Wait — was that Haley Joel Osment? Find out the role he plays in one of ‘The X-Files’ best episodes of the season by reading our recap! Warning: this episode is NOT for the squeamish.
Oooh, a Skinner episode! We open this week’s episode of The X-Files back in the Vietnam War, when a terrified American marine named John (Haley Joel Osment, surprise!) is tasked with carrying a case with “MK Naomi” on it through the jungle with his bespectacled comrade. As our poindexter friend rushes back into the field to help a fallen fellow soldier, John’s mysterious case is shot, releasing a yellow, noxious gas. It makes him paranoid and he hallucinates, telling the guy with the glasses that, “the monsters are here.” The friend’s last words before cutting to present day? “It’s me, Skinner!”
Yes!! Any little detail we find out about Skinner’s personal life always leads to some extravagant, awesome mystery, and this tidbit is no exception. Mulder and Scully are pulled into the bureau by the top director (James Pickens Jr., aka Richard from Grey’s Anatomy), who informs them that Skinner’s gone AWOL — and he doesn’t buy that they don’t know where he is. They head to Skinner’s apartment, where they discover something gruesome: a severed ear wrapped in newspaper next to a note that reads, “the monsters are here.” OMG.
The discovery leads them to a small town called Mud Lick, where one of Skinner’s Vietnam buddies has been found dead. The man was found dead in the woods, caught in a hunting trap. Oh, and he’s missing an ear, along with some teeth. So, was that severed ear his, or Skinner’s? The sheriff tells Mulder and Scully that people have reported seeing a monster out in the woods.
Guess who else has been spotted in the woods? Walter Skinner! Another Vietnam vet named Banjo is found in those same woods, impaled on bamboo sticks in a hunting trap. You guessed it: he’s missing an ear and some teeth. There’s a deer cam pointing at the trap, and when the footage is reviewed, they see Skinner leaning over the body. Mulder and Scully are convinced that he didn’t kill the man, or at least they’re in denial. Forwarding the tape shows that there is what appears to be a monster there, the same that John described in Vietnam before trying to stab Skinner: large like a bear, huge horns like a deer. Is Skinner actually a monster?
Finally, we see things from Skinner’s perspective. Our favorite G-Man hikes to a trailer in a deserted part of the woods, looking for John. He thought he was dead, until he received a letter from him a week prior. Haley Joel Osment/John is there, but this time he’s playing his own son — and this guy hates Skinner. Apparently, after Vietnam, his testimony in court led to his dad being locked in a mental institution for 38 years. You know, because of seeing monsters everywhere. John’s son claims that he can bring Skinner to see him to apologize, but it’s a trap. Literally.
John leads him to the woods, where his father is hanging from a tree in his Marines dress uniform. As Skinner cries and moves toward his old friend, he falls into a huge trap, impaling his leg on a spear. John covers it, leaving him to die. He’s lucky though, that Mulder and Scully decide that this is the next place they’re going to investigate. John tells them all about the gas that led to his father’s mental problems, that he wasn’t crazy; the government was just trying to control his mind. Obviously, Mulder’s on board with that story, but he still has a bad feeling about the kid.
As they leave, Mulder tells Scully to drive off to get a cell signal while he finds Skinner. And he does, pretty easily — right after finding a monster costume in the closet. John’s son, dressed as the monster of his father’s nightmares, pushes Mulder into the hole with Skinner and douses them with gasoline. As he’s about to throw the match, Scully shoots him. Honestly, these two would be nowhere without her.
The end of the episode is a heartwarming family reunion. Skinner ensures them that they aren’t responsible for him not moving up in the FBI over the past few decades. In fact, them coming into his life gave him new hope, because they “had the guts to shine the lights into the darkest corners.” They’re the reason he stayed with the bureau in the first place. Just when we’re drying our tears, we shift over to Mud Lick, where cases labeled “MK Naomi” are being hauled into a plane. That’s right, kids: chemtrails are real and they’re being used to mind control the citizens of a small Kentucky town.
New episodes of The X-Files air Wednesdays at 8:00pm on Fox.
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