The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 4

Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Oct 13, 1995 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
478 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

In the midst of a psychic sideshow while on a murder case, Mulder and Scully enlist the help of a man who may have a true psychic ability to foresee how people will die to help the agents catch a man killing fortune tellers.

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  • Best Episode Ever.

    Absolutely amazing episode would be an understatement. Superbly done and well thought-out, well written and just overall an incredible episode. Deeply frightening and thrilling to the core - I absolutely LOVE IT. Greatest episode of all time. Ended it on the note of asking my brother if they had won an award for it, which I'm glad to find out that they have. Astounded by the brilliance of this show. Found this to be the scariest episode of anything I've ever watched - and also loved the jokes that they threw in. Peter Boyle's performance was one of the finest I have seen.moreless
  • First-time X-Files viewer

    This is one of the finest hours of television I've ever seen. Funny and clever, with great characters and dialogue. Believe I'll be watching more of this show.
  • Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose

    Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose was a truly superb episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was well written, the guest cast was amazing and there was a lot of action and suspense. It was awesome watching Mulder and Scully work on this case and I liked when Bruckman told Scully she doesn't die. I am intrigued to learn how this episode will come into play down the road. The ending was great, and I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • A quality episode, but not, in this reviewer's opinion, deserving of the amount of praise it has received.

    I saw that this episode made TV Guide's Best Television Episodes Ever at #10. I was shocked. Don't get me wrong, it's a great episode. It has solid writing, an exciting plot, and it is well paced. However, there was nothing about the episode that screamed "best episode ever' to me.

  • There are hits, and there are misses, and then there are hits. This one is destined for immortality.


    Superbly embodied veteran character actor the late Peter Boyle, Clyde Bruckman is surely one of the more tragic and courageous figures to ever cross the X-Files screen. Even Fox Mulder, who says he envies Bruckman's gift, does not have the courage to face the knowledge of his own death. Bruckman himself fears and loathes his power. Unable to tame his own wild talent, he gives in to despair, denying all hope of change. Of course, by retreating to this passivity, he guarantees that his visions will come true. He fails, for example, to warn Mrs. Lowe of her impending fate, fails to warn Detective Havez of his imminent murder. Left in ignorance, of course, these individuals cannot make the choices that might avert their ends, and events fall out as Bruckman foresaw. This moral cowardice in an otherwise appealing character was unsettling, but entirely believable, and served to delineate Bruckman even more clearly as a living, breathing, flawed human being.

    The setting for this morality play is simple: Mulder and Scully are called in to consult with St. Paul cops who are trying to find a serial killer preying on fortune tellers. Gruesome as the murders are, even more grotesque is the performance of "The Stupendous Yappi", a TV- prophet fakir of such obvious shallowness that he makes last season's "Dr. Blockhead" look like a pillar of rectitude. When a body is discovered by Clyde Bruckman, a reluctant oracle, Mulder is delighted to find an actual, genuine psychic involved in the case. His eager-beaver questioning ("Pinch me!"), in which he treats Bruckman like a lab rat to be poked and prodded for answers, reveals the insatiable curiosity behind Mulder's "obsession" with the supernatural. Clearly an expert in various forms of divination, from anthropomancy to tea-leaf reading, Mulder is overjoyed to find a real psychic on whom to test his theories. Scully, who does not believe in psychic ability, is free to treat Bruckman as a real human being, and the relationship between them moves from strained tolerance to a warm understanding. Perhaps unconsciously, Bruckman reacts to this treatment by telling Scully that she will not die, and then turns around and keeps the pesky Agent Mulder up all night by telling him horror stories.

    Throughout "Clyde Bruckman" the tension between Mulder, pressing for more information, and Bruckman, reluctant to exercise a talent which has never made any difference in people's lives anyway, drives the show through deeper and deeper layers of angst and dread. Mulder, clearly in the free- will camp, demands information which will let him act. Bruckman, convinced all action is unavailing because the future has already been written, sees the engagement of his powers only as a painful exercise in futility. Both men's points of view are borne out, as the incidents foretold by Bruckman come to pass--but with a different twist. Bruckman accurately foretells Mulder's assault in the kitchen--which permits Mulder to defend himself effectively.

