|Beyond the Sea||Credits||Gallery||Transcript|
After Scully's father dies suddenly, her skepticism is put to the test by a prisoner on death row, who claims that – by using recently gained psychic powers – he can help her catch a kidnapper.
Shortly after Christmas, Dana Scully's parents, Margaret and William Scully, are visiting her, having come to her apartment for dinner. After making smalltalk with his wife and daughter, William Scully asks Dana, acting on secretive prompting from Margaret, how her work is going; she happily agrees it is going well. Her parents then leave, with Dana wishing them a safe journey home.
At 1:47 the next morning, Dana – having fallen asleep with her television on – awakens and is surprised to see her father sitting in a chair near her, silently mouthing words. She is momentarily distracted when her telephone begins to ring and, when she turns back to the chair, she sees there is no-one there, startling her even more. She races to the phone and answers the call to hear quiet grieving from her mother, who gradually explains Dana's father died of a massive coronary an hour ago. Still holding the phone to her ear, Dana looks back to the chair where she saw her father sitting; she is now completely shocked.
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
At night, two smitten teens – Elizabeth Hawley and James Summers – are making out in a car parked on the grounds of Jackson University in Raleigh, North Carolina. A darkened figure holding a flashlight knocks on the car door. The man behaves like a police officer, instructing Jim to exit the vehicle and show his identification. Jim steps out of the car but becomes suspicious as the man shines his light in Jim's face and is dressed far too casually to be a cop. Just as Jim demands to see some identification, the man strikes him in the face with the flashlight, causing Liz to scream in horror.
Two days after the teens' abduction, Agent Mulder is in his basement office at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., avidly reading a criminal profile he wrote about Luther Lee Boggs, when Scully enters, joking that the last time she saw Mulder so engrossed was when he was reading the Adult Video News. Despite being concerned about how her father's death is affecting her, Mulder lets Scully know about the recent abduction as well as evidence that there is likely only five days before the two kidnapped teens are killed. Mulder also tells Scully about Boggs, a killer on death row who has recently claimed to have psychically obtained information regarding the abduction. Scully realizes Mulder is unusually skeptical about Boggs' claims, believing they are an attempt to escape his imminent fate, and Mulder explains that Boggs alleges to have become psychic as a result of a temporary visit to the gas chamber, partly due to Mulder's profile. Additionally, he details Boggs' inherently violent past, subsequently notifying Scully that Boggs has requested to speak with him personally. Scully is eager to go with Mulder but her father's funeral is soon and she takes Mulder's advice to take some time off, Mulder cupping the side of her face in one hand as he apologizes for her loss before leaving the office. She looks up X-file X-167512, concerning "visionary encounters [with] the dead", but quickly returns it to its filing cabinet.
At the funeral, a man standing on a little boat casts her father's ashes into the sea while the song "Beyond the Sea" plays and a small group watches, the observers including Dana and her mother, the latter of whom is very tearful. Both women refer to the Navy background of Dana's father – her mother implying that only family are currently present – and, although Dana acknowledges that her parents were both disappointed that she chose a different career path than medicine, she is curious to know if her father was at all proud of her. Her saddened mother simply reminds Dana that "he was your father."
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
While witnessed by Mulder and Scully in a holding cell of Raleigh's Central Prison, Boggs – who bears the word "kill" on the knuckles of one hand and "kiss" on his other – starts to behave as if he is assuming the identities of other people. Mulder decides to test him and hands the prisoner a blue scrap of clothing. Holding this material, Boggs appears to experience a painful vision of James Summers and his torture by the kidnapper. Mulder takes the fabric back and reveals the surprising news that the scrap is from Mulder's own New York Knicks t-shirt, being entirely unrelated to the kidnapping. He leaves the room but, as Scully is about to follow him out, Boggs apparently assumes the identity of her father, first softly singing "Beyond the Sea" to himself, then physically appearing to her as her father (albeit wearing Boggs' prison clothes) and next asking her – in the voice of her father (once his appearance has returned to that of Boggs) – if she received his message. Clearly disturbed by this, Scully hurries out of the cell, where she meets up with Mulder. He is ignorant of the factor that has caused Scully to become emotionally distressed and is led by her to assume that she is merely being affected by her father's passing. Mulder recommends she drive to their motel while he intends to continue interrogating the prisoner, still suspecting that Boggs' claims of psychic ability are a scam but hopeful that he knows where the teens are. The sight of Boggs still quietly singing "Beyond the Sea" and being led through a nearby corridor spurs Scully on her way.
