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The X-Files: Teliko

Case: Four young men go missing in Philadelphia and turn up without any pigmentation.

Destination: Philadelphia, New York

This episode focuses on the classic clash between Mulder’s belief in the supernatural and Scully’s belief and reliance on science as the means to explain the unusual things they investigate. African and African-American men are going missing and then turning up dead with no pigmentation. The X-Files often explores issues that other shows weren’t and sometimes still aren’t willing to address. This episode touched on the differences in investigation of white and black murders, the difficulties of immigrants, particularly in relation to the police and the influence that fear has on our need to hide the truth.

The words 'deceive,' 'inveigle' and 'obfuscate' were used three times over the episode. While 'deceive' is a common word, how many times have you heard the word 'inveigle' in the last week? (It means to influence or convince a person with clever or deceptive words.) What about 'obfuscate,' is that a part of your everyday language? (It means to confuse or hide meaning or to be willfully ambiguous.) Maybe the writers were playing with a dictionary or maybe they needed some new words to describe their ongoing theme. And this theme of hiding the truth seemed laid over this story rather than integral to it. Of course, the man at the ambassador’s office had tried to hide what was happening but this was a little deception, inveigle, obfuscation compared to the grand conspiracies that are part of The X-Files story. Because of this I’m not sure what the point of this episode was other than to have a ‘meta-chat’ about fear and conspiracy and give us a somewhat interesting MoW.

After the previous episode, “Home” which had Mulder and Scully working closely together, this case split them apart again and along already well-established lines. Mulder was convinced there was something more to this case while Scully was relying on her science and a theory of disease. What was interesting about this case was that Mulder actually came to a scientific explanation for the case. Instead of spirits, he posited that the Teliko was the result of evolution in a lost clan of African nomads. Finally, Scully is able to not only save his ass, but also agree with him. It’s important to note that Mulder doesn’t have disdain for science, he just doesn’t think that it can sufficiently explain everything. He is even willing to admit that theories of conspiracy may just be another way of dealing with our fear of the unknown.

In many ways, this was a Scully-centric episode, all the way from the opening shots of her shoes to her saving of Mulder. If I didn’t think she was kick-ass before, her crawling into the air shafts of a condemned building without hesitation would have certainly convinced me. I really enjoyed watching Scully do her thing as a doctor again and her dogged determination to find an explanation for what was happening, even if it was at cross-purposes to Mulder.

Other Thoughts

If I was doing an autopsy on someone I thought had died of a potentially contagious disease, I think I might wear more protective gear.

That also goes for walking into demolition sites that have danger warnings about asbestos.

Great flashlight work in this episode. It is amazing how much today’s sci-fi/horror shows steal from The X-Files (I’m looking at you, Supernatural).

I love Agent Pendrell’s crush on Scully. Mulder had some fun with it.


Dr. Bruin: “It’s my opinion, Dr. Scully, that this investigation should begin and end under a microscope.”

Mulder: “I heard you were down here slicing and dicing. Who’s the lucky stiff?”

Scully: “Not everything is a labyrinth of dark conspiracy and not everybody is plotting to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate.”

Mulder: “Breathe, Agent Pendrell, she’s with a dead man, she’s doing an autopsy.”

Mulder: “Does that tell you anything about anything?”

Covarrubias: “In practical terms, borders are little more than lines on maps.”

Scully: “Death is a health crisis.”

Mulder: “You’d be surprised what I’d believe, sir.”

Mulder: “It's just another way of describing the same truth, right? I mean all new truths begin as heresies and end as superstitions.”

Scully: “It’s okay, Mulder. I’m here.”


  1. Great review, Doc! This is not my favorite episode, but I enjoyed it more than I have in the past. I especially liked Mulder's theory about conspiracies. I thought it was a rare insight into himself.

  2. I love your review, Doc. Thank you. I laughed out loud about your comment on the writers getting a hold of a dictionary. It's not one of my favorite hours of TXF either but as always there are some standout moments... that you named here. :)
    Chris: I agree that it gets better with age, if you will.

  3. How you can have a quotes list that doesn't include 'There's a Michael Jackson joke in here somewhere, but I can't quite find it' is beyond me.

  4. And, actually, I tend to use 'obfuscate' quite a bit! But I'll confess it's been awhile since I've found a use for 'inveigle'. Still -- always good to build that vocabulary!


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