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Born Again

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Born Again
Series: The X-Files
Original Airdate: April 29, 1994
Production Number: 1x21
Date(s): Case closed April 19, 1994
Written by: Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa
Directed by: Jerrold Freedman
Episode chronology




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"Born Again" is the twenty-second episode of the first season of The X-Files.


The agents investigate an eight-year-old girl who is associated with the killings of two policemen that Mulder suspects murdered her past reincarnation, police officer Charlie Morris.


When New York Detective Barbala is thrown through a second story window to his death, the only person in the room is an eight year old girl, Michelle Bishop. She claims to have seen another man in the room, the description she gives matches Charlie Morris, a policeman who was murdered by Triads nine years before. Judy Bishop, Michelle's mother tells them that Michelle is disturbed and under psychiatric care. Mulder and Scully question Tony Fiore, Charlie Morris' former partner, he is not very helpful and acts nervous. When Mulder and Scully leave he telephones a former policeman Len Felder and tells him about the FBI agents' visit. Fiore, Felder and Barbala were involved in Charlie Morris' death and the cover-up that followed. Later that night as Len Felder gets off a bus, the door closes trapping his scarf and he is dragged to his death. Sitting on the bus a few seats back is Michelle. Mulder and Scully find it more than a coincidence that Michelle was witness at two deaths in as many days. As they investigate they discover that Barbala, Felder, Fiore and Charlie Morris were involved in a drug deal shortly before Charlie Morris was murdered. Mulder also interviews Michelle's psychiatrist and discovers that Michelle mutilates dolls with the exact wounds that Charlie Morris had when he died. Mulder believes that Michelle is the reincarnation of Charlie Morris and holds the key to the solution not only of the current case but also a nine year old murder case.

Campbell and John Richter We are not who we are!

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Background InformationEdit

Story and ScriptEdit

  • Laughing, Howard Gordon revealed "desperation" resulted in Mulder writing the report which concludes this episode. Gordon went on to say, "We had written a scene that was the old wrap-up scene, with the mother looking fondly at her daughter who's now cured of her possession, and we said, 'This is really hokey. This is awful.'" The inclusion of Mulder's journal entry allowed Gordon and Gansa to follow their instinct of understating the paranormal, drily presenting the information. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 57)
  • This episode's script went through six drafts, all of which were submitted in March 1994. One draft was submitted on both 14th and 17th of that month, before two drafts were submitted on 21st, then a single draft on both 22nd and 24th.

Cast and CharactersEdit

  • Mulder actor David Duchovny and the actress who played Detective Sharon Lazard, Maggie Wheeler, previously appeared together in the 1989 film New Year's Day (as well as having been romantically linked). Duchovny reportedly "detested" this installment. (The X-Files Declassified, p. 100)


Born Again shooting schedule

The cover of this episode's shooting schedule.

  • Director Jerrold Freedman had fun with the production of this outing. "For episodic television, we had very impressive production values," he mused. "We did some very long steadicam tracking shots and a few other things [....] I found working on 'Born Again' to be an enjoyable experience." (TV Zone issue 81, p. 37)
  • Due to the swiftness with which Andre Libman was able to get into character as Michelle Bishop, each of her scenes was shot in only one take. (TV Zone, issue 81, p. 37)
  • The strongest memory R.W. Goodwin retained from working on this episode was the shooting of its teaser. To film the exterior view of a policeman being propelled through a window in a room which had a pair of side-by-side windows, one of the two windows was made to break easily. "We took out the glass from one of them and put in what we call candy glass," explained Goodwin. "And we used this cannon that blasted the debris out the candy-glass window. We had three or four cameras shooting the thing. They call 'Action', the window blows out, and we realize that the force of the concussion from this cannon has also knocked a hole about three feet across and a foot high in the real window next to our phony window." Key Grip Al Campbell responded to this mistake by making a suggestion. Goodwin continued, "[He] says 'I have a perfect solution for this. When the woman goes to the window, and looks down to see the dead guy, just pan over and next to him will be his dead dog.'" (X-Files Confidential, pp. 74-75)


  • This episode features the first time that Mulder narrates the story; instead of seeing Scully typing computer reports and hearing her voice-over wrap-up, the audience sees Mulder writing longhand in a field journal and hears his summation of the plot at the episode's conclusion.
  • A line of dialogue spoken by Mulder in this episode – pertaining to the case of a man who "could influence undeveloped film" and "create shapes on the negative from his mind" – foreshadows the fourth season outing "Unruhe", as well as the characters Ted Serios and Gerry Schnauz therein.


