|The X-Files episode|
|Directed by||Win Phelps|
|Written by||Chris Carter|
|Original air date||December 9, 1994|
|Running time||45 minutes|
"Red Museum" is the tenth episode of the second season of the science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on December 9, 1994. It was written by Chris Carter, directed by Win Phelps, and featured guest appearances by Mark Rolston, Paul Sand, Bob Frazer, and Robert Clothier. The episode helps to explore the series' overarching mythology. "Red Museum" earned a Nielsen household rating of 10.4, being watched by 9.9 million households in its initial broadcast. The episode received mixed to negative reviews from critics, with many noting the episode's complexity as a detractor.
The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. In the episode, Mulder and Scully travel to Wisconsin after several teens are found wandering in the woods in their underwear with “He Is One” or “She Is One” scrawled on their backs. However, the duo soon stumble upon a strange cult of vegetarian “walk-ins.”
Originally, the episode was slated to be a crossover episode with the CBS show Picket Fences. However, the networks nixed the idea before any filming could begin. A facet of the episode, that the adherents of the Red Museum believe that the year 2012 will bring about the dawning of The New Age, is later referenced in the series' finale "The Truth", seven seasons later.
Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are called in to investigate a number of kidnappings in Delta Glen, Wisconsin where local teenagers are recovered half-naked and drugged with either the phrase "He is one" or "She is one" written on their backs. Meeting with Sheriff Mazeroski, the agents initially suspect a nearby cult, the Church of the Red Museum, which was founded by vegetarian Richard Odin. Mulder, Scully and Mazeroski attend a ceremony of the Red Museum, causing Mulder to believe that they are walk-ins, people whose souls have been taken over by someone else. One of the kidnap victims claims to have felt an animal spirit enter him.
Katie, the girlfriend of Mazeroski's son Rick, is the latest to be found, and her blood is found to contain an unknown alkaloid substance and high levels of scopolamine, a controlled substance. This appears to link her to Odin, a former doctor. Meanwhile, the agents meet an old man who points to a pair of men injecting growth serum into cattle, which he believes is the cause of the trouble. That night, local doctor Jerrold Larson is killed in a plane crash. An investigation of the site turns up shipping orders that trace back to the kidnapped teens. One of the men injecting the cows is murdered by the Crew Cut Man. The other, a peeping tom named Gerd Thomas, is revealed to be the kidnapper after the agents find a hidden supply of videotapes in the home of one of the victims. Thomas claims that Larson had been turning the children into "monsters" with the drugs he had been injecting in them, which he claims to be unknown.
Meanwhile, Rick is murdered by the Crew Cut Man. Having passed by him on the road, Scully recognizes him as the assassin who killed Deep Throat. Her toxicology results on the victims show what she thinks is the mysterious substance known as "Purity Control". Mulder theorizes that Larson had been injecting the children with alien DNA, and convinces Mazeroski to round up all of the children who had been receiving treatment from Larson and hide them in the Church of the Red Museum. Mulder tracks the Crew Cut Man down at a beef processing plant that he is about to destroy. While Mulder wants him alive, Mazeroski kills him as revenge for Rick's murder and Deep Throat’s murder as well.
Scully reports that the Crew Cut Man had no records on file with the FBI or other agencies. The material injected into the cows and children is found to be an unknown substance. All the children who were inoculated came down with a flu-like illness while those in the Church of the Red Museum did not, causing her to think they were a control group. Scully declares the case open and unsolved.
This episode was originally intended to be a crossover episode with the CBS show Picket Fences, which was set in another town in Wisconsin. David E. Kelley, the series creator of Picket Fences, and Chris Carter, the series creator of The X-Files, were talking in a parking lot and thought it might be interesting to have Mulder and Scully visit Rome, Wisconsin for an X-Files episode. Unlike a traditional crossover, the two shows would be shot with different viewpoints and one would be aired as an X-Files episode and the other as an episode of Picket Fences. Ultimately, CBS decided against the crossover and both episodes created ended up becoming stand-alones. Executive producer Robert Goodwin said of the experience "I spent days on the phone with a producer of Picket Fences. We spent days organizing our schedules. Then at the very last minute, of course, we found out that no one had told CBS, and they said 'Forget it. We're having enough trouble on Friday nights without publicizing The X-Files.' It's too bad." The Picket Fences episode intended to be part of the crossover was called "Away in the Manger" and aired the week following "Red Museum." While every reference to Picket Fences has been purged from the X-Files episode, there still are some small winks left in the Picket Fences episode referring to the happenings at the X-Files, including a mention of Dr. Larson. Ladner, British Columbia served as a location for Delta Glen, while the beef processing plant was shot in a facility in Cloverdale, with the local employees being used for the butchering and cleaning up scenes.
Producer Glen Morgan was disappointed with the resolution regarding the Crew Cut Man, saying "My feeling is that to bring this guy back, his presence should have been better developed, and he's shot off screen. I thought 'Geez, this is the guy who killed Deep Throat, who the audience loved, and it's kind of tossed away.' The episode just seems like half of one thing for a while, then half of something else. I think that was a curious choice for Chris [Carter]. He wanted to take a real left turn, but I'd rather have seen a whole episode about that guy showing up and Mulder getting back at him." X-Files writer James Wong also had a negative view of the episode, saying "I think that was one of the most confusing episodes I've ever seen. It had some really neat ideas in it, but I don't think it pulled together finally."
The episode is the first in the series to mention the concept of walk-ins, a plot device that would later be used five seasons later, when the truth about Samantha's abduction was finally revealed to Mulder. It should also be noted that the adherents of the Red Museum believed that the year 2012 will bring about the dawning of The New Age. In the series' finale, "The Truth," it is revealed to Mulder by the Cigarette Smoking Man that the alien colonists plan to colonize the earth on December 22nd, 2012. Despite the developments in the show's mythological plot arc, this 2012 reference is the first explicit reference to the date of the planned colonization, a date that is only finally confirmed in the series finale—both to Mulder and the audience—seven seasons later."
Broadcast and reception
"Red Museum" premiered on the Fox network on December 9, 1994. This episode earned a Nielsen rating of 10.4, with an 18 share, meaning that roughly 10.4 percent of all television-equipped households, and 18 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 9.9 million households.
The episode received mostly mixed to negative reviews from critics. Entertainment Weekly gave "Red Museum" a B, noting that the episode was "creative if convoluted." Reviewer Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club criticized the way "Red Museum" was written, writing that the episode, "tries the neat trick of combining what appears to be a [Monster-of-the-Week] ep with mythos; the results are intriguing, but not entirely successful." He concluded that the episode was "good" but ultimately "forgettable." Critical Myth's John Keegan gave the episode 5/10, criticizing the complexity of the plot. He wrote that "Fairly quickly, The X-Files gained a reputation for episodes that were so convoluted and confusing that few people could make sense of them. This episode stands as one of the shining examples of that trend, and it’s only appropriate that the episode was written by Chris Carter."
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