A young Fox Mulder visits retired FBI Agent Arthur Dales, who tells him about one of the first X-Files, a case that his father was involved in.
In 1990 in Caledonia, Wisconsin, a man named Edward Skur is shot by a police officer during an eviction and the last word he speaks is "Mulder". Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), at this point working with the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, believes that the man may have had some connection to his father, Bill. Mulder discovers that Skur was reported to have died in 1952. He seeks out Arthur Dales (Darren McGavin), a retired FBI agent who investigated Skur in the 1950s. At first, Dales is reluctant to discuss the case and warns Mulder away. However, Mulder's threat of a subpoena persuades Dales to tell his story.
In a flashback to the 1950s, Dales (Fredric Lehne) and his partner Hayes Michel are sent to arrest Skur (Garret Dillahunt) for being a communist. When Dales is told that Skur hanged himself while in custody, he feels guilty and returns to Skur's house to apologize to his wife. While there, he sees Skur alive and tries to recapture him. In the following struggle, an appendage emerges from Skur's mouth. Skur is forced to flee when a neighbor interrupts the fight. Dales' partner and Mr. Cohn warn Dales to change his report about the attack. He does so, but feels guilty about it.
Later, Dales and Michel are called to investigate the death of a German doctor in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The local police deny calling them, and Dales finds a coaster for a bar with "come alone" written on the back. At the bar, Dales meets Bill Mulder, an agent from the State Department. Bill tells him that Skur, Gissing, and Oberman were experimented on and Gissing and Oberman have killed themselves. Skur killed the German doctor in revenge for what was done to him, and he will kill Dales and Michel too because Skur believes they are part of the plot. Dales tries to warn Michel but he is too late and Skur kills him. Dales tries to investigate but Mr. Cohn covers it up.
A secretary at the FBI office, Dorothy Bahnsen (played by Jane Perry), helps Dales find a file that mentions Gissing. (She explains that she files all the unsolved cases under X because there is more room under X than U.) Gissing's body is still in the morgue and Dales convinces the technician to cut open the body where they find a strange creature has been sewn into Gissing's chest. Dales goes to Skur's wife and tells her what was done to her husband and that he wants to expose the experiments. Skur's wife goes down into the backyard bomb shelter to tell Skur, but he is overcome by his parasite and kills her.
Cohn picks up Dales and takes him to the office of the Director who gives him a speech about patriotism and convinces him to help bring in Skur. They take Dales back to the bar to meet Skur, who attacks Dales. Bill Mulder and the other agent wait outside until they think Dales is dead before rushing in to find that Dales has handcuffed Skur and is still alive.
Back in the present Fox Mulder is dismayed to hear what his father was involved in. He asks Dales how Skur escaped and Dales speculates that someone might have helped Skur escape hoping that the truth of what was done to him may one day be revealed. And we see Bill Mulder driving down a road with Skur and giving Skur the keys to the car and walking away.
- This episode reveals that, by 1952, there were already several "unsolved cases", only some of which were actually called "X-Files".
- This episode does not feature Scully, as actress Gillian Anderson was busy still filming her final parts of The X-Files Movie.
- McGavin is, indeed, something of a "father" to the X-Files having played intrepid reporter Carl Kolchak in two TV movies and a one season show, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, an acknowledged influence for Chris Carter, when creating The X-Files.
- Darren McGavin was originally spearheaded by Chris Carter to portray Agent Mulder's father during season 2, but scheduling problems didn't allow it.
- Mulder is wearing a ring in this episode, as well as smoking a cigarette in one scene (when he talks to agent Dales) - another possible clue to his parentage and a tidbit about his life before the series began.
- See also Unusual Suspects where he also wears his ring. He seems to be making a point in both episodes to show his ring.
- In the scene where Dales is being interviewed by Cohn, Cohn's assistant stands at the back of the office and silently observes. He stands in a similar pose and behaves in a similar manner to that of the Cigarette Smoking Man during Scully's initial interview in the pilot episode. The assistant, who is never named in dialogue or in the credits, is definitely an associate of Bill Mulder at the time. Despite the fact that he was not seen smoking in this episode, is it possible that Cohn's assistant was in fact the CSM?
- The character of Arthur Dales would return a few times during the show's 6th season.
- Agent Hayes Michel was named after the, then, fiancé of Mary Astadourian, Chris Carter's executive assistant.
- The song that plays in the German doctor's house was "Lili Marlene", a song popular with soldiers of both sides in World War II.
- David Fredericks reprises his role as J. Edgar Hoover from "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man".
- "Fellow Travelers" were Americans who were sympathetic toward the Communist cause during the Cold War, as mentioned in the senate hearing watched by young Agent Dales.
- J. Edgar Hoover's paranoid rant to Arthur Dales about the Communist menace was taken almost verbatim from a speech given by Senator McCarthy.
- Not a 'Cultural' reference as such, but writers Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban had a teacher at the American Film Institute named Howard Dimsdale. Dimsdale, who was "black listed" during the McCarthy era, used the pseudonym "Arthur Dales" so he could continue to publish his works. This episode and its main character was a sort-of tribute to him.
- Coincidentally, Garrett Dillahunt speaks the line, "...For what? To make me some kind of killing machine?" Dillahunt later played a notorious Terminator in the TV series, "The Sarah Connor Chronicles."
- According to the time stamp, this episode takes place in late June. It seems rather odd that both Agent Dales and Agent Michel would be wearing long winter coats (a brown wool top coat in the case of the former) when the average late June temperature in both DC and Northern Virginia is in the mid-80s.
- 2:32 visible shadow of the boom-mic moving down the wall on the upper to mid left.
Cast and Characters
- Darren McGavin (Arthur Dales) previously played Henry Black in the Millennium episode "Midnight of the Century".
- Eileen Pedde (Mrs. Skur) previously played Angie in The X-Files episode "Terma", 'Pain' Victim in the Millennium episode "The Mikado" and Doctor in "Siren".
- Mitchell Kosterman (Sheriff) previously played Detective Horton in The X-Files episodes "Gender Bender" and "Sleepless", Fornier in "The List", Lieutenant in the Millennium episode "Force Majeure" and Sheriff in the Millennium episode "The Beginning & the End".
- Roger Haskett (Coroner) previously played Deputy Dennis Tyson in The X-Files episode "Miracle Man" and E.R. Doctor in the Millennium episode "Maranatha".
- Jane Perry (Dorothy Bahnsen) previously played Day Care Operator in The X-Files episode "Paper Hearts" and Agent Pierce in the Millennium episode "Lamentation".
- J. Douglas Stewart (Landlord) previously played Larry Bangs in the Millennium episode "The Well-Worn Lock", Male EMT in The X-Files episode "Leonard Betts" and Dentist in the Millennium episode "Monster".
- David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder
- Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully (credit only)
- Fredric Lehne as Young Arthur Dales
- Garret Dillahunt as Edward Skur
- Brian Leckner as Hayes Michel
- David Moreland as Roy Cohn
- Darren McGavin as Arthur Dales
- David Fredericks as J. Edgar Hoover
- Mitchell Kosterman as Sheriff
- Roger Haskett as Coroner
- Jane Perry as Dorothy Bahnsen
- J. Douglas Stewart as Landlord
- Cory Dagg as Bartender
- Eric W. Gilder as old Edward Skur