“Pilot” – 1×73
A girl dies in the woods in Oregon. FBI Agent Dana Scully is assigned to the X-Files — whether as a balancing scientific force or as a spy is less than clear. Her partner, Agent Fox Mulder, lays out the case of the dead girl, whose corpse bore a strange pair of dots on the lower back consistent with previous casefiles. The two travel to Oregon, where they investigate several members (living and dead) of the local high school class of 1989. After another mysterious death, they eventually encounter one of these kids, the erstwhile comatose Billy Miles, in the woods amidst a mysterious bright light. They return to the FBI with scant substantiating evidence of what they’ve seen.
We see a girl running, panicked, through the woods, tumbling and scraping herself on vegetation as she flees from whatever the heck she’s fleeing from.
And then there’s a bright light, and a figure, and we fade to white — and then it’s morning, and the girl is laying dead on the forest floor. Scene!
Okay, so: Scully has been at the FBI for two years, recruited out of medical school. She has heard of Fox Mulder, who is supposedly a brilliant profiler and who is sometimes referred to as ‘Spooky Mulder’. She also knows of the So-Called X-Files. She’s being put on that assignment by this honcho guy, Blevins.
And there’s a guy standing around in the background, listening to all this and smoking a cigarette. A…cigarette-smoking man. Hmm.
They meet! With a firm handshake. And he’s calling her “Scully” already. He’s read her thesis. When she walks in, he’s sorting his goddam slides. Look at all that stuff on his wall! And he’s wearing glasses.
Ooh, a slideshow!
And he calls her “Dr. Scully”, now. Is he being sarcastic? Theatrical? Just kind of rude? And look at that hair. He stole that hair right off of Conan O’Brien.
Mulder points out the pair of spots on his slides of the victim, and connects them to some previous cases…
…and asks Scully what she thinks. She brainstorms a few possible explanations, and then asks:
Do you have a theory?
I have plenty of theories.
In my pants!
And so the whole show is defined.
A visit to Oregon
And then they fly to Oregon. Because that’s what the FBI does.
We note that Scully is wearing reading glasses. Does she suffer from hyperopia? Or does she just wear them to look smart? Her hair is worn straight and pretty much unstyled. She wears a little silver cross hanging around her neck — a religious type? Her blouse is chastely buttoned to the very top. And, notably, she can read on planes without vomiting.
Suddenly the plane goes a little crazy — serious turbulence and some sudden drop in altitude, cabin shaking, etc.
Everybody looks like they’re a little worried they might die, including Scully — but Mulder is unperturbed, napping across three seats. Flies a lot? Doesn’t value his life? Anyway, like a weirdo he grins and suggests that this must be the place.
Since they didn’t crash and die, the agents get a car and head to the scene.
Is he chewing his fingernails? No, it appears that Agent Mulder is chewing on some sunflower seeds. Just driving along and chatting with Scully and chewin’ up the seeds. Question: does he just really, really like sunflower seeds? Does he eat them when he’s nervous? Bored? It seems like the sort of thing you might see from an ex-smoker, too. Oral fixation?
Suddenly, the car’s electronics go nuts. Mulder stops, gets out, goes to the trunk, pulls out a can of spraypaint, and draws an X on the road. Not a word of explanation. I think at this point Scully would have every right to wonder what the hell all that was about.
What the hell was that about?
At the cemetary
Mulder and Scully meet a local police detective at the graveyard, for…the digging up of a previous victim’s body.
Autopsy! And autopsy hair: just a ponytail, straight back. And she’s wearing the glasses again. So I guess they’re reading/scalpeling glasses? I guess you’d usually wear goggles or something during an autopsy?
Upon examining the corpse, Scully says it’s not human. Mulder looks pleased with that conclusion. Scully speculates that it is a chimpanzee or something from the ape family.
Possibly an orangutan.
Unspoken: NOT A DAMN ALIEN.
