Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) head to Tenessee to investigate a strange death (countless snake bites though none were found at the scene) in Signs & Wonders. Written by Jeffrey Bell, this episode first debuted on 23 January, 2000.
As the story plays out, it almost feels like a companion piece to the season two episode Die Hand die Verletzt. Not just for the snakes, but for the reveal of the true villain of the piece.
The agents find themselves investigating a church of snake handlers who believe their faith protects them, even as a number of people begin to die from snake bites. A convoluted trail leads Mulder and Scully from the snake handling pastor Enoch (Micheal Childers) and his daughter, Gracie (Tracy Middendorf) to a stunning revelation, raising the question of whether faith should be easy, or hard.
As a personal aside, there are way too many snakes in this episode, and that quite unnerved me, but again the snake imagery ties in not only with the themes of Christianity explored in this story, but to the season two classic.
It also delves,ever so briefly, into the faiths and beliefs of Mulder and Scully as both of them have to confront snakes and the force manipulating them through the course of the episode.
The only thing that really bothered me in this episode was Mulder’s outfit, not only do the seem out of place in Tenessee, but they don’t seem inline with the character. They aren’t unappealing outfits, they just seem to conflict with Mulder’s established personality.
Frank Spotnitz and series creator Chris Carter take us back towards the mythology arc, with Sein und Zeit, which first aired on 6 February, 2000, and delivers a powerful emotional blow to Mulder, and leaves us a troubling cliffhanger.
When a young girl is abducted Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) pulls the Behavioral Science Unit in to investigate and work to resolve the situation, but Mulder discovers a connection to an x-file, and ends up infuriating the Assistant Director. But Mulder may be on to something, and it may hit closer to home than he realises when he is able to draw a connection to the disappearance of his own sister.
While this is going on, Mulder’s mother, Teena (Rebecca Toolan), tries to get in touch with her son to reveal something, but, apparently, ends up taking her life before she can impart any information to him.
Scully’s autopsy of Teena suggests the woman took her life with sleeping pills, and that it was planned. She also discovers another connection to an unusual line in the kidnapper’s note, referring to Santa Claus. This leads them to a tourist attraction of Santa’s village, and a possible suspect.
The episode leaves us dangling as they arrest the man in a field of what would appear to be burial mounds. But what are the visions the parents are seeing of their children? And was Mulder’s sister abducted by this man, or was it aliens? And what is this belief that they are somewhere safe? And is there truth behind the belief that they could be walk-ins?
We’ll have to wait until the next episode to find out, but believe me, the truth is out there…