Irresistible 2×13: I’ll pay extra if that’s something out of the ordinary.

I’m sorry, did that fangirl squeal come from me?

[Disclaimer: The following is the work of a rabid fan and does not necessarily express the opinions of Mulder and Scully, 1013 productions, or anyone else with a modicum of sense. The writer understands that none of the above were on the Good Ship this early on in the series but, by the Grace of God, all later came to see the error of their Noromo ways.]

I have to warn you, dearest reader, that this is bound to fail. I am emotionally incapable of giving a sound and objective review of this episode.

If you’ve been reading my reviews carefully… and I know who you are… you already know a bit of my X-Files autobiography. The first glimpse I got of The X-Files was “Gender Bender” (1×13) and I was intrigued. I tuned in and out after that but once I saw “Darkness Falls” (1×19) I tried not to miss an episode. It wasn’t until “Irresistible”, however, that I became a Phile in its most extreme definition. I was literally jumping up and down with joy by the end yelling, “I love this show!” to my poor family’s befuddlement. Over-enthusiastic? Possibly.

“Irresistible” is about as close to a straight police procedural as The X-Files ever got. It says something that a series about the paranormal doesn’t have to rely on shock value to give us a memorable episode. The show has now reached such a level that it doesn’t even have to give us an actual X-File. A creepy villain and a chance to get inside Agent Scully’s head for 45 minutes is more than sufficient for quality television. There’s only the merest hint that there may be more to Donnie Pfaster than meets the naked eye, and even that may have only been in Scully’s head. As Scully says in her voiceover, it’s easier to believe in monsters of the supernatural kind than in human ones.

There have been some complaints from fans over the years that Scully is reduced to the role of the “Damsel in Distress” in this episode, waiting for Mulder to save her from the big, bad boogey man. I beg to differ. Scully was abducted and left for dead only some months back. Instead of taking time off to work through the inevitable psychological trauma, Scully jumps right back into the job. In fact, if the series’ timeline is to be believed, she goes back to work about a week after being in a coma. Riddle me that.

My point is that Scully has some issues waiting to be dealt with, issues of her own mortality and vulnerability that she’s put off for far too long. The fact that she’s having a hard time with the death and desecration of these young women is only natural, it doesn’t make her weak. That’s a lesson that Scully needs to learn. Trying to be a big girl in a boy’s club at the F.B.I. has cost her. Even strong, intelligent women need a shoulder to cry on sometimes. Finally, she allows herself to openly depend on Mulder without fear of what others will think of her… or what she may think of herself. Like “Beyond the Sea” (1×12) before it, this episode emotionally invests the audience in Scully’s personal journey. How could Chris Carter have ever denied that this show was primarily about the characters?

If this episode has any flaw it’s that you have to stretch your imagination fairly far to feel the same horror at Pfaster’s crimes that the characters do. Pfaster represents a serial killer of Jeffrey Dahmer’s ilk, which is alluded to in the episode itself. The problem is that Dahmer’s atrocities were still too taboo for network television at the time. Consequently, Pfaster’s character morphs from a necrophiliac into a “Death Fetishist”, a man who only takes benign souvenirs from the dead. Call me callous, but I’m more horrified by atrocities committed on the living. Not that I’m complaining, truthfully. I rather miss the days when TV didn’t spell everything out in graphic detail. This episode addresses its subject matter in a roundabout manner and that’s about as close as I ever want to get. It’s just that the writing requires the viewer to make the jump and connect the dots as to what’s really going on. Scully isn’t having a visceral reaction because of fingernail clippings.

…And the Verdict is:

Now that we’ve discussed some of how awesome this episode is in its awesomeness, can we talk about Mulder and Scully here for a minute? I realize that Mulder and Scully aren’t shipping, but I’m shipping. Noromos, consider yourselves warned.

