|Written by:||Vince Gilligan|
|Directed by:||Rob Bowman|
Mulder and Scully struggle to capture a dying man who can apparently bend others to his will and convince his victims to place themselves in extreme danger.
The scene first begins in a supermarket. Pusher is seen going through the aisles, buying groceries. He stops at a particular aisle and flicks about thirty cans of "Carbo Boost" into his cart. A young man walks near to him and regards him closely as he does this. As Pusher gets in line, the line is cut into by another young man. He grabs a copy of the Daily Informer, scans through the front cover and puts it back. He sees a police car outside. He then reaches over to the guy in front of him and peels a sticker off his jacket, revealing the three letters, FBI. Immediately, he is tackled by two men, the one in front and behind of him. He is put in handcuffs and made to walk out of the store. The inspector, Frank Burst, rides shotgun with him to the police station.
In the car, Burst asks for the Pusher's real name. "Pusher's good enough." Pusher replies calmly, almost casually. Suddenly, he starts to go on about how the driver's, Deputy Scott Kerber's, jacket is a nice shade of "cerulean blue", that it makes him think about the gentle breeze. As he repeats this, Kerber appears to go into a trance, and a truck right in his sight of vision vanishes. Almost in a dreamlike, Kerber drives directly into the truck, while Burst screams for him to stop and the Pusher ducks in the backseat. There is a crash.
In the X-Files office, there is a slide being played, which shows Kerber lying in the street dead. Burst is sitting next to Scully, his face all bruised and banged up. Burst starts to explain the aftermath of that collision: before Kerber collapsed on the street and died, he managed to get out of the car and unlock Pusher's handcuffs, allowing him to escape. Burst adds that Pusher was the one who turned himself in to the police, admitting that he had murdered fourteen people as a game. He was telling the truth, as he knew too much about the details that were only available to the police. Burst flips to the next slide, which shows the truck with the words "Cerulean Hauling" painted on it, and also explains how Pusher kept saying something about cerulean blue to Kerber. He flips to the next slide, which shows the letters NIN OR smeared on the truck with blood. Mulder walks over to the projector and flips the slide the other way around to reveal the word RO NIN, which means a samurai without a master.
Later, Mulder and Scully are in the FBI research library reading through a pile of magazines called "American Ronin". A woman called Holly walks over and drops even more magazines on their table. A bruise can be seen on her right cheek, as a result of a man had knocking her down in Georgetown and stealing her purse. After she leaves, Mulder starts to have a theory about how Pusher can force his will onto others. As usual, Scully does not believe him. Mulder points to an advertisement which reads "I SOLVE PROBLEMS. OSU", followed by three numbers to call. Mulder checks up the word "osu" in the Japanese-English dictionary and finds out that it is a Japanese word that means "to push". Scully suggests to try the three listed numbers on the ad.
They stake out a public phone at night. Scully is sleeping with her head on Mulder's shoulder, and he wakes her up. As they are starting to think that this was all a wild goose chase, suddenly the public phone starts to ring. It is Pusher. Pusher taunts Mulder by saying that, "You'll have to follow my little bread crumb trail, prove your worth." Mulder's next clue, says Pusher, is "right in front of him", and then he hangs up. Mulder checks the last number dialed on the public phone, which is a recorded woman's voice from Tee Totallers, a golf driving range and pro shop.
At Tee Totallers, Pusher whacks a golf ball towards a hole. He then notices a suspicious looking piece of brown bush that is carrying a rifle. He leaves, saying "Konichiwa, gentlemen. I was never here." Agents start to surround the building. Collins, one of the FBI agents who arrested Pusher earlier at the supermarket, enters the dimly-lit building with his gun, and orders Pusher to get down on the ground. Pusher tells him to relax.
Mulder, Scully and Burst are walking towards the building when Collins runs out, sobbing. He is carrying a can of gasoline, and has poured it on himself and on the ground. He holds a lighter in his hand. Realising what will happen next, Mulder and Burst try to stop him as Scully runs away. Collins tries to resist Pusher's control, and pleads for help, but is unsuccessful as he lights the lighter and presses it to his chest. Flames erupt over him. Mulder takes off his coat and Scully re-appears with a fire extinguisher, spraying Collins with it as Mulder tackles him to the ground and covers him with the coat. Collins is badly burnt, but still alive and trembling. Burst calls for help. Mulder suddenly hears a car horn in the distance and runs over to it, followed by Scully and other agents. He opens the door and sees Pusher in the seat, looking exhausted and covered with sweat. Pusher looks at Mulder and smiles: "Bet you five bucks I get off."
