"Lazarus" is the fifteenth episode of the first season of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on February 4, 1994. It was written by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, and directed by David Nutter. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-week" story, separate from the series' Mythology arc.
After a fellow agent and friend of Scully's is shot by a criminal whom Scully shoots in turn, the agent is revived, but Mulder suspects that he is not who he appears to be.
FBI Special Agent Dana Scully assists a former colleague, Jack Willis, in apprehending a pair of bank robbers, Warren James Dupre and Lula Phillips. Due to an anonymous tip, the two agents wait for Dupre at a bank he's about to rob. Dupre shoots Willis with a shotgun, but is shot and killed by Scully immediately afterwards. Medics work on Willis, continuing with Scully's insistence. Willis eventually is brought back, but Dupre's corpse on the adjacent gurney reacts to the final jolts with the defibrillators.
Willis wakes up in the hospital a few days later, but with Dupre's consciousness. He cuts Dupre's fingers off to acquire his wedding ring then flees the hospital. Scully explains to FBI partner, Special Agent Fox Mulder, that Willis has been obsessed with the case for the past year and admits her relationship with him, that they dated while he was her instructor in the FBI Academy. It is found that left-handed shears were used to cut off Dupre's fingers, despite the fact that Willis is right-handed. Mulder and Scully visit Dr. Varnes, at the University of Maryland, who explains that, during near-death experiences, an energy release can occur that could radically change someone's personality.
Willis, who finds Dupre's tattoo appearing on his forearm, confronts Lula's brother Thomas Phillips and kills him, blaming him for selling them out to the FBI. When Mulder and Scully investigate the next day, Willis arrives. Willis passes a series of tests that Scully recommends he undertake. Knowing that Scully and Willis share the same birthday, when Mulder gives him a fake birthday card for Scully, months before her birthday, Mullis gladly signs it with his left hand. Scully is skeptical of Mulder's claims that Dupre is in Willis' body, instead thinking Willis is actually just stressed due to having been shot.
When a landlord calls the FBI regarding Lula Phillips, Scully and Willis head there. When Scully captures Lula, Willis holds her at gunpoint and forces her to handcuff herself. He then successfully convinces Lula that he is Dupre. Willis calls Mulder, telling him they are holding Scully hostage. After Lula and Dupre drink some soda, Scully reveals that Willis is a diabetic, so the pair rob a drug store for some insulin. Lula refuses to let Willis use the insulin and admits to being the one who sold them out to the FBI. She calls the organization, demanding a $1,000,000 ransom for Scully. Using advanced audio filtering techniques, from the background noises, the technician is able to isolate the sound of an airplane takeoff nearby. The FBI are able to focus their search and a cop going door-to-door spots the house.
Willis plays dead, and when Lula drops her wedding ring on him, he grabs her gun and kills her. He dies seconds later due to the lack of insulin. Later, Scully retrieves his things from the morgue, including a watch she gave him for his thirty-fifth birthday. The watch stopped at 6:47, the moment he died.
- Originally, this episode involved Dupre inhabiting Mulder's body. This concept provoked a negative response from Fox, as there was a train of thought at the time that neither Scully nor Mulder should directly experience such phenomena as a "soul switch," as Howard Gordon phrased it. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 135) "The network [...] balked at the idea of Mulder experiencing directly, first-hand, a supernatural event like that," said Gordon. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42) The studio also argued against the idea of using Mulder in such a way. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 135) This was a rare disagreement between the studio and the producers. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 15, p. 31) With more than a little reluctance, the producers agreed to make the shift. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 135) "We were angry and up in arms," Gordon noted. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 42 & 49; X-Files Confidential, p. 64)
- Introducing Scully's former boyfriend allowed the writers a chance to explore her history. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 135) In the episode's original script, Dupre reveals he was born in the Year of the Dragon which, in the Chinese calendar, is the same year Scully was born – 1964. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 135) This episode's script went through five drafts. These were dated 20th, 21st and 22nd December 1993 as well as 3rd and 4th January 1994. The shooting script, which was compiled from these various drafts, does not mention the Year of the Dragon, replacing it with the Year of the Rat.
