The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 2

Paper Clip (3)

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Sep 29, 1995 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

Write A Review
out of 10
382 votes
  • 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.
  • 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!!!!!!!!!
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • This is why I watch this show

    I feel sorry for Mrs. Scully. First she lost her husband, then she lost Dana for several months and now Melissa's death is was too much to deal with. And what was about to come.

    One thing that bothered me was the lack of emotion from Scully when she sees Mulder for the first time after believing he was dead. We know that at this moment of the series they weren't lovers, or very close, but they were partners and supposedly only trusted each other so I expected a little bit more from her. But if you want to take it to an extreme, there was no time for sentimentalism.

    Two facts were interesting. First, Skinner taking the digital tape and holding on to it and trying to reinstate Mulder and Scully at all costs, I think this was the time when Skinner realized he was the only one who could protect their investigation and it was worth risking his life. And second, the Cancer Man failing in every attempt to get the tape and being threatened by the people he himself had hired. I liked the last scene. It was sad, but yet it was full of determination. Now Scully fully understands Mulder: she wants answers and they will work together to get them.
  • Watch Out For Your Clock Flashing 12:00

    Where The Blessing Way slacked in action, Paper Clip picks up that slack and gets the story up and running again. Mulder is fully recovered from his blessing way healing and teams up with Scully to find out more about his father's past. Because of the incriminating DAT cassette tape, Mulder and Scully's lives are in danger. Skinner attempts to broker a deal with the Cigarette Smoking Man(CSM) for their reinstatement and for their lives. Very interesting discoveries are made by Mulder and Scully at an abandoned mine. Skinner and CSM have two awesome confrontations over the digital tape. Krycek gangs up on Skinner in the hospital to steal the tape and then subsequently almost gets himself blown up. It's a good thing he knows that a flashing 12:00 on a car clock means that a bomb is about to blow up. Overall, this trilogy of Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip is one of the best in the X-Files. It lags just a tiny bit in the middle, but the drama, suspense, intensity & action makes for an awesome thrill ride of a trilogy.
  • Revelations coming thick and fast

    And so the conspiracy really starts to spread its tentacles with the third and final part of the "Anasazi" trilogy. Admittedly it does start off with a bit of a portentous bum steer with the whole white buffalo story, the significance of which is not 100% clear, other than to allow Carter to indulge in some pompous writing. The main thrust instead is the reuniting of Mulder and Scully, in a most dramatic way with Mulder bursting into his apartment to find his partner and his boss in a bit of a face off. Considering that Scully has been led to believe that Mulder is in fact dead, neither she nor Skinner seem unduly surprised to see him alive and well (he doesn't even get a hug from Scully!), one thing that does emerge most clearly from this scene is that Skinner finally nails his colours well and truly to the mast in support of his agents.

