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Recap / The X-Files S04 E20 "Small Potatoes"

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Season 4, Episode 20:

Small Potatoes
"You ain't no athlete, and you sure the hell ain't no Einstein. But at least you got that tail. Otherwise you're just small potatoes."
Written by Vince Gilligan
Directed by Cliff Bole

"Well, um, if this musculature underlies the entire skin, then maybe it could be utilized to remold the skin's shape and texture. Which would go a long way to explaining why we're looking for a man who can appear to be his own father, or anyone else for that matter."
Fox Mulder

Following an unexplained spate of babies being born with tails in a small town, Mulder and Scully search for a man who possesses the ability to change form.


  • Almost Kiss: Between Scully and "Mulder". Mulder busts through the door just in time to put a kibosh on it.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Chantal misses Mulder's sexy voice. Considering that she's a phone sex operator, one must take it with a pinch of salt.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Apparently, after attacking Mulder from the ceiling, Eddie up and escaped, meaning the case is closed and Mulder and Scully can leave... until the actual Mulder is revealed to be locked in Eddie's janitor closet.
  • Bed Trick: Eddie's shape-shifting abilities allow him to pull this on women.
  • The Cameo: All we see of Skinner is when "Mulder" and Scully meet with him after Eddie (supposedly) escapes.
  • Capture and Replicate: Eddie pulls this on Mulder halfway through the episode.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The woman impregnated by "Luke Skywalker".
  • Didn't Think This Through: Mulder very easily chases down and catches the somewhat out of shape Eddie, who unwisely fancied his chances of escape. Funnily enough, he fares much better when masquerading as his elderly father, although it's implied that he immediately took on another form when he was out of sight.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: We first see Eddie among the crowd watching the newborns near the start.
  • Engaging Conversation
    Mulder: I have a theory, if you want to hear it.
    Scully: Van Blundht somehow physically transformed into his captor, and then walked out the door, leaving no one the wiser?
    Mulder: Scully, should we be picking out China patterns, or what?
  • Epic Fail:
    • "Mulder" somehow managed to misspell "Federal Bureau of Investigation". Twice.
    • While Mulder is looking over Eddie Sr.'s corpse, Scully mentions how good it is that it's intact... immediately before Mulder snaps the tail off. He then distracts Scully long enough to try and fix it, "try" being the key word.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Eddie gets some mileage out of morphing into Mulder.
    Eddie: You're a damn good-lookin' man!
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Mulder and Scully arrive at Eddie Sr.'s house. Specifically, when the "H" on the "Van Blundht" sign on the house falls after Mulder walks past it.
    • When Mulder is questioning Amanda the second time, his responses to some of her answers about Eddie foreshadow the fact that it's not actually Mulder.
  • Friendly Enemy: Eddie to Mulder at the end.
  • Hidden Depths: Eddie, at the end, has a surprisingly tender heart-to-heart with Scully. He opens up and admits his regrets, wishing he could go back and do it all differently. When Mulder interrupts the evening, he gives up without a fight and shrugs his shoulders resignedly.
  • Humanshifting: Eddie's ability.
  • I Never Told You My Name: "Eddie Sr." accidentally outs himself when he calls Mulder by name.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Scully notices that "Mulder" is behaving a bit weird, but fails to connect this with the disappearance of their recent shape-shifting suspect (who was using his ability to rape women by impersonating men they were attracted to).
    • Less forgivable, however, are the unnamed husband and wife who buy "Mulder"'s story of chasing Eddie into their bathroom, having to get people to come and dust fingerprints, and also needing one of the husband's suits. Especially jarring since the wife saw "Mulder" enter the bathroom... as "her husband".
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After Mulder bursts in during Scully and "Mulder"'s kiss, Eddie simply reverts to his normal form and gives up.
  • Lighter and Softer: At the heart of it, the Monster of the Week is an understated dork who was impregnating married women trying to conceive by taking on the forms of their husbands and, uh, claiming to help the process along (he also knocked up a Star Wars-obsessed ex by morphing into Luke Skywalker). When he takes Mulder's form, Hilarity Ensues.
    Skinner: Which one of you wrote this?
    "Mulder": I did, sir.
    Skinner: You spelled Federal Bureau of Investigation wrong.
    "Mulder": ...It was a typo.
