by Michelle Erica Green

Flies Like a Man, Bites Like an X-File

"Patience" Plot Summary:

In Burley, Idaho, an undertaker returns home from a late night and is attacked on his front porch by something that swoops in from above. Hearing his screams, his wife comes downstairs and is attacked as well. At the FBI, Doggett finds Scully in Mulder's office and tries to convince her he plans to take the X-Files seriously. She talks about the case from Idaho, showing Doggett pictures of the horrific bites and blood loss that killed the undertaker and his wife. The bites appear to be human, so this is a murder case.

In Idaho, Detective Abbott isn't very happy to have FBI agents sent to assist. He's not sure the killer was human; it appears to have had four toes, though as Scully points out, that could be a human deformity. Abbott rejects all of her suggestions. Doggett says Occam's Razor would suggest the simplest possible solution to the case is a human attacker, but Scully says Mulder called it Occam's Principle of Limited Imagination, and anyway they have no clues why a killer with a deformed foot would have attacked the undertaker. The two find more evidence in the attic, including claw marks and a pair of severed human fingers that smell like they've been regurgitated.

At the morgue, Scully realizes the bites look like they came from fangs rather than molars, and that they left an enzyme found only in bat saliva. Doggett has found an article from a 1956 Montana newspaper about five men who died before a "human bat" was implicated. At a nearby house, another old woman is attacked and killed in her attic. Abbott insists that the marks are not human, and ridicules Scully when she arrives with the news that the victim's daughter Ariel was found dead in the river the week before -- a daughter the mother hadn't seen since 1956. Abbott says she jumps after the wildest, most farfetched explanations and resists her suggestion to have the body exhumed. Doggett convinces the detective to back Scully by claiming that she's an expert on paranormal phenomena, though he dislikes her tendency to take logical leaps to solve cases -- that can get people killed.

Sure enough, when the detective arrives at the cemetery to learn that someone or something already dug up Ariel, he is pursued and killed by the bat-like creature. Furious deputies say they should have been hunting the creature instead of following Scully's far-out theories. She has learned, meanwhile, that the body from the river died of natural causes, but was burned to cover something up. Every murdered person had contact with the dead body -- the mother, the undertaker, and now the detective. She wants to find Myron Stefaniak, who pulled the body from the river, which makes Doggett jolt because one of the hunters of the creature from 1956 was also named Stefaniak.

Scully and Doggett track down Myron to warn that his life might be in danger, but he tells them to leave him alone. They watch him anyway, as Scully worries that she has made too large a leap. Doggett says all he knows about the paranormal is that men are from Mars, women are from Venus, but he agrees that there must be a connection between the two Stefaniaks, who are brothers, and the creature's reappearance. At night, when Ernie Stefaniak comes for supplies which Myron has left for him, Scully and Doggett chase him back to the island where he has hidden from the creature since 1956.

Ernie says Ariel was his wife, and is terrified for his brother when he learns the creature has killed four people who had contact with her body. Doggett goes to protect Myron, but the creature attacks him, leaving him for dead in the river. Scully remains to protect Ernie, but he says she has marked herself by touching Ariel's body, and the creature will hunt for her now. A noise on the roof attracts their attention. Scully shoots through the ceiling into the attic, but the creature attacks Ernie anyway. Doggett pulls himself out of the water and fires as well, but even though they believe they have shot the creature, the agents aren't sure they've killed it.

Two weeks later, Myron faxes Doggett from Wyoming to say he has gone into hiding. Scully asks her new partner if he thinks the creature will come after them; Doggett believes they shot it, and is more concerned that their superiors aren't happy with the field report. Scully assures him that he'll get used to that. Then she admits she never had a desk in the X-Files office, and will make sure Doggett gets one. She puts Mulder's name plate away in a drawer.


The X-Files puts forth another nominee in the competition for Most Disgusting Creature Ever Seen On Television, and Scully kicks Mulder out of his desk -- or at least buries him in it, as the symbolism of the name plate suggests. There's nothing really wrong with "Patience" except that viewers are losing it. If the writers need to establish Doggett, his relationship with Scully and the terms of their partnership, fine. If they want to use a Monster of the Week story to do so, fine. But tell us why Scully would care about this particular monster at this particular time, rather than continuing to look for Mulder. And for heaven's sake, give us some compelling reason why she'd suddenly decide to take his name off their cases, other than the mere discovery that Doggett isn't the worst guy in the world.

This episode has a high nausea factor -- masticated fingers, blood-soaked clothing, a creature with gore all over its black-eyed, sharp-toothed visage. Scully must be past the first trimester because she doesn't even flinch; I was ready to puke and I'm not even pregnant. No silent victims here -- we get to hear everyone scream, even Doggett. Yet it's not very satisfying, watching a bunch of elderly people and a detective get torn apart. Doggett doesn't really have to tie Scully to the paranormal to make cops look at her strangely. All he needed to do was say that she'd worked on lots of cases as unpleasant as this one.

I don't really understand why someone terrified of a bat-man started collecting bats, yet apparently didn't learn much about how to hide from them. Seems to me that moving to Iceland would have been just as effective as staying indoors at night for 40 years. I won't even get started on the creature coming back from the dead in 1956 -- the episode has the grace never to use the word "vampire," but that issue should intrigue Scully, who has met various incarnations of vampires and even sort of dated one. I'm completely lost about what happened to Ariel's body, something Ernie explained through tears that clouded his speech. But it's not important anyway, except as the catalyst that ties the murders together and gives Scully a clever theory about where to look for the creature next.

Coming attractions -- more gore, as Scully is threatened by an icky brain-destroying cult! If I were she, I'd choose to risk my life chasing the shape-shifting aliens who kidnapped Mulder, rather than dealing with gross small-town horrors.

The X-Files Reviews
Get Critical