In court, it is found out that Pusher's real name is Robert Patrick Modell. Mulder tries to argue his case that Modell was actually behind the fourteen "suicides" that took place since 1994. However, Modell's lawyer manages to convince that judge that Modell is not guilty. He merely placed several drunken calls to police and pretended that he helped those people committ suicide. After the court session, Modell goes up to Mulder and says that he owes him five dollars. Mulder is about to hand him the five dollars when he lies that Modell's shoe is untied. Modell realizes this after looking down at his shoe, realizing he is has been tricked. Mulder asks Modell how he does it. Modell does not say, and tries to grab the bill. Mulder pulls it away. Pusher smirks and walks away, ignoring Burst when he yells out that he knows what is his name and where he lives.
Later at the FBI firing range, Mulder, wearing goggles and ear protectors, empties his clip into a piece of paper with the letter "Q" on it. Scully enters the room, saying that she found out more about Modell. Apparently, Modell had applied to the FBI previously, but did not get through the psyche screening. This was because they found him to be acutely ego-centered, with no regard for others' feelings and that he thought of people as objects.
Downstairs in the FBI headquarters' lobby, Modell, seeing the metal detector at the front, goes behind a pillar and scrawls the word "PASS" on a piece of paper and attaches it to his lapel. Modell asks the guard where the computer records section is and the guard tells him. The guard lets him through without a second glance, even as the metal detector starts to ring. Pusher heads to the Computer Records section. There, Holly can be seen. Modell closes the door and all the blinds in the room, and then psychs Holly into checking up a personal record and having her print it out.
At the same time, AD Walter Skinner is walking outside of the office. Seeing the closed blinds, he grows suspicious and tries to open the door. It is locked. He draws his gun, then kicks it open. He finds Pusher talking to Holly. Pusher tries to psych Skinner as well, but Skinner slams him against a cabinet and orders Holly to call security. Pusher orders Holly to attack Skinner, suggesting that he was the one who mugged her in Georgetown. In the end, Skinner calls security himself, but Holly stops him by spraying pepper spray into his eyes. Skinner screams in agony and falls to the floor, writhing. Pusher tells Holly to "hurt him back", and leaves. Holly begins kicking Skinner mercilessly.
A short while later in Skinner's office, Holly has come to her senses and is apologising profusely for her actions. Scully is sitting next to her, while Skinner, looking grim, has a bandage on the side of his face. Crying, Holly explains that it was as if she was watching herself attacking Skinner from across the room. Mulder walks in, and asks to speak with Scully and Skinner outside. He says that he looked at the security tapes and Modell could clearly be seen entering the building with the word "PASS" on his lapel, but that the guard did not remember waving him through. Scully agrees with Mulder. Skinner turns to Mulder and asks why Modell is so interested with him. It seems like Modell only printed out his file, and left out the others. This means that Modell now knows where Mulder lives.
At Pusher's apartment, the door is broken down and the SWAT team start to enter the apartment. Mulder dons latex gloves and enters the kitchen. He opens the fridge to find cans upon cans of "Mango Kiwi Tropical Swirl". Scully is in the bathroom, talking into a phone. She hangs up and walks over to Mulder, showing him a bottle of pills known as Tegretol. She explains that it is used to relieve Modell's seizures from temporal lobe epilepsy. She adds that the doctors she just spoke to would only tell her that the prescription dates back to 1994. As Scully says that kind of epilepsy is brought on by brain tumours, Mulder suddenly has a theory that Pusher's ability was a form of psychokinesis, brought on by a brain tumour. It seemed that Pusher, very weak, was dying and wanted to go off with a bang, taking a few lives with him.
