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The murder of a homeless man which is very similar in detail to a murder committed in 1947 leads Mulder and Scully to the legendary man-beast, the Jersey Devil
In New Jersey in 1947, a man, his wife and their children are out for a drive one night when they experience a flat tire. When the man gets out to fix it, he is dragged away by an unseen creature while his family watches and screams in terror. That morning, the local police search for the man who was taken and find his body deep in the woods with his leg "eaten off." One of the officers calls the rest of the team to follow him up a hill and to the entrance of a cave, which the officer supposedly saw the creature run into. As the team waits at the entrance to the cave, one of the officers says the creature is running towards them; the team then open fire on the creature with their firearms.
In the present day, Scully tells Mulder of a similar case involving a homeless man, Roger Crockett, that occurred in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mulder believes it to be the work of the infamous Jersey Devil, but Scully dismisses it as a tale. The two travel to the Atlantic City Morgue and examine the body of Roger Crockett. During their examination, Detective Thomas Tomson expresses his dislike of having the FBI involved with this case and asks Mulder and Scully to leave as the local police department has jurisdiction over the situation.
Mulder is undaunted while Scully realizes there is not a very big case here. She tells Mulder she would like to go to her godson's birthday party. Mulder gives her the keys to their car, while Mulder stays to search for the Jersey Devil. While searching in the woods, Mulder speaks with Park Ranger Peter Brullet who tells him stories of why he believes in the Jersey Devil. After the small search in the woods, Mulder travels to a certain part of town that is populated by homeless people, to ask if anyone knew Roger Crockett.
A man who was one of the homeless people living in the area leads Mulder to the place where he sleeps. The homeless man shows Mulder a sketched picture of the creature that was inside Crockett's jacket pocket before his death. To have a better chance of finding the Jersey Devil, Mulder gives the keys of his motel to the homeless man in exchange for his sleeping place. During the night, Mulder witnesses an ape-like creature descend on the dumpsters in the alley he is in. Mulder chases the creature until it gets to high building where Mulder cannot follow. Before he can get a good glimpse at the creature, the police show up and cart Mulder away. In jail, Mulder and Detective Tomson get into an argument on why the detective was keeping the existence of the creature secret, which was because of the fear of losing tourists.
Meanwhile, Scully is on a date with Rob, the father of one of the kids from her godson's party. Mulder calls from a jail cell, asking her to prove to the authorities that he is, in fact, a federal agent. As the two agents leave the jailhouse, Scully asks Mulder if he managed to "panhandle some change."
The pair consult an anthropologist, Dr. Diamond, to whom Mulder describes what he saw. Dr. Diamond believes it is man's "missing link," a creature that is the go-between of apes and humans. When asked where the creature would be on the food chain, the doctor ominously replies that the being would be near humans. After this, the duo visit the park ranger who was on duty on the night of the disappearance. He says he has seen many strange things, but not an ape-man. However, when they investigate into the woods, they find rudimentary tools made from glass bottles and rocks.
Then, later that week, police corner the creature in an abandoned warehouse, near the site of the homeless abductions. While searching, Mulder and Scully notice an open window and realize the creature was here and is now on the run. Mulder pursues the creature first and chases it to a smaller warehouse, where the creature pounces on Mulder and knocks him to the ground. While Mulder is on the floor, the creature has a chance to kill him, but Mulder notices that the creature is no longer fighting against him and is instead backing away from Mulder. As Mulder stands up to get a better look at the creature, it strikes him on the head before Scully arrives and the creature escapes. The anthropologist and ranger in tow, the FBI agents realize it is a female, possibly looking to feed her offspring. However, the woman flees to the woods, wounded after an encounter with the Atlantic City SWAT team.
With the primitive woman now injured and scared, the police, Mulder and Scully track her to her den, where she puts up a last stand before she is killed. After her death, the anthropologist remarks she may have had children. Mulder examines the dead female body and asks Tomson his reason for killing her. Tomson replies by comparing his act to killing a rabid animal.
One week later, Mulder is still disappointed that the woman has died. He realizes she was only trying to protect her offspring and only killed those who were a threat to her and her children. Mulder decides to go to the Smithsonian for free time to relax after the incident with the Jersey Devil and Scully decides to go with him, after denying another date with Rob.
While a boy and his father are hiking in the woods, the boy asks his father about a small object he thought he saw and the father replies that he doesn't know what they saw, but starts telling the son a story about the Jersey Devil as they walk on. As they are walking away, a female child of the Jersey Devil appears, listening to pair and watches them walk away in the woods.
