As a rebel alien race secretly attacks several groups of former abductees, the agents meet Cassandra Spender, a woman who claims to be a multiple abductee and wants to deliver a positive message about aliens, but Mulder, now skeptical about extraterrestrial activity and suspecting that the government is behind the abduction phenomena, is disturbed when Scully forms a special bond with the woman.
In Kazakhstan, former Soviet Union, two teenage boys watch as a UFO disappears behind a mountain top. The boys run off to tell their families, but as they sprint through the woods, they come upon an area filled with burning automobiles. A screaming man, his body ablaze, appears out of the dense smoke, causing the boys to run. One of them, Dmitri, takes refuge in the woods. The next morning, he is discovered by Krycek, who is in the company of a unit of Russian soldiers. With the boy in custody, Krycek and his men approach Marita Covarrubias, who, along with U.N. troops, is sifting through the burned out wreckage. Krycek tells Marita he knows who she works for--and to tell her superiors he has a witness (Dmitri).
Back in the United States, Mulder takes part in a visiting lecturers forum. He disagrees with the opinions voiced by his fellow panelists regarding a woman referred to as "Patient X," an apparent abductee who seeks answers as to why aliens are on Earth. Mulder maintains that there is no complicity between the military and alien abductions. Instead, he believes the government is developing biological warfare and hiding the fact by concocting stories about "little green men." When the discussion ends, Mulder is approached by Dr. Werber, the man who performed regression hypnosis on him five years earlier (leading Mulder to believe his sister was abducted). Werber reveals that he is Patient X's doctor. He arranges a meeting between Mulder and the woman, Cassandra, believing that she will change his mind regarding his new theory. Cassandra believes the aliens are on Earth to deliver a message. But something, she fears, has gone wrong.
Krycek extracts information from Dmitri by subjecting him to a beating. He then orders a Russian doctor to expose the teenager to the alien black oil. The liquid enters Dmitri's body through his mouth and nose. Dmitri, his eyes and mouth sewn shut, is then transported back to the US on a Russian freighter. Meanwhile, Covarrubias briefs Syndicate members on the mysterious burn site in Kazakhstan. Covarrubias believes the act was aimed at the Syndicate, and reveals that Krycek captured a witness at the site. Krycek phones the group and offers to trade Dmitri for all research information pertaining to a vaccine against the black oil.
At the FBI building, Scully is approached by Agent Spender, who identifies himself as Cassandra's son. Spender tells Scully that his mother is a very disturbed woman. Later, Scully tells Mulder about the conversation. She then peruses Cassandra's medical file, growing intrigued when she realizes Cassandra claims to have been abducted at Skyland Mountain, the same site where Scully was taken by Duane Barry. The file also reveals that Cassandra has an implant in the base of her neck. Mulder brushes off the findings, agreeing with Spender's conclusion. But so intrigued is Scully by the developments that she pays Cassandra a visit at the psychiatric hospital. There, she grows unnerved when Cassandra tells her that some nights she awakens feeling as though she must be somewhere, but not knowing where to go.
Meanwhile, a group of abductees gather at Skyland Mountain. As an Unknown Man drives down the mountain road, he encounters faceless men chasing another man. One of the faceless men drives a metallic wand into the Running Man's back, setting him ablaze. Later, Mulder and Scully inspect the site. The situation forces Scully in the opposite position she would normally take, for despite a lack of evidence, she believes the event is linked to her abduction. The agents are contacted by Cassandra, who warns "they" must be stopped. The agents are then approached by Spender, who explains that his mother was part of a UFO cult.
Back at the Syndicate office, group members conclude that the latest burning is aimed at sabotaging their work. Quiet Willy is dispatched to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, Covarrubias rendezvous with Krycek at the freighter, which is docked in New York Harbor. The two share a hungry kiss, then exit so they can be alone. When Krycek returns, Dmitri has vanished. The Well-Manicured Man appears, demanding to know where the boy has gone.
After examining the evidence, Mulder concludes the victims of the mass burning were led to Skyland Mountain by the government when it triggered the implant devices. But he is at a loss to explain why they were killed. Their conversation is interrupted by a call from Covarrubias, who informs Mulder of the similar incident in former Soviet Union, and of the witness, Dmitri. Suddenly, the black oil oozes from Dmitri, and Covarrubias drops the phone.Scully suffers an attack--not unlike the one Cassandra described earlier. She travels to Ruskin Dam, where a throng of people have gathered, including Cassandra, in the company of Quiet Willy, and Dmitri, the stitches having been torn from his eyes and mouth. A glowing ship passes overhead and disappears over adjacent treetops. Suddenly, screams are heard from the far edge of the congregation, where faceless men wielding alien weapons set people ablaze.
To Be Continued...
- Nicholas Lea is now credited under the "Also Starring" heading.
- Cassandra Spender, played by Veronica Cartwright. She would later return in the season 6 two-parter "Two Fathers/One Son".
- Veronica Cartwright was nominated for an Emmy award in 1998 for her performance as Cassandra Spender.
- How was Krycek able to get a unit of Russian soldiers into Kazakhstan without any international problems? There has been a limited Russian Armiya presence in Kazakhstan since the end of the Cold War associated with several Radar installations and the Baikonur Cosmodrome. However it would be unlikely that these troops would normally be allowed free movement with their weapons beyond their bases. It is much more unusual that Dutch UN Peacekeepers would be deployed to the country without some exceptional crisis to warrant their presence.
- The shot of Krycek's ship in New York Harbour is a reused shot of the ship in Season 2's 'Dod Kalm' with a cut out of the New York skyline superimposed in the background.
- Well look who's answering the Batphone. An obvious reference to the Batman lore, whereby the Batphone was the way of contacting Batman in an emergency.
- This whole phenomenon is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a government agenda. This is almost ad verbatim a famous quote by Winston Churchill on the Soviet Union in the 1940s.
- Cassandra Spender was named for a figure in Greek mythology, the prophet Cassandra. The god Apollo fell in love with her and granted her the gift of prophecy, however since she did not love him back he cursed the gift by having no one believe her prophecies. Cassandra, who claimed to speak for the aliens, was sarcastically called "The Prophet" by Mulder as he was talking to her son.
- In season 2's 'Ascension' Skyland Mountain was a private ski resort, yet here we are told it is a national park. Response: It's possible in the time since Ascension that it became a national park.
- It seems unlikely that so many cars would have been allowed to go up to Skyland Mountain at that time of night, and wouldn't the ranger have been a bit suspicious?
Cast and Characters
- Chris Owens (Special Agent Jeffrey Spender) previously played Young Cigarette Smoking Man in The X-Files episodes "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" and "Demons", Deputy Bill Sherman in the Millennium episode "Monster" and The Great Mutato in "The Post-Modern Prometheus".
- Veronica Cartwright as Cassandra Spender (First appearance)
- Laurie Holden as Marita Covarrubias
- Brian Thompson as Alien Bounty Hunter
- Jim Jansen as Heitz Werber
- John Neville as Well-Manicured Man
- Chris Owens as Special Agent Jeffrey Spender (First appearance)
- Ron Halder as Dr. Floyd Fazio
- Kurt Max Runte as Ranger
- John Moore as Third Elder
- Raoul Ganeev as Guard
- Anatol Rezmeritsa as Commandant
- Max Wyman as Dr. Per Lagerqvist
- Barbara Dyke as Dr. Alepin