|The X-Files episode|
|Original Airdate:||September 10, 1993|
|Date(s):||March 6-22 1992|
|Written by:||Chris Carter|
|Directed by:||Robert Mandel|
Dana Scully is assigned to work with Fox Mulder, an FBI agent with an interest in the paranormal. Together, they travel to Oregon where Mulder believes several teenagers have been abducted by aliens.
Dressed in a nightgown, a young woman scrambles through a darkened forest at night. She stumbles into a small clearing and sees an immense light growing over a nearby hill. As the surrounding leaves begin to whirl around the woman in a vortex, a figure approaches from the light. The figure stands over her as the light engulfs them both.
COLLUM NATIONAL FOREST,
The next morning, Detective Miles and Coroner John Truitt inspect the woman's corpse with a team of coroners. Truitt shows Detective Miles two small bumps on the woman's lower back. A trail of dried blood runs from the woman's nose to her mouth. Detective Miles recognizes the young woman as Karen Swenson, since she used to go to school with his son. As Miles walks away in a hurry, Truitt calls after him. The coroner asks whether the woman and the detective's son were in the high school class of 1989 together and implies that other members of her class have died in the same way as Karen Swenson.
Special Agent Dana Scully enters the FBI building and reports to a receptionist. She then walks through a set of offices until she comes to Division Chief Scott Blevins' office. Inside, Blevins questions her about her past work while a mysterious man smoking a cigarette silently watches. Scully is a medical doctor who has been working within the FBI for a little more than two years. Blevins notifies her that she is being assigned to work with Fox Mulder on the X-files, a group of cases that involve paranormal or inexplicable phenomena.
In the building's basement, Scully meets Mulder in his office. Mulder shows her several slides of Karen Swenson's dead body and reveals that a strange organic substance has been found near the two marks on the woman's back. He also shows her two slides of bodies found in Sturgis, South Dakota and Shamrock, Texas, where both the two spots and the substance in the surrounding tissue were found. Although Mulder seems to believe that the cases are somehow linked to aliens, Scully argues that science will uncover a more logical explanation. Mulder tells her that three of Karen Swenson's classmates have also died in mysterious circumstances and states that he and Scully will leave to investigate the deaths early the next morning.
On an airplane to Oregon, Mulder lies sprawled across a row of seats, with his eyes closed and headphones in his ears. Wearing glasses, Scully meanwhile looks at newspaper clippings about the dead teenagers. She focuses on the name "Dr. Nemman". Upon making its descent, the plane suddenly starts to shake violently but eventually normalizes. Mulder nonchalantly concludes the temporary vibrations must mean they are in the right place.
Afterwards, Mulder drives a rental car into Bellefleur, Oregon as Scully reads the relevant X-file. She is surprised to learn that the case has already been investigated, information that Mulder did not disclose. He explains that the FBI became involved after the first three deaths, but left one week later without explanation. According to Scully, no unidentified marks are noted in the autopsy reports of the first three victims, although those reports were signed by a different medical examiner than the latest victim. Mulder is impressed by Scully's observations, but adds that they won't know whether the original medical examiner is a suspect until they have exhumed one of the first three bodies. The agents will likely then have a better idea whether the examiner intentionally missed the strange marks, or if Karen Swenson was the first victim with the spots. Suddenly, the car's radio powers up and the agents hear a high-pitched noise. Mulder stops the car and uses an aerosol from the luggage compartment to spray a large, red "X" on the road directly behind the vehicle. When he returns to the car, Mulder states that the incident was probably only trivial.
OREGON MARCH 7, 1992
When the agents arrive at their destination, they meet with John Truitt and an assistant coroner. The group begins to discuss arrangements for the exhumation but are interrupted when another car arrives and the County Medical Examiner, who autopsied the first three bodies, steps out. The examiner, Doctor Jay Nemman, struggles to stop his daughter from interfering and protests against the FBI's use of the cemetery. He also reveals that he and his family have just come back to Bellefleur after a recent holiday, which explains why he didn't conduct the autopsy on Karen Swenson. When Mulder mentions the tissue sample taken from the victim's body, Nemman believes that the agents are insinuating that he missed something in the original autopsies. Eventually, the man leaves at his daughter's insistence.
Mulder and Scully return to the grave site and discuss Ray Soames, the third victim whose body they are exhuming. A crane lifts Soames' coffin out of the ground, but a harness attached to the vehicle suddenly breaks and the coffin rolls down a hill. Mulder runs toward the coffin, to see it has been broken open by the fall. Against Truitt's advice, Mulder opens the coffin to find a desiccated, mummified body lying inside. The corpse is definitely not human and Mulder demands that the coffin be resealed.
While examining the corpse, Scully determines that the body is mammalian - possibly an orangutan or chimpanzee. Excited that the body may have been alien in origin, Mulder asks Scully to conduct a complete analysis of the corpse. Scully, who thinks that the presence of the body was someone's practical joke, reluctantly agrees to comply with Mulder's request.
Later, Scully finds a small metallic implant in the body's nasal cavity. Mulder knocks at her door and asks if she wants to join him on a run. Scully tiredly declines. When Mulder wonders if she has identified the implant in Soames' nose yet, she replies negativatively and bids Mulder goodnight.
STATE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
Mulder and Scully walk with Doctor Glass, who confirms that Ray Soames was a patient at the hospital. Glass claims that, under his supervision, Soames was treated for clinical schizophrenia for a year. According to the doctor, Soames appeared to suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress and couldn't grasp reality. Similar cases that Glass has treated have included several of Soames' classmates, two of whom are currently undergoing treatment at the hospital. The patients, Billy Miles and Peggy O'Dell, have lived in the hospital for four years. When Scully asks if she and Mulder can speak to them, Glass replies that the agents might have difficulty questioning the patients, especially Billy Miles.
