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Recap / The X-Files S01 E16 "Young at Heart"

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Season 1, Episode 16:

Young at Heart
"The man who owns the fountain of youth controls the world."
Written by Scott Kaufer & Chris Carter
Directed by Michael Lange

Scully: You did the right thing, Mulder.
Mulder: Did I? Steve Wallenberg had a wife and two kids. One of his boys is an all-star on his football team now. I pull that trigger two seconds earlier and Wallenberg would be here to see his kid play. Instead, I got some dead man robbing jewellery stores and sending me haikus.

A violent bank robbery is committed by a perpetrator whose M.O matches that of John Barnett, a sociopathic criminal who Mulder helped capture in his early years at the Bureau. When the criminal starts leaving taunting notes and messages to Mulder about their shared past and threatening his friends, Mulder becomes convinced that Barnett has returned to get his revenge. One problem — Barnett apparently died four years ago...


  • Admiring the Abomination: Downplayed. Ridley says Barnett is the only one of his test subjects (Ridley himself included) who did not succumb to a genetic disease and on whom Ridley's rejuvenating techniques have been completely successful - none of which blinds Ridley to the fact that Barnett is a murderous psychopath.
    Dr. Joe Ridley: If I didn't so personally despise the man, I might call him my one triumph.
  • An Arm and a Leg: In the Cold Open, Dr. Ridley deliberately amputates John Barnett's hand in pursuit of his experiment to grow him a new one using salamander cells.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Scully's wearing one when Barnett shoots her. Of course, the audience doesn't know this, so we're supposed to believe she's been fatally wounded.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: Barnett's blue eyes are glassy and glazed over, and they appear dead. Even the pupils are blueish. They definitely fall into the creepy blue eyes variety.
  • Criminal Mind Games: John Barnett plays them with Mulder. His notes read as follows: "Fox can't guard the chicken coop," "A hunted Fox eventually dies," "Funerals for Fox's friends — then for Fox."
    Mulder: I got some dead man robbing jewellery stores and sending me haikus.
  • Death Faked for You: Ridley issued a false death certificate for Barnett.
  • For Science!: Ridley's experiments. The government is interested in his work, but he mostly just seems to enjoy it.
  • Government Conspiracy: It turns out the US government financed Dr. Ridley's research into reversing the ageing process and is trying to negotiate with Barnett to acquire Ridley's research. At the end, after Barnett's been shot and is bleeding out in hospital, the man we'll come to know as the Cigarette Smoking Man shows up desperately trying to get him to reveal where it is.
  • Harassing Phone Call: In addition to his Calling Card notes, Barnett also likes phoning up Mulder and delivering creepy threatening monologues to him from a dark and shadowy room.
  • Herr Doktor: Joe Ridley's former colleague at the NIH tells Mulder and Scully that the other scientists called Ridley "Doktor Mengele" behind his back.
  • History Repeats: Although, Barnett didn't quite pick up on just how far Mulder's regard for the rule book had fallen since their last encounter.
  • Hoist With His Own Petard: Joe Ridley used his rejuvenation techniques on himself, but doing so increased his susceptibility to certain genetic diseases that afflict children with progeria, as it did all of his other test subjects besides Barnett. As a result, he is a man in his 50's who looks no older than 30, but has less than a month to live.
  • I Should Have Been Better / It's All My Fault: Mulder, regarding the deaths of Barnett's hostage and a fellow FBI agent.
  • It's Personal: For both Mulder and Barnett. Mulder hates Barnett for killing Agent Wallenberg and has never gotten over failing to shoot the man in time to stop him, while Barnett swore revenge against Mulder over this and threatened to "get" him at his trial. He kills Mulder's old friend and partner Purdue and later tries to kill Scully, with the intent of making Mulder suffer.
  • Karma Houdini: Discussed by Mulder and Deep Throat. Mulder is disturbed at the prospect of this murderer being courted by the government because the information he has is too valuable to lose.
  • Monster of the Week
  • Older Than They Look: Joe Ridley, meeting Mulder and Scully in the 1990's, appears younger than he did in the film footage they saw at the NIH taken from the 1970's. He tells them his appearance is deceptive, he is actually dying from a cerebral vascular disease.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Ridley uses salamander cells to graft a new hand onto Barnett, giving him a horrifying reptilian hand in the process.

Scully: Mulder, I know what you did wasn't by the book.
Mulder: Tells you a lot about the book, doesn't it?