"The Căluşari" is the twenty-first episode of the second season of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on April 14, 1995. Written by Sara Charno and directed by Mike Vejar, the episode is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, independent of the series' mythology arc.
With Scully's help, Mulder investigates a strange death that he believes may be an example of poltergeist activity.
A family, the Holveys, are spending their day at Lincoln Park. Teddy, their toddler, drops his ice cream and cries; the parents comfort him by giving him the elder son, Charlie’s, balloon. Charlie becomes upset and wants his balloon back; his father is dismissive. Meanwhile, Maggie, the mother, takes Teddy to the restroom. She ties Teddy's toddler harness to a table leg whilst she uses a stall. While she’s occupied, the harness loosens. Teddy, enamored with the balloon, follows it as it floats unnaturally from the bathroom. Maggie, realizing Teddy’s disappearance as soon as she exits the stall, frantically begins looking for him. The balloon leads Teddy to the park’s train tracks; a man alerts the parents, but too late – Teddy is killed. Charlie watches his weeping parents and his dead brother as the balloon slowly returns to him.
Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully review a photo from the scene of the Lincoln Park accident. Mulder believes the balloon luring Teddy was pulled by someone; his hypothesis is supported when Charles "Chuck" Burks, the “King of Digital Imaging”, reveals a translucent figure unseen in the original photo. The figure is composed of electromagnetic energy, an energy commonly associated with phantoms. Mulder presents the childproof halter Teddy escaped from as further evidence of “poltergeist activity”.
The agents visit the Holvey household. Mulder proposes to the astonished parents that Teddy may have been helped onto the tracks.
Charlie enters the room and the living-room fire flares high simultaneously; the others are oblivious, but the detail catches Scully’s attention. Scully follows Charlie out of the room, and sees Golda, Maggie’s Romanian mother, drawing what appears to be a swastika on Charlie’s hand. Mulder, meanwhile, enquires into paranormal occurrences around the home; as he does, the fire alarm triggers and the lights go out. When the power returns, Golda appears and accuses Maggie of having a devil child.
In his office, Mulder and Scully discuss the swastika on the back of Charlie’s hand; Mulder explains that some cultures consider a backward-facing swastika to have protective powers. Scully believes the Holvey children are victims of Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy – a form of abuse characterized by a parent or caretaker inducing illness in a child in order to gain attention or status. Teddy’s medical records containing frequent appointments corroborate Scully’s hypothesis, as does Golda’s accusation that Charlie is “evil”.
The agents interview the father, Steve Holvey, to ask about Golda. Steve relates Golda’s aberrant behavior, which focuses on protection from evil spirits.He suspects Golda’s involvement in Teddy’s death. Scully refers Steve to a social worker and asks that Charlie is brought to see her.
In the Holvey household, Scully observes Golda sprinkling a substance into Charlie’s food. Before he can eat, however, Steve tells him to that they're going to see the social worker; something Maggie is adamantly opposed to, but Steve insists and the father and son head for the car. While in the garage, Steve is killed trying to reset the malfunctioning garage door and Charlie screams in distress.
A police investigation into Steve’s death ensues. A police officer indicates Golda’s room to Scully, which is filled with candles and dead roosters. Meanwhile, Mulder discovers a grey powder in the garage. When analyzed by the FBI chem lab, the substance contains nothing organic or inorganic, and, according to the technicians, it inexplicably “doesn’t exist”.
Mulder shows the substance to Chuck, who identifies it as an apport – something which can appear from thin air. It occurs in the presence of “spirit beings” or during “bilocation”, a phenomenon where “a person’s energy is transported to a different location”. As ever, Scully remains skeptical.
Some time later at the Holvey household, Charlie listens as Golda and three romanian Căluşari perform a ritual. Charlie’s image appears in the smoke, yelling in Romanian. Meanwhile, the social worker Karen Kosseff arrives and asks to see Charlie. She and Maggie discover Charlie lying in the hallway shouting in pain outside of Golda’s door. Furious, Maggie enters the room and demands that everyone leave. After the men depart, Golda grabs Charlie, locks the door, and prepares a ritual blade. Meanwhile, the social worker calls 911 and informs Mulder and Scully, who have just arrived. Golda prepares to cut Charlie’s hand, but flying objects knocks her down. As she turns to face Charlie, he thrusts the dead roosters at her, who return to life and attack her. The agents breach the door; Golda is dead, as are the reanimated roosters.
Maggie reveals the ceremony Golda was performing is designed to cleanse the house of evil. Maggie and the agents watch as Karen, at a child psychiatric center, interviews Charlie – he claims that Michael was responsible, his stillborn twin. Charlie, however, had never been told about Michael’s existence. He has a seizure and is taken to the hospital. When conscious, he resists medication; Michael, now a separate physical entity, appears from the shadows and attacks his nurse.
Michael, masquerading as Charlie, demands that Maggie take him home. Mulder and Scully notice he is not himself; Scully leaves for the Holvey household. Meanwhile, Maggie, equally suspicious, prepares the ritual initiated by Golda. Mulder, still at the hospital, realises Charlie is still in his bed and contacts the Căluşari, who soon after arrive and begin performing an exorcism ritual on Charlie. As Mulder struggles to hold Charlie's legs down, they warn Mulder not to look into Charlie's eyes, else "the evil will recognize him". Mulder tries to look away but accidentally catches the child's eye. Meanwhile, Scully arrives at the Holvey household and finds Golda’s room in shambles, with Maggie being held up to the ceiling as she desperately recites prayers. Michael disables Scully by tossing her right across the room, then lunges at her with an athame, almost killing her, but the Căluşari complete their ritual at the hospital just in time and and Scully is saved. Charlie returns to normal; however, before Mulder leaves, he receives the ominous warning from the head Căluşari that he should be most careful, as the evil that once dwelled in Charlie will recognize him as he now knows him.
- The original Căluşari were an ancient Romanian cult. It is clear that horsemen cults existed as far back as Ancient Roman times. (For further information refer to chapter 5 of "The Cults of the Roman Empire" by Robert Turcan, Blackwell Publishing 1996.)
Cast and Characters
- Joel Palmer (Charlie Holvey/Michael Holvey) previously played Kevin Morris in The X-Files episode "Conduit".
- Helene Clarkson as Maggie Holvey
- Joel Palmer as Charlie Holvey/Michael Holvey
- Lilyan Chauvin as Golda
- Kay E. Kuter as Head Căluşari
- Jacqueline Dandeneau as Nurse Castor
- Bill Croft as Căluşari #2
- Campbell Lane as Căluşari #3
- George Josef as Căluşari #4