Inside the hospital, Billy lies in a bed unresponsive as Glass and the agents enter. The doctor explains that Miles is experiencing a "waking coma" as a result of a car accident on State Road in which Peggy O'Dell was also involved. Peggy sits in a wheelchair next to Billy Miles, reading to him. The doctor asks her if she will talk with the visitors but she replies that Billy wants her to read to him at the moment. When Mulder asks the doctor for permission to conduct a detailed medical examination of Peggy O'Dell, she throws her book down and starts wheeling around. A nurse approaches and tries to calm her, but she starts screaming as her nose begins to bleed. When she falls out of her wheelchair, Mulder takes the opportunity to lift up the back of her shirt, confirming his suspicion that she has the spots. He helps Glass to lift the girl back into her wheelchair shortly before Scully angrily rushes out of the room.
Outside, Mulder hurriedly follows her down a flight of steps. He realizes that Scully is upset because she thinks he knows more about the strange marks than she does. Eventually, Mulder admits to his belief that the teenagers were abducted by extraterrestrials, a theory that Scully thinks is crazy. She comments that there must be another explanation which can be proved scientifically. Mentioning that all four victims were found in or near the woods, Scully wonders what they were doing there.
At night, the agents walk through the forest where the latest victim died. They carry flashlights and are dressed in informal clothing. After they separate, Mulder looks at a compass he is carrying, which is spinning wildly. In the clearing where Karen Swenson died, Scully notices a patch of strange dirt on the ground. She picks up some of the dirt and puts it in her pocket. When a low rumbling begins, Scully removes a gun from her pocket and leaves the clearing. She approaches the source of the noise, where a light shines through the trees. A humanoid silhouette from out of the light comes toward her.
The silhouette is actually Detective Miles. He doesn't reveal his name, but states only that he is employed by the Raymon County Sheriff's Office and warns the agents that they are on private property. They are forced to leave.
Driving through a storm in the darkness of night, Scully shows Mulder the dirt that she gathered earlier. Mulder believes the dirt might be from a campfire, while Scully theorizes that the teenagers may have been part of a cult and that the man they just encountered is aware of that. Suddenly, there is a blinding flash of light and the car loses power. Mulder, who looked at his watch just before the incident, says they've lost nine minutes of time. Extremely excited, Mulder exits the car and discovers that they are almost exactly at the red cross he previously marked in the road. He excitedly explains to Scully that people who have sighted UFOs often report time loss. However, Scully argues that time can't just disappear, as it is constant throughout the universe. Their car then restarts by itself and the headlamps light up.
In her motel room, Scully writes her report, concluding that she cannot validate nor substantiate Mulder's claim that they experienced a loss of time. When the power goes out due to the storm, Scully begins to get ready to take a shower but notices three spots on her back.
Worried that the spots may be the same marks that the teenagers had, Scully visits Mulder in his motel room, where he determines that the spots are only mosquito bites. Scully is so relieved that she leans on Mulder's chest and he puts his arms around her.
Later, Mulder tells her that his sister's disappearance when he was twelve tore his family apart. He continues by recalling that he left America as soon as he could and attended Oxford University, before being recruited by the Bureau. He then discovered the X-files and became fascinated by them. He tells Scully that he has been trying to access classified government information, but someone at a higher level of power has been blocking him from doing so. The only reason Mulder has been able to continue his work is that he has made connections in Congress. He suspects Scully is part of an agenda to stop him, but she swears that she is not and tries to convince him to trust her. Mulder leans forward and tells Scully that a Dr. Heitz Werber has taken him through regression hypnosis to access his repressed memories of the night his sister disappeared. He reveals to Scully what he can recall from that night. Mulder believes that his sister was abducted by extraterrestrials and that the government is aware of the existence of the aliens. He also states that the only thing that matters to him is finding out whatever the government is protecting. Mulder then receives a strange phone call from an anonymous female caller, who says that Peggy O'Dell is dead.
RURAL HWY. 133
When the agents arrive at the scene of the car accident that killed Peggy O'Dell, a driver tells Mulder that the girl ran in front of his car, despite normally being in a wheelchair. Scully takes a look at the girl's body. Her face is bloodied and her watch has stopped at the same time that the agents experienced time loss. Mulder tells Scully that the autopsy lab has been trashed and the body that the agents exhumed has been stolen. They leave the scene in the car they arrived in.
Mulder and Scully return to their motel to find it has burnt down, along with all their files and photos. A terrified girl, Theresa Nemman, rushes up to the agents and asks for their protection.
In a diner, Theresa speaks with Mulder and Scully. She reveals that she often finds herself in the woods with no recollection of how she got there. She fears that she might die, like most of her classmates. Mulder realizes that Theresa is the medical examiner's daughter and that she was the anonymous caller who told him that Peggy O'Dell had died. She admits that her father is covering things up and that she has the same spots as the other teenagers. Suddenly, her nose starts bleeding, moments before her father enters with the same detective who warned the agents to leave the forest. Mulder and Scully learn that the detective is Billy Miles' father and are unable to stop the men from taking Theresa home.
Scully thinks the medical examiner and the detective are aware of the murderer's identity and are responsible for the destruction of the autopsy lab and the agents' motel rooms. However, she is unsure as to the reason the corpse was stolen if the men are indeed responsible.
Mulder and Scully go to the cemetery but discover that the bodies of the other two victims have also been exhumed. Mulder suddenly realizes the killer's true identity - Billy Miles, the boy in the hospital.
