|The X-Files episode|
|Directed by||Kim Manners|
|Original air date||February 18, 2001|
|Running time||44 minutes|
"Per Manum" is the thirteenth episode of the eighth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on February 18, 2001. Written by Frank Spotnitz and series creator Chris Carter, and directed by Kim Manners, the episode helps to explore the series' overarching mythology. "Per Manum" received a Nielsen rating of 9.4 and was watched by 9.61 million households. Overall, the episode received mostly positive reviews from critics.
The series centers on FBI special agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and her new partner John Doggett (Robert Patrick)—following the alien abduction of her former partner, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny)—who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. In this episode, Scully and Doggett investigate several women who had no way of naturally conceiving but who claim to have been abducted and impregnated with alien babies. Soon, Scully begins to worry about the future of her pregnancy.
"Per Manum" featured a substantial appearance by Duchovny who had elected not to return to the show as a full-time main character following the ending of season seven. In addition, the episode marks the first appearance of Knowle Rohrer, played by Adam Baldwin.
FBI special agents John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) meet Duffy Haskell (Jay Acovone), who tells them about his wife—a multiple-abductee who he believes was killed by her doctors upon giving birth to an alien child. He also describes how his wife's cancer was both caused and cured by her abductors. Duffy refers the agents to Zeus Genetics in Maryland, and shows them an ultrasound scan that seems to vindicate his story. As the agents leave, Doggett notes similarities between the case and Scully's history, although he does not yet know that Scully is pregnant. In a flashback, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) tells Scully that her abduction (in the second season episodes "Ascension and "One Breath") has rendered her infertile, as her ova were harvested for genetic experiments. Mulder later found them in a secret facility (in fourth season's "Memento Mori"), but they were not viable.
At Zeus Genetics clinic, Scully overhears a pregnant woman, Mary Hendershot (Saxon Trainor), who is telling her doctor that she does not want to be under his care any more. In order to avoid being seen, Scully hides in a storeroom, finding it full of preserved fetuses that resemble the alien child seen earlier, but she is discovered by a doctor, Dr. Lev. Scully then phones Dr. Parenti, who is dissecting an alien fetus. She asks him to compare her ultrasound scan with the one given to her earlier. Later, while waiting to be attended to by Dr. Parenti, she has another flashback, recalling the time she sought a second opinion about her ova from Dr. Parenti, and was told that her ova might be viable with a sperm donor. In the present, she is called in to be attended to, and she is then assured her scans are in order. Later, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and Doggett confront Duffy about threatening letters he has been sending to both Mulder and Dr. Lev. However, when the agents leave, Duffy makes a phone call to Lev, warning him that they are being investigated. In another flashback, Scully asks Mulder to be the donor, to which he happily agrees.
Scully is warned by Hendershot, the woman from Zeus Genetics, that their unborn children are in danger. Scully meets Doggett and Skinner, having requested a leave of absence from the FBI. After Doggett leaves, Skinner tries to convince Scully to reveal her pregnancy to Doggett. Scully and Hendershot visit an army research hospital to have Hendershot's labor induced. Whilst Hendershot is being prepped for the operation, Scully asks to have an ultrasound performed on herself. The scan appears normal, but Scully realises the monitor they are watching is simply a video of another woman's scan. Realising they have been tricked, Scully finds Hendershot and the two sneak out of the exam room.
Doggett has Duffy's fingerprints examined, and finds that they belong to a man who died thirty years previously. Doggett contacts an old military partner, Knowle Rohrer (Adam Baldwin) to find Duffy's real identity. Although Rohrer assures Doggett he will investigate, the agent is not convinced, believing that Duffy is a CIA agent. He confides this to Skinner, who tells him to aid Scully at the military hospital. As Scully and Hendershot sneak out of the building, they are found by Rohrer and several marines, claiming Doggett has sent them to rescue her. Scully and Hendershot are driven away, but Hendershot enters labour. The women are separated, and Scully is drugged. When she wakens, Doggett informs her that Hendershot's baby was delivered and is normal. However, Scully is convinced something is amiss, but nothing more can be done about it. In another flashback, Scully tells Mulder that her attempt at in vitro fertilization has failed, but he tells her to "never give up on a miracle".
