|The X-Files episode|
|Original Airdate:||April 1, 1994|
|Written by:||Marilyn Osborn|
|Directed by:||David Nutter|
The shooting of a Native American draws Mulder and Scully into mystery involving lycanthropy, the phenomenon that opened the X-files.
FBI agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder travel to a remote town in Montana to investigate the killing of a Native American man, Joseph Goodensnake, by local ranch owner Jim Parker. The killing initially appears to be motivated by a dispute over the ownership of a tract of land, although Parker claims that he had fired upon a monstrous animal rather than a human. Parker's son, Lyle, bears scars that appears to lend credence to his father's story.
At the scene of the shooting, Scully reasons that at the short range from which Goodensnake was shot, it would have been impossible to mistake him for an animal. However, Mulder finds tracks leading to the area that appear to change from human to something more animal in nature. Scully dismisses this, but finds a large section of human skin nearby. She believes that the Parkers knowingly killed Goodensnake, but neither agent believe the pair would have skinned him—and the body was not reported to have been skinned.The matter is complicated by the difficulties Mulder and Scully have with dealing with the Native American population, stemming from the experience of the locals with the FBI at the Wounded Knee incident in 1973. Goodensnake's sister Gwen is also bitter that her neighbours are too frightened of native legends to confront his death.
Despite these misgivings, the agents find a seeming ally in Sheriff Charles Tskany, who permits Scully to make a cursory examination of Goodensnake's body, but forbids a full autopsy. Upon investigating the body, they discover that he has elongated canines, similar to those of an animal, and bears long-healed scars similar to those borne by Lyle.Goodensnake's body is cremated in a traditional ceremony, while the agents watch from a distance. Mulder shares with Scully his belief that the case is connected to the first X-File officially opened, concerning a series of savage maulings which Mulder believes are the work of werewolves. Scully dismisses this theory and instead credits the belief to clinical lycanthropy.
Meanwhile, the elder Parker is subsequently ripped apart by an unseen animal, an Lyle is found naked and unconscious in the nearby forest.Ish, one of the elder men of the reservation, explains to Mulder the legend of the manitou, a creature which can possess and transform a man, and which can pass to a new host upon the death of the original. Ish believes he had seen the creature in his youth, but was too frightened to confront it. An examination of Lyle Parker reveals his father's blood in his stomach, making it clear that he has in fact become the new manitou's new host, though not before he is released from hospital. That night Mulder and Scully hurry to the Parker ranch, quickly finding themselves in violent confrontation with the monster. Mulder shoots it dead, only to see it transform back into Lyle. As they agents leave, they learn that Gwen has disappeared, whilst Ish cryptically warns that he will see the agents in "about eight years".
- After Fox suggested doing an episode that featured a more conventional monster than The X-Files had previously used, writing partners Glen Morgan and James Wong - who had been wanting to create a story that explored Native American mythology - proposed the real-life concept of the Manitou. They conceptualized the Manitou as being similar to a werewolf, in order to attract fans of that genre, but attempted to make the episode feel distinctive, in the fashion of the series, by taking a slightly unusual approach to that concept and the word "werewolf" is consequently never mentioned in the episode. As Morgan later remarked, "A horror show should be able to do these legends that have been around since the thirteen hundreds".
- In a potentially humorous scene that did not make it to the final version of the episode, Scully tries to drive away a cow that is blocking the agents' car by waving her arms and yelling, "Baseball glove! Leather purse!"
- This episode reveals several facts about the early history of the X-files, including Mulder's note that the "very first X-file, initiated by J. Edgar Hoover himself, in 1946" dealt with a Manitou.
- Mulder actor David Duchovny and Michael Horse - who, in this episode, plays Charles Tskany - had both previously starred in the early 1990s television series Twin Peaks. This episode marks the second time that a Twin Peaks alumnus appears on The X-Files, after Don Davis starred as Scully's father, William, in "Beyond the Sea". Coincidentally, Scully mentions her father's death in this episode.
- The episode was novelized as Shapes (The X-Files Young Adult Series #6) by Ellen Steiber (Harper Collins, 1996).
- Ty Miller as Lyle Parker
- Michael Horse as Sheriff Charles Tskany
- Donnelly Rhodes as Jim Parker
- Jimmy Herman as Ish
- Renae Morriseau as Gwen Goodensnake