The X-Files

Season 4 Episode 13

Never Again

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Feb 02, 1997 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
322 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

While Mulder is forced to take a vacation he leaves Scully with an assignment to keep her busy until he returns. She however, decides to start living and goes on a date with a man who believes that his tattoo talks to him and is telling him to stay away from other women.moreless

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  • We get the world we deserve.

    ........ a talking tattoo. Now yes there was an explanation for this behavior and it isn't that far fetched of a story. A mark on the body that casts an influence over somebody, making them compulsive to dangerous or more. Its a reminder to him of his mistakes but the tattoo influencing him felt a bit too strong, maybe do away with the voice though no disrespect to Jodie Foster, she's great but perhaps if we didn't know what was going through his brain might have made this character study more interesting.

    The Scully's other side here was pretty well handled but after seeing her as this one type of person for these seasons now it'll take a bit of time getting used to her when she's acting fed up and wanting to be out of the crime scene for a change.

    Mixed feelings here folks but still well made as usual.

  • Never Again

    Never Again was a great episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching as Mulder left Scully to investigate a mysterious case by herself. The story was pretty decent but it was also a little slow at times. It was interesting to see a man who thought his tattoo was talking to him and influencing him. Scully was torn between her work on the X-Files and having a real life and it was nice to explore her feelings a little bit. The ending was pretty good. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!moreless
  • Just a simply bad episode.

    This episode was dumb. It is a story that was not interesting on any level. It seemed that the writers wanted to give Scully an opportunity to be in the spotlight, but it really didn't work. Rather, it was slow, distracting, and not interesting for anyone.

    The show centers around a man who has a tattoo that "speaks" to him and convinces him to perform various actions. Scully visits him for a one-night stand and almost gets killed...that's the story. Seriously dumb. People like this show because of the conspiracies, not because of the "almost get killed" scenes. Nor is this show popular because of its sexuality. The show must rely upon its mysteries.moreless
  • "This is not about you, Mulder. " --Dana Scully

    Dana Scully, having come to a minor crisis in her life brought on by depression, finds herself rebelling against Mulder, against her job, against her self.

    When Mulder is forced to go on vacation (to Graceland, of course), he reluctantly leaves her in charge of a case. In a scene we have waited for for years, Scully finally asks why she does not have a desk, flat-out refuses to investigate a farcical case, and stonily refuses to be drawn into a debate with Mulder over her commitment to The X-Files. They part on poor terms, and Scully goes off to Philadelphia, where she meets Ed Jerse, a man coming out of a divorce and a drinking binge, and when their paths cross sparks fly. The only trouble is that Ed is more than he seems to be--his own newly acquired tattoo, which Scully so much admires, talks to him. Stranded by a storm, on the outs with Mulder, alone and depressed, Scully takes Ed up on his dinner invitation, which becomes a date at a bar, which becomes a tattoo a deux, which leads to a night in Ed's apartment.

    And thats where the rug got jerked out from under our expectations. Everything in this episode was leading up to sex. I didn't need to see it, but I needed to know it happened. I didn't need a last-minute cop-out, where Ed takes the couch and Dana sleeps in her clothes. The intent of the entire first half of the episode was clearly slanted that way. The whole point of the episode is that Scully is seeking to re-make her self--through a tattoo which symbolizes her facing of her fears, everything from snakes (see One Breath), disfigurement, independence, to a sexual encounter not sanctioned by an authority figure. She spent half an hour letting down her barriers. So what happened? Did a show which does not hesitate to show more blood suddenly get Puritanical on us? Or is the famous double standard at work? In "Fire", Mulder embraced and kissed his old girlfriend, but in "Lazarus" Scully didn't even touch her former lover. In "3", Mulder kisses a vampire groupie, but in "Never Again", Scully doesn't even get a lip lock. The raw sensuality and eroticism of the tattoo scene itself notwithstanding, the story's potential for revelation and discovery was thrown away with both hands. This attempt to maintain a falsely virginal aspect to Agent Scully only renders her character naive.

    It's too bad, because this episode was remarkable in many ways. The elegant dialogue is at its best here. Scully's "This is not about you, Mulder" is eerily echoed by the tattoo's "Hear that? It's you, Ed! It's all about you!" How many times did the talk of lines and circles, of authority and rebellion underscore the events unfolding? Jon Joffin's circling camerawork, which metaphorically echoed the dialogue, was impressive. I was particularly struck by the long tracking shot after Ed enters his downstairs neighbor's apartment to kill her for playing the Partridge Family too loud (justifiable homicide if I ever saw it). The camera backs away from the door, circles backwards down the stairs, into the basement in a scene reminiscent of Hitchcock's "Frenzy". Yet director Rob Bowman shows us only spatters of blood, lets us hear the weight of a body bumping down the stairs, and never shows us the actual violence spawned by rage and fear. This is the X- Files at its best--terror without gore.

