Directed by Kim Manners
Summary written by Shannon
Datestamp: No visible date given. However, references to recent events indicate the time is around the time of the actual airdate: November 29th, 1998. The concluding episode in this two-parter shows the November issue of the Lone Gunmen's magazine, as the current issue.
Highway 375, Rural Nevada, 11:17 p.m.: A lone car drives along a deserted highway, passing a sign reading "WARNING! U.S. MILITARY INSTALLATION -- Do Not Enter -- Restricted Access -- Use of Deadly Force is Authorized." We then see that the car is driven by Mulder, with Scully in the passenger seat.
Mulder looks at Scully, then says, "Outpost 134. Two miles to go."
Scully (dryly): "I'm all a-tingle."
Scully then asks about the legitimacy of Mulder's "clandestine source," the apparent reason for their late-night journey through the desert, wondering how they can know that "his encyclopedic knowledge of extraterrestrial life isn't derived exclusively from reruns of 'Star Trek.'"
Mulder: "Because of where this particular 'crackpot' works. Groom Lake. Area 51. Where the military has conducted for ..."
Scully: "For the past 50 years, classified experiments involving extraterrestrial technology."
Mulder insists that the proof they need is on the base and that his source is their best chance to get their hands on it. Scully counters that it's been that "dim hope" that's kept them on the road "for more nights than I care to remember."
"Driving ... through neighborhoods and cities and towns," Scully says, her voice growing ever more wistful, "where people are raising families and buying homes and playing with their kids and their dogs. In short, living their lives. While we, we ... we just keep drivin'."
Mulder: "What is your point?"
Scully: "Don't you ever just want to stop? Get out of the damn car? Settle down and live something approaching a normal life?"
Mulder: "This ... is ... a normal life."
They are unable to pursue their conversation, however, as headlights suddenly appear on the road behind the car; more approach from the opposite direction.
Mulder: "I don't know if we're gonna meet that crackpot after all."
Mulder brings the car to a stop as a group of white Jeep Cherokees pulls up, blocking the road in both directions. A cadre of men wearing military-style fatigues but no insignia -- "cammo dudes," as they're nicknamed -- emerge from the vehicles, training weapons on the agents and ordering them from the car. The agents acquiesce, holding their hands in the air, and cross to stand in front of the car. Both are in casual clothes -- Mulder in a grey T-shirt and jeans, Scully in jeans, a tight-fitting shirt, and a lightweight jacket.
A man in a black suit (MIB?), smoking a cigarette, approaches from one of the vehicles. He asks them for identification, which they display. The man tells them they are trespassing on government property.
MIB: "You're gonna have to turn around and leave immediately."
Mulder: "Why? It's a public highway."
MIB: "It also borders on a U.S. government testing ground."
He asks what they're doing there, growing more insistent when they don't answer. Mulder finally asks what the other man's doing there, but Scully interrupts with her own questions: "Hiding top-secret test flights? Using technology from UFOs?"
"Flying saucers," the man says derisively, laughing. "I got top secret for you," he says, leaning in toward Mulder. "There's no such thing as flying saucers."
Scully reaches for Mulder's arm to propel him back into the car, but as she does, a bright light appears on the horizon, approaching at what seems to be an agonizingly slow rate. The group looks up as the craft passes overhead, and the air ripples and shifts around them. As Mulder brings his eyes back down to ground level, he is looking at Scully from the position of the man who had been questioning them -- and the man is now standing next to Scully, wearing the T-shirt and jeans Mulder had been wearing, his hand on her arm, as Mulder's had been before the craft passed overhead. Scully, however, does not see this, addressing the other man as "Mulder" and urging him back into the car. The real Mulder realizes he's now wearing the other man's suit and watches, stunned, as Scully and the imposter climb into the car and pull away.
[Note: Given the timing of the scene, can we assume the actual switch takes place at 11:21 p.m.?]
The credits roll: The truth is out there.
Still on the highway, Mulder watches Scully and the imposter driving away and calls after them. One of the security steps forward, asking "open fire"? Mulder immediately grabs for the barrel of the weapon, yelling "No!" He then adds, "Let 'em go."
