The X-Files A-Z: K is for KILLERS

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Baz Greenland continues the alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the many killers the FBI has faced over the years…

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The X-Files is a world populated by some of the most memorable killers ever seen on television. Hannibal might have delivered a chilling adaptation for the modern TV age, Criminal Minds might have seen the FBI profiling the darkest aspects of humanity and crime dramas from CSI to Castle might have delivered some memorable serial killers, but they are all influenced heavily by The X-Files, which gave audiences some of the worst monsters from the small screen.

Some of these were literal monsters, like Eugene Victor Tooms with his need to kill his victims for their livers but there were also some very human monsters too; people driven by the need to kill. And then there are those characters driven to murder, traitors and villains like Alex Krycek, who killed without impunity, either at the behest of the shadowy masters of their own nefarious schemes. I could write ten articles about all the many killers audiences have witnessed over ten seasons and two movies, but here are some of the most memorable ones…

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Eugene Victor Tooms: No killer ever quite got under our skin than this monster, with his ability to squeeze through the tightest spaces, up through the toilet or down the chimney and when he caught you he would rip out and devour your liver. A terrifying killer indeed…

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Luther Lee Boggs: We never saw Brad Dourif’s character kill on screen, as he was already behind bars when the season one episode ‘Beyond the Sea’ began. But with his psychic connection to a new case and the death of Scully’s father and an utterly chilling performance, this was one killer that certainly got under the audience’s skin.

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Donald Addie Pfaster: This death fetish was one of the creepiest killers ever seen on the show. Nick Chinlund’s deeply unsettling performance and the horrifying subject of necrophilia made Pfaster one of the most memorable killers in the show’s history, so much so that they brought him back again five years later.

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Alex Krycek: Mulder’s former partner was a traitor working for the Cigarette Smoking Man, who not only enabled Scully’s abduction, but also had a hand in her sister’s murder, killed Mulder’s father William, tortured Skinner and killed without hesitation, making him one of the most dangerous recurring characters in the show’s history.

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Robert Patrick Modell: Imagine if Derren Brown decided to become a serial killer. That’s what you would get in Modell, a man with the ability to suggest his victims deaths without physically killing them. Aside from the tense Russian roulette scene in ‘Pusher’, which put the lives of Mulder and Scully at stake, his best kill has to be suggesting FBI Agent Burst have a fatal heart attack while on the phone. Another killer so great, they brought him back once more.

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John Lee Roche: Perhaps the most understated killer on this list and the most disturbing, this very human monster kidnapped and murdered children, keeping trophies of cloth hearts cut out of his victim’s clothing. The possibility that he murdered Samantha made ‘Paper Hearts’ one of the most chilling episodes of season four.

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Detective Van Allen: While The X-Files still had plenty of great stories to tell in its later years, there were few killers as memorable as those on the lost above. But Van Allen from season nine’s ‘Hellbound’ might be the most interesting, a reincarnated soul of a skinned victim from the 19th Century, and his modern acts saw him skin the reincarnated killers alive in an act of revenge. The discovery of the skinned victim strung up and still alive might be one of the most horrifying moments the show ever did.

The list of The X-Files killers goes on and on. Who were your most memorable ones?

You can follow Baz at @BazgGreenland on Twitter or follow his Facebook page www.facebook.com/BazGreenlandWriter

Baz has spent 18 months working his way through The X Files, revisited classic episodes and reviewing them at http://www.Thedigitalfix.com

Next time… L is for LUUUUUUURVE…

THE BLAIR WATCH PROJECT #1 – ‘Je Souhaite’

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Sarah Blair begins her ‘Blair Watch Project, by starting with The X-Files S7 comedy, ‘Je Souhaite’…

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As part of my Blair Watch Project, I knew I couldn’t skip the Season 7 finale, ‘Requiem,’ because it sets up the entirety of Season 8. Since I knew it was going to be a tough episode to watch, I figured I’d kick things off with something fun. The last standalone episode of Season 7 ‘Je Souhaite’ was just the ticket.

This was an episode I never thought much about since it originally aired back in 2000. Most of my go-to X-Files come from the first 4 seasons, with a sprinkling from Seasons 5-6, plus ‘Hollywood A.D.’ and once in awhile, ‘X-Cops.’

I’m really sad that I missed out on all those years of watching ‘Je Souhaite’ because in the past year since I did my big watch leading up to the Season 10 premiere it’s definitely made my list of what I like to call Comfort Episodes—the X-File equivalent of a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, a big tasty plate of spaghetti, or a slice of apple pie fresh from the oven. Those episodes that you can turn on when you’re having a lousy day and end up with a smile on your face.

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And that’s exactly what happened this time around. Watching Mulder and Scully at their best, in one of Vince Gilligan’s best, quite simply put a big ‘ole grin on my face. It did everything I needed and expected it to do because I know what’s coming up next week. . . .