"Per Manum" featured the appearance of David Duchovny as Fox Mulder in various flashbacks. After settling his contract dispute with Fox, Duchovny quit full-time participation in the show after the seventh season. In order to explain Mulder's absence, Duchovny's character was abducted by aliens in the seventh season finale, "Requiem". After several rounds of contractual discussions, Duchovny agreed to return for a total of 11 season eight episodes. "Per Manum" marked the fourth appearance of Duchovny in the eighth season; he had previously appeared in opening episodes of the season, "Within" and "Without" as well as the eleventh episode "The Gift". Series creator Chris Carter later argued that Mulder's absences from the series did not affect the series, noting that "there are characters who can be powerful as absent centers, as Mulder was through the eighth and ninth seasons."
A deleted scene from early on within the episode, in which Scully questions her doctor about her ultrasound scans, was cut from the final broadcast as writer Frank Spotnitz felt it was too "confusing" for the viewers to place doubt on the actions of the doctor so early. Fellow series writer John Shiban said that the scene was not "subtle" enough to convey the right level of suspicion. Spotnitz has described "Per Manum" as being "a real paranoia episode", concerning "the way you perceive connections between people, what are they saying, and is it suspicious or not".
Adam Baldwin, who makes his first appearance as recurring character Knowle Rohrer, originally auditioned for the part of John Doggett, losing out to Robert Patrick. However, the crew remembered Baldwin's audition later when casting "Per Manum", and asked him to play the role. Jay Acovone, who portrays Duffy Haskel in this episode, returned in the same role in the season's penultimate episode "Essence"; and had also previously appeared in the fourth season episode "Demons". "Per Manum" also featured a guest appearance by Mark Snow as an unnamed doctor. Snow had been the series' composer since the first season.
Broadcast and reception
"Per Manum" premiered on the Fox network on February 18, 2001 and was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on June 9, 2002. The episode earned a Nielsen household rating of 9.4, meaning that it was seen by 9.4% of the nation's estimated households. It was viewed by 9.61 million households[nb 1] and 16 million viewers, making it, at the time, the highest-rated episode of The X-Files to air during the season. "Per Manum" ranked as the 30th most-watched episode for the week ending February 18. Fox promoted the episode with the tagline "How did Scully get pregnant?" The episode was later included on The X-Files Mythology, Volume 4 – Super Soldiers, a DVD collection that contains episodes involved with the alien super soldiers arc.
"Per Manum" received mostly positive reviews from critics. Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club awarded the episode a "B+" and called it "good". He appreciated the fact that the show revealed that Mulder was possibly the father of Scully's child, saying that it "ups the stakes in a lot of ways and redefines [Scully's] mission" to find Mulder. Despite this, VanDerWerff noted that the episode "has some issues", largely due to the convoluted nature of the mythology at this point in the show's run, as well as the fact that Duchovny looked "a little bored" at times. However, he wrote that the episode, along with the subsequent episode "This is Not Happening" was a showcase for Anderson's acting ability, and her performance "knits all of this together". Writing for Television Without Pity, Jessica Morgan rated the episode a "B+", deriding some of the episode's plot points, such as the hospital's locking doors, and questioning the villainy of the antagonistic doctors.
Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated the episode five stars out of five, calling it a "return to form" for the series. Shearman and Pearson also felt that the episode gave the character of John Doggett a chance to be accepted by the series' other characters; and praised the "subtle" writing of the episode's emotional dialogue. Tom Kessenich, in his book Examinations: An Unauthorized Look at Seasons 6-9 of 'The X-Files', noted that the episode typifies the basic themes of the series—"dark, foreboding terror, overriding sense of paranoia" and "the fear of the unknown" among others.
