Christmas Carol (The X-Files)

Christmas Carol (The X-Files)
"Christmas Carol"
The X-Files episode
Christmas Carol TXF.jpg
One of various dreams of Melissa and Dana Scully
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 6
Directed by Peter Markle
Written by Vince Gilligan
John Shiban
Frank Spotnitz
Production code 5X05
Guest stars
Episode chronology
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"Christmas Carol" is the sixth episode of the fifth season of American science fiction television series The X-Files. It was written by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz, and directed by Peter Markle. It aired in the United States on December 7, 1997 on the Fox network. The show centers on FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. In this episode, Agent Scully, on Christmas vacation with her family, receives a mysterious phone call that leads her to a case involving a little girl that she believes to be the daughter of her dead sister, Melissa. It is the first of a two-part story that concludes with episode seven, "Emily".



Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and her mother visit her brother Bill and his pregnant wife Tara around Christmas time. Scully answers the phone, and the person on the other line, who sounds just like her dead sister Melissa, tells her that someone needs her help. Scully traces the call to a nearby home in San Diego where a group of cops are investigating the suicide of a woman, Roberta Sim. The lead detective, Kresge, tells Scully that it was impossible for Roberta to have dialed, as she died before the telephone call was made. That night after dinner Scully reveals to her mother that due to her abduction and cancer she is unable to bear children. Scully flashes back to when as a child, she hid her pet rabbit from her brother in a box, only for it to suffocate and die. Scully receives another telephone call from the same person on her cell phone, which was once again made from the Sim home. Roberta's husband, Marshall, is meeting with two dark-suited men inside his house has no desire to listen to and help Scully figure out what's going on.

Scully visits Kresge, wanting to look further into Roberta Sim's suicide, despite the fact that the police think it's a simple suicide. Scully finds a striking resemblance between the Sims' daughter, Emily, and her sister Melissa from when she was that age. Scully flashes back to a funeral she attended when she was a little girl but imagines Marshall Sim holding her hand. Scully insists on performing an autopsy on Roberta, thinking that she was murdered. Scully finds a needle puncture in Roberta's foot, causing her to believe that she was anaesthetized and her suicide was staged. The police search the Sim's house and find a used hypodermic needle, which Marshall claim was used for injecting the anemic Emily with treatment. Scully spots the dark-suited men watching from a nearby car. Scully receives DNA data on Melissa, and matching it up to Emily's finds them nearly identical, causing her to believe that Emily is Melissa's daughter. Scully believes that Melissa gave birth to her while on the west coast and gave her up for adoption without ever telling the rest of the family. Scully flashes back to when she and Melissa were teenagers and were given cross necklaces from their mother for Christmas.

Kresge comes to see Scully, telling her that the Sims received several large payments from a pharmaceutical company, Transgen Industries. The two visit Dr. Calderon, who tells them that Emily was part of clinical trials and that Roberta was paid the money to keep her from pulling Emily from the program. Marshall Sim is arrested for the murder of his wife. Scully visits Emily and gives her the cross necklace. Marshall confesses soon after, but is found dead in his cell shortly after being visited by the two dark-suited men. Bill shows Scully a photo of Melissa shortly before Emily was born, which he thinks proves that she isn't Emily's mother. Scully meets with someone from an adoptive agency, wanting to adopt Emily. The woman is very hesitant considering Scully's job and the fact that Emily is a special needs child. Scully flashes back to talking with Melissa around Christmas time shortly before she joined the FBI. On Christmas morning Scully receives the results of a DNA test from the FBI proving that Melissa isn't Emily's mother - she is.[1]


During the second week of October, 1997, David Duchovny was scheduled to be away from Vancouver for promotional purposes for the movie Playing God. As a result, the producers delayed shooting of the episode "The Post-Modern Prometheus" and developed a Scully-centric episode instead. With the episode scheduled to air during December, the three writers, who had ideas about doing a Christmas-themed episode decided to put Dana Scully into a situation similar to that of Scrooge in the 1951 British version of the Christmas Carol, starring Alastair Sim. After failing to write an episode paralleling that story, the writers decided instead to feature Scully being visited by earlier versions of herself, resulting in the flashback sequences appearing in the episode. They also decided to have her be taken on an emotional journey by her descendent. [2]

Props specialist Ken Hawryliw claimed the biggest challenge in producing the episode was finding Christmas paper from the 1980s for the flashback sequences.[2] Casting director Corrine Mays had difficulty finding an actress to play Dana Scully's 1976 self before executive producer Robert Goodwin came up with the idea of using Gillian Anderson's fourteen-year-old sister Zoe for the role.[2]

Gillian Anderson, while liking the final result, believed that she never quite nailed the complex relationship between herself and Emily, stating: "I felt in the end that I was a little low energy, a little too melancholy. It was hard to find the right attitude for Scully in dealing with a child that's apparently hers; to find the right flavor of relationship to her and this disease she's going through, all mixed up with the aspect of the paranormal. Another trouble was that she had no history with this child so I couldn't play the kind of attachment I would feel if my own daughter, Piper, were going through the same thing. [2]


This episode earned a Nielsen household rating of 12.8, with an 19 share. It was viewed by 20.91 million people.[3]


  1. ^ Meisler,Andy (1999). Resist or Serve: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 4. Harper Prism. pp. 61–70. 
  2. ^ a b c d Meisler,Andy (1999). Resist or Serve: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 4. Harper Prism. pp. 70–71. 
  3. ^ Meisler,Andy (1999). Resist or Serve: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 4. Harper Prism. p. 284. 

External links

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