CTP Episode of the Day - 12.21.06 - Beyond the Sea

Today's Cherished Episode: Beyond the Sea (1x12)
Original Air Date: January 7, 1994
Written By: Glen Morgan and James Wong
Directed By: David Nutter

Scully and Mulder seek the aid of a death-row inmate, Luther Lee Boggs, who claims to have psychic abilities, to help them stop a killer who's on the loose.

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"You set us up. You’re in on this with Lucas Henry. This was a trap for Mulder because he helped put you away. Well, I came here to tell you that if he dies because of what you’ve done, four days from now, no one will be able to stop me from being the one that will throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good, you son of a bitch!"

Some "Beyond the Sea" Tidbits & Musings:

Title: The title of the episode refers to the song "Beyond the Sea" which is adapted from the French song "La Mer" by Charles Trenet. The version that is heard in this episode is sung by Bobby Darin and is probably the best known version of the song.

-- Morgan and Wong chose the song as a focal point of the episode, and eventually the episode's title, because Glen's parents were big Bobby Darin fans and he knew they would like it if they heard one of Darin's songs in his episode. Glen Morgan's brother Darin is named after Bobby Darin.

-- "Beyond the Sea" was the fourth episode of the first season written by Morgan and Wong, and was their favorite. "What typified our episodes," quipped Glen Morgan, "was that they were gorier." But Morgan also saw another side to their writing. "Jim and I were more character-oriented," he said. "Maybe Chris Carter would have had a more epic show with spaceships and fire, but we focused on people." They felt that "Beyond the Sea" was an excellent example of how to mix character development with an absorbing storyline.

-- Hard to believe now, but "Beyond the Sea" had a tough time getting network approval. "They nixed it twice until Chris marched into the office and said, 'We're doing it,'" Morgan recalled. (The network didn't like the showdown between Scully and Boggs.) Just before writing the episode, he had read a book with some startling statistics about the number of women who see the spirits of husbands and sons soon after their deaths, and that served as the inspiration for the episode's story.

-- Around that same time, several fans had written internet messages criticizing Scully's character; and Morgan and Wong decided the fans had a point. "We thought Gillian Anderson needed to show off her talents more," Wong said. "And this was a perfect opportunity to dispel those notions that Scully would never believe. It was time for the character to grow, because she was just doing the same kind of thing too often." The result was a story where Anderson could finally let out all the stops, and bring some humanity to Scully.

-- Morgan and Wong believed the best way to achieve this goal was to tie the episode's X-File case to her in a personal way, by introducing her parents, having her father die before the teaser ended, and then linking her need to speak once more with her father to a psychic prisoner on death row.

-- Morgan recalled that, "In the pilot, Scully mentioned that her parents didn't want her to become an FBI agent. We found that interesting. So many people want their own lives, and yet need their parents to accept that life, and we thought it seemed to be a common phenomenon around us. So we put it into the story and hoped it would connect with people. And we thought maybe Scully's parents lived in Washington. And if they lived in Washington, what could her father do? It was kind of obvious to us he was in the government and we put him in the military. Then we thought, 'OK, he has to be a higher rank, a Navy captain's kind of neat.' And we just worked backwards from that."

-- Director David Nutter cast Don Davis, a veteran of Twin Peaks, as William Scully and Sheila Larken as Margaret Scully. "Scully needed to have a father and mother both of whom had very strong qualities and charisma and three dimensions," Nutter said. "I felt that Don and Sheila would bring all that to the roles."

-- Don Davis, who has a Ph.D. in theater, moved to Canada in 1981 to teach in the theater department of the University of British Columbia. He started doing extra work during the summers, and eventually found himself doubling for Dana Elcar in MacGyver. He won a leading guest role in that show, with more series work to follow, and was able to give up teaching for full-time acting. Nutter had worked with Davis previously on several shows, including Broken Badges and called him personally to ask him if he would accept the role of William Scully, despite its brevity.

-- Davis thought the character of William Scully was similar to his role of Major Briggs on Twin Peaks. "William was a military man who, although he loved his child deeply, was unable to verbalize that love until it was too late," Davis said. "It was very much along the line of the Major Briggs character, that this was a guy who was at the top of his field and the way he showed his love to his family was to give his children an example to follow and to provide them with great security. That's kind of where I started off with the character."

