Scully tries to take a weekend vacation to Maine but ends up investigating a strange case in which a seemingly murderous doll has apparently caused several victims to inflict wounds upon themselves.
In Amma Beach, Maine, five-year-old Polly Turner accompanies her mother, Melissa Turner, to the grocery market. Polly sits in the child-carrier seat of a shopping cart, clutching a doll, Chinga. As Melissa strolls the aisles, she attracts the attention of Dave the Butcher. Polly notices Dave, and tells her mother she doesn't like the store. Melissa responds by quickly pushing the cart into another area of the market.
As Melissa strolls down the frozen food section, she comes upon the image of Dave, reflected in the glass of a cabinet, a knife protruding from one eye. A horrified Melissa tells Polly they are going home. But as Melissa makes her way towards the store's exit, customers begin clawing at their eyes. Back in the butcher section, Dave's attention is diverted by the shape of a large Chinga doll, as reflected in a metal door. Dave grabs a knife from his belt... but suddenly turns it on himself.
Vacationing in Maine, Scully turns her rental car into the grocery market parking lot. An Old Man exits the store and tells Scully that a doctor is needed. Inside the store, Scully sees Dave with a knife protruding from his eye. She telephones Mulder and describes the bizarre situation. Mulder tells his partner the event might be the result of witchcraft or sorcery. Scully, however, can find no physical evidence that might support this theory.
Assisted by Police Chief Jack Bonsaint, and his deputy, Buddy Riggs, Scully reviews security camera footage of the event. She notices Melissa Turner rushing towards the exit, the only customer unaffected. Bonsaint tells Scully that some townspeople believe Melissa is a witch. Buddy Riggs telephones Melissa with news that Bonsaint will be questioning her about the occurrence at the super market. Riggs promises to help Melissa, but she warns him to stay away. In the background, unseen by Melissa, looms the shadow of the large Chinga doll.
Bonsaint and Scully visit Melissa's home, but find it unoccupied. Bonsaint tells Scully that Melissa had married a fisherman, but was widowed when the husband was killed in a boating accident. Bonsaint explains that there had been an incident between Polly and the proprietor of a daycare center, Jane Froelich. It seems that Jane slapped Polly when she became uncontrollable. Shortly thereafter, Jane claims she was thrown to the ground. Bonsaint, however, believes the little girl never touched Jane. Bonsaint then tells Scully that Dave the Butcher's interest in Melissa was unrequited.
Riggs meets Melissa and Polly at an ice cream shop. Melissa describes how she has seen images of violent deaths, such as Dave's, before they occur. Riggs give Melissa the key to a remote cabin and suggests she leave town. Meanwhile, Polly grows upset when a girl clerk does not meet her demand for more cherries. Shortly thereafter, the clerk's pony tail gets caught in an ice cream machine. Riggs jumps the counter and rescues the girl.
Scully and Bonsaint pay Jane Froelich a visit. Froelich claims Melissa is the descendant of witches—and she is passing her cursed lineage to Polly. Later, while speaking with an official at a ranger station (near Riggs' remote camp), Melissa experiences another vision, this time seeing Froelich's bloody image reflected in the rear window of the car. Melissa turns the car around and heads back home. Meanwhile, Froelich hears the song "Hokey Pokey" emanating from the day care center.
She makes her way through the darkness... and comes upon the big Chinga doll. She picks up a piece of broken phonograph record, but instead of using it as a defensive weapon, turns it upon herself. Later, Melissa experiences another vision... this time seeing Riggs' corpse. Riggs finds Melissa at home, and convinced she had something to do with Froelich's murder, insists she accompany him to the police station. Later, Riggs' body lies on the kitchen floor, his nightstick covered with blood.
Scully recognizes the Old Man from the supermarket aboard the boat where Melissa's husband was killed. The Old Man tells Scully the story of how Rich Turner came upon the Chinga doll while checking lobster traps. Rich intended to give the doll to his daughter, but several days later the Old Man found Rich's body, a grappling hook through his skull.
Melissa begins nailing shut every door and window in the house. Polly tells her mother she cannot sleep, and Melissa promises the noise will stop. Moments later, Melissa sees a bloodied reflection of herself in a window, a hammer buried in her skull.
Scully and Bonsaint drive to the Turner home. Scully, peering through the windows, discovers Melissa attempting to set fire to the house, with her, her daughter and the doll trapped inside. Polly comes downstairs and sees her mother desperately trying to light matches, but the doll tells her 'Don't play with matches' and all the matches Melissa lights flicker out moments after lighting. Melissa tries to get a kitchen knife, but the doll stops her from taking one either. Bonsaint breaks down the door as Melissa runs to a closet and grabs hold of a hammer—which she turns upon herself. Thinking quickly, Scully grabs the Chinga doll and throws it inside a microwave oven in the kitchen. As the doll melts, Melissa drops the hammer and regains her senses.
Later, another lobster fisherman pulls a trap from the water... and discovers the burned Chinga doll inside. The doll's eyes opened as the fisherman picked it up saying, "I want to play."
A telephone conversation
Mulder: It sounds to me like that's witchcraft or some sorcery that you're looking for there.
Scully: I don't think it's witchcraft or sorcery. I've had a look around and I don't see any evidence of anything that warrants that kind of suspicion.
Mulder: Well, maybe you don't know what you're looking for.
Scully: Like evidence of conjuring or the black arts or shamanism, divination, wicca or any kind of pagan or neo-pagan practice. Charms, cards, familiars, bloodstones or hex signs or any of the ritual tableau associated with the occult. Santeria, Voudun, Macumba or any high or low magic.