    Meanwhile as Margaret Scully embarks on a heavy emotional journey of her own as she keeps a bedside vigil over her daughter Melissa, the various shadings of the conspiracy start to emerge into the light. The addition of evil Nazi scientists, and the linking of them in with the 1947 Roswell crash, sets up a whole new agenda of alien/ human experimentation, and one that Mulder buys all too readily. To be fair, what they uncovered in the Strughold Mining Corporation (a nice gesture to the movie there) would seem to verify that, although Scully seems to want something more in the way of affirmation. But that's understandable. Given that her name is in the file, probably the last thing she wants to hear that she too has been involved in some kind of alien human hybrid experiment. And whilst all this is going on Scully also has to make the wrenching decision to carry on with the investigation instead of going to see her sister. Obviously the latter course would just expose her to even more danger, but it's a tough call for Scully and ultimately one that she has to bale on, when she urges Mulder to let Skinner make the trade of the digital tape for their safety. It might guarantee her some degree of safety, but it would rob Mulder of some vital evidence. Surprisingly he agrees to go along with it. Possibly still smarting from the death of his father, perhaps the real reason is that Mulder needs to give Scully some kind of comfort. And if it means a faltering in his quest to appease her, then for once, he's prepared to do it. This episode is also interesting in that it's the first time we've ever seen the Cigarette Smoking Man in a fallible position. It's clear that the Well Manicured Man has got the measure of his duplicitous colleague who throughout the proceedings singularly fails to get his hands on this elusive tape, only to be bested by Skinner and the Navajo code talkers. His failure also sets up a possible nemesis in the form of Alex Krycek who survives an assassination attempt. Now Krycek truly is a renegade agent and probably all the more dangerous for it. The real crux of "Paper Clip" though lies behind some tightly sealed doors in the Strughold mine. Before entering (and despite having a sister teetering on the brink of death), Scully still takes time out to consider her partner's feelings, worrying about what he might find in the vaults that would incriminate his father. But that of course is nothing to what they actually do find. Yes, Scully is listed there, along with millions of others, all part of some sort of sinister datacapture exercise. But the real shocker is Samantha's file and the intimation that she wasn't the Mulder family's first choice for abduction. (They are then rather inconveniently interrupted by a UFO taking off, though why is not clarified, neither is the fact that it appears to have left some of its compatriots behind in the mine for Scully to have a typically inconclusive close encounter with, all followed by a government hit squad.) Eventually though Mulder does hook up with his mother to get to the bottom of this particular mystery, only to discover that yes, his father did indulge in a Sophie's Choice scenario and was forced to choose which of his 2 children he must sacrifice. The fact that his ex-wife has never forgiven him for it, even in his grave, tells us that the ever-dwindling Mulder family is prone to some severe dysfunctionality. The disappearance of Samantha has always been an open wound where Mulder is concerned. The fact that she was deliberately chosen over him now gives that wound an extra layer of guilt to make it even harder for him to deal with. In the meantime, Scully too suffers her own personal loss with Melissa slipping away. Work is the answer for her, as it is for Mulder, who is now convinced that more than ever that the reason for their recent losses lies buried within the X Files themselves. He's right of course, but as the heady rush of this full and crucial episode ends, we can't help but feel some real sympathy for the two bruised souls that are Mulder and Scully.

  • Walter Skinner is the frickin' man.

    Oh Mulder and his blasted tape, how distressing it has been. This episode, the second part of the Season 3 opener, shows the consequences of Mulder finding the MJ documents and the Navajo code talkers. This episode is rife with the elements that make the conspiracy so compelling. The idea of the tape, the aliens on the traincar, the army firebombing evidence and intending to kill a federal agent, and of course, CSM being all CSMy. The best plot point of this episode, however, is the Scully-Skinner-CSM intrigue which develops. A personal favorite character of mine, Skinner is, as my summary indicates, the frickin' man. The oft-quoted scene where Skinner tells CSM to "pucker up and kiss my ass" is brilliant. Nothing is better than seeing our Morley sucking friend sweat a little bit under the pressure of the Syndicate, and the return of Alex Krycek. The acting in this episode is wonderful, especially on the part of Gillian Anderson, who believes that Skinner, instead of working to help Mulder, is trying to set them up.

    In a desire not the ruin the episode, I will not give away the resolution. As the end of a three part arc which closed out the second and opened the third seasons of the X-Files, it is certainly one of the best episodes of the early part of the series.
  • Jam Packed With Mythology Goodness!

    Wow! This episode is seemingly filled with more Mythology goodness than the entire first two seasons combined.
    We get our first in-depth view of the inner workings of the conspiracy and see that it has its own internal politics as well. There is some amazing character development as well: CSM breaks out of his usual smarmy self into something more like a feral animal after being called on his lies, Skinner begins to sympathize and actively help our dynamic duo and Scully develops a stake in all of this when she learns that a file is being maintained on her, complete with tissue sample.

    Production values continue to be high. The shot looking way, way down on Mulder and Scully as they enter the mine wasbreathtaking, along with the excellent atmospheric soundtrack that accompanied the scene.
  • Completely fantastic

    My heart sank when the episode started with yet another voice-over narration by Hosteen, riddled with Native American folklore. I'd gotten quite enough of that in the last episode, thank you very much. I was anxious to get back to Scully and Skinner's standoff - an amazing way to end the previous episode - and impatient with the Hosteen narration, especially since the whole "White Buffalo" myth was brushed off the entire episode and then forced back into the ending. But thank goodness, the rest of the episode was all that was promised and more. The confrontation between Scully and Skinner, with Mulder listening outside and bursting in. The look on Scully's face was priceless. The ensuing pursuit for the truth about Mulder's father's involvement in this whole mess was intriguing and exciting. Scully's additional emotional stress with not being able to visit her sister in the hospital, and the guilt she experienced for her were really interesting. The fact that the producers and writers chose to give Scully an intimate personal stake in all this - her sister's death, the computer chip in her skin - is a great opportunity for character development. Now the search for truth is more than Mulder's obsession, it's Scully's search for answers as well. Overall a very interesting, informative, well-done episode.
  • "I was a dead man and now I'm back"

    This cheesy line from "The FBI-Man" is pretty much the start of the new episode. Luckily this is not at all an indication of the quality of the rest of the show...

