The X-Files

Season 2 Episode 13


Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jan 13, 1995 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
357 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A mortuary worker who gets his thrills from collecting hair and fingernails from the dead begins killing people to expand his collection sets his seriously disturbed sights on Scully.

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  • An escalating festishist.

    Despite disagreeing with the high audience rating this episode was extremely creepy, topped by Nick Chinlund's superb performance.
  • Creepy episode overall with some great moments

    Especially the killer's chilling emergence from behind a coffin early on, and Scully's very moving scene with Mulder at the end.
  • A killer who collects hairs and nails from bodies targets Scully

    A killer who starts off digging up bodies and taking their nail and hair starts to move it up to the next step and starts to kill them.Throughout the episode you see a lot of the killer and what he does and you can see he is very creepy.After the killer brutally kills his first victim Scully didn't want to see the body as the case is bothering her since the beginning and she decides to go back to Washington and she goes but she decides to come back which was her worst decision because before she went the killer was onto her after he saw her when he was in jail and Mulder and Scully was interrogating a prisoner opposite.I couldn't believe they couldn't find him when he was right in front of them,this means that they couldn't figure it was him if he walked right by them.The killer kidnaps her shortly after she arrives.In his attempt to kill her she holds up enough time for Mulder and the the other agents to come in and save her from the killer{Pfaster} and Scully breaks down and cries in Mulder's arms.This was one of the best of the season and very entertaining from the start to the end.moreless
  • Irresistible

    Irresistible was a perfect and very creepy episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was great, full of character and plot development especially for Scully. There were some dark themes explored and it was a bit unsettling to think this could actually happen. The actors were amazing and played their parts perfectly. I liked how every thing played out. It was sad to see what happened to Scully and I can't imagine what she will have to go through to deal with this stuff. It was touching to see Mulder comfort her at the end. I certainly look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • "We think of myths as things that entertain or instruct, but their deeper purpose is often to explain or make fanciful desires, wishes, or behavior that society would otherwise deem unacceptable."moreless

    This episode begins amid the sumptuous camouflage of the modern American funeral: padded satin, flowers, gleaming brass, thick carpets, music...the customary disguise for the ugly truth at its center. But one of the acolytes at this ritual--Donnie Pfaster, a funeral home employee--is not what he seems. Later that night his boss catches him in the act of mutilating a corpse and throws him out. Shortly afterwards, local FBI field Agent Moe Bochs calls in Mulder and Scully to investigate a series of grave desecrations, a crime so repellent that Bochs would rather believe in aliens than accept that a human being would act so vile. Ironically, it is true believer Fox Mulder who must debunk an outrageous theory and bring the investigation down to earth, focusing on the search for a very human psychotic. But this is not a tale about psychosis, or aliens, or even a bizarre sexual fetish. "Irresistible" is a story about fear on many levels -- the fear of "a footfall in a darkened street", the fear of death, the fear of the unknown, the fear of disfigurement -- even the fear of fear. And the focus is not Donnie Pfaster, but Dana Scully.

    Considering that this is halfway through "The X-Files" second season, we know remarkably little about Dana Scully's inner life. We know more about her sister's philosophy and her mother's strong faith than we do about Dana Scully's hopes and fears. Friday night we got a peek into a complex and troubled woman, attempting to come to terms with situations that have broken strong men. From the beginning, when we see the revolting defilement of the disturbed grave, through her nightmares, to the end, when she is literally seeing Pfaster as a ghoul, she must struggle with her fears.

    In a particularly important scene, she goes so far as to consult a counselor. At every turn, she brings conventional weapons into play -- denial, repression, disavowal of her fear. She reminds herself and the shrink that she is a "professional", as though that sets her apart from the run of humankind. We see Scully's view of her relationship to Mulder in her refusal to confess her "weakness" to him: "I don't want him to know how much this is bothering me." To seek his support would be to establish an emotional dependency between them, something she fears--or desires--very deeply. And her forlorn view of her world: "I know that the world is full of predators, just as it has always been", is heart wrenching.

