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Agents Scully and Doggett investigate the reappearance of a young boy kidnapped ten years ago, who returns to his family having not aged at all. Doggett takes a very personal interest in the case, and he and Scully discover that although the boy appears to be normal, things are not what they seem.


Episode Summary
By Michael Marek & Jamie Ruby

At an outdoor elementary school fair in Dexter, Oklahoma, September 21st 1990, children play, ride on a pony carousel and have fun. A boy on a swing calls to his Mom to watch him, but she is talking with a friend. When Mom looks again, the boy is gone from the swing. She looks, calling to him in distress, but can't find him. A young man has been watching the boy, and is seen to dispose of the child's backpack.

Ten years later -- Mrs. Underwood arrives at school and her son, Josh, tells her "they are looking for you." Several men in suits are standing near the swings. She asks them whats wrong, but none of them answer. They separate and she sees her first son, Billy, in the swing. He is no older then he was when he disappeared and will not speak. Scully and Doggett arrive to investigate.

There was never even a suspect in Billy's disappearance. He is healthy and seven years old. Billy's parents want to take him home, but Doggett goes in to talk with Billy first. Doggett tells Billy he's talked with many children who have been hurt. Sometimes the hurt starts to go away when you start talking about it. Doggett asks about the man who took Billy and shows him the backpack. Billy reaches for the backpack but Doggett holds onto the backpack, asking for the name first. Mrs. Underwood gets angry and takes Billy away.

Scully yells at Doggett for what he did and asks him whether he thinks its a game. He tells her that itís a serious game that they have to win. He says that he worked on a child abduction task force, and knows the horror stories, but the kid can help them. She tells him that it isnít just a horror story. It is a biological impossibility. He says that thatís her area of expertise. He just wants to put the person who did it out of business. He says that Billy did not just show up. He got away or was let go, and if he can talk he can tell them by who, or he can look at photos in the files and point to the man who did it so it doesnít happen to some other little boy. Scully tells him that he is ignoring the fact that Billy is still seven years old. He asks her if ďfailure to thriveĒ is the term. He asks if there arenít diseases that delay puberty and so on. She tells him that Billy is not sick. Doggett replies ďGood. Then he can talk.Ē

At the Underwood home, the family dog, a German Sheppard named Sparky, becomes agitated around Billy. At the hospital, Scully concludes that Billy is the same boy who was taken, with no evidence of even the slightest medical changes from his last medical examination ten years ago. There are no cavities, he still has four baby teeth. His cell counts, enzymes and hormone levels are all exactly the same as they were 10 years back.

Scully: There are X-Files cases that describe similar paranormal findings, alien abductees, who came back with anomalous medical stats.
Doggett: You know, these words Ė anomalous, supernatural, paranormal Ė they purport to explain something by not explaining it. Itís lazy.

Scully tells him that she's not saying that she can explain it, but it is definitely not normal. Doggett is looking at the records of the young man from the teaser, a high school dropout named Ronnie Pernell, who was questioned and released ten years ago. Doggett tells Scully that he was convicted of possession, arson and shoplifting in 1990. When Scully realises that Doggett is looking at juvenile records sealed by the court which Doggett is not supposed to have and that he's breaking the law by accessing them, Doggett tells her that he wants to catch the guy, whatever it takes.

At Billy's home at night, Billy leaves his bed and hears his parents talking about him. Josh is afraid of Billy. Billy enters Josh's room carrying a knife.

Doggett approaches the mobile home where Ronnie Pernell lives. Pernell drives up as he is there. Pernell remembers being questioned about Billy. Doggett wants to take him to see Billy now and "see what Billy says." Pernell wants to be left alone. Back in his car, Doggett takes a photograph of a young boy out of his wallet and contemplates it.

Mrs. Underwood finds Josh - the knife is stuck in the bed and there is blood, but Josh is OK. Investigation shows that the blood is Billy's, although neither child was not cut. The parents have never seen the knife before, but the prints on it are Billy's. Scully thinks that Billy should be removed from the household so that he can be observed. Doggett, however, thinks Billy should stay at home. She tells him that he is not a normal child, and it is not a normal act. Doggett tells her that she sounds like she thinks heís possessed. He says that heís a kid whoís been through a lot, and to give him a chance. He asks how she knows that heís not trying to communicate something. She asks what the message is. He just looks down. Scully tells him that he is a kid, but heís a kid who materialized out of this air unaged. She asks him if he doesnít recognize how strange it is.

They notice that the knife has a symbol on it. The sheriff recognizes that the same symbol was identified by a police psychic, Sharon Pearl, ten years ago during the investigation, when they were trying everything to find the boy. Scully recognizes the symbol immediately as a shape Billy has been drawing. It has five lines radiating out from a central point in a star shape.