-- Davis said producers told him that when you died on The X-Files it didn't necessarily mean the end; and true to form, he found himself back again for "One Breath" to deliver to the comatose Scully the paternal message she had longed for in "Beyond the Sea." Davis said that "One Breath" director Bob Goodwin's concern was that his monologue would not "become maudlin. He wanted me to be on the verge of being overcome, but he didn't want it to happen. He wanted the character to be strong, to be very much the man that had fathered Dana. So what I tried to do was to show a man holding himself in, a man who was filled with emotion but who, as a military man, controlled the emotion. We did a few takes and each time Bob was bringing me down."

-- In between "Beyond the Sea" and "One Breath," Davis made an uncredited, offscreen appearance as a dialogue coach for "Miracle Man." As a native of the Ozark Mountains region, and a former theater professor, he lent his expertise to the guest cast to help them properly pronounce Southern accents.

-- Davis would later re-team with MacGyver star Richard Dean Anderson on the incredibly successful Stargate SG-1 in which he appears as Major General/Lieutenant General George Hammond.

-- Scully's mother Margaret was portrayed by actress Sheila Larken, and in the X-Files world, where almost everyone had a hidden agenda, Larken's maternal warmth and sincerity was a bright spot within all the bleakness. David Nutter had met Larken when he auditioned her for his 1985 film Cease Fire, and although he didn't cast her, she made an impression on the director. Larken's husband, X-Files co-executive producer Bob Goodwin, mentioned her at one point to Nutter, and Nutter immediately thought of her for Margaret. "She was perfect. She was the one, and I hired her."

-- Larken was reluctant to take on the role of Margaret Scully. The New York native had left acting several years before and had obtained a master's degree in clinical social work. But after moving to Washington State with her husband, she found herself busy with acting offers. Her hesitation to take on the role of Margaret stemmed, she said, from her own father's death the year before from a heart attack.

-- "It wasn't something I really wanted to do or pull up," she said. "But I did it anyway. I never thought the part would repeat. My interpretation when I did that scene at the funeral was of a woman so involved with her own pain, she couldn't even react to what her daughter was asking her. And they allowed that, even though the daughter was the lead in the show."

-- Larken saw Margaret as "a military wife, married before I graduated college, someone who never got to finish her college degree or find a career for herself, but mainly got enmeshed in her family. You know, the Everymother. Part of her emergence in becoming self-sufficient was during the course of this show with Dana. I think Margaret was ever evolving."

-- Larken's favorite scene came in "Ascension," when Margaret and Mulder met at a park and talked about the missing Scully. "You explore a scene and try to find what you're thinking, and what you're not thinking, and that one just jelled together. There were just so many little itsy-bitsy things that came together and they came together on camera."

-- She found working with Anderson and Duchovny to be a particular treat. "Their depth is multi-layered. A lot of times you work with actors, and when you look into their eyes, they're a blank. You're working alone. But when you get to work with Gillian and David, whatever you send it is received and vice versa."

-- Larken said that as Margaret she usually did not draw on her own experience as a mother, because "it was almost too vulnerable to let in." She did admit to an exception: "There was one scene where being a parent did work. In 'One Breath' where Margaret said to pull the plug on her daughter, Mulder doesn't want her to do it. He moved away on me, and I called him by his first name. I just went, 'Fox!' I could hear that 'mother' voice. And David stopped cold, he stopped in his tracks. It was like the voice of every mother; in that sense, the mother did come through."

-- In the scene where Captain Scully appeared in Scully's apartment, silently mouthing words, Don Davis was actually reciting the Lord's Prayer.

-- This episode marked the first Moby Dick reference between Scully and her father. Ahab and Starbuck were two fictional characters in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick that was published in 1851. The book follows the adventures of the crew of the Peqoud on a whaling expedition. Ahab is the captain of the ship and Starbuck is the First Mate.

-- The two names of the serial killers, Luther Lee Boggs and Lucas Henry, bring to mind that of real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.

-- In the office at the beginning of the episode, Max Fenig's NICAP hat can be seen hanging on the coat rack.

-- This was the first episode that made reference to Mulder's pornography obsession.

--The episode marked the first of only a handful of times that Mulder called Scully "Dana."

-- The scene at William Scully's funeral is described as follows in the original script: "Scully and her family stand overlooking the ocean. Her two brothers, 25 and 32, and their families shed tears. Scully, sad but dry-eyed, is near her mother."

-- The article about the gas chamber being readied was written by "G. Morgan."

-- The tattoos on Boggs' hands reading "KISS" and "KILL" came from a song by the band "X" which included the lyric "It's kiss or kill." "X" was a favorite band of Chris Carter; the band had a song on the Fight the Future soundtrack, "The Crystal Ship."

