Air date: 12-16-94
Writer: Paul Brown
Director: Stephen Surjik
Editor: James Coblentz
Director of Photography: John S. Bartley, C.S.C.
Documented Phenomenon: Poltergeists, Psychic Ability, Astral Projection
At the Excelsis Dei Convalescent Home in Worcester, Massachusetts, nurse Michelle Charters arrives at the start of the night shift. She finds two orderlies, Tiernan and Upshaw, watching a boxing match in the staff room. She asks them who's watching the floor, and they tell her that another orderly, Gung Bittouen, is doing it. They also tell her that a patient died that afternoon, and that she'll need to go and change the room. Looking unimpressed, she picks up some clean sheets and leaves.
Nurse Charters goes off do her first round. She finds two of the patients, Hal Arden and Stan Phillips watching the same boxing match in their room. She turns off the TV telling them that the party's over. Hal Arden complains that Gung had said they could watch the rest of the fight but Nurse Charters is unmoved, asking if she looks like Gung to Hal. Hal tells her no, she has a better figure, and gropes her, asking for a sponge bath. She warns him off in a business-like manner and straps his hands down in restraints.
As Nurse Charters leaves the men's room, she bumps into Gung Bittouen, and reminds him that patients aren't supposed to watch TV after 9 o'clock. She then goes down to change the sheets on the bed of the patient who died that afternoon. As she is working, the door of the room closes suddenly, and the bed begins to shake, then slides across the floor of its own accord, slamming in front of the door and trapping her.. Shocked, she goes to the bed and tries to pull it away from the door, but it won't budge. Suddenly, she is lifted by an invisible force and flung down upon the bed. She screams, and tries to get away, but she is flung down again and this time restrained by the wrist straps attached to the bed. She screams for help but outside the room, the corridor is deserted, and nobody can hear her.
In Washington D.C., Mulder enters the basement office to find Scully sitting at his desk watching a video. Scully tells Mulder that the video is of Nurse Michelle Charters, showing her brutal injuries following what she claims was a rape. Scully says that the medical report and Michelle's injuries are consistent with a rape attack, but she goes on to tell Mulder that nobody will believe Nurse Charters' story, because she claims to have been raped by an invisible entity. Mulder says he has X-Files documenting similar stories, and Scully says she knows--she's been there since 6am going through them, but none of them has ever been substantiated. Mulder posits that this is because the victims may have perceived their attackers as invisible in order to cope with the trauma of rape. But Scully says this case is different, because Michelle Charters claims to know who the invisible entity who attacked her was, and she's filed a lawsuit against the federal government.
In Michelle Charters' home, she tells Mulder and Scully that the man who attacked her was Hal Arden, a patient at the Excelsis Dei Home. Mulder asks how she knows it was Hal, and she tells them that Hal had made advances toward her, and said rude things. But the reason she's certain he was her attacker is that she bathed Hal every day, and she knows his smell. Scully is sympathetic, but she tells Nurse Charters that they won't be able to continue the investigation without some kind of evidence. Nurse Charters says she knows this, but she protests that she isn't making her story up, and she isn't repressing the face of her attacker. She says if she could give them something incriminating, she would.
At the Excelsis Dei home, Hal Arden is getting out of his bath as Mulder and Scully question him. He laughs at the suggestion that he could have raped Nurse Charters, pointing out that he's 74 years old, and his plumbing is older than the building. He lifts his towel by way of demonstration. Scully looks away, Mulder looks amused. Scully asks Mr Arden if he ever threatened Nurse Charters, but Hal protests it was harmless, and he was only saying what was on his mind. As Hal is lead out of the bathroom by Gung, Scully asks Mulder what he thinks. Mulder says he thinks the case is a waste of time, just like all the other cases of entity rape. But Scully points out that the crime they are investigating is substantiated; Nurse Charters was attacked.
