The X-Files: Kitten (or, the secret life of Walter Skinner)


Do we really know the people we are closest too? Last night’s episode of the X-Files explores this concept as it gives the audience a chance to delve into the secret life of Assistant Director Walter Skinner.

“If given the choice between advancing my career by being blindly loyal to some faceless puppeteers pulling strings from the shadows, or to throw in with you two, make no mistake I’d make the same decision every damn time.” – Walter Skinner


The Monster in the Shadows

The X-Files – Skinner and Davey – Courtesy of Fox

Some of us have certain tragic life events that shape who we are and who we become. For Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) that was his tour of duty in Vietnam. He lost his friend John James (Haley Joel Osment) to a special weaponized gas.

Although “Kitten” as James was called didn’t die, he was never quite the same after his experience in the jungle. So much so, that Skinner had to testify against him at his court martial. Since he was sworn to secrecy by the Department of Defense, he couldn’t say that a government experiment caused his friend to see “monsters.”

Instead, he helped institutionalize John. Until the one day that he escaped. A worried Skinner takes off to Mud Lick to try and see if he can find his old Platoon buddy and maybe try to right that wrong from the past.


The X-Files – Director Alvin Kersh – Courtesy of Fox

Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are summoned to Director Alvin Kersh’s (James Pickens Jr) office. The agents are told their boss has gone AWOL. Kersh explains that Skinner thwarted his own career progression by championing the cause of the X-Files.

Disdain practically drips from his voice when he has to even address Mulder and Scully. They are told to find Skinner before he doesn’t have a job. The fact that Walter sacrificed himself for their cause saddens the pair.

Armed with information that they had taken from Skinner’s apartment, they set off for the town of Mud Lick. While working with the local sheriff, they discover that their boss may be implicated in a murder. Setting out to prove Skinner’s innocence seems daunting.

They also hear talk of a monster in the woods. Described as a man-like creature with antlers, the townspeople seem to think that this supernatural being is alive and running amok.

Within the Woods

The X-Files – Mulder and Scully in the Woods

Their investigation leads them to a remote trailer in the woods.  They meet up with John’s son, Davey (also Haley Joel Osment). During the course of interrogating him in his abode, Mulder discovers a photo album with Skinner’s picture in it along with Davey’s father.

Davey tells the duo that he doesn’t know Skinner and he doesn’t know where his father is. Then he starts to tell Mulder and Scully that his father was experimented on and that he tried to get out of the program but couldn’t.

He also tells them that the government is working on mind control and that they are infusing drugs into our water system and dispensing the gas via crop dusters and contrails. While this sounds like the rantings of a mad man, Mulder concedes that we were doing experimentation in that area up until the early 80s. Hearing enough, Mulder convinces Scully to leave.

Skinner on a Stick

The X-Files – Skinner on a Stick – Courtesy of Fox

Prior to Mulder and Scully showing up, Skinner is walking in the woods at night trying to see if he can spot John. Instead, he gets thrust into the spear pit by Davey and impaled on a sharp bamboo stick. While he is dealing with the severe pain, Davey closes the pit with a cover so no one will hear Skinner.

On the road, the two agents are mulling over things when Mulder tells Scully to look for cell service while he attempts to do what Skinner would do for them.  Going back to the trailer, he looks inside a closet and finds the “monster” costume that Davey has been using all along.

Heading into the woods, the costume “comes alive” in the closet. While Mulder notices a pattern of uneven dirt on the forest floor, he pulls back the cover of the fit to discover Skinner. He too gets pushed into the pit.

Davey appears and douses gasoline onto them. Before he can light the match, Skinner pulls his gun while Scully does the same thing. Shots ring out and Davey falls on the ground dead.

Heal Thyself

More from Horror on TV

While Scully patches up Skinner. Mulder asks him again why didn’t he just give up on their cause. Walter opens up about how he was a gung-ho kid who enlisted and fought in the Vietnam War but he couldn’t protect his platoon members.

He couldn’t save Kitten. This caused him to mistrust his government. When the X-Files came along, Mulder and Scully gave him the chance to shine the light into dark corners and he would choose them all over again even if it meant the same outcome, no advancement in the bureau.

We see a truck leaving Mud Lick. Then some men are carrying a sealed container onto a plane. Crop dusting begins of the green weaponized gas onto our food supply and then we see contrails in the sky.

The Verdict

This episode was a chance for long time X-Files fans to know more about Skinner. Although this character has been a part of the series since 1993, little was known about him. Yes, we all knew he served in Vietnam but we never heard or saw any details.

For Pileggi to get his turn in the spotlight was a blessing for his fans. He was up to the task. His delivery was on point as was his performance. A shout out to his nephew, Cory Rempel who played him as a young man! Rempel wore Skinner’s character like a second suit.

However, while interesting and laden with familiar X-File conventions like conspiracy theories, this effort fell short. Haley Joel Osment has done some of his finest acting in years on this show but overall there was nothing spectacular about this particular show.

This may be the weakest effort thus far in Season 11 even Pileggi’s stellar acting and Carol Banker’s capable direction couldn’t save this outing.

Next: The X-Files: Ghouli or in dreams I walk beside you

What did you think of tonight’s X-Files episode? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below. We want to hear from you!