This episode reminds me of that song and the song reminds me of this episode and so I will have this playing in my head for the next week. So now you can as well. You’re welcome.
What a great episode. It is one of my favorites. It was 20 years ago as well, but my past self did not know that until later when another past self had seen all of the episodes. Thankfully preferences and emotions can propagate backward through time, as was covered in the recent science documentary film, Interstellar. It allowed me to know then what I know now that I knew then. See? Regardless of that, I find this episode compelling because there is absolutely nothing supernatural going on here. Amanda noted in our live Google Hangout about this episode that it is “not an X-File at all,” rather “just an episode of Law and Order: SVU” (she promises to blog about this tomorrow. I’ll link it from here [SECRET: everything is linked]). This guy is just completely bonkers.
Really, the episode is a catharsis/PTSD episode for Scully to process through the trauma of her own abduction, etc. Getting abducted by someone who is going to mutilate her corpse would be totally traumatic given that she was abducted before by aliens who mutilated her body. Very simple plot device. Very effective.
Originally, apparently, this episode was written to be about Donny Pfaster’s necrophilia, but the network declined because they were a bunch of prudes or something. So the script was re-written to just be about a guy who fetishizes death. Gross either way. Upon watching it again, I’m not sure really how it is not just still about that.
What did the original script actually contain? Scully’s report is clearly about necrophilia. Did Chris Carter accidentally just write a snuff porn script? I can imagine the conversation with the network executives:
Carter: I think you’ll really like this one, guys.
Fox Execs: I mean. This is just porn. With dead people. It’s gross. Teenagers watch this. No.
Carter: Come on guys. It’s not porn. Sure, it gets a little graphic in a couple of places but we’ll shoot it really tastefully.
Fox Execs: I don’t think…
Carter: No, you know, like that movie. What was it called? The one with Helen Mirren and Malcolm McDowell? Franco Rossellini produced it with Bob Guccione? Romans and stuff?
Fox Execs: CALIGULA?!
Carter: YEAH! Caligula! Just like Caligula, but without so many Romans and with more corpses.
Fox Execs: No.
Fox Execs: Leave now or you’re fired.
In any case, it is a masterpiece.
Scully’s best line: “I’m going to modem it out to you,” referring to a print found on a victim’s thumbnail.
She meant that she was going to take copy of the photograph of that print, scan it into a computer, and then use the thing pictured to transmit it one bit at a time at 300 baud to a computer in Minnesota, where it would resolve on a screen in really low resolution and then be printed onto paper using a dot-matrix printer.
The process would have taken thirty years. That transmission is still going through. It will arrive ten years from now, when we are watching X-Files 30 Years Later.