Season 2, Episode 2: “The Host”
Original Airdate: September 23, 1994
This episode is gross, and we need it. We have grown complacent in our tangled conspiracies! In our search for alien life! We have forgotten that The X-Files has another side, another super, super, super disgusting side. And so we turn to the sewer, the place where all manner of things can grow and thrive and who’s to question why (because) or how (radiation). Except who’s going to investigate, with our ‘Files shut down and our agents deskbound? Who on earth would authorize this kind of assignment?
Assistant Director Walter Skinner! Is maybe not as bad as Mulder’s bad attitude has thus far led us to believe. On Skinner’s order, Mulder is pulled off his wiretapping duty to investigate a murder in beautiful Newark, New Jersey. The stiff was found in the sewer, so that’s fun, and awful, and Mulder can’t deal. He interprets the assignment as a smelly slap on the wrist and storms into Skinner’s office to say so. Mr. Skinner, understandably, sets his jaw at Mulder and tells him he’s way out of line. Scully hears about it, possibly because Scully has the whole Bureau bugged. She and Mulder meet and he tells her that he’s thinking of quitting the whole F.B.I. and then they’ll all be sorry. Scully tries to console Mulder by offering to do the sewer-body autopsy. Mulder shrugs like a petulant child, but that’s never stopped Scully before; saying she’ll do the autopsy is a little like handing Mulder a lolly and sending him on his way.
Sewer evil waits for no pouty agent, so while Mulder is feeling bad about himself, a sewer repair fella is attacked by something big and angry. He thinks maybe a boa constrictor, except he’s got this big weird welt on his back and a bad taste in his mouth. Mulder gets to work being super-apathetic about the whole thing, except then he gets call from someone. Someone? Someone. We see a hand and a phone and a partial silhouette and that’s it. It might be Dr. Claw. Dr. Claw tells Mulder that he has a friend at the F.B.I., and I know, that doesn’t sound very Dr. Claw-like. But the call does leave Mulder a little disconcerted, and good. He needs to be.
The autopsy is fun, if by fun I mean midway through the autopsy all of a sudden a tiny flukeworm pokes its disgusting head out of the body and waves hello to Scully. She calls Mulder in to take a look at the tiny worm, and Mulder excitedly (!) asks her if a worm like that could have made the gigantic welt on the repairman’s back, and for a second everything is so delightful! Mulder wondering something crazy, like can a tiny worm get huge and attack people, and Scully invoking truth and science and saying absolutely not. Then the moment passes and everyone is sad again, including the repairman from before, who is at home in his shower, vomiting up one of those flukeworms.
Mulder heads back to picturesque Newark to ask the sewer foreman if he’s ever seen a flukeworm swimming around. The foreman’s like, I work in a sewer? So I’ve seen all sorts of things? And nothing surprises me. Except right about then, something gets caught somewhere in the system, and they bring it to the light: a flukeworm that looks kind of like a man. Flukeman. Awful-looking. Like you wrapped a guy in toilet paper and hosed him down and made his mouth a terrible red circle and put fangs inside. Why would you do that? You are no friend of mine.
With the suspect-thing in custody, Mulder files his report and sits across from Skinner, awaiting a reprimand for how the report is completely insane. Except Skinner says it looks like everything’s in order, and when Mulder pushes him, Skinner acknowledges that the case should have been an X-File. Mulder’s jaw drops and Skinner grumps, “We all take our orders from someone.” And at this point if you were Mulder, what would you think? You’ve had a call from a mysterious someone, telling you that you have a friend. You have your former partner going out of her way to help you with a case that you didn’t even want to take. And you’ve got your boss, who never ever likes to admit when he’s wrong, admitting that things could be better. There’s no question that Mulder has support around him. There is a question as to whether or not he’s able to recognize or accept it.
The Flukeman escapes while being transferred from prison to a psychiatric hospital. He hides in a portable toilet, which is pretty genius for a blood-sucking mutant, as the contents of the portable toilet get toted right back to the sewage treatment plant. Mulder gets another call from Dr. Claw, who urges him to solve this case really really really well, because “reinstatement of the X-Files must be undeniable.” Maybe it’s that that spurs Mulder forward, or maybe it’s just the joy of having a hunch again, but as he heads back to the sewage treatment plant to search for Flukey he almost seems excited. Scully calls to tell him that she thinks the Flukeman is doing all this biting in order to find host bodies and reproduce, which makes the whole thing even more disgusting, and right about then the foreman falls into the sewer and gets attacked. Mulder goes after him, which I guess scares the Flukeman? Because he tries to escape, but Mulder closes a grate on top of him, ending his gross disgusting ew ew ugh life. Don’t worry, though, because you remember the baby worm that the workman tossed up in his shower, well that one is totally still out there. You’re welcome.
In the afterglow, Scully charms Mulder with a theory that the Flukeman might have been created thanks to radiation from Chernobyl, and Mulder gets to look moodily out into the night and wonder how many new species are created every day. He tells her about his mysterious caller and genuinely seems buoyed by the idea that someone, even someone he’s never met, supports the eventual reinstatement of the X-Files. So I guess we owe Flukey that much, we owe him the partial restoration of our Mulder. He’s no good to us when he’s bitter, unquestioning, walking away from a body in a sewer without even taking a look. We need the guy who wants to know everything, even the super-gross stuff.
Next week: “Sleepless”