The X-files

Hell Money
Episode: 3X19
First aired:3/29/96
Written by: Jeffrey Vlaming
Directed by: Tucker Gates

This is not a great episode, or not nearly as good as the others, but still worth watching.

A terrified Chinese man runs down Chinatown in San Fransisco. In his apartment he sees a figure that warns him that it is time to pay the price. The man runs but finds more figures behind him. Later, a funeral home security gaurd sees the figures hurrying away. When he hears cries from the cremator oven, he looks in and sees the face of the Chinese man.

Mulder and Scully work with Detective Glen Chao. Mulder finds a Chinese character in the oven which Chao identifies as meaning 'ghost.' They also identify some burnt paper known as hell money, used to pay off spirits during the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts.

They are able to identify the body in the oven as Johnny Lo, a recnet Chinese immigrant. At Lo's apartment, Mulder and Scully fund blood stains under the new carpet.

An older man, Hsin, tends to his ailing daughter, who needs an operation but he cannot afford it. Hsin goes to the smoke-filled room filled with Chinese men, where a man displays a satchel full of cash and two vases. One vase is empty and the other is full of red tiles. The empty vase is passed around and each man deposits their personal tile into the vase. The man pulls one tile to indicate a man in the audience and that man reaches in the other vase to try and pull the single winning white tile. The man next to Hsin has drawn an unlucky tile and is pulled away. Later, Mulder and Scully discover that man's body in a shallow grave.

Scully, while examining the body, has found numerous surgical scars that seem to sugest that the man was selling his body parts. Scully asks Chao about a black market for body parts. Chao becomes angry when he is told that he is not being cooperative saying that because he associates with Americans, the Chinese consider him as white as Mulder and Scully are.

Chao has information that leads Mulder and Scully to talk to Hsin, the carpet layer. Hsin now has a patch over one eye, presumably from playing the game. Chao speaks to Hsin privately in Chinese and is later visited by the masked figures.

Mulder and Scully learn that Chao has been attacked and hospitalized. Hsin wants to stop playing the game but is told that he has to keep playing and the money will help his daughter. Breaking the rules would release ghostly fire that will consume him.

Mulder and Scully find that Chao has already left the hospital and Mulder notices that his blood type matches that of the one found under the carpet. They go to Hsin's apartment but only find he daughter, who has leukemia. She is afraid that her father has done something stupid in order to get her treatment and that each tile represents a body part.

Mulder and Scully find the doctor who ordered the organ donor tests. They find themselves outside a Chinese restaurant. They see Chao enter and follow him. Inside, Hsin is seen choosing a tile for his fate. He is carried away just as Chao demands that the game stop. He knocks the vases down and they realize that the game has been fixed.

Mulder, Scully, and Chao stop the doctor from cutting Hsin open. Later, Scully interrogates the doctor saying he preyed on desperation and hoplessness. The doctor maintains hope was his gift to the men. No one, however, wants to testify against him. Chao has also dissapeared but we see him wake up in a crematorium oven and seeing the symbol for 'ghost' it bursts into flames.

Important Quotes:
Mulder -- "How many dishes do you have to break before your boss tosses you in an oven?"

Scully -- "So you're saying that the ancestral spirits pushed Johnny Lo into the oven and turned on the gas?"
Mulder -- "Well, it would sure teach him to respect his elders, wouldn't it?"

Mulder -- "Looks like somebody was trying to get two burials for the price of one."

Scully -- "Do you know how much the human body is worth, Mulder?"
Mulder -- "Depends on the body."

Back to The X-files: Season 3

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