 21, 1965 on her medical file in this episode. Her middle name is also noted as "Ann" on the file, which contradicts her biography as well.
- When asked how Scully was asked how she was aware that Mulder was going to be okay by Mulder, she replies "I just knew." This was likely an allusion to the episode Eve, where the two twins are asked how they knew that they were clones, as well as how they knew Eve 8 would return, to which they reply that they "just knew."
- Mulder and Scully are directed to the "Strughold" Mining Facility by Victor Klemper, where they discover evidence of government experiments on the public. It is unclear whether this facility is connected to Conrad Strughold, who is depicted as the leader of the Syndicate in The X-Files: Fight the Future. Also, Dr. Hubertus Strughold was a Nazi medical researcher who emigrated to the U.S. as part of Operation Paperclip; his experiments were similar to those described by Victor Klemper in this episode.
Klemper mentions "Freud, Salk, Crick, Watson". He refers to Sigmund Freud, Jonas Salk, Francis Crick and James Watson ( molecular biologist).
Cast and Characters
- Robert Lewis (ER Doctor) previously played Officer in The X-Files episode "Eve" and Officer in "Duane Barry".
- Walter Gotell as Victor Klemper
- Melinda McGraw as Melissa Scully
- Sheila Larken as Margaret Scully
- Nicholas Lea as Alex Krycek
- William B. Davis as Cigarette Smoking Man
- John Neville as Well-Manicured Man
- Tom Braidwood as Melvin Frohike
- Dean Haglund as Richard Langly
- Bruce Harwood as John Fitzgerald Byers
- Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman as Albert Hosteen
- Rebecca Toolan as Teena Mulder
- Don S. Williams as First Elder
- Robert Lewis as ER Doctor
- Lenno Britos as Luis Cardinal