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"Underneath" is the twelfth episode of the ninth season of The X-Files.


Doggett struggles to accept new evidence which seems to suggest that a man he arrested as a killer thirteen years ago was actually innocent.


13 Years Ago

Robert Fassl sits in his Triboro Cable van. He touches the crucifix dangling from the rear view mirror as a voice from behind him calls out.

“Get going.”
Fassl begs, “Please...”
The bearded man in back insists, “Do your damn job.”

Fassl goes to the door and claims to be there to repair the cable. The daughter, Janet, knows nothing about the cable being out but lets Fassl into the house anyway. Her father comes downstairs saying the cable isn’t out as he is watching the game upstairs. He asks who called in the work order. As Fassl holds up the paper to look at it, arterial blood spatter splashes across the paper. He looks up and sees no one in view. Then he sees the father on the floor dead with his throat slit and in the kitchen are the mother and daughter in the same condition in pools of blood.


Doggett as a uniform cop.

Abruptly, two police officers burst into the house and apprehend Fassl. The officer who goes to check out the kitchen, turns to reveal he is John Doggett back when he was a NYPD uniform cop. He growls at Fassl about how they got him.

Present Day

Agent Monica Reyes finds Agent John Doggett yelling on the phone; he hands her the newspaper article about Robert Fassl being exonerated by DNA evidence within the last few days. Hanging up, Doggett describes catching Fassl (the Screwdriver Killer) and how certain he was of the man’s guilt. Agent Dana Scully arrives and confirms the test results conclusively disprove Fassl as the killer. Doggett asks for their help with this and heads out for New York City.

At Sing Sing Prison, Fassl weeps as he is released from his cell. He opens up his box of personal effects and kisses the Rosary.


The Bearded Man watches Robert Fassl.

At the courthouse, his attorney, Jana Fain, speaks with the reporters about how they will look into how Bob Fassl was convicted in the first place. While she speaks with reporters, Bob watches the people across the street. They move by faster than humanly possible. This rapid movement, which is only perceived by Fassl, likely indicates how overwhelmed and intimidated Fassl feels upon being confronted with the 'fast-pace' of the outside world, as compared to the slow grind of life in prison for nearly 13 years. One man stands unmoving among them, staring at Bob: The bearded man.

His lawyer calls him back from his staring and the man is no longer there.

Doggett and Scully walk along with Assistant District Attorney Damon Kaylor, discussing the situation with Fassl. Kaylor explains that the city has to pay off Robert Fassl for being imprisoned all those years. He doesn’t want to let them look at the old files at first but Doggett convinces him to allow them to look through the files given that if Fassl isn’t the killer, then someone else is, someone out there still.

Scully and Doggett begin looking over the files. As arresting officer, the capture of Fassl helped Doggett make detective. Scully tries to comfort Doggett by saying that even good cops make mistakes, however Doggett realizes that already and thinks this isn’t one of those mistakes. He quotes a cop he knew about how you don’t clock out unless you did everything you could. That is why he is here now; he has to make sure he did everything he could.

Fassl is staying with Jana Fain in her inherited mansion. She shows him his room and talks about setting up job interviews. Bob Fassl holds his Rosary beads and prays frantically. After she leaves, he finds blood on his hands. Looking up, he reads “Kill Her” on the wall in blood.

Doggett finds his old mentor and friend, Duke Tomasick, who was with him on the arrest of Fassl all those many years ago. Tomasick accepts that Fassl must have been innocent.

Jana Fain finds Bob Fassl praying and is proud that Bob hasn’t let his faith be destroyed by all that has happened.

“I pray all the time. I pray even when it looks like I’m not praying.”
“I know someone’s listening, Bob. Goodnight.”

As she closes the door, the Bearded Man appears behind him. He begs for the man not to hurt her but he strikes Bob and walks out the door with a screwdriver.

Scully tells Doggett that her own test of the DNA confirms its not Fassl’s. However, the DNA is similar enough with many alleles in common, suggesting a blood relative. Fassl is an only child and his parents died when he was thirteen. Doggett and Scully are confused by this detail.

Jana Fain confronts Robert Fassl about possibly being in her things. He is relieved that she is unharmed but learns that the housekeeper Mrs. Dowdy is missing. Fassl finds her body, cleans up the blood and dismembers her remains to cover up what has happened.


The Bearded Man in Prison.