Outside the Excelsis Dei building, Mulder and Scully speak with Sharon Dawson, the administrator, who tells them all the residents are suffering from late life degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Mulder tells her that they met with Hal Arden earlier, and that he seemed very alert for somebody suffering from Alzheimer's. Scully asks if Hal was receiving special treatment, and Sharon tells her she'll need to speak with Dr Grago, the doctor in charge of the patients' care. She goes on to say that she's very disturbed by Michelle Charters' rape allegations. Scully asks if she is saying she doesn't believe the allegations, and Sharon says there's something she'd like to show them.
From their room, Hal Arden and Stan Phillips watch Mulder and Scully speaking with Sharon Dawson. Stan asks Hal what he told them, and Hal protests that he didn't tell them anything. Stan wants to know why, in that case, Mulder and Scully are still there, but Hal says he doesn't know. Stan warns Hal that he has to be more careful, because if they are found out, it'll all be ruined, and he doesn't want to die in Excelsis Dei. With that, Stan opens a drawer, takes a capsule out, and swallows it. Very interested, Hal asks Stan where he got it, and Stan says 'I know where he keeps them'. Eagerly, Hal asks Stan to give him one, but Stan says Hal can't handle another one. Hal angrily tells Stan that he'll rat him out if he doesn't share.
In the Excelsis Dei office, Sharon Dawson shows Mulder and Scully Nurse Charters' file, documenting three separate insurance claims for accidents on the job. Apparently Nurse Charters has made claims of job-related emotional distress before, but her claims have always been dismissed. Scully says she'd like to review the file, and Mulder asks Sharon if she saw Nurse Charters' injuries after the incident. Sharon says she did, and Mulder asks if she thinks that Michelle staged the attack. Before she can answer though, there is a knock at the door and one of the orderlies says they need help, because Hal Arden's choking to death.
In Hal and Stan's room, Stan berates Hal, saying he warned him he couldn't handle more. Hal's throat begins to constrict and he gasps for air. The orderlies and Sharon Dawson rush in with Mulder and Scully. Scully looks at Hal and tells them that he's in ventricular fibrillation. She tells the orderlies that she needs 75mg of lidocaine and one amp of epinephrine. As an orderly leaves the room she yells after him to bring a defibrillator, because Hal's cyanotic. She urges Hal to stay with them, and begins chest compressions. As the people around the bed look at Hal, Gung Bittouen stands in the doorway watching proceedings, and then slowly walks away.
Outside the hospital, Hal Arden's body is taken away in an ambulance as Mulder and Scully speak with Dr Grago. The doctor tells them that Hal was a part of a trial he was running on an experimental Alzheimer's drug called Depranil, an enzyme inhibitor that increases the amount of acetylcholine in the brain. Scully is surprised, saying she's read about the drug but that she read that the clinical benefits were marginal at best. But Dr Grago says that his patients were proving otherwise, with cognitive abilities well beyond anything that had been reported. He tells them that the improvement in Hal's Alzheimer's was remarkable, and his death is a major setback. Scully asks if they can meet some of the other patients in the test group, and Dr Grago agrees.
Back inside Excelsis Dei, Gung sees Stan taking another capsule. He asks Stan where he got it from and Stan protests that it was Hal's, and he doesn't see why he can't have it now. But Gung tells him that he gives Stan enough already, and that the capsules are their secret. Defiantly, Stan takes the capsule anyway. Gung looks dismayed. He tells Stan that too much is very bad, and he won't let him have any more.
In the patients' recreation room, another patient, Dorothy, is wheeling herself in her wheelchair and chattering merrily. In the doorway, Dr Grago points out his test patients to Mulder and Scully. They watch Leo Kreutzer sitting at a table quietly drawing. Dr Grago tells them that when Leo arrived he could hardly draw a circle but now he is working on an intricate pencil sketch. Dr Grago excuses himself, leaving Mulder and Scully with Leo and Dorothy. Scully asks Leo about the medication Dr Grago is giving to them, and the improvement in his condition. But Leo tells her it isn't the medication that has caused the improvement. Scully asks him what it is then, but before Leo can answer the orderlies arrive to serve dinner, and they rush Leo and Dorothy away, forcibly removing the pencil from Leo's hand. Mulder gets up to leave as Scully looks with interest at Leo's drawing.
