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"Terma" is the ninth episode of the fourth season of The X-Files. It was written by Frank Spotnitz and series creator Chris Carter, and was directed by Rob Bowman. The episode premiered on the Fox network on December 1, 1996, and helped explore the series' mythology arc.

Terma served as a conclusion to the events of the previous episode, Tunguska.


Mulder escapes from Russia and is reunited with Scully. Together, they continue to investigate a biohazardous material that was found in the diplomatic pouch and seems to have extraterrestrial origins. (Part 2 of 2)


Having been imprisoned in a gulag in Krasnoyarsk, Fox Mulder learns Alex Krycek, the shadowy agent he was captured alongside, is in fact a double agent working for the Russians. Mulder is able to escape from the camp while taking Krycek hostage, although the two become separated in the confusion. Krycek is found by a group of men whose left arms have all been amputated, and has his arm forcibly severed to prevent his involvement in "black oil" vaccination tests.

Meanwhile, Vassily Peskow, a former KGB agent, has come out of retirement, in order to travel to the United States of America. While there, he assassinates Bonita Charne-Sayre, a doctor working for the Syndicate to develop a "black oil" vaccine. From here, Peskow tracks down Charne-Sayre's test subjects, testing a Russian vaccine on them before killing them to cover his tracks.

Mulder has been able to return to America with the help of a group of Russian peasants and rejoins his partner, Dana Scully. Scully and Assistant Director Walter Skinner had been detained by a United States Senate committee seeking to uncover Mulder's whereabouts, which is adjourned upon Mulder's arrival. The agents attempt to track down Peskow, following the trail of murders. However, the assassin is able to outwit the agents and destroys the last of the oil-containing rocks in an oil-well explosion. He returns to Russia, where it is revealed he had been hired for this task by Krycek.


Black oil; Vaccine

Background Information[]


  • Due to production time constraints, some of the visual effects of the black-oil worms weren't ready until the very last minute, so the networks in Canada and in the Midwest – who had to have the episode a couple hours earlier – saw a different version of that particular visual effect in the original broadcast.
  • "Terma" is the corrupted form of the Russian word "Tyurma" for prison or jail, and is also a Latin conjunction of "death". It has also been suggested the title refers to the Tibetan Buddhist term "Terma", meaning hidden or buried truth. Of course, within in the episode, it was the name of a town in North Dakota.
  • This episode's tagline is changed to "E Pur Si Muove", Italian for "But It Does Move". Supposedly, this is a phrase Galileo said, under his breath, after the Church forced him to admit his theory of the Earth revolving around the sun was incorrect – meaning that, no matter what someone makes you say, it doesn't change what you know to be true.
  • In this episode, the Well-Manicured Man says, "But Senator Sorenson is an honorable man. They are all honorable... these honorable men." This comes from a famous speech Mark Antony held at Caesar's burial in the Roman age. Mark Antony said, "For Brutus is an honorable man. So are they all, all honorable men." In Mark Antony's speech, it was meant to be sarcastic, because he suspected Brutus to be part of a group which murdered Caesar.


  • This is the episode where Alex Krycek's left arm is cut off.


  • When Scully and Mulder are in a retirement home and are inspecting bedded patients, one both Mulder and Scully focus on has those worm-like alien viruses on her face. Neither of the agents react, however.
  • Some of the events of the hearing have been altered – at one point in "Tunguska"'s teaser, Scully says, "I respectfully decline to answer that question." In this episode, though, she instead says, "I respectfully refuse to answer that question."


  • Krycek's Russian alias (or perhaps his real name), Comrade "Arntzen", is named for Val Arntzen, a member of The X-Files' set decorating department.

Cast and Characters[]



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