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Recap / The X-Files S01 E14 "Gender Bender"

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Season 1, Episode 14:

Gender Bender
"It was always forbidden, but after the first time I couldn't help myself. Touching a human man, or a woman, is as powerful for me as it was for you."
Written by Larry Barber & Paul Barber
Directed by Rob Bowman

"So what is our profile of the killer? Indeterminate height, weight, sex. Unarmed but extremely attractive."
Dana Scully

Investigating a man who died of an overdose of pheremones, Mulder and Scully are led to a simple living community sect called the Kindred and a killer who can change between male and female forms.


  • Cross-Cast Role: Averted. Rather than have one person play Marty's male and female forms, producers wanted two actors. Kate Twa was hired first, so casting looked for a man who could reasonably resemble her.
  • Crop Circles: After the aliens leave at the end of the episode, Mulder and Scully come across a large crop circle in the field. It's implied it's a print of their spaceship.
  • Gender Bender: The episode's title is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The aliens can switch genders at will.
  • Human Aliens: The monsters of the week look exactly like humans.
  • Living Aphrodisiac: The aliens themselves.
  • Mars Needs Women: A variation in that the killer is implied to be a Rogue Agent acting against the mores of his/her community.
  • Monster of the Week: Even though the episode featured aliens (apparently), this was one of the few times where they made an appearance and they were not a part of the mythology.
  • Mystery Cult: The Kindred.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The Kindred have many similiarities to the real-world Shaker sect (formally the United Society of Believers), including frugal communal living and modest dress, manufacture and sale of high-quality household goods, strict celebacy (the main reason the Shakers have shrunk from a peak of 6000 members to 3 as of 2023), incorporation of highly-choreographed ritualistic dancing in their worship, and a dualistic view of God and sex (Shakers believe God is both male and female, and that there is both a male and female Christ (Jesus and their founder Mother Ann, respectively)). There are also some elements of Amish thrown in, such as objections to having their photographs taken and a rejection of technology (contrary to popular belief, the Shakers never shunned technology).
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: There's so much going on with the Monsters of the Week that it gets a bit overwhelming. They're human-looking aliens who have no resemblance to any other aliens in the show, who switch genders after they have sex, and also kill their sex partners. And they're not very good-looking, but their touch can seduce. And there's something going on with the clay they use. Oh, and they're immortal. And as if all that wasn't enough, they have a No Communities Were Harmed Shaker or Amish schtick going on as well.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Scully nearly ends up sleeping with the killer before Mulder interrupts. She throws up afterwards, implying she'd absorbed enough toxins from bodily contact to make her own body reject them.
  • Out with a Bang: Sleeping with the aliens is almost inevitably fatal to the human.
  • Pheromones: The plot is kicked off by a man who suffered an overdose. As it turns out, the Monster of the Week uses these to seduce its victims.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Except with a simple living community similar to Shakers or Amish.

"Your world offers pleasures - pleasures we don't know because we're different."