The X-Files

Season 2 Episode 8

One Breath

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 11, 1994 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
373 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Scully mysteriously appears in a Washington hospital, alive but in a coma, and Mulder must fight to keep her alive in order to find out what happened to her and who did it to her. Meanwhile, Scully fights her own personal battle as she decides whether to stay or go on to the next world.moreless

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  • Scully is back but fighting for her life.

    A conclusion to an excellent storyline when Scully returns to the hospital and the doctors have no idea how she has got there but they know she is dying and it is unlikely she will come back.In the beginning I thought they had got Scully's tombstone too early its like her mother just lost hope.Mulder who wishes he can do something to bring her back but he can't.Mulder tries to go to X who saves Mulder when he attacked by a unknown man who had stole Scull'y blood.When Mulder figures out about the cancer man he asks Skinner about him but he gives him his location later on.Mulder goes there but has a chance to shoot him bot he doesn't when the cancer man persuades him but I don't think Mulder would have shot him anyway but the cancer man is definitely right in the middle of all of this.I was so glad when Scully miraculously woke up but she tells the nurse to thank nurse Owen's the nurse says that no one works here by that name.This was really weird because you see her throughout the episode praying for Scully and you see her when Scully is sitting in the boat.moreless
  • One Breath

    One Breath was a perfectly riveting episode of the X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was full of suspense, drama, intrigue and action. Scully mysteriously reappears in a comatose state at a hospital and Mulder tries to find out what happened to her. It was nice seeing how passionate he was and how far he would go for her. It was interesting to meet her sister and see her mother again. I liked learning a little more about the cigarette smoking man and X, both of whom had some excellent scenes. I liked the ending when Scully discovers the nurse who had been whispering in her ear wasn't really from the hospital which was neat. I liked the character development and depth of context explored. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Nerve-wracking in a beautiful, perfect way. Mulder slowly becomes a disaster without Scully, while Scully makes a decision whether to live or die, based upon reasons that we may not be fully privy to.moreless

    This is one of the best hours of entertainment I've ever had the privilege to consume. Everything is superb. Mulder is such a believable disaster, Scully's story is well told, the mytharc has never felt so interesting or significant, and the geust performances added so much. I wonder what would have become of Mulder if he'd never met Scully? Is he losing it because he's losing Scully, or because the conspiracy is making him lose Scully, or because it's just his time to lose it? Or is it because he's not making any progess, and Scully is a symptom of that? I don't know, but I love that the episode is so rich I can ask such questions.moreless
  • Everything I wanted to see - happened.

    The most perfect episode. Now when I think about it - so many things happened! I was waiting for three things: Mulder's resignation, Skinner's character development and the confrontation with the Cigarette Smoking Man. And all of them happened in one episode. Wow... If just Mulder would have pulled the trigger... There would have been less bad guys left. I really start to hate "Cancer Man" as Mulder called him, though the actor is terrific. Then, I really liked how the crossroads between life and death were made. Especially the boat.

    Also Scully - Mulder storyline moved on. Fox even cried - I didn't expect that. Though the very end of the episode could have been a little better. Mulder should have stayed with Dana.moreless
  • "Don't try to threaten me, Mulder. I've watched Presidents die." The Cigarette-Smoking Man


    The Cigarette Smoking Man's sneer to Fox Mulder sums up the cold-blooded arrogance of the forces arrayed against Mulder and Scully. In "One Breath" we finally see the face of the real enemy--not some laughable little extraterrestrial or sideshow freak, but the ruthless amorality of a government that holds honor and justice and truth in contempt.

    Not that I give a damn, but there wasn't much about the X- Files in "One Breath": no pyrokinetics, no werewolves, no little green men, even by implication. As I suspected, Duane Barry was hallucinating. Whoever took Agent Dana Scully from Barry, they did not ride in flying saucers and they probably hold Social Security numbers. It is pretty clear from Mr. X (Steven Williams) and the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) that there is a plot here, but it is a tangled human plot manipulated by humans. Extraterrestrials need not apply. Rather, we got a good look at the human relationships involved in this series.

