The X-Files

Season 4 Episode 20

Small Potatoes

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Apr 20, 1997 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
381 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Five babies in the same town are all born with tails and the local OB-GYN is blamed for tampering with fertilised eggs. However, Mulder discovers the culprit to be a simple man with a genetic deformity who may have the ability to alter his appearance.

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  • New insight

    So I guess that means he didn't drug Scully's wine; she was still coherent after a whole bottle. This episode gave insight into each of the three major players. Also it was super fun and kept me guessing.
  • Small Potatoes a Suprise Sensation!

    Small Potatoes was a perfect and very entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because there was a lot of character development along with a fantastic story which was very well constructed. It was crazy how multiple women gave birth to babies with tails. It was interesting to hear Eddie hypothetically defend his actions. I couldn't believe Scully didn't pick up on all the differences sooner when Eddie pretended to be Mulder. I liked how every thing played out and look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • a witty and sardonic look at Fox Mulder, as Eddie explores Mulder's apartment, his life, and his relationship with Scully.

    "You're a damn good-lookin' man," acknowledges Eddie, right before he cold-cocks Mulder and locks him in a basement, stealing his identity. In every case, we see Fox Mulder in a new light, through Faux Mulder's eyes, as it were. His office is a waste of taxpayers' money, his friends are geeks, and his relationship with Scully unfulfilled--or so Eddie sees it. All the wish fulfillment fantasies he projects onto Mulder--the romantic G-man image, the tough guy, the man about town--tell us more and more about the humble, unpretentious, and plain Eddie. Who is, not too surprisingly, more romantic than Mulder.

    Scully, who somehow has not noticed that her witty and intelligent partner is suddenly neither as glib nor as literate as he was yesterday, is surprised to find "Mulder" at her door with a bottle of wine. In a few hours, she is poring out her heart as he pours out the last of the wine, and sits mesmerized as this Faux Mulder moves in on her. It's not hard to imagine why--unlike Mulder, Eddie Van Blundht takes the time to actually listen to Scully, as his conversation illustrates. Half the time Fox Mulder hardly listens to Scully, but Faux Mulder hangs on her every word. Being the focus of that level of attention is in itself erotic.

    Eddie's can't-blame-a-guy-for-trying look at Scully after his attempt at seduction is revealed is a classic. He is completely convincing as a nebbish on the order of Wallace Shawn or Woody Allen, and his timing is flawless. At the end of "Small Potatoes", he even lets us see a bit of the envy that drives Eddie, as he tells Mulder mockingly, "You should live a little...I would, if I were you." Deep irony, coming from a man who lives his entire life as other people.

    Once Fox became Faux the comedy bar was raised several notches, and Duchovny topped it with ease. Not every actor can parody his own character so thoroughly, and yet retain the audience's goodwill.

    This is one of the best scripts from this season. From the subtle tease of Eddie's leaf-blowing neighbor, who bears a very strong resemblance to Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill, to Eddie himself, we are constantly reminded that "we are not who we are", and that things are not always as they appear on the surface. This is also one of the gentlest X-Files—no one is killed in this story.

  • Mulder and Scully nearly hook up.. nearly being the operative word.

    About four seasons into the show and my favorite episode up until this point is an episode that has nothing to do with aliens or conspiracies or government agents trying to kill the main characters. This was just an all-around fun episode penned by Vince Gilligan, who not only finds creative ways to make episodes interesting but also gives life to the characters in ways the other writers can't.

    The episode began in a bizarre way: Mulder and Scully learn that five babies have been born with tails. Scully actually seems inclined to believe Mulder when he claims something supernatural is going on, and as they investigate, they learn that the man responsible is a strange person named Van Blundt (with an H of course!) They claim he has been impregnating women somehow, but it seems mysterious how he does so without them knowing.