    Skinner: Twice.
  • Logical Weakness: After Eddie is incarcerated, he's given muscle relaxants to keep him from shapeshifting.
  • Mirror Character: After living in his shoes for a while, Eddie gradually concludes that Mulder an emotionally distant conspiracy theorist with geeky friends, a hotline to a sex operator, and no real social life is also a "loser", only one by choice instead of circumstance. Eddie even calls Mulder up from prison at the end and encourages him to open up and live a little.
  • Mistaken For Couple: When Mulder and Scully arrive at the fertility clinic where the parents of the tailed babies are confronting their doctor, everyone assumes the two are another couple there for the same reason.
  • Moment Killer: "Mulder" and Scully's kiss is ruined... by Mulder bursting into Scully's apartment.
  • Monster of the Week: Of the humorous kind in the form of shapeshifter Eddie Van Blundht.
  • My Nayme Is: Played with. The unusual spelling of Eddie's name is real, but his insistence on the proper spelling and irritation when it's misspelled certainly fit. He probably makes such a big deal out of it because the spelling makes him feel special.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Scully's initial theory about how Eddie impregnated five women without them knowing it was him was that he used rohypnol. In reality, he just used shapeshifting.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Eddie somehow overpowers Mulder and locks him up in a hospital basement off-camera.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When the husband Eddie is impersonating arrives while he's in the bathroom.
    • Similarly, when he leaves Angie's room as Mulder... and almost bumps into Mulder, who's looking for said room.
  • Plumber's Crack: We see Eddie's when he's under a sink, and it's what tips Mulder off that Eddie is the cause of the mysterious babies, because it also reveals his tail.
  • Power Incontinence: It's implied that Eddie has trouble holding another form for a long period of time.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mulder gets a short but poignant one from Eddie.
    Eddie: I just think it's funny. I was born a loser, but you're one by choice.
    Mulder: On what do you base that astute assessment?
    Eddie: Experience. You should live a little. Treat yourself. God knows I would if I were you.
  • Red Herring: The teaser suggests that the case will be connected to alien abductions and medical rapes and impregnations, as Amanda said the father of her child is not from this planet. However, it deals with babies having tails (she meant he's Luke Skywalker).
  • Running Gag: Eddie van Blundht's name. "The 'h' is silent."
  • Saw "Star Wars" Twenty-Seven Times: The woman who believes she was impregnated by Luke Skywalker has seen Star Wars 368 times, and is hoping to break 400 by Memorial Day.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The literal moment Mulder wants to ask Eddie some questions, Eddie bails.
    • Mulder does an understated one when he realizes the women they came to question doesn't believe she was impregnated by an alien... but by LUKE SKYWALKER. It's her starting to hum the Star Wars theme that makes him just immediately leave the room.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Invoked by Eddie when he gets Angie pregnant by pretending to be Luke Skywalker.
    • After doing his "FBI" bit, "Mulder" asks the mirror if it's talking to him.
    • Mulder's line "Birds do it, bees do it, even educated MDs do it" references the song "Let's Do It, Let's Fall In Love" by Cole Porter.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Subverted: when admitting to Scully that there's no real point in sticking around anymore, "Mulder" explains that there's nothing here but "small potatoes". The last time Scully heard this phrase was when "Eddie Sr." said it, but the issue is that Mulder was also present for that, so the significance of "Mulder" saying it is lost on her.
  • Super Loser: Eddie. Ironic emphasis on "Super".
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: Eddie, repeatedly and rather successfully.
  • Title Drop: Eddie's father says that without a tail, Eddie is just small potatoes.
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: Mulder and Scully share an umbrella as they walk toward Van Blundht's house. Funnily though, the weather looks sunny. Ship Tease!
  • Visual Gag: When Mulder and Scully go to Eddie's father's house to look for him, the letter 'h' in the Van Blundht name outside the door falls off.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Eddie.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Downplayed. Eddie stops at deceiving people.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: How in the hell did Mulder break out of Eddie's janitor closet?

Scully: I don't imagine you need to be told this Mulder, but you're not a loser.
Mulder: Yeah, but I'm no Eddie Van Blundht either. Am I?