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One word: suppurating. Two more words: erupting pustules. This episode is basically an after school special on why your Department of Customs is important, people. And making sure no one else has your name, especially someone if you are in prison. More seriously, this is an excellent but sadly overlooked MOTW episode where Scully does science, with just a whiff of conspiracy thrown in. Thematically related to the season 5 episode, The Pine Bluff Variant.

scully holding a vial containing f emasculata


Writer(s): Chris Carter & Howard Gordon
Director: Rob Bowman
Originally aired: April 28th, 1995

Synopsis: A pharmaceutical company releases a highly infectious, immune-system-destroying parasite via bug (Faciphaga Emasculata) into a prison population. When two of the infected prisoners escape, Mulder and Scully are called in on the manhunt. Scully does science and is maybe possibly infected! There is a huge cover up in which Cancer Man is involved! Skinner makes dire predictions about the future! Some super gross but also fascinating biology happens!

Most Memorable Quote
SCULLY: There'll be a time for the truth, Mulder, but this isn't it.

Links
Red Wolf's review
The AV Club's review
Sarah Stegall's review
Transcript at Inside the X

Fanfiction
There are literally 4 fics at Gossamer, none of which I can, in good conscience, recommend.

Date: 2014-02-15 04:52 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: Dana Scully being a scientist (Science)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
She does look pretty. She behaves in an incomprehensible manner for a physician and a scientist, so that kind of, well, pretty much ruins it for me.

I love watching her do science but 1013 makes it hard to watch when they write her this way. I have a book about science and The X-Files written by the person who did the science "consulting" for them. I'm going to dig that out, read what she said about this episode and post about that here.

My guess is what you or [livejournal.com profile] idella said last night: having characters behave stupidly is in service of the plot. Dramatic license is the technical term. I hate that.

Sorry for the negative energy.

Date: 2014-02-15 01:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] estella-c.livejournal.com
Never liked this, never rewatched, but I recall that it was Scullycentric and Mulderlite. So I guess it belongs. Forgive the negativity. I'm shoveling snow like a madman here.

Date: 2014-02-15 04:57 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: Dana Scully being a scientist (Science)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
You are forgiven. Actually, Mulder is in this episode in equal measure to Scully. I think if you clocked the minutes, he might even have a few more. He gets to be the hero at the end, too, and make ridiculous, predictable speeches to Skinner about "the truth." His usual.

What's good about the episode is Scully is doing science. What's bad is the way they portray her doing it.
Edited Date: 2014-02-15 04:59 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-02-15 02:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maybe-amanda.livejournal.com
One word: gross. Two words: Really gross.

I have always enjoyed this ep (and on rewatch, OMG they were so young! So naive!) and enjoyed it again. Tense, creepy, and really, really gross.

Date: 2014-02-15 04:58 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: (I've got a bad feeling about this)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
It was tense and creepy, and really, really gross. Can't argue with that assessment.

You are really upsetting me...on several levels.

Date: 2014-02-15 07:18 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: (scully fest)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
LJ ate my first comment. Starting over.

One of the things I love most about The X-Files is watching Scully do science. But the poor writing and myriad factual errors in this episode made it impossible for me to enjoy this.

1. The episode begins with a lone scientist poking at a dead pig with huge lesion and pustules on it. I'm supposed to believe that in the presence of obvious massive infection of unknown origin that he is going to keep poking at that pig carcass. He's a biologist for Christ's sake. He would know better. I don't believe he'd be hanging around in the Costa Rican jungle all on his lonesome either.

2. There is no way that you could smuggle a dead infested pig leg from Costa Rica through US customs and get it delivered to a Federal prison via the USPS or Fed Ex or anyone wrapped in nothing but butcher paper. It would be stinking to high heaven for one thing. The prison office in charge of mail wouldn't touch that mess with a ten foot pole for another.

3. No competent scientist who saw other scientists and doctors space-suited in the television version of level four protective gear would put on a pair of goddamned latex gloves and a mask that would provide zero real protection and start poking around in trash looking for medical waste.

4. The space-suits claims that they're from the CDC could be verified with a simple phone call—to the CDC. Hello? Can we put the I back in FBI?

5. There is nothing to be gained from Pinck Pharamceuticals using prisoners in this way. You cannot bypass years of animal and human testing and get a drug on the market like this. They haven't even determine what the possible anticoagulation agent is, let alone proved that it's safe for humans. There is no actual drug! This is not how drug companies do research! The Food and Drug Administration is a real thing! The only thing this would get Pinck is a shit ton of lawsuits. From the families of the deceased prisoners, from the families of anyone who was exposed to the infection, dead or alive, from the bus company, the federal marshals union, and probably from the US government itself. They'd end up in bankruptcy court.

6. The newpapers and television would be all over this story. Of course, that's the logical flaw for the entire series. Also, it doesn't need to be said that the US Marshals are not all idiots.

