CTP Episode of the Day - 08.18.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Daemonicus (9x03)
Original Air Date: December 2, 2001
Written By: Frank Spotnitz
Directed By: Frank Spotnitz

With Scully reassigned to the Quantico Training Academy, Doggett and Reyes investigate their first X-File together — a series of satanic ritual murders whose victims may include the agents themselves.

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"I heard you say, Agent Scully, I heard you tell a classroom full of FBI cadets -- most evil in the world comes from men."
"But I also said that once science fails, we have to consider extreme possibilities."

Some "Daemonicus" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The episode title, "Daemonicus" (adj.) means demonic, pertaining to demons, demoniacal (or Satan in Latin, as noted in the episode). According to "The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft," a person who is demonically possessed suffers from a complete takeover of his or her personality by a diabolical entity, allowing the entity to dominate; the victim becomes, even somewhat physically, that demonic being.

-- Writer/Director Frank Spotnitz knew that "Daemonicus" would be the first stand-alone episode of Season 9 and realized it would have to set up how the show was going to work through the course of the season. "In addition to the X-File, I needed to show how Doggett and Reyes would work together," Spotnitz said. "And I needed to place Scully at Quantico, her new assignment, for the first time."

-- The Mountjoy's dog is named for Gillian Anderson's dog "Happy," a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (one of the top toy breeds in England).

-- Scrabble was invented by American architect Alfred Butts. (But probably not while sitting on the flush toilet invented by Thomas Crapper.) He invented the game (first known as Lexico and then Criss-Cross Words) during the Great Depression. It was trademarked as Scrabble in 1948.

-- Tim Halligan (Darren Mountjoy) appeared in Playing by Heart with Gillian Anderson. He played the Cook Show Director.

-- There are lots of homages to Twin Peaks in this episode, including the squeaky ceiling fan, the time-lapsing clouds and sudden storms, and the chessboard.

-- According to supervising producer Paul Rabwin, the whispering sounds used in the episode were created using a combination of a Catholic mass and a Satanic mass played backward at different whisper levels. (The whispering sounds were similar to those used in Season 8's "Via Negativa," also written by Frank Spotnitz.)

-- Scully's "classroom" scene at Quantico was filmed at a lecture hall at UCLA.

-- Frank Spotnitz’s wife, Melissa, appears as one of the cadets in Scully’s Quantico class.

-- She never slayed a vampire, but she had coffee with one once. (I was just trying to be thorough.)

-- "I really wanted a character who could not just tell us again what the X-Files were after nine seasons, but tell us something about who Doggett, Reyes, and Scully were," said Frank Spotnitz. "And that lead naturally to the Kobold character who is the devil. I was looking at murderers and a famous one was Caryl Chessman. And it just clicked. I realized that it's a game -- chess board, moves and countermoves, and the whole episode is plotted that way. The chessboard floor pattern, the grids on the Scrabble board, Chessman State Mental Hospital -- all were clues that the Agents were merely pawns in the game."

-- The Mental Hospital was named for Caryl Chessman, a habitual criminal from childhood, who was also one of the cleverest of criminals. Chessman was just 27 years old when he was arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of being the notorious thief and sexual predator known as the "Red-Light Bandit." The bandit was known to approach victims in "Lover's Lane" spots and flash a red light resembling that used by police to stop motorists. He would then rob the vehicle's occupants and sometimes abduct women and force them to perform sexual acts. Condemned to death on May 18, 1948, for repeated rapes, robberies, sexual perversion, and kidnapping, Chessman used his brilliant mind to learn enough law to carry on a crusade against execution for 12 years. He was finally executed in California's gas chamber in 1960.

-- James Remar, who played Josef Kobold, played Richard Wright, one of Samantha's favorite paramours in a recurring role on Sex and the City.

-- Kobold mentions a "snake eating its own tail" or the ouroboros -- which could be a tip of the hat to Millennium or Scully's tattoo, take your pick.

-- "The Inverted Cross," a symbol also known by the name "St. Peter’s Cross", originated as a Christian symbol that represents the great humility of St. Peter. At his own request, the disciple was crucified head downward because he felt unworthy to die as Christ had died. In modern times, this symbol has been adopted by Satanists to represent their rejection of Christianity.