‘Requiem’ almost makes some of the best moments in ‘Je Souhaite’ a little bittersweet, if not downright painful. Seeing Mulder search the empty city, knowing the only person on the entire planet he wants to find is Scully, feels like a dagger to the heart because in the next episode she’s going to be doing the same thing for real. Seeing them together in the last scene, so happy and content with everything exactly as it should be, is like getting that dagger twisted and then having a Mack truck dropped on my head.

We recently did a Roundtable discussion about how we think Mulder and Scully’s story should end. I might have been partially glib in my answer, but really, I think ‘Je Souhaite’ would have been the perfect episode to end the series.

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As a writer, I can’t deny I enjoy putting my characters through all kinds of painful scenarios. Drama—especially the angsty kind—is what makes writing, reading, and watching so much more fun. But somewhere in there, it’s important to leave the audience with a glimmer of hope and happiness. That’s what ‘Je Souhaite’ does that Chris Carter doesn’t seem to give us in the actual finales, except for maybe the boat scene tacked on to the end of I Want to BelieveMaybe it’s just the optimist in me, maybe it’s my shipper side showing, but whatever ending Mulder and Scully get, I want it to be a happy one.

That being said, I hope you’ll join me in watching ‘Requiem’ on Friday, 9 p.m. EST because I’m really going to need all the support I can get. As much as I’ve been assured by the rest of The X-Cast crew that Season 8 is worth it. . .  there’s a solid chance come 10:13 p.m. I’ll be covered in snot and rocking in the corner.

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahlblair.

THE X-FILES RANKED: 209 – Miracle Man (0 votes)

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Sarah Blair begins the ultimate X-Files countdown of all 209 episodes, starting from the very bottom to the top as voted by you, with Season 1 Episode 18, ‘Miracle Man’…

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Here we have it, the one and only episode of The X-Files to come through with zero votes. To be quite honest, I thought there would have been more episodes to surface empty-handed. I most definitely never would have guessed the one to obtain this dubious honor would be ‘Miracle Man.’

Certainly, there are many endeavors over the course of the show that didn’t quite pan out the way Chris Carter and crew might have liked. Not all of them can be winners. With a breakneck production schedule, as well as monetary and network challenges, honestly, it’s a wonder The X-Files was able to pull off as many spectacular episodes that it did. But out of all of them, I feel like ‘Miracle Man’ is deserving of at least one vote.

As episode 18 of the first season, this marks the first ever writing collaboration between the show’s creator Chris Carter and producer Howard Gordon. In this standalone, agents Mulder and Scully travel to a small town in Tennessee to investigate a death in a popular tent ministry. The son of the minister is said to have the power to heal the sick, but his gift of life seems to have turned into the touch of death. Upon a re-watch, it seems there are a lot of ideas trying to be dealt with in a short amount of time. And isn’t that somewhat typical for the episodes penned by Carter? A great man with big ideas and not enough time and space to flesh them out properly. There’s the overarching theme of faith, along with Samuel’s struggle with his gift, and Mulder’s search and longing for his sister thrown in for good measure. All topics which could have been singled out and honed in on to craft a more memorable viewing experience.

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One of only four episodes in the series directed by Michael Lange, it’s relatively straightforward, focusing mostly on the story rather than any spectacular visual effects. Not to mention, there was the giant hurdle of trying to make-over several Vancouver locations meant to represent Tennessee, and the fact that the Canadian actors all had a different idea of what a Southern American accent sounds like. (Side note: As a girl born and raised in Tennessee, I can tell you not one of them came close to sounding like a true Tennessean, but I applaud the effort.)

The moments where Mulder clings to the idea of discovering more about what might have become of his sister, and Scully rushing in to prevent him from having the wool pulled over his eyes are strong in establishing the foundation of each character and the relationship between them as partners and friends. Overall, this is where I believe the episode obtains most of its value.

Is ‘Miracle Man’ an outstanding or memorable episode? Not particularly. But it doesn’t entirely lack merit, and it deserves at least one point—if only for participation.

Memorable Quotes:

Sheriff Daniels: “99% of the people in this world are fools, and the rest of us are in danger of contagion.”

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Mulder: “I think I saw some of these same people at Woodstock.”

Scully: “Mulder, you weren’t at Woodstock.”

Mulder: “I saw the movie.”

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Scully: “You’ve got that look on your face, Mulder.”

Mulder: “What look is that?”

Scully: “The kind when you’ve forgotten your keys and you’re trying to figure out how to get back in the house.”

Our blog team also decided to rank the show based on their own lists, so here’s what they picked in 209th place:

Tony: “BABYLON. For years it would probably have been ‘Fearful Symmetry’, but this was just absolute indefensible guff. Rampantly pretentious, borderline offensive in its approach to racial politics, and nonsensical while trying to be profound – Mulder’s acid trip is just about the worst idea the show ever did, and this show did invisible elephants and space ghosts. This episode can fuck the fuck off until the end of time.”