    The acting was first rate. Jodie Foster's manic laugh (as the voice of the tattoo) was marvelous. Duchovny himself let us see the Dark Side of Fox Mulder: snotty, arrogant, self-centered, and very nasty in a fight. Anderson is outstanding, showing us Scully's sensuality, her lack of self-confidence, her fear, her despair in subtle and understated nuance. It is a landmark performance from Anderson, who continues to shine this season. Mark Snow outdid himself on the music for the tattoo scene, which became a raga-like purr weaving itself through an intimate moment of shared physicality. The Elvis glasses on Mulder, as well as the Elvis-fu Mulderdance at Graceland, were almost de rigeur by now.

    It was not until the second viewing that I realized that Ed's tattoo opened her eye when "she" was talking to him. The crowning moment, however, was the final scene. After a quietly stormy opening, a rocky parting, and a reunion marked by Mulder's sneer, we get a scene which, with very few words, reveals his need for Scully, his dependence on her, and the assumptions he has made about her life. Mulder does indeed think of Scully as part of the X-Files: she has become part of the office furniture, and when she rebels he is astonished to discover how intimately entwined their lives have become. It is fitting that Morgan and Wong's last contribution to The X-Files should be an unfinished sentence spoken in a half-lit room, with no music to break the tension, the promise, or the sense of unease.moreless
  • Scully meets a guy with an interesting tattoo...

    Okay, maybe my summary isn't the best description of what this episode is, but I was surprised at how much I ended up liking the episode by its end. It begins with Mulder and Scully once again splitting up onto two different paths and converging by the end. In a way, the episode reminded me of the Season 2 episode "3," which is easily my least favorite episode of the entire series. However, this episode succeeds where that one fails by having both Mulder and Scully in it and giving us a legitimate reason as to why Scully seems to be going off the rails.

    The "X-File" of the episode is a bit weak; a man gets a tattoo impulsively after he gets a divorce and he's surprised to find the tattoo talking to him, forcing him to do things he doesn't want to do. Apparently, it's a tattoo that hates women and tries to protect him from being hurt again.

    The best parts of the episode come in the second half.. the build-up to the conclusion isn't nearly as fun and exciting as the actual conclusion. The show has moments where it does action sequences very well, and this was one of those episodes.. I'm not sure I really care about the way it ended, but the episode itself was very strong. And Mulder and Scully, in the final moments, share a scene that is sad and mysterious at the same time.. and it helps to remember that Scully has some form of cancer from last episode, which likely explains her behavior. Overall, a pretty good episode.moreless
Rodney Rowland

Rodney Rowland

Ed Jerse

Guest Star

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster

Voice of 'Betty'

Guest Star

Bill Croft

Bill Croft

Comrade Svo

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • When Mulder calls Scully's hotel to see if she is in her room. The hotel receptionist puts Mulder through to Scully's room where it is only allowed to ring twice before it is disconnected and the receptionist tells Mulder there was no one there. Surely they would wait a while longer for an answer.

    • After Scully walks away from Eddie in the his apartment and drops her FBI identification, there is a close-up of Eddie's tattoo with no cigarette burn. The next shot when Eddie is putting the phone receiver to his ear, the cigarette burn is clearly visible.

    • A scene in the bar in which Scully, after she returns from the bathroom, seductively tells Ed that she had just tossed away her panties was removed from the final episode due to being too exaggerated.

    • In the DVD audio Betty is constantly alternating between left and right channel in stereo. This gives the illusion that Betty is also in the audience's head as well!

    • When Ed Jerse bangs on the floor in his apartment, the girl downstairs cranks up the stereo, playing the Partridge Family song "Doesn't Somebody Want to be Wanted".

    • Scully logs on to to check the poison information. There is nothing at that site currently.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Mulder: I was thinking of getting a NY tattooed on my ass to commemorate the Yankees' World Series victory.

    • Betty: (Getting angrier) Another woman in my bed?! Burn the sheets. Burn her.. Burn HER!!