-- Doggett suggests to Reyes the killer might use human flesh to fertilize his garden -- an in-joke referencing the 1995 movie The Last Supper which starred Annabeth Gish, Cameron Diaz, Bill Paxton, Ron Eldard, Courtney B. Vance, Ron Perlman, Nora Dunn, and Charles Durning. In the film, five grad-school liberals share a house in Iowa and a left-wing outlook. A redneck trucker they have invited to dinner (Paxton) threatens one of them, and is accidentally killed. Rather than report the killing, the roommates decide that the redneck's death has actually left the world a better place, and bury him in the garden to fertilize the soil. (In the film, Diaz's character says, "People disappear all the time. Especially in Iowa. We probably saved him from an alien abduction.") From this logic, they devise a scheme to have a dinner party once a week and invite a conservative. If they view him as dangerous and feel they cannot change his mind by the end of the meal, they serve him poisoned wine from a blue decanter, rather than good wine from a green decanter.

-- A nod to "The Silence of the Lambs" as the insane murderer asks for better accommodations in return for his cooperation and then toys with his questioner's insecurities.

-- Scully apparently carried around a portable lab in her coat pockets in early Season 9. She told Doggett and Reyes what was in the syringes that killed Dr. Sampson while Dr. Sampson's body was being removed from the crime scene.

-- A monograph is a scholarly piece of writing of essay or book length on a specific, often limited, subject. For instance, serial killers and the occult, like the one that helped to catch Monty Props in 1988.

-- Kobold's line in the original script taunting Doggett about Mulder was "You can't compete with the long lost Agent Mulder, with his easy good looks, his dry superior humor, smug Oxford education ..." Guess they dropped the "superior humor" reference since Doggett is such a laugh riot. And a nitpick: Mulder had only been gone for two weeks which hardly seemed long enough to be considered "long lost." But on the plus side, after three episodes Mulder had already been mentioned more times in Season 9 than he was during the whole "absent center" period in Season 8.

-- IMBO, the whole "Doggett had feelings for Scully" insinuated by Kobold was pure plot device for this episode and nothing more. I believe this revelation by Kobold probably came out of left field for the average non-shipper XF viewer. Although during Season 8 the issue had been speculated about and discussed ad nauseum by those of us who spent too many waking hours dissecting every line, nuance, facial expression, and voice inflection, I always maintained that Doggett's feelings were never anything more than the protective partnerly Manly Man variety. (And let's face it -- everybody saw what they wanted to see, whether it was Mulder/Scully, Doggett/Scully, Skinner/Scully, Mulder/Skinner, etc., and that's probably much of the reason the series lasted as long as it did.)

-- Doggett seemed to have a connection - a nexus, if you will - with vomit. In Season 8 he got puked up; in Season 9 he got puked on. Lots and lots of puke.

-- "I never intended to have that many shots of Kobold throwing up," Spotnitz said, "but editor Chris Cook cut it that way. It just made me laugh because it was so completely over the top."

-- Special Makeup Effects supervisor Matthew Mungle explained that the projectile vomiting was created by pumping the goo through flat tubes under the special makeup appliance. The actor had to have his mouth open the entire time the scene was being filmed because the tubes and appliance made it impossible for him to close it. "It was very hard, very difficult for the actor," Mungle said. "But he only had to keep it on about two hours."

-- Special Effects Supervisor Mat Beck said that the vomiting scene was a good example of how many effects benefit from being a combination or hybrid where you "get the best of both worlds. Physical effects, mix the goo, pump the spray, add a little bit of makeup, a little bit of practical effects, a little bit of digital stuff, and then we just remove the tube."

-- Custer (the guard assigned to watch Kobold's cell) is seen reading American Ronin magazine, the same magazine in which Robert Patrick Modell placed ads in the Season 3 episode "Pusher."

-- The case and the episode come "full circle" -- like the snake eating its tail -- back to Scully's classroom at Quantico.

-- As Doggett "spelled" it out for us at the end, the episode title also referred to the victims in the case: D-A-E for Darren and Evelyn (Mountjoy), M-O-N-I for Dr. Monique Sampson, and C-U-S for the guard Custer.

-- Oopsie! The page from the phonebook that Doggett shows to Scully and Reyes as he explains the connection between the victims uses the standard fake phone numbers (they all start with 555), but some of the numbers are repeated, up to four times.

-- Only One Retread: Robert Beckwith portrayed an FBI cadet in this episode, "Hellbound," and "Scary Monsters."

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(Thanks to chrisnu for today's episode 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 "Daemonicus"!

Polly