CTP Episode of the Day - 10.25.06 - Lord of the Flies

Today's Cherished Episode: Lord of the Flies (9x06)
Original Air Date: December 16, 2001
Written By: Thomas Schnauz
Directed By: Kim Manners

A teenager dies while performing a daredevil feat for a cable access show. But his death may be caused by something more sinister than the stunt itself.

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"This isn't just stupid, this is glorification of stupid."

Some "Lord of the Flies" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The episode title most likely reflects the fact that it is about a teenager who can control insects (and that there are lots and lots of flies in it). But the episode also shares its name with a classic novel by William Golding published in 1954. It is the story of a group of schoolboys who are shipwrecked on a deserted island and must fend for themselves until they are rescued. It is also worth noting that "Lord of the Flies" is the translated name of "Beelzebub" (a name often used for "Satan").

-- Thomas Schnauz joined the series as a story editor in Season 9. He also wrote "Scary Monsters" and dialogue for the X-Files video game, "Resist or Serve." Additionally, Schnauz wrote two episodes of The Lone Gunmen series and an episode of Frank Spotnitz's The Night Stalker.

-- The aggressive flies in this episode were inspired by the actual habits of the bush fly or blow fly, especially the Australian species, the Musca vetustissima Walker. While many species of blow fly are found worldwide, these stout insects of the land down under are particularly aggressive in their hunt for protein excreted by both humans and animals. The flies search for protein contained in saliva, sweat, mucus, and blood, and they will attempt to get at it through any open orifice they can find. Fortunately, these flies are more of an irritating nuisance than a physical danger to their chosen victims.

-- The reality show in the episode was called "Dumbass," a reference to MTV's "Jackass" which was also a reality show (and spawned two movies) where the cast performed dangerous and weird stunts.

-- Concerned that viewers might tune in and think they were watching the wrong show, a small X-Files logo stayed on screen throughout the teaser.

-- The "troubled teen" in this episode has a fascination with Syd Barrett. Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett was a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and cofounder of Pink Floyd in 1965. It was Syd who gave Pink Floyd its name, from albums by two Carolina blues artists, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, that were in his collection. He contributed to the first two Pink Floyd albums and the early singles, but the pressures of the band's early success, coupled with increasing drug abuse, were too much for him, making him unpredictable on stage and in the studio. The band replaced him with David Gilmour in 1968. After Pink Floyd he had a short-lived solo career but is still regarded as a true musical genius. Barrett died on July 7, 2006, of pancreatic cancer.

-- The poster on Dylan's wall featuring ants and bugs was the cover of Barrett's self-titled solo album, released November 14, 1970. The tune playing in Dylan's bedroom was "No Good Trying" from Barrett's album, "The Madcap Laughs."

-- Characters on "The X-Files" have been attracted to Scully before -- Sheriff Hartwell in "Bad Blood," Padgett in "Milagro," Agent Pendrell or Frohike most any time -- so that was nothing new, but the difference *this* time was there was no one around to care. The flirtations of entomologist Dr. Rocky Bronzino (the male version of Dr. Bambi Berenbaum) would have been much more interesting if the man who made Scully a mother was around to witness/comment on them and to tease Scully about the entomologist who was "buggy" for her.

-- One episode highlight: When Rocky said "I've never had a partner before," Scully replied, "I have."

-- When Natalie went to Dylan's house and climbed up to his window, the song playing in the background was "Terrapin," and the song lyric that Dylan quoted to Natalie ("a dream in a mist of gray") was from "Opel," both Syd Barrett songs.

-- When Rocky was trapped in a cocoon in the Lockensgard's attic and cried, "Help me! Help meeee!", it was an homage to the horror movie The Fly.

-- The Dumbing Down of Dana Scully Continued: Showing Scully enthusiastically giving CPR to a guy who quite obviously didn't need it was about as low as it gets.

-- Well, almost. Scully also had the distinction of delivering the dumbest end voiceover since "First Person Shooter."