-- The episode marked the first time either Mulder or Scully was shot.

-- The original script featured this direction when Mulder was brought into the E.R.: "The Emergency Medical Team work rapidly around him. This should be terrifying and intense and real." In the script, Mulder started to vomit, and the direction said, "Scully is pale, watching, as a doctor, she understands what is going on. As a friend, she feels helpless."

-- Scully's line of dialogue during her classic confrontation with Boggs (featured at the top) is slightly different in the script and the difference is worth noting, I think: "... I came here to let you know that if I lose him too because of what you've done ..." ::: shipper sigh :::

-- There was also a slight but notable difference in the original script in the beginning of the scene where Scully visited Mulder in the hospital. It's written like this in the script: Cut to -- Interior, Hospital Room, Day, Close, Two Hands -- one with an I.V. is being comforted by another. Pulling back reveals Scully standing over Mulder as he lies in the hospital bed. SCULLY: Mulder, I was so scared. Mulder, wearing a nasal cannula, is pale, perspiring, and tired. MULDER: So was I. There is an awkward moment between the two friends who do not often display their emotions to, or toward, one another. She takes her hand away and pulls up a chair." ::: another shipper sigh :::

-- Oopsie: Scully shot Lucas Henry in the left shoulder. However, a few moments later he was running and holding his right shoulder.

-- James Wong and Glen Morgan won a Digital Hollywood Award for "Best Writing" for this episode; and James Coblentz won a Monitor Award for "best editing" for this episode.

-- Brad Dourif (Luther Lee Boggs) was asked to do this part with only four days of preparation. He originally refused the part, but Morgan and Wong wanted him so badly that they gave him an extra week to prepare. Apparently while getting into character between takes, he would do deep breathing exercises that caused his face to turn bright purple, freaking out Gillian Anderson just a tad.

-- Brad Dourif was born in 1950 in Huntington, West Virginia, where his father owned and operated a dye factory. His father died when Dourif was 3 years old, after which his mother married Bill Campbell, a champion golfer, who helped raise Brad, his brother, and his four sisters. Dourif attended Aiken Preparatory School in Aiken, South Carolina, where he pursued his interests in art and acting. Although he briefly considered becoming a professional artist, he finally settled on acting as a profession, inspired by his mother's participation as an actress in community theater.

-- Dourif joined the Huntington Community Players while attending Marshall University. At age 19, he quit college and headed to New York City, where he worked with the Circle Repertory Company. Dourif made his first big-screen appearance in a bit part in W. W. and the Dixie Dancekings in 1975, but his big break came in a film released later that year: Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. For his portrayal of the vulnerable Billy Bibbit, he earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Acting Debut, a British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actor, and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

-- Skeptical of his instant stardom, Dourif returned to New York, where he continued in theater and taught acting and directing classes at Columbia University until he moved to Hollywood. Despite his attempts to avoid typecasting, he seemed destined to play demented, deranged, or disturbed characters starting in The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978). Dourif teamed up with director David Lynch for Dune and Blue Velvet; and his high strung style served him well in a number of horror films, notably as the voice of the evil doll Chucky in Child's Play and its sequels. Dourif's recent film work includes the role of Frima Wormtongue in the Lord of the Rings trilogy; and his recent television work includes the role of Doc Cochran on HBO's Deadwood.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Don S. Davis (William Scully) played the same role in "One Breath." Sheila Larken first played Margaret Scully in this episode and reprised the role 14 times. Fred Henderson (Agent Thomas) was Agent Rich in "Duane Barry." Don MacKay (Warden Joseph Cash) was Charlie in "The Host," Oates in "The List," and The Judge in "Pusher."

-- As an example of the impact that this episode had, mid-way through Season 2 David Duchovny called the episode "One Breath" "my 'Beyond the Sea,' because it was the one that gave me the most character development to work with."

-- As he was preparing to write his second X-Files episode ("Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose") Darin Morgan said, "I felt I had done 'Humbug' wrong, so I watched 'Beyond the Sea' again to see what the show was really about." "Beyond the Sea" was Darin Morgan's favorite X-Files episode.

-- Even after nine years and 200+ hours of television, Gillian Anderson and Chris Carter also count "Beyond the Sea" among their favorite X-Files episodes.

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(Thanks to chrisnu for today's pics.)

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

And that finishes all our episodes from Season 1!

Polly

Just a note: I've got some things to do on Thursday evening, so Friday's CTP Ep of the Day won't be posted until Friday night or Saturday morning.