Season 1

1x13 Gender Bender

Air date: 01-21-94
Writers: Larry Barber and Paul Barber
Director: Rob Bowman
Editor: Stephen Mark
Director of Photography: John S. Bartley, C.S.C.
Documented Phenomenon: Extra-Terrestrial Contact

Episode summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

The episode opens in a nightclub in Germantown, Maryland. Someone watches a man fail to pick up a woman. The woman walks away and the watcher moves in. It is a woman who is not as attractive as the first. Her evident interest in him is rebuffed and he attempts to slight her. She takes the man's hand and places it in her own. She whispers something in the man's ear before walking away with the man close behind her.

In an anonymous hotel room, the two of them finish having sex, and the young woman quickly gets out of bed. Euphoric, the young man asks the woman her name but she doesn't respond. Suddenly the man has trouble breathing and begins choking and foaming at the mouth. The woman watches emotionlessly and does nothing as the man dies in front of her. When he is dead, she takes off her slip. The camera pans down and by the time it reaches her feet, she has transformed into a man. She dresses in the man's clothes and walks away.

The next day, the police are at the crime scene talking with Mulder and Scully. Detective Horton tells the agents that the deceased was a married man from New York on a business trip who picked up a girl at a nightclub, then they came back to the hotel for sex. Beyond that, they are baffled as to what happened. When Scully asks, Horton tells her that security cameras showed the deceased and a woman entering the room at 10:13. The same camera records a man leaving alone after midnight. It couldn't be the woman because he was three inches taller and thirty pounds heavier. The camera didn't show him coming in or the woman going out.

When Scully asks about cause of death, the detective tells her he blew an artery. Scully finds it hard to believe that anyone would pick up a total stranger to have sex these days. The detective shrugs and tells her the man left wearing the deceased's suit and carrying his suitcase. Scully looks at Mulder (who has been swabbing the foam in the man's mouth and his skin this whole time) and says she doesn't understand what they are even doing there. Detective Horton responds by saying he got a memo from the Bureau requesting their involvement if this exact C.O.D. occurred. Mulder gets up and thanks the detective for the call.

Back at the office Mulder tells Scully that there have been five similar deaths in the past six weeks, all involving young healthy people -- of both sexes -- dying in the throes of passion. When Scully ponders if there's a new drug on the street; Mulder tells her it's the oldest drug -- pheromones, the chemical that stimulates sexual attraction in animals, only they are a hundred times normal levels -- strong enough to send someone into anaphylactic shock. When Scully asks if someone could be synthesizing it, Mulder counters that it can be done but not anywhere near this large an amount and that these pheromones contain human DNA. Scully asks how this is possible since there's no scientific proof that humans can produce pheromones. Mulder admits ignorance but says if its true, the killer is a walking sex machine.

When Scully points out that they don't know what gender the killer is, she muses that the profiles are going to be a doozy -- "indeterminate height, weight, sex; unarmed but extremely attractive". Mulder then tells her it gets weirder as it appears by the locations of the murders, that the killer is headed south. He then adds that a year ago, a thirty-two year old UMW organizer was found dead outside Steveston, Massachusetts -- a town home to a sect of religious isolationists called The Kindred, who live in seclusion without phones, electricity or any modern amenities. Mulder then tells Scully that the sect is known for its pottery which they make with white clay from the hills nearby -- the same clay whose fragment Mulder found when he swabbed the injuries of the most recent victim.

After Mulder and Scully arrive in Steveston, they ask a local shopkeeper what he knows about the Kindred. While admitting there are rumors about what the Kindred are up to in the hills, the shopkeeper says that they bring in the tourists. The photographs of them that decorate the store walls come from the thirties. As Mulder asks how they might be able to meet them, a horse-drawn cart with several members of the Kindred arrives in town. As they get out at a local feed store, Mulder tries to talk to them without success. Scully walks up to a shy man named Brother Andrew, who is stroking the horse and asks after it. He reluctantly tells her that the horse's name is Alice. When Scully asks if he named her, he replies that they all named her together and that he's not allowed to talk to outsiders. Scully offers her his hand in friendship. He takes it, holds it for longer than he should, caresses her hand with his thumb, until he is pulled away by the Kindred who are leaving the feed store.

