CTP Episode of the Day - 09.18.06
Today's Cherished Episode: The End (5x20)
Original Air Date: May 17, 1998
Written By: Chris Carter
Directed By: R. W. Goodwin
A child chess prodigy has the ability to read minds. If Mulder and Scully can protect him, he could be the answer to the mysteries they've long been exploring. If the rulers of the Syndicate capture him, he could be the key to world hegemony and the final destruction of the X-Files.
MULDER: He's genetic proof, isn't he?
SPENDER: Genetic proof of what? Genetic proof of what?
MULDER: The kid's not superhuman. He's just more human than human.
Some "The End" Tidbits & Musings:
-- Back in 1993 -- partly for reasons of economics, partly because of the variety of exterior locations available there -- Chris Carter and Fox Television shot the X-Files pilot in Vancouver, British Columbia. When the series was picked up, all subsequent episodes and seasons were filmed there even as the show continued to be written and edited on the Fox movie lot in Los Angeles. The advantages to this arrangement: magnificent scenery and an "interesting" climate that helped to give The X-Files a "look" all its own; a depressed Canadian dollar that stretched farther for U.S.-based productions; and -- most importantly -- a magnificently talented and hard-working crew that quickly proved to be the cream of Vancouver's burgeoning film and television community.
-- The disadvantages: sometimes-unwieldy communications between north and south; an international commute between Los Angeles and Vancouver; and the fact that the show's American stars were required to live in Vancouver ten months of the year, far away from their homes and from the main focus of the U.S. entertainment industry.
-- When The X-Files became an international hit for Fox, Vancouver's cost savings became less important. After completing filming for Season Four, and marrying Los Angeles-based actress Téa Leoni, David Duchovny began expressing publicly (as to a lesser extent, did his co-star Gillian Anderson) a desire that the show be filmed, as was the X-Files movie, in Southern California. Before the start of Season Five, Duchvony renewed his contract for two additional years with the provision that if the series continued to be filmed in Vancouver beyond 1997-1998 he could opt to appear in only eight episodes per season. It was announced that the situation was being reevaluated. And that was how the fifth season -- with plans to produce 22 ambitious episodes -- began.
-- "The X-Files originally was supposed to shoot in Los Angeles and the Pilot actually began shooting in Los Angeles before they moved to Vancouver because it was set in the northwest," said Frank Spotnitz. "David Duchovny had unexpectedly found himself moving to Vancouver, but he had been promised that it was a temporary arrangement, that he would not have to live there for the life of the series. So in many ways he had more than honored his promise by the end of Season 5 when the show was a success, he'd been there for five years, and he wanted to come home. And he'd just been married, and it really was only fair and reasonable given the circumstances under which he'd agreed to go there in the first place."
-- "It's been a very demanding year so far," Vancouver-based executive producer Bob Goodwin said in February 1998. "The most difficult year from a production point of view." Difficult cast scheduling problems -- because of other commitments recurring actors like Laurie Holden (Marita Covarrubias) was frequently unavailable -- meant that portions of two and even three episodes had to be shot simultaneously and complex feats of scene-juggling were often necessary. Add to this all the other logistical problems and it was easy to see why second (and occasionally third and fourth) film units were constantly in motion. In late fall the network order was cut to 20 episodes (the hole was partly filled with an L.A.-produced documentary special, Inside the X-Files, that aired February 1.) The budget for an average episode crept past the truly astonishing figure of $2.5 million.
-- As the shooting season entered its final months, with no decision yet made on moving the show to Los Angeles, rumors began to swirl -- especially among the Vancouver crew members -- about the future of the show. By late winter, even the individuals most intimately involved appeared to grow weary of the speculation. Finally, on Friday, March 28, Chris Carter flew to Vancouver; talked to each department head individually, and told him or her, sadly, that he had hoped there would be some alternative but that The X-Files would be moving to Los Angeles for the start of its sixth season.
-- Afterward, Carter walked the short distance to the sound stage where the show was being filmed. He gathered the cast and crew around him, and started to read a prepared announcement giving the financial and logistical reasons for the move. He started to thank the Vancouver-based crew for their five years of effort. But before he could finish getting the words out he was overwhelmed by emotion -- as were many of the talented artists and technicians listening to him. The X-Files's creator could not go on. Everyone silently let the news sink in.
-- "Many people who had actually been there since the first episode of the show had been together as a kind of family and we were basically saying goodbye, so long, and we may never see you again," said Carter later. "It was very hard. For me, as a producer, it was like disbanding the world-championship team."
