Mulder’s Big Adventure (season one, pilot episode)

“Pilot” – 1×73

Episode summary:
A girl dies in the woods in Oregon. FBI Agent Dana Scully is assigned to the X-Files — whether as a balancing scientific force or as a spy is less than clear. Her partner, Agent Fox Mulder, lays out the case of the dead girl, whose corpse bore a strange pair of dots on the lower back consistent with previous casefiles. The two travel to Oregon, where they investigate several members (living and dead) of the local high school class of 1989. After another mysterious death, they eventually encounter one of these kids, the erstwhile comatose Billy Miles, in the woods amidst a mysterious bright light. They return to the FBI with scant substantiating evidence of what they’ve seen.

The following picture is inspired by actual text…

Facebook accounts, specifically.

We see a girl running, panicked, through the woods, tumbling and scraping herself on vegetation as she flees from whatever the heck she’s fleeing from.

This girl isn’t very good at running through the woods.

And then there’s a bright light, and a figure, and we fade to white — and then it’s morning, and the girl is laying dead on the forest floor. Scene!

Assignment: X-Files

Special Agent Dana Scully.
It’s Dana Scully!
She’s wearing pants!

Okay, so: Scully has been at the FBI for two years, recruited out of medical school. She has heard of Fox Mulder, who is supposedly a brilliant profiler and who is sometimes referred to as ‘Spooky Mulder’. She also knows of the So-Called X-Files. She’s being put on that assignment by this honcho guy, Blevins.

A shady-looking character.

And there’s a guy standing around in the background, listening to all this and smoking a cigarette. A…cigarette-smoking man. Hmm.

Mulder, Scully. Scully, Mulder.

They meet! With a firm handshake. And he’s calling her “Scully” already. He’s read her thesis. When she walks in, he’s sorting his goddam slides. Look at all that stuff on his wall! And he’s wearing glasses.

The glasses make him look like the dork character in an anime.

Ooh, a slideshow!

The first of many.
He didn’t pronounce Oregon right.
He says OH-ruh-gone.

And he calls her “Dr. Scully”, now. Is he being sarcastic? Theatrical? Just kind of rude? And look at that hair. He stole that hair right off of Conan O’Brien.

Mulder points out the pair of spots on his slides of the victim, and connects them to some previous cases…

Ha. He connects the dots.

…and asks Scully what she thinks. She brainstorms a few possible explanations, and then asks:

Do you have a theory?

I have plenty of theories.

In my pants!

And so the whole show is defined.

A visit to Oregon

And then they fly to Oregon. Because that’s what the FBI does.

Dana, up close and personal.

We note that Scully is wearing reading glasses. Does she suffer from hyperopia? Or does she just wear them to look smart? Her hair is worn straight and pretty much unstyled. She wears a little silver cross hanging around her neck — a religious type? Her blouse is chastely buttoned to the very top. And, notably, she can read on planes without vomiting.

Suddenly the plane goes a little crazy — serious turbulence and some sudden drop in altitude, cabin shaking, etc.

No snakes.

Everybody looks like they’re a little worried they might die, including Scully — but Mulder is unperturbed, napping across three seats. Flies a lot? Doesn’t value his life? Anyway, like a weirdo he grins and suggests that this must be the place.

Since they didn’t crash and die, the agents get a car and head to the scene.

*crunch crunch crunch SPIT crunch crunch crunch SPIT*

Is he chewing his fingernails? No, it appears that Agent Mulder is chewing on some sunflower seeds. Just driving along and chatting with Scully and chewin’ up the seeds. Question: does he just really, really like sunflower seeds? Does he eat them when he’s nervous? Bored? It seems like the sort of thing you might see from an ex-smoker, too. Oral fixation?

Suddenly, the car’s electronics go nuts. Mulder stops, gets out, goes to the trunk, pulls out a can of spraypaint, and draws an X on the road. Not a word of explanation. I think at this point Scully would have every right to wonder what the hell all that was about.

What the hell was that about?