    There were no bad, not even any mediocre performances in this episode. Mitch Pileggi's star turn when Deputy Director Walter Skinner opens up to Mulder was believable, in character, and very humanizing. Sheila Larken as Dana Scully's mother turned in a fine-honed, low-keyed performance. Even Tom Braidwood's touching protrayal of the gnome Frohike gave us a new dimension on that marginal character. And how typical of "The X-Files" that one of the most revealing and emotional speeches is spoken by a dead man--Admiral Scully's (Don Davis) monologue to his dying daughter is eloquent and moving.

    David Duchovny has delivered no more passionate line as Fox Mulder than his "I owe her more!" to Plot Device--excuse me--Mr. X. During the scene with Mr. X in the hospital garage, Fox Mulder's rage and frustration nearly reach spontaneous combustion. Almost, almost, Mulder succumbs to the temptation of violence as an antidote to his baffled grief: Mr. X provides the opportunity, and Mulder waits in his darkened apartment to ambush, and probably murder, the men who abducted his partner. But Scully saves him from this fatal mistake--not Dana Scully but her sister Melissa.

    There are so many echoes in her character: like Mulder, Melissa Scully (Melinda McGraw) is a believer--but from the heart, not the head. Like Mulder, she is about to lose a beloved younger sister. Like Mulder, she is estranged from her family--her own mother is surprised to see her at Dana's bedside. Best of all, she sees straight through Fox Mulder to the heart; her confrontation with him in his apartment awakens Mulder to the best that is in him . This scene--Mulder edgy, bitter, tense as a coiled spring, and Melissa Scully resolute, caring, and strong--is excellent. Beneath the trendy New-Age babble is a shrewd judge of character and a heart of gold. If Fox Mulder has any brains at all, he will get this woman's phone number.

    This episode works on several levels, but it works best as a morality play. The men who hold temporal power--Mr. X, the Cigarette Smoking Man--are revealed as cardboard cutouts: shallow, corrupt, full of fear. Fox Mulder, on the other hand, even in the depths of despair, can find courage, faith and resolution. His decision to forgo revenge in order to stand by his dying partner in her need imbues the character with a power his antagonists will never know. This is a profoundly more interesting story than who kidnaped whom and why. We are learning a lot about Fox Mulder this season: Friday night he learned something about himself as well.

    As Lord John Whorfin said in Buckaroo Banzai, character is what you are in the dark. In the dark, we find that Fox Mulder is a man not only of passionate intensity, but of fundamental integrity. He will not stoop to cold-blooded murder. The struggle embodied in the X-Files is recast into a struggle for the soul of one man.

    Bravo, bravo, bravissimo.

    This one gets a perfect 10. The best yet.

Melinda McGraw

Melinda McGraw

Melissa Scully

Guest Star

Jay Brazeau

Jay Brazeau

Dr Daly

Guest Star

Nicola Cavendish

Nicola Cavendish

Nurse Owens

Guest Star

Sheila Larken

Sheila Larken

Margaret Scully

Recurring Role

Mitch Pileggi

Mitch Pileggi

Assistant Director Walter Skinner

Recurring Role

Steven Williams

Steven Williams


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • When Mulder signs his letter of resignation he signs with his right hand. David Duchovny is LEFT-handed.

    • Continuity: When the man steals Scully's blood it does not have a label on it, when Mulder takes it back it does. The man was too busy being chased by Mulder to add one.

    • In this episode, Agent Mulder nicknames the Cigarette Smoking Man as "Cancer Man".

    • Scully's father makes an appearance as a ghost; he last appeared in the season one episode "Beyond the Sea".

    • Continuity: When Mulder gets CSM's address, he opens an empty pack of cigarettes (beside the lone address note). We see him, breaking off the plastic casing. If the pack was already empty, why does it have a plastic wrapper on it?

