The Field Where I Died
Story by Glen Morgan and James Wong
Directed by Rob Bowman
Episode summary by Ecksphile@aol.com
Internal dating: No date given. Presumably round about November 1996.
The camera pans on Mulder, standing in a field, clutching two old photographs side by side. In one is a young man in a Confederate uniform. The other, torn in half, is of a young woman in a long dark dress. In a voiceover, Mulder recites from "Paracelsus" by Robert Browning:
At times I almost dream,
I too have spent a life the Sage's way,
And tread once more familiar paths.
Perchance I perished in an arrogant self-reliance an age ago,
And in that act of prayer for one more chance, went up so earnest, so....
Instinct, with better light let in by death that life was blotted out not so completely,
but scattered wrecks enough of it to remain dim memories,
When it seems, once more,
the goal in sight,
A dawn raid at the Apison, Tennessee compound of the Temple of the Seven Stars is yielding nothing but fear and confusion in the cult members, and frustration in the combined BATF-FBI squad. Scully, who appears to be in charge, urges the forces to search in an effort to find the weapons cache that they have been tipped about. Mulder is curiously remote from the chaos around him, drawn to an old-fashioned leaded glass door, leading to the back yard. Scully yells that they know there is nothing hidden beyond the yard. But Mulder, as if in a trance, goes out the door and gazes into the field behind the farmhouse. He strides out into the field, then stops. He hears the sound of a woman's voice reciting Scripture - "... I am he that liveth and was dead. And behold, I will live forevermore..." - and stands transfixed. Scully looks on, concerned by Mulder's strange behavior and then she hears voices too, and runs to their source. Mulder catches up to her, and weapon drawn, flings open a wooden trap door in the ground. He finds six women and a lone man, cult leader Vernon Ephesian, crammed into a small earthen bunker. Just as a striking brunette is about to drink from a plastic cup, Mulder hurls it from her hand. She spits at him for preventing her from swallowing the liquid as he stares at her. Ephesian comforts her as they are all led into custody.
At the Command Center in Chattanooga, Skinner addresses the FBI and BATF agents who have turned up nothing in the raid. He plays the tape of an anonymous phone call, in which "Sidney", a gravel-voiced tipster, speaks of child abuse in the compound, and enough weapons hidden there "to beat the whole Korean army". Skinner tells the agents that time is short - the charges on which the cult members are being held are "frankly BS", and they will soon go free. He is anxious to avoid a Waco-like confrontation with the cult, and wants to find the weapons before the leaders go back to the compound. Scully leans over and whispers to Mulder, asking him how he knew about the bunker in the field. He can only shake his head dazedly.
When the others have been dismissed to go back to their search, Skinner talks to Mulder and Scully. They have been assigned to this detail because of rumors of Ephesian's paranormal abilities. They are to interview him in an attempt to get some clues about where the weapons are hidden and the plans the cult has for them. Skinner fears another Waco, or worse, Jonestown.
Scully conducts the interview in her usual cool, unemotional way, with Mulder standing silent and intense in the background, listening intently. Vernon Ephesian is a man with guileless blue eyes and dark blond curly hair, about thirty years old. He seems sincere in his beliefs. The cult is based on the Book of Revelation, and believes in reincarnation. He claims to have lived before, witnessing the Apostle John Mark's message of the Apocalypse. He urges Mulder and Scully to drop the investigation for the sake of their own souls.
The agents decide to interview Ephesian's wives, beginning with the dark haired one, whose suicide Mulder prevented in the bunker. Mulder and Scully sit across the table from Melissa Ephesian, who sits tense, smoking a cigarette and briefly answering Scully's formal questions in a flat tone. In a more friendly and conversational way, Mulder asks her where she is from, and she looks bewildered, unable to remember. He asks her if she minds being one of so many wives. Melissa responds by quoting Scripture. The agents press her about whether she has witnessed any child abuse on the compound, especially by Ephesian. She becomes upset and, suddenly, she changes. Her shoulders hunch, her eyes squint, and in a gravelly voice with a New York accent, demands to know what's going on. Mulder guesses that they are now talking to Sidney, the tipster. Stunned but fascinated, the agents question this persona, who accuses them of conducting "a McCarthy hearing" and mentions that the current President is Truman. Scully turns in amazement to Mulder and writes in a note: "multiple personality". Never taking his eyes from the stranger Melissa has become, he writes back "past life". Suddenly, the gravel-voiced persona is gone, and Melissa sits across from them, composedly smoking and apparently unaware of what has transpired. Scully asks Mulder why he thinks Sidney represents a past life. He replies, "Somehow I just know."
