New Jersey, 1947. A happy singing family drives towards Atlantic City at night when they get a flat. Instead of fun hi-jinks, this dilemma leads to the father being dragged into the woods while trying to change the tire. The wife desperately yells into the woods, but she sees only his foot in the flashlight beam disappearing into the brush.
The 1947 police rally in search with dogs and guns. They find a body with a leg eaten off. Before further investigation, they run back towards a cave where they think they’ve found the culprit. Without warning, they all fire their guns into the cave because spelunkers be damned.
Scully meets up with Mulder in the modern-day FBI headquarters where Mulder is reading up on more abductions. Scully tells him about a body found in the woods of New Jersey that is missing limbs; these limbs seem to have been gnawed off by a human. Mulder retorts that Jersey is a place where people lose body parts all the time because of the mafia. Scully explains that the victim was homeless, and therefore, not mafia-related (what?!?).
Mulder shows Scully an X-File on the 1947 Jersey Devil and relates the tale of the family who lost their father in the woods. The police shot the beast-man who had human bones in his stomach. Scully insists it’s a folktale, and Mulder, of course, Believes. She doesn’t.
X-file: The Jersey Devil is alive and real and living in New Jersey.
No matter who Believes, the duo heads to New Jersey and examine the body that has human teeth marks on it. The local detective comes in and is all ornery about the FBI being there without notifying him. Detective Tommy asks them to leave because it’s a local matter.
They leave, but Mulder thinks the detective hasn’t a clue. Scully jokes that Mulder could have helped by telling the detective who the culprit is—the Jersey Devil. Mulder wants to stay and poke around, but Scully needs to be back in D. C. for her godson’s birthday party. He throws her the keys and decides to make a weekend out of poking around, leaving Scully to drive three hours alone in Friday traffic. This is a perfectly rational complaint because that traffic is awful, worse than any abduction or devil could be.
Mulder pokes around the woods with a park ranger who tells Mulder that most people are scared of the woods, in particular, the devil. The park ranger has seen a lot of weird stuff in 32 years—ooh, he seems to Believe. He’s seen a large naked being sniff the air and run away from him, and he wonders if he was human. He senses this almost-man in the woods sometimes and has found half-eaten woodland creatures that seem to have been eaten by humans. However, he doesn’t want to report anything about Believing because he doesn’t want to lost his pension. Mulder asks the ranger to call him at the Galaxy Gateway if he thinks of anything else. Heh heh. Galaxy Gateway. That’s kind of apropos, though it would be more-so if we were dealing with alien spacecraft this time around.
A giant gorilla face fills the screen. It’s a kid’s birthday party complete with crying child in the gorilla mask and a dog licking the birthday cake. Scully comforts him and laughs along with her friend who is so glad Scully could make it. Her friends says the FBI academy is great training for motherhood and encourages her to find a man, perhaps that guy Scully works with. Scully calls him a jerk, but then she backtracks, explaining Mulder is simply obsessed with his work.
He is kind of jerky sometimes, but obsessed with work is the best description.
Rob, Scott’s dad, arrives at the party. Scully’s friend whispers, “Divorced!” Scully doesn’t look very interested.
Back in NJ, Mulder walks the streets down by the Mercy Mission, calling out to the homeless people about the murdered guy to see if anyone knew him. One guy steps up to show Mulder something in an alley and asks Mulder for money. This seems not safe at all, but Mulder goes along with it, giving the guy money before learning anything. Unsafe and not smart. At least it’s during the day and not in the woods at night, which is the usual setting. The guy shows Mulder a rudimentary drawing of a person with hair. The guy says he’s seen it rummaging around the alley, claiming everyone is freaked out by it and the cops all know it. Mulder gives him the keys to his room at the Galaxy Gateway so that he has a place to sleep, and Mulder can sleep in this guy’s place in the alley.
The drawing is seriously of a person, the outline of a person, that has hair. There’s nothing about it that would indicate it’s the Jersey Devil let alone anything remotely X-File-ish. Why this drawing causes Mulder to think the Jersey Devil is lurking is beyond me.
Later that night, Mulder curls up in a blanket in the alley. He hears the rattling of cans and a chain link fence. When he investigates, he sees a naked figure prowling around the junk and Dumpsters. There’s a lot of loud sniffing. Then the figure hops a fence and takes off, wild hair flowing behind it. Mulder follows, seeing the figure run along a rooftop, and then he whistles at it, which causes the figure to stop and look over the edge.
The cops arrive, offering Mulder a warm place to sleep it off. He tells them there’s a man on the roof. They take him in. Detective Tommy arrives at the police station and threatens to press charges against him. Mulder retorts with threats to tell the DA that the detective has been ignoring reports of seeing a creature around town. Mulder thinks the detective cares only about gambling. Then Mulder says he’s seen it. When the detective asks what he’s seen, Mulder produces the drawing of the figure that looks simply like a person with hair.
The detective reacts appropriately. He laughs. It’s the only appropriate response to this ridiculous drawing.
Scully receives a call from Mulder from AC’s drunk tank, and she goes to get him. She also has to buy him breakfast because he’s hungry. At the diner, he insists he saw the Jersey Devil and wonders why the supposedly man-eating devil didn’t come after him. Scully, well… we’ve been through this. Mulder Believes. Scully doesn’t Believe. Mulder mentions the hotel room he’s paying for. Is that a proposition? Once again she’s got to get back to D.C. This time, it’s for a date! With Scott’s Dad Rob! Mulder wonders if she’ll cancel, but she wants to have a life. Mulder claims to a have a life, too.