Mulder and Scully arrive at the Hotel Hartley in Worcester, Massachusetts, at 6.53 pm. Scully is still holding Leo's drawing, and marvelling that it appears Dr Grago has found not just a treatment but a cure for Alzheimer's. As Mulder is checking them out of the hotel, it suddenly occurs to Scully that there might be a connection between the rape case and the Alzheimer's. She tells Mulder that Dr Grago's treatment produces acetylcholine, and too much cholinergic activity can cause a psychotic state similar to schizophrenia. Mulder still isn't convinced, asking Scully if she thinks Michelle Charters was raped by an invisible 74-year-old schizophrenic. Scully recognises the flaw in her logic, and says that maybe the medication isn't involved after all, and there may be an environmental explanation for what's happening. She tells Mulder that some fungal contaminants have been known to cause delusions and violent behaviour. But Mulder tells her she's looking too hard for something that's not there. He thinks Michelle Charters made up the story to get out of work. But Scully argues that Michelle suffered a subdural haematoma from the blow to her head. She insists that she wants to talk to a few more of the patients, and that they can leave tomorrow.
Back at Excelsis Dei, an orderly is forcing Dorothy to eat her dinner. She tries to refuse and he forces it into her mouth. He gives up and walks out in disgust. In Leo's room, Leo is also refusing his dinner. Gung asks him why he won't eat, and Leo tells him that he and Dorothy need more. Sternly, Gung tells him that what they have is enough, but Leo persists, saying it's not working for him and Dorothy like it works for the others. Gung just says no, and asks Leo to eat his food. He leaves the room, looking concerned. As he leaves, Dorothy enters, and Leo tells her not to worry, Stan has some more hidden away somewhere. Dorothy looks anxious.
Mulder and Scully arrive back at Excelsis Dei to find Stan's daughter waiting outside his room. She's come to take him home. Scully identifies herself, and says they have some questions about Stan's medical treatment. She goes outside with Mulder and Scully, telling them that the improvement in her father's condition has been remarkable. She says that Stan won't talk to her about his treatment though.
In Stan's room Jerry Tiernan, the orderly, is packing Stan's things when Stan suddenly runs from the room. Tiernan chases after him, all the way up to the top of the building. He sees Stan through an open window, climbing up onto the roof, and he climbs out of the window to go after him. Suddenly he is pushed from behind and he falls, hanging onto the edge of the roof and screaming for help. Outside, Mulder hears him and runs inside and up the stairs to the roof, but an invisible entity is slowly prising Tiernan's fingers away from the edge of the roof, until he is only holding on with one hand. Mulder hangs out of the window and tries to reach Jerry but just as he grabs his hand, Jerry falls from the building. On the ground, Scully rushes over, and feels for Jerry's pulse. She looks up at Mulder, telling him with a glance that Jerry is dead.
The next morning, Stan sits on his bed like a child in trouble while Gung changes his sheets. Mulder is watching him appraisingly as Dr Grago enters, saying he heard an orderly fell from a fourth floor window. Mulder points out that he may have been pushed. Dr Grago asks if Stan was involved and Mulder says they're trying to determine that, but that Stan has been present at two deaths in the last 24 hours. But Dr Grago says it's impossible Stan could be responsible as he has a degenerative hip disease. Mulder asks him if he has the post-mortem results on Hal Arden, and Dr Grago says he's expecting it today, and he'll go and check to see if it's arrived. Mulder follows him, after giving Stan another hard stare.