Mulder returns and notices his partner looks a bit pale. He asks if she is alright and she seems to take longer than usual to respond. As the Kindred ride away, Mulder says it must be an interesting way of life. Scully says, "There's something up there." Mulder says, "I've been saying that for years."

After reaching rocky terrain, Mulder and Scully leave their car and prepare to walk the rest of the way, following a map. After walking for an undetermined amount of time, Mulder crumples the map up and admits they are lost. At that moment, they hear footsteps and are quickly surrounded by several members of the Kindred. After identifying themselves as federal agents, Mulder tells them they are investigating a murder. A Kindred named Brother Oakley tells them that their weapons are forbidden, that they can outlast the agents where they are standing and that they shall not come any further unless they surrender their weapons. Another, named Sister Abigail says that they are saddened by what has happened but that in their community, no one kills another. Scully insists they answer a few questions and Abigail tells them that it is their weapons that are unwelcome, not the agents. After promising to pray with the Kindred, Mulder and Scully reluctantly surrender their weapons.

The agents are taken to the home of the Kindred. All about, we see Kindred chopping wood, harvesting grain, and performing other domestic activities. Everyone enters a simple cabin where a nervous Brother Andrew watches. Everyone sits at a table for the evening meal where Sister Abigail leads the table in prayer while Mulder watches a sickly Kindred named Brother Aaron cough and Scully looks at the nervous Brother Andrew. After Abigail says that they "pray for the day of the coming, the moment of our release," they serve supper.

The agents attempt to question the Kindred. Scully asks them to look at some pictures of crime scenes. Brother Andrew seems interested by her comments and asks about the crime involved -- where it took place, and how much violence this person has committed. When Mulder asks if anyone has left their village recently, a man named Brother Wilton bangs on the table and tells the agents, "your world does not interest us" and demands that the agents stop talking. Abigail orders Wilton to stand and harshly dresses him down, finishing by ordering him to make atonement for this. As Wilton hangs his head, Mulder says that he and Scully weren't offended. Andrew responds by saying that "anger, like violence is forbidden here". Just then, Aaron begins to choke. Scully offers to help but Abigail tells her not to. When the man collapses, Scully rises to her feet. Two Kindred stop her from approaching and Abigail orders two more Kindred to remove Brother Aaron from the dining hall. Scully looks shocked as Abigail says she didn't bring the agents into the home of the Kindred to interfere in their business. Scully looks shocked as Andrew adds, "We take care of our own".

In another nightclub, a young man approaches a woman and asks her to dance. She politely refuses until the man takes her hand and caresses it. The woman's refusal falls away and she follows him back to the dance floor.

Back in Massachusetts, the Kindred form a path by hanging lanterns along the forest. Brother Oakley tells them it's about a mile to their car and warns them to "stay on the path". Mulder thanks the Kindred for their cooperation, and he and Scully leave, each carrying a lantern. As the agents walk, they discuss the meeting just past.

Mulder asks Scully if she believes that "we take care of our own crap" and Scully counters if they don't, Brother Aaron is dead. Mulder says that he thinks the Kindred's "living from abundance" line is an act and that they know something is up -- he can see it in their eyes. He points out to Scully that they never answered any of the agents' questions while getting Mulder and Scully to answer theirs and that the outburst from Oakley was almost on cue. He asks Scully if she noticed that there were no children around. Then he says he thought he recognized some of the Kindred from the pictures that had been taken in the thirties that they saw at the feed store. When Scully suggests the clan have probably been intermarrying for decades, Mulder admits that's possible but then maybe things aren't as black and white as they seem to be. Then he douses his lantern and tells Scully he's heading back "for a little look-see". Scully then douses her lantern and the two agents hurry off.