She is later driving, in the darkness of night, when she comes across several landmarks that match descriptions which Boggs gave during his seemingly psychic vision of the teens' location. These clues lead her to a condemned warehouse where, on the ground, she finds a small charm as well as telltale signs that the kidnapper has been in the building.
Alone in the agents' motel, Scully sees a flash of her father's face, recalling her earlier vision of him. Mulder arrives with news that Liz's family has confirmed the charm belonged to her and that police are searching the warehouse but have not yet uncovered any further evidence. He notifies Scully he has been interrogating Boggs for the past five hours and jokes that – after three of those hours – the prisoner complied with his request to summon up the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. The atmosphere of the agents' conversation becomes much more downbeat when Scully admits to having lied to the police about how she found the warehouse, now revealing the truth to Mulder. He is angered that Scully has apparently believed the prisoner and advises her to back away from her work if the death of her father is compromising her. Mulder is adamant Boggs knows where the teens are and advises Scully that their only advantage in the convicted killer's stratagem is time, showing her a newspaper article which demonstrates their time is running out.
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
Mulder shows Scully another newspaper, this one reporting the teens have been found. Even though Scully is amazed at this news, Mulder explains the article is bogus and an attempt to fool Boggs. Mulder also mentions that, later in the day, the prisoner will be granted his weekly phone privileges, which Mulder hopes the killer will use to contact his accomplice.
The faked newspaper is later passed to Boggs through a slot in his cell door. On a video monitor, Boggs can be seen returning to his bunk with the publication. Mulder and Scully are watching this monitor and Mulder notes that Boggs' phone privileges will be in two hours.
After these hours have elapsed, the agents are watching the monitor with a few prison wardens as Boggs is taken to a booth with a telephone. A phone in the observation room rings and, despite Mulder asking for the phone to be switched off, Scully realizes it is Mulder's own cell phone that is ringing. He answers his phone to discover the caller is Boggs himself, who – on the monitor – looks up at the camera and asks Mulder why he does not believe the killer's claims, even though Scully does. Claiming Scully believes (like everyone else) that Boggs has the teens, Mulder demands to know where they have been taken. Boggs simply goes limp, however, and Scully cautions Mulder that – due to their lack of time – they have no choice but to deal with Boggs.
Having been returned to his cell, Boggs describes the kidnapper to the FBI agents, starting by saying he is tempted by the prospect of becoming a killer. As the kidnapper assaults Liz, Boggs once again dramatically details the scene. He makes mention of a small boathouse on Lake Jordan and warns Mulder to avoid a particular white cross, cryptically adding that he (referring to himself as "we") sees Mulder down, with his blood spilling on the white cross. Now equipped with more information about the kidnapper, the agents walk out of Boggs' cell.
In the small boathouse which Boggs described, the kidnapper is about to attack Liz when he senses motion outside; Mulder and Scully have come with FBI backup. The agents, each wearing an FBI uniform jacket, raid the boathouse, soon finding Liz, gagged and bound. Mulder is shot by the kidnapper, hiding inside a small powerboat that then accelerates away from the docks, as Scully comes rushing to Mulder from Liz's position. She begins to tend to Mulder but notices the large wooden beams of the boathouse are white and crossed over one another, with wide metal straps that have rusted to the extent they seem like streaks of blood.
