Wetwired 3×23: You’re the only one I trust.

Mulder for a day.

I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t we already see this episode and didn’t they call it “Blood” (2×3)?

Admittedly, the two episodes are similar in premise. Both are “Half-Caff”, pseudo mythology type episodes (Which, by the way, we haven’t had all Season 3. Believe it or not, there hasn’t been one since “Soft Light” (2×23) and I’ve missed sensing CSM’s shenanigans behind these technology and science driven conspiracies). Both involve technology based mind-control experiments secretly carried on by the U.S. government.

Or do they? In “Blood” the trigger was actually a pesticide, the result was that people saw messages in all sorts of mechanical devices that drove them to violence. “Wetwired” addresses the T.V./Violence correlation specifically and doesn’t bother dragging other modes of communication into the picture. By now I’m sure you can smell the irony; a television show prone to violent images is pondering whether images on television can lead to violence in real life. Talk about self-conscious.

But when you consider the source, the subject makes sense. This episode is written by Visual Effects Supervisor Mat Beck who presided over the show’s first 5 seasons as well as both movies. Is it any wonder he’s interested in the effect of the image on the American public? But most importantly, why didn’t he write more??

Believe it or not, I actually enjoy “Wetwired” more than all the world-class mythology episodes this season. (Shock!) There’s something meaty about it. We have the Lone Gunmen, X, CSM, mind control, a paranoid Scully, and some great emotional beats on the M&S front to boot. It’s so chock full of X-Files goodies that I find myself wondering why Chris Carter didn’t add Mat Beck to the writing staff.

But enough about background and concept and on to the episode itself. You would expect that if anyone on The X-Files would go psycho it would be Mulder. And in fact he’s done it before and under similar circumstances when CSM’s forces drugged him nearly into paranoid oblivion in “Anasazi” (2×25). Mulder also trashed his apartment looking for bugs in “E.B.E.” (1×16) the way Scully does here, but she does it with more flair, don’t you think? Mulder’s always so close to the edge of insanity as it is that it’s more fun to watch cool, calm and collected Scully lose her mind for a bit. It’s more satisfying. In particular, there’s a great moment when Gillian Anderson leans into the camera, wide-eyed and chomping on ice. Classic.

That’s all fun and games but the real meat is what Scully’s paranoid about. It makes sense that Scully’s deepest fear would be Mulder’s betrayal. She’s devoted her life to this man. She’s made her quest her own and has suffered in the process. It’s not like she’s the one looking for a “white whale.” She’s still here, working on the X-Files, because she believes in Mulder, not because she believes in little green men. What a nightmare it would become if she suddenly found it was all a lie. Mulder didn’t trust her. He didn’t depend on her. In fact, he was out to get her. It’s like that moment in “End Game” (2×17) when the Bounty Hunter morphs into Mulder and attacks Scully. It’s horrible because it shouldn’t be. Mulder should be the last person, save Maggie Scully, who would ever hurt her… er, purposefully anyway.


This is definitely one of my favorite episodes of Season 3. It might not be as inventive as some, but it has all the necessary ingredients of a good X-File and is always, always fun to watch.

Both Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny turn in some great emotional performances on this one. And it’s nice to have the mutual importance of Mulder and Scully’s relationship confirmed at the close of a season that features a lot of loss and tension in the partnership. The Shipper in me is satisfied.

But I especially love how it ends, with that short but memorable scene between X and CSM. Now we know that X is one of CSM’s hired guns and it’s him X has been undermining in order to feed Mulder information. How long can the apprentice work against his master without being found out? When X looks into CSM’s cold, dead eyes and lies I still get an ominous chill.



Even after the Lone Gunmen’s short and pithy explanation of the magic of television, we still never learn exactly how CSM & Co. are creating paranoia in the viewing public, just that something must be being transmitted through the signal. And for that matter, how far did this experiment reach? And for how long? They wouldn’t have stopped at a handful of murders.

