The X-Files

Season 1 Episode 9


Aired Monday 9:00 PM Nov 12, 1993 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
527 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Mulder and Scully are contacted by a communications specialist from NASA who shows them evidence of sabotage in the space programme. Mulder's youthful hero-worship is shaken by the apparent involvement of a high-ranking astronaut.

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  • An Exorcist ripoff gone wrong

    The conspiracy angle and a couple effective space/houston scenes form the meat of this episode. Aside from that, it had nothing.
  • Intriguing and Thought Provoking

    I was fascinated by this episode and didn't find it boring in the least. I am happy to insert this perfect 10 score amongst all of these dismal ratings! The core question of the value of the space program and who has to pay for it was emotionally and intellectually intriguing and I was pleasantly surprised at how the show was able to keep my interest with what were essentially talking heads and voices considering that it would have had to have been a cartoon in order to tell the spaceward side of the story for the budget of an episode. The character of Michelle Generoo gave one emotional through line as someone who didn't want to sacrifice the astronauts lives in one sense and the Colonel's character gave an equal but opposite through line for the same reason. Both characters demonstrated wonderful heroism and I say 'Bravo!' to Carter for telling a story with such feeling.moreless
  • great episode

    We get to see a Space shuttle mission saved by Mulder, some more ghost stuff and lots more.
  • Not Even Mulder Could Decipher This Script

    I wasn't sure what was going on at some points in this episode. What was up with the Face-on-Mars subplot? Okay, I got it at the dude was possessed. Ripped-off from "The Exorcist", since the best way to teach a demon a lesson is by throwing yourself through a plate glass window to the pavement far below. Until then, I didn't have a clue, but it was so bad that I didn't really care.

    Cringe-inducing absurdity as Mulder and Scully hang out in NASA's control room, keeping everything under control. What will NASA do without them?

    THIS EPISODE WANTS US TO BELIEVE IN: Demonic possesion that causes sabotage of the space program.


    Deep in this script, I can see that there was actually a good and believable story about sabotage and the space program. But for some reason, (I guess it wasn't "X-Files-ish" enough), someone had to throw in a good bit of nonsense about something that has to do with Mars or something and possession or something. Whatever.moreless
  • One of the worst episodes

    In overall this episode is not bad but from "The X-Files" point of view is sucks as hell. Full of mistakes, lacks of continuity. It is strange that it was written by series creator. I guess that normally the script, if it was written by any other writer, wouldn't have been concived approved.
Ed Lauter

Ed Lauter

Colonel Marcus Aurelius Belt

Guest Star

Susanna Thompson

Susanna Thompson

Michelle Generoo

Guest Star

Tom McBeath

Tom McBeath


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • Principal setting: Houston, Texas.

    • Mulder claims that Belt took the alien with him at the end of the episode. This is the same alien that floated off and wrecked Generoo's car and wandered up to the space shuttle. Why is Mulder so convinced that the ghostly creature didn't escape?

    • Revealing Mistake: Look closely at the folders Mulder and Scully are examining. The three folders in front of Mulder have the numbers 10, 17, and 47 on them. These same folders appear on the shelves Scully is looking through. In addition, there doesn't seem to be any sense to the numbering at all. While it's hard enough to imagine the agents will find evidence of a saboteur in all the files in the first place, wouldn't this jumble make it even more difficult?

    • Continuity: The telemetry is cut to the shuttle at 2:55:20 according to the mission clock. When contact is reestablished, the clock reads 2:56:09. This is only forty-nine seconds, rather than the whole minute Generoo claims has passed.

    • Continuity: Scully makes no move to stop Mulder from dragging Generoo out of the car after the accident. Even after she tells Generoo not to move, she doesn't seem to have a problem with Mulder helping her to her feet.

    • Factual Error: Perhaps the creators had to trim the extra cast members down a bit, but in reality there is no Mission Control communications commander. The person who would be serving in Michelle Generoo's role is called a capcom, and they are a former astronaut. In addition, there should have been another link in the chain of command between Belt and Generoo: specifically, that of the flight director.

    • Revealing Mistakes: When Belt decides to cut telemetry to the shuttle, they lose voice communication as well. Telemetry only refers to data and wouldn't interfere with the voice communications.

    • Factual Errors: The episode mentions that there are solar winds blowing across the surface of Mars at 300 mph. These aren't solar winds as they are relatively weak and wouldn't do anything to sculpt the Martian landscape. The winds that blow over Mars are just regular winds, like we have on Earth. The only difference is that the winds on Mars are much more fierce than the ones we have.

