Reyes and Scully struggle to locate Doggett after he wakes up in Mexico with no memory of who he is or how he got there.
SummaryDay 1: Agent John Doggett awakens in an abandoned building with a drug addict stealing his shoe. Disoriented but angry he runs after the man into the street. He catches up with the shoe thief but the man calls for help from the police. Two police officers step out of a car and Doggett tries to explain in English that the man took his shoe and he is the victim. One officer hits the drug addict for no reason while the other cop steely questions Doggett. The officer wants to know where Doggett’s passport is but he can’t find it. The officer asks him what his name is but Doggett can’t remember his own name. His memory is lost.
Day 2: Doggett is now in jail in the town. After he fails to get the attention of the guards, he starts a conversation with another prisoner. He learns he is in the town of Sangradura in Mexico. Doggett is intent on calling the U.S. Embassy and going home but the prisoner suggests that if he can’t remember anything, then maybe he is one of the many Americans that show up in that non-tourist town to disappear.
Day 8: The prisoner he spoke with, Domingo Salmeron, is released and he convinces the guards to release Doggett as well but he has to work for the man. After he gets out, Domingo and another man, Nestor, demand that he get into their car because they basically own him now. Doggett refuses and walks off on his own saying he will pay him back. Nestor draws a revolver and sticks it in Doggett’s back. He disarms the man easily and turns the gun on them. He opens the revolver and shakes the bullets out, throws the gun in a trash can, and walks away.
As he sleeps, he has a flash of a memory of his wife and son.
Doggett catches the drug addict from earlier and demands the man give him anything else he stole from him. The man hands him a tiny silver skull out of his pocket and uses a word that Doggett doesn’t understand: Desaparecido.
That night in the bar, Doggett meets Domingo and his associate, Nestor, again. This time he actually asks about the job and learns that the two men are coyotes (people who smuggle people across the border into the USA). He agrees to work for them and Domingo gives him his first month’s pay so Doggett can rent a room above the bar. Doggett shows the tiny silver skull charm to Domingo and Nestor. Nestor is unnerved by it while Domingo is unfazed and wonders why he is giving him money if he has silver. After he leaves, Nestor asks Domingo why he is doing this since he doesn’t know what Doggett wants. Domingo says in Spanish, “He just wants to remember. Same as all the rest.”
Doggett inspects himself in the mirror before turning in. He finds a cut at the hairline on each side of his forehead and a US Marine Corps tattoo on his arm. Outside, a man watches Doggett’s room from the street. He smokes a cigar, revealing a charm bracelet of silver skulls with one missing.
Day 12: Agent Dana Scully and Assistant Director Skinner report to Deputy Director Kersh on the search for the missing Agent Doggett. They show that they have a photo of him at the border suggesting that he is in Mexico but Kersh refuses to extend the search into Mexico because they just don’t have enough evidence to push that forward. They try and convince him to allow Agent Monica Reyes to at least search since she grew up in Mexico. Kersh requires that any work she does remains on the US side of the border.
Elsewhere, Agent Reyes is having a conversation with Mr. Mariano Molina and his lawyer down in San Antonio, Texas. The man sells farm equipment but also drugs. Reyes asks him about Hollis Rice, who disappeared. Doggett was investigating the disappearance and would have asked Molina questions about it but Molina denies ever having met Doggett. She accuses Molina of being a middleman in a smuggling operation and that Hollis Rice laundered money for the cartel until he got too greedy or something. Molina’s lawyer ends the meeting without Reyes getting any answers to her questions.
John Doggett awakes in the police station’s waiting room after a fragment of memory about his son. He has a phone call from the Marine Corps Public Affairs Office. He lies and tells the Staff Sergeant on the other end that he is a detective trying to track down the identity of a man run over by a taxi cab in Mexico. Doggett feeds the Sergeant his own physical characteristics and explains about the tattoo which refers to a unit killed by the bombing in Lebanon in 1983. He leaves before he gives the man a number to reach him because the police who brought him have showed up.
Later in Domingo’s garage, Doggett is fixing up the engine of the bus. Domingo arrives with a notice about a Henry Bruck who is wanted in connection to a double homicide and though there is no picture, he emphasizes to Doggett how the description fits. Domingo tells him that they will keep him safe and that he should stay away from the Federales.
Nestor goes to the Skull Charm Man about Doggett. He is concerned about Doggett and says he is different from the other “disappeared ones.” Caballero (SC Man) tells him that Doggett is an FBI agent and that his orders from the cartel were not to kill him. Caballero implies that if something were to happen to Doggett though, it would not be his concern.