Later, Mulder knocks on Scully’s motel room door, stealthily mis-identifying himself as Steven Spielberg. This does not appear to fool Scully. She answers the door to find…this:
Visiting with damaged children
Mulder and Scully meet Billy Miles and Peggy O’Dell, two of the kids of the unlucky high school graduating class of 1989. Peggy is in a wheelchair, reading quietly to Billy, who is just sort of laying in bed and drooling. Peggy tells Mulder that Billy likes it when she reads to him — telepathy? Or just optimism?
But then Mulder’s all “can we do an exam” on her and suddenly Peggy’s totally freakin’ out, but Billy is in a Waking Coma so that’s all good. And then: she gets a random nosebleed!
Our agents leave the hospital and have a nice argument in the parking lot. Mulder continues to insinuate alien abduction as a factor in what’s happened to these kids.
But to say that they’ve been riding around in flying saucers — Mulder, it’s crazy, there’s nothing to support that.
Nothing scientific, you mean.
Well, that’s pretty much what she’s getting at, yeah.
Later that night, in the woods…
They’re tromping around in the forest at night with flashlights. We see that Mulder’s compass is wildly, hopelessly gesticulating. The thing is not working right. Just flipping out like crazy. Hmm! And Scully finds some weird ashy powdery dirt stuff on the ground, near where the dead girl’s body was found.
Ooh! Creepy lights! And noise! Creepy unexplained noisy lights!
Scully pulls her gun out. To shoot at the creepy lights, presumably. Ooh, and Mulder’s got his gun now too. They’re pointing them at a humanoid figure. At first, it’s not clear who or what it is, but it turns out to be…the detective! NOT ALIENS. The detective guy from the graveyard. He has a shotgun too, but displays admirable restraint in not pointing it at them. He tells them to shoo, and they do.
Driving down the road and — oh crap, bright light, Mulder and Scully cover their eyes! Fade to white! And the car’s engine dies and it rolls to a stop — at the spot where Mulder spraypainted that big X before. He checks his watch: 9 minutes just went missing! Mulder is…really happy about this.
We lost what?
Back at the motel
We get a nice Doogie Howser extreme closeup of Scully’s report on the situation:
[typing] Agent Mulder’s insistence of time loss, due to unknown forces’, cannot be validated or substantiated by this witness
Wait, forces’? Lady, that’s a plural, not a possessive. You put that apostrophe away.
The power goes out. Okay, it’s clearly time for a candlelit shower scene. Conveniently, this motel in Oregon provides fancy emergency candles.
Cheesecake: Scully in a bra! And undies! And she’s going to take the undies off, but, wait, something’s wrong! Something on her back?
So she slaps on a bathrobe and knocks on Mulder’s door to have him look at whatever the something is. He has a candle too! Convenient.
[Disrobes, turns away from Mulder]
What are they?
[Stares at Scully's butt]
Mulder, what are they?
So not the same weird pair of dots as on the dead girl. Whew! And the she hugs him! Man, I bet they’ll be sleeping together inside of a week, eh?
Mulder pours out his heart: he has a sister, named Samantha. When they were kids (he was 12, she was 8) she disappeared. He feels strongly that she was, in fact, abducted!
More on Mulder: He went to school in England! Natural aptitude for applying behavioral models to criminal cases!
Cut to: some dude in the parking lot wearing a rain slicker. Skulking around.
Anyway, back to Mulder’s story. Found the X-Files, leveraged early success at the Bureau to make it his main project. Was fascinated by the case files, read them all. There’s information that the government has, vague, vague information that he vaguely needs. He’s being vaguely stymied by someone at a higher level of power. Mulder has vague friends in congress!
(Fun fact: in reality, the FBI does maintain some ‘unexplainable files’ — not so much unsolved cases as just every letter from a nutso crazy person they get — known as The Zero Files.)
Mulder mentions Dr, uh, Hertzverber? and…DEEP. REGRESSION. HYPNOSIS. Hell yes.
