The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 17


Aired Monday 9:00 PM Feb 23, 1996 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
334 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Mulder and Scully are asked to help in a case involving Robert Patrick Modell, a murderer possessing a psychic ability to force his will onto people. Due to a brain tumor that is slowly killing him, he is searching for a "worthy adversary" and he forces Mulder into a battle of mind over matter.moreless

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  • A very Good episode about a kind of Hypnotism

    Pusher push thoughts into mind, dangerous lethal aware

    I loved the final explecnation
  • I'm under the influence of this show

    A well done filler episode coming off the big heels of the last episode. The magazine cover of the host was a nice touch, Vince Gilligan likes adding things like that, he wrote a reference to Tombs in a season 2 episode, kind of makes it all fit in a way. The villain is fine, nothing memorable but the acting was all on point especially with Scully during that final scene in the hospital room. I do wish she would have just knocked the dude out instead of trying to talk Mulder.moreless
  • whammy

    Aside from excellent plotting, what makes this and so many other X-Files episodes great are the character moments. My favorite was the look Mulder gives Pusher after someone pulls an alarm. In that efficient moment, he shares Pusher's complete lack of pity. But Scully had a number of great moments too, especially Gillian Anderson's acting during the climax and the line, "Please explain to me the scientific nature of the
  • Pusher

    Pusher was another perfect and very entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was awesome, well written and played out perfectly. It was interesting to see this phenomenon explored and it was fun watching Mulder match wits with Modell. There was action, drama and intrigue along with character and plot development. The guest cast was stellar as usual. I liked seeing Skinner involved when Modell forces his secretary to attack him. I certainly look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Thrilling and emotional with a fast-paced plot and crisp dialogue, "Pusher" is one of the X-Files best standalone episodes.

    "Pusher" does everything right. It takes a very simple idea and spins it into a captivating plot that makes the viewer feel invested in the episode.

    The best part of the episode was hands down the interaction between Mulder and Scully. It was so well done in this episode, being emotional but not too "cutesy." It showed clearly the depth of emotion between these two people, and it effectively worked this emotion into the story without seeming corny or forceful.

    The dialogue was spot on. It was at times funny ("explain to me the scientific definiton of 'the whammy'") and it was at other times deep and moving (Mulder saying "Scu--Scull" as he tried not to shoot her). Sometimes in the X-Files the dialogue seems too heavy-handed or over philosophic, but in this episode it was just right.

    This is a great example of what made the X-Files a great show.moreless
Julia Arkos

Julia Arkos


Guest Star

Roger R. Cross

Roger R. Cross

SWAT Lieutenant

Guest Star

Steve Bacic

Steve Bacic

Agent Collins

Guest Star

Mitch Pileggi

Mitch Pileggi

Assistant Director Walter Skinner

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • Principal Setting:
      Loudoun County, Virginia

    • This episode contains a reference to the second season episode, "The Host". In the introduction to this episode, Pusher is seen taking a tabloid titled the Worldwide Enquirer from a rack in a supermarket. Its cover reads, "IT'S BACK! Flukeman found washed up in Martha's Vineyard!", above a sketch of the Flukeman.

    • When Pusher is first apprehended by Agent Burst, it seems rather odd that the cruiser in which they are traveling is the last vehicle in the convoy? During the transport of a suspected serial killer, you would think that his vehicle would be in the middle of the convoy, with the vehicles in front blocking traffic, and the vehicles following pulling rear escort.

    • Scully pronounces Ronin as "rōnin" and Mulder corrects her with "rōneen". Actually, Scully's pronunciation is correct.

    • When Modell gets into the FBI building by convincing the guard that his homemade pass is real, why did no one else question why he was walking around the place with a brown envelope with 'Pass' written in black pen on his jacket? He only spoke to the guard, Holly and Skinner while there so only they could possibly have been under his influence.

    • When Mulder shows his ID to the hospital receptionist, he clearly holds it upside down with the badge section on top instead of the section with the blue 'FBI' text.

    • Regarding the issue of a revolver and shell casings:
      If you freeze the video when Mulder looks at the casings on the floor, you can clearly see 2 casings and 3 intact cartridges all lying near each other. This is because Modell emptied them out in order to play roulette.

    • Why didn't Mulder ever use the term "hypnosis"? While less accurate, it would certainly have made his case more strongly to the non-believers.

    • The electronic map indicated that Fairfax Mercy Hospital was on/near Chain Bridge Road in Fairfax County, Virginia. The hospital is actually on Gallows Road.

