Leave My Sister Out of This

“Conduit” – 1×03

Episode summary:
A girl disappears in the woods in Iowa. Scully and Mulder’s investigation generates friction with local law enforcement, as well as with the NSA after the girl’s younger brother mysteriously transcribes satellite transmissions. After chasing some dead ends, meeting a biker bartender, and turning up an incidental murder, they find the girl in the woods under mysterious circumstances.

Opening up

The woods! A campfire. Kids sleeping. A camper trailer thing. A cup of coffee. Idyllic.

So, everyone’s asleep and there’s a full cup of coffee? Did the cup of coffee regrow? Was it planted there by aliens?

Wait, the coffee is shaking!

It’s pulling a Jurassic Park!

The whole RV is going crazy, and there’s a bright light! And then a little boy named Kevin tells him mom that “Ruby’s gone!” Mom starts yelling her name — AT THE SKY!

In Blevins’ office

A disapproving Blevins fills Scully in on Mulder’s latest travel request (aka a “302″), for Sioux City, Iowa. On a flimsy tabloid lead about alien abduction. Because of…SAMANTHA?

The Samantha File

Expositorily, Scully recaps the Samantha abduction story. Blevins wants to reject the travel request, but Scully convinces him to let her talk to Mulder about it.

This is the essence of science. You ask an impertinent question, and you’re on your way to a pertinent answer.

But what makes this case any more credible than…

[gestures to tabloid]

…the hundred year old mother of the lizard baby?

Because the lizard baby wasn’t born anywhere near Lake Okobogee.

Mulder projects self-confidence

Lake Okobogee is apparently a hotbed of UFO sightings. In 1967, a troop of girl scouts saw a UFO — one even took a picture — and among that troop was a young Darlene “my daughter Ruby got abducted at the beginning of the episode” Morris.


The agents take a trip out to visit Darlene (so the 302 got approved!). Mulder has a weird little emotional moment with a picture of Ruby.

I don’t really like seeing Mulder fondling this lady’s pictures.

It’s pretty clear that Darlene thinks aliens took Ruby. She also reports that Kevin has been acting strange.


Mulder spends some quality time with Kevin, a cute little Village Of The Damned kid who is spending his time transcribing binary code from a staticy dead TV channel. Back in the office, Mulder bribes a “Danny” back at FBI headquarters with Redskins tickets to decode the binary.

Sheriff Forehead

A sheriff with really intense forehead wrinkles knows Darlene pretty well, and is deeply skeptical of Darlene’s story. He doesn’t think much of Ruby, either; he thinks she ran away.

Also, Scully’s neckline is getting more adventurous.

As the agents are exiting the Sheriff’s office:

I just think it’s a good idea not to antagonize local law enforcement.
Oh, no. Scully. Scully. He’s just going to say something about bundt cake.
Who, me? I’m Mister Congeniality.
You never know, we might need his help one of these days.
I’ll send him a bundt cake.
The way to a local law enforcement man’s heart is through his bundt cake.

They find a note on the windshield of their car: an appeal to follow someone across the street. They tail a mysterious young woman into a library. She knows something about Ruby! She says that Ruby’s boyfriend was Greg Randall, that Ruby was pregnant, and that the two were supposed to meet in the woods the night she disappeared.

A clumsy librarian drops a book and scares off Mystery Girl, so the agents follow her tip to the Pennsylvania Pub, where Greg apparently works. Mulder inquires about Greg, and the barkeep asks who’s asking.

Fox flippantly flashes FBI ‘folio
Fizzle Bizzle Izzle, my barkizzle.

Greg hasn’t been in to work in three weeks, and is so fired, they learn. And then:

Unremovable Fleshy Object
Hey, that’s a nice tattoo. What is that?
What’s it look like?
Flying saucer.
He said “SAW-sah”.
I think he just said “saucer” and kind of trailed off.
You don’t really beLIEVE in that stuff, do you?
He’s not from Boston.
He needs to go pahk his cah.
I take it you don’t?
No, I think it’s just a bunch of crazy people howling at the moon.
He’s lying! Why would he lie?!
So, uh, you haven’t been up to Lake Okobogee, have you.
No I haven’t, why?
You should RIDE with us some time. You might see some things that’ll change your mind.
Ohhhh. Subterfuge.
Riding? Like, horses?
Hell’s Equitationists.
Dressage is pretty awesome.

