|Original Airdate:||October 29, 1993|
|Date(s):||October 24, 1993|
|Written by:||Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon|
|Directed by:||Jerrold Freedman|
The agents must survive in a building that is controlled by a murderous computer.
In the Virginia headquarters of the software company Eurisko, an argument between company founder Brad Wilczek and CEO Benjamin Drake ensues. Wilczek tells Drake that his recent, unspecified decisions are "killing my company" and angrily leaves. Later on, Drake writes a memo in which he proposes to end the "C.O.S. project," citing a "disastrous performance" and projected quarterly losses.
Seeing this, the C.O.S. (Central Operating System), which is a computer that runs the entire building, sets up an elaborate booby trap, luring Drake into a bathroom with an overflowing faucet. While distracting Drake with a 9-1-1 phone call, the door to the bathroom shuts.
Seeing that the door can't be opened either by hand or with a key card, Drake resorts to using an electronic key instead. However, when he put the key into the keyhole, a massive electric current sends him flying across the room, killing him.
The C.O.S. machine's lights were still running after the horrific event and eventually shuts downs.
Fox Mulder's former partner in the Violent Crimes Section, Jerry Lamana recruits him and Dana Scully to investigate the case. Lamana hopes to recover his career with success on this case due to Drake's connections with the Attorney General. On their way to the Eurisko building, Mulder explains to Scully that the reason for Agent Lamana's apparent need for recognition is because of a case he bungled in Atlanta, Georgia, which resulted in the near-death of a federal judge.
Mulder and Scully enter the Eurisko building, under the studious eyes of the security cameras, operated by the C.O.S. As they ride the elevator up to Drake's office, the elevator stalls, causing Scully to call the front desk for help. As she does so, the elevator starts again. It turns out that the C.O.S. made the machine stall, and then downloaded Scully's contact information when she identified herself. The agents meet Claude Peterson, head of building security, who discovered the body.
Lamana steals Mulder's notes on the profile of the killer and presents them under his name. Mulder confronts him about this. The agents later meet and question Wilczek. Scully initially doubts Wilczek's involvement in his death, but when his voice is discovered to be that which was on the 9-1-1 phone call, Lamana heads out to arrest him. At his home, Wilczek tries to access the C.O.S. from his personal computer, but all of his attempts to enter the system are denied.
Worried and frustrated, Wilczek gets in his car and begins driving to the Eurisko building and is followed by Lamana. Upon making it to the building, Wilczek makes his way to the C.O.S.'s control room, where his efforts to gain access are still denied. To his surprise, the C.O.S. talks to him, despite never being given a voice synthesizer. Lamana makes it to the building and gets on the elevator in order to arrest Wilczek. The C.O.S. stalls the elevator, then causes it to crash, killing Lamana.
Mulder meets with Deep Throat, who tells him that Wilczek developed a full fledged artificial intelligence capable of adaptive learning and that the Defense Department is investigating. Mulder meets with the jailed Wilczek who has confessed to Lamana's and Drake's murder despite the C.O.S. being responsible. Wilczek is convinced it would be better to allow his creation to run rampant than to hand over the technology to the government, who he is convinced will use it for ill intentions.
Wilczek draws a parallel to the scientific research that ultimately lead to the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and believes his creation could be abused to a similar magnitude. Mulder convinces Wilczek to develop a virus that can destroy the C.O.S., which Mulder then takes to Eurisko to insert into the system.
When Scully discovers her home computer being remotely accessed she traces the intrusion to the Eurisko building, where she joins Mulder and they head into the building. While walking up the stairs, the C.O.S. turns the lights off on the two agents. Scully then attempts to open the door, but is stopped by Mulder. Startled, Scully asks him why he did that. He then explains that he doesn't want what happened to Drake to happen to them. Scully watches intently as Mulder puts a metal object into the door and then a massive surge of electricity sparked, which caused Scully to jump back and scream, and showing no effect of having the door be opened. Afterwords, the two agents discover that the door has been sealed with no way to open it on their side.
With the power out and access to the C.O.S. prohibited, Mulder boosts Scully into the air vent to try and open the door from the other side. She then begins to crawl on her hands and knees through the tunnel. She takes a left and begins going down a major shaft. She looks into the side tunnels with a flashlight, looking for a way out, but she was having no luck.
Soon, the C.O.S. discovers her, and figures out what she is trying to do. It is at this point that the C.O.S. decides to halt her interference, and chooses to kill her. The C.O.S. had turned on the fan within the ventilation shaft with Scully inside. Scully begins to struggle to keep moving and is nearly blown back, but she manages to catch herself on another shaft until she loses her grip, and is sucked backwards screaming.
