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"One Son"
The X-Files episode
Colonists TXF.jpg
The alien colonists as seen in 1973
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 12
Written by Chris Carter
Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Rob Bowman
Photographed by Bill Roe
Production no. 6ABX12
Original airdate February 14, 1999 (Fox)
Guest stars
Episode chronology
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"Two Fathers" "Agua Mala"

"One Son" is the 129th episode of the science fiction television series The X-Files. The episode first aired in the United States and Canada on February 14, 1999 on the Fox Network, and subsequently aired in the United Kingdom on Sky1. It was written by executive producers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, and directed by Rob Bowman.

"One Son" is a direct continuation of the previous episode, "Two Fathers". While Cassandra Spender (Veronica Cartwright) reveals the truth about the alien conspiracy to Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), her ex-husband - the Cigarette Smoking Man - does the same to her son, Jeffrey Spender in an effort to convince him to work with the conspiracy. But even as Mulder is deceived by Diana Fowley (Mimi Rogers), Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) stays true to the investigation, and the two find a surprise ally. Meanwhile, the Syndicate reach the climax of their plans, only to find that the end is not as they expected. The episode was generally positively received by fans and critics alike.



"One Son" begins as Cassandra Spender demands that agent Fox Mulder kill her. Before Mulder can do anything, the front door is smashed open by a group of people in anti-contaminant suits, including Diana Fowley. The intruders capture Dana Scully, Mulder, and Cassandra, and bring them to a Center for Disease Control facility at Fort Marlene. Fowley tells Mulder and Scully that they believed that Cassandra Spender contracted a contagious organism and that she was called in by agent Jeffrey Spender. Scully gets upset at Diana, but Mulder believes her explanation. Meanwhile, Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) reports on Cassandra's escape to the Syndicate, saying that the alien rebels want Cassandra kept alive. Regardless, the Syndicate decides to turn Cassandra over to the colonists and start colonization in order to save themselves.

At Fort Marlene Mulder runs into the sickly looking Marita C (Laurie Holden). Marita tells Mulder that she was subject to experiments by the Syndicate to create a black oil vaccine and that the colonists will begin colonization if they learn of Cassandra's existence as an alien-human hybrid. Scully, with help from the Lone Gunmen, looks into Diana Fowley's personal history and informs Mulder that Fowley has been collecting data on alien abductees and heading to Tunisia every week, although there is no trace of her activities in FBI records. Mulder still trusts Diana, but goes to her apartment to see her, finding the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) there instead. Held at gunpoint, the Cigarette Smoking Man tells Mulder that he has been betrayed by his son Jeffrey. The Cigarette Smoking Man tells Mulder that the Syndicate agreed by majority vote, against Bill Mulder's objections, to align with the alien colonists in order to delay colonization. The Syndicate were forced to give up members of their family to the colonists in exchange for the alien fetus (seen in "The Erlenmeyer Flask"). Because Bill Mulder refused to cooperate, Samantha Mulder was forcibly taken from the Mulder residence. Using the fetus, the Syndicate worked on creating alien-human hybrids who could survive colonization. The Cigarette Smoking Man tells Mulder that colonization will begin once Cassandra is handed over and that Mulder will be able to see his sister again, providing him with an address to the hangar where the Syndicate members will be meeting the colonists.

Jeffrey goes to Syndicate headquarters, finding only Krycek there. Krycek tells him that the Syndicate members are preparing to be given the hybrid genes—except for Spender's father, who has gone to retrieve Cassandra. Diana returns to her apartment, finding Mulder there, and the two head to the hangar at El Rico Air Force Base. Jeffrey arrives at the hospital, finding his mother gone. However, while at the hospital he finds Marita, who tells him how to get to El Rico Air Force Base. A Syndicate surgeon attempting to procure the alien fetus is killed by one of the alien rebels, who takes his form. Mulder contacts Scully and the two try to stop the train car transporting Cassandra to El Rico, failing to do so. Krycek finds the dead surgeon and the fetus missing, and tells Jeffrey that the rebels are going to win. The Syndicate and their families gather at El Rico Air Force Base. Shortly after the Cigarette Smoking Man and Diana Fowley arrive, a white light appears around the base. It is revealed to be the rebels, who kill the entire Syndicate except for the Cigarette Smoking Man and Diana Fowley, who manage to escape in time. The next day Mulder, Scully, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and Jeffrey report to Assistant Director Alvin Kersh on the deaths of the Syndicate. Jeffrey tells Kersh that Mulder and Scully could have prevented it. He resigns and recommends that they be reassigned to the X-Files. Heading to the X-Files office in the basement, Jeffrey finds the Cigarette Smoking Man, who then shoots Jeffrey and leaves.[1]


