When a teenage boy caused his two girlfriends to attack each other by creating alternate realities in which they thought the other was a monster, Mulder and Scully realize the boy is their son William, and attempt to track him down before he's captured by the goverment. You can read the full recap here.
This Week's Case File
(Ouch, That's) Cold Open
We open on a helicopter flying through Vietnam in 1969. Haley Joel Osment is there, though his character’s name is John so we shall call him Haley John moving forward. He and his fellow Marines have been tasked with delivering a crate of something labeled MK NAOMI. Things go south, though, and a young guy with glasses and Haley Joel are forced off the copter and into the jungle. But when a bullet penetrates the crate, it starts leaking a crazy yellow smoke and causing everyone to see monsters. As Haley John comes at his monster friend with a knife, the guy yells, “It’s me! It’s Skinner!”
CUE THAT SWEET SWEET THEME SONG
Gimme Some Skin, Skin Man
In present day, Skinner has gone AWOL, and after a snide comment from Director Kersh that Skinner’s entire career has stalled because he supports the X-Files (rude), Mulder and Scully are tasked with finding him.
First stop: Skinner’s apartment, where they find an envelope addressed to him, but in, like, Marine lingo. Inside the envelope? A note that says “The monsters are here” and A HUMAN FREAKING EAR wrapped in newspaper – the Mud Lick Messenger.
Mulder jumping away from that ear makes me laugh every single time.
This leads us to stop numero dos: Mud Lick, Kentucky, where the chief o’police/Director of Mud Lick Tourism tells them that people have been losing teeth and seeing monsters.
Meanwhile, in the forest, a hunter becomes the hunted when he’s chased around the woods by a furry monster and falls right into a big, deep hole in the ground that’s filled with spikes, and Skinner's face appears at its edge. Scully and Mulder are on the scene, where Scully finds a deer cam attached to a nearby tree. They take the camera back to the police station to review the footage, and to no one’s surprise, the tape shows our boi Skinner traipsing around the woods.
Back in the forest, Skinner approaches a trailer surrounded by caged rodents. It’s Haley John’s house, judging by the old photos of him with his wife’s face cut out of him. This seems chill. Skinner looks through an old military photo album and flashes back to after the gas leak, when Haley John has turned into a crazy man with this teeth falling out, collecting human ears and wearing them on a damn necklace. This flashback is interrupted when Haley John appears in the doorway, and he hasn’t aged a day since their time in Nam together.
I See Dead Dads
Oh lol jk it’s actually Haley John’s son Davey and he is NONE TOO THRILLED that Skinner is standing in his living room. Turns out, collecting human ears is frowned upon, so Haley John went to trial for all his war crimes after Vietnam, and the government "erased" him. Skinner testified against him and was forced to keep secret about the weird, government-cover up yellow smoke that made people see monsters. That’s why Skinner answered the call of the human ear: he feels guilty for covering up the goverment's secrets all these years. So Davey agrees to take Skinner to see Haley John, whose body is hung from a high tree branch. A distraught Skinner goes to help, falls in the spikey hole, and takes a spike through the gut.
Will Haley Joel ever outlive his most famous line?
After much hem-hawing about whether they can trust Skinner, Scully and Mulder show up at Davey's house. Davey has hidden his hidey-hole, and nervously lets Scully and Mulder into his house. While he's pacing the room, Mulder finds the old military photo album, realizes what's up, and they pretend to leave - then circle back around and sneak into the woods. Mulder finds Skinner, who has freed himself from the spike, just as Davey pushes him into the hole too, and Scully shows up just in the knick of time to shoot Davey, but Davey gets away while she's helping the others. A chase ensues, Skinner tackles Davey, and Davey trips a wire, releasing one of his spikey traps...onto himself.
They head back to Davey's trailer to get cleaned up and wait for the police, where Skinner tells them he signed up for the marines at 18 years old, with a blind faith in his government. Haley John, however, was drafted, and seeing what they did to him planted seeds of mistrust between Skinner and the government he's dedicated his life to. “You two came along and you taught me not to hide from it but to have the guts to shine a light directly into the darkest corners," he tells Scully and Mulder. As he leaves, his tooth falls out.
Biggest Cover Up
This Week's Top Ranking Agent
Scully gets top honors again this week for both finding the deer cam and getting there in time to save Mulder and Skinner from Davey.
This Week's Loser/Human Hybrid
Davey, of course, got the raw end of the deal here. I mean, not only did the guy end up dead by his own spike trap, he spent his entire life pretending to be a monster in the woods to avenge his father's death. Or something.
From the Bureau Survaillance Files
“It appears he may suffer from moderate to severe constipation." - Mulder
"Skinner, we are here with you." - Mulder
- So the missing teeth? Were from? The gas? I guess? It felt like an attempt to add a little mystery to an otherwise dull episode, but for as many times as they referenced the teeth (significantly more than the monster or the gas) it didn't really feel important.
- Whose body was strung up in the tree? Was it actually Haley John, or someone else? Does it matter?
- Was this even an X-File?
- Did I just totally miss why the episode is titled Kitten?
- Did we REALLY lean into a chemtrail conspiracy theory in the last four seconds of the episode???
- More importantly, did we REALLY need a Skinner-centric episode when we only have a handful of episodes left and approximately five billion storylines to tie up?