-- "In the end, I think everyone basically was relieved," recalled Vancouver-based producer J.P. Finn. "Because now that we had the word officially, we could all go on and plan our lives. In fact, in a way we were sort of elated because the end was in sight, and it was still okay, and in a little while we could relax and relish all our good work."
-- With much of the tension eased, work continued on the remaining episodes of the season. Even before their X-Files tenure was over, many crew members had jobs lined up on other productions, frequently -- befitting the X-Files's status as Vancouver's most prestigious TV series -- at a higher level than they had occupied previously.
-- "The End" was the 117th -- and final -- episode of The X-Files to be filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia. This bittersweet milestone was marked in several ways: the first and most visible being Chris Carter's locating of the opening scene in Vancouver. It was the first -- and only -- time that the city "played itself." "It was a little bit of a storytelling lie -- Canada really isn't within the FBI's jurisdiction -- but it was more than worth it," said Carter.
-- At the time the title of the episode was announced, there had been many rumors concerning exactly what this episode would be "the end" of (including the end of the X-Files and the end of the Mulder/Scully partnership), but the real "end" was the fact that this episode was the last to be filmed in Vancouver, thus bringing an end to the show's five-year relationship with Vancouver.
-- "It was with heartbreak and fear that we ended Season 5 with an episode appropriately called 'The End' and said goodbye to the crew up there, said Frank Spotnitz. "That final episode was directed by R.W. Bob Goodwin who had been our executive producer and done such a fantastic job of producing the show up there, hiring amazing talent behind the camera. We really went all out with that chess scene and invited everyone in Vancouver to come and fill the auditorium where it occurred. It was a huge production and really spectacular."
-- To say goodbye to the citizens of Vancouver -- for whom The X-Files had become a friend, a neighbor, and even a significant source of jobs and revenue -- the producers threw a mammoth, open-to-the-public location shoot. It was held at GM Place, the local arena that on normal days was the home of the NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies and the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. One weekday evening early in the production of the last episode it served as the site of Gibson Praise's chess match. Appreciative Vancouverites served as honored guests/gust stars.
-- "We thought, hopefully, that five thousand people would show up. That would have let us easily simulate a full house," said producer J.P. Finn, who organized the shoot. "The final count total was over 17,000. We could have had two or three thousand more, except for staff and safety reasons."
-- Most of the "chess fans" seated in the arena during "The End's" opening scene were show biz drop-ins who obtained free tickets through local radio station giveaways. Several stood in line overnight to get front-row seats. Executive producer Bob Goodwin, who was directing the final episode of the season, gave instructions to his "actors" via giant video screens attached to the scoreboard. During the long breaks between shots a festive atmosphere prevailed: concession stands were thrown open for snacks; there was music, videos, and other entertainment; the show's stars -- including Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny -- took the microphone and answered questions from the crowd; and over $20,000 worth of televisions sets and other electronic equipment were raffled off. "It was like a huge farewell party for all of us," said Finn.
-- "We put stories out in the newspapers and TV and everything else," remembered Bob Goodwin. "We said, 'Come be an extra on The X Files, you're invited to come down, we'll give away prizes, you can meet David and Gillian and other actors, the Cigarette Smoking Man.' Well, we turned away 5,000 people. The lines went for miles and miles and miles. We filled that stadium all the way to the top. These people, for eight hours, over and over and over, for every angle I needed, did everything I asked them. It was unbelievable. They would sit there hushed, they'd watch, they'd get scared when they heard the gunshot, they'd stand up, they'd race for the exit. You know: 'Cut! Cut! Cut! everybody back!' And within 30 seconds they were all back in their places. You could hear a pin drop, they were so quiet. It was just like the greatest thing I'd ever done in my life. I don't know anybody else who's ever directed over 15,000 people."
-- "You see all the papers that you read, all the magazines, that say the show's a big hit," said Dean Haglund (Langly). "You don't really get a sense of it unless you go to the conventions and you have a group of people who really are digging the show. So I think this was a first chance for the crew and people who hadn't been on the road, or hadn't gone to any of these things, to really see the impact of what they had done over the last five seasons of this. To see 17,000 people just go nuts for a show that they'd been working on since Season 1 and I know that when we came to set a few days later, they were still quite jazzed and electrified about that."