Reyes and Scully talk in the San Antonio offices. Scully explains that Kersh doesn’t know that she is there, nor that Skinner has gone down to Mexico. She shows Reyes the info about a Detective Ladatel looking for information from the Marines about a man matching Doggett’s description and they decide to trace the call given that Ladatel is a Mexican calling card.
Nestor tries to kill Doggett with the revolver while he’s under the bus in the garage. He reveals that he speaks English and tells him, “See you in Hell, FBI!” Then Doggett hits the release for the jack and crushes Nestor’s right foot. The wounded man and Doggett fight in the garage as the gun goes off again.
Domingo arrives to find a dead Nestor, shot through the head, and a threatening Doggett asking if Nestor was sent to kill him. Domingo surrenders to the threats and tells Doggett that he is one of the disappeared ones (Desaparecido); that the drug cartel runs the town and some people who mess with them disappear and are dead while others who really cross the cartel are left alive but dead. “They took away my memory? How? How do I get it back?” Domingo replies, “You don’t. That’s the point.” As he gets painful disabling flashes of memory, Doggett is disarmed and beaten by Domingo.
Reyes pretends to be looking for her dead-beat husband and bribes them to convince the Mexican police to tell her about any Americans they’ve found recently. This leads to a man beaten to death that almost looks like Doggett. Reyes notices the matching pair of scars on the forehead of this man.Day 13: Domingo goes to see Caballero because he knows Nestor would not have tried to kill Doggett without permission. Domingo relates what he did and that he left the American alive for Caballero to deal with. Caballero smiles and pokes a hole in Domingo’s story: “You talked with the American while he held a gun on you? What did you tell him?” Domingo asserts he told him nothing. Caballero decides he will have to confirm that. His eyes glow white and he punctures the sides of Domingo’s head with his thumb-nails.
Reyes arrives at the garage and tells Doggett who he is and who she is but the corrupt local cops arrive and surround the building. Doggett tells her that the cops will kill them if they step outside and asks Reyes what his son’s name is, since all he can remember is that he has a son but not his name. Reyes tells him “Luke” but is quietly horrified given what happened to Doggett’s son. Her reactions make him realize what happened and it all starts to come back to him. He breaks down weeping, overwhelmed by the knowledge of his son’s death, while Monica deals with the smoke canisters being thrown into the garage. She convinces him to get it together and he tells her to get on the bus.
They drive the bus out through the blockade. Unfortunately, they flip the bus and the cartel-owned police officers walk towards them.Skinner arrives with the Mexican Federal police and the local cops surrender to the far better armed Federales.
Doggett, Reyes, Skinner, and the Federales go to challenge Caballero. Doggett speaks with Caballero about how he remembers everything and how he took his memories and the memories of other people, robbing them of their identities. Caballero speaks to Doggett about his memories since he experiences the memories of people he mind wipes.
“Why would you want to remember? You can’t tell me you’re happier now, because you recall your life. I saw it all. So much pain. Why would you want to struggle, so long, and hard, to get that pain back?”Doggett replies, “Because it’s mine.”
He walks away as the Federales move in to apprehend Caballero.
Doggett remembers his son riding his bike. Reyes offers her condolences about Doggett having to remember it all over again. Doggett, lost in his memories, merely says, “I’ll take the bad as long as I remember the good.”
- At one point in this episode, Scully refers to "the morning of the fourth", but she does not clarify which month she is referring to.
- This is only the second episode of The X-Files to be directed by a woman. Gillian Anderson previously wrote and directed the Season 7 episode, "all things".
- Later the same year as this episode was broadcast, the Fox network aired a series entitled John Doe. The director of this episode and regular co-executive producer of The X-Files, Michelle MacLaren, also directed an episode of the show John Doe.
- In the closing scene, the shadow of the 'crane-cam' can be seen sliding up the wall of the building on the left of the screen.
- "I'll take the bad as long as I can remember the good." - Doggett
- Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully
- Robert Patrick as Special Agent John Doggett
- Annabeth Gish as Special Agent Monica Reyes
- Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner
- Frank Roman as Domingo Salmeron
- Ramón Franco as Nestor
- Zitto Kazann as Caballero
- René Rivera as First Officer
- Eduardo Antonio Garcia as Mariano Molina
- F.J. Rio as Second Officer