CTP Episode of the Day - 06.02.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Never Again (4x13)
Original Air Date: February 2, 1997
Written By: Glen Morgan and James Wong
Directed By: Rob Bowman

On a solo assignment out of town, a lonely Scully meets Mr. Wrong -- a single guy who thinks his new tattoo is talking to him.

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

"Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life."

Some "Never Again" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The title of this episode comes from the words "Never Again" which are a part of Ed Jerse's talking tattoo. But reportedly, the episode title really refers to what Glen Morgan and James Wong claimed were the chances that they would return to the X-Files for a third time. Morgan and Wong left the show during Season 2 to work on their show Space: Above and Beyond, and returned for a few episodes in Season 4. This was their last XF episode.

-- The report that Mulder hands Scully provides the timeline for this episode. The case was opened January 13, 1997.

-- Gillian Anderson had expressed a desire to take a darker look at Scully (and also a desire for Scully to get laid!), and apparently, Morgan and Wong were on that same wavelength. Glen Morgan felt that Scully had been "jerked around a lot by Mulder and it was time for her to stand up for herself"; and supposedly, he did most of the writing on this episode (while James Wong was doing most of the writing on Millennium at the time). The final Morgan and Wong episode was originally going to be something about a haunted house, but M&W decided to make the final script weirder and hipper because of the person who was scheduled to direct the episode.

-- That person was Quentin Tarantino, but the directing assignment fell through because Tarantino didn't have his Screen Directors Guild card and was not allowed to work on TV until he got one. He had directed an episode of ER the year before and got away with it; but the Directors Guild didn't let him break the rules a second time.

-- This was the 13th episode of Season 4 and should have been shown before "Leonard Betts" (the 14th episode). But it was determined that "Leonard Betts" was a more appealing (and more typically X-File-ish) episode for the coveted post-Super Bowl spot on January 26, 1997, and thus, the episodes were flipped. There is some speculation that the episodes were flipped because TPTB anticipated fan (i.e., shipper) backlash at the events of "Never Again" and thought fans would better accept the episode if Scully was rebelling against Mulder because she suspected she had cancer, rather than because of her internal dissatisfaction and feelings that she was wasting her life. Gillian Anderson was disappointed with the decision to switch the episodes, as she said she would have played the part differently if she'd known that Scully knew she had cancer.

-- Anderson said that after the episode aired, many people told her it was so "unlike" Scully, or that it showed her range as an actress. But she told them she thought they were wrong. "On TV shows, you get to see such a small percentage of somebody's personality, because that's what the audience wants to see -- the norm, that something that they can rely on from week to week to week. But we all have many sides of our personalities, all of us have secrets. All of us have parts of ourselves that we don't show to other people. All of us can go home and be depressed at night -- and be smiling during the day. All of us can go home and binge and purge in the middle of the night and nobody would know. I don't think that what I did here was out of character for Scully. The only thing different is that the audience hadn't seen it before."

-- But Anderson found Scully's fascination with tattooing a little hard to understand, and that's why she did volunteer to actually have the ouroboros tattooed onto her back during filming, but she was told it would take too long.

-- The tattoos in the show were decals, designed by art department staffer Kristine Lyne, manufactured by an L.A.-based company called Real Creations, then applied, touched up, and altered (for instance, when Betty opened her other eye) by makeup artist Laverne Basham.

-- The demonic lady on Ed Jerse's bicep was inspired by the work of an old-style tattoo artist named "Brooklyn Joe" Lieber, who practiced his trade in the San Francisco Bay area.

-- Scully's tattoo, the ouroboros, could have been a shameless plug for Carter's other series Millennium, but ouroboros literally means "devouring its tail" and symbolizes the cyclic Nature of the Universe: creation out of destruction, life out of death, an unending cycle of renewal and rebirth. It was appropriate for Scully (the tattoo she deserved?) since she tells Jerse that she has "always gone around in this circle" of loyalty and rebellion.

-- Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster, the voice of the Betty tattoo, was a close friend of FOX Television casting chief Randy Stone, was a long-time fan of The X-Files, and was Stone's original role model for casting the role of Scully in 1993. When Stone phoned and asked her to play the part, she immediately agreed. Working with a somewhat starstruck Morgan and Wong, she nailed her lines in the recording studio in less than an hour -- then went off to work with Robert Zemeckis on the film Contact. Stone's only disappointment was that his friend was unavailable to record her lines for any of the foreign-language versions of the episode, as Foster spoke French fluently and "would have been great."

-- This episode gave a bit of a nod to the internet fans by mentioning some of the issues that XF fans had been discussing in chat rooms and newsgroups for quite a while, such as the question of "where is Scully's desk." Finally Scully (via Morgan and Wong) ask Mulder the important questions! Fans on the alt.tv.x-files newsgroup had been referring to Mulder and Scully as "Moose and Squirrel" for some time before this episode aired; supposedly Glen Morgan didn't realize this when he was writing the episode, but was amused to learn about when the episode was in production and left the Moose and Squirrel reference in.

-- When Scully connected to the internet from Jerse's computer, a list of search engines could be seen on screen, such as "Magella," "Excited," "Yahoots," and "Infosuck." These were a parody of popular search engines of the day -- "Magellan," "Excite," "Yahoo," and "Infoseek." Jerse's web browser was "Cyberscope," most likely a take-off on "Netscape."

-- Some other interesting internet trivia: In December 1996 someone on the old AOL discussion group posted that they wished Scully would get a love interest. Glen Morgan emailed the person and told her that he was writing just that, and for "Shippers to be afraid ... be very afraid." This caused a heated debate among Shippers/Non-Shippers/Shipper Haters and everyone else. As a result, Morgan posted something on AOL to defend himself: "Well, this is almost as embarrassing as the recent Chargers-Patriots game. I swear ... I have nothing against either side. Mulder and Scully may love each other, they may not. But, as in any relationship, it should be challenged to see if it is strong. Long live the debate! I love this series. I love the fans. I *HATE* Entertainment Weekly (as long as we're being honest). Jim and I would never write anything with the sole intention of making anyone angry. If that is a reaction to an episode, however, great! It's better than being boring. The comment that was posted was a joke. And if it was meant to be a public joke, then it would have been. My apologies if anyone was upset. Never again -- Glen."

-- The comment about Entertainment Weekly refers to the special XF Collectors Issue (#355, November 29, 1996). It reviewed every single XF episode up to "Terma" and while they gave a lot of Morgan and Wong episodes good marks, they gave "One Breath" a "B" and continuously noted how much they detested "The Field Where I Died," giving it an "F." They claimed it was the writers' blatant attempt to try and get Duchovny an Emmy nomination.

-- Glen Morgan was particularly annoyed with Entertainment Weekly, as "The Field Where I Died" was a very personal episode for him. So there were a few jabs at EW in "Never Again." Ed Jerse's downstairs neighbor Kaye Schilling shares her name with Mary Kaye Schilling, the senior editor in charge of the XF issue of Entertainment Weekly. When Kaye Schilling is shown cleaning out her bird cage, viewers can very noticeably see an issue of Entertainment Weekly lining the bottom. The caption on the issue was "The Wisest Man in Hollywood" and the picture was reportedly of XF producer Bob Goodwin.

-- Ed Jerse's boss's name is Mrs. Shima-Tsuno; Linda Shima-Tsuno was the president of FOX's Standards and Broadcasting. Apparently, she almost had a heart attack after seeing the first cut of "Home" and gave Morgan and Wong a hard time about the episode. (She famously appears in the Season 4 blooper reel as herself.)

