The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 2

Paper Clip (3)

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Sep 29, 1995 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
373 votes

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Episode Summary

Assistant Director Skinner and Scully are at a standoff when Mulder bursts in and discovers that Skinner has the digital tape. Reunited, Mulder and Scully travel to a secret vault inside a mine and find an elaborate filing system of medical records which reveals that Mulder's sister may not have been the first choice for abduction. Meanwhile, Skinner deals with the Cigarette Smoking Man for their safety.moreless

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  • Mulder and Scully find they are in danger and Mulder learns about his father.

    The storyline continues and proves to be another excellent episode when Scully and Skinner resolve the situation when Mulder comes in.Mulder and Scully on the run from the government and Scully wants to see her sister but she would be killed if she went to the hospital because of what they know find themselves at a abandoned building with files on thousands of people who Mulder believe are abductees when he sees Samantha's file and Scully's.Then Mulder witnesses a giant ship of some kind and Scully sees aliens rush past her but because its dark she can't really make out what they are.Krycek also returns in the episode helping in beating up Skinner and nearly being killed by his own people and now he has no one when he phones the cancer man and threatens him.Mulder learns about how he chose Mulder over Samantha and that he worked for the syndicate and it was what Mulder's father was afraid Mulder would find.When Skinner tells the cancer man that he has the tape he says he will give him the tape if Mulder and Scully can come back to work and after persuading him it works.Scully was then able to see her sister but unfortunately she died.moreless
  • Paper Clip

    Paper Clip was another perfect episode of The X-Files and an awesome conclusion to the three episode story arc. I loved what Scully and Mulder discovered inside the mine. It was a little creepy that Mulder left her alone again and she was caught in the middle of what seemed to be an extraterrestrial biological entity stampede. It was great watching Skinner get involved and he really came through. The Cigarette Smoking Man wasn't in control of situations and it seems that his power may be starting to crumble. It was sad to see what happened to Scully's sister. I liked how every thing played out and certainly look forward to watching more episodes now that we've learned quite a bit!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • "This is the part where you pucker up and kiss my a**"

    From the moment Mulder stumbles into his apartment, he and Scully are joined as the two halves of one mind, operating as left and right hands of a single purpose. Even when they argue in front of the Well-Manicured Man, their disagreement is of a fundamentally different nature than their argument outside the hospital in the series pilot. Scully is no longer dismissing the idea of alien abduction out of hand, she is simply disagreeing with the evidence presented. Mulder's transformation is profound: he not only leaves the decision over the tape to Scully, he does not even present his arguments to her. He knows she knows him well enough to know what he would say. His trust in her is complete; she has been drawn permanently into the sacred circle of his faith and hope. Scully is now part of the quest, which has become as personal and real to her as to Mulder. The theme of "Paperclip" is really about choices. The choices Bill Mulder made, the choices Deep Throat made, and now the choices Mulder and Scully make, are the ultimate expression of humanity. Only humans choose. All else obeys the invisible dictates of instinct, and probability. The point of a heroic quest is to bring back a truth that holds up a mirror to our souls. Mulder and Scully could choose to quit, or to be intimidated, or to go rogue and run from the Cigarette-Smoking Man for the rest of their lives. But they choose to return to the X-Files, to the basement office, to the pursuit of elusive cases bounded by hostility and frustration. It is difficult, and daunting, and dangerous. This is the path of harmony, the path of Beauty that takes them clear-eyed and aware into the heart of darkness, on a hero's journey.

    The only flaw in this arc is the lack of connecting emotion between the various characters. Except for Margaret Scully, and the final scene between Mulder and Scully in Melissa's hospital room, there is very little expression of emotion in this arc. There's plenty of awesome action when Mulder confronts Krycek, or when the Cigarette-Smoking Man tries to bully Skinner. But when Scully thinks she's lost Mulder to a hideous death, when Mulder is brought back from death by Albert Hosteen, when Mulder meets his mother for the first time since his father's murder--these scenes are too emotionally muted. Drama is first and foremost about emotion. I could have used a little more of it in those scenes. The puzzles are interesting, vital to the show, of course. But I find it difficult to connect with a Mulder who cannot even thank Albert for saving his life, who cannot comfort his mother, who takes Scully so much for granted he cannot even say "Did you miss me?" when he returns from the dead. If she shows so little of her inner reactions to us when her life is being irrevocably changed, how shallow will her reactions be to an "ordinary" X-File?Beyond the changes implicit in the character development in this arc, we see other tectonic shifts taking place. Skinner finally decides where his loyalties lie, and the Smoking Man loses some of his threat. It's hard to be scared of a man who is visibly shaken. Mulder learns that his sister was sacrificed for him and Scully learns that her sister died in her place, burdens of guilt that could easily warp strong souls.

