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Recap / The X-Files S02 E11 "Excelsis Dei"

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Season 2, Episode 11:

Excelsis Dei
Written by Paul Brown
Directed by Stephen Surjik

Scully: find not just the treatment but a cure for Alzheimer's. Do you realise how important that would be?
Mulder: If it would keep anybody out of a place like that, it would be important enough. I wouldn't say those people were exactly cured.

When an orderly at the Excelsis Dei Nursing Home claims to have been raped by an elderly (and, what's more, invisible) in-patient, Scully insists on an investigation. Once there, they find that the patients seem unusually spry and lucid — until the accused rapist unexpectedly drops dead from a rare poison that he could not conceivably have access to. Could a revolutionary new treatment for Alzheimer's be responsible, or are the spirits of the dead exacting horrible revenge for the abuses they suffered? And what is the role of Gung, the one orderly everyone seems to like?


  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The first time Scully is fully onboard investigating a paranormal case from the get go, and Mulder is the one who questions whether anything supernatural is going on. As Mulder puts it, though, none of the cases of invisible people he's investigated or researched have ever been substantiated. He does show sympathy for the rape victim, he just believes her traumatic experience is a bit more mundane than the rapist being invisible. It's also not helped that she insists that it was a man in his 70s that's as thin as a twig, can barely stand on his own and has Alzheimer's who was the rapist. Ironically, by the time they discover the miracle pills, she believes that the mushrooms used are poisoning the elderly, while Mulder believes they're using them to connect to the spirits of the dead.
  • Bleak Abyss Retirement Home: The Excelsis Del Nursing Home is one, with a possible poltergeist.
  • Drowning Pit: Mulder and the Victim of the Week are trapped in a bathroom that is swiftly filled up with water, complete with Opening the Flood Gates.
  • Elder Abuse: The Nursing Home's residents are often mentally and sometimes physically abused by the staff. A few get a rather supernatural form of revenge, though.
  • Foreign Language Title: "Excelsis Dei" is Latin for "The highest".
  • Invisibility: The initial focus of Mulder and Scully's investigation is a nurse raped by an invisible attacker (akin to the famous case of The Entity, as there are apparently many reported cases of women attacked by invisible men). Scully mentions that a common theory to explain this is the victim's subconscious erasing the image of the attacker from her memory. It turns out that the attacker is the ghost of one of the elderly men who the nurse has to care for.
  • I See Dead People: Dorothy is routinely seen trying to get away from the ghosts haunting the Nursing Home, and she is the only one who ever sees them. Mulder thinks that this is an unintended side-effect of the Magic Mushrooms Gung uses in his miracle-pills.
  • Magic Mushroom: It's revealed that Gung has a mushroom farm in the building's basement, the mushrooms native to his prefecture and is the secret ingredient to a pill that is slowly curing the elderly's degenerative conditions. It's also revealed that his prefecture used them to commune with the dead, unfortunately and unknowingly granting the elderly the same ability through the pills.
  • Orderlies are Creeps: Played with; most of the orderlies are fairly callous, but Gung is attempting to be as considerate and respectful as he can, with deadly results.
  • Poltergeist: The perpetrators of the episode's weirdness.
  • Porn Stash:
    Mulder: Whatever tape you found in that VCR, it isn't mine.
    Scully: Good, because I put it back in that drawer with all those other videos that aren't yours.
  • Red Herring: Downplayed. It's revealed that the miracle-drug responsible for the resident's improving conditions have nothing to do with the rapes and murders occurring in the hospital. Instead, they are the ghosts of those who die of natural causes in the building, though Mulder seems to think that the mushrooms are related on some esoteric level.
  • Vengeful Ghost: The Monster of the Week are the ghosts of the elderly who have been mistreated in the Nursing Home.

"In response to the series of unexplained incidents at the Excelsis Dei convalescent home, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has assumed all administrative authority at the facility."