[gush]This episode is when my Ship sailed. Not that I wasn’t rooting for Mulder and Scully before, but previous to this I thought that Mulder and Scully were just supposed to happen, that the writers had written them that way and I, as the viewer, was just waiting for the inevitable to be revealed. I cared but within decent proportions. “Irresistible” changed all that. I went from vaguely interested to unhealthily invested with one flicker of Scully’s eyelashes. Honestly, how could you be immune??[/gush]

Stepping away from Shippiness for a moment, just as friends and partners, Mulder’s quiet concern for Scully here is everything it should be. He spends the entire episode watching her with knowing eyes. I don’t know how Scully thought she could avoid his notice. He’s not Oxford educated in Psychology for nothing. Mulder may have his faults but being an indifferent to Scully is not one of them.

Mulder isn’t just giving her the “Let me know if you want to talk” speech. He’s not “a shoulder if you need it.” He’s not waiting passively, he’s looking for an opportunity to help her. He wisely doesn’t force the issue but you can see him shrewdly looking for a sign that she’s ready to let him comfort her. Again, if you look back at “Beyond the Sea”, Mulder does reach out to Scully but it’s more the passive sort of comfort that I just described. There he gave the impression of someone who’s concerned, but here he’s not just concerned, he’s invested. They’ve moved on to where they’re not just there for each other, they can trust each other to share the other’s weakness. Doesn’t everyone need a friend like that?

There’s a great difference between someone who lets you hold their hand when you’re afraid and someone who grabs your hand back. When it comes to Scully, Mulder’s the latter. He’s not just letting her cry, he’s helping her cry. For homework, check out the hug scene in the “Pilot” (1×79) and compare.

I should insert something intelligent here about the quality of Chris Carter’s writing or the unsettling darkness of David Nutter’s direction or the cold creepiness of Nick Chinlund’s Pfaster, but as I said before, I’m not capable.

Just go watch it.



Agent Busch makes a brief appearance as an admirer of Scully. A precursor to Agent Pendrell perhaps?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Why do they do it?
Mulder: Well, some people collect salt and pepper shakers. Fetishists collect dead things, fingernails and hair. No one quite knows why. Though I’ve never really understood salt and pepper shakers myself.


Scully: It took us three hours to get here. Our plane doesn’t leave until tomorrow night. If you suspected…
Mulder: Vikings versus Redskins, Scully. 40-yard line in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. You and me.


Mulder: Are you staying on there, Scully?
Scully: No. I’m coming back tonight.
Mulder: Look, I know this is a pretty horrific case, but if…
Scully: I’m okay with it, Mulder. Anyway you could use my help.
Mulder: Always. (Swoon)

68 responses to “Irresistible 2×13: I’ll pay extra if that’s something out of the ordinary.

  1. I think you’ve got it right on the head. For me, watching the developing mechanics of the Mulder/Scully Ship was always fascinating. After watching them 80 million times, I see the subtle looks and casual touches that do mean an evolution. The plots have always been very important to me. I think you mentioned it in the “Firewalker” notes, how the show left the stranded scientists alone for the most part after that. The mythology of the show really does start to take off with “Irresistible”. The trust and dependability Mulder and Scully have with each other is every bit as important as what happens to them.

    P.s. Thanks for writing these. I love seeing the episodes broken down and opinions given.

    • Hey Margaret!

      Thanks for dropping by!! I love reading what you guys think about these episodes.

      “The trust and dependability Mulder and Scully have with each other is every bit as important as what happens to them.” So, so true. The mythology is just the vehicle that’s being used to tell us a story about two people and their personal journeys. I’m sure CC didn’t start out with that intention, but it happened nevertheless.

  2. Man. I am not watching them hard enough, apparently. Chalk it up to the male in me, but I hardly saw any of that!

    Sure, Irresistible was a fantastic episode (Christine Willes’ understated performance as the sounding-board Agent Kosseff is an added bonus), but I didn’t pick up on nearly as much subtext as seemingly I should have.

    I’m gonna have to hang in there and say my Ship is still in port. This episode unarguably strengthens their relationship, but I’ve got to posit that it’s still platonic at this point. Come find me during Season 4/5 or FTF, and you might get more traction though!

    P.S.: The [gush][/gush] tags made my day.

    • Totally agree that Mulder and Scully are still platonic!

