Written by Kenneth Biller and Chris Brancato
Directed by Fred Gerber
In which Mulder and Scully get involved in a murder case which appears to be related to alien abduction, but turns out to be something far more disturbing...
Synopsis - Analysis - Memorable Quotes - Observations
"So...what's your bunny's name?"
As the episode begins, a couple is jogging down a suburban street in Greenwich, Connecticut. As they pass the Simmons home, they notice that the daughter Teena is standing in the driveway, clutching a stuffed bunny and shivering from the cold. The couple cross the street to find out where her father is, and she tells them he’s in the backyard. They find Mr. Simmons sitting on a swing, and when the man checks on him, he’s dead. His blood has apparently been drained through two puncture wounds in the neck.
Sometime later, Scully reviews the case information with Mulder in the basement office. Teena had been away from her father for less than 10 minutes, yet the man was drained of 95% of his blood. The victin was apparently paralyzed beforehand using digitalis. Mulder immediately brings up the topic of cattle mutilations (and just happens to have a slide show prepared for the event). Scully recognizes that the X-Files on cattle mutilations also involve UFO sightings, but she doesn’t see why aliens would be mutilating cattle. Mulder points out that the new evidence appears to suggest a new direction.
The agents go to visit Teena at the Fairfield County Social Services Hospital, where she is staying until a foster family can be selected. Teena hasn’t spoken about the incident since arriving. Teena’s doctor takes the agents to her room, and Scully tries to find out if anyone had threatened her father recently. When that goes nowhere, Mulder picks up with pointed questions about odd sights or sounds. Teena tells them she saw “red lightning”, and that men from the clouds came to “exsanguinate” her father. Scully interrupts with bad news: there has been another, identical death.
The new victim is named Doug Reardon, and he was found in the same exact position and circumstance…only in Marion County, California. Not only that, but the time of the killing was exactly the same in each case. Scully suggests serial killers working in tandem, but Mulder dismisses the idea. He wants to hear this little girl’s story to see if it matches Teena’s. Unfortunately, the mother and daughter are staying with family in Sacramento until the following day.
That night, in Greenwich, Teena lies awake as a storm rages outside. She notices movement outside of her door, and after checking to see what it might be, tries to wedge the door shut with a chair. She barely manages to sneak under the bed as someone breaks in, but when she tries to run for the open door, she’s caught. By the time the social workers come to find out what’s happened, Teena’s bunny is lying on the ground outside her open window. Teena is gone.
The next morning, Mulder and Scully arrive at the Reardon house, less than pleased to know that the only other “witness” is now missing. When Reardon’s daughter Cindy answers the door, however, the mystery deepens. Cindy Reardon looks just like Teena Simmons. Once inside, the agents ask Ms. Reardon if Cindy was adopted. Ms. Reardon flatly denies it, but does mention that Cindy was conceived after several years of in-vitro treatments at the Luther Stapes Center in San Francisco.
Outside, Mulder is sure that there is a connection between the two girls. Since someone abducted (or kidnapped) Teena, he’s sure that an attempt will be made to take Cindy. He stays behind while Scully checks with the clinic. At first, the doctor speaking with Scully is adamant that all information is confidential, and that everything is perfectly controlled. But then Scully mentions the kidnapping (abduction, blah, blah), and the doctor is more forthcoming.
Both the Simmons and Reardon cases were managed by a Dr. Sally Kindrick. Kindrick, the doctor tells Scully, was a problem from the start. The center had reason to believe that she was performing unethical experiments with fertilized ova prior to implantation, mostly dealing with eugenics. Though an investigation into her practices was denied for some reason, Kindrick disappeared shortly thereafter.
That night at the hotel, Scully updates Mulder on Kindrick. He’s not sure what to think of the new information, but then he gets a signal from his mysterious informant (again, from “Deep Throat”) to meet. At a nearby pier, Mulder meets the informant and is promptly told about the Litchfield Experiments. These experiments were conducted starting in the 1950s through the cold war for the purpose of developing super-soldiers through eugenics, in response to similar Russian projects. The boys were called Adam; the girls, Eve.
The informant points Mulder towards a woman in custody at the Whiting Institute for the Criminally Insane, where access has been “arranged”. They are given flashlights (the room needs to be kept dark or the woman will flip out), and then they are ushered in to meet “Eve 6”. Eve 6 looks exactly like Sally Kindrick, but she is obviously insane.
However, Eve 6 turns out to be quite good at giving out information. Eve 7 escaped early after the end of the project. Eve 8 left 10 years later. Eve 6 tells them that she’s kept isolated so they can continue testing her. The eugenics testing involved additional chromosomes, which resulted in additional genes. This somehow led to heightened strength and intelligence…but also heightened instabilities. She points out a picture on her wall, in which there are 8 identical young girls. They all look like Teena and Cindy. Mulder realizes that Teena and Cindy must be clones of Sally Kindrick, who must be Eve 7.
