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Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man

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The X-Files episode The-X-Files-2-32
Series: The X-Files
Original Airdate: November 17, 1996
Production Number: 4x07
Date(s): December 24, 1991
November 1996
Written by: Glen Morgan
Directed by: James Wong
Episode chronology




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"Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" is the seventh episode of the fourth season of The X-Files.


Mulder and Scully are told a speculative history of the mysterious person they know as the Cigarette Smoking Man.


Campbell and John Richter We are not who we are!

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Background InformationEdit

  • In the original script, the Cigarette Smoking Man actually shot Frohike to death at the end of the episode. Although this version of the ending was actually filmed and several takes of it were shot, Chris Carter had Morgan and Wong change the episode's conclusion because, according to CSM actor William B. Davis, if Frohike survived, the CSM's enigma remained. The episode's production crew subsequently discovered that the footage of the original ending had mysteriously disappeared. Director James Wong later jokingly considered the highly unlikely possibility that the Lone Gunmen themselves had made the footage disappear. (The X-Files Season 4 DVD)
  • There was some concern among the production crew, before filming of this episode began, that the dramatic impact of the Cigarette Smoking Man would be diluted by the story focusing on him, since virtually no personal information about the character had previously been revealed.
  • According to Frank Spotnitz, a lot of the fans failed to pick up on the subtlety that the version of past events in this episode was only a possible history of the Cigarette Smoking Man and not necessarily his definitive one. Frank Spotnitz chose to believe that the Cigarette Smoking Man's actual history differed from these events.
  • David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, as Agents Mulder and Scully, appear in this episode only in voice-over and archive footage. Although some people thought this episode was written as a way to give the lead actors a week off, the episode was one of the first ideas that Glen Morgan and James Wong had when they returned to The X-Files television series, after their departure to work on their own series, Space: Above and Beyond. The production crew simply realized that they could produce the episode without the actors' participation and everyone was fine with this. The situation allowed Duchovny to spend a week in Los Angeles, a fact that he later cited as one of the prime reasons that the episode had been one of his favorites in the season and Gillian Anderson also named it amongst her favorites from the year.
  • Bill Davis was happy that this episode would focus almost entirely on his mysterious character but, like many, he was initially puzzled at the seeming contradictions in the script. He found it easier to accept that someone might claim responsibility for the death of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King than the idea that a person had kept the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl Hell. The actor's task of finding the fine line between tragedy and comedy also proved to be a challenge. Chris Carter had to speak with Bill Davis on several occasions and spent hours with him on the telephone, talking about the character, because the actor felt that the episode really made the character something that it wasn't. Carter tried to explain to Davis that, even if a person's mission in life is to be a destroyer, that person still has hope in the back of their mind that they can be a creator and that this vanity was suddenly the Cigarette Smoking Man's vanity. Carter believed that Glen Morgan and James Wong were also attempting to express this message, that it was clearly evident in the episode and that this aforementioned vanity of the Cigarette Smoking Man made him "sort of a silly person". Davis acknowledged Carter's assistance with the performance in this episode.
  • According to Davis, James Wong's direction was also a big help because Wong told the actor to play against the fact that many of the stage directions pointed toward farce and to instead let the situation play out. The director also helped Davis with his character's miserable speech in which the CSM compares life to a box of chocolates; Davis was initially "almost Shakespearean", when he prepared the scene and played it for the first time, but, according to Davis, Jim Wong made him "toss it off more, and it worked out fine. (I Want to Believe: The Official Guide to The X-Files, volume 3)
  • This episode is the only one in the series that provides a possible name for the "Deep Throat" character - Ronald.
  • There are several references to the film Forrest Gump in this episode, notably the "Life is like a box of chocolates" speech. Like Gump, CSM is present in and influences a great deal of recent historical events, but unlike Forrest, he ends up embittered by his experiences.
  • CSM's line about how he ensured that the Buffalo Bills would never win the Super Bowl as long as he is alive has become part of the Buffalo Sports Curse.
  • Chris Owens appears as the young CSM, as he had done in other episodes. In season 5 and 6 he played Special Agent Jeffrey Spender, who is later revealed to be CSM's son.
  • The scene where the young CSM is first recruited to assassinate JFK is reminiscent of the scene in which Martin Sheen is given his mission to assassinate Marlon Brando's Colonel Kurtz in the film Apocalypse Now (1979). The scene may also reference The Day of the Jackal, since CSM and the Jackal both count Rafael Trujillo and Patrice Lumumba among their successful past missions.
  • On one of the covers in the newsstand where the Cigarette-Smoking Man picks up a copy of 'Roman à clef' bears the cover line "Where the hell is Darin Morgan?". This is a reference to the departure of Darin Morgan from the writing staff of The X-Files.
  • Walden Roth, the editor who finally buys the Cigarette-Smoking Man's story, is named after Dana Walden, 20th Century Fox's head of drama, and Peter Roth, president of the Entertainment Group for Fox Broadcasting Company.
  • Lee Harvey Oswald calls young Cancerman "Mr. Hunt". In reality, E. Howard Hunt wrote a number of espionage thrillers under a pseudonym at the same time that he worked for the CIA and was supposedly in Dallas when JFK was assassinated. His name has been batted around by JFK conspiracy theorists for many years.