      But I’m not. :o)

      I’m five steps ahead of where they’re at. I have a theory that right around the time you said is when Mulder starts Scully-crushing. I’ll be paying super close attention this rewatch to see if that idea pans out.

  3. This is the only episode that ever made me afraid to go to bed at night! Since Pfaster is a human monster (with some vague devil references thrown in to make it an X-file), I think he can be more feared because it could actually happen. Mulder’s monologue solidifies that for me.

    “It’s been said that the fear of the unknown is an irrational response to the excesses of the imagination. But our fear of the everyday, of the lurking stranger, and the sound of foot-falls on the stairs. The fear of violent death and the primitive impulse to survive, are as frightening as any x-file, as real as the acceptance that it could happen to you. ”

    I didn’t see this show until I was 9, when the series was in its third season, so I never watched them in order…but my Ship was definitely out to sea by the time I saw this one. (Swoon)

    • It’s it amazing how this episode has held up over time? Though I think, like you mentioned, the demon visions were probably thrown in there just so it could be considered an X-File. What’s so much more frightening than supernatural monsters is what we as humans, all of us, are capable of under the right circumstances.

      Thanks for coming by, Abby!!

      • Yes. I’m getting a friend into the show right now and I can’t wait to show her this one.

        Someone linked to you on Facebook, so I came by to check it out and I love what you’re doing! I spent the whole morning Friday reading all of your reviews. It only makes me want to watch and rewatch even more. I’ll definitely be back 🙂

  4. honestly i think i’m gonna have to disagree with you in regards to the Ship setting sail in this episode. i think all it does is emphasises how strong their partnership is becoming and how much each of them need the other. this episode really explores how much Scully needs Mulder in light of what has happened to her in previous episodes (abduction). i think when you get to Colony/End Game, the writers show just how much Mulder needs Scully. the show was still too embryonic to be showing signs of Shipperism (and im a 100% shipper!) for the mere fact that CC had firmly made it clear at this point that he had no intention of the two becoming romantically involved. It was about this great partnership and friendship at this point and this episode explores how that is evolving. it was extremely necessary to do seeing as how (in true X-File fashion) very little acknowledgement is given to the mythology episode events and the stand-alone events.
    thats just my opinion but i think it could be a little premature to say that shipper signs are coming through. i think its around season 5 onwards that the anchor is slowly lifted, and only in season 7 does it begin to move out of port.

    • Oh, I should probably reword some of what I wrote. It’s not clear.

      I don’t think Mulder and Scully are on the ship at all! It’s just that I’m on the ship and it’s already out to sea. We’ll be sailing back to port to pick them up around the middle of Season 7. 🙂

      The great thing about this episode, though, is that the depth of their friendship has reached a new level. Hence, my shippiness.

    • Problem solved. 😉

  5. Emily Michelle

    This has always been in my top 5 favorite episodes, which I’ve always thought was kind of creepy of me, so I’m very relieved to hear that others think highly of it as well. 🙂 It gives us a reminder that Mulder and Scully aren’t just good at chasing aliens, they’re also good at their jobs–like you said, it’s a police procedural, and they’re both great in it. I love to see the cracks in Scully’s armor; for all she tries to be tough as nails, she’s got her vulnerabilities too. Luckily she’s got Mulder to watch her back.

    And I love how much you learn about Mulder and Scully’s relationship. We see how concerned Mulder is for her (and that he thinks that she’s pretty!). And in Scully’s interview with the psychiatrist (therapist?) we get a fantastic analysis of her feelings for him: she trusts him with her life, but she still sometimes pretends and hides her feelings around him because she (1) feels like she can (and maybe has to) handle everything by herself, and (2) doesn’t want to burden Mulder. I feel like that one little scene explains so much about her character. And yes, the shipper in me always squeals in this episode. I don’t want Scully to be a damsel in distress, but I do love it when Mulder saves her. 🙂

    • I think they tried to repeat this type of Scully episode but never quite succeeded in the same way. This one’s a classic all around!