    From here, the episode turns much less eerie and much more funny. It reminds me of the Darin Morgan episodes from the past, particularly the one with the freaks, but this episode actually HAS Darin Morgan playing the role of the villain (I believe.. I could be getting this completely wrong). Either way, the quirkiness grows to an all time high after Mulder and Scully learn that Van Blundt is able to switch bodies and change his appearance to that of anybody else. It's never explained how this happens, but the fun level of the episode makes it too easy to overlook. Van Blundt soon takes on the appearance of Mulder, and we get a series of hilarious scenes where Van Blundt tests out Mulder's body in front of a mirror. If your idea of funny is seeing David Duchovny standing in front of a mirror, telling himself he looks sexy while brandishing a gun, this is an episode for you.

    We also get the closest we'll probably get to a Mulder and Scully hook-up after the fake Mulder goes over to Scully's house with a bottle of wine and tries to get her drunk enough to fool around. Just as they're about to kiss, the real Mulder bursts in, and I was immediately convinced that this was one of the best episodes the show has made to date.

    Sure, it's nice to see the show exploring the mythology of extraterrestrials and the conspiracies and search for the truth, but episodes like these, with their quirky humor and great writing, makes it easy to forget about the other types of episodes. Just an awesome episode all around.moreless
  • Did anyone else notice this?

    I absolutely loved this episode and was laughing my bum off the entire time! :) Watching Eddie/Mulder in the lab with the tail was hilarious. I honestly can't even remember what Scully and Eddie/Mulder said because I was too busy laughing at him trying to fix the tail.

    Christine Cavanaugh was brilliant as the first mother we meet. She was hilarious and I always loved the scenes she was in. DD did an awesome job portraying an entirely different persona. Watching him as Eddie in both his office ("Fox? Oh, brother!") and his home ("F......B.....I....") were my favorite parts of the episode.

    Of course, there was the almost-kiss on the couch, but to be honest it wasn't my favorite part. The entire time I'm squirming because I know it's Eddie and it worried me that Scully didn't notice that it wasn't him. Come on, you've worked with him for 4 years now! He doesn't act like this!!)But the real Mulder bursting in was pretty hilarious. Which brings me to my only problem with this episode. How did the real Mulder escape from the basement? I was completely lost by that point. Did I miss something? Did aliens help him? Did he somehow manage to fit through the little squares on the grate of the door therefore making him an X-File in himself? I may never know........moreless
Robert Rozen

Robert Rozen

Dr. Alton Pugh

Guest Star

Paul McGillion

Paul McGillion

Fred Neiman/Angry Husband

Guest Star

Jennifer Sterling

Jennifer Sterling

Angry Wife

Guest Star

Mitch Pileggi

Mitch Pileggi

Assistant Director Walter Skinner

Recurring Role

Dean Haglund

Dean Haglund

Langly (voice only)

Recurring Role

Tom Braidwood

Tom Braidwood

Frohike (voice only)

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Mulder: (opens the closet and stuff falls out) I'm okay!
      Scully: (downstairs) What?

    • Mulder: Well, if you're waiting for my usual theory as to what's going on, I don't have one.
      Scully: I do. On behalf of all the women in the world, I seriously doubt this is anything to do with consensual sex. I think it involved some form of Rohypnol rape.

    • Scully: Looking like someone else, Mulder, and being someone else are completely different things.
      Mulder: Well, maybe it's not, I mean everybody else around you would treat you like you were somebody else, and ultimately maybe it's other people's reactions to us that make us who we are.

    • Scully: How many times have you seen Star Wars, Amanda?
      Amanda: Three hundred and sixty eight. I should break four hundred by Memorial Day.

    • Mulder: (to Amanda) I was just here - where did I go?

    • Eddie: Look, I'm not saying anything one way or another. I'm just saying hypothetically, if some women wanted to have kids, their husbands weren't... capable, and everybody was happy and no one got hurt, well hypothetically, where's the crime?

    • Mulder: What did you want to talk to me about, Eddie.
      Van Blundht: I just think it's funny. I was born a loser but you're one by choice.
      Mulder: On what do you base that astute assessment?
      Van Blundht: Experience. You should live a little. Treat yourself. God knows I would, if I were you.