Scully sits with Stan's daughter who is upset that Stan is being questioned. Outside the room, Michelle Charters and Sharon Dawson are arguing. Michelle complains that she has too much work and Sharon tells her that she'll just have to manage. Hearing this Scully excuses herself and goes out into the corridor, just as Michelle walks away from Sharon in disgust. Sharon asks Scully what's going on but before Scully can respond they hear Dorothy crying out from down the hall. Dorothy is in her wheelchair and is exhorting someone or something to get back and stay away from her. Scully and Sharon can't see anyone else there. Sharon tells Dorothy to go back in her room but Dorothy says she can't because 'they're in there'. Scully tells her there's nobody in the room but Dorothy is insistent. Sharon tries to forcibly wheel Dorothy back into the room and Dorothy braces her arms against the doorframe. She resists so hard that Sharon gives up, saying it's just senile dementia. Suddenly we see Scully from Dorothy's point of view, and she is surrounded by ghostly old men in pajamas. Scully excuses herself and walks away down the corridor. Dorothy watches the ghosts following her.
In Dr Grago's office, the doctor shows Mulder Hal's post-mortem results. Mulder asks for the toxicology report, and Dr Grago looks at it, noticing that there is something that shouldn't be there - ibotenic acid. He tells Mulder it's a kind of poison. Just then, Scully enters, and Mulder tells her about the toxicology findings. She looks at the report and tells them this is only a trace amount, but small amounts of ibotenic acid have been known to cause hallucinations, and Dorothy is downstairs suffering from them right now. At that point Nurse Charters knocks on the door, asking them to come quickly. She leads them to the patients' recreation room, where Leo has begun working on a huge mural across one wall. They stare at in astonishment.
Mulder goes looking for Gung down in the basement. He finds a locked room with a shiny new padlock on it. Mulder forces the lock, and finds a room full of mushrooms. In the soil around the mushrooms, he uncovers a human hand. It's the orderly, Upshaw.
Back in Dr Grago's office, Mulder and Scully question Gung. Gung insists he didn't kill Upshaw, but he admits he was growing the mushrooms. He says the mushrooms were medicinal, that in small amounts they helped the patients to feel better. He felt that the patients were ill-treated, forgotten by their families and disrespected by the orderlies. Mulder asks who killed the orderly, but Gung will only say that something has gone wrong, that he has stirred an angry spirit with the mushrooms and dead souls have been awakened.
Gung leads Mulder and Scully down into the basement room where he keeps the capsules of dried mushrooms. When they get there they find the door open, and all the capsules gone. Outside the room Mulder tells Scully that he thinks Gung may be right, that the mushrooms have caused spirits to awaken. Scully says she believes the mushrooms are a poison to the system, and that they killed Hal Arden, but Mulder says this doesn't explain the murders or Michelle Charters' rape.
Upstairs, Stan's daughter finds him taking a fistful of capsules at once. Outside the room Dorothy is yelling at ghosts that only she can see. She hears Leo crying for help and wheels herself down the corridor towards him, with Stan's daughter following her. They get to Leo's room just in time to see him being dragged away by the ghosts, before the door slams in their faces.
Down in the basement, Mulder and Scully hear Nurse Charters in the bathroom upstairs, crying for help. They run to find her, and Mulder arrives in the bathroom just in time to see her being flung across the room by an invisible entity. He enters the room just as Scully arrives, and the door slams shut, trapping him and Michelle Charters in the bathroom. Suddenly all the taps in the room open, and the room begins to fill with water. He yells out to the corridor to Scully to turn off the water main. Outside the room Scully sees water begin to flow under the door. She turns to Sharon Dawson, who has just arrived, and asks her where the main water shut-off is, but Sharon doesn't know. Scully runs off to look for Gung. She finds him and he goes with her to turn off the water, but the valve is stuck. She tells him to find something to force it with.
Scully runs back upstairs towards the bathroom but Stan's daughter stops her, telling her that Stan needs help. On his bed Stan is choking, surrounded by ghosts. Scully runs to get help. She finds Dr Grago still trying to force the bathroom door, and tells him about Stan. Dr Grago runs off to help. He gives Stan an injection of atropine, which stops the choking and makes the ghosts disappear. Back at the bathroom, Scully is still trying the door when it suddenly bursts open from the force of the water, and she and Sharon are pushed back as Mulder and Michelle come pouring through into the corridor. In Stan's room, Stan lies on the bed, calm. His daughter and Dr Grago are with him. Dorothy comes by in her wheelchair, announcing with delight, 'they're gone, they're all gone'.