Before Scully leaves for her date, they visit the University of Maryland to talk to a professor who knows about man’s disastrous nature against all other things in nature. They discuss how humans reduce other species’ chances of survival. The professor says that, barring alien life forms, humans will always be on top. Mulder wonders if a carnivorous Neanderthal would be above humans on the food chain. The professor agrees but cannibalism is rare and doesn’t Believe anything Mulder is suggesting is happening in the woods of New Jersey.
Later that night, Mulder goes through black and white photos of large footprints. In the stack is another drawing. It looks like a bald gorilla with large pecs.
Also that night, Scully is wearing what seems to be a wedding dress on her date at a fancy restaurant with Scott’s Dad Rob! He suggests they take his kids out one day and asks about her case. She doesn’t want to talk about it over dinner. Good call. Cannibalism isn’t exactly first date conversation.
The park ranger calls Mulder from his truck to report a male body has been found and turned over to the coroner.
Scully receives a page on her beeper. She’s happy for the interruption. She calls Mulder back from the restaurant phone because this is what everyone did before cell phones. Mulder has had an amazing thought—they aren’t looking for a beast man. Ooh, those pecs on the drawing must be boobs.
The duo meets up with the coroner, the park ranger, and the professor. This is starting to sound like a game of Clue. The Jersey Devil in the Woods with the Rope. Anyway, the body that was found was male, but Mulder wonders if there’s a female counterpart.
The foursome minus the coroner head over to a darkened building with a dark gun in search of this female creature. Meanwhile, the local police patrol around and stop when they see the park ranger’s truck because apparently he’s not allowed to leave the park.
The professor goes through some junk in the building. He finds a rag and smells it (very scientfic! clearly research protocol). It’s blood. This means the creature must be there somewhere.
More moving through shadows as Mulder asks Scully how close the female creature could be to them—how human she could be. He’s getting very philosophical about overpopulation as Scully tries to put things in perspective by discussing her godson’s birthday party and primitive behavior. Hold on a second–that ape mask at the birthday party–foreshadowing. Nice.
The police have arrived on the bottom floor and start questioning why the professor is there. They start their own search throughout the building and on the roof.
Meanwhile, Mulder sees the shadow of a figure running past some windows. He follows, navigating hooks hanging from the ceiling. He goes out onto a rooftop and rolls himself under a pipe. Scully follows and does the same thing. Neither barrel roll is necessary except to show that they can do it.
The creature heads back inside, and Mulder is once again in dark and shadows. After a few moments of shuffling around, the beast-woman jumps at him, knocking him over. He’s smiles, quite pleased with this unfolding of events. That smile fades into sweaty fear as she sits on top of him, staring through dark wild hair and a dirty face. She backs off. He goes to sit up. She hits him to make him lie back down.
Scully finds Mulder and makes him lie back. She’s trying to take care of him while he tells Scully how beautiful she was. So the only erotic interest Mulder has is the lady who may not be human.
By the way, she looks nothing like the first drawing that looked like a boxy person’s body with hair. Also, she looks absolutely nothing like the second drawing that looked more like a bald gorilla.
Mulder winds up in an ambulance having a large gash in his abdomen being tended to. Someone reports to them that the police have her cornered. Mulder tries to go back in but they won’t let him. The police head into the woods where they’ve reported the woman-creature has escaped to.
The foursome drives out to the woods to follow. They take their own path into the woods where the park ranger shoots her with a dart. The four of them scurry down from the cliff to the waterside where they saw the almost-human lady. They hear gunshots and run.
It’s too late. The police have shot the almost-human lady who now lies face down, dead, under some leaves. Mulder asks the detective why they had to kill her. The detective says because that’s what you do to rabid animals. The park ranger sighs.
A week later at FBI headquarters, Mulder flips through black and white photos of the dead almost-human lady in the woods under leaves. He adds them to the filing cabinet as Scully hands over the posthumous medical exam of the corpse—they found human bone. The professor also conducted an exam but found no evidence of pre-historic make-up. The police are searching for her identity. The male body was about 40 years old and the female was in her thirties, which leads Mulder to Believe that the woman was in search of food to take care of the child the two of the creatures must have had.
Scully asks him to go have a beer to take some time off. Instead, Mulder wants to tell a contact at the Smithsonian about his findings. Scully can’t stop him because she receives a call from Scott’s Dad Rob! who has two extra tickets to Cirque de Soleil, and he wants her to take her godson to join him and his son. As Mulder fills out a car request, Scully appears next to him saying she’s not going out with the guy on the phone. Instead, she’s going with him to the Smithsonian instead.
Somewhere in the woods, a boy and his dad are hiking. The dad tells him the story of the Jersey Devil. Unbeknownst to him, a tiny child is listening. It’s the Jersey Devil! The little boy version. Mulder was right about the offspring after all.
X-File Type: Folklore
The Award for Better Agent: The park ranger —his dart aim is impeccable. Scully comes in a close second because she collects Mulder from the drunk tank and manages not to be smitten with the subject of their X-file.
Believability: Not. At. All. This actually seems to be on the verge of the most plausible so far, but the drawings are so atrocious that there’s no way I’m Believing this.