CTP Episode of the Day - 07.26.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Anasazi (2x25)
Original Air Date: May 19, 1995
Written By: Chris Carter
Story By: David Duchovny and Chris Carter
Directed By: R. W. Goodwin

Mulder and Scully's lives are jeopardized when an amateur computer hacker gains access to secret government files providing evidence of UFOs.

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MULDER: You've taken a big risk.
SCULLY: I was certain they would have killed you, Mulder.
MULDER: Thank you. Thank you for taking care of me. SCULLY: There's something else. My name is in those files. It appears in the latest entries with Duane Barry's.
MULDER: In what context?
SCULLY: It's not clear, but it has something to do with a test. I want you to find out, Mulder. I need you to.

Some "Anasazi" Tidbits and Musings:

-- The episode was named for the Anasazi Indian tribe, who were ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians now living in New Mexico and Arizona. They settled and farmed in the Four Corners region between about AD1 and AD1300, producing fine baskets, pottery, cloth, ornaments, and tools. The Anasazi are the most romanticized and the most studied of the prehistoric Southwestern cultures. The Anasazi lived high on the mesas and in the canyons of the Southwest. Most settlements were built in caves and on ledges of the walls of the narrow canyons.

-- The name "Anasazi" is Navajo for "ancient ones" or "ancient enemies" -- which could loosely be interpreted as "aliens," in the sense of "not-like-us", but not in the X-Files sense. As to Albert Hosteen's assertion that "No evidence of their fate exists," that's not completely true. The Anasazi culture began to decline around 1300 AD and by 1600 all of the villages had been abandoned. What has drawn so much attention to their departure is the fact that they left all of their belongings in the villages, taking nothing with them. There are several theories as to why the Anasazi left their homes (alien abduction aside). Some speculate that the Anasazi left because of a severe drought which destroyed their crops and caused all of the animals to migrate, and they simply left their belongings because they were too burdensome to carry. Others believe that invaders attacked the Anasazi and they left with no time to bring their things. Still others attribute the fall of the Anasazi to depleted resources, population increases, or breakdowns in social structure. Although there is no evidence as to why they abandoned their homes, the Anasazi did not simply disappear, or vanish without a trace, as many people believe. Their descendents live today and have since formed 18 tribes throughout the Southwest.

-- The Anasazi's modern descendents, the Hopis (who are Pueblo Indians), have a different name for the Anasazi. They call them "ancestral Puebloans."

-- The tagline for the Season 2 finale is "EL 'AANIGOO 'AHOOT'E", which is Navajo for "The Truth is Far From Here." ("Anasazi" is included on the first special Mythology set (titled "Abduction") that was released last year, and Director Bob Goodwin recorded a new commentary for the episode. Most of his remarks about this episode included here are taken from that commentary. When the tagline came up in that version, Goodwin said, "I don't remember what that means. It's Navajo, I know that.")

-- Chris Carter said that he felt the Season 1 cliffhanger was "pretty good" and that his goal for the end of Season 2 was to not only live up to that "very short tradition" but to far surpass it. He felt they did it with "Anasazi."

-- Chris Carter said that the southwestern United States was about the only area that couldn't easily be duplicated in and around Vancouver. So to create the Southwestern setting, the producers found an abandoned rock quarry and painted it with 1,600 gallons of red paint. About a week after filming on the episode ended, Bob Goodwin took a second unit crew to Sedona, Arizona, to shoot footage that would be used in composite shots to essentially re-create arid New Mexico within an hour's drive of lush Vancouver.

-- The art department created all the alien bodies used in the episode. Bob Goodwin said, "I can't tell you how many of those things I have in my closet."

-- The Thinker, unlike Mulder and Scully, uses a Macintosh computer. Throughout most of the series up to this time, Mulder and Scully used IBM clones in their offices. In the field, Scully used a Mac Powerbook 540C. In fact, she was using one before they were in general release. At one point, the Powerbook in the offices of Ten Thirteen in Canada was the only one in that country.

-- This is the first time we see "The Thinker" (the fourth Lone Gunmen) although he was referred to in "One Breath." The character of "The Thinker" was based on an AOL fan who went by the name DuhThinker who had a vast knowledge of things related to the show.

-- The Thinker is reading the "50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time" while his computer is trying to log in passcodes.

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-- The Majestic 12 documents are almost as famous among UFO buffs as the Roswell incident. Supposedly documenting the existence of a secret organization dedicated to the concealment of extraterrestrial contacts, they purport to have been compiled for Harry Truman soon after the Roswell crash. Arguments rage about their provenance and authenticity, but perhaps the most telling link to "Anasazi" is the international character of the alleged conspirators.

