The X-Files

Season 4 Episode 5

The Field Where I Died

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Nov 03, 1996 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
336 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

After an FBI raid on a doomsday cult called the "Temple of the Seven Stars." Mulder meets Melissa, a cultist who claims to have known him in a previous life during the American Civil War. Scully believes the woman is a delusional schizophrenic but Mulder allows himself to be drawn into her fantasies.moreless

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  • Any personalty could enjoy this episode

    This was a slower case by comparison to just about every episode of the show so far before it which is one highlight. The idea of past lives is fascinating and I was curious how they'd handle it and I enjoyed it for the most part. I'm not informed on hypnosis so the scene where Fox is speaking about the past while induced is a little hard for me to buy because I just don't understand how that process works. Duchonvy is at one of his more dynamic highs with that extended interview scene and when he walks into the church at the end which is easily the biggest highlight this hour, it may just be up there with some of my favorite moments so far from the show.moreless
  • The Field Where I Died

    The Field Where I Died was a great episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was good, the characters were superb and the idea of past lives was addressed. There were some great character moments, there was action, intrigue and drama. I liked how every thing played out and it was fun to see Mulder and Scully investigate. I certainly look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Wow! Pleasantly surprised :D

    This episode was really good. I really loved it, it wasn't very exciting or thrilling, but it was emotional and touching. Yeah it wasn't what you expect from The X-Files, but Mulder's hypnosis and the trances that Melissa went in to during the hypnosis and on the field were really touching and made me shed a few tears...for a second there I wasn't really sure I was watching The X-Files. But I loved the turmoil and small glimpses that we get to see in Mulder's face with all the close ups on him during this episode, the music was fantastic and the entire thing was just so unlike anything I'd seen from this show.moreless
  • "The Field Where I Died" is poignant, even heartbreaking. What a desperately romantic notion--souls mated for eternity. But in the context of more than seventy episodes, it stands out like a cockroach on a wedding cake.moreless


    The story behind "Field Where I Died" can be summed up in one word: Waco. Mulder and Scully accompany a raid on a religious compound to help execute a warrant searching for illegal weapons. Mulder, acting on an impulse he cannot explain, uncovers a secret hiding place in a field where the cult leader, Vernon Ephesian and his six wives are preparing to drink suicide cocktails. Under interrogation, one wife, Melissa suddenly reveals a hidden personality, leading Scully (who does not have a degree in psychology) to conclude that she suffers from a dissociative personality disorder. Mulder (who does have a degree in psychology) dismisses that idea and claims that the personality known as "Sidney" is actually one of Melissa's past lives.

    This episode was a great stand alone story. But the XFiles is not a movie. The characters will return the following week. And thats the problem with a stand alone episode that explores our central character so deeply. Will we see in future episodes how Mulder integrates this remarkable experience into his life? Does Mulder's discovery of a long-lost soul mate, now "gone ahead", mean that he will never fall in love in this life? Not a chance. In the next episode it will be as if none of this ever happened, and Chris Carter and company will be back to the sexual tease between Mulder and Scully with no further reference to this episode or Melissa. In short, if a major character development does not happen in a "mythology" episode, it didn't happen at all. And sometimes not even then.

    My other caveat was that this was just too easy. Mulder doesn't open up to anybody, least of all when Scully's around. Now he let down not just his normal defenses but whatever metaphysical barriers seal us off in our daily lives from lives that went before? Still, I would put up with anything for his fervent "No life is meaningless" line.

    But am I supposed to believe that Dana Scully, our faithful skeptic, is apparently doomed to go through all eternity as a sidekick and never the soul mate? I don't think so. You cannot stand seventy-seven prior episodes on their heads with one brief scene with a tripped-out Fox Mulder. Mulder has risked his life for Dana Scully, traded his sister for Dana Scully, and abandoned his own revenge to sit by her side as she died--for the sake of friendship? Nope. To portray Dana Scully as the repressed but smoldering beauty tantalizingly out of reach for her partner, the instigator of more angst in his life than any female since Samantha, and then in one fell swoop reduce her to everlasting second banana is ridiculous. If I thought the implications of this episode would be played out in future shows, this would really alarm me. But by now, I know better. This is a stand-alone episode that will have no reference beyond itself.

    But, taken by itself "The Field Where I Died" was one hell of an episode. Kristen Cloke was a revelation. Apart from her mugging "Sidney" character (I thought she was channelling Gilbert Gottfried), she produced a wonderfully miserable and confused Melissa Reidal-Ephesian, so mortally wounded by her own life that she was glad to leave it and wait for her lover in the next world. She played a disturbed child and a grieving Confederate widow, a brainwashed bride and a sullen witness, all in the space of a few minutes. Any actor would be proud of such a moment.

    "The Field Where I Died" is one of the most visually and musically perfect X-Files ever. The sunlight itself weeps. The threadbare simplicity of the church, the disquieting children's art on the walls of the nursery, the dusky police station all added a note of sorrow and heartache without appending a single word to the script. Subtle, pensive, and sad, the music carried the story as much as the dialog did.