The telephone in Pusher's apartment rings and Burst picks up. After ordering for the tracing gear, Burst signals to Mulder and Scully, who run to another room and pick up the extension phone. It is Pusher. As the trace runs, Pusher begins to go on about how Burst, who is not exactly slim in size, probably eats a lot of fried food, and then meticulously starts to explain what is happening to his arteries and his heart. Upon hearing this, Mulder orders Burst to hang up, but Burst, evidently in pain, refuses and wants to continue the trace. Mulder rushes out of the room and tries to put the phone down, but is stopped by the SWAT men on Burst's orders, and put in an arm lock. Scully tries to cut the phone line, but is stopped as well. Moments later, Burst collapses on the ground, motionless.
Scully checks for a pulse, but there is none. Mulder picks up the phone to continue the conversation and the trace as Scully administers CPR on Burst. Mulder asks Modell what he wants, and Modell replies that he wants a worthy adversary. He then easily rattles off the number of the phone he is calling from. It matches the number from the trace. It is a pay phone, located at 12000 Block Chain Bridge Road. The SWAT lieutenant checks the map and finds out that there is a Fairfax DMercy Hospital near it. On a hunch, Scully checks the label on the bottle of Tegretol, and reads the words "Fairfax Mercy Pharmacy". Therefore, the agents decide to stake that place out.
At Fairfax Mercy Hospital, the SWAT team are prepping for Modell's arrival. Mulder, Scully and the SWAT lieutenant are in a van containing high tech equipment. A SWAT man checks the engine of Modell's car, which is parked there. It is still warm, suggesting that Modell is still in the building. The SWAT lieutenant offers to bring his men into the hospital to flush Modell out, but Mulder does not want to run the risk of Modell using one of his men against the others in a crowded hospital. He decides to enter the hospital himself, to give Modell what he wants: a worthy adversary Scully is worried about his decision, and Mulder offers to wear a microphone so they can stay in contact with him. Mulder is fixed up with the equipment, which includes a bulletproof vest, a mike and a mini camera that allows Scully and the lieutenant to see what is going on from his point of view.
After handing Scully his gun and smiling reassuringly at her, Mulder enters the hospital. He tells the curious people to carry on with their business as he walks around the hospital. Suddenly, there is a gunshot and he quickens his pace. Another shot is fired. The picture on the monitor in the van turns to static. Scully is about to leave the van after Mulder, but the picture comes back to reveal two men lying on the ground, dead. On a table nearby is a computer and some charts. As Mulder checks up some stuff for Scully on Modell's charts, Modell sneaks up behind him. Scully tells Mulder to get out of the hospital. When Mulder turns around, Modell can be seen in the monitor in the van, holding a gun at point-blank range in Mulder's face. He grabs at Mulder's camera and the screen turns black. Scully, panicking, runs out of the van.
In the hallways of the hospital, Scully has donned a bulletproof vest and walks towards the place where they lost contact with Mulder. She hands her gun over to the lieutenant next to her and enters the area. She checks each room as she passes by them, and stops at a room where a bulletproof jacket and a mess of wires can be seen on the floor beside a bed. She opens the door wider and sees Modell and Mulder sitting on opposite sides of a table, a gun in between them. Modell is staring at Mulder, who does not break his gaze away from him. Scully walks in cautiously and Modell thanks her for joining them. Mulder is expressionless, with his right eye slightly out of focus. She sits down at the table as well, between the two men.
Checking that the gun has only one bullet in the chamber, Modell hands the gun to Mulder and forces him to play Russian roulette. Mulder points the gun at Pusher and fires, despite Scully's anxious warnings that pulling the trigger in a pure-oxygen room is not a good idea. No bullet is fired. Mulder now has to fire the gun at himself. Scully tries to stop him, but Mulder cringes as he places the barrel to his temple and fires. A click. No bullet. Mulder points the gun at Scully. Shocked, Scully begs Mulder not to do it, but Modell goads Mulder into shooting her. Obviously trying to fight Modell, Mulder tells Scully to run for it. As he is about the fire the bullet, Scully runs and activates the fire alarm behind her. Alarms start ringing out. Modell, for the first time, breaks his gaze away from Mulder to look at Scully in shock. Mulder snaps out of it and Modell gasps. Mulder fires. A bullet enters Modell's chest and he crashes to the ground. Mulder stands and continues to fire at Modell although he knows that the chamber of the gun is empty. The SWAT team starts to swarm the room. As Mulder finally puts the gun down, Scully gazes at him worriedly. He hands her the gun and slumps into a chair with his head in his hands.
