CTP Episode of the Day - 06.30.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Folie a Deux (5x19)
Original Air Date: May 10, 1998
Written By: Vince Gilligan
Directed By: Kim Manners

A giant buglike creature is sucking the life out of humans. Or so says one gun-toting, apparently mentally ill man, who holds a group of his coworkers, plus Muder, hostage.

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

"Scully, you *have* to believe me. Nobody else on this whole damn planet does or ever will. You're my one in ... five billion."

Some "Folie a Deux" Tidbits & Musings:

-- Websters says that a "Folie a Deux" is "A condition in which the same delusional ideas or beliefs are shared by two people having a close relationship." It is French for "madness has two."

-- Writer Vince Gilligan said, "We're usually on such a short schedule that there has to be a weak link somewhere." In the case of "Folie a Deux," the "weak link" was the completely awful and not-very scary monster. Brian Markinson, who played the tormented telemarketer, reported that when he first saw the "monster," he couldn't believe this was supposed to be the thing that was driving his character crazy. "It was a short woman wearing a bug suit. She had some kind of breathing apparatus stuck in her throat." When Kim Manners saw it, he kept saying, "Oh my God. My career is over!"

-- Similar expressions of horror, mixed with bursts of hysterical laughter, were heard in the offices and editing suites of the show's L.A. production base. Even worse was the fact that the season was almost over, and there would be little spare time to somehow make the "bug" legitimately scary. "Part of the problem," said Vince Gilligan, was that makeup/special effects supervisor Toby Lindala did too good a job. "If anything the bug suit was over-engineered; the eyebrows moved and all the little antennas wiggled and stuff. If it had been a little lighter and a little less engineered it would have been easier to move in a believable fashion." The suit weighed nearly 70 pounds and the female stuntperson had a hard time moving in it.

-- Gilligan explained that the idea of the episode was there's a monster around that only you can see -- the clinical definition of madness -- and that always seemed scary to him. The notion that one's boss is secretly a demon also resonates widely, Gilligan said; and in making the tormented protagonist a telemarketer, his intention was to funnel some of the torment generated by these intrusive, dinner-wrecking pitchmen.

-- Brian Markinson (Gary Lambert) drew on a soul-draining experience, during his starving-actor period, of selling auto insurance over the phone. He said he was awful at it and his supervisor in the episode was wonderful compared to the ones in the real world. Markinson made his second appearance on The X-Files. He played Tony Fiore, the cop whose dead ex-partner inhabited a little girl, in Season 1's "Born Again."

-- A rare bit of continuity! Mulder's fingers, which were injured in the previous episode, "The Pine Bluff Variant," are still bandaged in this episode.

-- When Scully calls Mulder to tell him about the X-File involving "hiding in the light," she says that the case was from August 9, 1992. August 9 is Gillian Anderson's birthday.

-- Directionally challenged Mulder tells Scully to get "down" there and help him. I wouldn't really call Illinois "down" from D.C.

-- When Monster Boy and Science Girl are on the case, they don't mess around! Skinner gives them the assignment at 9:12 a.m., and by 12:14 that afternoon Mulder has traveled from the Hoover Building to Oak Brook, Illinois, interviewed Greg Pincus, started his profile, and returned to VinylRight. In the meantime, after a call from her partner, speed-reading Dana Scully has reviewed hundreds of old case files looking for a simple phrase buried within. Even more impressive, by 2:30 that afternoon she has joined her partner in Illinois (according to the time on the cafeteria clock). Once again, they tweak the laws of physics to get the job done!

-- When Scully drives up to the scene outside VinylRight, it appears that the road behind her is completely blocked off. Where did she come from?? < g >

-- To film the exterior portion of the hostage scenes, locations manager Todd Pittson rented a building in an industrial park in Richmond, near Vancouver International Airport. In contrast, the interior of the VinylRight building was constructed on a sound stage so that an armored personnel carrier, rented by picture car coordinator Nigel Habgood from a local military vehicle aficionado, could knock down the office wall on cue.

-- The Agent in charge of the hostage situation, Agent Rice, is named for writer Vince Gilligan's significant other, Holly Rice. Agent Rice is played by Roger R. Cross who witnessed one of the greatest MSR exchanges of all time when he appeared as the SWAT Lieutenant in "Pusher." Cross also appeared in small roles in "Fresh Bones" and "E.B.E." Nowadays, Roger Cross is best known for helping Jack Bauer save the world one day at a time; he plays one of C.T.U.'s finest, Curtis Manning, on 24.