At the cemetary

Mulder and Scully meet a local police detective at the graveyard, for…the digging up of a previous victim’s body.

Oh look, we’re gonna need an exhume tag.
I say we call it ‘exhumation’, ju–oh holy crap, they dropped the coffin!
This is a very exhumorous scene.

Reactions to the spilled coffin vary.
Mulder seems pretty entertained by this whole coffin-rolling-down-the-hill thing.
He looks like that guy who keeps trying to kill himself.
Owen Wilson?
Yeah. That’s probably not the most polite way to put it. If Owen Wilson reads this blog and kills himself, I’m going to feel terrible.
Mulder is totally mocking the corpse of this dead guy. That seems like kind of a dick move. I think Mulder might be a dick.

Autopsy! And autopsy hair: just a ponytail, straight back. And she’s wearing the glasses again. So I guess they’re reading/scalpeling glasses? I guess you’d usually wear goggles or something during an autopsy?

Upon examining the corpse, Scully says it’s not human. Mulder looks pleased with that conclusion. Scully speculates that it is a chimpanzee or something from the ape family.

Possibly an orangutan.


Later, Mulder knocks on Scully’s motel room door, stealthily mis-identifying himself as Steven Spielberg. This does not appear to fool Scully. She answers the door to find…this:

Mulder wearing hat backwards. He even LOOKS like Steven Spielberg.
I can’t even remember why he came by now.

Visiting with damaged children

Billy Miles, class of ’89

Mulder and Scully meet Billy Miles and Peggy O’Dell, two of the kids of the unlucky high school graduating class of 1989. Peggy is in a wheelchair, reading quietly to Billy, who is just sort of laying in bed and drooling. Peggy tells Mulder that Billy likes it when she reads to him — telepathy? Or just optimism?

For a guy who was laughing at a corpse earlier, Mulder’s pretty empathetic to this institutionalized girl.
She’s not a corpse, that’s why.

But then Mulder’s all “can we do an exam” on her and suddenly Peggy’s totally freakin’ out, but Billy is in a Waking Coma so that’s all good. And then: she gets a random nosebleed!

Our agents leave the hospital and have a nice argument in the parking lot. Mulder continues to insinuate alien abduction as a factor in what’s happened to these kids.

But to say that they’ve been riding around in flying saucers — Mulder, it’s crazy, there’s nothing to support that.

Nothing scientific, you mean.

Well, that’s pretty much what she’s getting at, yeah.

Later that night, in the woods…

They’re tromping around in the forest at night with flashlights. We see that Mulder’s compass is wildly, hopelessly gesticulating. The thing is not working right. Just flipping out like crazy. Hmm! And Scully finds some weird ashy powdery dirt stuff on the ground, near where the dead girl’s body was found.

Ooh! Creepy lights! And noise! Creepy unexplained noisy lights!


Scully pulls her gun out. To shoot at the creepy lights, presumably. Ooh, and Mulder’s got his gun now too. They’re pointing them at a humanoid figure. At first, it’s not clear who or what it is, but it turns out to be…the detective! NOT ALIENS. The detective guy from the graveyard. He has a shotgun too, but displays admirable restraint in not pointing it at them. He tells them to shoo, and they do.

Driving down the road and — oh crap, bright light, Mulder and Scully cover their eyes! Fade to white! And the car’s engine dies and it rolls to a stop — at the spot where Mulder spraypainted that big X before. He checks his watch: 9 minutes just went missing! Mulder is…really happy about this.


We lost what?

Nine minutes!

[gleeful noises]

Back at the motel

We get a nice Doogie Howser extreme closeup of Scully’s report on the situation:

[typing] Agent Mulder’s insistence of time loss, due to unknown forces’, cannot be validated or substantiated by this witness

Wait, forces’? Lady, that’s a plural, not a possessive. You put that apostrophe away.

The power goes out. Okay, it’s clearly time for a candlelit shower scene. Conveniently, this motel in Oregon provides fancy emergency candles.

