Mulder finds himself forced to drive a man in a high-speed dash across the Southwest in an effort to prevent the man's head from exploding.
SummaryVia a live news report, a high-speed car chase comes to an end in the Nevada desert. Assuming it to be a kidnapping, the female passenger is pulled from the vehicle and placed into the protective custody of a police vehicle. The driver, Patrick Crump, is pushed to the asphalt and handcuffed. The woman in the police car begins violently banging her head against the car window. As the news chopper catches all of this on film, the woman's head explodes, sending a spray of blood across the window.
The agents get wind of this bizarre car chase as they're doing scut work in Idaho. Mulder coerces Scully into taking a detour by Elko, Nevada on a hunch that this may be an X-File. Once there, however, Mulder manages to get himself kidnapped by Crump, who has escaped from the police.
Mulder realizes that Crump is in a considerable amount of pain and that the only way to ease the pain is to drive west. Scully investigates the Crumps home and discovers that an antenna array emitting ELF waves stretches beneath their property. She deduces that an abnormal surge in these waves somehow caused a rising pressure in the inner ear of the nearby inhabitants. Westward motion seems to be the only thing to help the ease the pain of the increasing pressure.Mulder explains to Crump that Scully will meet them at the end of the highway. There she will insert a needle into Crump's inner ear, hopefully relieving the pressure. But when Mulder arrives, it is too late. Crump has already died.
- This is the second episode to hint that Mulder is Jewish, albeit non observant.
- Writer (and executive producer) Vince Gilligan went on to create and executive produce his own television show, the highly acclaimed AMC drama series Breaking Bad. The star of the series is Bryan Cranston, who plays Patrick Crump in this episode.
- When Mulder and Scully come to a suspect's door, he asks if they are Jehovah's Witnesses to which Mulder responds that he has a copy of the 'Watchtower' for him. The 'Watchtower' is a semimonthly journal of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is usually placed along with the 'Awake'- another religious magazine.
- Many of Scully's actions at various times are inconsistent with her training both as a criminal investigator and a medical doctor. For example, she can often be seen handling potentially contaminated items, and even performing autopsies, without adequate protection. As if she hadn't learned from season 2's 'F. Emasculata', Scully should know not to go poking around in Mrs. Crump's ear without eye or mouth protection; especially when the cause of death is unknown.
- The ELF communications system, Project Seafarer, was not simply invented for this episode. It actually did exist, although not in Nevada. The two antennas were located at Clam Lake, Wisconsin and Gwinn, Michigan. Seafarer was the subject of many protests about the environmental impact of ELF waves. In 1984 a federal judge halted construction and operation of both sites pending further environmental testing, but this ruling was overturned by an appeals court. The US Navy spent $25 million studying the environmental impact and came to the conclusion that any effects were similar to those produced by power distribution cables. Needless to say, many people refused to accept these findings, claiming a government and military cover-up and leaving the whole subject perfect for use as an X-Files story. During the late 1990s, Project Seafarer was increasingly seen to be obsolete as improvements in communications technology rendered the use of ELF waves unnecessary. Seafarer was discontinued and dismantled in September 2004.
- Seafarer was preceded in 1968 by Project Sanguine, which proposed to use buried transmission lines spread over 22,500 square miles. Sanguine was nearly abandoned in the 1970s, but was revived as Seafarer by the Reagan administration.
- The opening footage is done in the style of a news report.
- Writer Vince Gilligan is a huge fan of Junior Brown, a country music singer/songwriter/steel guitar player. Gilligan put up his own money to fly Brown in from Oklahoma so he could play the part of farmer Virgil Nokes in this episode.
- In the shot where Crump throws Mulder's cell phone out of the car, the actor actually threw a real cell phone out of the window.
- The American Society of Cinematographers called "Drive" the best-filmed hour of episodic television of the season. Director of Photography Bill Roe received the award.
- The X-Files casting director Rick Millikan called in Bryan Cranston for an entirely different role. Due to some miscommunication, Cranston was under the impression that he was going to read for the part of Patrick Crump. He even grew a beard and a moustache. He nailed the role so perfectly that Millikan had no choice but to cast Cranston as Crump.
- In yet another reference to writer Vince Gilligan's girlfriend Holly Rice, the gas station where Mulder steals the station wagon is named "Holly's".
- Crump? Is this what happened to your wife? This same thing? If you stop moving, you die? I think I saw this movie. This is quite obviously a reference to the film Speed starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper, in which a bus is wired with a bomb that would detonate if its speed dropped below 50 mph.
- The car is a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda.
- The light during Mrs. Crump's autopsy is not near adequate. Scully wouldn't be able to see much of the head wound, and certainly not if there was any gunshot residue.
- 8:15 Scully turns the page in Crump's arrest report, both pages are exactly the same.
- If the so-called ELF waves destroyed the inner ear, then it should destroy BOTH ears, but we see in the episode that only one side exploded.
- Watch the odometer in Mulder's car. When we first get a shot of it the counter is at about 2092, then when he runs out of gas it is at 2043.
- 22:53 Right before Scully and the scientists encounter the Crump's dog, a member of the production staff (likely the dog's handler) is clearly visible, and runs to the right in an attempt to get out of the shot.
Cast and Characters
- Michael O'Neill (Patrol Captain Van Gelder) previously played County Prosecutor Calvin Smith in the Millennium episode "Covenant".
- Bryan Cranston as Patrick Garland Crump
- Michael O'Neill as Patrol Captain Van Gelder
- James Pickens, Jr. as Assistant Director Alvin Kersh
- Harry Danner as CDC Doctor
- Junior Brown as Virgil Nokes
- Linda Porter as Elderly Woman
- Mindy Seeger as Coroner
- Scott Smith as Prison Doctor
- Tim Agee as EMT
- Mark Craig as Trooper Velasco
- Wiley Pickett as Second Trooper
- Tegan West as Navy Lieutenant Breil
- Ken Collins as Gas Station Attendant
- Tom Haile as Walter Duncan