Air date: 02-17-95
Writer: Frank Spotnitz
Director: Rob Bowman
Editor: James Coblentz
Director of Photography: John S. Bartley, C.S.C.
Documented Phenomenon: Alien-Human Hybrids
Eighty-seven miles North of Deadhorse, Alaska, in the Beaufort Sea, the USS Allegiance submarine cruises at 1000 feet under water. The crew (which at the time is on a cartography mission) picks up something strange in the ocean on their radar: An object is emitting strange radio signals. The captain calls an admiral, who seems to give him the order to fire on it immediately, (conversation not audible) because he then begins identifying it as an unknown craft and prepares to fire at it. Then, all of a sudden, the power goes out accompanied by a high pitch alarm. When the crew regains their bearings, they realize they are too far under solid ice to surface immediately.
Continuing from the last episode: Scully hangs up with a confused real-Mulder while bounty hunter shape shifter-Mulder plays dumb in the room with her. Scully draws her firearm and tells the bounty hunter to get against the wall at which point he quickly overpowers her, knocking her unconscious after asking for Mulder's location. He then kidnaps her. Mulder's sister, Samantha, starts pouring out answers when Mulder gets to the scene, explaining that Scully is alive, was kidnapped and deceived into letting the bounty hunter in if he looked like Mulder, and that the bounty hunter's vulnerable spot (the only way he can be killed) is at the base of the skull (a method she is "fairly sure" will work).
Mulder essentially becomes frustrated at which point Samantha explains a "...colony...it is their belief that our stewardship of the planet is forsaken..." She further explains an agenda for hybridization and "access to fetal tissue in abortion clinics," which helped experimentation turn into reality, the point of which was to combine or hybridize human and alien DNA. She also further explains that the bounty hunter was sent to eliminate the clone race and that Mulder should trust her because she is, after all...his sister. Skinner knocks at the door and Mulder tells him the door is open. Mulder and Samantha can't really be sure if Skinner is the bounty hunter disguised so when Skinner enters, all the lights are out and Samantha starts creeping toward Skinner, then all at once, Mulder stands up with his gun and his sister labels Skinner as really himself. A fearful Scully calls and gives Mulder the Intel to a meet up with the bounty hunter on a bridge for an exchange: Scully for Samantha. Skinner sets up a sniper team to take the special shot aimed at the base of the skull. Mulder warns Samantha not to do anything risky and comforts her by explaining that the snipers know what they are doing. The exchange is made, the sniper and Mulder take aim, Mulder pleads with the bounty hunter to let Samantha go, but the bounty hunter falls with her off the bridge into the body of water below.
The following morning, law enforcement teams in boats search the lake for Samantha's body as Mulder and Scully question the validity of Samantha in general and how to explain her death to Mulder's father. Mulder goes to his father's house to explain losing Samantha at which point he breaks down crying, both out of stress and guilt, and regresses to a boy-like state in the presence of his father, realizing he must confront his mother now, with the news. "I'm sorry, Dad, I'm sorry."
Next, he goes to a woman's health clinic (an abortion clinic), while Scully calls him to tell him they retrieved the body from the river. After Scully hangs up, other FBI agents call her attention to Mulder's sister's body, which seems to be rapidly decomposing into a green, ooze like, substance. Meanwhile, back at the clinic, Mulder confronts more clones of his sister. These clones urge him to different rooms with even more clones, a green liquid in glass containers, and scientific equipment. Finally they explain that Mulder must save an "original, the one from which we all came," at which point Mulder becomes so confused he becomes disenchanted and chooses to walk out, when a smoke alarm goes off and the bounty hunter knocks Mulder to the floor. When Mulder starts to regain consciousness, a fireman is helping him out and explains he is the only person in the building. In Scully's report many questions are left unanswered, as well as the cause of death in Agent Weiss. "...this retro virus goes dormant in cold temperatures," says a fellow scientist trying to help Scully connect the dots.