He turns back face the man, who asks, "Your orders, sir?" Confused and wary of saying the wrong thing, Mulder answers, "I wanna get out of here."
He follows the others back to the vehicles, climbing into the front seat of the one the other man left. Two other men in black suits are in the back seat, slightly confused by Mulder's actions. They address him as "Morris," and one asks why he let the pair go. Mulder doesn't know how to answer, finally saying, "They didn't know anything."
The man continues to questions Mulder's actions, but the other man jumps in, insisting that "we can't just disappear a couple of FBI agents, Howard. We'll get their own people to deal with them. That's what Morris was thinking." Mulder nods to show his agreement.
The Jeeps return to the base, where Mulder has to bluff his way through entry, discovering in the process that his name is Morris Fletcher and that his ID is imprinted with the word MAJESTIC in red letters. We see a brief shot of him through a security system, and the face is that of the MIB who left with Scully.
Mulder follows Howard and the other MIB down a hallway, where they notice a general on the phone in an office. The second MIB refers to the general as "Wegman" and wonders what he's doing in so late; Howard says something must be going on and that he's going to check it out.
Mulder then follows the second man down the hall, watching him use his ID badge to enter his office. He continues down and sees two security men walking toward him; looking behind him, he discovers he's outside Fletcher's office and lets himself in.
In the office, he looks over the groupings of family photos sitting on the credenza behind the desk, then scrutinizes the pictures on the wall, showing Fletcher with Newt Gingrich, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and even Saddam Hussein.
Still in shock, Mulder nearly tips over the chair as he sits down, then murmurs "Scully" and picks up the phone, apparently to call her.
Around the same time, Scully and "Mulder" pull into a gas station. Scully asks "Mulder" if he's all right, since he hasn't said anything since they left the men on the highway. He insists he's fine, then adds, "Gas cap's on your side." Scully is taken aback, but climbs from the car anyway, murmuring, "Okay ... if you don't want to talk about it."
She begins to operate the pump, when her cell phone rings in the car. She calls out to "Mulder" but he either ignores her or can't hear her, so she gets back into the car to answer the phone.
Unfortunately, as she's answering, the second MIB has entered Fletcher's office, and Mulder is forced to hang up.
As Scully is getting out of the car, "Mulder" calls out, "Oh, Dana?" She looks back into the car, stunned, and he says, "Wanna pick me up a pack of Morleys, please?"
Scully: "Since when do you smoke?"
"Mulder": "You're not gonna be a Nazi about it, are you?"
Back at the base, the second MIB is ranting to Mulder about a security leak from inside -- Mulder's informant. He tells Mulder that the phone records show whoever it was used the guest phone in General Wegman's office to call the FBI that morning.
The phone on his desk rings, and Mulder answers, reluctantly. It's Fletcher's wife, mad at him for being out late again. Mulder answers vaguely and assures her he'll be home soon. When he hangs up, the other man ribs him about the call from home and says, "Let's go home."
Mulder rides with the other MIB, who drops him in front of Fletcher's house. Mulder goes inside, then almost immediately to the phone to call Scully. But when he picks up, he gets a base operator, not a direct line, and decides against calling and risking a record of it.
Instead, he goes upstairs, where he looks into the master bedroom to see Mrs. Fletcher there, asleep. Cringing slightly, he carefully closes the door and opts for the recliner in front of the television downstairs, channel surfing until he finds a porn channel to watch.
At 2:04 a.m., the same morning, another Jeep pulls up at an apparent crash site, with fire and smoke rising from debris and swarms of men spread out around the location. General Wegman alights from the Jeep and is approached by Howard, who fills him in on the crash. The craft was on a routine flight when it "suddenly lost altitude at 2317 hours over Highway 375" -- the same time and place where Scully and Mulder were stopped earlier. Howard adds that they don't know what happened but have recovered the flight data recorder.
The two crewmen on the flight survived, but each is in an unusual situation. One has been embedded in a large boulder -- in the same way crew members participating in the U.S. Navy's Project Rainbow, aka "The Philadelphia Experiment," were alleged to have been embedded into the deck of their ship during a 1943 test. The other man, while physically unharmed, is apparently in some kind of shock, rocking back and forth and speaking an unidentified language.