    Morgan plays diabolically clever jokes on us. Scully plays poker with a clairvoyant--not a bright idea--who holds the infamous "Aces and Eights" Dead Man's Hand that Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he died. But Morgan, typically, goes Wild Bill one better--Bruckman is holding a full house whereas Hickok was only holding a measly two pair. The in-joke is doubled in value and we get twice the kick out of it. At the end of the episode, we see a clip from a Laurel and Hardy film, with excellent special effects that make the duo look like skeletons. We are reminded simultaneously of the skeleton that Clyde Bruckman dreamed of, and for those movie fanatics among us, of the "real" Clyde Bruckman, the scriptwriter who worked for Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel and Hardy, who committed suicide. This level of subtlety is almost fiendish.

    Director David Nutter rings in with some truly wonderful moments: the wordless instant of horrified recognition between the killer and Clyde Bruckman, the infinitely gentle look of pity on Scully's face as she sits beside Bruckman's body, the stark terror in Mulder's face as his throat is cut in the fantasy sequence. The pacing of the opening sequences--almost cartoonish in their garish light and sprightly movement--contrast very energetically with the brooding, somber displays of Bruckman's despair and resignation. Scully standing like an avenging Valkyrie in the service elevator, shooting down the killer without blinking an eye, drew outright applause from me. The scene in the forest where the team is hunting a body, which ends with Scully, Mulder and Bruckman dwarfed by the huge trees and thick ferns, lent balance to the scenes where we are so intently focused on a grimace, a blink, a smile.

    Morgan resists the temptation to make the nameless killer of this episode more important than he is. In a whodunit like this, for example, there is no point in looking for a motive. The motives of psychotic killers are beyond our comprehension anyway, and to have elaborate psychological profiles of them may well be a waste of time. Bruckman explains the killer to himself at the end: "Don't you get it? You do the things you do because you're a homicidal maniac!" While this is like explaining that someone is fat because they are obese, it is still true. There is no point in seeking a deeper motive than disconnected psychosis.

    Bruckman's sly tease to Mulder, wherein he hints that Mulder will die of autoerotic asphyxiation, made me laugh until I cried. Mulder's quote from "Chantilly Lace" alone--"you know what I like" stole the scene. The joke of having Scully park on the body they are looking for, the slyness of having the frustrated Clyde Bruckman identifying Mulder's own Knicks' T- shirt from "Beyond the Sea" (and then having Mulder deny it!), and the sheer silliness of The Stupendous Yappi's scene-stealing eyebrows are examples of black humor at its finest.

    I cannot close without adding that the relationship between Mulder and Scully *has* definitely changed in this episode, and for the better. The teasing is back--you would have to kill Mulder to stop him from teasing--and the teamwork is back, even better. Scully and Mulder back one another to the hilt. Mulder drops his gun, naturally, but finally Scully does not. And Morgan's skill is echoed by Duchovny and Anderson, who manage to show us Mulder's skeptical side and Scully's nascent "believer" side without distorting either character. It is tough to do that, and they did it very, very well.

Peter Boyle (I)

Peter Boyle (I)

Clyde Bruckman

Guest Star

Stu Charno

Stu Charno


Guest Star

Frank Cassini

Frank Cassini

Detective Cline

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Principal Setting: St. Paul, Minnesota

    • Goof: Clyde Bruckman tells Fox that the death of The Big Bopper was what caused him to become a psychic. He claimed that the Big Bopper had won a coin toss to get a seat on Buddy Holly's plane. This is not factually correct as it was Ritchie Valens who won a coin toss, and subsequently died with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper in the crash.

    • Place Name: Le Damfino Hotel

      The hotel where Scully and Mulder put Clyde Bruckman up is Le Damfino. This is a one-word spelling of the phrase damn if I know.

    • When Bruckman guesses that the scrap of cloth is part of Mulder's New York Knick's t-shirt, it refers directly back to Beyond The Sea, another episode with supposed psychics.

    • If you look at Clyde Bruckman's lotto card it clearly says "Oct 9/95 Mon" but a few scenes later the text on the screen reads "September 21".

    • In the scene where Clyde is looking at his lotto number and listening to the person on the radio reading the numbers off, you hear the numbers "38, 40, 44" and then she starts to read them again and you hear "8, 12". Clyde had the numbers but all by 1 off. The winning numbers seem to be "8, 12, 36, 38, 40, 44" and Clyde had "9, 13, 37, 39, 41, 45.

    • When playing poker with Scully, Bruckman has "aces full of eights" - a better hand than a dead man's hand (a two-pair, aces and eights).

