REPOST -- CTP Episode of the Day - 03.24.06 - Unruhe

FYI: Periodically, I will edit and repost the CTPs that were done early on last year, since they were done a bit differently when we started out. Then the CTPs should be a bit more consistent. Hope you enjoy them!

Today's Cherished Episode: Unruhe (4x02)
Original Air Date: October 27, 1996
Written By: Vince Gilligan
Directed By: Rob Bowman

Someone is abducting, mutilating, and murdering the inhabitants of a small town. The primary evidence is a series of photographs depicting the killer's psychotic fantasies.

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"For truly to pursue monsters, we must understand them. We must venture into their minds. Only in doing so, do we risk letting them venture into ours?"

Some "Unruhe" Tidbits & Musings:

-- The episode title is German for "unrest."

-- In one interesting respect, "Unruhe" marked a departure for The X-Files: It was the very first episode -- one of several during the 1996-97 season -- that was aired out of order in the series' production schedule. "Unruhe" was the second episode filmed and the fourth episode aired, part of an elaborate flip-flop designed to get the best episodes into the time slots most likely to attract new viewers -- in the series' new home on Sunday night.

-- "We knew at the beginning of the year that we were switching from Fridays to Sunday nights, but it was only after we started shooting that we knew we would be making the switch during the fourth week," said co-producer Frank Spotnitz. "We wanted to pick an episode that was particularly successful as a script and that would be an excellent representative of the show -- and we made the decision that 'Unruhe' would be a better episode than 'Teliko' for that purpose."

-- The date stamp on Scully's report matched the originally planned air date for this episode: October 11, 1996.

-- The Season 4 DVDs include a deleted scene from "Unruhe" which would have been the first scene after the opening credits. In the scene, Mulder had a brief conversation with a doctor about his mother; and after he hung up, Scully asked him how his mother was doing. Mulder replied that she was doing better, but they were going to keep her in the hospital a little while longer because she still couldn't remember much. Had the episode aired in its regular order, it would have been the first episode following the season premiere, "Herrenvolk," in which Mrs. Mulder was healed by the Alien Bounty Hunter, and it would have been quite logical for the conversation about Mrs. Mulder's health to take place. But when the episode was moved back a few weeks, it was decided to cut the very short exchange.

-- Interestingly, viewers criticized the fact that nothing was said about Mrs. Mulder's recovery until almost midway through the fourth season -- in another Vince Gilligan episode, "Paper Hearts" when the character made an appearance. It was touches like those that earned Gilligan the nickname "The King of Continuity."

-- The seed for the episode itself was planted years before, when the young Vince Gilligan -- whose childhood obsessions, like those of many associated with The X-Files, have certainly paid off handsomely -- sent away for a Time-Life mail-order book chronicling the lives of mass murderers and serial killers.

-- "I remember a whole chapter on a man named Howard Unruh, the first modern mass murderer," said the writer and co-producer. "In the late 1940s, this guy decided to take a walk through his New Jersey neighborhood with a Luger that he'd brought home from the war. He shot, I think it was, 13 people in 12 minutes. Then they took him away with a butterfly net. But the capper on the story was that the book mentioned that 'unruhe' means 'unrest' in German. I thought: 'Gee, you couldn't make that up, could you?'"

-- Young Gilligan was also fascinated by several Life magazine stories on Ted Serios, the "thought photographer" whom Mulder mentioned in the episode.

-- Serios's fame was bolstered by the endorsement of a Denver based psychiatrist, Jule Eisenbud, who wrote a book called The World of Ted Serios: "Thoughtographic" Studies of an Extraordinary Mind (1967) in which he argued for the reality of Serios's feats, which were dismissed as a simple hoax by most educated people. Eisenbud's faith in Serios was extreme, and even as late as the 1980s, Eisenbud claimed that previously unidentified thoughtographs were images of Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. Pictures of Ganymede had only become available a year before thanks to Voyager 2. "Unfortunately," wrote Eisenbud, "I couldn't get an astronomer or optical scientist to agree."

-- Chris Carter was also interested in Ted Serios but more so in the relationship between Eisenbud and Serios detailed in Eisenbud's book. In 1999, Carter signed a deal with Dimension Films to write an adaptation of the book and perhaps to direct the resulting film.

-- When the X-Files ended in 2002, Carter mentioned that one of his upcoming projects was the Serios movie and he noted that he and Frank Spotnitz were still writing the script for the project. In a separate interview, Frank Spotnitz said that writing the script was extremely difficult because it was based on a true story and "Chris really wants to be faithful to the characters and the situation." He noted that he and Carter were glad that the people at Dimension Films "are really patient"; and confirmed that the movie would focus more on the relationships between the characters than the real mystery behind Ted Serios's gift.

-- The dental angle, Gilligan admitted, was pretty much a no-brainer considering many people's terror of the whole subject. (The writer himself had no fear of the dentist's drill, he claimed. However, his own dentist, Dr. Michael Kilbourne, greeted him at his first six-month checkup after "Unruhe" aired by placing a brand-new "Twilite Sleep" sign on his office wall.)

-- The choice of Pruitt Taylor Vince was an easy one. A well-known character actor who had been veering away -- in films like Heavy and Beautiful Girls -- from pathetic misfit and deranged-killer roles, Vince had been approached to guest star during The X-Files' first season, but had rejected the role as too small. "The first time I saw him was in the movie Jacob's Ladder," said Gilligan, "and he stood out even though he had a very small part. I wrote the part in 'Unruhe' with him in mind, and when the casting department contacted him, luckily he was available and wanted to do it."

