The X-Files

Season 1 Episode 14

Gender Bender

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Jan 21, 1994 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (24)

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out of 10
476 votes
  • Welcome Nick Lea!!!

    I agree with a lot of the reviewers here, the plot was . There are signs of good acting, but it can't fully materialize because there isn't much of a plot to support it. It was cool to see Nick Lea's debut though...
  • A weird episode

    Some old cult is doing cermonies while one of their kills a lot of people, they protect and take care of their own. Scully almost killed. There is no conspiracy here either wich is a let down, wish it was more of it in the beginning.
  • Let's throw a bunch of randomness together and call it an episode

    This episode was too weird for me at first, then I thought it held promise, and then all went to hell. They kept throwing in kinks and never straightening them out. They can change sexes, there are no children, they bury people alive who then proceed to reverse aging. They can make people have sex with them, there's something special about walling themselves up in clay, oh and they just flew away in their space craft which was somehow completely hidden the entire time Mulder and Scully were snooping around. What? And if they are aliens, why make themselves stick out by living like the Amish? Apparently they don't have issues with advanced technology since they have a freaking space ship! I simply adore the show but this episode totally rubbed me the wrong way.
  • A Rollercoaster of a Story

    Now, this is a strange episode. It starts off bad, gets good, then gets bad again at the end. I don't know whether too many writers worked on this one, or not enough. But it winds up a terrible mess of half-hatched ideas that just seem to be thrown together.

    Oddly enough, once I got past the ridiculous opening scenes and introduced to The Kindred, I thought the story became interesting. Of course, it still had moments of off-the-wall silliness, such as Scully being overwhelmed by her lustful hormones and Mulder doing his invisible-as-a-ninja routine in the cave, but it was looking like it was going to be an episode well-worth watching. But then, the writers just summed it all up with a "they're aliens!" cop-out ending that was nothing more than a quick, cheating way to "explain" everything.

    THIS EPISODE WANTS US TO BELIEVE IN: Shape-shifting, Lust-inducing Murderous Aliens Living Amongst Us as Religious Zealots.


    I gave this episode an extra point for the excellent cinematography throughout. Good or bad episode, the look of the scenes are outstanding in this last half of the season. There's nothing easy about filming at night, and even the day scenes are extrordinary-- the work of a quality crew.
  • The kindred are aliens

    This was a really good X-file episode as it showed a real mystery when Mulder and Scully investigate murders committed by the same person where victims are different sexes and have been killed shortly after sex.This lead them to a strange group called the Kindred and one of them tries to kill Scully and in the end appear to be aliens when they some how take the killer from the murders Mulder and Scully are investigating and vanish into thin air and in the field a shape of some sort of alien aircraft was there which means they have left and that the kindred was a type of alien race.
  • Gender Bender

    Making a big jumble of movies like "The Village" and "Basic Instinct", this great episode of "The X-Files" has a level of suspense as good as the level of weirdness. It begins with a sexual mystery, then walks to social isolation and ends well in the climate of the series, not counting the endless theories. After all, there is indeed a pheromone created by humans in their correspondence with their mutual sexual partners? Hard to know. But the similarity of the human and other animals wild and irrational has never been denied, especially in the desires and instincts, which becomes clear when Scully, a victim of "charm" of one of the residents, appears as the classic example of how human beings are submissive to their most primitive desires, which even if not it will make such an attitude, it is undeniable that he was about to make, mesmerized by the look, smell and touch of hands. The question murderer or killer established in the episode reveals nothing more than the multitude of threats facing inside, is a secret society, mutants or aliens. There is indirect in great episode about religious fanaticism and repression Catholic, explicit dialogue "Are not they famous for practice abstinence and ridges? - It seems that one of them forgot to wash your nails, "ie, the group is host to many hypocrites who pretend to have clean fingernails. On the isolation and secret society formed by the fear of violence monstrous contaminant of social norms, the modern way of life, what remains is to think how these motives influence on his trip ... or taken in a safe distance. It is clear that the killer wanted fugitive experience our world of instant pleasures and accessible, but it was a slip up group than mild severely self-excluded. The ending, although very risky, the episode ends well and concludes the reason why so much isolation and experimentation done the pleasures of the human population. An episode very tense, very eclectic in his themes and it had everything to go wrong, but ended up giving quite right.
  • Gender Bender

    Gender Bender was a perfect and very entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because there was a lot of intrigue, drama and mystery. The story was well written, the acting was good and the ending was actually pretty awesome. I liked watching Mulder and Scully investigating this case involving a group of people who live similarly to The Amish though they are definitely different in many ways. I wish we could have learned more about them. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!
  • What happens in Amish country, stays in Amish country. This episode is a prime example of why major story and character revelations should NOT take place in stand alone stories, otherwise known as Monster Of The Week episodes.