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Detective Cline: Look, all I know is that so far, Yappi has provided more solid, concrete leads on this case than you have. Now if you don't mind, I have to get an APB out on a -(checks notebook) white male, aged 17 - 34 with or without a beard and maybe a tattoo, who's impotent.
      Scully: Might as well go home, Mulder. This case is as good as solved.

    • Clyde: I'd like to see both of your badges again. Right now?
      (Mulder and Scully take out their badges)
      Scully: I don't blame you, Mr. Bruckman.
      Clyde: (scoffs at Mulder's badge): I'm supposed to believe that's a real name? ... What is this all about? I found a dead body in my dumpster and I reported it to the police. Now suddenly I'm accused of doing things or being able to do things I couldn't possibly-- (Breaks off and walks slowly over to table, which is spattered with blood. Runs for the bathroom and vomits.)
      Mulder: (To Scully) Pinch me.

    • Clyde: What is this?
      Mulder: The only evidence recovered from Claude Duckenfield's body. That fiber may have come from something the killer was wearing at the time of the crime.
      Clyde: Don't you have crime labs that could analyze these things for you?
      Scully: (meaningful look at Mulder) Yes! Yes, we do.
      Clyde: Look, I've got my own work to do. I'm not a crime fighter by trade.
      Mulder: Mr. Bruckman. I can't speak for my partner. But I'm desperate. For some insurance.
      Clyde: General Mutual has some very comprehensive coverage...
      (Mulder waves the evidence bag in front of Clyde's face)
      Clyde: Oh I can't tell you where this is from, but the killer is going to kill more people before you catch him.
      Scully: Can you see him physically yet?
      Clyde: No. No, just more insight into his character which I know you hate.

    • Clyde: We're almost there.
      Mulder: Now how are you receiving this information about the body's location?
      Clyde: How should I know?
      Mulder: I mean are you seeing it in a vision or is it a sensation? How do you know where to go?
      Clyde: I just know.
      Mulder: But how do you know?
      Clyde: I don't know!! (Mulder leans into the back seat and sulks) Look it's just up ahead. There are worse ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified one than autoerotic asphyxiation.
      Mulder: (Leans forward) And why are you telling me that?
      Clyde: Look, forget I mentioned it. It's none of my business.

    • Scully: The company is owned by a man named...
      Clyde: Claude Duckenfield. Age 43. 316 Roundview Lane. Divorced with two children. Makes about 87,000 a year. Nonsmoker.
      Mulder: Is that a hit or a miss?
      Scully: As far as I know, that's correct.
      Mulder: You get all that information just by handling that keychain?
      Clyde: Oh no, I sold him a policy a couple of years ago. Just a coincidence.

    • Clyde: I don't know what it is, but it belonged to one of the victims.
      Mulder: That's a hit. In psychical research parlance, a correct guess is a hit, an incorrect guess is a miss.
      Clyde: The guy who cast the mold for this will die of prostate cancer at the age of 82. Hit or miss?
      Mulder: I have no way of verifying that information.
      Clyde: Then why'd you ask me?
      Mulder: Do you receive any other impressions from it?
      Clyde: It's ugly. Next.

    • (Scully shoots the killer in the chest)
      Puppet: Hey, that's not the way it's supposed to happen...
      (Scully rushes to Mulder's side)
      Mulder: How'd you know where to find us?
      Scully: I didn't. I got in the service elevator by mistake.
      Mulder: Thank heaven for happenstance.

    • Yappi: Skeptics like you make me sick.
      Mulder: Mr.Yappi, read this thought.
      (Yappi concentrates for a moment)
      Yappi: So's your old man!

    • Clyde Bruckman: You're looking down. You stepped in a pie that's fallen of the floor. The killer comes to you and... Coconut Cream.
      Mulder: What?
      Clyde Bruckman: The pie... eh, coconut cream or, or is it lemon meringue?

    • Clyde Bruckman: I've got it! You tore this off of your New York Knicks t-shirt.
      Mulder: Miss.
      Clyde: (Exasperated Sigh)...This is worse than playing the lotto.

    • (At the crime scene where the victim's eyes and entrails have been left on the table)
      Photographer: They say the eyes capture the last image the murder victim sees before they get killed.
      Detective Cline: What do they say about the entrails?
      Photographer: "Yuck."