-- For those connected with the show, it seemed that the flies were the most memorable part of this episode. "There were a few flies that were practical, just to establish, on the dead victim's face," said John Wash, visual effects supervisor, of the scene in the medical examiner's unit. "And then the rest of the flies swarming around were all computer generated." The eye on the body was opened with a cable, which allowed the flies to fly out. "We used flocking behavior," said visual effects producer Mat Beck, "where you make a group of objects fly around, sort of tracking with each other, but not. It allowed us to make flocks of birds or flocks of insects."

-- To shoot the scene where Dylan Lokensgard was covered in flies, supervising producer Paul Rabwin explained that actor Hank Harris was put in a suit that was half made of rubber flies and half of which kept the actor's face open. "So we had him in this chair," Rabwin said, "we set up two cameras on him, turned on the lights, and said, 'Hank, are you ready?' And he said, 'Yeah, I'm ready,' and we dumped about 30,000 flies on him."

-- The Season 9 DVDs contain one deleted scene from the episode. It follows the scene were Dylan covers himself with flies and shows Dylan's mother trying to talk to him about his "problem" as they drive home.

-- Jane Lynch (Anne T. Lokensgard) is probably best known as one of the ensemble of actors (along with Morris Fletcher himself, Michael McKean) who frequent films by Christopher Guest, including Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. But she's also done lots and lots of television work, including recurring roles on The L Word and the improvisational series produced by Eric McCormack, Lovespring International.

-- Samaire Armstrong (Natalie Gordon) went on to appear in recurring roles in Entourage and The O.C.. She also appeared in the 2006 film Just My Luck with Lindsay Lohan.

-- Erick Avari (Dr. Herb Fountain) is currently appearing as Chandra Suresh in the NBC series Heroes.

-- Aeryk Egan (Camera Dude) provided voices in a 1996 episode of the animated series Duckman, entitled "The Girls of Route Canal" -- in which the voice of Richard was provided by a guy named David Duchovny.

-- This episode was a pretty good example of why Season 9 didn't make it. I wasn't a huge fan of the New Partnership but I *was* open-minded enough to give them a chance. But in order to give it a chance, I had to see it. In "Lord of the Flies," Doggett and Reyes were completely incidental to the resolution of the case. In fact, their major investigative breaks were mostly accidental. That would be fine from time to time after four or five years, but after four or five episodes? If 1013 wanted the New Kids to grow on me, if they wanted me to get invested in Doggett and Reyes as characters and partners, then they should have let them *do* something. For example, seeing Rocky hit on *Reyes* and seeing Doggett's reaction might have provided some insight into their partnership. And once again, bringing Scully into the mix was just plain wrong. There was no point to Scully's inclusion in this episode, other than to fulfill Gillian Anderson's contract. Instead of concentrating on the story at hand, I spent the episode wondering why Scully was more interested in rushing off to New Jersey to study bug pheromones than being with her son or doing her *actual* job (which was teaching at the FBI, in case she forgot). (She did manage to tell Rocky, "I'm a mother" when she was trying to rebuff his advances, so I guess she did remember that. And there again, they couldn't have thrown us a bone and had her say something like "I have a significant other"?) Sorry Scully fans, but her participation was a distraction. Season 9's only hope for success was to make The X-Files a *new* show, and dragging in the old characters as window dressing was never going to let that happen.

-- On top of all that, we'd also seen everything in this episode done before (and better) -- teen angst in "D.P.O.," "Rush," and "Schizogeny"; the sympathetic monster in "Post Modern Prometheus" and "Hungry"; and bug attacks in "Darkness Falls," "War of the Coprophages," and "Brand X." Even the human/insect "biological anomaly" had been hinted at in "Travelers."

-- Last but not least, "Lord of the Flies" tried to recapture the offbeat, quirky humor of episodes like those written by Darin Morgan, but it was missing one thing: Darin Morgan. Some episodes are so bad that they're funny; this episode was trying to be funny, but was mostly as flat as Captain Dare's head.

-- In the show's usual display of seasonal cheer, this was Season 9's last episode to air before the Christmas holiday.

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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 "Lord of the Flies."

Polly