In the closing scene, it is revealed that Chester is the boy who had died in the riot several weeks earlier. We finally see our friendly neighborhood graveyard keeper burying Wharton. His dog seems overly interested in the casket, and the camera pans to show the interior of the coffin, where we see Colonel Wharton, now very much alive, frantically screaming and beating on the lid of the coffin.
At the end, Mulder meets X who tells him, "The fat lady is singing...You'll only win the war if you pick the right battles, Agent Mulder. This is a battle you can't win." Scully goes into Mulder's apartment only to check Mulder's email which contains a message for her that he is leaving and won't be findable. She then passes the news on to Skinner in a slightly frantic and worried manner. She asks if he can be reached through "unofficial channels" and Skinner tries to explain he can't, before asking her to leave, in so many words. After Scully can't get help from the FBI, she summons X who acts like he made a mistake and went to the wrong apartment when Scully answers the door. He then avoids her and gets in the elevator.
When the door opens up, Skinner attacks him back into the elevator and X pulls a gun after some conflict, but somehow Skinner winds up back with Scully in Mulder's apartment with Mulder's location. Mulder is in Alaska climbing the top of the frozen submarine. He makes his way inside to find some dead bodies and begins following some racket and noise until he finds a fearful lieutenant who explains that when the sub lost power a man came and killed everyone on board. When Mulder presses him he shape shifts into the bounty hunter and starts violently throwing Mulder around the room. The bounty hunter asks if his sister is worth dying for, then explains she is alive. "Can you die now?" says the bounty hunter, leaving Mulder to die in the freezing cold and starting up the submarine, which also almost kills Mulder upon diving.
Mulder winds up in a tub suffering from extreme hypothermia. Scully enters, explaining that the medics are actually killing him by warming him up, and after the doctor asks her to be removed, she takes her jacket off and begins taking charge of the operation. After a series of transfusions, Mulder begins to get better. In the rest of Scully's report she explains that no one ever found the submarine or the bounty hunter. She goes on to say that it was science that identified and treated the retrovirus in Mulder's body, and it was science that saved his life. "I found something I thought I had lost...faith to keep looking."
This was the first episode written by Frank Spotnitz, and he would soon develop into a pivotal player for Ten-Thirteen Productions, not only as a key Executive Producer, but becoming the Vice President of Ten-Thirteen Productions during the later seasons of The X-Files. The advent of the Alien Bounty Hunter would prove to be another significant game changer for the arc of the series. While the sentiment "Seeing Isn't Believing" was never used as a tag line for the show, after the red herrings, and perception altering plot twists had become derigueur, the advent of shape-shifting aliens only helped to heighten the paranoia that permeated Chris Carter's world. Coupled with the revelation of Samantha Mulder merely being a clone, such a sentiment would seem apt. Due to the explicit science fiction nature of the two-parter, there was a lot of studio disapproval, but the writers felt that the show had to up the ante. Regarding the information about the "retro-virus" that Scully cites in the episode, that research was provided by Frank Spotnitz's brother who's a neurologist*.