      The pack was not empty (hence the plastic wrapper). The note was just tucked in front of the foil-wrapped cigarettes. How the note got into the packet without breaking the plastic wrapper is the real question.

    • Continuity: If Skinner has a "No Smoking" sign in his office, why does he have ashtrays placed around the desk and tables?

      He has them in his office because the Cigarette Smoking Man is a frequent guest of his, and he smokes relentlessly, hence the placement of the ashtrays. Since CSM is not likely to yield to any requests, I do not believe a "No Smoking" sign is something he concerns himself with. This is yet another indication that Skinner only deals with him because he has to.

    • Continuity: When Mulder signs Scully's hospital admission form and then his resignation letter, the signatures are different from the signature on his FBI badge in the opening titles.

    • Continuity: Scully says in "Beyond the Sea" that her father was a Captain in the Navy, but when he appears in her dream-like state, he is wearing the stars of an Admiral.

  • QUOTES (16)

    • (Optimistic Melissa confronts a brooding Mulder in his apartment; she wants him to visit Scully again in the hospital before Scully dies.)
      Mulder: Oh, enough with the harmonic convergence crap, ok? You're not saying anything to me.
      Melissa: Why don't you just drop your cynicism and your paranoia and your defeat? You know, just because it's positive doesn't make it silly or trite. Why is it so much easier for you to run around trying to get even than just expressing to her how you feel? I expect more from you. Dana expects more.

    • Nurse Wilkins: Nurse Who?
      Scully: Owens. Short, with straight, light brown hair? She watched over me in intensive care. And I'd like to thank her.
      Nurse Wilkins: Dana, I've worked here for 10 years, and there's no Nurse Owens at this hospital.

    • Nurse Owens: Dana, honey... I'm here to take care of you sweetheart. To watch over you. To help you find the way home. I know you are far from home tonight. And that where you are is peaceful. It would be nice to stay... but your time is not over.

    • Melissa: Why is it so dark in here?
      Mulder: Cuz the lights aren't on.

    • Margaret Scully: Hello, Fox.
      Scully: Not Fox. Mulder.
      Mulder: How you feeling?
      Scully: I really don't remember anything. After Duane Barry...
      Mulder: It doesn't matter. I brought you a present. Superstars of the Super Bowls.
      Scully: I knew there was a reason to live.

    • Byers: Good work, sneaking out those charts.
      Frohike: Tucked 'em in my pants.
      Mulder: Plenty of room down there.

    • Skinner: When I was eighteen, I, uh... I went to Vietnam. I wasn't drafted, Mulder, I... I enlisted in the Marine Corps the day of my eighteenth birthday. I did it on blind faith. I did it because I believed it was the right thing to do. I don't know, maybe I still do. Three month into my tour, a ten-year-old North Vietnamese boy walked into camp covered with grenades and I, uh... I blew his head off from a distance of ten yards.... I lost my faith. Not in my country or in myself, but in everything. There was just no point to anything anymore. One night on patrol, we were, uh... caught... and everyone... everyone fell. I mean, everyone. I looked down... at my body... from outside of it. I didn't recognize it at first. I watched the V.C. strip my uniform, take my weapon and I remained... in this thick jungle... peaceful... unafraid... watching my... my dead friends. Watching myself. In the morning, the corpsmen arrived and put me in a bodybag until... I guess they found a pulse. I woke in a Saigon hospital two weeks later.... I'm afraid to look any further beyond that experience. You? You are not. Your resignation is unacceptable.

    • X: I didn't expect you here til after visiting hours.
      Mulder: There was a man. He took Scully's blood.
      X: Forget him.
      Mulder: Get that gun out of my face.
      X: This high capacity compact Sig Sauer 40 calibre weapon is pointed at your head to stress my insistence that your search for who put your partner on that respirator desist immediately.
      Mulder: You ignore my call for help and then you expect me to do what you say. You can go to hell.
      X: You got him killed. You got her killed. That is not going to happen to me. You're my tool, you understand? I come to you when I need you.