-- The Season 2 DVDs include a deleted scene from the episode showing The Thinker being apprehended by some men in black.

-- When word spreads to the U.N. about the hacking of the MJ documents, the Italian official is played by a man named Humberto who has a chain of restaurants in Vancouver and a cooking school in Italy.

-- In the scene where one of Mulder's neighbors shoots her husband, in his commentary Bob Goodwin says, "Watch David. Watch how good he is. The subtlety that he plays." Goodwin comments several times how good both lead actors are in this episode, and notes that one could really see the growth of Gillian Anderson as an actress at this point in the series.

-- On his DVD commentary, Bob Goodwin mentions just before Mulder meets The Thinker in the Botanical Gardens, there was an "incredibly wonderful scene in the garden where Mulder goes to a very handsome gardener who is cleaning up for the night and asks directions." Goodwin noted that the show ran long so "they cut me out of the picture .... because I was that gardener."

-- In the shots of the encrypted MJ Documents on Mulder's computer, you can clearly make out the line "do-ray-me-faso-la-todo" (five lines under the Department of Defense heading).

-- Mulder commits his first act of trash can abuse in this episode after he views the encrypted tape, though we only "hear" the assault. He does a much better job of trash can annihilation in "Bad Blood."

-- In his commentary, Bob Goodwin comments on the very "un-Mulderish behavior" in this episode, noting that Mulder is always a "very cool customer." When Scully asks Mulder if he's okay, Goodwin remarks, "Good old Scully. She spots it immediately."

-- The fight between Mulder and Skinner was a "lot of fun to stage and to shoot," Goodwin said. Mitch Pileggi and David Duchovny did all their own work and everything was done without the use of stuntmen. Mitch's glasses flying off during the course of the scene wasn't supposed to happen, but they left it in anyway.

-- Goodwin said that the group of actors gathered together to question Scully were often referred to as the "FBI elders" because they were used numerous times on the show before and after this episode.

-- One of the non-regulars in this scene was Chris Carter who made a cameo appearance (and his acting debut) as one of Scully's interrogators in Skinner's office. Goodwin said that "Here was the man that I'd been working with since the beginning, someone I'd known for years and years, and all of a sudden I was directing his acting debut." Goodwin said that Carter did a "good job" and joked, "I guess the part that Chris played was pivotal and couldn't but cut like the gardener was cut in the first scene."

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-- Oopsie! As Scully stands up to leave at the Offices of the Navajo Nation, the reflection of a boom mike moving in one of the picture frames on the wall can be seen.

-- Skinner's assistant in this episode was played by a casting assistant who was with the show for the first few years.

-- Veteran actor Peter Donat, who played Mulder's father, was the son of Robert Donat, who starred in such classic films as Goodbye, Mr. Chips and The 39 Steps. Just prior to arriving to shoot "Anasazi," Donat had been in a terrible car accident in California. Goodwin noted that he was a real trooper because he was in a great deal of pain throughout the shoot, and added that it was a credit to the make-up department because his face was very badly bruised in the accident.

-- In his commentary, Goodwin remarked how much he liked the scene between CSM and Mulder's father, because even though the two actors had only just met before the scene was shot, you got the feeling that there was a real history between them. He credited the two veteran actors for creating a scene where you could read between the lines because of their performances.

-- There's a cute moment on Goodwin's DVD commentary as he's talking about what's about to happen to Mulder's father in the episode. When Krycek appears in the bathroom mirror, he says very enthusiastically "Ratboy!!"

-- My fondest recollection of this episode on its original airing was this moment -- when Mr. Mulder goes into the bathroom, we see his reflection in the mirror, he opens the medicine cabinet, closes it, and there's Krycek's reflection. These were the days (for me, at least) of no internet and no spoilers, and I quite literally fell off my couch when I saw Krycek in the mirror. I still remember the shock to this day. Spoilers were fun, but there was nothing like back in the day when the series could still shock and surprise you. Chris Carter was often quoted as saying "anything could happen" on the XF, and killing off important characters certainly drove that point home.

-- On his DVD commentary, Bob Goodwin notes, "I killed off more series regulars on the XF than anyone else, I think."

-- In retrospect, it's interesting that when Mulder calls Scully about his father's death, he says, "He was trying to tell me something," the exact same phrase he uses about his mother in "Sein Und Zeit" after listening to her answering machine message.

-- Scully strips Mulder down to his unmentionables but doesn't remove his watch? I guess in addition to everything else, she didn't want to risk him suffering any "missing time." < g >

-- In his DVD commentary, Goodwin notes that the scene where Scully brings Mulder to her bed and undresses him was "a little provocative," though we didn't see any of the actual undressing. Interestingly, Goodwin notes what a good job Chris Carter and the other writers did in putting Mulder and Scully in these situations which provided different layers to their relationship -- in scenes like this as well as antagonistic scenes like the ones earlier in the episode. He said that doing this allowed viewers to wonder, "who knows what could happen between the two of them?"

