|The X-Files episode|
|Original Airdate:||September 23, 1994|
|Written by:||Chris Carter|
|Directed by:||Daniel Sackheim|
While continuing work unrelated to the X-files, Mulder apparently finds evidence of a giant, flukeworm-like monster, living in the New Jersey sewage system.
TWO MILES OFF THE COAST OF NEW JERSEY
In the Atlantic Ocean, a sailor walks along the lower decks and finds an overflowing toilet. He reports it to the ship's engineer who assigns a sailor named Dmitri to fix the problem. Later on the ship's lower decks, Dmitri works on removing a blockage that - the engineer says - must be dealt with before the sewage tanks can be purged. Frustrated by the assignment, Dmitri removes an access panel and is looking inside for the blockage when something drags him into the sewage tank, even overwhelming several members of the ship's crew as they struggle to grab hold of Dmitri's legs. The ship's engineer urgently shouts orders to the other crew members to flush the tanks out to sea. The water inside the tank then begins to bubble but reveals no sign of Dmitri.
FEDERAL WIRETAP #5A21147
FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder is disinterestedly conducting wiretap surveillance in a small, darkened room within Washington, D.C.'s Longstreet Motel when he is relieved from the assignment by an Agent Bozoff, who is accompanied to the room by an Agent Brisentine. Leaving the room, Brisentine tells Mulder about his new assignment; a murder case in Newark, New Jersey, where his contact will be a Detective Norman. Mulder is surprised that his reassignment was requested by Assistant Director Walter Skinner.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY
At a downtown crime scene, Mulder meets up with Detective Norman. Heading to the victim's corpse, the detective leads Mulder into a sewer where he and Mulder make smalltalk about their disgust at their surroundings. Norman then shows Mulder to the body, revealing that there is not much evidence. Wandering away, Mulder accepts Norman saying that the front side of the body has largely been eaten away and advises the detective to send the body to the FBI, care of AD Skinner.
At FBI Headquarters, Mulder demands to speak with Skinner, despite Skinner's secretary, Kimberly, saying that Skinner is unavailable. Seeing Skinner from Kimberly's office, a frustrated Mulder criticizes the assignments that Skinner has placed him on. Once Skinner welcomes the agent into his own office, Mulder sees that a group of FBI officials are gathered around Skinner's conference table. Mulder immediately adopts a more polite air, explaining that his current investigation seemed to concern merely a drug-land body dumping, but he also mentions the X-files, at which Skinner strongly reminds him that that unit has been closed. Reluctantly, Mulder agrees to continue carrying out the assignments that Skinner gives him, including his current investigation.
While Mulder is sitting alone on a bench at night, Agent Scully approaches him. Mulder jokes that he may be experiencing violent impulses but Scully jokingly answers that she is armed. Once Scully sits down next to him, Mulder vents his frustrations at the seeming triviality of his assignment, admitting that he has even recently been considering leaving the FBI. Scully insists that she could help Mulder out with his current case, reminding him that there is a dead body to be examined.
Scully later begins the examination, despite the fact that the smell of the corpse at first clearly disgusts her. All the while commentating on the examination, she notices a strange tattoo on the victim's right forearm and is shocked to discover - while inspecting the man's internal organs - a form of gray flatworm that she then begins to remove.
In Newark, two sanitation workers begin work in a sewer when one is suddenly dragged underwater, repeatedly, and screams in pain. The other man, standing on an overhead catwalk, desperately tries to save the distressed worker, tossing a rope into the water near him. Their efforts eventually succeed and the pained man is pulled out of the water. However, he has a large wound on his back so his co-worker, horrified, speeds away to seek assistance.
MIDDLESEX COUNTY HOSPITAL
SAYREVILLE, NEW JERSEY
A Doctor Zenzola examines the sanitation worker, who refers to a strong taste in his mouth - while Mulder enters - so the doctor duly inspects her patient's throat and gives him a piece of gum. The doctor then privately talks with Mulder, informing him that the sanitation worker is claiming to have been attacked by something undetermined. Zenzola also mentions the wound on the man's back, referring to it as highly unusual. Mulder then briefly questions the victim, who has suspicions that his attacker was a pet snake, and Zenzola shows Mulder the man's wound. Mulder receives a call from Scully, who tells him of the worm she found. Receiving another call, Mulder at first assumes that his caller is again Scully but it is actually a mysterious man who first notifies Mulder that he has a friend at the FBI and then abruptly ends the call. Mulder agrees to Zenzola releasing her patient but is privately perplexed by the strange call.