    Man, what a great episode this has been. Lots and lots of stuff has happened.

    As we've seen in the previous episode (The Blessing Way), Skully's sister Melissa is in critical condition. In this episode she will eventually die, leaving Skully feeling guilty since the bullet was meant for her.

    This brings us to Alex Krycek, the man who shot Melissa. Because of his failure last time, "The group" tries to get rid of him by rigging his car with a bomb. He escapes the assassination resulting that he's now some kind of freelance mercenary. I'm really looking forward to how this will develop.

    The heart of this episode is of course "Operation Paper Clip", the project of the US Government to bring ex-nazis into the country for their knowlege on DNA. Inside a mountain there are "lots and lots of files" of every American citizen after the 1950's containing DNA. The government somehow tried to create an human-alien hybrid.
    If this is all true remains to be seen of course...

    A great episode with a lot of happenings. I can't wait to see the rest of season 3!
  • This is a vital episode for character development

    “Paper Clip” concludes the 3 part story to do with the missing computer files. Mulder and Skully are reunited and find out some more info to do with Mulders father. They seek out a Nazi who worked on a operation called paper clip. They are then lead to a mountain where the discover 1000’s of files to do with abductees. This again is another slow burner, but it is better than the last episode. The Indian continues to narrate bits of the story and helps Mulder and Skully in more ways than one. This is a vital episode for character development as we see the smoking man turn on Krycek, Skully’s sister die and Mulder finds out more info on his fathers dark secrets. Above Average.
  • The one that reveales a lot of secrets

    The third and last episode of this fantastic three-parter. I don’t think it’s as good as the past two, but it was still satisfying in all possible ways.

    It begins with the awesome Albert telling a story about a white woman, when she died she promised to come back as a white buffalo. The day that Mulder was cured, a white buffalo was born.

    We continue at Mulder’s apartment, he makes Skinner explain what he was doing with Scully, Scully says she thought he was gonna kill her but he said that he has the tape and it’s better for him to keep it.

    When Melissa is taken to the hospital, her mom goes to her and expecting it to be Scully. But soon enough she finds out to be Missy, I felt very bad for both characters, that evil stupid Alex F*cking Krycek!

    The number one annoying character in this episode was Cancer Man, first of all he lied to everyone and wanted to kill Mulder and Scully no matter what, I was soo pleased by what Skinner did at the end. He threatened CSM that he would reveal the secrets if he didn’t keep Mulder and Scully’s life safe. Skinner was without a doubt the best character of the episode, he climbed the ladder up very high and proved that Mulder and Scully aren’t the only interesting and fantastic characters.

    When Mulder and Scully go to some abandoned place, they find files of Samantha and Scully. Scully soon finds aliens there and Mulder a space ship. They both are attacked by the military but able to escape. Skinner makes them an offer, the tape for their lives. Mulder wants the tape because it has the truth, but Scully chose her life over it and she wants to see her sister.

    Also Krycek is back again, he stole the disk and is almost murdered by CSM in his car but able to escape. He calls CSM and says that he will make him a very famous guy if he doesn’t leave him alone.

    The the old man who told Scully to be in danger, tells them that Samantha was taken away because Mulder’s dad was a threat to them, Scully doesn’t believe anything but Mulder tells her that she was on the disk because she was abducted.

    The saddest part of the episode was about Melissa, Albert had his fears for her life and prays. But sometimes are sacrifices needed, the mother of the white buffalo became sick and the little Buffalo didn’t want to drink anymore, the day after the mother died.

    Same happened to Melissa, when Scully arrived to the hospital she was already three hours dead. Scully tells Mulder that she knows the truth, now she wants the answers.