Mulder and Scully approach the farm stealthily and find that all the windows are dark. Both agents can hear faint chanting. They follow the sound to a large barn, where all the Kindred seem to be gathering. Some kind of liquid seems to be dripping from the ceiling. The barn doors close. The agents keep walking until they find a loose board through which they can see the Kindred chanting something but, because they are crowded together, it is difficult to see what exactly is going on. We see Brother Aaron being carried by the Kindred into some kind of cellar before they walk away. Mulder tells Scully he wants to see what's in the cellar and runs after them.

Scully is watching Mulder head to the cellar when a hand appears on her shoulder. She whirls around to see Brother Andrew. He tells her that he can give her some information. Scully gets up and follows him. Meanwhile, Mulder walks down the long cave until he hears the chanting again. Upon reaching this point, he dims his lantern and moves forward where he sees one of the Kindred sitting.

Brother Andrew leads Scully into a bedroom. After turning the light down and locking the door, he tells Scully, "I know who did it." He tells Scully that he wants her to catch the killer, and admits that it was his "best friend," Brother Martin.

Back in the cave, Mulder moves further in, and watches members of the Kindred cover Brother Aaron -- who has been stripped naked -- with an unidentifiable yellow substance while they continue chanting.

In the bedroom, Andrew tells Scully that Marty (as Andrew called him) was always different. When Scully asks how, Andrew asks how the victims were killed. Scully admits that they don't know for certain, only that they all died of cardiac arrest. "He poisons them, doesn't he?" Andrew asks. He tells Scully that he needs to show her something.

In the cave, the Kindred finish covering Aaron, pick him up and carry him into a deeper chamber. After they leave, Mulder looks at what appears to be the source of light where they treated Aaron.

In his bedroom, Andrew opens a suitcase to display several fashion magazines. He tells Scully that he and Marty found them on the roadside on Route 44 when they were wandering "around the edges of their world". Someone left them for garbage. When Scully asks why he kept them, he says Marty kept them. Andrew says that while some of it was nice, he didn't like most of what he saw. Martin, however, was captivated by it -- so much so that he left their world to become "one of them".

Back in the cave, Mulder looks around, touching the substance on the wall and feeling his way around. He comes to a small opening that appears to be blocked by a strange rubbery substance. Suddenly, he hears someone coming and bolts away. He makes it back to the entrance of the cave only to hear someone making his way down the stairs. He darts backward and ducks into an opening. Hidden away, he hears a Kindred tell Brother Wilton, "the woman is back in the main house with Brother Andrew".

The Kindred leave the cave. Mulder looks around and sees that the walls in this cave are covered with the same yellow material. Upon closer examination, he sees that Brother Aaron is there within that small chamber, covered with the same substance. He appears to be comatose. When Mulder looks at him, Aaron's eyes fly open.

Back in the house, Scully asks Andrew how Marty was different. Andrew answers "I could be banished". Scully counters by asking if it has something to do with the ceremony in the barn. In answer, Andrew takes Scully's hand and caresses it with his thumb (like we saw in both nightclubs).

Mulder makes it back to the house and calls for Scully in a whisper. Back in the house, Scully asks Andrew what he's doing (with no other sign of resistance). Andrew simply says "Marty is different -- we're all different". He then begins to caress and fondle Scully, who seems to willingly let him lie her on the bed. At that instant Mulder bursts in, yells at Andrew and pulls him off of Scully, who seems to be in some kind of trance.

The two agents leave the building, only to be confronted by what appears to be all of the Kindred members. An angry Sister Abigail says she told them "not to interfere". After a tense few moments, the Kindred silently clear a path for Mulder and Scully who exit.

As they leave Mulder angrily asks Scully what the hell she was doing with Andrew. Still in her trance Scully admits she doesn't know, before pulling away and starting to cough.

In yet another nightclub, a man named Michael is talking on his cell phone when "Marty" walks up to him. At first he is annoyed with "her" until "she" touches his hand. Without a word, Michael hangs up and leaves with "her".

