CTP Episode of the Day - 11.13.06 - Kitsunegari

Today's Cherished Episode: Kitsunegari (5x08)
Original Air Date: January 4, 1998
Written By: Vince Gilligan & Tim Minear
Directed By: Daniel Sackheim

The serial killer known as "Pusher" -- a man with the inexplicable ability to impose his own will on others -- escapes from a maximum security prison. He immediately pursues the man who captured him: Mulder.

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"That's one hell of a plan, Mulder. A serial killer makes us believe that he's guilty, in turn diverting the suspicion away from the real estate lady. Well, he had me going."

Some "Kitsunegari" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The decision to bring back the memorable villain "Pusher" was a "long and complicated process," according to story editor Tim Minear, a first-year staffer in Season 5 who had previously worked on Lois & Clark, High Tide, and Robin's Hoods.

-- Since the beginning of his stint on the show, Minear had been carefully nurturing a story line about a hardened prisoner -- an atheist -- who heard the voice of God. God commanded him to kill an evil force at large in the world; the man was then mysteriously transported outside the prison walls. Hundreds of lawmen sought to recapture or kill the man; all except Mulder, who suspected that the prisoner was a genuinely changed man; that his mission was a vital one; and that something horrible would happen if he was not allowed to continue.

-- "So I pitched it," said Minear. "And I was going to do it, eventually, until we found ourselves at a point in the year where we needed a script really fast. At that point it was Frank Spotnitz's suggestion then that the guy should actually be Modell, from 'Pusher'."

-- "And then we realized that there had to be some other aspect of his character that could be illuminated to make this worth doing," added Minear. "So that's when we came up with the idea of bringing in his sister, another pusher, and making his mission his effort to save her."

-- Minear filed away his "Word of God" story line, then teamed with supervising producer and writer of the original "Pusher" Vince Gilligan -- whose name also appeared on the script -- to complete the first draft of "Kitsunegari." After a surprisingly smooth revision process, Chris Carter approved the final version.

-- Tim Minear was fresh from the staff of Lois and Clark when he penned this episode, which might explain why Linda's brain tumor looked suspiciously like a diamond with an "S" in the middle.

-- Luckily, actor Robert Wisden (who had also guest-starred on "Millennium") was available to reprise his role. Diana Scarwid was cast as his murderous sister; Scarwid was a well-regarded actress, best known at that time (perhaps unfairly) for playing Joan Crawford's daughter Christina in the camp classic Mommie Dearest.

-- Much of the excitement in Vancouver during the week of filming concerned the conversion of a hospital storage facility -- scouted by location manager Louisa Gradnitzer -- into the Lorton Penitentiary cafeteria. On the plus side: the old room was large enough, undivided, and had an appropriately high ceiling. On the minus side: formerly a pump house, the structure was now completely filled with junk. Before it could be "dressed" and filmed the storage room had to be completely emptied and several massive concrete pump housings slowly and expensively jackhammered into smithereens.

-- "But afterward, it really worked great," said construction coordinator Rob Maier. "In fact, the hospital was really glad that we spent all that money to open up the space for them."

-- To play the part of the late Nathan Bowman, special effects makeup guru Toby Lindala painted one of his in-house dummies the right shade of cerulean blue. To give the dying Robert Modell the correct tinge of sickliness, makeup artist Laverne Basham added a healthy dollop of yellow to his face powder.

-- The cerulean blue paint used on Nathan Bowman was manufactured by the "Gulf Breeze" company. The real Gulf Breeze is a suburb in Florida known for being a hotbed for UFO sightings. (And as we learned in "Fallen Angel," Fox Mulder published an article in Omni magazine about the Gulf Breeze sightings -- under the pseudonym M. F. Luder.)

-- As mentioned in the episode, "Kitsune-gari" is Japanese for "fox hunt" (with "Kitsune" meaning "fox," and "Gari" meaning "hunting").

-- Two Japanese translators -- one in Vancouver, one in Los Angeles -- labored (sometimes disagreeing with each other vigorously) to come up with the correct pictogram for "foxhunt," a term not directly translatable into Japanese. To clarify the episode's complicated denouement, a shadow of the falling Linda Bowman -- which Mulder glimpsed just before Scully-as-Bowman shot the female Pusher -- was inserted into that scene in post-production.

-- The teaser took great pains to keep the identity of the prisoner a secret until the very last moment; however, anyone who saw the preview the previous week or a commercial for the show, or anyone who read the episode description in that week's issue of TV Guide, knew the prisoner in question was Robert Patrick Modell -- so the attempt at suspense fell flat.

-- Not an Oopsie! Some thought that Modell wearing a "D.C. Department of Corrections" prison suit when he was incarcerated at the Lorton (Virginia) Penitentiary was an oopsie but it actually wasn't. In spite of its location, the Lorton Correction Complex was operated by the D.C. Department of Corrections. The property along the Occoquan River in southeastern Fairfax County, Virginia, was acquired by the U.S. Government in 1910 to become the site of the Occoquan Workhouse, designed first as a workhouse and later as a reformatory for the District of Columbia. Inmates worked on a 1,200 acre farm raising hogs, cattle, and chickens and built many of the buildings in the complex, including dormitories, a dining hall, laundry, bake shop, ice plant, and hospital. Two more sections were added later, the Lorton Reformatory in 1913 and finally the penitentiary in the 1930s. The prison facility was closed at the end of 2001 and plans are to turn at least a portion of the property into an arts campus.

-- To my recollection, this was the first time that Mulder and Scully were designated as "Special Agents in Charge."

-- In "Pusher" it appeared that Mulder shot Modell straight on, but we were told in "Kitsunegari" that the bullet went from ear to ear.

