The X-Files A-Z: K is for KILLERS

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…

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1013 RADIO: Beyond the Sea

In the first of a new series of articles charting the music involved in The X-Files, ‘1013 Radio’, join Carl Sweeney as he goes somewhere… beyond the sea…

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Bobby Darin’s version of ‘Beyond the Sea’ is probably the definitive rendition of a song that has been covered by many diverse artists, from Django Reinhardt to Robbie Williams. It’s a romantic pop song about separated lovers that charted in the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic for Darin. The song is used memorably in an early episode of The X-Files with the same name.

The episode was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong. Morgan and Wong regularly incorporated different types of music into their scripts for The X-Files, from Bach to Johnny Mathis. Their use of pop music in the early days of the series paved the way for other writers to follow suit later on, though we shouldn’t hold them accountable for Mulder line-dancing to ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ in season 10.

We first hear the song at the funeral of Scully’s father, who died at the beginning of the episode. As his ashes are scattered in the water, Mrs Scully explains that the song had been playing on the day he returned from the Cuban blockade and proposed marriage (this is an example of Morgan and Wong’s fondness for intertwining fiction and 20th century history). Given the lyrical content of the song, this is of course highly appropriate. Bill Scully’s Naval career is central to the way he is represented in The X-Files, as exemplified by the music here and references to Moby Dick in this and other episodes.

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Later, the incarcerated killer Luther Lee Boggs (the fantastic Brad Dourif) unsettles Scully by singing, not very tunefully, a portion of the song to her. Boggs’ knowledge of this, and other personal information, coupled with Scully’s vision of her dead father, are at the centre of a superb character piece. It’s probably the best episode of the first season.

Darin’s music would be used several times in the second season of Millennium, as part of Morgan and Wong’s attempt to humanise Frank Black. There’s one further link to the 1013 universe. Morgan’s brother Darin, who would join The X-Files writing staff in 1994, is reportedly named after the singer.

Interestingly, you may not hear Darin’s ‘Beyond the Sea’ when you watch this episode. His recording is on the UK DVD and Bluray release. When viewed on Amazon Prime though, you’ll hear Charles Trenet’s ‘La Mer’ instead (‘La Mer’ was written in the 1940s and has the same music as ‘Beyond the Sea’ but a different lyrical focus). I’m not sure what the reason for the change is, and whether it’s the same in other territories. I can only assume this is because of a rights issue.

You can follow Carl on Twitter @csweeney758.

Introductions – Growing up Spooky – Sam Turton

Friend: “Did you see the pilot episode?”

Me: “Oh yeah, it was amazing.”

Friend: “I thought the chimp body in the coffin was really scary!”

Me: “Yeah me too.”

This was my very first conversation regarding The X-Files. I had no idea what The X-Files was, I had no idea what a ‘pilot episode’ was. I thought it must be an episode about a pilot. Seems legit.

It was the ‘one to watch’ programme and I didn’t want to be the one kid who didn’t watch it, even though it sounded terrifying, was on at 9pm on Sunday, and I was in Y6 (11 years old). I got home that day and told my mum all about it and begged her to let me watch it that coming Sunday: I wasn’t disappointed. I think my journey started with ‘Squeeze’. You can’t get a much better episode to be your own personal pilot episode!

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Mum was worried I’d have nightmares and never sleep with the light off again; how wrong she was! I was hooked. It became the last ray of weekend light before school again on Monday; it also became a great bargaining tool for the parents. It was The X-Files then bed. So, it became the reason I got in the bath when I was told, the reason I didn’t leave my homework till the last minute, the reason I made my bed in the morning…

I loved being able to join in conversations with my best friend about our new favourite show; we bought T-shirts, made our own collages, got loads of merchandise for Christmas and birthdays… I do remember my auntie questioning my mum’s decision to let me watch it:

“Isn’t that a bit scary? It’s all monsters, and blood, and aliens…”

Yeah it is! That’s what made it amazing! It was all make believe told in a real life way; you didn’t have to be scared because you knew they weren’t real. It was the greatest escape into your imagination.

Anyway, how could you be scared when you knew that the two greatest heroes would save the day? The two most amazing adults in the world! Dana Scully became my heroine, my idol; Fox Mulder became the first boy I ever fancied. It was perfect; perfect episode after perfect episode.

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Obviously, looking back, there are some pretty shaky episodes in series one, definitely not all perfect! In my opinion, ‘Fire’ is the worst episode of the entire canon (‘Babylon’ is a close second: don’t get me started!) ‘Beyond the Sea’ blew me away, and it still remains one of my favourites, probably top ten. Luther Lee Boggs also makes my top ‘monster’ list: amazing acting from Brad Dourif. I remember it being the episode when I really fell in love with Mulder and Scully and really began to care about what happened to them. Of course, as a kid, I also really wanted them to get together: I think they became my generation’s Scott & Charlene.

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The love for this ground-breaking series followed me all the way through secondary school; it formed major parts in science projects, prose writing, and Scully became the reason that I started dying my hair red with semi-permanents at age 13 and carried on with permanents all the way until about a month ago: almost 10 years! I was, and still am, one of those people that can’t believe that there are some people who have never seen it, or have seen it and don’t love it. It became a bit of a mission to convert non-believers: this culminated this year with finally getting my boyfriend to watch all 9 series, and now he loves it too! Series 10 is on the cards.

Throughout the years, one thing has remained constant for me: Scully is the greatest character (possibly in any TV show EVER) and Gillian Anderson is an absolute legend. I love that woman. I loved Science at school: all the dissections, experiments and wearing the white coat. I always pretended I was Scully and some possible major disaster hung on me mixing my bases and acids properly. When I was dissecting a liver, I pretended it belonged to a suspected alien, or had been recovered from Tooms’ lair…

Then, as an adult, I became a teacher (English, not science) and I saw how between the ages of 11 and 15, girls started to lose a love of science. They stopped looking forward to experiments, to making volcanoes with baking powder and vinegar, to throwing small bits of magnesium into water… what was happening? It was then that I became aware of the ‘Dana Scully effect’: the increase in women and girls pursuing STEM subjects at school and University in the 90s/early 00s. I think that says it all. A character so amazing that she inspired young women to follow their passions, and change the world, even though they might have been told that it wasn’t ‘feminine’ (I’m going to blog about this at another time).

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Oh, and can we take a minute to bathe in the glory that is Stella Gibson? Wow. Is this possibly the greatest example feminism around at the minute?

Gibson: “That’s what really bothers you isn’t it? The one-night stand? Man f*cks woman. Subject man, verb f*cks, object woman. That’s okay. Woman f*cks man. Woman subject, man object. That’s not so comfortable for you is it?”

It’s Wednesday 28th September today and series 3 of The Fall starts tomorrow. I can’t wait.

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For me, The X-Files will always be my favourite ever TV show, starring my two favourite actors in my favourite roles. It’s only by re-watching the whole series recently that I can see how much it affected my teenage life. I love it and I always will, even the really bad episodes with the really bad special effects. Series 10 wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea; it certainly wasn’t mine, but roll on series 11!

Sam Turton will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can find her on Twitter @yorkshireramble.