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Recap / The X-Files S03 E03 "D.P.O."

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Season 3, Episode 03:

Written by Howard Gordon
Directed by Kim Manners

Scully: You're saying he's some kind of lightning rod?
Mulder: No, I'm saying that he is lightning and we’ve got to get to him before he strikes again.

A teenager gains the power to control electricity after being hit by lightning.


  • Almighty Idiot: Oswald is a spiteful Psychopathic Manchild and a dullard who failed school, but finds himself blessed with the incredible ability to invoke lightning. Naturally, he uses it to casually commit murders, screw with his local community, fry cows, and generally entertain himself.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Darin Oswald's fate. He's put in a psychiatric hospital and charged with murder, but Mulder and Scully privately confide that no one is sure how to prosecute him; he could easily become a Karma Houdini.
  • Asshole Victim: Jack, the guy who bullies Oswald in the arcade.
  • Ax-Crazy: Oswald is easily one of the most unstable characters in the entire series. Even associating with him is hazardous to life and limb.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Oswald's stated reason for his affection for Mrs. Kiveat, who felt pity for him while she was his teacher.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The last shot is of Darin's TV screen that has "Executive Producer: Chris Carter" written on it, then it Fades to Black and the rest of the credits start.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Zigzagged with Zero, Oswald's Only Friend, who seems unsure whether to encourage or dissuade his unstable friend's evil behaviour. He still keeps his secrets though, and for his loyalty he's pitilessly murdered by Oswald, who's under the false impression that Zero sold him out.
  • Gunman with Three Names: Darin Peter Oswald.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: After finally being made aware of the danger Oswald is capable of, Sheriff Teller (who had released Oswald due to assuming the agents were holding him unjustly) tracks him down to the hospital to try and take him in. He is rewarded with getting killed by lightning.
  • Initialism Title: The title of the episode comes from the initials of the Monster of the Week's full name; Darin Peter Oswald.
  • Inspired by…: Writer Howard Gordon described the episode as "Beavis And Butthead electrified".
  • It Amused Me: At one point, we see Oswald screwing with a traffic light in order to see a car crash, just for the hell of it.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Sheriff Teller is one of the most extreme examples of this on the show, giving Mulder and Scully no assistance whatsoever and talking to them like a complete Jerkass.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Sheriff Teller seems to strongly believe this trope, although the actual culprit turns out to be more of a case of Electrolytes Can Make Lightning Do Anything.
    Scully: You said it yourself, Sheriff. Not even science can explain how lightning works.
  • Male Gaze: Darin looking at his former teacher's legs from under the car.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: Darin Peter Oswald can control lightning and electricity. He changes channels on TV that his mother is watching, and when she tries to change it back, it gets static. At the end of the episode, Mulder and Scully watch institutionalized Darin who stares not quite at a TV in the room. Camera pans over to show the screen, channels changing. There's a shot of deadpan Darin, then the whole screen gets static, and it goes into credits.
  • Pac Man Fever: You can hear Green Hill Zone in the Acrade, despite the Mega-Tech (the arcade version of the Sega Genesis) never releasing in America. Also, Virtua Fighter 2 does not save high scores with timestamps.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Subverted. The first guy we see Darren kill is a real asshole, so it seems like this trope. But later we see him causing car accidents just for fun.
  • Power Incontinence: Oswald has no true mastery of his powers and essentially defeats himself during his freak out at the end.
  • Shock and Awe: Darin can call down lightning and control electricity in general. He occasionally fries cows with the lightning. Poor animals. Later he moves up to killing people.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Darin creepily follows his former teacher, Mrs. Kiveat who was the first person ever who was kind to him. She got him work at her husband's car-repair shop. Now he dreams of a life with her, and she's terrified of him.
  • Stupid Evil: Oswald is a slow, dull-witted youth who uses his powers for petty, selfish, and myopic purposes with no real thought or restraint. He doesn't slow down even when the FBI are on his track; in fact, he steps up his game and makes his guilt even more blatant. He only lasts as long as he does because his method of killing is supernatural, and he quickly loses even that advantage when Mulder and Scully get on his case.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Darin has a major and very creepy crush on Mrs. Kiveat, though she doesn't return his feelings.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Darin comes off as sociopathic, killing cows with lightning and causing car accidents with his abilities just for fun and to get it on with his crush.
  • Weather Manipulation: Darin can control lightning.

"Darren Oswald is a perfectly normal, perfectly healthy kid. You believe that, Scully? ...Neither do I."