    • Continuity: Why did Mulder call for a doctor with Scully present? After all, Scully is a doctor.

    • Revealing Mistakes: The shot of Mars is obviously the Earth, just tinted red.

    • Anachronisms: Lt. Col. Marcus Aurelius Belt is shown on a shuttle mission in 1977, but the space shuttle was first flown in 1981.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Mulder: Hey, Scully, we send those men up into space to unlock the doors of the universe, and we don't even know what's behind them.

    • Belt: You know what it means to be an astronaut, sir? You risk your life every time you get into your spacecraft for nothing more than the good progress of mankind.
      Mulder: You've got no argument from me, sir. You're true American heroes.
      Belt: Heroes? We used to make headlines when we did our job right. Now they bury them in the back of the paper. Name me two astronauts on the last shuttle mission. You make the front page today only if you screw up. They only know your name if you're the unlucky SOB sitting on 500 tons of dynamite. That's what they're really waiting for.

    • Scully: What do you think?
      Mulder: I can't believe how much faith we put in machines.

    • Techmech Guy: Every shuttle has flown with that same APU valve. We haven't had a problem. To do an analysis and redesign would delay the program for months, not to mention the cost.
      Scully: Is it conceivable that in order to avoid these delays, the program is being pushed ahead without proper safety precaution?
      Techmech Guy: Look, there are about 17,000 things that can go wrong with the shuttle, and about 17,000 people who make sure they don't.

    • 70's TV Reporter: I'm here in Pasadena with the NASA mission control team as they celebrate scientific history. The first close-up photographic transmissions of Mars from the Viking Observer Spacecraft. Photos that have created something of a stir by revealing surprising geologic information: the presence of large amounts of water locked in Mars' polar icecaps. Water that some speculate could have possibly sustained life on the planet. Even more controversial is one image of a land formation: a formation that looks like a sculpted human face. However NASA officials are denying it as an indication of an alien civilization.
      70's Belt: No, it's nothing more than a trick of light and shadows, a geologic anomaly. I'm afraid the only sculptors at work are the solar winds that blow across the surface of Mars at 300 miles an hour ten months a year.

    • Scully: It's an oxygen leak. Even I can figure out what happens when you run out of oxygen.

    • Scully: Why would somebody want to sabotage the Space Shuttle?
      Mulder: Well, if you were a terrorist, there probably isn't a more potent symbol of American progress and prosperity. And if you're an opponent of big science, NASA itself represents a vast money trench that exists outside the crucible and debate of the democratic process. And of course there are those futurists who believe the Space Shuttle is a rusty old bucket that should be mothballed. A dinosaur spacecraft built in the 70's by scientists setting their sights on space in an ever declining scale.
      Scully: And we thought we could rest easy with the fall of the Soviet Union.
      Mulder: Not to mention certain fringe elements who accuse our government itself of space sabotage. The failure of the Hubble Telescope and the Mars Observer are directly connected to a conspiracy to deny us evidence.
      Scully: Evidence of what?
      Mulder: Alien civilization.
      Scully: Oh. Of course.

    • Mulder: You never wanted to be an astronaut when you were a kid, Scully?
      Scully: Guess I missed that phase.

    • Mulder: (about seeing a shuttle launch from the control room) I have to admit, that fulfilled one of my boyhood fantasies.
      Scully: Yeah, it ranks right up there with getting a pony and learning how to braid my own hair.

    • Scully: (to Mulder, about Col. Belt) Didn't you want to get his autograph?

  • NOTES (4)

    • Susanna Thompson plays Michelle Generoo in this episode. Her most recent appearance was in the NCIS episode entitled Ex-File.

    • BreaXfast, the premier Washington, DC X-files fan club, views Space as the all-time worst X-files episode ever. In a 2003 press release, Jon Lindsley, designated spokesperson for BreaXfast, is quoted as saying, "It sucked so much." It has been voted "The Worst Episode of All Time" every year since its air date in 1993.

    • Writer and series creator Chris Carter admitted that he wasn't entirely happy with the special effects in this episode. Mat Beck, the visual effects supervisor on the show, had only 4 days to create all the special effects in this episode and wasn't able to complete them all.

    • This is the most expensive episode of the first season. A big chunk of the budget went to the construction of the large control room set.


    • The character Marcus Aurelius Belt is named for Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161-180 AD and the last of the "Five Good Emperors". He was also a very important Stoic philosopher