  6. I know I’m late on this conversation, but after rewatching this ep last night I had to throw in my two cents. I think after some clarification, everyone here is on the same page – Mulder and Scully aren’t quite on the ship, but Salome began to set sail after this episode 🙂 The interesting thing to me is that I didn’t have the same reaction – and I feel I should have, considering how much of a shipper I was throughout the series.

    There are elements of this episode that make me get my ship on, slightly. Although the final hug scene is touching, the part that made my stomach flutter (as all serious ship-moments do) was solely when Mulder acknowledged that Scully is in fact a pretty lady. (Glad you mentioned it, Emily.) That’s it. One very small passing comment was all I took note of in terms of shippiness.

    What I love the MOST about this episode is the continued development of Scully’s character, and that’s what I tend to focus on more while watching this. Probably because I adore Scully even more than I adore Mulder+Scully. I love her absolute refusal to show her vulnerability to Mulder. I also think it’s interesting that, despite her aversion to being vulnerable, she’s smart enough to process what she’s experiencing with a professional. (I can’t help but think about how Mulder would NEVER do this if he were in a similar situation.) By the time the episode wraps up, I’m thinking about everything Scully has experienced and her constant refusal to show any outward signs of the effect it’s had on her. I mean, this is the SECOND time in very recent history this woman has been kidnapped, bound, and gagged. On top of the fact that either of these events alone would be terrifying, Scully has to experience some serious re-traumatization due to her Duance Barry experience. Her insistance on portraying herself as “okay” to Mulder, refusing to be seen as vulnerable, is indeed a character flaw – but holy hell, I personally can’t help but admire her attempt. Such a strong woman.

    For this reason, I don’t see Scully as damsel in distress in this episode. (Which is great, because I don’t like seeing her that way.) It sure looks like that on the surface – Mulder is perfectly stoic at the sight of this grisly case, and continues to offer compassion to Scully, who clearly is not. And of course, he does appear to swoop in and rescue her in the end. But once again, Scully has put up one HELL of a fight physically, as well as resisted showing her emotions to Mulder – all the way up until the very end, where she finally gives in and allows herself to cling to Mulder for support.

    • It’s never too late to join the party!

      I completely agree that Scully is hardly playing the damsel in this episode. To take it that way is to purely look on the surface of the episode rather than her character’s history and motivations. I think Scully was afraid of being seen as a “damsel” of sorts and wanted to carry her weight. But it was touching to see her realize that it’s OK to lean on someone once in a while.

  7. Another thought: what are everyone’s views on the Pfaster morphing moment? I can’t help but think they should have just left this non-X-file alone and 86ed that part.

    Salome, I really enjoyed your review of this episode, which I think is interesting/funny considering your early warnings and your claim that you would be nowhere close to objective. Turns out, this is a fun one to talk about. You were also dead on with your assessment of the disconnect between the viewers’ reactions to Pfaster’s crimes and the characters’.

    • Hmm, if I’m remembering what CC said in the special features section of the DVD correctly, he really wanted to write an episode about real-world monsters. Something non-paranormal. The germ of what would one day become Millennium was about to sprout in his mind. But this still had to be an X-File so I suspect that the morphing was that token supernatural element that an X-File would have to have. They tried it again in Grotesque, though not as successfully. It would’ve worked, and been less confusing, without it. But would it have been an X-File? Thoughts anyone?

      P.S. Thanks!!

      • I think that it would have worked without the transformation, inasmuch as it applies to Irresistible. It’s totally unnecessary to the episode. However, the plot of Orison (arguably the best MOTW follow-up in all of XF history) was grounded in Donnie’s demonic possession. The exploration of the theme of evil, as a catalyzing force and/or controller in the universe would not have been as accessible to the writers if Donnie had not already physically embodied a demon in the prerequisite episode. Orison was infinitely stronger because of 5 seconds of a special effect that Irresistible probably could have done without.

        • Ok, Maggie, I have to give you props because you inspired me to go rewatch Orison. I’m bad, I know, because I’m one of those that almost completely discounts the last few seasons of the series – including season 7. I had probably only seen Orison once before, and hadn’t seen Irresistible in so long that I wasn’t remembering it well. I was blown away by Orison episode this time, and it makes me feel more comfortable with Irresistible’s morphing moment for the reasons you gave. I’m excited for season 7 now – hopefully there are more gems in the rough that I’ve ignored before! Only problem is I can’t get “Don’t Look Any Further” out of my head!!!