Andrew: “BABYLON. Shallow, terrible, terrible dialogue, terrible characterization, just terrible on absolutely every single front. No mystery here. Just Chris Carter at his absolute worst. This episode makes ‘Fight Club’ look like a Marx brothers’ masterpiece. Warning: The Mulder dance sequence may induce vomiting.”

Paige: “3. It’s an easy target — an early ep without Scully. But there’s just nothing remotely likeable about this one. It utilizes dozens of standard vampire conventions with the added hubris of casting David Duchovny’s then-girlfriend so Mulder can get some.”

Carl: “FIGHT CLUB. Mulder gets sucked into a storm drain and misses part of the action during this episode, and to be honest I was somewhat envious. It’s a screechingly unfunny, tonally incoherent mishmash of an X-File with nothing to recommend about it. Doppelgängers are clearly something that interest Carter, but he found much better ways to incorporate them into other episodes.”

Sarah: “THE TRUTH 1 &2. A ridiculous and unfulfilling finale as far as series finales go. It’s the one and only episode on the show I’ve taken a solemn vow to never watch again. I’d like to live in my little bubble and pretend it doesn’t even exist. It was a great relief when we got the second film and a much more satisfying ending.”

Do you agree with this episode ranking? Let us know what you would put in this spot on Facebook, Twitter or via comments below!

IN DEPTH: The X Files and its Influences on Modern Television

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Baz Greenland talks about The X-Files and how it’s influenced popular modern television…

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While it is easy to cite the influences of shows like Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Twin Peaks on the creation of The X-Files, it is also interesting to note just how much of an influence The X-Files has had on modern television. While it is known for monsters and aliens, its ability to tell varied stories week by week is what kept the show fresh year after year.

One week Mulder and Scully would be hunting a gruesome monster, the next involving themselves in a political thriller in the highest reaches of the US government. The week after that they would find themselves profiling a serial killer and the week after that a comedy drama involving absurd aliens and characters. It was never just one genre.

Ir is easy to see just how much of  an impact on TV the show has had in the years since Mulder and Scully began their long quest for the truth. It opened a window to the FBI, which was largely shrouded in mystery in the years before. FBI-based shows have taken crime procedurals to another level, from criminal profilers in Criminal Minds (a show I will discuss in much greater detail shortly), to Fringe, which was largely seen as The X-Files‘ successor and now shows like BonesThe Blacklist, Blindspot and Quantico.

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Let’s talk about Fringe first, a show that began as an obvious The X-Files clone, as FBI agent Olivia Dunham and her team investigated ‘Fringe’ cases that sat outside the norm. In the first season we had a plane full of people dying mysteriously, a baby that aged 80 years with ties to a serial killer, a man with the ability to manipulate electricity, people with liquified brains, parasites wrapped around their victim’s hearts, a man that can predict the future, people killed by dreams and murder victims who died by having every orifice sealed. These all sound as if they have been ripped straight out of The X-Files (in fact there are many similarities with classic episodes). But the ironic thing is that it only went from good to great when it moved away from this formula and expanded its own mythology; the concept of a war between alternate realities.

But just because a show follows The X-Files formula, that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful. If Fringe tried to be The X-Files, then Supernatural was the true successor. By changing the setting – two brothers who hunt supernatural creatures – it felt a lot less obvious but it does follow the pattern Chris Carter established with a mix of mythology episodes (usually centred around an upcoming apocalypse) and monsters of the week. In fact, the narrative of the first five seasons was about the end of the world, culminating in the rise of Lucifer, but like The X-FilesSupernatural  struggled the more it went on. Both shows wrapped up the majority of their myth arcs (The X-Files with ‘One Son’ in season six) and both struggled to continue it after the natural end. In The X-Files we had super soldiers, in Supernatural we had Leviathans, the Darkness and angels falling to Earth.

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Supernatural was arguably more successful on the mythology front in its early years as that show had an end game. The X-Files meanwhile has produced more memorable monsters like Tooms and the Flukeman. Interestingly, where they both excel are the comedy episodes. If The X-Files classics like ‘Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”‘ and ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster’ are considered comedy gold, then Supernatural has proved itself in its ability to provide equal hilarious episodes like ‘Changing Channels’ and ‘The French Mistake’.

At the other end of the scale, The X-Files ability to delve deep into the dark psyche of terrifying killers like Donnie Pfaster, Luther Lee Boggs and John Lee Roche has led to another facet in television crime drama. Fox Mulder was a criminal profiler before his time investigating the supernatural and that experience led to audiences meeting some truly chilling monsters.

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Episodes like ‘Irresistible’ led to retroactive-spin off Millennium, but the show was also responsible for dramas like the long running Criminal Minds, which focuses on a specialist FBI unit’s attempts to understand and capture some of the US’s most deadly serial killers. When Criminal Minds is at its best, it can deliver some truly horrifying storylines, killers that can chill the audience to the bone. Would it be as accessible without The X-Files introducing audiences to the worst of humanity? Perhaps. But The X-Files brought serial killers into the mainstream; not all of them were supernatural, but they were just as terrifying as the likes of the Mothmen or Eugene Victor Tooms.

