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The X-Files: Conduit

Case: The disappearance of Ruby Morris, a “Teen Taken from Tent by Aliens” according to the tabloid headlines.

Destination: Sioux City and Lake Okobogee, Iowa

If you go by the box sets available on DVD, ‘Conduit’ is not considered a mythology episode. My guess is that, even though it features the alien abduction theme, it didn’t make the cut because it doesn’t address the overarching government conspiracy to cover up the existence of aliens. Nonetheless, I’ve always considered it a mythology episode because it deals with the personal fallout associated with the abduction of Mulder’s sister.

The case itself wasn’t all that interesting, especially once it veered off into “teen romance turns into murder” territory. I did think Ruby’s mother and her little brother were mildly compelling, and I certainly felt pretty bad for them when the NSA guys carted them off in squad cars. Plus, the reveal that Kevin’s creepy binary pattern was actually a big picture of Ruby was pretty cool. Darlene also has a nice moment at the end when she chooses to protect her daughter, rather than subject her to the life of ridicule that she herself has experienced. However, my main interest in the case and these characters was based on the reactions they elicited from Mulder.

The parallel to Mulder’s story and the glimpses we got into its continuing emotional toll really were the best parts of this episode. We learned that Mulder initiated an X-File on his missing sister and that she was taken 1972, when she was 8 and Mulder was 12. David Duchovny’s performance in this episode was a wonderfully understated counterpoint to Mulder’s usual hostile, manic behavior on these types of cases. It felt raw and real, and really demonstrated the deep emotional scars that drive Mulder’s personal agenda. I loved the subtle moments like when he gently touched the photograph of young Ruby on the mantle; the deep grief in his eyes when Scully told him she knew why this case was so important to him; and his desperation to know whether Ruby was in the shallow grave in the forest.

I also really liked seeing the closeness of the friendship forming between Mulder and Scully. Their partnership has been pretty firmly established at this point, but in this episode we see Scully trying hard to be a supportive friend by gently coaxing Mulder to admit what’s really driving his interest in the case and by continuing to work with him on it well after she thinks the case is closed. We also get the terrific scene in the car when Mulder is finally able to open up to her about some of the emotional baggage he carries. Great stuff.

Other Thoughts

This episode alternately reminded me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, and NYPD Blue / Law & Order.

The images that were apparently contained in Kevin’s message reminded me of the SETI project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) message sent from Arecibo Observatory in November 1974 (something I wouldn’t even know about if not for this series). The Arecibo message was a binary code sent into space, supposedly as a message to other worlds. It included information on a DNA double helix, a graphic of man, etc. It made me wonder if Kevin was somehow supposed to be tapping in to that message (especially given the events of early Season 2).

The kid playing young Kevin was pretty eerie. So eerie, in fact, the show brings him back in Season 2’s ‘The Calusari’ as a demonically possessed child.

We get our first mention of ‘Danny’ in Washington, when Mulder begs him for help with Kevin’s binary code. I wonder if Mulder ever really got him those Redskins tickets from his “friend of a friend of a friend.” Somehow, I doubt it.

I can’t decide which one looked more out of place in the biker bar, Mulder or Scully.

Even though this episode wasn’t really about the government cover-up of aliens, Mulder and Scully managed to have more run-ins with fellow government agents. I found it pretty funny that Mulder was on the opposite side of the “obstructing justice” equation this time.


Scully: “I just think it’s a good idea not to antagonize local law enforcement.”
Mulder: “Who me? I’m Mr. Congeniality.”
Scully: “You never know. We might need his help one of these days.”
Mulder: “I’ll send him a bundt cake.”

Scully: “Mulder you are disturbing a crime scene. Stop.”
Mulder: “What if it’s her? I need to know.”

Mulder: “You know, when I was a kid I had this ritual. I’d close my eyes before I walked into my room, because I thought that one day when I opened them my sister would be there. Just lying in bed. Like nothing ever happened. You know, I’m still walking into that room. Every day of my life.”

Darlene: “Listen to me. All my life I have been ridiculed for speaking my mind.”
Mulder: “But it was the truth, Darlene.”
Darlene: “The truth has caused me nothing but heartache. I don’t want the same thing for her.”

From Mulder’s hypnotherapy regression tapes on his sister’s abduction ...
Hypnotherapist: “What’s it telling you?”
Mulder: “Not to be afraid. It’s telling me that no harm will come to her. And that one day she’ll return.”
Hypnotherapist: “Do you believe the voice?”
Mulder: “I want to believe.”

Final Analysis: ‘Conduit’ was another episode where the case of the week took a backseat to the main character dynamics. I liked seeing this side of Mulder. It balanced out his driven, compulsive behavior and helped us to better understand the reasons behind his search for The Truth. Overall, this isn’t one of my favorites, but it is certainly worth revisiting.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.


  1. I'm surprised this isn't considered a mythology episode. It always felt that way to me.

    Not one of my favourites, but I am enjoying reliving the beginnings of it all. Amazing how much I had forgotten.

  2. My favorite scene: Mulder asks if certain criteria appear in Ruby's test results that account for weightlessness attributed to being in space, like that of astronauts. The look on Scully's face when she confirms the test results is priceless. It is as though, for the first time, she realizes that Mulder definitely knows what he is talking about and he is not just "Spooky" Mulder.

  3. I love it when Mulder pretends to be a UFO sceptic and says "No I think they're just a bunch of people howlimg at the moon", or some such.

    How slow and pathetic is Mulder and Scully's attempt to catch up to the girl in the library once she runs off?

    Not sure, but is the lake in this episode the same one that Billie mentioned (in Supernatural review for "Dead in the Water") that apparently turns up in lots of shows?

  4. The mother annoyed me at the end, as much as I totally understand the mercy she's giving her daughter by being willfully ignorant/in denial. She's not wrong... truth is pitiless and I guess it is a parent's duty to only let their child seek it out for themselves instead of instilling it into them. It's just so frustrating to me and I can't justify why. I don't want to respect parents who forego the larger responsibility to people at large in favor of their offspring. I hate how it's admired. Getting away with selfishness... or something. It's an ugly sentiment I admit, and don't wish to explore it. Not until I'm as parent myself at least, maybe then I can forgive it.

    @Scott: "The look on Scully's face when she confirms the test results is priceless."
    Yeah lol

    @Unknown: "I love it when Mulder pretends to be a UFO sceptic and says "No I think they're just a bunch of people howlimg at the moon", or some such."
    Yeah lol. What a cool biker though, only retaliating by offering a suggestion to go to a place that might change his mind.


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