Mulder is pretty excitable when he’s remembering his sister’s abduction. And then a phone rings!
(Scully flinches visibly at this point. And, I mean, okay, Mulder’s telling a pretty spooky story and it’s a dark motel room and all, but still: she’s someone paid to carry and sometimes point and occasionally even intentionally fire a gun. She seems a little jumpy.)
[Into phone] Hello? What? Who is this? Who is th–
That was some woman. Just said Peggy O’Dell was dead.
Cut to the road side, where a cop is dramatically lighting a road flare in closeup. Then he walks over to the already well-delineated crime scene.
So Peggy — Wheelchair Peggy, remember — reportedly strolled out into the road and got hit by a car. As the agents are struggling to wrap their minds around this, Mulder’s cellphone rings. Shocking news: somebody stole the corpse from the autopsy bay!
And THEIR MOTEL IS ON FIRE. X-rays, pictures gone! (Possibly a coverup by Scully herself, desperately ashamed of that “forces’” typo?) And some whiny girl, a Teresa Nemeth (class of ’89) wants their help! They hit a diner, where she tells them she wakes up in the woods sometimes, and she’s worried that she’s going be next. Has sort of a Shatner delivery going on: “I’m SCARED I might. DIE.”
Then her dad shows up. And now TERESA gets a random nosebleed! These kids sure have nose problems.
And oh hey, the detective guy? Detective MILES. As in BILLY Miles. WAKING COMA Miles.
Mulder and Scully want to exhume a couple more graves…but someone else already has! The graves are open and empty! Mulder fingers Billy!
Mulder ACCUSES Billy. Scully is skeptical and points out that the kid is a vegetable. Mulder lays out his take on what happened.
Scully giggles in Mulder’s face during this whole “Peggy/Billy/abduction” spiel. Mulder is unperturbed by this. Runs with it. You get the feeling he’s kind of used that by now. Okay, and now Scully just pretty much laughs maniacally. Disbelief at Mulder’s theory? Disbelief at her own creeping acceptance of the idea? A little of column A, a little of column B?
In the hospital, Scully discovers that Billy Miles has…DIRTY FEET.
Nurse, on watching the comatose patients: “That’s not my aisle of the produce section.”
[eyes go BWAHHHH?]
So, okay: Billy Miles has dirty feet, covered in the same weird substance Scully found in the woods. And Scully gets all excited about this. It’s compelling. Coma boy got up on his own two feet and murdered Wheelchair Peggy in the woods, or something like that! Credulity from the scientist. And then MULDER TALKS HER DOWN. Like, hey, you have to put this in a report, remember? And she’s all, oh. Yeah.
He likes her enough to protect her from a thrashing and a quick reassignment by Blevins, I guess. Better the friendly spy you know than whoever they send down next? We don’t know anything about this guy’s private life yet, of course; he could just be pretty lonely and like having a partner all of a sudden.
Back to the scene of the [first] crime
Injury! Somebody out-of-frame clocks Scully in the woods!
It’s that darn Detective Miles again. And then he just runs off! There’s some really great music here too. Like a piano going dookita-DOOKITA dookita-DOOKITA. About three seconds of it. Over and over. Okay, maybe it’s not so great.
So bright light, and then Billy is all not-comatose, and Teresa (who is with him) is all not-dead, and Billy’s WEIRD MYSTERY SPOTS ARE GONE. Mulder is as shocked as we are.
Scully, in the mean time? Totally missed it.
Mulder, what happened? There was a light…
It was incredible…
So were you.
And now, Billy Miles undergoes DEEP. REGRESSION. HYPNOSIS. And it’s with Doctor Hertzberger!
Billy describes implants, describes undergoing tests…
Apparel: Scully is wearing a purse.
Wrapup: cigarette-smoking man deposits a mysterious metal nose implant recovered during the autopsy — THE ONLY REMAINING EVIDENCE NOT DESTROYED BY THE MOTEL FIRE — in a secret facility. IN THE PENTAGON OMG.