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Mulder and Scully suspect that hexcraft is the source of threat against a doctor's family. 


Mulder and Scully investigate a string of murders tied to the occult. In an episode pitting modern medicine against ancient folklore practices, agents Mulder and Scully confront the world of voodoo and hexcraft while investigating a string of gruesome murders tied to the occult in the "Theef" episode of THE X-FILES

Episode Summary

By Michael Marek / Jamie Ruby / Rohan Seth

In Marin County, California, a family arrives home at a mansion. Dr. Robert Wieder, MD, has just won the Bay Area Doctor of the year. He and his wife, Nan, are there, as well as their daughter Lucy and Mrs. Welder's father, Irv, who agrees to spend the night. In his bedroom, Irv opens the covers of his bed and finds dirt in the shape of a person. He brushes the dirt away. We see a man later identified as Oral Peattie in the room behind him. In the Wieder's bedroom, Robert hears a signal from the downstairs motion sensor. He goes downstairs to investigate and finds Irv hanging from a rope, dead, his throat cut, with the word "theef" written in blood on the wall.

Mulder and Scully are at the mansion, trying to understand the word "theef." It appears to be a wrong spelling of "thief," as if written by an uneducated person. If Irv killed himself, how did the word get scrawled in the wall? Scully agrees that the case wasn't an open and shut case, but still didn't understand how it was an X-File. Mulder observes that the dirt in the bed is a powerful element in hex-craft, i.e. putting a curse on someone and murdering them magically. Scully admits that she can accept hex-craft as the intent, although she doesn't believe he has actual power. Robert says neither he nor his father-in-law had any enemies. 

In a low rent rooming house, a landlady is cleaning when she hears a noise in an apartment. She talks with a man inside and complains about the smell but he says it's medicine and offers her a poultice for her bad back. Inside his room we see that he is making little rough-cloth dolls that look almost like voodoo dolls. One that is already made is hanging by its neck.

At the Marin County morgue, Mulder says the dirt contained methane and sulphur compounds, the signs of decay. Its also known as Conjure Dust, which could be a powerful hex component, whether for good or evil. Irv's brain was filled with a disease called Kuru, once known to New Guinea tribesmen who were cannibals. The disease causes progressive dementia but is very rare. Mulder wonders if Irv was given the dirt to drive him crazy and kill himself. 

Nan Wieder finds a frame with a picture of the family missing and wonders why someone would take their photograph. Peattie is in their house with one of his dolls - of Nan Wieder. He stabs a pin into it. Robert turns down the bed and finds dirt in the shape of a human. Nan begins convulsing and Robert orders Lucy to call 911. Outside, Peattie watches the house, holding the doll in his hand, chanting.

At the hospital, Nan is in treatment and is diagnosed with a very rare condition, which was unheard in San Francisco but could happen in South Africa. Mulder says someone directed the disease to her. Robert brushes off Mulder's claim of folk. Scully says at least there was an intruder in their home and the family needs protection. Robert can't believe that all of modern medicine arrayed against a pile of magic dirt will lose.

Later, as Robert looks at his wife's x-rays, "Theef" is carved into her skull. Peattie enters and says the truth always hurts. He mentions that it was because of Lynette Peattie but Robert doesn't recognize the name. Peattie says, "ponder it awhile and its gonna come to you." After Peattie leaves, Robert determines that Lynette is not in his patient file. He does find a Jane Doe in his file that he identifies as Lynette.

The landlady knocks on Peattie's door -- the poultice worked a miracle on her back and she wants more. Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully visit an occult shop. Mulder shows a sample of the hex dust. The shop owner says it is goofer dust and it can be spread on or near the victim to bring misfortune. Giving them an exact disease, however, would require much more skill, as well as a doll with several specific items inside, including a picture of the victim. The owner says the person the agents are looking for must be drawing on the energy of a charm - a source of magic power that has great meaning for him. Unless you can separate him from the charm you are out of luck, she says.