    In Genderbender, Mulder not only comes across evidence of a UFO but he and Scully both come into contact, and in the case of Scully, very intimate contact, with what we are led to believe are actual "aliens".

    Yet this extraordinary event, which should drastically change both their lives, especially Mulders, seeing as how this is what he's been searching for most of his adult life, will never be mentioned again nor will it have any impact on the overall mytharc storyline that the series revolves around. Because as we'll come to learn in later seasons, major character revelations don't count unless they happen in a mytharc episode.

    You would think the discovery of a group of aliens living amongst us under the guise of an Amish family on the outskirts of small town USA would be a major turning point in the mytharc, but instead this is a throw away stand alone episode in which the contents of the investigation will never be recognized nor mentioned of again by either Mulder or Scully.

    The final scene in which it is revealed that -SPOILER ALERT!- the Amish family (if that is in fact what they were supposed to be) are actually aliens visiting Earth is, to me, a total cop out. If this had been a movie then the final scene in Genderbender would have not only been perfectly fine, but also a spooky twist ending. But since this is a television series in which we will pick up on the main characters lives next week, an ending like this is nothing but a cop out. None of the revelations uncovered in this episode will matter next week. It will be like the events of Genderbender never even took place. Here we have Mulder uncovering and coming into contact with an Alien race, and yet, because it occurs in a stand alone monster of the week episode, none of this will be acknowledged in future mytharc episodes. In other words, what happened in Amish country, will stay in Amish country.

  • Our first glimpse of Nick lea

    Wow. the adams family find religion- Mulder. Murder/rapes (Well not really rape) become an xfile when the suspect can change gender. Mulder has a pile of his xfiles that all have similarities. All the victims walk into the room with a member of the opposite sex and then a mysterious person leaves the scene. It is first shown with a man who does the "wild thing" with a woman he met in a bar. after he dies she turns into a he and leaves the room. Nick lea has the same problem as he plays micheal. lucky for him they got caught by the police and the he she runs away. Somehow the kindred a religious group is invovled
  • A horny alien, with the ability to change gender, causes several deaths and takes Fox and Scully into a rural community whereby the alien's kin have choosen to live a simple life, seperate from the modern world.

    The X-Files series manages to offend the Amish and the transgender community with a weak script that, even for a sci-fi series, leaves more questions then answers and seems remarkably uncomfortable with the sci-fi prospects of a fluid gender identity.

    It would have been less offensive, had it been made more clear that the murderous alien is an outcaste among his own kind, not for his fluid gender identity, which is something all these aliens share, but rather his selfish, big city, materalism interests and his casual affairs with human beings.

    Instead, the episode leaves us with a deceptive and murderous transvestite in contrast to a honest, sober and seemingly conventional [gender wise] group of Amish-like folk whose fluid gender identity is largely ignored in favor of odd scenes where Fox learns that these quaint Amish aliens go into some form of hybernation to prolong their life.

    I am hardly the type of person to expect television to be, "politically correct" but this episode was offensive to watch.
  • Is it possible?

    It was a good episode. They had to make a group of people
    who barely have contact with civilization, be part alien, or
    at least that's what we learn at the end.

    I can't believe Scully acted so naive in this episode. I guess she didn't listen to whatever Mulder explained to her about the case. She should listen to Mulder more often.

    The whole plot about a person swaping genders at will is fascinating but at the same time, I guess is not that far-fetched from reality. Not that there are people who do it, back I keep thinking about chimeras, the only difference is that in chimeras the person doesn't change, it's two in one. All the time. Maybe it's a bad comparison, but it's real.

    Again, the partners go separate ways to investigate and again Mulder surprises me with his obsession and passion. He leaves Scully behind and she acts so naive and lets herself get carried away by a man who could've killed her. Mulder is a concerned by this and shows it to Scully. Though I don't have a favorite moment, I love how Mulder rescues Scully and holds her so close to him.

  • A guilty pleasure

    I enjoyed this episode. Not the best of season 1, and clearly a filler, but it was so strange, it was cool. Like many episodes of x-files, this story could have been a feature length film. However, they could have gotten a lesser goofy looking dude to play the Andrew character. My only complaint is that the end of the episode loses steam, and just kind of ends. i guess they flew off in a space ship or something. Like every episode, i think you should check it out. Plus scully is kind of hot in this one. Woo ho
  • "The wild thing", you say?

    This is an odd and perturbing episode that is often enjoyable but confused. The ending is rediculous and annoying. It would have been far more interesting if the Kindred had learned their techniques, rather than just beign aliens who can run away when convenient. It's also unclear what Brother Oakley's motivations are. Initially it seems that he just wants to keep Scully out of the way, but then he just wants to find his friend. But then he's happy to kill her while they all just let Mulder explore. Then he just wants to find his friend again. Or maybe take revenge on teh one who got away. It may be meant as ambiguous but I felt it just see sawed from extremes.

