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Never Again
 Science File Information:
  • In this episode, Scully investigates a lead for Mulder while he's on vacation. She tails a possible UFO informant into a tattoo parlor in a supposed Russian ghetto in Philadelphia. While in the shop, she overhears the tattoo artist arguing with a man who wants to get rid of the tattoo on his arm that he got in a drunken stupor the night before. The tattoo artist, proud of his work, won't help the man out, and begins to peddle his tattoo designs to Scully. The artist claims that the quality workmanship of the designs has its roots in Soviet prison tattoos, which, although not scientific per se, have historic significance. In the former Soviet Union, prisons had a whole rank and privilege structure that was denoted by the tattoos the prisoners wore. Some tattoos were given forcibly, as warnings to others of the vices of the wearer, while others sported popular political messages.

    All right, all right...this isn't science (anthropology?), but it was too educational to pass up! For more information on the artistry and symbology of Soviet prison tattoos, read about them at http://php.indiana.edu/~birkene/prison.html.

  • One thing leads to another, and Scully ends up on a date with Eddie, the guy in the tattoo parlor who wanted to get rid of his tattoo. He somehow convinces her to get a tattoo of her own. Now here's the challenge: what's so scientific about getting a tattoo? Well, for starters, the tattoo gun is an interesting electrical device. It is able to draw ink from a chamber and inject it through two layers of skin (the scaly layer and the epidermis) and into but not through a third layer (the dermis). Its swift poking action is driven by an electrical circuit much like that of a common household doorbell. The kind of tattoo guns used in Soviet prisons were even made out of tape recorder motors. Interested yet?

    To find out how a tattoo gun actually works, check out this page from the USENET Tattoo FAQ.

  • Unfortunately, for Scully and Eddie, somebody spiked the ink in their tattoos... with a fungus. When some officers come to question Eddie while he's out of his apartment, Scully learns that both of their tattoos were possibly laced with ergot alkaloids. The tattoo artist had prided himself on the rich red coloring he used in his tattoos, a dye which came from Soviet rye grains. Unfortunately, the rye used to make the dye had been plagued by a fungal parasite, called ergot, which is a potent chemical cocktail. As the source of such substances as the drug LSD, ergot can cause convulsive, gangrenous, and hallucinogenic ergotisms.

    To find out more about ergot and ergotism, read http://vet.purdue.edu/depts/addl/toxic/plant14.htm, which talks about the clinical effects of ergot and its dangers in livestock feed, or check out the more detailed information at http://www.maths.monash.edu.au/~ewmc/ergot/ergot.trivia.html.

  • Eddie is relieved to find that there's a rational explanation for the voices he's been hearing from his tattoo, but before he can do anything about it, his tattoo convinces him that Scully should die. Luckily for Scully, Eddie gathers his wits for a moment before he can toss Scully into the basement's furnace. Ed's so shocked by what he was about to do, he decides to remove his tattoo in a very painful and...permanent manner. He should have realized that there are easier ways to remove a tattoo!!

    To learn about the various methods of medical tattoo removal, check out an online pamphlet on the subject at http://patient-info.com/tattoo.htm.

  • Mulder says at the end of the episode that the doctors found traces of ergot poisoning in both Eddie's and Scully's blood, but not enough to cause homicidal delusions. In my opinion, this case isn't an X-File; my theory is that Eddie was just starting to manifest schizophrenic hallucinations and the ergot amplified them. (That's just my theory; I'm not a doctor, and I wouldn't know enough about schizophrenia to make a diagnosis....)

    For more information about schizophrenia and the similarities between its symptoms and those of ergot poisoning, check out http://www.mentalhealth.com/book/p40-sc05.html.

 File #:

Basic Plot:
Scully is attracted to a man whose tattoo tells him that all women hate him.

Synopsis URLs:
Synopsis @ Official X-Files Site
Synopsis @ Deep Background

Title means:
"NEVER AGAIN" is the phrase Ed Jerse has tattooed on his arm.

End of science file.
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