Scully watches as Mulder is wheeled into a hospital by the ambulance technicians who brought him there. As the medical staff rush to save him, their voices echo in Scully's ears and she closes her eyes.
In another room of the hospital, Agent Thomas later shows Liz Hawley a series of black-and-white Polaroid photographs while she lies in bed. Each of these photographs show a possible suspect and, when shown one in particular, Liz looks away from the sight, indicating the subject of the image is her former kidnapper. Agent Thomas hands the photograph to Scully, who stands nearby and immediately looks at the image.
In a corridor outside this ward, Agent Thomas tells Scully about the kidnapper, who has been identified as Lucas Henry. After Thomas mentions that Henry once witnessed an auto accident which resulted in the deaths of his mother and high school girlfriend and that the seven-year anniversary of the accident is in three days, Scully voices her belief that these facts explain the deadline regarding the still-missing James Summers. Agent Thomas also tells her Boggs is suspected of having committed his last five murders with a partner, who police firmly believe was Lucas Henry.
Scully rushes into Boggs' cell, convinced he has set up the kidnapping with Henry, and furiously insists that, if Mulder dies due to his injury (for which Scully blames Boggs), she will execute the prisoner herself. In an attempt to make her believe him, Boggs first appears to her as Mulder and then seemingly conjures up one of her childhood memories while behaving as if he is channeling her soul from when she was a young girl, but Scully responds to both with firm disbelief. After she – on the verge of tears and speaking in a quivering voice – vows to believe Boggs if he lets her talk with a particular male whom she does not name, Boggs apparently takes on her father's identity but not his appearance, this time. Vehemently, Boggs fights back his change of identity, refusing to let anyone talk to any of the souls he can seemingly summon until after he has received a deal to save him from the gas chamber, and characterizes his dread of the chamber. He then lengthily recalls the experience of being sent there, including his alleged encounter with many souls who witnessed him being led to the chamber and rushed into his body while he was strapped to the chair.
- A black-and-white depiction of Boggs' first visit to the gas chamber, including apparitions of souls, is shown at this point. It accompanies his description of the experience for Scully.
Boggs describes the source of these souls as a "cold, dark place" and claims Mulder is now looking in on that place. Scully replies the place may be cold and dark for Boggs but is not so for both Mulder and her father. Boggs and Scully both repeat their opposing viewpoints, with Scully denying that she believes him (which Boggs actively doubts) and the prisoner quietly but firmly insisting on a deal. As she makes her way out of the cell, Boggs tells her that, if he dies, the kidnapped boy will also go to the cold and dark place. Visibly shaken by their conversation, Scully exits the cell while watched by Boggs.
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
In his prison office, Warden Joseph Cash informs Scully no deal will be made with Boggs, mentioning he himself is certain in his belief that Boggs is orchestrating the kidnapping. The Warden also declares the prisoner will be sent to death when his time comes, which the Warden believes is overdue.
With no sign of Lucas Henry or Jim Summers, Scully later worries (to the hospitalized Mulder) that time is running out. The agents discuss whether Boggs can be believed but Scully ultimately takes note when Mulder strongly advises her not to deal with Boggs, suspecting the prisoner is seeking to gain the next best thing to revenge for Mulder having placed him on death row by claiming Scully as his last victim.
Boggs is later led to a holding cell of the prison, where Scully lies to him that she has been able to arrange his deal. The prisoner profusely thanks her and dramatically notifies her of Jim's location, revealing he is being held in an old Blue Devil Brewery and that Lucas Henry is preparing to kill him. Scully is about to admit to Boggs that she lied to him regarding his deal but he finishes her sentence for her, admitting he already knew she had; he also adds that he knows she tried to acquire such a deal for him. Before Scully exits the cell, Boggs cautions her to avoid the devil and to leave him to follow Henry to the devil, rather than doing so herself.