    That being said, there are nice moments of tension (though you just know Scully will be caught) and an intriguing mystery is set up. It's just a shame that there weren't more clues towards the ending. The only foreshadowing we had was Oakley (is that his name?) referring to "humans" and, stretching the point, talking about "your world". You have to wonder why they were on Earth in the first place. And since human contact is forbidden, why did they change forms? It's all very confusing, which is a shame.
  • "The Addams Family finds religion."

    Genderbender is not a bad episode, it is mildly entertaining, but it lacks cohesion and a sense of closure and, unfortunately, this is not the sort of episode which simply "is" and needs no further statement. The best scene in the episode is when Mulder and Scully are lost in the woods, just prior to their running into the Kindred. I also feel that any episode where David Duchovny uses the ridiculous euphemism, "…..the wild thing" in a sentence and manages to keep a straight face is worth watching. My main problem with this episode is that it resolved itself, Mulder and Scully were simply there, the episode did not even take the opportunity to explore the characters. The idea the episode presented was that a human being became extremely aroused when touched by a member of the Kindred, however, this never-seemed the case, particularly where Scully was concerned, she looked decidedly non-aroused, in fact, throughout the entire scene she looks nauseated. Actually, Scully seemed to be in some sort of stupor throughout the entire episode. On the whole there was little excitement, and both Duchovny and Anderson almost seem bored with the material. Had this idea been executed in later seasons when the characters and the writers were better established it would have played out differently, unfortunately, in the end I was left supremely indifferent to the entire plot.
  • Terrible but terribly entertaining

    I saw this at four o clock in the morning and it was perfect. Reasons why this episode is awesome to watch anyday: -Mulder holds Scully's hand and it is sooooo sweet -Scully almost does the "wild thing" with some creepy Amish guy -Scully throws up -There's a lot of dance club scenes -Mulder says "the wild thing" -Mulder goes down the wrong way in the hallway for no reason When this episode is on, whatever the time is, I WILL watch it, because it is one of those juicy ones that bring me out of a bad mood.
  • Frustrating

    There's a lot of things going on here. Not all of them work, but this episode comes off being a very good one, and a personal highlight of season one. The end is so cool, but also a bit random, and a bit jarring with the rest of this episode. In some ways, writing The X-Files is easy, you just write half a story and don't have to explain what's going on. You can just say, it's an X-File, and it's unexplained. Also, they could have inserted a little scene with Scully thinking about her father couldn't they?
  • Absurd BUT I like it!

    So this one does not make my top ten list, but I still like the creative formula that is conducted! Very cool story premise and very original. The story concept is so absurd and out there, but I think it really works. It's strange yet appealing. I also like the creepiness of it and find it to be satisfying for a X Files episode. I also love the ending and enjoy the ambivalence of it. I also like the creepy vibe of the Amish- like community and feel that it adds a nice touch to the episode and gives the audience a chilly feel.
  • Every Element

    This episode doesn't stand out in my mind as anything spectacular, but I do really enjoy it. It has every aspect of the show that I really like to look for -- Mulder getting territorial about the X-Files cases being investigated by VC or other departments, one of the agents in danger being rescued, and a riveting and intriguing case with no real resolution at the end.

    It was also nice to see Nicholas Lea in that role of a confused young man rather than rat. The only problem I had with this episode is just how unexpectedly the spaceship rescue proposition arose. It almost reminded me of "Deus Ex Machina" -- where Greek plays would end with a "God Out of Machine" trick who would resolve all plotlines at the end with no effort to be crafty.
  • Dammit Amish

    This one of those strange X-Files episodes which could have been awesome, but ends up mostly tedious and probably the worst episode from season one.

    The idea of somebody who can swap genders due to excessive hormones is an intriguing one, but it's completely wasted throughout the episode, with the writers deciding to concentrate on the Amish-like community the genderbender came from. The most irritating thing about the entire episode is the conclusion, with the Kindred seemingly abducted by a UFO. Now, if UFOs were mentioned during the episode, it wouldn't be so bad. But to have a deus ex machina just drop into the script gives the impression that even the writers didn't know where to go with this, so just came up with any old solution. Coupled with the fact that (I'm guessing) the Kindred are never referred to again on the show, the episode feels half-done and empty.

    The only decent aspects of this episode were the city-set genderbender scenes, especially the morphing shots. They look cheap by today's standards, but look stunning when realizing this was the first season and in 1994. I also thought the casting directors did a great job of selecting the actors playing Marty, who both look freakishly similar.

    But the good elements of this episode are difficult to come by, and the rest is mostly painful exposition and Amish clichés, creating an episode which is good as a X-Files-sized sleeping pill, but not much else.

    Director: Rob Bowman
    Writers: Larry Barber, Paul Barber
    Rating: D
  • It's Pat meets The X-Files.

