CTP Episode of the Day - 06.20.06

Today's Cherished Episode: Without (8x02)
Original Air Date: November 12, 2000
Written By: Chris Carter
Directed By: Kim Manners

As the search for Mulder intensifies in the Arizona desert, Gibson Praise leads Scully to believe that she is truly closer to her target.

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

"I can't take the chance that I'm never going to see him again."

Some "Without" Tidbits & Musings:

-- Much of this episode was filmed in Anza Borego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs, California, during one of the worst heat waves in recent memory. Daytime temperatures averaged around 130 degrees and even at night the temperature never got below 100 degrees. The Park is the largest state park in California, extending over 900 square miles, with elevations ranging from 6,000-foot peaks to land only 15 feet above sea level. The Mulder Morphin' Bounty Hunter made his leap in an area known as Split Mountain.

-- The Bounty Hunter's flying leap was another of those patented Chris Carter implausible plot devices, in this case necessitated by his quite literal "cliff hanger." I mean, it's quite unlikely that the Bounty Hunter, who killed many people in many different ways over the course of seven years, would be so mortified by Manly Man Agent Doggett's "Let him go, or I will be compelled to use my weapon," that he would let Gibson go and hurl himself off a cliff. We all know the Bounty Hunter could have squashed him like a bug, but I guess that would have put a kink in the Master Plan for Season 8 before it ever got started.

-- Putting the broken arm back into place made me wince, but not nearly as much as the finger-breaking in "The Pine Bluff Variant."

-- I have to say it was quite thoughtful of the Bounty Hunter to morph himself into one of our most beloved Mulder outfits.

-- And everybody gets to be the Bounty Hunter in this episode! DD and GA really have the icy stare down pat, but the ABH turned into a little chatterbox when he morphed into Skinner. He must have been working on his Skinner impression for the last seven years and finally got a chance to use it.

-- X-Phile TLynn was lucky enough to visit the set during the filming of this episode and reported that the classroom science lab set was full of in-jokes and 1013 humor. Notices on the wall included lectures being given by Chris Carter, and the lists of students signed up for activities included the names of crew members and others involved in making the episode, including Kim Manners.

-- Scully's outfit in "Without" is quite close to the Mulder Hunting Outfit she wore in "The Sixth Extinction," complete with push-up bra but sans machete.

-- I often wonder how much David Duchovny got paid per word for these two episodes.

-- But he earned every penny! The official magazine reported that when David saw the script for "Within/Without" and realized he was going to be displayed in this chair nearly naked, he spent some extra time in the gym in order to get buff. On behalf of Phemale Philes everywhere, David, we thank you for your sacrifice!!

-- Scully is definitely the superwoman in this episode. She's pregnant, wearing three-inch heels, and has no water, yet is able to stay about 50 yards behind a kid on a bicycle in the middle of the desert and she barely breaks a sweat.

-- Oopsie! How did the kids get the trap door covered with dirt again after they were inside the bunker?

-- A nice bit of continuity when Gibson points out to Scully that she didn't exactly do a bang-up job of protecting him before.

-- Sal Landi appeared as Agent Laundau (the agent Scully Bounty Hunter tried to kill). He appeared in an uncredited role in "Closure" and would return in Season 9 to play Nicholas Regali, the man involved in the death of Agent Doggett's son, in "Release."

-- Agent Landau may have been named for Martin Landau, who played Alvin Kurtzweill in "Fight the Future."

-- We saw that Skinner/Scully Mexican stand-off before -- in "Paper Clip."

-- All these years we thought you needed a "plam" to kill an alien, but all you really needed was "Deadeye Dana," the Annie Oakley of the FBI.

-- I've never quite understood why the toxic green alien goo affects people sometimes and not other times. After many years of study, I've finally come to the conclusion that perhaps the green goo loses its lethal properties once the alien has expired. Any green goo expelled why the alien is still alive causes the eye burning thing.

-- I personally didn't have a problem with Scully breaking down and crying after she offed the ABH, or with Doggett awkwardly trying to provide comfort (that's just the kind of manly man he is, after all). Scully wasn't crying because she was weak or because she was going all "girly" on us or even because she was just smashed into a big glass case. She was crying because she just gunned down her last best chance to find her constant and touchstone at least for the time being. And even though she was trying to hide it, it was all too overwhelming. Also, she probably realized she was going to have to investigate a bunch of boring MOTWs until she got a solid lead on Mulder's whereabouts again. Believe me. I wanted to cry too.

-- Doggett lost some Manly Man points for buying that flowery card for Scully. (But the "it's who takes the worst beating that counts" comment was a nice Manly recovery!)

-- Once again Chris Carter participated in a campaign of misinformation; all along he told us that Doggett would not be a replacement for Mulder, nor would he be Scully's partner, but by episode's end, he's been made both.

-- The final scene of Mulder and the Multiple Bounty Hunters was accomplished using a motion control camera -- the same technique used to create the cloned boys in the beginning of "Herrenvolk." A computerized module runs the camera through the same motion time after time, a new element is added after each shot, and then the shots are blended together to create the scene. The ABH was placed in a different location in each camera pass, and that's how the effects crew was able to clone the Bounty Hunter.

-- Leaving me with the vision of Mulder in that chair committed the cardinal XF sin: It made me more interested in what was happening off screen than what was happening on screen. Why was Mulder abducted in the first place? Why did the aliens want Mulder and Gibson and others like them? What were they doing to Mulder? What was the purpose of the tests being done on him? Were they trying to learn more about humans, much as we dissect frogs, or were they torturing him just for the heck of it? (Not that I think having Mulder stripped naked and restrained is a bad hobby! < veg >) The set up left me caring more about Mulder than the efforts to find him; but I guess since all the good stuff on the show always happened offscreen, I shouldn't have been surprised.

-- In the end, the two-parter pretty much established the theme (for me and many others) for Season 8: It's Not So Much About the Search for Mulder as it is About Biding Your Time Until Mulder Returns. "Within" and "Without" weren't really about finding Mulder, or looking for him for that matter. They were to establish Scully as the New Believer (albeit, reluctantly), and to introduce the New Skeptic, John Doggett. So if you look at it that way, "Within/Without" were successful -- we learned that Scully is willing to put aside everything that makes her who she is to believe in extreme possibilities because she has to in order to find Mulder. And we learn that Doggett is plenty skeptical for the both of them.

-- Mulder didn't have much to do in "Within/Without" but it was just the beginning of a Mulder drought that would last until the exact mid-point of the season. As it turned out, we wouldn't see him again until "The Gift" -- conveniently the first week of ratings sweeps. But I did watch all the ones in between, because like Scully, I couldn't take the chance that I was never going to see him again -- or miss a Mulder Mention (which were also pretty few and far between, as it turned out).

Please share your first impressions, favorite (or cringe-worthy!) moments, classic lines, favorite fanfic, nagging questions, repeated viewing observations, etc., as today we celebrate "Without"!

Polly

P.S. The CTP discussions for "Herrenvolk," "Schizogeny," "Shadows," and "Requiem" were lost in the shuffle.