Surely this episode calls for a follow-up with some exploration of X’s background. So what happened to it? Mulder confronts him on being too much of a coward to fight the power himself, CSM glares at him with thinly veiled suspicion… His character is just begging to be revealed at least a little.


He’s red-green colorblind. Finally, an explanation is given for the atrocity of Mulder’s ties.

Did I mention the teaser is awesome? ‘Cause the teaser is awesome.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: It’s just you, me and the drug dealers.
Plain-Clothed Man: Well, this area’s always been known for its criminal element.
Mulder: Especially when Congress is in session.


Mulder: I just watched 36 hours of Bernard Shaw and Bobbi Battista. I’m about ready to kill somebody too.


Mulder: All I know is television does not make a previously sane man go out and kill five people thinking they’re all the same guy. Not even ‘Must See TV’ could do that to you.


Mulder: What do you think, Scully?
Scully: I think television plays a large part in both of these murderers lives.
Mulder: As it does in almost every American home. But television does not equal violence. I don’t care what anybody says. Unless you consider bad taste an act of violence.


Scully: I was so sure, Mulder. I saw things and I heard things, and… it was just like world was turned upside down. Everybody was out to get me.
Mulder: Now you know how I feel most of the time.


Smoking Man: Have you completed your work?
Mr X: All the personnel and hardware has been removed. But Mulder still has one of the devices.
Smoking Man: That proves nothing. What about Mulder’s source?
Mr X: He’s been eliminated.
Smoking Man: And his source? Who’s he working with?
Mr X: That person remains unknown.

28 responses to “Wetwired 3×23: You’re the only one I trust.

  1. Great write up here, I totally agree with you 100% on this one, I think Wetwired is something of a masterpiece, the set pieces, Mark Snow’s music (it’s got a different style to it than usual), Scully’s paranoia and her eventual confrontation with him in Margaret Scully’s house, it’s a definite season three highlight.

  2. I don’t know why but the line I remember most from this episode is when Byers says, “His inability to perceive the color red could render him immune to the psychotropic effects.” I could say this sentence randomly everyday. It just tickles me…and it’s not supposed to be funny. Weird.

  3. I love what a nice compliment this episode makes to Pusher. Besides the obvious parallel of our beloved agents turning their weapons on each other, in each episode one of the agents loses themselves to an external influence. The resolution is derived from the strength of the partnership in both cases…

    What a great episode.

    A final point: the writers have always done a good job with allowing Mulder to voice the audience’s frustration with X. He’s so unhelpful, even when he’s TRYING to help Mulder that it gets absurd.

    • That’s so funny because I was just discussing the Season 3 Wrap Up with myself and we both decided that Pusher and Wetwired were vital to alleviating some of the Mulder and Scully tension that built up over the season. They’re confirmation that these two still have a once-in-a-lifetime bond.

      So true about X. I read that the writers reached the point where they felt they couldn’t do anything else with him. They either had to make him a bigger player or kill him. And well… spoilers.

  4. Do you know I had River Song’s voice in my head when reading that last sentence.

  5. Emily Michelle

    This one’s in my top 5. It’s interesting, it’s tense when Scully goes crazy, and the shipper in me squees pretty much the whole time. The part when Mulder gets the call that he needs to go identify what they think is Scully’s body is great, but the revelation that Scully’s greatest fear is being betrayed by Mulder is even better.

    Also, I think it’s really interesting that it’s Scully who suggests a connection between TV and the murders. It’s not a paranormal explanation, but it still surprised me a little to hear it come out of her mouth. And I think it’s funny that Mulder dismisses it so immediately. I personally felt that the idea had a conspiracy-theorist vibe that I thought would be right up his alley.

    • I would think that normally the roles would be reversed like you said. But then again, Mulder is the TV junkie out of the two. LOL

      Really, the psychologist in him should have jumped at that idea. Maybe Mat Beck was just having fun twisting their roles for once?