    Duchovny gives us a wonderful moment of body language when Mulder stands silhouetted against the rising lights of the mothership, caught literally like a deer in the headlights, echoing fear and wonder. The dance of firelight and shadow on Mulder in the hogan, the sooty atmosphere of the Smoke Ring's clubhouse, and the nearly silent stampede of aliens past Scully in the mine shaft make these scenes classics of composition and execution.

  • The trilogy of episodes concludes here

    Boy, this episode had a ton of revelations and may have brought The X-Files to a whole new level of storytelling. Despite relying heavily on stand-alone plots for its first two seasons, the show does a superb job of pulling us into the main plot of the show, with its government conspiracies, cover-up of alien existence and experiments on the general public. This episode brings the little trilogy of episodes that began with the Season 2 finale and if anything, we're left craving even more information as well as the truth just as much as Agent Mulder.

    This episode proves that the Cigarette Smoking Man is an even more sinister villain than we originally believed, that Skinner is truly on the side of Mulder and Scully and that there are still people in the government who are looking to help Mulder.

    Perhaps the best moment of the entire episode (or show.. up for debate) is the moment when Mulder and Scully visit the warehouse in West Virginia. Here, they find nearly fifty years worth of files on people in the last fifty years. It appears that the government has been conducting tests on people and have been attempting to create alien/human hybrids. Fox learns that the government took his sister because his father was threatening to come forward about the experiments. With every revelation, we come closer and closer to learning the truth. And Mulder seeing the UFO was just as amazing for us as it was for him.

    This was just a great episode all around and it makes me miss the moments when the show focuses on the conspiracies. Hopefully, the story will continue sometime this season.moreless
  • Lots and lots of files

    Paperclip is another brilliant episode and the finale part of a masterly trilogy that takes the mythology into unexpected directions and introduces us to the Syndicate, a shadow government group with global interests. The episode begins with Scully and Skinner at a standoff when Mulder bursts in and learns that Skinner has the digital tape. Reunited, Mulder and Scully search for answers regarding the involvement of Mulder's father in the conspiracy and their search takes them to the abandoned Strughold Mining Facility where they uncover an elaborate filing system of medical records. Meanwhile, Scully's sister is in the hospital in critical condition.

    The X-Files was always successful in mixing facts with fiction and Paperclip is a great example of this. The MJ documents and project paperclip, which brought Nazi scientists and war criminals to the US to exploit their knowledge, tie up perfectly with the hybridization program and the creation of a master race that the X-Files deals with. Also, this episode offers us a great deal of character development. Skinner faces CSM, Krycek from now on is working alone and CSM breaks-down for the first time. Moreover, Melissa's death makes the search for the Truth Scully's personal quest too.

    A truly amazing episode that confirms the greatness that The X-Files is.moreless
Walter Gotell

Walter Gotell

Victor Klemper

Guest Star

Melinda McGraw

Melinda McGraw

Melissa Scully

Guest Star

Robert Lewis

Robert Lewis

E.R. Doctor

Guest Star

Mitch Pileggi

Mitch Pileggi

Assistant Director Walter Skinner

Recurring Role

Sheila Larken

Sheila Larken

Margaret Scully

Recurring Role

Nicholas Lea

Nicholas Lea

Alex Krycek

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • Principal Settings:
      Washington, D.C. and West Virginia

    • When Mulder first sees Samantha's file the name tag is faded and semi-hard to read the date 20:55, but when he goes to peel it off it appears to be a new tag, very easy to read 21:00.

    • Mulder and Scully get to the abandoned mine. When they drive in there is no one there. Yet when they enter the building, there is a hole in the wall. Through that hole there are two people visible, sitting on a ledge, a lady in black pants, and a person in blue, obvious production crew.

    • At 20:21 Scully looks at the tissue sample container in her file, said that was a recent sample, as the new ones were plastic. Yet, when they looked at Samantha's file they didn't even notice that her's had the newer sample container.

    • The opening titles for this episode is a different edited version and this is its only occurrence in the first three seasons. The swirly face man and "paranormal activities" have been deleted and David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson's credits have been moved up in the sequence.

    • When Mulder is with Scully at the mine, he says he's punching in "27828" at the one of the locked doors. This number is supposed to be Napier's Constant, however, Mulder recited it incorrectly. Napier's Constant actually begins with 2.71828...

    • In the mine with the medical records we see Samantha's file clearly. In the season 1 episode "Conduit" we see the X-File Mulder opened on her. In the previous episode she is listed as Samantha T. Mulder and her birthdate is 1/22/64. Here we see her name as Samantha Ann Mulder and her birthdate as 11/21/65.

    • If Albert Hosteen knows what is in the files, as Scully says that he helped to code them originally and Skinner uses him to blackmail the CSM, then why doesn't Mulder go to him to find out the information?

