Salamander Hand over Fist

Young at Heart!

Episode Summary
Man, we watched this a year ago, I don’t really remember. But I guess basically Mulder played it by the book a few years back and got some people killed, by a jerk named Barnett who ended up dying in prison afterward, but! Barnett is back, even though he’s dead, and it’s because of some kind of fountain-of-youth type regeneration shit that happened because of a mad scientist and so now Barnett has a salamander hand! And Mulder kills him at the end in an ironic reversal of the by-the-book stuff. ALSO! Scully gets shot by Barnett except she was wearing a vest so she’s okay. SPOILER ALERT!

Tashmoo Federal Correctional Facility

The year is 1989. The state: Pennsylvania.

That’s the year that Washington State had it’s centennial.
That’s the year that I had my Decennial.
That’s the year your FACE was HITLER.

A man in a wheelchair and a prison jumpsuit hears screaming and wheels his way toward it!

Dude rolls into a surgical lab and asks a doctor guy what he’s doing to Johnny.

Here Comes Johnny One-Hand

And the doctor is all like “nothing!”

Specifically, he’s doing some nothing to where Johnny’s forearm used to be.

And then John “Johnny No-Arm” Barnett blinks at wheelchair guy!

Oh he’s dead. And yet he’s not dead. And you know what that means.


The year is Present Day. The state is not a state because Washington D.C. isn’t a state.

Mulder and Scully check out the crime scene of a jewelry store robbery, when Mulder sees someone he recognizes and decides to be a jerk:

Reg-GIE! Reg-GIE!

Reggie: Mulder! I hate it when you do that.

Man, I don’t understand why Mulder doesn’t have more friends.
Hey, he’s friends with Reggie Jackson.

The deal: the robber, a “lone gunman”–


–shot a clerk after she’d already filled up his bag with loot. The forensics guys found, well, something non-specific:

Reggie: This. Is gonna blow your mind.


Reggie: I’m tellin’ you, Mulder, this is gonna blow. Your. Mind.

It’s an electric mind-blower.
Like a snowblower except not so much with the snow part.
Mulder already has a couple other kinds of electric blowers at home, iykwim.

It turns out that the whatever the hell it is that they aren’t telling or showing us what it is is a sign that this store was robbed by Barnett. But how can it be Barnett?


It turns out that the thing that we were being dramatically prevented from seeing was a hand-written note not unlike those left by Barnett back in the day. A note that looks like…THIS!

the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy murderer

It turns out that back when Mulder originally apprehended Barnett…

An agent died, because I screwed up.
Agent angst episode.

Also, regarding mister Barnett:

He died in prison, four years ago.

Handwriting Analysis Action

The lab equivalent of swappin’ saliva.

A lady named Henderson analyzes Fox’s note while joking about how she’s never had sex with Fox but that he probably doesn’t last very long.

You kind of get the impression that Henderson likes Mulder.
What with all that sexually charged dialogue.
And they’re made for each other, what with all the bizarre hostility she uses to express it.
She thinks he has a cute ascender. And fancies his descender.

The getting of either of them laid safely averted, Henderson says the handwriting is Barnett’s.

Mulder’s Bad Day

Scully and Reggie go over the tape of Mulder’s botched take-down of Barnett. Mulder played by the book instead of taking a risky shot…and it cost two men their lives.

And one of them was an FBI agent, so he actually mattered.

And then Scully manages to prevent Mulder from successfully going through a door by mentioning something Reggie told her, about Barnett swearing he’d “get” Mulder.

Yeah, he show you the video tape?
You did the right thing, Mulder.
Did I? Steve Wallenberg had a wife and two kids. One of his boys is an all-star on his football team now. I pull that trigger two seconds earlier and Wallenberg would be here to see his kid play. Instead I got some dead man robbing jewelry stores and sending me haikus.
The video tape in question is a porno.
Mulder “did it” by the book.
But he “pulled the trigger” too late.
Also, “haikus”.

Isn’t It Gridironic

Mulder goes and watches some kids play football. Wallenberg’s kid, presumably. But when he goes back to his car, and finds something inside:

Worst fan mail ever.

