CTP Episode of the Day - 06.08.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Vienen (8x16)
Original Air Date: April 29, 2001
Written By: Steve Maeda
Directed By: Rod Hardy

Mulder and Doggett are reluctantly thrown together to investigate several deaths on an oil rig. Mulder becomes convinced that the rig is really carrying the alien black oil.

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

DOGGETT: I never would have believed it. These stories about you.
MULDER: Really, what stories are those?
DOGGETT: That you can find a conspiracy at a church picnic.
MULDER: What church?

Some "Vienen" Tidbits & Musings:

-- At the beginning of Season 8, the X-Files' locations person, Ilt Jones, made note of several places where he thought it would be really cool for the X-Files to shoot during the season. One of those places was a big oil rig off of Oxnard. Late in the season, writer Steve Maeda was trying to come up with a story idea and remembered the picture of the oil rig -- and thus "Vienen" was born. "Vienen" wasn't just an opportunity to use the oil rig location; it also served as a "buddy" episode for Mulder and Doggett (complete with extended pissing contest), it gave Scully something meaningful to do (since her 18th or 19th month of pregnancy limited her participation out in the field), and it set the stage for the "passing of the X-Files torch" from the old guard to the new. (In other words, it was an opportunity for the old master to pass along the meaning of The Truth to his apprentice in order to save the people and restore freedom to the galaxy!)

-- "Vienen" is Spanish for "They Come."

-- This episode was directed by Rod Hardy, who also directed Season 8's "Roadrunners" and "Salvage."

-- The voice of the hockey game announcer in the teaser is Rich Marotta, an Emmy-award winning L.A. sports announcer and a well-known boxing analyst.

-- Sweetest Mulderism: "When he gets old enough, you tell the kid I went down swingin'."

-- There's a great blooper from this episode during one of the scenes when Mulder and Doggett are walking/climbing around the oil rig. While delivering his lines, Robert Patrick calls David Duchovny "Agent Scully." Duchovny amusingly shouts, "I'M MULDER!!" to which Robert Patrick replies, "What the f*** did I say?"

-- Oopsie! In the scene were Mulder and Doggett are discovering the properties of the black oil, the film is quite obviously reversed at one point so that Duchovny's mole jumps from the right side of his face to the left side and back again (as does the shadow that is falling across his face in the scene).

-- Oopsie, again! In the scene where Mulder saves Doggett from the crew chief, Mulder very noisily drops the steel bar he hit the man with when he helps Agent Doggett off the floor; but in the next shot it magically reappears in his hand.

-- As Doggett is fixing the radio, this is the second time that Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre by Richard Wagner has been used in the show; the first was in "Bad Blood."

-- The explosion and collapse of the oil rig was totally computer generated. The helicopter was filmed flying in front of the real oil well off the coast of California; the collapsing cranes on top of the rig were computer generated images; and the fire was added by filming various fire patterns in the studio and by burning a miniature model of part of the oil rig. For the shots of Mulder and Doggett jumping off the rig, the two actors were filmed separately in slow motion jumping down about 20 feet on what is called a descender line, a cable they are attached to. ("It's a little scary but was kind of fun for them," said Paul Rabwin.) The shots of the two actors were then put on a split screen side by side, and a composite shot with the exploding oil rig in the background was created.

-- As Mulder and Doggett prepare to leap from the burning rig, they hesitate and agree to go "on two." According to supervising producer Paul Rabwin, this was an homage to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (Too bad one of them didn't say, "The fall will probably kill us.")

-- The producers gave kudos to actor M. C. Gainey, who played the oil rig crew chief Bo Taylor, for the scene where the black oil leaves his body and seeps into the radio operator. A special effects shot was used for the oil coming out of the actor's eyes and nose, but Gainey did have to hold the thick black unpleasant liquid in his mouth and then gag it out onto the other actor. By the way, if Gainey looks somewhat familiar, it might be because most recently he's been seen as the menacing bearded man (whom Kate de-bearded in the season finale) who is one of The Others on Lost.

-- Actor Miguel Sandoval, who played Martin Ortega, the oil company vice president, is now a cast member of the hit NBC series Medium. He plays Alison Dubois's boss, D.A. Manuel Devalos.

-- Fired or not, I like the way Mulder went out of the FBI: in style, head held high, no regrets; walking out without looking back, leaving it all behind him (including the picture of Samantha on the desk). It said to me that Mulder was ready to leave his old life behind and finally move forward -- forward to a life with Scully and their child.

-- "Vienen" was one of my favorite episodes from Season 8 (and of course it became the second episode of the season to start with the letter "V" -- after seven years with no "V" episodes to complete the X-Files alphabet game). I thought Duchovny and Patrick worked well together, and I thought they definitely had chemistry -- the very thing I felt Robert Patrick and Gillian Anderson lacked. Yes, "Vienen" was designed to be a "buddy" episode, a chance for the two adversaries to bond, and to pave the way for Mulder's exit from the FBI and ultimately the show. But DD and RP gave us a nice piece about two very different men who approach the same problem in very different ways, yet reach the same basic conclusion. Along the way they discover a little more about each other, and find that they can *learn* from each other. They don't become "best buds" (which I'm sure TPTB were tempted to have happen), but they learn to tolerate and gain a certain level of respect for each other. All in all, I wouldn't have minded seeing a few more episodes like "Vienen" in 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 "Vienen"!

Polly