- Chris Carter's writing of this episode proceeded from real-life reports of the Jersey Devil, although Carter made significant changes to such depictions of the legendary beast. Another starting point was an essay by E.O. Wilson concerning, in Carter's words, "evolution and de-evolution." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) Carter recollected, "He had written a story that posed the question of whether or not man is hellbent on his own extinction." (X-Files Confidential, p. 43)
- Chris Carter wanted to focus this episode on an evolutionary relic, rather than a generic hairy creature. He noted, "The idea was not to make this a monster per se, but almost a missing link." (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 110) Carter further explained, "I wanted to say, 'What happens if there was some sort of genetic snafu that could actually send us tumbling backwards, where to survive we would actually have to revert to our old ways?' So I wanted this idea that there could be somebody living out there who was either a reversion or who would never have evolved to our point, and really was a simpler, and in a way, more complete human being. We tend to be tough, but when they call us top of the food chain, top grazers, and we end up using a lot of energy on Earth, [...] maybe that will be our downfall. So it was certainly an exploration of that." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25)
- Placing the story in Atlantic City physically echoed the thematic concerns expressed herein by Chris Carter, who had been to the city and was very well acquainted with it. "It [...] seemed to be an interesting place to put a de-evolved, or a less evolved character," he stated, "because Atlantic City almost represents the decay of Western Civilization." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25)
- According to Chris Carter, the reasoning for the scenes in which Scully meets her best friend Ellen and discusses the possibility of dating Mulder was "to show the life she's passing on. I just wanted to open up Scully a little bit for the audience." (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, pp. 110-111) Carter elaborated, "That was a little bit of experimentation. I wanted people to see that Scully had a feminine side, but also I wanted to play that against Mulder, how she felt about Mulder having his work [....] So it was a little bit of a chance to give the character some dimension. And I think for a lot of women, the 'man's world' is much more interesting than a 'woman's world.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) Scully's date with Rob in this outing was motivated by the efforts that were being made to give her a life outside the FBI. "We tried to develop a love interest for Scully only to heighten the sexual tension between her and Mulder," Carter disclosed. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 40)
- This episode's script went through three drafts. These were dated 11th, 18th and 19th August 1993.
- One requirement for the urban setting of this episode was an assembly of buildings where the Jersey Devil woman could leap from rooftop to rooftop. "We proposed Station Street," noted Louisa Gradnitzer. The exterior vacant buildings where the female hunts for food were consequently filmed around 900-Block Station Street in Vancouver, as were shots for the PD parking lot and the restaurant where Rob and Scully meet for a date. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), pp. 34-35)
- The New Jersey woods were depicted with Seymour Demonstration Forest, in North Vancouver. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 35)
- It was decided that the episode's location filming would additionally include the interior of the townhouse, as well as the restaurant and Rob's office. "All three of these locations were scheduled for one day of shooting," recalled Louisa Gradnitzer. "Luckily, we found a mansion diverse enough to make this grouping possible." The mansion was located at 1451 Angus Drive, Vancouver, and its dining room was converted into the restaurant. The mansion's den became Rob's office and the building's kitchen was filmed as a kitchen. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 35)
- The abandoned warehouse in which Mulder catches up with the Jersey Devil woman was an actually abandoned warehouse near The X-Files' studio at Molson Brewery, Kitsilano. (TV Zone, issue 80, p. 20; X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 53)
- Creating the look of the Jersey Devil required efforts from the hair, makeup and wardrobe departments. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 34) Claire Stansfield felt thankful for the work these personnel invested in the installment. (TV Zone Special #21, p. 24)
- Joe Napolitano initially complained, during preproduction on this episode, about the lack of location scouts, as hiring such personnel for The X-Files was not permitted at this point. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 35)
- One challenge this episode presented Joe Napolitano was trying to depict the Jersey Devil woman as naked without showing excessive nudity. "It was very tricky and complicated to design and film the shots she appeared in," the director conceded. "We had to make sure that viewers could catch a glimpse, enough of her to know that she's naked, and yet not really reveal that she's naked." (TV Zone, issue 80, pp. 19-20)
- "The Jersey Devil" required much filming. "That was a difficult show because it was the death of a thousand cuts," R.W. Goodwin laughed. "To make that work, it required so much shooting, so much film at different angles." (X-Files Confidential, p. 44)
- While the shooting company was filming at 900-Block Station Street, the owners of the scrap metal shop Atlantic Sheet Metals – who owned most of the block – positioned lawn chairs outside their shop, being very accommodating towards the cast and crew. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 35)
