The X-Files

Season 6 Episode 19

The Unnatural

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Apr 25, 1999 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
329 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Mulder meets with Agent Arthur Dales' brother (also named Arthur!) and is told a tale of a talented negro baseball player from Roswell, New Mexico in the 1940's who may have been an alien that ran away from his colony because of his love for the game.moreless

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  • The Unnatural

    The Unnatural was another perfectly entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because there was a lot of character and plot development, the story was fun and exciting, and we learn more about the aliens. It was interesting to see a story like this with a few scenes actually showing the alien's true face. I liked the sense of humor in the writing and acting. It was touching to see the white police officer and black baseball player form a bond and friendship. It was hilarious and disturbing to see one of the clan members was an all too familiar alien bounty hunter. I liked the ending with Mulder and Scully on the ball field. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • David Duchovney writes and directs this odd episode about aliens in 1947 and baseball.

    The name of the episode certainly matches the tone of the episode.. this is certainly an odd, unnatural episode of "The X-Files" that Duchovney makes work through his script. The story itself is corny, and with the pen hand of somebody else, it could've failed. But Duchovney has been with the show for long enough by this time to be able to figure out what works and doesn't.

    Most of the episode takes place in 1947, shortly before the alien conspiracy in Roswell. Arthur Dales, the man from the "Agua Mala" episode earlier, returns, although it's not the same Arthur Dales.. it's his brother, also named Arthur Dales. It turns out that this Arthur had an experience with an alien in the past that Mulder wants to look into. Apparently, an African American baseball player named Josh Exley who is rivaling Babe Ruth's home run record, even if it's in minor league play. Dales is hired to defend Exley after his life is threatened. The longer Dales looks after him, the more he realizes that Exley is not normal. In a very strange scene that is incredibly open about the appearance of aliens, Dales sees Exley in his true alien form and freaks out and soon comes to accept him.

    We also get a return visit of that shape shifting alien bounty hunter from all the way back in Season 1 or 2.. he keeps reappearing, and I don't really get why he keeps showing up so randomly, but I'll go along with it. The thing I had a problem with in this episode is the fact that we never truly learn whether or not Exley is an alien. Dales, in the future, tells Mulder about some bull involving "metaphorical aliens or men" and it just completely ruins the validity of the story. If this is something that really happened, then I feel like the show ruined its little conspiracy myth-arc by actually showing the aliens so much. In the episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," the alien appearances were so insane that it didn't feel real. Every other time we've seen aliens on the show, it's been fuzzy views of them, never as clear as it was in this episode. It really makes me wonder whether or not it actually happened, and we probably won't really know.

    But the episode comes to a satisfying close, with Mulder playing baseball with Scully and giving us the most intimate moment in the show since they nearly kissed in the movie. A good episode, definitely impressive considering Duchovney was responsible for it.moreless
  • One for the Shippers

    The Unnatural is a great episode about baseball, written and directed by David Duchovny. I really like this episode. The episode is about a black man who is one of the baseball legends of the 40s playing for Roswell's local team The Roswell Grays. Agent Mulder is investigating the disappearance of Josh Exeley because of a newpaper picture he finds with Exely, the alien bounty hunter, and Arthur Dales. He goes to visit Arthur Dales but instead encounters Arthur's brother, Arthur Dales. The episode turns into a baseball tall tale except Exely is an alien who just wants to play baseball. I love some of the dialog between Mulder and Arthur and the story is very lighthearted with a carefree atmosphere that encaptures what the game of baseball really represents. The ending is somewhat bittersweet as the main character dies however he dies happy because he has turned into what he always pretended to be, a carfree human. The how and why of all this is not the point of the story as Arthur tells Mulder. It is simply meant to be a good story that makes you appreciate the simple things in life that we take for granted. I love the final scene with Mulder teaching Scully how to hit a baseball although I can't imagine how she could grow up as a tomboy and never have hit a baseball. I also am interested in just how much Scully and Mulder flirt in this episode. First with the ice cream cone and then Scully calling Mulder a rebel and finally this final scene. Good fun episode. 9 out of 10.moreless
  • This episode is just a joy to watch and a daring episode overall in terms of the subject matter that it covers.

    This is one of my all time favorite episodes. It never fails to make me laugh and feel for the characters everytime that I see it. David Duchovny did a very good job in terms of directing it. It was very tastefully done, and it balances both seriousness and humor well.

    This story is a more Mulder-focused one, unlike Milagro, the previous one -- which was a more Scully-focused one. In the end, both of them showed how much

    each character grew and changed and learned more about themselves.

    At the beginning of this episode - it starts out as usual... with both Mulder and Scully at the FBI... some flirting ensues (I just love this) and Mulder comes across an article about a famous baseball player and he takes an interest in it. And that's where things take a turn... he goes over to the apartment where the cop who protected the baseball player lived.