Seething with anger and wielding an ax, Lucas Henry is getting ready to use the ax on Jim Summers when he is interrupted from doing so by the arrival of an armed detachment of FBI agents, led by Scully. She tries to persuade Henry to drop his weapon and he initially seems compliant but he then raises the ax above him, preparing to throw it, so Scully shoots him. Her shot merely wounds Henry in his chest, however, and a chase ensues, culminating in her alone following him into a room where he is standing on a catwalk. Scully lowers her gun when she sees a giant blue painted devil behind Henry and a section of wooden boarding gives way under him, causing him to fall to his death.
- This scene ends with a close-up of the blue devil's face that fades away, replaced with the face of Luther Lee Boggs.
Scully once more pays a visit to Boggs' cell, where he asks if she has come to wish him goodbye. In response, she lengthily acknowledges the help he has been, crediting him for having saved the lives of both Jim Summers and herself. Boggs steps close to her face, the two individuals separated by the bars of the prisoner's cell, and admits to having realized that the reason Scully has returned is to hear her father's message. Although Boggs does not give her that message yet, he tells her she will be granted the message if she comes as a witness to his execution that night.
Later, Boggs' last meal is taken to him and he sees a family of souls clustered nearby. Secured in handcuffs and chains, he is forcibly led through a corridor where he sees souls lining the walls; he begins to turn away from this sight but is guided onward against his will. He is then finally strapped to the chair inside of the gas chamber. Warden Cash asks if he wishes to make a statement, while a priest reads the Lord's Prayer to him. Boggs denies the offer and, following a gesture from Warden Cash, a lethal chemical reaction is deliberately begun. Whilst breathing in resultant deadly fumes, Boggs wears an expression of total terror.
In Mulder's hospital ward, Scully starts to realize the entire case could have been arranged by Boggs. She is interrupted by Mulder, who is curious to know why – even after all the sights and evidence she has encountered – she still has such difficulty with believing. Although Scully admits the reason is that she is afraid to do so, Mulder asks her in disbelief if she couldn't overcome the fear, even if it meant learning what her father had been trying to tell her. She finally accepts she already knows this information, however, and tells Mulder that the reason she knows is that the man they are both talking about was her father.
SEMICOLON-SEPARATED LIST OF ITEMS/LOCATIONS REFERENCED IN EPISODE (BUT NOT LINKED TO IF ALREADY LINKED IN SUMMARY OR GUEST STARS SECTIONS)
- This episode originated from multiple sources, one of which was a book Co-Executive Producer Glen Morgan had recently read that contained statistics about the amount of women who have visionary encounters with deceased male family members soon after their deaths. (Starlog, issue #210, p. 63) According to fellow Co-Executive Producer and writing partner James Wong, the book "said that 75 percent of widows within three months have a vision of their husband, and 35 percent of mothers see their sons." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42)
- In the writing of this episode, Glen Morgan and James Wong were fueled by feeling unhappy with Scully's character development, as a lot of the scenes in previous outings seemed to instead highlight Mulder and the makers of The X-Files were receiving complaints that Scully was "uptight" and "bitchy." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44) Deciding the fans had a point, Morgan and Wong realized it was time to evolve the Scully character, as she had been doing the same type of thing too often. (Starlog, issue #210, p. 63; Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42) Said Morgan, "We needed an episode where Scully came off as something besides a wet blanket. She needed an episode where she believed." (Sci-Fi Universe, issue #10, p. 36) It was hoped, too, that focusing on the character might give the actress playing her something extra to do. Wong stated, "Gillian [Anderson] needed a show to show off her talents." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42) Morgan remarked, "The intent was to produce something for Gillian to really sink her teeth into." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44) The opportunity to write such a show came with this episode. Morgan commented, "The story provided us with a chance to deal with Scully and expand her role a bit and change the rules around." (X-Files Confidential, p. 59) Wong concluded, "This was a perfect opportunity to dispel those notions that Scully will never believe." (Starlog, issue #210, p. 63)
