The X-Files

Season 5 Episode 6

Christmas Carol (1)

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 07, 1997 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
280 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

On her Christmas vacation with her brother's family, Scully receives a mysterious phone call from a familiar voice who says 'She needs your help. Go to her'. The phone call leads Scully to a murder case where the victim's 3-year-old adopted daughter bears an uncanny likeness to her sister, Melissa, at that age. The emotional roller coaster that follows has Scully believing that her sister had a baby during a period when she traveled the country and she tries to adopt the child, knowing that caring for the little girl would change her life.moreless

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  • Whats in this box.... a baby?

    We go from Halloween to Christmas time in a snap but got a very vital, character driven story involving Scully. Not sure quite how to make of all of this yet but as always I love the tone they set and the performances. With Mulder having been so radically changed by childhood experiences and his sister it doesn't feel too far off to have Scully in a story that changes her because of a child also. We shall see.moreless
  • Christmas Carol ended with a Miracle

    Christmas Carol was a perfect and very entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was awesome, well written and full of character development. It was exciting to learn that Scully's sister, Melissa, may have had a child she gave up for adoption. It was fun watching Scully investigate as she dealt with her own issues. The Christmas theme with family was nice and added a different dimension to the usual format. The ending was extremely awesome and really look forward to watching how every thing will play out in the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Estrogen Overload

    A somewhat average Myth episode, which suffers mightily from the absence of Duchovny. In his absence, Scully assumes the role of believer, while her mother plays the skeptic trying to find a rational explanation for why Emily shares such a resemblance (genetic and otherwise) with Melissa. It's all rather a dour affair as Scully pulls a "Columbo" to solve a murder that at first glance seems like a slam-dunk suicide.

    I found it hard to accept that Scully could simply waltz into the middle of a police investigation in someone else's house, even being given a tour of the crime scene as the husband looks on helplessly. Later, she appears to also have the run of the local police station as she strolls unannounced into the detective's office demanding to see the case file. She even pays a late, late night visit to the victim's house to demand answers from the grieving husband, whose wife had just died. She is so relentless and single-minded in her quest that it almost becomes caricature.

    Anderson was generally good in this episode but I found her performance a bit wooden and unconvincing during the scene with the adoption services worker when she breaks down and attempts to justify her qualifications as an adoptive mother. Anderson is very touching in her scenes with Emily, particularly when she is buckling her into the car-seat. Anderson also nails the cliffhanger final scene as she reveals that she is Emily's mother. Her stunned yet subtly pleased expression was perfectly done and made for a very effective closing shot. Did I mention that Anderson looks exceptionally hot in this episode?

    I liked the dream sequences, although they seem to have been used a bit too much. The music was really great and effective, as well.moreless
  • Scully's Christmas vacation unearths a new mystery..

    Usually, when Mulder or Scully aren't in an episode together, it frustrates me, mostly because I think the show works best when they're playing off of each other. However, this episode put all the focus on Scully, and we got to see a side of her we've never seen before: the motherly, emotional side. There's also a fairly interesting side-story going on involving Scully's sister and a women who committed suicide, leaving behind a daughter and a husband.

    The episode focuses on Scully's vacation with her family, which means we see no Mulder here (except for a strange little scene where she tries calling him and hangs up). Scully gets a strange call in the middle of the night from a woman claiming that Scully needs to help some woman or girl. The phone call came from the house of a women who committed suicide, and appearently, there's no way she could've made the call. It seems like a somewhat pointless plot and the lack of Mulder makes it feel even more disappointing, but the episode quickly turns from a standard mystery case into something much more personal. Scully's illness and her abduction gets dragged into the episode, as well as Scully's sister, Melissa. Scully comes to believe that the little girl of the mother who killed herself, named Emily, was actually adopted and that Melissa shares the same DNA as her, leading Scully to believe that the girl is Melissa's.

    It does seem a bit confusing, but this first part is all build-up, and while it seems like this two part episode is just a reason to give Scully some more screen-time, but it becomes clear (based on the final moment, which I won't ruin) that this episode actually does have ties with the whole extra-terrestial plot that Mulder seems to have given up on. And the way they subtly bring it into the episode was clever and entertaining. Hopefully, part two can bring everything to a resolution.moreless
  • She needs your help. She needs you Dana. Go to her.

    On her Christmas vacation with her brother's family, Scully receives a mysterious phone call from what she believes is her dead sister, Melissa, who says: "She needs your help. She needs you Dana. Go to her." This leads Scully to a little girl, Emily, who bears an uncanny likeness to her sister at that age. Christmas Carol is a very different mythology episode, full of dream sequences and flashbacks, is probably the most emotional and personal X-File for Dana Scully up to that moment and it comes as the natural conclusion to her abduction arc. The episode focuses entirely on Scully's character's development and that allows for an amazing performance from Gillian Anderson. Scully's pain, her loneliness, her desire for a child are so palpable throughout the episode. We can see in her eyes every emotion Scully feels and how she is still grieving for the loss of her sister and the burden she carries for her death. Especially in the scene where she confronts the social servant about Emily's adoption she is heartbreaking! My other favorite scenes includes the dream sequence with Scully and Melissa when she encourages her about her decision to join the FBI, the scene where Scully confides to her mother that she can not conceive a child and when Scully gives her cross – a very significant object for her – to little Emily. Christmas Carol is an attempt for an intuitive look into Scully's soul and the result is this very special and atmospheric episode!moreless
Mecca Menard

Mecca Menard

Emily Sim (cut scenes)

Guest Star

Melinda McGraw

Melinda McGraw

Melissa Scully

Guest Star

Pat Skipper

Pat Skipper

Bill Scully Jr.

