|The X-Files episode|
|Original Airdate:||March 8, 1996|
|Written by:||John Shiban|
|Directed by:||Kim Manners|
When a Sokona Indian burial urn is removed from the Ecuadorian highlands, a series of unexplained deaths follows three weeks later. Mulder investigates the case with Scully and soon comes to the conclusion that the deaths were caused by a curse of the jaguar spirit.
The episode opens on an archeological dig in the Ecuadorian highlands. An argument between Dr. Bilac and Dr. Roosevelt over the removal of a native-American burial urn, called an Amaru. Then We see A native shaman distributing Yaje, also known as the Vine of the Soul, to the villagers and Dr. Bilac. We then see Dr. Roosevelt murdered by the Jaguar spirit.
Mulder and Scully begin investigating the disappearance of Dr. Decker, after a security guard at the Boston Museum of History discovers a large amount of blood in Dr. Decker's archaeology lab. They interview both Museum Curator, Dr. Lewton, and Moana Wustner. They also visit Dr. Bilac. Dr. Lewton is killed by the Jaguar Spirit when his car, ironically a Jaguar, won't start.During an investigation of the crime scene, Scully come across a party of rat corpses in the engine compartment of Dr. Lewton's car. Mona is then asked by Scully about strange or bizarre happenings in the museum of natural history, in which Mona replies nothing out of the ordinary occurred. Meanwhile, Mulder and a group of Boston police search for Dr. Lewton's remains. Scully sees blood dripping on Mulder's face from above and, upon looking up, they see Dr. Lewton's small intestine hanging from a tree. Scully, about to perform an autopsy on Dr. Lewton's intestine, is interrupted when Mona suddenly calls, saying that Bilac was under the influence of Yaje. Mona then hears noises from the women's bathroom and, upon opening the toilet lid, she sees rats forcing their way out of the sewer. When the two agents arrive, Mulder goes to the women's bathroom due to the presence of strange noises. He then sees Dr. Bilac crying beside one of the toilets. Mulder then asks, "Where is she?" Bilac replies, "She is dead."
Elsewhere in the museum, Bilac escapes from the room in which he is being held without exiting through the only door. Mulder notices a large drag mark through the dust on the floor, leading to a strange hatch in the wall, under a table. Mulder then asks where the entrance leads, and the museum security guard says that it leads to the old steam tunnels. Mulder and Scully enter into the manhole and Mulder jokingly says, "Ladies first", upon which Scully gives him a piercing look. They walk through the hidden underground room only to find rats, the bodies of those missing and presumed dead (including Mona's), and a multitude of ferocious cats. Scully then gets attacked by a cat with blood on its mouth and others come rushing towards them; in an attempt to escape, they find the hole the rat came through earlier and Bilac's body, mutilated and bloodied like all the others. As the two agents make their way out, the demonic cats scratch down the door and burst through the hole before Mulder closes the lid. The episode closes with Mulder suspecting that the animal attacks were associated with the Sokona Indian burial urn that had been unburied and removed against the wishes of the shaman and his clan. It is shorty returned to the burial grounds where the Sokona shaman watches the urn's burial with his jaguar-like eyes.
- This episode is almost universally hated by cast and crew, particularly by director Kim Manners, who had two disdainful nicknames for it, one of them being "Teso Dos Bitches."
- The script of this episode was revised an unusually high number of times. Kim Manners' other nickname for the episode, "Second Salmon," is a reference to this. Every time an episode was re-written, the color of the script changed accordingly. "Teso Dos Bichos" went through so many re-writes that the cast ended up with two salmon colored copies.
- Yajé, Yagé or Ayahuasca is an actual hallucinogenic drug, traditionally used by South American Indians. The visionary experiences often feature animals, with large cats being common.Yaje (also called ayahuasca) is a kind of drink made from a psychoactive jungle vine and is used in shamanic healing rituals, where people have 'visions', supposedly in order to be able to diagnose diseases etc. The drink, which is mixed with other herbs, is an hallucinogen.
- Gillian Anderson is very allergic to cats, so makeup effects artist Toby Lindala had to create a cat puppet with rabbit fur that attacks Scully.
- Mona Wustner is named after writer John Shiban's mother.
- After the episode aired, the network found out that 'bichos' also means 'balls' in Colombia and Venezuela. John Shiban apparently didn't know that when he wrote the episode.
- When Scully is talking to Mulder about Dr. Lewton's autopsy she says that she found sunflower seeds in his intestine. Mulder then says 'A man of taste', referring to his own fondness for that snack.
- If this episode is observed closely, the words 'One Second of Music Goes Here' appears between scenes.
- "Teso Dos Bichos" is a site of archaeological interest in the Southern Amazon, in Brazil, and the writers apparently used the name because its translation is somewhat appropriate for this episode ("animal burial ground"). This explains why the episode's title is in Portuguese, even though Spanish and indigenous languages are spoken in Ecuador, where the episode takes place.
- Dr. Lewton, the doctor's name, is a nod to Val Lewton, probably the greatest low-budget producer of horror in the 1940s including Cat People and The Leopard Man. Lewton suffered from ailurophobia, an irrational fear of cats.
Boston; Massachusetts; Amaru; spirit; shaman; Ecuador; archaeology; Hall of Indigenous Peoples; Boston Museum of Natural History; Secona; State Department; curse; Yaje; transmigration; steam tunnel; cat; jaguar