  8. I would actually agree with leaving out the morphing. I understand why they did it, as it was Scully’s perception of seeing a real live actual monster. But knowing her fear, as when she saw her face on one of the victims, that was enough. Still, for a non-X-file, it was so high-grade and such a character-driven ep.

  9. Wikipedia says “The scene where Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) imagines Pfaster appearing as a devil was influenced by real-life accounts, as described by Carter: “There are reports of people who had been under the spell of Jeffrey Dahmer, who actually claimed that he shape-shifted during those hours when they were held hostage; that his image actually changed.” Nutter said “In many ways, Chris wanted to sell the idea that, as established in Mulder’s closing dialogue in the show, not all terror comes from the paranormal. It could come from the person next door.”

    IMO the morphing went well with the episode. The morphing was sort of what the underlying message of the episode was, what Mulder was getting at, that evil isn’t necessarily paranormal, and it could live inside of anyone, it was to show that Pfaster is sort of the embodiment of evil. It also sort of gave an interesting idea of seeing real life killers as the paranormal. It was also used to show Scully’s stress over the past couple of episodes, i mean as the Psych said, her father just died, and the whole getting abducted thing she isn’t really at her best right now. It was basically a follow up to her seeing her face on the victim.

    As for the damsel in distress, i don’t think it was as much as that, but more-so just Scully getting passed her recent traumas. I mean usually when speaking of a “damsel in distress” it’s referring to a helpless women being attacked, but as seen in the episode Scully still had plenty of fight left in her, and wasn’t exactly helpless, i mean she managed to get away from him when she was cornered in the closet and tied up, and then she managed to pull the gun on him at the bottom of the stairs, if Mulder hadn’t broke through the door at that specific time, i think Scully would have been able to fend for herself. But it shows that they’re there for each other, not that Scully has to rely on Mulder, but more-so that she CAN rely on Mulder…she doesn’t have to go through things alone, Mulder can help her through things (hence the “helping her cry”).

    • included the Wikipedia thing as an explanation as to why they put the morphing in there, apparently the morphing was “influenced by real-life accounts.”

      • Very interesting – definitely didn’t know that! Thanks for the info.

        • Awesome! Thanks, Shawn!

          I’m going to take a similar position and say while it wasn’t necessary to the success of the episode it provides continuity in terms of The X-Files’ aesthetic. It also allows Chris Carter to address the question of the nature of evil without answering it. Is evil an outside force capable of possessing a human being or does evil lie within the heart of human beings themselves? Or both?

  10. Scully? Damsel in distress? P’shaw. I don’t know who would say something like that, at least in regards to this episode. I saw Scully doing her damndest to get away from Pfaster; she may have been rattled at first (and after being run off the road, then tied up in a strange house, who wouldn’t be, at the very least rattled?), but she rallied and did everything in her power to escape.

    The fact that someone would refer to Scully as Damsel in Distress in this episode really irks me. Mulder is supportive, yes, but that doesn’t make Scully weak. And being freaked out by a twisted dude who kills girls to collect their hair and digits is perfectly understandable; the real-life monsters are always scarier than the other types of monsters dreamed up on this show. At least with the villains that they come across in the actual X-Files, you can kind of imagine them away as fantastical. But someone who has an unexplainable obsession, to the point of murder, is something that can’t be wished away, and when going head to head with someone like that, it’s perfectly acceptable to be afraid.

    I will say, as I’m sure you have, that the tears at the end weren’t really about this ordeal–at least not entirely. I can guarantee that she hadn’t let herself fully grasp what had happened to her in the Duane Barry arc; I can speak from experience that when I bottle stuff up for too long, one thing can set off a whole tsunami of emotions. For Scully to allow herself to cry and allow Mulder to help her through it…*shiver*. Just because they weren’t in a ship doesn’t mean my teenage mind didn’t enjoy the moments that were squee-worthy.