Scully can hardly believe what Mulder is suggesting, but he claims that recent strange events, such as Peggy O'Dell dying at exactly the same time that he and Scully lost nine minutes, fit the profile of alien abduction. Mulder theorizes that tests were being conducted on the victims that left the marks found on their backs but the experiments caused a genetic mutation, explaining the disfigured body in Ray Soames' coffin. In regard to the loss of nine minutes that he and Scully witnessed, Mulder believes that conventional time stopped and that an alien impulse, which also caused Billy Miles to take the victims into the forest, actually took control of time itself. Scully laughs almost hysterically with Mulder, finding his theory preposterous but believing it nevertheless.
In an attempt to confirm or disprove their suspicions, Mulder and Scully return to the hospital where Billy Miles is undergoing treatment. Although his nurse claims that his mental condition has rendered him incapable of walking, Scully shows Mulder dirt on the soles of the boy's feet. She takes a sample of the dirt shortly before she leaves the room with Mulder.
Outside, Scully claims to be certain that Billy Miles was in the same forest as the victims. She explains that the dirt she has just discovered matches the strange earth she found in Collum National Forest earlier. Unfortunately, the sample of strange earth was destroyed in the motel fire and, therefore, can not be used to make a comparison. The agents consequently decide to return to the woods, in order to retrieve another sample.
When Mulder and Scully arrive at the edge of the forest, they notice Detective Miles' car. A distant scream draws them into the woods. Scully follows Mulder as they run toward the source of the noise, but is suddenly ambushed by Detective Miles and falls to the ground. The detective stands over Scully and reminds her of his previous warning to stay away. He then runs toward Mulder and holds him at gunpoint. Mulder accuses Miles of always knowing what was happening and warns that his son is about to kill another girl. Persuaded by Mulder, Detective Miles rushes towards his son, who holds Theresa Nemman in his arms. The detective urges his son to put her down and raises his gun when Billy Miles does not comply. Mulder knocks the detective over, just as he is about to fire his gun, alerting Scully to their location.
Mulder and the detective witness Billy Miles lift Theresa Nemman in his arms, as leaves whirl around him and a bright light shines down from above. The light eventually engulfs them all, as Scully watches from a distance. After the light dissipates, Billy has no memory of his actions and is confused as to what has happened. The spots on his back are gone and he is no longer crippled by the deleterious effects of a "waking coma." Unlike the other victims, Theresa Nemman is unharmed. Mulder rushes away to find Scully and, when they meet, he seems extremely moved by the event he has just witnessed.
MARCH 22, 1992
Billy Miles undergoes hypnosis performed by Heitz Werber. Mulder is in the room with him, while Scully watches from an anteroom through a one-way mirror. Division Chief Blevins, the Cigarette-Smoking Man and the third man from earlier are also in the anteroom. According to Billy Miles, he and his friends were having a party in the woods to celebrate their graduation when he first saw the bright light. It transported him to a location that he calls "the testing place," where a group told him to gather the others so they could do tests. The group put an implant in his nasal cavity, and he would wait for the light to give their orders to him. They assured him that it would be okay and that no-one would know. However, the tests didn't work and they wanted everything destroyed. Although they said they were leaving, Billy is now afraid that they're coming back. Heitz Werber tells him not to be afraid, assuring him that the FBI are only trying to help, as the Cigarette-Smoking Man whispers something to Blevins in the anteroom. When the FBI officials subsequently start to leave, Scully follows close behind. Mulder looks at the mirror directly at her and she stops briefly. Knowing that he cannot see her, Scully looks at Mulder through the mirror and then exits the anteroom.
In Blevins' office, Scully and the Division Chief discuss the case. The third man is also present. He and Blevins both seem to believe that the suggestion of alien abduction found in Scully's field reports and Billy Miles' supposed recollections under hypnosis is completely unscientifically founded. Scully replies that, while writing her field reports, she only noted things she actually saw. She admits that she cannot substantiate all of Mulder's claims, including the sudden loss of nine minutes. Blevins tells her that he sees no evidence to support the validity of the X-files, and, therefore, no reason to continue them. Scully answers that real crimes had been committed and were solved, but Blevins rhetorically asks how to prosecute the criminals when the case has no basis in reality. When told that she has no evidence, Scully hands over the implant found in Ray Soames' coffin, which she has kept in her pocket and was not destroyed in the motel fire. According to Scully, a lab test that she conducted failed to identify the material. When Blevins asks what Mulder thinks about the case, Scully responds by implying that her new FBI partner believes aliens are responsible.
After she is dismissed from Blevins' office, Scully passes the Cigarette Smoking Man in the corridor outside. She pauses to watch him enter Blevins' office, before continuing on her way.
Later, Scully lies awake in bed. She answers a phone call from Mulder, who tells her that a case file on Billy Miles has disappeared from the District Attorney's office in Raymon County, Oregon. Mulder wants to talk with her and Scully agrees that they will discuss their situation on the following day.
In a storage room in the Pentagon, the Cigarette Smoking Man files away the implant in a box containing many others, surrounded by rows upon rows of shelves, all containing similar boxes. He exits the room and locks the door by running his keycard through its sensor, before walking away.
"Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI's most unwanted."
- - Mulder to Scully, after she knocks on his basement door, moments before they first meet
"So who did you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Scully?"
- - Mulder
"That's why they put the 'I' in 'FBI'."
- - Mulder to Scully during their first encounter with each other
- - Mulder to Scully, jokingly identifying himself after having knocked on her motel door
"Time can't just disappear! It's a universal invariant!"
"Not in this zipcode!"
- - Scully and Mulder
- This is the first episode of The X-Files. The initial episode of a series is usually called a "pilot," which explains this episode's name.