At a gas station, Mulder returns with coffee for Scully. In the car, he asks after Scully's well being, who says she feeling better -- "a little embarrassed". With the slightest bit of sarcasm, Mulder asks why, if she "didn't remember any of it". He asks Scully why she didn't make any effort to get away from Andrew. Scully tells him that Andrew "knew who the killer was". Mulder counters, "How did you know he wasn't the killer?" Scully says nothing but asks what he saw in the cave. He tells her he saw Aaron buried alive in something. He also tells Scully that Aarons face was transforming into something that appeared "almost feminine". He thinks he was changing sexes, like what they saw in the videotapes. When Scully asks him how he knows, he says, "I know what I saw, and what I saw, Scully, was you about to do the wild thing with some stranger". Scully is silent for a while, and asks Mulder if he thinks Andrew was trying to kill her. He says "Maybe it's the sex that kills." Scully asks if he was trying to kill her, why they let her go. Mulder admits he doesn't know.

In the front seat of a car somewhere, Michael and "Marty" are kissing passionately when a cop bangs on the window and tells the two to break it up. "Marty" gets out of the car and the cop asks her if she's a "pro". Before she can answer, Michael pitches forward in pain in the driver's seat. Upon the cop's reaction, "Marty" punches the cop in the face. Michael pitches forward and looks through the window to see that Marty is now in male form. He runs away from the shocked Michael.

In a hospital bed, a physical and emotionally injured Michael recounts the incident from the night before to Mulder and Scully. Scully asks him if the girl touched him. Michael says "It was electric," but after that, his memory was vague to non-existent. Mulder presses him, saying the policeman supports what he said but wonders if there was something "unusual about this woman" that Michael might not be comfortable reporting. Reluctantly, Michael tells the agents that he saw her fighting with the cop and suddenly "she looked like a man". Wryly, he tells the agents: "The club scene used to be so simple."

Leaving his hospital room, Scully tells Mulder that they can't overlook the possibility that this was a transsexual -- something Mulder amusedly dismisses. Scully points out that it was hard to believe a woman could overpower a 200�pound cop. Just then, a female FBI agent appears and tells Mulder and Scully that a stolen credit card from the last victim was used to order takeout at a hotel eight blocks away.

In a hotel room, a young woman discusses the pleasure she felt "touching a human man for the first time" and how it was so powerful for her. The room is covered with magazine clippings and a body can be seen in the bed. She walks towards the bed talking about the pleasures of "their world" and that she knows that she will be punished because "the day is coming" and they won't leave without him. We see that the man in the man is dead with blood streaked down his chest.

Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully run up the stairwells and down the hall in the hotel. Mulder raps on the door and they burst into the room. Scully stops by the bed and while she verifies that the body is dead, Marty leaps from behind the curtains and hits her on the back of the head before darting out the door. Scully says she's okay as Mulder bolts past her, after the assailant. He races down the hall and sees something in another room. Marty strikes him in the head and 'morphs' into a man, running past a stunned Mulder.

Finding her feet, Scully runs into the hall, bolting after the fleeing Marty. She bursts out of a door into a dark alley. She sees a figure standing behind a dumpster in the empty alley. Suddenly, shadows appear on the wall. Scully notes this as Marty darts out in front of her. She identifies herself and tells Marty to freeze. Suddenly, a figure appears and tackles Marty who is suddenly surrounded by figures dressed in black. She orders them to step away, only to see Brother Andrew rise to his feet. He asks her not to hurt him. She orders him to step away but Andrew continues to approach her. She holds her gun on him.

Just then, Mulder bursts out from the door calling Scully's name. Andrew takes advantage of the distraction to slap the gun out of Scully's hands and strikes her in the face. Mulder runs to her. Suddenly the shadows disappear and the two agents are alone in the alley.

Later, as ambulances and squad cars surround the scene, Detective Horton tells the agents that they had secured the surrounding ten blocks around the alley and that the suspect couldn't get through. Mulder counters by saying if they did get through, there's only one place they'd go.