-- The plasterer's stilts that Schnauz wore in the episode were notoriously dangerous; when Gilligan, taking personal responsibility for his plot device, tried them out in a Vancouver parking lot, he made sure to have "a bunch of Teamsters" standing around to catch him. Most of the on-camera stilt-walking scenes were done by a stuntman. Vince was actually shown on camera standing on the stilts in only one shot, and then he was held upright by a safety cable attached to the ceiling. It was later erased in postproduction by the visual effects department. In all the other shots, Vince was shown in close-up, and then "he was standing on apple boxes," said Gilligan.

-- Schnauz's terrifying thought Polaroids were posed and photographed by the show's prop department; copies and outtakes -- especially of Gillian Anderson -- were later displayed prominently in the prop truck that followed the company on location.

-- The brand name on the druggist's instant camera, "ETAP," was the last name of assistant prop master Jim Pate spelled backward.

-- The razor-sharp lobotomy instrument, or leucotome, used in the show was constructed from scratch and his own imagination by props master Ken Hawryliw. "We called around to various doctors and mental hospitals," he said, "but nobody was willing to lend us one or even tell me what they looked like. I guess that they weren't really proud of the whole concept."

-- The leucotome was designed by Dr. Kenneth G. McKenzie in the 1940s to bring precision to prefrontal leucotomy, or lobotomy. Scully said that Mary had a transorbital lobotomy which was previously known as an ice pick lobotomy and involved inserting the leucotome through the eye sockets.

-- When playing the scene in which Scully was held captive in Schnauz's dental chair, perceptive viewers noted that Gillian Anderson seemed to come out of the Twilite Sleep zone a little too fast. "I played it the first time going in and out of consciousness and struggling more with my attempt to make him let me go," said Anderson. "I actually felt very good about that scene, but we reshot it because Chris felt he wanted the drugs to wear off faster and me to be more aware of the danger."

-- Still, Anderson felt her scenes with Vince, whom she admired as a person and an actor, were on the whole successful -- and that their work was rewardingly intense. The proof of that, she added, was when she later went to the movies to see Heavy, in which Vince starred as a gentle and lovelorn pizza chef. "It was a little hard for me to let go of the concept of his being an evil person," she said. "Whenever I saw him on the screen, I felt he was going to swing a pickax at somebody at any moment."

-- In the episode, Anderson was proudest of the scene in which, while talking on the cell phone with Mulder, she looked at Schnauz on his stilts and figured out that he was the murderer. "I loved the concept of that," she said.

-- Whether intentional or not, when Schnauz told Scully she was inhabited by the howlers, he pointed to the exact spot where Scully would find a cancerous tumor later in Season 4.

-- The X-File in this episode was interesting, but the episode itself was less about the X-File and more about the journey of Dana Scully since her own abduction two years earlier. Since her abduction, she hid her fears away behind a facade of strength, determined not to show her weakness or frailties to anyone. This was her defense mechanism, her way of keeping the demons and monsters from invading her conscious mind. Gillian Anderson showed us that Scully was clearly bothered by this case -- the abduction and medical torture of women -- that hit frighteningly close to home, yet she doesn't want to pursue it further. She only allowed herself to pursue the importance of learning "why" monsters do what they do when faced with becoming Gerry's latest victim. Gillian Anderson does a wonderful job of giving viewers a glimpse of both aspects of Scully's personality.

-- Duchovny also did a fine job in this episode, playing the "Grotesque" game again as he embraced the killer's mind in spite of Scully's disinterest. Mulder's profiling skills were often buried under the less challenging aspects of his character, and so it was always interesting to see him apply those skills to a case that played to his strengths. The scene where Mulder's panic built -- from the subtle shift of his eyes when he viewed the "Gerry-ized" photo of Scully to his frantic yet fruitless chase of the hijacked Explorer -- perfectly conveyed the depth of his emotional attachment to his partner. The scene where he scoured the photo was equally impressive as he locked on to every possible shred of evidence to give him direction, and showed his frustration that the "leaps" didn't come so easily when he was out of his mind with worry. Duchovny showed us quite clearly that before Scully was taken, understanding Gerry was a matter of professional interest; after she was taken, it was critical to her survival and his.

-- Scully being saved was never in doubt; but the "rescue" scene with Mulder trying to break through the door with his bare hands, screaming her name as she screamed his, was a wonderfully emotional MSR moment.

-- There are shallow moments aplenty in "Unruhe," but one in particular comes to mind. When Mulder and Scully find the body in the woods and Scully kneels down right in front of Mulder to take a look ... well, if you're watching Scully at that moment, you're not looking in the right place. < veg >

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-- Before his X-Files appearance, Pruitt Taylor Vince (Gerry Schnauz) had small roles in major films and major roles in small films (including those mentioned above), as well as some guest starring gigs on television. Just after his X-Files guest role, he played serial killer Clifford Banks on the critically acclaimed drama series Murder One. For that role, he won a 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. His acting career has been going strong ever since. He recently had a recurring role as Mose Manuel in HBO's Deadwood, and this past year guest-starred on Fox's House. Vince has nystagmus, a condition which causes a person's eyes to move involuntarily.

-- Once & Future Retreads: Walter Marsh (Druggist) was the Judge in "Miracle Man" and the Pathologist in "Christmas Carol." Bob Dawson (Iskendarian) was Phil Rich in "Schizogeny." (Both actors have since passed away.) John Sampson (Cop) was Marksman #1 in "Duane Barry," a Sentry in "Redux," and the 1st Uniform in "Travelers." (Sampson also worked as a Stuntman in "D.P.O.")

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(Thanks to chrisnu and gertie 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 "Unruhe"!

Polly