-- Timeline Issues: The episode indicated Modell was tried and convicted by Nathan Bowman in 1996, but how did that happen when Scully indicated that Modell woke up "six months ago." "Kitsunegari" aired in early 1998, which would put "six months ago" as mid 1997.

-- Oopsie! In the WNN news story playing in the sporting goods store, the first two mug shots of Modell stated that he was 6'2". When Todd looked back at the monitor right before Modell entered the store, it said he was 5'10".

-- You Just Can't Get Good Help These Days: Mulder called Linda Bowman's office and got the name of her client and the address of the appointment without even having to give his name or a reason why he wanted the information. Linda could use a new receptionist.

-- Linda (and Nathan) were given the last name of Bowman as a nod to the director of "Pusher," Rob Bowman.

-- Oopsie! The time stamp when Modell entered the sporting goods store read 9:13 a.m., and yet when Mulder and Scully arrived at Nathan Bowman's apartment the clock read 9:10 a.m. and Linda Bowman's receptionist told Mulder that she was headed to her 12:15 p.m. appointment (which she was late to).

-- Mulder and Scully were driving a Lariat rental car even though they were in the D.C. area.

-- Practice What You Preach: Mulder warned law enforcement officials to approach Modell only with extraordinary caution, and then only with adequate backup -- every cop they could lay their hands on; yet Mulder approached Modell alone.

-- It's the little bits of continuity that count: Modell called Skinner "Mel Cooley," just as he did in "Pusher." And a wounded Linda Bowman uttered the line "You think you can hold me," just as Modell did in the beginning of "Pusher."

-- It was in "Kitsunegari" that we first learned Mrs. Mulder's first name was "Teena." (The spelling of her name was confirmed in the X-Files computer game -- though it was spelled "Tena" on the infamous Mulder Family Tombstone in "Within.")

-- We are given no clue as to why Scully showed up at the warehouse at the end of the episode to save Mulder's beautiful mind once again from the clutches of Linda Bowman. (We knew Mulder didn't call her because he asked her why she was there.) Perhaps Scully found the address at the hospital, just as Mulder did, or perhaps it was Psychic!Scully at work once again.

-- "I loved the concept of 'Kitsunegari' just as I liked 'Pusher,'" said Gillian Anderson. "The whole idea of somebody imposing their will on others really intrigued me."

-- This was director Daniel Sackheim's first X-Files episode since "The Host" in Season 2. He was one of the producers on the X-Files feature film, Fight the Future. Sackheim also directed Season 6's "S. R. 819" before moving on to work on Harsh Realm. He directed the Pilot episode of Night Stalker for Frank Spotnitz, and most recently as been directing several episodes and serving as a co-executive producer for the Fox series House.

-- In addition to "Kitsunegari," Tim Minear wrote one other X-Files episode, "Mind's Eye" and left the series at the end of Season 5. About "Mind's Eye," he said, "There was much I wasn't happy with regarding the approved story, so I really put most of my focus into creating a role for Lily Taylor. I had long admired her and wanted her to play Marty from the start. That she brought so much to the role and then got an Emmy nomination for it was thrilling."

-- When asked about the difference between writing for Lois and Clark and for The X-Files, Minear said: "It [The X-Files]was more restrictive in some ways. Lois and Clark was more fantasy due to its comic book nature. It was harder to come up with stories for The X-Files. Plus, by the time I got there they had already done 100 episodes. It was hard not to repeat."

-- "I enjoyed writing for both sets of characters," Minear added. "Actually, the male/female investigative nature made them similar in many ways. Since I got to explore more aspects of Lois and Clark's characters, I have to say that was the more satisfying experience. As I said, they were similar in that they fell into the same kind of genre in many respects. Mulder and Scully were more fun in that their romance was under the skin -- for those who would even admit it *was* a romance. More fun to write, I mean. Maybe not more fun to watch."

-- After leaving The X-Files, Tim Minear went on to work as a writer and producer on the Joss Whedon series' Angel and Firefly before serving as executive producer on the quirky, critically acclaimed (but short-lived) Fox series Wonderfalls. After Wonderfalls' cancellation, Minear and X-Files alumni Howard Gordon created and produced another short-lived series The Inside, about the FBI's Los Angeles Violent Crimes Unit. Lately, Minear has been working as a consulting producer on the Fox series Standoff, about a pair of negotiators in the FBI's Crisis Negotiation Unit who are work partners and romantic partners.

-- Diana Scarwid (Linda Bowman) received a Razzie Award (which honors the worst performances in film) for her role in Mommie Dearest, but the year before that film was released she received a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her role in Inside Moves, which starred another X-Files alumni, John Savage ("Dod Kalm"). She has appeared in other well-received roles in TV movies (Truman, for which she earned an Emmy Award nomination for her roll as Bess Truman), miniseries (From the Earth to the Moon), and feature films (Silkwood, What Lies Beneath). She was one of the stars of Wonderfalls, and was most recently seen in three episodes of the hit Fox series Prison Break.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Colleen Winton (Therapist) was the Lie Detector Technician in "Squeeze." Donna Yamamoto (Female Agent) was a Night Nurse in "Soft Light." Stuart O'Connell (First Cop) was a SWAT Cop in "Unusual Suspects." Michael Dobson (U.S. Marshall) was Marksman #2 in "Duane Barry," Sergeant Hyneck in "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," and a BATF Agent in "The Field Where I Died." John Dadey (2nd U.S. Marshall) was a Local Agent in "Paper Hearts." Mark Holden (Cop) was Agent Eugene Chandler in "Unrequited."

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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 "Kitsunegari."

Polly