The bartender also makes a joke about getting a suntan at night, and then…

[displays horrible burned ear]

At the motel

Scully sees silhouettes outside her motel room door! She eyes her gun on the nightstand, but then the door gets kicked in! Men with guns, looking for…Mulder!

Looking for Mulder…
…in Scully’s room?
Do they know something that we don’t?

And they find Mulder (though it’s not clear where they find him), and…

Mulder sleeps with his watch on in case he loses time when he’s sleeping.
All “snore snore HEY MISSING TIME [GLEE]“.
“Hey, where’s my seven minutes!”

The gov’t spooks are curious about the binary code drawing. Mulder wheedles some info out of them: it’s a snippet of a defense satellite transmission! The spooks are NSA!

They sack the kid’s room! THEY RIFLE THROUGH HIS PICTURE BOOKS! And haul Darlene and Kevin off into custody.

Aw jeez, they even smashed his piggy bank.

Scully wearing green and purple, in honor of The Joker.
Danny’s research turns up a surprise: Kevin’s binary code magically encoded a bunch of fragments of art and literature and human knowledge.

Searching for answers

They drive right past the Sioux City exit on the freeway.

I thought we were headed back into town…
[shakes head just a skoch]
Where are we going?
The boy’s the key, Scully. I know it.
Mulder is kidnapping Scully. Josh, MULDER’S KIDNAPPING HER.
Naw, I’m sure he’s just–
It puts the lotion on its skin.
[threatens bag of sunflower seeds, cries]

Mulder’s theory: the boy is a “conduit”, affected by whatever force took Ruby that night.

If there was an abduction, it’s likely that Kevin was touched in some way.

The agents check out the campsite where Ruby disappeared. The treetops are messed up, and Mulder finds some…GLASS!

Treetops singed by…ALIENS?!
Do you have any idea at what temperature sand solidifies into glass?
1800 F!
2500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pwned, honey.
He’s pwned. I’m right. Look it up!
According to the internet, it’s anywhere between like 1000 and 4200 F. I don’t know who is pwned, now.
This geology textbook say it’s like 700 C. I mean, melting is kind of a pressure vs. heat thing–
Something was out here, Scully. Something hot enough to turn sand into glass, to singe those trees and to blister the roof of that camper.

And then a white wolf (coyote?) leads Mulder into the woods. Where a whole pack of ‘em are stalking a shallow grave. He fires his gun in the air to scare off the wolves. This double as a secret signal for “Scully, come running because you have no idea why I just fired my gun”.

Run, Scully, Run

Greg is dead

The grave: Greg Randall. In his wallet: a note with the name of Dr. Jack Fowler. The handwriting matches the handwriting on Mystery Girl’s note! They haul her in for questioning! Her name is Tessa. She’s the one who’s pregnant! By Greg! Dead Greg! Mulder employs a clever interrogation technique where he pretends to be Emeril Lagasse.

[slams fist on table]


ASCII Art at Chez Morris

Nobody seems to be home, but they were recently — Scully takes off the whistling tea-kettle. And then discovers, from the upstairs balcony, the real patterns in Kevin’s ones and zeros:

Ruby in the code with zeros
Okay, so, hold on. Kevin’s binary sequences were just tiles in a big ASCII-art mosaic of Ruby? Because there was a defense satellite transmission in there, but then there was some Da Vinci art and a picture of some DNA and some classical music, and all of them were little fragments. Like, say, one page per fragment? So this Kevin kid was picking out strings of binary that were both representations of coherent knowledge and just happened to be tiles in a big drawing of his sister?

Return to Lake Okobogee

In the car, Mulder tells Scully a story about Samantha.
You know, when I was a kid, I had this ritual. I’d close my eyes before I walked into my room, because I thought that one day when I opened them my sister would be there. Just lying in bed, like nothing ever happened. I’m still walking into that room, every day of my life.

They find the camper parked by the side of the road, and hear shouting in the woods. It’s Darlene! She says “it’s here”, and that Kevin ran ahead.

Some very convincing glowing lights.
Ooh, Kevin wandering toward glowing lights! ALIENS!

You wanna bet?

Gotta be! Look at that stuff! It looks nothing like a helicopter spotlight.

True, but nope! It’s the glow of a bunch of bikers’ headlights.

Damn you, fakeout glowing lights!

Scully and Darlene find Ruby in the woods and take her to the hospital. She’s in a coma, and her white blood cell count is crazy high.