The next day, Mulder, Scully and a fleet of police cars arrive at the village of the Kindred. The home is deserted with last night's silverware still on the table. Mulder runs to the barn and finds the cave he had been in the previous night sealed shut. The Kindred are gone. Horton returns and says they found something in the hayfield. As they look at the field, Scully says she doesn't understand where they could have gone, as they had no means of transportation. Mulder counters, "No earthly means of transportation." In the hayfield, a broad circular outline can be seen in the field.

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

  • The aliens in 'Genderbender' are unique as they do not fit in the mythos of any of the other extraterrestrials we see on The X-Files. It is possible, however, that the Kindred were some early version of the colonists that we would meet in season 2. The biggest argument in favor of this is their ability to 'morph' much like the Alien Bounty Hunter we would meet in Colony/End Game. Their isolated way of life could be considered an incarnation of some of the other alien-human clones and their resemblance to each other over time could be an example of the cloning that becomes a vital part of the mythology. However, all of this is speculation; Carter never said that these aliens had anything to do with the others on The X-Files. David B. Morris
  • Due to Sister Abigail's dialogue: "pray for the day of the coming, which brings our release", this raises another possibility: these aliens could be outcasts from the primary alien colonists. And considering that the Kindred had existed on the Earth for over a hundred years, it's possible that they were acting as scouts for the alien colonists. Perhaps their stay on Earth was a kind of punishment to gather information before the alien colonists would execute their plan to overtake the Earth. The use of scouts before an attack is common military strategy. Matt Allair
  • This is the first, and most likely only example of a crop circle on the X-Files. We will see a lot of flying saucers on the show and Mulder will mention them repeatedly but this is the one time that we see that they landed and took off. Although, it should be pointed out that the season seven episode all things, does have Mulder go to Europe to explore crop circles. David B. Morris / Matt Allair
  • How long did Brother Andrew's spell on Scully last? A lot of people will get the drop on the agent during the show but this is the first time that she commits the potentially fatal error of taking her eyes off the suspect in the alley when Mulder arrives. Was she perhaps still dealing with it or did her concern over her partner overshadow her common sense? (Remember, Mulder's shooting in Beyond the Sea was only a few weeks ago.) David B. Morris
  • When Horton says that the couple entered the hotel at 10:13 he is making the first obvious reference to Ten-Thirteen, the company that produces The X-Files. 10:13 and 11:21 will be mentioned repeatedly in the series run. David B. Morris
  • A number of X-Philes have complained about the visible wire mesh in the cave that Mulder explores. While it's a valid complaint, there is another possibility that it was intentional by the set designers. Knowing that the Kindred are of extra-terrestrial origin, it is highly likely that the cave under the barn was artificially manufactured, with the use of wire mesh, cement and other organic resources, possibly to mimic the environment of their home world and to aid in the ritualistic regeneration of their members. Matt Allair
  • During the club scenes, there is some artwork presented from the Swiss artist H.R Giger. The artwork shown is titled Li 1 from 1974. Matt Allair

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

The primary problem with Gender Bender is the fact that the characterizations seem generalized. None of the characters seem very well defined. Of all of the members of the Kindred, Brother Andrew is the most defined character. Other then some humorous banter between Mulder and Scully, there's no reason to feel very invested in the characters. This problem is very evident with all of the victims of Brother Martin's. One almost has the feeling that brother Martin views contact with humans as an observational experiment or exercise. Evidently, the episode went through various conceptual changes which might explain why it feels so general. Initally, there was a moment in the teaser sequence where someone's crotch started to rot away, but the sequence was toned down as was acknowledged by Executive Producer R.W. Goodwin. This was the first episode directed by Rob Bowman, who would go on to play a pivotal role throughout the series' history.

Evidently the chant sung by the Kindred was written by co-executive producer Paul Rabwin. It was sung by Rabwin and six other singers. The music used during the opening club scene was Mark Snow's theme for another television movie, In the Line of Duty: Street War.

David Duchovny kidded actor Mitch Kosterman, who played Det. Horton, during filming of the crime scene in act one when Kosterman flubbed his lines and said "chum chippy" instead of "some chippy". The exterior of the Brethren commune was the Rowlatt Historic Farm in Campbell Valley Park, Langley. The production team was prevented from altering the appearance of either the clapboard farmhouse or the weathered outbuildings, due to the historic nature of the farm, circa 1893. During the period the episode was filmed in, the water table in the area was perilously high and torrential rain wreaked havoc with the production.

