Friday, November 13, 2009

Season 7, Episode 18: Brand X


A biochemist at a North Carolina tobacco company dies the night before he is scheduled to testify against his employer at a grand jury, despite FBI protection that includes Skinner. The flesh on the man's face has been stripped away; Mulder notes a tobacco beetle in a water glass that the biochemist was using. After a follow-up visit from the FBI, a man named Dr. Weaver hits up a colleague of the biochemist's named Dr. Peter Voss and intimidates him a little bit in the process. Scully finds that the biochemist died of hypoxemia, the inability of the body to transfer oxygen to the blood, and also finds no sign of beetles of explanation for the facial trauma.

Weaver's neighbor yells at Weaver about his smoking in the building, and soon after dies of the same cause, his body swarmed by beetles. Mulder is pleased to see that there are plenty of beetles left at the scene, and thinks they're involved somehow. Mulder talks with Weaver, who denies knowing anything about the death; he also visits Voss, who refuses to talk as well. Voss is contacted soon after by the company's security chief, who wants to take care of the Weaver problem.

An entomologist tells the agents that the beetles are different from normal ones, possibly as a result of feeding on genetically altered tobacco plants. Examining the latest body, Scully finds beetle larvae and determines that the bugs pupate in the lungs and exit through en masse, explaining the damage to the face. Mulder coughs up some blood and winds up having several larvae sucked out of his lungs. Scully warns Skinner that more eggs have yet to hatch, and thinks they may have gotten there as a result of the superbug eggs getting processed into cigarettes, with Mulder inhaling smoke from one of them. Voss confesses that the company made the superbugs, and that Weaver was the survivor of a test group using them (the biochemist being a chance death due to his monitoring the group).

Mulder's condition worsens, and Skinner looks to track down Weaver. He finds Voss at his workplace, with Weaver having taken the test cigarettes by force. Weaver also says Skinner won't shoot him because they need him to save Mulder. Skinner compromises and shoots Weaver in the shoulder. At the hospital, Scully notices Weaver's nicotine-stained hands and thinks a nicotine injection will save Mulder. Turns out she's right, having deduced that Weaver was the heaviest smoker of the test group and that nicotine is a good insecticide. Though it may have had the effect of turning Mulder on to cancer sticks...

Tobin Bell, who plays Darryl Weaver, also plays Jigsaw in the Saw movies.

Episode Body Count

Dr. Jim Scobie: dies of a super tobacco beetle infestation of his lungs after monitoring a test cigarette group.

Thomas Gastall: also dies of lung beetle infestation after Weaver puffs away next door to him.

Three test smokers: Dr. Voss says Weaver is the sole survivor of a group of test smokers that used the superbug tobacco.

David Brimley: the Morley Tobacco security chief, dies after being infected by superbug smoke.

Humans: 6
Creatures: 0
Aliens: 0

Cumulative Body Count (157/202 episodes, 1/2 movies)

Humans: 1,717
Creatures: 114
Aliens: 62

Grand Total: 1,893

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