- “Cerulean blue. Cerulean makes me think of a breeze. A gentle breeze.”
- — Robert Patrick Modell
"Pusher" is the seventeenth episode of the third season of The X-Files. Written by Vince Gilligan and directed by Rob Bowman, it first aired in the United States on February 23, 1996 on the Fox network. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, separate from the series' Mythology arc.
Mulder and Scully pursue a dying man who can apparently bend others to his will and convince his victims to severely hurt or even kill themselves.
Robert Patrick Modell is seen purchasing a large supply of "Carbo Boost" energy drinks at a supermarket. Aware that he is the target of an FBI operation, Modell blows the FBI's agents cover and is subsequently arrested by officer Frank Burst. While being transported away, Modell begins talking about the color Cerulean blue, seemingly causing the driver to be completely unaware of an oncoming rig of that same color, causing a collision.
Officer Burst, having survived the crash, details Mulder and Scully of the incident and how Modell, who refers to himself as "Pusher", convinced the driver to unlock his handcuffs before escaping. It is revealed that Modell, who had been a contract killer in the last few years, made his acts appear as suicides. Analyzing a clue left by Modell at the scene of the crash, Mulder notices the word "Ronin", and subsequently finds an ad placement in an "American Ronin" magazine. Mulder theorizes Modell has the ability to "Push" his will onto others.
Using the numbers placed in the ad, Mulder and Scully are contacted by Modell at a payphone in Falls Church, Virginia, where they are able to trace the call back to a golf course. On the driving range, Modell senses that he is being watched, and abruptly leaves the course. A SWAT team member tracks down Modell, who persuades the SWAT member to set himself on fire with gasoline. Mulder finds a weary Modell in a nearby car and arrests him.
At Modell's arraignment, he uses his ability to convince the judge of his innocence and is freed. The agents conduct research into Modell's background and learn he failed to join the FBI. Modell enters the FBI headquarters, where he simply writes 'PASS' on a piece of paper he sticks to his lapel and swiftly passes through security. Modell 'pushes' Holly into granting him access to the FBI database, allowing him to locate Mulder's information. A suspicious Walter Skinner enters the room and intervenes, where a struggle ensues. Modell convinces Holly that it was Skinner who mugged her, causing her to attack him. After a series of inexplicable incidents, Scully believes Mulder's theory that Modell possesses the ability to push his will onto others.
A raid is conducted on Modell's apartment, but find it empty. Cans of energy drinks are found stored in the fridge and tegretol to treat Modell's epilepsy. Mulder suggests that Modell has a brain tumor, which has given him is ability as a form of psychokinesis, but must constantly replenish himself with energy drinks due to the physically exhausting nature of his powers. Modell makes a phone call to Agent Burst and causes him to have a fatal heart attack. The agents trace the call to a payphone, realizing he must be located at a nearby hospital.
Mulder enters the hospital, where Modell has induced a guard to shoot an MRI technician before killing himself. Scully notices a computer monitor through Mulder's camera, confirming Modell's brain tumor. As Mulder is scanning Modell's chart, he looks behind to find Modell pointing a revolver at him, at which point the camera feed cuts, prompting Scully to enter the premises.
Scully finds the two sitting at a table with a revolver, where Modell forces Mulder to play Russian roulette. Mulder pulls the trigger at Modell, then himself, before aiming at an increasingly agitated Scully. Scully notices a fire alarm in a mirror, which she pulls, seemingly breaking Modell's concentration, allowing Mulder to target Modell and shoot him instead.
Later on, the agents visit Modell's hospital bed, where he is in a coma. Scully predicts Modell will not wake from his coma before the tumor kills him. Mulder reveals that Modell's tumor had been operable all along, but Modell had consistently refused treatment. When asked why, Mulder reiterates Scully's earlier judgment of Modell, that he was a "little man" whose abilities made him feel big.
"Cerulean blue is a gentle breeze."
"So he's a killer and a golfer" - Scully, after finding out Modell called the golf place.
"Modell psyched the guy out. He put the whammy on him."
"Please explain to me the scientific nature of the whammy." - Mulder and Scully, discussing the effect that Modell had on the judge.
- Roger R. Cross as S.W.A.T. Lieutenant Brophy
- Steve Bacic as Agent Will Collins
- Don MacKay as Judge
- Brent Sheppard as Prosecutor
- D. Neil Mark as Deputy Scott Kerber
- Julia Arkos as Holly
- Meredith Bain Woodward as Defense Attorney
- Ernie Foort as Lobby Guard
- Darren Lucas as Lead S.W.A.T. Cop