Back in Washington the next morning, Scully waits for Mulder in Kersh's outer office, at one point reassuring Kersh's assistant that "I'm sure he's on his way." When "Mulder" finally appears, he passes right by the office, and Scully has to call out to stop him. She asks where he's been, and he says he got "a little lost on my way in."
Scully (in a flat voice): "You got lost."
"Mulder": "I'm just a little, you know, little lost in my head."
In Kersh's office, the pair stand before the desk as Kersh rakes them for their unauthorized trip to Nevada. "Mulder" says they were contacted by a source, and when Kersh asks who, "Mulder," to Scully's amazement, replies, "Oh, if I had the name, I'd give it to you."
"Mulder" then apologizes and assures Kersh nothing like that will ever happen again. Scully is stunned, and even Kersh is taken aback.
Outside the office, Scully stops "Mulder" and asks what's going on with him -- specifically, why he would have given up his informant's name.
Scully: "Whatever happened to protecting our contacts? Protecting our work?"
"Mulder" brushes her off, and she's left to watch, still in shock, as he goes back in and has a private, intimate word with Kersh's assistant. When Scully questions this, telling him he's acting "bizarre," "Mulder" asks cheekily if she's jealous, then pats her on the rear as he walks away.
Back at the Fletcher home, Mulder is rudely awakened by an enraged woman, and, in his sleep-addled state, he asks, "Scully?" But the woman is Fletcher's wife, Joanne, and she demands to know who "Scully" is, then rails at him for his choice of programming.
Joanne: "What if Chris or Terry had come down here first? Seen their father being a pervert? Did that ever occur to you?"
Mulder shakes himself, then follows her, asking if she's seen his car keys. A teenage girl comes downstairs, and Mulder erroneously refers to her as "Terry," sending her into a crying jag. Then he insults the son, Terry, by using that name instead of his preferred "Terrence."
Mulder follows Terrence into the kitchen and is brought up short by the display of slightly dysfunctional domesticity -- the kids at the table, sulking, while their mother angrily flounces her way through making breakfast. He goes for the keys on the counter, but Joanne insists she's "taking the minivan," so he finally just asks, "Don't I have my own car?"
Joanne isn't fazed, and Mulder is relieved when she tells Chris to give him his keys. The girl drops them on the floor, and Mulder picks them up and goes to make his escape, but Joanne stops him, saying he'd promised to make a decision about Chris' "nose" that morning. Clueless, he finally says, "I think she's a little young for plastic surgery, don't you think?"
Chris collapses in tears as Joanne blasts him -- it was about a nose ring, not a nose job. Chris screams that she hates him and wishes he was dead.
Mulder: "Well, my work here is done."
He again tries to leave, but Joanne follows, asking if he wants a divorce. He insists he doesn't, apologizing and saying he's "not myself lately." He opens the door, but Joanne points out that he's wearing his suit from the day before, so he heads upstairs to change. There, he discovers a closet full of identical black suits to choose from. His comment: "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Johnny Cash" -- the "man in black."
Removing the dirty suit and shirt, Mulder is confronted by his reflection in the mirror -- that of Morris Fletcher, the man whose body he is inhabiting. Disbelieving, Mulder goes through an intricate series of machinations in front of the mirror, starting with simple waves and facial expressions and culminating in a comical display of "dance moves," with the reflection following him perfectly [well, nearly so]. He is in the middle of this when Joanna enters with a phone call for him; he tries to cover by slipping into a "Karate Kid"-like set of movements before taking the phone.
The call is from Jeff, the second MIB, who tells him to hurry up and get in, they have a "something big going down."
At the base, the unharmed pilot from the crash, being held in an isolation cell, is now chanting in the foreign language. General Wegman asks what he's saying and is informed that the words have been identified as Hopi, a Native American dialect. The pilot is Captain Robert McDonough, but he claims to be Mrs. Lana Chee, a 75-year-old Hopi Indian woman who lives on a nearby reservation. The men then proceed to the next cell, which holds the woman in question, picked up from the reservation. Mrs. Chee immediately springs to attention and begins to report in crisp military style, identifying herself as McDonough and apologizing for being out of uniform.
