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The X-Files episode The-X-Files-2-32
Series: The X-Files
Original Airdate: January 26, 1996
Production Number: 3x13
Date(s): January 12, 1996
Written by: Chris Carter
Directed by: Rob Bowman
Episode chronology



"War of the Coprophages"

Season 3 Bullet toggle plus

"Syzygy" is the thirteenth episode of the third season of The X-Files.


Mulder and Scully investigate strange murders in New Hampshire that may be due to a rare planetary alignment.


A high-school jock at a nighttime vigil for a dead friend offers his remembrances, and is manipulated into driving two girls home. He is found dead the next morning, hanging from a cliff. Above, the two girls play "he loves me, he loves me not" as they sit on a blanket next to the rope their classmate is hanging from.

At the funeral for the second victim, the coffin begins to steam during the outburst of a local citizen, who claims that a Satanic cult is responsible for the deaths.

The two girls go to a basketball game, and in envy, cause a basketball player's girlfriend to fall down, and a gangly nerd to be crushed under the stands in the high school gym.

A bag previously owned by the obstetrician is found filled with bones, and the zealot from the funeral takes a crowd to the obstetricians home to exact mob vengeance. The obstetrician is brought in on a warrant and cleared.

Meanwhile, Mulder and a local investigator revert to awkward high-school level flirtations. Scully is very resentful in a similarly adolescent fashion.

The girls are having a birthday party when a girl named Brenda plays with a Ouija Board, asking who she will marry. The letters spell "SATAN", causing her to run into and become locked in a bathroom with the girls, who chant Bloody Mary menacingly.

Mulder finds out from Scully that the girl, Brenda, was murdered by flying glass from a mirror. Mulder investigates.

Mulder is told by an astrologist that once every 84 years, three planets align and cause behavioral and supernatural oddities. A particularly bad year for this phenomenon was 1979 when 4 planets aligned. That date is the girls' birthday.

Scully and Mulder separate and each ends up with one of the girls, each believing that the other girl is now the prime suspect. All four descend on the local police headquarters where the proximity of the now combative girls causes havoc (i.e., tremors, gunfire). The events cease at midnight.

Background InformationEdit

General InformationEdit

This episode established the popular phrase among The X-Files community, "Sure. Fine. Whatever," spoken multiple times by Scully in the episode.  A group of fans in San Francisco even had a line of t-shirts made with the phrase printed on them.

This is the first (and possibly only) episode in which Scully is seen smoking.

In this episode, Scully expresses annoyance that Mulder is always the one to drive (although Scully is shown driving in "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose"). This was a nod by the show's producers to the X-Phile community, which had long been asking that question on various forums.  Ironically, the reference outraged many X-Philes for Mulder's condescending response ("I was just never sure your little feet could reach the pedals.").  In fact, the episode as a whole was controversial upon first airing for depicting a Mulder and Scully radically different to their usual selves (constantly bickering and coldly sarcastic).  Chris Carter has maintained that critics didn't realize the episode was meant to be a send-up of things that fans had continually complained about.

The song playing when the Keystone Cops appear on all channels of the motel room TV's (and later on in the Police Station mayhem) is "The Sabre Dance" by Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian.

The song playing during the birthday party is Live's "All Over You".

Ryan Reynolds, who plays Jay "Da Boom", went on to play roles in movies such as Waiting, Harold & Kumar, and Van Wilder as well as the TV series Two Guys and a Girl.

After appearing in an episode with Satanic overtones, Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Terri Roberts, would go on to play Laurie Forman in That 70's Show, a character repeatedly referred to as "The Devil".  Her father in that show, Kurtwood Smith, would appear in the following episode, "Grotesque," as an FBI agent obsessed with hunting down a serial killer who appeared to be possessed by a demon.

Guest star Gabrielle Miller also appeared in the Season 2 episode "Our Town" as Chaco Chicken worker Paula, who lures Det. George Kearns, into the woods in the beginning.

There are a few references to this episode in The X-Files video game: the motel in the game is the Comity motel, and the lead character in the game is Craig Willmore, mentioned as one of the basketball players during practice.

The original script called for Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange to be playing on every channel as Mulder and Scully played with the remote controls in their hotel rooms, but the footage proved to be so expensive that the producer settled for clips from the Keystone Cops.

The name of the episode, "Syzygy", is an astronomical term for an alignment of three bodies of the solar system along a straight or nearly straight line.

The name of the town, 'Comity', also means 'courtesy'. As we watch Mulder and Scully enter the town, on the other side of the intersection we see a road sign that says 'Leaving Comity' (how true, once they enter, no one is civil to each other). As they leave, the camera passes the road sign that states 'Entering Comity' (thankfully true again, since everything goes back to normal after they leave).

Grover Cleveland Alexander High School is a reference to a question David Duchovny missed on Celebrity Jeopardy. David said after that he thought he was still on the sports section. He confused the pitcher (Alexander) with the president (Grover Cleveland).

The school mascot is a two horned goat, which is often used in Satanic rituals to represent Satan.

There are numerous similarities between this episode and the events that occurred in the famed Salem, Mass. trials in the colonial era. A group of teen girls began accusing people of witchcraft and the town became so hyped that several people were hung for the crime. Arthur Miller's The Crucible is not historically accurate, but captures the general feeling of that time. His play was an allegory of the McCarthy trials, which showed similar hysteria over a perceived threat. In the tradition of X-Files, of course, there was an actual threat in this episode, not just a perceived one.


22:54 As girls sit around the Ouija board the shadow of the camera is visible on several of them, on the left side of the shot.

15:40 the player runs into the table with the drinks on it, when shot from behind he stands up, but when shot goes to front for his line, he is back on the table 15:43.

The planetary alignment which was stated to be the cause of the problems was between Mercury, Mars and Uranus. The alignment was shown onscreen in the episode and was depicted at night near a full moon. A full moon is always opposite from the sun and so Mercury could never be in a visual alignment with a full moon. Additionally, Uranus is not visible with the naked eye.

When Scully arrives to investigate the kid who was crushed by the bleachers the time stamp says 5:10AM. It seems strange that the investigation would start the next morning, unless the high school holds basketball practice at 3:00 in the morning.

Scully says that she has been working with Mulder for 2 years. The date of the Pilot episode is March 1992, which would make it at least 4 years since she was assigned to the X-Files.


When the two girls go into the bar to tell their latest prey that they're not dressed up for the funeral, one of them mentions they are there to give him a good time that evening - carpe pm. This is a very clever allusion and pun of the Latin phrase Carpe Diem or seize the day - or in other words 'go for it'.



Guest Starring




Comity; Caryl County; New Hampshire; virgin; satanic cult; planetary alignment; horned beast; astrology; Mars; Uranus; Mercury; Jupiter; basketball; Mr. Tippy; cross dressing; pediatrician; screwdriver; keystone kops; Aquarius; geological vortex; grand square;

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