    Perhaps that's a silly way to describe Genderbender, but so is it a silly episode that takes itself far too seriously and yet is so laughable. I almost wonder what the meeting was like where this one was discussed. Amish like aliens who can be both male and female, yet having sex with humans will kill us? Talk about an idea that should have been rejected. There's little to nothing here that makes the episode good, but it fails in such spectacular fashion that it falls into the "it's so bad it's good" category. Still, leaps and bounds better than Space, and even better than Ghost In The Machine because at least it's an original concept, as ludicrous and stupid as it is.
  • Jews? Amish?

    “Gender Bender” is a strange one. It’s probably where the Angel episode “Lonely Heart” got some of its ideas from. Basically murder has nookie, kills the person it did it with, and turns into them. Queue Mulder and Skully to investigate. Somehow they are lead to investigate a religious group, which are a cross between Jews and the Amish, and a bit like the people out of the movie “The Village”. All sorts of things happen in this episode, like Skully nearly gets laid. But then the episode takes a mad plot twist right at the end- I wont spoil it for you. Overall I would say this episode is a good original episode, which has inspired many things after it.
  • Is it a man? Is it a woman? No, it's a... what?

    I really thought I'd like this episode. The premise is actually quite interesting and could have been very well realised.

    Unfortunately, it's not that well done and I lost interest about halfway through. If you know already that the killer might be a man AND woman in the same body (the clue's in the title folks), then they need to do something very special to keep the tension. Sadly, it wasn't that tense - just a bit silly.

    And the ending was not great. Yay, they disappeared, nobody was brought to justice - very X Files - but maybe it's just me, it didn't hang together well.

    Oh and something that's always bugged me - all of the extraterrestrial craft seem to be big saucers, maybe cigars at a pinch. So why haven't we tried to build anything even remotely this shape to go into space? Just a thought.
  • The one with the horny killer

    This episode had a good storyline, great acting, very interesting, creepy, awesome sets and introduced Krycept so why do I still feel like it had something missing?

    to begin with, it let me with a lot of questions. what was that thing where they buried that man. Why didn't they get old? why could they change from male to female and were they supposed to be aliens?

    It starts in a club with a woman taking a guy into bed and after having sex there comes some weird stuff out of the guys mouth shortly before he dies. The woman suddenly changes into a man and leaves the hotel (so why does she change into a he?) Mulder tells Scully that it's the fifth murder and that they found a massive bunch of pheromones in the people who died.

    Anyway eventually they come up with an idea that the killer is Amish and they to go a place (btw those Amish people freaked me out the most of the episode) and one of them touches Scullly's hand and turns her on or something? That guy tries to rape her later but Mulder stops him. So if they are aliens why wasn't he supposed to know about the outside world? Anyway eventually those people take the killer with them and when Scully and Mulder arrive to their home they cannot find anyone and the cafe Mulder was in was suddenly gone and they found some weird space-mark on the grass.

    It was a good and interesting episode that was very well filmed. But it felt like it really missed something.
  • Flat

    A decidedly odd and broken-backed episode, “Genderbender” seems to be trying to be all things and comes off as being about not much in particular at all. Ostensibly an uncomfortable fusion of “Species” and “Witness”, it finds the agents on the trail of a serial killer who kills by sex. However, this interesting premise is swiftly jettisoned in favour of a much less intriguing trip to an Amish wannabe community. Of course these people are strange – they live on the fringes of our society, having chosen to do so. It’s hardly a great revelation that they’re hiding something. The fact that they are able to change sexes is barely visited in terms of this episode.

    After the digression to the community, the agents return to their actual job, ie, tracking down a killer. This aspect is given short shrift too, with poor old Scully repeatedly getting hit on in more ways than one. This, coupled with the fact that this is the darkest and dampest X File yet investigated, makes for a fairly lugubrious experience.

    It is also resolved in less than satisfactory manner with the Kindred simply disappearing into thin air. There had been little intimation that they were aliens, other than the rather belaboured point that they are alien in that they live apart from society. Still, it does strike one as being a bit odd that, not wanting to draw attention to themselves, they do precisely that by living as far removed from the rest of us as possible. The fact that one of their number enjoys doing the dirty to lethal effect could have been more dramatically explored, rather than consigned to second rung status. (Their space ship was a bit on the small side too.)

    It is here though that we first witness some of the inherent problems about the episodic nature of “The X Files”. Coming after a seminal piece like “Beyond the Sea” which explored all sorts of character insights into Scully, only to apparently completely ignore them in the subsequent episode, is one of the more frustrating aspects of this series. None of Mulder or Scully’s experiences are explored in this rather pedestrian effort. Certainly there is the novelty value of seeing Scully about “to do the wild thing with a complete stranger”, as well as barf, but other than that, “Genderbender” is a disappointment after the heights of the previous episode.