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Directed by Rob Bowman
Jess: Unless we do something about her, there won't be any town left to speak of.
Chaco: No! No. Once we start turning on ourselves, we're no better than the animals.
Mulder and Scully investigate strange goings-on at a small town chicken processing plant.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: An entire town of them, thanks to the cannibalism and all.
- An Axe to Grind: The Masked Executioner wields one.
- Artistic License Medicine: Prionic diseases (such as CreutzfeldtJakob) have incubation periods ranging from a few years to a few decades. No one in the community would be showing symptoms within days or even weeks.
- Big Damn Heroes: Mulder shoots the Masked Executioner before Scully gets beheaded.
- Cannibal Clan: A whole cannibal town, actually.
- Creepy Souvenir: The town of cannibals kept their victims heads in a cabinet.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Mulder acquired a tape of a mental patient rambling on about escaping the town. To the casual observer, he doesn't make any real sense, but he keeps saying something about a horrible way to die.
- Damsel in Distress: Scully, who is about to be beheaded and eaten.
- Dramatic Unmask: After shooting the executioner, Mulder pulls off his mask and finds him to be Sheriff Arens.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Walter Chaco, responsible for the murder and cannibalism of at least 87 people, gives a heartfelt speech about how the town can't turn against its own members or they'd become "an abomination".
- Evil All Along: Sheriff Arens.
- A Fête Worse Than Death: The conspiracy of a bizarre town kills outsiders and turns it into a big celebration. The residents engage in a cannibalistic ritual borrowed from primitive tribes.
- Foreshadowing: When first visiting the processing plant, Mulder and Scully find out that they use parts of the birds not sold in market to feed other chickens.
- Genre Blindness: Invoked by Chaco, who says the townspeople will doom themselves the moment they begin turning on each other. No one heeds his warning.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Chaco is killed in the ritual he taught to the townspeople.
- I'm a Humanitarian: People eat people to gain eternal youth in a ritual.
- Inspired by...: Bad Day at Black Rock
- Laser-Guided Karma: The town's latest victim manages to infect them all with CreutzfeldtJakob disease, thus ensuring they will eventually all die raving and hallucinating.
- Mundanger: The threat in this episode is an entire town kidnapping and eating their victims. Scully almost suffers this fate. While the clan do get extended life through the ritual, it's in the background to the actual threat.
- Off with His Head!: This is how the town's victims are dispatched, and Chaco suffers that same fate.
- Older Than They Look: Thanks to their, err, special diet, everybody looks much younger than they actually are.
- Police Are Useless: Sheriff Arens is reluctant to cooperate in Mulder and Scully's investigation and appears disinterested in the whole thing. Justified because Arens turns out to be the executioner of the town's cannibalistic rituals.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Averted. This episode aired in the US prior to the outbreak of variant CJD in the United Kingdom.
- Shrunken Head: The semi-Mundangerous perp of the week has some shrunken heads he claims are fake, non-human souvenir trinkets from his travels as a young man. However, when Mulder busts it open in the third act, he is shocked to find that those heads are actually the victims, with one of them being George Kearns.
- Town with a Dark Secret: And boy, there really is. The town has a group of ritualistic cannibals who feast on others to stay young.