Arthur Dales, the brother of a retired FBI agent with the same name, tells Mulder about an alien who played baseball for the Roswell Grays in 1947.
SummaryA group of baseball players play a game in Roswell, New Mexico. One of the players, Josh Exley, hits a towering foul ball. Some of the players think Exley has the ability to play in the major leagues, but he doesn't want to, desiring to avoid the spotlight. Suddenly, a group of Ku Klux Klan members arrive on horseback, seeking Exley. The baseball players fight back and, when the mask of the KKK leader falls off, he is revealed to have the face of a Grey alien.
In the present day, FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully look through Roswell newspapers from the 1940s. Agent Mulder spots an article showing Arthur Dales, Josh Exley and an Alien Bounty Hunter, causing Mulder to seek out Dales at his apartment. Mulder finds that Dales has moved to Florida, but meets his brother, who is also named Arthur. Dales tells Mulder of when he met Exley back in 1947.
Dales, a member of the Roswell Police Department, has been assigned to protect Exley, who is hesitant to the idea. That night, on the bus with Exley and his teammates, Dales sees Exley with the reflection of an alien in the window while he sleeps. The next day, during a game, Exley is hit by a pitch and starts uttering a strange language before coming back to his senses. Dales spots green ooze where Exley's bleeding head had been resting.
Dales looks into Exley's hometown of Macon, Georgia, finding that a boy with that name vanished about five years ago. When Yankee scouts arrive at one of Exley's games, he purposely performs poorly and denies doing so when Dales approaches him about it later. That night at the hotel, Dales, hearing noises from Exley's hotel room, breaks in and sees Exley in his true form, that of an alien. Exley tells Dales that he is forbidden from intermingling with the human race but fell in love with the game of baseball, which is why he is here. Meanwhile, the Alien Bounty Hunter, who is in pursuit of Exley, takes his form and murders a scientist investigating the green ooze that Dales found. Dales warns Exley that he's now wanted, and Exley goes into hiding.
The narrative returns to that of the start of the episode. The KKK leader is, in fact, the Alien Bounty Hunter, who tells Exley that he now has to die. The Bounty Hunter demands he revert to his true alien face before he dies but Exley refuses. The Bounty Hunter kills Exley just as Dales arrives. To both of their surprise, Exley bleeds human blood instead of alien. Back in the present, Mulder invites Scully go hit baseballs with him on an empty field.
1936; 1940s; 1940; 1942; 1947; 1948; 1949; 1998; Arthur Dales (Agent); Arthur Dales (female); Gibson, Josh; Baseball; Teena Mulder; Babe Ruth; Bellflower, California; Canada; FBI Headquarters; Florida; Georgia; Los Angeles; Mars; Mexico; New Mexico; Roswell; Washington, DC; bee; Arthur Dales (goldfish); grey; Project; shotgun
- The title of this episode references the title of a novel and film called The Natural, also about baseball. The book was written by American writer Bernard Malamud.
- This episode was originally written to feature Arthur Dales, from "Travelers" and "Agua Mala", instead of the Arthur Dales who does appear. Two scenes were filmed with actor Darren McGavin, but had to step down from the project due to illness. The script was rewritten and M. Emmet Walsh was called in to play the brother of McGavin's Dales.
- Although the above is correct, Mr McGavin did reprise his role in this episode, at least for 2 scenes. The Season 6 DVD features 2 alternate takes for scenes shot in the episode with Darren McGavin. Scene one is the scene in the kitchen where Mulder asks if the great glories of the past were aliens and the 2nd scene was one of the last in the episode, when Mulder says goodbye to Arthur Dales.
- This episode marks David Duchovny's directorial debut and was also the first episode to be written by him.
- Although budget problems initially prevented Vin Scully from being hired as the baseball announcer, the famed sportscaster - who Dana Scully was named after - agreed to meet an X-Files sound crew in his Dodger Stadium broadcast booth and record the part for free.
- This episode uses footage of the alien bounty hunter that was filmed for the Season 2 episode "Colony", the first appearance of the character.
- The song that can be heard near the end of this episode is Come and Go With Me to That Land, originally by Bernice Johnson Reagon.
- The baseball scenes in the episode were filmed at Jay Littleton Ballpark in Ontario, California.
- The name of Josh Exley's team, the Roswell Grays, recalls both the Homestead Grays, the legendary Negro leagues team, and the archetypal "grey aliens" of UFO lore.
- The name Exley may be a reference to American novelist Frederick Exley, the acclaimed New York-born author of A Fan's Notes, Pages From a Cold Island, and Last Notes From Home.
- SCULLY: Mulder, it is such a gorgeous day outside. Have you ever entertained the idea of trying to find life on this planet?
- MULDER: (still looking at the record book) I have seen the life on this planet, Scully and that is exactly why I am looking elsewhere.
(SCULLY opens a paper bag she is carrying and removes a paper-wrapped frozen dessert. This gets MULDER's attention.)
- MULDER: Did you bring enough ice cream to share with the rest of the class?
- SCULLY: (smugly, beginning to eat) It's not ice cream. It's a nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicle.