- The episode also facilitated Glen Morgan wanting to "do a psychic thing," which resulted in the invention of the Luther Lee Boggs character. Morgan envisioned the death row facet of the episode as a way of jeopardizing Boggs, later remarking, "Capital punishment was one thing I always wanted to write about." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42)
- Glen Morgan and James Wong took the premise of this outing to Executive Producer Chris Carter. "[They] pitched me an idea [....] about the death of Scully's father," Carter recollected. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Beyond the Sea", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- The executives at Fox were not excited by the idea of a struggle of wits between Scully and Luther Lee Boggs. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42) Fearing it would be too similar to the film The Silence of the Lambs, the executives were initially wary of producing this episode. In hindsight, Frank Spotnitz once stated he believed the studio's and the network's early hesitance to produce the installment was an "interesting" element of its evolution. ("Beyond the Sea" introduction, The X-Files: Revelations special features) The making of the installment was vetoed twice prior to Fox okaying its production, due to the concerns the episode would be too much like The Silence of the Lambs. (Sci-Fi Universe, issue #10, p. 36) Endeavoring to quash these worries, Carter ran up to the Fox executive building. (X-Files Confidential, p. 60) "I walked into the office of Dan McDermott–then director of current programming at Fox–and told him that Jim and Glen had their own take on it," Carter attested. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44) At the meeting, he specifically said, "These guys believe in this episode, I believe in this episode, we've got to do this episode." (X-Files Confidential, p. 60) Casting his memory back to the incident, Morgan continued, "There were 45-minute screaming fights about where the story should go." (Sci-Fi Universe, issue #10, p. 36) Eventually, Roth agreed for Morgan and Wong to write the script. Carter recalled, "I think just the fact that I walked up there convinced him to let them go." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44)
- Hoping to escape comparisons with The Silence of the Lambs, Glen Morgan tried to keep clear of writing the episode in such a way that it would be seen as derivative of the earlier film. (X-Files Confidential, p. 59) He conceded, "Some of the executives were justified in thinking that it was like the 'Hannibal Lecter show' [....] We respected that movie so much that we went out of our way to avoid any plot points that were similar." (Sci-Fi Universe, issue #10, p. 38) He and James Wong also tried to distinguish this episode from the film by making Luther Lee Boggs a "manic high-strung cracker," stated Morgan, rather than the "cool intellectual" they perceived Hannibal Lecter to be. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42)
- Much of the episode's family drama aspect came from Glen Morgan's personal experience, as he had been deeply affected by seeing how his mother had reacted to her father dying. "So there's a lot of that kind of thing in there, nearly word for word, from my mom," Morgan revealed. "'We lost your dad,' is exactly her phone call to me, how I was told my grandpa died." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44)
- This episode was named after the Bobby Darin song "Beyond the Sea", which was inserted into the episode. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13, p. 31) "That was Glen Morgan, I believe, looking for a song that would play against the mood of that funeral," stated Chris Carter. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Beyond the Sea", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- When devising the "kiss" and "kill" tattoos on Luther Lee Boggs' knuckles, Glen Morgan was thinking about – in the back of his mind – similar tattoos worn by Robert Mitchum's character Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter. Though those tattoos read "love" and "hate", Morgan took the words on Boggs' hands from a song called "We're Desperate" by the band X. "There's a lyric which says, 'It's kiss or kill,'" explained Morgan. "I was trying to think of something other than love or hate and I thought that was kind of neat." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42)
- This episode's script went through three drafts. These were dated 15th, 19 and 23 November 1993.