- The usual opening credits, accompanied by theme music by Mark Snow, are missing from this episode as series creator Chris Carter was not yet satisfied with how they looked and their development therefore continued. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 35)
- The episode starts with the notice, "The following story is inspired by actual documented accounts." As revealed in an early revision of the script, the inspirational accounts were originally to have been described as "true eyewitness accounts." Although The X-Files are not directly based on true stories, elements of some episodes have been taken from true-life accounts. Chris Carter declared about the notice, "When we say 'actual documented accounts' in the Pilot, it's true." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Fallen Angel", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
From Script to ScreenEdit
- Throughout this episode's genesis, Robert Greenblatt – head of Fox's drama development – was adamant it be well thought out. "I was always concerned," he related, "that first of all, the story be very clear, and secondly, that people buy it, because we were asking them to make this big leap of faith and suspend their disbelief." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18)
- In the writing of this episode, the elements Chris Carter took from actual documented accounts included implants, alien abductions and marks apparently left from experiments done by mysterious extraterrestrial forces. He noted about the episode, "It's an amalgam of bits and pieces of stories and information that I gathered by reading about alien abduction." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Fallen Angel", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- In at least one early script draft, a Special Agent named Lake Drazen is present at the meeting near the start of the episode, having chosen Scully for an assignment to evaluate the validity of Mulder's work. Drazen explains, "I knew you would be rigorous. And fair." After leading Scully downstairs to the basement and introducing her to Mulder, Drazen watches the slide-show presentation Mulder makes regarding the deaths in Bellefleur. Drazen later appears in the scene where Scully is debriefed, in which the senior FBI agents decide to let Scully continue monitoring Mulder until they come up with something concrete with which to shut down the X-files. One of the high-ranking agents says, regarding Scully's report, "If Congress got a hold of this we'd expend all our energy chasing ghosts and spacemen." Subsequently, Drazen tosses the copies of Scully's report into an incinerator. His final scene seems to suggest that his character later became the Cigarette Smoking Man.
- In the first draft of the script, Mulder insists that Scully drives. In the scene where their car loses power as the agents drive from the forest, the "time loss" is originally only three minutes. When the car starts up again, Mulder "leaps up like a guy in a Toyota commercial." Also in the first draft of the script, Dr. Neuman (the county coroner, later to become Dr. Nemman) had performed an abortion on Peggy O'Dell (the girl in the wheelchair) the same summer that the teenagers had graduated from high school. Peggy said the father was Billy Miles (the boy in the hospital). According to Dr. Neuman's daughter (just prior to the famous nosebleed), "Billy disappeared right before graduation and he didn't come back until almost the end of the summer. Peggy said he got her pregnant, but no one believed her because he wasn't even there… No one was supposed to know. She had an abortion but there was no baby. There was something else. He said it's because Peggy had the marks."
| Deleted scene introducing Scully|
- The original script gives more insight into Scully's visit to Blevins' office. The scene that introduces Scully in the script is set just before her visit and takes place at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where she teaches a small group of trainees about the physiology of homicide, specifically electrocution and death by cattle prod. The same speech was later reused, virtually verbatim, in a scene of the second season episode "Sleepless", although Scully's class is interrupted by another FBI agent before her mention of cattle prods; the agent informs her aloud that a "George Hale" (a pseudonym that Mulder uses in both "Sleepless" and the second season premiere, "Little Green Men") is calling the Academy and urgently wishes to speak with Scully. In the pilot episode, Scully's attention is similarly distracted by an agent who enters the room and hands her a note that reads, "Your attendance is required in Washington at 1600 hrs. sharp." Scully checks her digital watch, which reads 1:03. This scene was actually filmed but ultimately omitted from the episode. The next scene is that in which Scully reports to the receptionist at FBI headquarters; the script includes Scully showing her badge to the receptionist and dialogue for the role of the receptionist as she tells Scully, "See Section Chief Blevins. Third floor, violent crime division." In the final version of the episode, Scully's badge does not appear in any of the scenes and the receptionist does not speak.
- The receptionist's words include the first of several references in the script to Blevins holding the rank of Section Chief. His rank was changed to Division Chief by the time the episode was produced, as evidenced only by a nameplate on the door to his office (most clearly seen in a brief shot of the door closing near the end of the episode).
- Additionally, both Blevins and the Third Man are said to be leafing through folders during the script's version of the meeting but, in the final version, this is only true of Blevins. Similarly, Mulder is said to be sitting at his computer when Scully enters his office in the script but he is instead examining slides in the final version of the scene.
- During the meeting, Blevins instructs Scully to make her reports "exclusively to this group" in the script, but he gives her no such instruction in the final version of the episode.
- The original script of this episode includes a scene in which Mulder and Scully literally howl at the moon. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 101)
- A scene cut from the final episode introduced the character of Scully's boyfriend, Ethan Minette. In a scene that follows the slide-projector scene, Minette and Scully meet. Scully tells her boyfriend that she will have to cancel holiday plans she made with him as she has been assigned to a case outside Washington D.C. with Fox Mulder. Minette recognizes the name and tells Scully that "Spooky Mulder" supposedly convinced an Iowa Congressman to sponsor a UFO project. According to Minette, "It was a big joke around town a year ago." Scully asks if he would be willing to go on a holiday the weekend after she returns and Minette accepts. In the first draft of the script, Minette is a lobbyist and meets Scully in an "upscale Washington D.C. bar." In the filmed version of the scene, Minette (played by Tim Ransom) is working in a television studio when they meet. In both versions, he is distracted by his work.
- Another scene featuring Ethan Minette occurs later in the script, once Scully travels to Oregon with Mulder and he knocks on her door as she is studying evidence concerning the deformed corpse in Ray Soames' grave. The agents' conversation ends with Mulder handing Scully a slip of paper and saying, "I believe this is for you." Once Mulder leaves, Scully sees that the slip of paper is a phone message from Ethan. The scene cuts to a few minutes later, as Scully is walking around her room, phone to her ear. As Scully's phone call wakes her boyfriend, their discussion is a short one; Ethan demonstrates interest in "Spooky"'s wellbeing and in the case Scully is investigating with Mulder but soon asks her to call him later, explaining, "I've got to get another hour in here." Scully agrees that she will call him later and then puts the receiver down, ending her call.
