In a small remote town in Utah, Scully is trapped by the town's residents, a religious cult that worships a parasitic creature inserted near its host's spine.
SummaryA hitchhiker makes a phone call at the pay phone and then tries to hitch a ride from a passing bus. It passes him by but his yelling brings the bus to a stop. He hops onto this bus in the middle of the Utah desert. When they stop without explanation, he watches a man with crutches leave the bus, followed by everyone else. Following them, he sees them stone the man to death. They surround the man as he futilely tries to escape.
Scully goes to investigate the above murder in which the victim’s body had aged prematurely. A twenty two year old backpacker who now shows signs of body decay usually associated with old age. She asks John Doggett to check the X-Files for cases mentioning glycoproteins (the main component of mucus), since he looked through the X Files recently. She is cutting Doggett out but pretends the case is just some minor consultation. A bus passes her while she has the conversation with Doggett on a pay phone (her cell phone isn’t working there, still very common in vast regions of western North America).She follows the bus to a gas station in the middle of nowhere. A man with an injured hand learns she is a medical doctor and fills her car with gasoline laced with water. He tells the bus driver and the sick hitchhiker they abducted in the beginning that ‘help is coming.’ Scully returns to the gas station and gets a lie about rain getting into the gas canisters…in the middle of the Utah desert…
He tells her that Mr. Milsap is the only person with a working phone. Scully goes to his house and learns the line is dead. Mr. Milsap offers Scully a room at the boarding house but Scully tries the rest of the town only to be ignored by everyone. They are all at Bible study groups as Scully travels about only to realize that Mr. Milsap is the only person who will deal with her. She remains paranoid of the situation and keeps her gun close at hand.
The next morning, Mr. Milsap tells Scully that there is a man who needs help downstairs. She goes with him and finds the hitchhiker having a seizure. She advises them to take him to the hospital but they pretend not to have any cars. She discovers a strange circular wound on the small of his back.
Doggett checks with the Sheriff and tells about the last phone call before Scully being made by Hank Gulatarski, a missing hitchhiker, so clearly something is going on in that specific area. Scully talks with Hank, the missing hitchhiker, again on his own (not that he is aware of his name anymore) about the creature and thinks she can’t get it out without killing him. She tells him that they are both prisoners and she needs to get him out of there to save his life, then she hands over her gun so he can protect himself. She goes to find a car but, moments after leaving, Hank immediately tells the townspeople what she is up to and that “another swap” is needed.
John Doggett arrives in Utah and informs the Sheriff about a series of other victims with the same back wound and stoning deaths. These occurred all over the western desert states in remote locations.Scully finds the bus in the barn and then Hank appears followed shortly by the townspeople. Clearly whatever it is, it controls the host’s mind. They grab her and Hank tells her that she “is going to be so loved.” The bus driver strikes him down with a hammer and pulls the worm out of the ruins of his destroyed body. Walking slowly towards Scully while she screams about how she is pregnant.
They tie her face down to a bed and tightly gag her after she starts screaming. Agent Doggett appears in the town and Mr. Milsap and the bus driver pretend they never saw Scully before. Doggett leaves but pretends he fell for their lies. He calls for the Sheriff and his men then heads in to try and find Scully.Doggett knocks out gas station man and frees Scully. He tells her about his car half a mile away but she says that they need something closer. They go into the bus in the barn and close the door. While he tries to hotwire the bus, she writhes in pain as the worm starts to head to her brain. She says it has to be cut out now. Doggett starts cutting it out with his knife as the townspeople swarm into the barn and start breaking the windows of the bus to get in. He throws the worm onto the floor and shoots it dead. He picks up Scully and carries her outside while the heartbroken cultists mourn the loss of the worm.
Scully is packing her things in the hospital when Doggett comes in to inform her about the trial of the cult members and how they are offering little defense except that they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. Scully muses that they thought the worm was the second coming of Jesus Christ. She then admits that she shouldn’t have gone alone and cut Doggett out. “I won’t do it again.”
- David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) does not appear in this episode.
- The tattoo that Scully got in the Season 4 episode Never Again does not appear on her back when the worm is being put in or when Agent Doggett takes it out. She probably removed it after what happened to Ed Jerse.
- David Barry Gray as Hank Gulatarski
- Lawrence Pressman as Mr. Milsap
- Conor O'Farrell as Sheriff Ciolino
- William O'Leary as Gas Station Man
- Rusty Schwimmer as Female Bus Driver