The X-Files

Season 5 Episode 15


Aired Monday 9:00 PM Mar 29, 1998 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
260 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

In 1990 Agent Fox Mulder visits an aging FBI Agent Arthur Dales and listens to a story of the agents assigned to a would-be X-File in the Cold War era of the 1950's and how Mulder's father was connected to a series of strange deaths.

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  • Attack of the secret insects!

    Inspired by 50's monster movies this episode had big schemes and creatures in the mix. Maybe back in the days where we waited a week for each episode to air it wasn't so much of a big deal but marathoning the show, it gets hard to get into episodes right after a myth arc. What I like about this episode is that we get a past story, it eases me back into the flow of the show again. They even one 1uped themselves back going back even further.

    It was a nice change of setting and the story kept me going, lies and secrets run deep in the history of the x file universe. Finally of course in typical but great x files fashion we see the truth unknown to everybody else that Bill Mulder in fact helped Skur. Not is all what is appears to be.

  • Travelers

    Travelers was a great episode of The X-Files. It was fun to watch as this episode took place back in time during Mulder's Father's era. The story was good and had some interesting elements to it. The over all visual aspect of this period piece was cool. The characters were intriguing and full of mystery and the events that occurred were entertaining. A good episode but not one of my favorites, I certainly look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!moreless
  • Mulder hears a story about his father in the past.

    If this episode occured anywhere else in the show, I might've been a bit more intrigued. But this episode comes right after a better than usual two parter myth-arc episode and also comes in a season where we already went into the past to get a view of Mulder before he met Scully. Not only does this completely pull us out of the narrative of the show but it also takes away one of the best parts of the show: the Mulder/Scully interaction.

    This episode mostly takes place back in the 50's, when the X-Files was a name given to files that were unsolved, not cases with supernatural elements to them. Mulder, before he met Scully back in 1990, was a part of the Behavior Unit with the FBI and is intrigued by a man named Edward Skur who, before he died, muttered his name. Mulder learns that Skur as a man wanted for the mysterious murders of many people in the 50's, so he visits an old FBI agent who was responsible for going after Skur.

    What we get is a mysterious episode that takes Mulder's father and plants him square in the middle of an old conspiracy that's connected with the fight to stop communism. It appears that before the government was attempting to make connections with aliens and whatnot, they were trying to stop communism from spreading, even if it meant experimenting with soldiers and inserting odd creatures into them as a means of creating a new weapon.

    The episode certainly had it's fair share of thrills and had plenty of mysterious stuff going on, but it just fell flat on its face due to the fact that we were forced to follow a character we've never met and will never follow again. Mulder was in the episode, but only as an audience member to agent Dales' story. He actually was about as useful as we are to the show: an observer. The episode was just okay, but the followthrough was just lame.moreless
  • Better Red Than Dead

    Season Five stumbles on with this throwaway story that attempts to provide more of the history of Mulder's father. Mulder phones in a brief performance while Scully is completely MIA.

    It's a cut above other mediocre episodes in the series because it IS well done. The costumes and set design really do evoke the 1950s very well. The paranoia of McCarthy-era America is an appropriate and logical backdrop to the storyline. We also get to see just how the X-Files got their start with a somewhat hokey bit about filing problems.

    What sinks this episode is that it's never explained what the heck is going on with the spider thingy implants or what the government hoped to accomplish with the experiments. It all seems so arbitrary and pointless.moreless
  • A solution to production problems

    Overall, an interesting attempt to bring to light some of the history of the conspiracy and Mulder's father's involvement within it. I found a number of things to be distracting however. First, young Mulder is portrayed well by David Duchovny. It must be a challenge, as an actor, to completely wipe the wear and tear of five years of conspiracy and character-building from a canvas and approach the character as something completely new. The few shots of Mulder eagerly soaking up information, new to the FBI, just discovering the X-Files, pre-obsession and pre-ostracization, were amusing and enlightening. The rest of the episode was only mildly interesting. The premise, a gov't cover up to hide the fact that certain military men had been experimented on by grafting alien parts to their human bodies, was really tame and sort of mundane. After all that the X-Files audience has seen, especially in the fifth season, this seems like nothing new and certainly nothing exciting. This episode is worth a viewing, but only when you're in the mood for something slow and not too intense.moreless
Fredric Lehne

Fredric Lehne

Young Arthur Dales

Guest Star

Garret Dillahunt

Garret Dillahunt

Young Edward Skur

Guest Star

Brian Leckner

Brian Leckner

Hayes Michel

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • According to the time stamp, this episode takes place in late June. It seems rather odd that both Agent Dales and Agent Michel would be wearing long winter coats (a brown wool top coat in the case of the former) when the average late June temperature in both DC and Northern Virginia is in the mid-80s.

