In Blessing, TN,
a young man, Jared Chirp, is in an old house in the rain. He
looks at papers concerning medical tests, tears them up and
packs a suitcase, all the time muttering religious
statements. He prays that he and his girlfriend will be
safe. There is a snake on the dresser. A figure can be seen
outside watching, in the rain. Jared has a gun. He goes
outside and gets in a car but a rattlesnake is in the car -
in fact there are several. The door won't open so Jared
grabs the gun and begins shooting the snakes.
Mulder has the
report on Jared's death. He had 116 different bite marks
from 50 snakes. The car was closed but when he was found
there was no evidence of snakes at all, plus these snakes
hibernate in the winter. It looks like murder, but why?
Scully says that serpents and religion go hand in hand so
maybe there's something symbolic in the mind of the
murderer. Mulder says maybe these snakes really did serve
At the Blessing
Community Church, a teenage girl (Jared's girlfriend) and
her mother Iris, attend Jared's funeral. Iris owns the
boarding house where Gracie lives. Gracie is pregnant.
Mulder and Scully talk with the head of the church, Reverend
Samuel Mackey. Mackey had his suspicions. His church is
founded on acceptance of all people and all beliefs but
Jared had belonged to a fundamentalist congregation that
practiced snake handling. Jared and his girlfriend Gracie
left together and Mackey says their former church, and its
leader Enoch O'Connor, has persecuted them.
Mulder and Scully
visit O'Connor's "Church of God with Signs and Wonders." The
door is open so they enter. There is no electricity and
snakes are loose in the building. The agents are uptight
about the snakes but O'Connor enters and moves the snakes
out of the way. He says Jared strayed from the path and his
death was a test of faith. "I don't think you people realize
which side you're on." He seems like a suspect, but the
sheriff has ruled O'Connor out, as he had an alibi.
Apparently he was in Kentucky when Chirp was murdered.
Mulder thinks that since Jared was carrying a packed
suitcase when he was murdered, there had to be someone who
knew where he was headed.
At the church
7:03 PM, Iris tells Mackey that on the night he died, Jared
called very late and wanted to talk to Gracie. He sounded
very strange, as if he was drunk and was talking about
something being tested and paying for his sins. Mackey asks her to wait until after
Bible class to hear more.
class and O'Connor's snake handling service go on
simultaneously. O'Connor opens a crate of snakes and begins
handing out the snakes to the people. Meanwhile, Iris works
on stapling bulletins for a church service. As she works,
her staple remover turns into a snakehead and bites her.
Thinking that she must be imagining that, Iris goes into the
bathroom to wash the wound and suddenly the bathroom seems
filled with snakes.
Mulder and Scully
talk with Mackey as Iris' body is taken away. Nobody saw or
heard anything until Iris screamed. Mackey tells Mulder
about what Iris told him - something about Jared paying for
his sins. The agents go to talk with Gracie. She is
convinced that O'Connor didn't do this but rather that it
was Satan's work. Mackey says that she may be biast, as
Enoch O'Connor was Gracie's father. When Gracie got pregnant
her father kicked her out of the church and his home.
They go back to
O'Connor's at 10:06 PM and split up to look around. In an
outbuilding, Scully finds an old trailer with mice in cages
and lots of snakes in boxes. O'Connor enters and grabs her,
forcing her head down onto a snake box. O'Connor forces
Scully's hand inside a snake box, but she is not bitten. He
tells her that she will be judged, and that she has to
repent. Mulder appears with his gun and makes O'Connor
arrested. "Your partner could have learned something about
herself if you hadn't stopped me," he says. Maybe some
powerful good news. Mulder replies "I'd say its good news
for you that she's not here right now. After what you tried
to do to her". We learn that O'Connor's wife, Alice, died in
June 1994 of snakebites, supposedly during a church service.
Mulder asks whether did that to his wife, as she wasn't
righteous enough for him - like his daughter's boyfriend or
Iris. O'Connor tells Mulder that Mulder is an educated man,
too smart to know any better, however Mulder tells him that
he's smart enough to know that O'Connor was a murderer.