- The oceanside funeral where mourners watch from the shore as William Scully's ashes are scattered at sea was filmed at Garry Point Park, Steveston. The boathouse where Mulder is shot down was also in Steveston, at Heritage Shipyard, 12451 Westwater Drive. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 41)
- Co-Executive Producer R.W. Goodwin, who supervised production, considered his assignment on this episode to not be particularly noteworthy. He described it as, "One of those episodes where a guy in my position just has to get the sets built, stick the actors in, let the director do his job and let the actors do theirs." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 59 & 60)
- In a scene near the start of this episode, Scully apparently sees her father silently mouthing words. However, actor Don Davis actually recited the Lord's Prayer while the scene was being filmed. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 131)
- David Nutter believed his own role in this installment was minimal. He remembered, "My job there was to create a setting where [Brad Dourif] [...] could be what he really wanted to be. I would just tweak this and that, but basically I let him have the stage. In a sense, it was a static episode and it was important to let his performance be the moving element." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42)
- The funeral scene was shot in very windy weather conditions. The wind was so strong that R.W. Goodwin requested a special warming tent be positioned near the set, to shelter his wife Sheila Larken, who played Margaret Scully. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 41)
- The shooting company later moved to Britannia Heritage Shipyard, intending to resume filming in the blustery cold. Since propane heaters were not allowed in the shipyard due to the timber structures and heritage nature of the area, the crew huddled around an old wood-burning stove in a small room, telling stories and drinking a lot of hot chocolate. The on-site liaison kept the fire burning throughout the crew's time there. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 41)
- This installment established some considerably new facets of Scully's personality. Observed David Nutter, "I think it brought a lot of dimension to [Scully] [....] It also allowed us to explore the emotional side of things, which we don't talk that much about." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 59–60) Frank Spotnitz offered, "It was unique because it was Scully experiencing something paranormal for the first time – Scully, the skeptic, being shaken by her exposure to something disturbing and undeniable [....] And it deepened your understanding of Scully and, you know, the role of a medical doctor in the FBI and the disapproval her father had for that career choice." ("Beyond the Sea" introduction, The X-Files: Revelations special features) The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13, p. 31) explained that, in this episode, Scully "comes to terms with [...] for the first time, the possibility that not only do psychic phenomena exist, but that she may exhibit some paranormal powers of her own."
- This episode marks the first appearances of Dana Scully's parents, Margaret and William Scully. Hence, Chris Carter thought the death of Scully's father "is a big leap." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Beyond the Sea", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Margaret Scully ultimately appeared in fourteen subsequent episodes of The X-Files, appearing in virtually every season of the series, with the exceptions of Seasons 6 and 7. However, William Scully only appears in two other episodes of the series, Season 2's "One Breath" and Season 7's "all things", appearing – in the latter of these two episodes – only briefly, in archive footage from "One Breath".
- Two murderous characters in this episode, Lucas Henry and Luther Lee Boggs, have similar names to that of actual serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 131)
- In the scene of this episode that is set in Mulder's office, a hat can be seen on a coat-rack from where Mulder takes his jacket as he leaves the room. This hat is emblazoned with the letters "NICAP" and bears a striking resemblance to a hat Max Fenig wears in the earlier Season 1 episode "Fallen Angel". NICAP (National Investigations Committee of Aerial Phenomena, the name was slightly edited for the show) was a real UFO investigatory non-profit that was well-respected at the time, despite disbanding and dissolving as an organized group in 1980 after the release of the famous Condon Report.