There’s another that-is-not-a-haiku note and some nice black and white glossy shots of Mulder going about his Mulderly business. Surveilance! Mulder shouts:


Nearby football watchin’ parents? Unimpressed. Creepy guy in big hat in bleachers? Staring into the camera in extreme closeup.



Reggie and Mulder have a lengthy conversation about how Mulder is turning into a damn nutter.

Reggie: A lot of people are saying Spooky Mulder has become an embarrassment. A liability.

What? Are you saying that somebody from the bureau is behind this?

Reggie: Maybe, maybe not. It’s always better to cover your ass–


Scully drops off Barnett’s will — he gave everything to fellow inmate Joe Crandle and requested his body be cremated, which allegedly it was. The will doesn’t mention having his arm cut off by a creepy doctor in the beginning of an X-Files episode, though, so who knows.

Mulder sits down with Digital Composite Computer Lady to figure out what Barnett might look like. After telling her he’s aged five years and probably put on a little weight, he goes for the brass ring:

He could be wearing any kind of disguise.
Put him in clown suit.
He may be dressed as a cowboy.
Better try cowboy clown just to be safe.

Flashback time

Mulder recalls testifying in court and reveals basically no new information, but we get to see a not-yet-dead–

Not yet undead.

–John Barnett smirking obnoxiously.

At whom Mulder, having finished his testimony, pisses off the judge by standing up and yelling. He wraps it up like so:

You should die like animal, you son of a bitch!
Let the record show that Agent Mulder is consistent in his belief that John Barnett is a son of a bitch.

And then Barnett leans over toward Mulder and carefully whispers “I’ll…get…you!”

I thought he said “I…can’t…hear you!”
“I’m…hard…of hearing!”

Present day

Scully with the dish: Barnett supposedly died of a heart attack, but the prison infirmary has no record of that. And so it’s off to Tashmoo Prison to talk to Wheelchair Guy.

Wheelchair guy confirms the bullshittedness of the heart attack thing and recaps the start of the episode. Back in the office, Mulder pointedly fiddles with his gun, and our agents have a heart to heart:

What are you gonna do?
I know what I’m not gonna do. I’m not gonna hang around and wait around for Barnett to send me another valentine.
You mean the ghost of John Barnett.
I didn’t know you believed in ghosts, Scully.
“Oh snap, Mulder. I didn’t know YOU believed in HOOKERS.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t know you believed in SCRIMSHAW.”
“I didn’t know you believed in HOME CRAFT BREWING.”
“Okay but I didn’t know you believed in JESUS.”
“Mulder, I’m Catholic.”

And then Mulder gets a call from Barnett. Who says he’s in the same state that Mulder is in.

The state of arousal. :(

But then the phone call is over!

We lost him.
Yeah, he was hip to the trace.
Hey, man, are YOU hip the trace?
My name is not “man”, it is “daddy-o”.
I can dig it.
[snaps fingers, plays bass solo]

Death of a Reginald

Chapter 7: How To Wear Glasses

Reggie gets a call in the middle of the night from Mulder, because Mulder is an insensitive jerk. Mulder starts to explain that the jewelry store perp was a righty but that Barnett got his arm cut off in prison, but then Reggie goes and gets strangled to death by Barnett and that screws up the phone call pretty much.

A bit later, Mulder and Scully stand in the crime scene that is Reggie’s apartment while Mulder mopes some more about how he should have shot Barnett back in the day instead of PLAYING IT! BY! THE BOOK!

Handwritin’ Henderson goes over the note left on Reggie’s body. Note was from the same guy! Also, that prison doctor was a mad scientist or something? Who was doing illegal experiments on the super-aging disease progeria.

Cue a filmreel about Crazy Doctor Ridley courtesy bald scientist dude who knew Ridley and thinks he’s a big ol’ jerkypants. And trots out a nazi reference, proving that Godwin’s Law applies to network television as well.

Mulder thinks Ridley managed to reverse aging!

Mulder, it’s science fiction.
Well what would you have said twenty years ago about gene splicing, DNA fingerprinting, cloning, artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence? They barely have normal intelligence!
No, there was that killer building from episode xx.
Episode xx? That’s not even a number.
I’ll look it up later and put it at the end of this sentence.
Maybe you should program an artificial intelligence to look it up for you.
Artificial intelligence? We barely have normal intell–


Okay fine it was Episode 6.

