Season 2

2x01 Little Green Men

Air date: 09-16-94
Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong
Editor: Stephen Mark
Director: David Nutter
Director of Photography: John S. Bartley, C.S.C.
Documented Phenomenon: Close Encounter

Episode summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

This episode opens with Mulder narrating about the Voyager Project, in which probes were sent out into deep space, laden with human artifacts and information - with the purpose of introducing the human race to any extra-terrestrial species that might intercept it. The Project stems from our human need to know if there is anyone else out there. Mulder goes on to talk about the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory in Puerto Rico, a high resolution scanning facility of immense power and capability that is trained on the skies above us, searching and listening for signs of other life. As Mulder bemoans the fact that the X-Files have now been shut down -- much like the Arecibo facility -- we scan the dark and empty recesses of the observatory. Only for them to suddenly spring back into life with a communication of unknown origin.

With the closure of the X-Files division, Mulder is now relegated to routine wiretap duty. Holed up in a seedy motel, he is bored and depressed, eating his way through bags of sunflower seeds. Scully, meanwhile, has been reassigned to a teaching position at Quantico, where she is delivering lessons on autopsies. Despite her professional veneer, Scully, too, seems to miss her old assignment. When she passes Mulder in the corridor at the FBI building in Washington, he doesn't even acknowledge her, partly because there's an element of danger to their meeting up again, but probably mainly down to the fact that he's depressed, having had that which he holds most dear taken away from him. Scully gets word to him - via an upturned photo of Samantha on his desk as a signal - that she wants to meet. Rather appropriately, they do so under cover of darkness in the parking lot of the Watergate Hotel, scene of many a clandestine meeting. Seeing him emerge from the shadows, he reminds Scully of Deep Throat. Mulder blankly informs her that Deep Throat is dead and that he watched the funeral at Arlington Cemetery through a pair of high-powered binoculars. Mulder also tells her that it's dangerous for them to meet, though she hasn't seen any indication that they're being watched. Scully gets to the root of Mulder's depressive streak. It's not just that he's been robbed of his beloved X-Files and that he's been put on duties way beneath his talents, but that after all that he was witnessed during his time on the X-Files, he still has nothing. Not a streak of incontrovertible proof. He's even at the point now that he's started to question Samantha's abduction. Scully urges him to not give up.

Mulder flashes back to the night that Samantha was taken in 1973. The two children have been left alone for the night, playing Stratego. Samantha complains about the Watergate hearings going on in the background, which she finds boring. The two argue when suddenly the lights go out and everything starts shaking. Strange lights and noises surround them. The young Fox is frozen in fear as the door opens and a strange non-human appears. A scream from his sister alerts him to the fact that she is levitating and being drawn out of the room. The boy dashes for his father's gun but it is useless. He watches in horror as his sister disappears. Waking up suddenly from this obsessive nightmare, Mulder finds he has a visitor - an emissary from his old contact, Senator Matheson. The senator has been friendly to Mulder's cause over the years and now, masked by a Bach concerto playing loudly in his office to avoid prying ears, he informs him that he has only 24 hours to get to the Arecibo station in Puerto Rico to follow up on the mysterious radio transmission.

With Mulder gone, the heat falls on Scully who is questioned by Assistant Director Skinner as to her former partner's whereabouts. Naturally, Scully doesn't know, though the Cigarette Smoking Man is also interested in finding out where Mulder might be. The Smoking Man seems convinced that Scully will eventually lead them to Mulder.

Mulder arrives at Arecibo to find the place deserted and without power. Some of the computers are running, however.

Back at Mulder's apartment, Scully is searching for some clues as to his whereabouts. She logs onto his computer and sees details about the printout that Matheson gave Mulder concerning what was going on in Arecibo. She manages to successfully print it out before some agents enter Mulder's apartment, asking why she is there. Under the guise of feeding his fish whenever he's away, she retrieves the printout from the wastepaper basket.

Mulder is not alone at Arecibo, however. A Puerto Rican has managed to hide in the lavatory, paralysed with fear. It turns out his name is Jorge Concepcion and he has been hiding from the strange visitors from the sky.

Scully takes the printout to the US Naval Observatory where she discovers that it's all about the Wow! signal, a radio transmission sent from outer space and the best evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence known to man. She has to undertake some more research -- including dozens of flight manifests -- to determine from which observatory it came. Finally, on a passenger list for a flight from Washington to San Juan, Puerto Rico, she recognises the name George Hale, one of Mulder's aliases.

As a storm gathers outside the observatory in Arecibo, the radio signals intensify, frightening Jorge all the more. He takes off into the night, forcing Mulder to go look for him. He finds the poor man literally frightened to death.

At the Florida airport, Scully is all too aware that she is being tracked. Ever resourceful, she manages to lose her tails by making them think she's flying to the Caribbean. With them gone, she buys a ticket to San Juan.