    • Skinner: There's rumor you were involved in an incident last night at the hospital.
      Mulder: Is this about the tooth that was found in the cafeteria jello?
      Skinner: A man was executed, Mulder!

    • Skinner: Knock it off!
      Mulder: How does it feel? Constant denial of everything , questions answered with a question?

    • Scully: Mulder, I had the strength of your beliefs.
      Mulder: (Hands Scully her golden cross necklace) I was holding this for you.

    • Mulder: Him! That's what happened. Cancer Man! He's responsible for what's happened to Scully.
      Skinner: How do you know that?
      Mulder: It's a rumor... Who is he?
      Skinner: It's not your-
      Mulder: Oh, you can have it all, my badge, you can have the X-Files. Just tell me where he is.
      Skinner: And then what? He sleeps with the fishes? We're not the Mafia, Agent Mulder. I know it's easy to forget it, but we work for the Department of Justice.
      Mulder: THAT'S what I want.

    • X: You're nothing but a damn schoolboy, Mulder!

    • Mulder: I feel Scully . . . you believe . . . you're not ready to go. And you've always had the strength of your beliefs. I don't know if my being here will help bring you back . . . But I'm *here*.

    • Mulder: Sit down!
      CSM: How'd you find me?
      Mulder: Shut up! Tonight, I ask the questions! You're going to answer me, you son of a bitch!
      CSM: Don't try and threaten me, Mulder. I've watched presidents die.
      Mulder: Why her? Why her and not me? . . . Answer me!
      CSM: I like you. I like her too. That's why she was returned to you.
      Mulder: You should be the one to die.
      CSM: Why? Look at me. No wife, no family, some power. I'm in the game because I believe what I'm doing is right.
      Mulder: Right? Who are you to decide what's right?
      CSM: Who are you? If people were to know the things I know, they would all fall apart. I told Skinner you shot the man in the hospital, but I didn't really believe it. And here you are with a gun to my head. I have more respect for you, Mulder. You're becoming a player. You can kill me now, but you'll never know the truth. (Mulder wants to shoot, but doesn't) . . . and that's why I'll win. Don't worry. This'll be our secret. We wouldn't want others to . . . start rumors.

    • William Scully: Hello Starbuck. It's Ahab. People would say to me. 'Life is short. Kids, they grow up fast. Before you know it, it's over.' I never listened. To me, life went at a proper pace of many rewards. Until the moment that I knew, I understood, I would never see you again, my little girl. Then my life felt as if it had been the length of one breath, one heartbeat. I never knew how much I loved my daughter until I could never tell her. In that moment I would have traded every medal, every commendation, every promotion, for one more second with you. We'll be together again, Starbuck. But not now. Soon.

  • NOTES (4)

    • The Thinker, the newest member of The Lone Gunman, was named after the online handle of X-Phile Yung Yun Kim also known as "Duh Thinker."

    • Originally Melissa, Scully's sister, was considered to be a romantic interest for Mulder, however the idea was later nixed.

    • The comment made by Langly about "hopping onto the internet to nit-pick the scientific inaccuracies of Earth 2" was a nod to the internet X-Philes who work tirelessly to nitpick the facts of the show.

    • The character 'Nurse Owens' was named after writer Glen Morgan's grandmother.


    • Literary Reference: Moby Dick

      In her dream, Scully's father calls her Starbuck, and himself Ahab. These are characters (seamen) from the novel by Herman Melville.

    • Langly: We're all hopping on the internet to nitpick the scientific inaccuracies of Earth 2.

      Earth 2 was a sci-fi series that ran during the season 1994-1995 on NBC. The series focussed on the Eden Advance team who were supposed to set up a colony on a distant planet after Earth had become uninhabitable.