My First Time: Forensics, Messageboards, and Philedom

Welcome to “My First Time,” a recurring section on the blog where we query fellow X-Philes about how they came to the show, and then later on how their fandom developed and evolved over the years.

Case File: RR042813
Subject: Rebecca Ross

This next interview in our continuing series profiling Philes is with Rebecca, a good friend of mine from the UK whom I met online via the messageboards on The X-Files‘ IMDB page. Here we reminisce and explore what drew her to the series and sparked an obsession.

IMDB

Where we met way back when. (Logo iMDB)

Max: So Becky, what was your first episode that you remember seeing?

Rebecca: My first episode was ‘F. Emasculata.”

Max: What do you remember about watching the episode? Did you watch it when it first aired over there in the UK or was this a bit after that?

F. Emasculata

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Rebecca: It would have been a day or so after it aired in 1995 when I was 10 as my mum insisted on recording it to see if it was suitable or not, I’m surprised she let me watch bearing in mind the episode. A girl called Francis had mentioned there was a show I might like while were were getting ready for a PE lesson and I asked my mum if I could watch. I watched it alone in my bedroom on a roll mat on the floor which I had there as I was going on a guides camping trip that weekend. I can remember hoping all the way through that Scully didn’t die as I didn’t know anything about the show, I fell in love with the character immediately. I have always loved anything gross or a little gory from being a kid so it was a great introduction to the show. Continue reading

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4×09: Terma

“What evidence are you then presenting us with today?” – Senator Sorenson
“Documents and interviews in support of a wide-ranging conspiracy to control a lethal bio-toxin that is, in fact, extra-terrestrial in origin.” – Dana Scully

The international intrigue surrounding the extraterrestrial rock concludes as Mulder gambles to escape from the gulag and Scully tries to continue her investigation while still under Congressional subpoena.

Terma

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: When last we left our heroes, Mulder was imprisoned and infected with the black oil, and Scully was threatened with imprisonment herself if she didn’t cooperate with the Senate investigation into the death of the courier. Complicating the events of “Tunguska,” “Terma” follows the parallel tracks of Mulder, Scully, the CSM/WMM, and a reactivated Soviet-era spy as every faction are at cross-purposes in either containing or exposing the evidence of the infectious black oil.

Mulder, while being lead out into the prison yard for manual labor, takes it upon himself to escape his captors, taking Krycek hostage and commandeering a truck making deliveries to the camp. In an action-packed sequence, Mulder is pursued by guards on horseback, while Krycek bolts from the flatbed of the truck when Mulder is distracted after the brakes fail and he is forced to crash. Continue reading

4×08: Tunguska

“What I’m worried about is you, Mulder and how far you’ll go. And how far I can follow you.” — Dana Scully

Mulder travels to Russia with everyone’s favorite turncoat, Alex Krycek, investigating the source of a black oil contamination. Meanwhile, Skinner and Scully must field an intimidating line of questioning about his whereabouts.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: We’ve talked about The X-Files’ cinematic moments before — spurts of artistic filming and blockbuster-esque sequences peppered the series throughout its early years, even while some scenes were shot with the artistic integrity of a low-budget health class video. (Come on, we can admit it.) Well, “Tunguska” takes on even more action movie-like qualities than previous mythology installments, so while it’s classically X-Files on many levels, it almost makes you forget you’re watching the same show you’ve been watching all along.

The episode’s events can be traced to an incident involving a courier from the Republic of Georgia, who gets searched by customs officers upon touching U.S. soil. A glass canister removed from the man’s briefcase shatters, exposing the men in to the black oil we first encountered back in “Piper Maru.” Elsewhere, Mulder and Scully encounter the traitorous Alex Krycek, who claims he can expose the Smoking Man, amongst others. Krycek leads the agents to another courier carrying a diplomatic pouch from Russia — the pouch contains a seemingly harmless rock. Continue reading

4×07: Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man

“Cancer Man? What did you find?” – Fox Mulder
“Possibly everything. Maybe his background. Who he is, and who he wants to be.” – Melvin Frohike

In receipt of some particularly juicy bits of intelligence, The Lone Gunmen convene a meeting with our heroes to shed light on one of their most formidable adversaries.

Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: As we’ve moved into the middle third of the series’ run with our coverage of the fourth season, faithful readers have probably noticed that this one has gotten off to a bit of a rough start with some subpar episodes (excepting outings like “Home” and “Unruhe“). However, our fortunes have shifted for the better with “Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man,” a classic outing that purportedly shades in the background of one of the series’ most shadowy characters, and ruminates on the psychology of power.

The strength of this episode lives and dies on the abilities of William B. Davis and Chris Owens to portray the older and younger (respectively) Cigarette Smoking Man with a greater range of material than what has typically been given to the “chain smoking son of a bitch.” With Mulder and Scully as well as the The Lone Gunmen being reduced to voices on CSM’s surveillance of the TLG offices, this episode is perhaps the show’s most experimental outing to date. Mulder and Scully typically have a case to investigate, and we as the audience are taken on a wild ride into the paranormal. Here, there is no case, nothing to solve, only revelations about a man who has constantly thwarted our agents at every turn. Continue reading

4×06: Sanguinarium

“Well if it’s that simple, why don’t you put out an APB for someone riding a broom and wearing a tall black hat?” — Dana Scully

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

The X-Files goes Nip/Tuck before there was a Nip/Tuck by mixing up plastic surgery and witchcraft all at once.

Radhika: The X-Files often used established writers to pen its episodes, but it was also a show that occasionally relied on a spec script, which allowed less experienced writers to write for programs they may not have been part of otherwise. In some cases, this worked out really well — Vince Gilligan, now a force to be reckoned with in the industry, wrote “Soft Light” back in season two as a spec project. His effort went on to land him a solid future on The X-Files, where he went on to write more episodes, while also serving as a co-executive producer on even more.

But that was the story of Vince Gilligan and “Soft Light.” I would say that “Sanguinarium” never quite showed that level of promise. And the writers, sisters Valerie and Vivian Mayhew, who did go on to do some more work in television at least until 2001 or so, never really went on to build the reputation that Gilligan did for himself.

“Sanguinarium” isn’t “The Field Where I Died” awful, but it’s not great either. It kind of starts out promising and has a dark enough tone to still feel a bit classic X-Files, despite the fact that something also feels a bit off. But that’s just it: Something still manages to feel off. Continue reading

4×05: The Field Where I Died

“Your eyes may have changed shade, but it cannot color the soul behind them. We have come together in this life, this time. Only to meet in passing. It is so heartbreaking to wait.” – Melissa Riedal-Ephesian

Mulder and Scully are assigned by Skinner to a case reminiscent of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas. Their investigation of paranormal claims soon clashes with the need for the Bureau to seize munitions claimed to be held at this group’s compound.

The Field Where I Died

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: “The Field Where I Died” is, on all accounts, a difficult episode to like, and an even harder one to love. Penned by the classic X-Files duo of Glen Morgan and James Wong, it folds an exploration of past lives into a race against the clock against a religious cult that reportedly has acquired a cache of firearms. The problem for many is that the past life aspect comes to completely dominate the proceedings, and the results of this exploration are uneven at best, maudlin and overwrought at worst.

The episode opens propulsively, with our heroes and and a joint FBI/ATF task force descending on the compound of a charismatic Christian sect called the Temple Of The Seven Stars. Made aware of weapons at the compound (and child abuse to boot) by a church member turned informant. Seeking temple leader Vernon Ephesian, the task force is unable to locate him. Continue reading

4×04: Unruhe

“For truly to pursue monsters, we must understand them. We must venture into their minds. Only in doing so, do we risk letting them venture into ours?” — Dana Scully

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Mulder and Scully investigate a case involving a man who kidnaps women and lobotomizes them. But the clues they find have a more supernatural twist involving psychic photography.

Radhika: It’s been a while since I’ve watched “Unruhe,” but upon watching it again, I remembered why I always had a tendency to enjoy the MOTW episodes a little more than the mythology (gasp, I know). When done right, the MOTW episodes can be so good — and “Unruhe” is a pretty solid example of that.

In this episode, Mulder and Scully investigate when a woman, Mary Lefante, goes missing after going to get her passport photo taken. Her boyfriend has also been murdered. The only clue is in the developed passport photo, which shows Lefante looking terrified against a distorted background.

While searching Lefante’s apartment, Mulder takes a photo of his gloved hand, which produces the same image. From this, he deduces that the camera is picking up thoughts from the kidnapper’s mind. Continue reading