- Glen Morgan observed that, despite the passionate debates about how this episode would end up, "everyone seemed to like it" once its script was submitted. Morgan himself enjoyed the episode's production. "To see those dailies and to have this stuff we wrote coming out ten times better than we imagined it was amazing," he enthused. (Sci-Fi Universe, issue #10, p. 38) Although he was usually uncomfortable with talking about his own work, Morgan further admitted, "I am proud of this episode [....] I just thought that Brad Dourif and Gillian's performances were great, and David Nutter did a great job directing." (X-Files Confidential, p. 59) Morgan and James Wong cited this, in fact, as their favorite episode from all the ones they wrote for the first season (also including second season première "Little Green Men"), thinking of it as an example of how to mix character development with an absorbing storyline. (Starlog, issue #210, pp. 62 & 63) This was Morgan's favorite installment from the ones he collaborated on with Wong during not only the first season but also the second. He concluded, "Everything just paid off really nicely. That was far and away the best." (Sci-Fi Universe, issue #10, p. 38) For his part, Wong called this installment "one of those brilliant episodes." ("Behind the Truth: Beyond the Sea", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- David Nutter was thrilled with this installment. "To me, I think it's the most accomplished piece of directing of actors I have been able to do," he remarked. "I thought Brad Dourif was brilliant [....] To me it's right up there with 'Ice'. Certainly one of the most enjoyable shows I did." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 59 & 60) As for Gillian Anderson's contribution to this outing, Nutter enthused, "I was also very happy with the work that Gillian and I did together. I thought she really proved herself to be quite a talented actress." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42)
- Los Angeles Casting Director Rick Millikan also approved of Gillian Anderson's performance herein. "She was so good in that episode," he opined. ("Behind the Truth: Beyond the Sea", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- Chris Carter extremely liked this episode ever since Glen Morgan and James Wong pitched it to him. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Beyond the Sea", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Carter's certainty this would be a great episode was what inspired him to run up to the Fox executive building and make an appeal for it to be made. Carter enthusiastically termed it, "My favorite episode of the first year and one of my favorites overall, flipping the Mulder and Scully points of view." (X-Files Confidential, p. 60) He specified this installment as being joint lead in his favorite episodes from Season 1 (along with "Ice"). ("The Truth About Season One", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Carter even once described this outing as being "among the best episodes we've done, ever." ("Beyond the Sea" introduction, The X-Files: Revelations special features) Carter also termed it "great and unforgettable." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 21) He clarified his love of this episode was "for a number of reasons" and went on to say, "The channelling of Scully's dead father through this death row prisoner, I felt, was a really interesting way to turn the tables on the characters." For Carter, other highlights were Brad Dourif's performance as Luther Lee Boggs and the use of the song "Beyond the Sea". Of the latter facet, Carter remarked, "It was, I thought, a really eerie song to have playing over a funeral." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Beyond the Sea", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) According to Carter, this episode had a notable impact on The X-Files in general, demonstrating the potential of the series to its producers and writers. ("Beyond the Sea" introduction, The X-Files: Revelations special features)
- R.W. Goodwin similarly held this installment in enormously high esteem. "The whole thing was spellbinding," he raved. (X-Files Confidential, p. 60)
- Frank Spotnitz was likewise highly impressed by this episode. Discussing the ground-breaking nature of the episode's content, he stated, "I think it was a breakthrough episode for Gillian Anderson. It really showed what she was capable of doing; it was the first of many, many incredible performances that showed the range Gillian has as an actress [....] And it had this wonderful, personal story about a father and a daughter." Spotnitz cited the scene wherein "Luther Lee Boggs is walking to meet his death and he's seeing all the victims whose lives he's claimed" as a notable example of many "amazing scenes" in the episode as well as "a great performance." Spotnitz also remarked about this outing, "You know, while the parallels [to The Silence of the Lambs] are there, it clearly stands on its own." ("Beyond the Sea" introduction, The X-Files: Revelations special features)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 6.6, with an audience share of 11. This means that roughly 6.6 percent of all television-equipped households, and 11 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 6.2 million households. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248)
- In The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 33), this was incorrectly cited as having been the only Season 1 episode not aired by the BBC during the season's initial run by that UK broadcaster. Features Editor Dave Hughes was responsible for this blunder and the magazine received a large number of letters about the error. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3, p. 30)
- This episode had a notable impact on viewers of The X-Files. David Nutter regarded the outing as having been successful at winning viewers over to the character of Scully. "I think this episode really made a difference in how the audience looks at Scully," he reckoned. (X-Files Confidential, p. 59) Chris Carter pointed out that the episode showed fans of The X-Files "what the show could be." ("Beyond the Sea" introduction, The X-Files: Revelations special features)
- Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 41) scores this episode 4 out of 4 stars. The magazine comments, "Gillian Anderson and Scully come into their own in this first-rate script by Glen Morgan and James Wong [....] Director David Nutter drew scorching performances from Dourif, and a deeply moving one from Anderson [...] and his orchestration of the prison confrontations is masterful. The shot where the door closes behind Anderson, leaving Dourif centered perfectly in a narrow windowframe is quite unforgettable. The teaser is a study in how to communicate family tensions and emotions not spelled out in dialogue. Don Davis and Sheila Larken as William and Margaret Scully make an indelible impression." Cinefantastique also describes the twist of having Mulder become the skeptic and Scully the believer as "fascinating."
