The FBI has a man
and wife in protective custody in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina, and Skinner is supervising the scene. The husband,
Jim Scobie, is a biochemist with Morley Tobacco Company, and
is getting ready to testify against the company before a
grand jury. During the evening, he coughs frequently and
viewers see that a bug slips out of his mouth and into a
water glass. After 4am the wife wakes up and Jim is not in
bed. He is found in the bathroom, dead, with blood all over
his neck and upper chest and the flesh in those areas
seemingly eaten away.
Mulder and Scully
arrive at the scene the next day. Skinner is taking heat
from his superiors. From his photo it looks as is his skin
had been stripped or eaten away. (Mulder: "Can't blow a
whistle with a mouth like that") Mulder finds it very
surprising that Dr. Scobie and his wife weren't smokers.
he finds the dead bug in the water glass. While Scully does
an autopsy, Mulder and Skinner go to talk to Scobee's
supervisor, Dr. Peter Voss. Daniel Brimley, head of
corporate security, escorts them to a conference room where
Voss is flanked with corporate lawyers who won't let him
talk. Skinner asks Voss to tell him what Scobie was
testifying against and that he knew it has something to do
with some research. Voss, identifies the bug found in
Scobie's glass as a common tobacco beetle.
arrives home and a man accosts him. We later learn that this
man is named Weaver. He and Scobee had an arrangement and
now that Scobee is gone, the arrangement slides over to
Voss. Voss gives him 2 cartons of cigarettes. Weaver taunts
Voss about how people are wondering how Scobee died, but
Voss asks him to leave. "We'll be seeing a lot of each
other," Weaver says.
Scully does the
autopsy. The tissue damage goes all the way into Voss'
lungs. There is no evidence of acid of chemical reaction. He
had hypoxemia, the inability to transfer oxygen from the
lungs to the blood stream. Scobee essentially choked to
death. There was no evidence of tobacco beetles in his body,
but Mulder thinks that judging from Voss's reaction, they
need to investigate further.
In a rundown
apartment house, Weaver has an argument with a neighbor
about a loud TV after which the neighbor starts coughing and
bleeding. He collapses and we see bugs all over his face,
with flesh around his mouth missing.
and Scully are at the apartment house, investigating the
death. He was a transient and appears to have died of the
same thing as Scobee. Mulder thinks that the beetles killed
him and Scobie, however Skinner points out that even though
they found bugs in that apartment they didn't find anything
in Scobie's bathroom. Scully speculates that some sort of
insect-carried bacteria might have done it.
They go door to
door in the building and Mulder talks with Weaver. Weaver
lights up as they speak and says that the dead man yelled a
lot and claimed Weaver smoked too much but beyond that
Weaver won't say much. Mulder goes to the Voss residence and
talks him about the second victim. Voss won't talk, even
though Mulder asks, "how many people have to die before you
do the right thing?" As Mulder drives off, Voss takes a
phone call from Brimley asking what Mulder wanted. Voss
wants to come forward but Brimley talks him out of it.
talks with an entomologist at the university who confirms
that the bug is a tobacco beetle, but with variations. It
has deviations on its mandibles, antennae, and body
segmentation. Scully wonders if there have been genetic
changes. Scully's thinking of another possibility –
transgenomics. She explains that it’s a form of DNA
manipulation – alterations made on the genetic level. The
entomologist tells them that it is widely known that tobacco
companies have been using money for that kind of research,
for things such as using less nicotine or more nicotine in
cigarettes, or for making them naturally menthol flavored.
Skinner asks if they mean like a form of super tobacco.
Scully says yes and that it could have created some super
bugs which are harmful to humans.
Voss goes to talk
to Weaver - Voss wants him to leave town and gives him $4000
but Weaver says he has a good thing going here - cash,
cigarettes - and he sends Voss away. As Voss leaves, we see
that Brimley has followed Voss.
insect larvae filling the lungs of the transient. Scobee's
lungs were apparently empty because the bugs exited the
lungs, getting out the bathroom window. Mulder begins to
cough and spits up blood. Mulder undergoes an operation
using special equipment to suck the larvae out of his lungs,
but there is concern because for every larva they get there
are probably dozens of eggs still in his lungs. He must have
inhaled the eggs originally. Scully explains that the
tobacco beetle lives out its life cycle on a tobacco plant
where it lays its eggs. If the genetically altered beetles
that they saw did that, then maybe the eggs survived the
processing into cigarettes. They were carried into Mulder
lungs through smoke, by spores or pollen. Skinner says that
Mulder, nor Scobey, were smokers. She tells him that maybe
they were around someone who was.
Skinner serves a
search warrant on Morley Tobacco. Against the lawyer's
advice, Voss confesses. They thought they were doing a good
thing. Why not genetically engineer a safer cigarette? In
doing so, they had altered the beetles also. They had tested
out the cigarettes and everything was working fine until a few months ago when three
out of four of the test subjects in a focus group died. That
is what Scobee was trying to testify that happened. Scobee
was monitoring the focus group and got infected. Weaver was
the fourth focus group member, who somehow survived.
Skinner leads a
team that breaks down Weaver's door and finds Brimley bound,
with bugs coming out of his mouth. Weaver has Brimley's car.
He lights up before entering a convenience store. A
sheriff's car stops to check out the stolen car and Weaver
disappears from the store.
Scully talks with
Mulder in recovery. Scully hopes that when they find Weaver
they will be able to figure out how to treat Mulder. As they
talk, Mulder has trouble breathing again and quickly becomes
critical, with a bug crawling out of his nose.
commercial break, Mulder is stable again, but they can't
maintain him for long. His lungs are still filled with
larvae and they are beginning to block the flow of blood.
The doctor wants to do surgery. But Scully thinks he is too
weak and wants to wait.
at Voss's house to protect the family, but Voss is not
there. Skinner tracks him down at his office, but Weaver is
there. Voss says Weaver took the test cigarettes. Weaver
claims Skinner won't shoot him because he needed him. He
lights up (although this is apparently a regular cigarette
and not one of the infectious "test" cigarettes) and after
delaying to the last moment, Skinner shoots Weaver, wounding
him. Skinner arrives back at the hospital as Weaver is
brought in by paramedics. Scully looks at Weaver's hands and
promptly orders that Mulder be injected with a drug that has
a high nicotine content.
Some time later,
in Mulder's office, the two talk. Mulder is well, but is
hoarse from the lung suction treatment. When Scully looked
at Weaver's fingers, she saw that they were stained yellow
with Nicotine. He apparently already smoked much more than
the other test subjects. Nicotine is actually one of the
oldest known insecticides. A high level of nicotine in the
body protected Weaver, and it was essentially a kind of
chemotherapy that killed the larvae in Mulder's lungs.
Scully tells Mulder that nicotine saved him, but Mulder
tells her that its not all that the nicotine did to him. He
takes out a pack of Morley's and tells her that the
addiction is worse than heroine. She doesn't want him to
smoke so he throws the pack into the trashcan. Scully leaves
as Mulder looks at the pack of Morley's in the trashcan ..