-- Mulder's list of people for Scully to investigate during his vacation contained some interesting characters, such as Yakov Smirnoff (a Russian comedian), Popov Nadamsk (Popov and Smirnoff are both popular brands of vodka), Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita and Pale Fire, and Vsevolod Pudovkin, a Russian filmmaker of the 1920s. Nabokov was Darin Morgan's favorite author and Pale Fire (the book where we find Lord Kinbote) was the inspiration for his episode, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space".

-- Apparently there's also a little history behind Mulder's karate move during his pilgrimage to Graceland. In the Season 1 episode "Shadows" in which Mulder delivered his first Elvis reference ("Do you realize how hard it is to fake your own death? Only one person has pulled it off. Elvis."), David Duchovny did an Elvis karate move, but it was cut. He did the move again in this episode and called Glen Morgan to say, "I did it again, and it better be in the show!" Morgan was reportedly "ready to go to war" if it was cut a second time.

-- Mark Snow felt there was a great film noir quality to the episode, so he used a lot of jazz-type music for the score. He was most jazzed by the wild, discordant riffs that accompany Ed Jerse as he drags the stunned Scully downstairs, a strange combination of a dance rhythm track combined with "oddball samples of alternative rock."

-- Speaking of music, The Pretenders' "Tattooed Love Boys" is playing in the bar during Scully and Jerse's date.

-- From the Pretenders to The Partridge Family! Partridge Family tunes floating up from the unfortunate Kaye Schilling's apartment were actually performed by a Partridge Family sound-alike band. The song playing when Jerse came to kill Schilling was "Doesn't Somebody Want to be Wanted," which is from the Partridge Family's second album, "Up to Date."

-- The crummy bar Ed Jerse takes Scully to is named Hard Eight for Morgan and Wong's Production Company.

-- The bartender at the crummy bar is Barry (Bear) Hortin, a Teamster who was responsible for pulling Gillian Anderson's trailer. He also appeared as a bartender in the Season 2 episode "Dod Kalm."

-- Even the tattoos say "Treat yourself." Ack!!

-- The basement incinerator that Ed uses to dispose of his victims was actually the third incinerator designed and built for the series. The first two were for "F. Emasculata" and "Hell Money." Yet another incinerator, a big industrial unit, would appear later in Season 4's "Zero Sum." (And let's not forget Season 6's "Milagro.")

-- The camera angles and long tracking shot backward down the stairs are a conscious homage to a similar shot in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy.

-- Scully tells Ed Jerse that her last date was to see Glengarry Glen Ross, and that "...the characters had more fun than I did." The 1992 film, based on a play by David Mamet (who also wrote the screenplay), takes place in a real estate office with an extremely high-pressure sales incentive program. Praised for its drama by some, the film and the play are considered tedious and lacking action by others. Presumably, Scully is one of the latter. Assuming both that the show's chronology roughly matches the original broadcast dates and that Scully saw the movie when it was first run, this means she had been dateless for nearly five years (though she did go on a date in "Jersey Devil"; maybe that slipped her mind).

-- In the original "Never Again" script, Scully says the movie she saw on her date was Schindler's List.

-- There was a love scene between Scully and Ed in the original script (apparently a "pretty hot sex scene" in the first draft), and after Gillian Anderson read it, she made the unusual request to participate in the choice of the guest star, since he would be "sticking his tongue down my throat." Morgan and Wong sent her a head shot photo of the person they wanted to cast, actor Rodney Rowland, and Anderson didn't think he was right for the part. She asked to see more people or to see more of this actor's work. Morgan and Wong then sent her tapes of their show Space: Above and Beyond on which Rowland was a regular cast member. Eventually she learned that Morgan and Wong had written the part for Rowland so she stopped asking questions. In the end, Rowland won her heart; they started dating soon after "Never Again" was filmed and broke up after about a year-long relationship.

