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"Little Green Men" is the first episode of the second season of The X-Files.

SynopsisEdit

With the X-files closed, Mulder is contacted by a political ally and sent on a dangerous mission to a radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

SummaryEdit

Fox Mulder narrates the mission of the NASA Voyager satellite and the High-Resolution Microwave Survey, now discontinued. In Arecibo, Puerto Rico, recording equipment at one of the abandoned satellite stations reactivates and begins printing a strand of data.

Samantha Mulder Abduction Little Green Men

Mulder has been assigned to a dead-end wiretap job, while former partner Dana Scully has returned to teaching at Quantico. After being blatantly ignored in the halls of the FBI headquarters, Scully signals to Mulder that she wants to meet, and they do so in the parking lot of the Watergate hotel. Mulder tells Scully he watched Deep Throat's funeral using binoculars from 1000 feet away. Obviously depressed, he is now even wondering if the "little green men" he's seen are all in his mind. Later, asleep at home, Mulder flashes back to the night in 1973 when Samantha was abducted. The two are playing Stratego when the house shakes and a light appears from outside. Mulder grabs the family gun, but by then it is too late; Samantha floats through a window and a shadowy figure stands in the doorway.

Mulder is summoned to meet with Senator Richard Matheson, a patron of his work. After discussing Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 – which is at a loud volume to throw off possible listening devices – Matheson clues Mulder in to the recent activity at Arecibo and tells him to investigate; in the meantime, Matheson will try and hold off the Blue Beret UFO Retrieval team, who will be sent there within at least twenty-four hours regardless.

Mulder Puerto Rico Little Green Men

Mulder heads to Puerto Rico and arrives at the satellite receiving station. In the bathroom, he finds a frightened Hispanic man, Jorge Concepción, drawing for Mulder an alien he claims to have seen. Scully, meanwhile trying to determine Mulder's whereabouts, heads to his apartment and accesses a list of numbers on his computer. When some other agents arrive, looking for him, she leaves, taking with her a piece of paper on which the numbers are printed. Scully visits a scientist at the U.S. Naval Observatory, who tells her they represent signals from space. Reviewing a list of flights from Washington, Scully finds Mulder using an alias, "George Hale".

While in Arecibo, Mulder finds a signal, showing potentially an extraterrestrial intelligence. During a storm, Jorge gets scared and runs outside. Mulder finds him dead of fright. Scully, meanwhile, is tracked by a couple in the airport but manages to escape from them and head down to Puerto Rico. Mulder investigates Jorge's corpse and the room shakes. The door opens and the shadowy figure of an alien appears; Mulder tries to shoot it, but his gun fails to work and he is engulfed in a blinding light. Scully wakes him up the next morning.
Scully Mulder Blank Tape Little Green Men
Mulder is excited that the readouts and tapes of the signals will be the proof of aliens he has sought for so long, but the Blue Beret UFO Retrieval Team arrives, forcing them to flee with only a tape reel.

Upon his return to Washington, D.C., Mulder is chewed out by Assistant Director Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking Man. Mulder claims he still had enough evidence, even with the days he has missed, to prosecute their suspect and that his phone was being tapped. Skinner demands that the Cigarette Smoking Man leaves and decides to not discipline Mulder. Investigating the tape reel, he finds it blank, due to a power surge during the storm. Mulder returns to his work, monitoring surveillance footage.

ReferencesEdit

1948; 1973; 1977; 1992; alien abduction; Arecibo; Argentina; Arlington; Atlanta; autopsy; Johann Sebastian Bach; Blue Beret Crash Retrieval Team; Blue Beret UFO Retrieval Team; Boston; Brandenburg Concerto No. 2; Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Buenos Aires; California;Chilmark; "Come Out and Play"; cranium; "Deep Throat"; Earth; elf; extraterrestrial; FBI Academy; FBI Headquarters; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Florida; galactic background noise; Goldstone; Hale, George Ellery;High Resolution Microwave Survey; Hoover, J. Edgar; Massachusetts; Morley; Mulder, Samantha; Mulder, Teena; Mulder, William; NASA; Neptune; Nevada; Nixon, President; Ohio; Palomar Observatory; Paramount; president; Puerto Rico; Quantico; radio telescope; Rockefeller Foundation; San Diego; Senator; SETI; solar system; SouthCoast Flight 397; Spanish; Stratego; Tuesday; Virginia; Voyager Program; Washington, D.C.; Watergate Hotel & Office Complex; White House; Wow! signal; X-file; Archibald; Bensch; Bodner; Chow; Compton; Dickson; Gaynor; Gomez; Hugman; Hunter; Insley; Keeling; Kerr;