- During the episode's production, two daily visitors to the set were Chris Carter and Claire Stansfield's mother. With Carter and Duchovny having become friends by this point, Claire Stansfield – as a friend of Duchovny's – also got to know Carter. Stansfield gleefully enjoyed being on a set with Carter, Duchovny and her own mother. (The X-Files Magazine Yearbook 2002, p. 9) "I also have to thank the make-up girl for being right there with a robe after we finished every shot," Stansfield reminisced. (TV Zone Special #21, p. 24)
- Among the goings-on during this episode's shoot was the fact that Claire Stansfield's stunt double, who was actually a stripper, refused to wear any clothes. (The X-Files Magazine Yearbook 2002, p. 9) "[She] was not at all uncomfortable about sitting around in her G-string," Stansfield laughed. (TV Zone Special #21, p. 24) "They had a naked woman running around the set, so people were pretty thrilled," said Glen Morgan, smiling. (X-Files Confidential, p. 44)
- Claire Stanfield's stunt double performed only one stunt in this installment, which was a climb over a fence filmed at the beginning of the shoot. Stansfield begged to be permitted to do the stunt herself but, whereas her stunt double was replaceable if injured, Stansfield wasn't. (The X-Files Magazine Yearbook 2002, p. 9) Essentially, the requirement of a stuntwoman's involvement was, in Stansfield's words, "because of union rules." (TV Zone Special #21, p. 24)
- The filming of the scene in which several law enforcement officers, including Mulder and Scully, track the Jersey Devil woman through an abandoned warehouse was designed with the scene's surroundings in mind, since Joe Napolitano considered the building where the scene was shot "an interesting find." He explained, "We knew what we wanted to accomplish from A to Z but getting there was dictated somewhat by the location and how interesting it was." (TV Guide, issue 80, p. 20)
- The look of the room in which Mulder has a close encounter with the woman tasked Joe Napolitano with two main difficulties. He recalled, "I wanted to go with an extremely stylized look in the room [....] Again, I had to conceal her nudity as well as make the scene very dark and spooky. We actually cut a big hole in the wall, put a fan in it and blasted some big lights through that, making this the only light source in the whole room. It was kind of an interesting way to solve two problems." Napolitano thought the solution was very successful, such as by "concealing as much nudity as we could." (TV Guide, issue 80, p. 20)
- The stunts which were done by Claire Stansfield included the Jersey Devil's tussle with Mulder. Considering she wore a virtually non-existent costume in her role as the Jersey Devil, she was particularly pleased to have a good friend performing opposite her in that scene, with whom she did not feel uncomfortable. (The X-Files Magazine Yearbook 2002, pp. 9-10) Stansfield specified that, despite how it may look on screen, she and David Duchovny were not about to start having sex with each other. "We spent most of that scene just laughing," remembered the actress, "because we had to stay in the same position for 20 minutes." (TV Zone Special #21, p. 24)
- Nudity was a delicate matter during filming in Seymour Demonstration Forest, as the forest was a publicly open area. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 35) R.W. Goodwin, however, was left with the impression it was not open to the public, due to it being a preserve. (X-Files Confidential, p. 44)
- At one point, the production unit needed more footage in Seymour Demonstration Forest, depicting the Jersey Devil woman stalking Mulder while he's walking through the forest. R.W. Goodwin recollected, "I was sent off into the woods with a second unit and a six-foot-tall naked woman to do this filming [....] I get to the gate and my two sons, who are at that time twelve and eight, are with me that day. I said, 'Come on, guys, we're going to shoot some film of the big, tall naked lady.' We get to the gate and the guard won't let the kids in because they're not covered for liability insurance. He said the kids were going to have to wait in the parking lot several miles from where we were shooting, and then he said, 'You don't want them in there, anyway, because we've had several mountain lion attacks over the last week and it was just spotted a half a mile down the road.' I said, 'You want me to leave my two kids standing in a parking lot, telling me that there are mountain lions half a mile down the road?' They wouldn't let them go, so I'm up there, and I should have been having the time of my life with this naked lady, and all I can think about is how my two little boys are stuck at the gate, about to be mauled by a mountain lion." (X-Files Confidential, p. 44)
- The production crew encountered a problem while finishing their work in the mansion used as a filming location for this episode; they had to observe a municipal curfew, imposed between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Related Louisa Gradnitzer, "At 10:30 p.m. wrap was called and it was obvious that the set could not be struck [i.e. dismantled] by 11:00 p.m. Everyone walked away from set, and the following day wrap was completed." (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 35)
- A shot supposed to be set in an Atlantic City casino actually involved filming blue-screen footage of David Duchovny, before stock casino footage was matted in. This was considerably less expensive than a location shoot in New Jersey would have cost. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 110)
- The character Dr. Diamond may have been named after Jared Diamond, a famed anthropologist who theorized that the first wide-scale genocide was of the Neanderthals.