Cheesecake: Scully in a bra! And undies! And she’s going to take the undies off, but, wait, something’s wrong! Something on her back?

Why do they call it cheesecake, anyway?

So she slaps on a bathrobe and knocks on Mulder’s door to have him look at whatever the something is. He has a candle too! Convenient.

[Disrobes, turns away from Mulder]

What are they?

[Stares at Scully's butt]

Mulder, what are they?

[time passes]

Mosquito bites.

So not the same weird pair of dots as on the dead girl. Whew! And the she hugs him! Man, I bet they’ll be sleeping together inside of a week, eh?

Mulder pours out his heart: he has a sister, named Samantha. When they were kids (he was 12, she was 8) she disappeared. He feels strongly that she was, in fact, abducted!

More on Mulder: He went to school in England! Natural aptitude for applying behavioral models to criminal cases!

Cut to: some dude in the parking lot wearing a rain slicker. Skulking around.


Anyway, back to Mulder’s story. Found the X-Files, leveraged early success at the Bureau to make it his main project. Was fascinated by the case files, read them all. There’s information that the government has, vague, vague information that he vaguely needs. He’s being vaguely stymied by someone at a higher level of power. Mulder has vague friends in congress!

(Fun fact: in reality, the FBI does maintain some ‘unexplainable files’ — not so much unsolved cases as just every letter from a nutso crazy person they get — known as The Zero Files.)

Mulder mentions Dr, uh, Hertzverber? and…DEEP. REGRESSION. HYPNOSIS. Hell yes.

So like if you have to go somewhere but you don’t have a car.
Then you’d Hertz it.
Which would make you a Hertz-verber.

Mulder is pretty excitable when he’s remembering his sister’s abduction. And then a phone rings!

(Scully flinches visibly at this point. And, I mean, okay, Mulder’s telling a pretty spooky story and it’s a dark motel room and all, but still: she’s someone paid to carry and sometimes point and occasionally even intentionally fire a gun. She seems a little jumpy.)

[Into phone] Hello? What? Who is this? Who is th–

That was some woman. Just said Peggy O’Dell was dead.

Cut to the road side, where a cop is dramatically lighting a road flare in closeup. Then he walks over to the already well-delineated crime scene.

I think they already have enough flares.

So Peggy — Wheelchair Peggy, remember — reportedly strolled out into the road and got hit by a car. As the agents are struggling to wrap their minds around this, Mulder’s cellphone rings. Shocking news: somebody stole the corpse from the autopsy bay!

And THEIR MOTEL IS ON FIRE. X-rays, pictures gone! (Possibly a coverup by Scully herself, desperately ashamed of that “forces’” typo?) And some whiny girl, a Teresa Nemeth (class of ’89) wants their help! They hit a diner, where she tells them she wakes up in the woods sometimes, and she’s worried that she’s going be next. Has sort of a Shatner delivery going on: “I’m SCARED I might. DIE.”

Then her dad shows up. And now TERESA gets a random nosebleed! These kids sure have nose problems.

And oh hey, the detective guy? Detective MILES. As in BILLY Miles. WAKING COMA Miles.

Mulder and Scully want to exhume a couple more graves…but someone else already has! The graves are open and empty! Mulder fingers Billy!

Why would you say that. That’s terrible.

Mulder ACCUSES Billy. Scully is skeptical and points out that the kid is a vegetable. Mulder lays out his take on what happened.

Someone left the Scully / out in the raaaaaaaaain / ohhh noooo
5 in the morning, arguing next to an open grave. These people do not sleep right.
These people know how to PARTY.

Scully giggles in Mulder’s face during this whole “Peggy/Billy/abduction” spiel. Mulder is unperturbed by this. Runs with it. You get the feeling he’s kind of used that by now. Okay, and now Scully just pretty much laughs maniacally. Disbelief at Mulder’s theory? Disbelief at her own creeping acceptance of the idea? A little of column A, a little of column B?

In the hospital, Scully discovers that Billy Miles has…DIRTY FEET.

