The X-Files

Season 6 Episode 16


Aired Monday 9:00 PM Mar 28, 1999 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
239 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A mysterious dog thought to be the last of a rare Asian breed is responsible for several murders which Mulder and Scully are investigating. Now the agents have to find a way to stop the dog before it kills again.

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  • Alpha

    Alpha was a perfect, really awesome, and entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was well written, a werewolf original and had many excellent scenes. The mythology used for a story such as this was intriguing and the characters were perfect in their roles. I liked how every thing played out and it was nice to learn what really happened. I liked all the different dogs belonging to Karin. The ending was great and I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Mulder and Scully investigate a killer wolf and encounter an online friend of Mulder's.

    This episode is one of the more repetitive I've seen. In one scene, Mulder confronts the alleged killer, recapping his/her motives. In the next, Mulder recaps THAT scene to another person, retelling the killer's motives. Then, in the next scene, Mulder tells Scully the same thing he told the other two. Short on plot much? The eppy is also hampered by some clunky dialogue (such as several lame dog jokes) and a silly plot that is supposed to illuminate jealousy between Scully and a woman Mulder met online. The final scene is ham-fisted as well... the minute Scully hands Mulder the package it's obvious what's in it and why. All in all, very poor by "X" standards.moreless
  • Very interesting, innovative ideas.

    I found this was a very intersting episode with some new types of ideas. Before this (maybe I just don't see a lot), I had never seen anything like the human/animal transformation before. So this was quite fascinating to me. I also thought the "relationship" between Mulder and his newfound lady friend was interesting. It kept me rivited, both at work, where I started to listen to the DVD while I did my work and at home, I had to finish it, because I found it so interesting. I am going through the X-files, all of them, once again (I have done this once before), but many of them, I can't remember. This one I remember only the opening scene from. Very well done and tastefully carried out. I felt the acting was also very good.moreless
  • Mulder and Scully look for a mysterious dog who's killing people.

    I'm not sure I would rate this episode as low as it seems to be rated here. It certainly wasn't the best episode of the show, but it was entertaining enough, almost like a quick shot of adrenaline that soon after it being administered.

    The premise of the episode is actually pretty basic. There's a vicious dog on the loose that is killing people without rhyme or reason, and it seems to be able to shift form, from dog to human. There's a guy named Debtweiler looking for him, claiming he once caught this animal (who apparently is an extinct animal, or nearly extinct animal, from China) and we also get a strange dog-loving woman who seems as interested in the unexplained as Mulder.

    Mulder and Scully get themselves involved and what we get is an entertaining albeit very slight episode of the X-Files. It's certainly not the scariest or most interesting case the show has done, but I'm certainly not complaining. It was better than "The Rain King" and some of the earlier episodes as well, and I'll take that.

    I love that Mulder got his "I Want to Believe" poster back, and was that a little Scully jealousy I saw? The show is just teasing the audience at this point it seems like.. whenever they get a chance, they pretend to hook up Mulder and Scully or pretend they have some sexual chemistry. I guess we'll see where it leads us.moreless
  • Unfairly maligned werewolf episode.

    I liked this episode quite a bit, and I'm puzzled at the negative reviews. I think fans love to pick episodes from seasons 5-7 apart as much as possible, and if they did the same picking to the more beloved seasons 3 and 4, they would find plenty to pick.

    Anyway, I liked Alpha for it's minimalist approach to the werewolf concept. Most werewolf shows/movies have to go for the cliche transformation scene, the stretching skin and limbs, etc, but Alpha simply suggests the transformation and the effect is very smooth and classy.

    I also like that this is a Chinese werewolf myth rather than European or American.

    People compare this to a previous episode, Shapes, but that is more of the typical curse approach to werewolves, rather than the more interesting idea that the animal/spirit catches a human to possess and kills out of a need to dominate its adversaries. Much more interesting than the typical approach of the out of control werewolf attacking purely by chance key characters in the plot.

    I also enjoy the wolf woman -- a very unique character in the X-Files, and I enjoy the tension she brings, as her connection to Fox is internal, rather than physical.

    Some people complain about Mulder's brooding attitude in season's 6 and 7, but who wouldn't be a little depressed after so many years of death and failure?

    A final comment: one of the things I really enjoy about this episode is the concentration on shadows and darkness; the stalking scenes generate a tremendous atmosphere of doom.moreless
Melinda Culea

Melinda Culea

Karin Berquist

Guest Star

Michael Mantell

Michael Mantell

Dr. James Riley

Guest Star

David Starwalt

David Starwalt

Officer Fiedler

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Two of the episode's characters, Dr. Detweiler and Karin Berquist, take their names from Over the Rhine, a Cincinnati-based band featuring husband and wife duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. Over the Rhine released an album entitled "Good Dog Bad Dog" in 1996, where some of the episode's canine focus likely came from as well.

    • Some transcripts describe the language spoken by the two boat hands at the start of the episode as Cantonese (it is noted that the ship has a 'Chinese' name) but they count down before open the crate in Japanese? There are certain similarities between the Japanese, Cantonese and Mandarin languages and dialects but they seemed to switch from one whole language to another.

    • This episode sees the return of the "I Want To Believe" poster. Karin Berquist had one and it arrives at the office at the end of the episode and Mulder puts it up.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Officer Cahn: Calls himself a crypto-zoologist.
      Mulder: Crypto-zoologist?
      Officer Cahn: Yeah they deal with animals thought to be extinct. Animals...
      Mulder: Animals that aren't supposed to exist, like Sasquatch and the Ogopogo and the Abominable Snowman and--
      Scully: Don't mind him. He'll go on forever.

    • Scully: Mulder. She's a friend of yours?
      Mulder: We met online.
      Scully: Online....
      Mulder: Two professionals exchanging information.

    • Scully: What happened to the dog?
      Mulder: Dog gone. Dog gone. (realizes play on words) Doggone.
      Scully: Yeah, I got it.

    • Scully: Aren't you going home?
      Mulder: I am home. I'm just feathering the nest. (he is pinning pictures of dead men to the wall.)

    • Mulder: I think we're speaking in too common terms about an animal we're calling a dog but which displays none of the behavior of man's best friend.
      Scully: You mean covering up crime scenes?
      Mulder: (smiles) You get a biscuit, Scully.

    • Scully: A dog? A dog dog?
      Mulder: Yo quiero Taco Bell

    • Dietwieller: You kill that dog and I'll kill you.

    • Mulder: It's Detweiler... but it's not Detweiler. It's something that he becomes.
      Scully: Mulder...
      Mulder: Through some blood curse, this man undergoes some kind of nocturnal transformation. He becomes the same shape-shifting trickster as that mythical dog.
      Scully: So, what is he going to do? Walk in here, skitter across the linoleum and pee in the corners?

    • Scully: She's enamored of you, Mulder. Don't underestimate a woman. They can be tricksters, too.

  • NOTES (5)

    • The deadbolt on the vet's office door is missing from the shot when the policeman walks up to the door, but, it is back in the closeup when he opens the door.

    • T'ien Kou, the name of the Chinese freighter, translates to 'heavenly dog', a Chinese term for 'shooting star'.

    • Melinda Culea, who plays the role of Karin Berquist, is the wife of the episode's director, Peter Markle.

    • This episode has an alternate ending. In that, the episode doesn't stop with Mulder looking at the poster, but with Cahn turning around in his bed, to reveal that he was infected by the Dhole. This can be seen on the DVD box.

    • Parts of this episode take place in Bellflower, California; which is Chris Carter's home town.