CTP Episode of the Day - 07.31.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Medusa (8x13)
Original Air Date: February 11, 2001
Written By: Frank Spotnitz
Directed By: Richard Compton

Scully and Doggett must race against the clock to investigate and fight off a contagion lurking in the subway tunnels of Boston.

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

"Okay. I'll be your eyes and ears. But I wish somebody would tell me what the hell I'm supposed to be looking for."

Some "Medusa" Tidbits & Musings:

-- 1013 reference: In the teaser, the undercover cop looking for fare-jumpers refers to "a possible ten-thirteen" in his radio call.

-- The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) boasts the fourth largest mass transit system in the country, serving more than 700,000 people a day. The subway system is affectionately known as the "T" in Boston, but was temporarily renamed the "M" for this episode, possibly because the Los Angeles subway system and the Los Angeles Rail Operations Control Center were used for filming.

-- Deputy Chief Karras tells Scully and Doggett he needs to get the trains running again so they need to "kick it in the ass." That's one of the favorite expressions of XF director Kim Manners.

-- There is no such thing as a robotic sniffer, but within the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there is a specialized subdivision called the "Meningitis and Special Pathogens Branch," a group of scientists well known for their special expertise in dealing with dangerous bacterial infections that pose a threat to public health, especially those bacteria and pathogens which cause unexplained deaths.

-- Hellura Lyle and Kai Bowie are named after two Writers Guild trainees on The X-Files staff during the first part of Season 8. Steven Melnick is named for the Vice President of Media Relations at Twentieth Century Fox Television. He was formerly the publicist for The X-Files.

-- Scully told Doggett she wouldn't join him in the tunnel in order to "analyze the situation" from up top; but of course, we all knew why she was not venturing underground. She also told Doggett she needed him to be her "eyes and ears" which at least provided us all a chance to reminisce about "Pusher."

-- Thanks to two timeline references in the course of a minute (that it's the middle of winter and that they want the commuters to get home in time to watch Survivor II, which started in February 2001) we're able to ascertain that Scully is at least 10 months pregnant and still not showing at all.

-- Melnick mentions that one of the tunnels was part of the "Big Dig." Of course, the "Big Dig" has been making headlines after falling concrete panels flattened a car on July 10, killing a 39-year-old woman.

-- Seawater is a solution derived from the erosion of rocks and minerals. Its chemical composition is approximately 96.5 percent water, 2.5 percent sodium chloride (salt), and one percent magnesium, calcium, potassium, and various other trace elements. While the actual salinity of the oceans averages out to 35 parts per 1000, the most brackish body of water, the Dead Sea, averages out to 300 parts per 1000.

-- Big Ass Flashlights without Mulder ... it's just wrong.

-- Considering what happened when she cut through the plastic bag in "F. Emasculata," Scully should have known better than to ask Doggett to unwrap those bodies wrapped in plastic.

-- In another timeline reference, Doggett says that he has worked with Scully "a short time." Since Doggett started to work with Scully right after Mulder disappeared (which we were told was "last May" in the episode previous to this one "The Gift"), Doggett's definition of "a short time" is apparently nine months. If that's a short time, I suppose that's why Scully isn't showing.

-- Robert Patrick does a good job as the Manly Man in this episode and we get a little more sense of his character in the little moments. He is obviously confused about Scully's decision not to accompany the group into the tunnel, yet he defends that decision as "the right call." He defers to Scully's expertise noting he is the "tag along" and "good shot" and she is "the boss" with "all the experience" when it comes to X-Files.

-- I believe this is the first episode where Scully actually calls Doggett her "partner."

-- Some shippers got bent out of shape because Scully was getting all concerned and even throwing things because Doggett was in danger. But I believe it was in character and justified because it was directly proportionate to the amount of guilt she was feeling about not watching her "partner's" back and that she has not yet been honest with him about why. Besides which, I also believe that baby or no baby, if it had been Mulder in that tunnel, Scully would have strapped on the kevlar and headed underground so fast it would have made your head spin. Doggett might be her "partner," but I feel this scene makes it clear that he's not her "partner" in the widely understood meaning of that term. He's her "co-worker"; she only has one *partner* who hasn't been replaced.

-- Killer glowing jellyfish? Hence, the episode title: A medusa (along with the less-popular "polyp") is the tentacled, usually bell-shaped, free-swimming sexual stage in the life cycle of a coelenterate, such as a jellyfish. It takes its name from Medusa of Greek mythology, one of the three "Gorgons" with the hairdo of snakes whose gaze could turn a creature to stone. Medusa was slain by the Greek hero Perseus who used a polished shield as a mirror (thus avoiding Medusa's direct gaze) to guide his sword stroke, with which he beheaded her. The name "Medusa" means "sovereign female wisdom."

-- The little boy in the tunnel is one of the most blatant plot devices in XF history. There's no reason for the boy to be there except to enable Scully to make a Mulder-like leap and solve the mystery (and to lead Doggett out of the tunnel).

-- Sweat triggers the contagion, so hopefully Doggett had a deodorant that was made for a woman but strong enough for a man! Here's Everything You Wanted to Know About Sweat But Were Afraid to Ask: Human beings and other fellow mammals use perspiration, or sweat, as the body's way of temperature control. Sweat is mainly composed of water, sodium chloride, and other electrolytes, and when it evaporates from the skin surface it removes the excess heat, thus cooling the body. The average person has about 2.6 million sweat glands distributed within their skin - of which there are two types: eccrine glands and apocrine glands. While the eccrine glands secrete a more fluid sweat, the apocrine glands excrete a fattier sweat that breaks down and causes a distinct, pungent odor. These glands are only located in the armpits, nipples, navel, and anogenital region and become more active in humans with the onset of puberty.

-- Scully's too-tight leather jacket reappears in this episode.

-- I had to chuckle at the ending hospital room scene -- Scully is used to a much-less-modest "partner."

-- Richard Compton also directed Season 8's "Invocation."

-- Two actors who appeared in this episode found fame just a bit later: Actor Ken Jenkins (Deputy Chief Karras) is now best known as Dr. Bob Kelso on Scrubs. Prior to her XF appearance, Penny Johnson (Dr. Hellura Lyle) had a recurring role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Captain Kasidy Danielle Sisko; but she would become far better known for her role as First Lady Sherry Palmer on 24.

-- Just one Retread: Brent Sexton (Steven Melnick) also appeared in Season 8's "Patience" as a gravedigger.

-- In spite of the promise to tell us "new scary stories" in Season 8, "Medusa" was basically a composite of many episodes that preceded it. Put the agents in a remote location with a ragtag group of strangers, introduce the "x" factor such as wiggly worms, green glowing insects, rapid aging contagion, asparagus shaped parasites, wooden mothmen, glowing jellyfish, separate the agents if necessary, etc., etc., and let the fun begin. The plot was basically the same (even proof of the X-File was completely destroyed at the end) only the location was changed.

-- Although there was nary a Mulder mention in the entire episode, IMHO this was one of the better "monster of the week" episodes of Season 8.

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