- In the original ending, Scully's boyfriend is lying next to her in bed in the scene where she receives a phone call from Mulder. After she puts down the phone, Minette asks, "Anybody important?" Scully replies, "Just work." Like Ethan's introduction, this scene was also filmed with actor Tim Ransom appearing but was omitted from the episode's final edit.
- The addition of Scully's boyfriend was an attempt by the Fox executives to create the love interest that they felt wasn't there between Mulder and Scully. Chris Carter ultimately found it was "very easy" to remove the character from the episode, partly because his appearances seemed to slow down the scenes in which Mulder and Scully are together. The excision of the Ethan Minette character was also made easier because Carter found Scully's relationship with her FBI partner to actually be more interesting and exciting than her relationship with her boyfriend. ("The Truth About Season 1", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- Chris Carter wrote the pilot episode while completely unaware that the subsequent series was later to prove a massive hit. "When I was sitting in my office in my surf trunks, barefoot, playing ball with the dog every twenty minutes, writing the pilot for The X-Files, I never imagined that they would be making X-Files underwear," he admitted, with a laugh, "and that ten thousand people a week would be logging on to the Internet to talk about the show." (X-Files Confidential, p. 8) Despite being unsure – while writing the episode – if the series would be successful, Carter did devise plans for the potential future of the show during this period, such as inventing the character of Deep Throat. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 31)
Cast and CharactersEdit
- Robert Mandel not only directed this episode but also helped cast its pair of lead roles. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 28)
- When David Duchovny was under consideration to play Mulder, the installment's script was sent to him by his manager at the suggestion of the show's casting director, Randy Stone. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 28)
- For Scully actress Gillian Anderson, reading the script turned out to be a memorable experience. "I remember the pajamas I wore and the color of the walls of the bedroom I was in when I read the pilot for the first time," she related, years later. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 28) Anderson further commented about the teleplay, "I was enthralled by it. It was very different from anything I'd ever read, and […] I had a very distinct feeling that the show would be a part of my life when I read it." Chris Carter jeopardized the chance to produce this episode just so he could cast Anderson, as executives at Fox didn't at first think she was the right type of actress to play Scully. (X-Files Confidential, p. 20) Indeed, appearing herein was somewhat of a challenge for Anderson. "I was still trying to formulate who she was for myself in the pilot episode." (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 29, p. 24)
- The location of the "Knoll Graveyard" was Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver.
- The road leading to the park was also used for the scene where Mulder and Scully find that Peggy O’Dell has died.
- Riverview Hospital in Port Coquitlam, Vancouver was used as Oregon Memorial Psychiatric Hospital.
- The locations for the FBI Boardroom and the Pentagon Warehouse was a site in Burnaby at a complex called The Knowledge Network.
- The FBI bullpen, Mulder’s office and the FBI hallway were interior locations that were found in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s office in Vancouver. Eventually, the bullpen and Mulder’s office would be built on a stage at North Shore Studios.
- Another FBI lobby as well as Scully’s laboratory location were filmed at B.C. Hydro Headquarters in Vancouver.
- The forest location was found in North Vancouver at Seymour Demonstration Forest.
- The Rural Motel location featured Cedar Lane Motel in White Rock.
- The exterior of Scully’s apartment was 610 Jervis Street in Vancouver.
- Chris Carter had to pitch the idea for The X-Files television series twice before 20th Century Fox allowed him to produce the pilot. After Carter submitted the episode's script to the company, he was finally granted – around Christmas 1992 – the go-ahead to film, which was followed by the hiring of Robert Mandel as director. Pre-production on the installment began in February 1993. The episode was filmed in fourteen days during March of the same year and had a budget of US$2 million. Carter later remembered the shoot as a fortnight of problem-solving, particularly "all the technical ones." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 18 & 28)
- Chris Carter appreciated the help he was given during this episode's production from "a very collaborative group," most notably Robert Mandel and Producer Daniel Sackheim. "The two of them were instrumental in giving the pilot the quality and standard for what has become the series," said Carter. (X-Files Confidential, p. 36)
- Chris Carter's confidence in the show's success had meanwhile grown. Daniel Sackheim remembered about Carter, "He had a game plan going into the pilot [....] He said it to me when we were doing the pilot: 'The reason most series fail is that nobody has a long view of where the show is going to go,' and he felt that he did." (X-Files Confidential, p. 14)
- Needing to film some hospital corridors for this episode, Chris Carter consulted Co-Executive Producer R.W. Goodwin, a long-time friend of Carter's. It was Goodwin who arranged for him to use some space in Vancouver's Riverview Hospital, which had been leased for the pilot of a television series called Birdland, an initial episode whose production Goodwin had recently participated in. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 21)
- Visual effects were used for shots of the leaf and wind vortex. Explained Mat Beck, "I got a call from Dan Sackheim and he said, 'Uh, we're doing this pilot and we need a bunch of leaves to swirl around in a vortex.' The entire vortex was CG leaves but they were combined with real leaves that we had blowing on the forest floor." ("The Truth About Season 1", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Chris Carter offered, "That was a very difficult scene to create–I think the invasion of Normandy was probably a little simpler. We needed to use real leaves whipping around in a whirlwind, and we needed to use digital leaves, and we needed a special lighting effect–a lighting rig that actually took something like eight hours to construct." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 29)
