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Recap / The X-Files S03 E02 "Paper Clip"

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Season 3, Episode 02:

Paper Clip
"There are truths out there that aren't on that tape."
Written by Chris Carter
Directed by Rob Bowman

Byers: Are you familiar with a post-World War II project known as Operation Paper Clip?
Mulder: Our deal with the devil. The U.S. government provided safe haven for certain Nazi war criminals in exchange for their scientific knowledge.

Mulder and Scully are reunited. The former learns about the government's part in the alien hybrid project, and about his father's part in his sister's abduction. Meanwhile, the latter can only hope for her sister's survival after an accidental assassination attempt. But both are being hunted by the CSM's group...


  • Anyone Can Die: Scully's sister Melissa succumbs to her gunshot wound in this episode.
  • Badass Boast: Skinner gets one of the best in the series in his Shut Up, Hannibal! moment with CSM:
    Skinner: This is where you pucker up and kiss my ass.
    CSM: Now, listen you—
    Skinner: Now you listen to me, you son of a bitch! This man's name is Albert Hosteen. You should remember that. Because if Agents Mulder and Scully come down with so much as a case of the flu, Albert is prepared to recite, chapter and verse, file for file, everything on your precious tape.
    CSM: It's a nice try, Skinner.
    Skinner: I'm sure you're thinking Albert is an old man and there are plenty of ways you might kill him too. Which is why, in the ancient oral tradition of his people, he's told twenty other men the information on those files. So unless you kill every Navajo living in four states... that information is available with a simple phone call. (smirks) Welcome to the wonderful world of high technology.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Hosteen pulls a non-action variant.
  • Call to Agriculture: Victor Klemper is a former Nazi scientist who was offered an asylum in the States. He was employed by the Syndicate as a biologist trying to create an alien human hybrid. When agents Mulder and Scully come to confront him, he is working in his greenhouse on his flowers, particularly orchids, all blooming and very beautiful.
  • Can't Stop The Signal: Skinner secures Mulder and Scully's safety by informing CSM that the information on the tape has been memorized by Albert Hosteen and twenty other randomly chosen Navajo, all of whom have been instructed to go public if Mulder or Scully are harmed. And Krycek promises to reveal its secrets if CSM ever goes after him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Skinner changed from a shady figure who might be evil to a still shady figure who would always back Mulder and Scully up.
  • Evil Brit: The Well-Manicured Man, a prominent member of the Syndicate, speaks in British accent.
  • Faking the Dead: Krycek calls CSM to let him know the attempt on his life failed. He intends to stay off the radar, but as he has the tape, he warns CSM to never try to find him.
  • Gunpoint Banter: Scully and Skinner after the teaser, and Mulder joins a moment later.
  • Herr Doktor: Nazi Mad Scientist Victor Klemper. (Not to be confused with the real-world Victor Klemperer.)
  • Implied Death Threat: The Cigarette Smoking Man does this twice, first to Krycek over the phone (particularly audacious considering he's simultaneously trying to convince a room full of men that Krycek is already dead) and again with Skinner, who turns this around on him.
    Krycek: I'm sure of this... if I so much as feel your presence, I'm going to make you a very, very famous man. You understand?
  • Magical Native American: Mulder was brought back to life by a Native American ritual after getting gassed in a boxcar full of dead alien hybrids — although Albert Hosteen's role does turn out to be far more layered and important than just being a Font of Native Wisdom.
  • Man Hug: Frohike gives one to Mulder after seeing that he's alive.
  • Meaningful Look: Scully to Mulder at his apartment elevator, she expressing her relief that he's alive.
  • Mexican Standoff: Scully and Skinner's continues from "Blessing Way". Mulder joins them and resolves the issue.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Victor Klemper's backstory is inspired by Hubertus Strughold, a German scientist who experimented on camp inmates at Dachau (immersing them in freezing water and placed in pressure chambers) on behalf of the Luftwaffe. Like Klemper, he emigrated to the United States after the war and took part in research for NASA, helping to develop astronaut pressure suits and life support systems; Strughold was never held accountable for his crimes before dying in 1986. Strughold is the name used for the mining corporation where the records are kept, and later used for Conrad Strughold, the overall head of the Syndicate.
  • Not Quite Dead: Viewers already knew it, but in this episode, the Well-Manicured Man learns and reports to the rest of the Syndicate that Mulder is alive.
  • Oh, Crap!: Krycek when he realizes he's in a car that's about to explode.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: CSM is under a lot of pressure in regards to the tape, so he lets his usually cool demeanor slip when Skinner first talks about a deal.
  • Sadistic Choice: William Mulder was forced to choose which of his kids, Fox or Samantha, would be abducted.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Skinner tries to bluff about still having the tape, CSM shuts him down and proceeds to ridicule him. Skinner, however, then invites Albert Hosteen to join them and plays that card.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Klemper is a former Nazi scientist. He was employed by the US government and the Syndicate after the war.
  • Truth in Television: Operation Paperclip.
  • Villainous Breakdown: CSM has a brief but notable one when Skinner first tells him he has the tape.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once Krycek steals the tape back from Skinner, CSM intends to blow both him and it up. Krycek realizes in time what's about to happen, though.

"I've heard the truth, Mulder. Now what I want are the answers."