|The Blessing Way||Credits||Gallery||Transcript|
- “We predict the future, and the best way to predict the future, is to invent it”
- — Well-Manicured Man
"The Blessing Way" is the first episode of the third season of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on September 22, 1995. The episode was written by series creator Chris Carter and directed by R.W. Goodwin, and helped explore the series mythology arc.
As Navajo Indians try to save Mulder from death, Scully comes to terms with her assumption that he has already died and is warned that her own life is in danger.
Continuation of Anasazi.
Albert Hosteen and his family are beat up by the Cigarette Smoking Man's subordinates, who are searching for the whereabouts of Mulder. While driving on an empty road at night, Scully is overtaken by a helicopter from which soldiers emerge, taking all her paper copies of Albert's translations of the digital tape. Scully denies having a copy of the tape, saying it is in Mulder's possession. Upon return to Washington, Scully is put on mandatory leave and is forced to turn in her badge and gun. Scully complains privately to Skinner. Upon returning to Mulder's basement office, she searches a hidden location in his desk and finds the digital tape missing from its case.
In New York City, the Cigarette-Smoking Man meets with a group of older men (known as the "Syndicate"), including the First Elder and the Well-Manicured Man, who question him to ensure that their work hasn't been compromised.
Out west, circling buzzards lead the Navajo to find Mulder buried under some rocks near the boxcar, alive but severely wounded, . Albert begins the Blessing Way chant in order to heal Mulder.
During the healing ceremony, Mulder has visions of both Deep Throat and his own father. When Scully returns to FBI Headquarters, the metal detector alarms as she enters, even though she has nothing metal. She shows Skinner the newspaper article, thinking that the ballistic data from Soona's death can clear Mulder from suspicion in his father's murder, but Skinner refuses to pursue it. When leaving the building, Scully asks the security guard to use his hand-held metal detector to pinpoint the location of the offending metal, which is at the top of her back. Scully receives an X-ray scan from a doctor, who then removes a small metal implant from the back of her neck.
When Scully confides in her sister Melissa about the implant, her sister urges her to see a regression hypnotherapist, to recover her lost memories. Scully participates in a session, but becomes scared and suddenly leaves. Upon returning home, but still in her car, she finds Skinner furtively leaving her apartment and driving away.
Mulder, recovered from the Blessing Way chant, is told by Albert Hosteen that he can't bathe or change clothes for four days. Scully calls Skinner, who denies having visited her apartment, but the Smoking Man is present for the phone call.
Scully heads to Boston for the funeral of Mulder's father and introduces herself to Mulder's mother. Afterwards, the Well-Manicured Man introduces himself to Scully and warns her that she is about to be killed, either by someone she knows or by two men who will kill her at her home and dump the gun there. Mulder returns to his mother's home in Connecticut and questions her about a photograph of his father and a group of men from 1973. She denies knowing anything.
Melissa calls Scully and tells her she is coming over. Moments late, Scully receives another call, but the line is silent, then disconnected. Scully immediately leaves her apartment and calls Melissa to say that she'll head to her home instead. As she leaves, Skinner pulls up in his car, telling her that they need to speak in private. They drive to Mulder's apartment. Melissa shows up soon afterwards and is shot in the head by Luis Cardinal, who is hiding there with Alex Krycek. Realizing that they have shot the wrong person, the assassins flee. At Mulder's apartment, Scully holds Skinner at gunpoint, suspecting that he was about to make an attempt on her life. He tells her that he is in possession of the digital tape. Just then, movement outside the door distracts Scully enough for Skinner draw his gun.
Continued in Paper Clip.
- Frank Spotnitz said of this episode, "The expectations were very high, coming after a summer's worth of anticipation to see how Mulder got out of the boxcar. We knew we had to answer that question and still leave an intriguing enough dilemma at the end of the show to bring viewers back for the third and final part. I also thought it was a big gamble to do all that Indian mysticism stuff. I thought a lot of people would not necessarily respond to that. So I was nervous about that, but very excited about the Scully storyline and the way all of that played out with Mulder and Skinner."
- Series creator Chris Carter attended Navajo chants and rituals in order to ensure the accuracy of the events in this episode, after being alerted to inaccuracies in the previous episode by Navajo scholars. A sand painter was brought in to create the two sand paintings for the Blessing Way sequence, which took an entire day to create.
- This is the highest rated episode of the third season with 19.94 million viewers. It is also the highest rated episode of the X-Files to date at this point in the show's run.
- Visual effects producer Mat Beck considered the sequence where Mulder has a vision of Deep Throat and his father the most difficult of the season.
- The end of this episode reads "In Memoriam, Larry Wells, 1946 - 1995." Wells was a costume designer on the show.
- Mark Snow slightly changed the piano melody from the opening theme music (and the corresponding shortened theme in the credits) from the first two seasons, in this episode. The music would remain unchanged for several years.
- The title of this episode refers to the Navajo ceremony of the Blessing Way. This is the first episode in which Skinner actor Mitch Pileggi is credited under "Also Starring", during the opening credits.
- This episode includes the only encounter between Krycek and Melissa Scully in the series. The actors of both characters – Nicholas Lea and Melinda McGraw, respectively – were dating, at the time this episode was produced.
- This episode marks the first appearance of John Neville as the "Well-Manicured Man". It also marks the first appearance of Luis Cardinal.
- This episode also features the first appearance of the Syndicate's headquarters, on New York City's East 46th Street.
Cast and Characters
- Alf Humphreys (Dr. Mark Pomerantz) previously played 2nd Controller in The X-Files episode "Space".
- Forbes Angus (M.D.) previously played Tissue Bank Technician in The X-Files episode "Shadows" and Government Scientist in "Soft Light".
- Lenno Britos (Luis Cardinal/Hispanic Man), previously played a Janitor in the episode "Fearful Symmetry."
- Peter Donat as William Mulder
- Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman as Albert Hosteen
- Melinda McGraw as Melissa Scully
- Sheila Larken as Margaret Scully
- Nicholas Lea as Alex Krycek
- William B. Davis as Cigarette Smoking Man
- John Neville as Well-Manicured Man
- Tom Braidwood as Melvin Frohike
- Jerry Hardin as Deep Throat
- Alf Humphreys as Dr. Mark Pomerantz
- Dakota House as Eric Hosteen
- Michael David Simms as Senior FBI Agent
- Rebecca Toolan as Teena Mulder
- Don S. Williams as First Elder
- Forbes Angus as M.D.
- Mitchell Davies as Camouflage Man
- Benita Ha as Tour Guide
- Ian Victor as Minister
- Ernie Foort as Security Guard
- Lenno Britos as Luis Cardinal