Reyes learns, from Superintendent Brian Hutchinson at Sing Sing, that Fassl was involved with a murder while in prison. Fassl’s cell mate, Spud Jennings, was killed in a hallway that Fassl was mopping. They couldn’t find Bob Fassl and security cameras caught an image of the killer: The Bearded Man walking the hallway covered in blood. Hutchinson says this isn’t anyone in the prison. The man on the video capture hasn’t been located since but Hutchinson believes that Fassl had a hand in the murder of his cell mate.

Kaylor shows up to inform Doggett that it is over, they are giving a settlement to Fassl, and the FBI should go back to Washington, D.C. Then Reyes shows up and recounts what she learned at the prison and suggests the Bearded Man obeys Fassl or Fassl obeys it and that it is some kind of entity rather than an actual person. Though Doggett wishes to dismiss all this, Reyes points out they could compare the DNA evidence left by the Bearded Man from the prison murder to the earlier homicides. Scully says that they can’t as it has been learned that the DNA evidence that convicted Fassl was planted.

Kaylor goes to see Jana Fain but finds only her client, Bob Fassl. He tells him about the settlement deal but Bob begs to go back to prison and says its his fault. Kaylor refuses to hear this but then stops moving. Blood spills out of him as he crumples to the ground with the Bearded Man standing behind him with a bloody screwdriver.

Agent John Doggett confronts Duke Tomasick about planting evidence. He admits to it but claims it was the only time and he did it to catch the Screwdriver Killer. Scully shows up and mentions that Kaylor is missing.
Fassl places Kaylor’s remains among others in the sewers. He walks away from the trophy shelf.

Scully, Reyes, Fassl, and Jana Fain meet to discuss when they last saw Kaylor. Fain says they haven’t seen him but when Scully and Reyes show the picture of the man from the prison, Fassl gets nervous and clutches his Rosary beads. Fain gets angry and leaves with her client. Reyes theorizes that Fassl is unwilling to see his darker half to such a degree, because of his piety, that he actually is two people now. The innocent and the killer. She suggests it goes beyond merely having two personalities, rather he physically changes into another person, hence the different but similar DNA. “From Casper the Friendly Ghost to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

The Bearded Man demands that Fassl kill his lawyer. He beats him up and when Fain checks on him, she finds an injured Fassl. She says she’ll fix him up. He stands behind her as Fassl, then she opens the medicine cabinet. When she closes it, the mirror shows the Bearded Man.

Doggett and Reyes argue about the case while staking out Jana Fain’s home. He says it isn’t possible about


John Doggett descends into the sewers after the Bearded Man.

Fassl. They see the Bearded Man run out of the house, Doggett pursues him while Reyes checks on Fain. She is alive and explains that Fassl was there one minute and then the other man was there. Reyes joins Doggett at a cable access panel and they climb down into the sewers.

The Bearded Man immediately ambushes them and nearly stabs Reyes. He runs, escaping all of Doggett’s fired rounds. They split up in their search for the suspect. Reyes falls through a grate and into the sewer water. She finds a wall of skeletons and fresher corpses.

Doggett is attacked and a screwdriver is held to his throat as Reyes shows up. She talks to the Bearded Man as if he is Bob Fassl. Or contains Bob Fassl anyway.

“You’re not just a murderer, you’re a sinner!”

The Bearded Man freaks out and Doggett struggles, getting loose from his grip. Reyes guns down the man who falls into the water. Doggett climbs in after him and pulls out Robert Fassl.

Jana Fain asks to see her housekeeper but Scully tells her its better not to see her. She says there were more victims than they ever realized. As the police drag Bob Fassl’s body out, Jana Fain firmly states:
“I saw a Bearded Man. I know what I saw.”

Doggett looks completely lost. He can’t accept what he has seen. Reyes tries to remind him that it doesn’t matter as long as the case is solved. He is isn’t sure about that since what will happen with the next bizarre case he just can’t believe?


Background Information[]

  • The episode appears to have been inspired by the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, in which the protagonist physically transforms between two alter egos - a well-respected scientist and a murderous criminal.
  • Shiban also was inspired by the film The Third Man (1949), which featured a climactic chase through a sewage system.
  • The appearance Bob Fassl’s killer alter ego, the Bearded Man, is strikingly similar to Charles Manson, the leader of a cult whose members committed a series of murders in 1969.
  • This episode was produced as the 9th episode, but aired as the 12th episode.

Cast and Characters[]

Memorable Quotes[]

  • Doggett: I've slept my way through my share of Sunday schools, but I never heard the story about one guy becoming another guy.



Guest Starring


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