    • Mr Gordon: We were really hoping to buy a boat.
      Clyde Bruckman: Mister Gordon, uh, as a young husband, I think you're going to find that your new responsibilities to your family take precedent over your recreational needs.
      Mr Gordon: But this is a really good boat.
      Clyde Bruckman: You don't get it, do you, kid? Two years from now, while driving down Route 91... coming home to your wife and baby daughter... you're going to be hit head-on by a drunk... driving a blue '87 mustang. You'll end up looking worse than sixty feet of bad road your body slides across... after flying out your front windshield.
      Mr Gordon: Mister... you really need to work on your closing technique.

    • Scully: All right. So how do I die?
      Clyde Bruckman: You don't.

    • (The serial killer brings in the room service order and pulls a knife)
      Clyde Bruckman: Was that not enough of a tip?

    • Scully: You prognosticated Buddy Holly's death?
      Clyde Bruckman: Oh, God, no. Why would I want to do that? But I did have a ticket to see him perform the next night. Actually, I was a bigger fan of the Big Bopper than Buddy Holly. "Chantilly Lace," that was the song.
      Mulder: I'm not following.
      Clyde Bruckman: There's... the Big Bopper was not supposed to be on the plane with Buddy Holly. He won the seat from somebody else by flipping a coin for it.
      Mulder: I'm still not following.
      Clyde Bruckman: Imagine all the things that had to occur, not only in his life, but in everybody else's, to arrange it so on that particular night, the Big Bopper would be in a position to live or die depending on a flipping coin. I became so obsessed with that idea that I gradually became capable of seeing the specifics of everybody's death.

    • Clyde Bruckman: How can I see the future if it didn't already exist?
      Mulder: But if the future is written, then why bother to do anything?
      Clyde Bruckman: Now you're catching on.

    • Clyde Bruckman: Do you want to know how you're going to die?
      Mulder: Yes.
      Clyde Bruckman: No, you don't.

    • Mulder: Be honest, Scully. Doesn't that propane tank bear more than a slight resemblance to a fat little white Nazi stormtrooper?
      Scully: Mulder, the human mind naturally seeks out meaningful patterns and configurations in things that don't inherently have any. Given the suggestion of a particular image, you couldn't help but see that shape somewhere. If that tank weren't there, you'd see it in a a rock or in a tree.
      Mulder: Did you answer my question? (long pause)
      Scully: Yes, it looks like a fat little white Nazi stormtrooper, but that only proves my point.

  • NOTES (10)

    • A common misconception when it comes to tarot-readings is that Death in fact means death, when the card Death actually means change. When it comes to fatalities the card The Tower is more of a harbinger of death than the card Death. This could be applied to almost every show ever involving tarot cards.

    • In this episode, Clyde Bruckman says to Scully that she won't die, and gives no further explanations.
      In a later episode of the show, Scully sees the Reaper in the eyes of a dying person, so this could mean that she is actually immortal.

    • The actor who plays 'The Stupendous Yappi' is actually Jaap (pronounced Yapp) Broeker - David Duchovny's stand-in. Apparently, Darin Morgan saw Broeker on the set waggling his eyebrows and wrote a scene for him.

    • Alex Diakun (the Tarot reader) also appeared in different roles in two other X-Files episodes: The Curator in episode 44 (2-20), Humbug and Dr. Fingers in episode 69 (3-20), Jose Chung's From Outer Space.

    • This episode marks the first appearance of Scully's dog Queequeg.

    • Peter Boyle's Outstanding Guest Actor Emmy for this episode is his only win from 8 nominations. He was nominated 5 times for his supporting role as Frank Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond.

    • In the episode "Beyond the Sea", Mulder tests the psychic abilities of the killer Luther Lee Boggs with a piece of his torn Knicks t-shirt. In this episode, Bruckman is shown holding a piece of cloth and saying that it was torn from Mulder's t-shirt.

    • This episode was named by TV Guide as one of the greatest episodes in TV history.

    • The character of Clyde Bruckman is named after a screenwriter by the same name for Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd in the days of silent films. Also, the name of the hotel, Le Damfino, is a reference to the name of the boat used by Buster Keaton in the 1921 movie "The Boat".

    • Peter Boyle and Darin Morgan both won Prime-Time Emmy awards in 1996 for this episode, for Outstanding Guest Actor and Outstanding Writing respectively.