A high school boy is accused of the violent murder of a sheriff's deputy. Mulder believes he is innocent. The agents find that someone with super-human speed may be the culprit.



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Episode cast overview:
Rodney Scott ...
Tony Reed
Max Harden
Chastity Raines
Mrs. Reed
Sheriff Harden
Mr. Babbitt
Les Lannom ...
Deputy Foster
Christopher Wynne ...


A high school boy is accused of the violent murder of a sheriff's deputy. Mulder believes he is innocent. The agents find that someone with super-human speed may be the culprit.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 December 1999 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Due to the violent events (the table scene in particular) Fox's Standards and Practices Department had an issue with showing the impact between the table and the teacher. In order to comply, the producers removed the impact, but the rest of the scene stayed intact. See more »


In the opening closeup shot, the bumper sticker on the car reads, "My Son Is A Honor Student At Adams High" See more »


Mulder: Max could tell them. You know why you collapsed don't you, Max?
Max Harden: Yeah, too much teen spirit.
Mulder: You think? Smells like murder to me.
See more »


References The Six Million Dollar Man (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

Great Episode
10 April 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I think talvaffe's review above is right on - although this is a "filler" episode, it's a great example of the nature and style of the show, which is what makes it appealing. In fact, the whole alien thing is so convoluted and drawn out that I don't particularly enjoy those episodes; I much prefer standalone episodes like this one.

Initially it appeared that some aspects of the plot didn't make a lot of sense, in particular why Max used the speed in such conspicuous ways (e.g. coming to class with 2 minutes left to take the test and filling it out without looking at it in front of everyone; killing the teacher in front of a cafeteria full of people by making it appear that the table and chair moved on their own). He could have accomplished both of those tasks without making it appear that anything unusual was going on, thereby avoiding drawing the attention to himself that ultimately led to his getting caught and eventually killed.

But when viewed in the context of the episode as a whole, these actions make perfect sense. What the episode is really about is drug use and addiction. The cave is a drug, and the power to move faster than the eye can see is its effect. The fact that Mulder at one point refers to the drug-like aspects of the cave (saying it gives Max a "buzz" and that he needs another "fix" because the effects have worn off), as well as the episode's title, further evidence this main theme.

The cave exhibits all of the classic characteristics of a drug of abuse:

-it gives its users pleasure, in this case a supernatural physical power rather than a "feeling" as with real-life drugs. This was a classic X-files twist on reality, particularly well done here.

-its effects are not permanent; they wear off over time and repeated use is necessary to achieve them.

-addicts are unable to stop using it despite negative consequences, no matter how severe (e.g. Max's injuries).

-it alters (or more precisely, accentuates certain aspects of) the user's personality, and this becomes more severe as use continues. Max, who has a problem with authority and anger issues to begin with, becomes more and more defiant and angry as time goes on. He eventually commits two murders and would have killed his own father had Tony not stopped him. Chastity, who is portrayed as highly sensitive and prone to guilt and sadness, eventually kills herself, presumably due to guilt over failing to prevent the death and destruction caused by Max.

-its effects vary from person to person, based on physical makeup and life experiences. Max and Chastity become addicted and Tony appears to be headed in that direction, but the cave has no effect at all on Mulder and Scully. The explanation for this appears to be that the cave only affects teenagers - another example of a classic X-files twist on reality. With real-life drugs, whether someone becomes an addict, a casual user or never uses the drug again appears to be determined by (or at least highly correlated with) their personality. With the cave, it's based solely on age. Either way, it's a combination of a person's physical makeup and life experiences that determines how the drug will affect them and whether they'll become addicted.

Max's actions, then, can be viewed in one of two ways, either of which are consistent with his "addiction". One is that they are a cry for help - i.e. he's hoping someone will notice what's going on and help free him (and possibly Chastity) from the addiction. More likely, though, they're an indication that the addiction is completely out of control, causing him to lose touch with reality and any appreciation of the consequences of his actions.

Overall, this episode was a great example of what makes the show appealing: a clever twist on, or exaggeration of, a real-life issue, presented in a well-thought-out way with good use of subtlety and attention to detail. Definitely one of my favorites.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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