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Recap / The X-Files S02 E13 "Irresistible"

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Season 2, Episode 13:

"Exposures like these can leave you extremely vulnerable."
Written by Chris Carter
Directed by David Nutter

"His victim was a young attractive woman. The corpses he dug up were those of young women. Yet there's no evidence of any sexual activity. What fuels his need? What is important about the hair and fingernails to him?"
Fox Mulder

When a girl's body is found exhumed and mutilated, local law enforcement suspects aliens and calls in the FBI. Although Mulder's interest in the case consists primarily of a pair of convenient football tickets, he gets a chance to use his skills as a profiler tracking a death fetishist turned serial killer (Nick Chinlund). And his next target may be Agent Scully...


  • Alone with the Psycho: Scully is traumatized when she is captured by the Serial Killer; luckily, at the same time, Mulder has figured out the killer's identity from fingerprints and realizes that he has Scully.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: The head mortician eats a Popsicle when in the mortuary.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Pfaster prepares a cold bath for his victims. He cares particularly for their hair and nails.
  • Bound and Gagged: Scully, by Pfaster.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Scully, after dreaming of a demon/Pfaster.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Donnie Pfaster, a necrophiliac turned into a killer, had a hair and nail fetish. He took some fingers from dead bodies and also from the prostitute he killed. The FBI found a box in his freezer that contained ice, Brussels sprouts, some fingers and a nail painted bright red.
  • Cry into Chest: Scully at the end breaks down and cries in Mulder's arms after being rescued from Pfaster.
  • Damsel in Distress: Scully, when Pfaster kidnaps her and intends to kill her and steal her fingernails and hair.
  • Deadly Bath
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Pfaster's first actual victim is a prostitute, but it's more because she was easier to get ahold of than because of her profession.
  • Dramatic Irony: There is tension since, this time, we know who's doing it, and can see him acting in a creepy way throughout the whole episode.
  • Elvis Lives: Mulder's comment when there was no witnesses to Scully's abduction by Pfaster.
    Mulder: They see Elvis in three cities across America every day. But no one saw a pretty woman being run off the road in her rental car.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Pfaster is generically polite and has an artificial, somewhat awkward manner of speech. It starts to crumble if anyone exchanges more than a few words with him, though.
  • Flyover Country: Minneapolis is treated as a small town where no one locks their doors. The resident FBI agent are unable to comprehend the idea of violent crime occurring in the Twin Cities, so assume it must've been aliens. This is despite the fact that in 1994, Minneapolis had a population of over 2 million people and more murders than New York City.
  • Gunman with Three Names: Donald Addie Pfaster.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty
  • I Love the Dead: Pfaster again. The network wouldn't let the writers actually use the word 'necrophiliac', so they went with the next best thing and called him a 'death fetishist'.
  • Implied Rape: Pfazer collected body parts, hair, and personal items from the dead. No mention of rape is ever made, but this is a case of What Could Have Been, as he was explicitly identified as a necrophile in the script, and it's clearly a case of G-Rated Sex, such as the funeral director's horrified response to Frazer.
  • Improvised Weapon: Scully temporarily blinds Pfaster with a spray can of tile grout.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Pfaster is seen several times to briefly change into a demonic form, but it's left ambiguous whether he actually is demonic, or if it's just the way others perceive him. Word of God says this was inspired by claims that Jeffrey Dahmer appeared to his victims in the same way.
  • Mundanger: In a show where almost every other episode revolves around paranormal weirdness, this is one of the gritty realistic few with zero fantastic elements, (probably) —and one of the creepiest episodes overall.
    • The episode is deliberately ambiguous about whether there is any paranormal explanation for Donnie Pfaster's behavior, or if he is simply an "ordinary" serial killer, and both Mulder and Scully reflect that the latter possibility is far more frightening, simply because it is more realistic:
    • Scully: [v.o.] It is somehow easier to believe, as Agent Bocks does, in aliens and UFOs, than in the kind of cold-blooded inhuman monster who could prey on the living to scavenge from the dead.
    • Mulder: [v.o.] It's been said that the fear of the unknown is an irrational response to the excesses of the imagination. But our fear of the everyday, of the lurking stranger, and the sound of foot-falls on the stairs, the fear of violent death and the primitive impulse to survive, are as frightening as any X-File, as real as the acceptance... that it could happen to you.
  • Not So Stoic: Scully, when she finally realizes Mulder won't think any less of her for seeing her break down after a traumatic experience.
  • Religious Horror: much of the episode revolves around Scully's struggle to reconcile her experiences with both her faith and her rational worldview.
  • Stealth Pun: At one point a Minnesota Vikings game is shown, featuring a play by legendary Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter.
  • Swapped Roles: In this episode, Mulder is the one with Scully Syndrome, while Scully finds herself having an increasingly hard time dismissing the idea that Pfaster is more than just another depraved serial killer.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Scully goes to see one to help her deal with her violent reactions to the case.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Pfaster is an excessively polite delivery driver for a frozen foods company.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Although Pfaster's desecration of cadavers is very unpleasant, it doesn't seem to justify the depth of Scully's existential crisis. To say she had encountered worse by this point would be an understatement.

"It's all right."