- The initial scene in which Scully meets with her FBI superiors, watched by the Cigarette Smoking Man while he leans against a file cabinet, was added to with a suggestion from CSM actor William B. Davis. "The leaning was my idea," he clarified. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 29)
- The making of this episode introduced Gillian Anderson to Vancouver's native cold and wet climate. "We were up on the hill in the cemetery when it was pouring down with rain. And trying to get that dialogue, over and over again, with the rain just streaming into our faces, freezing cold. I remember the impossibility of trying to spit those words out when I couldn't even feel my cheeks!" (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 29)
- Theresa Nemman's nosebleed was a challenging effect to create. "No mean feat, as it were," noted Chris Carter. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18) He admitted the effect was perhaps harder to create than a nosebleed might seem, clarifying, "This nosebleed actually had to happen on camera." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Pilot", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Toby Lindala was called upon to suggest a convincing way of executing the effect. He initially experimented with an eventually unused technique, in a small basement shop he had at home. "I did some testing with gelatin capsules," he explained, "which I filled up with blood." Stuffed up a person's nose – in this case, Lindala's – the capsule was meant to melt at a particular temperature, letting the blood trickle out, hopefully at precisely the right time. "I had it inside of about a 15-second window, but it was too unpredictable." Ultimately, he opted for a physical makeup appliance. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 33) "We had to run a tube up through the girl's hair, down her forehead, along one side of her nostril, and shoot her in profile," Carter offered. "That tube was covered up by thick, flesh-colored makeup." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18) On a separate occasion, Carter remembered, "There was a giant cord covered with, I'm telling you, two inches of makeup over the tube that led to the appliance." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 33) This method was subsequently tested, in an attempt to ensure the effect would work, while Daniel Sackheim and Chris Carter stood and watched. ("Behind The Truth: Toby Lindala", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Carter added, "In the test, the blood actually came out in her hair instead of in her nose 'cause it exploded in the tube. I thought we were goners." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Pilot", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) Carter concluded that "angles and lighting" were used in the efforts to make the shot seem believable. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 33) Lindala added, "Just before the camera's about to roll, Dan turns to me and said, 'Toby, it's not gonna come from up here [upper forehead] this time, is it?' I was like, 'Oh, I hope not!'" ("Behind The Truth: Toby Lindala", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- Post-production on this episode was completed in early May 1993. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 28) This was, according to Chris Carter, "just short of a year" after he had first pitched the series to Fox. ("The Truth About Season 1", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- Some parts of the music in this episode were inspired by one source in particular. "During the making of the pilot, I'd listen to Philip Glass' Low Symphony," revealed Chris Carter. "We put a lot of that in the temporary score [the music placed into the soundtrack temporarily during editing to provide a sense of what the final music score should sound like]." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 34) Carter and the other producers of this episode sold the pilot to the Fox network while the installment was embellished with its temporary score. ("Deep Throat" audio commentary, The X-Files Mythology, Volume 1 - Abduction special features) Added Carter, "Mark [Snow] heard that [score] and then tried to emulate some of it. But then, from there on out, it was Mark Snow." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 34)
- Script sources reveal that this episode was originally to be set in Bellefleur, Louisiana, but the setting was changed to Bellefleur, Oregon before the episode was filmed. Chris Carter was born in Bellflower, California and the setting is a reference to his hometown.
- David Duchovny's father can be seen sitting behind Scully on the plane to Oregon.
- Scully's autopsy of the strange corpse found in Ray Soames' coffin begins at 10:56, a reference to Chris Carter's birthday – 10/13/56.
- Near the end of the episode, Scully's clock reads 11:21. Chris Carter's wife, Dori Pierson, was born on 11/21/48.
- In one scene, Mulder knocks on Scully's door and jokingly claims to be Steven Spielberg when she answers. Spielberg is a celebrated movie producer and director. He is one of the most financially successful motion picture directors in history. Among Spielberg's most beloved films are Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extraterrestrial, both of which deal with extraterrestrials visiting Earth.
- When Scully first walks into Mulder's office, she gazes at the walls. A close-up shows his "I Want to Believe" poster in full view. In the next shot, however, she is seen walking past the poster, which is now partially hidden by papers stacked in front of it.
- In the slide projector scene, Mulder shows Scully the molecule found in the strange spots on Karen Swenson's back. The diagram shows "R" groups hanging off to the left, a symbol that denotes any organic group of atoms. Therefore, the chemical isn't necessarily unique at all. Mulder and Scully seem bewildered to have never encountered the chemical before, but there are many different chemicals that exist. The fact that they had never seen it before doesn't mean that the molecule is special, or unique, in any way. The molecular structure on the slide is that of a generic protein. All proteins have a backbone of amide groups (the -C-(C=O)-(NH)- sequence). Each carbon atom between the amide groups is bonded to a hydrogen atom (H) and another chemical group that can range from a simple hydrogen atom to a large, multi-ringed group. In the diagram, these are represented by the letter 'R', the standard way of representing 'could be anything' in chemistry. Life as we know it uses about twenty different groups in these positions. Far from never having encountered this structure before, it should be immediately familiar to anybody who has studied even basic biochemistry. (See this page on UCL's website for a near-identical structure.)
- From 47 to 52 seconds in, a pair of what seem like red glowing eyes can be seen in the woods.
