Season 2

2x10 Red Museum

Air date: 09-12-94
Writer: Chris Carter
Director: Win Phelps
Editor: Stephen Mark
Director of Photography: John S. Bartley, C.S.C.
Documented Phenomenon: Walk-ins, 'Purity Control'

Episode summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

The episode opens in Delta Glen, Wisconsin. A woman, Beth Kane, comes home to her two boys. All is normal when she goes to take a shower. She is unaware of the peeping Tom hiding in the wall. The older boy, Gary, gets a phone call and leaves, telling his younger brother he’ll be back in five minutes. However, hours pass and his mother calls the police. The next morning, two police officers find him in a field, half-naked and terrified. They see the phrase “He Is One” written on his back.

Mulder and Scully arrive and meet up with Sheriff Mazeroski. He explains the possibility of “possession” with them. They go to the victim’s home, where he tells them how it seems like something entered his body. After they leave, the sheriff tells them a local vegetarian cult led by Father Odin may be behind it. They arrive at the Church of the Red Museum, the location of the cult. Mulder explains the concept of walk-ins to Scully because that is what the group claims to be.

Mulder and Scully dine at a BBQ restaurant when Mulder notices a young Red Museum member stroll by and get harassed by some local punks. The agents confront them and find out that the lead boy is the sheriff’s son, Rick. One of them notices their guns and the gang leaves.

At first it does seem like there’s a connection, but then Carter throws a curveball by having the agents learn there may be more to the story when it’s discovered that the kids, who claim they are “possessed” themselves, were injected with a serum by the local physician, Dr. Jerrold Larsen. Interestingly enough, Father Odin, the leader of the cult, was kicked out of the American Medical Association, a fact that Mulder and Scully decide to talk to him about. Mulder and Scully confront Father Odin and when he refuses to aid them, they attempt to arrest him before they are confronted by his fellow members.

When the agents arrive in town, a few Red Museum members are staging a protest outside the BBQ restaurant while the townsfolk push back. The sheriff’s son throws a bucket of blood on the members. After it is broken up, Scully notices a man in a truck watching them. He asks them to come with him. They arrive at his farm and after he explains the history of the farm he points to two men injecting something into the cows. He claims they are injecting them with a serum that is making the people angry. After they leave, one of the men leaves as well. As he is going, the Crew-Cut Man pulls in and kills the other.

Later that night, Dr. Larsen and another occupant are trying to fly their plane through a storm but it is hit by lightning and crashes. The next morning, Mulder and Scully are called to investigate and examine his suitcase, which they find is filled with the same serum being injected into the cows.

At the house of one of the victims, Mulder discovers a video camera and tapes behind the bathroom mirror. That night, the sheriff’s son and a friend are drinking beer in his truck when the sheriff’s son steps out to relieve himself. He is attacked by an assailant in the woods. Later, Mulder and Scully trace the film equipment back to the true kidnapper, Gerd Thomas, who was also one of the men injecting the cows. He claims Dr. Larsen was “turning the kids into monsters” with the serum he was injecting them with. The interrogation is interrupted when the agents are sent out to investigate a murder scene: The murder of the sheriff’s son, also with “He Is One” written on his back. As they are leaving, Scully sees the Crew-Cut Man driving off, the same man who killed Deep Throat. Her toxicology reports show that the same serum being injected into the teens is Purity Control, the same substance found in the episode “The Erlenmeyer Flask,” leading Mulder to conjecture that they are being injected with alien DNA.

Mulder has the teens take shelter in the Church of the Red Museum while the agents and local police hunt down the Crew-Cut man. Mulder confronts him at a meat plant as he is trying to burn it down. Mulder comes close to apprehending him, but the murdered teen’s father kills the Crew-Cut Man in a fit of rage. Scully explains how there were no files on the man, the substance inoculated in the cows and children was an unknown substance, and how all the inoculated children came down with a flu-like illness while those in the Red Museum did not, possibly because they were a control group.