    Throughout "Irresistible", I kept seeing the figure of Dana Scully's warrior father over her shoulder, with his unflinching military bearing and his resolute face. I could see that Dana Scully had him in the back of her mind as well, as she fought a losing battle for control of the fear that this case evoked in her. Gillian Anderson's poignant portrayal of this battle is the centerpiece of this episode. Her mature and restrained work allowed us to feel Dana Scully's deepest fear: loss of control. Rather than the glamorous FBI agent she seems on the surface, the "pretty woman" Mulder calls her, Dana Scully lives in a rather bleak world of work, justice, and strict discipline. One begins to wonder if there is any warmth or comfort in it anywhere.

    So at the end, when Mulder and Bochs rescue her from Donnie Pfaster, it is particularly affecting to see her finally acknowledge that she needs the support of those close to her. Fox Mulder has always touched Scully more frequently than she touches him--the depth of her capitulation is measured in the fact that she puts her arms around him and buries herself completely in his arms, sobbing her heart out. Mulder comforts her the way one would comfort a frightened child--with quiet words and a soft touch. I found nothing sexual in this scene, but rather saw it as a moment of great human warmth and understanding, an effective contrast to the horror and fear incarnate in Pfaster.

    The death/sex fetishist links our deepest fear with our deepest longing in a web of fear and fascination. Because these twin poles of the psyche so frighten and beguile us, we are hypnotized by the ugliness and cannot look away. Chris Carter, the writer for this episode, gives us a much better, much scarier villain than the "Flukeman". Donnie Pfaster, like Jeffrey Dahmer, is a far more dangerous enemy, a human who captures our attention because he embodies the shadow side of us, the acting-out of fears and compulsions that threaten not just society, but our understanding of human nature itself.

    If we see more than a superficial resemblance to "Silence of the Lambs" and "Psycho", it is because all three stories concern themselves with the smiling monster in our midst, what Mulder calls "the devil in a button-down shirt". The evil that Scully and Mulder are confronted with does not twitch or drool in public, but hides behind a handsome face and a bland smile.

    Pfaster, wonderfully played by Nick Chinlund, is almost an image of Mulder himself -- a blank expression and affectless voice hide an extreme obsession to which all else in life is subordinate. So little separates them -- but that little is powerful and profound. Mulder is the champion of truth: Pfaster seeks only the fulfillment of his own ego, a quest which requires the increasing objectification of his victims. His dehumanization of his victims drives him to ritualized murder. It is a signal characteristic of the serial killer and the psychotic that they must follow specific, highly detailed scripts to appease their inner demons. The environment Pfaster creates for himself--the cold, darkened tomb-like house, its furnishings shrouded in plastic; the bedroom tricked out in satin and flowers, the luxurious trappings of the funerary rite--reflect the vacuum within, the dead heart in the living man. Only the bathroom is lit, with rows of shampoo bottles and bath oils echoing the jars of embalming fluids arranged like condiments in the mortuary workroom. We see the focus of Pfaster's desire through his eyes -- a feast for the senses -- but drowned in cruel death and cold water.

    I can appreciate the humor and the comfortable in-jokes in "Irresistible" as much as anyone (is it mere coincidence that the football game Mulder and Scully are missing is Minnesota v. Washington, the two teams who each have a "Chris Carter" in their ranks?). But in the long run, what will count in any final assessment of this series is the way it tells its stories with depth and heart, the way Carter and his crew speak directly to the subconscious through intelligent direction, strong visuals, and good storytelling.moreless
Nick Chinlund

Nick Chinlund

Donald Pfaster

Guest Star

Robert Thurston

Robert Thurston

Jackson Toews

Guest Star

Bruce Weitz

Bruce Weitz

Agent Moe Bocks

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Mulder came to Minnesota for the sole purpose to see the Redskins and Vikings play. The episode takes place 1994. But at no point in the 1994 NFL Season did these two teams play each other.

    • In "Firewalker," Mulder reports that the day is November 11 and that he and Scully ended up in a 30-day quarantine. Scully reports that the date for the autopsy in "Irresistible" is November 14, which conflicts with the quarantine.