  6. this. espisode. is. awsome.
    The first time I saw it, I knew I would have to put it in my personal top 10.
    I think the scene in mrs Scully’s house tells more than than what may appear at first sight .”You’re the only one I trust”. Scully said it back in season one. But, Mulder? Sure he make that evident with his behaviour (well, not always)… but did he ever SAY it?

    There’s just one question that haunts me. Why they NEVER (never!) lock their cars? (morgue scene BTW…Mulder don’t ever have the bother of closing the window). Probably FBI agent actually never have their cars stolen…I should apply for the Bureau then.

    • It’s it though??? Class A underrated ep.

      Ah, but Mulder did indeed say it back in Little Green Men. “Before, I could only trust myself. But now, I can only trust you.” Or something along those lines. I suppose I could look it up. LOL!

      But I never caught on to the unlocked doors… hmm…

      • Ah, but Mulder did indeed say it back in Little Green Men. “Before, I could only trust myself. But now, I can only trust you.”
        Sure, you’re right [and I’m very embarassed…] I suppose I was looking for a reason to love this episode even more…
        anyway great review!

        • Psh! No worries! We have too much XF trivia to keep track of. :oD

          • This go-round of viewing, noticed that Mulder’s not that fond of seat belts. Scully, on the other hand, understands the wild ride she’s on, and usually buckles up. And she seems to be the more hot dogger behind the wheel, as my dad would put it 😉

  7. Psh, I honestly don’t know what to add to your superb review. I just like to write something, because it’s fun and because summer’s over and thus I have time for this again.

    I can say this: I love this episode. It’s well written, there’s a bit of conspiracy affecting most of the US population and Scully goes wacko. Nothing’s left to want.

  8. I can sum up my love for this episode in five words:

    Maggie Scully saves the day.

    It is a totally unexpected twist, but I love it. After all of the secrets we have learned that Mulder’s parents have been hiding from him, it is refreshing to learn once and for all, at least, that at least one of their parents is good and true to her core, and it’s Mrs. Scully’s maternal instincts that save both their lives.

    It’s neck and neck between this and the ultra-bleak “Demons” for the best “Half-Caf” (to borrow your term) episode of the whole series.

    • You’re right. This episode and Demons are the best in that Not-Quite-An-X-File genre of episodes. I actually feel the urge to pause my rewatch and rewatch this.

  9. Pingback: Season 3, Episode 23 – Wetwired | The X-Files Truth Podcast

  10. I was twelve years old when this episode first aired, and I had actually been too scared to watch The X-Files. Remember when the tag-line was “Don’t watch it alone”? For me it meant “Don’t watch it at all!” But somehow I wound up watching this one, and I was instantly hooked. A Shipper was born. From then on I watched it faithfully each, at least up until the seventh season. After Mulder left, it just wasn’t the same.

  11. Pingback: Roadrunners 8×5: You’re going to be so loved. | Musings of an X-Phile

  12. Pingback: 20 X-Files Episodes That Should Be on Your Top 10 List, but Probably Aren’t. | Musings of an X-Phile

  13. It was so interesting seeing Scully descend into paranoia, as she is usually the one to keep a cool head.

  14. How much does the actual programming have to do with things? The first guy was actually convinced that he was killing the Serbian general/dictator/whatever, but the woman and Scully seem to have more personal anxieties. All I know is that it cracked me up a bit that apparently Pat Buchanan was sending Scully over the edge.

    Does the TV-mania predate the indoctrination? Or does the tape-archive-making result from the signals?

    The Mulder-Scully revesal worked a lot better than usual here, I thought, because Mulder stays in character, unlike in, say, “Beyond the Sea”.

  15. Like everyone else, I love this episode, even if it does beg the question how someone who is red-green colour blind got into the FBI lol.

    One of the things I love most in this episode is Margaret Scully. I think this is when I really loved her character. I always think to myself, ‘Hey, Tina, this is how to be a Mum!’

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