- The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13, p. 31) describes this as "arguably the best [episode] of the first season." The magazine also remarks it is "all the more effective for the casting of genre veteran Brad Dourif" and that "Gillian Anderson shines under the spotlight."
- In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman rated this episode 5 out of 5 stars. He critiqued, "Beyond the Sea's greatest fault is that it is so much more ambitious and thoughtful and affecting than anything we have seen in the series previously. As a result, it hardly seems to be the same show. The culture shock is extraordinary. It's as if a well-meaning and occasionally scary programme about aliens has been given a shot in the arm – and a shot in the brain too. It's such an advance in quality that it jars [....] It feels like an act of bravado [...] [at a time when The X-Files seemed] ripe for cancellation [....] 'Beyond the Sea' is [...] an act of creative fervour, a cry that if the show is going to go down, then it'll go down with something exceptional. What Morgan and Wong have done here is taken the ambiguity of the series and put it centre stage [....] The choice that Scully is given at the end – between closure or further ambiguity – is the making of her as a rounded character [....] It's also a moment which is the making of the series itself – the acceptance that the beauty of the unexplained is that sometimes it just remains unexplained [....] This is brilliantly plotted – awash with all sorts of moral dilemmas about state execution and the nature of faith – and subtly disturbing [....] 'Beyond the Sea' is one of those times where The X-Files touches genius. As the series lurches onward in its quest for an identity, it is the fact that this story exists, that it can be capable of a drama so profound, that gives you reason to believe it will find one." Shearman additionally praised the performances delivered by Gillian Anderson and Brad Dourif in this installment.
Cast and CharactersEdit
- Glen Morgan believed an important casting choice for this episode was Brad Dourif. The role of Luther Lee Boggs nearly didn't go to Dourif, though, due to a dispute over finances required to hire him. "If you had someone crummy in there, that's where the show would have fallen apart," Morgan speculated. (X-Files Confidential, p. 59)
- Gillian Anderson was pleased at the depth of emotion this episode's script afforded her character. She has consequently included the episode among her personal favorites of The X-Files. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 131) Anderson reflected, "I remember getting the script and realizing that it was the first time that I really had some real material to work with. I remember sitting down with [Director] David Nutter and going through the different beats and the points and the emotional arc and wanting very much to get it right." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44) Although Nutter thought Anderson was relatively inexperienced before performing in this episode, he also thought doing so was an important step for her. He said, "I very much enjoyed working with Gillian on the show [...] and for her as a person it definitely had a lot of impact." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 59 & 60)
- Like Anderson, David Duchovny approved of this episode, too. Glen Morgan relayed, "I was on the set first season once when Duchovny was talking about the episode 'Beyond the Sea' and he said, 'That was a pretty good episode.'" (X-Files Confidential, p. 90)
- David Duchovny and William Scully actor Don Davis had both previously starred in the early 1990s television series Twin Peaks.
Special Guest Starring
- Lawrence King as Lucas Henry
- Fred Henderson as Agent Thomas
- Don MacKay as Warden Joseph Cash
- Lisa Vultaggio as Elizabeth Hawley