  • Good acting, awful story

    I'll admit that I judged this episode entirely on its name. The name was intriguing, the beginning was as well, but everything else after it was a trainwreck. I wish I could say that I knew exactly what was going on throughout the 44 minutes, but I was so confused at what the writers wanted me to think.

    I believe the entire point of this case was investigating the possibility of a woman being visited by her past lives. Things are further complicated after the woman suffering from this particular affliction claims that she knew Mulder in a past life as well and that Mulder and her were friends or married or seeing each other or something. I honestly don't know. It doesn't help that the case that sparked this entire thing was weak. Skinner, Mulder, Scully and the rest of the FBI try finding a religious cult leader who supposedly is hiding guns. Or is he? The more I write about the episode, the more frustrating it is to think about.

    It did have one thing going for it though: acting. The woman who played Melissa was superb in the role, even though I was confused at what it meant, and David Duchovney elevates his role as Mulder into new levels. It was amazing and I hope he got at least a nomination for this episode (despite the episode being terrible).

    Great acting wasn't anywhere enough to redeem the episode. It was just haphazard and frustrating.moreless
Donna White

Donna White


Guest Star

Anthony Harrison

Anthony Harrison

Agent Riggins

Guest Star

Michael Dobson

Michael Dobson

BATF Agent

Guest Star

Mitch Pileggi

Mitch Pileggi

Assistant Director Walter Skinner

Recurring Role

Doug Abrahams

Doug Abrahams


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • In the opening scene, Mulder is reciting from Robert Browning's poem called "Paracelsus". The section Mulder quotes is from Part I - Paracelsus Aspires.

    • The penultimate scene features a team of BATF agents raiding the religious compound, only to find that everyone inside has committed mass suicide, is a reference to the Waco Siege.

    • Goof: When Mulder gives Melissa the picture from the Civil War he is caressing her hand. When her husband barges through the door the camera shows the shot with Mulder and Melissa with his hand on the tape recorder. When it cuts back to the previous shot he is still touching her hand.

    • Maybe they thought most people wouldn't know what they were talking about so they made it bunkers?

    • When Melissa starts channeling the person from the Civil War she says that they hid out in bunkers for protection; but during the Civil War they weren't called bunkers yet, they were called shelters or bombproofs.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Mulder: You saw it. You heard it. Why can't you feel it?

    • Mulder: times I almost dream
      I, too, have spent a life the sages' way,
      And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
      I perished in an arrogant self-reliance
      Ages ago; and in that act, a prayer
      For one more chance went up so earnest, so
      Instinct with better light let in by death,
      That life was blotted out-not so completely
      But scattered wrecks enough of it remain,
      Dim memories, as now, when once more seems
      The goal in sight again...

      Robert Browning

    • Melissa: I don't believe in it.
      Mulder: Why?
      Melissa: Those tapes are saying that we chose the lives we live before we're born, and who we live with. It's a nice idea. It's a beautiful idea. I want to believe. And if I knew it were true, I'd want to start over. I'd want to end this pointless life.
      Mulder: Sarah... if it were true... no life would be pointless.

    • Mulder: Dana, if um, early in the four years we've been working together an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that we'd been friends together -- in other lifetimes -- always... would it have changed some of the ways we've looked at one another?
      Scully: Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn't change a day. Well, except maybe that Flukeman thing... I could have lived without that just fine.

    • Melissa: Twenty-sixth of November, 1863. I was here. (To Mulder) As were you. This is the field where I watched you die.

  • NOTES (6)

    • Parts of the set were reused in "Tunguska." You can see the same distinctive leaded window in Marita Covarrubias's apartment. Interesting because the window was so prominently featured.

    • Two personalities of Melissa were cut due to time constraints.

    • Michael Massee co-starred with David Duchovny in the 1997 movie Playing God.

    • Vernon Ephesian's name combines real-life cult leader David Koresh's real first name, Vernon, and the title of a book of the Bible.

    • Kristen Cloke, playing Melissa Ephesian, is the wife of Glen Morgan, co-writer of this episode. She would later play the recurring role of Lara Means on Millennium and star as Capt. Shane Vansen in Space: Above and Beyond, the show Glen Morgan and James Wong left The X-Files in the third season to create.

    • Mulder and Melissa's Civil War personas Sullivan Biddle and Sarah Kavanaugh were taken from real life Civil War soldier Sullivan Ballou who wrote a now-famous (and very moving) letter to his wife, Sarah, in which he assured her that his love for her was 'deathless' and that even though he might be killed in the war, he would always be with her, he would wait for her, and that 'we shall meet again'. One week after writing the letter, Sullivan Ballou was killed in the First Battle of Bull Run. Although his references probably refer to being together in heaven, they can also be interpreted as meeting in another life, much like the X-Files episode.


    • Mulder: Sometimes I remember...

      The words Mulder pronounces at the end belong to Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem "Prometheus Unbound."