Night and day pass at Excelsis Dei, as Scully voiceovers that following the unexplained incidents, trace amounts of ibotenic acid have been detected in more than half the residents, although it is disappearing rapidly. We see Leo drawing a simple boat, Dorothy slumped silently in a wheelchair. Scully's report goes on to tell us that Dr Grago has been replaced, and Gung is being repatriated to Malaysia. No efforts are being made to study the mushrooms. The patients at Excelsis Dei have all suffered dramatic relapses in their Alzheimer's. We see Stan staring straight ahead as his daughter sits with him. She gets up to leave, telling him she'll be back next week. He doesn't respond, but his eyes follow her as she leaves the room.
This was the first episode to be directed by a Canadian, Steve Surjik, who offered his services because he was a fan of the show. Chris Carter had his work cut out for him regarding this episode. Paul Brown's ambitious but unfinished script came in two days before filming. Carter had to make changes all the way through the prepping and the initial shooting of the episode. For the flooding sequence, special effects supervisor Dave Gauthier built a large tank and painstakingly dressed it to look like the bathroom in the hospital. It was filled with 3,300 gallons of water. Actress Teryl Rothery has commented about the experience of working with David on Dave Gauthier's rig: "There was a scene where we're submerged in this tank in the bathroom and it's late, and we got punchy. They had heated the water for us, to about 90 degrees, so it was quite warm. I remember the two of us having to hang in this (tank), because we couldn't come out. I don't know how many hours we did hanging in this tub. David would crack lines...let's just say bathroom humor."* Matt Allair / Robin J. England
The location for the Treatment Center was in Riverview, at Westlawn and Crease Clinic, Port Coquitlam. While on a location survey with director Steve Surjik, Location manager Louisa Gradnitzer has commented that Westlawn's history as an insane asylum asserted itself, while venturing up to the second floor, she and the director heard voices and opted to not venture further into the bowels of the building. Actress Teryl Rothery confirmed stories of similar experiences on the set of the Riverview Center when she was interviewed about her experience on the show. "There are rumors, of course, that it's haunted. You hear various stories from the crew. I've shot other things there and the energy in the building is just frightening. I remember this one incident where a producer went to use the restroom, and it's like, eerily quiet, and it's just scary. He opened the restroom door and this whole flood of water came out! There was no leakage, there was no seepage of water under the door!" Ms. Rothery also noted: "I believe when people say they've seen things (that) they've seen a UFO. Absolutely. I don't know if I have my own philosophy or my firm belief. I'm just open to the possibilities."*
Nurse Charters, who is played by Actress Teryl Rothery, in the original draft of the script was originally written as a Lesbian, yet it was decided to drop that element of the character because, as noted by Chris Carter, "It just felt gratuitous at that point." Rothery has commented about the rape scene at the opening of the episode. "(It was) challenging for me because I couldn't play off of anybody. There was nobody there, so I had to create my own stuff. It was me throwing myself and flipping myself on the bed and trying different things. That process was fun. It was fun to really conjure up--as an actress--to have to play off my own stuff and my own imagination. I had a great time doing it. They had crew down below the bed, and they actually had a vibrator on the bed. They had wire that you couldn't see, and some guy down (below), pulling the bed. The vibration of the bed and the movement--I blocked out all of the other things and I was so in the moment. That was frightening!"*
Considering the fact that the rape scene could not be too graphic, there were several techniques required to illustrate what happened. Actress Teryl Rothery explained, "They didn't have the clothes ripping. What they had was the Velcro wrist bands that are on the hospital beds. I moved my arms back, and the bands snapped closed on my wrists." She further has explained that in order to get the effect, the scene was shot in reserve. The actress began in the sequence with her hands in the wrist bands using fishing line. Another part of the scene would have had the actress levitate. "I was going to get fitted with this body cast thing, to help levitate me. But time wouldn't permit it, so we weren't able to do that."*
Actress Teryl Rothery has built up a broad range of work. A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, she began her career as a dancer at age thirteen when she appeared in her first musical, Bye Bye Birdie. Eventually, her role in Annie Get Your Gun earned her a Most outstanding Performer with her theatre company. Since then she has received three Leo Award nominations for her work for the drama, Coffee Diva, and the series The Collector and Stargate SG-1. She has primarily worked in television, with her most notable feature film appearance being Best In Show. Her television career started with a great deal of voiceover work in the late 80s on such projects as Dragon Ball, Project A-Ko and The Rama ½ series. Her television work includes recent recurring roles in The Guard, Kyle XY, as well as playing Dr. Janet Fraiser in Stargate SG-1. Other appearances include Eureka, Supernatural, Psych, The Dead Zone, Smallville, Gadget and the Gadgetinis, The Chris Isaak Show, Da Vinci's Inquest, The Outer Limits, The Commish, M.A.N.T.I.S., and Cobra.