    I’ll get off my soap box now.

    • I actually think all the cries of Scully playing too much “The Damsel” or that Mulder rescued her once too often are a bunch of hyper-sensitive hooey.

      Scully was always strong but I think she represented a certain brand of feminism in the 1990s that was afraid to show weakness. Think Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. Women had just gotten into the boys club, we didn’t want to be kicked out for “crying in baseball.”

      That said, what was so great about Scully is that she was vulnerable without sacrificing any of her strength or independence. She was always a capable woman who knew her own mind and in later seasons, could deliver a swift roundhouse kick to back it up.

      Being comforted in Mulder’s arms can’t negate all that.
      I’m on that soap box with you!

      • I’m about as radically feminist as they come, but I get little butterflies in my tummy when I watch that last scene of Irresistible.

  11. “Scully was always strong but I think she represented a certain brand of feminism in the 1990s that was afraid to show weakness. Think Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. Women had just gotten into the boys club, we didn’t want to be kicked out for “crying in baseball.””

    Very, very well said. I’ve never considered it before but I think you’re dead on when you say Scully is a great representative of 90’s feminism. That might be a topic for another blog though 🙂 [Or the book I’m now contemplating authoring: The Enigmatic Dr. Scully: 90’s Feminism and other Feminist Analyses of The X-Files]

    I’ve always wanted to start from the beginning and tally up how many times Mulder “saved” Scully, and vice-versa. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been done before. I’ll have to consult the google.

    • Oh, you should! Not enough has been written about my girl Scully. She deserves a book like that.

      Funny you should mention that because I intended to count those types of things when I started… then I got lazy. I’m still keeping track of the Elvis Jokes though. 😉

  12. So glad to see my own issues with this episode confirmed – I also could not understand why Scully was so deeply affected by Pfaster’s crimes. It was only when I saw an interview with Chris Carter explaining that they weren’t allowed to make the connection between sex and death on the show at the time that I got it. Still, it does require a bit of imagination (never a bad thing – I agree, we are too spoon-fed these days, with everything spelled out for us!).

  13. I totally agree with you – this is the episode I started shipping hardcore as well. But as discussed in the comments above, I don’t think it was until later (season 4, IMO) that it was incredibly intense and undeniable. But this episode – we see a side of Scully that we don’t normally see. You raise excellent points, as does the FBI shrink – Scully had some big time things happen and took no time off. I definitely never saw this as some damsel in distress episode.

    Moreover, the actor who plays Pfaster is forever typecasted, IMO, esp. after Orison. I saw him in something current and unrelated this past year (Grey’s Anatomy, I’m thinking, though I could be wrong), and I couldn’t even taken him seriously or watch it. He’s Donnie Pfaster forever.

    • I had a very similar reaction when I saw him in a Law & Order episode. I mean, I watched and enjoyed it and all, but my mind kept going, “Donnie Pfaster. Donnie Pfaster!”

  14. One of the sweetest parts of this episode was the fact that at the end, Scully reached for Mulder instead of vice versa. She was upset and knew instinctively that it would be safe to walk into his arms.

  15. This is also a Top Ten episode favourite of mine. I only recently found out that the Donnie Pfaster character was originally going to be a necrophiliac. Hmm, I must admit I was also a bit slow on this and hadn’t joined the dots like we were meant to. I just thought it was creepy enough that he was collecting womens’ fingers in the fridge and had an unnatural interest (for a man) in womens’ hairdressing & grooming. The cold baths were a bit odd too, but maybe he just forgot to put the immersion heater on when he got home 🙂 Seriously though, Mulder is sweet towards Scully and shows a lot of consideration for her sensibilities in this ep. A real pity this honeymoon period doesn’t last & he makes no further overtures about taking her out somewhere- inthis case to the game ( but mainly selfish interest going on there I think, but – hey- he’s a guy. This is what they do)

    • Def. one of my favorite episodes for both characters. Scully finally realizes that vulnerability doesn’t equal weakness and lets her guard down in the end. I also love that she fights back through her fear and causes Donnie Pfaster much frustration in the process. And as for Mulder, I don’t know if he was ever more perfectly sensitive and patient than he is here; he’s a real friend, giving Scully the space to deal with her emotions and yet ready to support her when she needs it. Win, win.