Sometime later, Mulder and Scully resume their stakeout of the Reardon home. Mulder is convinced that the two escaped Eves are taking custody of the “new family members”. Sure enough, moments later, someone enters Cindy’s room and grabs her. Scully runs into the house, but she’s taken down almost immediately. Mulder arrives at the back door just in time to stop Kindrick/Eve 7. Kindrick pulls a gun on Cindy and threatens to kill her if Mulder doesn’t drop his weapon. He complies, and she gets away.
The next morning, Kindrick takes Cindy to a hotel at Port Reyes, about 40 miles north of San Francisco. She introduces Cindy to Teena. The two girls seem to be familiar with each other. As the hotel manager calls to inform the agents of Kindrick’s location, Kindrick tries to find out how the girls learned of each other’s existence. It’s clear that the girls have already started showing signs of psychosis, and that they planned out the simultaneous murders of their fathers. Before Kindrick can learn more, she begins shaking uncontrollably. The girls calmly explain how they dosed Kindrick’s soda with digitalis.
Soon after, Mulder, Scully, and several cops storm the hotel room. The girls are huddled together in a corner, and claim that Kindrick and another woman poisoned their drinks and wanted everyone to commit suicide. Scully confirms that digitalis had been added to the soda; the sweetness of the syrup masking the taste of the poison. Mulder and Scully unknowingly take custody of the girls, so that Cindy can be taken home and Teena can return to foster care.
On the way back towards San Francisco, the girls claim a need to go to the bathroom, so Mulder decides to go to the next truck stop. Mulder orders four sodas to go. While the others are in the bathroom, one of the girls comes out and quickly doses the diet sodas (for Mulder and Scully) with digitalis. Mulder comes out and immediately begins drinking his soda, noting the sweet taste but apparently unable to make the connection. When Scully returns, they all leave.
At the car, Mulder realizes he forgot his keys, and runs back into the truck stop. He notices some prominent green patches on the table, and realizes that he and Scully have been poisoned. He runs outside and tries to warn Scully without letting the girls know he’s onto them…and fails miserably. The girls run into the parking lot to hide.
Apparently not drinking enough to have any effect, Mulder and Scully hunt for the girls. Mulder finds them, but when he grabs them, they get the attention of a trucker, who argues Mulder into letting them go. The girls run off, and the truck driver realizes he’s been fooled. They continue the hunt, and eventually manage to get them back into custody.
Sometime later, the girls are in the Whiting Institute, in cells next to Eve 6. They have been labeled Eve 9 and Eve 10. A woman is granted access to the Eves, and sure enough, it’s Eve 8. She’s come for them…something the girls already “just knew”…
This episode marks the first attempt to bring post-Cold War eugenics experiments into the mythology of the X-Files. Perhaps more importantly, the concept of genetically engineered clones is tied directly to eugenics. By adding in the comment that the Russians were also performing similar experiments, the writers provide a platform upon which an entire arm of the mythology is seated.
I’ve always found it odd how so many people seem to miss the explanations given in this episode, when it comes to developing a basis for later mythology elements. The genetically engineered clones of abducted test subjects, as seen during the first five seasons, were very likely products of post-Litchfield eugenics. The plot threads related to Scully’s abduction tie directly into the same concept. The experiments referenced in “Anasazi”, “Paper Clip”, “Nisei”, and “731” all relate to post-Cold War experiments to genetically engineer humans with superior physical and mental abilities.
We later learn that these experiments, both Western and Russian, are geared towards developing a resistance to an apparently alien threat: first, simple notions of colonization, and later the black oil virus itself. This episode begins the string of revelations that tell a relatively simple story. Following the discovery of an impending alien incursion, the superpowers raced to develop a means of survival. The Litchfield experiments were among the first American attempts to use eugenics in this “arms race”.
In fact, the experiments that yielded the Eves take the most logical step for the times, even if the results were far better than those efforts should ever yield. By adding chromosomes to the altered cells, they were attempting to increase the chances that the inactive genes, which they might have already realized allow for altered abilities, would become active. In some small part, we see that it worked.
We also learn that the experiments are ongoing, and that provides a link that stretches over the time span of the 1950s (when the conspiracy was beginning to form) and the early 1990s (when the conspiracy took on a different form by exposing Mulder to the X-Files). Even though the cloning and genetic engineering experiments might have finally yielded acceptable results circa 1991, there could have been psychological effects that were still unusually prevalent.
Interestingly, when the eugenics/super-soldier concept returned to the forefront of the mythology in the later seasons, fans complained that it was a weak addition to the main alien colonization plot. I’ve never understood that. While some kind of alien presence was always hinted, it was the government’s attempts to hide its own illegal and immoral genetic experiments and military advances that predominated the first several seasons. In fact, the eugenics experiments lie at the heart of the mythology from beginning to end; only the masterminds behind the experiments change.
