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"Demons" is one of those confusing episodes that forces you to watch it a couple times just to catch the full range of the story. After reviewing the episode far too many times for a semi-sane person to admit I think I've finally got a handle on it.

It all begins with Samantha (which is somewhat fitting since Samantha seems to be the crux of Mulder's existence anyway). Clad in pajamas and circled by bright, flashing, primary-colored lights she approaches Mulder. He awakes, gives her a wide-eyed stare then looks down from a loft and sees the young version of his parents violently arguing about something. Samantha looks scared and Mulder looks bewildered, particularly when he morphs into his young 12-year-old self.

Suddenly the lights cease flashing and the adult Mulder wakes up on the floor of a Providence, Rhode Island hotel room. He's sweating more than a Bulgarian wrestler on steroids, but he's less concerned with body excretion and more worried about the bloodstains on his white shirt. He fumbles for the phone and calls Scully -- it's 4:50 a.m. on a Sunday.

By 6:15 a.m. Scully is at the hotel (I hope she took a plane because it's physically impossible to drive from Washington, D.C. to Providence, Rhode Island in under two hours). She finds Mulder in the shower, curled in a fetal position and suffering from shock. The blood on his shirt and the missing rounds from his pistol are also suspect, but Mulder once again ignores the fact that Scully has a medical degree and blindly decides to investigate.

Fortunately they've got a starting point. In his stupor, Mulder somehow grabbed a set of keys and a car registered to David and Amy Cassandra. The two agents travel to the Cassandra's home where they meet up with a concerned housekeeper and a whole bunch of paintings of the same house. The Cassandras aren't home, but Mulder recognizes that house from somewhere. The housekeeper tells them where they can find it, Mulder remembers that his parent's used to have a summer home in the same area and they quickly get on their way.

It's doubtful Mulder visited the house anytime recently because it's overgrown and has that "Fall of the House of Usher" mystique. Despite the jungle-like front yard, it makes an impression on Mulder, knocks him to the ground and sends him swirling into another bright-light flashback. In this one he sees his parents fighting again, but Cancer Man is also there and we clearly hear him refer to Mulder as a "little spy."

Mulder wakes up, Scully looks concerned and once again Mulder ignores her warnings about death. They go inside the dilapidated house where they find the Casandras sprawled on the floor, dead from execution-style gunshot wounds to the chest. When the local police show up and discover that Mulder had the dead folks' blood on his shirt they feel the need to incarcerate the agent. Scully tries to convince them otherwise, but the lack of exonerating evidence doesn't bode well for Mulder.

Down at the station Detective Curtis arrests Mulder after preliminary forensic evidence fingers him as the murderer. Scully does her autopsy thing on Amy Cassandra and discovers a lovely scab just under the dead woman's hairline. The toxicology report shows that Amy Cassandra had Ketamine in her system, which would be fine if she were a cat, but the presence of a veterinary anesthetic gives Scully the patented "Worried Scully Look." Traces of the same drug turn up in Mulder's system, which explains his hallucinogenic flashbacks. Something is most definitely amiss.

Scully pleads her case to Detective Curtis, but he's unswayed. She turns to leave the police station, ready to step up her own investigation, but her departure is held-up when a gun shot rings out. Rushing back to the cells she finds a dead police officer who successfully sent himself to the hereafter. The officer is also sporting a hairline scab, prompting Scully to do a little grunt work.

An investigation of the dead officer's apartment turns up a disturbing hobby -- he removed his image from every picture he owned. Detective Curtis describes him as "a joke" in the squad -- someone who believed a little too much in extraterrestrials and alien abduction. Scully finds a worn copy of "Abductee" magazine in the officer's apartment, and the cover girl just happens to be Amy Cassandra.

Back in jail Mulder has another flashback, probably inspired by the X-Wing pilot's jumpsuit he's forced to wear. In it he's his young self again and he's watching his parents and Cancer Man duke it out in their Rhode Island summer home. He wakes up and spends the remainder of the night screaming for a guard. Scully returns the next morning and finds a now-lucid Mulder who's finally got a handle on what's going on. He knows he didn't kill the Cassandras and Scully's got some interesting forensic evidence that proves he didn't do it. Turns out the death was part of a murder-suicide. Mulder was present, but he didn't pull the trigger.

After researching Amy Cassandra's past, Scully discovers that both Amy and the dead police officer were being treated by the same psychiatrist, Dr. Charles Goldstein. Mulder is released and along with Scully he travels to Goldstein's office. They find Mulder's government-issue Ford Taurus parked outside, but when they interview the Doctor he pretends not to know Mulder. During the semi-interrogation Goldstein admits he uses obscure and slightly wacked therapy to recover repressed memories. While in the officer Mulder remembers meeting with Goldstein. He bolts outside, giving Scully a chance to stare the doctor down and whisper, "I know what you do."

In the parking lot Mulder has another slight flashback leading him to declare that the "truth is in there" (so THAT's where it is). He's suddenly hellbent on visiting his Mom in Greenich, Connecticut and Scully decides it's best if she drive. Once again they cover the eastern seaboard in record time. Upon arriving Mulder marches into his Mom's house and demands to know the truth about Samantha, his father and Cancer Man (all this while never looking her in the eye). He demands answers -- particularly who his father is -- but Ma Mulder hands him a classic non-denial denial and a swift smack across the face. Mulder steals the Taurus, leaves Scully with his pissed mom and scurries back to Providence (I hope they're not leasing that car).

He convinces Dr. Goldstein to finish his regression treatment and once again Mulder's subconscious goes haywire. Scully and Detective Curtis storm the clinic, but Mulder's gone and Goldstein isn't talking. Scully shows her possessive side once again (prompting great memories of her interrogation of Luther Lee Boggs in "Beyond the Sea") and gets the doctor to talk.

Mulder has holed himself in his old summer home. The lights are out and his glock is loaded. Scully cautiously enters the house, finds Mulder in the kitchen and is once again greeted by the barrel of her partner's gun. The camera cuts away, seven shots ring out and when the view returns we see that Mulder has unloaded a clip into the wall opposite Scully, reminding us all that nothing quiets demons from the past like a high-powered pistol.

"Demons" is an interesting episode but when you really look at it it didn't gives us much. Oh well, I'm sure it all fits together somehow. Besides, what fun would it be if they gave us all the answers?

Note: This review originally appeared at It's reprinted here for archival purposes.

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