The drug therapy being used on Nan is working well and she feels much better, although she has contracted a very rare disease. She is about to have an MRI and her husband says it is no more radiation than a dental x-ray. Peattie is in the hospital and buys microwave popcorn from a vending machine in the hospital. He then puts a doll into the microwave and Nan is burned to death by radiation. Man removes the doll - removes a picture of Nan from it and says "all done."

Robert talks with the agents and wonders how somebody orchestrate this. There was no malfunction and he now believes his wife was murdered. "THEEF" was found written on his wife's chest. He tells Mulder and Scully about Lynette Peattie. He treated her last October after she was brought to the hospital with many other people injured in a bus rollover. She was the worst hurt and in triage everyone knew she was dying. When he saw that he could not help her and that she was in agony, he gave her morphine - lots of it. In effect, he shortened her life by 20 minutes, because of the condition she was in. Mulder thinks the murderer must be Lynette's father. He thinks Robert robbed him of her daughter and now he's robbing him of her family. Scully determines that Lynette had no Social Security number and only showed up once in the public records, in 1981 when her father refused to allow her to inoculated for Polio in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia.

Lynette's grave is exhumed. Mulder thinks Peattie's magic charm is her body - as long as it is there in the bay area he remains powerful, but if they ship it off the Quantico, he will lose his power. When the coffin is opened, however, there is no body in it. The landlady returns to Peattie's apartment for another poultice - he doesn't come to the door so she enters. There is a lump on the bed under the sheet - suspicious, she looks and it is a long-dead body. Peattie sneaks up behind her.

Scully takes Robert and Lucy to a cabin to get them out of their mansion and protect them. While Mulder waits at the mansion for Peattie to arrive he sees a news account of a 56 year old woman who contracted a rare flesh-eating disease. Mulder's suspicion is triggered by the rare disease and rushes to Peattie's apartment. Peattie is gone but the body is still in the bed, missing the head. Mulder alerts Scully that Peattie took as much of the magic charm with him as he could carry. Mulder promises that he is on his way to join Scully and the Wieders. Peattie, however, is already outside the cabin and tells his daughter's head, "Soon. Very Soon." He breaks a window of Scully's car. Inside the cabin, Scully hears the noise and draws her gun to guard the door. Peattie finds Scully's FBI security pass in the glove compartment and sews her picture into a doll. He pokes nails into the doll's eyes and leaves it on the driveway . Immediately Scully can't see. Peattie breaks down t he door and Scully fires but misses him. He takes her gun away and she is helpless. Peattie comes in to kill Robert and Lucy. Robert tells him that he is sorry for his loss, but that Pettie's daughter was dying and was in a lot of pain and he tried to take the pain away.

Peattie just says that he killed her and he'll show him what he can do. He stabs a knife into a doll and Robert experiences intense pain. Scully has her gun and fires at Peattie, disabling him. Mulder has driven up, found the broken window of Scully's car and found the doll of her inside. He removed the nails, allowing her to see again, find the gun and aim it.

At the medical center, Mulder and Scully talk. Lynette's body is on it's way back to West Virginia. Her father is in Intensive Care. Scully admits that would have done the same as Robert if she was sure she couldn't save Lynette's life. Mulder agrees with her and says that it seems pretty clear out. However, Scully tells him maybe it's not. Mulder guesses correctly that she's wondering if maybe Peattie could have saved his daughter's life. She doesn't answer him, but he looks in his eyes and then leaves. Mulder: "You do keep me guessing".

Episode Information

David Duchovny Special Agent Fox Mulder
Gillian Anderson Special Agent Dana Scully
James Morrison Dr. Robert Wieder
Kate McNeil Nan Wieder
Cara Jedell Lucy Wieder
Tom Dahlgren Dr. Irving Thalbro
Sage Allen Landlady
Billy Drago Mr. Peattie
Matthew Sutherland Records Clerk
Pamela Gordon Proprietor
Dylan Kussman Med Student
Aaron Braxton Radiology Tech
Michael Sidney Security Guard
Leah Sanders Report # 1
Mark Thompson Report # 2

Air Date: 12th March 2000
Shooting Started: 19th January 2000

Written by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Kim Manners


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