    • Scully: So what makes this place a good place to go when you feeling down
      Ed: Ah its kinda.. Everyone here looks like their problems are worse than mine, makes me feel good about myself.

    • Betty: Go ahead, treat yourself. This girl is a real doll. But beauty is only skin deep baby... I go all the way to the bone.

    • Mulder: Eeny Meanie, Chilly Beany the spirits are about to speak
      Scully: Rocky and Bullwinkle are looking for an opsidasium mine, Boris Boranoff alters a road sign which causes them to walk on to a secret military base. Where they are picked up by a car with no windows and no door locks and there are silent explosions from a compound called hushabum.
      Mulder: So you're refusing an assignment based on the adventures of moose and squirrel?

    • Mulder: (To Scully) Congratulations, For making a personal appearence in the X-files for the second time.. A World record.

    • Mulder: All this because I . . . because I didn't get you a desk?
      Scully: Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life.

    • Mulder: I'm just at that special place and I wanted to share it with you. You know that Elvis bought all the furniture in just 30 minutes?

    • Mulder: Okay, so we... we'll have them send down another desk and there won't be any room to move around here but we can put them really close together face to face. Maybe we can play some Battleship!

  • NOTES (9)

    • Originally slated to direct this episode was an Academy Award winner Quentin Tarantino, but the Director's Guild of America disallowed it.

    • The song that plays while Scully and Ed Jerse sit together in the Hard Eight bar is "The Have Nots" from X's 1982 album, "Under The Big Black Sun." The song's lyrics are uniquely suited to the bar scene.

    • The rock song that plays while Ed Jerse sits alone in the Hard Eight bar is "Tattooed Love Boys" from The Pretenders' 1980 debut.

    • Gillian Anderson volunteered to have the ouroboros tattooed onto her back for real during filming. This could not be done due to the fact that it would take too long and would have been impractical.

    • The camera angles and long tracking shot backwards down the stairs are a conscious homage to a similar shot in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy.

    • Ed Jerse's favorite bar is named 'Hard Eight' for the production company of writers Morgan and Wong.

    • Rodney Rowland was at that time going out in real life with Gillian Anderson.

    • Scully's tattoo is the Ouroboros, being a mythical snake eating its own tail, a symbol of the neverending cycle of destruction and re-creation in the universe. It is also used as the symbol of Chris Carter's show Millennium.

    • Guest voice Jodie Foster played Agent Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs, the character (and Foster's portrayal of her) being Chris Carter's original basis for the character of Dana Scully.


    • Character Name: Kaye Shilling

      The downstairs neighbor shares her name with an Entertainment Weekly editor Mary Kaye Shilling. The writers of this episode were unhappy with some recent reviews in EW, so it is no shock to see character Kaye Shilling lining her birdcage with the magazine. (The cover of said magazine featuring X-Files producer Bob Goodwin and declaring him 'The wisest man in Hollywood.')

    • Hallucinogenic Ergotism

      Scully's analysis of the blood information shows the presence of ergot. Her explanation of the matter is succinct but correct. Ergot is a fungus that contains hallucinogenic alkaloids (LSD was originally discovered in ergot derivatives); it grows on grasses and grains, including wheat, barley and rye, from which it finds its way into flour and thence into baked goods. Scully mentions that the red tattoo ink was made from rye. It has been suggested that the hallucinations which resulted in the accusations leading to the 1692 Salem Witch Trials were the result of ergot poisoning. Records of outbreaks go back 1200 years, and have occurred as recently as 2001.

    • Mulder:...he worked at a research base in the Republic of Karelia...

      The Republic of Karelia (Республика Карелия) is a real place, located at the border between the Russian Federation and Finland. A part of Russia, it has a level of autonomy roughly equal to a US state, with its own internally elected governor and assembly. At various times ruled by Finland, Sweden or Russia, Karelia has a rich poetic and musical heritage which figures significantly in the traditional culture of Finland. Finnish composer Jean Sibelius was inspired greatly by folk music of the region.

    • Scully: "...Glengarry Glen Ross..."

      Scully tells Ed Jerse that her last date was to see Glengarry Glen Ross, and that "...the characters had more fun than I did." The 1992 film, based on a play by David Mamet (who also wrote the screenplay), takes place in a real estate office with an extremely high-pressure sales incentive program. Praised for its drama by some, the film and the play are considered tedious and lacking action by others. Presumably, Scully is one of the latter. Assuming both that the show's chronology roughly matches the original broadcast dates and that Scully saw the movie when it was first run, this means she has been dateless for nearly five years.