Roman à clef The title of the magazine to which the Cigarette Smoking Man submits his stories is Roman à Clef. The literal translation of this French phrase is "novel with a key." It is a novel in which real events are written up as fiction. The key referred to is not in the text, but in the reader's knowledge of the actual events being described under the guise of fiction. Two well-known romans à clef are Primary Colors, a book supposedly based on William Clinton's presidential campaign, and the film Citizen Kane, a fictionalized account of the life of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst.

Space: Above and Beyond
There are several references to Morgan and Wong's former series "Space: Above and Beyond" in this episode:
1. The Cigarette-Smoking Man's first novel is called 'Take a Chance'. This is the catch phrase from the series.
2. Certain cases are 'classified compartmentalized. This is a level of secrecy invented by Morgan and Wong for their show.
3. The main character in the Cigarette-Smoking Man's novels is named Jack Colquitt. This was also the name of a soldier in the "Space: Above and Beyond" episode 'Who Monitors the Birds?'.

Cancerman's aliases when meeting with Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray are based on supposedly real people. According to some conspiracy theorists, Oswald kept a correspondence with a "Mr. Hunt" before the assassination, and numerous people have named a co-conspirator in the slaying of Martin Luther King Jr. as "Raoul", which Ray calls Cancerman in this episode.

Morgan Weisser (Lee Harvey Oswald) played Lt. Nathan West in Morgan and Wong's Space: Above and Beyond. In season 4, the main cast of S:A&B appeared on The X-Files; Tucker Smallwood in "Home", Kristen Cloke in "The Field Where I Died" and Rod Rowland in "Never Again." Morgan and Wong said that "they were showing their actors off."

Frohike refers to a "CSM-25" filter to prevent people from listening in on their story. CSM is an abbreviation for "Cigarette Smoking Man".


CSM pulls out stationery for Endeavor International Press that lists an address as 389 La Cienega Blvd., Pasadena. La Cienega Blvd. runs through a large portion of Los Angeles, but it goes nowhere near Pasadena.

In the sequence involving the JFK assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald denies having killed Kennedy as the police drag him out of the theater. While he may have done this, it should be noted that Oswald was initially arrested for the murder of Officer J.D. Tippet; he was only accused of Kennedy's murder later on.

This episode contradicts the season 3 episode 'Apocrypha' where young CSM was seen in the 1950s with Bill Mulder as already a shadowy agent and smoking. This episode has CSM still a young man and not part of the Syndicate in 1963, and does not smoke yet.

In other episodes the name of The Lone Gunmen's newsletter is "The Lone Gunman", but in the shots of their office door it has a sign saying 'The Lone Gunmen. Publishers of "The Magic Bullet" newsletter'.



Also Starring

Guest Starring




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