Nurse, on watching the comatose patients: “That’s not my aisle of the produce section.”

[eyes go BWAHHHH?]

Again, Mulder’s compassion is sort of funny here, considering all the corpse-mocking earlier.

Chris Carter presents: The Pointing-At-Each-Other Files

So, okay: Billy Miles has dirty feet, covered in the same weird substance Scully found in the woods. And Scully gets all excited about this. It’s compelling. Coma boy got up on his own two feet and murdered Wheelchair Peggy in the woods, or something like that! Credulity from the scientist. And then MULDER TALKS HER DOWN. Like, hey, you have to put this in a report, remember? And she’s all, oh. Yeah.

He likes her enough to protect her from a thrashing and a quick reassignment by Blevins, I guess. Better the friendly spy you know than whoever they send down next? We don’t know anything about this guy’s private life yet, of course; he could just be pretty lonely and like having a partner all of a sudden.

Back to the scene of the [first] crime

Injury! Somebody out-of-frame clocks Scully in the woods!

Aw, they hit her right in the woods!

It’s that darn Detective Miles again. And then he just runs off! There’s some really great music here too. Like a piano going dookita-DOOKITA dookita-DOOKITA. About three seconds of it. Over and over. Okay, maybe it’s not so great.

Billy Miles has kind of a Bobby Briggs From Twin Peaks thing going on.

So bright light, and then Billy is all not-comatose, and Teresa (who is with him) is all not-dead, and Billy’s WEIRD MYSTERY SPOTS ARE GONE. Mulder is as shocked as we are.

Scully, in the mean time? Totally missed it.

Mulder, what happened? There was a light…

It was incredible…

So were you.

She did not say that.

[heavy breathing]


Okay, but that I didn’t make up.

And now, Billy Miles undergoes DEEP. REGRESSION. HYPNOSIS. And it’s with Doctor Hertzberger!

Heitz Werber.


Billy describes implants, describes undergoing tests…

You know how I feel about tests?
How do you feel about tests?
I detest them.

Apparel: Scully is wearing a purse.

Wrapup: cigarette-smoking man deposits a mysterious metal nose implant recovered during the autopsy — THE ONLY REMAINING EVIDENCE NOT DESTROYED BY THE MOTEL FIRE — in a secret facility. IN THE PENTAGON OMG.

Fire safety! Knowing is half the battle.


So that was a pretty good pilot, I think.
It didn’t make sense, but it’s just preparing us for the rest of the show.
I like cheese.


  1. wimpdork Said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

    I have had “I Love You, Baby” stuck in my head for days now. Days!

  2. Chris Said,

    May 15, 2008 @ 12:32 am

    That was a pun-filled recap extravaganza. With recaps like these, it’s like I’m rewatching the series with you.

  3. fry1138 Said,

    May 15, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

    Brilliant, this was like a cross between a dvd directors commentary and mystery science theatre……
    Love the x-files…..i gotta read all of these.

  4. Esmeralda Said,

    May 15, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

    Xenu will avenge himself for such mockery.

  5. The Proprietors Said,

    May 15, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

    I have it from a reliable source that Xenu has trouble “following through” in the bedroom.

  6. ImpatientGirl Said,

    May 19, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

    This blog is awesome! I giggled and reminisced through the whole episode. I especially appreciate the attention to grammar. :-)

  7. Shalora Said,

    May 20, 2008 @ 2:09 am

    OMG it’s MST3KXFiles! Loving it! Saw a link in Esmeralda’s LJ and so very glad I clicked over. Time to recap before the new movie comes out this summer, eh? :)

    I do love the final “apparel” comment: Scully is wearing a purse.
    And nothing else? Just a purse? Dammit, how’d I miss that scene??? ;)

  8. The Proprietors Said,

    May 21, 2008 @ 7:49 am

    [Angela] Glad you like it. I guess I get pretty excited about changes in Scully’s wardrobe- so we end up taking notes on them while watching the episode. Then when we do the final writeup, there just isn’t anyplace to put it. Maybe we need a “Scully’s Fashion Tips” section.