      All of Season 2 was pretty much their honeymooon. By the time we hit Season 3…

      • “Scully finally realizes that vulnerability doesn’t equal weakness and lets her guard down in the end”

  16. Well, I knew we were kindred spirits, Salome, when I read that this was the episode your ship sailed. 😉 Just like you, I fully admit M&S are not on it yet, but *I* sure the heck was. And I know it was more about ‘relationship bonding’ and friendship strengthening’, but when you get butterflies in your tummy at passing comments like “pretty lady” and Scully’s responses *about* Mulder to Karen Kosseff (not to him, but just about him), I think it’s safe to say that the ship has arrived for Amy. 😀 The hug was HUGE for me….i remember when I FIRST watched it (I bashfully admit I’ve watched this *countless* times) I thought during the hug, “Hmm, did he just kiss the top of her head?! He kind of has his lips there, I wonder if that was a kiss?!” Yeah, really sad. I especially love the part where she squeezes him extra hard and he squeezes his eyes shut. Such a great scene. But again, I totally realize that they are not shipping yet. But their chemistry is just SO huge, and the bond is just SO great, it’s impossible for *me* to not feel that.

    As for Scully being the damsel, I’ll admit that throughout much of season 3 I couldn’t help but feel they had a few too many episodes where Mulder had to rescue her (I think it really hit me once we got to “Our Town”. Even though I certainly didn’t mind seeing Mulder rescue her; I am no feminist. However it was my second watchthrough that I realized there was plenty of reciprocation going in the ‘resucing’ department. 🙂

    • I can’t get over these two. Just thinking of the end of this episode takes me back to the giddiness. And it’s so much better because there’s no real sexual tension there. It’s just Mulder being a fabulous friend to Scully.

  17. “Giddiness”…that’s the perfect word for it! And I realize I wrote seaon 3 but meant to type season 2, just to clarify. 😉

  18. Pingback: Season 2, Episode 13 – Irresistible « The X-Files Truth Podcast

  19. Pingback: Special Episode – Season 2, Top 10 Shipper Moments « The X-Files Truth Podcast

  20. This was the episode that got me hooked.
    I was still sitting on the fence at the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2 (though I remember loving The Host) and I still wasn’t sure if I liked it all through the Duane Barry trilogy (and “3” didn’t help at all :)…

    It really was the episode that made me fall in love with the show. I think it might be the fact that I am used to seeing crime shows like this (CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS) because I grew up with those shows. It was amazing to see and episode where the show stepped away from everything that makes it so good, you know, all of the supernatural/paranormal and still give an incredible, hair-standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck episode! That proves that The X-Files truly is an outstanding series. It could pull of any number of genre’s! This episode is truly terrifying because, for once, there is nothing scientific, paranormal…etc that we need to rap our head around and try to understand. The horror in this episode is front and center and bone-chillingly realistic.

    It was the first episode that made me cry…:(

    • “This was the episode that got me hooked.”

      Me too!

      “That proves that The X-Files truly is an outstanding series. It could pull of any number of genre’s!”

      Yes! The talent on this show was so flexible. They could write anything, act anything, produce anything.

  21. Long time lurker … Much as I love this ep, one thing always worries me. For all Mulders concern, the fact is he was aware before they left of what sort of desecration they were likely dealing with AND HE PREPARED HIMSELF! it bothers me +++ that he didn’t bother to go through any of these strategies with his relatively new investigative partner. Who has had some ‘trauma’ recently. He’s a psychologist FFS. At least he could have tried …
    Ahh, art. How your license doth annoy.

    • That’s always bugged me too! He expects a grisly crime scene and prepares himself accordingly, but doesn’t warn Scully? He just lets her get caught unawares by the horror? Cool move, Mulder. He’s quite sensitive and concerned later in the episode, but that moment is weird.

    • “Ahh, art. How your license doth annoy.”