    The old man (Arthur Dales) tells Mulder the story about how he met Exley (the baseball player/alien) and made friends with him. In the end, Mulder learned how to be more patient and to go after what he wants before it is too late -- and to just enjoy life.

    The end of this episode is my favorite part of it overall... Just seeing the both of them having fun together is so worthwhile. It's just electric and enjoyable - the flirting and bantering that takes place here, shows just how close they had become by then.

    Overall, I recommend this episode to anyone who loves the sport of baseball and who likes to enjoy television.moreless
  • First I thought "What a weird episode" but as it continued I began to enjoy it more and more.

    First I thought "What a weird episode" but as it continued I began to enjoy it more and more.

    It was a typical X-files episode with the Aliens, bountyhunter and all, but still, it was told through the eyes of another character, another believer.

    I missed one thing in this episode though, the comments of Scully on the story, I'm sure she would have had a lot of comments.

    At the end of the episode there was a special moment between Scully and Mulder, you could see that clearly thanks to the different shots and the fade out.

    David Duchovny did a great job writing and directing it.moreless
Jesse L. Martin

Jesse L. Martin

Josh Exley

Guest Star

Fredric Lehne

Fredric Lehne

Young Arthur Dales

Guest Star

Lou Beatty Jr.

Lou Beatty Jr.


Guest Star

Brian Thompson

Brian Thompson

Bounty Hunter

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • The baseball scenes in the episode were filmed at Jay Littleton Ballpark in Ontario, California.

    • The name of the Black baseball team at the beginning of the episode is the "Grays", an obvious reference to the alien nickname.

      Also X's name is Josh, which references Josh Gibson who is the all time Negro-League Homerun King. Gibson played for the Homestead Grays.

    • The "Cozy Cactus" sign should have been reversed in the bus window, since it was a reflection.

    • It seemed strange that Mulder was surprised not to find the Arthur Dales he knew at his apartment when in 'Agua Mala' we (and Mulder) learned that he had moved to Florida.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Scully: Mulder, can I ask you a personal question?
      Mulder: Of course not.
      Scully: Did your mother ever tell you to go outside and play?

    • (Scully opens a paper bag and pulls out an ice cream cone)
      Mulder: Did you bring enough ice cream to share with the rest of the class?
      Scully: It's not ice cream. It's a non-fat toffuti rice dreamsicle.
      Mulder: (Groans) I bet the air in my mouth tastes better than that. You sure know how to live it up, Scully.

    • Dales: Do you believe that that passion can change your very nature? Can make you shape-shift from a man into something other than a man?
      Mulder: (Leans in and asks quietly) What exactly did your brother tell you about me?

    • Dales: Of course you don't care about the baseball, Mr. Mulder. You only bothered my brother about the important things... like government conspiracies and alien bounty hunters and the truth, with a capital "T."
      Mulder: Wait a minute, I like baseball.
      Dales: You like baseball, huh? How many home runs did Mickey Mantle hit?
      Mulder: (Thinks) A hundred and sixty three.
      (Dales scoffs and moves to close the door, but Mulder pushes it open again)
      Mulder: Righty. 373 lefty, 536 total.

    • (Dales and Mulder meet for the first time)
      Dales: What in hell took you so long?
      Mulder: I'm sorry sir, I'm looking for Arthur Dales.
      Dales: I'm Arthur Dales.
      Mulder: No, you're not.
      Dales: Don't be a wiseass, son.
      Mulder: No, I'm-I'm sorry sir. I know Arthur Dales, and you're not Arthur Dales.
      Dales: Arthur Dales is my brother. My name also happens to be Arthur Dales. It's the same name, different guy. The other Arthur, he moved to Florida, the lucky bastard. Our parents weren't exactly big in the imagination department when it came to names. If it'll help you wrapping your little head around this stupefying mystery, Agent Mulder.. We have a sister named Arthur too. And a goldfish.
      Mulder: How do you know my name?
      Dales: My brother told me all about you. He said you were the biggest jackass in the bureau since he retired. Yeah we're big fans. Sometimes we'd stay awake for hours at night, just talking about you. Just fascinating. Now unless you're hiding some chinese food, let's call it a day. (Slams door shut in Mulder's face)

    • [A ball comes to them and they hit it. It goes way foul.]
      Mulder: Ooh! That's good. All right, what you may find is you concentrate on hitting that little ball... The rest of the world just fades away-- all your everyday, nagging concerns.
      [Scully giggles. They hit the ball again.]
      Mulder: The ticking of your biological clock.
      [Another hit.]
      Mulder: How you probably couldn't afford that nice, new suede coat on a G-Woman's salary.
      [Another hit.]
      Mulder: How you threw away a promising career in medicine … to hunt aliens with a crackpot, albeit brilliant, partner... Getting into the heart of a global conspiracy. Your obscenely overdue triple-X bill. Oh, I... I'm sorry, Scully. Those last two problems are mine, not yours.
      [Another hit.]
      Scully: Shut up, Mulder. I'm playing baseball.

