CTP Episode of the Day - 06.22.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Scary Monsters (9x12)
Original Air Date: April 14, 2002
Written By: Thomas Schnauz
Directed By: Dwight H. Little

Doggett and Reyes, with the aid of a young Mulder-worshiping FBI agent, investigate a father who is exhibiting bizarre behavior regarding his son who he has kept hidden from the outside world.

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

"So, this is Johnny Fabulous, huh? 'Mulder's so smart. Mulder's so dreamy.' That's all Leyla ever talks about. Mulder and Scully, Scully and Mulder, blah, blah, blah."

Some "Scary Monsters" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The episode's title is a double entendre, referencing the "scary monsters" that the boy with the very active imagination is able to create; but the boy himself is actually the "scary monster."

-- Thomas Schnauz also wrote Season 9's "Lord of the Flies." He also wrote episodes of The Lone Gunmen and an episode of Spotsy's Night Stalker this past year.

-- This was director Dwight Little's only X-File directing assignment, but he's been quite busy this past year, directing episodes of 24, Bones, and Prison Break, just to name a few.

-- There's no real time stamp on this episode, except that it was meant to air earlier in the season (it should have aired between "Providence" and "Audrey Pauley." But other than lots of snow and ice in Pennsylvania in mid-April (which is plausible), it doesn't really suffer from moving around in the rotation.

-- Jolie Jenkins reprised her role of FBI Agent Leyla Harrison, which she created in the Season 8 episode "Alone." Jenkins was one of a number of XF guest-star alumni who had a recurring role in the first season of "Desperate Housewives."

-- Agent Leyla Harrison was a 1013 tribute to dedicated X-File fan Leyla Harrison who lost her battle with skin cancer in February 2001. I always felt this was an amazing and classy gesture by Chris Carter and his staff, to recognize an amazing fan -- and all the fans -- for supporting the show. Just like us, Agent Leyla Harrison was a "fan" of the X-Files; she knew the cases backward and forward and could recite the details chapter and verse. She was a stickler for continuity, she believed in the work, and was incredibly proud and excited to get the chance to follow in the footsteps of her favorite agents. And of course she was not afraid to ask the questions that all XF fans wanted an answer to.

-- Like "Alone," the presence of Agent Harrison in "Scary Monsters" allowed us to get the obligatory XF references as well as commentary comparing the team of Mulder/Scully to Doggett/Reyes, with Agent Harrison again echoing the sentiments of many of the fans of the old team. At one point, Leyla even says she tries to think like Agent Mulder and asks herself what Agents Mulder and Scully would do if they were in such a situation. But "Scary Monsters" was sort of the flip-side of "Alone," showing us that the Mulder/Scully way wasn't necessarily the *only* way.

-- Some fans of the M&S era probably took offense to this episode, but in retrospect, it says things that should have been said (and in some ways acknowledges that the 1013 Boys may have seen the error of their ways). "Scary Monsters" finally acknowledges that no matter how well crafted the characters of Doggett and Reyes might be (and of course there was some debate on that matter between the fans and Carter's Crew), they would always live in the shadow of Mulder and Scully. This is reflected in Leyla's repeated attempts to compare the old with the new; and Doggett's weariness over such comparisons echoes the attitudes of his fans (primarily Mr. CC), as does the flippant remarks regarding Mulder from Harrison's boyfriend wannabe. But even with that, the script still manages to give credit to Mulder and Scully, pointing out that their legacy is impossible to live up to so it shouldn't even be attempted. In other words, with the end in sight (there were only five more episodes after this one), TPTB finally recognized that in order for Season 9 to have had any chance at success, they should have ended the Mulder/Scully era and let the new characters stand on their own four feet.

-- Did anyone else think that the character of Tommy was also a bit of a tweak to Chris Carter (and not just because Tommy utters the famous line "I made this" [spoken over the end credits of every XF episode] while showing a drawing he made to Monica)? Tommy's strange and frightening imagination created things that took on a life of their own ... sound familiar?

