It is present day when Doggett arrives at the Sheriffís Station in Squamash, Pennsylvania to dig up clues about Mulderís disappearance. Sheriff Frey tells him that Mulder had been there the past spring to investigate the disappearance of Marie Hangemuhl, who was later found to have never been absent from her house. Although Mulder left no trace of this investigation in his files, Doggett uncovered cell phone records indicating he had been to the town the week before his abduction. The Sheriff brings Doggett to the Hangemuhl home, where they find a sickly Marie Hangemuhl suffering from kidney failure. She admits to meeting Mulder the previous spring, when he had asked about her disappearance. Her husband, Paul, quickly interjects that nothing out of the ordinary had gone on and that they never saw Mulder again. He claims that Mulder had been interested in an Indian folk legend about a creature from the woods that eats people. When they leave, Doggett mentions to the Sheriff that he spotted patches in the wall of the Hangemuhl house that could be bullet holes.
Returning to Washington, Doggett searches Mulderís apartment. He overturns every drawer and finds a pistol underneath the sink. He later asks Skinner about the mystery case, as well as an unreported three rounds discharged from the gun. Test results show that blood had splattered back, meaning Mulder had fired at close range. Although Skinner tries to defend Mulder and dismiss Doggettís claims, the paperwork proves that Scully had signed off on the falsified report. Doggett pledges that he will not take the situation to a review board, but will investigate further.
Back in Pennsylvania, a lynch mob converges on a rundown house in the woods. Paul Hangemuhl is among them. The leader of the group, Sheriff Frey, demands that ìitî be sent outside. An old woman in the cabin tells the men that ìitî is dead. Suddenly, a side door bursts open and a figure bolts out of the house into the woods. The men chase it, capturing what appears to be a deformed man. ìDonít do this to him!î the woman cries. Later, Doggett and Skinner confront the Sheriff about the body of an unidentified transient found the day after Mulderís visit to the Hangemuhl home. The Sheriff is resistant to their charges, but they discover that the transientís grave has been unearthed. The casket is empty, and it appears that someone dug themselves out of the grave. Doggett becomes even more suspicious of the townspeople.
Paul Hangemuhl is painting the strange symbol on his front door with chickenís blood when the Sheriff arrives, inquiring about Marieís readiness. The deformed creature is taken from a cage and brought into the house, where Marie lies naked on the floor. It unhinges its jaw and rips into her body. She screams, as her husband silently prays in the next room. Doggett and Skinner return to the Hangemuhl home, looking for the missing Marie. Skinner spots a pool of blood seeping from under the couch. Doggett suggests that Mulder had been trying to protect Marie from whoever was buried in that coffin. Meanwhile, in a secret cave, the creature regurgitates a murky liquid into an outline of a human figure dug in the ground.
The remnants of a blood symbol are found on the Hangemuhl home. The Lone Gunmen analyze the symbol, via an internet feed, and tell Doggett and Skinner that it may summon a shaman to the house to aid the sick. Legend has it that a ìsoul eaterî consumes illnesses. Doggett thinks that maybe it was connected to Marieís kidney disease and that maybe there wasnít really a transient buried in that coffin. The agents visit the old woman in the cabin because she had originally found the transientís body. Doggett tells her his theory that Mulder tried to kill the creature to protect Marie Hangemuhl, but the woman says heís got it all backwards. Doggett sees a cellar door in her house and goes down. He finds a fully-formed Marie on the ground, naked, covered in a gooey substance. He wraps her up and takes her to the hospital. She successfully recovers, and her kidneys have spontaneously healed. The ìsoul eaterî actually took her to cure her, and Doggett realizes that Mulder was not trying to protect Marie when he shot at the creature.
Doggett returns to the home of the old woman, and she explains that people do not understand the creatureís gift. It looks deformed because it takes on peopleís sicknesses. Mulder had come to Pennsylvania to try to save himself from his own illness. When he saw the creatureís suffering, he couldnít go through with it. Mulder decided to shoot the creature to take its pain away. It was then buried, but didnít die. The townspeople know it is still alive and want it to help their sick, causing the creature to continue to suffer. Doggett carefully puts the creature in his car when the Sheriff and other townspeople show up. They demand the creature be given back because there are sick people who need to be healed. The Sheriff shoots Doggett in the chest and the creature escapes. The townspeople bury Doggettís dead body and leave. Later, the creature brings Doggett back to life in the cave. He awakes in the human outline, covered in goo. The old woman is tending to the dying creature that took away Doggettís death. ìYou freed it,î she cries.
Back at the FBI, Doggett sits at his computer. Heís at a loss on what to write in his case report. He tells Skinner that heís not any closer to finding Mulder. ìYou got inside his head,î Skinner says, advising him not to write up a report. Doggett, however, wants the truth to be told. ìYou and I both know what happened out there,î the A.D. says. ìNo one else needs to.î As Skinner leaves, Doggett imagines that Mulder is standing in the office, watching him.
Original Air Date: 02/04/01
Written by Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Kim Manners
DAVID DUCHOVNY as Special Agent Fox Mulder
GILLIAN ANDERSON as Special Agent Dana Scully
ROBERT PATRICK as Special Agent John Doggett
Mitch Pileggi as A.D. Walter Skinner
Caroline Lagerfelt as Rustic Woman
Tom Braidwood as Frohike
Dean Haglund as Langly
Bruce Harwood as Byers
Jordan Marder as Creature
Natalie Radford as Marie Hangmuhl
Michael McGrady as Sheriff Kurt Frey
Justin Williams as Paul Hangemuhl