-- Goodwin said that David Duchovny had a little fun while they were shooting the scene where Mulder wakes up in Scully's bed. On the first take, Duchovny was under the covers and when he pushed them back he was wearing "some silly thing" that looked like a loincloth. If you've seen the Season 2 gag reel, you've seen David in this little outfit.

-- On the night they were supposed to shoot the fight scene between Mulder and Krycek, cast and crew were waiting for the stunt coordinator to show up, but he never did. (It turned out he had car trouble.) They got tired of waiting, so Goodwin, Duchovny, and Lea choreographed the fight scene themselves; no stuntmen were used for the scene.

-- On his commentary, Goodwin said that it's "not often that two leads in a series interact the way [Mulder and Scully] are about to interact here." And when Scully shot Mulder, Goodwin could only say, "Unbelievable." And I have to agree; it was totally unexpected and a brilliant turn in the story. Goodwin added, "I hope she was a good shot and missed all the vitals," and later he laughs at Mulder's line, "You shot me!"

-- During Mulder's soft and heartfelt "thank you for taking care of me," Goodwin remarks that the scene really "sets the mutual affection between these two characters," how easily they are able to go back to the relationship that existed before the events of this episode unfolded.

-- Chris Carter noted that all the scenes that took place in the quarry were filmed in the course of one day. Goodwin added that they usually didn't worry about the weather when filming other episodes of the series, because in Vancouver the weather was very changeable and you never knew what you were going to get, but that they needed a perfectly bright blue sky and a hot day to "sell it" as New Mexico. The weather had been terrible the entire week prior to shooting, but miraculously, the day they were scheduled to shoot at the quarry, it was a sunny and warm day, with everyone in their tee shirts. Ironically, when Goodwin went to shoot second-unit footage in Sedona, Arizona, a week after shooting on the episode wrapped, it was raining and they had to wait out the weather in Arizona.

-- Perhaps the biggest X-File in this episode -- even bigger than why Mulder doesn't get evicted from his apartment -- was how Mulder got cell phone reception not only in the middle of the dessert but in that boxcar.

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-- Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman made his first appearance as Albert Hosteen in "Anasazi." Westerman was a highly regarded Lakota (Sioux) actor, singer-songwriter, and American Indian Movement activist. He was also familiar to TV audiences for his recurring role as Uncle Ray Firewalker in Walker, Texas Ranger, George Littlefox on Dharma and Greg, and the spirit guide One Who Walks on two episodes of Northern Exposure. His many film roles include the elder/leader Ten Bears in Dances With Wolves. Bob Goodwin noted that he really enjoyed Westerman, that he was "very spiritual and very magnetic, and apparently a real hottie because there were always a lot of ladies waiting for him at the end of the day."

-- Bernie Coulson who played "The Thinker" was Brad Pitt's roommate for a time when they were both trying to make it as actors. Pitt's portrayal of Floyd in the film True Romance was partially based on Coulson.

-- Once and Future Retreads: Ken Camroux (2nd Senior Agent) does the same job again in "Herrenvolk" and also appeared in the "Pilot." Paul McLean (Agent Kautz) returns in the same role in "Zero Sum" and was also Dr. Josephs in "Shapes" and a Coast Guard officer in "Nisei." Reneat Morriseau (Josephine Doane) was Gwen Goodensnake in "Shapes." Aureleo di Nunzio (Antonio) will appear as a detective in "Synchrony." And of course, Chris Carter returns in another cameo role as part of the movie premiere audience in "Hollywood A.D."

-- Unlike most other XF episodes, the passage of time is marked every step of the way by on-screen legends in this one. As far as Mulder and Scully are concerned, the action takes place between April 11 and 16. The earthquake is April 9, 1995, the hacker gets the information on the 10th and Mulder gets the tape on the 11th. Mulder attacks Skinner on the 12th and Scully gets called before the inquiry panel on the 13th. Mulder's father is killed on the night of the 13th/14th. Mulder is shot on the evening of the 14th and wakes up in daylight in New Mexico on the 16th. Mulder disappears on the afternoon of April 16th.

-- As Bob Goodwin notes on the DVD, when this episode ends, you have every reason to believe that Mulder has been trapped in the boxcar and incinerated and that Scully may be out of a job. Since the writers and producers made it clear that "anything could happen" on the XF, it meant people would "just have to come back at the end of the summer to find out what happened." And they did!

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

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

Polly