    • At the beginning, Mulder, Scully and Bocks are looking over an unearthed grave in the rain. Wouldn't they have needed to have the grave covered to keep any evidence from washing away?

    • Why would Mulder and Bocks immediately assume that Donnie had run Scully off the road? Minneapolis is a pretty big place.

    • Scully pushes Donnie into the bathtub and he gets soaked from the waist down, but in the next shot he is dry.

    • When Donnie is cruising the streets looking for a prostitute, a bus can be seen going down the street with UBC on the front as it's destination. UBC is the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

  • QUOTES (16)

    • Donnie Pfaster: (to Scully) There's no way out, girlie-girl... I know this house, girlie-girl, there's nowhere to hide.

    • Mulder: Are you staying on there, Scully?
      Scully: No. I'm coming back tonight.
      Mulder: Look, I know this is a pretty horrific case, but if …
      Scully: I'm okay with it, Mulder. Anyway you could use my help.
      Mulder: Always.

    • Mulder: (voiceover) The conquest of fear lies in the moment of its acceptance. And understanding what scares us most is that which is most familiar, most common place... It's been said that the fear of the unknown is an irrational response to the excesses of the imagination. But our fear of the everyday, of the lurking stranger, and the sound of foot-falls on the stairs, the fear of violent death and the primitive impulse to survive, are as frightening as any X-file, as real as the acceptance that it could happen to you.

    • Scully: I know these things. I'm conscious of them. I know the world is full of predators, just as it has always been. And I know it's my job to protect people from them. And I've counted on that fact to give me faith in my ability to do what I do... I want that faith back... I need it back.

    • Scully: You think you find a way to deal with these things. In med school, you develop a clinical detachment to death. In your FBI training, you are confronted with cases, the most terrible and violent cases. You think you can look into the face of pure evil. And then you find yourself paralysed by it.

    • Teacher: The necessity of the story, the myth or the legend in a culture is almost universal. We think of myths as things that entertain or instruct, but their deeper purpose is often to explain, or make fanciful, wishes, desires or behavior that society would otherwise deem unacceptable. Myths often disguise thoughts that are simply too terrible to think about, but because they are conveyed in a wrapping of untruth - the story - these thoughts become harmless fiction... Take, for example, stories that we recite for children, such as Snow White or Alice in Wonderland. The subtextural themes where the Queen orders "off with her head", or the prince wakens Sleeping Beauty with a kiss, are what Freud would describe as death/wish imagining.

    • Bocks: I read your profile. Sounds like a guy who can't make it with women. Which would explain the hooker.
      Mulder: The hooker was just convenient. This guy's not after sex. He's after trophies. His victim was a young attractive woman. The corpses he dug up were those of young women. Yet there's no evidence of any sexual activity. What fuels his need? What is important about the hair and fingernails to him? It's as if it's not enough that they're dead. He has to defile them. There's a deeper psychosis at work here. And anger toward women, possibly his mother.

    • Scully (voiceover): Death is a recorded event. For reasons natural or unnatural, when a body ceases to function, the cause of the effect can be clearly reconstructed. A body has a story to tell... If the victim was strangled, an examination of the veins in the eyes will reveal this. If the victim was shot, entry wounds and gunpowder residue can be used to reconstruct the events leading to death and help to establish a possible motive. Body temperature, preferably the temperature of the spleen, is an accurate indicator of the time of death. As are rigor, livor and levels of sodium in the blood. If the body was moved, sand, small rocks, vegetable debris, even pollen can be removed and analysed to determine the location of the original crime scene and place the position of the body at the time of death. Extracutenous stains and residues can indicate the use of poison or toxins. Hair and fibres, slivers of glass, plastic, even insect casings can serve to recreate the circumstances under which death occurred... It may be an irony only understood by those of us who conduct these examinations, who use these pieces to rebuild a narrative, that death, like life itself, is a drama with a beginning, middle and end.