-- Lots and lots of other retreads in this one too: Dmitry Chepovetsky (Mr. Dial and Smile Supervisor) also appeared in "Apocrypha" (as Government Man #1) and "Dod Kalm" (under lots of makeup as Lt. Richard Harper). Brenda McDonald (Mrs. Loach) also appeared in "Terma" as Aunt Janie. Tim Bissett (Medical Assistant) also appeared as Agent Cook in "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man." Norma Jean Wick played a newscaster in this one as well as a reporter in "War of the Coprophages" and "Space." Steve Bacic who played the SWAT commander also appeared in "Pusher" and "Soft Light." Nancy Kerr was Mulder's nasty nurse in this one and played Agent Hedin in "Gethsemene." Stacee Copeland and Cheryl McNamara who played two of the hostages also appeared in small roles in other XF episodes.

-- One of my favorite XF lines: "Iím not addressing you! Iím addressing the actual people over here!"

-- Great scene by DD as he goes from the shock of seeing the monster to the shock of seeing the assault vehicle burst through the wall to the shock of seeing Gary shot. I love the look on his face as he touches it after the blood spatters on him. Also love Protective!Scully gently taking his arm and trying to steer him out of there.

-- Mulder provides the date stamp on this episode for us: He writes the day of the Oak Brook crisis on his Monster Tracking Map -- 5/10/98 (coincidentally, the same day this episode aired).

-- Another of my favorite XF lines: "Did he see it because he was disturbed, or was he disturbed because he saw it?"

-- Mulder tells Scully that he's not suffering from "Helsinki Syndrome," but the correct verbiage would be Stockholm Syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome is the name of the phenomenon by which hostages become sympathetic toward their captors. It got its name from a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, where a woman became so attached to one of the robbers that she broke her engagement and remained faithful to her captor during his prison term. I'm not sure where "Helsinki Syndrome" came from, but it was also used in the film "Die Hard," to describe the same situation. But Helsinki is in Finland.

-- To allow the monster to skitter over Gretchen Starns's living room ceiling, art director Greg Loewen designed an upside-down ceiling fixture that rested on the floor. The bug lady crawled over it; thus giving the illusion -- after the filmed image was rotated 180 degrees -- that she was defying gravity.

-- To keep the not-so-scary monster from wreaking havoc on the episode, the whole mess was dumped, at the last possible moment, in the lap of visual effects supervisor Laurie Kallsen-George. With frequent input from the show's producers, she finished her work at 7:30 on the morning of the day "Folie a Deux" aired. "The stuff she did was amazing," Gilligan said. "She took the footage with the monster in it, erased the monster completely, took the monster to a different screen, animated it, and added speed blur. In the end, the monster is barely visible at all," which was Gilligan's original "vision" of a monster that only you can see.

-- As disturbing as the "bug monster" is, perhaps more disturbing is the fact that Gretchen Starns is sitting in the dark watching The Little Colonel. < g > Just kidding; it's a classic, of course! The Little Colonel (1935) is the story of a little girl in the Old South (Shirley Temple) who helps heal the bad blood between her mother and her crotchety old grandfather (Lionel Barrymore). The Little Colonel features Shirley's famous dance on the stairs with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, marking the first of four films in which they would dance onscreen together. The Little Colonel was in black and white, but original prints of the film feature the final scene in Technicolor, as was often done in the early days of color films.

-- Mulder saves Skinner from spending the rest of his life as a zombie and this is the thanks he gets? < g > Gratefully, yes, because otherwise we wouldn't have had the lovely hospital scene that begins with "Five years together, Scully. You must have seen this coming." Mulder gives his "you-have-to-believe-in-me-because-there-is-no-one-else" speech, accompanied by the pleading puppy dog look, and the girl who said she would "absolutely not" do an autopsy in their previous scene together quickly returns home to do some corpse-flipping and neck-shaving.

-- "Folie a Deux" is essentially a "monster of the week" episode, but it is also a terrific set-up for the events to come in the Season 5 finale "The End" as well as the summer's "Fight the Future." During much of Season 5, even as Scully tried to hold on to her strict rationalism and science, her skepticism was waning. In this last stand-alone of the season, she realized that when all was said and done, she *was* Mulder's one in five billion and that they were in this thing alone but together, you and me against the world -- a madness shared by two. This realization surely comes in handy as the events of "The End" and "FTF" unfold.

-- My two favorite XF episodes of all time are firmly ensconced in their 1-2 spots. Numbers 3 and 4 waver back and forth between "Pusher" and "Folie a Deux," depending on my mood at the time, but no matter where this one falls, it's definitely one of my favorite episodes. (My top four were all written by Vince Gilligan -- do you see a pattern developing here?)

-- Besides all of the above, "Folie a Deux" is special because the Season 5 gorgeousness abounds! The hair, the clothes (Mulder's sideburns and Scully's lavender suit are to die for!) -- the kids look simply marvelous!

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

Polly