With Scully's help, Mulder investigates a strange death that he believes may be an example of poltergeist activity.
The Holveys are spending their day at Lincoln Park. Teddy, their toddler, drops his ice cream and cries; the parents comfort him by giving him the elder son’s, Charlie’s, balloon. Charlie becomes upset, and insists on getting his balloon back. His father is dismissive. Meanwhile Maggie, the mother, takes Teddy to the restroom. She straps Teddy to a table and uses a stall. While she’s occupied, the strap loosens. Teddy, enamored of the balloon, follows it as it floats unnaturally from the bathroom. Maggie, realizing Teddy’s disappearance, frantically begins looking for him. The balloon leads Teddy to the park’s train tracks; a man alerts the parents, but too late – Teddy is killed. Charlie watches his weeping parents and his dead brother as the balloon slowly returns to him.
Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully review a photo from the scene of the Lincoln Park accident. Mulder believes the balloon luring Teddy was pulled by someone; his hypothesis is supported, when Charles "Chuck" Burks, the “King of Digital Imaging”, reveals a translucent figure unseen in the original photo. The figure is composed of electromagnetic energy, an energy commonly associated with phantoms. Mulder presents the childproof halter Teddy escaped from as further evidence of “poltergeist activity”.The agents visit the Holvey household. Mulder proposes that Teddy may have been helped onto the tracks. Charlie enters the room and the fire flares high; the others are oblivious, but the detail catches Scully’s attention. Scully follows Charlie, and sees Golda, Charlie’s Romanian grandmother, drawing a swastika on Charlie’s hand. Mulder inquires into paranormal occurrences around the home; as he does, the fire alarm triggers and the lights go out. When the lights return, Golda appears, and accuses Maggie of having a devil child.
In his office, Mulder and Scully discuss the swastika on the back of Charlie’s hand; Mulder explains that some cultures consider a backwards-facing swastika to have protective powers. Scully believes the Holvey children are victims of Münchausen syndrome by proxy – a form of abuse characterized by a parent or caretaker inducing illness in a child in order to gain attention or status. Teddy’s medical records corroborate Scully’s hypothesis, as does Golda’s accusation that Charlie is “evil”.
The agents interview Steve Holvey to discuss Golda. Steve relates Golda’s aberrant behavior, which focuses on protection from evil spirits. Steve suspects Golda’s involvement in Teddy’s death. Scully refers Steve to a social worker, and asks that Charlie be brought to see her.
In the Holvey household, Scully observes Golda sprinkling a substance into Charlie’s food. Before he can eat, Steve takes him to see the social worker; something Maggie is adamantly opposed to. While in the garage, Steve is killed trying to reset the malfunctioning garage door.
A police investigation into Steve’s death ensues. A police officer indicates to Scully Golda’s room, which is filled with candles and dead roosters. Meanwhile, Mulder discovers a grey powder in the garage. When analyzed by the FBI chem lab, the substance contains nothing organic or inorganic, and, according to the technicians, it inixplicably “doesn’t exist”.
Mulder shows the substance to Chuck, who identifies it as an apport – something which can appear from thin air. It occurs in the presence of “spirit beings” or during “bilocation”, a phenomenon where “a person’s energy is transported to a different location”. As ever, Scully remains skeptical.
At the Holvey household, Charlie listens as Golda and three Căluşari perform a ritual. Charlie’s image appears in the smoke, yelling in Romanian. Meanwhile, the social worker Karen Kosseff arrives. She and Maggie discover Charlie laying in the hallway outside of Golda’s door. Furious, Maggie enters the room and demands everyone leave. Golda grabs Charlie, locks the door, and prepares a ritual blade. Meanwhile, the social worker calls 911 and informs Mulder and Scully, who have just arrived. Golda prepares to cut Charlie’s hand, but flying objects knocks her down. As she turns to face Charlie, he thrusts the dead roosters at her, who return to life and attack her. The agents breach the door; Golda is dead, as are the reanimated roosters.Maggie reveals the ceremony Golda was performing is designed to cleanse the house of evil. Maggie and the agents watch as Karen, at a child psychiatric center, interviews Charlie – he claims that Michael was responsible, his stillborn twin. Charlie however, had never been told about Michael’s existence. He has a seizure and is taken to the hospital. When conscious, he resists medication; Michael, now a separate physical entity, appears from the shadows and attacks his nurse.
Michael, masquerading as Charlie, demands Maggie take him home. Mulder and Scully notice he is not himself; Scully leaves for the Holvey household. Meanwhile Maggie, equally suspicious, prepares the ritual initiated by Golda. Mulder, still at the hospital, contacts the Căluşari, who soon after arrive and begin performing an exorcism ritual on Charlie. As Mulder struggles to hold Charlie's legs down, they warn Mulder not to look into Charlie's eyes, else "the evil will recognize him". Scully arrives at the Holvey household and finds Golda’s room in shambles, with Golda being held up to the ceiling as she continues reciting her prayers; Michael disables Scully by tossing her right across the room. Then lunges at her with an athame, nearly killing her; but the Căluşari complete their ritual and Scully is saved. Charlie returns to normal, however, before Mulder leaves, he receives the ominous warning from the head Căluşari that he should be most careful, as the evil that once dwelled in Charlie will recognize him as he now knows him.
- The original Căluşari were an ancient Romanian cult. It is clear that horsemen cults existed as far back as Ancient Roman times. (For further information refer to chapter 5 of "The Cults of the Roman Empire" by Robert Turcan, Blackwell Publishing 1996.)
Cast and Characters
- Joel Palmer (Charlie Holvey/Michael Holvey) previously played Kevin Morris in The X-Files episode "Conduit".
- Helene Clarkson as Maggie Holvey
- Joel Palmer as Charlie Holvey/Michael Holvey
- Lilyan Chauvin as Golda
- Kay E. Kuter as Head Căluşari
- Jacqueline Dandeneau as Nurse Castor
- Bill Croft as Căluşari #2
- Campbell Lane as Căluşari #3
- George Josef as Căluşari #4