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Recap / The X-Files S03 E23 "Wetwired"

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Season 3, Episode 23:

Seeing isn't believing.
Written by Mat Beck
Directed by Rob Bowman

"You may have been right, Scully, at least partly. I think there is a foreign signal being introduced into these people's homes through the television set."
Fox Mulder

While investigating a series of murders committed by ordinary people suffering sudden fits of paranoia, Scully begins to suspect that Mulder is working with the Conspiracy against her.


  • Color Blind Confusion: Inverted, Mulder's red-green color blindness turns into an unexpected asset, as The Government's subliminal messages operate primarily in that spectrum, and he is thus the only one immune to them.
  • Disability Immunity: Again, Mulder's color-blindness, which leaves him unaffected by the brainwashing signal.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: X apparently kills the Plain-Clothed Man offscreen.
  • Go Through Me: Maggie Scully steps between Scully and Mulder while Dana threatens to shoot him, talking her down from her paranoia.
  • Hallucinations: Of your worst fears, like being cheated on and abandoned, or facing a sadistic dictator who caused genocide.
  • Hate Plague: The murders are basically paranoia-fueled.
  • Haunted Technology: The plot explores a device planted in a TV set sending subliminal signals and inciting the worst fears in viewers. A subversion since it's clear that The Conspiracy placed it there.
  • I Know What You Fear: It's revealed that people are controlled by Subliminal Seduction transferred through TV broadcasting. It caused them very vivid hallucinations of their worst fears which compelled them to murder, in one case even their loved ones. Scully thought that Mulder is collaborating with The Conspiracy and he helped them to abduct her.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Oh noes! Is Scully dead?!
  • Mysterious Informant: Mr X steers Mulder into investigating the case. He uses a middle man in this episode, whom Mulder openly distrusts.
  • Myth Arc: Subverted. It doesn't directly feature elements of the Myth Arc, but it features almost all the characters such as X, The Cigarette Smoking Man, The Lone Gunmen and even Scully's mom.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: Distortions of the picture implied that a person is under influence of subliminal transmission that triggered the person's worst fears and compelled them to kill.
  • The Only One I Trust: Mulder says this to Scully, word for word, as she holds a gun on him in her mother's home, convinced he has betrayed her.
  • Percussive Therapy/Punch a Wall: Mulder gets utterly frustrated and kicks the hell out of a car which belongs to a wacko of The Adjectival Man. Plain-clothed man.
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off: Lladislov Miliskovich, used on the cable TV news for the first murder's rampage, is a fictionalized version of real war criminal Slobodan Milosevic.
  • Shout-Out: Mulder's reference to "Must-See TV".
  • Subliminal Seduction: Transferred through TV signal. Induces your worst fears.
  • Unreliable Narrator: A subtle example. Much of the first half of the episode takes place mainly through Scully's perspective, in which it appears that Mulder has betrayed her and the X-Files to the Cigarette Smoking Man. About halfway through, the episode switches to Mulder's viewpoint, where it becomes clear (if it wasn't already) that Scully has fallen victim to the brainwashing and is acting completely erratic.
  • Written-In Absence: The subplot with X's substitute, the Plain Clothed Man, was added because the actor who plays X had a scheduling conflict and was unable to appear in the full episode.

"You don't know who manufactured the device you found or what its purpose was."