Conception and writing

The production staff of the show aimed to create a conclusion for the Syndicate story arc because it created a "narrative drag", as many questions from the past five seasons were left unanswered. They were also looking to create a new story arc for the series, in the form of the "Super Soldiers", which were created for season eight and nine. Co-writer Frank Spotnitz said that the problem was that episodes where questions are answered are less entertaining for viewers than episodes that present new questions and theories. Spotnitz, however, acknowledged that the this episode was necessary to help explain the complex mythology of the show. He called the episode the "biggest chapter we had time to explore in the nine years we were on the air."[2] Chris Carter stated "I think if there was any trouble with the movie, it was that we promised so much that we didn't deliver all of it. I think we wanted to deliver a lot, and all at once in these two episodes."[3] The main reason behind giving a resolution for the Syndicate arc was that Carter thought the series was going to be canceled by spring, 2000. While promoting the episode, Carter said it would give many long-waited answers but create new ones.[4]

"A part of the problem" of creating "mytharc" episodes was that there were so few mytharc-centric episodes each season, forcing the production staff to put as much material as possible into each episode. The name of Diana Fowley's (Mimi Rogers) apartment, the Watergate Complex, was a reference to the Watergate scandal. As the previous episode, "Two Fathers" was titled after the two fathers, William Mulder (Peter Donat) and the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), this episode was entitled "One Son" because Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) was the only remaining son of either of these fathers (due to the shooting of Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens) and the rejection of Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea)).[2]

Filming and visual effects

All the sets in this episode was created by Corey Kaplan. Bill Roe was in charge of the cinematography for this episode. Frank Spotnitz has made various of compliments to Rob Bowman's direction in this episode. However, he had a problem with the visual effects, going so far as saying that the effects used for the alien rebel landing were among the worst ever created for the show. He continued to say that "It was one of those cases where you just run out of time, sorry to say." Spotnitz later said that the overall production values were fantastic, but that he wished he could have changed some things about the episode. The scene in which one of the Syndicate members changes into an alien rebel was one of the scenes Spotnitz wished had been done differently .[2]


The episode earned a Nielsen household rating of 10.1, with a 16 share. It was viewed by 16.57 million viewers in the United States.[5] [6] The episode debuted in the United States and Canada on Sunday, February 14, 1999 on the Fox Network.[7] On May 23, 1999 the episode premiered in the United Kingdom and Ireland on Sunday.[7] In the United Kingdom, the episode gathered 860 thousand viewers (from 740 thousand viewers the previous week). The episode was the fourth most watched episode that week, behind ER, The Simpsons and Friends.[8]

Veronica Cartwright was nominated for an Emmy for "Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series" for her role in this episode and previous episode "Two Fathers". The previous episode, "Two Fathers" earned the show's crew the Emmy for "Outstanding Makeup for a Series". The make-up crew was nominated for an Emmy award in the category "Outstanding Makeup for a Series" and won.[9]

A review from Critical Myth gave the episode 7 out of 10, saying it "was the culmination of the Syndicate arc, bringing the mythology from the past three seasons into something of a resolution." It continued with saying that future mythology episodes would not reach this height.[10] Joyce Millman from Salon magazine said the episode (along with "Two Fathers") was one "of the most coherent, [...] almost unbearably tense, hours in the series' run." She further stated that the episode gave some long-waited answers, but created new ones such as what has really happened to Samantha Mulder.[11] Michigan Daily reviewer Melissa Runstrom said "One Son" along with "Two Fathers" and season finale "Biogenesis" were the highlights of the sixth season.[12]


  1. ^ Meisler,Andy (2000). The End and the Beginning: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 5. Harper Prism. p. 147–156.  
  2. ^ a b c Spotnitz, Frank. (2005). Audio Commentary for "One Son". [DVD]. Fox Home Entertainment.  
  3. ^ Meisler,Andy (2000). The End and the Beginning: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 5. Harper Prism. p. 156–157.  
  4. ^ Pergament, Alan. (January 18, 1999) Chris Carter Feels 'X-Files' Will End By Spring of 2000. The Buffalo News. August 6, 2009.
  5. ^ Meisler,Andy (2000). The End and the Beginning: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 5. Harper Prism. p. 294.  
  6. ^ "The X-Files Compilation: Nielsen Ratings". Compilation. Retrieved August 19, 2009.  
  7. ^ a b "One Son broadcast information". GEOS. Retrieved August 19, 2009.  
  8. ^ "BARB's multichannel top 10 programmes (Go on w/e May 17-23, 1999, and scroll down to Sky 1)". Retrieved August 19, 2009.  
  9. ^ "Advanced Primetime Awards Search". Academy of Television Arts & Science. Retrieved July 10, 2009.  
  10. ^ ""One Son"". Critical Myth. Retrieved August 19, 2009.  
  11. ^ Millman, Joyce (March 5, 2000). "T H E X • E • R • O • X F I L E S". Salon Magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2009.  
  12. ^ Runstrom, Melissa (November 27, 2002). "'X-Files' DVD showcases highs, lows of season six". Michigan Daily. Retrieved August 6, 2009.  

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