      Well, maybe he thought as a doctor and someone who had seen viciously violent crime scenes before he wouldn’t have to baby her? But it is suspicious that he went through the trouble of preparing himself and didn’t bother to warn Scully.

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  23. I’d like to chime in and say that I thought the demon transformations were the best parts of the episode. Especially the first time, in the funeral home (which had nothing to do with Scully, by the way) – it caught me totally by surprise. It’s been the scariest moment in the whole series for me during my rewatch so far.

    I agree that if Donnie Pfaster had really been a devil in human skin, that would have been over the top, and this episode works perfectly without going over the top. But a major theme of the episode is that people can be monsters sometimes, and so I don’t see how depicting that literally in one or two tastefully restrained scenes hurts the narrative at all. Plus, the costume/makeup looked fantastic! So I’m glad they kept those parts in.

    Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees this episode as a kind of precursor to Millenium.

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  27. You’re so right about this episode really involving us emotionally with Scully. That scene of Mulder hugging her was a nice touch, that shows how close they’ve grown. I like how on the outside Scully is so self-assured and strong, but has that vulnerability and humanity inside.

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  29. This reunion was the one we didn’t get in “One Breath.” It’s just like M&S to make us wait.

  30. Everyone mentions the Devil morphing at the end, but did anyone else noticed it happened right at the beginning, too, when Scully wasn’t even there?

  31. I’m going through the X-Files (in my filing cabinet, ho! ho! ho!) for the first time, and this is definitely the scariest episode yet. Really, this and Squeeze are the only ones to actually scare me. It took me a while, but my the end of this episode I was almost crying in fear.
    My two gripes are:
    1. That the characters are way too freaked out by the crimes at the beginning, and really right up to Scully’s abduction. For the first twenty minutes or so Pfaster just wanted to get his freak on with a dead woman, he’s hardly a psycho. Even when he does start killing, I wouldn’t call it second-placed only to child murder. From his motivations it seems he’s cutting off fingers post mortem, so it’s not like he’s some kind of mutilating Jack the Ripper type, even if he does choose the MacBeth method of murder.
    2. I’m sorry, Donnie Pfaster is not “the boy next door”. He couldn’t be more obviously a nut if he was wearing a flashing neon hat that said “SERIAL KILLER” on it.

    • Oh, and 3. Minneapolis is not some folksy small town where people leave their doors open, it is a major US city. We even see its red light district!

  32. This was another one of my season 2 favorites, though I’m still annoyed to this day how they watered down Donnie Pfaster so he would get by on network TV. At least they made it more explicit in his sequel episode, but come on. I’m rambling. Great episode, good villain, fantastic relationship development.

  33. This is such a great episode; one of the best in X-File history, IMHP. It is designed to affect the viewer in more than just ‘Oo, this is a cool scary episode’, but in a way that really hits home and makes you feel uneasy long after the credits have rolled by. The fact that it is so plausibly real is what makes stand out and touch a raw nerve.

    I think it is great that we get to see more into Scully’s psyche. I think what some critics of this episode are criticising is not so much that Scully is a ‘damsel in distress’, because she fights tooth and nail, but rather that she has been written into this situation in the first place. Scully is often written into scenes in which she is potential prey. Unlike Mulder, on the other hand, who is always getting into danger, but not an objectified target in the same way, as tool or means to an end.

    That being said, I think this episode was desperately needed for Scully. After everything that happened to her, she just continued on as if it was no big deal. Well it was, and she needed to be made aware of that by having this event wake her up to the fact.

    For me, as much of a shipper as I am, I have to leave all shippy feelings completely to one side for this episode. That fact that Scully is being targeted by a sexual predator – because that’s what Donnie is, even if he is impotent, and has to get his gratification another way such as through a hair/nail fetish, he is a sexual predator – makes any sort of non-platonic MSR feel wrong and tainted in these circumstances, when it comes to Mulder offering/provding comfort.

  34. “… here he’s not just concerned, he’s invested.”

    Wow, that was inspired! I would never have thought to put it that way, but you hit the nail right on the head!

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