20 September 2007

Season 7: Brand X (7X19)

Written by: Steven Maeda and Greg Walker
Directed by: Kim Manners

Mulder and Scully are called to Winston-Salem, North Carolina after the Federal Witness that Assistant Director Skinner was in charge of protecting, is found dead on his bathroom floor, his mouth eaten away. The witness, Dr Scobie was due to testify to the Grand Jury about a conspiracy at the Morley Tobacco Company. While Scully performs the autopsy, Mulder joins AD Skinner as they meet with Dr Scobie's colleague, Dr Voss.

But he is surrounded by company lawyers and unable to answer any questions. Mulder shows Dr Voss, a small insect found at Dr Scobie's house, which he identifies as a Tobacco beetle. Later, as Dr Voss arrives home, he is confronted by a man, Daryl Weaver, who claims to have had an arrangement with Dr Scobie, Dr Voss is wary of him, but hands over some cigarettes.

Scully's autopsy reveals that Dr Scobie's injuries were as a result of something attacking his respiratory system, Mulder theories that the Tobacco beetle he found could be the culprit, judging by Dr Voss's reaction at the meeting. Both Scully and AD Skinner are sceptical, however when a second man is found dead in the same manner as Dr Scobie, Tobacco beetles are found at the scene which seems to support Mulder's theory. Shortly afterwards Mulder is taken sick, as Scully oversees his medical treatment, AD Skinner uncovers Morley Tobacco's secret and tries to track down the one surviving test subject, Daryl Weaver, who holds the key to saving Mulder's life.

Morley is, of course, the cigarette brand our most beloved villain, Mr. CGB Spender aka Cigarette-Smoking Man, is famous for inhaling.

Mulder: Can't blow the whistle with a mouth like that.
Scully: It's almost as if his flesh has been stripped or eaten away. I mean, an assailant could have thrown acid on him.
Mulder: Well, if it was acid in the face he would have screamed bloody murder.
Skinner: We're looking at all possibilities, Agent. We need answers, we don't have a lot of time and we're going up against one of the biggest corporations in America. The Director himself personally instructed me that he wants this case closed as swiftly as possible. I trust I can count on your help. All right, I want you to perform the autopsy. The body's in the county morgue.
Scully: I'll get right on it.
Skinner: Thank you.
Mulder: Huh.
Skinner: What?
Mulder: There's no ashtrays. Dr Scobie and his wife don't smoke?
Skinner: Not that I've witnessed.
Mulder: A tobacco employee that doesn't smoke — Isn't that kind of like a GM executive who drives a Ford? If this was a hit it seems unnecessarily high-profile. It kind of draws attention to itself, don't you think?

Scully: Hypoxemia. The, uh, inability to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream.
Skinner: He choked to death. I mean, this damage — however it was accomplished — someone did do this to him.
Mulder: Well, not necessarily. There weren't any signs of struggle in the room. Maybe no one was ever there.
Skinner: Where are you going with this?
Mulder: Well, that this isn't a homicide. You... examined the body, Scully. Did you... find any of these?
Scully: A bug?
Mulder: Well, it's a, tobacco beetle, yeah.
Scully: I didn't find anything like that, Mulder. Were you expecting me to?
Skinner: Killer bugs? This is what I'm supposed to tell the Director?
Mulder: I don't know but judging from Dr Voss' reaction to this, I think it's the thing we should investigate.

Skinner: How is he?
Scully: They're using a deep-suction technique that's been designed for asthma and cystic fibrosis. And, so far, we're having some luck at clearing his lungs.
Skinner: But...?
Scully: For every one of those things that are in his lung tissue there may be a dozen eggs that have yet to be hatched.
Skinner: Eggs?
Scully: His pulmonary tissue is riddled with them and they're going to hatch. It's just... we're buying time.
Skinner: Well, how did this happen? These eggs — how did they get into his lungs?
Scully: I'm thinking he inhaled them. Well, the tobacco beetle lives out its life cycle on or around the tobacco plant. That's where it lays its eggs. If those genetically-altered beetles that we found did that, then maybe the eggs survived the processing into cigarettes.
Skinner: And been carried into Mulder's lungs as smoke?
Scully: Right — like spores or pollen, somehow small enough to be airborne.
Skinner: But Mulder isn't a smoker, and neither was Scobie.
Scully: Maybe they were around someone who was.

Scully: Hey. Good to be back?
Mulder: Beats the alternative.
Scully: Well, you'll be interested to know that Morley Tobacco has subpoenaed all of our files on the case. They seem extremely interested in your recovery.
Mulder: What about Darryl Weaver?
Scully: He's, uh, well enough to have been moved to the hospital ward at Raleigh Correctional.
Mulder: It was the nicotine itself that was keeping him alive?
Scully: Well, his fingertips were stained yellow with it. He was a four-pack-a-day smoker — far heavier than any of the focus group members who died. You know, nicotine is extremely poisonous. It's actually one of the oldest known insecticides.
Mulder: It's good for killing tobacco beetles.
Scully: Well, once we loaded your system up with enough of it, it acted as a sort of chemotherapy... except it almost stopped your breathing at the same time.
Mulder: That's not all it did. (He holds up an unopened pack of Morley cigarettes) I bought these on the way to work.
Scully: You're not going to start smoking.
Mulder: Well, they say the addiction is stronger than heroin.
Scully: Mulder... (He drops the pack into the garbage bin) Good. Well, Skinner's waiting for us in his office.
Mulder: I'll be right up.
(He watches Scully leave, then looks at the pack of cigarettes lying in the garbage bin)

Episode Number: 157
Season Number: 7
First Aired: Sunday, April 16, 2000
Production Code: 7X19

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