    • As well as wearing a wedding ring, Mulder is also smoking a cigarette in one scene - another possible clue to his parentage and a tidbit about his life before the series began.

    • 2:32 visible shadow of the boom-mic moving down the wall on the upper to mid left

    • David can be seen wearing his actual wedding ring which is never explained in the series whether he was, as Mulder, ever married or not. See also Unusual Suspects where he also wears his ring. He seems to be making a point in both episodes to show his ring.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Agent Michel: They're not going to find him Artie. Open it up.
      (Agent Dales opens an envelope containing photographs of a dead man in a police cell)
      Agent Dales: It's Skur.
      Agent Michel: Maybe you want to change your description of the suspect who assaulted you.
      Agent Dales: When were these taken?
      Agent Michel: Last night. Two hours before you say Skur attacked you. (Agent Dales looks at Agent Michel in shock) You had a few. You were feeling bad about what happened. It's understandable.
      Agent Dales: I... I didn't have that much to drink.
      Agent Michel: Just leave Skur's name out of your report. Nobody else has to know.
      Agent Dales: I already filed my report, an hour ago.

    • Special Assistant Roy Cohn: We are fighting a powerful enemy in a war of ideology. In any war there are secrets, truths that must be kept from the public in order to serve the greater good.
      Agent Dales: You want me to amend my report? Take out any reference to Edward Skur? I don't understand?
      Special Assistant Roy Cohn: You're not supposed to understand. You're supposed to follow orders.

    • Arthur Dales: (voiceover) I didn't know what I should say to her. 'I'm sorry about your loss, Mrs Skur. If there's anything I can do.' The words sounded hollow. No matter what I said, I was the man who'd busted her husband, turned her life upside down. I sat there for over an hour, trying to find my courage in a bottle. An then... then I saw someone I shouldn't... I couldn't have seen. Now it was my life that would be turned upside down.

    • Dorothy Bahnsen: It's in an X-file.
      Dales: An X-file?
      Dorothy Bahnsen: Yes. Unsolved cases. I file them under "X".
      Dales: Why don't you file them under "U" for "unsolved"?
      Dorothy Bahnsen: That's what I did until I ran out of room. There's plenty of room in the "Xs".
      Dales: Who decides when a case gets an "X"?
      Dorothy Bahnsen: The Director's office. It's...It's kind of a dead end. No one's supposed to see them but it makes for interesting reading.

    • Dales: Do you know what an... X-File is?
      Mulder: It's uh... yeah, it's an unsolved case.
      Dales: No. It's a case that's been designated... unsolved.

  • NOTES (10)

    • In the scene where Dales is being interviewed by Cohn, Cohn's assistant stands at the back of the office and silently observes. He stands in a similar pose and behaves in a similar manner to that of the Cigarette Smoking Man during Scully's initial interview in the pilot episode. The assistant, who is never named in dialogue or in the credits, is definitely an associate of Bill Mulder at the time. Despite the fact that he was not seen smoking in this episode, is it possible that Cohn's assistant was in fact the CSM?

    • The character of Arthur Dales would return a few times during the show's 6th season.

    • Agent Hayes Michel was named after the, then, fiancé of Mary Astadourian, Chris Carter's executive assistant.

    • The song that plays in the German doctor's house was "Lili Marlene", a song popular with soldiers of both sides in World War II.

    • David Fredericks reprises his role as J. Edgar Hoover from "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man".

    • "Fellow Travelers" were Americans who were sympathetic toward the Communist cause during the Cold War, as mentioned in the senate hearing watched by young Agent Dales.

    • J. Edgar Hoover's paranoid rant to Arthur Dales about the Communist menace was taken almost verbatim from a speech given by Senator McCarthy.

    • The absence of Scully and the limited screen time of Mulder were due to David and Gillian doing reshoots for the X-Files movie in LA.

    • McGavin is, indeed, something of a "father" to the X-Files having played intrepid reporter Carl Kolchak in two TV movies and a one season show, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, an acknowledged influence for Chris Carter, when creating The X-Files.

    • Darren McGavin was originally spearheaded by Chris Carter to portray Agent Mulder's father during season 2, but scheduling problems didn't allow it.


    • Name: Arthur Dales
      Not a 'Cultural' reference as such, but writers Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban had a teacher at the American Film Institute named Howard Dimsdale. Dimsdale, who was "black listed" during the McCarthy era, used the pseudonym "Arthur Dales" so he could continue to publish his works. This episode and its main character was a sort-of tribute to him.