-- Said Louisa Gradnitzer, Locations Manager: "When I showed up on set, I said 'Chris, come out and have a look at this.' And we both looked out and seeing those thousands of people lining up ... basically for me that was the most expensive one-date location I've ever, ever used in my entire life." Helga Ungurait, Script Supervisor, said, "We all felt like little rock stars, we felt like we were the hockey players on the ice and all these people were coming in and watching what we're doing. And just the applause for Chris, and the applause for the crew, and the applause for the show -- it was very, very heartfelt and you could see it in the crew and also in Chris's face, that ... wow! We had a great time here."
-- Oopsie! When the Russian chess player gets shot and falls out of his chair, he clearly knocks the chessboard off the table; but in the next shot, the board is clearly still on the table. Later, when the videotape of the incident is shown, it's a totally different take with the chess board spinning around but remaining on the table.
-- The normal tag line of "The Truth is Out There" was changed to the episode's title, "The End."
-- The first act's opening shot of Mulder's bulletin board was a walk down memory lane, as in addition to the "I Want to Believe" poster (with the "You Are Here" post-it), it contained many remembrances of cases past, including articles on Duane Barry, Tooms, and Leonard Betts, as well as pictures of the Eves, the Nisei doctors, and finally a photo of Mulder and Scully working together.
-- "Mimi Rogers was David Duchovny's idea," said Chris Carter, "and it was a great idea. I think the reason that Mimi Rogers came and did the role of Diana Fowley was because of David, that they had worked together previously [they played husband and wife in the film The Rapture]. She had the physical stature, bearing, mien that we needed for the character, she was ultimately going to be a villain, and she was believable as an ex-love-interest of Mulder's."
-- "David and Chris Carter both brought me onto The X-Files, said Mimi Rogers. "David had always asked me, 'If something really cool came up, would you be interested in doing the show?' I said, 'Absolutely!' When the Fowley role came up, Chris called me -- and David called me too. Actually, I was happy to do it." She added, "When David and Chris called me, they told me about the character and they said that she was a character out of Mulder's past and that she was another FBI agent and that it was going to be a very sort of femme fatale-ish role, have elements of not knowing which way she was going to go. So I found that very appealing."
-- On re-teaming with David Duchony on The X-Files, Rogers said, "I hadn't worked with David since The Rapture. He has grown tremendously as an actor. He's much more sure of himself now, and he's certainly a much happier person these days." Duchovny was glad to have a chance to act with Rogers again after so many years, noting that "it's nice to work with people [again] when you worked with them when you first started out."
-- "One of the ideas Chris and I had discussed for years before we actually introduced Gibson Praise was that the reason so much paranormal phenomena occurs in the world of the XF is because in fact we are part alien," said Frank Spotnitz. "That there's something alien about human beings, and that's why there's telekinesis and psychics and all these other things. So that led to the creation of the Gibson Praise character who was the missing link whose incredible ability demonstrated that we are in fact related to aliens and so indirectly proves that alien life exists. So therefore he must be destroyed, he must be killed, hence the assassination attempt at the chess match."
-- "That was a casting coup," added Spotnitz. "Finding Jeff ... Jeff Gulka, who just had this wonderful stillness and presence and soulfulness that you just wouldn't expect in a little boy, and we just fell in love with him and couldn't bring him back enough because he was such a great character and brought so much to the role."
-- Mulder mentions that if Gibson had not moved at the end of the chess match, he would have caught a bullet "in the back of the neck." Is that the only way to kill part-aliens as well?
-- The hospital where Gibson was located was called Inget Murray Hospital, named for set designers Shirley Inget and Graham Murray, who were nominated for an Emmy (Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction) for their work on "Jose Chung's From Outer Space". They did an excellent job of destroying the office they created (by fire), ensuring that the "Mulder's Office" set wouldn't have to be moved to Los Angeles.
-- When Mulder, Scully and Fowley first approach Gibson Praise, he is watching The Simpsons episode "The Cartridge Family." Later, he's watching an episode of The Silver Surfer (also a sometimes nickname for Chris Carter), and later still an episode of King of the Hill called "Shins of the Father." All three were Fox animated shows.
-- The assassin was held at Fort Marlene. Fort Marlene was the same facility from Season 1's "The Erlenmeyer Flask" -- the one Scully infiltrated so she could take the alien fetus. While there is no real-life Fort Marlene, there is a Fort Dietrich in Frederick, Maryland -- a site known for its experimentation with biological weapons. Marlene Dietrich was a famous German actress. The X-Files location playfully references the real location by substituting the first name of the actress.