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

  • In typical XF fashion, Carter touches upon three conspiracies in one episode: The poisoning of our food, vaccine conspiracy theories, and, with the cult being a control group, the conspiracy of intelligence agencies using cults as a front for projects. Of course, these are all linked to the central conspiracy of the alien colonization. Each plot is merely a front for the larger plot, which I believe aids in proving the intelligence of the episode. – Trevor Tocco
  • Another point that needs to be made is the insidious tactic of the narrative, and how Chris Carter’s brilliance is demonstrated. To the casual viewer, the episode begins as a stand alone, and gradually evolves into the mythology arc, while leaving the viewer disarmed about what to expect. Carter does this without dropping too many obvious narrative road maps–the red herring device employed at several points in the story continues to re-set what to expect. – Matt Allair
  • Despite some possible protestation, I find this to be a significant episode in terms of the mythology. It sets up the role of walk-ins that is connected to the disappearance of Mulder’s sister in a later episode, it ties in to the death of Deep Throat and “The Erlenmeyer Flask” as explained, and finally I sense a hint of the super soldier mytharc later in the series at play here. – Trevor Tocco
  • Another fine example of the dry humor of the show, and especially episodes penned by Chris Carter is the following exchange: Mulder: “According to the literature, Abe Lincoln was a walk-in, and Mikhail Gorbachev, and Charles Colson, Nixon’s advisor.” Scully: “But not Nixon?” Mulder: “No, Not even they wanted to claim Nixon...” – Matt Allair
  • This being The X-Files, we can also expect the symbolic level. Probably the most obvious is Father Odin. As many may know, Odin is one of the head gods in Norse mythology, recently appearing in the big-screen version of Marvel’s Thor. The color of the cult’s uniforms may not make sense, but the red-and-white color scheme may be a reference to the amanita muscaria mushroom, known for its psychedelic properties and used by shamans, particularly in the Germanic tribes, as a ritualistic tool. As Chris Knowles points out on the Secret Sun blog, XF episodes concerning psychedelics were usually followed by (or followed) the mythology episodes, showing a connection between aliens, the shamanic experience, and the gods. – Trevor Tocco
  • The curious aspect of the mythology in the episode has to do with the purpose of “Purity Control”, The Syndicate was in the process of developing and testing a vaccine for the black oil virus. At this point, a viable vaccine hadn’t been developed; thus, one could view the experiments in Delta Glen with the Red Museum cult as a control group and the administering of “Purity Control,” a bacteria of unknown origin, as something done under the auspices of the Syndicate. But that this stage, could it also be under the auspices of the Alien colonists as well? Could the tests have been done to see if humans were susceptible to the physiological changes that the virus leads to- organisms that play host to extra-terrestrial beings? Hard to say, but the experiments probably had duel purposes. – Matt Allair
  • This episode is interesting on a personal level as well, given its role in a synchronicity I had. During a recent trip to Wyoming, I saw quite a bit of ravens up close, but this may not seem like much. But when I watched “Red Museum,” there is a scene where a victim is hallucinating and believes she is being attacked by a crow. Blackbirds were also connected to Odin. The next day, I saw Snow White and the Huntsman. In the movie, Snow White’s guides are two magpies who turned out to be fairies. Some UFO researchers point out parallels between stories of fairies and modern UFO encounters. – Trevor Tocco

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

The episode was originally meant to be a crossover with the CBS show Picket Fences. The idea first came up when Chris Carter discussed it in a parking lot with David E. Kelley, the show’s creator. The crossover would be shot as an episode for each show, with a different point-of-view for each one. Unfortunately, CBS objected to it, but pieces of the crossover can still be seen in “Red Museum”. Despite receiving mixed to negative reviews, is a fascinating episode that might as well be classified as one of the essential episodes. The main trait of this episode that I find fascinating is how in Chris Carter fashion, makes use of cramming three narratives into the episode. First is the central mystery, second is the mythology layer, and third is the symbolic narrative. –Trevor Tocco