Sab Shimono who plays Gung Bituen has established a long career in television, film, and commercials. He was born in Sacramento, and attended the University of California, Berkeley. In 1984 he won a CLIO for best actor in a commercial. Mr. Shimono has appeared on Broadway in such productions as Mame and Pacific Overtures, and has acted and directed numerous stage productions ranging from Shakespeare to Improvisational comedy. His feature film work includes the upcoming Zero Option, Southland Tales, Paradise Road, The Shadow, 3 Ninjas Kick Back, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Presumed Innocent, Blind Date, Gung Ho, Rabbit Test, and Midway. He has also done extensive voiceover work, which includes reoccurring appearances in Avatar:The Last Airbender (2006), Jackie Chan's Adventures, and Samurai Jack. His television appearances include Two and a Half Men, The Simpson's, ER, Seinfeld, Newhart, Knots Landing, Remington Steele, Street Hawk, Knight Rider, Hart to Hart, Cagney & Lacey, Quincy M.E., M*A*S*H, and Baa Baa Black Sheep.
Actress Frances Bay who plays Dorothy is a veteran of film and television since the late 70s, when she made her debut at 60 in the comedy Foul Play (1979). She was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Miss Bay has also acted off-broadway stage productions and regional theatre, and these plays include Finnegan's Wake, Grease, Uncommon Women, and The Pleasure of his Company. Miss Bay has won two DramaLogue Awards, and has been nominated for a Los Angeles Dramatic critic's award. Her feature film work has included Bare Knuckles, The Wedding Planner, Inspector Gadget, Happy Gilmore, In The Mouth of Madness, Single White Female, her role as Mrs. Tremond in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Arachnophobia, Wild At Heart, The Karate Kid III, Twins, Blue Velvet, and The Attic. Her television appearances include Hannah Montana, Charmed, ER, The Hughleys, Da Vinci's Inquest, Seinfeld, Clueless, Diagnosis Murder, Murder: She Wrote, The Commish, Life Goes On, Twin Peaks, Matlock, Newhart, The Golden Girls, St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, Cheers, Amazing Stories, The Jeffersons, and Hart to Hart. Unfortunately in 2002, she was involved in an auto accident that resulted in having a part of her right leg amputated, resulting in the use of a prosthetic leg. That year also saw the unfortunate passing of her husband, Charles.
* Quote source: "Beyond Mulder and Scully" by Andy Mangels, © 1998 Citadel Press
Episode synopsis and review: Plattie
Production notes: Matt Allair
Page Editor and additional notes: XScribe
2x01 Little Green Men
2x02 The Host
2x05 Duane Barry
2x08 One Breath
2x10 Red Museum
2x11 Excelsis Dei
2x14 Die Hand Die Verletzt
2x15 Fresh Bones
2x17 End Game
2x18 Fearful Symmetry
2x19 Død Kalm
2x21 The Calusari
2x22 F. Emasculata
2x23 Soft Light
2x24 Our Town