MULDER HAS HAUNTING DREAMS THAT LEAD HIM TO QUESTION WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO HIS SISTER.
Mulder experiences a series of vivid dreams that lead him to the discovery of the long-buried skeleton of a murdered child. Mulder is shaken, recognizing the M.O. of serial killer John Lee Roche, one of the first killers Mulder profiled. Between 1979 and 1990, Roche abducted girls between the ages of 8 and 10 from their homes, strangled them, and cut a heart-shaped piece of fabric from their clothes as a trophy. When captured, Roche confessed to 13 murders. Mulder's discovery means there must be more children than those he had admitted to. When the girl is identified, it proves that Roche began his crimes as early as 1975. Another clue from the dream helps Mulder locate where the killer hid his trophies. He finds a total of 16 hearts, and realizes there are two more unknown victims.
Scully and Mulder interview Roche in jail. He won't tell them about the missing children, and toys with their questions. Oddly, he comments that Mulder is taking the case personally. His meaning becomes clear with Mulder's next dream. He goes back in time to the terrifying night in 1973 when his sister Samantha was abducted. Only the creature who bursts through door is not an alien...but Roche.
Could Roche have abducted and murdered Samantha? Mulder tries to get the truth from Roche. He claims he sold a vacuum to Mulder's father before Samantha's disappearance. All his veiled remarks are hints that he indeed abducted Samantha. When Roche won't answer Mulder directly, Mulder hauls off and backhands him.
Scully, who has witnessed Mulder's loss of control, is afraid for him and tries to convince him the dreams are nothing but images from his subconscious. She is certain that Roche was not involved in Samantha's abduction but is only manipulating Mulder's emotions. Mulder always believed Samantha was abducted by aliens. Now he doesn't know what to believe, and he must discover the truth. His fears seem confirmed when, in the basement of his family home, Mulder discovers the same model of vacuum that Roche claimed Mulder's father bought for his mother.
When Skinner finds out Mulder struck Roche, he denies Mulder further access to the prisoner. He is sympathetic when Mulder tells him his fears about Samantha, and finally allows Mulder interview Roche again, as long as Scully keeps an eye on him.
Mulder finally agrees to give Roche what he had been demanding: the heart trophies he cut out of pajamas of his victims. Now, Mulder demands to know the truth about Samantha. Roche's description of the night Samantha was abducted is exactly the same as Mulder remembers. Now, Mulder is almost jumping out of his skin, yet Roche still toys with him. He refuses to tell Mulder if one of the cloth hearts was taken from Samantha's clothing. Instead, he makes Mulder choose one of the hearts at random, and tells them where to find the body. Another body is discovered, but it's not Samantha.
When Mulder and Scully return, Roche is fully in control. He seems to know how desperate Mulder is to learn the truth about Samantha. He refuses to divulge anything more, unless he's taken to where he says the crime took place, where he will finally tell all. Scully can't stand to listen anymore, and makes Mulder leave with her. She insists that Roche is playing Mulder.
Mulder struggles with the decision, but gives in to his need to know the truth. Without notifying Scully or Skinner, he releases Roche from jail and takes him to his childhood home in Martha's Vineyard. Inside the house, Roche describes everything in great detail. Now Mulder finally knows the truth. He has tricked Roche by deliberately taking him to the wrong house. He now knows Roche has been lying all along. But how did Roche invade and manipulate Mulder's dreams? Decides Mulder, "I profiled you...maybe some connection was created between us. And through it, you pilfered my memories of Samantha."
With an irate Skinner and Scully on his trail, Mulder plans to return Roche to jail the next morning. In the motel, he has one final dream of Samantha -- and wakes up to find himself bound in his own handcuffs. Roche is missing; and so are Mulder's FBI badge and his gun. With Mulder's ID, Roche tracks down the whereabouts of Caitlin, a little girl he had spotted on their flight to Boston. Mulder shoulder's all the blame for placing Caitlin in such horriffic danger. And he admits to Scully that she was right. Roche was just playing him.
Mulder's knowledge of Roche pays off when he correctly identifies where Roche took the girl. He shoots Roche to save Caitlin's life...still plagued by the doubts Roche planted about Samantha's fate. With Roche dead, will Mulder ever find out the truth?