Reception and AftermathEdit
- Even before this episode was produced, the executives at 20th Century Fox were thrilled by its plot. "As Chris [Carter] unfolded that pilot story, it was really suspenseful," reflected Robert Greenblatt. "It was a riveting pilot. We were all pretty excited about it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1)
- Mark Snow enjoyed viewing this episode. "When I saw the pilot, it was really great but I don't think any of us thought it would turn into one of the greatest TV shows of all time," he reckoned. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 52, p. 20)
- Director David Nutter came to the opinion that The X-Files pilot had a lot of promise. "When I got the first script and started talking to people about it," he stated, "I realized that this was something very special and something that had a lot of quality." ("The Truth About Season 1", TXF Season 1 DVD special features)
- According to Chris Carter, early screenings of the pilot proved positive. "When we tested it with test audiences, it was the kind of response that you only dream about," he said. "In fact, I remember when I first screened the pilot for Rupert Murdoch and the Fox executives, I'd finished the pilot at five in the morning and they saw it at eight in the morning. That's how close we were to deadline. But after the screening, there was spontaneous applause from the audience [....] It was an overwhelmingly positive response to the show." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 35-36) Recalled Robert Greenblatt, "When we screened it for a group at the company, it was one of the most well-received screenings we've ever had. Then we did some test market focus groups here in Los Angeles, which were equally positive." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18)
- One element of the pilot, when it was first screened, which was generally thought to be successful was David Duchovny's portrayal of Mulder. (X-Files Confidential, p. 19) Robert Granblatt was also relieved to discover the test screenings showed people were "so eager" to suspend their sense of disbelief. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18)
- Chris Carter was personally proud of the episode too, stating, "I think the pilot worked great, and I'm helped to that opinion by the response I've gotten to it [....] I think it succeeds on many levels." (X-Files Confidential, p. 35) One scene he regarded as effective is the one in which Scully visits Mulder in her nightgown, anxious about two mosquito bites on her back. He believed the scene was a key moment to "really establish what I was trying to establish" regarding a certain platonic connection he felt should be between the two characters. Carter also enthused, "I love that scene." (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 101) He was ultimately highly pleased with how Duchovny and Anderson played their parts in this episode in general. "They gave it humor, they gave it seriousness," he remarked, "they gave it many of the things that I had hoped that they would give it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 28) Another scene Carter held in high regard was the one wherein Theresa Nemman has a nosebleed. Not only was he amazed that the effect worked. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18; The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 33) Carter was also highly pleased with the scene itself, saying, "[It] ends up being a very believable and effective and scary moment in the pilot. I think it's pretty cool movie-making." Furthermore, Carter approved of how this episode was influenced by Director of Photography Thomas Del Ruth, observing, "He established a nice look." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Pilot", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) In another interview, Carter reflected that Ruth "had done such a wonderful job." ("Deep Throat" audio commentary, The X-Files Mythology, Volume 1 - Abduction special features)
- Director Rob Bowman was attracted to the prospect of working on The X-Files by one particular shot from this episode. "It was the image that was in the trailers from the show which caught my eye, which was a shot of a boy in the woods with leaves circling around him," explained Bowman. "I saw that commercial and said, 'That's what I want to work on.'" (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 44)
- R.W. Goodwin first viewed this pilot between the time he received a call (in May 1993) asking him to begin work on The X-Files television series and when he actually did so. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 32) Despite not knowing much about The X-Files prior to viewing this installment, the episode was insightful and attractive to him. "I obtained the pilot and saw that it was exactly the kind of stuff I really like to do," he said. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 21)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 7.9, with an audience share of 15. This means that roughly 7.9 percent of all television-equipped households, and 15 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248) It was viewed by 7.4 million households and 12.0 million viewers. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248; )
- One of the viewers of this installment was actor Rob LaBelle, who arrived in Vancouver – in preparation for portraying Brad Wilczek in "Ghost in the Machine" – on the same night as this episode aired. "I started watching it and thought, 'Wow, this show is pretty good,'" LaBelle reminisced. (TV Zone Yearbook 1996, Special #23, p. 14)
- As well as the Cigarette Smoking Man (CSM), this episode contains two other elements which early internet-surfing X-Philes referred to by the collective name YAXA (Yet Another X-Files Acronym). These were the CITDBTB (Conversation In The Dark By The Bed) and the IMBS (Infamous Mosquito Bite Scene). (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 31)
- Writing duo Glen Morgan and James Wong were loaned a video tape of the pilot episode from Peter Roth, who had brought their names to Chris Carter's attention and asked the pair to join the then-forming writing staff of The X-Files. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 30) "I had The X-Files script, and I never read it," conceded Morgan. "I remember cleaning up my office thinking, 'Well I don't need this,' and I threw it out." Roth insisted that the pair watch The X-Files pilot, so the two finally complied, watching the episode in their agents' office. Morgan later admitted that, even though they viewed the episode, they simultaneously wanted "to hate it." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 32) The reaction he and Wong had to the installment, though, convinced them to join the burgeoning writing staff. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 30) Explained Morgan, "We sat down and watched the pilot for The X-Files and said, 'Wow.'" Wong added, "When we watched the pilot we said, 'You know, there are so many ideas that come to mind when you think about The X-Files versus anything else out there.' That's what appealed to us." (X-Files Confidential, p. 26) A line of dialog which the pair of writers found "interesting" was Scully mentioning her parents hadn't wanted her to become an FBI agent. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 43) Morgan was also impressed by perceiving a merging of the films Silence of the Lambs and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. "[Chris Carter] had taken from all these movies that I really liked," observed Morgan. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 32) He appreciated the unresolved ending and thought the episode was unusually scary for a television program at that time. (X-Files Confidential, p. 36) "Anyone who saw and liked that pilot understood what the show could be and what the show was going after," Morgan reckoned. "So we said, 'Let's do The X-Files.'" (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 32)
- Writer Howard Gordon was similarly impressed when he first saw this installment. He believed it was "terrific" and one of the best pilot episodes he had watched "in years." ("The Truth About Season 1", TXF Season 1 DVD special features) In fact, he and writing partner Alex Gansa were both thoroughly entertained by the episode. "We saw the pilot and flipped," reported Gordon. "We thought it was one of the best things we'd seen in a long time." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 33) Although Gordon and Gansa had watched multiple pilot episodes in the same year they first viewed this one, it was only the pilot of The X-Files which really captured their imagination. "Everything about it was smart and intriguing and fun and scary," Gordon pointed out. "We were hooked." He also believed the episode demonstrated "tremendous chemistry" between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28/27, No. 6/1, p. 31) "The pilot set the tone of the show really successfully," he commented. "It established Mulder and Scully's characters, as well as the aspect of Mulder's sister supposedly being abducted. There was also a good solid murder investigation [....] Although I think the series has improved on it, the pilot was a tremendous synthesis of all the parts." With the pilot having attracted him to the imminent series, Gordon went on to write several other episodes of The X-Files with Gansa. (X-Files Confidential, p. 36)
- Mat Beck's work on this episode was deemed so successful he was assigned to The X-Files television series. "After the pilot," recalled Beck, "I got a message from Chris Carter saying he was delighted with how it went, and he wanted to work with me again. And the rest is… whatever the rest is!" (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 29, p. 24)
- In 1994, Thomas Del Ruth was nominated for the ASC Award of the American Society of Cinematographers for his work on this episode.
