CTP Episode of the Day - 06.27.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Quagmire (3x22)
Original Air Date: May 3, 1996
Written By: Kim Newton
Directed By: Kim Manners

Mulder and Scully investigate a series of deaths that may be linked to a lake monster known by the locals as Big Blue.

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

"You know, it's interesting you should say that because I've always wanted a peg leg. It's a boyhood thing I never grew out of. I'm not being flippant. I've given this a lot of thought. I mean, if you have a peg leg or hooks for hands then maybe it's enough to simply keep on living. You know, bravely facing life with your disability. But without these things you're actually meant to make something of your life, achieve something -- earn a raise, wear a necktie. So if anything, I'm actually the antithesis of Ahab, because if I did have a peg leg I'd quite possibly be more happy and more content not to be chasing after these creatures of the unknown."

Some "Quagmire" Tidbits & Musings:

-- "Quagmire" is the perfect title for this episode, as the word has two meanings. It can mean a swamp or marsh, which could describe the area around the lake where Big Blue resides; but it also means a predicament or dilemma, a quandary or sticky situation which the folks who live around the lake, and ultimately Mulder and Scully, find themselves in.

-- This episode and "Revelations" were both written by Kim Newton; in "Revelations" the bad guy's name was Gates (like Microsoft's Bill Gates), and in "Quagmire" the lake monster's name is "Big Blue" (also a nickname for IBM). Nods to the computer industry or just a coincidence?

-- Dr. Faraday is named for chemist and physicist Dr. Michael Faraday (1791 - 1867) who discovered the principle of electromagnetic induction, which is the basis for generating electric power.

-- The photographer in the episode is named Ansel Bray after famous photographer Ansel Adams.

-- The episode takes place in Millikan County which is named after Rick Millikan, a casting director for the show.

-- Heuvelman's Lake was named after Bernard Heuvelmans, a Dutch cryptozoologist who wrote In the Wake of the Sea Serpents in 1968. He listed 9 basic types of sea serpents in his book. Heuvelmans's Center for Cryptozoology, established in 1975, was first housed near Le Bugue in the south of France, but in the 1990s, moved to LeVesinet, closer to Paris. It consisted of Heuvelmans's huge private library and his massive files, his original treasured dossiers. Heuvelmans was elected president when the International Society of Cryptozoology was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1982. He held that position until his death in 2001.

-- Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker played Stoner and the Redheaded Chick, the same parts they played in "War of the Coprophages."

-- Queequeg was named for Scully's love of Moby Dick. But the name is also appropriate because in the book, Queequeg is a cannibal, and the little dog feasted on his owner in "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose."

-- Since Queequeg was named after a character in Moby Dick, it was somehow appropriate that he meet his untimely demise in the jaws of a waterfaring monster. Though killing off a cute little dog always presents some risk in terms of viewer response (people tend to accept butchery of humans more easily than pets), the writers joked that they had all been seeking a way to incorporate the dog in some grisly fashion. "We brought it back just to kill it," deadpanned Frank Spotnitz, while Vince Gilligan added, "You can kill a legion of men and women, but no dogs. People go nuts." But like many popular X-Files characters, die Queequeg did in only his third appearance (he also appeared briefly while getting a bath in "War of the Coprophages").

-- Piece of trivia only mildly related to this episode: Moby, the singer who provided the wonderful make-out music in "all things," was born Richard Melville Hall in New York City in 1965 to quasi-hippie parents James, a chemistry professor, and Elizabeth, a doctor's aide. Moby was a childhood nickname derived from his great great granduncle Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick.

-- The boat that sinks out from under Mulder and Scully is the Patricia Rae, named after writer Kim Newton's mother.

-- "Quagmire" was perhaps most notable for the nighttime sequence in the third act where Mulder and Scully get stranded together in the lake (known in X-Phile discussions as the "COTR" or "conversation on the rock"). Gillian Anderson said, "I loved that. That was so much fun, and I think it was written really well ... It was just neat to have us separated from everything and stuck on this island where we could wax philosophical and kind of tell the truth to each other in strange ways."