    • Skinner: Who wrote this report?
      "Mulder": I did sir.
      Skinner: You spelled Federal Bureau of Investigation wrong.
      "Mulder": It's a typo.
      Skinner: Twice.

    • Mulder: When you were admitted you said that the baby's father was from another planet. What did you mean by that exactly?
      Amanda: You know, that he's not from this planet.
      Mulder: Were you abducted?
      Amanda: Huh? No, no, he dropped by my apartment one day, and one thing sort of led to another...
      Mulder: But the baby's father is an alien?
      Amanda: No, no, I didn't say he was an alien, I said he was from another planet. His name is Luke Skywalker. He's what's known as a Jedi Knight.
      Scully: Did he have a light saber?
      Amanda: No, he didn't bring it.

    • Mulder: I have a theory, if you want to hear it.
      Scully: Van Blundht somehow physically transformed into his captor then walked out the door leaving no one the wiser?
      Mulder: Scully, should we be picking out china patterns or what?!

  • NOTES (10)

    • When Scully mentions using PCR showed that the 5 children have the same parental DNA, she actually means gel electrophoresis. Polymerase Chain Reaction, PCR, basically augments a small amount of DNA into a large amount while it is the electrophoresis that does the actual separation and shows the different bands of DNA we see in one scene.

    • Paul McGillion, who plays one of the husbands in this episode (Fred Neiman), and Mitch Pileggi would both later go on to play characters in the show Stargate Atlantis. Paul McGillion as Carson Beckett and Mitch Pileggi as Colonol Stephen Caldwell. Although they never share a scene in this episode.

    • On the front page of the mock World Weekly Informer newspaper read by Mulder and Scully at the beginning of the episode, there is a headline "ETAP BIGSHOT BUSTED" beneath a mugshot. This is a reference to an earlier Season Four episode, "Unruhe," in which Etap was the brand of film sold at the drugstore. The man pictured in the mugshot is Jim Pate, an assistant prop master for the show, whose last name spelled backward is Etap.

    • The voice of Amanda Nelligan, the mother of the "Luke Skywalker" baby, may be familiar because she is played by Christine Cavanaugh, who more usually appears as a voice artist for animated shows and features. She is probably best known for being the voice of Chuckie Finster of Rugrats fame and the title character of Dexter's Laboratory.

    • Eddie's address of 17 Prospect Parkway is also a former residence in Virgina of writer Vince Gilligan's girlfriend, Holly Rice.

    • Darin Morgan returns to The X-Files for the final time, playing Eddie van Blundht. Morgan wrote many of the most memorable episodes during second and third seasons.

    • According to the DVD commentary by writer Vince Gilligan, they had originally wanted wings for the babies because they thought wings were cuter than tails. However, the wing effect was much harder than the tail effect, so they went with tails, which turned out to be funnier and still cute.

    • This episode was named by TV Guide as one of the greatest episodes in TV history.

    • Eddie-as-Mulder's comment in his apartment, "Where the hell do I sleep", is a rib to the many X-Philes who have asked that very same question. Where the hell does Mulder sleep?

    • The silent H in Eddie's surname is a joke about David Duchovny's surname often being pronounced with the H included, whereas in his name also, the H is silent. Also, the H falling off the name on Eddie's front door could be a reference to the fact that David's father and brother have changed their surname to Ducovny, without the H.


    • Mulder: Birds do it, bees do it, even educated MDs do it.

      This is a 'play' on the opening of Cole Porter's Let's Fall in Love

    • Movie Reference: Taxi Driver

      The scene where Eddie is looking at himself as Mulder in the mirror, is an allusion to the 1976, Robert De Niro movie.

    • Cultural Reference: Sweet Babboo

      In the scene where Eddie van Blundht flees from Mulder and Scully and takes refuge in the guise of the husband of one of the tailed babies' mothers, the pet name the husband has for his wife is "Babboo". In the Peanuts comic strip, Sally Brown calls Linus her "Sweet Babboo".