The X-Files: Season 5, Episode 18

The Pine Bluff Variant (3 May 1998)
"The X Files" The Pine Bluff Variant (original title)

TV Episode  |  TV-MA  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 1,322 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 3 critic

Scully is worried about Mulder when during an undercover sting operation, Mulder apparently lets a suspect, Jacob Steven Haley, escape. Haley is a right-wing anti-government militiaman who ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview:
Jacob Steven Haley
Michael MacRae ...
August Bremer
J.B. Bivens ...
Field Agent
Douglas Arthurs ...
Skin-Head Man (as Douglas H. Arthurs)
Dr. Leavitt
Ralph Alderman ...
Dean McKenzie ...
Army Tech
Kate Braidwood ...
The Usherette
Armin Moattar ...
Goatee Man


Scully is worried about Mulder when during an undercover sting operation, Mulder apparently lets a suspect, Jacob Steven Haley, escape. Haley is a right-wing anti-government militiaman who was observed in a park handing an envelope to someone who the FBI thinks was selling weapons. After Haley's escape, they find the other man dead with most of his flesh eaten away. Concerned that militiamen are in possession of biological weapons, FBI assistant Director Skinner takes Scully into his confidence and tells what is really going on. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

3 May 1998 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The big inspiration for this episode is the movie with Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, based in a fantastic novel by John LeCarre. The big idea of the episode is to find lies under new lies. They get a great ambient of paranoia that fits perfectly in this season 5 in which we have some kind of distance between Mulder and Scully. See more »


Mulder: [leaving the room to go under cover] If you don't hear from me by midnight... Feed my fish...
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References The Big Lebowski (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

If you don't hear from me by midnight... feed my fish.
15 December 2006 | by (Washington Terrace, Utah) – See all my reviews

The Pine Bluff Variant may be John Shiban's best solo work for the x-files. He is well known for his great threesome work with Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan. But this solo effort deserves good praise. In the audio commentary for the episode, he explains how he had a note tacked up for a couple of years that said "x-files thriller", since they hadn't explored that genre before. When "doubting" Mulder came along in season five, it was the perfect time to use Shiban's story. And a thriller it is. Mark Snow is brilliant at setting the tone for this tense episode. Even though this episode isn't related to the paranormal, it does ties in because the terrorists recruited Mulder after hearing him talk about his government conspiracy theory at the UFO convention in "The Red and the Black". Even though Mulder is in some very dangerous and risky situations, he manages to keep his sense of humor and get some good one-liners in. This episode is exciting from start to finish, with the first half having you doubting Mulder's allegiance along with Scully. The whole episode shows that there are "lies within lies". John Shiban's inspiration for this episode is a 1965 film called "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold". I haven't seen it yet, but I'll have to check it out, especially if it's anywhere near as good as The Pine Bluff Variant, the x-files first and only "spy thriller".

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