Chris Carter and Picket Fences creator David E. Kelly met in a parking lot at Twentieth-Century Fox studios, where they hatched the crossover idea. As noted in an Entertainment Weekly interview, Chris Carter commented: “I wrote the script and showed it to David. And he liked it and decided to continue the story,” after CBS scuttled the idea, the rethought Picket Fences episode, which aired a week after “Red Museum,” December 16, 1994, did have some direct references to The X-Files. In “Away in the Manger,” Jimmy Brock (Tom Skerritt) and his deputies find a dead cow in a truck, its stomach cut open. The medical examiner Carter Pike (Kelly Connell) suspects strange genetic experiments involving cows and injections of alien DNA, based on reports he’d heard from nearby Delta Glen about recent FBI activities. It is later discovered that cows are being used as replacement wombs for women who want to give birth but can’t carry the child to term.*

The location for Clay’s BBQ restaurant was found at Uncle Herbert’s Fish and Chips, on Delta St, Ladner, where the location was dressed up to necessitate the small town look. During filming the crew encountered a noise problem. The production had hired two officers of the Delta Police Department to control traffic. At a certain point, sound mixer, Michael Williamson, asked assistant location manager, Ainslie Wiggs, to investigate the source of loud music. Ainslie and the two officers investigated an apartment building, and after not reaching the building manager, Ainslie followed one officer to the apartment in question and knocked with no answer. Ainslie then left to check on-set duties. She returned to find the door open with one officer entering, and the other climbing up a ladder to a window. The entrances shocked the occupant, who was watching television with their four-year-old. While the noise was loud enough to be in violation of local noise by-laws, the occupant did file a formal complaint, as recounted by Todd Pittson**.

The plane crash offered another set of challenges. A good location was found on the perimeter of Burns Bog, on agricultural land owned by a local farmer. A bark mulch road ran along the back end of this grove, allowing access for lighting cranes and support vehicles. Arrangements were made with the Delta Fire Department’s Prevention unit to accommodate an explosion using naphthalene, gasoline, and black powder to produce the needed hundred-foot fireball. A full fire crew truck with a pumper was on-site during the production. During one of Todd Pittson’s previous location surveys he noticed a small wooden shed at the side of an access road leading into the pasture, only to later find out that the shed was filled with dynamite, several tons in fact, and the stunt was to be executed within three hundred feet of the shed. After two phone calls to the fire department and the other to the explosions company that owned the shed, the location manager was assured that they were perfectly safe. Filming went off without a hitch except the fire crew decided to take the truck off the soft access road, four-wheeling, where it sunk and got stuck. Several weeks later the production team got an invoice from the fire department for the towing costs**.

The episode’s surprise development–the death of the crew-cut man–was controversial. Producer Glen Morgan had commented of his surprise in the cavalier way Carter dispatched him: “I wanted it to be that this guy died [and] they never knew who he was. No name, no serial number, no record. My feeling–and Chris knows this–is that [crew-cut man] should have been better developed. He’s [even] shot off-screen! Geez, this is the guy who killed Deep Throat, and it’s just kind of tossed away.” Lindsey Lee Ginter had commented about his reappearance and his death: “I had the script. I knew I was gonna be wacked at the end of the episode. That was kind of a bummer (laughs). One always hopes that you could have a running role. I don’t know how they would do that with me...[maybe] continually coming back and killing off all their informants [and doing their] ‘wetwork’”*

Paul Sand who played Gerd Thomas is a Tony award-winning Broadway actor. In 1974, he starred in his own CBS series, Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers. Later, Sand became a regular on St. Elsewhere as Dr. Michael Ridley. Born in March, 1935, Paul Sand’s father was a aerospace tool designer and his mother was a writer. At 18, he went to Paris to study mime with Marcel Marceau. In 1959, he was an original member of the Second City troupe in Chicago, along with actors Alan Arkin, Barbara Harris, Bill Mathieu, and Eugene Troobnick. His breakthrough came with playing Mary Tyler Moore’s IRS agent, which lead to her production company producing Friends and Lovers. His television appearances include Bewitched (1966), Fantasy Island, Taxi, Laverne & Shirley, Alice, Murder She Wrote, Trapper John M.D., Magnum, P.I., Who’s The Boss, Quantum Leap, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, Dharma & Greg, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Joan of Arcadia. His feature film work is just as varied: A Great Big Thing, The Great Bank Hoax, The Main Event, Teen Wolf Two, and Adam & Steve.