On his own in an isolated hut with a corpse, Mulder is rather spooked. He finds the lack of concrete evidence deeply frustrating, and realises that Scully was his bulwark and now she's been taken from him. His monologue into his tape recorder is interrupted when the room starts shaking and lights start flashing. The computers start going haywire, printing out reams of data. Mulder is truly scared as he comes to the horrific realization that he's too frightened to face the very thing he has been seeking all this time. This visitation must be all the more terrifying for him as it's almost an exact rerun of what happened the night Samantha was taken, complete with the appearance of an unearthly figure in the doorway.

When he comes to, Mulder finds it is Scully peering at him anxiously. She was sure he was dead. Mulder is now re-engaged, alive with enthusiasm as he knows he finally has proof. They are interrupted by the arrival of the tactical crash retrieval team. They are forced to grab what they can before fleeing the forces in a high speed chase, whilst being shot at. With some fancy driving, Mulder is able to make good their escape.

Back in Washington, Mulder gets balled-out by Skinner for deserting his post. Mulder knows he's been assigned to surveillance as a form of punishment, though the news that his own phone was tapped is news to Skinner. The Assistant Director is starting to realise the actual insidious nature of the Cigarette Smoking Man and orders him out of his office. But Mulder is far from off the hook and is ordered back to his dreary wiretap duties.

Listening to the tape they took from Arecibo, Mulder and Scully find themselves in a familiar situation. The tape is blank. They have no evidence. They are back to square one. The difference now is that Mulder is determined not to be cowed by this defeat. He knows the truth is out there, and he will find it.

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

  • It's generally acknowledged that Scully had her big epiphany episode with Beyond the Sea in Season 1. At the time, David Duchovny remarked to writers James Wong and Glen Morgan that it would be nice if they could do the same for his character. And that's exactly what they did with Little Green Men. In this episode, we see Mulder go from one of his lowest points to become re-invested in the passion that he had lost, or had indeed been drummed out of him. Mulder also comes to realise several other things much deeper about himself, too. The first is obviously his reliance on Scully. The relationship might have wavered in the first season on occasion but here, although the two are made to be kept apart, once he is alone in Puerto Rico, Mulder knows that Scully is the one thing that holds him together. And the other thing that Mulder learns in the course of this episode is that chasing aliens is all very well, but it's terrifying when they do come calling. For all Mulder's enthusiasm to have contact with alien lifeforms, when it does happen for real, he's transfixed with fear.
  • There are some interesting parallels going on here. Compare how Samantha's abduction plays out (including Mulder reaching for a gun and shooting it to no avail) with the actual visitation at Arecibo. It largely follows the same tack. And just as Mulder needs to have his quest re-affirmed to start feeling properly again, Scully needs her partner just as much. A gentle touch on the head in the Watergate parking lot and a touch on this hand at the end of the episode reveal to us that Scully needs Mulder as much as he needs her. These are telling little physical details which reveal acres about the characters (and inadvertently helped give birth to the "shipper" movement).
  • The line, "You're a pig" uttered by a unknown woman on Mulder's answering machine that Scully listens to while searching Mulder's apartment, as well as the seductive tone of the caller are revealing. Considering that socially, Mulder is regarded as a renegade, a misfit at the Bureau, and a loner, he still is capable of holding his own with the opposite sex. Certainly, this caller represents an untold aspect of Mulder's personal life. These little side characterizations keep Mulder compelling, while reinforcing that he is, after all, a damaged person with a handsome façade. Matt Allair
  • A lot of fans have nitpicked about how Mulder's vision of Samantha's abduction here differs radically from the tale he tells in Season 1's Conduit. Having undergone regression therapy, it's not entirely out of the picture that Mulder's memories might be distorted by the trauma of the event. (Or it could be just plain old bad continuity.)
  • The episode, one could argue, makes comparisons or implicit references to two memorable sequences from Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The abduction of Samantha shares a similarity to the iconic abduction of little Barry Guiler in the famous opening of the door to the UFO's sequence. Mulder's eyewitness incident of the alien at the door of the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory in Puerto Rico shares a similarity with the tall alien at the steps of the mother-ship at the end of Spielberg's film. Matt Allair
  • For producer Joseph Patrick Finn one of the biggest challenges was trying to make Vancouver into a convincing Puerto Rico. In the main, the crew were successful in this, although if you look closely in the background of some scenes you can see pine trees, which are not naturally indigenous to the Central American state.

Episode Summary / Points to consider / Production analysis

Writers Morgan and Wong deliver an almost seamless episode--one that sets up a new standard for the series. The episode manages to feel ambitious yet claustrophobic. Bartley's cinematic sensibility comes into play in several sequences. The episode manages to be a positive harbinger of what the public would see and grow to love over the next season. It also had a noticeable ratings bump of 10.3, probably due to the summer reruns cycle, that allowed the public the time to discover the show. The character of Senator Richard Matheson is an homage to the great sci-fi writer who has given us such classics as "The Incredible Shrinking Man", several of Roger Corman's adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe horror stories in the 60s, as well as episodes of "The Twilight Zone", and the original "Night Stalker" TV series. The latter was of course cited by Chris Carter as being one of the chief inspirations for "The X-Files". Mr. Matheson is also a highly respected novelist, and the writer of such iconic genre novels as "I Am Legend", as well as "Bid-Time Return", which was later made into Somewhere In Time (1980). Indeed, Carter wanted Darren McGavin, the actor who first played Carl Kolchak in the original "Night Stalker" series, to take the part of Matheson. McGavin was unavailable so character actor Raymond J. Barry was cast instead. Robin England / Matt Allair