7. Why were Mulder and Scully assigned this case in the first place? Having the CSM lurking in Skinner's office is an over-used plot device, not an explanation.

8. The only useful information from Anne Simon, PhD, author of The Real Science Behind The X-Files is that pharmaceutical companies really do look for new drugs in rain forests. Well, we already knew that! She has no comment to make on the factual errors in the episode, probably because she is on 1013's payroll.

9. Scully does look pretty.
Edited Date: 2014-02-15 07:19 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: Dana Scully being a scientist (Science)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
Okay, I will. I'm so glad I bought that book used.

Date: 2014-02-16 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tri-sbr.livejournal.com
I'm only a few minutes in so far, and yes, gross. But, more importantly (or something) - hey, that US Marshal just after the opening credits is Hank from Breaking Bad! cool.

Date: 2014-02-16 03:52 am (UTC)
wendelah1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
Yes! Doesn't he play a Fed on Breaking Bad?

Date: 2014-02-16 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badforthefish.livejournal.com
I just realised that! I went "Hey, it's HANK!!!" He looks so young!

ETA: yes, he does play a Fed on BB.

Edited Date: 2014-02-16 12:32 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-02-16 06:17 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: (scully md)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
That's right. The drug kingpin with the brother-in-law who's a DEA agent. LOL.

Date: 2014-02-16 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vjs2259.livejournal.com
Oh man, where to start?

Can I just say that a patient with 81% O2 saturation should be blue?

Was Costa Rica guy an entomologist? If so, why was he poking pustules rather than collecting bugs? Has he never squeezed a zit and seen the results? Why in the world use 6 well plates for bug collection? Those are for tissue culture or maybe bacteria. I did enjoy the hissing cockroaches though.

I don't think that pig leg was meant to come from the CR pig but from farmed vector pigs. From Wichita apparently.

I kept yelling at them to call the CDC, or at least call Skinner and ask him to call. And where were their IDs? Or badges? Don't they need no stinking badges?

The magic of latex. It stops everything. And I could not get over the dust/mist respirator. Good lord. I use a better respirator; those things are useless. They don't stop vapor or organics or much of anything.

Why doesn't anyone cover up those pustules? Like the guys on the run; wouldn't it help to hide them? Or Doc Osborne? Wouldn't that help contain the eruption, protect Scully or anyone else?

I enjoy this episode even with the troubled biology. It's gross but I do like to see the instruments of the profession in use.

And don't those cell phones have great battery life?

Date: 2014-02-16 04:06 am (UTC)
wendelah1: Dana Scully being a scientist (Science)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
Oh man, where to start?

I KNOW!

I don't think that pig leg was meant to come from the CR pig but from farmed vector pigs. From Wichita apparently.

Fair enough but mailing it in butcher paper? How about a nice little styrofoam ice box with cold packs? There is no way that would get shipped anywhere by anyone.

I kept yelling at them to call the CDC, or at least call Skinner and ask him to call. And where were their IDs? Or badges? Don't they need no stinking badges?

Scully was not behaving like a scientist or even a trained investigator. As soon as that guy told her that they weren't the CDC she should have called the CDC. Instead she calls Mulder.

The magic of latex. It stops everything. And I could not get over the dust/mist respirator. Good lord. I use a better respirator; those things are useless. They don't stop vapor or organics or much of anything.

I KNOW!

Why doesn't anyone cover up those pustules? Like the guys on the run; wouldn't it help to hide them? Or Doc Osborne? Wouldn't that help contain the eruption, protect Scully or anyone else?
I didn't even think of that and me a nurse. For shame.

I enjoy this episode even with the troubled biology. It's gross but I do like to see the instruments of the profession in use.

It's good to see Scully doing science. I just wish she was doing it right. I should get my friend who used to work for Big Pharma to comment on this episode.

Date: 2014-02-16 02:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vjs2259.livejournal.com
You would be surprised what can be shipped overnight by FedEx in a nice plastic-lined envelope....although ice packs would have certainly helped.

Hey! Maybe the mailing envelope was a fraud! Maybe it was hand-delivered from a refrigerated truck to the prison mailroom and thence to the prisoner!

Whatever happened to the guards and warden and such? All evacuated? Did they all lose their jobs or was the place decontaminated and put back in use?

Date: 2014-02-16 02:50 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
Hey! Maybe the mailing envelope was a fraud! Maybe it was hand-delivered from a refrigerated truck to the prison mailroom and thence to the prisoner!

LOL. Maybe. It still doesn't explain what was to be gained by doing it in the first place. This scenario would not create the kind of documentation required by the FDA.

Date: 2014-02-16 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vjs2259.livejournal.com
OK! (Have I ever mentioned how much I love playing devil's advocate?)
What if it wasn't a drug they were looking for (Doc Osborne's belief) but a bio-weapon they were testing? Prison populations are typically younger men, often in reasonable shape, in close confinement...like a military base.