Shows like Person Of Interest, which deal with a deep distrust of the government, owe a lot to The X-Files too. Even in the much derived season nine, episodes like ‘Trust No 1’ created the idea of an ever watching secret government watching our every move and knowing our deepest, darkest secrets. Person Of Interest is all about the concept of a government that has the untapped power to surveil the lives of every citizen, while using those secrets to predict crime and save lives.

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The X-Files also gave us writers like Vince Gilligan, who would go on to produce Breaking Bad, Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, the masterminds behind 24 and Homeland and Frank Spotnitz (The Man In The High Castle). Most importantly, it gave is David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. While both would do well, it is Anderson who is arguably the critical star of modern television, with prominent roles in HannibalThe Fall and American Gods. 

The X-Files may not be at its height but its popularity continues, with many desperate for season 11. Most significant is its influence on modern television; without Mulder and Scully TV might look very different…

You can find Baz on Twitter @bazgreenland.

INTRODUCTIONS: The Fictional Adventures of Moose & Squirrel – Charnette Soto

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Charnette Soto introduces us to her own love of The X-Files…

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“I think that because you enjoy Law & Order, you’ll probably really like The X-Files.” – A Friend

I remember it was pretty late at night, and I was considering starting a new series on Netflix. I had been through Twin Peaks, and had finished Law & Order: SVU for the 4th time. I was bored, and I wanted to see something else. But what was there to watch?

A couple of days prior, a person had left that suggestion in my inbox, and I stared at it for a while, trying to decide if they were serious. The X-Files? That low budget show from the 90’s about aliens? Why would I like/care about that?

Fast forward to now… I’ve been a fan for about 4 years, more or less. It wasn’t just that urging from a friend, however, it was much more than that. My life always had the show as a dull hum in the background of my childhood. When I was younger, my older sister was a big fan of the show, and had me on her lap as she watched it. I didn’t really understand it but I watched it anyways, confusing Mulder and Scully, and wincing when appropriate. I remember catching the show on occasionally as the years went by–it had become a part of our pop culture so I grew up seeing the tag lines and the very basic story. When I was a little older, I remember seeing some of the episodes on the air and being terrified.

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When I went on to college, I remember I saw I Want to Believe at a screening at my school. I was pretty drunk and I didn’t really understand it, but I told myself that there was a reason why so many people liked it; there had to be a reason why it was so ingrained in American 90’s culture. It wasn’t until I got that message in my inbox that I ended up finding out that the X-Files was streaming on Netflix. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical at first. I watched the pilot, and quite about 10 minutes in, just after Scully’s arrival into Mulder’s office. I had to start the episode over a couple of times, never making it very far. When I finally did finish it, I was hooked and I dove headfirst in and just devoured the show.

Once I was done with the show, I wanted to find people to connect and talk to. I remember when I first started using the computer in 1995 or so, there was a dedicated chat on AOL for a long time. There were newsgroups, forums, boards, web groups—just so much to take in! Most of those places were devoid of activity for years, but I did find and make friends on newer platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It was good to have people to talk to about it… but there was always a tinge of sadness knowing we wouldn’t really get more episodes.

Until the revival, that is. And boy was that exciting! My timing as a fan could not have worked out to be better. I have met Mitch Pileggi, David Duchovny, William B. Davis, and Gillian Anderson. I’ve been to conventions, shows, met and made new friends along the way and have been traveling to keep up with everything going on. I think that part of the appeal is that it touches on a universal feeling that as humans, we can all understand: fear. The show connects people of different worlds, quite literally, and because of it, I can say I’ve made and met friends in many other countries. I’ve learned so much and I thank the X-Files for bringing that into my life.

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So, in an effort to pay it forward, I would like to share my own take on what the series means to me and hopefully share something new that maybe you didn’t know. I’m an avid gamer, and a lot of the topics I’ll be touching will have to do with technology. But I’m also a storyteller. I enjoy hearing stories that are lost or forgotten and sharing them. I hope that I am able to do exactly that.

The X-Files isn’t just “that show about aliens”, it’s very much its own sort of community, even today paving the way for the industry. I look forward to writing here, and sharing my experiences, as well as hearing everyone else, and I hope that I can introduce the series to you with a different perspective that you’re probably used to.

Things I enjoy: Watching Rocky & Bullwinkle, using computers, learning about crime, writing fanfiction, and playing videogames.

Charnette will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can find her on Twitter @giantkiller130.

The X-Files A-Z – G is for GHOSTS

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Paige Schector continues our alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the history of spectres on the show…

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Mulder: “Tell me you’re not afraid.”
Scully: “All right, I’m afraid. But it’s an irrational fear.”
–How the Ghosts Stole Christmas (Season 6)

The X-Files tackles the subject of ghosts in the same out-of-the-box manner we’ve come to expect from our show. While many of the atrocities witnessed on the show can be attributed to actual beings — human or alien — there are an array of phantoms sprinkled throughout the run.