-- There are some references to XF cases past in this episode, just as there were in "Alone." Doggett references the hallucinogenic mushroom in "Field Trip," and Leyla comments on the events of "D.P.O." The ending of the episode -- where Tommy is plopped in front of a bank of television sets in an effort to keep his imagination from spiraling out of control (also perhaps a commentary on the fans) -- is nearly identical to the ending of D.P.O.

-- The FBI cadet who tried to get Scully's attention before her lunch was played by Robert Beckwith; he also played the cadet who heckled new teacher Scully in "Daemonicus" and again in "Hellbound."

-- Scully is off her yogurt and bee pollen kick and eating (or trying to eat) an apple and tuna salad for lunch. But losing her appetite because Leyla flashed some gory crime scene photos? Please! This was the woman who ordered a pizza after autopsying a guy who just ate one.

-- Though I've never been to the FBI Academy, I seriously doubt that Quantico has bells to signal the start/end of classes.

-- Scully should just quit the FBI and do all her autopsies at home. Think of how much more time she could spend with William and Mulder! (I keep deluding myself that Mulder just ran out to the store.) Do you think that "Something Smells Gooo-ooood" apron was a gift from Mulder? (See photo in next post.) Or maybe it was her gift *to* Mulder? Perhaps for Father's Day!

-- Incidentally, "Something Smells Gooo-ooood" was also the sentiment embroidered on the apron that Morris Fletcher as Mulder wore for cooking his dinner for Dana in "Dreamland II," but it was a different apron (Morris' is white, Scully's is black or green). I have a feeling that phrase has some sort of meaning around the XF set and is thus an in-joke, but I don't know what it is.

-- I understand that Tommy's imagination made his mom kill herself, but I can't really comprehend how he could make the cat kill itself. Cats generally don't do anything you want them to do.

-- Why does Scully have Mulder's FBI ID badge? Shouldn't he have turned that in when he got canned? But I suppose I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Since it has a lovely picture of him on it, it must have been an old badge so maybe that's why it's hanging around the house. Kudos to Scully for keeping the one with the good photo, not the one they used in the credits during Season 8.

-- One quibble I do have with the episode is once again sending Scully to the Rescue (with Leyla's love interest in tow), leaving her baby behind and calling in Ma Scully for midnight Williamsitting duty. The "rescue" could have been left up to the sheriff and other law enforcement officials; but no, Scully had to ditch William, find a jeep and snow plow, and be the hero. I guess it was because she was able to suspend the laws of physics and get to Pennsylvania so darn fast.

-- Brian Poth, who played Leyla's boyfriend Gabe Rotter, recently played Tyler Jenson on CSI: Miami. Steve Ryan (Sheriff Jack Coogan) played Secretary of Defense Miles Hutchinson on 16 episodes of The West Wing.

-- Even though it was pretty obvious early on that the kid was the one conjuring up the "scary monsters," (I mean, he really had that Charlie "Calusari" Holvey evil smile down pat, didn't he?), I did like the way Doggett faked him out with the gasoline. Very clever.

-- I thought "Scary Monsters" was one of the better episodes of Season 9 (and it included lots of Mulder references which I loved and wish we had gotten more of in Season 8 -- see the pics below). Many Mulder fans were disappointed that Leyla (who we thought of as "our" representative) seemed to have lost her Mulder-crush at the end and gave Doggett props for his "lack of imagination." Also her line that the magic "still happens" in the basement office seemed to be another jab at our loyalty to the old team. But as I said above, I think this episode finally acknowledges, albeit a bit begrudgingly, that Chris & Company knew we were right all along -- the new kids were never going to be successful with the ghosts of Mulder and Scully hanging around; the Mulder & Scully era should have ended in Scully's bedroom at the end 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 "Scary Monsters"!

Polly