Conduit (The X-Files)

Conduit (The X-Files)
The X-Files episode
Kevin Morris
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 4
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Alex Gansa
Howard Gordon
Production code 1X03
Original air date October 1, 1993
Running time 43 minutes
Guest stars
  • Charles Cioffi as Scott Blevins
  • Carrie Snodgress as Darlene Morris
  • Joel Palmer as Kevin Morris
  • Taunya Dee as Ruby Morris
  • Shelley Owens as Tessa
  • Michael Cavanaugh as Sheriff
  • Don Thompson as Holtzman
  • Don Gibb as Kipp
  • Akiko Morison as Leza Atsumi
  • Anthony Harrison as Fourth Man
  • Glen Roald as M.E. Worker
  • Mauricio Mercado as Coroner
Episode chronology
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"The Jersey Devil"
List of season 1 episodes
List of The X-Files episodes

"Conduit" is the fourth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on October 1, 1993. It was written by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, directed by Daniel Sackheim, and featured a guest appearance by Carrie Snodgress as the mother of an abducted teenager. The episode, although not directly tied to the series' ongoing story arcs, provides more information on how Fox Mulder's younger sister, Samantha Mulder, had been abducted as a child; a plot thread which would go on to become one of the more prominent of the series.

When investigating the possible alien abduction of a teenage girl, FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) find that the missing girl's younger brother may be capable of receiving satellite transmissions, and that her mother may also have been party to a UFO encounter over twenty years earlier. Mulder finds himself becoming emotionally attached to the case due to its similarities to his own childhood experiences, when his younger sister Samantha was abducted from their home.



After a bright flash of light at Lake Okobogee [sic] National Park in Sioux City, Iowa, teenager Ruby Morris vanishes while camping with her mother and younger brother. In Washington D.C., Blevins tells Scully that Mulder has requested travel expenses to Sioux City because of a tabloid headline on the aforementioned disappearance. He also shows Scully an X-File on Mulder's sister Samantha, who vanished 21 years earlier. When Scully asks Mulder about the travel expenses, he tells Scully that Sioux City was the subject of UFO sightings in 1967 and that Ruby's mother Darlene was one of the witnesses.

On arriving at Sioux City, the agents meet Darlene and her son Kevin. Mulder observes Kevin writing down zeroes and ones resembling binary code on a piece of paper; Kevin claims they are coming from the static on the TV screen. While waiting for an analysis of what Kevin has written down, the agents meet with the sheriff, who tells them that Ruby has a history of misbehavior and likely ran away. Upon finding a note on their car, Mulder and Scully meet a friend of Ruby's, Tessa, who says that Ruby had gotten pregnant by her boyfriend Greg, and was planning to run away with him. The agents are unable to find Greg at his workplace; however, after his boss is questioned about his UFO tattoo, the agents are directed to Lake Okobogee.

The numbers Kevin wrote down are revealed to be part of a transmission from a Department of Defense satellite transmission, and government agents ransack the Morris family's house looking for any other documentation that might compromise government security. An angry Darlene tells Mulder and Scully to leave them alone.

Mulder and Scully visit Lake Okobogee where Mulder finds sand turned to glass and burned trees, evidence of the presence of some sort of massive heat source. Encountering some wolves, they discover the body of Greg in a shallow grave. On his person, they find a note in his wallet that eventually leads Scully and Mulder to conclude that it was Tessa, not Ruby, who was pregnant. Interrogating Tessa, she confesses to having killed Greg; however, she says that Ruby wasn't at Lake Okobogee that night.

Mulder and Scully return to the Morris' house, and, finding it deserted, discover the binary-covered pieces of paper laid out across the floor of the living room floor, forming an image of Ruby's face. The agents return to Lake Okobogee, where they find Darlene and Kevin in the nearby woods. A motorcycle gang appears, and as Mulder hurries to rescue Kevin from their wake, Scully discovers Ruby nearby.

Ruby is then seen in a hospital bed, with Kevin by her side. When questioned about her experience, she says she was told by an unnamed group not to say anything. Darlene also refuses to cooperate any further, given the ridicule that she faced after her experiences. Back in Washington, Scully listens to a tape of hypnotic sessions in which Mulder recalls the night his sister vanished. Mulder, meanwhile, sits in a church, crying as he looks at a picture of his sister.[1][2]


The episode was filmed in British Columbia, with Buntzen Lake being used as Lake Okobogee. Several crew members became lost in the surrounding area after the van responsible for installing signage got lost itself.[3] The mural of Ruby made up of binary code was designed by assistant art director Greg Loewen and Vivien Nishi, who hand-wrote all the numbers on the mural.[4]