The Season 1 episode “Shadows” doesn’t top a lot of fan favorite lists. According to show lore, at this time the show had a directive for Mulder and Scully to investigate and “help people.” So our heroes do their best when inexplicable — and violent — things start happening around a secretary and Mulder determines her late boss is dealing with things on her behalf with telekinesis. We don’t see him at all, but witness the full brunt of his anger. Strangely enough, the very next episode “Ghost in the Machine” isn’t really about a ghost at all. It’s just a pesky old computer trying to take over the world.

scull500Ghosts also stand — or should it be hover? — front and center in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” from Season 6. This one stands as almost a polar opposite to “Shadows,” with sparkling guest performances from Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin as the two spirits in a haunted house trying to talk Mulder and Scully into carrying on a holiday tradition they started, some kind of variation on a murder/suicide pact.

These aren’t your average entities and they have our heroes behaving somewhat out of character. It’s kind of nice to see them off their game for the balance of this one. Scully’s definitely shaken. She’s got detailed explanations for all of it at the ready, but the ingrained cliches from 1,000 horror movies still give her pause:.

“The whole idea of a benevolent entity fits perfectly with what I’m saying. … That a spirit would materialize or return for no other purpose than to show itself is silly and ridiculous. I mean, what it really shows is how silly and ridiculous we have become in believing such things. … That we can ignore all natural laws about the corporeal body … that we witness these spirits clad in their own, shabby outfits, with the same old haircuts and hairstyles, never aging — never in search for more comfortable surroundings. It actually ends up saying more about the living than it does about the dead.” — Scully, ‘How the Ghosts Stole Christmas’

wall500Mulder, usually enthralled with evidence of the supernatural, isn’t so thrilled this time around. Maybe it’s the shots Asner’s Maurice takes at him, which probably hit a little close to home when he deems our FBI guy “a lonely man chasing para-masturbatory illusions that you believe will give your life meaning and significance, which your pathetic social maladjustment makes impossible for you to find elsewhere. You probably consider yourself passionate, serious, misunderstood.”

The resolution to the show’s biggest question — what happened to Mulder’s sister Samantha — happens during Season 7’s “Closure.” In an emotionally charged moment Fox sees her cavorting with many children who died far too soon. They’re still young and beautiful and seemingly unaffected the tragedies that befell them. Are they ghosts? Are they starlight? They certainly fit the textbook definition of ghosts — souls or spirits appearing to the living. It gives Mulder something he (and we) have been awaiting for the longest time. Not only does he accept her fate, but he also attempts to help the psychic aiding the investigation do the same with his own long-lost son.

“You see so much, but you refuse to see him. You refuse to let him go. But you have to let him go now, Harold. He’s protected. He’s in a better place. They’re all in a better place. We both have to let go.”  — Mulder, “Closure”

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Apparitions appear in episodes such as Season 1’s “Space” — an other-worldly ghost inhabiting the body of a former Gemini astronaut — and Season 2’s “Excelsis Dei,” in which a nurse is sexually attacked by an “invisible 74-year-old schizophrenic.” Later in the second season, there’s an unsettling amount of spooks seemingly caused by voodoo in “Fresh Bones” and some poltergeist activity that lures a toddler to his death in “The Calusari.” Was there human involvement or did an executed inmate make good on his threat to kill those he considered responsible in Season 3’s “The List”? Similar questions arise later in that season after Skinner is continuously victimized by an apparent succubus in “Avatar,” and then in Season

Similar questions arise later in that season after Skinner is continuously victimized by an apparent succubus in “Avatar,” and then in Season 4, when ghosts of victims form the basis of Mulder and Scully’s investigation in “Elegy.” Later, it’s Doggett’s turn to be befuddled when an abducted child returns in Season 8’s “Invocation” and a Gulf War casualty gets murderously metallic in “Salvage.”

dadCases could be made for a number of other X-Files in which there is clear and present evidence of manifested legends, but ghosts often have the biggest impact in small moments for our leads on the show — like in Season 1’s “Beyond the Sea” when Scully sees her father, apparently at the moment he has passed away, sitting in a chair. He’s moving his lips and trying to tell her something, but she can’t hear it. But she can hear her late sister, Melissa, in Season 5’s “Christmas Carol,” when a mysterious phone call eventually leads Dana to her daughter. Mulder often thinks he’s seeing spirits from the past, be they past informants or members of his family. In the Season 9 finale, the show rounded up ghosts from the great beyond — Krycek and X and the Lone Gunmen — to aid Mulder when he needed them most.

There wasn’t time for much ghostly presence in the six-episode revival (can’t quite count Mulder’s hallucinogenic Lone Gunmen dream), but here’s hoping for Season 11!

Paige co-writes the Sibling Cinema X-Files rewatch blog with her sister and you can find her on Twitter @maxtuneage.