Following his shooting, Modell can be seen in a hospital bed, with bandages covering most of his head, hooked up to a respirator. Mulder is standing over him as Scully walks into the room. Scully says that he will never regain consciousness, no matter how long he lives. Mulder then tells her that when he checked Modell's charts, they showed that Modell never went for treatment for his brain tumour. Scully is puzzled at this new piece of information, but Mulder goes on to agree with Scully that he probably liked his new ability, which made him, a little man, feel big. Scully contemplates this silently, before taking hold of his hand. "I say we don't let him take up another minute of our time", she comments, and leaves the room. With one last glance at Pusher, Mulder leaves as well.
Story & ScriptEdit
- Writer Vince Gilligan developed this episode from an idea for a movie that he thought up. He had either never found a way to do the concept as a movie idea or had never written it but found, through the medium of The X-Files, a method of telling the story, about a man who had the ability of bending people to his will. Gilligan called the man "Pusher" because the character was capable of pushing people into harming themselves.
- Gilligan's deliberate objective in writing this episode was to set up a tense game of cat-and-mouse between Mulder and Pusher, who was named "Modell". The only thing that the writer consciously tried to do was to have the two characters together as much as possible.
- Upon turning in a draft of the script, Gilligan, very proud of what he had written, predicted to Chris Carter that it constituted the best work that he himself would ever do for the series. Carter reacted in annoyance, however, telling Gilligan that he shouldn't say that or think that way because the goal, as Carter saw it, was to always better oneself.
- Chris Carter enjoyed the sequence at this episode's end where Mulder, in the knowledge that Pusher is actually capable of possibly forcing Mulder to turn his own gun on himself, follows Pusher inside the hospital unarmed, but Pusher still manages to manipulate Mulder into turning a gun on himself.
- In the script, Mulder originally wonders if the tiny camera he straps on can receive the Discovery Channel but Mulder actor David Duchovny, influenced by his character's penchant for making jokes about erotica, changed the channel that was referenced to the Playboy Channel.
- The first note back from the Fox network was to say that Russian roulette could not be included in the episode. Gilligan was alarmed, since the lethal game was such a big feature of the script's final act. Fox's Broadcast Standards and Practices department even sought to strengthen their point by consulting the other networks, which claimed to have never had a Russian roulette scene in an hour-long drama series, despite the game's use in such films as The Deer Hunter, which had also prompted concern when it was shown on television. The Fox network was reportedly worried about making sure that they didn't give any impressionable kids any bad ideas, but Gilligan's argument to this concern was that he had not been responsible for inventing the lethal game. He was nevertheless ultimately surprised that the production crew of The X-Files were allowed to show the game on television, with some helpful, creative blocking by director Rob Bowman.
- Actor Mitch Pileggi did not enjoy the scene in which Holly, while being motivated by Modell, attacks Pileggi's character, Walter Skinner, as Pileggi was not thrilled about Skinner being brutalized by a diminutive woman, especially since Skinner had been beaten up so much in recent episodes. Pileggi thought the fans of the series were also feeling this way and was teased by Mulder actor David Duchovny about the scene. In fact, because so many characters were bruised and beaten up (with these individuals including not only Skinner but also the detectives in the car), makeup artist Fern Levin found this episode to be one of her most difficult assignments.
Cast & Established CharactersEdit
- The production crew found difficulty with casting this episode's title character, as they couldn't find anyone they particularly liked for the role. Gilligan suggested Harvey Fierstein for the role and Chris Carter even considered Lance Henriksen; the casting process for this episode was in Henriksen's pre-Millennium days. As would often happen on The X-Files, actor Robert Wisden came in to audition when it was almost too late, impressed the production crew and was consequently given the role. Subsequently, several members of production crew were notably impressed with the results of this last-minute casting selection, including Carter and Gilligan themselves.
- The title character of this episode reappears in the later Season 5 episode "Kitsunegari". As a result, this is the third episode of only three that introduce a Monster of the Week character that would predominantly feature later in the series, the other two similar introductory episodes being Season 1's "Squeeze" (which introduces Eugene Victor Tooms and was continued in the later first season episode "Tooms") as well as the second season episode "Irresistible" (introducing Donald Pfaster and followed with Season 7's "Orison").