FBI NATIONAL ACADEMY
After Mulder arrives in Scully's office, she shows him the flukeworm she found, wordily telling him about its parasitic nature. The pair of agents enlighten their conversation with some jokey banter. Scully then explains that she is left to conclude the unlikely possibility that the single parasite killed the young victim. Mulder theorizes that the wound on the sanitation worker's back could be from the scolex of a gigantic flukeworm. Scully starts to laugh at his theory but stops herself, realizing that she had become too caught up in their discussion feeling like "old times." Scully seriously refutes Mulder's theory and he acts pleased that he doesn't have to tell Skinner that the murder suspect is "a giant, blood-sucking worm." Having assumed that the mysterious call he received earlier was due to Scully having launched a campaign for him, Mulder confronts her about it. She is puzzled about the matter but assures him that she would never betray a confidence.
Meanwhile, the sanitation worker is in the bathroom of his own home. He tries to get rid of the taste in his mouth using an excess of toothpaste. When he spits the toothpaste out, he is shocked to see blood mixed with it. He later showers but experiences an extreme choking sensation, regurgitating more blood and a flukeworm that slithers down the drain.
SEWAGE PROCESSING PLANT
Mulder interviews a foreman at the county sewage processing facility, who briefly introduces Mulder to a worker named Charlie. The foreman tells Mulder about the plant's workings and Mulder shows him the flukeworm from the body that was pulled out of the sewer. The foreman seems unsurprised at its discovery, remarking that virtually anything could have been breeding down in the antiquated sewage system. Outside the plant, Charlie notices something moving inside one of many filtration pools. Panicking, he telephones the foreman. In a large darkened area inside the plant, Charlie is joined by the foreman and Mulder. Charlie explains that he is back-flushing the system and tells of his experience of having seen something. What he saw in the water is revealed to the group once it is caught in a large, transparent pipe; it is the monstrous Flukeman.
Scully is doing research on her computer, in her office at the FBI Academy, when she notices a tabloid newspaper being slid under her door. She briefly exits her office to see that the paper's anonymous deliverer is now gone. Scully later comes across an article that suggests officials now suspect the incident aboard the Russian ship was due to some kind of monster. Learning of this incident for the first time, she returns to her computer and brings up a magnified view of the tattoo she discovered earlier. Scully then answers a call from Mulder, who implies that he has found a much larger fluke than the one she previously caught.
MIDDLESEX COUNTY PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
The agents peer into a room of the psychiatric facility where the Flukeman is being held. After Mulder points it out to Scully, she reacts in amazement. Using technical lingo, they remark that the Flukeman shares the flatworms' characteristic of being genderless and that it has aspects of both parasitic and primate physiology. Mulder comments that he will apparently have to tell Skinner the murder suspect is indeed a "giant, blood-sucking worm." Scully tells Mulder of her conclusion that the body from the sewer was a Russian engineer, a determination she made after having detected that its tattoo spells "Dmitri" in Cyrillic lettering. Mulder is puzzled how she managed to determine that, so she shows him the newspaper article, also implying that she believes the paper was left by the same mysterious caller who told Mulder that, within the FBI, he has an ally. She tells him of her hope that he won't decide to quit the FBI.
Later in Skinner's office, Skinner looks through Mulder's field report regarding the Flukeman. Skinner deems the report as being acceptable, which Mulder thinks is a humorously odd reaction to the bizarreness of both the case and the suspect. Skinner clarifies that he had his reactions to those in the morning and that the current meeting is to evaluate Mulder's work. Both men argue about how the Flukeman should best be handled, Mulder disputing Skinner's plan of transferring the being to a psychiatric institution. Skinner mentions that the Flukeman is now responsible for the deaths of two people, as the sanitation worker was found dead - in his own home - due to his injuries. Mulder speculates that, if he and Scully had still been assigned to the X-files, they could have saved the second victim's life. Skinner agrees that the case should have been an X-file, implies that he took orders to shut down that unit from someone else and dismisses Mulder.
Marshals transport the Flukeman - bound to a gurney - into an ambulance that then drives away. The vehicle's driver finds, while driving, that the Flukeman has escaped, leaving clear slime on the gurney's bounds. Moments after investigating with a rifle, the driver screams and his firearm is once shot, noises that can be heard from outside the vehicle, which is parked near a sign for Lake Betty Park. The Flukeman then crawls into one of a pair of public toilet cubicles in the area and hides inside the lavatory within.
LAKE BETTY PARK
The public toilets are emptied into a tanker truck, via a suction tube that momentarily becomes blocked.
LAKE BETTY PARK
The park is, by now, the site of a crime scene that Mulder arrives at, being passed by the truck as it leaves. Again meeting up with Detective Norman, Mulder is told that the only evidence is a dead driver and an escaped prisoner. Mulder advises that the being will attempt to head back underground. He answers another call from his mysterious contact, who instructs him that success in his current assignment is imperative and that reinstatement of the X-files must be undeniable. After the mystery caller abruptly ends the call, Mulder overhears Norman being contacted by an investigator who reports the discovery of the now-empty toilet. With this information, Mulder realizes that the suspect may be on the truck that he himself passed.