I would have thought they could have weaponized it better unless they wanted the plausible deniability of an unkown plague.

Date: 2014-02-16 05:44 am (UTC)
maidenjedi: (what i like)
From: [personal profile] maidenjedi
What I like most about this episode is CSM. At this point, we're still getting to see him, and by extension the Consortium, as about more than just covering up and conspiring with aliens. And Scully making his case for him to Mulder, about why the cover-up is necessary - that's really, really interesting to me.

Good one-off guest appearances in this one, too (Dean Norris, Charles Martin Smith, John Pyper-Ferguson - all solid).

I never had watched this episode, or if I ever have I can't recall, and I'm not sure I really needed to, in the end. It's not the best-written and doesn't have any memorable scenes save for the gross stuff (best not recalled, imho). Scully is also mostly relegated to damsel in distress (a standard in season two, I admit) and her skill set is really hamstrung, and the science/protocol is just bad as laid out above.

Frankly, for my season two Scully fix, I like "Little Green Men" (Scully saves Mulder is always good), and "Humbug" (Gillian's comedic timing is in full bloom). Again, most of her appearances are about her being in distress this season (the Duane Barry arc, "Irresistible"), so it's hard to choose, but at least Gillian Anderson always shone no matter Scully's circumstances.

Edited Date: 2014-02-16 05:45 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-02-16 05:47 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: (Glasses!  On Gillian!)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
And Scully making his case for him to Mulder, about why the cover-up is necessary - that's really, really interesting to me.

Yeah. I hadn't thought of that. That's a good fanfic prompt, actually. A reason for Mulder to become suspicious of her...

Frankly, for my season two Scully fix, I like "Little Green Men" (Scully saves Mulder is always good), and "Humbug" (Gillian's comedic timing is in full bloom).

I like those episodes, too, especially "Little Green Men." Scully saving Mulder, while wearing a giant coat in the tropical heat.

Gillian Anderson is always excellent. Can you imagine what the series would have been like if they'd cast a less talented actor?

Date: 2014-02-16 01:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badforthefish.livejournal.com
I used to love this episode, but it hasn't aged well at all. I don't know, maybe I find the dodgy science and all the errors that you guys mentioned above harder to ignore this time around. Even I know that you shouldn't probe contaminated bodies while just wearing latex gloves and a dust mask. I hate when Scully is made to do stupid things and again as Wen and Vjs2259 have listed above she does quite a few idiotic things in this ep.

And apart from "Hank" I'm sure I've seen that doctor somewhere else too.

I still love that shot of Scully bracing herself before looking into the microscope.

This ep's saving grace is that it gave birth to the infamous "wear the diaphanous teddy" and the "There is a contagion? Baby, I will contage YOU" bloopers.


Date: 2014-02-16 06:15 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: (scully md)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
I still love that shot of Scully bracing herself before looking into the microscope.

Yeah, GA is good no matter how bad the script.

This ep's saving grace is that it gave birth to the infamous "wear the diaphanous teddy" and the "There is a contagion? Baby, I will contage YOU" bloopers.

Links?

Date: 2014-02-16 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badforthefish.livejournal.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZkUF4ZG-Eo

The F-Emasculata segment starts at 6:45.

Don't tell me you've never seen these!

Date: 2014-02-17 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] discordantwords.livejournal.com
I coincidentally just rewatched this the other day (I just finished up Breaking Bad and have been seeking out the actors in their X Files guest stints.)

It's... grosser than I remembered. There's something so awful about those pulsing boils that I couldn't even look at the screen at times, which is saying something since I generally gravitate towards the scary and gross. So, um, props to the makeup department. I think.

The conversation between Mulder, Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking man struck me as odd. Mostly because Mulder was not causing a scene, but instead reporting what he knew much in the way a normal agent might report to his superiors. He's offended and sarcastic, but not much else. Had he not, at this point in the series, already held a gun to the Smoking Man's head?

I also don't usually yell at my television during X Files episodes, because the characters I care about don't usually do dumb things, but this was an exception. STOP PUTTING YOUR FACES NEAR PULSATING BOILS, PEOPLE. STOP.

I liked the infection/medical drama angle, and I liked seeing Scully work that portion on her own, but I wish she'd done it in a smarter way. She essentially got that other doctor killed by opening up the infected body in front of him.

The scene where the gas station attendant is bundled off onto the helicopter was terrifying.

I also really like the shot of Mulder approaching the pay phone. It's all foggy and the sun is either just coming up or just going down, and the light is gorgeous.

I liked the evident trust between Mulder and Scully, too. He's furious about the coverup and wants to go public, she explains why that's a bad idea and he listens. He might not like her answer, but he knows she's on his side.

As an aside, the intro to the movie Cabin Fever totally steals from the intro to F. Emasculata.
Edited Date: 2014-02-17 10:25 pm (UTC)
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