    • Mulder: Mr. Dales, if you and your brother have really known about this bounty hunter and plans for colonization for the last 50 years, why the hell wouldn't you have told anybody?
      Dales: Nobody'd believe me.
      Mulder: I would have believed you.
      Dales: You weren't... ripe.
      Mulder: (Incredulously) Not ripe? LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING: I have been ripe for years. I am way past ripe! I'm so ripe I'm rotten!

    • Mulder: It's not a bad piece of ash Scully... the bat, I'm talking about the bat

    • Scully: Mulder, this is a needle in a haystack. These poor souls have been dead for 50 years. Let them rest in peace. Let sleeping dogs lie.
      Mulder: Well I won't sit idly by while you hurl cliches at me, preparation is the father of inspiration.
      Scully: Necessity is the mother of invention.
      Mulder: The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
      Scully: Eat, sleep and be merry for tomorrow we die.
      Mulder: I scream, you scream, we all scream for nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicle.

    • Mulder: Okay, so was Ex a man who was metaphorically an alien or an alien who was metaphorically a man or a something in between that was literally an alien-human hybrid?
      (Arthur Dales frowns, then hands Mulder a pint of liquor.)
      Mulder: It's official. I am a horse's ass.

    • Dales: You're just dying to connect the dots aren't you, son? Look, I give you some wood and I ask you for a cabinet. You build me a cathedral. I don't want a cathedral. I like where I live. I just want a place to put my TV. Understand my drift?

    • Mulder: I'm reading the box scores, Scully. You'd like it. It's like the Pythagorean Theorem for jocks. It distills all the chaos and action of any game in the history of all baseball games into one tiny, perfect, rectangular sequence of numbers. I can look at this box and I can recreate exactly what happened on some sunny summer day back in 1947. It's like the numbers talk to me, they comfort me. They tell me that even though lots of things can change some things do remain the same. It's . . .
      Scully: Boring.

    • Scully: Mulder, it is such a gorgeous day outside. Have you ever entertained the idea of trying to find life on this planet?
      Mulder: I have seen the life on this planet, Scully, and that is exactly why I am looking elsewhere.

  • NOTES (8)

    • "Ex" is played by Jesse L. Martin, the original Broadway cast member of RENT in the role of Collins. Perhaps knowing this is what prompted David Duchovny to allow Martin a small scene where he sings with that "beautiful voice" of his.

    • Although budget problems initially prevented Vin Scully from being hired as the baseball announcer, the famed sportscaster - who is the original inspiration for the name of Gillian Anderson's character - agreed to meet an X-Files sound crew in his Dodger Stadium broadcast booth and record the part for free.

    • David Duchovny's older brother, Daniel Duchovny, plays the role of bench jockey Piney.

    • This episode marks David Duchovny's writing and directorial debut.

    • The Coach's jersey identifies his name as "Shiban", for producer John Shiban.

    • Although the above is correct, Mr McGavin did reprise his role in this episode, at least for 2 scenes. The Season 6 DVD features 2 alternate takes for scenes shot in the episode with Darren McGavin. Scene one is the scene in the kitchen where Mulder asks if the great glories of the past were aliens and the 2nd scene was one of the last in the episode, when Mulder says goodbye to Arthur Dales. Such a shame that he was unable to complete the episode. Great actor, great performance.

    • Due to Darren McGavin's unfortunate illness he could not reprise his role as Arthur Dales, so the script was re-written with the key storyteller being his brother Arthur!

    • Significant of an episode about baseball, the tagline for this episode changes to 'In The Big Inning'.


    • Scully: So, I get this message on my answering machine marked "urgent", from one Fox Mantle.....

      This is an allusion to Mickey Mantle. Mantle played for the New York Yankees for 18 years and has been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

    • Arthur Dales: Speaking metaphorically is for young men like you, Agent MacGyver.

      This is a reference to the 80's TV series MacGyver starring Richard Dean Anderson as the extremely resourceful secret agent Angus MacGyver.

    • Mulder: ET steal home, ET steal home.
      Said to Dales regarding the possible alien baseball player. An obvious allusion to the Steven Spielberg film ET: the Extra Terrestrial,made in 1982, in which one of the most famous film phrases 'ET phone home' was used. 'Steal home' is a baseball term, hence the pun.

    • The Title: The Unnatural
      The title of this episode makes reference to the title of a novel by 20th-century American writer Bernard Malamud: The Natural which is also baseball. The book was made into a film starring Robert Redford and Glen Close.

    • Name: Josh Exley
      The baseball loving alien Josh Exley was modeled on Josh Gibson (whose jersey Mulder was wearing at the end of the episode) who played for the real-life Homestead Grays. Gibson was one of the greatest batters ever, and if he had been allowed to play in the major leagues he would probably hold the home run record.