NEW JERSEY COUNTY
SEWAGE PROCESSING PLANT
Mulder hurriedly arrives back at the processing plant. He again talks with the foreman, who assures Mulder that the Flukeman will definitely become trapped in the sewage system. After a period of intense waiting near the plant's filtration pools, Mulder receives a call from Scully. She tells Mulder that the fluke she caught earlier was one of many that the Flukeman has been transmitting through its bite, as its method of reproduction, and that the Flukeman is looking for hosts. The foreman relays news to Mulder that something has been spotted in a section of pipe. Using a map of the sewers, the foreman shows Mulder the exact location of the sighting, the same place where the first body was found - an overflow system connected to the harbor. Mulder suspects both that the Flukeman entered the sewer system there and that the being is working its way back out to sea.
Mulder and the foreman hurry to the sewer. On Mulder's suggestion, the foreman tries to close a metal gate over the overflow pipe. The foreman slips and falls into the water, however. He is twice suddenly dragged underwater but desperate attempts by Mulder to pull him to safety are eventually successful. Mulder spots the Flukeman climbing into the overflow pipe so he races to close the gate, which agonizingly splits the being in half.
Back in Washington, D.C., Scully again meets with Mulder at their bench. Like before, they share humorous banter before Scully sits down; Mulder warns her that he may slightly reek of the sewer but Scully chances sitting next to him anyway. Mulder notifies her about his mysterious contact alleging the importance of his work, although Scully at first mistakes those words as having come from Skinner. Scully lengthily informs Mulder that she has determined the Flukeman, capable of spontaneous regeneration like any fluke or flatworm, is actually a human mutated by radiation from the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, having come off of a decommissioned Russian freighter that was involved in the disposal of salvage material from that incident.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY
Deep underground, the Flukeman rejuvenates, opening its eyes and breathing long, rasping breaths.
- Writing team Glen Morgan and James Wong, who had adopted a trademark of writing straight horror episodes in the first season of The X-Files, pushed Chris Carter into wanting to make this episode creepy and scary.
- This episode was also inspired by Chris Carter's close observation of worms that his dog had and his recent experience of having read a story about Chernobyl and the extinction of species.
- Darin Morgan, who played the Flukeman in this episode, is the brother of co-executive producer Glen Morgan and subsequently worked on the The X-Files, his credits including the writing of episodes such as "Humbug", "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", "War of the Coprophages" and "José Chung's From Outer Space". He also wrote two episodes of Millennium - "José Chung's Doomsday Defense" and "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me" - and directed both.
- At the time when this episode was created, special makeup effects supervisor Toby Lindala had only four men working for him, in a small basement shop. Lindala nevertheless found that the creation of the Flukeman costume was quick.
- However, wearing the costume was problematic; putting the stifling bodysuit on originally took six hours, before technicians were able to speed the process up. At one point, Morgan was required to wear the costume for twenty hours consecutively. Because the suit was so difficult to remove, Morgan had to relieve himself while continuing to wear the costume. Show-runner Chris Carter subsequently joked that the difficult assignment of wearing the suit was a rite of passage for any aspiring writer on the The X-Files.
- One scene that was the subject of much deliberation was the one in which the sanitation worker coughs up a flukeworm. This was the subject of one of the biggest arguments between the producers of The X-Files and the Fox network during the first two seasons of the show. Fox's broadcast standards department wanted to cut the scene but Chris Carter fought to keep it, warning the network executives, "If you cut this out, you're going to ruin the episode." (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, pp. 26-27 & 165)
- This episode features the first appearance of the mysterious character known simply as X, although his face is not shown until his next appearance, the later Season 2 episode "Sleepless".
- Gabrielle Rose, who played Dr. Zenzola in this installment, also played Anita Budahas in the Season 1 episode "Deep Throat".
- Matthew Bennett as First Workman
- Freddy Andreluci as Detective Norman
- Don MacKay as Charlie
- Marc Bauer as Agent Brisentine
- Gabrielle Rose as Dr. Zenzola
- Ron Suave as Foreman
- Dmitri Boudrine as Russian Engineer
- Raoul Ganee as Dmitri
- William MacDonald as Federal Marshal
Newark; New Jersey; Longstreet Motel; Washington D.C.; Federal Wiretap #5A21147; Middlesex County; Middlesex County Hospital; Middlesex County Psychiatric Hospital; Sayreville; FBI National Academy; Quantico; Virginia; lungs; NYPD; python; boa constrictor; alligator; bile duct; ambulance; fluke; flatworm; Lake Betty; US Marshal; liver; Newark County; Newark County Sewage Processing Plant; Chernobyl; Russian