-- The shooter was played by actor Martin Ferrero who was perhaps best known at that time for playing the lawyer gobbled up by a T-Rex while in the john in Jurassic Park.
-- Great work by Gillian Anderson after she sees Mulder and Fowley sharing a private moment. She makes the quick walk-by and U-turn in the hospital hallway after seeing some hand-holding, and then about 15 seconds of silence and a deep sigh while sitting in the car. As usual, she speaks loudest when she says nothing at all. Why is Fowley bothering her so much? Is it because Mulder never told her about this woman? Or because she never stopped to consider that there was once another female partner in his life - personal and/or professional (one who gets to call him "Fox")? Or is it that she's now wondering if maybe she does have feelings other than "just friendship" for Mulder that she's been pushing aside, only to have them surface when a threat is at hand? So much to ponder in that 15 seconds of silence.
-- Oopsie! Samantha's file was the only one that Cancer Man takes from the X-Files office before he sets it on fire. In "Conduit," Samantha's file read "Samantha T. Mulder." Then in "Paper Clip," it was "Samantha Ann Mulder." The file CSM removes is back to her name with middle initial "T". That's sort of a double oopsie!
-- The last shot with Mulder's back to the camera is not David Duchovny but his stand-in Steve Kiziak.
-- The chess game between Gibson and his opponent in the teaser of this episode was just that - a tease for the larger chess match that was the X-Files. In this game, CSM sees himself as the grandmaster moving and manipulating all the pieces--and he gives us clues to the strategy throughout: "Control the board. Know which men to sacrifice and when." "It's all a game. You just take their pieces, one by one, until the board is clear." And in the end, Mulder says, "This was all strategized - every move." Just like chess. In this chess game, I would assign the pieces this way: The Consortium guys are the Rook - the most powerful piece on the board, except for the Queen. Krycek is the Knight, because the Knight is the only piece that can jump over other pieces to work toward the objective. Skinner is the Bishop, since you have one light square Bishop and one dark square Bishop and sometimes it's hard to tell just which side Skinner is on. In chess, the Pawn is the least powerful piece on the board, but it has the potential to become equal to the most powerful. Gibson Praise, Diana Fowley, Jeffrey Spender, and countless others - they are all Pawns in the game. Mulder is, of course, the King - the most important piece; when he is trapped, his whole army loses. And Scully is the Queen - the most powerful piece on the board, a place Scully occupies for many reasons. The ultimate aim in the game of chess is to win by trapping your opponent's king - checkmate. The definition of checkmate is "utter defeat."
-- In order to be with his Canadian-based crew for their final episode together, Chris Carter directed much of the second-unit filming for "The End." On the last day of shooting, first assistant director Tom Braidwood announced to his crew that the abandoned hospital corridor they were filming in was the identical site of the first scene, of the first day, of the early first-season X-Files episode he first worked on. "And I was so nervous that I yelled 'action' before the director did," said Braidwood.
-- Once & Future Retreads: Many actors who had recurring roles on the series appeared in this episode, including Mitch Pileggi (Water Skinner), The Lone Gunmen actors, William B. Davis (Cigarette-Smoking Man), Nicholas Lea (Krycek), Mimi Rogers (Fowley), Jeff Gulka (Gibson Praise), Chris Owens (Jeffrey Spender), Don S. Williams (First Elder), George Murdock (Second Elder), John Moore (Elder #3), and John Neville (The Well-Manicured Man). Michael Shamus Wiles (Black-Haired Man) played the same role in "En Ami." John Trottier who played a clinician played George Peacock in "Home.)
-- On Saturday, April 25, the X-Files's Vancouver wrap party -- one of the hottest tickets in town -- was held at the Pacific Space Center, Vancouver's main planetarium and science center, and was a mammoth, rollicking success. Dancing, imbibing, and high-decibel recollecting continued well into the morning.
-- On Tuesday, April 28, David Duchovny filmed his final scene and, after posing for many group snapshots and handing out his farewell gifts -- autographed basketballs -- to each one of his Vancouver coworkers, left for Los Angeles.
-- The next day the cast and crew gathered at Riverview Hospital, in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam, for the fifth season's final day of principal photography. A strenuous -- in fact, nearly impossible -- schedule was laid out on the call sheet: nine scenes; eight separate camera setups; and a workday that would last from mid-morning to midnight and beyond.