More age hijinks

Mulder instructs the Face Factory lab person to age Barnett backwards, which apparently turns him into:

An extremely crappy Elvis impersonator.

Scully gets a new computer

Check out that awesome high-def font!

Scully writes up some notes on Dr. Ridley and how he had CRAAAAZY ideas about reversing aging that TOOOOTALLY couldn’t be feasible. And it kind of looks like she’s on some green website in this shot:

“Dear Ask Metafilter: does my partner like me?”

And somebody skulks around Chez Dana; she goes for her gun! And there’s crazy chanting in Latin on the soundtrack! And someone is knocking on the door! And he says it’s DR. JOE RIDLEY!

And it totally is! And boy does he look young. And also someone else goes skulking away in the dark.

The Ridler

So Ridley fills in Scully and Mulder (who apparently was hiding in her couch?) on how he (Ridley) is dying of progeria and how Barnett totally isn’t, and how it all has to do with myelin somehow.

Which is how Barnett’s missing hand grew back. But not a human hand.

I’m afraid to ask. What kind of hand did you grow?

A salamander hand!

Anyway, it turns out that this has all been paid for by a secret government conspiracy. Which means it’s time for a visit from:

Like it or not, John Barnett is a fact of life.
Like taxes.
And nose hair.
Oh man, Mulder didn’t finish his beer.
And this is the least quotable Mulder/Deepthroat exchange ever. Hit fast forward.

The next morning

Somebody is checking Scully’s answering machine (remember answering machines?) remotely! John Barnett’s finger prints were on it!

So that mysterious guy skulking around the apartment last night was, in fact, the really obvious choice of The Episode’s Antagonist?
It’s a good thing Scully found that left index oblique print on her machine, then.

And then Barnett calls and moans into the phone and threatens to kill a bunch of people and stuff. OKAY, JOHN, WE GET IT.

Operation: Scully Is Bait

How you feelin’?
It’s the first time I’ve ever played the target.
Say something comforting, Mulder!
Let’s make sure it’s not the last.
That’s the–wait, what?

Despite the FBI’s fleet of agents, Barnett manages to get inside — as Salmonhands McPianotuner! And after he finishes tuning the piano, he jams a giant revolver in his pants and wanders into the lobby and TOTALLY SHOOTS SCULLY!


And then Mulder chases him into the auditorium! But Barnett takes the cellist hostage! And Barnett mocks him about how Mulder won’t shoot him! Because Mulder’s too by the book. Or wants Ridley’s research. Which is great and all but then Mulder shoots him in the damn head.

Also, Scully was totally wearing a bulletproof vest and is fine, but gosh are her ribs sore.

Finish it up

While Barnett’s busy dying on a hospital table, Mulder and Scully look on and have a heart to heart:

Mulder, I know what you did wasn’t by-the-book…
Tells you a lot about the book, doesn’t it?
I dunno, Chapter 7 was pretty useful.

Also, the secrets of immortality and/or acute salamanderhandism are apparently sitting in locker 935 at the airport.

Somehow, I feel like we haven’t heard the last from John Barnett.
We’re totally blogging this shit, Mulder.
Foreshadow at your own peril, buddy.
Also, I have a complaint about the whole handwriting analysis portion of the episode. They kind of belabored the whole “no, this handwriting is identical, it must be the same guy thing”, which, okay, yes, it’s the same guy, but when the big reveal is that he grew back a spongey three-fingered SALAMANDER HAND doesn’t the “his handwriting is perfect” angle seem kinda bullshitty?
Like, you have eternal youth now thanks to mad science, and your top priority is painstaking physical therapy to restore your penmanship to its past glory despite you having some awful horror show of an amphibian replacement?


  1. The Proprietors Said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 10:29 am

    Hey, miss us?

  2. Kat Said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    My hand to god, it was just two days ago I was clearing some defunct feeds out of my Google Reader, and I spent a moment gazing sorrowfully at Mulder’s Big Adventure with my finger hovering over the “delete” button — and then I decided that dammit, I was not giving up! And now you’re back, hurrah! I have taken the Mulder and Scully action figures out of storage and put them back on the computer desk in celebration!

