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The X-Files - 'Orison'
By Kenneth Silber
Opinions Editor
posted: 01:10 pm ET
04 August 2000


Mulder and Scully contend with a fetishistic serial killer who has escaped from prison and a prison chaplain who may have a hidden agenda.

Rev. Orison (to Scully) : "Everything has a reason. Everything on God's Earth. Every moment of every day. The Devil waits for but an instant. Asit is, it has always been. The Devil's instant is our eternity."

Mulder (about the Reverend): "Maybe he unleashed something he couldn't control. Maybe he thought he was opening the doors of perception -- but then unwittingly he opened the gates of Hell."

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Spoilers: The X-Files - 'Orison'

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Additional credits

Scott Wilson - Reverend Orison
Nick Chinlund - Donnie Pfaster
written by Chip Johannessen
directed by Rob Bowman

What happened

"God's love will set you free!" shouts a prison chaplain to a roomful of prisoners, most of whom seem enthusiastic about this idea. However, one prisoner sits in grim silence.

Soon, in the prison workshop, this prisoner makes his escape through the extremely simple method of casually walking out while guards are distracted by a bloody injury to another prisoner's hands. This scene happens in strange, slow motion.

That morning, Scully is awakened by a gust of wind in her bedroom. The clock, oddly, says 6:66.... (more extensive spoilers)


"Orison" rises above its origins in the depressing, hackneyed genre of serial-killer dramas. The episode combines a fast pace with a richly gloomy mood, and even serves to blur the all-too-sharp distinction between standalone X-Files stories and the series' "mythology arc."

Although there's no mention of aliens in the episode, one may note an intriguing parallel between the temporal or mental phenomena depicted here and the "lost time" reported in certain alien abductions.

Notably, Donnie's ability to morph into a Satanic figure raises anew the possibility that the extraterrestrial influx is entangled with a supernatural struggle of truly Biblical proportions.

The role reversal of Mulder as skeptic and Scully as believer -- manifest whenever traditional religion is involved -- further heightens such suspicions, making for a refreshing change from the agents' standard interaction.

Dangling plot threads

Could Donnie's transformation in front of the Reverend have been a mental trick, one deriving from neurological properties similar to those Mulder thinks are the cause of the Reverend's own capabilities?

Or was it the genuine article -- a manifestation of hellish powers on Earth? And if so, do the aliens again have reason to be concerned that potent forces not under their own control are operating on the planet they hope to dominate?

Reality check

Mainstream science would be skeptical of any notion that increased blood flow could account for the phenomena depicted here -- and even more skeptical of an alternative, supernatural explanation.

Tune in next week

A stage magician turns up dead after revealing his ability to turn his head completely around in "The Amazing Maleeni".

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