The X-Files

Season 2 Episode 22

F. Emasculata

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Apr 28, 1995 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

Write A Review
out of 10
337 votes
  • The pus episode!

    One of the most purely enjoyable episodes from the second season, "F. Emasculata" gets everything right from the get-go. Always fondly remembered as being one of the show's more disgusting excursions, it does boast some very simple but highly effective pulsating bladder effects – usually on people's faces – that every now and then erupt with pus. Delightful. Marry that up with a manhunt story as Mulder chases after 2 escaped lifer convicts who might be infected with this contagion and you have "Panic in the Streets" from an X File point of view. But of course there's a bit more to it than that and I think we can detect the hand of Chris Carter in this. Not content with being a simple race against time story, Carter ups the ante by inserting a whole subtext of governmental involvement and cover-up. Nowhere is this better crystallised in probably the episode's best scene, a midnight encounter for Mulder with Skinner in his office and with the Cigarette Smoking Man in attendance. Everything is steeped in shadow in this scene, most notably Skinner's involvement in the case, and of course William B. Davis clearly relishes his chance to be insidiously evil by being so relatively normal. It also clearly illustrates Mulder's all consuming need to expose the truth, and his frustration is all too clear when he finds himself unable to do so. Duchovny gives a strong committed performance here that generates a lot of empathy. So while Mulder does the legwork and proves his investigative worth on the manhunt, Scully has the less glamorous task of being holed up in a prison that is the source point for a highly infectious killer disease. Unabashed by this, she nevertheless spends most of her time being a complete nuisance and ferreting around for some answers. Medical doctor she may be, but Scully does alarm us several times in this scenario by simply not wearing her surgical mask enough. Naturally being a lead in the show, it's highly unlikely that she'll get sprayed with pus, though she still must undergo the less than pleasant task of having a bug strapped to her arm for half an hour. It's a measure of Gillian Anderson's enormous ability as an actress that the scene where Scully discovers that she hasn't been infected and her subsequent relief doesn't need any dialogue. Anderson communicates Scully's feelings with just one telling roll of her eyes. The episode is well paced and well plotted, leading to a tense standoff in a bus station. And typically for this show the loose ends left dangling at the conclusion are done so deliberately. Skinner's warning to the agents that this is just the start of bigger things is suitably ominous, but to tell the truth, these 2 risk their lives week in week out, one can only wonder how things could get any more perilous for them. Still, coming 22 episodes into what has been a consistently excellent season, "F. Emasculata" demonstrates the suppleness and high level of quality of the show to a most satisfying degree.