Mark Rolston who played Richard Odin has observed that Odin “is removed, self-obsessed, and above all, eccentric. I play a lot of bad guys, so the fact that there was a nice twist at the end when, in fact, we aren’t the bad guys, was interesting.”* Mr. Rolston also appeared in Harsh Realm, and appeared as Bud LaPierre in another X-Files episode, “Sein und Zeit.” He took some time settling into a career; as a child he was a ballet dancer, as a teen, a basketball player, and as an adult he tackled acting, touring the United States in a production of Richard III. Mr. Rolston has appeared in two classic genre pictures, Aliens and The Shawshank Redemption. Born in 1959, Baltimore, Maryland, he knew he wanted to be an actor when he was as young as nine, and took his career and studies to Europe to fulfill his dream. His television appearances include Sledge Hammer, Wiseguy, Matlock, Tales from the Crypt, Jake and the Fatman, In the Heat of the Night, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, ER, JAG, Walker: Texas Ranger, Nash Bridges, Dark Angel, NYPD Blue, 24, CSI: NY, Criminal Minds, and Breakout Kings. His other feature film work includes Weeds, Lethal Weapon 2, Prancer, RoboCop 2, Body of Evidence, Scanner Cop, Eraser, Rush Hour, Scorsese’s The Departed, and Saw V and VI.

Steve Eastin who played Sherriff Mazeroskis is another consummate veteran who has appeared in a number of genre projects. His television appearances include Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, CHiPS, St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, MacGyver, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Starman, Life Goes On, Falcon Crest, Equal Justice, Seinfeld, L.A. Law, Picket Fences (just prior to his “Red Museum” appearance), ER, The Commish, Murphy Brown, The Pretender, JAG, Judging Amy, Black Scorpion, NYPD: Blue, Gilmore Girls, NCIS, Dexter, and In Plain Sight. Mr. Eastin has also appeared in a number of notable, classic, or iconic feature films which include The Devil and Max Devlin, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddie’s Revenge, the alien body- jumping thriller The Hidden and it’s sequel, Field of Dreams, Sliver, Con Air, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can, Matchstick Men, The Black Dahlia, and Up In The Air. Additional features include Cloud Dancer, Night Warning, Blood In Blood Out, Robot Wars, Ed, Diplomatic Siege, Peril, and A Man Apart.

* Beyond Mulder and Scully by Andy Mangels, published by Citadel Press © 1998 / Entertainment Weekly, December 9, 1994, “Fences X’d Out,” Richard Natale – X-Files, The British magazine, No 10. March 1996 “Red Museum” author unknown – TV Zone Special No. 21 May 1996, “Beauty and the Beast,” Steven Eramo

** X Marks The Spot: on Location with The X-Files by Louisa Gradnitzer and Todd Pittson, published by Arsenal Pulp Press © 1999

Synopsis and Review: Trevor Tocco
Additional Review and Production Notes: Matt Allair
Page Editor: XScribe

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2x01 Little Green Men
2x02 The Host
2x03 Blood
2x04 Sleepless
2x05 Duane Barry
2x06 Ascension
2x07 3
2x08 One Breath
2x09 Firewalker
2x10 Red Museum
2x11 Excelsis Dei
2x12 Aubrey
2x13 Irresistible
2x14 Die Hand Die Verletzt
2x15 Fresh Bones
2x16 Colony
2x17 End Game
2x18 Fearful Symmetry
2x19 Død Kalm
2x20 Humbug
2x21 The Calusari
2x22 F. Emasculata
2x23 Soft Light
2x24 Our Town
2x25 Anasazi