One would think, then, that an episode with such far-reaching implications to the rest of the series would be a classic mythology episode. Unfortunately, it doesn’t follow very well on the heels of the superior (though more murky) “Fallen Angel”. Most of these problems are in the writing, which is devoted to mostly expository dialogue and plot contrivances.
For instance, we’re told that the Eves are psychotically brilliant, but they choose to eliminate their “fathers” in a very sensational manner. Much of what they do tends towards the overly dramatic. One could always say that they were overconfident to a fault, but there are just moments that feel more like sloppy writing. It’s not that the girls are too clever for their own good, but rather, they do things that are easy to investigate. The early attempt to spin the murders as part of a bizarre alien menace is completely dropped.
Moreover, when watching this episode, one gets the feeling that Mulder and Scully are among the most naïve and brain-dead federal agents in the Bureau. How Scully could possibly ignore Mulder’s suspicious behavior is beyond me. But more amazing is the entire final act. As soon as the girls get into the agents’ custody, the nonsense just keeps piling up. For someone with extreme paranoia, Mulder conveniently forgets about the sweet taste of digitalis until he sees the huge green splotches on the table…which ought to have been plainly visible as soon as he walked over! Speaking of which, was there even as much digitalis in the vial as had been spilled?
But even after that, as the person most familiar with the information, Scully ought to have figured it out as soon as she tasted her drink. After all, even if Mulder wasn’t suspecting the girls, Scully had already mentioned that she thought the girls had been the killers. So when Mulder finds out about the poisoning (after the extremely convenient fortune of forgetting his keys on the table), he doesn’t find some subtle way to let Scully know about it. Instead, he openly smacks the soda out of her hands…right in front of the girls!
What follows just gets worse, including a completely unnecessary misdirection with a school bus full of children. You know, the ones that were apparently in the truck stop, but we never saw or heard. Probably because they were so damned tired, what with being on the world’s longest field trip!
It’s a shame, because the misdirection earlier in the episode was excellent. It’s simply clear that the writers had no idea how to resolve the situation, having set it up so convincingly. While the final act illustrates that point on its own, there are two other areas where a little more information would have been nice.
First, I’d like to know why Mulder’s informant wanted him to know about the Litchfield experiments. I make the assumption that this is the first time the informant is actually giving Mulder information that he’s not supposed to know, because the conspiracy is not likely to get anything useful out of divulging this information. The idea is to use Mulder to direct attention away from the truth, after all…not to expose experiments that sound just a little too authentic to ignore.
The other problem is the final scene. Never mind that Eve 8 never should have been able to get into the Whiting Institute without being noticed. But if she does help the girls escape, as suggested by the open ending, why do we never hear about them before? Talk about a completely wasted opportunity! They could have easily been reintroduced later in the series, especially when the audience would have benefited from seeing how the pieces of the mythology intersect.
What we end up with is an episode that could have been much better, had more attention been spent on the writing. Instead, this is a very pleasant but ultimately frustrating piece of the early mythology, with elements that would turn out to be more central to the series arc than the more classic episodes like “Ice” and “Fallen Angel”.
SCULLY: “Mulder, why would alien beings travel light years through space in order to play doctor on cattle?”
MULDER: “One girl was just abducted.”
MULDER: “Po-ta-to, po-tah-to…”
SCULLY: “Mulder, you’re rushing me out of the room…”
MULDER: “No I’m not.”
SCULLY: “You got a girl coming over?”
MULDER: “What’s a girl? No, I have…there’s a movie I want to watch on TV. Sleep tight. See you in the morning…”
- There are some very cool camera shots in this episode, ranging from the shots through the circular windows in the hospital doors to the shots through the tubing in the truck stop parking lot.
- Nice helmet hair, Scully…
- You know your child is the product of a bizarre breeding experiment when they prefer C-Span to the Cartoon Network!
- Once again, I love those scenes with Mulder wearing his glasses. There’s just something iconic about his character when he’s wearing the glasses. I don’t know what, but it’s there…
- For someone who trusts no one, Mulder’s incredibly bad at lying to people!
- Eve 6 needs some damned dental work! Maybe some “Bright Smile” treatments, for after those eyeball binges…
- I’ll give them a pass on the extra chromosomes bit. Technically, that would be more likely to lead to immediate non-viability than eugenically pleasing results.
- I realize I haven’t taken Black Projects 101, but why would they let Eve 6 keep a picture of the other girls on her wall?
- Doesn’t take much to knock Scully down, does it?
- That trucker scene never should have worked. Did either one of them think to flash a badge before letting the girls go?
- Oh, and what the hell was a school bus full of children doing at a truck stop in the middle of the night?
- Why didn’t anyone at the Whiting Institute recognize Eve 8 when she walked in the door? It’s not like the Eves are average in appearance!
Overall, this episode has some good misdirection throughout, and some fine examples of striking the right mood through direction. But the dialogue is appallingly poor and expository, and the final scenes are just remarkably illogical. The good and the bad mostly balance out, but not enough.
I give it a 6/10.
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