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Recap / The X-Files S05 E10 "Chinga"

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Season 5, Episode 10:

"I want to play."
Written by Stephen King & Chris Carter
Directed by Kim Manners

"I saw Dave dead. Before he was dead. I saw him in frozen foods all cut and bloody and it’s not the first time. My husband... I saw him in a window dead before it happened."
Melissa Turner

Scully goes on holiday and STILL ends up dealing with weirdness, this time involving a creepy doll. That girl can't catch a break.


  • Adventure Towns: The events happen in a small harbour town in Maine.
  • Antagonist Title: Chinga is the Creepy Doll.
  • Artifact of Death: The titular Chinga.
  • Asshole Victim: Jane Froelich advocates killing Melissa the mother to stop the problems, so it's not as sad when she's killed.
  • Burn the Witch!: Jane Froelich would very much like to invoke this trope for Polly's mother Melissa.
    "Melissa Turner. That whore’s a witch sure as I’m standing here. She’s descended from the Hawthornes in Salem and the Englishes, too. She comes from a cursed lineage and now she’s passing it on to the whelp. (...) Our great-great-grandfathers knew how to treat witches. They would have driven the demon out of that little girl and given that slattern of a mother just what she’s got coming!"
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  • Busman's Holiday: Once again, Scully's vacation plans are derailed by bizarre circumstances that she needs to investigate.
  • Call-Back: The recurring phone conversations between Scully and Mulder are a reference to an earlier episode.
  • Clean Dub Name: Chinga was renamed "Bunghoney" in the UK because chinga means "[you] fuck" in Mexican Spanish. Oddly, it was not renamed in Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Creator Thumbprint: You wouldn't expect King to co-write a story that wasn't set in Maine, would you?
  • Creepy Child: Polly. She's an autistic girl, but the creepiness comes mainly from Chinga, her doll.
  • Deadly Bath: Subverted. The music builds, we're sure something creepy's going to happen, the phone rings and... it's Mulder, he's bored.
  • Disappeared Dad: Polly's father found Chinga in his fishing net, and some time after giving it to the then-infant Polly as a present, he was found dead aboard his boat.
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  • Drop the Hammer: The doll drives Melissa to bury a hammer in her own skull. Thankfully a timely intervention from Scully stops the incident from turning fatal.
  • Empty Fridge, Empty Life: Mulder's fridge contains nothing but a huge jug of orange juice. He takes a swig straight from the bottle, makes a face at the taste, checks the date, and spits the juice back into the bottle. He manages to do this whole routine while he's on the phone with Agent Scully who took a weekend off and whom he misses dearly.
  • Engaging Conversation: Near the beginning of the episode, when Scully calls Mulder to tell him about the case.
    Mulder: Maybe you don't know what you're looking for.
    Scully: Like evidence of conjury or the black arts or shamanism, divination, Wicca or any kind of pagan or neo-pagan practice? Charms, cards, familiars, bloodstones, or hex signs or any of the ritual tableaux associated with the occult, Santeria, Voudoun, Macumba, or any high or low magic?
    Mulder: Scully?
    Scully: Yes?
    Mulder: Marry me.
    Scully: I was hoping for something a little more helpful.
  • Eye Scream: The murderous doll made people claw at their eyes. Their faces near their eyes are horribly scratched and one poor guy didn't survive the attack: a knife ended up sticking out of his eye socket.
  • Here We Go Again!: The episode ends with a fisherman pulling the burnt remains of Chinga out of a lobster net. The doll's eyes then open.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: Neither Carter nor King knew what "chinga" meant South of the Border.
  • I See Dead People: Polly's mother sees the victims for brief moments just before their deaths.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • After Melissa has a premonition of herself as one of Chinga's victims, she panics and tries to stop it from happening by burning down her house with herself and Polly inside.
    • Scully destroys Chinga by throwing it in a microwave.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When regular clues don't pan out Scully very reluctantly suggests to the chief of police that they may be looking for something supernatural.
  • Leitmotif: "Hokey Pokey" being played ad nauseam for Chinga makes it somewhat of her signature theme song. When the song plays, you know shit is about to go down...
  • Nerd Glasses: Jane Froelich the evil teacher is wearing very unflattering glasses with thick coke-bottled lenses and strangely-shaped chunky frames.
  • Perverse Puppet: "Don’t play with knives. (...) Don’t play with matches. (...) Let’s play with the hammer."
  • Porn Stash: Mulder is shown watching something when Scully calls, and there is lots of moaning and groaning. When asked what he's watching, he claims it's "The World’s Deadliest Swarms" and mutes the TV. He then switches channels and happens to return the channel to the program he mentioned.
  • Porn Stache: One of the policemen has one.
  • Running Gag:
    • Mulder's "watching porn as TV" habit.
    • Mulder's sticking pencils into the ceiling appears for the first time.
  • Sadist Teacher: Jane Froelich slapped Polly very hard because she had a tantrum. She lost her daycare license over the incident. When we meet her, she sure looks nothing like a sweet kindergarten teacher.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mulder brings up Chucky during the call in which Scully asks him about possessed dolls.
    • Scully comments that the large lobster dish Bonsaint orders looks like "something out of Jules Verne".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Polly likes her old records. The doll puts "Hokey Pokey" on an old record player, then smashes another record and slashes Jane Froelich's throat while the music cheerfully plays.
  • Swapped Roles: The phone conversations are much like those from War of the Coprophages, but with Scully out and about and Mulder staying behind. And in this episode, Mulder plays the Agent Scully to Scully, suggesting mundane explanations while Scully tentatively posits supernatural causes.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Oh joy, Mulder's sunflower seeds!
  • Uncanny Valley: Enforced with Chinga's design, who was cobbled from different doll parts to make sure it looked weird. Her head is a little too large for her body and her hair is made from different sources. It gets worse after she is burned in a microwave.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Subverted. Melissa's visions of death are only foregone conclusions so long as the doll is in the picture.