One-hundred and forty tons of ice sat in a sound stage for five days to create the external submarine shots. As observed by Frank Spotnitz in audio commentary, the submarine conning tower image at the end of the episode was inspired by a National Geographic photo that Chris Carter loved.* Frank has credited Rob Bowman for developing the visual look of the show.* In kind, Rob Bowman has commented "Frank wrote with a velvet hammer; there's a lot of intrigue in the way he writes and gets under your skin."** Frank has summarized the episode as "Insane Ambition driven by incredible naivety." Chris Carter supported all of Frank's ideas for the script, with the exception of a car chase that was scripted but never filmed.* It should be noted, The Submarine, a decommissioned ship, was tight fitting for the crew while filming. The ship would be reused for "D&oring;d Kalm".* The handcuff scene in the submarine was inspired by specific sources. Frank Spotnitz is a huge fan of Hong Kong movies, and the scene was inspired by a Jackie Chan film.*
In the sequence where the Alien Bounty Hunter throws Scully onto a glass table in the motel room, the 'huh' that is uttered by Scully was insisted upon by standards and practices; there's a rule stating it has to be clear that a person survives after being thrown through glass*. Frank has noted that the bridge sequence in act 1 was difficult for Rob Bowman to shoot, and then later to edit.* For the sequence when the dead Samantha clone disintegrates on the ambulance gurney, the make up effect was achieved with a wax mold of Megan's face, then a blow drier was used off camera, with the footage sped up in post.* Regarding the abortion clinic scene when Mulder is introduced to the multiple Samantha clones, Frank Spotnitz has admitted he wasn't satisfied with the effect in "Colony" and adjustments were made to intercut between Samantha and Mulder and use the effect as little as possible.* A stock shot of a fire rescue was used when Mulder was being saved from the clinic fire. But the footage was filmed at night; therefore, it had to be adjusted and corrected, and producer Paul Rabwin had to digitally add in a daylight sky in post.* The stock shot of Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. where Mulder and Mr. X are spotted was secured through interesting means. The production had a 'B' Roll team that would shoot exteriors in the capital for the series, The producers realized they needed an establishing shot, and ingeniously used two doubles to stand in at Kennedy Center. Yet it was filmed without the studio's permission. Chris Carter dispatched the crew, and the studio found out about it two days later, and screamed about the expense after it was too late.*
The elevator fight between X and Skinner is one of the most remembered incidents for fans during the early seasons. Mitch Pileggi has recalled taking a few accidental shots to the groin while slamming Steven Williams, yet it was Williams who suggested the dueling head-butts, arguing that there was a psychological, as well as physical aspect to the encounter. At the insistence of the director, Mitch Pileggi and Steven Williams carried out the fight so literally at the end that Mitch broke the elevator set and Steven broke his knuckles – (Frank Zero). In spite of the problems, Steven Williams has observed, "It was so much fun to do. And for ages folks asked me who won that fight."** The scene grew out of the need for Scully to find out where Mulder was, being that Mr. X knew. Frank had struggled for hours with the story problem, staying up until mid-night at the office,* until Chris Carter simply suggested that Skinner beat the information out of him.
Frank has observed that actor Peter Donat was cast from a tape, as he was living in Canada, and not Vancouver. Frank never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Donat during the shoot.* David Duchcovny had instructed director Rob Bowman that he didn't want to cry in the sequence when Mulder confronts his father about losing Samantha, that Mulder should struggle not to cry. Frank has acknowledged that David's instincts were correct.* The location of the Motorlodge sequence, where Scully meets the Alien Bounty Hunter, was the Lions Gate Travel Lodge, on Maine Dr., North Vancouver. This location was used on at least ten occasions, and each time the motel's name above the lobby was changed. Eventually construction co-coordinator Rob Maier could prepare the location within two hours.
