The X-Files

Season 1 Episode 19


Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 01, 1994 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
401 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Mulder and Scully travel to an American Indian reservation to investigate the death of an Indian man who was mistaken for a wild animal and may have been the legendary Manitou, a man who can shapeshift into a beast.

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  • Did I watch the same episode as other reviewers on this thread??

    I'm not getting the low ratings, as this episode was a season 1 class act and over the years has been one of my most watched. To address a previous post: the caged mountain lion was a metaphor for western culture. We take advantage of our world's furry inhabitants and resources while North American aboriginal tribes have a 1000+ year history of living in harmony with them. I found the beast to be rather convincing. Remember folks: this was the early 90's and special effects were still fairly low tech. I found the director more than made up for any visual shortcomings with solid sound effects and an enormously creepy (and multi-layered) growl. I think the score, lighting and acting were also strong, and disagree with the notion that the script was poorly written. The whole episode feels like I'm sitting around a campfire listening to aboriginals convey ancient myths. Seldom does a bad script make you feel that way, even if the other aforementioned elements are superb. The battle between Mulder's empiricism and Scully's delusion was EPIC. It was also cool to see Donnelly Rhodes (grew up to the beachcombers). Oh, and that shaman was UBER COOL!!! One of my highest ratings from season 1.moreless
  • A shapeshifter

    Here we get a shaoeshifter killer, indians, no conspiracy . We get to know a lot about howindian myths are maybe true.
  • Shapes

    Werewolves, at least for me, always end up on great projects. Beings of unimaginable power and killer instincts uncontrollable, disruptive meat and people born killers, who then become men again, without the slightest awareness of his actions later (perhaps a metaphor for the times when the man is taken away by hatred and loss of reason?), are something of intense fascination. It would not take long for such creatures approached the series with a good dose of science and indigenous culture and, of course, very suspenseful. The lycanthropy, which in the scientific sphere is the disorder of man behave like a wild animal, here is highlighted by the mythical sphere and reports the existence of an ancient evil spirit of Indian folklore that possesses bodies and transmuted into literal werewolves, thirsty by blood and wild ecstatic energy. Even though simplistic, the portrait of the conflicted relationship of cities and Indian reservations is quite good, incremented by several problems, confrontation of interests and some deaths. The highlight here is the creation of atmosphere, with the cold atmosphere of the city simultaneously with the forest, unknown and obscure, harboring the imminent danger of the monster attack. The final scene is excellent, leading us to the fullest in a dark house full of stuffed animals and instant appearances, but the other attack scenes are not very good, always shaky and blurry (but the processing is excellent, no doubt). In an episode about a creature so extraordinary, impressive attention not to him but a cold environment for all and macabre where Scully and Mulder are always prepared to try to uncover the crux of the issues.moreless
  • Shapes

    Shapes was a perfect episode of The X-Files and I really enjoyed watching because the story was awesome, well written, and based on Native American Legends. There was a lot of character development and intriguing story lines leading to the conclusion. Though we were not shown every thing the creature's facial features were pretty well done. I liked the directing and editing style of this episode. I was very entertained and happy to experience this episode. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • If you can't see the "twist" you're dumber than a box of rocks.

    My word. This is horrible. Which bit to choose for special scrutiny? The hideous and grating Gwen. Her brother's just died and you can't help wishing she'd follow suit. The stereotypical “indians” distrusting the FBI and being all sort of “not of our ways”. The pet mountain lion. Just why?

    This is horrible writing, beginning to end. The dialogue is forced. And there's nothing more frustrating than spending ten to twenty five minutes mocking Mulder and Scully because it's so painfully obvious what's going on that your average frog spawn has sussed it. But at least that's some sort of emotion. Good grief, I empathised most with that stuffed head that got exploded. Or maybe the killer teddy that tried to escape from the bathroom. Either way, I was more scared by Were Bears when I was a kid. At least they were vaguely engaging.moreless
Ty Miller

Ty Miller

Lyle Parker

Guest Star

Michael Horse

Michael Horse

Sheriff Charley Tskany

Guest Star

Donnelly Rhodes

Donnelly Rhodes

Jim Parker

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • Principal setting: Browning, Montana.

    • After Fox suggested doing an episode that featured a more conventional monster than The X-Files had previously used, writing partners Glen Morgan and James Wong - who had been wanting to create a story that explored Native American mythology - proposed the real-life concept of the Manitou. They conceptualised the Manitou as being similar to a werewolf, in order to attract fans of that genre, but attempted to make the episode feel distinctive, in the fashion of the series, by taking a slightly unusual approach to that concept and the word "werewolf" is consequently never mentioned in the episode. As Morgan later remarked, "A horror show should be able to do these legends that have been around since the thirteen hundreds".

    • Throughout the episode, the American flag patch on Sheriff Tskany's jacket is backwards (blue square and stars on the right). The patch on his uniform shirt is correct however.

    • Factual Errors: The Native Americans mentioned were the Trego Indians, but the episode took place in Browning, Montana. The only Reservation near Browning belongs to the Blackfeet Nation, not the Trego. There is a Trego, MT near Idaho and Canada, on the other side of the Continental Divide. Which, in Montana terms, is pretty far away.

    • Continuity: When Lyle turns into the Manitou, we see him rip the shower curtain. However, in the next shot we see that his hands are still normal and haven't transformed yet.

    • Factual Errors: If you drink blood, it doesn't alter your own blood and thus would not show up in a blood test.

      I don't think it was suggested that the blood had altered anything, just that it had been ingested, which I'm assuming they found in the stomach contents??

    • Continuity: During Joe Goodensnake's funeral, the parting in Mulder's hair switches in between shots. After he gets out of the car, his hair is parted on the left. Then in the shot after Gwen gives Scully one of her brother's possessions, his hair is parted on the right. In the next shot when Mulder talks to Sheriff Tskany, his hair is once again parted on the left.

    • Continuity: When Ish describes his childhood experience with the creature, he ends his description with "... but his eyes, they were still human. And they begged me to kill him." However when Parker changes into the Manitou his eyes are the first thing to change.

      It could have been an expression, not something literal

  • QUOTES (6)

  • NOTES (3)

    • Michael Horse had previously worked with David Duchovny on Twin Peaks. They played similar roles in this show as well, Duchovny an FBI agent, and Horse a local Sheriff.

    • The sound effect of the Manitou's roar consists of 12 different elements.

    • The original script had a scene where a cow would be blocking the agents' car. Scully would try to shoo the beast out of the road by waving her arms and yelling: "Baseball glove! Leather purse!".


    • Character Name: Manitou

      The term Manitou is used to designate the spirits among many Algonquian groups. It refers to the concept of one aspect of the interconnection and balance of nature/life, similar to the East Asian concept of qi; in simpler terms it can refer to a spirit. This spirit is seen as a (contactable) person as well as a concept.

    • Ish: I was at Wounded Knee in 1973.

      Ish is referring to the 71-day standoff between the federal authorities and militants of the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Wounded Knee holds some significance in American Indian history as it was the site of the last armed conflict between the Great Sioux Nation and the USA in 1890.