O'Connor claims that Satan is near and says Mulder doesn't
have eyes to see it - he's just proud and fancy free. Mulder
tells him that he's wrong, and asks him what his plans were
for his daughter. O'Connor says that he just prays for her
soul because she's lost, but Mulder guesses that its because
she doesn't believe the same that he does. O'Connor asks
Mulder if he thinks that because he is education that he's
better than most, but Mulder replies that he isn't, unless
he's educated down there (points to his heart), and that if
the devil is going to make a fool out of him, he won't even
interview room, Gracie speaks to Scully, and says that
O'Connor will be judged as he deserves and nobody could
avoid that. In jail at night, O'Connor awakes. He kneels and
snakes slither in between the bars. He sits on the floor and
prays, surrounded by them.
O'Connor is in
Intensive Care, covered with snakebites. Some of the
suspicion is taken off him.
guess he's looking less and less like he's the suspect.
Mulder: "Unless he somehow managed to do this to
himself.. as a test of his own righteousness"
prevented the doctors from giving him anti-venom treatment
on religious grounds. She says that its up to God whether he
lives or dies. Scully wonders if Gracie tried to kill her
father - she grew up amid snakes and told Scully her father
would be judged. However, Mulder is confused why she would
kill the others.
residence, Mulder and Scully discuss what Jared must be
scared of, when he was packing to leave town. Scully cannot
understand how O'connor's church was exerting some kind of a
pull on him, but Mulder says that its a culture with very
well-defined set of rules - black and white, no shades of
gray. The agents find some medical reports dated the day he
died, showing that Jared was sterile. He could not be the
father of Gracie's child. Scully says maybe he was killed
because he discovered the truth.
Gracie talks to
Mackey and tells him that her father would want to be judged
and using Anti-venom medicine would interfere with God's
decision. Mackey counsels Gracie that you can trust God by
trusting in the miracles of doctors and medicine and she
eventually agrees to treatment. Mackey leaves Gracie to look
over her father as his heart monitor shows his heart beating
irregularly. Suddenly, venom starts oozing out of his bite
wounds and before Gracie could turn to run, he grabs her.
Later, Mulder and
Scully arrive at the hospital. O'Connor and Gracie are both
gone and nobody knows how. Mulder thinks that O'Connor
kidnapped Gracie, and Mackey implies that O'Connor was the
father of Gracie's baby, which is why Gracie wanted to get
away from him. O'Connor brings Gracie to his church, where
his congregation waits. He pushes her head under water as he
chants and prays. She struggles but then begins to deliver
the baby. Snakes slither out from under her dress.
In the morning,
Mulder and Scully arrive at O'Connor's church. Gracie is in
deep shock and has loss of blood. From the pool of blood on
the floor, snake tracks can be seen. Scully goes in the
ambulance with Gracie while Mulder heads for Mackey's
church, feeling that O'Connor may now threaten Reverend
Mackey. O'Connor confronts Mackey and pulls out a knife,
telling him that he took what he loved away from him - his
daughter. Mackey tells him that his daughter had come to
him. Mulder enters and shoots O'Connor in the shoulder,
In the ambulance,
Gracie tells Scully that her father saved her, rather than
threatened her harm. As Mackey is in the other room, calling
for an ambulance, O'Connor repeats to Mulder that Mulder
doesn't know which side he's on. "Be smart down here,"
O'Connor says, pointing to Mulder's heart. Mulder pulls his
gun on Mackey, claiming Mackey is the father of Gracie's
baby and that he had killed Jared because he had learnt the
truth. Maybe he wanted to destroy O'Connor by any
conceivable means. Mackey asks if Mulder were put to the
test, how would he do? Snakes appear and surround Mulder,
even crawling out of his sleeves and pant legs. He gun also
turns into a snake. Scully arrives at the church and hears
Mulder cry out. But, O'Connor tells her to stay away from
Mulder as she could not help him, the test was for him and
him alone. When she finally breaks down the door, Mulder has
been bitten and the last snake is seen leaving. Mackey is
At the hospital,
Scully reports that police have not found Mackey. If it was
test, Scully thinks Mulder passed - he is alive. Mulder says
"Proud and fancy free". Mackey is seen at another church, in Hamden, CT,
now calling himself Reverend Wells. In his desk he has a box
of mice. He holds a mouse from its tail and tilts his head
back preparing to eat it. His mouth opens wide and a snake
emerges and grabs the mouse, then retreats back into his
By Michael Marek,
Jamy Ruby, Rohan Seth