Mulder reviews the Schiff’s death with Scully. He notes that the skeletons were found three days after they disappeared from the motel. Scully hypothesizes that the Schiff’s fell victim to a ritualistic killer, one who placed the bodies in acid and stripped away the flesh, leaving behind only bone. As the bodies were found in the Brown Mountain region of North Carolina, Mulder suspects a connection between the deaths and strange, unexplained lights that have been seen on the peak of the mountain for some seven hundred years. Scully wonders why her partner won’t-just once-accept the simplest explanation. Mulder reminds her that ninety-nine percent of the time, his theories have proven correct.
The agents travel to Asheville, North Carolina, where they observe the Schiff’s skeletal remains. Scully asks the coroner about a strange, gooey substance clinging to the bones. The coroner believes the substance is an organic material from the swampy area where the remains were discovered. Mulder leaves Scully at the morgue and travels to the wilderness area for further investigation. As Mulder’s vehicle traverses the field, the tires crush some puffball mushrooms, which emit some small spores. Moments after exiting the SUV, Mulder notices Walter Schiff, very much alive, in the distance. Schiff runs off. Mulder follows him into a cave, and soon loses sight of him. When Mulder turns around, the mouth of the cave has vanished, and in its place is solid granite. Confused, Mulder looks about for the exit. A lab analysis reveals that the gooey substance found on the Schiff’s bones is the digestive secretion of a plant. Scully borrows the coroner’s truck and sets off to find Mulder. As she traverses the field, she steps upon the mushrooms, which emit more spores. Meanwhile, as Mulder searches for the cave exit, he again encounters Wallace. He claims that the skeletons are fakes, and were planted in the field by an alien race. A short time later, Wallace points out the cave entrance, which moments earlier had been solid rock. Suddenly, a beam of light blasts through the entrance. Certain the light is emanating from the aliens, Wallace runs off into the cave. Mulder follows. In reality, the source of the light beam is the tiny flashlight in Scully’s hand. Scully calls out to her partner, but receives no reply. Mulder and Wallace happen upon Angie, her body lying on the stone floor of the cave. She claims to have been abducted by aliens and subjected to tests. Shortly thereafter, the blinding light returns. This time, Mulder heads into the light.
Meanwhile, Scully makes her way to Mulder’s apartment. Upon finding her disheveled partner inside, she demands an explanation for why he deserted her in North Carolina. Mulder introduces Scully to Wallace and Angela. He tells her that he has finally discovered “the truth” he has been searching for. He then leads Scully into his bedroom, where a small gray alien sits in the darkness. Scully congratulates her partner for being right about everything all along. Mulder reacts with surprise. He cannot believe that Scully is accepting his conclusions. Moments later, Mulder watches as Scully melts away. In reality, Mulder is not in the apartment, but in some dark place, dreaming in a comatose state.
Scully returns to the cave, this time in the company of the coroner, who is familiar with the wooded area. They discover a human skeleton, which is presumed to be Mulder’s. Dental x-rays confirm the worst. Scully believes that Mulder may have fallen victim to the digestive secretion. She makes her way to Mulder’s apartment, where mourners have gathered to pay their respects. The Lone Gunmen promise Scully they will find the man responsible for the ritualistic murder. Scully stares at them, exasperated. She insists that murder is not the “obvious answer” behind Mulder’s death. Scully demands to know where Mulder has gone. With that, Mulder shows up at the front door. Mulder informs Scully that he was abducted by aliens and teleported to his apartment. Scully points out the illogic to this scenario. She concludes that they are both experiencing some sort of hallucination, perhaps triggered by wild mushrooms growing in the North Carolina field. She fears they are both, in reality, trapped underground, being digested. With that, Mulder regains consciousness and pulls himself from the wet earth. He then rescues Scully from her nearby cocoon. The agents meet with Skinner to discuss the case. He notes that “it is a rare day” when both agents sign off on the same report. This observation troubles Mulder. He wonders how he and Scully were able to will their way to consciousness… and concludes that, in reality, they are still trapped underground. To prove his point, Mulder fires his gun at Skinner. Goo oozes from Skinner’s wounds. Not a moment too soon, the real Skinner locates the agents. Scully and Mulder are placed on stretchers and loaded into an ambulance. Mulder gains enough strength to grab Scully’s hand. Scully squeezes back.
THE X-FILES “FIELD TRIP”
#6X21 Original Air Date: 5/9/99
DAVID DUCHOVNY as Special Agent Fox Mulder
GILLIAN ANDERSON as Special Agent Dana Scully
Tom Braidwood as Frohike
Bruce Harwood as Byers
Dean Haglund as Langly
David Denman as Wallace Schiff
Robyn Lively as Angela Schiff
Jim Beaver as Coroner
FRANK SPOTNITZ & VINCE GILLIGAN & JOHN SHIBAN