Scully, Doggett and Reyes encounter a mysterious, disfigured man who claims to have had contact with Mulder, and Scully gives her baby up for adoption.
Mrs. Van De Kamp sweeps around the front door until her husband chides her about all this unnecessary cleaning. She seems upset and he goes over to her. She doesn’t understand why someone would give up a child for adoption. Mr. Van De Kamp merely says God has his reasons and his ways. They turn to see a car driving up a dirt road to their home.
Two women, both social workers, step out of the car and say how difficult it was to find the house. The younger woman carries an infant out of the backseat of the car. Mrs. Van De Kamp wonders as to the health of the child but the older social worker assures her the baby is healthy and the mother needed to give up the child for his own good. They hand the child over and introduce him as William.
Agent John Doggett steps out of the office but returns because he seems to have forgotten something. When he returns, he picks up the file he left on the floor as a man attacks him from behind. He is knocked down temporarily, kicked a few times, but he gets back up and pursues the fleeing man. He draws his sidearm and commands him to stop. The man turns and slowly steps back towards Doggett with his hands up. Doggett’s expression suggests horror at the man’s face.
Scully speaks with Agent Monica Reyes on her arrival at the room where they are holding the man. Reyes recounts that they were told the man is named Daniel Miller, he was a victim of the alien conspiracy, and he is severely burned and will only talk with them while the lights are out. Scully goes in and questions the man, learning he knew Mulder and was sent there to find files. He got in using a keycard supposedly given by Mulder. Scully suspects the whole story to be a web of lies but she asks to examine the man’s burns to explore the claim that they are the result of something done to him.
Scully removes the man’s wig, fake eyebrows, prosthetic ears and nose, to look more clearly upon the horrific disfiguration of the man. When Scully mentions that the scarring is not from burns or acid, Miller claims to have been injected with something than made him burn inside and outside. Doggett arrives with the information that he is not Daniel Miller from Pennsylvania as he had claimed. He theorizes that Miller is actually Fox Mulder and that is how he got in.
Scully refuses to accept this but is uncomfortable when she returns to study Miller’s scarring. She draws his blood and discusses what the man expects them to do and why he gave a false name. He claims he used a false name because his true identity would invite death upon him from certain people still at the FBI.
They take him to the X-files unit but the scarred man can’t find the files he sought. Miller claims a new conspiracy has formed after the previous one was destroyed; the new one being hidden within the government and the people involved being alien. The injection he received failed to transform him into one of the aliens.
Scully had already removed the files and she gives them to him in her home in Georgetown. Miller checks on William when he starts crying but Scully is concerned about this stranger going into the infant’s room. He explains that Mulder would like to return but can’t and asks to hold the child for a moment. Scully seems to think the man is Mulder when he picks up William and the baby quiets.
Assistant Director Skinner meets with Doggett and discusses the idea of the man they captured being Mulder. Skinner points out that the man is shorter and weighs less than Mulder. Also that he would know those files inside and out if he were the actual Fox Mulder. When the lab calls with a definite result on the DNA tests, Skinner needs to know where Miller is right now.
Scully accuses the man of being Mulder and that he knew the files were in the apartment but feigned lack of knowledge because he wanted to be brought to William. Miller tells her that William is part-alien and she is being used to raise the child. Scully demands he confess his true name but Reyes appears and asks the man to step outside. Doggett enters the room and tells her the DNA is a match to Mulder but Scully still can’t believe it. Soon after, Doggett notices Miller has escaped the home in Georgetown and he catches him. He says they will protect him now, calling him Mulder by name.
After Miller is given sleeping pills, he turns in. Doggett and Reyes comfort Scully about what they believe is a disfigured Mulder, though Scully still doubts.
Miller never took the pills and quietly slips into William’s room with a syringe. Though William’s crying alerts them to something going on, Miller returns to his bed before they reach William.
Reyes and Scully take the baby to the hospital while Doggett threatens Miller and finds the syringe and other equipment. The doctor reports that William is fine except for a puncture mark on his neck and an elevated amount of iron in his blood.In interrogation, Scully confronts Miller about his motives. She reveals that Miller is none other than the son of the Cigarette-Smoking Man and half-brother of Fox Mulder, Jeffrey Spender: a man who all believed was shot and killed by CSM years ago. She confirms that Spender never spoke with Mulder and planned everything to get to William and inject him with the unknown metal compound. He knew a non-comprehensive DNA test would make them think he was Mulder since they share half their alleles.
Spender admits to this and says the metal compound was magnetite and meant to make William normal. The aliens needed the child and now they have lost him through this change. However, he knows the conspirators will always pursue the child despite what he has done. He acted out of his hatred of his father since the new conspiracy was founded by the Cigarette-Smoking Man after the alien rebels burned the original group.
Reyes talks with Scully over William about how Spender lied and that she shouldn't think they can’t protect him. Scully believes that she can’t protect him and that William should have a better life.
The Van De Kamps tuck in their new son. William looks at the mobile but he can no longer move it telekinetically. He is safe. He is normal. He is free.
- Near the start of this episode, Scully sings a song entitled "Joy to the World" that she also sang to Mulder while they were stuck in a forest in the Season 5 episode "Detour".
- This episode marks the final appearance of William as a child.
- In an uncredited appearance, David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) appears very briefly, reflected in Scully's eye.
- This episode features Jeffrey Spender in the character's ninth and penultimate appearance. Because his identity is supposed to be a surprise, Chris Owens' "Special Guest Star" credit isn't listed until the end credits sequence.
- Footage of the experiments conducted on Jeffrey Spender would later be used in the series finale, "The Truth".
- This episode uses footage of the Cigarette Smoking Man shooting Jeffrey Spender in the Season 6 episode "One Son".
Other Episode Notes
- The flag in the opening sequence and the mobile seen in the final scene show a white buffalo, which had a symbolic meaning to Albert Hosteen and the Native Americans in Season Three. White buffalo were said to portend great changes.
- In the opening of this episode, outside the farmhouse where William is sent, there is a Wyoming state flag blowing in the wind.
- Spender chose the last name "Miller" as his alias while pretending to have been in contact with Mulder. Mulder is a Dutch name and also means miller.
- A crew member can be seen moving in the background behind Agent Reyes as she leans back on the couch, in the scene where the three agents discuss Miller/Spender whilst he sleeps. (This was corrected as being agent Doggett's hand)
- Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully
- Robert Patrick as Special Agent John Doggett
- Annabeth Gish as Special Agent Monica Reyes
- Mitch Pileggi as Assistant Director Walter Skinner
- Cyd Strittmatter as Dr. Whitney Edwards
- James Riker as Baby William
- Travis Riker as Baby William
- Chris Owens as Daniel Miller/Jeffrey Spender
- Adam Nelson as Mr. Van De Kamp
- Shannon Hile as Mrs. Van De Kamp
- David Fabrizio as ER Physician
- Dallas Munroe as ER Nurse
- Annie Abbott as Older Social Worker
- Kiersten Van Horne as Young Social Worker
- Dan Shor as Second ER Nurse
- Jason Waters as The Breather Photo Double