The X-Files A-Z – F is for FBI

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Tony Black continues our alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the institution where the files live…

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Founded in 1908, and later led by the legendary J. Edgar Hoover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the mainstay of The X-Files. While the files and investigations of Mulder & Scully extend across the globe, without the FBI they would find exploring the realm of extreme possibilities much harder. With their office set in the basement of the Hoover Building at the heart of Washington DC, our intrepid agents have the sweet irony of conducting their investigations into the conspiratorial machinations of our shadowy overlords from within the very seat of their power. That contrast sums The X-Files up perfectly.

It wasn’t just Mulder, of course, who investigated these cases at the FBI. A division of sorts existed as far back as the 1940’s, when the very first X-File was opened, and the subsequent investigations by Arthur Dales in the 1950’s (as seen in S5’s ‘Travelers’). When Mulder did pick up the quest in the early 1990’s, he inherited a series of files being monitored by a myriad of FBI section chiefs, assistant directors, deputy directors and shadowy unknown forces.

First there was cuddly old Blevins or aggressive McGrath; then came Walter Skinner, their mainstay and at times nebulous, passive-aggressive ally; AD’s Jana Cassidy looking into Mulder’s domestic terrorism work or first AD, then DD, Alvin Kersh, a sheep in wolf’s clothing ultimately who served as a deeper antagonist to agents John Doggett & Monica Reyes during their overall tenure on the X-Files than Mulder or Scully.

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Many fellow FBI agents alongside our lead characters have come and gone over the years too, sometimes working side by side, other times in opposition. From poor old Reggie Purdue in ‘Young at Heart’, possessed Jack Willis in ‘Lazarus’ or Bob Patterson in ‘Grotesque’, to undercover assassins or turncoats like Alex Krycek, Jeffrey Spender or Diana Fowley, through to the next generation of Leila Harrison or Agents Miller & Einstein in the revival.

What about the ever present ‘Danny’ over the phone? The show’s Maris from Frasier, oft-referenced but never seen, always there to give Mulder a number he needs in exchange for Knicks tickets or some other inducement. This doesn’t even take into account the alien super soldier replacements inside the FBI, such as Agent Crane, or how shadowy players such as the Cigarette-Smoking Man or Toothpick Man could walk the halls with absolute power and impunity, few people quite sure exactly who they are.

Ultimately you can’t really have The X-Files without the FBI. As an organisation, they are an essential part of the cocktail, whether full of suspicious characters or angry bosses under the heel of those shadowy deceiving, inveigling and obfuscating forces. The fate of Mulder & Scully is to forever toil in the basement of this austere government agency and whatever the future of the X-Files, you can be assured the FBI will form some part of it.

You can follow Tony @Mr_AJ_Black.

Next week… G is for GHOSTS…

1013 Radio: Over the Rainbow

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Carl Sweeney returns for another 1013 Radio, talking a classic from Season 6’s ‘The Rain King’…
overtherainbowausIn the early days of The X-Files, it was almost impossible to imagine an episode ending with ‘Over the Rainbow’ playing on the soundtrack. By Season 6, though, the series had changed considerably, and ‘The Rain King’ does indeed conclude with Judy Garland’s Oscar-winning song

The song itself is one of the most famous American songs ever recorded. ‘Over the Rainbow’ (referred to by many as ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’) was written in 1939 by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. It’s an emotional ballad, sung in the first few minutes of the film when Dorothy is daydreaming about a better place than Kansas. The song won the Oscar that year for Best Original Song, and would remain Garland’s signature tune throughout her career. It’s not, however, a natural fit for The X-Files.

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‘The Rain King’ is a sweet little episode, perhaps most memorable for a scene where Mulder dodges a flying cow.  It’s a romantic comedy, really, about not just Mulder & Scully’s investigation in the local resident apparently able to control the weather for financial gain, but about the unrequited love meteorologist, Holman Hardt feels for Sheila Fontaine. Unusually for The X-Files, there’s even a happy ending. Holman & Sheila get together, and normal weather patterns are restored to the town. There’s a short postscript, set one year later: we hear ‘Over the Rainbow’ as we see Sheila cradling her newborn baby. Your mileage may vary, but I think it’s a nice little scene. But the question remains: how did The X-Files, renowned for its scares and its chills, get to the point where it could use a Judy Garland song?

The X-Files moved production to Los Angeles between Seasons 5 & 6. The move had an immediate effect on the series. Gone was the atmospheric drizzle and mist that were such a hallmark of filming in Vancouver. LA’s warmer climate was reflected in the brighter, warmer look of the series. ‘The Beginning’ would open the season with an image of the baking desert sun. ‘Drive’ and ‘Dreamland’ would make notable use of the different types of location that the series now had at its disposal. The show as a whole now had a generally lighter feel than before, which would last until Season 8 attempted to go back-to-basics. If the series hadn’t moved to LA, ‘The Rain King’ may have ended up a very different episode in look and feel.

