The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 10

731 (2)

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 01, 1995 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
310 votes

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Episode Summary

Mulder is trapped inside a train car which contains a suspected alien-human hybrid and also a bomb, while Scully pursues the truth about her abduction and the mystery behind the implant in her neck.

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  • Full speed episode

    Another awesome continuation of a two parter, these stories that tie into the bigger plot throughout the show are the real highlights. Keeping things interesting is the speeding train which is a great change of enviroment, even for a show with constantly different sets and locations. Steven Williams returns from the dark to lend his caution.... and a helping hand too. Have to mention that fantastic explosion at the end, really shows of the production quality and care the series has (and deserves). To end it all of course is another moment of uncertainty with the cancer man smoking away, nothing is finished yet.moreless
  • 731 was awesome!

    731 was a perfect episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the character and plot development were phenomenal. It was interesting to see the different sides of the story and to learn what "they" don't want us to know. I liked how both Mulder and Scully could be right in their assumptions of the truth. The scenes were great and a lot of fun to watch. I liked how the story played out and answered questions while asking many more. The ending was great as the Cigarette Smoking Man was revealed to have some role in the events. I certainly look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • "My name is Mulder. Fox Mulder"

    What's cunning about the "Nisei/731" story is not so much the 'answers' revealed but the way that it brings us back around almost to where we began two years ago--Mulder believes in the alien abduction story, Scully does not. It's more like a spiral, which does not quite return to its point of origin, than a circle: while Scully is still a skeptic she is a skeptic in a more plausible way. She no longer rejects the 'evidence' before her out of hand, but tries to fit it into her own theory of medical experimentation and research atrocities. I am glad to see that we must not return to Scully as Spock ("Mulder, that is so illogical."); she retains not only integrity as a character but her own unique voice. To make her a believer seeking only the evidence to bring an alien into court would make her an echo of Mulder, and she deserves better. Season One told the stories pretty much through Scully's eyes. Season Two told them through Mulder's eyes. Now we are reaching a point of equilibrium where both characters carry plausibility.

    The scariest thing in "Nisei/731", however, is not the pitiful lepers or the alien bodies piled in a pit, in a scene reminiscent of "Schindler's List". No, the scariest monster in this story is Dr. Ishimaru, the Japanese version of Dr. Mengele, the counterpart to the Dr. Klemper we saw in "Paper Clip". The ultimate abstraction of the scientific principle, with no soul, no heart, and no mercy, he embodies the fears of a society that has yet to come to grips with the technological wonders in its hands. In any case, we are treated in "Nisei/731" to a peek over the edge of that abyss opening before our feet with the advent of genetic engineering. Our fears are not so much of the technology but of the men who wield it: Dr. Ishimaru, Dr. Klemper.

    Stephen McHattie acquitted himself more than admirably as the relentless, arrogant assassin sent to kill Ishimaru and the quarantined passenger. It's a shame he dies as I believe he could have been a great recurring character. His lean, skull-like face lends itself automatically to menace, and he can deliver a truth in such a way as to convince you it is a lie. The little conductor was absolutely wonderful in his rabbity way, and having Gillian Barber playing Penny Northern so she could say "She is one" was hilarious (Barber played Beth Kane in "Red Museum"; "He is one" was a catch phrase for that episode. I wonder if I'm the only one who caught that reference).David Nutter, who directed "Nisei", uses closeups better than anyone else on this series. His painterly and intimate portraits bring the viewer right into the character's emotions.

    Rob Bowman, who directed "731", set up some wonderful shots: the low angle on the leper dormitory hideout room, the death squad truck bursting the gate, the heartbreaking open grave in the leper colony. Both directors used reflections in interesting ways: I liked the scene in "Nisei" when the Japanese diplomat's face is reflected in the interrogation room window against Walter Skinner, the television reflecting the whole living room in "731". Bowman even combined both techniques by having the alien passenger in the boxcar reflected in an extreme close-up of Mulder's eye, a shot that took us right into Mulder's head.

    I have to mention Mark Snow's mournful and poignant score, particularly in the scene where Scully discovers the bodies of the leper colony victims. Once again so much of the mood and atmosphere that help suspend our disbelief depends on a score that keeps us on the edge of emotion.

    In the final analysis, this is a well put together execution of a top-notch story. The ground for "Nisei/731" was pretty well laid in "Anasazi/Blessing Way/Paper Clip". The only minor flaw in this story arc for me was that Mulder and Scully were separated too much by the plot.moreless
  • The resolution of Mulder being on the train and Scully looking for the origin of her micro-chip.

