7×18: Brand X

“Tobacco beetle. It’s an herbivore. It eats tobacco. Hence it’s name.” — Dr. Peter Voss
“I understand that, but maybe these don’t.” — Fox Mulder

When a witness who was supposed to testify against the Morley cigarette company dies horrifically, Mulder and Scully are called in by Skinner to investigate.

Brand X

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: And now we’re back to the more standard Monster of the Week episodes with “Brand X,” an episode that is fairly average in the grand scheme of things, but at least has a few gross-out moments perfectly suitable for The X-Files (and terrifying to me as I hate bugs). In this episode, the agents are up against the antics of Morley, the very cigarette company favored by our favorite cigarette-smoking villain — a nice little touch of continuity in a standalone episode.

A witness and former employee of Morley plans on testifying against the company until he develops a cough and is found the next morning with his flesh eaten away. Skinner, who was tasked with protecting the man, calls Mulder and Scully in for help. We learn that Morley had been trying to engineer a “healthier cigarette,” but the tobacco used is inhabited by a beetle whose eggs survive cigarette manufacturing and end up released in the smoke of cigarettes. Three out of four human test subjects died as a result, and the lone survivor — chain smoker Darryl Weaver — expects an unlimited supply of the cigarettes for his silence. So Weaver is essentially the culprit spreading the beetles around, killing people. Continue reading