-- No matter, the work began at an unflagging pace. In the large circus of trucks and other production vehicles gathered in the hospital parking lot, crew members tended to the actors and hustled large pieces of equipment to wherever they were needed.
-- From the big generator truck, thick black power cables snaked into obscure, odd-shaped corners of the hospital, where -- as director Bob Goodwin controlled things from his seat next to the video monitor -- the X-Files team endeavored to simultaneously race the clock, do justice to Chris Carter's script, and put the finishing touches on the 1997-1998 season.
-- As the day wore on and the workload dropped slightly, the X-Filers began to gather quietly in small groups exchanging addresses, signing scrapbooks and T-shirts, posting for quick pictures. Chris Carter, his own work finished for the day, joined them outside the hospital and was quickly surrounded by groups of smiling coworkers. He laughed and reminisced with them all.
-- At around 7 p.m. something extraordinary happened: Dozens of people from the show's production office, may of whom rarely, if ever, set foot on location, began to arrive at Riverview. They joined perhaps 80 of their friends and coworkers in squeezing into the corridors surrounding an unused hospital storage room, where the set for the Lone Gunmen's office had been erected.
-- This was Gillian Anderson's final scene: a serio-comic passage in "The End" in which Dana Scully asks Frohike, Langly, and Byers -- who were dressed in their p.j.'s, bathrobes, and (in Frohike's case) bunny slippers -- to help her solve yet one more unsolvable mystery. "Action!" said Bob Goodwin, his wife Sheila Larkin (who played Margaret Scully in the series) sitting beside him. Chris Carter stood nearby, watching intently.
-- The filming proceeded with Anderson perhaps a bit more tense and emotional than the scene required. Several dozen camera angles, nervous flubs, makeup touch-ups, and alternate line readings later, Goodwin announced that he was satisfied. "Okay, cut! Print it!" he said. The set was silent for a moment until a stunned realization set in. In a few moments, Anderson was to leave the set for the last time. In a few hours she would leave for Los Angeles. In a month and a half the X-Files movie would premiere. In just three months, filming for the sixth season -- with a new crew, new plot lines, new challenges, and new triumphs -- would begin.
-- The moment passed. The onlookers burst into applause. Anderson nearly burst into tears; the actress asked her friends to gather around her. From a large cardboard box she held up a bathrobe inscribed "Goodnight Everybody. I Love You Forever, G.A." She invited everyone to visit her trailer, say their farewells, and pick up their own commemorative copy -- their gift from her -- afterward.
-- More applause. The actress fought to maintain her composure. And lost. "I wish there was something that could express the way I love you all," she said, her eyes shining and her voice breaking. "You made it all so special. I will miss you all so much."
-- "It was interesting to be not just leaving Vancouver but lighting the X Files on fire," Chris Carter said. "The whole thing felt like the end of a world, sort of, for us. I'll always look back on those five years and that fifth season in particular since it was really an emotional farewell as a big milestone in my life."
-- On April 29, 1998, The X-Files's daily call sheet for "Day 8 of 8," included several pages of the usual important information about crew and cast schedules and location requirements. Attached to the back of this, however, were two personal letters. The first one was from producer Joseph Patrick Finn to his crew. It read:
To: The Crew
I will always remember your indomitable spirit, your tireless stamina, your generosity to one another and your insatiable appetite for fun. Never lose these qualities. Thanks for all the wonderful memories.
-- The second was from executive producer R. W. Goodwin. It read:
I was going to try to get around to speak to each of you personally, but I realized with my schedule this week it's impossible, so I'm writing this instead.
Thank you all for a wonderful five years. Every one of you has worked so hard and with such great talent to create the best television show ever made, and it's an experience I'll never forget. Time after time, directors and actors have said to me that they thought you were the best group of people they ever worked with. Of course, you are. After all, I'm the one who put you together, and everyone knows how smart I am.
Seriously, you have all performed well above the call of duty, and you've done it graciously and so perfectly it's almost hard to believe. I'll never forget all the struggles and stresses and all of the incredible things we've created, but most of all, I won't forget all the good times and laughs.
I won't say good-bye because I'm not going anywhere and I know we'll be working together soon on something else. So long for now. I love you all.
-- Except for the "Pilot" and "Little Green Men," in the first five seasons, Bob Goodwin directed the first and last episode of each season. "The End" was the last episode he directed.
(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 "The End"!