Mulder: Marry me.
- This episode was co-written by renowned American author Stephen King, who is best known for his extremely popular horror novels.
- Co-writers Chris Carter and Stephen King did not meet during the writing of this episode.
- Stephen King submitted several drafts of this episode's script, although the interaction between Mulder and Scully was considered to be slightly out of character in each revision. Consequently, The X-Files creator Chris Carter delivered the final draft of the script, as he was more familiar with the characters of Mulder and Scully than Stephen King was.
- Aside from being the title of this episode, "Chinga" is also the name of the evil doll featured in the episode and an offensive Spanish slang term. It is used in the latter context in The X-Files novel Whirlwind. Stephen King was unaware of the word's usage in the Spanish language at the time he wrote this episode, although Chris Carter later realised the word's significance and the episode's title was consequently changed to "Bunghoney" when it aired outside America.
- The coastal town of Ammas, Maine, where this episode is set, is a typical setting for a story by Stephen King, who was born there and uses the state as the principal setting for almost all of his novels.
- This episode features the first instance of Mulder tossing pencils into the ceiling tiles out of boredom, something that became a recurring joke in the series.
- This episode reveals where Mulder found the "I Want to Believe" poster – at "some head shop on M Street, five years earlier," according to Mulder.
- The book on Scully's night-stand in her motel room is titled, "Affirmation For Women Who Do Too Much" by Arianna Carrillo. The cover of this book appears to depict a witch in a forest beneath a full moon. There appears to be no such book or author and presumably the book is an in-joke meant to poke fun at Scully's work ethic and her inability to simply enjoy her vacation. Also, it is noteworthy that the cover of this book appears to depict a witch in a forest beneath a full moon, a sly reference to the storyline.
- Stephen King first expressed interest when he was on an episode of Jeopardy! with David Duchovny. He told Duchovny that he loved the show and he'd like to write an episode.
- The old fisherman who used to work with Rich Turner was played by Henry Beckman, who previously portrayed Frank Briggs in the first season episodes "Squeeze" and "Tooms".
- The phone conversation is a reversal of the season 3 episode "War of the Coprophages". This time Scully is on the case and is consulting Mulder for his opinion.
- Even though Mulder tells Scully he was watching "The World's Deadliest Swarms", the cassette holder says "Alien Probe" and closed captioning reads "man and woman panting, moaning over TV". However, when he turns off the television, a brief glimpse of the screen is shown, and it does actually appear to be World's Deadliest Swarms.
- The Hokey Pokey that plays throughout the episode is performed by Jo Ann Greer & The Skyliners.
- The classical music selection playing as Scully drives into town and when she is taking a bath is Hummel's Piano Concerto No.3, Opus 89.
- The name of the boat in this episode is "Working Girl", a reference to the movie of the same name in which David Duchovny had a small part.
- You mean like Chucky? "Chucky" is the name of the Good Guy doll possessed by killer Charles Lee Ray in the 1988 horror movie Child's Play and it's sequels.
- Larry Musser, who plays Jack Bonsaint, has starred in a few previous X-Files episodes, most notably as Detective Manners in the episode Jose Chung's From Outer Space. Another actor in this episode is Henry Beckman, who played Frank Briggs in the episodes Squeeze and Tooms.
- It's clearly the middle of summer throughout the episode, but when Melissa Turner heads north to run away, a park ranger warns her that winter is "in full force up there," and there's snow on the ground. No mountain is that tall in Maine where there would be snow in the middle of summer.
- In the first scene after the opening credits, Scully pulls into a gas station in a convertible with its top down, despite the fact that it clearly had just rained. There are storm clouds in the sky and the street and pavement are soaked. Scully even tells Mulder on the telephone that "The weather is clear." The horizon, however, is clearing up, giving her reason to put the top down.
- The map of Kentucky that is in Mulder's office is upside down.
- Why would Scully destroy the doll using fire when she knew the kitchen floor was drenched in gasoline?
- Why did Scully pump her own gas? It was a 'We Serve' station and she drove over a bell cable as she came in.
Cast and Characters
- Larry Musser (Captain Jack Bonsaint) previously played Sheriff John Oakes in The X-Files episode "Die Hand Die Verletzt", Detective Manners in "José Chung's From Outer Space", Warden in the Millennium episode "The Thin White Line" and Denny Markham in "Unrequited".
- William MacDonald (Deputy Buddy Riggs) previously played Dr. Oppenheim in The X-Files episode "Fallen Angel", Federal Marshal in "The Host", Special Agent Dan Kazanjian in "2Shy", Officer Trott in "Unruhe" and Agent Nolan in the Millennium episode "522666".
- Henry Beckman (Fisherman) previously played Detective Frank Briggs in The X-Files episode "Squeeze" and "Tooms".
- Carolyn Tweedle (Jane Frölich) previously played Lauren's Mother in the Millennium episode "Force Majeure" and Mrs. Willingham in "Beware of the Dog".
- Gordon Tipple (Assistant Manager) previously played Detective in The X-Files episode "Eve", Joe Crandall in "Young at Heart" and Hepcat Helm in "Humbug".
- Harrison Coe (Dave the Butcher) previously played Government Man #2 in The X-Files episode "Apocrypha", Isaac Luria in "Kaddish" and S.F. Officer in the Millennium episode "The Mikado".
- Susannah Hoffman as Melissa Turner
- Larry Musser as Captain Jack Bonsaint
- William MacDonald as Deputy Buddy Riggs
- Jenny-Lynn Hutcheson as Polly Turner
- Henry Beckman as Fisherman
- Carolyn Tweedle as Jane Frölich