The episode opens with Mulder standing in a field, forlornly looking at two Civil War-era photographs and doing a voice-over suggesting memories retained from a previous life. Prior to all that, Mulder and Scully take part in a federal raid on the Tennessee compound of a cult known as the Temple of the Seven Stars. Mulder seems to recognize a door in the compound and exits into the same field, finding a hidden bunker where the cult leader Vernon Ephesian is about to commit Kool-Aid suicide with six wives, including a woman named Melissa Rydell Ephesian.
The raid took place after a woman calling herself Sidney tips off the ATF about illegal firearms and child abuse in the compound. Neither agency has uncovered evidence of wrongdoing at the compound, though. During an interview, Melissa takes on the persona of Sidney, which Scully thinks is a sign of multiple personality disorder and Mulder thinks is an invasion of a past life into Melissa. The agents accompany Melissa back to the compound, where Melissa takes on the personality of a child named Lilly, followed by Sidney. After Mulder asks her where the guns are, Melissa walks into the field; Mulder is hesitant, but eventually follows. Taking on a Southern accent, Melissa talks about an 1863 Civil War battle in the field and says that Mulder was also there and died in combat.
Under hypnosis, Melissa describes some of the child abuse that occurred at the compound when Sidney shows up. She says the guns are stored in the Civil War bunkers, but only Vernon and his goons know where they are. Mulder questions the Civil War personality about them, but that personality is more happy about seeing him again and less concerned about the guns. Mulder undergoes hypnosis himself, and recalls past lives where he is linked to Samantha, Scully, Melissa, and Cancer Man. He also recalls his Civil War name as well as Melissa's, but not the bunker locales.
Scully goes to the hall of records to try to find a map of the bunker, and is shocked to find a register with the names that Mulder recalled. The hall also has photos of the two people, the same ones Mulder was holding at the beginning of the episode. Ephesian and Melissa are released after arraignment. Mulder plays a recording of Melissa's hypnosis to her, and she is sympathetic to the idea of past lives but ultimately skeptical.
Mulder thinks that under the beliefs of the cult, Ephesian will try to deny the members to the "Devil's army" of FBI and ATF agents. A bug in the temple captures Ephesian's suicidal talk, and gunmen start firing to keep the ATF gunmen at bay as the cult leaders drink poisoned punch. Melissa manages to duck the drink, but unfortunately Ephesian has also held off on the poison and ensures that she also kills herself. Mulder finds the temple full of bodies, including Melissa, who holds the photograph of her past self. The episode ends in the same way it began, with Mulder looking at the photos in the field where he once died.
Michael Massee, who plays Vernon Ephesian, played Ira Gaines for half a season of 24 and has also had roles in films such as Se7en and The Crow (where he accidentally killed co-star Brandon Lee in a tragic accident involving a firearm used in filming).
Episode Body Count
Sullivan Biddle (Civil War Mulder): Mulder recalls being shot and killed during a battle.
Sgt. Scully: under hypnosis, Mulder recalls his death and the death of his sergeant during the Civil War, and says the sergeant was a past life of Scully.
50 cult members: in discussing the efforts to shut down the cult, Mulder and Scully say that its continued operations could lead to "the potential loss of 50 lives." The entire cult commits suicide by drinking poisoned punch.
Cumulative Body Count (78/202 episodes, 0/2 movies)
Grand Total: 1,074
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