Welcome to broadcast TV, 1993. The X-Files, destined to last nine seasons, debuts on September 10 of that year. And what a ride it is!
This first episode starts without the now-familiar theme music, and the end-credits roll in silence also.
We begin with a mystery in the woods, where a teenager is found dead. The girl has two mysterious marks on her back. Enter the FBI.
As is often in the series, no one actually calls in the bureau, and no mention is made of how exactly Mulder catches wind of the situation. Somehow, he just noticed the details, specifically the marks on the dead girl’s back, that mirror some other cases he has seen.
After the opening in the woods, we go Agent Dana Scully. She goes to the office of a higher-up, who gives us our rundown of who Dana is, and what she’s about to embark upon, which is supposed to be watching Mulder and debunking his work. However, she sees through his enigmatic persona to find the brilliant young man within.
When the two characters first meet, Mulder’s wearing glasses. I’m not sure yet, but I think it’s one of the only times in the series he does that. Some of Mulder’s other traits come forth in this first outing, such as his penchant for sunflower seeds. He also talks about the disappearance of his sister years earlier, which we later learn is one of his main driving forces. He wants to know what happened to her.
Flying for the FBI must be nice, as Mulder got two seats on the plane to Oregon, and is laying across them on the flight out. I can remember a few times when I wish I could have that much room!
Mulder calls his new partner DOCTOR Scully alot in this episode, something else he doesn’t do often. There’s a great scene where the pair have to dodge a rolling coffin! Wild!
Agent Scully’s hair is longer in this first episode than in most of the rest of the series. It’s noticeably shorter in the next episode, in fact. And redder. Here she’s almost a dark blonde, with barely a hint of red at all. And in what was most certainly a nod to all the young men who were watching this TV debut, we get our first bra-and-panties Scully! Wasn’t expecting that, at least not right off the bat. We get Scully in both a pantsuit and skirt in this episode, so they’re easy to compare. Personally, I think she looks smarter in the pantsuit, but that’s just me.
This first episode demonstrates how the series will go on for many seasons, with Mulder presenting the paranormal point of view and Scully trying to offer the more rational explanation. It’s a great idea for a show, and they picked two great actors to bring it to life.
At one point, the agents are told one of the teenagers, Billy Miles, is in a “waking coma”. Over twenty years in healthcare and several internet searches later, I still don’t know exactly what that’s supposed to be. Apparently its the same as a regular coma, with your eyes open instead of closed.(okay)
The hardest scene to film in this one is easy to recognize. They’re outside their car, in the pouring rain(and it is pouring. Makes me wonder if it really was raining when they filmed that, or if they just turned on the sprinklers really heavy). Either way they’re sopping wet, and their breath is just shooting out of their mouths. It looks soooo cold! Later on in a cemetery it’s raining too, but you can’t see their breath as well.
Mulder alludes to a connection he has in Congress, a person we actually get to meet later in the series.
Close to the end, the boy in the “waking coma” wakes up. A detail crops up here that I’ve wondered about. Near the end, the boy Billy Miles(who has a greater role later on) is holding another young woman as if he’s offering her to the bright light shining above them. The camera zooms in on the boy’s back, where he has the marks on his back, same as the other kids. The light flashes, and when we can see again, the marks on his back are gone. They make a point of showing you this. But the agents never mention it, and I don’t recall it being brought up again when Billy makes his appearances later in the series. Weird.
The show’s recurring “villain”, if you will, whom most everyone calls The Smoking Man, makes his first appearance, but he doesn’t have anything to say. Actually he does, he whisperers something to one of the FBI suits at the end of the episode, but we don’t get to hear it. We do see more of him though, and get a glimpse of what he will become, and how high his authority goes. At the very end of the episode, he takes an “implant” Agent Scully found during the show and puts it in this huge filing room beneath the Pentagon. They never really say what agency specifically he works for, but he seems to come and go as he pleases throughout the entire government.
It’s a great first episode that introduces a great show. A show that came out at just the right time, with just the right actors to play the parts. All in all, the X-Files is a great adventure, and even now presents a great look at what might have happened if there was an impending alien invasion during the ninties, and only two lonely FBI agents actually knew about it. Though they couldn’t prove any of it, and one of them continually doubts what she sees.
Next week, Season One Episode Two, entitled Deep Throat.
See You in the Future,
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