Scully desperately attempts to stop, but she is helplessly dragged further and further into the vent, until she gets near the end. Waiting for her is a giant fan that is sucking up the debris, and she figures out the she is also about to be sucked in and killed. Scully's screams become more wild as she is helpless and is quickly within a foot of being pulled in a running fan, but she manages to save herself by gripping an opening. Scully barely maintains her grip, and soon her flashlight is ripped from her hands, and is torn to bits by the fan. Scully moans as she realizes that is about to happen to her.
Despite her efforts, her grip began to slip and Scully knew that she was about to be killed. Frightened and desperate, she manages pulls out her firearm from her jacket. She aims and begins to fire at the fan in a desperate attempt to save herself. Eventually Scully manages to sever the power and escape the ventilation.
Meanwhile, Mulder is permitted access to the C.O.S. by Peterson, who is revealed to be a government agent of some sort once Mulder successfully bypasses the C.O.S. lockouts using a device presumably provided by Wilczek. Peterson pulls a gun on Mulder and stops Mulder from inserting Wilczek's virus into the C.O.S. With free access finally available thanks to Mulder's efforts, Peterson clearly intends to seize the technology for whichever government branch he works for.
A windbattered, bruised, and disheveled Scully, who is clearly shaken from her ordeal, however arrives and the tables are turned as she holds Peterson at gunpoint and forces him to drop his weapon. Both Peterson and Mulder make pleas to Scully, Scully ultimately sides with Mulder leaving Peterson no choice but to allow Mulder to use the virus and destroy the C.O.S.
During a second meeting with Deep Throat, Mulder recounts that Wilczek is being detained by the government and that no information is available on where he is being held. When Mulder asks Deep Throat if there is any chance the C.O.S. survived, Deep Throat assures him that Wilczek's virus was thorough and that no trace of the C.O.S.'s artificial intelligence was left. He also tells Mulder that scientists with the Defense Department have been examining the machine for any signs of "life" for the previous five days with no success. He believes the machine to be dead.
At the Eurisko building Peterson directs a team trying to recover the C.O.S. technology, but is directed over the phone by his superiors that the machine will be reduced to the scrap heap if results are not found in six hours. Unbeknownst to Peterson and his staff, the C.O.S. powers back on shortly after Peterson announces their six hour time limit. The episode closes with a shot done from the point of view of the C.O.S. video feed capturing footage of Peterson muttering to himself about finding something left of the C.O.S. "even if it kills me."
- This is the second episode in which Jerry Hardin appears as Deep Throat. This fact is significant, as the writers had originally intended for Hardin to appear only in the episode, "Deep Throat".
- In this episode, Scully's phone number is given as (202) 555-6431. 555 is the standard prefix used in movies and television series, as it is not used by the phone company and therefore helps to prevent people from receiving hoax calls.
- The original script features more action in an elevator shaft than the final episode does. At the last moment, the sequence was deemed too expensive and was subsequently replaced by the scenes where Scully is pulled toward the blades of a huge fan. According to producer Howard Gordon, who wrote the episode with partner Alex Gansa, the rotating fan blades "looked good, and it was a hell of a lot cheaper".
- In a successful attempt to stop the spinning fan blades in this episode, Scully uses her gun for the first time in the series.
- Writer Howard Gordon once called this episode "one of my biggest disappointments", feeling that the artificially intelligent computer was less well-defined than its predecessors in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Demon Seed. According to Gordon, "Fox felt it was a bit too pedestrian to be an X-file, and it was one of those instances where I'd have to agree with them".
- The film crew can be seen, quite clearly, in the reflection of Brad Wilczek's computer screen before he turns it on to demonstrate something to Mulder & Scully.
- Jerry Hardin as Deep Throat
- Rob LaBelle as Brad Wilczek
- Wayne Duvall as Agent Jerry Lamana
- Blu Mankuma as Claude Peterson
- Tom Butler as Drake
- Gillian Barber as Agent Jane Spiller
- Marc Baur as Man in Suit
- Bill Finck as Sandwich Man
- Theodore Thomas as Clyde
SEMICOLON-SEPARATED LIST OF ITEMS/LOCATIONS REFERENCED IN EPISODE (BUT NOT LINKED TO IF ALREADY LINKED IN SUMMARY OR GUEST STARS SECTIONS)