McGavin (who had also been sought to play the part of Mulder's father) would later appear in the series as Arthur Dales, founder of The X-Files. James Wong has commented in X-Files Confidential, about the unavailability of Darren McGavin, noting: "I'm not sure what happened. Our casting director called before we started the second season and spoke to McGavin's agent and said, 'We want him for the first show; lock him up, and we're willing to pay the price.' By the time it came down to getting him, suddenly the agent said, "he doesn't know about the show' or 'he's not available'." * Senator Matheson was originally going to be the voice behind the opening narration; this was changed to allow David Duchovny to do it instead. Robin England / Matt Allair

The Plaza of Nations building in Vancouver doubled up for Miami International Airport. At one point, it looked like a steel drum group would interrupt filming but they were persuaded to stop playing during takes. A giveaway that Gillian Anderson is not actually in Miami can be spotted when Scully uses a payphone and inserts a 20 cent coin - which of course doesn't exist in the USA. The Arecibo Forest / Costa Rican location was approximated at the Seymour Demonstration Forest. The series benefited from the fact that the west-coast rainforest seasonal changes would provide different types of vegetation with a variety of colors. Robin England / Matt Allair

Raymond J. Barry was one of those fortunate casting developments, initially under disappointing circumstances. Originally coming from a theatre background, Barry moved into feature films starting the in mid-seventies. Barry has noted how he was cast as Senator Matheson: "They called my agent and asked me if I wanted to do it, and at the time I could use the money, so I did it. (Laughs) I try to stay away from television. I find the medium to be--I don't know--a step below film, and I try to stay clear of it if I can. If I'm broke I'll do it. At the time I was broke. (Laughs)" During the third season, the Producers wanted Barry back for Nisei and there ended up being some negotiation snags. "I didn't have a negative time on The X-Files. My agents were dealing with all that. When I finally showed up and did it...it was a pleasure. I prepared, I knew my words. Everybody is very cool in terms of just "let's get this thing done." I'll tell you something. What complaint could anyone have? You walk out there, they've got all the food on the table, you got your chair with your name on it. How could you possibly complain? God forbid I would have to do an honest day's work. You know what I mean?"*

Raymond J. Barry's role as Senator Matheson is another in a long line of character parts that this gifted actor has played over the years. One of his most memorable roles in recent years was playing Tom Cruise's father in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July (1989). He's also appeared in Falling Down, Dead Man Walking and Little Children. On TV, he's been in L.A. Law, Melrose Place, CSI and played the father of Melissa George's character on the third season of Alias.

Mike Gomez who plays Jorge Concepcion hails from Dallas, Texas. His feature film work includes The Big Lebowski, The Milagro Beanfield War, Heartbreak Ridge and Zoot Suit. His television appearances are extensive. He has appeared in Shark, Bones, Desperate Housewives, Walker, Texas Ranger, Chicago Hope, Star Trek: The Next Generation, T.J. Hooker and Hill Street Blues. Matt Allair

Young actor Marcus Turner who played the 12-year-old Fox Mulder, recently appeared in such features as Air Bud: Golden Retriever. Other television appearances include Can of Worms, Ronnie & Julie, and Prisoner of Zenda, Inc. Matt Allair

Les Carlson, who plays Dr. Troisky, has a very extensive body of work that continues into the early 70s. His recent feature work involves made-for-television films, Snow, Anonymous Rex, Haven, Catch A Falling Star, Moonshine Highway, and Morning Glory. His other television appearances include Sue Thomas- F.B. Eye, Road to Avonlea, Highlander, 21 Jump Street, MacGyver, Friday the 13th: The Series, and The Twilight Zone. Mr. Carlson has been regularly used in a number of David Cronenberg films, The Fly, The Dead Zone, and Videodrome for which he was nominated for a Genie Award for best supporting actor. He also appeared in the horror cult favorite, Black Christmas. Matt Allair

* Quote source: "Beyond Mulder and Scully" by Andy Mangels, © 1998 Citadel Press

Episode synopsis, review and production notes: Robin J. England
Additional production notes: Matt Allair
Page Editor: XScribe

Please visit J.J. Lindl's Tumbler account, The X-Files Poster Project, to find out how to purchase his work: http://xfilesposterproject.tumblr.com/

Back to top

 

2x01 Little Green Men
2x02 The Host
2x03 Blood
2x04 Sleepless
2x05 Duane Barry
2x06 Ascension
2x07 3
2x08 One Breath
2x09 Firewalker
2x10 Red Museum
2x11 Excelsis Dei
2x12 Aubrey
2x13 Irresistible
2x14 Die Hand Die Verletzt
2x15 Fresh Bones
2x16 Colony
2x17 End Game
2x18 Fearful Symmetry
2x19 Død Kalm
2x20 Humbug
2x21 The Calusari
2x22 F. Emasculata
2x23 Soft Light
2x24 Our Town
2x25 Anasazi