    In a somewhat disappointing but equally intriguing conclusion to the little story the show was telling here, we see Mulder getting no closer to the truth but also we find Mulder's friend/foe, the man known as "X," ultimately choosing to save Mulder's life over the alien life-form's, a clear cut sign that he is better than we might expect.

    The action of the train wasn't nearly as interesting as the action in the previous episode, but it was still fun to watch Mulder try to track down the scientist and slowly, methodically try to find his way into the room with the "alien" in it.

    Except I'm not sure if I should say alien at all.. Scully's plot found her tracking down a leper colony where the Japanese scientists had been experimenting on humans with leprosy and other awful diseases. She becomes convinced that there is no such thing as alien abductions and that it has all been an elaborate scheme of the U.S and Japanese government. This puts us all, including Mulder, in a delicate situation: do we believe Scully in thinking that it's all a hoax or do we trust Mulder and the government? Honestly, I think Scully's excuse is a misleading piece of information, one that will put Mulder off of the path for the truth. However, it should be interesting to see what happens. There's been too much that has happened to make me believe that the alien experimentation has just been experiments on lepers and other diseases.moreless
  • Very exciting episode, however...

    It was funny - or weird - how Mulder, being so paranoid most of the time and in a case that could've involved a conspiracy on covering one of the best kept secrets and revealing evidence, could trust the conductor of the train so easily. But hey, not every guy is a bad guy and Mulder definitely needed so help or he would've died.

    Scully finally gets her proof and she learns a sad truth. But at least she now knows what really happened to her. One thing that struck me is how she didn't force the Elder to tell her more.

    I love the interaction between Mulder and Scully in this episode, at a point that they guess their thoughts and looking for evidence that could help each other without asking.moreless
Stephen McHattie

Stephen McHattie


Guest Star

Colin Cunningham

Colin Cunningham


Guest Star

Victoria Maxwell

Victoria Maxwell

Mother (uncredited)

Guest Star

Brendan Beiser

Brendan Beiser

Agent Pendrell

Recurring Role

Don S. Williams

Don S. Williams

1st Elder

Recurring Role

William B. Davis

William B. Davis

Cigarette Smoking Man

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Principal Settings: Perkey, West Virginia; Washington, D.C.

    • If you look at the Japanese book that Mulder flips through early in the episode (In the doctors train compartment), you will notice that all the pages contain the exact same text.

    • The covert army guys in this episode and in "731" seem extremely unprofessional. First off in 731 they dump over a hundred corpses in a ditch about 30 ft long and 20 feet across and they don't even try to fill a gaping hole in an open field leaving Scully to bear witness to it. Even though they were on guard it was still a serious risk. In this episode they chase after Mulder and Scully for five minutes before without shooting them as soon as they saw them especially with an unidentified flying object in one of the nearby silos unless they received word from the CSM not to.

    • If you watch closely you can see that Mulder runs the keycard through the door scanner the wrong way, scanning nothing but plastic.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Mulder: We're both gonna die in here. The difference is, I'm gonna die quickly. As an employee of the National Security Agency you should know that a gunshot wound to the stomach is probably the most painful and the slowest way to die. But I'm not a very good shot. And when I miss, I tend to miss low.

    • Hitman: You have no idea what you're dealing with here.
      Mulder: Yeah, well maybe you should have filled me in before you tried to kill me!

    • Hitman: I work for the National Security Agency.
      Mulder: The NSA? Since when did they start issuing you guys piano wire instead of guns?

    • 1st Elder: The ruler of the world is no longer the country with the bravest soldiers, but the greatest scientists.

    • Scully: Well done, Agent Pendrell. Keep up the good work.
      Agent Pendrell: Hey, thanks. Keep it up yourself!
      (Scully looks at him strangely before leaving)
      Agent Pendrell: Keep it up yourself... what a doof...

    • Mulder: You know what I think. I think you're a liar. I don't think you work for the NSA. And I don't think there's a bomb on this train.
      Red Haired Man: You're choosing a hell of a way to find out.
      Mulder: Shut-up!!!

    • Scully: Don't you see Mulder, you're doing their work for them. You're chasing aliens that aren't there, helping them to create the story that covers the shameful truth. And what they can't cover, they apologize for. Apology has become policy.
      Mulder: Maybe. Maybe you're right Scully. But I don't need an apology for the lies. I don't care about the fictions they create to cover their crimes. I want them held accountable for what did happen. I want them to apologize for the truth.

  • NOTES (3)


    • Title: 731

      The title refers to Unit 731 which was a special unit of Japanese scientists who experimented on prisoners of war during WWII. Like their Nazi counterparts, these scientist may have been given refuge in the USA to continue their experiments.