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Recap / The X-Files S01 E22 "Born Again"

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Season 1, Episode 22:

Born Again
"What I saw was some traumatised little girl who for no apparent reason has some connection to Charlie Morris."
Written by Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa
Directed by Jerrold Freedman

Mulder: Psychokinesis is usually associated with an electrical charge.
Scully: Are you saying Michelle possesses the ability to psychically project her own will?
Mulder: How else could a 60-pound kid throw a 200-pound detective out the window?

In Buffalo, New York, police officer Rudy Barbala is thrown from a window after eight-year-old Michelle Bishop (Andrea Libman) is brought in. While initially appearing to be a suicide, enough doubt about the strange circumstances of his death exists that Mulder and Scully are brought in. There, they find a seemingly supernatural link between Michelle and an officer who had been slain the day she was conceived, along with a nest of corruption within the police department.


  • Call-Back: The previous episode is mentioned as the reason Mulder and Scully are called in.
  • Creepy Child: Michelle, the reincarnation of a murdered cop. She gets better after the case is finished.
  • Creepy Doll: Michelle disfigures several dolls in exactly the same way, always gouging out one eye and cutting off one arm. This is how Charlie Morris' body was mutilated.
  • Destination Defenestration: Barbala's death.
  • Dirty Cop: The cops who killed Charlie and took the Triad money for themselves, who Michelle/Charlie is now going after.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: For a given value of "ghost"; supernatural activity involving Michelle is associated with a buzz of TV static, and as Mulder predicts, the first victim is revealed to have received an electric burn at the time he was thrown out the window.
  • Enhance Button: What can we say, at least it's presented as something requiring time and effort by a competent technician, so it's better than most cases.
  • Eye Scream: Charlie's eye.
  • Ghostly Goals: Revenge for his murder. Overall, the episode could just as well be about a vengeful ghost who hangs on to some random girl.
  • Happy Ending: In the end, the ghost (or persona) of Charlie is brought closure and leaves Michelle be, she's left to live a happy and perfectly ordinary life, the last of the crooked cops is spared instead of violently killed, and he fully confesses to the crime. The only one who is less than happy is Mulder, who seems to have been more interested in using this case to prove reincarnation rather than solving it as its own thing; his request to conduct more hypnosis sessions with Michelle is denied.
  • Honor Before Reason: Charlie.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Tony Fiore knew Leon Felder and Rudy Barbala killed Charlie, but he was afraid to reveal the truth. He wanted to take care of Charlie's wife Anita.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Michelle killed Felder and Barbala this way.
  • Mind over Matter: Michelle's power.
  • Never My Fault: During their discussion about the Triad money, Felder tells a reluctant Fiore that Charlie's death was an accident.
  • Past-Life Memories: Unsurprisingly for a case of reincarnation, at one point a hypnotist is brought in to awaken Michelle's memories of her life as Charlie. Given the way he died, this ends a bit less than well, although it delivers a final clue.
  • Reincarnation: The murdered cop Charlie was reincarnated as a little girl. No wonder, she was channeling his desire for revenge because his murderers were not punished. When his wife begged the girl to spare Fiore who later confessed to his crimes, the Charlie persona is gone, leaving Michelle her own person.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The people who killed Charlie as revenge for a drug bust. Only it was actually a group of his fellow officers as revenge for not joining in on their scheme to take the Triad money for themselves, made to look like a signature Triad execution.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Felder and Barbala originally just wanted to talk to Charlie, but killed him when he refused to take the Triad money.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Michelle used to have a hysterical aversion to swimming, brought on by memory of her previous incarnation's death by drowning.

"Please, please don't hurt him any more."