"Sleepless" is the fourth episode of the second season of The X-Files. The episode premiered on the Fox network on October 7, 1994. Written by Howard Gordon and directed by Rob Bowman, it is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc.
Mulder and Krycek investigate a series of murders perpetrated by telepathic Vietnam War veteran Augustus Cole.
NEW YORK CITY
Dr. Saul Grissom awakes to find smoke seeping through his front door. He opens the door to find a blaze has rendered his hallway impassable. Panicked, he calls 911. The operator tells him that fire units are being dispatched. Grissom grabs a fire extinguisher and tries to fight the fire, but the extinguisher is too weak. As firemen ascend the building's stairwell, Augustus "Preacher" Cole descends. The firemen breach Grissom's apartment and find no evidence of fire, but Grissom is dead.
A cassette and article are delivered to Fox Mulder's apartment indicating Grissom's bizarre death, and Mulder asks Walter Skinner to be assigned to the case. Skinner assigns Mulder and Alex Krycek to investigate. Mulder discovers that Grissom's work involved manipulating sleep patterns. He also surreptitiously arranges for Dana Scully to perform Grissom's autopsy; she relates that the body exhibits only secondary characteristics of being burned alive – that it is as if only "his body believed that it was burning."
Cole and Henry Willig, members of the same squad in the Vietnam War, meet in Willig's apartment. Cole projects the image of charred Vietnamese civilians, armed with M-16s; they raise their weapons and kill Willig.
Willig's postmortem reveals characteristics similar to Grissom's – both bodies reacted to circumstances that weren't occurring. Mulder discovers that both Grissom and Willig were stationed at Parris Island, and that Willig was assigned to Special Recon Force J-7, along with Cole. Mulder and Krycek investigate Cole at a psychiatric ward, only to discover he has escaped; they learn, however, that Cole could disrupt other patients' sleep cycles.
Alone, Mulder meets with X, who provides him with top-secret documents detailing a military program designed to eliminate a soldier's need to sleep – a project with which Grissom was involved. He reveals that Cole hasn't slept in twenty-four years, and refers Mulder to an undisclosed survivor of SRF J-7: Salvatore Matola. Mulder hides the documents in his car.
Krycek reports to Mulder that the police have Cole cornered; when they arrive on the scene, however, two officers have shot one another, and Cole has escaped.
Mulder faxes X's documents to Scully, and hypothesizes to her that Cole has found a way to project his unconscious – to externalize his dreams.
Mulder and Krycek meet with Salvatore Matola. He recalls SRF J-7's time as an AWOL unit in Vietnam, recounting the murder of civilians by his platoon. Matola also tells them that Dr. Grissom and Dr. Francis Girardi are responsible for performing the experiment on SRF J-7 that allows them, like Cole, to never need sleep.
Mulder determines that Girardi is Cole's next target; they arrive at the train station where Girardi is expected. Mulder finds Girardi, but Cole shoots both Girardi and Mulder. Krycek finds Mulder unconscious, and not wounded – Krycek regards Mulder suspiciously, as he has no evidence of either Girardi or Cole's presence. Unperturbed, Mulder insists on reviewing the station's security cameras, where they discover an anomaly on track 17.
Girardi is badly wounded by Cole's projection of SRF J-7; they attack him with scalpels. Mulder and Krycek discover Girardi's body, moments after the attack; Krycek stays with Girardi and Mulder pursues Cole. Mulder finds Cole, and tries to persuade him to testify against the military, but moments into their conversation, Krycek appears. Against Mulder's pleas, Krycek, believing Cole is armed (though it's merely a bible that he's holding), shoots him, killing him.
When he gets back to the car, Mulder discovers X' top-secret document is gone; Scully's copy of the document has also been stolen. It is revealed that Krycek has stolen Mulder's copy, and that Krycek reports directly to the Cigarette Smoking Man. Krycek remarks that separating Mulder and Scully was a mistake, as it's served only to strengthen their resolve, and that Scully is a significant problem, much more so than ever given credit for.
- Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner
- Nicholas Lea as Alex Krycek
- Jonathan Gries as Salvatore Matola
- Steven Williams as X
- Tony Todd as Augustus "Preacher" Cole
- Don Thompson as Henry Willig
- David Adams as Dr. Francis Girardi
- Michael Puttonen as Dr. Pilsson
- Anna Hagen as Dr. Charyn
- William B. Davis as Cigarette Smoking Man
- Mitchell Kosterman as Detective Horton
- Paul Bittante as Lieutenant Reagan
- Claude De Martino as Dr. Saul Grissom