    Scully’s tip of the day: “Oversized jackets are hot right now! Don’t let more than 3 inches of skirt show below your jacket hem, or you’re not professional enough for the FBI! Also, purses are an exceptional accessory to nudity!”

  9. Chel Said,

    May 21, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

    You’d yell at Scully for her apostrophe usage when you mispelled “cemetery”? For shame ;p

    Just thought I’d be an anal grammar freak, my bad *g*

    This was *EXTREMELY* entertaining, by the way.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who thought the nurse’s comment was a *bit* insensitive/politically incorrect (take your pick.) Must be how she coped.

  10. Lauren Said,

    May 22, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

    Oh shutup Chels. *pats your head* I’m an occasional grammar freak and I wasn’t going to mention it :P

  11. WBM Said,

    May 23, 2008 @ 8:26 pm


    >For a guy who was laughing at a corpse earlier, Mulder’s pretty empathetic to this institutionalized girl.
    >She’s not a corpse, that’s why.

    I think the operative term is *girl*. Ang was onto it when she pointed out the lack of corpseness, but failed to mention Mulder’s interest in non-corpse pussy. Wheelchair pussy can still be ridden.

    And I hope you turned down, rather than missed, the opportunity for a penis joke in the hat-wielding Spielberg caption.


    YAY Grammar Police! I has SRS crush now :D

    >Why do they call it cheesecake, anyway?

    Cuz cheesecake is tasty like Scully. And Mulder. But you didn’t read me type that last part. I will NOT admit to having a boy-crush.

    I’m more of a fan of Hertznouning. (ouch, that was a bit much, I’ll admit) Um… how about “Hertzverber is a man of ACTION!!!” ? No? Hmmm…

    Nosebleeds = it’s dry in OH-ruh-gone

    Psst – guys – I’ll type this quietly, but *open graves* & *party* don’t belong in the same two-line discussion… nah – I’m wrong – they TOTALLY do.

    (Esmeralda’s the bestest friend for pointing y’allz out)

  12. That's what she Said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 10:17 am

    great blog. Hilarious and makes me want to rewatch.

  13. wendelah1 Said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 11:29 am

    This is the best recap of the pilot I have read in at least a couple of months. I loved it. Now I am going to read the rest of the entries and send my friends over, too.

  14. The Proprietors Said,

    July 3, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

    [Josh] Hi, wendelah1! Thanks, and welcome (to you and your friends) aboard. Glad you’re liking it.

  15. joycexu Said,

    October 25, 2008 @ 10:09 am

    hello ,i am a girl from china,i love watching x files because of its amercian humour and spooky story..but some things is just unreal ,from the view of a chinese.for example,you americans trends to think china to be a ancient,mysterious country,the people there are good at kongfu or sth like that,and believe in mingjie(a chinese word for hell)..but as a real chinese .i want to told you china is now of little difference to usa…if you want to know real china..why not come here and enperience yourself ,its much better than sleeping in cozy bed and listening to those who dont know about china talking,i must say chis carter is one of them after an episol about chinatown.

  16. marshan Said,

    March 30, 2009 @ 5:20 am

    the ‘so were you’ comment and ‘detest’ line was pure brill! hahaha

  17. Fille Bohème Said,

    August 2, 2009 @ 11:48 am

    Just stumbled across this blog. Awesomeness! Also glad to find out I’m not the only nutter still rewatching the series. Did I say nutter? I meant, of course, enlightened but often misunderstood X-devotee. Hope you guys keep going with this, and thanks for a delightful read!

  18. Laurie Said,

    September 5, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

    Just wanted to say that I think this site is amazing. Not enough people produce quality X-Files sites anymore. I love the humor and analyses. Keep it up!

  19. Dawn Said,

    April 30, 2010 @ 10:58 am

    I LOVE this bloody site!!

  20. squarlid Said,

    March 28, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

    chupacabras gave me polo in my polio

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