    • Skinner says that he couldn't get a hard copy of the files to print. If so, what were the folders full of pages that the soldiers took from Scully in "The Blessing Way", and what was the Navajo woman and Albert Hosteen looking at in "Anasazi"?

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Byers: ... Victor Klemper certainly takes the prize for the most evil Nazi to escape the Nuremberg trials.
      Scully: What did he do?
      Langly: Experimented on the Jews. Drowned them, suffocated them, put them in pressure champers. All in the name of 'science'.

    • Cigarette Smoking Man: There was a mistake. It will be rectified.
      Older Man: By whom?! By whom will this be rectified? Your ridiculously ineffectual assassins?
      Cigarette Smoking Man: These men are professionals.
      Older Man: This is not a profession for men who make mistakes. My God, you expect us to believe you can fix any problem with enough bullets?

    • Cigarette Smoking Man: You wanna work a deal? Is that what this is? Let me tell you something, I don't work deals.
      Skinner:I just thought you should know of certain potentialities.
      Cigarette Smoking Man: Do you have the tape?
      Skinner: As I said, I may have located it.
      Cigarette Smoking Man: Do you have the damn tape!!?!

    • (Phone conversation)
      Cigarette Smoking Man: Hello?
      Krycek: I'm alive... Is that not a surprise?
      Cigarette Smoking Man: Yes, good, good, good. Uh, where are you?
      Krycek: I'm somewhere where you'll never find me, you double-crossing son of a bitch.
      Cigarette Smoking Man: Are you sure?
      Krycek: I'm sure of this. If I so much as feel your presence, I'm going to make you a very, very famous man. You understand?
      Cigarette Smoking Man: Yes, thank you. I'm going to report that to the group, now.

    • Skinner: Drop your weapon! Put it down, Scully!
      Scully: No way.
      Skinner: I said put it down!
      Scully: I said no! You're setting me up!
      Skinner: I'm trying to help you.
      Scully: Then put your weapon down and sit down.
      Skinner: Not a chance.
      Scully: You said you weren't here to kill me, Skinner, now prove it.
      Skinner: I didn't come here to have a gun shoved in my face either.
      Scully: Damn it, Skinner!
      (Mulder kicks down the door to his own apartment and aims his gun at Skinner.)
      Mulder: Drop your weapon! I said...Back off... I said put it down!
      Skinner: What the hell is this? What are you pulling here?

    • Scully: I've heard the truth Mulder. Now all I want are the answers.

    • Skinner: Now, you listen to me, you son of a bitch! This man's name is Albert Hosteen. You should remember that. Because if Agents Mulder and Scully come down with so much as a case of the flu, Albert is prepared to recite, chapter and verse, file for file, everything on your precious tape.
      Cigarette Smoking Man: It's a nice try, Skinner.
      Skinner: I'm sure you're thinking Albert is an old man and there are plenty of ways you might kill him too. Which is why, in the ancient oral tradition of his people, he's told twenty other men the information on those files. So unless you kill every Navajo living in four states... that information is available with a simple phone call. Welcome to the wonderful world of high technology.

    • Mulder: Mom, listen to me. When Samantha... before she was gone, did Dad ever ask you if you had a favorite? Did he ever ask you that?
      Mrs. Mulder: Fox, please...
      Mulder: Mom, did he ever ask you to make a choice?
      Mrs. Mulder: Don't do this...
      Mulder: Mom, listen to me! I need to know! Did he make you make a choice?
      Mrs. Mulder: No. I couldn't choose. It was your father's choice and I hated him for it. Even in his grave, I hate him still.

    • Mulder: Lots of files.
      Scully: Lots and *lots* of files.

    • Mulder: I think with a crow bar and a small nuclear device I might be able to get through one of these things.

  • NOTES (4)

    • The little gray aliens that run past Scully in the mine were played by eight and nine-year-old children.

    • The crew was unable to use a real white buffalo calf. Instead they opted to shoot a very light-colored calf and bleached it in postproduction.

    • Dedication: "In Memoriam. Mario Mark Kennedy, 1966-1995" Kennedy was a major fan of the show who organised many on-line sessions on the Internet. He died in a car accident shortly before the 3rd season premiered.

    • Walter Gotell is no stranger to clandestine work, having played General Gogol, head of the KGB, in half a dozen James Bond movies.


    • Title: Paperclip

      The title is an allusion to Operation Paperclip, a codename under which many German scientists were recruited and secretly brought to the United States during the final days of World War II.
      The project was authorized by President Harry S. Truman and the majority of the scientists were deployed at several Southern states to work on guided missile technology. Much of its information is still classified.

    • Mathematics Reference: Napier's Constant

      The mathematical constant e is the base of the natural logarithm. It is occasionally called Euler's number after the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, or Napier's constant in honor of the Scottish mathematician John Napier who introduced logarithms. The first six digits of this irrational number are 2.71828 ...