The move to LA, in my view, not only changed the look of the series but also broadened the types of music that could be appropriately used on the show. Mark Snow’s scores for Season 6 are more varied and more comedic than before (listen to the music that accompanies Mulder’s mirror dance in Dreamland for a particularly stark example of this), and songs which would once have felt out of place now warrant inclusion. ‘Over the Rainbow’, which is very difficult to imagine being used in the early years of the show, feels suitable when used in ‘The Rain King’.

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* ‘The Rain King’ wasn’t the first time that the series had tipped its hat to The Wizard of Oz, of course. ‘Triangle’ is heavily indebted to the film, and in ‘Fight the Future’, Mulder jokingly refers to The Lone Gunmen as “Cowardly Lion…Scarecrow…Toto” (Frohike is the one who was unfairly compared to Dorothy’s canine companion).

You can follow Carl @csweeney758 on Twitter.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: Which X-Files character would you most like to go for a drink with?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question… Which X-Files character would you most like to go for a drink with, and why?

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TONY: “I think I’d like to go out raving with Jose Chung. Can you imagine how mad a night would be on the town with that guy? He’d have an entire bar at his mercy as he held court telling stories that got more & more paranoid & outlandish the more drinks he had!”

CARL: “Well, while you’re raving with Jose Chung I’ll be sharing a pitcher of beer with John Doggett. I think he’d be great company in a social situation, and I’m sure he has some fantastic stories to share from his time in the Marines. Runner-up: First Elder. I’ve always thought he sounded like a gangster, so I’d like to get him drunk and find out what his background really is.”

TONY: “I still reckon the First Elder is actually a Marlon Brando impersonator who wandered on set and they went “let’s give him a part!””

CARL: “Haha. If I had to go for a non-alcoholic drink, I think I’d have liked the opportunity to go to the Well-Manicured Man’s country estate, as seen in Fight the Future, for a cup of tea. As a working-class lad from the north of England, I’d find it interesting to rub shoulders with the upper-classes.”

BAZ: “Agree that Doggett would be great to have a beer with. I imagine the Lone Gunmen would be a lot of fun though. Full of wild stories and conspiracy theories, probably in disguise as they try and infiltrate a shadowy government organization while being sociable and bickering among themselves.”

MICHAEL: “I mean technically Frank Black was in The X-Files for an episode, so I would say him. I feel like it wouldn’t take long for him to open up about the things he’s seen and the things he’s had to do, which would be really interesting at first and then kind of depressing. CSM would be my runner up because I’d love to hear him muse on about his past.

TONY: “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man… in a pub!”

MICHAEL: “Exactly!”

SARAH: “I think The Lone Gunmen would be a lot of fun. Also, I’d love to chat with Josh Exley from ‘The Unnatural’. He’d probably have some interesting stories.”

SAM: “Can I say Stella Gibson? Ha! Otherwise (I want to say Scully but I don’t want to be predictable) I would have to say Doggett too. I think me and him would have blast in Sheffield on a Saturday night: pizza and cheesy chips after. Plus, he’s a badass so I’d feel totally safe!”

PAIGE: “So many candidates — and Jose Chung would certainly be a fun one — but I’m going for my drink with Reyes. She’s misunderstood by so many — particularly now since Season 10 muddied her waters. But she’s a straight shooter who thinks outside the lines. And whale sounds aside, she seems like a quality individual to know. S10 sure messed with that, but as her drinking buddy, I’m holding out hope that she was doing that because of Doggett.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

FAVOURITE X-FILES – “Die Hand Die Verletzt”

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Michael J. Petty discusses his favourite X-File, Die Hand Die Verletzt…

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“Even the Devil can quote Scripture to fit his needs.”

The X-Files is known most for its deep look into UFOs, aliens, and strange creatures or people like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, spirits, and freak shows. Maybe it’s the Christian in me or maybe it’s my interest in the spiritual/unseen realm, but one of my favorite episodes of The X-Files as a whole (and I’m not counting any Mythology episode mind you, that’s a whole different list) has got to be Kim Manners’ first X-File “Die Hand Die Verletzt”.

When Tony asked us to write an article on our favorite X-Files episodes, I knew I was going to have an issue. Between my love of the Mythology and my new-found love for the Monster-of-the-Week episodes, I was having a hard time. I nailed down my two favorite Monster episodes to “DHDV” and “X-COPS” (I know, weird huh?), but decided to write my article on the former (I’ll write about my favorite Mythology episode at another time).

“Die Hand Die Verletzt” is an X-Files episode that feels more like an episode of its unintentional spin-off series Millennium, this is probably because it is written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, and that could possibly be why I love it so much. Millennium was not afraid to dive deep into heavy spiritual, religious, and simply “human” stories that were oftentimes very hard to watch or even think of as possible in our everyday lives, though they might be (go watch “Somehow Satan Got Behind Me”). “DHDV” brilliantly encompasses all of that into one X-File that is not only chilling but makes you question what’s going on around you.

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From the beginning of the episode “DHDV” scares me. I’ve been a high school teenager, I know how dumb my friends and I were back then, but none of us would ever have considered going into the woods and invoking a demon to show up, whether we thought it would work (and it probably would) or not. That is however exactly what the kids do here and it ends in death. Lots of death.