-- With regard to the love scene, the story goes that it was Chris Carter who ultimately said "no way." Morgan countered that Mulder got to have sex in "3," but TPTB said that was because Scully was gone at the time. Carter and the other writers felt that every other female character on television was jumping into bed and they were working hard to differentiate Scully from the female stereotype. Morgan's response: "She's different, but the way she is now, she's not human!" The final cut of the episode leaves what happened between Scully and Jerse somewhat ambiguous, though I think it's pretty obviously implied that they did not sleep together. We didn't even see them kiss; and after an act of passion, who gets up and sleeps on the couch in the other room? And what woman puts her pantyhose back on to sleep in? Have sex and put your pantyhose back on? I don't think so.

-- In the original script, there is another scene tacked on at the end of the episode, a guy in El Cajon, California, choosing a familiar tattoo. The final shot was a close-up of Betty winking at the camera. I think ending the episode where it did was a good choice; it was only appropriate that Morgan & Wong's last offering to the XF was an unfinished sentence with no music to guide the viewer's emotions or break the emotional tension between the two characters. And Morgan and Wong were as good as their word -- they "Never Again" returned to the X-Files.

-- Following are two scenes from the original script that were changed or cut from the final version. The first is a scene between Scully and Jerse on their date. (You'll remember in the final version, Scully talks about sneaking cigarettes as her form of rebellion -- a reference to "Beyond the Sea.") The second is the love scene that was cut from the final version.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

INT. HARD EIGHT LOUNGE - NIGHT
(Both are relaxed and slumped in the booth, buzzed, but not drunk. Ed works the olive from his martini as Scully drinks from something other than a wine glass. A girl, just 21, passes their booth. Half of her hair is dyed black, the other is bleached blond; red leather jacket, pierced eyebrow. Scully looks up and watches her move along.)

SCULLY: You believe I used to look like that girl ... once? (Ed checks out the girl and laughs, incredulous.)

ED: No. (Scully laughs at the thought of it, but nods her head adamantly. She's been drinking and is relaxed around Ed, so she's not as formal in her speech.)

SCULLY: Minus the pierced eyebrow. (beat) I dropped out of med school, just to piss off my dad and went through a thing where I colored my hair, wore beat up clothes, and just listened to The Clash all the time. (Ed gestures to her as if, "so how are you like this?" She understands and shrugs. She considers and simply shrugs back.) Doesn't everybody go through that?

ED: You're askin' the wrong guy. I was married and pushin' Mutual Funds when I was twenty (drinks). You said you were a doctor, so you must've went back. (She nods, uncomfortable a bit with the mis-information, but feels now is not the time to tell her real occupation.)

SCULLY: I've always gone around in this ... I don't know, circle ..... (the scene continues as in the final version).

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

(Ed immediately moves into Scully, holding her arms against the wall. She meets his lips. The kiss is intense and passionate, fueled by what they know of one another. Scully pulls away as Ed runs his lips down her neck. She throws her head back, pulling his shirt all the way off his back, digging her nails in his back. Ed lifts Scully, her legs wrap around his back. He drops to his knees on the floor. She responds, primal as he pulls her coat off her back, Scully's legs straddling the man on his knees.)

BETTY (V.O.): Get it now, lover.

(Each utterance from the voice increases Ed's passion, which in turn amps hers.)

BETTY (V.O.): Get it while it lasts.

DOWN ON THE FLOOR, CAMERA BEGINS TO MOVE PAST THEM, toward the open door, just as Ed lowers Scully to the floor.

BETTY (V.O.): Cause it ain't gonna be around much ... anymore.

CAMERA CONTINUES ... OUT THE DOOR AND INTO THE HALL, looking back TOWARD ED'S APARTMENT. It HOLDS. After a beat, the door SLAMS! O.S. INSIDE INTENSE MOVEMENTS, not dissimilar in SOUND to Ms. Schilling's attack.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Please share your first impressions, favorite (or cringe-worthy!) moments, classic lines, favorite fanfic, nagging questions, repeated viewing observations, etc., as today we celebrate "Never Again"!

Polly