CTP Episode of the Day - 05.16.06

Today's Cherished Episode: All Souls (5x17)
Original Air Date: April 26, 1998
Teleplay By: Frank Spotnitz and John Shiban
Story By: Billy Brown and Dan Angel
Directed By: Allen Coulter

Scully and her Catholic faith must confront the loss of her daughter Emily when she is asked to help a family whose adopted daughter was found dead in a position that looked like she was struck down by God himself.

(Thanks to chrisnu for today's episode pics.)

"You know they say when you talk to God itís prayer, but when God talks to you, itís schizophrenia."

Some "All Souls" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The All Souls' Day holiday has its roots in the ancient "Pagan Festival of the Dead," which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family. Candles would be placed in the windows to help the dead find their way home, and an extra place would be set at the table for them. The act of trick or treating on Halloween can be traced back to the early celebration of "All Souls Day" in Britain. On this day, the poor would go begging and the housewives would give them special treats called "soulcakes" in exchange for a promise to say a prayer for the dead.

-- In the Roman Catholic calendar, All Souls Day falls on November 2 and the Roman Catholic church sets aside All Souls' Day to remember members of the faith who have died, especially those believed to be suffering in purgatory. Through prayers, masses, and almsgiving, the living pay tribute to the dead and hope to help them enter into heaven. All Saints' Day, which honors saints and martyrs, had been celebrated on November 1 since at least the 9th century, so the following day was chosen to remember those whose souls need assistance in becoming worthy of heaven.

-- In its initial stages, "All Souls" was considerably different than the tale that viewers finally saw. Originally, it was the brainchild of Billy Brown and Dan Angel, two story editors who left The X-Files around Christmas 1997. They had a story about Mulder and Scully and angels, but it never quite worked out the way it was originally conceived, so John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz were given the task of rewriting it. They decided to bring Emily into the mix, and made "All Souls" the unofficial third part of the "Christmas Carol/Emily" two-parter.

-- The writing team refocused the episode around Scully and her relationship with her dead child. In pulling Scully, much against her will, into the spiritual and supernatural aspects of the story -- and at the same time making Mulder the unconvincible skeptic -- they underlined the Mulder-Scully crisscross that had been a major theme of the entire fifth season.

-- When the writers viewed the initial edit of the episode, they decided there were aspects of Scully's journey that were not coming through. To remedy that, Shiban and Spotnitz wrote a new scene to place Scully in a church confessional, then interpolated her anguished dialogue with the action of the story. Screen time for this additional footage -- seven script pages worth -- had to be carved out, scene by scene and line by line, from the rest of the episode.

-- The newly written part of Scully's Father Confessor was given to -- or claimed by -- Vancouver-based producer John Patrick (J.P.) Finn, who offered to smooth the reentry of the film crew into his parish church -- where the new scenes were shot -- in exchange for the part. (He previously played a Chaplain in the Season 3 episode "The List.") Due to scheduling conflicts, Finn never once actually performed in the scene with Gillian Anderson.

-- After principal photography was wrapped, Gillian Anderson was told that they needed to shoot a new scene for "All Souls." Shooting had to be carved out of production time for a succeeding episode; so Anderson was told when the shoot would take place and was given 2Ĺ script pages. At 10 p.m. the night before the shoot was to take place, she was given a revised script for the scene that was now 5Ĺ pages long and was told she should still be prepared to shoot the scene the next morning. Though she had never done it before, Anderson called TPTB and told them she could not shoot the scene the next morning as she couldn't possibly be prepared. They accommodated her and pushed the filming back another day.

-- The location for "St. John's Church" was a real church, St. Augustine's in Vancouver, but Father McCue's study, complete with stained glass window, was designed by production designer Graeme Murray and art director Gary Allen. Father McCue's book containing the story of the Nephilim was designed and drawn by assistant art director Vivien Nishi, with the guidance of Frank Spotnitz.

-- The four faces Scully sees on the "seraphim" are animals associated with the four evangelist apostles: Matthew (Winged Man), Mark (Lion), Luke (Bull) and John (Eagle). These animals are used in Christian art to symbolize these saints.

-- The special effects of the four-headed angel were extremely difficult and weren't finished until literally hours before airtime.

-- The seraphim is played by co-executive producer R. W. Goodwin's assistant, Tracy Elofson.

-- Mulder refers to a crucifix hanging in what is usually considered an inverted position as being a "protest, a sacrilege against the Church". In Roman Catholic symbolism, an "inverted" cross is known as the Cross of Saint Peter. Later in the episode he gives the correct interpretation referring to a legend that when Peter was martyred, he asked to be crucified head down because he was unworthy to die in the same manner as Christ.

-- Actor Glenn Morshower who plays Aaron Starkey, the devil masquerading as a Social Services employee, is now better known as another "Aaron." He currently as the recurring role of Agent Aaron Pierce on "24."

-- Lauren Diewold reprised her role as Scully's daughter, Emily Sim ("Christmas Carol/Emily"). Arnie Walters also reprised his role as Father McCue ("Gethsemene/Redux II").

-- "All Souls" shows us that Scully really does use her Apollo 11 keychain.

-- I'm always struck by the similarities between Scully seeing the Seraphim in this episode and Mulder seeing the alien in "Little Green Men." Their body positions are the same, the looks on their faces are the same, the bright light is the same, both are pretty sure of what they saw but may have seen nothing. Whether this was intentional or not, I think it was a great juxtaposition -- each seeing what their faith commands them to see.

-- The first time I saw "All Souls," I remember quite distinctly that I didn't like it. Too much religious imagery and not enough Mulder. But I've see it many times since, and each time I have a new appreciation for it. GA gives a fine performance, the struggle with one's beliefs, wondering why God does let bad things happen to good people. That's one thing that I have found in re-watching these older episodes: most are so multilayered and multifaceted that you can watch them again and again and still find something new in each viewing.

-- "All Souls" was the lowest rated episode of Season 5.

Please share your first impressions, favorite (or cringe-worthy!) moments, classic lines, favorite fanfic, nagging questions, repeated viewing observations, etc., as today we celebrate "All Souls"!