After a boy who disappeared ten years ago suddenly returns without explanation, the case echoes back to certain incidents in Doggett's past but he and Scully discover that the boy hasn't aged a day.
In Dexter, Oklahoma, 1990, Billy Underwood swings at his elementary school. The elementary school is hosting a fair and people are everywhere with Billy Underwood in the midst of it all calling for his pregnant mother, Lisa Underwood. She is busy talking with another woman and then Billy disappears right off the swing, leaving only his backpack. Ronald Purnell quietly slips back into the shadows.
Ten years later, 2000, Lisa Underwood arrives at the elementary after receiving a phone call from the principal. Her younger son, Josh Underwood, and the administrators lead her to the swing set where Billy Underwood is, the same age as he was when he vanished a decade earlier.
Scully and Doggett arrive at the police station to see Billy. Scully finds that the child seems to be a perfectly healthy seven-year old though he should be seventeen. Before Billy’s parents can take him home, Doggett interviews the boy. Billy is absolutely mute after being returned. To try and force the boy to tell him the name of his kidnapper, Doggett keeps his backpack from him which infuriates his mother and leads Scully to question Doggett’s expertise in child abduction cases.
Billy returns home with his parents. His brother and father clearly don’t like Billy and the dog seems to sense something is not right about him. The mother is blind to any problems of her returned son.
Scully suggests that the boy is an alien abductee to explain his being “perfectly identical” to his 1990 self. Doggett dismisses it, not coming up with a credible alternative answer, but instead focusing on the details of the case. He believes Ronald Purnell may have been involved and Scully is somewhat shocked that Doggett broke sealed juvenile records on Purnell.
While the Underwoods argue about returned Billy Underwood, Billy goes into his brother’s room with a knife.
Doggett questions Ronald Purnell outside the trailer he shares with his mother. Purnell is confused when Doggett says that he wants Purnell to meet Billy. Purnell tells Doggett that he is not making any sense and goes into the trailer. As Doggett sits in his car, he pulls out a photo of a boy from his wallet. (The initial signs of a major part of Doggett’s backstory)
Lisa Underwood wakes Josh when she finds a bloody knife stabbed into his bed in the morning. Billy stands in the room, staring at Josh.
At the police station, Sheriff Sanchez discusses the knife with Scully and Doggett. The blood is Billy Underwood’s blood but there is no cut on him. The knife is not their father’s and bares a symbol that Billy drew while being interrogated by Doggett that a police psychic also drew ten years earlier.
Scully suggests that Billy has to be removed from the home. When the Underwoods are complying with this, Billy is suddenly missing from the van and appears in his brother Josh’s room.Meanwhile, Cal Jeppy shows up at the Purnell trailer, hassling Ronald a bit before going into the trailer with Ronald’s mother, Marcia.
Ronald goes into the woods and digs up a skull.
Scully and Doggett bring the police-hired psychic, Sharon Pearl, to meet Billy while Billy’s father, Doug and the other son, Josh, leave. Sharon Pearl touches Billy and immediately starts freaking out, saying she feels powerful forces acting through Billy and that she senses emanations from Doggett as well. She then goes into a seizure and the same symbol forms on her forehead.
Cal Jeppy threatens Ronald Purnell to stay quiet or he will tell the police what he did to the little boy and where to find the body.
When Scully shows the tape recording of the psychic having the seizure, “All the Little Horses” as sung by a child is on the tape of the psychic when played backwards. While discussing this in the car, Scully and Doggett notice Purnell drive up to the Underwood home. Purnell panics when he sees Billy Underwood in the car with him and drives away after Doggett comes over and notices Billy in the car with Ronald. After a short pursuit, Purnell is arrested and Scully & Doggett fail to find Billy in the vehicle.
Elsewhere, Josh Underwood is abducted at a gas station when he goes to see a pony in a horse trailer. The symbol that keeps appearing in the case is on the horse trailer as a logo.
Doggett interrogates Ronald Purnell after learning of Josh’s disappearance. Eventually, Purnell confesses to snatching Billy all those years ago on behalf of someone else. Doggett recognizes Purnell was a victim as well and with enough prodding gets the name Cal Jeppy.
The police and the two FBI agents go to Jeppy’s home and find Josh in the horse trailer in a compartment under the floor. Doggett and all chase Jeppy into the woods and after Doggett apprehends Cal Jeppy, he demands to know 'where the other kid is.’ Jeppy insists ‘there is no other kid.’ For a brief moment, Agent Doggett sees Billy Underwood again but he is gone when he turns back. He goes over to where he saw the boy and finds the skull unearthed by Purnell earlier.
As the Underwoods stand over the shallow grave of their long dead son, Scully and Doggett argue about the events of the case. Doggett is bothered by the impossible series of events and how none of it really makes sense. Scully believes it was justice from beyond the grave and that the important thing is that it saved Josh Underwood. It closes on Doggett watching the Underwoods mourning over their son.
Cast and Characters
- Rodney Eastman (Ronald Purnell) previously played Sammael in the Millennium episode "Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions".
- David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) does not appear in this episode.
- Kim Greist as Lisa Underwood
- Jim Cody Williams as Cal Jeppy
- Rodney Eastman as Ronald Purnell
- Erich Anderson as Doug Underwood
- Kyle Pepi & Ryan Pepi as Billy Underwood
- Sheila Shaw as Marcia Purnell
- Barry Cullison as Sheriff Sanchez
- Maggie Baird as Sharon Pearl
- Colton James as Josh Underwood