The agents meet with Skinner at the Command Center. There is no doubt that Melissa's gravel-voiced persona is the same as the person who phoned in the anonymous tip about the child abuse and the hidden weapons at the compound. Although Mulder believes that this persona represents Melissa in a previous life, he is reluctant to divulge this to Skinner. Instead, he allows Skinner to assume that Melissa is a victim of Dissociative Identity Disorder, more commonly known as multiple or "split" personality. Mulder even confirms that she bears many of the symptoms of DID. Skinner approves Mulder's plan to bring Melissa back to the compound as a psychological catalyst, in hopes that any trauma she experienced there will help to her remember and divulge evidence which will lead to more severe charges for Vernon Ephesian. When Skinner leaves, Scully, confused and concerned by Mulder's odd conduct so far on the case, takes him to task about not being truthful with Skinner. They argue, and Mulder storms out.
Back in the deserted farmhouse of the compound, Scully questions Melissa about the weapons, and any child abuse she may have witnessed. She leads them to a simply furnished bedroom, where, seeing photos of her life in the cult, she bursts into tears. She rushes from the room, followed by Mulder and Scully. When they find her, she is in a playroom, scribbling on a piece of paper. Her persona has changed again - now she is a small child named Lily. When Scully presses her for information, "Sidney", the gravel-voiced "protector" persona again appears, demanding that they "leave the kid alone - she don't wanna talk'." They attempt to question this persona about the guns. Suddenly, Melissa's demeanor changes again.
She draws herself up almost regally and gracefully glides through the farmhouse, out the leaded glass back door and out into the field. They follow her, Mulder again displaying a curious reaction to the sight of the field. Melissa is speaking in a melodious heavy Southern accent, almost as if reciting a diary entry She describes weapons and the women, she among them, being hidden in a large bunker. Then she speaks of the attack on the farmhouse and the suicidal efforts of a small band of men to defend it. Mulder looks on, rapt, and Scully is puzzled. The description has been as clear as if the events occurred the previous day Then Melissa astounds them by announcing the date of the attack - the 26th of November, 1863. She then turns and addresses Mulder directly and emotionally. "I was here... as were you.... This is the field where I watched you die."
It is night, and Scully and Mulder are driving back to the command center. Melissa is curled up in the back seat, asleep. Mulder reaches for the cel phone - he is anxious to have Melissa undergo regression hypnosis, partly to learn more about the weapons cache, but equally to learn more about how this strange woman appears to recognize him from her past, and learn about his own past lives in the process. Scully argues that Mulder is being too gullible again. He loses his temper and shouts at Scully, furious at her continuing disbelief in the face of their amazing experience in the field. They continue their journey in angry silence.
Melissa, Mulder and Scully are in the office of a female psychologist who has placed Melissa in a trance state and takes her through regression hypnosis. Brokenly, she recounts the story of a woman and her small son who came to the cult. The two were separated, and both she and the child beaten by Ephesian for a minor infraction. She begins to sob, and "Sidney" the "protector" persona reasserts himself, telling them to leave Melissa alone, that she's been through enough. He doesn't know where the Civil War bunkers are. Mulder is convinced that they can be discovered by further regressing Melissa. He addresses her directly. At the sound of his voice, the persona again changes to that of the Southern lady of so long ago. She speaks directly to Mulder, her lover in days goneby, saying that "it has been been so heartbreaking to wait" for him. She says that they are destined to meet only briefly in this life, but will meet again. Mulder is shaken and his eyes fill with tears. Melissa drops off to sleep.
Scully, seeing the effect of all this on Mulder, tries to convince him that Melissa is mentally ill, and fantasizing. But Mulder insists that he, too, should undergo regression hypnosis. "Wouldn't you?" he asks Scully. "Wouldn't anybody?" She is clearly not happy with his decision.