Apparently, Mulder and Fletcher were not the only ones affected by whatever event occurred.
Back in Washington, Scully and "Mulder" are at their desks in the bullpen, "Mulder" playing computer golf, to Scully's disgust. Her phone rings -- it's the real Mulder, calling from a roadside phone booth, although Scully thinks it's a prank call, or possibly Mulder's informant. She questions the caller, motioning for "Mulder" to pick up. When the call ends, Scully wants to trace it because "Mulder" indicates it wasn't the source, but he replies that they should tell Kersh, calling her "little lady" in the process and telling her to get "her panties on straight." He then leaves, and Scully falls back in her seat, stunned.
Back in Nevada, at a roadside gas station -- apparently the same one Scully and "Mulder" stopped at the night before -- Mulder buys a big bag of sunflower seeds, leaving his dime and penny change for the store owner. Just after he pulls out of the parking lot -- managing to spill a handful of seeds on the ground in the process -- a wind begins to blow, and the building starts to shake as if in an earthquake. The two coins Mulder left behind dance on the glass countertop; then a brilliant light appears, and the store's glass door and front windows implode.
Back on the road to the base a short time later, Mulder meets up at a stop sign with another group of white Jeep Cherokees. One stops, and the driver, Jeff, calls out for him to just turn around and follow them, which he does. When he backs into a bare spot to turn, we see a pair of tall crosses, covered with flowers, notes, and other mementos -- some sort of roadside memorial.
Back down the road, the caravan pulls into the parking lot of the gas station, now in shambles and with gasoline spilled on the ground. Ignoring the danger, Mulder dashes inside, looking for the attendant, but stops in amazement when he finds him -- the man is alive but has been embedded in the floor up to his waist.
Mulder insists they can't leave the man there alive, but before he can react, one of the security men pulls his weapon and shoots the clerk, killing him. They leave the store, and Howard orders that they burn it. Jeff then guides Mulder away from the structure as it goes up in flames.
Meanwhile, at Mulder's apartment building, Scully walks down the hall toward Mulder's apartment, only to spy Kersh's assistant in the doorway, giggling and in a state of disarray. She pulls away and greets Scully, who continues up and knocks on the door. "Mulder" opens it, also a bit rumpled, and Scully, angry, informs him that the trace on the call she received that morning showed it came from a phone booth near Groom Lake. She thinks it's his informant, but he blows it off.
Scully: "You don't think we should follow up on this?"
"Mulder": "Are you out of your pretty little mind?"
Scully (incredulous): "Am I out of my mind? Mulder, you are out of your mind! What is up with you? I'm thinking about having you examined for mental illness or ... or drug use or ... or maybe a massive head injury! (Holding up file): "This is an X-file! Your life's work. Your crusade!"
"Mulder": "As I understand it, we're off the X-files."
Completely stunned, Scully leaves, and as "Mulder" looks in the mirror to straighten his tie, he says, "Bitch."
Back at the base, Mulder and the other men view a specimen in a cage -- a lizard whose tail has been embedded in a rock, found ten miles east of the gas station. They study a map showing the location of the events in question; where the lizard was found; the crash site; the site where the Native American woman was; the gas station; and the apparent "ground zero" -- the same spot along Highway 375 where Mulder, Scully, and the others were two nights before.
Howard theorizes that the craft, operating in gravity pulse mode (flying using an anti-gravity field), malfunctioned and caused a tear in the space-time continuum. This tear has allowed two different types of matter to exist in the same time and place, resulting in the gruesome combinations of man and rock, man and flooring, and lizard and rock.
Jeff insists that it's impossible, because they were at "ground zero" and saw nothing. Howard says that's proof, and Mulder puts in, "Lost time." Howard backs him up, saying lost time is common near anti- gravity propulsion systems, and adds that it's possible they suffered "consequences we're not fully aware of."
Mulder is visibly both repulsed and fascinated by the whole situation.
Mulder: "What do we do about it?"
Howard: "Well, that's your department. Keep it out of the paper, make sure the witnesses disappear."
