CTP Episode of the Day - 10.30.06 - Firewalker

Today's Cherished Episode: Firewalker (2x09)
Original Air Date: November 18, 1994
Written By: Howard Gordon
Directed By: David Nutter

Mulder and Scully stumble upon a deadly life form while investigating the death of a scientist studying an active volcano.

(Thanks to chrisnu for today's pics.)

"Look, I know what you're thinking, but you have to get past that. We both do. I'm back, and I'm not going anywhere."
"You have to finish the autopsy on Tanaka. Hopefully, that will give us a better idea of what we're dealing with, whatever it is. I'm counting on you to keep us all from ending up on that slab."

Some "Firewalker" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The episode title comes from the name of the robot built to explore the crater floor of volcanoes.

-- Timeline -- As Mulder's end voiceover indicates, this episode took place between November 11th and 13th, 1994.

-- Firewalker sprang from two news items producer Howard Gordon had read about Project Dante, a NASA-funded robotic explorer that had been sent into a volcano. It also fit with a certain genre the show liked to tap into at least once or twice each season in which a scientific, military, or industrial party (as in "Ice" or "Darkness Falls") encountered some difficulty in a remote location and the FBI was sent in to investigate.

-- Gordon saw Trepkos's obsession and the toll it exacted upon him in terms of losing someone he loved as a means of exploring the darker side of Mulder's commitment to his search. "The natural endpoint of this quest for the truth was madness," Gordon noted, suggesting that Mulder's decision to let Trepkos go at the end represented the bond in that respect between Mulder and Trepkos -- their shared Heart of Darkness.

-- Toby Lindala's spike/trendril effect "won the gross-out award at that point in time," Gordon added, also lauding David Nutter's direction.

-- The flashlights Mulder and Scully used in this episode and throughout the first two seasons were xenon flashlights made by Maxabeam. Costing about $4,000 apiece, they were used by search and rescue parties in the wilderness and could project a beam of between 3 and 6 million candlepower.

-- After Mulder, Scully and Dr. Pierce are dropped off at the volcano research site, the shot of the helicopter flying away is the same shot as when it was arriving, but flipped around so the copter is now flying from screen right to screen left; you can tell by looking at the mountain formations in the background.

-- "Firewalker" had the misfortune of being the first episode to air following "One Breath," so any episode, no matter how great, would have been a letdown. It was a little disheartening that the show seemed to already be recycling plots. But on the plus side, "Firewalker" brought the X-Files team back together again at full speed -- it was the first episode of Season 2 with Mulder and Scully in full partnership mode again.

-- Bradley Whitford (Daniel Trepkos) had small roles on television series and in films (including Presumed Innocent, Awakenings, Philadelphia, Scent of a Woman, and The Client) before guesting on NYPD Blue and The X-Files in 1994. He was a guest star in the critically acclaimed episode of ER titled "Love's Labor Lost" which detailed Dr. Greene's efforts to save a mother who ran into complications while delivering her baby; he played the woman's husband and the woman was played by two-time X-Files guest star Colleen Flynn ("Detour" and "all things"). (The episode of ER was #3 on TV Guide's list of the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time.)

-- Whitford found more TV and film work before landing the role of Josh Lyman in the long-running and critically acclaimed series The West Wing. He was nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actor (Drama Series) Emmy Award three times for this role, and won in 2001. He also wrote two episodes of the series. After The West Wing ended in May of 2006, Whitford wasted no time in signing on to another Aaron Sorkin TV series: He plays Danny Tripp in the new NBC series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

-- Whitford has been married to actress Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) since 1992. They have three children. Whitford and Kaczmarek co-founded the charity "Clothes Off Our Backs," which runs on-line auctions after major award shows where celebrities' gowns, tuxedos, and other articles of clothing are auctioned off with the proceeds going to children's charities.

-- Shawnee Smith (Jessie O'Neil) had the recurring role of Linda on the Ten Danson series Becker. She might be more recognizable to fans of horror films for her role as Amanda in the films Saw, Saw II, and Saw III, which opened this past weekend. Those films featured a couple of other X-Files alums: Cary Elwes in Saw and Tobin Bell (Darryl Weaver in "Brand X"), who played the evil John/Jigsaw in all three Saw films.

-- Leland Orser (Jason Ludwig) went on to roles in many popular TV shows and movies including Runaway Jury, Pearl Harbor, The Bone Collector and Independence Day. He has recently had a recurring role on ER as Dr. Lucien Dubenko, and can be seen in the upcoming Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney/Cate Blanchett film The Good German. Orser was previously married to actress Roma Downey and is currently married to actress Jeanne Tripplehorn.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Hiro Kanagawa (Peter Tanaka) was Dr. Yonechi in "Synchrony." David Kaye (Reporter) played a doctor in "Apocrypha." David Lewis (Vosberg) was a Young Officer in "Jersey Devil" and Agent Kreski in "Oubliette."

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