-- According to Kim Manners, the scene involved roughly 10 pages of dialogue -- a lot to digest on a weekly series -- but provided "some wonderful conversation, and David and Gillian really rose to that."

-- During the "COTR," Mulder's speech about wanting a wooden leg in order to justify not having to work so hard in life comes straight out of Dr. Eric Berne's pop psychology bible of the 1970s, Games People Play.

-- Kim Manners also said, "It was a quirky little show, and it was a lot tougher than anyone expected it to be. It was tough for me creatively because it was a blue-sky show, and to try to keep it scary and spooky when you're standing in these beautiful, idyllic surroundings was tough. It's not dark, you don't have the flashlights, you're outside."

-- The visual effects department generated the lake monster at the last minute, after initial efforts were made to create the image of the creature physically by using, as Mat Beck put it not-so-scientifically, "a rubber thing" in the water. Outtakes actually showed a small crew in a boat dragging a not-very-convincing sea serpent through the lake. When Beck saw the actual footage, he knew it wouldn't work; and he had to augment the image digitally before ultimately deciding to scrap it entirely, whipping up the computer-generated Big Blue -- as well as the little wake it creates cleaving through the water -- in three or four days. Beck said the creature demonstrated the everyday challenges one faces in the world of computer graphics. "If you don't do enough, it looks too stiff. If you do too much, it looks like 'Beany and Cecil'."

-- "Quagmire" features more than a few sliced and diced bodies, including the half-body model found floating in the water and the head that bobs to the surface. A durable urethane substance called "Fast Flex" was used to create the bodies and worked particularly well in this episode because the bodies had to withstand so much water abuse.

-- "Quagmire" was Timothy Webber's third appearance on the show. He played Detective Talbot in "Tooms," and Jess Harold in "Our Town."

-- Peter Hanlon, who played Dr. Bailey, appeared as an Aide in "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man."

-- Chris Ellis who played the sheriff in "Quagmire" appeared as a bank vice president in the 2005 feature film "Fun With Dick and Jane" (with Mrs. D.D., Tea Leoni).

-- I've always loved that little "thanks" that Mulder gives Scully after she asks the sheriff to send in a few reinforcements to help them search for the monster. It's just one of those quiet moments that proves he does realize how vital Scully is to the team and, most importantly (as DD once described it), that Scully is Mulder's "human credential" -- that if she can tolerate him, them he must not be so bad after all.

-- "Quagmire" is essentially the XF boiled down to one weekend in Georgia: When you find the truth you're searching for, it isn't always what you hoped. Mulder says he just wanted Big Blue to be real, as "I see hope in such a possibility"; and Scully points out that there is still hope, because people want to believe.

-- While this episode was a Monster of the Week, it was also an episode that gave us some new insights into Mulder and Scully, their motivations, their thoughts about themselves and their thoughts about each other. I also liked the fact that, despite the loss of the little red furball, they spent much of the episode smiling and laughing, something they didn't get to do very often. "Quagmire" was one of my favorites because it blended together in a wonderful mix all the things I like best about the X-Files. I even once wrote a Haven Challenge Fic using "Quagmire" as the basis: Call Me Ishmael

-- I read once that in Moby Dick Captain Ahab was driven to *prove,* not to discover. If that's true, then I agree with Scully. Mulder *is* Ahab, and she is his Starbuck. But in the end of Moby Dick, Ahab and Starbuck were destroyed because of their quest, because Starbuck could only follow and could not take the steps needed to rein in his Captain and save all those he brought with him; they went down with the ship. This was the difference between the two sets of characters. "Starbuck" Scully would not blindly follow her "Ahab"; she was able to rein him in when the need arose (and in fact, she was the only one who could do so). She kept him from making the same mistakes and didn't allow him to be destroyed by their quest. And in the end, she was by his side and ready to do it all over again.

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

Polly