Background InformationEdit

ProductionEdit

  • Originally, the idea for this episode was to send Mulder to Moscow herein, with Chris Carter writing the script. However, these plans did not pan out. After some discussion, Carter notified Glen Morgan and James Wong they could write the second season première. "It was a very nice gesture on Chris' part," expressed Wong, "in boosting our confidence and telling us how much he appreciates us." (Starlog #210, p. 64)
  • As the X-files had been shut down in the Season 1 finale, "The Erlenmeyer Flask", Glen Morgan and James Wong felt this episode "had to be kind of a new pilot," stated Morgan, in the sense of altering the established ground rules of the series. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 163) Wong elaborated that, because Mulder had been beaten hard by the death of Deep Throat and the closing of the X-Files Unit in the earlier episode, the writers "wanted Mulder to question himself." Wong added, "Also, you had to answer the logistical questions, what's Scully doing now, what's Mulder doing now." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 58)
  • The writers changed the story so Mulder would no longer be sent to Russia. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 52) Instead, the episode took its cue from a feature film which Glen Morgan had been attempting to write. He recalled, "I had written a script a long time ago on my own called 'Little Green Men' that was about a guy who had gone down to a telescope in Chile. It was never made, but there were many elements that I liked." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 55) Continued Morgan, "We liked the idea so much that we decided to do it for Mulder." (X-Files Confidential, p. 90)
  • This episode facilitated a long-held wish of Glen Morgan's, as he was very interested in writing a story which had a SETI background; Morgan had wanted to write such a story for the show's first season, involving Deep Throat, though the idea had not developed beyond the discussion stage. (Starlog #210, p. 64 & 63) Regarding this episode, Morgan stated, "I was irked that the government had shut down the SETI project and I wanted to address that." (X-Files Confidential, p. 90) Morgan also hoped this outing would inspire school children to learn more about SETI, as the episode "was factual as to what exists." (Starlog #210, p. 64)
  • Glen Morgan believed the "most important" aspect of this episode's conceptual development was that it was written as a way of focusing on David Duchovny's character of Mulder, since the actor had been impressed by the Scully-centred episode "Beyond the Sea" and wondered when an equivalent installment might be written for his own character. "Well, I liked him, he deserved it, and I thought that's what 'Little Green Men' was trying to be," Morgan related. (X-Files Confidential, p. 90)
  • Although showing an alien directly on-screen was something Chris Carter had resisted doing at first, he thought this season première "seemed a good time to do it." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: Little Green Men", TXF Season 2 DVD special features) James Wong and Glen Morgan attempted to depict Mulder's close encounter with an alien here as questionable. Explained Morgan, "We were trying to work up the notion, 'Was that even there? Is this real?' [....] Earlier in the show Mulder has said to Scully, 'I'm starting to doubt that my sister was abducted.' So you're trying to say, 'Is this in his head? Do we create these kinds of fear ourselves?'" (X-Files Confidential, pp. 90-91) Morgan stipulated that, essentially, one of the themes he and Wong wanted to convey is "the idea that we all have to fight our own little green men and carry on." (Starlog #210, p. 64)
  • Senator Matheson's first name was Richard in this episode's script, but the name did not make it into the final episode. The character was nevertheless named after Richard Matheson, a science fiction and horror writer who worked on the Kolchak: The Night Stalker films, which originally inspired The X-Files. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: Little Green Men", TXF Season 2 DVD special features)
  • David Nutter found the challenge of directing this episode wasn't an easy one. "I thought 'Little Green Men' was a tough show to do," he conceded. This was because Nutter had grown nervous of tackling The X-Files, due to it having become extremely popular between its first and second seasons. "I wanted to avoid the pitfalls of these shows that become phenomenons – really hot – and then fade away really quickly. I, like everybody else, wanted this to be a long-running program." (X-Files Confidential, p. 91)
  • The episode's shoot included one day at the Plaza of Nations. "The gods were on our side that day," reckoned Location Manager Louisa Gradnitzer, "except when the steel drum performers set up for their daily performance on the Plaza outside the building, but they agreed to refrain from playing during takes." (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 55)

GoofsEdit

  • Although most of "Little Green Men" takes place in the Puerto Rican rainforest, the episode includes the typical Canadian vegetation of its filming locations; as Mulder runs after Jorge, birch trees can be seen in the background, and as Mulder and Scully drive away in the end, tall conifers border the dirt road all around. Despite being satisfied with making Vancouver woodland seem believable as Puerto Rican rainforest, J.P. Finn noted, "If you look closely you'll see pine trees in the back." (X-Files Confidential, p. 91)
  • During the 1973 flashback, Young Fox Mulder is wearing a Bernard King #30 Nets jersey. However, King wasn't drafted until 1977.

