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Recap / The X-Files S07 E18 "Brand X"

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Season 7, Episode 18:

Brand X
"His airways have more or less just been reamed out."
Written by Steven Maeda & Greg Walker
Directed by Kim Manners

Skinner: A form of what - "super tobacco"?
Scully: Which possibly could have created super bugs. I guess the real question is: could they have become dangerous to humans?

Skinner leads an investigation of a cigarette company who are covering up someone (Tobin Bell) who is mysteriously killing people and leaving hundreds of special tobacco beetles in his wake.


  • Brand X: Morley tobacco is a Captain Ersatz of Marlboro.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Skinner. Mulder and Scully are heavily involved in the investigation, but Skinner is actively leading it for once.
  • Evil Is Petty: Darryl Weaver lights up at a gas station despite being surrounded by 'No Smoking' signs.
  • Facial Horror: The tobacco beetles hatching out of the victims get out by climbing out and pulling chunks of their faces off.
  • Ironic Echo: Mulder turns the tables on the Morley board when they ask him a question, after him and Skinner were being stone walled on every question they had.
    Skinner: Dr. Voss, can you enlighten us as to what Dr. Scobie intended to tell the grand jury? We know it had to do with company research.
    Lead counsel: (Interrupting Dr. Voss) I'm sorry. Dr. Voss would be in violation of his employment confidentiality clause in answering that question.
    Lead counsel: May I ask where you're going with this, Agent?
    Mulder: I'm sorry, I can't. Answering that question would violate FBI confidentiality due to the sensitive nature of our investigation.
  • Lack of Empathy: Ashman/Darryl Weaver big time. He becomes aware early on that his smoking is killing everyone around him and can't be bothered by it. Only cares about what he stands to gain. Unlike most fictional examples of human guinea pig characters there is absolutely nothing tragic or redeemable about him.
  • The Sociopath: Ashman simply doesn't care about anyone or anything but himself and his cigarettes.
  • Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying: The Monster of the Week is a mutant species of tobacco beetle (they even call it by its proper scientific name, Lasioderma serricorne), but the show used the much larger (and easier to get large numbers of) mealworm beetle.note 
  • Wham Line: Not exactly a line, but Mulder suddenly coughing uncontrollably. It turns out that he was infected with the insect eggs from Weaver's cigarette smoke.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The episode came out just a few months after The Insider and the similarities between the two did not go unnoticed by critics.
  • Written-In Absence: Mulder and Scully's relatively small part in proceedings, with Mulder in particular spending most of the episode bedbound, was to give Duchovny and Anderson time to direct other episodes (Anderson the one before this; Duchovny the one after).

"Well, they say the addiction is stronger than heroin."