  • Howard Gordon was also dissatisfied with the final version of this installment, believing it to be "a little too cop show-y" for his liking. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 151) He cited this as his second least favorite episode of the first season, calling it "just mundane." Moments later, Gordon added, "There were parts of it that I think were interesting, but I don't think it was very well executed on any front. It was a pretty classic back-from-the-dead revenge tale, and not done particularly interestingly." However, Gordon described Mulder's narration herein as "interesting" and remarked, "I think that if the episode has anything that recommends it, it's the first time we've heard Mulder's voice talking to the audience. And I think that was actually successful. I liked that wrap-up." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 57)
  • Chris Carter similarly felt this episode was largely dissatisfying though not without some merit. "One of our least successful episodes," he complained. "I thought the direction was a little sloppy, but it's one of those episodes that plays a little closer to reality and I like that about it. There's a nice twist in it about a man marrying the wife of another man he had killed. There were actually some nice effects. Just not one of my favorites." (X-Files Confidential, p. 74)
  • This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 8.2, with an audience share of 14. This means that roughly 8.2 percent of all television-equipped households, and 14 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 7.7 million households. These were the third highest viewing figures in The X-Files' first season. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248)
  • Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 57) scores this episode 1 and a half out of 4 stars. The magazine proceeds by stating, "'Born Again' is minor X-Files [....] The villains–corrupt police officers–are possibly the most boring ever on The X-Files and all their scenes are interminable. But even a bad X-Files has its moments; here they are a scene between Mulder and the girl's psychologist, and a sequence where Mulder desperately urges regression hypnosis on the distraught child and Scully chews him out for his obsessive blindness. The scene where an aquarium bursts is very well executed, but in service of a story that fails to ignite." Cinefantastique additionally characterizes this episode as not "great."
  • In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman rated this installment 2 and a half out of 5 stars. Shearman criticized this episode as seeming "more generic" but actually "better" than "Roland" and "much more mundane" than "Eve". He went on to remark, "Part of the difficulty is that this wants to be both a telekinesis episode [...] and also a reincarnation episode. Either one of the starting points would have been interesting; to link the two so spuriously makes them both feel a bit woolly, and still doesn't really provide enough meat for forty-five minutes of television [....] What's surprising is how enjoyable this is, never mind how predictable. The set pieces are nicely done [....] And there's a strange quirkiness to the imagery of the episode [...] which make a very ordinary story seem just a little bit extraordinary after all. The characterisation of Mulder and Scully is a little off, perhaps, but it's interesting to see Mulder genuinely rail against Scully for her scepticism. Beyond showing a frustration that may well by now have been shared by a sizeable chunk of the audience, it also suggests the growing tension now that the future of the X-Files feels under threat. Scully gives as good as she gets, though." Shearman also praised Andre Libman's performance as Michelle Bishop, calling it "terrific."

Cultural ReferencesEdit

  • In this episode's teaser, Detective Lazard jokingly tells Detective Barbala he is "a regular Mr. Green Jeans" with children. Lazard is referring to a character from the long-running children's television series Captain Kangaroo, in which Mr. Green Jeans was the sidekick of the series' title character.
  • When Mulder first informs Scully he suspects Michelle Bishop is a reincarnation of Charlie Morris, Scully makes fun of the postulation by asking Mulder if he believes that, "like Peter Proud," Morris has returned from death to avenge his own murder. This is a reference to the movie The Reincarnation of Peter Proud.


  • There is a major medical mistake in this episode. Scully deduces that Morris was drowned in seawater because he had bradycardia (low heart rate) brought on by a sudden increase in sodium levels. While an increase in sodium can cause bradycardia, it is by no means the only thing that can do it. However, the more glaring mistake here is that bradycardia cannot be tested for post-mortem, as it is generally quite difficult to take a dead person's pulse.
  • Although the dialogue in this episode makes multiple references to the Chinatown section of Buffalo, the real Buffalo doesn't have a Chinatown. Likewise, there is no Kenwood located near Buffalo, though the similarly named Kenmore is a Buffalo suburb.


Main Cast

Guest Starring



Buffalo; New York; Precinct 14; Precinct 27; reincarnation; psychokinesis; aquarium

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