TriviaEdit

  • This episode set a template for further communication between the two main characters. Chris Carter specified, "It established what was going to be the Scully–Mulder relationship for at least the first eight episodes." (X-Files Confidential, p. 90)
  • The scene in which Samantha Mulder is abducted differs from Mulder's recollection of the incident from a 1989 hypnotic regression tape that Scully listens to in the Season 1 episode "Conduit" as well as Mulder's recollection in "Pilot". Mulder supposedly recalled being paralyzed in bed while his sister was abducted, but this episode shows them playing a board game called Stratego before the incident. This was due to Morgan and Wong writing this episode without having first seen "Conduit", written by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. However, according to Chris Carter, a possible explanation for this inconsistency may be due to the fact that Mulder's memories were derived from hypnotic regression and were therefore vague. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 163) Commented Morgan, "Chris Carter made that up later. Once we realized it [the discrepancy], I ran into Howard's office and said, 'Why didn't you say anything?' And he said, 'Didn't you read my script?' It was pretty embarrassing." (Sci-Fi Universe #10, p. 35) Video footage of Mulder undergoing hypnosis is included in the Season 7 episode "Closure", in which his memory of Samantha's abduction matches the version of events seen here.
  • In the pilot episode of The X-Files, Mulder states, "The only reason I've been allowed to continue with my work is because I've made connections in Congress." In this episode, Senator Matheson represents an example of those aforementioned contacts.
  • While Scully searches for Mulder, she reads an airline passenger manifest that contains the names of many early on-line X-Philes, including Cliff Chen and Pat Gonzalez, as well as The X-Files novel author Charles Grant.

ReceptionEdit

  • At first, this episode wasn't received well by the Fox network. Remembered Glen Morgan, "When they saw the first cut, without music or sound effects–and sound is very important to that episode–they asked us if there was another episode that could be reviewed instead of that one. That just sent us into a fit of depression for two days." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 58)
  • The scene in which Mulder apparently witnesses an extraterrestrial provoked varying reactions from Glen Morgan and James Wong. The idea had resonance for Wong, who said, "When [Mulder] saw the alien, for me that was what this whole series is about. What are your little green men? What do you concoct in your mind that you're afraid of, or that you need to face?" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 58) Morgan thought the same sequence ultimately wasn't ambiguous enough, though. He critiqued, "I don't think it came across as well as we wanted it to [....] At some point in editing I realized that it didn't play that way." (X-Files Confidential, p. 90)
  • David Nutter was happy with this episode. "I thought the introduction of the show was wonderful," he enthused, "and I loved the paranoia we were able to generate in that episode, especially during the first meeting between Mulder and Scully. I thought Mulder was very good in the scene with Senator Matheson. There was also a lot of action, what with the car chase and all. I also very much liked the bookending of the show, opening with Mulder on a mundane surveillance assignment and closing the same way." (X-Files Confidential, p. 91)
  • J.P. Finn also deemed this outing a success, including the efforts to make Vancouver woodland double as Puerto Rico, saying, "I guess we pulled [the illusion] off [....] Anyway, a great little show to get going with. A typical X-Files show, where more is suggested than you actually see." (X-Files Confidential, p. 91)
  • Chris Carter likewise had high regard for this installment. "The writers did a very nice job of keeping several different tensions going here," he remarked. "There are three different, kind of, storylines working in this episode, which keeps it good and taut, and it was, I think, a great season opener and a terrific way to launch into season two." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season Two: Little Green Men", TXF Season 2 DVD special features) Carter said further, "I thought the script by Glen and Jim and the direction of David Nutter were terrific, and that David and Gillian's performances were excellent. I'm very proud of that show as a season opener." (X-Files Confidential, p. 90)
  • Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 58) rates this episode 3 and a half out of 4 stars. The magazine remarks, "'Little Green Men' is a beautiful episode [....] Duchovny's acting, particularly in the fear-drenched scenes set at the SETI station in Puerto Rico, is terrific. The flashback to Samantha's abduction is a wrenching sequence [....] The scenes with Skinner are wonderful, and one wants to stand up and cheer when Skinner kicks the Cigarette Smoking Man out of his office."
  • The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1,  p. 32) rated this episode 7 out of 10 "X"s. This is one of only two episodes which the magazine reviewed in this way, the other being "Pilot". The magazine additionally called this installment "creepy and assured," containing "much interesting information about the various real-life SETI projects."
  • 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 5 out of 5 stars. He opined, "What makes 'Little Green Men' so brilliant is that it emphasises just what the absence of the X-Files has done, not only on [...] [an] intellectual level, but to Mulder and Scully [....] This is Duchovny's best performance yet [....] Here he approaches the role with a fresh confidence and a real verve. It's as if in the season break Duchovny has realised what the series is about, and how he can take centre stage in it. It's a new confidence shared across the board [....] This is a fantastic script, unsensational and subtle as it may be, which reinvigorates the series and its themes with great aplomb [....] This does play like a pilot, and a very good one [....] Mitch Pileggi has also undergone a transformation [....] He now feels like a core player. That's quite an achievement in only his second episode [....] It's not an episode that The X-Files fans were expecting, and its reputation isn't great. But I think this clever and claustrophobic little tale, which does so much not only to refresh the show but to analyse what it's actually about, is one of the very best."

Cast and CharactersEdit

CastEdit

Main Cast

Guest Starring

Co-stars

Featuring

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