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Recap / The X-Files S06 E10 "Tithonus"

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Dana Scully: How is it you know when people are about to die?
Alfred Fellig: Oh... You chase it long enough, you pick it up.

Scully, but not Mulder, is assigned to investigate Alfred Fellig, a New York City crime scene photographer with a suspicious knack of turning up when somebody is about to die.


  • Agent Mulder: With the actual Mulder out of the case, Scully takes over his role while Ritter plays The Scully.
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  • Balancing Death's Books: Fellig recounts how he became immortal when a nurse took his death for him. At the end of the episode, he does the same for Scully, gaining the death he desires and implicitly leaving her immortal in turn.
  • Blessed with Suck: How Fellig sees immortality.
  • Busman's Holiday: Mulder is forced out of the action, but still helps Scully as much as he can.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Peyton Ritter, the NYC-based agent Scully is partnered with, criticizes Scully for going off the book and blames it on Mulder's influence.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One dating all the way back to the Season 3 episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose". In that episode, Bruckman claimed to be able to see people's deaths, and when Scully asked him how she's going to die, he replied, "You don't". This episode ends with Fellig apparently transferring his immortality to Scully.
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  • The Cynic: Fellig, in spades. Only thing keeping him from Misanthrope Supreme is that he is not an Omnicidal Maniac. Not now, at least.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Fellig.
    Scully: Mr. Fellig... I know that you know more about photography than I do... but this is just a lens flare.
    Fellig: You're right... I do know more about photography than you do.
  • Death Seeker: Fellig tried several times to commit suicide, but nothing works. He's only in pain.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Alfred Fellig sees when people are about to die. Their color fades and he sees them in black and white.
  • Elderly Immortal: Alfred Fellig was already in his 60s when he became immortal, and didn't get youth along with immortality.
  • Ensign Newbie: Ritter.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Done first when Scully and Ritter find Fellig's crime scene working licenses going back to 1964, all showing he has not aged a day since the first. Second offscreen, when Mulder runs his prints through the system and finds them in documents going to before 1938, with the oldest one showing he entered his birth date as 1849. Later Fellig tells Scully he became immortal during New York City's final yellow fever epidemic, which ended in 1799 (being in his 60s at the time, this puts his birth back somewhere in the 1730s or so).
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  • Fate Worse than Death: Fellig certainly thinks so. Mulder lampshades it thus:
    Mulder: Now we're talking about a guy for whom the phrase "life in prison" carries some seriously weighty connotations. I think you should get to him before he vanishes and becomes someone else.
  • Healing Factor: Fellig has this as a side-effect of his immortality, being able to recover from being stabbed repeatedly over a couple of days. The ending implies that he has passed this on to Scully, as she is told by Mulder that her exceptionally quick recovery from her gunshot wound have left the hospital staff in awe.
  • Hero on Hiatus: Mulder is left out of the case, resulting in a Scully-centric episode.
  • Holding Hands:
    • Fellig takes Scully's hand after they are shot and tells her to not look Death in the eye, so he can take her place.
    • Mulder holds Scully's hand in the hospital.
  • I Have Many Names: Fellig comes up with a new name when he has to renovate his working license. He has been "Alfred Fellig", "Henry Strand", "L.H. Rice" and "Lewis Brady" at different times since 1929.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: All Fellig wants is to die. He thinks living beyond 75 is nonsense.
  • Inspector Javert: Ritter is convinced that Fellig is a murderer and is out to arrest him before Scully even joins him.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: After Fellig gets stabbed several times, he takes the knife out of his back and goes about his business with just a little pain and enough blood loss to be taken for a murder victim. He answers the FBI's call to interrogate him with the still open wounds in his back.
  • Meaningful Name: Alfred Fellig's aliases are references to historical American crime and war reporters going back to The American Civil War.
  • No Antagonist: Fellig is not murdering people in reality, and the only reason he does not come clean to the FBI in the first place is because they will not believe him. It turns out he did murder some people in 1929 however, hoping to "catch Death" by doing so, but hasn't since his imprisonment (and subsequent escape) for that.
  • Older Than They Look: Fellig is at least 149 years old, and likely older. He looks no older than 65.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The beginning of the episode shows Mulder and Scully having been assigned to make routinary calls in an office.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Ritter bursts into the room and shoots Fellig right away, who is only armed with a camera. He hits Scully, who is standing behind Fellig.
  • Retired Monster: In the past, Fellig tried to attract Death by murdering people himself. But not anymore.
  • Revisiting the Cold Case: Mulder investigates the name "Lewis Brady" that Scully found in one of Fellig's photographs and finds that it belongs to a man convicted for murder in 1929 and a fugitive since 1930. The arrest warrant was never called off, so Mulder encourages Ritter to arrest Fellig on it, 69 years later.
  • Spiritual Sequel: To "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose". In both episodes, Scully makes a connection with an elderly man who is suspected of a crime he didn't commit, who considers his supernatural ability a curse, and who can know when or how someone is about to die, but not the other.
  • Spooky Photographs: Fellig tries to get the spectral snap type of the trope and get a photograph of Death. The actual photos are more of the foreboding type because he can sense who is gonna die.
  • They Call Me Mr Tibbs: During a tense conversation with Ritter, Scully tells him to stop calling her "Dana" and use her last name.
  • Wall Slump: Scully. Agent Ritter shoots Fellig, but the bullet passes through him and into Scully (and apparently out again, as there's blood on the wall behind her). Once Fellig falls, there's a second or two before Scully follows.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: When Scully says that immortality would allow you to learn and experience and love new things, Fellig ruefully says that he can't even remember his dead wife's name. By the end of the episode, Scully is mortally wounded but the photographer takes the opportunity and looks at Death and dies in her place, meaning Scully is now immortal, but it seems like she hasn't realized it yet. That explains the psychic's answer in the episode "Clyde Bruckerman's Final Repose" when Scully asks him how she will die: "You don't."
  • You Can't Fight Fate: When Fellig demonstrates his death perception to Scully by pointing out a woman who's about to die, Scully intervenes and prevents an attack on the woman, only for the woman to get hit by a passing truck.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Mulder calls Ritter and tells him to arrest Fellig because he thinks Scully is in danger, using the fact that Fellig escaped prison and has been a fugitive since 1930. Ritter is understandably confused, but Mulder tells him to do it instead of wasting their time with math. Unusually for Mulder, it works this time.


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