    • When Modell "talks" Burst to death, the cops in the room stop Mulder and Scully from disconnecting the call. You would think that two FBI Agents would hold rank over local PD Officers on any case.

      Not necessarily. Actually, in most cases, the state government has much more widespread power than the federal government. It's just that the feds can supersede the state government on very specific issues. Policing is usually up to the state officials, with the federal government very reluctant to take over or interject. And even when their involvement is necessary, they would usually not take charge of the investigation.

    • In the hospital scene Mulder hears 2 gunshots and then finds the guard and the technician, but there are more than 2 bullet casings on the floor. Also the guard's weapon was a revolver, which doesn't automatically eject casings.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Holly: Agents? Here's volume ten.
      (Scully stares at her black eye, Holly is embarrassed and lowers her gaze)
      Scully: Sorry, I couldn't help noticing.
      Holly: I was in Georgetown this weekend. A guy knocked me down, stole my purse.
      Mulder: Did they get him?
      Holly: Do they ever? (Mulder and Scully stare at her) No offence. Excuse me.

    • Mulder: You know, we thought he was undergoing treatment but we were wrong.
      Scully: What do you mean?
      Mulder: Read his chart. The MRIs were gauging how much life he had left, but he consistently refused treatment. The tumor remained operable right up to the end, but he refused to have it removed.
      Scully: Why?
      Mulder: I think it's like you said. He was always such a... little man. This was finally something that made him feel big.

    • Frank Burst: Ro nin.
      Mulder: (corrects his pronunciation) Ronin. It's a samurai without a master. (Scully gives him a weird look) What, you never saw Yojimbo?

    • (Modell is trying to make Mulder shoot himself)
      Scully: No, Mulder. Don't do this! Don't ---
      (Mulder pulls the trigger)
      Scully: (Screaming) No! Damn you, you bastard!

    • Mulder: I believe he has a unique suggestive ability which makes for the perfect MO he talks his victims into injuring themselves. He overrides their wills with his own.

    • Scully: You're saying he talked him into it? Somehow... willed him to do it?

    • Pusher: Your turn, Scully. Got to play by the rules. Pull the trigger, Mulder.
      Scully: Mulder, fight him. You can fight this.
      Pusher: Come on. Pull the trigger, Mulder. She shot you, I read it in her files. Payback time... shoot the little spy!

    • Mulder: Hey, Scully, check this out. Mango Kiwi Tropical Swirl. Now we know we're dealing with a madman.

    • Pusher: Light up, light up, light...(suddenly sees Mulder standing there and groans) Oh. Betcha' $5 I get off.

    • Mother: No more candy. No! No more candy!

    • Pusher: Let's get this show on the road. (pulls secret black panel on back of person's coat in front of him. Velcro gives way, revealing the word FBI.)
      Swat Cops: Police! FBI!

    • Frank Burst: Hey, Modell! I know your name now. I know where you live!

    • Mulder: Modell psyched the judge out, he put the whammy on him.
      Scully: Please explain to me the scientific nature of the 'whammy.'

  • NOTES (8)

    • The character Pusher's real name was Robert Patrick Modell. This was about five years before the actor Robert Patrick joined the cast.

    • Danielle Faith Friedman, the production assistant, makes a brief cameo as a cover model on one of the American Ronin magazines.

    • In the original script Mulder asks if the tiny camera he straps on picks up the Discovery Channel, but Duchovny went with the Playboy Channel instead.

    • Fox Broadcasting had some problems with the Russian roulette scene. Apparently there had never been a Russian roulette sequence in any other one-hour drama on network tv in the US up to that time. It took some serious discussion between Vince Gilligan, the writer of this episode, and the network to allow the sequence.

    • The character of Modell is similar to the character of Andy McGee in the movie Firestarter, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. In fact,McGee's power is described as pushing, just as Modell's is, and he suffers from exhaustion after using it, just as Modell does.

    • Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters member David Grohl and his wife, Jennifer Youngblood-Grohl, can be seen in the background as Modell enters the foyer of the FBI building.

    • Loudoun County is a real community and is where writer Vince Gilligan was born and raised.

    • FBI Agent 'Holly', who beats up Skinner, owes her name to writer Vince Gilligan's girlfriend, Holly Rice.


    • Frank Burst: Mr. Blackwell put a sock in it.

      Mr. Blackwell is a well-known fashion critic who publishes a 10 Best and Worst Dressed list featuring celebrities.