- The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 31) rated this episode 5 out of 10 "X"s.
- Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18) scores this episode 3 and a half out of 4 stars. The same magazine also comments, "The dark, stylish visuals reflect the show's understated tone, where one senses tremendous emotions lying below the flat, calm surface. The chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson is intriguing, despite performances a bit on the tentative side, although that quality plays well into how Mulder and Scully would behave during their first days together on the job."
- In the unauthorized reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman rated this episode 3 out of 5 stars. Additionally, he critiqued, "On its own terms, as a TV pilot, this isn't half bad. The direction is terrific, already reaching for that feel of a feature movie truncated into forty-five minutes [....] There's a pace and an energy to the whole thing which rattles through its rather complicated plot with so much abandon, you find yourself working hard to keep up – but you do so quite willingly, because the enthusiasm shown is quite infectious. For all its darker themes of abuse and dread, and its ghoulish set pieces of coffins being knocked open, there's an eager puppy dog feel to this: it's just revelling in the joy that such an unlikely TV pilot is being made [....] The story itself doesn't really work [....] But even if the plot is a bit rusty, its component parts are fresh and exciting. And what you're left with is the promise of a series brave enough to conclude its stories messily, in which the bad guys go unpunished and the good guys go unrewarded." Shearman also considered this pilot episode weaker than the series' next outing, "Deep Throat", and Millennium's pilot episode.
- Author Les Martin published a novelization of this episode with the title "X Marks the Spot", possibly referring to or influenced by the X spray-painted on an Oregon road by Mulder in the story.
- Division Chief Scott Blevins reappears in "Conduit" but does not appear again until the fourth season episode "Gethsemane". From the end of the first season, Walter Skinner replaces Blevins as Mulder and Scully's direct supervisor.
- Heitz Werber, the psychologist who conducts Billy Miles' hypnosis near the end of this episode, is the same doctor who supervised Mulder's own regression. He appears again in the fifth season episode "Patient X".
- The scene near the end of this episode in which Scully receives a phone call from Mulder is copied at the end of "The Erlenmeyer Flask", as is the scene of the Cigarette Smoking Man depositing evidence in the Pentagon basement.
- The first establishing shot of the FBI's headquarters (and the only shot of the building in this episode) was later reused in "Lazarus".
- Mulder and Scully mention the nine minutes they lose in this episode in "Tempus Fugit", another episode in which nine minutes are lost.
- Implants and spontaneous nose bleeds become a recurring theme later, featuring most prominently in "The Blessing Way" and "Memento Mori".
- Mulder and Scully return to Bellefleur, Oregon in the Season 7 episode "Requiem", in which Theresa Nemman, Billy Miles and his detective father also appear.
- Fox Mulder, Dana Scully and the Cigarette Smoking Man are the only characters to appear in both this episode and "The Truth", the final episode of the series.
- This episode's original script describes the transition between the two scenes in the "teaser" as, "The clear white light begins to fade… the scene re-appearing like a developing Polaroid." In the series Millennium, later created by Chris Carter, the Acts in most episodes also begin with a clear white light that fades to reveal a still image of action that resumes after the light has faded. Polaroids are also integral to parts of that series' plot.
- Charles Cioffi as Division Chief Scott Blevins (First appearance)
- Cliff DeYoung as Dr. Jay Nemman
- Sarah Koskoff as Theresa Nemman (First appearance)
- Leon Russom as Detective Miles (First appearance)
- Zachary Ansley as Billy Miles (First appearance)
- Stephen E. Miller as Coroner John Truitt
- Malcolm Stewart as Dr. Glass
- Alexandra Berlin as Orderly
- Jim Jansen as Dr. Heitz Werber (First appearance)
- Ken Camroux as Third Man
- Doug Abrams as Patrolman #1
- William B. Davis as Smoking Man (First appearance)
- Katya Gardener as Peggy O'Dell
- Ric Reid as Asst. Coroner
- Lesley Ewen as Receptionist
- J.B. Bivens as Truck Driver
Abductee; "the Academy"; Agent; Alien abduction; Automobile; Autopsy; Bellefleur; Class of '89; Collum National Forest; D.A.; Division Chief; Doctor; Einstein's Twin Paradox: A New Interpretation; FBI; God; Halloween; Hypnotic regression; Implants; J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building; Jeep Cherokee; Monte Propps; Mulder's sister; Oregon; Oregon Memorial Psychiatric Hospital; Oxford; Pentagon; Raymon County; Scully's parents; Shamrock; Soames, Ray; Southcott, Alexander G.; Southcott, Margaret L.; South Dakota; Spielberg, Steven; "Spooky"; Sturgis; Texas; Time loss; UFO; Violent Crimes Section; X-file