- The woodwind tune often played in the background was incorporated into "Trader's life" in the Fallout OST
- Chris Carter was very enthusiastic about this entry into the canon of The X-Files. He thought his idea of a primitive human in the New Jersey woods was "curious." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 43-44) "I think the episode was very well directed, and I think it was a little different approach for us," Carter observed. "It was a little more poetic and didn't have the 'boo', which is the big effect or the big scare. I also think it further established the relationship between Mulder and Scully, and expanded the idea of what an X-File is and where it can take place." (X-Files Confidential, p. 44)
- Joe Napolitano was highly proud of the appearance of the room where Mulder and the Jersey Devil woman meet. "We were able to give it a very nice, stylized look," he enthused, "with that flickering effect from the turning fan keeping it spooky." (TV Zone, issue 80, p. 20)
- Glen Morgan once expressed this installment was "beautifully shot" and "started off great." However, Morgan also felt its narrative "didn't go anywhere" in the middle, the story lacking enough complications. (X-Files Confidential, p. 44)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 6.6, with an audience share of 12. This means that roughly 6.6 percent of all television-equipped households, and 12 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 6.2 million households. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248)
- Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) scores this episode 2 and a half out of 4 stars. The magazine comments, "'Jersey Devil' is an average episode, yet it has many wonderful moments, particularly the confrontation between Mulder and the Beast Woman, both filled with curiosity and fear, and Scully's sarcastic ripostes to Mulder's seemingly nutty theories."
- In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman rated this episode 1 out of 5 stars. He critiqued, "From this episode, we can conclude that The X-Files definitively isn't about Mulder bonding with neanderthal women and calling them beautiful." Shearman described the installment as "a monster episode which can only be described as risible" and considered the most amusing part of the episode to be "the sorrowed anger in which Mulder reacts to the death of the cannibal cavegirl, shot dead in the woods with no dramatic build-up but just because the episode had reached its running time." Continued Shearman, "The sub-plot of Scully going out on a date feels wrong, but it's at least entertaining [....] For the rest of the episode we're left with a conservation story so clumsily obvious, even the mute neanderthal looks embarrassed. Moreover, after a series of episodes of cover-ups for national security, we're given a tale of police obstruction motivated by wanting to preserve the casino tourist trade. It's hard to care about, even harder to keep a straight face."
- After the making of this episode, the hiring of location scouts for The X-Files was permitted. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 35)
Cast and Characters
- Jersey Devil actress Claire Stansfield was cast in this episode on the recommendation of Mulder actor David Duchovny, the two being friends beforehand. Duchovny made the suggestion upon reading the episode's script (offering the recommendation to Chris Carter). (TV Zone Special #21, p. 24) The cast and crew who worked on the installment, including Stansfield, thought of the production as just another job, as very few people had heard about The X-Files. "We had no idea it was going to be as huge as it was," she remembered. "For me it was really just a great vacation and getting to hang out with David." (The X-Files Magazine Yearbook 2002, p. 9) Stansfield was ultimately pleased with the installment, remarking, "They did a really good job in the way that they wrote and edited the episode [....] The nice thing, I think, that you get from the episode is how David's character of Mulder sympathizes with her [....] You just can't help but like it, or her." (TV Zone Special #21, p. 24)
- This episode was one of a few, randomly arranged near the start of the series, wherein Gillian Anderson struggled to find her voice and her rhythm with the stories. Anderson ultimately felt uncomfortable with re-watching scenes of herself as Scully, delivering lines of dialogue in a manner the actress felt was too cocky for her character. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 40) On the other hand, Claire Stansfield found Anderson was – during their brief opportunity to work together – extremely welcoming and supportive towards her. "Gillian embraced the whole situation," Stansfield observed, "and really made me feel very comfortable." (TV Zone Special #21, p. 24)
- Claire Stansfield as Creature
- Wayne Tippit as Detective Thomas Tomson
- Gregory Sierra as Dr. Diamond
- Michael MacRae as Ranger Peter Brullet
- Jill Teed as Glenna
- Tamsin Kelsey as Ellen
- Andrew Airlie as Rob
- Bill Dow as Dad
- Hrothgar Mathews as Jack
- Jayme Knox as Mom
- Scott Swanson as First Officer
- Sean O'Byrne as Second Officer
- David Lewis as Young Officer
- D. Neil Mark as S.W.A.T. Team Officer