Writer Howard Gordon said of the episode, "Alex and I made an effort to play to our own strength, which is character. We thought this was an interesting place to reiterate Mulder's quest for his sister. We set out to tell a simple abduction story, which was played out behind the shadows. We wanted to create an air of tension. With everything that happened, we wanted to explain what it could be. At every point, everything can be explained. Was she taken or killed by her boyfriend, who she was seeing against her mother's wishes? Is it Twin Peaks or an alien abduction? That was the theme of the show."[5] Gordon and Gansa were afraid that series creator Chris Carter wouldn't like the script, but Carter liked the script and approved the episode they wrote.[6]

Writer Howard Gordon praised the episode's ending, saying "I think we're most proud of the ending: Mulder's quest is re-established (and Daniel Sackheim directed it beautifully) with Mulder sitting alone in a church with only his faith. The story, again, was fueled by Mulder's belief and emotional connection with this case. Another girl taken from her family. And, in a way, the little boy who is the conduit, who is also perhaps touched by the aliens, is essentially Mulder. These little touches the fans seem to respond to. It was difficult for us, but in the end satisfying. It came out of frustration on our parts, and creative uncertainty".[5]

Producer Glen Morgan felt that the episode's writers, Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, "have a better character-dramatic sense", adding that he believed the episode "really helped define Mulder".[5] Chris Carter felt the episode's highlights were the ending and the realization by Scully that Mulder may not be a crackpot, feeling it was very important to the show in establishing its point of view.[7] He also felt that the episode proved effective at highlighting that the series was told from Scully's point of view, citing instances of the character "pulling Mulder back" from his fringe theories and emotional attachment.[8]

Broadcast and reception

"Conduit" premiered on the Fox network on October 1, 1993, and was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on October 10, 1994.[9] The episode earned a Nielsen household rating of 6.3 with an 11 share—meaning that in the US, 6.3 percent of television-equipped households, and 11 percent of all households actively watching television, were watching the program. It was viewed by 5.9 million households.[10]

In a retrospective of the first season in Entertainment Weekly, "Conduit" was rated a B, with the episode being described as "excellent for background" for the series, though it was noted that Duchovny gave "a performance that makes wood look lively".[11] Keith Phipps, writing for The A.V. Club, reviewed the episode positively, rating it a B+, feeling that the episode worked well to expand on the motivations of the two lead characters, noting that "the work done here will pay off well later".[12] The episode has been seen as laying the foundation for the recurrence of Fox Mulder's obsession with finding his missing sister, which would come to be one of the main plot threads of the series.[13]

Duchovny's portrayal of Fox Mulder in this episode has been cited as an example of the character's reversal of traditional gender roles—his openness and vulnerability when dealing with the similarities between the Morris case and that of his sister casts him "in a pattern typically engendered as female".[14] He represents a break from past archetypes, with his "emotional and empathic balance" providing a contrast to previous male detectives in fiction.[15]


  1. ^ Lowry, pp.107–108
  2. ^ Lovece, pp.52–54
  3. ^ Gradnitzer; Pittson, pg.174
  4. ^ Lowry, p.108
  5. ^ a b c Edwards, p.42
  6. ^ Hurwitz; Knowles, pp.39–40
  7. ^ Edwards, p.43
  8. ^ Chris Carter (narrator). Chris Carter Talks about Season One Episodes: Conduit (DVD). Fox. 
  9. ^ Robert Mandel, Daniel Sackheim, et al (1993–1994) (booklet). The X-Files: The Complete First Season (Liner notes). Fox. 
  10. ^ Lowry, p.248
  11. ^ "X Cyclopedia: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Season 1 |". Entertainment Weekly. November 29, 1996.,,295174,00.html. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  12. ^ Phipps, Keith (June 27, 2008). ""Conduit" / "The Jersey Devil" / "Shadows" | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club | TV | The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club.,13049/. Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ Bush, p.43
  14. ^ Lavery et al, p.107
  15. ^ Malin, pp.124–125


  • Bush, Michelle (2008). Myth-X. Lulu. ISBN 1435746880. 
  • Edwards, Ted (1996). X-Files Confidential. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0316218081. 
  • Gradnitzer, Louisa; Pittson, Todd (1999). X Marks the Spot: On Location with The X-Files. Arsenal Pulp Press. ISBN 1551520664. 
  • Hurwitz, Matt; Knowles, Chris (2008). The Complete X-Files. Insight Editions. ISBN 1933784806. 
  • Lavery, David; Hague, Angela; Cartwright, Marla (1996). Deny All Knowledge: Reading The X-Files. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0815627173. 
  • Lovece, Frank (1996). The X-Files Declassified. Citadel Press. ISBN 080651745X. 
  • Lowry, Brian (1995). The Truth is Out There: The Official Guide to the X-Files. Harper Prism. ISBN 0061053309. 
  • Malin, Brenton J (2005). American Masculinity under Clinton: Popular Media and the Nineties "Crisis of Masculinity". Peter Lang. ISBN 0820468061. 

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