A former prisoner of war brings to light a horrific coverup concerning his comrades as seeks revenge against those who wished he hadn't returned...
The episode begins at the National Mall, where Major General Benjamin Bloch (Scott Hylands) gives a speech to a crowd of Vietnam War veterans. Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), and Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) patrol the crowd, searching for a potential gunman. However, when the agents see the gunman, he repeatedly disappears and makes their efforts to track him difficult. Mulder finds himself aiming his gun towards the panicked crowd, desperately searching for the gunman as he had disappeared right in front of him.
Twelve hours earlier, at Fort Evanston, Maryland, Lieutenant General Peter MacDougal (Bill Agnew) is shot in his limousine by the gunman. Skinner briefs the agents on the killing, noting a king of hearts playing card—used by the soldiers in Vietnam to mark their kills—was left at the scene. The FBI suspects a far-right paramilitary group, the Right Hand, of killing MacDougal in an effort to stop an upcoming re-dedication of a Vietnam war memorial in Washington.
Mulder and Scully head to Virginia to question the Right Hand's leader, Denny Markham (Larry Musser). A search of his fenced-off cabin uncovers ammunition and a photograph showing him in the company of a Sergeant Nathaniel Teager (Peter LaCroix). After being arrested, Markham reveals that Teager was a soldier in Vietnam who was left for dead as a prisoner of war. Meanwhile, at the Vietnam memorial, Teager approaches a war widow and claims that her husband is still alive as a POW. After giving the woman her husband's dog tags, Teager mysteriously disappears.
Skinner informs the agents that Teager is officially dead, and that his remains are at the Army's forensics lab. However, Mulder learns that the lab only possesses Teager's dental remains, and that the cause of his death was recorded as "inconclusive". Mulder believes that General John Steffan (William Nunn), who signed Teager's death certificate, is his next target. Teager makes his way past Pentagon security and kills Steffan in his office. Upon seeing Teager on the Pentagon's surveillance tapes, Mulder notes the frequent unexplained appearances and disappearances of Viet Cong troops reported by POWs in Vietnam.
During a meeting with Marita Covarrubias (Laurie Holden), Mulder learns that Steffan, McDougal, and Bloch were all involved in negotiations concerning POWs. Meanwhile, as Bloch's motorcade makes its way to the Mall, Scully spots Teager in the crowd, only to see him vanish in an instant. Mulder tells Skinner and Scully that the government has arranged for their investigation to fail in an effort to cover up the truth about American POWs still being kept in Vietnam.
In the present, during the re-dedication ceremony, Mulder realizes that no one can see Teager if they are in his line of sight. Teager follows Skinner and Bloch to the motorcade, where he unsuccessfully shoots at the general and Skinner suffers a flesh wound. Teager is shot in turn by the agents as he tries to escape. As he succumbs to his wounds, Teager repeats his Army identification. Afterwards, the Pentagon states that the assassin was a different person—which Mulder denounces as a lie. He leaves Skinner to silently ponder his own service in the Vietnam War as he looks upon Teager's name on the memorial wall.
The teaser for most X-files episodes usually precedes the timeframe of each episode. After the opening credits, the episode continues the story begun in the teaser. Occasionally the teaser instead jumps ahead to a portion of the conclusion; a preview of the tense moment to come. This episode is one of the latter.
The climactic speech/assassination is previewed.
The Warren Commission investigated the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone to kill him. Many people, especially conspiracy theorists, do not believe the Commission's findings.
The establishing shot of the Army Central Identification Lab is a reuse of the Fort Marlene facility where Scully found the Purity Control samples in the first season.
When Nathaniel Teager confronts Mrs. Davenport in front of the Vietnam Memorial, two of the names visible on the wall behind her are Jesse R. Ellsion and Harlan L. Hahn. Harlan Ellison is a famous science fiction writer and fan of the show. Jessica Hahn is well known for the scandal involving her and Reverend Jim Baker.
General Peter McDougal was named for the series editor Heather MacDougall.
When Mulder and Scully approach the gate at The Right Hand compound, they are told over the intercom that the gate is unlocked and the two agents enter. As the gate is swung open, however, it is clearly visible that the handles attached to the gate are not connected to any locking mechanism whatsoever.
When Mulder discovers the body of Gen. Steffan, he picks up and handles the card on his chest with his bare hands. Surely he would have used gloves when handling evidence left by the killer at a murder scene.
In previous episodes, Mulder is shown to carry two handguns: one in his belt and one on his ankle. When Mulder enters the Pentagon in this episode, he gives the security guard only the gun in his belt yet he is able to pass through the metal detector without setting off the alarm. Note to above goof: It is quite possible the metal detector doesn't work properly since Mulder is able to pass while he is talking in his cellphone. (Although the cell phone probably wasn't real, and a plastic cell phone wouldn't set off the detector.)
Cast and Characters
- Peter LaCroix (Nathaniel Teager) previously played Frank Druce in The X-Files episode "E.B.E." and Dwight in "Ascension".
- Larry Musser (Denny Markham) previously played Sheriff John Oakes in The X-Files episode "Die Hand Die Verletzt", Detective Manners in "José Chung's From Outer Space" and Warden in the Millennium episode "The Thin White Line".
- Lesley Ewen (Renee Davenport) previously played Receptionist in The X-Files episode "Pilot", Agent #1 in "Gender Bender" and Carina Maywald in "Revelations".
- Ryan Michael (Agent Cameron Hill) previously played Overcoat Man in The X-Files episode "One Breath".
- Mark Holden (Agent Eugene Chandler) previously played Agent Clark in Millennium episode "The Thin White Line".
- Peter LaCroix as Nathaniel Teager
- Scott Hylands as Major General Benjamin Bloch
- Laurie Holden as Marita Covarrubias
- William Taylor as General Leitch
- William Nunn as General Jon Steffan
- Allan Franz as Dr. Ben Keyser
- Jen Jasey as Female Private
- Mark Holden as Agent Eugene Chandler
- Don McWilliams as P.F.C. Gus Burkholder
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