Guest Star

Sheila Larken

Sheila Larken

Margaret Scully

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Look closely at the logo that appears on the back of the photograph shown to Scully by Bill to prove that Melissa could not have been pregnant in 1994. It's reassuring to know that Melissa trusted the "ETAP" brand for her photo paper needs. "ETAP" is the fictional brand of film first used in "Unruhe" and later in "Small Potatoes."

    • There is no way that Scully could have filed an adoption petition AND completed an adoption services investigation in the two days between the murder (Dec 22) and her meeting with the adoption services worker (Dec 24). In California, where the episode takes place, an adoption investigation takes weeks, if not months, before it is completed, and it also requires a home study, which could not have been done as Scully was visiting her mother for Christmas.

    • The date of this episode, as shown onscreen in the opening scene, is December 21. However, the toxicology report into Roberta Sim's death states that it occurred on August 9.

    • The toxicology report lists the birthdate of Mrs. Sim as 6/6/67 which would make her 30, but Detective Kresge says that she is 40 years of age.

    • Scully's FBI badge number that she gives to the phone company is different to the one she gives in season 4's 'Teliko'.

    • In Scully's dream we learn that she and Melissa received their cross necklaces for Christmas one year (young Dana looks about 13 or 14), but in season 2's 'Ascension', Margaret says that she gave Scully the necklace for her 15th birthday.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Scully: Says here that your precinct visited the Sim's before, two weeks ago. A domestic disturbance.
      Detective Kresge: We sent a unit cause the neighbors were complaining. They were screaming at each other. Wasn't a happy household. Happy people don't kill themselves.

    • Tara Scully: Oh! Oh, that was a good one!
      Bill Scully Jr: What? Is he kicking?
      Tara Scully: Oh, he's kicking! He's kick-boxing! Well you had boys and girls, so which one kicked more?
      Margaret Scully: Oh I had some pretty tough little girls.

    • Bill Scully Jr: What's going on? They're... they're joking about you getting a call from a dead woman.
      Scully: I thought it was a dead woman, just not the one in there.
      Bill Scully Jr: What are you talking about?
      Scully: I know it's not possible, Bill. But it sounded just like her.
      Bill Scully Jr: Who?
      Scully: Our sister. Melissa.

    • (Scully enters the crime scene at the Sim residence and Detective Kresge ushers her out)
      Detective Kresge: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Who are you?
      Scully: Scully. FBI. (flashing badge) Can you tell me what's going on here?
      Detective Kresge: Well, no offence Scully FBI, what's it to you?
      Scully: I received a phone call... from this address. It was a woman's voice. She said that somebody here needed help.
      Detective Kresge: When was this?
      Scully: About 20 minutes ago.
      Detective Kresge: I've been here 30 minutes. I guarantee you no one's called out, to you or anyone else. The phone's off the hook.
      Scully: Please can you tell me what happened here?
      (Detective Kresge takes Scully through to the bathroom)
      Detective Kresge: This is Mrs Roberta Sim. Age 40. Suicide. She's been dead at least three hours. If you got a call from her, she must have dialed 1-800-The-Great-Beyond.

    • Margaret: What is it?
      Scully: It's the DNA test on Emily Sim's blood.
      Bill: What does it say?
      Scully: It says, definitely, that Melissa is not Emily's mother, but that they found striking genetic similarities between Emily and Melissa, so many that they ran a test against another sample that they already had.
      Margaret: What sample?
      Bill: What are you trying to say?
      Scully: According to this... I am Emily's mother.

  • NOTES (4)

    • There is a wonderful subtle moment between Margaret and Melissa Scully, during the flashback scene when the girls receive their cross necklaces. While teenage Dana is enchanted, teenage Melissa seems to be quickly covering up her disappointment. Makes a nice link to the moment in 'One Breath' when Margaret greets Melissa, crystal-dowsing over a comatose Scully, with a tension-laden "I'm glad you could come".

    • The person who ran the DNA analysis at the end of the episode was named John Gillnitz. This is yet another reference to the names of the three writers John Shiban, Vince Gilligan, and Frank Spotnitz.

    • The young girl playing the teenage Dana is Gillian Anderson's real life 14-year-old sister Zoe, in her first acting role.

    • Mulder's absence in this episode was due to David Duchovny being in LA promoting his movie Playing God.


    • Name reference: The Sim Family
      Emily's adoptive family name of Sim is taken from actor Alastair Sim, who played Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1951 British movie version of A Christmas Carol.

    • Title: Christmas Carol
      The title of this episode is reminiscent of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Instead of Scrooge being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future; Scully is "visited" by her deceased sister Melissa, and several earlier versions of herself.