When strange deaths plague a doctor's family, Mulder and Scully must match wits with a semiliterate man who seems to have magic powers.
(originally aired March 12, 2000)
Written by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Kim Manners
James Morrison - Dr. Robert Wieder
Billy Drago - Peattie
Kate McNeil - Nan
Marin County. A big house. An attractive family, just back from an awards ceremony where the father -- Dr. Wieder, still in black tie -- received the Bay Area's prestigious "doctor of the year" award. His wife, daughter and father-in-law (himself a doctor) are all very proud. Dad-in-law is staying over for the night.
Later, in the bedroom with his wife, Dr. Wieder reflects on how lucky he is. But then he pulls back the bedcover to find a human-shaped smear of powdery dirt. They go to sleep anyway, only to be awakened by a noise in the night. Dr. Wieder goes downstairs to investigate.
He finds his wife's father is now a cut-up corpse hanging from the ceiling. On the wall, scrawled in blood, is the disturbing non-word: "Theef." (more spoilers)
"Theef" benefits from the lowered expectations set by the recent episodes "X-Cops" and "First Person Shooter." Still, the episode offers few surprises and little food for thought. The victims are the strongest point; the doctor's family is appealing and sympathetic.
Their antagonist, however, is a veritable caricature of backwoods stupidity and thus hard to take seriously. Peattie's poorly written lines and a mediocre performance from Billy Drago rob the episode of its dramatic and emotional potential. Drago's resemblance to Clint Eastwood adds to the aura of absurdity.
A lack of intellectual effort is manifest throughout the episode. Scully hardly bothers trying to explain any of the phenomena involved in scientific terms, while Dr. Wieder's proclaimed faith in high-tech medicine is clearly a set-up for a swift comeuppance. Mulder, as usual, figures everything out with implausible ease.
WHAT WE LEARN
The basic technique for placing a malevolent hex on someone.
DANGLING PLOT THREADS
Is Peattie willing to let bygones be bygones? What condition is Dr. Wieder in?
A CAT scan frying someone into a blackened corpse is difficult to explain in scientific terms, as are the other deaths in this episode.
TUNE IN NEXT WEEK
The mythology arc resumes in "En Ami". Scully finds herself in a troubled triumvirate, forced to choose between her loyalty to Mulder and the machinations of Cigarette Smoking Man. William B. Davis, who plays CSM, just happened to write the episode.
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