The Lithia General Store and Feedstore location were found at Marine Grocery, Moncton Street in Steveston. Near-disaster struck when the old buckboard rented for the scene pulled around a corner and into the main street in front of the general store, at which time -- as if on cue -- a rear wheel fell off, injuring one of the horse wranglers, who broke his nose when he was thrown onto the street. Due to information uncovered, the episode was filmed in early December 1993. Seven scenes were filmed on December 10, 1993, all involving Brother Martin. These included the hotel room scenes as well as the interior of Michael's car. The scenes were filmed on Seymour Street in Vancouver.

As everybody and their grandmother knows, Nicholas Lea makes his first appearance on the show as the only man to survive an encounter with Marty. He would go on to get a little bit of attention as rogue agent Alex Krycek starting in Season 2. Mr. Lea's birth name is Nicholas Christopher Schroeder and was born June 22, 1962 in Westminister, BC Canada, in his youth he attended Prince of Wales secondary school in Vancouver. To clarify, his fathers name is Schoeder and his mother's maiden name is Herbert. He attended art school to become an illustrator and he served in the Canadian Navy. For five years, he was the lead singer for an alternative rock band called Beau Monde. Mr. Lea recently appeared in the television movie Category 7: The End of the World. Mr. Lea is mostly known as a television character actor. Recent feature film works include Chaos and past feature films include Madison, Xeno: The Second Encounter and My American Boyfriend. He was also an executive producer on such productions as Freedom Park and Lunch with Charles. He auditioned for the role of Cal in Titanic. His other television appearances include CSI, Judging Amy, Gene Rodenberry's Andromeda, Threshold, The Outer Limits, Highlander, Sliders, and The Commish. David B. Morris / Matt Allair

Mitchell Kosterman plays a character called Detective Horton in this show. He will make another appearance in 'Sleepless' as Lieutenant Horton of the NYPD. It is undetermined if it's the same character or just The X-Files way of using the same actor for two different roles. Mr. Kosterman's association with shows produced at 1013 Productions has been extensive. He has also appeared in the season three episode The List and season five episode Travelers. He has also appeared in the Millennium episodes Force Majeure, The End and the Beginning, and season two's Skull and Bones. He also appeared in The Lone Gunmen episode Three Men and a Smoking Diaper. Mr. Kosterman was born in 1958 and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. His brother, Clif Kosterman, is a retired actor who is now a body guard for celebrities. He recently appeared in the feature White Noise. His other television appearances include playing Colonel Tom Rundell on Stargate SG1, Da Vinci's Inquest, Smallville, The Dead Zone, First Wave, Madison, Sliders, The Outer Limits, M.A.N.T.I.S., The Commish, MacGyver and Wiseguy. Matt Allair / David B. Morris

Brent Hinkley, who played Brother Andrew is known for being almost exclusively a television character actor. He is married to actress Kate Mulligan and has directed numerous off-broadway plays with Hollywood celebrities. His other television appearances include Monk, The Closer, Carnivale, Gilmore Girls, CSI, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ER, Just Shoot Me!, Seinfeld, Star Trek: Voyager, Chicago Hope and Night Court. Feature films of note include Wes Craven's Carnival of Souls, Ed Wood, The Pickle, Falling Down, Bob Roberts, Honeymoon In Vegas, The Silence of the Lambs and Jacob's Ladder.

Michele Goodger, who played Sister Abigail is primarily known as a television actress. She appeared in the season two episode Die Hand Die Verletzt. Her other TV appearances include Sliders, M.A.N.T.I.S., Madison, The Black Stallion, Wiseguy and MacGyver. She appeared in the features Who's Harry Crumb, The Accused, and Shoot to Kill.

Episode synopsis and review: David B. Morris
Additional review and production notes: Matt Allair
Page Editor: XScribe

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