Writing for The Vindicator, Eric Mink felt that the episode was "intense, unsettling, sometimes gross, and suspenseful to the point of nerve-racking [sic]", feeling that its plot would "resonate instantly and ominously with viewers". Meghan Deans of Tor.com felt that, while the episode did unfortunately reduce Scully down to a traditional idea of feminine identity for part of its run, it was "one of the most emotional Scully-centric episodes the show has ever given us." Furthermore, Deans reasoned that the episode was an example of "what The X-Files would have been, had Scully been the believer: a woman being told that she is hysterical, a woman being told that she imagined it all [and] a woman being told that the evidence of her own body is invalid", a direction that would have been "startling ".
Not all reviews were positive. Paula Vitaris from Cinefantastique gave the episode a scathing review and awarded it no stars out of four. She heavily derided the plot, noting that Haskell's role as an "undercover operative" was not convincing. Furthermore, she reasoned that because the plot twists were so expected, Scully came off as "a moron". Vitaris also criticized the use of flashbacks, noting that they were "the only way The X-Files writers could figure out to use David Duchovny".
- At the time of airing, the estimated number of households was 102.2 million. Thus, 9.4 percent of 102.2 million is 9.61 million households.
- "The X-Files - "Per Manum"". TheXFiles.com. Fox Broadcasting Company. February 2002. Archived from the original on 7 February 2002. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "Per Manum". BBC Cult. BBC. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- "Duchovny quits X-Files". BBC News. May 18, 2001. Retrieved July 5, 2009.
- Elber, Lynn (May 18, 2000). "Fox Mulder 'Ready to Get Back to Work'". Space.com. TechMediaNetwork. Archived from the original on September 24, 2004. Retrieved July 5, 2009.
- Kim Manners (director); Chris Carter (writer) (November 5, 2000). "Within". The X-Files. Season 8. Episode 1. Fox.
- Kim Manners (director); Chris Carter (writer) (November 12, 2000). "Without". The X-Files. Season 8. Episode 2. Fox.
- Kim Manners (director); Frank Spotnitz (writer) (February 4, 2001). "The Gift". The X-Files. Season 8. Episode 11. Fox.
- Hurwitz and Knowles, p. 189
- John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz (narrators) (2000–2001). Deleted Scenes: Per Manum. The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season (featurette). The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season: Fox.
- Heisler, Steve (February 2, 2009). "Adam Baldwin | TV | Random Roles". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
- Kim Manners (director); Chris Carter (writer) (May 13, 2001). "Essence". The X-Files. Season 8. Episode 20. Fox.
- Kim Manners (director); R. W. Goodwin (writer) (May 11, 1997). "Demons". The X-Files. Season 4. Episode 23. Fox.
- Mark Snow et al. The Truth About Season One (DVD). The X-Files: The Complete First Season: Fox.
- The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season (booklet). Kim Manners, et al. Fox.
- Associated Press (February 22, 2001). "Last Weeks' Top Programs". Press-Telegram. MediaNews Group.
- Petrozzello, Donna (20 February 2001). "Blaine Dangles a Preview". Daily News. Daily News, L.P. Retrieved 29 November 2012. (subscription required)
- Per Manum (Promotional Flyer). Los Angeles, California: Fox Broadcasting Company. 2001.
- Kim Manners et al. The X-Files Mythology, Volume 4 – Super Soldiers (DVD). Fox.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (November 16, 2013). "'Per Manum'/'This is Not Happening' | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- Morgan, Jessica (February 21, 2001). "Per Manum". Television Without Pity. NBCUniversal. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
- Shearman and Pearson, pp. 239–240
- Kessenich, p.156.
- Mink, Eric (February 17, 2001). "Once again, 'The X-Files' offers little more than a Mulder sighting". The Vindicator. The Vindicator Printing Co. p. B11. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- Deans, Meghan (April 11, 2013). "Reopening The X-Files: 'Per Manum'". Tor.com. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- Vitaris, Paula (April 2002). "The X-Files Season Eight Episode Guide". Cinefantastique. 34 (2): 42–49.
- Hurwitz, Matt; Knowles, Chris (2008). The Complete X-Files. Insight Editions. ISBN 1-933784-80-6.
- Kessenich, Tom (2002). Examination: An Unauthorized Look at Seasons 6–9 of the X-Files. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-55369-812-6.
- Shearman, Robert; Pearson, Lars (2009). Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen. Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 0-9759446-9-X.
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