- This episode marks the second of two appearances of security guard K Johnson. The character first appeared in the earlier Season 3 episode, "The Blessing Way", the first episode of the season.
- The character of Holly (played by Julia Arkos) briefly reappears in "Redux", the first episode of the fifth season.
- Dave Grohl - former drummer of Nirvana and current lead singer of the Foo Fighters - as well as his former wife, Jennifer Youngblood-Grohl, can be seen in the background as Modell enters the FBI building. Grohl regarded this brief cameo as his own acting debut.
- The series' visual effects unit were called upon to make a last-minute fix, when it was realized that a sign in the courtroom did not read "Loudoun County", as it should have done, but was spelled, "Loudon County". The effects team digitally moved the letters around and added a "u" on the sign, so that it read correctly.
Other Episode NotesEdit
- This episode is the first of four in which security entrances to the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building can be seen. A completely different entrance appears in the pilot episode of The X-Files while security entrances can be seen in the first and last episodes of Season 3 - "The Blessing Way" and "Talitha Cumi", respectively - as well as in the Season 6 episode "S.R. 819".
- Both the cover of a tabloid newspaper, entitled the World Weekly Informer, and the cover of a magazine named American Ronin appear in this episode. Although neither of these two publications exist in reality, a different issue of each appears later in the series, with the World Weekly Informer reappearing in the fourth season episode "Small Potatoes" and American Ronin reappearing in "Dæmonicus", an episode of the series' ninth and final season.
- In this episode, a sketch of the Flukeman can be seen on the cover of the World Weekly Informer. The Flukeman originally appeared in the second season episode "The Host" and would later be referenced by Scully in the Season 4 episode "The Field Where I Died".
- An inset picture on the same tabloid cover, in this episode, is arranged next to a small headline that announces, "Depravity Rampant on Hit TV Show" and actually features props master Ken Hawryliw on his birthday, beside a female strip-o-gram artist.
- Similarly, the cover of the American Ronin magazine has, as its cover star, Danielle Faith Friedman - a production assistant on The X-Files.
- Among the cultural references in this episode, an easy-listening version of Johnny Mathis' "Misty" is playing as background muzak in the grocery store and Mulder asks Scully if she never saw Yojimbo. Next to the Japanese dictionary is a book in Russian Cyrillic, "Война и Мир", which is "War and Peace" and is mostly likely quite rare. Modell mentions Mel Cooley, Scully not only sees television footage of Svengali but also simultaneously states the man's name, Detective Burst asks Modell if the Grinch that Stole Christmas did his decorating and Mulder jokingly references the Playboy Channel.
- Modell mentions an instance on which Scully previously shot Mulder. This is a reference to an event that takes place in the final episode of Season 2, "Anasazi".
"Cerulean blue is a gentle breeze."
"So he's a killer and a golfer" - Scully, after finding out Modell called the golf place.
"Modell psyched the guy out. He put the whammy on him."
"Please explain to me the scientific nature of the whammy." - Mulder and Scully, discussing the effect that Modell had on the judge.
Links and ReferencesEdit
- Mitch Pileggi as AD Walter Skinner
- Robert Wisden as Robert "Pusher" Modell
- Vic Polizos as Agent Frank Burst
- Roger R. Cross as S.W.A.T. Lieutenant
- Steve Bacic as Agent Collins
- Don Mackay as Judge
- Brent J.D. Sheppard as Prosecutor
- D. Neil Mark as Deputy Scott Kerber
- Julia Arkos as Holly
- Meridith Bain-Woodward as Defense Attorney
- Ernie Foort as Lobby Guard
- Darren Lucas as Lead S.W.A.T. Cop
supermarket; Loudoun County; Virginia; Washington D.C.; Computer Records Office; cerulean; Falls Church; Georgetown; ronin; osu; pay phone; self-immolation; ninja; CarboBoost; epilepsy; brain tumor; psychokinesis; Russian roulette; American Ronin; World Weekly Informer; flukeman; driving range
|The X-Files • Season 3|
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