    (Also, wow, that episode was crappy. Can’t wait till you get to Tooms!)

  3. alison Said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    Huh-huh, you said “Mulderly business.”

  4. B. Said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

    I missed you!

    Also, oh man, that episode was so crappy that I had actually forgotten all about it DESPITE having watched the first season this year. It rang NO BELL AT ALL until the very end!

    Why do I even bother liking The X-Files!

  5. derp Said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

    I missed you guys :3

  6. dbl Said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

    I had totally decided on an elaborate conspiracy theory wherein the Fox legal department (staffed by psychic extra-terrestrial hybrids) had sent you a eerily presciently worded take-down notice causing you to run for your lives in the criminal underground while being chased by alien bounty hunters and never ever ever able to update this blog again.

    Then I remembered who I was dealing with, and chalked it up to another false start of a damn entertaining project

    Glad you got back ’round to it. Always a good read.

  7. Plutor Said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

    I am not appeased! You have merely delayed my wrath by a short interval! Without further updates, I will continue to withhold my MeFi projects votes!

    Er, I mean — woo!

  8. Ashley Said,

    April 5, 2010 @ 8:54 am

    You guys really, really, really need to not wait a year between postings again.

  9. DigitalSeraphim Said,

    April 5, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    @dbl: Didn’t you know that all of his “false starts” are caused specifically by Fox-legal-department-take-down-notice-criminal-underground-running-alien-bounty-hunter-chasing-shenanigans?

    Boy, I thought all of us knew that. Didn’t you help build the shelter under an unnamed dorm at an unnamed college?

  10. Mark Wrede Said,

    April 7, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

    Observations regarding the series:
    1. LA Times critic noted, “I liked this show better when it was called ‘Twin Peaks.’”
    2. FBI X-files are real. Cases regarding UFOs were given subject line ‘X’ meaning ‘No subject.’ Many shows are based on real case incidents that can be read at — but on the show, they get to make up their own evidence.
    3. No matter whether their search takes them into a home or building, Dana and Fox never turn on the lights, preferring to search with a flashlight.
    4. There are many awkward moments on the show, lots of time-consuming business as they come onto the scene with a flashlight in one hand, gun in the other — then they find evidence and begin juggling the light and gun as they put on surgical gloves, get out a baggie, and carefully collect the evidence. Just once I wish they could have been like a four-handed Hindu god to get us through this stage business more quickly.
    5. No show is complete without the pair tearing through the dark, waving their flashlights and pistols and calling out “Scuulleee,” “Muulldderrr,” “Scuulleee,” “Muulldderr,” for at least one full minute.
    6. I love your series and look forward to reading every installment.

  11. Adam Said,

    April 9, 2010 @ 10:53 pm


  12. goblinbox Said,

    April 15, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    You know what’s awesome? This paragraph is awesome, that’s what:

    Cue a filmreel about Crazy Doctor Ridley courtesy bald scientist dude who knew Ridley and thinks he’s a big ol’ jerkypants. And trots out a nazi reference, proving that Godwin’s Law applies to network television as well.

    I mean, Godwin’s Law? You win!

  13. Meg Said,

    April 16, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

    Hey Guys,
    SO HAPPY YOU’RE BACK!!!!!! (and please don’t leave us alone for so long ever again..) This was a particularly ‘blahhh’ episode, but as usual, y’all made it worthy of re-watching. I particularly enjoy your captions- “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy murderer” lolol
    Also, in reference to Mulder’s ridiculous reply to Scully being bait, “let’s hope it’s not the last”- WTF? really Mulder??
    Sooo happy you’re back and I can’t wait for the next update!!!

  14. Amanda Said,

    July 6, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

    I missed these. What took you so long? :(
    Your absence made my heart hurt.

    Anyway, great job on this one. You made a crappy episode some-what enjoyable to at least read about! I hope we don’t have to wait another year for another post to pop up!

    Keep it comin’! You two are brilliant!

  15. Suzanne Said,

    July 31, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    …is this site defunct, or … what’s the dealio? :(

  16. Dawn Said,

    June 21, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

    Chapter 7: How To Wear Glasses…
    I love you.

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