The producers asked Brian Thompson's agent that the actor get a crew cut for the role, but this was never communicated to the actor before shooting. Thompson was upset, and a compromise was reached. Like William B. Davis, Brian Thompson has offered some interesting observations about his character, and his exchange with Mulder at the episode's end. "The scene where I told him that I knew that his sister was alive was not in the original script. I'm pretty sure that was David Duchovny's idea. For him to have had me say that one line was, I'm sure, the reason that I was brought back. The fact that I told him ‘Yes, your sister is alive,' but I wouldn't tell him anymore." Mr. Thompson has further added. "He didn't leave him to die. He knew that he would be safe. He has the ability to know that. He does know a search-and-rescue team is on the way--he's not a machine. He felt the need from this person–who only wanted to know whether or not his sister was alive–to at least know that. Now that is not a cruel person. I think a crueler person would have said nothing. But that was probably a break in the rules for him to say that. His boss didn't tell him that he could tell Mulder. That was something he chose to do on the spot, which does make him more human than machine."***
Brian Thompson had further added in drawing comparisons to the Cigarette-Smoking Man and the Pilot: "It is so easy to say that because he follows the rules that he is a bad person. We all want to be the person who doesn't have to follow the rules. What has CSM done that is viciously cruel? I believe our presidents have had people killed. Definitely the people who run the CIA have. The bloodiest wars are the Holy Wars. So, define benevolence, define a kind creature."*** Megan Leitch while describing her appearance in "End Game" offered a number of comments regarding her demise at the bridge: "We were shooting that very late – it was about four in the morning – and I think [the stuntwoman] did it in one take. It was quite a plunge, and it was very cold. We were all in wet suits when we were dealing with the water...But [the stuntwoman] hit her head. She thought she was fine when she got out of the water. She went home, and when she woke up the next morning, she was calling her boyfriend by the wrong name! She is a very good stuntwoman, but no matter what they do or how much they practice, it's dangerous." That stuntwoman recovered from the concussion and worked with Megan on another series. Megan further commented on the lab sequence with the multiple Samantha clones: "They had me walk through the scene, and they just set up the camera angles, and I played the scene with stand-ins. They had a girl who had her hair like mine, and who, from the back of the head, looked like me. They would shoot the angle from the woman in the lab coat with the person's back to me, and then they would switch the camera around..." Megan further expanded on how the effects were achieved: "Where it got down to a real shot where there's supposed to be two of us side-by-side, they have something called a split camera. It shoots one-half on one side and one-half on the other, and they put it together somehow with the technology they have. There is a line on the screen and they were very specific about the marks for that–about what I could do and what I couldn't do--when I was filming that scene." ***
Actor Colin Cunningham is a favorite of director Rob Bowman, he played Lieutenant Terry Wilmer, Mr. Cunningham has appeared in a number of The X-Files episodes, Wetwired, and 731. Mr. Cunningham was born and raised on Los Angeles, California, although he considers Vancouver his home. He traveled extensively in his late teens while trying to figure out what to do with his life. He first took to the stage, due to a dare from a friend, then building up an impressive body as an accomplished theatre actor, where he gained praise in the early 1990s in such productions as "Exit the King" and "Before Eva", before he relocated to Vancouver. His feature film work includes Best In Show, The 6th Day, Stealing Sinatra, and Elektra. His television work includes The Commish, The Outer Limits, Beggars and Choosers, Dark Angel, Cold Squad, The Twilight Zone, Smallville, Andromeda, CSI:Miami, The Chris Isaak Show, Da Vinci's Inquest, Stargate SG-1, The Collector, Psych, The 4400, and Falling Skies.
Allan Lysell who plays Adel Gardner, had appeared in a number of feature films: The Accused, Distant Thunder, The Fly II, and War. His television appearances include Airwolf, Wiseguy, 21 Jump Street, Bordertown, MacGyver, The Commish, Party of Five, Cold Squad, Stargate SG-1, Psych, and The Guard.
* Frank Spotnitz audio commentary for The X-Files: Abduction DVD set. © 2005
** The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths, and the Movies by Matt Hurwitz and Chris Knowles. Published by Insight Editions, © 2008
*** Beyond Mulder and Scully by Andy Mangels, published by Citadel press © 1998
Synopsis and Review: Frank Zero
Additional Review and Production Notes: Matt Allair
Page Editor: XScribe
2x01 Little Green Men
2x02 The Host
2x05 Duane Barry
2x08 One Breath
2x10 Red Museum
2x11 Excelsis Dei
2x14 Die Hand Die Verletzt
2x15 Fresh Bones
2x17 End Game
2x18 Fearful Symmetry
2x19 Død Kalm
2x21 The Calusari
2x22 F. Emasculata
2x23 Soft Light
2x24 Our Town