- The bank robbery in this episode was shot in the Bank of Montreal, at 500-520 Granville Street, Vancouver. The basement where a hostage situation develops was filmed in an apartment building known as Orange Hall, located at 341 Gore Avenue, in Vancouver's Chinatown area. An alley near the apartment block also served as a filming location. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), pp. 43-44)
- This episode's shoot was just prior to Christmas 1993. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 43) The outing was filmed over seven days. (TV Zone Special #21, p. 30)
- David Nutter, when filming this episode, struggled with determining how to shoot the police procedural scenes. "It was ultimately about how do we do an episode of The X-Files when it's a little bit more 'standard cop show' oriented?" he mused. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44)
- David Nutter decided he wanted this episode filled with action. "The important thing there was to be as intense as possible and keep the pace going," he related. "I felt it was important [to] really make it as in your face as possible, so any loopholes would be missed." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 49) Nutter also explained, "Pacing was the key for that show [....] I thought a lot of movement had to happen. The camera was moving, the actors were moving, all of which was designed to move the script along." (X-Files Confidential, p. 64)
- Christopher Allport observed David Nutter's work on this episode as being meticulous. "If a shot wasn't right David Nutter would do it until it was," recalled Allport. "He had mapped out the whole way the camera was going to work, how the shot was going to be lit, everything. It was like making a movie in seven days." This was one reason, Allport felt, why he found it exciting to see the finished episode. (TV Zone Special #21, p. 30)
- The first day of this outing's production included a scene wherein Scully and the Dupre-possessed Willis finally catch Lula Phillips. "It was at this point," remembered Christopher Allport, "where I had to turn from Willis to Dupre, that I found both sides of the character and was home free." (TV Zone Special #21, p. 30)
- For the shooting of the bank robbery in this installment, cable was laid along the sidewalk leading to the Bank of Montreal. This took up to an hour, due to the busyness of the Christmastime pedestrian traffic. At the bank, The X-Files' set decoration department had to remove the building's Christmas decorations. While the filming was under way, the physical action and raised voices made some people suspect an actual robbery was taking place. Set dec had to return the Christmas decorations immediately after the filming wrapped. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 43)
- After writing a letter to inform the tenants of Orange Hall about the visit by The X-Files' production crew, a translator spent the day with the shooting company on location. The production staffers first intended to film in the alley they selected near Orange Hall but it became clear they would need an additional police officer for the alley work, so they submitted a request to Constable Bob Young, special events coordinator with the Vancouver Police. Seeing as the police station was twenty feet away at the end of the alley, Young replied he would be on-site in a few minutes. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 43)
- Filming in Orange Hall's basement – a tiny area which included pipes as well as lights insulated with asbestos – proved unpopular. Location Manager Louisa Gradnitzer later recollected, "The grips [crew members responsible for shaping light and making shadows] complained about the asbestos-insulated lights, the electrics [crew members responsible for placing lighting equipment] were angry because they couldn't clamp lights to the pipes, and everyone griped about the oppressive size of the space." (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), pp. 43 & 42)
- This episode features the first of several occasions in which Scully is abducted and, also for the first time, her birthday is revealed as being on February 23. The year of her birth, 1964, was not established until the Season 2 episode "One Breath", in which she is returned after having been abducted in the earlier second season episode "Ascension".
- This episode establishes, too, that Scully is attracted to and has been romantically involved with older, authoritative or controlling men. Similar to how Willis is referenced as having been one of her instructors at the FBI Academy, the Season 7 episode "all things" introduces her former partner Daniel Waterston and describes him as having been one of her medical school instructors. Scully's attraction to authoritative men is also mentioned by her in "Never Again" and by the Cigarette Smoking Man in "En Ami".
- The first two scenes of this episode (which take place firstly in a car then a bank) are very reminiscent of the opening robbery scenes in the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction. First, a gangster couple is shown having a personal, intimate conversation, then one of the partners begins hysterically screaming and waving a gun. During the takeover in both productions, one phrase is almost identical: an order to either get on the floor or avoid moving (depending on which production the line is said in), followed by a threat of execution for "every one of you," if the instruction is not obeyed.
- In the filmed version of this episode, Dupre says he was born in the Year of the Rat – 1960, the same year as David Duchovny.
- This episode takes its name from the Biblical character Lazarus.
