The X-files

Paper Hearts
Episode: 4X08
First aired:12/15/96
Written by:Vince Gilligan
Directed by:Rob Bowman

A wonderful episode.

Mulder experiences a series of vivid dreams that lead him to the discovery of the long-buried skeleton of a murdered child. Mulder is shaken, recognizing the M.O. of serial killer John Lee Roche, one of the first killers Mulder profiled. Between 1979 and 1990, Roche abducted girls between the ages of 8 and 10 from their homes, strangled them, and cut a heart-shaped piece of fabric from their clothes as a trophy. When captured, Roche confessed to 13 murders. Mulder fears that this discovery means there are more victims than those Roche had admitted to. When the girl is identified, it proves that Roche began his crimes as early as 1975. Another clue from the dream helps Mulder locate where the killer hid his trophies. He finds a total of 16 hearts, and realizes there are two more unknown victims.

Scully and Mulder interview Roche in jail. He won't tell them about the missing children, and toys with their questions. Oddly, he comments that he understands why Mulder is taking the case personally. His meaning becomes clear with Mulder's next dream. Mulder goes back in time to the terrifying night in 1973 when his sister Samantha was abducted--except the creature who bursts through door is not an alien--it is Roche.

Mulder tries to get the truth from Roche, who claims that he sold a vacuum to Mulder's father before Samantha's disappearance. When Roche won't answer Mulder directly, Mulder becomes enraged and punches Roche in the face.

Scully, who witnessed Mulder's loss of control, tries to convince him the dreams are nothing but images from his subconscious. She is certain that Roche is only cleverly manipulating Mulder's emotions. Mulder always believed Samantha was abducted by aliens, and now he doesn't know what to believe. His fears seem confirmed when, in the basement of his family home, Mulder discovers the same model of vacuum that Roche claimed Mulder's father bought for his mother.

When Skinner finds out Mulder struck Roche, he denies Mulder further access to the prisoner. Yet Skinner is sympathetic when Mulder tells him his fears about Samantha, and finally allows Mulder interview Roche again, as long as Scully keeps an eye on him.

Mulder finally agrees to give Roche what he had been [demanding: the heart trophies he cut out of pajamas of his victims. Now, Mulder demands to know the truth about Samantha. Roche's description of the night Samantha was abducted is exactly the same as Mulder remembers. He refuses to tell Mulder if one of the cloth hearts was taken from Samantha's clothing. Instead, he makes Mulder choose one of the hearts at random, and tells them where to find the body. Another body is discovered--it's not Samantha.

When Mulder and Scully return, Roche is fully in control. Refusing to divulge anything more unless he's taken to the scene of the crime. Scully can't stand to listen anymore, and makes Mulder leave with her. She insists that Roche is playing Mulder.

Willing to risk everything to find out the truth about his sister's abduction, Mulder makes a difficult decision. Without notifying Scully or Skinner, he releases Roche from jail and takes him to his childhood home in Martha's Vineyard. Inside the house, Roche describes everything in great detail--except, Mulder says they are in the wrong house. He has tricked Roche by deliberately taking him to a house 6 miles away from his childhood home. Now he now knows Roche has been lying all along. Mulder guesses that his extensive knowledge of Roche enabled Roche to get into his head saying, "I profiled you...maybe some connection was created between us. And through it, you pilfered my memories of Samantha."

Mulder plans to return Roche to jail the next morning. In the motel, he has one final dream of Samantha -- and wakes up to find himself bound in his own handcuffs with Skinner and Scully pounding on the motel room door. Roche is missing; and so are Mulder's FBI badge and his gun. With Mulder's ID, Roche tracks down the whereabouts of Caitlin, a little girl he had spotted on their flight to Boston. Mulder shoulder's all the blame for placing Caitlin in such horrific danger. And he admits to Scully that she was right. Roche was just playing him.

Mulder's knowledge of Roche pays off when he correctly identifies where Roche took the girl. He shoots Roche to save Caitlin's life...still plagued by the doubts Roche planted about Samantha's fate.

Important Quotes:
Mulder -- "So you think that I've somehow had this information about a fourteenth victim all the time and I've been processing it unconsciously?"
Scully -- "You said it yourself once. You said that a... a dream is an answer to a question we haven't learned how to ask. You did good work, Mulder. Let's identify this girl so we can put her to rest."

Mulder -- "He was there, Scully. He was in the house. He took Samantha."
Scully -- "In your dream, Mulder. It was a dream. Your mind made it up."
Mulder -- "A dream is an answer to a question we haven't yet figured out how to ask, right? Something buried in your subconsciousness. You heard him in there, he knew something. He mentioned being on Martha's Vineyard."

Scully -- "I had left Agent Mulder for the day. I suggested that he get some sleep. Sir, I have a clear idea of where he might have gone and I am sure that I can catch up with him."
Skinner -- "I'll be the one to catch up with him. Where's he headed?"
Scully -- "Martha's Vineyard. And I would hope that you'd appreciate the uniqueness of this situation and it's effect on Agent Mulder."
Skinner -- "No, I fully understand the effect it has on him, Agent Scully. As I recall, that was the sum and total of my last words to you on the subject. You let me down. Let's clean up this mess before it gets completely out of hand."

Back to The X-files: Season 4

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