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Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Mulder: Well, that's good. I didn't want to have to tell Skinner that his murder suspect was a giant, blood-sucking worm.
When Mulder is assigned to investigate a homicide in a New Jersey Sewer, it seems like the latest step in the Humiliation Conga Assistant Director Skinner has lined up for him. Scully insists on doing the autopsy despite Mulder's dismissiveness of the case, and discovers that the corpse is incubating an oversized flukeworm. And when something man-sized but with worm-like teeth attacks a sanitation worker, Mulder starts getting strangely encouraging calls from a mysterious "friend in the FBI", and even Skinner admits that this should have been an X-File. With the future of the X-Files at stake, can Mulder track down a giant bloodsucking worm before it escapes out to sea? And once they've got it, what can the FBI reasonably expect to do with such a creature?
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer
- Ambiguously Human: The Flukeman. The episode leaves it up in the air if he was a mutated human or not. Years later, though, the comics would state that he had been human.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies
- Body Horror: Specifically, the scene of Craig throwing up a flukeworm in the shower.
- Enhance Button
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Mulder cuts the Flukeman in two with the gate over a pipe, as it attempts to escape.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While Mulder might be right about his superiors punishing him with a sewer case, Skinner pointedly reminds him that this is nonetheless a murder case that needs to be solved.
- Jump Scare: One of the show's most infamous.
- Lamprey Mouth: Repeatedly referred to by its scientific name, "scolex." Technically incorrectly, as real tapeworms use their scolex to hang on, not to feed; hence, it's not a mouth.
- Mauve Shirt: Ray. The poor guy seems doomed from the minute he appears, but manages to survive the story.
- Mysterious Informant: The mysterious Mr X first contacts the agents, tipping them off in the right direction with hints.
- Mysterious Note: The tabloid Mr X slides under Scully's door.
- Not Quite Dead: The Flukeman.
- Nuclear Nasty: Theorized by Scully to be the Flukeman's origin.
- Orifice Evacuation: See Body Horror.
- Sewer Gator: Craig (the sewer worker) claims he was once grabbed by one. It's never established whether he's telling the truth or not.
- Sound-Only Death: Done with the US Marshal in the ambulance. One of this episodes only examples of a Discretion Shot, bizarrely.
- Taxonomic Term Confusion: Constantly conflates the Turbellaria (free-living flatworms) with the Trematoda (parasitic flukes) and Cestoda (tapeworms, the only group with a scolex).
- The End... Or Is It?: The final shot is that of the bisected Flukeman revealing itself to be alive.
- The Faceless: X during his phone calls with Mulder. Presumably this was because Steven Williams was not the original choice to play the character.
- Throwing the Distraction: Done with Ray. The Flukeman attacks him and drags him underwater, then releases him so he surfaces nearby. The idea seemingly being that while Mulder is busy saving Ray from drowning, the Flukeman can escape, but Mulder manages to both rescue Ray and (mostly) prevent the monster from escaping.
- Toilet Humor: Given it revolves around a monster in a sewer, has some shades of this.
- Too Dumb to Live: The U.S. Marshal wisely stops his vehicle and calls for immediate backup when he notices that the human-sized parasitic monster he's transporting has slipped its restraints. He then, not so wisely, decides to throw open the back of the vehicle in an attempt to find out where exactly the Flukeman is hiding, with predictable results.
- Weaponized Offspring: Flukeman would bite people and inject its parasitic larvae into them.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Skinner fully intends for the Flukeman to be dealt with through the legal system, much to Mulder's protests.
- You Are Not Alone: X phones Mulder to let him know that he has a friend in the FBI.