X-Files Flashback: ‘Irresistible’

Season 2, Episode 13
Director: David Nutter
Writer: Chris Carter

Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

                       – From the musical Hair

The two strongest aspects of “Irresistible” are clearly Gillian Anderson’s towering performance and the exceptionally creepy performance of Nick Chinlund as the non-supernatural villain of the episode, Donnie Pfaster. Despite its relatively straightforward narrative, there are few episodes as basically unsettling with The X-Files, proving again that you don’t need monsters or creepy kids to shake viewers expectations and tap their deepest fears.

The prologue takes place at the funeral of a young girl where Pfaster works in the funeral home. As the body is being stored for burial the next day, Pfaster has the opportunity to sneak in later that night and cut the dead girl’s hair. He is discovered and fired, but no police are called for this disturbing indiscretion. Mulder and Scully are involved to investigate a similar series of cases where dead bodies are dug up out of their graves, and their hair and fingernails are similarly cut. Scully’s reactions to the crime are strong, yet she hides them from Mulder. We later find out through Scully’s therapy session that she is afraid of exposing her fear to Mulder because she doesn’t want him to think he has to constantly protect her.

Meanwhile, Pfaster skulks around, eventually graduating to live victims before killing them and dumping their bodies. Arrested for nearly assaulting a woman in his night class, Pfaster sees Scully at the jail and becomes obsessed with her. He kidnaps her later in the episode, but she puts up a struggle and is eventually rescued by Mulder and local law enforcement. Scully collapses into Mulder’s arms, crying, and we close with Mulder eerily describing the horrors of the mundane – how those who cause the most harm could appear anywhere, anytime.

Pfaster’s character most immediately feels like a call-back to Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs in his awkward interactions with women and affected speech patterns. Yet, he does have ties to other serial killers throughout history including Ted Bundy and, as mentioned in “Irresistable,” Jeffrey Dahmer. Nick Chinlund has clearly studied these serial killers and developed a performance that excels in its blandness, exactly what you want out of the role. Anderson, on the other hand, is given some of her most emotional material to date, rivaling “Beyond the Sea” in terms of a deep-dive into the mind and soul of Dana Scully. This episode probably provides the closest interaction between the two leads when Scully collapses into Mulder’s arms crying. Their relationship and love for each other is clearly there, and it comes out in a concentrated display of Scully’s new vulnerability thanks to the alien abduction and near-death experience.

Also, on a personal note, I gagged profusely at Pfaster’s disgusting collection of hair, particularly in the scene where he digs through a family’s trashcan and practically makes love to a giant hairball. Clearly, this is a deeply disturbed individual. I mean, who likes hairballs? Serial killers, apparently.

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