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Special Agent Fox Mulder
Special Agent Dana Scully
Dr Daniel Trepkos
Dr Adam Pierce
The organism in the episode is referred to as "silicon-based", yet it is capable of growing within a carbon-based human body.
The theme of this episode was inspired by the real life NASA, NSF sponsored Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute project Dante I (a six legged 'spider-like' robot designed and implemented by CMU robotics team in 1990 to explore an active volcano- Mt Erebus). There is a scene in this episode that shows an image of the 'Firewalker' robot. The (prop) robot in this scene is a close representation of the real machine down to the six legs, body, laser scanner and sensor mast.
Plot Hole: While looking at the microscope, Scully says that she's not a botanist but she's quite sure the fungus is unknown to science. Fungi are not plants, they belong to a whole different kingdom and are the object of study of mycologists, not botanists.
Not a goof, but some creative editing: After Mulder, Scully and Dr. Pierce are dropped off at the volcano research site, the shot of the helicopter flying away is the same shot as when it was arriving, but flipped around so the copter is now flying from screen right to screen left - you can tell by looking at the mountain formations in the back ground.
Mulder: I'm going to go find Trepkos.
Scully: What if he's already dead?
Mulder: Then he'll have a tough time answering my questions.
Scully: I'm back, and I'm not going anywhere.
Mulder: (voice-over) Scully and I are in the third day of a month-long quarantine, undergoing level 4 decon procedures. We are so far without symptoms of fungal contamination. All our specimens and field notes were confiscated by the military biohazard corps prior to our evacuation. Their presence has delayed for an indefinite period the arrival of the USGS data retrieval team. I suspect, though, that there will be little left for them to retrieve. There are no plans at present to explore further any of the hundreds of volcanically active mountains in the Cascade Range, including Mount Avalon. All access points to that volcano have been sealed off by army engineers.... Of the members of the Firewalker descent team, only Trepkos and O'Neil remain unaccounted for. They are presumed dead, and the search for them has been abandoned. Firewalker, however, was recovered, though its sensory and locomotive systems were found to be irreparably damaged. The data it collected from the earth's interior will never be known. And of the events that occurred at Mount Avalon between the 11th and 13th of November, 1994, mine stands as the only record.
Trepkos: You still believe you can petition heaven and get some penetrating answer. If you found that answer, what would you do with it?
Mulder: What went wrong, Trepkos? Firewalker carried something back to the surface.
Trepkos: Firewalker brought up an elephant. The truth is an elephant described by three blind men. The first man touches the tail and says it's a rope. The second man feels the rough leg and says it's a tree. The third man feels the trunk and says it's a snake.
Mulder: What about you? What do you say it is?
Mulder: Why are you doing this, Trepkos? He's already dead. How many times do you have to kill him?
Trepkos: It's not him I'm trying to kill.
Mulder: So what is it, Scully? What are we dealing with?
Scully: Without better imaging equipment, I can't say for sure.
Mulder: I'll take any theory you've got.
Scully: It appears to be some kind of a fungus.
Mulder: Anything you recognize?
Scully: Well, I'm not a botanist, but I think it's fair to guess that it's an unknown genus.
Mulder: What am I looking at here?
Scully: Spores. I scraped them off the tip of the fungus. It appears as if one of the spores grew inside of Tanaka until it reached reproductive maturity ... essentially outgrowing its host. But by then, it had already caused massive tissue damage, particularly to the respiratory tract.
Mulder: That would account for the sand in his lungs.
Ludwig: You found sand in his lungs?
Mulder: Silicon dioxide, the waste product of a silicon-based organism.
O'Neil: I'm scared. I don't want to die here.
Scully: What are you so afraid of, Jesse?
O'Neil: Daniel. The only reason I even came here was because of him. He promised me that this would be an adventure...and that it would change my life. But eight months is a long time, and I just want to go home now.
Scully: Where is home?
O'Neil: Anywhere but here.
Mulder: I found several references to a subterranean organism.
Scully: What are you talking about?
Mulder: An unknown organism, existing within the volcano. I haven't found anything yet that describes it in specific terms but ...
Scully: Mulder, nothing can live in a volcanic interior, not only because of the intense heat but the gases would be toxic to any organism.
Mulder: What does this say?
Scully: It describes the metabolism from hydrogen sulfide into silicon dioxide.
Mulder: Doesn't that suggest a silicon-based life form?
Scully: But the fundamental building block for every organism known to man is carbon, from the smallest bacterium to the largest redwood tree.
Mulder: Yes, but silicon is the closest element to carbon. It reacts almost identically with other elements, the way it combines to form complex molecules. A silicon-based lifeform in the deep biosphere has been one of the Holy Grails of modern science.
Mulder: He just about took my head off!
Ludwig: I told you I made a mistake, OK? I'm sorry, all right?
Mulder: Well, who the hell are you?
Ludwig: I'm Ludwig. I'm Jason Ludwig. I'm the robotics engineer for the descent team.
Mulder: You always greet people this way?
Mulder: Scully? I don't think it's a good idea for you to go.
Scully: Mulder, I appreciate your concern - but I'm ready. I want to work.
Mulder: Well, maybe you should take some time off.
Scully: I've already lost too much time.
Trepkos: (on video) Scientific data? We're talking about revisiting the very origin of the earth, peering into the fire where it all began - a human endeavor more important even than man's exploration of space.
Hiro Kanagawa, who plays Peter Tanaka in this episode also appears in a different role in fourth season's episode "Synchrony"
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