By any chance, was there an attendant reduction in the lymphocyte population or release of glucocorticoids?
Um. Actually, both, how did you know that?
They’re symptoms of prolonged weightlessness.
["holy shit" look]

They talk to Ruby, ask where she’s been. Kevin tells her it’s okay to talk to them, that “they know”. But then DARLENE INTERRUPTS. CRAZY ALIEN ABDUCTION GIRLSCOUT LADY DARLENE. WTF.

Mulder is so stymied right now.


Scully reads Samantha’s file and listens to Mulder’s DEEP REGRESSION HYPNOSIS tapes. The audio carries through a cut to Mulder looking at a photo of him and Samantha and crying…in a church pew? Mulder goes to church? Ever?

You know, the Pope’s astronomer just said it’s okay to believe in aliens.
More like Opus Deiliens, am I right?

And as we fade out to the credits, Mulder describes a reassuring voice in his head, telling him not to be scared at Samantha’s abduction, that everything will be okay. The hypnotist asks, “do you believe the voice?”

I want to believe.
A ha!
Take On Me?


  1. Sass Said,

    May 19, 2008 @ 9:19 pm

    Loves it. But like, I start to wonder how you do this, but then I think it’s like knowing how sausage is made. It’s better to just enjoy it without thinking about it too hard.

  2. kw Said,

    May 21, 2008 @ 6:32 am

    I’m still trying to decide whether those are really bad real tattoos or really good fake tattoos on that guy’s arm.

  3. The Proprietors Said,

    May 21, 2008 @ 7:42 am

    [Angela] I think It’s very admirable that they made that detailed flowery tattoo above the UFO. The UFO looks simple and cartoony- but that’s important so that it catches the eye of people who don’t pause the dvd and take a screenshot.

    I like it- it’s probably the cheeriest take on UFOs in the X-Files.

  4. Chel Said,

    May 21, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

    “The way to a local law enforcement man’s heart is through his bundt cake.” Now now, be careful. One could construe that as implying something dirty ;p

    I joke, but watch-next thing you know, you’ve got some gov’t loony banging down your door yelling something about the CDA and “social indecency” *g*

  5. Chel Said,

    May 21, 2008 @ 1:37 pm

    btw, that’s a pretty sweet “Take On Me” cover.

  6. Chel Said,

    May 21, 2008 @ 1:55 pm


    *facepalms @ self*

    I just couldn’t resist. Call it a bit o’ advertising.

  7. The Proprietors Said,

    May 21, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

    [Josh] Ha!

  8. Lauren Said,

    May 22, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

    *shall forever be haunted by your take on [heh] “Take on Me” and yet loves this anyway*

    >> [shakes head just a skoch]

    I felt the need to ask what a skoch might be since we obvs don’t have ‘em here and decided against it in favor of smidges, bits and spots..

    ASCII-art conspiracies. Of *course* it all makes sense now. :D

  9. Nate Said,

    May 23, 2008 @ 9:14 am

    Quite a coup getting Hacksaw Jim Duggan to play the barkeep: http://muldersbigadventure.com/img/headshots/headshot-barkeep.jpg

  10. Savanna Said,

    July 8, 2008 @ 11:01 am

    I always loved the video to that song. It kinda sounds like you don’t know the words in your version though.

  11. The Proprietors Said,

    July 8, 2008 @ 11:10 am

    [Josh] I like to think that the fellas in A Ha were working from a score that had only “ad libitum” written in the lyrics line.

    On the other hand, somebody going to the bother of making a Take On Me-style video starring Our Heroes would probably win about ten thousand internets.

  12. souxcity Said,

    April 8, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    There is no lake okobogee. There is however a lake okoboji and it is over three hours away from Sioux City. But seeing as how there is no national park on that lake I’d have to guess that the X-files series takes place in a different dimension where Sioux City is on a lake with a national park instead of the Missouri river. (Freaky twist huh?) Sioux City has a POLICE department, the county has a SHERIFF’s department. Plus there are not any pine trees with ferns growing under them in this part of the state let alone the lush rainforest agents Mulder and Scully run through. Boo to you X-files, you give my state too much credit. This part of the country is alot less interesting than you are giving us credit for.

  13. mKS Said,

    January 3, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

    They spelled Chilmark wrong on the case file :oP

  14. ulrike Said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

    does anybody know the name of the song played at the ending when mulder is crying on a church

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