Death isn’t obviously the reason I enjoy this episode, actually one of the themes of this episode, and The X-Files in general, that I really love is that of uncovering the truth. “The truth is out there” after all. Obviously The X-Files uncovers a lot of conspiracies, Mulder & Scully’s whole goal is always to find the truth in any given situation, but in this episode they never get the full picture, only most of it.

One of the scenes in the episode that always gets to me is the scene where the stepdaughter of one of the four Cultists tells Mulder and Scully of her dreams of satanic ritual abuse. She describes a basement in which she is cut, raped/impregnated, and tied down by her stepfather, and other Satanists, from a young age well into high school. This scene is extremely powerful and even more disturbing. While investigating into the girl’s home life, Mulder does in fact find this ritual basement and the door is immediately slammed in his face telekinetically by some unknown force. In fact, when talking to the parents, Scully finds out that none of their daughter’s claims could have been true, regardless of the evidence.

Whether or not that is true is never really revealed, but I have to take the time here to mention that Satanic Ritual Abuse is a huge issue and is one that is usually not discussed or publicized due to the people generally involved (in the case of this episode, members of the school board). My family and I have a friend who lives in Ohio who actually works with local police departments to help save and care for those who have been through satanic ritual abuse. This is a real issue and the supernatural forces that I believe are behind them would rather people think that it’s just “something on TV” as opposed to something that can and does happen. I assure you, it is, and the fact that this episode of The X-Files takes the time to discuss it makes it all that much better in my opinion.

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Moving from that point, “Die Hand Die Verletzt” has one of the creepiest, and most underrated, X-Files foes out there in Phyllis Paddock (her name a reference to the “toad demon” in Macbeth), whom many believe is actually either Azazel (the demon summoned at the beginning of the episode) or the Devil himself. Before Supernatural made demon possession and incantation popular, The X-Files aired one of their greatest episodes that showed these horrific events before we started seeing them on television every week.

When Azazel is summoned at the beginning of the episode, kids die, toads fall from the sky, and substitute teacher Phyllis Paddock, who no one can remember hiring, arrives at Crowley High. Paddock seems to be this sweet little lady at first, but like Gibson Praise playing pro-chess she moves the cultists and our favorite federal agents around the board to face off against each other, resulting in her slaughtering the cultists (one by use of a snake) and then thanking the agents for their “help” in killing Azazel’s former followers.

Paddock represents deep, dark, old evil and to me that’s what makes her one of the most dangerous villains that Mulder and Scully ever encountered. The interesting thing about “DHDV” is that the agents don’t actually go up against Paddock and instead kind of help her accomplish her goal. Paddock may be one of probably five X-Files villains that I desired to see in a sequel episode, and who knows maybe one day we will.

When talking about “Die Hand Die Verletzt”, X-Files creator Chris Carter said,

“It was a fun script that turned this big corner when the girl had the emotional breakdown. It suddenly became a very creepy, dark, disturbing episode. It was vintage Glen and Jim, and we had a great, great performance by the guest stars. A really good, solid episode that actually veered a little more toward the horror genre. But it worked because of Mulder and Scully.”

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I couldn’t agree more. Morgan and Wong were some of the best writers The X-Files ever had and the ritual abuse scene, as I said before, is extremely powerful, but what really ties this episode together is, as always, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Scully is immediately skeptical, go figure, of demon possession, incantations, and witchcraft as told of (and seen) in this episode, even when toads fall from the sky and unexplainable things begin to happen, as they tend to do.

This really adds to the episode and brings to the table a natural and understandable attitude of skepticism to all of these concepts. There are times where Scully being the skeptic can bother me (maybe it’s because at my heart I’m a believer), but not only does it work here, but actually adds to the mystery, especially when the girl’s parents tell the agents that their daughter’s story could not be true due to their youngest daughter’s death as an infant.

On the other hand, Mulder adds just as much as the believer. Immediately understanding the implications of a demonic incantation, Mulder knows what he’s getting into, and as the agents uncover the dark mystery that have bewitched the town of Milford Haven he is vital in learning that the cultist’s sect exists. Plus, Mulder just adds a certain charm to The X-Files, no matter the episode, that I just can’t deny.

At the end of the day I love The X-Files. The Mythology is one of my favorite television sagas/mysteries and nothing can really top it in my opinion (my favorite Mythology episode review is coming guys, don’t worry), but the Monster-of-the-Week episodes have really grown on me in the past year and I’ve really enjoyed going back and watching them. “Die Hand Die Verletzt” is an incredible and very different episode of The X-Files that, for personal, spiritual, and thematic reasons as always appealed to be and as I said at the beginning it feels like a Millennium episode. I hope you guys enjoyed my thoughts on this episode and I hope you go back and rewatch this one.

Michael is a follower of Christ, a filmmaker, writer, and occasional podcaster. You can find him on Twitter @MJPETTY7