    • Scully (voiceover): A complete model or psychological profile of the death fetishist does not exist. Extrapolating from material on file at the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, the compulsion is the result of a complex misplacement of values and a deviation from cultural norms and societal mores - often accompanied by extreme alienation from normal social interaction and traditional avenues for interaction with others. He is more likely to be white, male and of average to above average intelligence. Cases of fetishists with IQs over 150 have been documented. The progression of the pathology can be traced from the fantasy stage to the eventual acting out of fetishistic impulses, including opportunistic homicide.... Agent Mulder believes strongly that the suspect in this case is escalating toward this action. It is my opinion from reading these case files that death fetishism may play a stronger role than suspected in cases of serial murder. That once he begins to murder, it is the killing that draws attention away from a deeper motive. A motive which most people, including law enforcement professionals, dare not imagine. It is somehow easier to believe, as Agent Bocks does, in aliens and UFOs, than in the kind of cold blooded inhuman monster who could prey on the living to scavenge from the dead.

    • Scully: You knew it wasn't UFO-related from the start?
      Mulder: I had suspected as much.
      Scully: Mulder, we flew three hours to get here. Our plane doesn't leave until tomorrow night. If you suspected, why -
      Mulder: Vikings versus Redskins, in the Metrodome. Forty yard line, Scully. You and me.

    • Mulder: You think this grave was unearthed by aliens, Agent Bocks?
      Bocks: It has all the telltale markings, don't you think? I mean, according to the literature.
      Mulder: The literature?
      Bocks: Y'know. The way the hair and nails have been cut away. Sort of like they do in cattle mutilations.
      Mulder: I hate to disappoint you, Agent Bocks, but this doesn't look like the work of aliens to me.

    • Scully: (about Mulder) I trust him as much as anyone. I'd trust him with my life.

    • Mulder: (to prostitute) Might be a nice week to take that paid vacation the boss owes you.

    • (at the desecrated gravesite)
      Agent Bocks: You're saying some human's been doing this.
      Mulder: If you want to call him that.

    • Scully: I've read about cases of desecrating the dead, but this is the first time I've seen one.
      Mulder: Nothing can prepare you for it. It's almost impossible to imagine.
      Scully: Why do they do it?
      Mulder: Some people collect salt and pepper shakers. The fetishist collects dead things. Hair, fingernails... no one quite knows why. Though I've never quite understood salt and pepper shakers myself.
      Scully: Sometimes you surprise me, Mulder.

    • Mulder: People videotape police beatings on darkened streets. They manage to spot Elvis in three cities across America every day. But no one saw a pretty woman being run off the road in her rental car.

  • NOTES (9)

    • This episode, "Irresistible" inspired the spin-off TV show from The X-Files, called Millennium, which was also created by Chris Carter.

    • Karen Kossoff mentions that Scully had lost her father the previous year. This happened in the episode "Beyond The Sea."

    • The original title of this episode was "Fascination."

    • This is the first appearance of Karen Kossoff. She would later return in the season 2 episode "The Calusari" and the season 4 episode "Elegy".

    • Chris Carter originally wrote Donnie Pfaster as a necrophiliac but due to pressure from Fox Television he was forced to alter the character to the less offensive, but still very creepy death fetishist.

    • Nick Chinlund as Donnie Pfaster later returns in Season 7's "Orison."

    • When Donnie is talking to the other suspect in jail, the suspect recalls Scully's name because it was like "that baseball announcer". The baseball announcer in question is Vin Scully, the man Chris Carter named Dana Scully after.

    • Mulder and Scully were supposed to attend a football game between Washington and Minnesota. At the time, both of these teams had a player named Carter. Later we see the game on television, just in time to catch a play made by 'Cris Carter'.

    • The name Soames can be seen on a tombstone at the beginning of the episode - Ray Soames is the name of the person Mulder and Scully had exhumed in the "Pilot" episode.


    • Agent Bocks: People wondered why it took them so long to catch this kid in Milwaukee. Thought someone should have noticed he was killing all those young boys. The truth is, no one ever believed it could happen.

      He's most likely referring to cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

    • Mulder: They manage to spot Elvis in three cities across America every day.

      Elvis sightings are a common subject of articles in tabloids like the Weekly World News. Mulder also has a personal interest in Elvis.