Mom gently asks Billy to help them understand what he is going through so that they can move forward and put whatever happened, behind them. She wants him to see a child psychologist, but as Dad begins to back the family van out of the driveway, Billy is suddenly not in the van anymore. He is upstairs in Josh's room.

Ronnie leaves his girlfriend's trailer home. Another boyfriend drives up and hassles Ronnie. Ronnie walks through the woods. He digs with a spade that is buried under leaves and finds a human skull.

At the Underwood home, Scully and Doggett bring in the psychic, Sharon Pearl. Billy's Father takes Josh out of the house. When she meets Billy she gets an immediate impression of powerful forces working through Billy and drawing him to his brother. She also feels a force, coming through Doggett. She tells him that he has lost someone just like Billy. The psychic convulses and the star mark appears on her forehead. An ambulance takes Sharon away. Scully asks Doggett about what she said. He thinks it was an act. Scully taped the psychic readings [when she was convulsing] and when she plays the tape backwards, you can hear a child singing. Scully quietly sings the song along with the voice.

Ronnie is threatened by another boyfriend of his girlfriend, who says he knows what Ronnie has buried in the woods and what he [Ronnie] did to the boy. Ronnie drives to the Underwood residence where Scully and Doggett observe him arrive. Suddenly Billy is in the car with Ronnie. Doggett approaches the car to find out what Ronnie is doing there and sees Billy in the car, assuming a kidnapping. Ronnie drives off and Scully, in the agent's car pursues, soon stopping Ronnie's car. Doggett runs up. Ronnie gets out of the car but Billy is not there. Doggett slams Ronnie against the car, but Ronnie can't explain it.

Meanwhile, Josh is on the Underwood's van with his dad, who goes into a gas station to pay. Josh sees a man leading a pony to a horse trailer and walks over to see the pony. He reaches into the trailer and someone grabs his hands and holds him. Cameras show the side of the trailer. It says - Al's Pony Ride Along, on it there is the same star symbol.

Ronnie is questioned at the police station. Before Doggett goes to question him, Scully tells him "Count to ten, Agent Doggett". Doggett is convinced that Billy was in the car, even though he was also known to be in his home at the time. Police report to the agents that Josh has disappeared. Doggett questions Ronnie again, who says he knows what Doggett is going to ask, but he has no answer. Doggett says that Ronnie went to the house to get Billy back. Ronnie tells him that he's wrong and that he didn't know how Billy got into his car. He went to the house because he didn't believe that Billy was there.

In Ronnie's mind, he sees Billy swinging and he is there watching him holding a hypodermic needle. Ronnie asks to see Billy, but Doggett tells him that Ronnie wanted to get Billy back and where did he keep Billy for all those years. In Ronnie's mind he sees a bound & gagged Billy. Doggett says that Ronnie is sorry he let Billy go, but Ronnie says that he couldn't let him go. In Ronnie's mind he sees himself singing to Billy [in the same singing voice as before]. He brings a knife to Billy's hands, ready to free him, but he turns to see someone behind him. Ronnie claims that he took care of Billy, he sang to him so that he wont be afraid. Doggett asks more questions. What was Billy afraid of? Is Ronnie a victim too?

Police, including Scully and Doggett, raid the home of the operator of the pony carousel that night. We see that the star symbol is the shape of the pony carousel and also the logo of the pony business. Josh is found, tied up but safe. The owner runs and Doggett chases him. We see that it is Ronnie's girlfriends other boyfriend. When Doggett stops him, the man denies that he has Billy Underwood. Billy suddenly appears and then disappears again. Doggett runs through the woods and finds the skull in the ground. Later at the crime scene, Billy's family has seen the skeleton and they're crying, looking at Billy's skeleton in the ground.

Doggett walks over to Scully and tells her that he doesn't believe its Billy's skeleton. She says that the clothes, age and condition of the bones makes clear that the body is Billy's and she is sure that the forensic tests will reach the same conclusion. Doggett asks her "What then", do they move on and let it be - case closed? Scully tells him that she's been there before where he is. She says that he feels like he's failed and that he has to explain it somehow and maybe he can.

Doggett: Not if thatís Billyís body I canít.
Scully: But maybe thatís explanation enough. That, thatís not Billyís brother lying in that grave too. That that man who did this is never gonna to be able to do it again. Isnít that what you wanted, Agent Doggett?
Doggett: Agent Scully, donít ask me to believe that this is some kind of justice from beyond the grave.
Scully: All Iím saying is that maybe you succeeded, whether youíre willing to see that or not.

As Scully walks away, Doggett looks at Billy's crying parents.


Episode Cast & Information

Gillian Anderson Special Agent Dana Scully
Robert Patrick Special Agent John Dogget
Jake Fritz Luke Doggett [photograph]

Written by David Amann
Directed by Richard Compton

Aired on: 3rd Decemberr 2000


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