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Recap / The X-Files S03 E21 "Avatar"

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Season 3, Episode 21:

"I appreciate that he's a colleague of yours, but I want you to understand something. He's also a suspect."
Written by David Duchovny (Story) & Howard Gordon (Story & teleplay)
Directed by James Charleston

Mulder: Maybe that's why Skinner's running. He's afraid.
Scully: That he did it?
Mulder: That he doesn't know he didn't do it.

A.D. Skinner wakes up next to the woman he met at a bar last night - with her neck twisted around 180 degrees. As he struggles with demons from his past, Mulder and Scully work to prove his innocence.


  • Big Damn Heroes: Skinner at the end, when he shoots the assassin sent to kill Judy.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Skinner is the focus of this episode, through the old woman vision he sees and his status as a suspect in an innocent woman's murder.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: The prostitute Skinner slept with. Averted with Judy.
  • Frame-Up: The Syndicate's trying to frame Skinner for murder.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is the woman in the red coat a real entity or Skinner's drug flashback? There's very little supernatural about the main storyline, yet there's still the phosphorescence on the murdered prostitute to explain...
  • Succubi and Incubi: A classical variation of this is examined. Skinner may have caught one's attentions while on death's door in Vietnam – not a beautiful, seductive demoness, but an elderly crone who seems to bring misfortune to the women he becomes intimate with.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Skinner is subjected to this. He faces a possible divorce, wakes up after a one-night stand to see the woman he slept with dead, is pinned as a possible suspect in her murder, temporarily loses his job due to higher-ups questioning his reliability and learns that his soon-to-be divorced wife was struck by a car. Yet, he does not crack from all this stress.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Skinner and Mulder are discussing the former's visions of an old woman in an interrogation room, with the next scene showing who is behind the two-way mirror. It's the Cigarette Smoking Man.
    • When Judy calls the assassin who killed the prostitute, she pretends to meet him at the Ambassador Hotel for money. This is secretly a plan for Mulder and Scully to catch him, but the next scene casts doubt on that. The camera cuts to the assassin in his car, with the outside coming into view. It's Mulder, Scully and Judy making the deal, indicating that he knows that they are trying to do.

"But I want to thank you for the quick turnaround on this."