- Howard Gordon ultimately came to believe that the final decision to exclude Mulder from the body-swapping was almost certainly for the best and saw the benefit of introducing Scully's former boyfriend, as the opportunity it provided to delve into her backstory was welcomed. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 135) In retrospect, he commented, "I think that was a wise decision [....] Now we think there was some wisdom exercised there." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 42 & 49) Gordon also thought all the character's perspectives were "actually very well-reasoned and very well-defended." (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 135) Though the relationship between Scully and Dupre has been termed "romantic tension," Gordon was surprised by this description and found fault with it, owing to the "adversarial" nature of their connection, especially in comparison to Scully's bond with Mulder. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44)
- David Nutter considered this episode a simple one. "It wasn't one of the more involved scripts," he recognized. "Just a pretty basic, straightforward story." (X-Files Confidential, p. 64) Despite this, Nutter likened the installment to "a real good cop show." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44)
- Chris Carter also approved of this outing, calling it "a very good and well-acted episode." He proceeded to state, "I like it because it actually seemed so real to me. It played less as a paranormal science fiction show than as whether or not something could really happen. The entire cast was wonderful. Overall that was a terrific episode." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 63-64)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 7.6, with an audience share of 12. This means that roughly 7.6 percent of all television-equipped households, and 12 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 7.2 million households. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248)
- Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 42) rates this episode 2 and a half out of 4 stars. The magazine characterizes the outing as "a solid episode, if not an outstanding one." Cinefantastique criticizes, "Mulder's interactions with his fellow FBI agents and his decisive actions in locating his partner are particularly welcome in giving the story a realistic feel, and his concern for Scully is a touching indication of how much he is growing to care for her. Gillian Anderson is especially good in projecting Scully's faith in her ex-lover in the face of all the evidence that his body is possessed by Dupre. And the Dupre/Lula pairing, based on superficial knowledge and deception, offer a telling contrast to Mulder and Scully's own relationship."
- In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman scored this episode 1 and a half out of 5 stars. He remarked, "Considering this is an episode about a man who has two separate souls battling inside him, it seems almost appropriate that this is so tonally schizophrenic. At times the story plays like a sly black comedy [....] Seeing that we're in a story in which Scully's ex-lover gets saddled with the psychotic behavior of the convict he's spent a year bringing to justice, that comic tone seems appropriate for the irony. This is, let's face it, one of the sillier premises offered by the series – so silly, in fact, that Mulder's bizarre theory of psychic transference, based on nothing more than a blip on an EEG machine, looks almost self-parodic. Christopher Allport, though, hasn't been let in on the joke. He plays the muddled agent in question with a gravitas that borders upon the histrionic – he's doing his level best to take this role seriously and mine every ounce of passion from it, damn it. The music follows suit, Mark Snow giving the action an urgency it hardly deserves [....] It's all curiously overwrought [....] With everyone’s emotions played at full volume, The X-Files has never yet been such a gulf in tone. It's all somewhere between a drama which is po-faced and earnest, and cheesy sci-fi hokum that barely passes the slightest analysis. It's a pity, because there are some good ideas in here [....] As it is, you've got something which feels all over the shop. And the story's just got too many twists up its sleeve."
Cast and CharactersEdit
- The casting of the actor who was to play both Jack Willis and Warren Dupre was of vital importance, owing to the dual nature of the role. "I got a call on a rainy afternoon to go down to 20th Century Fox Studios to read for the part," reflected actor Christopher Allport. "Chris Carter and I used to play paddle tennis together but I had no idea he was making the show, so I was really surprised to see him [....] I recognized right away that it was a terrific opportunity and that was that, so I took the part. Jumping back and forth between characters was the challenging thing." Allport found Director David Nutter assisted him with this task. "He really helped me keep track of who was who when I would ask, 'Is this Dupre? Is this Willis? Is this Willis and Dupre?'" (TV Zone Special #21, p. 30)
- Christopher Allport highly approved of this episode. He enthused, "It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to play a character who was really two characters at once [....] It was such a thrill to see it once it was finished." (TV Zone Special #21, p. 30)
- This was the first episode of The X-Files which did not require David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson for each day of filming, due to their lessened parts in the installment's script. This meant the two lead actors were given an extra day off, much to their approval. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 43) Since Duchovny was often busy filming scenes involving Mulder in the next episode (which he did during lunchbreak), he and Christopher Allport did not have much chance to work together. "We talked a lot and kept planning to play some squash together," Allport said, "but, unfortunately, that never happened." In common with Allport, though, this installment turned out to be very emotionally intense for Anderson. Allport recalled, "I remember when we finished the show and all of us were saying goodbye that Gillian was crying." (TV Zone Special #21, p. 30)
- Christopher Allport as Special Agent Jack Willis
- Cec Verrell as Lula Phillips
- Jackson Davies as Agent Bruskin
- Jason Schombing as Warren James Dupre
- Callum Keith Rennie as Thomas Phillips
- Jay Brazeau as Professor Varnes
- Lisa Bunting as Doctor #1
- Peter Kelamis as O'Dell
- Brenda Crichlow as Reporter
- Mark Saunders as Doctor #2
- Alexander Boynton as Clean Cut Man
- Russell Hamilton as Officer Daniels
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