The Early X-Files Story Inspired By David Lynch

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

X-Files David Lynch

One of the hallmarks of most X-Files episodes is that Mulder and Scully eventually uncover the real reason for something awful, one that is completely different from the official government narrative. However, the early episode “Conduit” is fairly unique because it features the abduction of a young woman which has several different explanations, none of which are confirmed by the time the credits roll. This was deliberate, as the writers of this X-Files episode wanted to channel David Lynch’s Twin Peaks to make viewers question whether this was actually an alien abduction or not.

Ruby And Samantha

X-Files David Lynch

To understand how this X-Files episode connects to David Lynch, you’re going to need a quick refresher on a few things. “Conduit” was the fourth episode of season 1, and it featured Mulder and Scully investigating the abduction of a woman named Ruby. 

She shows back up at the end of the episode but won’t say anything concrete about her experience. For fans of the show’s lore, this episode is notable for revealing that Mulder’s sister was abducted by aliens, fueling his early interest in all things paranormal.

The X-Files Vs. Twin Peaks

X-Files David Lynch

Now, how does this particular X-Files episode tie to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks? Lynch’s show premiered three years before The X-Files did, and focused on an FBI agent visiting a small town and investigating the murder of Laura Palmer.

As that show layered its own healthy heapings of paranormal weirdness, it became an ongoing question as to whether the young woman had been killed by mere human malevolence or by some dark force manipulating and tormenting the residents of the town.

Peaks On The Mind

Because Twin Peaks had been a TV phenomenon right before The X-Files premiered, the writers of “Conduit” (Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon) had David Lynch’s show on their minds while writing.

In a later interview, Gordon summed up what he called the “theme” of this episode: “Was she taken or killed by her boyfriend, who she was seeing against her mother’s wishes? Is it Twin Peaks or an alien abduction?”

An Uncertain Ending

Obviously, we find out by the end that Ruby is alive, but the writers force us to consider all the possibilities throughout the course of “Conduit.” Even at the end, we’re still not sure exactly what happened, and that’s exactly how the writers wanted it. This episode stands out to this day from most others for its refusal to give us a concrete explanation for the unexplained mystery at the center of this narrative.

Mulder In Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks has many similarities to The X-Files, including an unconventional FBI Agent (Kyle MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper, whose boss is played by David Lynch)  involving a case that becomes increasingly paranormal.

But the strongest connection is that Fox Mulder actor David Duchovny previously played trans FBI Agent Denise Bryson on Twin Peaks. Even after becoming a household name thanks to The X-Files, Duchovny reprised this role years later in Lynch’s ambitious Twin Peaks: The Return.

As far as connections between The X-Files and the work of David Lynch go, we’ve barely scratched the surface here. The two franchises have very heavily inspired each other, and fans have speculated for years that each show might take place in the same universe.

Considering that Mulder alludes to knowing Agent Dale Cooper in last year’s comic X-Files: Year Zero, we wouldn’t be surprised if Laura Palmer’s murder is just one more closed X-File in the eyes of the FBI.