- MULDER: (returning to his book) Ugh. Bet the air in my mouth tastes better than that. You sure know how to live it up, Scully.
- SCULLY: (stepping down and continuing to eat) Oh, you're Mr. Live-it-up. Mulder, you're really Mr. Squeeze-every-last-drop-out-of-this-sweet-life aren't you? On this precious Saturday you've got us grabbing life by the testes stealing reference books from the FBI library in order to go through New Mexico newspaper obituaries for the years 1940 to 1949 and for what joyful purpose?
- MULDER: Looking for anomalies, Scully. Do you know how many so-called "flying disc" reports there were in New Mexico in the 1940s?
- SCULLY: I don't care. Mulder, this is a needle in a haystack. These poor souls have been dead for 50 years. Let them rest in peace. Let sleeping dogs lie.
- MULDER: No, I won't sit idly by as you hurl cliches at me. Preparation is the father of inspiration.
- SCULLY: Necessity is the mother of invention.
- MULDER: The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
- SCULLY: (taking another bite) Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.
- MULDER: I scream, you scream, we all scream for nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicles.
(MULDER sets the book down and lunges for SCULLY. He grabs her arm and takes a bite of the dreamsicle. The cone breaks and pieces of the dessert splatter down on the book.)
- SCULLY: No-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho! (delightful laugh) Mulder!
- "Ex" is played by Jesse L. Martin, the original Broadway cast member of RENT in the role of Collins. Perhaps knowing this is what prompted David Duchovny to allow Martin a small scene where he sings with that "beautiful voice" of his.
- David Duchovny's older brother, Daniel Duchovny, plays the role of bench jockey Piney.
- The Coach's jersey identifies his name as "Shiban", for producer John Shiban.
- Significant of an episode about baseball, the tagline for this episode changes to 'In The Big Inning'.
- The baseball field in Roswell is surrounded by numerous saguaro cacti. The saguaro does not grow in New Mexico.
- It seemed strange that Mulder was surprised not to find the Arthur Dales he knew at his apartment when in 'Agua Mala' we (and Mulder) learned that he had moved to Florida.
- The "Cozy Cactus" sign should have been reversed in the bus window, since it was a reflection. This was likely intentional, so that the shot could introduce the location without forcing the audience to read backwards.
- In the final scene when Mulder is musing about Scully's "everyday nagging concerns" he lists the "ticking of her biological clock". While "biological clock" refers to many different processes, Mulder could be referring to Scully's fertility. This is despite the fact that it has been well-established that Scully has had all her ova removed and is already infertile.
- In the scene where the alien bounty hunter kills Exley, 5 red lights similar to that of a laser sight are visible on the back of Exley as the two confront each other.
- Scully: So, I get this message on my answering machine marked "urgent", from one Fox Mantle..... This is an allusion to Mickey Mantle. Mantle played for the New York Yankees for 18 years and has been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Arthur Dales: Speaking metaphorically is for young men like you, Agent MacGyver. This is a reference to the 80's TV series MacGyver starring Richard Dean Anderson as the extremely resourceful secret agent Angus MacGyver.
- Mulder: ET steal home, ET steal home. Said to Dales regarding the possible alien baseball player. An obvious allusion to the Steven Spielberg film ET: the Extra Terrestrial,made in 1982, in which one of the most famous film phrases 'ET phone home' was used. 'Steal home' is a baseball term, hence the pun.
- Another ET allusion is made in the beginning of the episode, when one of the ballplayers goes searching for Exley's foul ball, only to have it tossed gently back to him seemingly out of nowhere, as the ballplayer looks quizzically into the dark. A similar scene happens in ET when, after Elliot throws his baseball into the shed thinking the family dog is inside, the ball is tossed gently back out (by a yet-undiscovered E.T.), terrifying the young boy.
- The Title: The Unnatural
The title of this episode makes reference to the title of a novel by 20th-century American writer Bernard Malamud: The Natural which is also baseball. The book was made into a film starring Robert Redford and Glen Close.
- Name: Josh Exley
The baseball loving alien Josh Exley was modeled on Josh Gibson (whose jersey Mulder was wearing at the end of the episode) who played for the real-life Homestead Grays. Gibson was one of the greatest batters ever, and if he had been allowed to play in the major leagues he would probably hold the home run record.
- Jesse L. Martin as Josh Exley
- Fredric Lane as Officer Arthur Dales
- Brian Thompson as Bounty Hunter
- Jesse James as Poorboy
- Lou Beatty, Jr. as Black Coach
- Burnell Roques as Buck Johnson
- M. Emmett Walsh as Arthur Dales
- Lennie Loftin as Officer Coranado
- Paul Willson as Ted
- Walter T. Phelan, Jr. as Alien
- Gabriel Clifton as Black Boy
- Al Kaplon as Umpire
- Robb Reesman as Macon Officer
- Daniel Duchovny as Piney
- Chris Kohn as Catcher
- Ken Medlock as White Coach
- Julie Griffith as Beautiful Woman
- Kerric MacDonald as Moose
- Vin Scully (archival voice footage)