The next morning, she dresses for work but is paralyzed in front of the mirror. She stares at herself as if at an unfamiliar person. Later, she walks down the FBI corridors, lost in those same troubling thoughts, when she enters Mulder’s office. Seeing the group of agents emptying the X-file cabinets wakes her. She is incredulous that they are even attempting to rummage for clues about Mulder’s disappearance. She and Skinner go straight to the person instructing the manhunt – Kersh, newly promoted to the office of Deputy Director. He expects their cooperation as the two primary witnesses in making statements to Agent John Doggett, the leader of the search’s task force. Kersh orders them not to mention anything about aliens because doing so will cost them their jobs. The two walk toward the task force operations office. Although Skinner is reluctant to lie, Scully convinces him that staying in the FBI is the only way to help Mulder. As Scully waits for her inquisition, the agent sitting next to her strikes up a conversation. After admitting that he previously knew Mulder, the agent tries to place doubt in Scully’s mind about her partner and the secret life he hid from her. She figures out that the agent is Doggett, the task force leader himself.
Back at her apartment, Scully examines Doggett’s bio on the FBI intranet. His career is marked with commendations as a Marine and Detective in the New York Police Department. While reading this information, her face is stricken with a funny look. Scully immediately darts for the bathroom to relieve herself of her nausea. While later leaving a phone message for her mother, she hears a clicking noise in the receiver and becomes suspicious when she notices a man watching her from the street. Scully dials Doggett to blame him for the surveillance, but he is confused by her accusations. Noticing the shadow of feet under her door, she grabs her gun to take chase but bumps into her landlord who had just seen Mulder in the building. Scully runs back to her apartment. Although he is not there, she realizes that her computer has been stolen off her desk. She then goes to Mulder’s apartment, which is quiet and empty. His computer is, strangely, also missing. She picks up one of his wrinkled shirts, as if trying to make a connection with Mulder himself, and lies down on his unmade bed, still clutching it. In her melancholy, she closes her eyes. The image of Mulder reappears, but this time he is held in a chair with his head and limbs restrained. His cheeks are pulled taut. A two-pronged metal device telescopes down into each of his nostrils as another spinning drill bit pierces the roof of his upper palate. He fights helplessly against the torture, screaming out in pain.
Skinner, meanwhile, has a nighttime clandestine meeting with the Lone Gunmen under a trio of satellite dishes, to which they are plugged in. They have charted UFO activity across the Pacific Northwest, and while they attempt to pinpoint the spaceship’s course after abducting Mulder, they unfortunately can not determine its next port of call. The next morning, Scully awakes in Mulder’s bed to see Doggett standing over her. She reproaches him for following her, but he has really come there for evidence. He hands over car rental receipts that he found in Mulder’s drawers and asks her where her partner might have been travelling to. Their conversation is interrupted by a call. Mulder has reportedly entered the FBI building the previous night.
Back at the FBI, Doggett’s men question Skinner about Mulder’s passcard entry. The agents open a crate to reveal a Mulder family tombstone. William, Teena and Samantha’s dates are marked. However, a new addition has been added: “FOX MULDER 1961-2000.” Scully is shaken, and stares at the headstone in disbelief and dull grief. Doggett reads from Mulder’s medical records that abnormal brain activity (from #7X04) had been killing him. Mulder was seeing doctors for a year to treat his deteriorating health. Doggett presumes that, with his work and life threatened, Mulder stole the computers and files and then staged his disappearance to cover up his failure in the X-files. When Skinner argues that he witnessed the abduction, Scully begs Doggett not to report Skinner’s tale. In Skinner’s office, the Gunmen’s maps show that the ship may now be in the Arizona desert, but provide no other answers. Langly surmises that perhaps the ship may be looking for the next abductee, and that remark triggers Scully with an idea. Next in line will be Gibson Praise (last seen in #6X01) because the aliens are gathering proof to cover up their existence. In another office at the same time, a folder is slipped under Doggett’s door. Inside is Gibson Praise’s file. Doggett rounds up his crew to revise the search. He thinks that Mulder is after Gibson. The way to find Mulder is to find the boy, last seen in Arizona.
Once again, Mulder lies bound on the exam table. A spinning blade descends into his chest. As he screams, Scully wakes from her nap. She is in a car with Skinner, driving aimlessly through the Arizona desert. They do not see the helicopter fluttering overhead. Inside the chopper, Doggett gets a radio alert from one of his agents that Gibson has been traced to the Flemingtown School for the Deaf. Meanwhile, Scully notices the air tremble in the Arizona heat. Although she thinks she’s imagining it, she doesn’t realize that what she is seeing is real and is the spacecraft. Skinner uncovers that a school for the deaf is nearby and they take off. The principal is notified that the FBI is looking for Gibson. Doggett lands at the school, but Gibson has disappeared. Scully and Skinner arrive, and are startled to see Doggett. She asks him what he is doing there, and Doggett replies, “I’m trying to find Mulder.” Gibson sneaks out the back but is stopped by an unidentified man. Doggett follows the two sets of footprints in the sand, finding the man clutching Gibson. Doggett draws his gun and yells “Let him go!” The man holding Gibson turns around to face Doggett. It is Mulder.
TO BE CONTINUED
Original Air Date: 11/05/00
Written by Chris Carter
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
James Pickens, Jr. as Deputy Director Kersh
Tom Braidwood as Frohike
Dean Haglund as Langly
Bruce Harwood as Byers
Kirk B.R. Woller as Agent Gene Crane
Jeff Gulka as Gibson Praise
Jonathan Palmer as Principal
Marc Gomes as Agent Danny Mosely
Christine Firkins as Thea Sprecher
Marty Zagon as Mr. Coeben
Jo-Ann Dean as Secretary
Dondre Whitfield as Agent