Mulder: "Well, yeah, but I mean ... how do we reverse it? How do we get the lizard out of the rock?"
Howard: "Who says we can?"
At 10:12 that night, a car travels on Highway 375, driven by Scully, who's alone and studying a map. Something catches her eye and she stops, then backs up and swerves into a parking lot, which turns out to be the gas station, now a smoldering ruin. She gets out to look around and spots something shiny on the ground. Picking it up, she sees it's a dime and penny, molded together at right angles (apparently the change Mulder left for the clerk earlier in the day).
The next morning, Mulder is back at the Fletcher home, asleep in the recliner. Joanne awakens him even more angrily than the day before, ranting that he's not attracted to her any more and calling their marriage a farce. She then says he keeps saying the name "Scully" in his sleep and demands to know if it's another woman. Mulder's answer: "Does 'Scully' sound like a woman's name to you?"
Mulder then attempts to explain his distraction, saying he's under a lot of pressure. Joanne misunderstands -- she thinks he's trying to say that he's impotent, and is actually happy because it's something treatable. ("They have that pill now!")
Then the doorbell rings, and Joanne answers it -- only to face Scully. When Scully introduces herself, Joanne's rage returns. She calls Mulder to the door, and when he gets there -- smiling widely to see who it is -- Joanna slaps him across the face and calls him a son of a bitch.
Mulder pulls Scully outside, closing the door, and tries to convince her it's really him -- as Joanne screams out the door at him and throws his suitcase and clothes on the front steps. Scully recognizes him from the group that stopped them on the highway, and he's trying to tell her that he and Fletcher switched bodies when he catches a glimpe of his reflection -- Fletcher -- in the car window and realizes she's not going to believe him.
Mulder: "Of course you don't believe me. Why was I expecting anything different? Determined, he starts reciting facts about her, skipping over her badge number but giving her name, her mother's name and her brother's name, adding that "he hates me."
No reaction from Scully.
Mulder: "Lately for lunch you've been having, like, this little six-ounce cup of yogurt, plain yogurt, into which you stir some bee pollen[!], because you're on some kind of bee pollen kick, even though I tell you you're a scientist and you should know better."
Scully: "Look, any of that information could have been gathered by anyone."
Mulder: "Even that yogurt thing?? ... That is so you. That is so Scully. Well, it's good to know you haven't changed. It's somewhat comforting."
The "yogurt thing" has obviously shaken Scully up, but she still insists that anyone could have gotten that information and refuses to believe him. He offers "scientific proof" of what happened, and when she walks away, he calls after her, insisting he'll prove everything to her, "tonight."
At the base, a phone rings, and it's answered by Howard. The caller is the fake Mulder, who tells Howard he knows who the security leak is.
Later, Mulder enters the darkened room where the evidence from the "event" is being stored. He looks around the room, then spies what he's looking for: the flight data recorder from the crashed craft. He slips the box into a brown paper bag and leaves the room -- but Howard has been watching him from the shadows.
Around the same time, Scully is driving again 375 when Kersh calls, ordering her to follow his instructions "to the letter" -- or to not bother coming back from Nevada.
That evening, Mulder arrives at Ahearn's Service Station in Lincoln County, carrying the bag. He ignores the clerk when he asks if he can help him and looks around, seeing Scully at the drink case. Grinning, he indicates the bag and tells her he's got the proof. Scully simply looks at him, unsmiling; Mulder's own smile falls away, as the clerk ducks behind the counter and headlights come up in the windows. He realizes he's been set up.
Men storm the building, taking Mulder into custody. He looks at Scully, who says, "I'm sorry," and Mulder asks, "Scully? You?"
As he's being led away, Mulder looks back to see the fake Mulder approaching Scully. He starts fighting against his captors, yelling that the imposter set him up and imploring Scully to believe him, saying "Scully! Would I do this?" -- in reference to the fake Mulder turning in an informant.
Scully is moved by his distress, and seems to begin to believe ...
FADE TO BLACK ... TO BE CONTINUED ...
|| THE WINNERS' CIRCLE ||
|| CHEMICAL REACTION
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