X Cyclopedia: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Season II

34. EXCELSIUS DEI
WRITER: BROWN
DIR.: STEPHEN SURJIK
Entity rape gets this episode off with a bang, as Mulder and Scully investigate psychokinetic and hallucinatory goings-on among the Matlock set at a Massachusetts nursing home. Creative casting: Veteran character actors Eric Christmas and David Fresco as the malevolent Sunshine Boys. Critique: Offbeat and cute, largely because of its focus on a quirky band of seniors. B-

35. AUBREY
WRITER: SARA B. CHARNO
DIR.: BOWMAN
A pregnant detective's nightmares evoke 50-year-old serial killings while also instigating a modern-day imitator in the Missouri heartland. Creative casting: Deborah Strang gives a razor's-edge performance as B.J. Morrow, the haunted detective; and Morgan Woodward, as the original killer, is one chilling geriatric. Critique: A well-paced murder mystery with an inventive wrap-up. B

36. IRRESISTIBLE
WRITER: CARTER
DIR.: NUTTER
While investigating a series of grave desecrations in which the hair and fingernails are being removed from young female corpses, Mulder and Scully find themselves pursuing an ''escalating fetishist,'' now on the hunt for live victims. Creative casting: Nick Chinlund (Eraser) as Donnie Pfaster, the tortured cosmetologist with a collection of hair-care products to die for. Also in attendance: Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues) as a local FBI agent. Critique: An unsettling concept to begin with, but Chinlund's skin-crawling one-man show puts this one over the top. (And for those who have wondered if Pfaster's twice-glimpsed monstrous form implies he's an alien, he's not. ''Just your basic symbolic representation of evil,'' says Carter.) B+

37. DIE HAND DIE VERLETZT
WRITERS: MORGAN/WONG
DIR.: KIM MANNERS
The opening scene — in which a PTA-like committee votes to put the kibosh on a high school production of Jesus Christ Superstar, then proceeds to offer a satanic prayer — sets the tone for this tale of devil worship and murder in a New Hampshire town. Creative casting: Susan Blommaert's juicily diabolical take on Mrs. Paddock will confirm schoolkids' most horrific imaginings about their substitute teachers. Plus Dan Butler (Frasier's Bulldog) as one of the very concerned parents. Critique: Mulder and Scully largely step aside in this wacky, wicked effort chockful of stunning imagery and wry comment. A-

38. FRESH BONES
WRITER: GORDON
DIR.: BOWMAN
Premiering in early '95, this then-timely plot depicts human rights abuses and voodoo-driven revenge at a North Carolina ''processing center'' for Haitian refugees. Creative casting: Daniel Benzali (late of Murder One) as center commander Colonel Wharton. Critique: Not one for the ages, despite some jarring moments (car meets tree, Scully's hoodoo hallucinations, and that final shot — whoa). B-

39. COLONY
WRITER: CARTER
STORY: DUCHOVNY/CARTER
DIR.: NICK MARCK
A succession of murdered doctors — identical abortionists, no less — leads Scully and Mulder back into the conspiratorial groove. Turns out the victims are alien clones sent to colonize Earth, one of whom is claiming to be Mulder's abducted sister, Samantha. Historic moments: We meet Mulder's divorced parents (Peter Donat and Rebecca Toolan) and the shape-shifting alien Bounty Hunter (Brian Thompson), with his trusty metallic spike. Critique: Untangling this web of shifting allegiances and identities requires intense concentration. Hang on, though; the payoff's worth it. B+

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