Mulder sits in a trance. When the therapist asks him what he sees, he is in a ghetto. He is a Jewish woman in Poland, frightened and weeping. "My son is with me; he is Samantha." Startled, the therapist interrupts, saying that she thought Samantha was his sister. He replies, "In THIS life, she is my son." At the feet of the Gestapo officer, his father lies dead - "he is Scully." In his trance, he tries to explain to a shocked Scully. "The souls come back together...different...but always together, again and again...to learn." His husband he recognizes as the woman he knows in this life as Melissa Ephesian. He cannot go to his father, he says, weeping in rage and grief, because of the Gestapo. He recognizes the Gestapo officer - Cancer Man. "Evil returns as evil...but love.... love... souls mate eternal...."
Suddenly, he appears calmer. He sees himself rising over a field, looking down on his dead body. In this life, he is a soldier, dead on the field of battle. His sergeant lies dead next to him. "He is Scully," Mulder smiles, fondly, wonderingly. He sees his lover Sarah - Melissa Ephesian - mourning him, and weeps again, grieving because "she doesn't know" that he is waiting for her. He continues to weep brokenly, declaring that "We will live again...we will live again...." Finally, he gives his soulmate's name as Sarah Kavanaugh, and his own as Sullivan Biddle. Exhausted by the traumatic emotions of the evening, he collapses.
Upset about Mulder's revelations and no closer to an answer about the location of the secret bunker, Scully goes to the county Hall of Records to research the old farmhouse on the compound. In an old town census, she looks for and finds the names Sarah Kavanaugh and Sullivan Biddle. She discovers a drawerful of old photographs from the Civil War era. Among them - one of Sarah, a serious-looking woman in a long dark dress; and one of Sullivan, dashing in his uniform.
Sometime later, Mulder is quiet and reflective after his experience. Staring at the two photos she found, he says, "Dana... if... early in the four years we've been working together, if an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that we'd been friends together - in other lifetimes... ALWAYS - wouldn't it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?" Firmly but enigmatically, she replies, "Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn't change a day."
With the time of the cult members' release fast approaching, Mulder makes another attempt to communicate with Melissa. He plays the tape of their regression experience in which they were soulmates in past lives, and has given her the photo of Sarah Kavanaugh. So affected is he by the experience, he even calls her "Sarah". She replies that she "wants to believe", that "it's a beautiful idea", and if it were true, she would want to "end this pointless life." Mulder tries to explain that the very fact of past lives means that no life is pointless, but it is too hard for her to accept. She tears the photo of Sarah in half and leaves the room with it, as Ephesian and the other cult members are released. Mulder is upset.
The cult members go back to the compound under the watchful eyes of the BATF-FBI forces. The Federal agents convene again as a meeting in the compound is called among the cult members. With listening devices, they hear Ephesian's message. Scully looks up the Scripture he quotes, and discovers they mean to kill themselves rather than to submit to the Federal officials. Meanwhile, gunfire has broken out, the "goons" of the cult firing on the surrounding BATF-FBI agents. Inside the huge barn-like structure, cups of red liquid containing poison are passed out to the cult members, including Melissa. As Ephesian preaches, the members begin to sip form the cups. Melissa has been taken over by "Sidney" again, and doesn't drink from the cup. Ephesian makes it clear that he knows that she has been a traitor to the group.
Scared that the cult members and especially Melissa will die, Mulder throws down his weapon and approaches the farmhouse with his hands raised. Meanwhile, Melissa sits up on the floor of the barn, dazedly looking at the bodies of the cult members, collapsed around her. But Ephesian is not yet dead either. He hands her a cup of poison. Gazing out the window into the field where she lost her lover so long ago, she drinks the poison.
Mulder searches throughout the compound, finally reaching the attached barn. Horrified, he find his worst fears are realized - all the cult members are dead. Stunned, he makes his way among the bodies, searching for Melissa. He finds her, holding the torn photo of Sarah Kavanaugh in her hand. Tears running down his face, he looks out the window into the field as Scully and the other agents enter the barn.
The episode closes as it opened, with Mulder standing alone in the field - the field where he died - clutching the two photographs, and his voiceover reciting the words to Browning's "Paracelsus":
"...When it seems, once more,
the goal in sight,